Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world–a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

I am having such a hard time figuring out how I feel about this book. I’m just going to list it all out.

The Starless Sea was probably my most anticipated book of the year (I’m sure the same can be said for many of you, as well). In a year where most of my anticipated reads have left me terribly disappointed, I was super nervous to start it. However, I could tell right at the beginning that Morgenstern’s writing style was just as beautiful as I remembered it.

-The writing really was beautiful and magical and descriptive, all the things that helped make me fall in love with The Night Circus. There was just something missing for me, though. I think, despite how beautifully written it was, I never really got very invested in the story. It is a story within a story, within many stories. It’s hard to wrap my head around it and I’m not even going to try to explain it. The only parts I looked forward to were the chapters with Zachary Ezra Rawlins (his full name is used a lot). I kind of wanted to skim through all the other stories, but it didn’t take long to realize all the other stories were integral to the plot and you have to pay attention to them. Even if you don’t really understand some of them. Or maybe that’s just me?

-I did really like Zachary. I thought he was a very empathetic character and I was very interested to see what happened with him. However, he was the only character that I really cared about. Dorian was ok. Kat was ok, but seemed a little unnecessary? Allegra, Maribel, the Keeper, and the rest didn’t really do anything for me. I think my lack of connection with the characters kept me from having much of an emotional connection with the book.

-I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book. It seemed a little too long at times and also not quite long enough. I didn’t care for the ending. I felt like I needed a little more “this is what happened to Zachary Ezra Rawlins” than what we got. I liked it, but not as much as The Night Circus and not as much as I was expecting to. However, I will definitely read whatever Morgenstern writes next, even if it takes another 8 years.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR. My list is comprised of ARCs, anticipated fall releases, and a couple others that I’m hoping to just be able to make time for soon.

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1. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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2. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout

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3. Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

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4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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5. Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

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6. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

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7. Endgame (Fawkes and Baxter #3) by Daniel Cole

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8. The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

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9. Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

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10. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

What are you reading this Fall?

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2019

I’ve seen this floating around lately and thought it was about time I did it, too.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2019

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In the Dark (DI Adam Fawley #2) by Cara Hunter

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019

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On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum. I actually just had this from the library, but didn’t get to it before it expired.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Biggest Disappointment

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. After The Hating Game, I just expected so much more from Thorne’s next book.

Biggest Surprise

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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. This was not at all what I thought it was going to be, but I still really enjoyed reading it.

Favorite New Author

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Beth O’Leary. I loved The Flatshare and can’t wait to read more form this author.

Newest Fictional Crush

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Tucker from Just one of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen.

Newest Favorite Character

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Rob from Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Book That Made You Cry

I don’t think any book has so far.

Book That Made You Happy

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Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne. I wanted this story since reading the first book in the series.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

If I’ve seen any, I haven’t remembered them.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year

My 2018 Recap post

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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I think In the Dark is the only book I’ve bought myself this year, thus it’s the most beautiful.

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year

Basically everything on this post

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

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1. Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Publishing July 16, 2019.

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2. Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown. Publishing July 30, 2019.

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3. Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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4. The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians #1) by Dani Pettrey. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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5. The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter. Publishing August 20, 2019.

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6. Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Publishing September 17, 2019.

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7. Where Do I Begin? by Elvis Duran. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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9. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Publishing October 8, 2019.

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10. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Publishing November 5, 2019.

What are your most anticipated releases?

2018 End of Year Survey

This annual survey was developed by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner.

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**2018 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 147
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Thriller and Romance/Contemporary
**These are the stats as of 12/26/18, it’s likely to go up by one or two before the end of the year

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

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I can’t pick one, so here are the three that I gave 4.5 Stars in 2018: Close to Home by Cara Hunter, Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies. I absolutely adored My Lady Jane and I expected to love this one just as much, but it was probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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I mean come on, does Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter look like a book I would enjoy? But I totally did enjoy it. I read it in a day and laughed all the way through it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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So I don’t actually feel like I pushed many books on people this year. I will say that I told my mother about Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas and then when I started sharing some quotes with her she said she wanted to read it so I bought it for her for Christmas.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

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Started: Beartown by Fredrik Backman, Sequel:  What You want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka, Ender On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge #3) by Denise Hunter.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Cara Hunter and Fredrik Backman

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. I don’t read a lot of horror and while I had my issues with this one, I mostly enjoyed it.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

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I can’t really think of any books that were really action-packed, so I’m going with one of my re-reads for this year, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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Beartown

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Benji from Beartown

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

I mean, not to sound like a broken record, but Beartown. 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

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There were a lot of good lessons in the The Faithful devotional.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Brandie bought me a copy for my birthday in 2017 and it was almost a year later before I read it and I really enjoyed it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“When we decide that boundaries are needed, they can be hard to set – and maintain – if we doubt ourselves and our assessment of the situation. Survivors often wonder if they are overreacting or being too sensitive…Another reason setting boundaries is difficult to do? We internally worry that we are withholding forgiveness and staying resentful. Boundaries have nothing to do with forgiveness or resentment. They have everything to do with the quality of our interactions with the people in our lives.” – Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

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Shortest: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Longest: Oblivion by JLA (this was a re-read!)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

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The subtle twist at the end of Our House by Louise Candlish is probably my favorite shock of the year.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

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Bellarke forever!!! This is more about the show than the book, but I’m counting it.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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The group of friends in My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Have to go with Beartown again. I wouldn’t have ever picked it up if Brandie hadn’t lent it to me.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

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Chase from One Small Thing by Erin Watt.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Close to Home by Cara Hunter.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

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Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

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Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Beartown and Us Against You

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi. I was so excited for this series to continue, but the majority of this book was just the characters taking major steps back and rehashing old drama. It seemed like really lazy writing and it made me mad because I expect more from this author.

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1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

I always feel too bad to answer these questions. Add to that I always forget how long I’ve been following someone, so I’m going to skip this question. I love you all, though!

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

This beautiful book-themed cake my former co-worker made me for my goodbye party.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

This year I went to events for Linda Castillo, Karin Slaughter, and Linwood Barclay and they were all fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

I hit over 1,000 blog posts and reached over 1,000 followers.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Due to real life, I ended up taking two month-long (or almost month-long) hiatuses.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

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My review of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I mean, honestly, all of them.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I don’t really feel like I made a bookish discovery this year?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did the Good Reads reading challenge with a goal of 105 books and I surpassed that (147 at the time of writing this, but it will probably go up before the end of the year).

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

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I don’t think it will be my number one priority, but I really wanted to read Archenemies by Marissa Meyer. I got it from the library, but my hold came in at a bad time and it expired before I got to it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

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Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Review more books. It feels like I only properly review ARCS and a few select other books and I want to get back into reviewing the majority of what I read again.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Top 5 Wednesday: Most Misleading Synopses

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This week’s Top 5 Wednesday is: Most Misleading Synopses. Ever read a synopsis and think it sounds dumb, but then you read the book years later and it’s actually amazing? Ever read a synopsis and think it sounds amazing, but it actually turns out to be nothing like the synopsis? Ever have a synopsis spoil something that happens 75% of the way into the book so you just spend most of your time waiting for that one element you already know? This is the topic for you.

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1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I thought this was a YA Paranormal Romance with action-packed magical dueling. Um, no. Not at all. It’s amazing, but the synopsis didn’t get me to read it, it was all the great reviews that did.

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2. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig. I expected a lot of mystery and suspense with the main character’s big secret to play a major factor in it. Instead his secret had nothing to do with the mystery and took up a lot of focus of the plot (but it was much more well done than the mystery side of the plot, so…).

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3. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. It took about 200 pages to get to the part with Lila that’s mentioned in the synopsis.

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4. The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. Book comparisons will always disappoint me. This was compared to The Night Circus and is not at all accurate. Also, I thought it was going to be really surprising and shocking based on the synopsis, but I found it predictable and kind of dull.

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5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The synopsis makes it sound like the romance in the book is way more prominent than it is. In reality it’s a much more interesting book than that.

What are some book synopses that you’ve found misleading?

Bookish Book Lover Tag

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I saw this over on A Novel Glimpse (you should check out her blog, btw) awhile back and thought it looked like a fun tag, so I’m stealing it 🙂

What book are you currently reading?

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I’m currently not reading anything, but my next read will either be This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, which I just got approved from NetGalley for (I’m so excited!) or The Problem with Forever by JLA, which I just got from the library (finally!)

What’s the last book you finished?

Paper Princess by Erin Watt. This is definitely not the type of book I usually like, but it was a super addicting read. I’m kind of eager to read the next book (out later this month). Though this is a YA book, I WOULD NOT recommend it for YA readers. It reads way more adult.

Favourite book you read this year?

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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown. The whole Red Rising trilogy is amazing, but this one is my favorite of the three.

What genre have you read most this year?

Contemporary

What genre have you read least this year?

Historical Fiction

What genre do you want to read more of?

Mystery/Suspense. It’s one of my favorite genres, but I haven’t read a ton of it this year yet.

How many books have you read this year, and what’s your goal?

My goal is 75 and I’ve read 69. I should probably up my goal.

What’s the last book you bought?

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Imposter by Susanne Winnacker and Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I was having a bad day at work and walked down to the Dollar Tree that’s in my work plaza for a break and picked these books up on a total whim. Imposter was pretty decent (though I later found out the author decided not to finish the series, so that kind of pissed me off). I haven’t read Messy yet, but I after I bought it I realized it’s by the same authors as The Royal We, so I have high hopes for it.

What book are you saving up to buy next?

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Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo. I’m planning on seeing her in a couple weeks at one of my local libraries and usually buy the book there so I can get it signed.

How many books did you check out last library visit?

I use the e-library, so I usually just get one at time – whenever my hold on a book comes in

What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

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I am dying for Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

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I think that The Hunger Games, though kind of old news these days, has mass appeal to all ages – every single person in my family has read this series and enjoyed it (that includes a brother in his 20s and dad in his 60s). For YA/Fantasy/Paranormal enthusiasts, I think everyone needs to read The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan. Great characters and witty writing.

Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more?

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Can Erin Morgenstern PLEASE write another book? The Night Circus is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and I just need more from her!

A few books your heart adores?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Unspoken by Sarah Reese Brennan

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

I’m sad that Six of Crows is only a duology.

What books are on your wish-list?

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Broken Prince by Erin Watt

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty