Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015: A Baker's Dozen of Favorite Reads! :)

Buh-Bye, 2015!! 
Don't let the door hit you on the way out. xD

Another year over, guys. And while I can't say I'm sad to see this one go (it's been a rough one), I'm still pretty flabbergasted just how ridiculously fast it went by.  Personal stuff aside, it was a pretty incredible year in my reading world! I feel like I read sort of off the grid this year, reveled in the glory of some seriously good "quiet YA" as it's now being called. Still, so many really popular books just sort of slid by me this year. Will 2016 be the year I catch them all up?  :D

Anyhow, as I always do, I'm recapping my favorites of the year---a sweet baker's dozen (because I don't know how anyone pares a list down to 5 or 10!! LOL)  These are books I read this year, regardless of their publication date ;)  Shown below in no particular order and  with an excerpt from my review, off we go! 

Each revelation was unexpected to me and spine-chilling, but in the end I just found the whole story beautiful. It's a story about finding comfort in the ugliness of the world and about love and how it can make us see things clearly (and sometimes not so clearly). The inclusion of fantastic playlist of music is one of my favorite things about this story. And as someone who has always loved the incredible jazz music of the 40s,  its the most unique and entirely wonderful depiction of heaven and the afterlife Cat Winters could have given me.
(read full review)

The two characters are developed in a way that makes you care for them and not trust them and so curious about what will happen to them all at once. The story in unrelenting in its intensity, told in line after line of beautifully crafted prose that sear themselves into your mind. There are scenes in this story that I don’t think I will ever forget. And it’s all in the way they are written---the truth seeps out in almost abstract ways that sneak up on you, then suddenly it’s crystal clear and knocking you sideways. 
(read full review)

There is a little bit of a ghostly vibe going on, as Alexis starts to see Ty everywhere, but is it real or is it her mind playing tricks? Cynthia Hand somehow manages to tackle this sensitive and all-too-real subject, while magically not giving us a story that feels all-out depressing.  With that said, I will admit that the last 20 pages, along with the author’s note at the end, had me crying buckets
(read full review)

It encompassed issues of race, privilege, sacrifice, and love in all its complicated forms.  I was so wrapped up in these characters that I didn’t want it to end, but when it did, it took my breath away. I don’t cry often at books, but with this touching and beautiful end, there was no escaping it.
 (read full review)

It’s fun to watch Miles and Alex come together and slowly start to understand each other. Alex and Miles melt the ice ( and yes, I do mean ICY) on their relationship slowly and with lots of friction and emotional hesitation and stand-offishness, but their feelings finally show through what is undoubtedly the swooniest game of 20 questions I’ve ever seen!
(read full review)

This world has mesmerized me. Gorgeous writing, at times raw and edgy and even a bit gory, and at others so lyrical that it reads like poetry.  With emotions that are expressed in wild storms, friendships that will absolutely capture your heart, and a slow simmering and dangerous romance,Storm Siren is irresistible.
(read full review)

This was such a fun read!  I was completely surprised by the amount of magical realism here as I admit I was expecting something a little more straight-forward contemporary.  The writing style was a little hard to get used to at first, but once I settled in, I loved the unique and quirky style and found it suited the story and its characters so well. 
(read full review)

Love the worldbuilding in this. What I initially thought was our own world in the 20s turned out to be something  similar but slightly more magical, two lands run by two stubborn kings and torn apart by the a war over fuel.  When Pen and Morgan make an important discovery about the precious substance, Morgan must decide if that discovery is a bargaining chip that could get them all home, or a secret that could bring their whole floating city crashing down.
 (read full review) 

*Sigh* please let there be at least a dozen more Jackaby adventures before we see the end. This is just the kind of series I adore---wonderful characters, great fun plots, and each book has its own story arc that stands on it's own.  In this second story, William Ritter has given us another wild and entertaining mystery to unfold alongside Jackaby and his assistant, Abigail.  With curious creatures, grim killings, and one bafflingly hideous knit hat, this series brings on another tale of fast-paced, laugh out loud fun. (read full review)

I have a pretty good inkling that this book will not be for everyone.  It's a strange premise. It's a bizarre atmosphere that runs through it, it's a completely mixed bag of characters...and for me, it was absolutely perfect. There are two heart-pounding romances, both of which the characters will have to work through their own doubts and hesitations to get to.  There are secrets that blow everything wide open and haunting truths that none of them will be able to hide again. (read full review)

From the very first page, we’re taken into Kymera’s world.  The storytelling feels like reading her daily journal, starting with the day she wakes up from the dead and going day by day as she rediscovers the world around her.  She’s been reanimated by her father from her own head and bits and pieces of other dead girls, along with a long barbed tail, inky black wings, and the eyes of a cat---all things she will need to carry out the mission he has intended her for.
(read full review)

I haven't reviewed these two yet, but they were both absolutely stunning and incredible reads---both easily win a spot on my favorite books that I read in 2015!!

So that wraps it up! My best-of reading for the year.
What were your favorite reads of 2015? Do we have any in common? :)


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
Wild Swans
by Jessica Spotswood

hitting shelves May 1st, 2016
from Sourcebooks
The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past….

My thoughts: I love stories like this where there is a mysterious family legacy waiting to be discovered and a complicated mother-daughter story. This sounds absolutely amazing. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {149}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

Hi, Everyone! :D  It's been awhile! I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday.  Since I haven't done a book haul post since the end of November, this is not just a weekly book haul, this is all my new goodies from the whole month of December! 
So, while I wasn't blogging, I was still online and on Twitter during this month! The left stack is all trades, and the right is all for review from the publishers.

And while I am so excited for every single one the trade books, and most of those review books (though, I will admit, some I'd never heard of until they came through my mail slot lol), these next books were ones that I absolutely flipped out when I opened those lovely packages!! :D 
 The end of one of my favorite series of all time, and four of my most anticipated books of 2016!!  *sigh* I'm so grateful, guys. SO so excited for all of these.  


For review: 

Big whopping amounts of gratitude to everyone who traded books with me this month! I have met such lovely people through trades! :D  And to the publishers who sent me wonderful things to review: Harper Collins, Penguin, Disney-Hyperion, Bloomsbury, and Merit Press. 

The Weekly Nutshell
So obviously, I sort of fell off the face of the earth this month.  It's been a tough month---hell, it's been a tough YEAR for my family--and at the end of November we got hit with one more thing. Something big and nightmarish and life-unraveling. And while I don't want to go into detail, I'll just say that I took the month to wrap my head around things and put all my energy into family.  On top of that my work schedule was completely upheaved and then there was the chaos of the holidays---it seemed like a good time to just take a break and see where everything fit back into my life. ♥  And I'm finally feeling like I'm ready to jump back in.  To wrap up the year and catch up with reviews! 

I have been doing a bit of reading, albeit slowly and when I had the energy and mindset to concentrate. Curio was a miss for me. Kind of a bummer because I was pretty excited for that one.  I did find a new favorite it Rebel of the Sands---WOW, guys, this book is so good!  And now I'm reading Their Fractured Light and loving it so far, though my heart just breaks at the thought of this incredible series coming to an end!

Also, thanks to everyone who entered my Thanksgiving-aways!! All the winners have been contacted and announced. 

It's almost time to say goodbye to 2015, guys!! That just completely blows my mind! 
Have a great week, everyone---it feels good to be back to blogging! :D

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fifth and Final Thanksgiving-Away! Win Two 2016 ARCs! INT

SO here we are at the fifth and final day of my Thanksgiving-away!!

Again, guys, this giveaway was all about thanking all the wonderful people who stop by and read this blog, my little corner of the internet.  It is work to run a blog, but it's always been a great hobby and joyful distraction for me!  I feel incredibly grateful that after 5 years it's still alive and kicking, that publishers and authors work with me and send me such lovely books, and I love being able to pass that on to the people to take the time to visit Stories & Sweeties in any way I can!

And as promised I'm closing this event out with an International Giveaway! See those lovely ARCs down below? One winner will get to choose TWO of them! :D Which would YOU choose? ;)

Enter away, no matter where you are!
Ends 12/15/15
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Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Kimberly Karalius

hitting shelves May 17th, 2016
from Swoon Reads
Aspiring love charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year-until she learns about the upcoming charm making competition. Grimbaud has just started to recover from the tyranny of Zita's love fortunes and it would be too easy for the winning charm maker to take Zita's place. The only solution is for Hijiri, with the support of her friends and fellow rebels, to win the contest herself.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri's life. Concerned that it's favorite charm maker has given up on finding a boyfriend of her own, Love takes matters into its own hands and delivers the perfect boyfriend to her in a giftwrapped box...literally.

Get ready to be charmed by this magical, quirky sequel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters.

My thoughts: Check out my review of Love Fortunes and other Disasters and you'll see why I'm so eager to get back to the world of Grimbaud!!  So excited to see this one focuses on Hijiri! :D

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What's New: December YA Release List & Giveaway!

Hello December and holidays and hot chocolate and cozy scarves and houses covered in holiday lights!!! I love this time of year, guys.  And while December is always the slowest month of the year for new book releases, there is no shortage of awesome in that list below!! I am hurriedly finishing up this post so I can run out to buy my copy of Their Fractured Light!! 

So if you're new to Stories & Sweeties, here's a little run-down of this feature: at the start of each month, I do a little thing called the "What's New List & Giveaway" where you'll find a full list of the new releases in YA for the month, and entry to the international giveaway. At the end of each month, one lucky winner will get to choose any new release as their prize!

First things first! The winner of November's giveaway is Maria V. ! Congrats!
December 2015 Releases:
Just like previous months, I've put a little lve by those books that I am really anticipating!

All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg
The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith
Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame
Forbidden by Eve Bunting 
Gateway to Fourline by Pam Brondos 
Hawthorn by Carol Goodman
Nexis by A.L. Davroe
Not If I see You First by Eric Lindstrom
Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner ♥!

Come Back to Me by Mila Gray
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood
The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill 
Wandering Star by Romina Russell

The Forsaken by C.J. Hart

Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes
Half in Love with Death by Emily Ross 
Unbound by Neal Shusterman
Untamed by A.G. Howard

How to Break a Heart by Kiera Stewart
See How They Run by Ally Carter
This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Reduced to Dust by Gabrielle Arrowsmith

Endure by Sara B. Larson
Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass

(All links go to Goodreads)
Please feel free to email me if you notice any YA titles missing! :)

Giveaway Details: 
One winner will win a YA December release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends 
December 31th, 2015 at 11:59 PM
• Must be 13 or older.
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through up to $20 value.
•Extra entries can be earned by commenting on 
November or December reviews, and can be done once per review. Come back throughout December whenever you comment on my reviews and get your extra points!    
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Thanksgiving-Away Day 4! Win a signed trio!

WHoopsie! Sorry for the little break, there, people! Life is just getting away from me lately. But I'm back with day 4 of the these giveaways of gratitude! :D  

Today I'm offering up this gorgeous
I've been incredibly lucky this past year to be able to attend some great trade shows and conferences, and meet some really incredibly authors.  So today I want to pass some of the spoils of that onto someone else! All three of these lovely copies are signed (not personalized) by the authors!  

Who wants to win them?? 

Enter below! 
US mailing addresses only.
(Just an fyi for my overseas visitors! The final giveaway tomorrow WILL be open internationally!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {148}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

This is my last two weeks worth of goodies!
From #booksfortrade:
The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
So excited!! Thanks so much, Brittany! :D

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Eeeee, new Cat Winters book. She is absolutely one of my favorite authors.

For review:
Curio by Evangeline Denmark
Reading this one now. Really enjoying this so far!
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
This looks incredible. A story of diversity set around the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Map of Fates by Maggie Hall
Really enjoyed book one! Can't wait to see what happens next!
Half in Love with Death by Emily Ross
Set in the 60s, this one looks like it's got a creepy twist to it!
Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Excited for this one! Oh and don't forget to enter to win your own copy here

The Weekly Nutshell:
In case you missed these last few posts:
Fantastic Fives! Interview & Giveaway
Waiting on Wednesday: Siren's Song by Mary Weber
And be sure to visit all of the 2015 Thanksgiving-Away Posts:
Win a Signed Winter by Marissa Meyer!
Win a choice of my 2016 most-anticipated pre-orders!
Win a Mystery Box of 2015 titles!

Hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday!  Ours was nice--lots of food & family.  I don't even want to think how much pie and cookies I ate. LOL  This week I finished up reading The Love That Split the World. It was good, but I found I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped I would, but I know some others are really loving this one.  So maybe it's just me--after all this week was pretty awful, I dare say one of the worst weeks of my life. To say I was emotionally distracted would be an understatement.  So it might not have been fair to be reading much of anything.  Now, I'm reading Curio and enjoying it, but I'm still in the first 50 pages, so we'll see how it goes!

The holiday season is official kicked-off, my friends!! Stay safe and warm out there! :D

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving-Away Day #3! Win a box of 2015 books!

And here we go with Day 3!! Have you all entered days 1 and 2?? 
Today I'm offering up a mystery box of 2015 YA titles! There will be a bit of everything in there and 5-7 books inside--as much as I can fit in! Who wants it?? :D

Enter below! 
US mailing address only (sorry, but GAH the shipping!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thankgiving-Away Day 2! Win a 2016 Pre-Order!

On to day two of the giveaway!  This one, as promised, is international! 

GUYS, it's nearly 2016, and the YA sweet 16s are shaping up to be incredible!! Seems like every single day we are hearing about some great new 2016 release that just leaves us all salivating and wishing away the year so that the books will just be IN OUR HOT LITTLE READER HANDS!!

So for today's giveaway, I'm going to show you a few of my most anticipated 2016's and one lucky reader is going to win a pre-order!!  Here we go!

  LOOK at all the lovelies.  Will YOU be able to decide? :D There are a few that I wanted to include here (Heartless, anyone?), but that aren't yet available for pre-order. *sigh*

Enter away, from anywhere in the big wide world! :D
Ends December 11th, 2015

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving-Away!! :D

So I know this is getting posted just before Thanksgiving is actually OVER :D  But I was bad and didn't pre-schedule this as I'd planned, and then today just completely got away from me as I spent the day stuffing my face with pie and enjoying my family (as it should be, am I right??)

So starting right now, and for the rest of the November, I want to show my lovely blog friends and readers just how much I appreciate them!! I did this little event a few years ago and now I'm officially resurrecting it! So...
Starting today and everyday until December 1st, I'm raining down gratitude on everyone who comes here to read this little blog, whether you comment or just stop by and peruse, follow faithfully or just visit whenever you can.  With GIVEAWAYS of course!! There will be a new giveaway posted every day, so be sure to come by and enter as many of them as you want!

For today's kick-off, I'm giving away a copy of the finale of one of my fave series of all time, all signed and gorgeous:

Enter below!! 
US mailing addresses only (sorry, there will be giveaways in the next few days that are international,  I promise!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Mary Weber

hitting shelves March 1st, 2016
from Thomas Nelson Books
The realization hits: We re not going to win. It s why I couldn"t defeat Draewulf in Bron because this power was never mine anyway. I drop my arms and let the energy die off.And turn around to face Eogan. After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only... the dark power is still inside her. Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf s final attack. From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world. This time, will the Siren s Song have the power to save it?"

My thoughts: LOVE love love this series. So much. Incredible characters and world building and adventure. Each time the endings just tear your heart out and leave you absolutely freaking out for the next book. If you haven't read these, check out my reviews of Storm Siren & Siren's Fury. Is it March yet???

Saturday, November 21, 2015

FANTASTIC FIVES!! Interview & Giveaway

So guys, I know I've ignored this fact for far too long: Stories & Sweeties turned FIVE this year. In January!! LOL Yea, I know, I'm on the better side of six years now, but I can't let a milestone like FIVE YEARS go unnoticed! :D All year long, I kept meaning to celebrate it somehow, so when I saw this crazy fun event being put on by Jaime at Two Chicks on Books and Amber from Me Myshelf and I, I jumped at the chance to celebrate this fantastic blog birthday with some of my own favorite blogs who were also turning 5!

First off, let me point you to the other fabulous blogs that are also celebrating their BIG FIVE!! You'll want to visit their sites too, as we are ALL holding separate giveaways of some pretty awesome stuff!!
November 8 Books Etc.
November 9 Fiktshun
November 10 Two Chicks On Books
November 11 Me, My Shelf and I
November 12 Bewitched Bookworms
November 13 Novel Novice
November 14 Book Angel Booktopia
November 15 Maer Wilson
November 17 YA Book Shelf
November 19 Bookish Lifestyle
November 20 Once Upon A Twilight
November 21 Me! :D
November 22 Bookaholics Anonymous
All of us, every single one, we all turned...

So as part of the event, each of us get to blab a bit about ourselves, our blogging, our experiences, and then fave lists!! Eeee, I love lists. ♥ :D  So here we go...

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ack...always hate the part where I have talk about myself LOL. Well, I'm not a teen, lets start there. I'm preeeetty darn far from my teen years actually. But my love of YA knows no bounds :D. I'm a mommy, a library assistant, a book hoarder, a fangirl of Doctor Who, Sherlock, and all things British, a tea drinker, a chocoholic, a lover of all things vintage, a fairy tale fanatic, and a cancer survivor. 

2. How did you get started blogging? 
Actually that last thing I mentioned about myself played a big part in my starting a blog. I was reading tons when I was first diagnosed. It was a fantastic distraction and took me out of my own head for awhile every day when I needed it.  I guess my decision to start a blog came partly for my own desire to share my thoughts on all these lovely stories I was reading, partly to have something fun to throw my energy into, and partly because I was reading so much I was having trouble keeping track of it all! 

3. How did you pick the name for your blog?
I like stories and I like sweets. I suppose it could have ended up Stories & Sweets, or Stories & Cupcakes, but at the time I think I was watching the Chronicles of Narnia an awful lot (because James McAvoy is adorable, even with goat legs LOL) and I loved how the Queen called Turkish Delights "Sweeties".  And there it was...a very british term for sweets.  Stories & Sweeties was born. 

4. If you could go back in time and tell your newbie blogger self 1 thing what would it be?  Remember to keep this fun for yourself! Don't take on too much, and don't say yes to every book that gets waved in front of your nose.  Overextending yourself if the quickest way to fall into a slump.

5. What have you learned in your 5 years of blogging?
•See above for lessons one and two ;) 
•Don't have books personalized to you unless you REALLY loved them. Reading tastes change sometimes and a signed book that's not personalized makes a great giveaway. 
•Get out there and socialize.  I stayed in my own little shy blog bubble for so long. Finally I got myself going on twitter and it makes being part of the book community so much more fun! 

6. What was the first ARC or book you ever received from a publisher?
It was Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev from Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends. GOSH I was so excited about that. Loved that series. 

7. When you’re not reading or blogging, what can we find you doing?
Baking. Mommying. Redecorating my house. Sometimes writing, but not very steadily. Watching my shows. Shopping at Target, with a cart-full of stuff I don't need.  

The Fives: (and yes, you can ONLY have 5! *muwhahahah*)

Five Favorite Books
Cinder, The Cure for Dreaming, Little Women, Never Let Me Go, and right now Wink Poppy Midnight. But honestly, for this one, I didn't even try to pare a list down. There are just too many favorites, these are just the first of hundreds that came to mind :)

Five Favorite Book Quotes
I honestly don't make notes of quotes as I'm reading most of the time. But here's one I loved from Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano:
He knows that I'm not like the other girls---the normal ones---that a part of me is slipping off this floating city, and he doesn't care. He doesn't care.  

Maybe we're both beyond saving.

Five Blogging Tips For New Bloggers
•Memes like Stacking the Shelves & Waiting on Wednesday are a great way to start interacting with the community.
•I don't read other reviews of a book right before writing my own. I'm always terrified a phrase or wording will unintentionally slip into my own. 
•Don't expect to start getting ARCs right away. Most publishers will look for at least 6 months of steady posting and reviewing before sending an ARC your way. 
•Comparing your blog to others in numbers/traffic/popularity is a waste of energy. Blog for yourself and to share your love of reading, not to become the next big book blog!
•Don't forget to enjoy the book community outside of your blog if you're able---book signings, conventions, book-to-movie adaptation viewings---its fun meeting people you might know from other book blogs plus a recap of the event makes a great blog post afterward! 

Five Blogs You Want The World To Know About
I'm gonna pass on this one and just direct you to my blog roll on my left sidebar. Seriously, there are way too many great blogs out there to just name five :D

So as a big huge HUG and thank you for everyone who's been reading this blog, whether you've been with me for the full stretch of five years or you just found me today, HERE'S A GIVEAWAY! :D   I wanted to keep this one international so I'm offering a book (or books) of choice up to $25 to the winner! If you can get two books out of that $25, that's awesome! :D
Enter below! 

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