Friday Raves: Author Signings with Emery Lord, Emily Henry, and Brittany Cavallaro

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FRIDAY RAVES is a feature on my blog, in which I “RAVE” about authors, book events, books, novelties, and/or other bookish announcements.

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This week my local bookstore, Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, hosted two author signing/book events. I am currently on a “book-signing high,” and I cannot wait to share my pictures and memories from each event. 

Monday, May 15, 2017
Emery Lord with The Names They Gave Us

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I love whenever Emery is able to stop by and visit the bookstore. She’s a local author, so I never miss a chance to see her again. She’s so funny and smart, and every time I meet her I feel like I can conquer the world and write my own book. Emery also brought along some homemade treats (chocolate chip cookies with toffee pieces and potato chips in them) to share with us, and they were delicious!

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Emery was able to sign both my ARC and hardcover of The Names They Gave Us. Thanks, Emery!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Release Day of A Million Junes
with Emily Henry and Brittany Cavallaro

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On Tuesday, I got to meet these authors for the very first time: Emily Henry and Brittany Cavallaro. Both of these women writers are so witty, funny, and courageous. I asked both authors, “what was the initial dandelion seed that inspired each of their books?” Brittany pointed out that there are hundreds of adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, but only one female adaptation, so out of fury she wrote her own Sherlock Holmes series with a female lead. YES!!! Emily emotionally explained that A Million Junes is her grief book and that it all began with the passing of her dog two years ago. 😦

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Emily’s mom made these Jack’s Tart Cherry Cupcakes, which were inspired by the book.

And when I went up to meet Emily, she gave me a hug and I thought we were both going to cry. I love my dog, and I shared with her that two years ago I also lost my best friend, my poodle named MiaBella. At that moment, I think I found a new understanding of why I love A Million Junes so much (which, by the way, is my favorite book of 2017). Emily also gifted me an A Million Junes poster, which I cannot wait to find a frame for this weekend. I also got both of Brittany’s books signed, and I’m really looking forward to reading this series! 

Wow! I feel really spoiled with all the local book-event love, and I cannot wait to attend the next one.

What has been your best author/book event you have attended? 

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

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Title:
The Pearl Thief

Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Synopsis:

Before Verity . . . there was Julie.

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.

Goodreads| Amazon |Barnes & Noble | iBooksThe Book Depository


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The Pearl Thief is the first  Elizabeth Wein book I have read and it will not be my last. I really enjoyed how Wein’s storytelling realistically situates you in the main character’s mind, which is filled with so much passion, snark, love, innocence, and freedom. The plot of The Pearl Thief not only provides a tone of mystery and stealth, but I was also in awe of the limits that Wein pushed against in regards to the main character’s coming-of-age story. 

As the main character in The Pearl Thief, Julie is one of my new favorite YA heroines. Wein’s writing immediately swifts you into the historical ambiance of an early 20th-century Scotland setting, told through Julie’s perspective, a teenage girl exploring her adolescence through a lens of fear, courage, curiosity, and change. Julie is a full on whirlwind; in the very beginning of the book, she makes a threat that if anyone ever arranges for her to be married, she would run away. HA, right then and there, I knew Julie was going to win my heart in this story. I loved how feisty, funny, and daring she is throughout the novel. If I lived in the late 1930s, I definitely would have tried to befriend her. In the end, I appreciated Julie as a character because she has so much strength, spunk, and will to educate herself and defy social norms. 

Because of Julie’s liveliness and strict determination, this story is engaging and fast-paced. The Pearl Thief has a mysterious tone with a full investigation of a missing person and thefts. In addition to the stealthy tone, it was very refreshing to read a young adult character who is exploring her sexual fluidity, while also trying to understand the ills of the world. Julie is situated in a time where women were pushing the boundaries of the patriarchy, and she was also recognizing the terrible discriminatory labels, stereotypes, and assumptions that were unfairly placed on people due to their social status, religion, gender, race, and way of living. If you love reading historical novels with witty and quirky characters with a dash of sleuthing, The Pearl Thief is for you.

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My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Giveaway Pearl Thief

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE PEARL THIEF, US Only.
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About the author Pearl Thief

Elizabeth


I was born in New York City in 1964, and moved to England when I was 3. I started school there. We lived practically in the shadow of Alderley Edge, the setting for several of Alan Garner’s books and for my own first book The Winter Prince; that landscape, and Garner’s books, have been a lifelong influence on me.

My father, who worked for the New York City Board of Education for most of his life, was sent to England to do teacher training at what is now Manchester Metropolitan University. He helped organize the Headstart program there. When I was six he was sent to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica for three years to do the same thing in Kingston. I loved Jamaica and became fluent in Jamaican patois (I can’t really speak it any more, but I can still understand it); but in 1973 my parents separated, and we ended up back in the USA living with my mother in Harrisburg, PA, where her parents were. When she died in a car accident in 1978, her wonderful parents took us in and raised us.

I went to Yale University, spent a work-study year back in England, and then spent seven years getting a PhD in Folklore at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. While I was there I learned to ring church bells in the English style known as “change ringing”, and in 1991 I met my future husband there at a bell ringers’ dinner-dance. He is English, and in 1995 I moved to England with him, and then to Scotland in 2000.

We share another unusual interest–flying in small planes. My husband got his private pilot’s license in 1993 and I got mine ten years later. Together we have flown in the States from Kalamazoo to New Hampshire; in Kenya we’ve flown from Nairobi to Malindi, on the coast, and also all over southern England. Alone, most of my flying has been in eastern Scotland.

We have two children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

TOUR SCHEDULE PEARL THIEF

Week One:

5/1/2017- YA and Wine Blogger Post
5/2/2017- Beauty and the Bookshelf– Review
5/3/2017- The Blonde Bookworm– Review
5/4/2017- The Autumn Bookshelf– Blogger Post
5/5/2017- Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile– Review

Week Two:

5/8/2017- Booklove– Review
5/9/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Blogger Post
5/10/2017- Mundie Moms Review
5/11/2017- YA Books Central– Spotlight
5/12/2017- History from a Woman’s Perspective– Review

NOTE: Thank you to Disney-Hyperion  and Rock Star Book Tour for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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Title:
A Million Junes

Author: Emily Henry
Publication date: May 16, 2017
Publisher:  Razorbill
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 
Format: e-ARC from Penguin’s First to Read site

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of A Million Junes

Last year, Emily Henry’s debut novel, The Love That Split the World, won me over. It was beautifully written, the story was intense and intriguing, and honestly that book still sits well in my heart. And you guys, Henry’s new novel, A Million Junes, is just as impeccable. The novel is a meshing of generational curses, smart and quick-witted dialogue, and eccentric magic.

In A Million Junes, Emily Henry’s words are lyrical. She writes at such an elegant and wistful pace that I often forgot I was reading a book. Not only do her words melodically carry you through a world that merges reality and fantasy, but her writing transcends you into alternate worlds where memories exist by the seed of a dandelion. Henry’s storytelling took me on a collision course of in-between worlds that carry the reminisced emotions of comfort, laughter, heartache, and sorrow. A Million Junes is mesmerizing and thought-provoking and truly a gem to read. 

In reference to the main character, Jack “June” O’Donnell IV often wears her heart on her sleeve. Her sarcasm and wit have no filter, which carries well-needed humor in a story that is filled with grief and haunting despair. June’s attitude and opinions change as the story progresses, and I like that her growth is driven by both emotion and reason. And when this sassy, passionate teenager meets Saul, an enemy to her family, I love that June’s world is set into a whirlwind of challenges and transformation. 

The friendship that develops between June and Saul is beautifully weaved through white lies, snarky jokes, and good rapport. Their chemistry and fast-paced repartee are both heartwarming and hilarious. After their first encounter with one another, I wanted every page dedicated to their conversations. EVERY! SINGLE! PAGE! 

After reading A Million Junes, I hugged the book to my heart. I am 100% sure that this book will be one of those novels that I reread, because I will forever want that enchanting feeling back in my soul. I truly think A Million Junes will be my cure for future reading slumps. I love that this book exists and I love what it stands for. A Million Junes carefully situates two characters in a familial feud that darkens the pages with curses and haunting memories, but, in the end, it manifests that sorrow into experiences of forgiveness and moving forward.

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NOTE: Thank you to Penguin’s First to Read program for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: ARC Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: ARC, gifted from friend

About the book:

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Rants and Raves of Caraval

Hello, my name is Cassie, and I am a Caraval addict…I mean fanatic. I have read Caraval by Stephanie Garber twice, and I’m utterly, unbelievably in love with the characters, the story, and the world–anything and everything Caraval. I honestly feel like I was bewitched by this book; Garber uniquely captivates her reader with gritty emotions, enchanting sentences, and the most vivid images of luster and love.

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Caraval is a book that will charm you from the first page. Along with a collection of letters to and from a game-master named Legend, Scarlett and Tella’s story starts off as weary and cautious, but blooms into a world where darkness hides mischief, and magic awaits every corner. Throughout my reading experience, my mind was whirled with thoughts of endless enchantment and ominous whispers. There were so many unexpected twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming. If you are a fan of surprises and mystery, you will love this book.

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From the well-paced storyline to the dynamic characters to the setting that I’m dying to visit, Caraval is a strange, bewitching, and fantastical read. Caraval is about magic, but more importantly, this book emanates and breathes magic while you’re reading it. Garber’s storytelling transfixed me in a carnival game filled with wishes and desires, and I personally dream to be a player in Legend’s carnival game depicted in this thrilling, haunting, and overall mesmerizing world.

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I loved Caraval most of all because it’s a story with limitless possibilities. It is a story about sisters. A tale of escapism. A nose-dive adventure into forming new friendships, finding trust, and understanding love. And, it is a story about conquering dares, taking chances, and fully living. Overall, I cannot rave enough about how much I enjoyed Caraval. This book may end up being one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I very much look forward to revisiting this world in the sequel. 

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NOTE:  I received this ARC from a friend. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Rebel of the Sands
By: Alwyn Hamilton
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure
Format: Hardcover
Source: Uppercasebox Subscription

ABOUT REBEL OF THE SANDS:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 


My Rants and Raves of Rebel of the Sands

First, Rebel of the Sands saved me from another reading slump. I am a mood reader, and lately I’ve been thinking that I need to read fluffy contemporaries or romantic NA books, but I was wrong, I needed this engaging fantasy! I needed Rebel of the Sands, because in the end, it had beautiful world-building, elaborate folklore and creatures, well-rounded characters, and an eager-to-finish storyline. 

I am sucker for badass female characters, and Alwyn Hamilton, the author, does not disappoint with creating a feisty, determined heroine named Amani. Amani is not a character that grew on me; instead I fell instantly in love with her.  Like Shakespeare’s Rosalind in “As You Like It,” Amani can crossdress with the best of them; she can shoot better than Annie Oakley; she upholds the compassion of J.K. Rowling’s Ms. Weasley; and she is as baddass as  Joss Whedon’s Buffy. Furthermore, I loved Amani’s ability to think before she acted, and a majority of the time her actions are cautious, selfless, and merciful. 

Along with Amani, I loved the character Jin. He has the roguish, “outlaw” persona, but under his mischievous personality he has a caring heart. Plus the chemistry between Amani and Jin is perfectly crafted. These two characters challenge each other in the most swoonworthy ways. They are definitely a dynamic duo that will give you the warm fuzzies. 

Rebel of the Sands is one of the most satisfying books I have read this year. I loved how unpredictable this book is, as well as how intricate it is, and how thought-provoking the main characters, secondary characters, and the fantastical characters, like the Nightmares, Skinwalkers, and Djinns, are depicted. More importantly, I loved how smoothly the plot unfolded; as I read each chapter, I honestly felt like I was delicately being carried away on a wistful breeze across the hot, desert sand. 

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE:  I received this book in an Uppercasebox Subscription, which I paid for with my own funds. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: As I Descended by Robin Talley

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Title: As I Descended
By: Robin Talley
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: September 6, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Fiction

ABOUT AS I DESCENDED:

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF AS I DESCENDED

If you are a fan of Shakespeare’s notable Macbeth, like me, then you will want to read this dark, modern-day retelling of the cursed tragedy. As I Descended takes place at a boarding school in the South, which disturbingly has a past polluted with death, murders, and hauntings. Robin Talley’s retelling is attuned to the greed for power portrayed in the original play, but adds a modern touch reminiscent of Mean GirlsPretty Little Liars, and Supernatural.

Similar to the “Scottish play,” Talley incorporates the supernatural and preternatural as means to create a spine-chilling ambiance and foretell the characters’ tragic flaws. Of course, in this novel, something wicked this way comes, bringing with it flickering lights, sinister shadows, vengeful ghosts, and the clashing of thunder. Spirits haunt not only the buildings of the school, but also the students’ nightmares/dreams. These spirits are particularly vengeful, creepy, and whispering menaces. 

As I was reading, I kept interconnecting which of Talley’s characters are associated with Shakespeare’s original cast list. The author does not stray too far from the original characters’ personalities and flaws. The characters believe themselves to be controlled by the eerie unknown, but overall free will and fate are questioned. 

In As I Descended, Robin Talley adds a great spin and dark twists to Macbeth by switching the the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with the closeted couple and roommates, Maria and Lily. Duncan, Shakespeare’s beloved Scottish King, is swapped with the queen of the school, Delilah. And I love that Talley interchanges Banquo’s character with Brandon, Maria’s gay, best friend. But overall, as a personal fan of witches, folklore, and anything that goes bump in the night, I appreciated the twist that Talley creates in regards to Shakespeare’s character Hecate, the queen of the witches, who is interchanged in As I Descended with the scary, Hispanic folklore figure, La Llorono. (I dare you to Google her; she’s super creepy!)

In addition to thoughtfully changing the social constructions of Shakespeare’s characters, Talley’s writing parallels the Bard’s original work on both an emotional and psychological level.  Naturally, when analyzing Macbeth, many critics analyze the gender roles of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth; therefore, they try to define the “norms” of masculine and feminine behavior often blurred/inversed between these two characters. Talley steps outside this social division, and explores a f/f retelling of Macbeth. Instead, I found Talley’s words and her characters reflecting a social commentary on the competition and injustices that many current young adults, more importantly the LGBTQIA community, face in a world full of greed, hate, and judgment.

As I Descended is a well crafted retelling of Macbeth. and like Shakespeare, Tally has created characters that test the societal values and beliefs of their own time periods. Similar to the original tragedy, As I Descended is about empathy, ethics, ambition, and moral order. Overall, I enjoyed exploring the connections and differences between the original Tragedy and this modern-day retelling. Each chapter is threaded with intense scenes that left me anxious and too intrigued to turn away from the story.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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ABOUT ROBIN TALLEY:

I live in Washington, D.C., with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. Whenever the baby’s sleeping, I’m probably busy writing young adult fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth conversations with friends and family about things like whether Jasmine’s character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.

My website is at http://www.robintalley.com, and I’m on Twitter and Tumblr.

LINKS: Website | Twitter Facebook | Tumblr

Tour Schedule:

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Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of AS I DESCENDED (US Only) 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Set Outside The US

TOP TEN TUESDAY

HOSTED by The Broke and the Bookish


This week’s topic is…

Ten Books Set Outside The US

(Click the book cover to link to the book’s Goodreads’ page)

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What are some of your favorite books that take place outside the US?