Book Review: A Prom to Remember by Sandy Hall

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Title: A Prom to Remember
Author: Sandy Hall
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Genre: General Fiction, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks 
Amazon // Indiebound

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A Prom to Remember
Sandy Hall
Swoon Reads, April 2018
ISBN 978-1-250-11914-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Cora: Dating Perfect Boyfriend Jamie. Has NO IDEA how to break up with him…

Paisley: Anti-prom. Somehow nominated her anxiety-ridden best friend for prom king…

Henry: Hates social situations. Invited to prom by the most popular girl in school. SEND HELP!

Otis: Half of one of the cutest couples in his class. Not quite ready for a post-prom hotel room…

Lizzie: Shy. Excited to go to prom. With a boy. Whose name she doesn’t know.

Cameron: Loner. Over high school. Just wants to meet the mysterious girl who’s been leaving him notes…

Jacinta: Unnamed Nerd Girl #3. Determined to become the star of her own life, starting with prom…

Back in the very long ago day, prom wasn’t a big thing in my life. In my junior year, I was dating an R.O.T.C. cadet from another school and we went to his Ring Dance the same night. I don’t remember what I was doing in my senior year but, for whatever reason, I didn’t go to prom. Still, that particular school dance was a big deal and, judging by the kids I see in their fancy dress having dinner, limos waiting, it still reigns supreme in high school today.

What I haven’t forgotten in all these years is all the angst and excitement and hopes and dreams that go along with prom and A Prom to Remember brought it all back with a look at seven kids and all their expectations. I came to love every one of these teens for one reason or another and would not have minded spending more time with them. This was a really fun read and I turned the last page grinning to beat the band…a good way to end a book, I think 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2018.

About the Author

I’m a teen librarian from New Jersey where I was born and raised. I have a BA in Communication and a Master of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University. When I’m not writing, or teen librarian-ing, I enjoy reading, slot machines, marathoning TV shows, and long scrolls through Tumblr. A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT is my first novel.

Author links:  Website // Twitter // Goodreads

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: Unraveled by Kate Jarvik Birch

Unraveled
Perfected #3
Kate Jarvik Birch
Entangled Teen, April 2018
ISBN 978-1-63375-913-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Ella isn’t anyone’s pet anymore, but she’s certainly not free.

After exposing the dark secrets about NuPet’s breeding program, forcing them to repeal the law that allowed genetically modified girls to be kept as pets, she thought girls like her would finally be free. She never dreamed that it would backfire. NuPet may have convinced the public of their intentions to assimilate pets back into society, but Ella knows it’s a lie.

They aren’t planning mass rehabilitation…they’re planning a mass extermination.

Now, with the help of a small group of rebels, Ella and Penn, the boy she’d give up her life for, set out to bring down NuPet for good. But when her group gets implicated in a string of bombings, no one is safe. If she can’t untangle the web of blackmail and lies that extends far beyond NuPet’s reach, she won’t just lose her chance at freedom, she’ll lose everyone she loves.

The author of the Perfected trilogy, Kate Jarvik Birch, created a world and story in which girls are raised to be pets, a glorified form of slavery, and I was enthralled by the first two books, especially with the innovative ideas Ms. Birch had. This third and final entry is just as creative and I was fascinated with the twist on our own animal rights activists’ dramatic, sometimes deadly, attacks on the facilities where animals are held. In those circumstances, the animals are often freed in order to save them from experimentation and imprisonment; in Unraveled, it’s the “animals”, the genetically modified girls, who are determined to stop the travesty.

In the US in current times, there is a lot of discussion about the members of congress and whether they are competent, decent, judicious people with good intentions but they don’t hold a candle to the one in this story, the man who owned Ella and father to Penn, the young man Ella loves. Many young adult stories overdo it with the romance, in my opinion, but this love story that has developed over three books is natural and organic, the way it should be.

Ella and Penn, especially Ella, have been fighting for the rights of the pet girls but now face a new betrayal, one that forces them to lead a small group in rebellion. Ella has grown, mentally and emotionally, by leaps and bounds since her time as a pet and has become something of a heroine, always with justice as her goal. Tension rides high on nearly every page in this tale and I think this was a fitting end to a terrific series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2018.

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon
Indiebound // Entangled Publishing

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An Excerpt from Unraveled

No one glanced up at us as we left. We were inconsequential, just two kids leaving a pizza place. And that’s exactly what we felt like—kids. Powerless. Weak. Alone.

The bell on the door jingled lightly once more, and we stepped back out into the night. Once again, the sound of jazz music drifted out of the bar next door. I paused, listening to the soulful cry of the saxophone. For a moment, I closed my eyes, focusing on the full, round tone.

And then, just as the last note of the song died away, the bomb went off.

One single note rang in my ears.

High pitched.

Whining.

The saxophone… It had just been playing, wasn’t it? I could remember the low, sweet crooning, but that wasn’t what this sound was.

I shook my head and tried to bring a hand up to my eyes, but something held it clamped down at my side. I tried to wiggle free, but there was something pressing my back, too, making it hard to breathe.

I coughed. My mouth was dry, thick with dust and the taste of metal.

“Penn,” I croaked. “Penn?”

I blinked, trying to turn my head.

In front of me the ground spread out like a battle field.

Red and blue lights blinked behind a cloud of dust. Dark forms moved left and right, up and down. Long limbs waved to one another.

My cheek pressed against something rough.

“Penn!”

“Here’s one,” someone said. They sounded far away, a voice inside a bubble floating somewhere high above my head.

The weight on my back lifted, and a hand slipped beneath me, lifting me from the ground. I choked in a deep gulp of air and balanced on my wobbly legs. Even with the world tipped vertically once more, I couldn’t make sense of it.

“Ella!”

I turned.

The dark outline of Penn stumbled toward me.

Behind him, the building crumbled in on itself. Brick and cement.Wire and steel.Here and there a tipped table, a smashed chair. Broken glass littered the ground, glittering with the orange light of flames that glowed inside the hole where a door had just been. A door. A door. The door that had just jingled shut behind me.

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About the Author

Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals, including: Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids.

Find Kate at:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

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Giveaway
Signed copy of Unraveled

Enter here.

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Book Reviews: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed and One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman

Love, Hate and Other Filters
Samira Ahmed
Soho Teen, January 2018
ISBN 978-1-61695-847-3
Hardcover

First and foremost, this book is exquisitely authored. Beautiful, not in a flowery, colorful sort of way; but rather in a raw, natural, simple-yet-stunning kind of way. And so, a snap-shot of Maya’s senior year: dating, spring break, planning for college…as an Indian Muslim American…would be wholly satisfying, entirely engaging and enlightening. But it would only scratch the surface. With a wide lens, Ms. Ahmed provides perspective; contrived categories soften into truer compilations.

To most of Maya’s peers, her parents are almost unreasonably strict. Maya may secretly agree, but at least they “aren’t exactly the fire-and-brimstone types”.  Aware of her family’s (limited) leniencies, Maya is surprised when Kareem, a desi Muslim, has a glass of wine. But, as he points out, “…it’s not like I eat pork.” More importantly, he is not a white American boy. Like Philip.

And so, the scene is set.

But, a somber tone seeps through. Snippets of seething anger and frustration simmer to a frenzied, desperate desire for revenge. Building tension becomes tangible. An explosion is imminent.

The inundation of information immediately following a blow-up is, unfortunately, often inaccurate and incomplete. Even more egregious, these initial errors are what people tend to remember. By the time facts have been collected and the whole, true story can be told; no one is there to listen. Life goes on, public perception remains unchanged.

Except for the person presumed guilty. And his family. Or everyone with his last name.

Love, Hate and Other Filters is the rest of the story and it is relatable and relevant.

Reviewed by jv poore, January 2018.

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One Silver Summer
Rachel Hickman
Scholastic Press, May 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-80892-7
Hardcover

Despite knowing full well that I was reading-for-review, I became so caught up in the very love story that little-girl-me always dreamed of, that I devoured this book like a starved Cookie Monster demolishes cookies.  Even at this frantic pace, I was aware of the ‘something more’ to the story—hints were subtle, yet almost undeniable—perhaps somewhat subliminal.

One Silver Summer is more than the whole-hearted-head-over-heels love story of a shattered girl and a stunning, spirited mare.  There are mysteries to be solved: what horrific happening has sent Sass across the pond to live with the uncle she only just learned of?  Maybe that’s moot.  Perhaps this was her path all along—the past has a tendency to come back, after all.

The guarded groomsman, Alexander, is a bit of a mystery himself.  To Sass, his mannerisms don’t seem to fit his position, although understanding hierarchy is not her forte—no need for that in New York City.  His moods shifts are also perplexing.  Sometimes he seems relaxed and happy with company, while other times he’s oddly secretive and suspicious.

Sass and the silver horse are certainly central, but Alexander, his quite proper British grandmother, and affable artist, Uncle David, take the tome to another level.  A love story in the broadest sense: fondness developing among family members just getting familiar; the unconditional, admiring adoration between grandparent and grandchild; forbidden love, lost in a flash (but with a lingering fondness); and love formed from empathy and nostalgia.

Also, this is a story of learning to separate who you are from a persona based solely on other people’s perceptions.  A reminder of the need to be flexible, reflective and always open-minded.  An understanding that even adults must continue to grow, to adapt—not to survive, but to thrive.  A narrative of hope and heartbreak that is fantastically fabulous.  Immediately after reading the very last words, Acknowledgements and About the Author; I turned to the first page and read the entire book again.

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2017.

Book Review: Flux by D. T. Dyllin

Author: D.T. Dyllin
Narrator: Ashley Holt
Length: 6 hours 59 minutes
Series: Starblind, Book 3
Publisher: Tik Tok Press
Released: Dec. 20, 2017
Genre: Romantic Science Fiction

Taken captive, experimented on, and rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter…all things Zula, The Pittsburgh’s second-in command, didn’t have on her to-do list. She isn’t worried though. After all, as a Galvraron, she has her superior logic to rely on. At least she did….

Suddenly Zula finds her cognitive skills compromised by a device that puts her emotions in control, turning her entire world upside down. Add in the fact that she’s forced to spend time with a man from her past, and soon Zula finds herself wondering: How does one fight adversaries such as love and lust? And does she really want to?

 

 

D.T. Dyllin is a bestselling author who writes paranormal, sci-fi, and contemporary romance. Basically, anything with a love story is her kryptonite. Her obsession with affairs-of-the-heart is what first drove her to begin twisting her own tales of scorching romance.

D.T. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Black & Gold for life, baby!) She now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, and two spoiled German Shepherds.

WebsiteTwitterInstagram
Narrator Bio

Former NPR PBS FM radio host/announcer in a major media market, with a warm mezzo female voice. I have a background in opera and can present in English, Italian, German, French, Latin. With a background in the performing arts and opera, I can sing as well as do some accents.

Home includes a husband shaped person, 2 cats, volunteerism and an active online gaming presence.
No audiobook genre is taboo, which makes for very interesting dinner table discussion.

Member, Audio Producers Association

TwitterFacebook

Zula is the third character to be the focus of a book in the Starblind series and I like her and her story best of all. Zula is kind of a female version of Mr. Spock, coming from a race that dismisses emotions, always behaving with logic. Having been kidnapped by a bounty hunter, she becomes the subject of experimentation culminating with an implant that causes her to feel for the first time in her life.

This juxtaposition of logic and emotion forms the basis of a funny, alarming, raucous story and the conflict is most obvious when Zula begins to fall for Kade, something that would not, could not have happened when she had total control of her mind and heart. Will she still have these feelings for him once the implant is removed? I’m not telling 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2018.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. This tour is being sponsored by Spectrum Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Q&A with Narrator Ashley Holt
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
    • Yes, and my husband wishes I wouldn’t. 😉 People either love me or hate me. Years ago, an actor friend once told me that you shouldn’t read reviews, because you might start to change your style based on what you read. Wise words, I think.
  • If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
    • When people get what I’m trying to do with the character. Someone said about Starblind that they “loved Jane’s sass and snark”. Made my day! Um, negative? Do we really have to go there? I’ve had someone say I never should have been chosen for that book. Another time I had someone get angry at me because the author anthropomorphized animals. That just killed me, because I LOVED voicing those kittens. They were all boy cats, and I could have done it all day!
  • What type of the review comments do you find most constructive?
    • Things like “she spoke too quickly”. That means the listener isn’t getting everything I say! Also I found out that a lot of people listen at 1.5x speed. Again thats the radio voice creeping in. Radio is fast, because you have to hit certain marks at exactly the right time.
  • Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?
    • Not dream author as much as dream GENRE. LitRPG is fantastic. It combines many of my favorite things. (I was an onlinegamer long before women were accepted in that world)
  • If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
    • Dickens, Dickens, Dickens.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • Here have your dope slap.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
    • Be patient, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, be very careful about who you hire as a coach.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I am currently working on: Book 4 of the Starblind series!!!A revision of a BDSM Best Seller I did a year ago.A fictional history of Maria Luisa of Spain, wife to Leopold II, Holy Roman EmperorA university textbook about an American woman who settled in Palestine in the 19th centuryMain Street, by Sinclair Lewis (my first classic I am SO EXCITED)A firefighter romance. I jokingly call it book 3 of the triumvirate. Because I have already done the sports romance (my life was VERY meta during that book) and the cop romance.2 very dystopian novels, one by an Australian author that is BRILLIANT. The second one is by an Italian author, and I haven’t gotten too far into it, but the premise is great and the translation is excellent.An Encyclopedia of musical terms.
  • Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
    • Not so much from the studio, but its still funny. For a while, I kept getting sent auditions/books with lesbian lead characters. I was the go-to apparently. Coach says its the resonance in my voice. I did 19 short books about a lesbian dominiatrix, in addition to a couple of other full length books. After a while, my husband started to get shall we say, CONCERNED, which just cracked me up.
    • Mostly the in studio stuff are the “derps” we have. In the narrators group on Facebook, we have threads of the day where we post phrases that are tripping us up. Those can get pretty funny.

Giveaway

Starblind Series Giveaway: Amazon Echo Dot
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

Starblind, Book 1

Feb. 6th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

T’s Stuff

Feb. 7th:

Audiobook Romance

Jazzy Book Reviews

Feb. 8th:

Buried Under Books

Feb. 9th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

La libreria di Beppe

Feb. 10th:

Lilly’s Book World

Haddie’s Haven

Feb. 11th:

Smada’s Book Smack

Loves Great Reads

Feb. 12th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Parallax, Book 2

Feb. 13th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Feb. 14th:

Audiobook Romance

T’s Stuff

Feb. 15th:

Lilly’s Book World

Jazzy Book Reviews

Feb. 16th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

La libreria di Beppe

Feb. 17th:

Buried Under Books

Loves Great Reads

Feb. 18th:

Smada’s Book Smack

Haddie’s Haven

Feb. 19th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Flux, Book 3

Feb. 20th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Feb. 21st:

Audiobook Romance

Feb. 22nd:

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

T’s Stuff

Feb. 23rd:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

Feb. 24th:

Lilly’s Book World

Haddie’s Haven

Jazzy Book Reviews

Loves Great Reads

Feb. 25th:

Buried Under Books

Feb. 26th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Book Review: Parallax by D.T. Dyllin

 

Author: D.T. Dyllin
Narrator: Ashley Holt
Length: 6 hours 52 minutes
Series: Starblind, Book 2
Publisher: Tik Tok Press
Released: Jul. 10, 2017
Genre: Romantic Science Fiction

 

Tamzea, a Mazatimz healer, found a home as part of the crew on the starship The Pittsburgh. But when a part of her past crashes into her present, she’s forced to face the uncertainty of her future. Dragged back to a place Tamzea had hoped to leave in her worst nightmares, she discovers Eron, a man she thought dead. Determined to save each other, Tamzea and Eron must find a way to work together, despite their torrid past. With partial truths, and political games, will Tamzea be able to fix Eron, or is he too broken for even her to heal?

 

 

D.T. Dyllin is a bestselling author who writes paranormal, sci-fi, and contemporary romance. Basically, anything with a love story is her kryptonite. Her obsession with affairs-of-the-heart is what first drove her to begin twisting her own tales of scorching romance.

D.T. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Black & Gold for life, baby!) She now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, and two spoiled German Shepherds.

WebsiteTwitterInstagram
Narrator Bio

Former NPR PBS FM radio host/announcer in a major media market, with a warm mezzo female voice. I have a background in opera and can present in English, Italian, German, French, Latin. With a background in the performing arts and opera, I can sing as well as do some accents.

Home includes a husband shaped person, 2 cats, volunteerism and an active online gaming presence.
No audiobook genre is taboo, which makes for very interesting dinner table discussion.

Member, Audio Producers Association

TwitterFacebook

The second in the Starblind series is, strictly speaking, not a sequel because it focuses on a different protagonist. Jane, the captain of the Pittsburgh, is here but largely on a peripheral basis and our heroine this time is one of the crew, Tamzea. I have to say I think I like Tamzea more than Jane, or maybe it’s just that she seems a little more appealing, someone I might want to spend time with (and I confess to thinking lavender hair and eyes is pretty cool). Also, Tamzea is a healer rather than the bounty hunter Jane is and that’s naturally more comfortable.

Tamzea has a past, pretty well hidden, but it comes back to haunt her in the person of Eron, someone she thought had been lost in that past. The connection between these two is anything but placid as they try to build a “new” relationship and I found this book to have more interesting aspects than the first in some ways.

As before, the sex scenes are more than I care for but they’re acceptable. As for the narration, I’m no closer to really liking Ms. Holt’s tones and cadence and it actually jarred on me a little more this time because I would expect a different sound for Tamzea. Still, that’s not enough to make me not want to listen to the next book so stay tuned!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2018.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. This tour is being sponsored by Spectrum Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Q&A with Narrator Ashley Holt
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • The lead character. I geeked out bigtime over this title. I went online and downloaded art to represent the main characters, and printed them out and put them up on the walls. I really got into it!
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
    • That is a difficult question to answer. Every author is different, and each experience is different. Having said that, DT stands out as being VERY different from most authors, to the point where we chat in email and talk about hockey more than books!
  • Who are your “accent inspirations”?
    • Another difficult question. I don’t know if I have any. Coming from the opera world makes this a very different experience than a traditional American actor, because we are steeped in the language immediately. When opera singers have to sing in English, its often a very difficult transition! Did I answer the question???
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • Practice, a TON of practice and sounding them out in dialogue scenes. Although I now wish I hadn’t chosen such a gruff voice for Dar, because he figures prominently in Book 4, and damn, that gets painful after a while, even with a ton of vocal warmup. I work with my coach on this a LOT, and she encourages me to put more variety in. It is a learned skill, so with every book I do, I hopefully get better!
  • What types of things are harmful to your voice?
    • 4 hours of continually voicing a gruff character! Ha, no not really. The big no no? Alcohol the night before. Again, back to the opera training. Over 30 years of training (I started when I was 14) and I can feel changes in my vocal cords like THAT. My voice is my instrument, and even one drink the night before changes the COLOR and TIMBRE. Have 2 or 3, and I might not be able to record the next day at all, depending on what book I’m doing or what character.
  • Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice?
    • HA, yes! I mentioned I travel for the day job, and sometimes we drive. So one day we were gassing up at a station somewhere, and the clerk recognized my voice. It was great.
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
    • I now tend to pick titles that have the bit of snark that I resonate with. Having said that, I did a time-travel alt history with a very saccharine sweet heroine that garned some very good reviews, so what do I know?
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • SIGN ME UP. I would go to the year 1800, and become a student of Beethoven. I am obsessed with learning the piano – I always wanted to, and never studied. I can plunk out a few things, but I mean really immerse myself the way I did in voice lessons. Also, I am a dork for 19th century literature, especially Russian and Dickens, my favorite author.
  • How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
      • I did classical music radio for afew years, and even there, where the style is not as much “in your face” as it would be for a rock station or talk radio, the radio style is still very INTENSE. When I work with my coaches, it is to get the “radio sound” out of my voice.

Giveaway

Starblind Series Giveaway: Amazon Echo Dot
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

 

Starblind, Book 1

Feb. 6th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

T’s Stuff

Feb. 7th:

Audiobook Romance

Jazzy Book Reviews

Feb. 8th:

Buried Under Books

Feb. 9th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

La libreria di Beppe

Feb. 10th:

Lilly’s Book World

Haddie’s Haven

Feb. 11th:

Smada’s Book Smack

Loves Great Reads

Feb. 12th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Parallax, Book 2

Feb. 13th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Feb. 14th:

Audiobook Romance

T’s Stuff

Feb. 15th:

Lilly’s Book World

Jazzy Book Reviews

Feb. 16th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

La libreria di Beppe

Feb. 17th:

Buried Under Books

Loves Great Reads

Feb. 18th:

Smada’s Book Smack

Haddie’s Haven

Feb. 19th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Flux, Book 3

Feb. 20th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Feb. 21st:

Audiobook Romance

Feb. 22nd:

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

T’s Stuff

Feb. 23rd:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

Feb. 24th:

Lilly’s Book World

Haddie’s Haven

Jazzy Book Reviews

Loves Great Reads

Feb. 25th:

Buried Under Books

Feb. 26th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

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Book Review: Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz

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Book Review: Starblind by D.T. Dyllin

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