Monthly Archives: April 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Words & Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up a Book!

Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

This was a great topic to ponder over for a while…Why do we pick up what we read in the first place? I’d never really given it a thought before, but this is what I came up with:

P.S.  If you’re over 13 years old and from the U.S. don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of Cinder by Marissa Meyer by clicking on the link below (it will take you to where you will be able to enter)! Contest ends Friday night!

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Magical –

I will always pick up book that has the word magical written on it or used to describe it.  The word always gives me a thrill of excitement.  Maybe it means transportation to a different world with new creatures and scenery or to a familiar world but with otherworldly characteristics…so many endless options.

Books: Harry Potter, Inkheart, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Magyk (Septimus Heap series) by Angie Sage

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)Fairy Tale-

I’m currently in love with fairy tale re-tellings and books containing any element of fairy tale in them. They allow an escape to a different world and if those words are used to describe a book I will make sure to give it the once over.

Books: Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

the night circusMystical-

Another word that just pulls me in for more.  Could there be something gorgeous to discover, a clever otherworldly mystery, or a creative twist to something seemingly ordinary.  It’s a word that begs me to read more about a book.

Books: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull


This is another one that works just like a magnet on me. It makes me automatically think of spies and secret romances so I always have to check and see if it could be a well written chick lit.

Books: Anything by Lauren Willig, and Meg Cabot’s mysteries

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Mythical-

Mythology is awesome and I love reading about mythological creatures and stories (especially amazing re-tellings).  So if I see a book with the word mythical on it, I just need to find out what it’s all about!

Books: Percy Jackson series and Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan



I am the type of person who hates going with the trends…but this is one train I’ve hopped on board with.  I just can’t resist a book with a dystopian setting…

Books: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Matched by Ally Condie, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Gilt (The Royal Circle, #1)Historic England-

Oh England, how I wish I could move there (someday hopefully!).  Any book containing historic England draws me in.  There’s so much history to learn about and exciting places to discover (I’m all about learning while reading for fun if possible!)

Books: Philippa Gregory’s novels, Gilt by Katherine Longshore


I’ve always had a soft spot for dragons. They’re just so magical.  Reading about them can really transport you somewhere else entirely (and wish you were a dragon rider in most instances).

Books: Eragon series by Christopher Paolini, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

book thiefWWII-

A topic I’ve found fascinating since the first time I learned of it. I love a well told WWII novel.  They are moving, interesting, inspirational, and always leave you with something to mull over.

Books: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Slavery/Underground Railroad-

Just like WWII, this is a topic I’ve always felt compelled to read about.  These stories are so incredibly inspirational and (usually) uplifting even if they are also heartrending.  I would like to recommend a nonfiction book (yes I did actually read a nonfiction book!) called Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.  This is an amazing true story which should leave anyone who reads it with the notion that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Books: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clotel by William Wells Brown

Got any suggestions for great books others may enjoy based on the words/topics that pull me in?

Mystical Story, but Mixed Feelings: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton
Adult Fiction
Rating: 3.75 (almost 4…)

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a magical, mystical story full of plot twists and secrets interwoven with fairy tales and valuable life lessons.  I loved the idea of this story and the plot, but I honestly never felt a real connection to any of the characters. And I felt like a couple hundred pages could have been cut out and I really wouldn’t have minded.  Yes, yes, my mood and temperament may have played a part in this somewhat negative view (being too sick to even pick up a book for days on end) but I’m not a huge a fan of reading really long books if there isn’t a dang good reason for it (Lord of the Rings I feel had a pretty good reason for being so thick…ditto with Jane Eyre, not so much in this case).

A young girl, Nell, is found on a ship in Australia without any caretaker, so she is secretly taken into the portmaster’s family to live happily until her father one day, about 20 years later, divulges the secret that she is not really his daughter.  Nell’s life is turned upside down by the news and a whole new life full of mystery, feelings of abandonment and dishonesty, and a path to find out who she really is descend upon her.  Along with Nell’s story we also learn the tales of two other female characters; modern-day Cassandra (who is Nell’s granddaughter) and mysterious Eliza from the early 1900’s.  All of the stories do intermingle extremely well, so you can’t just skip one character’s story and get away with it (trust me I tried), and they culminate into an unforgettable ending.

Morton tells the story from multiple people’s point of views and different time periods and, I’ll admit, it was quite jarring even for me at the start.  Once you figure out who everyone is and know them on a first name basis within the story, it gets a bit easier to understand and a little more enjoyable.  However, as mentioned earlier, I really didn’t like any of the main characters. They were just so extremely frustrating to me!  The decisions they made, the way they acted, their personalities all drove me crazy and I would definitely not have befriended any of them.  Not liking the characters in a book does make it  a bit more difficult to read the book…but finish it I did (I picked it for book club, so it was a bit obligatory).

Now, I don’t want to scare anyone away from this book.  It is a very good story and well written (I couldn’t guess the ending….well entirely) and had some very nice quotes throughout. 

It was the first story she’d ever trapped on paper, and to see her thoughts and ideas turned concrete was curious.  It made her skin seem unusually sensitive, strangely exposed and vulnerable.  Breezes were cooler, the sun warmer.  She couldn’t decided whether the sensation was one she liked or loathed.

~The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

I loved the air of mystery throughout the whole novel, keeping the reader guessing until the very end. And I loved the different relationships shown between the characters throughout the story because they seemed very realistic compared to a lot of other novels. It also offers up a lot in the way of discussion.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t post those topics though! Overall, I’m glad I finished it (the ending is wonderfully done!) I just wish it wasn’t sooo long.

Memory is a cruel mistress with whom we all must learn to dance.

~The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

Also, be sure to enter to win signed copy of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder I’m giving away before this Saturday by clicking on link below!

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Awesome Short Story Site: & Signed Cinder Giveaway!

An up and coming site called was recently brought to my attention, so I decided to check it out.  And…I was pleasantly surprised 🙂  It’s a very user friendly site where readers can discover oodles of fabulous short stories and share their thoughts on them.  And, it is also a place where writers can share their stories and in return get that feedback we all so desperately crave.  Plus they have this awesome new service where you can sign up to receive the “Story of the Week” in your inbox once a week.  I’ve signed up and have been enjoying it immensely.  Since I don’t typically read short stories this has been a great way to become acquainted with a different style of writing…and I’ve found I really love it, so getting my weekly dose is great!  So be sure to check out this cool new site and sign up for the “Story of the Week” which you can do so from this link here!

Also if you’re over 13 and from the U.S., don’t forget to enter to win the signed copy of Cinder by Marissa Meyer I’m giving away!  There are only 7 days left.  Just click on the link at the end of this blog post to be taken to the entry form!

Enter Here!

All About Marissa Meyer: Author Inspiration and Signed Cinder Giveaway Time!

Marissa Meyer and Me!

Marissa Meyer and Me!

I recently had the privilege of attending Marissa Meyer’s visit and book signing at the Edina, MN Barnes and Noble.  It took a 3 hour drive navigating through a nice spring blizzard all while suffering from a nasty sinus infection, but totally worth it.  I highly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to see Marissa speak, to make sure they go!  She was humorous, informative about books to come ;), and incredibly inspiring.

I came only expecting a reading from her latest book, Scarlet, but it was so much more.  She explained about how she has grown up writing fan-fiction about the late anime show Sailor Moon and how that morphed into entering writing contests; in particular NaNoWriMo, which eventually (and I say eventually because it sounded like a long and arduous development as the writing, editing, and re-writing process takes a very long time! which was unfortunately reassuring) led to the amazing Lunar Chronicles.  Even as inspiring as all that is, the part I found the most fascinating was that Meyer found writing fanfic within an online community so beneficial. She said it was easier to share her writing online rather than show her uber “private” notebooks to people in person. This is exactly why I started blogging; the feedback from wonderful readers, to know that others are reading are what I have to say even if it isn’t the best writing.  Practice makes perfection or at least a better writer.

Marissa also talked about her upcoming books in the Lunar chronicles; Cress and Winter.  I was glad to know that the books will contain all of the characters from the previous books along with introducing some amazing new ones! A super techy Rapunzel for Cress and Winter will contain Snow White.  Plus she talked of wanting a prequel for Queen Levana and she said she has two other bookish ideas in mind.  One a standalone and another series idea; sooo exciting! And the movie rights have been sold for Cinder, to whom is unknown to us until a later date, so hopefully (please, please, please!) it will be made into a (well-done) movie!! Then she told a couple of twisted fairy tales I thoroughly enjoyed.

Cinder Marissa Meyer Young Adult Sci-Fi Rating: 4

And…Hopefully you already know that Cinder is amazing and if you don’t yet know because you haven’t gotten a chance to read it, hopefully I’ve started to convince you.  So, either way; if you already love the series or are ready to finally give it a try I’ve got a giveaway for you! A signed copy of the paperback edition of Cinder 🙂

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents 13 years of age and older. The winner will be notified via e-mail the day after the contest has ended and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen in their place. Good Luck!

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The 4th (yes 4th!) Witch and Wizard Installment: The Kiss by James Patterson and Jill Dembowski

The Kiss (Witch & Wizard, #4)

The Kiss (Witch & Wizard #4)
James Patterson
Teen Fantasy
Rating 3.5

So I had no idea this series was continuing because the last book which came out, The Fire, seemed like the perfect ending.  My feelings are mixed on this one though.  Overall, I enjoyed reading the story and loved the different places described in this book; the Mountain, the Forest, and the mention of a desert. And of course the familiar characters Whit and Wisty are enjoyable.   However, what I enjoyed was also part of what bothered me. None of the places were ever mentioned in the previous novels (that I can remember) and made it a bit hard to believe they just all of the sudden appeared.  I think it may have been better to just start a whole new series with similar characters, because it was just a little hard to buy the whole completely new setting.

Thinking of the book as separate from the series though, makes the story much more enjoyable.  Corruption and unequal rights resurface as another power hungry leader tries to gain control of the city while another threat from the Mountain appears at the same time.  Children start disappearing again and it’s up to Whit and Wisty to help save the city from destruction, but this time a super handsome boy comes in the way splitting Whit and Wisty apart. Wisty can’t seem to get enough of her latest crush Heath, while Whit believes him to be the scum of the Earth, but whose side is Heath really on?

I’ve always loved the careful Whit and the crazy Wisty, however the cover of this book drove me crazy! One of my biggest pet peeves with books is having the real people faces plastered on the cover of the book and that is no exception with this one.  I feel like it ruins the imaginative process for the reader when a face of the main character has already stared at you leaving you no room to picture them for yourself! And the picture of Wisty on the front cover is totally NOT how I pictured her.

BUT, all in all if you enjoyed the characters of Whit and Wisty and don’t mind stretching your imagination to completely change their storyline, then go ahead read The Kiss.  It’s not a bad read.  But if you want to just remember the ending of their story the way it probably should have “ended”, you may be disappointed by this one….

Any thoughts on if you thought this series should have ended with the third book?  Are there any other series you think went past their prime?

Books, Books, Books: Recently Acquired!

In the past week I’ve acquired sooo many books through authors, NetGalley, online shopping, and loaning from the library I just had to share! So look forward to reviews of the following I haven’t read yet:  

The Clock Of LifeThe Clock of Life by Nancy Klann

I’m so very excited to read this!  It deals with some deep topics and two periods in American history I can’t get enough of in literature; the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Check out the synopsis on Goodreads here.

First Editions of Scarlet and Cinder by Marissa Meyer (so I can get them signed next Monday!!) Click on titles for full reviews.

Signed copy of The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig from The Poisoned Pen (Love ordering from this bookstore! The books come with a nice plastic cover and a tracking number is e-mailed once the book is shipped from the store; so thoughtful 🙂 )

The Distant HoursThe Distant Hours by Kate Morton (It was a bargain book on Barnes and Noble that I couldn’t pass up!)


Double Crossed by Ally CarterDouble Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story (Gallagher Girls, #5.5; Heist Society, #2.5)


The Chalice

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau


The Rose Throne by Mette HarrisonWish


Wish by Beth Bracken and Kay Frasen


From the Library:

I have about 40 checked out (gahhh :S) but these will be the ones I read first

Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Kiss by James Patterson and Jill Dembowski

Reached by Ally Condie

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

What are some great books you just can’t wait to read? Or do you know something I don’t know about the books I haven’t read on my list?

Top Ten Books to Read in One Day!

Top Ten Books to Read in a Day

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

This week on the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme it’s a Rewind, meaning we get to pick whatever topic we missed in the past and liked the most to blog about.  I thought it would be fun to do Top Ten Books to Read in a Day because sometimes you just don’t have the time to get into a book that’s going to take time to think and ponder heavily about. So this is my list of ultra fast books to read:

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder and then Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

These are my new favorites!! I am in love with every single character (but I would marry Wolf if given the opportunity).  I read these books way too fast (one day as you can obviously tell by the post’s title). They are such fun re-imaginings of classic fairy tales.  See review of Cinder and Scarlet. Go check them out!

Delirium (Delirium, #1)Delirium by Lauren Oliver

So addicting. Once this book is started, you’re not going to want to put it down, talk to others, eat, etc.  See full review here.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I love, love, love this series.  And every time I start one of the books, I know I won’t be getting any sleep until it’s finished. Action, romance, and tons of paranormal creatures and I can never figure out how these stories will end!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

I remember finishing this Potter book in particular in just one day.  I had to hide under the covers and use a flashlight so my parents thought I was sleeping.  I just had to find out who Sirius Black was!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I’m only picking the first one in the series because I don’t recall having a favorite in this series.  All of Riordan’s junior fictions are books I’ve had to finish in a day.  They are so amazing and I love getting kids to read them!

Ella EnchantedElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

This was a book my grandma had picked out before she passed away, but I didn’t get around to reading it for a few years.  The day I did start it though, I stayed up all night until it was finished.  It is a magical masterpiece of a fairy tale that I recommend to oodles of girls who don’t know what to read.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I did NOT want to read this book. I was horrified by kids killing kids, but as a librarian I figured everyone would be asking about it so I read it…in one sitting.  I’m still not quite sure I enjoyed it because of the brutality, but it was something that couldn’t be put down.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth

Another book I was on the fence about reading, but it sucked me in all the same.  I know I enjoyed reading this one, so as a dystopian novel I put it above the Hunger Games and recommend it to people looking for something along those lines.

Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3)Ascend by Amanda Hocking

This is the last book in the Trylle trilogy (trilogy with a unique take on trolls and changelings with a setting in MN!) by Amanda Hocking and I enjoyed it the most out of all three of the novels.  I tore through this one to see how everything would end…and I’ll admit, I was quite shocked, but in a good way.

What are some books you have had to read in one day??

Review: In Love With Willig’s Latest; The Ashford Affair

The Ashford Affair

The Ashford Affair
Lauren Willig
Adult Historical Fiction
Rating: 5

Lauren Willig is awesome! The Ashford Affair is a standalone novel outside of the Pink Carnation series and it is amazing.  Ashford is quite different from the Carnation series.  It has a lot more depth and meaning and takes more “thinking” to read than her previous stories, but is well worth it.  The novel is filled with complex relationships, family drama (which everyone can relate to at a certain point), and mystery (even when I thought I had everything figured out, another twist would pop up!).

Ashford tells the tale of the confusing, heartbreaking, but oh-so-necessary transformation of two women from two different generations and lifestyles, Addie and Clemmie, from their follow-the-leader personalities to independent and confident ways.  Addie is from 1920’s England when times were different, there were society rules to follow and women were supposed to be okay with whatever they were told to do and be. As a young girl Addie is thrown into a life of rules and formality after she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle at Ashford when her parents are killed in a tragic accident.  Bea, Addie’s gorgeous yet wild and reckless cousin, takes her under her wing and tries to mold Addie, but how can Addie step out on her own?  And when Addie finally finds a man she might love, will Bea let her make her own decision?

Then there is the story of Clemmie in modern day New York City.  Her transformation must come in another form.  She’s been tied to work and school for as long as she can remember.  Doing whatever she’s been told by her bosses; staying late, working holidays, throwing away relationships, but for what purpose?  Is having a successful career more important than finding love and having lasting relationships? Or is there a happy medium?

I loved this story it really made me made think about my life because all of the different issues it brought up. There are so many discussible topics in this book!  World War I happens and its’ repercussions, the effects of divorce and affairs when they were first becoming more “popular”  and the comparison to how they are viewed now, family secrets, the morals of marrying for love or for status, loving someone who is in a bad marriage, and the list goes on and on.  This would make a great book club book; the discussion could go on for a very long time 🙂 Plus part of the book takes place in Kenya in the post World War I era which I really enjoyed reading about because it was something totally new to me.

And Willig’s next book, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, comes out in August !!

Fishing for Good Read Aloud Storytime Books!

I recently held a special storytime that was so much fun I just had to share! Our theme for the night was “Catch a Good Book,” so that’s what we did; caught our books!  Before the event, I had set up a sheet hung between two tall tables and hid a volunteer behind it to help me out.  I also prepared a couple of fishing poles to catch the books with. I tyed yarn to the end of the poles and attached a clothespin to the other end of the yarn. 

Ribbit RabbitWhen the kiddos arrived we started to fish our first book of the night. I threw my line over the sheet and my volunteer attached the book and pulled on the line to let me know I had caught something. I pulled the first book in, but it wasn’t a fish book; it was a frog one! We began with one of my new favorite read alouds Ribbit Rabbit written by Candace Ryan and illustrated by Mike Lowery.  I really enjoy this one because it has repetitive words throughout the story that little ones like to repeat with you. PLUS it teaches a lesson about friends getting upset with each other and then making up at a level which is easy for everyone  to comprehend.

Pirate Treasure Hunt!After Ribbit Rabbit we went fishing again, but this time we ran into pirates! We went on to read the book Pirate Treasure Hunt! written by Jan Peck and illustrated by Adrian Tans.  This book is a great one to encourage involvement as it’s just like Going on a Bear Hunt so there are a bunch of repetitive sayings and fun action rhymes. (Can’t go over it, Can’t go under it….etc.) The kids enjoyed feeling like they were a part of the story (and not having to sit still). Plus I absolutely LOVE the ending to this one 🙂

874865For our third and final catch of the night we got really lucky and pulled up One Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova.  This book was a huge hit and another one of my new found favorites.  I’m a huge fan of this story and the author Mary Casanova, having met her at a library event earlier this year.  She is an amazing person and a huge inspiration to me. (One of the main reasons I’ve started writing for the pleasure of writing again!) This particular story tells the tale of a girl going down the river on a canoe with her dog, but suddenly all the animals along the shore want to join them!  All of the kids (and parents) I’ve read this to haven’t been able to keep a straight face during this story; it is just so funny and the pictures by Ard Hoyt are awesome too!

I set off one morning in my little red canoe. My dog wagged his tail. “Can I come, too?? “You bet,” I said. “A trip for two – just me and you”

~One Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova

After we were finished reading our stories, the kiddos got to catch their own books as their prize for the night.  They had so much fun casting their lines and catching books! Once they were all situated with their newly caught books we enjoyed a snack of Goldfish and Kool-Aid to keep with the fishing theme. 

I had such a great time putting on this program and wish I could make every storytime this extravagant. 

Does anyone have any favorite fishing books or know of any other great read alouds involving water creatures?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I read Before I Was a Blogger

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I was a Blogger

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

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 This was tough to choose only ten; there are just too many options!  I will try and make this as varied as possible.  So here is my randomly assorted list:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

….well duh. These changed my life and helped me through the toughest years I’ve gone through thus far.  They will forever hold a special spot in my heart.

The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo

Beautifully written with lots of life lessons and inspiration. I’m looking forward to reading more of Coehlo’s works in the future.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1)Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig

I discovered these by accident when the first one was a bargain book on Barnes and Noble. After that I turned into an addict; buying and reading the other two which were out within the week and then buying (not renting from the library) each new one as they come out. Romance, espionage, history, and Europe (mostly) not much more I could ask for in a nice light read!

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

These were amazing! The first book in the series, The Golden Compass, was a little slow for me and I had to read it twice before I really loved it…and then I really really fell head over heels in love with it and the whole series. I was depressed for about a week after finishing this series because I was soo sad it was over and I could never have that “first” experience again.

The Other Side of SunThe Other Side of the Sun by Madeleine L’Engle

I haven’t read this book in about 9 years, but it is the first book I remember reading by myself and feeling moved by. It involves the KKK and actual witchcraft along with other heavy issues.  I remember finishing this book late at night while I was in high school and then crying for hours into my pillow until I finally fell asleep. It was powerful to me then, and I haven’t had the guts to re-read it yet, but it is on my TBR list.

Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst DogMarley and Me by John Grogan

I have this on my list because the book came to me at a turning point in college.  I wasn’t reading for fun anymore, but then I picked this hardback up and became super excited about books again.  And this is only like the 3rd piece of nonfiction I’ve ever actually read and finished.  AND this is a great TRUE story!(Even though I cried for hours upon hours throughout the book: I’m a dog person.)

Magyk (Septimus Heap, #1)Magyk series by Angie Sage

A fast and fun “get-away-from-your-life” series.  The characters are great, the story is action-packed, and the setting is pretty unique.  I love this series and enjoy recommending to kids. (P.S. The newest book in the series, Fyre, comes out this month on the 16th!)

The Princess Bride Princess Bride by William Goldman

I loved the movie and then I discovered the book.  I’m still baffled by some of the author commentary in the book.  I did get most of it was sarcasm, but was all of it? Anywho, the actual story story was amazing! Again there’s adventure, action, and romance…winning combination!

The True Story of Hansel and GretelThe True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

This is another book I haven’t read since high school because of how heartbreaking it is, but it was a story that stuck with me.  I didn’t pay attention to the parallels between the book and the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel so I honestly can’t say if there are similarities, but for me it was just a powerful WWII novel. It is quite graphic in its descriptions and it will mostly likely make you cry, but it was a book I had to buy.

What are some my amazing reader’s favorite reads from before 2011?

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