The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (Book Review)

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The Silent Songbird

by Melanie Dickerson

Young Adult / Christian / Historical Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / The Little Mermaid / Medieval


_225_350_book-2070-coverEvangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal—until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Published November 8, 2016, by Thomas Nelson


Links — find The Silent Songbird on:

Thomas Nelson | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads


My Review

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5starratingAnother enchanting, romantic Young Adult fairytale retelling from Melanie Dickerson!

Evangeline, a young woman with a beautiful voice (and the ward of King Richard), is kept in a castle but longs to go out into the world. She finds her chance when she must escape marriage to a horrible man, and meets a caring young man named Westley le Wyse. Deception, scheming villains, and misunderstandings all stand in her way, as she tries to escape her fate and find love and a deeper faith in God.

I was curious how a retelling of The Little Mermaid would work with no magic and not even a mermaid, but it worked wonderfully in this book! It was so fun to pick out the references and see how the retelling wove through the story in surprising yet fitting ways.

The plot was so interesting and really kept me on my toes, wondering what would happen next and how it would all work out. It had a lot going on, was exciting and sweet by turns, and kept me totally absorbed in the lives of these characters, who felt so real. I loved them!

Evangeline was a good heroine, who I quite liked. Westley was the best—endearing, noble, kind, with a sense of humor, though also conflicted about a lot of things going on, and quite energetic which for some reason was really cool. I liked him a lot. I also love their names! (Speaking of the name Westley… I couldn’t help grinning when Eva told Westley “as you wish” once. I loved that! :D)

The romance was so sweet and beautiful—loved it—and the Christian elements were also lovely.

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Hagenheim books! Only missing The Golden Braid…

The other characters were great to read about as well: Lord and Lady le Wyse, Westley’s parents—his mother was so nice, and his father was simply awesome. Reeve Folsham, too. He was a gruff character who surprised me by really growing on me. The rest of the characters were all well-written.

The whole book, in fact, was written excellently. And I loved the setting, which I felt so immersed in: the medieval English countryside and castles! So awesome. ❤ I also loved that King Richard was in the story!

The book started out a little predictably (heroine supposed to marry old, ugly, evil man, and determined to escape), so that part sounded somewhat like other books (but I suppose that couldn’t be helped, and it quickly moved on to become surprising and intriguing). Otherwise, I didn’t have any real complaints and I just really enjoyed it. 🙂

I’m aware this is a sort of sequel to The Merchant’s Daughter by the same author, which I’ve not read yet, and I can tell that anyone who read it will love reading this one and seeing references and characters from before. But The Silent Songbird also stands alone, and my lack of familiarity with the first one didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading this. In fact, it’s made me even more excited to go back and read The Merchant’s Daughter, very soon, to read the story of Westley’s parents!

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Three generations of le Wyse brides! 😉

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Melanie Dickerson’s novels, or thinking of trying one for the first time, I highly recommend picking up The Silent Songbird! It’s one of my favorites of her books so far, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next release. 🙂


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Retellings, anyone? I know I certainly can’t resist reading them. 😄 Have you ever read a retelling of The Little Mermaid?

“Past-Present-Future” Giveaway

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Here is the second giveaway to celebrate my 3rd Blogoversary!

Past/Present/Future is the theme, since I’m celebrating the past of my blog (3 years of it), the present of my blog (with giveaways and tags, yay!), and the future of my blog, looking forward, Lord willing, to many more fun times of posting! 🙂

Thanks everyone for coming with me so far. ^_^

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For this giveaway I’ve chosen 3 books: a historical fiction for the past, a contemporary novel for the present, and a dystopian novel for the future. (Hopefully the future will not be like that. AHEM.)

Past

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One winner will receive an ARC paperback copy of The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson (historical fiction/Christian YA romance/fairytale retelling set in Germany in the 1400s). Read my review here.

Present

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A second winner will receive a copy of The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, which is like my favorite contemporary novel ever. ❤ SERIOUSLY, I ADORE IT. ^_^ If you’ve not read this, you are missing out on a perfect slice of summer and fun and family and friendship.

Future

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And a third winner will receive a paperback copy of Captives by Jill Williamson. I am not the hugest fan of dystopian (nothing to do with this book, which is really well-written; it’s just me in particular and this genre do not mix well), but I know many people are, so I thought I’d give a chance to win this one! Please note that I feel like it’s not appropriate for younger readers (I personally would say 18 and up) so keep that in mind if you choose it.

Details

3 winners. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway will run from today (Fri., Sept. 16) until Thursday, September 29. Winners (3) will be chosen and contacted by email and also announced here on my blog, on September 30, 2016.

EDIT: The winners have been announced! Thanks for participating!

(If the embedded form doesn’t work for you, you can find it here.)

How about you, my roadlings? Do you prefer past, present, or future in your books? Have you read any of these? Want to? Share your thoughts! 🙂

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

beautifulpretenderThe Beautiful Pretender

(Thornbeck/Medieval Fairy Tale Romance, #2)

by Melanie Dickerson

Adult Christian Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / Beauty and the Beast & The Princess and the Pea

Published May 17, 2016 by Thomas Nelson


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My Review of The Beautiful Pretender

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5 stars

I loved this book so much! Definitely a favorite of Melanie Dickerson’s books, for me. Ever since meeting the Margrave of Thornbeck Forest in the first book in this series (THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST), I simply couldn’t wait to read THE BEAUTFUL PRETENDER to get his story. I liked this one even more than the first book!

Although THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER is a sequel, it can very easily be read alone (though readers of the first book will be delighted, as I was, to see Jorgen and Odette, the hero and heroine of the first book, throughout this one!). If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — just read this one right away because it’s even better! Adults and young adults alike would I think enjoy it. (I don’t recall anything about it that teens wouldn’t be okay reading. :))

I have a thing for fairy tales, so the retelling aspect was awesome. It was somewhat subtle at times, much like it was in the first book, but I could definitely see the hints of the Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea plots. It was fabulous! I loved seeing them weave throughout the plot, so much a part of it but also so original. I was quite impressed with that.

It also got rather exciting, especially later in the book. So much excitement! Peril and plots and deception and wolves and fire and mystery and all of that thrilling stuff. I also absolutely LOVE how the book turned out at the end! Not to give anything away, but that ending was super satisfying! 😉

The setting was also splendid — a castle in medieval Germany, yay! I just want to live at Thornbeck Castle in Thornbeck Forest in the snow!

The characters in this book were splendid. Let me go through them:

Reinhart, the margrave, was incredibly awesome. He’s very much of the “Beast” type of character, gruff and stern and growly, but he’s also a fundamentally great guy, just embittered at the world about his injured ankle and having to choose a wife when he doesn’t want to. He was my favorite! I really felt for him, and his dark, grouchy, short-tempered, man-of-few-words personality was so fun to read about. Beneath it all he’s actually noble and awesome.

Avelina was a wonderful main character. Her struggles with having to impersonate a Lady when she’s only a servant, were really interesting to read about. I also love her name! She and Reinhart have the best romance story — I loved it so much! Melanie Dickerson pens another sweet love story which was so enormously enjoyable to read. Especially with how complicated their story is… 😉 I also really loved the alternating viewpoints between them!

Lady Magdalen, who befriends Avelina, was another character I really liked. She was fabulous and such a good friend to Avelina. Magdalen was so NICE. With all the people being nasty to poor Avelina, it was so refreshing to read about a really sweet character like her. 🙂 I haven’t read an adorable friendship like that in a long time. It was touching and wonderful. Magdalen was so lovely and I hope we’ll see more of her in the third book…

Jorgen and Odette are pretty much Reinhart’s right-hand people in this one, so they’re in the story a lot, which was great. They’re so helpful, nice, and awesome. Loved seeing them more in this book! They really added to it in a good way.

I don’t really have any complaints. I do wish there had been more with Reinhart, maybe him talking more; but he’s not a talkative sort of person, so that was in character, I suppose… But really, no major complaints. It was just so good! I’m very much looking forward to another Thornbeck tale from Mrs. Dickerson… Her novels are always so enjoyable and this was one of the best yet! Now what are you waiting for? Go read THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER! Go on! 🙂

Many thanks to the author for the Advance Reader’s Copy of this book which I received in exchange for my honest review. These opinions are my own.

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About the Book

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Publisher


About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

You can find her online at www.MelanieDickerson.com.

Return of the Ishness! {March 2016}

We will just ignore the fact that while I was trying to write this post I got distracted looking at Sherlock pins on Pinterest for far longer than I would care to admit. Yep. Because That Would Never Happen. John-est. Honest. Never.

Ahem.

Anyways, THAT was a sidetrack. But HI! Hello everyone! ^_^ I’m… trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it’s April? Say what?

I’ve also kind of… forgotten to post over here. *shifty eyes* I’ve been posting bookish things on my book blog, so it vaguely slipped my mind that I hadn’t posted here in awhile, what with not having life/writing things to say. But I am back! 🙂

And now that we’re a week into April *cough* it’s time to look at what happened in March…

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WRITING

R&RThe month started off with the Rooglewood Press announcements, putting a bookend on my first writing contest, which was definitely an interesting experience! I’m very glad I wrote The Rose and the Raven and glad I entered; and actually, now, glad I didn’t win. I’m not ready for that kind of pressure, that kind of being-edited, and it’s quite clear that my somewhat whimsical, more fantasy retelling would not have fitted with the selection that was finally made…

Anyways! I learned a lot about writing and cutting words and editing under a deadline and all that good stuff. 🙂

Now that this chapter of my writing is closed for now (I’ll likely go back to the story and re-edit/add some eventually but not right now), I feel ready to focus on something else! …What that something else will be remains to be seen, though. 😉

OHEcoverAs far as what I actually wrote in March, I wrote a bit of The Other Half of Everything for later on in the story (Teague and Meridian are so fun to write…).

I also finally edited the horrendous bits of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood that I wrote during NaNo (they were a mess) and wrote a bit more of that, officially finishing Part 1 of KW2! *confetti* (We’ll just ignore the fact that it’s passed 60k and only allegedly one-third done… *cough*) But that was a HUGE milestone for me! I’ve been trying to get to that point for a looong time. Very excited about that! Though… my characters are not. Ahem. Tare may or may not be verrry done with me right now. >.>

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I printed out Part 1 as a reward/incentive

And as per usual, there’s a lot of plotting of various books going on. I changed the title of my epic fantasy series from The Starrellian Saga to The Princes of Starrellia (because… er… there are many characters of a princely variety… And I like the sound of it). I’ve been working a bit on that.

I also have a new-ish book knocking at the back of my brain to be let in, which is actually a combination of several different ideas I’d had before (namely a sci-fi/mind thing, an alleged Doctor Who fanfic which I’m taking the germ of the story and just making it an original, as well as a steampunk time-travel thing, another time-travel thing involving books, and another vague idea featuring a very special library). This new/old story is called The Library in the Stars and it’s still in fledgling state, especially since I haven’t sorted out exactly how all the threads fit together, but I’m excited to see what happens with it.

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So that’s what’s going on on the writing front for me! I’m still a bit writer’s-blocked and having a hard time focusing. I consequently decided to spend much of March reading instead.

Speaking of which . . .

READING

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Again, these are in reverse-order of when I read them, because it’s from my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

I read 13 books in March which is… a lot for me.

What a mix! Some Moomin books (a fun, hilarious children’s fantasy series originally written in Swedish); a couple of Regency books; two utterly different fantasy books set in modern-day Ireland (Blood Ties and Skulduggery Pleasant); a time-travel book; a collection of essays on writing; a splendid Beauty and the Beast retelling from Melanie Dickerson of which I got an ARC and hope to review soon; and another Diana Wynne Jones book, featuring centaurs and a Sci-fi/Fantasy Convention and tons of wackiness.

I will likely post a reading roundup on my book blog soonish… (I know, I know, I still haven’t posted my roundup for February. *cough* It will happen, it will…)

ON MY BOOK BLOG

I took part, slightly, in March Magics, which was quite fun, most notably listing the books by Diana Wynne Jones that I’ve read so far. Yay!

WATCHING

I got to see Thor: The Dark World again (yay!) and greatly enjoyed being able to actually see the faces and what was actually going on due to not having a bunch of fog between myself and the screen. Thor and Loki together are the BEST. 😄

I also finally saw The Guardians of the Galaxy, which everyone and their Groot have been telling me to watch ever since it came out, and found it extremely odd but quite fun and sometimes hilarious.

I also saw Megamind, which… again, quite weird but more fun than I’d expected.

(Are you noticing a trend? Lots of superhero movies…)

And I pretty much finished watching Jeeves & Wooster. SO fun!

But most of all, I saw the first season of an original fantasy webseries, Ren: The Girl with the Mark, by the people who made the Lord of the Rings fan-film prequel, Born of Hope, and I loved it! Now they just need to do a second season! O_O (Seriously though, they need to. NEED!!!) In case you are wondering, it was AMAZING and I have very definite opinions on if you should watch it or not. (Hint: YOU TOTALLY SHOULD.)

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MUSIC

Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that I got to see my favorite singer in concert this March for my birthday? Hearing Loreena McKennitt live on stage was MAGICAL. ❤ (If you’ve never heard her gorgeous Celtic music, you’re missing out.) Loreena herself was so lovely — charming, witty, insightful, and gracious. I just love her music so much, and it was so immersive live! So many emotions with that amazing music — one moment achingly beautiful, another hauntingly sad, and the next laughing at one of her jokes. It was so much fun, so gorgeous, and I was utterly enchanted. An incredible experience that I’m so thankful to have had the chance to have. ^_^

LIFE

‘Twas an interesting month, was March.

I kind of struggled through the Rooglewood announcements and other involved things (though I’m over that one now, thankfully! :)), Daylight Savings Time (argh! I still have not recovered. -_- *shakes clock because surely it must be incorrect*), a lot of various writing self-doubts (thanks very much for all the support on that! I love you guys! ❤ ), and a bout of writer’s block, which is lurking still, slightly…

But aside from that, the rest was really an amazing month. 🙂 I read a lot of fabulous birthday books (and a few review books), saw Loreena McKennitt, enjoyed my very first Twitter Party (for Diana Wynne Jones. It was SO FUN!) and generally… lived. Which is good, I guess. 😉

I’ve also gotten back into listening to Corey Olsen, The Tolkien Professor, since it’s handy to have something to listen to while exercising, and I had wanted to get back to listening but hadn’t found an excuse. So this is awesome and I’m very excited to get caught up on some of his awesome (free!) podcasts and lectures on Tolkien and Faerie & Fantasy and other works of literature. 🙂 Corey’s a really awesome guy, both funny and really interesting, to listen to. I always have great fun with his lectures! ^_^

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APRIL THINGS

*ignores fact that we’re already a week into the month* Dunno what my plans are for this month besides all the reading I need to do. I’ll (hopefully) have a few book reviews popping up over here soonish!

I am not, in fact, doing Camp NaNo, but for those of you who are, I wish you the best of luck, you awesome people! YOU’VE GOT THIS! I do however hope to figure out what writing projects to work on and get some writing done all the same… but we will see. *fingers crossed*

That was my March! How was yours? Any plans for April? I hope you’ll have a wonderful month! 🙂

Nov. Ishness (Part 1) & Dec. Nightstand Books

In which I talk about November without the writing part, and lots and lots of BOOOKS.

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So, I was working on my Ishness post, and realized I had finished the NON-writerly/non-NaNo part of it and was avoiding the NaNo stuff because it’s sooo confusing and complicated and insane and… yes. Plus it’s probably going to be long.

So I decided, Hey! Why not just post this part as Part 1, along with my December Nightstand books, and do the writerly NaNo part later?

(I WILL do it, I promise. My brain just… doesn’t want to think of writerly things right now. *collapses and wraps up in a shock blanket*)

I know what you’re thinking. “Waiiiit a minute, this person managed to do things during NaNo that WEREN’T writing?? HOW EVEN.” I know, I know. But, strangely, it did happen. So here are some highlights of my month, with pictures because I happen to love pictures.

During November, besides writing, I also managed to…

Go to a library sale.

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archersgoonRead a book (huzzah!), namely Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones. It was fabulous and mind-boggling and I adored it. It effortlessly blends past, present, future, ordinary contemporary, fantasy, and sci-fi, of which I have NEVER seen the like. Also the characters are in a constant state of changing around in the eyes of the reader: who’s good, who’s bad, who has devious intents, WHO IS UP TO WHAT AND WHAT ON EARTH OR POSSIBLY OFF OF IT IS GOING ON??? O_O Basically it broke my brain, mixed impossible things together extraordinarily well, had mind-blowing plot twists (SERIOUS. PLOT. TWISTS. WOW. *flail*) and was exciting and breathtaking and downright HILARIOUS! Just. Gaaah. Let me flail. All Diana Wynne Jones books are brilliant. I just love them so much. ❤

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Started reading Six of Crows because it was at the library and gorgeous and new and I needed it.

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Survived being an ML, i.e. doing lots of organizing, posting, emailing, and going to oodles of NaNo events. (If you’re looking for my introvert self, it’s rocking back and forth in a corner, feeling rather shriveled and glad to be back after so much excitement and fun…)

Caught a cold. Yay. (NaNo-ing when one is sick is NOT fun; I do not recommend it.)

Had Thanksgiving which was wonderful and foodish.

It’s gone. Because I ate it all. Because Thanksgiving piiiie. Nomnom.

Blogged a lot. Because I made the mistake of thinking I wouldn’t want to blog during November and so I scheduled posts… and then ended up writing at least a post every week anyway. Oops. 😛

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Watched some Castle episodes between writing — good reward! (I think Leverage has spoiled me for other shows… buuut ’twas still enjoyable!)

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Saw Mockingjay: Part 2, which, considering I haven’t read the books, was… interesting. (Still not sure what I think of it… I have this odd “meh” feeling that I can’t seem to sort out…) Also, FYI, going to a movie at 10 p.m. after a writing meeting when one is behind on wordcount and has a cold (and therefore going to bed at 1 a.m.) is kind of nuts, as I have now discovered. Don’t try this at home, folks.

So there are my non-writing Ishnesses of November!

December Nightstand Books

Nightstand books is a monthly meme held by Jenelle and D.J. — hop over and join in the fun! This is the last one of the year, and as I’m simply ecstatic about being able to read again now that NaNo’s insanity is over, I just can’t resist joining in this one.

I’m not sure I’ll get to all of these but they’re the ones I want to read this month:

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Book of Christmas Carols: Cute collection of Christmasy songs I picked up at a library sale, this was fun to read. ^_^

Six of Crows: Um. Aslkdhadkgh. I kind of finished this one. I don’t know what I think of it except it’s totally addicting/immersing, I love heists and snarky dialog and KAZ, it’s super dark/gritty/violent (um. Wow. o.o Lost a star…), and I need the sequel LAST WEEK ALREADY. Unfortunately, it’ll probably be like a year till it comes out. I’ll just be over here dying of suspense because CLIFFHANGER noooo. (Seriously, HOW can it end that way?! *wailing*) *huggles Kaz even though he would quite literally murder me for it* 4 stars.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients: Soo… this was weird, and adventures of a skeleton detective in a modern fantasy (Dublin, Ireland!) setting doesn’t really sound like my thing, buuut I gave this a try because I’d heard it’s hilarious with witty dialog/banter and just GIVE ME ALL THE HUMOR AND FUN DIALOG. So yes. I adored the dialog and it’s quite a fun story, a little weird at times but… *shrug* Lots of fun. And I kind of love Skulduggery a lot. 4 stars.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: I dunno if I’ll get to these but I’m vaguely contemplating reading the books now I’ve seen the movies… I’m not sure I want to inflict 1171 pages of dystopia on myself though, so we’ll see. 😛

Aaand ebooks, which sadly do not display themselves nicely on nightstands…

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The Sunken Realm: I’m reading this for review and I’m SO EXCITED to get to read the sequel to The Seahorse Legacy! I basically can’t wait. Keep an eye out for a review hopefully this month…

The Poisoned Cure: I finally got this and am insanely excited to read it. *flail* For better or worse, I seem to be addicted to the Book of Sight series…

Yorien’s Hand: Because dragons! And ARCs! And yay!

Rising Shadows: Looking forward to reading this prequel to Chasing Shadows…

Heidel: Third of the Nine Princesses novellas, I finally read this! I’m giving it 4 stars… The first part I wasn’t so sure about and didn’t know if I’d like it, but it turned out quite enjoyable/adorable. 🙂

***

Oh, and while I’m thinking about books (who am I kidding; I’m ALWAYS thinking about books…) — here’s a couple additions to last week’s Top Ten Tuesdays post. Because naturally covers like to appear just days after I showcase the books I want to read in 2016…

Cover for A Spy’s Devotion (ISN’T IT GORGEOUS I’M EVEN MORE EXCITED NOW AAHHH)

Aaaand cover for Songkeeper, sequel to Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams, which Enclave Publishing just revealed the cover of and which I’m insanely excited about because apparently it’s coming in Spring 2016 AND MY EXCITEMENT KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

I will be back with tales of my NaNo writing, hopefully soonish!