Archive for ‘Talking books’

2018, May 11

Fiction Blog Tour: Louisiana Catch by Sweta Vikram

Today’s blog post is a stop on Sweta Vikram’s Fiction Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours.

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I wanted to read Louisiana Catch, because it seemed like a great book to read where the issues of abuse, grief and personal growth and transformation are well-detailed within a story line. The book didn’t fail to provide just that!

As is with many of the books I read, after starting to read I began to see similarities between Ahana and myself. In today’s World, it is all too easy and almost a given one experiences abuse, in some form or other, on a daily basis. Verbal abuse, raunchy humor, mean comments, e-mails and the alike come to mind off the bat.

Some may say that the novel’s ending is predictable, or that something gets lost in cliches, but I can only imagine since it is so difficult in real-life to navigate the above mentioned, the range of emotions Ahana must’ve felt when faced/being stuck with abuse and topping it off with the loss of her mother.

Moving on is difficult, and you feel like there is no escape. There won’t be sunny days anymore even if you’re already got sunburn for the third time this year. Something as simple as looking out the window can feel daunting and you might close your eyes every time you walk past your bedroom curtain from a certain angle. Even simply talking about such things is difficult, because most of the time we don’t have people around us who truly understand, not having gone through the same experiences.
Grief is personal, and this novel helped me navigate some of mine.

I believe that this novel shows us, in Ahana, a woman who dares to take charge of her own life. We take so many things for granted in the communities we live, we don’t think of other cultures. And we also don’t think much of abse happening in our own homes if it’s not happening to us. I believe that the story here would make people think of who they are letting into their lives, and who they let close enough to hurt them.

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Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death and her dark past by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate the Annual Women’s Conference to raise awareness around violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium brings the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about trust and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her faith in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues: both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

Published this April by Modern History Press, you can find Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s 268 pages long book, Louisiana Catch, on GoodReadsAmazonBarnes & Nobleand Powells.

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Louisiana Catch is a triumph. In Ahana, Sweta Vikram has created an unforgettable character, strong, wise, and deeply human, who’ll inspire a new generation struggling to come to terms with their identity in a world of blurring identities.”  Karan Bajaj, New York Times bestselling author, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

“In Louisiana Catch, Sweta Vikram brings life to complex human rights issues of violence against women. Through one woman’s journey to make sense of and ultimately heal, Vikram shows us that yoga can reconnect us to ourselves and that by empowering others we transform our own lives.”  – Zoe Lepage, Founder, Exhale to Inhale

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More about the author:

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a best-selling author of 11 books, a wellness columnist, and a mindfulness writing coach.  Featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” Sweta writes about women, multiculturalism, and identity. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nice countries and three continents. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel.

Born in India, Sweta grew up between the Indian Himalayas, Northern Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. Exposure to this vast societal spectrum inspired her to become an advocate for social issues and also to get certified as a Holistic Health Counselor. In this avatar, Sweta is the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife through which she helps people elevate their productivity and creativity using Ayurveda and yoga. A certified yoga teacher, Sweta also teaches yoga and mindfulness to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. She lives with her husband in New York City.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Sweta Vikram’s website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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2018, January 5

My 2017 in books

In 2017, I challenged myself to read 25 books and made it one book past that, to 26 instead. It was a true challenge as unexpected circumstances got me depressed and in no mood to do anything, let alone sit down and read. So what I did read was both for fun and for work and barely anything stands out.

The total page count comes to 4417, with the longest book being “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris at 707 pages.

My top favorite reads of 2017 are:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved my friend Janel Gradowski’s, “Facing your fears”guest blog post inspired by “Big Magic” so much, that I looked forward to reading the book last year. I actually received it for my birthday in May 2016, except in Romanian which I didn’t care for, so it was really great to finally dive into it in English. I can honestly say I loved the book and Janel’s impressions of it are so very true.
  • “House Sitting Secrets Revealed: Learn to excel at house sitting from a successful full-time house sitter” by Crystal Gabrielle – This is one very long title, but I absolutely adored the book. I have a friend who house sits on a regular basis and I’ve been asking her questions sometimes, and have to admit was at times jealous of her being able to visit so many nice places and explore those cities while she’s house sitting. I loved the book because it explains so well what house sitting means, it is full of examples, resources and of truly great tips and advice drilling down to the specifics for those who wish to pursue this as a side-hustle or even as a full-time endeavor, while still remaining an easy read.
  •  “That Was the Year” by Jenny Bravo – I looked forward to reading the newest novel in the TATM series which I bought right after it was published in December 2016. It took me back to my younger years, it was a somewhat frenetic read, but a good read about friendship with romance thrown in, which is how life turns out to be so often.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2017 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

I am challenging myself to read 25 books in 2018. Here’s hoping it’ll be much easier than it was last year.

Here’s to a great 2018, filled with lots of reading!

2017, November 3

Fall Memoir Blog Tour: The First Signs of April, A Memoir by Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s Fall Memoir Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout November.

It is the first memoir book tour held by Poetic Book Tours, entitled The First Signs of April, and it is a lovely one if I may say so myself.

Mary-Elizabeth graciously accepted to write a guest post for Life’s a Stage,  and answers a couple of my questions as I was especially curious about her splitting her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. Read on to find out!

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Having recently sold my home, closed my psychotherapy practice, and resigned my teaching position; I boarded a plane for Ireland where I lived for one year.
It might read like the typical bucket list story of a middle-aged woman packing up and moving to a foreign country in search of a better life, but it’s not. Living in Ireland was never something I hoped to do one day before I died, not something to tick off the wish list of maybe someday events. Instead, the idea was one deeply rooted in the connection I have for the tiny town of Dingle on the southwest coast of Ireland.

It started twenty years ago on my first visit to Ireland. As the plane approached the runway I saw patchwork green fields speckled with white dots that turned into sheep as the plane came to rest on the tarmac. I noticed my body relax and soften as tears welled in my eyes. “Home,” I whispered. Something ancient stirred deep within and was awakened, a spiritual connection to the place, the history, the people.
Some have suggested perhaps a past life. Maybe. All I know is that every time I am in Ireland I have the exact same experience and I can’t explain it or even understand it. I just know I am home.

So, for one year I made my home in Dingle, Ireland. The story of that year is my next book, but it was in Dingle that I completed the First Signs of April. It was in Dingle that I rediscovered my authentic self and began to walk a different path on my life’s journey. I knew at the end of that year I couldn’t simply leave and return to the United States with only the memories to carry with me. So, I told the universe and anyone who would listen that I would return to the states and find a way to live my summers in Vermont, where I love to ride my motorcycle, my winters on Cape Cod where so many of my family and friends live, and travel twice a year to Dingle.
Choosing such a path without knowing where I would live or how I would pay my way has been and continues to be scary. I have been tempted by options offering financial security that would require living in places I don’t particularly like doing work that takes from my soul rather than feeds it, so I walked away, something most just shake their heads in disbelief about.
Sometimes, you just have to take the leap and trust that you’ll land exactly where you’re supposed to land.

It’s just a year now that I’ve been back in the States. I was able to live on Cape Cod for the winter, albeit helping to care for elderly parents. Funny how the universe delivers sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences. I lived the summer and most of the fall in Vermont where I have had an unusually long motorcycle – riding season and am about to head back to the Cape to set up my new home base in a little cottage nestled near to the sea.
I’m making it happen by finding work I enjoy and that allows for the time and space to focus more directly on writing. I am blessed in so many ways but one in particular is the gift of my willingness to take a leap without knowing the answers or outcomes, and to do it in spite of the anxiety and fear that always finds its way in.
I am beginning to understand that this is the only way for me to truly live my authentic life. It really is that simple.

~~~

Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Published by She Writes Press, you can find Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s 280 pages long memoir, The First Signs of April, on Amazon and on BookDepository.

More about the author:

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads, or on Facebook.

2017, October 13

Review: Diana Raab’s, Writing for Bliss

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

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“… sometimes the simplest of inquiries require the most complex answers. When posing the more personal questions about our lives, sometimes it can take years to come up with the answers.” ~ Diana Raab, Writing for Bliss

I loved Diana Raab’s book, Writing for Bliss, because it is filled with so much knowledge presented in the most lovely form of writing. An experienced writer and Ph.D, her how-to guide doesn’t come off as condescending in its advice and teachings, but rather through Diana’s creative journey guides the reader through his own journey.

The seven steps to follow are: preparing to write, cultivating self-awareness, speaking your truth, examining your life, finding your form, unleashing with poetry, and sharing your writing.
By using the writing prompts scattered throughout the book, the writing techniques, topics and other tools, the reader is also encouraged to not follow the book to the T, since as Diana herself explains it, creativity is not a linear process. I certainly agree with that statement.

Reading this book has made me think about my own writing. A lot. Losing track of time is good.

I started my blog in 2008, and ever since then, I have written blog posts, poems, flash fiction and short stories for many different reasons; to lose myself, to let go of stress, to get together with my writer friends, to have some “me” time, to feel healthy, to be a part of writing events and communities.
There are many other reasons why writing is a part of my life, it is a part of me and who I am.
My dearest friendships have been formed because of writing…we often say that we solve the worlds problems during our writing. And certainly we have come up with amazing ideas that have been expressed and have been featured in several online magazines, on different writing websites and in both e-format and print anthologies.

Using the book as a guide has resulted in lots of writing on my part, and I am so happy for it!

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see below).

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

2017, October 6

Book Spotlight: Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October. I will also have a book review up, so make sure to check back next Friday, 13th of October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by-step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see author bio below).

~~~

The book has already received advanced praise!

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

2017, April 7

Finding your awesome

Today I want to take a second to talk about a very cool, illustrated creative journal, FIND YOUR AWESOME, by my friend Judy Clement Wall.

It seems to me that everyone lately is only thinking about themselves, and it makes me sad.
I think when people are dealing with some things in their lives, they tend to forget that everyone else also has stuff to deal with – more or less difficult then they themselves are. This is where it’d be great to also focus on others, because it really doesn’t take much time or effort to be attentive, and if one can, why not make someone’s day better? Even by simply smiling at them, by saying hello and asking how they are, it’s already a step in the right direction.
We need to be better, to be humans and care. Thinking about others will always make you a better person.

That said, it also seems to me that among family and friends, many people rarely put themselves first, or do, or buy things for themselves.
Yes, doing things with others will help make them be/feel special in your life.
But on the other hand, I believe that we need to take care of ourselves in order to fully be able to be the better people I described above. For people to truly be able to love other people and be kind, it all starts with self-love.

This is the message my friend j transmits through her creative journal. Go read her blog post about it, and watch her very cool animated book trailer!

In her own words, she wrote and illustrated FIND YOUR AWESOME not to help people become someone new, but to help them uncover the imaginative, openhearted, amazing selves they already are. She truly believes that if one completes this book, committing oneself to just 30 days of self-discovery and celebration, it will change how they move in the world and infuse their life with love, fun, connection, and creativity.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the journal! I believe that it’ll be, like everything j creates, a beautiful piece of art as well as a very useful tool for people to well… find their awesome.

J also has a challenge in store for her readers and friends – 30 days of self-love! Here’s the excerpt from her website:

“On May 15th, I’ll be embarking on my own 30-day self-love challenge using FIND YOUR AWESOME, and I’d love for you to join me. There will be a Facebook group, short daily emails of encouragement, and more animated videos to inspire you. It’ll be free, fun, and good for your soul, plus if you sign up, you’ll be automatically entered to win a signed copy of FIND YOUR AWESOME. (Even if you’ve already purchased my book , sign up. These little journals make wonderful gifts.)
I’ll be posting more about the book and the challenge over the next several weeks.”

Haven’t done a self-love challenge in a while, so I’ve already signed up, and I think I’ll post a little summary blog post every week on Fridays while the challenge lasts. They were fun to do during my year of following the 52/52 e-guide‘s assignments every week, so I’m looking forward to it!

2017, January 6

My 2016 in books

In 2016, I challenged myself to read 20 books and made it to 23 instead. I have to admit, that includes both reading for fun and for work, but hey, at least sometimes I’m getting paid to read so I won’t complain!

At the end of 2015, I won an Amazon gift card at work, and promptly ordered a few books for myself, which my dear friend from London was so kind to bring with her when she visited her grandmother so I could make use of Amazon stores “free shipping in the UK” policies. I have to say, I haven’t finished reading half of those titles, but I am very happy to have them close by.

my-year-2016-in-books

I read in several genres, from murder mystery, romance, young adult, to poetry, recipes, instructional books, and even fairy tales and a comic book.

One book that I regret not finishing this year is the DOODLE ART HANDBOOK: The Non-Artist’s Guide in Creative Drawing by Lana Karr, Olga Dee,  especially because I would’ve liked to doodle more, and this book is wonderful for someone just starting out in that department.

The total page count only comes to 3521, with the longest book being The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press at 1026 pages.

My favorite reads of 2016 are actually series rather than single books this time around:

  • Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski – In June, I took part in Janel Gradowski’s book launch tour, and for this occasion I re-read the novels I finished before, and read the ones I haven’t from her culinary competition mystery book series.
    When I finished reading Banana Muffins & Mayhem, the fifth novel, I came to the conclusion that it was my favorite of the series. As much as I love the main character, Amy, I really loved getting a different POV from her best friend Carla in this novel. Reading the book coincided with a pretty complicated year in my life, and especially some of the advice given to Amy regarding life and family I have taken as my own silver lighting and put my worries aside for now.
  • These Are the Moments, by Jenny Bravo – I have to say, I fell in love with Jenny Bravo’s writing style! She writes with such ease, yet conveys such raw, complicated and powerful emotions through her characters, that I was drawn in from the very first sentence of each book.
    Although I loved every single one of the books, These Are the Moments was my favorite of the series so far. As the book’s description befittingly states, this young adult and new adult fiction novel dares to ask the questions: Do people ever really change? Do two people, who can never make it work, actually make it right? And most importantly, do they even want to?
    I actually read the Those Were the Days: A TATM Short Story (in a heartbeat!) first, which was free on Kindle (Amazon), and immediately bought the novel and also the novella Moments Like These: A TATM novella. I look forward to reading the newest novel in the series which I bought right after it was published in December, That Was the Year, and already can’t wait for the third novel!

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

2016-in-books

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2016 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

Since I would’ve liked to read even more last year but did end up surpassing my goal, I decided to challenge myself to read 25 books in 2017. That was my goal in 2013, too, and just like that year, I totally plan to update this with higher numbers over the course of the year!
I am already ahead of schedule with a book I finished reading on January 2nd ;)

Here’s to a great 2017, filled with lots of reading!

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