WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: August 7, 2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s simple. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your own WWW post or a feel free to comment with your responses. The best part is visiting other participants to see what they are reading. It is my favorite meme of the week!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What Are You Currently Reading?

I’m trying desperately to maintain some semblance of control as moving week is next week so I am reverting to my tried-and-true four book policy.

I’m listening to A Man Called Ove as an audiobook. It is as wonderful as everyone promised. I am about 80% through and loving it.

I am still only a few chapters into Dragonwatch, Wrath of the Dragon King because I couldn’t remember what happened in the previous book. Now I am ready to sit down and enjoy the story.

I started English Grammar: 100 Tragically Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them this week. It is a short nonfiction work with each grammatical error on a single page. I think it will be a quick read.

Finally, I have Parental Guidance on my kindle. Thankfully I selected this one yesterday since my fire alarms went off at 2:00 and 3:00 this morning. I got quite a bit of this one read in the small hours of this morning! It is setting up to be a sweet reluctant lovers contemporary romance.


What Did I Recently Finish Reading?

I finished both The Extraordinary Series by Mary Frame and Artemis Fowl, The Eternity Code. Mary Frame’s contemporary romance series was fine but I was consumed by the third book in the Artemis Fowl series. This book has some serious excitement and humor in it and kept me entertained the entire time. I cannot wait to listen the next book.


What Will I Read Next?

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I still need to start and finish Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to round out my middle grade required reading for the summer. I’ll be interested to see how differently I view this book as an adult than when I read it last.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: July 31, 2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s simple. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your own WWW post or a comment with your responses. The best part is visiting other participants to see what they are reading. It is my favorite meme of the week!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: I cannot help but list them in chronological order. It’s the history enthusiast in me.


What did I Recently Finish Reading?

I don’t know if it’s the move or my inability to focus but I have been deep into middle grade books lately. I finished Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly as an audiobook and it was an incredibly interesting middle grade book. It was a familiar story line of self discovery but the layers of culture and the added perspective of the bully was a fresh take for me.

I have also been working my way through the 6-8th grade required reading for my current area and for my new town. This is how I found When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt and Ghost by Jason Reynolds. If you want to see the issues in a community (or lack of awareness of those issues!) check out the required reading list for your local schools.

I also stumbled across Einstein, a graphic nonfiction book while at the library this week. It was cute and is a good primer on all things Einstein but, like most graphic novels, is limited in depth. This is also a good example of how a book can look appropriate for children but has mature themes.


What am I Currently Reading?

I am listening to two audiobooks, A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman which I am loving. I am approximately 40% of the way through and it is really helping me when I have to do menial tasks around the house to keep it clean. Artemis Fowl, The Eternity Code (Book 3) is my car audiobook. I am maybe 20% into that one and I love it as much as the first two.

I have finally started reading Dragonwatch, Wrath of the Dragon King by Brandon Mull. Fablehaven is one of my favorite series of all time and so I am trying to make the book last but it is so difficult because I just want to sit down and read it all.


What Will I Read Next?

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Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry is another required reading book for a local public school. I haven’t read this book for years and years but last year I volunteered with a mock trial team and the problem was based on this story. Of course, they change the facts so now I cannot remember which is which! I am going to do a quick re-read.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: July 24, 2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s simple. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your own WWW post or a comment with your responses. The best part is visiting other participants to see what they are reading. It is my favorite meme of the week!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: I cannot help but list them in chronological order. It’s the history enthusiast in me. Let’s see what I have been reading!


What did you recently finish reading?

pinned

I was lamenting my lack of blogging this week. I have been reading so much and not writing at all. I did get two posts up this week, one about Factfulness and one on Norse Mythology but, apparently, that cut into my reading time. Ah well, at least I was doing something!

The only book I finished this week was Pinned by Sharon G. Flake. I volunteer with various groups of kids and I like to read books off of the required summer reading list. Pinned is for a local school for seventh grade. I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I will enjoy talking about it with the students I hope to see soon. It was a unique story of two students trying to overcome internal adversity and had some wonderful themes about perseverance.


What are you currently reading?

I started Ghostanother required reading for a local school. I am only a few chapters into the book so I haven’t formed an opinion quite yet.

I am so close to finishing the audiobook of Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly and I have so many thoughts about this middle grade book.

I am slowly reading The Extraordinary Series by Mary Frame. I am happy to say that I haven’t read it for two days. This is a good thing as it is my designated insomnia book. That’s two nights of sleep – in a row!

I also started listening to A Man Called Ove as an audiobook. I am a few chapters into it and my inner old-person is really enjoying the character of Ove.


What do you think you’ll read next?

dragonwatch2

I have been holding onto this book because I know once I start it I won’t be able to put it down. Fablehaven is one of my favorite series of all time.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW list?


fiction

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This was always going to be a short review because: Neil Gaiman + Norse Mythology is a winning combination. Add to that the extreme heat through most of Eastern American today and I am surprised my laptop isn’t burning my legs. If you are too hot to continue reading, just know, this book is awesome and you should read it.

When Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology first became available in 2017 I tried to borrow a copy from my local library. The only format that was available was an audiobook. I listened to the first two wonderful short stories and determined, quite quickly, that I could not keep the different characters straight. The beautiful pronunciation of the Norse names simply slipped through my brain.

norsemythologyI am so glad that I purchased a physical copy and finally had the opportunity to sit down and read these re-tellings. Neil Gaiman’s storytelling is always perfection but his ability to weave a short story is mesmerizing for me. Typically, I do not enjoy short stories. But, perhaps, it is Gaiman’s graphic novel work that makes these stories seem so effortlessly enjoyable. As a bonus, since I recently finished the Magnus Chase trilogy, I also found many of the stories to be familiar!

Gaiman starts with the players and introduces us to the world of Norse Gods. I will admit that most of my Norse mythology is deeply rooted in Marvel re-tellings and so I was very interested to hear of the beginning of Odin and the relationships between Thor and Loki. Through the book the stories bob and weave into a collection that represents the beginning, the evolution, and the eventual end of the Norse gods. I felt a child-like wonder as I read each story and I was reminded of my obsessed with Aesop’s fables in childhood.  But instead of Aesop’s small lessons, Gaiman gives us character driven stories with ridiculous twists and turns and a small lesson which is usually, “It was Loki.”

If you are looking for a short story collection or are even remotely interested in Norse mythology, this book is an excellent choice!


Tell me, please!

Have you read this book?


 

nonfiction

NonFiction Friday: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We Are Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

factfulnessThis is, quite simply, the best and most uplifting book of nonfiction I have ever read.

Before reading this book I made the mistake of reading the news on a daily basis and I knew, in my heart, that everything was terrible. I could feel the terribleness of our tragic world in my bones. Around the world, people are worried about war, disease and the environment. Food shortages and genetically modified supplies haunt my dreams. Equality for all seems like a far-off goal. Let me add to that that I am an American. As an American, my country is deeply divided and, whatever your politics may be, people have become comfortable with name calling and outright lying. The drama is at an all-time high and nothing is getting accomplished. It’s all terrible. Worse, I cannot find facts on anything and so I worry about everything. 

One night, I awoke with a start, heart pounding. I reached for my middle-of-the-night buddy, my faithful Kindle. I searched for something to read and found Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund. I remember thinking, “I would like to be both full of facts and wrong about the world.” I plunged into this book and I cannot stop thinking (and talking about it.)

It turns out, I’m not “wrong” about the world so much as I was using old information. I was letting the news convince me that there was nothing but horrors around every corner. And, I couldn’t distinguish between facts and overly dramatic editorials. If you want a quick look at how the facts can make you feel better and simultaneously change the way you see the world, watch this twenty minute Ted Talk given by Hans Rosling.

He refers to his questions a number of times in this video. At the beginning of the book there is a test to see how much you know about the world. I scored….poorly. A few things I knew had changed from my childhood, but I was shocked, shocked, by how quickly the world has changed when I wasn’t looking. It was like I met the world as an adorable toddler during my early educational experience, I went on with my life and now, twenty years later, I am all “Look how big you’ve gotten!” When I wasn’t looking whole countries went from mud-soaked poverty to looking like my hometown.

But, perhaps, you are not an American. Many Americans are well aware of how little we know about the world. Perhaps you are a well-educated world traveler and aren’t surprised at all by how everything is going. But, you find yourself still scared about the state of things. That might be because it is easy to find bad things happening in the world, good things are difficult to find. For example, 40 million commercial airplanes took off and landed safely in 2016 and ten crashed. Each crash was covered extensively. This gives the perception that air travel is not safe when, in fact, 2016 was the safest year on record to fly (this is also the last year of available statistics for the book so, don’t panic). We see this pattern repeated ad nauseam. Bad news gets people attention.

So we have copious amount of bad news. Some of us are using old information. Then there is the feeling that when there is more to do, we cannot talk about the successes we can see. We have dramatic instincts and we combine that with an overly dramatic worldview. It is no wonder we are sure we are all doomed.

To combat this, Factfulness has ten rules of thumb all designed to get our brains used to analyzing data and learning new things about our world everyday. The environment needs work, some people will always need help, and we can always do better. But, honestly, its not as bad as I thought it was.

I still read the news everyday. But I look for the facts. I watch for gaps, straight lines that are just assumed, and resist that feeling of urgency without knowledge. And I look for what isn’t being reported because that is where the good news is hiding.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever had a book radically change the way you look at the world?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: July 17, 2019

I have sat down to write a couple of reviews this week and gotten less accomplished than I wanted to. I never like to do back-to-back WWW’s with nothing in-between but, sometimes, good enough is all you can do. Plus, WWW Wednesday is my favorite for keeping me organized and I am a HOT mess this week as the move approaches.

WWW Wednesday is graciously hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.


What Did I Recently Finish Reading?

I wrapped up Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I tried, really tried, to write a review of this book. This is my favorite book I have read this year. It will take the place of honor next to The Poisoner’s Handbook. It is an amazing work of nonfiction. This fascinating book of nonfiction gives you ten reasons why the world is better than you think. It reached right into my anxiety riddled brain and soothed it. It deserves a perfect review. I’m working on it.

I finished the audiobook version of Yes, Please by Amy Poehler this morning. I think she is hilarious but, for some reason, the cover of this book evoked a “yes, please, another drink over here” vibe to me and I skipped it when it was new. I wish I hadn’t. Instead, the book is bursting with profoundly deep thoughts, hilarious observations, and funny stories. I was a fan, now I’m a massive fan.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is another audiobook I finished this week. This book is a middle grade book with a message we all need to hear over and over again. “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” Ally cannot read. She is twelve. Since her father is in the military, she has moved and hidden her inability to read for years. But now, she has a new teacher. Mr. Daniels sees her and recognizes her problem as dyslexia. I love this book.

Norse Mythology is a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman. I tried, years ago, to listen to this as an audiobook but I couldn’t keep the Norse characters straight in my head. I’m so glad I bought the physical copy. It is excellent.

Ridorkulous by Mary Frame is a sweet contemporary romance that I purchased in the middle of the night when insomnia stopped by for a visit. Super cute romance blossoms between two college students forced to compete for the last rentable room in their college town. It was highly implausible and just as highly entertaining.


What am I Currently Reading?

I was at my local library and saw that Ghost and Pinned were required reading for seventh graders this year. I had already read the required reading for the other grades so I wanted to tackle these two before school starts. I like to have a jumping off point when talking to kids about books.

I am also listening to Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly as an audiobook and it is good. Told from shifting perspectives of four middle schoolers I was sucked right into the story. I am especially in love with Lola, the grandmother of the protagonist. I am also fascinated with the author’s choice to make the bully a character with a voice.

Finally, after finishing Ridorkulous I downloaded another of Mary Frame’s books on my Kindle. I like having a romance to read in the middle of the night when my thoughts keep   me awake.


What Will I Read Next?

I have Brene Brown’s highly acclaimed book Rising Strong cued up as my next audiobook. I was also recommended The Rise of Winter by Alex Lyttle when I was talking to a student about marvelous middle grade books.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: July 10, 2019

Before we begin, I want it to be clear. Any reading that didn’t get accomplished is absolutely and directly the fault of the delightful Levy family. If they had not made season five of Schitt’s Creek available to me, I would have gotten more done. No one, I repeat, no onecan resist The Rose Family. Blame them and their perfect television show.

Anyway, onto WWW Wednesday! Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, WWW always helps me keep my massive reading piles organized. Also, hopping around to see what other people are reading ensures that my TBR is never ending. It is my favorite weekly posting of them all!


What Did I Recently Finish Reading?

Each of these was excellent! I reviewed both The Night Gardener and Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow in my recent post Marvelous Middle Grade BooksThe Night Gardener is the perfect level of scary for my wimpy self and Nevermoor was a delightful surprise.

I also read, love, and reviewed Stories for Boys who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks in my most recent NonFiction Friday. This book is another in the middle grade level. Reading about the different ways diverse boys have found their unique path felt so inspiring.


What am I Currently Reading?

I know that I have more than this on my “currently reading” shelf over at Goodreads, but I have to focus. I am more than half way through Factfulness by Hans Rosling and it is excellent. I am slowly savoring the wonder that is Norse Mythology. And, I am listening to both Yes, Please and Fish in a Tree as audiobooks. I do a lot of running around while I tie up loose ends lately and audiobooks are perfect for this.


What Will I Read Next?

Who knows?!? I really need to clear off the remainder of my “currently reading” list on Goodreads.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

Middle Grade

Marvelous Middle Grade Books

This summer has been a bit….hectic. What with the move and all, I find myself short on the type of energy needed to properly read a variety of more “serious” books. I turn, as I frequently do, to middle grade books for solace. Middle grade books can be tricky but when done well they are absolutely marvelous. Here are some middle grade books I have read this summer and just adored.


FortunatelyTheMilkFortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman is a quick read. Honestly, it might even be early childhood and not quite middle grade but it doesn’t matter because the story transcends age. I cannot see anyone failing to enjoy this delightful tale. Children are left in the care of their father while their Mother is away and they run out of milk. When Father is gone far, far longer than is required to fetch the milk he returns with an extremely tall tale of his adventures in getting the milk. The illustrations by Skottie Young are on nearly ever page and add the perfect touch of whimsy. I had to read it twice in one sitting, I couldn’t get enough. This would be an easy book to hand a reluctant reader since it is short, quick, and fun. Similarly, this would be a fun book to read aloud since it is broken down into adventures.


thelittelestbigfootThe Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner grabbed my attention in chapter one and took a firm grip on my heart by the final page. I had read Jennifer Weiner’s other fiction books but I didn’t know if she would be successful as a children’s book writer. In my opinion, she excelled beyond any expectation.

The Littlest Bigfoot blends the stories of three children, none of whom feel like they belong. Alice Mayfair is twelve and has been to a new school every year, often sent away to boarding schools by a family too busy to even see her off. All she wants is a friend. Millie Maximus, a Bigfoot from a hidden clan, is obsessed with the No-Fur world. Millie’s boisterous nature conflicts with her clan’s emphasis on staying hidden. Jeremy is the third boy in his family. Being third is hard enough and Jeremy is trying to follow in the footsteps of one genius older brother and one sport talented brother. His parents hardly notice him. When he sees a Bigfoot he becomes obsessed. Maybe if he can find a real Bigfoot he will finally fit into his family of over-achievers?

We have all read stories of kids who don’t fit in. But there is something about the way Jennifer Weiner unravels this particular experience that feels so poignantly fresh. I rooted for all three children, even when each person’s goal conflicted with another. Everyone deserves to feel important and accepted by at least one other person. And this story gave me all the good feels that middle grade books are known for. I cannot wait for the sequel!


nevermoorNevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend has been on my bookshelf for ages. This is mostly because when the sequel came out it was roundly declared “disappointing” by so many people. I let that put me off this book and I should not have. Nevermoor is a fun adventure with wonderful characters and it truly surprised me. If the sequel is lesser, so be it. This was a marvelous middle grade book and I shouldn’t have ignored it for so long.

Morrigan Crow was born on Eventide and, as such, she is unlucky. She is also destined to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. Then she meets Jupiter North. Jupiter offers her an opportunity to live, but to do so she must run to Nevermoor. This magical city is full of surprises but none as big as the plans Jupiter has for Morrigan. He intends her to compete to become a member of the Wundrous society. The competition consists of four dangerous and deadly trials, each set to measure a candidate’s appropriateness. If Morrigan cannot pass she will have to return home and face her fate.

All of this magical fun is wonderful but the real story is one of finding yourself. Watching Morrigan understand who she is without the curse and determine who she wants to become was the best part of the story. It was certainly good enough to ignore the bad reviews and get my hands on the second in the series!


thenightgardenerThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is not for the faint of heart. This scary tale is reminiscent of Small Spaces and is just scary enough to keep you reading well into the night.

Two Irish children find themselves in the English countryside alone and in desperate need of work. When they locate a position at a crumbly manor house, it seems like their lives are finally looking up. But a series of odd things alert them to the heavy undercurrent of….something. Then, a mysterious person and an ancient curse make their presence know.

I know that I’m a grown up but scary stories take me right back to those moments in childhood where you were sure, absolutely sure, there was a person outside your window. This book is the perfect dose of scary for a person like me (read: scaredy cat). It is a wonderfully told tale sure to keep you reading long into the summer night.


Tell me, please!

Have you read any Marvelous Middle Grade Books?


 

all ages · nonfiction

NonFiction Friday: Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks

The world has changed since I was a girl. I used to believe that our society placed too much pressure on girls and not enough on boys. When I was younger I felt like I had to be strong in a dress and pretty in pants. I had to follow all of the rules or ruin my reputation but boys could do whatever they wanted. This pressure didn’t originate with my parents, it just felt like a tangible reality to me. As a grew I saw that wasn’t always true. It wasn’t all boys that were free. It was just the sporty, rich, white kids who grew up fairly free of society’s constant micro-corrections.

I still argue that our society places too much pressure on girls. New books and movies are coming out all of the time that feature the myriad of different ways to be a “girl.” I think we have all seen this book prominently displayed.

strongisthenewpretty

This is a great book. But, my concern is that this book and all of the other inspirational books for girls are still leaving out a major component of equality: boys. All of these books let girls know that it is ok to be different – to be more than “pretty.” Meanwhile, for most of child hood boys had two choices: sporty and not-sporty (also known as “cool” and “not cool”).

It still happens. Just take a five to fourteen-year-old boy anywhere with you. The first thing well-intentioned strangers want to know is, “do you plan any sports?” I know they are just trying to make a connection with the kid, but it is always awkward when the response is, “no, no sports for me.” The whole conversation falls to a deafening silence.

storiesforboysThis is why I was enormously pleased to find Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different, True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed The World Without Killing Dragons by Ben Brooks. This books features thirty-seven examples of individuals who don’t fit most pre-determined “manly man” roles. Furthermore, many of them, like Percy Shelly and Daniel Anthony, make a clear connection between how allowing boys to embrace their differences directly supports equality and opportunities for women.

This struck me as wonderful. I believe the more we encourage people to be themselves the more comfortable they are with differences in others. If we can support variety in boys maybe they in turn will naturally accept diversity around them. If boys can be chefs and computer geniuses then women can be CEOs and teachers and everything in between. There is no “normal” way to be successful that is predetermined by your gender.

This lovely illustrated book for middle grade students also features: transgendered people, people with disabilities, kings, nature enthusiasts, NASA astronauts, artists and many more. The people chosen come from all around the world, are all different ages, and represent many people of color. It starts with a boy and shows how their unique perspective changed the world. Each mini-biography is only a page long and is accompanied by an illustration making it easy to read solo or fun to read together.

The more we tell all children that it is a good thing to be themselves, the more we foster that thought across the generations and throughout our society. It isn’t up to just the girls to explore the uniqueness of ourselves or break the mold – many boys have similar struggles. That is why I highly encourage both of these books to be read by both genders. Boys needs to know that strong is pretty just as much as girls need to see how wonderfully diverse boys can be.


Tell me, please!

Have you read either of these books?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: July 3, 2019

Subtitled: It is Wednesday isn’t it?


During my trip to BookCon I got the news that I would be moving. An opportunity arose and I grabbed it. Ok…not entirely true. I actually laid awake at night for a few weeks before BookCon watching Schitt’s Creek over and over again while I worried about what to do. After finalizing the decision, I grabbed the whole thing with both hands. In a little more than a month I will be moving to Chicago.

This is why I have been so behind in posting and, frankly, reading! Every time I picked up a book my ‘ol brain started worrying. And, when I wasn’t worrying, I was decluttering and packing. Since I am moving from a bigger place into a much smaller place, I was tossing things and donating them at a rate that would alarm even Marie Kondo. But I missed my books, posting, and most of all reading everyone else’s blogs so, even though July 3rd is nearly over, I am determined to get back to it. So, happy WWW Wednesday! Make sure and check out Sam’s site at Taking on a World of Words and all the other wonderful people who check in on Wednesday.


What Did I Recently Finish Reading?

All of these were the perfect stories for the worried mind. The Proposal was a fun romantic comedy, The Littlest Bigfoot was a wonderfully sweet middle grade story and Fortunately, the Milk was as much fun as anything else I’ve read by Neil Gaiman. All of them will (hopefully) be reviewed soon.

I probably read other things but things were so crazy here I even forgot to log them onto Goodreads.


What am I Currently Reading?

I’m a mess. My Goodreads keeps telling me that I have 7-9 books on my currently reading shelf and so many of them are mere chapters from completion… but I may have packed them. I don’t want to forget them though so I am leaving them there. Here are the books I have in my hot little hands this week.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling is the best and most uplifting book I have read this year. It is full to the brim with facts that prove that our world is actually better than we perceive it to be. It is a soothing balm to my anxiety driven heart. I cannot wait to finish it and read it again.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been on my shelf forever but I bought the mass market paperback and the print is 7 point font. Might even be smaller than that. Finally, I donated my copy and got a digital version from the library. Whew! I am not far in but it is wonderfully weird.

Finally, I am working my way through all the Neil Gaiman books I own and I am loving Norse Mythology. Great stories told by a masterful storyteller, it is truly a treat.


What Will I Read Next?

One of the books off my massive physical TBR because I cannot take everything with me but I don’t want to give up books I haven’t even had time to enjoy!


Tell me, please!

What is on your WWW?