ARC Review: A Thousand Nights

Title: A Thousand Nights21524446
Series: N/A
Author: E. K. Johnston
Pages: 336
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Find it on Goodreads!

My Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. 100% RECOMMENDED!

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

~My Thoughts~

While there’s a great deal of things in this book worth both love and attention, what I enjoyed most about it was the beautiful writing style. It’s not only lyrical, but also incredibly, incredibly fluid, each sentence flowing easily into the next and the next until the chapters simply slip beneath your fingertips.

Beyond the writing, I absolutely must commend Johnston for the depth she lent her protagonist, a character we, as readers, know only as “Lady Bless”. She’s a strong, inquisitive, and passionate girl whose love for her sister not only defines her, but drives her. She’s fearless, even in the face of certain death and impossible odds; she’s loving, even in a world where no one will meet her eye; and she’s wickedly, wickedly powerful, in a way that not only surprises her, but the readers as well.

In terms of the plot, there seemed to be en equal amount of time spent on the past as the present, but Johnston weaves these two halves of her story together with both precision and delicacy. Through the protagonist’s memories, you come to love not only her sister, her father, her mothers, and her community, you also come to love the desert she’s lived in all her life, the sand that you feel brushing up against your feet, and the hot sun that you feel baring down on your back. Through her eyes, you fall in love with the world of Lo-Melkhiin, the man he used to be and the man he might become again; you fall in the love with the servants who refuse to let their “Lady Bless” go down without a fight, and the mother of the monster you don’t expect to still be strong. Every character you meet throughout the story pulls at your heartstrings, brought to life effortlessly by the rich world Johnston has created. You want the best for everyone the protagonist interacts with, no matter the cost.

There’s a beautiful, beautiful world trapped behind the pages of A Thousand Nights, and I don’t think I could recommend it more. The pacing is quick, without a single dull moment throughout the book; the characters come alive before your eyes, demanding love and support that you offer up both easily and willingly; the plot is full of surprises, sometimes quiet, sometimes subtle, and sometimes fierce enough to set the sky on fire. It’s a beautiful read, worth every letter in every word on every page. It’s a story you should absolutely not miss out on experiencing.

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

Waiting on Wednesday – The Girl From Everywhere

Title: The Girl From Everywhere21979832
Author: Heidi Heilig
Pages: 464
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be On The Syllabus If I Taught “Young Published (Fantasy) Authors” 101

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week, I’m putting together the mock reading list for a course on young published (fantasy) authors–which includes some of my favourites, as well as others you couldn’t possibly have this course without!


WEEKS ONE THROUGH FIVE: PUBLISHED FROM 1999-2008

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1. Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. First published in 2002; written when Christopher was 15.
2. In the Forests of the Night, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Published in 1999, when Amelia was 14.

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3. The Prophecy of the Stones, by Flavia Bujor. Published in 2002, when Flavia was 13.
4. Swordbird, by Nancy Yi Fan. Published in 2007; written when Nancy was 11.

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5. The Eyes of a King, by Catherine Banner. Published in 2008, when Catherine was 14.


WEEKS SIX THROUGH TEN: PUBLISHED FROM 2011-2015

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6. Legacy, by Cayla Kluver. First published in 2011; written when Cayla was 14.
7. What’s Left of Me, by Kat Zhang. Published in 2012, when Kat was 19.

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8. The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon. Published in 2013, when Shannon was 21.
9. Take Back the Skies, by Lucy Saxon. Published in 2014; written when Lucy was 16.

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10. The Novice, by Taran Matharu. Published in 2015; written when Matharu was 22.


So if you were the one teaching a 101 course, what kind of course would you teach? Which books would you spotlight? And are there maybe any young fantasy authors that you love, that you think I should have included in this post? Let me know!

Cheers friends!

Cover Reveal: Fire Falling (Air Awakens 2) + 2 Giveaways!

I hope you’re as excited to see the cover for Fire Falling as I am to share it!

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Title: Fire Falling
SeriesAir Awakens #2
Author: Elise Kova
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: November 19, 2015
Find it on Goodreads!

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Intrigued? Excellent.

So without further ado, here it is! The absolutely STUNNING, DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS cover of Fire Falling, the sequel to Air Awakens by Elise Kova!

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Isn’t it just beautiful?! I honestly cannot contain how much I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this beautiful, beautiful cover! (The cover art is by zwxArt)

And for anyone curious about the two characters on the cover: here’s their bios!

Character Bio: Vhalla Yarl

Air Awakens Age: 17-18
Height: 160cm (5′ 3″)
Birthday: Late Summer (Time of the Mother)
Born in: The East (Leoul, Cyven)
Eye Color: Brown, flecked with gold
Hair Color: Ashen Brown
Skin Color: Yellow-tinted tan, golden skinned
Build: Thin boned, small framed
Favorite Food: Lemon Cakes
Affinity: Windwalker
Personality: Curious, Kind, Determined, Inquisitive
Childhood: Vhalla was born in a small farming town in Leoul, located in the western portion of Cyven (otherwise called the “East”). Her father was a farmer and her mother was the daughter of the postmasters of Hastan (the Eastern Capital). Vhalla’s upbringing was balanced between helping (more like playing in the mud) in the fields where her family grew wheat and receiving a modest education from her mother. When Vhalla was eight her father enlisted as a soldier during the War of the Crystal Caverns, during which time her and her mother fell ill with Autumn Fever. Vhalla overcame the illness, but her mother did not and she died when Vhalla was ten. Her father returned home, the war won, shortly after and relieved their neighbors of the young Vhalla’s care. For her father’s service he was awarded a place in the palace guard in the Southern Capital of the Empire. He took his daughter to the Emperor and asked to trade his place in the guard for an opportunity for Vhalla to work in the palace as an apprentice.

Vhalla was eleven when she began studying under the Master of the Imperial Library, Master Mohned. Shortly after she joined the library staff another girl, Roan, joined as well. Fast friends, the children were eager to welcome the addition of another into their fold when Sareem, a boy about the same age, arrived. The three were mostly diligent to their duties but got into trouble from time to time. Sareem was often the instigator, dragging along a reluctant but willing Vhalla. Roan attempted to be the voice of reason, but to no avail.

Character Bio: The Crown Prince Aldrik C. Solaris

Air Awakens Age: 24
Height: 188cm (6′ 2″)
Birthday: Late Winter (Time of the Father)
Born in: The West (Norin, Mhashan)
Eye Color: Black
Hair Color: Black
Skin Color: Pale, gray toned
Build: Lean, narrow hipped
Favorite Food: Candied Lemon Peels
Affinity: Firebearer
Personality: Withdrawn, Witty, Stubborn, Intellectual, Short-Tempered
Childhood: Aldrik’s mother was the youngest of four children in the ruling family of old Mhashan (the West). When the Emperor conquered Mhashan he took Aldrik’s mother for a bride and she was quickly with child. The short period of time between the announcement of pregnancy and the wedding, as well as the pace to which the wedding was conducted, led to rumors of Aldrik being conceived out of wedlock at best, illegitimate at worst. The rumors never quite faded as Aldrik’s mother died during childbirth.

Taken back to the South with his father, Aldrik grew up in the palace in the Southern Capital. During his childhood he made close friends with a Western girl, Larel Neiress, who was also a fellow Firebearer in the Tower of Sorcerers. The prince grew into his reputation as a brooding and harsh man, withdrawing from the world and keeping his thoughts close and his enemies in fear.

When he was twenty-two he marched to war with his father, the Emperor Solaris, for the first time, quickly earning the title of “Fire Lord” for his brutality with flame on the battlefield.

If you’re new to the series, no worries! Here’s the equally stunning cover of Air Awakens!

Title: Air Awakens23127048
Series: Air Awakens #1
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 377
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: August 27, 2015
Find it on Goodreads!
Read the first chapter here!

A Library Apprentice, a Sorcerer Prince, and an Unbreakable Magic Bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

And in case you didn’t notice, the release date for Air Awakens is this Thursday!

You can pre-order a copy from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | iTunes | B&N | Googleplay | Kobo | Chapters/Indigo 

AND, if you want to get more involved in the world of Air Awakens, join Elise Kova’s fantastic Street Team!

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About the Author

Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook. Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!


AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAYS!

Giveaway #1 – An EBOOK of AIR AWAKENS – INTERNATIONAL

To be entered for a chance to win, simply retweet this tweet and follow me on Twitter before September 10, 2015. You can also get 1 bonus entry by liking this post, and 3 bonus entries by commenting on this post!

Giveaway #2 – A Signed ARC of FIRE FALLING

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tag: I Am More Happy Than Not

Hurray! I’ve been tagged by the super lovely Beatrice from Beatrice Learns to Read to do the I Am More Happy Than Not book tag! Created by Shelumiel from Bookish and Awesome, the tag is pretty straightforward–just list some things that make you more happy than not!

I AM MORE HAPPY THAN NOT

…when I’m reading a great book.

…when I spend time with the love of my life.

…when I’m listening to a great lecture in one of my university classes.

…when I’m in a museum.

…when I’m listening to music.

……when I’m recognized for my good or hard work.

…when I’m writing.

…when I’m daydreaming.

…when I’m traveling.

…when I’m talking about something I’m passionate about.

…when I’m watching a great movie.

…when I’m eating fantastic food.

…when I spend time with my family.

…when I spend time with my friends.

…when I play videogames (s/o to anything and everything by Bioware!).

…when I’m cooking or baking.

…when I’m watching my favourite real life crime shows.

…when I’m eating out at restaurants with great company.

…when I’m in a bookstore or library.

…when I’m on tumblr or twitter.

…when I’m grocery shopping.

…when I’m walking around somewhere scenic, like a beach or a ravine.

…when I talk to authors, at a signing, at a convention, or over twitter.

…when I’m thinking about my future.

…when people ask for my advice.

…when I’m at a convention (I’ve been going to Anime North and Fan Expo for years!).

…when I’m singing, and no one is listening.

…when I’m visiting a place with animals.

…when someone tells me they’ve thought of me.

This list could easily go on forever! But it’s a sweet thought–go out and find what you makes you happy in the world, and never forget the power of small things!


I think this is the part where I tag a few other people to participate in this tag? So, if you’re reading this, you’ve been tagged! Let me know if and when you post your own list, and I’ll add you here!

Cheers friends!

Book Review: The Novice (Summoner #1)

Title: The Novice22718814
Series: Summoner (#1)
Author: Taran Matharu
Pages: 368
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Find it on Goodreads!

My Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS! 100% RECOMMENDED!

“When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.”

~My Thoughts~

If I could only say one thing about this book, I would tell you that the writing is fantastic. It’s smooth, crisp, and clean, and you’ll fly through the story before you realize it. And for those who have read stories online, through something like fanfiction.net or fictionpress.com, you’ll understand why.

While it would be unfair to wholly attribute Matharu’s writing style to Wattpad, the site where he published The Novice before it was published traditionally, you can definitely see how that kind of serialized writing has both encouraged and supported his wickedly fluid writing style. Each chapter is written with both urgency and importance, and each chapter ends with you begging for the next one, desperate to know what happens next. And it’s perhaps through the critiquing of his online community that Matharu has managed to make his story so effortlessly seamless, a difficult thing to achieve by any means.

If I had to compare The Novice to any other book, I’d have to say it’s most like Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. And while I mean Matharu no offence when I say this, it’s impossible to say you’ve read Eragon and cannot see the similarities it shares with the beginning of The Novice. Both novels open with a boy hunting in the woods; have both have traders soon arrive in their small mountain town way north on the continent despite it being the beginning of a rough winter; they both have an older man tell a story that unknowingly predicts the future of the protagonist (Brom and the Dragon Riders, Rotter and the Battlemages); and both end up with a dragon-like creature that forces them to leave their village. And, of course, they both end up joining a group of like-minded people fighting in a losing war, where presumably they are the only ones that can tip the balance.

Past this point, however, Matharu really blossoms as a storyteller. He takes his dwarves in a different direction than most fantasy authors I’ve read, and I absolutely loved that. His demons and the world they inhabit may remind you of Pokemon or Digimon, or even His Dark Materials, but they are creative and unique all the same (if hard to remember at first–check out the guide at the back of the book if you forget what each kind of demon is!).

But more importantly, let me talk about the characters! Fletcher, our protagonist, is impossible not to root for, and his relationship with his father is both tender and heartbreaking. Silva, the elf girl, is awesome, as is Lovett, one of the professors at the academy. In fact, the entire secondary cast of Fletcher’s friends kick ass; they’re multi-dimensional, intelligent, funny, moving, and motivated, and you cannot keep yourself from rooting for each and every one of them.

Okay, I have to stop here, because if I keep going I’ll end up spoiling something. To make a long story short, this novel is a wild ride from start to finish, with great writing, great characters, and a fantastic ending. And even better–once you’ve finished the book, you can pop over to Matharu’s Wattpad account to read free, extra content, including the prequel and a side story!

So what are you waiting for? Go go go!

Buy it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

Waiting on Wednesday – Wink Poppy Midnight

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Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Pages: 352
Published by: Dial Books
Release date: March 22, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!
Read an exclusive excerpt! 
(it’s fantastic!)

“The intrigue of The Virgin Suicides and the “supernatural or not” question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Raven Boys, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.”

So I Decided to Start a Book Blog…

Oh man, this is either going to be a great idea or a disaster. I can already hear the universe whispering to me: Amanda, you go back to school in three weeks, what in the world are you thinking?

Well, to be very honest, I’m not sure there was a whole lot of thinking involved. I just looked over at my growing stack of ARCs–ARCs that I’ve magically accumulated over the last few weeks–and I realized, yeah, I should probably do something about these. The universe has given me an opportunity here, and I should take it.

So here’s a quick tour through my stack of recently-acquired ARCs!


IMG_2215This collection of ARCs and goodies were courtesy of Fierce Reads! (You can find them on Twitter: @FierceReads). I ended up winning one of their emoji book contests, which was essentially: here are some emojis, guess the book? I took a stab in the dark with The Kiss of Deception (by Mary E. Pearson), a book I hadn’t even read at the time, and it ended up being the right answer! So in a first short weeks, I was the proud owner of a Heartless/Six of Crows sampler (Six of Crows is on the back of the Heartless sampler), as well as Dreamstrider (by Lindsay Smith)Bright Lights, Dark Nights (by Stephen Emond)The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers (by Alexander Gordon Smith), and Signs Point to Yes (by Sandy Hall)!


IMG_2217The next ARC I ended up with was Legacy of Kings (by Eleanor Herman)! To make a long story short, I was so desperate to my hands on this that I went looking for someone who wanted to trade a copy. Instead, I found someone giving it away (how they didn’t love it, I don’t know) and that’s how I ended up with this beauty! How awesome is that?

(P.S. Legacy of Kings actually celebrates its book-birthday today! Find a copy at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com,  Barnes and Noble, or Chapters/Indigo!)


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My sixth ARC, Antigoddess (by Kendare Blake) was actually a gift from http://willasramblings.com/ (you can find her on Twitter: @WillasRambling)! It isn’t new, but the premise sounds super fantastic, and the third book in the series, Ungodly, releases on September 22, 2015!


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Now, these ARCs are a little something extra special. Last Saturday, @IndigoTeen held their first ever #TeamTeen event, where they invited people to visit them in Dundas Square (in Toronto) and get free books! But of course, I was wayyyyy on the other side of the city when I heard about this event, so I had no choice but to text everyone in my life to see who was downtown. And lo and behold, my beautiful and amazing boyfriend was a few blocks away! So after screaming for about twenty minutes (and spam texting his phone), he calls me to tell me he’s picked up these beautiful, beautiful ARCs for me from the lovely, lovely ladies who make up @IndigoTeen. I can not thank them enough for these!

And of all my ARCs right now, A Thousand Nights (by E. K. Johnston) is the one I decided to start. But The Rest of Us Just Live Here (by Patrick Ness) or Everything, Everything (by Nicola Yoon) could very well be next on my list!


M9B Winning Tweet

My next two ARCs are ebooks, courtesy of @Month9Books! And they are…

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Nameless (by Jennifer Jenkins)

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and Minotaur (by Phillip W. Simpson)!

These were a huge surprise, and they promise to be fantastic. I’ve heard several bloggers raving about Nameless, and while I haven’t heard anything about Minotaur yet, the description sounds awesome, so I’m hope it’ll be a great read as well!


I have more ARC to go, but before I get there, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to myfriendsarefiction.com (you can find her on Twitter: @Kris10MFAF).

MFAF Winning Tweet

My pre-order won’t be arriving for at least another month, but I’m already excited! Wondering what it is?

17564519It’s Walk on Earth a Stranger (by Rae Carson)!

I was absolutely floored when I ended up winning this contest. So many people entered, and Walk on Earth a Stranger felt like the last book I would end up getting a copy of. And now I’ll have a beautiful hardcover on the day it releases in late September!


Okay, so, this is my absolute pride and joy. This is the crown jewel of my collection of ARCs–and I don’t even have it in my hands yet. What is it?

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Against all odds, that’s…yes. I HAVE A COPY OF TRUTHWITCH. The universe has looked down upon me and said, Amanda, we Ieave unto you this most coveted ARC. I only wish I could properly thank the lovely, lovely lady who sent me this, but I’m afraid the espionage she had to commit in order to get me copy is top secret stuff, so I can’t share. I can only hope my eternal gratitude is enough to show how absolutely over the moon I am to own a copy of Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch.


And that’s a wrap! I’m sorry my first post ended up being so long–I’m just so excited about all these books! I only hope I don’t sound like I’m gloating, because I’m nothing but super excited for the opportunity to join the wonderful blogging community that I’ve been following on Twitter for the last couple of months. Getting these ARCs has felt like a free pass into this book blogging world, and I can’t pass it up. Something just tells me I’m in for a wild ride.

Cheers friends,

Amanda