Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

After looking through my GoodReads for the year, I’ve realized that I’ve spent most of the year reading series and rereading favorite authors. It’s been a year of changes and I’ve mostly gravitated to comfort reads.

1. Luke Pearson – I read Hilda and the Midnight Giant earlier in the year and loved it, but I haven’t picked up any of Luke Pearson’s other books in the Hilda series. These books are quirky and cute and so fun to read, so I’m not really sure what I’ve been waiting for.

2. Diana Wynn Jones – I know! I finally read Howl’s Moving Castle last year and it was practically life changing, I loved it so much. I’ve been a little worried that the rest of her books wouldn’t live up to how much I loved Howl’s, so I’m counting on you to tell me what to read in the comments. Please!

3. Kelly Braffet – I’ll take any chance I can get to tell you to read Save Yourself, so I’m not sure why I haven’t picked up any other books by Kelly Braffet yet. I need to read Josie & Jack or Last Seen Leaving stat.

4. Matthew Quick – Amy makes me want to read everything Matthew Quick has ever written. I liked Silver Linings Playbook, so I look forward to reading more.

5. Richard Lloyd Parry – People Who Eat Darkness was one of the most interesting nonfiction reads of 2013 and the topics of his other titles all sound interesting, like In the Time of Madness: Indonesia on the Edge of Chaos.

6. Franny Billingsley – Chime was such a strange, wonderful reading experience, I’d love to recreate that with Franny Billingsley’s other novels.

7. Eva Rice – Meg convinced me to read The Art of Keeping Secrets, even though it wasn’t quite my kind of novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly and would love to read another of her novels.

8. Jesmyn Ward – I’ve been meaning for a long time to read Men We Reaped, the new nonfiction book by the author of the amazing Salvage the Bones.

9. Mary Doria Russel – I’m rereading The Sparrow this month and I’ve heard from a few people that I should also explore her other books.

10. Eleanor Brown, Amor Towles, Jenny Wingfield, Lauren Graham, Carol Rifka Brunt… and all the other debut novelists who need to get writing their second novels right away! I’ve been waiting patiently. Please hurry!

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

Quotes & Notes: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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QUOTES:

Summer was here again. Summer, summer, summer. I loved and hated summers. Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.

NOTES:

I have waited a long time to write about Aristotle & Dante, which is usually a mistake. In this case, though, I’m happy I waited, because the longer I sit with Aristotle & Dante, the more I like it, the happier it makes me, the more real it feels. I may not remember the details, but I remember the joy of listening to it and how wonderful it was to spend time with the characters. I loved this book and I honestly can’t wait to read it again.

Ari is angry, about a lot of things, but especially because his brother is in prison and no one will talk about it. He doesn’t like or get along with the other teenage boys in school. He doesn’t get along with his father, at all. He loves his mother and doesn’t understand what she ever saw in his father. When he meets Dante one fateful day at the swimming pool, he is surprised when they become fast friends after Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. Dante is unlike any boy he’s ever known: sensitive, willing to talk to him about anything and everything, eager and earnest. When Ari meets Dante’s parents, he’s not surprised to find that they’re not quite like anyone else he’s met before either. But when Dante’s feelings for Ari cross over from friendship into something more, they have to navigate this change in their relationship without sacrificing their friendship. Ari knows that he loves Dante, but is as a friend? More? And what doest that mean for him?

There were a lot of things to love about Aristotle and Dante. The writing is just lovely and Lin-Manuel Miranda does a marvelous job bringing Ari to life. I think what I loved most of all is that Ari and Dante’s parents were a huge part of this novel and they’re fallible, realistic, loving, amazing parents. It was as much their story as it was Ari and Dante’s story and that made me so happy. There is also the frank discussions about race and feeling accepted by a community. Dante doesn’t feel “Mexican enough,” doesn’t feel connected to his community in a way that Ari does.

I love what the author says about Ari and Dante in this NPR interview: “I think when you’re 15, you kind of are a philosopher, you are a thinker. And I wanted to give their names some weight.” There was something very genuine about Aristotle and Dante as teenagers, discovering each other, discovering how to be themselves in the world they were given, how to love each other, their families, but especially themselves.

Food Tour NYC: Murray’s Cheese Shop and Murray’s Cheese Bar

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Borough: Manhattan
Neighborhood: West Village
Address: 254 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014
Subways that will get you there: ACE/BDFM to West 4th St or the 1 train to Christopher St.
Fare: CHEEEEESE

Favorite Dish: At the restaurant, get the cheese plate. It’s all good, but they’ll give you as many cheeses as you like with something special to pair with it, like honey or jam, and it’s divine.
Cons: Excuse me, it’s a cheese shop, there are no cons. (Ok, it’s a little pricey.)

Why It’s A Favorite: I’m going to resist just typing the word cheese over and over again. I can’t tell you how many times I went to Murray’s Cheese shop, whether it was to pick up a dinner of a few cheeses and olives and pickles, or to grab an amazing grilled cheese for lunch. Unfortunately, I only went to Murray’s Cheese Bar once, for my anniversary, but it was one of the best meals of my life.

If you go into Murray’s, whether it’s the Shop or the Bar, the cheesemongers are so helpful. Just tell them what you want, your price point, and what you’re planning on serving with it and they’ll come up with a winning cheese every time. Plus you get to sample the deliciousness.  While the goods and cheese at Murray’s can be expensive, they’re definitely worth it. Plus if you stick to a budget, you can get a really nice cheese to accompany a home cooked meal for not a lot of extra money. Just make sure you tell your cheesemonger the price point you’d like to match… because they might give you a taste of the super expensive cheese and you’ll be very tempted. That happened to me more than once! And I might have given in. (You might have overheard me saying, “What is the smallest amount possible of that amazing, absurdly expensive cheese you can give me?”)

Similarly, the restaurant is definitely special occasion nice if you’re eating a full meal there, but if you want to just stop in for a drink and a cheese plate, it could be an inexpensive date or get together with friends. Look at that photo of a cheese plate I took on my anniversary. It’s calling your name! In addition to the shop and the bar, Murray’s also has classes on cheese, making it, enjoying it, finding wine and beer to go with it, that you can take. I never got a chance to take one and I was just so disappointed that I missed out on it.

Finally, just to entice you a little bit more, in between the shop and the bar, which are both on Bleecker St, is a great little bookstore called Book Book. Books and cheese. You can’t go wrong!

This post is a part of a series of restaurant reviews on Regular Rumination called Food Tour and also Weekend Cooking hosted by the wonderful Beth Fish Reads.

The Sparrow Readalong

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It seems like everyone has been talking about The Sparrow lately and I found myself leaving the same comment on the blogs that mentioned it: this is a book that totally destroyed me and I desperately want to read it again, but I don’t know if I can. This book affected me in a way few other books have and I think a lot of people feel that way. But the truth is, for a lot of the book I felt disconnected from it, which made my strong reaction to the last half of the book so surprising to me. I have long wanted to reread it, even though I knew it would be difficult, to reread the beginning of the book with the knowledge I have of the ending. Plus, I never reviewed The Sparrow on my blog and I’m looking forward to having the chance to write about it here.

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So when Trish decided to do a readalong in September, it seemed like the perfect time to reread it. Fall has always felt like a good time to reread the books that have meant something to me and I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel about the book this time around. It’s not too late to join in! It’s a pretty informal readalong with a post to go up on the 15th and the 30th. I think it’s best to go into this one knowing next to nothing about the plot, so I won’t give anything away here. If you haven’t read The Sparrow, I do hope you’ll join us for the readalong or add it to your TBR.

Quotes & Notes: Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson

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QUOTES:

I will never, ever believe in the words
“too late” because it is never too late
to be exactly who you wish, do exactly
what you should, say exactly what needs
to be heard, and live the exactly life
you should be living.

NOTES:

The Typewriter Series is a series of poems created by Tyler Knott Gregson, which was born of a spontaneous poem that Gregson wrote on a typewriter. Fascinated by the immediacy, the inability to edit, and the fact that he had written the poem on a found piece of paper that gave new meaning to it, Gregson turned it into a series. The book is comprised of scans of the actual pieces of found paper (the backs of calendar pages, old library cards, book end pages, receipts etc) with the poems, photographs by Gregson, and black out poetry.

One of the best things about this book is the object itself. It’s a slim hardcover and I enjoyed flipping through it and discovering all the different types of paper that Gregson used for his poetry. My favorite poems were the shortest ones, comprised of only one line or two, of a delightful insight. The photographs are beautiful, but a little disjointed in the overall presentation of the book.

Unfortunately, for me, one of the best things about poetry is how careful it is, how thoughtful it is. Spontaneous poems, with little editing, can be beautiful and insightful, and there were a few in Gregson’s collection that fit that description, but I found an entire book of them to be disappointing. After a while, the poems all began to sound the same and the charm wore off. While I wish the poems had been a little bit more carefully considered and a little bit more craft put into them, I do appreciate the sentiment behind Gregson’s project and this book as an object and piece of art.

Chasers of Light was published by Perigree, an imprint of Penguin, on September 2nd, 2014. I received a free review copy from the publisher.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

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This time of year, I start obsessively checking Carl’s blog, going back and checking last year’s date… isn’t it time for RIP? It’s the best time of year. I love summer, but not as much as I love fall. I love sweaters and scarves and hot coffee (perhaps of the pumpkin flavor). I love harvest festivals, and apple picking festivals, and oyster festivals. Pumpkin picking! Pumpkin carving! Pumpkin pie!

But, maybe best of all, I love creepy reading. Last year I read Rebecca, The Resurrectionist, The Woman in Black, and Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet. (Annual PSA: If you haven’t read Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet, what are you waiting for?) This year, I have an awesome pile of books to read through Halloween, starting with Garth Stein’s newest book A Sudden Light. I’m also excited to read The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero and The Witches of East End by Melissa De La Cruz.

This year, I’ll be participating in Peril the First, which is where you read at least 4 creepy books, but I’d like to read even more. Will you be participating in RIP this year?

Food Tour NYC: SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant

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Borough: Queens
Neighborhood: Woodside
Address:6413 39th Ave
Woodside, NY 11377
Subways that will get you there: Take the local 7 train from Times Square towards Flushing Main St and get off at 69th st
Fare: EVERYTHING Thai food. Their menu is pages and pages and can be a little overwhelming, but it’s perfect for big groups, whether you have adventurous eaters or pad thai fanatics.

Favorite dish: Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad
Cons: can get crowded in the winter or when it’s raining because you lose the garden seating and the menu can be a little overwhelming

Why It’s A Favorite: There are dishes on the on the SriPraPhai menu other than the crispy Chinese watercress salad. There are a lot of dishes. And I’m sure some of them are really good. The two times I went to SriPraPhai, though, I always found myself wishing I just had a HUGE plate of this watercress salad instead of what I ordered for my main meal, because it’s just that good. It’s a salad that is worth the trek out to Queens if you’re staying in Manhattan. It might even be worth a subway ride from Brooklyn!

The watercress is fried and has a perfect crunch. The cashews add a nice topping. BUT THE SAUCE. The sauce is what makes this salad so amazing. The shrimp, seafood, and chicken are perfectly cooked and coated in a delicious vinegary, fish saucey dressing. It’s a little bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. I dream about this salad. And I’ve just never had it quite as good anywhere else.

As I mentioned, their menu is huge. You’re going to find something you like on this menu. I’m just saying, it’s probably going to be the crispy Chinese watercress salad.  And the thai iced tea.

SriPraPhai” by Robyn Lee is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

This post is a part of a series of restaurant reviews on Regular Rumination called Food Tour and also Weekend Cooking hosted by the wonderful Beth Fish Reads.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet

The Top Ten Books I really want to read but don’t own/haven’t checked them out from the library yet are:

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1. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – Have you seen this book? It’s a beauty. The online image of its cover does nothing for it. It’s a book you just have to see in person. A new Murakami is always a reason to head to the bookstore. I couldn’t get through 1Q84, but I plan on returning to it one day soon and trying again. This one seems much more manageable in size and I tend to like Murakami’s shorter novels better anyway.

2. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor – So Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one of my favorite reads of 2014. It’s just so beautifully written and the story so interesting. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Days of Blood & Starlight. I just finished that one and I didn’t love it nearly as much as Daughter of Smoke & BoneDaughter of Smoke & Bone felt effortless. Days of Blood & Starlight felt like it suffered from middle book syndrome, serving little purpose but to push the plot along, losing out on most of the beautiful language and storytelling that made Daughter of Smoke & Bone so wonderful to read. I am still excited for Dreams of Gods & Monsters, thoughand eager to finish this series.

3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater - This might be cheating, because this book isn’t even out yet, but I am so excited to read it. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably heard me go on (and on) about the audiobooks for the Raven Cycle and how lovely they are and how perfectly calming and wonderful narrator Will Patton’s voice is. That being said, I don’t think I’ll be able to wait for the slow pace of audio to devour this one.

4. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler – There are few things that make me happier than Parks & Recreation and therefore there are few things that make me happier than Amy Poehler. I am ecstatic to read this memoir and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

5. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride – When this won the National Book Award, it jumped to the top of my TBR, but I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy. I’ve been thinking about buying it for my shelves, but I’ve been on a pretty strict book buying ban for a while. It’s one I want to own, so it will just have to wait!

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6. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffery Toobin - Every time something major happens with the Supreme Court, I have the same thought: I really don’t know enough about how the Supreme Court works. This is less an issue of buying this book or checking it out from the library, so much as finding it in my stacks of books and making it a priority to read! I shouldn’t wait for the next big decision by the Supreme Court to realize my ignorance… yet again.

7. Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois – Two of my very good friends (and trusted reading advisers) have read this and loved it, but I’ve been intimidated by the size of this one to take the plunge of either buying it or checking it out from the library. But I REALLY want to read it. It might be one I have to buy in ebook form!

8. Hawkeye Vol 1.: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido - Once again another case of library or own? LIBRARY OR OWN??

9. Trillium Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire – I will read anything and everything Jeff Lemire works on, so I’m very excited for this latest comic collection from him.

10. The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda – Okay, confession: I literally just heard about this book about 2 seconds ago. But just reading the description I know that I really want to read it. Also everything else that Sarwat Chadda has written.

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

Food Tour: Where to Eat in NYC

If we have ever spent a significant amount of time together in real life, you know that I like to eat. I like to eat good food, I’m an adventurous eater, I’m excited by a good, inexpensive restaurant and I get grumpy when a meal doesn’t live up to expectations. The hardest thing about leaving New York, other than missing my good friends who still live there, is leaving all that good food behind! The situation isn’t totally dire, there is plenty of excellent food where we are, but it is a little bit harder to find and we have to travel a little bit further to find it.

Since I can’t frequent my favorite NYC restaurants anytime I want anymore, I thought I could at least write about them. Then when you are in NYC for a visit, maybe BEA, you’ll have an idea of where to go for food. Unfortunately, you’re definitely going to have to travel away from the Javits Center! I was super broke for most of the time that I lived in New York, so most of the restaurants have meals for $5-$15 a person.

First Up:

Faicco’s Italian Specialties

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Borough: Manhattan
Neighborhood: West Village
Address: 260 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014
Subways that will get you there: BDFM/ACE to West 4th St or the 1 to Christopher St
Fare: Italian, Subs, Butcher

Favorite dish: meatball sub, rice ball
Cons: no seating (go to Washington Square Park and eat your sub!), weird hours (they might just randomly be on vacation when you stop by)

Why It’s A Favorite: I will never live down the fact that Michael once said, “Let’s stop in at this place.” And I said, Nah, let’s keep walking. We lived in New York for a year before we ever went to Faicco’s and that was a wasted year, let me tell you. Faicco’s is a West Village butcher that also sells Italian dry goods, subs/hoagies, and pre-made Italian goodies like rice balls and lasagna you can take home and heat up yourself.

I finally ended up getting Faicco’s because I was homesick for my mom’s lasagna and I googled take out Italian. I ordered one of the meatball subs ($12) and it was like I had driven home to Mom’s. Seriously, this sub is so good and makes me think of Saturdays when my mom would have a huge pot of sauce simmering for hours. It’s the only meatball sub worth eating unless my mom makes it.

Faicco’s other subs are good, but they’re a little bit heavy on the meat. It’s good bang for your buck, but there is such a thing as too much deli meat on your sandwich. If you’re only going to get one sub here, and you don’t have any serious objections to meatballs, then just get the meatball. For real. No matter which sub you get, though, their bread is perfect.

Their rice balls ($1.50, if I’m remembering correctly) are super yummy, but if you’re getting them to go and you want to eat them right away, make sure you ask them to heat them up! Otherwise they expect you’re going to heat them up when you get home. Their fried raviolis aren’t that great, so just get two rice balls instead.

If you are planning to eat other meals the day you eat Faicco’s, maybe split a meatball sub with a friend or put the other half in the fridge. I swear it tastes just as good cold.

Faicco’s Italian Specialties” by Angela Rutherford is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Books People Have Been Telling Me To Read

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1. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – My college roommate listened to these on audiobook this year and she’s been telling me to read them ever since. It’s not that I don’t want to, I’m just intimidated by the size! One day I’ll get to this series.

2. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – I’ve had so many people recommend this book and various other books by Jodi Picoult, but I’ve heard so many negative things about her books, and I admittedly spoiled this book for myself by googling the big twist ending. Is there anyone out there that wants to convince me otherwise?

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – I feel like every blogger except for me has read this! I bought it for Michael for Christmas a few years ago, thinking I would eventually get to it too, but I haven’t yet. I know, I know. One day!

4. Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – With this movie coming out in December, this book is everywhere. A lot of readers I know have recommended it to me.

5. The Shining by Stephen King – I feel like this is the one book by Stephen King that everyone has read… except for me. In fact, I’ve never seen the movie, and I’m pretty much ignorant of the entire plot, other than hotel, writer, creepy twins. I’m looking forward to reading this for the first time and seeing the movie for the first time. Maybe a good Halloween project this year?

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6. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – Another one that everyone is shocked I haven’t read, but I tried several times when the movies first came out and I just couldn’t get into them. This summer, though, I picked up my sister’s copy of The Hobbit and suddenly I was interested again. I think my tastes have changed!

7. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Jojo Moyes seems to be everywhere and I’ve heard nothing but lovely things about her books.

8. All the Neil Gaiman books – Here is a secret: I don’t really like Neil Gaiman books. I haven’t found one I’ve loved, though I’ve certainly tried. I’ve read NeverwhereAmerican GodsCoraline, and Good Omens. I actually liked Good Omens quite a bit, but I’m pretty sure it just means that I like Terry Pratchett. I’m willing to keep trying, though, because everyone seems to like his books so much. I’ve also heard that the audiobook for American Gods is great, so I might try that again followed by Anansi Boys.

9. The Fever by Megan Abbott – I got this audiobook on Audible because there were so many excellent endorsements from bloggers! Plus… that cover!

10. Winger by Andrew Smith – And, finally, this is a book I keep recommending to myself, but never checking it out from the library or buying it. Mostly because the only thing I really like about it is the cover… it’s just so perfect. I keep coming across it online and in stores and reminding myself that I really must read this book one day. Anyone out there read this and loved it?

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

Bout of Books!

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Down to the very last minute, I’ve decided to participate in the Bout of Books! For a little bit more information about this readathon:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I am pretty much a two books a week reader, some weeks it’s more, and some weeks it’s less, so it evens out over the year. Since the only goal of this week is read more than I usually read, my goal will be to read at least five books. I’d like to get started on my stack of books for the Diversiverse challenge in September and a few books I’ll be picking up from the library tomorrow. First up on my list is The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya. I was also craving some crime fiction when I went to the library last and I picked up Mind’s Eye by Hakan Nesser. It’s something a little bit different for me, so I’m looking forward to seeing if I like it!

Are you participating in the bout of books? What goals did you set for yourself?

A More Diverse Universe

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The wonderful Aarti at BookLust has been running A More Diverse Universe every fall for the past two years. In past years, she’s challenged bloggers to read science fiction and fantasy novels by people of color and post about them. The first year, it lead to me reading The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin. Just reading through this post again made me want to reread the series! They’re wonderful fantasy novels that I highly recommend. Lsat year, I had every intention of participating, but I didn’t quite make the date, but it did make me take a serious look at my reading habits and what I can do to make sure I’m reading more and more books by authors of color.

This year, Aarti is opening up the challenge a little bit. Instead of reading fantasy and science fiction books by an author of color, the task this year is to read and review any book by an author of color during September 14-27th. I also have a goal (that I’m woefully behind on) to read books on my TBR, so I pulled the books that I could reach (there are a few boxes in front of my bookshelves still unfortunately) from my shelves and I came up with a reading list. Here are my pool of titles!

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I don’t expect to finish all of these, but I think it’s a good selection that includes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Historical fiction and contemporary. A lot of these books are BIG though, so I’m not quite sure how many I’ll get through in the next three weeks, but hopefully I’ll have a few reviews for you during A More Diverse Universe.

If you’re interested in participating, head on over to Aarti’s post to sign up. I can’t wait to read your reviews!