Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

As you know, I don’t keep track of new releases like some people do. All these books are ones that I’ve preordered and/or gotten ARCs of.


The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)

My review for this will be posting tomorrow, so keep your eye out for that! After reading this, still can’t wait to get my hands on it. It was so good and there was so much intrigue in this book. Cannot wait until the third one!

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch #2)

Not only is this a local author for me, I also really enjoyed Sea Witch! I can’t wait to see where the next book goes and I’m so excited to get this preorder in the mail.

Dispel Illusion (Impossible Times, #3)

I haven’t been reviewing this series on the blog — I don’t have much to say about them even though they’re enjoyable — so it hasn’t been featured as much. Still, I’m really enjoying how he’s pushed out a whole series in one year! Can’t wait to see the ending.

Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)

I know this book has a lot of controversy around it. However, I’m still really looking forward to it and I’m glad that Zhao took a step back, edited, and then is coming out with it. I have this one preordered!

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)

If y’all have been following this blog long enough, you’ll know how much I loved this series. The Wicked King left me absolutely breathless. This finale will probably kill me, but I’ll love the process of dying.

The Starless Sea

I’m a huge fan of Morgenstern so I’m just damned excited that she’s finally coming out with a new book! I have this one preordered through Waterstone so I get their exclusive edition.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sky in the Deep, but I’m still excited about this book. I have an ARC of it, so after I reread the first book (even though this isn’t a traditional sequel) I’m going to jump into this one!

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3)

This is another ARC that I have! No clue how I swung it, but I did! I wasn’t in love with Nevernight but Godsgrave was a big step up so I’m excited to see how the story concludes. Especially with that cliffhanger!

Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House, #1)

Everyone keeps talking about this book! I’m so excited for it. I have an ARC of it and I honestly can’t wait to see how amazing it is.

Crier's War (Crier's War, #1)

Last book. Chantel told me about this one and I looked into it. Sounds very good! I was able to get an ARC so I’m planning on reading this one ASAP because I can’t wait for more f/f fantasy


Talk to me!
Are we anticipating any of the same books?
What books are you really dying to read?

Book review – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Caidyn's review (1)

If We Were Villains

4/5

CW: murder, drug use, alcohol use, overdose, and cheating


For most of the book, I hovered around 3-3.5 stars. I really swore that it was going to be another The Secret History for me. Maybe not as pretentious, but still a group of people reeling from a murder that I didn’t care about.

However, Rio changed that. I actually liked the characters in this, even if I still got annoyed with them at times. The plot is pretty basic, as it was with The Secret History: Group of arty friends are doing a Shakespeare play. They all have their typecast roles. One starts going a little mad. Someone murders him. Except, who did it?

And then we have to pick up the pieces as they reform their group and have to go without this certain one.

I never got all of the names down of the characters. Even though I was very close to the end of the book, I still had to look up to make sure I was right. There’s Richard (the tyrant), Alexander (the villain), James (the hero), Meredith (the temptress), Wren (whatever the hell stereotype she was supposed to be), Filippa (gets small parts), and Oliver (the MC and the other one who gets small parts). Even while I was typing that up, I had to Google it and pull up the wiki for this book because I knew I was going to forget people. And I did! I got to four characters and blanked.

So, the characters, while they had depth, were just too many for me to juggle around. I kept mixing them up and it felt like too large a cast of characters for the story.

And, the story. All of the characters are fourth-year students who only do Shakespeare as actors. They’re doing Julius Caesar as their fall/winter play. And then things go terribly wrong for them. One night, someone in the group kills another.

The book starts off with Oliver being released from jail for a crime that’s not specified. He’s finally talking to the detective who worked on the murder to tell him what really happened that night and the rest of the story.

Personally, I thought it was a bit dull, but I was still pulled to read it. I loved the way it was told. Parts of it was like it was a play, like just having a list of the characters saying their lines rather than making it prose the whole time. It worked for the story, along with constantly quoting Shakespeare. Sure, it was a bit pretentious, but I love Shakespeare.

The murder took forever and it took years to get through it, but I found the ending good and poignant. I also enjoyed who the murderer was. So, in the end, it was a wash for me. I thought it was very good, but I don’t know if I loved it. I think that this is going to be one of those books I’ll appreciate more on a reread.


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

Book review – Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Caidyn's review (1)

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

4/5

CW: death of loved ones, mass killings, and grief


I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon for this book after waiting many years to start reading it. That’s mainly because I wanted the whole series out, but also because I’m really good at procrastinating at popular books.

As I said, I really enjoyed it. I loved the world that it was about. Some futuristic world where all diseases have been cured and you can reset your clock so you’re younger when you hit a certain point. So, basically, you don’t have to die. Everyone can live forever. And that’s where the scythes come in. They kill people — or glean the population — to make sure that the world doesn’t become overpopulated. If your family member is killed, you’re granted immunity from gleaning for a year.

The story follows Citra and Rowan. Both are teenagers who, in their own way, become scythes in training. Neither of them exactly want to be scythes, but they’re taken on as apprentices to the same person. Until something happens and they’re taken in by two very, very different people.

Now, I enjoyed the characters. They were so interesting and I loved watching their development over the course of the book. Both went on such different paths and developed so differently. I also appreciated that there was no romance in this! Or, not really any romance. That was so refreshing because I would have died if there was romance in this damn thing.

That being said, I had some issues. I did space out while reading a bit because it slowed down so much. Spaced out to the point that I missed a major plot point that changed the trajectory of the whole book. I went with the change and filled in the blanks as I went. It wasn’t detrimental to my reading experience that I missed it, but still kinda annoying that something important was hidden in the drudge.

I also never got super attached to the characters. I liked them, but I wasn’t going to die if anything horrible happened to them. I can’t wait until the next book to see what happens/how I’ll get attached.

Lastly, the ending. I enjoyed it and I like the intrigue that the book brought up — what is the Thunderhead? what will happen with the scythes and the changes that are going on there? — but, honestly, this could have been a stand-alone book. It was a very good book and I wasn’t annoyed by it being a series like with Spin the Dawn, but I’m not sure if it needed a three book series.

Still, we’ll see what I think of the sequel soon enough!


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Did you think this needs to be a series?

Book review – Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

Caidyn's review (1)

Mary Queen of Scots

4/5


I did a buddy read with the ever lovely Jaynie, who I read Elizabeth I with earlier this year!

And, this was really good. At times, it was pretty dull because it felt bogged down by details I didn’t need to know — names, family history, etc. — but most of the time it was interesting. I think it picked up speed after her second marriage to Darnley because that was when everything kind of went downhill for her.

One thing that came up when Jaynie and I discussed the book was Mary’s childhood and how, in a way, it was a disadvantage to her. She had a relatively stable childhood in France, removed from the people she would eventually govern. Scheming wasn’t her forte, although she did it throughout her life. She led with her heart and was an action person rather than hanging back to see how things played out. She didn’t exactly keep herself out of plotting or find a way to be able to deny it.

Very different than Elizabeth, her rival. Elizabeth had a very unstable childhood. She knew the players at the court in and out. She always found a way to keep her hands off of scheming so she didn’t get in trouble for it. And when she did get caught, she was able to get out of it eventually.

It’s hard not to compare the two women. Queens around the same time, same dynasty and family ties, both very ambitious. Yet, they were very different people and Mary’s upbringing was a deficit to her. She was a foreign queen in the end. Very different than the people she was meant to govern. She was basically French and she had a different religion than most of the people and she seemed to think more of her own passions than of what something would do to the people.

Their lasting image is also very different. Elizabeth is seen as very apt and smart while, in most of what I’ve read, Mary comes off looking like an idiot. I’ve read a fiction book about her and she really was an idiot. Yet, the movie that came out last year, which has the same name as this book (different source material, though — they used John Guy’s book, which I also plan on reading) made her look like a genius.

Fraser definitely came down in the middle of both those extremes. I loved how balanced the biography was. She showed Mary’s flaws and strengths, most of which go hand in hand. Fraser definitely knew her stuff about Mary. She cared about her subject but was as unbiased as she could be on the topic. In short, I really enjoyed this biography. It was good and an enjoyable read.


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What makes a biography balanced for you?

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

IT WORKS LIKE THIS:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)

I think this was back when I thought Charles Todd was a good author. Now? Nah.

Verdict: GO!


Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1)

I’d rather read about actual body farms and the things they’re finding.

Verdict: GO!


The Magician

Doesn’t sound that interesting tbh.

Verdict: GO!


Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery

I love Eric Ives. He did an amazing biography of Anne Boleyn so I know that I’ll be checking this book out at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Children Act

This sounds like McEwan before he got really weird with his last couple of books.

Verdict: Keep


A Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud & Sabina Spielrein

I’ve tried to read this multiple times and I just don’t think that it’s going to happen.

Verdict: GO!


What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)

This still sounds absolutely amazing tbh.

Verdict: Keep


A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)

Historical fiction written by a historian???? Sign me tf up.

Verdict: Keep


Consumption

I don’t know? It doesn’t look like I can get it anywhere but I’m still mildly interested in it.

Verdict: GO! (to my maybe shelf)


Fateful

Okay so some kind of paranormal romance set on the Titanic? Nah, man.

Verdict: GO!


Last TBR: 1580

Books kept: 4

Books removed: 6

Current TBR: 1560

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Let’s just keep it going down!


Talk to me!
Have you read any of these?
Should I have kept any I removed or vice versa?

I’m going out of town!

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This is an accurate depiction of my awkwardness.

As you can tell from the title, I’m going out of town this month. (Which I, for one, am super excited about because I desperately need a little bit of a break from life!)

But, even more exciting, is my destination.

I’ve been sitting on this for a long time. It’s a wonder I was able to not tell people where I’m going tbh since I can be bad at keeping secrets that aren’t life/death or anything else.

I’m going to… PORTLAND!!!!!

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Probably Chantel and I at some point.

Yes! I’ve had this trip scheduled since October. Chantel’s birthday was two days ago and I’m, basically, her present. Not like that.

When this posts, I’ll be in the midst of traveling up there! I’ll check in here a few times a day, but I’ll be offline for the most part until the 18th.

Want to see what we’re getting up to? You should go check out our Instagram! I’m planning on posting on our story since this weekend is Pride and my first time in Portland.

 

Book review – The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Caidyn's review (1)

The Escape Room

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

4/5

CW: sexual assault, toxic work environments, and corporate greed


This book was crazy! I mean, I was on the edge of my seat trying to find out what happened right away, then it kept developing.

Vincent, Sam, Jules, and Sylvie got an email from HR about a dumb teambuilding exercise that they had to do. Escape from a locked elevator and that’s it. They think that even if they fail, they’ll get let out in an hour and that’ll be that. Except that the clues to let them out are oddly specific. And about Sara Hall, a dead girl.

Sara Hall studied business and thought she would be set for life. Her father is ill all the time and her mother struggles with bills. Sara figured that she would get a business job and, well, help them out. Along with get herself out of debt and pay off her student loans.

Yet, she’s not getting hired. And the longer she goes without being hired, the less marketable she’ll be and the less likely she’ll actually get hired. After a failed interview, she meets a man in an elevator who says he’ll get her a job. And he does. Then things go wrong.

What stands out most about this book is the combination of a toxic work environment and corporate greed. It was so painful to read it. It killed me reading it because it’s totally not what I want in a job, even if I would make hella money. Drugs, makeup, injections, sex, exercise. It’s insanity and anyone who goes into it is someone I’d like to steer clear of. It deludes people with privilege.

The book was very twisty and I didn’t see things coming, although it became more apparent as the time went on. And when it came to the final bit, I knew what to expect and it was just… chilling. All of it was so coldblooded. I loved the journey to get to the actual reveals and the real story. Everything else was just setting the stage, even though I was constantly interested by the chapters switching from Sara’s perspective in the past to the people in the elevator.

Definitely a thriller author that I’ll come back to again!


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

Top Ten Tuesday – Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Oh my. Do I have many? Yes. Hold on because I’ll probably upset you with at least one of them.


  • Schwab is a pretty sub-par author.

First unpopular opinion and I’m playing with the big boys now.

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If you don’t get this gif, we can’t be friends.

But, seriously. When I look back on when Chantel and I read A Darker Shade of Magic (our joint review is here), I rated it higher than I should have. It was fine, but it wasn’t that great. Then, I finished that series and hated it. I’ve also read City of Ghosts and, well, hated it.

The thing is, she had great ideas, but I hate how she carries them out.

  • JKR is a horrible person.

I’ve majorly had to separate myself from her as a person and an author. I will not read anything new she comes out with. Those Harry Potter “textbooks” she’s doing? Not buying them. I won’t read another Cormoran Strike novel. I won’t go see her damned pointless movies, Broadway show, or anything else.

I think she’s a horrible person, one I can’t endorse. She’s not a human rights advocate when she blocks and lets her rabid fans attack people from cultures outside her own for not representing them correctly. Not to mention queerbaiting and transphobia.

  • Authors can ship whatever the hell they want to.

For a while, Chantel (who does our Twitter) was lurking and reading the threads that popped up about authors and slamming them for shipping incest in books or TV shows. I’m pretty sure this was more around Game of Thrones (which is 100000% incest last I checked).

But, I don’t give a shit what authors ship. Whatever they want to ship is fine. Shipping doesn’t denote what they really believe about the issues at hand. I’m chill with incest ships, but that doesn’t mean I advocate for people to have incestuous relationships.

  • I don’t like Six of Crows.

I just can’t with it. I think it’s the YA aspect of it because I love adult books that have heists and a gang of unlikely people teaming up. But, it just was so boring and I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

  • The Illuminae Files series is pretty meh.

I swear I’m going to go back one day and re-rate this series on Goodreads. I gave all of the books four stars but, when I think back at them, I’m like “they were just okay, not really good”. The plots are basically the same in all the books. The characters are all the same. I honestly don’t remember much of them and I have no plans to read them again or read anything else those two authors colab on.

  • Lila Bard is insufferable.

Yeah, I hate her. I think she’s just dumb. I know I’ve seen arguments about if male characters did what she did we wouldn’t feel that way about them. But, no. Stupid is stupid.

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I don’t care if the person is man, woman, or another identity. If they’re doing stupid, impulsive things I’m going to think they’re dumb.

  • Same with Sirius Black.

I hate Sirius. Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far. I just don’t like him. When he died in the books, I never felt sorry for him. I felt for Harry. But Sirius was a shitty person. I know it’s because he was emotionally stunted at the age of 20ish from spending years in jail. He never had a chance to mature. But, I still don’t like him. He’s as bad as Snape.

  • I have major side-eye for people who think Snape is a redeemable character.

I just don’t get it??? He bullied children. He physically harmed them. He tried to kill people. He was a Death Eater.

But, suddenly, when he’s ~~in looooveee~~ with Harry’s mom and was a double agent the whole time, that’s forgiven???? Sorry, but no. I think Snape is a shitty person. And his love? Jesus Christ that’s not love. Imagine you have a friend who was best friends with someone else. This person hangs out with the wrong crowd, insults them, and bullies people. Would you tell your friend to get with them and that they’re just some misunderstood creature? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I’d be telling my friend to watch their back.

  • I’m tired of forced romances (i.e. The Gilded Wolves, Spin the Dawn, Six of Crows, etc.) rather than keep characters friends.

Ugh. Romance is so overrated. It gets in the way of epic fantasies/heists/gang of people. I love books like IT where romance is kinda there but it’s literally not that important. All of those books I listed had forced romances and they just made no sense to me.

  • Overall, I wish there was less romance in YA period.

I know that relationships and fitting in is a huge part of the teen years. I know Erikson’s theory about identity v. role confusion. And, for a lot of people, testing identity goes hand in hand with relationships. However, I think most romance is pointless in YA. I’m fine with it when it’s done well, but most of the time it destroys the plot and then there’s love triangles (when I’ve never seen one IRL). Also, I start skimming and miss things in the book because I don’t want romance.


Talk to me!
What are your unpopular opinions??
Do we share any?

Book review – Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Caidyn's review (1)

Radio Silence

4.5/5

CW: parental abuse, animal abuse, suicidal ideation, depression, and cyberbullying


I’ll be straight up honest with y’all. (And, you’re thinking: Caidyn, when aren’t you??) But, I didn’t expect to like this book. I really didn’t. Yes, it’s queer. Yes, it’s got ace rep. Yes, it’s not very romantic.

But, here’s the thing, I don’t really read contemporary YA. Contemporary anything, really.

Yet, everyone kept telling me how amazing it was and that it’s just so great and blah blah blah. I finally decided to pick it up and give it a try since, you know, it’s Pride.

I really, really liked this book.

There’s only one con that I can think of and that’s that it really slowed down in the latter half of the book. I wasn’t a fan of how far it slowed down and that it got really depressing. Two characters dealing with depression and one having obvious suicidal thoughts. But, that’s it.

First, I loved the rep. The MC of this is Frances. She’s an Ethiopian-British bi girl struggling with school and what she wants to do.

Then, there’s Aled who’s definitely demisexual — demisexuality, for those who might not know, is a part of the asexual spectrum and is when someone only feels sexual attraction when they have a close bond with someone they’re romantically inclinded to — and questioning. I know some people say he’s demi and gay (as in, homoromantic, or only feeling romantically towards men), but it was never stated that he’s only into guys.

There are also wonderful side characters. Daniel, who’s a gay Korean immigrant. Carys, Aled’s sister and who’s lesbian. Raine, a friend of Frances and is an pan Indian woman.

Basically, the diversity was amazing. I loved how it was written and, honestly, the ace rep was perfect. It felt so accurate and I loved that romance just wasn’t the main point. I need more books like that, where romance isn’t a part of the story. It was in the background, but it wasn’t a huge thing.

And, I gotta love a questioning ace. I’ve been there and I felt the pain that Aled was going through as well. Just trying to figure out who the hell he is.

The plot is pretty basic. Frances loves this YouTube channel, Universe City, that’s basically like Welcome to the Night Vale. It’s her nerdy thing. But, Frances is, in a way, two people. She’s the person she is at school then she’s the person she is at home. And the split is slowly killing her. She became friends with Carys, but Carys ran away and only Frances knows why and blames herself for it.

Frances becomes friends with Aled, discovering his secrets, the good and the bad. I have to say, Aled was such a hard character to read. Mainly because I have his kind of coping skills. Something’s bothering me emotionally? Don’t talk about it. I have no problem telling someone when I don’t like what they’re physically doing, but I’m not good at confrontation on an emotional level. If that makes any sense. I usually wait until I can’t take it anymore and explode at the person. Which is, in a way, how Aled handles things.

This book was just so good on so many levels. I wish I could say more about the plot, but I’m worried that I’ll get into spoiler territory and ruin some of the reveals and different things. What I can say is that this book was excellent. It was such an enjoyable read and that I’ll definitely be reading Oseman more from now on.


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What Oseman book should I read next?

500 Follower Q&A!!

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As I said, I wanted to do a Q&A to celebrate reaching 500 followers!

Thank you all for asking your questions for us and for following us. We love all of you and, trust me, I’m so happy that we reached this milestone!

Let’s jump into the questions, though!


Seji @ the artisiangeek asked: What’s our profile picture?

Okay, our profile picture is an inside joke.

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I’m not allowed to talk about our name, but it has something to do with it. Either way, it’s buff bears dressed like Wonder Woman.


Virginia asked: How did Chantel and I meet?

Okay, so we met online. We used the same platform for online role-playing. Got randomly matched together and we decided to continue over email. Then, we just kinda started chatting about plot and characterization. Then we talked about ourselves. Then we just kind of went from there.

Either way, we’ve been friends for three years now! And, I know that we’re going to be friends for a lot longer!


Ally asked: Many questions!

  • If you could only name your cats/dogs/children/plants after book characters from one book series, which book series and which names would you choose?

Hm. I actually have plants that I’ve named after Harry Potter characters! So, Harry Potter is my series since there are so many names. I have a plant named Fred’n’George because it’s very colorful like them. Then I have a prickly succulent thing (I’m not good at plant names) that I named Rubeus because it’s got a prickly exterior but it’s pink.

  • Who was your favourite childhood author?

JKR was definitely my favorite. I also loved R.L. Stine because I just adore horror with all of my heart.

  • What spell from Harry Potter do you wish you could use?

Riddikulus! I’d love to be able to turn things that I’m afraid of into something silly.

  • What’s your favourite breakfast?

I don’t really eat breakfast?? If I cook something, it’s usually eggs. But I eat an apple at work every day for my breakfast.

  • Oh also what made you want to go into the field you work/study in? Is that what you always wanted to do? Do you enjoy it?

So, I’m studying social work right now at a master’s level. This time next year, I’ll have my MSW and (fingers crossed) be licensed as an LMSW. I really enjoy it and I’ve always wanted to go into a helping profession. For a bit I thought it would be as a psychologist, but social work is way more flexible and doesn’t take as long!


nsfordwriter asked: Fave things about blogging? What blog posts are you most proud of?

I think my favorite thing about blogging is interacting with you and seeing you all enjoy what I post. I really love that because, as you all know, blogging is hard. It’s gratifying to see your hard work recognized.

As for the posts I’m most proud of, I think my number one is the one I did about blogging burnout. We don’t talk about it, but it’s a serious thing. We talk about burnout in my profession a lot, but not about other things.


Soffii @ A Book. A. Thought asked: What genre have you never read, and why? Do you have any unpopular opinion about books in general?

Hm. I never read straight up romance. I can’t read romance. It’s not my thing. I can only think of one romance book that I’ve enjoyed before, but yeah. I don’t read it! It doesn’t reflect me and I get bored.

But, I have tons about unpopular opinions. I’ve written whole blog posts about it! Schwab, Bardugo, and other authors are way overhyped. Schwab is bad at plotting (never read a book by her I loved or enjoyed a lot). JKR is a horrible person and shouldn’t be considered a human rights campaigner. Kristoff’s Nevernight series is not YA. Oh and Illuminae is so boring when it comes down to it.

I could go on.


Thank you all again for asking me questions! I want to do this again when we get to 1000 followers. Maybe with a giveaway, too. But, we have to get to 1000 first!

Talk to me!

Who was your favorite author as a child?
What do you like most about blogging?
What are your unpopular opinions?