BLOG TOUR: The Beholder by Anna Bright

The BeholderThe Beholder
by Anna Bright
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

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SYNOPSIS: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

EXCERPT:

The Beholder: 1
Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.

Candles flickered in the trees that grew up through the marble floors of Arbor Hall, setting aglow the faces of the partygoers beneath them and the garlands of shattered glass sparkling in their intermingled branches. My heart beat like a hummingbird trapped between my breastbone and spine.

I ducked behind an old oak climbed over with ivy, hiding for a moment from the music and all the people, careful to avoid the gap carved around its trunk.

Tonight wasn’t truly a beginning. I’d loved Peter forever, even if I’d never told him so. Tonight was growth—a page turned. Tonight, I would reap from seeds I’d sown and tended half my life.

Tonight, I’d go to sleep with a ring on my finger and my future clear before me. Confident in the promise that tomorrow and the next day and the next would be happy days, always the same, always close to the ones I loved. Ready to do my duty by Potomac and take my place as its head someday, with someone strong and trustworthy at my side. Just as soon as Peter said yes.

I tugged an ivy vine loose with shaky fingers, looped it into a wreath, and pinned it over the loose ponytail I’d made of my curls.

Tonight, whispered my heart. You’re getting engaged tonight.

My breath came fast at the thought, my knees practically knocking together.

Momma had told me the story of my birthday a hundred times. On the night I was born, she paced here in Arbor Hall beneath the trees, pleading with me to leave the safety of her womb and enter the world.

It was a wild, wonderful, magical place, she said. Back aching, ankles swollen, she walked through the forest sheltered beneath the hall’s marble dome and whispered stories to where I waited in her belly, as if to prove it to me.

The tale of the Beauty and the Beast, of the girl who rode off into danger to save her father. The story of the girl so kind to a fairy in disguise that her voice rained flowers and pearls all around her.

Through the years, Momma would tell me those stories again and again. Those, and so many more, as we sat in the shade of the trees outside or in the cool of this very hall.

I only wished she were here to see what would happen tonight.

A hundred couples in wreaths like mine and their finest clothes danced under the great Arbor at the center of the room. Hundreds more wove between dogwoods veiled in bridal white and river birches sloughing off their bark like old paper. Here and there I spotted people I knew. The designer who’d made my gown was radiant in her own, its pale pink silk looking soft as a rose petal against her gleaming dark skin as she danced with her husband, a well-to-do farmer. Nearby, a group of boys and girls I knew from school were laughing, faces flushed as they kept up with the music. Dr. Gold and Dr. Pugh, my father’s physicians, stood beneath a willow to one side of the room, debating something I couldn’t hear.

I took a long breath, squeezed the rosary in my pocket, and stepped out to join them all.

So many people—but of course I bumped into him. Into Peter.

Finding him in a crowd was inevitable, like everything else about us.

Peter flashed a tight grin as he regained his balance, steadying the laurel crown in his tight black curls and straightening his jacket. “Hi, Selah. You look nice.”

He didn’t look nice. With his skin glowing smooth and soft brown in the candlelight beneath the oak, dressed in tweed and smelling like springtime, he was so handsome I could hardly meet his eyes. My nerves flared, and I fought the urge to hide from him like a child.

We hadn’t exactly talked before Daddy extended the proposal, and I’d acted bright and busy and distracted when I’d run into him in the fortnight since.

I could never have told Peter outright how I felt.

Peter Janesley. Six feet tall, black, with curly hair and a strong nose and full lips. Shoulders that tended to round when he was thinking, his father’s light brown eyes, his mother’s careful hands. Peter, the boy who was brilliant at math and at sports and didn’t feel compelled to pretend he was bad at either. Who could’ve been friends with anyone, but who never made anyone feel invisible. When I was fourteen, I’d learned how to graft roses from his mother just to spend time at his house. The day Sister Elizabeth scolded me till I cried over an algebra test, he’d helped me at their kitchen table until I understood everything I’d gotten wrong.

“Perfect!” he’d said. “I knew you could get this.” He’d tapped the problems with his finger, a smile stretching wide beneath his broad cheekbones. I’d tried not to blush.

Peter was smart, and earnest, and kind. After we’d finished studying, he’d cut us both a piece of cake and we’d sat for half an hour on his porch, cross-legged opposite from one another in the rising twilight. Cicadas hummed and buzzed as the light melted off the facade of the Janesleys’ home and the abelias and roses brushing the porch rail.

Once, I made him laugh. Peter had rocked back, lovely fingers clasping his knees, mouth open to show the perfect gap in his teeth, and I’d wanted to trap the moment in a jar like a firefly.

After that, we were friends, and I clung to the fact like a trophy. After I made a perfect score on my next algebra test, he hugged me in front of everyone and ruffled my hair. “Knew you could do it,” he’d said, pointing at me as he backed away, making for his next class.

My feelings built themselves from a hundred little moments like these, rising like a castle in the distance, every humble stone growing into something I could already imagine. Into something on the horizon I’d eventually reach.

And here he was. My past and my future, standing right in front of me.

“Peter!” I blurted. “Ah—thank you. You look nice, too,” I added, remembering his compliment. He huffed a laugh and put his hands in his back pockets. The jacket strained a little over his shoulders. “How are you?”

“Fine. Good.” He nodded. “You?”

“All right,” I said.

Maybe if I said it enough, I’d believe I wasn’t shaking like a leaf.

I wanted to come out with it all—to blurt out exactly what I was thinking and feeling, to explain why he’d heard it all first through our parents and not from me, to see easy confidence in his eyes again. But somehow, I couldn’t say any of it.

Later, I thought. Once we were alone, with the public spectacle over, we’d talk. There would be nothing but the truth between us, and the future ahead.

The music quieted, and Arbor Hall’s doors swung open. Peter dropped his voice. “I need to go find my parents before it starts.” He raised his eyebrows, as if asking for my approval. I sent him away with a nod and a smile.

Soon enough, we’d have all the time in the world.



Anna BrightABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
I believe in woods, mountains, highways, cobblestones, roller coasters, dancing, concerts, cherry Pop Tarts, books, and magic.

When I’m not reading or writing on my couch, I’m dragging my husband off on an adventure, communing with Salem (my kitten/spiritual familiar), or causing trouble at One More Page Books, where I work.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

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Here’s hoping this month is a little less hectic | May TBR

As most of you might have seen, April was pretty rough for me. I have one more wedding tomorrow, but after that the rest of the month should hopefully be pretty clear. Theoretically that should be the case, anyway.

So there we go. Let’s see how May goes!

What books are you planning on reading this month? Link your May TBRs in the comments!

BLOG TOUR: Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher [GIVEAWAY]

who i am with youWho I Am with You
by Robin Lee Hatcher
Release Date: December 11, 2018
Genres: Christian fiction, Romance

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SYNOPSIS: For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination.

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have broken their hearts, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

Who I Am with You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

Who I Am with You is the first book in Robin’s new “A Legacy of Faith” series.

REVIEW: I’m always a little wary of Christian fiction because I think sometimes the religion aspect is too heavy handed. That being said, I thought Hatcher struck a great balance with this book. Obviously their faith is present, but the characters aren’t talking to God or reflecting on Christ every other paragraph.

Both Jessica and Ridley were enjoyable, sympathetic characters. They both start off the book a little angry because of things that had happened to them in their past and it was interesting to see the different ways that they dealt with that anger. Ridley chose to escape and turn to God, while Jessica chose to become more closed off and independent. The reader gets a chance to see both characters develop as they work towards forgiving those that have wronged them.

The plot is nothing crazy, but it helps us to get to know the characters and by the end, the reader really wants both Jessica and Ridley to be happy. Andrew’s sections were not quite as compelling to me, so I was glad that they were significantly shorter than the present day narrative. One thing I wished was that more of a connection was struck between Jessica and Andrew. I think it mentions her reading through his Bible once? They were going through some similar things I would have liked to have seen Jessica find more comfort and kinship in her great-grandfather.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. It’s the first book in the series and it looks like the next book starts with Jessica handing off Andrew’s Bible to another relative. It will be interesting to see how Andrew’s story continues with this new family member.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild


Who I Am with You blog tour

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robin lee hatcherABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of over 75 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an ACFW Carol Award winner and an eight-time finalist and has won two RITA Awards and been a finalist eleven times. Her numerous other awards include the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

For more information, visit www.robinleehatcher.comFacebook: robinleehatcherTwitter: @robinleehatcher and Instagram @robinleehatcher.


Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene [GIVEAWAY]

Amber and DuskAmber & Dusk
by Lyra Selene
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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SYNOPSIS: Sylvie has always known she deserves more. Out in the permanent twilight of the Dusklands, her guardians called her power to create illusions a curse. But Sylvie knows it gives her a place in Coeur d’Or, the palais of the Amber Empress and her highborn legacies.

So Sylvie sets off toward the Amber City, a glittering jewel under a sun that never sets, to take what is hers.

But her hope for a better life is quickly dimmed. The empress invites her in only as part of a wicked wager among her powerful courtiers. Sylvie must assume a new name, Mirage, and begin to navigate secretive social circles and deadly games of intrigue in order to claim her spot. Soon it becomes apparent that nothing is as it appears and no one, including her cruel yet captivating sponsor, Sunder, will answer her questions. As Mirage strives to assume what should be her rightful place, she’ll have to consider whether it is worth the price she must pay.


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Lyra SeleneABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lyra Selene was born under a full moon and has never quite managed to wipe the moonlight out of her eyes. When she isn’t dreaming up fantastical cities and brooding landscapes, Lyra enjoys hiking, rainstorms, autumn, and pretending she’s any good at painting.

She lives in New England with her husband, in an antique farmhouse that’s probably not haunted. AMBER & DUSK is her debut novel.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody [Giveaway]

The Geography of Lost ThingsThe Geography of Lost Things
by Jessica Brody
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance

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SYNOPSIS: In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.

REVIEW: If you’re looking for a nice road trip book, then this is for you. I, personally, LOVE road trip books and this one checked all of the boxes. It definitely makes me want to take a drive along the Western coastline of the US!

Ali and Nico were both likable characters and I thought the pacing of the book was really good. We didn’t have to spend too much time in the car with them, but were given just enough as a reader to feel like our characters were on a journey and not just appearing in different cities.

The plot of the book was good as well. I thought it created a really good atmosphere for Ali to grow and develop as a character. I thought the flashbacks were written well and didn’t detract from the pacing of what was supposed to be happening currently. I love the idea of trading up for things even if I think it’s a tad unrealistic.

Overall, I thought this book was great! My only issues really, involved Ali and Nico’s relationship. Specifically, I felt like the amount of time we spent in Ali’s head thinking about the demise of their relationship was too much. Either tell us what was in the freaking glove box already, or stop bringing it up! Other than that, though, this book was a good read–perfect for summer or maybe just when you wish it felt a little more summery.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


The Geography of Lost Things blog tour

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Jessica BrodyABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over twelve novels for teens, tweens, and adults including 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, and the three books in the Unremembered trilogy, the first of which is currently in development as a major motion picture by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Slumdog Millionaire. In 2016, she will release two new contemporary novels, A Week of Mondays (August) and Boys of Summer (April), and in 2017, her debut middle grade novel entitled, Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up, will hit bookstore shelves.

Jessica also writes books for the Descendants: “School of Secrets” series, based on the hit Disney Channel Original movie, Descendants!

Jessica’s books are published and translated in over twenty foreign countries. She currently splits her time between California and Colorado.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: Perfect Harmony by Emily Albright [GIVEAWAY]

Perfect HarmonyPerfect Harmony
by Emily Albright
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance

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SYNOPSIS: Pippa Wyndham is a top cellist―she’d never settle for anything less. Determined to get into the nation’s most prestigious music college, nothing’s going to stand in her way… Until her senior year of high school when a new guy from a fancy New York conservatory transfers to her school.

Declan Brogan’s cocky, and he knows how amazing he is at the cello. He has every intention of knocking Pippa out of first chair and showing her who really belongs on top. Forced together when assigned a duet, their personal competition and mutual dislike transform into a teasing friendship.

Torn between her childhood crush and the boy who threatens her dreams, Pippa finds herself at risk of losing her best friend, her future, and the boy who makes her heart melt. Struggling to make things right, Pippa discovers that sometimes the thing you want the most doesn’t always end up being the thing you need.

REVIEW: I’ve really enjoyed Emily Albright’s books in the past, so I was really excited for this one. Pippa is younger than Albright’s other protagonists and I think that made the whole book feel a little more immature than I would have liked. She has like…no self control around Declan. Which is weird because it seems like someone at such a high level of musical talent would have to have at least a modicum of self control, but hormones I guess.

Pippa and Declan were both fine as characters and I liked Phillip and Jenna, but Quinn and Noah were both just awful characters in my opinion. Quinn is not a good friend and I wish Jenna had gotten more screen time because she seemed awesome.

The plot wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was enjoyable nonetheless in the same way that rom coms are enjoyable. You know what’s going to happen but not exactly how it’s going to get there and when it does, it’s still satisfying. Even though I knew how the book was going to end, I feel like Albright still created some tension and there was a little niggling bit of doubt as to how it might end.

Overall, this book was good but not great. I appreciated learning about the cello and some of the different music schools across the country–I honestly only knew about Julliard. One thing that stood out to me that I didn’t really like was some unnecessary descriptions that the author included. I think I read different paragraphs about Pippa unlocking her car and loading her cello into the back about 50 times. Other than that, the book is enjoyable and doesn’t take too much brain power. If you’re looking for something light and musical to read, this is your book!

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild


Perfect Harmony Blog Tour

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Emily AlbrightABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Emily Albright is the author of EVERYDAY MAGIC and THE HEIR AND THE SPARE, both available now from Simon Pulse. Her next novel PERFECT HARMONY will release 9.18.2018.

She’s a writer, a major bookworm, a lover of romantic movies, a wife, a mother, an owner of one adorable (yet slightly insane) cockapoo, and uses way too many :).

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: So Glad to Meet You by Lisa Super [GIVEAWAY]

So Glad to Meet YouSo Glad to Meet You
by Lisa Super
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Daphne Bowman, a bookish drama nerd in public school, might never have crossed paths with Oliver, the popular, outgoing mascot for his private school’s football team, but one event has bound them inextricably. Daphne’s older sister, Emily, and Oliver’s older brother, Jason, who were high school sweethearts, committed suicide together seven years earlier.

When Daphne uncovers Emily and Jason’s bucket list—a list comprised of their “Top Ten” places to visit before they die—she knows she has to tell someone. The one person who might actually get what she’s going through and who might not think it’s silly that she wants to complete the list, is also someone she’s never spoken to—Oliver Pagano. Throwing caution to the wind, Daphne sends Oliver a Facebook message that will come to change the course of both of their senior years—and maybe their entire lives.

Tackling grief with a wry voice and an unflinching eye, So Glad to Meet You tells the story of two people who, in searching for what they’ve lost, end up finding what they never knew they needed—each other.

EXCERPT: The extra mileage on the journey home paid off. When Daphne slipped the key into the knob and turned, demonstrating mastery of the silent unlock and door open, her dad was asleep on the La-Z-Boy. The light from the TV reflected off his balding head, and his overgrown blonde hair splayed with static electricity against the cushions. She could see his eyelids twitching, which meant he was gone for the night. Tiptoeing down the hallway, she silently praised herself for not choosing the coffee shop.

It was only when she crossed her bedroom threshold and closed the door with a miniscule click that she could breathe again. She plopped down in the chair and adjusted her laptop to her body. In moving the computer, she inadvertently knocked the nickel she had propped against it. The coin tumbled to the ground with a mocking, spinning chime. Daphne sighed. The perfect end to another perfect Tuesday.

Daphne scanned the floor, under the chair, under her feet. The nickel was nowhere. She knelt and, on further inspection, detected a flash of silver between two floorboards. There was barely enough room to stuff the tops of her fingers down into the crack. The sensation of her cuticles scraping against the wood ran down her spine, and the pain shot up her neck and into her molars. She gritted her teeth and shoved her hands down further, until a loose plank shifted.

Daphne pried up the floorboard. The nickel fell for a final time, resting next to a carelessly folded piece of notebook paper and a small bottle of perfume or cologne, Daphne wasn’t sure which.

She picked up the bottle. “FLAME” was printed across the barrel. The “A” was a lick of fire. She sniffed the nozzle but could only smell cold metal. She sprayed a fine mist into the air. The essence of Jason Pagano rushed into her mind through her nose—his shadowy figure slinking behind Emily everywhere she went, always disappearing behind a closed door. Daphne had liked his scent. It evoked the embers of summer camp and winter fireplaces.

Her jittery hands smoothed the paper open, cautious to not damage the relic, an archeologist discovering a Pharaoh’s tomb. Small pen doodles, like hieroglyphics, spread across the page. The horned head of a bull. A mountain. The Eiffel Tower. A parachute. A waterfall. A cactus. A brick wall. Stars in all the open spaces of the page, framing the words. It was a list, written with two different hands, one more legible than the other.

EMILY & JASON’S TOP TEN
1.) The Great Wall of China
2.) Jim Morrison’s grave
3.) Climb Mount Everest
4.) Skydive
5.) The Sahara Desert
6.) Own a pair of designer shoes
7.) Niagara Falls
8.) Running with the Bulls
9.) Go To Outer Space
10.)

The list trembled in her hands. For seven years, she had listened for the clue and this was her reward. Instead of finding treasure, she had found a map.


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Lisa SuperABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Lisa Super is a brunch enthusiast based in Los Angeles. She’s worked on a number of TV shows ranging from pop culture phenomenons (Flavor of Love) to traumedy gold (One Mississippi). While every day in LA is an adventure, traveling with her husband across the globe is her favorite hobby. SO GLAD TO MEET YOU is her first novel.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.