The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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October Happenings!

Happy October!

Last month I didn’t post as much as I would have liked. But the highlight of Sept was earning my second badge on NetGalley for 10 reviews posted. The Bookshelf Corner was also nominated for The Cramm Award. And I made small progress in different areas of my life. Not a huge win but I guess any progress counts for something right now. I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting this month, likely a few times a week. But I hope you will like what get’s posted.

Royalty Free Image via pixabay.com | Edited in Paint

Here’s what’s happening this October month:

The Blog

As of now I have no set posting schedule – I think that’s for the best until I can get on a better work schedule. Like I said earlier in this post, it’ll likely be a few times a week. I’ve also been thinking of further visually updating the blog. Not sure if that’ll actually happen and if it does it won’t be for some months.

The TBR List

New (Updated) TBR List – https://thebookshelfcorner.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/the-post-in-which-an-overzealous-reader-changes-her-tbr-list-again/

Currently Reading:

  • Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan (REVIEW COMING OCT 8)
  • Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
  • (ARC) Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Call For Book Recommendations – what’s a good book that I definitely should read?

Novels & Other Writings

Continue writing 1st Draft of Novel Idea #1 (YA Fantasy)

Continue drafting full characters and plot of Novel Idea #3 (YA Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling)

Novel Idea #2 (Fantasy) – On Hold – concept written but may partially change

Write a Short Story

Book Recommendation of the Month

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin’s Press, February 26, 2013

Image via Goodreads

My Review of Eleanor & Park


As always, happy reading and happy writing!

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Book Review: Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce (2nd Read)

Image via Goodreads | 2000 cover

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Circle Opens, book 1
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Lady Sandrilene fa Toren knows all about unusual magic – she herself spins and weaves it like thread. But when she witnessed a boy dancing a spell, even she is confounded. To her dismay, Sandry learns that as the mage who discovered the power of the young dancer, she must be his teacher. Before lessons can begin, however, Sandry and her uncle, Duke Vedris, get news of a mysterious murderer stalking a clan of local merchants. The killer employs the strangest magic of all: the ability to reduce essence to nothingness. As the murders mount and the killer grows bolder, Sandry’s teaching takes on a grave purpose. For it becomes clear to everyone that the killings can only be stopped by the combined workings of two people: the young teacher and her even younger student.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Magic Steps is just as wonderful as I remembered. It had me feeling bittersweet nostalgia and oh-so-happy. A great beginning for fans of Tamora Pierce who didn’t want the Circle of Magic stories to end. But Magic Steps remains a joy to read despite the gruesomeness of the plot.

Seeing Sandry really put to work all she has learned in the past four years was a joy to see. Strong willed and very intelligent, Lady Sandrilene fa Toren (a 14-year-old “stitch witch”) has all the makings of a great mage and leader. She’s so mature that I sometimes forget she’s just 14.

Such a thrilling book with many characters to know and love. There’s Duke Vedris, the ruler of Emelan who commands respects that’s fully earned – I’ve always enjoyed seeing his character in action. Kwaben and Oama, Sandry’s personal guards – I always love seeing kickass, loyal teams. Yazmin, a renowned dancer, who teaches Pasco to dance – she is a spitfire to love.

I like the humor Pasco’s character adds to the story. Here we have someone coming late into his magic – an anomaly in Pierce’s universe – who must quickly learn to control his newfound power and assist in a murder investigation. And he’s 12. That’s a lot for a 12-year-old boy wrap his head around. But I think coming from a family with generations of harriers made some of his actions and reactions pleasantly surprising.

However, I wish Pasco was a bit more in the foreground of the story. We get three different third-person limited points of view – the majority’s Sandry’s – and third person omniscient mixed in. A little jarring here and there for me but the way the story is woven works nonetheless.

There’s so much to love and talk about this story. Awesome universe. Interesting characters. Creative plot. Everything I love about Tamora Pierce’s remarkable stories. This was a fun re-read.


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The Post In Which An Overzealous Reader Changes Her TBR List…Again

I think I may have been a bit overzealous with my reading list. I underestimated my work schedule for the next few months and haven’t had much time to really read. So I’ve made some changes to my reading list that will hopefully make it more doable. I’m scratching the themes I had going except for November – I’ll be reading a lot of children’s picture books that month since they don’t take up very little time to read (but as long as they are available to borrow from the library at the time). For the rest of the time I’ve chosen books that I really really want to read as soon as possible.

Royalty Free Image via pixabay.com

Currently Reading

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce (The Circle Opens, book 1) – review coming Oct 1
Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 4) – review coming Oct 8

Other TBRs

Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce (Protector of the Small, book 4)
(ARC) Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
(ARC) The Song of Seven by Tonke Dragt
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book 3)
River of Dreams by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 8)
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (Beka Cooper, book 3)
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (book 1)

Tentative Reads

The Winter King by C.L. Wilson (Weathermages of Mystral, book 1)
Shadowstorm by Dianne Slyvan (Shadow World, book 6)
Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell (Zodiac, book 4)
Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley (Effigies, book 2)

Picture Books

How To Babysit A Grandma by Jean Reagan, Illus. Lee Wildish
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Press Here by Hervé Tuliet
The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes
Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt, Illus. Shahar Kober
Dragons Love Tacos 2 by Adam Rubin, Illus. Daniel Salmieri
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illus. David Roberts
If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff, Illus. Felicia Bond
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, Illus. Zachariah OHora
The Pigeon Wants A Puppy by Mo Willems


Does anyone else ever have trouble with getting through books on their reading list? Do you have any tips on how to better manage a TBR list?

A S   A L W A Y S,  H A P P Y   R E A D I N G!


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(My) Top Favorite Stand-Alone Novels (Not A Part Of A Series)

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris, Shelly Brown | To Be Published: October 3, 2017

My ARC Review: “Mustaches for Maddie is everything: charming, imaginative, funny, beautiful, heartwarming. Based on a true story about the authors’ daughter, Maddie, this novel will give you strength in your darkest times and prove that mustaches make everything better and funnier.”

The Green and the Gray by Timothy Zahn

Summary via Goodreads: Tree-hiding Greens and mountain-hiding Grays hide in Manhattan, alien refugees from a cataclysmic war, until two teens from opposing sides find both species have survived. On a cold October night, Roger and Caroline Whittier accept an unexpected burden at gunpoint: Melantha Green 12, the Peace Child ready to die, prevented by NYPD Detective Thomas Fierenzo.

All Things New by Lauren Miller

My ARC Review: “What Jessa is going through is unfortunately more common than not. How she thinks, feels, behaves, and perceives things is exactly what someone with panic attacks and anxiety experiences. It’s an honest and raw portrayal of teenage mental health issues and mental health in general. She is a very relatable character even if you haven’t fully experienced all that she has.”

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Sumamry via Goodreads: As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

My ARC Review: “Hannah Bucchin’s debut novel, Paintbrush, was a delightful story that had me falling in love with the characters, on the edge of my seat with its plot, and feel all the feels with its touch of romance. This was a big win for me. And I look forward to reading more from her.”

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My Review:Eleanor & Park is a fantastic story of acceptance and first love. It’s a beautiful tale, so raw and open about the emotions the two title characters go through as their relationship with each other and those around them progresses and changes.”

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Summary via Goodreads: The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Summary via Goodreads: After the Russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young Russian Countess, has no choice but to flee to England. Penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.

Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to Rupert, the handsome Earl of Westerholme. To make matters worse, Rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of Rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancé…

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

Summary via Goodreads: For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her oppressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. Defying her father’s wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be fiancé have begun to track her down… 

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Summary via Goodreads: Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate — a life and a role that she has never challenged… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues, My Sister’s Keeper is the story of one family’s struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning parable for all time.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

My Review:The One and Only Ivan surprised me. It reads like a lyrical diary but the tone and simplicity of each chapter shows that Ivan is an intelligent gorilla, as intelligent as a human (if not more, in his opinion). Anything Ivan points out, describes, compares and contrasts comes off as wise and/or humorous. A very quick read, The One and Only Ivan is a fun read for all.”


What are your favorite stand-alone novels?

As always, HAPPY READING!


Links to Images Used (In Order):

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/110979  ~  [Mustaches for Maddie]

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/216455.The_Green_and_the_Gray

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/108118  ~  [All Things New]

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32078787-once-and-for-all

https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/113051  ~  [Paintbrush]

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15745753-eleanor-park

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60931.Kindred

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/714569.A_Countess_Below_Stairs

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/963274.A_Company_of_Swans

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10917.My_Sister_s_Keeper

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11594337-the-one-and-only-ivan


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ARC Book Review: The King’s Champion by Xina Marie Uhl

Thank you to NetGalley and XC Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. The King’s Champion by Xina Marie Uhl is expected to be released October 15, 2017.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The King’s Champion, book 1
Rating: 3/5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

 

Book Summary (via NetGalley):
The first book in a fantasy series of swords, sorcery, and adventure.

A generation ago, a great war convulsed Cantwin. Amidst blood-soaked battles the Stormlifter kings rose up to save the kingdom by imprisoning the dark god Moleck in hell for all eternity.

Or so they thought.

Seventeen-year-old Lance thinks his life is just about perfect now that the prettiest girl in the village wants him. Sure, he dreams of fighting far off battles, but that’s nothing more than a fantasy. Until the elders order him away to find a name for himself.

In the dazzling capital, Lance navigates court intrigues with Prince Kieran’s unlikely friendship. Yet the glitter and gold obscures a dark conspiracy. Soon the two friends find themselves propelled to the edges of the world on a desperate quest. The stakes: Lance’s life, Kieran’s throne, and the survival of the Land itself.

Hunted by assassins, and haunted by the awakening of a strange and frightful power within them, they must find proof of Kieran’s claim to the throne before a dark god’s vengeance destroys them all. For the Power is summoning a champion, and it will not be denied.

~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
This was an interesting read – okay but not what I expected. The material here is good but could be even better.

We have two great main characters – Lance and Kieran – whose adoring friendship I haven’t seen much of in YA. The story goes by quick, which, unfortunately, forces the friendship/brotherhood – and other events – to develop quickly. Lance and Kieran are very much alike with their upbringing the only stark differentiation. But I don’t feel what we get is enough to truly distinguish them as individuals.

I like the premise and setting but the pacing doesn’t help me become fully engrossed in the story. Things “skipped around” or were “cut out” a lot as if I was reading a condensed version of the story. This often made me think that there had to be more than what I was reading.

I liked that what “magic” we see seems to come from the Land in a kind of one-with-nature feel. But it’s effect leaves several questions for me and, I would have thought, from the characters.

Post-read I’m not 100% sure I will read the next book because it seems like I’d being going into book 2 still very much in the dark. But a part of me wants to read more of Lance and Kieran’s story because I love their friendship. I think the premise of book 2, Trials by Sword, will largely dictate my decision.


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2017 Reading Challenge COMPLETED!!!

I finally finished my 2017 Reading Challenge on Goodreads! My goal was to read 30 books this year and I managed – miraculously – to accomplish that goal. To celebrate I thought I’d look back on some of the books I read as a part of this challenge, including post-read thoughts and highlights from the reviews I wrote. Note: title links lead to my review of each individual book.

 

The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan

Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

Image via Goodreads

A book finale I won’t soon forget. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 but it still makes me smile with happiness and sadness to this day – so is the way of a story come full circle.

Review Excerpt: “The storyline was amazing and suspenseful. I thought, Holy guacamole! That just happened. and Oh no! and What in the world?! and Please tell me there’s a way out of this. I had no idea what would happen next or how characters would overcome, which made me feel fearful for everyone involved. The strain of it was exhausting but I enjoyed every minute of it. It was an entertaining story.”

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

Image via Goodreads

Goodness, this whole series was a lot to take in but so worth it. I enjoyed each book and it all culminated into a wonderful finale. Snow Like Ashes series is now one of my new favorite YA Fantasy series

Review Excerpt: “A long read but worth it. I’m very satisfied with how everything came together as the conclusion of this series.”

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Image via Goodreads

I remember needing a book to read for something but I couldn’t use this one. I still kept the title written down to read later because the plot interested me and the cover was just gorgeous. I was so glad my local library had a copy. This book was amazing – as was book 2 – and I cannot wait to read book 3, Heart on Fire, when it’s released in early 2018.

Review Excerpt:A Promise of Fire was really good. I couldn’t put it down and finished reading it within a couple of days. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a 400+ book so fast and laughed so much.”

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Zodiac by Romina Russell

Image via Goodreads

I am so happy to have discovered this book because I am in love with this series. It’s so good and different and everything I love about YA sci-fi and fantasy. Rho is such aThe fourth and final book of the Zodiac series just came out and I can’t wait to read it.

Review Excerpt:Zodiac has been one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long time. This book was amazing – I loved it so much. I had only read a few chapters before I decided that I had to read the other books in this series.There are so many twists and turns that’ll keep you guessing and enthralled for the entirety of the story.”

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Wandering Star by Romina Russell

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

From This Moment On by Lynn Kurland

Image via Barnes & Noble

I remember adding this to my reading list this year because the book I had read before it was just….ugh. I needed a pick me up and a Lynn Kurland romance novel was just what I needed. I would read this book a third time, it was that good.

Review Excerpt: “This is my second time reading this book and it was just as good and sweet and lovely as I remembered.”

Black Moon by Romina Russell

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin (ARC review)

Image via NetGalley

This was the first ARC I’ve ever read and reviewed and also the first book I read and reviewed for NetGalley. It was so good and refreshing to read. Loved it and the strong sense of community it highlights. I also did an interview with the author, which was really cool.

Review Excerpt: “Hannah Bucchin’s debut novel, Paintbrush, was a delightful story that had me falling in love with the characters, on the edge of my seat with its plot, and feel all the feels with its touch of romance. This was a big win for me. And I look forward to reading more from her.”

Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear, Pictures by Esmé Shapiro (ARC review)

A Pattern for Pepper by Julie Kraulis (ARC review)

Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloan (NetGalley review)

Image via NetGalley

I really really want to read book 2 because this book was so amazing. I love werewolves in fiction so this was just right for me.

Review Excerpt: “This book was everything and then some – perfect for a paranormal romance-loving, wolf-obsessed, hopeless romantic like myself! One of my new favorite books ever and of 2017.”

Ever My Love by Lynn Kurland

Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Illustrated by Carmen Mok (NetGalley review)

The Hunters by John Flanagan

All Things New by Lauren Miller (ARC review)

Image via NetGalley

I’m so glad I got to read this book! It’s just…everything you want from a book and does a great job expressing what mental health issues look and feel like.

Review Excerpt: “Beautiful, poignant, and honestly portrayed, All Things New is an enchanting story that gives hope for a brighter today and an even brighter tomorrow. I underestimated how good All Things New would be – it was unbelievably fantastic!”

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown (ARC review)

Image via NetGalley

I am still reeling over how amazing this book was. I highly recommend this wonderful middle grade novel based on a true story.

Review Excerpt: “Maddie’s voice is clear, distinct, and her personality shines through every line. Her active imagination colors every word and phrase, making the reading experience extremely enjoyable. Her perspective on life made me think about my own, especially when I was her age. I felt included in her world. Maddie is a sweet, admirable individual who anyone would feel lucky to have as a friend.”

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Image via Goodreads

This was the first book by Sarah Dessen I ever read and oh my goodness it was good. Any recommendations which other books by Dessen I should read?

Review Excerpt: “This novel really pulls at the heart-strings, especially with what incites the conflict and every obstacle that follows. What made me pick up this book was that it involved wedding planning and the premise seemed really interesting. Those two things combined surely would make a great story, right? It did. Also, let’s not forget that the cover is simple but gorgeous.”

Blood Guard by Megan Erickson (ARC review COMING SOON)

Me, Me, Me by Annika Dunklee, Illustrated by Lori Joy Smith (ARC review COMING SOON)


Thanks for reading today’s post! I hope you enjoyed it. More reviews are to come within the next four months.

My Fall 2017 TBR List is up – check out what books I’ll be reading. I update my Currently Reading page and Goodreads regularly when changes in books occur. I’m still reading Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan and The King’s Champion by Xina Marie Uhl (ARC), but I hope to finish those really soon.

You can also follow me on Twitter for updates on my reading list and about the blog.

As always, happy reading!


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(OFFICIAL) 2017 Fall TBR List

Royalty Free Image via pixabay.com | Edited in Paint

The official TBR list for the Fall is here! I am so excited to read all of these books and get back to non-stop reading. The summer months drastically slowed down my ability to get through books but now it’s back to work! As stated previously, each month has a certain “theme” or “plan.” I did this because it made crafting a TBR list easier/more organized for me.

Quick side notes – [1] The December books marked tentative mean that I will be buying them at a later date (if I can) unless my local library acquires them first. [2] I will be reading titles from NetGalley throughout if I find any books to read and get approved for them. [3] Any books I don’t get to will be saved for the 2018 TBR lists (tba in Dec).


SEPTEMBER – Books by Tamora Pierce

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, book 3)
Magic Steps (The Circle Opens, book 1)
Lady Knight (Protector of the Small, book 4)
Battle Magic (Circle Reforged, book 3)


OCTOBER – Catch-Up On Book Series

River of Dreams by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 8)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book 3)
Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 5)


NOVEMBER – Picture Books

How To Babysit A Grandma by Jean Reagan, Illus. Lee Wildish
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Press Here by Hervé Tuliet
The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes
Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt, Illus. Shahar Kober
Dragons Love Tacos 2 by Adam Rubin, Illus. Daniel Salmieri
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illus. David Roberts
If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff, Illus. Felicia Bond
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, Illus. Zachariah OHora
The Pigeon Wants A Puppy by Mo Willems


DECEMBER – Newly Released Books

Loved by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (Other World, book 1)
Shadowstorm by Dianne Slyvan (Shadow World, book 6) ~ tentative
Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell (Zodiac, book 4) ~ tentative
Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley (Effigies, book 2) ~ tentative


I hope everyone has a fantastic day! You can stay up to date on this list’s progress here on The Bookshelf Corner as well as on my Goodreads page and Twitter @bookshelfcorner.

Do you normally write TBR lists? What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?

AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!