Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (audiobook) by Louise Rennison

“Americans…they call knickers ‘panties’. That is not really speaking English, is it?”

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe Sex God has left the country, taking Georgia’s heart with him. So she decides to display glaciosity to all boys — a girl can only have her heart broken so many times. Until she meets Masimo, the new singer for the Stiff Dylans. The Sex God is gone, but here comes the Dreamboat, and Georgia’s away laughing on a fast camel (whatever that means).

Feelings: This is #5 in this series and I’m slowly, but surely, making my way through Georgia’s (mis)adventures. The last book or two was starting to feel repetitive and I was turning against Georgia a bit. So for book 5, I decided it was time to try out the audiobooks. Granted, not all 10 books have audio adaptations. I am SO glad I made the switch for this book. The narrator is Louise Rennison, the author, who adds so much life to her own written words. Actually, what’s funny is that after I started listening, I still didn’t realize somehow that the author was the narrator and I kept thinking, “Wow, this narrator really understands Georgia.” Well of COURSE she does.

This particular book had a large number of funny scenes. There’s one scene in particular where Georgina finds herself at a church. She sees a place with candles being lit and assumes it’s the Cosmic Request Shop and accidentally sets an old lady’s head scarf on fire. They get in a handbag fight and it’s greatness. To me, these are the quinticential Georgia kind of scenes and I love that we got more than a couple of these in this book.

Issues: I don’t think I actually had any issues with this one! (It could be because I’m not a auditory learner. I never get as much from audiobooks as I do from actually reading the words…so I always miss stuff. But it could also be that I’d have the same reaction if I’d read the physical book! Guess we’ll never know!)

Characters: In my last couple of reviews, I’ve talked about how Georgia is rude and becoming more and more so as the books go on. She didn’t come off nearly as mean in this book and I think that has a LOT to do with the way Rennison narrates her character. She took out a lot of the “bite” I was adding to Georgia’s words in my own head and I ended up liking her a good deal more. The way I was reading her had a different tone, so I’m glad to be getting the author’s perspective and intention. That doesn’t always happen!

We started out being obsessed (still) with Robbie the Sex God and wondering about Dave the Laugh…then we got a new boy! Finally we’re shaking things up! I’m also really glad to see Georgia and Dave having an actual friendship. Everything happened quickly between her and Robbie, so it’s nice to see her having conversations and really connecting with someone without too much snogging going on in between.

This book didn’t have as much about friendship as some of the others. Although I have to say, I’m ok with Tom and Jas not being cuddly duddly all the time now. It’s healthy for them to be separated and to figure things out, so I’m glad we’re getting to see them experience that. I think it’ll be good for Georgia and Jas’ friendship, too. Maybe. It’s Georgia, so…who knows?

Final thoughts: This may be my favorite book in this series so far. Maybe because Robbie wasn’t really in it – not a fan! I would highly recommend these audiobooks narrated by the author. They’re funny and quick – each are 4 or 5 hours only! (That’s pretty short for me, compared to the books I usually reach for.) Georgia is growing up a little bit more and I’m excited to continue this series to see what else she gets herself in to!

*See my review for book four, Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants, HERE!

Goodreads rating: 4.06/5

Audible.com rating: 4.4/5

My rating: 4.25/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Top 5 Books of 2017 (so far)

July rolled around and I realized I hadn’t chosen my top books of the year! The summer is moving so quickly, friends. It’s hard to keep up! I’ve chosen 5 print books, 1 audiobook, as well as 1 graphic novel/comic book to represent the best I’ve read this year (so far).

Born a Crime audiobook by Trevor Noah (who also narrates it)

I love Trevor Noah’s humor and enjoy watching his show on Comedy Central from time to time. I was expecting this book to be funny, but I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did. Trevor accounts his life growing up in South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid as a mixed race boy. His stories are so enlightening and powerful. I really enjoyed listening to him read his own stories because of the voices and accents he used, as well as the emotion. Read my full review HERE.

March, Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

I’ve read the first two books in this graphic novel series and found book two to be full of information that I didn’t know. The first book is enlightening, but the events that took place were ones I knew about, so I just had the opportunity to see them from a different perspective. Book two, however, involved events I had heard about, but couldn’t explain to someone. It’s full of raw emotion, simple artwork, and poignant words. My full review is HERE.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Hands down, my favorite book of the year. This is the second book in The Dark Artifices trilogy and it’s some of Clare’s best work, in my opinion. The characters are so rich and tangible, the writing is insightful and whimsical, and the events are twisted but well done. Emotions ran high while reading this. It answered questions, set up the next book, and brought back old Shadowhunter favorites. Read my full review HERE.

The Royal Treatment by MJ Summers

I really enjoyed the way this book was written. Not only did the perspective go back and forth between our two main characters, but our narrators also “spoke” to the reader, which was really fun. The ending came together in a way that made sense, in my opinion. Sometimes prince and pauper love stories don’t track with me, but this one was seamless. My full review is HERE.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han

This series was EXACTLY what I needed at the end of a reading slump. I wanted romance, but not stupid fluff. I wanted some drama, but not enough to make me feel stressed. I wanted friendship and family, but more romance than anything. Check, check, check. I loved the main character, I loved her love interest, I loved her family. Can I rave any more? Just read my review HERE to understand. HA!

Summerlost by Ally Condie

I had a student who recommended this book to me and I’m so glad that they did. It was both simple and complex. The writing was easy to track with, the verbage was engaging, and the characters lept off the page right at me. It’s a quick and easy read, but it’ll leave you with all the feels! Read my full review HERE.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

If you’ve been around with me for at least a year, you know that I’m a big Sarah Dessen fan. I’ve read all 13 of her books, which I documented HERE. I think this particular storyline was well put together. Time flipped back and forth between chapters, lettng us learn more about our main character in the past and then showing us how that affected her in the present. It was slow to start, but worth it in the end! Plus, if you’ve read Dessen’s previous books, you’ll be able to see some parallels and make some connections! Love that. Read my full review HERE.

What are your top reads of the year so far? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

*This review will contain spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the first book: Lady Midnight. However, I won’t give any spoilers away from THIS book.*

“Fiction is truth, even if it is not fact. If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die.”

Synopsis from Goodreads – click the link to read it!

Feelings: Cassandra Clare does a lot of things well, but for me there are two stand out skills: character writing and plot twists. She writes beautifully complex characters that make me fall in love and go through a gambit of emotions. We go on these incredible journeys with them and these stories are so full of twists and turns, I literally have no idea where a story will end up. Ok…one more thing she does really well is dual stories. She can take us back and forth between two major events seamlessly. This happened a couple of times in this specific book and it kept me on the edge of my seat!

This book’s ending…I can’t. It was so beautifully, painfully well written and I had legit tears falling from my eyes as I read. So powerful in so many ways and it really set up the next book.

Issues: About halfway through the book I realized that almost every character had multiple possible love interests. Clare’s books always involve long, drawn out love triangles, but this one seemed to have a lot going on. I didn’t dislike it, necesarily, it was just a lot to process.

Characters:  I LOVE that we got to see some of our old Shadowhunter friends. There definitely had bigger roles in this story than they did in Lady Midnight and I am thrilled about it.

In my review of Lady Midnight, I said that Emma seems like the perfect combination of Clary and Jace and I stand by that. She’s sarcastic and confident like Jace, while also having the best qualities of Clary. I love that they were both around for her in this book, too. She had to make some tough decisions and will continue to, perhaps her hardest choice of all is coming soon! While I enjoy reading about her, I don’t know that I necessarily connect with her.

JULIAN. What a dynamic character. He is such a hero and he may be one of my favorite characters in the Shadowhunter universe. The way he defends those he loves and feels things so fiercely…love him.

In the first book, I wasn’t sure what to think about Kit. I especially didn’t know what to expect from his big reveal at the end. In THIS book, though, I think he comes to terms with his new life at a very realistic pace, which I appreciated. Sometimes in YA, characters embrace life changes very quickly and it can be hard to buy in to. I think Clare write Kit’s experience really well.

Ty is a character that I’m loving more and more. I love his confidence; he knows he’s different BUT he knows WHO he is. He’s surrounded by such a loving family who embrace him as he is, which has given him a really strong foundation. I can’t wait to see the direction his story takes, but I’m nervous about how he’ll be affected after the way this book ended.

Finally, I think Diana’s big secret was handled really well. Others who have gone through similar experiences may think differently and I’d be interested to hear their opinion. However, from my point of view, we knew Diana had something people didn’t know about her and I believe the character she chose to reveal her secret to was well chosen.

Final thoughts: I read this book really quickly. You wouldn’t think it was 700 pages long, but I flew through it…which is the case with all of Clare’s books. If you haven’t joined the Shadowhunter universe yet, I would NOT recommend starting with this trilogy. Read Clare’s books in publication order and then strap in for a crazy ride!

 

Goodreads rating: 4.59/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants by Louise Rennison

Probably because I am such a kind and caring person, Jesus has decided to take me for His sunbeam by letting me off the hook.”

Synopsis from Goodreads: Since Georgia’s been dating the yummy scrumboes Sex God, Robbie, her glossy lips are always at the ready, and her “red-bottomosity” is kept under wraps. Along with Naomi the Sex Kitten’s new litter (thank you, Angus), Robbie’s announcement that his band will be traveling to Hamburger-a-gogo land (Georgia can only hope to go with), and a class trip to France, Georgia is one camper in a state of teenage splendiosity. The small trouble is, Georgia also wonders if Dave the Laugh might still be the guy for her, and when Robbie gives a surprise-ending twist to his travel plans, she gets a “weird feeling of reliefosity” that makes her wonder if she must venture out and bravely use her “red bottom wisely.”

Feelings: Georgia’s back at it again! In this fourth installment of this series, we travel with Georgia and the Ace Gang to Paris, we experience the throes of young love, and the woes of growing up. In the last three books, I’ve hoped to see Georgia mature a little bit more. By book four, we still don’t see much growth on that front. She’s still complaining about her parents, but there may have actually been a little less of that in this book. She’s still mean to Jas, her best friend, but Jas seems to dish it out a little bit more and defend herself here. So while Georgia isn’t changing too terribly much just yet (still hoping), there are SOME changes happening. Of the four books I’ve read, this one was harder for me to get going with. I read the first 20 pages or so and just felt like we’d been there before. It got better by the second half, but I just wasn’t feeling this one as much for a while.

Issues: Jools was mentioned a couple times in this book and I had legitimately forgotten about her. Georgia has the Ace Gamg friend squad and I can only tell you about 4 of the 5 girls. I think that’s a shame!

Has Georgia gotten even meaner? Her attitude towards Pamela Green makes me sad and also kind of angry. When P. Green played Nana the dog in their school production of Peter Pan, Georgia taught her dog tricks to be cruel. There’s a moment towards the end when I was thinking Georgia would grow up a little, but she ended up making fun of both Pamela and her mother.

Finally, I get that Georgia’s whole unique thing is all the -osity she adds to words and the funny phrases she uses. But it got really old, really quickly in this book. Seriosity, maturiosity…I’m over it.

Characters: Georgia’s “Sex God” boyfriend drops an unexpected bomb on her in the last few pages of this book and we see her feelings for Dave the Laugh grow as a result. I’m expecting book five to really develop that choice she’ll have to make. As always, my vote is with Dave. He’s a laugh, after all, and they’re able to be comfortable and just talk to each other. Robbie seems even more distant in this book, for multiple reasons.

I’m all about Jas’ budding confidence. She’s defending herself a little more and figuring out what she excels at. It may be a little nerdier than what Georgia wants for her, but I like that she’s sticking to it. You be you, Jas!

Georgia’s parents are unlike any YA family I think I’ve ever read about. Her parents fight and then make out and then mom flirts with the doctor and then dad does dad stuff. It’s all kind of exhausting. And kind of weird. Especially when Georgia’s mom is flirting with the doctor and taking her daughter to his office because her elbows look weird. Like what even is that?

Final thoughts: I’m glad I decided to read this whole series, but this book just felt like one of those in-betweeners. You know, the type that just serves to bridge us from point A to point B. It didn’t seem like much actually happened, up until the last 10 pages or so. If you’re reading these books in order, then you definitely should read it. Especially considering it’s only 200 pages. But it wasn’t my favorite. Come on, book 5!

Goodreads rating: 4.01/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 3/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2017

Earlier this year, I listed out 10 books I was looking forward to from the first half of this year. (You can see that post HERE.) I included 5 books that are part of a series and 5 stand-alones that were released through the month of June. Now it’s time to look at the second half of this year, which I cannot BELIEVE it’s time to do. For each book, I’ll include the release date and the synopsis from the book’s Goodreads page. The first 5 are either the first book in a new series or a continuation of an existing one, followed by 5 stand-alones.

The Last Tudor (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #14) by Philippa Gregory

Released August 8 — The latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory features one of the most famous girls in history, Lady Jane Grey, and her two sisters, each of whom dared to defy her queen.
Jane Grey was queen of England for nine days, dying on the scaffold for her faith. But few people know about her two sisters, cousins to Elizabeth I who also faced imprisonment and death sentences for treason.  Katherine Grey was the beauty of the family who earned the lifelong hatred of her cousin Elizabeth I when she married for love. Mary Grey was an extraordinary little person known as a dwarf in Tudor times, who defied convention to marry the tallest man at court in her own secret love match.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Released August 29 — Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world. Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

Released September 5 — Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken. His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them. But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake

Released September 19 — The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail? With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer

Released November 7 — The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew. Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

 

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marise Wiseman

Released July 25 — On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time–and sold to the circus sideshow.
More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl. At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction… .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess

Released July 25 — Solo, a YA novel in poetic verse, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, whose life is bombarded with scathing tabloids and a father struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback. Haunted by memories of his mother and his family’s ruin, Blade’s only hope is in the forbidden love of his girlfriend. But when he discovers a deeply protected family secret, Blade sets out on a journey across the globe that will change everything he thought to be true.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Released September 5 — On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Released September 19 — Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions. Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Released September 26 — One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted. International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

What books are you looking forward to for the rest of 2017? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Royal Treatment by MJ Summers

“…finding a single, dependable, decent man is as likely as finding a payphone these days…”

Synopsis from GoodreadsTwenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle in an attempt to boost his family’s dismal public approval ratings, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends. Ultra-private, ultra-hot Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart…Can two natural enemies find their forever in each other’s arms, or will they ruin each other to save themselves?

Feelings: This book had me from the very beginning. Seriously, from the author’s note on page 1, I was hooked. It was really fun to follow Tessa in her adventure living basically every girl’s dream. The writing style was really engaging and I loved the way it all came together in the end. I’m always drawn to stories of princes and princesses, castles and ruling families. These kinds of stories, though, with the regular person getting a crack and the handsome prince…they’re my lifeblood. Plus, the narrators bring up the movie Speed, Arbonne products, Prince Harry, and uses the phrase “gaggle of dukes”. I’m sold.

Issues: There were a few moments where I felt like I was reading a different story: Beauty and the Beast, basically all the Prince & Me type stories, and a couple of Hallmark movies. It wasn’t like the whole book was a copycat, so I was kind of okay with it. Plus, the characters seemed to acknowledge any familiarity to other stories, which was kind of funny.

It felt pretty unrealistic that the crown prince would get to invite a member of the press to live in the palace for two whole months, especially one who’s so openly against the monarchy. It was especially weird that he announced it in a press conference before he or his people ever approached her.

Why does the prince have a pet pig? I mean…so, so random. I don’t hate it, though.

Characters: Straight up – I wasn’t expecting character development. I mean…a prince and a pauper getting together..I was just expecting romance. But we saw both main characters grow and change throughout the course of their story. The prince grew into his title and embraced change, while the “commoner” came to grips with her reality and stood up for herself and others. I think I read the second half of the book in one sitting because I was just so INto what was happening with these people. They felt really real to me and I was invested in how things turned out in the end. That’s my favorite kind of writing. I was really excited to see that this is just the beginning of a new series! Also, I’m a fan of when narrators speak to the readers. We get to see their personalities in a different way, and these two were fun to follow in that way.

Final thoughts: At the time that I’m writing this post, this book is available on Amazon.com for Kindle for just $3.99. Not sure if that’s a sale or if that’s its set price, but check it out! Again, I really enjoyed this book and I’m really looking forward to the next one!

Goodreads rating: 4.59/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5

My rating: 4.5/5

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

June 2017 Wrap Up

Hey friends! I’ve been a bit inconsistent with my posts lately, which I’m letting myself be okay with. After 2 years of posting 1-3 times a week, I’m not going to beat myself up over a few missed posts. I’ve been in and out of wifi for the last couple of weeks and low on reading motivation. But I’m hoping to get back at it this next week! Thanks for being patient and for understanding! – Caitlyn

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This is what I was able to read in June…I read 4 books, read 1 short story, listened to 0 audiobooks, and read 0 graphic novels, for a grand total of: 5!

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson

  • Different. Funny sometimes. Could have been better.
  • My rating: 2 stars

Kindred Spirits (short story) by Rainbow Rowell

  • Just long enough. One of my favorite authors. Interested in a follow up.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

  • Weddings. Multiple love stories. Classic Dessen (in a good way).
  • My rating: 4 stars

Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas by Louise Rennison

  • Georgia is still kind of mean. Poor Angus. More Dave the Laugh
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Scotland
  • My rating: 3.75 stars

The Royal Treatment by MJ Summers

  • Cute romance. Felt like a few other stories. New series.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn