One Year Blogiversary & INTL. Giveaway

 

Guess what January 3rd was?

My Blogiversary

Guess who had no clue until I looked it up on January 3rd?

This girl.

So, I did a Twitter poll, and a few people did it, so it’s been decided that today I’ll do my blogiversary post and celebrate by…

Giving you all a tour of my bookshelves.

Prepare yourselves, we still haven’t really worked out how many shelves we need and we’re still trying to find space to put all this crap that we own so the pictures will be scary in the sense that there’s no sense of order, it’s just chaos. Pure chaos. And mess.

Also, to celebrate my blogiversary I would like to do an international giveaway for a book depository gift card worth £10. It’s not much but I wanted to do something, and I promise there’ll be more giveaways to come this year.

My Bookshelves

First up, my Ikea cube shelf, which, I’m not putting a full picture of because it’s basically blocked by random game consoles and accessories and random pairs of shoes…oh…and a drill. [Looking right at it as I type, shuddering as I realize how messy I am]

 

The Cube shelf is mostly for my YA books as they’re the ones I own the most of, but we also have had to use this shelf for board games and puzzles and videogames which is why everything’s so smooshed in it. Oh and random videos apparently. Yea, that’s right that bottom right corner picture is Star Wars IV-VI on VHS. Boom.

I try to kinda keep it by genre, generally, but this go it’s literally been like ‘if it it fits, it sits’

You’ll note a Harry Potter lego set, may I just say that was a Christmas present to myself and the husband from my sister-in-law? She knows me too well.

I…I can’t get over how messy this all is! I couldn’t even take a picture of one of the cubes cause it was blocked by so much shite. Bahaha. Okay upward and onward [well downward shelf wise]

On the plus side, these shelves are slightly neater? Maybe?

Anyway, I have a whole shelf dedicated to Cassandra Clare cause she turns out books like I eat chocolates. Also, Mortal Instruments holds a special place in my heart as it was the first YA series I really read after the Harry Potter books.

I also have some books I’ve bought for the spawn AND myself, and I’ve kept them here for now such as Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson [not pictured here]. The Worst Teachers book is hers too, spawn prefers humorous books and graphic/comic books, I love seeing her develop her own tastes. Anyway, you’ll also see I have a cube of manga, that’s right, all manga there, and it’s three rows deep of manga lol. [Why does that sound dirty?]  I’m actually surprised by how many books I’ve actually read in these four cubes, go me, but haha the rest is all like 50% read, 50% forgot I owned.

Onto the other shelf in our tiny living room!

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Fortunately, this one is public appropriate to show you the full shelf lol. You’ll notice this is mostly classics, and hey, what can I say, I do love classics, as does the husband so this is more our shelf whereas the black cubicle one is definitely like all me lol.

I also love to collect older books so the first few shelves are the ones I find in charity shops while the bottom shelf as like our B&N pretty editions lol

And now we’re off to the basement/ground level!

 

Here we have historical fiction, ‘chick lit’ and more classics. As well as one set of my HP books and my Tamora Pierce books. ❤ The bottom shelf is like all Agatha Christie behind those other mystery books.

On the right we have….wait for it, nonfiction. There are reference books for musicology studies and the general nonfiction that the hubs and I can both bond over. Except he reads boring things like Napoleon stuff while I’m like ‘hey let’s read about actors and the Romanov dynasty’ lol.

Where will we go next? To our bedroom! [Bookshelves only, pervs]

Now, the bottom right picture is actually a different shelf, it’s a small one we keep our TBR books on, and you know, whatever else needs to go on there. You’ll spy Wolf Light and Curses & Kisses on the top of that shelf, I’m so excited to read those lol. The taller shelf holds signed/special edition books and my husband’s Hemingway and philosophy books as they’re important to him ❤

I know I’ve got multiple editions of some books on there, but, these books really made an impression on me so I have more than one copy.

I’ve got Goldsboro and Illumicrate editions of Kingdom of Souls, Fairyloot editions of Girls of Storm and Shadow, The Beautiful, The Merciful Crow, and Serpent and Dove on the first shelf. There’s also the Goldsboro editions of The Gods of Jade and Shadow and Aurora Rising. Pan’s Labyrinth is a signed Forbidden Planet edition, and that’s the Waterstones exclusive edition of The Deathless Girls. The rest of the books are regular editions but they’re all signed and most are personalized to me, they’re the authors I’ve been lucky enough to meet!

Second and third shelf are mostly Waterstones or even Barnes and Noble special editions, and more signed by the author/signed bookplate books. There’s also a Faecrate edition of The Red Labyrinth because I really thought that book was awesome and underrated. Finally the bottom shelf, I want to point out my Goldsboro and Illumicrate editions of Blood Heir, man, I thought that book was pretty great.

There we go, I have shown you all my horribly messy bookshelves, and consider these all ‘before’ photos as we are going to be getting wall/floating shelves for the mess that is the living room.

One Year

I’ve met so many amazing people, and read so many equally amazing books, that I can’t imagine my life without some part of the bookish community. I’ve joined street teams, I’ve found friends, met lovely people in publishing, authors, and book reviewers who have influenced my bookshelves.

I could go on and on about what I’ve done, but I already did a year in review, I read a lot, over 240+ books, put up over 174 book review posts, participated in readathons, blog tours, and Book Ending events, and really all that I can think to write about is how happy it’s all made me and how much fun I’ve had. This is all thanks to the people I’ve encountered and without them, there wouldn’t be this post.

Wouldn’t be here without you either.

Sending love and wishing you all the best, let’s see what another year will do on this blog. [Still updating my Patreon stuff, and will be bringing back Comparing Notes, just for starters]

Now onto the important stuff!

Giveaway Information

Giveaway is for a 10 gift card for book depository, it is open internationally, to be entered for it just comment on my blog OR F/RT the tweet about it. That’s it! [If you comment on here but don’t want to be entered in the giveaway for any reason, just state that you’d like to be exempt]

 

 

I’m on Patreon!

 

Hey everyone, I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of months now, so I’ve decided, the worst that can happen is I continue to not have any patrons…and since I have none anyway, I might as well give it a go!

I’ve tried to maintain it at a more affordable level, as being skint, I know it’s not possible to do patreon. [So, you know, don’t worry about not being able to even click on the link, I promise, I’ll still keep being the amazing and humble awesome person I am]

Currently there are three tiers, if I get my goal of $20.00 earnings a month, I’ll make a fourth tier, and as I get ideas I will add to my existing tiers so what you see is not what you get forever, just atm until I can think of more cool things.

 

Want to check it out? Awesome! Click the link below:

https://www.patreon.com/thecaffeinatedreader

 

Here are the Tiers:

Shot of Espresso

$1 or more per month

You’ll get a shoutout every month in my Monthly Rewind post, including a link to your social media/blog.

Exclusive Patreon Updates of my real time reactions to reading books

You also get my never ending love, which, to be fair, is priceless, so, talk about a deal.

Join $1 Tier

Travel Mug o’ Joe

$5 or more per month

Get book recs once a month at your request! Whatever genre you fancy!

You’ll be featured on my blog either in a guest post of your choice or in a compare notes if you like [this is still a free one but hey if you have no ideas, there’s always my series…that only has one post so far because I forgot about it] << One time thing, but you can use it whenever you like.

Get first pick of books I usually unhaul to charity, all I ask is to cover shipping cost [UK only unless you’d like to pay 5x what the book is worth haha]

And you’ll get the Espresso tier benefits still too of course:

You’ll get a shoutout every month in my Monthly Rewind post, including a link to your social media/blog.

Exclusive Patreon Updates of my real time reactions to reading books

You also get my never ending love, which, to be fair, is priceless, so, talk about a deal.

Join $5 Tier

Huge Ass Mug of Coffee

$10 or more per month

Personalized bookish playlist of your choice! It can be for my bookish rec orrrrr just a book you love, I’ll whip it up on spotify for you, this is a monthly thing!

Pick a backlist book for me to read off my tbr in a poll!

Buddy read a book of your choice and can do a joint post on it if you want [such as Comparing Notes or whatever you wanna post and on your blog or mine, or both!]

Buddy watch a movie of your choice, we both just watch the movie within the month and rave or rant over it together once we’ve both watched it.

Get a Christmas Postcard from Scotland!

This is on top of the other tiers:

Get book recs once a month at your request! Whatever genre you fancy!

You’ll be featured on my blog either in a guest post of your choice or in a compare notes if you like [this is still a free one but hey if you have no ideas, there’s always my series…that only has one post so far because I forgot about it] << One time thing, but you can use it whenever you like.

Get first pick of books I usually unhaul to charity, all I ask is to cover shipping cost [UK only unless you’d like to pay 5x what the book is worth haha]

And you’ll get the Espresso tier benefits still too of course:

You’ll get a shoutout every month in my Monthly Rewind post, including a link to your social media/blog.

Exclusive Patreon Updates of my real time reactions to reading books

You also get my never ending love, which, to be fair, is priceless, so, talk about a deal.

IN OTHER NEWS: I will be using affiliated links on my personal reviews [not blog tour ones] from now on. I will of course remind you all every post which contains them, but I just wanted to forewarn as well. Why am I doing all of this? We never expected me to be without a job this long and since reading and music are the only things I’m good at, I’m trying to at least dip a little into the more financial side, in truth I only hope to earn enough through my blog to pay for my wordpress/when I decided to move off wordpress.

Thriller Thursday

 

 

Hey Guys! So, I’ve decided that with all the thrillers I’ve been reading lately I will use Thursdays when I feel like it to highlight and recap/review some of my favorite thriller reads.

That being said, I am going to do TWO this week. Why? Because I can. It’s my blog. I do what I want.

 

 

Also I read both of these ARCs and LOVED them, and since they came out this month, I want to share them both.

**Thank you to the publishers, Point Blank – OneWorld Publications for the ARC of The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone and to Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of The Starter Wife. I received these in exchange for my honest review(s).**

First up?

 

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Blurb: ‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’ 

Tikka Molloy was eleven years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in an isolated suburb in Australia surrounded by encroaching bushland. That summer, the hottest on record, was when the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert. 

Did they run away? Were they taken? While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved. 

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home and is beginning to make sense of that strange moment in time. The summer that shaped her. The girls that she never forgot. 

Brilliantly observed, spiky, sharp, funny and unexpectedly endearing, THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – a perfect summer chiller with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart. 

My Review

 

Want an amazing summer thriller read?? This is pretty much it, I read this in a night, I couldn’t put it down and it was brilliant.

Three girls have gone missing, and in their wake they leave unanswered questions and one friend struggles I accept their disappearance. Going home again, will she unravel the mystery, will anything change after so long?

The ending to this is really what struck me the most. I won’t give anything away but it was not at all expected and Felicity McLean really impressed me. The story she weaves for us is quite the tangled web and in the end, there’s no black and white, just the facts as they are. I really love things that delve into the morally gray and better yet they have no clear answers. The point of this book wasn’t as much to solve a mystery as it was for Tikka to face her past.

The Van Apfel girls are all different and though they may all have blond hair, the similarities stop there. They are sisters and have to rely on each other more than their parents who are too embedded in their church and religion and only care about the daughters also becoming as ‘holy’ as they are. Except for the fact that our middle Van Apfel girl Cordelia who seems to attract her Father’s special attention.

Cordelia is complex, mature for her age and yet still ver much a young teenager (really a child at 13) and when you delve more into her own particulars you understand her more. I thought she was brilliantly written.

Even Ruth, the youngest, is so well fleshed out and McLean gives amazing descriptions for her (and the others). In fact as you read this, it’s hard not to imagine Australia, she paints a picture of the landscape and the suburbia perfectly.

McLean does a great job presenting all of the characters and describing what makes them all different, there are no hollow characters, even the side characters are given depth and everyone plays their part in this unsolved mystery.

Great debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us!

Content/Trigger Warning: Child Molestation/Rape (though not detailed, very very strongly hinted at), Child Abuse, death of a child.

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About the Author

FELICITY MCLEAN was born in Sydney Australia. She graduated at Sydney University with a BA in English and Australian literature and worked as a book publicist before embarking on a freelance career. Her journalism has appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Courier Mail and the Big Issue, among others, and she has ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. She lives with her English husband and two young children in Australia. THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is her debut novel. 

 

Next…

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Blurb:

Can you ever really know what goes on between a husband and wife? 

Claire Westcott tries to be the perfect wife to Byron but fears she will never measure up to his ex, Colleen. After all, it’s hard to compete with the dead. 

Colleen went missing eight years ago. Her body was never found but the police ruled it a suicide. So when Claire receives a phone call from a woman she believes is Colleen, it opens up a million terrifying questions. 

Claire discovers the couple weren’t as happy as they would have people believe. And now she’s worried Byron hasn’t been completely honest with her. 

There are secrets in every marriage, but Claire is about to find out that sometimes those secrets are deadly. 

My Review

I love creepy reads, and this, this was a brilliant and creepy read.

A true thriller with a fabulously well done antagonist. So, be prepared. There was a nice twist that slowly worked its way in, you may be able to spot it early on but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Laurin also doesn’t give too much away, at the end you’re still left wondering with a couple of questions and I absolutely love that, though, all the important things are answered so don’t worry about having an unsatisfying ending.

There’s something about having a character that you just can’t quite tell if they’re the hero or the villain that just makes it great, and Laurin gives you more than one character to wonder about! The little ‘cut’ scenes are brilliant as Laurin uses them for her own benefit, and continually manipulates the reader and I absolutely love that! I think it speaks for a writer, especially a thriller writer if they can twist and turn a story to their liking and throw a reader off track, even if it’s only for a moment. For those who read this sort of book more often it may be an easy guess for you, but I think you’ll still enjoy the read. I know I really did.

This was another book I consumed in a night, I actually tried to put it down too! I saw it was getting late, set the book to the side and turned off the light. 30 minutes later, I was still awake and wondering what in the world was going to happen next, so I made my way to the living room to finish the book without disturbing the husband with the light, and it was completely worth it!

I love that even the ‘good’ characters aren’t even that good, like McLean, Laurin is giving us this sort of gray area, and you’re left wondering ‘what could this person have done to make things better.’ Honestly, I enjoyed Claire as a character, and thought Laurin did a great job hashing her out.

Content/Trigger Warning: Violence, deaths, psychological manipulation, drugged drinks, stalking.

About the Author

 

Nina Laurin studied creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal, where she currently lives. She arrived in Montreal when she was just twelve years old, speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English but writes her novels in English. 
Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she’s always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea.

 

Alright there we have it! My first thriller Thursday! Both of these books are out now, so go check out your local bookstore/book depository/amazon/whatever you cool cats use these days!

Toodles!

 

Comparing Notes

 

Hey all! This is it!!! The FIRST in the series, Comparing Notes.

I had this in mind for a couple of months, it was inspired by the fact my friend Neda and I both read The Fever King and had completely different reading experiences. It kinda made me remember that we all have varied tastes, even our friends! *Gasp* I know, it’s shocking haha.

 

Anyway, now time to introduce Neda!

 

Neda and I have been friends since about the time we were 11/12 years old and we’re now…old. We’ll leave it at that. Anyway, she has a Master’s in English and is currently a stay at home mom like me, and she also writes wonderful poetry. You can find her and her reviews here.

This first post will be a discussion format and so we are awesome enough to share are very candid convo about The Fever King, and remember, we both just have varied opinions and no matter what, we’re both entitled to them, with that, let’s start! Please note we both read this a few months back and were laughable in our recall of some details.

[**ATTENTION: SPOILERS, SPOILERS EVERYWHERE**]

Discussion Time

Me: We could talk about where you think the book failed and where I thought it excelled?

Neda: Yea, especially if there are different opinions on the same concept.

Like, what really sticks out to me is how angry I was when it was revealed that Dara is a mind reader. I think I would have liked it better as a reader had I been in on the secret…maybe? At least then Dara would have gotten a sympathy vote. Same thing with…. Calix? I meant the main character, not Dara.

Also, in that same vein, it would be a totally different story if Lee had given us both Dara and the MC’s POV. Totally forgot the name…


Me: Noam

And I get that, I am glad Noam wasn’t a mind reader and I kinda thought Dara was just not a sympathetic character until we got to know more of his background. I actually was a huge fan of Calix, I thought that he was the most intriguing character. I preferred Noam without Dara. I think that I really enjoyed Lee’s take on the powers, that they’re induced by fever, and I do really love how the ending is Dara escaping, not Noam, or together, I think it’s a nice change and I hope that means more Calix lolol.

Neda: I loved the take on magic too! Dara was cool. My favorite character in the book. I need to write fanfiction from his POV. Noam was stupid. Especially, when he was running out of the building after killing that guy, but then ran back in? Who does that?
Me: lol!! I agree, Noam made some questionable choices but I think that’s why I liked him, he was a kid who grew up as part of a protest/rights group so even though he was born in a not so good part of town he was actually quite sheltered and I enjoyed Lee showing the differences between him and the others of his ‘class’ they may have come from money but at least a couple of them have some huge family issues. I could see why you wanted Dara’s Pov.

Neda: I liked the way she handled class, or at least nothing bad about it stuck out enough for me to complain. I will say tho, all the non-Atlantians did look pretty naive compared to Noam as far as the reality of the dystopian world goes.

Me: Fair enough on that I think she could have spent more time giving us world building we got snippets but not enough to really grasp what was going on, like when they went out to help in the camp, that was great, I wanted more of that

Neda: Agreed. More world building probably would have fixed my second problem: Noam’s mission never seemed urgent. I mean, he had a good reason to want to take the government down, but really they didn’t seem that awful? I don’t know. I wasn’t sure whose side to be on because Noam was questionable at best, and the government was just there.

Me: Hmm I guess I found what the govt was doing to be repulsive enough, and I was conflicted on how to feel about Noam being willing to kill someone for it though Should have done more with showing what the govt is doing. Otherwise, it’s like an invisible enemy lol

Neda: I am pretty sure Noam was influenced to kill that guy.

I agree Lee should have done more with the government. Like those between chapter, scenes should have had more to do with the world before the current world.

How did they get there?
How many died?
How long did the whole process take?

Who was patient zero?
Me: I hope she dives into all this more in book 2, and I think he was 2 but it’s like partly genius and partly infuriating that you’re not 100% sure, and I don’t think Noam is sure either And I really want to know more about the world before like you were saying.

Neda: More world building would have made the book probably 4 stars. And she had a genuine way to cram all that information in without taking up chapter space. So much disappointment…..I never felt 100% sure about anything or anyone. It’s so frustrating. I can see the appeal of grey areas because nothing is ever black and white. But this is a fictional story, especially teen fiction, I should know who’s good and who’s evil.

Me: Ah okay, I see where you’re coming from. I’m a huge believer in morally grey YA books, because the worlds are fiction but people are greyer in real life than in books, sometimes it’s nice having clear boundaries but I think it’s important to show that it’s not always easy to tell, because some teens can be susceptible of trusting people who are friendly, and if they can realize that those are not always the good ones, to keep up their guard, I think that’s useful.

Neda: Also, Noam bonded with the leader dude (more forgetting names) over their shared Jewish heritage. What is this, Batman v. Superman? That’s lazy writing. But more to your point: People who do bad things can have good intentions (See Thanos in the MCU as a prime example), and people who do good things can have bad intentions (see most characters in GoT, especially dragon lady). That’s a grey area that makes you think. If Lee had gone all the way with the character building, then, I think, she would have created something fun. But it’s just confusing.

Me: Hmm I guess I am seeing it as the first step, so I may feel more like you after book 2 if things aren’t looked into more!

Neda: Probably. I’ll read the second one because Dara, but I don’t have high expectations.

Me: fair enough man, fair enough

Neda: I think that’s everything I have to complain about.

So, we both still have not changed how much we enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the book but we did both realize the other had good points. I would say overall this was a very successful first Comparing Notes, the next one will be announced later on, but I’m really excited about it. Sometimes it’ll be a side by side comparison of reviews, sometimes we’ll be lamenting together on points we both didn’t like (or the opposite, cheering for what we did) and other times it’ll just be a chill discussion like this!

Supporting Authors & Supporting ‘Us’

This post I guess is more of just a discussion post, but I’d like to add that on any of my posts whether I say so or not, I want you to drop your opinions like they’re hot. Because I trust you all can be civil and I trust I can be civil so even if we disagree…it’s all gonna work out in the end…it’s when people endorse hurtful shit and say unnecessarily mean things that cause things to go out of hand.

And I’m not here to really say anything controversial today.

What I am here to say today is that the main reason I wanted to book blog is not just a love of books but it’s wanting to share that love, to share books that whether old or new are just amazing, and I think, deserve to be read by anyone and everyone who would be interested.

Most of us support authors in one way or another, whether we blog reviews of their works, tweet about their books, do preorders, giveaways, Instagram pics, Facebook posts, or just buy the book and leave a review on GoodReads/Amazon, or check it out from the library. When we do these things we are supporting these writers and that’s amazing.

It’s time-consuming.

It’s really time-consuming.

And it’s done out of love.

Sometimes we encounter books we don’t like, that’s life, and we are entitled our opinions, sometimes we don’t like them and it’s simply because it’s not to our own tastes, other times we don’t like them because they may actually be problematic in their content.

But that doesn’t mean we get to be silenced. And that doesn’t mean that because we have made ourselves approachable that we’re at everyone’s beck and call.

[And please remember this goes both ways, I love authors, I tag them in POSITIVE Reviews and in bookish content that includes them but I don’t expect them to respond, because they’re busy people with lives, I also don’t expect free books because I review things, and most of us do not have that expectation.]

As many others have stated, this is something we do on our own, and we also don’t do it for people to dig around the net for information on us..or you know…analyze our reviews. *stares* You know who you are.

It’s also not something to joke about.

In this day and age, we are constantly engaged with one another and there is constantly a trail of what we’ve done, it’s the internet, nothing ever truly disappears. You would think this would make people more conscientious about what they say but it seems the opposite has happened.

It’s now okay to email and insult someone who didn’t like your book, it’s okay to call them out because you think they’re the only ones who didn’t like your book. It’s alright to email saying ‘hey you, I didn’t bother to read your name or review policy but you should read my book even though it is not even listed as a genre you’ll consider reading.’ And somehow no one is supposed to call anyone out on this.

Do you know what? I’m not always offended when someone doesn’t address me by my name/blog name when they email, I don’t have an extensive review policy and so I’m very easy going, but I know others have very well laid out and in-depth review policies and for some reason no one bothers looking at them when they submit requests.

We join street teams, we share all the tweets about our fave books and authors and we are judged by numbers and engagement, we put in enough hours that if one added it all up, it wouldn’t be worth the occasional free book, and yet we have to deal with authors who get in our faces, respond to our unfavourable reviews and try to correct our opinions or talk about us like we’re not real people.

[Once more, this definitely goes both ways, such as people who tag writers in negative reviews, that’s a no-no, it’s not nice, and we wouldn’t like it if it happened to us.]

Maybe it’s easy to forget that someone is actually typing away at the keyboard behind Twitter, or on our blogs. But we are real people, we don’t want to be harassed or stalked online.

I will always support authors and writers, I will never stop, but I see others who get flack in our bookish community, and it’s hard to not get a bit ticked off.

So I’m here to say, I will always support authors.

But I will never support harassing/calling out/cyberstalking a book reviewer for simply stating not to like the book.

It would be very boring if we all liked and hated the same books, seriously, so boring. So, let’s be supportive of authors but authors…

Please, please be supportive of us. Stand up for us when someone else does this, remind them that the work we do is unpaid and can be very beneficial to authors.

Let’s all get along, let’s stand up together against prejudices, racism/sexism, and let’s not put each other down for having varied tastes.

Shoot me your thoughts, what have been your experiences? It doesn’t matter, author, book reviewer, bookstagrammer, drop your comments below