mini book reviews {#1}

As promised.  Maybe a little late, but still…two posts in almost two days is pretty good for me, I think. 🙂

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~Wonder by R.J. Palacio – I re-read this one is prep for the movie and I’ve gotta say…Wonder is one amazing book.  I read it in a day.  And I’m giving Owen Wilson a huge thumbs-up as Nate Pullman.  He’s pretty much perfectly cast.

~The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – Sir Percy’s adventures never, ever, EVER get old.  I love everything about these books and most of the characters.

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~The Siren by Kiera Cass – Not sure if I like this better than the Selection series, but it’s different and swoonable and so atmospheric.  I’d probably read it again.

~The Divergent series by Veronica Roth – First book: LOVE.  Second book: Slightly boring and Four is more than a little out of character in the beginning.  Third book: What. Even.  Four: All the heart emoticons, Four-style (<4).

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~Just Deserts by Eric Walters – According to my brother, almost every Eric Walters book is a copy of the last, but this one breaks the mold.  Genuinely moved me in a few places, and y’all know that I’m attracted to stories of huge jerks who become awesome human beings through a series of unfortunate events (#lightningmcqueenFORTHEWIN).

~Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman – Interesting, but ultimately a depressing look at how people cope (or don’t) with the trials of life when they don’t know Christ. *shudder*

~Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín – Movie was wayyyyyy better.

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What have you been reading lately?

Eva

five books that remind me of summer

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Summer is no school and a billion hours of free time and wood-smoke and freshly cut grass and reading outside (curled up in a hammock, if you’re lucky) and all that awesome stuff.  Mostly the reading, though, if you’re a bookaholic like me.  Anyway, these are a few books that remind me of summer in some way and are therefore perfect for summer reading.

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Audrey Hepburn, "Funny Face":

~Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – You’ve now got the time to read this, right?  GWTW is a delicious read and the pages fly by quickly because Margaret Mitchell was a fabulously cinematic author.  Plus, there’s all the bragging rights that go with finishing this one.

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~The Outsiders by S.E. HintonI believe this book takes place in autumn…?  Maybe.  But it still makes me think of summer (maybe the movie’s to blame for that, ’cause all I can think of is Johnny and Ponyboy hiking through farmland and it looks so hot out there).  But I adore this book any season.

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~To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Right from the start, you know that a whole lot of this book is going to take place during summertime.  It’s just the facts.  I mean, right on the first page Jem says that everything started the summer Dill came.  Then, too, the atmosphere of oppressive heat permeates this book, no doubt about it.

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~Shane by Jack Schaefer – I remember reading this last year, all in one sitting (I think), curled up on a chair with golden sunlight spilling everywhere. #goodtimes

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~Holes by Louis Sachar – This one is pretty self-explanatory, in my opinion.  The desert is blazing hot and all the kids are at what’s kiiiiind of like summer camp (though in the very loosest sense of the word), so, yeah, it’s pretty summery.  Just not in that sit-back-and-drink-a-glass-of-lemonade-and-relax-in-the-shade way.

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Interestingly enough, all five of these books have excellent film adaptions and I think that partially contributes to my visual impression of each story.  Just a thought.  If y’all are interested, I might do a ‘five movies that remind me of summer post’.  Let me know in the comments!  And I’d also love to know what books remind you of summer.

 

Eva

book lover tag

Kate over at Once Upon An Ordinary tagged me in this tag when she said “I happen to know you are a fellow book-lover (why else would you be reading this?), so I would love to see your answers to these questions!”.  So here are the questions and my answers. (I feel like I talk about movies more than books on this blog, even though I love books better.  Must rectify that.)

~Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.

Well, I wouldn’t say I’m embarrassed about this, but I haven’t read Jane Austen’s Sandition yet, even though I’m an ardent Austenite.

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~What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?

No idea.  Most of the time, I either use a bookmark or try to remember whatever page number I was on. (Which rarely works.)

~Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?

The first totally yellow one (besides the title, of course) was Shane by Jack Schaefer. *heart-eyed emoji*

~If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?

Jane Austen.  Duh.

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~Name an author who deserves more readership.

JACK CAVANAUGH.  Seriously, people.  Though my obsession with his books has cooled slightly (he’s no longer my favoritest author ever) he is still a genius in the world of Christian fiction.  And historical fiction in general, for that matter.  If you want to know where to start, I suggest The Victors.  It’s part of a series, but you can easily read it and not be confused in the least.  He’s a great author and his Songs in the Night series has impacted my life probably more than any other.

~Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Bookmark.  Sometimes a library receipt, but usually a real bookmark.

~Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?

If I absolutely have to, I can stop anywhere, but it’s so much more comfortable to finish the chapter.

~One book at a time or several?

I used to be a ‘one book at a time’ girl, but not so much anymore.  For instance, recently I’ve been reading a book for school, a Christian historical romance, and a Suzanne Collins book, all pretty much at once.  But if I come across an epic book, chances are I’ll ignore all the others until I’m done that one.

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~Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I don’t read ahead and the only reasons I have for skipping pages are: 1) an inappropriate scene or 2) I’ve read the book before and I know of a particularly boring part that I don’t want to re-read.

~Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

If it’s a paperback (especially a cheap one), I’ll probably end up breaking the spine.  It doesn’t really stress me out to see cracked spines (unless pages are falling out, or something) ’cause it’s usually the sign of a well-loved favorite.

~What book do you regret reading?

The Fault in our Stars by John Green.  Just no.

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~On average, how many books do you read per year?

2014: 268 books read.  2o15: 167 books read.  2016: 107 books read.  2017: 58 books read (so far).  So I have no idea.

~What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?

Emma by Jane Austen, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and anything by Suzanne Collins.

~What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?

Unless we’re talking about the Bible (in which case, there are probably dozens of lessons) it’s hard for me to say.  I really don’t know.

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~What is the most recent book you’ve read?

Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins.  An awesome conclusion to an awesome series.  For a week or two each year, I live in the world of the Underland – if you’ve never read the series, you need to because it’s an incredible experience.  Just don’t ever make a bad movie out of it, Hollywood.  Please.

~What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?

Major spoilers for Gregor and the Marks of Secret.  Y’all have been warned.

[Hazard’s almost-bond, Thalia, has died.  Howard tells him of his own bat, Pandora, who was killed earlier.]

“You’re not crying about her now,” said Hazard.
“No,” said Howard.  “I have become used to carrying her in my heart.”

“My heart is crowded already,” whispered Hazard.  “But I’m sure the other will make room for Thalia.  She is not a very big bat.”  And with that, he drifted off to sleep.

Don’t worry about me.  It’s just FEELS.  It’s stuck with me for so long, too, that quote.

~How many books do you own?

No idea.  Probably over two hundred, though, counting what I’ve got on my Kindle as well.

~In the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?

I’m not sure exactly what year this question refers to.  In 2016, it was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  This year, so far, it’s Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray even though I hated the ending.

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So, those are my answers.  If you love books and want to participate, please do!

Eva

tag – I’m it!

What a lovely bookish tag!  Kara at Flowers of Quiet Happiness tagged everyone, so I’m joining in the fun.

Rules

You must be honest.
You must answer all the questions.
You must tag at least 4 people.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Probably the five Jack Cavanaugh books that my grandpa gave me several years ago. (The Songs in the Night series, Glimpses of Truth, and Beyond the Sacred Page.)  Those seem to have been a part of my book collection for forever.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

Currently, I’m reading The Alpine Path by L.M. Montgomery.  It’s a fascinating look at her life.  The last book I read was Rilla of Ingleside, as a finale to reading through the entire Anne series (besides The Blythes Are Quoted).  And I have no idea what book I’ll tackle next – whatever suits my fancy, I guess. (I’m also working through my college reading list, but that doesn’t really count for this tag, in my opinion.)

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3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

There’s been several YA books I haven’t enjoyed as much as other people have.  I hate Matched and really don’t ‘get’ The Fault in our Stars.  Oh, and I don’t like Daddy Long Legs, though everyone else seems to think it’s the greatest thing since Little Women.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

I’ve got a ginormous edition of David Copperfield on my shelf that I keep moving around whenever I organize my books, but I’ll probably never get to it.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

READ ALL THE BOOKS.  RIGHT NOW.

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6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Wait ’til the end.  I have a feeling that I’ve skipped to the end one or two times, but I don’t remember specifics.  Mayyyyybe an Alistair MacLean book because those get so tense that I can hardly stand it sometimes.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

I might skim through the acknowledgements if there aren’t too many of them, but otherwise…nah.  I do read prefaces, prologues, introductions, and author’s notes, though.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Rilla Blythe.  So, so quickly.  And pretty much any Jane Austen heroine.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

Um…I can’t think of anything right now.  Might think of a thrift store where I purchased a certain book or how I first found such-and-such a book at the library.  Or if someone gave/recommended a book to me, I might think of them, but nothing really specific that I can think of right now.

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10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It.  I won that in a giveaway and it’s so rare that I win giveaways.  If I remember correctly, there was a huuuuge blog party thing for its release and I entered a bunch of giveaways for the book and ended up winning one.  It’s a lovely book, too, which is a nice plus.

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

My books are My Books and I love all of them dearly (whether I’ve read them or not), so I don’t give them away at the drop of a hat.  I did have a darling, tiny, leather-bound copy of Hamlet that I sent to Hamlette because I hadn’t read the play (yet) and didn’t have the kind of connection to it that she did/does.

12. Which book has been with you most places?

My Bible.  Not an ordinary book, I know, but still.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Nope.  I mean, I didn’t like Silas Marner all that much, but I didn’t hate it.  I even grew to love epic poetry because of school (college work, that is) – stuff like the Iliad and Beowulf and Paradise Lost.

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14. Used or brand new?

Used.  Fits perfectly with my budget and there’s just so much more with a used book than there is with something brand new. (Though if I get a book from a library and love it, I do like getting a fresh, shiny copy.  Like While We’re Far Apart or Violins of Autumn.)

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Nope.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Little Dorrit (2008), Anne of Green Gables (1985), and Anne of Avonlea (1987).

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Books don’t make me hungry, but The Candymakers has some mouth-watering descriptions of candy, chocolate, and other foods.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Hamlette.  Whether she recommends a book to me specifically or writes a glowing review on her blog, I keep an eye out for it.  I’ve discovered several gems through her recommendations, like Shane, The Blue Castle, and Where Eagles DareNaomi and Jessica (Prescott) also give great recommendations – Echo, Eve’s Daughters, Gone With the Wind, To Tame a Land

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19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

The Outsiders was definitely not the kind of book I usually read, but I adore it now (as y’all probably know).  Holes was another odd-ish one, but I enjoyed it, too.  And I recently discovered a great love and admiration for the Tintin books, which are really graphic novels, which are not something I usually enjoy.  There was also Ender’s Game – sci-fi used to be So Not My Thing (I think; it was so long ago I don’t quite remember), but I think it’s awesome now.

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I hereby tag…

Naomi – Wonderland Creek

Ashley – inklings press

Maribeth – Trekking Through Hobbit Holes

DKoren – Sidewalk Crossings

Have fun! (And don’t feel pressured to participate if you don’t want to.  This is strictly voluntary.)

Eva

january, february, march 2017: what I’ve been reading & watching

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Ya’ll know how this works, right?  Basically, I just list/discuss noteworthy books and movies that I’ve read and watched in the past three months.  It’s lots of fun (for me, at least) and a good way to keep track of my reactions to the different stories and films I’ve enjoyed recently.  And I want to hear what you’ve been reading and watching, too!  Drop a comment and let me know, if you have the time, ‘kay?

So far this year, I’ve read thirty-eight books and watched fifty-two movies (not counting re-watches).  Here are just a few from both lists.

Books:

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond – I enjoy checking out new books from the library, ones I’ve never heard of before (usually from the YA section) and this one was a winner.  Set during WWII and centered around a fictitious (though historically-inspired) OSS branch, The Darkest Hour has enough thrilling plot twists to rival an Alistair MacLean book.  I just wish it had had a bit of romance to balance all the nail-biting danger and espionage.

Redwall by Brian Jacques – I’ve heard good things about this series for years, but I only recently picked up the first book. (I’d tried reading another one or two before, but they hadn’t really gripped me.)  This is the kind of story that starts slow and finishes strong – I ended up reading it in huge swaths, completely immersing myself in the world of Redwall Abbey.

The Visitation by Frank Peretti – Peretti’s adult novels aren’t always my cup of tea, but The Visitation was pretty great.  Travis was awesome, the story was spellbinding, and…yeah, it all worked together very well.  At first I didn’t like how the POVs switched back and forth from first person to third person, but I got used to it.

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The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – Non-fiction for the win!  I know that Pureflix is making this into a movie, but I enjoyed The Case for Christ for itself.  The evidence for Jesus’ bodily resurrection was clearly presented, in an entertaining way, and that was only one of the issues Strobel tackled.  A thoroughly fascinating book that I would highly recommend to anyone.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (books 1-9) by Lemony Snicket – This series has been a part of my family’s history for years now, but I could never get past the first few pages of any of the books, for whatever reason.  But when I finally took the plunge, determining to get through the first book at least, I found myself drawn to the characters and pulled in by the books themselves.  I love the Baudelaires, the Quagmires, and Uncle Monty.  And, yes, even though I had no idea I would, I have teared up over certain parts of the series, simply because it’s so SAD sometimes.

Fear is the Key by Alistair MacLean – The plotting skills of this man.  Are incredible.  The story had me flipping pages quicker than I have in a while over any book.  It’s just…wowowowowow.  The characters were good, too, so that’s a nice bonus. (They didn’t get lost in the plot, I guess is what I’m trying to say.)

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Holes by Louis Sacher – Holes is a good story, well told.  I love the old West, so that part of the book was neat, and Zero is my baby, and Stanley is pretty awesome as well.  The setting is unique and, admittedly, it took me a while to settle down and accept the fact that the storyworld is kinda like ours, but kinda not, too. (It weirded me out at first when I watched the movie.  And I watched the movie before reading the book.)  Overall, I’d call this a satisfying book, ’cause that’s exactly what it is.

Movies:

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) – I’ve heard about this movie for what almost feels like forever, and I finally got it from the library (we now own it on DVD, too) and, yep, it’s hilarious.  Really hilarious.  Even though John Goodman has creeped me out ever since I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, it was still fun hearing ‘Sully’ voicing Pancha.  It’s not Disney’s best, but it’s an entertaining ride.

I’m Not Ashamed (2016) – One of the only movies that actually lived up to the high expectations I had after watching the trailer.  Inspiring, emotional, and even exhilarating in parts, I’m Not Ashamed is my current favorite Christian movie.  I was really looking forward to seeing Ben Davies in this and he did not disappoint.  And Masey McLain was gold, pure gold as Rachel.

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Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Read my first thoughts here. (They’ve only intensified with the re-watches, by the way.)

Risen (2016) – Best part of Risen?  The main character, Clavius.  I’d watch it again just for him.  It’s an interesting film, for the most part, and while there are a few issues with how they handled the Biblical account of events (as there invariably is in Hollywood movies), Jesus’ resurrection and subsequent appearances were handled with respect.  It’s a good film, the tone of which reminds me quite a lot of Ben-Hur (the Charlton Heston version).

Room for One More (1952) – Let me just say that if continue watching more serious Cary Grant movies (the other one I’ve seen so far being People Will Talk – 1951) I might have to revise my earlier, unfavorable opinion of him.  I dunno, there’s just something about guys who normally play comedic roles suddenly doing serious ones that gets me right in the heart. (That probably sounds weird, but I hope you can understand at least a little of what I mean.)  Room for One More does have its moments of humor, but it’s quite a serious film, too, and I’d recommend it to just about anyone.

101 Dalmatians (1961) – Another Disney classic that I only recently caught up to!  I tell myself I don’t like dogs, but I adored this film and Lady and the Tramp, soooo…I don’t know what to make of all that.  It’s a charming story with lovely dogs and human characters alike.  So sweet.

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How many of these books have you read?  How many of these films have you watched?  And what’ve you been reading and watching lately?  Can’t wait to hear what all you have to say. 🙂

Eva

book review: the lost girl of astor street

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Lydia has vanished.

Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.

Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.

When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend.

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First of all, take a look at that cover.  Drink it in.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Well, let me tell you that the story inside fully measures up to the glamour and elegance and intrigue that the cover promises.  Just so ya’ll know before I go any further into this review, I was given an advance copy of The Lost Girl of Astor Street in exchange for my honest review.  I didn’t know much about the story before I started reading, just that the cover was pretty and it was historical YA fiction and I kinda sorta knew the author from the writing blog that she co-runs.  Oh, and A FREE BOOK.  Always exciting, right?

Anyway, I started reading and got sucked in pretty quickly.  And it ended up surprising me.  For one thing, since The Lost Girl of Astor Street is a YA novel, I expected there’d be a love triangle (especially since there’s at least three available guys that Piper could’ve become involved with) and I determined I’d slog through it and focus on the other aspects of the story, but there wasn’t a love triangle at all.  Huzzah!  What I got instead was an adorable, swoony romance that complimented the mystery side of the story without overpowering it. (I like my romantic subplots to be sweet and to the point.)

I quite liked all the characters.  Piper, of course, was determined and stubborn and actually quite inspiring since she’s the same age as me and doing so much with her life.  I did think she cried a little too much, even considering the extreme circumstances swirling around her, but that could just be me.  Lydia was a dear, as were Walter and Emma and Matthew.  Mariano was the BEST, in my opinion.  I even liked Nick.  It was so fun to read a solid, interesting novel with immensely likable characters who were easy to fall in love with.

The setting of The Lost Girl of Astor Street was beautifully drawn, both the place and the time period.  It’s always satisfying to start reading a historical novel and realize that the author has researched everything so well, and that’s what this book did for me.  1920’s Chicago was a fascinating place to ‘live in’ for several hours and as I read this on my Kindle, I kept checking to see how much I had left, not because I was bored, but because I didn’t want the story to end.  Oh, and I enjoyed the Italian mafia angle to the story – I’ve always been fascinated by The Mob for some reason, so that was cool.

Overall, The Lost Girl of Astor Street was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I’d recommend to fans of Downton Abbey and period dramas in general (books, movies, and TV shows).

Eva

the lost girl of astor street clue hunt: clue #11

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of reading an advance e-copy of The Lost Girl of Astor Street and I loved it just as much as I’m sure you guys will.  My review will be posted tomorrow, but for now, let me just say that this book is a sparkling mystery filled with memorable characters and has a plot that twists and turns at every step.  Perfect for mystery lovers or people who can’t get enough of period dramas like Downton Abbey.

Anyway.  The real purpose of this post is not to talk up The Lost Girl of Astor Street (that’ll be tomorrow, like I said) but to provide you with the next clue on your clue hunt – the eleventh one, in fact.  If you have no idea what this is all about, just go to the author’s blog (she’s the first stop on the hunt) and you can find out.

And the clue is…

TO

Here’s the full roster of all the blogs that are participating in the clue hunt so you can easily go around and collect each one.

Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White

Have fun!

Eva