To listen or not to listen

Before diving in to this post that has been on my mind for FOREVER I just wanted to apologize for being so absent lately! End of the school year stress + regular life stress + being gone for a bit in California (WHOO!) caused me to read less and blog less. I am so ready to jump back on here though and get this whole schedule thing down (one day…).

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Lately I have really taken to audiobooks. I have about a half hour drive to work each day, which adds up to at least an hour a day in the car. Though I love my music and love singing along in my car I just wasn’t feeling it for a bit. I gave podcasts a try and felt pretty “meh” towards them. I started to feel like I couldn’t fully unwind after a day of work and relax to them.

And then one day I decided to go on Overdrive. And…THEY HAD A BOOK I WANTED TO LISTEN TO!

I was shocked. Typically it takes me forever to find something because I can be so picky, but there it was. I instantly downloaded it, and found myself relaxing and enjoying my drive again.

Audiobooks can be tricky. There are so many amazing things about them, but also so many possibilities of them not working out for you. Some pros and cons that I have noticed….

Audiobook Pros:

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  • You can listen to a book no matter what you are doing! Driving, working out, cleaning the house…super easy to continue to make progress on a book while being productive.
  • It can make your workouts seems like a breeze. Seriously, my workouts felt like way less work because of the audiobook I was listening to.
  • It helps you tackle those reading goals. Looking at you Goodreads. I am super far ahead on my goal this year and it’s because of my combination of physical books and audiobooks.
  • Some books are just meant to be listened to. I have found that I maybe was ok reading the book, but the addition of a narrator just adds so much more. If you want to listen to a book that fits this you should definitely listen to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Audiobook Cons:

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  • If you don’t pay for an audible subscription (because some of us can’t afford it) then sometime it’s difficult to get what you want.
  • LOOOOONNNG waiting periods on Overdrive. I swear I have been on the waitlist for one particular audiobook for months and there was only 1 person ahead of me.
  • Narrators can make or break a book. Obviously some narrators are fantastic, but there are also those that have voices that just kind of lull me to sleep or make me uninterested in the topic.
  • Some books were meant to be read. I truly think that some books need to be read by the reader and not listened to.

As of right now I am riding that audiobook high. I have been able to reread books and get lost in new worlds, all while driving my car. I also have found that nonfiction really clicks with me more when I can listen to someone reading it instead of reading it myself. Will this high last? Oh I hope so. But with summer coming I will have more time to read physical books, so I can keep my book count for the year going strong.

QUESTION: What are your feelings on audiobooks?

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reads!

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Can you believe it!? We are finally looking towards the BEST. SEASON. EVER! That’s right…it’s nearly SUMMER! Obviously some people are not huge fans, and I realize that it can get incredibly hot and you just want to sit in a cold pool and be done with it, but you have to admit…it is the best time to pick up a book. This week for Top Ten Tuesday we are giving you some of our PERSONAL recommendations for summer reading. These are books you could take anywhere with you to dive into, the ones that just scream carefree summer days. They may also be the kickoff to a series that you should just binge over the next 3 months. Everyone interprets summer reading a bit differently, but here are some of our recommendations for some summer book fun for you!

Emily

Scarlet by AC Gaughen | I’ll Meet You There by Heather DemetriosGeekerella by Ashley PostonThe Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons |The Black Mage book 1: First Year by Rachel E Carter | The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehMy Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia HandVengeance Road by Erin BowmanThe Princess Bride by William Goldman | Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Arika

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | The Martian by Andy Weir | Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor | The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald | Cinder by Marissa Meyer | Legend by Marie Lu | With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene B. Sledge | A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

QUESTION: What books would you recommend for some summer reading?

Let’s Talk About…Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

32713479Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, the Bertram’s son Oliver. If she could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.
When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door to the Bertram’s, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.
But Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart—and keep her own—she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight

Add this to your Goodreads | About the Author | Buy this book

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Reaction upon finishing:

WOW! This book was excellent. Can we just take a moment to be impressed with how contemporaries are KILLING IT with me this year. I typically am hit or miss, but I think this year I have read about as much contemporary as fantasy and have very similar success rates. This particular book was everything. It was cute, without being too cutesy. It was real, without being too real. It was gut wrenching, but not all the time. It was a little bit of everything rolled into one. I ate this book up in just a few short sittings because I simply couldn’t get enough. I was completely lost in the world of Finley and Oliver and the things they navigated each and every day. From the absurd to the 100% real, I was all in all the time. What was it that I liked in particular, you may ask?

  • Jane Austen retelling! Ok, I know that Mansfield Park isn’t everyone’s favorite. I mean, I tried to read it a few times and just couldn’t do it. It was one that I felt like I wasn’t in the mood for and would come back to later. Kate Watson takes that story and puts her own twist on it, making it enjoyable and memorable without taking away some of the things we love about Austen (because the SWOONS GUYS! THE SWOONS!). I really felt like this retelling did it justice and I even think I like it more than Mansfield Park. But I also wonder if I should give it a try once again.
  • Finley was amazing! She became almost and entirely new person by the end of the book. When we meet Finley she is shy, timid, but so grateful to be where she is at. She works hard to make sure that no one questions how thankful she is for all that the Bertrams have done for her. She has big dreams, but she starts off being scared of them. As you read on you really get to know why she is this way and your heart breaks for her. For so long she has hid from her past, for so long she has suffered from some form of PTSD from it all. But something changes in her, or someone helps her change (OOOOOOOOHHHHH). She finds ways to grow and find herself. I don’t want to give too much away because it is too good, but I grew so incredibly fond of her. She became so much more than what I had anticipated.
  • The love triangle makes sense. I have to give you that warning. I know some people (ME) dislike love triangles. I am flashing back to the whole Bella/Edward/Jacob thing and how horrible that ended up being. I was skeptical about the love triangle at first, but it made sense. It became something that I, as a reader, got so wrapped up in. I fell for it all and I didn’t know who to choose. It was stressful, it was heartbreaking, it was heartwarming (yes, somehow it was both), and it kept me going. Because these boys…oh these boys…they were fantastic. They brought so many good things out in Finley and helped her get to some amazing realizations about her life and OH GOSH I NEED TO STOP NOW!
  • This book had some real life issues and messages that I could not stop thinking about. Ok, I have to admit that some of the plot seemed a bit unreal to me. But I don’t run in a crowd of well off people so I kind of wrote it off because to me…it’s not that easy to meet and befriend a celebrity. Despite that there were some things that tugged at me. First, there was the issue with PTSD and abuse. For so many people this is a real life situation and it hurt my heart. It made me want to reach out, to make the hurt go away, and to help in whatever way I can. If you are in any sort of abusive relationship PLEASE…please don’t hesitate to talk to someone and report it. You deserve so much better!  It also made me remember that even in the darkest of situations you can come out stronger. Finley is an excellent, fictional example of that. I am not at all saying that we have to go through these situations in life to grow, but I am saying that even at your weakest it is possible to come out stronger. I really loved seeing that in this book.

BONUS: Oliver (all the heart eyes), betrayal (so much shock), theater, pop culture references, a companion novel set to come out next year!

This book comes out on May 16th, 2017 and I definitely think you need to give it a shot. It has humor, romance, heartache, and an ending that will have you feeling all kinds of emotions. If you are a Jane Austen lover I think you will definitely appreciate Kate Watson’s take on a classic.

I am so glad that I was able to read this and I honestly can’t wait for it to be out in the world. Get your copy ASAP!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite classic?

emily

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things on Our Reading Wishlist

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Hey everyone, we are back for another Top Ten Tuesday and this week we are going to talk about Ten Things on Our Reading Wishlist. What does that exactly mean, well we are going to talk about what stuff we wish to see more of in books. Whether that means specific types of characters, time periods, problems that characters face, tropes….tons of different things. Really it describes what we want to read about and would love to see more of!

  • Great Banter: Whether it’s between friends or two characters you know will end up together, a book with great banter is always one I like to recommend to others. A little humor goes a long way and when I look forward to some good banter, I read the book that much faster.
  • A Quest: We would really like to see more books out there with a good quest. Like a Lord of the Rings type quest! While a lot of books out there have the characters going after something, or have some type of conflict, we want to see a book that they are journeying across countries to solve a problem. The adventure is always so much fun!
  • Medieval Time Period: While we know there are quite a few out there but this time period is always so much fun. The castles, the knights, the swordplay….there is are so many cool stories that come out of this time period. And some of our favorite retellings (ehem…Robin Hood) are set during this time period.
  • Best Friends: Having the main characters be best friends and not lovers/in a relationship. We do like a good romance but it’s nice to read about friends who are on an adventure together!
  • Humor: Books that actually make you laugh out loud! We love a good witty book that is like Princess Bride/Monty Python in book form.
  • Fairy-tales: We grew up in the Disney era of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Little Mermaid. So we love to read those stories that have to do with fairy-tales. If an author can pull of a new imagining of one of these stories…we will read it.
  • Historical Settings: We both love reading about history but we want something more than just a romance in a historical setting. Whether its set during one of the great world wars or even further back during kings and queens in the 13th and 14th century. It would be fun to read about people during that time and adventures they went on.
  • Kick-Ass Women: We love to see a women who shows everyone who is boss. Whether that be a women who can literally kick someones butt with sweet ninja skills or fighting moves or it could be a women who uses her brains to defeat an evil force.
  • Magic School: We know, we know….nothing will beat Harry Potter but there is always hope another good series will come forth. Harry Potter was just so good we just want something like it to curb our cravings for more HP.
  • Greek Gods/Goddess: We both really enjoyed Percy Jackson and all of the series that had to do with both Greek and Roman Mythology. What we want to see is another series and maybe more adult themed then the Percy Jackson series. It’s interesting to read stories and how the god’s interacted with mortals.

Question: What are some features on your reading wishlist that you want to see more of?

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Love

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

We are always told to not judge a book by it’s cover. Think about it…some of the books that have covers that we aren’t the biggest fans of turn out to be some of the best books that we have read. But…let’s be real…we totally judge books by their covers. That doesn’t mean that we skip out on books with not so pretty covers, but the ones with those gorgeous covers are books that we are drawn to almost instantly.

This week on Top Ten Tuesday we are all about the book covers. Here at Midwestern Book Nerd we are going to show you some of our FAVORITE covers. This doesn’t mean that we find any books lesser because of the covers, but these ones just stick out as some of our favorites.

Arika

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine | Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo | Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Red Rising by Pierce Brown | Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson | Splintered by A.G. Howard | Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard | Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | Winter by Marissa Meyer | Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Emily

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White | When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo |Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman | Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman | Iron Cast by Destiny Soria | Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco | All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite book covers?

Let’s Talk About…Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

violet-grenadeDOMINO: A runaway with blood on her hands.

CAIN: A silent boy about to explode.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina finds Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position at her girls’ home in secluded West Texas. With no alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval…and falling for Cain, the mysterious boy living in the basement.
But the madam has horrible secrets. So do the girls in the house. So does Cain. Escaping is harder than Domino expects, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the danger living inside Domino’s mind.
Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

Add this book to Goodreads | About the Author | Buy this book

*I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Initial reaction upon finishing:

This book was an intense ride that I could not put down. Once I finished I started to think about my expectations of this book, and I honestly can’t even remember what they were. I knew it sounded thriller-eque, and I knew it sounded like a book about someone wrestling their inner demons which are two things I was definitely wanting in a book. In the end what I got was so much more…it was a story about overcoming those obstacles in your past and finding your people. It’s about facing down those terrible moments and finding a way to rise above them. This book got dark and went to some places that I was not entirely prepared for…I was constantly turning pages and dying to know what was going to happen next.

So…what are some of the reasons that I really enjoyed this book?

  • It’s YA but borders adult so much. When reading books like this I honestly don’t understand what the line is. I get that the characters involved are young adults, but the situations are so adult. The situations get dark. There is murder and blood-thirst and the need for characters to release their darker selves. It’s a sad reminder that so many young people are exposed to things darker than we adults could ever imagine. I can imagine that this book will do well with a wide variety of readers.
  • Domino is a force to be reckoned with. When you meet her at the beginning of the book she is scared. She has so much in her past that she is constantly hiding, and she has Wilson. Throughout the book she really starts to come into her own. She sees the need to fight for what is right and for those that she is started to become attached to. And honestly, you have to give the girl credit once you do figure out her past. She has seen more than I have ever seen, done more dark and horrible things than I have ever done, and yet she seems to be doing ok. Obviously there’s issues and she clearly needs to see someone, but she is functioning as well as any person in her situation could ever ask for. And she grows. She starts to realize that it’s ok to be on her own, but it’s also ok to rely on someone you can trust. Her confidence skyrockets and becomes a character that I am really cheering for. She is a main character that I can get behind.
  • Cain and Poppet are perfection. First you have Cain, this quiet guy that you know has more to tell than what he is letting on. He comes across as this strong, tough guy that you don’t want to mess with, but in the end he is a big softie to those he cares for. He protects and takes care of the girls in the house, even when they belittle him. He is a man caught in the game of blaming yourself for something that isn’t entirely your own fault. He grows and matures a lot throughout this book and I really started to like him. Poppet is one I struggled with at first. I found her to be weak and unsure of herself, which she was. Once she is taken under Domino’s wings she grows. She also starts to really gain confidence in herself and eventually is capable of so much more than she had ever imagined. I think I could see a little bit of myself in her. I am unsure, cautious, and not always confident in my abilities. I get her, and I think that’s why it took so long to warm up to her. I am so glad that she grew on me.
  • This book was a page turner. I tend to be a bit of a slow reader unless I have nothing but hours of time to dedicate to reading. Even on those days I tend to kind of take my time getting through a book. I finished this book in just a couple of sittings. I was hooked at the beginning. The writing drew me in and I was intrigued to see where this was going and what would be happening with Domino. The further I got into the book the more I realized I couldn’t put it down. There were so many things happening with the plot, so many questions that I had, and I just found that I couldn’t stop. I only kind of predicted some things, but many of the plot twists caught me by surprise and I was floored by what had happened in so many of these character’s lives. It’s a dark, slightly mess up book that has you begging for more.

All in all, this book was a hard to put down ride that constantly had me guessing. I was shocked by how deeply I cared for the characters in the end (because how many times do you read thrillers that you find you don’t care at all for the characters. Looking at you Gone Girl). I wanted the best for them, ever step of the way, and I was heartbroken when things didn’t work out as planned. I am so glad that I was able to read this book, and I definitely think that you should give it chance. Who knows…this could be your thriller that you take to the beach.

This book comes out on May 2nd, 2017. Make sure to grab a copy for yourself!

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite thrillers (if you read thrillers)?

emily

Feature Friday: Spring Releases Round 4!

Happy last Friday of April! 

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Isn’t it crazy to think that the month is over in just a few short days!? April really flew by for us but we are so excited to get into May (because we have some trips planned) and to start getting reading for SUMMER!

Every Friday in April we have shared some spring releases that we are pretty excited for. We both had to flail over a HIGHLY anticipated read coming out next week, and then we both had some things to share on week 2 and week 3. So…what books are we telling you about for our final week?

Emily

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“The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…” uhm YES PLEASE! This book is advertised as a laugh out loud romantic comedy and that is definitely something I need in my life. An arranged marriage is always an interesting plot point, because how often do the characters put in this situation want it? That alone lends to the idea that this plot will be filled with swoony moments, hilarious instances, and is something that I will be hooked on quickly. I have heard so many good things from those that were able to read and review before release and it’s gotten to the point where I would like this book now please. This book comes out May 30th (SOOOOO FAR AWAY AND IT’S NOT OK! But I guess I can be paitent…).

Arika

into the water

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

“Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.” Trying to get away from YA a little bit, I decided to talk about a mystery that I am looking forward to. I just recently listened to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and I enjoyed the story that Paula Hawkins weaved. She has a very different style of writing then most mystery/thriller authors do. This new novel, which comes out May 2nd, is another who done it murder books. With what it sounds like as another multiple POV and interesting story line, I know this will be another book I will enjoy listening to on audio book.

QUESTION: What are some of your anticipated spring releases?

Stay tuned for a new theme for the month of May. Arika will be kicking it off next week (May 5th!) while Emily is off basking in the California sunshine!

Top Ten Tuesday: We won’t read that…

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Welcome back for another Top Ten Tuesday! This is definitely one of our favorite things to participate in and something we are constantly keeping up to date with. It’s so fun to list various things we like/dislike about books and what we are looking forward to. It’s also SUPER fun to talk to other book lovers, like yourself, about these things.

This week we are talking about things that we see (either in a synopsis, comparison, or while starting to read it) that instantly turn us off to a book. It could be something super small and stupid in the end, but sometimes that’s what ends it for us.

So, what are some things that make us not want to read a book?

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  • Comparisons to Twilight. We did our time with Twilight. We loved it for awhile, now we don’t. Any Twilight comparisons really have us looking the other way.
  • Love Triangles. Sometimes we stick these out. Sometimes they are well written and make sense. But normally it’s a hard pass.
  • When a series goes on for too long. Too many books in the world, not enough time.
  • Blatant racism. There’s a difference between showing us what the issues are (or were in the case of some historical fictions) and being outright racist.
  • When something is said to be the next Harry Potter. THERE IS ONLY ONE HARRY POTTER!
  • Books in a series just repeat the same and the characters don’t grow. We want to see some depth and see a character learn and grow as the series goes on.
  • The cliche hot boy…calling a guy hot and he has no other redeeming quality. We want to read about a guy who can do more than just look good.
  • Comparisons to The Hunger Games. We love dystopian type novels but the ones compared to the Hunger Games never really live up to expectations.

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QUESTION: What are some things that make you not want to read a book?

Feature Friday: Spring Releases Round 3!

Happy Friday Everyone!

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We are super pumped that it’s Friday. Not only because we get to share another spring release that we are super pumped for, but also because this week is over! Anyone else suffering from dealing with a craptastic week? Way to make it through! Enjoy your well deserved weekend!

eg0zd

Just a recap…for every Friday in April we are sharing a spring release that we are excited for. We decided that for it to be a spring release it needs to be released in April or May (just to help us narrow it down…obviously people define it differently). We have already talked about how excited we are for the next addition to a favorite series, and we talked about some awesome sounding retellings we are looking forward to last week. So what books do we have to get excited for this week?

Emily

 

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Within the last year I have become a BIG Emery Lord fan. Though I have only read two of her books so far, I know that she is my new go-to contemporary author. Her writing really sticks to me and gets me feeling all kinds of crazy emotions. Her stories have realness to them, and there always seem to be characters that I can relate to. This particular book of hers sounds like a book that will make me cry. Any story where cancer is part of the plot is bound to make me cry because of losing my dad. Isn’t it crazy how I am so drawn to books about grief, loss, and cancer even though it brings up some of the worst memories of my life? I am not sure what it is, and I can definitely get into that another time, but I am definitely excited for the feels this book will bring. As someone who is religious and really trying to deepen her faith, I am very curious as to how an author I have come to love so much tackles what can be such a difficult topic to write about. This book comes out May 16th and I am so excited to get my hands on it. I need more Emery Lord in my life.

Arika

royal bastards

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

So I have been having a hard time getting away from fantasy novels…and it’s books like this that are to blame! I’ve seen a few of my friends on Goodreads add it to their TBR. So I had to take a look and I was really intrigued. A book about royal bastards who are trying to save their kingdom while being pursued by people who want to kill them….sign me up please! I hope this book will live up to the hype that I am starting to build up for it. This book comes out on May 30th and I think it will have a spot on my e-book this summer.

QUESTION: What are some spring releases you are looking forward to? Also, if you have read any of the books that we have talked about you should DEFINITELY let us know your thoughts.

Top Ten Tuesday: Stories we will instantly need

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

We all know those stories…the ones we are instantly drawn to because of one element. The setting, character, or something particular about the plot just calls to us and we know that we need to read that book instantly. Yes, I know you are thinking of books that fall into this category as we speak and the different things that draw you to them. This week for Top Ten Tuesday we are listing some of those qualities that make us instantly drawn to a book.

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We will more than likely instantly need a book if…

  • it’s a fairy-tale retelling, or even loosely based on a fairytale.
  • the damsel in distress isn’t really in distress and she’s actually a badass.
  • the chosen one isn’t actually the chosen one but are still pretty important.
  • the book is bound to make the reader shed some tears.
  • the book deals with grief.
  • the heroine finds out she has magical abilities.
  • the heroine finds out she has a pretty stellar family situation (royalty) and she just can’t seem to remember.
  • it’s a book based on Jane Austen.
  • it’s a book based off of Robin Hood.
  • it’s recommended for fans of Harry Potter (this does not always go so well).
  • it’s promised to make us swoon.
  • it’s based on WWII era stories.
  • it’s a book loosely based off history.
  • it’s a book based in medieval times.

QUESTION: What are some things that will make you instantly pick up a book?