Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year in Review

In many ways, I am sad to see the year end.  It was such an amazing year of growth for Mouse--for any child her age really--but seeing her grow and discover and explore . . . Being a part of her life and having her in mine.  She brings me such joy.  And to have a wonderful and supportive husband by my side--I feel so blessed.  I am blessed.  I have a job I like and coworkers who make the hard days more bearable.  I have a mother who would drop everything and come flying in if I asked her to.  Life is good.

Then there is the side of the year I am glad to see go.  It was a very difficult year for me in some regards.  When the year began, I was in a very dark place and it continued like that for quite awhile.  I wasn't sure I would ever find my way out.  I was too stubborn for my own good, and it took me too long to ask for help, so sure I could manage just fine on my own.  I am fortunate to be in a better place now, and have learned much in the process. For that I am grateful.  Even the worst of experiences can teach us something, can't they?

Through it all, my blog suffered.  Blogging hasn't been high on my priority list.  My family, my work, and my own health taking precedent.  Yet I keep chugging along.  And I continue reading.  I am very pleased with my numbers this year--not that quantity is what matters most.  But for someone who wasn't sure she'd be able to read two books a month, well, it's a big deal.  I squeezed in 67 books this year, not including the number of children's books I read and reread, some I've come to love and others I wish I could hide from Mouse so I don't have to read them again.

I spent much of the year lost in comfort reads whether it be mysteries or urban fantasy.  I read mostly e-books (41 compared to 22 print books and 4 audiobooks), finding it a much more convenient way to read, whether in the dead of night so I wouldn't disturb Mouse, or just in terms of mobility and ease of use.   I learned how easy it is to purchase books on an e-reader--and how dangerous that can be to one's bank account!  In honor of my father, whom I lost in September of last year, I read a book I knew he would have loved, and I loved it too.  I took on fewer reading commitments this year and found I liked the slower pace.  I branched out into audiobooks and think I might actually make a habit of listening to them (somehow). I stepped outside my comfort zone, reading books I normally wouldn't gravitate towards.  I also returned to a few favorite authors.

I enjoyed answering Jamie's (The Perpetual Page TurnerEnd of the Year Survey last year and decided to join in again this year.  I did alter some of the questions, subtracting a couple and adding some of my own.


1. Best books you read in 2012?

In Audio: My absolute most favorite book this year was Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus.  It blew me away--it was so beautiful.  The narration by Jim Dale was the perfect touch to such an enchanting tale.

Fiction: My favorite book that I read in print this year was Sarah McCoy's The Baker's Daughter.  It was a book that appealed to my love for all things World War II and also touched me on a more personal note.

Young Adult: I was quite smitten with David Levithan's Every Day, whose characters stole my heart.

Crime Fiction:  It is a tie between Julia Heaberlin's Playing Dead and The Hollow Man by Oliver Harris.  Both were amazing reads: intense, thought provoking, and fun.

Speculative Fiction:  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  I really liked the flow of the novel and the world she created around her characters.

Nonfiction: Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Mission Rescue of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff.  I read this book in my father's memory because I knew it would be a book he would have like.  It was well researched and very readable.  I quite enjoyed it.


2. What books most disappointed you?

When my face to face book group chose to read Under the Skin by Michel Faber, I was excited.  I really liked the author's book, The Crimson Petal and the White.  Under the Skin, however, was much different.  While I knew that going in, I still had high hopes.  I barely finished the book.  It did make for a great discussion book, however.

I had hoped for more when I decided to read Sandra Hill's Deadly Angel books, Kiss of Pride and Kiss of Surrender.  At the same time, I knew I was taking a chance on them.  While I like urban fantasy and don't mind a good love story, I generally do not like books where the main story line is the love story.  I hoped it would be different with these books, but it only reinforced what I already know about my reading tastes.

The two books I liked the least this year were E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker.  If I'm honest though, I can't really say I was surprised.  I went into the books with low expectations.


3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

Karen Marie Moning's Darkfever.  It wasn't what I expected.  I loved it and cannot wait to read more by the author.


4. Books you recommended to people most in 2012?

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy, and Every Day by David Levithan.


5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I've only read the first book, Darkfever, in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, but if the rest of the series is anything like the first, I am sure I will love every single book in the series.

It was love at first page with both Louise Penny's and Deborah Crombie's mystery series. The two books I read from their different mystery series made quite an impression me.

Oh!  And  Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series.  I can't wait to read more in the series as well.

I was also quite taken with Amy Plum's series and am anxiously awaiting the third book in the series.  I'm still mad at the author for the ending in her second book.  Cliffhangers suck.


6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Absolute Must Reads:
Amy Plum
Susanna Kearsley
Lisa Lutz
Deborah Crombie
Oliver Harris
Karen Marie Moning
Louise Penny
Sarah McCoy
Erin Morgenstern
David Levithan
Julia Heaerlin
Terri Nolan

I also really liked and will be reading more by:
Sabrina Benulis
Tina Connolly
James Swain
Deborah Harkness
Susan Elia MacNeal
Charles Todd
Erika Chase
Liz Strange
Shawntelle Madison
Lisa O'Donnell
Terri Nolan 


7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.  I put off reading this book for quite awhile, and even then, decided to settle for the audio version thinking it might be the better format to use to get through it.  I went into the book expecting to hate it.  The subject matter alone being repulsive.  And while Humbert Humbert is everything I despise in a person, the book was . . . well, let's just say by the end, I was quite impressed with the book.


8. Most thrilling, unputdownable books in 2012?

It's a tie between Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin and David Levithan's Every Day.  I couldn't turn the pages fast enough in either book.


9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to re-read again?

Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus.  I listened to the audio version and now I must--MUST--read the book.


10. Most memorable characters in 2012?

Several stand out for me, including A from David Levithan's Every Day.

There was also Maggie Hope from Susan Elia MacNeal's mysteries set during World War II.  I had such fun reading about her adventures.  She is a woman ahead of her time.

And I really liked Natalya Stravinsky from Shawntelle Madison's series.  She isn't your typical urban fantasy hero and that's one of the things I loved most about her.

Oh, and who can forget Junior from Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian?  He was such a great character.  I still find myself wondering what he's up to now.


11. Most beautifully written book read to in 2012?

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was my favorite by far, but if I had to name a book I read in print, I would say Susanna Kearsley's Shadowy Horses.


12.  Book that made you laugh out loud in 2012?

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.  Oh my goodness, how I laughed and laughed as I read this book!


13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

You might think I would select one of the nonfiction books I read this year.  They were all good in their own way, the books relating to motherhood and the like.  But no, the book that had the greatest impact on me in 2012 was The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy.  I enjoyed the book for many reasons: from the characters, to the historical aspects, to the story itself.  I had this to say about the book, particularly about the character Reba:
In some ways, as I read, I felt like Sarah McCoy had gotten into my head and was holding up a mirror to me--See?" She was saying, "I know you.  I understand."  I couldn't have chosen a more perfect time to read this book as I am coming to terms with my own past and the loss of my father.  

14. Books you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

I think it is fair to say it wasn't so much the books that had me wondering what made me wait so long to read, but rather the authors.  Why did it take me so long to read a mystery by Deborah Crombie or Louise Penny?   And  Charles Todd?  I'm still scratching my head over those.  Now to go back and read their back lists.

I also am wondering what took me so long to try Lisa Lutz's series.  I adored The Spellman Files.  Another series I want to catch up with!


15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2012?

Both of my favorite passages/quotes come from Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus:
Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that... there are many kinds of magic, after all. 
and 
Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. 

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2012?

Does a book of comic strips count?  If so, the shortest book I read this year was The New Yorker Magazine Book of Mom Cartoons coming in at 112 pages. 

The longest book I read this year was  The Stand by Stephen King.  I read the uncut version, which was 1472 pages long.


17. Best short story you read in 2012?


"I Heard a Romantic Story" by Lee Child was perhaps my most favorite short story this year.  It was heartbreaking, about a sniper about to take out his latest target.  I also really liked Alexandra Sokoloff's "In Atlantis"  which was much more lighthearted and fun.  The story is a romantic mystery about a woman who re-imagines her life while on vacation where she meets a man she is sure is a jewel thief.


18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2012?

Cecelia and Marco's relationship in Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for one.  I liked how subtly the two came together and the way their relationship evolved.  They were the couple I was most rooting for.

In The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell, the relationship between sisters Nelly and Marnie and their neighbor Lennie is especially memorable.  Thrown together under complicated and difficult circumstances, the three form an unlikely bond that really touched by heart. (My review is coming later in the week.)

I was also quite taken with the relationship between David and Jamie in Liz Strange's Missing Daughter, Shattered Family and A Fresh Set of Eyes.  They had their share of problems, but the two make a great team, and I appreciated realistic they were as individual characters and as a couple.

19. Favorite book you read in 2012 from an author you read previously?

 The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli.  I expected no less.


20. Best book you read that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from someone else?

Every Day by David Levithan was recommended by my friend Nicole.  I bought it immediately after she said I had to read it.  It was as awesome as she said it was.  Somehow I had missed all the buzz about this book going around the blogosphere before that.  I am not sure how that happened.


Looking Ahead

I am looking forward to seeing what 2013 will bring, both in life and in reading.  Other than a couple of read-alongs and one challenge, I have no set plans for the New Year. I hope to continue reading more of my TBR back log and would like to follow through on some themed reading that I have been wanting to do for awhile now.  I also want to get back to posting more regularly, two or three posts a week, and visiting--and commenting on--other book blogs.

On the personal front, I plan to spend more time in the moment, something I am not always very good at doing.  I also plan to practice more patience, be more organized, and eat a more healthy diet.  Typical New Year's resolutions--although I refuse to call them resolutions.  I have already put much of these in practice.  There's no reason to wait until January 1st, after all.

Somehow, we made it through another year, with all its ups and downs.  Some of you have been with me for awhile and others I've only just met.  I am very grateful to all of you for your support and thoughts.  I wish you and your families all the best in 2013.  Happy New Year!



© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

50 comments:

  1. Love the new look to your blog! And, what an entertaining post. I really enjoyed your take on so many books. I've definitely got to read several of them! Happy New Year to you and your family!

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    1. Linda - Thank you! My husband put the header together. :-)

      I hope your year got off to a great start!

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  2. Glad to hear your reading turned out better than you anticipated--life always comes first and it can be hard to squeeze books in when you have to prioritize. It looks like you had a good reading year, though! I am definitely going to read The Night Circus next year and am reading the second Bess Crawford mystery right now. Happy New Year and best wishes for 2013!

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    1. Danielle - I didn't realize I'd gotten so much reading done until I started putting my numbers together. So, it was a nice surprise. I hope you do get a chance to read The Night Circus! Have a great New Year!

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  3. I like your new look a lot. 2012 was a tough year for a lot of reasons. I'm glad to hear things are pulling together for you. I enjoyed The Baker's Daughter too and lots of your favorites appeal to me!

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    1. Marie - Thanks! I wasn't sure about the bold colors at first, but it's grown on me. :-) The Baker's Daughter was such a good book. I have McCoy's earlier book and hope to read it sometime this year.

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  4. Love the new header!

    So happy that you were able to ind yourself back ina good place this year. That sweet little face you get to see everyday helps, I'm sure!

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    1. Lisa - Thank you! Mouse's smiles certainly helped. :-)

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  5. I am so sorry that this year was difficult - and I can truly relate to bad experiences providing some useful education. I truly hope that 2013 is a good one for you and your family - filled with love, joy, and peace.

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    1. Molly - Thank you. I wish the same for you this year!

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  6. You are VERY blessed and I hope you'll continue to be in 2013! A very happy New Year to you and yours :)

    LOVE the new look btw, sweet!

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    1. Jennifer - Thanks! I hope you have a wonderful New Year as well!

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  7. A Happy 2013 to you, Wendy!

    I keep adding Kearsley to my library pile and never getting around to her. And The Night Circus is in my TBR this year for sure.

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    1. Lisa - Why, thank you! Same to you. Here's hoping for lots of reading time!

      I think you'd like Kearsley and hope you get a chance to read something by her. Hopefully something good. LOL

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  8. I'm glad you're in a better place and hope life continues to be good to you in 2013.

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  9. I love the new look Wendy!! Very different but feels so fresh.

    A great reading year for you! I have some of the same reservations about this year ending but I so look forward to what the months ahead will reveal. Every week with Elle seems to be becoming more fun (and at times more challenging) and I'm constantly delighted with the joys.

    I hope to get to The Baker's Daughter this year and just recommended Every Day to my cousin. Need to find a copy for myself! I'm also hoping to do more e-reading...but I just have such a hard time letting go of the paper...but it's time.

    I hope 2013 is just as wonderful for you. :)

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    1. Trish - Thanks! It was time for something different. :-)

      They grow so fast don't they? When I look at pictures of her a year ago and think of her now--it's like a completely different child. And was it really just a year ago she was mastering walking? Now she runs, jumps and climbs.

      There's nothing wrong with paper. :-) I want to read more of my TBR books this year, which means diving back into the paper. We'll see how it goes. I find e-books so much easier though these days. But I do want Mouse to see me reading paper books too--I think it sets a good example for future reading on her part. Maybe. Hopefully.

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  10. Great new look for the blog. Wendy (and I'm seeing it on my phone-/it's better on a computer, I'm sure!)
    I have EVERY DAY in the TBR stack--sounds like I should bump it up! And I enjoyed THE NIGHT CIRCUS audiobook too, but not quite as much as you did, I think ��.

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    1. Florinda - Thank you! I am glad it looks good on the phone too. I was worried about that.

      I hope you do get a chance to read Every Day. I'd love to read your thoughts on it!

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  11. A wonderful and thorough wrap-up. I really need to read Everyday. I keep hearing raves about it and it sounds so fascinating. I agre with you that The Night Circus was something special. I imagine it would be a fantastic audio.

    I"m glad you are blessed in many ways and made it through a difficult start in the year. Wishing you all the best in 2013 and many 5 star reads!

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    1. Jenners - Thank you. I am hoping for a many 5 star review year too! Do read Every Day if you get the chance!

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  12. Your list is fantastic!!! I love this post. We are reading THE NIGHT CIRCUS for my book club for February. I'm very excited!

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    1. Julie - The Night Circus will be a great book club read. I think anyway. :-) I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

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  13. Wendy,

    The new look of your blog is awesome. It looks like you have had a hard but rewarding year, and happy to hear that things are much better year end. Happy New Year; may 2013 be good for you and yours.

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    1. Diane - Thanks! It was a very challenging year, that's for sure. Here's to a wonderful New Year though. I think we've all earned it!

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  14. Mouse is beautiful and you had a good reading year for a mom with a tot! Looks like I need to get my hands on Night Circus.

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    1. Stacy - I'm in awe I managed to get so much reading in. It's because all the slow days we had at work. LOL

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  15. I love the new look of your blog, Wendy. It's fabulous! I am so happy you got through this year and came out feeling stronger for it. Dark nights and what you went through - no one wishes for it, but it is a gift when we make it through, I found. I'm still learning about mine, 10 years later. I hold my daughter tight and love her so much.

    I can't believe you read that many books too, that's awesome with a toddler around!! and you had so many good and different books you like so much. I love that you enjoy Louise Penny so much. Her books get better, too :-)

    Happy New Year, Wendy, and may 2013 bring you lots of peace and joy and plenty more reading time.

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    1. Susan - Yes, it certainly is a gift. And like you, I'm sure it's something I will be learning from for years to come.

      I'm still shaking my head at how much I managed to read this past year. But then, reading is my escape and I did a lot of that in order to get out of my own head some days.

      I hope you have a very Happy New Year as well!

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  16. Great post and I hope 2013 is a good one for you! I love your blog's new look - it's beautiful!

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Yvonne - Thank you, Yvonne! I hope you have a great 2013 as well!

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  17. Great list Wendy! I love Susanna Kearsley but I haven't read The Shadowy Horses. It's on my next year's list!
    I'm sorry to hear about your troubles at the beginning of the year. Even though we have not met in person, we have known each other for many years and I consider you a friend. I hope you do with me too.
    You and your family have a very Happy New Year. I am very optimistic and excited about it!

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    1. Jaimie - Thanks, Jaimie! I am looking forward to reading more by Kearsley. I am glad you enjoy her books too!

      And thank you for your kind words. I am very grateful for our friendship and am glad to know you, Jaimie.

      Have a very Happy New Year too!

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  18. Great wrap-up! I just read The Night Circus in print and am thinking of listening to the audio now, I loved it so much. Love Louise Penny too, and have been meaning to try a Deborah Crombie for a long time.

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    1. Laurie - Thank you! I can't wait to read the Night Circus in print version. You'll love the audio.

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  19. Enjoyed reading your post, Wendy!
    I've been slacking in my reading and blogging as well, and I hope I'd do better in both this year!!

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    1. Melody - Thanks! We can do it! Or at least find a balance we can live with, hopefully. :-)

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  20. I'm glad to see you're getting some resolution with the struggles in your life. Tough times definitely have something to teach us, but I am rarely grateful for the lesson. :-) I'm off to add Deborah Crombie and Louise Penny to my list!

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    1. Steph - It takes a while, I think, for us to truly appreciate the good that comes out of the bad--so, yeah, I agree with you there!

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  21. I'm sorry the year started out so rough for you. I am so glad you sought help though. So many try to struggle through things on their own and there are so many people out there just waiting to help. I, for one, am here anytime you need an ear. I've been struggling with financial stuff for a while. My job is okay but when half your income comes from the family business and it's not doing well, its failure seeps into everything. Made me very depressed! If I think about it too much I find myself feeling like a total loser. That's why I am glad I have the blog and my books and all the people I've met because of the books. It cheers me up.

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    1. Ti - Thank you, Ti. I appreciate it! I've never been good about asking for help, but it got to the point where I was even scaring myself. I knew I had to do something different. I am sorry you are dealing with so much right now. Finances can be a major stressor--I know they are for us. I'm here for you too, if you want to talk.

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  22. Wow. Wow. Wow. This is a fantastic year-end post! From the personal aspects to the books - I loved it. :) There are so many things I'd like to comment on, but then my comment would be as long as your post - and not as good. LOL I'm so glad all things are falling into place. May 2013 be a delightful year for you and yours!

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    1. Joy - Why, thank you, Joy! I probably included way more than I should have, but I was feeling reflective. :-) I hope your 2013 is a great one too!

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  23. What a fantastic post with so much goodness going on here!!! I am reading Shadowy Horses right now and am totally loving it. I'm so sorry that 2012 was so dark for you. I think I mentioned in one of my comments about my ongoing experience with depression/anxiety. it's terrible and then to compound that with such a devastating loss of your father. I wish I was right beside you right now if for nothing else but to give you a big hug and to say...I understand. May 2013 be a year filled with many blessings, a lot of love, and nothing but happiness!!!

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    1. Staci - I am glad you are enjoying Shadowy Horses! You've likely finished and reviewed it already. I'm behind on reading posts. :-S

      Thank you for your kind words, Staci, and the hug! It means a lot to me.

      Have a wonderful New Year!

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  24. Wow! So honoured to be mentioned not once, but twice in the year-end review!! Thanks so much :)

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    1. Liz - You are welcome. :-) I enjoy your books and want others to know about them too!

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  25. Lots of great books included here! I really enjoyed The Baker's Daughter and you know that I am a Susanna Kearsley fangirl!

    Did you see that there is going to be a Revenants novella from Amy Plum early this year?

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    1. Marg - It was a good reading year overall, I think. :-)

      Yes, I did see that Amy Plum is coming out with a new book! I need to pre-order it so I'm ready when it comes out. I can't wait! It sure sounds good.

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