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Apr 22

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Contemporary Fiction, Women's Studies 18

Greetings Bookworms,

Wow. Am I ever behind on telling y’all about what I’m reading. 99 percent of the time when I’m running behind, it’s because I’m pretty lazy. This time, though, I really needed to sit on my thoughts for a while before I could put together a blog post. That’s mostly because reading Dietland by Sarai Walker felt so… Explosive.

dietlandPlum Kettle goes through life trying to keep a low profile. Her lifelong weight struggle has instilled a desperate desire to blend into the background, a feat she never quite accomplishes. Plum works from home or a local cafe answering the fan mail and advice requests for a popular teen girl’s magazine. After years of failed diets, Plum has decided to undergo weight loss surgery.

She’s confident in her decision until she acquires something of a stalker in a college age girl wearing brightly colored tights and combat boots. When Plum tries to investigate the odd girl that’s been following her, she falls into a collective of women living life outside of society’s terms. All this comes about around the same time as a vigilante group known as “Jennifer” begins dangerous attacks on a world that’s hostile toward women.

Dietland takes a no holds barred approach to eviscerating the beauty industry, gender inequality, rape culture, society’s obsession with weight loss, and the general nastiness that surrounds being overweight.

You guys, I have so many complicated feelings about this book. Every time I wanted to high five the author for making an incredible point, something happened that made me want to rescind my hand. I was all about the take down of diet culture. It sucks and this book disembowled it. High five right there. Of course, I wanted that high five right back when I read the way the author treated Plum’s antidepressant use. Are anti-depressants over-prescribed? Maybe. But are there a lot of people who NEED medication to manage their mental illnesses? Abso-freaking-lutely. Is this sort of characterization helpful? Nope. Not even a little. Then there’s the beauty industry. Does it feed on women’s insecurities? Totally. But the book slammed the beauty industry SO HARD that it made me feel like a crap feminist for enjoying wearing makeup and shaving my armpits. And as much as there’s a part of me that would love to see rapists and other horrible human beings punished when the criminal justice system fails, I just can’t with the vigilante stuff.

Are you starting to get a clearer picture of why I’m such a muddled mess over this book? The cognitive dissonance is STRONG with this one. Even though I didn’t agree with every little stance, I still think that Dietland starts all sorts of incredible and important conversations. It would make a stellar book club pick, especially if debates are your group’s jam.

Alright Bookworms. As you can see I’m a hot steaming pile of emotions here. What was the last book you read that left your feelings all a roiling?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive small commission.*

 

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Apr 20

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 20, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Personal 13

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

Man, life has been getting away from me. I have read oodles and oodles of books that I have yet to tell you about. I’m simply having the worst time getting myself to write coherent thoughts. In the spirit of incoherence, though, it’s Wednesday. Time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts! (Thanks to Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for my new favorite game.)

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ONE: I returned from Cincinnati on Sunday, and though I’m happy to be back home with the Hubs, every time I part company with my bestie, I’m transported back to being 14 years old at an airport saying goodbye to the BFF who moved from Illinois to Maryland. I mean, we generally devolve into our pubescent selves immediately upon meeting anyway, what with the giggling, Dave Coulier jokes, and spontaneous Fountains of Wayne singalongs, so I tend to get a little misty when saying goodbye. And now that there are adorable little kids I have to say goodbye to as well? Suffice it to say I left a little piece of my heart in Ohio.

TWO:  I have several pieces of furniture containing collectibles and odds and ends in my house, not to mention a statue of a penguin butler (Alfred rules.) You might think that I had one of the more whimsical living spaces of my friends as a result of these things, but you know what I don’t have? A gold gryphon mask perched atop a dress form wearing an Elizabethan doublet and ruff. That’s right. My pal has a degree in costume design and Godric (I named him) is simply the compilation of a couple of her school projects on display. He was hanging out in the guest room, so she obligingly hid him behind some furniture along with another scary mask so I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night terrified. Her kids will always have the most amazing Halloween costumes. If she can get Junie to wear something other than a tutu, that is.

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THREE: Hanging out with my nieces and nephews is my favorite. Being Crazy Aunt Katie is so much fun, I can’t even tell you. And I’m not just talking about all the awesome kid lit I get to buy (though that is a major perk. Do you know how many picture books there are about penguins? I mean, it wouldn’t be weird for me to buy doubles of them just to keep for my own purposes, would it?) I am also talking about the fact that when I went to pick Jack up from school on Friday, one of his little 2nd grade friends asked who I was, then said “Wow, she looks really young.” I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I was wearing a t-shirt bearing the Disney version of the Cheshire Cat (complete with sparkles) but I’m going to accept the compliment at face value and embrace my (apparently) youthful countenance. Thanks, random 2nd grader!

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Yeah yeah I know it’s out of focus. You try to get a steady selfie with an 8 year old and 2 year old!

FOUR: I’m going to BEA in Chicago this year. For those not in the know, it’s Book Expo America, a giant trade show for the book and publishing industry. Because APPARENTLY I qualify as an industry professional. Sort of. Anyway, I’m very excited, but I’m also super nervous. There will be plenty of bloggers there that I “know” but I’ve met none of them in person. When I went to BlogHer, I attended with Chrissy (fellow blogger, college roommate, and easily one of the most important people in my world) so she HAD to hang out with me even though there were cooler people around. I have no built in safety person and I’m currently the queen of anxiety. I don’t feel cool enough or in-the-know enough or smart enough or anything. But I also know that if I don’t go when BEA is in my proverbial backyard, I’ll never go and that I’ll always regret it. Soooooo. I’m going. I’m also sleeping on my SIL’s couch which means I’ll get to snuggle niece in the evenings post conference. Emma thinks I’m cool. Just because she’s still in diapers doesn’t mean she doesn’t have good taste, right?

FIVE: READATHON is THIS WEEKEND!!! Have you signed up yet?

I think that’ll do it for today. I’ve got other things rattling around in my noggin, but I’m going to attempt to channel them into some book review posts. Yeah, I don’t really think it’s going to happen either, but a girl can dream. What are you up to, Bookworms?

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Apr 13

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 13, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts 13

Happy Wednesday, Bookworms!

It’s fast becoming my favorite day of the week thanks to the nonsensical roundup that is Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. These are the most fun posts for me to write, I hope you guys enjoy them too!

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ONE: I’m leaving for Cincinnati tomorrow! I don’t normally tell y’all before I embark on a trip because it’s supposedly a rather unsafe thing to do, letting people know your home will be unattended. But. My home will not be unattended. Hubs will be home because I’m doing my annual girl’s weekend with the Bestie and spoiling my “niece” and “nephew.” I’m pretty stoked. I’ve got an audio book and Hamilton to keep me company, so that 5 hour drive? Piece of cake.

TWO: I’ve been helping the amazing Andi of Estella’s Revenge and Heather of Capricious Reader prepare cheerleading teams for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Those two deserve medals because organizing this event is a labor of love. Emphasis on labor. I named all the teams after birds just so I could captain Team Penguin. Put a (flightless) bird on it.

THREE: Every once in a great while I’ll get a hateful blog comment from a random internet person telling me that I don’t get the “beautiful love story” that is Lolita (gag) or that The Color Purple is evidence Alice Walker’s sick mind (bite me.) Rather than allowing the comments to post, I usually just delete them because I don’t have the energy or desire to fight with banana heads online. It’s kind of weird, you’d think that sort of thing would upset me, but I only really get upset when someone says something mean and they actually have a point. (Sometimes I am an idiot, I’ll own it.) That is probably part of the reason I’m afraid to open my big mouth about Dietland. I’m pretty sure I’ll eff it up somehow.

FOUR: My library hold for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell finally came up and I’m loving it. As if there were any doubt, really. I’m trying walk a fine line between savoring the book and finishing before it’s unceremoniously yanked from my Kindle. I say that like it’s a terrible thing, but I actually LOOOOOOVE that I can get library books on my Kindle and that I never get overdue fees.

FIVE: The friend I’m visiting is expecting a baby (#3!) and probably isn’t going to find out the sex before delivery. Which is fine. But have you ever tried to find a gender neutral baby gift? I couldn’t even find a nice yellow ducky sleeper, for heaven’s sake. Guess what, NewBabe? You’re getting books! Get used to it!

So, Bookworms, since today is my Friday, what are your plans for the weekend? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Apr 11

Emma Thompson Reads Me Ghost Stories: The Turn of the Screw

Audio Books, Classics 15

Greetings Bookworms!

How often do you get to say that a celebrity read you a bedtime story? You’d be able to say that a lot more often if you were down with audio books, believe you me. Of course, if you’d rather stay up all night being confused and creeped out than actually sleep, I’ve got the bedtime story for you. Or Emma Thompson does. Audible hooked up with Emma Thompson to produce an audio version of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which is only the quintessential gothic ghost story. *Please note that I did not actually listen to this before bed because nightmares. I only listened in broad daylight.*

turnofthescrewI decided to give the book a listen because I love Emma Thompson and The Turn of the Screw has been on my TBR list since the beginning of time. The narrator of an audio book can have a profound effect on the awesomeness of the experience, which is why it was smart-smart-smart of the powers that be to tap an Oscar winning actress to tackle Henry James. The Turn of the Screw isn’t long and it doesn’t do the blood and guts thing, so it relies heavily on atmosphere, foreboding, and playing into the reader’s fear of potentially evil children (which is a fear instilled into this reader by a few babysitting jobs… And Children of the Corn.) Emma Thompson’s narration hit all the right creepy notes, and she did a good enough job of differentiating between the different characters’ voices that I was never in doubt as to who was talking. A neat trick considering the characters consisted of a governess, a heavily accented housekeeper, and two small children.

We’ve discussed before on this blog that I’ve got a serious weakness for audio books. We’ve also discussed some of the channels by which I access my audio books. Audible has long been one of my favorites. You can buy books without a subscription if you want, but at $14.95 a month, the subscription offers big savings, particularly if you’re into giant chunksters. One of Diana Gabaldon’s novels could run you nearly $50 if you were to buy a la carte (still not a bad deal if you’re considering the 55 hours of listening enjoyment AND the endless Jamie Fraser daydreams), but if you had a subscription? Giant savings. Another one of the things I love about Audible? Even if you suspend your subscription for any reason, you get to KEEP all those books you bought at a ridiculous savings and listen to them whenever you want. If there are series you want to revisit again and again? I highly recommend you purchase them through Audible. I personally have the entire Outlander and Harry Potter series hanging out in my library.

Still unsure if you want to try out Audible? They’ll give you a one month subscription for FREE. That’s right. You could listen to Emma Thompson read you The Turn of the Screw (or any other book you fancy) for zero dollars. Give it a whirl! You’ve got nothing to lose. Well. Except maybe sleep. Curse you, Henry James!

*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.*

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Apr 07

Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Contemporary Fiction 3

Greetings Bookworms!

I am on an absolute roll with the water works this week, you guys. I cried while watching Inside Out (expected) AND Trainwreck (unexpected). Then I cried during two different books. Not that I don’t cry a lot, because I am totally a crier, but it’s a little unusual to have so many instances of non-real-life crying in a single week. My subconscious is probably just super pissed that it’s April and it’s still pretending to be winter and icky outside. I have a point, I promise. The second book to make me cry this week was Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for review consideration. She seems super nice, but I’ll still give you an honest opinion. I’ve known you longer. And, you know, integrity, blah blah blah.*

LiesandOtherActsofLoveLynn “Lovey” White has seen a thing or twelve during her sixty years of marriage. You can’t be married that long and raise a family of five daughters without appreciating the art of the little white lie. Life hasn’t been perfect, but she’s made it work. At this point, she’d just like to see her family happy and settled. Unfortunately, her granddaughter Annabelle has been living in a whirlwind. After dumping her hedge fund manager fiance, Annabelle rebounded FAST with a musician she met and married within the week. When Annabelle’s life begins to spiral out of control, she comes to understand that things aren’t always what they seem and that difficult choices are part of this whole life gig.

Lies and Other Acts of Love was a bit of a complicated read for me. I simply adored Lovey and Dan’s story- in fact, I’d read an entire book about their life together with no complaint. The overarching themes of love being complicated and the idea that there’s often more to a fairy tale love story than meets the eye? Totally resonated with me. Great stuff.

But then there was Annabelle. You know how sometimes when you’re reading a book you want to jump into the pages and give a character a good shake? That’s how I felt about Annabelle. I don’t fault the author for this, my frustration with the character was 100% about my own personal hangups. That’s part of the fun of reading, though. Different books affect people in different ways. Annabelle drove me bonkers. She just kept making terrible choices. The fact that a single character was able to get under my skin so much is a testament to the author’s skill, though, don’t you think? I mean, most of the characters I’ve most wanted to give a stern “talking to” are out of classic novels, so if that’s any indication of quality, this was quite well done. Bottom line? If you like Southern fiction and aren’t completely jaded by the concept of love at first sight, Lies and Other Acts of Love could absolutely be a winner for you.

Soooo Bookworms, let’s talk. Tell me about some of the fictional characters that drove you bananas. Please? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The author will also receive a commission. I think. I don’t actually know how it works with book sales. Kristy Woodson Harvey really does seem exceptionally nice, though, just in case you’re on the fence about the purchase. You probably won’t want to punch Annabelle. Clearly that’s on me.*

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Apr 06

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 6, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts 24

Happy Wednesday, Bookworms!

It’s the middle of the week, and really, the only way we should be celebrating is with a bit of nonsense, don’t you agree? Thankfully, Christine at Bookishly Boisterous has created just the meme for my meandering thoughts. Let’s do this thing!

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ONE: I recently told a friend who was trying to comfort her fussy baby to tell said baby that “crankiness is not becoming in a gentleman.” I’ve been reading a lot of WWI era books, it’s really not my fault. (To nobody’s surprise, the very proper admonishment was not effective in the slightest.) *Note- said advice was completely tongue in cheek. I don’t go around giving parenting advice, seeing as I have no idea what I’m talking about.*

TWO: It’s been well established that I’m not a foodie. At all. Which is probably why these Tasty and other cooking videos on Facebook baffle me so much. Like… Why would I want to make homemade Cheez-Its? Or go through the trouble of making Choco Tacos from scratch? Or bread mozzarella sticks with Doritos? (In fairness, I think the Doritos crusted mozzarella sticks are intriguing, but the effort involved doesn’t seem worth it.) All of these things are infinitely more troublesome than just purchasing something pre-made, and as far as I can tell, none of them exclude any potential allergy causing ingredient. (It would make a little more sense to me if it were like “hey gluten free Cheez-Its!” or something. But it isn’t.) Just… Why?

THREE: My Brother in Law and Sister in Law gave me a gorgeous new edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for Christmas. I am pondering a re-read. Would anybody be interested in joining along? I’ve been all kinds of terrible with organizing things blog-wise lately, but I might make an exception for Alice.

FOUR: Speaking of Alice in Wonderland, you know that thing when you’re planning you annual visit across 2 states to see your BFF and she texts and asks if you want her to get tickets to a production of Alice in Wonderland the ballet? Oh you don’t? I thank my lucky stars that the staff at my middle school were so un-creative as to have alphabetized everything from locker assignments to lunch tables. You never know when the gal who shows up late to class on the first day wearing a Loony Tunes t-shirt, rocking a permed ponytail, and toting a trombone case will turn out to be a lifelong friend.

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I believe these were our 7th grade spring pictures. Usually I’m very very happy that we didn’t have access to cameras 24/7 at that time, but I kind of wish I could find a shot of just the two of us in all our 6th grade glory. Because you guys. That perm she had. And my braces. We actually look really good here.

FIVE: I watched Inside Out this weekend. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, I cried my face off. Bing Bong. SOB.

These are things that have been running through my head this week. What’s going on in your world, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Apr 04

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

Historical Fiction 6

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

The things I like about Mondays are extremely limited, but they’re greatly improved when I get a chance to discuss historical fiction. Yay for books, saving all the days of the week from abject horribleness! Today we’re heading back to WWI England, or, perhaps more specifically, the summer before WWI. Hence the title of Helen Simonson’s new book, The Summer Before the War. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I’ll still be honest and all that, because I lack social graces.*

summerbeforethewarIt’s the summer of 1914 in Sussex, England. Beatrice Nash arrives in picturesque Rye with a few crates of books and something to prove as the school’s new Latin teacher. Hugh Grange is a medical student in town visiting with his formidable Aunt Agatha, Uncle John, and cousin Daniel. The troubles in the Balkans seem far removed from the glorious weather and small town scandals of Sussex. I mean, a FEMALE Latin teacher? Agatha staked her reputation on bringing Beatrice to town. And Beatrice has her own problems- she’s mourning the loss of her beloved father while struggling against a system that makes what little inheritance she has nearly impossible for her to access. Unfortunately, war breaks out, as war tends to do, and the town is transformed by the war efforts and preparations to send so many of their young men off to war.

Ah what a whirlwind, am I right?! Believe it or not, I actually had a hard time getting invested in this book at first. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the fault of the book, just one of those weird mood things, but it took me a while to really dive into this world. Once I did though? Well, suffice it to say that a number of late night tears were shed while I SHOULD have been sleeping because I couldn’t put the book down. And because I have feelings. If you dig historical fiction, The Summer Before the War is definitely one you should check out.

Talk to me Bookworms! What was the last book you read that kept you up late? Made you cry?

*If you make  a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 30

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: March 30, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts 18

Happy Wednesday, Bookworms!

I have not fallen off the face of the planet, I promise. I’ve just had a busy week and weekend and I decided on more than one occasion that coloring would be a better use of my time than writing a blog post. These things happen sometimes. Anywho, since I’m in a random mishmash mood, I think it’s time we share some Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, don’t you? (Thanks to Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for hosting!)

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FIRST: WordPress is annoyingly insistent on reformatting the way I write numbered lists and it’s driving me crazy, so I’m going to use ACTUAL WORDS instead of numbers to try to beat the computers. It’s like The Matrix up in here, you guys.

SECOND: Hamilton. I drank the Kool-Aid. I live tweeted my first listen. I laughed. I cried. Since the first listen, I’ve either been listening to it again OR had songs stuck in my head. I also have a giant crush on Daveed Diggs. How does one rap whilst maintaining a French accent?! HOW?! AND THEN sound COMPLETELY DIFFERENT to play Thomas Jefferson?! I am not sure if I’m going to read Ron Chernow’s book (although who are we kidding? I read Les Miserables as a direct result of the musical, so it’ll probably happen eventually…) but I keep hitting Wikipedia for extra historical tidbits.

THIRD: My birthday was last week. I turned 33. I stopped getting excited about birthdays a while ago. I mean, I don’t want to be a spoilsport, but instead of being an occasion where I can simply enjoy eating all the cake, birthdays now turn into this sort of melancholy “taking stock of life” sort of occasion for me. I blame my brain chemistry (and probably also my biological clock.) It turns out that it’s a pretty good thing that I had low/grumpy expectations, though, because Hubs came home from work violently ill on my birthday. Poor guy. After I cleaned up and put the man to bed, I just chilled out eating Doritos and watching Gilmore Girls. Fancy dinner out has been postponed (since his birthday and our dating anniversary are a mere 10 days after MY birthday, it’ll work out fine.) I’ll probably enjoy it more without the gray cloud of birthday melancholy hanging over my head anyway. But since I’m 33 and, uh, “Mellon Collie”…

FOURTH: I’ve been in some kind of reading slump lately, I’ll tell you what. I’ve powered through a few things but the only thing keeping me from DNF-ing some current reads is the fact that I’m not super stoked about anything I’ve got on deck to read. I’m sure it will resolve itself soon, these things usually do, but meh.

FIFTH: I renewed my library card yesterday! I had planned to hit the gym for a Body Pump class BUT a railroad track runs right through the gym’s parking lot. Not only did I have to wait for a train to chug through, but the darn thing STOPPED. On the tracks. Just like, blocking everything. Not a great design decision on the gym’s part certainly, but seriously, train? It doesn’t seem like there’s any sort of schedule. I waited for a few minutes and then gave up, remembered I needed to get my library card renewed and decided to eat Easter candy instead of exercising. I obviously make excellent decisions.

That’s been my week- what have YOU been up to, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 24

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Audio Books, Classics 9

Salutations, Bookworms!

I’m going to tell you a story about a rabbit. When I was in high school, my friend Kim (Hi, Kim! I don’t think you read my blog, but hi anyway! Your baby is cute!) had a pet rabbit named Benjamin. He was an awfully cute rabbit, but I’ll tell you something. Rabbit fur is JUST LIKE cat fur. As far as my personal histamines are concerned, anyway. Much as I wanted to snuggle that bunny, he made my eyes itchy and I got all sneezy. That right there is what happens when I tell a story about a rabbit. This is one of the reasons I do not write books. Luckily, other people write books. Other people like Richard Adams. That’s right guys! I finally read Watership Down!

watershipdownIn case it wasn’t already clear, Watership Down is a story about rabbits. A rabbit adventure tale, if you will. The whole story apparently came about as Richard Adams told stories to his daughters whenever they were in the car. In this book’s introduction, Adams makes no bones about the fact that he did not intend this novel to be any sort of allegory. It made me laugh because I can’t help but think that this happens a lot. Once a book is out there and in the hands of critics and academics it takes on a life of its own. But I digress. Back to the bunnies! This book follows a band of rabbits on a journey from their human threatened warren across the English countryside in search of a safe new home.

I started this book knowing it was about rabbits, but that was about it. I was a pretty blank slate as far as plots went. I actually sort of thought that it was going to involve rabbits on a submarine. Sadly, there were no teeny tiny sailor suits involved in this book, though despite my love of cuteness, it’s probably for the best. I was not expecting to be so flipping STRESSED by the plight of these rabbits, though. Being a rabbit is rough! They’re terrified of all the things all the time because there are dogs and cats and foxes and weasels and humans. This band of rabbits just keeps getting into scrape after scrape and the suspense killed me. How does one make a book about fluffy bunnies suspenseful?! Frith only knows!

Be honest with me here, Bookworms. How freaking CUTE would a rabbit look wearing a sailor suit? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, a sailor suit will be donated to a rabbit in need. That’s a lie. The money will go straight into my greedy greedy pockets.*

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