Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Reading List: 10 Books To Read Over Christmas Break + A Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway


I haven't been reading as much as I would like lately. I'm thinking Christmas break is my window of opportunity. I'm going to aim for at least 20 minutes a day. Christmas falls at the beginning of the break, so I figure when the festivities are over I'll get some time to snuggle up with a great book in front of a blazing fire, cup of cocoa in hand. Sounds good, right? I have a stock of recent releases on my shelves and they all sound so interesting. I can't wait to dive in. So, here are my suggestions for 10 books to read over Christmas break.


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1. Love and Ruin: A Novel by Paula McLain

I haven't yet read Paula McLain's bestseller, The Paris Wife, a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage, but I have read and enjoyed Circling the Sun, another historical fictional memoir, this one about Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen. Love and Ruin is the story of Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century. She also happens to have been another of Hemingway's wives. In 1937, 28-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. There she also finds herself unexpectedly falling in love with Ernest Hemingway. On the eve of World War II, their relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha forges a path as her own woman and writer. 


2. Becoming Belle by Nuala O'Connor

Becoming Belle is another novel for the historical fiction fan. (I also recommend O'Connor's Miss Emily: A Novel, the story of Emily Dickinson's life through the eyes of an Irish maid.) Becoming Belle is based on a true story of an unstoppable woman in Victorian London. In 1887, Isabel Bilton is the eldest of three daughters of a middle-class military family, growing up in a small garrison town. By 1891 she is the Countess of Clancarty, dubbed "the peasant countess" by the press, and a member of the Irish aristocracy. Becoming Belle is the story of the four years in between, of Belle's rapid ascent and the people that would tear her down. With only her talent, charm and determination, Isabel moves to London at age 19, changes her name to Belle, and faces unthinkable hardships as she rises to fame. She falls passionately in love with William, Viscount Dunlo, a young aristocrat, but his ruthless father makes clear he'll stop at nothing to keep her in her place. Sounds like the perfect absorbing read for a relaxing day at home.


3. Clock Dance: A novel by Anne Tyler

American writer Anne Tyler has penned 22 novels, including Clock Dance, the story of Willa Drake, a woman on the verge of a new adventure. A widow at 41, Willa has always followed a path laid out for her by others. But when she gets a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot and needs her help, she drops everything and flies across the country. Her spur-of-the-moment decision to look after this woman and her young daughter leads Willa into uncharted territory. As she encounters new and surprising neighbours, she is plunged into the rituals that make a community and takes pleasure in unexpected things. A bittersweet novel of hope and regret, fulfillment and renewal, Clock Dance brings us the everyday life of a woman who discovers it's never to late to choose your own path.


4. All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir by Elizabeth Hay

Elizabeth Hay is one of my favourite Canadian novelists. All Things Consoled is her memoir of the  shift she experienced between being her parents' daughter to becoming their guardian and caregiver. Mom was a frugal artist. Dad was a proud schoolteacher with an explosive temper. Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was considered difficult and selfish. She always suspected she would make up for the sins of her childhood by caring for her parents in their final years. But as her parents became increasingly dependent on her, their lives changed utterly and so did hers. With candor and wit, Elizabeth Hay offers insight into the agony of family dynamics—sibling rivalries, decades of resentment, love and devotion—and reaches a deep understanding of the most unforgettable characters she will ever know, her parents.


5. Lear's Shadow by Claire Holden Rothman

This is the novel I'm currently reading. During one hot, stormy Montreal summer, Bea Rose finds herself about to turn 40 having lost her lover, her business and her bearings. Despite her lack of theatre experience, Bea jumps at the opportunity to work for an outdoor production of King Lear. She soon learns that the artistic director, Arthur White, is a childhood friend whose presence stirs up painful memories. She also inadvertently sparks the lascivious attentions of the aging star of the play and alienates the stage director, his former wife. As Bea learns the ropes of her new role, her beloved but demanding father falls ill and her younger sister Cara reveals cracks in the foundation of her seemingly perfect life. I haven't gotten this far yet, but apparently the various forces in Bea's life collide in a shocking act that could destroy more than one life, or reveal how those lives might come together in new, stronger ways. From the acclaimed author of My October.




6. Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Based on real-life events, Women Talking is a fictionalized account of rape in a religious colony. According to famed Canadian author Margaret Atwood, "This amazing, sad, shocking, but touching novel, based on a real-life event, could be right out of The Handmaid's Tale." Eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women has been violated in the night by demons punishing them for their sins. But the women learn they were in fact drugged and attacked by men from their own community. While the colony's men are in the city, attempting to raise money to bail out the rapists, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world and unable to speak the language of their country—have to decide whether to stay in the only place they've ever known or make an escape. This is a relevant story for our changing times. May be too disturbing for some.


7. Summer Cannibals by Melanie Hobson

Summer Cannibals, by first-time novelist Melanie Hobson, sounds intriguing indeed. Summoned to the family home on the shores of Lake Ontario―a mansion perched on the Niagara escarpment―three adult sisters come together in what seems like an act of family solidarity. Pregnant and unwell, the youngest, Pippa, has left her husband and four young children in New Zealand and returned home to heal. But home to this family means secrets, desire and vengeance. As this wealthy family endures six intense days in one another’s company, old fissures reappear. When long-buried truths come to light, the sisters and their parents must face the consequences of their actions. Summer Cannibals is described as "a riveting, psychological story of lust, betrayal, and family."


8. Hippie by Paulo Coelho

Drawing on the experience of his own life, bestselling author Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to relive the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge established social norms. In Hippie, he tells the story of Paulo, a young Brazilian man with a goatee and long, flowing hair, who wants to become a writer. He sets off on a journey in search of deeper meaning. Paulo's travels take him from South America to the famous Dam Square in Amsterdam, where he meets Karla, a Dutch woman who is looking for the ideal companion to accompany her on the fabled hippie trail to Nepal. She convinces Paulo to join her on a trip aboard the Magic Bus that travels across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu. As they travel together, Paulo and Karla explore their own relationship: a life-defining love story that leads to choices that will set the course for their lives thereafter.


9. Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide (Ami McKay's Witches) by Ami McKay

Beloved Canadian author Ami McKay is back with a magical follow-up to The Witches of New York, in the tradition of Victorian winter tales. During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York gather in front of the fire to tell ghost stories and perform traditional Yuletide divinations. As they roast chestnuts and melt lead to see their fate, a series of odd messengers arrive with invitations for a New Year's Eve masquerade. Gossip, dreams and portents lead the witches to question the party host's motives. Is she benevolent or is she laying a trap? As New York prepares to ring in the new year, the witches don their finery and head for the ball, on the hunt for answers that might well be the end of them.


10. Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose

You might not think of a cookbook as Christmas break reading. But I love to read through cookbooks. Sometimes I even cook from them. This plant-based cookbook is a great choice as we put the gluttonous holidays behind us and think healthy new year's eats. Eat Feel Fresh has over 100 healing recipes for a modern Ayurvedic lifestyle. Author Sahara Rose tells us how to eat according to our body's specific needs. Identify your Dosha, or mind-body type, and find out what foods are best for your body. Learn how changes in season and climate affect your digestion and how to adjust what you eat accordingly. Explore more than 100 plant-based, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes for every meal, including contemporary twists on classic Ayurvedic cuisine. It sounds very new age, but the recipes are quite accessible, as well as being beautiful, healthy and tempting. I have a lot of cookbooks and I find Eat Feel Fresh to be unique among them.



"My Weekend Is All Booked" candle available at Indigo.


I am pairing this post with a giveaway for a Starbucks gift card because you're going to need a hot beverage to snuggle up with while you read, read, read!

Question for you


Which one of these books would you most like to read?



Pin it for later:


10 Books To Read Over Christmas Break


Enter To Win A $20 Starbucks Gift Card (Canada & US)


Residents of the US and Canada may enter for a chance to win a $20 Starbucks gift card using the rafflecopter widget below, until January 1, 2019. Giveaway is not affiliated with Starbucks.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



117 comments:

  1. Lear's Shadow sounds like a good read for after Christmas festivities .

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  2. I want to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho

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  3. I'd like to read Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook

    Rafflecopter Name is Anne Taylor

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  4. I'd like to read Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide by Ami McKay

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  5. I would most like to read . Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose!

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  6. Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook sounds interesting

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  7. I would love to read Women Talking

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  8. I would like to read Clock Dance.

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  9. I'd like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  10. Oh Women Talking for sure! Thanks for the great list!

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  11. Hippie by Paulo Coelho sound like my kind of book.
    heather hgtempaddy@hotmail.com

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  12. I would like to read Lear's Shadow.

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  13. I would like to read Love and Ruin: A Novel

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  14. I’d like to read Clock dance and Becoming Belle.

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  15. Summer Cannibals sounds interesting!

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  16. I think Summer Cannibals sounds good. Niagara is such a nice setting for a novel.

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  17. Becoming Belle sounds the most intriguing to me.

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  18. becoming belle sounds great, would love to read it

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  19. I think I would most likely read Eat Feel Fresh. I'm on a diet and I'm trying to eat healthy.

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  20. Clock Dance sounds good to me.

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  21. Eat Feel Fresh would be a great book to continue a healthful jouney.

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  22. I'd like to read Love and Ruin.

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  23. I would most like to read Clock Dance as it sounds like a book that would really hold my interest.

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  24. I would like to read Eat Feel Fresh.

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  25. I would be interested in the cookbook because I'm vegan and always love discovering new plant-based foods and recipes.

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  26. I'd like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  27. I think I would like to read the book clock dance.

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  28. I would like to read Becoming Belle.

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  29. I would most like to read Summer Cannibals.

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  30. I'd like to read Summer Cannibals by Melanie Hobson.

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  31. I would like to read Women Talking

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  32. I would read Lear's Shadow by Claire Holden Rothman because it is about love and loss.

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  33. I would love to read becoming belle:)

    Julie DOT Matek 79 at Yahoo DOT com

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  34. Becoming Belle! Thank you so so soooooo very much for the kind, generous, awesome, amazing and incredible opportunity ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽😍😍😍😍

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  35. I would like to read Elizabeth Hay's memoir (and I love the candle)

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  36. I would like to read Becoming Belle!

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  37. I'm most interested in Women Talking because I love Miriam Toews!

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  38. All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir by Elizabeth Hay

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  39. Summer Cannibals sounds interesting!

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  40. I would love to read them all - but I think Women Talking by Miriam Toews would be my top pick.
    Marlene V.

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  41. I would like to read Hippie! Thanks for the chance!

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  42. Hippie sounds alright!

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  43. I think I would like to read Hippie!

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  44. I like to read Clock dance sund happy book

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  45. I'd like to read Women Talking by Miriam Toews. I hear she's a great writer.

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  46. I’d love to read becoming Belle. Looks amazing!

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  47. I'm looking forward to Clock Dance.

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  48. Definitely the Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose!

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  49. I'd like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  50. I would like to read Summer Cannibals.

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  51. I can't wait to read All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir , Elizabeth Hay is my fav. Late Nights on Air is the greatest book.

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  52. Half Spent Was the Night sounds like a keeper. I'll keep an eye out for that next time I'm in the library or bookstore.

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  53. I'd like to read Becoming Belle (and several other books listed).

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  54. Women Talking by Miriam Toews. thanks

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  55. I'd like the witches book- it sounds great

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  56. All Things Consoled sounds very interesting. Getting closer to that point in life with my parents.

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  57. All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir by Elizabeth Hay

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  58. I like the sounds of Becoming Belle

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  59. Nuala O'Connor's Becoming Belle is on my list
    jan

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  60. I'd like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  61. I would like to read the Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide (Ami McKay's Witches) by Ami McKay

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  62. I would love to read Women Talking.

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  63. My book choice would be All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir by Elizabeth Hay.

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  64. I'd like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho. He is one of my favourite authors.

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  65. The one that I'd love to read first would be hippie!

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  66. Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose!

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  67. Clock Dance! Just the title is interesting!

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  68. I think Summer Cannibals sounds interesting .

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  69. I think I would enjoy All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir!

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  70. I'd like to read "Becoming Belle". I haven't read a historical fiction in a long time.

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  71. Summer Cannibals
    billiondollarprincesss @ hotmail dot com

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  72. I'd like to ready Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose.

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  73. I would love to read Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide.

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  74. I accidentally included the wrong tweet in the form so here is the correct tweet
    https://twitter.com/Pamalot28/status/1078978077756190721

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  75. The one I am most interested in reading is Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  76. I would like to read "Becoming Belle" first, they all look interesting.

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  77. I would like to read All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir by Elizabeth Hay.

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  78. Eat Feel Fresh is the topper of my list for wanting to read .

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  79. I would love to read Becoming Belle.

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  80. I would like to read Lear's Shadow

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  81. Like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  82. I would love to read . Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide (Ami McKay's Witches) by Ami McKay

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  83. I would most like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  84. I would like to read Lear's Shadow by Claire Holden Rothman

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  85. I would like to read eat feel fresh.

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  86. I would love to read Clock Dance. It sounds interesting. :)

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  87. I would love to read Women Talking

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  88. Love and Ruin sounds intriguing.

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  89. I would like to read All Things Consoled: A daughter's memoir. I am always interested in the role of family dynamics in an individuals life.

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  90. I would love to read hippie. It definitely sounds like something i'd enjoy.
    deannankeller@yahoo.com

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  91. I think I would like to read the book . Summer Cannibals by Melanie Hobson first from this list.

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  92. Eat Feel Fresh sounds good. need to overhaul my diet

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  93. I would most like to read Hippie by Paulo Coelho.

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  94. I would like to read Hippie. It sounds good.

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  95. I would love to read Clock Dance.

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  96. Eat Feel Fresh looks like it would be a good read!

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  97. I really want to read Women Talking by Miriam Toews. (jozywails@gmail.com)

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  98. I would love to read Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide (Ami McKay's Witches) by Ami McKay.

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  99. I would like to read Clock Dance.

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