Monday, April 30, 2012

…On The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa


The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)
by Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: April 24, 2012
485 Pages
Source:  NetGalley

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for. -(summary from Goodreads.com)

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My Thoughts:  I had this big perfect blog post ready for The Immortal Rules until everybody and their brother started posting on this book. It was in my usual format and everything! BUT I decided to change things up a bit and go to my other format….just because I know everyone might be tired of reading the same things about the same book. So…


The first thing or two you need to know is this:
I'm basically a Julie Kagawa fangirl.
Julie Kagawa is on my instant-read list.
I know that I’m not the only person that read and loved The Iron Fey series. But I DID read and love them…I devoured them with enough intensity to say that I’m a fangirl. And I loved them enough – after four books and falling in love with the Nevernever – to say that Julie is on my instant-read list for authors. What that means is this: if she writes it, I will read it. That is all. Julie wrote The Immortal Rules; I picked it up. It’s a very simple operation, folks.

The second thing you need to know is this:
I’ve never stopped loving vampires!
I was not burned by a certain set of vampire books from years past and I absolutely love a good paranormal book. It’s true that I have my favorites but I love a good vampire story, especially a series, and I’m not ashamed of it!

The third thing you need to know is this
:
I knew I’d love this book and I was absolutely right!
I’ve already made it known that Julie Kagawa is instant-read for me. I had a pretty strong feeling that I’d love The Immortal Rules and I was right. It started out with action and there was action all the way through. The characters were solid, both the main cast and the secondary cast, which is typical for this author. The world-building was stellar, which is also something I’ve come to expect from Ms. Kagawa. In truth, the book was long, but I never felt bogged down by the length because I was so fully immersed in this story that I forgot everything around me while I was reading and was just THERE. Right there, IN THE MIDDLE OF IT.

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I could sit here, you guys, and do my regular “review” thing. I could do my breakdown and list out: the characters, the backstory, the world-building, the romance, etc etc etc. But after this week you can honestly see and read all of that stuff over and over EVERYWHERE. What I want to do is tell you about my experience with The Immortal Rules: I ATE IT UP. Devoured it. Happily and with a smile. This is not surprising, though, as I am a huge fan of this author and, yes, vampires.

Friends, what we have with The Immortal Rules is a strong, solid start to what I predict will be an awesome series. It has pretty much all of the things I love and expect from Julie Kagawa and other books that call themselves awesome. We have an amazing Katana-carrying, butt-kicking, consistently-developing strong main female character that is not only likable and loyal but also Asian (shout-out to Julie Kagawa for this!). We have an awesome secondary cast of likable good guys and nasty, mean (and also likable-in-a-villain-way) bad guys. We have world-building to die for (OF COURSE) and we have a story that is engaging and paced well. There is a romance but it is slowly developing and without a love triangle. There is also no cliffhanger – instead we have a nicely wrapped-up ending that leaves a few questions unanswered as part of the story arc for certain characters AND a perfect starting point for the next installment in the series.

I could go on for days, but I won’t. I WILL say that I am thrilled that Julie Kagawa is writing more for me to DEVOUR and that I will be recommending this HIGHLY to pretty much anyone who will read it. It was that good to me, y’all. It was THAT GOOD.

The Immortal Rules will appeal to fans of:

Vampires
Paranormal/Post-Apocalyptic Genre
Character-Driven Stories AND Action-Driven Stories
Great Characters, including Secondary Cast
Slow-Developing Romance with No Love Triangle
Butt-Kicking Female Main Characters
Julie Kagawa, because she is awesome.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
is currently available for purchase.

**I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Harlequin Teen and NetGalley!

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Do you plan to read
THE IMMORTAL RULES?
Have you already read it? 
(Have you sworn off vampires?)

Tell me! I want to know! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: ANTONY JOHN!


YOU GUYS!  

I have a real treat for you today! 

If you've been reading my blog lately, you may have noticed
that I've been excited about the Southern Book Tour over at Richard's blog... 

I want to share a guest post from none other than 
ANTONY JOHN 
that has my heart all aflutter!

You guys may know him from his Contemporary YA books
but did you know he has a FANTASY coming out this Fall? 
AND it is set in Coastal NC? Right here, on NC's own Outer Banks?? 
THAT makes this Southern heart go pitter-patter, you guys! 

So I emailed Antony John and asked him if he would share a little bit about
why he chose the incredible Outer Banks of NC as a setting
for his upcoming departure from contemporary YA, Elemental
This is what he said:

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In 1996, I moved to the States for grad school; specifically, Durham, NC, where I did a Ph.D. at Duke. School may have been the lure, but I quickly discovered that North Carolina was the most beautiful place I’d ever been. I lived there until 2002, then spent 2003 teaching at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. By the time I moved to Seattle in 2003, I had developed a fascination with the Carolinas that will never go away.



In particular, I wanted to set a book there—one in which the awesome beauty of the land and the dramatic weather patterns would be thematic, not just illustrative. Several years later, I got my chance when my editor at Dial expressed interest in a fantasy trilogy I’d proposed, called ELEMENTAL. The first novel is set on the Outer Banks. Here’s why I chose that setting . . .


One of the hardest—if not the hardest—element of writing a fantasy novel is worldbuilding. And to me, an integral part of that is setting. These are my earliest brainstorming notes for ELEMENTAL:
  • Elements: Teens can control elements - must make this dynamic and cool. 
  • Setting: OBX - Roanoke / Hatteras. Nautical history; shipwrecks; lighthouses; Lost Colony; hurricanes etc etc
Notice which of those lines is longer? Yup, the one about setting.


See, to me, the Outer Banks are a somewhat mystical place. On most coasts, you stare out at a (presumably) wide expanse of ocean. But on Hatteras Island, you stare out at the Atlantic (to the east) and the Roanoke Sound (to the west). On cloudy days, the sound itself can appear almost like an ocean, so that you feel as though you're standing on the last strip of earth on an otherwise watery planet. (Okay, so that's a little whimsical, but if you've been there, you'll know what I mean.)


Ocean to the east, Sound to the west
But there's more to it than that. For all their popularity as a tourist destination, the Outer Banks are just remote enough to have withstood some of the horrific overdevelopment suffered by other coastal areas. Go off-season, and it's not impossible to imagine the area as it must have appeared to John White and his colonists when they established their ill-fated colony in 1587. It is, in other words, a timeless place.


Hurricane Irene hammered
NC's Outer Banks on
August 27, 2011
It's also a place where kayaks can seemingly disappear into maze-like waterways, and land becomes marsh in a single step. The region has its own ecosystem. Because the terrain is constantly in flux (hurricanes, in particular, can invalidate maps overnight), the area is perfect for a fantasy novel. Need to adjust the landscape? No problem. Need to recreate the look of the island? Again, no problem. Nature does it all the time.


Every fantasy novel has a hook, or some aspect that drives our imagination. On the surface, my hook is that the teens can manipulate the elements—earth, water, wind, and fire. But in deciding how they control the elements, and to what end, I thought very hard about the Outer Banks, and what it would be like to grow up in a tiny, remote colony, untouched by the rest of human kind. I realized that someone with the element of water would have less use for creating a tsunami than for reading the shifting tides, and the predicting the impact of storm swells. Those who grow up on small islands have a unique relationship with land and water, I believe, and this book gave me the chance to incorporate fantastical elements within a setting that is both striking, and yet recognizably real world.


Of course, I take some creative license. You won’t find mention of Pamlico Sound, just Roanoke Sound, because I didn’t want to confuse readers. I’ve tried to simplify geography a little, so that readers aren’t forced to consistently refer to a map. But my hope is that as people read the book, they’ll be transported to a place that feels both awe-inspiring and familiar . . . and maybe even be inspired to visit!

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Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family. 




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Antony John has very generously offered
one very lucky reader a Signed ARC of Elemental
You guys, YOU WANT THIS. 
The Rafflecopter form for this ARC is on Richard's blog

To Enter the GIVEAWAY for the 
SIGNED ARC of ELEMENTAL
click HERE!

Please makes sure to leave a comment here and/or on 
Richard's blog to thank Antony John for stopping by! 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

BLOG TOUR! Clockwise by Elle Strauss & GIVEAWAY!

Tour Hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews

Welcome to today's stop on the 
CLOCKWISE Official Blog Tour! 

Clockwise (Clockwise #1) 
by Elle Strauss
Publish Date:  November 21, 2011

My Source:  review copy from the author 
Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she’s accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward.

Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just “brotherly” protectiveness?

When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.

Which of course, she does. -(summary from Goodreads.com)

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

My Thoughts:  Casey Donovan is an average girl with an average crush on the hottest guy in school. While dancing with Nate at a school dance, she accidentally "trips" back into the past and brings Nate with her. Clockwise is Elle Strauss' take on time-travel and it was really fun! 

Casey has been 'tripping' - or, traveling back in time - to the same area of Massachusetts since she was nine years old. She isn't sure what causes it or how long she'll be staying once she gets there. She just knows that it is always the same place and it is always 1860. Because of this, Casey has learned to adapt to both her present life and the life she lives while in 1860. She has become acclimated to that culture - the dress code, etiquette, things like that - and keeps a hidden stash of appropriate clothing and survival items hidden so she can be ready to change out of her "present-day" clothing when she trips, as it is always unexpected. Casey is strong and feisty, independent and prepared. I love her take-charge attitude and the way she is sure of herself. Well, she's sure of herself in aspects of her life that don't concern Nate...


Nate is your typical high school hottie - plays tons of sports, dates the most beautiful girl in school, and is at the top of every girl's wish list. Casey can't believe her good fortune when he asks her dance but is humiliated when she finds out it was a dare. She's further humiliated when she brings Nate back in time, but she doesn't really have time to dwell on this as Nate is NOT cut out to live in the past. He doesn't know the things to say, the way to act, or to stay out of the political discussions of the time - which, coincidentally, happen to be hot-button issues like slavery. Their dynamic is often hilarious as Casey teaches Nate the ways of 1860 and often has to get him out of little messes that he gets himself into when he says the wrong thing or acts inappropriately for the time period. 


It is fun to read Nate and Casey together - for the most part. What I mean is that while they are in the past, Nate is not such a bad guy. He and Casey actually get to know each other and could - gasp! - even be called friends. But when they travel back to present time, Nate forgets that Casey exists. This is hard for Casey and stings a little for us because - let's face it, if you're a gal and you're reading this - you KNOW that feeling. Still, Nate is super likable. Also...Nate and Casey actually travel back to 1860 several times and while Casey doesn't necessarily realize it, readers can tell that Nate is kinda-maybe-pretty much-definitely falling for her. This happens, of course, over the course of all of these trips and is cute. Overall, the romance aspect of Clockwise is a little bit predictable but I'm absolutely okay with that because it's really lovable and fun to read. PLUS the time-traveling factor adds twists and turns to this romance that make it unique and I love it when an author puts a fresh spin on things. 


Sidenote: The nerd in me really loves American History. Like, I REALLY love American History...so to be able to read pieces of the 1860's and even the 1960's in Clockwise without feeling like I was reading a textbook is pretty awesome. I love the characters from these times and I think they represented their respective eras well. I love the descriptions of the clothing, homes, and culture-norms. I loved reading about Nate and Casey facing important cultural issues during the past (slavery, segregation, etc.) and then seeing how they responded and thought-processed the changes that have been made/are being made in the present. This was under-the-surface of the main story enough to know that it was there but not enough that it overshadowed the time-traveling and romance. 


Overall, you guys, I think Clockwise was fun and read-worthy. It was light and easy and fun and quick. Even though the romance was a tad bit cliche, sometimes this gal likes that! I found myself reading faster and pulling for the duo when they found themselves in troubling situations and I loved the ending. I would recommend this book for readers of all ages and am excited to soon see where Elle Strauss takes Casey's story in the next book, Clockwiser.

Clockwise will appeal to fans of


Time Travel
Romance - No Love Triangle
Stories containing History: 1860's & 1960's America
Quick pacing  
Suitable for readers of all ages

Clockwise by Elle Strauss is currently available for purchase.
**For the duration of this blog tour, 
Elle has lowered the price of Clockwise to $.99!**

**I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you, Elle! 

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For my Tour Stop and as a Special Treat for us, 
Author Elle Strauss has shared this EXCERPT from Clockwise
THE COTS CREAKED WHEN we sat on them. We faced each other across the small room like two combatants before the gun blows. And it was worse than that. Despite the grueling hike and the baggy trousers and the tense expression on his face, Nate was still adorable. How would I manage sharing a room with Nate? This was so awkward! 
"Start talking," he said. 
"What do you want me to say?"
His left eyebrow inched up.
"Okay. I told you from the beginning, I did some time traveling."
"Yeah, an unusual hobby."
"Do you want me to talk or what?"
I took it by his silence and dark shade of his blue-eyed stare that he did. "Sometimes, I travel, but," I lightened my voice, "I always go back."
"Back to when?"
"Right back to where I left. No one will even notice you've been gone."
"That's good. Jessica would be so ticked if I took off without telling her." 
I winced. Evil Jessica Fuller. I'd forgotten about her here. The one good thing about traveling is that I don't have to deal with her.
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Now for the GIVEAWAY! 
Elle has generously provided 
one eBook copy of CLOCKWISE
for One Lucky Winner! 

Giveaway Information 
  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter. 
  • Deadline for entry is Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
  • This contest is open to Everyone
  • Following this blog is not required, but appreciated!
  • Fill out this form to enter:

Form removed at the conclusion of the contest! 
Winner has been notified!
Thanks for entering!


The winner will be determined using Random.org and notified via email. 
The winner will then have 48 hours to respond. 
Good luck! 

*************************************************************************
YOU GUYS!

Each tour stop is hosting a Giveaway this week!
Every stop is giving away a different title from 
Elle's writing group, The Indelibles.
I've read some of these books and they are AWESOME. 


See the Blog Tour Schedule HERE 
to enter to win each a different book at each site!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

...On Guest Posts & Giveaways

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of reading and loving 

by Genevieve Graham 
You guys, I loved that book.
It's a historical fiction/romance
that has a twist of paranormal
awesome characters
a slow-burn romance 
no love triangle
beautiful language
& a rich setting consisting of the Scottish Highlands
and the Southern US, namely the Carolinas!


Well...lucky gal that I am, 
I've now had the privilege to share my thoughts about 
Under the Same Sky on blogger pal Richard's blog.

You can read My Thoughts on Under the Same Sky 
on Richard's blog HERE as part of the 
Southern Book Tour 2012
(hint: it isn't exactly the same review as the one from my blog)

But wait! There's more! 

Since the Southern Book Tour is Southern-themed
Genevieve wrote an awesome Guest Post about 
why she is a Canadian author yet she chose 
to set this series in the Southern US! 
(the Carolinas, you guys! my backyard!) 

But wait again! There's still more! 

For those of you that entered the Giveaway on THIS blog
for the SIGNED copy of Under the Same Sky but did not win, 
Genevieve Graham has graciously offered one yet again
 So...head over to Richard's blog HERE, check out Genevieve's guest post, 
leave her some nice thoughts, and enter her giveaway
for a SIGNED copy of Under the Same Sky

Genevieve Graham is a lovely gal, you guys. 
She's written a lovely book in Under the Same Sky
Book Two, Sound of the Heart, hits shelves in just DAYS
I. Am. So. Excited. 

Not only am I THRILLED to be a part of Richard's Southern Book Tour 
but I'm THRILLED to be talking about Under the Same Sky
because it is a scrumptious book with scrumptious characters
and a lovely, lovely Southern setting

Do me a favor and go check out my post and Genevieve's post. 
And enter the giveaway if you are a resident of the US/Canada! 
Be sure to leave some warm comments. 

ALSO, in case you've missed it: 
Richard has giveaways up for books by

(I have it on good authority there will be more before the month is up.)
Y'all, check these giveaways out. They're good ones!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin SWAG GIVEAWAY!

Masque of the Red Death
by Bethany Griffin
Published by HarperCollins 

Publish Date:  April 24, 2012

320 Pages

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her. -(summary from Goodreads.com)

YOU GUYS! 

I loved Bethany Griffin's Masque of the Red Death. I was fortunate enough to read it earlier this year and devoured it. It was an awesome mash-up of steampunk, apocalyptic/ dystopian, and romance. It was creepy and dark and thrilling and had a place called the Debauchery Club that was one of my favorite settings in a book in a long time. In fact, this entire book had some of the best settings I've read in a while. The world-building was insanely good and it was just entirely well-crafted. 

I'm a sucker for something excellent, and it's all right here. As I said in my review: "Contagions, steampunk, mean villains, debauchery...it just had plenty of things that make me want to read more. " I'm so excited for for the release of Masque of the Red Death today and I'm already impatient to read the next part of the story!


(You can read my review HERE.)

THE SWAG!

To celebrate the release of her book, Bethany  Griffin was kind enough to send me some swag to send to YOU! I have one bracelet and two bookmarks to share with two of you guys. 


The bracelet says:
"I am beautiful, fake, shallow, incognito..."
Masque of the Red Death ~ Bethany Griffin
Giveaway Details
  • One person will receive the bracelet and a bookmark. 
  • One person will receive a bookmark. 
Giveaway Information:  
  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter. 
  • Deadline for entry is Monday April 30, 2012.
  • This contest is open to Everyone
  • Following this blog is not required, but appreciated!

For a chance to grab this swag, fill out this form: 

Form removed at the conclusion of the contest! 
Winners have been notified! 
Thanks for entering!

Good Luck!

Ten-ish of My Favorite Book Characters!

Click HERE to enter my GIVEAWAY for 
an ARC of ASCEND by Amanda Hocking! 
INTERNATIONAL, you guys! Ends 4/28.

Click HERE to check out Top Ten Tuesday 
at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten All Time 
Favorite Book Characters
(or at least some of them)


1. Iorek Byrnison 
I'm not normally the biggest fan of personified animals, 
but I want Iorek to be my best friend. Not joking.

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2. Katsa
Katsa is not the only butt-kicking female on my list. 
She is awesome, fierce, and mighty. 
She's also handy with weapons!

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3. Ramona Geraldine Quimby
Ramona is the coolest kid ever. She made me feel less bad about 
everything stupid I did because she did it first. I still re-read these books. 

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4. Prince Ash
Meet my fictional faery boyfriend, Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn, 
the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court.
We're in love. He just doesn't know it yet. 

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5. Shadow
I really don't know what else to say except this is
one of my favorite characters EVER. 

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6. Kvothe
Are you kidding me? Kvothe has stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. He's burned down the town of Trebon. He's spent the night with Felurian and left with both his sanity and his life. He was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people have been allowed in. He's tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. He has talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that have made minstrels weep
He may or may not own my heart right now. 

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7. Percy Jackson 
Puh-leez! As if Percy WOULDN'T be on my list! Whatever. 
Mythology plus an awesome middle-grader. 
Yes, please! 
MIDDLE GRADE FOREVER!  

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8. Hermione Granger
Y'all, she is so BOOKISH. 

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9. The Black Dagger Brotherhood
Okay, technically this is cheating. This is really like a whole 
group of characters. But they're all really awesome and hot. 
I'm allowed this one spot on the countdown for this group of dudes. 
Because, like many others, I get squeally when another of these characters
gets a book/life of his own. 

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10. Lisbeth Salander
This is the VERY DEFINITION of a butt-kicking female character. 
She's small but mighty. She's smart...WAY SMARTER THAN YOU AND ME. 
People have hurt her, and they will pay. 

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** Todd Hewitt **
I love you, Todd. Forever. 
And I love that you love Viola. 

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I had to leave some off of my list 
because it would have been too long! 
Matilda, Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls...

Who are YOUR all-time favorite characters? 



 
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