How to Read All Day (And Get Away with It)

The world at large has an annoying tendency to - you know - exist. This can get in the way of reading, as most of us know only too well, and some days are just made for books and nothing else. In order to allow us all to survive this sort of thing, I have put together a step-by-step protocol which I think is pretty much foolproof, as long as you are motivated enough.


Step #1 - Get what you need done, done. 
Between twelve and twenty-four hours before your planned 'I need to read now day', make sure you get everything absolutely necessary (homework, music practice etc.) out of the way. Don't schedule book days when you know you'll be doing something awesome. Basically, if you would feel guilty about not having done it, then the best bookworms would obviously complete the task perfectly first with infallible restraint. (I am not one of these perfect bookworms, don't panic. You can always pretend to be working and read instead.)

If you can stick to this rule, hopefully, your reading interrupters loved ones won't have a good reason to haul you out of your book nest, and guilt won't pull you out either.


Step #2 - Choose your book(s). And choose wisely.
Sometimes, a day-long read might consist of reading one book from cover to cover, maybe quite a big one, and that's all well and good, but what if you fall out with the characters? What if the author does something you expressly told them not to do? And what if it ends too quickly?


Never fear, bookworms, there is an easy solution. Just get a massive pile of books.

My favourite time to hunker down and play the 'give me a break card' has always been just after Christmas - about now in fact - purely because I have a beautiful pile to devour. If you want to choose a lot, then maybe go for a series, or a couple of different genres, so the stories don't start to feel samey.

Step #3 - Being ill helps.
If you have to stay home from school sick, or refuse to leave your room because my nose feels like it's about to explode, adults will usually have more sympathy for your book binge. They might even bring snacks and stuff.

Of course, timing illness to match your planned reading extravaganza is nigh on impossible, so you have two options. Firstly, you could keep a 'book day emergency kit' to break open when you are sick, but we all know that we're unlikely to resist books Just Sitting There for that long. You could also pretend to be ill but if anyone asks, I thought better of that. It's crossed out, see? *wink wink*

If you are going to fake an illness, going against all the advice I just gave you, naturally, then don't tell everyone you're planning to read for the whole day and then get 'poorly'. Parents usually see through that (I mean, I've heard).

Step #4 - Make sure your supply of supplies isn't under-supplied.
Book binges are marathons, not sprints, and you're never going to be able to do all the reading you want without properly sourced food and drink. If your live-in minions loved ones are refusing to deliver freshly-baked cookies and the like, then go to the kitchen and make yourself something before you dive into your book.

There's nothing worse than having to put a book down for no other reason than the rebellion of your stomach.

Step #5 - READ! ALL DAY!
Turn off your phone. If someone tries to speak to you, spout elvish or parseltoungue at them until they go away.

If all these steps are followed correctly, all interactions during Operation Read All Day should go something like this:

Me: *Reading furiously.*

Mum: Lara, are you going to come out of your room today?

Me: Um . . . no. I have . . . a cold *sniffles*

Mum: Aww, I'm sorry, but you do have homework to do. What about that Geography project? And the revision for the Science test?

Me: Done.

Mum: And French Horn practice? You've got that concert, don't forget.

Me: I did two sessions yesterday. It's all covered.

Mum: O. . .kay. I won't pretend not to be suspicious.

Mum: {to Dad} It's fine. She'll come out when she's hungry.

Me: *selects next book while picking up another cookie* Mwa ha ha.

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Christmas Book Haul (A.K.A. THANK YOU PRESENT-GIVERS)

My friends and family are officially the most amazing people ever. After my birthday and Christmas this year, I have gathered a total of ten books with a few more family members to see, and that makes me the most lucky person ever. Thank you everyone for your brilliant presents, and be safe in the knowledge that you can always keep me more than happy with books.

So, who wants to see what I got?

Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne 
★★★★★ (Already Finished)
The sheer speed at which I managed to finish this should tell you how much I loved it, and to be honest you just have to read it. Now and without pausing for breath.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
★★★★☆ (In Progress)
I've only withheld a star here because I'm halfway through and have a feeling that this ending is going to get pretty complicated. Good complicated, I'm sure, but my poor, tiny brain tends to scream in pain at this sort of thing - I'll have to survive if I want to know what happens to Cinder, and ERK I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!

I love this kind of retelling, because it's just different enough from the original fairytale that I can't quite predict how things are going to go down. And, frankly, stuff will go down. I can tell.


Modern Family: Wit and Wisdom from America's Favourite Family
(Non-Fiction)
I am very, very obsessed with Modern Family - mostly because Alex Dunphy is effectively me - and it's one of the few things I'm a fan of that hasn't been brought up on this blog yet. The brilliance of this little tome lies in the fact that it is filled with quotes, and that means I'll have even more material to parrot at my parents even though they've already seen it.

Huzzah!

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
☆ (Two pages in . . .)
. . . and it's already really, really interesting.

I'm a sucker for anything told in a non-conventional manner, and the emails between Beth and Jennifer are pure genius. They sound like I hope my friends and I will when we finally grow up.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Illustrated by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
★★★★★
It's Harry Potter and it's beautiful and it's huge and MINE. ALL MINE! I haven't read this edition all the way through yet, because I'm terrified of doing something horrible that will make it not beautiful (you should see how many food stains most of my books have) and it is therefore under armed guard.

I have, however, opened it for long enough to gawk at the flawless illustrations - there are small images on almost every page and the whole thing is peppered with the most amazing double-page spreads. There are even a couple of original pieces of information from J.K. Rowling herself, and . . . wow.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
(Not Started Yet)
I have heard literally two things about this book, and know very little about it other than these two things. To be fair, I don't need to know anything more to think it'll be fantastic.

1) It is about being ordinary. Anti-chosen-one. And the idea sounds brilliantly unique.
2) There is diversity. Diversity on its own doesn't make a book, but when it's teamed with a capable plotline, I will probably love the resulting wormhole of awesomeness

I also got The Knife of Never Letting Go by this author, and I'm going in with even less information. It's almost thrilling (almost)!

Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens
(Not Started Yet)
The friend who recommended this book is an expert in the boarding-school-mystery sort of thing, and before all else I trust her judgement. It's the sort of thing that I tend to attack between weepy books, to spare my tear ducts if anything else, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy it. Or weep - you never know. . .

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece and Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher
(Not Started Yet)
Ketchup Clouds was so, so gorgeous, and it looks like the elements I loved in that were key elements of the author's style. That means GET ME ALL THE BOOKS THIS GENIUS HAS EVER WRITTEN EVER.

Sorry. Insert anything the tiniest bit traumatic in a book and I get weirdly excited: take the opportunity to back away slowly.

***
I'm sure there are a few more books on the way - there might even be the odd one I've forgotten in the Christmas rush, and this is terrible - but if I ramble any more you'll all get sick of me. I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and what does your haul look like?
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Words for a Wednesday: A Christmas Carol

I don't know if you've realised, but CHRISTMAS IS TWO DAYS AWAY! And I'm very, very excited.

Charles Dickens, as evidenced by effectively the whole of A Christmas Carol, was also very excited about this. The entire book is filled with chestnuts and snow and cobbled streets: in fact, he is credited with creating the modern festive season (or, at least, the image of it) through that wordy concentration of Christmas spirit. In fact, I figured there was no better source to revive Words for a Wednesday than this epitome of Yuletide joy.


I told you I got excited around Christmas. But where was I?

The book itself was pretty easy to choose, seeing as we've been studying it at school. but choosing an individual quote? That proved to be a lot more tricky. I could have gone for the good old, traditional "God bless us, everyone." but everyone's heard of that. Personally, I prefer this one, which is part of the narrator's wry observations when describing Scrooge's nephew Fred and his Christmas celebrations, because it just makes good sense:

"There is nothing in this world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour."
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Think about it for a second. If two people were trying to convince me of something, I'm naturally inclined to go with the positive person, the one who makes me laugh or feel good about the world. This is because everyone wants to feel good about the world, and that's why a lot of us love Christmas.

I believe that we could all get a bit further in our lives if we remembered the absolute 'contagious' power of laughter. People like Scrooge are only grumpy because people aren't happy enough around them, and then people don't dare be happy around them because they're so grumpy. Negativity is a vicious cycle; we need to fight it with love, and sparkles, and . . . sorry.


I got a tiny bit My Little Pony there, so I need to say that I'm not a complete innocent. I don't have my head buried in the sand, and I know that there are terrible things going on in the world. Terrorism. Poverty. Abuse. But if we're positive about what humanity and compassion can do if we all think co-operatively and positively (and then do all we can to help instead of just thinking about it) then maybe, just maybe, we might be able to make this world a bit of a brighter place.

I leave you with this video, just proving how good humour between people can be the catalyst in building a better world. Hopefully, I've managed to make your day a good one, and remind you that we can all spread positivity with the help of Charles Dickens. Thanks Charlie *mic drop*.


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10 Presents With Which to Present a Bookworm

So, my #Shelfie post took so long to write that I think my brain may have literally scrambled. Luckily for me, it's Christmas, so Dad can untangle it along with the fairy lights . . . or I could just write a post about bookwormy presents.

Yeah. That might be less painful.

There has always been one easy gift to get a bookworm at Christmas - books, duh - but they aren't as easy as they look. There's always a chance that your tame book lover has read it, and . . . that would be awkward. If you'd prefer a book-related gift with a bit of a twist, then here are some ideas. As long as you don't mind ordering online, there's a lot out there:

#1 - This All-Too-True Quote print
Literary Print via NotOnTheHighStreet.com - £24.95 with frame
This is a beautiful little page-sized print that would be perfect for the classic book lover (it's from Little Women) or someone who goes a little crazy over their books. Or both. Preferably both.

I'd also recommend this as a brilliant gift for anyone who's redecorating practically any room in their house, or complains that their walls are bare, or whatever. It could also be a subtle hint for anyone you think is reading too much - just don't expect them to change . . .

#2 - The Best-Smelling Candle in All the World
Old Books Candle via the Frostbeard Etsy Shop - £12.36
If you're anything like me, the best smell in all of the natural world is quite obviously an old book. It's like vanilla and knowledge and heaven and I feel like I'm getting smarter just by breathing in that aroma. Next time you see me smelling a revision guide, you'll know why.

Scented candles are supposed to be relaxing, and trust me, non-bookworms - this is just the ticket. And you can check the rest of the store for more biblophile-related scents . . .

#3 - Did Someone Say Harry Potter?
Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone via Amazon.com - £15.00
I am aware that I said these were going to be non-book gifts, but just look at it. LOOK AT IT - this has to be more than a book, surely? And you don't have to worry about the object of your gift affections already owning it, because if they did, it would have been shoved in your face or raved about at you by now.

This gift is perfect for your favourite Potter fan, especially if you know they're into illustration and 'dat. Just don't assume that all bookworms know their Hogwarts from their house elves (sorry Briony, we do this to you loads) . . .

#4 - Let's go old school.
It might be a bit left field, but typewriters are so quirky and literary that most bookworms secretly want one. If your pet worm is one of the traditionalists, or writes as well as reading, then I think it's ideal - the only reason I haven't included a link here is because you've got to dig around on Etsy and eBay to find a good one.
Alice in Wonderland Typewriter earrings via The Literary Gift Company - £16.00

And if, for whatever reason, a full-on typewriter is a bit over the top for your purposes, then you could always try related accessories, like the earrings above. But after a while, I managed to find a proper one for as little as £12.99, so the real thing might actually be less expensive.


#5 - For the Grammar Grumblers.
Grammar Grumbler's Mug No.5 via The Literary Gift Company
A lot of Most bookworms love a hot drink of some kind, and - trust me on this - you can't just start reading a book without drinks and snacks planned. If the person you need a present for has a habit of correcting your grammer, and, punctuation (I was trying to annoy them, but I'm growling now. Never exploit your own weakness.) then these mugs might just be the only thing missing from their reading experience.

(I say mugs because there's a range. Have a quick look around on the site.)

#6 - It's ALL MINE.
Personalised Library Book Stamp via NotOnTheHighStreet.com - £29.50
If you've ever had the misfortune of falling on the wrong side of a bookworm, you'll know how possessive most of us are about our books. It makes sense that we would love anything that allows us to lay claim to them, so just BUY ME ONE PLEASE.

Sorry, did I say me? I meant - um - your planned bookworm recipient.

There are all kinds of lovely stampers out there, personalised or with spaces for whoever you choose to write their name: don't shy away from this idea if you don't like the design above.

#7 - Tickets to the BEST DAY EVER

If you don't mind waiting awhile for your gift to pay off, then you could always get them tickets to a book festival - that way, they get to have a whole day of fun, and you can come too!

Which event you go for depends on where you live and when you're reading this, but I loved Write on Kew and the Hay Festival come highly recommended. I don't know if tickets are on sale now though...

#8 - First Place
A first edition of a beloved book, maybe from their childhood, might be tricky to find and expensive if it's older, but Chandler from Friends found out how it's worth it. If you get that reference.

If you want to track down anything, this website might help. http://www.abebooks.co.uk/books/first-printing-collectible-modern-books/first-editions.shtml

#9 - Because Book Glamour is A Thing
Mini Book Necklace via Paper Fury - £4.95
It's no secret that I adore Cait from Paper Fury anyway, but it turns out she's an amazing Etsy seller as well as blogger. HOW IS ALL THIS TALENT POSSIBLE?

Ahem. Cait's necklaces are a sight to behold. She makes them look like real books, and - well - don't they look lovely? You can choose from a range on the website, or pick your own, but the latter means the spine might not be decorated. It'll still make your tame book lover more glamorous than they ever dreamed.

and finally . . .

#10 - This
Men's or Women's T-Shirt via Redbubble.com - £17.63

'Nuff said.

***

Do you guys have any suggestions I missed? And what do you want for Christmas or whichever holiday you're celebrating?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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It's #Shelfie Time!

I've wanted to write this post for aaagggeesss, but only now has my book photography reached the point when it's just about passable, so I hope you guys enjoy it. After all, it's #Shelfie time!


I know there are a couple of different versions of the Shelfie Tag out there, but I've completely lost track of who made this one. Sorry - whoever you are, good job.

Describe your bookshelf.


I've somehow ended up with a massive array of books, so, naturally, I also have a wide array of bookshelves.

At least, wideish. Three whole bookshelves is quite a lot, right? I share two - one in the dining room and one on the upstairs landing - with my parents, and the one photographed is my own personal story-holding mechanism, situated opposite my bed so I can stare at its amazingness.

(You can't really see on this picture, because I struggled with the angle, but my top two shelves are piled precariously with hardback nonfiction books. If I ever disappear, they have finally crushed me.)

How do you organise your books?


You think I organise my books? You, whoever wrote these questions, have so much misplaced faith in me. Sorry about this, but other than making sure my series / authors are together, my books just go wherever I put them.

I'm such a crazy rebel.

What's the thickest / biggest book on your shelf?


Thickest is most certainly my Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, because it contains seven. Books. The only reason it isn't much thicker is the use of weirdly thin pages, like in dictionaries or religious texts.

My biggest book is probably one of those vast hardbacks I mentioned: they would be my weapon of choice in The Hunger Games if flaming arrows weren't available. Yes, I can shoot a flaming arrow. It's awesome and I can totally help you guys out with the apocalypse.

What's the thinnest book on your shelf?



Apparently, I Spy (On a Car Journey in France). It's pretty self-explanatory - I basically get bored when driving through France.

Is there a book you received as a birthday gift?



I can't exactly remember. This might seem very short-sighted of me, but when one has a birthday on Christmas Eve, birthday and Christmas presents kind of mix together. Last year's haul was, therefore, so huge that I can't even fit it all in one photo, so I've used this one of Hoot by Carl Hiaasen because I liked the film grain.

Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?


I can't quite get the #BookThroughPhone angle right, but here you go anyway.

Just a few. No-one knows what else to buy me for any sort of special occasion, so I get books constantly. Not that I'm complaining.  Books are awesome and I love getting them from my awesome friends who have awesome ideas for what I'm going to like.

I just can't remember exactly who got me what.

Katie definitely got me Ballet Shoes, but there's a few there from Briony, Maya and Carmen too, so thanks guys. You are amazing bookworms and I couldn't have as many books as I do without you.

Most expensive book?

I bought Ruby Redfort: Look into my Eyes (Lauren Child's first Ruby Redfort book) as soon as it came out, and before I had a Kindle. It's a big fat thing and it was very, very, very expensive (at least, it seemed that way at the time). I paid £12.99 and finished it within an hour and a half. TEN PENCE A MINUTE! It's also very, very heavy and threatens to kill my shelf.

The last book you read on your shelf?
I have shared this photo about ten times, but it was my first. I am proud.
All of the Above is so utterly fantastic, especially in its diversity; it's like someone stuffed a rainbow into the confetti cannon of acceptance, and then the fired sequins reformed into an awful lot of stupendously beautiful words. I adore that book so much I've still got a tiny bit of a reading hangover, and I read it two weeks ago.

Plus, look at that cover. Look at it! And that daisy means something . . . I shall say no more. 

Of all the books on your shelf, what was the first one you read?

That is a very very tough one, because I've been reading for as long as I can remember and the first book was probably before that. I do know that the first book I read in my head (as in, without speaking the words) was Ruby the Red Fairy from the Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows. I absolutely adored those books, but have since been forced talked into giving them to younger relatives, so the only one I have left to photograph is Lara the Black Cat Fairy.

That one came out way after I stopped trying to own them all (there are over two hundred) but it bears my name and I just had to have it.

Do you have more than one copy of a book?



There was a point - aged about seven  - when I owned three seperate copies of Matilda by Roald Dahl, all with different cover art. I swear this was not on purpose; someone decided that I liked books and I should read a book about a girl that liked book. They then gave me that book.

Repeat twice and you get the idea. I eventually gave the two extras away because I had very little shelf space, but our house will never forget the tale of the triple Matilda.

Do you have a complete series?



Hello, my dearest Harry Potter treasures (I would stroke them and say "my precious"* but that'd be mixing my fandoms). DO NOT CROSS THE STREAMS**!

Oh, crud. This is about to get confusing.

It's elementary, my dear Watson*** - I love Harry Potter, possibly more than my own family. Faction before blood**** and all that. Also, that shelf is mahogany******. Have I thrown in enough references?

*- The Lord of the Rings
**- Ghostbusters
*** - Sherlock Holmes
****- Divergent
***** - The Hunger Games

I do own The Chamber of Secrets - don't think I'm cheating here. It's just on loan to one of my dearest friends (have you finished it yet, Lili?).

What's the newest addition to your shelf?



That would be the books I bought in London two weeks ago, and I've already talked about All of the Above, so we are left with Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. I'll post the review once I've actually written it, but basically - you should read the book before you read the companion volume.

You should also know that the companion volume's a companion volume.

What's been on your shelf FOREVER?


I'm pretty sure most of the picture books I've inexplicably kept have been in my possession longer than that shelf. They've been in their places on the downstairs bookshelf for at least a decade (I'm THAT old), judging by the fact that they are very low down, low enough for three-year-old me to reach. I still need my books quite low down, due to the fact I am tiny short.

What's the most recently published book on your shelf?



This is going to make me an awful person, but I can't actually be bothered to go and check. You knew I was lazy *skips question*.

The oldest book on your shelf?


I have a couple of my Mum's old books, but the oldest would probably be a book given to me by her friend, which is called The Blue Door Venture, and was published in 1949. It's. Just. So. Beautiful. And I'm honoured that Claire would give it to me when I'm not part of her family.

Really, truly, thank you.

A book you won?
I HAVE NEVER WON ANY BOOKS! IT'S SO UNFAIR!

*Ahem*

What my inner book tiger was trying to say is that, in the grand scheme of things, I haven't been blogging long, so statistically I am less likely to have won anything yet. 'Tis a shame, but my time will come.

A book you'd hate to let out of your sight? (A.K.A No-one is borrowing it. EVER.)


I will cheat a little here, because it's not a book you can read or the kind I would give to someone else, but I kept a diary for a while, two or three years ago. It contains the usual kind of secrets, of course, but the main reason no-one is borrowing it. EVER is the writing. It's utterly diabolical and an embarrassment to pretty much everyone on earth.

DO NOT READ IT! YOU CAN'T!

Most beat-up book?

Bottersnikes and Gumbles by S.A. Wakefield is falling apart so badly that I actually haven't finished it yet. See that page sticking out in the picture? It fell out as I got the book off the shelf, and every time I try to read it, that happens, and I become too anxious that I might get the pages in the wrong order - or lose some - so I just place it back on the shelf and back away slowly.

And if you think I should just get a newer, you know - readable - copy, I agree, but I actually can't. My Mum read it at school, but it went out of print in the UK and pretty much everywhere else except Australia. I found this at Old Pier Books in Morcambe, which I've already told you is the best second-hand bookshop in all of the world, and it was so cheap I may as well read it sometime. Even if it has to give its life in the process.

Most pristine book?

That would be my signed edition of Nidae's Promise, which was written by Jill Hopkins, a friend of my Grandma's. It's an amazing MG, that's for sure, and when I first read it, age about ten, I refused to believe it was over and started straight from the beginning again.

Twice.

The reason it's so pristine is because I have two copies: my Grandma bought one for me when it first came out, and then after she'd told Jill about me and my writing (yes, my family was embarrassing me even then), she very nicely sent me a signed copy and personalised postcard. Other than to take that photo, I've never even cracked the spine of that one more than two centimetres.

A book from your childhood?

My books are my childhood. (Notice the lack of caps and crazed laughter. I'm serious about this.)

A book that doesn't belong to you?



This is my latest library grab, and I can't comment on it much because life has happened and I'm only about a chapter in. It does look interesting, though. The one thing that annoys me is the title - it's called Shine, and I can barely make a guess with a glance at the cover. Hive? Rhine? Perhaps it's confused because the character feels that way.

A book with a special / different cover? (Fuzzy, leather-bound etc.)
The remote is because this film needs to happen. Now.
Well, none come to mind in that sense, but Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell has the most beautiful cover in the world, so that's special enough for me. I love how it's not over-cluttered, and yet its entire story is there waiting to be discovered, decoded and realised with hindsight. Just like the book.

It's also the tiniest bit 80s (don't you think, with that yellowy-green?), and most of what I adore about Eleanor and Park is its 80s-ness.

A book that's your favourite colour?

My favourite colour has always been purple. I've changed a bit, maybe adding a complementary second favourite colour, like turquoise, or choosing a shade, like lilac, but purple was always in there somewhere. Behold my purple books (I actually have very few.)

A book that's been on your shelf the longest and you still haven't read it?

The original What Katy Did series, by Susan Coolidge (real name Sarah Chaucey Woolsey) is up there, having been given to me at least four years ago, and after deciding I couldn't deal with a classic right at that moment, they went back onto the shelf and stayed there.

I really should try those books at some point, partly because - come on - it should not take that long to get round to a book, but I also want to compare them with the Katy retelling (see below).

To be fair, I haven't finished Katy either. Bad me.

Any signed books?

I actually have quite a few, including books by Anne Fine, Judith Kerr and Gareth P. Jones, but the most beautiful one was The Gruffalo's Child, signed by illustrator Axel Schleffler. My amazing parents queued up with me for four hours (queueing for more than twenty minutes with a two year old deserves some sort of award). It took so long because he drew an individual cartoon for everyone, and I love mine.

I'm also very proud that I even managed to get hold of Katy by Jacqueline Wilson at Write On Kew, because there were a limited number of copies and they were only giving out one per group. That thing should have been marched out with an armed guard.

Sorry, everyone who didn't get one. Be safe in the knowledge that it went to a good home.

***
Whew! That was one long tag! If you guys have been wondering what took me so long to update, I have been working on this for weeks. Seriously. I tag Carmen, the first of my IRL friends to start a blog (isn't it exciting!) so she can get cracking.

Everyone read her stuff. She's a sassy ball of music and books and a tiny bit of drama queen-ness.

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