Connect Five Friday – 2022 Book Challenges


It’s time once again for Connect Five Friday, hosted at Book Date by Kathryn – the meme where we share five book/reading things that connect in some way.


I love reading challenges and I participate in a number of them. I’m still trying to finish some of them but hope to by the end of December. I love the challenge of finding a book that meets criteria for categories from at least a couple of the challenges. And, I have read many books that I normally never would, leading to finding new authors I now enjoy.

Many of these challenges are already posting their new challenges for 2022. Here are 5 I hope to participate in. Why not join in the fun? (Popsugar is my favourite challenge but they normally don’t post their new version til December.)


52 Books 52 Weeks.

I’ve done this for a number of years now and really like the variety in their categories. They now have their own blog – here.

Check here for their guide which even gives suggestions for each of the 52 categories.


While I was Reading 2022 Reading Challenge

This is hosted by Ramona Mead and has 12 categories.


Beyond the Bookends Reading Challenge 2022

Each month they post a different genre or category. Another fun one. Check here.


Memoir Reading Challenge 2022

They provide a list of options and you read as many memoirs as you want, with a minimum 5 to participate. Check here


Diversify Your Reading Challenge 2022

Again, this is a monthly challenge, with a new genre posted each month.


There are several other challenges although I am not sure I will participate. They look to be quite challenging:

Booklist Queen 2022 – 52 books to read

The Nerdy Bookworm 50 Books a Year Reading Challenge


There are a few places which give a master list of challenges for the year.

GirlXOXO provides a very complete list of challenges but it hasn’t started yet.

Janie Ghione has  been posting about the coming 2022 reading challgenes for several weeks now. Cheek here  other challenges I haven’t posted about.


Guest Post by Neill McKee – as Part of the WOW Blog Tour “Kid On the Go”


I am honoured to be part of the WOW! Women of Writing Blog Tour for  Neill McLee’s book Kid on the Go

Today Neill is visiting my blog to share his wonderful guest post “ Writing a Memoir About My Hometown”

Welcome Neill!

Writing a Memoir About My Hometown
I left my hometown, Elmira, Ontario, Canada, in 1965 for university and have only returned for brief visits with family since that time. On the one hand, I have fond memories of my 19 years in this place that served as the foundation of my life, and determined the direction I’d take. On the other hand, I recall an industrially-polluted environment that often stank from the production of chemicals such as DDT, the insecticide that is the basis of Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking book, Silent Spring, as well as the herbicides—2,4-D, then known to us as “Weed Bane” and the stronger 2,4,5-T, marketed as “Brush Bane.” This chemical pollution, stinks from many other factories, including a slaughterhouse, and the aroma of manure from nearby Old Order Mennonite farms and their horses in town, provide factors for my repeated attempts “to escape” to more pleasant places, imaginary or real—an underlying theme of my book told with humor and my own illustrations. Ultimately, I do leave for the verdant Island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.

easterly winds      old ben

Easterly winds brought chemical “gifts”                                     Old Ben’s never ending clean-up job

When I began to look back at my years in Elmira, I discovered that in the early 60s, the town’s chemical factory was making those same two herbicides as ingredients of the U.S. Army’s infamous “Agent Orange”—an instrument of death, genetic defects in fetuses, long-lasting illnesses and effects on the environment of Vietnam and Laos. Like most people in town, I knew nothing about this at the time. Today, most residents of Elmira don’t want to dwell on this history, or the fact that the town had to close down its deep-water wells around 1990, due to decades of chemical seepage into the soil. Since that time, water has been piped in from the nearby City of Waterloo.

The population has expanded from around 3,000 in the early-50s, to about 12,000 today. The chemical factory is still present, but with more environmental regulation. Elmira remains a thriving community—not a rust-belt town. I decided to only make a brief mention of Agent Orange in the appropriate chapter since it really was not part of my memory. But I researched the matter thoroughly, reading articles and contacting people who had participated in the clean-up of all the factories past “sins,” and wrote a more thorough treatment in a postscript, along with some other issues I felt readers would like closure on.

After publishing Kid on the Go!, I decided to contact the editor of my hometown’s newspaper. In 2019, his paper had done a good review of my first memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, and I wondered if he would like to do an interview or review on this new memoir—a stand-alone prequel—since it was mainly about living in Elmira from the mid-40s to mid-60s. The editor and I had a chat on the phone and I asked him to review the book. He did so and came out with a pretty fare write-up, although he never mentioned Agent Orange, as I expected. Book sales have gone up and no rotten tomatoes yet!

Non-Fiction November: Week 3 – Become the Expert

This is the third week of Nonfiction November. This week is Expert Week: Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert with Veronica at The Thousand Book Project

I attended an amazing webinar by Laura Morelli, the author of The Stolen Lady on Monday night.

I have the book out from the library and I have started reading it. It highlights the enormous efforts that the curators of the Louvre went to, to protect all their artworks from the Nazis during WWII, but especially the Mona Lisa.

I studied art history at university and have always been drawn to books about art and artists. With this new novel to read and the webinar I watched, I knew I wanted to learn more about the fate of art in France (and Italy for that matter) during the second World War.


Here are several non-fiction books that focus on the whys and hows of saving art from the Nazis, who were determined to collect all the art they could.  (Book summaries from Goodreads)


The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas

“The story told in this superbly researched and suspenseful book is that of the Third Reich’s war on European culture and the Allies’ desperate effort to preserve it. From the Nazi purges of ‘degenerate art’ and Goering’s shopping sprees in occupied Paris to the perilous journey of the ‘Mona Lisa’ from Paris and the painstaking reclamation of the priceless treasures of liberated Italy, The Rape of Europa is a sweeping narrative of greed, philistinism, and heroism that combines superlative scholarship with a compelling drama.”


Saving Mona Lisa by Gerri Chanel

“Throughout the German occupation, the Louvre’s staff fought to keep the priceless treasures out of the hands of Hitler and his henchmen and to keep the Louvre palace safe, many of them risking their jobs and their lives to protect the country’s artistic heritage. Saving Mona Lisa is the sweeping, suspenseful narrative of their battle.
Superbly researched and accompanied by riveting photographs of the period, it is a compelling story of art and beauty, intrigue and ingenuity, and remarkable moral courage in the face of one of the most fearful enemies in history.”


The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

“At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.  In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.”

Check here to read more detail about The Monuments Men



About Italy:

Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel

“Brilliantly researched and vividly written, the New York Times bestselling Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Goring, and Himmler.
An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.”

The Venus Fixers by Ilaria Dagnini Brey

“In 1943, with the world convulsed by war and a Fascist defeat in Europe far from certain, a few visionaries—civilians and soldiers alike—saw past questions of life and death to realize that victory wasn’t the only thing at stake. So was the priceless cultural heritage of thousands of years.
In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers—a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists—to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed “the Venus Fixers” by bemused troops.”

It’s Monday! What are You Reading?

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It’s time once again for Kathryn’s weekly meme, “It’s Monday! What are You Reading?”  hosted at Book Date, where we share what we’re reading and have read over the past week.

First real snow of the season – big white flakes sure are pretty. Thankfully we don’t have to go anywhere. It won’t last but we all know – more will arrive soon enough. 

What I Read Last Week

I read 9 books –4 historical fiction, 3 romances and 2 picture books.

 An historical romance trilogy by Johanna Lindsey, which I really enjoyed:

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Man of My Dreams    Love Me Forever   The Pursuit

Books to complete the romance series by Devney Perry, which I loved:

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Quarter Miles    Forsaken Trail   Dotted Lines

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The Mistletoe Mistake of Miss Grayson by Maggie Dallen   . This was a short historical romance novella which was okay.

PBs – both were interesting reads:

Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki, illus. by Genevieve Simms     

Poem in my Pocket by Chris Tougas and Josee Bisaillon                

What I’m Reading Now 

 The Lost Garden by Helen Humphries

What’s Up Next (I must get to these soon!)

5 Little Indians by Michelle Good

 Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Connect Five Friday – 5 NF I Plan to Read


It’s time once again for Connect Five Friday, hosted at Book Date by Kathryn – the meme where we share five book/reading things that connect in some way.

This is Non-Fiction November and I am taking part in the challenge hosted by Rennie at What’s Non-Fiction.


Last seek I shared my five favourite non-fiction reads from this year.

Here are 5 non-fiction books I hope to read before the end of the year, books that are presently on my TBR shelves: (I have even started several of them):  Summaries are from Goodreads)


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Becoming by Michelle Obama

“In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private,”


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As You Wish by Cary Elwes

“From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.”


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Reading People by Anne Bogel

For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), popular blogger Anne Bogel has done the hard part–collecting, exploring, and explaining the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. She explains to readers the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. In her friendly, relatable style, Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.”


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Keep it Moving by Twyla Tharp

“Keep It Moving is a series of no-nonsense mediations on how to live with purpose as time passes. From the details of how she stays motivated to the stages of her evolving fitness routine, Tharp models how fulfillment depends not on fortune—but on attitude, possible for anyone willing to try and keep trying. Culling anecdotes from Twyla’s life and the lives of other luminaries, each chapter is accompanied by a small exercise that will help anyone develop a more hopeful and energetic approach to the everyday”.


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Keep Going by Austin Kleon

In his previous books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!, both New York Times bestsellers, Austin Kleon gave readers the keys to unlock their creativity and showed them how to become known. Now he offers his most inspiring work yet, with ten simple rules for how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself—for life.”


Non-Fiction Month: Week 2: NF-F Pairings


It is Week 2 of Nonfiction November and is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey:


This week we are to pair a fiction and nonfiction book:

It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.”

I have chosen 4 non-fiction books I have read and have paired them with a fiction book that focuses on similar issues (I have read, and enjoyed,  all the books except Hawk – but it is now on my TBR list) (Book summaries from Goodreads)      


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Non- fiction: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

    “When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor.”

Fiction: Hawk by Jennifer Dance

Hawk, a First Nations teen from northern Alberta, is a cross-country runner who aims to win gold in an upcoming competition between all the schools in Fort McMurray. But when Hawk discovers he has leukemia, his identity as a star athlete is stripped away, along with his muscles and energy. When he finds an osprey, “a fish hawk,” mired in a pond of toxic residue from the oil sands industry, he sees his life-or-death struggle echoed by the young bird.”





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Non-fiction: The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine.”


Fiction: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.   
This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.”



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Non-Fiction: I Miss You When I Blink  by Mary Laura Philpott

Like a pep talk from a sister, I Miss You When I Blink is the funny, poignant, and deeply affecting book you’ll want to share with all your friends, as you learn what Philpott has figured out along the way: that multiple things can be true of us at once—and that sometimes doing things wrong is the way to do life right.”

Fiction: Evie Drake Starts Over by 

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.”



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Non-Fiction: Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin

Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder tells the story of finding meaning in midlife through birds. The book follows the peregrinations of a narrator who learns more from birds than she ever anticipated, as she begins to realize that she herself is a migratory species: born in the former Soviet Union, growing up in Vancouver and Toronto, studying and working in the United States and living in Paris. Coming from a Russian immigrant family of concert pianists who believed that the outdoors were for “other people,” Julia Zarankin recounts the challenges and joys of unexpectedly discovering one’s wild side and finding one’s tribe in the unlikeliest of places.”


Fiction: The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth.

So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay…”



It’s Monday! What are You Reading?

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It’s time once again for Kathryn’s weekly meme, “It’s Monday! What are You Reading?”  hosted at Book Date, where we share what we’re reading and have read over the past week.


Hard to see darkness at 5:00 PM – but the weather this coming week will be more like early fall. We got our snow tires on and now the temperature rises! At least we’re ready.

Already there are reading challenges for 2022 being posted. I am still trying to finish several. But I plan to take part in several again next year. 


What I Read Last Week

I read 7 books –1, a non-fiction, a fantasy, 2 women’s fiction and 2 picture books.


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Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh. This is one of the later of her Psy/changeling series (#15!)which I thoroughly enjoyed. I skipped over a few but this did summarize a number of the pairings.


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Every Day is a Poem by Jacqueline Suskin. I read this as part of my writing group – and I found it informative and easy to work through. I even wrote a number of poems. There are sections I plan to reread and work through again.


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Lost and Found Family by Jennifer Ryan. I so enjoyed this novel – that focused on how families are formed. Well written. Now I’m searching out other books by her.


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Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer. I enjoyed this one by Thayer – another book about families.


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His Christmas Cinderella by Kate Willoughby.  This was an enjoyable Christmas novella.


PBs – both were fun reads:

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Dear Santa by Norma Lewis and illus by Olivia Beckman

Dear Santa, by Rachel Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer, illus by Christine Davenier


What I’m Reading Now 

 Quarter Miles by Devney Perry


What’s Up Next (I must get to these soon!)

5 Little Indians by Michelle Good

 Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Connect Five Friday – 5 Favourite Non-fiction Books


It’s time once again for Connect Five Friday, hosted at Book Date by Kathryn – the meme where we share five book/reading things that connect in some way.

This is Non-Fiction November and I am taking part in the challenge hosted by  Rennie at What’s Non-Fiction.

I read 30 non-fiction books so far this year.(Here is my post on my year in NF Reading)

Here are 5 of my favourite non-fiction books that I read this year.

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Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

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The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

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Steal Like an Artist  by Austin Kleon

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Every Day is a Poem by Jacqueline Suskin

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Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin

What are some of your favourite non-fiction books.

Week 1 – Non-Fiction November: My year in non-fiction


Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

I am participating in the Non-fiction in November Challenge, hosted by Rennie at What’s Non-Fiction.

As I looked back on the non-fiction books I read this past year, I was surprised to see the breakdown of books and the number I actually read:

I read 30 non-fiction books with the following breakdown:

Memoir: 8

Graphic memoir: 1

On nature: 3

On creativity or writing: 5

General Non-fiction: 11

Inspirational: 2

!. What was your favourite non-fiction read of the year.

By far my favourite was Braiding Sweetgrass by   . I read this for a book club but found it to be such an amazing read. If only we all couldn’t treat our earth as a gift, with respect and care that native people already do.

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  1. What non-fiction book have you recommended the most this year?

It would have to be my favourite – Braiding Sweetgrass.

  1. Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

I was drawn to memoirs and books on writing this year as I am working on my own memoir (slooowly).

  1. What are you hoping to get out of participating in Non-Fiction November this year?

I hope to read more memoirs and books on reconciliation. I enjoy the recommendations from other bloggers participating in this challenge as well.

October Reading Round-Up


Once again, we are at the end of one month and beginning a new one.

October has sped by. My hubby is slowly recovering from his wound – we may see it finally closing in a few weeks. Lots of wonderful books this month – a needed stress reliever.

It’s time to share what I have been reading this past month.

The total read for September was 28 books with the following breakdown:

Fantasy /Paranormal –3                      Romance – 5

Women’s Fiction – 4                              Historical romance – 8

Non-fiction – 1                                         Pix books – 3

YA – 1                                                          SciFi – 2

Memoir – 1

I continue to record in more detail where the books originated – from the library, on my TBR shelves (bought/gifted or won) or an e-book. Here’s the breakdown

Library reads – 21       TBR/owned books –2        E-books –5 

Favourite Reads

My overall favourite reads of the month were (I just could not choose 1!)

Sister’s Choice by Emilie Richards

The Lies That Bind by Emily Griffin

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The rest of my top 10 reads, by author (cheating a little – it was hard once again to choose just 10 books this month):

Kelly Bowen: A Duke in the Night, Last Night with the Earl, A Rogue by Night, Duke of My Heart, Between the Devil and the Duke

J.C. Andrijeski: Vampire Detective Midnight, Eyes of Ice

Devney Perry: Wild Highway

Debbie Macomber: It’s Better This Way

Emilie Richards: Lover’s Knot

Ilona Andrews: Blood Heir

 I am participating in quite a few challenges (check here for my list) but I have a few that are my favourites and have done these for a few years. Here are the books read for these challenges:


POPSUGAR Ultimate Reading Challenge (Through Goodreads)

I read 3 books for this challenge.

#32 – Title starts with Q (or X, Z) – Queen of My Heart by Nikki Lynn Barrett

Advanced #8 – Chosen at random from TBR: – Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Advanced #9 – DNF from TBR – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

52 Books in 52 Weeks

I read 2 books for this challenge:

#2 – Features the legal profession –Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

#46 – Winner of National Book Award – The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Monthly Key Word Challenge

I used this key word this month: Night and read 3 books by Kelly Bowen, with night in the title:

A Duke in the Night, Last Night with the Earl, A Rogue by Night

Monthly Motif

The theme this month was “Lurking in shadows”- grey, black and/or white cover or has shadows:

A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen

Debbie McComber’s Reading Challenge

The theme this month was “5 words in the title”. I read 2:

Last Night with the Earl and A Duke in the Night 

Beyond the Bookends

The theme this month was “Mental Health”. I read:

Queen of My Heart by Nikki Lynn Barrett

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


 Looking Ahead to November

I need to keep working on reading more books for The Popsugar and 52 Books 52 Weeks Challenges and definitely read more of my own books!

November is all about reading novellas and non-fiction. I hope to read more of both. It is also NaNoWriMo and I am going to try to finish it this year!

I am linking with the following:

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Monthly Wrap-Up (At Feed Your Fiction Addiction)

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Best of the Bunch (at A Cocoon of Books)


Inspire Me Monday (at Create With Joy)