Category Archives: Prizes and Competitions

August Recap

Hi Friends!

It’s been a busy month. My biggest news is that FUNHOUSE had a mention in The New York Review of Books- The August 17th edition. Pinch me now!!! This is a pretty major accomplishment. They’d read my FUNHOUSE Kirkus Review and contacted me. FUNHOUSE is happy, and my family/ friends are happy. I am over the moon!

Also, I recently read at Boswell Books with local writers, novelist Lee Kreckwell (The Expanse Between), poet Caitlin Scarano (Do Not Bring Him Water), and Chicago author Ben Tanzer (Be Cool– Essays/ Memoir). The evening was referred to as a mix of Micro, Poetry, Fiction and Memoir (a blend of genres):

There was a nice write-up in our local Sheperd Express about the reading:

http://shepherdexpress.com/article-30227-midwest-writers-gather-at-boswell-for-micro-memoir-poetry-prose.html

And a couple of great things happened at (b)OINK, where I am the Managing Editor. First of all, we announced our nominees for Best of the Net. This was quite difficult because we were limited in terms of how many pieces, and so many terrific ones to select from. Please head over to (b)OINK and read these phenomenal nominations (www.boinkzine.com):

And then, we announced the TOP 20 finalists in our very first Flash Fiction Contest. We had over 150 entries!!! And our vetters did a fantastic job: Len Kuntz, Dianca London, and Nicholas Cook. Then our guest judge, Kathy Fish, selected the top three winners- they will be announced on September 1st. Here are the top 20 stories, without the authors’ names:

(b)OINK’s Flash Fiction Contest: The Top 20 Finalists

And finally, the Hurricane Harvey scared us so much, with precious family who live in the Corpus Christi area. Everyone is safe, and fortunately the rain damage is not over yet. Please think positive thoughts for all those in Hurricane Harvey’s plight.

I leave on Tuesday for Bending Genres, a workshop at Synergia Ranch, outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m hosting with the kickass, and brilliant Meg Tuite. We have 17 writers aligned to arrive on Friday, September 1. I’m beyond thrilled and ready to have a stimulating and eye-opening week-long experience.

 

 

Happy Holidays 2016

Hello friends! We are coming up on Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. Family, terrific food, nice wine, and over-eating. Can’t beat that combo.

I wanted to extend some gratitude for these events in which I’ve participated:

On October 20th, Kim Suhr of Red Oak Writing hosted a terrific Writer’s Showcase:

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(L): Sharon Foley reads poetry; (R) Christine Baerbock reads a haunting short story

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In New York City, at the venerable KGB Bar, I read in two events: F-BOMB on Friday, Oct. 21 hosted by Bud Smith, and Best Small Fictions on Saturday, Oct. 22,  hosted by Paul Beckman:

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(L) me reading “Mother/ Father/ Clown”; (R) Karen Stefano reading Secret Games of Words      (F-BOMB Reading)

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Top: (L) Meg Tuite reading from lined up like scars; (C) Len Kuntz reading I’m Not Supposed To Be Here and Neither Are You; me reading “A Box” (Best Small Fictions). Bottom: (L to R): me, Dawn Raffel, Dianca London Potts, Eliel Lucero, Tina Barry, Paul Beckman, Nancy Ludmerer, Britt Haraway, Anne Elizabeth Weisgarber, and Courtney Sender.

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November 10th, Jonnie Guernsey and Laurel Landis launched A Picture And A Thousand Words. I read “Behind the 8-Ball” and we all used their excellent photography as prompts, hosted at Sugar Maple in Bay View, WI:

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On November 14th, I was featured in the Traveling Mollys, hosted by Nina Corwin at Buzz Cafe in Oak Park, Chicago. The other featured reader was Bill Yarrow:

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(L) Buzz Cafe, Oak Park; (R) Bill Yarrow reading from The Vig of Love

Bottom: Daniel Weinberg reads his letters to MAD Magazine

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On November 19th, I attended Robin Chapman’s course for Red Oak Writing: “What Poetry Can Teach Writers of Any Genre.” It was terrific, and thanks, Kim Suhr, for setting up so many great Saturday workshops throughout 2016. More information here: http://redoakwriting.com.

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*****

Update on FUN HOUSE: my fifth book! Publisher and I hope to get FUN HOUSE to you by December, 2016! We have an astounding cover (thanks artist Ron Kibble), and almost all blurbs are accounted for. FUN HOUSE has four sections: micro/ flash fiction; 26 kids in a classroom with kickass art by Bob Schofield; prose poems assembled by master crafter Eryk Wenziak, and longer short stories. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

Bath Flash Fiction Awards: October 2016

Here comes the JUDGE!

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I was completely transformed by judging the recent fourth Bath Flash Fiction Awards:

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When founder/director Jude Higgins asked me to do this, I was excited, but also unprepared. You can read Jude’s comments about the October judging here: http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/award-round-up-october-2016/

And also, my own comments about the contest are here: http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/october-2016-judges-report-robert-vaughan/

I was so smitten by the amount of talented submissions, repeatedly baffled by these word masters, and prose slayers! Writers and readers who appreciate this genre know how difficult it is to write flash fiction, let alone to reach new levels of gravitas, brilliance, wit, and pathos- all in a page or two. And imagine: 748 submissions from 28 different countries! Astounding.

First, I received the vetted Long List of 50 top stories: http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/october-2016-award-long-list/

From these, I narrowed it down to a Short List of Top 20: http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/october-2016-award-short-list/

And so, drumroll please, THESE ARE THE WINNERS:

FIRST PLACE: Helen Rye, “One in Twenty-Three” http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/helen-rye-october-2016-first-prize/

SECOND PLACE: Christopher M. Drew, “The Perfect Fall” http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/christopher-m-drew-october-2016-second-prize/

THIRD PLACE: Julianna Holland, “White Matter” http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/julianna-holland-october-2016-third-prize/

TWO COMMENDED (honorable mentions):

Caroline Reid, “Lost Dog” http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/caroline-reid-october-2016-commended/

Michelle Elvy, “Whale Shark” http://bathflashfictionaward.com/2016/10/michelle-elvy-october-2016-commended/

Deep thanks, Jude, for allowing me to judge this worthy competition. Congratulations to the winners, and also to every single person who entered. Thanks for making my job so complicated. And yes, the Bath Flash Fiction Awards are now officially OPEN!!! Next judge? Kathy Fish. Best of fortune to all who enter!

BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2016

There are certain postmarks as a writer that mean more than some others. When series editor Tara Masih sent me the news that my flash fiction, “A Box,” (originally published in RIFT) was chosen as a winner, and would be included in the second installment of Best Small Fictions 2016, I was overjoyed. The BSM 2016 book was released two days ago, and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive tomorrow. Also, it makes me even more ecstatic that Kathy Fish (we co-wrote our last book, RIFT) had her incredible story, “A Room With Many Small Beds” chosen by editor Stuart Dybek for inclusion in the same stellar anthology:

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/1938466748/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_cFSZxbMTVFEQP

From the Goodreads page: “This second installment of The Best Small Fictions continues to celebrate the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. Forty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Alberto Chimal, Toh EnJoe, Kathy Fish, Amelia Gray, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, and Eliel Lucero—offer readers “some of the brightest concise writing available today” (NewPages). With spotlights on Texture Press and author Megan Giddings, the acclaimed new series, with its “finger on the pulse,” succeeds in its aim to make something big from many small things.”

Best Small Fictions 2016, Featuring Small Fictions by:

Amir Adam, Daniel Aristi, Tina Barry, Paul Beckman, Laurie Blauner, John Brantingham, Alberto Chimal, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Toh EnJoe, Grant Faulkner, Kathy Fish, Rosie Forrest,Megan Giddings, Amelia Gray, Charles Hansmann, Britt Haraway, Mary-Jane Holmes, Laird Hunt, A. Nicole Kelly, James Kennedy, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, Nathan Leslie, Paul Lisicky, Eliel Lucero, Nancy Ludmerer, Melissa Manning, Michael Martone, Elizabeth Morton, David Naimon, Jessica Plante, Dianca London Potts, Dawn Raffel, James Reidel, Sophie Rosenblum, Caitlin Scarano, Vincent Scarpa, Robert Scotellaro, Courtney Sender, Janey Skinner, Curtis Smith, Robert Vaughan, Clio Velentza

Amy Hempel: “Prepare to be surprised by this striking new series–it has quickly become essential reading.”

Smokelong Quarterly

Hi friends,

At the end of 2015, Megan Giddings, Executive Editor at Smokelong Quarterly, asked both Kathy Fish and me if we’d like to guest edit for this venerable online magazine. Of course, we both eagerly agreed. My week to read the submissions arrived in mid-February 2016, and they began to roll in. Fortunately, I am familiar with Submittable, where SQ makes it easy- sets the guest editor up with their personal account on their site, so every submission is queued and waiting to be read.

All ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SEVEN of them. Yeah, that’s a lot of stories, at one thousand words or less!

And still, as one might imagine, I quickly narrowed the field down to ten. Then five. Then three.

And then this very one.

When I first read “Prismatic” by Eileen Merriman, it felt like it was written for me. I can’t explain coherently why; perhaps the numerical form, with missing numbers. Maybe the sisterly competitiveness over love interests. Even the title was familiar, in a former life, the name of a haircutting system I used to teach for a manufacturing company.

More than anything, it was the haunting essence of this startling story that I loved, first read, and continue to admire, several reads later. The story stays with you, it is lasting. And I sincerely apologize to Eileen, who turns out, lives in New Zealand- because “Prismatic” was originally published on April 11. Still, here it is:

Prismatic

(Art by Katelin Kinney). Thanks Megan Giddings, and staff at Smokelong Quarterly for this opportunity to guest edit your magazine.

AWP Recap & More

Hi friends,

Last week was the annual AWP#16 writer’s conference, hosted in downtown Los Angeles. Here are some photos and a recap:

AWP UP TableUNKNOWN PRESS AWP

My publisher, Unknown Press, shared booth #1442 with Digging Through the Fat’s Gessy Alvarez, and sister, Cynthia (pictured above). Also, Len Kuntz (above) premiered his new book, I’m Not Supposed to be Here and Neither Are You. We sold a lot of books!

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The States of Terror “Creature Feature” held their reading at BOOK SHOW bookstore on Thursday. Hosted by Matt Lewis and Keith McCleary, my friends Len and Bob attended. Also saw Jim Ruland, Meredith Alling, Gabino Iglesias, and met many more. I read “Sweet Surrender is All I Have Left To Give,” which will appear in States of Terror Anthology #3 this fall.

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Also, Thursday afternoon, Kathy Fish and I taped Otherppl podcast with Brad Listi (no, not in his Searcher camper!) in his garage on W. 4th in L.A. We had such a blast! Walking away from this experience, Kathy and I agreed it felt as if we’ve known Brad all our lives.

four freaksLen and Bob

Of course, AWP is all about our writer friends, allies, and support networking. Where would we be without that? Above left, is Len Kuntz, Kathryn Grant, me, and Karen Stefano. Photo shot by Robert P. Kaye. Dinner was the local Mexican restaurant, closest to our JW Marriott. We recommend the table side guacamole. Above right is Robert and Len in our Marriott lounge.

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My other reading was Hot Pillow, Joani Reese Above, right) hosted. This came with an assortment of lovely instructions, which my posse quickly turned over to Bob. It is held in a hotel (sort-of) room, and by personal invite. The reading is always the highlight of the entire AWP for me. Exquisite work shared. I read “A Box” from RIFT.

The Best Small Fictions 2017 Announcement Final-3

Just before we left for AWP, Kathy and I heard from Tara Masih, series editor of Best Small Presses that three of our stories from RIFT had been selected for the Best Small Fictions, 2016 (edited by Stuart Dybek). Needless to say, we are both over the moon thrilled about this! Our two pieces that will be included are “A Box” (mine) and “A Room With Many Small Beds” (Kathy).

Also, John Madera compiled this amazing list of “Most Anticipated Books of 2016” at Big Other, and included RIFT as a book to not miss (published in December 2015): https://bigother.com/2016/04/07/most-anticipated-small-press-books-of-2016/

Back to AWP and Los Angeles:

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Shalom Sherman, accordionist at Palermo Restaurant on Vermont Avenue. I’ve been a loyal fan of this place since the mid 1980s. We had a sublime dinner, terrific food, fantastic time.

All, in all, Los Angeles AWP was probably my favorite conference experience thus far. They just get more fun, less stressful, and it’s always great to see friends, meet new people, try new experiences. So until next year, see you all in D.C. in 2017!

Robert G. Vaughan Recognized by Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide Publication – PR.com

What a terrific surprise to wake up to this news yesterday:

Source: Robert G. Vaughan Recognized by Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide Publication – PR.com

Happy Weekend everyone!

Readings, Raffles and more

Hi friends!

A quick recap of my recent trip to Santa Fe: WHAT A BLAST!!! The view from our room 630 at La Fonda, and my pal, Len whom I shared the glory with:

10426125_10205375485565130_1045649562077628047_nLen Kuntz Sa Fe 2015

We went to Santa Fe for the TWISTED Reading Series, hosted by our pal, Meg Tuite:

El Flacco and Meg Santa Fe

Our featured reader was the exceptional Kate Braverman, and once Karen Stefano and James Claffey arrived, everything was A-OK! Meg’s Santa Fe reading circle rounded out the twelve readers. Also the Denver writers, with Sally Reno, Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman (at a Karaoke Lounge after the reading) :

Kate Braverman and meReading in Santa FeThe gang Santa Fe 2015Len and me Santa Fe

Last photo of me actually reading a new piece, “Keep it, Curt”:

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Overall, it  was a festive event and a great extended weekend!

RAFFLES:

The winner of the January Raffle is…Julia Fiero!!! There were seventy-four entries and I asked a non-writer to select a name out of a hat (blind). Congratulations, Julia- I hope you enjoy Luke Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours as much as I did!

February Raffle is Together We Can Bury It by Kathy Fish! To enter, simply comment here or on my Facebook Post, Twitter or Tumblr. This is another book you simply must have!

And, my piece called The Fallow Heart, which is in my Addicts & Basements book, you can read at Fictionaut: “The Fallow Heart” by Robert Vaughan — Fictionaut

And that, sugar plums, is a wrap…stay warm and informed.

 

January 2015 Book Raffle

Hi friends! Are you ready for the fun to begin? It’s January, and our book raffle will be Luke B. Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours. This linked collection of short stories is stellar, and one lucky individual will get this book for FREE!

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And here’s Luke with his other half, Jewely:

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If you are curious, and want to know more about this talented writer, GOOGLE HIM! Or click this link for an article about Luke B. Goebel’s Chaos Theories – Page – Interview Magazine.

There is also Brad Listi’s December Other People podcast with Luke Gobel here: Episode 338 — Luke B. Goebel | OTHERPPL WITH BRAD LISTI.

Long story short, this guy is one to watch. All you have to do to enter the drawing is to like this post (on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr). Or re-post, or comment. Share the word. Free book? AND A DAMN GREAT ONE.

Happy New Year, everyone! Play safe, love one another, revere yourself.

 

2014 Reading list (and more)

2014 sets sail, and a New Year fast approaches, it’s always fun to do a book recap. But before I get into that…here are ten other outstanding things about 2014:

* CCM published Addicts & Basements, my first full length collection, and my third book.

* I received my first Kirkus Review, among many fine, insightful, and supportive reviews.

* I’m a Gertrude Stein Award finalist (second year in a row!!!)

* There were over 20 different events in which I read, cities like Seattle, New York (twice), Madison, and Milwaukee. (The list continues with bookings in Santa Fe, Denver, and New York for 2015!)

* I attended a weekend poetry workshop at Omega Institute with Richard Blanco (and my good friends Michael Gillan Maxwell and David Carter!)

* I edited Bud Smith’s Everything Neon, his first stellar full-length poetry collection, from Marginalia Press.

* Grateful for several journals, new to me, that published my work: Everyday Genius, theNewer York, and The Miscreant, among others.

* Two nominations for the Pushcart Prize (added to two former): “Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu” (Deadly Press): and “What He Left to Me” (The Miscreant). Thanks editors, Joseph Quintela, and Amanda Harris.

* I’ve started new columns on my writer’s blog to add to HUMP DAY: “Two for Tuesday” and the new monthly book give-away! Both will continue in 2015.

* Recently it was announced that I am one of four new deputy editors for Civil Coping Mechanisms: About CCM-Entropy | ENTROPY. I am truly excited about this opportunity, and look forward to working with new authors. Thanks, CCM Editor-in-chief, Michael Seidlinger.

My Reading List from 2014– (starred books I recommend (*)

You Sang it Back to Me– Amanda Deo (poetry)

Calendar of Regrets– Lance Olsen *

My Ghost in the Bush of Lies- Paul Wessels

Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles– Kate Braverman (memoir) *

White Girls– Hilton Als *

Cunt Norton– Dodie Bellamy

Dreaming My Animal Selves– Helene Cardona (poetry)

The Physics of Imaginary Objects– Tina May Hall (flash fiction)

Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas- Liu (short stories)

Beautiful Ruins– Jess Walter

Murmuration– Ryan Warner (chapbook)

I Am Not a Pioneer– Adam Fell (poetry)

Call Me Burroughs, A Life– Barry Miles (biography)

Antidotes for an Alibi– Amy King (poetry)

A Life in Men– Gina Frangello

Vow– Kristina Marie Darling (kindle- poetry)

Masters of Sex– Thomas Maier (biography)

Twilight of the Superheroes– Deborah Eisenberg (kindle- poetry)

Zoom- Zoom Room– Penny Goring (poetry)

The Isle of Youth– Laura Vandenberg (stories) *

The Dark Sunshine– Len Kuntz (stories) *

Tollbooth– Bud Smith *

The Motion of Light in Water– Samuel R. Delany (memoir) *

Girls Standing on Lawns– Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Misadventure– Nicholas Grider (short stories)

Family Trouble– Joy Castro (memoir anthology) *

Everything Neon– Bud Smith (poetry) *

I Want to Make You Safe– Amy King (poetry)

Kill Marguerite.- Megan Milks (short stories) *

Stories I Only Tell My Friends– Rob Lowe (auto-biography)

Holding on Upside Down: Marianne Moore– Linda Leavell (biography)

Shotgun Lovesongs– Nicholas Butler (fiction)

e.e.cummings: a life– Susan Cheever (biography)

Stone Bride Madrigals– Nicolette Wong (poetry chap)

Hello, The Roses– Mei- mei Berssenbruegger (poetry)

The Poetics of Space– Gaston Bachelard *

The Mourning Diary– Roland Barthes

Blood a Cold Blue– James Claffey (short stories) *

Balefire– Shann Ray (poetry)

Black Cloud– Juliet Escoria *

Steal Me For Your Stories– Robb Todd (flash/ short stories) *

I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying– Matthew Salesses (flash novel) *

The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld– Justin Hocking (memoir) *

The Mere Weight of Words– Carissa Halston (novella)

flatscreen– Adam Wilson

Tap- Root– Indigo Moor (poetry)

Babel– Patti Smith (poetry) *

Looking For the Gulf Motel– Richard Blanco (poetry)

Deep Ellum- Brandon Hobson *

Spent– Antonia Crane (memoir)

Let Me See It– James Magruder

Burnings– Ocean Vuong (poetry) *

Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (re-read)

Letters To A Young Poet– Rainer Maria Rilke (re-read)

A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat– Arthur Rimaud (poetry)

An Untamed State- Roxane Gay

flatscreen– Adam Wilson

F- 250– Bud Smith

David and Goliath– Malcolm Gladwell (essays)

The Sky Conducting– Michael Seidlinger (kindle) *

ghostbread– Sonja Livingston (memoir) *

The Mustache He’s Always Wanted But Could Never Grow– Brian Alan Ellis (stories) *

Bad Feminist– Roxane Gay (essays) *

Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (essay/ poetry)

Ariel: The Restored Edition- Sylvia Plath (poetry) *

Excavation– Wendy C. Ortiz (memoir) *

The Fun We’ve Had– Michael Seidlinger *

Lost in Space– Ben Tanzer (essay) *

Forest of Fortune– Jim Ruland *

What the Light Reveals– Rachel Heimowitz (poetry) *

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know– John Bradley (poetry)

American Prometheus– Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin (biography)

Sentence #10– ed. by Brian Clements (prose poetry anthology)

Like a Beggar– Ellen Bass (poetry) *

Tender Buttons– Gertrude Stein

Preparation for the Next Life– Atticus Lish *

The Doll Palace– Sara Lippmann (stories) *

BOMB: The Interviews– ed. Betsy Sussler *

nagging wives, foolish husbands– Nate Tower (short stories) *

Calenday– Lauren Haldeman (poetry) *

Our Secret Life in the Movies– Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree

Clotheslines– Mathieu Cailler (poetry chapbook) *

The Inevitable June– Bob Schofield *

Paul Chan Selected Writings 2000- 2014, ed. by George Baker and Eric Banks

UnAmerica- Momus (a/k/a Nick Currie)

Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours by Luke Goebel *

As you can see, indicated by how many stars, this was an incredible year for books. Here are my favorites by category:

Fiction: three way tie-

Forest of Fortune– Jim Ruland; Preparation for the Next Life– Attticus Lish; Fourteen Stories, None of Them are Yours– Luke B. Goebel

Short Story: two way tie-

Doll Palace Stories– Sara Lippmann; Dark Sunshine– Len Kuntz

Poetry: Like a Beggar– Ellen Bass

Memoir: two-way tie-

ghostbread– Sonja Livingston; Excavation– Wendy C. Ortiz

Essay: Bad Feminist– Roxane Gay

Hybrid: two way tie-

I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying– Matthew Salesses; Black Cloud– Juliet Escoria

And that’s it! Not sure I can choose a best book, but so many great reads. How about you? Did you read any amazing books this year? Please do share them in comments! I’m always looking to buy. Thanks for another amazing year.