Author Archives: Kerry Ann

Cover Reveal: The To-Hell-and-Back Club!!!

I am absolutely delighted to present the cover for THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK-CLUB, the debut Women’s Fiction title by none other than my critique partner extraordinaire, Jill Hannah Anderson!

to hell and back club full wrapWho can you turn to when your life falls apart? The To-Hell-And-Back Club!

Can you tell I’m excited??

Seriously, folks, I’ve had the privilege of reading more than a few variations of this story (yes, novels go through dozens of drafts) and it’s good. You’re going to want to read this one. So keep your eyes peeled for its May 2017 release by PandaMoon Publishing! (I can’t help all the exclamation points. If I was the type to squee, my family would be deaf now.)

the to hell and back club jill hannah anderson
Isn’t it gorgeous?

kerry ann morgan and jill hannah anderson

Jill has been one of my critique partners for over three years thanks to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Let me tell you, an honest critique partner is worth her weight in gold…or maybe printer ink? (That stuff costs more than fine wine!) We share the highs and lows of our quests to get the words right and get published, and we’ve been at it so long I’d forget that we’d never met in real life. Fixed that Tuesday. Thanks for visiting Florida, Jill Hannah Anderson, and thanks for always being there to shred my work for me–in purely constructive ways, of course. Now if only our CP Lynne could join us for some sunshine and conversation!

Can you tell which one is from Minnesota and which is a native Floridian? Guess again.


The To-Hell-And-Back Club
by Jill Hannah Anderson
Pandamoon Publishing – coming May 2017
Presale links available soon!!!

Follow Jill Hannah Anderson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at JillHannahAnderson.com

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My (belated) year of romance novels

romance bookYes, I know I’m late with all these 2016 reading list posts. Better late than never?

Some of my romance reading was for research. All was for pleasure.

My greatest discoveries: I go for smart, spunky heroines and imperfect heroes. And forget about the must have deep dark secrets–my favorite characters must have a sense of humor. Quirkiness is appreciated. Heroines should want the hero ( and whatever hot hanky-panky, money, or fame comes with him) but not need him.

Here are my 2016 Romance Reads via Goodreads. The tally comes in at 24, I have the feeling I forgot to add a few.

2016 romance 2

Do we follow each other on Goodreads? If not, join me here!!!

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2016 – A Year in Audiobooks

I am hooked on audiobooks. Overdrive is one of my best friends. It’s ridiculously easy to download books to my phone, and I always have at least one loaded and one waiting. My “friends” accompany me wherever I go, making commuting a pleasure and keeping me company while running errands.

Most of the audiobooks I choose are nonfiction and I prefer ones narrated by the author. So yes, it really does feel as if they are taking me along with them on their journey, holding scientific discussions with me, or encouraging me on a rough day. (And 2016 had plenty of rough days…)

And you know the best part?  It’s all FREE! If you don’t take advantage of Overdrive, head on over to your local library’s website to find out more. Tens of thousands of audio books at your fingertips. Literally!

The whole family enjoyed listening to Bill Bryson’s A REALLY SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and Bill Nye’s UNDENIABLE. Though both were heavy on science, they were highly entertaining. The 12-year-old kiddo listened attentively (without playing video games) for the entire 10 hour drive to Washington D.C. over spring break. High praise.

Bill Bryson’s AT HOME kept me company as I painted, refinished, and redecorated my dining room and kitchen. (While laying inside a hutch and painting above my head, he explained how several painters of note died from inhaling lead paint fumes. I could do nothing buy nervously laugh. And wipe paint droplets from my face.)

My favorite of the year was a surprise came as a surprise–Shonda Rhime’s A YEAR OF YES. I loved the book. I loved the message, her messy reality, her determination, passion for creating, and everything about her. Shonda (yes, I feel as if we’re on a first name basis now) gave me one of my favorite books of the year. I actually listened to it twice.

2016 books audioThe Girl with the Lower Back TattooYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding YourselfAt Home: A Short History of Private LifeBecause I Said So! : The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its KidsA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

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One of my favorite gifts, from one of my favorite people

2016 may have been a challenging year, but Christmas brought us nothing but peace, love, and thankfulness. Hope you all reveled in some joy and cheer, too!

 

xmas-mug-2

 

My kiddo left this mug under the tree for me. Does he know his mother or what? Now if only I could use this at work–set it atop the circulation desk at the library…

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Yet another reason I’m proud to work in a public library…

For Immediate Release
Tue, 11/15/2016

Contact:

Macey Morales
Deputy Director
Public Awareness Office
American Library Association

CHICAGO – Today American Library Association President Julie Todaro released the following statement regarding the invaluable role libraries  and librarians will play within their communities as many search for common ground after the election.

“After a contentious campaign season filled with divisive rhetoric, we are now hearing from our members and in the news media about incidents of bigotry and harassment within our communities.  From children acting out in schools to adults participating in violent acts, it is clear that our nation is struggling in the wake of this election.

“During times like these, our nation’s 120,000 public, academic, school and special libraries are invaluable allies inspiring understanding and community healing. Libraries provide a safe place for individuals of all ages and backgrounds and for difficult discussions on social issues.  Our nation’s libraries serve all community members, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable in our communities, offering services and educational resources that transform communities, open minds and promote inclusion and diversity.

“As an association representing these libraries, librarians and library workers, ALA believes that the struggle against racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination is central to our mission. As we have throughout our 140 year-long history, we will continue to support efforts to abolish intolerance and cultural invisibility, stand up for all the members of the communities we serve, and promote understanding and inclusion through our work.”

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HAMILTON: the Book, the PBS Special, the Revolution

hamilton-the-revolution-book

The story of tonight: HAMILTON’S AMERICA premiers on PBS! Those of us with HAMILTON fever have been gleefully waiting for it – a behind-the-scenes look at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster Broadway musical.  (Just you wait! 12 hours and counting!)

The trailer shows a mix of interviews, history, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and WE HOPE plenty of footage of the live show with the original cast.

HAMILTON’S AMERICA will air on PBS tonight, Friday, October 21 at 9:00 p.m. My DVR is set, my couch cushion reserved. No cable? No problem. It will also stream online through Facebook Live on the Great Performances Facebook page, be available on the PBS Anywhere app, as well as PBS’ website. But if your plan is to watch it online, don’t waste your shot, as rumor has it the documentary will only be available on those platforms for four weeks following the broadcast.

And now, on to the book and soundtrack combo, or how I spent a good eight hours immersed in Hamilton bliss.

You’ve listened to the soundtrack non-stop. Maybe you think you have most of it memorized and sing along with it in the car, at the grocery store, and on your lunch break. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

Get the book.  HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION is a stunning creation, from the detailed behind-the-scenes stories, drool-worthy photographs, and yes, full lyrics for you to read as you listen to the score for the zillionth time.

Even the feel of the book will blow you away. Leather spine, thick, lush paper–it’s a book that will earn a prime spot on your bookshelf for years to come.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION  by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

Have you read the book? Are you counting the minutes until the special airs tonight?

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#Friday Reads: Bring on the Laughs with Razor Girl and First Star I See Tonight

This week’s theme is humor. I tend to write with a slight sway to what I’m reading, and since I’m pushing towards the end of a contemporary romance that will hopefully be infused with a marbled layer of chuckles, humor I need.

Humor I got.

Book 1: Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen.
Carl Hiaasen is ALWAYS good for a laugh. Wait, no, I’ve known people who have suffered stomach cramps from doubling over in laughter while reading his books. And because truth is stranger than fiction (especially in Florida), many of  Hiaasen’s nut-job characters and insane situations are inspired by news clippings. Here you go: Woman Crashes Car While Shaving Her Privates –your real life Razor Girl. I still haven’t figured out if Hiassen satirizes or merely exaggerates the impossible realities of our beloved screwball state, but as always, his humor hits razor sharp.

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

The new full-tilt, unstoppably hilarious and entertaining novel from the best-selling author of Skinny Dip and Bad Monkey

When Lane Coolman’s car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield–the eponymous Razor Girl–and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There’s Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys–a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another . . . Dominick “Big Noogie” Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear . . . Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren . . . a street psycho known as Blister who’s more Buck Nance than Buck could ever be . . . Brock Richardson, a Miami product-liability lawyer who’s getting dangerously–and deformingly–hooked on the very E.D. product he’s litigating against . . . and Andrew Yancy–formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover’s husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he’ll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy’s future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way–including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 6, 2016)

Book 2: First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
While many readers may have caught on to Susan Elizabeth Phillips stories a good decade or two ago, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m late to the contemporary romance party. Phillip’s books pretend to fall into the crossover category: they’re released at hardcovers on the mainstream fiction shelves, so readers who are above or afraid to pick up a skinny Harlequin paperback can read without having to explain. But I’ll let you in on a secret: though they are sometimes labeled as “romantic fiction” they are still  romances. Funny, flirty, and zany romances. Why else would Phillips have won the prestigious RITA award four times and be a recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award? Try one, you’ll like it…

 First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

A no-nonsense sports hero and a feisty female detective go head-to-head in this funny, fresh, seductive novel from the award winning NYT bestselling author known for her unforgettable characters, heartfelt emotion, and laugh out loud humor.

He’s the former quarterback of the Chicago Stars football team.

She’s trying to make a success of her very own detective agency.

Her first job? Follow him. Let’s just say it’s not going well.

Not well at all….

Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. The problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.

Which is why a great detective needs a first rate imagination. “The fact is . . . I’m your stalker. Not full-out barmy. Just . . . mildly unhinged.”

Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: Not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding that Piper find her very dead husband.

And then there’s Cooper Graham,, a legendary sports hero who always gets what he wants—even if what he wants just might be an intrepid detective hell bent on proving she’s as tough as he is.

From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.

Series: Chicago Stars
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (August 23, 2016)

Are you reading anything good this week?

 

 

 

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#FridayReads | Beach Read: No Breaking My Heart by Kate Angell

Happy Friday! no-breaking-my-heart

Hope y’all are having a good week and didn’t suffer through a holiday weekend hangover. Much of Labor Day weekend around here was wet, wet, WET. Though Hurricane Hermine brushed by with a few puffs of wind and showers, in the days after we got drenched. At one point, we got 3 1/2 inches of rain in just over an hour. Let me tell you, it’s fun to drain the pool in the middle of a deluge.

But Labor Day looked promising. After days of being stuck inside, we attempted a beach day. It sprinkled on us twice in the morning, but hey, we were wearing bathing suits anyway. The wind carried several people’s beach umbrellas and canopies away (including ours!). But then the sun came out, and we settled in for an afternoon of beach reading. Even the kiddo pulled out his book. Yes, we got some stares as all three of us sat in the shade with books in hand.manatee-hi

I took a break to test out the new paddle board in our secret manatee cove. The manatees must have known I was reading a romance, because they were feeling a bit…shall we say “frisky”. It was like paddling around hippos! At one point, I glided over a group who were blocking my boat ramp and rather…distracted by love pheromones. A startled, ginormous bull nearly swamped me when he came up! Luckily I was sitting on the board or I would have been in the water with a mess of randy thousand-pound manatees. Eek!

Despite the showers, mishaps, and animal close encounters, I had a much needed day relaxing with a fun beach read. How many people actually get to read beach reads at the beach?

No Breaking My Heart by Kate Angell

“Known for her charming beach reads.” —Kirkus Reviews

Relationship Status: Complicated

Professional baseball player Halo Todd doesn’t like failure, but he can never turn down a challenge. Especially when there’s a pretty woman involved. How else would he end up dressed as a rooster, helping a complete stranger compete on a wacky game show? Even when they’re eliminated after the first round, Halo isn’t about to lose the girl…

Alyn is stunned when gorgeous, generous Halo whisks her off for a dream vacation to the beach–she’s been let down by friends and even family so many times, she’s lost count. Later, he offers to lend a hand getting her vintage shop up and running. But his constant–and ridiculous–purchases are the last thing she needs. How can she convince the stubborn man that she doesn’t need his help–not when all she wants is his heart…

Series: Barefoot William Beach
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kensington (July 26, 2016)

Books 1 -3 in the Barefoot William Series:

Up next in my TBR pile:

What’s your Friday read?

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#Friday Reads (& a listen): Let it Breathe and my Hamilton Obsession

tawna fenske let it breathe
I’ll admit, part of me just wanted to salivate over this picture taken on a recent lovely summer afternoon. Hurricane Hermine is currently slinging buckets of sideways rain outside. I’d snapped this pic with solid intentions to share my love of the book. I’m slightly belated.

Let it Breathe by Tawna Fenske is a recommended read–hold onto your funny bone and your heart, because it’s a delightfully zany and romantic ride!

The details:
Forbidden fruit can be downright intoxicating.

Vineyard manager Reese Clark is determined to bring her family’s Oregon winery into the big leagues, and she knows building a new tasting room and event pavilion is her ticket there. Having her ex-husband’s best friend—and her secret college crush—turn up to head the construction project, however, doesn’t pair well with her plans. Between her nauseating lovebird parents; her motorcycle-riding, pot-growing grandfather; and her pet alpaca, fond of head-butting groins, Reese has more than enough chaotic characters in her life.

Back in college, Clay Henderson was more likely to be sprawled over a bar than building one. But even if the new clean-living Clay has matured as deliciously as an oak-aged chardonnay, he’s still off-limits. As Reese’s well-laid plans for the winery crumble like bad cork, Clay the newly sober gentleman is sweet enough to rescue Reese from a wardrobe malfunction and still spicy enough to play “I Never” with her. Can he overcome his past rep to offer her a love too heady to ignore?

Let it Breathe by Tawna Fenske
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Released date: March 22, 2016

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No audiobooks for me this week, as I am currently obsessed with Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording).

I’d heard it was good, but holey sugar nuts, HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME HOW GOOD?

Yes, I’m late to the party, but what else is new? When I watched the Tony Awards in June, I knew I had to get my hands on the CD. I haven’t listened to anything else since my copy arrived.

Few videos of the show exist, at least on the legal internet, (trust me, I’ve looked) but below is a recording of the Tony performance of Yorktown.

I’m in love with HAMILTON as a writer, as the story flows with wit and clever turns of phrase. It’s poetry set to music.

I’m in love with HAMILTON because it vibrantly brings history to life for a new generation (and us old folks).

I’m in love with HAMILTION because it proves that rap can be eloquent and erudite, and through with the nimble tongues of the ridiculously talented Broadway cast, every world can be beautify enunciated and understood.

I’m in love with the catchy melodies that I cannot stop singing. (In my head. You do not want to hear me try to rap with a French accent–I’ll leave that to the brilliant Layette.)

I’m in love with HAMILTION because even though the events took place 240-or-so years ago, it feels fresh. Today we’re still dealing with dirty politics; immigrant, women’s, and  minority rights; and the continuous fight for freedom. Our county is still evolving and trying to figure out who it wants to be.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a bloody genius.

I NEED TO SEE THIS SHOW.

Alas, I searched for tickets in the oft chance we could take a family vacation to NYC next year. Cheapest seats found: $900 bucks a pop. Maybe not.

Oooh, but there’s a touring company! Closest stop: an eight hour drive to Atlanta.

Dear Hamilton Touring Production:

Please, PLEASE bring the show to Florida. We have many bright and shiny new performing arts centers that would love to host your production. We have beaches, theme parks, and outdoor activities galore, and I’m sure your cast and crew would appreciate some down time in the sunshine.

Please, I’m begging you. Give us some culture. We are desperate for entertainment that doesn’t involve sports, race cars, or theme park lines. And if you could keep the ticket prices less than that of a decent used car, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks!

Watch the video above. Then buy or borrow the full Broadway Cast Recording. Sit down with a decent pair of earbuds and two hours of quiet time to just listen. Be amaze-balls.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

#FridayReads: Results May Vary and The View from the Cheap Seats

bal·ancebalancing act
/ˈbaləns/
noun – a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

As I struggled to describe how challenging it can be to find balance in life between work, family, passions, and sanity, my gaze fell on this lithograph by James Christensen hanging in my front hall. It sums the conundrum up perfectly. (Even the cat is a doppelganger of my own big tomcat reflected in the glare at the bottom of the photo. Wait, no, the beautifully rendered feline would have to be allergic to people and trying to lick himself into becoming a hairless Sphynx. See, messy life.)

To find balance in my life, I chose to drop the ball on blogging.

I must allow myself reading time to maintain my sanity. I have stacks of books I want to recommend, to shout their praises from the virtual rooftops so readers everywhere can enjoy them as much as I have. Though I no longer do formal reviews, I still need to share the love, not only to my patrons at the library, but with my friends out there in Internet Land.

This month I’ve met my writing word count goals (holler!) AND my workout goals, so it’s time to step it up with shaing-the-love goals. Expect to see something bookish, be it here on the blog, or on Facebook or Instagram each Friday.

Because you never know where you’ll discover your next favorite book or author.


Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

From Bethany Chase—whom bestselling author Emily Giffin calls “a great new voice in fiction”—comes a wise and delightfully relatable novel about a woman’s journey to rebuild her life, and her heart, after a stunning betrayal.

Can you ever really know the person you love?

She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, art curator Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.

Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the heart’s ability to turn unexpected troubles into extraordinary strength.

I devoured this book in two nights. One might imagine a novel about a woman’s betrayal would be a drag, but not in Bethany Chase’s deft hands. The well-crafted story is both charming and sweet. I couldn’t help but root for the multi-faceted characters on their journeys to not just grow up, but grow into themselves. Beautifully written.

Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2016


The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

My husband first introduced me to Neil Gaiman and his Sandman comics not long after we met. (It’s entirely possible he may have every graphic novel, comic, and work of fiction Gaiman’s every produced squirreled away in his library/office. He still reverently hand washes his faded and well-loved Sandman coffee mug several times a week.) While I have read and enjoyed several of Gaiman’s works, I’m generally not a fantasy or graphic novel novel aficionado. There are always exceptions. Neil is shining one.

View from the Cheap Seats is magic, especially if you listen to the audio book narrated by Neil himself, of course. It’s a love letter to the the craft of writing, to artists and creators in a multitude of mediums, and to the pure joy of reading.

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • 1st edition (May 31, 2016)

 

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