Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Mini Reviews

Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 1st, 2016!

From Goodreads...
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?



My Review!
I actually loved this more than Nicola’s debut, which is great, because I really enjoyed EE but had felt cheated by a certain aspect of it. But anyway, I will definitely be reading anything this author writes, because there is just something about her style of writing that draws me in and makes me addicted to the story. I could NOT stop reading. I was so moved by parts of this book, and fell for the love story unfolding before me. It was epic and big and I rooted for these characters so hard. Natasha and Daniel were so different from each other, yet similar. They understood each other in a way that not many people could. But they had obstacles in their path. Natasha is on the brink of being deported back to Jamaica and Daniel (who is Korean-American) has a family who won’t accept him having a relationship with a black girl. These two are star-crossed, yet I totally believed in them. I loved both of them, and I loved watching their romance develop. They knew each other for so short a span of time (like 12 hours or something), but it felt so real. The banter between them was great, and I found myself enjoying this read so much. Even the little histories that almost didn’t have a point, but that seemed to just enrich the story more. I FLEW through this book, it was so wonderful. However, I wasn’t a big fan of that ending. I can’t say much for spoiler reasons, but it was not what I had been expecting. And I think I just wanted more from it. But it didn’t ruin anything for me, and I ended up loving the book.

RATING:

*****

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: November 8th, 2016!

From Goodreads...
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Review!
I was hoping to love this one, but like with Fairest, I just did not. I don’t think villain origin stories are exactly Marissa Meyer’s strength, though I did highly enjoy this one. The problem is that there wasn’t really a plot here. The story felt sort of aimless. I know the main thing about it was giving us the infamous Queen of Hearts’ tale, but I did not even fully believe that the Catherine who baked goods and who just wanted to be a businesswoman instead of a bride, became her. Really, what got me hooked on this story other than Marissa’s style of writing (which I love), was the ship. I fell in love with Jest’s and Catherine’s romance. I was so into it. And into the whimsical, magical Alice in Wonderland feel of this. But it just didn’t completely work for me, which makes me sad because I want all the villain origin stories, and I was expecting so much more with the deadly Queen of Hearts. She's one of my faves, so my expectations were a bit high. Still, Heartless WAS a good story and and it was trademark MM.

RATING:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Love Story Between Friends: Iron Cast

Title: Iron Cast
Author: Destiny Soria
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: October 11th, 2016!
Get It: Amazon

*eARC kindly provided by ABRAMS Kids via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.


My Review!
This is really a love story between two friends, two girls from different worlds but who form a strong bond that won’t ever break. It’s about THEM, first and foremost. And oh, how I loved these girls. The bold and reckless and confident Corinne. The quiet, serious, and talented Ada. It was told in both of their POVs, which I was glad of, because they’re so different and they really just balance each other out. Corinne is a quick-thinker but she also rushes into situations without taking a breath. Ada is more contemplative, logical. And she feels a lot more for other people, where Corinne does not generally care about anyone but Ada and their friend, Saint. And Johnny, the owner of the Iron Cast and the person who gave her a home when she needed it, and a place to belong. She’s so hell-bent on saving the club that she nearly gets herself killed a few times, as well as Ada. But the two are a force, determined to not only figure out what’s going but save themselves. They’re hunted, forced to endure intense and dangerous situations, and they stick together throughout everything. Their beautiful friendship was my favorite.

I also had a ship that I could not stop shipping even when truths are revealed and Things happen. But I was infinitely more invested in the girls’ relationship than anything. However, there were some sweet and adorable moments between the ships in this story. Ada and Charlie, James and Saint, Corinne and Gabe. And I ended up loving basically all of the characters too, especially the ones who were part of Johnny’s Iron Cast club. The atmosphere and setting were believable. The book did have a slower pace to it, even when you get into the grit of the story. But it was so INTRIGUING, even the political components involved. The way that the Hemopaths are treated seemed to reflect society, and the book tackled this discrimination through Corinne and Ada's lives. These people are special and have powers that can influence people’s emotions, so others fear them. That fear nearly cost Corinne and Ada’s lives a few times throughout the story. But they kicked ass and never backed down from the fight. I loved Iron Cast so much, guys, I’m dying for a sequel. I’M NOT FINISHED WITH THESE CHARACTERS.

RATING:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hello, It's Me

I don't do a monthly recap on the blog, partly because I'm lazy and partly because there isn't usually much to say. But I was inspired by Jamie's If We Were Having Coffee feature (which was inspired by someone else!) to start doing more personal posts on here. And what better way to do that than to recap my month in LIFE instead of just books and blogging? So Checking In will be a monthly feature on here that will help you guys get to know ME better, and hopefully you'll start sharing your own stories with me. :)

*****

I honestly was not expecting to take an impromptu, two-week break on the blog immediately following my 4th blogoversary. (And I'm shamelessly going to mention my international giveaway in celebration of it!). I was super excited about starting a new year of blogging, and I had this whole month planned with posts. Seriously, aside from the weekends, my Google calendar was full. And I was doing SO well with getting posts written and scheduled for during the days I work. But... then the election happened. And I just didn't have it in me to write posts or to blog.

I have hardly read this month. So far, I've finished 4 books. I reread The Lumatere Chronicles in comfort (though am still finishing up Quintana), and it has helped, but I haven't had much desire to read. I'm becoming more excited to read some books, but now I feel like I'm running out of time to get caught up, mostly on 2016 ARCs I've yet to read. I so badly wanted to start fresh in 2017, but I'm less than hopeful about that happening. I, um, quit NaNo. I had wanted to work seriously on my Rapunzel WIP but I've felt so uninspired about everything. I don't even know where my days have gone. I've worked and slept and read a bit, but that's about it. I've had no energy for anything else.

I. am. angry. I am so full of anger and stress that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe it was naive of me to be confident that Hillary would win, to be so sure that it was finally the time for a woman president. To have an absolute certainty that people were looking at DJT and recognizing that he would be a terrible leader alone based on his words and actions, and his complete lack of empathy for others different from himself. But I was sorely mistaken, and I was shocked. Yes, I was. In my ignorance, I did not realize just how deep sexism and especially racism still is in this country. I did not expect this outcome, so I wasn't prepared, and I'm feeling adrift now.

I don't really know how family and friends of mine voted. For some, I could guess just based on their statuses and tweets. I know how my mom voted, my uncle, and a few of my cousins. But other than that, I've just assumed. Normally I would not assume, because I try not to do that, but I am doubting that most of them would have voted for Hillary. Their very conservative values are everything to them, so much so that they chose their party over the safety of millions. I am still angry, trying to understand their decisions, but wishing they'd picked differently. I've been told by a few relatives that basically my opinion isn't right and I don't know what I'm talking about. I wrote a post on Facebook, reaching out and asking people to stop telling those who are scared and angry to get over it and accept the outcome. It didn't go over very well, and everyone ignored my second post trying to clarify but still being firm about my stance. I don't know how they all feel about it.

I went to Thanksgiving, and the aunt who had mostly argued with me completely ignored my existence. I know it's not my problem or fault. I know that it's not a reflection on myself. But that cut. I was just thankful no one decided to talk politics. I didn't go to the family Christmas on my mom's side this past Saturday. Both because I've just stopped going and because of this election. Her side is the very, very conservative side, and I fundamentally do not agree with this party on nearly every level. There's a reason I don't talk politics with any of them, and I didn't relish the idea of spending time with people who think I'm just a lost little lamb. The other two relatives who had commented on my first Facebook post talked down to me like I'm still a child. My great-aunt said that she believed that God took over in the voting booths, and I was like NOPE NOT HERE FOR THAT. They deleted their comments that night, but their words still play on a loop in my mind. I'm angry, and hurt. I'm angry that the one time I speak out, I'm told that I'm being fed lies. I'm hurt that no one actually listened to me.

I don't really know what to do, from here, except to try to call them out when they're in the wrong. Confrontation has ALWAYS been hard for me. I've always been too scared to be honest, get angry, with people because of THEIR feelings. But fuck this, I'm done. I feel like I've got less of a filter than I had before, and I'm tired of carrying on when I'm hurt and angry and letting people get away with making me feel that way. My feelings matter too, and those who will try to invalidate them are people I don't need in my life, even if they're family. So it's time to stop being silent. 

I'm dreading the end of 2016 because that means it's the start of four years under this presidency. I fear for my rights as a woman. I fear for the lives of those I love who don't have the luxury or the privilege of passing white and straight. I fear that the world is gonna get turned upside down and that I'll live through what will be one of the worst times in history. I dread everything about this. And I'm not feeling very hopeful about the Electoral College doing what the Founding Fathers intended for its purpose and stopping this from happening on December 19th.

The only good thing that came out of this for me is that my eyes are WIDE open, and I know that I *need* to start speaking up more. I think I'm going to write another post on this, in time. But for right now, I'm taking it a day at a time, trying not to hope just to be completely devastated again. I haven't done my action-items as I'd wanted to this weekend, so I'm pushing myself to do them after work this week, if it's still needed. I've read and read so much about elections and politics over the past few weeks, but I still have SO much to learn, and I want to be educated. This going through life with a veil of ignorance will not help, and I wish it hadn't taken so long for the fire to show up. But it's here, and I'm ready to do MORE than I have ever done in the past. If these next four years happen, they're going to push all of us beyond measure, and thinking about that has not been good for me. So right now, I'm just going to continue to take it a step, a day, at a time. It's helped, and it's also helped having this community, my friends here, who understand and who have given me a place to rant and rage and just be hurt that my family chose wrong. It's been hard, but I've been able to find some comfort and joy. I hope you guys have too!


How are you guys doing? Are you okay? Scared, angry, hopeful? Whatever you're feeling, it's completely and 100% valid. Don't let ANYONE tell you otherwise, no matter who they are to you. I truly hope you have been able to find comfort and a small measure of peace since the election. I hope you have been taking time for self-care because it is *so* important. I'm not normally a positive, optimistic person, but whatever happens, we'll always have this wonderful safe space here. So I know we can get through it together. <3

Friday, November 11, 2016

Looking Ahead: Goals for Year 5

For my end posts, I always like to look ahead and make goals for myself and the blog!

*****

 First: a few numbers goals!
*1,000 Bloglovin' followers (pretty ambitious, but I'd LOVE to get there!)
*2,500 Twitter followers
*500 on Instagram and Goodreads 

***** 

1. An even better balance between ARCs, new releases, and backlist books. I've done really good at this in the past year, but I could still have a more even balance. I don't like posting too many reviews throughout a month, and I definitely don't like it when they're all ARCs or new-ish releases. MORE backlist reading is in order! I enjoy it so much, discovering a new love that has been out for years. And it's fun to switch it up, and I hope you guys like that.

2. Be more consistent with posting on Instagram. I might have my reservations about this platform, and a hate/love relationship, but I WANT to post more often than I do. And I WANT to get better at taking pictures. I think right now, my biggest issue is not having the space to set up for photos. So if I get a handle on that, and MAKE space, I could actually try to get better at it. I've always loved photography, and I love posting photos, so I really want to do more with Instagram.

3. Actually WRITE and publish more discussion/non-review posts. My favorite posts always end up being the ones I wrote on a whim, for fun, the discussions that people seem to like reading the most. I have so many ideas. I've got LISTS of ideas. I just don't write them very often. But I want to publish more creative and original content for you guys. And I want to actually start expanding on the ideas I have, instead of leaving them on those lists without being written.

4. Start some new features! I have two specifically in mind here, and one of them would be a guest post feature (because sometimes I just don't want to write posts and hey you guys can do that for me ;). No, but I love the ideas and I want to make them both a regular thing on here. I also have an author guest post feature I'd love to start up, but I'm not sure if authors would be interested in it.

5. Get that 80% badge on NetGalley. LOLOLOL. I mean, it's not an impossible goal, but man, it's been slow-going. I've done better than I have in the past with requesting ARCs, and I don't have a ton of 2016 ones left to read. And I'm determined to at least give them all a try so I can start fresh in 2017. But I can do better, with requesting and with reading them. And I'm still also determined to get through the backlist. I'd had a goal with that and failed spectacularly. So, trying it again! Haha.

6. Keep reading a series a month. I've done so great at this in 2016! I HAVEN'T MISSED A SINGLE MONTH. I started doing this along Danielle's guidelines, but it's become a personal challenge for me now. It's helped me finish series I'd put off and it's helped me knock a bunch of them off my TBR for good. And it's been going really well. I love binge-reading so much, and I am for sure continuing this in 2017.

7. Comment back. omg I just have been The Worst at this the past year. I didn't hit my Year 4 goal at all. But I am determined to make Year 5 better in this regard. I want to spend more time commenting on people's blogs and showing them love. I've slowly been getting back into it with a few faves, but it takes up a lot of time. It is definitely worth it, though. And I plan on finding a system that works for me this year!

8. Incorporate more non-bookish areas of my life. I do this, but nowhere near as much as I'd like to. I've talked about personal things before, and I've done some posts about my favorite TV shows. But I want to do MORE. Books aren't my whole life, you know? So I want to incorporate more non-bookish parts of my life on here, especially my writing. Because that's ALWAYS fun to talk about. ;)

9. And lastly, continue to cultivate the relationships I have and make new ones! This doesn't mean just relationships I have with publishers (but a definite goal of mine is to get more comfortable talking to the contacts I have and try to make new ones), but those of bloggers and authors too. It's both harder and easier to keep in contact with people via social media. Easier because it takes a few seconds to send a message and I love Twitter obviously. ;) Harder because I CAN'T see people IRL. But that makes it more necessary, and also absolutely worth it since I love all of you very much and have made life-long friends here. Cannot wait for another year being a part of this wonderful community. <3


Though the celebration is over, I have the giveaway running until the end of November. I hope you enjoyed these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them! Thanks for following along and being a reader of my blog. You guys are the best. <3 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Highlights of Year 4

Today I thought it'd be fun to share some of the great things that have happened during my 4th year of blogging! :D

1. Being invited to Macmillan's blogger party during BEA week. A moment and a party I will treasure forever! I got to meet a few bloggers I've followed/interacted with for a couple years now (Brittany, Katie, other Katie, Mary, and other Brittany) and I got to meet Marissa Meyer and Leigh Bardugo again. It was such an honor to have been invited and to have gone. And I'm so happy I got to share that with my fave, Shannon.

2. Being added to Mac's mailing list. I'm not trying to brag, but I wanted to share because it's something that was a huge highlight of my 4th year of blogging. I only started requesting physical ARCs consistently last fall, so I felt like I was never gonna have relationships with publishers like other bloggers who have been doing this as long as I have. So it was really wonderful, and I'm so freaking grateful for the opportunities it has brought me.

3. Receiving over 2,000 pageviews on a single post. Apparently people really love the Vampire Academy series, because this was the highest viewed post I've EVER written. And I've never gotten higher than about 900 views on a post before, so this was an incredibly special and amazing accomplishment. THANK YOU!! At last look, it was at 2,512. HOLY SHIT.

4. Being invited to participate in a blog tour from a big publisher. This might seem so small, but as someone who doesn't really have relationships with publicists, being asked if I'm interested in a blog tour for a book is really cool. It's different because it's not a review request, and I've been able to *mostly* control the content I put out with them. I love that aspect.

5. Co-hosting the Shattering Stigmas event with Shannon, Topaz, Erica, Inge and Aly. I loved Shannon, Inge, and Kayla's work last year, and was so honored when Shannon asked me if I wanted to help co-host. Of course I said yes! I was so humbled by the responses I received and how many people wanted to participate. And it was also amazing for me to host a few authors of some of my favorite mental health books. My interview with Krista and Becca Ritchie in particular is one of my favorites that I've shared on the blog. :D

6. Attending BEA for the second year in a row! This went even better than 2015, and I was able to meet so many more bloggers and authors, as well as visit Chicago (one of my fave places). Lots of stress and worry involved, but I'm so glad I went. And that the week went better than was expected. Plus, the central location brought me more bloggers I adore, and I got to just have time to hangout with some of them, which isn't possible at any other time. Thank God for these annual conferences. :)

7. Hosting March Madness for the second year in a row! This year was fraught with more problems and more stress, but the end product was so worth it. I'm not completely sure if I'll be doing this again, since it's such a big undertaking and I still haven't worked out the kinks in it. But I also can't imagine NOT doing it. It's so fun, and I love having authors on my blog. So, we shall see!

8. Road tripping it up north with my friend to see Marissa Meyer on her Winter tour. This isn't totally related to blogging, but since I never would have heard about it otherwise (I did not know how to look for this stuff when I was a non-blogger, and also I wasn't as voracious a reader as I am now), I'm giving the blog credit. It was the BEST time, and one of my favorite memories of 2015.

9. Having a review quoted by the publisher! Not only had Little, Brown sent me the book for review, which is so cool in and of itself since that was my first ARC from them, but they quoted my review! And it was one of the happiest moments for me because I don't always feel good about my reviews. They hardly get the views and comments that my other posts do, and sometimes I feel like people find them boring because they're usually so long. So having my review recognized and shared in such a way was so special to me, and something I cherish.


10. Receiving my *first* physical ARCs/review copies from these publishers! Penguin was actually the first to send me an ARC I requested (along with some unsolicited copies) at the beginning of last year, but I don't really count it because it seemed like a fluke. But then I received Ripple this past September, and it was so exciting! I already mentioned this a little bit above, but Little, Brown completely made my year by sending me Girl in the Blue Coat. And Scholastic sent me a gorgeous finished copy of P.S. I Like You. And omg Tor. Tor Teen also sent me gorgeous finished copies of Truthwitch and Riders. It was a really good year in terms of working with publishers for me, so I can't wait to cultivate the professional relationships I already have and make more!

***Don't forget to enter the giveaway!***