Monday, July 31, 2017

Checking In for the First Half of Summer

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. :)


Well, this is longer than the first half of the summer, but I decided to put this off for a bit. Much has been going on in my work life that I wanted to wait until the month of July was over before I checked in with y'all. So, around the beginning of June, one of my coworkers became our new shift supervisor. Not the coworker we all thought it'd be, but one we were still all good with. At least, I hope it'll be good once everyone settles in with the change. There have been moments of unrest and anger from a lot of people, and this guy had been not really a friend but someone I talked to post-boss title, so it's been a little hard for me personally to manage. It's been tense and stressful for everyone, but it's gotten better lately. His girlfriend is the coworker I'm closest with there too, so we're both trying to figure out a new balance. Should I mention things I've heard from others? Should she mention things she hears from her boyfriend? It's a bit UGH.

My other friend there is our shift lead, so I hear stuff from her too. And it's been good to have the two of them around as our shift hits these snags. We typically spend a lot of time together during work, depending on what jobs we get put on. The company is also starting up a 3rd shift this week, so it'll be really interesting. Or it'll go really badly. The jury is still out on that one, but I don't see the tension slowing down anytime soon. This is a lot of change to throw at our shift specifically in such a short time, and I'm afraid we'll lose even more people than we already have so far. (There are a host of reasons for the recent quitting and firing, but all of this has had a definite negative impact on a lot of people here). I'm doing better with this all than I had in June and early July, and like I said, I've got my friends and I'm still so much happier here than I would be at a different job.

I've been driving a lot more recently, mostly on those longer Fridays we work or when the uncle I carpool with takes vacation days, and I don't even MIND the commute so much anymore. I even drove on a day I didn't have to, just so I could go out after work with people. There aren't big groups anymore, but that's actually better for me, as I feel like you can still have conversations with everyone. I'm friendly with most of my coworkers, and I've enjoyed getting to know some of them a bit more than I have since I started. My shift lead friend had a party last weekend, and it was my first time going to an actual TRUE party. It was an interesting experience. Haha. I mostly stayed by the bonfire, but I had a few drinks, and it was fun after my social anxiety went down. And my friends and I have started making plans for more activities, so while I it's true I don't go out much on weekends, I still have some semblance of a social life! :D

Other than work, not much has been going on. I'm still writing, just not nearly enough. I'd wanted to finish the contemporary WIP redraft before summer ended, but I don't know if that'll happen. My summer has gone by fast, with me reading very little but doing social things with people from work, so I'm not too upset with myself for not doing more. And honestly I'm just so tired of people thinking my weekends are boring or that I need to go out more to be satisfied/fulfilled with my life. I just took the Myer-Briggs personality test and got 99% introverted, so I'm starting to understand myself A LOT more, and I'm done with people commenting on my life as if it's theirs to do so. As if they're owed my explanations or my reasons or my so-called unhappiness. It's aggravating when people think they know best for you. I'm TIRED, guys.

I haven't been blogging much either, and gah. I just don't know. I still love blogging and writing posts and reviewing and just in general this community. I decided to finally participate in the OTSP Secret Sister project, and it's already been a joy. I can't wait to spoil my person and get to know more people better. But as for my blog, I'm starting to feel drained of creativity and passion. This happens at least once a year, so it's not something so huge where I feel like I'm done here, but it sucks because I have all of these books I'M SO EXCITED FOR but hardly feel like reading them. I'm hoping that the reading challenges I signed up for in August will help! But yeah, my summer has been filled with work, weekends of doing whatever the hell I want, and playing computer/video games with my brothers. And I hope that continues because it's been great for me. :)

What has your summer been like, guys? I hope it's been filled with wonderful and fun things and people. Check in with y'all at the end of August! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I'm All About Subscription Boxes

Last year, it had seemed like there was only one or two subscription boxes. At least, ones that were well-known in the community. But now, they are ALL over the place. And that's a good thing since there are different themes and boxes to choose from, but it's hard to sift through them all and find the one that is perfect for you, or that you at least love most of the time. So I thought I'd write a post on my thoughts regarding the three I've tried, and the three that I want to get someday. :D

Subscriptions I Haven't Tried But Want To

While not a box, I still pay a lot of attention to this one. I've not only heard great things about them, but I've liked what I've seen. I just haven't gotten to a point where I want to try them, because it doesn't seem like they do themes, just new releases??? I don't preorder often, but I do worry that I'll get a book I didn't want or one I already bought. But the items they pair with the book are always fun and useful, and literary-themed. And the bags they come in are so cute!

This is a newer one, and they have potential. I haven't loved any of their previous boxes on a whole yet, which is the reason I haven't tried them. But I'm definitely going to keep on the lookout and see where this box goes!

I want to try their subscription SO. BADLY. I've always been impressed with the quality of their boxes, and the thought put into them. But since they're UK-based, holy shit is shipping expensive. I added it up once, and it was like $50 altogether. And I just cannot justify that, especially for a book I haven't read. So, to get me to actually try Fairyloot, it'd have to be for a book I'm absolutely head-over-heels obsessed with, or from a capital FAVE author. I definitely stalk the hashtag on Instagram every month to see the boxes, and they're fun! But luckily, I've only been sad about missing a box ONCE. There are many repeat items in their boxes, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I don't need more candles I won't light or pretty quotes that I don't know. Plus they only do fantasy or science fiction books, but that isn't completely a con for me since fantasy is my favorite genre. The price, though, that is really my hangup with them. So until the book or author makes it a must-have for me, I won't be getting Fairyloot sadly.

A Bad Experience
Last October LitCube had a Beauty and the Beast-themed box, so OF COURSE I had to get it. It was my first experience, and not a great one, so I'm glad it didn't ruin subscription boxes for me. I did write about it in a post last fall, but I wanted to mention it again in this one. The biggest priced item was completely damaged (like it's still usable, but the purpose of the product is ruined), and I probably could have made a fuss, but it just didn't seem worth the energy. I think people were having trouble getting a hold of the owner too. I do LIKE that they pick indie/self-published books, because I'm a firm believer that it does not make a book somehow less the way it's published. (I don't understand the elitism some people feel when discussing self-pubbed books especially). They've also got a Gilmore Girls subscription box, but I don't love that show sadly. And I just feel like the items don't always mesh well with the themes they choose. I know people who really like LitCube. But I don't think I'll be getting a box again.

My Favorites
They are, by far, one of the best in the business. And I don't think I'm the only one saying that. So far, I've gotten three boxes, and bought another, and I love their creativity! tbh, I don't think any since the Wonderland (November 2016) theme have surpassed that box, because that one was AMAZING. Although I'm biased because of my love for Alice in Wonderland. ;) I grabbed the pirate-themed one in March, and while I liked a lot of the items, I didn't overall LOVE it. I also felt quite the same about July's box that I got this past weekend. But I'm SO EXCITED to get yet another Owlcrate; I'm so here for the Something Wicked This Way Comes theme. I think what makes them stand out is just the quality of their boxes. Their themes are pretty unique, and they tend to pick ones that other subscription boxes don't. I mean, the June 2017 one was wanderlust, how cool is that? ALSO. I love that they're adding more exclusive covers to their boxes. That was a huge reason why I bought the June one (as well as the previous Wonderland box). I've loved them more than the originals, tbh!

The Bookish Box
What made me start looking into this subscription was the fact that they did fashion. Each box comes with a shirt, for sure, and other wearable or usable items. Always some type of mug too! Sometimes the shirts don't seem as creative as they could be, but as someone who is always in need of new clothes, I really appreciate them. The sizes have given me a bit of trouble, but that happens when it comes to online shopping. I just need to find the perfect one, and get that each time. I've even grabbed some of their past shirts during their sales. The funny thing though is that I don't generally subscribe to their month's theme, but to their one-time boxes. They've done so many good ones (HP Yule Ball, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, Hogwarts Houses), and I think I prefer them to the month's box, especially after they started adding a book option. Of course since they're a BOOKISH subscription it makes sense, but another thing that attracted me to them was that they DIDN'T do books. It made them unique to all the others. I will obviously still be buying their boxes, though. One can never have too many literary-inspired t-shirts. ;)


I think there are so many positives to subscription boxes, but a major con for me is the fact that I don't know whether I will love the items or not. It can be a toss-up, like when I got a damaged one from LitCube, or when I didn't love all the items in the OwlCrate pirate box. It's always a concern, because they ARE expensive, so you want to make sure you love the whole box, right? There are a few boxes I thought about getting until I saw the fandoms the items were based on, and unless you love them, I highly doubt you'd love the box. But to each their own, yeah? Sometimes the boxes don't have fandoms involved. Or if they do, it's only one or two. So I personally just wait until I a) know the book, b) at least like the fandoms, and c) love the theme.

Another thing that can be hard to determine is whether or not the subscription box is a GOOD one. There are *so many* that have popped up after this business started getting more popular, and I've been too wary to try them. Spearcraft seems fun, but their items just don't scream high-quality??? The Enchanted Book Box is one that I went to try until I saw the price. For a US-based box, it is ridiculous. It was as much as Fairyloot would be for me! So I've kind of just stuck to the older, more reputable ones. But I check out so many of them on Instagram. I have an obsession. 😁

Have you guys gotten any of these subscription boxes yet? Or any different ones? If so, what did you think of them? I'd definitely love your opinions on the top three, as I haven't tried them yet. :D

Monday, July 24, 2017

Challenge Accepted: ARC August

hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat!

I always enjoy participating in this reading challenge, because I am just TERRIBLE at reading and reviewing ARCs. Although I don't request nearly as much as I used to, I'm still not great at keeping up or getting through that backlist. So I like pushing myself by setting goals. And participating in a challenge always seems to help that, especially since I'm so competitive WITH MYSELF. LOL.

But this August, it is definitely not going to be easy. For one, I'm also participating in the Make Me Read It Readathon, and only three of the books I placed in the poll are ARCs. (Though it definitely looks like I will be reading one of those for sure!). For two, I work a long second shift job and so I only generally get time to read on the weekends. But I'm not going to let that stop me!

My official goal is 8, but my unofficial one is 10. I'm not trying to push *too* hard, given a series I also need to read in August, and work. So I'm actually making a goal that is a bit more doable than what I would normally say. Haha. And here is my TBR for the challenge! I'm definitely going to be reading a few of these below, but I'm adding some that I MIGHT read if I have the time.
Make Me Read It

August ARCs

September ARCs

Some I Missed

I might even read books not on this list, depending on my mood! But the priorities are the ones that aren't out yet, plus My Lady Jane. I'm SO EXCITED for it, plus all of the other books on this list. In particular, my September ARCs. I cannot wait to dive into those stories! I'll try to track my progress on Twitter, and I'll definitely be posting a wrap-up after August ends. Wish me luck! And good luck to you guys as well! :D

Are you guys participating in ARC August too? What are some of the books you're hoping to read during the month? :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Make Me Read It 2017: Goals and Poll

I was so happy when I asked Val, and she said her and Ely were planning on hosting their readathon again this summer. It's so fun because YOU GUYS get to pick what I'm going to be reading! 

Unfortunately this year I don't see myself reading very many books. I think in the previous readathons, I managed about 3 during the week. That seems to be a good number, even though I wish I could read more. But this year, because of my job, even THAT is going to be tough to hit. However, it *is* my goal. I think I can definitely still do it! And as for the books, I'm choosing popular, already-released books because it's gotten me to read those I kept pushing off. 

So, without further ado, which of these books should I read during this readathon? You can vote for more than one! :D

Which Books Should I Read?

My Life Next Door
Red Queen
Flame in the Mist
If I Stay
Every Last Word
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
My Lady Jane
Poll Maker

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fortune Favors the Flirtatious

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: June 27th, 2017!

From Goodreads...
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

My Review!
*Minor spoilers!

When I heard this described as an epic road trip set in the eighteenth century, I knew I had to have it. Add in a bisexual MC, banterful dialogue, an adventure that turns into an enthralling yet dangerous mystery, and it had all the makings for a favorite of mine. And guess what? I fell so deeply in love with it that I may or may have not bought a second copy of it. It was *that* good. There were moments I wasn’t sure of the storyline, but I found I did not super care if it became less a road trip and more a cat-and-mouse game, because I just loved these characters so much and I wanted them to find their happiness in a past world that tried to snuff it out.

Henry (Monty) Montague, the roguish devil, was born in a time where queer people were persecuted, where love was not love and history erased those who lived outside the box. Monty’s father tried to beat it out of him, tried to laugh off his son’s sexuality, tried to mold him into what he wanted him to be. Monty, through this unbelievable adventure, finally had the chance to escape his father and the abuse he suffered. I loved this precious bisexual cinnamon roll so, so much. He was arrogant and selfish and exasperating at times, but he was dealing with a lot. I loved the care in which the author wrote his character, one who has PTSD and a penchant for alcohol, but who is still laughing and trying. To be a better person, a better friend, a better lover. To be himself even when his world did not understand him. He was reckless and charming and full of light, a rapscallion who loved with his whole heart. A heart that was reserved for his best friend.

Percy was the level-headed one, the one who tried to keep Monty in line but who joined in the reckless abandon when he wanted to. He was a quiet character, soft-spoken, gentle in his dealings with Monty, even when he’s angry and hurt. Part of it is because he’s biracial in a world trying to keep him small and invisible, but part of it is just who he is. But he was also adventurous and full of life, keeping up with Monty and going along with his schemes, even when he knew better. Percy was a musician who was dealing with a health problem that took them on this wild, high-stakes ride that challenged all of them. I loved him so, just as much as Monty, if not more honestly. He was such a genuinely good person, so caring, and deserved all the good things in life, especially a happy-ever-after.

Gah, these precious boys kill me. Their romance was fraught with obstacles and danger, given that queer relationships were illegal, and considered a sin. But their love was so pure and true and full of hundreds of small memories throughout their years of friendship. They’d always been pretty open with each other, and physically close, but it wasn’t until they got older that romantic feelings developed. That they both realized they loved each other. It took them awhile to get to that point, amid being chased across The Continent by a duke who wanted them dead. But I loved that it made them stronger, apart and together, and that they found a way to say fuck everyone and get their happiness. Maybe it wasn’t historically accurate, but I don’t care, I think there were definitely queer people from the past who were able to live how they wanted to. I’m so glad they got their HEA. <3

The author knows her stuff. The historical-ness of the book was easily readable and made me feel as if I was there, on the Grand Tour with my babies. I’m not surprised, though. Her #BygoneBadassBroads Twitter feature is one of my favorite things. And omg I so fucking cannot wait for Felicity’s book, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. I loved that fierce, intelligent, and feminist woman, and she absolutely NEEDS her own story. Gentleman’s Guide was a banterific, historical romp around Europe with a trio of characters who were tested by the elements, by each other, and by themselves. But who stuck together, despite everything, and who found their way out of the mess Monty got them in. This 500+ page novel felt like nothing, and I could’ve read another hundred pages of Monty and Percy’s story, tbh. It was SO, SO GOOD AND JUST DELIGHTFUL.

Fortune favors the flirtatious.


Monday, July 10, 2017

What I've Been Writing, Reading, and Watching Lately

I decided against doing Camp NaNo since I'm still revising my YA contemporary. Right now I'm just more interested in editing rather than word counts. However, the amount of people doing word sprints and cheering each other on has given me motivation. I haven't worked on it as much as I should have, but I'm still making progress, and that is what matters. :D I'm also still sloooowly working on my dark fantasy, and I'm over 18k at this point. I wanted to be so much farther, but the lack of me building the world is a hindrance, so I NEED to spend some time on that instead. But when I do think of a scene that wants so badly to be written, or a little plot bunny, I write them down immediately. I'm on chapter 4 right now, and while I like the previous chapters enough, I know they could be better. So I'm not SO happy with this one because it feels like everything I've written for the later chapters are 100% better. However, one of my weaknesses is beginnings (like probably the first 5 or 6 chapters), so I won't be too hard on myself. It's always easier once I get into the rhythm of the story, and once I've gotten that foundation upon which to build.

I'm in-between reading many books right now. I started a few Saturday that just weren't cutting it: Damaged Like Us by KB Ritchie, Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas, and The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. I did end up reading Lucky in Love by Kasie West, but it was meh. :( But then I got hooked on The Winner's Curse and am arriving very late to this party. I can totally see why a lot of people love these books, and I'm excited to continue the series! I'm also still making progress with Always by Nina Lane, which is making me all kinds of sad and disappointed because this is an add-on in the series, and I don't at this point in the story think it was necessary at all.

Once I'm done writing this, I'll probably either dive into The Winner's Crime, or continue The Cruel Prince (which has not yet got me enough to keep reading). But I'm very moody re: books right now, so we shall see! :p

Night Shift. I'd seen it around Netflix and finally decided to give it a chance, and I got HOOKED. I watched the first season (like 8 episodes, I think???) in less than a day, and I really enjoyed the hell out of it. I'm currently in season 3, and I'm happy to see that it's still going strong on TV, but I haven't been as into it lately. I'm so over the relationship mess with the two MCs, but I do still like this show and its characters. It's kind of a Grey's Anatomy ripoff, but I think it tries to do good. It's touched upon a lot of subjects: sexuality, race, mental health, etc, and I like that it's centered around war veterans. But it's lost me a little, in trying too hard to be Grey's and with the annoying romantic drama. However, I'm going to finish this season off and keep going because I think it's still worth the watch. I JUST WANT JORDAN AND TC TO STOP BEING SO DAMN STUBBORN.

Quantico. I'd always been a fan, ever since I watched the first episode when it premiered. But when it comes to every show except two, I generally only get caught up on seasons when they're put up on Netflix. So, I waited AGAIN. It was hard, because the season 1 finale was a killer on the feels, but I'M BACK AT IT. And I'm loooving this season. I love the characters: Alex, Ryan, Shelby, Nimah/Raina. The new additions are intriguing too, and I'm so invested in seeing where they all end up. And the whole CIA-training is fascinating as fuck. I love that it's such a huge part of this. I can't wait to finish the season, though I've no doubt it's going to put my heart through the wringer.

Oh! I also finally watched the live-action Beauty and the Beast last month, and I quite enjoyed it. I didn't love it, but tbh, I hadn't expected to. The original is my *favorite* Disney movie, so it had a high bar to top. And even though it didn't, this is one movie I will be rewatching for sure. I LOVED all the casting so much (Emma, Ian, Ewan, Audra, Luke, SO MANY FAVES), exceeept for the Beast. The actor just didn't grow on me, sadly, and I didn't really feel much chemistry between him and Emma. But even still, I'm just so glad I liked it enough for a rewatch. I was SO worried, for a reason, but it was a good different. And so much better than the live-action Cinderella, imo.

So, that's it for me! What have you been up to lately? Got any good book or show/movie recommendations? Let's talk! :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

ALA Annual Recap: Day 2

I was sad I couldn’t sleep in a bit for Sunday, because certain publishers (*cough* Little, Brown and Penguin Random House *cough*) decided to schedule book drops at nine fucking in the morning. Which was the most unintelligent decision of all drops/signings I witnessed last weekend. You do not drop your two biggest titles at the same time, and then not expect a stampede. People fucking RAN. It was crowded and there was pushing and shoving, and dear Lord it probably wasn’t as bad as Macmillan’s thing from BEA 2016, but it was pretty damn fucking close to it. And afterward, I had no idea Penguin was doing an actual drop so I missed out on Wonder Woman, which had been my #1 priority. I was able to grab The Cruel Prince, Invictus, and Gunslinger Girl though. But it was disappointing given how much I love Leigh’s books. However, the coolest thing ever happened next and I will probably continue to fangirl over it for eternity.

Emery Lord’s signing was at 10, so I walked around for a bit, and then I figured I might as well see what Bloomsbury’s booth was like. There were only two people waiting, so I hopped in, hoping once I met Emery I’d be able to get to Alexandra Bracken’s signing at 10:30. (I wasn’t able to, which only made me a little sad because I wanted to meet her again. Missing the book wasn’t a big deal). Anyway, Emery was at an author thing, so she was running late. But Blooms didn’t rush the signing, which I so, so appreciated, especially after it was my turn. After a back and forth of How are you today? Good, how are you? she said I looked familiar. And I was like, we haven’t met before. But she mentioned the internet and I laughed and said yeah, I’m on Twitter a lot. She was like, your name starts with an H, don’t tell me. And then she got it, and I was like omgggg I can’t believe you recognized me. I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE IT. You know, I’m *really* good at this too, so I didn't find it creepy but flattering. I’m sure she gets so many msgs and mentions a day that I thought I just got lost in the shuffle. But NO. And my heart was sooooaring. She’s one of my forever faves and I’m so glad I got to meet her and tell her how much The Names They Gave Us means to me. And just, gah. *heart-eyes forever*
(huge shout-out to Zoey for taking all the pics for me, esp documenting my experience meeting Emery, since posed pictures weren't an option)

So yeah, I was like on Cloud 9. Sabrina, Zoey, and I had quite a bit of time to chill before this Penguin panel that we wanted to go to, and when we saw how small the line for Mary Weber’s signing was, we hopped in it. I still haven’t read her Storm Siren trilogy, but she was super nice and I cannot wait to read her newest book. Our big thing for Sunday was that panel, which lemme talk about real quick. It was to generate book buzz for Penguin titles, and when Sabrina asked the same publicist who had mentioned it to her later if it was okay if bloggers came, she was like yes! We love bloggers! So, you know, NOT EVERYONE HATES US AND WANTS US GONE FROM ALA. They were handing out ARCs and mimosas and they had these cute little tote bag and ice cream scoop goodies sitting on the chairs. It was interesting, and Zoey and I ended up staying for the whole thing. After that, we found our way back into the exhibit hall and signings we wanted to hit up.

I met Kerri Maniscalco again, and scored Hunting Prince Dracula. I really liked her first book, didn’t love it unfortunately, but I’m really excited about this one. And since Brandy Colbert had a short signing line across the aisle, I was able to jump in there and get a copy of Little & Lion, which is one of my highly anticipated fall titles! Somewhere before the afternoon hit too, we all got stuck in this mess of a crowd for Melissa Albert’s signing for The Hazel Wood. I’d just like to mention that I am not naive enough to believe that all bloggers behave professionally and politely at these conferences. It was apparent at both of the ALAs I’ve attended, and at this signing. The Mac publicists tried to shove so many people in one small space, and then there were others who were blocking the booth, even though publicists kept telling them not to and the author was sitting on a chair in the corner and signing copies on her damn lap. It was a DISASTER. And honestly ALA really could’ve used an autographing area like BEA has. So yes, I’m aware of the bad behavior. But as I’ve stressed, you’re not looking at badges very often, so you never know which group someone belongs to or if they belong at all.

I’m sure some of them were bloggers. I wouldn’t be surprised, given behavior I’ve witnessed from my own group at ALA, compared with BEA. But that’s another post for another day. ;) After all of this, my last big item of the day was Anna-Marie McLemore’s signing at 2. AND IT WAS SO AMAZING TO MEET HER. She seemed really surprised I’d read the book already, but I’m glad I got to tell her how much I love Wild Beauty. And just meet her in general, as she’s become one of my favorite authors. Then I hopped into Penguin’s booth afterward and got Whichwood + a yummy chocolate-covered strawberry. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get it, so wanted to do another little shout-out to the sweet Nicole from Feed Your Fiction Addiction for getting me a copy of it anyway (which she got to keep herself instead). :) Once over, we all hung around for the Foolish Hearts drop at 3 p.m. And theeeen it was time to say goodbye to Zoey, which SUCKED. I’m so glad she was able to drive down for the conference and that we got to spend so much time together. No one can make me cry over the marauders and Sirius like she does. :p

After we left ALA, Sabrina and Shannon and I parked and walked to the Disney store because OBVIOUSLY. I picked up a few things for the fam and a shirt for myself, and then I went to Lush for the first time with Shannon, which was all she could talk about, even weeks leading up to the conference. Hahaha. Then we picked up Portillo’s for the ride home (which disappointed me greatly this time, but OH WELL). We both spent the night at Sabrina’s, and I wasn’t even mad that I woke up while Shannon was getting ready to leave, because I could actually say goodbye to her, which always fucking suuuuucks. EVERY SINGLE TIME. It doesn’t get any easier, even after all these conferences together. Then I slept in because my mom didn’t care what time she met up with us to get me. So I got to chat with Sabrina for a bit more, who is honestly one of my favorite human beings of ever, and I’m so happy we live less than 2 hours away from each other. But I was also definitely excited to get home and rewind for a bit. It was a LONG weekend, and an even longer past week of work, so I finally got my much-deserved introvert time. Can't wait to get to all these awesome books I picked up from the conference.. ;)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

ALA Annual Recap: Day 1

Originally, it had only been Shannon and I going to this conference, but then our friend Sabrina hopped on board and decided to drive to Chicago. So we all planned to meet at her place. I spent a good five or six hours there before Shannon arrived (she was driving from PA, which was like ten hours!), and it was awesome. There was so much time to talk and just chill, and then when Shannon got there, we did a little shopping before we headed down to Chicago. Shannon had never been to Meijer before, and she thought it was just a grocery store. LOLOL. After picking up the essentials (alcohooool) we were on the road. It was honestly so fun to have a mini road trip.

Once we got to Chicago, we found our hotel and settled in. We were all so tired and didn’t want to get out so we just ordered in pizza (and cheesecake. yum). And also had some alcohol while playing a little of Cards Against Humanity, IN WHICH I TRIED TO BE NORMAL BUT THAT QUICKLY ENDED because the whole point is to be funny/dirty. So, I tried, and I think I ended up understanding this game a lot. AND I ONLY PLAYED ONE CARD WHERE I HATED MYSELF FOR IT. We may or may not have decided that playing some more rounds at 2 a.m. on Sunday was a good idea. *crylaughing emoji* I never get a lot of sleep during these conference days tbh. So much to fun to be had instead!

AND THEN IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF ALA ANNUAL. Which omg guys I was not expecting BEA 2.0. After the chill atmosphere of midwinter, I wanted to curl into a ball in the corner. We didn’t get our badges until after 9, so it was actually good because we missed the initial crowds pushing into the booths. But SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I think in the morning Penguin’s booth was the worst because people were starting to line up for Marie Lu’s signing. I ended up not doing that and just walked around with Zoey, Sabrina, and Shannon. It was like midwinter in that you mostly asked for books, but because of the crowds, it was both hard to get anywhere and also find a publicist who wasn’t already busy.

But we got to pick up a lot of books that we all wanted. I think Bloomsbury was one of the first booths I went to and I received More Than We Can Tell and Reign the Earth. After that, I could not begin to tell you where we went or what books I got. Haha. We split up, and Zoey and I just kept walking around to booths. At one point, we made our way over to the small press area and we were like OMG WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE I FEEL SO WEIRD. We were looking for Sky Pony Press and Entangled Teen (which I did not realize was now under Macmillan) for YA Broody Hero and 27 Hours. We actually found Sky Pony when Carrie’s signing was happening, so we got to meet her and get the book.

So, then Zoey and I made our way back to Harper, and we waited awhile because we did not want to cross into their actual booth space to get a publicist’s attention. (Someone earlier that day had equated it to being like a kid at a candy store, where you can’t go behind the glass and touch what’s there. Which is ACCURATE. Haha. Though people do it anyway, I still feel weird about it). BUUUUUT while we creepily waited around, I realized the group like in front of us had Angie Thomas in it. And she saw us and was like, oh, did you need to get back here? Then when we said no bc again I FEEL WEIRD ABOUT GOING INTO THE BOOTH SPACE, she thought we’d been waiting to meet her. So, we felt even more creepy because of that, but she was SO nice and adorable, and we got pictures with her! I’m still like omg I cannot believe I just randomly met Angie Thomas while at Harper and got to tell her I loved her book. #thebest

We all finally decided to just sit for awhile and get some food, so we relaxed for over an hour with Amber from Du Livre and planned the time we’d meet up for Maggie Stiefvater’s signing at 4 p.m. I definitely know we headed back down to Disney’s booth afterward, because I wanted to ask about Alexandra Bracken’s newest (they didn’t have copies left that day). Earlier Zoey and I had gone and asked about The Belles and was told they were gone. But Sabrina saw a whole stack of copies and asked a new publicist, who was super nice and gave us all the book. It really did depend on which publicist you asked when it came to books. LOL. But it was great because I’m sure Dhonielle’s signing on Sunday filled up early, and I wanted to meet one of my fave authors instead.

I had wanted to meet Sandhya Menon and get a signed copy of When Dimple Met Rishi, but Simon & Schuster did something strange with the line and made people sign up for it??? IDK but Zoey and I were late to the party, I guess, so we decided to head out to Scholastic’s booth early to see if a line was already forming for Maggie’s signing. AND IT WAS. OVER AN HOUR BEFORE THE ACTUAL SIGNING. So it was a good call that Zoey made, knowing we should be there super early, and we all ended up receiving copies of All the Crooked Saints. Gah, I can’t wait to read it. I told Maggie that too, and she was like: I hope you enjoy it, but if you don’t, please don’t tell me. Such a Maggie thing to say, tbh.

I was really sad about possibly missing Victoria Schwab because I didn’t want to go to her panel but wanted to meet her. Whiiiich happened anyway because I was more interested in chilling out in the food court instead. AND I missed her when she was in Michigan the previous week, such is my luck. But then I found out that she was doing a little meet and greet at a local bookstore in the afternoon, so Zoey and I headed there after we were done for the day. And omg I am so glad we made the trip. Victoria has become one of my favorite authors, ever since falling in love with A Darker Shade of Magic, so it was amazing to get to gush about the series and talk about whatever with her. AND I WILL TREASURE THIS PICTURE FOREVER.

Zoey dropped me back off at the hotel, and Shannon and I headed to Umami Burger for a small get together with some other bloggers we know. I’m a picky eater, so I was surprised that I loved the food, and it was fun to chat about ALA and blogging and to be able to just rant about our standing within the community. (I have Thoughts on the attitude surrounding bloggers and the recent post-conference drama. I might write a post, but idk. Do I have that energy to defend myself going to these trade shows anymore? Not really. I’m just fucking tired of feeling like nothing I do here matters because I’m ~just a blogger~ and not a librarian or bookseller, which is so much kind of bullshit, it’s ridiculous). ANYWAY. I didn’t feel like I wasn’t wanted by the publishers and publicists, and their opinions count more, so unless they 100% kick us out, I will continue to go. I’M SO HERE FOR ANNUAL 2018 IN NEW ORLEEEEANS. So yeah, day 1 was great. :D

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Stealing the Hearts of Storms

Title: Roar (Stormheart, #1)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: June 13th, 2017!
*Finished copy kindly provided by Tor Teen.

From Goodreads...
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

My Review!
This book starts off like a cookie-cutter fantasy. You’ve got the super special princess MC who doesn’t even know how super special she is, the arrival of more than one love interest, and said heroine who decides to run away from her impending fate and take control of her destiny. Except, along the way, she finds out secrets that threaten her entire past and future and view on life. Like, pretty standard for a lot of YA fantasy novels. But where this one felt unique was in the world, and the magic, and the idea of taking the hearts of storms.

Aurora aka Rora aka Roar was a likable character, though at times exasperating because I could not always understand her actions. And she wasn’t quite a special snowflake, because she does not have any storm magic herself. But she wants it so badly, so when an opportunity presents itself, she flees. She pushed herself hard, was determined to go back to her kingdom a stronger person. She kept going, even when she wanted to quit, and that perseverance endeared her to me. And endeared her to the others, especially Locke.

But I was not here for this romance. Like, at times I really liked it and thought Locke and Roar could become a ship. However, Locke did and said some shit that did not sit well with me. Aentee from Read at Midnight highlighted a lot of why he was problematic (why both “love interests” were), and I have to agree. None of this was ever addressed; in fact, the author made it okay by having her MC accept it even when she was angry or hurt. So even though Roar recognized how wrong some of this was a few times, it did not make up for the gross behavior.

I was, however, here for the storm-hunting band of misfits who enfold Roar into their group even though they’re unsure of her. I loved the banter between these friends who have known each other for years, who have each other’s backs in this dangerous profession, who know when to press boundaries or hold off. Jinx, Ransom, Bait, Duke, the mysterious Sly. They’ve faced death together and come out the other side of it with strong relationships. I can’t wait for the next book, because I REALLY want more of their stories!

It’s not like mind-blowingly amazing or anything, but I quite enjoyed it. A LOT. I’m a fan of runaway princess stories (though honestly this felt super reminiscent of The Remnant Chronicles, which is an all-time favorite series, so I noticed the similarities) and magical worlds that feel fresh and new. The storm aspect of it was interesting to me, though I’m not sure how I feel about some of the revelations in this book. But it was such fun, and I’m very curious to see where this is going after that ending. So I’ll definitely be reading the sequel!