Summer Book Releases // The Hottest Reads of The Season

Admittedly, I’m not actually sure which books will be the most popular this summer, but I realized that I haven’t done a “new books” post in a while. So despite the fact that I’m completely unqualified to tell you which new books you should read this summer, I’m going to give it my best shot. Without further ado, the 5 books that I thought looked best when scrolling through summer release lists!!!

Continue reading “Summer Book Releases // The Hottest Reads of The Season”

Guest Post: How To Start Writing a Book, by Savannah

I’m super excited about today’s post, because it’s written by Savannah over at The Book Prophet!  I absolutely adore her blog, because it’s so full of great reviews and posts and literally everything.  Plus, she’s great to talk to!  So if you’re looking for an awesome new blog to follow, head over and check her out.  Starting to write a book is SO FREAKIN HARD and so Savannah’s post will surely come in handy for lots of us bloggers who want to take the next step to becoming a writer.  Make sure you let her know how much you appreciate the help by commenting!

How to Start Writing a Book

Hello everyone! My name is Savannah and I blog over at The Book Prophet. Joce gave me this great opportunity to write a post on her blog and I decided that I would talk to y’all about the fundamentals of writing a book.

Besides being an avid reader myself, I am also a writer, as many of you probably are as well. Reading and writing kind of go hand-in-hand. If you like reading books, there’s a big chance you love writing them as well! Only, reading a book and writing a book are two very different things.

When you read a book, you’re being carried away to another land, while when you write a book you’re the one to carry people away.

Sounds more difficult, right?

Well, it is.

I’m here to give you that extra push to start writing the book you’ve been imagining in your head since the beginning of time. You might not know where to start, you might be too afraid, or you just might think you can’t do it.

I mean, those are all valid excuses, but they’re stupid excuses too.

I’m here to remedy those doubts because I used to have those doubts.

TBH I still do.

Side note: There’s no particular order to do these steps in.

Choose your project

All projects start with an idea. Once you have an idea, then you can expand that idea and start thinking about what characters would fit into that idea, create a structure for your story, a world, etc.

You might also be wondering how you know if the idea you have is THE idea. Well, little grasshopper, when you find the right project to start you get a tingly feeling in your stomach and you can’t stop thinking about your characters and story!

With the book I’m currently writing, I am always thinking about how my characters would feel in a certain situation, plot points to add or delete, etc. These characters and the story I want to tell is flowing through my veins and when you’re passionate about something, you will write it.

Create your characters

Creating characters that are unique and three dimensional is so hard! Besides world building, creating characters has to be one of the most difficult parts of writing. What helped me create my characters is by filling out a character form (http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun98/how-to-create-a-character-profile-6986).

Filling out all the entire form forced me to learn about my characters from every angle and point of view possible. You never know when you’ll need to tap into your character’s past or delve into their passions and emotions!

These forms not only help you learn about your character, but it also helps remind you of who your character is. I think we all sometimes forget vital aspects to our characters. I for some reason can’t ever remember their birthdays.

Create your setting

Whether your book takes place in a fictional world or a real-life location, you have to have a mental picture of what that world looks like. When you already know what it looks like – and even smells like – then when you get around to describing it in your book, you’ll be both consistent and less stressed.

Having a world where your characters live and thrive and die in is something that’s way more important than you’d think. Depending on where your character lives can change aspects of your character.

For example, if your character lives on a pirate ship they’ll probably know how to fight and will automatically know how to swim! And life on a pirate ship would make anybody kick butt with a sword.

Outline your plot

Outlining isn’t necessary, but it helps a lot once you actually start writing your book. If you don’t have an outline it can feel like you’re walking through a desert with no map or any direction to – anywhere, really. I’ve only outlined one of my books and it’s the book I’ve had the least trouble writing AND the most fun writing! Although outlining isn’t necessary – I’ve heard loads of successful, published authors don’t outline – it does help you from getting writer’s block and from feeling lost in your own book.

I hope this post helped you figure out how to start writing your book! Now go and let the words flow because there’s no better time than today.

Or tomorrow, if you’re a procrastinator like me.


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Did you adore Savannah’s post? Wasn’t it GREAT advice for starting your book? What’s your current WIP? Are you a procrastinator too? Do you love Savannah as much as I do? 

Check Savannah out: Website | Twitter

August Intro: TBR and Future Goals

I actually cannot believe that it’s August, because that means I’M LEAVING FOR COLLEGE SOON. WAY TOO SOON. WAY WAY WAY TOO SOON.  Don’t get me wrong I’m super excited I’m just freaking out too. And you guys should be too, because gods only know how much I’m going to be able to blog in college.  It’s a whole new world out there and I’m not sure if I’m ready to experience it.  Time management? Like WHAT? Remind me what that is again?  Since it’s the last month of summer, I’m going to try to make a reasonable* TBR and set goals that I think I can genuinely reach.  Here we go.

*yes, yes, I know reasonable isn’t really my strong suit.  But I’ll succeed this time, I PROMISE (cue awkward laughing)

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Ebook / eARCs

Not the Only SkyThe Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendSelect (Untitled #1)

  1. Not the Only Sky— Yes, yes I know I’ve been reading this for three months and so shouldn’t be putting other books on this list too since I really need to finish this one, but I promise I’ve been putting work in on it recently.  It’s not that bad, really.
  2. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend— I got this book from JellyBean, they finally opened it up the the US (YAY), and I can’t wait to read it. It looks adorably fun and the ultimate bookish book so CAN’T WAIT.
  3. Select— This is an October ARC that I desperately want to finish before October, which is why it’s on the chart in August. That should mean that I’ll finish it by late September.

Physical Books

The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children, #1)The Valley of Horses (Earth's Children, #2)Big Little LiesThose Girls

  1. Clan of the Cave Bear— I’m already about halfway through this one (it’s only the 26th as I write this, so maybe I’ve finished it by now, but I’m not gonna update my July Wrap or this post, so let’s pretend and it’ll all be okay) and I FREAKING LOVE IT.  AND IT’S A SERIES.  My mom sort of forced me to start, and it’s so well written it makes me work to read it but yet is actually a great story I’m not sure why it took me so long to find this beauty.
  2. Valley of the Horses— The Clan of the Cave Bear Sequel, ya’ll (i’m not sure what’s gotten into me).  I’m not sure if i’ll read these both one after the other or interject one in between, but I can’t wait.  Can’t wait at all.
  3. Big Little Lies— This has made several appearances on my TBR, but this is gonna be the month that I will truly do it.  I like Liane Moriarty books, they’re predictably constant in their 4 star-ness, and plus I want to watch the TV show, so it’ll be a double win.
  4. Those Girls— I got this book at the library for 50 cents, and it looks incredible, and is in perfect condition.  It’s a light paperback, so I’m putting it on the TBR solely to bring to the beach with me.

Audiobooks

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

  1. Strange the Dreamer— This is 18.5 hours, so I think it’ll be the only one I’ll finish this month, but it’s also something I’m VERY VERY VERY EXCITED to read.  I can’t believe it finally came in on Overdrive.  now I just have to finish it before it expires.

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Blogging

Reach 450 Followers– I have so much trouble setting this goal every month, because either I dream wayyyyy too big or I don’t dream at all and assume that literally only 1 person will find me and want to follow me, because let’s be honest who would really want to follow me.  I think 450 is a solid goal, and it’ll make me super happy to get there!

Post a Review Every Friday– I think that this will be an easy goal, it’s just a matter of sitting down and actually writing the posts.  I already have 2 scheduled, and I’ve read enough books to have one for every Friday, it’s just a matter of writing them.

Find 3 New Blogs to Follow– I haven’t “gotten out” into the blogging world in a long time, and it’s sort of stalling me out in terms of new followers and also just enjoying the blogging community.  I want to make sure I follow at least 3 blogs that I GENUINELY ENJOY this month, and comment consistently on their posts.

Comment on Blog Posts More– This sort of relates to the last one, but I want to make sure I’m commenting on my current bloggy friends whose posts I already love and enjoy, because I need to KEEP UP MY FRIENDSHIPS.  Yes, Joce, this takes work.

Writing

Finish outlining Chemical Capitalists– I set this aside for a long time now, but I’m starting to get the feeling where I NEED to work on it again, and so hopefully August will be the month where I crank through and write my outline.  I epically failed camp nano and so this will be a good makeup month to get me on track for real NaNo in November.

Decide what I want to do with my Calipso story and Walk story– I wrote a half outline for Walk, and I’ve been thinking about this other story for a while, and I just want to think and figure out which one I want to work on first, or if I want to put CC before either of them.

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What are your plans for August? Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What do you think?

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June Wrap: It Means Summer Lovin’ and Readin’

This month was not nearly as productive as I was hoping, in any sense of the word, but nonetheless I did decent, and have some exciting accomplishments to share with you all.  I think what I’m most proud of is that I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL and so that’s like 12 years of my life* that have finally come to a close.  Also, it’s the first summer in my memory where I literally have no summer homework to do, which is awesome, and as you read this I am on my first of 2 major vacations that I’m super excited about.  So this month is good, I just haven’t read quite enough yet.

*I’m counting Kindergarten-High School… it did not, in fact, take me 12 years to get through high school

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If you don’t remember, I put 7 books on my TBR for this month, which is more than I have ever ever read in one month before.  I’m proud to say that I’ve finished 4/7 books on this list, as well as 5 total books.  Once again I’ve had trouble sticking to the TBR because BOOKS are all so good and I’m an easily distracted individual.

Kindle/Ebooks

The Darkest LiesThe Handmaid's Tale

The Darkest Lies (3/5)– I’ve written a review of this one, although it won’t be published for a couple of months, and yet I still don’t have all of my thoughts in order.  First off, the beginning was terrible, but the end was good.  Second, I hated the MC but liked some of the others?? I don’t know how to explain it, the whole thing was just confusing.

The Handmaid’s Tale (5/5)– DAMNNNNN this book was so good.  It was one of the first dystopian books ever, and the scary part is that everything it talks about feels so so so real like it could happen next week which is a horrible thing but reality could still go this way.  It’s super women-oppressive but the MC is super smart, and I love the way everything plays out.  You would never know that this was written in the 80’s, and I HIGHLY recommend to everyone.

Physical Books

The Glass Castle: A MemoirHarry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)

The Glass Castle (5/5)– This was a memoir so I was super nervous about it going in, but honestly it was so so so amazing, read like fiction, and was thoroughly enjoyable.  I have such a hard time believing any of this is real just because of how extraordinarily difficult the author’s life was.  She is remarkable and I have so much respect for her, her story, and her writing.

The Cursed Child (??)– I’VE FINALLY READ IT!!! It was super good, and I really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure how to rate it because I have the HP thing that makes me want to give everything remotely related 5 quick stars, but on the other hand the story wasn’t that good.  And plus it’s super hard to judge a play when all you’ve seen is the script.

Audiobooks

Orange Is the New Black

Orange is the New Black (5/5)– This is another absolutely incredible book.  I started watching the TV show and fell in love, and so I had to read the book, because although I heard they were so completely different, I liked the general concept, and the fact that OITNB book is a true story drew me in.  It did not let down.  Piper told the story in a way that drew me in and made it felt like fiction while giving true details and enlightening me as to how the prison system works.

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Goodreads Challenge (22/30)– I’m going to have to update my reading challenge again because I’ve gotten through SO MANY BOOKS.  This is making my entire year, I haven’t felt this good about how much I’ve read for so long.

What’s In a Name (2/5)

Read Harder Challenge (11/24)

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  • June Book Releases— I wrote about all of the most exciting-sounding books that came out this month! There’s so many good ones especially in the thriller genre, so if you like that you should check it out!
  • I’ll Give you the Sun Review— For the first time in practically ever, I had a review get a ton of views!! IGYTS was sooooooooooo good and I recommend it to literally everyone, and so if you haven’t read the review or the book you should get on that.
  • Midyear Update— Since this is the halfway month of the year, I wrote a post on all of the books I’ve read, and all of my best posts for the entire year!  It was really cool to reflect on everything that I’ve read and how awesome this year has been so far.
  • Using the Word “Said”— I wrote a discussion post on whether or not you should use the word “said” while you write, and I loved all of the feedback and comments that people gave to add to my own thoughts.
  • Interview with Nia— Nia is an AHMAZING blogger and I got to interview her which was super awesome because she’s really funny and great and you should read this interview (can you tell I’m EXTREMELY overtired as I write this post? It’s all rambling and messy and gross so I’m sorry)

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  • Blogging and Reading Confessions by Lauren— I just followed Lauren recently, and I loved reading about her true reading and blogging style!! I related to so many of the reading confessions and although the blogging ones didn’t really apply much to ME, I still enjoyed reading them.
  • Mid Year Book Tag by Nia— I really enjoyed hearing about all of Nia’s favorite books, and I had a lot added to my TBR!!!! If you’re looking for recs or just to catch up on Nia, this is a great post to read.
  • Elm took Blogging to the Real World— Taking your blog from purely internet to “real” life is a huge step and one that every blogger dreams of, and I’m super proud of Elm (but not really surprised) about the fact that she was able to make a difference in people’s lives and take her wonderful perspective out into the non-internet world.
  • Developing Characters by May—  May wrote a super fun, relatable af post about how to develop characters for your novel, and I found myself nodding along for literally the entire thing.

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Blogging

I had wanted to get really ahead on blogging for the next month, but instead I was a serious slacker who did absolutely nothing to do with blogging besides write this single post and one review.  Which is certainly not going to get me through the rest of the summer.

As far as followers go, I had wanted to get to 400 this month.  It was a really close call, but I managed to do it with WP and email combined, although not with just WP (as I originally wanted to).

Book Buying

I decided that I was going to get a book at every vacation I went on this year, and so far I’ve been to Block Island, where I bought 2 books from the library sale rack.  And it only cost $1!!! Bargain shopping!!!

In Pennsylvania I didn’t get a book because all I could find was Amish romance (oops) and I wasn’t really feeling it.

Right now I’m in Colorado, and although I haven’t bought a book yet, I’m planning on it.  I’m praying that I can find a cheap little second hand store around Denver to buy one.

Writing

I’ve written about 15 pages thus far in the book I’m working on, and started working on my outline much further.  I need to outline the entire thing before I start writing, and I know that, but sometimes outlining gets boring so I just start writing anyways.

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Overall, it’s been a decent month, but nothing to brag about.  I mean, reading half my TBR is decent, but my blogging has been weak and in general I don’t really like the fact that I haven’t been moving very quickly through what I need to get done.

Maybe if I watched less TV I would be blogging more often.  I mean, right now I’m writing this post and watching OITNB (SEASON 3!!!!) at the same time so excuse any stupid errors or repetitiveness… But like it’s okay because the show is amazing and I’ll eventually figure out how to do both because blogging is beautiful.

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How did your June go? Do you have any plans for this summer? What are your favorite books that you’ve read?

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Mid Year Update: Books and Blogging!

It’s June, which means that we are officially halfway through this crazy year known as 2017.  So much has already happened this year, and so I’m looking forward to sharing my midyear book wrap and other updates.

This is the first year that I’ve had my blog from the beginning, and therefore my first midyear wrap, so bare with me if it’s sort of messy.  All links will take you to the review, unless otherwise specified.

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Total: 19

5 Star Reads

Little BeeI'll Give You the SunThe NightingaleThe Roanoke GirlsFinal GirlsOrange Is the New Black

 

4 Star Reads

The Constant Princess (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #6)Truly Madly GuiltyGirl Out of WaterScrappy Little NobodyThe Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)Smugglers & Scones (Moorehaven Mysteries, #1)The Corner Office by Katerina Baker

3 Star Reads

Invisible ManThe Fourth MonkeyGo Set a Watchman by Harper LeeThe Darkest Lies

2 Star Reads

HamletThe Orphan Master's Son

  • Hamlet
  • The Orphan Master’s Son (DNF)

1 Star Reads

none

Obviously, I’m well over halfway to my goal of 25 books this year. Because of that, I’m updating and saying that I want to read 40.  That’s a bit of a stretch, but I think that I should be able to do it if I push through and read a lot on road trips this summer.

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Since I read a wide variety of books from nearly every genre, I decided that I would name my favorite book from each genre that I have read so far this year, as well as list the number of books that I read from each genre.

Historical Fiction (4)

  • THE NIGHTINGALE, BY KRISTIN HANNAH— This was by far the hardest category to pick just one favorite.  In the end, I had to go with this one because I felt for the characters the most, and it is the one that keeps coming back to me over and over again.

Mystery / Thriller (7)

  • FINAL GIRLS, BY RILEY SAGER—  I said back in January that this was going to be one of my favorite books of the year, and halfway through it’s still going strong.  It was such a shocking, amazing novel I still can’t get my mind around it.  AND I NEED to know who Riley Sager really is.  It’s an emergency.

YA (2)

  • I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, BY JANDY NELSON– This book was just so utterly fabulous that I cannot accurately put it into words.  I have so much love for all of the characters, and I was so sad when this book finally ended.

Fantasy (1)

  • THE BONE WITCH, BY RIN CHUPECO– Yes, yes I know I only read 1 fantasy book this year, but still, this one was pretty good.  I really enjoyed it once I got into it, and it’s the start of a series, so you should get excited and start reading this one.

Romance (1)

  • THE CORNER OFFICE, BY KATERINA BAKER– Another category with only one book, but deserving all the same.  I don’t read a lot of romance but this was super enjoyable and I loved the main character because she was feminist and that’s rare in romance!!!!

Classics & Nonfiction (4)

  • ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, BY PIPER CHAPMAN– Maybe it’s because I’m watching the show too, or maybe it’s just the fact that it seemed like Piper was really talking to me, since it was an audiobook, but I ADORED hearing her story, it was incredible and I found it super interesting to hear about.

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Total Pages Read– 6464

Longest Book Read– Invisible Man (581 pages)

Oldest Book Read– Hamlet, by Shakespeare

Newest Book Read– The Darkest Lies, by Barbara Copperthwaite

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Books With LGBTQ+ Representation– 2

Books With PoC Representation– 4

Purchased Books Read– 3

eARCs Read– 5

Physical ARCs– 1

I personally find it very interesting that I’ve only read 4 books with non-white people in it, because I feel like there should be fairy equal representation, or at least have more books with SOMEBODY being not white.  This might be slightly skewed because of the amount of historical fiction I read, but I still feel like something should have to change.

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I was thinking about approaching this the same way I normally do, by talking about my 5 most popular posts of the year, but I think that a different approach will actually be more effective.  In addition to the 5 most popular, I’m going to name 5 posts that I loved, but didn’t quite reach as many views as I wanted them to.

The Top 5

  1. The Book Blogger Awards— Although it was actually the rules page that got the most views, I’m going to link the winners, because I think they could always deserve just a little bit more love.  For the first time ever doing this, I’m so happy with how much positive feedback I received!!!  I truly found some fabulous new bloggers and I could not be more happy about that.
  2. Author Interview with Hugh Roberts-– Hugh happens to be a blogger and an author, and someone I have a huge amount of respect for.  I was so, so honored by the fact that he wanted to do an interview with me, and I love the way it came out.
  3. Book Trends that Need to Stop— I talked about my least favorite book tropes that keep coming back but actually SUCK and I think a lot of you guys fully supported this angry rant.
  4. 5 Summer Reads— ’tis the season for reading!!  I matched up with T5W and did a post on my top 5 summer reads.  Although my choices were a little bit odd (aka not contemporary lit) I still feel like they are perfect choices to bring to the beach or read laying out under the stars.
  5. 9 Steps for Improving Your Blog— I wrote a guideline post about everything I’ve learned that I feel can help you improve your blogging, and I was happy to see that people thought my advice was helpful.  I love helping everyone in the blogging community, and so if anyone ever has any questions or just wants to chat, come to me!

My Personal Favorites (That You Guys Ignored)

  1. Current Books That Will Become Classics— I wrote a post about books that were published recently but will, within the next couple of generations, be considered classics.   I personally read and adored all of these, and so the list is also helpful if you’re looking for high quality book recommendations.
  2. Short Story by Adrian Burrows— Adrian has been on this blog 2x now.  The first was an author interview, and the most recent was to share a short story that he had written.  It was super mysterious and he wanted opinions on what we think happened, so if you’re interested in spooky short stories then you should 100% give this one a shot.
  3. A Letter To JK Rowling— I wrote a sort of sentimental post about why I adore JK Rowling, in letter format.  It’s a bit different than my normal posts, but it made me really happy writing it, and I’d love to hear if any of you have similar experiences with an author.
  4. The Book Cover Guessing Game— I tried to guess what 2 popular books are about from their covers, and was horribly wrong, which may be comical to read about.  I stole this idea from someone else, and I still love finding them and seeing how hard it is to guess synopses from just the cover, even though it’s the cover that normally leads me to pick up a book.
  5. Fictional Characters I would Love to Meet— I wrote about what it would be like to actually meet my favorite fictional characters, which gave me the perfect excuse to FANGIRL LIKE CRAZY over everything and just be super happy while sharing the people I love with the crazy world of the internet.

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As far as actually reading books goes, I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far this year in reading more than I ever have before while still keeping up with blogging and other responsibilities.  Part of this has been reading on my phone, and another part has been audiobooks, but mostly it’s just that I WANT to read more.  I’ve been getting behind on ARC copies lately, so I need to put more energy into those, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  Hopefully I can keep it up for the rest of this year and then many more years into the future!

Let's Talk

How many books have you read so far this year? Which book has been your favorite? Have you read any of the books on my list? Do you agree with the ratings?

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A New Thing I’m Trying Out + Some Thoughts + New Graphics

I cannot even explain to you guys how excited I am to be done with basically all of my classes.  I still have to show up but now that AP testing is over I’m basically free to watch movies, read, and do whatever I want for the last month of school.  With that in mind, I’m hoping (praying) that I’ll be able to catch up on blog posts and get way way way more content on the way for you all.

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I put something out on Twitter a few days ago asking for guest bloggers (or potentially long term bloggers) to help me out throughout the summer, since I will be travelling a lot.  I was fortunate enough to get a lot of responses, so keep your eyes out for some guest content going up on Wednesdays starting now and going throughout August.  I’m super excited to share their content with you all, since I know it’ll be nice to get a break from me and also they’re amazing bloggers in their own right.  I’d still gladly accept more guest post submissions if anyone is interested.look upinto the stars. (1).png

Now to the original reason I started writing this post was to introduce you guys to a new thing that I’m going to try out while reading, and I wanted to hear your thoughts before I got too far into it.  That way, if any of you had any advice, suggestions, or warnings of imminent destruction, I’d have plenty of time to hear (and hopefully successfully avoid) whatever it is you are trying to help me not crash into.

So, the Thing.  Annotated reading.  I know this has a lot of different definitions for different people, but for me it basically means that I’m going to be writing comments and questions in the margins of my book, and maybe underlining some super awesome sentences.  I plan on taking pictures and uploading and also writing a much longer post on how it goes once I’m actually done, but today I just wanted to sort of explain what I was doing.

I decided to do this because I’d been reading “Tweet along” reads on Twitter, and then had to annotate a book for school (which SUCKS and is nothing like what I’ll be doing) and so I thought I might as well combine the two and see if annotating my book would help me get anything else out of it, let me write a better review, or just plain old enjoy the book more.    I have a physical copy of The Roanoke Girls (thanks to Blogging for Books), so that’s the book I’ll be using to do this little experiment with.  I’ve left comments on eARCs and such before, but I feel like it’s different when you are actually using a pencil and writing directly on the margins.

Also, there are a couple old books that I’ve bought second hand that have writing in the margins, and I personally love reading what they say.  That being said, I’m aiming for minimum 1/page which is much more than I’ve ever come across.

Hopefully I’m not offending anyone by writing in the book, but hey, all in the name of experimental progress, right?  I’ll keep you updated via Twitter with how it is going along the way, but when I’m done I plan to do a fairly comprehensive post of exactly how the reading went, and whether I got anything out of it.  look upinto the stars. (2).png

So, as far as the book blogger awards go, I posted Twitter polls to finalize all of the voting, and I think they’re over now (you might have one more day so hurry over and check if you haven’t) so I’ll be checking everything out and posting a final version of the winners on Friday!! I’m very excited about all of the positive feedback and blogger love that has been going around lately, so thank you all so so so much!!! look upinto the stars. (3).png

If you have been paying any attention to this post at all, you probably saw that I’m using new graphics as headings for each of my sections.  I decided to mix it up and make it a little prettier, and plus I found the same picture that Emma used in my header, so it felt sort of like fate.  I thought it would be better to break it up than my off-color purple headers, but I’d love to know if it’s better for your viewing pleasure.  I sort of want to change my featured image pictures too so we’ll see how this all works out.

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Have you tried annotated reading?  Do you like my graphics? Want to be a guest blogger?

Blogger Interview: Susan Barton– Books, Tours, DIY, and More!!

Just a month ago, I first stumbled across one of Susan’s many service based blogs–Book Blogger Listing— and then from there made my way around to see all of her other great blogs: My Book ToureBook Review Gal, and DIY Mom.  All of them had equal effort put in, and there was INCREDIBLE content on each.  After talking to Susan a bit about being a tour host, I fell in love with her effort and her blogs, and I couldn’t resist asking if I could interview her.  And I was lucky enough to have her say yes!!  So, without further ado…

 

Me: How did you decide to start blogging?

Susan: I guess I’ve always had a lot to say. I’ve also always had strong opinions. Just ask my husband! I fell in love with books and reading at an early age and I take my reading very seriously. After all, it takes a certain amount of investment – monetarily and time-wise – to choose the perfect book and sit down to read it. When I read glowing, positive book reviews, I expect to be wowed. If I’m not, then I get cranky. It’s as if I’ve been cheated. That’s when I write about my disappointment. Likewise, when I read a really great book and I absolutely love it I have to let EVERYONE know about it. The perfect place to do both of these things is on a book blog.

How long have you been blogging?

I started my very first blog back in 2005 – so twelve years now!

What is the most rewarding part of your online business/blog?

I get to meet SO MANY interesting and unique people. Many have become longtime friends. I just LOVE that!

You are one of the most versatile bloggers I’ve ever met. How do you balance your book blog, DIY Mom blog, Ebook review site, and your book tour service?

I’ve always been a speedy multi-tasker! I love keeping busy – in fact, I need to keep busy. It also helps that my ADD keeps me bouncing from task to task at lightning speed 🙂 But, I try to devote adequate time to each endeavor, just to maintain the proper balance.

Which of your websites do you find the most rewarding to run?

That is an EXCELLENT question! I’m a little torn about that, since most of my sites center on authors, books and reading. I LOVE helping struggling authors and I do get genuine pleasure in promoting them. But…my mommy blog (DIY MOM) is equally important to me too. I guess, ultimately, I view my websites like I view my children – I don’t have favorites 🙂

You host/design Book Tours for authors, so you must have come into contact with a lot of authors and publishers. Do you have any interesting/comical stories about these interactions?

I think the most common thing I find when working with authors is 1) they never realized how much marketing would be involved when they decided to become authors. And 2) They didn’t previously know too much about book tours and how they work. I don’t mind one bit having to explain the process to any author and I sometimes have to do this. But I love every minute of it!

You are stuck on a deserted island, and can only bring three things– a book, an item of food (endless supply), and a hygiene product. What do you bring for each category?

That’s easy! My beloved copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, Quaker Popped (I can’t eat gluten and these are my absolute favorite snacks!) and my toothbrush (I’m an oral hygiene nut!)

 

What are your favorite genres to read?

I love psychological thrillers, mysteries and paranormal novels.

Least favorite?

*Gulp*….at the risk of ruffling some feathers, I’d have to say Sci-Fi. Oh, and Erotica. They’re just not my “thing”.

All of your crafts on DIY mom are so creative! How do you come up with your ideas?

Well, thank you! It definitely goes back to my days as a young mom. I was always looking for super inexpensive, easy ways to decorate our home, so repurposing, recycling and upcycling became my best friends. Pinterest is another great inspiration. I check out photos and think “how can I do this myself”. Then I share my results.

Which social media site do you find most useful in promoting your content? Do you think that social media is necessary for reaching a large audience?

All of them! Without a doubt, social media is ESSENTIAL for reaching your target audience – regardless of what you’re doing. If you have an online or brick and mortar store, you absolutely HAVE to get social. Running a blog or business without utilizing social media is like throwing a party but forgetting to send out the invites. Who will know what the heck you’re doing otherwise? And, I’d also add that it’s not enough to just join all of the social media platforms, you have to interact with you followers on a daily basis. And…by interact I don’t mean yelling at people about how great you are. You have to actually be sociable on social media or people will tune you out very quickly.

And finally, what advice do you have for people who are currently running a small blog and wish to broaden their audience?

The best advice I can give is to write, write, and write. The more content you publish, the more of a following you’ll gain. You simply cannot afford to allow your website or blog to sit, languishing in stale silence. Readers want to see fresh content on at least a weekly basis – more frequently is even better if you can manage it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions!! I loved hearing more about how you started blogging, and your blogging advice!! 

Loved the interview and want to hear more?  Don’t forget to head over to one of Susan’s many websites or social media to share the love:


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February Wrap Up (Look at All the Books I’ve Read!)

Month 2 is already over, and I could not be more happy with where I am right now.  I’ve read sooooooo much, have the best blogging friends ever, have gotten my politics/lifestyle blog underway, and am just generally really really happy.

Books Completed…

Before I start, I do want to say that even though I read a lot, I haven’t actually published a lot of reviews.  This is because I had some posts that needed to go out at a certain time, which bumped some backwards and I’ve also just been a bit behind on book reviews.  I promise that next month will have many more reviews!!!  I did finish every book on my for-the-month TBR so that’s exciting! The book covers include links to Goodreads, the name of the book is a link to the review (if I did one), and I included a specialized Amazon link at the end if you want to buy the book and give me a commission for no extra charge to you!9820853

  1. Little Bee– This book was so so so so so good.  I cannot give it enough praise.  It was my first audiobook, and it was the perfect choice.  Read my full review here or buy on Amazon26247008
  2. Truly Madly Guilty– This was my second Liane Moriarty book, and I thought it was really good.  It certainly wasn’t action packed, but I loved the way the details unfolded and kept you hooked the entire time.  Buy on Amazon 16981
  3. Invisible Man– I had to read this book for school, and three months later it is finally completed.  Thank the gods.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if I read it on my own, but the slow classroom pace sort of killed that.  Buy on Amazon 29868610
  4. Scrappy Little Nobody– I adore Anna Kendrick, and I loved the way she put her humor and excitement (and lack thereof) into this book.  It felt very real, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, while laughing the entire time.  Buy on Amazon

Currently Reading…

I’m currently reading a book on my phone, a paperback, and listening to an audiobook, while also waiting on my mom to finish her book so that we can buddy read I’ll Give you the Sun together, which is why it showed up on my Goodreads shelf briefly and then disappeared.fourthmonkey_3d2

  1. The Fourth Monkey– This is a criminal investigation novel, where the detectives are trying to solve the case before it is too late.  I received this book by the author, and although I don’t read much of this genre, I decided to give it a try and am super glad I did, it’s really exciting so far! Buy on Amazon21853621
  2. The Nightingale– OMG I wish I had a physical copy of this book so that I could get through it faster!! The characters are amazing, it’s in my favorite historical time period (WWII), and one of the POV characters is an incredibly strong, independent girl about my age, which makes it THAT MUCH BETTER.  Audiobook is hard for me to read fast though… Buy on Amazon518855
  3. The Constant Princess– Philippa Gregory is my favorite castle/royal life author, or at least I assume she is, since I don’t know if I’ve read any other books about the Boleyn era.  At any rate, I bought this book last Spring at Book Barn, and am just getting around to it now, as I wasn’t in the mood for that style at the time.  I love it! Buy on Amazon

Challenge Progress…

You can find the complete list of challenges, and what I read for each one, HERE

Read Harder Challenge– I’m 5/24 right now, which is above target by precisely 1 book.  Actually, Invisible Man could count for 3, but I’m only going to use it for 2 unless the end of the year comes and I can’t finish the challenge.  I’m so excited because I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do it!

Goodreads– Ahead of the curve with 6/25!! I couldn’t be more happy about that, and I think I might up my goal during the summer if I feel I can.

What’s In a Name– I’m 0/6 so far, aka I’m not doing anything.  I am, however, reading a book for one of the categories, and have another one with a review request that fits, so I’ll be rollinggggg through this challenge soon!

Best of the Blog…

  1. Book Trends That Need to Stop— I really liked the way this Top 5 Wednesday post came out, because I feel like not only did a lot of people agree with it, but it made me think a lot harder, and will help my beta reading down the road!!
  2. How to Pick a URL— This post was written for people before they even start a blog, and so hopefully it was helpful to at least one person.  I got a lot of positive feedback from people who already have a blog, but I guess it’s not helping them too much
  3. Shelfjoy— I wrote a piece on a book shelving website that I really like, and apparently a lot of other people liked it too!  If you’re looking for a more user-friendly, multiple shelves alternative to Goodreads, check it out.
  4. Favorite Part of Blogging Collab— Thank you so much to Shania for putting this together!!! It was so fun to do and to read everyone else’s, and so I’m so so glad that I was able to take part.  If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend you search the tag #FPOBCollab for some great pieces
  5. OTPs for Valentine’s Day— I wanted to do something special for the holiday, and so I put together a list of book characters I adore together (with one surprise crossover).  It made me feel sad that I don’t have that type of connection, but oh well maybe one day 😉

The Generally Good…

  1. I finished last month with 130 followers, and this month I’m up to 170!!! Thank you to the 40 people who took the time to press the follow button, that’s crazy and I feel so honored and shocked.
  2. I put together Our Voices Matter, and although it’s in the roughest stages still, I’m very excited about the team and how it’s going to come out.  I’ve already published a couple of posts, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still looking for people to join!  Head over to the application page, or email me to join!
  3. This month went by SUPER FAST because we had 3 snow days in one week, followed by a 4 day planned weekend, and so basically I’ve barely even been in school and I’m loving it.

The Generally Bad…

  1. I’m struggling to find enough contributors for Our Voices Matter… I want there to be A LOT because that will make everything more interesting.
  2. I’m also a bit behind on blog posts and really everything, probably because I’ve been enjoying my life too much.

And Finally…

That’s all I have for this month, but I want to hear how your month went as well!

What books did you finish this month? Are you on track for your reading challenges? Let me know below!  If you’ve written a monthly wrap-up post, share the link so that I can stalk you!


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~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Blogger Interview: Isla @ A Whisper of Ink

You have no idea how overwhelmingly excited I was when Isla said that she wanted to do a blogger interview!  She is so incredibly amazing in the blogger world, both bookish and otherwise, and it was awesome to have the chance not only to talk to her more, but to be able to show those of you who don’t know her a perfect new addition to your Reader.  After reading this interview, I’m sure all of you will want to read her blog in depth, so just save yourself the time and click here! (I’m joking, please read this interview *begs on knees*)

Isla is best known for her blogging on A Whisper of Ink, a fun book blog for all sorts of great bookish content.  Her favorite hobbies are reading a blogging (and, of course, eating).  In addition to blogging, Isla offers FREE blog designs, so if you are in need go ask her.  The ones she has already done are fabulous.

The ACTUAL Interview…

J: Hi Isla!! I’m so excited to get the chance to interview you!  You have an amazing book blog, it’s what I aspire to be!  To start, I wanted to find out what your favorite book you’ve read this year is?

I: Hi, Joce! I’m so honoured to be here on your blog! This is the hardest question to answer for any book worm, but I think I’ll have to go with The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini! It made me cry at so many points in the book and it beautifully written!

J: Oh my god I LOVED that book!!! It was so incredible, it made me read one Hosseini’s other books, A Thousand Splendid Suns, right after. It was equally as good.

I: I really want to read A Thousand Splendid Suns but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! Hosseini is truly amazing author and I want to read A Mountains Echoes aswell, have you read it?

J: No I haven’t gotten to that one yet but I want to! I find it amazing that he can consistently publish such great work.  So, out of curiosity, where do you normally read?

I: I know, his writing is so good and even though his books are long, he hits quantity and quality at the same time. I usually read on my bed. It’s just so wonderful, snuggling up with a good book, and getting in lost in thoughts of your own. Though, occasionally, if a book is SO good, and I can’t put it down, I take it with me to read on the Bus, Train or Car if I’m lucky. I usually use my e-reader for this because it’s easier to transport. I think, once for an audiobook, I listened to it wherever I went. Oops, I’m beginning to ramble, ahaha!

J: Haha I want to start an audiobook so that I can walk around reading, I’ve never done it before!! The bed is the best place to read because you’re just so warm, although I feel like I always forget food or something (I’m a compulsive eater when I read lol).

I: I’ve only done it once but it’s an amusing experience! I always like to get stocked up when I get a chance to read. Some chocolate, a warm brew, and some blankets always get me into the reading mood! Though, I hate getting smudges on books while I eat! It’s so frustrating getting stains on books!

J: Omg I hate that so much!! Especially when the pages are really white.  Did you get any books for Christmas?

I: Yes, tell me about it! 🙂 I don’t really celebrate Christmas but i did receive a review copy of this amazing book, which I’m reading now, called The Magician’s Workshop! And I’ve got my staggering TBR as well!

J: Oh oops I didn’t realise you didn’t celebrate! I’ve never heard of that book but the title sounds cool.

I: No worries! Yeah, I just finished and it was great!

J: That’s awesome!! So, why did you decide to start blogging?

I: It’s not as inspirational as others bloggers stories. It was because I was bored and competitive. My brother and I decided to start a blog. It was hot lazy, summer afternoon and we had nothing to do. We had no idea what a  blog actually was and began writing up random things on Blogger. That was years ago. But the real reason I started blogging PROPERLY was because I wanted a place where I could share my bookish thoughts. I’ve always loved writing and I wanted to set myself a challenge. Could I really run a fully-working blog BY MY SELF? Turns out, I can.

J: You definitely can!! That’s actually cool that you started with your brother. Does that blog still exist?

I: Like I said, it was a very long time. Both of the blogs we started out with are long gone. We moved to WordPress. It’s funny you ask that, because a few days ago he started up a new blog. I asked him if he wanted any promotion on my blog, he politely declined. I won’t give the link but looks out for it!

J: Oh wow that’s awesome, I’ll definitely keep an eye out! I always tell my mom to start a food/lifestyle blog (she’s a HUGE vegan foodie and there’s such a blog market for that) but she never does.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me!! It was so much fun to learn about your favorite books and how you started your blog!

I: You’re welcome! But, really I should be thanking YOU for the honour!

Yayyyyy…

I hope you guys enjoyed reading that interview as much as I enjoyed doing it!!!  Make sure you go and read a few posts on Isla’s blog and share the love!!

Do you love Isla’s blog too? What’s your favorite feature?  Are you a blogger interested in being interviewed? I want to know!


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Review: Stolen

By Lucy Christopher

Rating: 😦 😦

I feel like I need to start off by saying that this book actually received 3.93 stars on Goodreads, so it probably isn’t as awful of a book as I’m going to make it sound, and I probably have a few (just a few) biases playing in. But still. I’ll do my best to tell you why I didn’t like it, and why it was good enough that I managed to get through it with a solid 2 stars. But Warning: It’s Complicated.

Essentially, Stolen is written from the perspective of Gemma, a teenager who is kidnapped at an airport and taken to the middle of nowhere to live with and love her captor. When I got this book for Christmas LAST YEAR I thought it was going to be really good, and was super excited to read it. I thought it was a fun added twist that it was written as a letter from Gemma to her captor, Ty. As the story progresses, so does Gemma and Ty’s relationship, until it becomes a story of survival, emotion, and complexity. At least, I think that’s what Christopher was going for.

Sounds good so far, right? (See, I told you I could do a relatively unbiased review) But rather than creating an incredible protagonist who struggles with her feeling, Christopher became the one who didn’t know her true thoughts. Gemma never seemed to have a real personality. The second it seemed to start developing, it twisted, and not in a good way. It was as though in order for the story to properly progress, the very essence of Gemma’s personality had to continuously change. And then, when you finally believed that she was had finished “changing” she twisted again, so that the very end wasn’t even consistent with her feelings a chapter from the end. I’m all for character development, but this was so completely unrealistic I couldn’t take it seriously.

I’ve been told that the reason I don’t like this is a similar reason to why I don’t like Paper Towns– protagonists with annoying beliefs annoy me to no end– but honestly, I really don’t think this is the case for this book. I honestly just don’t think anyone could relate to Gemma, not just because her situation is unique, but because Christopher didn’t seem to have a firm grasp on her emotions and who she really is as a person.  Considering that there are only 2 people for 95% of the book, I think you should be able to nail them both.

That being said, I loved Ty. He was the “antagonist” technically speaking, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be trapped in the middle of nowhere with him, but his personality was dynamic, while still staying true to his own essence. Everything she lacked in creating Gemma, Christopher did a great job in creating Ty.

Part of the reason that I think Gemma was made a weak character is that she constantly needed to be vascilating in order to make a plot. There’s not much to do if there isn’t a conflict; there were constantly things happening to drive the plot forward in this book, which I appreciated while reading it, but I wonder now if it was a bit overkill. Maybe if Christopher had stepped back and focused more on relationship than plot, it would have been a better and more well developed story. Who knows.

Overall, I certainly wouldn’t say that nobody should ever pick this up, but they should certainly know what they’re in for. It’s a really quick read, so it doesn’t hurt to try it at any rate.

I want to know your opinions

What did you think of Gemma? Does Christopher have any other books, and are they better? Have you read any books with a similar theme that you would recommend?

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