Jan 08

Something Else Sunday #21: A Garden of Dreams

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 3

Welcome to another Something Else Sunday! This week I’m taking the opportunity to share another one of my passions with you all – my love of all things that grow. I haven’t had an actual garden in almost 4 years, but I’ve almost always had at least one or two houseplants during that time. I really miss my “big” little garden square in the community garden (that was back in 2012…yikes!). My only current houseplant is a beautiful moth orchid given to me by a friend last Thanksgiving. That Sir Tristan decided to un-pot…3 times. About two months ago I decided that, since it was still somehow showing signs of life, I would replant it and start watering it again. Also vigilantly guard it. Ahem. The leaves are growing, but it is still such a sad little flower compared to what it was when I received it!

  

^Then and now. The difference is ghastly. I’m hoping I can return it to health before we move. Since I can’t take it with me, I plan to give it back to the friend it came from. See the scar on the leaf in the second pic? Courtesy Sir Tristan. *angry face* The leaves are growing, but they are horizontal now as opposed to pointing up as in the first. I have ordered some new potting mix and fertilizer though, so hopefully once I can repot again, it will do better.


With our upcoming move, I can’t start any new plants or a garden just yet, but I’m dreaming! Even once we are settled back in the States (hopefully late May to early June…hopefully), I’ll have to limit my gardening attempts because of the state of limbo our residence and jobs will be in at that point. So, this is my chance to dream. To dream of the garden I would have, if I knew living arrangements and finances were going to be stable for the next 2-4 years. Do any of you guys garden? If so, how do you suit your plants to your living environment? I know many of us live in less-than-ideal places for gardens!

First, I would set up a pollinator garden. Mainly for bees, but also for butterflies and other pollinators. Did you know that record numbers of bees having been dying in the past several years? While the numbers seem to have stabilized somewhat, they are far from what they were a decade ago and they’re such a HUGE part of having a successful garden!

 

I’d use something like this Bee Feed Mix, left, and the Sensation Cosmos Mix on the right. Cosmos are phenomenal bloomers and I love their feathery leaves. Perfect for a low maintenance flower bed at the front of a house!

I’m dying to have an Old English rose, like this Munstead Wood from David Austin Roses. I could just live in their catalogue, every single one is so beautiful. My parents gave me my first rose (an actual plant) when I was 7 or 8, and I’ve been in love ever since.

These are “Kentucky Wonder Pole” green beans. I like that they climb so you don’t have to bend over to pick them. MANY hours of my middle grade years were spent bent over a bean patch in the summer! Haha.

I would have a huge vegetable garden. With enough green beans to feed not just me and my husband but friends and neighbors as well. Green beans are by far our favorite veggie! There are so many different types I want to try. I love heirloom and historic varieties, and there are SO MANY becoming available now. Look at how many beans – just beans – there are! Not to mention the tomatoes, melons, and all the other different veggies.

Comfrey, shown here from Strictly Medicinal Seeds. I’m fascinated by herbal medicine, and comfrey is one of the few I’ve actually tried myself and found it surprisingly effective! I really want to study herbs more, grow more, learn and experiment with them. Besides having herbs for seasoning, I’d like to start a medicinal herb garden and comfrey would be my first pick.

Last but FAR from least – bulbs. I adore bulb flowers. Their colors are almost universally bright and stunning and they are the most beautiful thing in spring. Hyacinths, like the above heirloom “Marie” from Old House Gardens, are my favorite. One day I want to have beds and beds of them. They smell positively divine.

There are SO MANY MORE plants and trees I want to grow and experience one day! These would just be my starting place. I love growing things. I love nature. I miss it. And I’m sure I’ve probably bored my bookish readers enough, so I’ll stop here. 😉

Coming Up This Week:

Down the TBR Hole #7
Review of The Bear and the Nightingale
TTT: 2016 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn’t Get To (and Totally Mean To)
Review of Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Review of Riddle’s Tea Shoppe Teas

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Jan 07

Review of Dracula by Bram Stoker

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review of Dracula by Bram StokerDracula by Bram Stoker, Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley, James Adams
on February 20th 2012
Genres: Classic, Paranormal
Pages: 16
Goodreads four-stars

15 hours and 28 minutes
Because of the widespread awareness of the story of the evil Transylvanian count and the success of numerous film adaptations that have been created over the years, the modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
This production of Dracula is presented by what is possibly the best assemblage of narrating talent ever for one audiobook: Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry plus an all-star cast of Audie award-winners.

This review of Dracula is long, LONG overdue even if I just finished it last week. Why overdue? Because this was supposed to be part of my Halloween Read-a-Thon! Shameful, I know. To be honest, I got distracted about 2/3 of the way through and it took me forever to start it back up again. Also shameful. It’s a classic! It’s what started the popular image of vampires! Aaaaaand…yeah, I never did care for the whole vampire craze a few years ago. Bram Stoker’s book helped solidify the vampire’s place in literature and popular culture though, so I really wanted to read it. Sadly it doesn’t count for my audiobook challenge, as I finished it between Christmas and New Year’s! Bah.

Narration:

The narrators for this Audible Editions version were fabulous. Each character has their own narrator for their various journal entries, letters, etc., and they were all easily distinguished from each other. I listened at 1.25% speed, which helped with the 15 hour, 28 minute length.

Feels:

I was mostly just very intrigued the whole way through! It was so very different than anything I’ve ever read. I was invested in the characters but not terribly attached, if that makes sense. I felt like I learned a lot from this novel, even though it was fiction. I learned a lot about British/European culture at that time, how they looked at the supernatural, and how they looked at women.

Characters:

First of all, let’s get this Count Dracula straight. Dracula is not something out of True Blood or Twilight. He is not sexy. He does not sparkle. He is not emo or hurt and in need of someone to comfort and heal him. He is evil, cruel, barbaric, and intent on taking over the world. Ok, maybe just England, but still. He is imposing and has a certain ability to manipulate people even without his supernatural powers, something that I think must have been a part of even his regular-human personality.

Then you have the other main characters, which starts off with Jonathan Harker and his fiancee’ (later wife) Mina. They are just normal people trying to live a happy life, and suddenly they are thrown into this mess of Dracula’s creating. Jonathan actually travels to Dracula’s castle, never realizing until much later that the Count is much more than a normal man. Mina doesn’t actually meet Dracula until much later, but she has quite an experience with him due to his involvement with her dearest friend, Lucy.

Lucy is the person who actually brings all the other characters together. She is the typical Victorian blushing virgin, and somehow manages to attract marriage proposals from several men all at once. When she becomes a target for some unknown horror, they all come together – not without some awkwardness – to try to help her.

Plot:

The plot can be summed up in two words: vampire slayers. Because while this book takes AGES to get to the point, in the end that’s what it’s about. Vanquishing the evil that is Count Dracula and his minions, preventing him from further colonization. There are a couple of sub-plots, but they really don’t add a whole lot to the story, in my opinion. Like many books of this era, Dracula is very wordy and goes on and on and on about points that most modern readers really don’t care about.

Worldbuilding/Setting:

The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.

Stoker does a marvelous job of making us see, here, feel, and even smell the setting of Transylvania, the seaside, London. I have absolutely no complaints. I never once felt as though I couldn’t picture the world of the characters. To him of course, the world was HIS world.

Rating/Other Thoughts:

Let me get to these other thoughts before I give my rating.

First of all, the religious atmosphere of this book. It really took me by surprise, but I guess, given that the main characters are British during the 1890s (Queen Victoria’s reign). I was disappointed that the only things (other than garlic) to repel the vampires are relics of the Christian church. I was extremely disappointed by how many pages were devoted to the characters musing on their rightness with God, on whether or not they would go to heaven or hell, and other similar topics. All very accurate to how people thought and believed during that time.

Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause.

Secondly, the treatment of women. Again it’s very accurate to how women in Victorian England were expected to behave, how they were looked at by men and the world at large. Mina Harker, at least, does not entirely accept the traditional role of the fainting female even if she is very willing to accept being the weaker sex. Accurate or not, I find the subservience the female characters demonstrate disturbing. Also disturbing is that Jonathan Harker objects to the female vampire who come to him based solely on the fact that they appear sexually attractive and do not behave like Victoria’s shrinking violet female model. He is attracted to them by their beauty and their open admission of their desire, and yet he feels he sins in the attraction.

I realize that this is all my perspective through a 21st century lens. The points that strike me as repression and bigotry were completely normal and accepted in society at that time. Does that make them right? Of course not. It does explain how and why characters reacted the way they did, however inexplicable their actions seem to a modern reader.

Overall, I’m giving 4 stars. The story, for all its faults, is still gripping even over a hundred years later. Dracula has given rise to countless spin-off tales, even if most modern day readers consider vampires (and werewolves) more sexy than terrifying. Vampires, with their super-human powers of shape changing and manipulation, have enthralled people’s imaginations for decades. I don’t see Dracula leaving the classics list any time soon.

 

four-stars

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Jan 05

November 2016 OwlCrate

Books/Writing, Reviews 7


Coming to you today with my November 2016 OwlCrate review! It’s no secret I love OwlCrate. I’ve been subscribed since January of last year (skipped one month that just didn’t sound like my thing at all) and so far every single box has been stellar. This month was one of my favorites! Sadly, I took the fewest pictures…ok, let’s be honest, most of them were crap and I didn’t realize it until I put them on the computer, and by then I had destroyed the box. Ahem.

I already knew the box was going to be Wonderland themed, but I still squealed when I opened it. 😀

Book:

The main book was an OwlCrate-exclusive cover of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless! I guessed that this would be the release this month and was already prepared to try to pawn my extra copy off on someone, but then I dug to the bottom of the box and OMG! A white cover! I was so happy. Because I might be somewhat obsessed with special editions.

This month actually included TWO books, expanding my collection of Rock Paper Books editions with a gorgeous softcover of Alice in Wonderland. This also turns out to be a special edition, but you can get a print of the cover and other stuffs with the same artwork!

Other Awesome Stuff:

  • Matching bookmark from Rock Paper Books
  • Exclusive OwlCrate “Falling Alice” button
  • “Imagination is the only weapon…” magnet from Evie Bookish . I’m so in love with Evie’s designs, I was tickled pink to get another one!
  • “Curiouser and Curiouser…” metal bookmark from Authored Adornments 

Authored Adornments has some gorgeous bookish jewelry that I’m absolutely drooling over. Like this Sense and Sensibility inspired ring.

  • Last but FAR from least, a Wonderland Elixir Tea Tin from Riddle’s Tea Shoppe Adagio Teas. I was so taken with this tea and the concept that I almost immediately went and ordered MORE tea from Riddle’s Adagio shop, which has everything from Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who to Sherlock inspired teas. I’ll have a full review of the teas, including the one in this box, up next week!

That’s it, folks! I hope you enjoyed seeing the box. If you subscribe, please use my referral link!  And oh, wait, one more pic…

Yes, that was a sign of blissful delight you just heard… 😉

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Jan 04

Review of The Virgins by Diana Gabaldon

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review of The Virgins by Diana GabaldonVirgins (Outlander, #0.5) by Diana Gabaldon
on April 8th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 86
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads four-stars

Mourning the death of his father and gravely injured at the hands of the English, Jamie Fraser finds himself running with a band of mercenaries in the French countryside, where he reconnects with his old friend Ian Murray. Both are nursing wounds; both have good reason to stay out of Scotland; and both are still virgins, despite several opportunities to remedy that deplorable situation with ladies of easy virtue. But Jamie’s love life becomes infinitely more complicated—and dangerous—when fate brings the young men into the service of Dr. Hasdi, a Jewish gentleman who hires them to escort two priceless treasures to Paris. One is an old Torah; the other is the doctor’s beautiful daughter, Rebekah, destined for an arranged marriage. Both Jamie and Ian are instantly drawn to the bride-to-be—but they might be more cautious if they had any idea who they’re truly dealing with.
Note: Originally published as part of the Dangerous Women anthology.

It feels like it’s been FOREVER since I posted an actual book review! Last week was all about ALL the reading challenges, hehe. I’m excited to get back into the groove. So without further ado, I present my review of The Virgins, by Diana Gabaldon.

Please excuse me while I indulge my love of Jamie.

The Virgins felt short-story in length to me, though I think it’s actually classified as a novella. I read it in less than an hour though, so…maybe I just read fast? The hardcover addition available from The Book Depository is 256 pages…which I don’t understand since my e-book version was only 86 pages! HUGE difference there and I feel slightly cheated, but it doesn’t seem that there’s actually a difference in content. HOW.

Feels:

I was so happy to be back with Jamie and Ian! Seeing them before Claire came to Scotland, and seeing Jamie so soon after all the horrific events that we only see in flashback in the the full length novels, was both heartrending and exciting. I also really enjoyed that this story was just straight-up historical fiction, no woo-woo added. Not that I haven’t enjoyed those aspects of the novels, but this was just the down and dirty, the nitty-gritty. Even for such a short story, I was totally invested back into the characters and their world.

Characters:

Jamie and Ian are SO YOUNG! They distinctly remind me of my own 17-year-old brother in the way they react to some things. This is Jamie before he became the confident, skilled warrior we meet in Outlander. This is Ian before Jenny. This is both of them as complete virgins in every sense of the word, and they are gregarious, lovable, and heartbreaking. Also cringe-worthy at a few points. I swear I can almost smell the teen-boy sweat coming off of them.

The secondary characters here are interesting and colorful, but I didn’t get attached to any of them. I was rather hoping someone would drive a dagger through a certain female person’s heart, but alas. Despite my non-attachment, I was devastated after a particular scene near the end. Not so much because of who died, but because of how it affected Jamie.

Plot:

The main line of the plot doesn’t become apparent right away. First, we’re thrown into Jamie and Ian’s meeting almost immediately after Jamie’s escape from Black Jack Randall. This, I think, is where it becomes apparent that this story is not to introduce a reader to Outlander. This story is for the fans. I loved it, naturally. However, the actual plot starts off a bit slow. Does it work? Yes. But I think it was secondary to showing us a young Jamie and Ian and just how they actually thought of each other.

“Did ye not mean to go to Confession yourself?” Jamie asked, stopping near the church’s main door. There was a priest in the confessional; two or three people stood a discreet distance away from the carved wooden stall, out of earshot, waiting.

“It’ll bide,” Ian said, with a shrug. “If ye’re goin’ to hell, I might as well go, too. God knows, ye’ll never manage alone.”

Setting/Description:

As usual, Diana’s writing appears to be impeccably researched. I’m not a historian, but the amount of detail and care is obvious.

Rating/Notes:

Overall, I’m giving 4 stars. I do think part of my rating is due to HOW MUCH I love these characters. The writing itself doesn’t seem quite as polished as in the books, but it’s difficult to lay a finger on what gave me that impression. Especially in the beginning, some things felt just a little bit forced. Once everything got started it moved along smoothly, and as usual Gabaldon is a fabulous storyteller. I would recommend reading immediately after the original Outlander, but it would be perfect for Outlander fans at any point in the series!

four-stars

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Jan 03

Top Ten Tuesday #9: Most Anticipated YA Debuts of 2017

Books/Writing 13


I’m linking up with the wonderful peeps over at The Broke and the Bookish for this Top Ten Tuesday topic! Now, I feel like it’s a little early in the year to be discussing my complete list of most anticipated YA Debuts of 2017 (maybe we’ll revisit this topic mid-year!), not because the books aren’t already slotted for publishing but because there isn’t enough buzz yet about novels releasing later in the year. I checked my 2017 Debut Author Challenge list on GoodReads, and every single one of the 7 books I’ve voted for are releasing in the first 5 months of 2017. So, I anticipate that by May/June I will have added a lot of books to this list. Anyway, to get on with it! I’m organizing by month, not preference.

My Most Anticipated YA Debuts of 2017:

January: Caravel, by Stephanie Garber. I know, I know…EVERYONE is agog over this one. I’m excited for it but at the same time I’m nervous…so many hopes! Preordered. Also Frost Blood by Elly Blake. I’m…a little reticent about this one after my recent disastrous encounter with Red Queen, but I’m hoping it’s entirely different and much better.

 

February: Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones. I love fairy tell retellings, and this one sounds like it might actually pull in some of the darker elements of the original tales. Ooooh. Yes, please.

March: Blood Rose Rebellion, by Rosalyn Eves. For some reason, the cover made me think this was a historical fiction based around the Wars of Roses. IT’S NOT!! Let me emphasize that so I don’t confuse anyone. It’s a fantasy, and one that reminds me slightly of Red Queen (again…I sense a theme here) but since the MC is the UNspecial snowflake I’m hoping for a different twist.

April: Toward a Secret Sky, by Heather MacLean. Despite the rather misleading blurb on the cover, this is MacLean’s fiction debut, YA or otherwise. Her other books are cookbooks. ANYWHO. Reasons for reading this book? Scotland and secret societies? I’m in. Please don’t let the hinted at love triangle be too bad…

May: Girl Out of Water, by Laura Silverman. This sounds like a fun summer read without being over-the-top fluffy. Summer seems to be the only time I like contemporary novels, haha. Also, AFTER I added it to my preorders, I scored an eARC! So I’m super excited to get to read it early (but I’m still keeping my preordered copy). When Dimple Met Rishi just sounds SO AWESOMELY FUNNY and amazing. I’ve never ever heard a take on arranged marriage like this one – do yourself a favor and go read the blurb. This one has also been preordered!

 

That’s it for now folks! I’m definitely taking recommendations, especially since I’m aiming for 12 debut reads this year. What are your most anticipated YA debuts of 2017?

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Jan 02

Down the TBR Hole #6

Books/Writing 8

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. Since I am incapable of NOT CONTINUOUSLY ADDING books to the list, I am currently at 614 books. I seem to have made absolutely NO headway the last couple of weeks, even though I’ve been knocking 3-4 titles off I always have that many added back by the time the next week rolls around! This week up for inspection are books 27-31 of my original list. Covers link to GoodReads!

 

Title/Author: Death at Bishop’s Keep, by Robin Paige

Date Added: January 8, 2014

Thoughts: Yet another cozy mystery series starter I felt compelled to add.

Judgment: Go!

 

 

 

Title/Author: Murphy’s Law, by Rhys Bowen

Date Added: January 8, 2014

Thoughts: Yet ANOTHER cozy mystery series. This one won an Agatha Award though, and I do love Ireland. Rhys Bowen’s other series is okay, too.

Judgment: Keep…for a rainy day…maybe.

 

 

 

Title/Author: Fer-de-Lance, by Rex Stout

Date Added: January 8, 2014

Thoughts: OMG STOP. Was this really my taste in reading 3 years ago?

Judgment: Go, go, GO!

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: Pushing Up Daisies, by Rosemary Harris

Date Added: January 8, 2014

Thoughts: Why the hell did I think I wanted to read a book about a middle-aged wanna be sleuth?

Judgment: Go!

 

 

 

Title/Author: Becoming Josephine, by Heather Webb

Date Added: January 8, 2014

Thoughts: Historical fiction is still something I enjoy, but after reading this review in particular I think my time would be better spent elsewhere.

Judgment: Go.

 

Not bad this week, not bad at all! 4/5 off my TBR list. Phew! Considering how many have been being added TO it, what with all the new releases and debuts that have come to my attention this week…I need to knock off several more! Until next week’s Down the TBR Hole, may you not be crushed by your own TBR pile. 🙂

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Jan 01

Something Else Sunday #20: In Which We Attempt to Ski

Life, Musings, Pets 6

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope this finds you all well and enjoying a rest before diving into 2017.

I finally got around to making a graphic for Something Else Sunday! What do you all think? This is the regular post of each week where I talk about things OTHER than books (but usually I still end up saying something about them), since I have enough hobbies for, oh, about five people. 😛 Anyway, this is Something Else Sunday #20!

This week I was TOTALLY STOKED to go over 300 blog followers! Be sure to go enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Uprooted or Cinder! 😀

Your weekly dose of cuteness, from Sir Tristan. In this case, he’s demonstrating why I don’t have an actual bookstagram feed. He tries so hard to help. 😉 Haha.

It was our first time, and they made us wear vests. I’m guessing so the patrols of employees knew to look out for us? Hahahaha, not awkward at all.

It was a pretty small resort, and all the snow was fake, but the hills were good for beginners. Or so they said. I still fell. A lot. Like, A LOT. It’s been three days, and I’m still sore and finding new bruises. I want to go again though, and maybe stick with the smallest hill. I let someone talk me into trying the “intermediate” hill for my second run, and it happened to have a large amount of ice. No. Can. Do. 😛

It was super busy, lots of little kids running around ALL OVER the place! Said small children were better skiers than most of the adults. Hah. All in all it was a fun experience and while I was embarrassingly horrible at it, I’d like to go back and keep trying!

I got this poster for Christmas and I didn’t waste any time dropping it off at the frame shop. 😀 When we move, I’m reeeeeeally hoping we have a room I can turn into a library. If and when we do, this is going on the door! It came from the For Reading Addicts store.

Coming this Week:

  • Down the TBR Hole #6
  • TTT: Top Ten 2017 Debuts I’m Excited For
  • Review of The Virgins, by Diana Gabaldon
  • Review of Dracula, by Bram Stoker

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Jan 01

2017 Reading Challenges and Goals

Books/Writing 9

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I always get SO EXCITED this time of year, with so many plans for reading and new projects…aahhhh! I love lists and lists of goals…and especially reading challenges. 😀 I’m trying not to overextend myself this year, but last year I feel like I kind of…UNDERestimated how much I could read in a normal year.

 Funny, because…I did the same thing in 2015. Even more spectacularly though. 😛

Ahem. Better overachieve than underachieve though, right? I get all kinds of depressed when I don’t make goals, so I try to be reasonable and realistic when setting my number goal for the year. My number goal for 2017 will be higher, but not TOO high…I do have a big move coming up, as we’ll be moving back to the States some time in spring (despite all the upheaval and stupidity I’ve seen happen in the US in the past couple of years as I’ve been overseas…it’s still home and I miss it terribly). But that’s for an entirely different post! As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been signing up for reading challenges left and right this week. This is an overview of all of them!

GoodReads 2017 Challenge: My goal is 75 this year. I’m hoping for closer to 100, but that move is scaring me. Plus, I’m going to a month-long school for work in February or thereabouts, and I anticipate that cutting into my reading time a lot too. Damn work.

 

2017 Audiobook Challenge: My goal is 10 audiobooks this year. Small number, because my audiobooks tend to be HUGE. Like at least 15+ hours. Hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Loupe and Melaine at Hot Listens.

 

 

 

2017 Debut Author Challenge: I’m aiming for AT LEAST 12 new authors this year. I’d really love to read more, but sometimes it’s a bit exhausting wading through the myriad of so-so new authors, even only the ones on NetGalley! All the same, I really want to support debut authors. Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017: Time to get back into reading some oldies but goodies! I’m aiming for all 12 categories this year, as I’m sure I can find some shorter ones and I definitely plan to read 3 children’s classics. Hosted by Books and Chocolate.

 

 

 

Banned/Challenged Books Reading Challenge 2017: Because freedom of speech is important. For everyone. The fear of ideas and knowledge is one of the most crippling fears across the world. Hosted by the Book Dragon’s Lair.

Beat the Backlist 2017: WHOOHOO!! I’m super excited about this one, a chance to “get credit” for a bunch of the books already sitting on my shelves. My goals is 40 of the 70 (!!) books listed in my sing-up post. Hosted by Austine at NovelKnight. Also includes a fun Harry Potter House Cup mini challenge! I’m playing for Hufflepuff, naturally. 😀

Diverse Reads Book Challenge 2017: I read quite a few diverse books in 2016, but I want to make it a point this year. My goal is 12, one for each of the monthly topics put up by Read.Sleep.Repeat and Chasing Faerytales. I’ve already picked my books for January and February!

 

Newbery Reading Challenge 2017: My goal is at least 25 books, between Newbery Awards and Newbery Honor books. I love children’s literature and really need to brush up on my recommendations for younger readers, since it’s a topic that comes up in conversation fairly often.Hosted by Smiling Shelves.

 

 

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: My goal is 10 books, either fiction or non-fiction but probably leaning towards nonfiction. I’m very curious about all things pagan and metaphysical, even though I don’t consider myself religious. Hosted by Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf.

 

 

 

And THAT’S IT, folks! Are you participating in any of these? Any other reading challenges? The only other one I kind of wanted to find was re-reads challenge, but I couldn’t find any that I liked. I think there was one that was hosted on FB but I find FB groups kind of hard to follow so I gave it a pass. Here’s wishing you all the best in your new year, in both your reading and all your other endeavors!

P.S. Be sure you enter my new celebratory GIVEAWAY! 😀 Open internationally.

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Dec 31

300 Followers Book Giveaway!

Books/Writing, Giveaways 24

I want to give a huge shout-out and thank you to everyone who has followed my little book blog in the past 5 months! In honor of ALL YOU WONDERFUL people I’m having a book giveaway. 😀 I’ve had a ton of fun and am continuing to have fun reading and sharing books with each and every one of you. I love getting to exchange thoughts and ideas with other bookworms, and there are SO MANY more reviews and thoughts I want to post! I’m hoping to add some more author interaction in 2017 as well as some more original content.

What: A paperback copy of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted or Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, shipped direct to you from The Book Depository! Winner’s choice. I wanted to let people choose between a standalone and a series starter, and I loved both of these!

 

 

Who: Any blog follower from ANY COUNTRY that TBD delivers to! You can see the list here.

When: Open from now until January 14th at 12 a.m., Seoul time.

How: Enter how you follow in the Rafflecopter linked below, subscribe via WordPress or Bloglovin’, leave a comment, Tweet and follow, share the giveaway on social media…lots of ways, and up to 20 entries possible per person! Links are in the right-hand sidebar. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Dec 31

2016 End of Year Survey

Books/Writing 12

2016 was my first year of book blogging! I had written reviews here and there before, but in July I really started taking it seriously. So I’m very excited to participate for the first time in the 2016 End of Year Survey hosted by the wonderful Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner!

Note: The survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2016!!

Number Of Books You Read: 104 (might make 105 before New Year’s!)
Number of Re-Reads: 4
Genre You Read The Most From: Young Adult/Fantasy

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

I’m cheating and saying the Lunar Chronicles series. I discovered these books in February, and my library just HAPPENED to have all 4 on the shelf at one time. I sped through them in 8 days, 5 of which I worked a 12-hour shift. These books singlehandedly broke me out of a rather horrible book funk.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments #3). I loved the first MI book, the second one was ok, and then this one…I had to DNF. I just couldn’t deal with the angsty and stupidity and I’m still bitter about it.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

My Lady Jane. I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it much when I first saw it in my OwlCrate box, but then I started seeing glowing reviews…and then I read it and LOVED it. Somehow they pull off the whole Monty Python infused Lady Jane Grey story and it’s awesome.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Um, I don’t know how many people actually took my book recommendations! I probably recommended Outlander the most, because it’s my favoritest of favorites. 😉 New books though…probably A Court of Mist and Fury (and by necessity, A Court of Thorns and Roses because obviously you have to read the first one to fully appreciate the second).

Nope, not obsessed AT ALL.

Outlander!!

The ACOMAF set came from NerdyGrlDesigns, and the Outlander set from JanesTinyThings.

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Series – Oh gosh. This one is really hard! I started SO MANY series this year! I’m going with one I haven’t finished yet – Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. While it wasn’t in my most read genre of the year, they were ALL fabulous. I haven’t read the latest one yet, but so far my lowest rating has been a 4/5 stars and I don’t see that going down. I sincerely hope not.

Sequel – To a series I started last year, is how I’m taking this question. And for that the prize goes to Gail Carriger’s Imprudence! I adore Gail’s writing and her alternative history/steampunk Victorian London. LOVE.

Series ender – Wow. I, apparently, have a real problem with finishing things. I only finished TWO series this year and I loved both so I can’t choose. Gail Carriger’s Manners and Mutiny (Finishing School #4) and Marissa Meyer’s Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4).

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Traci Chee, author of The Reader! She’s now on auto-buy. 😀

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China – I don’t usually care for memoirs, but I asked in a reading group on FB for recommendations to cure a book hangover, and this did the trick! It was hysterical but also enlightening.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

 

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I’ll probably re-read both ACOTAR and ACOMAF in preparation for the release of ACOWAR. 😀 😀 😀 Speaking of which…OMG MAY HURRY UP!!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

While I only gave the book 3/5 stars, THIS COVER. I love it so much. I love the eye, I love the gold lightening. It’s what really drew me to the book!

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Rhysand. So predictable of me, I know, and the same answer 9,999 other book bloggers are giving. I can’t help it!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

I adored Kate Morton’s The Lake House. It felt as though I fell through the book and into the places she described. While it’s not a face-paced book, I personally LOVED the switching back and forth in time and the gradual unfolding of the mystery. Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

I’m actually skipping this one…because I read almost entirely FLUFF this year, not going to lie.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Bell Jar, by Cynthia Plath. This was so good. I don’t even have words, and probably need to add it to my rereads for 2017 list.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? 

“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again.
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

Feyre, in ACOMAF by Sarah J. Mass.

“There are good days and hard days for me—even now. Don’t let the hard days win.”

Rhysand, in ACOMAF by Sarah J. Mass.

Notice a trend? I think SJM comes up with some of the BEST INSPIRATIONAL LINES EVER.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

My shortest and longest were both by Marissa Meyer! Haha. I crack myself up. But they were The Queen’s Army (which is arguably more of a short story, but whatever, GoodReads), and Winter.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Probably Red Queen. I was really expecting to love it, but I thought it was HORRIBLE. Sorry, Red Queen peeps.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I don’t read books for the romance. In fact, my cold little jaded heart is usually over the moon when characters DON’T end up HEA…that said, I love Feyre and Rhysand. Love. Adore. Idolize.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Honestly? The Bennet sisters in Eligible, the modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

And I’m back to Gail Carriger’s Imprudence on this one! I really can’t believe she’s not more popular.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

ACOTAR and ACOMAF. I had decided not to read it after seeing a bunch of meh reviews for ACOTAR, but then people started RAVING about how much better the second book was. So I gave it a shot, and, well…you see.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Take a guess.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

The Reader, by Traci Chee!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. This book is set practically IN my hometown and gave me chills.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Love & Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch! Such a fun read. Perfect for summer, in my opinion.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

In the Woods. Yes, really. If you haven’t read it, do. Please. Do yourself this favor.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Er, to be honest…I didn’t read any I would consider HIDDEN. Sadly. I was pretty mainstream and read what the popular kids did this year. Need to work on that.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

ACOMAF. I sat in my chair clutching it to my chest after finishing, just staring into space.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

Hmm. This one is hard, but I think Jackaby by William Ritter. It totally turned the whole Sherlock Holmes thing on its head for me, in a fun way.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I’m going with Red Queen on this one too. I was so disappointed I was MAD. Really mad.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Well, this is hard. Really hard. Because there are LOTS of book blogs that I love! AND I discovered almost all of them in 2016. However, I’m going to go with Paper Fury. Cait is so positive and her posts never fail to be entertaining and fun, I just love her! Especially with her referring to characters as cinnamon rolls and pineapples.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

I don’t really have one…

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Don’t really have one of these either…

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Oh oh! I had the MOST FUN with the Halloween Read-a-thon hosted by Lauren over at Wonderless Reviews! SO MUCH FUN. Hopefully next year I’ll get to do some things outside of the virtual world. I’d love to go to some author events.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Well, right now I’m pretty stoked about going over 300 blog subscribers a couple of days ago!! So if you haven’t subscribed, you can do so via WordPress or Bloglovin’. 😀 😀 *points to right-hand sidebar*

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Getting over reading slumps caused by real life. Like November. I barely read at all because I was just so depressed. Sad panda.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Oddly enough, it’s my 2017 Audiobook Challenge sign-up post. Not sure how that happened, but ok!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I really wish it had been one of my reviews that was the most popular. Any review. Hehe. I’ll just keep working on it!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Oh gosh. I’m obsessed with magnetic bookmarks. They’re so teensy, and so collectible, and there’s one for EVERYTHING. See above ACOMAF collection. Hehe.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I was aiming to read at least 50 books this year. Apparently, I underestimated my ability to read in a year that didn’t involve intense personal upheaval. Hehe. 😀

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Well, it would be As I Darken, but now I think I’m going to save it for the May Diverse Books Challenge. We’ll see if I can hold on, since it was under the tree for me this year…

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

 

Elizabeth May’s The Fallen Kingdom (last in the Falconer trilogy) and of course Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Wings and Ruin!

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Stephanie Garber’s Caravel. It sounds amazing and I’m agreeing awaiting my preordered copy!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Oh, well…see above #2!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Reading – I’m in a LOT of challenges for 2017, and I have high hopes of completing most of them. My number goal is 75. It maybe should have been 100, but we’re going to be moving in April/May, back to the States, so I anticipate that will slow me down a lot.

Blogging – I hope to increase my followers to at least 1,000 by the end of the year!  Also, I want to interact with some authors maybe via interviews, etc. I’d like to attend maybe some publishing and or author functions. I really want to increase my contacts with authors and publishers as well as other bloggers! Hopefully the challenges will help to facilitate that. 🙂

Writing – I’m adding one more area here, because I’ve been steadily plugging along on the fantasy novel I plotted during NaNoWriMo, and I want to have the first draft finished by the end of 2017. Totally reachable if I stick to my 2,345 words a week goal!

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Um. Well. The 2017 releases I’ve already read, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. 😛 Isn’t that sad? But, you know…maybe I’ll get some good ones later on! I do have ARCs of The Fallen Kingdom and The Bone Witch that I’m itching to dive into.

And there we have it! If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations and THANK YOU for sticking with me! Thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2017! Did you post your own 2016 End of Year Survey? If so leave me a link in the comments!

 

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