My First OwlCrate!

I finally decided last month to subscribe to OwlCrate. (Woo!) The month of January had a theme of “magic” and I’m going to review its contents.

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Of course Harry Potter things were included. There was some patronus chapstick–very cool–and a Funko Pop! Harry Potter. I got Harry, but apparently other characters, like Voldemort and Hermione, were mailed out. I like that I got Harry (and, by the way, this is my first Funko Pop!, so I got extremely lucky with one I adore).

Before I even opened my box, I was telling my sister that I wished some Evie Seo (whose Instagram I always eye guzzle) items would be included but I figured that wouldn’t happen. I’m very happy to say that I was wrong and there were TWO of her designs included. One was a fabulous double-sided bookmark inspired by The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and the other was a little, beautiful print with a Throne of Glass quote. (Sadly, I haven’t read ToG yet, but I have it and I will soon!) I love all of her designs, so super pleased about these additions to my OwlCrate box!

There was a coupon code for an ebook that I’ve never heard of–A Knot in the Grain–and I already paid for the OwlCrate, so I think that’s kind of silly that I have to pay for something else. I’m not interested in that book, so I’m not even going to bother using that.

The book included was one I had put on my Goodreads TBR list only a week before: Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley. I’m super happy that it was a book on my list and not another one that I would be adding to that VERY long list. (I definitely don’t need to be adding any more books.)

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with what I got. My rating for the January box is 4 out of 5 stars.

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The Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag

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Tanaz Masaba at Bookish Freaks tagged me for The Secret Life of a Book Blogger tag about a week ago, so it’s about time that I posted!

  1. How long have you been a blogger?
    I started blogging in May (2015), so I’ve only been at it for about eight glorious months. I’m still a baby in the blogverse.
  2. At what point do you think you will stop?
    I’m not sure I’ll ever stop. I want to discuss the books I’ve read, so that’s like asking me when do you plan to stop reading books. I know I get distracted and slow with posts, but that doesn’t mean I want to quit. The blogging community is too good to leave behind.
  3. What is the best thing?
    The absolute best thing about blogging is finding other readers who love the same books that I love. I get to virtually fan girl with amazing people.
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  4. What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it okay?
    There isn’t anything that terrible about being a blogger. I guess the worst part is that my posts don’t write themselves and I feel like I’m spending too much time on them when I should be focusing on other tasks…like working so I can actually survive.
  5. How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use?
    Sometimes it takes me waaaaay too long. I love taking my own pictures of books (see my tab Beautiful Books) but I’m no expert when it comes to editing, so I’m always fooling around on Pixlr (the program I use) and seeing what I can do to improve the photos. And don’t even get me started on GIFs. I suck at searching for the feeling I want to express in GIF form. I made my own for my Shadowhunters reactions post and, even though it took me like half an hour to make only two, they still came out in bad quality. Oh well.
  6. Who’s your book crush?
    My No. 1 book crush is Kenji from Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me. What can I say? I like guys who can make me laugh. This is followed by Sturmhond from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy. And I can’t leave out Tamlin from Sarah J. Maas’s ACOTAR or Emil from Miriam Forster’s Empire of Shadows. I clearly have a problem with falling in love with fictional characters. (Send help.)
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  7. What author would you like to have on your blog?
    I would die if I could feature Lauren DeStefano on my blog. She is practically my spirit animal. She is stylish, witty, writes amazing stories, and has four adorable cats. Need I say more? (If you aren’t following her on Twitter, you are missing out! Her handle is: @LaurenDeStefano)
  8. What do you wear when you write your blog?
    I usually wear my PJs or whatever it is I wore during the day, which is typically shorts and a T-shirt. I’m actually wearing a cute romper right now, so I got dressed up for you. 😉
  9. How long does it take you to prepare?
    When I finally find the time to sit my butt down, it doesn’t take me too long to get the ball rolling on writing a blog. I just stare blankly at a wall for a second, check Twitter, and then I get started.
  10. How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?
    LOVE it. Everyone is so nice and accepting. I’m super shy, and I try to open up more via Twitter/blogs to others, but I’m slow to start. So if anyone reading this thinks we have anything in common, please tell me you stalked my profile and think we will be great friends. (If you’ve read Shatter Me and thoroughly enjoyed it, that is a perfect in to start a conversation with me.) I will gladly welcome you into my book-nerd life.
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  11. What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?
    I’m still pretty new, but so far I would have to say interacting with other bloggers. It definitely gets your blog circulating more. And obviously have a great blog and don’t plagiarize from others.
  12. Who do you tag?
    Here are some new people that I’ve met recently that I’d like to get to know better (and if you’ve already done this tag, sorry!):
    Always Opinionated Girl
    Flying Through Fiction
    A Kernel of Nonsense
    A Book and a Cup of Coffee
    Books A Blog
    The YA Book Traveler
    Great Imaginations

A Win for Aaron Nguyen

If you are looking for a captivating novella, Lauren Harris’s Exorcising Aaron Nguyen is a great option. I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren at Yallfest–you can visit her on Screenshot 2016-01-16 14.25.27.pngTwitter @marksmaster–and she told me about her book. I listened to the audiobook, which you can get off of Audible if you’re interested. Even though the audiobook wasn’t very long (2 hours, 41 minutes), it took me a while to finish because I only listen to audiobooks when I’m washing dishes, folding clothes, or traveling. And then I got so busy I couldn’t write the review. But I’m finally getting it done now!

Synopsis: Aaron Nguyen was murdered at his Catholic school, Millroad Academy, but he isn’t completely gone. His ghost still haunts the students and teachers. Millroad student Hiroki can see ghosts and he’s determined to help Aaron move on. So, Hiroki and best friend Georgia seek to find Aaron’s murderers. But dealing with Aaron and following the murderers’ trail is not as easy as Georgia hoped it would be.

Before I get into the actual story, I need to just say that Lauren is a fantastic narrator. Her voice is so soothing, but not in a I-want-to-fall-asleep way, more like angels-are-whispering-into-my-ear kind of way. She could probably narrate any book and my ears would cry of happiness. And, of course, her different tones of voice for each character was perfect because she knew her characters so well and how they should sound.

Sooooo, speaking of characters. My favorite is Georgia. How can she not be everyone’s favorite? She has flaws, struggles in life, and is absolutely relatable. Everything that she says feels like a friend talking to me. Raise your hand if you want to be Georgia’s best friend? (I’m definitely raising my hand!) My second favorite has to be the Bishop. He’s misunderstood, but I think he has a heart of gold, and there are moments where it shines through. I find him adorable. Hiroki was obviously very important (see above synopsis), but I just didn’t take a liking to him. I didn’t dislike him, more like I felt indifference towards him. Oh well.

Lauren’s writing is great! Fair warning: Lots of cursing. I generally have an aversion to cursing–much like Warner from Shatter Me–but it worked here. Georgia has a foul mouth, but I still love her because it fits her personality so, so, so well. Also, Lauren is fantastic at coming up with chapter titles. A lot of authors opt out of doing this, so it was nice that Lauren included them and managed to create such wonderful titles.

I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, but I will say that it’s intriguing. I just never understand how students are able to get more ahead of trained police officers in stories. How?! (Not just in this story, but any story. I mean I get it’s fiction, but the world that’s built is this world that we live in. Is it just me that feels this way?) Regardless, the scene with the chess game was so captivating (and I find chess boring, so you’ll have to read/listen to the book to know what I mean), and Georgia sneaking around the school always made for funny/awkward scenes that I enjoyed.

Exorcising Aaron Nguyen gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me!

Reactions to Shadowhunters the TV Show

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I wasn’t able to watch the Shadowhunters TV series when it aired, but I recorded it and Screenshot 2016-01-15 16.58.06finally watched the pilot, “The Mortal Cup.” If you weren’t aware, Shadowhunters is based off of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments book series. The movie based on the book didn’t seem to do too well in theaters, so they scrapped it and started over in the show (with a whole new cast). I wrote down my gut reactions as I watched and I wanted to share them here with you. (And I will avoid MAJOR spoilers as much as possible for those who haven’t had the chance to watch the episode, so not all of my reactions are there.)

  1. WOOOOO! Alec is the first Shadowhunter/main character shown. He is the hottest Shadowhunter in my opinion. (I feel terrible for objectifying, but HOT DAMN.)
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  2. Totally feeling the accompanying music.
  3. Ashamed to say it but…ohhhh the word “demon” is in “pandemonium” wow I’m dumb.
  4. Digging Clary’s first outfit. (And I will dig all of the ones that follow.)
  5. OMG Simon is perfect. (He was my favorite character in the book. Thank god he is wonderful.)
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  6. Maureen is not who I expected. I will roll with it for now.
  7. Magnus is definitely intriguing.
  8. Simon and Clary are adorable. Great onscreen chemistry. That piggyback ride: Awww.
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  9. I’m glad Simon is still Jewish and that was casually brought up. As I said, he’s perfect.
  10. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trailer! (Sorry, off-topic.)
  11. More great music, this time sung by Simon and his band.
  12. That whole Izzy wearing a blond wig bit seems silly. I know she gave an explanation as to why, but then she takes it off so…?
  13. This Dot character: I like her. Liked her? (You’ll see what I mean by the questioning of tense.)
  14. Valentine is despicable. Great! (Awesome effects that enhance his nastiness.)
  15. Clary actually says, “all of you stunning people” like she read my mind. Seriously, how is the casting so wonderful with such pretty actors/actresses?
  16. Oh my! Just realized no contacts on Jace. YAY! (Obviously I was rooting for his natural eye color(s) because it makes him look 10x cooler. Sorry to those who disagree.)
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So, as you can see from all of my feels above, the show was pretty fantastic for a pilot episode. I was more of a fan of The Infernal Devices trilogy, so I’m much more open minded when it comes to any The Mortal Instruments changes. I’m very glad I watched the show and I’m excited for the next episode! (I almost watched it on the app actually since it’s available, but I have great self control.)

Go check out “The Mortal Cup” pilot now if you haven’t yet! If you saw it already, what were your reactions?

(Mini) Bloggiesta 2016: My To-do List

I have just found out about Bloggiesta. So, apparently it’s an event for bloggers to attend to their blogs with support from the blogging community (which also means bonding with other people and I would love that!).

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This is my list of what I need to work on:

  • Finish the two draft posts that have been neglected in my draft box for far too long.
  • Stop avoiding reading the last chapter of Legacy of Kings (because I’m behind on my blog posts) and finally write the review.
  • Write a discussion post about the new TV show Shadowhunters.
  • Watch the Shannara Chronicles pilot and do the same as above.
  • Comment on other blogs!
  • Create a schedule to write posts about the author talks I attended ages ago.
  • Add featured image on old posts missing that.
  • Participate in Twitter chat on Sunday.

I obviously have a ton to work on. May the book gods help me and the odds ever in my favor.

A Raving Review for “The Raven Boys”

I first heard about The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater, from my fabulous friend Melanie–as in Melanie from One Less Lonely Blog. Since  we share similar tastes in books, I knew I would probably like it after Melanie raved about it. (She loves the series.) She wanted me to read it so badly that she mailed me my own copy. I can honestly say that it did not disappoint.

Synopsis: Blue comes from a family of psychics. Each year Blue accompanies her Screenshot 2015-11-21 21.49.32mother to the corpse road where souls of those who will soon die can be seen, except Blue never sees them. This year she sees one: Gansey. As it turns out, Gansey is a Raven Boy, a student at Aglionby. Blue has sworn off all Aglionby boys, but she feels compelled to Gansey and his group of friends and joins them on a magical hunt for a Welsh legend.

Maggie writes beautifully. I see everything so clearly in my head and I feel like I’m really getting to know these characters. The issues they deal with make them such well-developed, rounded characters.

Melanie loves Gansey, but I have a crush on Adam–he’s more of my type. Blue is refreshing; she seems to keep to herself, but she’s not afraid to speak her mind. (And I kept imagining Melanie in my head since she styled her hair after Blue, so of course I had to love Blue!)

The plot itself revolves around a Welsh legend and it adds a heightened sense of magic, as if Blue’s psychic family wasn’t enough. There are ley lines, trees that know Latin, and ghosts. So many fantasy elements seamlessly woven into this world.

The book makes for a fantastic read: 5 out of 5 stars!

How “Ruin and Rising” Actually Ruined Me

After finishing the Grisha trilogy, I never want imageto write again. Leigh Bardugo’s storytelling makes me feel like I suck. (Okay, I won’t really give up, but she is so amazing that for a moment I thought, Why bother?)

Synopsis: With the Darkling still out there, Alina is determined to find the final amplifier. Still healing from her encounter with the Darkling, Mal and a small group of her followers join her on this dangerous journey. Along the way, she ends up learning more about the past and herself. 

The plot became very complex and we learn these details about the past that we didn’t even realize we needed to know. I love when books do this–when everything that came before makes sense, but then add new details that make it better. It’s like watching regular TV and then switching to HD–you just didn’t realize you were missing out.

Everything about “Ruin and Rising” was incredible. There were moments I hated Leigh and then I adored her. Her writing style is wonderful.

I will also always love Sturmhond/Nikolai and his presence in the book made me very happy.

5 out of 5 stars for Leigh on the finale of the Grisha series.