Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Existential Crisis.... Of the Blogging Variety

The Running Wall: If you're a runner, or an introvert that has only read about running and has no idea what the action actually feels like (both are absolutely fine), you may have heard of this wall that you tend to run up against during a long distance run.


My Feelings: At this moment in time, on October 26, 2014, that's how I feel. This has nothing to do with recent events in the blogosphere (because if it did.... I would have some serious things to say), just with where I am at this point in my life and time.

I feel stumped. I feel inspiration-less. I feel kind of down.

Teach Me Your Ways!: I look at all of these other people's awesome blogs with tons of followers and views (which is not what blogging is about, statistics aren't incorporated into this), great ideas, insightful posts, awesome social media presences and then I look at my own blog. This isn't necessarily jealousy, more admiration and the feeling of "teach me your ways." I would LOVE to be able to have a full-time job, children, a spouse, and time/inspiration to post amazing content every day.

How the Heck Do You Have The Time? There's also the matter of time, how the heck do these people have the time to do all of the awesomesauce stuff that they do such as blog tours with popular authors, giveaways, go to IRL author events, vlog at the same time, and all of this amazingness I long to achieve? I am still in school and undergoing the pressures of HOURS of homework every night (no exageration) and other events in my personal life.

Statistics: Since June, my blog post count per month has had a gradual decline. From May with 27, to June with 22, to July with 18 posts to August when I had 10. Let's face it, those statistics are sad. I know everyone says posting every day isn't a necessity, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Yet, I'm not blogging by ANY means for all of the impressive statistics, or monetization. I do it as a labor of love because I love books.

I am the one feeling down.

I am the one putting pressure on myself.


I am the one wondering what any of it means if I can't do the things I love.

I am the one setting all of these outrageous deadlines for myself when I know full well that life will get in the way.

There's the Want: And you want to know the part of everything that makes me feel discouraged? I WANT to post. I want with all of my heart to film videos, write reviews, compose discussions, do tags. I want to put out as much content as possible, because I'm the kind of person who will put in the same amount of effort if I'm writing a blog post for one person to see versus 1000.

Positivity Will Prevail!: What I have told myself to do in both my blogging, reading. writing, vlogging, personal, and life in general is to get a positive outlook. If I do better by even ONE post more than the month before, I should be happy. If I write 100 more words than my goal, that's a cause to celebrate. If I get three more views than I did my last video, I will consider it a victory. And if I don't post for a week (*cough cough* last week). I won't dwell on the past and vow to get back in the swing of things the next week. Having a pity party with one person isn't very fun.


Pushing Past the Wall: So.... This existential blogging crisis might continue on for longer than I hope, but I will consider it the running wall and push through it. Because you know what happens after you FINALLY break down the bricks of that wall? An inexplicable rush of adrenaline and victory when you finally cross the finish line. I'm just going to push through it all and hope I come out the other side of this blogging slump stronger, and raring to go with shiny ideas and new content.

What about you?
Have you ever hit the blogging wall?
How did you get past it?
How did you cope?
How do you get ideas and inspiration for new posts?
How do you make time in your day for ALL of the things?

Thank you so much for listening to my mini-rant and I hope to see you soon in my next post!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

{Book Blitz+Interview+Giveaway+Playlist+Excerpt} More Than Exes: Elizabeth Briggs


Series: Chasing the Dream 0.5
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Publication date: October 28th 2014
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

Synopsis: Keyboardist Kyle Cross may look like a bad boy with his tattoos and piercings, but he’s really the good guy who’s always stuck fixing his band’s problems and never gets the girl. His band is competing in a college Battle of the Bands, but when their bassist doesn’t show, Kyle must track her down with the help of the person he least expects: his ex-girlfriend Alexis Monroe.

Kyle hasn’t seen Alexis since she dumped him in high school, and she’s dropped her preppy image for fiery red hair and a bold new attitude to match. With only hours before his band goes on stage, Kyle has to be a little bad if he wants to win both the Battle and the girl he’s never gotten over. But when their old problems resurface, the good guy might just get his heart broken all over again.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.


Interview with Elizabeth Briggs

Where did you get the idea for More Than Exes?

In More Than Music, which is about Kyle’s friend, Maddie, and his brother, Jared, there’s a part where Maddie thinks about how it must be difficult to be Jared’s brother sometimes. That made me wonder about how Kyle sees his brother, and I quickly jotted down what would become the first chapter of More Than Exes. Right then I knew I had to tell Kyle’s story, too. I also had many fans of More Than Music tell me they loved Kyle and wanted a book about him, so that sealed the deal!

Do you need to read More Than Music to read More Than Exes?

No, definitely not. More Than Exes is a novella set about a month before More Than Music and can be read as a standalone. There’s nothing in it that would be confusing if you haven’t read More Than Music – but if you have, it will also shed light on a few things in that book. You can read them in any order, even though More Than Exes is a prequel.

What is your favorite thing about More Than Exes?

There are so many things I love about this book – the fact that it takes place over a few hours, the sarcastic humor in it, and the love story of two high school sweethearts getting back together… but my absolute favorite part is the close sibling relationship between Kyle and Jared. I loved showing Jared from Kyle’s point of view – Kyle views his brother very differently from how Maddie does in More Than Music, but still loves him and would do anything for him.

What was the hardest part about writing More Than Exes?

More Than Exes is the first book I’ve ever written from a guy’s point of view, and that was a lot of fun but also challenging at times. I had to make sure that Kyle would be sympathetic to romance readers but also feel like a realistic 21 year old male. I don’t think there are many romances told from only a male perspective, but I hope people will give this one a chance!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you do?

A rock star, of course! I play the guitar, though I don’t have time to practice as much as I’d like. I’ve always wanted to be in a famous rock band, but now I just write about them instead.

What’s next in the Chasing the Dream series?

I’m currently working on More Than Comics, a novella about the drummer of the band, Hector, set at Comic-Con about a week after More Than Music ends. After that, I’ll be writing books about Maddie’s best friends, Julie and Carla, who both go on their own reality TV shows!



EXCERPT

Alexis stood alone in front of the bar, watching the band on stage. Her leather jacket had been left in her car, and in her tight jeans and tiny, V-necked top, she radiated a cool, sexy confidence I found irresistible. She’d had that same confidence when we were younger, too, but now it had an edge, like she wasn’t afraid to be herself. It made me want her even more.
I moved behind her, fitting myself against her back, and whispered her name in her ear. I didn’t need to say anything else. She turned her head and met my eyes with a look of desire that matched my own. Her hand reached up to circle my neck, drawing my head down to hers, and I gave in to her siren call.

Our lips touched for the first time in three years. It was everything I remembered and more. Like waking from a long coma. A bright sunrise over a dark sky. The first hint of spring after a long winter. I was truly living again, in the way I normally only felt when I was on stage.
The kiss started slow, an awakening, an exploration, a forgiveness of our past mistakes. I teased at her mouth with my own, opening her wider, wanting more, wanting everything. Her lips were amazingly soft and sweet, like candy I’d tasted long ago and had finally rediscovered. I wrapped my arms around her hips, holding her flush against me. She groaned and dug her fingers into the back of my hair, pulling me even closer.

She turned in my arms to face me. “I guess this means you’re giving me a second chance.”

“I guess it does.” I lowered my lips to hers again.

Our bodies fit together perfectly, like when we’d hugged except this time we didn’t hold back. I slid my hands down to cup her butt, pressing her against the front of my jeans. Our kiss deepened, mouths hungry for each other, bodies desperate to be together again. We couldn’t get close enough, couldn’t get enough of each other. She clung to me like I was her savior, and I kissed her harder, flicking my tongue across hers, nibbling at her lower lip. Her fingers gripped the top of my jeans and tugged on them, like she wanted them gone. If she kept this up, I would rip her clothes off and take her right there on the bar counter.

This was all moving so fast, but I didn’t care. This was exactly the kind of thing my brother did, and after being apart from Alexis for so long, I didn’t want to go slow.
“Let’s go to my car,” she said, breathless. “The backseat…”

“My thoughts exactly.”

We broke apart, and the rest of the club came into focus again. The crowd pressing around us in the dark. The clink of bottles behind the bar. The music blasting from the speakers. The lights illuminating the band on stage. I checked the time. About an hour before our set. No one would miss me if I slipped out for a few minutes.
I took Alexis’s hand, the action so familiar I could almost believe we’d never broken up. She gave me a knowing smile and let me lead her through the club, weaving between other couples and head-banging fans. I couldn’t get us out of there fast enough. My brain had shut off and my body had taken over, with only lust and primal urges controlling me now.
This might only last one night. I didn’t care. I’d take one night with Alexis. As long as I reminded myself it was just sex and nothing more, I’d be fine. If Jared could do it, so could I.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

{Book Review/Movie Adaptation Comparison} Coraline: Neil Gaiman

Rating: 79%
Series: Standalone
Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Horror,
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: August 4, 2002
Page Count: 162
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.



Would I Buy It?
40%
None of the book covers give me the urge to die unless I got the book in gorgeous, hardcover form. While scrolling through the various covers, none stood out particularly to me, so much so that I didn't even insert a book cover (found it off of google images). This story deserves something spine-chilling and striking, something to depict the darkness in this seemingly innocent Middle Grade novel. Basically something that I would be terrified to have on my shelves and would deter every little prospective 10 year-old out there.

Background & Backstory
Grab a seat. This backstory could take a while. My memory is horrible, I don't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, let alone movies/books from the Summer of 2010. Yet, the cartoon version of Coraline (made by Tim Burton) defied the clutches of forgetfulness, and to this day, I still remember a TON of main plot points, characterization, and absolute terror I felt.

That alone should tell you something. When I was little, I liked terrifying myself, which means that I watched Coraline nearly every chance I got. I expected myself to get less afraid because of the repetition, but that didn't happen. I would climb into my mom's bed because I was so scared after watching this movie.

Fast-Forward more than four years and I STILL like giving myself goosebumps. AT this moment, I am the sole patron of every YA novel in my local libraries that hadn't already been checked out. Of course, a book that took primary real estate on that was Coraline.I had had the opportunity to read this book around two years ago, but the memories of the movie still haunted me, and I hadn't dared.  

What Was My Reaction After I Finished This Book?
I'm glad I read that.

Middle Gradenesss: Over the past six months, I have developed a rather unsavory (what the heck does that mean?) prejudice for Middle Grade. I hate those feelings, especially when I get so defensive about everyone being able to read YA. Coraline was a classic Middle Grade book, but I was okay with that. Aspects of the novel could be considered somewhat juvenile, but when Neil Gaiman is the author.... you can easily look past the fact.

Spookiness: I'm not sure if the book wasn't as creepy because I knew what would happen, but the book DEFINITELY did not creep me out and make me want to sleep with the lights on. This might be because Neil Gaiman didn't want to scare off his target audience? Despite me not feeling creeped out,      I believe the reason I was so scared when I was little was because of how expertly the movie was adapted. This is also not to say the adaptation was unfaithful (there was some word-for-word dialogue), it was just the WAY it was adapted that made the movie so terrifying versus the book.

Premise: Something about a book that will immediately draw me in is the premise and proper of execution of it. And let me tell you, Neil Gaiman follows up with it BE-YOU-TI-FULLY. I never once felt like I was promised something and not delivered (a feeling uncannily common with adaptations as well as movies in general). Just the concept of parallel universes is one I have always been intrigued with (*hint hint* NaNoWriMo novel), and the way Gaiman twists it so artfully, making it that the evil "Other Mother" would suck Coraline's soul *shivers get sent down spine* with those godawful button eyes which were petrifying in the movie.

Concise: Coraline was my VERY first Neil Gaiman book ever. Since then, I have read (and flipped out over how much I loved) The Ocean at the End of the Lane and am currently reading The Graveyard Book. And I might (just might *winks*) have put every Neil Gaiman book on hold at my local library. Something I commend Gaiman for with the highest respect is with how many few words he can develop the richest, most detailed, most abstract stories I have ever read. I never once felt like the novel was incomplete or that I wanted more (of the novel, not his writing). There was a distinct and satisfying beginning, middle, and end. And the book was only 162 pages. Beat that! 


How Likely Is It That I Will Re-Read This Book?
90%
Because of its lack of length, I am considering making Coraline an annual re-read accompanied by watching the movie. So (for once) it is very likely I will be re-reading this book.

Conclusion: Spooky, Eery, Conceptual with a terrifying premise. Perfect for Halloween time and sleeping with the lights on.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

{Giveaway+Interview} Lies We Tell Ourselves: Robin Talley

Rating: 92%
Series: None
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Page Count: 368
Format: Physical ARC
Source: HarlequinTeen via My Heart Hearts Books

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.


Disclaimer: I received this book from HarlequinTeen via My Heart Hearts Books in exchange for an honest review.

*My guest post on My Heart Hearts Books hasn't been published yet, but when it is, the image above will have a link leading to the review*

GIVEAWAY
(10/22-11/5)
Interview With Robin Talley



1. The LGBTQ genre has had quite a breakout in 2014 in terms of how many books have been released dealing with these issues and how they are becoming more widely accepted. Each author has their own story of why they write LGBTQ fiction, maybe a family member, close, friend, or even themselves has fallen in the LGBTQ spectrum. Why did you start writing in this genre and when did you become interested in it?

In every book or short story I’ve written so far, my protagonists have always been LGBTQ. Partly that stems from my own life experience, since I’m gay, but it also stems from what I see as a need for greater representation for LGBTQ characters in fiction, especially young adult fiction. Malinda Lo’s statistics show that despite recent gains, this representation is still far below where it should be in YA. 

Also, for the most part, my brain tends to generate stories that focus on LGBTQ characters. So it all works out nicely!


2. Because some people aren’t always accepting of LGBTQ people and many books in this genre have been banned, was there ever a time when you were scared to put Lies We Tell Ourselves out in the world because of this added factor of stress? Instead of just being afraid if people would like/not like your book, was there ever a fear that you would be ostracized because of it or that your book would even be banned in some conservative communities?

This actually hasn’t been something I’ve worried about. Which is good, because there are plenty of other things for a debut author to stress over! :)


3. What inspired you to write this story and come up with such an outrageous premise for this time period? An African American and white person talking to each other civilly, let alone falling in love, let alone the situation being between a GIRL and ANOTHER girl. Did you ever think of your readers would find this unrealistic, or did it just add to the story?

From the moment I first started thinking about the story for Lies We Tell Ourselves, I knew I wanted to explore the question of not just how someone would deal with living through a horrible period in history, but also how it would feel to be living with that and to be dealing with something a slice of the population has always dealt with for all of history, too: having a sexual orientation that doesn’t match the majority’s. 

For millennia, people have been forming across traditional societal lines ― race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, background, etc. Sometimes those connections are friendships, sometimes they’re romantic, sometimes they’re something else entirely. 

So I don’t think it’s outrageous for two people like Sarah and Linda to form a connection in 1959, despite the boundaries that separate them. Nor do I think it’s unrealistic that they’re both interested in girls. I think there’s a tendency to view the idea of “LGBTQ issues” as a new thing, because only in the past couple of decades have openly queer people have been discussed much in mainstream media. But there have been queer people for as long as there have been, well, people. There were just as many queer people in 1959 as there are in 2014. There just weren’t as many openly queer people.


4. While writing Lies We Tell Ourselves, was there ever a time that you felt a scene was hard to write because of the amount of torment you had to put your characters through, because of research that needed to be done surrounding the circumstances, or to get into an individual character’s head?

All of the above! Lies We Tell Ourselves was by far the most difficult story I’ve ever written for all of those reasons and more. The most challenging part of the writing process was getting into Linda’s head. Linda has held a set of beliefs for her entire life that is abhorrent and that also completely defies logic, so it took a huge amount of intellectual twisting and reaching to try to understand where she was coming from well enough to write from her point of view. 


5. I know that I greatly appreciated the fact that Lies We Tell Ourselves was written in two points of view and then the added third at the end. What was your reasoning for this? Why not write the story from just one point of view? And what made you decide to divide the points of views into parts versus every other chapter?

I tried writing Lies We Tell Ourselves in many different ways. I wrote a draft just from Sarah’s point of view, and I wrote the beginning of a draft in alternating chapters. Neither of those worked at all. With just Sarah’s point of view, there wasn’t enough forward momentum to drive the story and provoke Sarah to change. Alternating chapters caused the opposite problem ― it broke up the momentum of the first day of school that makes up most of the first part of the novel, where the story really belongs to Sarah alone. So I tried splitting the difference with an alternating act structure instead. 


6. Lies We Tell Ourselves seems like the type of story that you would need to know from beginning to end, and because NaNoWriMo fever is in the air, I am dying to know this. Are you a pantser or a plotter?  

I’m a plotter, but I didn’t actually know the story of Lies We Tell Ourselves from beginning to end when I first started writing it. That’s usually how it goes for me when I’m working on a new project. I always make an outline before I start writing, but usually the outline either doesn’t have an ending at all or I realize halfway through the draft that the ending I’d originally envisioned won’t work at all. So although I depend on my outlining process to get me from point A to point B, I usually have to rework my original conception to figure out how I’m eventually getting to point Z. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Am @sslluvbooks & I Will Not Be Embarrassed ~ Pressure, Peers, Respect & Distractions.... The Plight of a 21st Century Teenage Blogger: Discussion in GIFs (6)

*I went into this discussion thinking it was going to be short.... for ONCE. No such luck as my tangents went on tangents*

Ze Backstory: Today, I was driving home from school, and my friend's mom (the driver) told me that she had seen my YouTube video {Introduction ~ Reading, Writing, Overall Craziness and Quirks}. Instantaneously, I was embarrassed. All she said was that she had seen it. She hadn't even taken a breath to tell me what she thought, and my mind AUTOMATICALLY jumped to the conclusion that she would judge me. This is my friend's 40-something year old mom, I expected her to say something like, "Oh that's nice Sofia." or some lame remark like that. One of those things adults say when they want to compliment on effort, not quality, and they don't really mean it. In short, she thought it was a great video (she might be biased) and loved the informal-ness I portrayed throughout it.

Yet.... in the back of my mind, from 3 o'clock on, for the past FOUR hours (it's 7 now), my reaction has been on my mind. And that's why I'm writing this discussion.

WHY?
Why am I so afraid of being judged?
WHY am I terrified of showing people (peers, parents, teachers) my blog/YouTube channel?
Moreover, WHY do I even care?

I don't let negative comments about other topics in my life get in my way. I am a self-confident person that doesn't need recognition or reassurance that I'm good at something. (My ego is way to big for that).
Take This Into Consideration: Why am I so petrified to share my work with people in real life, yet I'm perfectly fine with putting myself out there online?

Online, there are haters, there are negative people. Not everyone is going to like what you create, it's a given for life in general. If anything, I should be more willing to show my friends. They know me, and some embarrassing YouTube video or opinionated blog post doesn't define who I am. They already have their own perceptions of me (good OR bad).
In fact, I shouldn't feel bad. I should take pride in the art I'm creating. (I use the term "art" loosely, I originally had a "Make Good Art Analysis" planned for today's blog post, which is coming SOON) IF I don't feel comfortable with people I know seeing what I say, then why on earth am I saying it on the internet?

Today's incident in the car was NOT the first of its kind: One of my friends is subscribed to me EMAIL feed. A ton of others are following my on Instagram. I've been asked about blogging, and now vlogging. I've been asked why I do it. I've been asked why I'm so obsessed with books.

My sister keeps urging me to create a private Instagram and my friends have urged me to make a private twitter. Yet, there's a reason I'm a book blogger/vlogger/Instagrammer/Tweeter. I am not about to go around posting perfectly edited and filtered selfies. 

I bring this up because whenever people ask me (as a common courtesy of the 21st century teenager) what my Instagram username is.... I shy away from their questions and try (and fail) to steer the conversation away. It's not that I don't want to share this wonderful, amazing part of my life with the people I know IN real life. I'm just embarrassed about being judged for posting nothing but books. I'm a book blogger/vlogger. I'm not going to go around Instagramming EVERYTHING I see. People would unfollow because of the sporadic irrelevant of my post subjects. 

Are you distracted yet? 
ANYONE can easily look up @sslluvsbooks on Instagram.Twitter and follow me: They can see my feed without having to follow or subscribe. In fact, I would rather them quote unquote "stalk" me by doing so because at least then I wouldn't feel self-conscious.

There are two people following me that I feel especially self conscious about. 
Reason: I like them (interpret that as you will). I'll admit it. I'm a teenage girl. 
I'm not the most experienced or skilled at communicating with the male race.

With people you someone, the stakes are higher. You feel pressure that wasn't there before.
Anyone can make a statement about you online.... but do you give a crap? No. Because you don't care what they think. You don't know who they are. They don't know who you are.

RESPECT: Yet.... when it's your friend, teacher, or adult, you care about what they think of you. Their opinion of you may be higher because of it. They may have a newfound respect for you. They also might judge you. Although I don't know how that could happen because I start talking to people about books the MOMENT I meet them. Some people ask how your weekend was as a conversation starter. The introvert I am asks if they have read anything good lately. 

NO ONE knows who I am online.

In no way am I trying to say that I am fake or not staying true to myself. On the contrary, I'm able to be even MORE myself on the internet. I share my opinions openly, I am EXTROVERTED on the internet. I can be as sarcastic, as thoughtful, as empathetic, as humorous as I want. I have created the identity I want for myself IRL (in real life) online. 

[Cue the adult commentary on why cyber bullying happens]

Obviously, with my leap to BookTube, I am putting myself even more out there. You get to see my gorgeous face now *flips hair* There will be a point where my internet life and real one collide. Yet, for the past 10 months that I have been blogging. I have created "Sofia Li." I have created @sslluvsbooks. Even though I'm not crazy popular (faaar from that), I have created somewhat of a name for myself. You know, for all 200-ish followers. 

There is my internet self and name I have created.
Then there's the in-person self and name I have created. 


Book blogging and now vlogging have become SUCH big parts of who I am now. Instead of wasting time on YouTube or Netflix, I'm creating something, an impression on the internet that will ALWAYS be here. I may not be famous, but nothing ever goes away online. In a way, I'm making a legacy for myself. Of course I have interests outside of books - you're looking at the two-year champion in her age division for the annual Fiesta Days 10k in my area. Yet, my life, my personality, and everything about me has changed. I am, in NO way the girl I was last December when Loving the Language of Literacy was born. (Of course, personal events have changed me as well, but that's not the point) My time-management skills have been sharpened, my organizational skills have improved, my priorities in life have changed. 

What I'm trying to say is....
I am in no way ashamed of what I create and shouldn't ever be. Yet, when it comes to letting people - that I know IRL- in, I get a little self-conscious. This goes beyond wanting to show my blog or YouTube channel to people. This is on the level of showing -people I may say "Hi" to in passing in the school hallways- people who I am.

What is your opinion on the matter?
Do you get self-conscious or embarrassed whenever people from "real life" (if you know any of those kinds of people) find your blog/YouTube channel?
Do you not give it a second thought and think, "More page views for me!"?
Online, are you like you wish you were in real life?
Do you have the exact same personality online as you do in real life?
Does being online give you confidence you don't have in real life?

Monday, October 13, 2014

{Book Review} Kiss of Broken Glass: Madeline Kuderick

Rating: 77%
Series: None
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Poetry, Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Page Count: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.



Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of Audacious (Gabrielle Prendergrast), any Ellen Hopkins novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Michelle Hodkin)

Background & Backstory
I am a huge fan of novels in verse, so I take the opportunity to read any YA book by multiple authors at any time possible. The reigning queen of novels in verse is Ellen Hopkins, but I always like to see if any novels can compete. Naturally, I wanted to pick up Kiss of Broken Glass

Something that took me back when before I started reading Kiss of Broken Glass was the fact that this novel had 225 pages. If you have ever seen, let alone read an Ellen Hopkins novel, you will know they are 500+ pages of thick chunkster. I had no idea if I would even get a story when reading this book because of the free verse and freakishly short page count.

What Was My Reaction After I Finished This Book?
That was incredibly short.... but there was a clear plot.

***I haven't done a quote review in FOREVER***

"The same way an acorn holds a full-grown oak tree inside its tiny shell. 
I want to put it in my pocket.
But what if the idea sprouts?
What if it gets pink and purple with promise but instead of growing strong...is just flops over and dies."

Do you know when you have to put aside your feelings for something in order to enjoy something with similar qualities because you know your enjoyment will be tainted otherwise? That is exactly what I had to do with Kiss of Broken Glass. There is no way I could have judged this book on the same scales as I judge any of Ellen Hopkins novels. Dark subject matter and free verse are the only things the two authors have in common. So, when rating, I judged KoBG as if I had never read another book in verse before.

"I am the shadow that waits in dark places, silent and patient, to follow you home.
I am the tiger that eagerly chases, racing and running, wherever you roam.
I am the hunger that feeds on your madness, biting and clawing, to swallow you whole.
I am the silver that soaks up your sadness, body and spirit and all of your soul."

As usual with books in free verse, the prose was gorgeous and heart-wrenching. While I did not have to whip out the tissues to dab my moistening eyes, I was touched and could relate to many of the quotes in this novel. 

"I don't have any deep, dark secrets. 
My lifes not some riveting novel when you rush through the pages
to get to the end and find out what horrific, repressed memory caused me to cut
The fact is, I've had a pretty ordinary childhood.
So I guess that brings me to the real secret.
I've been cutting for absolutely no reason at all."

You may know this from the synopsis, but this book only covers a short 72 hour period of observation under psychiatric watch. Yet, in that short time, we learn so much about Kenna and the mentality towards cutting. My personal views are that cutting is horrible and shouldn't be done. For one, it hurts. For another, it scars both yourself and other, serving as a permanent reminder - like a tattoo, but worse. Yet, it was fascinating to see how Kenna described it as a fad for the popular and not a horrible act done by those who are depressed. 

"All I want is scalding water to sear down my spine like a hot blade,
to blister my back, to char my chest, to melt me to pieces 
so I can dissolve down the drain; evaporate into steam, and disappear."

Something that obviously could have been better were the relationships Kenna developed with those under psychiatric watch. A hint of a romance was going on between her and a boy she just met. It wasn't even insta-love, it was just like, "You're a boy. You're cute. I'm going to start liking you." There was also this friendship that developed between her and a long-term patient that seemed extremely strong and powerful, but I personally couldn't see where it stemmed from and didn't feel for them.

"So I wedge myself by the window and I watch....
It's like there are two worlds now.
The In Here. And the Out There.
The suspended animation. And the full speed ahead."

My feelings on the ending AGAIN refer back to the length of this novel. Of course the ending wouldn't be closure-giving with how short it was. Yet I wished it had ended differently. I wish I had gotten more time to know Kenna and the other patients. I wish there had been more story and more to know and feel for. 

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
80%
Considering how much I enjoyed the story in comparison to how little the page count was, I will definitely read another book by Madeline Kuderick in the future. 

Conclusion: Concise. Poignant. Beautiful. A snippet of perspective into the misunderstood's head.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Loving the Language of Literacy.... The BookTube Channel!!!

In my first post of October a.k.a. Welcome to October: What's Been Going On? (2) I revealed my intentions (How suggestive does that sound?) in regards to my making the leap across the blogging chasm to BookTube (the fancy shmancy name for the YouTube community centered around books). 


And guess what? 

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 2:29 PM, my first EVER video was published to the YouTubes. Ironically, my Blogoversary is on the 8th of December, so I will not have to celebrate the two momentous occasions that far apart. Back to my point, {PI} Introduction - Branching Out, Expectations, Reading & Reviewing is the video I uploaded. In it, I kind of give myself a mini Q&A where I talk about why I made the leap to BookTubing, expectations (in terms of videos) for the channel, why I read/review, and other general information about myself as a reader. 


In six months, I will probably look back at this video, smack myself in the face because of how stupid I acted, filmed, edited, etc and how I was incredibly idiotic to put that video out on the internet. But for now, October 12, 2014, I don't freaking care. It took a lot for me to make this decision to venture into the BookTube community, and I am proud of myself for doing so. What I heard (from various Twitter/Instagram friends), I didn't make a TOTAL fool of myself, and in terms of first videos, it was definitely not as bad as it could have been.

  

Of course, around 12:30 today (as in the day I am composing and publishing this post), I published {PII} Introduction ~ Reading, Writing, Overall Craziness & Quirks. In this video, I got in depth with how insane I really am. (There's no hiding this level of hyper-active human being behind a computer screen anymore) I talked about doggy-earing pages, my affliction for colons versus dashes, and my OCD behavior when it comes to organizing my bookshelves. Overall, it was a fun, informative video filled with all sorts of trivia. 

What does all of this mean for the BLOG Loving the Language of Literacy?

Like I said in my Welcome to October post, blogging is my first love in the bookish community, and in terms of content, I will always make blogging OVER vlogging my priority. Unless my primary audience changes to my vlogs, you're stuck with me. (I can just feel you rolling your eyes with joy) I plan to have at least three ORIGINAL blog posts a week (excluding ones about my videos or promotional posts). As well as two to three posts about the videos I have uploaded that week. For example, if I do a book review, I will include the regular structure of my reviews (information about the book), how likely it is I will buy it, etc and instead of writing my detailed feelings, I will have the video in its place. Or I might do a tag, and then have the questions and people I tag in a blog post. This way, I allow my videos/reviews to be seen by both audiences, and you get more content from myself.

It is guaranteed that I will mess up somewhere along the line in my new bookish regimen (God only knows I have made enough mistakes solely blogging), so I hope you will stick with me. In no way would I want you to feel obligated, but if you want more bookish content from myself, it would make me the happiest person in the world if you subscribed to my channel.


Friday, October 10, 2014

{Blog Tour+Giveaway+Top Ten+Review} The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing: C.K. Kelly Martin


Rating: 75%
Series: None
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Page Count: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Losing weight over the summer gains Serena some popularity, but it also means discovering first-hand the pains of being a fifteen-year-old girl in a world that both sexualizes and shames young women. After narrowly avoiding exploitation in a shortlived relationship, Serena aligns with a new friend who was the victim of an explicit image that was shared at school. When Serena finds herself in a relationship with a new guy, she is surprised to find a different set of expectations. But have her previous experiences damaged her too much to make it work? As Serena struggles to find who she is as opposed to who she is expected to be, she begins sighting Devin – her older brother who disappeared months earlier.

Giveaway:
Topic: Top Ten Books About Body Image

Blubber by Judy Blume (MG). The 1974 Judy Blume classic about a fifth grade girl who initially joins in bullying an overweight classmate, and then finds herself on the other side of the divide when she changes her mind.

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (NF). Why is so much of female self-worth wrapped up in how we look? Wolf’s incisive exploration of the relationship between female beauty and identity.

Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA). The haunting story of an eighteen year old girl who struggles with anorexia after her best friend (a bulimic) dies.

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger (YA) In the author’s own words, from an interview with Victoria Schwab (http://veschwab.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/tea-time-kody-keplinger-the-duff/): “a dark-ish romantic comedy about a girl who uses an enemies-with-benefits relationship to distract herself from her troubled homelife and some body image issues she’s dealing with – and how it all goes wrong when she begins to fall for the boy she hates, the boy who made the first real dent in her self-esteem when he told her she was the DUFF – designated ugly fat friend.”

The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances Roark (MG). Eleven year old Abigail knows she’s chubby because everyone else—including her so-called friends and her parents—can’t stop obsessing about her weight, but when Abigail hits a personal low she becomes determined to transcend their obsession.

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (YA). This book features a very unique point of view and situation. In 19th century Paris young central character Maude is hired by an agency which rents out its female employees as companions to high society women with the aim of making the wealthy women seem attractive by comparison.

Sex: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College…by Heather Corinna (NF). This isn’t strictly a book on body image but I’m such a fan of sex educator Heather Corinna and the chapters on the topic and ones that delve into the intersection between the idea of loving and respecting your body and sexual activity are wonderfully inclusive, positive and wise. Don’t miss page 44 for “ten bodacious ways to boost body image”; page 142 for “the top ten really crappy reason to have (any sort of) sex with someone else” and Chapter 2 to get the real scoop on the wide range of normal in human genital appearance and size.

Never Enough by Denise Jaden (YA). I was lucky enough to be able to read this book in ARC form and blurb it: “A poignant, important book, Never Enough tackles self-esteem and body image issues while always remaining true to its three-dimensional characters. Denise Jaden has created a cliché-free zone filled with hurt, heart, and personal strength. Jaden's tender sympathy for her characters and dedication to honest 
storytelling shine through every page.”

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (MG) 5th grader August was born with severe facial deformities that necessitated years of surgery, but he doesn’t still look like everybody else. This is a story that really pulls at the heart strings as we watch August attend school for the first time—and gets his views about the process as well as his sister’s and a variety of friends’.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going (YA). 300 pound seventeen-year-old Troy’s life begins to change the day a scruffy, young homeless guitarist stops him from throwing himself off a subway platform and introduces him to the live punk music scene where his self-esteem is resurrected.




Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of These Gentle Wounds (Helen Dunbar), The Beginning of Everything (Robyn Schnieder), Audacious (Gabrielle Prendergrast)
People in the mood for Hard-Hitting young adult contemporary romances dealing with some darker New Adult-toned topics

What Was My Reaction After I Finished This Book?
*scratches fake beard* Interesting

One of the largest issues Serena has to face is the fact that her new boyfriend -Gage- is 19, and has a four year old daughter. Serena herself isn't too effected by this fact, but the people around her take it into serious consideration and judgement of Gage before they have met him. Teen pregnancy is often told from the point of view of the girl who has been left with the baby, so it was quite refreshing to see how the guy deals with things. The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is proof (at least in book world) that they have the ability to step up to the plate and take care of the human being they had a large part in creating. Gage is in no way perfect, but as parents always say, "if you're trying your best, we're happy," and that's how I felt as a reader. Characters are bound to screw up (they would be as dull as bricks if they didn't), and Gage dealt with being a teen father responsibly. 

Something else The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing touched up on were the double-standards for women and sexualization. I thought this would have been a wonderful element of the novel if it had been a teensy bit more prominent with the way Serena's friends Nicole and Aya dealt with the repercussions. In no way was TSTYCS a novel about a girl dealing with the fallout from sexual images/videos being viral. Yet, I still would have enjoyed the author giving us a some more information about this relevant and very current topic at hand.

The quality I most applaud in The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is the way Serena and Gage deal with their physical relationship. In YA and NA literature, sex often happens first, then a relationship between characters. Of course teenagers are eager, but it's gotten ridiculous in most books. Because Gage made the mistake once with Christabelle (the mother of his daughter), he is extremely careful about setting guidelines for their relationship. I'm not going to go into the dirty details about how far the two of them got, but I am happy to say that a emotional relationship developed first and was important to both of them. It is now proven that teenagers can be in a relationship and not need sex to bind them. A huge win for my feministic ideals!!!!

Serena had a lot on her plate at the tender age of 15 - which included a dysfunctional mother, golden-boy brother, and missing drug addict brother. A lot of the story is about her trying to find Devin, and this added a whole other level of depth to the story. Her voice was honest and pure. When she made mistakes, she owned up to them and did her best to fix them. 

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
60%
While I am not certain that I will seek out another book by C.K. Kelly Martin, I would most definitely participate in another blog tour or promotional events for future books because of how much Serena's voice had a lot to offer. I also loved how blatant Martin was, laying everything out on the table.

Conclusion: The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is a wonderful novel with a unique narrator, no cliche tropes, and lots of difficult topics the characters dealt with in a mature, responsible manner.


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