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.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

{Discussion in GIFs} The Reading Cycle ~ DNFs & Re-Reads

Today, I will be discussing two completely opposite sides of the reading spectrum/journey - the beginning and the end. I have problems with both, I kind of think that I should be thrown into the reading asylum (forgive me, I just read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and am into asylums/ hallucinations) because of how BIG of an issue both re-reading and DNF-ing is for myself. 


Re-Reading: A lot of my thoughts from "I Hate Big Books and I Cannot Lie" apply to this as well. 

I. Don't. Have. Time. 

Let me walk you through it, I have a multitude of books I want to read. Reading ALL of the things is literally my life goal (scientifically, this is impossible, as my TBR will increase in size in death). If I were to die tomorrow I want the words "Here lies the bookworm.... whose TBR keeps growing, even in death." on my gravestone.

  
There are dozens of well-loved books and series that I would LOVE to re-read.


When I have sooo many series that I want to read.... let ALONE finish, I don't know how I can take the time out of my reading schedule to re-read something. 


With my book reviews, I have a section titled, "Re-Readability," and I am seriously considering taking this out because it feels SOOO monotonous, repeating the SAME thing EVERY time about how I don't re-read books. I plan to continue blogging for the foreseeable future, and I know that as I increase blogging, I will gain more opportunities (such as review books/author events) which will only INCREASE my TBR and the books I want to read. This is the one con because I put pressure on myself to read other books and don't give myself the space and/or time to re-read a book, guilt-free. 


Now, when I'm writing this discussion post, and actually pondering my negative feelings towards re-reading. I have to admit to myself and to you, as my blog readers, that my so-called "reasoning" for not re-reading books is lame and goes against my morals as a person, letting the pressure of review books and even my own books on my personal TBR prevent me from diving back into worlds and journeys that I know and love.

So, I'm going to get back to the re-reading topic in a blog post, probably in early 2015, and in that post, I would like to re-visit this blog post - a kind of part two persay- and have something different to say.

The Cons:

But.... But.... What about all of those other shiny new books awaiting my attention?
What if I don't like the book as much the second time around?
What if I catch something that I hadn't previously and that makes me dislike the book?

The Pros:

Ahhhh.... I'm back in this world with the characters and storyline that I know and love so well
*counters self* What if I like the book a thousand times more?
DNFing: We can now move past the deeper stuff and discuss something I have a HECK OF A LOT of things to say about. 

I will open this up by saying - I am allergic to DNFing, AFTER the 50th page.


When I say I am "allergic" to DNFing, I mean that I am too darned stubborn to DNF. Even when I HATE a book, I will usually push on because of the thinking, "I've already invested so much time in this, I should continue." I am well aware this is toxic for my reading enjoyment and like re-reading.

The first step to resolving a problem is acknowledging it.
Yet, out of every 10 books I read, there are TWENTY books that I have DNFed before the fiftieth page. There are so many books from the library, for review, and even on my bookshelf that I plan to get back to.... some day (you know, maybe in 15 years). *Sidenote: My aversion to re-reading is even worse when I DNFed a book once*

What factors make DNFing even more likely?

eBooks

My issues with eReaders/eBooks are an entirely different bookish subject met with a lot of controversy, but what I will say is that the pros for eReaders don't outweigh the cons. It feels like reading eBooks takes me 5x more time to read an eBook versus physical.... of the SAME book, I might add.

Even if I'm LOVING and have EAGERLY ANTICIPATED
a book, if I'm reading an eCopy, I have issues reading it. There is also the fact that I am in school when I get a good third of my reading for the day done, so it is yet another factor that plays into me taking forever to read eBooks. Because I read multiple books at one time (another bookish topic that deserves its own post), an eBook is yet another, less accessible book for me to avoid reading.

The Cons: 

What happens if I the book I just DNFed would have been the best book I have read this year, or even the best book I have ever read?  
What happens if everyone is raving about this book, do I gather up the courage to try again?
How may times is enough? How many chances do I give this twisted relationship with this book?
The Pros:

No more stress! No more pressure! Read the things I actually want to read. Good riddance to that piece of junk!
You've heard the Pros and the Cons of both sides of the reading circle. Now I would like to know; What's your verdict? 

Do you give a tremendous sigh of relief once you dive back into a book's well-loved pages and feel like you have finally returned home after a long journey in other inferior books?

Do you scoff at re-reading in general and think of it as a total waste of time?

Do you wish you re-read books more, but have the pressure of life that restricts your reading habits?

Are you indifferent to re-reading, you choose your books at a leisurely pace, never knowing what you're going to read next, and if you want to re-read a book.... you just do?

Do you have commitment issues when it comes to reading books and have absolutely no problem dropping one like a hot potato?

Do you hold on by a thin thin thread for as long as humanly possible before you can't take it any longer like a toxic relationship?

Do you wish you DNFed more/less because of how many opportunities you may have missed?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

{Cover Reveal+Giveaway} Gears of Brass Anthology

Gear up for GEARS OF BRASS!


A world like ours, but filled with gears of brass, where the beating heart is fueled by steam and the simplest creation is a complex clockwork device.  

Within this tome, you’ll find steampunk fairy tale re-tellings, as well as original stories that will send your gears turning.  

Welcome to the steampunk realm, with eleven authors guiding your path. 

GEARS OF BRASS is a steampunk anthology published through Curiosity Quills. It will be available for purchase on November 10, 2014. Within the pages, you’ll come across clockwork inventions and steampunk-ified fairy tale retellings. Eleven authors will guide you through worlds filled with airships, top hats, and corsets.
Meet the authors:

Jordan Elizabeth writes young adult fantasy for Curiosity Quills, including ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW which was published in October and the upcoming TREASURE DARKLY; she’s represented by the Belcastro Agency.

J. Million is the author of Last of the Giants and can always be found reading or writing.

Lorna MacDonald Czarnota is a professional storyteller and author of several books including, Medieval Tales That Kids Can Read and Tell, Breadline Blue, Legends Lore and Secrets of Western New York, Wicked Niagara, Native American and Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York, and Dancing at the Crossroads: Stories and Activities for At-Risk Youth Programming.

SA Larsen is represented by Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary and is the author of published short stories, community-interest stories, and magazine articles focused on children. 

Grant Eagar is an Engineer who would take the tales he told his children at bed time, and transform them into fantasy stories. 

Clare Weze is the author of The House of Ash (forthcoming) and the co-author and editor of Cloudscapes over the Lune.

Eliza Tilton: gamer, writer and lover of dark chocolate; author of the YA Fantasy, BROKEN FOREST, published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Heather Talty's stories have been featured in Enchanted Conversation, as well as her own fractured fairy tale site, Mythopoetical (www.Beatrixcottonpants.com).

W.K. Pomeroy is a third generation writer who has published more than 70 short stories/articles/poems across many genres and styles, which now includes Steampunk.

Christine Baker is the author of Lana's End, The Guild of Dagda, and many more. 

Natalia Darcy: a bookilicious reader, tea drinker and Zumba aficionado who enjoys playing cards against humanity and washing her hair with ice cold water. 



You can get your steampunk fix before GEARS OF BRASS is released in November. To enter for your chance to win a copy of GEARS OF BRASS, you will need to share the cover. This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper (#insert link) to record it. It will give you more chances to win. The drawing for the winner will be held on October 27th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 6, 2014

{ARC Review} Rumble: Ellen Hopkins

Rating: 67%
Series: None
Genre: LGBTQ, Religion, Poetry, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Page Count: 542
Format: Physical ARC
Source: Margaret K. McElderry Books via Once Upon a Time Children's Bookstore

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.



Disclaimer: I received this book from Margaret K. McElderry Books via Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, California in exchange for an honest review. 


Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of books in free verse such as Audacious (Gabrielle Prendergrast) & Kiss of Broken Glass (Madeline Kuderick)
People who would like a different, strong perspective of atheism told from the perspective of an articulate, somewhat forceful teenage boy

Would I Buy It?
20%
While this book was highly anticipated by myself, I will have to admit that I was disappointed with what this story actually ended up being. I don't think I would buy it, unless I felt the urge to look at a pretty finished copy on my bookshelves.

Background & Backstory
The backstory with how I obtained RUMBLE is the same backstory as I had with Anatomy of a Misfit (Andrea Portes) and Falling Into Place (Amy Zhang). I am friends with the owner -Maureen Palacios- and she so generously let me pick out a few ARCs to read and review. 

What Was My Reaction After I Finished This Book?
You're kidding me, right? You're kidding me.



So I finished RUMBLE last Sunday, but waited to review it until I watched the #ReadytoRumble liveshow which is put on by the people over at Booksplosion which is a group of four BookTubers -Katytastic, PolandBananasBooks, Jesse The Reader & Ariel Bissett- every month where they (and the rest of the bookish community that chooses to participate) reads a book and then comes together at the end of the month to discuss it.

I wanted to wait so that I would be able to have more incite and other people's opinions in regards to RUMBLE and the Booksplosion people all had different, extremely interesting perspectives. This particular liveshow covered the topics of cheating, religion, mismarketing, gun control, excessive alcohol consumption, and a lot of other topics that, even a few years ago, were taboo.

Cool, I'm going to read this book because of its interesting premise. I hope it delivers what I  expect from it.
The majority of the readers of RUMBLE and myself went into the book expecting quite a different story than what we got. I don't know if this was intentional misguiding to draw people in or just a misinterpretation. We all went into RUMBLE thinking that we would be getting a book about an atheist who has heard this rumble which sends him down a deep, spiritual journey of self-discovery and enlightenment about faith.

Okay then book, give me an entirely different plot than what I signed up for.... I get it. I'll sit over hear and cry.
While I have never been into super-religious books, the aspect RUMBLE of that I was most anticipating  was the spiritual aspect because I read the BURNED Duology, also by Ellen Hopkins, which shed a new light on Mormonism, which made me extremely intrigued to see how she would take on Christianity and Atheism. Without spoiling anything, I will say that Matthew hears a rumble at the END of the novel and the events in this book depict his spiral into a dark place that build UP to him hearing it.
Fine.... I'll just read this book instead, but I'm still confused
This automatically brought down other reader's and my own rating of RUMBLE because we had to account for the time when we still thought this book would tell the story the synopsis told, then the time where we had to reboot our brains to go along with the actual synopsis, and then finally accept what the story actually was. And it's certainly not to say that I'm not able to adapt to changes in a story, but personally, the story that I got out of RUMBLE just wasn't as satisfying as I expected it to be compared to Hopkin's other works.

If you have never read an Ellen Hopkins book before this one, I would suggest that you start off with a different one. BURNED, IDENTICAL, and TRICKS are all books of hers that are excellent introductions to her unique style. While I'm talking about Hopkin's writing style, I should mention that her writing is in free verse, which means that the book is formatted like poetry and is extremely lyrical. She also deals with taboo and generally controversial subjects such as drugs (CRANK), depression (IMPULSE), schizophrenia (IDENTICAL), mormons (BURNED), and prostitution (TRICKS). If you needed to visually represent the phrase "say it like you mean it," all you would need to do is hold up any of her books.
I actually like this protagonist?
Generally, I have issues with Ellen Hopkins because they are so mentally messed up to a point where it seems unlikely and certainly not as easy to connect and relate with them. Matt.... was a different story. He was strong, and the essay that was the catalyst for where this story began was extremely articulate and opinionated, which I couldn't help but relate to because I would probably have written the same things he did if I were in his situation.

I didn't agree with all of his decisions and thoughts, far from it actually, but when it came to his strong feelings against religion, I had to agree with a lot of them. People always say that things in life need to be had in moderation, and I believe this applies to religion. There are extremists on EVERY spectrum, there's no question about it. Matt's girlfriend -Hayden- was a super-Christian and utterly dedicated to Jesus. So when Matt questioned her beliefs and she couldn't back them up.... I had to agree with some of his opinions.

*Disclaimer: I am still a teenager, I haven't solidified my personal beliefs and don't believe I will ever get to a point where I am 100% certain of my feelings. I am also not Atheist, and I am perfectly accepting of other people's religions and beliefs*

I have Snape to say it for me
Like a lot of Hopkin's novels, cheating takes place, and personally, I am against cheating.... especially with the situation in this book. Kat provided some incite on this topic, saying that Matt didn't break up with Hayden because so much in his life had changed, that he didn't want to let her go as well. Yet, I disagreed because it was CLEAR as day the two of them were a bad match, and he had to go behind her back (even if she was a horrible person) and sleep with another girl.

Lastly, I would like to say that the free-verse didn't work for RUMBLE. Unlike her other novels, the text was 95% in verses, which could have easily been converted into regular sentences. This book was dense, physically and content-wise, and I'm sorry to say, but the free-verse didn't add anything I couldn't have already gotten.


How Likely Is It That I Will Read Other Books By This Author?
80%
RUMBLE is by Ellen Hopkins, who is one of my auto-read authors. I don't necessarily agree with what she says in her books and even if I don't connect with the characters, I always feel the urge to read whatever she publishes. She provides so much perspective and reading her books is like looking through a different magnifying glass than the one I use for everyday life.


Conclusion: While RUMBLE did not deliver what I expected it to, it was definitely another thought-provoking  Ellen Hopkins book that brought up interesting food for thought.
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