Well, there goes February… I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m not happy with my progress this past month. While I did a LOT of work on improving my posts, Bookstagram account, Pinterest boards, and so on, my blogging and book reviews […]
Release date Feburary 27, 2018! Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls […]
It's Thursday, and it's time to start a new Meme!
What is Thursday Blog Trot? Well, since I don’t have all the time in the world to spend following my lovely fellow book bloggers, bookstagrammers, booktubers, and the like, I wanted to dedicate some time each and every Thursday to provide shout-outs to these peeps, and the hard work they spend each and every day to run their blogs, read books, write reviews, and so much more!
If you like the sounds of this Thursday Blog Trot Meme, feel free to use it, along with the image provided! Be sure to comment below if you do, I’d love to see your posts and all of your blogger friends’ hard work!
Without further adieu, let's see what everyone has been up to!
The #NewBloggers 101 is a Discord group headed up by Evelina at AvalinahsBooks.space. She puts in a HUGE amount of effort to coordinate and provide amazing content for fellow book bloggers to learn from, starting with the basics. Each Friday, she or other bloggers from the group posts a self-help guide to all different topics. Her post from last Friday was:
This is the third part in a series on social media and networking. See the previous posts in theis series by expanding the list below!
- 02/09/2018: What Tools Can Help Me Be An Organized Blogger? Writing And Scheduling Posts(#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion)
- 02/02/2018: What Tools Can Help Me Be An Organized Blogger? Blogging Calendars(#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion)
- 01/25/2018 How Do I Write A Proper Review Policy? (#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion)
- 01/19/2018: Book Blogger Etiquette: How To Get Comments? (#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion)
- 01/10/2018: How Do I Make A Good Edelweiss Or NetGalley Profile? (#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion, Edelweiss, NetGalley)
- 01/05/2018: When Should I Start Requesting ARCs? (#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion, Edelweiss, NetGalley)
This post is so helpful in regards to organizing how to manage posting, and keeping up across all platforms. While there isn’t a best way to do this, Evelina gives one way that works for her, and it is certainly helpful! I discovered the wonderful (and free!) Buffer.com which is one way to control social media posts, and have incorporated using that each and every day. I’d highly recommend checking these posts out. I mean, they are free guides and tips!
If you are a photoholic and bookaholic, Sushma’s post on Her Bookstagram Journey is what you need in your life!
She tells about her story and what got her into Bookstagram, and her journey until today. For being someone who has been (very) inconsistent with posting on Instagram, I find this material highly valuable and insightful!
Free Blogging Tips!
She has several very practical suggestions, but also focuses on individuality. The most valuable tip I got from her was to “not forget why I started blogging.” It’s so easy to get caught up in keeping track of all that needs to be done, and forget to love what I’m doing in the meantime. I’d encourage you to check out her post if you need a little bit of encouragement!
Aimee over at AimeeAlways has a lovely post on How to Style Book Reviews. She gets into the nitty-gritty and helps break down some formatting (including HTML!) that she uses while designing her book review posts. It’s no wonder why her blog looks so amazing! Any blogger can find some useful information in this post, so be sure to check it out!
Last, but certainly not least is a post from a series of posts called Bookworms Explained, by Chloe. She’s the lovely blogger behind bookdragons247. I love these posts! If you are looking for something light-hearted, funny reads, be sure to check this series out! The focus is to explain bookworms and how they think. But let’s be honest, that’s a lot easier said than done!
Here’s a list of her past posts in the series if you’d like to get caught up!
That's it for this week! Be sure to stop by each Thursday to discover more wonderful posts! Also, show these bloggers some love and leave them a comment, follow, or like! Until next week.
It is the autumn of 1846 in Ireland. Lorraine and her brother are waiting for the time to pick the potato crop on their family farm leased from an English landowner. But this year is different—the spuds are mushy and ruined. What will Lorraine and […]
Well, I wasn’t as successful this past month as I was hoping to be with getting ahead on upcoming ARCs. Normally, the #ARCsAnonymous topics focus on past ARCs, but January was an opportunity to get ahead on some upcoming reads. What’s #ARCsAnonymous? Well, it’s a group […]
Is anyone else shocked at how fast January flew by!?
I feel like I need to double-check my phone every time I see that it’s already February. I had quite a few ARCs in January that I needed to read. I got to all but one, as I’m still reading the first book in the series in order to get to the second (which I have an ARC for.) Overall, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made.
I’ve also been trying to read some older ARCs for the #BeattheBacklist challenge, which has been teasing my attention away from upcoming ARCs and forcing me to pursue older ones that have been sitting (which is also great!)
By the way, if you haven’t heard of this State of the ARC Meme before, it’s hosted by AvalinahsBooks. Go check out her website for further information if you’d like to join! It’s a great way to get some motivation to tackle those old ARCs that have been haunting your peripherals.
Anyways, my January stats are as follows. I’ve organized them by each avenue that I receive ARCs, in order to keep track of which is where.
Well, my ratio dropped by one percent this month. However, I was dumped on by publishers approving some pending requests. So, it’s not that I haven’t been getting ARCs done, I just keep getting approved for more!
- New: 7
- Read and reviewed: 5
- Read, but needs review: 2
- Remaining to read for January: 1
- Due in February: 6
- Due in the future (excluding February): 8
- Overdue: 35
Newly Approved ARCs
Although it’s still not as good as I would like, my ratio has increased by 7% since January! I appreciate those baby steps!
- New: 5
- Read and reviewed: 1
- Read, but needs review: 0
- Remaining to read for January: 0
- Due in February: 4
- Due in the future (excluding February): 6
- Overdue: 1
Newly Approved ARCs
Again, while this ratio is not where I want it to be, it did increase a bit, just 2%. But, progress, is progress.
- New: 0
- Read and reviewed: 1
- Read, but needs review: 0
- Remaining to read for January: 0
- Due in February: 0
- Due in the future (excluding February): 0
- Overdue: 13
Whew! That’s a lot of info to wade through. Sorry if you got lost at all! Before I was picking out ARCs that I was planning to tackle in the month to come, but I’m not going to do that anymore because I’d like to have a little more freedom to choose this throughout the month. With the #BeattheBacklist and #PopsugarReadingChallenge, I’ll be posting in my monthly updates which ARCs I’ve chosen to read during the upcoming month which falls into those reading challenges as well.
That's it for now! My February State of the ARC post will be up on February 28th, so be sure to check back! Good luck with all of your reading this month!
But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Book: Zenith Series: The Androma Saga Author: […]
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Released January 2, 2018!
Book: The Wolves of Winter
Author: Tyrell Johnson
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Page Count: 320
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Cover Artist: —
My Rating: ★★★★
I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
Set in future, the post-world war world is decimated. Not only have nuclear weapons wiped entire countries out, the yellow flu hit the remaining population and took out almost all of the survivors. When the flu struck, people fleed from cities, traveling to more remote locations away from the populace. Gwendolynn and her family left Alaska for the desolate landscapes of the Yukon. Their small village hadn’t heard from the outside world for several years after the migration, until one day when a stranger appears in their territory. The man, later known as Jax, is an untrusted and unwelcomed guest to the hunters. Jax, knowing his place to be out on the frozen tundra alone, knows that he cannot outrun his past, nor evade his future. Staying with them will only bring harm, but is it already too late?
“First you survive here.” He pointed to my head. “Then here.” He pointed to my stomach. “Then here.” He pointed to my heart. “You have to have all three.”
When I was into the first 10% of this book, I immediately thought two things:
- I want some venison steak, right now!
- I want to go to the Yukon, right NOW!
This is the perfect read for the Winter months, especially if you like your books with a side of edginess. Look at me and all my food analogies.
The Wolves of Winter is as feral as it sounds.
It’s safe to say (for myself as the reader) that the atmosphere is absolutely indespensible. It makes everything more believable, not to mention tangible. This may be the most realistic post-apocalyptic read I’ve read to date. While these types of books fall into the Sci-Fi/Dystopia genres, it didn’t feel like one to me. The overtly technological futuristic setting that I was expecting didn’t exist. This book has the ability to cleanse the palate of overly-indulged dystopian consumers. When these (minor) elements did appear, they felt like an intrusion on the plot. Instead of a decimated world (which is still was in ways), wildlife adapted and flourished. It gave the illusion that everything was still alright in the far reaches of the world, untouched by humans and their corruptible ways.
What had happened to the world had made animals or monsters of us all. Survivors or murderers. Sometimes the line between the two was blurry…
Another major part of this book that I appreciated was the complex simplicity each character possessed. The survival they endured each day in the brutal landscape wasn’t overdone. The characters may not have loved their situation, yet, they didn’t constantly dwell on the past and wishing for it back. They too, adapted. They too looked to the future. Gwendolynn’s character was exactly like this. She shares her honest feelings about the past, present, and unpredictable future, without it being overbearing. Putting myself in her situation, I felt as though I’d feel and think similar things. I appreciated how practical everyone’s mentality was. It made me feel like I could really connect with most of the characters, especially Gwendolynn.
The only thing I found in Gwendolynn’s character that I didn’t like were her frequent thoughts of sex, attraction, and reproduction to Jax. Sure, in this setting, it makes sense. I think it’s a natural thing to consider at that point seeing how the majority of the world’s population no longer existed. Even so, I thought her deliberations we a bit much, and rather brash.
For how much I appreciated certain aspects of this book, I equally disliked others. There is one scene where the main character Gwendolynn is sexually assaulted and then raped in another by the same man. His animalistic brutality is unprovoked and deterring. On top of that, the amount of profanity throughout left a bitter taste in my mouth. If my calculations are correct, I counted 208 words. I haven’t seen this book being marketed as Young Adult, but if it is, know that it is not Young Adult appropriate! The amount of detailed violence, sexual content, and profanity are far too graphic and frequent for immature eyes.
I believe this will be one of those reads where the reader either loves it, or hates it. There isn’t much room for middle ground. Because some of its traits are so extreme, they may make the entire plot off-putting, or, entirely engaging. While I felt strongly pulled to love this book, I couldn’t due to its negative points mentioned earlier.
“Grief never goes away. It just changes. At first it’s like molten-hot lava dripping from your heart and hollowing you from the inside. Over time, it settles into your bones, your skin, so that you live with it, walk with it every day. Grief isn’t the footprints in the snow. It’s the empty space between.”
Released today, January 2, 2018! Tempest and Tally Jo Trimble are mirror twins—so alike they were almost born the same person—and they’ve been inseparable since birth. But it’s the summer they turn thirteen, and it seems like everyone can tell something is changing between them. […]
Released today, January 2, 2018!
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: Untitled #1
Author: Sara Holland
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Page Count: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★★★
I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. Even the spirit of the Alchemist himself is said to wander these woods, trapping whole eternities in a breath.
Jules Ember is no stranger to hardship. She’s been a servant all her life, working alongside her father to survive. Growing up on Everless, a wealthy estate owned by the Gerling family, she grew to be friends with one of the two Gerling sons. But when a tragedy struck, Jules’ father was blamed and they were cast out.
Years pass and her father struggles to provide for her. Knowing that his time was close to expiring, Jules decides to return to Everless for employment for time as a lady’s maid. Returning to the estate opens a floodgate of memories, some sweet, but many bitter. As she faces those ghosts of her past, she realizes that some of those ghosts aren’t as transparent as she believed.
Oh, this book was such a surprise! I thought it was going to be another mediocre YA fantasy novel with an eye-catching cover—I swear, I’m like a moth to a flame when it comes to amazing book covers.
There, I admit it.
Let’s get on to the things I liked:
#1 There are so many elements of mystery throughout this tale that kept me completely engaged, wanting to get to the end of the story as quick as possible! This book masterfully ties the past into the present by utilizing time as a major theme. Accompanying that, a creative myth is spun of an old feud between a sorceress and an Alchemist, lasting centuries long. These two aspects were keys to upholding this mystery. It felt like no matter what scene it was, there was a big, pink elephant standing in the corner, just waiting to be noticed!
#2 The pacing is fast and intense once the backstory is given and the characters are introduced. The first maybe 20% I was a bit…bored. But I waited it out, taking note of key characters and facts as they came along. Once the plot moves from that neck of the woods, it just builds and builds and builds…
#3 I won’t say much on this one so I don’t spoil anything for anyone, but the author does a great job at avoiding a possible love triangle! I was so worried we’d end up with yet another #teamwhosawhata and #teamforgetmenot (but really, I forget a lot of them because there are just too many in YA to keep track of!)
I’ll just say it’s not the nicest thing to happen in the book.
#4 The characters were well written and believable in each of their situations. While the fantastical undoubtedly takes place, it is not forced at all. I felt, especially with Jules’ character, that what happened to her actually could have happened. This is the key element that takes a fantasy story to an entirely different level.
#5 The climax and ending had me like…
Things I didn’t like:
There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. It had a bit of a slower start. Once the characters were introduced and the stage was set, the pacing ramped up. The only thing I would have liked to see more of was a wider view of Sempera, the world/land in which Everless resides.
I thought this book was original, refreshing, and intoxicating. I’m awaiting the
Vulgarity: None that I recall.
Sexual content: Minimal.
Violence: Moderate – there were a few scenes that I cringed at.
It’s time for a quick recap on December’s #ARCsAnonymous reading stats. What’s #ARCsAnonymous? Well, it’s a group on Goodreads that was created by Avalinahsbooks. It’s to help motivate each of us book reviewers who tend to be top-heavy with ARC TBRs. To motivate us to get […]
December has come and gone. The new year is upon us! Thus bringeth another State of the ARC update! State of the ARC is a Meme created by AvalinahsBooks. Check out her website for more information if you are interested in participating! I’m pretty happy […]
Released today, December 5, 2017!
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
The Girl In The tower
Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
Author: Katherine Arden
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Del Ray
Page Count: 363
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling
Cover Artist: David G. Stevenson & Robert Hunt
My Rating: ★★★★★
*Review for book 1 in series: The Bear and the Nightingale
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
A snippet of the folktale of Snegurochka:
Snegurochka knew that she could live forever if she chose, a snow-girl in a little peasant’s izba. But…there was the music. And her lover’s eyes.
“So she smiled and clothed herself in blue and white. She ran outside. When the sun touched her, drops of water slid from her flaxen hair. “She and the shepherd went to the edge of the birch-wood.
“‘Play your flute for me,’ she said.
“The water ran faster, down her arms and hands, down her hair. Though her face was pale, her blood was warm, and her heart. The young man played his flute, and Snegurochka loved him, and she wept.
“The song ended. The shepherd went to take her into his arms. But as he reached for her, her feet melted. She crumpled to the damp earth and vanished. An icy mist drifted under the warmth of the blue sky, and the boy was left alone.
“‘Why should I be always cold?’ she retorted. ‘You are an old cold thing, but I am a mortal girl now; I will learn about this new thing, this fire.'”
One thing that struck me right away in The Bear and the Nightingale was the way Arden introduced the fairy tale to the reader through character storytelling. Not only does it tie everything together into a lovely bow, it is a wonderful tactic to familiarize any reader with the retelling. Not being particularly familiar with Russian folklore, I was elated that she used the same tactic in The Girl in the Tower to introduce the tale of Snegurochka, the snow child who became Morozko’s Goddaughter and helper.
“But some say she died,” she said sadly. “For that is the price of loving.”
It is very interesting how Arden retells this tale and applies its implications towards Morozko, himself instead of Snegurochka. His undeniable connection to Vasya, a human girl, pulls him towards the life of the living. Yet, his true nature is an obstacle that
will most-likely could be the downfall of this budding romance.
Despite the fact that I was playing a bit of catch up, it was to my satisfaction that much of the indecisiveness The Bear and the Nightingale left me with was cleared up in the first few chapters. There still were a few small details that left me wanting for more explanation, but I’m hoping The Winter of the Witch will address those.
Moving on to things I liked:
#1 In my opinion, the world building is the most notable characteristic of The Girl in the Tower. The reader doesn’t need to work at all to fall into the crystalline setting of this story. The moment I started reading, a wintry chill crept in and trapped me into this medieval era in Russia. The atmosphere of this book is everything. If you are looking for a Winter read, this series is perfect for that! You have (of course) snow, a snow/death demon, wintry horse races, and so much more!
#2 The entire cast is perfection. With such a wide variety of people and creatures, it’s hard not to become invested in them.
(of only more prominent characters)
Vasya‘s character is the perfect combination of a strong female character, that has some sense. It’s a common theme to make female characters rather brutish in fantasy nowadays. Gladly, I never had this feeling while following Vasya. She retains her free spirit, braveness, selflessness, and is simply a delightful character.
When Vasya must leave her home, she decides that she wants to live a life of freedom and adventure. Morozko tries, yet cannot sway her yearning. Instead, he aids her to disguise herself as a young man as it was dangerous to travel as a woman alone. Although it was highly against the rules, her new identity of Vasilicii ushered her into the world of men, along with their politics.
Soon, she realizes that in order to gain favor with men, including the Grand Prince Dimitrii, she must prove herself. Time after time, she does. However, her growing reputation is forgotten when she is discovered to be a woman during a duel race with Kasyan.
Faced with difficult choices, Vasya remains true to herself and stands for herself and family.
Sasha: After encountering his sister Vasya disguised as a man, Sasha’s morals are challenged. Knowing her precarious state, he puts on a front and introduces her as his little brother. He puts his own reputation on the line as a priest to ensure his sister’s safety. (The things we do for our family!)
Olga: While her presence was quite apparent in this story, Olga didn’t have much of an impact on me. Her character is essential, as it exemplifies the societal structure, especially among the upper-class citizens.
Kasyan: I had thought that Konstantin couldn’t be rivaled in his vileness, but he has met his match. Kasyan, one of Vasya’s male acquaintances along the road, discovers that she is a woman. He ends up revealing her secret to the Grand Prince, forcing her to choose between punishment or marriage. Vasya discovers that Kasyan holds a secret of his own, and is actually Koshchei, an old rival to Morozko.
Konstantin: While he was still just as despicable as ever, I felt a bit more satisfied that he sort of got what he deserved. However, I feel that it will not be the last of him in this series.
Other Beings: I must send a little shout out to my lovely Solovey and other creatures throughout this series. You all make it so much better! (And who doesn’t love a talking, sassy horse!?)
Morozko: I had some issues with Morozko in The Bear and the Nightingale as I wasn’t really understanding where his character was supposed to go. However, his stance was established quickly, and consistently. His obvious love for Vasya is undeniable, and heartbreaking.
Which leads me to the third point of what I liked.
#3 The romance is deliciously innocent, and believable. It’s clear that there is chemistry between the snow girl and the Winter Demon. Unlike many fast-paced, no-one-uses-their-heads kind of romances, this one is nearly infuriating because the reader wants Morozko and Vasya to be together (at least, I do!) but there are so many obstacles in between them making it nearly impossible!
#4 The way this story is written feels historically accurate. Yes, I know it’s a fantasy tale. However, before Christianity found its way into Russia, the Slavic (Rus) fictional character Ded Moroz (Morozko) held supreme. This battle between “the old gods and new gods” seems believable, as it did take time to convert non-believers to Christianity. Even though this is an underlying theme, these belief systems play a major role in the existence and well-being of the “mythical” creatures that add such flavor to this tale.
Things I didn’t like:
#1 While I gave this book a 5-star rating, one thing that I still had a bit of difficulty with was all of the characters. While this was less overwhelming than in The Bear and the Nightingale I still felt myself trying to figure out, or remember who a character was here and there.
#2 This isn’t a read for the weak. The depiction given of this Russia is brutal when one is a woman. Woman have hardly any rights, as shown when Vasya is discovered not to be a boy.
#3 Some further explanation would have been nice when regarding Koshchei the Deathless, portrayed by the character of Kasyan, and even the Nightingale. Little to no backstory is given on these characters’ involvement in Russian folklore.
Overall, I loved this read. The pacing is fast and incredibly intense. I can’t wait for The Winter of the Witch to come out!
Vulgarity: Moderate usage, mainly consisting of the B-word, as well as other degrading female terms.
Sexual content: While there aren’t any specific scenes, women aren’t treated well at this time in Russia. Basically, the moment a girl is out on the streets alone, no matter her intent, she’s fair game to any man.
Violence: Moderate. There is a child birthing scene which is a bit graphic, and tragic.
A big thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!