June 2015: Recap & Wrap-Up!

JuneRecap

NO REALLY where did June go!?! I was honestly on Twitter, seeing people saying things about how they loved monthly recaps and I was like, “Oh that’s nice but it’s not even time yet…” NOPE, it was July 1st. June flew by even quicker than previous months and I feel like I did a whole lot of nothing… But I guess the reading wasn’t so bad!

FunStats

  • Number of Books Read: 7 — For some reason I had a hard time reading print this month! I just got REALLY into audiobooks and naturally, those take more time!
  • Popular Search Terms:  “books like divergent” and “books like if I stay” // “brandon sanderson hero of ages” // “otsp secret sister” // “lunar chronicles quiz”
  • More Amusing Search Terms: “books mentioned in boy meets world” (no, but let’s hear the answer to that!)  // “young adult books inspired by disney movies” (Yes!) // “blog niches for book addicts” // and something else super raunchy that I didn’t even want to list it. How did THAT lead to my blog!? Eeeeek.
  • Most Referrals (non-social media): Perpetual Page Turner, Rather Be ReadingAndi’s ABCs
  • Where My Blog Most Often Leads You (non-internal/social media)Books Take You Places, Andi’s ABCs, Tripping Over Books

Popularposts

 EMMY & OLIVER       DEVOTED

Other Reviews Posted

Goodreads Reading Progress

July 2015 gr

Featured on Book and a Beverage

Other Features & Discussions

Events

  • I went to the Boldly Bookish tour! Thanks to Bloomsbury for inviting me to hang out with the authors beforehand and for bringing a fantastic group of ladies to town!




 

June’s Top Instagrams








What’s in store for July?

  • A bunch more authors will be featured on Book and a Beverage!
  • The third round of On the Same Page Secret Sister is open for sign-ups on 7/12! Be sure to check out our FAQ page + all the info you could need before sign-ups open!
  • Some… umm… reviews? I don’t really have many plans for July!!! Ernest Cline is coming to Naperville so I may go to that event!

 

 

Book and a Beverage [110] – Holly from The Fox’s Hideaway

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Holly from The Fox’s Hideaway!

book & a beverage holly the fox's hideaway

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Name & Blog Name: Holly @ The Fox’s Hideaway
Tell us a little about your blog! Hey everyone! My blog started out as just a creative outlet for my writing, but slowly turned into a book blog after I stumbled upon the community and was like YES THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO TOO. Fun fact: the name has changed four times since its creation (but I’m keeping this one. :D). I read and review just about everything. And I’ve been blogging for over two and a half years now! It’s still exciting. I love it!
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!) I really loved the post I did on one of my favorite book boyfriends, aka Gansey from The Raven Cycle. I also really love my discussions! They’re very fun to write.
Got anything special coming up we should know about? Nothing at the moment, but I’m always looking for more book recommendations for a feature on my blog called Get Rec’d Basically you tell me to read a book, but you won’t know when I do it or when it will be posted. 😀

book


Whatcha reading?
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson!
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc): I grabbed it while I was at BEA!
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? It’s just the one I’m currently in the middle of and want to pick back up again immediately because it’s been too long (I’ve had it bookmarked in the same place and sitting by my side for over a week now).
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? It’s really good! I’m actually surprised at how much I’m enjoying it since I DNFed The Girl of Fire and Thorns (I’m still hoping that was a mood deal and not the book itself). I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction, but I love ones that have alternate universes, I guess. Plus the writing and the main character are a win so far. Yes, I definitely recommend it! I’m pretty positive it’ll just keep getting better. :)

beverageWhatcha drinking? Like my red solo cup? Isn’t it creative and original? Haha. So the drink that would be IN the cup is V8 Splash Strawberry Lemonade. I’m addicted!
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? I’m usually drinking my strawberry lemonade, but I also love pop. However most of the time I don’t drink at all, because I forget to when I’m reading (oops).
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Mountain Dew!

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? I’m going to cheat a little and start out with two series. The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts, is my ALL-TIME favorite and one I always return to when I’m in a reading slump. I love everything about it, especially the hate-to-love banter between my favorite couple. Everyone should also read The Archers of Avalon series by Chelsea Fine. SO MUCH fun + one of the best forbidden romances I’ve ever read (and one of my top five book boyfriends is in it). I’ll stop cheating now and just recommend one book, and that is The Kiss of Deception! I’ve been recommending this one a lot, but I just love it so much, and I want everyone to read it too. I might be biased, but I think it’s pretty amazing.
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? Oh my gosh, SO many! But I think one of my proudest moments was definitely my blog event back in March that celebrated my birthday by showcasing books that were published during that month. I had a few all-time favorite authors join the event, as well as the one and only Elizabeth Wein (which was so incredibly cool!). Also any time an author loves and comments on my review, it makes me feel so happy about my writing!
Anything else you’d like to share? Y’all should read my book recommendations and then let me know what you think, okay?! 😀


 Thanks, Holly! I’m really excited for Rae Carson’s new book (though I still have to read her first series too!) and… GANSEY! Looking forward to reading your post about him :)

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Holly! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog // Twitter // Goodreads // Instagram


And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage!#bookandabeverage

On the Same Page: Secret Sister Project | Pre-Sign Up FAQs + Info

secret sister project

Hey there, friends! We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and positivity shown during round two of our Secret Sister Project! Thank you all so much for your kind words to those of us who host, and for being there to provide cheer for one another. It is really something to go through the hashtag and see you all lifting each other up despite only being matched to one “sister.” Your generosity shines through and it is heartwarming to be part of a group filled with strong, uplifting women!

Most of you can imagine how much work goes into a project like this. The three of us are expected to always be available to answer questions, keep on top of people who are not abiding by the standards we set, promote the project and so on. It’s tough and frustrating at times, and we are doing everything we can to make it easier on everyone for next round. That being said, this post is going to be LONG and DETAILED and should provide you with all of the information that you need if you want to sign up for the next round.

We ask that you read this post thoroughly, and refer back to it PRIOR to reaching out to us with questions during the project. In addition, keep in mind that the hashtag #otspsecretsister is ALWAYS a fantastic resource for information needed, odds are that someone participating knows the answer to your inquiry!

The Basics

The What:
The Secret Sister project is essentially a cheer club. Think Secret Santa but all year round (in 6 month intervals) with less emphasis on big presents, and more thoughtful notes, cards, small somethings sent just to let your secret sister know that you are thinking about her!

The When:

  • Sign-ups will run July 12 – July 25 (Do NOT send an email prior to July 12, it WILL be deleted!)
  • You will be paired up with your secret sister by July 31
  • This session will run from August 1 – January 31 (this means that your last something will be sent in January)

The Who:
You guys! But there are some conditions that must be met prior to signing up, we are going to outline those below under “The Rules.”

FAQs

What will I have to do if I sign up to be a secret sister?
This is a commitment, we can’t lie to you. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND/OR gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” you sign up for. It is very important that you don’t sign up for this unless you are willing to follow through. Please think of how sad (and unfair) it would be for someone to be working hard to make their secret sister feel special and not receive anything themselves!

Do I have to send presents?
Depending on the group that you sign up for, it may not be necessary for you to send presents. However, regardless of the monetary group, it is encouraged to send a little something special during these 6 months. Keep in mind that this really is meant to be more of a cheering up sort of club. However, in the six month period we will be going through Halloween, Christmas, and maybe your secret sister’s birthday!

Look at how extravagant that package is! I don’t have that kind of money…
Neither do I! This is why we have different price ranges! You should never, ever feel as if your package is inadequate as long as you are meeting your price range “standards.” Trust me, it is much more meaningful if you stay within your price range but then send an extra letter or handmade card just to check in that month! Anyone who is getting caught up on the size of the gifts is missing the entire point of the project and will be dealt with accordingly.

Do we have to remain secret?
No, though that is part of the fun! Just leave your name off of the card or box you are sending if you want to remain secret, and reveal yourself whenever you wish! It is entirely up to you! (If you are looking for some tips on how to remain secret — like if you want to send an e-book, for example, we can help ya out!)

Do I have to be a blogger to join?
Technically, no. You absolutely DO need to be bookish, however. We are book people over here! We do have some non-bloggers who have joined us but full disclosure they are people that we know and trust. That is not to say that we won’t allow you in unless you are a blogger, but as this project was started and is promoted in our blogging community, it is filled with mostly bloggers.

Umm…I’m a guy so…
That is wonderful! Welcome! I know it is a little off putting to see the word “sister” up there but honestly we just did that because it sounded better than “The Secret Person Project” I personally would love a secret bro, pal, dude, or friend regardless of gender.

Is this project international?
Maybe! If you are an international participant wishing to join us then please email us at onthesamepagesecretsister@gmail.com and let us know where you are located and that you are interested. IF we have enough interest in certain areas, then we may be able to allow you to join! Yay!

What are the price ranges, and can we have some examples of what a package would look like for each range?

  • $5-$10: Send a heartfelt letter to catch your sister up on how things are going that month and then send an e-book, paperback straight from Amazon (thank you Prime shipping!), baked goods, homemade bookmark or other DIY project, or how about a movie night box with a DVD (thanks to the $5 bin at Walmart) and some candy for a movie night!
  • $15-$20 Any of the possibilities listed above and perhaps a newer hardcover from your sister’s wish-list, some fun socks, fandom tshirt, themed box, get creative!!
  • $25+ The sky’s the limit here, we just ask that you remember to reign it in a bit and remember the goal of this project is for cheer, and joy and forging positive relationships, not excessive gifts. Send those heartfelt letters!!

How will people be paired up? 
The pairs are essentially random. You will be matched up with someone in your same price range selection. Last round we also paired by region to cut down shipping times but that made it easier for people to guess who their sisters might be so this round it will anyone in the country! We’ve TRIED to match people up with similar interests but based on who signs up, what price range they’ve selected (and let’s be honest, how much time it takes to assess every questionnaire), this is NOT a guarantee. You may not be paired up with someone who has similar interests as you so please be prepared to do some nice research on your sis and investigate what she likes!

The Rules:
Here is where things differ from last time, and where we go all “mean mommy” on ya. We ask that you pay attention because we are going to hold you to these standards with no exceptions. I am sure that you all realize that we absolutely do not have the time or patience to deal with nonsense and when I say that, it is coming from a place of love and experience as we did have some issues before! If you think this is very strict and “not fair” then we are sorry you feel that way, but we made some exceptions last round and spent lots of time chasing after people and yes, even kicking people out for neglecting to do their part. Thanks in advance for understanding.

    • You MUST “know” one of the hosts in order to join!
      • The hosts are Alyssa, (@withthebanned), Amy (@trippingbooks), and of course, myself (Brittany (@bookaddictguide)).
      • What does “knowing” us entail? Well, we are all pretty active on Twitter and really like chatting. Tweeting at us a few times saying “Hi! I want to join The Secret Sister Project!” does not count. We want to get to know you, there are three of us and our tastes range — this shouldn’t be too hard. “Knowing” should include commenting here and there on Twitter — we don’t have to be IRL besties but one of us needs to see your name during sign-ups and go “Yes, I recognize Denise”. Not to mention that we have been promoting this project for months and have been telling you to chat us up!
      • WHY do we need to “know” you? Well, it’s a six month project and someone else’s happiness is in your hands. They’re counting on you for cheer. We’ve said it before but this is a COMMITMENT. Chatting with us and making the effort to show interest in the project shows us that you’re willing to take the time this project entails.
      • Now, we DO take the time to check up on those we aren’t familiar with — if it seems as if you are active on Twitter with people we know and trust, you have a good chance of getting in otherwise, start forging relationships and maybe you can join us for round 4! ** NOTE: Someone vouching for you does not take place of trying to get to know us so please DO interact if we’re not friendly yet! We only get to the vouching part if you sign up and we are still unfamiliar with you (which we should be familiar at that point) **
    • You must be 18 or older to participate in The Secret Sister Project (If you are under 18 and have participated before then you’re fine, just please make a note of this when you send your sign-up email in two weeks)
    • You must actively use the hashtag #OTSPSecretSister during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project.
      • Use the hashtag to interact with one another, ask questions, answer questions and most importantly: USE IT TO THANK YOUR SISTER!! We get TONS of emails asking things like “It says my sister’s package was delivered last week but I never heard anything?” This is unfair, creates more work for us and quite frankly is rude. Be courteous and classy, thank your sister.
      • People also use the hashtag a lot to grab ideas for their sis so it’s VERY helpful if you pop in to check up on it.
      • Aside from showering our own sisters with love, we encourage the sense of community that comes from participating in the hashtag as well.
    • If we have to reach out to you more than twice to ask if you why your sister hasn’t yet received anything then you will be asked to cease in participating.
    • If we contact you and ask if you sent something to your sister and you say yes but are unable to provide tracking for the package then you will be asked to cease in participating. We DO understand that life gets in the way and time gets away from you, so be honest. We DO NOT abide liars.
    • If you have not received anything by the end of the month then YOU must contact US. We are not going to be checking in with all of you throughout the month so it is imperative that you let us know if you are not receiving!
    • If for any reason you find that you have to drop out of this project, please email us immediately. We will not judge. We will not ask why. We will simply thank you for informing us and then pair your sister off to someone else so she isn’t missing out.
    • You will be asked to provide the name and contact info (Twitter and/or email address) of a “buddy” close to you who will be willing to answer questions put forth by your sister.
      • Your sister will contact this person to ask things such as “Does Sally like citrus or flowery smelling candles better?” This person can also say things to your sister such as “Hello Joan, Sally ended up buying a copy of “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type” off of her wishlist so please do not purchase it. This does not have to be a person you know inside and out! Picking a very close friend may make it easier to get your sister quick answers but it can be ANYONE of your choosing that is willing to answer your sister’s questions or message you to get an answer for her. 
      • Please designate ONE good friend (or two if you have a tight group like we do — for example, my “buddies” would be Alyssa and Amy) to be this contact person. They will be privately contacted (email or DM) by your sister so please make sure they are okay with this too! This person is someone YOU choose for your sister to contact with questions. They do not have to be a bookish person (or participating in the project or on Twitter) but they should know a lot about you to hopefully give your sis quick answers!
      • This person will only act as YOUR buddy. They will not be acting as moderator for the hashtag or as a stand-in for any of the hosts.
      • Your “buddy” should be there as support for your sister. They should NOT be passing along suggestions of what to buy unless your sister asks for specific ideas.
      • Please do not seek out to be someone’s buddy. Any participant should be selecting their own buddy to help their sis to the best of their ability.
    • You will be asked to provide a Goodreads wish list that is specific to The Secret Sister Project, start working on this now!
      • The wishlist much have 20 or more books on it and must contain new and older titles — SOME ARCs are fine but keep in mind your sister may not have access to these.
      • If your profile is private, your sister cannot view your wishlist.
      • If you do not wish to make your Goodreads profile public then you may use another format for your wishlist such as, Amazon, or by providing one in the sign-up email.
      • This list should contain books that you are not going to purchase for yourself. IF you simply cannot resist a title here or there then please let your “buddy” (see above)  know so that they can tell your sister — but please try and refrain from doing this.
    • You must answer ALL of the questions put forth in the sign-up email as well as be detailed and thorough. We will absolutely be sending emails back to you that we deem “incomplete.” This info is important!! If you don’t have a lot to say on a specific topic, just do your best. We’d rather know you don’t like coffee OR tea OR hot chocolate than deleting the question and having your sister wonder.
    • We are asking that you put a little more emphasis on the “pen pal” aspect this round.
      • This means if you have signed up for one of the higher price ranges, you should still send a letter here or there to your sister. This is one of the things people have been asking for, so be prepared.
    • Do not tweet or use the hashtag to ask for specific and/or luxurious items.
      • OK to say: “I love owls!” “OMG I am obsessed with sugar skulls at the moment!” “I just got engaged!!”
      • NOT OK to say: “Please send this to me…” while providing links to something expensive or “#OTSPSecretSister this toaster would look excellent in my new apartment!” Even linking to something you think is super cool while using the hashtag seems grabby, and believe me, we see what you’re doin’ there, so let’s not.
    • Do NOT tweet negativity while using the hashtag.
      • Things such as “Wow, I wish I knew if my sister got her package” or “I wish my sister would use the hashtag more” are statements that promote negative communication. We will see them, and we will call you out. If you have issues like this, reach out to the person your sister designated as her “buddy” or to one of us and we will do our best to solve any issues. (This is something that really bothered me last round — I know it wasn’t intended to be negative when it happened but it made me feel icky and sad to see someone you don’t even know yet called out like that. If you’d like us to nudge your sis, please do so in the proper venues!)

Anything else I should know?

Use the hashtag and interact with one another! The whole point is to bring positive feelings into the our bookish community. Be as thorough as you can when answering the questions there is no “writing too much” when answering these questions! Remember that this project is The Secret Sister Project, wouldn’t you expect your sister to know LOTS about you? (I will also be providing an example of a sign-up email at the bottom of this post) The best advice I can give you is to be creative. Alyssa’s secret sister from the first round handmade  bookmarks featuring my favorite dudes and it was honestly the best things she received. If you are looking for ideas, chat us up, we would love to help! Or ask your fellow sisters! We saw some fantastic monthly themed packages last round and someone received a Loot Crate one month! We tweet from our own handles pretty frequently, but don’t forget to follow us all over at On the Same Page)!

READ THIS

We can’t say this enough…please PLEASE only sign up if you are willing to send something monthly and give 100% to this project. Though we had very few issues the first round, round 2 proved to be much more difficult and frustrating with having to constantly check in with some people. Please recognize that this is a commitment and that there is someone out there relying on you to follow through. Also, the three of us have full time jobs and busy lives — we love hosting this project but absolutely loathe having to chase people down for being inconsiderate. It hurts your sister’s feelings to be neglected and causes headaches for us to have to chase people down or constantly reassure someone. We’re not mean ladies but we had over 100 people sign up last round and anticipate even more this time. We are always happy to help but even between three of us, it’s a lot of work so we REALLY appreciate all participants being as proactive as they can be!

So how do I sign up?
The sign-up post with all questions that need to be answered will be posted on our blogs and promoted via Twitter starting on July 12. Do NOT send a sign-up email prior to seeing the post on July 12. If you do, we will delete the email and we will assume that you do not know how to follow directions and therefore cannot trust that you can handle being a part of this project. Sign-ups run for two weeks until July 25 so you will have plenty of time.

Below you will find a brief sample of answers to SOME of the questions that we will be asking (aka don’t use this as a guide to start answering on your own yet, as we are changing things up for this round). Use this as a guide on how thorough you will answer the questions provided and keep in mind that you can NEVER give too much information…

  • Your Likes: Harry Potter (total Slytherin), Zelda, Sherlock, Game of Thrones (books and show – I am a Targaryen), The Steelers (love football!), Shakespeare, The Princess Bride, Doctor Who, chocolate covered nuts and espresso beans, Chaucer, Fairytales, Robin Hood, Krampus, The show Friends, villains, especially Loki and Maleficent.
  • Your Dislikes: Chocolate covered fruits of any kind, peppermint things, anime, fruity teas
  • Do you have a favorite store: Etsy (anything fandom or literature related), Society6, Redbubble, Amazon, B&N, Teavana, Starbucks
  • Are you okay receiving a gift card? If so, to where? Yes! To the above stores, actually!
  • Would you be comfortable receiving baked goods of some kind? I would!
  • What Do You Splurge On?: anything quirky/literature related, usually artwork
  • Favorite Flowers: I like all kinds! Usually anything bright!
  • Favorite Color?: GREEN (in all shades)
  • Do You Collect Anything?: ANYTHING Wizard of Oz related (the books and movie), teapots, coffee mugs, macabre artwork
  • Do You Drink Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate?: Yes to all three! Preference is tea, coffee, then hot chocolate
  • Do You Have an E-reader?: iPad so compatible with Kindle and Nook
  • Would you be okay being gifted an ebook? If so, please provide the email associated with your e-reader:Yes, I would love it. My email is <redacted>
  • Tell Us Some Books on Your Wish List! My wish list: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4809138-alyssa-books-take-you-places?shelf=wishlist (Though I am open to surprise books as well!)
  • List some of your favorite authors: NEIL GAIMAN! JULIET MARILLIER! Fantasy is my favorite genre, I also like historical fiction and some horror but more supernatural and less thriller. Also anything with dragons. I like MG, YA, AND Adult!
  • Are there any authors or genres that you won’t read? Erotica, Christian/religious, Stephen King, I don’t love contemps
  • Tshirt size: Men’s medium
  • Hogwarts House: SLYTHERIN.
  • Favorite Disney movie and/or princess: Just one?! Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, Tangled, Frozen & for princesses I would say Belle
  • Is there a craft or hobby that you have been thinking of trying? yo-yo quilting! I also scrapbook and cross stitch, and have a sewing machine I have yet to turn on due to sheer intimidation
  • Any magazine you wish you had a subscription to? Health Magazine
  • Anything else we should know about you? Anything else we should know about you? Alright! Brace yourselves! All things Alyssa are coming!
    • I have my Bachelor’s in English/Elizabethan Lit which means I LOVE LITERATURE! Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poe, Stoker, the Bronte’s, Mary Shelley – the darker classics are my fav! (Not a fan of Austen)
    • I wrote a 30 page thesis on Robin Hood while in undergrad so I clearly love the dude. I also have my MLIS so librarian things are fun as well!
    • I am a Neil Gaiman fangirl, I have seen him speak 5 times and counting.
    • I Love Harry Potter (who doesn’t) and Game of Thrones. I am 100% a Slytherin, and Targaryen.
    • Dragons are bae.
    • Strong, fierce women, queenly women, are my soul sisters.
    • My tastes are pretty unique as I enjoy the macabre, skulls, and darkness honestly the darker the better, the name of my in-home library is Elysium – yep, the Elysium in Greek religion…the Elysium fields as told by Homer where mortals related to the Gods stayed instead of in Hades….told you, I am a special snowflake! I especially love dark/macabre artwork. I love work by Brom and Abigail Larson, I would love something from her shop: http://society6.com/abigaillarson

(I already own Snow White & Rose Red, and The Night Circus from her and am coveting Pretend to Sleep)
    • I am newly obsessed with the podcast Lore which is a podcast about true details behind tales of the supernatural – surprise, surprise I also love Halloween.
    • I love literary or fandom related things, tees, candles, scarves, jewelry – love them all. I also love crazy socks!
    • I have two cats named after Shakespearean characters and am a total cat lady.
    • I like being outside, but hate being hot. Hiking, going on picnics, letter boxing, and geocaching are my favorite outdoor activities.
    • When I am snacking, I like cinnamon candies, airheads, chocolate and toffee, chips and popcorn.
    • I almost always like the villain more than the hero and sympathize with the dark, twisted characters.
    • I like to think I am an open book, I give away a lot on Twitter! :) Full disclosure: If you have a question regarding whether I will like something or not, my co-hosts Amy @trippingbooks or Brittany @bookaddictguide know me VERY well!

We hope that this post has been helpful to you, friends! If you still have any questions then please reach out on Twitter. If you are new to the project then I encourage you to use the hashtag to talk to your fellow sisters as they may have the answers you are looking for! Thanks for sticking with us and being so generous and kind…see you back for sign-ups on July 12!

Top Ten Tuesday – June 30, 2015: Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2015 (So Far)

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TOP TEN TUESDAY
June 30, 2015

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic was a freebie so I chose:
Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2015 (So Far)

2015 has been a good reading year for me so far! One thing I really wanted to attempt this year was to pick up books I really wanted to read no matter when their pub date was (either way out there or backlist) and I also wanted to attempt being much pickier in my requests and what books I kept on my TBR. I think it’ s been working out really well so far because inevitably I’ve had some DNFs but it’s not a large amount and I’ve really been avoiding two to three star books. The majority of my reads have been four stars and some five with very few three-stars and surprisingly only one two-star book (though I usually end up DNFing before I get to two stars).

Untitled

Here are my top ten books so far:

  1. The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss: I’ll group these two together because they’re the same series and I read them nearly back-to-back. I absolutely fell in love with this fantasy series from Patrick Rothfuss… and now I understand people’s hardships of waiting for book three!
  2. Steelheart, Mitosis, and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson: Again, part of the same series, so into a group they go! I loved Sanderson’s Mistborn series and absolutely fell in love with his YA novels about superheroes who are actually the villains.
  3. Harmonic and Resonance by Erica O’Rourke: I LOVED Dissonance when it came out last year and quickly dove into the novella and sequel this spring! These books are just so much fun and the science is so cool. Add in some fantastic characters and I was just falling in love all over the place.
  4. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: I knew this book was going to be special before I started it but it just hit me in the feels and totally broke me.
  5. The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace: This fantasy just felt so refreshing and new. I loved the characters, shipped some of them REALLY HARD, and can’t wait to get more of this world!
  6. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: This book was really something special. There are some amazing relationships in here (and many different kinds) plus all kinds of feels. Feels galore, friends.
  7. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: It’s hard to explain but this book just felt like “home”. It was a new book to me but I totally felt like this writing style was where I was meant to be!
  8. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: This is the third book in the series and things are REALLY starting to go down! It wasn’t my favorite of the series so far but that’s like saying I have a least favorite Harry Potter book (*cough*Chamber of Secrets*cough*). They’re all amazing.
  9. The 4.5 star books: I had a lot of 4.5 star reads too that didn’t quite get rounded up to five stars! Six of Crows, I’ll Meet You There, My Life Next Door, and Devoted were some that floated between 4.25 – 4.5 stars!
  10. Re-reads: I’ve been doing a lot of re-reads of my favorite books too! Of course I will always give five stars to Anna and the French Kiss, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Cinder.

What have your best reads of 2015 been? Do we share any of the same??

My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) – Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) – Huntley FitzpatrickTitle: My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publishing Info: June 14, 2012 by Penguin
Source: Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 18, 2015

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

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I’m SO happy that I finally read MY LIFE NEXT DOOR! After promising to read it last summer and allowing other plans to come first, I knew I wanted to make the time to read it this year. When I heard about Penguin Teen’s “The Blog Most Likely To…” promo, I knew the time was absolutely perfect to start it and yes, the stars aligned!

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR was actually really different than what I thought it would be — not in a bad way, but I was expecting it to be a light and fluffy contemporary, leaning more towards the feel of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS or ON THE FENCE. Nothing really led me to believe this aside from the cover and blurb but it was a bit hard to shake when I first started reading! I’m really glad I didn’t let my preconceived notions get in the way because this was really a beautiful book. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR is less fluffy and more… I wouldn’t say serious, but I guess realistic. It showed positives and negatives in a more contemplative manner and it was so much more overall than just the romance. (I mean, ANNA and ON THE FENCE handle these things too but… you know what I mean. Just totally different feel.)

I really loved the differences in families in this book. Samantha’s mother is a senator, her family has always been well-off, and her mother is very much about maintaining appearances and status. Her mother is happy to finally have teenagers because as much as she loves her daughters, she’s never been a fan of children. Their neighbors the Garretts are pretty much the opposite in every respect. The family is big, the house is messy, the atmosphere is warm, and everyone is free to be themselves, appearances be damned. It was really interesting to see what Samantha and Jase learned from each other and what their families learned from each other as well. Each family felt so real and true to themselves — even Mrs. Reed with her need for order and tidiness — and I loved how I could witness Samantha and Jase really discovering new things about each other and at the same time, growing themselves.

The romance was also so adorable. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first because I was expecting the book to focus more on the development of the romance and the tension leading up to the two characters being together, but the focus was much different than that. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR reminded me what young love is like but it also gave me glimpses of true and unconditional love (which were not the same for me in my life but what I saw with Sam and Jase). It was so touching to see so many sides of their relationship develop and strengthen and it felt real and raw and true.

The friendships and family dynamics are pretty spectacular too, and not all of them turned out the way I though they would. I was so annoyed with Tim and ended up falling in love with him maybe even more than Jase?) and I really enjoyed watching Samantha’s various degrees of friendships with Jase’s siblings. Not everything was a happy friendship or ended as “best friends forever” but it all felt so real and touched on something that I went through in my life as well. The families felt so real and I really enjoyed that not everything had a Full House finish. Sometimes families are messy too and things don’t always wrap up neatly.

I guess you could say that I had an idea of how MY LIFE NEXT DOOR would go but it really took me by surprise and I’m so happy that it made me feel so many different things! I would have been happy to read this as a stand alone but I’m SO excited that it has a companion now and I can’t wait to read THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

my life next door gr updates

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Samantha // Character Obsessions: The Garretts, first love, friendship, honor.
I really loved watching Samantha grow throughout this book. She really always stood by what she believed in and really that’s quite a powerful thing, especially when she has to stand up to her own mother.
Jase // Character Obsessions: Family, hard work, money, trust.
Jase was definitely sweet and I can see why everyone fell I love with him! His relationship with Samantha reminded me a lot of my relationship with my husband in ways so naturally I found him quite endearing! He was a good boy so not totally my book boyfriend type but just so darn sweet that how can you not love him?

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Kept Me Hooked On: Summer Reads. I don’t usually read specific books in a specific season (except for Halloween for some reason) but this was just such a great summer read for summertime! I’m so glad I read it “in season”!
Left Me Wanting More: Tim! Everyone loves Jase but I grew to love Tim. I think because he had a darker side and Jase was maybe a bit TOO good for me… But that makes me even more excited to read THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was lovely and I couldn’t put it down towards the end! A very solid, realistic contemporary romance.

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BOOKS LIKE MY LIFE NEXT DOOR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL     EMMY & OLIVER

The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) – Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) – Patrick RothfussTitle: The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
Publishing Info: March 1, 2011 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 12, 2015

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trehon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man's Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King's Road.
All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived...until Kvothe.
In The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

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I fell in love with THE NAME OF THE WIND earlier this year and quickly fell down the rabbit hole that is this fandom and I am totally okay with not surfacing any time soon. I knew I wanted to inhale THE WISE MAN’S FEAR shortly thereafter but knew the wait for the third book would be excruciating… but decided to forge ahead anyway!

THE WISE MAN’S FEAR pulled me even deeper into Kvothe’s story and I’ve gotta say, these characters are just amazing. I said it in my review for THE NAME OF THE WIND too but Patrick Rothfuss is so amazing at getting the reader invested in a character. I quickly grew to care deeply for Kvothe and the story that he’s telling makes me extremely uneasy because we keep popping back to the “present day” story where Kvothe has ended up  (unknown how to the reader still) and is (no spoilers — this is literally how the first chapter of the first book ends) waiting to die. So… this still hasn’t changed yet? Kvothe isn’t magically going to live now? This is the conundrum I feel with Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (also not a spoiler — it’s the first chapters as well). I’m so invested in these characters and the author tells the reader up front that X character WILL die. And despite it all, I still try to believe things will be okay. I’m a constant emotional wreck.

Listening to Kvothe has made me believe that he can get himself out of anything — even the most terrible situation, although he may not come out unscathed — so I have hope for the future and yet I know that Patrick Rothfuss will still destroy us. Any which way you slice it, I’ve really enjoyed listening to Kvothe’s story and I just love his narration as well (he is Edema Ruh, so naturally). I will say that I thought the story flowed a bit better in THE NAME OF THE WIND than in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, though. I was wanted about Felurian and while I didn’t severely dislike her, she still was far from likeable for me and the section of Kvothe’s story with Felurian did feel like it started to drag after a while. It definitely had its importance (like, a reall, really big thing happened) and I wasn’t really bothered by it (though Felurian herself is a bit much to handle sometimes. It’s the “child-like” aspects. True immaturity really gets me), I did think it carried on too long and could have been condense. I think I also liked the story line of THE NAME OF THE WIND a bit more because it felt a bit more localized. It took place mostly at the University (once Kvothe arrived) but Kvothe actually has a few travels throughout THE WISE MAN’S FEAR. I did like exploring this world a bit more but sometimes I’m not ready for that leap from the setting I’ve grown to know and love!

There’s too much of this book to get into the plot bit by bit but really just love how everything comes together. I still love that there are so many things that we DON’T know and how much we discover in each book. The world is so solid and alive and cohesive that it makes me wish I could just jump right in and yet there’s still so much to discover about Kvothe, his life, and how he ended up at the inn, waiting to die. (Honestly. My heart drops having to keep saying that.)

These books are truly wonderful and I love the time I’ve spent with them so far! I hope no one minds how into this fandom I am now (since I’m a late-comer) but I am so incredibly invested in this story and these characters! Now the hardest part will be waiting for the next book…

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

wmf gr updates

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Kvothe // Character Obsessions: Learning, music, debts, Denna, knowledge, the Chandrian.
I feel dangerous just writing about the Chandrian! Honestly, this book really gets into you. It feels so real! Anyway. I just love Kvothe. So much. He’s far from perfect but I love his wit and brains and humor. I’m utterly invested, especially after two books!
Elodin // Character Obsessions: Naming, confidence, himself, unconventional ways.
Elodin has really creeped up on my character radar in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR! His teaching methods are totally and utterly insane… until Kvothe finally realizes (at a completely random moment) what exactly he was getting at and that light bulb moment was so cool! Elodin is also kind of awesome and totally weird but he’s quickly becoming a favorite!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult fantasy. I’ve really been getting into adult fantasy lately — though this is almost kind of a crossover since we get a lot of Kvothe’s adolescent life — and these books do not disappoint. I’m ready to gobble up any amazing fantasy anytime!
Left Me Wanting More: Of the University. I really enjoyed exploring more places and legends of this world but I just LOVE the time at the University and Kvothe’s friendships there!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT

Yes yes yes. Read this book. Read this series. Inhale them like I did!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE WISE MAN’S FEAR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA     THE STORYSPINNER

Book and a Beverage Author Edition | Jessica Spotswood

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

It’s been a while since I’ve hosted an author edition of Book and a Beverage but I am SO excited to be getting back into the swing of things! I had an overwhelmingly wonderful response from authors who were interested in participating so keep an eye out for even more author posts within the next few months!

Give a big welcome to author JESSICA SPOTSWOOD!

author

Name: Jessica Spotswood
You know her best as the author of… The Cahill Witch Chronicles: BORN WICKED (1/25/12), STAR CURSED (6/18/13), and SISTERS’ FATE (8/14/14)

        

BORN WICKED: Amazon // Goodreads
STAR CURSED: Amazon // Goodreads
SISTERS’ FATE: Amazon // Goodreads

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READING

What are you reading? FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe.
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? Sophie jessica spotswood baabis bisexual and a drug addict, and when her best friend Mina is murdered everyone thinks it’s because of a drug deal gone wrong and blames Sophie. But Sophie knows that she’s clean and she is determined to stay that way – and find Mina’s killer. I’d absolutely recommend it; Sophie is a really intriguing, flawed, smart protagonist and the pacing is wonderful.
What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? I don’t know if I can pick my top 3 of all time, but my favorite so far this year have been Courtney SummersALL THE RAGE (an important, infuriating indictment of rape culture); Nova Ren Suma’s THE WALLS AROUND US (creepy-gorgeous and a master class in voice); and Erin Bowman’s VENGEANCE ROAD (a Western revenge story that I loved so much I blurbed).

WRITING

What can you tell us about your current work in progress? I just finished drafting my first contemporary YA, WILD SWANS, which will be out next April! It’s about a girl named Ivy whose mother – who abandoned her when she was two – comes back home with the two half-sisters Ivy’s never met. There’s also a romance with a biracial tattooed poet. (What can I say? I love bookish boys.)
Are you a pantser or a plotter? I like to outline a few chapters ahead, but I love when characters surprise me, and most of the time when I get really stuck, I wind up realizing that it’s because I’m trying to stick to the outline instead of following my characters.
Do you have a favorite spot to read/write? I love reading in bubble baths (Lush bath bombs & bubblers are my favorite) or in bed before sleep. I write either on my loveseat in my office, or at a nearby coffee shop.

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What are you drinking? Iced tea
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading/writing? In the summer – iced tea; in the winter – hot tea

thoughtprovoking

If you had one subplot or minor character that could go off on its own tangent, who or what would it be? I’d love to write a short story about Cate’s best friend and roommate, Rilla. Rilla’s bouncy and chatty and big-hearted. She gets her own love interest in SISTERS’ FATE – patronizing newspaperman Alistair Merriweather – and their banter kept threatening to take over scenes. It would be hugely fun to write about Rilla as a girl reporter getting into scrapes and arguing with Merriweather!
What type of scene is your favorite to write? Kissing scenes! But terrible heartbreaking scenes that will make people cry are my next favorite. I’m a contradiction.


 A big thank you to Jessica Spotswood for taking part in Book and a Beverage today! I love her Cahill Witch Chronicles books and I’m so excited for a new YA contemporary next year!
I also REALLY need to read Far From You soon! I’ve heard such good things about it and it sounds so interesting!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

jessica spotswood author photoJessica Spotswood is a full time author who lives in Washington, DC with her husband Stephen and a very cuddly cat named Monkey. Visit Jessica online at jessicaspotswood.com or on Twitter at @Jessica_shea.

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