Leah On the Offbeat Review

leahontheoffbeatTitle: Leah On the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Well, let me tell you: this is the first actual novel I’ve read TO COMPLETION in… months. Many months. I still can’t believe it. It took me around probably six to eight hours to read the thing. And I really enjoyed it!

It was great jumping back into the world of Creekwood and it was great getting a story from Leah’s perspective, while also still seeing Simon and Blue (even though they weren’t the main focus). I loved her voice and how she really talks like a young adult – swearing, sarcasm, tumblr posts. She was such a fun character that really cared not only for her body as a plus sized young woman, but also as a bisexual person. Though she was only out to her mom (which is still awesome that her mom accepted her regardless), it only really start to make things difficult as time progressed in the story.

I found that the romance aspect of the book was done well, though sometimes it did feel like a little hiccup here and there with how it went. I overall thought that it was fairly realistic as to how it turned out, but I kind of wish I got a better feel for the love interest. I understand the strain on the friendship, but it still felt to me like I was missing some of the love interest’s personality.

I also didn’t really get a feel for just how tight knit the friendship between Leah, Anna, and Morgan were, despite it supposedly being so strong in the beginning. Although, if it were my friend, I would be very pissed about the comment that was made, too, but I don’t know if I would continue to be mad even after an apology. I don’t know, that felt rocky at best and I don’t really know how the friendships would have lasted after the end of the book.

Other than that, I felt like it was a fun, light hearted story, with dashes of drama inside. I like how Leah was both proud of her body, but also self conscious, because that really does show the two sides of the coin (as a plus sized woman, myself, I can speak to this very feeling). I think that the book overall was a great read, though I feel like I am missing out on a few threads that weren’t completely tied at the end (I don’t want to ask them here for fear of spoilers).

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, light-hearted story about a teen girl who’s trying to come to terms with her emotions as well as figure out who she is as a person, and the relationships she has around her, then definitely pick up this book! I hope that you’ll like Leah as much as I did.

I rated this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Uncertainty, the Future, & More

Well, hi guys. How’s it going? I’m sorry I haven’t posted in months since the Biannual Bibliothon, but I just wanted to stop by because I think I owe it to my readers to let you guys know what’s going on in my life.

I had decided to stop blogging altogether.

Yup. I had barely any time to blog at all last year and I just wasn’t really in the mood to continue on. I wasn’t keeping up with my pace, the majority of what I read was comics online which are hard to track for reading and reviewing purposes, and I was just dealing with a lot of mental and emotional stress, which I still am.

Let me break it down for you:

  • My mom has early onset dementia. She was diagnosed almost two years ago with it and my husband and I have been living with my parents since. We are… not happy here. Our mental, physical, and emotional well-beings have had such a strain put on them that we find it very hard to enjoy anything that we used to anymore. For me, one of those things is reading physical books. I had no problem reading comics because they’re images and short dialogues, so it was easy to handle for my brain. But actual books? Unless I was hooked it was near impossible.
    • In case you are wondering: some days are better than others for my mom. My dad is handling it in his own way. I am handling it my own way. My husband is, too. Just one day at a time because that’s literally all we can do.
    • The next point will explain this one more as to why we haven’t done this but, my husband and I need to move out. We need a space of our own to be able to make a living for ourselves. It’s very hard to do that here, and now we live almost an hour away from where we work where before we were 10-15 min away. It makes a huge difference.
    • The result of this has made me very tired and unable to bring myself to do anything these days.
  • I’ve been taking an online course to become TEFL certified. This means I’m becoming certified to teach English as a second language. My goal is to teach in South Korea by the end of this year, 2018. I’ve got my six hours of teaching time left of my practicum before I can turn in my paperwork and become officially certified.
    • Now, with this, there’s a whole new level of stress. I would love to teach in the EPIK program in South Korea, which is public school teaching. There’s a ton of great benefits for teachers and all of that, which is great. But, there’s a snag: I can get an E-2 visa for teaching, but my husband, who I would bring with me, would have to get a spousal visa and under said visa he would legally be not allowed to work. That’s fine, whatever. Contracts are usually for a year anyway unless I like it there and want to stay longer and maybe he can get a different visa, I don’t know.
    • Anyway, this is its own headache. The fact that I’d have a dependent lessens my chances of being hired. It doesn’t mean I won’t be – there’s still a potential that I will be – but it still makes it harder, and then I don’t know that I’d qualify for all of the benefits. So. Yeah.
    • I am trying my best to be optimistic, but the closer I get to completing my certificate and actually applying to the recruiter, the more nervous and worried I get.
  • I tried to focus on art last year, which was great! I was creating a lot, but it kind of… faded away the last few months. I’m finding that I get frustrated in the sketch stage, even when I know it’ll be better later on. Oh well. I’ll work on that.
  • I still would love to be a published author and share my stories with the world, but… *sigh* the book and publishing world have been on FIRE lately and now everything is just very intimidating. If I don’t include enough of this I’m a bad person, if I include too much of that I’m a bad author, like… it’s so intimidating nowadays. I think it’s great, 10000000% amazing, that people are fighting to be seen and heard in their stories. But if I am comfortable writing my characters the way they appear in my head, and that offends someone, then I end up the bad guy? I don’t know, guys, it’s just so scary now. I know I shouldn’t look at it that way, but that’s just how my mind perceives it.

So yeah, those have been some of the big stressors in my life and it’s just been one shit year, let me tell you… Of course there were good times and good things that happened and stuff, but I need to share these things with you.

This brings me to my next point:

I do miss blogging.

Part of me does miss blogging and reading like crazy and diving into these worlds and having these open discussions with people and seeing book hauls and tags and discussions and just the joy that reading once brought, including blogging.

But after last year I had decided that I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I was just going to stop posting and let the views and conversations fade away, because what else could I do? Like I said before: I don’t have the time or energy to be as active as I once was, and I miss doing it.

I miss talking to you guys and sharing thoughts on books and doing reviews, tags, side posts, etc. It was all fun and it was such a big part of my life for the last few years.

I don’t know that I’m going to keep blogging, though.

Like I said: I do and I don’t. I want to share my reviews on books and have discussions and do all of these things again, but with so much uncertainty for my future (and my husband’s), I just don’t know if I can.

I know I can just post whenever I can, even if it’s months from now, but I don’t want you guys to think I’ve fallen off of the grid. When that time comes, I will do a proper goodbye, but for now?

For now, I think I want to keep going.

I haven’t come to a definite conclusion yet, but I do still want to share with you all. I want to read actual novels, not just comics, and dive back into the worlds I loved before. I still have books I need to finish that came out last year that I was anticipating, and books I started the year before that that I need to finish. It’s crazy, really.

So for now… I’m going to stay.

For now, I’ll keep going. Maybe this will spark what I needed back into my life. Maybe this will really help me to see what it is that I was missing. I don’t know, but I hope this helps.

I want to keep a kind of schedule? Maybe that will help me, I’m not sure. So, here’s what I’m thinking:

  • I’ll post once a week on Thursday to start. I have Wednesdays off and it’ll give me a good amount of time to get in some reading and other things to be able to prepare a post for Thursday morning (like what I’m doing now).
  • If I am able to get a flow back into my groove, then I will start to also post on Mondays so it’ll be twice a week. I think that will definitely be doable. If I want to post more in a week, I will. It’s my blog after all, so I can do what I want lol

I’m going to try that for now and see how it works for me.

Thank you all for being so supportive over the years, for reading my content, talking to me, and just being a great community. You’re all amazing and I wish you the best in all that you do.

Biannual Bibliothon Challenge: Rewrite a Favorite Scene

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Hey guys! I’m the host for today’s challenge, so.. welcome! Today’s challenge is to rewrite a favorite scene from any book you love, whether that be a contemporary, a fantasy, a sci-fi, a self-help book, whatever you want!

Here’s what you’re going to do:

-Pick a favorite scene from any book you love, it can be short, long, whatever.
-Choose part of the scene (or the entire thing) that you’re going to rewrite to include something related to MAGIC in it.
-This kind of magic can be magic like in Harry Potter, or elemental magic like Avatar: The Last Airbender, or even surreal magic like The Night Circus.
-For instance, if you love “A Night of Cake & Puppets” by Laini Taylor much like I do, you know that there’s a kind of magic that happens that’s very lovely. I want you to take it a bit further and change up the magic. Does something catch fire? Does the magic intensify? Does it fizzle out and not work? Does one character accidentally send the other flying away from them when they wanted that person closer?
-it’s up to you to decide how magic can play a part in this scene.

I know this is challenging, but that’s kind of the point of a challenge, isn’t it? If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, and remember: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A WHIZ AT WRITING TO DO THIS. I want this to be a fun and creative challenge. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

Alright? So here’s my own version of this challenge! I’m choosing A Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor. The scene is where Mik is playing the violin and everyone is entranced by it. Zuzana is watching him over a wall and their eyes meet. I’m going to incorporate magic into this scene, so here we go (scene is between the two horizontal lines):


Violin. The sweet sound of the strings being played with a bow drifts to my ears, pulling me in the direction of a small square. People are gathered around, watching as Mik plays the violin with such ease, such tenderness that no one can pull their eyes away.

At least, that’s what I see from where I’m standing because I can’t really see over the crowd, what with being so short and all.

I ask a couple to help lift me up toward the wall so I can see him over it, but they don’t hear me. They’re mesmerized by him, by the music. I frown. I want to see him, too!

I look over toward the wall and see a couple of trash barrels against the stone surface. With a grin I run over to the barrels and lift myself up, ignoring the smell permeating from the cans as best as I can. It’s just high enough that I can finally see over the wall.

I freeze. My eyes go wide as I stare at Mik playing the violin.

Golden notes are swirling in the air around him.

They reflect in every eye that is watching, they dance and twirl and spin to the sound of the song being played. It’s not exactly a sad song, but it seems more melancholic, one that pulls at your own heartstrings and makes you feel things you didn’t want to feel in that moment.

Mik’s own eyes are closed as he plays the notes, listening only to the sounds that he plays; he sways slightly to the sound.

I can’t look away.

The notes dancing around him are mesmerizing and beautiful. I want to hold them, want to see how warm they feel against my chilled skin. I want to be able to dance to those notes, to twirl with their endless spinning, to be able to feel the passion that he’s pouring into those notes.

One brave soul takes steps toward those notes to touch them.

It’s a young woman, older than me, but still young. She’s reaching out slowly, one hand clutched to her chest while the other reaches out to the swirling golden notes around Mik. He pauses in his stance, but keeps playing, and looks at her. She pauses and stares back at him as one of the golden notes touches her hand, resting in her palm. I can hear the soft gasps and moans around the square of the people who are watching her.

Jealous of her.

Mik smiles softly, keeping eye contact with the woman long enough to watch as the golden music note turns to golden dust in her hand. She looks away just as he does and looks down at her hand. The golden dust sticks to her and she stares at it, in awe of how lovely it is.

And slowly, it climbs up her arm. She doesn’t look afraid, though, only mesmerized by it. She doesn’t scream, doesn’t do anything. Then her whole body is covered and she looks like an ethereal being. She closes her eyes and sighs, before she dances to the music. She’s beautiful and lithe, her now golden covered skin glowing in the lights from the houses and lamps around the square.

Others begin to wander closer, and when the golden notes floating around Mik touch them, they become covered, too, and begin to dance.

It’s a beautiful sight.

A puppeteer playing his puppets’ strings.

That’s when Mik opens his eyes and he looks at me. Our eyes meet. And the most beautifully soft smile I have ever seen breaks out onto his face.

And I, too, am pulled in like a puppet on strings.


Okay guys, there you have it! My scene with a little bit of incorporated magic! I hope you enjoyed it, but please tell me what you think in the comments!

How’s your readathon going? Mine is… uh. Yeah, haha.

Have a great rest of the readathon and please link me to your posts so I can read the scenes you rewrite! I’ll be picking winners and announcing them February 1st on the Biannual Bibliothon instagram page, so please stay tuned for that!

Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2018

Hello lovely people~ So, fun announcement to make! I’m joining in the Winter Biannual Bibliothon! Not only that, but I’m also one of the blog hosts this round! Very exciting.

bbib2018hosts

Dates of the Readathon: January 20th-26th

My Host Date: Wednesday, January 24th

All information about the challenge I’ll be presenting to you will be posted on midnight January 24th, so you’ll have the full day to go for the challenge and do you best with it!

Here are the lovely hosts that will be participating in this year’s readathon. This year there are the main Booktube hosts, Instagram hosts, as well as blog hosts, so please check them out!

Main Hosts

Emmmabooks | Brittni’s Book Find | Kellys BookSpill | Little Red Reader | The Booktube Girl | Little Book Owl | Dylanthereader5

Instagram Hosts

Brooks_books_ | Readbyrae | readbyamanda | charlottelupin | coffeecocktailsandbooks | bookish.army | the_daily_bookstagram

Blog Hosts

Reader Rayna (me) | Victoria @ Latte Nights |Sam @ Will Read for Booze | Jen @ Fire Whiskey Reader| Cody @ The Bookworm in Me | Gabi @ Be A Bookish Gal | Laura @ Laura’s Literary Letters

Each host will have a different date, so be sure to check out all of the hosts’ pages to see what they’re doing for that day of the week.

So, as I’m a host I definitely want to attempt to take part in the reading challenges – at least what I can. I’m busy taking a class and trying to figure out my life, but I’m going to do my best to participate!

Check out the Reading Challenges Video for more information, but here are the reading challenges:

READING CHALLENGES:
1. Read the group book: OTHERWORLD by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller
2. Read a sequel
3. Read a book you’ve never heard of before
4. Read a book about mental illness
5. Read a book that was mentioned in another book/movie/show etc.
6. Read a book under 200 pages
7. Read a backlist title

You can double up on challenges (i.e. read a book that’s 200 pages and about mental illness), but you cannot triple up on challenges.

TBR

  • Eidolon by Grace Draven – a sequel and a backlist title (was published in 2016).
  • The Space Between Stars by Anne Corlett – a book I’ve never heard of before (I just got the book on Jan. 6th)
  • Saga, vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan – under 200 pages

That’s all I’m going to put down just because I know that I don’t have much energy to do things outside of my norm lately so I’m just going to aim to read these two books for the challenges. If I finish one of these books before the readathon, then I’ll just update this post with a new selection.

I hope you’re all excited and will participating this round! Check out Biannual Bibliothon’s twitter for fun things!

Mid-Series Cover Changes

Let’s talk about this topic that every bookworm ever either hates or doesn’t mind.

I mainly want to talk about this because of the recent blow up over Renee Ahdieh‘s duology of Flame in the Mist because it’s getting a mid-series cover change to have covers with people on it. Of course a huge part of the discussion was because it was a POC that was added to it, but… I honestly don’t know how to respond to that other than the book is literally a retelling of Mulan. A Chinese woman. A person of color. What else is she supposed to look like, a fish? (Also, yes I’m aware that this is based in Japanese culture, but I’m just saying.)

Anyway.

Okay, first of all let’s discuss these covers aesthetically speaking.

In my 100% honest opinion? I really like these covers. Not only do they feature a female POC who (I believe) is the main character of the story (I haven’t read it yet), but the colors and details around the cover are very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The cherry blossoms around the edges are representative of east Asian culture, which this story is inspired by. And then the twin dragons on the second cover in the shape of a heart? Dragons are also a large part of east Asian cultures.

But again, I want to state that I have NOT YET read the first book in this duology. I do not know the significance of the dragons, but I am assuming it has to do with a love interest in the story.

I also want to state that I don’t know the whole story as to the backlash that these particular covers are getting because I haven’t been very up to date with book Twitter lately (which is largely where I get my bookish news), so I apologize in advance for that.

My one caveat with the cover is her expression that she uses. I get she’s supposed to be all serious and stuff, but I kind of wish there was a different expression on each cover, which could bring more life to it. Other than that, I’m fine with it.

I would also like to point out that I am very glad that they’re changing BOTH covers of the duology SO THEY MATCH. That doesn’t happen often with mid-series changes. It could also be for the release of the paperback, I’m sure.

Now let’s discuss cover changes.

I think a large part of the backlash for these covers above is because of the face added and a lot of people – including myself – generally don’t like people on the covers of our books unless it’s significant to the book itself. I mostly say this because I personally find that when people are on the cover they look cheesy as hell and it just kind of makes me cringe. But I can look past that if 1) the synopsis captures my attention, and 2) if I enjoy the book when I read it.

That being said, cover changes mid-series is a very frustrating thing for many readers. The main reason is because, with a cover change, the new cover won’t match the aesthetic of the original cover and therefore can make it look less aesthetically pleasing to the eye when looking at it on a shelf or for pictures or what have you. There have been many examples of this exact thing happening over time and now with social media being such a huge thing in the everyday lives of many people, it’s very easy to understand why people are so vocal about it.

One example I can think about is the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. The last book in this series had a cover change when it was being released in hardcover and thus didn’t match the same aesthetic as the other two books in the trilogy. And I have to say: I am not a fan of the change. It’s clunky. It’s very ridged, with many defined edges and just a look that isn’t very… nice.

As you can see, the first two covers are highly aesthetically pleasing. At least to me they are. The first two covers tell me a bit about what the story is about (and no, I haven’t read them yet but they’re definitely on my TBR as my husband has read them and loved them). They tell me that they’re about two teens, a boy and a girl, who are most likely facing dangerous circumstances and manage to find love among it all. It probably has some type of harrowing journey along with it, too. But the Shade of Earth cover? Yes, while it is aesthetically pleasing in its own right, it is just very… different from the original two. This one tells me that it’s like the Earth is trying to break through what mankind made. (Who knows? Maybe I’m right?)

Eventually the first two covers were remade to match the third cover. (And yes, the first book did have a cover change BEFORE matching it with the third cover, and that cover was… okay.)

But that is just one of the frustrating things about mid-series cover changes. My main question, especially with the example above, is: Why do you have to change to flow of the covers like that, especially when its the last book in the series?

Now I’ve seen many authors over the last couple of years talk about this very issue. They don’t have control over their covers. 99% of them don’t have control, especially in traditional publishing. So when mid-series cover changes happen it’s because the company or marketing department of that company thinks that it will be appealing to more readers to change the covers now to boost book sales.

Sometimes the books are selling very well, though, even without the cover change. Sometimes book sales drop after the cover change. It really all depends and no one can really determine what may or may not happen when this change does happen.

With that said, though, I’m not talking about when standalones get cover changes or when an entire series gets multiple cover changes over time because that’s an entirely different subject matter. (For example, the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo just got new covers and btw they’re gorgeousssss~)

Like this? This is fine. The original trilogy with the original covers were all released and have the same very aesthetically pleasing style, which is great! And to now have the trilogy repackaged in equally stunning covers is just simply breathtaking. As the books were already released and received a lot of love, this kind of change only fuels readers to want to buy these versions of the books for collectability purposes if they already own the books with the original covers.

But when covers are suddenly changed mid-series, it can be very disheartening for readers who love to decorate or show off their shelves. Some readers don’t care either way because they want the book to have the book and continue reading the series – which is totally fine!

And then you also get books that are different sizes when as they continue along in a series. Like, why? What purpose does that serve? Why are you keeping the cover aesthetic but now changing the size? When they’re on a shelf they’re no longer even and THAT can drive readers mad.

I think that mid-series cover changes can help some book sales, though. Sometimes a cover change can make a difference and a new cover design can be a good thing. Honestly, it really depends on personal preference.

Let’s Chat! ^w^

Tell me what you guys think of cover changes mid-series. Do you mind? Do you hate them? What’s one example of a GOOD mid-series cover change? What’s your least favorite mid-series cover change? Let’s talk about it!