Happy New Year! | Goals & Stuff

Happy New Year, peeps!

I can’t believe it’s already the new year. 2018 FLEW by, and I bet 2019 is going to go even faster. Oh joy.

But with a new year comes new year’s resolutions and promises that you won’t keep (maybe lol), so here’s my list of goals that I hope to achieve this upcoming year:

Reading & Blog Goals

  • Read one book per week. That’s 52 books for the year, which is entirely doable for me considering I’ve read 50 books in the past. This includes manga and comics, just so we’re clear.
  • Have half of those books be ones that are already on my shelves. Look, I recently did a large unhaul of unread books that had been sitting on my shelf gathering dust because I knew I wasn’t going to read them and I’d rather them go somewhere I know they’ll be well loved, so this year I want to focus on reading at least 25 books that are already currently on my shelves. Doable. Achievable. Awesome.
  • Post twice a week on my blog. I’ve already been doing this as I wanted to start the habit before the new year, but I’m going to try to post on Mondays (reviews) and Thursdays (chats/discussions/fun things). So far it’s been working, so that’s good. So that’ll be 104 posts for the year. Again: doable.

Personal Goals

  • Reach level two Japanese by the end of June. So I’ve been trying to learn Japanese for a while but I really suck at studying, so I’m going to try to make it my mission to study daily and reach level two on the app I use by the end of June. Again: doable. This also includes reviewing and practicing and all that jazz.
  • Lose at least ten pounds by the end of June. I’m not going to set the bar too high for weight loss goals. This one is entirely doable, and I’ve been working on it more this past month that I have in the past. Let’s hope for some good results!
  • Find work that’s more suited to me. This one is one I’ve been working towards, but I don’t know how it’ll go yet, so I’m going to keep this one kind of vague lol, but I do hope to find a job either in my field, teaching abroad, or something entirely different.
  • Finish the first draft of my book by the end of June. I have a lot I want to get done by midyear lol, but I really want to finish just the very rough first draft of the novel I’ve been trying to work on.
  • Work toward a better well-being and state of mind. It’s been a rough couple of years, friends, and I just want to get to a place of joy. This one is ongoing, though, so it’ll be for a lifetime.

I think that’s it for my goals. They’re all attainable, all doable, and I think that’s the best part of this whole thing.

Let’s chat!

What are some of your goals for this year? What are some of the things you achieved last year, but still want to continue into this year? Let me know in the comments!

2018 End of Year Survey

It’s that time of year again, folks, where I review what I’ve read this past year and talk about it with you. This survey was created by the lovely Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner, so you should definitely go check her out.

**2018 READING STATS**

 

Number Of Books You Read:
Number of Re-Reads:
Genre You Read The Most From: Fan fiction

 

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

gemina

This whole trilogy was AMAZING, but of the last two books in the trilogy that I read this year, Gemina was definitely my favorite. You can check out my review here!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Maybe the Vox Machina Origin comic books? I haven’t watched a lot of the first campaign which I know the books are based off of those characters, but I was expecting something… different? They’re still good, just not as good as I was expecting.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

ruinandrising

Probably Ruin and Rising – and in a good way. It’s been a couple of years since I read book two, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into it, but I really enjoyed it and thought it made for a great wrap up kind of book.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Not a book, but a fan fiction by Tharros called “Two Black Dots.” It’s an awesome fanfic about Bakugou Katsuki and Uraraka Ochako, and I highly recommend you check it out.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

Best series: (Fan fiction): Two Black Dots by Tharros

Best sequel: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Best series ender: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Rick Riordan! I’ve never read any of his material before, but I started with Percy Jackson & the Lighting Thief several months ago and really enjoyed it. You can check out my review here!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Well, I didn’t start reading fan fiction until this year, SO I’m going to go with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by Ms_Chunks. It’s another Bakugou/Uraraka fan fic and it’s SO GOOD.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Have I mentioned Gemina and Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff yet? Because those two were AMAZING and I could not put them down.

Check out my Gemina review here and my Obsidio review here!

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I will say probably Bakugou Katsuki is Going to Become a Friendly Guy Even if it Kills Him by piscesroyalty. It’s a comedy/romance fan fiction and I have never laugh out loud so much then when I was reading this.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

obsidio

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Ella Malikova from Gemina. SHE’S AMAZING. Super sassy, doesn’t put up with your crap, and is just a great side character. Seriously loved her.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

falling by isanas is so beautiful. It pulls on your heart and it’s just… oof, so good.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

I really have no idea with this one. I know I’ve had a lot of thoughts on several of the books I read, reflecting on some of the elements of them and how they could be interpreted in real life and such, and I know that on more than one occasion I found myself going, “Wow, that’s amazing,” but I can’t really pinpoint what books those might be.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

thelightningthief

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. SERIOUSLY. I would’ve enjoy this so much as a kid hahaha

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

-Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

Gemina: 659 pages

I’ve read a lot of one-shot fan fics, so I’m going to say those lol Some were under 1000 words.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Have I mentioned the Illuminae Files yet? Because OH MAN DID I HAVE A LOT OF ANIMATED REACTIONS TO THESE BOOKS. Like, I’m not the most animated person when reading. I don’t make a lot of faces or even really laugh aloud at something funny, but these books? Oh man, these books seriously took me on a roller coaster and I know for a fact that Gemina had me gaping at the end of it for a while.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

KACCHAKO. My loves. ❤ (Bakugou Katsuki x Uraraka Ochako)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Nik Malikov and Ella Malikova from the Illuminae Files. They’re cousins, so I just love their dynamic and how they pick on each other, but also would die for the other. It’s great.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

leahontheoffbeat

Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. This was a fun read that I read back in May and I just remember loving Becky’s first book: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so I was not disappointed. Check out my review here!

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Just a looooooot of fan fiction, haha! I got to support my friends’ writings, you know?

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

Both Hanna Donnelly and Nik Malikov from Gemina. *shrug* What can I say? I love me a strong, fierce, sassy, brave woman, and a goofy, gold-hearted, family-oriented bad boy.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

I don’t think I’ve read any debuts this year, so N/A.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I need to stop mentioning the Illuminae Files in this post, but THESE BOOKS ARE LITERAL VISUALS, and the way things are described is just so well done? Like??? Ugh, so good.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Bakugou Katsuki is Going to Become a Friendly Guy Even If It Kills Him by piscesroyalty on AO3. It’s SO funny and SO good, omg, seriously, read it.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

In Hindsight by infantblue. This fanfic CRUSHED me. A bunch of us did live reactions with the author and she was just so overwhelmed by the support she got for this. I literally felt the tears in my eyes, but I didn’t actually cry lol

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Shout out to every fan fic I read because, man, were they a surprise! Seriously, I’ve read so many and I loved a lot.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

obsidio

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

Ooh, I think Eidolon by Grace Draven was the most unique just because of the species in it and such. I mean, I read Radiance last year, but I really thought the concept of a human and a Kai together and how the two would go through life together was super intriguing. The way it was executed was well done.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Uh. I have no idea haha

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

readwithcindy – she’s got such a great personality and such a great level of sass, and I’m glad I found her.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

Fan Fiction Galore & Why You Should Read Some

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

IMG_0970

Here’s my instagram if you want to check it out!

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

I took part in the Biannual Bibliothon this past winter/spring in early 2018, as in, I was one of the blog hosts lol

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

I don’t know, just getting back to it, really. I’ve barely posted at all this year, but it really feels good to be back on my little corner of the internet.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Uh, I didn’t blog lol Barely, anyway. Finding the time and motivation was difficult, but I’m making it more of a priority nowadays and really glad I am.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Biannual Bibliothon Challenge: Rewrite a Favorite Scene

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

None. I’m okay with where everything is.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Bookmarked series on YouTube where Zoe, Hailey, and Hannah have guests and talk about bookish topics.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Well, the past couple of years I’ve been setting my Goodreads reading goal to one book, which has been working out great for me, haha! So that was achieved. That’s pretty much it haha

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

If I haven’t started this book this week, it’s definitely going to be Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir. Like, my husband caught up real fast this year with all three books and has been waiting months for me to read this third book because he wanted to discuss and I just haven’t yet. Whoops lol

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi. But first I need to read Restore Me, which is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. I’ve been following Hafsah on Twitter for years now, and I’m so proud of her debut coming up! I’m definitely going to read it when it’s released.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

Is the final book of the Ember in the Ashes saga going to be published in 2019? If so, that one lol

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

I’m going to be having a 2019 goals post coming out next week, so read about them there!

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

Not applicable haha!

Let’s chat!

Alright my friends, my question to you for the end of this year is: if you could squeeze in just one more read for the end of the year, what would it be and why? Have a wonderful and safe new year!

Ruin and Rising Book Review

ruinandrisingTitle: Ruin and Rising
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #3
Authors: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Square Fish
Publish Date: April 18, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 427
Format: Paperback

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction–and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Okay, so, it’s been a hot minute since I last read the second book in this trilogy, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this third installment – which I did enjoy it! I remember not really liking the first one as much as I had hoped, but the second one was much more enjoyable, and I think that this one was even better than that.

So, as a whole, this book did really well in delivering what was to come that the plot had been leading up to and telling us would happen from page one of the first. There was fighting, loss, exhaustion, hope, and I thought that the characters themselves were doing what they could to just survive, let alone plan and plot to overthrow the Darkling.

Let me say that Alina’s character still annoyed the crap out of me. Like… I don’t know, she was very ready to not trust her friends at the drop of a hat, and I just didn’t get it? This mostly happened at the very beginning of the book in the first few chapters where she had a page of inner monologue with herself about if she should trust them over the man from the white cathedral who was creepy af. I just… didn’t get it. But I was glad that she got over that and actually took initiative a few times and didn’t rely so heavily on others.

But, you know, good things don’t last forever. I mean, I thought she did well for the situations she was in, but sometimes I wanted to slap her upside the head.

Anyway, I really liked the ragtag team of people that they had going and how they worked together through it all. Though not everything went according to plan, everyone did their hardest to keep each other safe.

I was not, however, expecting the betrayal, but when I reflected back I could see signs that would lead up to the person turning them over to the Darkling.

I also was not expecting what happened to Nikolai to actually be happening. Like, when I was reading that whole sequence, I thought it was just a dream. But nope, it was actually happening, and I remember reading it and going, “Oh shit.” Just my mouth was hanging open in disbelief at what was happening.

And Baghra. The more I got to know about her character, the more I grew to like her, and I will say that I think she was one of the best parts of this story.

And then we have the search for the Firebird. I loved the descriptions used to show the reader what the forests looked like, how there was a tale behind why the trees looked the way they did, at why the waterfalls glowed gold, and then the bird itself – it was such a great scene and one of my favorites in the book. I thought the way it was described really captured what exactly the characters were seeing and painted the picture vividly for the reader.

I also was no expecting the reveal of the final amplifier and boy, let me tell you: I was shook. But also not completely surprised? Just… okay, I was surprised, but I think judging by the back story given by Baghra earlier in the book really helped to paint the whole picture. I actually liked this part of the book and I liked how everything from previous tellings were piecing together for the final moment.

Which, speaking of, this was my biggest gripe of this book: the fight scene – the final battle with the Darkling – was incredibly underwhelming at the end. I was super into it throughout the whole thing, at how it was going down, and then… it just ended so simply? Like… it almost felt like a cop-out. I wanted there to be more stress and for Alina to be more distraught, and I just felt like it fell kind of flat there in those moments.

The scenes after were like a nice wrap up and a way to lead the reader to form their own questions and to hope for more story – which we’ll be getting when King of Scars comes out, but still.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. This book was highly enjoyable and I thought that the descriptions of the sceneries were some of the best elements.

And no, I’m not mad about the final pairing; I’m actually glad it happened because I thought they were good for each other.

If you’ve read the first books and liked them, definitely read this one. It provides a nice wrap up to an epic journey and I think you’d really enjoy it.

I rated this book 4.5 stars.

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s the holiday season once again, and I’m coming at you with another gift guide!

Okay, so I haven’t actually done one of these since 2015, but… still!

Here’s the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for bookish and writerly people!

For this guide, I wanted to focus on some of the more practical and everyday things that people can find useful in their lives, so I’ve listed five bookish related and five writerly related items below that I think you (or your favorite bookworm/writer in your life) will enjoy. I’ll include links to the various products for easy browsing!

For the Bookish

  1. Book themed planner/calendar – I actually discovered this planner while I was in Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago. It included spaces at the beginning of each month for books to read and books that you’ve read in that month, and each month talk about famous author birthdays, famous book publishing days, and more. But you can also find a ton of literary themed planners and calendars on etsy!
  2. Candles – Okay, I know some people don’t like them, but a lot of readers find that having a candle lit is not only aesthetic, but also very calming while reading. You can find literary candles all over, but check out Novelly Yours on etsy. They’ve got a lot of great candles in amazing scents.
  3. Totes, art, bedding, & more – Have you heard of Society6 or RedBubble? Well, people can create designs and sell them via this platform, and so there is no shortage of book themed items there. If you’re looking for a tote to carry your books in, or you need new bedding because yours are old and falling apart, check out Evie Seo’s shop for some cool designs! She’s one of my favorite designers, and the products from the companies are really good.
  4. Bookmarks – Let’s be clear: bookworms will never say no to bookmarks. They’re practical, even if they get lost easily, and there’s so many cool designs to choose from. Plus, they’re cheap enough, so why not get your favorite bookworm a few bookmarks? You could even take it a step further and get them a personalized one!
  5. Bamboo book holder – This is for my e-book readers, but say you’re trying to cook or workout or whatever, and you just can’t hold the book? Well, why not check out a bamboo book holder? Being made of bamboo, they’re sturdy and will be able to hold your e-reader perfectly.

For the Writerly

  1. Stationary – You can find TONS of different kinds of stationary online. They come in all sizes and colors, so here’s an example of some of the kinds you can get.
  2. Tombow pens – Okay, if your writer friend is into bullet journaling at all, then these Tombow pens are the way to go. They come in a multitude of colors and are pretty affordable.
  3. Lumbar pillow – Let me tell you, if you have a writer friend then their back is probably in pain. Hours of sitting wherever they’ve plopped to write can really take a toll on the back, so why not gift them a lumbar pillow? They’re these pillow that can hook onto the backs of chairs and provide that extra needed support for the lower back.
  4. Journal – Old school here, but I love getting journals. Even if I don’t use them, just knowing that I have them brings a peace of mind that I can’t explain. Writers appreciate them a lot because it gives us space to write our ideas when nothing else is around us and they can be much like our diaries, but for our stories. There are pocket-sized and regular sized journals to choose from, so pick one you think would best suit them!
  5. A mug – Listen, writers can stay up for hours on end just chugging away at their story, so they’re going to need caffeine (or whatever beverage of choice they want) to keep them going, so why not get them a mug? You can find cool writerly ones like this mug here that says, “I am a writer: anything you say or do may be used in a story.”

Okay, so some of these things are pretty obvious or ones that have been talked about more times in many blogs that I can count, but still: shopping for a bookworm or a writer can be easy if you know what to look for. Just think about what they like or what they need and apply that to your gift giving ideas this year.

Have a happy holiday season!

Let’s chat!

What kinds of gifts do you hope for as a bookworm or writer? Let me know!

Eidolon Book Review

eidolonTitle: Eidolon
Series: The Wraith Kings #2
Authors: Grace Draven
Publisher: Balestra Publishing, LLC
Publish Date: April 18, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 239
Format: Kindle ebook

In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis, unleashes a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by darkness. His human wife Ildiko must decide if he will give up the man she loves in order to save his throne. 

Three kingdoms on the verge of war must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king will raise an army of the dead to challenge an army of the damned. 

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

This sequel was a great follow up to Radiance, picking up right where the first book left off and showing just what kinds of evils can be let into the world by an extremely power hungry, vile woman.

The story continues to follow from Ildiko’s and Brishen’s perspectives, the chapters being told from their perspectives respectfully, showing what each endures emotionally and mentally, as well as physically, throughout the tale. But not only do we get their POVs, we also get a new perspective from Kirigipa, one of the royal nursemaids of Bast-Haradis.

I actually really enjoyed her chapters because it showed a glimpse into the outside world away from Saggara where a majority of the events were taking place between the two main characters. It showed how the determination and duty of those that served the crown were impenetrable, and it showed exactly what kinds of threats lay just beyond the waters.

The story continued to also focus on the relationship between our two main characters and just what kind of strain can be put on them from outsiders – and how one very important question about duty versus love could shake the foundations of a relationship. Though at times I thought they handled it well, I was also frustrated because where they would communicate in the last book, they seemed to be lacking that very this in this one.

I did think that both sides overreacted a bit to the other, because I didn’t read it in the same way that the character would have heard it or reacted to it, so when I read certain reactions that one had in front of the other, I was like, “Why are you being like that? It wasn’t that bad…” But I can also understand where the characters would react in ways that wasn’t like how they were in the first novel because they were stretched thin, extremely exhausted physically and mentally, and they had such a looming threat hovering over everyone’s lives that I guess I can rationalize the reactions on their part.

The plot lead to the big finale, the final battle between the Kai and humans versus the galla – the demons brought forth into the world by Brishen’s mother. And though there were tense and soft moments, when the time finally came for the battle I was…. very underwhelmed. I wanted to see more of the battle, to see more struggle than what I got and frankly, that was the biggest disappointment in this novel.

Besides all of that, though, there was a sense of urgency throughout the novel that lead to the big battle, and afterward, I enjoyed the ending. It ended on a soft note, which I was glad for.

If you read the first book, definitely continue with this one. Though the third book was supposed to already have come out (it hasn’t as of the time I’m writing this), I think that the second book ends on a nice enough note that there’s not really any cliffhangers for me to look for.

I do, however, want a story between Serovek and Anhuset. THAT is something I definitely want to see unfold lol

I gave this sequel four stars and recommend it after the first book, which you can read my thoughts on here.