Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Book Loot (34)

Welcome to the first book haul post of 2019, in which I spotlight books that I accumulated back in 2018, lol. I feel like "book hoarding" is more accurate here because while I'm still not reading very much, I'm continuing to buy books. XD

Most of these were highly anticipated 2018 releases that I had pre-ordered. I also received this nifty Mr. Darcy mug as a gift. One can never have enough book-related mugs, I say!


A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
The Disasters by M.K. England
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Sadie by Courtney Summers

Have you read any of these or are planning to read them?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
All the Crooked Saints
By Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Pilgrims flock to Bicho Raro, Colorado, home of the Soria family, in search of a miracle. While the Sorias can perform miracles, they are forbidden from helping the pilgrims permanently banish their darkness, lest the Sorias bring the darkness onto themselves. Cousins Beatriz, Daniel, and Joaquin know this rule as well as any Soria, but when Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, finds himself battling the very thing all the Sorias fear, it’s up to Beatriz and Joaquin to find a way to save their beloved cousin.

Review: Soooo, according to Goodreads, I began reading All the Crooked Saints on July 31, 2018, and finished it on December 9, 2018. And this review is posting in January of 2019. Yikes!

So, what happened here? I did read a few self-help books for work during that stretch but . . . what happened here?! Maggie Stiefvater is one of my all-time favorite authors!

Looking back at how long it took me to read All the Crooked Saints, I’d say that 90% of it taking forever was due to life and necessary adulting usurping reading time. The remaining 10% was due to just not finding my groove with this book. There was nothing really concrete that I disliked about it. Stiefvater’s prose is as beautiful as ever, and once again, she has assembled a cast of finely crafted characters. I think my struggle here was the same as it was with another Stiefvater standalone, The Scorpio Races. Both novels moved very slowly for me, and I found it challenging to get invested.

I did manage to find more investment in All the Crooked Saints than I did in The Scorpio Races thanks to the compelling backstories of the members of the Soria family and the miracle-seeking pilgrims who still haven’t left the Sorias’ home in Bicho Raro, Colorado. I also loved the contagious charisma of Diablo Diablo, AKA Joaquin Soria, pirate radio DJ extraordinaire, and the role that his rogue broadcast, engineered by Joaquin’s clever cousin, Beatriz, played throughout the novel.

The last 70 pages really picked up for me, and when, after reading this book in fits and starts for about four months, I reached the last page, I realized that I’d quite enjoyed the book. Maggie Stiefvater is brilliant at threading magic through reality. Pilgrims with coyote heads or nonstop rain falling over them are entirely the norm in Bicho Raro.

My rating does reflect the difficulty I encountered with the book’s overall pacing, but the strong finish left an impression deep enough to bump the rating up by another half star. No ravens or quests to find sleeping kings to be found in this one, but there are owls and an atmosphere infused with magic that makes Bicho Raro much more than just a setting for a story about saints and pilgrims.

All in All: Although it took me quite a while to get into All the Crooked Saints, it ended up being the type of read that grew on me the more I thought about it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Reading and Blogging Resolutions for 2019

Happy New Year! All right, 2019: let's do this!

Yesterday I started writing a post to look back at 2018, but since it was another meh year for me reading and blogging, I just wasn't feeling it and scrapped the post. Not dwelling on what I didn't accomplish last year and instead making a fresh start for 2019 seemed like a better idea.

My overall goal for 2019 is to keep my goals simple, lol. As in not make them so ridiculously unreachable that I'm just going to end up a soggy mess of tears at the end of the year, sobbing over all that I failed to accomplish. XD So on that note:

  • Read 25 books. This was my number for last year's Goodreads challenge. I only made it to 17, same as 2017. If I can read just 2 books a month and squeeze 1 more in at some point during the year, it's totally doable.
  • Scheduled blogging time. Blogging was practically nonexistent on my radar last year because I let it be that way. I've been reading Ryder Carroll's The Bullet Journal Method, and it's been an eye-opener as far as thinking about how I manage, or more accurately, don't manage, my time. I'm switching over to bullet journaling for 2019 from the Passion Planner, and regular, consistent blogging time is a priority task for this year.
  • Move to WordPress/new blog design. I've wanted to move to WordPress for literally years now, lol, and I'm at the point where I realize this is one of those "just do it even though you have no idea what you're doing" type of things. So if you stop by the blog one day and it's acting all wonky, it probably means I finally took the WordPress plunge.

I hope everyone has an incredible 2019! Good luck with all of your reading/blogging challenges!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2019 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge

It's been a while since I attempted a reading challenge besides the yearly Goodreads one, but after thinking about how many books are piling up on my shelves and Kindle, I'm giving Novel Knight's Beat the Backlist challenge a go!

There are so many books that I wanted to read in 2018 but didn't get to, so this challenge is the perfect motivation for me to get those titles read in 2019! Here are some of the books that I'm planning to read for the challenge:

I'm also taking part in the Hogwarts mini challenge and will be trying to earn points for Ravenclaw!

If you've read any of these books, what did you think? Are you doing any reading challenges for 2019?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Adventures at YALLFest 2018

Yep, YALLFest was in November and this recap is posting in December, but that's been the story of my life this year—way behind on everything.

This was our fourth trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and every year just gets better. I'm going to get a little nostalgic here. It's crazy to think how much our lives have changed since Ally, Melissa, and I attended our first festival back in 2015. We adult, or at least attempt to adult, a lot more now, but no matter how hectic our schedules get, it's understood that we're going to YALLFest in November. Together. End nostalgia trip.

Our journey began once again in the rather early hours of the morning. By 3:30AM, we had our first cups of coffee of the day in hand and were ready to hit the road. Even the drive from Florida to South Carolina feels shorter every year, and a couple of hours later, we arrived at the Charleston Visitor's Center.

While the big day of author signings and panels takes place on Saturday, Friday's YALLCrawl also features some signings and events. I was excited to see that Jenny Han would be there on Friday so I could hopefully get my copy of To All the Boys I've Loved Before signed. I was lucky I got in line early because the signing was limited to about 100 people. Jenny Han was so sweet, and I got my book signed—yay!

While I waited in line, Ally and Melissa headed off to Megan Shepherd's signing. Afterwards we met back up and checked out Underlined's pop-up shop. I finally scored one of their Book Nerd shirts that I'd seen around the Interwebz. We then decided on both an early dinner and an early bedtime so we could rest up for Saturday's super packed schedule.

Having to work with too many Excel spreadsheets at any given time at work, I very, very geekily came up with the notion of creating—you guessed it—a spreadsheet of Saturday's events so we could prioritize. My cousins mocked my nerdiness, but that didn't stop them from referring to the spreadsheet throughout the day. I spotted other festival attendees carrying spreadsheets around as well, which I smugly mentioned to Ally and Melissa.

Fueled by bagels and coffee (we are still very much New Yorkers at heart!), the three of us were standing in front of the Charleston Museum, site of several publisher booths and author signings, by 7:30AM. And various lines were already forming. Ally and I dutifully joined the queue to secure wristbands for the Shadowhunter Army giveaway event later in the afternoon, where we received these goodies:

The festivities fully launched at 9AM, and from there, the remainder of the day consisted of a nonstop flurry of hustling from line to line. Besides the Shadowhunter event, my other musts were the Alexandra Bracken signing and the poster giveaway promoting the upcoming The Rise of Kyoshi, set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Here is the poster, featuring the absolutely GORGEOUS cover art:

Ally and I have gotten books signed by Alexandra Bracken at every YALLFest we've attended, and so we had to keep up our annual tradition, lol. I love that my copy of The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy now says, "Use the Force, Lee!" It's just perfect for this Star Wars fangirl!

By the time everything came to a close around 5PM, we were both exhausted and exhilarated, and most definitely ravenous. A Five Guys cheeseburger never tasted so savory. After inhaling our meal, we retired to the hotel sated and happy with all of our new bookish memories.

And so another YALLFest was . . . on the books. :D I'm looking forward to reading these goodies that I picked up:

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Once a King by Erin Summerill
Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward
The Graces by Laure Eve
Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier
Spark by Sarah Beth Durst
Amelia Westlake Was Never Here by Erin Gough
Quarantine: A Love Story by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Waiting for Fitz by Spencer Hyde
Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury
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