Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reading is Better With Cupcakes Year End Wrap Up *2016*

Oh geez!  The year is finally over!  FINALLY!

Personally, this year wasn't too eventful, which is a good thing I guess.  I mean things happened...I lost some friends, I gained some friends.  I lost myself a little, I found myself a little...  Really it was probably a fairly middle ground sort of year, which I guess is okay.  I could have been worse, but it also could have been better...

In regards to blogging, I actually think I had a good calendar year!  My blog is right around 1.5 years old and I think it is going strong.  I have started to build some relationships with publishers and authors - which I am super thankful for.  I mean, as you know, I really like spreading the love of books to those around me, and these relationships are definitely helping me to accomplish this.  I don't think I posted as often as I did originally every month, but I am still posting multiple times a month...the child likes to make me not be on the computer as often now so I get things done when I can.

And then, when it comes to spreading book love in my more immediate community, I have been trying to be more active there as well.  Obviously this was easier when I had been a bookseller, but I have found a way.  A small way, but still a way.  There is a subgroup of people in my town that have been pushing for Little Free Libraries, and while I cannot have one myself (association and hubby are my roadblocks) I have been donating my books to the ones that do exist.  I have managed to donate to two different libraries so far...very very large boxes of books!  Hopefully I can get two more of these nice sizable book donations done in this coming year to 2 more LFLs!  I am always accepting donations to give to these libraries...please feel free to contact me if you would like to donate to them.  Our community really needs young adult and middle grade books!  The libraries go through the ones they do get super quick! last years goals...yeah...I sucked at most of them.  But I tried!

Here is what they were:

  1. 150 books - Well I managed to reach 135...which is not bad at all really.  I almost got there!  
  2. Do atleast 1 reread a month - I got through 9 (thanks to audiobooks) which is actually a lot better than I have done in the past with rereads, but it is still 3 books short :(
  3. Read at least 1 indy/self published book a month - This one I did pretty bad with.  I think I only read about 5 or 6 of these...definitely no where near the 12 that were my goal.
  4. Read 1 back list title a month - This one I surprisingly didn't do that poorly on (depending on your definition of what makes a backlist title!) and read about 15ish or so of these!
  5. Read 1 classic - I think I got one of these in.  I am counting The Hatchet as a classic dangit!
  6. Read 1 biography/memoir - I kind of sort of read 1 of these.  It was technically a fictional story based off of his real life.  They played fast and loose with some bits for reasons explained after the story ended.
  7. Up my Netgalley percentage to at least 50% - HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I don't know if it went up at all.  It might have gone down!
  8. To keep up the love of reading and to share my book love with others. - This one is a constant work in progress.  Hopefully in this next year I can think up a few more ways to spread the love.  Maybe I just need to randomly give books to more people than I did this year!  But please, if you have ideas on how I can do more of this please let me know them!

So I guess that leads me to what my bookish goals for 2017 are going to be....  So here they are:
  1. 75 books read
  2. At least 1 reread a month (audio or actual reading)
  3. 1 classic
  4. 1 biography/memoir
  5. 1 discussiony post at least on the blog a month
  6. To read more diversely - more books by POC, books with POC main characters, more Own Voices titles, more books with LGBTQIA main characters, etc etc etc
  7. Post more bookish photos onto IG more regularly
  8. To continue to spread the bookish love with people around me and people far away
I am sure over time I will come up with more specific things I want to accomplish as far as reading and spreading the love of books goes.  Maybe I will try to do more specific challenges as they pop up - for example, I know I will be participating in ARCAugust if it happens again next year.

And now that we have gotten my goals out of the way I want to share with you some of my favorite books that I read from this past year!  And some how I didn't really read any romance this past year, and what I did read was just that is why there is no YA romance category!

Picture Book

Middle Grade

Young Adult Science Fiction

Young Adult Fantasy

Young Adult Fiction



Adult Coloring Book

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Release Day Blitz: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: December 27, 2016

When I was given the opportunity to participate in the release day blitz for Thirteen Reasons Why, I knew I couldn't pass up on the chance to help showcase this amazing book.  It has been a while since I read it and I really do need to revisit it.  However, when I did originally read it, I DEVOURED it.  I couldn't put it down until it was done.

It was that good.

Thirteen Reasons Why isn't an easy read by any means though.  It is on a very very tough topic, but a topic that really needs more discussion than it gets.  Suicide.  Teen suicide.

And what I loved the most about this book is that it talked about teen suicide and showed us how it is important to be aware.  And even though the premise of the book is that the girl who committed suicide has sent the "13 reasons why" some tapes that "explain" why she committed suicide, it still does not make suicide sound like it is okay.

This book will teach those who read it a lot as long as they are willing to listen.

And here it is 10 years later!  It is still as important, if not more so, than when it was released and they have given it such a beautiful cover to commemorate it and they have given us a bit more content than it had originally.  

Really, if you haven't read it yet, you need to.  If it's been awhile, I suggest considering rereading.  Share this story with others in your life, especially teens.

Just read and listen to what this story has to tell you!  You will be happy and that much better for doing so!

The new content includes:

  • An introduction from its award-winning author, Jay Asher;
  • The until-now-secret alternate ending for Hannah and Clay that almost was;
  • Early notes and ideas of how the story came to be
  • Deleted scenes
  • And more!
Enter to win a copy!

Enter for a chance to win one of five (5) hardcover copies of the 10th Anniversary Edition of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (ARV: $18.99).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on December 27, 2016 and 12:00 AM on December 28, 2016.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about January 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source: Trade

I had been holding onto this book for a good while before I finally managed to pick it up and get it read.  So what made me finally get to the point that I was ready to pick it up and read it?  Mostly it was because this was someone else's unicorn of an ARC and I wanted to get it to her (I had gotten it in a trade myself), but also it was because I had kept hearing about this book.

I kept hearing about it on Twitter.  I kept seeing it make an appearance on Instagram.

It just kept popping up all over the place.

So, naturally, I had to pick it up and see for myself why this book kept being talked about and mentioned and photographed and all that jazz.

Like normal, I had no idea really what it was about.  I just knew that people liked it a lot.

The book, it turns out, is about a princess who doesn't want to be forced into marriage by her father.  So what does she do?  She runs away right before her marriage.  She doesn't go alone though.  Her best friend (who also just happens to be a servant girl in her castle like home!) goes with her.  They run to a port side town where they hope they will be able to go unnoticed by those around them and live the rest of their days all happy like and free from the pressures of what others want of them.

Too bad our princess was followed.  Not by one, but by 2 men.  One wants to do her harm, the other wants to take her back.

The fun part is...which one is which?  The author doesn't tell us!  We are left guessing and wondering throughout the majority of the book which guy is actually which!

So clever.  So evil.

I mean, seriously, what if I choose the wrong guy?  The pressure of it all!  But it is pretty cool and I wasn't expecting to be in the middle of a giant guessing game of who is who, so mad props for that.

What I wanted more of though?  I wanted more magic.  The magic that is in this book felt more like it was only a hint of it.  Just barely there.  Not really touched or used and I wanted to see more.  Lots more.  I like magic.  If the world has magic in it, I want to see it.  I don't want it to be under done and disappointing...but maybe in book 2 we will get more of the magic?

I did appreciate that we were given a strong heroine that doesn't want to be pushed around by those around her.  I hate when we have female characters that just do what everyone around them tells them to do or just sit in a corner freaking out because without the guidance of others they have no idea what they should do in any given situation.  Do I use a fork or a spoon?!?!?!  Someone please tell me!!!  Ugh.  Thankfully, The Kiss of Deception did not fall prey to that issue.  That was nice and refreshing.

All in all, I liked The Kiss of Deception.  However, to me, it did not reach the hype that was built up for it... But when can a book ever truly reach the hype?  I was at least not horribly disappointed and still enjoyed it quite a bit, which also means the hype didn't ruin it for me either.  That is always good.

Now to find time to get to book 2.  That one is also sitting on myself waiting.

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on an ARC I received by trading with another book blogger.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Behind the Blog: Harry Potter Love and The Wizarding World Premiere LootCrate

Hi Everyone,

I don't know if you know this about me, but I am a huge Harry Potter fan.  I do feel a little awkward saying this though.  I mean, I have only read most of the books 1 time.  The only exceptions this are that I have read the first book 2 times and have listened to it on audio once and I have listened read book 2 once and have listened to it on audio once.

All of the other books in the series I have only read one time and for the most part it was when they came out.  So it has been a super long time since I have read them.

I am slowly rectifying this problem though, I promise!  I am currently doing my "rereads" on audio while I color.  Unfortunately there is this crazy long wait on each of the books on overdrive with the library I am going through, so I have to be patient.  I hate it, but oh my goodness are they worth the wait!

So why am I rambling on about this to you?  Well, when I saw that LootCrate was offering a Wizarding World themed crate that releases every other month, I knew I had to get it.  I ordered it as soon as I could after I heard they were released for orders.  And I didn't go for just one month with hopes it would be good....I put so much faith into this box that I did a year long subscription!

I know! I know!  I am crazy!  It could be horrible, it could be filled with crap I don't want, it could just be lame...  But I took the risk.

I knew it was also not going to be entirely of Harry Potter.  I knew it was going to have Fantastic Beasts in it.  A movie that was at the time not released yet, so we didn't know if it was going to be a major disappointing flop (I hear that it isn't!).  I know I personally am not going to get to see this movie for quite sometime since I have a toddler and no one to watch her (and I don't want to go alone either and leave her with my husband).

The sacrifices a parent has to make sometimes...

So let us get to the day the crate was getting delivered shall we?  I was refreshing my info on my USPS page waiting for it to tell me it was delivered.  When it finally turned green, I totally squealed in excitement.  I then texted my friend and bolted out the door to where our mailbox is located.

I opened the locker it was in and it was just so wonderful.  The box was larger than I thought it was going to be, and it was ever so nondescript.  A black box with few words and a sticker (I managed to get that sticker off and keep it btw).

So I got it in my house found a nice location to open it and took photos of it every step of the way.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect when it came to houses.  I chose Ravenclaw and thought it might mean I will get some Ravenclaw specific stuff, but at least in this particular box that was not the case.

The only Ravenclaw specific thing in the box was the inside of the box.  I don't mind though.  It was awesome and I kept the top of the box...

And then there were all of the goodies!  Oh my goodness!  I am not a huge Pop fan, but I the one I got was really awesome and I have no regrets about owning it.  The Pop figure we could have gotten was random out of 5 characters and all seemed like they would have been okay, but I definitely got the one I would have preferred off of the list.

And the owl!  I love the owl!  The whole time I was looking at Pigwidgeon my toddler was trying to take it from me.  It is soooooo soft!  I LOVE IT!

The key chain was also top notch.  It is actually a LootCrate exclusive!

When it came to the shirt, I was expecting a "woman's" style shirt since we had the option of that when we ordered.  It ended up being a unisex shirt, but that is okay.  Thankfully I like those styles of shirts just fine.  And I like the design and that it is black.  So not disappointed there in the slightest.

The journal....oh the journal.  It took me a good look at it to realize that it was not actually for Harry Potter or for Fantastic Beasts.  I think that is what totally blew me away with the whole package.  It was something from outside of them but still in the world.  And it is NICE.  The pages are blank, no lines, dots, or grids giving me the freedom to do whatever I want with it.  However, I tend to have issues with using journals, especially when I think they are very very nice.  I just hate the idea that I might "waste" them...

After all of this love though, you are probably wondering "was there anything she didn't like in this box?"  And the answer to that is yes.  I was not a fan of the little pin.  I just felt it was kind of blah and whatever.  I mean, the idea of it was cute...but totally not for me.

In the end, except for the shirt (since I will wear it) everything from the box pretty much got proudly added to my ever growing Harry Potter collection.  I cannot wait until January and the next crate!

I purchased the LootCrate on my own and with my own money.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  LootCrate did not influence me in any way.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Middle Grade Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Hi everyone!

Tis the season where a vast majority of us are out trying to find that perfect gift for someone in our lives...and if you are like me, you might be coming up short on what to get for some of the people on your list.

Today I am here to help you with your middle grade readers (those who fall into the age range and those who just like to read it).  I hope you find something here that can help you with your gift buying needs :)

Fiction Books

First let us start off with some books that your reader will read and devour right up!  Obviously there are a whole bunch more middle grade books out there than what are on this list, but hopefully this helps!

Here I have pictured Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  This is Riordan's first book, but he has tons of others and other series.  You really cannot go wrong with any of his books.  Some of the series (like Percy Jackson) are complete and you can get your reader the whole box set, while others only have one or 2 books out so far.

A Tail of Camelot is a book that may not actually be on your readers radar yet, but totally should be!  It is super fun, features furry creatures as the main characters, and revolves around the ever popular King Author tales.  This is currently the only book out for this series, but I cannot WAIT for more of them.

Next up, I just have to recommend Jen Calonitas' Fairy Tale Reform School series.  This story is about kids who live in a fairy tale world that have done something bad and have been sent to reform school so that they can change their ways.  It is wicked fun and a great read.  Currently there are 2 books out in the series with more on the way!

I think I must be a Jen Calonita fan as I really enjoy her books... Meaning that I cannot make a list of middle grade reads and leave off her VIP series.  This series is crazy fun!  It is all about a girl who gets to go on tour and tag along with her favorite boy band!  Talk about the life huh?

Or maybe you have a reader that is more into the classics?  Then how about the Tales From the Arabian Nights that was published by National Geographic Kids?  And to top off getting some great reading material, the book is also gorgeously illustrated!

Non Fiction Books

Don't worry people who have middle grade readers that like non fiction books!  I have suggestions for you too!  Some people just love devouring facts and learning new things, and I cannot blame them for this at all!  It is kinda cool being a walking source of random information!

This one is perfect for those of us who have someone in our lives, younger or older, that are interested in learning how various things work.  There is just so much information packed into this one book.  Your reader will be able to spend hours reading this book and absorbing so much information on how things work.  Don't be surprised if you go out shopping with them and they start telling you how an escalator works or how your tablet/phone does what you want it to do!

Or maybe you have a reader who loves science and all things science related?  Well here is a great book for them!  Filled with so many interesting science facts they will be happy for hours and hours!  Again, don't be surprised if you are out and about or just hanging out at home and your reader shares some of the knowledge that they have learned from this one!

Hey look! It's Dory!  Okay okay, not really and a bad joke a side... If you have a reader fascinated with ocean life you really need to check out this book.  It will definitely fill their need and teach them a whole lot about ocean life.

Dinosaurs!  Everyone loves them!  And if you have a reader that loves this, then this book is perfect!  Don't be fooled by the cover though.  It is FILLED with information on dinosaurs - more specifically what they ate (or who they ate!).  A total must have for the dino lover in your life!!

LIONS!  My toddler loves roaring and they are my husbands favorite even though this is a book geared towards middle grade readers, it has been a huge hit in my house!  In this one your reader will get to learn all about the Liuwa Plans and learn about an ecological struggle and how it has managed to survive.

Those with crafty middle graders, don't worry!!!!! I didn't forget you at all!  Girl Plus Pen is amazing and wonderful and gorgeous.  I love Stephanie Corfee's work and books.  I have one that is meant for adults too!  In this book, your crafter will learn about doodling and all the fun things that they can do with their doodles!  That is right, they aren't just for putting in the margins of your notes and home work, there are things you can do with them, and Stephanie Corfee will tell you how!

And this one!  This one is so awesome!  It is filled with ideas and how to's for making your own gifts to give to others.  And the ideas in this book are really really cute!  This is a gift that your crafter will be able to use to help them with their own gift giving in the future.  A definite win win if you ask me!

Obviously, I could make both of these lists go on and on and on, but I won't.  Hopefully if you didn't find anything on here, it at least helped you find something to get your middle grade reader!

Feel free to share any other ideas in the comment section!

Some of these titles were provided to me by the publishers for review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Blog Tour: Spindle by E.K. Johnston

Title: Spindle
Author: E.K. Johnston
Series: A Thousand Nights #2
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Source: Publisher

In case you have missed them, I have posted reviews for book one, A Thousand Nights, HERE and for the novella, The Garden of Three Hundred Flowers, HERE.

In case you were not already aware, Spindle is the second book in a series.  The first book is entitled A Thousand Nights.

Spindle is meant to be a retelling of the ever popular Sleeping Beauty tale.  There is a girl, there is a curse, and there is a demon.  If she spins bad things are supposed to happen. Etc.

And for the most part I would say that Spindle follows this idea fairly well.  However, unlike most books it is not told from the point of view of the cursed princess.  Instead it is told from the point of a view of a boy whose whole life and everything he knows has been affected by the curse.

And the curse is ravaging the whole kingdom, especially the spinners.  They get sick if they spin, so they can't make the thread that makes the cloth that makes the clothes.

After finishing up the first book, I was ready to dive into more of this world and to see where the author was going to take us next.  To be honest, I was kind of surprised in the differences between these books.

The main difference that I noticed in this book compared to the last is that it is written differently.  Where in book 1 we had no names to characters, pretty much all of the characters in book 2 have them.  I think this is in part why I feel the unique voice that I had come to think of this series to have is gone for me.  It feels less like a storyteller is telling it now versus someone of the story is telling it.

Also, this book is set quite a bit after book 1 took place.  Different characters, different location, different different different.  It will kind of refer back to what happened in book 1 at times and there is the spinning aspect that is really holding it together.  Because, yes, just like in the first book, spinning is a HUGE part of the story.  I guess you could probably have figured that out though just by knowing that it is based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale though.

All in all though, I really felt pulled in when reading this story.  And while I wasn't expecting the change in writing style, I am okay with it.  It still worked.

Oh...and this book really was starting to make me want to pick up spinning!

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.


Follow the Rest of the Tour!!

Week 1:

Week 2:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: The Garden of Three Hundred Flowers by E.K. Johnston

Title: The Garden of Three Hundred Flowers
Author: E.K. Johnston
Series: A Thousand Nights #1.5
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date; November 8, 2016
Source: Purchased

If you some how missed it, I just posted my review for book one in this series, A Thousand Nights, yesterday.  You can find that review right HERE.

That being said.  This little novella to the series is chock full of spoilers for that first book.  So continue with this review at your own risk.  Also, don't read this novella before you read book one if you don't almost the entire full story for A Thousand Nights to be ruined for you.  This novella may be short, but you will be able to pretty much get the whole story for the first book - minus a few details out of it.

The Garden of Three Hundred Roses is a novella in the Thousand Nights series.  It takes place pretty much right after the first book ends.  The unnamed female heroine of book 1 is still the main focal point.  However, where we got some bits of the story from the demon in book one, we now get some points of this small story from a child.  So it isn't as evil

We see the unnamed girl from book one as very strong and rightfully so.  And this novella is mostly about her relationship with the King and how the King dealing with the realities the demon who possessed him left him with.

This novella is still written in the same style as book 1.

As far as I can tell after having read this, it is probably not necessary to read but it does give you some more closure for book one.  I am not too far into book 2 to see if it really has much to do with what is going on there yet.

For the price (I found it free on Amazon) it was worth the few minutes to read.  It also has some sneak peeks into E.K Johnston's other books.  But, again, I warn you to not read this novella before book 1.

My Rating
3 Stars

This review is based on a copy purchased by myself.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.