March/April 2014 Reading Retellings Wrap-Up

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

It’s May! I’m sorry for the delay on this one, and also for missing the March wrap-up. I do help you’ll forgive my negligence, but I’ve been forced to take a rather long (oh, who am I kidding, it’s been four freaking months) hiatus from TNN. I do, however, have some very good news: I’ve actually got some retellings under my belt at long last. In the past week or so, I’ve read the first three books of The Lunar Chronicles (did anyone else cry actual, legitimate tears upon reaching the end of Cress and realizing that Winter won’t be out for another year?), and asfjklsjdf;akjsdf I freaking love this series. I’ll be reviewing Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress individually when I get the chance, but in the meantime, tell me what retellings you’ve been reading in the comments below! Good luck for May!

Love, Sam

Advertisements

February 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge Wrap-Up

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

Good morning! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful February; I can’t believe it’s already over! Time seems like it’s been flying lately, and I’ve (once again) failed to read any retellings. Instead, I’ve been lost in a 600-page biography of Tsar Nicholas II and his family (Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie if you’re interested). I also have not had time to do anything blog-related other than the book tours I signed up for earlier in the year, so hopefully in March I can come back from my much-too-long hiatus and rejoin the fun.

In other news, we got EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW AND NO THAT WAS NOT A TYPO. It was so beautiful and I was so sorry to see it go. I’m honestly not looking forward to spring, especially not where I live as it’s terribly humid and muggy during the warmer months.

Anyway, I hope you’ve been more successful in your reading endeavors than I have. Link up your retelling reviews in the comments, and good luck for March!

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge Wrap-Up

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

Good morning! It’s the end of January, the first month of a shiny new year is over, and I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week. My area got a good two inches of snow which, while rather horrid on traffic, got me out of school for nearly four days (great timing too, considering it’s giving me a super long weekend to get over this wretched cold). I don’t know about you, but snow is one of my favorite things so I’ve had a lovely week.

Anyway, weather aside, the first month of our 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge is over! I hope you’ve found some great reads this month. I’ve had a rather rough time of it lately, so I’ve only just started my first retelling, Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Hopefully I’ll be reviewing it soon.

I wish you happy reading in February! Link up your retellings reviews in the comments!

My Realistic Resolutions for 2014

First of all…OH MY GOD IT’S 2014 WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DIE TWO YEARS AGO TAKE THAT MAYAN CALENDAR. (Except not really because science says that was all bullshit to begin with.)

Anyway.

Welcome to a new year, a new start, a flashy new set of resolutions to uphold. If you’re into that of course. I, gigantic holiday fanatic that I am, love celebrating the new year and thinking about ways to make it better than the last. And a big part of that is, naturally, New Year’s Resolutions.

“Sam, Sam, Sam, what are these mysterious ‘resolutions’ you speak of?”

Well, I’ve got a few. This year is going to be a year of change. High school graduation, starting college (most likely far away from where I am now), getting a job, hopefully finishing my novel, family moves, and my little sister starting her first year of high school (what, I’m not panicking AT ALL). So I’ve got quite a few resolutions, partly because I love lists and partly because with all this change going on, I want something to focus on. This year is going to be crazy enough, and I want to have something solid to think about when everything around me is going nuts. So here are my resolutions.


Res1

Develop healthy eating habits.

I’ve been making some really bad choices lately in regards to what I put in my body. My diet isn’t healthy or balanced and I’m not treating myself the way I ought to, with regular meals and veggies and fruits and some semblance of exercise. So I want to make a conscious effort to make time to eat properly this year.

Res2

Spoil myself rotten.

This year I will make some of the biggest decisions of my life, and with those decisions will come a lot of really difficult situations that will be hard to get through. So whenever I can, I want to focus on living and having fun and doing what I want to do.

Res3

2014 Jar of Memories

This year Julia and I decided to engage in a terribly romantic, terribly cheesy activity. We each bought a large jar for ourselves and for the next year we will write down good things that happened in our relationship in 2014. They can be funny things we say or do, dates we go on, movies we see, arguments we have, places we go, etc. And then at the end of year, we get together with our jars and go through them and read each memory to each other and reminisce like the sappy fools we are.

Res4

Be an awesome girlfriend to my lady-love.

This is pretty self-explanatory. But I’m making it my mission to spoil her rotten.

Res5

Call my family more often and be more involved in their lives.

My family is very scattered, and I’ll be even further away when I go off college in September. So I want to make a conscious effort to call them more, send more cards and books and presents throughout the year. I haven’t been able to be very involved in their lives, but family is extremely important to me and I want them to know how much I love them.

Res6

Complete my reading challenges.

As of now, I’m participating in 4 challenges for 2014. They are as follows (with levels in bold):

  • 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (hosted by Bookish) — Could this be love? (41-50 books)
  • A Year in Re-Reading Challenge (hosted by caffeinatedlife.net) — Occasional re-reader (1-4 books)
  • 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge (hosted by me!) — I Like A Challenge (13-19 books)
  • 2014 Reading Challenge (on Goodreads) — 100 books

Wish me luck!

Res7

Get to and maintain an 80% feedback ratio on Netgalley.

I’m at about 60% right now, which I’m happy with, but ideally I’d like to get up to 80% by summer.

Res8

Go outside my comfort zone. Try new things. Meet new people. Find out what I’m really capable of.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but as I’ve said, this year will be full of massive changes in my life. It’ll be challenging of course, but it will also allow me to stretch my limits and learn more about myself.

Res9

Keep blogging!

I’m still very new to book blogging, but I love this community so much. Blogging gives me a way to express my love for books and meet other awesome book lovers, and it’s also motivated me to keep reading, which is just brilliant. High school put me in a reading slump and I nearly forgot why I love to read, but blogging has been a way to get back into books and writing. I’m really looking forward to further growing my blog in 2014 and meeting more of you spectacular people.


I’m so excited for the new year, and I hope you are as well. Whether or not 2013 was a good year for you, 2014 is a new chance to begin afresh and explore the world and yourself. I wish you all the best for this year, including but not limited to books, family, friends, good health, and happiness!

Happy New Years!

Love, Sam

 

Life of A Blogger: My Significant Other

Life of A Blogger

Life of A Blogger is a meme-style feature from the lovely Jessi over at Novel Heartbeat where we can chat about non-bookish aspects of our lives and learn more about each other!

P. S. This is rather spectacularly late, but I really wanted to sing my beloved’s praises, so I went ahead and did it anyway!


1280

Her name is Julia, and she is possibly the weirdest person you will meet outside of a circus.

We’ve been best friends for two years, and romantic cohorts for a few months. (To be honest, neither of us is really sure what began when.) We’ve got the kind of relationship that, despite how young we are, is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime sort of madness, and every second of it is awesome. <3

A few things about this gorgeous girl… She’s Polish, with a massive, complex, fantastic family, most of which live all over Europe (making for fun travel adventures). She hates pretty much any remotely nutritious food and lives off tea, pasta, and Tumblr. She’s the pet human of two horses, two dogs, and three cats, and I’m 99% sure her iPhone is actually surgically attached to her body.

288

Together, we are probably terrifying to most people. We eat out way too much, buy matching underwear, terrorize waiters, and plot various ways to murder our favorite TV show writers. We both want to move to England after college and hole ourselves up in a nice little flat with a cat and a dog and just write and read until the end of our days. We plan to adopt Polrean (Polish-Korean) twins, named Seattle and Boston (nicknamed Bosie after Oscar Wilde’s lover) and raise them speaking Polish, French, and English, and we love to talk politics, philosophy, and books long past our bedtimes.

083

I honestly don’t know what my life would be like without her. She’s funny and smart and passionate and fiercely devoted, and she’s quite possibly the only person who never annoys me. She encourages me to be my best and she completely understands me. If it weren’t for her, I don’t like to imagine where I would be right now. And I’m so glad that I found her.

001

Love, Sam

 

My Holiday To-Do List

I always make rather outrageous plans for my month-long winter break. After a semester of horrors, Christmas is exactly what I need to wind down, relax, and enjoy myself. Oh, and make to-do lists. Because I am possibly the most list-oriented person I know. I have a planner with my schedule, post it notes on which I write my daily to-do lists by order of importance, and I also have like 3 Google Calendars and a wall calendar and I LIKE BEING ORGANIZED OKAY. Maybe that’s why I like blogging so much; I get to schedule like there’s no tomorrow. *dreamy sigh*

Anyway, with this fine, festive, festooned holiday which represents any number of things from baby Jesus to snow to Santa Claus to Norse mythology, I tend to make grand schemes.

Festivity #1

Buy every sweater on creation.

No seriously. Do you even comprehend the infinite glory that is sweaterland?

Sweaters are one of my absolute favorite parts of winter and they always make me feel cozy and hip and (of course) warm.

Festivity #2

Wear Christmas socks.

I have shitloads of holiday-themed footwear and now is the time to rock them. And rock them I will. *puts on war paint*

Festivity #3

Do the snow dance once in the morning and once at night. No matter what.

Snow dance definition: Put on every piece of winter clothing you own, go stand outside (preferably in your front yard where there are witnesses), and dance furiously while singing either Jingle Bells or Let It Snow.

Festivity #4

Go buy those organic chocolate truffles at Earth Fare because like really, get in my mouth now. *grabby hands* If I could marry these truffles, my girlfriend would be shit outta luck.

Festivity #5

Bloggity bloggity bloggity blog. I’ve got reviews done up through January, so now I’m going to work on the other fun stuff for this month! And since there’s no school, I’ll have lots of time to explore other blogs and meet peeps and lurk on Goodreads and Twitter. (Aside: I don’t mean to whine on Twitter. Twitter makes me do it. I mean, really. It’s obviously Twitter’s fault. All that blue? Should be viewed with suspicion. *views suspiciously*)

Festivity #6

Watch ALL the Christmas movies. Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus, Annie, and a few Disney movies. Also Harry Potter because it is never not the right time to watch Harry freakin’ Potter, let’s be real.

Festivity #7

Wear the most sickeningly festive nail polish known to man. Right now it’s candy cane red with sparkly green Christmas trees. Up next: ice blue snowflakes awyiss.

Festivity #8

Cuddles with my Boo Bear (who is my dog, and I love him, and he is mine).

Festivity #9

Listen to Christmas music until I’m thinking in carols.

Festivity #10

Read, read, read, and oh did I mention READ? I’m going to read all da books. None shall escape me. I’m going to meet my reading goal, and I’m going to eat, sleep, and breathe books until January. I’m also going to finish the Gallagher Girl series because holy hell, spy school has never been better. And then I’m going to put a dent in my Winter TBR list, and prepare myself for the unholy delights of the 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge (which I am hosting/fangirling over). Join me in my quest to read some spectacular retellings in 2014!

Happy holidays, my lovelies! I hope your week is merry and bright so far, and I hope your reading is as well! Have a sparkling day!

Love, Sam

Great Holiday Gifts for Writers and Readers

As a writer and reader with writer/reader friends, I love brainstorming bookish gifts to put under the tree. Most people tend to think the only thing to get a writer/reader is a notebook or a random new release or a gift card to Barnes & Noble. But au contraire, mon amie; there is a vast world of gifts out there for the literary-minded sort, and I’ve come up with a list of gift ideas to prove it. (That sounded like such an advertisement. Am I in the wrong field?)

1. Coffee/tea mugs

Reading is Sexy Coffee Cup

Who doesn’t love a good mug? Even if you don’t like hot drinks, you can use it for cereal or (sometime in the dead of night when there’s nobody around to judge you) candy.

This cup is from Etsy. Click on the image if you’d like to buy it!

2. Hairstick

Hairsticks

For your long-haired reader/writer friends, hairsticks are awesome. You haven’t felt artsy until you have one of these things in your hair. This one is from Etsy, so click if you like it!

3. Bookmarks

Wicked Witch bookmark

You can’t go wrong with bookmarks. I mean, for real, you actually can’t. Also, this Etsy bookmark is supercalifragicool so you should totes click the image and buy this beauty.

4. A Really Old Book

Old books are not only great decor, but it’s just an awesome feeling in general to know that the book in your hands has been through a lot of shit. There will likely be names or random notes or dates that just make it even more interesting; my writer girlfriend found an old book of maps and geographic facts (I think it was in France, but I can’t remember) and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. It’s no joke. Plus, they’re super easy to find. Just pop into your local used bookstore or even just an antique store and you should be able to find something with a halfway decent price tag.

5. Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless Gloves

I don’t know about you, but holding a book and typing up stories on my laptop in winter is kind of sucky because your hands are constantly freezing, even indoors. At this very moment, as I write this post, I’m having to take breaks to stick my hands under my legs and warm them up.

6. Beverage of Choice

Beverage

Does your giftee enjoy the delights of raspberry tea? Or perhaps is enraptured by the sweet aroma of cocoa? Gifting somebody with their favorite drink, even if it’s something  as mundane as beer or Kool-Aid, is a nice way to say, “Hey, we must be real friends if I know your beverage of choice. This Diet Cherry Coke is proof that I care.” And it also means your giftee won’t have to go shopping for their favorite drink for a while longer.

7. Anything Handmade

Monogram Art

I’m not remotely artistic, but I can write a poem for someone for Christmas. You may not be a writer like your giftee, but if you can draw a heart with “Happy Holidays” in the middle of it and stick it in a frame, I at least would be thrilled. Even if you can’t sculpt a lifesize marble replica of your giftee, you can still make something, be it a cool crayon monogram or even cookies. But chucking $50 on some random piece of art isn’t going to be nearly as meaningful as something you’ve made yourself.

8. A Bookish Date

This isn’t so much a gift as it is a significant-other arrangement. Don’t just give your darling dearest a gift card to Border’s—take them to the bookstore and buy them a book they find, or just spend the day exploring the shelves and bonding over literature. Take them to a book signing, spend the day curled up together on the couch reading to each other, have an intense debate about Charles Dickens over take-out. Your writer/reader will be happy to know that even if you yourself aren’t a raging book addict, you don’t want that part of their life to be something outside of your relationship. Getting involved with their passion, even in a small way, shows that you love that aspect of them.

That’s it! I’d love to hear about your gift ideas, or what you’d like to give/receive for the holidays. I myself would kill for another bookcase so I don’t have to keep stacking books by my bed. ;)

I hope you’re having a great December so far wherever you are!

Netgalley November Update

cc862-netgalleynovember3

We’re in the final stretch of Netgalley November! This Saturday will mark the end of the month of Netgalley marathoning, at which point I will (if all goes as planned) be celebrating the polishing off of my stack of e-galleys waiting to be read. I’ve had a lot of fun and found some fabulous books.

Read So Far

Damselfly The Curse Keepers Endless Counting Shadows A Dance of Cloaks Witch Finder Defy

Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic (read my official review here)

The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank (read my official review here)

Endless by Amanda Gray (my official review will be up this Friday)

Counting Shadows by Olivia Rivers (my official review will be up next Monday)

A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish (my official review will be up in a few weeks)

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (my official review will be up in a few weeks)

Defy by Sara B. Larson (my official review will be up in a few weeks)

Reading Next

Branded

 

Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Really looking forward to this one! I’m pretty sure this will be my last book for Netgalley November, which I’m quite happy with since I originally only planned to read 4 books, and instead I’m on #8 with time to spare!

How is your reading going this fine November? Have a wonderful week!

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

As I mentioned in my Sunday Post earlier this week, I’ll be participating in the 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge hosted over at Bookish! I’m super excited to be joining in the fun, and I’m already brainstorming books to read.

If you haven’t heard of this challenge, the basic idea is to dig into your TBR pile and, if not clear it completely, get it back under control. The books you read for the challenge can’t be 2014 releases and any book can be included as long as you review it. On the 20th of each month, you gather all your reviews together and link them up in the wrap-up post on Bookish, and for each review you get an entry to win a book of your choice from Book Depository! [insert flailing here]

There are also levels which go as follows:

1-10 – A Firm Handshake
11-20 – A Friendly Hug
21-30 – First Kiss
31-40 – Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 – Could this be love?
50+ – Married With Children

I’ll be aiming for the Could this be love? level (wish me luck!) and I’m still thinking about books in the pile for January, so when I decide on that, I’ll let you know! I’ll still be reviewing new releases and ARCs, but they just won’t be part of the challenge so I won’t link up those reviews as entries to the giveaways.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge (and I’d love it if you did!) just head over to Bookish and sign up by December 15! There’s a mailing list and lots of other fun things like read-a-longs planned for the challenge, so check it out!

 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Writer Stereotype

 

The Writer Stereotype

Thoughtful Thursday is my own little meme in which I share my thoughts on a certain topic relating to writing, reading, and (on very special occasions) random things.

I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people have, at one point or another, bought into certain stereotypes given to writers. When you tell people you write, it’s probably a good bet that the person you’re telling will assume a few things about you. Now, those things may not necessarily be negative, but they’re likely at least a smidge inaccurate.

Why? Well, all stereotypes are inaccurate. As mind-boggling as it is to think about, despite Earth’s massive population, no two people are exactly alike. Everybody is different, so fitting completely into a stereotype is like trying to fit the feet an entire population of people into one shoe size. Even writers, who actually do tend to lean in a certain direction, are all unique in their writing, their personalities, and their methods. That’s why it’s so unfortunate that the writer stereotypes we’ve created are often what makes us so self-conscious about ourselves as writers.

And the truth is, no writer can be put in a box. Even “bad writer” and “good writer” are entirely subjective terms that don’t really mean anything, so just because you as a writer don’t fit a certain standard or perception doesn’t mean you’re not authentic.

Now, if you’re tilting your head and asking, “What on earth is she talking about?” then you, my lucky bug, are already refusing to stick yourself in a category and call it a day, so kudos to you. But I think it’s important to realize what stereotypes writers are given, and make sure we’re not unconsciously limiting ourselves by trying to fit into a preconceived idea of what a writer is and/or should be.

The Stereotypical Writer

  • Moody Artist: Shuns society and spends weeks upon weeks shut up in a tiny room punching out thousands of words and having emotional breakdowns every five minutes. Misunderstood. Refuses to listen to advice or do any sort of cleaning at all.
  • Alcoholic/Drug Addict: Think Edgar Allan Poe. Can’t write for shit unless they have a glass or joint in hand. Does strange things and writes weird, beautiful stuff that makes no sense but sounds great.
  • Dreamer: Can’t concentrate. Needs a muse. Incapable of being productive.
  • Bum in the Basement: 30-something loser living in your mom’s basement chasing after that elusive idea while everyone you know harangues you about getting an actual job and an actual apartment and an actual life.
  • Old-Fashioned Classicist: Loathes modern technology. Still writes with a typewriter and only reads first editions and classics. Despises writers who are just starting out and wears more cashmere than should reasonably fit on a human body. Must have cats, a vintage hairstick, horn-rimmed glasses, and ballpoint pens to feel complete.

I mean, do you know how many people have told me I should be a journalist if I like writing? Or how many have told me that maybe if I didn’t spend so much time writing, I would have more time to actually do something productive? It’s actually ridiculous. And you probably know what I’m talking about.

People will assume some really stupid things about you as soon as you mention writing. They’ll assume you have no idea what you want to do with your life, or you don’t know what hard work is, or you’re unrealistic, or you worship Satan (don’t even ask). Does any of that fit who you are? Does it matter?

The thing about stereotypes is they don’t have to mean anything to you. Stereotyping is just another way of labeling and dismissing, and you don’t have to take the bait. You don’t need to try to conform to a certain perception of writers. You don’t have to adopt five cats, move to Paris, and swear off every beverage except red wine. You don’t have to become an insomniac and quit your day job.

Your task as a writer and as a person is to find who you are. If you’re allergic to cats or you love people, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it as a writer. Hell, I’m allergic to cats. I hate red wine. My mom doesn’t even have a basement. But I’m still a writer. You are too.