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

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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!

The Sunday Post #7

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


Let’s find out what’s been happening lately, shall we?

Last Week on TNN

MondayARC review of Defy by Sara B. Larson (4/5 hearts)

TuesdayTop Ten Books I Read in 2013

WednesdayMy Realistic Resolutions for 2014

FridayReview of Jane by April Lindner (3/5 hearts)

SaturdayStacking the Shelves #10

Bookish News

Reading Challenges Are Ago! I’m determined to meet all my reading goals this year (although honestly I’m already a bit behind, because I’ve hardly read a thing since New Year’s), so I’m super excited for the challenges I’ve signed up for this year!

Insurgent May Be MIA: IT’S BEEN OVER A WEEK AND THEY HAVEN’T FUCKING RESTOCKED WHAT EVEN IS MY LIFE

Non-Bookish News

SHERLOCK!!! OH MY GOD IT WAS SO AMAZING ASDFGHJKLSDFAKJSDF I CRIED. The next episode is tonight and I may die.

Actual Legitimate Bad News: So remember last week when I said I had a family member in hospital? Well, a) it’s my stepfather, and b) it turns out it wasn’t a blood clot or a miniature stroke. He’s been diagnosed with cancer in the lungs and the brain. Last Thursday he had brain surgery, and everything’s going fairly well, but it’s been absolute hell, especially for my mom. And honestly, even though I’m not nearly as upset about it as she is, I’ve been very stressed, and so instead of reading or scheduling posts, I’ve been marathoning TV shows, eating at bizarre hours of the night, and planning out the entirety of my life via Pinterest. I’ve picked out my bloody china patterns, this can’t be normal.

Anyway, because of that, I’ve not prepared a single thing for the coming week, and I don’t want to force myself to blog because a) this is supposed to be fun and b) it’ll totally show that I’m not into it. So there most likely will be no posts this week except perhaps a Stacking the Shelves post on Saturday if I do any more stress-shopping at Barnes & Noble. Hopefully this will give me some time to get back on my feet and do some reading. There’s some really fantastic-looking books on my shelves, and I really want to get in the mood again so I can fully appreciate them.


Anyway, that’s been my week. Hopefully by next Sunday I’ll be back in my groove and ready to go, but until then, have a fantastic week full of books and fun!

Love, Sam

The Sunday Post #6

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


Good morning! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week wherever you are. My week was good, although yesterday ended with a family member in the hospital with something that looks pretty unpleasant showing up on his CAT scan. But it’s a new day, a new week, and hopefully everything will sort itself out soon. Now, let’s find out what’s been going on around TNN, shall we?

Last Week on TNN

MondayReview of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (4/5 hearts)

TuesdayTop Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Thursday: ARC Review of Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (5/5 hearts)

FridayLife of A Blogger — My Significant Other (meet my fabulous girlfriend, Julia!)

SaturdayStacking the Shelves #9

This Week on TNN

Monday: ARC Review of Defy by Sara B. Larson (4/5 hearts)

Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Wednesday: My 2014 Resolutions

Thursday: Thoughtful Thursday — Writer Dreams

Friday: ARC Review of Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (still reading!)

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves #10

Bookish News

Gift Cards: I got Barnes & Noble gift cards for Christmas, which basically means I AM THE HAPPIEST PERSON TO EVER HAPPY IN THE HISTORY OF HAPPINESS. Ahem. I’m pretty chuffed.

Insurgent: Barnes & Noble is STILL out of Insurgent, and I’m about to throw things. Violently. However, I’m on the list to be called when they’re back in stock, so hopefully I can get my hands on a copy soon.

Non-Bookish News

2014 Jar of Memories: I’m so excited to do this for 2014 with Julia. We each have a jar (bought from Pier 1 Imports, and they have a super cool chalkboard painted on so you can label the jar) and we’ll write down memories of things we do together and good things that happen in our relationship, both everyday and on special occasions, and then at the end of the year, we’ll get together and open up our jars and read through them and remember. It’s really romantic and kind of sappy, but just such a stinkin’ cute idea. <3

Vicar of Dibley: Last night (or this morning, rather), I went back and rewatched a few episodes of my all-time favorite TV comedy, “Vicar of Dibley”. It’s on Netflix, and if you haven’t seen it, YOU MUST LEAVE THIS POST AND FIX THAT IMMEDIATELY. It’s a tragically short-lived British sitcom about a female vicar in a little village, and it’s so bloody hilarious, you don’t understand.

Sherlock: SHERLOCK COMES BACK THIS WEEK OH MY GOD ASDFGHJKLS. I’m going over to the wifey’s and we’re going to watch it and scream and cry and possibly (read: probably) roll around on the floor in hysterics. It’ll be awesome.


Until tomorrow! Happy New Year!

Love, Sam

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

Pawn

1. Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1) by Aimee Carter

Splintered

2. Splintered (Splintered, #1) by A. G. Howard

The Nightmare Affair

3. The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1) by Mindee Arnett

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of A Creative Life

4. Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of A Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

Huntress

5. Huntress by Malinda Lo

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

6. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Archived

8. The Archived (The Archived, #1) by Victoria Schwab

Some Quiet Place

9. Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place #1) by Kelsey Sutton

These Broken Stars

10. These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman

You have no idea how hard it was to narrow it down to ten. NO. IDEA. I was looking through my wishlist on Goodreads and I was just like, “Shit, how do people do this?” But I managed it, and I am absurdly proud of myself. Somebody give me a medal.

Meanwhile it’s Christmas Eve. AHHHHHHH!!! Happy holidays, my loves!

Love, Sam

Stacking the Shelves #8

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.


I hope you’ve had a great week filled with books and holiday cheer! I sort of let go a bit seeing as nobody ever buys me books for Christmas (probably because they assume I have every book ever written) so I decided to find myself some bookish presents. I have no shame.
For Review

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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee (thanks @ Random House Children’s)

Oh my God, you guys, look at me controlling myself on Netgalley. *throws confetti*

From the Bookshop

A Great and Terrible Beauty The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind 93101 1333503713580951 6567017 12000020

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (I know, I’m like 10 years late but whatever)

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

Tales from the Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton (not this edition, the Barnes & Noble hardcover one)

Divergent by Veronica Roth (yes, I know I’m late)

United We Spy by Ally Carter (I’m totally NOT going to cry at the ending, I am strong damn it)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


The last two books have been on my TBR list for FOREVER so when I found them at my local used bookstore—okay, say what you will about supporting the author, but a) I’m poor, and b) I think of it as a rescue mission to keep books off the shelves of used bookstores and in my loving, underpaid arms—I made an unladylike noise (although when are my noises ever NOT unladylike?) and nearly impaled myself on a display trying to grab them from their respective shelves. CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY YOU GUYS IT’S A THING.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve added to my library this week. I’d love to hear what books you’ve found recently, so link me up in the comments! Happy holidays!
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

The Sunday Post #2

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

Last Week on TNN Blog

Ivy Lune has lived in isolation the majority of her life. Imprisoned by her aunt and cousins, she longs to escape the shackles of her prison-like life. Unknown to her, there are dangerous forces at work; old blood ties and murderous plots threaten her chance at happiness beyond her current life.

Read my full review of The Hazel Tree here.

Author Spotlight: Check out my interview with the lovely Julia Debski, who recently self-published her first novel, The Hazel Tree.

WWW Wednesday #1: Check this out if you’d like to know what I’ve been reading! I’d also love some suggestions on what to add to my shelf next; I’m always on the prowl for good books.

Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughtful Thursday #1: In which I discuss the pantsing vs. plotting dilemma that all writers face.

Friday Finds #1: Want to see some books I’ve been adding to my TBR pile (but haven’t bought yet)? Here you go!

This Week on TNN Blog

Okay, basically this book is about two people, Ellie and Collin, descended from two other people who, a few hundred years ago, did a curse wrong and made the spirit world go boom (kind of). And now Ellie and Collin have to keep the un-boomed spirit world from killing everything on earth ’cause they hatin’. Oh, and there’s sex.

That was possibly the worst summary ever, but the official one is too long. I regret nothing.

My review will be posted tomorrow (Monday), and The Curse Keepers comes out on Tuesday, so if you’re into Native American lore and badass Virginian gals, take a look!

Top Ten Tuesday #3: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to My 13-Year-Old Sister

This is the kind of Cinderella retelling I can get behind. This story taught me the following: princes are overrated, fairies are the scariest things ever, and my new career goal is to become a huntress.

You can check out my review of this fabulous take on a classic fairytale this Wednesday.

Writer Stereotype

In which I discuss the boxes writers are put into, not just by others but by ourselves, and in which I have a tiny rant about the absurdity of trying to “conform” as a writer.

Books, books, books! Want to know what books I’ve added to my shelf this week? Check in on Saturday and I’ll give you all the details!

Bookish News

What I’m Reading: Well, let’s get the boring out of the way first. I’m reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad for my lit class, and I’m not really a fan because everything about it is so bloody intentional. I mean, I know you’re a literary man, Mr. Conrad, but there’s this thing called subtlety that you should really try sometime.

I’m also elbow-deep in A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish (thank you Netgalley), and it’s pretty good so far.

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: I’ve decided to join this year’s TBR Pile Reading Challenge hosted by the lovely Evie over at Bookish. I’ll be posting more information this Friday about the challenge, what my goals are, what books I’m planning on reading, etc. If you’d like to sign up and get cracking on that TBR pile of yours too, sign ups end on December 15, so go ahead and check it out!

Writing for Christmas: I’ve decided that for Christmas, I will be writing short stories/poems for people both as a money-saver and as a good writing exercise. I’m super excited, and I’ve been brainstorming ideas for a while now.

Non-Bookish News

Travel

Philadelphia was awesome. I went at the perfect time, because it was in the prime of fall and everything was colorful and gorgeous. It was rather cold, but I really didn’t mind it, especially since I was doing so much walking. And the flight time gave me the opportunity to do a bit of reading, which I’m glad for since this week has been so busy.

Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving=school break=happy Sam.

I can’t even explain why I love this show so much. I just do. I mean, GUH. If you haven’t watched it, what the hell are you doing reading this post? You could be halfway through the pilot episode by now!

I hope you had a great week and if not, I hope this week makes up for it! Happy reading!

Author Spotlight: Julia Debski

Julia Debski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1996. Growing up, Julia and her family moved around a lot. They have lived in Poland, France, California, South Carolina, and finally Tennessee (though not in that order). She had a love of reading and stories from a very early age, which included reading till the early hours of the morning on a school night and playing make-believe with characters and complicated plots.
It wasn’t until the 8th grade that she found her passion for writing. It was thanks to a particularly inspiring English teacher and a story that needed to be told. So she began to write, and she never stopped.

This week, I had the opportunity to talk with this talented young author about her debut novel, The Hazel Tree, which she self-published a few short weeks ago. It is set in a world of werewolves and power struggles, a world in which the main character, Ivy, finds herself forced to make difficult choices that may prove deadly.

First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to have your first novel out in the world?

Unreal. I feel like I should still be going back and writing the next chapter or editing. On the other hand, I’m very happy it is published—I’ve been looking forward to starting my next project.

How did you come up with the idea for The Hazel Tree?

There was a revamp of fairy tales and that sort of thing recently, like Once Upon A Time, and on shows like Supernatural. It was a very appealing idea to retell a story that we had all grown up with, and retelling it with a supernatural twist to it, and making it darker and far more suspenseful. That is what the Hazel Tree was originally based on—Cinderella. The plot from it doesn’t play as big of a role in the story as it did in the first draft, but it is still pretty evident.

Where did your inspiration for your settings come from?

I have a soft spot for the Canadian and Northeastern United States landscape. I love the thick green forests and the mountains and the cold. The woods in North Carolina really stuck with me as well, which is why the Orarius packland is set in the Appalachian Mountains.

Which character do you feel is most like you?

Well my favorite character is Judice. Who doesn’t love a big, tall, redheaded woman who’s one of the best—if not the best—warriors in the world? If I was to write a sequel, she would be a big part of it.

What do you feel is the strongest aspect of your book, and why?

Personally I think that the characters are. The Hazel Tree has quite a cast and I think there’s someone every reader can relate to and come to love. I’m also very proud of the mythology and lore I incorporated into the story and the plot. Anyone who knows me knows I love mythology, folklore, and the supernatural, and that is why I tend to write fantasy. So I love the Celtic mythology entwined in the story.

What would you say was the hardest part of writing/publishing The Hazel Tree?

Everything. Nothing about writing a novel is easy—that’s why you have to love it and love what you are creating. The absolute hardest part was staying motivated. I worked on The Hazel Tree for nearly two years, from the moment I began plotting the idea to when I self-published it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am awful at keeping deadlines, and several times I had to work on one chapter for over 12 hours just so I could stay even remotely on track. During the editing process, I was so fed up with the story I found it hard to care about doing a good job. Luckily I had my best friend and my mum to keep me going. It is always hardest to create a story if you don’t love it, so you have to find reasons to love it again.

What are you reading right now?

Stephen King’s On Writing and his novel Carrie, and Greg Wilkey’s Mortimer Drake series. They’re all brilliant.

What is one book that you are dying to read?

Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies. (And Wolf Hall—it’s part of a trilogy.)

Okay, just for funsies, give us a random fact about yourself.

And just for funsies, I’ll give you two: I lived in France for 3 years, and I have two dogs, Issi and Mika, and three cats, Walle, Wabu, and Wiki (short for Wikipedia), aaaand two horses, Sharlie and Casper.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on some short stories. I’m hoping to publish a collection of them sometime in the spring, and then begin working on my next novel. I have several ideas to choose from. Also, I hope to get The Hazel Tree published by a traditional publisher, but it isn’t a priority right now.

I wish you the best of luck! Thank you for talking with me, it’s been a pleasure!

Thank you for having me! It was lovely. Cheers!

The Hazel Tree is available on Nook and Kindle for $1.99, and you can also order a paperback copy for under $12. I must say, the paperback is lovely; it feels nice and solid in your hands.
You can find my official review of The Hazel Tree here, and if you’d like to get to know the author better, you can check out her blog, her website, her Twitter, her Goodreads, or her Facebook page!