Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

I LOVED this book. I know that not everyone who reads it will love it in the way that I did, mainly because this book hit my two main teenage/college hobbies: camping and singing. Not only that but Ingrid’s journey and trials were told through her experiences in these activities, making her connections with the outdoors and with her life in music even stronger. If you’re thinking about reading this book, let me give you a little bit of a synopsis:

257521542Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined is told from Ingrid’s point of view, but through two different timelines: one as she is growing up with her opera star-gone wrong mother, and one in the present on a month long wilderness survival-turned disaster trek she wasn’t quite expecting. Growing up, Ingrid and her mother lived a wonderful life, with Margot-Sophia Lalange performing in the spotlight of the great opera houses until she does exactly what she knows not to do–she over sings and does not take care of her voice thus resulting in vocal nodes and the end of her career. Ingrid’s mother becomes bitter regarding music and theater, and the glamorous life ends. Ingrid struggles to fit in at school and she grows up taking care of her mother. Eventually, a role in the school play and (of course) a boy will change many things for both Ingrid and her mother.

5-star ratings are very difficult to earn from me, but I’m feeling generous today and I will round up a 4.6 rating on this one to a 5 for a few reasons. First of all, the wilderness survival camp is one for at-risk teens and while Ingrid didn’t feel that she wasn’t “at-risk” so she didn’t need to be there, she still toughened up and took it like a champ. I think that a lot of her thought processes were exactly like mine would have been (I won’t really give more information than that because it’s part of the humor and charm [lol…sass?] of Ingrid). Second, the way that passion for music and performing on stage is described. How you get up on stage and more or less don’t always know if you did well or not. Or Margo-Sophia’s phrases like “You did well last night but today you must be better. Always better.” In some ways she often comes across as self-centered but her career and that state of mind was her entire life. It was her state of mind for years. It was hard to see her discourage Ingrid from pursuing music but she was completely horrified for her. The one thing I did NOT like was how Ingrid treated Isaac after the show and the incident with the other girl. I didn’t think that blaming him so strongly was fair at all and I hated that. I thought that was the big chink in the book for me. And the end, of course, is a cryfest and my biggest weakness in books. It could have been more played up but I think it was just the right amount considering the characters so I say it was very well done. Overall, wonderful book. It is one that I highly recommend.

–I was given a copy of this book by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review–

Book soundtrack: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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ARC August Update

Hello, everyone! Its about halfway through August, so I am figuring that now is a good time to officially declare my goals and update my status for the ARC August event. So here is what I am working with:

Physical ARCs:

  • The Best Kind of Magic ✔
  • Little & Lion
  • The Spellbook of Lost and Found
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass
  • First We Were IV ✔

eARCs

  • Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined – in progress
  • Assaulted Caramel
  • Grave Errors
  • Meddling Kids – in progress
  • A Conspiracy in Belgravia

 

The ten on my list are the ten being published the soonest, or whose dates have just passed and I need to get my reviews in to the publishers/Netgalley (oops!). Basically the ones that I need to catch up and keep up on. Finishing all ten would be a dream, but if I finish half of them I’ll be pretty happy. As always, the more the merrier.

Are you participating in ARC August? What are your goals? How is your progress?

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Tag Tuesday: The TBR Tag

Happy Tag Tuesday, everyone! Today’s tag is The TBR Tag and it is brought to you by the darling Maggie @ The Caramel Files. She did this one a few weeks ago and now its my turn!

How I Keep Track of My TBR Pile: My TBR is A) on my bookshelves and B) on my Goodreads account….and its a very big list!

Is My TBR Mostly Print or E-books: Honestly its hard to say. I went to one book convention and have gone on several book buying binges, but most of the ARCs I get are ebooks.

How I Determine Which Book From My TBR to Read Next: I consider mostly ARC deadlines, any challenges I’m doing, and what season it is and what I’m in the mood for.

A Book That Has Been on My TBR the Longest:

6493208 – Since 1/2/12

A Book That I Recently Added to My TBR:

335741431 – Added 8/6/17

A Book on My TBR Strictly Because it Has a Beautiful Cover:

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A Book on My TBR That I Never Plan on Actually Reading:

17926775 – I mean, maybe. It has a good rating but it is super-low on my list of priorities.

An Unpublished Book on My TBR That I’m Excited for:

32336276 – Of course. Coming soon!!

A Book on My TBR That Everyone Has Read but Me:

7896527 – Wow, old cover!

A Book on My TBR That Everyone Recommends to Me:

16096824 – Yes, this is on my TBR!

A Book on My TBR That I’m Dying to Read:

22055262 – I know, I am so behind on all the goods!!

The Number of Books on My TBR:

1,112 on my Goodreads TBR list. Who knows how many on my shelves!! How about you?

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Sunshine (Award) Sunday!

Hi everyone! Starting today off on a high note…I was nominated by Emma at Reading Through the Night for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thanks Emma! Its always nice to be thought of and recognized in the blogging community!

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The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

The Questions:

  1. What are some TV shows or movies that you would recommend? Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Grimm, Riverdale
  2. For each of the shows or movies you listed above recommendation a similar book: Dead After Dark; Heartless; When It’s Real; The Best Kind of Magic; All Things New
  3. Do you have any reading habits? (like reading with candles or in the bath etc) I read 2-4 books at a time–one physical book, 1-2 books on my iPad, and usually one audiobook
  4. What is the last book you went to a bookshop and bought? A neat illustrated version of Alice and Wonderland
  5. Do you tend to reread books? Sometimes, but usually I just have so many new things to read.
  6. Do you use goodreads? If so how do you use it? Yes! I use it for group reads and sometimes challenges or readathons
  7. What is the thinnest book on your shelf? Maybe a novella?
  8. What are your favorite fantasy/sci-fi diverse reads? I like paranormal mysteries and some romances so things by Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris
  9. What are some of your least favorite book covers? The Bloodlines covers and Vampire Academy covers
  10. Do you annotate or tab your books? If so how? (I am considering doing this myself) Right now I don’t but like you, I am considering tabbing quotes.
  11. Who are some characters you relate to? I relate to characters with anxiety, but I also tend to stay away from those books if I can.

I Tag:

My questions:

  1. What is your favorite genre to read?
  2. What is your least favorite genre to read?
  3. What book character(s) do you think would be your best friend?
  4. What book character(s) would you most like to meet for a day?
  5. If you could explore any bookish world, which would it be?
  6. If you could turn any book/book series into a movie or TV series, what would it be?
  7. If you could UNMAKE any bookish movie or TV series, what would it be?
  8. If you could play the part of a bookish character in a film regardless of your gender of appearance, who would it be?
  9. What format do you mostly read your books in? (ebook, audio, etc.)
  10. How many books do you read at one time?
  11. What is your reading goal for this year?

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First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

20795198_995366038329_2075362817_oThis book has me left with mixed emotions! No, scratch that. This book has left me an emotional wreck! Let me first say that I am a big fan of thrillers and there aren’t too many in the YA genre so when one releases, I am ON IT! I dove into First We Were IV with a fiery fury. Pranks, secrets, a murder mystery…all the yes!!

Here comes the actual synopsis: Izzy (often called “Icky” by the popular kids in school), Viv, Graham, and Harry are best friends. They only have each other and are often pushed around by their peers, some rivalries even stemming back as far as elementary school. NO MORE, they decide. So this, coupled with the fact that the four best friends will soon be parting ways for college, leads them to form the Order of IV, a “secret society” of the four friends created for pranks, fun, and forever memories. All they wanted was to be included in parties and to keep in touch. Of course that’s not how it ends. Of course it escalates….and I’ll let you read all of that for yourself.

So in my opinion, the beginning is interesting, and the ending rocked me to my core. The middle 300 pages were filled with 95% eye-rolling drama and 5% interesting plot. For me, the murder mystery with Jane Doe was so disconnected from the central characters….I just didn’t understand why Izzy cared so much to begin with. Maybe if the incident occurred a week ago, or if it was her cousin she was seeking justice for, or if she really had PTSD. I’m not trying to be cold or like I don’t care about missing persons cases but really, there was no real reason why Izzy cared. I don’t get it! Harry had a reason to want to pursue crimes against his father, yet they didn’t pursue those. I get that. But Izzy was selfish. This was hugely unsettling (and mildly boring and even confusing) to me.

While I didn’t like this, it was also an ironic point in the book. Live in the moment. Just be with your friends and loved ones. When friends are so loved and so close like this group is, there shouldn’t be competition of who loves who more; of who was friends first, or of which memories are better or stronger. Just make the most of everything. Bullies and adults will do what they will but you have each other and that is the strongest thing and that is better than anything than they will ever know (haven’t you seen Harry Potter? lol – just kidding). So that’s what I felt was a theme, who knows if that was an actual intent of the author.

MAJOR SPOILER IN WHITE – WARNING – DON’T HIGHLIGHT UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK – FINAL NOTE: HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH ALL OF THAT? NO WAY! WHAT?! 

Soundtrack: “Your Song” by Elton John

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Tag Tuesday: Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Hi, everyone! Its Tuesday again. We made it through Monday and are one step closer to Friday. I don’t really mind the weekdays too much but I know some people are constantly counting them down. Well, participating in tags always helps pass the time, doesn’t it? I was tagged by my friend Sarah at Book Hooked Nook to do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. Now, I realize we’re just a bit past mid-year at this point but too bad! Never too late to have a bit of fun! 😉

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017. I have two candidates for this but I’m doing my best to choose one for each category. I choose The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. Here is why: first off, it was a pleasant surprise. I was chosen to read an ARC from Penguin’s First to Read site and I didn’t have very high expectations because her first book didn’t have that high of a Goodreads rating (I think it was at a 3.7 or something, which to me is a take-it-or-leave-it rating). Secondly, I liked it because I was hooked from the very beginning with a fable about trees. I love trees and fables and mythologies. The whole story was beautiful and I devoured it. Third, I was given a free copy to read and I ended up buying a hard copy for myself. I can’t say that about the other book I was considering. So this one wins the prize.

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2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017. Again, another book more or less involving Middle-Eastern settings, fables, and adventures. My enjoyment of this book is more character-driven, as Khalid is definitely among my book boyfriends (yum!) but the writing is definitely beautiful and it put Renee Ahdieh on my watchlist of authors.

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3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to. Ok, first off, looking at the cover on a screen does it no justice. There are little stars in the tree and they sparkle (I mentioned before that I love trees? I wasn’t kidding).  Second, it’s a novel revolving around summer camp. I pretty much grew up at summer camp and my heart still lives there. And third, all the feels. I am a sucker for this type of book. This will be my jam. And Emery Lord? I have heard all the things. This book must be read by me while the crickets are still a-chirping outside my window.

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4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. Beautiful cover. Intriguing synopsis. This is screaming Interstellar to me. It probably will be nothing like that, but still….super cool.

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5. Biggest disappointment. Ugh. I don’t even want to talk about this.

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6. Biggest surprise. See #1.

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7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you) This book was amazing. Read it.

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8. Newest fictional crush. 2 words: Oakley. Ford.

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9. Newest favourite character. 2 words: Oakley. Ford. Am I having de ja vu??

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10. Book that made you cry. Again with the de ja vu. READ THIS BOOK. Seriously. I will now reveal that this was my second contender for best book so far of 2017. It was so good. I haven’t gotten around to buying a copy yet, but its mainly because I am currently unemployed and I just don’t have the funds. But I know that as soon as I do, I am going to practically sleep with it. I will probably re-read it as soon as I get it, and I will cry all over again. Seriously, this book is so beautiful. Read it and love it and lose your soul in it. So worth it.

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11. Book that made you happy. OMG. Iko. Just….Iko. She is the best character. If I didn’t already enjoy this series, I love it all the more now that I read this graphic novel. And let me just say that this was my first graphic novel, and I really enjoyed it! I literally laughed out loud multiple times. It was really great.

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12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year. I have been absolutely slacking in this department. I did see “Beauty and the Beast” and no, that is not my answer. Yes, I liked it and no, that is still not my answer. Maybe I am biased but Anne of Green Gables/Anne with an ‘E’ just holds such a special place in my heart. I loved the show!

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13. Favourite review you’ve written this year. I just really like this cover, the fact that it has the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel (can you tell I’m from Chicagoland?), and I got to put milkshakes in it!

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14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received). Umm, do I really need to explain this cover buy?? ….didn’t think so.

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15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? So these are my literal need to reads, as in, obligated for Netgalley or other review websites. Of course there are more and I have many other ARCs sitting around, AND I have a TBR of my own but I know you all know how all of this goes.

33835806 23113602 32905343  25752154 274260441

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As I mentioned before, I know its late in the year so if, by this point in the year you have NOT done this mid-year tag, consider yourself officially TAGGED!

Today’s Listening: “Charlie Boy” by The Lumineers

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“The Best Kind of Magic” by Crystal Cestari

There is so much that I loved about this book!! ‘Windy City Magic #1’ felt like a cozy mystery for teens and it was my JAM!!! Or you could look at it as Urban Fantasy/Romance for teens just the same. A couple of my little pet peeves showed up and made my eyeballs twitch a bit, but overall, I can’t wait for the second book! Or third or fourth! Let me first give a brief synopsis, and then I’ll cover my opinions:

25436641The Best Kind of Magic gives us a tour of all kinds of magic in the Windy City of Chicago. We see goblins, fairies, leprechauns, werewolves, vampires, sirens, and of course, witches. Amber Sand is a not a witch. Her mother is, but Amber is a matchmaker, meaning that she can look into people’s eyes and see their true love. One day, the mayor’s son (who is also the most talked-about boy in school) comes in to visit Amber at her mother’s shop, Windy City Magic, and requesting her help in finding his father’s missing girlfriend. Thus begins an adventure with romance, humor, bad guys, a twist and a turn and a to be continued in book 2!! (not a cliffhanger! This book wraps up nicely…..mostly.)

The first thing I liked about this book was the genre feel. I am a sucker for a cozy mystery, I enjoy paranormal romances, and then put those things in a YA format….have I died and gone to heaven?! Almost too good to be true. I loved it. I wish there was more of this writing out there. So with this genre comes the characters. There was a good mix of humans and paranormals. I liked how Amber and her mother, and even their coven, had a certain struggle with Amber’s matchmaking talents. It was a very different and clever spin on the traditional “coming of age story” that you usually get in YA books and I really liked that. Amani (Amber’s best friend) has her own struggles with her magical gifts of being a precog. Their friendship in the book is wonderful, by the way. I just saw a meme the other day that went something like this:

Friend: Oh, I’m so sorry, what can I do?
Best friend: 1/2 price shakes at Sonic. Get your butt in the car, I’m driving!
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That’s the kind of friends Amber and Amani are. Partially because of their mystic powers and partially because they are comfortable and secure in their own selves (which other high school students find “weird” and “different” of course), the two friends are outcasts and have a very close friendship. Back on track. Charlie is a human and he does a great job taking in everything in the PRN world. You almost wonder every once in a while if he and his father have trace amounts of supernatural in their blood somewhere. Of course, the biggest wrench in the story comes when Amber sees that Charlie’s match is not her, but could she be wrong? That’s why we’re eagerly awaiting book 2!

Ok, I will speak of my one biggest pet peeves that occurred in this book: immature language. I hate when authors frequently use immature language. If you want to call it that. To me, its almost Valley Girl…rich snob…Pretty Little Liars…I barely hear kids talking like that and I work in a private high school myself. Granted, not in Chicago, but in Northern Illinois within 60 miles of Chicago. I do not hear students commonly using the words “natch” instead of natural (I’ve never heard that), or “cas” for casual (I have heard this, but not frequently). In the first 100 pages of the book when we are first meeting the characters, this kind of abbreviated language is EVERYWHERE. It DEFINES Amber’s personality and sense of humor. Toward the middle, it fades out and she is more just sarcastic and witty with Charlie but in the beginning, we are NOT talking to a lowly girl. I just didn’t see her as having that much of a consistent attitude. Ivy, the blonde cheerleader mean girl? For sure. But Amber? No. I hated that. I like to read full English words and sentences. Maybe that’s the adult in me reading a YA novel so excuse this paragraph if so. But I’m just saying. I HATE abbreviated teen-speak. Ugh! Not appropriate for books, IMO.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Soundtrack: “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas

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“Confess” by Colleen Hoover

(NOTE: This review contains no spoilers.) Oh, Colleen Hoover. You know how to tug on some heartstrings. This book is titled “Confess” because there literally are confessions throughout the book that are based on real-life confessions gathered by the author herself. Some are happy, while some are the stuff of nightmares.

22609310Confess begins with 15 year-old Auburn saying goodbye to her dying boyfriend, Adam. We really don’t get many details of their past or even their present, other than that they are very much in love and they are being torn apart in his last few days. Five years later, Auburn has her life together, but yet not. On her way home one day, she stumbles across a “help wanted desperately needed immediately” sign and the artist posting the sign, Owen, has troubles of his own. She ends up working for him anyway ($200 for 2 hours of work at his gallery showing) and they go our for a drink afterward and the rest of the book is history.

In this book, I actually really liked Auburn and found her to be a very realistic female character. I felt that she acted towards both Owen and Trey (the jealous, jerky competition cop in the book) in a reasonable and responsible way. She was never only thinking of herself. Often we sacrifice ourselves for those we love, and she did not only that, but she ultimately was smart about it and came out on top. Thankfully she had a good roommate, a good boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s father got his head out of his ass and all came out for the best.

14043302As for Owen, he was a little less realistic to me. Don’t get me wrong–I loved him. If a man this sweet and this caring and this amazing(ly hot) exists, I’ll take him! But he was mushy gushy from the first second and that was his “confession” (and his secret…which he never, throughout the entire book, told Auburn….stalker much?). So that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. No, he never hurt her. No, he never did anything against her will, but he called it “fate” and left it at that. But its one-sided fate. Does that count? I don’t know, its still messed up to me. Part of it is so sweet. Seriously, that ending! A punch to the gut!! BUT AUBURN WILL NEVER KNOW!!!! That is so not fair, in my opinion. I hate that. I think its sweet. So, yes, I’m a little frustrated.

So basically, if you want to know what Owen’s confession is, you’ll have to read the book for yourself because this review contains NO SPOILERS. And with that, my friends, I leave you. =]

Listening to: “No Stopping You” by Brett Eldredge

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Upcoming Challenges & Readathons

All right, friends, I am charging ahead at full speed with my reading. I found myself some more mischief to get into (wink-wink). I’ll start small and get big.

20616344_992337268009_763503611_oSo first off, for this week, I am participating in the #Alphabethon . This is the third year for the event, which was created by @banterbooks. This round’s “theme” revolves around the letter C so all books should be connected to the letter C somehow. Author, character, title, setting, cover item, etc. There are seven challenges going on throughout the week as well as sprints being hosted through Twitter and overall it seems fun! I have already posted my TBR and completed one challenge (read a book in a location that begins with ‘C’ other than a couch for an hour…I read in my car).

For the first two weeks in August, I am participating in the #Unhaulathon . Since I am on a buying ban for this month, this is a great time for me to participate in a challenge and readathon like this. Basically, the goal of the readathon is to read books that have been on my TBR for over a year. The hosts encourage readers to then “unhaul” (give away, sell, trade, etc.) books once we finish them or decide we just won’t get around to reading them…but I doubt I will be going that far. I recently went through a culling of my shelves so I’m in a pretty good place. However, I do have plenty of books on my shelves to choose from and I do not need to buy more right now as much as all of the new releases (and old releases and just all books in general) I see are tempting. So that’s that. I have not come up with an “official” TBR for this readathon yet, though I plan to within the next couple of days.

The final event I am signed up for (so far) is ARC August. As the title suggests, this runs all month. I will dedicate a full post to this within the next few days as I round up the ARCs that I have that are “due” in August and early September that I will be prioritizing. I have a couple that I am really excited about. I will aim a little high, knowing that I probably won’t hit them all.

And there you have it, folks. That’s how August is rolling in! Let’s keep it strong, shall we? Game on!

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#TagTuesday – New Blogger Tag

69e8e-bellebooksTechnically I am not new to blogging. I started up in March I believe, so it has been about five months now. However, I’d still like to put down a little bit about my bookish background and invite any new or new-ish bloggers who stumble across my blog to do the same for themselves! Consider yourselves officially TAGGED!

  1. Why did you start this blog? I started this blog because I was joining Netgalley to review Advanced Reader Copies of books and they recommended having a blog. Blogging was something I had been wanting to do for a long time anyway since I had been actively writing reviews on Goodreads, so starting an official blog was an easy next step.
  2. What are some fun and unique things you bring to book blogging? I knew when I started my blog that I needed to do something unique that would set me apart from all the other millions of blogs out there, especially in the YA world. So what I do that is different from the other blogs out there, is try to put a ‘soundtrack’ with every book that I review. I am a musician, so at the end of each review I write, I put a “listening to” selection. Every one of these I am literally listening to, yes, but I chose to listen to it specifically because I believe that it relates to the book whether because of the vibe, the beat, because it was mentioned in the book, the lyrics were mentioned, or something like that.
  3. What are you most excited about with this new blog? Like I just described in my last answer, I am doing something a little different with my blog and I am really excited about it. I am also running a “Bookstagram,” a Twitter, and my account on Goodreads, so I am also really looking forward to being active in the bookish community and meeting new people who are passionate about reading.
  4. Why do you love reading? I love reading because of the power of words. I believe that we need to learn from what we read and use that to be present in the world that we live in now. We cannot sit idly by and be controlled by those who would take advantage of us.
  5. What book or series got you into reading? I remember reading and being read to a lot as a kid. My grandmother ran a small book business out of her home part-time, and my mom also read to me a lot. I remember reading the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Junior High a lot when I was pretty young, but I was still a pretty casual reader. The first book that I know I waited in line for and pre-ordered was, of course, Harry Potter. I stayed up all night and read it with my friends while we all worked at summer camp together. It was so fun.
  6. What questions would you ask your favorite authors? I am always so curious how people (whether it be authors or musicians or artists) develop such elaborate things in their minds. Its just so amazing to me. As a musician, I can interpret music all day long, but I CAN NOT write it. I have no sense of creativity for making it up and just pulling it out of nowhere so I just have so much respect for people who do. So its the same thing for writers. We can read and read and read, or even blog our opinions all day long, but creative writing and story telling is way more difficult!
  7. What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome? Starting a blog is difficult first of all in getting the look and the feel right. I know I still don’t have mine quite how I want it. Also, getting the follower count up. Its a process that just happens little by little.
  8. When did you start reading? I started reading when I was pretty little. I remember my grandma reading to me. She would fall asleep during a story and I would nudge her awake and tell her “I think you need some coffee!” And I was literally, what, 4 years old? I remember my mom wanting to read Misty of Chincogeague with me (I still don’t really remember reading it, but I remember the title!).
  9. Where do you read? Mostly I read either in my reading chair or in my bed. I also like reading outside (I have a nice reading blanket) or on our couch.
  10. What kind of books do you read? Books that sound interesting to me. I have a particular interest in YA books, especially in the contemporary, fantasy/sci-fi, or historical fiction settings. I also really like mystery/thrillers, literary fiction, urban fantasy, and some romance.

And there you have it folks! So as I said, if you are reading this and you have not completed this TBR tag, consider yourself TAGGED! Or just leave me a comment telling me something about yourself, or a link to your own post, so that I can learn about you, too. I’d love to meet you!

Listening to: “Strangers” by The Kinks

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