Cover Wraps #1

Larger Blog Headers.png

This cover wraps is all about Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. Feel free to host your own edition of Cover Wraps, but please link back to me, or Magdalyn Ann, as the creator.

Each edition of Cover Wraps has:

  • a book which came out, or will come out, this month
  • a nail polish that goes with the cover
  • a nail wrap that goes with the cover

15837671.jpgSixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Continue reading “Cover Wraps #1”

Scheduling Content

Blog Features & Headers (6).png

If you think for a second that I wake up in the morning and type up and post my blogs at exactly 8am on the dot–you are–incredibly–wrong. All of my posts are scheduled, let me repeat that:

ALL. OF. MY. POSTS. ARE. SCHEDULED.

Reviews, book tags, TBRs, recaps, updates, all of it. All scheduled. In fact, right now. I have 25 days scheduled for December. A post a day for 25 days. It’s wonderful. My blog will run itself while I take a little break.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Scheduling your posts for the morning means they’ll already be up for you to schedule social media posts.
  • Scheduling posts for the morning also gives you more time to garner views.
  • Scheduling helps you to keep a steady schedule and also lets you stay ahead of the game. A few bulk days of drafting posts will make for a few easy months in which you can add more timely posts in between what you already have scheduled.
  • Reviews should be scheduled as soon as you finish so that the review goes up within 2 weeks of the book’s publication date.

On any blogging platform, you can schedule your post under post settings. For example, on WordPress, the schedule settings are on the right at the top of the drafting page; on Tumblr, they are beneath the post.

I try to fill out my months with at least 2 posts a week so that I can keep to a relatively steady posting schedule. Again, I highly recommend posting at least once a week when you start and building up to more.

There are many types of posts which can be anytime posts that you can use to fill out your schedule. I keep a running master list here. Take a quick look at it and then check back next week when I talk about formatting your posts.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm ★★★★★

phobeandherunicorn

LOVED THIS! Phoebe and Her Unicorn is one of my favorite middle grade comic series.

Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be, and that the storm may have a magical cause. To solve the case, they team up with Max, who is desperate for the electricity to return so he can play video games, and frenemy Dakota, who is aided by her goblin minions. Together, they must get to the bottom of the mystery and save the town from the magic storm.

If you haven’t checked out the other Phoebe and Her Unicorn books or checked out the weekly strip on DanaSimpson.com, then go do that RIGHT NOW.

Phoebe and Marigold are the new Calvin and Hobbes. Period. End review.

But in all seriousness, I have yet to read a Phoebe and Marigold story that didn’t make me laugh out loud. They are equal parts hilarious and educational, complete with a list of vocabulary words that may be above grade level for some readers.

If I had children, these would be a staple before bedtime for us.

Pub Date: October 17, 2017

Your First Book Review

Blog Features & Headers (2).png

The time has come for your first review! Hooray! It’s time to tell the world how you felt about that book. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you feel… nothing? All very important. I have a few rules about reviews that I think most, if not all, newbie book bloggers should listen to:

Reviewing Etiquette

#1 Do Not Insult The Team

A lot of work goes into a book, even the bad ones. There is no reason to attack the author, the editors, the cover artist, or the company. Period.

#2 Say It Professionally

Even if you hated every aspect of the book, there is a professional way to present that. There is no reason to say things like “it belongs in the trash,” and if you feel the need to say that period, refer to rule #1.

#3 Be Honest and Kind

Bit of a blend from #1 and #2. Don’t lie and say that you enjoyed the book when you clearly didn’t. No one is asking you to lie about your opinion. But be clear about what bothered you or bored you without being insulting.

Writing Out Your Thoughts

I see a lot of first reviews that come out sounding like a book report. Book reviews are not book reports. You can sum up the plot with the back copy and move straight into your review.

My reviews tend to be a little formulaic, as do most bloggers’. It tends to follow as such:

  • An overall statement about your feelings on the book
  • A summary/the back copy (which you can copy from GoodReads)
  • What you liked
  • What you didn’t like

Remember to be specific about both what you did and did not like. There is a difference between “I liked the setting” and “I liked the island setting” and “I liked the fantasy isle and how vivid the author’s description was of the plants and wildlife.”

Starring System

Most bloggers use a starring system. Some bloggers make their own images for their stars (or popsicles, or owls, or glasses of wine, etc) but I prefer to use emojis/symbols in my post so that I know it will show up on every device. Specifically, I use these: ★☆½.

Obviously, your view of what deserves four and five stars may differ from mine but here are my criteria for my reviews.

☆☆☆☆☆

Well this was just terrible and highly problematic. I found little to nothing of merit in it.

★☆☆☆☆

Also terrible, but I found one or two things which worked well. Most of the time, when I give a one star review, I usually enjoyed what they were trying to do but found the execution done poorly.

★★☆☆☆

One or two things caught my eye but much of this book was problematic. I may have enjoyed the ideas but not the writing or set-up.

★★★☆☆

Only a few problems and otherwise a good and compelling read. The bulk of my reviews tend to be three stars. Many bloggers fall here with a “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it” sort of mentality.

★★★★☆

I definitely recommend reading this book! It was really good and you should give it a chance. You will love it if you love X genre.

★★★★★

Everyone needs to read this book. I don’t care who you are, pick it up and devour it.

Some bloggers break their reviews up into sections and star multiple points of the book including:

  • Cover Art
  • Opening
  • Ending
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Couldn’t Put It Down-ness
  • Intellectual Depths

Personally, I think one rating is enough, but it’s really up to you and what you like about the books.

Voyage to Avalon ★★★★☆

33913965An adorable tail (ha!) of an Arthurian Redwall.

A mysterious curse sparks a dangerous quest in book two of the epic middle grade series ALA Booklist called “a charming blend of Arthurian legend and Brian Jacques’s Redwall series.”

Young mouse Calib Christopher has nearly completed his training to become a squire to the Knights of Camelot when news of a deadly plague reaches the castle. Soon all of Camelot is showing signs of the illness, animals and humans alike. Desperate to find a cure, Calib and his friend Cecily set off on a voyage to find the healing land of Avalon. But even as their journey takes them over land and sea, back at home, Calib’s human friend Galahad discovers that the true enemy may have already found a way inside the castle walls.…

Perhaps my favorite part of Leung’s series is that these character are not King Arthur’s court of mice. These mice, and other critters, live in the castle at Camelot and help to protect the kingdom unbeknownst to the two-leggers, which allows for Leung to create characters that are all her own.

When Voyage to Avalon begins, the mice are finishing the harvest festival trials which were interrupted in the the first book. I had to wonder why Calib wasn’t made a knight after the events of the first novel though. Imagine saving the kingdom just for everyone to turn around and say, “Nah, son. You still need to drag these stones across the courtyard.”

It really slowed down the opening for me, but don’t worry, it wasn’t slow for long.

We get thrust into all sort of Arthurian tropes throughout the rest of the book including a certain son of a king and a lady of the lake.

Just like book #1, Voyage to Avalon is an adorable read with beautiful descriptions… especially of the food. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a craving for some bread and a nice hot cocoa.

National Book Award Finalists

Larger Blog Headers (2).png

Winners will be announced at the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 15. The ceremony will be streamed via Facebook Live and also available at our website.

Elana K. ArnoldWhat Girls Are Made Of
Carolrhoda Lab / Lerner Publishing Group

Robin BenwayFar from the Tree
HarperTeen / HarperCollinsPublishers

Erika L. SánchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
Amistad / HarperCollinsPublishers

Ibi ZoboiAmerican Street
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollinsPublishers

2017 Night Owls

Larger Blog Headers

We’ll be hosting a little end of the year award ceremony AND GIVEAWAY over at Booked All Night. Help us compile our nominees for the best books of 2017! Just add the title and the author into the box and hit submit! If you want to add a category just let me know in the comments!

When we begin voting on Black Friday we’ll also be taking entries in a giveaway for some Booked All Night swag and a few of the winning books so keep an eye out!

Entries close midnight EST Halloween. Voting opens November 24th, 2017 and will close December 25th, 2017. Tune into the New Year’s Eve podcast to find out which titles won the Night Owl!

Requesting ARCs

Blog Features & Headers (3)

Everyone loves reading books before they come out! I know I do! But how do we book bloggers get our hands on advanced reader copies? Let me count the ways.

#1 NetGalley/Edelweiss and Other Services

NetGalley, Edelweiss, First to Read, and many other programs offer a way for you to get an e-galley of the book before publication. It will be delivered to your kindle or nook for your reading pleasure. Because you are getting a galley, chances are there will be mistakes in the copy, so try not to hold them against the book when you review it.

#2 Conventions

I attend BookCon every year and run around to the many booths to get my grubby little hands on advanced copies. When you get a physical ARC, they have information for who to contact with a review and when to post it on the back cover. Which brings us to the next way to get an ARC.

#3 Contact the Publisher/Agent

As you review more you will make contacts with publishers, agents, and authors. You can reach out to them to request specific copies of books. I personally request from Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, and the New Leaf Literary Agency. I have made these contacts at conventions. Continue reading “Requesting ARCs”

September Wrap-Up

Larger Blog Headers.png

In my personal life…

In just 18 days, I’m getting MARRIED! And that is insane. As is all the work we still have left to do for it. The dresses are in, the suits have been purchased, the caterer has been paid, the baker too, and even the hall is paid up. We still need to meet with the Pastor to just go over some last minute details and figure out the girls’ hair all of which seems like life or death.

Having a few anxiety disorders on top of this certainly is not helping. I’ve had more than my fair share of panic attacks this last month which has absolutely effected my schoolwork.

In my writing life…

I fixed 20 pages and wrote 20 more, but I’m really stuck in my current WIP. I blame the wedding, but I also don’t blame the wedding because I’ve been stuck for a pretty long time.

I didn’t actually complete my packet this month. Specifically, I didn’t write my craft paper. I’m not totally sure what to write it on. I’m supposed to bring it up from issues in my own work but my issues with my work don’t feel writing related.

Maybe I’ll address multigenre pieces and how they add a level of interaction to the piece. I mean they do right. I actually love multigenre things and interactive new media campaigns. Does anyone remember the Dark Knight campaign? You could call up Domino’s Pizza and they’d answer Gotham City Pizza, all the social accounts and web pages slowly became “Joker-ized” as it got closer to release date, and even the commercials started having the Joker fuzz his way through to deliver a special message. That’s amazing! It gives it a real world feel.

Heck, even some books have done. A.V Geiger’s Follow me Back (which I didn’t completely enjoy) has the Twitter accounts used in the book. I think I’ve inadvertently found my craft paper topic.

In my reading life…

I have read so many books thus far this year. I’ve read 82 of the 50 I pledged in my GoodReads challenge. 82. And I will probably double that by the time the year is over.

ARCs I’ve Requested/Been Approved For

On the blog…

I’ve also set up 25 Days of BookRecs for December to autopost while I take a true vacation from the blog. I still need to fill up November though so feel free to tag me in some BookTags!

My September Reviews

 

This Darkness Mine ★☆☆☆☆

9780062561596_305afI requested it because it was weird, and I like weird, but I don’t know… I just wasn’t feeling this.

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

I sat on this one for a while. I mean, did I want to read a book that was going to so obviously end with split personalities? The longer I waited to pick it up the less interested I became in actually getting it off my review list.

And then I finally bit the bullet and opened it up.

The writing was confusing, at best. When it wasn’t confusing it was boring.

Part of what made my eyes roll is that Sasha is suddenly portrayed as “bad” the minute she has sex and the reason her unborn twin sister has any control is because Sasha absorbed her heart in the womb. Like I said, it’s “twist” is exactly what you thought it’d be.

I was really pushed out of the story for these issues, as well as the writing, and ultimately, I skipped around a lot just to look for the ending to confirm what I thought was going to happen.

And I want to put this out there: the synopsis says This Darkness Mine is about a “a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.” Being sexually active does not make you bad. The end.