How To Make A TBR Jar

Spring is almost here! Or is here based on the weather in your area (it’s definitely nice out where we are). Which means it’s the perfect reading weather! Because all weather is the perfect reading weather. And you probably have a lot of books left over from all that awesome holiday money. And you probably still need supervision going to the bookstore because you can never have too many books. But now that TBR pile is growing. And you can’t decide what to read next off of it. It’s time to revive the TBR Jar.

Step 1: Get a jar

Any size will do! For this tutorial, I’m using a small 4oz jar.

Step 2: Decorate It!

Or don’t It’s up to you. I’ve seen some really pretty ones with lace and mod podge, but I went simple with some washi tape.

I used a stencil to right “To Be Read” on the jar and then again on the washi tape. To make sure the washi tape stays on the glass, its best to cover it in a layer of mod podge (may I suggest EXTREME GLITTER GLITTER or GLOW IN THE DARK).

Step 3: Add the titles.

Go to the papercraft section of any store and you’re bound to find some card stock. I went to AC MOORE (before the mass closing) and purchased a small stack of business card sized card stock. Pretty colors, already cut to size, and easily foldable.

Step 4: Drop them in the jar!

Place them in the jar and make sure to give it a good shake! To add to it you can add extra fun rewards for you pull out. I added:

  • Buy a new book
  • Buy a bookish tee-shirt
  • Rearrange your shelves
  • Listen to an audio book

TBR jars are also a great way to tackle your favorite challenges because you can use them to add bookish goals instead of titles. Just have fun!

How To Make Dragon Jars For Your Bookshelf

Spring is almost here and it’s high time to decorate your shelves accordingly. But we’re bookworms, not gardeners, and we like wyrms, not worms, so we should put together something adorable and easy to take care of while we finish a book or ten.

You Will Need

  • a mason jar (8oz)
  • some sort of fill
  • a flower/succulent sheet (can be found in the floral section of your favorite craft store)
  • a dragon figurine
  • fairy lights
  • a solar mason jar lid

Step 1: Remove Cat From Table

Repeat step throughout project as necessary.

Pick a Style and Follow Along

Hidden Hatchlings

Fill the mason jar up a little less than halfway. Don’t fill the jar more than halfway or there will be too much filler in the jar. Then tilt the jar so that the filler rides up the side.

The jar should be tilted about 45°. You don’t want to shake too much fillter away from the side of the jar or you’ll decrease the size of the wall.

Push the figure into the lower side of the filler.

Add the succulents/flowers in the wall of filler, keeping the jar tilted while you do. It’s best to dig the stem into the filler to the point that the top also rests in it.

The final step is to seal the jar. You may have to re-screw the lid on multiple times before the light sits correctly over the figurines.


Book Wyrm’s Reading Nook

If you’re not particularly crafty, this is the easiest option.

You will only need about an inch worth of fill for the dragon jar. You can do more if you wish, but definitely not less.

Place your succulents/flowers into the fill. Make sure to push them in so they hold they’re place.

Place your figure next to the succulents and push it into the fill. Place a dollhouse book in front of it to give it something to read.

Screw on the solar light lid! You won’t have to re-screw this one because there’s very little in the way to block the light. Good news for our little reading friend.


Little Book Wyrm’s Fairy Lit Nook

Remove the cat from the table. He’ll only get in the way.

The fairy lights have to go in first. This way they can be worked in with the succulents/flowers and figures instead of later knocking them over. Only add a few rings of lights as the rest will be above the filler.

Add about an inch of filler over the lights.

Curl the fairy lights around the succulent/flower stem before pushing it into the filler. You can also wrap the light through the leaves/petals to add more light around the objects.

Gently, work your figure through the wires from the lights and place it into the filler. To add the book, you may need to use tweezers to place and push it into the filler.

Guide the unprotected wire over the lip of the jar and pinch it to the rim. Then screw the lid on tight.

Glue the protected part of the wire around the lip, keeping it beneath the lid. Then guide the wire down the back of your jar and glue it in place.

Now the battery pack fits wherever you need to place it.

Make your own and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @BookedOwlNight!

What Bookimal Are You?

We’re tired of being labeled as worms, wyrms, or fire breathing dragons. We wanna be other bookish creatures. Adorable bookish creatures. So we outlined some for your viewing, saving, and sharing pleasure.

Book Owl

AKA: bookish owl, hoot’n’reader, know-it-owl

  • likes to stay up late to finish the page… err… chapter…. uhh book.
  • immediately has to tell everyone about the book they just finished
  • reads as many books as they can fit in their wingspan
  • tends to be very sleepy during the day (because of all the night reading)
  • eats mice

Owl did you know that I’m totally a #bookowl

Book Cat

AKA: pitter patter reading catter, page purrrruser, The Great Catsby, F. Scott Fitzferal, Shakespurr, Purrrnest Hemingway, Oedipuss

  • Enjoys offering you a new book and then bothering you constantly while you read it
  • Constantly plays with the tassel on their bookmarks
  • Greatly offended by dog eared pages
  • Mad at anyone who interrupts their reading time
  • Also eats mice

The #bookcat fits me purrrrrrfectly.

Book Rabbit

AKA: book bunny, page hopper, rabbit reader

  • Reads books lickity split
  • Often hops between the pages of two entirely different books
  • Really wants to tell you about the book they just finished… but… you know… quietly…
  • Prefers reading to company but will sit with company so long as company is quiet while reading is occurring
  • Prefers not to answer questions about the book they are reading until they’ve finished reading it.

I’m hopping mad that I’m a #bookrabbit

Book Fox

AKA: the foxy reader

  • Loves to burrow away and curl up with a good romance novel
  • Often heard screaming “OH FOR FOX SAKE!” when ships do not sail
  • Easily spooked when reading
  • Eats book bunnies

Oh for fox sake, I’m a #bookfox

Book Bat

AKA: the alphabat, the bat pack (when in groups)

  • Unusually batty about good books
  • Often just wings their book reviews
  • Enjoys reading but prefers audiobooks
  • Can listen to the same book more than once
  • Prefers odd reading positions, such as hanging upside down from the ceiling.

I’ll just be hanging around reading like the #bookbat I am.

Book Giraffe

AKA: a pain in the neck, a tall order

  • Enjoys long walks through the bookstore
  • Will proudly recommend a book to you and then watch over your shoulder while you read it
  • Always on the lookout for the next great story
  • Always orders a tall latte at Starbucks
  • Has a colossal TBR

Get me a tall latte, I’m totally a #bookgiraffe

Book Raccoon

AKA: trash panda, an adorable little trash fire, the garbage gang (when in a group), book-coon

  • Enjoys used books
  • Fervently into terrible stories with groan-worthy scenes
  • Loves puns
  • Stays up all night with the Book Owl, but only makes noise when looking for another book
  • Enjoys lending terrible books to good friends

My taste in literature is absolute garbage. I love being a #bookraccoon

Book Dog

AKA: a good boi, dog ears

  • Dog ears pages with good quotes on them
  • Loves to tell people about books
  • Really loves to tell people about books
  • Hey, did you read that book yet?
  • Because it was the best book
  • You should read it
  • Here, I’ll give you a copy
  • You should read it

Let me retrieve you a good book, like a good #bookdog

Which bookimal are you? Or did we miss you entirely? Let us know in the comments!

The Abyss Surrounds Us

24790901If there’s anything that can be said for me, is that I love my fiction to have a hearty dosage of pirates. And queer girls. And queer pirate girls. The Abyss Surrounds Us is that, and more. So much more.

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Cas became one of my absolute favorite characters in 2016. She’s smart, cunning and strong. She’s not afraid to face off against a pirate queen and a legion of pirates for what she believes is right. She’s loyal and best of all, queer. It’s always so hard to find good representation in fiction; but The Abyss Surrounds Us was great representation of lesbian and POC characters. There was nothing to not like about this book. Emily Skrutskie knows how to weave a good, action-packed story and can wrench your heart out of your chest with all the strength of a Reckoner pup.

The semi-futuristic not-quite dystopian setting was perfect for pirates and sea monsters. It felt a little old-timey and a little futuristic and it was totally perfect for the story.

Cas’s relationship to Swift, the pirate girl that’s meant to keep an eye on her when the pirates kidnap Cas, grows naturally and out of mutual respect and fondness. The possibility of Stockholm Syndrome and it’s problematic nature within the story is brought up between both characters. But it never comes to feel like Stockholm Syndrome is the reason these girls fall in love.

The whole story was tense–will Cas escape, will Bao survive, what’s going to happen to Cas and Swift–but the finale was quite possibly the tensest thing I’d read all year. Literally edge of my seat. Well, bed. You get the point.

The Abyss Surrounds Us is everything I ever could have wanted and more. This is the book you need on your shelves if you like pirates, sea monsters or queer representation. Perhaps all three.

My Rating: ★★★★★

The Hate U Give

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give blew up the book community when it released in February 2017, and for good reasons. The Hate U Give is an intense look into the lives of black kids living in a racist society that’s trying to keep them down. It was not only an incredibly well-written story that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, but it was also very heart-wrenching in a way that made me, a white woman, realize my privilege because I knew that I would never be found at the end of such an injustice.

In The Hate U Give we follow Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old girl from Garden Heights, a predominantly black community, as her life gets turned upside down when she’s the sole witness in the shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil. She’s pulled into the rollercoaster of the movement to give Khalil the justice he deserves.

The Hate U Give comes right on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, the largest movement of the current generation. It’s a must-read for anyone and everyone.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of contemporary stories. They’ve never been for me. I mainly read fantasy for the escapism, but when it comes to police brutality and the state of our world, there’s no place for escapism. The Hate U Give hooks you in and keeps you in the real world, a world where violence against children isn’t always met with the right justice, a world that can still have hope among all the darkness, a world worth fighting for.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

Bestseller and author of the popular middle grade series Confectionately Yours Lisa Papademetriou is back with a magical, page-turning adventure for readers of all ages—a touching tale about destiny and the invisible threads that link us all, ultimately, to one another.

Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first page—and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.

A heartfelt, vividly told multicultural story about fate and how our stories shape it.

Magic is my favorite thing in a story. I get to see how it works in the universe and how it affects the characters. Magic in a modern day world, like the one in A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, where cell phones and blogs make a regular appearance, always intrigues me. How will magic and technology interact? Will one negate the other, or will they work in highly unusual harmony?

I promise I’m not telling everyone how much I loved A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou because I met her during my first semester at Sierra Nevada College. It’s because the story of Kai and Leila is so heartfelt and runs much deeper than one might initially think.

Kai and Leila are both headstrong girls, lost in the surrounding newness they have found themselves in. Kai is on her own for the first time with her great-aunt in a town she’d never been to, and Leila is halfway across the world visiting family in Pakistan by herself for the first time. Then both girls find a magical book and a new story that connects them in an unusual and slightly magical way begins to unfold.

Leila gets herself into some trouble regarding a bad translation and a goat on her first time in town on her own. She has to find a way out of it and in the process changes from the self-conscious, self-doubting girl she was into a strong and well-rounded young girl.

Kai finds a friend with a strange obsession–moths, of all things!–and she finds the key to her friend’s success means revisiting her failures. When she travels down the hard path of her past, she finds it easier to navigate with a friend at her side.

I truly loved the interwoven stories of both Kai and Leila, not to mention the third story hidden within the Exquisite Corpse, the magic book. And while we don’t get a closed ending in A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, we do get an open ending: there are plenty of things that could happen after the closing of the story, lots of places for the reader to imagine the possibilities that might befall Kai and Leila after their jaunt with the Exquisite Corpse is all said and done. The only question is whether it’ll be highly unusual, or highly magical.

Freeks

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Magic abilities, a traveling performance troupe and a monstrous secret that could kill everyone sounds like the perfect recipe for a great story. That’s exactly what Amanda Hocking’s Freeks delivers!

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Mara is a no-nonsense type of girl; someone who gets the job done and makes sure everything is running smoothly. Which, when it comes to their magical band of performers, doesn’t always happen. Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow is often the source of ridicule for their strange and often freakish acts, but they always manage to draw a crowd.

Caudry is a small town in Louisiana and when Gideon’s troupe arrives, things seem to start bad and get worse. When members of the troupe start to get attacked by a mysterious creature, it takes everything within Mara and her family to not turn tail and run. Mara struggles with staying to settle down for a normal life with town hottie Gabe and sticking to her family and helping to uncover who–or what–is killing them.

A slow start that goes from 0 to 100 in 3.5 seconds when the first attack happens to one of Mara’s childhood friends, Freeks will consume you and your entire afternoon. Once I got to the meaty bits of the plot, I didn’t want to put the book down at all. Mara’s internal struggle and desire for a normal life was enough to carry me through the first few chapters, because I cared about Mara.

Hocking does a fantastic job about painting these characters and showing you their best and worst parts all at once. I wanted Mara to find her gift and a place within the troupe other than roadie. I wanted her to fall in love and lead a normal life (though, I mainly wanted her to fall in love with Gabe’s sister Selena, and not Gabe himself, but that’s just me).

Freeks had a great voice; Mara’s unique perspective and choice of snappy comebacks left me giggling and really enjoying the story even more. If you’re already a fan of Amanda Hocking’s work, this is a great addition to your library. If you love paranormal oddities and thrilling mysteries with a sprinkle of romance, Freeks ought to find its way onto your TBR list.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

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Bitter, bored, and sarcastic-Lizzie Lovett is a girl after my own heart. Want to go back to high school and talk to You: Senior Year Edition? Great. Because she’s in this book.

A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

You remember them. The popular kids. They had everything and nothing bad ever happened to them. Hawthorn had one direct interaction with Lizzie Lovett and held onto it in the darkest place in her heart.

And when Lizzie went missing-Hawthorn didn’t care… sort of.

With her wild imagination, Hawthorn believes she figures out what happened to local dream queen Lizzie Lovett, but as she immerses herself into Lizzie’s life she finds out she not only doesn’t know what happened recently, but she didn’t know much about this girl she came to loathe entirely.

Hawthorn latches onto a few surface items about Lizzie, namely her love of wolves, and concocts an entire-fantastical-story about her disappearance. This is really where The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett lost a star for me but after that arc is over I really enjoyed watching Hawthorn come to terms with herself and her prejudices against a girl she never knew.

The character’s journey is always so important and watching Hawthorn grow and realize that the things she originally thought Lizzie lied about were just things that contradicted the girl she’d made up in her head was great. I was also 100% creeped out and a little outraged to watch as Hawthorn moved in on Lizzie’s life. I thought we were going to get a flashback any moment and find out that Hawthorn was a murderer. Spoilers: she’s not. But The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett could absolutely have gone in that direction and I would have been fine with it.

How To Prioritize Your TBR

As Book Nerds, we have a problem. That problem is our ever growing, never shrinking TBR pile that now needs its own house with its own mortgage. To help, we’re going to use/alter/reference the KonMari method.

Relax! We aren’t going to make you keep a max or minimum amount of books. We know you can’t be contained.

Step 1: Tidy All at Once

Instead of moving over days and giving yourself time and excuses not to attack the dreaded TBR pile, give yourself one day. You aren’t going out. You aren’t watching Netflix. You aren’t going to the bookstore.

Let’s repeat for emphasis.

YOU. ARE. NOT. GOING. TO. THE. BOOK. STORE.

You are going through your TBR pile and finally determining which books will be read, and which books you know in your heart, will never be touched.

Step 2: Visualize the Destination

Think in concrete terms. Do you want to read more Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Contemporary? Thrillers? Figure out what you’re going to tend toward or whether you want to challenge yourself with a new genre and tell yourself to focus on those titles.

Step 3: Does it Spark Joy?

Well, does it? Did a friend recommend that title to you? Did you buy it at a con? Did you get it at a table where you met your favorite author?

Or did you stop by a booth, grab a book you knew you wouldn’t read, and then just chucked it on the pile?

Step 4: Tidy by Category.

Marie Kondo says to tidy by category, not location. As a Book Nerd myself, I’m positive that you have books all over the house. Track down one genre at a time and look through them. Are you going to read those? Or would they be better off being donated to a classroom library?

Step 5: Tidy in Order

The KonMari method has a checklist and so should you. No one knows your tastes better than you do so list out your top five genres and move through your books in that order. Don’t be afraid to separate them into sub-genres. Space sagas and futuristic dystopias are both sci-fi, but they aren’t the same.


After you’re done combing through the books you might read, take a look back at the ones you have read. If you find that you don’t need to keep those, consider donating them to any number of charities who give books to lower income schools and families.