Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves – July 3

Stacking the Shelves

Hello there! Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Usually a weekly meme, mine pop up on a monthly basis. These are the books I’ve acquired since the June edition.


Bought

122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Shizzle, Inc by Ana Spoke

To the Sea by Dierdre Riordan Hall

In the Desert by Dierdre Riordan Hall

The Love Square by Jessica Calla

Passing Notes by D.G. Driver

Borrowed

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Advance Copies

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer [Review]

The Memory Of Us by Camille Di Maio [Review]

Given/Won

The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice

The Island by S. Usher Evans

The Chasm by S. Usher Evans

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin

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What books have you acquired recently?

Personal

#NTTBF16 Recap

Wow, I know this is a little late, but better late than never, right?

I was lucky enough to be an attendee at the North Texas Teen Book Festival again this year. I also had the fortune to attend the luncheon and panels on the educator day with my mother-in-law.

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Mother-In-Law meeting Jonathan Maberry

I enjoy so much getting to listen to the authors speak about doing what they love, but also being reminded that they are human and have struggles, just like the rest of us.

One of the things that is interesting to hear is how these authors, all of them successful, all have different processes. (If you want to know how I feel about that, check out these posts.)

Here are some of the other tidbits I gleamed from NTTBF this year.

STORY 1 -Fiercely Fantastic Panel – ON STORIFY

STORY 2 – Paranormal Tendencies Panel – ON STORIFY

And of course, listening to these authors make me want to read their books. Some of those I’ve added to my list are Cindy Pon, Jonathan Maberry, Sarah Rees Brennan (she was added last year, I still haven’t got to her books), and Natalie Lloyd (my understanding is that her books are more MG, but I don’t mind 😉 )

Since I’m writing this at such a late date, it may be fun to add that while I was at Dallas Fan Expo, I wore by NTTBF shirt and promoted it to the local teens that stopped by the booth.

I love this event. I look forward to one day being able to volunteer to help (I hope).

Personal · This Week's Five!

This Week’s Five!!!

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Whew! What a week! Here are five things that made it great!

  1. The lovely S. Usher Evans stayed with me this weekend. She was at the Dallas Fan Expo giving her award-winning schpiel to anyone she could grab long enough to listen. I helped her out on Saturday and Sunday, and it was just awesome to see her work! I hope everyone that grabbed her books enjoys them as much as I do.
  2. Also awesome was sharing the table with Christina McMullen, J. Leigh Bralick, and S.K. Valenzuela. I had not yet met Christina and S.K. in person, but I’m so glad that I have now! All these authors are lovely human beings that I’m happy to call friends.
  3. Since there was rain all last week, I didn’t do too much with my garden. I did pick a couple of the biggest poblano peppers and use them in a recipe. The bell pepper also has gotten much bigger. Video and post to come soon!
  4. IT’S SUMMER BREAK!!! This means all three of us get to be home together until mid-August.
  5. I really enjoyed listening to Uprooted by Naomi Novik on audiobook. Review to come soon.

Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear something that made you smile this week!

Personal · This Week's Five!

This Week’s Five!!!

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Five things that made me happy this week:

  1. There was a really nice round of thunderstorms that made for some awesome sleeping weather this week.
  2. I’m listening to an audiobook and enjoying it immensely! (Review to come, of course.)
  3. Working in my garden always brings a smile to my face. Yesterday I also took several pinks from my mother-in-law’s yard and planted them in my own. Soon we’ll be the house overrun with pinks, but that’s ok with me, better than weeds.
  4. I haven’t really explored it yet, but during #k8chat a couple of weeks ago someone mentioned using this site for maps. It looks like it could be interesting.
  5. There are a lot of various changes going on right now. Despite the stress of those, I’m optimistic.

Bonus! Things I’m looking forward to:

  1. A visit from a friend
  2. Helping S. Usher Evans, J. Leigh Bralick, Christina McMullen, and S.K. Valenzuela at Dallas Fan Expo
  3. SUMMER BREAK!!!

How about you? What made you happy this week? What are you looking forward to?

Personal

Looking Back (2015), Looking Forward (2016)

Trying to look back on an entire year is an odd sensation. In some ways, it feels like 2015 just got started, and in others, it seems it has gone on forever.

In the beginning of the year, I had just graduated college. I was decompressing by catching up on pleasure reading. I started using Twitter more, connected with some authors, and kept getting more and more drawn to books and their associated community.

While this was going on, I was in a constant limbo about whether or not trying for a career immediately would be the best thing. “Best thing” is a relative idea. Some people might see that and say “well of course it would be,” but that wasn’t so for me. You see, I wasn’t a young, detached college graduate. I graduated with a personal life in full swing–married and a mother and all kinds of responsible (for the most part). The “best thing” is not just for me, but for my family. I’ve been fortunate enough to be home with our son for the last few years, and we believe that is the #1 important thing for our family. I’m also fortunate enough to get to continue.

This doesn’t come without pressures. When I was a student I felt like I was working towards a goal that would ultimately lead to other, longer-term goals that we have. But now that I’m not a student, and not yet pursuing a career outside of the home, I feel like that has been put on pause.

The pause has been good in some ways. It has allowed me time to realize my own personal goals and work towards those. Your reading this is part of the result of these new goals. In the last few semesters of college, I realized I really enjoyed the classes where we “workshopped” one another’s papers/projects, giving and receiving constructive criticism and becoming better writers. I decided that if possible, I would like to be able to do that for others–I’d like to be an editor. Can you imagine my disappointment in realizing that there are very few opportunities in my current geographic location?

a074b9ac027d2b84aa48ed27d48fd4ffBy this time, I’d begun beta-reading for some authors and began to think of offering my services publicly. *Cue major anxiety and fear of failure.* This quote nicely captures a change that has happened in my outlook on life, and I decided to take my chances on spreading my wings. Guess what you guys? I’m still in the air.

Along these same lines I continued growing my relationships with authors online, and even got to meet a couple of my favorites, S. Usher Evans and J. Leigh Bralick. They are just as amazing as their books.

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I also attended a few bookish events, hearing and meeting authors before I’d ever read their books. So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

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I also became aware of the book blogging community, and began to show my love for the books I was reading in the form of reviews and recommendations. This is such an amazing community and I’m so glad that I found it.

Okay – I realize a lot of this has been about bookish things. This year it seems much of my focus has been on bookish things, so that’s pretty fitting.

Looking forward to a new year can be just as daunting as looking back. Who knows what 2016  will hold? We just have to do the best we can  🙂

As far as resolutions go, of course I have some things I want to do more of, less of, or better, but I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to be perfect at those things all the time, so I decided that my resolution for 2016  is to be satisfied. Day by day, I can be the judge of that. It isn’t a set of tasks to complete, it’s an attitude, a reflection at the end of the day.

I look forward to this year. I look forward to meeting more of you, to reading more books, and working more diligently on my own.

I look forward to the time I will spend with my family.

I look forward.

Let’s look forward together.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have your own 2015 recap or 2016 greeting, leave it below, I’d love to read it.

Personal

FenCon!

Hello Folks!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend FenCon on Saturday with my family. It was…an interesting experience. We tried sitting in on a couple of panels, but the speakers didn’t appeal much to us, and the attention span of a four-year-old is not made for sitting still and listening to a monotonous anyone. So, what did we do? We walked around a lot. The art gallery was probably my favorite place out of the whole thing. We also took our son to make a superhero cape and mask, which was fun.

So, Julia, why did you go to such a place when you didn’t wind up taking advantage of most of the activities?

Well, the experience, for one.

5185And for another (and more primary) reason, S. Usher Evans made her way to Texas, FINALLY! I’ve been waiting for this for a while. Over the last year or so I’ve been lucky to come to call this woman I have come to admire a friend. Then, imagine my excitement when I found out J. Leigh Bralick was going to be hanging around! I’ve followed her ever since reading Down a Lost Road (like 4 years ago), and I absolutely love her and love her writing! I don’t think it ever crossed my mind until this year I might actually get to meet her and call her a friend! After all of us convening at FenCon, we went to a fabulous dinner where we spent a couple of hours just talking and hanging out. This was undoubtedly the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

I’ve come away from the experience with lots of happiness at having met these two wonderful ladies, a signed copy of Empath, and the realization this probably wasn’t the best con for my interests.

Book Review · From the Vault

From the Vault – Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke

I’m going to kick off this “From the Vault” series with a book I read back in January, just after seeing the author at YAK Fest.

Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters’ story. Those girls don’t get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing.

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.

When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.(Goodreads)

I’ve always been a reader, and I’ve always really enjoy books in general. I know this isn’t true for some people, and for some there is a book that really started them reading. For them this book often holds a certain emotional value that I don’t really associate with any book; however, when I read Damsel Distressed, that changed. While I was already a reader, this book had an amazing impact on me, and I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t think of it in some way.

When I read Damsel Distressed, I did so from a recently-arrived-at place where I knew that I had been, and still was, battling anxiety and depression. Imogen’s story resonated so strongly with me, and Macke’s descriptions through Imogen’s voice continue to give imagery to my emotional experiences.

So here’s my rating: 5 stars! – Review originally posted here.

First of all, the cover and title page are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

Imogen’s voice is immediately distinct. Influenced by her love for musicals, it is silly, snarky, and at times brutally honest. While Imogen is overweight, and that does play a part in the story, it is not the main concern, as Imogen is clinically depressed and fighting to find some kind of light. Just when she thought things were getting better, Carmella, “Ella,” her step-sister, moves in.

Positive:

  • Imogen’s unique voice/view of the world. You can definitely see the influence of the theater.
  • Macke uses just enough dialect (fish-kick, for example) for the book.
  • All of the character’s were their own unique identity and had their own presence in the book.
  • Just enough comic relief.
  • Important issues treated with respect and care.
  • Super emotionally moving!
  • The perfect capturing of depression is what really turned the knob on my waterworks. For me it is Imogen’s idea of the pendulum swing that rings so true. The exhausting swinging back and forth, thinking you have come out just to plunge back in. Maybe it’s not a new idea, but it’s the first time that I have been exposed to it, and it is so perfect that it hurts to realize how accurate the swing of the pendulum of emotions is.
  • Part of my connection to Imogen is that I lost my mom at a similar age, so, bonus waterworks.
  • In my experience as an English major, one of the things I found repeated was the idea that “serious” literature was re-readable for the underlying themes, images, ideas, etc., that once the story is read there is still something to merit by reading it again. In my Young Adult Literature class, some of these things that we looked at and were often found in our texts were: non-traditional/broken homes, peer family, and identity (personal, social, cultural, etc.), among other things. Damsel Distressed addresses all of these things with such realistic voice and emotion that it grabs onto your heartstrings and doesn’t let go.
  • This book continues to come up in my daily thoughts and has become an intense favorite.

Negative:

  • I honestly have nothing negative to say about this book.

Other:

  • I want to know the story of all the other characters.
  • Not a sunshine-happy read. (It is hopeful, though.)
Book Review

Review – The Wild Ones by Alexander London

This was my first foray, as an adult, into Middle Grade fiction. Why did I pick it up now? To be honest, I picked it up because Alexander London was so nice when I met him at the North Texas Teen Book Fest back in March. (It’s going to be in April next year, I highly encourage attending, it’s amazing!) Also, it was in the box of books my mother-in-law brought home to read over the summer.

When a country raccoon used to a soft life winds up all alone in the big city, there’s no telling what he’ll do to survive — and to save his fellow wild animals in the process.
Kit, a young raccoon, has lived his whole life under the Big Sky in the comfort of his parents’ burrow. But when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kill his parents, Kit finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people’s pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he follows the clues his parents left behind to uncover the secret that they died for–the existence of an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But The Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever–and Kit is in serious danger. (Goodreads)

Overall, I enjoyed The Wild Ones. It was fun to dive into this anthropomorphic tale and cheer for Kit as he learned to navigate Ankle Snap Alley, to not trust just anyone, and to make the most out of his life–howl to snap. I give it 4 stars!

Positive:

  • I really liked the adventure itself–from Kit leaving the Big Sky to getting mixed up with the Blacktail brothers to searching for the Bone of Contention to the very end. 
  • I liked the friendship between Kit and Eeni.
  • I’m guessing this might have been because of the age range, but honestly I found it refreshing to read something that lacked a romantic plot/sub-plot.
  • I enjoyed the names of the characters, especially those that were named based on their appearance or their species. Sixclaw, for example, was a cat with six claws on one of his paws.
  • I also enjoyed the way the world was portrayed from the animals’ viewpoint.
  • I liked when the Flealess and The Wild Ones came head-to-head, but that’s all I’ll say since it’s toward the end 😉
  • I thought the exploration of finding one’s community and how a community can be made up of lots of different characters was appropriate.
  • I thought the need for details and character development was met and quite balanced for readers at the targeted audience age. Enough to tell the story, but not so much that they can’t follow it.

Negative:

  • I read an ARC of the book, so sadly I didn’t get the benefit of the beautiful cover or the art inside.
  • There were times when I thought the book started to sound a little preachy, but perhaps for the age range it is needed more than it might be in a book for an older audience.
  • I was actually surprised by some of the content of the book in regards to violence/hunting/war/torture/death. While not necessarily bad or bothersome to me, it was just unexpected (perhaps because of my lack of knowledge of the MG genre).

Have you read The Wild Ones? What did you think about it?

Book Review · From the Vault · Resource Review

Reviews, Incoming!

 

*2017 update-this timeline is no longer in use*

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. Things are about to get shakin’ around here! In honor of that, I thought I’d create a nice little post with a “key” to the upcoming posts. I’ll update this list as posts are added for easy finding.

My ratings will be based on my enjoyment of the books on their own, not in comparison to one another. Here’s a key:
1-star: hated it!
2-star: didn’t like it.
3-star: it was ok.
4-star: really liked it.
5-star: loved it!

Tuesdays – Review of a book I’ve recently read. Simple, really. This will be a mixture of traditional- and self-published books. It may wind up leaning a little more one way and then another as my reading moods shift, but exclusivity for one or another is not my goal.

Alternating Thursdays – “From the Vault.” From the Vault is a series which features books that I read sometime in the past, but did not review. From the Vault may also feature reviews which I have previously written and posted to my first blog, The Midnight Hobbyist. For the most part, these are going to be books that I loved, since those which did not make a lasting impression are obviously not much for being remembered.

Alternating Fridays – “Resources!” This is a review of one of the resources listed on my Resource page. If I’m going to suggest a resource, certainly I should be able to tell you why, right?

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, crazy blog-o-sphere, and hope to see you around!

-Julia

New Reviews

From the Vault

Resources!