Year in Review (…and some plans going forward)

year in review

I wasn’t sure if I was going to still write this considering a week has already past since the start of this new year, but then again, I think I needed to write this for myself. I have made it known in this blog a number of times just how busy work has been the last couple of months. It continued to be up to the very end, even now I have work-related stuff I need to take care of. But if I’m being honest, it’s not the only reason why I  have decreased my blogging presence.

Truth is I’m feeling really discouraged right now and struggling to continue blogging. I know I shouldn’t compare my journey with other bloggers but it’s hard not to. My numbers have gone down – readership, followers – and I continuously questioned myself if it’s even smart to continue doing this if I don’t have an audience.

But I love reading, and writing about books is my way of expressing my love for this precious thing that has saved me countless of times. I have also met and interacted with really amazing people this past year – fellow bloggers, readers, writers and publishers – people I have met because of this blog. I just can’t leave it.

And that’s when it hit me.

The reason I created this blog was, when I look at it more closely, was me. Yes, I write to share my love for books, I write to get these stories I love and enjoyed to more hands so more people will love and enjoy them, but in the end, this blog is for me, my outlet. It may sound selfish, so be it.

2018 has been wonderful for my reading life. I have read a lot of books that made me feel a whole range of emotions – happy, sad, angry. I have beat my Goodreads challenge for the third year in a row, something I’m really happy about.

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I have enjoyed, even loved most of these books. Among those who stood out for me this year were Sadie (Courtney Summers), Darius the Great is Not Okay (Adib Khorram), The Deepest Roots (Miranda Asebedo), and This is What it Feels Like (Rebecca Barrow). I have also started and finished several book series last year: I finally read His Fair Assassin trilogy (Robin LaFevers) which has been on my TBR for the longest time; the Red Queen series (Victoria Aveyard) concluded this year with the publishing of War Storm, which I enjoyed a whole though it was bittersweet [I’m going to miss all those characters, especially Mare and Cal]; The Gilded Wolves (Roshani Chokshi) which is coming out mid-January, is a promising new series I’m really excited for and you can expect me to talk about it nonstop here on the blog and on Twitter.

I also participated in blog tours for the first time, and got the chance to interview some really awesome authors. My interview, though short, with Sarah Bird and writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz are some of the highlights of my blogging year.

All these may sound small, but these are achievements for me and I’m kind of proud of myself now that I’m seeing them all laid out like this. I’m not yet sure what this year, what 2019 has in store for me. I’m pretty excited to discover it myself, but rest assured I’m staying and will continue to write.

I’m planning to add a few more feature content just as soon as I think up a theme [or something]. I’m also going to put myself out there more, which scares the crap out of me because if you know me in real life you know that I can be awkward as hell. Requesting more author interviews [please let it work and don’t think I’m weird] and requesting books I really want from publishers are also in my agenda this year. Hey, maybe I’ll even go back to bookstragram, if perfecting and editing my shots won’t take to much of my time.

All these plans are still tentative, except the feature content thing because I’m already writing down ideas for that. I don’t know if they’ll pan out, it’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I think my keyword for this year is “Try” and that’s just what I’ll do. No pressure, whatsoever, just try to do what I intend to do because, after all, I wouldn’t know what’ll happen if I don’t and the guessing, the what-ifs will only end up making me more anxious which never does me any good.

So, anyway [because as usual I don’t know how to properly end a post AGAIN!] I’ll leave you with a song I love. It’s something I tell myself whenever I feel like the world’s crashing on me. Dramatic, yes, but that’s just how the last couple of months felt like for me.

💗💗💗

Rachel

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How was 2018 for you? Link up your year-in-review posts in the comment section so I can read them 🙂

 

Review: “Give the Dark My Love” by Beth Revis

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Title: Give the Dark My Love
Series: Give the Dark My Love #1
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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ARC provided by Penguin through their First to Read reader program.

How far would you go to save the ones you love? Beth Revis’s newest dark fantasy asks that question as one country girl looks for a cure to a mysterious disease that’s fast taking over her people and her home island.

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

I know I’ve said it a hundred times over, but I’d say it again. I love antiheroes and, most especially, antiheroines. You know, those characters who are in the grey, neither good or bad or, and this most likely, part good and part bad. I just think they are closer to people in real life, complicated and simple at the same time. And this, the promise of another antiheroine for me to love and root for was what drove me to request for an advance copy of Give the Dark My Love.

And, oh boy, did it deliver!

Give the Dark My Love is a compelling and intriguing opener to a brand new series that will surely draw readers in. Beth Revis is back at what she does best, writing atmospheric fantasies. The prologue perfectly sets readers up for the forthcoming horrors this book has in store. Things build up from there, escalating and only getting darker as the story progresses.

Now, let’s go to the bit I loved the most in this book – the main character.

Nedra, oh my baby Nedra, I just wanted to hug her when I finished reading, but I have a feeling she won’t let me. She is an interesting character, morally grey and complicated. Her transformation was certainly the best part of this story. She starts out empathetic – a poor girl from a rural town who wants to find a cure for this mysterious disease that’s plaguing and killing her people – but, betrayed and used, she emerges as this fierce commander of an army of her own making. I’m certainly excited to read more of her in the next installments.

There are still a couple of things that could be improved in the next books. Pacing for one. There were points in the novel where I just can’t help but turn the pages one after the other, the pacing just flowing so well; then there are also points where things just seemed to crawl, Revis dwelling on certain scenes too much than she needs to.

Another thing that comes to mind is Grey’s perspective. While the story is mostly told from Nedra’s point-of-view, there are a handful of chapters written through Grey’s eyes. These parts are supposed to provide readers insight on the politics of Lunar Island, which is fine and dandy if only the information he provided was utilized.

There is certainly some chemistry between Nedra and Grey, but I’m only partway sold. I thought things progressed fast, mostly on Grey’s part. I’m willing to let it slide though, and wait and see how things go for these two in the next books because they have potential. I love that Grey, though he doesn’t agree with Nedra, is willing to hear her out and understands where she’s coming from. He can help Nedra pull herself out of the darkness she plunged herself into.

Overall, Give the Dark My Love is an exceptional dark fantasy. Readers will find themselves rooting and empathizing with Nedra even as she acts on desperation and goes dark in the end of this installment. I really enjoyed this one and will certainly be waiting (impatiently!) for the next book to come out.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

About the Author:

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BETH REVIS is a New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and IndieBound bestselling author of novels and short stories for teens. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Beth worked as a high school teacher prior to becoming a full time author, and she till keeps in touch with many of her former students (who often begged to be killed off in her next novel). She currently resides in rural North Carolina with her boys: two massive dogs, one small son, and one average-sized husband.

Beth splits her time between writing, reading, and traveling.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

First Line Fridays: “Leverage in Death” by J.D. Robb

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday!

First week of September done, just like that. If you’ve read my August wrap-up, you’ll know that I’ve set up quite a challenge for myself this month, and I think I’m off to a good start. I’ve already finished one book (yay!) and am well into my second one. I only took a quick break from it to write this post.

My FLF pick today is one I’ve been waiting to come up since, well, since it was announced.

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Thou shalt not kill.

Paul Rogan didn’t consider himself a religious man, but that commandment played over and over his head as he stepped into the lobby. As his wing tips clicked on the polished marble floor, those four words beat inside him.

 

 

 

Leverage in Death is the 47th book in J.D. Robb’s long-running crime thriller/romance series. I already have the e-book (and waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive in the mail) and I’m excited to start reading it. I have to postpone it though since I have to finish my blog tour books. I think I can get to it next week, so, that’s something I’m really looking forward to. I can’t wait to see just what case Eve is handling in this one (sounds like it involve suicide bombing). Also, as it is with series, it’s always fun to catch up with all the series’ regular cast. It almost feels like seeing old friends you haven’t seen in a while.

What are you guys and gals reading today? Hit me up with ’em, won’t you. 🙂

💗💗💗

Rachel

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Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

 

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Dear Mrs. Bird” by AJ Pearce

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Something only a few people know about me is that I love history, and somehow that love also extends to loving historical fiction. Today’s CWW is a book set in WWII London, but unlike previous novels I’ve read, this one looks like a fun, quirky read.

36373413London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Goodreads

Dear Mrs. Bird is still available for requests on Edelweiss but I saw it too late. The book comes out next week, July 3.

💗💗💗

Rachel

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What book are you excited for this week?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire OST Tracklist

I think no one would disagree with me on this, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is one of the most anticipated movies this year. I have excitedly fangirled every still from the movie, and now that we’re just six weeks away from seeing the film in its entirety, the hype just keeps on going.

I love soundtracks. Really. I even buy OSTs of movies I haven’t even seen. So, needless to say, aside the movie, I am also eagerly waiting for Catching Fire soundtrack. The complete tracklist was recently released and it includes some of my favorite artists and bands – Ellie Goulding, The Lumineers, The Nationals – they’re joining Coldplay, the first band to be confirmed for the said OST.

Here’s the complete tracklist:

  1. “Atlas” – Coldplay
  2. “Silhouettes” – Of Monsters and Men
  3. “Elastic Heart” – Sia (ft. The Weeknd and Diplo)
  4. “Lean” – The National
  5. “We Remain” – Christina Aguilera
  6. “Devil May Cry” – The Weeknd
  7. “Who We Are” – Imagine Dragons
  8. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Lorde
  9. “Gale Song” – The Lumineers
  10. “Mirror” – Ellie Goulding
  11. “Capital Letter” – Patti Smith
  12. “Shooting Arrows at the Sky” – Santigold
  13. “Place for Us” – Mikky Ekko
  14. “Lights” – Phantogram
  15. “Angel on Fire” – Antony and the Johnsons

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack is due to be released on November 19, two days before the movie. But you can already pre-order it on My Play Direct.