5 Years of Blogging….WOAH BUDDY (PLUS a Fun Giveaway)

Soooo my blog kind of hit the 5 year mark this week…yesterday actually (sadly…or not sadly…the first 2 months of my blog basically got deleted when I transferred from Blogger to WordPress many moons ago). I had all these wild and fun plans for the occasion for months prior to actually getting remotely near June….but then summertime, laziness and other things got in the way.

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Last year I wrote a sentimental post about how this journey has changed my life  and in 2013 I wrote about why I keep blogging and did some crazy math which you know math is hard for meee (you can just add some days, minutes and seconds to those crazy figures to make it even MORE impressive haha) and if you didn’t read those you SHOULD because it talks a lot about how this whole thing changed my life and my journey and all the crazy life things YOU GUYS have seen me through over the years (seriously, that list makes me get teary and omg I could add so much more). I echo those sentiments wholeheartedly.

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I feel like I don’t have a lot to say for this one because I’ve kind of said it already? I mean, I can’t say THANK YOU enough (thank you for reading/commenting/supporting/being awesome/making me not feel so alone in this passion of mine/being my friends) but outside of that? I don’t have much to add.

Maybe I could talk about all the reasons I’m in awe of the fact I’m still doing this? 5 years is a long time especially in blogland where blogs croak just as quickly as they are made. Maybe that I’m in awe that I’m still doing this because sometimes I’m too lazy or that sometimes it’s too hard or frustrating or feels not worth it. Or some days I feel like I’m irrelevant or that nobody is reading or cares what I have to say anymore…especially after five years. Sometimes I don’t have words to say or feel like I’m repeating myself when I talk about books. Or how I feel like I’ve run out of all my good unique & creative ideas that made me live up to my “most creative blogger” award (no really I didn’t make that up haha) too early on in my blogging career and now I’m just boring and generic. Some days I just plain ol’ feel like I have no balance in my life and I want to run far away from books. Or some days I’m just TIRED of it (tired of writing, tired of everything, tired of dumb blogging politics that I typically ignore anyways, tired of social media, tired of expectations, etc.). Some days I’ve felt like quitting.

But then….

You get a comment that brightens your day.
You get an email that is so kind.
You chat with an author that you really love.
You make a new friend in this community.
You connect a person with a book that they end up loving.
You read a really great book that you KNOW you found because of blogging and it speaks to you and maybe even changes your life.
You find out someone started a blog because of you or started reading again because of you.
You do something really awesome that you are proud of and people respond well to it.
You get inspiration from somewhere out in left field.
You get an awesome opportunity because of your blog.
You get a book that inspires you to talk about it personally or passionately.
You have a great discussion about a book with someone.
(this list could go on)

AND THEN YOU REMEMBER WHY YOU DO THIS.

The bullshit kind of fades away. Even the non-bullshit reasons that made you feel like you wanted to quit gently subside. And you find yourself placing your I HEART BOOK BLOGGING t-shirt back on and getting back to work with the clearest of mind and heart, full of a renewed passion and perspective.

So, I mean, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are feeling discouraged as a blogger, it’s okay. It happens for many reasons and it will happen many times to come unfortunately. But sometimes you get what you need to keep going through the ups and downs. Even veteran bloggers get the blues.

I think what I’ve learned in 5 years is to remember the things that make THIS JOURNEY worth it — the most simple and pure reasons of why I started all this and what truly makes me tick behind the scenes.

Your comments and views and followers will fluctuate. You won’t always get that coveted ARC you wanted. A certain person may not be that nice or won’t give you the time of day. You won’t always be the best or even runner-up. You will always be able to compare yourself to others and it will make you feel inferior. You will mess up. WordPress or Blogger will eat a post you spent 3 hours writing. You might have a slump where you hate what you write or you hate what you read. A lot of things can suck on this journey but also a lot of those things might not be things that will matter after a day. A week. A month. A YEAR.

So on a day/week/month when you are feeling like that?  Slow it down. TAKE A BREAK. Reevaluate. Remember what made you start this. Remember what makes you tick. Strip all the things away that you can’t control or the things that you know are unimportant in the grand scheme of life. Remember the things that are TRULY important TO YOU in all this. Change what you can. Work with the things you might not be able to change. Remember this ONE THING does not define everything in your life. REMEMBER WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY ABOUT ALL THIS/THE GOOD THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED.

And really think about it. Sometimes it will be enough and give you a renewed sense of purpose. And sometimes you will realize it’s time to gracefully bow out. AND THAT IS OKAY. Sometimes we outgrow things, sometimes we change or life changes, sometimes it’s just time for a new chapter. I know one day that will happen and I will be okay with it. When I no longer have joy for it and when I slow it down and still can’t muster the enthusiasm for it? IT WILL BE OVER because I will not taint the good memories I’ve had with a bitter, less than excited attitude or just a lack of passion/sense of obligation.

So, if you still have that fiiiiire for it, keep at it. You can do it. (If I can, you can). On your own terms. Whether you blog every day or you blog once a week. It’s your blog, baby.

5 years might look super impressive (and I mean, I’m not downplaying how AWESOME it is) but it hasn’t always been a picnic (JUST KEEPIN IT REAL). There have been tears, days (okay a week sometimes) where I refuse to open my blog, threats to myself that I’m going to quit FOREVER, awful slumps. The road has been paved with ups and downs and hard work and perserverance. BUT I AM SO THANKFUL THAT I AM STILL HERE DOING THIS. In this moment and where I stand lately. And it’s been a HELL of a five years. I can’t even begin to recap the epicness and the fun and the shenanigans both online and off because of this blog.

 

GIVEAWAY

So now for the giveaway in honor of all this awesomeness that has been the last 5 years

WHAT ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL GET:

A care package curated BY ME

An idea of what will be in it: a favorite book or two of mine (I will have a way to guarantee it’s not something you have already if you win), maybe a super anticipated ARC or 2, some fun bookish goodies and just other things I LOVE. Basically like a Secret Santa box but no secret…it’s from meeeee. Because I love you guys and I want to do something special for someone who has supported my blog in any way.

*US only for the care package, sorry. ALTHOUGH. If you are an international reader, I will offer a $25 Amazon gift card. *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

(Haha remember that time at the beginning-ish of this post where I said I feel like I had nothing to say this time? HAH I LIED).

Are We Out Of The Woods Yet?

If there is one thing you’ve learned about me over the years it’s that I am a very sentimental person and everything is ridiculously significant to me so I reflect a lot about the most random of things.

I can even make going to a Taylor Swift concert an emotional thing. So, yeah, I went to see Taylor Swift yesterday in Philly. It was awesome. As one would expect. I’ll get to the experience but first I’m going to get a little emo on y’all. IS IT A DAY THAT ENDS IN Y?

This was not my first Taylor Swift concert. I saw Taylor Swift in February of 2007 at a small venue called Crocodile Rock near her hometown and about 45 minutes from me. I went with my college roomies on a whim because we all loved her single Tim McGraw and had been listening to her album nonstop. (My Taylor Swift conversion was by force — they were all country fans and I was the pretentious little hipster who was too afraid to admit I liked it when they constantly played it but I so did. I WAS SO ANNOYING IN COLLEGE). Taylor was adorable, talented and sweet. I remember her pulling up a little girl on stage for Stay Beautiful. It was just a great experience and it made me a fan of her even more.

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So here we are like 8 years later. EIGHT YEARS HOLY CRAP. A lot has changed in 8 years — for me and clearly for Taylor Swift who is playing to crowds of 50,000 now and is one of the biggest names out there. But there is something ridiculously significant to me as I reflect back on my own journey and that of Taylor’s in these years. I got a little emotional when I bought the tickets. When I first saw her I had just turned 21 a few months before and now I’m getting ready to turn 30 in a few months. MY LIFE WAS SO DIFFERENT.

When I first saw Taylor my mom had passed away just a few months before that in July of 2006. I was so lost and so unsure of myself because of that but also just in general because those early twenties are just a tumultuous time of growing in general. When I saw Taylor last night I’m at a place where things aren’t perfect but I feel like I’m out of the woods — I’ve made it through my 20’s and even though things at almost 30 are not what 21 year old Jamie would have expected them to be but I’m okay with that. I’m confident and more happy with who I am than I’ve ever been. I’m more myself than I’ve ever been and having a BLAST because of it. I’m doing things for ME and not worrying about what people (whose opinions don’t really matter) think. It was a long and tearful journey — some pretty hard friendship breakups and letting things/people go that had been a part of my life for so long, saying no to be able to say yes to the things truly of my heart, some definite comfort zone blasting and a lot of mistakes along the way. It was hard to realize how much of my life I lived for other people in my early 20’s — to make them like me, to have their approval, to fit in, to not rock the boat — all at the sacrifice of my own happiness and the real me. But if there is one lesson I’ve come out of my 20’s with is that life is too short to pretend to like things you don’t and to deny yourself the things you really do because of what people think. I’m quoting myself from this post.

And I can’t help but see some weird parallels between my life in these 8 years and Taylor’s life in these years since I last saw her (okay hers is much more exciting than mine but STILL). I mean, LOOK AT HER RIGHT NOW. She has come into her own so much. She’s owning who she is and what she wants to do. She’s letting herself go in directions that others might question and she’s doing it with CONFIDENCE and SWAG. And she’s just having a whole lot of fun with her life and not letting opinions that don’t matter dictate her life. It certainly hasn’t been easy for her and for every one who loves her she’s got plenty of people who want to knock her down. But she’s doing it. And at the heart of this world dominating Taylor Swift is still that sweet girl I saw sitting on a stool timidly just being so vulnerable with the audience and telling the stories of her heart.

It’s crazy how much can happen in 8 years. It’s humbling. It’s empowering. It’s motivating. It’s a reminder that I CAN GET THROUGH IT. 8 years later and I still miss my mom like crazy but it, and the other extremely difficult things I’ve faced in those years, DID NOT BREAK ME.

So, I don’t know, it might be this weird parallel because of my overly sentimental heart but if a Taylor Swift concert that bookends my incredibly tumultuous 20’s is the thing I needed to reflect and remind myself of how badass I am and how much strength I have inside of me…well then I will take it and run with it as I face my 30’s head on.

 

So let’s get to the actual concert!

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Some highlights:

– IT WAS SUPER FUN. So much fun to sing and dance and not care about my white girl awkward dancing because there was a lot of that going on. Loved singing to all my faves! She really knows how to put on a good show (though sometimes she did a little too much inspirational talking for my taste before songs but they were probably things the younger crowd needed to hear from someone they look up to!)

–  OH MY GOSH SHE DID THE BEST VERSION OF LOVE STORY. It was like this re-imagined 1989-esque version of it and it was incredible. She recorded it here if you wanna listen:

– We got these cool little bracelets that flashed with different colors while she was singing. After the show was over if you tap them they still light up with different colors!

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– Some awesome special guests: Rachel Platten (literally she sang Fight Song with Taylor which is the only song of hers I know!!) and Mariska Hargitay who I LOVE from Law & Order. (I will say I’m a little jealous that I was not there the night before when Echosmith joined her on stage!

– I loved looking at all the awesome costumes and t-shirts the Swifties were wearing! Some ballerinas and cheerleaders and people who made Instagram polaroids. AND TWO GIRLS DRESSED UP AS STARBUCKS CUPS. It was awesome.

– I loved how even when she’s playing to a crowd of 50,000 she still has that personal touch that makes you feel like she’s playing to a small crowd and how you feel like you really know her. It’s no wonder she’s got some of the most devoted fans ever.

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– I loved how she included her bffs — in between some of the songs there were these cute videos with all of her bffs about what it’s like being friends with Taylor and just about female friendship and empowerment in general.

– HER OUTFITS WERE ON POINT.

– Vance Joy opened for her so I was happy to see him again because Will and I LOVE him (Will was a little jealous I got to see him again) but I will say his stuff is a little slower and less GET PUMPED FOR TAYLOR kind of music.

– Experiencing my first BIG Taylor concert with one of the biggest fans I know, my friend and fab book blogger Katie, who drove from CANADA to PHILLY to see her!

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It was SUCH a fun night and I’m so happy that I was able to go — it was my Christmas present from Will! I’m still TOTALLY on a Taylor Swift high right now and I think Will might kill me if I have 1989 on repeat all day.

BEA 2015 Diaries

BEA #5 is in the books for me! Overall it was a successful trip — fun, memorable and always good to see all my book people IRL. Book-wise, I grabbed 9/10 of the books I wanted most and I was pleased with a couple of other surprises that I discovered there (namely adult books). My BEA books post will be separate but I was really pleased with the books I did pick up this year and can’t wait to talk about them with you and read them!

Last year I talked a lot about the differences I saw in BEA last year vs. all the other years I went and a lot of those things still stand true. I felt like lines were a little bit more organized this year in general (there was still some crazy cray for sure). I did think moving the autographing area all the way over to the right was nice because it gave more room for some in booth signing lines. Not as crowded but LOTS MORE WALKING I DID BECAUSE IT WAS SO SPREAD OUT. My feet were displeased with that. ALSO, I did NOT like that Wednesday was a half day. AWFUL. And I didn’t go to Blogger Con but why would you have the start of BEA and Blogger Con overlap?? I’d like to hear why they thought THAT was a good idea. I will say this year I heard about from people I believe/saw a lot of icky behavior for books that frankly made me embarrassed for people. 1) THEY WILL COME OUT and 2) you have a badge on with your NAME and are representing yourself/your organization…good thing to remember always!!

So, let’s get to my days at BEA which I AM SO SORRY I DID NOT TAKE AS MANY PICS AS I NORMALLY DO:

 

TUESDAY

I took Jersey Transit with one of my roommates Michelle into the city and schlepped our big ass bags in the like 90 degree weather to our hotel. We got freshened up (because dear god we needed it after that fun adventure) and headed off to get Shake Shack with friends before the Jenny Han release party event. I was so happy to meet Lindsey, Laura and Ashley and spend time with my roomies and my friend Ellie. It was the PERFECT way to start off the crazy week — good food, good conversation and JENNY HAN CELEBRATIONS!

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Jenny Han knows how to throw a release party. It was the cutest! She read and answered questions and continued to be the cutest, most stylish human ever. There was champagne and adorable desserts! A makeup and nail artist who were doing cute nail art and makeovers! And the cutest photobooth that was styled to look like Lara Jean’s room!!! We definitely took advantage of that! Here are our Polaroids:

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It was so nice to kick off the week seeing Jenny on her release day because I super love her books (and her) and HOORAY SHE MADE #2 on the NYT Bestseller’s List as of yesterday!! Got my copy of PS I Still Love You signed and can’t wait to read it! PETER K <33

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Wednesday

Wednesday was the first day of BEA. Well, a half day which was weird but whatever. I woke up and head over to the Javits to pick up my badge in the morning. I found out that the line had started at 6:30am (the floor didn’t open until 1) and most of the people in line already were there for Truthwitch. I knew a lot of people there already and Truthwitch was my #1 priority…BUT THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD GET THERE THAT EARLY. Love all you ladies who did it …but y’all are nuts in the best possible way (and devoted). But YAY SUSAN…people scarified lots of sleep to ensure getting your book!!! Next year let’s all agree on a reasonable time to line up??  PLEASE.

So I went on over to Little Brown HQ for a Novl brunch with all the lovely LB publicists and editors. I was so thankful to be invited again this year because I love listening to them talk about what upcoming books they are excited about (I discovered some new ones) and they have such a good spread…PLUS MIMOSAS (which you know that to get me to come anywhere just say mimosas and I WILL BE THERE NO MATTER HOW EARLY). We learned about their NOVL box which is SUCH a cute idea becasue their authors curate them! Such a nice touch! Plus they had Jennifer E. Smith there to chat about her latest which was so great! Good time to talk books and see friends like my girl, Estelle!

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Odds & Ends: A Little Hiatus and Other Things

Hi friends!! A few things:

 

1. As of today I’ll be away for the Book Expo of America in NYC. It’s my 5th year going (this year was a super last minute decision bc $$ and things) and it’s always a great time! The blog will be on a hiatus from now and until probably Monday?

If you are at BEA:

Say hi if you see me!! I want to meet y’all! The saddest thing about BEA is seeing someone whizzing past you headed for a line and never getting to say hi! I promise I will say hi…even if I’m speed walking to get somewhere. We can do an awkward hug even! I apologize in advance if you see me and I seem frazzled. The floor is overwhelming and my face probably looks bitchy.  3 places you will definitely be able to find me: the Truthwitch line, the Passenger line and the Six of Crows line. Here’s some of the other books I’m excited about and hope to get while at BEA. I pretty much look like my pictures that I’ve put on this blog — the only thing that may be tricky is you never know if I’ll wear my hair curly or straight!

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From the looks of the weather (hot, rain, humidity) it will just look straight up like a monstrous frizzball. Think that episode of Monica with her hair on Friends.

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If you aren’t going to BEA:

If you are interested I will be chronicling my trip on Twitter and & Instagram.

If you are looking for a recommendation while I’m not around, here are some of my favorite books that came out this year so far — this, this, this, this & this.

2. HOLY GIVEAWAYS, GUYS. I think I have more giveaways running in the past week or 2 than I have in a year of blogging. Easy to enter so check them out!

Throne of Glass Litographs giveaway
Saint Anything giveaway
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids giveaway
Every Last Word Giveaway

4 Bookish Blogs I’ve Added To My Reader Recently

So here’s the thing. I’ve been blogging for almost 5 years (come next month) and I’ve met A LOT of bloggers and I’ve seen a lot of bloggers go. It’s hard cleaning out your blog reader and seeing that blogs you loved abandoned theirs or dear friends who started at the same time as you announcing they are quitting (hai Jen, Anna, Tara, Kristi, Melanie and so many others).

The blog landscape is always evolving. So are the people. It’s bittersweet. I love meeting new people but it’s sad to watch so many of them fade away (especially if I only really had a “blog relationship” with them). It’s this ebb and flow of watching people come and go. I am grateful for the people I meet along the way regardless. But it’s hard after 5 years. I won’t lie.

When I worked at Forever 21 after college and was frustrated because I felt like the girls weren’t super friendly to me, a girl who worked there told me, “We aren’t super friendly to new people not because we are rude but because when you are here a long time it gets hard to say goodbye so often with the turnaround here and also to constantly have to make new relationships.”

Though I disagree with initial snubbing as a defensive sort of mechanism, I understand this sentiment in ways when it comes to blogging. If you know me I am super welcoming, friendly and talkative with new bloggers. I’m always there to support and make new friends. Lots of great new bloggers come into this community every year and I’m so thankful for that and inspired by the fresh air they bring. But I won’t say it doesn’t get hard “finding your people” after you already found them so many years ago and then they left. It is hard to keep opening yourself up again and again and hoping for lasting relationships and new blogs to love like you loved past ones. It’s HARD to not get stuck in your ways after 5 years — just reading the blogs you’ve always read and staying close only to the people you have always been close with. Maybe this is where people think there are ~cliques~ amongst the more established blogs but it’s really that so few of us have remained in it for THAT long that we cling to each other. We’ve established friendships that have lasted all these years and that really IS something in an ever changing landscape.

As much as I am welcoming and friendly and supportive of new bloggers on the scene, I know sometimes it is hard for me to fully connect these days. I feel disconnected. A little out of the loop. Kind of irrelevant at times. On bad days like the “get off my lawn” type of cranky lady. I’ve been trying to combat this feeling and to stop thinking so much about “THE GOOD OL’ DAYS”, which truly were formative and important and are what made me love this hobby, and embrace what everything is now and what I can contribute to it.

So, after that long-winded explanation, I wanted to share some blogs that I’ve actually added into my blog reader recently. While I might talk to a lot of bloggers and visit their blogs via Twitter and comments and such, adding new blogs to my reader is something I do very rarely because I’m constantly so sad to have to take them out when they vanish. Also I’m lazy and always behind on things. But I’ve been trying to get better and figured I’d share a few I think you should check out.

They aren’t necessarily NEW bloggers….just ones I’ve added to my reader lately so that I can make it a point to keep up with them when I have my shit together and am using my blog reader.

 

1. Lindsey at Bring My Books:

Lindsey reads a variety of stuff and I love it! She also talks movies on her blog which I love because obviously I love movies. I love fangirling all things Sarah J. Maas with her!

2. Laura from Scribbles & Wanderlust

Laura is another one who reads widely — love her YA and adult recommendations! Her blog has been around for a while but it wasn’t until the last year-ish that I started reading her blog more regularly! Plus she’s a literary agent and bookseller so I love her perspective from all sides of the book world.

3. Leah from The Pretty Good Gatsby

Leah is my go-to for adult fiction — especially historical fiction!! She’s so sweet to talk to on Twitter and I love when she yells at me lovingly to read books she loves!

 

4. Nikki from There Were Books Involved

Nikki reads mostly YA of a variety of genres but she is my go-to for anything non-contemporary these days..especially fantasy! She writes really great reviews and when that girl fangirls over her favorites MAN does she fangirl. I LOVE IT. There are some authors/books that make me automatically think of Nikki because of her extreme love and enthusiasm for them!

I hope you’ll check them out and follow them on social media! Check out my sidebar for other blogs I love (by no means an exhaustive list and I hate knowing I’ve left people out).

Tell me some bookish blogs you’ve added to your reader lately! Or if your blog is new (within the past year especially) tell me a little about yourself/blog and say hi!

Fan of Sarah J. Maas? Of Sarah Dessen? Of Sabaa Tahir?

YOU GUYS. May is going to be pretttyyyy epic. Read my April recap and see what I’m looking forward to in May. BUT I am so, so grateful for 3 opportunities I get this month in regards to book events.

CAN YOU GUYS FLAIL WITH ME? Because Will did not flail sufficiently when I was excited about it and I was so sad. HE IS THE WORST. (Whaaaatever Will).

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OKAY, so get your flails ready with me because I’m legit excited and y’all will understand (THANK GOD FOR THE INTERNET, amirite?).

I will be moderating Sarah’s release party for A Court of Thorns & Roses and interviewing both Sarah Dessen and Sabaa Tahir before their events around here.

EEEEE.

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(Ten bucks says I’m going to lose my shit trying to talk to Sarah Dessen).

SO SO SO….I mostly have all my questions planned out for each of these things BUT I want to know what YOU, my readers, want to know. So, if you have a question for any of these 3 authors leave it in the comments. I’ll pick one I like best for each other and ask it! The Sarah Dessen and Sabaa Tahir events I’ll come back and have on interview here but the Sarah J. Maas event isn’t quite an interview but I’ll get your answer to you via a recap or something!

I can’t wait to see your questions for these ladies!!!

10 Best Backlist Books I Read In 2014

So I’ve already shared my favorite 2014 releases (non-debuts) and my seven favorite debut novels of YA! Today I want to talk about all the pre-2014 books I read this year! So I’m defining BACKLIST, for this purpose, as anything that was published pre-2014. It’s important to me as a reader/blogger to not forget about older stuff…plus I always miss SO many things.

So here are my 10 favorite backlist books I read this year!

 

best YA books

 

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (published 2013) : Oh man this book really got to me! Definitely an underrated one! The sisters in this story just will haunt me — everything they went through. But oh my heart had warm and fuzzies by the end of this!
If I Lie by Corrinne Jackson (2012): SERIOUSLY SUCH AN UNDERRATED BOOK! This one made me sob! It was short and I read it all in one day!
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2011): This was one of the books on my Halloween reading list. It was not scary to me as the cover made me think it might be (creepy kids!!) BUT all of the supernatural/magic stuff was awesome and it was brilliantly written! Cannot wait to read more of this series!
Saving Francesca/The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta (2006 & 2010): I’m putting these together for one because The Piper’s Son is a companion to Saving Francesca (though it can totally be read by itself though you won’t feel as if you are visiting old friends like you do if you read Saving Francesca first). Marchetta is a genius and I’m glad now I’ve read more of her than just Jellicoe Road (which I super loved). I loved both the perspectives of Francesca and then of Thomas Mackee. HIS STORY HURT ME SQUARE IN THE FEELS.

Throne of Glass/Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (2012 & 2013) : I’m SO happy I finally jumped on this bandwagon because it’s given me this appetite for fantasy now! Heir of Fire (book 3) made my best of 2014 releases list and these books were VERY high on my list this year of books I’ve read. OH MY GOODNESS. They just keep getting better and better.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013): This was definitely one of the best adult fiction books I read this year! SO FUNNY and sweet and I just couldn’t put it down!
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (2013): WOW. If you like thriller/mystery kinds of books, this one was just so twisty and awesome. Took a ripped from the headlines story and just kept me guessing until the final page.

How To Love by Katie Cotugno (2013): This book was incredible! I tend to steer away from teen pregnancy books just because a lot of them don’t seem like my thing but this book just captivated me! Love me some complicated, messy relationships!

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (2012): Hands down one of the most all-consuming reading experiences I had this year! This book is beautiful and sad and tragic and hopeful and OMG MY EMOTIONS.

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford (2009): THIS BOOK is such an underrated gem! Friendship! Finding oneself! If you like quirky characters and stories, check this one out!

 

 

Tell me which backlist books you read and LOVED this year! I’m always wanting to make sure I don’t skip excellent books from years past!

Bookish Playlist: Transport Me Somewhere Good

I’ve shared some bookish playlists before on the blog and some seasonal inspired playlists and I decided it was time for another bookish one because it’s been far too long. I always love making really random playlists with alllll the music I’m into because it helps me listen to different things…seriously some of my playlists are like Men With Beards or Song With Colors In Them (along with normal ones like Dance Party and songs to listen to on a rainy day).

Today I’m going to make a playlist with some of my favorite cities and give you some book recs for books that are set in that city!

 

music-playlist* There’s 22 songs (the widget makes it look like less so just scroll down) and here’s the link if you want it on Spotify!

books set in Paris for teens
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Just One Day by Gayle Forman: One of my all time favorite books! A great story of romance and self discovery that all starts in Paris!
French Milk by Lucy Knisley: I really enjoyed this graphic memoir about a girl and her mom who move to Paris!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: SWOON. A girl gets sent to boarding school in Paris and meets a boy there! I’m simplifying it soooo much but it’s so romantic and sweet and Anna is so funny!
Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: This one also takes place in NYC (and some other places) but it also goes back to boarding school in Paris!! It’s a companion to Anna and Lola so I’d recommend reading those first for the BEST experience but you don’t HAVE to. But seriously you should.

The Beautiful & Cursed by Page Morgan: Gothic setting + Paris + paranormal!
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Moss: Historical fiction + aristocracy + Paris + romance!
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan: Paris in the late 1800’s! Sisters! Dancing!
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly: A modern day story alternated with one from the French Revolution and the story of two girls whose lives collide when the girl (in the modern time) goes to Paris for break and become bound by a diary.
A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard: This is the sequel to Something Strange & Deadly and the main characters are off to Paris from Philadelphia. THIS SERIES IS SO GOOD GUYS.
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand: UM Paris and chocolate and romance?!? SWEETNESS OVERLOAD.

book set in NYC
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books set in nyc for teensbooks-set-in-new-york3
The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor: Cute story about friendship set in Manhattan!
The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E. Smith: The whole story doesn’t take place in NYC but there’s an important night that starts everything when a blackout happens in the city.
The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle:
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan: A fun Christmas-y book set all across the city!
Also Known As by Robin Benway: Teenage spy! Cute romance!
Where She Went by Gayle Forman: Companion to If I Stay and it’s Adam’s story and it might even be better than If I Stay to be honest with you!!
Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg: The story of 4 gift students studying at a prestigious performing arts high school!
The Ward by Jordana Frankel: I didn’t love this one I have to tell you for the sake of full disclosure but I thought it was interesting to imagine a NYC that was underwater.
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: OH THIS BOOK. It’s an adult book but the main character is a teen and you should just really read it!
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer: One of my favorite books. It deals with a boy who lost his father in 9/11 and a mystery that takes him all across the city.
Over You by Nicola Krauss & Emma McLaughlin: This one was just pure fun — a girl who has her own business fixing broken hearts and helping girls get over guys who dumped them.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: A mother tries to put together the pieces of her daughter’s final days and the secrets and mystery around how she died.
It’s Kind Of A Story by Ned Vizzini: About a boy who almost succeeds in killing himself and finds himself checking into a mental hospital. It’s been on my TBR for a while and I think it’s going to be even harder to read now that Ned Vizzini passed away (suicide).
The Diviners by Libba Bray: 1920s + NYC + supernatural things!
When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds: This one sounds so good and I’ve heard the author speak and he’s great. It’s set in a more rough neighborhood in Brooklyn. I honestly don’t know much more than that but I hear it’s AMAZING.
Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham: I hear this is kind of autobiographical in a way and it’s about a young girl trying to make it in the city as a struggling actress.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: Middle grade + I think some sort of time travel element.

Books set in San francisco


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Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: Looooove this companion to Anna and the French Kiss so much!

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant  & Katherine Applegate: Full disclosure..I did not care for this book. But it was set in San Francisco and lots of other people I trust DID like it. I did not though.

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr: A piano prodigy who quits and is trying to figure out normal life without piano and if that’s what she even wants.

Angelfall by Susan Ee: Angels of the apocalypse + a journey from Northern Cali to San Francisco to get the main character’s sister back when she is taken by warrior angels!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: A story centered around this mysterious sounding (as someone who hasn’t read it) bookstore in San Francisco!

 Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs: A spin on Medusa set in San Fran!

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett: Roaring twenties + San Francisco + paranormal!

 

Hope you enjoyed the playlist…it ended up being a pretty chill one overall!Let me know if you discovered any new songs you love/what you think of the playlist! Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my TBR and tell me which ones I should move up! Do you have any book recs set in these cities? I was going on memory mostly and I know I probably missed some!!

 

Obligatory “I’m GONE This Week” Post + Fun Stuff Will Be Here For YOU!

IT IS THAT TIME. I will be getting my butt on a train from Philly to NYC and having book-filled shenanigans tomorrow afternoon for the Book Expo of America.

If you are going:

* LET ME KNOW. I would love to see your face & chat! I’m sure you know my face at this point but here’s my post from last year in which I have the Many Face of Jamie.
* I am trying to get a group together to get ice cream if you are in town Tuesday night (probs around 7:45). I’ll be tweeting about it that day so keep an eye out if you want in! Possibly an afternoon trip to grab food (Macbar) on Wednesday! Open to anyone who wants to hang!

If you want to follow my adventures:

* Follow me on Twitter —> @brokeandbookish  I’ll be tweeting a little bit here and there. Probably not TOO much because I need to save my phone battery but I’ll be keeping you up to date on what’s going down.

* Follow me on Instagram —-> perpetualpageturner  I will be definitely be uploading BEA related pictures & books I’m excited about. Last year I even snagged a pic with RL STINE! You just never know what will go down at BEA!

I’m apologizing in advance if I miss your tweet in the BEA rush! I will try so hard to respond to all the things before I pass out each night!

What this means for the blog:

* I will be having a couple giveaways and my John Green interview up for you guys this week. Keeping it light and fun and with the hopes to give you guys at home some book love and make you feel at least a LITTLE bit like you are there? To further that feeling, you should PROBABLY check out Armchair BEA. Lots of fun prizes and chats going on this week!

* I will not be responding to emails or comments unless they are like super, super important and cannot wait. ( I don’t know what kinds of emails or comments those would be but I’m leaving that open).

* I shall be back (and hopefully in full capacity) next week with the normal content — book reviews and other shenanigans.

I SHALL MISS YOU GUYS!!! Be prepared for a recap and a highlight of the books I picked up at BEA!

Odds & Ends

1. Let’s talk books:

What I Just Finished
: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
What I’m Reading Now: The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson

 

2. What Books Have Made Their Way To My Shelves:

 

3. I will be leaving for BEA in about a week! (WILL I SEE YOU THERE?).  Here’s some of my Very Important Facial Expressions so you will be able to identify me. If you ARE going I’m thinking about crossing off some of my bucket list food items (specifically Big Gay Ice Cream Shop & Macbar) on Tuesday night (say about 7:30ish) and Wednesday afternoon..time to be decided. I’ll tweet it out for specific details but anyone who wants to come is welcome! I’m still open for BEA questions!

4. Giveaway winner has been posted and contacted for my Morgan Matson prize pack! Thanks to all who entered!

5. I am going to be tweaking my “book talk” thing a bit. I gave up star ratings a LOOONG time ago. Like back in 2010 or early 2011. But I know that a lot of people like them so it WAS hard to give that up because people want to know how you rate things. I gave them up because I had such a hard time being consistent with my star ratings. I felt conflicted about giving a book that might be a fun, high level enjoyment sort of read 5 stars  but then also give a 5 star to some book that was just a beautiful piece of work that shook me to my core and made me think about a lot of things. Because the 5 stars weren’t always for the same things and I just personally became frustrated and kept agonizing over it. HOWEVER, as clear as I think I am in my reviews with where my level of love is for a book (esp with my book review on a post-it) I do want my readers to know where it rated for me in the grand scheme. SO I’ve been tinkering with re-introducing a rating system that fits what I want and you will see that tomorrow and I’d love feedback. Basically it will have my rating and then it will have a FACTORS section below it so that I can explain the things that made it rate where it did so I can clarify that it was really loved because it was just absolute fun or if I’m rating it high for the writing and how it made me FEEL. There are SO many factors to why I love books and I LOVE books of all kinds and, for me, the star ratings limited me. Not all 5 star reads were 5 stars for the same reasons. SO I am hoping this works out for me!

6. What You May Have Missed On The Blog This Week:

Oh The Pressure — I’m talking 3 reasons why I’m afraid to borrow your books!
In which I talk about the book I FINALLY read after 2 years because I was scared.
Date With My Bookshelf #2 — back with a video and talking about 3 books on my shelves!
Absolutely illustrated my biggest struggle as a reader — 5 books I almost put down and I’m glad I did vs. 5 books I didn’t book down but WISH I did.
On Mother’s Day — talked a bit about how I was honoring my mom this mother’s day and some things I miss about her.

 

Let me know what you are reading and what you just finished!! And let me know if I will see YOU at BEA!!

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