Giveaway & Interview With Katherine Longshore (You need this book!)

So if you caught my post on Monday it was a review of Brazen by Katherine Longshore. OH MY GOODNESS. Please tell me it’s on your TBR. If you like fun historical novels or the show Reign…get on this. And if you are not NORMALLY into historical fiction…I vote giving this one a chance. Given my love for history and this book, you can imagine how excited I am for this interview with Katherine Longshore ALL about Brazen, her research and more!

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

1. Describe Brazen in 6 words or less.

I think the tagline does it well in three: Duty. Loss. Rebellion. Though I’d have to add two more: Love and Friendship.

2. In Gilt and Tarnish you wrote about a bit more well known figures in King Henry VIII’s court, what drew you to Mary Howard to write from her POV in Brazen?

One of the first things that drew me to Mary was that she never remarried. This was something almost unheard of in the Tudor court, and definitely frowned upon by the men in her family who were looking to capitalize on her gender, looks and status in any way possible. I wanted to know why. I could only figure that out for myself by getting inside her head for a while.

But probably the most compelling thing that inspired me to write about Mary was the Devonshire Manuscript. I came across a reference to it when I was researching Anne Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt’s relationship, and found the idea utterly compelling. It is a real leatherbound volume in which many different people (including Thomas Wyatt, and some say, Anne Boleyn) wrote poetry, comments and cryptic notes. It was apparently passed around the court for several years. Two of the most consistent hands were those of Madge Shelton and Margaret Douglas, and the initials stamped on the cover were M.F.—Mary (Howard) FitzRoy. I latched onto the idea of this literary brat pack roaming the galleries of Hampton Court and Henry’s other palaces, and took off from there.

3. How do you balance the historical facts and the fictional liberties when writing? How do you choose what remains completely accurate and what doesn’t?

I have always felt that when it comes to the Tudor court, truth is stranger than fiction. The raw material (the tyrannical king, the manipulative advisors, the six very different wives) is irresistible. Because of this, I try to be as accurate as I possibly can with the facts: who, what, where, when. If my characters birthdays were noted, I cannot make them older or younger. If there wasn’t solid evidence that Henry VIII had an affair with someone, I don’t include it. If Anne Boleyn was at Hampton Court on such and such a date, that’s where I keep her—even if it might suit my story better to have her somewhere else. Thus the long stretches in BRAZEN when Mary and Fitz are separated—he wasn’t at court. Period.

It’s the how and why that I get to play with, and this is where the fictional liberties come in. Why did Mary never remarry? How did she and Fitz feel, being married at fourteen and not allowed to consummate? I also get to do my inventing around the gaps in the historical record. There aren’t any complete lists of the ladies at the court during Anne Boleyn’s time as queen. There is no record of Mary Howard being at court, but then again there is no record of her being anywhere else. It suited the purpose of my story to have her be close to Anne, and there is mention of it in the historical record, so I followed my instincts to the (possibly) fictional conclusion.

My biggest departure from known facts again revolves around the Devonshire Manuscript. I wanted the book to be the touchstone I imagined it to be, but couldn’t find enough evidence in the book itself to suit my needs. So I invented extra pages where the three girls (Mary, Madge and Margaret) wrote lists of attributes of the men they might fall in love with. These lists don’t exist, but it made the story so much richer to include them.

4. It’s obvious from reading Brazen how much research you did…what was the most interesting or mind-blowing things that you came across in your research about King Henry VIII’s reign or life in general then?

One of my favorites is something I came across very early on, when I was just reading history out of interest rather than researching for a book. The Tudors drank wine and beer almost exclusively—never water. They thought water was poisonous to humans and, of course, at the time, it was because the rivers were both garbage dumps and sewers. The boiling and fermenting process in brewing beer killed the bacteria, making it potable. In their defense, however, the Tudors didn’t spend their entire lives inebriated, as they often drank what they called “small beer”, which contained very little alcohol. However, unappetizingly, it sometimes had the consistency of porridge.

5. There were so many compelling figures that were just brought to life in Brazen. Mary Howard aside, who was your favorite to research and to write?

I’m fascinated by Margaret Douglas. She is such an enigma. Daughter of the dowager Queen of Scotland and the Earl of Angus, niece to the King of England, royal and yet she had little political power. She was raised in part with Mary Tudor, who became Mary I, and I can’t help thinking that some of Margaret’s opinions and feelings would have been colored by that association. Margaret appeared on the outside to be the perfect courtier, and the obedient niece to Henry VIII, except for these (excuse the pun) royally imprudent love affairs that got her thrown in prison more than once. She spent her later years in and out of court (and sometimes as a thorn in the side of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth), finagling to get herself and her progeny closer to the throne—and succeeded when her grandson became James I. How’s that for tenacious?

6. If you were transported back into the reign of King Henry VIII, what 3 attributes do you think you’d have to survive King Henry’s court?

Discretion—I know when to keep my mouth shut.
Education—If I got transported back with all my faculties intact, I’d have the heads up on things like reading and writing, as well as basic hygiene. Not to mention the foreknowledge of what happens next and to whom.
Imagination—I’ve had some experience telling stories and making them seem absolutely true.

7. Kiss, Marry, Kill Brazen style — Henry Fitzroy, Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard?

I’d kiss Thomas Wyatt (I imagine he’s pretty good at it!), marry Henry FitzRoy (hello! Son of the king) and regrettably I’d have to kill Henry Howard (who historically made things difficult for himself—Henry VIII agreed with me and had him executed in 1547).

 

Thanks for such thoughtful answers, Katherine! After reading and loving Brazen, your answers were SOOO interesting to me! Especially the fact that the notebook passed around was real!!

 

GIVEAWAY TIME!

So, I’m really jealous of what Penguin Teen is offering up for giveaway for you guys because I WANT IT FOR MYSELF. I am dying to read Gilt and Tarnish after reading Brazen (two other books set in King Henry VIII’s court — seriously a young Anne Boleyn is the MC is one!!) and Courted is the paperback bind-up of those two. I’m also going to personally throw in Brazen (which will be fulfilled by myself) because I LOVED it so much and want you to read it!

Brazen by Katherine Longshore9780147513687_large_Courted

So what you will win:
* A copy of Courted (bind-up of Gilt & Tarnish) —-> prize fulfilled by Penguin Teen
* A hardcover of Brazen —–> prize fulfilled by me!

US Only.
Ends 7/17 11:59pm

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About The Author

Katherine_Longshore_1589_CL_57_W

Katherine Longshore (www.katherinelongshore.com) is the author of Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen. She lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshipping dog. Follow her on Twitter!

Check out COURTED (paperback compilation of Gilt and Tarnish) // Check out BRAZEN

 

 

Be sure to follow along with the rest of the blog tour to find out more about Katherine Longshore, her books, and some of her favorite historical hotties!

Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine

Thursday, July 10Perpetual Page Turner

Tuesday, July 15Alice Marvels

Thursday, July 17 I am a Reader

Tuesday, July 22 Novel Sounds

Thursday, July 24 Starry-Eyed Revue

Tuesday, July 29 The Midnight Garden

Thursday, July 31 Novel Thoughts

True Life: I Think I’m A Creep

I have a confession. Not a blogging confession like I did yesterday. But a shameful personal confession.

My love for books has made me a big ol’ creep. Creep status to the max. And it got even worse this past weekend.

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Let me set the scene for you:

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I was at the pool this past Sunday. Sunning my pasty self and reading after a really stressful week. I always have this THING where I HAVE TO see what other people are reading if they are reading in public. If there is a book, I will crane my neck or James Bond it to see what it is. I don’t even try to be discrete about it. It’s embarrassing for whoever is with me I’m sure.

 

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Sometimes I can easily tell based on the cover and sometimes I’m seeing a book I’ve never heard of and typing it into Goodreads that very moment. Well, I had already taken a gander at all the books around me (new David Sedaris, a romance novel, some book I never heard of) but there were two that alluded me! I even tried to take a picture to zoom in (WOAH MEGA CREEP YEAH) to see what it was but it was too blurry.

So what did I do?

What any crazy book person hopefully would do? (I say hopefully so I’m not alone in this).

I sent Will on a secret mission to walk past and secure the names of these books! And he did. I was trying so hard not to giggle as Will got out of the pool all nonchalantly and walked around (awkwardly with no destination) to check out their books. This couple was packin’ a Game of Thrones book and the new Khaled Hosseini, in case you were as curious as I was.

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WHAT A CREEP AM I???

I can’t help it though. Any time I am at the beach or on public transportation or a coffee shop or my pool…I cannot walk away without knowing what people are reading. It’s a compulsion really. I don’t even know WHY I need to know…I just DO. I’m sure it’s made people uncomfortable if they catch me staring but, hey, maybe just angle your book better? Help a sista out!

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And don’t even GET me started on the e-reader business. I NO SEE YOUR BOOK! Be more courteous, bookworm friend. Unless of course you are reading dino erotica (I wish that was not a thing that I could type and it be true) than carry on. I don’t need to know! Otherwise, I’m going to to resort to creepier methods.

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I don’t know if this is borderline creepy or if it’s just a bookworm quirk? I’ve told Will NOT to answer that. I mean, we all knew I’m kind of creepy when it comes to books because I REALLY like trying to chat up strangers in the bookstore and other places (not annoyingly or interrupting most of the time) so maybe I just AM a creep?

So give it to me straight….is this normal bookworm behavior or am I just a creep? YOU CAN TELL ME. Do you have any other bookworm tendencies that could label you a creep? Any of you talk to strangers in bookstores like I do??

Top Ten Blogging Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Blogging Confessions

I originally did this post a couple years ago after we talked about our top ten bookish confessions but I’m going to add to this though some may be the same!

1. Sometimes I feel like I spend too much time blogging and feel quite unbalanced.

I’ve talked about the blurred lines I feel recently but I really struggle with this. It’s hard because I love doing all this but other times I feel like it’s TOO MUCH.

2. I’m never ahead with my blogging schedule.

Ever. The most I’m ever ahead is a week and that’s when I really have my shit together. I’m always like a day or two ahead if that. 4 years and I haven’t managed to find the art of getting ahead? OH WELL. I seem to work well like this.

3. I currently have 89 drafts with half finished posts.

And this doesn’t include my list of post ideas. Some of them are just a couple sentences for an idea I had for a post and I get it down in a draft so I know where I was going with it and some are ALMOST finished posts but it’s RIDICULOUS. I have too many ideas apparently.

4. I’ve fallen behind on commenting on blogs and replying back to my comments and I can’t tell you how much guilt I feel.

I used to be really on top of that and then I wasn’t and it’s hard for me because the community is what has kept me doing this for 4 years. A lot of it had to do with this but also I let my guilt about it kind of get in the way to the point where I just don’t do ANYTHING about it because I feel so bad. I read EVERY SINGLE COMMENT and I’m trying to get better.

5. I often feel overwhelmed with trying to keep up on social media with my blog.

Honestly, there’s days where I just don’t feel like socializing or don’t have anything to say. I know I can choose NOT to and it’s okay but then I feel this nagging in my head like THOU SHALT BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA LEST THOU SHALL BE FORGOTTEN IN AN INSTANT. I don’t know why my brain talks like that but it does. Seriously though, I love talking to people but sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by it all. I can’t keep up on all the conversations.

6. Sometimes I’m tired of being part of somebody’s marketing plan.

I so appreciate all the things I get to be a part of and all the books that I get for review because I LOVE GETTING SHOUTY ABOUT BOOKS I LOVE but sometimes I’m just so over being part of somebody’s marketing plan. I have to refocus a lot and remember I’m reading the book because I want to. And if I’m reading it because I feel like I HAVE to then I put it down. This is why I decided I wasn’t going to call myself a book reviewer anymore — I needed that distinction FOR MYSELF so I could keep doing and loving this. I’m a girl who likes to read a lot and I like to talk/blog about what I read whether I liked it or not. I’ve come a long way with being okay with NOT writing a review of books I don’t want to and give myself permission to feature it in some other way. I’m not going to lie…sometimes it’s gotten to the point where I almost want to get myself taken off every list and never read ARCs ever again. But then I get back the feelings of I LOVE BEING PART OF THIS STUFF and I’m good for a while until I get waves of feeling burnt out. It’s always a refocusing game for me.

7. I deny about 80% (I don’t know where that math came from) of the blog tours pitched to me.

I’m really, really picky about what I accept. It needs to either be for a book our author that I love or am excited about. Sometimes I’ll do it if I think it will REALLY appeal to my readership (namely a giveaway of something popular) but my own feelings are MEH about it. Also, I need the content for the blog tour to be actual CONTENT. I don’t want some filler post. I want something interesting and valuable and something I’d want to read.

8. My blog emails are out of control.

I’m the worst at responding to emails so if you email me and it takes me forever..it’s not you…it’s me! Email is always the last thing on my to-do list for some reason ESPECIALLY when I’m busy.

9. Sometimes I worry about being judged for “liking too many books” on my blog

No, I don’t LOVE every book and not all are my favorites but I have way more books that I’ve at least LIKED compared to the ones I didn’t like, felt MEH about or hated on this blog. I’m not UBER critical and I am REALLY good at knowing what books I will like. Like really good. And I put down books pretty quickly if I don’t think it’s going to work out. I just like to read books and talk about them and I hate that this feeling creeps up because I’m happy enjoying books and I choose not to be an uber critical reader. I’m okay with that because I know I’m being honest in how I feel about books and that’s what matters to me. (You can check out this post for expanded thoughts on this)

10. I’m still forever and always the slowest at getting out giveaway prizes:

When life gets busy, this is the thing I forget about. Plus getting to the post office before it closes? SO HARD. And Saturdays I’m always out the door before I remember OH HEY I NEEDED TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE. They always get there and maybe it’s a no-no for how long it takes me but such is life.

Bonus: I have lots of little blogging insecurities I won’t tell you about. But I have them. Even though I’m pretty chill about all this blogging stuff…I still have them and I can’t help seem to help it.

 

So tell me…if you are a blogger…what are some of your confessions?

Book Talk: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Book Talk: Brazen by Katherine LongshoreBrazen by Katherine Longshore
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- June 2014
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Gilt, Tarnish, Manor of Secrets

 
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

A1
Brazen is set in England during Henry VIII’s reign during the time when Anne Boleyn was Queen. It follows Lady Mary Howard, wife of King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, through her marriage to Fitzroy and her time at court as she navigates friendships, romances, the scandals of the court and more.

a2Must get my hands on Gilt and Tarnish. ALSO, historical fiction how I have missed THEE.

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1. It’s a perfect blend of history and fun: SERIOUSLY it reminded me of one of my current obsessions — The CW’s Reign. There’s the historical facts there but some great fictional speculation and storytelling that just brings it to life. I loved seeing the lives of characters like Anne Boleyn and more obscure characters, like the main character Mary Howard, just feel like people rather than these names on paper. It was definitely more of a “fun” historical fiction kind of novel rather than something more serious set in that time period or something that makes you feel like OH HISTORY CLASS. It has that vibe of all my favorite CW shows (a la Gossip Girl) in the way the drama and the romance and the scandal is so addictive but the research and the history is THERE. I knew the story of Anne Boleyn and what happened to her as a wife of Henry but Katherine Longshore made me see it in a new way and really FEEL it.

2. Being in King Henry VIII’s court is SO ADDICTIVE: Henry VIII’s history is one I remember decently from history classes and I know there is tons of drama and, well, Katherine Longshore definitely makes use of the history there to weave her story of Mary Howard, who is married to Henry’s bastard son Henry Fitzroy, and show all the happenings in the court during the time in which she is there. I mean, Henry VIII’s court is just so scandalous and crazy that it just has a lot of story to be told. PAGE TURNING I TELL YOU.

3. It was so engaging it had me wanting to find out more: I found myself looking up things to see if it really happened or if this person existed or what happened to so and so. I just wanted to learn MORE about this slice of history. I love a historical fiction book that makes me want to LEARN just because it was so engaging.

4. I loved the romance: Mary Howard and Henry Fitzroy’s marriage was arranged and with that comes much more about responsibility and duty than romance but Mary wants to LOVE him — even though sometimes he’s distant, that court life takes him away a lot and that Henry VIII won’t let them consummate her marriage which makes her feel like a pawn. I loved the slow-burn longing and questioning to figure out if there is something there over the years. The awkwardness at times. The way they explore their relationship. It captivated me the whole time!

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ fun, addictive, perfect blend of fact and fictional liberties, loved the time period
- little slow/dragging at times

Re-readability: Probably not but I would definitely pick up the other two books in the “series” which are also set in King Henry VIII’s court in Tudor England.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I already own it! It’s so pretty!

a5fans of the CW show Reign or even The Tudors though I’d say it’s more like Reign to me, readers who maybe aren’t SUPER into historical fiction because it’s a little bit more accessible than other historical fiction I’ve read (not super daunting), historical fiction readers who like books set in Tudor England,

a8Brazen was an addictive romp through King Henry VIII’s court that re-acquainted me with historical figures I’m familiar with and introduced me to new ones I’d never heard about. As someone who loves history, I found it to be the perfect balance of fun while using the historical facts to weave together a story that makes it all just come alive. Can’t wait to read Gilt and Tarnish to get my scandalous and drama-filled historical fix — especially while my current tv obsession, Reign, is on break!

 

review-on-post-itBrazen Katherine Longshore review - for fans of Reign

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* What are some other books you’ve read and recommend set during this time period?
* TELL ME YOUR FEELS ABOUT MARY AND FITZROY’S ENDING!!


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

I Do’s, Exciting News & Milestones.

Image From This Month

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My youngest sister, my dad, my sister Angela and I. LOVE IT.

JUNE In One Word

WEDDING
Everything I did pretty much was related to my sister’s wedding

 

5 Things About My Life In June:

1. My younger sister (Genevieve & Adela’s mom) got married!! It was stressful leading up to it because my sister is suuuuper laid back and not at all good at these sorts of things so I did a lot of THINGS as MOH to make sure everything ran smoothly. BUT it was a super fun wedding and my sister looked seriously gorgeous! And as I speak right now we have the 4 girls to take care of for a week while they are on their honeymoon! Thankfully the boys are staying with my dad for the week.

2. Will got a new job!! — I am so, so excited. My brother-in-law was able to get him in the door at his company when something opened up and HE GOT IT. It couldn’t have come at a better time and, as you all know, things have been rough for us in the past couple years so this was AWESOME NEWS. Waaaay better pay, better commute, benefits and tons of room for growth!!

3. LOTS of World Cup watching: We watch a lot of soccer in general in our household (mostly Will getting up early to watch while I blog and watch next to him) but we’ve been non-stop with the World Cup. We went to a crazy bar for the first US game and I felt like I was at a frat party getting beer thrown at me. We’ve had lots of World Cup fun so far going to different bars and watching with people.

4. My blog turned 4!!– Sometimes I’m like I ONLY HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR 4 YEARS and other days I’m like HOLY CRAP 4 YEARS THAT IS A LOT OF TIME. I reflected upon how book blogging has changed my life in these 4 years.

5. I signed up for a 5k! So if you heard the story of my first 5K fail, you know it did not end well. SO I signed up for another one for July as part of the YA Runs A 5K!

 

6 Songs That Were Most Popular On My Ipod This Month:

I put all my Monthly Rewinds In a Spotify playlist so you can listen to them here now ! I also have a June playlist filled with other AWESOME songs that wouldn’t fit on here.

 

 

1. Rollercoaster by Bleachers

2. Whispers by Passenger

3. Skin & Bone by Stu Larsen


4. Bloodlines by Mimicking Birds

5. Same Mistakes by The Echo-Friendly

6. Love In Stereo by Sky Ferreira

 

Follow my JUNE playlist

 

 

Top 3 Books I Read This Month:

I read 6 books this month which is more than I thought considering ALL THE THINGS I had to do for my sister’s wedding.

1. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson — I gave a really short “Save the Date” with my thoughts. Full review to come! Seriously, if you are on the fence with checking this one out look at my thoughts!
2. Tease by Amanda Maciel — I had some issues with characterization outside the main character but this book, as a concept, was AWESOME. A book about bullying from the POV of one of the bullies. Very realistic feeling!
3. Brazen by Katherine Longshore: I am a Reign addict and this historical fiction book was a fun romp through royal life in King Henry VIII court! (review to come)

 

Most Popular Review This Month

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Tease by Amanda Maciel was definitely very popular because it’s a bit of a difficult one to swallow so I’m not surprised it was my most popular review!

 

 

Most Popular 5 Blog Posts Overall This Month

1. How 4 Years Of Book Blogging Has Changed My Life– It was really nice to reflect on how this journey has changed my life.
2. When the well-rounded reader finds herself not so well-rounded anymore– I shared about how I felt I was always an eclectic reader and then realized, when looking at the books I’ve read in the past year or so, that maybe I’m not anymore?
3. 5 Things You Could Do To Piss Me Off As A Reader: Your comments further prove you are all my people!
4.My Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year: Loved talking about the books that are at the top of the top this year so far for me! SO MANY GOOD ONES, YOU GUYS!
5. 3 Things About Me As A Reader : I noticed 3 things that, as a reader, I seem to always be the opposite of other people on.

And a post that got lost in the shuffle with my sister’s wedding: I’m talking about blurred lines in blogging!

 

What I’ve Been Up To On The Youtubes This Month:


My BEA Book Haul

A to Z Bookish Survey Tag

3 New Obsessions In June

1. Sherlock — I needed a new show to watch and this is it! OBSESSED!
2. This amazing pulled pork grilled cheese from a pub down the street: OMG SERIOUSLY.We went there for a couple World Cup games and I couldn’t resist getting it every time. WHY CAN IT NOT BE HEALTHY BECAUSE I WOULD EAT IT ALWAYS.

3. Chasing Life on ABC Family: What can I say? I love my ABC Family shows!

 

3 Things I’m Looking Forward To In July

1. The Color Run 5k: It’s going to be fun even though I hate running!
2. Some relaxing days to unwind from the crazy that was June. Seriously, having no plans would be GREAT!
3. Beach days! We’ve only been to the beach one time so far this summer so I am making it a priority!

Favorite Quote From A Book I Read In June

From Gayle Forman’s novella, Just One Night. SWOON.

“And the kiss feels like something completely new. But it also feels like something deeply known.”


5 Posts I Starred In My Reader That You Should Check Out

1. Kick Feedburner To The Curb: I’ve thought Feedburner was a pain in the butt for quite sometime with all its shenanigans of not showing all your followers and doing crazy things. I have been putting off switching but Hannah’s post is giving me motivation!

2. The First Step To Anything Is Show Up: I feel like I needed to hear this right now! “Stop talking about how much you want something, and just start showing up. Let your actions do the talking.”

3. How Self Aware Should Someone Be?: Some definite food for thought! Especially as someone who feels like they are pretty self aware. LOTS TO THINK ABOUT. And I love that the convo stemmed from a book!

4.The Truth About Social Media : One of those things I always try to think about but sometimes I lose sight of it and get caught up in this envious state. Always a nice reminder!

5. 5 Travel Mistakes I Keep Making Again and Again: This is one of my favorite travel blogs and her honesty is so refreshing. I loved this post because it’s nice to see even seasoned pros don’t have it together when it comes to travel!

 

 

Pick a category (or 5… or all of them) and tell me what went on in YOUR life in June!! What sort of things were noteworthy for you in May? New obsessions? Any new song recs?? Best books you read this month? Great posts I missed on your blog?

 

Ten Classics On My To-Be-Read List!

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Of My Favorite Classics or Ten Classics On My TBR List.

I used to read way more classics and, to be honest, in the past couple years I haven’t much been interested in the classics like I used to be. Here are 10 that I absolutely DO want to read though.

classics-i-want-to-read

1. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: This is one I bought a zillion years ago and I have always WANTED to read it just forgot about it.
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker: I feel like this is one I just should have read by now. Plus I bought it forever ago.

3. Beloved by Toni Morrison: I’ve heard such good things about this one!
4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: I had tried to read this in high school but couldn’t get into but I think I’ll appreciate it more now?
5.Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: I’ve read other Bradbury but this is like one of THE biggest classics there is and everyone seems to have read it but me.

6. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: I haven’t read this Jane Austen and I want to read all her books!
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Yeah, I know, how have I not read this one yet?
8. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell: This book is mammoth but ONE DAY.
9. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith: I have had so many people I admire and respect say this book is among their favorites.
10. East of Eden by John Steinbeck: I’ve read other Steinbeck books but this beast always scares me.

 

 

So tell me…which ones have you read? Which ones I should prioritize? Tell me one of your favorite classics or a classic you think I would really like!

Blurred Lines

Sometimes I feel like there are very blurred lines between my life and blogging. Meaning, it’s really hard to separate all things blogging as they seem to bleed into every hour of my life very easily. I have to consciously UNPLUG from blogging because I don’t think the book blogger hat comes off unless I physically make it. There seems to not be a designated “blogging time” for me and then I’m done. There’s always something I could be working on with the blog. Comments I could be replying to. Emails to respond to. Blogs I could be reading. Conversations I could be having. Posts I could be writing to get ahead. Always something I could be doing. In addition to the books I could be reading. And I’ve REALLY noticed it lately as I’ve stepped back and taken inventory of my life.

I don’t know if it’s just a me thing? My own inability to make some boundaries? But I feel like I’m always “on the clock”, which isn’t awful because I love doing it, but as I’ve talked about I feel really unbalanced sometimes. I’m good about unplugging on the weekend and going to do other things not related to blogging (and I won’t say NO to other things because of blogging stuff) but I find most of my free time IS spent doing this. It’s the automatic thing when I come home and have free time. Fire up the laptop and work on something. Or when I am “unplugged” I’m never NOT checking Twitter or Instagram or reading a comment if an email comes through. Dear god I check it the moment I wake up and before I go to bed. It’s become an addiction.

There’s no separation between “life” and “thing I like to do” and I cannot honestly tell if that’s a good or a bad thing because 1) I love doing this and it does bring me a sense of fulfillment in aspects of my life and 2) I am a person who, when passionate about something, puts my whole self into it. Maybe it’s just part of having a thing that you love so much? I don’t know.

What got me thinking about all this? I was contemplating doing “Summer Hours” on the blog. In the past 4 years I’ve noticed that traffic and comments and general activity tends to go down in the summer. I, also with the rest of the world, seem to get busier in the summer. Why not post a bit less for myself and others? Why not actively spend less time on the blog as a PLAN? It seems to happen ANYWAYS because I look outside and can’t bear to be inside but why not be proactive about it?

I’m not the sort of person who feels compelled to post all the time. I have my general plan I shoot for and works for me (5x a week) but if I don’t feel like it or don’t have time…I don’t do it. I mean, I barely posted for the months leading up to my wedding. When I don’t feel like doing things blog related I DON’T and I honestly feel no stress in that decision. So it’s not a matter of feeling like I have to.

It’s just like blogging has become this extra appendage so to speak and it’s so embedded in my daily routine it’s second nature. It makes me realize, when I think about doing something like Summer Hours,  just how MUCH time I spend on all this without even realizing it. It scares me if I were to even try to calculate it out. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do the whole Summer Hours thing or not but I’m still thinking on it because there’s a lot to consider!

I don’t think I have a point to all my rambling except for the fact I just really was curious how it is for you guys. Do you feel this way? How do you separate it? Is it hard for you to turn blogger mode off (aside from the obvious when you go do other things?) And if you aren’t a blogger, do you have anything in your life that you feel similarly about?

Save The Date: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

To learn more about why I started doing this Save The Date feature and how it differs from my reviews — go here!

 I'll Give you The sun by Jandy Nelson

 

* Release date according to Goodreads

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Pre-Order It | Add It To Goodreads


What I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson is about:

Jude and Noah are twins and have always been very close — Jude the popular, wild daredevil who is outgoing and fun and Noah the quiet, artistic outcast who loves the boy next door. The cracks in Noah and Jude’s relationship start to form at age 13/14 and one event will completely shatter them (told through Noah’s perspective) and then 3 years later the twins, who are stranger to each other and barely speaking, will start to find their way back to each other (told through Jude’s perspective).

Why You Should Be Saving The Date for I’ll Give You The Sun:

1. The writing is just absolutely gorgeous: In typical Jandy fashion, the writing is just so damn beautiful. It’s an art form with the way she writes — vivid and beautiful imagery and metaphors and these sentences that just evoke so much feeling. I was absolutely tangled up in her prose and wanted to stay there forever.

2. The way the story is told kept me turning the pages: The (very long) chapters are told in alternating fashion — chapters where 13/14 year old Noah tells the story and then 16 year old Jude tells the story 3 years later. So we see the beginning fractures to their relationship through Noah’s eyes and we see where they are in the present through Jude’s eyes and it was just SO effective to hear from both of the twins and also heartbreaking as a reader because we KNOW secrets and key pieces that they are missing that could help repair their relationship. We carry the burden of their secrets and biggest hurts.

3. It’s the best book I’ve read all year: This book was 100% a Jamie book. I’ve already mentioned the FLAWLESS writing but it was just the kind of intensely beautiful and heartbreaking book that always burrows itself inside my heart. Memorable characters, moments that steal your breath away and a portrait of humanness so raw it hurts at times (I wept at times). I wanted to savor it and devour it all at the same time which is the best kind of book for me. Also, I need my finished copy because it WILL be reread ASAP.

4. I finished it and I was speechless. It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words but I’ll Give You The Sun is just a book unlike most. Jandy Nelson is one of the best writers out there in YA and elsewhere and I feel like my words aren’t even worthy enough to begin to talk about this book. The struggle is real, friends, to even begin to try to describe this book. Just experience it and let her writing and storytelling dazzle you. You don’t READ a Jandy Nelson novel, you live it. Her words will ignite you.

 

Who Should Save The Date: fans of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere obviously, people who like poetic and lyrical writing, fans of Melina Marchetta/Cath Crowley/Hilary T. Smith (I also likened, when I reviewed Shatter Me, her kind of writing to Jandy’s writing if that helps), fans of siblings stories, people who like books that are both heartbreaking and beautiful, lovers of character driven novels, people looking for a unique read, fans of books that make you think, PEOPLE WHO THINK YA CANNOT BE LITERARY (read this and I dare you to tell me that again!)

 

A Sneak Peek: “A horrible flailing monster of a noise comes out of me and then the whole disgusting night wants to come out of me too. I run to the side of the road and throw up each grain of beer and that disgusting drag of a cigarette, ever last lying, revolting kiss, until I’m just a bag of clattering bones” (this is taken from the advanced copy and could be subject to change)

“I think the heart of every living thing on earth is beating in my body.” (this is taken from the advanced copy and could be subject to change)

Be on the lookout for my FULL review closer to the release date where I will flesh out my thoughts a little more!

 

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Putting it on your TBR list?

3 Things About Me As A Reader

Before I entered the wonderful internet world of readers (oh what a sad bookworm I was before I had PEOPLE to talk to about books) I had no idea HOW other people read. I knew how my brain processed books and what made me like them and not like them and feel certain ways. I knew what bothered me and what would distract me from the book. But, until I started getting into Goodreads and the book blogging world, I never got to see how other readers processed what they read.

It’s been really a good experience because I feel like I’ve learned a lot from other readers and how they see things. I’ve become a more observant reader and just more open-minded. It’s been a good experience but I’ve also noticed how completely opposite I can be from other readers which was (and still is) always eye-opening to me. It’s always been amazing to me how many people can read the same book and have vastly different reactions and perspectives on it. It’s great because there’s always something to talk about and think about.

Today I wanted to talk about 3 of the BIGGEST things about me as a reader that I’ve discovered are different than a lot of readers.

(I shouldn’t have to make this disclaimer but I am: I’m not saying I am right or they are wrong or reading one way is better than the other. There is no wrong or right way to read. You just read and I just read and we come to our own glorious conclusions and that’s what makes reading so fun. I’m just pointing out things about me as a reader. And I would love to hear about you as a reader — especially if you differ from me!)

 

1. I do not have to like the characters to like the book:

Sure, it’s always nice when I LOVE the characters of the book I’m reading. But I could totally HATE a character and still give the book a high rating. The character could be the most difficult character ever and I could still think the book is good. I think, for me, what I need is some connection or understanding of why the character is like that. Feel like there are real and believable motivations behind them. I need it to feel real. I read Tease by Amanda Maciel recently and it’s from the POV of a bully who doesn’t think she’s to blame at all when a girl she bullied commits suicide. Yeah, that is HARD to read because I want to punch her but I thought it was a really interesting and compelling book — mostly because the character had a lot to her that I could UNDERSTAND.

I think another thing is that sometimes I realize characters, like people, aren’t perfect and they do dumb things and they aren’t always nice or are at a time of their life where they aren’t their best. (I think it’s also I see it as a very human thing to be flawed so sometimes they feel more real to me). I think a lot about Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy. The character is downright awful but, oh god, did I feel her…what it must have been like to think you were dying, to act a certain way because you thought you were, and then you suddenly have your whole life ahead of you. There’s anger and confusion and it manifested. I just GOT her though I know a lot of people didn’t like the book because they couldn’t stomach her (which I understood but felt differently!).

I like watching my characters grow and sort through messy things and NOT be perfect. As hard and frustrating as it might be sometimes and as much as maybe I’ll find myself NOT loving them. Doesn’t mean I like EVERY flawed and difficult character but it doesn’t equal insta-dislike because they are hard to like or do something I don’t agree with or are very difficult.

2. When something happens in a book that is HORRIBLE, to me, it doesn’t mean that the book/author is condoning it, so I don’t rate based on how much I dislike a THING that happened:

For example, just because there is racism or slut-shaming or horrible behavior in a book, to me it doesn’t mean the book is condoning it. (However, there are cases where there are things that are inherently racist or sexist in a book. That’s not what I’m talking about and I believe we should always think about what IS implied). I’m just talking about when something bad happens in a book that, just because I don’t like that THING, it doesn’t mean I will hate the book because I think the action in the book is wrong.

So when the word “slut” (like in Tease by Amanda Maciel) is thrown around a lot it might hurt my heart to hear it and see the slut-shaming but I don’t believe (though I don’t KNOW I suppose) that the author condones this…I more so see it as they are showing these awful things that unfortunately DO happen in real life. I can’t tell you the kind of slut-shaming I saw and maybe silently contributed to (or just haphazardly used words like slut) back in the day. I learned. I grew. I was not an evil person. It can be hard for me to read some of these things but I don’t see that that the book is saying THIS IS OKAY but more like a) just being realistic because not everything is perfect in life or b) using it as a vehicle to tell a story that people need to hear and could hold up a mirror and make someone think about their life.

I mean, I read a book about slavery, something I obviously hate and think is awful, but I personally don’t DISLIKE a book just because I don’t agree with slavery or I’m not going to see an author saying YES THIS WAS A GOOD THING. Things like racism and slut-shaming SHOULD make me mad, but for me, my rating is not based on how much I hate what the characters are DOING..it’s more about the overall story, how these factors play in and how it’s executed for me even though things might be hard for me to read about. Just because there is something I don’t like (bullying/slut-shaming/racism/sexism) as part of a story doesn’t mean I’m going to rate THE BOOK based on my dislike/not agreeing with those things because I don’t think it’s in there to say THIS IS OKAY.

 

3. Similarly, getting angry at a book doesn’t mean I hate it.

Sometimes the best things I’ve read are the things that light a burning fire under me and make me so, so angry. Now, sure, there are books that make me mad because they just don’t make sense or I don’t like but sometimes getting angry at a book is a GOOD thing for me. I like a book that challenges me and that has the ability to get me all riled up. I can always tell if someone skims a review if I’ve said “this book made me so MAD!!” and they say “sorry you didn’t like it” but, in reality, I DID like it. Anger does not always equal bad experience for me.

 

So what about you? How do you feel about these 3 things about me as a reader? Do you have ot like the characters in your books? How do you approach books when you don’t like issues that are happening in them? Like I said, there’s no right or wrong way, I’m just pointing out how I interact with books as reader and I’d LOVE to hear about your experience ESPECIALLY if you read differently because I learn so much from how other people see things as they read. Outside of what I’ve talked about, are there are any things you can think of that you’ve noticed about how you read compared to the rest of the reading community?

My Top Ten Favorite Covers of 2014 So Far

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Book Covers

I decided to switch up the topic because I’ve realized that I don’t really pay attention to trends or elements when it comes to covers but I just know if I like them or not and I know what stands out to me. Also, when I say I hate a trend, let’s say the girls with a pretty dress for no reason trend, then I’ll find a book that IS TOTALLY THAT TREND and somehow like it.
I absolutely HATE whitewashing of covers so that’s about the only definite I can think of. Getting sick of random faces or people on the covers or like half faces or headless figures. Girls with pretty dresses for no reason.
I tend to like: minimalist covers, great typography, pretty color schemes, covers WITHOUT people on them (exception: if it is interesting — I’m just so sick of the boring pretty girl doing nothing on the cover thing), illustrated covers, covers that cleverly portray some detail or scene from the book, covers that have incredible detail to them, good photography

With that being said here are the top 10 favorite covers so far this year:

 

best book covers 2014

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: Love the color scheme & the text bubbles!
The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton: I have a thing for feathers & this cover is gorgeous. Even more gorgeous in person! Simple and love the color scheme!

best-adult-fiction-covers-2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: Rainbow always gets great covers! I just love this one and the typography is perfect!
The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman: I think this is so beautiful and whimsical! Love the details!

best-teen-book-covers-2014

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper: I love the rope detail and really love this font and the way the words fit with the rope!
Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid: I love maps sooo there’s that. Plus the color scheme and the typography is excellent! Really always stands out to me when I see it!

YA-covers-2014

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang: God I love this book and the cover is perfect for it. I love the little details and it’s just perfect honestly!
Anatomy of A Misfit by Andrea Portes: I know. Random chairs? There’s just something about this cover that catches my eye every time!

book-covers-2014

Far From You by Tess Sharpe: Really great book! But I always just loved this cover!
The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder: I normally don’t love super pink colors but there is something  about this cover that I just ADORE. I love the banners and the colors together and it’s just so pretty!!

Honorable mentions:

TTT5

Damsel Distressed, Words & Their Meanings, No One Else Can Have You, Everything Leads To You

 

 

So tell me…which covers from my list are you in love with?? Do you DISLIKE any of the ones I picked (I won’t be offended!)? What kinds of covers do you typically love? What don’t you like? Any covers that you think I missed and would be into?

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