Discussion Post: The Struggles of Blog Commenting and Why We Should Do It Anyway

 

Two of my biggest struggles since I started blogging have been coming up with topics for discussion posts and commenting on blog posts.  This week I decided to kill two birds with one stone and write a discussion post to share my thoughts on commenting on blog posts.  Smart thinking, right? LOL!

An incident this past weekend with my husband is what has inspired this post.  I was spending some time Saturday morning getting caught up on replying to everyone who had commented on my blog posts that week and then paying return visits to their blogs to see what they’ve posted since my last visit.  My husband, eager to get on with the rest of our weekend plans, was hovering and pacing and asking me why I was spending so much time doing what I was doing:  “Do you do this every week? For everyone who comments on your blog?  Why? That just seems like too much work.”

Why Commenting is so Important

Well yeah, he’s right (Shhh, don’t tell him I said that!).  Commenting is a lot of work and it does take a lot of time. But that said, unless you are just blogging for yourself and have no interest in becoming a part of the blogging community, I think it’s also one of the most important things that bloggers do.  It’s important, not just because it’s a way to show support to your fellow bloggers, but also because the more you comment and put yourself out there, the more your own blog is visible to others in the community.

I don’t mean to make that sound self-serving though; I just mean that there are a TON of blogs out there.  Unless you are extremely lucky, you can’t just start a blog and expect a Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come” moment.  No, with so many blogs out there, you have to do something to let people know that you’re out there too because it’s just so easy to get overlooked.  Commenting is a great way to put yourself out there and start building a rapport with your fellow bloggers.  It helps to build a sense of community rather than competition and I think that sense of community is important to many of us.

Arguments Against Commenting (And Why They’re Wrong):

 

  1. I don’t have time to comment on blogs. I’m too busy.

Although I can completely relate to this one, sorry, nope.  Because of the reasons above, you have to make the time, no matter how busy you are.  I’ll freely admit that, depending on how crazy my week is, sometimes it does take me a few days to reply to comments and pay that return visit to a commenter’s blog.  But aren’t we all busy?  I’m happy whenever I get comments back from fellow bloggers, whether it’s days or even weeks later, and I don’t think there are any bloggers out there who hold it against me if I don’t immediately reply to their comments either.

To help facilitate my blog commenting, I’ve actually started blocking out time for it on my calendar.  I try to do 30 minutes a night at least twice during the week and then I’ll spend up to an hour on Saturday getting caught up the rest of the way.  I used to just haphazardly comment here and there whenever I had a few minutes, but I feel more efficient and organized if I just build it into my daily routine.

I also prioritize when I comment. If you’re a regular visitor/commenter on my blog, you’re the first one I’m going to reply to and pay that return visit.

This is probably petty of me, but I will also stop commenting on a blog if I pay several visits and that blogger doesn’t reply to my comments or ever pay that return visit to my blog.  It takes me a while to get to that point, usually weeks or even months since I know people are busy, but it does occasionally happen.  It’s like I said above, there are just too many blogs out there and bloggers who want the interaction for me to waste my time on someone who clearly has no interest in me.  I remember when I first started blogging, I was regularly visiting a very popular blog and no matter how many times I commented on her posts, she never once acknowledged me.  I was also following her on twitter and I remember replying to a couple of her tweets and watching her go down the list of replies and skip right over mine to reply to her friends.  That elitist/clique-like mentality was a real turnoff for me so I unfollowed her everywhere and haven’t visited her blog since.

 

  1. I never know what to say on other people’s blogs.

As a socially awkward person, I can totally relate to this one as well. But that said, is there really a wrong kind of comment to make on someone’s blog? (Okay, well obviously you wouldn’t want to blatantly insult someone and call them the worst blogger on the planet, haha), but other than that, it seems like the field is wide open for you to say anything that pops into your head.  Well thought out comments are always nice, of course, but it’s just about being supportive so, for me, even a simple comment makes me happy.

 

  1. I don’t want to be the first one to comment on someone’s post.

I don’t subscribe to this idea, but I remember reading somewhere that people don’t generally like to be the first person to comment.  Maybe it’s just the way my blog is set up, but my first thought was ‘How would I even know if I’m the first or not?’ Because of all of the ridiculous spam out there, my blog is set to ‘moderate’ comments so that I can screen for spam and approve the legit comments.  For that reason, you might think you’re the first commenter but it really just means I haven’t had time to go in and approve any comments yet.

What I’m trying to say here is whether you’re the first or the 51st comment if you want to comment.  And so what if you are the first?  What’s wrong with being the first one?  If it’s someone new to the community or just someone who doesn’t get a lot of comments, you’re probably going to make their day. And I personally love the thought of making someone’s day. 🙂

 

  1. I don’t want to comment just to comment.

I find this relatable as well in the sense that not all blog posts easily lend themselves to comment, but you can still pretty easily work around this. In cases like this, however, unless I’m really crunched for time, I simply look around the person’s blog until I find a post that works better for me.

 

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So there you have it, folks. My rambling, jumbled thoughts about commenting on blogs and why it’s such a crucial part of the blogging experience.  Now, since this is a post about commenting, how about you leave me a comment and share your thoughts on the subject. J

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on THE WICKED DEEP by Shey Ernshaw

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is THE WICKED DEEP by Shey Ernshaw.  I don’t know if it’s just because we’re moving toward fall and Halloween and so witches are on my mind, but everything about this story just appeals to me so much. I mean, seriously…condemned witches who come back from the dead once a year to exact revenge on the town that condemned them? Wow!

 

THE WICKED DEEP by Shey Ernshaw

Publication Date:  March 6, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books On My Fall Reading List

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List, which gives us all a chance to share what we’re planning to read for the next few months.   

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I actually shared what I thought was going to be my Fall TBR back in August, but then somehow I managed to read almost all of the books on that list before fall ever got here so today’s list is my revised fall reading list, haha!  Because I’m such a mood reader, this list is subject to change at any given moment, but as of right now, here are 10 books that I’m determined to read this fall.

 

TOP 10 BOOKS ON MY FALL READING LIST

 

1. DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone

(Find out what it’s about…)

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2. CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo

(Find out what it’s about…)

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3.  WHAT HAPPENED by Hillary Rodham Clinton

(Find out what it’s about…)

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4. WONDER WOMAN:  WARBRINGER by Leigh Bardugo

(Find out what it’s about…)

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5. 27 HOURS by Tristina Wright

(Find out what it’s about…)

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6. STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman

(Find out what it’s about…)

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7. THE TETHERED MAGE by Melissa Caruso

(Find out what it’s about…)

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8. ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline

(Find out what it’s about…)

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9. ARTEMIS by Andy Weir

(Find out what it’s about…)

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10. MURDER OVER MOCHAS by Caroline Fardig

(Find out what it’s about…)

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Question:  What books are you planning to read this fall?  Are any of my titles on your list?

ARC Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

ARC Review:  Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. DaoForest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
four-stars
Series: Rise of the Empress #1
Published by Philomel Books on January 1st 1970
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is an engaging Snow White retelling that focuses on the Evil Queen and her rise to power.  The story is set in a lush East Asian fantasy world and follows the journey of eighteen year-old Xifeng, a peasant girl who has been told by her aunt Guma, a witch who has the ability to read tarot cards and predict the future, that she is destined to become Empress of Feng Lu someday.  While Xifeng finds the idea of becoming Empress enticing, her aunt has also told her that her path to the throne can only be secured if she is willing to embrace and use the dark powers that apparently lie within her.  She also must be willing to abandon all that she knows from her current life, including the young man she has loved since she was a young girl.  Xifeng must decide what is most important to her: Does she want power so badly that she is willing to give up on love?  And if so, does she have it in her to embrace this dark magic and whatever may come from unleashing it?

 

Xifeng, the “Evil Queen” character, was definitely my favorite part of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.  Wow, what a character! I can’t say that Xifeng was an especially likable character, but she was a complicated one and for me anyway, there’s just something so compelling about complex characters. Xifeng is conflicted between following her heart to be with the man she loves and following her ambition to become the next Empress of Feng Lu.  Because she has grown up poor all her life, the idea that greatness lies in her future is a huge temptation.  However, to become Empress and achieve this greatness that she appears to be destined for means that she must give up all that she has known from her former life, including the love of her life.  Dao does a beautiful job of depicting how this inner conflict plagues Xifeng throughout the novel.  Even as Xifeng seems to have made her choice and be firmly moving in the direction she has chosen, thoughts of what she’ll be giving up if she continues down that chosen path linger in her mind.

As I’ve said, Xifeng isn’t always a likable character and I’ll admit right now that I didn’t always agree with the choices she made, I do have to say that I admired her sense of cunning and her resourcefulness.  Once she makes her choice and is committed to it, Xifeng is determined to let nothing and no one get in her way.  I don’t want to give away any specific details, so I’m just going to say she’s not afraid to get a little blood on her hands if the situation calls for it.  This is a story about the rise of a villain, after all!  As I was reading and watching Xifeng hatch plan after plan to advance her objective, I just kept thinking “Okay girl, if you want it that badly, you go for it!”

A fabulous cast of secondary characters also rounds out this book nicely.  There’s Ambassador Shiro, a kind, elderly gentleman of dwarfish stature, who takes a liking to Xifeng and becomes a confidante and mentor of sorts. Then there’s the dashing and ambitious Emperor Jun, who Xifeng must use her beauty to win over if she is to become Empress, and the mysterious eunuch, Kang, who seems to be overly eager to become Xifeng’s bff when she starts working in the palace, which left me wondering throughout the story if his motivations were sincere or was he up to something?

We also have the delicate and nurturing Empress who Xifeng is also conflicted about, because at times she feels like the Empress is like the mother she never had, but then at other times, she knows the Empress must go if Xifeng is to follow her destiny and take her place.  And finally, there’s another of my favorite characters, Lady Sun, the Emperor’s favorite concubine and perhaps the biggest obstacle in Xifeng’s path to become Empress.  Lady Sun would love nothing more than to gouge out Xifeng’s eyeballs and send her packing.  Their rivalry makes for some very entertaining reading and those were the sections of the book that I really flew through.   I found all of the secondary characters to be so interesting; not one of them fell flat for me, which made for a wonderful reading experience.  I especially wanted to see more of Shiro

The world building in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is also rich and beautifully crafted, especially once Xifeng leaves her hometown to begin her new life at the palace working as a lady-in-waiting.  The story is steeped in Asian folklore and the overall effect was dark and mysterious and pure magic.  The Asian influences played such a predominant role in the story that I almost forgot at times that it was meant to be an Evil Queen retelling.  The world Dao creates is just so lush and unique that it doesn’t feel at all like a rehash of another story.

 

The only real issue I had with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was that the pacing was a bit uneven at times.  I breezed through the first 50 pages or so, but then the next 50 were a much slower read.  This happened a couple of times as I was reading.  Thankfully the story itself was still so interesting that I kept pushing through and never felt the urge to give up on the book even when the pacing lagged.

 

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a wonderful read that I think would be enjoyed by fans of both retellings and anti-hero stories.  While it does borrow the basic premise of the Evil Queen’s story, it still reads as a fresh and unique story on its own even without thinking of it in terms of the Evil Queen.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute. 

 

four-stars

About Julie C. Dao

Julie C. Dao is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

Weekly Recap #18: Week of 9/10-9/16

 

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

I’m happy to report that my son and I have started to slip back into our school routine so the second week of school was much calmer than the first.  He loves his teacher this year too, which is helping with that a lot.  Last year he did not like his teacher at all and fought me on going to school on a regular basis.  Hopefully my luck will continue on that front!

My soccer mom duties also kicked into full swing this past week.  We had our first three games of the season so evenings and weekends have been jam-packed with running to games and practices.  We’re now 3-0 though so that’s exciting. My son is also playing more offense than defense this season, so he’s also happier with soccer than he has been in a while.  He hasn’t scored a goal yet but he did take three shots on goals in Saturday’s game so he’s getting close to scoring.  (Insert proud mom cheers!)

Real life made it a little difficult to get reading and blogging done this past week, so for the first time in a while, I only posted one review.  That was kind of a bummer since I’d been doing so well about posting at least 2 for so long.  That said, today and the upcoming week will involve writing a lot of reviews to get myself caught back up again.  I also got bogged down reading a book that ended up not being a great read so that didn’t help with momentum, The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti.  I probably should have just DNFed it and moved on, but it was one of those books where the mystery was just good enough that I wanted to find out what really happened and who was responsible.  I’m hoping for some better reads this week as I’ll be starting All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater today and then moving on to Alice Hoffman’s The Rules of Magic, and then hopefully to Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, which I’ve heard nothing but great things about.

This also seems to have been a huge week for accumulating books.  I can’t remember the last time I picked up so many new books in the same week.  A lot of them are from Netgalley, so needless to say my 80% review rate just took a nosedive, haha!  I’m looking forward to reading all of them though so yay for new books!

I think that’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

     

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

         
 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

          
      
      

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Cinderella, Necromancer Blog Tour: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

 

Hi everyone! I am thrilled to be taking part in the Chapter by Chapter Blog Tour to promote the wonderful new novel CINDERELLA, NECROMANCER by F.M. Boughan.  For my stop on the tour, I am sharing an exclusive excerpt from the novel to entice you.  Once you’ve devoured this fabulous teaser, be sure to scroll down and enter the tour giveaway. Thanks for stopping by!

Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

(Excerpt from Chapter Two: The Beginning)

 

On the morning of my fifteenth birthday, my mother died. It was a cruel and terrible death, wrought with pain and suffering and moments of relief between the screams.

When death finally took her, the darkness hovered like a plague over our home, my father and younger brother and I only moving and breathing to survive, though if anyone had asked us why, we couldn’t have given an answer.

On the morning of my sixteenth birthday, the darkness descended in a form incarnate, though at first, we couldn’t see it.

Why should we have?

Father thought he’d brought me the best birthday gift a father could give his daughter: a new mother.

I saw nothing but a vile attempt to replace someone utterly irreplaceable.

I screamed, threw the pot I was holding at his head, and locked myself in my room for three days.

On the fourth day, six-year-old Edward knocked on my door.

You can’t stay in there forever,” he said, his small voice wavering. “Father is threatening to call the locksmith. Mother—”

“Don’t call her that or I won’t speak to you,” I said.

He paused before continuing, an awkward pause that made me wonder—no, suspect—that she stood outside my door too.

She is threatening to take a hatchet to your door,” he whispered, so soft I could barely hear.

Was she now? I wanted to see her try. Difficult, though, being on the other side of the door.

“And ruin Father’s fine craftsmanship? She wouldn’t.”

But I didn’t know if she would or not. After all, I’d only caught one glimpse and hadn’t even seen her face. Or looked in her eyes. I’d been a fool.

One’s eyes say so much more than most people suspect. While the superstitious bustle about, trying to hide their true names—for they believe there is power in names—they should really be wearing dark glasses and learning to speak while gazing at the ground.

Names? Please. Child’s play.

To learn the state of one’s soul, find their gaze and hold it.

But I’d thrown a pot and run away.

How differently things might have turned out if I’d only followed my own rule.

 

About the Book:

 

Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

Publication Date:  September 5, 2017

Publisher:  Month9Books

 

Synopsis:

Darkness can only be controlled by those with the darkest of hearts.  Ellison lost her mother at an early age. Now, sixteen, her father has found love again. He’s happy and doesn’t quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her vicious daughters.  When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father’s mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her eventual freedom.  Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother’s and stepsisters’ every whim and fancy.

Stumbling into a chance meeting with Prince William during a secret visit to her mother’s grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival where she might see him once more.  But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince again? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she’s ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? And what if she actually liked watching her stepmother suffer?

As Ellison’s power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, it becomes harder to tell whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

CINDERELLA NECROMANCER is CINDER meets ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD and was inspired by a real medieval grimoire of necromancy from 15th-century Germany.

 

 

About the Author:

F.M. Boughan is a bibliophile, a writer, and an unabashed parrot enthusiast. She can often be found writing in local coffee shops, namely because it’s hard to concentrate with a cat lying on the keyboard and a small, colorful parrot screaming into her ear. Her work is somewhat dark, somewhat violent, somewhat hopeful, and always contains a hint of magic.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28117964-cinderella-necromancer

 

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

Link to Tour Schedule:

http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/tour-schedule-cinderella-necromancer-by-f-m-boughan-presented-by-month9books/

 

Giveaway Details:

One (1) winner will receive an Echo Dot

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman.  I just think Starfish sounds like it’s going to be such a beautiful and moving read.  I felt a connection to Kiko and what she was going through as soon as I read the synopsis and immediately wanted to follow her journey of self-discovery.  Couple that with the wonderful advance reviews below is this is a must-read for me.

 

STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publication Date:  September 26, 2017

 

From Goodreads:

A gorgeous and emotionally resonant debut novel about a half-Japanese teen who grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

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Advance Praise for STARFISH

 

**A Junior Library Guild Selection

**Bustle’s New YA Novels from First Time Authors You Need to Read in the Second Half of 2017

**B&N Teen Blog’s Most Anticipated Debut Novels of the Second Half of 2017

“In an empowering novel that will speak to many mixed-race teens, debut author Bowman has created a cast of realistically complex and conflicted characters. . . . Through art, Kiko gains a voice and finally understands that she is worthy, desirable, and talented.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Bowman evokes Kiko’s quiet hurt, pain, and frustration with breathtaking clarity, all the while reinforcing the narrative with love and hope. The story will resonate deeply with readers who have experienced abuse of any kind, or who have been held back by social anxiety. Starfish is a stunningly beautiful, highly nuanceddebut.” —Booklist, starred review

“A deep and engaging story that will not only entertain but also may encourage readers to live their best lives.” —School Library Journal

“Moving.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Dazzling.” —Bustle

“This book is a gem.” —BookRiot

“A vibrant, complex and heartfelt story about finding your place in a sharp-edged world that never makes it easy.” —Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of Conviction

“Akemi Dawn Bowman’s quietly dazzling debut novel gave me the sensation of looking into a mirror. This story is a knockout, at once an incisive portrait of family dysfunction, a nuanced depiction of Asian-American adolescence, and an artist’s vibrant coming-of-age—a story so specific as to be universal. Brimming with confessional intimacy and the furious strength of empowerment, Starfish feels like the ache of being lost and the relief of finding home.” —Riley Redgate, author of Seven Ways We Lie and Noteworthy

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Throwback Freebie – My Top 10 Favorite Reads from 2007

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Throwback Freebie: Ten Books I Loved During The First Year I Started My Blog, Favorite Books Published 5 or 10 or 15 Years Ago, Ten Older Books I Forgot How Much I Loved, etc. etc. Tweak however you want!

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I decided to take a stroll down memory lane to see what my favorite reads were back in 2007.  This was an interesting journey because 2007 was the year I was pregnant with my son.  I have to confess I didn’t read much that year. I honestly think every time I sat down to read, I ended up falling asleep!  That said, I was still able to scrape together ten of my favorite reads from that year.  I liked going back and looking at my reading habits from ten years ago, mostly because it gave me an opportunity to see how much my interests have changed over the years.  There’s a lot less fantasy on this list, as well as a lot more historical fiction.  I also didn’t read much YA back then aside from Harry Potter, which or course was just a must-read.

 

MY TOP 10 FAVORITE READS FROM 2007

 

1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS by J.K. Rowling

(Find out what it’s about…)

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2. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

(Find out what it’s about…)

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3.  STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova

(Find out what it’s about…)

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4. THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Diaz

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

5. SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

6. THE GRAVEDIGGER’S DAUGHTER by Joyce Carol Oates

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

7. WORLD WITHOUT END by Ken Follett

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

8. SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME by Lawrence Hill

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

9. DOWN RIVER by John Hart

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

10. LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN by Janet Evanovich

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

Question:  What were some of your favorite reads from 10 years ago?  Would any of my favorites make your list?

Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Book Review:  The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and VirtueThe Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
five-stars
Series: Guide #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on June 27th 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 513
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

MY REVIEW:

Who knew historical fiction could be laugh out loud funny?  I had no idea what I was expecting when I picked up Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but I was certainly not expecting to devour 500+ pages of historical fiction in just over 24 hours, chuckling to myself the entire time.  But that’s exactly what happened.  What an absolutely brilliant read this is!

Set in 18th century Europe, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue follows Henry Montague, or “Monty” as his friends call him.  Monty, for lack of a better description, is a hot mess.  As the son of an English lord, Monty has been raised with every imaginable privilege – money, education, endless connections.  His path to a successful future shouldn’t even be in doubt, except that Monty is unfortunately his own worst enemy.  In spite of being educated in the best boarding schools and raised by the strictest of fathers, Monty is a free spirit who cannot be tamed.  He lives the life of a rogue, his days and nights filled with endless partying and drinking, gambling, and even seducing both men and women.  When Monty gets kicked out of Eton, one of the most prestigious schools in England, his father has had it.  He sends Monty on a Grand Tour of Europe with the expectation that Monty returns to England a mature young man ready to assume the responsibilities of taking over the family’s estate.  Knowing his son’s ways all too well, Monty’s father adds in the stipulation that if he does one more thing to embarrass the family name, particularly if it involves jumping into bed with one more young man, Monty will be disinherited and will henceforth have to fend for himself in the world.

Monty sees the Grand Tour as his last hurrah.  He has resigned himself to the fact that he is stuck taking over the family estate, even though it’s not what he really wants.  But he has been beaten down enough by his father’s chronic disappointment over the years to assume that he’s pretty well useless when it comes to anything else.  He plans to go on this tour, engage in as much pleasure and vice as he can, and then come home and take his place by his father’s side.

There are just a few hitches in this plan, however.  First, he’ll have his younger and obnoxious sister, Felicity, in tow for much of the tour, who is sure to put a damper on his plans for “entertainment.”  Second, he will be accompanied on this tour by his best friend, Percy.  While that shouldn’t be an issue in itself, the problem lies in that Monty has a mad unrequited crush on Percy and has felt this way for years.  This tour sounds like the perfect time to try to find out if there’s any chance of Percy feeling the same way, but to pursue his attraction to Percy, means Monty is also flirting with the idea of being disinherited.  And finally, third, a Mr. Lockwood will be traveling with Monty as well, serving as a guide and of course as a witness to any and all of Monty’s antics.

Will Monty change his ways and finally conform to what his father and what proper 18th century English society expects of him, or will Monty choose another path for himself?

This is just one of those stories where there’s so much to like, I could go on forever so I’m just going to pick a few highlights, most of which revolves around the wonderfully, unforgettable characters Mackenzi Lee has created.

Let’s start with Monty.  Monty is the one who tells the story and I have to say he is one of the most entertaining narrators I’ve read in a long time. I mean, seriously, laugh out loud funny.  And I loved everything about him.  Even when he was behaving like a complete train wreck or an insensitive brat, there was still somehow just this lovable quality about Monty.  One of Monty’s best (and worst) qualities is his big mouth.  He spends much of his time running his mouth and getting himself and his friends into scrapes they probably wouldn’t have gotten into otherwise.  By the same token, however, he is also a smooth talker and his big mouth has often gotten them all out of scrapes that they’ve managed to get themselves into.  So even when you want to throttle him, you still find yourself cheering him on and chuckling at his antics.

It’s also not just all fun and games with Monty though, which is another reason why I adored this character.  Even though he’s this privileged young nobleman, somehow Monty still manages to have this underdog side to him that makes you root for him in spite of himself.  I thought his crush on Percy was just so adorable and was really cheering for him to do something about that.  I also had tremendous sympathy for Monty because his father was so awful to him and was really hoping that he would stand up to his father and realize his own self-worth.

Monty’s sister, Felicity, was another of my favorite characters in the story.  At first she comes off as this obnoxious girl who just wants to have an attitude and annoy her brother at every turn.  But then the more we get to see and learn of Felicity, the more likeable she becomes.  It turns out she’s a brilliant girl who is ahead of her time and wants to be a doctor.  She has been studying medicine on the sly and those skills come in more handy on the Grand Tour than any of them could have possibly anticipated. Felicity’s attitude and general sassiness stems from her general frustration with being prevented by society’s expectations from doing what she wants to do.  Once I saw that, all I could think was ‘Girl, you be as sassy as you want to be.”

And then of course, we have Percy. Percy is just one of those people who have a beautiful soul and that you can’t help but be attracted to.  Unlike Monty, Percy does not live a life of privilege. Percy is biracial at a time in society where it is not widely accepted and so he has to constantly deal with the ugliness of racism.  He also has the added difficulty of suffering from epilepsy at a time when few understood what it was and assumed that it was some kind of mental deficiency.  His father has sent him on this Grand Tour with Monty as his own kind of last hurrah before he is locked away in an asylum because of the epilepsy.  Even though he has all of this going on in his own life, he still manages to be there for Monty every step of the way, the best possible friend.  He’s just the sweetest person and it’s so easy to see why Monty has been in love with him forever.

Okay, let’s talk about that romance.  Those who regularly read my reviews know that romance is generally not my thing. Usually I find it just unrealistic, in the way, etc.  Well, not this time!  I cannot even express how hard I was shipping Monty and Percy together.  Their chemistry was just off the charts sweet and sexy, and the constant tension of “Will they or won’t they move past the friend zone?” just kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire story.

The Grand Tour itself.  While the Grand Tour itself probably should have been a fairly standard affair, since many young adults made similar trips after university, there was absolutely nothing standard about Monty and Co’s tour.  They left England and traveled to Paris, Barcelona, and Venice along the way, and what was meant to be a trip to give Monty some much needed culture and refinement to help him change his ways, instead becomes a dangerous and fast-paced rollicking adventure that includes highway robbers, pirates, and much, much more.  Some might say that their adventures were a bit over the top, but I didn’t care because it was all just so thoroughly entertaining!

I really can’t think of anything I disliked.  The ending perhaps felt a bit rushed, but I was so happy with the ending overall that I won’t complain about that.

Equal parts adventure story and coming of age story, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a book I think pretty much anyone would enjoy.  It’s an entertaining read with such delightfully memorable characters that even if you don’t typically enjoy historical fiction, I think Monty and the gang could change your mind.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. 

five-stars

About Mackenzi Lee

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Crixeo, The Friend, and The Newport Review, among others. Her debut novel, This Monstrous Thing, won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. Her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, a queer spin on the classic adventure novel, was a New York Times bestseller (what is life?), and ABA bestseller, earned five starred reviews, a #1 Indie Next Pick, and won the New England Book Award.

She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home, where she works as an independent bookstore manager.

Weekly Recap #17: Week of 9/3 – 9/9

 

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

What a busy week!  Between getting my son back into the school routine and getting caught up at work from being on vacation, I didn’t really have much time or energy left over for reading.  I don’t even want to think about how many hours I wasted just vegging in front of the TV after I got home from work each night, haha.  I watched an entire season of Shameless on Netflix and am almost finished with that show so I spent a lot of time just randomly scrolling through shows on there looking for something new to watch.  Wow, who knew how much time you could waste doing that?!

We also had our first soccer game yesterday.  It was a little stressful because we lost a few of our best players over the summer because they decided they wanted to join one of those travel soccer leagues.  We didn’t have the money to go with them, so this year so this season is a rebuilding season for our team.  That said, we still managed to squeak out a victory yesterday so that was very exciting.  My son took a ball to the wrist and had to sit out most of the second half, but thankfully he’s fine and ready to play again this week.  The game is right in the middle of the week so I’ve been hard at work this weekend making sure my blog posts are scheduled and ready to go.

Even with the busy schedule this week, I was still able to read a couple of great books, A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Alice Network.  I hadn’t originally planned to read Alice but found myself not in the mood to read anything I had originally planned to read and so grabbed that.  If you’re into historical fiction, that one is a fantastic read about an all-female spy network during WWI.  I also started Forest of a Thousand Lanterns yesterday and am really enjoying it so far.  I’m not sure what I thought it was about, but the heroine seems to be somewhat of an anti-heroine so I’m pretty excited to keep reading.

I think that’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

   

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

      
 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

       
      

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

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