Jan 31, 2016

Fairytales Report #11


Hi guys! This is Mishma.

Can you believe that January is already over? I mean, it feels like we just parted ways with 2015! And now a month has passed since the year started! It's crazy!

Let's take a look at the events and happenings of the last two weeks!

Also, Jillian decided to abandon us this week because of exams. So I guess it's just me and you all today :D

P.S - Good luck for the exams, Jill! :)

WHAT WE READ


Mishma

 I think I have successfully gotten over the reading slump I was in during the end of last year. I have started to read during all my free time, even the little bouts of minutes I get to breathe here and there among all the school work.

Books Read

Sword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan
Poison Study by Maria V.Snyder ( Reread )
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Currently Reading

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz


WHAT WE POSTED


Reviews

Sword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown

Discussions


Others



AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE



BOOKISH AND BLOGGING COMMUNITY NEWS


Mishma

1. It's been a week of blogging dramas. *sighs* To be honest, I wasn't around enough to know what exactly happened with some of them, but the dramas have certainly created a tense and awkward atmosphere in my twitter feed. Hopefully everything will die down soon, and we'll have a peaceful week for once next time.

2. There's going to be a ADSOM Read-a-long! Anything and everything V.E.Schwab writes is awesome, so while waiting for the obviously wonderful A Gathering of Shadows, there's going to be a read - a - long for A Darker Shade of Magic along with twitter chats! Unfortunately, I can't join in the fun because of the stupid timezones, but don't forget to go join the bandwagon and support the book and Victoria!!! 

3. There's going to be a sequel for Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe! And it's going to be called There Will be Other Summers! As I am currently reading and falling in love with the first book, I am so excited to hear this news!


PERSONALLY, OUR WEEK...



1. School is consuming my life and time. As you would've seen, I am not as active in twitter as I used to be these days. There's a bazillion school related things on my plate and it's driving me crazy. Most of the days, I leave home at 6 AM and come back only after 6 PM. And my sleeping patterns are getting messed up. I am so tired and sleepy all the time. *sighs* 

2. I am struggling a bit with my depression. I really didn't want to dump my dirty laundry here, but I felt like I wanted to talk about it somehow. I am finding it to hard to keep up these days, and it's scary. One minute I feel like everything's okay and I am so happy, and the next, the world crashes around me. It's hell, and I hope I get through this, because I really don't want to fall into that dark hole again. 

Jan 27, 2016

Let's talk about backlist reviews a bit, shall we?


Backlist reviews is the new talk of the town nowadays. A lot of 2016 goals lists have "read and review more backlist titles" as one of the resolutions. While bloggers are gradually getting a bit tired of the ARC craze that raised its head up this year, backlist reviews have become the next best alternative ( Got the Econ reference, anyone? :D)

First of all, before I start this discussion, let me explain what I mean by backlist titles.The term usually refers to older titles. Generally books that have been released for more than one year. Reviewing such titles in a book blog can have its pros and cons, and today I want to list them out especially with its current popularity.

While these reviews may seem like a great way to avoid getting swept up by ARCs, I feel like that there is - and should be - more to the action. Because in my opinion, reviewing backlist just because everyone seems to be doing it has no point. Backlist titles should be reviewed for the books, so let's take a look at the positives these reviews can bring to the book and to the blog which features them.

Promotion is promotion, no matter when it is done.


Whether I review a book two days after its release or five years after its debut, I am doing the same thing - promotion. If the whole point of writing a review is to promote and to give your readers a good recommendation, it will certainly be still effective years after the book's release. 


If you have international audience, they will most probably look for older book recs.

Trust me when I say this, as I am an INTL reader myself. Not all the countries of the world have access to new books immediately after its release. In fact it will take months, and sometimes a few years, for us to have access to relatively new releases in local bookstores. So when I want to look for recs, I will never look for newer titles and their reviews, rather I will go for older books and their reviews as I have a better chance of buying them than the new ones.

Sometimes older titles get forgotten

And a book blogger can certainly be the reason why it regained its popularity. For example Easy by Tammara Webber was one of the biggest books of 2012. When I joined Goodreads, it was everywhere. Now, do people even talk about the book??? Not to my knowledge, no. In such a situation, if I review this book, I might help spread the word. I might be a reason why it regains its popularity - at least in a small dose.

There are a lot of series abandoners out there, who wants completed series recs

We all know that continuing an ongoing series can be a hassle sometimes. So a lot of readers opt for completed series, so reviewing the first books of such a series can be a huge help for the readers in question!

Backlist reviews provide a variety.

There is a humongous amount of backlist titles out there. So when you review one, chances are very slim that someone else has reviewed the same book in recent times. One of the main reasons why people get tired of ARC reviews is because of their repetitive nature. When you see the same book reviewed over and over again in every blog you visit, it turns off readers, which is exactly why the diversity backlist reviews offer is welcomed by readers.

Plus, check out Josephine's post on backlist titles where she lists some more pros of the titles in question.

But these reviews won't be a bed of roses at the same time. Now don't get me wrong, I am not going to discourage anyone, but if you're ready to review more backlist, you've got to understand the cons these reviews can have in your blog as well.

You might not receive a lot of reader interaction

Backlist titles go two ways. One, you can review an extremely popular book which every one must have already read and your readers will have a lot to comment on these reviews which will lead to a lot of reader interaction. Or you could review a not so popular title, which to be honest, most people will ignore. Because let's face it, how likely is it that you click on the review of a title you haven't read or you don't recognize?

It might be hard to write a totally original review

When I review a title from 2012, I don't think I'll be able to provide a review which is really original and point out things that nobody has done before. Obviously my review is going to be a recycle of a lot of earlier reviews - even if I haven't read any and wrote the review on my own. YA books are no Shakepeare - we can't all provide unique and different interpretations - rather we are all going to talk about the same plot, writing and characters, and just how unique can your review be after the title has been reviewed continuously for 3 or 4 years?

It can be a hard practice to keep up.

Being on a backlist diet when you do get a lot of ARCs is certainly not going to be easy. And I think ARCs are responsibilities. So when you request and receive them, you can't always ignore your responsibilities.

In conclusion, all I want to say is this. Backlist reviews are great! They benefit the books, the authors, the publishers, the bloggers, the readers - all in many ways. But at the same time, in my opinion, they need to be done because you want to do so. Because you want to promote older books. Or maybe because by default the books you buy are backlist, and you have to review them anyway - which is what I do. And because you genuinely want to do it. Just don't review backlist titles because it's going to be - most probably - the trend of 2016.


Jan 25, 2016

A colourful confusion || Shade Me by Jennifer Brown


Title : Shade Me
Author : Jennifer Brown
Release Date : January 19th 2016
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Synopsis:

Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray.
Thanks to a phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one D shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies.
It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultrarich Hollis family and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, ne’er-do-well older brother, Dru.
While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.


Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.


A review copy was provided by Harper Collins in exchange of a honest review

I was initially drawn to this book, despite not being a huge fan of thrillers and mysteries, when I heard of the concept of colour synesthesia. It is a mental condition I've always been fascinated with, and when I heard that it's going to be incorporated with a murder mystery, I was immediately hooked, especially since I've been wanting to read something by Jennifer Brown for a long time now.

Nikki Kill sees facts and emotions in colours. To her, each feeling represents a colour, and the same goes to numbers and letters. This condition has always made her an outsider, so she's genuinely confused when she finds herself dragged into the case of the murder attempt of popular girl Peyton. Determined to find answers to the colourful puzzles this situation puts in front of her, along with Peyton's irresistible brother and an overenthusiastic police officer, Shade Me is the quest of Nikki, filled with shocking revelations, twists and of course - colours.

"Fear is golden"

Shade Me was a mess. It confused me quite a lot. Half of the time, I was just mindlessly staring at the pages, while some times, I actually had to go back a few pages to check whether I read it correctly. But Shade Me was also beautiful. It was a gorgeous, colourful, confusing and messy book, which kept me hooked to the pages and contained an addicting story.


Nikki was an interesting main character. She was a wild one for sure, and I don't know whether she and I will be friends in real life, but I certainly admired her as a character. She knew how to kick ass - literally and figuratively - doesn't back down and was pretty daring. And I loved how she embraces her synesthesia, and looks at colours as her friends and weapons, rather than being miserable about it.

"I don't screw for love"


Speaking of, I kinda have mixed feelings about the handling of colour synesthesia. Like I said above, it's one of the main reasons why I went for this book. And being fascinated with the concept, I have done some crazy research on it before. So when I saw that Brown's take wasn't actually as realistic as I was hoping it would be, I was a bit disappointed. The thing is, in Shade Me, the condition is treated like a paranormal aspect. Nikki not only sees material stuff as colours, she also senses emotions as colours, which came off as too convenient to me. The take was original - that's true - but I also wished Brown made it more realistic.

"Live in colour"

I loved how all of Shade Me's characters were grey. Nikki herself was not a saint - she was playing with a guy's feelings and can come off as a difficult girl. There was Dru, who oozes suspicion as well as allure. Chris - the cop - who was an enigmatic character. Peyton - a girl with many layers. It was also full of dysnfunctional families and messed up kids. Overall nothing was perfect in Shade Me, and it contributed to the chaotic nature of the book.


I really like the writing and the pacing. Shade Me was addictive from the first page to the last. It was full of unpredictable and shocking twists and turns, unexpected deaths and intense moments of truth. It was one hell of a ride for sure!

I'd recommend Shade Me for YA thriller fans, and those who like their reads to be chaotic and confusing. There are certain things that bothered me in the story, but still, I ended up liking it over all, and it was an intriguing novel that will keep you engrossed from the beginning to the end!


Jan 23, 2016

The Infinity Dreams Award


I love tags/awards! But I am horrible at keeping up with them :P So this year, I took a pledge that I am going to be up to date with everything I am tagged for! 

Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity nominated me for the Infinity Dreams Award recently - she also told that everyone loves me in her post. The adorable pineapple! < 333
Let's get down to the rules of the award!

  • Thank and follow the blog that nominated you
  • Tell us eleven facts about yourself
  • Answer the questions that were set for you to answer
  • Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

Eleven facts about myself!

  1. I am so clumsy. I've tripped on a charger cable before.
  2. I don't like pizza and ice cream. I know, I am a weird human.
  3. Artprints are the death of me. Or rather my mum's credit card :D I am obsessed with them!
  4. I can't dance. At all. I can't follow moves, nor can I do a single step without looking like a penguin.
  5. I am honest to the point of being blunt
  6. I am a collection of random and useless facts.
  7. When I was 8, I wrote a book. It consisted of 15 pages, and was a fantasy story. I sold it to a friend for 10 bucks. ( 10 bucks in my money, is actually cheap :D)
  8. I love spicy food. I eat them to the point where my eyes start tearing and my nose starts running.
  9. My best friend is the exact opposite of me. She's incredibly rude, insensitive, hates reading and a huge cynic. But I love her to death.
  10. It's really really hard to anger or offend me. I just shrug and smile it off.
  11. I've met exactly 9 bloggers in my life. 7 of them are from another country ( 5 from Philippines and 2 from India ) where I visited and met up with them.

Chiara's Questions

1. You find out that you're going on a six month holiday and can only bring six books with you. What are they?

Six months without seeing my bookshelf??? Oh, the cruelty of life! Well, if I have to chose,
- Vicious by V.E.Schwab ( Not exactly a surprise, is it? :D )
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Harry Potter series ( I am cheating and counting them as one book! ;P)
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
- Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

2. If you could only listen to one band for the rest of your life what band would it be?

PENTATONIX!!! I only discovered them recently - thanks to a kind soul from twitter - and I am obsessed with them and their covers now! My favourite would probably be Mary Did You Know! Or Cheerleader!



3. You can immediately download one language to your brain. Which language do you pick?

Sanskrit! I've always been fascinated by this dead language in which all Indian epic and scrolls have been written. This language is beautiful, and since I am researching on it a lot for my Indian fantasy WIP, I really want to learn this!

4. What is your idea of a perfect weekend?

A book. Some hot chocolate. My laptop. Some fruitless research.
Honestly, I have no life.

5. It continually rains for a month. Are you happy or desperate for the sun to come out?

Definitely happy! A perfect excuse to stay indoors the whole month!

6. Sweaters or Cardigans?

Cardigans! They're so pretty!

7. If you could be the heroine in any fairytale which one would it be?

Rapunzel! Well, tbh, I want to be her in the Tangled version. Because, Eugene!!! :D
Also, she's my fav princess, and I relate to her personality a lot!

8. The last movie you watched is the last you'll ever see. What was it?

I'll gladly accept this because the last movie I watched was Breakfast Club ( No matter how many times I watch it, I never get tired! ) I love this movie to death!


9. Were you going to be named anything but your actual name? What were the others ( if there is any? )

Apparently my mum almost named me Raziel. She was bent on naming me with a boy or gender neutral name, and it was down to Mishma and Raziel, when she chose the first. Raziel means the secrets of the universe. Cool, nah?

10. What's your favourite TV Show? Why?

Oh man, this is honestly a hard question to answer. I binge watch shows often, and frequently quit halfway - even if I really love the show. My current obsession is How to Get Away With Murder, because morally ambiguous characters for the win!!!


11. It is 11:11. What do you wish for?

Chocolate cake. I am craving for some :D

I nominate

  1. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books
  2. Nova @ Out of Time
  3. Amanda @ Nellie and Co.
  4. Claudia @ Pen Markings
  5. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight
  6. Nuzaifa @ Word Contessa
  7. Jillian @ Jillian's Books
  8. Aentee @ Read at Midnight
  9. Claire @ Cover to Cover
  10. Aila @ One Way or an Author
  11. Veronika and Ruzaika @ Regal Critiques

My Questions

1. The million dollar question....Batman or Superman? :D
2. Is there a book which you would recommend to any one?
3. What movie do you wish was a book?
4. Is there any fictional character you would swap lives with?
5. What's your favourite beverage?
6. Who was your first ever fictional crush?
7. Which book do you never get tired of rereading?
8. Who's your OTP?
9. On a scale of 1 to 10, how artistic are you?
10. Which genre do you never touch?
11. Let's spread some blog love! Name your top 5 favourite bloggers and tell why!


Jan 21, 2016

Token Ethnic Diversity Isn't Good Enough - Josephine @ Word Revel

Hi bookworms!

Some time back, when I launched the #DiverseReads2016 Challenge and it's first link up, I told you all that I am planning to feature guest posts on diversity throughout the year! So today, I am here, with your first ever guest post of the challenge, on this season's theme - Ethnic Diversity!

Today, we have Josephine from Word Revel - who owns a gorgeous blog and and is amazing with a camera! She is here to talk about token diversity - incorporating diversity in books just for the sake of popularity and to tick off a check box. - and how it isn't enough. I strongly agree with her, and here's what she has to say about it!




Image Credit goes to Josephine.


The Call for Ethnic Diversity

Over the past couple of years there’s been an increasing call for ethnic diversity in YA books. Aided by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, this movement has been vocal about the importance of representing diversity in literature on all fronts — ethnicity, sexuality, religion, class, etc.

Ethnicity is a huge talking point because most popular YA books feature white main characters. The fact that many are white protagonists isn’t the problem. The problem is the absence of characters of other ethnic backgrounds.

Given that multiplicity of ethnic backgrounds that youths represent today, literature is doing a huge disservice towards encompassing that. It tends to ignore ethnic diversity and when there’s a supporting character whose Latino or black or Asian, we’re supposed to laud it for the diversity a book represents. That’s the crux of tokenism — including ethnic characters for the sake of it and sidelining them to boot.


Why Tokenism is a Weak Concession

Tokenism means that no true effort is made to represent the minority. Concessions are merely symbolic to appease those who demand ethnic diversity. Tolerating tokenism means allowing for the inclusion of that very dependable Asian friend who is so smart and hardworking but otherwise bland. It allows for that crazy Latino girl and her lazy brother. It allows for “exotic” characters with little substance. In essence, it accepts the bare minimum and calls this progress.

Ethnicity becomes just another thing to tick off a checklist, so that a book has an additional selling point. It supports stereotypes because the mere inclusion of an ethnically diverse character becomes a cause for celebration. This is where tokenism hurts the cause. Underdeveloped characters who exists solely because they fulfil the ethnic criteria are a disservice to ethnic minority groups.


Ethnic Diversity in YA Books

Ethnic diversity in books need to adhere to this core tenet: cultural sensitivity with the recognition that the characters also are individuals. It’s important to strike that balance to do the culture as well as the character justice.

Cultural sensitivity means ensuring that the culture isn’t misrepresented. I can think of two books that were inclusive with Muslim characters whose parents hailed from the Middle East but moved to the US. Sad to say, both books ended up featuring hypocritical Muslim characters. That’s a score for individualism but such a sad move for ethnic diversity. Muslim characters aren’t all too common in YA books and rather than using this opportunity to convey the richness of their religion and culture, these books made a mockery of that.

Given that books featuring ethnic diversity are so few, it’s important to build them up first with characters who are strong representations of their cultures. This will allow readers who have never been in contact with people of particular ethnicities to gain an insight to what makes them tick. At the same time, doing so will finally give readers of ethnically diverse backgrounds books that they can relate to on a cultural level. When you’re part of a minority, every platform that gives you a voice is precious.


5 Books with Strong Representations of Ethnic Diversity

Thankfully, I have come across at least some books with strong characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds:

  1. Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati — Set in Australia, this book is about a girl from an Orthodox Jewish family. She falls in love with ballet but her parents forbid her from dancing because it conflicts with their beliefs and culture.
  2. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler — Despite warnings from her sisters to stay away from the Vargas boys, Jude is drawn to the youngest brother, Emilio. This book must’ve made me feel every emotion known to man. What I remember is the Argentinian culture of Emilio directing a lot of who he is as a character. He had fiery passion inherited from his mother and for that I absolutely wished he was my neighbour.
  3. Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata — Four half-sisters of various ethnic backgrounds grew up under the same roof. While they’re all daughters of the same mother, they each have different fathers. Due to an unfortunate event, the sisters are torn apart and forced to live with their respective fathers. The way their fathers relate to them is very telling of their cultural backgrounds.
  4. There Will Come A Time by Carrie Arcos — Mark lost his twin sister to a car accident and can’t come to terms with his loss. The reason I bring this book up is Mark’s Filipino heritage. While ethnicity isn’t a huge theme, Mark’s ethnicity does come up occasionally and is underscored by his Filipino relatives.
  5. Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe — This book was written with alternating first-person perspectives. One of the two characters, Ford, is a Mexican-American who is passionate about helping illegal immigrants. His ethnicity matters a lot in terms of his life choices. While Grace spends the summer pursuing her surfing dreams, Ford packs away his surf board to focus on an internship that could get him into law school.

How do you feel about books that purport ethnic diversity but end up grossly misrepresenting a culture?


And if you're interested in contributing with a guest post, fill up this google form or contact me via email or twitter!

Jan 19, 2016

The power of words || Sword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan






























Title: Sword and Verse
Author: Kathy Macmillan
Release Date: January 19th 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen

Synopsis:
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.


An ARC was provided by Harper Teen in exchange for a honest review

What would it feel like to live in a world where the opportunity to learn how to write and read is restricted? A place where knowledge is a luxury - permitted to those only of noble birth? Where words are power and knowledge mighty? That's exactly what the world of Sword and Verse is like.

Raisa is a slave in a world where writing, learning and knowledge is limited to the nobles. In addition, the high order language - the language of the Gods - is only known to the king, the prince, and two tutors. Raisa's life changes when she is chosen as the next tutor, the person who's supposed to pass on the sacred language to the prince's future child. But when she falls in love with the prince and gets herself involved with a rebellion of the slaves, she finds herself swept into a journey of betrayals, revelations, secrets, battles, destruction, romance and the beauty and power of the written word.

"I never knew Tyasha ke Demit, but her execution started everything...."

My feelings are all over the place with regards to Sword and Verse. The book had a really original concept, great writing, full of myths and was all about languages and the power of knowledge. Certainly, the book started out with a lot of potential. In fact, I even finished the book in a record time of three and a half hours - uninterrupted, in one sitting - as I was eager to know how things rolled out. But overall, the book just wasn't remarkable. It had too many holes and problems for me to ignore, despite being fascinated by the world building and the back stories.


Let's talk about the best part first. Sword and Verse had a beautiful and stable world building. The concept of writing being limited emphasized the influence knowledge and languages can have in a society, and I thought it was beautiful! Plus, the story incorporated mythology, and I loved it! The snippets of the myths were all absolutely fantastic, and I almost wished that they were real world myths, so I can research on them more!

The writing. Kathy Macmillan has a way of pulling off a story. Like I told before, I was able to finish the book so soon, as the words just flowed through me. She also managed to keep me engrossed in the story and the pacing was stable despite the frequent lapses in time.

"When light and hand and heart be one, then may wisdom's work be done."

The development of characters - or rather the lack of it - was my biggest problem of the book. It was an immediate let down for a character snob like me. None of the characters in the book actually stuck with me. Raisa was not a memorable character, and she frustrated me to no end at certain points. Mati was your stereotypical prince whose potential and talents are over looked by his charm and is misunderstood by his dad. The minor characters were all too bland, and at the few instances where they did have intense scenes just faded out as they rather felt forced than impacting.

Then of course, the cookie cutter. The romance. Normally, fantasy romances never fail to impress me. Especially when they're royal romances. And forbidden ones. When I took up Sword and Verse, I was expecting to ship Mati and Raisa so hard, but they disappointed me heavily. First of all, there wasn't any development in their romance. No building ups, no tension and no anticipation. One would even call their romance an insta love.

He looked right into my eyes. I very nearly melted away into nothing. 
"It means you're mine, and I'm yours, Raisa. It means I love you."

Then there was the fact that the whole plot actually relied on their romance! This part was what annoyed me the most about the book. Raisa had no real motive or determination to do anything. Every single thing she does, is a result of the romance. It was as if the whole point of the story, and Raisa's journey revolved around the axis that is the affair between Mati and Raisa. If you ask me, this is the major drawback the book possessed, which kept me from loving this otherwise enthralling tale.



Would I recommend Sword and Verse? Yes. In the end, it IS a great fantasy novel, possessing an original concept, and might appeal to romantics. If you are a character snob, or a person who prefers their ships subtle, understated yet powerful, you might find trouble with the book. But Sword and Verse will definitely be an entertaining read, with fascinating details and breezy writing.


Jan 17, 2016

Faerytales Report #10


It's a new year with new books, and the both of us are so thrilled to be able to have new bookish opportunities for this year! Here are the things that happened to us over the past two weeks that occurred:

WHAT WE READ


Mishma

I am getting better with my reading!!! Which is a huge thing for me, considering the very little time I have for reading these days.

Books Read
Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
A Thousand Nights by E.K.Johnston
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ( For an exam, but still! ;D )

Currently Reading
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo ( Reread )

Jillian

So far, I averagely enjoyed the books that I read over the past few weeks, which makes me really happy because it just makes me love books so much more.

Books Read
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

Currently Reading
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

WHAT WE POSTED


Reviews

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake

Others



AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE


Claire teaches us how to use twitter cards

BOOKISH AND BLOGGING COMMUNITY NEWS


Mishma

1. This week was definitely a bad one for celebrity deaths. While Alan Rickman's death is shocking - which Jill covers below, so I am not going to dwell on that event - David Bowie's death earlier this week was horrible! Both of these men were my childhood idols, and it feels like a double blow to me to lose two of my favourite celebrities in one week.

2. The sign up for the 2016 Love-a-thon is open! I loved this event last year, and I am so excited to take part again this time! Don't forget to check it out and sign up!

3. ALA Midwinter! Though I was lamenting my fate from the other end of the world, I definitely enjoyed seeing everyone's updates and recaps! Looks like the bloggers and authors there had loads of fun! And hauled back tons of books! :D

4. The Shadowhunters TV Series premiered! I myself am not a huge fan of the books - excpet Simon and Isabelle, I love these two and ship them to death!!!! - so I am not going to bother watching the show. Are you planning to watch it? What's your opinion on the pilot?


Jillian

1. Wands up for Alan Rickman. So I was literally so upset, frustrated, and sad to hear that one of my most favorite Harry Potter actors passed away a few days ago from cancer. I'm sure you all heard of his passing, which heavily shook a lot of Potterheads out there -- myself included. It's just so hard to even accept the fact that he has gone when all my life, I grew up watching his Harry Potter films, which I've grown to love even until now. :(

His role as Severus Snape truly made him admirable! I'm so sad that this ever happened.


PERSONALLY, OUR WEEK...


Mishma

1. I was officially made a prefect in school. And to those who aren't aware of the term, think of the prefects from Harry Potter??? Schools here function the same way as Hogwarts, only a lot less cooler! ;D Anyway, being a prefect means tons of work and responsibilities, and it all started with this week itself. I had to stay in school for 12 hours every day continuously for a whole week! It's extremely tiring, but I am having loads of fun! I guess I like being busy! :)

2. I have become more organized. 2016 has been a productive year so far. I've been religiously keeping up with my bullet journal ( huge surprise since I always give up on these type of stuff in a few days ) and actually having a lot of fun with schedules, organizing and personalizing my journal. I am even planning to write a post about my organisational methods soon. Would you be interested?

3. I am working on my photography. One of my biggest resolutions for this year, and I like to think I am making some progress. I am experimenting with backdrops right now, while trying to get better at editing. Hopefully, my skills will be decent by the end of the year. I am also open to criticism of any kind - I am trying to improve, after all - so take a look at my instagram and give me some opinions? 

Jillian

1. Prom season is up! Sophomore year in my school doesn't have prom, but apparently my friend from a different school has, and he plans to invite me. Which means dancing, and food, and people, and interacting.... (Can you already see how frightening that is?) Somebody teach me how to dance because I'm going to end up embarrassing myself, ha-ha-ha. *sob*

2. I'm heading off to Scandinavia this May! And I'm so excited because this will be the third time I will be flying to Europe for vacation. I'll be visiting so many Scandinavian countries in the north, which is really so exciting. As you can see, I absolutely love traveling to Europe so much.

3. I started Bookstagram! And it's such a new and amazing way to continue sharing love for books. I barely have time to take bookish photos everyday, so most of the time, I take them when my free time is up during the day. Through this, I have developed a love for photography! I love how creative you can be, and how it helps you practice proper angles and lighting. You can check my bookstagram, by the way!


Jan 15, 2016

Nearly 2 Years of Blogging Experience


This is Jillian, and ever since 2016 came two weeks ago, one of the things I thought of, blogging-wise, was how two years has almost reached its peak since I first started blogging in 2014. It's pretty hard to accept that fact because sometimes it feels like it hasn't been nearly two years. Sometimes I tell other bloggers, "I just started blogging last year," and then I look what year it is, and I notice that it's been two years.

And, like, HOW?!

Two years. 730 days. Within that time period, I have learned so much about book blogging and the bookish community in general. I also not only learned about things within its literary content, but also things that relate so much to what we see in life today.

Blogging-wise, I learned...

It takes time to grow out your blog.
I've always been fascinated by people who have been blogging for less than a year, and yet they have over 100K pageviews and a huge following. (Again, how?!) But when I started out blogging last April 2014, I had everything down to zero. I had no followers, no comments, no reviews. I frequently visited the huge blogs and compared myself to them, and it only made me really upset because I couldn't have as much people to interact with as them. 

But I learned that patience plays a huge role here because it DOES take time to grow out your blog. It takes effort, commitment, and creativity to get people to like your blog. It might take months to achieve (in my case, it took around 2 or 3 months), but you'll see how much you grow if you can simply wait.


Numbers don't define you.
The number of followers, pageviews, Twitter favorites, or Facebook likes DO NOT define how great you are as a blogger. Yes, I did feel bad at once point because of my small following, but that is just going to let you down if you permit it to. You are more than the number of likes or favorites you get, so don't let those numbers dictate your ability to blog. Those numbers mean nothing, I tell you.

It's all about interaction.
If you're blogging with the sole reason to get ARC's, then you are NOT getting it at all. Blogging isn't about getting free books, ARC's, or free e-galleys. It's about sharing your love for books, interacting with readers, and sharing mutual interests! ARC's are so often associated with greed that it's not right to choose that over the people you get to talk about books with.


Personally, I learned...

We are diverse.
All my life, I've grown up in the Philippines. I have never lived in any other country longer than a month, so this pretty much makes me confined to a culture and lifestyle that I was born in. Reading books changed a lot of that for me. I was able to see how a German child felt in the destruction of WWII. I experienced how living in Prague must have felt like. Furthermore, I was able to witness how Spain's Civil War must've affected people who experience it.

Overall, this world is so different -- far different than the culture I came to know all my life. Through blogging, I learned so much about diverse books that helped me realize how different other cultures could be, and how different other people really are. We are all culturally diverse, and this community and its books taught me that.


Open-mindedness is the key.
Yes, I learned to be more open to different things and to accept them as they are, no matter how different. This community is so different, and I get to meet lots of bloggers from countries I've never been in. I also get to read books that were set in so many different places apart from the US, and it really did help me to be more open-minded in the face of different people, books, and cultures. 

Open-mindedness is always the key. If you're not going to learn to accept different books, people, and cultures, you're never going to learn to appreciate anything. And I like how blogging books helped me learn that, and all those other things I've learned. I had no idea that this hobby could turn into something more than just a hobby.


What are some of the important things you learned through blogging?

Jan 13, 2016

For those who want to co blog at an already established blog.....


Co blogging isn't a new subject of discussion when it comes to the book blogging community. With school, work and commitments, bloggers often open their blogs' gates to another person, welcoming them into their corner of the internet and share ideas, responsibilities, achievements and their blogging journey. Whereas, some teams are formed from the beginning itself, and we audience would have never known a time where the team wasn't together.

But at the same time, it won't be all bed of roses. Co blogging has its up and downs, there might be rough patches, misunderstandings, awkward moments..... but that's not what Jill and I want to talk about today.

Co blogging won't be the same for everyone. It is a different experience, to each party in the question, but while we always talk about a blogger who is looking for a co blogger, what about those who are thinking of joining a blog as one? Especially a blog which has been up and running for some time?

Since Jill and I both have experience on this front - Jill joined here at Chasing Faerytales, when the blog was 6 months old, and I joined A Perfection called Books when it was more than a year old - we thought of sharing our thoughts, views and experiences on what it feels like to start co blogging at an already established blog.

Mishma

Pros

  • A new platform, a new set of audience and a chance for a lot of exciting and new things! Joining a blog can be a super exciting step! Everything is new, you have a new platform to discuss books, a whole new set of people as your readers and to top it off, a new partner in crime! The whole prospect of a new blogging journey ahead, is really exciting and you feel like you start blogging all over again.

  • There's no place for "beginner blogger mistakes" This is especially for newbies and those who don't have a blog for their name yet. When you join an already established blog, you don't have to worry about making all the silly mistakes we bloggers do when we start out, because you'll have someone with you to guide your journey and answer your questions and doubts. Furthermore, you won't have the whole hassle of building up an audience, making connections and creating a niche, because those stuff would all have been done already by the time you join the blog, and trust me, you wouldn't have to experience half the struggle of blogging because of that.

  • You learn new methods and styles. Not all of us blog in the same style. So when you join a blog and get to know and adapt to that blog and the blogger's style, it's a new and enlightening experience. For example, I myself am a super messy person. I don't make schedules or stick to them, and before I joined APCB, I've never even used a google calendar in my life. But unlike me, Rachel is the total opposite and everything I learned about organizing, scheduling and being on top of stuff, I learned it from her!

Cons

  • It will take some time for you to think of it as "your blog". There'll be a small, sticky, awkward territorial issue. In my case, I am super lucky as Rachel has always done her best to make me and Julia feel totally comfortable at APCB, but when I first joined, that nervous feeling that I am somewhere new and unfamiliar was certainly there. Especially when you face a whole new audience who are more familiar with the blog than you sometimes.
  • Sometimes, you might have to adapt to a different style. Whether it's the writing style, the formatting - blogs never have the same style. So when you join a blog, you eventually have to adapt to that style. In my case, adapting to APCB's style was actually exciting, as it was a whole new approach to what I do here at Chasing Faerytales. But for those who are not so flexible with their style, this might be difficult.


  • Break ups..... We have seen this happen, and it can be really sad, and super awkward. Co bloggers can have fall outs, one might have to step down because of too much stuff being on their plate etc. I personally think that before joining a blog as a co blogger, one must thoroughly think through whether they'll be comfortable with that blogger, whether they'll be compatible and most of all, whether they'll be able to stick to it for the long haul.

Jillian

Pros

  • You can share, discuss, and innovate on new ideas with someone who is there. Sure, blogging can be really fun, but it would be EXTRA FUN if you have someone to do it with you! With a person who completely shares your mutual love for books, it would be really great to have someone whom you can share your ideas with and improve on them together, which is really fun in both parts!

  • You learn to be more open with ideas and projects. I've had experience hosting a blog event on my own (it was the Blogger Positivity Campaign, by the way), and it was really fun, yet kind of stressful when you have to do everything on your own. Compared to being a co-blogger, I was lucky enough to co-host an event with Mishma as well, which was the Learnt It The Hard Way event. I noticed so many differences with handling an event on your own and having someone to do it with you -- for one, I had MORE FUN doing it with someone. You can share ideas and such. Additionally, the burden's not on you since you have someone to help out!


Cons

  • There is not enough time. You have no idea how much I wish to commit myself to co-blogging in Chasing Faerytales more than I should. I blog in two blogs now -- my own and this one. I primarily focus more on my own blog, but I often feel bad for forgetting any scheduled posts that I should publish in here. School gets so overwhelming that I forget to write down a post, sometimes until the point where I actually neglect it for DAYS (even weeks).

  • THE AUDIENCE WILL NEVER KNOW ME. During my first few months of co-blogging, I looked at the comments and everyone called me Mishma! Of course, I corrected them, but they were still doing the same thing, so I went all caps lock like: "HI I AM JILLIAN! JILL-I-AAAN." Thankfully, though, everyone knows who I am now, which is a relief! :)


This is Mishma, again. :D Having said all of this, we'd also like to direct you to some bloggers who are looking for co bloggers for their corner of the internet! 


In the end, co blogging is an amazing journey to be sure, and both of us can vouch for that for sure. Oh and before I forget, this is our first ever collab discussion post! (Not counting the Faerytales Report) How was it? Would you like more posts of this kind??? :D

What is your opinion of co blogging? Have you ever thought of joining a blog as a co blogger? Do you co blog in another blog? Let us know in the comments!

Jan 11, 2016

Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick


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Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers

Synopsis:

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.

But first he must say goodbye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teachers the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made -- and the light in us all that never goes out.



I am not exactly sure what to feel about this book. Maybe because I read this during one of the most time-constrained and stressful weeks of the school year that it might have affected my opinion on this book... I can't tell. But I am giving this book 3 stars because it was okay.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a story about a high school student named Leonard, who has a plan built up in his mind. It is birthday, and he plans to kill his old best friend and them himself with his grandfather's P-38 pistol because he feels that he isn't worth enough. But before he does that, he gives out presents to each of the people who mean to him the most before he shoots himself to die. He wants to end it all because, after all, Leonard doesn't mean anything anymore.



This is definitely one of those books that delves deep on how depression can overcome a person's way of thinking. It affected me deeply how -- day by day -- Leonard struggled to keep living, yet no matter how hard he tried to find a good reason why, something was always tugging him back into the void of his own depression.

His mother doesn't care for him.
And it's his 18th birthday after all.
But why didn't people remember that it was his birthday today?

Leonard thinks he's had enough. And it really broke me how he was giving out presents to each of the people he wanted to say goodbye to. The words written about his depression really touched me because I couldn't help but sympathize Leonard for what he was going through. People no longer cared about him, and that made me awful!

One of the things I liked most about this book was that it provided help and advice not just to Leonard, but also to the readers who are reading this book. I like how it balances off despair and hope in its book, and how it features the realities of what depression could do to a person. It also gives a great insight on how depressed people need help.


But somehow, this book didn't exceed my expectations. In fact, almost half of the book didn't connect to me as well, more so the characters themselves. Like I said, it's probably because this week had been awful and stressful for me that I couldn't put my mood to the book. But other than that, I just HATED the writing. 

The writing to me was more of a: "Oh, how interesting, but then'iweofughhhhhhhh."

Let's just say that the writing wasn't my absolute favorite, and I just didn't enjoy it as much as I had expected it to, especially with these annoying and useless footnotes found at the bottom of almost every page. (Yes, there are footnotes in this book!) 

So to conclude, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was an okay book to me. Yes I love how it portrayed mental illness in it, but I just hated the writing and the footnotes because it was sort of annoying. (Sorry, Matthew Quick.) :( 3 stars for this one!

Jan 9, 2016

Diverse Reads 2016 Seasonal Link up - #1

Hi everyone!

How's 2016 treating you all so far? Can you believe that 9 days have passed since the year started???

You all know that I am hosting my first ever reading challenge, along with Shelly, for diverse books, this year. In case you weren't aware, or haven't signed up yet, don't forget to hop over to the sign up post and do the deed!

As I told in the sign up post, we are dividing the challenge into seasons, and planning to have link ups for each one! So without further ado, let me present to you all the official linky for the first season - Ethnic Diversity! 

Before that, I want to tell a couple of things for you guys!

First of all, we are planning to do something special for the challenge! Since diversity is a really vast concept, and a lot of people have to say different and many things about it, we've planned to broaden the challenge with discussion posts!

Both Shelly and I, will be discussing diversity on our blogs! They will be in the form of discussion posts, posts with personal touch and experience, interviews, recommendation lists, and various other fun stuff!

But we don't want to do it alone!

We are inviting you all - whether you are taking part in the challenge or not - to write guest posts for us! You can contribute with any type of post you want, as long as it's on diversity, and correspond to our seasonal themes

If you're an author, you can also help us out in the form of a guest post or interview!

If you are interested, please sign up through the google form below! We'll contact you soon!




Also note that we are encouraging you all to feature such posts on YOUR blogs as well! You're more than welcome to link these discussion posts in our seasonal link ups. and it doesn't need to be necessarily on the season's theme, though we might prefer as it will be more organized!

P.S - Note that to link your posts up, you have to join our challenge. But since some of you might not want to join a reading challenge, as they might be stressful, you can just join saying that you won't read for the challenge, but rather joining it so you can discuss diversity! Even a tweet will count as a sign up! ;D

Also, we are planning to feature discussion posts from the blogosphere which have discussed diversity and our seasonal theme before, on our seasonal link ups. Since I am a useless pineapple, and forgot all about it, until the last minute, I'll post a round up of posts, a few days later this time. But hereafter, it will be along with the seasonal link ups! :)

All that being said, here's the official link up for the first season of Diverse Reads 2016! Link up your posts - reviews, discussion posts, lists or anything miscellaneous - as long as it is about diversity and diverse books.