Bookish Bingo: Summer Wrap Up

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I haven’t posted much about this round of Bookish Bingo. But, now that August is over it’s time to wrap up my progress. What is Bookish Bingo? It’s a challenge hosted by Bekka at Pretty Deadly ReviewsThe point of Bookish Bingo is to get as many bingos as possible. The more bingos, the more giveaway entries. All types of books (fiction, non-fiction, novellas) count, but you can only have one square per book. Also, for a book to count, it must have been read between June 1st and August 31st.

My Progress (since my last post):

  • Outdoors: A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe primarily takes place outside around Mount Fuji. Am I grasping at straws? Perhaps.
  • Monsters: Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda literally has monster in the title. This was an amazing graphic novel. Dark with gorgeous illustrations. It’s a must read!
  • Mental Health: The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges really got to me. I thought it handled living with schizophrenia in a real and honest way.
  • White Cover: Ok, so the cover for The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts might actually be a really light pink, but on my iPad it was totally white. So….I’m going with that. 😛
  • Middle Grade: Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan is advertised as being middle grade but I honestly don’t see it. The tone is much darker than what I would have ever read at that age.
  • Name in Title: The Graces by Laure Eve is about, you guessed it, the Graces. This book fell flat for me. I was wishing for so much more.
  • Weather Words in Title: Before the Snow by Danielle Paige did it’s job. It got me even more excited for the release of Stealing Snow on September 20th!!
  • Folklore or Myths: I loved, loved, loved The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross! It’s a blend of Greek and Middle Eastern history, religion and mythology.
  • Political Intrigue: I wasn’t sure if this series could get better but then Blood of the Prophet by Kat Ross came around and wow! The sequel to The Midnight Sea was all about politics…who to trust and leaders plotting to take over the known world.
  • Water on Cover: The cover for The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine features an angry sea and fits the overall dark mood of the book.

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I was honestly hoping to do better this round. There are still a lot of square unfinished, but there’s always next time! Plus, I’ve been avoiding books from long series and anything over 500+ pages. My attention span just can’t do it right now. I’ve been sticking to books under 400 pages and ARCs that are either the first book in a series or a standalone.

Did you participate in Bookish Bingo? How did you do?

August Wrap Up!

WarpupAu.001SOME THOUGHTS

Gina and I survived our first month back to work. We’re both in new positions so it’s been a lot of adjusting to new people, students and expectations. For me, this hasn’t slowed down my reading at all, which was super surprising. ARC August and Bout of Books really pushed me to read A LOT of the eARCs I’ve had building up on NetGalley. It’s the first time in months that I have less than four books waiting for review. It’s seriously such a relief! Unfortunately, Gina hasn’t had much time to read. With work and wedding plans she’s been super busy, but there is always next month!

Our first blog giveaway has been a success! Congratulations to Jacklin B. Updegraft for winning a pre-order of the fantastic Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West! 🙂 Also, THANK YOU to everyone who follows, likes and comments on this little blog. We now have 351 followers!!! *happy dance* WE LOVE YOU ALL!!


BOOKS HAULED


BOOKS READ

The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross | ★★★★½
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda | ★★★★½
The Graces by Laure Eve | ★★
The Dream Protocol by Adara Quick | ★★★½
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan | ★★★★
Blood of the Prophet by Kat Ross | ★★★★½
Before the Snow by Danielle Paige | ★★★
A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe | ★★★★
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | ★★★★★
And Then the Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen | ★★★


POSTS

Reviews:

The Midnight Sea · The Form of Things Unknown · Labyrinth Lost · Kingdom of Ash and Briars · These Dark Wings · Monstress

Memes:

Top Ten Tuesday · Waiting On Wednesday

Tags:

My Name in Books · Four Facts Survey · The Diverse Reads Tag · MAC Lipstick Book Tag · The Alphabet Book Tag

Other:

ARC August · 20 Books of Summer · Bout of Books 17 · Blog Tour: Stalking Jack the Ripper · The Neverland Wars Sale + Sequel Info · Book Blitz: Under A Million Stars · August TBR

Have a wonderful September!! 🙂  

Top Ten Tuesday

Untitled.001Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week is: Back to School! Well, I’ve been back to school teaching since the beginning of the month. I’ve moved from 7th to 9th grade and am trying to get used to the change in curriculum. There’s so much planning now! 😦 Anyway, here are some books that I had to read while in high school. Some I liked and others well, not so much. Here we go…

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I really enjoyed studying Shakespeare in class and Macbeth will forever be my favourite. My teachers used to let us act it out. I remember always being one of the witches. Two years ago I had one of my classes write a modern version and it was hilarious!

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I just can’t even! This book was probably my LEAST favourite from high school. The ending…I don’t even know what happened. I just remember spending the last few weeks of the novel study zoning out and imagining I was somewhere else.

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I think all Canadian higher schoolers or at least those from Ontario had to read this book. Is it bad that I vaguely remember reading it? It’s a Canadian classic but not a book that stood out for me.

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I read this book in grade 10 and totally didn’t appreciate it. I think we were too young and immature. I reread it a few years later in university and fell in love with Michael Ondaatje’s writing. It’s so beautiful!

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Another book that I didn’t give enough love to until these past few years. I taught a unit on it in my 7th grade English class and saw it in a completely different light. Let’s just forget that the movie was ever made though.

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Nope, nope, NOPE! This book disturbed me in so many different ways. I didn’t like it but I do totally understand why it’s taught in school. There are so many lessons and discussions that can come from it.

What books did you read in school? Have you read any of these? Thoughts? Comments? 

 

ARC Review | Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland

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

28818317Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland
Release date: September 13th, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Young adult, memoir
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

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Goodreads | Amazon

Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

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I lived in South Korea for two years. I taught English at a private academy and spent my weekends traveling around the country visiting Buddhist temples, museums and the many festivals that take place throughout the year. I learned so much about the country’s history but the subject I heard the most about was the desire for the unity of the north and south. The DMZ or Demilitarized Zone runs like a scar between the two Koreas. It separates the land into two radically different areas. The south is a mixture of high tech, non-stop, bright light cities and more traditional villages and farms. The north, which I only glimpsed through a set of binoculars, is secretive, isolated and restrictive. Yes, I’ve watched many documentaries about North Korea and have been fascinated by it, but this book offered a very human and emotional perspective on life within the Hermit Kingdom.

The story is essentially an exploration of survival and human resilience. It forces the reader to question what they would do if left with nothing and how far they would go to overcome such horrible obstacles. It is told through first person narrative by Sungju, a North Korean boy who belonged to a very well off family in Pyongyang. Everything in his life was perfect. He attended the best school, always had enough food and lived in a modern apartment. The country and its politics began to change in the late 1990s and as a result, Sungju and his parents are forcibly exiled to a small village in the north of the country. It’s such a radical difference from what he had been used to. There wasn’t any food or basic necessities and those who act against the state were publicly executed to frighten others into submission. Many of these aspects of North Korea have been frequently discussed in the media, but reading about it through the eyes of a child was devastating. The confusion and then slow realization of what was happening broke my heart. So much of Sungju’s life had been a lie!

While reading it was hard to remember that this book was actually non-fiction, a person’s real life story. It reads and flows like a dystopian novel. It has all the essentials: an authoritarian government, censorship, violence, the struggle for survival. Nobody wants to believe that such human cruelty can still exist, but sadly it does and this is why I firmly believe it’s a book that young people should read. It’s such an eye opener and to see what the author has accomplished…wow!

My only wish was that the ending wasn’t so rushed. A large amount of the book focuses on Sungju’s membership in a gang of boys who fight their way to survival throughout the country. However, the actual escape from North Korea is written as such a minor aspect of his story. For me, that would be the MAJOR part of the story, what everything led up to. It just ended up being a few pages. It was very emotional though because I was firmly invested in his story from start to finish. I look forward to reading more memoirs from the people of North Korea. It’s important to hear their voice and not just the narrative the government would like the world to hear

Bout of Books 17: Wrap Up!

Bout of Books 17 has now ended! I didn’t read the 3 books I had hoped to, but still I made some good progress. I’m using various readathons and challenges to try to whittle down my NetGalley backlog and it’s working! I now have only 4 book in my NetGalley TBR and man does it feel good. I also haven’t requested any in ages. So. Much. Progress!

Anyway, I was able to read:

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A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe | ★★★★ | review coming soon
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | ★★★★★ | review coming soon

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I’m about 40% into And Then the Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen. I don’t think I’ll finish much more of it today. I have to do some lesson planning and other work related things. I’ve been putting it off all weekend. Boo!

Did you participate in this round of Bout of Books? How did it go? ❤

The Alphabet Book Tag

Thanks to Ola at Ola Reads Books for tagging me. This is a very cool tag and one that I haven’t seen before! I tried to use as many books from my “Read” shelf on Goodreads, but sometimes had to resort to my be TBR. Also, let me just say, it’s really hard finding books that start with the letters X and Z! 😛

THE RULES:

Pick a book that is on your shelf or one that you have read in the past and fill out each letter of the Alphabet. The idea is to use books that you have either read or that are on your TBR list.

Titles in bold indicate a read book, others are from my TBR.


A – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 
B – Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden
C – Civil Blood by Mark Gelineau & Joe King
D – Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

E – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
F – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
G – Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss
H – Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

I – Ignite by Sara B. Larson
J – Jezebel by Irène Némirovsky
K – Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
L – Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole 

M – Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
N – Night’s Child by Maureen Jennings
O – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
P – Pillars of Light by Jane Johnson

Q – Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland by Susan Fraser King
R – Rook by Sharon Cameron
S – Sultana by Lisa J. Yarde
T – Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg 

U – Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember
V – Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley
W – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
X – XVI by Julia Karr

Y – The Young Elites by Marie Lu 
Z – Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler


My Tags:

Balancing Work and Blogging

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We are all busy. There simply isn’t enough time in a day to do everything we want or even need to do. We have jobs, school, families and millions of other obligations. Finding time to blog is hard. Not that I would ever want to give it up. I love blogging and all the benefits that come with it – writing practice, new friends, connections, amazing books, etc.

What I find most difficult is balancing time between work and blogging. Both Gina and I are teachers. Teaching is really a full-time and all consuming occupation. I love it and wouldn’t change a thing, but when I’m not at work, I’m constantly thinking of lesson plans, grading and whatnot. I started blogging as an escape, something I was doing for me that didn’t involve school. It still is, but near the end of the school year I started to panic. It was becoming harder and harder to find time to read let alone write posts.

What I always have to tell myself is that it’s alright if I miss a Top Ten Tuesday or don’t finish a certain book by a certain date. I can try my best, but work, friends and family must come first. Blogging was supposed to relieve stress not cause it. I’ve worked out a system that has been successful for me so far (which I discuss below), but I would love to know how you balance the time between blogging and other life obligations.

My Tips:

  • I always have a book on hand to read whenever I have some downtime. Yeah, I’m the crazy book lady to my friends but whatever! Waiting for an appointment? Read. Alone at lunch? Read. In between classes? Read.
  • Don’t over request books on NetGalley (I made this mistake and oh my gosh did I pay for it) or make promises to have a review done by a certain date. I sometimes go on NetGalley requesting rampages. I swear it’s like I’m possessed. I had 10 books approved all at the same time (I nearly died with shock) and was determined to get them all read before they were released. This goal was completely ridiculous! Reviews don’t need to be done before the book’s release date. ALL reviews are helpful no matter what time they are posted. The same goes for physical books from an author or publisher. Try to make the date, but if you don’t no sweat. You’ll get to it eventually.
  • Queuing…my dear, dear friend! Almost all of my posts are queued. I try my best to plan ahead and do this when I do have free time to work on the blog. Lots of memes have their topics posted for weeks ahead such as Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday is just highlighting any future release that you are excited about.
  • Related to the above point, if you know that you will be too busy to blog or on vacation you can always queue posts to keep things going. Comments can always wait. The blog won’t fall apart if you aren’t there. Don’t worry!
  • I often have posts formatted and left as a draft to be worked on later. This usually includes the basics, graphics and some reminders or notes. I can go back to them at any time and Gina can also give feedback if she wants.
  • Blogging with Gina has been a godsend. Seriously, I don’t know what I would do without her. Having someone else who writes helps lessen the load. It’s also helped our friend evolve. We never talked about books before and now we are giddy about Throne of Glass and book mail. 🙂