Tea & Book Chat: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (The Reckoners #1)

This book was sent to me by the publisher for review consideration.  This is no way swayed my opinion.

Wow. Wow. Wow.  I do not say this lightly.  Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is one of those rare books that is immediately fascinating from the first page.  It begins with a flashback recounted by the protagonist David from when he was 8 years old.  It does a fantastic job of introducing the reader to the state of the world and the Epics who’ve destroyed it.  Epics are similar to superheroes but none of them use their powers for good.  They’ve overthrown all forms of government because no one can control them or have any chance of stopping them without knowing their one unique weakness and they show no remorse for killing normal humans.  In the flashback, we also learn why it’s become the protagonists sole purpose in life to exact revenge on an Epic named Steelheart.

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Like any nation where the mass population is not looked out for, a group of rebellious citizens have banded together with one goal: kill Epics.  They strategically plan their hits and they never stay in one city for long. Their existence is a rumor but David has spent so much time tracking them that he manages to cross paths with them when they visit Newcago.  The way that David tells the story is part of why I loved it so much.  David is only 18 so his youthful sense of hope and believing in being able to do the seemingly impossible shines through in all of his decisions. He’s both clever and fearless and his understanding of the world has mostly been learned from books.  Also, his inability to craft proper metaphors is very charming.  I can honestly say that there was never a dull moment or lull in the plot while reading.  All of the minor characters were fully developed and while most didn’t like to offer tidbits of their past, they all had such unique personalities that you could get a sense of where they came from.

If you enjoy reading about superheroes and you’ve thought about what it might be like if they actually existed, Steelheart is the perfect read.  I’m so happy the second book is out already because I don’t think I would be able to wait to find out what’s going to happen next.  I am so charmed by this underdog story and I constantly found myself rooting for the average people to emerge triumphant.  Brandson Sanderson really gets how to craft a story and I’m definitely going to be picking up everything else he’s written.  Before researching more about him, I hadn’t realized that he took over the Wheel of Time series for Robert Jordan.

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Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge. (via Goodreads)

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YA Book Releases January – April

I spend the vast majority of my time on Amazon searching new book releases, debating whether or not to preorder them and adding them to my planner more than anything else I do.  I decided to round up a quarterly list on my site since there are just too many in all of 2015 to notate in one post.  The first section includes January – April.  But if you’re looking for 2015 TV show and release dates, you can find those here!  And if you want any descriptions of what to expect, I highly suggest checking out Goodreads!

JANUARY

6th: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
113th: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall120th: Inked by Eric Smith 120th: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas220th: Embassy Row by Ally Carter127th: Fairest by Marissa Meyer127th: I Was Here by Gayle Foreman1

FEBRUARY

3rd: Invaded (Alienated #2) by Melissa Landers
13rd: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
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5th: Scripted by Maya Rock
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10th: The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson
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10th: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
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10th: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
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10th: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
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17th: Firefight (The Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
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24th: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

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MARCH

3rd: The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski

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3rd: Dorothy Must Die Stories(No Place Like Oz, The Witch Must Burn, The Wizard Returns) by Danielle Paige
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3rd: Mosquitoland by David Arnold
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10th: Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman
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17th: Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Leviathan
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24th: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
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24th: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
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31st: The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2) by Danielle Paige
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31st: The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord
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31st: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

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APRIL

7th: Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins

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17th: Denton’s Little Death Date by Lance Rubin

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21st: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

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21st: City Love by Susane Colasanti

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28th: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

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28th: Rook by Sharon Cameron

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28th: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

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28th: How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart & Sarah Mlynowski

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I hope this post is helpful for all of your future book shopping trips!  What are you most looking forward to reading this year?

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Tea & Book Chat: The Conspiracy of Us By Maggie Hall (The Conspiracy of Us #1)

I had really been looking forward to picking up my copy of The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall ever since I read that it is being marketed as the YA Da Vinci Code.  I loved the idea of a story that combines action and historical mysteries with fashion and Alexander the Great.  I started it almost immediately and I basically devoured it.  Although the book did not completely live up to my expectations, it was a very enjoyable read.

Avery West is a girl with violet eyes who spent her childhood moving from city to city because of her mother’s position in the military.  She never knew her father and she had never been able to get too close to anyone since she never spent enough time in any one place to build any lasting relationships.  Right before her latest move, Avery decides to defy her mother’s wishes and attend her junior prom with a boy named Jack who had been expressing an interest in her.  At the prom, Avery is told that her father’s family is interested in meeting her and she gets whisked away to Paris.

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One of the best scenes of the book is when Avery gets attacked in Prada.  One of the twelve ruling families has the store shut down so she can shop for a dress.  She’s supposed to be heavily guarded but while she’s changing between beautiful silver and gold gowns, she’s almost killed by a member of The Order.  I did not however, enjoy the love triangle that forms while Avery and the Keepers search for the key to the mandate.  Jack is a sweet guy who cares about Avery and Stephan is a jerk and it just kills me when young female protagonists are attracted to bad guys because of their looks.

Another positive that came from reading The Conspiracy of Us is that I am definitely adding the Russian word toshka to my vocabulary.  It has no official translation but it means that you feel a sense of longing for something.  Even if you’re not sure what that something is, that nagging feeling is present and it’s what pushed Avery to get into that plane from prom.  The Conspiracy of Us also makes the reader feel as though they are traveling the world and visiting a ton of interesting historical destinations all within the 334 pages of story.

If you’re interested in a fun read and you appreciate a good historical mystery, you should check out The Conspiracy of Us.  The book ends with a cliffhanger which left me craving more, even though I didn’t have a huge attachment to any of the characters.  I will be continuing the series in the hopes that there will be more character development as we delve deeper into the mystery of Alexander the Great’s tomb, the Diadochi and the circle of twelve.

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Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.  (Via: Goodreads)

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GIVEAWAY: Steelheart & Firefight (The Reckoners Books 1 & 2) By Brandon Sanderson & Morphie Portable Charger

I am so excited to be giving away the first two books in Brandon Sanderson’s #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Reckoners!  The giveaway is celebrating the release of the second book in the series, entitled Firefight, which celebrated it’s book birthday on January 6th.  Everyone that I have ever spoken to who has read a Brandon Sanderson novel has RAVED about how they must read everything he writes so I’m also looking forward to reading and reviewing the series here as well!  In the meantime, you can read an excerpt of the second book, Firefight, here.

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ABOUT FIREFIGHT

Brandon Sanderson is back with a vengeance in FIREFIGHT, the follow up to the #1 New York Times bestselling Steelheart.In the book that Kirkus Reviews is calling a “rare middle volume that keeps the throttle open,” Sanderson takes readers on another a thrill ride and “presents a Marvel Comics-style mix of violently destructive battles, fabulous feats and ongoing inner wrestling over morality and identity.

David Charleston still can’t believe it. Steelheart is dead, and he died by David’s own hand. Even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic, but the invincible has fallen and now Newcago is free. Despite attaining revenge for the murder of his father and living his dream as a team member of the most elite Reckoners cell, David finds he has more questions than ever before, and he won’t find the answers in his home city.

Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as Manhattan, could hold the key. Ruled by the mysterious and ambivalent High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is a place flooded with water and painted in neon, where the inhabitants spend most of their days lounging and nights partying. David can’t seem to understand the complacency of the city and its residents, but what he does understand is that being positioned here, risky as it may be, could lead him to the answers he so desperately seeks. Because there is an emptiness in him, one left behind after killing Steelheart, that was filled unexpectedly by Firefight, who is just plain Megan to him. And David will stop at nothing to find a way to understand Epics and bring her back to him. Hopefully for good this time.

The second book in the Reckoners series and follow up to the highly acclaimed Steelheart, which Publishers Weekly called “an absolute page-turner,” FIREFIGHT is filled with spine-tingling adventure and heart-racing action that promises to satisfy fans both new and old.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BRANDON SANDERSON is the author of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy. In 2007, he was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series following the author’s death.  The concluding book in that series, A Memory of Light, was released on January 8, 2013, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction List., just as his two previous Wheel of Time books had done.  His work has been published in over 25 languages and his books have sold millions of copies worldwide. He lives and writes in Utah. Visit him at BrandonSanderson.com or connect with him on Twitter @BrandSanderson.

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Prizing & samples courtesy of Random House

Giveaway open to US addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

OFFICIAL LINKS

Visit the author online at www.BrandonSanderson.com

Follow Brandon on Twitter: @BrandSanderson

When sharing on social, please use hashtags:

#Steelheart #Firefight

#ForgetNothing

PRAISE & ACCOLADES FOR STEELHEART

  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • IRA Young Adults
  • ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • ALA-YALSA Teens Top Ten
  • Amazon Best Book of the Year

“Sanderson has written a riveting dystopian adventure novel . . . Snappy dialogue, bizarre plot twists, high intensity action, and a touch of mystery and romance; it’s a formula that sucks readers into the prologue, slings them through on tension-filled encounter after the other, and then . . . leaves them panting for the sequel.” —Booklist, starred

“Sanderson’s whiz-bang imaginings, and a fully realized sense of danger (the brutal opening scene alone will hook many) make this an absolute page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly

“Perfect for genre fans who love exciting adventure stories with surprising plot twists. Readers will be rooting for David.” —School Library Journal

“Unfortunately for my ego, Steelheart is another win for Sanderson, proving that he’s not a brilliant writer of epic fantasy, he’s simply a brilliant writer. Period.”  —Patrick Rothfuss, author of the New York Times bestseller The Name of the Wind

“Fantastic! The suspense is relentless and the climax explosive, with a resolution that I’ll be thinking about for a long time.” —James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of the Maze Runner series 

“A tense, fast-paced adventure. Brandon Sanderson is one of the best fantasy sci-fi writers working today.” —Christopher Paolini, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller Eragon

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Tea & Book Chat: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If anyone ever understood how deep my love of Harry Potter runs it’s the main character Cath in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  Cath and her twin sister Wren are both huge fans of the Simon Snow series (side note: Rainbow is actually coming out with a book based on those characters in October of this year!)  and Cath has actually garnered quite an online following with her Simon and Baz (Harry and Malfoy type characters) fan fiction.  Wren has always been supportive in the past but now that the girls are getting older and leaving for college, they’re in a more transitory period and Wren, especially, wants to separate herself from her twin.  She doesn’t even want to live with Cath which ends up effecting each sister differently.

Cath is a character I completely related to.  She’s an introvert who loves literature and she takes on the burden of familial responsibilities when Wren becomes more concerned with going out and partying than the well-being of her father.  She’s also pretty insecure and awkward.  I love that Rowell even uses Cath’s fanfic as a story element by interweaving it through chapters.  Cath’s writing also gives us a sense of how she’s coping with her own real life.  Even if you didn’t grow up addicted to Harry Potter, if you’ve ever loved anything fictional, you’ll be able to relate to Cath’s intense passion for the characters.  It still amazes me how much Rainbow Rowell understands and expresses the feelings superfans experience.

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Part of what made this book so enjoyable is that it explored so many of the relationships in Cath’s life from her twin sister to her father to her absent mother to her new roommate / potential friend  to a potential love interest.  Levi, the potential love interest, is probably my second favorite character of the book (after Cath of course) because he really gets Cath to break out her shell, even if it’s only a little.  He’s patient and understanding and it’s evident that he cares for her.

Overall Fangirl is an enjoyable journey through the transition from childhood to adulthood.  It captures the essence of what it means to be a fangirl and celebrates the love of fanficiton, which is typically viewed with negative connotations.  It’s no wonder Fangirl was the first book read by the official Tumblr book club.  I loved how Cath’s character grew throughout the novel and how despite her reluctance, she begins to step outside her comfort zone and experience life differently.  I cannot wait to read Rainbow Rowell’s book set in the world of Simon Snow, titled Carry On, which is scheduled for release this October.

1Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #1)

I thought now would be the perfect time to write and review the first book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series since I’m just about finished with the second one!  I read The Raven Boys in the latter half of 2014 and I enjoyed it very much.  The story is about a girl named Blue who comes from a long line of psychics but does not possess the power herself.  Her presence has the ability to “make things louder” for other psychics when they’re conducting readings and ever since she was little she’s been told that if she kisses her first love it will kill him.  Blue joins her aunt in their annual visit to the ley line in Henrietta and for the first time ever, she interacts with a spirit directly.  She later learns that the boy is around her age and he attends the fancy prep school near her.

Blue becomes involved with this particular Raven boy, Gansey, and his three best friends, Ronan, Adam and Noah in their quest to find this King, Glendower.  If I were Blue, I would absolutely want to be involved in unraveling the mystery that the boys have been after for so long.  And I particularly love Gansey.  He’s so eloquent in his delivery and he really truly means well even if it doesn’t always come across in his actions.  I also loved reading about the women who live with Blue.  Each of them is psychic so the household is one of the more interesting ones I’ve read about.

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What makes The Raven Boys SO good is that Maggie Stiefvater is excellent at crafting and telling a story.  There are so many elements to this story and while a lot of them were explored in the first book, I can definitely see why more books are on the horizon.  The original plot and the magic of it all are really what drew me in and kept me furiously turning the pages throughout the book.  I love how as fantastical as the world in the novel is, it still manages to seem realistic and as if it could be occurring in a small town somewhere as we speak.

If you’re the kind of reader who doesn’t like waiting for things to come together, I would urge you to power through the beginning of the book because, trust me, the payoff is WORTH IT.  I’m so excited to be starting the second book and I think I may even look up this Scottish King Glendower so I can appreciate some more of the mystery surrounding him.2

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before. (via Goodreads)

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How I’ve Been Upgrading to Kristin 2.0 Through General Life Overhauls

I haven’t written one of these in a while because I’ve been SO busy but I’m really quite happy right now and I feel like sharing some of the reasons why.  I’ve been doing some major life overhauls and it’s really been helping me.

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Fashion

In 2014 I started a complete revamp of my wardrobe and I couldn’t be more excited about my recent apparel acquisitions.  My wardrobe had fallen into a serious rut that seemed more like one big advertisement than an expression of who I am. It felt like I was letting my interests overtake my physical appearance as well as my identity.  I still like the same things entertainment-wise, but I’m realizing more and more that who I am and what I like have no correlation to the items I wear that make me feel good about myself.

I’ve been culling my closet (moving played a big part in this because I needed to downsize my wardrobe), and stocking up on basics, statement necklaces, and the kinds of cute sweaters I used to don during my college years except with a slightly more sophisticated edge to them. I’ve even purchased a few pairs of jeans (which I’ve worn more than once!), and today I ordered a pair of sneakers which I haven’t done since high school.  Wardrobe purging and rebuilding is good for the soul.

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Entertainment

While I love comics and action films and all that stuff, I also like a lot of “girly” things too.  Being considered a “geek girl,” especially one who frequents the internet, had made me feel a combination of things.  While I enjoyed being part of a supportive geek community which seemed like something that had been absent during the rest of my life, I’ve began questioning just how supportive the community really is.

Is a community where I feel pressured to see and read every single thing that comes out for reasons other than pure enjoyment something I need in my life?  I don’t think so.  People online are so quick to jump down anyone’s throat if they make a mistake.  There’s a difference between correcting someone for their own benefit than for waiting for the opportunity for someone to screw up just so you CAN correct them.  I think the latter of these people need to spend some time outdoors, disconnected from the internet without the privilege of the anonymity of the internet.  People question how much you REALLY like something which I think is the most ridiculous concept.

For a while, I’ve also felt like I couldn’t share some of my other interests because I’ve been pigeonholed into this limiting “geek” category.  I don’t get as many likes on photos or favorites on tweets if I’m posting something that isn’t comics related and that had made me feel self conscious about my other interests.  It’s even a little dehumanizing in some ways.  I’m not a billboard for comics and I shouldn’t feel pressured into posting what I know will please the most people.  Now that I’m getting older, I’ve done a whole bunch of things which made me realize that I couldn’t care less what other people think, I’m going to be posting a broader scope of the things that make me happy.  I think the major turning point for me was NYCC 2013 for many reasons (just ask Giovanni because I think he witnessed my transformation most closely).  Since I’ve completely stopped caring about reading what every person in my Twitter feed is tweeting, I’ve been able to spend more time doing the things I really enjoy and I almost can’t believe how long it’s been since the last time I felt really stressed out.

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Social Media

In 2014 I culled my Facebook friend list.  This has made Facebook a much more enjoyable place and I no longer have to worry that some random person will post some weird thing on my wall and one of my family members might see.  Admittedly, I still don’t use Facebook all that much since it really is my least favorite social media site, but I’m going to be doing the same thing to my Twitter feed (possibly even today)!  I want to be excited about reading what my friends are up to without having to see someone else’s thousand RT’s of other accounts.  Melissa, Betty, Giovanni and I had a long talk about it last night and they convinced me that I should stop following people I don’t want to follow because I feel bad.

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8 Ways I’ve Been Making Myself Happy Lately

1) Spending the bulk of my free time with people who I love that don’t dwell on and complain about the most trivial of things (i.e., a faceless internet bro’s offensive comment on a [insert social media site / blog here]).

2) Reading all the YA books I can get my hands on during every free minute I find within the day.  I’ve also been writing more YA reviews which makes me feel so good afterward (which is probably also due to the adorable rating system Andrew created for me).  I love reading and chatting about books and going book shopping but my reading focus drastically decreased when I constantly had my phone sitting next to me so I could stop and check it every time I heard it vibrate.

3) Getting into new-to-me TV shows that have become rather addicting (i.e., Pretty Little Liars, The Carrie Diaries, Gilmore Girls, The 100, etc).  I really want to start the Pretty Little Liars book series too.  There’s already 16 books but I feel like I would fly through them.

4) Buying only the single issue comics that I absolutely know I’ll read immediately.  This has freed up a TON of space and has allowed me to actually save money.  I’ve even been buying some of the things I want to read but know I won’t get to weekly in trade which looks better on my bookshelf anyway.

5) I’ve been watching SO MANY BookTube vlogs.  Like every morning.  And catching up on old ones I’ve missed out on until now.  I’ve even been thinking about infusing my YouTube channel with some book vids, especially since everyone is always asking me to do a bookshelf tour!

6) Baking desserts with more of an intention of them tasting delicious than looking cool and being geeky themed.  I still love themed things, but I’ve been honing my baking skills with things like this amazing chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.  Now that I have my pink KitchenAid mixer I just want to bake all the things!  And it’s also awesome that Melissa has gotten so into baking lately too because I have someone to talk to about it!

7) Reading more health-centric articles and finding a skincare regimen that fits my needs.  Also, watching makeup tutorials and reading beauty blogs.

8) Pinterest.  I’ve officially traded tumblr for Pinterest.  It’s so much more organized, full of helpful ideas, and it isn’t cluttered with general negativity.  And it’s a much better system for cataloging images.

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Before I confuse everyone into thinking that I’m completely giving up my geek interests, that’s not at all the case.  I’m just going to be offering up a wider range of my interests online.  Will I still post about Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Bat family and Star Wars? Absolutely! I’m just going to be more open to sharing the other aspects of my life that make me who I am so those posts will be found alongside beauty, books, and fashion things.  I’m also going to continue dressing in a way that makes me feel more confident and happy about the way I look.

Lastly, please do not be offended if I unfollow you on Twitter during my social media cull.  I’m already dreading the messages asking me why which I received when I de-cluttered my Facebook friends list.

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Harry Potter Series: Ravenclaw Edition

Yesterday I posted a few photos on instagram of the new Harry Potter books I just ordered.  Bloomsbury revamped the series with BEAUTIFUL new cover (and back cover) art in October of last year and I’ve been dying to add a set to my collection ever since.  This is the third full set of Harry Potter books I own and I see no signs of stopping this collection of mine anytime soon.  The next full set that I have my eyes on is this special Ravenclaw collection with custom book jackets that I became aware of thanks to Junebugs and Georgia Peaches. It retails for $275 and is produced by Juniper Books.  Also available are sets for those who identify with Gryffindor, Slytherin and Hufflepuff.  Which is your favorite edition?

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Tea & Book Chat: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before By Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)

I was so excited when I received a copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han from my TBTB Secret Santa Michelle!  I found myself so interested in this story that I read it in only two days.  Our main character, Lara Jean, one of the three Song sisters, writes letters to all of the boys she’s loved in the past when she wants to stop loving them.  Not that she’s had actual romantic relationships with any of them.  She places them in a hatbox in her room and she’s basically living a nightmare when someone the hatbox goes missing and several of the boys start confronting her about the letter they received.

To make matters even more complicated, one of the boys who received a letter is the long time boyfriend of Lara Jean’s sister Margot who breaks up with him right before leaving for college in Scotland.  I have no idea what I would’ve done in Lara Jean’s situation but I loved the way she handled it!  I really related to Lara Jean as a character because she’s very family oriented and she enjoys staying home to bake cookies and reorganize her closet. We’re also both terrified of driving and would do almost anything to not have to do it.  I loved the way that Jenny Han focused on the relationship between the Song sisters.  My favorite character is the youngest sister, Kitty, who is more confident and feisty than many older characters I’ve ever read about.

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Another interesting aspect of the book is that the Song sisters are half Korean so I enjoyed learning a bit about their culture.  I always love learning about experiences that are different than mine and I thought the way Jenny Han included those cultural aspects worked really well.  Being Korean didn’t define the characters, it was just a part of who they were.  One of my favorite parts is when Lara Jean dresses up as Cho Chang from Harry Potter for Halloween because she’s tired of people asking what she’s supposed to be and assuming she’s an anime character.

Also, the love story was SO GOOD.  As soon as I finished reading, I texted my friend Carolyn who works at Simon & Schuster and basically begged her to send me a copy of the next book when it’s going out because there is just no way that I can wait until June 2nd to find out how the story ends.  I could absolutely see this being made into a YA rom com.  Another part of what drew me to the book initially is the BEAUTIFUL cover.  I mean seriously, look at it!

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all. (via Goodreads)
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5 Fandom Friday: My Favorite Things About Winter

Besides the freezing cold weather which in NYC is so raw that it often makes my face and hands hurt, there are a lot things I really do enjoy about winter.  It’s actually really appropriate that I’m writing this post today because as I sit here in my Batgirl pajama pants and fox slippers I’m admiring snow falling outside my window.  If only I didn’t have to get dressed and venture outside for work!  Anyway, here are my favorite things about winter!

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1) CHRISTMAS – Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I’ve often talked about how I consider the Christmas season to start the day after July 23rd (my birthday) but it’s late fall / early winter before other people really start getting into it too.  I love having days off from work and spending time with my family and everything else that goes along with this wonderful holiday!

Source: Pinterest

2) Drinking All the Tea – I am a complete tea addict.  It even says so on all of my social media profiles but I definitely consume the most of my favorite beverage during the winter months.  I’m very fond of my caffeinated teas (green and chai being my favorite), but during the winter I’ll sometimes end up drinking a decaf flavor (gasp!) in an effort to stay warm.

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Source: Pinterest

3) Snuggling Under Blankets With a Good Book – As I mentioned above, it can get very cold here in NYC (not as cold as it does in Canada, I have no idea how anyone survives winters there) so much of January-February-March is spent inside under as many blankets as I can find.  The cold weather is the PERFECT excuse to stay in and read.  Being an introvert, I’d chose staying in and reading about my fictional friends over going out any day of the week.

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Source: Pinterest

4) Sweaters, Boots & Scarves – Let’s face it, winter is great time for wardrobes.  I love layering tops and feeling cozy in big sweaters and scarves.  I live in boots throughout the winter months and while I don’t enjoy being cold, I definitely enjoy purchasing clothing to wear in the cold.

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Source: Pinterest

5) Snow! – Now that I’ve moved to NYC and I no longer have to drive anywhere ever, I have a new appreciation for snow!  It’s still no picnic to walk around in it, but it is pretty to look at.  It looks especially gorgeous floating down with all the buildings and Central Park in the background.  It’s almost like being inside of a snow globe.  (It even happens to be snowing outside as I write this very post!)

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Source: Pinterest

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PAST & UPCOMING TOPICS

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January 9th – My Favorite Things About Winter
January 16th – Conventions I’ve Been To Or Wish To Attend
January 23rd – Songs That Changed My Life
January 30th – Favorite Fandom Accessories I Own
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February 6th – Favorite Funko Pop Figures
February 13th – Favorite Fictional Couples I Ship (Valentine’s Day)
February 20th – Things I’ve Bought But Haven’t Read/Watched/Played Yet
February 27th – Characters I Would Name My Kids After
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March 6th – Favorite Snacks/Drinks To Consume While Blogging
March 13th – My Fictional BFF’s
March 20th – My Comfort Films
March 27th – One Fandom Item Styled Five Different Ways
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