Spines With Wines: Windwitch by Susan Dennard + February Book of the Month

This month Cassie and I met to discuss Windwitch by Susan Dennard for the Spines With Wines book club!  It was a really fun one because we had opposite opinions on a lot of the story so you’ll get both points of view. You can view the full video below:

February Book Club Pick

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Kristin

Blog Tour + Giveaway: 5 Reasons to Read The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

I’m so excited to be on the blog tour for Corey Ann Haydu’s newest release, The Careful Undressing of Love.  This most recent story of hers is Corey’s first foray into magical realism in the YA genre.  I can honestly say that I was completely enthralled by the end of the first page and I could not tear my eyes away from the mystery surrounding the women of Devonairre Street which is why I’ll be giving you 5 reasons you should read The Careful Undressing of Love after this brief synopsis:

The girls of Devonairre Street have always been told they’re cursed. Any boy they love is certain to die too soon. But this is Brooklyn in 2008, and the curse is less a terror and more a lifestyle accessory—something funky and quaint that makes the girls from the shortest street in Brooklyn special. They wear their hair long and keys around their necks. People give them a second look and whisper “Devonairre” to their friends. But it’s not real. It won’t affect their futures. 

Then Jack—their Jack, the one boy everyone loved—dies suddenly and violently. And now the curse seems not only real, but like the only thing that matters. All their bright futures have suddenly gone dark. 

The Careful Undressing of Love is a disturbing and sensual story of the power of youth and the boundless mysteries of love set against the backdrop of Haydu’s brilliantly reimagined New York City.

  1. Beautiful prose – What struck me the most while reading The Careful Undressing of Love is the beautiful way that Corey Ann Haydu relays how our main character Lorna experiences the world. She has a way of turning the most simple observations into something worth examining.  One of my favorite sentences in the book is on the very first page of the first chapter and it has stuck with me long after I finished reading.  Lorna is watching a balloon float away from Devonairre Street on her shared birthday and she thinks “I think I wouldn’t mind being a red balloon against a blue Brooklyn sky, looking down over Devonairre Street.”  It totally sets the mood for the story since the reader is technically that balloon, hovering over Lorna and co., getting inside information about their lifestyle without ever having to experience the grief of being fully involved.
  2. Complex feelings of grief and loss – The Careful Undressing of Love takes place in an alternate reality which is very close to ours but instead of 9/11, the characters are all Affected by a bombing in Times Square where they lost their loved ones.  In this strange new future, everyone is required to learn the names of the Affected and there is a minute of silence each day to remember those who were lost, and those who survive them.  But, this is not the only coping mechanism for loss and grief that’s present but I’ll explain more in my fifth reason.
  3. An intriguing curse – According to Angelika, the driving force in perpetuating remembrance of the infamous curse, any man that a woman of Devonairre Street falls in love with is destined to die soon after.  An overwhelming number women on the street have lost their husbands in the Times Square bombings and widowed women have been dwelling on Devonairre Street for years.  Angelika has her reasons for believing in the curse and she checks each girls faces on their shared birthday each year for any sign of love.  She reminds them constantly to never fall in love or else it will be their fault when an innocent man dies.
  4. Delicious food descriptions – Lemons, lavender tea, honey cake and vanilla tea are the foods that stick out to me most after reading this book.  They’re definitely the most prevalent but there’s one other scene that stuck out in my mind.  Lorna would often imagine Future Lorna and in one possible future she sees herself crashing weddings and having a stomach for champagne & cake and it just made me so happy that I have some upcoming weddings to attend.
  5. Cult-like behaviors of Devonairre Street – Some of the eccentric behavior of the women of Devonairre Street is done as a preventative measure to avoid falling in love.  Other habits are superstitious and nonsensical and others are a coping mechanism.  The girls of Devonairre Street wear keys around their necks.  The never cut their hair and they wear a ton of wool clothing.  When a male they’ve doomed passes away they console each other with lemons and lavender tea and they leave their driveway lights on overnight because according to Angelika, “love happens at night.” (Or luf as she would say in her Polish accent.)

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of three (3) signed copies of A Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on January 30, 2017 and 12:00 AM on February 13, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about February 14, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:
1/30 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Interview
1/31 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
2/1 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Guest Post
2/2 – Super Space Chick – Reasons to Read
2/3 – Page Turners – Deleted Scene
Week Two:
2/6 – The Books Buzz – Review + Mood Board
2/7 – Alexa Loves Books – Guest Post
2/8 – Lost in Literature – Guest Post
2/9 – Pop! Goes the Reader – The Writing’s On the Wall
2/10 – Novel Novice – Review

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.  I’ve been so EAGERLY anticipating this one that I can’t even put it into words.  I absolutely love the concept of the story- an Indian girl and boy head to a summer program for web developers.  Dimple is interested in going and escaping her parents who keep pressuring her to find the perfect Indian husband.  Meanwhile, they’ve actually set up an arranged marriage with Rishi’s parents and Rishi is a traditionalist and a romantic.  He’s so excited to go to this program, meet his future wife and sweep her off of her feet.  The parents hadn’t planned on introducing their children so early in life but since they’re both gravitating toward the same program, they figure, why not!  I’ve never read a contemporary book about an arranged marriage before and I’m so excited to learn more about the tradition with a summer program for web developers as a setting! I’ve actually never screamed so much upon receiving an ARC.  My husband and brother were both overwhelmed by my enthusiasm and I had to excuse myself from conversation IMMEDIATELY so I could go photograph my new book<3

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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TTT: Top 10 Graphic Novels & Manga on my TBR

Top Ten Tuesday’s are a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which anyone who participates creates a Top Ten list of books based on a weekly prompt they provide (the list for advance topics can be found by clicking the link above).  

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is graphic novels and comics so I decided to include manga as well! It’s been a while since I’ve done a comics post on my blog so I’m excited to be putting together this one today.  In recent years, I’ve found myself gravitating away from the toxicity of the comics industry in favor of full length novels and manga.  There were a bunch of personal experiences with creators that turned me off to comics in general which breaks my heart because I love the medium dearly but I think it’s helped me identify the stories that are right for me.  My comics and graphic novels TBR is much shorter than it ever has been but I’m genuinely thrilled for all the books I have to look forward to.  Here they are!

  1. Archie Volume Two by Mark Waid and Veronica Fish – I LOVED the first volume of the rebooted Archie and I picked up the second volume as soon as it was released but I have yet to read it.  Last week I watched Riverdale and it really sparked my interest in continuing the series ASAP!
  2. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat Volume 2: Don’t Stop Me’ow by Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams – Patsy Walker is probably my current favorite Marvel superhero (yes, even more than Spider-Gwen!).  I really loved the first volume from Patsy’s sass to the trendy clothes and the inclusion of She-Hulk and I can’t wait to dive into volume 2!
  3. Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie – I’ve been meaning to read this one for years.  I love Gillen and McKelvie collectively as a creative team (Young Avengers is like, my favorite thing ever) and I’m so curious about this one of their earlier works! I love that it centers around music and I really need to read it already.
  4. The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie – See, here they are again. I loved the artwork and the unique story concept in the first volume but I haven’t gotten to volume 2 just yet. Must rectify!
  5.  &  6. Giant Days Volumes 2 & 3 by John Allison & Lissa Treiman – I wish there were more titles out there like Giant Days! It’s a slice of life story following three very different roommates during college.  Each character is completely lovable in their own way and I can never chose a favorite because I love them all so much!

7. Fruits Basket Volume 2 by Natsuki Takaya – I loved this anime and I read the first volume when it was released.  Thankfully, these beautiful collector’s editions of Fruits Basket have been released so rapidly! I honestly can’t keep up with how often each new volume debuts but there are no complaints here! I actually have volumes 2-8 currently sitting unread on my shelf and the 9th should be coming out shortly!

8. Princess Jellyfish Volume 3 by Akiko Higashimura – This is one of my favorite manga series that’s finally being released in the U.S.! I devoured the first two volumes but I haven’t yet read the 3rd. I’m actually having the opposite issue of Fruits Basket, I hate not having another volume to look forward to once I finish so I’m saving it for closer to when volume 4 comes out!

9. Komomo Confiserie Volume 3 by Maki Minami – This manga is so much fun.  It’s honestly not the best story but I’m completely in love with the illustrations.  I didn’t get really into it until the end of the second volume, but I love the dresses and pastries and it’s only 5 volumes so I’m planning on finishing up soon.

10. Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches Volume 8 by Miki Yoshikawa – I basically inhaled volumes 1-7 of this series! I swear I never binge read a manga series so fast in my life but I loved the characters and the concept of this unusual story.  I took a short break since I didn’t have too many volumes left to read but now I’ve got 8-12 calling to me!

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Reading Challenge Wrap Up: January 2017 + GIVEAWAY

Welcome to my reading challenges recap for 2017!  This is a monthly post where I’ll be updating my progress throughout the year by challenge so you (and I) can see a breakdown of what I’ve read and which goals those books apply to.  I’m always open to suggestions in the comments as well! If you’re interested in learning more about any of the challenges below, you can view my sign-up post!

Goal: 75

Read so far: 9

Books Read: The Amateurs by Sara Shepard (The Amateur #1), The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (The Fixer #1), A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2), P.S. I Like You by Kasie West, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns #1), Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg, Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

Favorite read of the month:

Goal: 40

Read so far: 2

Favorite Read of the month: I can’t pick, I loved them both!

Goal: 21+

Read so far: 3

Favorite read of the month:

Goal: 1-30

Read so far: 2

Favorite read of the month: tbh, they were both a bit disappointing for me :-(

Goal: 20

Read so far: 2

Favorite read of the monthGirl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Goal: 30

Read so far: 7

Goal: 51-75 points

Points so far: 2 points

Giveaway

This month, I’m also hosting a giveaway for up o $50 worth of books from Book Depository!  I recently surpassed 10,000 subscribers on YouTube so I wanted to show my appreciation for all of your love and support by gifting someone with new books!  The only requirements to enter are 1) you must be subscribed to my booktube channel and 1) you must live in a country that Book Depository ships to.  I’ll contact a winner once the contest ends and if I don’t receive a response within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck, and thanks again!!!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Personal Thoughts:  After finishing and loving P.S. I Like You by Kasie West, I decided I was on a contemporary kick and jumped right into one of my most anticipated of 2017.  Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse is a book that I got an ARC of at BEA and I’d been meaning to read it before it’s March release date so I could review it here on the blog.  What initially peaked my interest in Seven Days of You is the fact that it’s set in Tokyo.  I love all things Japan so my heart felt ready to dive in and run around Tokyo in my head while ignoring the Nor’easter weather conditions here in NYC.

Plot Summary:  Seven Days of You is the story of a girl named Sophia who has only one week left in Tokyo.  She’s lived there with her mother and her sister for more combined years than any other location and she’s not ready to leave her best friends, her school and everything familiar in her life behind and head to New Jersey right before she begins her senior year of high school.  As Sophia is getting ready to leave, Jamie, the boy she’s harbored a huge grudge against for the past couple of years, arrives back in Tokyo and their relationship dynamic begins to change when he helps her pick up the pieces of everything falling apart around her.  But despite the change of heart, Sophia and Jamie are dealing with an impending deadline of Sophia’s inevitable departure.

Critique:  I’m sad to say that Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse did not live up to my expectations.  My initial interest in the Tokyo setting ended up being the only thing that kept me going throughout the whole story.  I loved anytime the characters would meet up at a tourist destination in Tokyo, would go to karaoke, or would indulge in Japanese snacks.  It was really fun to pick out some favorites and wish I were there eating with them!  There was also a mention in the beginning of the book that reminded me of one of my favorite manga series (Nana by Ai Yazawa) so I was very hyped.  Unfortunately, my love of the book ended there.  I didn’t completely dislike the book but none of the characters were very memorable, and I struggled with the plot.  Sophia and her friends Mika and David are immature.  David treats Sophia horribly yet she spends a good portion of the story harboring a crush on him anyway.  I really disliked the way the situation between the three of them was handled from beginning to end.  Then there’s the love interest Jamie who seemed like such a good guy.  He’s way too good for everything that Sophia puts him through and it was sad to see him hang around her.  Mika seemed like she had potential to be an interesting character but it was difficult to ever fully understand her or the motivation behind her actions and David is just awful.  Another thing I found strange is that Japanese words would be in italics the first time they were used.  I’m unsure if this is because I read an ARC version or if it was an intentional way to show readers that an object is Japanese.  I’ll be very curious to see if that’s the same in the finished version.  One thing I did like is that each chapter has a countdown in the chapter header showing us how many more days, hours, minutes and seconds Sophia has left before she leaves Tokyo.  Seven Days of You is an enjoyable read for the Japanese references but it’s not something I would re-read and I know the story isn’t one that will stick with me.

Do I Recommend?: Sadly, I can’t say that I do. If you love Japan and Japanese culture, you might find it worth the read just for the references but don’t expect much out of the story or characters.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Personal Thoughts:  After a challenging December / beginning of January, I’d been feeling a bit slumpy.  As much as I wanted to get lost in complex fantasy worlds, my brain was just not having it.  I kept feeling distracted while reading and it was making me so sad.  So over the three day weekend, I asked my husband if he would mind if we cancelled our Monday plans so I could spend time reading a cute contemporary book and reinvigorate myself so I could feel excited about reading again.  P.S. I Like You by Kasie West TOTALLY did the trick.  I had been wanting to read this book since it came out last year and I’d heard nothing but good things so I decided this would be The Book.  I ended up reading the majority of the book in one day and I finished the day after on my commute to work (I got to work during one of the most exciting parts and I literally spent the entire day wishing I could get back to reading!).

Plot Summary:  P.S. I Like You is the story of an alternative girl named Lily who finds solace from her crazy family life in mostly unheard of bands.  She dabbles in song writing but hasn’t found enough confidence to share her songs with anyone just yet.  Lily is also terrible at and terribly uninterested in her high school chemistry class.  One day out of boredom, she writes a song lyric on her desk and when she comes in the next day, she finds that the lyric has been finished!  Once Lily and her mysterious chemistry crush run out of desk space, they begin writing notes to each other and leaving them underneath their desk for each other to find.  The letters easily become the highlight of Lily’s days but as her suspect list shrinks, she realizes she just may have been sharing her deepest darkest secrets with her sworn enemy.

Critique:  P.S. I Like You by Kasie West is exactly the fluffy contemporary story I was looking for.  While it’s VERY easy to figure out who Lily is conversing with, it doesn’t take away from the excitement of the letters.  Watching the relationship between Lily and her boy develop via the written word is such a contrast to their real life interactions and I love a good hate-to-love romance (it’s one of my favorite tropes when done well!).   You’ll also be pulled into the story by Lily’s adorable family.  Lily is one of four kids living with both her parents so alone time is hard to come by in her household.  Lily takes her responsibilities as an older sister very seriously, often putting her younger brothers before her social life.  Aside from the romance (which let’s be honest, that’s what we’re all here for in a Kasie West book), it’s a pleasure to see Lily’s emotional character arc throughout the novel.  Overall, P.S. I Like You is a feel good love story that’ll have you craving another scene with Lily and the mystery man!

Do I Recommend?: Yes! If you enjoy reading fluffy feel-good contemporaries, this book is for you!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: This is Our Story by Ashley Elston

Personal Thoughts:  Okay, so it’s taken me a really long time to properly gather my thoughts for my review of This is Our Story by Ashley Elston and it’s for good reason.  This is Our Story was one of my favorite books I read in 2016 and I wanted to write a rave review that could do this story justice.  Since this is my personal thoughts section, I’m going to start by talking a little bit about the cover (which I’ve also talked about numerous times on my BookTube channel- PS I’m so happy so many of you have read and loved this book since I started pushing it down your throats!).  Obviously the majestic white porcelain deer head against a cerulean blue background appeals to my aesthetic so I was initially drawn in by this cover.  Then I read the synopsis and discovered even more brilliance behind the cover design.  You see, This is Our Story is about a girl on a mission to identify Grant’s killer and serve him justice.  Grant is a boy who goes hunting in the woods with his 4 best friends but unfortunately, he doesn’t make it out alive.  The cover depicts five shadows (representing each of the boys who went hunting that morning with the deer head positioned over who we can only assume is Grant- the hunted.  As if this weren’t clever enough, the letters “his” in “this” and “story” in “story” are a darker shade of grey than the rest of the title because while this is the story of Kate solving the case, it’s also Grant’s or his story.  Another reason I was drawn into this story is because it’s about a group of boy best friends dubbed the River Point boys living in a small town revolving around a mystery so there were some initial Raven Boys vibes for me. So much love for this book<3

Plot Summary: I began describing the plot above but I’ll reiterate it here.  This is Our Story follows a girl named Kate who works as an intern for her local DA.  She becomes involved in a case surrounding her new classmates who’ve been transferred out of their private school after a tragic event.  The five River Point boys, all from the town’s wealthiest families, are longtime best friends who are known for their wild parties.  One morning after an out of control event of theirs, the boys head into the woods to hunt, only one of them doesn’t make it out alive and none of the surviving boys are talking.  As Kate delves deeper into the case, she begins to uncover secrets and truths she never expected to find.  And as she begins to close in on Grant’s killer, her life and the lives of others are suddenly at risk.

This is Our Story 2

CritiqueThis is Our Story is one of the most well crafted young adult thriller novels I’ve ever read.  Because the story is told from the perspective of a girl working for the DA’s office, we’re given all of the evidence in the case as it’s discovered.  If you read closely and pay attention to even the most minor clues, you’ll have the opportunity to solve the case.  While many readers appreciate the element of surprise while reading thrillers (and trust me, there’s a very high chance that you won’t be able to pick out the killer), I have never felt more satisfied in being able to predict a portion of the outcome.  Elston makes you feel as though you’re a detective working to solve the case so the advances the reader makes feel incredibly gratifying.  It’s enjoyable to spend the vast duration of the story in our main character Kate’s head.  She’s a driven young woman and despite potential fallout from her personal involvement in the case, she’s hellbent on exacting justice.  While Kate is definitely a smart cookie, she does make some very questionable decisions which adds to the believability that she’s a high school student.  Kate’s perspective is interlaced with our killer’s brief thoughts every couple of chapters.  While reading, it was initially very difficult to distinguish one River Point boy from another which I had originally thought was a flaw in the story until I read on and realized that this is exactly what Elston wanted.  The boy’s lawyer advises them to be seen as a group to avoid a single person being charged and they do a great job of portraying themselves as a collective group as opposed to individual people.   I’m not going to get into my detailed thoughts about each boy because the reader must discover their traits as the story progresses.  I’ve heard some criticism regarding the pacing of the story in that it tends to be a bit slow in the middle, but I would have to disagree.  The characters are strong enough to keep the reader invested during those seemingly slower moments and each page is building toward the big payoff ending that Elston so flawlessly delivers.  P.S. The last thing I want to say is that I adore Kate’s best friend Reagan and her brilliant Halloween costume designs!

Do I Recommend?: Pretty obviously yes!  As I said, This is Our Story is one of my favorite young adult thrillers ever written and INSTANTLY purchased Elston’s other books upon finishing.  She is without a doubt an auto-buy author for me after reading this book.

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Kristin

Love-A-Thon 2017 Sign-Ups!

Today is the day! I’m so excited to be able to announce that the 2017 Love-a-Thon is happening – and official sign-ups are open today!  The Love-A-Thon has been my favorite bookish event of the year since I first discovered it.  It’t the event that got me to break out of my shell and befriend a bunch of book bloggers who I had been admiring from afar and it also helped me discover a whole slew of new book bloggers who hadn’t previously been on my radar but I’ve since taken to reading every single one of their posts!  And now this year, I’m getting to join the Love-A-Thon as a co-host!!!  This year Love-A-Thon will be hosted by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Mel of The Daily Prophecy and yours truly!  We’ve brainstormed some really fun ideas to challenge you creatively, and to encourage you to develop and strengthen the positive friendships you’ve formed in our online book community!  And this is why the Love-A-Thon has always been my favorite book event.  It’s not about spending as much as time possible reading over a two day period, it’s about connecting with other avid readers in the bookternet-verse! Whether it’s a blog, a Twitter account, an Instagram account or a YouTube channel, we’re so excited to invite you to help spread the love again this year!

The Love-a-Thon is an event dedicated to spreading positivity and love. It’s time dedicated to visiting other bloggers/Instagrammers/BookTubers, leaving a comment or two, making new friends and fostering positivity among the members of our amazing community. As in the previous years, the event will include mini challenges, Twitter chats and giveaways galore! The full schedule will be sent to you when you’ve signed up, so you can start preparing your posts in advance.

We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone participate in sharing love, encouragement and inspiration all over the bookish communities on the blogosphere, Instagram and YouTube! And, of course, we hope everyone will have fun. If you’re interested in participating, please fill in the sign-up form below. Once that’s done, you can consider yourself an official #LoveAThon participant!

FAQ

Who can participate in the Love-a-Thon? All book bloggers, Bookstagrammers, BookTubers, and authors are welcome to jump in! We have challenges spanning three different platforms (blogs, YouTube & Instagram), and you can participate as much or as little as you’d like. (Everyone is invited to join in on the Twitter chats though!)

When is the Love-a-Thon happening? We’re going to be maintaining the two day schedule, with the event taking place from February 18, 12:00AM EST to February 20, 12:00AM EST.

How can I sign up? All you need to do is fill out the form below! You can grab the banner up top to share on your sidebar or your social media platform of choice. Sign-ups will be open up until February 18, though it’s recommended that you sign up early so that you receive the schedule and can plan out what you want to participate in!

How can I help? There are two ways you can choose to help. First, you can help us spread the word! Last year’s number of participants was above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m hoping thereare even more of us this time! Second, you can donate to the giveaways! If you want to donate ANYTHING – books, swag, services – towards the mini-challenge giveaways or the big giveaway at the end, please email bbloveathon@gmail.com with details.

Twitter? Use the official hashtag (#LoveAThon) when tweeting about the event. I’ll be checking on it every now and then, so use it if you want me to see your tweets!

Questions, comments, concerns or suggestions? If you have any other concerns that were not answered here, feel free to send an email to bbloveathon@gmail.com or to tweet any of us (@alexalovesbooks • @tnhcee • @superspacechick • @dailyprophecy).

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to participate in the 2017 Love-a-Thon today! If you do sign up, please know that we are so grateful and so excited to have you joining us this year. This community is really wonderful, and constantly growing, and is made up of such unique individuals. It’s truly awesome to be able to celebrate it, and to celebrate each other too!

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Kristin

How to Get Up Early + My Ideal Morning Routine

I always have a more difficult time getting out of bed early when the temperature reaches below the freezing point but I’ve found that this year has been even more challenging than years past.  I still wake up at 5AM. Once my alarm goes off, I’m up and even if I lay in bed with my eyes closed cuddled under covers, there’s no falling back to sleep for me (especially since my husband’s alarm tends to go off a lot during the morning- he’s my little night owl).  But after spending that extra time in bed, no matter how cozy I may feel, I always HATE feeling like I wasted such precious morning hours.  I inevitably end up getting upset that I didn’t get up early and I spend my day at work thinking about all the things I could’ve gotten done if I had just gotten out of bed.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to motivate myself to actually get out of my bed and I think I came up with a good one.  When I was feeling fully awake (aka I had at least one cup of chai tea flowing through my system), I decided to write out all of the events that would occur during my ideal morning.  Now that I can visualize what I can realistically accomplish and imagine the feeling of productivity that comes along with it, I’ve been having a much easier time ditching my covers before sunrise.  I originally wrote this out just for me, but I decided to share it in case it helps others as well!

1) Up at 5 AM – I am blessed by the fact that I don’t have trouble falling asleep at night.  Since high school, I have always been an early riser.  I look forward to those quiet morning moments where no one else is awake to bother me.  Since I had started getting up later, I noticed a change in my attitude.  I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done and it killed me.  I missed having that jump on the day!

Tip: This has helped me in the past- If I know I’m going to be extra tired, I’ll put my phone on my desk which is across the room before I fall asleep the night before.  Then I HAVE to get out of bed to turn it off (I don’t know about you but there is no sound I like less than my alarm- I need to turn it off within SECONDS of it going off or I lose my mind.  My husband on the other hand, hits snooze multiple times and I’m always just like nooooo how could you possibly want to hear that noise again soon?!)

2) Make a cup of tea – Tea is one of my favorite elements of any given day.  I look forward to the moment that the warm deliciousness that is caffeine infused tea hits my taste-buds.  (I usually opt for chai or earl grey for my first cup).  Sometimes if I wake up early without having a cup of caffeine, I can feel my eyes drooping while I read on my hour+ commute no matter how invested I am in the story.  When I start my morning with a cup of tea, that never happens!

3) Do a 5-10 minute workout – I used to catch up on social media while my tea brewed (Twitter, Instagram and the like) but in all honesty I’m struggling to think of a time when I found something useful on Twitter that was posted while I was asleep.  Instead of getting sucked into my phone, I’ve been doing a quick 1-10 minute YouTube video workout.  Once I’ve gotten some of the techniques memorized, I think I’ll probably just do the exercises on my own and watch a BookTube video while I wait for my tea to be ready.

4) Decide what I want to work on the night before – I also find it easier to wake up when I have a clear plan in my mind of what I want to accomplish.  I’ve been using Trello to organize blog post ideas, to do lists, and MANY other aspects of my life since I first heard about the service from Alice at The Geeky Burrow.  Before I go to sleep I like to consult my spreadsheets & Trello boards to determine what I want to work on when I wake up.

5) Work on blog / YouTube at my desk – For a while, I didn’t have a desk at home when we moved into our apartment.  And then once I did bring my desk over, I used it purely for Bookstagram photos and literally never sat at it.  But, I cleaned it all off (in the week I KonMari’d) and I find that I am so much more productive when I’m sitting there than I am when laying in bed and trying to work.  While it’s obviously a bit less comfortable, I find it keeps me more focused on what I’m doing and less prone to distractions. And if I get cold, I just layer on the sweaters and use a throw blanket!

6) Update Bullet Journal – I LOVE my bullet journal. It’s like my little creative baby! I keep track of a bunch of things amongst its pages, blog & YouTube posts included and I like to update it in a timely manner as soon as I’ve accomplished something I’ve tracked.  I’ve tried bringing it to work and trying to update when I have a quiet moment during a break, but it’s kind of a pain to carry all of my markers or to draw everything first in pencil, only to redo it in marker at night.  I also find that I’m better at bullet journaling at a desk too. Much straighter lines!

7) Get ready (Makeup / Hair) & Pick out outfit – Finally, the thing I spend the least amount of time on each morning >.< I find that the way I dress and whether I take the time to do my makeup often has a huge impact on the rest of my day.  I’m one of those people that just *feels* better when I’m confident in my outward appearance.  Once I’ve accomplished something for the day, spending my remaining time getting ready turns into an actual fun thing instead of a mad dash to throw on something clean and bound out the door to make my train.  It’s way less stressful and to make the getting ready experience even more enjoyable and transform it into a way to unwind after “working” I usually perch my laptop on my bathroom sink counter while I do my hair and makeup. Then I feel ready to take on the world!

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Kristin
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