Thursday, January 22, 2015

Quirky Questions Collab Tag (Video)

Over on BookTube, I've just participated in a huge collaboration project set up by my friend Georgina (BritishBiblioholic) in which a group of us each asked one question to be compiled into a quirky and unique kind of introductory '20 Questions' tag video.

BOOKTUBE = A community within YouTube where people review, talk about, discuss, rant, and obsess over books.

It was immensely fun. Some of these questions are bizarre, some thought-provoking, some truly insightful. (What super power would you choose? Truly? What book title could double as your autobiography?) There some seriously talented and wise people out there.

Here are all of my answers, and all of the questions and their posers are listed out below. Feel free to answer any or all! I don't see why this questionaire couldn't hop to the blogosphere, so no video even required. ;)

Get those brains working!

Georgina (a.k.a. me, BritishBiblioholic) - with the five most exciting questions EVER:
1) "What is your favourite book?"
2) "Who is your favourite author?"
3) "Do you prefer to read standalones or series?"
4) "Would you rather read a standalone book over and over again, or a series over and over again?"
5) "Do you have a favourite BookTuber? If so, who?"

Rachel: "What got you into reading and what got you into BookTube?"

Sarah: "Pick your favourite fictional character(s); who do you think THEIR favourite characters (fictional or otherwise) would be and why?"

Sabrina: "Which fandom (or fandoms!) are you part of?"

Amanda (that's me!): "Out of all of the fictional characters that you know of, which one would you most want to be - and who would you be in actuality?"

Austin: "If you could try any fictional food (from any book), what would you want to try?"

Jack: "If you were a book genre, which genre would you be - and what book would you be within that genre?"

Lieke: "If you could write your own book, what would it be about?"

Katie: "If you could be best friends with any YouTuber, who would it be and why?"

Adam: "What is the most embarrassing thing that you can do in the world of BookTubia?" (In your opinion.)

Charlotte: "Turn around and look at your bookshelves; out of the books you can see, pick the one with the title that you would give to your autobiography."

Sue: "If for one entire year you could live the life of any fictional character, whose would you choose and why? NOTE: Nobody from Harry Potter allowed!"

Andrew: "Would you rather live life for 100 'good' years or for 50 'spectacular' years?"

Kaisa: "Picture a future where YouTube no longer exists - or else, it's not a popular thing to do anymore. What can you imagine yourself doing instead to share your passion for books and reading rather than making videos?"

Georgina (a.k.a. me being sneaky): "If you could have any sort of superpower, what superpower would you want?"
My Old Channel:

Filipe: "What are the perks of being in a book club/group?"
NOTE: If you don't attend one, give your top five reasons (etc) why you'd want to be in one or something! :)

Ivan: "If you had to label your gender WITHOUT using the regular labels (e.g. male, female) what would you label yourself as?"

Amber: "What is your first memory of being really excited?"

Ryan: "If you could combine any two superheroes/supervillains and become that conjoined character, who would you combine and why?"

Tissa: "If you could learn to speak a language overnight, what language would you want to learn?"

Priscilla: "If you could turn any book series into a television show adaptation, which one would you choose and why?"

Monday, January 19, 2015

Top 14 Books of 2014

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer
Adult Fiction/Historical Fiction
4/5 stars

by Alethea Kontis
Woodcutter Sisters series, bk 3
4/5 stars

Always Neverland
by Zoe Barton
5/5 stars

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
Adult Fiction
4/5 stars

The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand
by Jen Swann Downey
MG/Adventure/Time Travel
5/5 stars

The Rithmatist
by Brandon Sanderson
YA/Fantasy/Alternate History
5/5 stars

The Hunchback Assignments series
by Arthur Slade
5/5 stars

Odd Thomas
by Dean Koontz
Adult Fiction/Paranormal/Mystery/Suspense
4/5 stars

by John Stockton
5/5 stars

The Returned
by Jason Mott
Adult Fiction/Paranormal
4/5 stars

by Brandon Sanderson
5/5 stars

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
by Zack Whedon
Graphic Novel
4/5 stars

As You Wish
Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride
by Cary Elwes
5/5 stars

Of Sorcery and Snow
by Shelby Bach
The Ever Afters, bk 3
5/5 stars

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Build It With Books!

A friend of mine gave me the idea to build something out of books. And, well, how did this never occur to me before?! 

Now I put forth the challenge to all. Build it with books. Something, anything, everything. Build it with books and share your photos and videos at #BuildItWithBooks.

Books, baby.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Speak Responsibly

I came across a story last week that everyone should see.
It details how an adamant protestor in Phoenix, AZ, after calling for the job and badge of a police officer who shot an unarmed man during a traffic stop, was invited to participate in a police officer's use of force training exercise. The protestor, Jarrett Maupin, agreed.

You can watch a video of the exercises in the article, but the gist is that Maupin was placed into the role of a police officer faced with three separate life or death scenarios.

In the first, Maupin did not react fast enough and was 'shot' by the suspicious perpetrator.

The second scenario mirrored the recent incident that Maupin had so fiercely been protesting. The perpetrator rushed on Maupin and, though he did not appear armed, Maupin 'shot' him. When asked, Maupin said he fired because

"...he was in that zone, I felt there was an imminent threat. I didn't necessarily see him armed, but he came clearly to do some harm to [me]. It's hard to make that call. It shakes you up."

He also confessed "I didn't understand how importance compliance was but after going through this, yeah, my attitude has changed. This is all unfolding in 10 to 15 seconds. People need to comply with the orders of law enforcement officers for their own sake."

In the third scenario, Maupin managed to subdue the perp though, after a search, discovered a concealed knife in his waistband.

I share this story for several reasons, but the most important is how crucial it is to understand what it's like for these police officers. They face real and very serious danger every single day. This is something that most average people like us don't fully comprehend. 58 of the 114 police killed in 2014 were a result of assault.

Maupin was incredibly gutsy to step up to the plate and accept this invitation, to experience what it's really like in the shoes of law enforcement. Too many of the voices crying out are pushing their own opinions and agendas without understanding the positions actually involved. For this reason, I have great admiration for Maupin. Because the most courageous thing he did was admit he did not fully understand the situation and that his opinion is now changed because of it. He sent this tweet after experiencing his scenarios:

People can voice their opinions. This is America and we have been given the freedom of speech. But we also have the duty to use it responsibly. Unlike the old 'sticks and stones' spiel of childhood, words carry great power, especially from the mouths of the ignorant. To quote the immortal words of Stan Lee, "With great power comes great responsibility."

People should think a little more before they speak or tweet or update their status, and make an effort to better understand the situation before they add their own fuel to the fire. They could be doing more harm than good.

Don't be ignorant. Be like Maupin. Make the effort to gather the facts past the gossip and the sensationalized news stories.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Reading Goals and Most Anticipated Books

You can watch my video or scroll down to see my goals. You could even do both. *gasp*

2015 Reading Goals
  • Goodreads Reading Goal of75
  • Five Writing books -Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder, Stein on Writing, others TBD
  • One [thick] Brandon Sanderson novel
  • Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the first time w/ newbie reaction vid
  • Catch up on the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy
  • Finish one manga series
  • 2015 TBR list -Pick one title a month to read
  • More browse selecting. If I see something at the library that looks good, I'm just going to take it!
  • Join a book club. I really want to be part of a book club, but I'm having trouble finding one that suits me and starting my own didn't work out. At all. (I am so sorry.) I want to find something that not only reads books I'll like, but is small enough that we can actually talk to each other, instead of at each other. Suggestions are welcome.

Most Anticipated Books of 2015
  • Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Reckoners bk 2 (Jan. 6)
  • The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister (Jan 13)
  • Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer (Jan 27 & Nov 10, respectively)
  • Woven by David Powers King & Michael Jensen (Jan 27)
  • Dearest by Alethea Kontis (Feb. 3)
  • Masterminds by Gordon Korman (Feb 3)
  • Princess Academy: Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale (March 3)
  • Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine (April 21 -expected)
  • The Forever Man by Eoin Colfer (June 23)
  • Of Enemies and Endings by Shelby Bach. (June 30) The final book of the Ever Afters series. NOOOOOOOoooooooo! I'm not ready to say goodbye!
  • Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (July 7) -A new Jessica Day George book? Historical fantasy? ROMANIA!?
  • Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks by Jen Swann Downey (August 1)

2015 Booktube Goals
  • More interaction. I'm going to watch more booktube videos and leave comments and basically try to be social.
  • More book-to-movie comparisons. I barely did any of these last year and I am so sorry! I know that I really enjoy doing these, but I never gave myself enough time to actually do it. This will change! My big aim is to do comparisons of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Because yeah.
  • More FUN videos. I want to do more tag videos and random bookish things -like book towers or book games- instead of strictly reviews, because I feel like I'm only hitting on half of what makes booktubing awesome.
  • Discussions, reactions, and fangirling. There's an upside and a downside to doing spoiler-free reviews and the downside is that I don't get to talk about what I really loved about a book or how a particular character's development blew my mind. So while I'm not going to stop giving spoiler-free reviews, I would like to do more videos where I actually get to talk about and discuss books. BOOKS!

Monday, January 5, 2015

December/2014 Wrap Up and Corny Joke Monday

It's a shiny bright new year, but before I get into my hopes and goals for 2015 (that will be on Thursday), here is my wrap up from the month of December and all those reading goals I set for 2014.

Really, I'm still surprised I managed to read 100+ books last year. I know quite a few graphic novels are responsible for that count, but that's a genre I was hoping to start reading in anyway, so I really consider that a double-score. ;)

Enchanted Giveaway
Enchanted Review 
Dearest Review
The String Quartet Review

The Hunchback Assignments Review

Corny Joke Monday

How did the telephone propose to his girlfriend?

He gave her a ring.


Friday, January 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Dearest by Alethea Kontis (Woodcutter Sisters, bk 3),204,203,200_.jpg 

by Alethea Kontis
YA/Fantasy/Fairy Tales
4 stars
(ARC review; 'Dearest' will be available on Feb. 3)

Due to some technical difficulties, this post comes a day late. Apologies for that, but better late than never, right?

First of all, I'd like to thank Alethea not only for the ARC of 'Dearest', but for signing so beautifully the books I bought, for sending enough swag to go around, the much-appreciated Princess Bride references, and for being all around awesome. ^_^

The latest installment of the Woodcutter Sister series deals with Friday, the sweetest, kindest, and gentlest of the Woodcutter clan. While I have nothing against Friday, she was never my favorite of the sisters. Compared to pirate queen Thursday, Wednesday in her black gowns with her poetry and prophecies, sword-hacking Saturday, and Sunday and her magic words, Friday with the big heart and the magic needle seemed a little dull.

I was wrong.

Friday was the perfect sister for this story because it played right into her wheelhouse -the need for an open heart and mad sewing skills. She discovers that the seven swans in the palace pond are only swans by day. By night, they are transformed into their true form of seven cursed brothers and she is determined to do everything she can to help them.

Much like Friday herself, I learned how a big heart can become a powerful strength, for yourself and everyone around you. 'Dearest' explored a lot more of Friday's character and she may have just become my favorite of the sisters. She isn't a warrior or a hero; she doesn't have any loftier ambitions than becoming a master seamstress and a nun in the abbey of the earth goddess. She loves to help and serve people, and I love that this was used as a character strength. I found her a perfectly wonderful character because she's sweet and kind, but never simperingly so. Sometimes the goody-two-shoes characters can be grating in stories, but Friday is an easily relatable character with very real emotional struggles.

Like the other books in the series, 'Dearest' is a love story, and it's split into the perspectives of the hero and the heroine. Something I have always appreciated about this series is that their personalities are never too romanticized. They each have flaws, which they usually overcome on their own, they clash at times, and they always ALWAYS have their own struggles and story lines outside of the romance plot. It deepens the whole experience for me when there's more than just a love story going on. Throw in a bloodthirsty warmonger or political conspiracy to go along with it -that's my kind of story.

Something I didn't mention in my video review was how much I liked Conrad. This new character's role surprised and intrigued me. I can't wait to see where he leads the story in the future. Could we be headed to an Agrabah-like country soon? Will we have jinn or some Aladdin references? A girl can hope. ;)

There was only one thing about this book that I was kind of disappointed about. 'Hero' ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, but 'Dearest' does not advance in the time line. This book takes us back to Arilland and shows us what happened there parallel to 'Hero' instead of taking us on to what happened next. 'Dearest' is a great book and, even though I didn't see what happened next, it still advanced deeper into the larger unfolding story, by bringing a couple more connections into play. But now I have another long wait to find out what happens!

One thing I adore about the Woodcutter Sister series are all of the tongue-in-cheek references to the fairy tales of yore. Unlike a true 'retelling' of these tales -like Ella Enchanted or Princess of the Midnight Ball- where the story is the tale, albeit with a new twist, Alethea's use of the classics feels almost incidental. Yes, you could say that Dearest is a retelling of The Six Swans and you could say that Enchanted was a retelling of The Frog Prince, but that would not be doing justice to these books as they are so much more than that. The Woodcutter series inhabits a complex world of Fey and magic, gods and prophecies. Fate and Destiny. And if some of the events that occur happen to tickle a memory, well, that's just coincidence. Alethea's nods to the classics know no bounds, but they are sewn into the fabric of the Woodcutter's reality so gracefully and seamlessly, that it never once distracts the reader, but becomes more of a private joke between us and the author. (Case in point, the orphans that Friday takes to looking after being referred to as 'her Darlings'.)

In 'Dearest', we get a new flavor of the world than we have in previous books, specifically with the kind of deities and religious practices that exist. This combination of gods and Fey is particularly interesting to me. In my experience, these have always seemed like opposing ideas in the fantasy genre. You either have gods and religion or fairies and magic, but Alethea has blended them together with a realistic flourish. Fey inhabit another realm, where magic abounds, and they sometimes intermarry with humans and their offspring can be born with magic. It also seems that the ability to use magic can be a blessing bestowed upon favored humans by their patron gods and, like the Greek pantheon, there are plenty to choose from. There is not so much in this book about the gods and religious practices as to make it dull or even too different from the previous novels, but just enough to explain some occurrences in the story and to clue you in that this is a seriously complex and detailed world spread out before us, and we still have a lot to learn about it. I, for one, can't wait to learn more.

Four stars to Dearest by Alethea Kontis and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, especially fairy tale retellings.

In fact, I am so convinced that you will like this series, I'm doing a giveaway for the first book, Enchanted. I do apologize that this will only be open to United States residents, but if you'd like to enter, just subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave a comment the YouTube page of the video at the top of this post.

Good luck!