Weekly Recap 23 (April 20)

Well hello Sunday my old friend. I can’t believe another week has passed again! Also: Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and Happy Resurrection Day to those who also celebrate! Enjoy your church services (if you do so), chocolate, good food, family, egg hunts, and the lovely warm weather (at least down here in Cali where spring is here to stay).

Stacking the Shelves

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Last weekend was the LA Book Festival, so I went a wee bit crazy with the book buying. Ban? What ban? Anyhoo… it was totally worth it! Dreams of Gods and Monsters was a signed copy from the Mysterious Galaxy booth, and since I wasn’t able to meet Laini Taylor this was a good substitute. Open Road Summer I bought because 1) the cover, 2) it was three days earlier than it’s release date, 3) I got to meet Emery Lord and have it signed, and 4) basically all my reading had been place holders till I got my hands on this book. Unravel Me I just had to buy, because I had an ARC version, but wanted a finished copy, and since Tahereh Mafi was right there… you know how these things go ;)

The other two books were actually not of my own spending! Woo! I won a copy of The Ring and the Crown through Fiktshun and the giveaway she hosted with the publisher. I can’t really tell who’s more excited: me or my sister! I think it’s one we’ll both really enjoy. Now I just have to read it soon to test for content… Ah the woes of being the guinea pig big sister. And as an Easter present, my mom bought me The Museum of Intangible Things (plus a bottle of lotion that I’ve been making grabby hands at for weeks) and totally made my night! It was the other book in my “have to have” list, right next to Open Road Summer. I just think they go so well together!

In other news…

I’m in my second week of spring break, and wow I think I’m the laziest teacher to ever exist. I was supposed to get ahead on my lesson planning, but that all went through the window! I’ll have to work extra hard next week, but it was beyond worth it. I’m well rested, sleeping better than I have in months, and I’ve had the time to focus on working out and getting healthier. I’ve been faithful with cardio and blogilates, and I’ve seen some definite changes. I’d post the progress pics, but I’m in my undies and a sports bra so I’ll just keep that to myself ;) When I finish the beginner’s calendar I’ll get a pic when I’m fully clothed so I can show off my month’s progress! But, to give you a picture of how much this program has helped me, both with my body and my confidence and overall good feeling inside…

I bought a dress. For the first time in two years. And I’m wearing it today for Easter! I’ll put a picture up of that on instagram sometime today, if you’re interested. (Totally feeling conceited right now but this is a BIG step for me and I’m just so excited!)

The rest of life has been pretty quiet, but it’s been a good quiet. I spent yesterday painting my toes and nails with my sister, sitting outside in the lovely sunshine and breeze. I’ve got sunflowers on my fingers and toes!

Last thing! I found a new album that I’m obsessed with:

Amazon had it for $5 MP3 (that category always sucks me in), and I fell in love with the sound. See Me Smiling is my favorite right now, because it’s like the perfect anthem for one of my main characters in my WIP!

Last last thing (oops). I totally skipped over the schedule that I had made for last week as far as my posting goes, and it worked so well! So rather than that whole “I’m changing it all and sticking to this” mandate I said a few weeks ago, this blog is now foot loose and totally unscheduled! Some weeks I may have three reviews, some weeks just one, and my features will come and go. So while I may set a schedule in these posts, whether or not I stick to them is entirely dependent on what I read and how I feel.

If you missed it, last week I:

What’s coming up this week?

  • Monday – The Writing Life: Camp NaNo Update 3
  • Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday: Characters that Inspire Me
  • Wednesday – Review of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (new favorite!)
  • Thursday - A discussion of some sort… maybe ;)
  • Friday - Most likely a review roundup of all the contemporaries I’ve read in the last few weeks!

Hope you all have a good week!

ARC Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: YA, contemporary, mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte Press, May 13th 2014
How Did I Get It? NetGalley
Format? ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Amazon | Barnes and NobleBook DepositoryGoodreads

The Yacht

Where to begin with this book… Wow. That’s about all I can say! I don’t want to spoil anything, so this is going to be a really vague few paragraphs with some opinions thrown it. We Were Liars totally blew me away. It left me absolutely, completely stunned. Like, jaw on the floor, heart pounding, WTFing the entire way! I’ve never read any of Lockhart’s novels before, and only requested the book on NetGalley because the cover was pretty and I liked how vague the synopsis was, but I would, without a doubt, read more of her work!

Since I’m not going into the plot at all, I did want to put a spotlight on Lockhart’s writing style. It’s this lyrical blend of similes and metaphors and plays on words that create this mystical sort of tone that really lends credibility to the whole mystery of the book. Like, what’s real and what’s imagination? It’s all very blended at times, and it was the perfect way to write out the main character’s thoughts.

Me when I thought I had it all figured out, but really didn’t

Okay, so the plot. I will give zero hints at what happens, but ohmywow please read this book if for the plot alone! It’s politics and romance and tradition and all that upper class drama we love to eat up because it’s so foreign to most of us. So YES I highly recommend based on the plot alone!

That’s really all I have to say about this – I hope it’s enough to convince you that We Were Liars is more than worth your time! Here’s how I can validate this fact: I don’t usually buy physical copies of the eARCs I receive, but I would 100% go out and get a hardback of this book. THAT’S how good it was!

My Final Rating:

Five Anchors

What I Learned from the LA Festival of Books

LA Festival WILA more appropriate title might be: what the LA Festival of Books taught me about festivals and big events in general, but I figured that was too long! Anyway, I just wanted to sum up a few things I learned over the course of two days in LA – both good and bad! Also: keep in mind that even though I live in a city of 50,000 people, I was very much like Dorothy visiting Oz – totally wide-eyed and stunned that the world is even bigger than I had ever imagined! So, without further adieu, let’s start with…

The Bad

This isn’t an “oh the world is horrid and I had some awful moments at the festival” sort of bad – it’s a “shoot son I screwed up and need to remember to prepare myself better next time” sort of bad!

Don’t Leave Any Book at Home

On Saturday, I only brought Fangirl for the Rainbow Rowell signing, thinking “oh I haven’t even read Eleanor & Park anyway, I don’t need it signed.” WRONG! I waited TWO hours in that line – for that I should have gotten both my books signed, having read them or not. The same happened with Tahereh Mafi – I only brought Ignite Me, and not Shatter Me, since I didn’t know if she even had a signing. Well, she did (duh), and I was able to buy a copy of Unravel Me and get the second two books signed, but now my copy of Shatter Me is unsigned. Stupid me!

Sunday was much better after that – I brought every single book (even my Stephanie Perkins ones even though that I wasn’t sure I’d make to her signing. Hint: I did) for all the authors I had even a possibility of meeting. So even though I had nine books to carry all day, it was beyond worth it because all my books were signed!

Sun. Screen.

You would think that, having this ghost skin all my life, I would have learned by now that even fifteen minutes of sun will burn me. But no, I don’t learn. You would think that with my dad’s side of the family being Mexican, I’d tan, but noooooo I take after my mom’s Welsh side instead! Anyway… this is the result of my idiocy – and from wearing a lace shirt that’s thinner in some places than others.

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See those splotches? Yeah, lace apparently doesn’t protect when it’s the really thin stuff

Isn’t that hot? Oh yes, I’m smokin’. No really – I melted the ice packs!

Use a bag that you can sling over your shoulder

Not one that requires you to hold it by hand. I swear my right shoulder is at least an inch lower than my left now – permanently. Books aren’t all that heavy – but put 9 hardbacks together and DAMN that’s hard to carry. My right arm is so sore now! Instead, be smart like the other people I saw: use a bag with a longer strap that you can put on your shoulder and have your entire torso support the weight and not hold in your hand. Or even better! Use a rolling cart, or even a suitcase with wheels.

For the love of all that is holy…

EAT. On Sunday I was so distracted by all the running back and forth and signings I wanted to attend that I barely ate. When I caught up with my mom later, I was shaking so much and didn’t even realize it was because I hadn’t eaten but for a granola bar and small cup of noodles midway through the day. Maybe it works for some people, but for me, who needs to eat every 2-3 hours to feel okay, going twelve hours with about 800 calories really doesn’t do the job.

So the lesson here is: bring lots of water and snacks, and remember to actually EAT THEM.

The Good

Now here’s the fantastic parts of the weekend – the amazing things I’ve learned about the bookish world and people in general!

Authors really aren’t that hard to talk to!

Do not be embarrassed to start a conversation! The easiest thing for me I’ve found is to just start with a hello and a “how are you?” – the rest will follow. Honestly, I’ve started by complimenting an author, and they get the biggest grin on their face and all those awkward walls come tumbling down!

Bookish people are the kindest ever!

Example A: I got lost so many times – like, honestly, what campus is four blocks wide?? It’s madness! Anyway, I never felt weird about walking up to a random person and just saying, “hey, where the heck am I?” And I was always pointed in the right direction with a smile.

Example B: I was in line for the Stephanie Perkins signing, and my earring caught on my shirt. For the life of me, I could not get it undone – my head was cocked to the side and stuck there unless I wanted to rip my shirt or break my earring. So, embarrassing as it was, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “I’m so sorry, but could you please untangle me?” She laughed and helped me out, and we laughed it off, deciding that the lesson here was ‘don’t wear long earrings with lacy tshirts!’

Example C: We’re all stuck in hour long lines, waiting for authors, so most of us – I didn’t ever get any names – just randomly started conversations. And if I heard someone talking about a book I liked, I joined in easily, and the same went for people who jumped into my conversations!.

There is actual diversity in the world!

Where I live, the majority is white and skinny. Which I’m half of. But then, even in that tiny chunk of LA, to see so many different shapes and colors of people – it was incredible. For once in my life I didn’t feel like I stood out or like people were staring at me because I’m not a size 2. There were girls the same shape as me wearing tank tops – and rocking them! I NEVER wear tank tops because I’m so self-conscious of my arms, but honestly seeing so many people looking amazing no matter their size, it really gave me some much needed confidence. So there was definitely some personal growth this weekend as well :)

In the end…

This was an incredible experience, and I’m so blessed to have been able to attend this event! I met amazing people and authors, experienced all new things, and actually did well! No anxiety or attacks either; I know that might not mean much and it was just another weekend for some people, but this was a huge step for me. And to have done so well and handled so much stimulation and newness – I feel like a whole new person!

LA Times Festival of Books: Day Two

LA Festival D2Welcome back to my recap posts about the LA Festival of Books! Day two, Sunday, was definitely the jam-packed day, so get ready for a bunch of pictures! Whereas I had Veronica on Sunday, I was totally alone on Sunday, so it was a bit of a different experience. But it turned out far better than I expected, and I was so sad that it was over!

Day Two

I left earlier, since I had been late the first day, and I didn’t hit any traffic! So I ended up getting to the campus at 8:30 – almost three hours before my first panel started! So I rearranged my schedule a bit, and went to the Mrs. Nelson’s tent (which ended up being my stomping grounds for the entire day), since there was a Marissa Meyer signing at 10:15. I ended up being first in line, sitting on a rock until a few other people joined me at about 9:15. And then – miracle of miracles! – they let me know that Sarah J. Maas would be there at the same time! So after waiting and waiting, the signing started, and I saw both authors!

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I already had Scarlet signed, so I only had to carry Cinder and Cress. Marissa is really sweet, and I LOVE her hair.
photo 3Next was Sarah, and she was actually super fun to talk to! We were laughing at her sunglasses, since she had been placed right where the sun was in her eyes, and of course the glasses were all bent at the nose. I was so excited when I saw the message on The Assassin’s Blade – it’s my favorite quote on my favorite book in the series!

After the signing, I RAN all the way across campus to make it to the Conversation between Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo, and made it just in time for when they were letting people in. I ended up on the second level in the theater, but it wasn’t horrid seating, and I could hear perfectly. And let me just say – those two ladies together is the greatest thing in the world! They were absolutely hilarious, and between answering with serious, thoughtful replies, they were totally goofy and fun. It didn’t even seem like an hour at all. There was an opportunity for a Roth signing, but I didn’t even try since I knew it would be hours and there were so many other panels I wanted to attend.

Sorry for no pictures of their conversation – I was far too high for any quality, and they had said no photography anyway.

After that, I ran to the food truck for lunch, then ate as I walked back (seriously – everything I was going to that day was completely across campus from each other) to the YA stage. But then I remembered that Emery Lord had a signing of her debut novel, Open Road Summer, at 1 at the Mrs. Nelson tent, so I got in line – first again! I had excellent luck at timing, apparently. The lady at Nelson’s was teasing me about it :P

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Love Letters to the Dead was a later signing that day

I just have to say – Emery was an absolute pleasure to meet! She was so easy to talk to, and I didn’t feel nervous like I usually do when meeting authors. We actually got to talking about my reading, and how I’ve just gotten back to YA last year. When I said that contemporary was my least read genre, but I was beyond excited for Open Road Summer, she smiled so wide and said she hoped it would help me dive into the genre even more! I wish I could have talked to her more, but didn’t want to be rude to everyone else in line.

After meeting Emery, I ran over to the Stephanie Perkins signing that had been going on at the same time, and that was probably the longest I waited in an “active” line, since I joined after it had already started. Even so, it was only about half an hour before I met Stephanie! And she was so easy to talk to as well: she loved my hair (eeepp!!!) and we started talking about how hard it is with pixie cuts to get that exact shape that’s perfect for your face.

The sharpies match the covers!!

The sharpies match the covers!!

While I was waiting in line, I missed the first half of the Young Adult Sci-Fi: Fantastical Tales with Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, and Cecil Castellucci, but since I had already met them all one way or another, I wasn’t too worried about it. I caught the last half, but since I was in the way far back I couldn’t hear very well, or get any pictures (sad day!). So it really just ended up being a time for me to sit down and rest my feet and rearrange my bag since all the signings had gotten them all mixed up and upside down.

Once that panel ended, I was able to sneak a seat on the grass underneath the trees for some shade, since the seating was right in the sun and I didn’t feel like burning. After a 30 minute break, wherein I read Cress (holy cow why did I wait so long itssogood!!!) and relaxed some more – there was a lovely breeze that finally came around. And then *drumroll please* the Young Adult Fiction: Told From the Heart panel started!

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Joanna Philbin, Emery Lord, and Stephanie Perkins

Again, sorry the pictures are poor quality, but it was as close as I could get! I loved this panel – it was a perfect mix of talking about swoony boys and all the authors encouraging the audience that A) the romance between friends is important too, and B) boys in reality CAN be as good as boys in books. All the ladies were relaxed and chatty, and it felt like a heart-to-heart between friends more than a panel. Surprisingly one of my favorites of the day!

After that, I went back to Mrs. Nelson’s booth for my last signing: Ava Dellaira, author of Love Letters to the Dead (picture is up above next to Open Road Summer). She had a million sharpie colors to choose from, and of course I picked the dead one! We spent about five minutes trying to find sharpies that worked: I told her that I was just the test run and I was weeding out the weak!

Alas, once I was done at the booth, my day was finished. My cousin picked me up and took me to Santa Monica Boulevard to meet my mom, and we walked around the streets and had dinner together. Well, I should say snack, since we drove home and stopped in Corona for actual dinner at this FANTASTIC Mexican restaurant. Let’s just say we were wishing it was socially acceptable to leave our pants unbuttoned to let room for our food babies…

So that was my weekend! It was way different than I was expecting, but in the best way possible. Veronica and I have dreams of going to BEA next year - hopefully LA prepared me enough for that trip!