The 2017 Blogoversary, Part 1: Ten Unique Reads I Highly Recommend + Giveaway

This Sunday, July 9th marks my eighth blogoversary! And based on the results of this recent poll, this year’s celebration is going to be… giveaways! (Many thanks to everyone who voted, btw!) This is perfect, because blogoversaries aren’t just a time of virtual cake, confetti, and fireworks. They’re also a great opportunity to thank readers for their friendship and support, no matter how long they’ve been following you. So, consider this week’s and next week’s posts my gift to you guys. (*bows in gratitude*)

For this first giveaway, I wanted to do something bookish, but something different from the usual “favorite reads or authors of all time” theme. Then I read these recent Top 10 Tuesday posts by Sarah J. Higbee and The Bibliosanctum, and a lightbulb turned on. So, here are Ten Unique Reads I Highly Recommend, along with links to my reviews at Goodreads. At the end you’ll find a Rafflecopter link and instructions for how the giveaway will work. Sounds like a plan, yes? 😀
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Favorite Reads of 2015, Part 2: Books Published in 2015 + Reading Statistics

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On Tuesday I shared my 10 favorite non-2015 books I read last year. Today, I share the other Top 10 list: the one for my favorite new books of 2015! 🙂

Like Tuesday’s list, this one will go in ascending order (suspense is the key, remember? *winks*) and will feature a brief explanation of why I included it on this list, as well as links to each review. I’ll also post my reading statistics for 2015, including how many books I read, which genres I read most, and a few random yet interesting bits I discovered along the way. Shall we begin?

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Recent Reads: December 2015

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Recent Reads is a monthly reading wrap-up, with mini-reviews of all the books I finished in the past month. I’ll also share what I’m currently reading and any other books that are in the pipeline. Want to share your bookish happenings, too? Feel free to do so in the Comments section at the end!

Well, I can’t post my 2015 favorite books lists without sharing what I read in December, can I? 😉 I managed to squeeze in four books in December and have decided to review three of them. And beware – there’s all kinds of magical, mechanical, and speculative fiction goodness to follow, starting with my Read of the Month!
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Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 20: Cheers for Bookmail!

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Stacking The Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that shares the books (both physical and virtual) that you recently purchased, borrowed from a fellow reader or the library, won from a giveaway, or received as gifts. Stacking The Shelves will post on Saturdays as new books are added to my shelves.

After some big hauls from Writer’s Digest Conference and the Boston Teen Author Festival, and with Christmas not too far away, I haven’t felt the need to buy books lately.  But thanks to two giveaway wins, a pre-order, and a book I’ve been so eager to read that I needed it ASAP, I’ve got some new goodies to share with you! And really, what book lover doesn’t love bookmail? 🙂

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Recent Reads: June 2015

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Welcome to the revamped Recent Reads! As previously mentioned here, I’ve switched to a new book review format to accommodate a change in blogging priorities. Recent Reads will now be a retrospective of the books read over the past month, and will consist of multiple, shorter reviews. Now that I’m reading faster that I used to, I’m hoping this will be a more “economical” way of sharing bookish thoughts. So, in addition to any comments on the individual books, let me know what you think of the new format in the Comments section at the end.

So, onto the books I read last month!

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Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 12: Long Ago and Far Away…

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Stacking The Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that shares the books (both physical and virtual) that you recently purchased, borrowed from a fellow reader or the library, won from a giveaway, or received as gifts. Stacking The Shelves will post on Saturdays as new books are added to my shelves.

All of the books in today’s stack have one thing in common: They take place in times or places very different from my own (and perhaps yours, too). It’s a mix of fantasy, science fiction, romance, and exotic cultures. Murder, mystery, magic, and family. Freedom, power, secrets, and friendship. Intrigued? Then what are you waiting for? 😉

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My Nominations for The Writing Hufflepuff’s 2015 Book Awards

 

Writing Hufflepuff Book Awards

Fellow writer and blogger Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff is holding a special Book Awards contest. I don’t know if this is something she does annually or if it’s brand new, but I thought I’d join in and share my picks for as many categories as possible.

Normally I’d share the rules and encourage other bloggers to participate. But considering tomorrow (Sunday, March 29th, 2015) is the deadline for nominations and I’m squeaking these in at the last minute…. Oops? *blushes*

Anyways, here are my nominations for The Writing Hufflepuff’s 2015 Book Awards:

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Waiting On Wednesday, Vol. 5: “Defiant” by Karina Sumner-Smith

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming book releases that I’m looking forward to. My WOW postings won’t be weekly, but they’ll come on Wednesdays when my blogging schedule is open and when I add a yet-to-be-published book to my wishlist. 

These Waiting on Wednesday posts are going to come “furiously” over the next few weeks, since a number of 2015 releases I’m looking forward to are coming out this spring. 😉

This Wednesday, I’m waiting on Defiant, the second installment in Karina Sumner-Smith‘s Tower Trilogy. The first book (and Sumner-Smith’s debut) Radiant was one of my favorite reads of 2014. Mostly because of the world that Sumner-Smith has created: It’s a fantastic mix of futuristic / dystopian science fiction with magic, ghosts, and night-walkers – all things I’ve never seen together in one book yet make complete sense here. Plus, I really enjoyed the friendship that developed between Xhea and Shai. So I’m excited to see how the world expands (or rather, starts crumbling to pieces) as Xhea learns more about her magic and the powers that be start coming after the heroines again. This series is worth checking out if genre-bending speculative fiction sparks your interest.

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Defiant (Towers Trilogy, Book #2)
Karina Sumner-Smith
Fantasy / Science Fiction / Dystopian
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Goodreads

Synopsis:

Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side—but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds. Rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize—nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war—or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn’t destroy them first.

What book(s) are you waiting on this Wednesday? Are you also looking forward to Defiant?

New at DIY MFA Today: A Case Study on Trust as a Literary Theme

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Trust is an essential building block in relationships of all kinds. However, for some people and in certain situations, trust isn’t won or earned easily.  Today’s Theme: A Story’s Soul article at DIY MFA examines how trust is explored as a literary theme, using two very different novels (Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins and Karina Sumner-Smith’s Radiant) as examples and discovering techniques from both stories that develop this theme. Click here to read “A Case Study on Trust as a Literary Theme.”

Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #AStorysSoul.

My 10 Favorite Reads of 2014

It’s here finally: the list of my 10 favorite books I read in 2014! I held off on posting this as long as I could, thanks to a last-minute contender I flew through just before year’s end. Now I feel confident about which books made the final cut – and to be honest, my pick for #1 was a super-easy choice. 😉

With one exception, each entry contains a link to my full review and an excerpt from said review that best explains why I enjoyed the book. I was going to write a new paragraph for each entry, but then I realized I didn’t have anything new to add apart from what I had already said before. So, why repeat myself?

One important note: This list contains books I read this year, regardless of the year they were originally published. I didn’t read enough novels that were published this year to create a Top 10 solely of 2014 releases.

So, here they are, starting with…  Continue reading