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? ūüėÄ
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Sara’s Favorite Reads of 2016, Plus Two Times the Giveaway Fun!

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Since¬†it’s still the first week of 2017, it’s¬†still a good time to look back on the year that was, right? ūüėČ On Tuesday I shared my annual reflection on writing, personal life, the blog, and goals for the new year. Today, it’s time to share my list of favorite reads of 2016!

Last year I split my year-end list into two posts: brand new books, and previously published books. But this year, I decided to “condense” and put it all in a single post.¬†So, which books ended up as¬†my favorite reads of 2016? You’ll find a few hints if you look closely at the banner¬†image. Otherwise, let’s head on in and see the full list – and maybe a chance for you to win one of the honored books!

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Field Trip: Writer’s Digest Conference 2016

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Now that all of the late-summer¬†busyness¬†has passed, I finally have some time to tell you about this year’s Writer’s Digest Conference! And what an amazing four days it was. In fact, I think¬†it topped the 2015 edition!

With this post, I’ll give a general overview of WDC 2016, including¬†which sessions I enjoyed most and what I learned. Last year I¬†did a trio of posts for DIY MFA;¬†and while I would have liked to have covered the conference¬†for the site¬†again this year, it wasn’t possible with my friend’s wedding 2 weeks later. The good thing is,¬†waiting to do this post has given me time to digest (no pun intended) everything I absorbed that weekend and feel grateful for continuing to invest¬†in my writing career.
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Recent Reads: July 2016 (+ How I’m Doing With My 2016 Reading Plan)

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Recent Reads is a monthly reading wrap-up, with mini-reviews of the books I read. I’ll also share what I’m currently reading and any¬†other books that are in the pipeline. Feel free¬†to share your¬†bookish happenings in the Comments section!

Last month¬†I took a good look at my reading plan for 2016, which I shared back in January. While I’m doing well in some categories, others might have to roll over into 2017. But that’s OK. I’m just pleased with how many books¬†I’ve read so¬†far this year (36 in total). In fact, I’m on pace to read more books in 2016 than I did in 2015!

So, for this month’s Recent Reads, I’ll share my progress with this year’s reading plan. And of course, I’ve got book reviews! Let’s start with my pick for Read of the Month, which is…
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Time Flies!: July 2016

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies!¬†It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap¬†the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share¬†news and¬†random things from my offline life, and hint at¬†what may be coming in the month ahead.

Ahhhhh. What a lovely month this has been. I sort of feel sad that July is almost over, because it’s the most relaxed I’ve been all year. (With the exception of a flat tire earlier this week. :/ ) So I want to savor that feeling a little longer.

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August is going to be super-busy, though. The Writer’s Digest Conference is in 2 weeks, and Doctor Friend’s wedding (the one where I’ll be a bridesmaid) is 3 weeks later. My head spins just thinking about those events… But I think I have almost ¬†everything I need for both, so I’m not too stressed out. Well, not yet, anyway.

Ifyou’re wondering, I don’t anticipate taking a blogging¬†hiatus next month. However, it may take me longer than usual to respond to comments, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me right away.

Now, let’s get to this month’s recap!

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5 on the 5th: Five Reasons Why BBC America’s “Orphan Black” Is Awesome

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On the fifth day of each month, 5 on the 5th shares five of something that I like or recommend to readers. Whether it‚Äôs five items that share a common theme, or five reasons why I like the topic at hand, this monthly meme gives us¬†an opportunity to talk about¬†other subjects that¬†aren’t normally discussed here at the blog.¬†

I know last month’s 5 on the 5th was also TV-oriented… But¬†Game of Thrones¬†isn’t the only awesome show that’s back for a new season.¬†Orphan Black¬†launched its fourth season on April 14th on BBC America; and though I’ve mentioned it before at¬†the blog, it’s time to dedicate a post to¬†this crazy-fantastic series. ūüėÄ

And¬†what’s the best way to do that if many readers aren’t familiar with Orphan Black? To give you five reasons to start watching it!

NOTE: This following post contains limited spoilers from Seasons 1 through 3 of Orphan Black.

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Interview with Emily Skrutskie, Author of “The Abyss Surrounds Us”

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Sometimes a book takes you out of your comfort zone and¬†surprises you. That was the case with Emily Skrutskie’s debut novel¬†The Abyss Surrounds Us.¬†Sure, it had been on my radar thanks to the science fiction and fantasy book¬†blogs I follow, but I read less YA science fiction than YA fantasy.¬†Yet when¬†I dove into Skrutskie’s futuristic world of pirates, genetically engineered sea monsters, and the people who train the beasts, I came away from each chapter thinking, “That. Was. SO. COOL!” (You can read my review of¬†The Abyss Surrounds Us¬†here.)

Today I’m excited to have Emily here to talk about¬†The Abyss Surrounds Us. How did she come up with her awesome Reckoners? Why was her route to publication different than other authors who are traditionally published? And, would Emily want to be a Reckoner trainer like her protagonist Cas? Let’s find out!

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Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 25: March 2016 Haul, Part 2

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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.

In last week’s Stacking The Shelves, I’d mentioned that I’d expected to do only one STS entry this month. Then, after the fairy novels and new releases had arrived in the mail, I spent a Saturday on Cape Cod to see the house my parents are renovating and do some birthday shopping for a friend. And during said shopping, I bought more books, even though I’d told myself not to. (*face turns strawberry red*)

So, here’s Batch #2, the books I bought at the¬†Market Street Bookshop¬†in Mashpee, MA, along with a couple extras. Make sure you stop at MSB¬†if you visit Mashpee Commons. Their selection is fantastic (especially in science fiction and fantasy, both adult and YA), and the staff is extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and well-read. ūüôā

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Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 24: March 2016 Haul, Part 1

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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.

This is getting¬†embarrassing – to the point where, apart from new releases, I might have to institute a temporary “book-buying” ban. (*blushes*) Not to mention this was going to be one installment of Stacking The Shelves. Next week I’ll explain¬†why I split it in two.

For now, here’s Batch #1, a mix¬†of¬†2016 books with the latest additions to my ongoing “market research” project on fairy novels. Let’s have a look:

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Recent Reads: February 2016

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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, February was an… interesting month of reading. It was super-productive (I finished six books – wow!); but out of those¬†six, I enjoyed two, thought two more were OK,¬†and was too disappointed by the other¬†two to review them. :/ But when you do “market research” projects on certain kinds of novels, you’re bound to read stories that don’t appeal to you as much.

Thankfully the month ended on an upswing, because my Read of the Month was the most recent book I finished. You’ll find out which one it is¬†shortly!

Also, a good chunk of the following books (minus the Read of the Month) focused on romance. Coincidence? Hmmmm….
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