Wednesday, January 11, 2017

YALLFest 2016 Experience

Hey guys!

So once again I took a trip to Charleston in November for my second YALLFest Experience! It was just as beautiful and friendly and exciting as last year. While there weren’t as many authors that I was dying to meet as last time, I was still so excited to meet some of my favorites!

For tips and tricks that I compiled last year, you can reference my 2015 post!

This year, I unfortunately attended alone, but the atmosphere is so nice and conversational, that making friends with strangers in lines is the easiest thing in the world. If nothing else, you know you have books in common with them! It definitely helps pass the time in the long lines!

This year, just like last I decided to forgo the panels to fully experience the signing lines and see the most authors. I scheduled out my order of authors and brought snacks and packed my backpack full of books. I knew who I could skip in case of unexpectedly long lines and who I absolutely had to see.

So here are my pictures from YALLFest!! (Sorry for the awkward lean pose, you gotta make do with what you get in the moment, haha!)


Sarah Dessen and I

First up, I got to meet Sarah Dessen! I was getting books signed for a friend by her, I actually haven’t read anything she’s written (I know…), but she is the nicest person. I later bought some of her books, and plan to read them soon!

 

 

Nicola Yoon and IEverything, Everything signedNicola Yoon and I

Next I met Nicola Yoon! I had read Everything, Everything in the week leading up to YALLFest based off of rave reviews and the excitement of getting to meet her! It’s an amazing book, and she is a beautiful person. So friendly and hilarious. Definitely plan on reading The Sun is Also a Star soon!

 

 

Scott Westerfeld and I Scott Westerfeld and I

Behemoth signedGoliath signed

So I finally got to meet Scott Westerfeld this time, and he is very kind. Such a nice guy! I love his books and loved being able to tell him how much. And now I have all three of my Leviathan books signed!

 

 

Pandemonium signedLauren Oliver and IBefore I Fall signed

Lauren Oliver has been a favorite of mine for years now! While I have been bad about reading her more recent books, the Delirium Series is wonderful and Before I Fall holds a special place as one of the first Contemporary YA I ever read. Lauren talked to me about the upcoming Before I Fall movie and how excited she is. The trailer was released a couple days after YALLFest, and it does look amazing!

 

 

Jennifer E. Smith and I

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Next I got to meet the master of fun Contemporary Romance, Jennifer E. Smith! She is the absolute sweetest, and I loved getting to say hey to her in person.

 

 

Between Shades of Gray signedRuta Sepetys and IOut of the Easy signedSalt to the Sea signed

The person I was most excited to meet was Ruta Sepetys. I have been an absolute fan of hers since reading Between Shades of Gray and have read each of her books since then. I love them all so much and recommend them to everyone who loves Historical Fiction, or who wants to love Historical Fiction. I have reviewed all of them on this blog. Her writing is phenomenal. In person, she is just as lovely and amazing as I thought she would be. I adored being able to tell her how much I love her books and how excited I was to meet her. She is the best.

 


All in all, I got these books signed:

All the books

And it was all amazing!! Definitely going back this year for YALLFest 2017!

Thanks to all the friendly people I talked to in line for making the day all the more fun and exciting!

All right everyone! I’m really going to try and actually blog and read more this year! New Year’s Resolutions! Woo hoo!

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: Salt to the Sea


Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published: 2016 by Philomel Books
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.


First Sentences
:
Guilt is a hunter. My conscience mocked me, picking fights like a petulant child.”


Ruta has done it again. Every time I read one of her books, I am emotionally transported into a breathtaking story that breaks my heart and opens my eyes. I’m not trying to sound dramatic either. From Between Shades of Gray, with its tragic truth that many do not realize about WWII, to Out of the Easy, with its tale of redemption and ambition in a seemingly dead-end life, Ruta always manages to scare me into reality, but remind me of the joy, hope, and love there is in life, no matter the circumstances.

Therefore, I knew going into Salt to the Sea that I would adore it, and I did. This review will in no way, shape, or form do any good at describing how wonderful of a book this is. Therefore, take my words of advice and the knowledge that I have decent taste in books, and go find yourself a copy!

This is the story of four teenagers who end up on the same path in life, heading towards assumed salvation from the Soviets during WWII. Many refugees are fleeing through the Nazi-controlled countryside near the end of WWII, attempting to get to the coast and freedom from the Soviets. Several large ships are waiting to take the refugees to safety. The story is told from all four perspectives, which at first I thought would be highly annoying. However, the chapters are short and it cycles from one point of view to the next quickly enough so that you never get too used to one person. Each of the four main characters have mysterious pasts that are slowly revealed throughout the novel. They are all running from something and towards something better, at least in their minds. The story takes them from their beginning journeys all the way to the tragedy on the ship. I do not want to say much about the plot, because that will take away from the excitement of seeing the story play out.

Going into this story, I had no idea about this disaster during the war. I did a little bit of research afterwards to know more about it, and it is truly the worst. I cannot believe the biggest boat disaster I knew about was the Titanic. Maybe because this happened during wartime, it is more overlooked. Anyways, I would recommend not looking up too much about the event before reading the book, just so the story is still a bit of a surprise.

I absolutely loved how Ruta introduces the reader to each character throughout the book. With the changing perspectives, first person narratives, and interwoven stories, each spoke into each other’s lives and interacted together to create beautiful growth of character. I felt like I knew each of them as well as they wanted me to know them, and that I learned much from their stories. I love how in each book of hers, Ruta does not shy away from the harsh realities of life, but shows how those hard moments can still have glimmers of truth and victory.

I will never stop reading what Ruta Sepetys writes because she has yet to write a book that does not deeply draw me in and teach me about history and life. She writes with such talent and beauty, that you soak up every word on the page as you read, and that is the mark of a good writer and a good storyteller.



Content Warnings: Nothing to worry about except maybe mild language.

Rating:

5 Pigs

 

SIDE NOTE:
I am going to YALLFest in November in Charleston, SC, and I am SO EXCITED because Ruta Sepetys is going to be there, and I am going to get to meet her!! (Unless something crazy happens!)
Look for an upcoming YALLFest post in a few weeks!!

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: Me Before You



Title:
Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #1
Published: 2012 by Penguin Books
Version: Paperback
Obtained: Purchased

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

First Sentence:
”There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.”


All right, so here I am, absent from blogging for so long, only to make a comeback beginning with the currently most popular book-to-movie adaptation. I know, I know, I am so predictable. However, I did genuinely love this book. It is worth all of the hype and all of the “feels.” Remember when The Fault in Our Stars came out and everyone was talking about how it explored cancer from a different perspective, with a different voice, and was new in the world of “cancer books”? This is sort of how I feel about Me Before You (only it’s better). While Me Before You doesn’t deal with cancer, it does take the sappy “injured person and healthy person romance” to a different level. Let me begin.

I will TRY my hardest to not spoil anything! It won’t be perfect, so if you are really worried, go read the book instead!

This novel is essentially a story about one man’s attempt to take control of his life after a debilitating accident, and also a story about one woman’s attempt to find purpose, joy, and meaning in her life. Thankfully, these accounts are really just one story about their relationship. We first see Louisa (or Lou) as she is getting let go from a job she loved. She has a bit of a crazy family, a steady boyfriend, and a unique sense of style. While job hunting, she comes across the opportunity to be a caregiver to a disabled man. SURPRISE! The disabled man is Will Traynor who is younger and more attractive than she expected, but also more mean and bitter. A bit of information is leaked to her that causes her to begin project Improve Will’s Life Now (my title of it). Through mishaps, deep conversations, and quality time, they begin to form a strong relationship. However, as you might have guessed from all the people crying after reading this book (I actually did not), the ending is unique, and quite emotional.

Now maybe this is my lack of experience in the Disabled Hero Fiction section of literature, but I thought the points brought up in the book were very real and very conflicting. As I read, I had to assess what I thought was right, but then also what I thought was good for the characters, which was not always the same thing. I love when a book makes me think about an actual issue and come to terms with my opinions on it. When an ethical dilemma doesn’t actually concern you or your family or friends, it is easy to just not dwell on it for long. However, it becomes different when you are invested in the characters and you feel like you know them enough to get involved in what affects them. I was concerned about so many things as I read, and the issues were realistic, so those concerns translated over into real life concerns for disabled people. If there is one crowning jewel on this book for becoming so mainstream, it is that it really tries to show how life is for a disabled person, and how those close are affected.

Another great aspect of this book was the overall message that Will wants Lou to really get. LIVE. He just wants her to get out of her bubble of a town and go see the world, experience things, and boldly live her life. She is already unique and decently confident on the outside, but the mental and emotional development of her character throughout the book is wonderful. Both Will and Lou overcome some of their burdens and struggles with the help of the other. Any book with the message of LIVE BOLDLY is one that I will support. Obviously, live boldly with a healthy dose of realistic caution is my caveat.

Bookish related aspects, I think the characters were very well done. I got connected to each one of them, and felt like they were all very multidimensional, even if some were static for plot reasons. Lou’s dedication to bringing in money to support her family was very sweet. She had many great qualities. The setting was this little town in England with a castle that is a tourist destination in the summer months. The small scale setting helped establish the overall feel that Lou needed to see more than just this town. It also contributed to understanding how Will felt so trapped being back there. The pacing of the book was pretty solid. At times in the beginning it moved slowly, but all the character-building and story background in the beginning added up to a better book in the end.

Over all, I really enjoyed reading Me Before You! Going in, I thought it would be just another tear-jerker love story, and I was not particularly pumped. However, I love the points it makes, the fun characters, the English charm, and the beautiful story of two people finding solace in each other. It is worth the potential tears to read this! (Also you still have some time before the movie comes out this weekend!)
There is also a sequel out, which I have not read yet, but I am sure it is wonderful too!

Go read it!


Content Warning: Some strong language and brief, PG-13 sex

Rating:

5 Pigs

 

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

YALLFest 2015 Experience

 

Hey everyone! I know it has literally been forever since I last blogged, but I thought I would try to get back into it!

Something that sparked my determination to go back into blogging was going to YALLFest 2015 this year in Charleston, SC. I don’t know how I have been ignorant of its existence prior to this year (especially since I live in South Carolina)!

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It was SUCH a great experience! Everyone should go next year!

There were an insane number of authors there! 63 to be exact. So many that I really had to narrow down my choices, which was difficult. I went with my friend Jessica, and we decided to forgo the panels in order to see all the authors we wanted to see. I think what I have figured out just from going this once is that you should do either panels or author signings. The lines for the different authors can be really crazy long, and so it is easier to jump from one to the next (sometimes ahead or behind schedule) to get a chance to get your book signed. We also decided that our interests were more in meeting the authors and getting books signed than sitting through panels (although many looked very interesting).

So first, let me tell you what I did, and then I will try to dispense any tips I can think of for next year!

First off, we arrived in Charleston too late to take part in the signings that happen on Friday afternoon. Thankfully our favorite authors were all signing on Saturday too.

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We are so pumped to take on our busy day of being awkward in front of authors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our first signing of the day was Rae Carson! She was amazing (in her Hogwarts shirt) and so nice. I was able to get all three of the Girl of Fire and Thorns books signed. This book series is incredibly awesome, if you haven’t read it….go read it now.

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We thought we were doing excellent on time when we got finished with Rae Carson’s line early, but then we realized that Marissa Meyer’s line was already over 200 people long. I decided I had to go for it anyways, since I am in love with the Cinder series. Jessica decided to go and see Scott Westerfeld and take my books of his along with her (she’s the best!).

So while sadly I missed meeting Scott Westerfeld, I did get my books signed by him. Hopefully one day I can meet him!
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After waiting 2 hours and 30 minutes, I was one of the last 40 or so people rushed through the line to get signed by Marissa Meyer quickly before she had to leave. I’m very glad I got a chance to meet her (so sweet) and see her lovely signature on three of my books. I love this series so, so much, and I am so glad I got to meet the genius behind it all!
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I was just in time to meet up with Jessica in line for Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), the man of the hour. The fact that I met him is still astounding to me. He was exactly like I expected him to be: weird, hilarious, and loud. He made jokes with me about the old copy I brought, heartache, and receipts. Such a great guy and wonderful author.


 


 

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Right after that, we headed over to another area, where Libba Bray and Elizabeth Wein were signing. Thankfully I got a chance to meet them both.

Elizabeth Wein is so cool. I loved talking to her about her book Code Name Verity and how all the technical descriptions came to be. She clearly loves airplanes, and I love how she is able to combine that love with her love for writing. Great, great lady. So glad I met her.
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I forgot my book at home somehow, so she was gracious enough to sign a sticker for me to place in it when I got home.

 

 



 

Next up was the incomparable Libba Bray! This lady is so awesome. Not only has she written so many great books, but she is so unique and hilarious. I loved getting to meet her! She also took a good amount of time with each person in line, which was really special.
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Next I got to meet the wonderfully quirky Gail Carriger! I love how she perfectly embodies what she writes. She is so friendly and I loved being able to express my adoration for her books. So many great novels!
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Finally, Jessica and I got to meet E. Lockhart! She was super cool! I love so many of her books, so it was great to meet her and get my copy of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks signed.
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All in all, I got 15 books signed and met 7 of my favorite authors! It was such a great and crazy day!2015-11-25-22.09.33_thumb4

Okay! So for my YALLFest Tips!

- YALLFest Tips and Tricks:

  1. If you are confident enough to sport it, go for rolling luggage to carry your books around. If you are like me and have about 18 books with you all day, a backpack is going to start to KILL. I had to set it down so often, and I thought my shoulders would never be the same.
  2. Schedule! Scheduling out our day was the best decision. We didn’t have to sit around thinking about who to go see because we already knew exactly what we were doing.
  3. Be flexible! I know this goes against the above tip, but you also need to be ready to change things. Like when Marissa Meyer’s line was crazy long, Jessica decided to go see Scott Westerfeld because she knew we couldn’t both do both.
  4. Have a buddy. Whether this be a mom or a friend, having other people to get to some other lines can really help. I saw so many mothers standing in lines while their kids were in other lines. This can really help you get some signatures that you want. Splitting up is wise with the limited time and spread out signing tents. We also had some great friends along who helped save us spots in some lines, and then they would go off and do something else.
  5. Be friendly! Those in line beside you for hours can really be great people to talk to. I meet some people around me in Marissa Meyer’s line that were so kind and sweet and really helped the 2+ hours pass quickly.
  6. Parking is expensive, expect that and deal with it, haha!
  7. Wear good shoes that you can stand in for hours.
  8. Know your way around the map! The tents are set up in different (but nearby locations), and you might have to walk back and forth throughout the day (and quickly).
  9. Use the volunteers and the knowledge they possess.
  10. Carry food and water with you to have in line (in case you are like us and did not have time to eat lunch). Eat a hearty breakfast before coming, so you won’t get as hungry!
  11. Be okay with being awkward. Everyone is awkward, including some authors, so just relax and know you aren’t the only one saying dumb stuff.
  12. Take plenty of pictures!
  13. If you want to eat at one of the great Charleston restaurants for dinner, you might want to make a reservation ahead of time.
    1. Get all the free stuff you can.
    2. Get to a signing line earlier than time stated, if possible.
    3. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses!
    4. Bring money to buy already signed books from the authors you didn’t get to see (if you want!)
    5. Bring pain medication for headaches or muscle aches during the day.
    6. Basically be okay with carrying around a buttload of stuff for the whole day, haha!

    YALLFest was SO FUN. I am incredibly glad I went this year, and I hope you all were helped by my tips and tricks! I was in the dark mostly before I went, so maybe we both can be more clued in next year.

    Go to yallfest.org for more information on the 2015 festival, and as we get closer to 2016 festival, new information will go up!

    Bring it on, YALLFest 2016!

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