Dear #otspsecretsister

Hello!

I got your March package today and I just want to say THANK YOU! It is so thoughtful, I was just thinking that I need a meal planner! I don’t know anything about either of the books, except what I read on the back today, so I am very intrigued. And elephants on the card? Your good. LOL

Needless to say you are doing a fantastic job at being a secret sister for the first time, A+! I JUST finished Fangirl by the way, I know I said I wouldn’t have time till April but it sort of snuck up on me. I listened to it and read it at the same time, on and off and so I finished it FAST. It was such a good book. I think I will do a review in the near future and as of right now it will be getting 5 stars. There was very little I didn’t like about it. I thought the whole “I like you here and here and here…” stuff was weird and I think it was supposed to be cute but that is such a tiny part of a brilliant story. Also not a huge Kanye West fan so I just pretend it was anyone else Cath was listening to. I could really relate to Cath but funnily enough I have been Wren at a few times in my life as well. It was really neat to read about two people with different struggles and yet I feel like I could relate to both. Also ironic is that this book is on MY secret sisters list so I am going to get her a copy and page mark all my favourite parts! I am going to buddy read The Love That Split The World at the beginning of April and I hope I love it too.

March was tough but this are taking a change for the better. I am feeling more confident and sure of things. I also have set aside one night a week to pamper myself; I pour a bath and soak with a good book then enjoy a nice desert and some tea. I had two interviews for a job I think would be good for me, the second was today and I think it went well! I also bought my ticket to Yallwest! I am so excited about it, it will be my first author event EVER and I will be meeting up with two of my best bookish friends. It will be super hard to leave my son though! Hopefully I can enjoy it and don’t take the first fight home. I’m trying to remember I will get three nights of uninterrupted sleep. Which is akin to winning the lottery right now!

What new in your world? I don’t know where you live but the West Coast is having lovely weather. Lots of sunny days for walks. I have so many questions I want to ask you but I’m afraid it will feel like an interview or an interrogation! What is your favourite genre and book (or books because who can pick just one?) How long have you been blogging? Have you ever been to an author event? Whats your favourite thing to eat or drink while you read? Do you have any hobbies other than reading? What are the top 5 books you have read this year? (Doesn’t have to be a 2016 release) Do you have any kids? Pets? I’m sorry I can’t help it I have always been a curious person!

I think that is all for now. I have a cold so I am not thinking very clearly, I can’t remember if there was anything else I wanted to say or ask but I will write again soon.

Hope this finds you well,

Your secret sister

Review: The Abyss Surround Us by Emily Skrutskie

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: February 8th 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy, Science Fiction
Source: Pre-ordered copy from Book Depository
Link to the authorhttp://skrutskie.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

Rating: 5 Reckoners out of 5

Cover Rating: 3 Thumbs Up24790901.jpg
I loved the Reckoner and the font but disliked the girl

Buzz Words:
Sea Monsters, Pirate Queen, Pirates, Genetically-Engineered

Favourite Quote:
“I don’t just raise monsters, I am one” – Cas

My thoughts:

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and I am so glad I pre-ordered it. I loved this book from beginning to end; at which point I had to ask the author immediately if there was going to be a second book. So yes, it does have an epic ending, but also yes there is a second book in the works! I read this one FAST, I didn’t want to put it down, it was such a fresh idea and there was action on every page. I really don’t know how to describe this book, it is set in the future but it is kind of like the wild west but with ships and sea monsters. The main character Cas was likeable and she grew a lot throughout the story. She faced a LOT of inner and outer conflict and often had to ask herself if her actions were right or wrong. I really enjoy when characters are forced to step outside their comfort zone and explore that grey area. I really applaud the author for the research she must have done. This story had just the right amount of information backing it up, not so much that I was bored or it felt above my head but enough that it all felt very plausible. Also this book has sea monsters. Really I could just end the review there because I mean have you ever read a book about raising sea monsters? This book really has it all, including a great love interest (no triangles here!) and EPIC SEA BATTLES. I really don’t want to spoil too much for you guys because you need to experience it for yourself. I will tell you that I laughed, cheered, and held my breath while reading this book. I always fall in love with a book that evokes so much emotion from me. I also didn’t always like the main character, and I kind of liked that. It just feels so much more real when a character isn’t perfect. This story was really about finding yourself and discovering what you’re really made of. There just aren’t words to adequately encompass my experience while reading this book. To try to describe what its like would be, Dredd meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets Pokemon meets Godzilla. Like I said, indescribable. I’m counting down the days till book 2. This is a 2016 release NOT TO BE MISSED!

What I liked:

The concept – I mean she trains sea monsters! Also, the constant action and the inner conflict the main character faces.

What I disliked:

I loved the characters but didn’t really relate to them

Would Recommend To:

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci-fi, action, kick butt female characters and the grey areas of right and wrong.

An Interview with Owlcrate

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Korrina from Owlcrate, to get a bit of a behind the scenes glimpse into the her life.
She was kind enough to find time in her busy schedule and even left me with a coupon code to share with you all to receive 10% off your first order!

I have always wondered, what inspired you to start Owlcrate?
Korrina: Robert and I have both wanted to start our own business for many years but nothing ever felt quite right. We spent a lot of 2014 daydreaming about business, reading a lot of great business books, and listening to inspiring podcasts. In November of 2014, we decided we really needed to put something into action so we took a week off from our retail jobs to hash out ideas.

Where did you come up with the idea for a YA book themed box?
Korrina: We had begun to hear about subscription boxes, and had subscribed to a couple ourselves, and thought that it was a really fun business model. We also share a huge passion for books and reading, so it came naturally to combine the two together! I was already an active member in the YA community, so that’s the demographic we wanted to reach.

Can you tell us a little about the process it took from idea to fruition?
Korrina: Honestly, everything happened really fast. We spent the entire week brainstorming the concept of the business and what we wanted to accomplish. We decided we wanted to launch in February of 2015, and we just worked on building the website, the box, and sourcing fun items for our first few boxes.

What was the hardest part?
Korrina: The hardest part was just finding a way to balance everything. We were still working full-time at our other jobs, working on OwlCrate in the evenings and on our days off, and taking a week off every month to pack and ship all of the boxes.

Wow! That’s a lot of work and dedication, were you ever discouraged?
Korrina: We’ve been extremely lucky in that our subscribers and fans are so incredibly supportive of us, and have been from the very beginning. We’ve found that whenever something discouraging arises, we can communicate that to our followers and their support gets us through whatever is going on.

Each crate is amazing, seems like you must have an army of Owlcrate recruits, how many are on your team?
Korrina: It’s currently still just the two of us handling everything. We’ve had to hire a team of incredible people to help pack our boxes each month, but all other aspects of OwlCrate are handled by Robert and I. We will need to hire someone to help out soon though.

That’s impressive! Any words of wisdom/advice for other bookish entrepreneurs?
Korrina: Just start something. No matter what it is, just begin. We held off on our dreams for so many years because we felt like it had to be perfect before launching it. But we fully believe in launching something, and tweaking it as you go. So many people spend too much time worrying and never actually begin.

That is some really good advice, there never really is a ‘perfect’ time. This is a bit of a ‘chicken or the egg’ questions but.. What comes first for each crate, the book or the theme?
Korrina: The book always comes first. I spend a lot of time reading advanced copies of books, and when one really stands out to me, I then think of a theme that book could fit within. Then all of the goodies come next!

It sounds like a lot of fun, and work, to put together. Is there a crate that has been your favourite to curate?
Korrina: This is very tricky! Each crate has required so much energy and hard work, and I love them all. We were particularly proud of our Diversity box though. Being able to show our support of diverse books means a lot to us. And then to have the shipping of the box coincide with the USA making gay marriage legal across the country…it was just a really beautiful coincidence, and we’re happy we were all able to celebrate that together.

I didn’t know that! That is a pretty cool coincidence. What is it like working with authors and creators/artists?
Korrina: Honestly, it’s incredible! It’s one of my absolute favourite parts of the business. Supporting small business has always been important to me, and the fact that I can now do that on such a large-scale is amazing. It’s been a real blessing getting to know the authors, the publishing companies, and all of the businesses/artists we work with.

Congratulations on your first year Owlcrate anniversary! Looking back, what is one thing you wish you knew before you started? / What is one thing you would go back and tell past you?
Korrina: We’ve had an incredibly lucky and successful year, so we wouldn’t want to change anything about OwlCrate’s journey. I guess one thing we’d probably want to tell our past selves is to not be so afraid. To follow our guts and trust that things will work out.

I would say it has been a huge success; subscribers are always so excited to receive their boxes, so much so that I have to avoid social media before I receive mine so the surprise isnt spoiled!
Do you have plans to expand in the future?

Korrina: Yes, we are working on a few top-secret projects that we can’t wait to unleash on the world! We can’t say much more than that at this point, but exciting things are coming!

Really?! That is so exciting, I can’t wait to see what you guys do next!
I think subscribers would love to know a little bit more about the girl behind Owlcrate, I know I do.
What book got you into reading?

Korrina: I can vividly remember receiving a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ from my Grandmother when I was nine years old. That’s the first book I really remember making a difference. And then I also remember the moment I fell in love with YA, when I stumbled upon a copy of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ when I was in the eighth grade. I couldn’t have found that book at a better time in my life and it’s always mean so much to me.

What is your favourite author/book/genre to read?
Korrina: At the moment, I’d say my favourite authors are Rainbow Rowell and V.E. Schwab. Rainbow’s books just fill me with so much immense happiness, and Victoria’s books are so utterly unique that I just read them in total awe. I’m also SUPER obsessed with The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. I love books that have a subtle creepiness to them, but aren’t horror or paranormal. It’s hard to describe, but any book that makes you feel like you’re walking through a cemetery in the middle of Autumn is right up my alley.

I have to admit I haven’t started The Raven Cycle but I will soon! I swear.
Do you have a favourite fictional character(s)?

Korrina: Ooo there are so many! Cath and Levi from ‘Fangirl’. ALL of the characters from ‘The Raven Cycle’. ALL of the characters from ‘The Lunar Chronicles’. And of course the characters from ‘Harry Potter’. You can’t really top them.

Then I must ask, which Hogwarts House are you in?
Korrina: I am a proud Slytherin!

When you aren’t working on Owlcrate or reading you are likely to be found….?
Korrina: To be honest, this past year I haven’t had much time for anything besides OwlCrate and reading haha. We’re both homebodies, so we love spending time with our friends playing board games and watching films. But we also love love love to travel. We were particularly happy to have visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida this past November.

Korrina, thank you so much for doing this interview with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I can’t wait to see more from you guys! P.S. The March book choice? A+! I mean I have been debating on buying this book for the last book weeks, it is like you read my mind. 

I really enjoyed learning about Korrina and Robert’s journey as well as how the magic happens for each crate. I cannot thank them enough for the interview and for making such a perfectly bookish product for me to enjoy. And for your pleasure she has left me with a 10% off coupon for your first order! I will leave a link to their website down below and I really encourage you to check it out. Every month is something a different, the genre varies and the swag is always fantastic. Korrina and Robert really do an amazing job creating a harmonious theme for each crate. Personally I have really enjoyed the tea and the reading journal they sent out but there’s really something for everyone. The only down side is you will be addicted!

Owlcrate website: https://www.owlcrate.com/
Follow them on Instagram and Twitter: @owlcrate
Code for 10% off your first order!! ‘JESS10’

 

Monthly Recommendations – Standalones

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Monthly Recommendations is a group on Goodreads created by Kayla and Trina.
Every month there is a new theme for the recommendations.
This months theme is…

Standalones

These are all fantastic stand-alones and there is something from every genre!

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If you are in the mood for a paranormal stand-alone, you should read Girl Under Glass by Monica Enderle Pierce. I am putting this one right at the top because it was amazing and because I never hear this book talked about! Seriously it is SO good you guys, check out the Goodreads summary, you won’t regret it.

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For a standalone western I can’t recommend Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman enough! I love the slow romance, the MCs determination and the setting. The author really drew me in until I could feel the heat, taste the dusty dry air and hear the buzzards.

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If a science fiction standalone is more your taste then might I talk you into Origin by Jessica Khoury

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If you are looking for a retelling standalone I suggest Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay. You can read my full review here.

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Next I have a couple contemporary stand-alones, I don’t read a lot of contemporary but I loved these two. Up Country by Alden Carter and The Last Summer by Ann Brashares

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For a historical fiction stand-alone Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman is a book I recommend. I have talked about it a lot and with good reason. You can read my full review here.

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And last but certainly not least I have a collection of fantasy stand-alone recommendations. These are all outstanding and you NEED to add them to your TBR. East by Edith Patton , The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 

 

And that is it for my list of best stand-alone novels, now I want to hear your recommendations! 

To Booktube or not to Booktube…

This is a really random and out of the blue post, I didn’t plan it I just need an outlet for my current thoughts.

I started a Booktube channel before I even started my blog last year and back then I was less daunted by filming than posting. Times have changed however and now I find it easier to find time to blog than to post videos. This is why I have been MIA from my Booktube channel for two months now! I feel so guilty and I make plans to film and upload, and I never follow through. Since I never experience that with my blog I have been thinking that I should just lay my channel to rest. Obviously my heart isn’t in it. This is really hard for me though, I would feel like a quitter and that makes me uncomfortable. So I keep trying to figure out how I can figure out at least a few videos a month.

Then this evening I was thinking about how I want to spend a lot more time working on my writing and participate in Nanowrimo this year. If I am trying to find time for Booktube, how will I find time for that AND writing? And which of them is the most important to me? If I did leave Booktube should I say goodbye? I love the community so it would be tough for me to do. When I think about how I spend my time I think about it like a financial budget. You only have so many hours in a day and I have an eight month old so free hours to myself are few and far between. So the question in how do I want to spend my hours? Reading? Blogging? Booktubing? Writing? A person can only do so much. I post on my blog 3-5 times a week as it is and yet there are so many more posts I would like to do so the idea of cutting back on my blog posts is SO hard. On top of that I have to factor in time to review books I have read AND I post a lot on Bookstagram as well. I really need to decide what is important and ‘let go’ of the rest.

Have you ever spread yourself too thin? Have you ever had to ‘let something go’? If so how did you deal with letting it go?

Thanks for listening guys!