Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Sunday Mix #36 (+ Dumbledore's Army Readathon)

I'm a bit surprised to find that this week's edition of The Sunday Mix is going to be the second to the last one for the year of 2016! It's honestly a bit mad how quickly time has flown by. But, that aside, come and check out this batch of interesting posts, videos and other stuff from all around the web.

A quick note - If you happen to be hosting a 2017 reading challenge, or know of any that are going to be happening, I would love it if you tweet me a link or leave it in the comments section down below. That way I can include it in the final edition of this post for the year 2016 and alert my readers to all the fun stuff that will be happening.

  • I have always enjoyed Instagram in general, but I love it even more now that I've officially dedicated an account to sharing #bookstagram photos. Cait shares ten reasons she's thankful for bookstagram, and I must say that they are definitely reasons I'm enjoying the community over there as well. (I'm @alexalovesbooks on there!)
  • I get overwhelmed by my own TBR sometimes (it's composed of physical books or e-books that I've bought, review copies I received that are both solicited and unsolicited). Laura's reading epiphany has really inspired me to start thinking about my own reading goals for next year. I'm pretty good at stepping back and reading something that's just for me whenever I start to feel slumpy, but I want to make that more of a priority next year too - to read what I love or what I"m most excited about.
  • I'm a pretty fast reader (definitely faster than most of the other people I know), but I still thought Hailey's video about how to read faster was really fun! It definitely has some easy tips to learn how to pick up the speed of your reading, and I think they could be helpful for you.
  • Lauren tackles seasonal reading, particularly by detailing her own moods. I'm a pretty solid reader all throughout the year, but I really notice my gravitation towards specific genres in winter. I tend to be willing to invest more time in reading longer books during this time of the year. What about you?
  • I had no idea that this documentary existed until just recently, but Love Between the Covers looks like it'll be really interesting and fun to watch! It features a few romance authors I've read (and really enjoyed books from), as well as other names that are familiar to me. I really think it would be fascinating to see what this documentary has to say about romance as a genre and an industry.
  • I've started joining in on the seasonal book bingo challenges Bekka hosts, simply because I love the categories and I find the challenge of filling my bingo card up quite fulfilling. Here's the Winter 2016-2017 bingo card and sign-up post, so I hope you'll be joining in as well!
  • Even though I'm savoring December, I'm also really excited about a variety of readathons happening in January of 2017. Here are three that I'm currently looking to join in on:
  • Speaking of the upcoming year, a new year always means new reading challenges to participate in. Here are a couple that you guys might find interesting (and will hopefully sign up for):

Among the many fun things I am doing in January, one of the most exciting is to be participating in the Dumbledore's Army Readathon hosted by Aentee. It's a Harry Potter-themed readathon (in case you couldn't already tell), and the focus is on diverse (especially #ownvoices) books. Happening from January 1-January 15, midnight to midnight wherever you are based in the world, you can definitely sign up to join me and many other readers. Plus, you can support your house by earning points (and how to do that is detailed in the sign-up post)! 

Anyway, check out my House ID card (HUFFLEPUFF AND PROUD OF IT), and all my potential reads below. There are seven prompts in total, each paired with a Harry Potter spell, and you'll see all of them listed below. (Credit for all the graphics goes to Aentee!)

I'm planning to read The Sun is Also a Star, and for three different reasons. First, it's by an #ownvoices author. Second, I find Daniel's struggle to live up to family expectations but also stay true to himself something that I've experienced and know many people who have as well. And third, I also find Natasha's family's situation as they face deportation something I've had people I know experience as well.

I meant to read this novel earlier this year, but I didn't get around to it, so I'm going to save it for this readathon. The book in question is If I Was Your Girl, which is also an #ownvoices novel. It features a transgender main character (and has a transgender model on the cover), and it sounds really, really good. I haven't read any (to my knowledge) novel featuring a transgender character, so I'm definitely excited to check this out.

I could technically count either of the previous novels for this challenge, but since I feel like being ambitious, I thought I would choose a novel that has languished on my TBR for a while. I plan on reading More Happy Than Not for this one. I love Adam as a human being (he is one of the nicest, kindest people I have ever had the fortune to meet in real life), and I really do want to read his book (and his other upcoming title as well).

This was the first prompt that I chose a book for, and the novel in question is A Room of One's Own. I have heard a lot about this novel (particularly on BookTube, as it was read for the Feminist Orchestra Book Club), and it certainly sounds like something I can very much sink my teeth into. Plus, it's by a well-known author that I've never read anything from before and I would very much like to remedy that in the new year.

I first heard about this novel when I read Ellis' series review, and it immediately convinced me to give this book a shot. The novel in question is called The Circle, and I acquired it in January of last year and still have yet to read it. From what I've heard, the series features an F/F relationship and a variety of different issues spread out amongst the characters so I *think* it counts for this prompt. (If not, there's always two of the books I've mentioned previously...)

I feel like the moment I announce my book choice for this particular category, people are going to be "yelling" at me to read it right away. The book? Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. There is no question of how beloved this novel is all across the online book community, and I would very much like to read it and see what all the hype is about. I really hope that I enjoy it as much as everyone I know has!

I am going to pretend that I did have a friend that personally recommended this one to me, but I'm going to go ahead and check out The Scorpion Rules. The premise of this one fascinated me the first time I heard of it, but I was hesitant because I'm not much for science fiction or dystopian fiction. However, I've been weirdly in the mood for that sort of read lately, so I'm definitely going to be checking it out in the hopes that I'll find it intriguing.

Are you signing up for any 2017 reading challenges or readathons? Do you know of anything happening? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tracking Down Tunes: Oldies But Goodies

Lindsey of Bring My Books & I are teaming up on this collaboration, inspired by our mutual desire to broaden our musical horizons. Basically, we both listen to music the same way: we find a favorite artist or album or track and listen to it nonstop. In an effort to diversify the music we listen to, we decided it would be fun to go out of our way to listen to new songs - and that it would be even better if we could recommend stuff to each other. So, every month, we'll be sharing our monthly playlists (for the previous month) with all of you!

I cannot believe we're sharing our very last playlist for the year today. It has been such incredible fun to discover and share new music, and to revisit old favorites too, with all of you. And it has been so cool to team up with Lindsey, who is one of my favorite people in the blogging community! We're not sure if this feature will be back in 2017, but I do hope Lindsey and I can plan a way to collaborate again with new content for you all. Anyway...

I only really started getting interested in older tunes after I moved back to the USA. I was, admittedly, all about the pop when I was living in the Philippines, not that there's anything wrong with that (and I still love it). But nowadays, I don't mind going back in time and revisiting music from older generations. I'm excited to share my favorites with you, majority of which I really only got hooked on in the past couple of years. All the songs on this playlist were released pre-1987, and I've included the year of release for each.

When I Fall in Love / Jeri Southern (1952, featured in the film One Minute to Zero) - This particular song gives me a lot of feelings, and all very sentimental ones. I just really love how sweet the song sounds, and how hopeful and wistful the singer manages to comes across as well (partially due to her own emotion, and partially, I'm sure due to the lyrics. It's a lovely tune, and I always enjoy listening to it.

Smile / Nat King Cole (1954) - I honestly feel like if there was ever a song that embodied me as a human being, a portion of it would have to be taken from this one. It just feels like the lyrics perfectly embody how I choose to react to a lot of things that happen in my life, since I often choose to try to be positive even in the face of great trouble or sorrow. Anyway, I love it.

Can't Help Falling in Love / Elvis Presley (1961) - Again, I didn't hear the original version of this song until after I'd heard the cover that was on the soundtrack of Lilo and Stitch. But I really love the original! I think Presley's voice is really well suited to sing this romantic ballad, and I also just really enjoy the simple imagery presented by the song in its entirety.

The Way You Look Tonight / Frank Sinatra (1964; originally performed by Fred Astaire in the 1936 film Swing Time) - The first time I actually ever heard this song, I immediately fell in love with it. Shortly after that, Macky serenaded me with it, so you can imagine the attachment I formed to it afterwards. But seriously, this song is so lovely, sweet and all sorts of wonderful. It's classic, it's romantic and the perfect tune to dance to with someone that you really love. (P.S. Personally, the Sinatra cover is my favorite.)

Piece of My Heart / Big Brother & The Holding Company feat. Janis Joplin (1968; originally performed by Erma Franklin in 1967) - I'm obsessed with this song. I've always found it extremely catchy, and I love singing along whenever I'm listening to (with a whole lot of feeling too). I can't even remember how I first discovered this one, but I do remember the most recent time I heard it - when James Bay covered it live at his concert, which was incredible.

Here Comes the Sun / The Beatles (1969) - This is, without a doubt, my favorite song from this iconic band. I just love the simple, hopeful lyrics, especially when paired with such a catchy melody. I personally always feel cheerful after giving this one a listen, so it gets played a lot when I'm having a bad day or just feeling really grumpy. After all, who wouldn't want to put a song that gets them out of a funk on repeat when necessary?

Somebody to Love / Queen (1976) - Confession: The first time I really paid attention to this song was when a cover of it appeared in the film "Ella Enchanted". I obviously discovered the original tune afterwards, and that one has totally gone into my regular rotation. I really like the glam rock style of the original, and I also find this one to be a fun song choice at karaoke.

How Deep is Your Love / Bee Gees (1977) - Confession: I didn't love this song all that much as a young'un. But now that I'm older, I just love it. It's certainly one that had to grow on me, and while I'm still not particularly attached to the lyrics, I love the way they come together with the melody to produce a ballad that's really soothing to my ears.

Total Eclipse of the Heart / Bonnie Tyler (1983) - I. love. this. song. I cannot even express to you in one measly paragraph how much I enjoy this song. It's partly because I love the dramatic lyrics, partly because I enjoy the intense sound and effects, and partly because I totally enjoy rocking out to this song at karaoke.

I Want to Know What Love Is / Foreigner (1984) - I think I really have a thing for dramatic songs, with intense music accompanying really emotional lyrics. I thoroughly enjoy having this song in rotation, just because it's so fun to sing along to it whenever it's on. Plus, I find this is also a popular karaoke choice when I'm with a particular group of my friends.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017

It's been nearly a year since the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2016 started, and I can barely believe that I'm even typing up the sign-up post for next year right now. It's been a really great year for reading fantasy (I read way more than my original goal)! I'm really thrilled with how many of you joined us and participated in our book clubs, so thank you for that.

Rachel of Hello, Chelly & I will be hosting the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge for the third time in 2017! We sure hope that you will be signing up to join us as we endeavor to read more fantasy novels (and series) in the year to come. Whether you're new to fantasy or a total veteran in the genre, we can promise that our challenge is real simple and that you can totally meet your goal, whatever it may be.

  • The challenge will run from January 1-December 31, 2017.
  • We're welcoming all readers to join us for this challenge! In order to sign up, readers just need to link to one of the following: blog, Goodreads profile, Twitter account, YouTube channel or Instagram account in the Linky below. That way, we'll have a chance to see where you guys will be talking about all of your fantasy reads (and we can come and visit you).
  • You can read as little or as much as you'd like to. There are no levels for this challenge!
  • There will be two giveaways, one at 6 months and one at the end of the year. More details will be provided closer to those dates.
  • Help us spread the word! Feel free to tweet about the challenge using our official hashtag #flightsoffantasy, grab the button to link to the challenge in your blog sidebar, share the image on Pinterest / Instagram or even write your own post about it. We love talking with fellow fantasy fans and want to connect with as many of them as possible!



We've decided to keep the Flights of Fantasy Book Club (FOF Book Club, for short), but we realized that we needed to simplify. In other words, we'll be reading a book by a new-to-us fantasy author together per quarter, and we will only commit to reading the first in the series (initially). We'll announce the book at the beginning of each quarter and post our discussions at the end of it.

I'm going to be even more ambitious than I was last year, and aim to read 50 fantasy reads next year. I am fairly confident in my ability to reach this goal since I surpassed that point this year (!), and because I have a ton of fantasy series I need to finish up. I can't wait to read more fantasy and discuss fantasy reads with all of you!

And that's it! That's all you really need to know about the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017. Nice and simple, right? We certainly hope you'll sign up, and that you'll encourage other people to do so as well. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section or tweet either of us directly. Feel free to use the banner in your post, or the button below! We hope to see your name in the Linky below.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    November 2016 (+ November Flights of Fantasy Linky)

    Can you guys even believe how quickly 2016 has gone by? I'm still in a state of disbelief about the fact that I'm typing up my second to the last monthly recap for this year already. It likely didn't help that November has been a very busy, as well as very emotional, month for me, though you'll hear about that a little bit more in the "What I Did" section below. Anyway, on with the recap!


    Oh, November. You were one hell of a month. And, to be honest, I'm not all too sad about bidding you adieu. Anyway, in November, the main thing that really affected my emotional wellbeing was the US election. I honestly spent a week reeling from the results, worried and anxious about what it meant for myself and many people I love and care about. But in the end, my own determination to do good and right has won out. Okay, that's all I'm going to be saying about that! 

    Apart from that, I attempted (and failed) this year's NaNoWriMo (though I do think I've finally figured out my actual writing process), saw Tick Tick Boom! again, watched the charity screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which was bloody brilliant), attended the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy launch party, celebrated Thanksgiving up in Connecticut with some extended family, went shopping on Record Store Day, hung out with lots of my friends, and continued developing my Naruto obsession (I'm somewhere in the middle of Naruto: Shippuden).


    My reading at the start of the month was actually a bit slow, but it definitely picked up in the latter half (especially during the holiday weekend). I'm quite pleased that I genuinely enjoyed majority of the books I read in November, but as always, I certainly have favorites. Here are my top reads of November!

    Nevernight by Jay Kristoff / A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman / Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick / The Bone Season*, The Mime Order* and The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon / Dealing with Dragons, Searching for DragonsCalling on Dragons and Talking To Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede 
    *This marks a reread.


    Holy moly, friends, it's the second to the last month of this year's Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge! How have you been doing on your fantasy reading goals? I can't believe we're nearly at the end of this year's challenge (and don't worry, we're back again in 2017, so watch out for the announcement + sign-ups tomorrow). Anyway, I read a whole lot of fantasy this month: Nevernight, A Shadow Bright and Burning, Fate of Flames, The Bone Season, The Mime Order, The Song Rising, Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons and Calling on Dragons. Don't forget to share your reviews or monthly wrap-ups below!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016

    Never Flinch. Never Fear. Never Forget. • Nevernight

    Nevernight book cover
    Mia Corvere has been familiar with death since she witnessed her father’s execution at only ten years old. After six years of learning in the shadows, Mia is determined to fulfill the oath of revenge she made on the day that her entire world was lost. But in order to do so, she has to become a powerful weapon and so, she comes under the tutelage of the Red Church, a school for assassins. There Mia will encounter friends and foes, deadly skills in weapons of both steel and mind, and she will be forced to prove once and for all that she can become the sharp blade that will take revenge on those who tore her world apart.

    Nevernight is, by far, one of the best stories I’ve read all year. 

    If you were following my updates on Goodreads as I read it, you might have observed that it took me a little longer than normal to actually finish reading this story. But I savored every single minute I spent with Mia. It was so incredibly immersive, which is certainly to its credit. I felt like I was right there with her during the tragedies of her childhood, the difficulties of her time at the Red Church and the nights she spent reviewing the internal conflicts and fears that plague her mind. Additionally, the story that comes to life around her – life in the Red Church, the politics and power plays in Godsgrave, the friendships and the rivalries – they all color her story even further. It is a testament to Kristoff’s storytelling ability that there are so many plots and relationships woven into a very intricate web that will both fascinate and challenge readers. (And, personally, I enjoyed the footnotes, finding them to be fun little additions that would elaborate on certain phrases or references. While not necessary to the tale, they definitely made the world just that much more real to me.)

    At its heart, Nevernight is really the story of a girl hell bent on exacting revenge on behalf of the family she lost. But as readers will come to see, the story blossoms into something even larger in scope. Thoughtful, brutal and yet not without a sense of humor, I really did wind up loving Nevernight as much as I’d hoped to. If you’re not averse to gore and brutality, and if you don’t mind a bit of a slow start combined with complex world-building, I’d highly recommend giving this fantasy novel a try.

    Nevernight by Jay Kristoff  | Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
    Publisher: Harper Voyager | Publication Date: August 11, 2016
    Source: Hardcover received in Illumicrate; e-ARC downloaded from NetGalley (Thanks!)


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