Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reading Habits: Before and After Social Media

Hey, all! 

Yesterday I arrived back in the family house from uni for a short week. It is Carnival in the Netherlands and that can get overwhelming for a small introvert with crowd anxiety such as myself. Usually, the first thing I do when I come back to France (after eating way too much bread and butter) is look at my shelves and decide what I want to read next.

That's when I started craving re-reading my Middle Grade favorites. I picked up a book that means a ton to me -  Stravaganza: City of Masks, by Mary Hoffman - and realized: I have never heard other people on blogs or Instagram talk about these books. Reviews for it on Goodreads are generally pretty decent. So, after I sent an email to the author, I got to thinking. 

As much as I have always loved reading, I started noticing a trend in my reading patterns since I started reviewing books and being a part of 'the book community'. So today, I wanted to take half an hour or so to go over what I noticed changed. 

1. Book Selection 

I remember spending countless lunchtimes in the school library, looking for new titles and reading the blurb of every book I could get my hands on, before carefully selecting 4 books I had to bring back in a month's time. Some books simply didn't stick with me, while others brought a bookish love upon me that still sticks around. I _still_ squeal like an 11 year old when Rick Riordan says he will publish a new book soon! I also remember scrolling through the teen's books on amazon, looking for something that sounded promising. Mom ordered so many random books for me that, sure, were either hit or miss, but I made the decisions myself. 

Since involving myself in the book community, I have been introduced to some fantastical word, known as hype. Certain books were talked about by EVERYONE, while some books I knew and loved seemed to hardly be mentioned anywhere at all. I've realized that I no longer reach out to books I have not seen anyone mention, but rather end up buying the books that have been mentioned everywhere - there is a hype for a reason, right? This has certainly lead me to some amazing books, that I most likely would not have discovered otherwise. 

2. My pickiness about books 

A book is a story written on pages bound between two covers. I don't care if my spine is broken in or if I dog ear pages or if the entire series is made up of different covers. I want the story and I want it now

Uuuugh I kind of wish I paid more attention to having similar covers... And I kinda wish I didn't dog ear some of my all time favorites... And the broken spines annoy me... But I won't replace my old copies for the world 

3. Series

I used to be a series junkie - I would usually find the first 2-3 books in my school's library, and the time of year when the next book would come out was more exciting than Christmas. Some stand-alones were fine, but there was a certain thrill to series! 

Gimme the stand alones. I do have some favorite series, but for some reason it has become incredibly difficult to find YA stand alones that aren't contemporary. I live for a good high fantasy but most of those come in HUGE series! And while I enjoy a good trilogy, I get emotionally attached to books strongly enough to just lose patience when waiting a year for a next book to come out, oops! 

But that's why you gotta learn to wait out the series's publication, then 1, 2, 3 BINGE!

4. Caring about Opinions

I used to not really care if people liked the same books I did or not, or if I liked books recommended to me.  I would read and absorb a story, weather I liked it or not was simply a personal choice. 

Now, it is easy to _say_ I don't care, but it is difficult to enact. Seeing someone with influence tear apart at a book I loved on goodreads just because they can always breaks my heart a little, and I am always a little afraid to admit that I didn't like a very hyped book. 

However, this also works the other way around! I cannot express how happy it makes me to see a message from someone - stranger or friend - saying that they saw me recommend a book and that they loved it as well. I also love the feeling of reading a super-hyped book after a while, and completely understanding why it was so loved! 

All in all, I don't think that before or after was better for me, reading-wise. They both have their value, and have both built me to the kind of reader I am today. However, I will be trying to implement some of my past reader philosophies into my current reading and blogging habits! I'm definitely going to be exploring the books I don't see being mentioned as much once again! 

I would love to hear your opinions on the subject! 

Stay Bookish! 


Thursday, February 20, 2020

ARC Review - Shielded, by KayLynn Flanders

Hey, all!

Before I get into the spoiler-free review of a book I absolutely adored, I feel like I owe you all an explanation. 

My blog has been on 'private' since October. I shut it down without warning, and more than one person asked me where it went and why I deleted it. To be honest, it is a long story. Later this week I will make sure to dedicate a post about why I closed my blog. 

But for now, I'm back! I am super happy to be back behind the keyboard, finally able to talk about new book discoveries! 

Today I come to you with a review of an ARC! I am talking about Shielded, by Kaylynn Flanders. Before you continue, click on the link and add this book to your TBR. It's that good. And don't worry, this review will, naturally, be spoiler free!

Note: This book was given to me by Delacorte Press via Netgalley. This does not, in any way, influence my thoughts and opinions. 

This cover is simply too beautiful for words!
"The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It's losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn's--her brother's--magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong--the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it's too late--for her and for her entire kingdom."

Shielded is so much more than I was expecting. With every sentence you can feel the world and characters being built, with every plot twist you realize how insanely detailed Flanders's idea for this series is. There are so many twists and turns and unexpected moments that the book was very difficult to put down, and even harder to stop thinking about. 

Image result for gif reading shock
My exact face when *REDACTED* happened only about 20% in.

For those who have followed my blog for a while you know that nothing makes me happier than a good character-driven novel. I become even giddier when the plot matches the characters in intensity. Shielded absolutely delivered in these aspects. Every single character, main, side and backstage alike, were thoroughly fleshed out and had personalities that stood out. Jenna - our main character - wasn't flawless, Enzo - the prince - was absolutely adorable (imagine if Will and Jem had a lovechild who was very protective, but also dorky and smart and smells like apples and books... *sigh*...). I absolutely adored Ren, Chiara, Mari and Luc. (Mari MVP, just saying!). They were each so unique I could hear their voices in my head as I read. 

And the plot! I cannot say much about it, but I adored how descriptive Flanders was about the Wild, the feeling left after being hurt, and even simple things like the way the sun felt on people's skin. The plot itself feels as insane as something that could be played out in a fantastic campaign of D&D. The magic system is so alive, and evil of the antagonists is just dripping from the pages. 

I have to stop here, lest I go fully into spoilers because THINGS HAPPENED, OKAY!? I'm giving this book 5/5 stars, and I simply need book 2. Right now. Even if it's just an outline of it, or an idea that Flanders came up with and quickly wrote on the back of a shopping receipt. I want more from this world and its three kingdoms! 

Stay bookish!