Month: April 2016

LitKit Subscription Box Review

Posted April 29, 2016 by Jana in Product Review / 1 Comment

Today I’m reviewing a new (or at least new to me!) subscription box for bibliophiles! If you’re a writer or just a lover of books, you might enjoy LitKit. Learn a little about LitKit below, check out my unboxing experience, and see what I got in the March LitKit! I held off on posting earlier because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who ordered last month’s box.

 

Born of the wet streets and dusty bookstores of San Francisco, LitKit is a monthly subscription box lovingly crafted to delight devotees of experimental literature, creative writing, and pen-and-ink publishing. Each month, we pair up with an independent author, poet, or small press publisher to showcase their most innovative and thought-provoking work. We bundle these carefully chosen publications with an assortment of unique literary devices, including high-quality writing implements and supplies, beautiful journals, thought-provoking prompts, and other interesting items intended to get your creative inks flowing freely.

Other things you should know:

– Price: $37 per month/$96 per 3-months/$334 per year
– Gift subscriptions available?: Yes.
– What does the box include?: “Small-press experimental literature, archaic and anachronistic writing supplies and technologies, tools and materials to make and repair your own books, beautiful journals and prompts to push your boundaries as a writer, mail art supplies and interactive projects, and various book-related goodies.”
– Who curates these boxes?: Read about them here.

So what did I get?

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The LitKit box is shipped Priority Mail 3-Day, and got here looking great! This logo is stamped on the two ends of the box so you know what’s coming as soon as you see it.

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Upon opening the box you get a little letter from the creators of LitKit, explaining what’s in the box. If you don’t want your items spoiled, hide this until the end! The back of this paper contains a monthly writing prompt calendar that provides one prompt a week, such as “What does the sun smell like?” and “”Who scares you?”. I love the crinkle pieces, and thought it was a fun way to pack the box.

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After taking the crinkle stuff out, voila! Stuffs!

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So, what is all this? Well, I got:

  • Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture by Alex Wrekk of Portland Button Works. The note says that this book is “an indispensable resource for literary creators”.
  • A Read More Books button from Portland Button Works.
  • An I <3 Books magnet from Portland Button Works.
  • A retractable fine-tip sharpie.
  • Two zines from Ellen Bae: Fixed and Fleeting meant to inspire me to create my own zines after reading the Stolen Sharpie Revolution.
  • A kit to make three of my own little books, all supplies included except the glue stick.

How do I feel?

I think the idea behind the LitKit is very fun. When Meg, LitKit co-founder, pitched me this box she said it’s a great box to inspire writers and lit lovers. I can see that this might be true, however I was surprised that this month’s box surrounded zines. I’ll be honest, zines are not the first thing I think of when I hear “writing inspiration”. I actually had to look up what a zine is. lol. Wikipedia says a zine is “(an abbreviation of fanzine or magazine) most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier”. This is cool to me! The zines I received are very simple, yet fun to look at. I can definitely see these inspiring people to try and create their own.

The book making kit is very cute, and I think it will be fun to make the books. The instructions appear to be easy to follow, and I will probably use the kit to make some journals for my purse. I’m a huge fan of bookish buttons and magnets, so I am happy to have these to add to my collection. And who doesn’t need a sharpie? Pretty sure my mom stole mine already. The packaging is very nice and I like that a note was included to explain what each item is.

Would I subscribe?

No, I don’t think I would. For what I got, I feel like the price is a bit high for a bookworm on a budget. I looked up each item online, and I could have put this box together myself for less money. I understand we’re paying for the labor of the curators, though, and I totally support that. I guess my biggest thing is that I personally will not get enough use out of the items I received to justify the cost involved. I feel like this theme was a bit obscure for the general writer/bookish person. There are other subscription boxes out there that fit my needs as a book lover more than this one does.

Should you subscribe?

When you buy any subscription box, you are buying a service as much as your are buying items. You are also going into things without knowing the outcome. Meg and Michael do a great job, and I can tell they care about their subscribers. Looking at past issues of the box, there are some interesting items included. If you’re an aspiring or independent writer looking for some tips and inspiration, perhaps this is the box for you!

Thanks so much, Meg and Michael, for sending me a box in exchange for my review! As always, my review was not swayed because I got something for free and my opinions are my own.


Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey Excerpt | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted April 27, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey Excerpt | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey Excerpt | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey
Published by Swoon Reads on April 19, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
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Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Welcome to my spot along the blog tour for Love, Lies, and Spies hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! Cindy Antsey is a 2016 debut author (yay Debut Author Challenge books!), and I have an excerpt that is sure to get you excited to grab a copy soon. Make sure you enter to win a print copy of the book as well!

“Oh my, this is embarrassing,” Miss Juliana Telford said aloud. There was no reason to keep her thoughts to herself, as she was alone, completely alone. In fact, that was half of the problem. The other half was, of course, that she was hanging off the side of a cliff with the inability to climb either up or down and in dire need of rescue.

“Another scrape. This will definitely give Aunt apoplexy.”

Juliana hugged the cliff ever closer and tipped her head slightly so that she could glance over her shoulder. Her high-waisted ivory dress was deeply soiled across her right hip, where she had slid across the earth as she dropped over the edge.

Juliana shifted slowly and glanced over her other shoulder. Fortunately, the left side showed no signs of distress, and her lilac sarcenet spencer could be brushed off easily. She would do it now were it not for the fact that her hands were engaged, holding tightly to the tangle of roots that kept her from falling off the tiny ledge.

Juliana continued to scrutinize the damage to her wardrobe with regret, not for herself so much as for her aunt, who seemed to deem such matters of great importance. Unfortunately, her eyes wandered down to her shoes. Just beyond them yawned an abyss. It was all too apparent how far above the crashing waves of the English Channel she was—and how very small the ledge.

Despite squishing her toes into the rock face as tightly as possible, Juliana’s heels were only just barely accommodated by the jutting amalgamate. The occasional skitter and plop of eroding rocks diving into the depths of the brackish water did nothing to calm her racing heart.

Juliana swallowed convulsively. “Most embarrassing.” She shivered despite a warm April breeze. “I shall be considered completely beyond the pale if I am dashed upon the rocks. Aunt will be so uncomfortable. Most inconsiderate of me.”

A small shower of sandy pebbles rained down on Juliana’s flowery bonnet. She shook the dust from her eyes and listened. She thought she had heard a voice.

Please, she prayed, let it be a farmer or a tradesman, some-one not of the gentry. No one who would feel obligated to report back to Grays Hill Park. No gentlemen, please.

“Hello?” she called out. Juliana craned her neck upward, trying to see beyond the roots and accumulated thatch at the cliff’s edge.

A head appeared. A rather handsome head. He had dark, almost black, hair and clear blue eyes and, if one were to notice such things at a time like this, a friendly, lopsided smile.

“Need some assistance?” the head asked with a hint of sarcasm and the tone of a . . .

“Are you a gentleman?” Juliana inquired politely.

The head looked startled, frowned slightly, and then raised an eyebrow before answering. “Yes, indeed, I am—”

“Please, I do not wish to be rescued by a gentleman. Could you find a farmer or a shopkeep— anyone not of the gentry—and then do me the great favor of forgetting you saw me?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I do not want to be rude, but this is a most embarrassing predicament—”

“I would probably use the word dangerous instead.”

“Yes, well, you would, being a man. But I, on the other hand, being a young woman doing her best not to call attention to herself and bring shame upon her family, would call it otherwise.”


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Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun | Blog Tour Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted April 26, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun | Blog Tour Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 26, 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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4 Stars

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Welcome to my stop along the Heir to the Sky blog tour, hosted by Hannah at The Irish Banana Review! I’m so happy to review this book today because I really enjoyed it! I guess I had been needing a really good dystopia because I ate this one up! I’m really at a loss for words, and am having a hard time coming up with a coherent review. So much happens in the book and it is so well done. I love that it’s a standalone, as it is super refreshing to read a fully fleshed-out story for a change. Anyway, I’m going to keep my review short and sweet so as not to give too much away.

The premise of the story is really interesting, and I was immediately intrigued even though I was a little worried that the floating continents aspect would be too similar to Lauren DeStefano’s Perfect Ruin. The bulk of this story takes place on Earth, though, so everything ended up feeling unique and fresh. And really, the story picked up for me after Kali fell and was literally thrown from her extravagant life as a royal to surviving a cold, dirty, scary life. Her first night on Earth was really exciting for me, and I loved reading about her experiences with the crazy beasts and dragons. But Griffin. Oh, Griffin. I LOVE him. He definitely made this story for me. I loved the bond that he and Kali formed, and I loved how sweet he was to her as he protected her and tried to get her back home.

This story is surrounded by a lot of legend and secrecy, and I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold regarding how the islands really ended up in the sky, what Earth is really like, and who these people really are. Kali has been lied to her whole life, and falling to Earth gave her the awful truth very quickly. She no longer wants to get home for selfish reasons, she wants to get home to save the world. She learns a lot about herself in the process and what she is capable of. She also meets a lot of people, makes some friends, falls in love, and experiences some very dangerous and life-changing things. I enjoyed watching her grow and become more aware and fierce.

I loved Sun’s writing style and the details she provided. Earth is portrayed in vivid detail, with lots of colors and ferocious beasts. I felt like I was there. I loved the characters and all the little secrets to society and politics and ways of life that shaped the story. Heir to the Sky is a fast-paced, action-packed read that had me turning the pages as quickly as humanly possible. I’d definitely recommend it to people who are looking for an interesting dystopia/fantasy mash-up.


About Amanda Sun

 

I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.

In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.

The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


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Tour Schedule:

4 Stars

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller | Book Review

Posted April 24, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller | Book Review

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller | Book ReviewThe Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Series: Nerd #1
Published by Entangled Teen on May 7, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Won
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5 Stars

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Welcome to my spot along the Romancing the Nerd blog tour, hosted by YAReads Blog Tours! Today I get to read the first book in this cute set of companion novels, and I’m pretty excited because I LOVED The Summer I Became a Nerd! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Nerd. I was sold at nerd. I’m a nerd myself and I love nerdy things (like Big Bang Theory and Sidney White and fangirling), so this book spoke to me. I love all the nerdiness: the comic books, the LARPing, the cosplay, the smelling of the comic book store, the Princess Bride references. It was just so much fun!

2. We have Maddie, our closet nerd… She is hilarious! Yes, she bugged me at times because I wanted to shake her and say, “EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE SILLY GIRL!!” but she’s a teenager and teenagers can be like this in high school. I can understand her need to adhere to her popular image and date the idiot jock whom she didn’t even like, much less love, just because he’s a status symbol, but I didn’t love this about her. She does grow and change, though, and that made me love her. So yay for winning my heart, Maddie!

3. Logan is an adorkable dream. He’s so self aware and confident with who he is. I loved watching him try to win Maddie over. The scene where they meet for the first time is about the cutest meet cute I’ve read.

4. The supporting characters are golden. I loved Logan’s mom, and how supportive and fun she was. I loved his little quirky sister. Dan’s drama was great, but his language could use a little cleaning up. Really, though, the entire cast of characters was amazing.

5. The romance, like I said, is pretty dang cute.

This review was short and sweet, but I don’t want to spoil anything by going on. All in all, this is such a fun, sweet, swoony book! I loved everything about it! If you’re at all nerdy, love a nerd, or wish you were a nerd I beg of you to grab a copy of this book!


Romancing the Nerd is all about Logan’s best friend Dan, and it came out on April 5th! See how his former nerdom (seriously, how can Dan become un-nerdy?) creeps back in to his life in the form of a cute redheaded girl named Zelda. Once a nerd, always a nerd? I guess you’ll have to read and find out!

romancing the nerdRomancing the Nerd by Leigh Rae Miller
April 5, 2016 from Entangled Teen
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Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird.
And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams.

A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time.

It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.


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5 Stars

Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks | Children’s Book Review

Posted April 6, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review / 1 Comment

Welcome to by stop along the Pigs and a Blanket blog tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review!

Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks
Illustrated by: James Burks
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on April 5, 2016
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the publisher for the blog tour
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Pig siblings Henry and Henrietta love their green blanket. It is soft, it smells good, and it makes a great cape! As much as they each love playing with the blanket, they don’t love sharing it. Will ripping it in two solve all their problems?

Author/illustrator James Burks has created a funny, relatable, sweet story about two pigs who, despite their individual interests pulling them in different directions, really prefer to remain side by side.

Pigs and a Blanket is a very sweet, simple story about sharing, getting along, and loving your siblings. I loved the illustrations. The two pigs have some of the cutest facial expressions! The colors are also bright and vivid, with lots of details that are fun to point out with a child. The story is very short, so it makes a great bedtime read.

There are very few words on each page, so emergent readers will not be intimidated. There is some repetition of phrases, and the font is large, black, and easy to read. The illustrations essentially tell the story on their own, so children who are experiencing reading for the first time will be delighted when they discover that they can make up the story as they go. For this reason, Pigs and a Blanket is a wonderful book talk book.

I really loved the ending. This book subtly teaches a lesson on sharing without preaching to the child or shoving the message down their throats. It simply alludes to the fact that playtime is more fun if you’re playing together. I would definitely recommend this story.

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4/4: Vi3tbabe