A Whole New World…

Today, my friends, is a good day! Today is the day that I get to unveil my new blog design! When I started on this journey eight months ago, I told myself that I would consider a custom design after one year of blogging. As you can see things escalated quickly, and I’m sitting here today a very happy girl!

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Come on, like I wasn’t going to use Aladdin gifs with that title!

One of the reasons why I wanted to wait a full year was because I wanted to wait and see how much I liked blogging and how successful I would be at it. I didn’t want to make a big investment if I was just going to decide book blogging wasn’t for me. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that I absolutely LOVE blogging and I couldn’t be more proud of my little corner of the internet. So, I decided to take the plunge and make the committment.

I worked with the fabulously talented Anna of Anna Marie Moore Designs and Ashley is providing hosting through Book Host. These two make a dynamic duo and I cannot tell you how much I LOVE my design and all of the new little bells and whistles that I can add to my posts. I could not recommend these two women more…they have been so fantastic to work with. Super kind and ridiculously responsive! Everything you’d ever want in someone when you’re taking this enormous leap of migrating and updating your blog. It’s a detailed and complicated process but they have made it so simple!

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Best day EVER!

I hope you love my new look as much as I do, and please pardon any wackiness over the next few days as I figure out all these awesome new widgets and plug-ins. Let me know if you see anything weird or
out-of-place too, I’m learning as I go.

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365 Days of YA Reading Challenge 2015 – January Link-Up

The time has come!! Now that we’re more than halfway through the first month of the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge, Kate and I are debuting the official link up  post for January! Thank you so much for participating in January’s 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge!  If you are new to our challenge check out the Epic Reads infographic and read our intro post.  We will have another sign-up post in February. Hopefully it’s been an amazing month of reading and you’re ready to share your reviews of the books you’ve selected from the Epic Reads infographic.

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We can’t wait to see all of the amazing books you guys have read this month and to celebrate that, Epic Reads has generously donated FIVE copies of Amy Ewing’s The Jewel to give away this month. Now, in order to be entered into the drawing, you must link up your January reviews/re-cap post/365 Days of YA Goodreads shelf at the linky below no later than Saturday, January 31st at 11:59mp EST.

Additional entries can be earned by taking part in the photo challenges Kate and I will be hosting each week. Stay tuned each Monday morning for a new photo challenge! Kate and I will announce them on our Twitter and Instagram feeds, and each week you submit a photo is another entry for our monthly giveaway! You still have time to get your entry in for this week’s challenge; a photo of your January TBR pile! Hurry up though, entries close this Sunday at 11:59pm EST. A new challenge will be posted by 8:00am EST on Monday, January 19.

Recap

  • Link up your January reviews/re-cap post/365 Days of YA Goodreads shelf no later than Saturday, January 31st at 11:59mp EST using the link below.
  • Please provide a DIRECT link to your post or Goodreads 365 Days of YA shelf.
  • Each person who links up their reviews/re-cap post/ Goodreads shelf will be entered into the January drawing for a copy of The Jewel.
  • Earn additional entries by submitting your photos in our weekly photo challenges posted on Kate’s Twitter and Instagram and Sarah’s Twitter and Instagram every Monday morning.
  • Five winners will be selected – US ONLY! For you international folks, stay tuned for our seasonal giveaways.

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365 Days of YA Challenge: Favorite Snowy Day Reads

Happy Monday friends, and welcome to the first in a year-long series of  themed posts as part of the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge. A couple of times each month, Kate and I will share some fun bookish posts that will be perfectly timed for the season to inspire your challenge reading lists!

Hint: Make sure you read to the end of this post for a fun annoucement!

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This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite snowy day reads, and if you head to Kate’s blog you can see books she’s paired with candles!

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When I think of snowy days, I think of sitting by the fire, all bundled in blankets and reading a book! This time of year I typically gravitate towards fantasy YA, so todays post features a whole lot of fantasy, which is perfect for escaping the winter blues!

These first two series have books that were released in the winter months, and lucky for us, each happens to have a book coming out THIS year as well!

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The Lunar ChroniclesFairest releases January 27th

 The Scarlet Series – Lion Heart releases May 19th

The next three series I selected are all favorites of mine and are a perfect way to escape into a different world. They also all feature some pretty pivotal scenes that took place in a snowy landscape, so it’s easy to get sucked right in when the snow is blowing and the wind is howling outside your window. If you live in an area that doesn’t get cold this time of year, then even better! You’ll get your dose of winter for sure.

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Girl of Fire and Thorns series
The Grisha Trilogy
Throne of Glass series

Finally, my last group of books are all new releases this winter that I’m eagerly anticipating! I’ll be reading all of these very soon, so stay tuned for reviews!

SnowyDays3The Conspiracy of Us / The Sin Eater’s Daughter / The Winner’s Crime
A Wicked Thing / Red Queen / The Orphan Queen

Here’s hoping my snowy day list inspires you to add some to your Winter reading list! If you haven’t already, we’d love to have you join us for the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge!

Sign up here and join in the fun!

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Each week Kate and I will be hosting a photo challenge on Twitter and Instagram that will earn you more entries into the monthly giveaways (US only) and seasonal giveaways (open internationally)! This week’s challenge runs until 11:59pm on Sunday, January 18th.

Theme for week of January 12th: Your January TBR

Just post a photo of all the books you plan to read in January, and make sure you tag it with the official #365DaysofYA hashtag to earn extra entries. In order to earn these extra entries into the giveaways, you must be signed up as an official challenge participant. Sign up here!

365 Days of YA Challenge: My January TBR

I’m happy to report that the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge is up to more than 30 participants! Kate and I are thrilled with all of the excitement and involvement we’ve seen already, and can’t wait to see where this challenge takes us. We have a lot of fun stuff planned…

  • Weekly photo challenges that will earn you extra entries in the monthly book giveaways & random surprise giveaways (both are US only and hosted by Epic Reads). Stay tuned….first one starts THIS Monday!
  • Seasonal giveaways hosted by Kate and I that are open internationally!
  • Monthly Twitter chats!
  • Monthly link-ups where you can share your reviews or progress reports for how you did that month!

So, if you haven’t already signed up, make sure you go here and join in the fun!

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January is only the beginning of this year-long challenge…
so let’s get started and dominate!

Now that I say that though, I’m here to report that I’ll only be reading ONE book as part of the challenge for the month of January. My reading schedule is pretty jam-packed this month, BUT I did manage to make some time to read the much-anticipated debut novel from Victoria Aveyard, RED QUEEN!

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source: goodreads

But…you guys….LOOK at the infographic below and see all of the amazing books YOU can read for January! Now remember, the great part about this challenge is that you can use this infographic to pick and choose what you want to do! So, for January, I decided to only focus on the SEASONAL challenge. But as you’ll find out next month, I’ll start to kick it up a notch and read some weekly series challenges and some of the suggested daily reads, although not in ONE day! I’m not THAT good!

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click for larger view

 Now, after all that, don’t you want to join?! You know you do! Well, what are you waiting for? CLICK HERE and sign up now!

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

I was pretty excited when I first heard about this challenge for 2015 hosted by Alexa and Rachel. One of my biggest discoveries of 2014 was that I am a HUGE fan of fantasy novels, so much so that I ended up reading close to FIFTY YA Fantasy books over the course of the year. Apparently, I just can’t get enough. Needless to say, when I read about this challenge, I was all…IT’S ON!

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Over the next 12 months I’ll challenge myself to read at least 40 fantasy novels. On the last Sunday of the month I’ll come back to this post and update all of you on my progress and link back to my review. Hope you’ll join me in the fun as I discover even more amazing YA fantasy novels to fall in love with!

Bonus points to whoever can name this character from a fantasy classic!

Bonus points to whoever can name this character from an 80’s fantasy classic!

Progress…

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Join the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge

Myself and Kate over at Literary Kate are co-hosting the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge!  This challenge is inspired by Epic Reads’ 365 Days of YA info graphic.  The best part about our challenge is that you can read as much or as little as you wish.  Do you have brand new releases that you’ve been dying to read?  What about the books that have been sitting on your shelves for a few years?  New and old titles are part of this challenge!

We’re so thrilled that Epic Reads will be partnering with us on this challenge for monthly book giveaways and periodic ARC giveaways (US ONLY). As an added bonus, Kate and I will also be offering four seasonal prize package giveaways that will be open internationally for those participating in the challenge.

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Here’s an example of how you could custom build
your reading challenge!

As you can see on the graphic below the team over at Epic Reads offer reading suggestions for each day, week, month or for the entire Winter season. As part of this challenge I have chosen to focus on the SEASONAL suggestions and read those. So between January and March I will read Red Queen…BUT I’ll probably also add in a read of the Newsoul series (Incarnate, Asunder and Infinite) during week 12 as shown below. See, you can totally make this YOUR challenge based on your existing plans for the year.

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CHALLENGE RULES:

  • Sign up for the challenge below and submit a link to your blog, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc. that contains a “To Be Read” list that matches up with the books found on the 365 Days of YA graphic (The individual titles are listed on the Epic Reads post as well).  You can also include your personal reading goals for this challenge (book a day, series a week, monthly picks etc.)
  • Keep track of what you read and at the end of each month post an update on your social media network of choice about what you read.  Feel free to include review links as well.
  • Submit a link to your update on the appropriate monthly link-up post here on the blog
  • Use the #365DaysofYA for any social media posts
  • Only books read in 2015 will count towards this challenge
  • Read the books in any order you like
  • Choose your own reading adventure!  This is YOUR challenge so make it fit what’s important to you!
  • Have fun and make new reading friends!
  • Contact Kate (Twitter: @literarykate) or Sarah (Twitter: @whatsarahread) if you have any questions. You can also email us at literaryexplorations@gmail.com OR whatsarahread@gmail.com.
We will also be hosting monthly Twitter chats with the #365DaysofYAChat.  We will post the dates and times when they become available!

SIGN UP HERE

Ready to jump into the challenge for January?  Sign-ups will close on the 31st.  Each month will have it’s own sign-up and wrap-up posts.

Fangirl Friday: 2014 Statistics Survey

If there’s one thing I’m a fan of, it’s bookish surveys, so when Andi of Andi’s ABCs and Brittany of The Book Addict’s Guide announced their 2014 Statistics Survey, I knew I had to participate. The world can never have enough bookish surveys and I’m here to ensure that you all get your fill of all things books!

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So take a few minutes, won’t you, to check out my year in reading for 2014! Maybe you’ll learn something new or discover a new book you’ve not read yet!!

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Number of books under 250 pages (not including novellas): Only one – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – 181 pages

Number of books read between 400-449 pages: 25 – highlights include the Fire and Thorns series, I’ll Meet You There, the first two books Throne of Glass series, Ruin and Rising, Something Real and Princess of Thorns.

Number of books read between 450-499 pages: Four – highlights include Winterspell and Exquisite Captive.

Number of books read over 500 pages: Four – highlights include Heir of Fire and Grave Mercy.

Number of books read over 1000 pages: None, I don’t think my attention span could last that long. Although, I have grand plans of reading all of the books in the Outlander series this year!

Number of novellas read: 12 – highlights include The Assassin’s Blade, Just One Night, Summerfall and Homecoming.

Number of books that made you cry: Off the top of my head I don’t think I could give a specific number but books that I DEFINITELY remember crying during are; The Start of Me and YouI’ll Meet You ThereHeir of FireIf I StayWhere She Went and Lady Theif.

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Number of books from a female/male/multiple POV: No clue…lol! Didn’t keep track of this stat so I can’t say for certain.

Number of DNFs (did not finish): Less than five, but their probably should have been a few more if I’m being honest!

Number of five-star reads: About 50! I’ve read a lot of great books this year but am thinking that maybe I need to be a little less generous with my star ratings. I mean, that is a LOT of five-star reads.

Number of one/two star reads: Four

Number of authors met in 2014: Nine – Sarah J. Maas, A.C. Gaughen, Alex Bracken, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Kendall Kulper, Cara Bertrand, Annie Cardi, Claire Legrand and Leigh Bardugo…and each and every one of them were so gracious and kind! PS – I totally played it cool and wasn’t awkward at all!

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Number of book events attended in 2014: Three – the Sarah J. Maas and A.C. Gaughen signing, the Leigh Bardugo signing and the Boston Teen Author Fest!

Number of books you read in one day: I read two books in one day during Dewey’s Read-a-Thon!

Number of audiobooks: None – I tried a couple but they just don’t seem to be my thing.

Number of 2015 books you have on pre-order: Ten…for now! Lion Heart, The Heir, All Played Out, Red Queen, I’ll Meet You There, The Fill-In Boyfriend, The Start of Me and You, Fairest, I Was Here and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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Number of re-reads: Four – Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.

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Book with the highest rating on Goodreads: Heir of Fire – 4.61 rating

Book with the lowest rating on Goodreads: Virgin – 3.36 rating

Book read furthest away from home (vacation reads?): The Edge of You…and  I was decidedly MEH on it.

Book that took you the longest to read: Maze Runner – for some reason that one took me almost three weeks. It was my first read of 2014 and I guess I just hadn’t found my reading mojo yet.

Book that you personally connected with the mostI’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios. The characters in this book are so far removed from my reality but I connected with this story on such a deep level, I was totally moved.

Book that made you love the villain: The Grisha Trilogy…The Darkling is soooo very evil!

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Book you said you’d come back to but still haven’t picked up again: What the Lady Wants…just not connecting with it.

Book you read waaaay before it’s publication date: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas…and it was AMAZING!

Book you read on your birthday: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Book with a character who shares your name: I can’t think of any!

Book you weren’t entirely truthful about when rating (Fluff up any ratings? Rated even though you didn’t finish?): As I mentioned earlier, I was a little kind with my five-star ratings at the start of the year and if I was looking at some of them with a more critical eye I’d definitely rate some three or four stars.

Book you read in 2014 but already want to re-read: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios! I decided to make it my first read of 2015.

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Book you borrowed from a friend a long time ago and still have: I try to be pretty good about returning books in a reasonable time frame, but earlier this year I hijacked Gail’s copy of Mortal Heart for like two months. Sorry Gail!

Book by a foreign author/originally published in another country: None that I can think of.

Book you which you could go back and read for the first time again: SO many! The most recent that comes to mind though is A Court of Thorns and Roses, such an amazing book!

Most books read by one author this year: First place goes to Cora Carmack with six books read, and second place to Sarah J. Maas for five books!

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Happiest & saddest: Happiest – Just One Night gave me so many warm fuzzies! / Saddest – I cried my eyes out reading If I Stay.

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Longest & shortest: Longest – Heir of Fire / Shortest – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Best & worst: Best – I’ve read so many amazing books that were published in 2014 and I shared my top ten with you here, but if I had to choose one from that list I would have to say Heir of Fire! But I can’t go without mentioning how much I adored I’ll Meet You There and A Court of Thorns and Roses which are 2015 releases. I would say those three books are the best books I read this year! The book I enjoyed the least is The Vault of Dreamers.

First & last reads of 2014: First – Maze Runner / Last – This Shattered World

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First & last books on your bookcase (1st book on the top left and last book on the bottom right): The Book of Broken Hearts and Cress

The most disappointing & the biggest pleasant surprise: The most disappointing would have to be The Vault of Dreamers, I was super pumped for this book, but I was so annoyed with the main character that I ended up not enjoying it at all. My biggest pleasant surprise was The Book of Broken Hearts, I didn’t know much about this book when I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it and how moving it was.

Bandwagon/fandom you joined & one you abandoned: I joined so many fandoms in 2014! Sarah J. Maas, A.C. Gaughen, Leigh Bardugo, Rainbow Rowell…seriously, I could go on and on.

Most lenient & harshest ratings:  I was pretty generous with my five-star ratings which is something I’ve committed to working on in 2015. I just love books SO much!

Most hyped & furthest under the radar that you read: The most hyped book I read is a tie between Heir of Fire and Isla and the Happily Ever After. Furthest under the radar is Princess of Thorns.

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Book you read that is red: Ruin and Rising

Book you read that starts with M: Mortal Heart

Book you read that you may have hugged when you finished it: Ruin and Rising. No seriously, I hugged the book when I was done.

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Book you read that you may have wanted to throw across a room: The Vault of Dreamers – this book frustrated me to no end.

Book that has the letters Q, X, or Z in the title: Queen of Someday

Book that suffered some damage this year: I let my 13-year-old nephew borrow my Grisha Trilogy books and he proceeded to dog ear the pages which completely horrified me! I can’t be mad though, he loved the series and is now the proud owner of the set I used to own!

Food you craved while/after reading a certain book: Reading Anna and the French Kiss had me desperate to go back to Paris for a Croque Madame with frites and a crepe and nutella for dessert!

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Yes, I took a photo of my food in Paris! I got a lot of side-eyes from the locals!

First book you read in 2015: Currently re-reading I’ll Meet You There because it’s an amazing book and I wanted to start the year off on a high note!

Number of books read that end with a 6 in the page count: 14

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Number of posts in 2014: 139

Number of reviews posted this year: 33 reviews – see them here!

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First post of 2014: Not only my first post of 2014, but my first post ever!

First review of 2014: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord – read it here

Last post of 20145th Annual End of Year Book Survey – 2014 Edition

Last review of 2014: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – read it here

Least coherent review: I have no idea! You tell me!

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Review with the most views: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard – read it here

Post with the most comments: Fangirl Giveaway – read it here

Post you wish you could re-write: I don’t want to say…cause I don’t want you to go look at it. LOL! I liked the content, it’s just the format/design that I look back at and cringe!

Most popular post this year: My Best of 2014 Book Giveaway post received the most views – read it here

Thanks so much for reading you guys! I had an epic year of reading in 2014 and I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for me! Have a great weekend everyone!