Top Ten Tuesday: Memorable Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is opening lines. I’m not someone who typically remembers first lines of a book, so I don’t have ten that really stick out to me. As a result, here are four opening lines from books that I remember, for better or worse:

Conrad Richter: The Light in the Forest (Paperback); 2004 Edition ...

The boy was fifteen.

Conrad Richter, A Light in the Forest

I remember this quote distinctly because it was the first line in a book that I didn’t enjoy that we read in eighth grade and somehow I knew that I wouldn’t like it from the first line. When someone asks me about a first line that I remember, I always think of this one because it takes me back to how I felt when I read this book in eighth grade.

Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

This is a quote that I remember, with a much more positive association from the first one on my list. I read Pride in Prejudice (also in eighth grade for a classical book report) and since then have read numerous retellings of this story that always play on this quote in some way.

Romeo and Juliet

Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene…

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

In some schools, students memorize The Gettysburg Address. In my school, every ninth grader memorized the prologue of Romeo and Juliet and had to say it in front of the entire class. To this day, I can still quote the entire prologue to this play. As awful as reciting to the entire class sounds, I actually really enjoyed reading this play in school since I was chosen to read as Juliet in class.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.

Veronica Roth, Divergent

I couldn’t quote this line directly, but somehow years later, I still remember this opening scene from Divergent.

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Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition (Part One)

In December, my blog will reach its five year anniversary. Since I started my blog back in 2015, I’ve only done one slight redesign, where I slightly changed the colors and added a few pictures to the homepage. Now, five years later, those pictures are outdated as well as the theme.

With the current state of the world, a lot of people are doing home improvement projects that they never had the time to do otherwise. For me, I decided to do my renovations online by sprucing up my blog.

This is what my blog looked like pre-makeover. At the top, there is a polaroid banner with pictures of me throughout the yea, followed by my blog name. I have a primary menu bar that is pink with a plain teal background. On the side, I have a search bar as a widget because the Sela theme did not have a search bar at the top. Underneath, there is an old picture of me with a short introduction.

Not only are these pictures of me outdated, but the bright colors are no longer my style. Additionally, when I started making my blog, I used PicMonkey to make the Polaroids. Then, I had to switch over to Canva after PicMonkey was no longer free. This made the Polaroids different sizes with different fonts and pictures, which I didn’t like.

In the first image, you can see that each blog post started with a polaroid picture that classified what kind of post it was. At the end of each post, I included my signature as well as images that linked to my social media. This ending for each post was particularly difficult when WordPress switched over to the block style, as my images would not go next to each other. This made the ending of my blog posts extremely long, which I did not like.

What do I want my blog to look like?

This is the first question that I asked myself. I knew that I wanted my blog to look more like my current style. While I didn’t want a completely neutral block, I wanted more muted colors than before. I also wanted my blog to mimic my current style.

During Christmas, I received an iPad as a gift. I’ve been playing around with the ProCreate app since Christmas and I knew that I wanted to incorporate some of my own designs. After I looked on TikTok for ProCreate Inspiration, I found a tutorial on how to make a marble pattern, which I could potentially use as a background or other artwork for my blog.

Here is some artwork that I created for my blog using Canva. I put my marble image in the back and then layered the text using different colors.

Next, I used Canva, an online design website, to enhance the images by adding text. I also created a star pattern that I could possibly use in some capacity on my blog.

What WordPress theme should I use?

I have used the Sela theme ever since I started my blog, but I no longer wanted the bulky color block for my primary menu on the homepage. I tested out themes over and over with my marble background, but I just didn’t like any of them. Luckily, WordPress had the try and customize feature so I could test what my blog looked like before I applied to the actual page.

Eventually, I found Nucleare which is a free theme on WordPress.

Why did I like the Nucleare theme?

  • You can justify the background to one side. This helps your text in your right menu still be visible, as the menu background is transparent.
  • It has a search bar at the top right. I have always like search bar to be at the top, which wasn’t in my current theme, where I had to add a widget instead.
The marble background made the text too difficult to read.

As you can see, the background tiles, which I don’t like because my image doesn’t smoothly duplicate and you can see the tiles. Also, the side menu is transparent and it makes it difficult to see the text in the menu.

I decided to switch it up. Maybe my star design could be the background and my marble design could be the accent instead.

The star background, justified to the left, added an extra touch without making the text difficult to read.

I liked how the star image looked justified to the right of the background, so I decided to keep it.

Next, I wanted to change the text. I struggled to scroll through the texts available, for some reason the bar wouldn’t appear on me the side to scroll. But, it was all okay because I knew immediately that Lobster Two looked like the funky font that I wanted.

Decluttering the Sidebar

With my base all set, now I needed to focus on cleaning up my sidebar. On my original sidebar, I had a search feature. Since the Nucleare theme already has a search bar at the top, I deleted it.

Next, I needed to update my picture. My old picture was from my sophomore year of college, a few months before I started my blog. I found a more recent picture of myself and used a frame on Canva to crop it into a circle. I added the stars on top from my background to carry on the theme. Instead, I have the category drop down in its place.

My new bio picture on my home page with my star theme

Moving on, I removed my bio from underneath my picture to clear up the space. In its place, I decided to put social media icons that link to my social media accounts.

Like on my old home page, I kept my currently reading widget from Goodreads as well as my Instagram widget, current posts, and subscription box. I’m still debating whether or not to keep the Instagram widget.

My new side bar

Now what?

With my homepage completely updated, it was time to update the pages in my main sidebar. Stay tuned for next week to see the updated pages!

When was the last time that you updated the appearance of your blog?

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen Review

The story is… I love this book!

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen follows Emma Saylor after her father remarries several years after her mother passed away and he goes on his honeymoon. When Emma’s plans fall through of where to stay for the summer, she ends up at the lake where her mother grew up with family she hasn’t seen since childhood.

The Rest of the Story

Even though I bought this book when it was released, I put off reading it. While I loved Sarah Dessen’s books in high school, I haven’t been impressed with her most recent releases, especially the one before this book, Once and For All. That being said, The Rest of the Story took me back to the classic Sarah Dessen writing that I knew and loved so long ago.

One aspect of a classic Sarah Dessen book is a well-rounded cast of characters and this book was no exception. Emma has a large family in this book, but each character has their own distinct personality, although these personalities may resemble other characters in past Sarah Dessen books. I especially loved getting to know the characters on the North Lake side of the lake because all of these characters were so realistic to the setting where they lived.

Another one of my favorite aspects of Sarah Dessen’s books are they may seem like they are about nothing because the plot is very reflective of someone’s everyday life, but really they are about everything with the metaphors that she creates. Every Sarah Dessen story has some sort of lesson, which may annoy some readers, but I actually enjoy. The message in this book, as well as some aspects of the plot, reminded me a lot of one of my favorite Dessen books, The Truth About Forever.

For me, one of the factors that really sells a book is the emotional connection. Without it, I rarely give a book five stars unless I find it technically well done. With The Rest of the Story, I really related to the main character, Emma Saylor. Young adult books are successful when they capture universal feelings at that time so you can relate to the story no matter when you read it, and for me, Saylor’s actions and feelings reminded me so much of myself, it was hard not to get invested in the story.

One aspect of the book that was a little out of place to me was the ending. Dessen often does a great job of foreshadowing some aspect of the ending and that certainly was there. At the same time, the last big part of the book, which takes place during a storm that comes out of nowhere, felt a little out of place in the novel. I get the purpose that it served in the novel, and I suppose it was briefly foreshadowed at the beginning of the book, but it just seemed so different than the rest of the book to me. However, this was incredibly minor to me and because of all the reasons I mentioned above, it didn’t greatly hinder my reading experience.

As I was reading this book, I didn’t want it to end because I just wanted to stay with these characters longer. I think this is one of those books that I read just at the right time for me. This is definitely one of my favorite books that I read this year so far, so it is no surprise that I am giving it five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons Why I Love The Hunger Games

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is why I love _____. Since it is the release day for the latest release in The Hunger Games series, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I thought that I would list all of the reasons that I love the original series. Here are my reasons:

  • It was one of the first dystopian/fantasy books that I enjoyed.

Before The Hunger Games, I strictly read contemporary, aside from The Magic Tree House when I was in elementary school. I picked up The Hunger Games on a whim after I saw it on the shelves of a bookstore and thought it sounded interesting. I read the first book as soon as I got home… and then went and bought the next two books in the series the next day because I needed to know how the story ended. I have never read a series as quickly as I read The Hunger Games.

  • It is one of the first times that I really bought into the “fandom” of a series.

I was never a Twilight girl or a Mortal Instruments girl. I loved books, but I was never swept up into buying merchandise for books or being so excited for a book-to-movie adaptation that I waited outside the theater for hours. With The Hunger Games, that all changed. It was so cool to see so many people who liked the same thing as I did.

  • It was the only midnight premiere that I ever attended.

I never attended a midnight premiere for a movie until The Hunger Games. I remember waiting until tickets appeared online and buying them for the first showing at my movie theater. Then, I remember seeing how people were lining up hours before the movie started and rushing to the movie theater to make sure I got the best seat with my sister. It was the first time that I saw people actually dress up as book characters!

  • Finnick Odair… that’s it.

Finnich Odair was and will always be one of my biggest book crushes. I absolutely loved Finnick from the moment he was introduced on the page. I recently saw a tweet that talked about how smart Suzanne Collins was when she introduced him by highlighting how Katniss would never see him as a romantic interest which completely goes against the typical character arc for a character like Finnick in YA fiction.

  • It was the first young adult series that I loved.

Before The Hunger Games, I didn’t really read series since my younger years with Magic Tree House or The Babysitter’s club. Instead, I usually opted for stand-alone books. However, The Hunger Games introduced me to other dystopian series, like Divergent.

  • It gave me a character to dress up for Halloween… several times.

I have dressed up as Katniss so many times for Halloween that I can’t even count. I remember the first time that I dressed up as Katniss, before the movie even came out, when I made my own Mockingjay pin since there was so merch available yet.

  • The book-to-movie adaptations were well done.

I love the movie adaptations of The Hunger Games, especially the casting. Sometimes, the movie helped me enjoy or understand aspects of the books that I didn’t like, for example, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Mockingjay books and actually preferred the movies.

  • It has some of the best pacing that I’ve ever read.

The Hunger Games is the embodiment of the phrase “page-turner.” Everything that happens motivates readers to keep reading. Suzanne Collins plotted The Hunger Games in such a smart way that I could only hope to aspire to in my own writing.

  • It had some of my favorite bookish merch.

Like I mentioned earlier, The Hunger Games was the first “fandom” that I actually participated in. As a result, I ended up with A LOT of Hunger Games merchandise that I either bought or was given as a gift. I had my own mockingjay pin, a shirt, a blanket, a board game, and nail polish to represent my favorite districts. While I was never a person with my walls covered in posters, this was a lot for me.

  • It helps me write my own books.

The Hunger Games is often used a model for writing a book because it perfectly follows three-act structure. Looking at how the plot of The Hunger Games is constructed has helped me and many other aspiring writers to organize our projects!

Will you be reading the newest Hunger Games book?

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Book Haul: May 2020

With physical locations of libraries still closed around me, I’m finding myself buying more and more new releases. The end of April and the beginning of May were no exception. There were four releases, one at the end of April, two at the beginning of May, and one in the middle of May, that I couldn’t help but buy for my Kindle. Here’s what I bought:

  • Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Time of Our Lives

I read the first two books by this author duo earlier this year and really enjoyed them. I’m hoping that this pair will be come auto-buy authors for me in the contemporary genre. As a result, I ordered Time of Our Lives for my Kindle. I’m crossing my fingers that third time’s the charm!

Time of Our Lives follows Fitz and Juniper, who are both going on college tours. While Fitz dreads college because his mother has Alzheimer’s, Juniper can’t wait to get some space from her large family. When their paths cross, their decisions have the potential to change their lives forever.

  • The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
The Betrothed (The Betrothed, #1)

For me, The Selection was a fun and easy to read series, although not exactly dystopian as the synopsis promised. Likewise, I expect The Betrothed to be a fun read with slightly historical elements. With The Bachelorette gone for this May, I had to find a replacement for my favorite show. The Betrothed came at the perfect time for me, so it is no surprise that I pre-ordered it.

The Betrothed follows Hollis, who always dreamed to marry the prince of her kingdom… until it happens. Now, Hollis finds herself attracted to a commoner. Will Hollis stay with the future that she always wanted or the future that she never thought possible?

  • Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

I read Aurora Rising earlier this year and I was surprised by how much I loved it. Needless to say, I am excited for the next book in this series (especially after that ending!) to see where the story goes so I had to pre-order it. Like with Aurora Rising, I don’t know much about what is going to happen in this book, all I know is that I am excited to read one of my favorite tropes: a ragtag group of heroes.

Aurora Burning is the second book in the Aurora Cycle series. In this book, the GIA agents are still trying to capture Aurora. Also, from the description, it seems like we’re going to learn more about Kal’s family and the Syldrathi army.

  • A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)

I actually pre-ordered the physical copy of this book awhile ago when I ordered my Lara Jean and Peter Funko Pop’s from Barnes and Noble. I needed another item to get free shipping and I remembered that the newest book in one of my favorite series was releasing this year. This book has already generated some controversy, so I’m excited to see what angle Suzanne Collins takes in this book.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows Coriolanus Snow, the future leader of the Capitol, as he becomes a mentor in The Hunger Games.

What were your recent book purchases?

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Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books that I Abandoned

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is the last 10 books that I abandoned. A lot of readers struggled to DNF a book to remove a book from their TBR. In the past, I was one of those readers 🙋. After last year where I struggled through a MAJOR reading slump, I’ve become more inclined to drop a book if I’m not interested in favor of a book that I feel good about reading. Now, it is time to visit my Kindle graveyard of unfinished books. Here are the last 9 books that I abandoned:

  • American Panda by Gloria Chao
American Panda

If you have seen my Currently Reading on Goodreads for the past year, American Panda has probably been on it for that long. I got about 40% of the way through American Panda…. then I never picked it up again. Initially, I was excited for this book because few young adult novels venture into college territory. That being said, this book read like every other young adult novel that I’ve ever read and I didn’t feel motivated to continue the story. While I hope to finish this book one day, which is why I keep it on my currently reading on Goodreads, I’m not sure that I ever will.

American Panda follows Mei, who starts college early on the track to become a doctor as a result of pressure from her parents. However, on her own, Mei may choose a different path.

  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)

There was so much hype for this book online that I decided to purchase it when it appeared as a Kindle deal. Like with American Panda, I made it about 40% through the book. Unlike American Panda where I didn’t necessarily like it or dislike it, I wasn’t not liking this book at all. I found the characters to be completely inconsistent, bouncing from loving each other one minute to completely despising each other the next without rhyme or reason. Like with American Panda, I want to finish this book because I’m about halfway done, but I really don’t think I can finish this one.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown follows Chloe who creates a “get a life” list after a near-death experience.

  • Out of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee
Out of Left Field

This is another book that I purchased as a Kindle deal. I didn’t know much about this book when I purchased it, but it seemed like a fun contemporary which is right up my alley. Additionally, before all sports were called off, I wanted to get more into baseball this year. Like with American Panda, this book just read like many other YA books. Nothing stood out to me which would convince me to keep reading.

Out of Left Field follows Marnie, who trains with her boy best friend to take his place on the baseball team after his season-ending injury.

  • The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
The Fountains of Silence

I read two books by this author back in high school and I enjoyed them. However, when I have tried to read her most recent releases, the stories haven’t grabbed me. With The Fountains of Silence, I have requested this book so many times from the library… just for two weeks to pass without picking it up. While I’ve heard great reviews for this book, historical fiction is one of my least read genres, so I have to be in a very specific mood to read it.

The Fountains of Silence follows Daniel, an aspiring photographer, who meets a girl and her family still grappling with the effects of the Spanish Civil War.

  • The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga, #1)

I started to read this book through my local library’s online collection after I was craving more fantasy. I got about 14% through this book before I put it down. I was incredibly confused at the get go about what was going on in the story and whose point of view I was following. Since I didn’t buy this book, I don’t feel like I need to read this book even though I started it, so this is one book on my list that is definitely abandoned.

The Blacksmith Queen follows Keely, a blacksmith caught in the middle of a war.

  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I’ve tried to read a few books by Maurene Goo, but I just can’t get into them. I know that a lot of people enjoy her books, and when I read the synopsis, I am really interested. In this particular book, which I almost made it halfway through, I remember that it really bothered me that this main character who readers are told is very smart and put-together completely loses all of her sensibilities when a guy shows her attention.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love follows Desi Lee who uses inspiration from Korean dramas to get her first boyfriend.

  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1)

After reading Brigid Kemmerer’s contemporary books, I was excited to read a book in a different genre by her. Like with many of the books on this list, I got about halfway through before I abandoned it. This was a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, and for me, I have read many retellings of this story that I enjoyed much more.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely follows modern-day Harper who ends up in a fantasy world under a curse. There, she meets Prince Rhen who must reverse the curse by his eighteenth birthday in order to save his kingdom.

  • Stay with Me by Mila Gray
Stay With Me (Come Back to Me, #2)

This was another book that I picked up on a whim as a Kindle daily deal. I’m not a huge fan of books that strictly deal with difficult topics and I tend to gravitate towards more light-hearted contemporaries, which is probably why I abandoned this book.

Stay With Me follows Didi who interns at a military hospital and becomes drawn towards Noel, who was wounded during his service in an attack that left several of his fellow soldiers dead.

  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is another book by Ruta Sepetys on this list. Unlike The Fountains of Silence, I did actually start to read this one, but put it down. In Salt to the Sea there are several points of view, which I struggled to keep track of due to the opening of the story. I understand why Ruta Sepetys shifted perspectives so frequently in the beginning because it shows the chaos and confusion that the characters face as they escape their dire situations. At the same time, I was so confused that I just couldn’t push forward.

Salt to the Sea follows several characters as they flee to the ill-fated Wilhelm Gustloff in order to escape the Soviet Army during World War II.

What books have you recently abandoned?

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My #YallStayHome (Online Y’All West) Experience: Day One

On Twitter a couple of week ago, I saw that someone retweeted about how Y’All Fest would take place online this year due to the current state of the United States and coronavirus. Even though it is disappointing that the authors and attendees couldn’t gather in person, moving the event online opened up the panels to people who otherwise couldn’t go, including myself.

Whenever I see people go to book festivals or events with their favorite authors, I wish that I could be there too. However, my location doesn’t really have many book festivals or author visits in general. Especially with Y’All West, which is held in Santa Monica, this is an event that I probably wouldn’t be able to attend in-person.

After reading more about the event, I decided to register for the panels that most interested me online. For each panel, attendees were given a Zoom link, which I placed onto my Google calendar. While I was slightly worried about the Zoom calls, it ended up presented as a webinar with only the panelists abled to be viewed and their comments only to be seen in the chat feature. Each panel was about 40 minutes long. Here’s what I watched on the first day:

Opening Ceremony and Teanote AM Keynote

The event kicked off with an opening Keynote from the creators of Y’All West, Melissa de la Cruz (Descendents, Alex and Eliza) and Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures, Royce Rolls). I’ve read books by both of these authors, but I didn’t know that they created this event that I had heard about through book blogging. This opening keynote, moderated by Raphael Simon focused on the authors shared love of Little Women, which inspired them to write their own take on the story, the upcoming Jo & Laurie.

Melissa and Margaret upped the fun by donning bonnets and adding quaint houses onto the backgrounds of the screen. It made me smile when they said they felt like sisters while writing Jo & Laurie, like getting frustrated when the other would write over a line that they really enjoyed. I also enjoyed how they talked about their book and how different adaptations from the original story can make you feel different ways about the characters and their choices.

Modern Magic Worldbuilding

The next panel that I watched was the Modern Magic Worldbuilding panel. This panel was moderated by Ransom Riggs and was made up of Melissa Albert (The Hazelwood), Francesca Flores (Diamond City), Adalyn Grace (All the Stars and Teeth), Frances Hardinge (Deeplight), Margaret Rogerson (An Enchantment of Ravens), and Tracy Wolff (Crave).

The Modern Magic Worldbuilding focused a lot on how fantasy authors take inspiration from the real world and the implications of the world current state on how people view fantasy. My favorite part of this panel was when the authors discussed how they created their own fantasy worlds. I especially liked one comment by Tracy Wolff. She mentioned how when she’s writing, she always thinks that maybe she should use someone else’s process because it doesn’t seem like her process is good enough. However, you are stuck with your process, so no matter how different it may be from someone else’s, your process is what will work for you.

PJ Cosplay: Middle Grade Truth or Dare

This panel was moderated by Brendan Reichs and featured Elise Allen (Gabby Duran and the Unsittables), Ally Condie (The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe), Shannon Hale (Real Friends), Carlos Hernandez (Sal and Gabi Break the Universe), and Holly Goldberg Sloan (Counting by 7s). While this event usually only features dares because of the format of this year’s event, all of the questions were truth questions which I really enjoyed.

This was definitely one of my favorite panels of the day. Brendan Reichs was a hilarious moderator and it was fun that all of the authors dressed in their pajamas (I loved Shannon Hale’s Rainbow Dash onesie!). One of the aspects of this panel that I really liked was they took a lot of audience questions, which I didn’t necessarily see in my first two panels of the day. There were also a lot of authors that I have read and enjoyed like Shannon Hale, Ally Condie, and Holly Goldberg Sloan, so it was fun learning more about them as people than just reading their books.

Facing the Enemy: Hope, War, & Revolution

The next panel that I visited was full of authors with books that focus on characters who start revolutions. This panel was moderated by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen) and included Danielle Paige (Stealing Snow), Victoria Lee (The Electric Heir), Hafsah Faizal (We Hunt the Flame), Isabel Ibanez (Woven in Moonlight), and Jordan Ifueko (Raybearer).

For me, the most interesting aspect of this panel was the authors explaining what they pulled from real life to inspire their books, but also how their books unintentionally ended up mirroring what was going on in real life.

This American Experience

After the Facing the Enemy panel, I stopped by The American Experience panel. This panel was moderated by Lauren Myracle (This Boy), Jennifer de Leon (Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From), Angie Thomas (On the Come Up), George M. Johnson (Not All Boys are Blue), Natasha Diaz (Color Me In), and Bill Konigsberg (The Bridge). 

This panel was definitely the most controversial of the day, due to the panel’s moderator, Lauren Myracle. While I was extremely interested in hearing more about the experiences of the author’s on this panel and how their experiences inspired their books, it is a shame that the attention has been taken away from these authors due to the actions of the moderator. For example, during the panel, author Jennifer de Leon, author of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, was literally asked where she was from. Y’All Fest has since apologized for this panel (although they didn’t name specifics in their apology) and rescheduled the panel with Nic Stone as the moderator for a later date and time.

PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson

The next event that I visited was a PM Keynote with fantasy author Brandon Sanderson with an introduction by Melissa de la Cruz. Brandon Sanderson spoke about his experience with writing, from when he was in high school and up until his publication. Brandon Sanderson was completely honest about his writing journey and how his goals changed as he continued writing (13 books!) before he was eventually published. This keynote gave hope to aspiring writers, but also gave some hard truths about pursuing a creative career and having luck in the publishing industry. This keynote also included a guest appearance by his pet macaw, Magellan, who was absolutely adorable.

YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown

The final event of the night was the YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown hosted by Angie Thomas aka Dumbledope and Nic Stone aka Snape Dogg. Angie and Nic, as well as several authors from the panels throughout the day, competed in different activities like an interactive fill-in-the-blanks game where the audience could vote on the choices, Author Cribs (like the old MTV show), and pet roast (where they complimented other author’s pets).

I really liked this event because it really showed off the authors’ personalities and gave you a more personal look at their lives. It made me feel better to see other people have messy rooms and to see all of their cute pets. Angie Thomas and Nic Stone were great hosts together and even took the event an extra mile by dressing up and using British accents.

Stay tuned to hear about the panels I watched on Day Two!

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Bookshelf Tour: May 2020

The last time I updated my bookshelf was all the way back in February for Valentine’s Day (see my Valentine’s Day themed bookshelf here), so it was time to make some changes. As we approach warmer months where I lived, I wanted to give my bookshelf a spring feel. Here’s how I decorated:

On my pastel book shelf, I decided to keep Lara Jean and Peter from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before near the white/pink books. I think Lara Jean’s outfit still fits with the spring, however, I will probably switch these Funko Pops out once summer hits. On the right, I added three new Tsum Tsums. All of these Tsum Tsums are characters from A Bug’s Life. There are so many bugs starting to make an appearance where I live, I thought it would be fun to add some cute critters to my bookshelf.

For my yellow, orange, and red shelf, I decided to go with a Sleeping Beauty theme. When I think of Sleeping Beauty, I think of the fairies which reminds me of spring. Even though I do have some Aurora Tsum Tsums, I decided to only stick with the fairy plushes and to add a Funko to balance out the shelf better.

Next, I have my green, purple, and blue shelf. Like always, I have my little ceramic stereo on the left. Recently, I have started putting my bookmarks into this decoration so they are easy to find, rather than searching through books or using a scrap of paper. While it’s never really mattered to me how I mark my place in a book, I thought it would be a good way to get use out of bookmarks that I rarely use.

On the right, I have some of my Peter Pan Tsum Tsums. I put these on my bookshelf because I am a special education teacher and in one of the classes where I push-in the students are currently reading Peter Pan. Usually, the ELA teacher decorates the classroom to look like Neverland to celebrate the first novel that my students ever reading in their academic careers, but since we cannot be in the school building right now, I thought I would have my own little celebration on my bookshelf.

On my silver/brown/black shelf, I have my Tsum Tsum speaker which I always keep on my book shelf. On the right, I put my Sandy and Danny Funko Pops. Sandy is wearing her end-of-the-movie outfit which I thought would be perfect as we near the end of the school year. Danny and Sandy are also standing in front of my Grease DVD, which for some reason, I keep on my bookshelf.

On my final bookshelf, I have my Moana scene. On the top, I do have a Minnie Tsum Tsum that I always keep on my bookshelf because it makes noises and if I stored it with my other Tsum Tsums, I am afraid it would hit something, make noise, and freak me out.

On the left, I have my baby Moana Funko Pop that I got on sale at a temporary Christmas store in the mall a long time ago. On the right, I have some of my Moana Tsum Tsums, which includes, Pua, Hei Hei, and Maui.

How have you decorated your bookshelves recently?

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Top Ten Tuesday: What I Would Have at my Bookish Party

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is things that I would have at my bookish party. I think you could take this prompt many ways: a party with your bookish friends? A party to celebrate your favorite book? For me, I took it as what things from books would I use if I was throwing a party. Here are my choices:

  • Mad Hatter’s Table from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)

Alice in Wonderland parties always look cool and Mad Hatter’s table would be a great addition to any party. Not only does it seat many people, but it is also an aesthetic. Mismatched chairs? Check. Everyone gets their own teapot? Check. We’re good.

  • Pizza from Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Saint Anything

I love pizza so obviously it needs to make an appearance at my bookish party. I would love pizza from the family-owned restaurant in Saint Anything because the descriptions in that book literally made my mouth water. Plus, everyone knows family-owned pizza shops are the best.

  • Nico’s from Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally
Four Days of You and Me

I’m also a huge fan of Italian food and family-owned restaurants as I previously mentioned. Plus, I could meet Alex’s adorable grandparents if they catered my party which would be a plus.

  • Big League Burgers from Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Tweet Cute

Although I love family-owned restaurants, I still have a soft spot for fast food. Big League Burgers could bring some well-loved favorite to my party as well as some amazing milkshakes.

  • Girl Cheesing from Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Tweet Cute

If Big League Burgers would be in attendance at my party, you know Girl Cheesing would have to be there too. Could a food fight between these two rivals spontaneously break out any minute? Maybe. But just like the Twitter accounts of these two businesses, I I could count on my party going viral.

  • Guests from 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
10 Blind Dates

A party isn’t a party unless you have people there. I would totally invite Sophie’s family from 10 Blind Dates. Not only are there so many of them, but they are also so much fun… just don’t set me up for any blind dates to this party.

  • Floral Arrangements and Outfits from Maybe This Time by Kasie West
Maybe This Time

Sophie has style and I need decorations and an outfit for my party. She definitely does well with inspiration from flowers, so I know that I could have a very colorful dress.

  • Performances from Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberely and Austin Siegemund-Brocka
Always Never Yours

What’s a party without some entertainment? The drama department from Always Never Yours knows how to put on a show. Maybe, I could even finally see the finished product of Owen’s play that he was working on in this story.

  • Music from On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
On the Come Up

If you’re having a party, you need music for people to dance. Bri from On the Come Up could provide some cool music that would get everybody out on the dance floor.

What would you have at a bookish party?

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May TBR

I am so excited to start my reading month for May because I have two new books to read by authors that I really enjoy. Both of these books are new releases in 2020 and both will count towards my 20 books to read in 2020 list (one book on the original list has a release date change, so I am making a substitution). Here’s what I plan to read:

  • Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Time of Our Lives
Don’t you just love this cover?

Like with most books by the author duo, nothing about the plot really draws me in, despite my love of contemporaries. That being said, I did read the two books previously published by this author duo earlier this year despite my reservations and really enjoyed them, although I loved one a little bit more than the other. Since I enjoyed Always, Never, Yours and If I’m Being Honest so much, I high expectations for Time of Our Lives.

Time of Our Lives Fitz and Juniper, who are both going on college tours. While Fitz dreads college because his mother has Alzheimer’s, Juniper can’t wait to get some space from her large family. When their paths cross, their decisions have the potential to change their lives forever.

  • The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
The Betrothed (The Betrothed, #1)
This cover is so pretty too!

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass is the first book in a new historical romance series by the author of The Selection. The most popular series by this author is widely regarded as not the best written, but certainly entertaining. As a result, I don’t expect the most historically accurate story, but one filled drama and fluff.

The Betrothed follows Hollis, who always dreamed to marry the prince of her kingdom… until it happens. Now, Hollis finds herself attracted to a commoner. Will Hollis stay with the future that she always wanted or the future that she never thought possible?

What books do you plan to read in May?

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