Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This Adventure Ends Blog Tour | This Adventure Inspires

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 with

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the This Adventure Ends blog tour to celebrate the release of Emma Mills's sophomore novel This Adventure Ends

For the blog tour, a number of us participants were given a mini easel and we're supposed to decorate it according to the theme of our choosing. Mine is This Adventure Inspires and I went with "inspire" because it's one of my favorite words of all time. Inspire means (according to Oxford Dictionary) "to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially something creative." Such an amazing word!

Here's what I came up with.

This Adventure Inspires
My little creation is inspired by a quilt pattern that I love called "storm at sea"--google it and see how the pattern looks as a whole. My little easel is just a small portion of it.  I used a combination of sharpies and watercolor pencils to make it.

I am inspired by patterns. I love looking at quilt patterns, tile, mosaic, wallpaper, needlepoint... I can spend hours poring over different patterns.

So, what does this have to do with This Adventure Ends?

Well, in the novel our main character Sloane is looking for a painting that was painted by her new friends' mom, who died two years ago.

Here's more information about This Adventure Ends.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I am currently reading This Adventure Ends and it's so good! I'm halfway done and have a feeling Emma Mills will be joining my list of favorite contemporary authors. I will be reviewing This Adventure Ends on a different day, so you can read my full thoughts about the novel then.

For more info about This Adventure Ends, you can stop by Macmillan's page or chat with the author on Twitter.

Happy reading,

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the Reading Without Walls Blog Tour. I really, really enjoyed the first two books in the Secret Coders graphic novel series and, as an elementary school librarian, I'll definitely adding this series to our graphic novel collection. Read on for my complete thoughts about Secret Coders (book 1) and Secret Coders: Paths and Portals (book 2). And, as a bonus, another fantastic STEM title.

Publisher: FirstSecond
Pages: 96 pages
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!

Publisher: FirstSecond
Pages: 96 pages
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
There's something lurking beneath the surface of Stately Academy—literally. In a secret underground classroom Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the campus was once home to the Bee School, an institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper and her friends are eager to follow in this tradition and become top-rate coders. But why are Principal Dean and the rugby team suddenly so interested in their extracurricular activities?

I read Secret Coders and Secret Coders: Paths and Portals one right after the other, so I'm just going to reading the first two books in the series as a whole.

When I was first contacted about the Secret Coders series, I jumped at the chance right away. A STEM graphic novel series? I needed to check it out--not only do I need to build my school library's STEM collection and I'm always on the look out for books for reluctant readers, but it's by Gene Luen Yang so I knew that the story was going to be good. And I was right.
Hopper just moved to a new town with her mom, and now has to go to prestigious Stately Academy. Hopper hates her new school, but she can tell right away that there's something mysterious and creepy about it. After a rough start, she became friends with two boys, Eni and Josh. Through cleverness and their growing knowledge of coding, they piece together clues to solve the mystery of Stately Academy.

I absolutely love how the authors approached coding. When I used to think of coding, I picture a jumble of nonsense commands that I have no hope of ever deciphering and I think a lot of students also have that idea and are intimidated. In Secret Coders, they made coding so accessible to kids (and adults!), explaining how to create a program step by step--building on a simple program to create a more complex one as different types of commands are introduced. Then, they go over different types of program and actually showing what each step looks like and it makes sense! Another thing I love is how Hopper's character (our narrator) invites and encourages the reader to try and create their own program to solve the puzzle. I can see a few of my students actually stop reading and work out the puzzle.

I also enjoyed the fact that despite the graphic novel's emphasis on coding, it didn't loose the overall story and mystery that kept things entertaining and kept me reading because I wanted to know answers. Hopper had a couple of secondary story lines (her missing dad, her relationship with her mom, basketball) also that gives her character dimension. I love that our main character is a girl who can hold her own with the boys. There's also humor involved, especially between Hopper and Josh, who both started off on the wrong foot.

The only reason I didn't give it the full five stars was because of the art. The drawing style is fine--I wasn't in love with it but it's fine. Actually, it sort of reminds me of Phineas and Ferb, but it's done in black, white, and green. This is completely personal, but I would've preferred it full color.

The Secret Coders series is definitely one to include in your order list, or to your to-read list. It's a really fun series, and it gets students to think about coding in an easy and accessible way. Also, this series is perfect to read before (as an intro to coding) or during Hour of Code. Highly recommended!


Publisher: FirstSecond
Pages: 240 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Welcome to the Human Body Theater, where your master of ceremonies is going to lead you through a theatrical revue of each and every biological system of the human body! Starting out as a skeleton, the MC puts on a new layer of her costume (her body) with each "act." By turns goofy and intensely informative, the Human Body Theater is always accessible and always entertaining.

Maris Wicks is a biology nerd, and by the time you've read this book, you will be too! Harnessing her passion for science (and her background as a science educator for elementary and middle-school students), she has created a comics-format introduction to the human body that will make an expert of any reader -- young or old!

Another great STEM graphic novel title is Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks. It was such a fun way to learn about every biological system in the human body--if I had this book when I was a student it would've made health and science a lot more interesting and I probably will remember more information than I did just reading from a boring text book. I just love how it presented the biological systems in such an entertaining and funny way.

I love the full-color art and the characters were drawn in such a cute and adorable way that you forget they don't actually look that cute in real-life.

Just like the Secret Coders series, I highly recommend Human Body Theater both as a librarian and as a reader. Students grades 3 and above will get a kick out of the illustrations and learning about the human body in such an entertaining and fun way. I'm definitely going to be looking into more works by Maris Wicks!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: n/a
A gun in a lake. A Missing mother. Ana is on the run. But from who?

Ana is not your typical teenager. She grew up in a tiny Mennonite colony in Bolivia, and her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now Ana and her father have also fled, and Ana doesn’t know why. She only knows that something was amiss in their tight-knit community. Arriving in Toronto, Ana has to fend for herself in this alien environment, completely isolated in a big city with no help and no idea where to even begin. But begin she does: she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the myriad unspoken codes and rules. She is befriended by a teacher. She goes to the library, the mall, parties. And all the while, she searches for the mother who left so long ago, and tries to understand her father—also a stranger in a strange land, with secrets of his own.

Once in a Town Called Moth intrigued me--a girl who moved from a Mennonite town in Bolivia to Toronto with her dad and she had to navigate through high school all the while looking for her missing mom who mysteriously disappeared when she was younger. While I didn't end up loving the novel, I still thought it was an interesting read.
One reason why Once in a Town Called Moth didn't quite work out for me, despite the very intriguing premise, was the slow pacing in the beginning. The story didn't grab me at first and I had to kind of make myself pick it up. I also wasn't the biggest fan of how the story alternates between Colony Felicidad (the Mennonite town in Bolivia Ana and her father were from) and Toronto. The Colony Felicidad chapters were told in Ana's first person point of view. These chapters were Ana's memories of the past. The Toronto chapters were told in Ana's third person point of view in the present time period. It took me a while to get used to the dual time periods and Ana's switching point of views, which felt jarring at times. Also, the first 50 pages or so, I had it in my head that the story was set in the 60s or 70s, and I constantly had to remind myself that the story is set in the present time--this was because we are seeing things through Ana's eyes and since she grew up in an isolated Mennonite town she had zero experiences with modern technology and conveniences. Through her perspective, it felt like the novel was set in the 60s at first. I did appreciate the fact that the novel is set in Canada and Bolivia--I found it refreshing and different since a lot of the novels I read is set in the US.

Ana felt alone and confused and lost in the big city--totally different from the small Mennonite town she came from. Her dad loves her but he's not an affectionate man, and she had to keep house while he goes out and works, which is not easy for a 14-year-old girl. Then, she started high school, which was a whole other world. She wasn't used to going to different classes with different teachers and having so many classmates when her whole life school was a one room building with with a small group of kids of all ages and always the same one teacher teaching everyone. She was able to quickly adapt and assimilate to her surroundings, though, especially after she made a friend in Suvi, a girl from her neighborhood. I did like Ana's character and could relate to her experiences of having to navigate through a new environment, but I didn't quite connect with her. 

The thing that kept me reading was the mystery of Ana's mom. I wanted to know what happened to her and was eager to know all the answers. Unfortunately, not all of my questions were answered in the end. After a slow paced beginning, things started happening quickly towards the end and then it just ended pretty abruptly.

Once in a Town Called Moth ended up being just an okay read for me. It wasn't a bad book, but it didn't quite grab me either. So, in my rating scale it fell in the middle--I liked it but I didn't love it. It was a quiet, kind of low-key novel, slow paced for the most part and nothing about it really sparked for me. I did enjoy the mystery but not everything was answered in the end. One thing I did really appreciate was learning more about the Mennonites (which I knew nothing about before reading this book), so that was a plus. And while I did like Ana's character, I couldn't quite connect with her all the way. If you enjoy coming of age stories with a little mystery set somewhere other than the US (in this case, Candada and Bolivia), Once in a Town Called Moth might be worth looking into and picking up.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the blog tour celebrating Roald Dahl's 100th birthday celebration. Roald Dahl's books were a huge part of my childhood so his books will always have a special place in my heart.

I think I've mentioned this on a previous post on this blog that English is not my first language. I was born in the Philippines and my family and I didn't move to Hawaii until I was nine years old. I understood English and was able to read in English very well, but I was very self-conscious about speaking in English. I was often made fun of for having an accent. So, I retreated by reading, and books became my safe place. This was when my love for reading grew and I couldn't read fast enough. I fell in love with fiction stories and until now still feel a very strong love for it that won't go away anytime soon.

Roald Dahl's books were some of the very first books I picked up during that time in my life. I don't remember which of his books I picked up first but I know I couldn't get enough of his books. They were magical, quirky and charming, and so very, very fun. My absolute favorites are Matilda, The BFG, and The Witches.

My task for the blog tour, which is put together by the wonderful peeps at Wunderkind PR, is to actually review his autobiography about his childhood called Boy. I am so thankful for the opportunity because somehow I missed reading Boy when I was a kid devouring his fiction books. I kept meaning to pick it up especially when an excerpt of it is read aloud in one of my all-time favorite movie You Got Mail, which I've watched a bajillion of times.

But instead of writing a typical review, I think it's better if I just tell you all 10 reasons why you should pick up Boy (if you haven't already).

1. Boy is just as magical, entertaining, fun, and readable as his fiction stories.

2. This is a must-read for Roald Dahl fans like myself. It was wonderful learning more about my favorite author and the people and experiences that influenced his life and works.

3. As I was reading, I would stop and be like, "okay, this person definitely inspired ___ character from ___ story" or "this experience clearly inspired him to write ___ story." It was fun trying to guess.

4. You can see how his childhood adventures shaped and influence his stories. You gain insight on where he got his idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

5. Boy tells of a much simpler time without the Internet and the technology we are so used to and heavily rely on today. It's nostalgic reading that way.

6. This book is very quotable. One of my favorites is: “We all have our moments of brilliance and glory, and this was mine.” [Which I hear all the time, whenever I watch my favorite movie You Got Mail, but it's still one of the best.]

7. I love the pictures and documents that were included. My favorite thing about biographies and autobiographies are the pictures and documents and would often flip through the book to look at them first (and I also did that here).

8. We also get a few illustrations by Quentin Blake peppered throughout and Blake's pictures just really go hand and hand with Roald Dahl.

9. It's a book for all ages. As a librarian, I think this book is a good one to use when doing a lesson on autobiographies. Younger readers may have questions, but it's a good class read or small group read with discussions on certain topics.

10. Okay, basically, Boy reads more like a Roald Dahl novel so even if you're not a fan of reading autobiographies/biographies/memoirs, you're going to enjoy this book.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Paperback: 382 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Hart's Boardwalk #1
While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her. Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for…

I've been meaning to read Samantha Young's On Dublin Street series for years. I bought all the books and I've even read a couple of the novellas. But it's another case of too many books too little time. So, The One Real Thing is actually my first full-length novel read by Ms. Young and I'm kinda kicking myself for not picking up a novel by her sooner because I absolutely enjoyed this book! 
The One Real Thing follows Dr. Jessica Huntington, a doctor currently working at a women's prison, and Cooper Lawson, a recently divorced bar owner who lives in a small coastal town of Hartwell. These two would never have met if it wasn't for Jessica discovering these letters written by a former inmate who had since died to a man who lived in Hartwell. Touched by the tragedy of these unmailed letters, Jessica decided to hand deliver them to their recipient. In Hartwell, she meets Cooper after being caught in a surprise downpour and there was an instant attraction between them.

However, something happened to Jessica and she doesn't let anybody get too close to her, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. She had this friends-with-benefits thing going on for a few years with a fellow doctor that kept her free and unattached, but she can still scratch that itch once a week. But, the longer she stayed in Hartwell, the more friends and connections she made with the locals, especially Bailey (the owner of the inn Jessica was staying at) and, of course, Cooper Lawson.

Cooper, in turn, also wasn't looking for a relationship. After he found his then-wife cheating on him with his best friend, he divorced her and was in no hurry to jump into a new relationship. That all changed when he met Jessica. He could tell she's different from any woman he had ever met, and he decided to pursue her.

Let me first talk about the town of Hartwell, because I want to live there. I've always been a sucker for small town romances and The One Real Thing definitely satisfied. I fell in love with the town along with Jessica. I loved meeting all townspeople, especially those who will potentially have books of their own book in the series like shy cafe/bookstore owner Emery, who I'm totally shipping with Jack Devlin, who was Cooper's best friend until he slept with Cooper's wife. His betrayal was unforgivable, but I'm ready to forgive him if there's a good explanation--we're certainly given hints that there might be more to the story about Jack. I know we're getting Bailey's story next and I'm so excited for that, especially because it's an enemies-to-lovers story because she's paired with her business rival. Then, there's Iris and Ira, an older, eccentric married couple who owns a restaurant next too Cooper's bar. They were a hoot! I love the small town atmosphere Ms. Young created and I'm looking forward to spending more time in Hartwell in the next book.

As for Jessica and Cooper, I liked both of them. I liked them separately and I rooted for them to be together. Their characters didn't bring anything new to the genre, or anything like that, but they were both very likable characters. I felt for Jessica when she realized how empty here life has been and it was great seeing her make those connections in Hartwell and seeing her grow as a person. Another thing I liked about Jessica's character was that she's not one of those romance heroines who haven't had sex in years and now the hero is going to come along and give her the best sex in her life, which I've noticed is so typical of romance heroines these days. Nope, Jessica has a fuck-buddy and get's regular sex before meeting Cooper and that's totally fine! A typical romance hero gets regular sex (and they don't have to be manwhorish about it), so why can't romance heroines? So, I really like that detail about Jessica. As for Cooper, he was a good guy who's hardworking and he cared for the people in his town. Basically, all the characters, main and secondary, were wonderful to read about all around and I wanted to be part of their town so I can be part of their circle.

I also really enjoyed the writing. We get Jessica's first person narrative and then the chapters switches to Cooper's third person narrative. I liked having both of their perspective. Ms. Young's writing was very readable, so it made it very easy for me to stay up late in the night or lingering in bed on Saturday morning turning pages. As for the plot, it's a familiar story of a woman who finds herself in a small town and falls in love, but it's really the characters who bring the story alive.

If you like small town romances, The One Real Thing is definitely one to check out and pick up. It was a thoroughly entertaining read, steamy, and I absolutely love the characters and looking forward to reading more about them and the town of Hartwell in the next book. 

Why did it feel like having sex had complicated things so much? Usually sex was complication-free for me.
But before that night I’d been completely sure that Cooper was interested in exploring something more with me, and now I was freaking out that his interest would wane now that he’d had me.
I shook my head slowly. “No. It was good.”
He scowled, his arms tightening around me so much there wasn’t an inch of space between us. “It was better than fucking good, Jessica.”
I scowled back and pushed at his chest for some breathing space. “Well, I’m sure you’d know all about that.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“You use the word ‘fuck’ a lot.”
“It’s a good fucking word.”
I was tempted to laugh at how disgruntled he sounded and he seemed to catch my amusement because his hold on me eased.
“What’s going on in your head, Jess?”
I thought about evading this conversation. I’d never had to have an adult, open conversation with a man about sex. However, I realized, somewhat reluctantly, if I wanted something more with Cooper Lawson I was going to have to give him more than I was used to giving.
I couldn’t change his past, but I could figure out what it was he wanted in the future by just being honest and asking the question.
“You still want something with me, right? This”—I gestured behind me to the table—“it wasn’t just about sex.”
“No,” he said. “It’s not just about sex.”
As I heaved a sigh of relief, he let go of my waist to cup my face in his hands, dipping his head down to mine so our noses almost touched. He stared deep into my eyes and I shivered. I felt like he was trying to see right into my soul.
“I’m in this for the long haul, Doc. I was before you walked into my bar tonight, but now, after the best fucking sex of my life, after how wild that was, there’s no way I’m letting you walk out of here without me.”
And there he went doing it again.
His words resonated deep within me along with giving me that deep, sexual belly flip of arousal.
My fingers curled into the top of his biceps. “Best sex of my life, too,” I murmured. “It stunned me a little. Confused me . . . I thought maybe . . . you . . . this was old hat for you . . .”
He gave me a crooked grin. “You think I make a habit of fucking women in my bar.”
“You could,” I said. “You are definitely a man who could pull that off.”
Cooper threw his head back in laughter and I pressed my body deeper into his to feel his joy.
And then he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me.
Just as I’d suspected, he was a really good hugger.
When he pulled back he was smiling gently at me. “You’re the only woman I’ve had in my bar.” He let me go only to take my hand in his. “No one sits at that table anymore.” He gestured to the scene of the best sex we’d both ever had. “It’s now a shrine.”
“You can’t do that!” I was mortified at the possibility of people finding out why there was a table in Cooper Lawson’s bar that no one was allowed to sit at.
“I can. It’s my bar. I think I’ll even carve ‘Coop and Doc were here’ on it.”
Finally getting that he was joking, I made a face. “Funny.”
“You’re slow on the uptake tonight,” he teased.
“My brain was just frazzled by the orgasm to beat all orgasms.”
He squeezed my hand. “You up for more brain frazzling?”
I shivered at the thought. “Definitely.”
His eyes darkened. “Let’s go back to my place.”
Exhilarated by the prospect, I followed him, and it wasn’t until we’d stepped outside the bar into the cool night air that I said, “I don’t suppose you know where my panties are?”
“I do, actually.” He led me to the back of his bar to the parking lot. A dark-colored GMC was the only truck there.
“Um . . . could I have them, please?”
He stopped me at the passenger side of the truck, pressing me up against the car. “Why?” he whispered against my lips before he kissed me deeply. He came up for air a few seconds later. “You’re not going to need them where we’re going.”
The nagging pressure between my legs increased. “You are so very, very good at stringing the exact right words together.”
He kissed me again.
“You’re just good with your mouth in general,” I murmured.
Cooper grinned and brushed his lips over mine. “In the truck, Doc.”

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Lawless #1
The Lawless siblings are bound by vengeance. Riley, Drew, Brandon, and Mia believe the CEO of StratCast orchestrated their parents’ murder twenty years ago to steal their father’s software program. And there’s only one way Riley can find some solid evidence...

Heir to the StratCast legacy, Ellie Stratton hires a new attorney to handle a delicate business matter—and she’s shocked by her attraction to him. Over the course of a few weeks, Riley becomes her lover, her friend, her everything. But when her life is threatened, Ellie discovers that Riley is more obsessed with settling an old score than in the love she thought they were building. And Riley must choose between a revenge he’s prepared for all his life and the woman he’s sure he can’t live without...

Lexi Blake isn't a new-to-me author. I love her Perfect Gentlemen series that co-writes with author Shayla Black, but Ruthless is my first book by Ms. Blake as a solo author. If you read the Perfect Gentlemen series, where a group of childhood friends try to solve their one of their own's murder and come to realize there's a bigger conspiracy behind his death, Ruthless has a similar feel to it. 
When I heard about Ruthless by Lexi Blake I knew I had to read it. Siblings bent on revenge against their parents' murderers? One of the siblings falling in love with one of the murderer's daughter? Yes, please!

Ruthless focuses on Riley Lawless, the second oldest Lawless brother. After his parents' murder he and his siblings were separated and put into different foster homes. When Drew, the oldest brother, aged out of the system, he quickly took in other siblings (with the exception of their sister Mia, who was adopted by a nice couple) with the help of their father's former partner. This was when they started working on their plan for revenge. Ruthless began with Riley starting to put their plan into action. His target was Ellie Stratton, who was on the verge of buying out the company StratCast from her father's partner. Ellie was the daughter of one of the men who conspired to murder the Lawless sibling's parents. They couldn't get to Ellie's father since he recently passed away from illness, but they wanted to sabotage the buyout and keep it from happening. They thought Ellie was a spoiled princess who led a cushy life that was built on their parents ashes and she deserved to go down as should her father if he lived.

Riley infiltrated Ellie's company when he was hired as her lawyer to oversee the buyout. But, he soon came to learn the Ellie was the exact opposite of a spoiled princess. She didn't have an easy childhood herself, with her father being an unfeeling man. She married her college boyfriend, but after he cheated on Ellie with her half-sister, she got divorced. But, things were finally looking up for Ellie. After her father's death and the divorce, she decided that she needed a change and, with the help of her best friend, started taking more care of her appearance and herself.

Riley believes that best way to get to Ellie and learn all her secrets was to seduce her and become her lover. Even as Riley get closer to Ellie and they start a steamy affair, he knew he had to follow through his family's revenge, which was years in the making. But with Ellie, Riley finally found someone who felt like home and he wasn't about to give her up.

I really liked Ellie! She was under her father's thumb for so long, but she was finally taking charge of her life and the company. She's smart, she's resilient, and she cared about her employees in the company. She also didn't take Riley's shit even as she's falling in love with him. As for Riley, I liked him too, but I felt like his character was overshadowed by his other siblings Drew and Brandon who, truth be told, I found more interesting than him. I did like how he fought for Ellie and didn't give up on her and their relationship even when she found out the truth (of course she would!), couldn't trust him anymore, and tried to push him away.

All in all, Ruthless is a solid start to the Lawless series. Brandon's book is next and I can't wait, but I am most anticipating Drew's book. He's the oldest of the Lawless siblings and he's the mastermind of the revenge plans. Drew's whole existence seemed to be consumed in avenging their parents' deaths, and I'm eager to meet the heroine he'll fall for.

If you like the TV show Revenge, Ruthless basically has the same premise. The Lawless siblings have a list of targets they want to bring down and going after them one by one. Also, if you've read Lexi Blake's other series called Masters and Mercenaries, this series is a spin-off of that series. The Riley, Drew, and Bran's sister Mia is the heroine of Dominance Never Dies (book #11)--but if you're like me and haven't read that series, it's totally okay. But, if you did there were references to characters from Masters and Mercenaries that you'll probably appreciate. If you like a steamy romance with a lot of twists and turns, Ruthless is the book for you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hello everyone,
Ever since summer vacation ended and I'm back at work, I haven't been as active as I'd like here on the blog. Which sucks, but unavoidable. But today is Labor Day and that means I'm off, so I can finally write this post that I've been meaning to for a while.

What I want to talk about today is #booksfortrade and my personal experiences using the tag to trade books with other readers. Just in case you didn't know, #booksfortrade is a tag on Twitter that people use to trade books and bookish swag items with other people. There's a thread on Goodreads too, but I've only ever traded on Twitter.

How It Works
Basically, people post pictures of books that they want to trade, usually along with their wish list. If you see a book you want and you happen to have a book they want, you contact the person (either through a tweet or direct message), you guys work out a trade, exchange addresses, and a few days later, after you each sent the book, you DM each other the tracking number (which comes standard with the post office's media mail service--the cheapest way to send books through USPS).

Book I got from my first trade
My First Trade
I've been using the #booksfortrade hashtag for a while--I think even before the tag was made. I did my very first trade a little over a year ago on July 2015 and it wasn't through the tag. It was just a random tweet I came across of someone wanting to trade books. I don't remember which book of mine I traded away, but the book I received was a hardcover copy of This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. I already read the book, but it was through an e-ARC and I wanted a physical copy. The exchange was pretty painless, but I remember being a little nervous because, you know, trading requires trust that the person, a stranger I've never really interacted with on Twitter, will follow through on the exchange.

After that first trade, I didn't trade again until about October 2015 when I came across the actual #booksfortrade tag. I did four consecutive trades without any problems, so I was feeling good. I did make sure to "research" the people I was trading with, though. I scrolled through their profile feed to kind of gauge how often they traded and if other traders are tagging/thanking them for successful trades. So, I went through my "research" with this one trader and thought he's a "safe" trade.

My One Bad Trade Experience (so far)
It turns out this one guy wasn't a good trader after all--at least he wasn't with me.

I mailed the book a few days after we finalized the trade as promised and gave him the tracking number. But, a week and a half later I still haven't heard a word from him. I messaged him on Twitter and he said he'll send it in a couple of days. A week later, no word from him again so I messaged him again and he said he was busy. This went on for a month. Fine, he was busy, which I understood, but he was also trying to do more trades with other people during this time so I guess he wasn't that busy. I was getting frustrated and angry because I mailed the book weeks before and he didn't have the courtesy to mail mine within a couple of days like we initially said we would. I shouldn't have to keep messaging someone to send me the book, especially when he already received the book I mailed him way before he finally mailed me mine. I eventually got the book, but after that I decided to cool off on the trading for a while.

Keep On Trading
That was March. I only started being active on the tag again this summer, after I got back for attending the ALA conference. I brought back quite a number of books, and I didn't have room on my bookshelves to store them so I knew I had to do some major book purging of books I no longer wanted or didn't plan on rereading. I donated most of my old books to my local Friends of the Library, but I held on to a few that I saw on a few wish lists on the hashtag. My sister Leslie went to the conference with me this year, and she grabbed a couple duplicates but with our shelving problems there wasn't enough room for duplicates. Also, I grabbed a few books from the conference that I started reading, but couldn't get into or weren't for me so I put those aside for potential trades too.

Just this summer alone and up to now, I've done about 25 trades (plus a few more pending) and it's been great! I've had no problems so far and I really, really hope this streak of good trades continues because I really enjoy trading.
Some of the books I got through trades.
Why Do I Like Trading
1. #booksfortrade helps me curb my book buying. This time last year I already bought 124 books, but this year (since I've been more actively trading) I bought only 55 books so far. I know it's still a lot, but compared to last year it's a huge improvement and my wallet is happier with me.

2. Related to reason #1: It saves me money. You basically get a book you want for about $3-4 dollars (which is about the cost of the postage). I usually don't have to spend extra money on shipping materials because I recycle padded envelops from packages I receive from stuff I buy from Amazon or other mail.

3. It's fun! I enjoy looking through other people's trades and seeing what they have and people looking through what I have and making trades.

4. I feel good knowing my books are going to people who will appreciate them.

5. It's great helping people complete their book collection. A lot of the traders who use the tag are book collectors and are looking for specific editions or ARCs.

6. I love getting book mail.

#booksfortrade Drama and How I Deal
Until very recently, I considered myself a "lurker" on the tag. That is, I didn't really post pictures of what I have or a wishlist. I just looked through other traders' stuff and tweeted or privately DM'd my interest. But, I weeded my bookshelves again recently and I have a lot of books I wanted to get rid of. So, I finally put a few pictures up with my wish list so people can contact me if they're interested. Then, whatever doesn't get traded I'm going to donate in a couple of weeks.
Some of the books I am currently trading
Yes, there's often "drama" on the tag and there are some traders out there who are sharks and only want the impossible-to-acquire editions or rare ARCs in exchange for their most sought-after editions or ARCs. It leaves us guppies feeling down, because how are we able to compete with that? But, you know what, as with everything, you either make it into a positive or a negative experience. If you're going to use the tag to complain about said "sharks" then you're not going to have a good time. For me, I like the tag and I'm going to keep things as positive as I can on my side. It's sort of an unwritten rule on the tag anyway that if you want a rare/sought-after ARC/edition be prepared to have something rare/sought-after ARC/edition to trade for it. It's just the way it is. Some people do take it a bit too far sometimes and a sort of bidding war happens, but I try to avoid trading with those people.
More books I am currently trading
Okay, that's all I have to say for now about #booksfortrade. If you want me to do a #booksfortrade how-to and a tips kind of post, let me know. If you want to trade with me, you can tweet me and find my wish list HERE.

Happy reading,