My New Blog Home – I’m Moving (with a GIVEAWAY)!

YOU GUYS!!!  You guys, you guys, you guys.  CHECK IT OUT! I’M MOVING!

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I did it. I went ahead and took the plunge and now I have my own actual real-life .com web address, a gorgeous new blog header (and blog hosting!) courtesy of the awesome amazing Creative Whim, who you should seriously all be using for your web hosting/blog transfer needs.

So please come check me out at Oh Magic Hour’s new home and enter to be one of three prizewinners of up to four books.  All the details and information are over there!

I will NOT be updating this blog anymore after this post, so if you follow me here PLEASE consider joining me over there! Excited to keep talking books with you!

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#LoveAThon – Mini-Challenge #4 – Mash-Up

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Hey all! I signed up to participate in the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon, hosted by Katelyn from Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books.  Basically this is an entire event surrounded around giving love to book bloggers out there and helping share the love.  What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend, am I right?  I am so excited to take some time this weekend to poke around the blogosphere giving love to the bloggers that really inspire me and finding new ones to follow!  To see all the details, check out either one of their blogs or follow the hashtag #LoveAThon on Twitter.  There are chats and giveaways and lots of fun to be had.  Join us!

This mini-challenge focuses around creating a mash-up between reading and other things we really love to do.  Technically, we are supposed to mash it up with a non-bookish pursuit, but let’s be honest – so far this year I have read 45 books.  I really don’t DO much else except hang out with the family and I didn’t think the normal readers of this blog would love a top 10 children’s books or something. Of course, I have some other hobbies like cooking and music and whatnot, but nothing really rises to the level of my love for reading. So! I decided to mash-up books with books!

I love a good book that is about books.  I’ve listed some of my favorites below, but I would also really love to know if you have read any other book-based fiction.

Top 5 Books About Books

1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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This book is like a cross between the National Treasure movies or the Da Vinci Code and an afternoon spent in your favorite bookstore. It explores the differences between e-books and physical books, and at the end of the day is basically just a love-letter to books themselves. Anyone who loves books will end up being charmed by this one.

2. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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If Penumbra is a love-story about books, this one is a love-story about booksellers. Full disclosure, this one isn’t released until April 2014, and I’ll do a full review of it before that time. But suffice to say that if you’ve ever fallen in love with an independant bookstore or spent hours upon hours in a library, you cannot help but love this book. I guarantee that book bloggers will be highlighting the crap out of this one and I will be highly recommending it as it comes out.

3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and the entire Thursday Next series)

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The Eyre Affair is the start of an excellent series by Jasper Fforde, written in his usual irreverant, fantastical style. The books are set in mid-1980s London, and there is a part of the police force that is required to jump in and out of books to deal with things that may go wrong inside the pages.  There are scads of inside jokes for readers and book lovers and it’s just a really fun take on the importance and static-nature of literature.

4. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (and the entire Mary Russell series)

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This one is a little different because it’s not exactly a study on books themselves, but it is a different take on a beloved character – Sherlock Holmes. This series is set sometime after the Conan Doyle writings on Holmes have been published, but as though Holmes was a real person all along. He takes on a new apprentice, one more his equal in many respects than the Doyle version of Watson (spoiler: he’s not actually as helpful as Martin Freeman) — a young, American woman. They go about solving crimes and foiling plots together in the usual Sherlock-ian manner, and it’s just a joy to see this different side of that character.

5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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This is an epistolary novel set in World War II made up of letters between an author looking for an idea for her next book and members of a book club on the island of Guernsey.  It’s been awhile since I read this one, so it’s less fresh in my mind, but I remember it being a really feel-good tale with some dark underpinnings related to the WWII setting. I’ll let this quote from the Goodreads summary speak for itself: “Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.”

Enter The Giveaway

My Love-A-Thon partner Rachel just posted an awesome review of Cress and Marissa Meyer just came here to Dallas for a book signing, so we thought we would take the opportunity to offer you guys a signed copy of the book!  Just follow the handy dandy steps in the Rafflecopter below anytime between now and Monday.  We will contact the winner by February 19!

Just click here to enter – a Rafflecopter giveaway!!!

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Time for a #LoveAThon – Plus a Giveaway!

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Hey all! I signed up to participate in the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon, hosted by Katelyn from Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books.  Basically this is an entire event surrounded around giving love to book bloggers out there and helping share the love.  What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend, am I right?  I am so excited to take some time this weekend to poke around the blogosphere giving love to the bloggers that really inspire me and finding new ones to follow!  To see all the details, check out either one of their blogs or follow the hashtag #LoveAThon on Twitter.  There are chats and giveaways and lots of fun to be had.  Join us!

As part of the Love-A-Thon, the awesome hosts pair us up with another blogger to do a little interview and get to know them. I about lost my little mind when I saw I was paired with Rachel from Tiger Lily Rachel.  She is one of my favorite book bloggers and I am really excited to potentially introduce her to someone who might not already know how awesome she is.  She primarily blogs about books, but also music and gives some great blogging advice. I love the voice of her blog and think her reviews are spot on.  You should DEFINITELY go check her out if by some chance you haven’t already – and you can read my interview with her over there as well!

Interview with Rachel from Tiger Lily Rachel

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How long have you been blogging and what are some of your high points from your blogging history?

I’ve been blogging since July of 2012, so about a year and a half! I think some of my high points include getting the chance to interview Leila Howland (author of Nantucket Blue) and going to BEA.

What’s your favorite genre to read and why? 

My favorite genre is contemporary YA. It’s what I relate to the most and I love seeing how other people/characters deal with situations that I’ve been through.

What’s your go to strategy for busting a reading slump?

First I let myself take a few days off. Most of my reading slumps come from reading a lot of books one right after another, so sometimes I just need time away. Then I’ll pick up a book that I can almost guarantee I’ll like and that isn’t for review, and that generally helps.

What do you do with your time aside from blogging?

Well, I’m a student so I spend a lot of time in classes/doing homework. But hobby wise, I’m often out for coffee or lunch with my friends, and probably shopping too. I love to go to concerts with friends as well.

One of my favorite parts of your blog is your musical recommendations – do you listen to music when you read?  Do you have any other reading habits or traditions?

Aww, thank you! I do not listen to music when I read. I can’t concentrate at all and prefer to read in silence. One reading habit I have is I always have to read before bed or I won’t be able to fall asleep. It helps take my mind off of things and relax. I also can only read one book at a time. I was recently reading three books at a time and that was a disaster.

How do you prefer to read – e-reader, hard copy, library books, paperbacks?

Hmmm. I prefer to use my kindle when I’m reading in bed because I can read in the dark, and I love that I can carry hundred of books with me, but I don’t know if it’ll ever replace hard copies. I love holding a book in my hand.

 Top 5 books of the moment? (I’d never ask you to pick forever!)

Ooh! I like this one. Right now I’d say When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, Clean by Amy Reed, Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, and Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker.

What character that you’ve read do you think would make an excellent friend?

This is biased because I’m in love with him, but I’d love to have Perry from Under the Never Sky as my friend.

Where can we find you?

On my blog at Tiger Lily Rachel, on Twitter @tigerlilyrachel, or follow me on Instagram for bookish pictures at tigerlilyrachel.

Enter Our Giveaway

Rachel just posted an awesome review of Cress and Marissa Meyer just came here to Dallas for a book signing, so we thought we would take the opportunity to offer you guys a signed copy of the book!  Just follow the handy dandy steps in the Rafflecopter below anytime between now and Monday.  We will contact the winner by February 19!

Just click here to enter – a Rafflecopter giveaway!!!

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#CatchUpClub Cinder/Scarlet WrapUp

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Catch Up Club is hosted by Dianne at Oops! I Read A Book Again, Katie at Bibliotekit, Yasmine at Yasmine’s Public Library, Jessica at Lovin Los Libros, and myself.

We discovered that we all felt like we had missed out on some of the key YA reads of the last few years, and decided to recitfy that!  For the last two weeks we’ve all been catching up on the excellent Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, choosing to read either Cinder or Scarlet.

The winner of the giveaway was Natalie at Books, Etc.  Go check her out!

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So What Did People Think?

Since I was the Book Pusher for this one, I was really excited to see if my fellow book club members would enjoy this one.  And overall, it looks like they really did!  Most people seem to have decided to read Cinder and it was a ton of fun following the #CatchUpClub hashtag throughout the two weeks to see what people thought of the books.  As I said in my Book Pusher Post, one thing I love about this novel is the relationship that develops between Kai and Cinder.  I just thought it was very sweet, and the obstacles to their relationship made a lot of sense.  Nothing magically came together for them — there is no fairy godmother to be seen.

One of my favorite points from Dianne’s review (go read it HERE) was that Cinder was a great heroine BECAUSE she had to be her own hero.  She was put in a set of really untenable circumstances, and while she certainly had allies, she had to be her own protagonist.  There was no magic fix, no bibbity bobbity boo.  There’s something really great about a strong female heroine who doesn’t wait for the prince in shining armor to come save her and sweep her off her feet.  This counts double for this kind of heroine in a fairy tale retelling!

I also completely agree with Yasmine (read her review HERE) that the worldbuilding in this series is amazing.  It’s an Asian/Western cross, which feels familiar and yet totally out there.  I thought placing the familiar story in this crazy world absolutely worked, and helped the underlying story we’ve all heard a thousand times feel fresh.

Jessica also loved the worldbuilding (read her review HERE), but both she and Yasmine totally disagree with me on the Kai/Cinder relationship, feeling like its development is not at all believable, for various reasons.  I really enjoyed reading this part of their reviews because our reading experiences were so different.  Yasmine felt that Kai didn’t seem totally into it when we read from his point of view and you know, now that she points that out I can totally see it.  Kai’s POVs were more about worldbuilding and conflict – he is the Prince after all – whereas Cinder spent more time worried about the him.  I hadn’t seen it that way before and thought that was a really interesting point.  Jessica also felt like there wasn’t enough THERE to convince her of their romance.

Lisa from Lisa Likes Books also joined us in reading Cinder and reviewing it on her blog (read her review HERE).  She points out just how invested we really got into these characters and YES!  Although I agree with Yasmine’s point in her review that sometimes things got a bit obvious (was anyone really shocked by the twist??), I also agree with Lisa that this book just left me on the edge of my seat!  I really wanted everything to work out!  The novel did break my usual cardinal rule of not ending things on a cliffhanger, though.  I realized there were about 20 pages left and no way it was all going to wrap up and I just wanted to scream!  Luckily, Scarlet was already out and I was able to move on to that one!

Katie used the Catch Up Club as an excuse to also finally pick up Scarlet (read her review HERE).  She points out that the great world-building continues and extends in Scarlet, which I totally agreed with.   Just like the first novel in this series, the action in Scarlet starts early and doesn’t let up until the last page.  Katie and I also agree that the Scarlet chapters seemed more gripping.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Cinder’s character, but by the time she showed up in the novel I was so invested in the Scarlet half that it was sometimes jarring to jump back and forth. I’m actually really wondering how Meyer is going to pull it off in the next two books in the series wherein she intends to introduce even MORE fairy-tale inspired characters I’m sure I’ll fall in love with.  I’ve seen some great early comments come out on the next book, Cress, so I’m sure she can pull it off, but I’m definitely curious!

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I hope you all enjoyed reading along and participating in this little online book club.  We were really excited to see some of you join us!  Come on back in a week or so, we’re all going to start reading The Grisha series by Leah Bardugo!  I just got Siege and Storm from the library and cannot WAIT!

Welcome to The #CatchUpClub – with a GIVEAWAY!!

Feel like you’ve missed out on all the fun when it comes to some of the more popular reads of the last few years?

Do your friends start swooning over book boys that you’ve never even heard of?!

Have you seen people grow uncomfortable when you mention that you haven’t read THAT BOOK??!

If so, then welcome to the Catch Up Club!

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 Catch Up Club is hosted by Diane at Oops! I Read A Book Again, Katie at Bibliotekit, Yasmine at Yasmine’s Public Library, Jessica at Lovin Los Libros, and myself.  We all recently met during a #bookishparty book chat hosted by Cass and Judith on Twitter.  That chat was a ton of fun, but during the discussion it became clear that some of us had missed out on some pretty stellar reads in the YA world.  Sometimes book hype keeps you from reading a book that everyone says is supposed to be great.  Sometimes you just can’t get it from the library in time.  And sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to pick up yet another one of THOSE kinds of books. 

But no more excuses!  Every two weeks we’re going to read a recent Greatest Hit and we’ll all read it together.  One of us will be the Book Pusher and will post about why a particular read was so great at the beginning of the two week span.  Then you’ll have two weeks to read the book and if you’d like to post a review, at the end of the two weeks we can all link up our reviews and travel around the blogosphere seeing what our new friends thought about this most recent read.  And then we’ll do it all again!  If we pick a book that has a sequel, you’re welcome to read either that book or the sequel, we’re just trying to get people to read books and authors that we love and to have some company while we do it. 

On tap we have great books like Cinder, Shadow and Bone, Shatter Me, Vampire Academy, The Darkest Minds, and who knows what else!  If this becomes a bigger party than we’re anticipating, we can certainly figure out some way to get community input into the read – who knows, maybe YOU can be a Book Pusher, too!  And there just might be a giveaway or two along the way!

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How Can You Join In??

We are starting the party with the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer!  The first book in this series is Cinder and the second is Scarlet.  Feel free to read either one that you’ve missed!  Or, heck, feel like a re-read?  Join us! 

If you want to join in, you have three ways to do it!

  1. Sign up with Mister Linky down there to tell us you’re on board!  In your blog post we’d love to hear your answers to these questions: (1) What books would YOU like to Push for The Catch Up Club that you’ve already read? and (2) What books do you feel like you’ve missed out on?
  2. Tweet with us!  We’ll be tracking #CatchUpClub throughout the two weeks to readalong with each other and whoever else joins us. 
  3. Come back here on July 24 to link up your review so we can have our own little virtual book club!

And since this is our first time with the Club, let’s celebrate with A GIVEAWAY!!!!!  At the end of the two week period on July 25, I’ll select someone who joined up with today’s Linky and give them a $20 gift card to a bookseller of their choice.  Easy peasy>!!

CLICK HERE!!! —————–>     

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So Why Should You Read The Lunar Chronicles??

I won’t bother doing too much summary here, because I’m betting you’ve at least HEARD of Cinder and Scarlet, even if you haven’t read them.  But basically, they are futuristic fairy-tale retellings of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, respectively.  And here’s my Top 5 List on why you should go ahead and pick these books up ASAP!

  1. Despite being fairy tale inspired heroines, neither Scarlet nor Cinder are weak.  They are kick-butt, strong female heroines who don’t just sit around waiting for Prince Charming.  They make things happen.
  2. Kai.  Or Wolf.  Or Captain Thorne.  Just saying.
  3. More than one review of these books have compared them to Firefly – not so much in plot, obviously, but in tone.  This is a futuristic Asia-like society, and Cinder is a mechanic.  You Kaylee fans?  Check this one out. 
  4. These books also do an amazing job examining important social issues – class politics and prejudice probably being the top two that come to mind.  Being able to do this in a believable way in the context of a story about aliens?  I’m down.
  5. These books are sci-fi for people who love to read fantasy.  Don’t let the sci-fi elements of cyborgs and aliens scare you away.  They are full of complexly drawn characters, a fight worth fighting, and are some of the best fairy tale retellings out there.

So what are you waiting for??!  Pick up either Cinder or Scarlet and see what you’ve been missing!!