Friday, December 15, 2017

A Stunning Companion to Futhermore

Title: Whichwood (Futhermore, #2)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 14th, 2017!
*I picked up an ARC of this at ALA annual.

From Goodreads...
A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.

Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.


My Review!
I had a feeling I’d love this, given how enchanted I was with Tahereh’s Furthermore. But I didn’t expect to love it SO much. I love how she writes; it’s always so easy to get sucked into her stories. I felt the same way with her Shatter Me trilogy. She’s become an auto-read/buy author for me, and I can’t wait for all that she’ll publish next. But anyway, let’s talk about the love I have for Whichwood.

This is a story about a lonely girl, and her lonely profession. Laylee is only thirteen, way too young to deal with the shit that she does, and on top of it, she prepares bodies for death. So it’s a dark life, and she’s not always sure of herself, and she definitely doesn’t quite know what to do with a pair of friends who just want to help her. But as she forms a connection to Alice and Oliver, she starts to understand what real care looks like, and wants it, but she doesn’t know how to take it. She’s always been stoic and determined, doesn’t feel as though she needs what they bring her. But she did so badly, because she’s still just a little girl doing too much with no support and love. My heart just broke for Laylee; all that she’d been through and all that she did, without payment or thanks. She tried her hardest; she didn’t always get it right, but she was the only one who held it all together. I loved that she was able to realize her worth and see that she deserved better, and I’m glad that she finally had people who would be there for her, even if they messed up at times. Her journey was beautiful to watch!

I was so happy to see Oliver and Alice again! These two are the cutest, and I enjoyed their banter and quests in the previously mentioned Futhermore. Like I said, they didn’t always get it right either, and sometimes they thought Laylee needed something different from what she actually needed, but their intentions were good and pure. Alice had a bit more selfish intentions at the start, because of why she was there, but her kindness is unfathomable. And Oliver is just so funny, and he helped remind Laylee to live. I wasn’t sure where this would go, so I was pleasantly surprised not only by the story but by how much I came to care for these characters. How much that they brought to this world, and by how both heavy and hopeful the book felt. It was just so good, everyone!

I could read dozens of more stories about other worlds besides Furthermore and Whichwood. Pretty please, Tahereh? THAT WOULD BE SO GREAT. I’m so enchanted by these tales, and I think there is so much more here that could be explored, even in the same two worlds. So I’m just going to sit here and keep begging for MORE until I get the books I want. ;)

RATING:
    

Thursday, December 14, 2017

From the Den: November Edition

From the Den is a feature to showcase the books that I don't post reviews for on the blog, whether I liked them or not. I read so many books that never make it onto The Fox's Hideaway, so I wanted a feature where I could still tell y'all about them. :)

*****

I read so very, very little in November. It was the worst month of 2017 in terms of blogging and reading. But I like to attribute a lot of that to NaNoWriMo and just in general my slip into depression and how busy work was. Still, though, I loved all 5 of the books I read, plus the two novellas were really great. Here's to a better December!

Rereads
I reread these in preparation for The Fallen Kingdom, and oh my gooood I loved them even more the second time around. This series just got better and better, and the third book was my favorite, though I've a soft spot for them all.
Rating: 4 and 4.5 respectively


A December Release
*Physical ARC kindly provided by Macmillan.

This book snuck up on me, quietly, without me even realizing it. I was enjoying it, of course, but that slowly and surely changed the more this group of genuinely adorable people feel the magic of theater and close friendships. I love Claudia. Sweet, awkward, quiet Claudia who finds it hard to make friends but who banishes her fears and figures out that some people are worth everything. I love Iris. Sharp, smart Iris, who tries so hard to do better and who comes to understand the pure joy of friendship. I love Gideon. Charming, quirky, kind Gideon who will drop everything to do what he can for the people he cares about. And hilarious Noah who is Gideon's other half, and who will always build him up when he feels down. (The two of them introduce each other to others with, "He's one of the best people I know." LIKE. OMG. I CAN'T HANDLE THE PURE LOVE). I love Alex and Zoe and Claudia's parents and Dr. Prewitt and Paige and Victoria. Literally, almost every single character. It's a heartwarming story that reminds you of the purest meaning of friendship with nerdy, passionate people, and a little bit of Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.
Rating: 4.5 Paw Prints!


How was your November? Have you guys read of these books yet? If so, what did you think of them? Let's talk! :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Readers Crossing Sign-Up and TBR

*graphics and reading challenge made by the ever-talented Aentee from Read at Midnight*
*another disclaimer: Nintendo owns Animal Crossing and all these adorable animals that are in the post*


I'm picking cute, because it has been my favorite theme on Animal Crossing (with some of my fave animals). So, I'm going to try to get that one finished completely, and then move onto the cool course! I don't know how much reading I'll actually get done, because of work, but I'll damn well try my best. Making a TBR is probably ridiculous, but OH WELL. 


*Graphic Novel/Manga: Immortal Souls (queer witch anthology)
*Pink Cover: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
*Main Romantic Plot: Until It Fades
*Middle Grade or Children: The Battle of the Labyrinth 
*Contemporary: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

*Written by a Celebrity: Go Big or Go Home by Scotty McCreery
*Book Award Winner: Scythe
*Recommended by a Friend: Autoboyography
*Set in Your Country: White Rabbit or Girl Made of Stars


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

(88) Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017!

1. Wild Beauty
Amazing and gorgeous and full of queerness and family and love and light. I was pleasantly surprised by where the story went, and I absolutely LOVED the characters. Definitely a reread-worthy book.

2. A Conjuring of Light
Hands down, one of the best series finale I've ever read. I'm so in love with this series and I'm sad that it's ended now. But THAT'S OKAY I'LL JUST REREAD IT.

3. The Names They Gave Us
Such a personal book for me. I loved the exploration of faith, and Lucy, and how her mom pushing her out into the world brought her so much more than she could have imagined: a boy, friends, and memories she'll treasure forever.

4. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
This was SO FUNNY AND SO GOOD and I loved the characters a lot. My bisexual rogue, sweet and kind Percy, feminist Felicity. I can't wait for her story! And I hope we'll see more of Percy and Monty. :D

5. Saving Francesca
I will never not have a Marchetta book on these lists. She is QUEEN. I've already decided The Piper's Son will be my first read of 2018. I'm so excited. I'm also planning on rereading this one next year because it's a must.

6. The Fallen Kingdom
I was scared of this finale, because I wasn't sure how it would go or if my characters would make it out alive. And it surprised me so much, but I had no need to fear, and this was definitely the best in the series. I WILL MISS AILEANA AND KIARAN AND AITHINNE SO, SO MUCH.

7. Starfish
I could relate so much to the MC, Kiko, which made the read really special for me. I loved the social anxiety rep, and how Kiko fought her way through a painful past and went after a future she wanted. SO. AMAZING.

8. Whichwood
Even better than its predecessor, I fell so in love with this world. Laylee was a brilliant character, and someone I rooted for so hard. And it made me so happy to see Alice and Oliver again. Just, LOVELY.

9. Daughter of the Pirate King
I waffled between a few books, but when I thought about this one, I didn't want to leave it off the list. It was just freaking funny, and it made a big impression on me. I can't wait to read the sequel!

10. Letters to the Lost
This book made me ugly-sob, but in the best way. I loved the two main characters, and seeing how much grow throughout the book. It was just so wonderful.

honorable mentions bc they were too good to not mention:
Every Breath
Little & Lion

What have been YOUR favorite reads of 2017? Would any of these books have made your list? Let's talk! :)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Foolish Hearts Blog Tour: Favorite Shakespeare Quotes


Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: December 5th, 2017!

From Goodreads...
A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

*****

I'm a pretty big fan of Shakespeare, and while I haven't been able to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, I was excited about the Shakespearan aspect to Foolish Hearts. So I knew that I'd want to make my blog tour post about that particular part of it. But what to talk about? One thing I love most about his works is that they were really modern for the time. There is much that you can relate to, that's relevant to the world now. So I thought about my favorite quotes, the passages I've marked in the plays of his that I've read. But with an added twist of seeing if any characters of Foolish Hearts would say or agree or be these. :D (I was inspired by Mary's Shakespeare post [which is perfect] to do *this* part). Anyway, here they are! 

"I am not bound to please thee with my answers."  -from The Merchant of Venice
Though part of a larger conversation I really liked, this was my favorite of the comments (but also "Every offence is not a hate at first" is GREAT TOO). Self-explanatory, and also something that Iris adheres to for sure. Not often a nice person, no, but someone who wouldn't take shit from anyone and who always stood up for herself. I loved that. (Also can we talk about how this play ended with a sexual joke? I love Shakespeare).

"I show more mirth than I am mistress of; and would you yet I were merrier?" -from As You Like It
Love so much because Rosalind is like asking her cousin to let her feel sad, because that's what she wants to feel. She doesn't want to have to fake it. I can 1,000% relate to that. And so would Gideon. People only see what they want to see when it comes to him. They see this fun, sometimes weird, life-loving guy. But he's so much more than that. He can't always laugh or smile away things. But they want him to be able to, because a sad Gideon is apparently too much. (People can really suck).

"Can I not say 'thank you'? My better parts are all thrown down, and that which here stands up is but a quintain [a wooden post], a mere lifeless block." -from As You Like It
ahh, tongue-tied Orlando who got defeated by Rosalind's quick wit and (probably) beauty. I feel it, how awkward and hard it is to speak, when you like someone. And so does Claudia. She's shy, not-so-socially-competent, and she doesn't always know how to talk to Gideon. But she tries, and she learns who he is better than most, and also becomes more confident in herself re: socializing, as the book goes on. She is my kindred spirit.

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts."
You might have heard of this one, which is (yet again) from As You Like It. If you can't tell, this play is one of my favorites! Haha. Anyway, I feel like it's just really accurate about how people are. It's not that people lie or deceive or fake it til they make it. It's that people are just really multifaceted individuals, and they especially don't stay the same throughout their lives. And I think it fits a lot of the characters in this book. They all have their own personalities. But they might be different depending on who they're with or how comfortable they feel in certain situations or if they grow throughout the course of the novel.

a few more from As You Like It I just really want to share:
"Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak."  
"Good shepherd, tell this youth what 'tis to love. -It is to be all made of sighs and tears."

"Our doubts are traitors, and makes us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." -from Measure for Measure
This definitely fits myself, and Claudia, and probably every person ever? How many of us have let our doubts get the best of us? Keep us from going after dreams or love or success? Shakespeare knew, as well as we all do, that we can't let the doubts win. We have to TRY and work and do our best. <3

"The miserable have no other medicine but only hope." -from Measure for Measure
Another incredibly relevant quote! Hope can be a lifeline.


Going back through all my notes and saved passages, I remembered just how much I love Shakespeare. And how much his works make me smile. I haven't read enough of them yet, though. I HAVEN'T EVEN READ A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Say whaaaat? I'm hoping to change that in the near future because when I asked Twitter (as you do) what play I should read next, an overwhelming majority voted for Midsummer. So it has to be good, right? And this book made me want to read it *even* more. Foolish Hearts was AMAZING, y'all. You should absolutely check it out. And laugh and cry and feel *all* the feelings. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Do You Suppose She's a Wild Beauty?

Playing on an Alice in Wonderland quote for my latest review. :D

*****

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017!
*Physical ARC kindly provided by Macmillan.

From Goodreads...

Love grows such strange things.


For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.


My Review!
I’ve been sitting on this review since May. GUYS. SINCE MAY. I don’t know what’s been my deal, other than in general meh feelings toward blogging and especially writing reviews (I’m tired a bit, which is why I’ve tried to not care that I’m barely writing full ones anymore). I’d been excited about this book since I learned of it, and even more excited that it featured bisexual characters. So when I received a copy of Wild Beauty in the mail, I couldn't not devour it as soon as I was able to. And I loved it so much, it’s now on my forever faves list.

Anna-Marie McLemore has quickly become one of my favorite authors, ever since I fell utterly in love with When the Moon Was Ours last year. There is something so purely enchanting about her books. I think part of it is her writing. Gorgeous prose that you just want to sink your teeth into. And another part is the characters. I have not disliked one of them yet (unless they were the Paloma and Corbeau families, in which case they can all fuck off forever thanks). So yeah, if you guys haven’t read one of her books yet, you're really missing out. 

At the heart of this story is family. The family you’re born with and the family you make. It’s about love and a magical garden and flowers and a boy given back before it takes another. It’s about a mystery that won’t go away until it’s solved, and a chance for the Nomeolvides women to change their fate. Because at La Pradera, there might be magic and girls who grow flowers, but the garden always takes something from them. It is alive in a way that forces the family, and the people who own the land, to take a look at what happened in the past.

I was so invested in everyone’s lives, and I needed to know what would happen, and if they could break the curse that threatens everything they hold dear. The book surprised me, in the best possible ways. I loved the love that the cousins had for each other, and for their mothers and grandmothers. I loved the love that they had for Bailey, and the boy who came out of the earth. It was fresh and inventive and full of the beauty of life. It was the kind of book that will stick with me, and one that I see myself reading more than once. Wild Beauty is just a stunner.

RATING:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I Won NaNoWriMo!

guys. GUYS. I'm so excited to be writing this post. Because I fucking defeated NaNo this year, even amid an awful month for me. I was so busy with work, so much so that I definitely lost energy and time on the weekends to write. I also hit a depressive spiral (which feels like it has ended, but I'm still not up-to-par) in the middle, making it hard to do anything. So I'm proud of myself for this, because November sucked and I needed a win. And this event got me to write 50,000 words of a novel I KNOW I'm going to finish at some point (hoping for December, but we'll see). So I can't really be all that mad that I spent more time on my writing this month than I normally do, when I could've done other things. Especially when I see these amazing stats!

best day: November 27th with 6,963 words
finished on: November 28th
total words: 50,186

As you can see, I started off fairly good, hit a snag, and then destroyed the end. (Also, this is basically the way the depression spiral went. You can easily tell when that started to hit me. LOL). I deeeefinitely cannot do what I did in those 5 days of Thanksgiving break again, but it's not impossible for me to write at least 10K on the weekends. And if I can't, then maybe being an author isn't for me. If I don't finish books, I will *never* make it. So I have to get to that point, and I'm glad for NaNo because it forced me to work. But I enjoyed it, too. It never felt like something I HAD to do, but wanted to. And that was what I'd hoped for before going into November.

I think the biggest reason this was such a success (besides my absolute love for this story and need to write it) was the fact that I'd outlined a little ahead of time. I've always been a pantser. I don't outline for books, especially not to the extent that I did for NaNo. I mean, I will write down plot bunnies or maybe future scenes/dialogue, but I typically just start a story and go from there. It... has not worked out so well in the past. Clearly, if my track record for finishing books (which is 0) is any indication. I'm not going to start outlining every small detail or plot point, but I need to spend time thinking about the stories, trying to figure out where to go next. It helped so much having my broad plans for the WIP, because when I hit writer's block, I could move past it. 

This month of NaNoWriMo was a learning experience. It wasn't easy, especially when I realized I will be doing a lot more revising than I thought, but it was fun! It felt SO GOOD to hit 50,000 words. This has given me more confidence and a determination to finish this book. AND I just bought Scrivener with the winner discount, so I can't wait to start using it! I think, once I get used to the way it works, the levels of organization on there will help me even more to get books done. I love how much you can do, and THE SPLIT SCREENS! I need to watch way more than just the one Youtube video I looked at, but I'll become a master at Scrivener in no time. And lastly, NaNo gave me a clearer picture of what it means to make writing full-time. 

I can still do things I want, even when I write full-time. I sacrificed (I slept very poorly that weekend), I did. But I was still able to do what I wanted, even when I spent a lot of my hours writing 25,000 words. I finished/read three books! I played Animal Crossing Pocket Camp for hours on end. I played trivia with my family. I snuggled with our pets. I watched episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine here and there. I even went shopping and picked out new glasses. I did not need to sacrifice as much as I thought I would if I tried to write like this, where I make myself try to hit my targets for the day, in-between giving myself rewards like reading a damn good book. I don't have another 5-day weekend coming up, but I always have time off, so I don't really have more excuses. I know, realistically, what I can do when it comes to writing now.

So, I can't wait to see what December brings. Because I am seriously like hoping to finish this book before 2017 ends? I know it's a monumental task, but I'm up for it. I haven't written much this weekend, but my job kind of drained me so I'm okay with it. I also felt like a break was needed, a little, so I don't burn-out. I really pushed myself last weekend, and it went well, but I can't do that all the time. But I'm into the second semester of college in the WIP, so everything after this should go fairly easy? LOLOL. I don't know how much more words I need, so I'm not doing word count goals or giving myself a certain # to hit anymore. But I'd say, roughly, it'll be an 80K novel. We shall see once this month ends! :D

In the meantime, here is a little snippet :)
*click to enlarge the pic so you can read it!


How did you guys do with NaNoWriMo? Did you win it? If not, that's okay! If you got any words down, you still did AMAZING. This year has been such a trash-fire, so celebrate what you've accomplished, yeah? :)