Warm Weather Comments

Hey, y’all! It sure has been a while! Hopefully, my blogging block will come to an end shortly! With the Summer Comment Challenge, hosted by Lonna at FLYLef and Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense, starting June 1, I’m praying for inspiration so my partner will have posts to actually comment on! 😀

I participated in the winter comment challenge as well this year – I absolutely adore this challenge! Not only does it connect bloggers with similar interests, it opens up doors to make new pals! I’ve pledged to leave a minimum of five comments on my partner’s blog this round.

I discovered today that my commenting buddy this time is Bella from Bella Blogs Because Books! A big shout out to Bella – I look forward to visiting your site and offering encouragement and sending happy thoughts! 😀

Love, Maggie

Purple Rain

*I originally wrote this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z 2017 Challenge. Unfortunately, I dropped off in the middle of the month-long challenge. So, against my perfectionist nature, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the posts I did get drafted, as I am proud of them, out of alphabetical order.

Prince’s epic ballad, Purple Rain, has always been one of my favorite songs. Even though it’s already a long tune, I wish it were even longer – I love it that much. Purple Rain already had a special place in my heart, just because I loved it, but when I had my first ever dance with my now husband, it became even more special.

It was 2008 and Elliott and I were on a date at a Nashville bar, where his drummer brother had a gig that night. I remember having an absolute blast – we were with Elliott’s awesome sister and her husband. There was even a point where I got sick from drinking Long Island iced teas like an idiot and I slipped off to the bathroom. Yes, when I returned, I continued to drink, like an idiot.

Luckily, I didn’t get sick again that night. Like The Grinch, my heart grew a million sizes when the band, dubbed Moderately Sauced, played Purple Rain. Elliott and I jumped up and hit the dance floor. Moderately Sauced had an amazing female lead singer – let me tell you, she is one of the best vocalists I’ve ever heard and her rendition of Prince’s classic is really beyond explanation.

Elliott and I, who both knew every word to Purple Rain, – which is shocking in itself, as I don’t know the correct words to hardly any songs – serenaded each other as we slow danced among the throngs of other Purple Rain lovers on the dance floor.

Looking back, I knew subconsciously that I would marry Elliott the first moment we met. At the time of that dance, however, the deal was solidified and the idea of a future wedding entered my consciousness. Lo and behold, we got married in 2011 and our first dance song as husband and wife was, you guessed it, Purple Rain!

We had a deejay at our wedding reception, so we danced to Prince’s voice and it was magical. However, due to the length of the song, the two of us gliding around the dance floor for eight minutes got a little old. I recall glancing at our guests as we danced and most of them seemed to be screaming in their heads for Purple Rain to end already. The beginning of our dance was great, but after about four minutes, we all had lost interest!

I just now thought of the connection between the party decorations and our first song – the accents and most of the flowers were in shades of, what else, purple! Even the wedding cake had purple features.

Of course, anytime I hear Purple Rain now, not only am I overcome with sadness due to Prince’s being dead, but feelings of intense joy outweigh the grief. As I have two amazing, life-changing memories to attribute to Purple Rain, all I can do when I hear the song is belt it out with all of my heart.

Love, Maggie

Why I Blog

*I originally wrote this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z 2017 Challenge. Unfortunately, I dropped off in the middle of the month-long challenge. So, against my perfectionist nature, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the posts I did get drafted, as I am proud of them, out of alphabetical order.

I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly why I started blogging. I do know that I wanted a space on the Internet to decorate and play around with. At first, I blogged about random things and just tested the waters for a while. I even had a site dedicated to touting awesome links on the web – the well quickly dried up for that blog!

I also have had so much fun making up sweet blog names! Two of my favorite past blog titles were The Novel Orange and Joy is Yellow. I began writing mostly about books and bookish endeavors after creating The Novel Orange, which, I quickly figured out, sounded like a book blog.

I remember getting so very excited when the idea for a bookish blog dawned on me and squealed with delight when I discovered that there is an amazing blogging community. I adore playing on Twitter and following bookish feeds and, of course, I’m obsessed with Goodreads.

I’ve met some awesome fellow book bloggers through shared literary love, but that certainly doesn’t mean my blogging journey has been easy. I have definitely made blogging blunders, most of which were pointed out by others. Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate constructive criticism, but my feelings do get hurt when perfect strangers call me out for mistakes in rude ways. But that’s beside the point.

The great thing is, that after wallowing for a bit in my hurt feelings, I have an uncanny ability to re-frame situations I’ve found myself in by looking at the bright side and learning from my experiences.

For instance, I unintentionally ripped off a super popular blogging event, about which word traveled fast and I ended up being confronted by the creators of the original program. I recall reading the email sent to me by an event originator and feeling a hot chill travel through my body. I pondered running away from the Internet altogether and never showing my face in the blogging world again.

However, I decided against hiding and confronted the situation head on, after freaking out a little. I replied to those I had copied, explained myself, and basically fell on my sword – taking full responsibility for what I had done. Luckily, I was able to mend fences with said bloggers and even got to participate in their amazing project.

I’m still so proud of myself for owning what I did and turning an embarrassing incident into a major learning opportunity. I now know to contact bloggers who host projects, etc. that are similar to an idea of mine and I know to do my research as opposed to diving in headfirst.

While I’ve been justly confronted by a handful of bloggers for blunders, I have also been what I consider bullied due to personal opinions and beliefs – politically. I felt so ostracized and blacklisted after the Presidential election, especially on Twitter, that I rashly shut down and lost my original book blog, The Novel Orange. I let myself be harassed out of doing something I love – blogging.

However, I decided to not let the haters win; I actually got a bunch of likes when I announced on Twitter that I had closed The Novel Orange, which was very upsetting. I couldn’t believe that what I had believed to be such a wonderful online community had turned on me.

I was inspired to step back into the book blogging arena through support I received from kind bloggers who empathized with me. Now, these people whose kindness I was showered with are from both sides of the aisle, politically speaking. Let’s just say that the experience showed me who the real awesome bloggers are – the ones who aren’t judgmental.

While I’ve been through a few rough patches while teaching myself about the blogging world – and learning online etiquette – I feel, cornily, like a phoenix risen from the ashes. I’m still here and I’m not leaving again.

I also co-blog with Lila and Claire at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets – let’s just say that co-blogging is a blast! Lila actually reached out to me during my own personal presidential scandal and totally encouraged me to rejoin the blogging universe. I will forever be grateful to that sweet girl, whom I have never personally met, but who is obviously amazing!

While I’ve seen both the many positive – and few negative – aspects of blogging, I’m so thrilled to still be part of the community. I look forward to continuing to evolve as a blogger, writer, and reader while sharing in my experiences with you, my readers. 🙂

Now that you know a bit about my blogging background, I’m going to briefly break down the reasons I adore blogging.

  • The blogging community as a whole is so very welcoming – I feel like I’ve found the missing part of my tribe – the appendage that shares in my loves of reading and writing. I have met some amazing people through opening up to the online world, and I’m so glad I took a flying leap and did so!
  • Through blogging, I am able to write, which is something I’ve loved to do as long as I can remember. I love sitting down and letting my creative juices flow either through my pen or keyboard.
  • Since branding myself as a book blogger, I’ve had the opportunity to read some amazing books, as I was introduced to the fabulous NetGalley and similar sites.
  • I’ve been introduced to some amazing people via blog swaps and some swaps I’ve discovered through Twitter. I seriously treasure the time, thought, and care that has been put into each surprise swap package I’ve received, although I worry whether boxes I’ve sent are perfect! LOL! However, I really enjoy gifting to others and I have such a blast connecting through swaps!
  • Bookish Twitter chats were a chance discovery and I adore them.
  • I love to spread the love as often as I can by visiting, reading, and commenting on blogs. Getting comments on my own blog is amazing, but I especially like spreading joy and encouragement.

Blogging involves essentially letting oneself go – to free fall into giving personal, sometimes not accepted, opinions. Blogging involves opening oneself up to both praise and criticism, which can be difficult. I’m not normally one to put myself out there, I was the kid in school avoiding eye contact with teachers so as to hopefully avoid being called on in class, which usually backfired.

As I get older, I uncover my voice more and more, freeing my thoughts and releasing them into the public forum. My grandfather always touted the importance of lifelong learning and I’m still taking his advice, seeking to learn as much as possible and hone my skills as well as harden my backbone.

Love, Maggie

April = Graphically Reading

Sporadic Update was inspired by The Sunday Post meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 😀

Sweet Reads

I did my first ever reread this month, as I listened to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone via Audible. I’ve been wanting to reread the Harry Potter series for a while and I’m thrilled that I decided to go with listening to the books as opposed to simply rereading them – the voice of the narrator, Jim Dale, is perfection.

I did not realize how long it’s been since I read the Harry Potter books – I started the series in college in the early 2000s. I remember anxiously awaiting each sequel’s release after falling in love with the books. A friend had to convince me to give Harry a try, as the hype surrounding the books turned me off, but I’m glad I gave in.

There are so many details in the first Harry Potter tale that I’d completely forgotten, such as the prominence played by the jerks whom raised Harry, the dreaded Dursleys, and the awesome introduction to Quidditch. While I will definitely be listening to the books in order, I’m really excited to get to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, my favorite of the series.

In a few days I read a bunch of graphic novels – G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed, Saga, Vol. 2, Saga, Vol. 3, Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan, and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye, and The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us.

I quit watching The Walking Dead TV show a few seasons ago, but I love the graphic novels on which the show is based – they’re so much easier to follow than the AMC version. I loved the show when it debuted, but it took a turn for the convoluted pretty quick, so I’m excited to read more of the books to find out what the hell is really going on!

Additionally, I read Jennifer Keishin Armstong’s Seinfeldia, a chronicle of the evolution of the amazing sitcom, Seinfeld, and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Seinfeldia was a fun, factual read – it was so cool to read about how Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David conceived the premise of Seinfeld. I also loved learning about the costars, especially the elusive Michael Richards, who played Kramer.

I was really surprised to read about the off-screen drama regarding the show and it was cool to read tidbits about different episodes. As for Scarlet, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me the way the first Lunar Chronicles book, Cinder, did. For some reason, I have a feeling I will really like Cress, the third in the series.

Sour Reads

I didn’t read anything that left me with a sour feeling in April, which makes me very happy! If I were to choose my least favorite book of the month, it would be Scarlet. As I said above, I really enjoyed the second Lunar Chronicles installment, but compared to the other books I read last month, it places at the end of the line.

Welcome to My Library!

As for my personal library, I welcomed quite a few books in April in physical, Kindle, and Audible formats. I preordered a book for the first time, A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, and it arrived on the release date, which thrilled me to death. I’ve still got to read A Court of Mist and Fury, but I plan to do so soon – the suspense is killing me!

I bought a few more graphic novels in April – I’m so into the genre lately. I got, of course, Saga, Vol. 7 as well as Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire, and Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1. I’ve suddenly discovered comiXology unlimited, which is where I read the two Walking Dead books and the second and third Ms. Marvel installments.

Additionally, I purchased Stephen King’s The Stand and On the Fence by one of my newest favorite authors, Kasie West. Thus far, I’m really engrossed in King’s book, by far the largest I’ve ever read at 1153 pages. As of today I’m a tad over 250 pages into it, which is really good for a slowish reader such as I.

As for Kindle editions, I obtained Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, The Gunslinger by Stephen King, and Psycho by Robert Bloch. I haven’t delved much into horror books, which is weird because I love to scare myself, but I’m really excited about the creepy ones I did get!

Via Audible I got Stephen King’s clown classic, It, Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir, The Secrets of My Life, about which I’m incredibly excited, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and narrated by Rachel McAdams, whom I adore, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, read by the fabulous Claire Danes. Finally, I got hold of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Challenging

I’m so proud to still be able to say that I’m ahead of my Goodreads goal! Yay! Thus far this year I’ve read 26 of 40 pledged books, meaning I’m clocked in at 13 books ahead of schedule. I read a bunch of graphic novels in April, so I’m planning to read harder this month, hence my starting the behemoth epic The Stand.

I’m joining in on the Bout of Books 19 challenge that begins tomorrow and I’m so excited! I haven’t done a reading challenge all year and I think I’ve set an attainable goal consisting of three not-too-long or too emotionally heavy books.

For the challenge, I’ve chosen to read Geekerella by Ashley Poston, On the Fence by Kasie West, and Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich.

May(hem)

Well, from May 8 through May 14, I’ll be focusing on reading the three books I picked for the 19th Bout of Books challenge. In the meantime, and especially after I (hopefully) complete the challenge, I’m going to continue working on The Stand, which is enthralling!

In Closing

Have a fantastic May, y’all!

Love, Maggie

Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling
Published by Rita Stradling on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Retelling, Romance
Pages: 380
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
[This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+]

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the story arc is predictable, meaning girl falls in love with Beast and vice versa, Rita Stradling’s Ensnared kept me guessing nevertheless. The buildup to the final push of love between Alainn, the pretty captive of Lor, takes twists and turns that actually had me wondering if the fated couple would ultimately be together.

What interested me in this book is the fact that it is a futuristic retelling, complete with robots that are very intelligent. Alainn begins her journey into the fortress of the mysterious, scarred Lor, posing as a robot, Rose, which was created for Lor by Alainn’s father.

Keeping up the guise of being inhuman, Alainn soon finds that the plan made for her by the real Rose model is not what she agreed upon, which was to go to Lor in Rose’s place for a short time before being switched out for the real robot.

As she falls in love with Lor, pressure mounts for Alainn to maintain her robotic act. Alainn is a brilliant character; she is very creative when questioned about her seemingly human behavior at times. While in the midst of falling in love, Alainn is being manipulated by another robot, the original Rose model, which is in cahoots withe the newer model.

Alainn’s seemingly idyllic existence with Lor is quickly shattered as she finds herself caught in a race against time to not only save the life of her true love, but to reveal to him her true identity.

Love, Maggie

Bout of Books 19

Yay! I’m so excited that it’s time for Bout of Books again! I absolutely cannot believe this will be the 19th installment! This session begins Monday, May 8 and ends Sunday, May 14. In past Bout of Books challenges, I’ve never been successful in completing my TBR for the week; however, the challenge is so laid back, which is perfect for me.

I have decided to create a TBR list for this round, but I’m not going to be totally overambitious or necessarily hold myself to my list, as I am a mood reader. I figure I’ll add books I’ve been dying to read for a while now.

Following is the official challenge blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I’m *pledging* to read the following books next week:

There we go – there’s my modest Bout of Books 19 TBR list! I was tempted to add at least one more book to my list, but remembered that I want my goal to be attainable! To everyone else participating, good luck and have a blast!

Love, Maggie