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the star-touched queen

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out

I’ve gone bananas for books this year! I’m well on my way to completing my 40-book Goodreads pledge, clocking in at 37 books read! Yay, me!

Blogging Challenge

The ARC of the Matter

I have a love/hate relationship with ARCs, or advance reader copies. While I am always honestly honored to be approved to read any ARC, sometimes I feel overwhelmed with deadlines and feeling the urgent need to review a book, whether I liked it or not.

Throughout my relatively short relationship with NetGalley and other sites that make ARCs available to readers, I have learned not to request anything and everything, just because I could.

When I virtually raced myself to just get approval from publishers, I found that I wasn’t enjoying the books I was getting, as I wasn’t being selective. Honestly, in my early days of book blogging, I didn’t think I deserved to have the opportunity to request only what I truly wanted to read. I felt that I needed to be established.

I have since, thankfully, given up on my belief that I’m not deserving of reading awesome sounding books before their publishing dates.

The first hyped book I was approved for was Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen and I was absolutely floored. I think that approval is what changed my thinking as far as being good enough to read quality ARCs. I was recently invited by the publisher to read Chokshi’s sequel, A Crown of Wishes, which also helped reverse my silly feelings.

To put a positive spin on my not being selective with ARCs early on, I was introduced to a few great authors I intend to follow. On the other hand, I did end up being approved for some books, which will go unmentioned, that I either absolutely hated or decided not to read at all.

I really didn’t like feeling pressure to review books I disliked, as I’m not fond of, or particularly good at, writing negative reviews. I seriously don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, whether it be the author’s or another reader’s! I realize this is slightly odd, as I am mostly anonymous on the Internet, but, hey, I’m sensitive.

Anyhow, I’ve figured out how to work NetGalley; Edelweiss confuses me to death! P.S. If anyone reading this has tips regarding the use of Edelweiss, please leave me advice! 😀 Back to NetGalley – I was also once too focused on keeping my approval rating really high, which sometimes deterred me from requesting books. I have since gotten over this as well.

I think that since I figured out that when archive dates arrive for ARCs the books are simply no longer available to download, as opposed to automatically expiring on my devices, I’ve been able to relax. As long as I download galleys before archival, I have access to them, which seems so obvious to me now.

I have also dealt with ARC envy, as I believe many bookish bloggers experience at some point. I’ve decided to just focus on myself, to be happy for other bloggers who receive amazing physical ARCs, and to aspire to be among those readers one day!

I have not yet ventured into the world of emailing publishers directly in order to request books. Perhaps that is how people obtain physical ARCs for the most part? Regardless, in order for publishers to send me actual books to peruse, I do think my blog needs to grow. All that business seems pretty serious in my eyes!

Nowadays, I certainly have more of a love, as opposed to hate, relationship with ARCs. I have had to go through bookish growing pains and basically teach myself how to navigate the world of book blogging.

While it has taken me a couple of years to reach this point of caring, I am proud of myself for just how far I’ve come regarding the ARC. As I read over this post, I am nostalgic – it is now evident to me that I’m no longer a rookie, even though I still have a lot to learn before I turn pro.

In closing, here’s an enormous shout out to all of the bookish bloggers and/or readers – I mean to both encourage newbies and give kudos to those who are established with solid reader bases! Rookies, you will make it after all; pros, you are true inspirations! 😀

Love, Maggie

Sporadic Update

February = Heart Reading

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

Sweet Reads

February began slowly for me, reading-wise; however, I sprinted toward the end of the month by starting and finishing five books over the course of two weeks, which for me is a lot! I am an admittedly slow reader, plus I’m a parent, making it difficult to carve out reading time.

I’m still ahead of my Goodreads challenge goal of 40 by five books, with a grand total of 11 read. I hope to maintain my pace and stay ahead of my goal until I reach it. I’ve toyed with the idea of upping my 2017 reading goal, but I’m torn as to whether or not to simply leave my goal as is and let extra books tick up my percentage. I’ve got time to ponder this, thankfully! 😀

As for February’s sweet reads, three books made the cut! I didn’t intend for it to be, but The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West turned into the perfect read during the month of love. I hadn’t planned to read anything romantic in February, but I couldn’t resist, as I’ve been incredibly curious about West’s work for a while now.

I also really enjoyed Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire, second in the Kane Chronicles trilogy. I may have mentioned that I love to learn as I read, especially while perusing fiction. Long story short, Riordan never disappoints when it comes to melding entertainment with education.

My favorite book of the month was the debut novel in the cozy mystery series, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, Elementary, She Read, by Vicki Delany. I’m really looking forward to writing my review for this one. Let’s just say that I recently stepped out of my genre comfort zone by trying a cozy mystery – Delany’s book is only the second cozy I’ve read! It didn’t take long for me to realize that I adore cozies!

Sour Reads

My not-so-favorite, so so reads of the month both received a mediocre three stars from me, meaning I liked them okay, just meh. More often than not, I adore Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. Sadly, the Audible edition of The Sign of the Twisted Candles didn’t grab me.

Figment, the second book in Cameron Jace’s Insanity series, didn’t grab me either. I understand that it has a plot more focused on character building rather than action, but I’m looking forward to the third installment, Circus, which I hear is action packed and exciting, as was the series opener, Insanity.

Welcome to My Library!

I’m proud to have been approved for some great ARCs on NetGalley this month! I was so lucky to receive my first ever invite to read a popular upcoming book, Roshani Chokshi’s follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes! I got the invitation because I was approved much earlier to read an ARC of Chokshi’s debut. 😀

I requested and was approved for Noteworthy by Riley Redgate and Ensnared by Rita Stradling, which I’m reading at the time of this typing and enjoying! I really liked Redgate’s debut novel, Seven Ways We Lie, so I hope to feel the same about Noteworthy!

I also bought a few books this month, mostly Kindle editions. I thought The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani looked cute, so I snatched it up. I also got Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, about which I’ve been curious for a while, on special.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest finally found its way onto my Kindle, as did Carolyn Keene’s The Clue of the Dancing Puppet. With my Audible credit for the month, I got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale. This will be my first reread ever and I’m really looking forward to hearing Harry’s saga.

Speaking of sagas, I went nuts and bought volumes four, five, and six of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, rounding out my collection, in preparation for volume seven’s release this spring.

Finally, I ended my book spree by purchasing three books for my two-year-old, My Very First Book of Colors by Eric Carle, Curious George Tool Time by H.A. Rey, and Dinosaur Dance! by Sandra Boynton.

Near the end of the month, I received the ultimate book mail – my first ever Fairy Loot box! I’ll be showing off the entire contents of the February box later, but I do want to mention that the chosen book was the enticing Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza.

Challenging

In my Pulling the Plug post, I explain why I decided to abandon the year-long reading challenges for which I had signed up so early in the year. I decided to alleviate the reading pressure I was already feeling by solely keeping up with my reading through the Goodreads challenge.

As for short and mini reading challenges, bring them on!

In Real Life

In last month’s Sporadic Update, I mentioned applying for a job as an in-school therapist. I had an interview scheduled, but ultimately decided to cancel the day before. I dwelled on whether or not to take the job for a couple of weeks prior to my set interview.

I finally came to the conclusion that I’d rather continue with my role as a housewife and full-time mother. I adore every moment that I’m with my children and ever since I applied for the job I have tried even more to avoid taking any minute with my boys for granted.

My mother, who didn’t have the luxury of staying home with my brother and I full-time, implored me to let go of feeling the urge to have a full-time job. She re-instilled in me how important my job as a mother is – I am charged with raising two beautiful, spirited, happy boys.

Basically having little lives in my hands is definitely overwhelming at times, but it is so rewarding. I sometimes feel like what I do – raise my children and maintain our family’s household – isn’t worthy of admiration. But, I realize now that my boys will ultimately be the best they can be at least partially because of my love and the sacrifices I make for them.

March Madness

I am a humongous college basketball fan and, quite naturally, my [second] favorite time of year is March Madness, the technically 64-team tournament that serves as the season’s grand finale.

I say technically 64 teams because there is a play-in round these days known as the First Four. Anyway, Selection Sunday is coming up I believe next week for the men’s tournament and then Selection Monday will follow to announce the women’s tournament contenders.

I always root for the SEC, excluding Vanderbilt, as I am from the South. However, every year features at least a few Cinderella teams with whom I fall in love. I could ramble on about basketball forever, alas, I shall return to the subject at hand – books!

I’m not totally sure as to what I want to read this month, aside from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Since I ditched my reading challenges, I don’t have any particular books that I need to get to; I’m free to mood read!

On the other hand, I would like to finally read my ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James – I’m really looking forward to it. So I figure I do have a bit of planned reading after all! I would also like to get on with reading Noteworthy.

In Closing

I hope all of y’all have a fantastic March and happy reading! 😀

Love, Maggie

WWW Wednesday

Book Blast

Happy hump day! With today arrives the weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, WWW Wednesday! The meme has a simple format, asking the three W’s:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently

Today I started reading the second installment of Cameron Jace’s Insanity series, Figment. Thus far I’ve only read a few pages and I’m hopeful I’ll love it as much as I did the first in the series, Insanity.

In addition, I’m listening to Caraval by Stephanie Garber on Audible. I’m an hour or so into the book, and it’s just okay so far – I’m still waiting for excitement. I’ve seen mixed reviews of this one, with some citing offensive topics and others absolutely loving it. I wanted to read Caraval before the controversy, but it definitely made me curious enough to go ahead and pick it up!

Just Finished

This morning I finished my first ever book by Kasie West, The Fill-In Boyfriend. I absolutely LOVED this book and gave it a five-star rating on Goodreads! I’m so excited to write the review – so many emotions were stirred within me as I read – and that doesn’t happen to me often.

Long story short – I cannot wait to read the rest of West’s work. The Fill-In Boyfriend is a book I typically wouldn’t just pick up, but I was haunted by it and kept seeing rave reviews. I’m so tickled with myself for branching out of my genre comfort zone and discovering a new favorite author!

The other day, I finally finished The Throne of Fire, the second in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series. I took nearly three weeks to read it – I apparently had a hard time finding freedom to read, as I really enjoyed this tale and could’ve finished it quicker.

Next

I have a bunch of galleys I need to get through and write up reviews for before they’re archived. Luckily, I’m looking forward to testing out the books for which I’ve been approved. I still can’t get over the fact that I was auto-approved by Udon Entertainment, which produces Manga Classics! 😀

That’s it for me this week! How about you?

Love, Maggie

 

Stacking the Shelves

Saga Saturday

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by the lovely Tynga’s Reviews! I enjoyed participating in this weekly meme with my former blog and have returned to the fold after a long absence. The purpose of the meme is to showcase all the wonderful bookish goodies one has received throughout a given week.

Here’s my small haul for the week of February 5 through February 11.

I finally read Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, Vol. 1 in January and it’s safe to say that I’m now obsessed with the graphic series. Last week, I purchased volumes two and three. Well, this week, I finished out the series with books four, five, and six! I already can’t wait for volume seven’s release on April 4!

Needless to say, I’m ecstatic to have each Saga volume that’s been released! I’d love to preorder volume seven, but I’m so bad to forget that Amazon doesn’t charge my card until shipment occurs, so I’ll wait…impatiently…

My two-year-old is obsessed with Curious George, so I got Curious George Tool Time by H.A. Rey for him. I’m SO glad my baby boy loves books and reading already! 😀

As for ARCs, I was beyond flabbergasted when I received an invitation from the publisher to read Roshani Chokshi’s fabulous follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes! I was lucky to gain  access to the title because I was approved on NetGalley to read the first in the series. I’m SO excited for this sequel!

Love, Maggie

Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I hardly know where to begin except by saying OMG, I’m SO grateful and lucky to have had the chance to read and review Roshani Chokshi’s beautiful tale, The Star-Touched Queen, prior to its release thanks to the publisher and NetGalley!

It’s going to be tough to review the story steeped in Indian mythology while avoiding the temptation to add tons of spoilers! However, have no fear: this will be a spoiler-free review!

I was immediately sucked into the pages of Chokshi’s debut. Chokshi’s development of her characters, especially those of protagonist Maya and the mysterious Amar, goes deep; I felt as though I was right alongside Maya throughout her adventures and challenges.

The Star-Touched Queen features a multitude of fabulous twists and turns; just when I thought I had figured out the secrets of Maya’s world and the direction her story would take, I was quickly proven wrong, which made me very happy, as I love being surprised by novels, as opposed to figuring out the ending before finishing my reading.

The book is sprinkled with awesome quotes, most stated by Maya. My favorite of her sayings being, “I’d rather spread ideas than legs.” All I could think was, “Go, girl!”

Maya is the epitome of someone who craves freedom to make her own choices while at the same time remaining tethered to her loved ones and the life she knows.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the story is the fact that Maya is ‘cursed’ by the stars: her horoscope, which seems to doom her to a life filled with suspicion, sacrifice, and danger.

Typically, some romances in novels drive me nuts, as there is generally so much focus on physical attraction, etc. Chokshi’s romance between Maya and the elusive, secretive Amar is a nice slow burn, which centers on destiny and fate.

Throughout the book, Maya’s beliefs are continuously being tested, as is her basic instinct to place absolute trust in others. In addition, Maya is haunted by a mysterious voice, which torments her with riddles and coerces her to explore a new world and uncover its many secrets.

I especially enjoyed the cattiness of the women of the Raja’s harem, mainly that of Dhina, who verbally abuses Maya every chance she gets prior to Maya’s transition into a new, mysterious life, seemingly written in the stars.

Love, Maggie