Recap January '17 | Family and Friends.

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This month was not too bad, if you overlook the fact that one part of the world is crashing and burning. Again, it was a time filled with family, friends and good food! You won't hear me complain.

I had two bookclub meetings. The first one was for our Secret Santa and I got some awesome presents. We ate hamburgers and while the service was terrible, the food was delicious. The second one was filled with interesting stories, hehe. Good service and I had some fantastic pasta and a chocolate cake with nougat ice cream.

I had another spring roll day with my family, one of our best traditions if you ask me. I also went shopping with my mother and sister – and we had some Indian take-away afterwards. To top it off, I also went out for dinner with my boyfriend for our monthly date night. For the first time ever I tasted the world of Pilipinas food and I liked it a lot!

I dyed my entire hair purple and it took me some time to get used to all the stares, but I love it so much that I don't care anymore. It's one of those things I wanted to do for such a long time and I'm happy I finally did it.

I also started working-out by going for a run, until I caught a bad cold halfway the month and now I have to get back into that routine. I'm seriously trying out different things to get off my butt, but it's hard to find motivation with this cold weather. I'm thinking about purchasing PIIT from Cassey and combine it with yoga with my favorite channel Yoga by Adriene. Wish me luck for February! I'm setting up a work-out sheet, because crossing off squares might push me to do it more regularly. 

Review | Anna Banks – Nemesis.

27414431Title: Nemesis.
Author:  Anna Banks.
Pages:  368.
Published: October 4th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude. Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But Mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora's gift may be able to save Tarik’s kingdom. But should she risk exposing herself and her growing feelings for her nemesis?

Rating:

I've heard terrible things about the romance in Anna Banks' previous series, so in that aspect she did a better job. I'm still not completely sold on it, but it is definitely not the worst relationship ever. Tarik an Sepora spend time together, trying to come up with a solution for the possible upcoming war, before they get feelings for each other. The whole speak of 'love' developed a bit quickly, but I could look past that. He is at least respectful towards her and cares for her opinion. It's a shame I never had strong shippy feelings.

1. I liked how the story started. The setting was a bit confusing (and I still don't really understand how Spectronium works), but it is a basic plot that always works. Sepora is from one Kingdom and her father is using her for his hunger for more power. She decides to flee to the enemy Kingdom to hide, but instead is sold into Tarik's harem. Now she finds herself struggling between defending her own people and saving Tarik's people from her father.

2. Sepora (did not like this name) is a special snow flake. She immediately becomes the prettiest girl in the harem, she is always praised for her intelligence, she is capable of fighting (yet is capture in the first few chapters) and she is the only one left to Forge the Spectronium everyone is looking for. Nevertheless, she has some spunk and I didn't hate her.

3. Tarik is forced to take the throne when he is only 18 years old (normally it passes down when the King dies on an old age) and he is not ready for it. Perhaps that is why he lets Sepora defy him in every way without punishing her. He finds her interesting and refreshing, but most of the times I just found her rude. Also the whole switch from her career as possible mistress in his new harem to servant of his adviser was too far-fetched for my taste.

Not the worst. Not the best.

Review | Lindsay Ribar – Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.

23716100Title: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
Author:  Lindsay Ribar.
Pages:  336.
Published: June 7th 2016 by Kathy Dawson Books.

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing. Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe. With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

Rating:


Aspen Quick can steal anything from someone by touching them or an object that belonged to them. He can take away your memories, your fears, your passions; just one moment of concentration and it's gone. He uses this gift/curse to feed the Cliffs; his ability keeps them from collapsing on the village. He works together with his grandmother Willow (able to feel when the Cliffs need magic) and aunt Holly (to guide whatever Aspen has stolen to the Cliffs). I thought it was a really interesting concept and I liked the process, but in the end the author could have used it to make a more twisty tale.

Aspen has been left by his mother and she keeps looking for contact, but he is too hurt by her. Slowly, we figure out why his mother went away and how his dad influenced his life. This revelation was supposed to make Aspen more sympathetic, but I simply can't overlook all the bad things he has done. He was so careless in his use of the gift - and everything had to be about HIM. He never left the douche-bag stage from the beginning behind and that made this a hard book to read. I need to feel something more for a character and all Aspen did was getting on my nerves.

At the same time, the writing-style reads incredibly fast and I ended up reading this book in one sitting. I just think some parts could have been explored better, especially when it comes to Leah, a girl I did like. She stands up to Aspen and makes him realize, in some rare moments, that he is manipulating everyone around him without taking care of their feelings. Taking something from someone without care; changing their personality without consent, it's awful.

Not too bad, not mind-blowing either.

Love-A-Thon 2017 | Sign-up post.

loveathon2017-c[428]Hello friends! I am happy to announce today that the 2017 Love-a-thon is happening and the official sign-ups are open today. I’m really excited to be hosting this event again,with the great team of Cee of The Novel Hermit, Alexa from Alexa loves books and Kristin of Super Space Chick (who will be joining us for the first time)! We’ve come up with some really fun ideas to challenge you creatively, and to encourage you to develop and strengthen the positive friendships you’ve formed in our online book community. Whether it’s a blog, a Twitter account, an Instagram account or a YouTube channel, we’re so excited to invite you to help spread the love again this year!

The Love-a-Thon is an event dedicated to spreading positivity and love. It’s time dedicated to visiting other bloggers/Instagrammers/BookTubers, leaving a comment or two, making new friends and fostering positivity among the members of our amazing community. As in the previous years, the event will include mini challenges, Twitter chats and giveaways galore! The full schedule will be sent to you when you’ve signed up, so you can start preparing your posts in advance.

We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone participate in sharing love, encouragement and inspiration all over the bookish communities on the blogosphere, Instagram and YouTube! And, of course, we hope everyone will have fun. If you’re interested in participating, please fill in the sign-up form below. Once that’s done, you can consider yourself an official #LoveAThon participant!

FAQ
Who can participate in the Love-a-Thon?
All book bloggers, Bookstagrammers, BookTubers, and authors are welcome to jump in! We have challenges spanning three different platforms (blogs, YouTube & Instagram), and you can participate as much or as little as you’d like. (Everyone is invited to join in on the Twitter chats though!)

When is the Love-a-Thon happening?
We’re going to be maintaining the two day schedule, with the event taking place from February 18, 12:00AM EST to February 20, 12:00AM EST.

How can I sign up?
All you need to do is fill out the form below! You can grab the banner up top to share on your sidebar or your social media platform of choice. Sign-ups will be open up until February 18, though it’s recommended that you sign up early so that you receive the schedule and can plan out what you want to participate in!

How can I help?
There are two ways you can choose to help. First, you can help us spread the word! Last year’s number of participants was above and beyond anything we could have imagined. We are hoping there are even more of us this time! Second, you can donate to the giveaways! If you want to donate ANYTHING – books, swag, services – towards the mini-challenge giveaways or the big giveaway at the end, please email bbloveathon@gmail.com with details.

Twitter? 
Use the official hashtag (#LoveAThon) when tweeting about the event. We'll be checking on it every now and then, so use it if you want us to see your tweets!

Questions, comments, concerns or suggestions? If you have any other concerns that were not answered here, feel free to send an email to bbloveathon@gmail.com or to tweet any of us (@alexalovesbooks • @tnhcee • @superspacechick • @dailyprophecy).

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to participate in the 2017 Love-a-Thon today! If you do sign up, please know that we are so grateful and so excited to have you joining us this year. This community is really wonderful and is made up of such unique individuals. It’s truly awesome to be able to celebrate it, and to celebrate each other too!

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You can use either of the links below :)

Link to the sign-up form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdqirTg0CpL8975NXxWZz_AjL19y0_CPgm5l2gB54KOpzI9mg/viewform

Or the form:

7th Annual End of Year Survey | 2016, part 2.

BLOGGING.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016? 
I sucked this year. I hardly commented and I don't think I've found a new book blog.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? 
I can't think of one that stood out.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? 
I like the new Bulletjournal posts I've started. The first one was about Bulletjournal adventures in September.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? 
I hosted the (Fairytale) retellings challenge again, but I was slumpy and sucked at it.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016? 
Making new connections with publishers.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? 
I was uninspired. This is also the first year of working full-time after graduating last year, so I had to get used to my new schedule. A lot of time I was just too tired to write anything and I had no ideas, but I hope to get back to it in 2017.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? 
According to the stats from blogspot, it is the sign-up post for the Fairytale retelling challenge.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? 
My recaps. They were popular last year, but because I sucked a lot this year with commenting, I hardly got any comments back.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
The start of the Bookly Bird subscription box in The Netherlands. The items are not as epic as the boxes in other parts of Europe, but at least is is more affordable and I like to be surprised.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 
-Goodreads challenge: went down from 100 books to 90.
-Sucked at all the others, simply because I decided I wanted to read whatever I wanted to read, without feeling restricted.

LOOKING AHEAD.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017? 
Brandon Sanderson – The Final Empire.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)? 
V.E Schwab – A Conjuring of Light.

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? 
S. Jae Jones – Wintersong.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017? 
V.E Schwab – Our Dark Duet.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017? 
I hope to finish 100 books again and I will try to read as many prompts from the Popsugar challenge as I can. I also want to return to blogging and commenting around the blogosphere, because I feel like an outsider.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: 
By Your Side by Kasie West. About a girl who deals with anxiety. She is locked in the library for the weekend and finds out she is there together with a boy who has a bad reputation.

7th Annual End Of Year Survey | 2016. Part 1.

I'm going to split up the Annual End of Year Survey, hosted by Jamie@Perpetual page turner, in two parts. In this part I'm going to talk about all the books I read in 2016.

Number Of Books You Read: 90.  
Number of Re-Reads: 10.
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (30) followed by fairytale retellings (22)



1. Best Book You Read In 2016? 
Best retelling: The Shadow Queen – C.J Redwine.
Best mystery: Far From You – Tess Sharpe.
Best contemporary: Girl Against the Universe – Paula Stokes.
Best fantasy: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo. (Second best: Amy Tintera – Ruined)
Best adult fantasy:  A Gathering of Shadows – V.E Schwab.
Best diverse book: The Rose and The Dagger – Renee Ahdieh.
Best steampunk: The Vanishing Throne – Elizabeth May.
Best paranormal: The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 
The Female of Species by Mindy McGinnis. I loved her previous books, so I went in with high expectations and ended up being disappointed. I simply did not connect with the story of the characters.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. I fell in love with the unique promise and the characters.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? 
I don't think I did a lot of book pushing this year. I've been in a terrible blogging slump and I hope to recover from in it 2017 – and return to pushing books.


5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016? 
Started: Ruined by Amy Tintera.
Sequel: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab.
Ender: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.


6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016? 
After scrolling through my list of read books, I'm gonna have to say none. All the books I loved this year were written by known authors. All the books by unknown authors before this year were okay or disappointing..

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? 
Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes. It is a contemporary book, but is is so much more than simple fluff. The struggles from both characters and how they dealt with their problems did a lot to me.


8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? 
Hands down Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Ever since I fell in love with Six of Crows I've been anticipating this sequel and it was everything I could have asked for.


9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? 
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, to refresh my memory for the sequel.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
J.K Rowling – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a gorgeous dark blue cover with gold details.

11. Most memorable character of 2016? 
Besides the group in Six of Crows, I would pick Holland from A Gathering of Shadows.


12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016? 
The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh is beautiful.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016? 
Perhaps Am I normal yet? By Holly Black, about a girl with OCD.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
Most books I read this year were published in 2015/2016, but the only one I can think of that is way older is The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? 
Jodi Meadows – The Mirror King.

“Sometimes we hate others for the things we hate in ourselves”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016? 
Shortest: I'm not going to count novella's, so book: Diane Zahler – A True Princess. 192.
Longest: Sarah J. Maas – Empire of Storms. 693.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most. 
The Cursed Child, because I simply couldn't believe how terrible it was. Horrible plot and so not-Harry-Potter-like. I hated it.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) 
I don't want to spoil anything, but let me say that I love all the sailing ships in the universe of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year. 
Despite the fact that my favorite Chaol simply disappeared to make way for sex scenes, I still love the friendship between him and Dorian.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously. 
I'm going with Ruined by Amy Tintera. I really liked her dystopian duology and she blew me away with Ruined. I never thought I would love it so much, because the story itself is pretty basic, but it was so good.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure. 
It is definitely not the best book I've ever read, but I finally picked up Illuminae by Kristoff/Kaufman and I love how unique it was.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016? 
None. Let me say, this was a mediocre reading year..

23. Best 2016 debut you read? 
None. All the debuts I read where disappointing.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? 
I don't care about repeating myself, because this book deserves to be named here: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. It is such a fascinating world.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. Despite the fact that it is a script, Rowling managed to make it feel like reading a story.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016? 
I don't cry/easily cry, so I can't think of one.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? 
C.J Redwine – The Shadow Queen, because I don't hear a lot about it and I loved it.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? 
Yep, Crooked Kingdom, simply because I don't want it to be over.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016? 
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, because of the plot. Illuminae by Kristoff/Kaufman, because of the way it is written.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? 
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, because the ending is amazing, but the overall story was disappointing. It could have been so much more.

What is the best book you read in 2016?

Bulletjournal adventure | December.



I started my official bulletjournal in June and after 7 months, my entire dotted Emerald green Leuchtturm 1917 is filled. I love to flip through it and see all the collections and spreads I've created. It helps me to stay organized in different ways, because it acts like a to do list, diary/journal and wishlist. It helps me to be creative in a different way and I love how I can practice different fonts and a more solid handwriting. Definitely be on the look-out for more bulletjournal posts in 2017, also to help you with setting up your bujo if you are interested.

Setting up the month. 

For the 'hello December' page I decided to draw some random snowflakes and Olaf. I accidently created a new month called 'Dember' in my monthly log, hehe.
Hello DecemberMonthly log decembers

The habit trackers are great, because they show me how I divide my time and what areas I should focus on. In my case, that is definitely working-out. The to read/to watch list is more an idea and over the months I rarely finished everything I wrote down, but it is a fun addition and I like to see how far I can come. It is most helpful for listing down review copies I should read that month.

December trackerTo read-to watch dec

Doodles
.
I was really ambitious this year and decided I wanted to make my own Christmas cards. Here are two examples. On the other photo you can see one of my pages in my sketchbook and I'm quite happy with the result.
Christmas cardsDoodle1

2017, the start of a new bulletjournal. 

I always like to start with a new beginning, so I am saying goodbye to my full Emerald notebook and I'm going to start in a dotted turquoise Leuchtturm. It is fun that I can perfect my set-up and all my spreads now that I have more 'experience'

2017 planning