The ups and downs of blogging // 2 years blogiversary + birthday!!

Failed moment of the day: I literally spelled my blog title “Book Snakes” in an email and did not realize it for the longest time ever. Oops. (But it kind of sounds good? Is that just me…)

Hello everyone!! Ignore the above. 🙂 I meant to post this yesterday, but I got kind of caught up with things and didn’t get the chance, unfortunately. By things, I mean I turned 19 yesterday??? And it’s my 2 year-blogiversary?? It honestly doesn’t feel any different but somehow I’m older? But like I’m still not down with this whole adulting thing… #helpwhereismychildhood

This isn’t going to be a me-focused post, but a mini timeline:

I started my blog on March 20-something (let’s go with 24th because it’s around the time I started posting more often + saves me from mixing up dates), 2015. I have since then:

  • Survived high school (?!)
  • Started university (SO MUCH WORK but I suppose it’s an accomplishment haha)
  • Continued part-time work (aka I have even less time)
  • Bought too many books
  • Went to Disney World + Universal Studios (HARRY POTTER omg I CAN’TTTTT) and literally had the best time ever
  • Seriously though you can’t imagine how amazing it was.
  • I’m actually in love with Butterbeer and I even got a stuffed Hedwig I love herrrrr
  • I know I never even mentioned this until now?? lol. But I went during the week of Christmas (SO BUSY my god) and it was basically my dream come true in HP World. I adore roller coasters so much and it was heaven.
  • Written 435 posts (including this one)
  • Procrastinated on too many things

Can you believe it’s also been 2 YEARS since I started this blog??? My. mind. can’t. process. this. HOW has it been so long??? (Well, long for me, anyway, seeing how I never thought this would last this much time.) Granted, I didn’t blog for 7 months during this time, which is probably why it doesn’t really feel like 2 years, but nonetheless, it’s been 2 years since I started the blog! I wanted to take a moment to thank you guys, first of all, for sticking through my rambling inconsistent nonsense (who would have thought???), and secondly, for making this whole blogging thing SO WORTHWHILE. ❤ ❤

BUT. Blogging is HARD. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about particularly the things that are difficult, so here we go!

What I struggled with

Finding the time to blog

This is actually something I still struggle with, honestly. What is time and how do we have enough of it to do the 19876 things in our lives??? Someone please offer the answer, because I have no clue. When I first started, I tried to post everyday, and for a few months at a time, it worked. But my quality of posts were not as good, and I ended up giving up on the daily posts thing because life just gets SO BUSY. I occasionally prepare my posts in advance now, but other times, even that proves to be challenging. The posts alone can take so much of my time, it takes at least an hour for most posts, depending on the type… but then you add in making graphics, commenting, and all other blogging things… LIKE I SAID. No time. *cry face*

Writing blog posts

Finding the inspiration and idea to write a blog post–a creative, and interesting one–was actually much harder than I’d expected?? Am I the only one who thinks this?? I love writing discussions, for one, but coming up with a topic?? Can be so hard. Sometimes I’m totally struck by inspiration and it can be easy, but other times I try (and fail) to writing something semi-coherent and enjoyable to read haha. I’ve had to resign myself to this fact: there are very few ‘original’ topics. Most things (such as this pros and cons of blogging, if you will) have already been written about. But, as I learned, it’s your own take on it that makes it an interesting post! But that is hard when the topic just isn’t coming to you… *glares at past blogging slumps* Very familiar with that, unfortunately. 

Blog hopping & commenting

I adore blog hopping and commenting on other blogs!! It’s so much fun and I always love hearing from other bloggers–that interaction is what makes blogging so special, right? What I struggle with is again, time. Time, to not only reply to comments on my own blog, but also leave a comment on the commenter’s blog, and then go blog-hop on and comments on other blogs. I try my best, but sometimes I get behind on my commenting game, and reply to comments a bit late–and then also spend double the amount of time binge-blog hopping and catching up on posts I’ve missed. It’s just so time-consuming though, and I feel so bad that I can’t make it to every blog ahah. If I haven’t stopped by your blog in a while, I promise, I’m trying! 🙂

Getting caught up in the stats

I didn’t expect much when I first started blogging in terms of stats (i.e. followers, likes, comments, etc.) but I think after two years there are things I’ve come to expect from my blog, and I won’t lie, stats kind of really impacted my blogging experience in a negative way sometimes. As a human being, as a perfectionist-in-certain-areas person in particular, being ‘successful’ (in quotations because everyone has different definitions) is kind of a goal. And blogging takes so much work, and effort, that getting, say, lots of views, or lots of comments on your posts feels good, and when you don’t, it can lead, inevitably, to disappointment, which can lead later to a lack of motivation to blog. The easiest thing, I’ve learned, is to not care about the stats as much, but that’s easier said than done. It’s perfectly fine to care about the stats, just need to find that balance so that it doesn’t start to bring you down.

Comparing myself to other bloggers

Is it just me who has looked at other bloggers before “Their blog is so [successful/popular/creative/eye-catching/insert attribute here]” and subconsciously compared it to my own? There are SO MANY absolutely amazing blogs out there that 100% deserve all the praises, and I would be the first one to gush over the many fabulous qualities. I think it’s great to show that support, those bloggers deserve it so much! But then, comes in the creeping thought of “Is mine not good enough?” or “Why isn’t mine as successful?” and that’s when it gets difficult. I’ve been through it. Let me say this: YOUR BLOG IS GREAT, PEOPLE. I truly mean it. Stats, everything, doesn’t matter if you’re happy with your blog. It’s perfectly fine to love other blogs (you totally should!!) but take a moment to just appreciate your blog as well instead of comparing it because that will make you so much happier. ❤ #lessonlearned xD

What makes it all so worth it:

The blogging community

#1 reason, hands down!! My praises for the blogging community are literally endless. The limitless amount of kind, caring and such amazing people that I’ve met during my blogging years make me ask why aren’t people around the world more like them?? Legit, if the world was as lovely as the blogging community, we’d have world peace and so much more love!! ❤ ❤ Even better is the fact that through the blogging community, I’ve gotten the chance to meet and learn, about so many people, so many things, and of course, new books. It feels so great to know that whenever I have a book I adore (or a book I despise), there will ALWAYS be someone there to either fangirl or rant with me. That sense of belonging, got lost to me a few times over my blogging journey (7 months disappearing kind of does that…) but blogging again re-introduced me to the magic that I fell in love with; There is no better feeling than fangirling with another fellow human, a friend who understands you. And I know I’m verging on cheesiness-overload (if I’m not already swimming in it), but I really mean that! The amount of friends I’ve made through blogging has made all of it SO WORTH IT. All of the struggles I mentioned above? Mean nothing, at the end of the day when I think about how great all of you are. THANK YOU for being such lovely human beings. ❤ ❤

Gosh, now I’m all emotional. This is terrible for my rep, guys. Ugh. ❤

There are so many other good sides to blogging, trust me, but I’m really short on time right now and I hope this is enough aha. ❤ ❤ The blogging community is absolutely the best part though?!?


I still can’t believe it’s been 2 years. 

Okay, okay, I’ll get used to it! But thank you once again, and tell me: have you gone through any of these struggles?? How long have you been blogging, and what do you love about it? (Me, obviously, but that’s a given. :P) I love talking to each and every one of you, thank you SO MUCH for just being so supportive. ❤ ❤ A million hugs to all of you!!

Blogging Babbles: Blog design, Self-hosting and other daunting thoughts | DISCUSSION

*everyone double takes at the title as they realize it is not retelling/fairytale/Beauty and the Beast themed*

Yes, you read that right!! I will admit, yes, perhaps I was just a tiny bit obsessed with Beauty and the Beast for the past days leading up to the movie’s release, and had a few* themed posts the past week or so. I do hope you guys enjoyed it!! BUT. I am ready to move forward! My 2nd blogiversary is coming up soon**–though I need help deciding whether it counts because I didn’t blog for 7 months last year???–which means I’ve got a more blogging focus going right now. (You can tell I’m really into the “theme” idea here…).

*3, to be exact. Not very many, in the grand scheme of things. I was contemplating writing a post this time on why you should watch the movie itself, [which I adored by the way] but I figured a post of me screeching about how amazing it was wouldn’t be very helpful. So. JUST GO WATCH IT. And then come to squeal with me on the blog or on Twitter. Ahem.

**I can’t believe it’s been 2 years?????!! BUT. It’s a bit more complicated because I wasn’t sure if I was going to count this because I took a 7-month hiatus last year where I didn’t post anything??? I literally was DEAD. I’m scarred just looking at the HUGE BLANK in my blogging calendar for that time. Is my blogiversary even valid right now if technically it’s been 2 years – (minus) 7 months of blogging???? HELPPPPPP.

The topic you see here today is something that I had wondered/asked myself and was conflicted about for quite some time: Changing your blog’s design and the big question: self-hosting–Should you do it, the process, pros and cons, etc. AND I AM SO CONFLICTED. So let’s discuss! (Aka helpppppppp me I am a smol uncertain bean here)

The great self-host debacle begins!

*sigh* I make it sound so much more interesting than it is.

Why it is tempting.

My blog, has had pretty much the same look ever since I started blogging; the Visual theme offered by WordPress.com. A dark background with white lettering. What you see now is what it’s pretty much what’s always been, and there’s not really anything I can do to change its apperance. And I think that’s one of the things that has me thinking about the daunting idea of self-hosting, because it offers more freedom and control over blog design and how it looks. 

See, I still really like the theme I have now, but I’ve really been juggling with the idea of having a white background as a change instead of the dark one I have now. I do like it, because I feel like it’s unique in the sense that not many people (that I follow or have seen, anyway) have this theme, or a dark background. But even aside from that, I liked how it looked. But a light background is tempting because it feels so much more positive and uplifting than the dark one I have and also several people said they might like it better… It could bring a much-needed change to my blog?? I don’t know. *shrug*

So, I scroll through the free themes WordPress.com has to offer, preview a bunch of them, spend too much time screeching in despair, and I can’t find anything new, that suits me. I found a few themes that I like, but have been used so many times it doesn’t feel like me or feels like I’d be copying other bloggers haha. Which is silly, I know, but something in my head all the same. Others in theory are really nice but lack some of the qualities I’m looking for.

There’s also the option of WordPress.com’s Premium themes, before we hop on the self-hosting wagon. I’ve looked through some of those as well and although they’re nice, I couldn’t find anything that fit either. Shhhh I’m not being that picky. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really nice and I haven’t seen all of them, but at the moment, I’m still indifferent.

Which brings me to self-hosting! The two main reasons why it’s tempting to me at the moment: a) freedom over several things, but especially blog design, i.e. more options to play around with and b) my own blog name. Aka no “.wordpress.com” after your blog’s title URL. It’s nothing I can’t deal with, but I’d love to have my URL just be “booksnacks.com”, and self-hosting would allow me to do that.*

*I’ve also heard you can also buy your domain to get rid of the wordpress.com?? Or buy the URL?? Something like that? So it would still be WordPress hosting your site, but you can get rid of the ‘wordpress.com’?? Correct me if I’m wrong! But that’s definitely another idea as well.

The perks of self-hosting (WordPress.org), in a nutshell:

  • Full control over blog design, formatting, theme, etc.
  • More media space (I think?)
  • Option of monetizing your blog via ads
  • Basically lots of freedom.
  • Own domain (no wordpress.com)

There is a bunch more stuff about self-hosting vs not at these links, if you want to check them out: Difference between WordPress.com and .orgpros and cons, a helpful comparison.

To play the devil’s advocate…

Aka my fears and questions show their little heads

  • “What if you lose your posts while moving over to a different platform??” Okay, the earlier ones can disappear into the darkness but I have worked hard on the rest of the posts?? I poured my soul into them*, but mostly so much TIME and it would kind of suck if that all disappeared. o.O
  • “What if I lose followers/views?” I mean, it’s not that much of a big deal, but it would kind of suck if that happened?? Being a very lazy person, I like the convenience of having to only press one button in order to follow wordpress.com blogs, and the WordPress Reader is how many people find my blog so like…?? Again, not a big deal but it’s in your head all the same, you know?
  • “Do I even want to self-host?” Remember me being a very lazy person? Yeah, well seeing how switching to self-hosted would be I’d have to put in all that extra work and time keeping the blog in proper condition. And I don’t have enough time as it is…??
  • “I finally got the hang of this WordPress thing?? And self-hosting seems so much harder??” Correct me if I’m wrong, but self-hosted blog require more work, no? And definitely a lot of new things to grasp and learn about. I know there are tons of articles out there helping out with that sort of thing, but still. New. Concepts. #notime
  • “I can’t really pay for it??” I mean, I can but that’s an added expense that could’ve been spent on a) chocolate b) BOOKSSSSS c) new fuzzy socks or d) Bath and Body Works and e) MORE BOOKS.
  • Tbh why am I even having this discussion??
  • Cause the whole concept of self-hosting depends on PAYING.
  • And I just don’t have the finances for that?? #studentlife

BUT. It is still definitely that I’m interested in mostly because I want to change my theme but I can’t find anything for free that suits what I want and self-hosting would offer more freedom? As well as the fact that having a dot com url would be kind of nice. Yet WordPress.com is free and I have to do less work so. #nice And it’s also a great community and it’s easy to interact with others (via Reader)? UGH. SO MANY STRUGGLES. #halp


But what are your thoughts?? Have you thought about self-hosting? Have you changed your theme before? (Should I change mine??) If you are self-hosted, how is your experience? (Also does a blogiversary count if it’s technically been 2 years since you started but you hadn’t blogged for 7 months in that time??????)

Let’s chat!

What I love about Beauty and the Beast + Retellings | THE MOVIE IS OUT!!

Beauty and the Beast is finally OUT!! *cue screaming* Or for others, will be out very soon?!! I actually watched it yesterday and I loved it so much!! To be expected of course, but oh my gosh, the anticipation for this movie, the expectations were so high and ajrlkwjgwjgwinencksanwhenjfhsjns I’m just so glad this movie was made the way it was and MET MY EXPECTATIONS. *squeals*

And that’s perhaps a post for another time, but today, continuing my little B&B theme going on, I wanted to do a post about what I love about Beauty and the Beast! I’ve talked before about loving retellings, but I never discussed what I love about the fairytale this was all inspired by?!?? So here we go!!

1. Belle is kind of fabulous

I relate to Belle so much?? Okay, fine, I relate to her love for her books. I can’t exactly relate to anything else, but BOOKS. I love books + Belle loves books = I love Belle for loving books! I also love her dedication and love for her father, it’s really sweet! We don’t see many positive parent-child relationships in the earlier Disney princess movies–and side note: the live-action movie represented it better than the animated one in my opinion!! She’s also brave and kind, and this is highlighted even more in the live-action movie. (Whoops, this is becoming less of my thoughts on the original fairytale and more on the live-action movie!!)

2. The Beast

Okay, so he’s a total… um BEAST?? And he is quite horrible 70% of the time, but the relationship between Belle and the Beast is a pretty big factor as to why so many love the story–albeit the fact that there are definitely problematic issues with it. But he goes through a sweet journey and has nice growth #thingsreadersappreciate. No joke, everyone is fawning over the relationship between him and Belle and I’m just here like I’m glad he’s not as much of a jerk at the end #truth. But I did love the beast, don’t get me wrong haha.

3. LOVE (for the library, obviously.)

DO YOU SEE THAT LIBRARY??!?? THAT IS MY LOVE RIGHT THERE. ❤ ❤ Imagine having a library like that??! Filled with alllllllll the pretty books I adore… #goals. Booklover’s dream right here. Forget the prince, I want his library?? Give it to meeeeeee.

4. Belle and Beast’s Relationship

I’m not here to discuss the Stockholm Syndrome debacle and all, because a) I don’t feel qualified haha and b) that’s a whole other issue that is not the point of what I’m trying to say haha. What I love about their relationship is the growth and the development, and the beauty in finding the beauty within. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all, right? Seeing the Beast change and become more caring, and less beastly haha, and Belle falling for his kind side (and not the abusive side, mind you) was actually very sweet!! ❤ (And it was so lovely in the live-action movie!!!!)

5. Lumiere, Cogsworth, etc give me life.

I’m kind of in love with all of them?? Haha they’re just so much fun and adorable and growing up, they’re definitely one of the reasons I loved the movie. Call me childlike if you want, but they’re just as precious and just as much part of the story as anyone else!!

6. Tale as old as time.

Such nostalgia! Such memories! Beauty and the Beast (and just Disney in general) was such a big part of my life growing up haha and there’s just that emotional attachment! They all have this aspect of magic to them and I just think, that, paired with all the other elements, makes it so memorable–and so beloved. The theme, the characters, the story, all of it, is just so special.

Retellings for your Beauty and the Beast cravings!

Okayyyyy so confession!! As much as I’m obsessed with Beauty and the Beast, and obsessed with retellings, I haven’t actually read many retellings of it? I know! #sad BUT. I shall read more of them!! And I have collected a bunch of them, as many as I could find, for future reference and for you all to either a) add them to your own monstrous TBR, b) screech at me to read one of them that you adored or c) join me in my despair as we realize the lack of B&B in my life *the horror!!*

Read

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: An obvious pick, much? Haha. One of the most popular B&B retellings out there, I think. It’s New-Adult, I believe, and has some steamy scenes, but that’s the extent of it! I really loved this one.
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: I liked this one! I think?? It’s been a while since I read it and I’m not exactly sure anymore haha. It definitely had its issues, though (like any book) but it was still pretty good! The main character, Nyx, was kind of annoying, but I liked the world and the concept.
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn: Aha… um okay. Well. Didn’t like this one very much. Or at all. Which is so sad!! Because it’s Beauty and the Beast and everything but like…. I couldn’t connect to the characters much at all? The narrator, the Beast, was actually SO ANNOYING and didn’t get any better, and I just didn’t care about him at all. So disappointing!

Unread

  • Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay: I haven’t read this one, but it sounds really good?? It  was released 4 years ago, and I’ve heard really great things.
  • Hunted by Megan Spooner: This was released a few days ago, I believe, and I can’t wait to read this one!! Out of all the retellings, I think this is the most recently-released and most anticipated one for me.
  • As Old As Time by Liz Braswell: This one actually seems really good as well! I definitely want to pick it up sometime.

That’s it for this post! I LOVE Beauty and the Beast so much, and I just wanted to share a few reasons why, though I suppose a lot of it goes unsaid! 🙂 By the way, the movie was AMAZING and I now am going to squeal at all of you to go watch it!! If you couldn’t tell by my blog posts recently, I’m obsessed with this and the movie was so great as well so basically I’m screeching in happiness.
But I digress!! What do you love about Beauty and the Beast? What are you *gasp* not a fan of? (It’s okay, I can take it. Mostly.) What retellings of it have you read/recommend for me to read? Have you watched the movie/plan to watch the movie (the correct answer to the latter is a solid yes btw)? Let me know in the comments!!
Lots of love!

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag // Only a few more days!! Shh, I’m not obsessed.

Another Beauty and the Beast-themed post? Why, yes, yes it is. Hush, no, I’m not obsessed with Beauty and the Beast…! But seriously, I haven’t done a book tag in SUCH a long time and this one is perfectly-themed. ❤ I was tagged by Emily @ Embuhleeliest–thank you so much! (My current obsession with Beauty and the Beast is being satisfied with this tag, pretty much so I AM GRATEFUL.)

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator; Kirsty at Kirsty and the Cat Read.
  • Match a book to each of the songs/characters below.
  • Tag as many people as you like.


“Tale As Old As Time” – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading

Does the sassy/sarcastic/witty character count as a trope?? I say it does. It’s very common, I think? I will never get bored of reading it though?! Looking back on my reads, so many of my favourite books have at least one, if not more, witty character and I LOVE THEM. They just bring so much light and just always bring a smile to my face. I just get all the banter via them and it’s so amazing, especially if you love the characters. Some of my favourite books with this trope:

Oh my preciouussssss children; Will, Kaz, Nina, Wylan, Jesper & Co, Blue & the Raven Boys (!!!!!!!!!!!)

I can’t seem to think of any contemporary novels right off the bat, which is a problem… #moresassycharactersplz

Belle – A book you brought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

JUST LOOK AT IT. It’s so beautiful it makes me want to cryyyyy. ❤ ❤ It seems to be a hit-or-miss among readers, but for me it was definitely a hit! I didn’t fall in love with it as much as others, granted, however I did love the beautiful writing and other aspects of it, which is great because THAT COVER. If I didn’t love the story it would be such a shame haha. (Am I the only one who kind of adored Kamala more than the main character though…)

Beast – A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Prior to picking up this book, I had read the author’s previous book, Alienated, which I was not the biggest fan of, so I’ll admit, I didn’t have high hopes for this one? I really shouldn’t judge on past experiences? But, I was wary anyway. Fortunately it seems like I had nothing to be wary of, because I ended up loving this book! I fell in love with the characters the plot was exciting, and it was just a really great experience. I need to read Starfall now though, asap!

Gaston – A book everyone loves that you don’t

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I wouldn’t say everyone loves this?? Because I do know a fair amount of people who were disappointed/didn’t enjoy this book. However, I think this series in general has a relatively large fanbase and many people did love this one (which is awesome!! GO ENJOY BOOKS, children) but, unfortunately, I just couldn’t help but be disappointed. Mare was so annoying, and there were just many things that didn’t click for me (that I can’t remember specifically because #terriblememory here whoops). I’m holding out hope for King’s Cage though? PRAY FOR ME.

Lefou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart

Sevro from Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

This one was SO hard because generally, I love the sidekick less or equally as much as the main character? But guys, SEVRO. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Darrow, but SEVRO IS AMAZING. I loved him so so so much, and as much as I was concerned with everyone’s fate, his was one that I especially looked out for because guys, he is so great. So loyal, so brave, so fierce, witty and aghhhh. He deserves all the love!! ❤

Mrs Potts, Chip, Lumière & Cogsworth – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

This book didn’t exactly help me through a difficult time, but it did teach me something so valuable, and SO IMPORTANT. Julian’s story was so heartbreaking, but showed the value of kindness, of friendship, of love, and the profound impact a person can have on others–see?? SO VALUABLE ahhhhh I loved it so much. ❤ ❤

“Something There” – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

I haven’t yet read the fifth book, but I really enjoyed Frozen Tides. I got onto a rough start with the first book, mostly due to the characters, and the very cliché plot. Although the clichés didn’t necessarily diminish as the books went on, I did get more drawn to the characters and the action kept me invested, so that’s a plus! I’m looking forward to reading Crystal Storm, though at the moment it’s not exactly a priority… #strugglesoftoomanybooks

“Be Our Guest” – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner

Kell and Rhy from Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Did you really think I’d get through this post without mentioning them?? Haha. Nope. But seriously, having these two over for dinner would be so amazing?? Rhy’s sense of humor and charisma is SO GREAT (*cry as I am reminded he is not real*) and KELLLL. ❤ ❤ Why aren’t they reallllllll. *cries some more*


That’s it for this post!! Join me in my B&B-obsessed party (or perhaps not because it is very difficult to escape once you have–I’m warning you!) and let me know your thoughts! What book is your Belle/Beast/Gaston/Lefou/etc? Who would you invite to dinner? (Or you could join me and Kell & Rhy, of course. :P) Happy Tuesday!

EDIT: I didn’t tag anyone for this, but if you want to do this tag, GO FOR IT. I take back any of my warnings, come join me in my B&B party and link back to this post if you do the tag. And if you have done it already, be sure to send me the link down below so I can come check it out. 🙂

Reasons I love retellings + recommendations! | Aka I’m super excited for Beauty and the Beast (!!)

Beauty and the Beast is releasing in less than a week!! I am SO excited, you guys. I love Emma Watson, I love the fairytale, I love Belle, all in all means I’ll love the movie, right?! I’m only slightly over the moon about this. Psh. It’s not like I already planned out two Beauty and the Beast-themed posts for the coming week. Nope.

All that aside, I suppose I’d be lying if I said that this post wasn’t inspired by fairytales… I mean, I’d always loved fairytales as a kid, and now, I have retellings of them that keep the fairytale love alive. And with the Beauty & the Beast movie-retelling approaching, I thought I might talk about why I love YA book retellings–I definitely don’t talk about them much. ❤ Let’s get into it!

1. An old concept gets developed into something new.

Fairytales like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, all of them, are something pretty much everyone is familiar with?? If you’ve never heard of these, I’m sorry, but the only thing I can ask is HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK??! Of course, for the lesser known fairytales, it’s a different story, but most people know of the fairytales I mentioned (thanks, Disney). But nonetheless, whether you live under a rock or not, the point remains with retellings: an old concept gets developed into something new! One of the most basic reasons I love reading retellings is because I get to see elements of the original fairytale/story, mixed in with new ideas, ultimately turning it into its own tale. 

2. Uses much creativity!

I LIKE CREATIVITY. And imagination. Because I have none of my own. Because I love seeing the power of a person’s mind and I love it when someone else is able to make me see things their way, or show me a whole new world. (Comment if you got that!!) You’d think retellings require less creativity than books written based off nothing. Thing is: no book is ‘based off nothing’. And to write a good retelling, a GREAT one, you need a heck a lot of creativity and talent. Because a great retelling, isn’t just re-telling a fairytale. It’s creating something alike in concept, but something different and yes, CREATIVE (I used that too many times, but oh well), because no one wants to read a rehash of something already written, am I right? Hence creativity comes into play. 

3. Upgraded version of fairytales

Kicka** protagonists, anyone?? (*Cough* Cinder *Cough* Feyre) The original fairy tales deserve credit for sure (especially for lasting so long in people’s minds haha) but retellings have the opportunity to include things that the OGs missed. It’s up to authors of the 21st century, to write the story how they will, which means we get to say goodbye to aspects like the damsel in distress (not that there is anything wrong with that trope, just I’d say we’ve had enough of that for a lifetime, eh?), and perhaps offer the villains a chance to either redeem themselves or gather our sympathy. AND THAT IS SO AWESOME. Personally, I love both stronger and less damselly protagonists AND villain POV stories, and it’s so cool that recent retellings have both, and more, to admire and read about. Retellings = upgraded fairytales, and sometimes they sound like they’re better than the originals, or they turn out to be better than the original.

I’d usually list a lot more, but these are actually the main reasons I can think of at the moment, so I’ll leave it at thar haha and allow you guys to chime in if you have any other reasons. 🙂

YA Retelling Recommendations

I don’t think it would be right to have this post without a few recommendations for some of my favourite retellings, now isn’t that right? Becuase obviously now you think retellings are fabulous, and require many retellings to satisfy your need for them right now. I AM YOUR HERO.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 

I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH. It’s a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, which I’d never heard of actually until this book and it was so great, I’m telling you. GO READ IT if you haven’t already.

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston*

Another retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, I’m actually currently reading it, and although there’s a chance I won’t end up liking it, so far it’s really good so at the moment, it’s a tentative rec!

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

An Aladdin retelling that is pretty much BETTER than the original!! This book features an amazing protagonist, wonderful setting and characterization, and plot, all in all such a great read. It had elements of Aladdin, but was such a unique story on its own!

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Featuring: retellings of Cinderella (Cinder), Little Red Riding Hood (Scarlet), Rapunzel (Cress) and Snow White (Winter, and Fairest from POV of Evil Queen). This series melds 4 different fairytales into a seamless series full of action, intrigue, and romance. I loved how all their stories interconnected, it was so great!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

An Alice in Wonderland retelling–and origin story of the Queen of Hearts, if you will–this book, although entertaining, I’ll admit didn’t really reach my expectations, especially considering how much I loved the author’s previous series! But, I’m putting it on here because A) There aren’t many Queen of Hearts origin stories and B) I am but a black sheep, and perhaps you shall enjoy it more. I hope, anyway!

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

This series is actually a Robin Hood retelling! And I liked the first book, although it does have a love triangle, so be warned! The ‘Robin Hood’ of the story was a girl, actually, and the author put a nice spin on the story. However, I have not since picked up the rest of the series, so no idea how it continued!

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

A retelling of Blackbeard, the pirate, there was very little actual pirating in the first book, but it was a very nice read nonetheless! I really liked the characters, and am eagerly anticipating reading the second book, which I’ve heard holds more pirating. 🙂

Retellings Not-yet-read

BASICALLY ALL OF THEM. I will make a small list… and I shall hide at the end of it…

Sleeping Beauty

Cinderella

Snow White

The Wizard of Oz

 

Peter Pan

Alice in Wonderland

Other Retellings

Not yet released:

SEE? SO MANY I HAVEN’T READ. *hides* (And yes, I do realize I put no Beauty and the Beast retellings here…) But you’re welcome if I helped grow your TBR. *evil laugh*


But I am very qualified to list the reasons why retellings are so awesome, as I have done in this post. *nods* So tell me! Do you love retellings? Why or why not? Which ones have you read? Any recommendations for me? Did you get my clever-not-clever hidden-not-hidden little pun in reason #2? Do you prefer the originals or the retelling? Let’s talk! ❤

Friendships, Family, Food & Diversity | The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

Hello and happy slightly-belated book birthday to this novel! I hope you’re all doing well. ❤ I wanted to have this review up yesterday when it was released, but unfortunately, life got in the way. But hey, better late than never! I’m not always this good at reviewing near the release date haha.

But anyway! It’s been a long time since I read something like this book. It was a really nice read. I finished it pretty quickly, as well, considering the fact that it had a very slow paced plot. But, despite the plot, what I loved most was the characters and how it focused on them. That was what made this book so wonderful to read. Although, the general consensus around this book according to other bloggers is that Aristotle and Dante was better–I can’t vouch for this, personally, as I have never read it, but if you have read Aristotle and Dante and loved it, your best bet is probably to go into this one with lowered expectations. Let’s just get into the full review, shall we?

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC thanks to Netgalley for review purposes! ❤ All opinions are my own. Oh, and all quotes mentioned are retrieved from the ARC, and may be changed in the final copy. Just a sidenote! 

the-inexplicable-logic-of-my-lifeThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A–Stand Alone
Page Count: 464
Source & Format: Netgalley eARC

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover, the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

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There were actually multiple mentions of food and TACOS in this book as well… Aka I am very hungry right now.

Features an AMAZING fictional father

“He said, ‘Every time I look into your blue eyes. Every time I hear you laugh. Every day, when I hear your voice, I thank God for you. Yeah, Salvador, I believe in God.'”  

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sal’s father, Vicente Silva, is one of the best fictional fathers I have ever seen. He was an amazing father who had such a deep bond with not only his son, but everyone around him, and that was so beautiful. He was there for Sal the whole time, for Sal’s best friend Sam, for their new friend Fito. He was there for each and every single one of them, offering them comfort and discipline. And love, my god, so much love. My heart hurts from how much I loved his love for everyone. He shows strength, in who he is, who he believes, what he does, in everything he does but still had fears and uncertainty just like every person. His and Sal’s and his and Sam’s moments were truly amazing, along with pretty much everyone else he met. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say he truly is a notable father–and a notable person–that deserves all the recognition it can get. Because fathers like these, in novels? A rare gem. 

“I happen to be gay. I don’t think that makes me a faggot. I’m also a Mexican American. I don’t think that makes me a taco bender. I don’t think that makes a beaner. I don’t think that makes me a spic. And I don’t think that makes me an illegal.” 

CAN SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN AN AWARD PLEASE?

No romance, but lots of love.

Apologies to all romance lovers out there! No romance in this one, but that was one of its strong points. I’ve already mentioned before having more books with little to no romance and well, here’s this one! I think it’s really great what the author did here; not all teens find their soulmates in high school (ahem. Example: me), and focusing on aspects like love for family and friends, made this book refreshing and incredibly heartwarming. There was no shortage in love though; what this book lacked in romance, it more than made up for it with its focus on the love between Vicente and Sal, Sal and Mima, Sal and Sam’s platonic and wonderful friendship, Sal & Sam and Maggie, the dog, Sal, Sam and Fito, Sal and his uncle, and the list goes on and on. The family dynamics in Sal’s family was so beautiful, and I can not express how much I adored them. Family is SO important, and I loved the emphasis on that in this book. 

Speaking of non-romantic relationships; the friends in this book are actually #goals. Individually, my feelings on them vary, but Sal, Sam, and later Fito have such an adorable and supportive friendship that I adored. Sam and Sal’s friendship particularly stuck out to me; in them, I saw elements and phrases that I could either relate to with my own friends or just that I loved reading. And! They. Only. Stay. Friends!! NO I’M NOT JOKING. Yes, I’ve come to answer your prayers. Jk, but I’m a strong advocate for more female-male friendships, and this book featured one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. Sam and Sal were so supportive of each other, so close and loving it made my heart hurt. Each of them had their own demons to battle, but they each had each other (among other people, of course) to push them to do so.

Sometimes family and friends are one of the best and biggest forms of love, and I loved how this book focused on those aspects of life. 

Other tasty aspects…

  • THE FOOD. This is the only one that actually makes sense in relation to the above statement. There were much tacos and tortillas and enchiladas and…. now I’m hungry. Help.
  • I didn’t get to mention my love for Fito!! Because I did love him. SO MUCH. He was so precious and did not deserve 90% of the things that happened to him. Probably one of my top favorite characters in this one, despite the fact that he isn’t exactly a main character until about halfway or something through the book.
  • Oh, I also should probably mention Sal, the main character! I did like him as well, he was SO sweet, and I loved the love he had for his family and Sam, and Fito. His relationship with his Mima was very nice as well, along with him and his father. ❤ Though, I did get exasperated with his anger-related issues at several points, it was okay.
  • Beautiful writing! It was simple but lyrical and it was lovely to read. I wouldn’t say I flew through the book because of it, but it did seem to make things seem less long, I think. Or maybe that was just me. Though, I will say, it’s kind of repetitive and the sentences can be pretty choppy. I don’t think this bothered me that much, but I know it can be a pet peeve for others aha.
  • I adored the diversity!! The book is filled with POC and queer characters, which I loved! Sal is white, but his adoptive father is Mexican, and Sal basically identifies as a Mexican and that was so precious.

I’m trying to make the headers a bit more related to my blog title!! I TRIED, OKAY. 😛

  •  Okay, so I mentioned I loved Sal and Sam’s friendship?? And I did, it was amazing. But Sam herself… eh, not as much. Sam’s development is great, however, I felt like her character the majority of the time tried too hard to not be like ‘other girls’. And that was annoying, because she ended up being a character who had no female friendships, instead calling them bitches, etc. *sad face* It was quite frustrating, really, because I really did want to enjoy her character more (she kind of shows up the entire novel, so like…)–and she had so much potential but… *sigh*
  • Things were too… similar for all three of the teens. Specifically in the mom department, which seemed all too… I don’t know. Unrealistic? Unlikely? I mean, I suppose it is possible but it seemed all too convenient and more of a plot device to have the characters have something in common that I could not 100% buy. #Justamethingprobabaly
  • Another thing that makes me quite.. conflicted, is the stereotypical and offensive statements in the novel. Things like “For a gay guy, my dad was pretty straight.” or “One thing about Sam was that she didn’t throw like a girl*.” and several other phrases. I just found them so unnecessary? Perhaps it was to show the naivety of the main character or something, I don’t know, but whatever the case may be, you could take those out and it would change nothing of the story, characters, theme, whatever. Nothing. It was just so unnecessary. 
    *Why is this still a thing?? Albeit in a fictional novel, but like still?
  • NO PLOT. And I know, it’s a character-driven novel, which is great, but like, 400+ pages is a lot to go through with a slow-paced plot. I do think you should be prepared for that, or else you’re going to be quite bored and disappointed with the plot. I mean, you might still be bored with the plot, but still, it’s not terrible, just it might be easier if you’re prepared with that info, haha.

Overall…

An enjoyable read! I really did like it, problems aside. Though from what I’ve seen, this is a lot of a hit-or-miss situation, most reviews I’ve seen have either given this book 4 stars, or 2. So. A lot of people have also expressed how this book does not live up to Aristotle and Dante, so if you have read that book, just a heads up! For me, personally, I have not yet read Ari and Dante, and I think that helped a bit if only to have more reasonable expectations aha. As a recap: I loved the focus on non-romantic love such as friends and family, the diversity, the FOOD of course, and especially Sal’s father. It truly was wonderful to read about that. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sam’s, and there were phrases that were totally unnecessary, but overall, I do think it’s worth a read if you enjoy family dynamics, and character-driven novels. 


Wow, that was a long review! I tried out a slightly different format for my review today and I think it caused me to revert back to my rambling review days…

But tell me! What do you think of this novel? Have you read Ari and Dante yet? Did you like it? If you haven’t read it, tell me so I don’t feel so alone haha. 😛 What are your thoughts on problematic phrases in books? Any other books you know of with strong family dynamics and/or friendship and diversity? Do you plan on reading this book? Let me know in the comments, don’t let my frantic 2AM typing go in vain aha. Hope you have a lovely day! ❤

Diversity, friendships, and more! | Dear future authors: pretty please include more of these things in your books (!!!)

Hey everyone! I hope you guys are all doing well. ❤ My blogging schedule is as unpredictable as ever, but I’m back today with another post; this time with a list of things I wish I could see more in the books I read. In this case, it would be YA, but honestly, no matter what the intended audience is, we should have more of these things. YA books are great, believe me, they are. Are they perfect? No, of course not. Every book has its set of problems. However, there are things that totally deserve more attention and should totally appear more in books, which is what I want to discuss today. Let’s do this.

Things I Wish Were in More Books

1. Girl + Girl Friendships.

(Aka fromances.* Just fyi.) Beth’s wonderful post talking about girl on girl hate in YA books inspired this one–it’s something that was always in the back of my mind, but reading this post made me realize how little female friendships there are in YA fiction. We have our bromances, which are AMAZING, but the fact that I cannot think of many examples of  YA books with strong female friendships is SO problematic. So many of YA’s readers are female, and no matter what the age, every single one of them deserves to recognize and relate, and fall in love with a strong female friendship because that is part of our lives. Female friendships exist, and are so, so important. They are a HUGE part of my own life–and I will bet yours as well–and it makes me so sad that I don’t see many books reflecting that in the lives of their characters. Female friendships (fromances!!) can be one of the strongest bonds ever, just as much as the bromances or the romantic ships. They are one of the most prevalent relationships in the lives of girls everywhere, so why are the majority of our YA books lacking this friendship in the characters’ life?

*Hey, there are bromances, why can’t there be fromances? THIS IS NOW A THING. Do not judge.

2. Male-female friendships.

Continuing on the theme of friendships, I would totally love to see more male-female friendships. I recently read The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, featuring an AMAZING, completely platonic, strong friendship between Sal, the main character, and his best friend, Sam. Their friendship was SO sweet and I loved it so much–but I’ll save that for the upcoming review. Point is: yes, there are definitely boy-girl friendships already that are great. But it only goes on to show that they should totally be in more books as well, because hey! News flash: boys and girls can be just friends. Everyone knows this. It’s always great to see a developed, boy-girl friendship in books to chip away at the idea that boys and girls can only be interested in each other romantically. And honestly, what harm is there melting a reader’s heart with a beautiful friendship? Friendships, in general, are awesome, and we totally need more of them. 

3. FOOD.

This might be affected by the fact that I am very very hungry right now. But nonetheless!! FOOD. Oh my gosh. So important, guys. I am always mildly shocked in the back of my mind when I read a book, and the characters go so long without food. No mention of it, nothing. There are books who do, definitely (and they understand me on a spiritual level*), but it is something that could totally be added to more books. See, food makes a book a) more realistic, b) more relatable c) more eat-able (book talks about food = book becomes said food?? Bet that’s how it works.) and d) overall more interesting because FOOD. I mean, I probably wouldn’t remember any of the descriptions of food past two seconds, but it’s in the moment, you know?

Ugh, this isn’t helping my hunger at all. I need to go restock my snack storage. Brb.

4. All the family.

CAN WE HAVE MORE FAMILY PLEASE? Thankfully I’m not dying of deprivation (yet) thanks to the select few wonderful books that have amazing moms and dads and siblings. ❤ Seriously, those books are actually the best and especially special because there are such few healthy familial relationships in YA, which is why they’re on this list. A healthy father-child bond or mother-child bond, or parents-child bond can be so impactful and so wonderful to read about. Is having parents who are present, caring, concerned and responsible too much to ask for? It really shouldn’t be. I get that, in many circumstances, absentee parents are a device for sympathy, plot, development, and who knows what else, but that does not mean we can’t have books with realistic and healthy portrayals of family because that is equally important in our lives and totally deserves more rep.

5. Little to no romance.

I’m aware of the fact that there ARE in fact many books without romance, don’t worry. I mean, I could list a few, definitely not as many as I would like, though. Because as much as I love romance in YA books (Ships yay), sometimes it’s nice to have books without, seeing how a) it gives us a break between all the emotional havoc our hearts go through the other 99% of the time, b) shows that romance isn’t everything! Because it really isn’t. See above friendships and family. ❤ and c) who has time for romance, anyway? Jk. But I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more books with little to no romance! Because hey, it’s all a part of life. Realistically, a lot of people don’t meet their one and only love in high school anyway aha. 😛

6. Slow-burn romance.

Does it make sense that I put books with no romance and books with slow-burn romance? Shhhhhhh, of course it does. Just as much as no romance books are important, I doubt YA fiction is going to kill off romance easily, which, I don’t mind because there are some really great books out there with them! Honestly, there is an endless array of books to choose in the YA romance area. But, specifically, I love slow-burns. Fantasy novels are usually quite good at this, and their romance doesn’t completely overwhelm the story, which is great for readers not looking only for romance. It would be great for more contemporary novels to have a developed and slow-burn romance too! Insta-love, for example, is not something I’m a fan of in books, which seems to appear a lot, which is why I’m advocating for more developed romances because those are so great to read, and offer a lot more to the characters and plot-wise in my opinion.

7. DIVERSITY.

This is probably the one most everyone will agree on, which is great because diversity is so important. Whether it be featuring POCs, people of the LQBT+ community, people suffering from mental illness, people with disabilities, people of different religions, etc. There are so many different people around the world–and, not just cis, white people featured in so many YA books. I have nothing against those characters, but it is a disservice to the beauty of this world, and the many wonderful, wonderful people who don’t get that much representation in the books they read. We aren’t all the same, and getting those books with characters who are similar to you can be so empowering. However, I firmly believe that if you are going to include diverse characters in a book, please, please, you have a responsibility to do it right. YA fiction, is, of course, fiction, but when it comes to diversity and representation, whether it be a race of people, or people with disabilities, or the LGBT+ community, or a culture, or anything, it’s more offensive and disrespectful to misrepresent them, including them in books but having them reduced to clichés, stereotypes. Which, is another reason why the #ownvoices movement is so great. Diversity, fortunately, is something that is being publicized more than ever, which means there are TONS of amazing diverse books out there (YAY), but I will forever be an advocate for more diverse books because it’s something that should be the norm, as well as celebrated. Why do I want–need–more (accurately represented) diverse books? For all the people who deserve to see themselves represented. For everyone so they can be educated on all the different people of the world. For everyone because they are important. Case in point: We all need diverse books. We will never not need more of them. ❤


WOW that last paragraph was longer than I expected. There is so much to say on the topic! But anyway. Friendships, diversity, family, food, these are all things I adore to see in books, things that are SO important to me and so passionate about. Can we please have more of them in YA?! Pretty please??

Sincerely, 

a deprived bookworm

Until the Next Meal, Analee

P.S. Until my plea is answered, let’s discuss! Don’t leave me hanging here, I spent a lot of time on this. 😛 Which of these do you want to see more of? What do you think about the whole diversity debacle? Any other things you want to see in YA books? ❤