A Very Late January Wrap-Up and February Releases [2017]

So. It’s February 19th (what?) but we still haven’t posted our January Wrap-Up. Woops! Maybe because we didn’t *read* a whole lot in January? Nevertheless, we still want to show you all what we read this past month, so here we go!

Sasha read three books:

  1. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (4*)
  2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (reread – 5*)
  3. The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (4.5* – review here!)

Sarena read three books:

  1. Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin (5*)
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (reread – 4*)
  3. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

And now for the hecka awesome books that release (or released) this month! Starting with our most anticipated …

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

32075671

KING’S CAGE by Victoria Aveyard

30226723

GUARDIAN OF SECRETS by Brenda Drake

29939285

WINTERSONG by S.Jae-Jones

24763621

EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES by Rhoda Belleza

30269126

A CONJURING OF LIGHT by VE Schwab

29939230

THE VALIANT by Lesley Livingston

30320008

DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING by Tricia Levenseller

33643994

THE LAST OF AUGUST by Brittany Cavallaro

30256105

AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi

30256109

THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ by Lilliam Rivera

26594801

THE SHIP BEYOND TIME by Heidi Heilig

30653880

Which books are you most anticipating this month? Until next time,

-S&S

 

[ARC Review] The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is known for her books told in verse, but her newest release, THE YOU I’VE NEVER KNOWN, is told in both verse and prose. Filled with poetry and deep messages, this novel was the most light-hearted-yet-emotional book by Hopkins thus far. I was offered a review copy by Simon and Schuster Canada, so big thanks to S&S for being so kind to send me an ARC. Without further ado, let’s get into the review by beginning with the synopsis. (I will admit, the synopsis gives away quite a bit relating to the ‘twist,’ so if you don’t want to read the synopsis, skip down below!)


30312837How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.


***Disclaimer: I received a review copy from S&S Canada. This has in no way impacted my review.**

This book was an emotional ride. It’s definitely a lot lighter compared to some of Hopkins’ other works, like IDENTICAL and BURNED, both of which I read and remember having heavier themes than this one. However, at the heart of this book, what I liked was that it contained a story about family. First and foremost, the novel was always about identity, family, and finding yourself. I liked how Hopkins was able to diverge from her usual writing style (verse) and use a mixture of the two to get across a unique dual PoV. Though I guessed the twist not long before it was revealed, it still came to me as a shock. (Kudos, Hopkins!) I especially enjoyed the diverse aspects of the novel, especially the exploration of bisexuality.

Now, let’s get into the two characters themselves. Both are young women, in their teens, exploring different parts of themselves. Ariel has never known life outside being with her father. Though her father was definitely the worst, Ariel was still able to forgive him for certain things, which I found to be very mature. I liked how different Maya’s voice was compared to Ariel’s, considering Maya’s parts are told in prose and Ariel’s in verse. I still have to say, though, that Hopkins’ verse is one of the best, so Ariel really stole the show for me. I wanted to keep reading her parts, which took up most of the novel compared to Maya’s sections, as they were really quick to get through.

I especially liked Monica and Gabe, though Monica won my heart in terms of BFFs-to-more characters. The fact that she’s Mexican and brings with her a rich culture and language made the story even more organic and diverse.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, though I’m not sure if I liked it more than the other two I’ve read by her. Those were hard-hitting with twists I did not see coming, especially in IDENTICAL. I remember reading IDENTICAL in one day, as well as BURNED. It’s been a few years since then, so I thought it was time to pick up another one of her books, but this one took me a bit longer to get through. This one did have a lighter tone, though, and made for a different, perhaps more unique (and maybe more enjoyable for some!) read.

My rating: 4.5/5*. This book released on Jan 24, 2017.

Until next time,

S&S

 

What’s On My Night Table #2

Welcome back! We decided we’d share what new books we’re currently reading (if you’d like to see the first post in this series, check it out here).

Sarena’s current read is:

GLASS SWORD by Victoria Aveyard

Sasha is currently reading:

THE YOU I’VE NEVER KNOWN by Ellen Hopkins (ARC–review coming very soon!)

She’ll also be starting ALIAS GRACE by Margaret Atwood (for class)

Image result for alias grace

What is everyone else reading? 🙂

-S&S

What’s On My Night Table? #1

Hey, all! You probably didn’t notice, but we didn’t post anything last week … even though our resolution is to post weekly on our blog. Woops! At least it’s Monday, so we can start on a clean slate. I (Sarena) decided to make a post about what’s on my night table currently. We’ll probably make this into a series of posts regarding what we’re currently reading. Let’s take a look!

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

Image result for harry potter and the sorcerer's stone

This is my first-ever reread of the first HP book. I’m actually reading the American edition since Sasha is using our British/Canadian one for her own reread. I picked up the American one on a whim at a convenience store nearby that had a small section of cheap books. (Random, I know.)

2. The Copyeditor’s Handbook (Edition 3) by Amy Einsohn

Image result for the copy editor's handbook edition 3

I’m reading over this one for our editing course! It’s actually super interesting, but that’s only because I love grammar (and learning about it).

3. Paper Hearts (eBook edition) Vol 1: Some Writing Advice

Image result for paper hearts beth revis

This is an eBook I received for free after the new year thanks to Beth Revis (and her great newsletter!). This is the first of three volumes in her Paper Hearts series. Each volume tackles something different. Volume 1 is writing, 2 is publishing, and 3 is marketing. I’ve only looked at a few chapters but it’s definitely a great read for writers/aspiring authors out there!

 

That’s it for now! What’s on your night table, book-wise? 😀

-S&S

2017 Bookish Resolutions

Hey, all! We’re already one week into 2017–how is that possible?! And yet we’ve already done so much: we started school (on Jan 2 … why) and kept working on our WIP, which we’re almost 20k into so far. (YAY!) It’s about time we shared our 2017 goals, book-wise!

Our reading goal:

-Read 50 books each (and make sure most of them are diverse/#ownvoices)

-Read more indie books!

Our writing goal:

-Write 2 new books; the first is an #ownvoices WIP, the other we’re not sure of yet!

Our blogging goal:

-Update our blog once a week, unless we’re on hiatus

-Attend as many bookish events as possible, and interact with other bloggers!

-Leave comments / blog hop more often 🙂

What are your 2017 resolutions?

-S&S

2016 Highlights + Wrap-Up

2016 was … a year, that’s for sure. There were some good things, and some very (very) bad things. However, we can’t forget all of the amazing things that DID actually happen, and that we accomplished in 2016. So we’re going to go through, month by month, and tell you 1 highlight, along with our favourite book we read that month. Let’s get started!

JANUARY

Ah. The beginning of 2016. The start of a new, fresh year. And let’s just say, we had a good month! (For both the reading and school category, and lots and lots of editing!). We didn’t attend any book signings or anything, but it was a good month for reviews and blogging! Our favourite post of the month was definitely… Continue reading

On Patience in Publishing

It’s been a while since we last spoke about our writing journey and the publishing industry in general (besides, well, book releases!), but recently we began a new, shiny WIP and it is magical and fantastical and so different from anything we’ve ever written.

Image result for writing gif

Which means, we’re really enjoying the writing process at this point. (The book hasn’t made us break down and cry … yet.) But, besides being a really fun book to write, it has become a bit of distraction. Not in a bad way–rather, it’s helping us move on and write another shiny manuscript that we finally have a passion for and don’t quit 10k in. We didn’t participate in NaNo last year because we were a part of #PitchWars (which we’ll hopefully have a blog post on in the near future!) and that month was crazy busy for … reasons. And then December rolled around, and we started this new project, and we wrote, and we stopped writing (holiday season, late exam) and then suddenly became refueled all over again toward the end of 2016. For days, we’ve been writing. Some days, we’ve written more than 5k. Others, 3k. Others, 1k. Either way, it’s been a really strong writing month so far (*coughs* only January 3rd *coughs*) and we’re definitely hitting our stride, despite the beginning of school.

Which is all cool and awesome. But.

If there’s something we don’t want … it’s to write this entire thing, edit too quickly, get beta readers and then edit too quickly again, and then …

Not take time. Not appreciate the work we have in front of us.

Of course, we’ve made our own deadlines. We’re excited about the project, so why wouldn’t we? And it’s really helping us to hit our quarterly goal (in terms of finishing this draft, editing, etc.). However, today I (Sasha) was surfing online and came across a few great blog posts on Patience in Writing and Publishing written by the wonderful author Lindsay Cummings, and decided to read them. Boy, were they helpful. I mean, I’ve read lots of things about how the publishing industry is slow, it’s painful, it’s tough. (Trust us, as self-pubbed authors as teens, even we know the value of taking time, perfecting craft, and … waiting.)

But that’s the thing. It’s a whole lot of waiting.

 

Image result for that's shocking elf gif

It’s not really shocking, but we needed an excuse to use this gif.

 

Which is to be expected. Books don’t come out for years at a time. In fact, we read another blog post today written by another fab author (Marissa Meyer) all about how often she wrote, worked, and even thought about Heartless while on tour. And she decided to record it all down. Her total? Over 700 hours. Yeah. Crazy. But … that book you’re currently reading? That author’s debut? It took them years too. Years to hone their craft. Maybe they went to school to get an MFA before writing. Maybe they jumped right in (like us!), and worked really, really hard to get their book on shelves or on your e-reader.

In terms of stats, the numbers surrounding queries in an agent’s inbox versus books they actually request versus clients they sign might seem … shocking for some. That is to say, agents get 1000s of queries in their inbox and sign around 3+ (it varies, I’ve seen some say up to 12!) clients a year. Not all agents have the same stats (hence: subjectivity!), but it’s true when agents say they only take on the best of the best. They simply don’t have time to work with everyone and anyone. It’s all about what they feel is best, who they think they might be able to sell the book too … and of course, whether or not they can champion the book–and the author–to the fullest potential.

The point is, authors write books and books and books until they hit the one. Some write the one … and suddenly to some it seems like: boom, agent! boom, book deal! That’s not always the case. Sometimes the process can be fast, but those cases are anomalies. One thing has stuck with me, truly: something that YA author Roshani Chokshi once said on Twitter (and I’m paraphrasing here, but it might be bang on!)–Twitter is a highlight reel. Social media seems to shout at readers these days and say, Look at all these published and soon-to-be-pubbed authors! There are so many! Never-ending TBR, here we come!

But there are writers out there who are working. Writing. And soon, they’ll be the ones on the shelves, the ones who were patient and hard-working and diligent and were lucky enough to find the right agent, the right publisher–ultimately, the right home for them and their book.

Unfortunately, this dream isn’t always realized immediately. Books don’t pop out from printers overnight. They’re carefully crafted, beautiful things. (I think we can all agree on that.) Which is to say, it takes a lot–and we mean a lot–of patience.

We’re working hard on that new WIP. We’re working hard on our #PitchWars manuscript too, trying to find the best agent for it. We’re coming up with ideas, spinning them around in our heads … we are writing. And writers, that’s the most important thing you can do. Before thinking “I want this now and this now and this“–the truth is it isn’t that simple, or fast. Your time will come, we promise. And when it does, it all will have been worth it.

-S&S