Ya Asylum

Thursday, November 20th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 19: Most Eagerly Awaited TBR Books

For day 19 of BookBlogWriMo (don’t worry, double posting tomorrow to catch up!):

#WaitingOnWednesday – TBR Books – Name some books on your TBR shelf and why you’re looking forward to reading them.

*stares up at TBR stack* Um. You mean, pick just a couple of books out of that stack? The one that’s currently bursting through the roof and may or may not be in orbit?

Right, this is going to be a difficult task.

Okay, if you insist, I suppose I’ll pick a few of my absolute favourites. ;) Here are my most eagerly awaited TBR books – all books that have already come out, since I’m absolutely TERRIBLE with keeping up with new releases, but I do hope you enjoy it anyway!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

You guys already know how hard I fell for Fangirl, and I’m waiting with bated breath for the day I get to read Eleanor & Park – which I’m possibly even more excited for. It features some of my favourite things on the planet: good music, outcasts, and a gorgeous cover. ;) What more could I ever want? I own both the original and the pretty blue special edition (from my US book haul!), so I’m waiting for a special day to crack this one open – it seems I never quite get around to it, but I’ll get there one of these days!

Angelfall by Susan Ee

I’m kind of torn on this one, because it’s gotten some mixed reviews from my bookish friends… but the premise is amazing and the cover is beyond beautiful (WHY am I such a cover snob?! This can’t be normal!), so at this point I’m really just curious to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve always loved angelly/demony stuff, so this is right up my alley – I’ve been told that it’s pretty gorey in places, but I’ve never been afraid of that kind of thing, so I’m really interested in seeing how it is. :D

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl is one of my all-time favourite books – especially the heroine, Stargirl herself – but for some odd reason I still haven’t picked up the sequel. (There is a reason I rarely read series. I’m so bad at keeping up with them – and this is just a duology! I’m ashamed of myself!) The good news is I actually remembered to order Love, Stargirl on Book Depository last week, so that’s one I’m going to be reading very, very soon. And I can’t wait to read a book from Stargirl’s POV – after, of course, the obligatory reread of the first book!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The first line of the blurb is incredible, which is what drove me to pick up this book in a little hole-in-the-wall bookstore in New York: The monster comes after midnight. As they do. Honestly, I don’t really know what I love so much about it – perhaps it’s the second sentence, which has such a Ness-like feel to it. (I just – I can’t even with Patrick Ness, okay. MORE THAN THIS. DON’T TOUCH ME.) But yes, I bought it on whim and I was going to read it last month but then life happened, so I had to skip it. Soon, though! Very soon!

Okay, it took me way too long to narrow down that list, but I’m very proud of myself for finally doing it. ;) Guys, what are your most eagerly awaited TBR books? Do you have the strength and courage to do as I did, braving the murky waters of TBR-land to get to just a couple of shining picks? (If not, don’t worry – it’s a learned skill. ;))

Tell me about your TBR list in the comments!


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Wednesday, November 19th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 18: Favourite Subgenres

A short and sweet post for day 18 of BookBlogWriMo (thank goodness, since it’s monstrously late over here in Singapore and I would prefer not to fall asleep tomorrow in class, thank you very much!):

Favourite Subgenres - Self-explanatory.

Since you’re reading this blog, I do hope you’ve connected the dots and figured out that all of us on YA Asylum love all sorts of genres, but are connected by just one: YA! Personally, I’ve dabbled in a lot of different genres and I love them all, if they’re done right – fantasy, horror, mystery, and contemporary are a couple of my favourites – but I’m always drawn to the YA subgenre above all others.

To be honest, I’m not really quite sure why that is. There’s the obvious reason, of course – since I’m a teenager myself, it would make sense that I’d be drawn towards books written about my age group – but I think it’s something more than that. I’ve never really been able to quite put my finger on it, but I believe it might have a little to do with the fact that I find stepping into teenagers’ heads so very intriguing

I’ve said this time and time again: a story can go nowhere without great characters. Plot is all well and good, but characters are what truly make or break a story for me, and in YA the characters are so much more vibrant than in any other subgenre I’ve found. I believe might have something to do with the fact that teenagers have a lot less experience than adults – they’re still trying to find themselves and figure out who they are. They feel things so much more intensely because they haven’t yet figured out how to deal with life and everything that comes along with it. They know what they want – or at least, they think they do – but they don’t know how to deal with the consequences of getting it. They’re rash and fiery and just developing into the people who they’ll someday become.

And wow, does that combination make for interesting characters.

So that’s the main reason why I love YA – the characters are actually pretty incredible compared to other subgenres. Do you guys agree with me? (I’d hope so, since you’re reading YA Asylum – if not, why exactly are you here again?) And if not YA, what are the subgenres you tend to gravitate towards?

What subgenres do you love?

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Tuesday, November 18th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 17: Favourite Book Tropes

The prompt for day 17 of BookBlogWriMo is as follows –

Favourite Book Tropes - Friends with benefits? Manic pixie dream girl? What cliche-type things do you never get sick of?

Well, if we’re really being honest here, there’s only so many ways a book can be unique. Seriously, there are millions and billions and trillions of them out there – especially in the YA genre, now that it’s gaining popularity amongst adults as well as teens! And while it’s the coolest thing ever to find a completely special, set-apart book, it’s also possibly the hardest thing ever.

The good news: there are some tropes that never grow old for me no matter how many times I read about them! Here are my favourites:

Introverted protagonists

I wouldn’t really call this a trope, since I kind of wish there were more introverted MCs in YA lit, but whenever I do stumble upon an introverted protagonist it’s a beautiful moment. ;) Part of the reason I so love Fangirl is because Cath, the MC, is possibly one of the most introverted people I’ve ever met – she does come out of her shell a little towards the end, but deep down she’ll always feel most at home in the quiet, lonely spaces. There are so many extroverted protagonists in YA lit – a bit of an abundance, I think – which is why it always makes me so happy to see more introverted ones.

And here we have the introvert in her natural habitat.

Family loyalty…

In the end family is all we have, no? It irks me to no end to see the whole vanishing parent syndrome, where the parents are suddenly dead and/or nonexistent so that the MC can go save the world or whatever. It’s so much better to see protagonists who will do anything for their family – some of my favourite books are ones where the entire plotline resolves around saving a missing parent or something like that. Cliche, perhaps, but I love it all the same. ;)

… and friends who are family

In a similar vein, there will always be a special place in my heart for those friends who are so close that they’re pretty much family. Sometimes it’s groups of friends who’ve grown up around one another or been cobbled together through circumstance (like Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah, and eventually Blue from The Raven Boys) and sometimes it’s just two people who would do anything for each other (like Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games). Whatever it is, I find it so fascinating that there are people who, for whatever reason, are so close that they consider each other family. It’s the ultimate test of loyalty, no?

Dark, mysterious, brooding guys

You know the ones: gorgeous looks, tragic backstory, in shadows at least 70% of the time, tears-behind-the-painted-smile? (Basically: Dean Winchester. But in book form.) I have such a soft spot for them – and bonus points if they end up actually being big softies who greatly enjoy cuddling small animals when nobody else is looking. I might add, though, that this trope can be really annoying and melodramatic if it’s not done well – you need to have a certain amount of understanding of your character to pull it off.

“We’re just friends!” “Haha jk we’re actually in love”

Relationships where they’re friends at first are my favourite kinds – I think it’s so important that the two people establish a certain amount of chemistry between them if the relationship will ever work out, and what better way to do that than platonic love? Plus, it’s SO ADORABLE to see all the sexual tension, especially when their other friends are constantly trying to get them together and/or when everybody but them sees it. It’s always interesting to get a look into the internal struggle when the characters aren’t quite sure the other person feels the same way – and, of course, the inevitable happy ending when they figure out that they’ve been idiots all along. ;)

“We bicker all the time but we love each other”

Couples who argue 24/7 and make snarky comments and insult each other and are sometimes even point-blank rude… but then, whenever anybody else threatens them, suddenly turn ridiculously protective of each other. (As in: I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO GETS TO SAY THAT TO HIM. BACK OFF.) Need I say more?!

So there’s my list of tropes I love! I left out overall themes – magic (wizards and witches, oh my!), roadtrips (I don’t even know why I love them so much), etc, etc, etc – and decided to focus more on character-based things, since characters are, of course, the building blocks of a good story.

But what about you guys? Do you love (or hate!) any of the tropes on my list? Which ones did I leave out that you love? Or are you forever on the hunt for a perfectly unique book and therefore shun all tropes? ;)

What are your favourite bookish tropes?


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Monday, November 17th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 16: Least Favourite Book Blogging Things

We’ve passed the halfway point on BookBlogWriMo – yay! :D The prompt for day 16 focuses on the worst parts of book blogging:

Least Favourite Book Blogging Things - Yeah, sometimes blogging is a pain in the ass. Tell us why.

Well. First off on the list we have Wordpress, which is ridiculous and annoying and sometimes I just really want to throw my tablet across the room because IT’S NOT WORKING, DAMMIT. I’ve already vented my frustrations about the scheduling system on here, which seriously screws me up sometimes when it randomly eats my posts (and does that happen to anybody else, or am I alone?). Thankfully, Kim is a lot better with tech than I am, so she deals with most of the other glitches – but that’s the number one thing that bothers me!

In terms of book blogging specifically? Really, the only thing that comes to mind is reviewing. Reviews are not my forte – while I do enjoy writing them, I find it so difficult to actually rate books. I already talked about my rating system (or lack thereof), but even while writing reviews I’m one of those people who constantly goes back and forth between opinions. It’s easier when it’s one of the extremes – the love-it-or-hate-it type books – but harder when it’s more of a meh type of thing. Do I focus more of the negatives or the positives? If there was nothing that really grabbed me about the book… what am I supposed to write about?!

I always operate under the belief that books, like people, are multifaceted creatures. That’s another reason why it’s difficult for me to write reviews on them – I find myself wanting to cram every single tiny aspect of the book into my review, which isn’t really the best option, considering it would totally ruin the point of reading the book itself. :P So instead I try to pick one or two things out of the story that I absolutely loved or hated… but again, it’s hard for me to give a well-rounded, unbiased picture of my thoughts, especially when it’s a neutral type of book. I’m trying to learn from Timon on this count, since his reviews are incredible and I always walk away satisfied. Hopefully one of these days I can get to the same level with my own!

So that’s my biggest book blogging pet peeve (besides the WordPress thing)! What about you guys? Do you have the same trouble writing reviews as I do, or am I just overanalysing things as usual? ;) Do you have any tips for review writing? What are your least favourite aspects of book blogging?

Talk to me about your book blogging woes!

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Sunday, November 16th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 15: Favourite Blogging Things

Damn you, WordPress. Damn you and damn your faulty scheduling.

So, as you can tell, I’m a tad frustrated today because WordPress is driving me insane. Is there anybody out there who’s having the same scheduling issues as me? Because I could swear I wrote and scheduled this yesterday, but IT’S NOT WORKING.


Anyway, here’s the prompt for BookBlogWriMo Day 15. Alas, I’m a day behind once more (sigh…) so sometime this week I’ll double-post and catch up.

Favourite Book Blogging Things - Feel free to talk about the wonderful host of BookBlogWriMo and how much you love her.

Why, yes, I do indeed love Brittany, the superwoman behind BookBlogWriMo. She’s an all-around reader extraordinaire and she writes awesome reviews, so you guys should totally go check out her blog. :D

And – branching off of that – Brittany’s not the only incredible person in the blogosphere. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said it, but you guys, I love the book blogging community. So much. Everybody here is so wonderful and welcoming even to newbies, and the fact that I’ve found people who fangirl over the same fictional characters that I do is kind of amazing. Not to mention they don’t mind getting into heated debates over whose book boyfriend is hotter. Or offering shoulders to cry on over that one character who did NOT deserve to die, dammit!

Too Precious For This World

And another one of the best things about book blogging – if you don’t mind my channeling Captain Obvious – THE BOOKS, MAN. When I first started book blogging, I found it a bit difficult to balance the reading of books with the blogging itself – there never seemed to be enough time to do anything! But fortunately I found ways to manage my time, and at this point it seems like book blogging is giving me opportunities to discover even more books that I never would have found otherwise. My already-towering TBR stack has now burst through the roof and I’m about 90% sure that at least a couple of the books are currently in orbit. (Which is a good thing… I think? ;))

Also, since I’m shallow and I really like getting things, I’m going to put free books on my list. When my first ARC came in the mail, it was a beautiful moment – it was so shiny and gorgeous and it had that new book smell. :D I’ll admit that I’m actually really terrible with ARCs so I try to limit the amount I request, but more often than not I cave. (Which is why my ARC TBR stack is possibly even higher than my regular one. The struggle is real.) But yes, free books are definitely a perk – it’s awesome to be able to spend all my money on library fines instead of buying books. ;)

So that’s my list – it was hard to narrow it down to just a couple, but I managed it in the end! Bloggers, what are your favourite book blogging things? Are they the same as mine, or wildly different? Today we’re focused on the awesomeness of blogging… so let loose the good vibes in the comments! :D

Tell me about your favourite blogging perks!


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Saturday, November 15th 2014

Review: Creed by Trisha Leaver and Lindsey Currie

CreedCreed by Trisha Leaver and Lindsey Currie
Genres: Horror
Published by Flux on November 1st, 2014
Format: eBook
Three went in. Three came out. None even a shadow of who they once were.

When their car breaks down, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike walk through a winter storm to take refuge in a nearby town called Purity Springs. When they arrive, the emergency sirens are blaring and the small farming town seems abandoned. With no other shelter, they spend the night in an empty house.

But they soon discover that not everything in Purity Springs is as it seems. When the town's inhabitants suddenly appear the next morning, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves at the mercy of the charismatic leader, Elijah Hawkins, who plans to make Dee his new wife. Elijah's son, Joseph, offers to help them escape . . . but the price of his help may be more than Dee and her friends can bear.
Buy the Book (Book Depository)Buy the Book (Amazon)

What follows is a negative review, one I went back and forth on writing, especially after I opened my big gob on Twitter. But I like the vibe I’m getting from Leaver and Currie. They’re two ferocious talents, and I fully believe they will write a YA horror masterpiece if they choose to stay in the genre (and I hope they do). I want that book, YA needs that book. They energize some truly wretched cliches in Creed, but if I could personally tell them anything it’s that they don’t need the cliches or the tropes.

…And when I read that book, I’m going to go bonkers in the best possible way.

Full disclosure time. I was raised in one of the harshest, secretive, and legalistic Christian fundamentalist groups out there, the Institute in Basic Life Principles/Advance Training Institute International, the same group the Duggars evangelize for. I could spend the rest of this review chronicling the lives destroyed by fundamentalism’s dehumanizing and evil theology (as a distinct thing from the people and Christianity in general), but basically it’s the stuff of psychological horror. It took years to mentally and emotionally leave fundyland even after I physically left.

As to the review, Bleed–as in what my eyes are currently doing–is a psychological horror novel that lacks both psychology and horror.

The first third of the book is brilliant, utterly, dismember-my-limbs brilliant. I was ready to proclaim Screed–as in what this review is–my book of the year. The characters were good, the atmosphere was perfect. Hell, at one point, I was scared. It captured the feeling of being trapped in a fundy cult so perfectly that the part of me that loses his shit at the slightest whiff of their sulfur was going nuts. As the characters search the empty houses they find a book that gives the ‘Godly’ instructions on abusing their kids. I went cold. Such a book exists. I was flash backing hard… and loving it. They even did an unbelievably good job of showing the cult’s beliefs through their practices.

For one glittering, joyful moment I thought this book was going to be the horror novel that told the ex-fundy story right. I was shaking, I came as close as I ever get to tears.

And the rest of the book is a Tarantino-style movie as made by 10-year-olds in their backyard on a VHS camera.

We get a walking tour of the town with the cult leader’s son, who explains everything in a tedious rush, like a bad actor gushing exposition from every pore. The dialogue and writing gets so sloppy Dee can’t remember if she lied sentences after she lied, along with whole conversations that don’t make any damn sense. Dee misses some of the clearest things to see and tries to pass them off as big reveals when her rotting brain catches up. At this point I stopped giving a damn about everyone. I stopped caring about Dee when she semi-works with Joseph. I never cared about Joseph because he’s the Most Holy Reverend of The Church of Fucktarded Morons. The characters I loved so much at the beginning all grew room temperature IQs. The book tries to go for a claustrophobic feeling in the middle and only managed to bore me. For every page I read past the halfway point, I played five minutes of a video game just to stay engaged.

Elijah No. No. No. That cliche is not allowed while I’m reviewing. From now on out he’s Joe Dipshit the III, of the Westchester Dipshits. Joe Dipshit the III controls the cult through magic–yes, for all intents and purposes it’s magic–I never believed this simpering, incompetent, mouth breathing, inbred doofus was capable of controlling his own bowel movements, much less a town. Since I’ve been on the receiving end of fundy brainwashing, I was physically nauseous at the comical way his power is explained.

I’m not even sure if there’s a true believer in the lot or anyone struggling with their faith–Joe Dipshit the III never struck me as more than power hungry. This strips all the depth away and renders the villains as less sinister than Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants, they’re assholes ’cause assholes. Twirl the ole mustache again, Joe. Sans the depth, the cult is yet another fancy pair of drapes on the scenery.

I skipped to the end to avoid another DNF, and as predictably as the sun rising, we get a dumb, fatalistic ending.

The difference between fatalism and fundamentalism is in fundyland the fatalism is gleefully perverted and voyeuristic. Horror is good with downer endings, it’s good with pessimistic endings, it stops being horror when fatalism is introduced. Fatalism renders every action, every choice, every conflict meaningless, because it never matted in in the first place. If nothing matters, nothing is scary.

This violates every rule of good fiction.

This philosophically says the fundies are right.

It’s not as bad as the The Merciless, where people are evil because they’re really demons, but it’s close. It’s an insult both to the writers’ talent and an insult to the reader. Tragically, this is an instance where a pessimistic ending could’ve worked.

Since nothing matters, it doesn’t matter if you read Breed–as in that thing people with emotional needs do–or not. I was going to recommend this for people who lack my baggage and aren’t too familiar with religion in general, but not with that ending.

I got a strong Children of The Corn vibe from Steed–as in what I’ll ride to get away from revising this review 30 fucking timesand sure enough, Leaver said in an interview that Corn was a major inspiration, so let’s do a quick literary analysis.

The reason the downer ending works in Corn, but is fatalistic in Keyed–as what I wanted to do to characters and then their car–is Corn’s ending results from Burt’s pride-driven choices, each of his idiotic choices makes sense within the context of the character and gives the reader a glimpse to why his marriage is failing, he’s utterly unsympathetic. The ending satisfies because the prick gets what he deserves.

Dee, however, is sympathetic, and yet, like so many other horror MCs, never makes an active choice, at least not in the 70% of the book I read. This makes the fatalism all the worse and even more fundamentalist.

Thematically Children of the Corn is about the collapse of the trusted and traditional American institutions in the ’70s, like church and family, and the children are the final result of the failure of those two institutions. The story ends with a final glimpse into the sick mockeries that have replaced them. Every element in Corn blends, adds, and builds on this theme.

In Tweed-as in… well, shit I don’t have one for this word—nothing makes thematic sense–maybe it was in the 30% I didn’t read. The elements almost seemed to line up, but the more I think about them, the less coherent they become, and the more I want to write the forced marriage thing off as something creepy for creepy’s sake, because it doesn’t make sense in the context of the cult’s beliefs. If the why–and no the disease thing doesn’t qualify as a good why–of the cult’s belief was explained and Dee was a character struggling with her faith, trying to reconcile her belief with the abuse she suffered from her dad, perhaps this would make sense and unify the two halves of the book. I assuming this is the theme. There’s also a lot about purity, but that never gelled either and made even less sense.

Also Burt and Vicky end up in Gatlin by accident. The boy runs into the road by accident. Dee and the gang end up in Purity’s Springs through stupidity and the attempt at justification through the characters is okay, but doesn’t fully compensate for stain of original idiocy. From there, they only make increasing dumb decisions. To scare the audience, the characters need to make smart choices, get screwed by the villain, and then you have the reader quivering in fear.

As a side note, I owe a lot to Children of the Corn for getting me out of fundyland.

These are only the highlights of what bugged me. In essence, there’s two books here, a serious horror novel that could’ve been a towering, glorious masterpiece, and one that’s b-movie crap.

Read Scowler and The Violet Hour instead.

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Friday, November 14th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 13: My Rating System

The prompt for day 13 of BookBlogWriMo is as follows:

Your Ratings System - A lot of blogs have ratings policies or systems. Some don’t, but they really do. What makes you decide how many stars to give?

YA Asylum is one of those blogs that don’t really have specific rating systems – that is, we don’t use stars or give a number rating or anything like that. I know Kim used to at the very beginning, but she dropped it soon after in favour of doing more in-depth reviews and explaining her opinions and thoughts that way.

For me, a big part of the reason I don’t do a rating system is that I find it very difficult to assign a specific number to a book. See, books are so subjective to me. There are books that I absolutely adore that I would give four stars and books that I thought were meh that I would… also give four stars. Some of the books that are my all-time favourites don’t have five stars on Goodreads for the simple reason that they have pretty obvious flaws – but I loved them anyway.

So, here’s the million-dollar question: should I rate books based on my personal opinion, or should I rate them based on what I know would probably be the more objective, logical opinion?

See my dilemma? :P If I give books a number, I run the risk of either not being true to what I felt or leading potential readers astray by not pointing out the faults. Better to just bypass the drama altogether, no?

In terms of the review itself, when I’m reading ARCs or books that I know I want to review, I’m constantly cataloguing their strengths and weaknesses. I do try to take the genre into account – for example, if I’m reading a fast-paced, action-packed thriller, I can understand if the characters aren’t entirely well-developed, but I’m brutal with plotholes and cheesy tropes. And on the other end of the spectrum, if I’m reading a sweet, fluffy contemporary romance I’ll forgive a plotless book, but I had better fall in love with the characters (and acquiring a new book boyfriend by the end of it never hurts ;)).

Of course, it’s when a book has both incredible characters and a gripping plot that I truly fall in love with it. And if you add that to a gorgeous writing style, vivid world-building, and perhaps some awesome one-liners thrown in, that’s just a whole new status.

(This is about the time the book falls into the you-deserve-a-permanent-position-on-my-shelf-and-I-will-buy-multiple-copies-of-you-and-never-stop-squealing-about-you-to-my-friends-and-or-strangers-on-the-street category. Fangirl, lookin’ at you.)

So I try to put all my thoughts on books into the reviews themselves rather than spending that much time and worry on figuring out the actual star rating, since I think it’s just easier on both the readers and myself if I explain exactly what I thought about it instead of making them guess. With that being said, though, I do rate all the books I read on Goodreads – based on my personal opinion, since Goodreads is mostly for me to document my reading habits. I have books ranked the same number of stars that I had wildly different opinions on, but oh well – it works for me! ;)

Bloggers, I’d love to know how you figured out your own rating system! Has anybody faced the same dilemma as me when it comes to star ratings – and in that case, what did you eventually decide on? How do you choose whether to rate a book high or low? Are there any specific criteria you look for when reviewing?

Let’s discuss rating systems!



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Thursday, November 13th 2014

BookBlogWriMoDay 13: My Review Process

Day 13 of BookBlogWriMo is here – wow, we’re almost at the halfway point! :D Here’s the prompt:

Your Review Process - Do you write your review the second you finish the book? Months later? Take notes as you read?

Okay, so I already went way in-depth on my reviewing process during my blogging workflow post on day 9, so… I guess I’m skipping out on this post today? Regardless, if you’re interested in how I review, feel free to check out my day 9 post – I talked about my notorious ARC procrastination, my note-taking strategies, and when I post my reviews.

Check it out right here!



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Wednesday, November 12th 2014

BookBlogWriMo Day 12: In Which I Channel Yoda

Day 12 of BookBlogWriMo is here! The prompt for today has a distinctly Jedi vibe (or is that just me?)…

Advice for Newbie Bloggers - Be Yoda. Share your secrets. Do or do not, there is no try.

It feels like yesterday I was a newbie blogger myself, sharing my first post on YA Asylum – so it came as a bit of a shock to me that I actually had some ideas for this post! ;) I think it’s so wonderful that the book blogging community is constantly growing. New people are making blogs every day to share their love for all things bookish, and it is glorious! So here are my tips for the newbie blogger – hopefully they’ll help some of you out. :)

The number one rule: there are no rules.

Okay, seriously, I just had to start out with this one because way too often I see new bloggers wringing their hands and worrying about all the things they might do wrong and all the places they might trip up. I’m just going to say this right now and let you off the hook: there are no rules in book blogging. You can do whatever you want. Post all the memes? Awesome! Hate writing reviews and never post them? Great! MG and erotica on the same blog? Wonderful! There are so many ways to blog that at this point, just do whatever works out for you. I promise you’ll be happier in the long run.

(Okay, maybe there are a couple of rules.)

So I might have lied just a little. ;) I don’t really think it’s worth giving each of these points their own section because, to be honest, they’re all so simple and obvious that I’d be a bit worried if you didn’t know already. Be polite and considerate. Don’t post derogatory statements. Don’t bash books or people’s taste in them. It’s totally fine to have controversial opinions, but back them up with logical arguments. Nobody likes the incoherent ranter. The community is pretty tight-knit around here, so if you’re rude to someone it’s going to get around quickly. Consideration is key.

Share what you love.

If you hate writing book reviews, why on earth would you ever post a review on your blog?! I’ve seen bloggers who write posts on topics they absolutely abhor for the simple reason that they think they should. Like there’s some sort of tacit social contract: You missed Stacking the Shelves for one week and you are hereby banned from book blogging forever. Do not expect anyone to visit your blog after this incident. We will come to collect your laptop and the contents of your home library in four days promptly.

Honey, Please

Just… no. POST WHAT YOU LOVE, DAMMIT. It’s so much better for your followers to read things that you’re passionate about – it truly shines through in your writing, and you’ll be a lot happier. Honesty is absolutely the best policy.

Yes, it’s about you…

Blog for you. I know this is similar to the previous tip, but I can’t repeat it enough: it’s so important that you do this because you want to do it. It’s time-consuming and sometimes it can be difficult, so if you don’t love book blogging, it isn’t going to work very well and you’ll basically be miserable. I’m so happy when people comment on my posts, but at the same time that’s not the sole reason I blog. It’s a bit like writing a book: if you do it for someone else, you’re going to crash and burn quickly. If you do it for yourself, chances are it’s going to turn out a lot better.

… but other people exist too.

With that being said, though, you are not the only one floundering around the blogosphere! There are other people who’ve been around for a lot longer than you have and run these awesome blogs where you can totally hang out and ask for advice. :D A study from the Institute of Questionable Statistics revealed that 92% of book bloggers are the nicest people on the face of the planet, and the remaining 8% are probably just bitter over spoilers and overdue library fines anyway. ;) I know it can be difficult, but put yourself out there. People are so sweet and supportive, and you might learn something from them as well.

Basically, the entire book blogging community.

On the same topic, don’t be afraid to request ARCs! NetGalley, Eidelweiss, and StoryCartel are awesome resources where you can get books for free in exchange for reviews, if that’s your thing. And once you develop your blog a bit more, publishers are generally open to requests as well.

Read all the things.

Book blogging is fun and exciting and it can take up a lot of your time – but please don’t forget what made you start it in the first place. This one sounds obvious, but it really isn’t: don’t forget to keep reading. Book blogging is all well and good, but if you never actually read anything, where exactly are you going to get the material for your posts? Read all the books. Good books, bad books, books that make you want to laugh and cry and throw them out the window. Just read.

Don’t fall out of love with it.

Spoiler alert: you are going to go through blogging slumps. There are going to be days where you would rather scale Mount Everest with an alpaca on your back than open the computer and write a post. That is totally normal and no one will fault you for skipping a scheduled day of posting.

With that being said, however, if it’s a constant state and you’re forcing yourself to blog when you really, really don’t want to, there’s a problem. It might be time to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities, because there has to be a cause behind it. Sometimes you’re just frazzled and overworked and you need to take a break from blogging. Sometimes the style of your blog is the thing that needs to change. Whatever it is, figure it out and fix it, because falling out of love with blogging is one of the saddest things there is.

… I don’t even know why I’m using this GIF. Let go of… blogging slumps, I guess? (Don’t ask.) 

So those are my tips for newbie bloggers (wow, this post turned out way longer than I’d expected!). If any of you guys want to pitch in with anything I missed, feel free – I touched a lot more on the personal side of blogging rather than the logistics, haha ;) And of course, if you’re new yourself, I’d love to hear from you. I promise I don’t bite!

What are your best tips for new book bloggers?


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Tuesday, November 11th 2014

CREED: Places to Avoid in Purity Springs

Creed final coverCREED by Trisha Leaver & Lindsay Currie


When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and Luke’s brother, Mike, seek help in the nearby town of Purity Springs. But as they walk the vacant streets, the teens make some disturbing discoveries. The seemingly deserted homes each contain a sinister book with violent instructions on disciplining children. The graveyard is full of unmarked crosses. Worst of all, there’s no way to contact the outside world.
When Purity Springs’ inhabitants suddenly appear, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves at the mercy of Elijah Hawkins, the town’s charismatic leader who has his own plans for the three of them. Their only hope for survival is Elijah’s enigmatic son, Joseph. And his game may be just as deadly as his father’s . . .



Debut authors Leaver and Currie make an auspicious foray into YA horror…creating a believably desperate and terrifying situation for their characters, and Dee’s history of physical and sexual abuse adds another layer of terror to this suspenseful and sporadically gory thriller.” ~Publishers Weekly

Welcome to a town that makes “Children of the Corn” look like child’s play. There’s no shortage of scary shenanigans happening in “Creed” … We’d rather take a year-long gig teaching botany to the “Children of the Corn” than take a gas-and-bathroom break on a sunny day in Purity Springs.  ~ Kat Rosenfield author of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone/ MTV News

“This is: a straight-ahead, cover-your-ears tale of terror that grows more nihilistic and grueling by the page…. Leaver and Currie do the best thing horror authors can do, presenting protagonists who make smart choices, over and over, but to no avail. Now that’s scary” ~ Daniel Kraus/ Booklist

Five places to avoid while visiting Purity Springs


  1. The Sin Shack – Tucked away in the soy fields behind a heaping mess of irrigation equipment, this dark and isolating shed might look like the perfect place to hide. But trust me, you’ll come out of that place believing, doing, and saying whatever Elijah Hawkins wants you to.
  1. Kitchen Drawers – While most will yield nothing more than a few innocuous dish towels and butter knives, be sure to steer clear of the first on the left. That one contains a leather bound book, one that will have you thinking twice next time you go to strap on that leather belt.
  1. The Church’s Basement – Appropriately coined the “reintegration facility,” these tiles floors are easy to clean for a reason. I just advice against checking the drain.
  1. Elijah Hawkins’s Closet – Pants, shirts, a couple of dog bowls and an enormous wooden paddle otherwise known as the “Board of Education.” And I don’t mean the kind you’d find Christian Grey’s Red Room!
  1. Town Incorporation Sign – I wouldn’t bother spending too much time studying this rustic sign hanging one the side of the road. It changes daily…hence the reason Elijah Hawkins seems to buy them in bulk.

The Authors


authorpic3Trisha Leaver: Trisha Leaver graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Social Work. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three kids and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a member of the SCBWI, the Horror Writers Association, and the YA Scream Queens




lindsay author photoAbout Lindsay Currie: Lindsay Currie graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL with an English Literature degree. She is a member of the SCBWI, the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to the YA Scream Queens.



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