By Your Side by Kasie West

5By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on January 31, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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3 Stars, Completed February 15, 2017

– SPOILER free –

By Your Side is a light contemporary about two teenagers that develop an unlikely friendship after they’ve been accidentally locked in the library for a weekend. Dax is the school’s loner with a bad reputation. Whereas, Autumn is a do-gooder that doesn’t notice much beyond her camera’s viewfinder and inner group of popular friends. At first, Dax and Autumn only recall the negative impressions they have  of each other and do not get along. But after a few nights of shared vending machine snacks and real talks, both realize that the other is much more than what first meets the eye. They decide to call an amiable truce and soon begin to enjoy each other’s company. And when the pair are finally found and released, the question is after all they’ve shared will they remain friends or will they ignore each other as they had before?

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Happy International Women’s Day + My Most Listened to K-pop Girl Group Songs

I’m always going on and on about K-pop (probably Exo specifically), and I noticed that I rarely talk about girl groups for some reason. So in honor of International Women’s Day I thought I would share the top 20 K-pop girl group songs I’ve listened to the most. I won’t be talking about each track because that would be quite redundant, but I will say that if I had to choose favorites… Taeyeon, F(X), and Spica are the most consistent artists in that I normally like all their releases.

Oh and a brief history of me and K-pop (if you’re curious and/or new to this blog)… I started listening to Korean pop music when I was in high school (about late 2011). And I believe the biggest reason why I haven’t outgrown the musical genre and still listen to it to this day is because of the great stage presence these idols have. They train at a young age and for many years before they can debut. (Actually the K-pop industry like many music industries anywhere around the world are pretty cutthroat and unstable.) During that time, they learn a variety of skills including singing, dancing, variety sense and humor, languages, etc. Their live performances are always so phenomenal due to the thorough lessons they had as trainees. And for that reason, I have huge respect for these idols and truly think they’re are on a whole other level compared to other international artists. Haha, so that’s my short spiel.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the list. They’re in the order from most listened to least listened to. But even the least listened to… have been listened to many times seeing as this is only 20 songs out of thousands I have on my iTunes. (Yes, my music listening is no joke.) Lastly, keep in mind some of these releases are pretty old because, well, I did begin listening to this genre of music 5+ years ago. 😄

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Book Haul: January + February 2017

book-haul_-jan-2017

January was my birthday month so it should not be a total surprise that this haul is on the lengthier side. Though, it really doesn’t feel like I bought a ridiculous amount since many of these items weren’t ones I spent money on; they were gifts. However, I did purchase some bookish merch (specifically wooden bookmarks and literary candles). And I have to say I’m not exactly on board with becoming a full fledged collector of either of those (yet), but I did like the stuff I ordered. I’m getting use out of the woodmarks because they’re, surprisingly, thin (so they don’t make books bully-which is good) and sturdy. Also, they effuse the nicest woodsy scent that is not overpowering. As for the bookish candles, I plan to make a separate review post about the scents I got and how they burn each; I’ll share my honest thoughts then. I’m just waiting a few more orders from different candle shops to arrive before I begin that project, haha.)

Also, lately, I’ve been into electronic books. (That’s why you haven’t seen me hauling that many physical ARCs; I just haven’t requested any.) As you can deduce, the biggest reason behind this transition is due to lack of self space. Another part of me has also recognized that I’ve become quite a critic; I haven’t enjoyed YA the same way as I did when I first began blogging. So I’ve started to prefer collecting most books electronically and saving my physical shelves for books I really love. (To be honest, I’m quite happy with myself for choosing to implement this new change. Now, let’s just see how successful I’ll be, lol.)

Lastly, have you guys noticed something different…? I mentioned this in my January Summing It Up post, but I upped my Instagram game since my last haul post. Personally, I’m really pleased with how my photos have been turning out. And I hope that you guys will think the same. 🙂

Physical Books

Windfall (ARC)

Windfall (ARC)

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Summing It Up: February 2017

summing-it-up_-february-2017

Hello, happy March!

I’m not at all surprised that the shortest month of the year flew by so quickly. How were your Februaries?

Personally, I fell in a blogging slump last month. I actually have nearly 10 draft posts (all are reviews and one is a book haul) and I am hopelessly behind with getting to the comments on my blog and visiting others. I truly miss talking to you guys… School has just kept me occupied. I’m also still applying for internships, which has contributed to my busyness. (And I imagine if I do end up getting a second job, my life will only become more hectic.) However, my spring break is next week. So I’m hoping to catch up with everything then!

Also, you might will notice that in this post I shall be omitting the “events” section particularly because I’ve simply had a boring February. School was my main priority and consequently my non-academic life was pretty stagnant. (I did read some books and, finally, started a few dramas though.)

Anyhow, let’s get into the fun stuff, yes?


– What I Read –


– February Blog Posts –

*This review can only be found on my Goodreads; I don’t have plans on crossposting it on Xingsings. (I don’t publish DNF reviews on this blog.)

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

bone1Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Thomas Dunne February 7, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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4 Stars, Completed January 28, 2017

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

It could possibly well be that the reason why this was such a delightful read for me was because I’ve never seen the greatly popular film that this book is based off of. (Actually, I hadn’t even heard of Labyrinth until I was approved of my request for this ARC. Labyrinth fans, don’t kill me.) In addition to that, I rarely read the synopses of books thoroughly. Therefore, I basically went into this blind and with zero expectations, and I believe this ended up working in my favor. I would suggest readers that haven’t seen the movie to try the same approach I did.

This was the Goblin King. The abductor of maidens, the punisher of misdeeds, the Lord of Mischief and the Underground.

Liesl has grown up hearing tales of the beautiful Goblin King, the Lord of Mischief and Ruler of the Underground. But as she’s grown older, her belief has faded since she has more practical concerns to worry about (such as looking after her siblings and taking care of the family inn). But when Käthe, her beloved sister, is taken by the goblins Liesl must travel in the mysterious realm of the Goblin King. There she meets the legendary king, and they make an exchange where she will become the maiden that is sacrificed to appease the old laws. But as time passes and the two grow closer, the contract is becoming more difficult to uphold as Liesl’s life source is obviously diminishing but the Goblin King is also falling for her. Both must learn and decide what they are willing to sacrifice.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

rosebloodRoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Amulet Books on January 10, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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2.5 Stars, Completed January 14, 2017

– read bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

I need to know why I’m so broken, so I can fix myself. One way or another. Maybe this place can help me do that, and then I can finally look forward to my future. Because I’m starting to realize there’s something worse than stepping up and facing your fears – and that’s living as if you’re already dead.

RoseBlood is a modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale, The Phantom of the Opera. In this YA retelling, Rune Germain is a girl with a peculiar operatic talent. In the most unexpected moments, Rune will burst into song if she hears music that speaks to her. And, unfortunately, this all consuming musical flair has also lead to some tragic events. Rune’s mother decides to enroll Rune at RoseBlood, an elite French arts conservatory that is the very opera house rumored to have ties to the original classic, in hopes that Rune will tame this musical blessing/curse. There she secretly befriends the masked Thorn, a mysterious violinist who lurks in the school’s shadows and helps guide her musical transformation but with a dark, ulterior motive. The two will uncover that they have an otherworldly, soul-deep connection, and Thorn is forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the only father he’s known, the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century.

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Summing It Up: January 2017

summing-it-up_-jan-2017

Happy February, everyone!

I guess it’s been pretty evident with all the comments being left unanswered (again) and my sporadic activity in the blogosphere that I’ve returned to school for the spring semester! I don’t know how but I managed to remain on a reading roll even with my hectic schedule. I read 5 books (which is a lot for me!) and published 9 blog posts in January-with many of them being book reviews. Like where did this ridiculous (but good) streak come from? :’)

Anyway, there’s much to share from January so let’s move on, shall we?


– What I Read –

That is correct! I decided to add a whole new section to these monthly features. I do consider Xingsings to be mainly a book blog… so I have no idea why I didn’t share the books I read in a month in the past. Anyhow, I’m going to starting do this for future Summing It Up posts. And I got this original gif idea from the amazing Miguel at The Quirky Reader after noticing this post of his mid last year; he’s truly a master at making graphics! Anyway, I was waiting for my first monthly rewind of the year to give this a try.


– January Blog Posts –

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Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Ever_The_Hunted_FinalEver the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1 (1/2)
Published by Harcourt Childrens Books December 27, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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2.5 Stars, Completed January 5, 2017

– read bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS –

Know how to protect yourself, Papa said. You have to be strong. Strong as the trees.

Britta Flannery has grown up tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter of Malam. But those days are over now that her father has been murdered. Britta alone and an outcast to society (because of her identity) decides to seek refuge in the Ever woods. There she’s caught by a royal guard for illegally poaching. Surprisingly, instead of putting her up to the noose, he offers her a chance to live. All she must do is complete a task using something she excels at: track her father’s killer. But, of course, it’s not that simple. The prime suspect is none other than her late father’s former apprentice and her childhood best friend, Cohen McKay. To makes matters even more complicated, Britta was also in love with Cohen-that is before he disappeared conveniently months before her father’s death. On this dangerous quest, Britta will meet many hardships-not only physical but  matters of the heart as well.

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Book Haul: November + December 2016

book-haul_-november-december-2016

In two months I bought less than 10 books, which is an anomaly for me. (Well, actually, I purchased more than ten if you count the ones I got for others as presents, but let me have my small victory anyway.) Unfortunately though, I can’t say my restraint was nearly as successful with magnetic bookmarks. After four months of not ordering a single one, I caved and indulged in several sets. 😄 (Clearly, Christmas shopping is too dangerous of a task for me. LOL.) But, overall, I’d say I (and my wallet) was pretty happy with the results despite the bookmarks splurge. Plus, a few of these featured titles were gifts or review copies that I received.

This is also rare, but since buying these I’ve read a couple. Normally, I buy books and let them chill, collecting dust, on my shelves for years. So I’ll link my book reviews if available. And, of course, all other links will lead to Goodreads. By now, most of you are already aware that I get all my magnetic bookmarks from Happy Hello Art on Etsy, so head over to them if you’re interested in obtaining some. I did order several custom made ones this time; Vivi and her team are simply the best.

Anyhow, I hope that you all like the photos! I tried a new flatlay using a glittery stars wire thing; I have no idea what it’s called actually, haha.

Books

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

9780142420591-1-683x1024Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on March 22, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Historical Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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5 Stars, Completed January 14, 2017

– SPOILER free –

Between Shades of Gray sets place in early 1940s Europe. A young Lithuanian girl and her family are torn from their comfortable life and sent to a camp in Siberia and later a prison in the Arctics; at both locations and during the passages between they will witness and endure horrifying treatment from the Soviets under the rule of Stalin. This affecting novel recounts a journey that spans over several years and covers 6,500 miles. It displays one of humanity’s unfathomably darkest and most hidden parts of history.

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