Goodbye 2017 + 2018 Resolutions + 3 Year Blog Anniversary + Giveaway

Edit 1/28/18: I’m so sorry, guys, I haven’t had a chance to reply to the comments on this post and choose the giveaway winner just yet. I promise to do it by the 2nd of February at the latest though. Thanks for understanding!

Happy 2018, friends! It feels strange typing this because where did 2017 go? Last year was totally a blur to me. XD

From the title, it’s safe to assume that I’ll be packing a lot in this one post. I’ve been so out of blogging that I completely forgot how it’s tradition for me to post a lot in the beginning of the year (with my new year resolutions post, blogiversary post, monthly recap, etc). I guess I lost track of time and didn’t account for all that, so I’m going to have to settle with a long post this time around instead.

Believe it or not, today marks three years of blogging for me! I started Xingsings on January 2, 2015 and, to be honest, I never thought that it would be around for this long. Anyway, I want to sincerely say thank you all for the love and support that I’ve gotten over the years. I’ve met so many wonderful people and created irreplaceable friendships through this platform. I really could not be more grateful.

While on this subject, I should share my decision on whether I want to continue this blog or not since I did promise an answer to this. After talking to some close friends of mine (both from the blogosphere and outside of it), I think I might continue after all. (Man, I feel like this “should I or shouldn’t I?” debate pops up every year around this time for me and I always decide to go on.)

I should also mention that the biggest factor that made me consider quitting the blog in the first place. I’m not going to lie, my lack of replying to comments and blog hopping last year made me feel horrible. When I think about how little I interacted with other bloggers it made me feel very guilty. I don’t know how to describe it but I felt underserving of the response I got towards my posts.  I’m not encouraging or saying that I have a “comment for comment” mentality exactly but I genuinely like keeping up with friends that keep up with me and I felt bad when I couldn’t.

Anyway, 2018 is going to be the year where I want to change this. Another one of my new year’s resolutions is actually to just blog more in general. Somehow, I’ve managed to at least blog once a month since the beginning of this blog but I want to go back to writing more book reviews because that’s probably the part I miss the most about book blogging, aside from the blog hopping and interacting with others.

Speaking of book blogging… I think it’s time for me to shift my focus away from being just a book blog. My main focus will probably still and always be about books, but I’m ready to expand the non-bookish side of Xingsings this year, by incorporating posts like product reviews (like my bookish/literary candles), more Asian drama and anime/manga reviews, and maybe even some planner/hobonichi/bullet journaling and crafting posts. I guess whatever inspires me!

I know in the years past I’ve “reviewed” and reflected the previous years goal’s, but I sort of failed epically in the reading and blogging portions of my 2017 resolutions. (Actually, the only portion I did seem to fulfill completely was the career/academic aspirations. But, I suppose this isn’t a bad thing since those were the most important.) Therefore, I won’t be doing a reflection on last year’s goals in this blog post. :’)

And that’s really all I have to share with this post for now. I have book reviews, a long overdue book haul, and a December wrap up in the works so until those posts, see you next time! 🙂

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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen + Giveaway

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books on May 10, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 402
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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3.5 Stars, Reread May 18, 2017

– SPOILER free –

Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.

For the past two years Mclean Sweet and her divorced father have been moving from town to town as he is a restaurant consultant. With each move Mclean sees it as a chance to reinvent herself and take up a different persona. As Liz, Eliza, and Beth she’s been many girls from preppy cheerleader to drama diva. But when Mclean and her father make a stop at Lakeview, she’s finds herself as just Mclean. But who is the real Mclean? After being separated from her true identity for so long, Mclean isn’t sure who she really is anymore. With What Happened to Goodbye Sarah Dessen weaves yet another story about youth and self discovery.

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The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen + Giveaway

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin Group Inc. on May 11, 2004
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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5 Stars, Reread May 3, 2017

– SPOILER free –

I’d tried to hold myself apart, showing only what I wanted, doling out bits and pieces of who I was. But that only works for so long. Eventually, even the smallest fragments can’t help but make a whole.

After witnessing her father’s unexpected death, Macy has always sought to find control of her life by planning for the expected. She likes the certainty of knowing what will happen next. So when her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp, she decides to spend her summer subbing for him at his library job, studying for the SATs, and occasionally making small talk with her mother about anything but the traumatic loss of her father. But when she meets the dysfunctional team at Wish Catering, a group accustomed to chaos and surprises, after they cater at one of her mom’s parties she starts to feel compelled to breakaway from her steady and sheltered life. Because, perhaps, the key to truly living is not to dwell on the past or wait for the future, but instead embrace each moment of the present.

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Midnight Hour by C.C. Hunter + Giveaway

midnighthour_final-cvr_revisedMidnight Hour by C.C. Hunter
Series: Shadow Falls: After Dark Book #4 (4/4)
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on October 25, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed October 21, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

As sad as it was to know that in a few weeks she wouldn’t call Shadow Falls her home, she knew change was inevitable. And while this address wouldn’t be listed on forms, it would always be listed in her heart. She took with her the life lessons she learned. Here, she’d found self-confidence. She’d learned how to dream, how to never turn away from a leap of faith.

She learned the value of friendships. Of laughter during hard times. Of love.

And so the conclusion to the Shadow Falls series is here! The release of Midnight Hour actually came as a huge surprise to me seeing that I thought this series ended last year with book three, Unspoken, but I’m not complaining since this gives me another excuse to revisit this world one last time.

In this fourth and final installment, like the rest of the students at Shadow Falls Miranda Kane is preparing for her senior year graduation (meaning she has to study and take the SAT once again for college entry because of her dyslexia). But, of course, at Shadow Falls where all things paranormal exist nothing stays normal and calm for long. Miranda unintentionally becomes involved in a crazy situation, and when she awakes in the hospital after the near-death experience she finds a growing tattoo on her body. Many are already disappointed in her for not meeting the standards and surrendering the title of High Priestess (basically the most powerful witch) to her sister, so adding this mystery is not going to please her mom. But then her sister’s kidnapped, and all hell breaks loose in town as local robberies and murders surface. With Midnight Hour, the unstoppable team at Shadow Falls (Miranda, Della, and Kylie) are back to kick butt and set everything right.

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Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz + Giveaway

Sanctuary-BaySanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Series: Sanctuary Bay #1 (1/?)
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on January 19, 2016
Genres: [YA] Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed January 27, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

Let me just share with you guys that I actually don’t like thrillers. I’m one of the few that detested Gone Girl and a few other well known thrillers, however I’m always willing to try them anyway if the premise is interesting enough. I like to think this genre is a special spin of horror and mysteries, a fusion of two very different genres I’m not much a fan of. And I was hoping that since Sanctuary Bay was created for young adults it’d be less creepy. Gosh, was I wrong. This was so very dark but still managed to be pleasant and compelling enough for me. Honestly, I couldn’t put this one down once I started it.

Sanctuary Bay starts with the readers meeting an underprivileged orphan by the name of Sarah Mersen. She has the rare opportunity to attend the most prestigious elite prep school in the country, Sanctuary Bay, that happens to produce some of the world’s most successful and talented individuals. Sarah is special because she happens to be eidetic and possesses hyperthymesia, meaning along with having a photographic memory her senses are hypersensitive to certain, vivid memories. Because of her abilities, soon she becomes disillusioned by the chilling setting, secretive people, and mysterious administration when she notices some idiosyncrasies in the three. Naturally, when her roommate disappears and the students and faculty don’t seem to be bothered, she’s determined to uncover the dark truth behind the elite academy.

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Xingsings is a Year Old + Blogiversary/Birthday Giveaway

Blogiversary 1

Well, gosh, I’ve been on a roll lately, haven’t I? I mean three posts in three consecutive days? 😛 I hope everyone had a blast celebrating the new year yesterday! Honestly I didn’t really do much but read and relax, which is the best type of day in my opinion. Today I thought before I went to work I’d write this post.

I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet so it won’t be too complicated. As you’ve read from the title of this post, this blog hits one year old today!

And January is a pretty special month for me because… it’s my birthday month! That’s right, I was born in the winter despite my name. XD In twenty days (January 22) I’ll be 20 years old!

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The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore + Giveaway

The Weight of FeathersThe Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published by Thomas Dunne on September 15, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover, ARC
Source: Publisher

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Rerated: 3.5 Stars
4 Stars, Completed September 29, 2015

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS  –

This is the third book I’ve read in the past month that has utilized dual perspectives, incorporated multilingual dialogue, and featured the Romeo and Juliet trope. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the others, I have to say, this is my favorite one by far.

Through generations of competition, the Palomas and Corbeaus have dealt with a strong feud and rivalry. Both families are traveling performers in competing shows. The Palomas swim in mermaid exhibitions and the Corbeaus, former tight-rope walkers, perform in tall trees. Lace Paloma has grown up knowing that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic, and that just by touching them it could be death. She’s learned to stay away, until a chemical rain pours down on the town of Almendro, and the one that saves her life happens to be Cluck, a Corbeau. His touch immerses her into a life of falling feathers. Now that their lives are closely intertwined, there’s no turning back.

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Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt + Giveaway

Dream Things TrueDream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 1, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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Rerated: 3 Stars
3.5 Stars, Completed September 8, 2015

– minor SPOILERS ahead –

Dream Things True is a modern Romeo and Juliet-esque story about a wealthy, privileged southern boy falling in love with an undocumented Mexican girl. Evan seems to live the perfect golden boy life as a soccer star and nephew of a widely-supported, conservative senator. When Evan meets Alma he begins to question the family figures he’s admired growing up and he becomes caught up in complicated issues he’s never considered before.  ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) tightens security on the borders and raids the counties of Gilberton, Georgia for undocumented individuals, making things much more difficult for Alma and her family. As Evan and Alma, get to know each other, Alma struggles with composing the right words to reveal her true identity to Evan. With facing the complications of immigration and tangled bureaucracies, will Evan and Alma be able to overcome these obstacles?

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