End of Semester As Told by a Book Nerd

This is Lina reporting to you LIVE from the land of the living. Yes, I repeat, from the land of the LIVING!

Finals are over, and though it was a hard slog, dead week is finally behind meBut you know what got me through? Visions of gloriously uninterrupted reading hours dancing in my head. A fifteen page paper? Torture. But when I imagined reading in my favorite spot back home as soon as I finished, getting through the paper suddenly became more worthwhile.

 So I thought I’d share the book-ish thoughts that were constantly distracting me from getting me through finals week — a book nerd’s guide to the stages of the end of the semester, if you will. Those of us who have just finished can laugh now, and I hope anyone who might still be finishing can find the strength to push through (do it for the books!!).

Also, I’m an English major attending college waaaaay out of state. This comes with a few unique challenges!

Onto the guide!

End of Semester

Step 1: Knowing the end is near when… you change your Goodreads shipping address!

You know the Goodreads giveaway contests we all enter that nearly no one has a chance of winning? Well, turns out they’re good for something besides that small spark of hope. For me at least, if I check the end date of the giveaway and see that it’s past the time finals end, I have to uncheck my school address and switch to my home address — and there’s NO better feeling!

Step 2: Daydreaming while writing a paper about ALL THE BOOKS YOU WILL DEVOUR.


Sure, I might have a lot more pages to write, but what about all the pages I’ll be reading when I finally get home?! There’s the books I had to leave at home (I’m so sorry, my pretties!) that are just waiting for me, and all those holds I’ve already placed at the library… say, will summer be long enough for all the books I want to read?

Step 3: Staring longingly at the pleasure reading books you have accumulated.

It isn’t long before I remember that I have great books in my dorm, too! Even if I’m in the middle of a paper, I will take a study break to climb on top of my desk to reach my bookshelf, if only to give my sadly neglected books a little TLC. I might longingly stroke the gorgeous preorders I absolutely needed even if didn’t have time to read them, but also the ridiculously great finds I discovered at the local bookstore that I couldn’t pass up, as well as the books others were giving away for free that I just had to give a home…

Step 4: Worrying about how all your books will f it in your suitcase.

do have quite a few books… how am I supposed to bring them all home safe and sound?! They’re really heavy, and if I put them in my soft suitcase they’ll be crushed! But they might not all fit in my hard suitcase… (As always, I finally decide to carry on as many as I can because my babies need protection.)

Step 5: Reviving your Kindle from the dead for the plane ride home.


Planning how to spend my flight home easily trumps revising my papers! Somehow I inevitably find myself digging through my stuff to find my Kindle charger, and voilà, IT LIVES!! It wouldn’t hurt to place it in my carry on bag now, just to be safe…

Step 6: Getting back in touch with the book world on social media!

The best reward for reaching my essay page count for the day is to sneak a peek at Twitter for a bit! In the finals crunch, it’s too easy to feel out of the loop book-wise, but just a few moments on Twitter is enough to remind me of all the creative, fun bookish people out there and the amazing new books coming out! (And there’s Instagram if I feel like drooling over ARCs and new releases, haha!)

Step 7: Catching up on author newsletter emails!

It kills me when I have to let author emails pile up in my inbox. If I’m snatching a quick meal before getting back to work, I love to read email newsletters while waiting for my food, always hoping I haven’t missed any awesome giveaways!

Step 8: Selling back your unneeded textbooks and getting money FOR MORE BOOKS!!

This calls for a book shimmy.

The moment finally comes when IT’S ALL OVER, and it’s time to start packing up! There’s absolutely nothing better than gathering up the textbooks I’ve used all semester and selling them back to the bookstore for — wait for it — $money$ for MORE NEW BOOKS! It’s a brilliant system, just brilliant!

How do you get through the end of the semester when all you want to do is read?!


GIVEAWAY: “27 Days to Midnight” by Kristine Kruppa!

Wow, it’s been quite a while since I posted, hasn’t it?

I never really intended to take a hiatus, but that’s what it’s tuned into. Sophomore year of college has been no joke.

But I am briefly emerging from this unplanned hiatus for a VERY good reason!

The wonderful publisher I interned with this past summer, Giant Squid Books, has a new YA steampunk novel coming out in early May!  I had a great time working with the editors, and I’ve seen firsthand how incredibly dedicated they are to supporting their authors.

Which is why I’m so excited to be hosting a GIVEAWAY of an advance copy of their upcoming book, 27 Days to Midnight, by debut author Kristine Kruppa!

“… a surprising, thrilling ride set in a vivid steampunk universe”

But first, a little bit about 27 Days to Midnight!

29413642Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die. Except her.

Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died to protect…and the time research that could bring him back to life.

Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch.

In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren’s life, or her own. And time is running out.

And get to know author Kristine Kruppa as well!

Author Photo_credit Sunny Wong,

Kristine Kruppa is a mechanical engineer, writer, and world traveler. Her days are spent designing cool new car parts, but her evenings are filled with writing and cats. She has traveled solo to seventeen countries on five continents. Her other hobbies include hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, exploring used book stores, and accidentally climbing mountains. To keep up with her adventures, follow Kristine on Twitter @kskruppa.

You can enter the giveaway below! My the odds be ever in your favor.

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Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated on May 12th, 2015
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

I wrote this review, and then I rewrote it. Because I wasn’t happy with the way the review turned out so much more negatively than I think I really felt about the book as a whole. And my post-reading reflection has really made me see the story in a new light (I wish I could reread it!).

I do think that perhaps the book is a bit over-hyped, because my expectations were up * HERE * (through the roof and up in the clouds!), while my experience reading it was much more mellow than I think I was expecting — what I was expecting being fiery hate turned to passionate love, breathless action and deceit hiding around every corner, and my heart being torn to bits by the romance.


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Yet this wasn’t the book I read at all; the book I read was a lot less flashy and fast-paced, but instead goes about carefully crafting a beautiful story in its own way. I don’t want to dump a bunch of metaphors on you guys, but I’ve thought of one that really represents quite well how I feel about the story and I can’t get it out of my mind. The Wrath and the Dawn is a lot like savoring an elegant, fine wine (or so I would imagine) — you take small sips as you come to distinguish the taste and are surrounded by the aroma, and it’s not until you finish the glass that you are affected by its potent, heady pull.

The rich and well-imagined setting drew me into a seductive world of intrigue, beauty and mystery. Never did I question if I was actually there in the story, because Ahdieh’s lush description and imagery surrounded me and really appealed to all my senses. You can feel the hot sun and blowing sand, smell the fragrant scent of flowers enveloping the courtyards, and taste the mouthwateringly delicious platters of food that are served. (Ohh guys, the food. THE FOOD. You will need to eat something while reading this, I guarantee it.) You will feel the silky touch of gossamer silk and the weight of the heavy mantles and jewels worn, and truly see the ornate magnificence of the palace and the beauty of the clothing.

Shahrzad (Shazi for short) is such a refreshing heroine who won all of my respect and admiration. Seriously, I would hug the girl if I could for being all that she is. I appreciate her to the moon and back for not underestimating herself like the plague of other heroines out there. She’s quite talented and very clever, and has incredible inner strength and mental fortitude. Most importantly, she believes in herself and doesn’t put herself down. Though at times she can be a bit brash and her stubbornness occasionally affects her ability to see things clearly, I had no doubts as to why the entire palace was so taken with her.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

But what I really wanted to see more of from Shazi that I felt like I never truly got was her love for her friend Shiva. When I saw that she was volunteered to be the Caliph’s next bride to avenge her best friend’s murder, I was so ready for the best friend feels. I was ready for the heartbreaking Shiva flashbacks to start rolling in, to grieve alongside Shahrzad and fuel my own murderous anger towards Khalid. And I got but maybe two half-hearted memories and a few sentences of apostrophe directed towards Shiva.

Which brings me to the mighty Caliph of Khorasan, eighteen year-old boy-king Khalid. Khalid was not all all the person I was expecting, and there is much more to him than meets the eye. His horrid reputation precedes him, as he’s constantly described as a ruthless murderer, a true monster. Yet not once did I feel these things were true. Just from the synopsis alone, we are told he is incredibly different, “a boy with a tormented heart.” The prologue tells us that we should question the reason behind his “senseless” killings. He is incredibly jaded, has an exterior of stone, and a simmering temper that is fearsome when provoked. Yet it would be a mistake to think of him only as we are told (“monster”) or as he appears (cold). I think I clung to this portrayal far too long, and sometimes failed to see the truth. He has incredible depth as a character that must be unearthed bit by bit, revealed in its own due time. 

“Trust that the man you see now is a shadow of what lies beneath.”

The romance is the heart and soul of the story, and it is beautiful. Despite the adverse circumstances, the two have an instantly palpable chemistry, which initially leads to butting heads but slowly develops into captivating romance. I felt the love, and to me Khalid and Shazi seem to have an deep understanding of each other on another level, even when their secrets were like a gulf between them. Their romance is a fragile thing, intimate and dear, yet prone to destruction from so many forces. In so many ways their relationship is very serious and adult, so on my part, at least, there was no swooning or squealing. But it is still a force to behold, filled with emotion, subtlety, and intensity.

“I know love is fragile. And loving someone like you is near impossible. Like holding something shattered through a raging sandstorm. If you want her to love you, shelter her from that storm…And make certain that storm isn’t you.”

There are so many interesting side characters that I loved, though I do wish we had more from them. I liked humble and wise Omar, eccentric and caring Musa, sassy and sharp Despina, and so many more characters. I have a huuuge soft spot for Jalal, the captain of the guard who is Khalid’s cousin. His curls, his confidence and teasing, and his trust and insight wormed their way into my heart. Then there’s Tariq, Shazi’s childhood friend and first love who tries to “rescue” her. He’s misguided in so many ways, and while his sense of being entitled to having Shazi and not really listening and trusting in her nettled me to no end, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. Shahrzad’s family, on the other hand, could’ve used more fleshing out. I felt the least connected to them by far.

The pacing is what was tough for me, because it is unique and different from what I was expecting. It takes some time to establish the setting and the characters, and for so long nothing seems to happen that isn’t described in the synopsis. I think this is what kept getting me distracted and putting down the book. Sometimes the plot seems to flounder, meander. But what I think I recognize now is that because it is the romance that is central to the story, and must be carefully developed, the plot is bound to be slow. But the end part was GREAT — so much action, and all the potential finally fulfilled! I still can’t help but wish that it didn’t all have to be withheld to the end. It’s like I saw all that Ahdieh was capable of writing, but confined only to the last part.

AND THERE IS A HEARTBREAKING CLIFFHANGER. I liked its delicious torture, though I’m actually pretty confused about things. View Spoiler »

I think my biggest complaint is that I just wanted MORE. Of a lot of things. Which isn’t entirely awful. As a matter fact, the book even started to deliver on it near the end, and I actually have a good deal of faith that book 2 WILL deliver.

Also, PSA: the very important glossary is wedged BETWEEN the end of book 1 and the sneak preview to book 2.  Oh, if only I had known!

The Wrath and the Dawn was not the book I was expecting to read, but it slowly drew me in until its ending pulled me under.

Intoxicating, beautiful, and full of secrets.


More Library Love: It’s the Little Things

More Library Love

I’ve already touched quite a bit on my love for libraries in a past post — why I prefer to borrow vs. buy books, my thoughts on why the library system is like a magical unicorn, yada yada…

But I realized that I’ve only just skimmed the surface of my love for the library. When you spend as much time at the library as I do, you start to notice certain habits that come with being a frequent library-goer. You could probably drive the route to your local library blindfolded, your library bag is the largest you own and is likely a bit dirty from overuse, and you no doubt had your library card number memorized ages ago…

And it’s not just the quirky habits of library-goers that I’ve noticed — it’s also the little things I appreciate when I’m at the library. Be they moments of near literary nirvana in the stacks or the little victories in snagging the exact book I want, I’ve come to appreciate so many small things about the library.

Prepare yourselves, this won't be a short list!

Prepare yourselves, this won’t be a short list!

So settle in and cozy up as I list the little things I love about the library! Hopefully if I’m doing it right, my fellow library regulars will be nodding their heads and saying, “That’s so me!” Or maybe you’ll just be a little creeped out by how much time I must spend at the library. * winks * You know, I don’t claim it as my permanent address, but…

1. When your hold comes in faster than expected!


It’s the book you’ve just been dying to get your hands on, but you were too broke to buy at the bookstore. Your dramatic sigh of defeat and desperation when viewing the decades-long holds list was probably the Sigh Heard Round the World. You placed the hold and then promptly tried to forget about it, lest you drown in your misery. But — lo and behold! — on your next trip to the library there it sits, calling to you from its place on the holds shelf with your name on it! Praise be to the speed-readers and hold-cancellers everywhere.

2. When a librarian manages to track down a book you couldn’t f ind anywhere.

You NEED this book unlike any other book you’ve ever needed in your life (since last week), but it’s nowhere to be found. It’s not in its designated spot on the shelf, it’s not a new book, and it doesn’t even seem to be on display. You gather up the courage to pester the librarian at the desk (who turns out to be rather nice), and they disappear into and return from some magical back room with your book in tow! Now tell me who the real miracle workers are…

 3. When you’re the only person in the section and feel like the whole place belongs to you.


Sure, you understand that the library is a public place, and that that’s even part of what makes it so special. Still, you can’t help but wish sometimes that you were the only one around, enjoying your books in peace and quiet. You happen to glance to your right, and — gasp! — there’s no one there. You peek to the left, and it’s similarly abandoned. Smiling with bookish glee, you settle deeper into your armchair, secretly name this part of the library as your section for now and forever more, and get to reading like you’re the only person in the world.

4. When you f ind the new book you wanted actually on the shelf, somehow miraculously hold-less!

Perhaps in a case very similar to #1, the new book you want must be obtained from the library. But maybe you forgot to place a hold on it, and are despairing because you’re sure that by now trying to get it must be a lost cause. Yet when browsing the new books, it suddenly appears on the shelf like a mirage. Who are you to question the questionable taste of your fellow library patrons? It’s definitely their loss if they don’t know a good book when they see one. Snatch that baby off the shelf and it’s YOURS!

 5. When you can spend hours at the library unhassled by family members anxious to leave.


While they claim to like reading (or maybe they never made any such claim), your family members sure do seem to want to leave within 15 minutes of arriving. They say they’ve got this or that obviously less important thing to do — but can’t they see you’ve only just barely started looking for books? (The tall stack by your bag might be a bit misleading). This time you managed to beg off having to go as a family by promising to pick up their holds, but make no promises about the hour of your return. Rejoice!

6. When you happen across a book on the shelves that you didn’t even know you needed!

Oh my gosh, they make books on the history of children’s publishing? Wait, do I really need this book on cats and reading? Is this actually a book about time-traveling, sword-wielding princesses? Sign me up! Alas, even Goodreads and fellow bloggers cannot alert you to every book out there that you’d love. And so enters the wondrous serendipity of finding books simply while browsing the stacks. Highly recommended, particularly if you’ve got a good deal of time on your hands and a penchant for experimentation.

7. When the shelves are decorated with librarian-made book art.


As the motto goes, you can never have enough book art. Or at least it should! If your librarians aren’t making book art for the library, what are they doing? (Kidding! Very much kidding. Bow down to your librarians.) A few origami flowers made from book pages are practically essential. And that Christmas tree they made months ago from used paperbacks and a few string lights? GENIUS.

8. When you come across a kindred spirit in the stacks.

You’re completely engrossed in finding the shelf where the M’s begin when you almost trip over someone sitting in the stacks. Yet you’re not even mad, because they’re surrounded by small piles of books, completely absorbed in whatever it is they’re reading. By gosh, that could be one of your clones right there! You give them ample space when going around them, and send positive book vibes their way.

What do you think, did I nail it with this list? What are some of the little things you love about the library? Share some library love!


Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson

Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy NelsonI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published by Penguin on September 16th 2014
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

[Warning: review partially written under the influence of this heady, intoxicating book. Language may or may not have been hijacked by Noah Sweetwine’s incredible voice.]

Oh, man. I would review this just by stringing together quote after beautiful quote if I could! Seriously, I could do it. I liked about 23 quotes on Goodreads. (My secret mission may or may not be to convince you to read it from the quotes alone. 😉 )

“Who knows if [maybe] destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life?”

As mentioned in the synopsis, I’ll Give You the Sun has a really unique structure — and it creates a one-of-a-kind story that you can’t forget. The book has 2 POVs: the first being Noah as he narrates their life at about 13 years old, and the second being Jude as she narrates their life at 16. During the time between the two perspectives, it’s clear that some major things have happened that have caused the twins to painfully grow apart until they hardly recognize each other. Both POVs feature pivotal moments in their lives as the reader tries to piece together what happened.

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.”

Though I hesitate to use the term (because I’m not sure that it accurately describes it, though it’s the only word I really have), the book is full of magical realism and I absolutely LOVED it! It took a little time to adjust, wondering if some of the outrageous things described we really happening, but once I learned to roll with it, there was no going back. For me, it magnified the emotions of everything that was happening and made it that much stronger and dizzyingly brilliant. It made the ordinary extraordinary.

“There’s something going on in his face right now, something very bright trying to get out — a dam keeping back a wall of light. His soul might be a sun. I’ve never met anyone that had the sun for a soul.”

And this book just has so many “-isms,” I’ll-give-you-the-sun-isms. Things that make the book so special and types of “inside jokes” that people who haven’t read the book would be utterly confused by. Like that you should probably cry if I call you a “broken umbrella,” or that you should be pretty angry if I call you a “toilet-licking, garbage-headed scum-sucker.” (Then again, maybe that one’s not so hard to figure out, haha.) And Clark Gable knows that you shouldn’t just go around handing out oranges to people because that is DANGEROUS.

Each different perspective is also broken up by snippets unique to each POV that are so like that character, and provide insight. Noah’s snippets are the portraits he paints in “the invisible museum” of his mind (he’s an artist). Jude’s are prices of bizarre advice and remedies found in the “bible” she inherits from her grandmother (she’s a bit superstitious). I enjoyed them so much!

(SELF-PORTRAIT: Boy Rowing Madly Back Through Time)
If a boy gives a girl an orange, her love for him will multiply

But undeniably, it was really Noah Sweetwine who stole the show. This boy. I LOVE THIS BOY. I don’t think I couldn’t like him even if I tried. (And trying would be a terrible crime.) His voice is so purely honest and emotional. At 13 Noah is shy but passionate, his whole world awash in colors and images, and his whole life is his art. He feels like no one understands him but Jude.

“It occurs to me that Jude does this too, changes who she is depending on who she’s with. They’re like toads changing their skin color. How come I’m always just me?”

That is, until he meets Brian. The way Noah describes Brian is like a heaven-sent being. (PORTRAIT, SELF-PORTRAIT: The Boy Who Watched the Boy Hypnotize the World) Brian is nerdy just like Noah, and he has this incredible inner energy. Noah’s world shifts as soon as he meets him, because he finally finds someone else who understands him. Their feelings for each other are exhilarating and warm, tentative and infectious. I’ll confess, I had I only read two other LGBTQ romance books before this, and neither were great. But Brian and Noah? Their romance blows EVERYTHING out of the water.

“I’m thinking the reason I’ve been so quiet all those years is only because Brian wasn’t around yet for me to tell everything to.”

Onto Jude, “the patron saint of lost causes.” Yes, while it took me a little while to warm up to Jude — she isn’t exactly warm and huggable — she eventually won me over. At 16 Jude is a girl lost, hiding from the world with her life “on pause.” She’s struggling to deal with so many unresolved issues in her life that she’s kind of buried herself and resorted to her superstitious “bible-thumping,” and above all, her boycott. But you see the she does have a strong will and plenty of determination, and that she has so much guilt that is just tearing her up inside. She does care, she just needs to remember that it’s ok to show it.

“I think you can sort of slip out of your life and it can be hard to f ind a way back in.”
“What if I’m in charge of my own damn light switch?”

I first decided to pick up this book because of Noah and Jude’s sibling-hood, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a big part of the story, but also not the central focus — I guess I’d say it’s like a very crucial frame to the story that is all-important, but not always the center of attention. I’m sure that anyone who is close with their siblings can relate pretty well, but as a triplet myself, everything about them hit me so hard and reminded me of my sisters and I. Their famous shoulder-to-shoulder “smush” pose that makes them feel complete together, the way they play at splitting up the world for world domination — even the way they both marry a madrone tree when they were five (with Jude also being the minister). Their incredible closeness and shared imagination felt so familiar. And the way Jude worries about how much Noah has changed and how their relationship is nonexistent — it KILLED me inside.

When twins are separated, their spirits seal away to f ind the other

And there’s so much more to discover that I didn’t touch on if you read the book. Two other amazing characters, another fated romance, tangibly heartbreaking family issues, more awesome art stuff, ghosts, jealousy, donuts, penis panic attacks… wait, what? I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out. * mwah ha ha ha *

If you’ve ever thought about starting this book, START IT. If you’ve never heard of this book, well, you have now, so READ IT ALREADY!