Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Reader by Traci Chee (Giveaway)

Hello lovely bookish friends! Today, I have the utmost pleasure of sharing with you an awesome giveaway sponsored by the wonderful Penguin Random House! We are celebrating the fast approaching publication of Traci Chee's THE READER, and giving one lucky winner a chance to win a copy of The Reader and a very cool I AM THE READER tote bag! 

But first, I'd love to talk to you about what books and reading means to me. Sefia’s clue to finding her lost family lies in a book. How did I find a family through books and/or through being a part of the online book community? 

I've always been a big reader - ever since I can remember! When I was a little kid, I always had my nose stuck in a book. I've read tons of adventure books -- stories about treasure hunts, mysterious places, tree houses, etc. When I got a bit older, I moved on to The Fear Street stories, X-Files novelizations and mangas. Then I discovered Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Graham Masterton, Philip K.Dick and Arthur C.C. Clarke, and so my literary tastes began to shape - to this day, I am still a huge horror and science fiction fan. 

But at that point in life, reading was a solitary experience for me. Sure, I occasionally talked about Dean Koontz' books with my closest friends, and yes, I was part of a manga club at school where  we would obsess over the latest releases, but I didn't feel like I was a part of any community, let alone had a bookish family. No, that came much later. It wasn't until I moved to Canada to be with my husband (at the time still fiance), and I started reading in English, that I began to seek out connections in the book world. 

My husband was studying full time, I was new to Canada and still very awkward in that transplanted-European kind of way. I didn't have any friends. I was alone at home for the majority of the time, and books became more than just ways of passing time for me. They became my lifeline. And it wasn't enough for me to just read them anymore, I wanted more - I wanted to talk about them with like-minded bookworms, share my excitement, fangirl and grieve together. I desperately needed to connect with the community. 

At first, I struggled with reading in English. It isn't my first language and I always felt the need to look up every word I didn't understand - and at that time, that was probably half of every book's content - and it would take me very long to get through my usual favorite's - Stephen King or Anne Rice. 

The year was 2008 and everyone was freaking out about the Twilight movie coming out, and so I decided to read the book. And that single decision turned out to be life-changing - a real pivoting point in my life. I read Twilight. I then read the rest of the series, followed by The Host and Chaos Walking Trilogy. And then I'd obsessively peruse my local library's YA section, looking for similar, amazing, exciting, captivating reads. And I was so into these books, I decided I needed an outlet, some place to talk about my feelings and thoughts! That's when Bookish Lifestyle was born (then still just Bookish), and where my first awkward and embarrassingly short reviews were posted. 

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows from the start, trust me. For a very long time, I felt like I was just talking to myself. No one was reading my posts, no one was commenting on them, no one in the whole world was listening. Until one day, I came across a sort of forum for bookworms, where people would share their sites and connect with other readers and even authors (gasp!). To my utter disbelief, I was asked to review some books, and even provided review copies (my very first review copies, people!). I met Rhiannon Paille, Stacy Juba, Hank Quense and many other authors who trusted me with their stories. I did my first interviews, I posted first guest posts and hosted first giveaways. And you know what? My little blog started getting some attention...

Looking back at those times, I can't help but tear up. One single decision to pick up a book and then start a blog, changed my life so much, it's kind of unbelievable. Those first years in Canada were very hard for me. I don't think I ever admitted that to anyone - not even my closest friends and family - but those were some incredibly hard and lonely years, and I was feeling lost and out of place and so very unimportant. And I couldn't even complain, because I brought it all on myself - I made the decision to leave my home country to be with someone I loved. I had to live with the consequences. 

I don't think I need to tell you just how amazing the book community is - if you're part of it, you already know that. I met some of my best friends here. Over the years, I interacted with hundreds of fellow readers and bloggers, I exchanged tweets, DMs, emails, even letters and gifts. Some of these people became my lifelines - my blog partner Andrea (who is absolutely irreplaceable), my lovely co-bloggers Debbie and Jess, my Irish bestie Amanda, the always beautiful and caring  Amber... All of my beautiful bookstagram friends (Lisa, Becca, Korrina, Alix & Kelly, Rheney, Andie, Andrea, Allison, Alison, Crystal, and like a hundred other wonderful gals and boys), who are always there to chat with me, who offer words of encouragement and support, who never fail to lift me up and make even the darkest of my days so much brighter. All of these people are like my family. No, not "like". They ARE my family. Without them, I wouldn't be here. And I don't mean to sound overly dramatic, I mean it. I've faced some of the most difficult, painful moments this year and it's been an ongoing struggle the past months. Many times I felt like I was drowning, like I was ready to give up. I felt doubts. I felt heartbreak. I was in a very dark and hopeless place. And these people, my bookish family, they gave me hope, a reason to go on and keep on fighting. They were there to say "don't give up" when I really needed to hear that. They always are. When I get sick, when I am having a bad day, when something horrible happens, they are there. They hold my hand through it all. When something exciting happens, when I have good news to share - they're always there, too. They say "congrats!" and "good job!" and "I'm happy for you, you deserve it!" and they turn good days into absolutely wonderful days. It means so much to me. It is everything. My motivation, my hope, my reason to keep getting up after every single fall. 

To me, the book community is my life. And that's not an exaggeration or a figure of speech, it's plain and simple truth. I don't know where I'd be, or who I'd be, or even if I still would BE, without it. Without you. Without all of you and every single one of you. I read to feel better, I review to feel accomplished, I design bookish merch to stay alive, I post on Instagram to stay connected to my friends and extended family. My whole life revolves around books, and I absolutely love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Thank you for being part of my life. Please know, that I appreciate you - probably more than you know. 


In celebration of reading, I've partnered up with the awesome folks at Penguin Random House to bring you this exciting giveaway~

One (1) winner receives:
  a copy of The Reader
 a branded “I Am The Reader” tote bag

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Penguin Random House.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Reader:

Book 1 in Sea of Ink and Gold series
By Traci Chee
Release: September 13, 2016
A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone.

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.

About the author:

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut.

Read an excerpt of the first two chapters here!

Follow @TraciChee on Twitter

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from Before Blogging

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish

Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven't Read Yet

I'm pretty good about clearing out my bookshelf/TBR everyone once in a while and reading books that have been on my shelf for awhile, but these three books (yes, three!) have been around since prior to 2012 when I first started blogging on Beauty but a Funny Girl. I'm really hoping to get to them sooner rather than later!


What books have been on your list since before you started blogging? If you're not a blogger, what are some books that have been on your list for years?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Musical Musings: Discover Weekly

Musical Musings is a new feature where I'll be talking about music! There'll be two posts a month---the first of which (like this one!) will be about some random musical topic, and the second post of the month will be a recap of my month in music. To learn more about this feature and whatnot, click here to check out my introduction post! :)

Discover Weekly

Despite my desire to do better at being consistent with Musical Musings posts this year, I've been failing. Terribly. And I'd like to sit here and say I have no idea why, that I've tried and can't figure out what's wrong so I can get over it, but I've got to be real here...I know exactly what my issue is. HAMILTON. Yeah, I said it. Hamilton is the reason I've been lacking with Musical Musings posts. Or at least, that's the excuse I'm using.

You see, I've been all caught up in Hamilton since the end of February/beginning of March. And if you know anything about Hamilton, you know that when you become a fan, you don't just become a fan. No, it takes over your LIFE. You listen to it all the time, learn all the words, watch everything you can find from the cast on YouTube...this list could go on for a good long while, but I think my point is made: It's a consuming obsession.

And I'm not COMPLAINING. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I love Hamilton. I'm not even close to sick of any of it.

But that's also the problem. I'm stuck in Hamilton and not sick of any of the songs and listening to it all the time. How am I supposed to make different posts for this feature each month if my usual twist and turn of musical moods has frozen? If all I'm doing is listening to the same songs from the same musical constantly? I've already done a Hamilton post---so what do I do now?

Do you see my dilemma? I've been trying to figure out what to post about and every month, I've drawn a blank.

UNTIL THIS MONTH. Because to listen to Hamilton, I often use Spotify. Y'all know how I'm a fan of that little bugger. And if you've been on Spotify, you may have noticed that handy dandy "Discover Weekly" playlist that updates each week with new songs Spotify thinks you'll like. WELP, I'm a fan of that playlist. And every week, I give it some attention. While a majority of my musical listening is still very much wrapped up in a musical about the ten dollar founding father without a father, I do take some time to listen to the songs on my Discover Weekly that spark my interest and save them to my Songs. (Then I go right back to my Hamilton playlist, of course.)

So I thought for this week, it'd be kind of cool or fun or whatever you wish to call it to share some of those songs I've found or remembered through Discover Weekly. Okay? Okay.

Come On Get Higher - Matt Nathanson

I distinctly remember this song being really popular the summer after I read Twilight. So now it's attached to all kinds of Twilight-obsessed memories (watching anything with one of the actors in it...reading the books a bajillion times...), but I also was just a huge fan of this song. It's light and fun and I was so glad to see it pop up on my Discover playlist--ESPECIALLY now that it's summer. Wonderful song and perfect timing. I love it.

Puppy Love - This Wild Life

I'd never heard of this song or artist before it showed up in my playlist, and I didn't even intend to listen to THIS song. I was listening to something else on the playlist and then the song ended and it shuffled over to this one--and I'm glad it did. This song is so cute. It reminds me of my early high school days when my friend Kayla and I found all kinds of cute songs like this and quoted them at each other. (Now that I'm thinking about this, I should do a post about those cute songs sometime! And I should send Kayla this song.) I'll definitely be looking into more songs by This Wild Life, and I'm seriously looking forward to it.

Chariot - Gavin DeGraw

Aww, this song! It's so old. I don't even remember when I heard it for the first time, but I know that my mom enjoyed it and that rubbed off on me. Chariot was on my first burned CD. My first MP3 player, too. It's so near and dear to my heart.

Stay - Mayday Parade

I hadn't heard this song before it showed up in my Discover playlist and, quite frankly, that is ridiculous. There is not a single Mayday Parade song that I haven't loved, so WHY have I not sifted through all of their songs yet? I need to get on that because this band is serious favorite material.

Sons & Daughters - The Decemberists

I recognized the name of the band, but I don't recall ever hearing this particular song before. Once I clicked play to hear it, though, I automatically saved it to my Spotify song collection. There's just something about the SOUND that I adore. I need to listen to this song on repeat ASAP so I can learn all the words because I am such a fan.

What A Catch, Donnie - Fall Out Boy

I've been a fan of Fall Out Boy for a WHILE. So it's not like this song was new to me. The exact opposite, actually. But it'd been a long while since I listened to it and it set me off to realize how long it'd been since I listened to A LOT of Fall Out Boy's song, so after listening to this twice I went on a Fall Out Boy song saving spree and I regret nothing. This particular song is one of my favorites by them. I could sing along to it all day. (Bonus: Elton John!)

White Blank Page - Mumford & Sons

Another band that I have not disliked a song by, yet for some reason I still haven't raided everything I can find by them. What is wrong with me? This song is fabulous! It's beautiful and it makes my ears happy and I'm so glad it popped up on my playlist. Now I just need to go through everything by Mumford & Sons and add a lot more of their work to my collection because I love it so much.

So those are a few songs that I've come across in my Discover Weekly playlist!

Now I'd LOVE to hear from you! Do you use Spotify? Do you check out your Discover Weekly playlist? Have you found any gems--either new to you or old? Let me know in the comments!

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