Monday, March 25, 2019

ARC Review: The Next to Last Mistake

I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest review.  My thoughts are my own and mine alone. 

The Next to Last Mistake by Amalie Jahn 
Published By: Light Messages Publishing
Published Date:  March 19th 2019
Format: Egalley
Pages: 282 Pages
Challenges: Goodreads

Authors WebsiteGoodreadsBuy This
Tess Goodwin’s life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated. Although she chooses to spend most of her free time playing chess with her best friend Zander, the farm-boy from next door, her skills as a bovine midwife and tractor mechanic ensure that she fits in with the other kids at East Chester High. But when her veteran father reenlists in the Army, moving her family halfway across the country to North Carolina, Tess is forced out of her comfort zone into a world she knows nothing about. Tess approaches the move as she would a new game of chess, plotting her course through the unfamiliar reality of her new life. While heeding Zander’s long-distance advice for making new friends and strategizing a means to endure her dad’s imminent deployment to the Middle East, she quickly discovers how ill-equipped she is to navigate the challenges she encounters and becomes convinced she’ll never fit in at her new school. When Leonetta Jackson is assigned as her mentor, she becomes Tess’s unexpected guide through the winding labyrinth of disparities between them, sparking a tentative friendship and challenging Tess to confront her reluctant nature. As the pieces move across the board of her upended life, will Tess find the acceptance she so desperately desires?

When I first read the summary of this book I was super excited to read it. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the ARC so I could read and share my thoughts here on the blog. Let's start off by saying I wasn't disappointed in this one. Yes there were a few things that I didn't particularily enjoy, but all in all this was a great read. 

In the beginging of this book, I really loved the relationships between Tess and Zander, I hated that she ended up moving away and wasn't around him anymore. I needed more of that relationship in this story. I understand that the book had to move forward after she moved but still I needed more of Zander! I loved the character Tess, she's the main character and I really related to her. All she wants is acceptance and that's pretty much what everyone really wants. To be accepted for who she is. 

Now my next thoughts on this book is something that I don't usually talk about here on the blog, but I think it needs to be mentioned when it comes to this book. I don't want you to take this the wrong way though. I think this subject is extreamly important in today's world. The world we live in gets crazy and honestly it's very racist. It's how it is and I'm not sure how we change that. I do think sometimes we push a bit too hard though and I think at times this book did that. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it did make the book drag a bit in my opinion. Like I said I think it's a really important subject to have in YA books, because kids these days need to know and see what others go through, but we don't need to push too hard either way. (I hope I'm saying this right.) I wasn't going to say anything because I don't want a bunch of hate comments on my blog, but I think it's also important to mention because it's such a huge part of this book and a huge part of our world today.  

It did bring to attention that sometimes our words touch different people in different ways. Maybe we say something but didn't mean it that way, but it was precieved that way. We as people need to watch the way we say things. I did like that it touched on that subject and how it was brought up. 

Now let's talk about setting and plot. I really enjoyed the plot, I wanted to know if Tess was going to make it in her new world so to speak, but like I said above it did drag a bit in places. I really loved the descriptive parts about her new house and new school.  All in all I did enjoy this book and would like to read more books by this author. I think it's a great book for young adults to read and honestly need to read. I really hope you'll read this book and enjoy it.  It's got some tough subjects but it's a fantastic read over all!

I'm giving The Next To Last Mistake an Ali's Bookshelf...

Plot: 20/20
Characters: 15/20
Writing: 16/20
Creativity: 15/20
Cover: 10/10
Ending: 10/10

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Ali Talks: Ratings and the Rating Breakdown

So today, I wanted to chat about ratings and the Rating breakdown that I used to add to my reviews here on the blog. It's something that's been on my mind for a little while and honestly it's something that I want to really work on here on Ali's Bookshelf. 

Do you ever feel like you get into a rut when it comes to ratings and the books you read? I know ratings are very subjective, they are based on the person's thoughts when reading the book. I want to work on the way I rate books. I honestly want to be a bit harder when it comes to my ratings. So fair warning you might not see many fives in the coming reviews. Fives are going to be saved for those books that I just couldn't get out of my head after I finished them, or those books that I just couldn't pull myself away from. I just feel like I give a lot of 4's and 5's and after awhile I wonder if I went back and read those books again if I would give the same rating. I want to be a little bit more critical. 

What are your thoughts on ratings? When you read a book are you criticial when giving out a rating or do you just give it a five if you liked it?  

 I think I'm going to bring back my old rating system, a few years ago I used to post all my reviews with a rating breakdown of sorts. Sort of like this...

Plot: /20
Characters: /20
Writing: /20
Creativity: /20
Cover: /10
Ending: /10

I'm thinking of bringing this back to help me be fore critical of what I'm reading. Back when I was adding this to my reviews I was a bit more critical than I am now.  It made me think before just giving a book five puppies, I had to know exactly why I was giving said book five puppies. I think will also keep me more in check when it comes to be honest about how I feel about the book. If I like a book, I've found here lately I give it five puppies, but shouldn't I love that book if it gets that rating? Like I said I've been thinking about this for a while now and I think it's time for change! 

Thanks for sticking around for my little ratings chat, how do you feel about ratings? Should we as readers be more critical or just go with it? I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Also how do you rate your reads, do you just rate them on Goodreads or do you have a blog like me? 

Have a great day and as always...

Friday, March 22, 2019

Book Blogger Hop #68

Book Blogger Hop is another post I'm going to be trying out and this one has a topic each week, which is something I've been trying to bring to the blog.  I'm really excited about this one because I have a hard time coming up with something fresh to talk about and I'm hoping this helps.

If you would be interested in doing your own post, please CLICK HERE to learn more about this great hop!

 22nd - 28th - Do you read along with your Audio books? (submitted by Angelica @ Paperback Princess)

 There has been a few books that I've done this. One being Illuminae just because of the details of of the book. If you haven't seen the inside you're missing out! It's beautiful. But most of the time I don't follow along with an Audiobook. 

Do you follow along with an audiobook? If you do, why do you follow along? I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. 

Book Blogger Hop #65

Book Blogger Hop is another post I'm going to be trying out and this one has a topic each week, which is something I've been trying to bring to the blog.  I'm really excited about this one because I have a hard time coming up with something fresh to talk about and I'm hoping this helps.

If you would be interested in doing your own post, please CLICK HERE to learn more about this great hop!
 8th - 14th - Do you have celebrations for your blog's anniversary such as a giveaway? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)
 I used to do this and honestly really want to bring it back. I've been blogging for a long time and think it should be something that is celebrated. It's always fun to do giveaways and celebrate things here on the blog.

What do you all think, should I bring that back? 


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Blog Tour: Author Guest Post and Giveaway

Today I'm so happy to be part of this fantastic tour. I want to thank Chapter by Chapter blog tours for letting me be part of this tour and I hope you all enjoy this amazing author guest post that author Tobie Easton wrote for you. I want to thank her as well for giving us a fantastic reply to my question! As well as the giveaway, which will be at the bottom of the post. Enjoy! 

Guest Post Topic: Day in the life or Plotter or Pantser

I have always been a plotter.  I spent A.P. Biology plotting my essays for my literature class (my bio teacher just thought I took really detailed notes).  I’m one of those writers who gets stuck if I don’t know where I’m going next.  It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally figured out that if I think I’m stuck on Scene A, I’m usually not.  I really just don’t know enough about Scene B yet, and once I puzzle that out, Scene A suddenly becomes clear.  That’s true on a larger scale, too; I need to know all the major plot points before I start writing.  How do I come up with those plot points? A lot of long baths spent staring at the ceiling are involved.

When I have that basic outline, I write a scene by scene outline that sometimes includes description or bits of dialogue that come to me.  The outline lets me know where the story is going and helps me fully grasp character arcs.  Once the outline is done, I start writing!  

So what does my day-to-day routine look like in a drafting phase?  I wake up and work out before I can think about it or talk myself out of it, usually while listening to a podcast or audiobook or watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Meanwhile, my husband walks our puppy Maple just in time for her to attack me with boundless energy when I finish my workout.  I shower, then make a large pot of tea and bring it upstairs with me.  I say goodbye to the husband when he leaves for work, then get Maple settled.  She falls asleep and I set a brainstorming timer for 30 minutes.

During those first 30 minutes, I listen to between one and three very specific songs on repeat that help me feel creative and fit the mood of my current work in progress.  For the Mer Chronicles series, it was “The Old Ways” by Loreena McKennitt, over and over, until just the hearing opening notes made me feel like it was time to write.  I listen to the music, sip my first cup of tea, and think about what I need to write that day.  If my mind starts to wander, I do my best to refocus it.  I’ll often read through my outline of the scene and then read the ending of scene I wrote the previous day.  I also use this time to set my wordcount goal in a little, virtual sticky note on my computer, then break it down into 250-word increments.  Focusing on those smaller pieces, one at a time, makes the goals seem much more achievable.  

When the timer goes off, I set it for another 30 minutes and start to write.  During those 30 minutes, I can’t check email or social media, I can’t watch YouTube videos or Netflix.  Nothing.  That’s 30 minutes of focus—to be interrupted by nothing and no one (except Maple, if she needs a potty break because puppies don’t care about deadlines, in which case, I pause the timer).  I write as much as I can in those 30 minutes and, since I’m not a fast writer, I count it as a success no matter how many words I’ve written provided I stayed focused the entire time.  When the timer goes off, I set it for 10 minutes and take a break.  This is when I can check anything online that I want, listen to some of a podcast, watch a short video, whatever.  I drink another cup of tea and recharge.  When the timer goes off, I set it for another 30 minutes. Repeat until lunch.

That’s my morning.  On good days, I can do that until about 12pm without being interrupted, but of course, sometimes things need to be shuffled around a bit.  At 12pm, Maple and I head downstairs and I eat lunch (well, breakfast—I’m trying out intermittent fasting right now, which I like so far).  After that, I catch up on authory business stuff like emails, interviews, marketing, etc.  And after that, I try to conquer all the other non-author stuff I need to do on a given day.  If I’ve managed to write enough in the morning that I’m satisfied with my wordcount for the day (1,000/words per day earlier in a draft and hopefully 2,000/words per day once I’m farther along in the draft and the pace picks up), then that’s a GREAT day.  If I haven’t yet, I try to incorporate some more writing sprints later in the day or evening.  On the best kind of day, I have time at night for a brainstorming bath that I can spend thinking about the shape of the book overall as well as what I’ll be working on in the coming week.

And there you have it.  I find that sticking to a set schedule really helps me get in the right mindset to write.  For me, the magic moments during drafting are the ones when the characters’ voices completely take over.  It’s a lot of hard work to get to those voicey moments, but they’re the absolute best.  So far, this is my process for getting there more often. Some days are much busier with non-writing work than others, and sometimes I’m lucky to get an hour or two instead of a whole morning.  When that happens, I find that falling back on my routine (the music, the tea, the timer) helps trigger my brain so I can get into a creative headspace faster.

Writing is so individual, and every writer needs to find what works for them.  I find I’m always learning new ways to make my routine more effective, so if you have any tips you’d like to share, I’d always LOVE to hear them.  Come find me on Twitter or IG (@TobieEaston) or email me via my website I hope this post gave you some insight into my routine and maybe even a few ideas you’d like to test out in your own!

Immerse (Mer Chronicles #3) by Tobie Easton
Publication Date:  March 19, 2019
Publisher:  Month9Books

Immerse is the spellbinding and breathless final installment of the Mer Chronicles series where descendants of the Little Mermaid must face deadly magic, shifting alliances, and the dangers of forbidden love.
Lia can’t wait for her parents’ coronation. Now living in the sparkling palace beneath the waves, she sneaks off to Malibu whenever possible to see Clay. Tucked away in an abandoned seaside mansion, Lia and Clay devise a plan to ensure they can stay together forever.
But when an old enemy resurfaces and Lia is restricted to the palace for the safety of all Merkind, she and Clay are ripped apart once more.
She fears not only for Clay, but for her best friend Caspian, who seems to be swimming down a dangerous path. He has invited the conniving Melusine to the coronation ball, convinced she’s capable of change. And no matter how hard Lia fights it, showing up on Caspian’s arm is just the start of Melusine’s insidious return to her life.
With threats Below growing more ominous by the day and a powerful ancient ritual looming, soon the two girls can’t escape each other. As their fates grow increasingly intertwined, Melusine might be the only one who can help Lia find the answers she desperately needs to save everyone she loves and to achieve her happily ever after. But can Lia trust her?

Award-winning author Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she's grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. Her debut novel, Emerge, is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and is Book 1 in the acclaimed Mer Chronicles series. The trilogy follows the descendants of the Little Mermaid and offers fans a peek into a world where Mermaids aren't just real, but live secretly among us on land.
She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie splits her time between Los Angeles and Boston.
Learn more about Tobie and her upcoming books on

This giveaway is for a Starbucks giftcard, come on who needs some coffee? Good luck everyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you all enjoyed this post, I know I loved sharing it with you. Again thanks for the tour company and to the amazing author. 

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