Friday, November 27, 2015

What I Champion

This post is inspired by The Giving Way to Happiness and Giving Tuesday as part of Irish Banana's Blog Tours.

The holiday season is officially upon us. Whether that means bellies full of Turkey, houses full of tinsel, or anything otherwise, it's a giant giving season for the entire world - regardless of what you celebrate, and if you even celebrate at all. 

With that, as part of one of Irish Banana's Book Blitzes for The Giving Way to Happiness - which I included a synopsis for below  - I wanted to take the time to inform you all of a "cause that I champion", something that I am extremely passionate about. However, I do wish that you take the time to read the summary at the bottom of this post and consider picking up the book for the holiday season!

I work with a local elementary school in my area by the name of Harms Elementary School. To make a long description short, I partner with this elementary school to bring books to their classrooms, speak out about the importance of reading, and encourage students to write their own stories that they can publish.
These students are some of the most enthusiastic students that I have ever met! Their love for reading is SO large, and they would do anything to guarantee that they are able to enjoy stories. Reading and books in general is a way for these kids to escape some of the terrible cards that they have been dealt, and to focus on the positive. Many of these families do not have the money to pay for proper meals every day. A majority of these children are Hispanic and have parents that do not speak English at all (or speak very little of it).

These children fight the odds every day, and I am so proud of them for doing so. These kids take their love for reading and use it to better their lives. These kids fight for books. They fight for literacy. They fight for anything that allows them to see themselves in what they read. These kids fight for what they deserve.

The children are excited to get started image.
I mean, look at these faces! How can you deny a book to these guys!

In the last year, I worked with the school and my local chapter of Executive Women International to bring a poetry professional into their classrooms, after I challenged these students to write a book of their very own - something that I did at the age of eight - during one of the presentations I attended.

These children blew me out of the park. They had so many amazing stories, and so many unique voices. Some of the stories were very deep in subject matter, but these children had a lot to reflect on about their own lives, and lots of desires and regrets that they can only share through writing.

Honestly, I do feel kind of uncomfortable asking for this, but I would love it if you would be able to donate to this cause. At the moment, I do not have a Kickstarter going, but I am working on creating one so that more people are able to donate to this cause. I will be updating this post once the Kickstarter goes live with the link.

However, right now, my local chapter of Executive Women International is selling some of the storybooks that the children wrote themselves. This book is a collection of poems with a variety of topics and with a variety of different age groups. These books are ten dollars (USD). If you would like to purchase one, please comment down below, or email me at, and we can work something out. The money from this sale goes directly to continuing the "Author Under Construction Programme" as we call it at Harms Elementary.

However, if you don't want to do that, I partner with my school to run a book drive every year. Last year alone, we were able to donate over one thousand books! I would love it if we would be able to contribute that many books this year as well! If you are willing to donate any books (or money to purchase them) I would be forever grateful (and this goes for authors as well!) Please email me if you are interested in donating.

We are looking for ANY books as long as they are in good condition (no rips or tears). We can take books for preschool up through adults (as there is also a community center nearby that has a massive need for books)!

Please tweet me (@iamabookjunkie) or email me at if you are able and interested to donate.
Even if you cannot donate, I would love it if you spread the word by reblogging this post. It means the world to me! I would love it if I was able to at least get one donation before Giving Tuesday.

In other amazing news, Wunderkind PR is running a giveaway through this blog blitz. They are going to donate $50.00 to the charity of the winner's choice! Isn't that exciting?! Click below to enter the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you curious about the book that sparked this post? Read here! I really hope you decide to pick it up, either for yourselves or for other people!

We often focus on how our gifts can help those in need. But the act of giving actually improves our own lives as well. In The Giving Way to Happiness, Jenny Santi overturns conventional thinking about what it takes to be happy by revealing how giving to others—whether in the form of money, expertise, time, or love—has helped people from all walks of life find purpose and joy. Drawing on the wisdom of great thinkers past and present, as well as cutting-edge scientific research, Santi makes an eloquent and passionate case that oftentimes the answers to the problems that haunt us, and the key to the happiness that eludes us, lie in helping those around us.

This book is filled with inspiring stories told firsthand by Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn, Noble Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, supermodel Christy Turlington Burns, Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, philanthropist Richard Rockefeller, environmentalist Philippe Cousteau, activist Ric O’Barry, bestselling author Isabel Allende, ALS survivor Augie Nieto, and many others from all over the world. Despite their diverse backgrounds, they have all found unexpected happiness and fulfillment through giving. This book tells us not just how they changed the world but also how their acts changed their very own lives.

In addition, Santi reveals:
- How altruism involves far more than suppressing basic selfish urges. Rather, we are wired to give, as it activates the same pleasure centers of the brain stimulated by food, sex, and drugs
- How helping others—whether by walking a friend through a struggle that you’ve also experienced or by supporting a cause to honor a loved one’s memory—can be a healthy way to deal with adversity and process grief
- The unexpected reasons why those who “gave it all up” to make a difference, and who face the direst situations, are nevertheless some of the happiest, most fulfilled, and least angst-ridden people you’ll ever meet.
- Practical, universally applicable lessons on what kind of giving makes people happy and what doesn’t. How do you discover giving that is unique to you and makes you feel good?

In this inspiring book, Santi turns conventional wisdom upside down about what it takes to be happy and reveals the surprising reasons that have led so many people to live lives full of meaning, purpose and happiness.

Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it) and I hope you all have an amazing holiday season to come! :)


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #2: November 25th 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: January 5th 2016
Page Amount: 292 pages
Price: $17.99 Hardback
ISBN: 149262246X (ISBN13: 9781492622468)

Because of the nature of the discussion taking place in this book, I don't necessarily find it appropriate to answer some of the questions that I answered in the last Waiting on Wednesday post that I made. However, I will answer one question.

Why am I waiting to read this one?
Princessicaofbooks said it best: "we need to read what we are afraid of." We need to continue to have difficult conversations through literature, because, most of the time, through literature is the only place where these conversations can take place. 
Since the several school shootings in the United States and around the world in the past few years, aside from my parents (and some close family), I have never had a conversation about what to do in a shooting if it happens. My school never truly discussed what happens in these shootings. While we did have several "drills", no one of my classes ever truly had a discussion that I can remember about them. We had a moment of silence during the announcements in the morning, and then we never talked about it again.

I do have to mention that one of my amazing teachers two years ago did try to have a small discussion with us during a drill, and I have to give my heart to her because she really was adamant about making sure we were all safe in school and wanted to make sure that we felt that way. 
I need to read about it, because I am afraid of it. I want to figure out why. Because, there is no right reason why a teenage girl should have to fear going to class all day because a school shooting could happen in her school. I need to know why I am afraid. 
I am intrigued about this book, but again, like Princessicaofbooks mentions: "I’m scared to read this, but that may be a reason why I need to." 
One of my blogging buddies over on Twitter: TeenLibrarianToolbox (@TLT16) was having a teen book club discussion about this book, and I found her tweets really interesting. One of the teens participating in the chat says that it is propaganda for gun control and doesn't show the other side of the story, while other teens call the book powerful and moving.

This teen discussion definitely perked my interest in this controversial story, especially because of the opposing viewpoints coming from readers my age. I knew that I was welcome in the discussion for this book (as I am a Young Adult) and this discussion encouraged me to take a closer look at this book.

I also remember seeing one of my other blogging buddies (But I cannot for the love of me remember who it was!) tweet her reactions to the book. Her discussion and tweets about the book intrigued me and also let me know that I was in for a very emotional read. 

I know it is going to be a book that makes me cry lots of sad tears, but I'm hoping that I will find the read to be as powerful as other readers have found it so far.

Read This is Where it Ends on January 5th 2016!

What do you think about my Waiting on Wednesday pick? Comment down below or tweet me @iamabookjunkie!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Introducing: The Winter Wonderland Tag! (Rules)

Winter is coming around the corner, and I thought now would be as good of a time to start a Winter feature!

Say hello to....

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Marissa Meyer Winter Event Re-Cap (November 20th 2015) + GIVEAWAY

Graphic from Marissa Meyer's Website. 

On Friday, November 20th, my father and I made the 4+ hour trek out to Petoskey, to McLean and Earkin Booksellers. I went straight from school into the car, grabbed my books and left, hoping that we would get there in time.

Marissa Meyer was here, and so was Winter. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #1: November 18th 2015

A lot of my blogging friends participate in a feature called "Waiting on Wednesday", where they name a book that they are patiently waiting for, and maybe share a few details about it. It is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that showcases upcoming releases!

I wanted to take a little bit of my own twist on the feature, and instead of just including a summary on the book, include some initial thoughts that I have just by reading the synopsis and looking at the cover.

Without further adieu, here is my very first Waiting On Wednesday post!

Fierce Reads Event Recap by Sarah!

Sarah recently went to a Fierce Reads Event which featured Leigh Bardugo, Joesphine Angelini, Emma Mills and Leila Sales. They had some interesting things to say about writing/becoming an author, and Sarah was nice enough to write me a recap of the event!

A picture of all of the authors!

I attended a stop of the Fierce Reads Tour, at my local independent bookstore, Flyleaf Books. The tour featured four YA authors and their new releases; Leigh BardugoJosephine AngeliniLeila Sales and Emma Mills. A librarian who is in charge of the local teen engagement center moderated the discussion and Q&A.
Confession time: I have never been to an author signing event, and I only went for Leigh Bardugo. But, I am so excited I went because now I have found some great new (to me) authors and books.

This event was a blast. Leigh did dominate the discussion, and cracked many jokes, but I was ok with that :) As I looked around the room, I noticed it was a pretty diverse audience. It was probably 50% teenagers, and 50% adults. Some teenagers were there with their parents, and there were even a few boys (including the moderator). Once the Q&A got going, it was apparent most of the teenagers in attendance were there from the POV of a prospective author, and not just as a reader/fan.

Inline image 3wpid-20151019_164102.jpg
Fierce Reads Swag

The discussion opened up with an ice breaker, "What type of animal would your book be?"
Leigh laughed and said "obviously, mine is a bear." So then, they attempted to go down the line and answer, but it quickly turned into what the authors think vs. what Leigh thinks, as she would disagree and pick out a different animal. The funniest one was when Leila tried to say her was a dog, and Leigh said "no, a peacock, a peadog."

Next up, they discussed their individual writing processes. What parts did they like writing best, and how did they prepare to write their books such as outlining etc.?

Josephine-She is by far the most regimented of the group. She told us how before she writes her books, she has each and every character bio done, every chapter is outlined and she knows her beginning and endpoint. For her most recent book, Fire Walker, she had just given birth to her daughter. So she would wake up at 4am, and basically write as much as she could until her baby woke up. Interesting fact, she also said that she never reads her first draft, instead she has her husband or editor read it and tell her if it sucks or not.

Leila-Her story was interesting. Leila says that she will get an idea, and write in that direction as long as she can, then someone "picks her up" and places her in another direction, then she will write as long in that direction as she can. She further explained this by saying sometimes it is herself who sees that this is not the right path, and changes her course herself. Other times it is her editor who has to move her in another direction. At one point she had 3 different versions of her latest novel and had to pick which one worked the best.

Emma-Emma Mills is a debut author, and she talked about how she didn't really have a particular writing process. She started to write her newest book while she was in high school and wrote portions of it "chopped up" over 5 years in between school and working. She also describes her book, First & Then, as Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights.

Autographed poster
Autographed poster

Leigh-Leigh is hysterical. Basically from this point on she spoke the most of the four. Leigh said that she wrote the proposal for Six of Crows and turned it in to her publisher. She felt that this was the "golden ideal" of the story, and couldn't bring herself to actually write the book because nothing measured up to that proposal and she was always comparing herself. She described it as "the greatest movie trailer ever made."

Ok after this, I honestly stopped taking notes on the other three authors' answers, so I will just tell you what Leigh discussed.

Leigh Bardugo explained that prior to starting Six of Crows, she was away at a writer's retreat. Inspiration struck and she wrote the "zero draft" which was 30,000 words, in one week. For comparison, the final draft of Six of Crows is 130,000 words. Her favorite part to write are the dialgoues, particularly banter. Apparently her editor has to sometimes rein her in or else she will write 10 pages of banter. She also loved to write the relationship between Nina and Matthias in Six of Crows. The two have a love/hate relationship as Nina is a Grisha, and Matthias is a Grisha Hunter, but they have to work together for the heist. On the flip side, Leigh explained that she HATES having to describe gestures. She said "gestures are the bane of my existence!"

trying to make a gesture
Trying to make a gesture

One really interesting thing Leigh mentioned was the fact that when she initially writes her books, she has no idea what the overall theme will be. She gets the first draft completed, and then it is only when she goes back for revisions that the theme emerges and she fleshes it out. Also, what was most intriguing was the fact that in her first draft, she doesn't even include much world building or character descriptions. Which is crazy to me because she is known for her complex world building and magical systems. It seems that she just writes as much as she needs to get the first draft down and have the story complete, then she goes back to add in the good parts!
During the Q&A, one audience member asked the authors "I've heard when you are developing characters, you should think about whether they would react to a situation as fight or flight, and then write all of their actions using that, is that true?"

Joesphine Angelini took the lead on this one and said she doesn't believe there is any one way to write a character. Character development is so rich and complex, there is no right or wrong. Also, a character could start out one way, say timid, and that could be part of their character arc, that they learn to become more confident in their actions.
A picture of some of the books! 

Another question was directed at Leigh and asked "Do you have characters jump out at you and demand that you write their story, or is it more that the story jumps out and you then create the characters to drive the story?" I loved her answer to this. She made a metaphor that her brain is like a crock pot. She may have a character, or story, first, but she isn't ready to write about it, so she puts them back in the crock pot to marinade. And when she is ready, she takes them out of the crock pot, where they have had time to develop more until the right time pops up.

Ok so then I raised my hand to ask a question. I had seen on Leila's instagram she had gone for a walk around Chapel Hill and found a castle. She had also brought this up in the beginning saying she was enjoying this stop. So I was picked and I said "Leila, do you have any idea what that castle is?" "No, what is it?"

So I explained. The castle in the middle of Chapel Hill belongs to the Secret Order of the Ghimgoul. It is a society at UNC that picks male students to be a part of, and apparently they hold parties in the castle. However, there are also ghost stories told about it, one that includes a rock with blood stains on it outside the castle. Nobody really knows much about it, as no one ever says they are in the order, and nobody is ever seen at the castle. All four authors loved this and talked about writing a short story book about Tales of the Ghimgoul!

Then, the best part of the entire night. I got to meet the authors and get my books signed!
Be Too Much
Wtches Burn
Witches Burn

The Fire Rises
The Fire Rises

I had to purchase a new book for the signing line, and since I already own Six of Crows, I chose Fire Walker and Trial by Fire by Angelini. She was so nice! I talked to her about my love of anything to do with Salem and witches. She grew up outside Salem, Mass and knew she had to write a story about it.

meeting Leigh Bardugo
Meeting Leigh Bardugo!

Free buttons and a pen
Free buttons and a pen!

Leigh was awesome and gave me these buttons! I got her to sign my book and my poster, and I even took a picture with her. I admitted to her that I initially came for her, but I enjoyed the discussion and I would be doing a write up. She asked if she had met me before, I told her no but I do get that a lot, its weird. Before getting a pic I asked "Is it weird if I want to get a picture with you?" "No, what's weird is if you take a piece of my hair and pray to it every night." LOL.

I had such a good time. Since it was my first author event I wasn't sure what to expect. Next month the same bookstore is hosting Richelle Mead and I think I'll go to that too!


Thank you so much to Sarah for recapping this event for me, and allowing me to post it on my blog!

Did you like this recap? Let me know if you want to see more by commenting below! :) 

xoxo, Sheridan.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Street Team Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publish Date: November 3rd 2015
Page Amount: 304 pages
Price: $17.99 Hardback
ISBN: 125006645X (ISBN13: 9781250066459)

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Learn more about the book at Goodreads!

About the Author:
Jenn Bennett is the author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series with Pocket and the Roaring 20's historical paranormal romance series with Berkley. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.

LOVE is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings toward this book.

I am a romantic person. I love watching the sappy, romantic movies around the holiday time, where for some odd reason, the girl always ends up getting with the guy of her dreams. While I find these movies sometimes predictable, my heart is lost in each and every one. I guess you could say I always love romantic stories.

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart did not disappoint. Jenn Bennett hooks the reader from the very first page, crafting a story full of suspense, disappointment, heartache, and romance that the reader will never want to end.

To say that I love this book was a definite understatement.

For one, I thought the characters were absolutely flawless. Don't get me wrong, Bex and Jack each have their own very complicated web of problems to sort through, but I instantly connected and bonded with each of these characters.

Bex, or Beatrix, Adams is a teenager who always knew what she wanted to do as a living. Medical drawings and diagrams spoke to her, and she decides to use her God-given talent to pursue her dreams of some day drawing diagrams and pictures for medical textbooks. However, in order to get there, she has to start from somewhere. Her local museum is sponsoring an art competition, in which the winner can receive a $10,000 dollar scholarship to the university of their choice. For Bex's family, this might be one of the only ways that she can go to the university of her dreams. After all, her father's lack of child support is not helping the situation.

Bex meets Jack one night on the way home on the Owl Bus; a transportation that Bex describes as "a form of transportation you don't really want to use unless you have to, or maybe not even then." Jack is mysterious, and his black hoodie, pants and hat don't help his image. But when he drops a can of spray paint on his way off of the bus, this spikes Bex's curiosity.

You know what they say, curiosity kills the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. You will understand what that means when you read the book.

Sadly, I can't say much more about the plot of the book without giving away massive spoilers of the plot. But, what I can say is that the plot is paced perfectly. There was just enough "downtime" and development of the characters between all of the conflicts that I felt like I really got to know Bex and Jack, and to understand some of what they were going through. I really feel like I know these characters personally, like they are my friends.

Like most of the good books that I read, I can also see pieces of these characters in my friends and even my family. I see Bex's passion for making art and following her dreams through my cousin, who is currently attending SCAD university and being one of the best student's that they have. I can also, however, see the terror and anxiety that Jack faces every day through my friends when they are having a rough day, whether it is due to lack of sleep or other stress outside of school. It takes a lot for a book to make me connect examples to my real life, but this book did it seamlessly. I didn't even have to think about it. I could just see my life in these characters. I think that is a very valuable connection.

(Ironically, there is a character named Dr. Sheridan in this book, and I was shocked and also pleased to see that my name was being used in a book, even if the character was not me. Maybe this hRaelped to kickstart the connection, maybe it didn't. But I still thought that was a very fun fact to share.)

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I am very happy that I signed up for the Sunday Street Team for this book and the lovely author!

I do have to say though, that this book does have some sexual elements, especially in the second half of the novel. I am not necessarily as comfortable reading about these things as other teenagers my age (which is okay), but I found this bearable. By that, I mean that when I sensed these scenes and themes coming on, I could skim the pages and even skip them without feeling that I missed a giant piece of the story. But, for this reason, I also will suggest that this YA book is for older readers, and not for the younger readers that YA can appeal to.

I know I have been saying this a lot about all of these books that I have read this year, but I really do think that this book is stellar. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is by far one of the best books I have read this year, and the story will definitely not disappoint any young adult reader. This romantic, fluffy and admirable book is filled with heartbreak, regret and secrets as well, appealing to any kind of reader. This book is real life, and that is truly what I love about it. If you like romance, this book is for you. If you like mystery, this book is for you. If you like books about mental illness, this book is for you. This book is sure to please every reader that stumbles upon his pages, and I really did enjoy the read.

Will you RISE to the challenge and read it?

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Here is the GIVEAWAY! This giveaway is street-team wide, meaning I am not responsible for the distribution of the prize. If you win the giveaway through entering on this blog, and you encounter problems or difficulties, you can feel free to message me and I will pass on your concerns to the appropriate person.

Good luck! :)
A Rafflecopter Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much to Nori and the Sunday Street Team for providing me a digital ARC of this book to review! This does not affect my review of the book in any way, shape or form.