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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ARC {DNF}

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ARC {DNF}

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles #1)
Published by Disney Hyperion on Feb. 20th, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 512 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Belles from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ARC {DNF}

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ARC {DNF}

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Published by Flatiron Books on Sept. 5th, 2017
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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rozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Girls Made of Snow and Glass from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

I’ve been being so picky with my reads lately that I have a number of DNF’s that I’d like to talk about. Remember that DNF is my default, so if I’m not absolutely loving a book, I won’t finish it. Therefore this doesn’t AT ALL mean this isn’t a good book that could probably have gotten 3 stars from me if I forced myself to keep going.

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What if DNF was your default option?

Book Discussion

DNF as Your Default

I have an idea for you all and I hope you hear me out before the shouts of “Blasphemy!” start up ;-). I know a lot of us struggle with marking a book DNF (‘did not finish’), especially if you’ve already invested a fair amount of time into it. I definitely do.

I’ve realized there is a murky place in between “I love this book and can’t put it down” and “I hate this book so much that I have no problem putting it down.” That murky place often leads us to finishing books that we knew were only okay all along, when we could have been reading something that we loved.

In my hunt for a first book for my not so secret project, I’ve been doing something new: starting every possible book with the intention of stopping after the first chapter or two. Certainly, some books could get markedly better later on, but for this project, I want to find the books that grab you from the first page anyway. A side effect of this method of winnowing possible books is that I’ve found the ones that I’m heart-broken to stop reading. I’ve filtered out the ones that are in that murky space between love and hate. I feel no pull to continue them after the first two chapters, and that makes it clear they aren’t the book I’m looking for in this moment and that they probably would be one of those books that I struggle through and end up rating 3-stars or lower.

We always say that life is too short for books you don’t enjoy reading. We have given ourselves permission to stop reading a book we don’t like. But that still means that a book has to be bad enough to make you set it aside and mark it a dreaded DNF. What if, instead, we switch the direction the decision needs to go. What if instead of needing to decide to DNF, we make that the default option — and therefore easier to do — and make continuing the option that requires deliberate action.

There are so many amazing books out there to read, why spend a moment more reading something that doesn’t inspire you? That doesn’t remind you why you absolutely love reading? Think about how many first chapters you can try in the time it took you to read the last ‘only okay’ book you read. You could have found an unexpected favorite instead of finishing a book you celebrated being done with. Doesn’t that sound better?

Sure, maybe you’ll pick up one of those discontinued books in the future when it calls to you again. You’ll have read the first chapter, so you’ll have a good idea what sort of mood the book would work for and will likely like it better then anyway! There’s nothing wrong with having an arsenal of first chapters to help you pick a mood book.

Now, I do here you calling, “But what about review books??” And I understand your worry. It obviously depends on why you review books — what your goal is in reviewing books — but if your goal is to help your readers find books that they will want to read, you have at least two options: 1) you could do mini or first chapter reviews for ones that don’t inspire you to keep reading (similar to my Just Hatched, though I encourage you to come up with your own way of doing it!) or 2) you could make sure you try those books that are less-hyped and likely to have been overlooked by many of your readers. I personally would prefer reading a review for a book I hadn’t heard much about, but the blogger loved, than a review of an ‘only okay’ book.

Obviously negative reviews can be very useful too, so if you want to push through every book you have for review consideration so that you can outline the negatives and positives, go for it! A negative or ambivalent review of a super-hyped book is something I seem to specialize in at times and can be exceedingly useful. However, I think that that should still be a deliberate decision that you make: ‘I’m continuing this book even though it isn’t compelling me to do so, specifically so that I can write a comprehensive review about it.’ Really, it’s all about making deliberate and thoughtful decisions about what you read instead of reading the equivalent of potato chips because they are there on the coffee table.

So what do you say? Do you want to be able to sample more books and only read the ones you can’t live without? Then let’s do it! Instead of feeling bad about DNF’ing a book and making that the less likely event, let’s embrace trying lots of first chapters and finding those unexpected but amazing reads. I know I’ve personally already found two books that I likely wouldn’t have had time to read before, but now suspect will be new favorites and I can’t wait to share one with you all ;-).

What do you think? Is this a mindset you might try out? Do you feel you have to try to finish every book you start?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -Anya

Updates from the Lair 7/27/14

Updates from the Lair

Updates from the Lair is my weekly wrap-up post that includes what happened in my real life, what I’ve been reading, my posts from the week, and what I’m thinking about reading next week (and would love your advice on!). 

Whew, I’m back from three weeks straight of traveling. I got back into town on Wednesday and went to a doctor’s appointment on Thursday for my back which was a bit depressing: I need another MRI because my EMG returned abnormal nerve responses in both legs and I need to go to another specialist an hour away for a surgery consultation. It sounds like I’m still a baffling case and my neurosurgeon doesn’t want to do anything until he is confident about what is actually going on (which is for the best really, ha). Since my back problems are apparently going to take much longer to fix than I planned, I’m refusing to continue sitting around and waiting to get better! I bought a FitBit and am going to start trying for 10k steps a day, but mostly just as many as I can depending on the day ;-). If you are on FitBit, please let me know so we can be friends, I love the community features so I want to join up with as many book friends as I can :D.

On another fun change note, I finally joined Instagram a few weeks ago mostly because of Pabkins wonderful FanArtUp feature ;-). If you’re on Instagram and I haven’t found you yet, let me know! I’m finding that it is a great place to post more frequent updates about what I’m reading and adding to my shelf, but also more of the personal life stuff that some of you have asked for ;-). So if you’ve ever wanted to know more about the mysterious girl behind the dragon, here is your chance!

My Week

Storm SirenMy main read this week has been Storm Siren! I would have finished it instantly if I had had time this week, but I’ve been even carrying the physical ARC in my purse to sneak in more reading time. The magic is wonderful and the world hints at a whole amazing depth. As long as the book and series delivers on the hints, I’m freaking thrilled. Also I absolutely need the hardcover since the map is a bit fuzzy in the ARC and I really want to see all the details >.>. Pre-order this book YA epic fantasy fans!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated FairylandI got The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making from the library finally and have read the first few chapters ;-). I realized that my brain wasn’t quite in shape for following all the intricate writing, so I’m taking it slow until I can get caught up on sleep, ha. But I adore the classic sort of middle grade where the character is young but the writing is very high level and beautiful!

AllegiantI have only be meh about this series, but I was determined to try to finish with Allegiant and had it downloaded on audiobook so I started that on my drive on Friday. And decided to DNF as soon as my drive was over. I’m so sorry to all the fans, but I really just wanted to know what was beyond the fence and then things got so anti-science and illogical that I couldn’t handle it. I also already know the BIG THING that happens, so I’m just not motivated to go any further. The one thing that could convince me is if there is a way better explanation of why the factions and serums were created after the first explanation, but it sounds like there isn’t? Feel free to email me to discuss this if you’d like to try to sway me ;-).

And in case you missed it, these were my posts this week:

Reports from Other Lairs

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