My #Utopiacon2017 Experience

In June, I went to Utopiacon in Nashville, which is a conference for authors, writers, bloggers and readers. I had a blast geeking out over books with my best friend, meeting my favorite authors, and of course, getting my books signed.

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Here’s some of the highlights.

Utopiacon 2017_keynoteAmy Harmon, author of Making Faces and The Bird and the Sword, was the keynote speaker. She encouraged aspiring writers to “be a finisher,” and when it comes to writing, “what you don’t know you’ll figure out.” She also did a reading out of The Bird and the Sword, which was amazing because she has this awesome husky voice. I could have listened to her all day.

I got to meet Jennifer L. Armentrout. (Yes, that JLA, the woman who brought us Katy/Daemon from the Lux series, and my personal favorite Layla/Roth from The Dark Elements trilogy.) She’s one of my favorite authors and I did nothing but fangirl in her presence. (I tried to keep it together guys. I really did.)

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I also saw her speak on a panel regarding hybrid authors. JLA talked about how her best career move was taking a risk and publishing with a small press, and discouraged aspiring writers from saying yes to everything. She commented on how that’s why she’s been working non-stop and putting out so many books. (I’m happy she said yes. #sorrynotsorry). Other authors on the panel had great insight. Shannon Mayer, author of Priceless, encouraged writers to invest in their cover and brand, and Elise Kova, author of The Alchemists of the Loom, talked about changing marketing tactics for each series.

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I saw a lot of other great panels and sat through some readings, which are now my favorite thing. Even if you don’t know anything about an author or their books, sit through a reading. I found some great new books this way.

I got to meet C.J. Redwine, author of The Wish Granter. She was so sweet. During a panel on the pressures in publishing, she said, “If I wouldn’t cry at your funeral, I don’t have to care what you think about me.” I’m pretty sure that’s my new life motto.

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Over the weekend, I bought 12 books, which was quite the book haul!

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I got to meet a lot of authors.

Ginger Scott was so nice. I fangirled about The Hard Count and A Boy Like Me. We talked about the sports romance genre and how we both think that genre should include scenes where the sport is actually played.

Elise Kova seemed so business savvy. I went to her reading of The Alchemists of the Loom and I immediately wanted to read it.

Abbi Glines was quiet, but she signed my book and gave me Rush underwear so I was a happy camper!

Casey Bond was an author I’d never read before, but she spoke so eloquently during a panel, I had to see what she was about.

Amy Harmon was an absolute doll. So nice. I want to give her books a second chance. I think I’ll read The Bird and The Sword since it has some pretty cool magic.

Beth Flynn was such a surprise. I don’t know who was more surprised — me or her. She was shocked that I’d read her books, and I was shocked that this sweet older lady wrote a novel that tore my heart from my body. I joked about needing to join a support group after Nine Minutes, and she jokingly warned me that Out of Time might do me in. She’s pretty much a badass.

Shannon Mayer was another author I hadn’t read before, but I attended her reading and her new series has talking guns…and I was sold from the very first snarky remark. She was also very encouraging when I told her I was an aspiring writer. I kind of want to be her best friend and her Urban Fantasy Rylee Adamson series is next on my TBR.

I didn’t get a picture with Cambria Hebert, but she was fun to talk to, and I got to meet Jasinda Wilder.

The weekend ended with an awards ceremony and a Circus-themed Freakshow Ball. My best friend and I had a great time.

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Overall, Utopiacon 2017 was a success. Unfortunately, this is the final year of the conference, but they did mention a reunion Utopiacon in a few years.

 

 

 

 

Monthly Update, AKA I’m finally crawling out from the rock I’ve been under

The whole month of February flew by and I totally dropped the ball on my blog. I haven’t posted in a while, but I have a perfectly legitimate excuse. I moved, as in, my entire existence had to be boxed up and moved 12 miles down the road to my dream house in the country. Totally worth it; super inconvenient. I haven’t been able to blog or write, but I always make time to read and I’ve devoured some pretty good reads as of late.

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Currently Reading

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The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I finally read The Queen of the Tearling since they are making a movie and Emma Watson (who’s, like, my absolute fav) is starring in it. I totally get it now. This series is awesomesauce and I can’t wait to devour the entire trilogy.

Next on my TBR

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I recently started another highly-recommended series, the Elemental Trilogy, and it’s very, very good. Looking forward to reading this last installment.

What I’m Watching

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With Vampire Diaries in its last season, I need another CW guilty pleasure to hold me over. Riverdale hits the spot.

What I’m Writing

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I haven’t had a chance to get my butt in the chair and write (mostly because said chair was packed and moved), but I have been using the monotonous unpacking time to plot for my current work in progress. Here’s hoping I can translate the plan to the page.

What else? 

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It was my birthday! You know what that means? Books. The top item on my wish list every year. It was nice to add them to the growing stacks that I had to pack up. In fact, I was curious how many books I had in my shelves, so I counted as I packed thinking I had maybe 200 or so. I had 622 books! And yes, it was exhausting to pack them all, not to mention it took forever since I had to reminisce with each one before carefully packing it away.

All I Want for Christmas is…Books!

It’s no secret that my dream Christmas has Santa lugging a heavy-duty sack that can accommodate the significant weight of all the books on my Christmas list. Rudolph and his friends have to do extensive conditioning prior to flying to my house to make it in one trip. I’m confident that I’ve made it to the “Nice” list and I’m ready for Santa to pay up.

Christmas Day is another opportunity to sit next to the fireplace, drink heavily self-medicated egg nog and disappear into the crisp pages of a new novel. Here’s a list of books I’m anticipating from the big man himself.

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Frostblood by Elly Blake

27827203.jpgSeventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

So Santa would have to pull some strings and bring me an ARC to get this on Christmas Day since it doesn’t release until January 10, 2017, but I’ll take a pre-order IOU in my stocking if I must. This YA Fantasy describes a world with fire and frost powers and a king’s tournament. I’m practically drooling on my keyboard in anticipation of this epic sounding story.

Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

27190530The first novel in a sexy new series featuring the hockey players of the Brooklyn Bruisers and the women who win their hearts—from the USA Today bestselling author of the Ivy Years series.

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold…

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast….

As far as I’m concerned Sarina Bowen can do no wrong. I have loved every single one of the stories that she’s published. Even when I wasn’t sure about the premise, she still sucked me in with her masterful writing and unique characters. I’m hoping Santa brings me the entire Brooklyn Bruisers series because I’m a sucker for a Hockey romance and Sarina does it better than anyone else.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

 

 

 

I hear nothing but amazing things about Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series and it’s been on my TBR list for a while. The size of this series is intimidating but my love for fantasy means I won’t give up until I try it. Having it on my shelf brings me one step closer to finally getting around to reading it.

American Queen by Sierra Simone

30314992It starts with a stolen kiss under an English sky, and it ends with a walk down the aisle. It starts with the President sending his best friend to woo me on his behalf, and it ends with my heart split in two. It starts with buried secrets and dangerous desires…and ends with the three of us bound together with a hateful love sharper than any barbed wire.

My name is Greer Galloway, and I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.
This is the story of an American Queen.

 

 

I’m not sure if this is an accurate representation, but American Queen screams the tv show Scandal to me and I can’t wait to devour it’s goodness. It has great reviews and I’m a huge sucker for a love triangle.

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

27015399.jpgCatalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

I’ve had my eye on this Fantasy Romance for a while and I’m always down for an enemies-to-lovers romance. This book has rave reviews and Cat and Griffin sounds so shippable to me.

What about you? What’s on your Christmas list?

Three Year Blogoversary and Resolutions!!

Birthday-cupcakeToday is my three year blogoversary! Note To Selph Book Reviews started three years ago when I made a new year’s resolution to finally start a blog. I can’t believe it’s already been three years! I’ve been MIA recently because of the holidays but I’ve been reading up a storm so be looking for many reviews in the near future.

Last year, I made resolutions for my blog, let’s see how I did.

1. Participate in a book challenge.

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So…I didn’t really accomplish this one. Technically, I could say I completed a To-Be-Read Shelf challenge but I didn’t really try so I consider this resolution a complete and utter failure. However, I don’t think I like the structure and pressure of a challenge. I’m a mood reader so it’s difficult to force myself to read something I’m not in the mood for. Plus, I tend to give books I’m “just not in the mood” for a worse rating, so I don’t try to push it.

2. Attend a book event.

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I attended the UtopYA event in Nashville, which was the BEST EXPERINCE. You can read about it HERE. I met so many new authors and bloggers. I got to meet Sylvia Day! Plus, it inspired me to try writing my own novel which I attempted during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I got 37,000 words written on an epic undertaking that can only be described as the Hunger Games meets the Bachelor with Shifters. (I know, crazy right?) Not sure what I’ll do with it when I’m done but it was sure fun to write!

3. Get more into the blog community.

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Okay, I tried. I didn’t comment nearly as much as I wanted to and I didn’t get to explore as many other blogs, BUT I did start following a few really cool blogs, such as Stephanie’s Book Reviews and Maf’s Crazy Book Life. I trust these two ladies opinions whole-heartedly since we share similar tastes. If they say to read it, I usually do. I also enjoy Tsk, Tsk, What to Read because she always has tons of new book releases with excerpts and I end of buying the book. As always, I have to read my daily dose of book reviews/posts every morning, without them I can’t function.

4. Review More.

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I kind of stayed the same this year. I averaged the same amount of reviews, but I was really bad about binge-reading and forgetting to write reviews and forgetting what I liked/didn’t like about the books, so I’ll try harder in 2015.

5. Host a Giveaway.

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Last year, I hosted a giveaway when I presented last year’s resolutions. CRUSHED IT!

 

This Year’s NEW Resolutions:

1. Keep my Goodreads Updated. I really wanted to put together an end-of-year survey but I couldn’t figure out how many books I actually read and I couldn’t keep track of what I read but didn’t review. For an organized person, my reading habits are very unorganized, which really doesn’t make sense because my actual bookshelves are organized not only by genre but by author and whether they’ve been read or not. I want to update Goodreads so I know what books I’ve read.

2. Update my blog. I am not as tech savvy as I wish I was, but I really want to update my blog at some point. It just takes so much time to do the research and figure out how to actually do it. Let me know if you have any tips!!

3. Review More. I want to review every book I read. It doesn’t have to be a full-size review but it would be nice to remember what I actually thought of the books.

4. Apply for more ARCs. It makes my day when I receive an ARC (especially if it’s a physical copy). I want to have that feeling more often. It’s always awesome to read the book before it’s officially published. I’m going to do my best to prowl NetGalley for books I’m interested in reading.

5. Post more Discussion Posts. I LOVE to talk about books, so I’m hoping to discuss my various bookish problems/habits when the mood strikes. I’m thinking of starting a monthly/bi-monthly discussion post, but I struggle with juggling my time with Grad School and work.

There you have it! If you are reading this, THANK YOU SO MUCH. It means the world to me that people read my blog. I’m always looking for fellow book lover friends so feel free to leave a comment or hit me up on twitter! (@notetoselphbook)rdj_thanks