Wednesday, January 11, 2017

4 Bookish + Blogging Goals for 2017

Happy New Year, friends! I can't believe it's already the beginning of another year ... time is going by too quickly. I always feel like I have so much to do, rushing from one thing to the next. This year, I want to slow down and BREATHE. It's okay if I don't complete every single thing on my to-do list. It's okay if I skip a day of reading. It's okay if I need to potato. (More on that later.) To keep things simple, I've decided to only focus on four goals. I hope to include updates during each seasonal recap in the future!

This year, I would like to ...

Average one book a week, not including comics/graphic novels.
This one is a stretch, especially since I only read 36 books in 2016. (I worked full-time for almost the entire year, so finding time to read was tough.) However, I really want to challenge myself this year. Instead of being a potato all the time, I want to reach for a book. Note: there is NOTHING wrong with being a potato. In fact, I highly recommend it on days you are burnt out. I potato'ed yesterday night and I'm feeling extra energized today. Being a potato is exactly why this post made it to your screen today :)

Start a new feature or two on this blog!
I've had a lot of ideas tucked away in my little brain, but following through with any of them has been difficult. It'll take hours of planning but I know it will stretch my creativity, and that is something I need this year.

Tidy up this blog.
I'VE SAID IT. I know amarisafloria is a total mess — my "reviews" list isn't updated, my "about" page is outdated, and my features don't have a main hub. I have neglected my place on the internet for a long time. Now to figure out where to start ...

Fulfill the #RockMyTBR and POPSUGAR reading challenges.
I am committing to two challenges this year! It's a little strange since I decided to stay away from challenges in 2016, but my reading habits didn't change. So this year, I'm going big. Kinda.

For me, the purpose of the #RockMyTBR challenge, hosted by Sarah K. at The Book Traveler, will be to lower the amount of books I own but have not read. There are currently 211 unread books on my shelf (I KNOW ... I AM SO EMBARRASSED) and my goal is to read 61 books. This means that I want my TBR pile (TBR meaning "to be read") to be no more than 150 books by 2018. One day, it will be zero. Hopefully. But for now, I will be happy with 150!

To spice things up a tiny bit, I am pairing the books I own with a corresponding task in the POPSUGAR reading challenge. If you're interested in seeing my possible picks, they're on a separate page HERE. For my list of unread books, clicking this part of the sentence will take you there! Please take a peek and help me pair some books with this challenge! And let me know if you want to buddy read something, I would love to chat and fangirl alongside you :)


Two bookish and two blogging goals. If I have too many things going on, I get overwhelmed and will fall back into old habits. Here's to staying motivated and keeping the laziness far, far away!
What is something you hope to accomplish this year? On a scale from 1-10, how good are you at following through with the goals you make? Which books are you hoping to get to in 2017?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

53 Books Releasing in January 2017

I am a total nerd when it comes to keeping track of new books and their release dates, so I thought I'd share my full list with you all in hopes that you will find a new book or two to read or look forward to!

My plan is to release each month's list by the 15th of the previous month — for example, the February 2017 edition will be posted by January 15th. (I'm a little late with this month's, but I didn't actually decide to do this until a couple of days ago. If you've been around here for a little while now, you might remember I tried to do something called "Up & Coming." It didn't work out. So I hope this DOES!)

Things to keep in mind:
  • To order a book on Amazon, click on the cover (note: they're affiliate links!)
  • To add a book to your Goodreads page / read the synopsis, click on the title link.
  • All titles in italics are sequels.
  • Most of the titles shared below are categorized under Young Adult, but there are a couple of crime fiction reads. This list isn't meant to be exclusive, so if you know of any other titles — please let me know! (See next bullet point for more details.) I just don't know where to look for books outside the genre I read.
  • If you would like to add your book(s) below or in any of my future "releases" posts, please email me at or leave a comment.
  • All research/images/dates/etc. are gathered via Amazon, Edelweiss, and Goodreads.

January 1

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books)

January 3

Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Delacorte Press)
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser (Feiwel & Friends)
The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
Flower by Shea Olsen and Elizabeth Craft (Harlequin Teen)
Freeks by Amanda Hocking (St. Martin's Griffin)
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (Sourcebooks Fire)
Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (Bloomsbury USA Childrens)
Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano (Entangled: Teen)
Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff (Amulet Books)
The Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Corthron (Simon Pulse)
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (Clarion Books)
Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (Disney-Hyperion)
Whenever I'm With You by Lydia Sharp (Scholastic Press)

January 10

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova (Keymaster Press)
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Del Rey)
Beheld by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen)
Frostblood by Elly Blake (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (William Morrow)
The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett (Tor Teen)
A List of Cages by Robin Roe (Disney-Hyperion)
Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields (Random House Books for Young Readers)
A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn (Berkley)
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (Gallery/Scout Press)
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard (Amulet Books)
The Silver Gate by Kristin Bailey (Katherine Tegan Books)
Windwitch by Susan Dennard (Tor Teen)
You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando (Swoon Reads)

January 17

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)
Feversong by Karen Marie Moning (Delecorte Press)
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Soho Teen)
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt (St. Martin's Griffin)

January 24

After the Fall by Kate Hart [Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)]
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (Katherine Tegen Books)
City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Younger Readers)
The Girl Before by JP Delaney (Ballantine Books)
The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

January 31

Blood of Wonderland by Colleen Oakes (HarperTeen)
By Your Side by Kasie West (HarperTeen)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Flatiron Books)
The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim (Scholastic Press)
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder (MIRA)
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (Bloomsbury USA Childrens)
Exo by Fonda Lee (Scholastic Press)
Long Way Home by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen)
Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (Harlequin Teen)
Silver Stars by Michael Grant (Katherine Tegen Books)
Wait for Me by Caroline Leech (HarperTeen)
Wires and Nerve: Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer, art by Doug Holgate (Feiwel & Friends)

Monday, November 28, 2016

In a Dark, Dark Wood + The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

After reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I finally realized my love for psychological thrillers and crime fiction. (I like to think I've adopted it from my mom — you see, all she watches are crime dramas. Criminal Minds, Bones, even Murder, She Wrote and COLUMBO. You name the episode, she's seen it!) There's just something about separating lies from the truth, piecing together the facts, and finally getting to the big reveal/plot twist that is incredibly satisfying.

Ruth Ware was one of the first mystery authors on my radar and surprisingly, I started (and finished) both of her books within one month. That says a lot about her, because I never read two books in a row by the same author. As you'll notice in a little bit, Ware writes about women who are invited to special events and get trapped in sticky situations.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on Ware's published novels: In a Dark, Dark Wood (her debut) and The Woman in Cabin 10.


Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (Simon & Schuster)
Rating: 3 stars

If you're looking for something to zoom through in one sitting, look no further. In a Dark, Dark Wood will pull you in from the very beginning, so don't start this before you go to bed. Unless you want to go to work/school with fatigue.

In a Dark, Dark Wood follows Leonora Shaw, a writer who rarely leaves home. That is, until she receives an unexpected invitation to a friend's hen (bachelorette) party — in the woods. But that's the least of her concerns, because why would a friend she hasn't seen in a decade want to spend a weekend with her?

Ware begins this story with Leonora in a hospital bed, not asking "what happened?" but "what have I done?" And that is what'll keep your mind moving. Each chapter reveals just enough to leave readers wanting more, and wanting to figure out the mystery behind why Leonora can't remember her weekend.

Although In a Dark, Dark Wood is driven by plot, Ware's characters did not go uncared for. Each of them was distinguishable and had such different personalities. While trying to pinpoint who was "good" or "bad," I had so much trouble — each of the bachelorette partygoers seemed suspicious to me!

It's such a quick and atmospheric read, but I do admit that the reason for it all was really ridiculous. I will not go into details, as that's for you to discover if you please. All I will say is that I felt slightly underwhelmed in the end. However, if you are interested, don't let me hold you back from reading In a Dark, Dark Wood. It is somewhat predictable, but entertaining at least.

Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (Simon & Schuster)
Rating: 3.5 stars

Similar to In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10 also follows a lady writer — this time, a travel journalist named Lo Blacklock who is offered the trip of a lifetime, a chance to see the northern lights aboard a new luxury cruise ship called the Aurora. She hopes to spend her time relaxing and recovering from a recent incident, but everything flips upside down after hearing, on her first night, a woman being thrown overboard next door. After alerting the security, she finds out that no one is missing and the ship sails on as if nothing ever happened ...

The Woman in Cabin 10 is a much slower read compared to In a Dark, Dark Wood, but more thoughtful in plot. Meeting every single character on the boat pulled me away from the story, and following Lo around while she takes on the challenge of finding the culprit/s herself was monotonous. On multiple occasions, I found myself thinking, "when do we get MORE?"

I felt like some of Ware's "clues" did not fit the bigger picture, which made the story a bit confusing and harder to guess the mystery behind it all. However, I do think her story telling in this sophomore novel improved.

The nice thing about Ware's novels is that they aren't TOO creepy. In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 won't give you nightmares, but will definitely keep you on your toes.

According to Goodreads, Ware will have a new book titled The Lying Game in June 2017 — but I haven't been able to find any supporting articles.

Have you read either of Ruth Ware's novels yet, or will you?
What new genre/s have you been gravitating toward recently?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Fall Reading List of 2016

Fall (or rather, AUTUMN, because it sounds fancier) is my favorite season. I just love the idea of reading under a comfy blanket and drinking a nice cup of tea. But it's quite hard to imagine that now, especially since it was in the nineties yesterday! And lemme tell you, it never gets that hot until summer starts saying goodbye. *Insert that one emoji where the eyes are looking up*

Knowing myself, I'd be lucky if I read five of these. I really think it could happen this time around though, especially since I'm a lot more picky about what I read now. If you're planning on reading any of these, please tell me! And maybe we can do a buddy read or something :)

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I've been getting into psychological thrillers recently! While this one has been buzzing for quite some time now, I haven't wanted to read it until I accidentally watched the trailer. This storyline is INTENSE, and there's just something about a mysterious disappearance that entices me.

2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
This one is slightly embarrassing, considering the fact that I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. Even if it's just a long list of magical creatures, I still want to learn about them!

3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I'll be honest, I have little interest in reading this aside from the fact that I want to see the movie. I don't think it's the kind of genre I enjoy, but I hope I'll be surprised anyway! Seems like a perfect fit to match this season.

4. Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin // November 1st
I've already spoken about this book in my most anticipated releases post, so you probably already know I BEEN ready to read this one. If you're following this duology: do you think I'll need to read Iron to Iron (the novella) before diving into Blood for Blood?

5. Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra // September 20th
Another "girl goes missing" story, but what makes this one interesting is that it's told in the perspective of the person who takes over the missing girl's life. I've heard it's fast-paced, but I don't want to know anything else because it's a psychological thriller. (Surprise! Another PT I want to read!)

6. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff // October 18th
Yes, another book I mentioned earlier this year. For good reason, I promise. It was intense (as I keep saying ... I'm like a broken record, really) and I am dying to know what happens!!!

7. When I Don't Desire God by John Piper
In picking this book, I want to challenge myself to think about what I believe in, what joy really is, and what I can do, as the title says, when I don't desire God. Maybe it's a book I'll be able to share about on this blog when I finish!

8. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
This book has been on my radar for almost a year now, and I'm not quite sure why I haven't picked it up yet. I'm planning to read this for the #OwnVoices October read-a-thon (watch this video if you're interested!) but I'm actually not sure why it's considered "own voices" ... perhaps Heilig is from Hawaii?

9. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I've realized just recently that while I am Asian American, I rarely read anything with PoC characters. Not that being Asian American means I should, but reading about characters like me is something I support. I've heard only good things about Ng's debut novel, and it'll be an "out-of-comfort" read for me, as I don't read literary fiction often (if at all ...)

10. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
I can't imagine being in the right sort of mood to read this one, so I don't know if I'll actually pick it up this autumn. But it's on this list because I *hope* to get to it soon. I want to learn about her experience in North Korea/China and how it shaped her to become the person she is today.

What's on your reading list this fall?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Summer 2016 Recap — Getting my driver's license, Songs from Waitress, and other things that happened this summer

This was an unusual summer. Last summer was my first summer out of school, and I interned in New York City so it FELT like a vacation. But this summer was the same as spring — I worked during the week and went out on some weekends, nothing special. I don't love summer as much as I used to when I was in school, which makes sense because it doesn't mean "a break from school" anymore. But not loving summer doesn't equal hating summer. In fact, I'm happy that I was able to do new things (go strawberry picking, try a new Thai restaurant, celebrate an engagement, etc.) But I am even happier now that autumn is arriving :)

  • Bay Area Book Festival — Joseph was very sweet to suggest spending our first Saturday in June at this event. We went to the panel titled "A Sense of Place: Writing Where We Live (and Lived)" and met Stacey Lee after!
  • My family and I rarely travel together, so it was really nice to take a weekend trip to Monterey this summer. We didn't get to visit the aquarium there, but we DID visit Point Lobos and see sea lions! Just being together is enough for me.
  • I took Joseph to watch/listen to Ratatouille at the San Francisco Symphony in July — the perfect combination since he loves the orchestra and Disney. (Ratatouille is actually his favorite Disney movie!) There's nothing like hearing movie music played live, it was a good experience!
  • I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST, finally! It was my first time trying, but driving is so scary. I still have anxiety doing it but I'm happy that's over and done with. Now my family and friends can stop bugging me about it :p
  • I celebrated my 24th birthday in August with three of my good girlfriends, and it was good just being with them. Joseph took me to Bouchon Bakery the weekend before (to celebrate) and we played a lot of Pokemon Go. I'll be honest, I'm not too invested in that game ... but I was very excited after taking over a gym!

Books and pages read in June, July and August: 10 // 2,827 pages
Books and pages read in 2016: 32 // 9,964 pages

I still have three or four more short stories to read in Summer Days and Summer Nights, an anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins, which I can't seem to get myself to read. I've also returned A Tyranny of Petticoats (edited by Jessica Spotswood) to the library ... I think I need to stay away from anthologies for the time being.

  • I totally forgot to photograph Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda, but you've probably seen it already. And if you haven't, I *should* be sharing the spine in an upcoming post :)
  • I still haven't read Cress (by Marissa Meyer) but I still felt the need to buy Stars Above, the ending novellas. I guess having a 20% off B&N coupon helps my case. Maybe.
  • Like I mentioned earlier, Stacey Lee was at the Bay Area Book Festival so I had to get Outrun the Moon, her newest young adult novel. I've since read + reviewed it in my mini reviews post last month and really liked it. It's perfect for younger readers (middle grade age) and those looking for an accurate representation of Chinese culture.
  • Scored Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson for less than $5 at Half Price Books, but I'm not ready to cry my eyes out :(
  • This was supposed to be a stack of books I bought from Book Outlet, but I left out Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle and added Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Good job, self. Other books pictured: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, and The Bitter Kingdom, the final book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson.
  • I had no idea Jen Wilkin wrote another book earlier this year, so I got None Like Him with a gift card that one of my very sweet friends, Stephanie, gave me for my birthday. (Thank you, girl!!!) I also purchased When I Don't Desire God by John Piper because I think the man is an excellent theologian. I haven't heard anyone talk about this one though, but I trust that it's good.

  • What's Inside: Songs from Waitress by Sara Bareilles — I had this album saved on my Spotify from ages ago, but for some reason I didn't listen to it until this summer. (C'mon, past Amaris ... WHAT ARE YOU DOING.) Sara did an amazing job with these songs, and I really think this set deserved to win the "Best Score" award. Too bad it was competing against Hamilton. My favorites: What's Inside, When He Sees Me, She Used to be Mine, and Lulu's Pie Song :)
  • I flew through the first season of Jane the Virgin at the end of July and you guys, it is SO dramatic and funny. CW is killin' it with all these excellent shows. My only problem with JtV = there's a love triangle. My poor heart can't take it ...
  • Psychological fiction — This started out after I watched Ex Machina, a sci-fi/psychological thriller about a programmer who is given the chance to develop an AI with his CEO. (Great movie, by the way.) Now I just want to read all the books that'll mess with my mind. This also explains why I read Gone Girl :p
  • Grant Gustin's "CW EYES" — YOU'RE WELCOME!
Did you read anything this summer that ended up on your FAVORITES list or take any trips outside of your normal living area? Do you have any recommendations for good psychological fiction? 
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