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{Blog Tour} Vassa In The Night by Sarah

vassa-in-the-night-blog-evite-768x768I’m thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for Vassa In The Night by Sarah Porter. I first heard about Vassa In The Night at the Raincoast fall preview earlier this year, and I was immediately interested. It’s based on the classic Russian folktale Vassilissa The Beautiful. and sounded incredibly cool.

Here is a bit more about the book:

22065080In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

The author, Sarah Porter, also teaches creative writing to students in New York. She lives in Brooklyn and has published several other novels in a similar magical realism style. When asked about her writing routine, she said the following:

What does your writing routine look like? Do you have a favorite location to write?

Hi Jessica! I write every day, unless there’s some pressing reason why I can’t. I usually deal with emails and such in the morning, when my focus isn’t great anyway, and really settle in to write around noon, for anywhere from three to twelve hours. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful study, so I always write at home unless I’m traveling.

My Review-

You’ve heard all about what the book is about, and learned more about the author, so it only makes sense for me to share my opinion on VASSA IN THE NIGHT now.

So, what did I think?

To put it simply, VASSA IN THE NIGHT was spectacular. It would easily fall within the best dozen or so books I’ve read so far this year. I tend to enjoy magical realism novels to begin with, so I knew that VASSA IN THE NIGHT and I would get along well.

The world that VASSA IN THE NIGHT is set in was unlike anything I’d read before. At first, it appears just like modern-day Brooklyn, but then BYs is introduced. Baba Yaggs’ is the local 24/7 supermarket. At first, it seems just like any other shop, except for its unique habit of beheading the shoplifters. Vassa knows that BYs is to be avoided at all costs, until her sister dares her to go out there in the middle of the night.

What starts out as a simple shopping trip quickly turns into something so much more, and it’s up to Vassa to save her neighbourhood–and herself–from Baba Yaggs. With such a unique premise, it isn’t surprising that I felt drawn to it. The author’s writing is lyrical, and brings the world vividly to life. Although it was based on Vassilissa The Beautiful, VASSA IN THE NIGHT has the atmosphere and writing style of a fairy tale itself.

Although I really enjoyed the story world, I started out disliking Vassa. She seemed stubborn and brash, but her personality eventually grew on me and I started to root for her as the story developed.

If you’re looking for a dark, lyrical read and love fairy-tale retellings or magical realism, then you absolutely need to get your hands on VASSA IN THE NIGHT.

Get your copy at Amazon, Indigo, or Barnes & Noble now.

Let’s Talk: Which Books Are Currently On My TBR?


Firstly, can we talk about school? I’m seeing lots of my american blogger friends wrapping up and getting ready for summer vacation, and I’m so envious of you all! I’ve still got another month to prep before exams.

This second semester has been hectic, and I haven’t been able to post on the blog as much as I want to. I’m thinking that summer vacation will be much more relaxed, but I’m hoping to get a few posts up here between now and the end of school.

To start off, I want to talk about some of the really amazing books that I’ve received or purchased lately. Here’s a sample that I put up on my Instagram:

A photo posted by Jessica (@bookishserendipity) on

Needless to say, I’ve gotten some absolutely AMAZING books and I want to showcase some of the books on my TBR pile.

1. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

afierceandsubtlepoisonEveryone knows the legends about the cursed girl–Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers–and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

Okay, how original and awesome does this sound? I heard about it late last year and I just got it in the mail last week as well. It’s about a mythical girl whose touch can supposedly kill and the son of a hotel developer in Puerto Rico. With an electrifying premise like that, I honestly can’t help but be ridiculously excited to see how it is.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison is the author’s debut novel and from the reviews I’ve read, the writing is absolutely enchanting. I need to read this ASAP!

2. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

ladymidnightIn a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

Okay, full confession: I’m totally obsessed with the Shadowhunter world. I haven’t completely finished reading the series, but I’m working on it, and I love, love, love the world that Cassandra Clare has created.

I picked up a sampler of Lady Midnight at BEA last year, WAY before the actual release date, and read it, despite not usually being a fan of samplers. I’m really excited to learn more about Emma, since she’s a new character. I actually purchased Lady Midnight back in March, but haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet.

3. Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

assassinsheartIn the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

Assassin’s Heart was an impulse purchase at Indigo. I had heard of it before, thought it was interesting, but only ended up picking it up because I saw it on the shelf the day I popped into the bookstore.

I actually didn’t know what it was actually about before buying, except that it was about assassins (clearly!). Still, that’s enough for me, and I’m excited to read it.

4. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

blackheartsBlackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Ahh, how amazing does this sound? I included this book on my Most Anticipated Of 2016 list earlier this year, and I pre-ordered it right away (two copies, actually!)

Then I fell into a reading slump, and I still haven’t read it.

I hope I get to read it this month, but it really does sound amazing.

Those are a few books that I’m hoping to read this month!

I do have a few days off, plus weekends, so I definitely expect that I’ll be able to get through them. I’m reading The Dark Days Club right now, and then I want to get started on this TBR pile!

What books are currently on your TBR pile?

{Guest Post} Why Movie Adaptations Don’t Bother Me


Hey, guys! I know I’ve been pretty absent on the blog (but I’m still hanging out on Twitter!), but today I’ve got a really great guest post. I met Lauren @ Shooting Stars Mag a while ago, and she is such a lovely and friendly blogger. You can check out Shooting Stars Mag by clicking here, or her other website, Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance, here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

For now, let’s get on with the post!

Why Book Adaptations Don’t Bother Me

As a book lover, you would probably think that I get nervous or antsy when it comes to book adaptations.


To be honest, there are a select few movies where I read the book first, but regardless, movie adaptations don’t really bother me in general. I’m always saying “they are separate things.” Yes, the movie is based on the book but that doesn’t mean the movie is going to be exactly the same. If you want that, listen to the audiobook! It’s almost the best of both worlds. But for me, I just like seeing how the movie is on its own.
I grew up reading and loving the Harry Potter books, so I was excited for every single movie. I started going to the midnight premieres after a while too. I think the HP movies are actually really well done and they tend to keep a lot of the same aspects of the book. That doesn’t mean I don’t hear complaints though. People don’t like casting, they don’t like that certain characters or moments were taken out (Peeves the Poltergeist, anyone?). And while I might understand or even agree on a certain level, I get that the movies have to condense so much into a film. They can’t include everything or we’d be there for hours and hours. That might sound okay for us book lovers, but the average movie goer would probably hate the HP films if each one was four or so hours long!
I think it’s good to be self-aware and know if you can handle a movie adaptation or not. If you love a book but aren’t sure about the movie, it’s okay not to see it…or wait until later. Of course, the earlier you see a film, the better it will do in theaters and then you might get more movies, if the book is part of a series. That’s something you have to think about though. It doesn’t make you less of a fan to skip the movie, or even hate the movie. But you should still understand that people will like the movie, whether they read the book or not. Changes can suck, I get that, but sometimes they can be good or they just don’t really matter. It’s never going to be the book anyway, right?
However, I’m not always easy-going about all changes. For example, I read and loved My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and I was excited to see the film. If anyone knows the book and movie, then you know that the ending is drastically changed. I won’t spoil you, but let’s just say that the end of the book kind of makes the book for a lot of people. To have it changed so much really didn’t sit well with me. Was it a good film otherwise? Yes, it was, but I can still be upset by the ending. Overall though, I don’t mind changes. I just want the spirit of the book, when it comes down to it.
What do you think? Do movie adaptations bother you? What’s your favorite?

Meet The Newbies: Interview With Isabel Bandeira!

Meet The Newbies is all about introducing and celebrating the debut authors of 2015 across the book blogosphere through interviews, giveaways, and fun events! If you want to learn more, you can read the introductory post here.

I have the pleasure of featuring Isabel Bandeira, the author of Bookishly Ever After, which sounds absolutely incredibly. Today, I’ll be featuring Isabel, interviewing her, and talking ALL about her book.

Firstly, let’s meet Isabel

Isabel Bandeira grew up surrounded by trees and lakes in Southern New Jersey, right on the edge of the Pine Barrens. Her summers were always spent in Portugal, where the cathedrals, castles, and ancient tombs only fed her fairy tale obsession. Between all those influences and her serious glitter addiction, it wasn’t a surprise when she started writing stories of her own.

In her free time between writing and her day job as a Mechanical Engineer who designs and develops medical devices, she reads, dances, figure skates, and knits.

Isabel lives in New Jersey with her little black cat, too many books, and a closetful of vintage hats. She is represented by Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson. BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER is her debut novel.

Find her on Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest,Twitter or at her website.

On to the interview!

Bookishly Ever After sounds so wonderful, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Next, we’ve got a quick and fun interview with Isabel!

1. Describe Bookishly Ever After in 5 words.

Book nerd are the best.

2. What’s the “story behind the story?” What inspired you to write BEA?

Bookishly started as a short story I wrote for a yearly no-kiss blog hop. I decided to write a scene about a bookish girl channeling her favorite heroines while trying to impress a boy she liked. There was a camp I went to when I was a teen and they had this horrible two-rope bridge over a muddy stream, so I decided to force this bookish character to cross that bridge to get to the boy. After finishing that scene, I couldn’t get the characters out of my head.

Then, I went to the Eastern PA SCBWI Poconos retreat, where I was given the prompt “Your character falls in love at first sight” in a workshop. The little scene I wrote about Phoebe in that workshop became part of the first chapter of Bookishly Ever After.

3. What has your favorite part of being a debut author been?

Holding my book for the first time (or rather, holding my book for about two seconds before my 1.5 year old niece grabbed it and ran away, making me chase her before she destroyed one of my few ARCs… the video is pretty hilarious to watch. I would have been happy crying if I wasn’t laughing so hard). It didn’t feel real until that moment.

Favorite moment #2 was signing a very beat up/loved copy of the book for a friend’s daughter. It was amazing to know this book was read, tossed in backpacks and lockers, and enjoyed. That time, I actually did happy cry!

4. Did you always want to be an author? What made you start writing?

Yes. My mom still has copies of the “books” I made when I was old enough to hold a crayon. I’ve always loved books and stories and I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t wanted to make my own. There was a period of time after high school when I thought it was impossible, but after meeting some of my favorite (modern) authors a few years ago, I decided it was time to stop only writing fanfiction/simm RPG posts/short stories to be shelved and try to write in my own worlds again.

5. If you could put your character in any other 2016 YA novel, which would you choose and why?

Phoebe has a special love for Paranormal and Fantasy YA so it’s a toss up between Tobie Easton’s EMERGE (mer people!!!! Feebs would be over the MOON) and Evelyn Skye’s THE CROWN’S GAME (Russia! Enchanters… a MASKED BALL. Just that last one would be enough to make Phoebe one happy bookworm. Just.. don’t ask her to fight anyone to the death).

Doesn’t that sound amazing? I’m so glad Isabel could stop by today, and I am crazy excited to get my hands on a copy of Bookishly Ever After. How perfect does it sound?

More About Bookishly Ever After

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably one filled with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.

Everything changes when Phoebe learns that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her. So, Phoebe turns to the heroines in her favorite books for advice on a personality overhaul. Becoming as awesome as her book characters isn’t as easy as it sounds and when another girl nets Dev for herself right from under Phoebe’s nose, she’s crushed.

Then, to up the suckage, she gets assigned as his co-counselor at a sixth grade camp and has to spend an entire week tied to the hip with the one guy on the planet she wanted to avoid. Can she make it through the potential danger of romantic bonfires and nature walks without Dev figuring out she’s still not over him, or will her counseling career end in emotional disaster? Can she ever go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

You can also buy it on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and the Book Depository.

Thanks so much to Isabel for stopping by today! You can also enter a giveaway to win a copy of any of the books featured in MTN by clicking here.

How To Come Up With Blog Post Ideas When Your Brain Feels Broken

blogideasUs bloggers tend to go through spurts of inspiration. At least I know I do! There are some weeks where I’m just bursting with new ideas, and other times I spend hours just staring at the blank screen, cursor blinking. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a lack of blog post ideas (okay, there are a FEW things more frustrating, but that’s a conversation for another day).

A lack of ideas is so not fun, especially when you actually have time to write something for your blog, but you just can’t think of what to say. This has happened to me so many times.

So what do you do when you’ve exhausted all the normal routes for coming up with ideas?

Here are 5 ways to come up with blog post ideas when you brain feels broken:

1. Survey your readers

Your readers are the best place to get new blog post ideas. They can provide you with feedback that you might not have learned on your own. On my other blog, I typically run a survey once a year to gather feedback from my readers and the responses I get are invaluable.

When you are running a blog survey to gather blog post ideas, here are a few questions you might want to ask:

  • Which types of posts do you find the most valuable?
  • What is your favorite blog post on the blog?
  • What are you currently struggling with/ want to learn?
  • Which types of content do you want to see less of?

These are all questions that will help you figure out what your readers are looking for, and help you figure out what type of content you should create more of in the future. You can even ask your readers to give suggestions or prompts for future blog posts, and you can build up a stash of blog post ideas for the future.

2. Repurpose old content

Chances are that there is tons of great old content from the early days of your blog that very few people have read. If you scroll through your archives, you will probably find some really great post that went unnoticed simply because your blog didn’t have as wide as audience as it does now.

A way to create new content is to find old content, tweak it, and post it for all of your current readers to see. You’ll probably remember how frustrating it was to spend hours on a post, and only get a couple views on it. By repurposing old content, you can get new posts up on the blog for your readers and not waste time trying to come up with ideas.


3. Look For Trends

What are the hot topics in your niche right now? Trends are a great way to find inspiration for a new blog post and draw traffic to your blog at the same time. When you are trying to figure out what the current trends are, try this:

  • Look for trending hashtags on Twitter
  • Read established publications in your niche. What events or topics are they talking about a lot?
  • See which search terms are increasingly leading people to your blog.
  • See what key influencers are talking about in your niche.
  • What type of content is being shared on social media the most?

Trends are great inspiration for blog posts. You can talk about the trend, write a pros or cons list about the topic, or share your opinion (and more!).

4. Think Of Possible Spin-Offs Of Current Posts

Go to your blog dashboard and check out your stats. What is your most popular blog post? Maybe it is a post you wrote about why you love being a fashion blogger. Now think about how you could possibly write a spin-off of that post. In the example outlined above, you could possibly do the totally opposite of that post and write about all the negative parts of being a fashion blogger.

Spin-offs of popular posts are great because you already know that the new post will be a hit, just based on how popular the original was.

5. Use The Funnel Strategy

Maybe you don’t have an exact idea for a blog post, but you probably have a rough idea of what topics you’d like to write about. For me, I can narrow the list down to a few topics, like running a blog, managing social media, earning money from your blog, and growing your tribe online. That’s more specific than just “blogging,” but it isn’t quite specific enough.

From there, I use this funnel formula:

General Topic > More Specific Topic > Identify A Problem > Solve The Problem > Hook

Here’s how that might look for this post:

Blogging > Creating Content > Not Having Ideas > finding ideas > How to come up with ideas when your brain feels broken.

Do you see how it slowly progresses from general to more and more specific? That’s what you should be aiming for. I want you to pick one area that you blog about and test out this funnel method to create a solid blog post idea.

Here’s my challenge to you.

These are all strategies that I use to come up with blog post ideas for Bookish Serendipity and my other blog. I challenge you to try out each of these methods and come up with one blog post idea for each method. That’s 5 new blog post ideas right there! Pretty cool, right?

How do you do when you are struggling to come up with blog post ideas?

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