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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

In It For The LOLS. . . | Audible Ambassadors [ad]

As any of you who have been following (or participating in!) the #30DayBookBinge will know, I've been getting in a lot of audibook time while I garden this month. Yes, yes, I took my own advice -- shocking, I know.

And I've come to realize something -- the audiobooks that win me over, that I tend to reach for, that I'm most excited about -- now, right here and right now -- are all really freaking funny.



They can be funny in different ways, from the dry yet absurd The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to the off-beat and zany  Yes Please, or even the sorta-sexy-but-also-really-damn-funny Austentatious, which I've talked about before.  It can be hard to lure me into audiobooks sometimes, because I am very picky about narrators and voices and pacing and all kinds of other things that I can use as excuses. But a good, funny narrator? Well, then it really doesn't much matter what the story is, tbh.

If it's funny enough to make me forget I'm weeding my garden or doing my dishes (my god, how I loathe doing dishes...), then I'm in. And if makes me inelegantly laugh-snort, then all the better. I like an audiobook -- and a narrator -- that makes me feel light, that makes me feel happy, that makes me feel like I'm listening to an old friend. . .

That said, I know there's a whole big world of audiobooks and experiences out there that I should really be dipping my toes into. Some of you have recommended books in the past that were fantastical and mythological, because hearing the language and pronunciation helped transport you to the world (an experience which my listening of Exquisite Captive validates). I know others who love a good scary audiobook, because the around-the-campfire vibes help send the shivers down their spines.

So my question to you is: what type of story or narrator helps transport you when you listen to audiobooks? Or more importantly, which really, really excellent ones do you recommend I try?!

And if you're curious to try any of the books I mentioned (or any of the many other riotously funny audiobooks out there), remember, you can get the book of your choice, absolutely free!! as part of a FREE 30-DAY TRIAL TO AUDIBLE. So. . . take advantage of that.
(Seriously. Take my advice sooner than I take my advice. I am an audiobook convert, and I could kick myself for not have embraced them sooner.)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

#30DayBookBinge, Week Two | Vlog

So after much hair-pulling and some delay, the "magical disappearing vlog" that I had to redo is finally ready! (And please, for the love of jeebus, if there are any issues or weirdness or audio-level offness, just ignore it. This vlog was about to be the death of me. *insert unimpressed emoji*)

ANYWHO, I hope everyone's #30DayBookBinge is going FANTASTIC! After an iffy start to week 2, mine has really picked up, and I'm starting to feel like I'm back in the groove of things! Now, lemme go find some wood to knock on...



MENTIONED:
Conjured
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A Face Like Glass
Words in Deep Blue
Flinch
Yes Please
A Darker Shade of Magic
Weird Books Review Trio
Words in Deep Blue review
More of the binge


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Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.
Music: Riot "Safety Net" and "Jupiter One"
Silent Partner "Soul Search"
Jimmy Fontanez "Salgre" all from the YT creator library

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Trio of Weird Books | #30DayBookBinge REVIEW

I mean... there's a definite theme to the books I've been reading for the #30DayBookBinge...
Also: outdoor reviews! In public! With bugs! (blech)



(I would normally have made a nice, shiny thumbnail for this video, but I was very amused by the way I was nuzzling Conjured, so...)

THE BOOKS:

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
(audio narrated by Stephen Fry)

Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together, this dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!


A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare. They create wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned. Only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear — at a price.

Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed ...


Also mentioned WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley -- Review here!


Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though one of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All opinions are honest and my own, and all bugs are cuddly and not trying to eat my face (or so they claim).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley | Review

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Contemporary, 288 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published in Australia, August 30th 2016)

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

I don't know what has taken me so long to read more by Cath Crowley. Way back when, shortly after I first started blogging, I reviewed Crowley's A Little Wanting Song, making it among the very first review books ever sent to me, what?! Even more shocking is that I requested it. ME, request a contemporary book. I know, shocking.

Even more shocking was how much I loved it. Or maybe not shocking at all, because Cath Crowley is just really, really good at what she does. So much of what I said then applies here, today, with Crowley's most recent book, Words in Deep Blue. It features that same seemingly-effortless writing (I say "seemingly" because I know it wasn't; nothing good ever is) and characters who seem real and flawed and thoroughly engaging. Her writing flows, it just pulls you along in this inviting, seamless way, so that when you only intend to sit down and read a chapter or two, you suddenly find yourself having read half the book, and realizing that you probably should have gone to bed hours ago -- but hey, you're in this deep, why stop now? But unlike a lot of unputdownable writing, it's not "potato chip writing;" it's not junk food for your brain that is just easy and throwaway and utterly garbage but so fun you just can't put it down. Crowley's writing has substance and heart and those painful gut-punches that make you wish you could put it down to just process and be less hurt for a minute, but damned if you don't just have to keep reading.

All of that said, this is told in alternating POVs -- Rachel and Henry -- and I expect some people will be very frustrated with Henry and how slow on the uptake he can be. But honestly, this quality felt very realistic to me. Not to malign teenage boys, but they're not known for being the most emotionally aware / attuned creatures on the planet, and a depiction of a boy who thinks he's in love with the pretty, vivacious, popular girl who's using him is not the most unrealistic idea, or even the most revolutionary trope -- and that's probably for a reason. I think we've all known Henrys* at some point in our lives. Hell, nearly every viewer-insert MPDG-chasing teen/20-something male lead of cutesy-but-"deepish" romance or comedy movies of the last 25 years has been a Henry on at least some level. (But this Henry is much better, realer, and far less nauseating than those Henrys.)

And honestly, even if you're not the biggest fan of teens and their romancifulness, there is so much more to this book than that.  For all the truly heartbreaking and frustratingly real elements in the book, there is such a hopeful, life-affirming thread. . .  Frankly, it was goddamn refreshing. I think I needed this book in some ways, and I think a lot of teens (and those who read books written for them) will find things they connect with and 'need' in Crowley's story, too. And though it deals with heavy things like grief and depression and family turmoil, it never feels weighted down by it. Nor does it feel too light or dismissive of these heavy things. It just feels honest. And it's worth reading for the amazingness that is the Letter Library, alone. ALL book lovers will long to go there, I would lay good Monopoly money on it.  It's going to inspire a lot of wistful reader-sighs. . .

And it once again reminded me that not all contemporary is fluffy or cheesy, Misty, nor is it all saccharine and faux-deep trauma porn; there is some really good stuff out there and you should read more of it, for the love of all things bookish.
But since I was saying essentially the same thing in my A Little Wanting Song review, well. . . I clearly don't learn too quickly, or take my own advice.

But you should! And you should read this, it's really quick, really readable, and really good.


* There was a debate on twitter about the proper way to pluralize Henry -- Henrys or Henries. Both make me borderline uncomfortable with how wrong they look, but  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  It was also discussed whether I planned to verb the name Henry as well, and I think I'm going to do so now. "To Henry" is to interact with someone in a thoroughly charming, adorably passionate, and uncommonly clueless way, utterly unaware of your own needs and desires as you somehow manage to nevertheless bumble through to the perfectly right outcome. Should you find yourself Henrying in life. . . well, don't worry, it'll all turn out for the best.

Also, I used "nor" twice in this, who even am I?

Alsooooooo, can we talk about how much I love the Australian cover?  I mean, both are gorgeous, but that paper bird tho! *swoon*



Disclosure: WORDS IN DEEP BLUE was sent to my by the awesome people at Random House for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest, and my own.

Friday, June 9, 2017

My #30DayBookBinge Vloggage -- Week One Down!

The #30DayBookBinge is off and running, and here's how my first week of this impromptu challenge went!
Big props to everyone who's participating and has been tweeting & updating on Twitter, or challenging themselves to really push their reading this month. You guys are killing it!

ICYMI:
More about the challenge can be found here, and the printables can be downloaded, saved and/or printed, here.





Music: Otis McDonald "Not for Nothing" and Riot "Jupiter One," both from the YT creator library.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#30DayBookBinge Reading Log!

Hey, all!

Just a quick note to encourage you all to join the #30DayBookBinge (if you haven't already), and to let you know that I made a reading log printable (for those of you who already have joined, and want a way to track what you're reading).

I made it roomy, so you can make it work for you, which means you'll need multiple pages to track each day -- print as many as you need! Or, if you'd rather have everything on one page, feel free to make your own simple tracker, bujo style, with whatever info you'd personally like to track!

It looks a little something like this:

and I'm sorry it's up a week into the binge! Just didn't think of it soon enough.
You can download it -- and all of the other #30DayBookBinge printables -- here.

I also have at least one other printable coming (probably multiple) that will give you more of a chance to get artsy and stretch your creativity muscles, so. . . keep an eye out for that, it's almost done!

Hope everyone's having a good month of reading!

And if there's some kind of printable you'd like to see, let me know in the comments!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Book Haul (plus ADORABLE KITTENS OMG)

Special appearance by some very cute kitties, so... you're welcome.
Also, I'm purple again. (yay!)

Let me know your recommendations in the comments; I'm compiling a list...




THE BOOKS:
Foxmask
Something Rotten
The Well of Lost Plots
In the Woods
The Orchardist
The Assassin's Blade
Eden Summer
Berserker
The Innocence Treatment
The Equals
Ally
The Wicker King
Renegades sampler
First Second sampler


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Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though some of these books (as mentioned) were sent to me for honest review consideration.
Thanks, Fierce Reads team!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

#30DayBookBinge Printables!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I want to undertake a bit of a challenge to myself, to discover a bunch of new worlds, and rediscover why I loved books so much in the first place. To do this, I've decided to challenge myself to read every day in June -- and I invited you guys to join me!

And you -- you lovely, sweet, amazing bookish people, you -- were so on board. So many of you were not only game, but were eager and enthusiastic about the whole idea, and I love you for it. That level of enthusiasm is definitely going to come in handy around the 20-day mark, when it's almost midnight and we realize we haven't read anything for the day, and dammit, it's gonna happen!

You were also enthusiastic about the idea of printables, which frankly, meant I had to make some printables. Couldn't shrug this one off and say, 'next time, guys!'...
Which I'm glad of, because even though they're a little bit of a pain, I also really dug the process of making them! (And look, here they are, two days early!)


They feature hand-lettering (as you might expect from me) in a loose (hopefully) fun, (hopefully) legible style, to keep things light and cazh this month, and right now, there are seven of them.  You're free to use them or not as you see fit. Save them, print them, use only the pages you think you need, make your own -- it's totally up to you.

For now, you'll find a calendar (which you can use to check off days, track what you read, reward yourself with stickers, keep track of when you'll be busy and will have to work to fit in reading time... You know, calendar stuff.); 5 weekly pages (because of those pesky half-weeks), where you can again, track what you read or notes you want to make, plus some fave quotes!; and a wrap-up sheet, to tally up your month of book bingeing and reflect on the awesomeness.

But in the works are some other fun things that will be coming throughout the month, because I've decided (because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment) I want to give you some hand-sketched, and maaaaybe watercolored ones as well.
So keep an eye out for that.
You can download the complete set, to save and/or to print (your choice!) here.

Now, because so many of you were enthusiastic, and because I think buddy reading is a big helper and push, I'd like to do a few activities, like reading sprints and mini-challenges, peppered throughout the month. But my internetting is very limited these days, so I'll need your help!
If anyone would like to host a mini-challenge or run a reading sprint spree on Twitter (or anything else!), please email me and let me know! We can chat ideas and figure out what works and all that jazz, but really, nothing needs to be too complicated. You're readers of the internet, you know the drill.
[As for the emailing itself, I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able (again, limited internetting. Should help with the reading, though, in theory...)]

But whether you just want to casually read and communicate with no one, or you want to jump in with both feet and become a Book Binge slave err... helper, I hope you all have a wonderful month of reading, however much you can, whenever you can, and that it's all page-turning amazing.

The book binge starts in one day, people, so get your book stacks ready!

Monday, May 29, 2017

The #30DayBookBinge Challenge -- Join Me!

I'm going to read every damn day in June. I'M DETERMINED.
Join me! #30BookBinge

I was inspired by Dylan's video from late last year (others have done this, too, of course!)

The blog post (with printables, if you're into that sort of thing) goes live on the 1st, can be found here!



Friday, May 26, 2017

The "CBR" Pile

Because who needs a TBR when you can't seem to get through what you're already reading?

Help me break my funk! What do you do to get yourself back into a happy reading habit, or to make yourself fall in love with books again when you've sort of fallen out?

Also, recommend me things! What one book, hyped or not, should I add to my list for the "fated books" video/series?



BOOKS MENTIONED:
A Face Like Glass
Words in Deep Blue
Wolf, vol 2
Yes Please
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
S-Town
Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Beautiful Broken Girls



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Warm Days & Determination | An #AudibleAmbassadors Discussion [spon]

After talking about it for months, I've finally begun listening to Amy Poehler's Yes Please. I'm not sure what it is, because with everything that's going on in the world, you'd think I'd want a fantastical distraction, but I'm really craving non-fiction at the moment. Especially memoirs. (And also, the S-Town podcast. My god, is that ever addicting!) Maybe it's just a desire to be in someone else's head, someone real, and see that it's not a bad place, that the whole world isn't a bad place right now.

(To be fair, I've also been sampling some other audiobooks that are in the humorous range, like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so maybe I do need some humor in my life.)

(Also, funny side note, though: I held a poll on Twitter recently to let people choose what type of book I'd read next. The choices were fantasy (which won (of course); I'm reading this), a random ARC, something specifically recommended to me, and non-fiction. Non-fiction got not one single vote. Not one, you guys. Look, non-fic isn't all dry, doom and gloom books about war or the economy. There's a lot of good, fascinating non-fic of all types out there, truly something for everybody. Expand your reading horizons, y'all!)

((Parentheses on parentheses on parentheses. I am a parentheses wizard.))

ANYWAY, I've been listening to Yes Please, which I'd talked about a million times, and put off a million more. I think I've touched on my out of sight, out of mind relationship with books -- no matter how good it is, if it's not a physical book that can be looking me in the face, getting in my way, clamoring to be read, I will forget I'm reading it. Oh, I'll remember eventually, and go back to that ebook or audiobook or web comic, or what have you. But days will pass without me reading anything, and I'll even find myself searching for something new to read before it'll hit me, 'oh yeah...I'm totally in the middle of another book that I was actually liking, I should go finish that...'  *insert unimpressed with self emoji*

Partly, I think this is habit. I have a lot of physical books (as you know), and for so long, I'd used audiobooks and ebooks so infrequently that I forget they're there. But as I'm getting more in the habit of taking in stories in new ways, I'm falling more and more in love with the fact that we have things like audiobooks and ebooks to round out our reading habits. I've been reading comics on my phone at night (thank you, hoopla), and I've been listening to audio of one form or another during the day ( as mentioned, Yes Please, S-Town, Hitchhiker's Guide...the format may change, but my sudden bookish ADD is showing no signs of abating...).

But what I've always known, but am starting to really realize* is that, yes, audiobooks are really great to have around when you're ~doing things~. I know they say that multi-taskers actually get less done, but what do they know, anyway? When I'm not procrastinating, I'm a tried and true multi-tasker (...maybe the procrastination has something to do with the multi-tasking. I dunno.), but I've never really multi-tasked when it comes to books. And sometimes that has kept me from reading: I want to read this, but I need to do that.  And though I've said that audiobooks are great for listening AND doing, and that my first time listening to a story, I was actually looking for house chores to do. LOOKING FOR THEM. I almost shudder at the memory, but the book made the dishes downright pleasant.

So I know these things. I know that audiobooks make work pass faster, and I know they help me to 'read' when I don't otherwise have time to...but I know it in the way that we know we should go to the gym and floss more -- doesn't mean I'm gonna always take my own advice.

And look, my harvesting hands have already been busy!
But I was in the garden a couple weeks ago, doing to backbreaking early work of prepping the soil, and it hit me: why the hell am I not listening to an audiobook right now? WHY HAVEN'T I BEEN LISTENING TO AUDIOBOOKS THIS WHOLE TIME? Come the warm months, I spend half my life in the garden, happily picking yummy things, and less-happily weeding, and some telling a story into my ears at the same time would make the whole experience even better.

So. That is my goal this year: see how many pounds of YUM I can pull out of my garden, and how my pages (or hours) of AWESOME I can "read" at the same time.

It makes my multi-tasking heart very happy.

So recommend me some of your favorite listenables! And if you want to try your hand at the can't-stop-won't-stop-(reading) multi-tasker's life, you can get your hands on your very own FREE audiobook of your choice with a FREE 30-day trial from Audible! It can be anything, anything at all; they have it all.**



*Kylie was wrong, y'all. 20seventeen is the year of realizing, not 20sixteen. So close, Kylie!

**I mean, they have it most. "All" is not a legally-binding statement on the behalf of Audible. But I'm telling you guys -- they have it all. ;)


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Recent Comic Reads | Review

There was a little more of a delay on this video than I had hoped, but hey: that means more books! Here are some of the comics and graphic novels I've read recently, and my thoughts on them. I've had a few more that were such duds, I didn't even bother finishing them, so... I need all your best comic/graphic novel recommendations, please!

And let me know your requests and ideas for the next/future BOOK CHAT videos!



THE BOOKS:
Spill Zone
NewsPrints
Saga, vol 7
Bitch Planet
Kindred
Wolf, vol 1
The Discipline

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Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video; none of these books were PR samples except for SPILL ZONE, which was sent to me for review consideration. All thoughts and opinions are honest, and my own. (Clearly, since there was a fair amount of negative here...)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

APRIL BOOK HAUL 2017 (of course)

Because I can't stop myself, apparently...




THE BOOKS:
Mary Barton
The Book Without Words
Hush
Seven Deadlies
The Heartless Troll
The Name of the Blade
The Castle Behind Thorns
Mortal Heart
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
Longbourn
Spill Zone
A Face Like Glass
Noteworthy
Prisoner of War
Dark Breaks the Dawn
and some baking & gardening books, and a random Reader's Digest condensed book, because it's pretty, and I want to make something out of it.



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though some of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Timely and Terrifying -- The Handmaid's Tale (and then some) | Audible Ambassadors

It's the strangest thing.

Last month, I recommended The Handmaid's Tale as one of my top picks for a Women's History Month listenable, and it turns out that it's actually the focus of this month's Audible Ambassadors post!

The timing is not completely unexpected, of course, since the Hulu adaptation is premiering later this month (and yes, I am very eager for it. Might actually have to sign up for Hulu again. Or maybe I'm due for a free trial. . . ;P).

Whether in conjunction with this, or in some strange cosmic timing because the book is still so eerily relevant (maybe now more than ever), Audible has reissued a remastered and redeveloped special edition of the audiobook, narrated by the fabulous Claire Danes, which includes new exclusive content written by Atwood at the end of the novel!

From the brief from Audible:
The novel extends beyond the original final line, “Are there any questions?,” by adding the questions and answers that the people at that Symposium, occurring in 2195, might ask.
This is pretty significant stuff, if you ask me. That ambiguous, open-ended ending haunted me when I first read it, and I often use it as a sort of litmus test for whether someone is an optimist or pessimist. . . As it turns out, I'm a can't-make-up-my-mindest, because I go back and forth quite a bit on what I think really happened -- but before I get to spoiling things, maybe you have never heard of this landmark book, and have no idea what I'm talking about.
So, the official stuff:

Publisher's Summary 
"Are there any questions?" The final line in Margaret Atwood's modern classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has teased and perplexed fans since the book's original release more than 30 years ago. Now, in this Audible Original production, listeners get some of the answers they've waited so long to hear.
Featuring an all-new interview with Professor Piexoto, written by Atwood and performed by a full cast, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition is a must-listen for both fans and newcomers alike. Emmy Award winner Claire Danes (Homeland, Temple Grandin) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, where the message (and the warning) is now more timely than ever. In addition to rich sound design that honors the audio origins of Atwood's classic, the special edition also includes a brand-new afterword from the author and an essay written by author Valerie Martin (Mary Reilly, Property).
After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.
Whether you're a fan of the original novel or someone who has recently discovered it, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition will shock, impress, and satisfy all those who listen. 
The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition features performances by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, Emily Bauer, Allyson Johnson, Gabra Zackman, Suzanne Toren, Tim Gerard Reynolds, Jennifer Van Dyck, Ray Porter, Emily Cox, Lauren Fortgang, Dan Reiss, Prentice Onayemi, Therese Plummer, and Mark Boyett. 
©1985 O.W. Toad, Ltd. First American Edition 1986. Published by special arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

And trust me, it's a book you want to read. Or listen to.

Now of course, you don't have to choose The Handmaid's Tale as your selection in order to take advantage of Audible's free 30-day trial -- you can choose whichever amazingly narrated audiobook is calling to your heart and ears. (Feel free to browse around. There's a lot of them.)

But I'd definitely like to put in a good word for this one. It's one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors, narrated by an amazingly talented actress, and has special bonus content -- you just can't beat that.




This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.  The opinions and text are all mine. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Four on the Fence | Mini-Reviews

By (surprisingly) popular demand, today we're looking at my thoughts on my most recent reads. I guess it has been awhile since we've had a review 'round these parts, huh?

THOUGHTS ON ALL THE THINGS:





ABOUT THE BOOKS:



Renowned fantasy writer Robin McKinley, author of the lush "Beauty and the Beast" retellings Beauty and Rose Daughter, has produced another re-mastered fairy tale, this time about the dreamy Sleeping Beauty. Much like in the original story, the infant princess, here named Rosie, is cursed by an evil fairy to die on her 21st birthday by pricking her finger on a spindle. That same day, Rosie is whisked away into hiding by a peasant fairy who raises her and conceals her royal identity. From that point on, McKinley's plot and characterization become wildly inventive. She imagines Rosie growing up into a strapping young woman who despises her golden hair, prefers leather breeches to ball gowns, and can communicate with animals. And on that fateful birthday, with no help from a prince, Rosie saves herself and her entire sleeping village from destruction, although she pays a realistic price. In a final master stroke, McKinley cleverly takes creative license when the spell-breaking kiss (made famous in "Sleeping Beauty") comes from a surprising source and is bestowed upon the character least expected.



The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.






Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...





“I plead the blood.”
Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely Cattle Ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society—a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship—won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who’s behaving like they’re old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals—but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.






Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though some of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All opinions are honest and my own.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THREE AWESOME THINGS

Hey, would you look at this? An actual written post.

I know, I know, it's been mostly vlog-central here for all of 2017 (and a good chunk of 2016), and I do intend to correct that and get back into actually writing some of the things for you. (Not all of the things. But some of the things.)
But time and an aching wrist are not my friends.

But I DID want to pop on quickly to tell you about three amazing bookish programs going on right now, that should be on every bookish person's radar.

THING THE FIRST

Macmillan & National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang have challenged us to Read without Walls, a project aimed at helping us broaden our horizons and see things from other people's perspectives, and embrace the diversity of literature and points of view that are out there.
You can find some of the specific challenges here, or listen to Gene intro the project here:


Pretty neato.

I've been intending to put together a post of my own picks and suggestions, but... time. And an aching wrist.
I'll let you know when it comes to be.

THING THE SECOND

Penguin Random House is hosting #ProjectReadathon, in which readers can stop by their "Read Well" website, read selections from books right then and there, and have the satisfaction of doing good, dammit.
From now until World Book Day (April 23rd), when you read on their site, up to 300,000 books will be given to Save the Children, based on visits and minutes read. So you can read for free, and feel really good doing it -- but you gotta hurry, because it ends this weekend!
They have tons of books to read from, so. . .  go check 'em out!



THING THE THIRD

Speaking of free reads, Audiofile's Sync Audiobook campaign is about to kick off its 2017 season! If you're unfamiliar, this is an audiobook program that is aimed at getting teens to read (or listen) to more (and varied) books -- but who says it has to be limited to teens? Encourage the kids and teens in your life to take advantage of this awesome program, and while you're at it, get you some new reads to discuss with them!  (I won't tell.)
Every year, starting in late April and running through the bulk of the summer, they will be giving away free downloads to themed pairs of books every single week.
Titled include Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Of Beast and Beauty, Shadows on the Moon, Between Shades of Grey -- basically a ton of books that will be teen-friendly, but also appealing to most readers, combined with a second book, often non-fiction, that relates in some way to that week's title.

You can check out the full list of titles, and sign up for email reminders, on their dedicated website -- but remember, each title is only open for downloads for one week, so make sure to come back each Thursday when new titles drop!


And that's it for these three awesome campaigns that I thought you should know about. Know of any other cool bookish things that I should know about? Spread the word and let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#BOOKTUBE CHALLENGE: Book Spine Poetry for Nat'l Poetry Month!

Yep, that's right. I challenge YOU.
Anyone can do this -- even if they have to make use of someone *else's* books... You could even just make a list of the titles with plain ol' pen and paper, if you want!
For more examples, or to see how my brain works, you can find more of my book spine poetry in these posts.




For moreAnd you My book spine poem:

The last thing you said, words in deep blue --
the ask, and the answer;
nothing can possibly go wrong. . .
Love you.
Hate you.

Miss you.



[Books used: one  two  three  four  five]

Sunday, April 9, 2017

MARCH BOOK HAUL

I'd hang my head in shame, but... it's currently being propped up by a stack of books... ;)

YOU KNOW HOW I DO.



The Books:
Murder on the Eiffel Tower (from my mom)

Labyrinth Lost
NewsPrints
and a cute Cinder pouch,  all courtesy of Liz @ Consumed By Books
(and I was right, the pouch is from Evie Seo's shop)

The Last Thing You Said
The Inconceivable Life of Quinn
Words in Deep Blue
Girl on the Verge

My Blind Fancy book box, which included
Unwind
Girl in Translation
and a bunch of goodies, the unboxing of which you can see here

and a hand full of gardening and hand lettering books.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

UNBOXING: Blind Fancy Book Box!

Who's ready for a blind date?
I'm unboxing a new book box today, and I'm kinda in love with the idea of it!
Coupla side notes here, before we get into all the official deets:

* YES, I realize that the necklace is Hermione's wand. Shoulda used my eyeballs. ^_^

* Sorry for any shaky cam, my cat was insisting on being part of filming...

* And if you wanna try your hand at my Blind Date with a Book game while you wait for your Blind Fancy box to arrive, you can find that video here!






ABOUT THE BOX:
Blind Fancy offers you a perfectly personalized, subscription-free, blind date with a book! A quick quiz will match you with a MatchMaker who has the inside scoop on the genres that you love best!
Boxes come in two sizes, First Date and Double Date (I'm showing you the Double Date option), and it is a buy-as-you-go box, meaning you do NOT have to sign up for a recurring subscription! Feel like trying out a blind date book? Then you can do so, whenever you want, with whichever matchmaker you'd like!

And I hear through the grapevine that international shipping will be available soon!

Find out more or try out a box yourself, here: http://www.findyourfancy.xyz/

Use code BOOKTUBE2 for a discount on your box purchase!



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though this box was sent to me for review. I do NOT make a commission through use of the discount code, so if you're opposed to that sorta thing, no worries! Use it and save you some moola.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Women's History Month Listenables | Audible Ambassadors, March [ad]

It's a brand new month -- a brand new season, even (my favorite!) -- and it's time for a brand new post from my Audible series! This month, in honor of Women's History Month, I thought we'd take a look at some of the many great audiobooks on theme this month, many of which are either on my own to-read list, or are personal favorites.
Check out some of my picks below, and leave me your suggestions in the comments!


If you're really wanting to dive into the whole "Women's History Month" thing, you might want to check out some of the hallmarks: explorations of feminism and gender, like the classic The Feminine Mystique, or this collection of essays from Gloria Steinem (or anything else by her, obviously), or more modern examinations, like Roxanne Gay's popular Bad Feminism, or Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman. Or maybe you're interested in general non-fiction that's not necessarily of a feminist slant, but is just plain intriguing, like America's Women, a look at 400 years worth of lives and changes in what it means to be an American woman.

But of course, there are as many ways to approach Women's History Month reading as there are days in Women's History Month (and I'm sure, many more).

Maybe you're interested in amazing works of literature by women -- there's a whole host of classics written by women, but I'm going to recommend my personal favorites: those written by Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, L.M. Montgomery, and of course, my beloved Jane Austen.
How could you go wrong with any of them?
Or maybe more recent classics interest you, like the popular (Claire Danes' narrated!) The Handmaid's Tale (a personal favorite, although it's always felt a little too potentially real for comfort...), or basically anything by Margaret Atwood (she's a fave!) or Toni Morrison (ditto!) I don't hesitate to call the works of either author classics, no matter how recent.

If you're more interested in something a little out of the box, maybe something like The Supergirls -- a look at fashion, feminism and more, through the lens of comic book heroines! -- might appeal to you? Or the audio of Hidden Figures, the box office-smashing story of the black, female mathematicians who helped launch us into space.

As for myself, you can probably guess some of the books on my own to-read (or listen to) list: Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking has been drawing my eyes to its spot on my shelves for a couple of years now, and the idea of reading it while listening to Amanda narrate it is pretty damn appealing. And of course, I've mentioned numerous times that Amy Poehler's Yes Please is on my to-listen list, and her buddy Tina Fey's Boysspants is right there with it. I'm also pretty curious about Anna Kendrick's Scrappy Little Nobody, so I guess I'm in a 'funny female celeb memoirs' type of mood. . .  (So maybe Talking as Fast as I Can or The Princess Diarist would also fit the bill!)

So. What's on YOUR Women's History Month list? Did you read or listen to anything special this month, or are you planning to? I know we're close to the end of the month now, but honestly... it's never too late for one of these potentially excellent reads/listens!

Leave your recommendations, faves, and own to-be-read list in the comments! I'd love to hear it.

And remember, if you're interested in any of the books I mentioned, you can try one of them out, absolutely free, as part of a FREE 30-day trial from Audible! Sweet!




This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.
Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bullet Journal Walkthrough: 2017 Q1

For those of you here for bookish things, there *are* some bookish pages shown in this walkthrough! (And I'll be back with a purely bookish video soon.)
For the rest of you, I thought we'd take another tour into BuJo land with a look at the first quarter of 2017, and what I liked and didn't like about my bullet journal so far.

I'm thinking about making an ongoing series about bullet journaling and all that goes along with (including lettering turorials, for those that have been asking!), so if you have requests for the series, let me know in the comments!

If you missed the last one, you can find out more about how I approach bullet journaling here!

Monday, March 13, 2017

FEBRUARY BOOK HAUL!

So I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: if you wanna keep up with me, what I'm up to, and the books I'm currently reading or have taken in, you probably wanna follow me on youtube, and probably twitter or instagram. Because for whatever reason, I keep forgetting that, OH HEY, I'm a  blogger. I've seriously uploaded 3 videos on youtube in the last month or so that never made it over here, and I don't know why.

I have no excuse. I fully mean to share them with you, and then for some reason, I just don't. (I just had a birthday, and I had a friend who told me after she attained a similar age, her mind just went away, so maybe it's that...)

ANYWAY, here's the most recent of said videos, and yes, of course it's a book haul.
I don't know who I was kidding.

I'll [try to remember to] post those remaining videos soon, but if you can't wait to see them, or you're just super bored... --------->  >click<



THE BOOKS:
Yellowcake
Night Broken
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
Perfume
The Bonesetter's Daughter
The Art of Chalk Lettering
Washed Ashore


Let me know your thoughts on the books, if you want to see more from any of them, and all that jazz in the comments!


Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video. One of these books was sent to me by the publisher, the rest I bought myself. Affiliate links are used.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Second Chances & Surprises | Audible Ambassador #ad


Hey there! I have some exciting news to share with you, and that is that I've become an Audible Ambassador! That means that once a month, I'll be delving into the world of audiobooks and taking a look at some of the things that make them such a worthwhile addition to your reading routine!
This month, in honor of awards season, we're taking a look at the way audiobook performances can add so much to a story, and which specific audiobooks have had an impact on me.

I'm sure some of you know, my road to audio was a long and bumpy one. I was always enamored with the idea of audiobooks, and wanted to like them, but for the longest time, I just couldn't get into them. I struggled with not being able to see the words before me -- just listening to someone talk meant that, if my mind started to wander (as it does apparently more than I realized...), I couldn't just glance back down and find my spot again. I also struggled with the narration. I already know that I'm very particular about the voices I'm willing to listen to for any extended period (introvert here -- sometimes I just need the voices to shut up), but even beyond that, I was worried that listening to a book cut down on room for my own interpretation; it was someone else's inflection, someone else's stresses and significance. And after a run of bad narration that I struggled to follow or enjoy, I was pretty convinced that audiobooks were not for me.

I'm not sure what convinced me to give them one last try, but whatever it was, I'm glad of it. I don't even remember the name of the next audiobook I listened to, and I honestly couldn't say if the story was all that great, because I don't remember. But the narration! The narration was hilarious and warm and soothing and inviting, all at the same time, and not only did it pull me along and keep me "reading" something I may not have otherwise, it had me actually actively looking for chores to do so that I could keep listening. That is impressive.


Since then, I've stumbled across a number of other audiobooks that have gone beyond just being good versions, to actually adding another layer to the story. Alyssa Goodnight's Austentatious, narrated by Janine Hegarty, took Alyssa's hilarious magical realist take on modern day Jane Austen, and dialed it up a few sassy, funny notches. And something that I thought was going to get to me (one person trying to do different "voices" for each character) actually proved to be one of the book's strongest points!
Similarly, Erin Mallon's narration of Heather Demetrios' Exquisite Captive added layers that I don't think I would have gotten had I just read the book traditionally. Beyond getting to hear how words in this middle eastern-inspired fantasy world are pronounced, the audio just felt so much more . . . immersive. I listened to it while commuting, and again, just didn't want my stop to come up. I was wishing for a longer commute, just like I was looking for chores to do. I didn't want my time with the narration to end.
(And just recently, during the YABT Awards, when I had to read The Wrath & the Dawn / The Rose & the Dagger, everyone kept telling me that they were so much better on audio! So it can clearly make a big difference!)

And I've just barely begun to scratch the surface of the audiobook world!

I know there's plenty more killer narration to be had on Audible (they have an entire section devoted to star-powered listens, after all), and I'm looking forward to digging into it! I know everyone seems to love and recommend the Jim Dale narration of the Harry Potter series, so trust me, it's on my list. (And if you're into the whole "awards season" thing, they even have audiobooks of some of this year's top noms, like Hidden Figures or Lion.)

So, what are some of YOUR favorite audiobooks and/or narrators? And did you ever have an audiobook "aha" moment, where it just clicked as a medium, or made you want to find chores to do, or extend your workout routine, or any other drudgery? ;)

And if you haven't had that aha moment. . . maybe it's time to give audiobooks a second chance? You can start your FREE 30-day trial to audible today, and check out one of the books I've mentioned, or something you've been dying to read!



DISCLAIMER
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

JANUARY BOOK HAUL

I mean... book hauls forever, I guess? I certainly can't seem to stop...
;)




THE BOOKS:
Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea
Umberland
The Wonder of Us
Bitch Planet, vol 1
Of Fire and Stars
and a whole bunch of awesome stuff, from Liz



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though some of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Stack of Five: Fairy Tale-esque! | VIEWER'S CHOICE

Stack of Five is back, and we're kicking it off with a stack filled with (mostly) my go-to genre: fantastical, transportive fairy tales!
Find the books linked below, and the synopses in the comments, and then vote for which one you want me to read and review this month!

You can vote 3 ways:
* Comment with which book you want me to read!
* Upvote the synopsis for the book you want me to read! (Youtube-only option.)
* Answer the poll located in the video! (Click the button with the little 'i' in the top right corner to access the poll.)



THE BOOKS:
Spindle's End: http://amzn.to/2kXxrlF
Trickster's Choice: http://amzn.to/2kUq67j
Cybele's Secret: http://amzn.to/2kUpw9M
The Swan Maiden: http://amzn.to/2kXvENE
Paper Valentine: http://amzn.to/2kUvask


Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Monday, January 30, 2017

CHANGES & RESOLUTIONS

Just after I finished recording this yesterday, I opened up Twitter to see the news that Trump had made the move to ban people based on their religion and country of origin, and bar already vetted, actually legal citizens and visitors from entering the country -- in some cases, THEIR country. So this just further reinforced my main goal of this year.

If you have favorite ways you like to brighten people's days and put good back out into the world, or ways you like to get involved (politically or otherwise! There are lots of ways to make a difference), please let me know in the comments.



There will be more to discuss, I think, on my specific goals and resolutions in the coming days, but this is where I'm at for now. ✌️


Monday, January 23, 2017

Bullet Journal Walkthrough

Sorry this is such a long one, guys. Future bullet journal videos will NOT be, I promise, but I wanted to give some background on how I came to bullet journaling, and what I did before.
If you'd like to see more bullet journal videos, whether walkthroughs and planning videos, or my favorite / go-to designs and techniques for bujo-ing, let me know in the comments! And if YOU bujo, tell me what you do! I'm always looking for new things to incorporate. =D




TIMESTAMPS
Previous journaling: 0:45
Current journal walkthrough begins: 6:14
Supplies: 13:58

Things shown:
The notebook I'm currently using
The one I think I'll get next time (Or this (very pretty!) But both of these options are smaller than I'd like)
My favorite pens for bujo are these and these.

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Year, New Vlog!

Vlog time!
I want to get back into it this year, so even though this is probably not of much interest to a lot of you (soz!), it IS a reflection of what my life is right now, and I'm okay with that.

Chat with me in the comments about various vloggish things, like this whole seasons thing (wtf Michigan?), and things you'd like to see in upcoming vlogs!

And catch me on Monday for that Bullet Journal video I mentioned!



Mentioned:
Best & Worst of 2016 series:
http://www.thebookrat.com/2017/01/best-of-2016.html
http://www.thebookrat.com/2017/01/the-almost-favorites-2016-honorable.html
http://www.thebookrat.com/2017/01/disappointing-2016-reads.html



Music from the Youtube Creators library.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Disappointing 2016 Reads

Sorry for the world's longest video, but I had THINGS TO SAY. But hey, I time stamped everything, so feel free to skip around!

It's not that all of these are ~bad~ books, necessarily -- some of them I even liked! But for one reason or another, these books are the ones I look back on as disappointments from 2016.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and your least fave/disappointments from 2016! And if you missed the other videos in this series, you can check them out here:



THE BOOKS:
0:55 The Darkest Lie
2:34 Truthwitch [review]
4:27 Fray
6:25 In Case You Missed It
8:02 Rat Queens, vol 3 (and a little bit vol 2)
12:10 Sweaterweather
13:25 Heartless
14:37 Wink Poppy Midnight
15:44 The Wrath & the Dawn



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

THE ALMOST-FAVORITES: 2016 Honorable Mentions!

For the second video in my 2016 Wrap-Up series, we're taking a look at the books that didn't *quite* make the Best-Of cut -- but I still highly recommend them!

If you missed the first video, with my 2016 favorites, you can find that here!
And keep an eye out for the 3rd video in the series, tackling my LEAST favorites, coming Monday!
And make sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments!





THE BOOKS & LINKS:
Interference   review  |  First Impressions/excerpt ]

Mighty Jack   review ]

Roller Girl   review ]

Delilah Dirk & the King's Shilling   review ]

Nimona

The Killing Jar   review  |  excerpt  |  Gritty books discussion ]

Nightstruck   [ First Impressions/excerpt ]

Rebel of the Sands   review ]

Spirit & Dust



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though some of these books were gifted to me, or sent to me for review consideration. The rest were purchased by me, or borrowed from my local library.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

FAVORITE READS OF 2016!

Welp. This was supposed to be posted to the blog a few days ago, as part 2 is going up tomorrow, and I wanted to space them a bit... Note to those of you who regularly read this blog or are just looking for more now: I routinely procrastinate myself into forgetting to share vlogs to this blog (or there are things I just decide aren't a good fit, and don't post here), so there are plenty of vlogs on my youtube channel that never made their way over here... If you don't want to miss anything, you might want to make sure your subscribed over there, too! (And I will do my best to make myself cross post in a timely manner this year... lulz.)

Anyway.

Now that a new year is well and truly underway, let's take a look back at some of my favorite reads of last year. For as many books as I stalled out on or flat out didn't like, I had a surprising number of books last year that I liked, loved, and would highly recommend!

Part 2, with my honorable mentions, will be up tomorrow, so make sure to check it out!



THE BOOKS:

Uprooted

Saga (all of it)

Hexed (all of it)

After the Woods   [ review ]

The Darkest Corners  [ review ]

I See Reality   [ review ]

Vassa in the Night   [ review ]

The Nameless City   [ interview with Faith ]

Rat Queens, vol 1

You Were Here

Six of Crows   [ review ]

A Court of Mist & Fury



Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored video.

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