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How to Win More Goodreads Giveaways!

That Weird Girl Life
As an avid bookworm, the Goodreads site/app is ah-may-zing! You can keep track of the books that you're reading, discover new books to read (as if we need to add more books to our to be read pile. Who am I kidding. You can never have too many books!), organize all of the books you have read (and books you want to read) to specific shelves that you've created (like historical fiction, spooky reads, and books that will change your life- obviously those are some of my shelves), and connect with other fellow bookworms and look at what they're reading (and then sneakily add the book they're reading to your to be read shelf). There are also book clubs, reading challenges, Q & A's with authors, and so much more!

But my favorite part of Goodreads (along with many other features, obviously) is the giveaways section. Now, I love me a good giveaway and contest. I'm actually super into contests of ANY kind. It's just that fun idea of entering some giveaway, and then randomly winning something. Winning anything, really, no matter how big or small. To be fair, I've only won a few contests in my day (I've won from various contests: a Bluetooth wireless iPad keyboard, a Taylor Swift perfume, a random book or two, and some other odds and ends). I usually feel very unlucky in life, but winning a contest just makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, the universe actually likes me and is throwing me a little wink and a nod like, "Don't worry, I haven't forgotten you. Here's a consolation prize to make up for me ignoring you like pretty much always." (This is about the nicest thing the universe will ever do for me)

So far I've entered about 500 giveaways on Goodreads (that's a rough, but probably pretty accurate, estimate) and have won three books so far (plus one bonus one that came with another book!). Sure, that doesn't seem like a lot, considering all of the giveaways I've entered, but so many people enter these giveaways, so it's pretty amazing that I've one giveaway, no less three of them!

Books I've Won So Far On Goodreads:

*The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (read my review here)
*The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes (which I've read a while ago and loved!)
*The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor (when I won The Girl You Left Behind they sent me this book as random surprise! So nice and I can't wait to read it!)
*Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero  (I've heard so many good things and hype about this book that I can't believe I won a copy!)

(Much thanks to Penguin Randomhouse, Viking Books, Riverhead Books, and Goodreads for these wonderful books! The little Russian nesting doll is my own, FYI)

So in honor of my weird and unnatural good luck, I've decided to compile a list of the tips I've come up with that I use when looking in the giveaways section on Goodreads. They've helped my chances at winning and I hope they'll help you too. Good luck with entering and I hope you win* a free book! (Or a bunch of 'em!)

*Disclaimer: My tips obviously can't guarantee that you'll actually win lots of books, but hopefully they will help to better your chances at actually winning a book or two 😊

Tip #1: Enter As Many Giveaways As You Can
I think it goes without saying that the more giveaways you enter, the better your chances are at winning. It doesn't mean you're always going to win something, but it betters your odds at actually getting that super special edition of that book that everyone is talking about!

Tip #2: Don't Be Too Picky About the Genre
I have to admit, I'm pretty set on the book genres I like: historical fiction, horror, young adult, thriller, and general fiction. I rarely cross over into fantasy or sci-fi, and I usually don't seek out memoirs or biographies. But on Goodreads, the more open you are to different book genres and entering giveaways for books that aren't in your normal book genre range, the more likely you are to actually win a giveaway. And who knows? Maybe after reading that mystery novel you won, you might start reading more mystery novels. Your whole world could change and all because of a single Goodreads giveaway! (I may be over-exaggerating, but you get the idea)

Tip #3: Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover
It pains me to say this, but sometimes I do judge a book by its cover. I know, I shouldn't, because we shouldn't judge books (or people, for that matter) on their looks. But you have to admit that a good cover can entice you right in. While a fancy, glossy, professionally made cover may attract you to a so-so book, a plain, simple cover of a self-published book could hold an extraordinary world that you probably wouldn't have even glanced at if it wasn't for the giveaway. Read the description of the books, don't focus on the covers, and it will open up more opportunities to discover, win, and read more books.

Tip #4: Look For the Giveaways with the Most Copies of the Books or the Giveaways with the Least Amount of People Who Have Entered to Win the Book (to Better Your Chances)
It's simple, really: the more copies of the books, the better your chances are at winning. But they go down, of course, if a lot of people enter that giveaway, so keep that in mind!

Tip #5: Don't Be Afraid to Enter Giveaways for Books You Haven't Heard Of Before
One of the great things about Goodreads is that little or unknown authors can set up a page for their books, and get some publicity plus reviews for their novel(s). Reviews help unknown authors so much, and that's why so many authors starting out set up giveaways for their books, in the hopes that people who win a copy of the book will rate and review it on Goodreads, thus spreading the word about their book. Sure, this book may not be a best-seller, but it might be one day. And you would have read it first! You never know what your new favorite book might be, so give one of these lesser known books a try and if you love it, you can help spread the word about how great it is (and be in that total hipster book club of reading it before it was cool).

Tip #6: Check the Giveaways Section Every Few Days
New giveaways pop up everyday, but it's easy to get discouraged if you check it every single day and keep seeing the same old giveaways that you've already entered. Try checking the giveaways every two or three days so more giveaways will pop up and you'll have more to discover

Tip #7: Don't Forget About the Ending Soon Category or Just Listed- You May Have Missed a Giveaway That's Going to End Soon or Was Just Added!
Don't just be tempted by the Popular Authors and Most Requested giveaway sections. A lot of the less popular books show up first on the Ending Soon and Just Listed categories. And check the Ending Soon one first, because you never know what must read books are about to disappear forever. But never fear: a lot of books (especially new release books and self-published) pop up again as new giveaways, so if you missed your chance by forgetting to enter for that one book or if you entered the giveaway and didn't win, you might get another opportunity to win that much coveted book that you've been dying to read but hasn't been officially released yet (oh the joys of advanced readers copies aka ARCS!).

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And remember: it's random and it's all up to chance, but like the lottery, you can't win if you don't play. So good luck and have fun entering the giveaways, discovering new books, and hopefully winning a giveaway or two! (I'm sure the universe will be much kinder to you than it is to me 😋)

(But if you do win a book, it's customary for the person who wins a copy to write and post a review of the book on Goodreads. It helps out the site, the book, and the author. Plus, it's a great way to say thank you to Goodreads and the publisher (or whoever set up the giveaway) for sending you a copy of the book.)

Keep entering the giveaways and let me know if you win anything! And be sure to follow me on Goodreads! Let's connect and see what each other is reading!

Stay Weird,
Emily

Library Books Haul! Vol. 4


It's that time again! I went to the library and filled my official library book tote bag and took a bunch of books home to read. Some were winners, some weren't that great, and some *gasp* I didn't end up reading (the horror! The horror! What kind of bookworm am I???). From a book about the Wizarding World of the American 1920's (aka a book about the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie) to a horror novel that didn't quite hit its mark, this bunch of books was a literal mixed bag (my official library tote bag, that is!) and I'm here to share my thoughts, opinions, and ratings with you, good and bad! Read on to find out what I've been reading lately!

Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them by Ian Nathan

Harper Collins
Read or Returned: Read

My Thoughts: I think it's safe to say that as a Harry Potter fan, I LOVED Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (read my review of the movie and script book here). While it was weird to not read a book by JK Rowling before actually seeing the movie version of it- in this case, it was just the movie, with the script written by Rowling herself- it was pretty fun going into a Wizarding World story for the first time without any other source material to go on. I fell in love with the characters, the magical creatures, and I loved loved loved learning about American wizards and witches. And the time period being set in the 20's? Swoon!

So it comes as no surprise that reading the supplemental and official "making of" book about the filming process of Fantastic Beasts was a lot of fun for me. I've always been interested in the movie making process (what goes on behind the scenes, production design, costumes, etc.) and learning about one of my new favorite movies was so cool! It includes interviews with the actors (including a book introduction by Eddie Redmayne aka Newt Scamander himself), the producer David Heyman (who also produced all of the Harry Potter movies), and more of the behind the scenes teams, from the costume designer, the props department, and cinematography. While the "making of" book didn't get to any of the big reveals/spoilers at the end (I'm assuming the book was published before or when the movie was released), it still was chock full of information, especially about my favorite parts of the movies: the beasts! This is a must read for Fantastic Beasts fan. It'll give you an appreciation for all of the people who made the movie possible and yet are never seen on screen and are rarely appreciated (I mean, I know they're in the credits, but still. They made this amazing movie possible!).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 adorable shiny object stealing nifflers

Pandora's Lab by Paul A. Offit

National Geographic Society
Read or Returned: Returned

My Thoughts: This is so embarrassing. Let me explain: I found this book in the nonfiction section on the new books shelf at the library. I was instantly intrigued. Science and experiments gone wrong? Heck yes! I may not be a total science buff, but I do like learning about certain scientific things. And throw in experimental disasters? Sounds like a great, interesting, and educating read! But...I ran out of time to read it. I got caught up with my other library books, then life got in the way, and then before I knew it two weeks had gone by and I couldn't renew the book! I felt like such a failure of a bookworm. But now it's on my TBROD (To Be Read One Day aka a list of books I want to read after I try to finish my actual to be read list) list so hopefully I'll be able to finally learn about all of these horrifyingly fascinating scientific disasters!

My Rating: I can't rate the book but I can rate my shame for not reading it. 4 out of 5 judging looks from Pandora's Lab as I returned it to the library, unread and unloved. I'm so sorry, book!

Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry

Skyhorse Publishing
Read or Returned: Read

My Thoughts: This was another one of the those random finds on the new books shelf at my library. Of course it was in the super small supernatural section which I, obviously, frequent every time I visit the library. Seeing the cover of an beautifully illustrated old, spooky house peaked my interest and then reading the synopsis made my horror loving heart sing. Two sisters, Eliza, the eldest, and her troubled little sister, Rebecca, living with their aunt in post WWII London are sent to live and work the once grand but rundown Abigale Hall, owned by the mysterious Mr. Brownwell and run by the imperious housekeeper Mrs. Pollard. While the girls try to make the best of it, frightening things are happening, including whispers and rumors from the local villagers about Mr. Brownwell and the house, blood covered books, a ghostly figure appearing around the property, and most disturbing of all, the influence Mrs. Pollard seems to have over unbalanced Rebecca.

What started as an excellent and interesting premise, soon unraveled with too many story-lines, backstories, and characters, which caused the story to drag, despite being a relatively short book. There were ideas of plot points in the book that I liked but none of it seemed to work in the long run and I felt myself almost sigh in relief (and disappointment, to be honest) when I finished the very last page. There honestly is nothing worse than a book you really wanted to read or were interested in and then finding out it's not at all what you expected. Especially when it's a horror novel and good horror novels are hard to find (at least they are for me).

My Rating: 2 out of 5 very disappointing sighs as I finished the last page

Six Scary Stories- Selected and Introduced by Stephen King

Cemetery Dance
Read or Returned: Read

My Thoughts: Confession: I'm not a Stephen King fan. I know, I know, but listen! I've read two of his books (The Shining and Pet Sematary) and while they were well done, I found them overly long and honestly, King's style of horror is not the type of horror that I like (I just straight up want ghosts and hauntings and demon, not anything extra or out there like King usually does). Plus I didn't find either of those books scary! (It takes a lot to scare me nowadays. But apparently King can write some pretty disturbing stuff in his books) So I was a bit skeptical to pick up with this selection of short stories written by mostly unknown authors and selected by Stephen King from a contest he held. And my thoughts about the anthology were...meh. There really was only one story I actually liked, about toys who came alive at night and started playing a dangerous game while their owner, a little boy, slept in his bed (Toy Story this is not!). The rest were just so-so (some somewhat spooky, others just bizarre and strange. And there was a post-apocalyptic one with a bear...?) and I don't know if the story that I liked (not loved, just liked. I mean, it was about toys coming to life doing nefarious things in the dark of the night. That has Emily written all over it!) but was the story enough for me to read this entire book, as short as it was? Probably not, but at least I tried! And good on those authors for getting their stories published by a big name author! (Even if he's not my favorite author)

My Rating: 2 out of 5 seriously demented stuffed animals

Startup by Doree Shafrir
Little, Brown and Company
Read or Returned: Returned

My Thoughts: This was another of those random finds on the new books section at my library. It seemed hip, trendy, and very millennial, and while I don't usually go for books with a modern story line, I thought I'd give it a try. (I'm a historical fiction girl all the way. If a female character in the story isn't wearing a corset or some sort of old fashioned girdle/garters and stockings, then I am most likely not interested) I'm not even too sure about the premise of the book because I honestly didn't get too far into it. It starts off at a day rave. A DAY rave. As in, a rave right before and during the morning sunrise. Umm...yeah. (Perhaps the scene was meant to be a tongue in cheek view of the hipster startup movement but still. *shudders*) Maybe I wasn't in the right mood to read this book, or maybe the thought of young, rich startup tech millennials living their fulfilling and productive avocado toast lives did not sound appealing to me at the moment. So back to the library it went! I'm still not sure if I'd check it out again. I'm sure it's a well-written and entertaining book, but it was out of my reading comfort zone and I guess I just was in the mood for a tried and true genre. Maybe another time! (Maybe)

My Rating: I can't rate the book, but I can rate how likely it would be to find me at a day rave: 1 out of 5 pieces hipster fedoras

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Riverhead Books
Read or Returned: Read

My Thoughts: This is the latest thriller from Paula Hawkins aka the author on the super popular The Girl on the Train. I like a thriller every now and again, and this one certainly kept me on my toes. A woman comes back to an old vacation town her family used to stay at years ago, because her estranged sister (now living in the town with her daughter), was found floating in the river, supposedly murdered (dun dun dunnnn). Hidden and hurt feelings are revealed between the main character and her newly introduced niece, along with memories of the past and the dark lore and rumors of the history of the town. It had a lot of different perspectives from different characters, all telling the same story but from very opposite viewpoints, which made for an interesting interwoven story that kept you guessing about what was really true. While it's hard for me to find a thriller that really truly surprises me with a twist that isn't a let down (it's way more common than you think!), this one had me pretty much reading the book in one sitting because I just had to know what happened next (and who did what and why!). It's not the best thriller ever written, but it's addicting and you won't be able to put it down (at least, I couldn't). Sometimes it's enough just to be lost in a book and to me there isn't a better book to be lost in than a dark, whodunit thriller, featuring some complex and intriguing female characters (because girl power!).

My Rating: 4 out 5 nights of staying up late because you just have to see where this book goes because how can you sleep if you don't know what happens? (it's important!)

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What did you think of this edition of my Library Books Haul? It was totally hit and miss for me, but sometimes that's what happens when you check out random books from the library. They can't all be winners! What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments! (I'm always looking for new books to read, even though I have enough to read in my TBR pile to last me literally a lifetime)

Stay Weird,
Emily

June & July 2017 Monthly Favorites!


I know, I know. It's been a hot minute, hasn't it? I've been off of my blogging game lately and I apologize. I've had the worst (blog) writer's block and have been trying and trying to sit down and write a blog post and while I have a million post ideas, I just couldn't put my fingers to keyboard and actually write. But I am determined to get over this hump and have decided to push forward and finally complete my duel Monthly Favorites post. This edition is a bit of mish-mash of things, seeing as I've been trying to be good and not buy a lot of things lately and I haven't been to see a movie in theaters in forever (even though there are so many movies I want to see that are out right now! Damn my frugal life!), but it does feature a purely enchanting book that I think that everyone should read, some songs you'll play on repeat once you hear them for the first time, a movie featuring a giant super pig (yes, you read that right!), and a show all about 18th century prostitutes that you will become OBSESSED with me (at least I did. I need more harlot drama!!). So enjoy my obsessions from the past couple of months and cross your fingers that my writer's block has officially left me! *crosses fingers, throws salt over shoulder, does every other superstitious thing that probably doesn't work but makes you feel better about life*

Books:

That Weird Girl Life
I've been a bit busy lately and haven't had too much time to read. And all of the books I've been reading (though most of them good and enjoyable) haven't been as captivating and riveting as I would have hoped. I mean, when you read a book, don't you want to just dive into the pages and just disappear into the story? It seems to be getting harder and harder to find such an all consuming book where you never want it to end and you feel like crying once you've finished the last page (just me? I thought that's what everyone went through when they read an amazing book!).

But as fate would have it, I won a Goodreads giveaway of The Cottingley Secret, a historical fiction account of the (in)famous Cottingley fairy photos from the early 20th century (spoiler alert: the photos were a hoax that for a time even fooled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). The photos of which I had actually been enchanted by when I first saw them as a girl, so it was kind of fate that this historical fiction book fell into my lap. And guess what: this book was everything the last few books weren't. It was captivating, riveting, and enchanting. I read it cover to cover and got completely lost in its magical pages. I could go on and on for a long, long time about this masterpiece of a book. Oh, wait, I did! Check out my review of the book in the link below. Trust me that this is probably one of the best books of the year. The year, I say! It'll make you want to move to England, to visit Cottingley, and then to Ireland where you'll run a secondhand bookstore. Pure magic!

Check out my review of The Cottingley Secret!

Music:

Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited
I think it's safe to say that after including a Little Mix song or two in my last few Monthly Favorites post, I'm most likely probably an official fan of them. Enough so that I know their names, can recognize their voices when they sing, and am just all around obsessed with their newest album Glory (yes, I downloaded it and no I'm not embarrassed!), especially Power. This song is such a bop and it gives me so much happy energy whenever I listen to it, so yes, it has been on repeat whenever I need a pick me up. And bonus points for Power's awesome music videos, featuring some of my favorite drag queens!

Kemosabe Records
The artist formerly known as Ke$ha (now just known as Kesha) is back after a long legal battle against her label and former producer and if this isn't one of the most powerful and beautiful songs you've heard in a long time, then what have YOU been listening to?? I have been playing this song on repeat for days and days and I still get goosebumps listening to it (that high note! Who knew Kesha had those kind of pipes??). After hearing Praying, I'm fully onboard for Kesha's new and hopefully very personal (but still crazy and fun like she is) upcoming album, Rainbow.

Movies:

Netflix
This movie made me cry. More specifically, the friendship and love between a girl, and her giant hippo/pig shaped super pig made me cry. Okja (the super pig) and others like her were bred to be a new sustainable food source for the world. But Okja's best friend Mija will stop at nothing to get her back once the big business aka the meat industry comes to take her away (you know, to kill her and then sell her meat). It's an emotional journey filled with dark humor and satire about the meat and food industry and even animal rights activists. A weird combination, but it totally works. Also, Okja is up there as one of the cutest fictional animals ever. I really want my own super pig now. And like Mija, I won't let anyone hurt it. Just try, Tilda Swinton!

Netflix
Oh, hellooooo! Does a Netflix produced taped version of a Broadway stage play count as a movie? I'm going to go with yes! This is one of the weirdest, strangest, funniest, nod to Broadway and New York City that I've ever seen. Actors/comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney star as Gil and George, two old, delusional men living in NYC and from there they put on a play within a play. It's bizarre, but once you wrap your head around it, it's pretty frickin' brilliant. I wanted to see Oh, Hello while it was on Broadway, but 1) I didn't have the money/time to fly to NYC 2) this was a very popular show and it probably would have been so difficult to get tickets unless I have mounds of money, which I don't (see my first reason), so I'm thanking the Netflix gods for filming it and I've been singing the Too Much Tuna jingle for days now. (It's hard to explain. Just watch the show)

TV:

Showtime
It's no secret that I love Shameless. I wish I could remember that fateful day where I watched the very first episode and got hooked. The newest season was finally put on Netflix and you better believe I binge-watched the entire season in a few days. While this season may not have been the best of seasons (it was a bit muddled and not very compelling. Except for the last episode which was very heart-breaking, for a lot of different reasons), I still loved seeing my favorite dysfunctional family the Gallagher's once again. (But seriously, what happened to cute, sweet Debbie?? Am I the only one who really dislikes her now? Who would have thought Carl would be higher up on my list of characters that I actually like??)

Hulu
I can't put into words how much I love this show. It's the perfect combination of historical fiction, 18th century London, towering powdered wigs, gorgeous costumes featuring a TON of cleavage, and so. Much. Drama. Like, an insane amount of drama (it was hard out there for a harlot!). Great acting and excellent story-lines makes this a must watch (in my book, at least) and I literally rejoiced when I heard that the second season is coming back in 2018 (that was honestly the best news I had heard that day. Also, I tweeted about the show and the Harlots Twitter account liked my tweet. I about died!). Thank you, Hulu gods!!!

Hulu
Guys. This. Show! If you haven't seen it, watch it. I specifically signed up for a month's free trial on Hulu just to watch it (which reminds me I need to cancel it before I get charged!) and I'm so glad I did. It deviates a bit from the book, but I feel like all of the changes they made in the series actually helped enhance the story and characters and made it a very compelling watch. And don't get me started on how this dystopian world is eerily reminiscent of this current government. Too close for comfort! But maybe that's why the show is speaking to so many people, myself included. It's chilling, thought-provoking and season 2 needs to come out ASAP!

YouTube:

Everyone loves Disney, right? I certainly do, but then there are people who really love Disney. And I've found a YouTube full of them! The thingamavlogs channel is run by the biggest Disney fans and their videos are a combination of Disney discussions, debates, vlogs, travel, and more! Thanks to them I've "visited" Disney parks all over the world via their own travels/vlog documentation, learned a lot of tips about visiting Disneyland/Disneyworld, and learned the difference between to cosplaying and Disneybounding! But my favorite part of the videos is when they showcase all of the different food items from all of the parks. Especially the ones from other countries! And obviously the more dessert types of food. Thanks to thingamavlogs, I've been in such a Disney mood and am currently rewatching some of my favorite Disney classics! So subscribe if you love all things Disney and want to live through these Disney fans that seem to go to Disneyland like every freaking weekend! (Talk about living the dream. *sigh*)

Subscribe to thingamavlogs YouTube Channel here!

Odds & Ends:

That Weird Girl Life
Believe it or not, when I was a kid I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I loved drawing, painting, sculpting, pretty much anything having to do with creativity. But was I good at it? My parents said I was, but let's be honest, they're my parents, so they kind of had to say that to my young soul as to not cause permanent mental damage. But when I was older I stopped taking art classes (maybe I finally figured out I was just doing it for fun, not because I actually had artistic talent) and I've kind of been off of the art/craft scene for a while (I tried scrapbooking years ago but lost interest fast). But I've recently gotten into cross-stitching with this giant (and very easy) London themed kit I found at my local craft store. Like, apparently it's so easy the tagline on the label was "You can do it!" It was basically made for me, though I tried to prove them wrong. But I actually finished thanks to the pattern printed on the canvas (thank God for that) and the fact that the cross-stitch X's were HUGE. All in all, I'm super proud of myself and am thinking of moving on to a counted cross-stitch pattern. Like, an easy counted cross-stitch pattern. Let's be honest, I'm not ready for the big time yet!


What did you think of June and July's Monthly Favorites? Are you obsessed with any new TV shows? Have you watched The Handmaid's Tale yet? What did you think of it?

Stay Weird,
Emily