Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Reads

Success! Another month, another blog post, which means you get to read up on the books I read in February. Spoiler: They were awesome.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was for the second book in the Witchlands series, and it did not disappoint. While I read and love a lot of YA fantasy, no one keeps me saying "just one more chapter" like Susan Dennard. Out of the Safi/Iseult friendship, Iseult's for sure my favorite, and her growth arc in this book was wonderful. I kept wanting to get back to her scenes (even though I loved the others!). I also very much enjoyed the dynamic of Merrick and Vivia (though I won't say more, because spoilers), and the Vivia/Stix friendship. 

Here's a gratuitous picture of me (with uncharacteristically poofy hair) and Susan (with a halo).
What amazes me about this series is that the characters and relationships are so very rich, but the world/plot/magic doesn't suffer at all for it. If you love YA fantasy, pick up this series. 

Next up: Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson. You guys: This book. I didn't really know what I was getting into, but I'm so glad I got into it. This story is so, so raw. From the main character, Mary, to each girl in the group home she's been put in, to the adults in her life. And the relationship Mary has with her mother? I get it. God, do I get it. I don't want to give too much away about this book, but I will say it's not for the faint of heart. If you're looking for an intense, emotional read, pick up this book.

I picked up this book at the recommendation of Tracey Neithercott and Rebekah Faubion, and I'm so glad I did. The Hating Game is a step outside of the typical YA that I read. It's not that I don't enjoy adult fiction, it's just that I really enjoy the pace and voice in YA. Well, this book definitely delivered on both. It was smart, funny, and sexy. I read it in two days because I couldn't put it down. If you're looking for a fun read that will make you laugh out and loud while also checking to make sure no one is looking over you shoulder, then this is the book for you.

Yes, I do still have a lot of older books on my TBR, but now that I work for me, I'm finally starting to have time to read them. And this book? If you like beautiful writing with magic-as-life, then you need to do what I did and finally read this book. Of course, I'm also a sucker for sibling stories. While I'm not a twin and wasn't super close to my brothers growing up, my sister and I are only 18 months apart, so I totally get into the dynamics of what it means to be a sibling. Also, I'll Give You the Sun has ghosts, and you know how much I love ghosts.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January Reads (and the return of the dead)

It's January, which means its time to resurrect my blog, like I do after I give up on it every fall. Though perhaps this year I'll manage to make it to December. We can dream, can't we? For those of you who don't know (are any of you still out there reading this thing?) I became self-employed in December. I have a little more free time now (having no commute is a wonderful thing). I'm trying to read more. Initially my goal is three books a month, which may sound like pennies to some of you. But that's an increase for me!

So here we go.

Over the past few years, I've been writing historical fantasy, so it only seemed appropriate to start the year with one. I've had GRAVE MERCY on my list for a while now, and I finally read it. Obviously I'm now wishing I read it sooner. All I knew going into this one was that it had assassin nuns (but really...what more do you need to know?). I highly recommend this read if you like badass leading ladies who are still trying to figure out who they are. 

So, Leigh Bardugo is one of my all-time favs. At a party last year, someone asked me what my favorite book was, and I said the SHADOW AND BONE series. Well, this series has now outranked it, and the sequel is just as good--if not better--than the first. YA heist? Diverse cast? Broken teens trying to make their way in the world? Magic? Yes. Absolutely. I'm in. Take my money.

We get Wylan's perspective in this book (missing from book one), and Leigh does some interesting things with what we think we knew about Grisha magic. Plus some cameos from SHADOW AND BONE. Just a note, you DO NOT have to read SHADOW AND BONE in order to read this book. Also, here's a picture of me with Leigh Bardugo, because you know you wanted to see it.

And yes, all those books on the table were the ones I brought. When your favs come to town, you get some signed for your friends.

I read a historical fantasy and a fantasy, this one is pure historical. Katy Upperman recommended it to me, and her recs never disappointed. I read BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY the summer before last, so I knew I had to get emotionally prepared for it, and what an interesting month to be reading about refugees. This novel follows the journey of four teenagers fleeing for safety in the midst of the Soviet advance--including one who is beyond unlikeable. It's a hard read, but very much worth it, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.

What did you read in January?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

How I (Accidentally) Read The Winner's Trilogy Out of Order and Loved It

It was a three minutes after six o'clock in the morning on a Tuesday. I had my earbuds in, the elliptical was set to hill climb, and my Kindle sat before me. I needed something new to read, having just finished Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, I was ready to get back to my one true love: fantasy.

So I pulled up a book from a trilogy that had long been on my list, and started reading.

Let me go back even further. Last fall, The Winner's Crime was a $2.99 Kindle deal. I, of course, bought it and proceeded to commend myself for being such a savvy book shopper. I didn't know much about the series, just that everyone who I knew who had read it, loved it.

Actual order of books, not actual order of reading

Fast forward to that fateful day in March when I figured I'd start the trilogy. When I figured past Liz surely had been smart enough to purchase the first book in the series. When, for the first time in my life, I read the second book in a trilogy first.

Here's the thing: I loved The Winner's Crime. Sure, it seemed like a weird place to start a love story, what with the love story having already happened and our characters are now reuniting as SPOILERY THINGS HERE. But I really liked it.

It wasn't until I made it 73% of the way through that I realized I started on the wrong book, and only because people were talking about the series as the third was about to come out. So, as any good reader would do, I finished it. I LOVED it.

Then I proceeded to read the first in the series.

Here's the beautiful thing about entering into a love story where you already know what's going to happen: You fall in love with the characters even more, because you know the outcome and aren't so caught up in the stakes. And man did I fall hard for Kestrel and Arin. This love story guys.

When I finally made it to the third in the trilogy, I discovered something quite beautiful. Marie Rutkoski drew some very strong parallels between The Winner's Curse (book 1) and The Winner's Kiss (book 3), particularly with a story Kestrel's nurse told her as a child and Arin's connection to Death (his god).

I'm a fast reader, and had I read the first book first, I might have missed this connection. Instead, I got to see the story come full circle in such a powerful way. So thank you, Marie, for writing a series that can be started in the middle, and enjoyed just as much—if not more—than if it had been started at the beginning.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


So those of you who don't know, I play video games. My main jam is Heroes of the Storm (I used to play League of Legends, but I can't stand the community). This past weekend, all heroes were free, so I spent too much time figuring out Abathur. And I love him. To those of you who aren't following this at all: this particular character forces you to be aware of more than just yourself, which I think is a good life lesson in general.

I'm still working on The Winner's Curse. Work has been crazy, so reading has been slow.

My husband's been rewatching Game of Thrones in preparation for the season premier, so I've been rewatching Game of Thrones. Last night we watched the episode in which Sansa tells Lady Olenna what she thinks about Joffrey. I forgot how much I love Lady Olenna.

Listening To
This song has found its way into my writing playlist, because it perfectly describes one of the characters in this story I've been working on.

Thinking About
Social media. I'm a social media manager for a quickly growing start-up, and I've been reading some best practices books at the recommendation of our new CMO (hence the slow reading I mentioned earlier). I'm pretty excited to be able to finally have the time to take our social media to the next level and really use my creativity here.

The end of my WIP! I'm making good progress on revisions and think I may be a week to a week and a half out from having the manuscript ready for my CP's. This is a record for me. I started this book a little over a year ago, and the limited outlining I did made it go so much faster.

That, of course, leads me to my wish. I want to be a good outliner, the best outliner, the kind of outliner who nails the book in an outline so writing is a breeze. I have no idea if it will work, but that's what wishes are for, right? And thanks to Tracey Neithercott, I have all sorts of resources at my finger tips.

Making Me Happy
Our new Fiat. That's right, we bought a new car! We've been a single car family for three or four years now, but work stuff is making that no longer an option for us. This was actually a first for us--buying a car together. After almost seven years of marriage, we don't have a lot of firsts left, so that was exciting.

Oh yeah, I'm a brunette again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Spring. I like when it's cool in the morning but pleasant in the sun by midday. I like the smell of soil and the feel of it beneath my hands when I'm dropping seeds into the earth. I'm a gardener, and I definitely get affected by the wintertime blues. Spring is when I come alive again.

So this is embarrassing. I finally started reading the Winner's Trilogy (been on my Kindle TBR list for a while, but never got to it). At 73% of the way through, I realized I had started on book 2. So now I'm reading The Winner's Curse.

As soon as Dare Devil season two came out, we binge watched it. I love everything about the Netflix Marvel shows. Some day I want to write a YA that feels the way these feel.

Listening To
It's been an Of Monsters and Men kinda of few weeks. They make up a lot of my writing playlist for my current WIP, so I've got them on repeat even when I'm not writing to keep at least some part of my brain in that space.

Thinking About
Stickers. Tracey Neithercott talked me into giving the sticker method a try, and guys: it's working. I wrote 9,500 words in 10 days because of this. I finished a draft of my manuscript because of this. Of course, my calendar looks like someone is tripping acid thanks to all the Lisa Frank covering its squares, but I'll take it.

Camp NaNoWriMo! I'm in an awesome cabin with some lovely writer friends. My goal is to finish this Southern Gothic that I started a little over a year ago and get it into CP hands so I can have it to my agent by May. I also want to make some progress on my next project...whatever that is!

That I could get a better knack for growing tiny trees. My husband bought me a Dawn Redwood Bonsai forest kit for my birthday last year, and it went horribly. I contacted the company and they sent me new seed, so I'm going to be trying again.

Making Me Happy
Puppies! My best friend has adopted the sweetest little lab pup, and we took Frankie (my chiweenie) over last night. It's fun to watch my dog (who's almost 5) play with, tolerate, and then dominate a puppy that will soon be much larger than him.