Friday, December 27, 2013

Badass Books: Fangirl

Guys. Guys. This book. This is why I don't read a lot of contemporary. It just breaks into me every damn time. But Fangirl was so worth it.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Why I Read It: Honestly? Tumblr. As I mentioned above, I don't read a lot of contemporary YA, for the same reason that I don't write it. I'm an adult now, but I still struggle with thinking through my teenage years, my own time as a young adult. A lot of the best contemporaries hit too close to home, especially when they deal with sisters. But this book just kept showing up on my Tumblr feed, so I went for it.

ZOMG Yes! There was a lot going on this story--the dynamics with the sisters, dealing with their father's bipolar disorder, Cath's own anxiety disorder, the writing of the fanfic, the romance, the mommy issues. There's just a lot. It was all woven so well together, and I'm a sucker for sister stories.

So, of course, Cath and Wren's part of the story was my favorite--including their very different ways of dealing with their mother. 

Levi was a close second. As was Cath's roommate Reagan. The characters in this story felt very real. I love when a story does that.

Fangirl is more accurately New Adult--since the girls are in their first year of college, but that's fine. It made a lot of the pieces and parts that much more interesting and made me want to read more New Adult. And more Rainbow Rowell.

kthxbai: I definitely recommend this book. I read it in two days and would have read it faster if I'd given in and stayed up last night. This is by far one of my favorite reads of the year. Five chiweenies to Rainbow Rowell!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

YA Superlatives: Best in Show

Today wraps up this year's YA Superlatives. If you've missed the rest of them, it's not too late to jump in! Click the image below for more information, and check out the lovely ladies hosting this bookstravaganza: Katy UppermanJessica LoveTracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller.

And here we go!

Favorite Cover: This was really tough for me, but I did actually narrow this category down to one. This cover is so so so beautiful.

Cutest Couple: I really like Em and Finn in All Our Yesterdays, but I'm still holding out for Blue and Gansey in The Dream Thieves.

Most Likely To Succeed: Nobody But Us  by Kristin Halbrook.

Most Likely To Make You Miss Your Bedtime: Most of the books I read this year did this to me. Scarlet did it the most.

Best Repeat Performance: Very torn between Siege and Storm and The Dream Thieve. Of course, Asunder was really good, too.

Favorite Finale: Requiem by Lauren Oliver.

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath: Morpheus and Alyssa in Splintered.

Breakout Novel: Torn here between Splintered and All Our Yesterdays.

Best Old-Timer: Easy. The Fault in Our Stars.

Book Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry: Nobody But Us

Most Pleasant Surprise: The Madman's Daughter

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle: Splintered

Sleeper Hit: Splintered

I really never know what do for my own category, so I'll leave it at that!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

YA Superlatives: Elements of Fiction

Time for more superlatives! Click the image below for more information, and check out the lovely ladies hosting this bookstravaganza: Katy UppermanJessica LoveTracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller.

I loved this day last year, and I'm excited to see it again--thanks for bringing it back, ladies.

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (The Plot You Wish You Thought Of Yourself): The Dream Thieves

Most Formidable World (Setting You Definitely Would NOT Want to Visit): Zoe's home in Nobody But Us. Real-world settings with that sort of darkness are so hard.

Wanderlust-Inducing (Setting You'd Gladly Travel To): Wonderland in Splintered. I would love to see this gothic world up close an personal, as terrifying as it would be.

Loveliest Prose: This is a toss up for me. One of these three: Splintered, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, or The Dream Thieves.

Best First Line:
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea You stop fearing the devil when you're holding his hand.
Splintered I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers.
A Darkness Strange and Lovely Can't share this one or it would spoil the first in that series.

Most Dynamic Main Character: I'm going to give this to Em from All Our Yesterdays. Because of the way the book was written, you really got to see her growth. Runner-up for this is Eleanor from A Darkness Strange and Lovely.

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea with an honorable mention to Allegiant.

Best Performance In a Supporting Role: I really enjoyed Thorne in Scarlet as well as Finn in All Our Yesterdays.

Best Use of Theme:  A Darkness Strange and Lovely did an excellent job with darkness vs. light.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

YA Superlatives: Popularity Contest

Today marks day 2 of the YA Superlative Blog Fest. Click the image below for more information, and check out the lovely ladies hosting this bookstravaganza: Katy UppermanJessica LoveTracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller.

Let's get this popularity contest started: and the winners are...

Class Clown: River West from Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Definitely a performer for sure. I won't say any more than that because--no spoilers!

Most Likely To Start a Riot: Tough one--most any of my dystopian ladies. Tris (Allegiant) or Lena (Requiem). Though with the growth I saw in Ana in Asunder, I think she's a runner up here.

Biggest Flirt: I had a lot of contenders for this role this year, but this one goes to Sunshine from Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Willem from Just One Day is a definite runner up.

Girl You'd Most Want for Your BFF: Why do you do this to me?! Can't I have all of my favorite leading ladies? No? Well, fine. Be that way. Alyssa Gardner from Splintered or Blue from The Dream Thieves. For the record, the boy I'd pick for this is Noah from The Dream Thieves. Em from All Our Yesterdays  is a definite runner up along with Bree from Taken.

Boy You Wish You'd Dated in High School: I have a three-way tie here with Finn from All Our Yesterdays and Thorne from Scarlet and Nikolai from Siege and Storm. Very similar personalities among these fellas. Sorry I'm not sorry for choosing three.

Most Likely to Become President: Gansey wins this for the second year running. I don't know what I'm going to do with my life when The Raven Cycle ends.

Quirkiest Character: Either Persephone (and really all of Blue's family) from 
The Dream Thieves or a character from Scarlet that I can't name because, spoilers. SPOILERY HINTS IN WHITE: She's an android. Runner up is Ollie from A Darkness Strange and Lovely.d.

Villain You Love to Hate: New villain is The Gray Man from The Dream Thieves.  Still loving The Darkling (always loving hating loving hating the Darkling) from Siege and Storm. I guess I have a thing for villains without names. Runner up is the villain from 
All Our Yesterdays.

Favorite Parental Figure: This goes to Maura from The Dream Thieves hands down. Sorry every other parental figure ever.

Coolest Nerd: Cinder from Scarlet

Monday, December 16, 2013

YA Superlatives: Head of The Class

I've been on  blogging hiatus as life has run away with me, but I think that's okay. We do what we can do, and this past month and a half, it was all I could do to squeeze my revisions in. I'm excited to jump back in with none other than the YA Superlatives Blogfest hosted by the ever lovely Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller!

I went through all my reviews, and it seems out of the 15 books I read this year, only 13 were published in 2013. At first I was pretty bummed that I only got 15 in, but then I thought about all the amazing and some not-so-amazing things that happened this year and decided to be gracious with and proud of myself for that many. I am a little sad I didn't get to Fangirl and Eleanor and Park in time, but that's okay. I'm sure after reading everyone's posts it will just want to make me read them more.

Let's jump in! Today's topic: Head of the Class. As a note, I didn't include the topics that I didn't read in that genre or didn't have a favorite. I've linked to my reviews if you want more information on any of these great books.

Favorite Dystopian: This one is a little tough as two of my favorite dystopian trilogies ended this year. Both authors took a lot of risks with their characters and their plots, and for that I applaud them. I'm going to have to give this one to Requiem by Lauren Oliver, with an honorable mention to Allegiant by Veronica Roth (which I still need to review!). Another honorable mention to Erin Bowman's debut Taken.

Favorite Science Fiction: This one goes to debut author Cristin Terrill with All Our Yesterdays. I felt like this story was time travel done right. I loved the characters and the twists and the depth. Great read if you haven't yet. Scarlet by Marrissa Meyer gets an honorable mention.

Favorite Fantasy: Another tough, tough category as fantasy is what I read most. I'm going to have to go with Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo with an honorable mention to Asunder by Jodi Meadows--both seconds in their respective trilogies.

Favorite Contemporary: This goes to Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook.

Favorite Action/Adventure: Definitely Taken by Erin Bowman. She had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Favorite Historical Fiction: Hands down this one goes to Susan Dennard's A Darkness Strange and Lovely. Not only does it pull you into late 1800s Paris, but it does it with a mix of science fiction and fantasy. This is one of my favorite series right now, so you should definitely check it out.

Favorite Paranormal: This goes to A.G. Howard's Splintered with an honorable mention to Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke. It was hard to decide between these two, but I was more moved by Splintered and really loved how the romance was handled in that story.

Favorite Family Drama: I'm actually going to give this to The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd. While the story was both science fiction and historical fiction, I think above everything it was definitely a family drama with the relationship between Juliet and her misogynist father.

Favorite Genre Bender: This one goes to The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. It's a little bit fantasy a little bit contemporary and a little bit mystery. I love all the characters here, and I'm sure you'll see them throughout the week. If you haven't been sucked into the Raven Cycle series, you really should put your life on hold and do that immediately.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Badass Books: A Darkness Strange and Lovely

So I mentioned my life has been kind of a black hole lately. The whole month of October was swallowed by an understaffed department, unexpected new business opportunities, and more work than my mind can handle. I finally gave myself a break and let myself read. Why finally, you ask? Because Susan Dennard's A Darkness Strange and Lovely had been on my Kindle since it came out (I preordered it months and months ago).

Summary (from Goodreads)
Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

Spoilers in white. Duh.

Why I read it: If you read the first book in this series, Something Strange and Deadly, then you already know why I read this story. I fell in love with the characters--with Eleanor's transformation, Jie's brazen character, Joseph's charm, Daniel's honesty. I adored them. And the sequel did not disappoint.

ZOMG Yes: Ollie. That's really all I'm going to say because otherwise I'll ruin it for you--but this character had just as much depth as I've come to expect from Susan's stories. I also loved the continued growth of Eleanor's character. As she has come into her own secrets SPOILER: you her bother's... she has uncovered an entirely new growth arc, and it's one I love.

I think my favorite part about this story is that Susan challenges the conceptions her characters have around magic--the black and white lines--the idea that something is wrong because it has always been wrong. But then she doesn't actually come right out and tell us whether it is wrong or not. Brilliant.

I also loved how much more steam punk this story was than the first.

kthxbai: If you like female characters who are everything they ought to be because they are themselves, then you really need to read this series. Eleanor is weak and strong and quiet and loud and confused and assured and real.

Five chiweenies to Susan Dennard.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Badass Books: All Our Yesterdays

Guys: This month. Phew. October is my favorite month of the year, but for the first time in my life, I can't wait for it to be over. You probably haven't seen much of me. I haven't been blogging. I haven't been commenting. I've really haven't been Tweeting. Work has taken over my life this month in what (I hope) is a temporary triage mode, as my department of what should be at least eight or nine, has dwindled down to five. You probably still won't see much of my until November rolls around.

But I digress.

Summary (from Goodreads)

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. 

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Why I read it: Actually, I won it. For whatever reason (largely because somehow I missed this when scouring the debut list), this story didn't make my DAC list. But I won it on Jaime Morrow's blog back in September. I actually read it at the end of September. So yeah, long time coming.

ZOMG Yes: I really enjoyed this story and am glad it fell into my hands. I would've hated to miss it. I read it in a day (as I tend to do with fast-paced sci-fi YA). I've always been a sucker for time travel, and this story did not disappoint.

The premise felt original to me (hard to do these days with time travel), and I loved the roll out of the characters. I really feel like there's not much I can say about them without being too spoilery, but I loved getting to know every side of them--seeing who they were, watching them grow SPOILER: watching them watch themselves grow.

And the villain? Wow. Nicely done. If you like a story with a well-developed villain, this one's for you.

Hmmm: I'm still not really sure what happened at the end. It definitely worked for the story, but I'm still thinking it through.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Badass Books: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I hadn't realized I hadn't actually written my review of this DAC book. Sorry! It's been crazy (work has been killing me, but it's good--just daunting). So here it is!

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Why I read it: This is a 2013 debut, and I loved the cover, so I added it to my DAC list, as shallow as that sounds. But look at it. It's SO BEAUTIFUL.

ZOMG Yes! Let me start by saying I adored this book. I really love a good fantasy set in our world. I love when authors can pull in new elements I never thought of and weave new magics and give them new names. This story felt fresh and alive and different. 

Also, I really like girls that love to read and keep to themselves. This book had all of that. Plus? Steamy, steamy kisses.

But I digress. April does an excellent job weaving together the characters of this book--giving them depth and hopes and fears. I've seen a handful of reviews that felt a lack of connection to Violet's twin brother Luke. I completely disagree with this. He felt like a valuable part of the story, integrally tied to Violet's growth.

I thought I knew where this story was going. I really did. But it kept going somewhere else and doing it flawlessly. I also really enjoyed the voice of this story. It almost felt like April took Mark Twain's advice a little too seriously to replace "very" with "damn," and then kept it that way. And it works.

Hmmm I was beyond excited to see that there is a sequel to this book. I don't know where it will go or how it will unfold, but I love that it will exist. April left the door open, and I honestly can't wait. I especially want to see more of Neely.

kthxbai Someone give this girl a chiweenie! And all you out there? Go read this book!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Badass Books: The Dream Thieves

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this book, ever since I devoured The Raven Boys. Maggie Stiefvater has this way with words and characters and places and plot--she spins them unlike any author I've ever seen. She is the writer I want to be when I grow up.

I'm going to give you the summary after the picture, but even it's a little spoiler if you haven't read The Raven Boys, so it will be in white, like all my spoilers.

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after.\

Why I read it: If you read the first book in The Raven Cycle, you know. There's something about these characters, the way the relate to each other, the way they drive the plot, all of it. Not reading the second book was not an option.

ZOMG yes: Really, this should be my category for the entire review. First: you get to know Ronan a lot better in this book (in case you couldn't tell from the cover). I really liked that. Ronan intrigued me in the first book, and I wanted his perspective. I wasn't disappointed. He was every bit as broken and at war with himself as I had hoped, and Maggie does such a good job of bringing that to life in this story.

I also loved the new villains in this story. They each had their own depth to them, and I wanted to know them more, to understand what drove them. SPOILERS (like some big ones): I really would have liked to learn a little more about Kavinsky's back story--what drove him crazy--but I know it's there even if it wasn't divulged. And the Gray Man? Maggie, how could you make me love a hit man? Much less a hit man with the past target he had? I love and hate you for doing this to me.

If you've read Tracey's review, she's completely right about that scene with Noah and Blue. I loved it, but I really wanted more Noah in this book. Maybe in the next one? You know now that SPOILER: the ley line is feeling a little better.

I loved getting to see more of Maura, Calla, and Persephone here. I especially love the reveals about Persephone as they tied to Adam's part of the story line. So those of you Adam lovers out there: don't worry, we get further in his story, too.

Also. I ship Gansey and Blue.

Hmmm: So the end. There's that. SPOILERS: I'm confused at where Gansey was in the epilogue. Anyone else? Also curious to see what drove Maura to her decision. I'm waiting to meet Butternut, and I think her choices are tied to that.

kthxbai: If you haven't started this series, you really need to. It's a wonderful story, but the writing alone is reason enough.

All the chiweenies to Maggie!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. Be sure to visit Jaime's blog to add your post to the link list!

What I'm Reading: I finished Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea this weekend, and it was lovely. I'll have a review up soon, but I would definitely recommend this story. On to my next debut! What's your favorite debut this year? I'll read that next:)

What I'm Writing: So I know I missed last week's post, but I've been REALLY busy writing. My goal was to finish the first draft of this rewrite by September 1. I missed the deadline, but only by ten days. Last night I completed the draft (for the first half of the book it's really a second draft, but the full second half is new). It needs a lot of work a lot of love and a lot of cutting (it's over 100,000, but juts barely). But it's done. I have something to work with.

I've had the above bottle of wine in the fridge since the beginning of summer waiting for this moment. I decided to hold my other reward until I send the book off to my betas--so you'll see that this fall (I hope). Thanks to everyone for your Twitter encouragement! I love you all and look forward to writing with you this autumn.

What Inspires Me Right Now: For the first time in a long time? Myself. :)

What Else I've Been Up To: Our car got sideswiped a few weeks ago. Last week I fixed the mirror (the only damage) all by myself. Pretty proud of it.

What's up with you?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Badass Books: Siege and Storm

Can I just start by saying: Dear God, yes! Leigh Bardugo is one of those authors with whom I would like to be friends. She is brilliant. She writes deep, real characters in stunning environments with MAGICS and PLOT TWISTS and ROMANCE. If you haven't read Shadow and Bone, go do that then come back and read this review of its sequel.

Why I Read It: The Darkling. Enough said. Okay I like Alina, too. And Mal (though not as much as the Darkling..or at least, not after the first book), and Genya. And all of it.

ZOMG YES! Well. Let me just say--I may have read it for the Darkling, but I've jumped ship. I'm all about some Nikolai. Fine, I'll stop swooning and actually talk about the book and not my unhealthy crushes on fictional characters.

As far as sequels go, I think Leigh did an excellent job with this story. I was curious to see where she would go, how it would be a new story, what would become of Alina as she grew in her power. Siege and Storm did not disappoint. We had new stakes, new characters, new adventures. We had the resurgence of old characters, too. I don't want to say too much that would give away anything from the first book, so I'll leave it at that.

Hmmm I'm curious to see where this goes next. I need answers to some specific questions about the fates of certain characters. I'd like to see some redemption. I want to know more about the Apparat. Is he good? Is he bad? Is he just really senile? Why didn't he smell as much like tombs this time around?

Kthxbai In case you were wondering (if you remember my review of Shadow and Bone), I did get over my issue with the K's and let myself enjoy them this time around. Five chiweenies to Leigh Bardugo!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Badass Books: The Madman's Daughter

Earlier this summer I finished The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd as a part of my 2013 Debut Author's Challenge (on which I am sorely behind). If you're looking for a book to read and like historical fiction + romances, I'd recommend it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

Spoilers in white.

Why I Read It: I added this one to my DAC list because I'm working on an alternate history piece, so I like to see how other people write about the past--the language they use, the way they describe the clothing. I especially wanted to see how Shepard handled the way women were treated at this time because I'm working through how to craft reactions to the female characters in my story.

More DAC info here.

ZOMG Yes! I like that the title of this story upset me, and that the author used that. I'm not usually a fan of story titles about a heroine who is defined by the men in her life. I didn't want to know about the madman's daughter. I wanted to know about Juliet. But it was her association with her father that was one of her primary struggles, and so I think the title worked.

I also liked the ending. SPOILERS (ok not that spoilery, but still): I liked that the ending was unexpected. I liked that Juliet was forced to no longer allow the men in her life to define her but to make her own path. I don't like that Montgomery didn't think about how difficult that would be for her but only thoughtabout himself. Which leads me to my next point...

Hmmm: Montgomery was selfish, and I get that people can be selfish, but it bothered me because he was a primary love interest. But at the same time, I kind of liked it because I think even that was a commentary on the way women and men interacted with each other during this time period.

kthxbai Overall it was a good read, and I'm glad I picked it up. Check it out if you're looking for a 2013 debut.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Ready Set Write

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. Be sure to visit Jaime's blog to add your post to the link list!

What I'm Reading: I did decide on Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea. I plan to get it tonight and start reading! Right after making chili and going through all of today's What's Up Wednesday posts.

What I'm Writing: Guys. How is it already the final week of Ready. Set. Write!? This has been such a wonderful writing summer for me. Thank you Alison, Katy, Jaime, Erin, and Elodie for putting it on and to those of you (like Tracey) who wrote with me almost every night.

As far as goals go, my goal this summer was to write. Which I did. My goal last week was to finish part 5 and watch some Battle of Shiloh reenactments. Success! Even bigger? I made a good start of figuring out how to fix part five. But now that the writing intensive is over, I hope we'll all still keep writing together!

I'm hoping to finish this draft (including fixing part five and making some tweaks to part four) by the end of September, at which point I will send it along to my critique partners. I'd like to have a beta-ready draft by the end of October. Not sure if I'll make it, but we'll see. So for those of you who've expressed interest in reading, let me know if you want to be on that October/November list :)

I'll keep updating on Wednesdays to share my progress, and I'll be around on Twitter.

What Inspires Me Right Now: Fall is almost here, and it's my favorite season. Soon there will be all sorts of fall-themed photos on my Instagram; I guarantee it!

What Else I've Been Up To: House stuff, work stuff, life stuff. Nothing terribly exciting. I'm planning to finally install a threshold under our basement door to help with the flooding. That's about it, friends!

What's Up With You?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. Be sure to visit Jaime's blog to add your post to the link list!

What I'm Reading
: Nothing actually. Getting back to work post-vacation has been a little rough, as it always is. Right now I'm trying to decide what to read next. I'm between Charm and Strange and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I'll definitely be reading both this year, but if you have an opinion on which one is next, let me know! Also, I know I'm past due for two book reviews. Maybe soon? Maybe?

What I'm Writing: A lot, actually! I did not meet my goal for this week, but that's because I didn't realize how many words it would actually take. I'm one chapter plus one scene short of my goal--one of the hardest scenes for me to write. But, I did come out with 6,712 words. 

They are not all good words. In fact, they probably need a lot of help, but that's okay! I wrote them, and I hope there are some diamonds there. As I've mentioned, I'm doing a rewrite. This section? Completely new and not in the original plot. So yeah, it will definitely need a lot of help.

Goals for next week? I'm actually not sure. Maybe write as much as I can? I definitely want to finish part five--that one chapter plus one scene. I also want to watch a YouTube video I found of the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Shiloh (part six of my story). So those are my big goals. Plus a lot of words.

What else I've Been Up To: Aside from writing and work, not a lot. The coffee shop where my husband works is back up and running, so I haven't seen a whole lot of him, which is how I managed to get all those words in. 

What's Inspiring Me Now: Seven chapters to go! The end is in sight, and I have a special treat waiting for me. I'll post a picture once I finally get to it.

What's up with you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. Be sure to visit Jaime's blog to add your post to the link list!

What I'm Reading: I've been on vacation since last Thursday (today is actually my first day back at work) so I read Siege and Storm on Thursday, and I loved it. Once I actually write my review of The Madman's Daughter, I'll get this review up. I haven't picked my next book yet--thinking I'll do another debut since I'm behind on my DAC.

What I'm Writing: The first couple of vacation days were dedicated to dealing with a few things around the house--some planned (finishing unpacking), some not so planned (cleaning up the flooded basement). Then my husband and I headed to Chattanooga, where he built in time specifically for me to write.

I hit two pretty big milestones, First: Ten chapters to go! Second: 70,000 words down. As you may have guessed, I decided to move forward with drafting (perhaps at the urging of some unnamed know who you are). My goal this week is to finish part five, which will leave part six--the Battle of Shiloh.

Bed and breakfast bliss.

What Else I've Been Up To: Vacation? Yes, please. We had some great food and stayed at a beyond lovely bed and breakfast. It was a much-needed escape. I'm only hoping the peace I was able to gain will stay with me. I think yoga may help with that :)

For those of you on Twitter Monday night, these are the cocktails I mentioned.

What's Inspiring Me Now: Spending time with my husband this weekend has been awesome. He really does fuel my creativity, and he takes me nice places to see nice things. Here's a video I took that I've been watching for inspiration.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Discovering Self Acceptance: On Writing and Yoga

This past Monday I completed my thirtieth straight day of hot yoga (a mixture of bikram and heated vinyasa). I initially planned to write this blog post that afternoon, but I waited. At first, I was too busy, but then I wanted to think--to contemplate what I had done, what it meant, where I go from here.

I've been practicing yoga since February--which is to say I'm still a bit of a noob. And while I have changed since I've begun my practice, those changes didn't really set in until after the 30 days. What's changed? My body, of course, but it's so much more than that.

I'm generally an anxious person. I have an anxiety disorder, and I also suffer from PTSD. Practicing yoga daily has not only helped me manage my anxiety, but it's helped me recognize it and see it for what it is. In doing that, I've been able to acknowledge anxiety-induced self deprecation and move on.

That's huge.

The largest thing I've learned over the past thirty days is self acceptance. Every day is different. Every day I'm different. Being on the mat has helped me come to terms with that. Some days I can hold a standing bow for a full minute. Other days I'm on my back, laid out, unable to even make it through the warm up. And that's okay. It's good to acknowledge what my body can and can't do. The important thing is that I'm there. I'm on my mat. I'm enduring the heat. I'm practicing. I'm not giving up.

It's discipline. It's endurance. It's daily.

Where do I go from here? The obvious answer is that I continue my practice. But I don't want to stop there. These things that I've learned, the intentions I've set, the patience I've gained, they can go beyond the studio. No. They should go beyond the studio.

My next goal? To apply them to my writing. To accept when my writing sucks. To work through that. To acknowledge it and have gratitude toward myself for trying. To celebrate the days the words flow and I can't seem to put a cap on my creativity. But most importantly: to practice.

I need writing to be daily (or at least as close to daily as possible) like yoga is. I need it to be a practice, a discipline, a constant. And I need to give myself grace.

Thank you Hot Yoga East Nashville for giving me a space to learn these lessons--on and off the mat.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis.

What I'm Reading: I picked up Shadow & Bone this weekend so that I can finally read Siege & Storm. I forgot how beautiful the writing is. I read it so fast the first time, that all I really took in was story. I'm taking it slow this time, and I'm so glad. I also plan to have my review of The Madman's Daughter up later this week.

What I'm Writing: While I didn't meet all my goals for this week, I'm happy with my progress. I made it to the other side of my slump and knocked out both the scenes I needed to write. It's the editing that I didn't finish. And that's okay.

Goals for this week? I think I'm going to skip that editing and go back to writing the draft itself. So I'd REALLY like to finish the next part. We'll see if that happens.

What Else I've Been Up To: I finished my 30 day yoga challenge! More on that later this week. I'm also taking some vacation time--tomorrow through next Tuesday. I'm planning to finally finish unpacking the house before my husband and I head out for a couple days.

What's Inspiring Now: "Another Love" by Tom Odell. I heard it on the radio, and if my current WIP ever becomes a series, this song is perfect for later in that story.

What's up with you?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. 

What I'm Reading: I finished The Madman's Daughter and am hoping to put a review up this weekend. I haven't started my next book yet, but I think I'm going to read Shadow and Bone again and then read Siege and Storm.

What I'm Writing: Guys. This week has been rough for writing. Working on Saturday (I'm a M-F girl) really threw me off, and I haven't been able to recover. I've been binge watching shows on Netflix and reading for hours at a time. I didn't meet my goals for last week. I was working on the editing, and then I realized that there was a huge part of my timeline that just didn't work. Too much time was going by for my characters' decisions and my plot elements to make sense. While I figured out what I needed to do to fix it, I didn't get myself to do it. In fact, I sat around this afternoon hating myself for a while (as we all do from time-to-time), and I finally decided to do something. So I'm re-reading the scenes that happen just before this new scene has to take place and am taking notes so I can finally write the new one. Maybe tomorrow?

I think I'm going to try to be more disciplined and specific with my goals this coming week. I want to be very specific. Here's my plan:

  • Thursday: Write the new scene (chapter 11, scene 1)
  • Friday/Saturday: Start the second new scene (chapter 11, scene 2). I'll be spending a lot of time with my husband these days since we have hardly seen each other this week, so I want to be realistic here.
  • Sunday: Finish new scene. Read through the rest of part two (chapters 12-17) for timeline inconsistencies. Make slight edits as needed.
  • Monday: Read chapters 18 and 19 for timeline inconsistencies and correct.
  • Tuesday: Read chapters 20-22 for timeline inconsistencies and correct (finishing out part 3).
So I only have two real writing goals. The editing goals are less daunting then they look because the timeline shift is only 4 days, but when I'm weaving in actual historical events, it makes all the difference.

What else I've been up to: We finished the office move! Finally! Hopefully I can breathe soon. 

What's Inspiring Me Now: Not much other than the need to not feel like such a lump. Pushing through.

I'll try to read through everyone's posts tomorrow after my new scene is written! See you then :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Badass Books: The Westing Game

I'm going to be honest--I wish I hadn't missed the poll for this month's YA Book Club. I've been craving a re-read of The Giver, and I'm always up for diving into A Wrinkle In Time (I read this one probably once every two years). I had never heard of The Westing Game, so when that was the selected story, I was surprised. But I guess it's always good to read something new--even if it is actually quite old.


When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will...and what a will it is!

The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance

Why I read it: YA Book Club (as previously mentioned), which is hosted by the fabulous Tracey Neithercott. For this month, she selected a host of summer reading specials (an idea that I love), and participants voted. The Westing Game won.

ZOMG Yes! I found myself pleasantly surprised by this book. It's been a while since I've read an MG story, and I forgot how fun they can be--voice, character development, plot. It's different from YA or adult, but it isn't any less lovely.

The Westing Game had quite the assortment of characters. It felt reminiscent of And Then There Were None, though not as dark. I enjoyed getting to see inside of each character's head, and I had fun trying to crack the mystery. I figured out everything except the final reveal.

Meh While I liked getting in every character's head, the narrative style was a little confusing/overwhelming at times. I wasn't sure who I was reading. I know part of that was tied to the whole mystery element, but it pulled me out of the story.

Kthxbai This was a fun read, and I wish it had been assigned to me for summer reading as a kid! Thanks for the fun, light read in midst of this crazy summer!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. 

What I'm Reading: I started The Madman's Daughter last night--a YA historical fiction inspired by H.G. Well's The Island of Dr. Moreau. I'm enjoying it so far. The language feels right for the time period, and I like the characters. I know a lot of people who read this took issue with what happens to the animals, and while I saw the very first evidence of this, I'm not deep enough in to the book to have experienced much of it. It does make me a little nervous.

What I'm Writing: I accomplished my goals for this week! I finished part four and am almost at 65,000 words. I am also about halfway through Everyday Life in the 1800s. There's some great stuff here. I really recommend it for anyone writing historical fiction during the 19th century.

So while I wrapped up part four, the words themselves need a lot of help--a lot. I'm in that part of the story where everything is different than what I originally wrote, so it's like writing a first draft all over again. My goal for this week is to cull through parts three and four. While I don't need them at any sort of point of perfection, I do want to make sure everything is working before I go into parts five and six, as the climax is coming up.

What Else I've Been Up To: I reached the halfway point on my 30-day hot yoga (both bikram and heated flow) challenge this week. Today is day 17. I think it's been really good for me, but I'm starting to get to the point where my body is getting more tired and achey. My office is also moving locations this week, so I won't be around on Saturday until much later in the day for writing :) I'm crazy-excited about the new space and will be sure to post some photos!

What's Inspiring Me Now: I'm 2/3 of the way through my story, and that's huge. I'm getting into some completely uncharted territory with my WIP, and I'm excited about it. I'm also really inspired by my husband right now. He loves this story I'm working on. He's not a huge YA person, and he hasn't been sold by my other WIPs. So we've been talking through a lot of the pieces and parts of this story, and I love it. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Badass Books: Nobody But Us

Nobody But Us has been on my list for a long time, since Katy Upperman (I think?) read the ARC last year and wrote about it. I preordered it, and I'm surprised I didn't get to it sooner. This has been a crazy year.

Check out Kristin's website.
Summary (from Goodreads):


Maybe I'm too late. Maybe Zoe's dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I'll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I'm any kind of example, but we can learn together.

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can't run fast enough.


Maybe it'll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it'll take forever. I'll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don't always leave, don't always give up on you

As always, spoilers in white.

Why I Read It: For a lot of reasons. I don't read much contemporary, but the premise of this one intrigued me, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It was an easy fit for my Debut Author Challenge list. I'm glad I added it.

Still working on this list.

ZOMG Yes! From a writing perspective, so much of this story was ZOMG Yes! The characters felt so real, which is always a big thing for me. It alternates between Will and Zoe's points of view. Kristin really puts you in these characters heads.

When it came out earlier this year, I read a handful of reviews who felt the situations or characters were unbelievable, and I couldn't disagree more. Sure, the situations sucked, I mean really, everything that happened to these characters was awful, but their reactions? The way the responded to each other? The way they actually acted like teenagers, which can be beyond frustrating? Spot on.

The aspect of this book that I loved (hated?) the most was the ending. SPOILERS: There are very few tragedies among the YA books I've read over the past few years, but Nobody But Us was absolutely tragic. Will the epitome of a a tragic hero with his anger ultimately resulting in the beyond tragic ending. And honestly? I wouldn't have been satisfied with the ending any other way. I didn't want it to happen, but I didn't want most anything that happened in this story to happen. Still, it had to, and Kristin made it happen. I imagine she must've cried a lot writing this.

kthxbai If you're looking for a contemporary that doesn't fit into the typical YA mold, this is the story for you. It's worth the read.

Five chiweenies to Kristin Halbrook!