Saturday, February 6, 2016

January Wrap-Up

Books I Read

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

3.5/5

It's a fun read, especially great for a gray day when you're stuck inside with a blanket and a book. But definitely read it for the plot and not so much the characters, since the only one I really liked was Charlotte. You can read my review HERE.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

5/5

LOVE LOVE LOVE. This book was absolutely brilliant. It's one of the best graphic novels I've read in a while. If you're a fan of "Megamind," Dungeons & Dragons, and quick reads that will make you giggle, pick this one up.

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

4/5

I'd read the Delirium series a while ago, so I was excited to see how it compared. I thought her writing was fabulous in this one. The friendship between the main characters was sweet, and the whole plot reminded me a little of Cinderella, except with a more paranormal magical theme. You can read my review HERE.

Winter by Marissa Meyer 

5/5

Holy banana nut muffins, HOW CAN I EVEN. Marissa Meyer couldn't have possibly made this conclusion to her absolutely fantastic series any better. The action was nearly nonstop, all of the ships were totally adorable (especially Thress--if it were possible to hug a ship, I'd hug them), and the ending was perfect. I DEMAND A TV SERIES ADAPTATION.

Movies I Watched

"Kiki's Delivery Service"

3/5

Cute, fun, and whimsical. Out of all the anime movies I've seen, this is one of the better ones.

"Serenity"

5/5

Great ending to the TV series! Although there were more than a few times where I was totally taken by surprise with the plot twists. I wish the show lasted longer than it did, I would've been more than happy to binge-watch the Firefly gang.

"Ghostbusters"

3/5

Oh so cheesy, but it's a fun movie. The whole team reminded me of a slightly more professional version of the "Ghostfacers" from "Supernatural." I'm glad I saw it with the new female version coming out!

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail"

4/5

I loved it! I knew a lot of the references already thanks to the internet, but it's fun to have context now. Dry British humor is a favorite of mine, and this movie had plenty of it, along with plenty of ridiculousness.

"Sense & Sensibility"

 3.5/5

After a while, all of the Jane Austen stories start to sound the same to me, but I always enjoy them. The cast was great, and the story still had a few surprising twists and turns. It was a little strange to see Alan Rickman in such a different role, but he was fantastic as always.

"Moulin Rouge"

5/5

Oh. My. Gosh. This movie is nuts. It took me a good twenty minutes to figure out what the heck was going on, but I loved all of it. The music is really what made it, and the story, the production, everything was bombastic. I highly recommend it.

"Skyfall"

4/5

Another great Bond film! I won't give anything away, but there was one part in particular I totally didn't see coming at all. I haven't seen any other actors as James Bond, but Daniel Craig is definitely exactly how I imagined the character would be. The villain this time was super fun to watch just because of how insane he was.

Quotes I Wrote

Mr. Hudson had somehow managed to produce bandages out of thin air, because he wrapped my hands now, the stinging dulled by the effects of the injection coursing through my blood now. He wouldn't look at me. I think because it hurt too much. “Ms. Holmes, you try to block out your past with these things. But it doesn't work. It's a temporary solution to a more permanent problem. You have to face this kind of pain head on. It's what will keep you alive, keep you human.”
“I don't want it,” I whined, and curled up in a tighter ball on the floor. I knew I sounded exactly like a child, but I didn't have the energy to care. “Why do people bother with it?”
Mr. Hudson sighed heavily and put his hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently. “Because the love that came before makes it worth it.”
“Memories,” I whispered, eyes burning, but years of repressing them seemed to make it impossible to let them fall. “That's all I've got.”
“You can't bring her back.”
“Then what can I do?” I snapped.
“What you always do.” Mr. Hudson leaned to the side to pick up the sketchbook I'd flung across the room in my rage. Several of the pages were barely hanging on, mostly torn from the binding. He set it by my side, but I didn't take it. “Use that brain of yours and get to work.”
--Ms. Holmes

“Ms. Holmes?” Came Mr. Hudson's voice. He knocked on the door, though he didn't wait for my answer before he opened it. He came bearing tea. Of course he did. We were English, after all. How else would one deal with a difficult situation?
--Ms. Holmes

“What in the hell are you doing?” I gasped when I walked into the living room and saw the disaster before me.
The entire area was clean. Spotless. Every paper out of place, stacked into neat piles, coats hung up on the rack. It looked like he'd recruited a bloody armada of cleaning ladies.
“What does it look like?” Mr. Hudson said impatiently, adjusting the items on the fireplace so he could do another sweep with the duster. A cloud of gray flecks flew up, catching the light coming in from the window. “I'm dusting.”
“No, you're cleaning.” I spat out the word like a filthy swear, rushing over to look at the piles. “And—dear god. You've organized?!”
Mr. Hudson nodded, lips twitching ever so slightly in amusement. “The papers are alphabetically, sketchbooks by date.”
“How dare you.”
--Ms. Holmes

So Faye Moriarty had struck again.
How stupid I’d been not to consider her as a possibility right away. Not even iron doors could hold her forever, that much I knew. Because she was clever. Mad. An insane, dangerous, genius criminal.
And with just a few twists of fate, she could’ve been me.
I could’ve been her.
--Ms. Holmes 

Clicking a bullet into place, I held the gun with steady hands and aimed for her heart. “I’ll ask you one more time, where is he?”
Faye’s lips twitched, as if a laugh were bubbling up and it took every bit of her energy and concentration not to let it out. “Oh, my dear detective. You won’t shoot me.”
I raised my eyebrows. “What makes you so sure of that?”
She took a step closer, and another, until the barrel of the gun pressed right up against her chest. I inhaled sharply, held my breath.
“Because you’re me,” she whispered. She lifted one of her long, slender fingers, pressed the tip of her fingernail against my chin to tilt it up. I shuddered. “And though it’s going to fail, I know you have plans for me. Big plans, bombastic plans. Just as I have plans for you.”
--Ms. Holmes

God, this is impossible!” I raged three days after my return, throwing the pages into the air.
“You’re overthinking it,” Dawn said without even looking up from her cup of tea and the newspaper. She was the picturesque of calm whilst I clawed at the walls and tore down every paper I’d pinned up.
Dawn merely glanced sideways, continuing to stroke the cat that had curled up at her side. “Watch the pins, Astrid. Sir Mittens could choke.”
I muttered something about how it might be a good thing. Dawn threw a pencil at me.
--Ms. Holmes

“It just doesn’t make sense. What’s the most obvious place? Where would he hide? Where would Faye hide him? Are you going to help me with this or do I need to think of it all on my own?”
Dawn set the newspaper by her side and held up her hands in surrender. “Usually when I try to help you end up shushing me. I didn’t think you needed me for this.”
I blinked at her. “Of course I need you, you’re my partner. Even if you’re not a genius like I am, you help me think things through. Usually anything you think of is too dull and obvious to be true, but it looks like in this case that’s exactly what I need. I’m too well trained to be obvious, my mind goes right past those things to what’s important.”
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted.”
“Maybe a bit of a both.”
“Good plan.”
--Ms. Holmes

“Why didn't you tell anyone?”
“No one listened.”
He folds his hands in his lap, unimpressed by my answer. It's the truth, though. But he knows that already. The light attached to the metal crown I wear is still green.
It was just a job; three years of watching her through that screen.
“And you killed her?”
I press my fingernails into my legs. “Yes.”
“Why?”
“I didn't have a choice.”
“You always have a choice.”
I pull against my restraints, cold metal digging into my chest, until I can rest my elbows on the table in order to lean closer to him. I am calm, even though inside I am fire.
“How much time do you have?”
He sets his NetScreen on the table and stares at me without blinking. “All the time in the world.”
“Then let me tell you a story.”
--So far untitled sci-fi story . . .

Obsessions I Acquired

Nothing this much, unless you count my continued obsession with "Castle." It just keeps getting better!! The meta humor and "Firefly" references and edge-of-your-seat mysteries keep you glued to the screen. My mom has even started watching bits here and there when she's in the same room as me just because it's so easy to get sucked into.

Oh wait, I lied! This song has been on repeat ever since I watched the "Castle" episode it was featured on. It's especially cool because one of the actors is actually singing in it.

Picture of the Month

A few of my writer friends I met at camp last year and I went to an Escape Room and it was awesome. And yes, that is me in a deerstalker.

How was your January?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

11 Books as Taylor Swift Songs

To those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, it won't come as a surprise to you that I love Taylor Swift. I love every single song to bits and pieces and have all the lyrics memorized. I can even listen to a song and remember what book I was writing or what road trip I was on when I had that particular song on repeat. (For example, I got several hand cramps from filling up an entire notebook with chapters from The Sorceress on a long car ride down to Florida while listening to "Eyes Open.")

So I thought it'd be fun to match up a TS song to books most of you have probably read. Listen to them yourself and see what you think!

1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - "Tied Together With a Smile"


Hold on, baby, you're losing it
The water's high, you're jumping into it
And letting go... and no one knows
That you cry, but you don't tell anyone
That you might not be the golden one
And you're tied together with a smile
But you're coming undone




All I hear when I listen to this song now is Violet talking about Finch . . . It just fits so perfectly with everything that's going on with him from about the middle to the end (which I won't reveal because spoilers!!). Gah, so many feels!

2. Cress by Marissa Meyer - "Fearless"



I wonder if you know
I'm trying so hard not to get caught up now
But you're just so cool
Run your hands through your hair
Absent-mindedly making me want you
And I don't know how it gets better than this
You take my hand and drag me head first
Fearless

Tell me this isn't perfect for Cress and Thorne. I dare you. Everything about this song screams them, even the lyrics about driving down the road with her in the passenger seat could describe those two in the Rampion going about their adventures in space and being adorable together. (If you can't tell, I ship them just the tiniest bit . . . if the tiniest bit means a lot.)

3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - "Change"



So we’ve been outnumbered
Raided and now cornered
It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair
We’re getting stronger now
Find things they never found
They might be bigger
But we’re faster and never scared
You can walk away, say we don’t need this
But there’s something in your eyes says we can beat this
'Cause these things will change
Can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
This revolution, the time will come
For us to finally win

Yeah, this song just screams dystopian books but Mockingjay popped into my head first. As far as trilogies go, Mockingjay was one of the better series finales upon rereading it. The song may be a liiittle too upbeat for how dark it is, but we all need some hope while reading it. :P

4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio - "Mean"



You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
You, have knocked me off my feet again,
Got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails
On a chalk board, calling me out when I'm wounded
You, picking on the weaker man

Auggie had to deal with a lot of bullies in his time at school, and I think this song both describes how hard it was to deal with it, but how he worked to build himself up and rise above it. I love this book, and if you haven't read it yet you should pick it up right now. It's one of the best middle-grades you will ever read.

5. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - "Enchanted"


There I was again tonight
Forcing laughter, faking smiles
Same old tired lonely place
Walls of insincerity,
Shifting eyes and vacancy
Vanished when I saw your face
All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you


All I can think about when I hear the first verse of this song is Lilac and Tarver aboard Icarus at the beginning of the book. And then of course the rest of the song can be used to describe their relationship later on. It's always fun to say "I ship it" with these two, because they literally met on a ship and it can't get more perfect than that. ;)

6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - "Ours"


So don't you worry your pretty little mind
People throw rocks at things that shine
And life makes love look hard
The stakes are high, the water's rough
But this love is ours

This is definitely Park to Eleanor. This song is super simple, too, with just a couple instruments accompanying the melody, just like the book. "Ours" is all about not listening to what others say about you and loving each other for the people they are. It totally fits!

7. The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill - "Sweeter Than Fiction"


There you'll stand, ten feet tall
I will say, "I knew it all along."
Your eyes–wider than distance
This life–sweeter than fiction

This was one of the first match-ups I had in mind when I started writing this post! The song describes the relationship between Ellie and her true friends and family, the ones who are supportive of her and her dreams of becoming an author. (Plus, I couldn't pass up the chance to pair a song with the lyrics "sweeter than fiction" with a book about a writer named Ellie Sweet).

8. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury - "Treacherous"


This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is treacherous
And I, I, I like it
It's incredibly dangerous for a genie and a human to fall in love, and that's exactly what's happening in this book. Zahra is determined not to let anything happen and endanger Aladdin, but it might not be enough. And thus we have "Treacherous" as the theme song.
9. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater - "Wildest Dreams"
  
I can see the end as it begins
My one condition is
Say you'll remember me
Standing in a nice dress,
Staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you'll see me again
Even if it's just in your
Wildest dreams
Something about this song has always seemed like Sam and Grace to me. They both know their relationship can't last once the winter comes, but they won't stop hoping. And even if all they have left are memories, it'll all be worth it.

10. A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron - "This Love"


This love is good, this love is bad
This love is alive back from the dead
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me
Tossing, turning, struggled through the night with someone new
And I could go on and on, on and on
Lantern burning, flickered in my mind for only you
But you're still gone, gone, gone




This has to be one of the saddest/sweetest books I've ever read. It's about a dog named Buddy who finds a way to find his owner every time he dies and is reincarnated as another dog. Of course the owner has no clue, but there's always something special about the dog she finds. So many feels crammed into one book. But anyways, the lyrics "these hands had to let it go free and this love came back to me" were what sold me on it. (I can't find a good enough video on YouTube for the song that has decent audio, unfortunately, but it's a fabulous song!)

11. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - "Wonderland"
Flashing lights and we, took a wrong turn and we
Fell down the rabbit hole
You held on tight to me
'Cause nothing's as it seems
Spinning out of control
Didn't they tell us don't rush into things
Didn't you flash your green eyes at me
Haven't you heard what becomes of curious minds
Ooh didn't it all seem new and exciting
I felt your arms twisting around me
I should've slept with one eye opened at night
We found wonderland
You and I got lost in it
And we pretended it could last forever

This is definitely a series I need to go back to, because I loved it when I was reading it. Something about both the book and the song struck me as magical and dangerous, and it fit together so well I can't think about any other book now when I listen to the song. (I could only find covers on YouTube of this song, too, but if you have any other way to listen to it, definitely do! It's one of my favorites from the "1989" album.)

Your turn! What songs, Taylor Swift or otherwise, would you match up with some of your favorite books? What are your favorite musical artists? Leave a comment!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Books I Can't Wait to Read in 2016

Ohhh my God, 2016 looks like a fabulous year for YA! As Cait and several other bloggers predicted, fantasy is the genre that's making a comeback! I am so very pleased about this and can't wait to dive into some of these epic stories. Which ones am I most excited about? Here are my top picks:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard


On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


Why I'm excited: Epic fantasy and witches and adventure! And it's been getting fabulous reviews. Also because I recently acquired a hard copy as a surprise a few days ago (which is where I first learned about it) and can't wait to start it. (Also Sarah J. Maas has a blurb on the cover, so you know, it has to be good.)

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

 
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.


Why I'm excited: Admittedly, this is one I've already read! BUT. I'm still super excited for the rest of the book world to discover how awesome it is. I haven't read many (actually any) Aladdin retellings, but this one was fantastic. (Although I did like the cover on the ARC better than the one it has now . . .)

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.


Why I'm excited: Two words: TIME TRAVEL. One of the main characters is a violinist, too! Epic journeys and probably romance? All of this is a recipe for a flailing fest.



Wink, Poppy, Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke


Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.


Why I'm excited: When I was going through the box of ARCs at my local bookstore, the first thing I read was "for fans of The Raven Boys and We Were Liars." I snatched it up right then. I didn't even read the rest of the description on the back until I got home, but when I did my excitement only grew. It looks like it has the potential to be one of those books that has beautiful writing that will make it impossible to put down.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.


Why I'm excited: This looks pretty heavy, but a book that only covers 54 minutes should be super interesting. It doesn't leave a whole lot of time for things like character development (especially with four different perspectives), but I bet it'll keep my attention without any problems!

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
--
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...


Why I'm excited: BECAUSE MARISSA MEYER. We get more Lunar Chronicles stories?!?! YES PLEASE. I can't even begin to express how pumped I am to get a story about the captain as a thirteen-year-old boy aboard the Rampion. (Also that cover is GORGEOUS, as usual.)

Heartless by Marissa Meyer


Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


Why I'm excited: Again . . . MARISSA MEYER. She can take any and every fairy tale in existence and snap her fingers and POOF, instant bestseller! I need her to write a Hansel and Gretel story now. Admittedly, I am not a fan of this cover and usually hers are beautiful, but PFFT. Small potatoes. This book is going to be amazing, I can smell the magic in the air already. (It smells like baking cookies, by the way, as all magic should.)

The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry



Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.


Why I'm excited: Look at that cover!! That cover is perfect. I may or may not have added it on my to-read shelf before actually reading the description. But it doesn't matter because gahhh, it looks so good! I don't even know what to think about it other than I need to read it right now at this very moment.

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira


In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?



Why I'm excited: This just looks like a fun, fluffy, summer beach read. If I'm ever in the mood for a Jennifer E. Smith type of book, this is one I'll go to, for sure. Plus, the main character is a bookish fangirl, which we can all relate to!

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.


Why I'm excited: Yay for minimalist covers! I haven't read any YA novels about being gender fluid (except for Every Day by David Levithan, which maybe counts? Kind of?), so I'm excited to be more exposed to it. And I adore books about bloggers because I can relate to a lot of it.


In Real Life by Jessica Love



Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah's surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.


Why I'm excited: (ALL THE COVER LOVE THIS YEAR, APPARENTLY.) Online relationships are something bloggers deal with alllll the time, but YA novels don't always cover it. This should be interesting! This book is also super short at only 240 pages, and I like short books sometimes. My prediction is that the next time I'm dealing with a book hangover, this will be the one that beats it.

Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse

Five teens.
Five futures.
Two worlds.
One ending.

One year from now, Dylan develops a sixth sense that allows him to glimpse another world.

Ten years from now, Brixney must get more hits on her social media feed or risk being stuck in a debtors' colony.

Thirty years from now, Epony scrubs her entire online profile from the web and goes “High Concept.”

Sixty years from now, Reef struggles to survive in a city turned virtual gameboard.

And more than a hundred years from now, Quinn uncovers the alarming secret that links them all.

Five people, divided by time, will determine the fate of us all. These are stories of a world bent on destroying itself, and of the alternate world that might be its savior--unless it's too late.


Why I'm excited: Can we just say WHOA?! (The cover. THE COVER.) But that description!! I've never seen anything like this. I'm so excited to see what in the world this is book is going to be.

What books are you looking forward to reading this year? Leave a comment! 

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Study in Charlotte (a book review)

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro



Expected publication: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 336

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.


Goodreads

I LOVE retellings, and Sherlock Holmes has been a recent obsession of mine over the past couple years. So naturally the super clever title and offbeat cover caused me to snatch this ARC up off the shelf like the greedy little bookworm that I am.

Overall, I thought the story was very good. It took me maybe forty, fifty pages to really get into it, but after that I didn't feel like the action lagged at all. Even if they weren't running through the streets to chase someone down, I was completely entertained.

I loved Charlotte's character, too. She felt like a descendant of Sherlock Holmes, down to her speech pattern, but she wasn't a copycat. She had a drug addiction, just like Sherlock, and played the violin beautifully. But she was also more emotional, I think. She got more attached to people, even though she viewed it as a "weakness," but it just made her more endearing. I found myself actually cringing every time I thought she was in danger.

This book was a mystery that didn't cut any corners and, though it was somewhat confusing, made total sense once you got to the big reveal. Well . . . I had to take a minute and reread once or twice to make sure it completely sank in, but then it made sense. It was as confusing as you'd expect a Sherlock Holmes story to be. I didn't feel like the author cheated me out of something by tossing me all these red herrings.

The only parts of the story that didn't sit right with me were 1. Jamie's character, 2. A side plot that felt thrown in, and 3. The matter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Let me expand on these.

Jamie was bland! I didn't dislike him, per se, but . . . if it hadn't been for Charlotte, I wouldn't have really been able to root for him, either. He didn't have much of a personality, it was like his entire character depended on his relationship with Charlotte. I usually have a really hard time when I can't connect with the main character in some way, but the story mostly made up for it.

That side plot . . . *headdesks repeatedly* What even?! I was SO CONFUSED when I realized what had happened, and even then it took me several pages to recover from it. It didn't have anything to do with the main story at all! It felt like one of those bombs an author drops during NaNoWriMo just for the sake of bumping up her word count by a couple thousand words, and then forgot to edit out when sending the book in for publication. (For those of you who have read the book, I hope you know what side plot I'm talking about, because I'm dying to talk about it with someone. Was it just me and I totally missed something about it, or did anyone else agree?)

Apparently Cait and I had the same thoughts with this one, but toward the beginning of the book, you find out that the Sherlock Holmes stories are true and that Holmes and Watson were real people. So far so good, right? But then they go on to mention that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was still the one who wrote the books, when during every other part of the story it would seem like John Watson did . . . huh??


And they NEVER EXPLAIN how this makes sense. Not a huge deal, but still something I thought should've been worked out more.

So to sum it up, it's a fun read, especially great for a gray day when you're stuck inside with a blanket and a book. But definitely read it for the plot and not so much the characters, since the only one I really liked was Charlotte.


Have you read A Study in Charlotte? What did you think? And what are your favorite retellings, Sherlock Holmes or otherwise? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Favorite "Platoniships" and Why it Should Be a Word

Shipping is the best. It's one of my favorite things to do while fangirling over my favorite fandoms. But all too often we focus on the romantic ships and forget the other, just as important relationships. Don't get me wrong, I love my adorable OTPs as much as the next fangirl, but what about the friendships? I've been calling these "platoniships," and I have just as many of these ships as I do my romantic ones, if not more. A few examples . . .

Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter series

I so wish I could find an illustration of these three by Jim Kay, because his drawings are GORGEOUS.
This trio was the perfect balance of mischief and heroism. Sure they broke the rules sometimes, but you always, always rooted for them. And no matter how often any combination of the three fought, they stuck together when it mattered most. Harry wouldn't have been able to do 90% of the things he did without help from the other two. Teamwork at its finest!

The Marauders from the Harry Potter series


OKAY BUT LOOK AT HOW CUTE LUPIN IS WITH HIS CHOCOLATE
I. Love. These. Guys. So many fan-fiction possibilities with these four. And before, you know, Peter betrayed everyone, they were the best friends any of them could've asked for. James, Sirius, and Peter all broke the law and became unregistered animagi just so Remus wouldn't have to be alone! If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Calvin and Hobbes from the Calvin and Hobbes series

These two may be at the top of my list. Even looking for a picture was difficult because there were so many different ways to portray them! I could've gone for sweet, silly, fun, etc. Ultimately I decided on this one, because I think at the heart of it, Calvin and Hobbes were about laughter. They wanted to goof off and smile and imagine whole new worlds they could have a blast in. This is my favorite comic strip series ever for that reason.

The Doctor and Donna from "Doctor Who"


How awesome are Ten and Donna?! The answer is SO AWESOME. They're hysterical, fun, sassy, gutsy, and make a fabulous team. Not to mention a couple of the kindest hearts to ever walk the Whovian earth. The Doctor showed Donna wonders and Donna made the Doctor more human in the best way. They had some of the best chemistry any two people have had on TV ever. I'm still so sad they only lasted a season.

Sherlock and John from "Sherlock"


THESE TWO. However you ship it, you can't deny that they're brilliant together. Solving murders and giggling at the crime scenes while they do it? It's the perfect blend of drama and humor. And can we talk about how much Sherlock has grown over the seasons thanks to John's friendship? (And John because of Sherlock's, for that matter!) Yay for character development!

Sam and Dean from "Supernatural"



Who says siblings can't be friends? And these brothers have one of the BEST sibling relationships I have ever seen in fiction ever. EVER, I TELL YOU. Sam and Dean behave just like normal siblings would (teasing each other, pulling pranks, getting into heated debates about music and other pop culture stuff, etc.), and they would literally sacrifice themselves for the other in a heartbeat. Eleven seasons of this show and it's still going strong, all because of them.

Charlie and Dean from "Supernatural"



Dean once described Charlie as "the little sister he never wanted," and I think that's the perfect way to sum up their friendship. He's definitely an older brother figure to her, and that's exactly what Charlie needed in her life. After all the pain and loneliness she went through, Dean became her rock. And not only have they shared some sweet moments, but plenty of fun ones, too. (Who can forget the famous "Walking On Sunshine" montage?)

Lorelai and Rory from "Gilmore Girls"


I totally think kids can be friends with their parents, and Lorelai and Rory are proof of that. They're supportive of the dreams of the other, they encourage and inspire each other, and they're so close they can practically finish each other's sentences. And when they do talk, it's hard to get a word in edgewise. The dialogue is constantly fast-paced. The wit is unreal. Watching them interact on screen is addictive. It's like opening a package of M&M's and just eating one. Which is absurd, because you never eat just one. You have to eat the entire thing, clearly. Watching a few minutes isn't enough to get your Gilmore fix. You need to watch an entire episode (or three).

Chandler and Joey from "Friends"

And for those of you who haven't watched "Friends," yes, yes they are riding on a statue of a dog.
Ah, Chandler and Joey. Once of the best TV bromances. Watching them crack each other up and go through life together is a joy. Most of my favorite scenes involve the two of them getting into all kinds of mayhem. ("What kind of scary ass clowns came to your birthday?") Could they BE anymore awesome?

Scott and Stiles from "Teen Wolf"


Out of all the possible ships, romantic or otherwise, in this show, Scott and Stiles are my favorite. They remind me a lot of Chandler and Joey in some ways, Stiles being the sarcastic one, although Scott is wayyy smarter than Joey. The unconditional support and friendship they have for each other gives me all the feels. I can never have too much of them in a single episode.

Cinder and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles


Ermahgerd, I can't even with these two!!! Thorne is a fabulous Han Solo/Captain Jack Harkness/Dean Winchester type, the perfect blend of cockiness and sarcastic humor (even though everybody knows he's a total teddy bear on the inside). Cinder is smart and impatient and can totally kick butt in any situation. Watching the two of them collide and go from bickering to . . . well, more bickering has been one of the best parts of the entire series. I love them. I need more. Now.

Rey and Finn from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"


This is the best picture I could find considering how new the movie is.
Can I get a round of applause for brother-sister type friendships? Because that's exactly what this one is, in my mind. Banter and teamwork and protectiveness, FTW! I'm sooo freaking excited to see more of them in future movies. (And BB-8, of course, who's just a little ball of adorable sunshine.)

Parker and Hardison from "Leverage"


Parker and Hardison are a tentative addition since I'm only in the middle of season one and Cait has suggested I might end up "shippy shipping" them (her awesome words). But for now, how sweet are they together?! Apparently I'm a sucker for brother-sister friendships. Parker deserves all the hugs, and Hardison has the best ridiculous scenes. I love it so much.

Your turn! What are you favorite platoniships? Leave a comment! :)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

December Wrap-Up/End of the Year Wrap-Up

December Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

4/5

I've never read any Arabian Nights retellings, so I don't have anything to compare this one to, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a Throne of Glass feel to it, especially with the protagonist being a conflicted sort of heroine in the sense that she's not completely good (think lawful neutral). Or at least you think so. The author does a good job of making you wonder if this is a character you should root for or not for a sizable portion of the book, but ultimately makes you feel sorry for her. All of the characters are complex and the story is a joy to read. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the Throne of Glass series or An Ember In the Ashes. It's a great, action-packed story!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

3.5

This is my least favorite Rainbow Rowell book so far, but because Rainbow is a freaking genius, even my least favorite by her is really good. Her dialogue is fabulous, as always, and the plot moved at a fairly good pace. But for some reason her characters just . . . didn't sit right with me. Usually I love her characters, but these bugged me more than usual. I wasn't a fan of Neal, or Georgie a lot of the time. I did like Seth, and if it weren't for Georgie's kids, I would've rooted for her and him. But it was still a good story with an interesting premise.

Movies I Watched

"Serendipity"

4/5

A fun movie for the holiday season! I love simple romantic comedies like this one. It reminded me of "Sleepless In Seattle" at some parts. John Cusack is great, too.

"America's Sweethearts"

3.5/5

This wasn't any grand movie, just pure fun. Some of it was pure ridiculousness, but the whole thing made me laugh.

"A Lot Like Love" 

4/5

I LOVE INDIE MOVIES. The soundtrack, the characters, the story, the simplicity, all of it was so good. It had a "What If" kind of feel.

"The Force Awakens"

5/5

Hands down the best Star Wars movie I've ever seen. It felt like the original stories, but not so cheesy and with better acting! The new characters were fabulous, the cameos were well done, and I liked the throwbacks. But I'm so excited to see more of Rey and BB-8 and Finn and Po and Kylo Ren and--everyone, really. There was girl power and humor and adventure and plot twists every minute. I can't believe I have to wait so long for the next one!

"Joy"

4/5

Not my favorite Jennifer Lawrence film (I much prefer her in The Hunger Games or Silver Linings Playbook), but she's still a fantastic actress. The story was simple and surprisingly entertaining for the seemingly mundane plot. It was definitely quirky. I liked it.

Quotes I Wrote

"What does one who dislikes Imagine Dragons listen to?"Joel glanced up at her, fidgeting with his hands. "Metallica?"
She laughed. Loudly. Joel blushed under the sound, though he liked the way it sounded. It was musical.
"I'm sorry," Laurel said a few seconds later, once she'd caught her breath. She shoved him playfully, Joel's skin tingling where she touched him. "I just didn't expect that answer from you. You don't seem like the Metallica type."
"As opposed to . . . ?" He trailed off, raising his eyebrows.
Laurel shrugged. "Fleetwood Mac? Indigo Girls?"
"Taylor Swift?" Michael suggested as he smirked at Joel in the rearview mirror.
"Not helpful, man," Joel shot back.
--Dust Settles

(A little explanation about this next one: It's a short story where the characters are living in a slightly futuristic Earth. A watch has been invented, but it's not your standard watch. Anyone who purchases one can put it on and see, down to the second, when they're going to meet their soulmate. It's the perfect way to find true love.)

I've still got two years on mine. Well . . ." She looked at her watch. "Two years, seven months, eighteen days, thirteen hours, and eleven minutes."
"You're lucky then," Joel said with what he hoped was a sincere smile. He was happy she had a watch . . . he was. And the little twinge of jealousy he felt for the person she'd meet when her timer hit zero was so slight, he could push it away for now. "You don't have much longer to wait."
"Nah," Laurel said quietly, still rubbing her thumb along the smooth edges of the railing. "I don't know if lucky's the word I'd use. I almost didn't buy one, you know. But my parents bought me one as a going away present before I came to college, so I didn't really have a choice."
"Why didn't you want one?"
Laurel frowned as if she were trying to remember something that was on the tip of her tongue, then straightened up and leaned against the railing so her back was to the yard. "I don't know. It's hard to put my finger on one thing, exactly. I mean, I never thought they actually worked, because they were so new and seemed too good to be true. I just don't think soulmates can be that easy. Love is special because it's difficult and because you have to work at it to make it last. It's someone you find by chance, someone you can fall for slowly and romantically. It shouldn't be instant. You have to find someone who gets to know you and your flaws and is willing to get a little messy in order to get the chance to keep you close. Love should be complicated. That's why finally finding it is so amazing."
--Dust Settles

"I've done some things. Bad things."
"So have I."
"And yet you let me stay here."
"Jordan lets me stay."
Melody shook her head a little and curled up into a tighter ball, digging her elbows into her stomach and pinning her arms against her chest with her bent knees. "It hurts," she whispered. "All of it hurts. How do you cope with it?"
"I remember," Lila spoke softly, her heart aching for Melody. "And I cry. And then I try to let it go."
"Does it work?"
Lila bit her lip. "Sometimes."
"And what if it doesn't?"
"Then you learn to carry on anyway. Because you have to. Because it's survival."
--'Til the Last Star Dies

Melody gazed with parted lips, wide eyes drinking in every detail. Lila didn't bother to look around. She'd been here a thousand times already, and even though cities like this always had something new to explore, she would much rather explore the girl in front of her instead. She had curves and edges and roads less traveled just like any place in the world, and she was so alive. There was a sparkle in her eyes, some life and laughter still there in those emerald green oases. Lila wondered if her own eyes held that kind of light. But no, light had died long ago, when she pulled away from Jordan, her rock, her best friend.
But maybe Melody could light a match, spark that flame again.
--'Til the Last Star Dies

Obsessions I Acquired

"Castle" - Because Nathan Fillion. And sassy detectives. And witty writers. And humor and murder and father-daughter relationships. I'm almost done with the second season, but I loved it from the very first episode. Go watch it!

"Leverage" -THE HEISTS. THE CHARACTERS. I'm not even halfway through season one and I'm in looove. The dynamic of the main five characters are what make the show, though. It's so good.

Picture of the Month

Meeting my friend Charlie at the train station when she came to visit during her winter break.

How was your December?

End of the Year Wrap-Up

It's time to say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016! But before we do, I'd like to take a look at the past year.

Top 15 books

(In no particular order):

1. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (Okay, this one is definitely #1, though. Best book I read all year, hands down.)
2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
3. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
4. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
5. I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
8. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
9. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
10. Looking For Alaska by John Green
11. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
12. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
13. The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
14. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
15. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Special blogging friends from 2015 (limit to 3)

First of all, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has ever e-mailed me/tweeted at me/left a comment on my blog this past year. You guys make blogging worth it. I love getting to know you and talking books, movies, and all things fangirl. Some of my best friends live halfway across the world, and thanks to the wonderful internet, I get to meet all of you. I couldn't possibly list all of the awesome people I've interacted with over the past year, but I would like to give these three a special shout out.

Carly @ Books and Etc.

Carly is great! Fangirling with her and exchanging comments filled with caps and emoticons has been so much fun. (Seriously, she leaves some of the best comments ever.)

John Hansen

Okay, so technically I didn't meet John this year, but I feel like I got to know him even better. His tweets and Facebook statuses never fail to make me smile, his taste in books and movies are really similar to mine, and even though he doesn't have a blog, he's one of my favorite online people.

All of my Tumblr friends

I say friends, but really they're family. I joined a Supernatural chatroom on Tumblr on a whim this past March expecting to find a couple hours of fun discussion, but I ended up with ten sisters. I can't even put into words how amazing they've been over the past year. We've laughed (a lot, and hysterically) and cried together, and I even met up with one of them, Charlie, a few times. My parents and a few of the girls surprised me this Christmas with one of the best presents I could ever ask for. Four of them are flying out or coming by train from different states to celebrate my sixteenth birthday with me this year, and I'm so over the moon excited. And two of them are coming back this July to go to a writer's camp with me! It's not exaggerating to say we talk every day. It just goes to show you how fabulous the internet and different fandoms can be.

New obsessions

1. Tumblr/fan-fiction
2. "Broadchurch"
3. "Jane the Virgin"
4. "Castle"
5. "The 100"
6. Playing the guitar/ukulele (surprisingly easy to teach yourself!)
7. My various book boards on Pinterest
8. This video.
9. Graphic design (by using Picmonkey, mostly)/fanart (I'm grouping these together since they both have to do with art and I really wanted to be able to fit 15 new obsessions exactly in this list . . . success!)
10. ALSO THIS VIDEO aka the video I show everyone when trying to convince them to watch "Supernatural."
11. "Supernatural Parody" by the Hillywood Show I was dying from laughing so hard the first time I saw this.
12."Veronica Mars"
13. "Firefly"
14. "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog"
15. "Les Misérables"


 

Most played songs

"We Used to Be Friends" - The Dandy Warhols
"World On Fire" - Les Friction
"Who Are You Really" and "We Must Be Killers" - Mikky Ekko
"Black Sheep" and "Kill of the Night" - Gin Wigmore
"Just a Little Bit" - Kids of 88
"Once Upon a Dream" and "Young and Beautiful" - Lana Del Ray
"Eskimo," "Gamma Ray," "Worlds Collide," and "She Waits" - Louden Swain
"Pocketful of Poetry," "All About Your Heart," "California," and "Anchor" - Mindy Gledhill
"Jupiter," "Neptune," and "Turning Page" - Sleeping At Last
All of the music from "Les Misérables"
All of the music from "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog"
"Stop, I'm Already Dead" - Deadboy & the Elephantmen
All of the music from the "Fan-Fiction" episode of "Supernatural"
"Lily's Theme" - Alexandre Desplat
"Favourite Colour" - Carly Rae Jepsen
"Home" - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
"Ex's and Oh's" - Elle King
"Slip" - Elliot Moss
"More Than Words" - Extreme
"Kiss the Girl," "That's What's Up," and "Ho Hey" - Lennon and Maisy
"Dog Days Are Over" and "Breath of Life" - Florence + The Machine
"Budapest" - George Ezra
"Kaleidoscope," "End of the World," "All I Want Is Love," "Hold Each Other," and "Oasis" - A Great Big World
"Immortals" - Fallout Boy
"Jackie and Wilson," "Someone New," "In a Week," "Work Song," and "Like Real People Do" - Hozier
"Can't Help Falling In Love" - Ingrid Michaelson
"Can't Help Falling In Love" - 21 Pilots
Anything by James Bay
Anything by Jasmine Thompson
"Until We Get There" - Lucius
"Anything Could Happen" and "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
Anything by M83
"Terrible Things" - Mayday Parade
"Like I'm Gonna Lose You" - Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend
"Stolen Dance" - Milky Chance
"Try Again" - Miranda Dodson
"Pour Some Sugar On Me" - Def Leppard
"Home Sweet Home" - Mötley Crüe
"Sister Christian" - Night Ranger
All of the music from "Once"
"Hold On" - Echoes de Luxe
"Writing's on the Wall" - Sam Smith
"Kiss Me" and "There She Goes" - Sixpence None the Richer
"She's So High" - Tal Bachman
"Can't Pretend" and "Another Love" - Tom Odell
"Riptide" and "Best That I Can" - Vance Joy
"Shut Up and Dance" - Walk the Moon
"The Great Escape" - P!nk
All of the music from Glee
"People Will Say We're In Love" from "Oklahoma!"

Strangest/Coolest Google search used to find my blog

"award for patience" (I know the only reason I came up as a result for this search term is because I accepted a blog award having to do with patience, but I still find it ironic considering I am THE MOST IMPATIENT PERSON EVER.)

Five most popular blog posts

1. "7 Books to Read If You Like Doctor Who"
2. "An Ember In the Ashes (a book review)"
3. "Beautiful People Linkup--April"
4. "Dear OTP (TCWT Blog Chain)"
5. "Why 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is Actually Extremely Creepy and Stalkerish"

Three big things that happened in 2015

1. I met some of my best friends and adopted family on Tumblr.
2. I went to my first overnight writer's camp.
3. I did a summer internship at my local bookstore, Aaron's Books. 

EDIT: I don't know how in the world I forgot to include this, but our family hosted two foreign exchange students this year, a girl from France and a boy from Spain. We had a BLAST. My brother, parents, and I all went to a family reunion on my dad's side in California, too! I loved getting to see everyone again, and meet some of my cousins for the first time. :)

Image from this year

One of my best friends and honorary big sister, Charlie, and me. (I don't tend to selfie well when I'm taking the picture, so thank you, Charlie, for taking this one!)
Favorite quotes from the #1. best book read this year

Which is, as you already know, undoubtedly You're Never Weird On the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day.

“But the heart of my story is that the world opened up for me once I decided to embrace who I am—unapologetically. My story demonstrates that there’s no better time in history to have a dream and be able to reach an audience with your art. Or just be as weird as you want to be and not have to be ashamed. That lesson’s just as legit.”

“No matter how lonely and isolated and starved for connection you are, there’s always the possibility in the online world that you can find a place to be accepted, or discover a friendship that’s started with the smallest of interests but could last a lifetime.”

“Do the work you love. And love yourself.”

“Your qualification for finding a place to belong is enthusiasm and passion, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. No one should feel lonely or embarrassed about liking something.”

“Because if you can’t be your own weird self on the internet, where can you be? And what would be the point?”

“A lot of people mock fandom and fan-fiction, like it's lazy to base your own creativity and passion on someone else's work. But some of us need a stepping-stone to start. What's wrong with finding joy in making something, regardless of the inspiration?”

“The creative process isn’t easy. It’s more like a wobbly, drunken journey down a very steep and scary hill, not knowing if there’s a sheer cliff at the end of it all. But it’s worth the journey, I promise.”

“Knowing yourself is life's eternal homework.”

“But I AM saying don’t chase perfection for perfection’s sake, or for anyone else’s sake at all. If you strive for something, make sure it’s for the right reasons. And if you fail, that will be a better lesson for you than any success you’ll ever have. Because you learn a lot from screwing up.”

Favorite quotes

These definitely sum up 2015 for me.




2015 in one word

Exciting.

Goals for 2016

Writing:

1. Get an agent. (Hopefully for Beneath the Moon and Stars!)

2. Finish Ms. Holmes. (I'm aiming for another 30,000-50,000 words.)

3. Finish 'Til the Last Star Dies. (I'm guessing this will end up being around 100,000 words.)

4. Write more short stories to submit to contests. (I'm really liking writing them more than I used to!)

5. Work on my handwriting. (It's already pretty good when I write for other people, but I need to practice when writing notes to myself so I can actually read them later. :P)

6. Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. (Just a few more meetings at my writer's group and I think I'll have it.)

7. Blog more. (My blogging fell a little behind this past year, but I'm hoping to post at least 1-2 times a week.)

Reading:

1. Read one book a week. (My reading was also not the best last year--I blame the black hole of binge-watching--but a book a week, even with how long the books I read tend to be, is completely reasonable.)

2. Finish Les Misérables. (I started it but, surprise surprise, got distracted. I'm reading the abridged version to start. :P)

3. Finish A Game of Thrones. (Shouldn't take me too long as I'm already 300 pages in and really enjoying it!)

Other:

1. Say "no" to more. (I tend to say yes to a lot of activities and social gatherings even if I don't really want to because I feel like I have to, but I'm going to work on saying no to more of it. I need time to write and read and recharge, having discovered this past year that I'm an introvert and what that really means, as opposed to what I'd been wrongly told it meant, which was shy and antisocial. I'm not shy--even though I detest small talk and the awkward first meetings that generally happens with most people--and I'm definitely not antisocial. I just need alone time. I hate that I'd been told over and over again by society that being introverted was some kind of negative thing, because I think recognizing this about myself earlier could've done me loads of good.)

2. Procrastinate less. (I feel like each year I make progress with this one, but I'm going to keep putting it on my list of goals for the year to improve even more!)

3. Dance more. (I love music and I love dancing--when I actually have a routine I can follow--so there will be lots of "Just Dance" playing happening in the Foley household.)

4. Be on my phone less. (I got a cell phone this past summer, and while I hardly ever actually use it to call people, I text. A lot. Most of my friends are far away, and even the friends that are close by I don't see as often as I would if I were in school, so my phone becomes my main way to contact them. But it can easily go from one or two texts to entire conversations with seven different people at once. It's my guilty pleasure, but also one I have to be super careful to control. I think this is the main reason I didn't read or blog as much as I would've liked this past year, so in 2016, my cell phone is going to remain tucked away upstairs for the majority of the day. I'll give myself breaks to check it, but I don't want to get sucked into it.)

5. Exercise more. (I did a little more this past year, but I think I can step it up even more this year. I'm thinking about giving myself the rule that I can't watch any of my binge-watching pleasures unless I'm doing some form of exercise.)

6. Eat pesco vegetarian, or straight up vegetarian, as much as possible. (I love fish, so this shouldn't be a problem.)

7. Eat less sugar. (I always try to eat even less than I already do, which really isn't much to begin with.)

8. Journal once a week. (My general "journal more" goals haven't worked, so each Sunday night I'm going to try writing a little bit, just to have something I can look back on years later.)

9. Learn basic sign language. (I want to learn different languages, and sign language just looks like so much fun.)

10. Learn basic French. (Mostly because I think the language is so pretty.)

11. Take more pictures. (Simple enough, but easy to forget when you're having so much fun just hanging out with your friends! But I want to try to take more with them when I'm out and about.)

Goals for 2015 that I've accomplished

Writing:

1. Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. (I'm calling this one a success, even if it isn't finished, because I did everything that I could without my critique partners' advice. Now that I've gotten responses from everyone, I can continue and edit even more!)

2. Finish writing August Knight and the Sword of Gold. (Done! Edits will come later.)

3. Send Flightless Birds to my CPs/Beta readers. (Also done. My critique partners were absolutely awesome with this one, considering how long it was at about 500 pages.)

4. Try screenwriting. (I wrote a few scenes of fan-fiction pilot for a possible "Supernatural" spinoff series featuring Jody Mills and Donna Hanscum. I also tried an opening scene for a pilot of a dramedy about a writer living in a small town who also works at the Renaissance Faire . . . totally not semi-based off of my life.)

Reading:

1. Keep clearing out my TBR shelves. (Well I did do quite a few . . . maybe a dozen?)

2. Review more. (Probably not as much as I liked, but I read more ARCs, which naturally led me to write more reviews, even if I didn't always post them on my blog.)

3. Read the books I've been saying I'll read for the past six months. (I couldn't remember what books I'd written down for that, but apparently they were: Throne of Glass, Anna and the French Kiss, The Raven Boys, Code Name Verity, Looking For Alaska, Landline, and Paper Towns. I promised I would get to them ASAP, and I mostly did. I read all but Anna and the French Kiss, and I only started Code Name Verity before getting, you guessed it, distracted.)

4. Read the books from my Goodreads TBR. (I did read some, so I'll count that here.)

5. Stop getting distracted, or at least get less distracted. (Well, I did get less distracted, so that counts for something . . .)

6. Return to my favorites [genres]. (I read lots of fantasies and contemporaries this year, so yay!)

7. Read/review a book from a debut author. (This I did, with An Ember In the Ashes by Sabba Tahir!)


General:

1. Eat less sugar and meat, eat more fish. (Done!)

2. Procrastinate even less. (I'm giving myself a pat on the back with this one. I improved a lot.)

Goals for 2015 that I didn't accomplish

Because it's good to recognize your failures, too.


Writing:

1. Finish writing Cosmo. (I should've written out a plot map for this one. I adore the story and the characters, but I've totally written myself into a corner, and I may or may not be procrastinating figuring out how to get out of it. I'll finish it one day, that much I know.)

2. Get an agent. (Although I did have one agent request a full manuscript, so I know I'm making progress!)

Reading:

1. Resist the urge to add dozens of books to my already crammed TBR shelves. (HA. HA HA. Would you like to see a picture of my TBR shelves at the moment?? I think I heard a yes somewhere out there.)

The top two shelves are my TBR shelves. LOOK AT THIS INSANITY. I swear it's double in size in the past year. Darn you, shiny book covers.

But I did always say I didn't have high hopes for that one, so it's not like it was unexpected.

2. Finish my Harry Potter trivia game. (Sadly, I got super duper distracted. But I did finish going through three books, so it's not like I didn't work on it at all.)

3. Read more middle-grade. (While I did read some great stuff, I only read a total of four middle-grade books. Not as many as I set out to do originally.)

General:

1. Exercise more. (While I did exercise more, I didn't exercise as much as I would've liked.)

2. Read the news more. (Er . . . this didn't exactly happen. I read it off and on, but not regularly.)

Bye, 2015! Now for the next adventure.

What are your goals for 2016? Anything big happen in 2015? Leave a comment! :)