Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott 


I really didn't like this book, so I'm not exactly sure to whom I would recommend it.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Recommended to anyone who likes books that make you cry, character-driven stories, romance, and stories told through an interesting format (half of the book is told through the eyes of the main character, Mia, as she walks around the hospital in a ghostlike state).

The Girl Who Was On Fire by Leah Wilson


Recommended to anyone who likes The Hunger Games, anthologies, and companion guides.

Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest by Jennifer Crusie


Recommended to anyone who likes "Gilmore Girls," anthologies, quick reads, and companion guides.

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown


Recommended to anyone who likes "Star Wars," quick reads, and cute picture books.


Recommended to all writers. This book was a fantastic help to me, not only with actually writing of my novel, but with editing, querying, and understanding what exactly agents and editors do.

Movies I Watched

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding"


Recommended to anyone who likes simple stories, has large, extended families, and likes to laugh.

"The Amazing Spider-Man"


Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled movies.



Recommended to anyone who likes animated movies, action-filled stories, and likes to laugh. This movie reminded me a lot of "How to Train Your Dragon."

"What About Bob?" 


Recommended to anyone who likes simple stories, likes to laugh, and quirky characters.

Quotes I Wrote

“I still can’t believe it,” Celeste said for the hundredth time that day. “All of that money just from your blog!”
          “Mmm,” I grunted noncomittally, trying to focus on my book (Divergent).
          “I mean, you have a ton of followers, and probably thousands of views every day, but still. That’s a lot of money.”
          “Uh huh.”
          “I mean, that’s a lot of money. Like, a lot a lot.”
          I sat up in my makeshift bed. “Do you mind? Tris is getting knives thrown at her by who I suspect is the potential love interest.”
          Celeste ignored me. She rolled over onto her stomach on her bed. “You should totally post about this on your blog.”
          I rolled my eyes. “I’m not posting about how much money I made on my blog.”
          “You don’t have to say how much exactly. You could always just be vague about it and—”
          Celeste shrugged. “All right. Whatever.” She picked her book up from her nightstand (The Fault In Our Stars).
          “Spoiler alert,” she said. “He is.”
          Hiding behind the pages of my book, I grinned. “Thought so.”


“Math,” she sighed. “Or, as I like to call it, Mental Abuse To Humans.”
          “Homework troubles?”
          Yes. Did I not make myself clear?” Celeste rolled over onto her stomach and swung her legs in the air, like she was riding a bike. “How do you get your homework done so fast?”
          I turned back to the computer and opened up Google to check my e-mail. “I don’t spend the first hour home playing Flappy Birds.”
          “Hmm,” Celeste said, chewing on her lip. “See, that’s something I can’t cut out of my life. Can’t I stop, I don’t know, cleaning my room, instead? That would be a much easier way to save time.”
          “Not while I’m living here.” I moved the mouse around, as if that would make it load faster.
Celeste flopped over onto her back again. “Le sigh.”


Obsessions I Acquired

"Parenthood." My mom and I are zipping through this show, and I love it! :)

"Torchwood." A fantastic "Doctor Who" spinoff, though I'd definitely recommend it to older kids who have a higher tolerance for violence.

"When We Were Young" by Lucy Schwartz. I actually prefer this theme song to the other one "Parenthood" used. :) I think it fits the overall mood of the show better.

Picture of the Month

I finally updated my profile picture. The one I had before was about three years old. How do you like the glasses? ;)

How was your July?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

55 Questions About Books and Reading (Part 2)

See Part 1 HERE.

28. Favorite reading snack?

I have a sweet tooth when it comes to reading snacks. I like cookies, ice cream/milkshakes, and anything chocolate. As far as drinks go, I like hot chocolate and tea.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

The Maze Runner. It didn't meet the high hopes I had for it. :P And, like I said before, I couldn't get into The Book Thief.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

It depends on who's reviewing the book.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

As long as you don't tag the author when you share it on Twitter or something along those lines--I hated TERRIBLE BOOK by @AuthorOfTheBook. Check out my review! = NOT OKAY--and the review is well thought out, I'm okay with it. But if you write, "this book was just plain teribul and i dont need 2 give any more explunassion," that's not a good review. You need to have a reason for disliking the book, you can't just bash it.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Portuguese, I guess, since my parents both speak it fluently.

35. Favorite poet?

Erm, I don't really read poetry. Not exactly my thing. But I think spoken word poetry sounds really cool. :)

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

When I was younger, 30+. Now, I usually limit myself to five or so (usually less).

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

Ha ha, a lot. Tons of times. There aren't enough days in the week to read everything I want to get to!

38. Favorite fictional character?

Hermione Granger. :)

39. Favorite fictional villain?

Voldemort, Bellatrix, and Umbridge.

41. The longest you’ve gone without reading?

Maybe a week? Usually because of book hangovers or being super busy with real life stuff.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

Recently, The Alchemyst, The Book Thief, and Ender's Game. Also couldn't finish Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Not much, but if people try to talk to me when I'm reading, obviously that's annoying.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

The "Harry Potter" movies, "The Fault In Our Stars," the "Hunger Games" movies, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and "The Help."

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

The "Percy Jackson" movies. *bangs head against desk*
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

Maybe 50 dollars.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Before reading, never. While reading it, I'll sometimes skim ridiculously long and most of the time pointless descriptions. This is the one thing that infuriates me with the Mortal Instruments series. There's a reason why those books are such beasts! They could probably be cut in half if she didn't take the time to describe the exact texture, smell, and history of the curtains in Clary's room, or something along those lines.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?

If it's boooring.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Yes, though I often reorganize it for a brand new, shiny system. At the moment, my TBR shelves are organized alphabetically.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

Um, keep them. Definitely keep them. (Unless I have duplicates, then I'll give them away on my blog.)

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

The Twilight books, just because there are so many other books I'd rather be reading. But I really want to form my own opinions on them so I can talk about them with my blogger friends and actually know what I'm talking about. 

52. Name a book that made you angry.

Catcher In the Rye. Holden was such a whiner. I wanted to smack him.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. (Thanks for the suggestion, Kirsten!)

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Blah, blah, blah. Such a mediocre book.

55. Favorite guilt-free pleasure reading?

Um, all of my pleasurable reading is guilt-free. ;)

Your turn! Feel free to answer some or all of the questions on your blog/in the comments.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

55 Questions About Books and Reading (Part 1)

Stealing this from Nevillegirl! :)

1. Favorite childhood book?

Harry Potter. Always has been, always will be. I also used to love the Magic Treehouse series and all of the American Girl books, especially the Samantha ones.

2. What are you reading right now?

To Kill a Mockingbird (with my mom), City of Heavenly Fire, Coffee at Luke's, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

Right now, surprisingly, nothing.

4. Bad book habit?

I write in my books. I underline, draw little hearts, the whole bit. I also eat and drink around my books.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. (Yes, I had to look up how to spell her name, and no, I have no idea how to pronounce it.)

6. Do you have an e-reader?

I had one, but it broke (through no fault of my own!). :P So now I have to resort to using my iPod, which has a pathetically tiny screen. Luckily an iPad is on the way for me (thank you, Vavó)!

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

People actually only read one book at once?! Who has the time for that?!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Definitely. I have way more to read now! When I was younger (maybe 10 or 11), I had to resort to picking random books off the shelves at the library for new books to read. :P

9. Least favorite book you read this year so far?

Since I'm sure you've already read (several times) about how much I loathed Catcher In the Rye, I'll skip over that and jump right in to The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I tried to get into it, but I just couldn't. :P It was too boring, the writing was sub-par, and the dialogue was jerky. I also couldn't get into The Book Thief.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

Other than rereads, I'd have to say Cress! :) LOVED that book!

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Probably less than I should. :P Book clubs help me to do this, and sometimes I'll make a point of reading non-fiction or classics, or something else I don't usually read. I have to go out of my way to read something different, otherwise it's very easy for me to fall into a rut. I'm glad I tried science-fiction again, because I discovered that I don't dislike sci-fi, I just don't like the hardcore stuff. (For example, Ender's Game was a dud for me, but I LOVED the Lunar Chronicles, These Broken Stars, The Host, "Doctor Who," and "Torchwood."

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

Fantasy, dystopian, and recently, contemporaries, all YA.

13. Can you read in the car?

Most of the time.

14. Favorite place to read?

In my room, on my cozy chair with my funky lamp. :)

15. What is your policy on book lending?

I only lend books to my family members and BFF. I also kind of hate borrowing books from anyone except them, because it makes me feel pressured to read those books first. :P

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?


17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Um, yeah. (Don't hate me!)

18. Not even with textbooks?

I don't think so, since I'll probably end up selling them later.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

I can only read in English.

20. What makes you love a book?

Great characters, witty dialogue, good writing, and anything that evokes strong emotions. I love books that can make me laugh out loud or sob (or, better yet, both!). Also, if it causes me to have a book hangover afterward or be rendered speechless when I try to review it, I know it's good.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? 

See number 20. If I know a friend of mine likes a specific genre or style, and I read a good book that applies to that genre or style, I'll recommend it.

22. Favorite genre?

Fantasy! :)

23. Genre you rarely read but wish you did?

Sci-fi, I guess. I've really gotten into it with "Doctor Who," "Torchwood," the Lunar Chronicles, and These Broken Stars, but I've yet to find anything else worth reading. :P If you have recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them!

24. Favorite biography?

I don't read a lot of biographies, but the one I read about John Lennon--John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth--was pretty good.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Do how-to-write books count?

26. Favorite cookbook?

I don't have one.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? 

Harry Potter, always. Cress, The Fault In Our Stars, and These Broken Stars also make the list.

Part 2 coming soon! :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top Ten Fictional Characters I'd Want On a Deserted Island With Me

I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday with "The Broke and the Bookish"! :) This week's prompt is: Which ten fictional characters would you want on a deserted island with you?

1. Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games.

Cheating already! ;) But really, I wouldn't want just one or the other. Peeta fan or not, you can't deny that Katniss and Gale work extremely well together when they're hunting in the woods. Katniss can hunt, Gale can build snares. It's the perfect combination when you're in desperate need of food. Plus, Katniss has *SPOILER ALERT* survived two Hunger Games, so she's no stranger to danger or wild animals, even mutant ones *END SPOILERS*.

2. Hermione from Harry Potter.

Hermione has probably read every book in the library, and then some, so she's bound to have some information on poisonous foods, building a fire, and just surviving in general. She, Harry, and Ron had to camp out in the forest in the dead of winter for quite some time in the Deathly Hallows, and they survived. And if she has her wand with her, we could probably just transfigure a tree into a boat or something. Or disapparate off the island.

3. Tarver from These Broken Stars.

Tarver was a huge help to Lilac during their first few days together when they were stranded on a strange planet. It was the sci-fi version of a deserted island, and he was awesome! And he's a military guy, so if we were to come in contact with a wild animal, I know he'd have my back.

4. Jace from The Mortal Instruments.

Jace is probably the best shadowhunter there is in the series. He'd probably also know some rune that could help us out, too. Like with Tarver, he'd be great to have around if something decided to attack us. I'd be very well protected.

5. Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles.

He and Cress were actually stranded on a desert in Cress, so he has some experience with isolation and surviving in the heat. Plus, he's hilarious, so he'd be great for some comic relief. He's also an escaped criminal and hasn't been caught yet, so he can definitely survive on his own.

6. Cress from the Lunar Chronicles.

Though Cress may be small and not very strong, she's crazy good when it comes to technology. Hand her a port screen and she'd have a ship coming to save us in no time.

7. Ian from The Host.

Ian and the rest of the human community has managed to survive on their own in the desert for a long time, farming their own food and stealing supplies. He'd have no problem building us shelter and making sure we have something to eat and drink.

8. Flora and Ulysses from Flora & Ulysses.

Flora is super smart and resourceful for a ten-year-old, and she knows how to prevent all sorts of disasters from reading Terrible Things Can Happen to You! Plus, Ulysses is a superhero, so he'd find some way to get us out of this mess.

9. Four and Tris from Divergent.

They're from Dauntless and are constantly fighting for their lives. They know how to handle a gun and don't shy away from danger. Who knows what we'll find on this island?

10. Hedwig from Harry Potter.

And, if all else fails, Hedwig could always send somebody a message to come and rescue us. ;)

Who would you want with you on a deserted island? Leave a comment! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Alice In Zombieland (a Book Review)

Note From MV: This is a post by Skylar Finn, writer, blogger, and lover of books. She's going to be contributing to my blog regularly, so please give her a warm welcome!

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Pages: 404


She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

When I picked up Alice in Zombieland, I had already read two books that had zombies as major parts of the story. Therefore, even though I didn’t consider myself an expert on all things zombie, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what was what. Ehh.

Consider everything you thought you knew about zombies wiped out. These zombies are nothing like that.

The zombies in this book are spectral, incorporeal things—ghosts. They are the spirits of the dead that were people who got eaten by other zombies and who didn’t fight the darkness well enough to go to heaven. That’s why everything about them is so much more terrifying and fascinating.

I’ve watched World War Z and the zombies in that movie were absolutely disgusting (and horrifying)., especially when they just drove forward in hordes.

Imagine that, but spiritual. SPIRITUAL.

Something you can’t see, can’t fight normally, and you might not even know it was there. Um, I don’t know about you, but that is the stuff of nightmares for me right there.

Not only that, but the weapons used to fight the zombies (remember, these are invisible zombies, at least to the regular human eye *shudders*) and the methods used to fight them were really amazing and had unique explanations for how they worked. I applaud the author so hard *madly claps* for coming up with this incredible paranormal contemporary fantasy world!

Alice Bell is our main character and she first sees these zombies when her family is in a car accident. She sees them eating her father. It’s kind of hard to describe how something spiritual can eat something physical, but you have to remember that humans are parts physical AND parts spiritual. And let’s just say....Alice wasn’t the same after that.

Her pain and regret are so palpable during the accident and after. You can feel her sorrow, because “sad” isn’t the right word to describe her feelings. She loved her sister, she was her world, and her mom so much. And even though her and her dad had a lot of rough patches, she loved him too. The emotions are just done so well, especially in the first few chapters.

Alice was awesome. She was so strong and scared of nothing. Add in a dash of sarcasm and some kick-butt fighting, and you have the ultimate main character. There’s also something special about Alice in relation to the zombies. *wink wink*

Alice got a best friend too. Enter Kat. Kat is the best friend ever. She’s the sass queen. She’s confident. She’s so good for Alice. They make up a power duo. not everyone (but Alice obviously is one of those who can) can see these totally terrifying intangible zombies, then who exactly is fighting against them?

*smirks* So glad you asked.

Meet the crew. Nine guys, two girls. This group of teenagers fights the zombies. Of course, I wouldn’t have accepted this so willingly if a good reason wasn’t supplied because I realize that even though it’s awesome, teenagers can’t fight all the battles all the time realistically. But there’s a reason. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but there is one.

OH. Something I forgot to mention earlier....these zombie fighters can all see the zombies and they fight them by LEAVING their physical bodies and battling them with their spirit forms.

How cool. Is that.

The plot moved well and while there weren’t any gigantic twists, there was a couple small ones that I didn’t see coming at all.

Villains? Check. Apparently some people want to stuff zombie spirits into human bodies to make unstoppable armies. Terrifying? I think yes.

This book was great! Buuut, there were some things I wasn’t as crazy about.

There’s a love interest (named Cole) who is the leader of the zombie fighters. I think he makes a great leader. He has his fighters’ loyalty, seriously awesomesauce fighting skills, and he has presence.

However, I wasn’t sure if he was right for Alice. It kind of seemed like, to me, he was all macho-
man and objectified Alice sometimes. I’m just not sure that he was the best guy for Alice. Of course, she could take him ;) and he really cared about her, but I felt like there was a chance that he could become too possessive.

Also, THERE WERE SO MANY NAMES TO REMEMBER. I am awful at remembering names.
And I’m supposed to remember all eleven zombie fighters plus other characters?? Uh. I’m going to need a notepad and pen to write these down. There’s no way I’m remembering ALL of them.

Overall this was a really great read and I recommend it to readers who enjoy paranormal, zombies, dark and mysterious guys (who have purple eyes), sassiness, and fighting for lives.

About Skylar Finn:

Skylar Finn is the pen name of a recent high school graduate (who never gets tired of saying she's graduated). Her real name is top secret because she's secretly a spy. That does spy stuff. Secretly. When she's not spying, she blogs about books, life, and chocolate at Life of a Random. Skylar loves talking with bookworms about everything, so don't be shy. She's probably weirder than you anyways.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Giveaway Winners

The giveaway has ended! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Winner of On Writing: nevillegirl

Winner of The Maze Runner: Rich

Winner of Divergent and Insurgent: Travis

Congratulations, guys! :) I'll be e-mailing you for your mailing addresses.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Six Years Ago Today . . .

I published the first post on this blog. I was eight, and I was so excited to have a blog after watching my mom and dad have so much fun on theirs. But never in a million years would I have imagined that The Magic Violinist could grow like this! And for that, I have to thank my readers--friends, family, old, and new--for sticking with me and helping to make TMV what it is now. :) I'm so glad to have met so many people through blogging!

I thought it'd be fun to celebrate TMV's anniversary with a game! I'll post six questions below that will test your knowledge about yours truly (hi!), and you can post your answers in a comment. The person who correctly answers all six gets virtual chocolate!

Are you ready? Go!

1. What is my favorite book series?
2. What is my real (full) name?
3. I regularly contribute to three blogs (besides my own). What are the names of those blogs?
4. What kind of pet do I have and what is her/her name?
5. Can you name at least three books/book series that would rank in my top ten favorite books list (besides the obvious one)?
6. And finally, I've cried while reading a lot of books, but I've sobbed with two. Which two books were they? (Bonus points if you can guess the top two TV shows that had episodes that did the same thing to me.)

Also, if you don't mind, comment and tell me what your top three favorite posts are from this past year! :) I always appreciate feedback, and this'll help me know what kinds of posts to do in the future.

Thanks again! :) I'm looking forward to the upcoming years!

WARNING: Several people have already put in their answers to the questions and I've responded telling them if they were right or not. If you want to play the game, don't look until after you've guessed!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--July

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them.

This month, I'll be interviewing Kya and Lane, the two protagonists of my YA contemporary romance Beneath the Moon and Stars. (I still feel a little weird writing a romance, but I wanted to branch out and do something I've never done before, and I'm actually having a lot of fun writing it!)

1. What’s their favourite food? (Bonus: favourite flavour of chocolate!)

Kya loves noodles of any kind. Lane is obsessed with peppermint ice cream. As for chocolate, Kya likes M&M's (but only out of a big bag--she swears they taste better that way) and Lane is a sucker for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

2. What do they absolutely hate?

Kya loathes her stepfather, Marcus. Lane can't stand spiders or, much to Kya's chagrin, reading books (though he'll read anything as long as it's on audio). It's just the actual act of reading words he doesn't like.

3. What do they enjoy learning about?

Kya loves music and Lane loves art, mostly painting. They're both very creative people.

4. Who is the most influential person in their life?

Kya would say her English teacher, Mr. Johnson, and Lane. Lane would say Kya and, though he doesn't like to admit it, his older sister, Becca.

5. What is their childhood fear?

Kya was, and is, afraid of Marcus, and Lane is still terrified of spiders. He's also constantly afraid that he'll lose Kya to Marcus, seeing as he has a temper (which is putting it lightly).

6. What is something they have always secretly dreamed of doing, but thought impossible?

Kya has always dreamed of running away and becoming a musician. But running away would just endanger herself and her mother, so there's no way she could actually do it.

Lane's dream is something so secret, he'd never share it with anyone. Not ever.

7. Are they a night owl or morning person?

Kya is a morning person, but Lane would say he's both.

8. Do they say everything that pops into their head, or leave a lot unsaid?

Kya tends to be very quiet, so that automatically gives her a filter of sorts, but when she does talk, she's very honest and often sarcastic and witty.

Lane, on the other hand, doesn't think before he says anything, so he constantly has a chronic case of foot-in-mouth.

9. What are their nervous habits?

They both mess with their hair. Lane spikes his up, Kya tucks hers behind her ears.

What are you waiting for? Go linkup! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp


Recommended to anyone who likes coming-of-age stories, romance, and Catcher In the Rye (though this book was immensely more enjoyable than CITR).

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks


Recommended to anyone who likes quick reads, romance, and a good cry.

Four: The Transfer by Veronica Roth


Recommended to anyone who likes Divergent, quick reads, and a chance to get into another character's head.

Doctor Who: Who-ology by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright


Recommended to anyone who likes "Doctor Who," both classic and new. This is a great book to pick up and read whenever you have a few minutes, whether you're waiting in line or stuck in traffic or waiting for the kitchen timer to beep, because you can skip around to different sections. You don't have to read it in order.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini


Recommended to anyone who has dealt with depression (I haven't dealt with it personally, but people who have loved this book), likes quirky characters, and likes to laugh.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


Recommended to anyone who likes quick reads, interesting formats (this book is told through the eyes of Clay, the main character, for half the time, and through audiotapes sent to him for the other half), and a good cry. Warning: While this book is fantastic, it's also extremely depressing, and should not be read right before or after books such as Allegiant, The Fault In Our Stars, or If I Stay.

Movies I Watched



Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled stories.

"Spider-Man 2"


Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled stories.

"Spider-Man 3"


Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled stories.

"Howl's Moving Castle"


Recommended to anyone who likes anime, quirky characters, fantasy, and simple stories.

"It's Kind of a Funny Story"


Recommended to anyone who has dealt with depression (again, I haven't dealt with it personally, but people who have loved this book), likes quirky characters, likes to laugh, and read and liked It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

Quotes I Wrote

Lane raised his eyebrows. "Wow. I—never would've guessed you were that young. You're very . . . mature. Well, I guess I'm a bad judge of that. When I was sixteen I still thought fart jokes were funny. But you're way more sophisticated than I ever was."

"I mean, every teenage boy still thinks fart jokes are funny, right? But girls, they tend to grow up faster, you know?"

"Actually, the teenage boys I know are very different."

Lane opened his mouth again, closed it, and shook his head, face burning up. "I'm gonna stop talking now."

"You do that."
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

I bit my lip to stop myself from beaming like an idiot. “What if Thorne invited Cress to his mother’s New Year’s Eve party, to make up for the earlier disaster?”
“I think Cress would accept that invitation.”
My lip escaped its prison and my face ached from smiling so wide. “Thorne is glad.”
“Okay, you can stop that now. It was cute at first, but now it’s weird.”
“Thorne still thinks it’s funny.”
“Seriously. It’s almost creepy.”
“Thorne finds it hard to stop speaking like this.”
Kya shook her head at me, though she was grinning. “See you soon, then.”
“Thorne will count down the—”
Kya punched my shoulder.
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

She [Kya's best friend, Dakota] wasn’t someone I could talk to or hang out with like I did with Lane. Sure, we could talk about silly stuff—boys, classmates, our teachers, even bands—but we couldn’t ever have a serious conversation. Not over the loud music or the incessant clickclickclick of her typing on her iPhone, even when I was right in the middle of telling her something.
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

I stuffed my hands in my pockets and walked away. The living room wasn’t very crowded yet, but it sounded like there were at least triple the amount of people, due to the fact that everyone spoke as if they were shouting across a football field. It was as if they were trying to prove that their story was funnier than the other person’s story because they SPOKE LIKE THIS.

--Beneath the Moon and Stars

Mom always did all the talking whenever the two of them were together. Dad would grunt every once in a while, but it was very clear who was in charge.
Their conversations always went something like this:
“Paul, what do you think of these flowers?”
“Hmm, I don’t think they really go with the rest of the room.”
“Really?” She’d make a tutting noise, then, “I like them.”
“Whatever you want, dear.”
“Paul, does this dress make me look fat?”
“No, it looks fine.”
“Really?” Tutting. “I think it makes me look fat.”
“You look gorgeous in anything, dear.”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

Obsessions I Acquired

"Sherlock." I marathon watched all three seasons in less than a week. How have I missed this show for so long?!

"The Fault In Our Stars" movie soundtrack. :) Such great music. I have to restrain myself from overplaying it so I don't get sick of it.

Picture of the Month

One of my favorite quotes from "Sherlock."

How was your June?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Recent Writing Frustrations

As most of you know, I like to work on a lot of projects at once. And while I normally have seven or eight novels going at a time (on average) I usually have two that I focus on. Right now I'm working on editing a chapter book titled The Adventure That Started With Nuts about a talking squirrel and his best friend, who's a talking chipmunk. I'm also working on a YA contemporary, Beneath the Moon and Stars.

But lately, I've been feeling stuck. I've had a chronic case of writer's block whenever I sit down to work on BTMAS, and honestly, I'm bored by edits for my squirrel story. But while that's all extremely frustrating, the result of this writer's block/boredom is good material for a blog post. ;)

When I'm stuck, you can find me ranting to my BFF via text or e-mail chat about how my characters won't cooperate. For example, here's a snippet of our latest conversation:

Me: Blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. I'm so stuck with my story. :P I seriously went on a two page tangent about makeup because I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Anything inspiring? :P I'll take quotes, pictures, anything. (Or distractions? Funny sibling stories? What are you reading right now?)



Lane's stuck at his mother's stupid New Year's Eve party and REFUSES TO MOVE.

I hate it when my characters refuse to cooperate. -_-

And even worse, the thing that's going to happen RIGHT AFTER this party is so exciting!!! :P

Her: Right after? Oh man, you gotta get him to move.

Me: XD I'm trying.

I then sent her some pictures showing everything I'd done to get this character (Lane) to move, none of which were working:

Banging my head against the keyboard

Yelling at my characters

Yelling at my characters some more

When I'm bored, you can find me putting off the next chapter, the next scene, in the hopes that a grand idea will just pop into my head without trying. I often use the, "waiting for inspiration to strike" excuse so I don't feel guilty about playing video games, checking my e-mail/Twitter, or watching the next episode of "Sherlock."

With The Adventure That Started With Nuts, I sat down, fully intending to get at least three chapters edited, and ended up getting sidetracked:

So that's why I've been up to these past few days.

What are some of your biggest writing frustrations? Leave a comment! (And don't forget to check out the giveaway below!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Giveaway!

We recently went through all of our books with moving, and I happened to find a few duplicates. So I thought I'd give them away. :) There will be three prizes and three winners for those prizes. You have the chance to win either On Writing by Stephen King, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, OR Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. You have two weeks to enter. Sorry, US only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, "Of Spectacles and Books" is having a fantastic giveaway! Check it out here! :) 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writer's Camp 2014!

Yesterday was the last day of my second year at writer's camp in Lititz! :) I had so much fun. It was a great group this year. It was smaller, but all of the kids that came were really serious about their writing and really wanted to be better.

And the teachers are fantastic. Dr. Scouten and Ms. Savage are super nice and friendly, and they treat you like peers rather than teacher/student. They also have a knack for critiquing your work in an honest and helpful way. They don't sugarcoat anything, but you never feel like they're putting you down. They're very encouraging and never hesitate to challenge you in ways that help you to grow as a writer. I feel very lucky to have such great mentors.

I can't post everything I did over the week (that would be a really long post) but here are some of my favorite pieces:

(This is the first chapter of my YA contemporary, Beneath the Moon and Stars):

Five dollars and twenty-five cents. That’s all that was in my pocket. That and some fuzz. I stared at the frozen foods section for a long time before deciding that Mom would prefer not to use the microwave anyway. Microwaves give off radiation, you know. And Lord knows we could do without any extra hospital bills.
Finally landing on a slightly dented box of instant Mac and Cheese (“Add hot water and enjoy!”) and a package of strawberry Pop Tarts, I proceeded to the checkout line. The line was fairly long, especially for a self-checkout line, so I picked up an over-priced tabloid and flipped through the glossy pages to discover what other see-through fabric Miley Cyrus had passed off as clothing. I was so engrossed--or grossed out--by the article that I didn't notice when somebody walked up to me.
I jumped and blinked up at the teenage boy standing next to me. He grinned from ear to ear, blinding me with his pearly-whites.
He gestured to the tabloid. “Miley Cyrus. Are you a fan?”
I blinked a couple more times. Small talk made me nervous.
“Oh! No. No, I’m not a fan.” I replaced the magazine on the rack. “Just trying to—pass the time.”
The boy nodded wisely. “Time passes too quickly, if you know what I mean. Glad you’re not a fan. I can’t stand people who like her, and you seem like likeable material. Friend potential, even. You know what they put in those? You’re up, by the way.”
My head spun as I stepped up to the checkout counter. He spoke so quickly.
“Put in what?” I asked, once I was able to get my thoughts straight.
“That.” The boy pointed to the box of Pop Tarts. “Disgusting food, if it even counts as food. The glands of a beaver’s backside are used as flavoring for the strawberry ones, and who knows what else? Who’s to say whoever came up with the ludicrous idea didn’t say, ‘What the hell, how about we inject the S’mores ones with the anal substance, too?’ I’m Harry, by the way. Harry Potter.”
He extended his hand. I took it.
“You're kidding.”
“Totally. My parents aren’t that mean. No, I’m Lane.”
“Kya. Kya Williams.”
“Nice to meet you, Kya, Kya Williams.” He winked. He was so smooth while my hands just shook with awkwardness.
I pressed a button on the screen and watched my receipt slide out as the machine chirped, “Have a nice day!”
“Still going with the Pop Tarts, huh?”
I shrugged, not looking at Lane, though I could see out of my peripheral vision that he was smiling.
“They're on sale.”
Lane flipped his carton of peppermint ice cream in the air and placed it on the counter.
“See you around, Kya!” he called, holding his hand up in goodbye.
I gave him a small wave back. “Yeah. Maybe.”

(This is a poem I wrote for a writing prompt we used. We had to take two books from the library--I chose Legend by Marie Lu and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare--and use different words and sentences from the two books to combine them into a poem.):

No news is good news, right?
But that, she knew was a lie.
It's not the best, but maybe if I wander among the guests,
Lost and aimless,
Responding to the sense that her bones were melting and
Breaking inside her.
Eyes immediately shift toward her.
Let me take your hand, and I will give you mine.
I'm going to raise the angel, and I remember the first few.
They went flying.
At that,
The light in his eyes,
Already bright,
Went to such a blaze that the
Sparks that painted the clouds overheard as they fell,
One by one,
In streaking lines of golden fire,
Were like angels falling from the sky.

(Another poem):


A sign too worn to read rests among the ivy.
It held words once,
But now only the memory of bumps and jagged edges,
A reminder of what once was
Letters and poetry.

Scrawlings and scratches,
The familiar sound of ideas emerging
And words materializing,
Like magic,
Onto the paper.

Here: free from distractions-
beeping and tweeting and pings-
A cacophony of reminders to Check Your Device,
And see who has updated their Facebook page, Twitter feed.
Consumed by the vortex of the online world.

Here it is silent,
Save for the rustle of leaves,
And the gentle rippling of water
As a duck swims around and around and around,
Stuck in an endless loop.

I sit in this haven,
This little tucked away world
And think.
And write.
And dream.

Highlights from the week:

-Meeting a girl named Peyton who loves to read and write fantasy, just like me. We exchanged e-mail addresses and are keeping in touch.
-Scoring over thirty points in "Balderdash" (my highest score yet).
-Getting to hear A.S. King speak, and having her recognize me as soon as she entered the room. She walked in and started introducing herself, but got sidetracked when she saw me and said, "Hey, I know you!" (That was pretty cool.)
-Dr. Scouten saying that my writing reminded him of John Green.
-Ms. Savage saying that I have a great voice and how she,"--doesn't want anybody to mess with it" and that she expects my first internationally known novel to be published by the time I'm 20. (I started crying a little when she said that.)
-Seeing signed copies of Fauxpocalypse on display at Aaron's Books. (We went to the bookstore almost every day before we went home.)
-My "extended family" getting to see me present a couple pieces I wrote during the past week on the last day of camp.



Peyton and me
Dr. Scouten and me
Ms. Savage and me
My "extended family" came to cheer me on

This is the highlight of my summer, and I think it's safe to say that I'll be back each year until I'm too old to attend anymore. ;)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Aaron's Books

So I did something exciting yesterday. I went down to Lititz with four paperback copies of Fauxpocalypse and went to Aaron's Books. I'd already e-mailed them a couple months ago, and they agreed to carry a few copies of Fauxpocalypse in their store and advertise it with the "Local Authors" books. I went in, talked to Todd (the owner of the store), signed some papers, signed the books (which means that the books are now labeled as autographed copies), and voila! My book is in an actual bookstore.

And while I was there, signing the consignment contracts, the phone rang. It was someone asking for Todd. Bud--the person who had answered the phone--said, "Oh, I'm sorry, he's working with an author right now."

I was the author!!! (It's still so surreal.)

And, since Fauxpocalypse will be displayed with other books by local authors, that means that I'll be next to A.S. King's books! (Author of Reality Boy, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and many others.)

And everyone at Aaron's is so nice. Unlike Wal-Mart or some other big corporation, the employees actually know their stuff. They talk to you, give you recommendations based on other books you've read, remember your names, and they love to support their local authors, just like their local authors support them. They were so welcoming to me when I went in to talk to them. If you've ever seen "You've Got Mail," they're like the Little Shop Around the Corner, except Aaron's is going to be around for a loooong time, I just know it.

So, if you want to support Indie bookstores plus get a signed copy of Fauxpocalypse, you can always come on down to Lititz, PA and check out Aaron's Books. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by "The Broke and the Bookish."

(I'm only including books that I read for the first time, not rereads. Otherwise, books like The Fault In Our Stars and Divergent would be on here for sure!) :)

In no particular order . . .

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer

This is my all-time favorite book from 2014 (so far). I can't wait for Winter! :)

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This is a fantastic read. Such a great book. And the movie is awesome, too!

3. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

This book made me laugh and cry. I would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

4. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this book!!! I admit, I had my doubts about it at first (sci-fi in general isn't--or I guess I should say wasn't, after the recent obsessions with the Lunar Chronicles and "Doctor Who"--really my thing). But after seeing so many of my blogger friends talking about it, I knew I had to read it. And I'm glad I did! :) You can read my review of it HERE.

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

This book took me longer to get into than the others, but it's still awesome. :) If you haven't read this series yet, please do! You won't regret it.

6. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

My first Nicholas Sparks book, and what a great one to start with! Thanks to my mom for the recommendation. :)

7. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

The best book in the series, in my opinion. Although, I haven't read City of Heavenly Fire (yet), and that seems to be everyone's favorite, based on the ecstatic texts from friends and reviews flooding my Goodreads page.

8. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

This book was so cute! :) It's a great one to read as a family, because all ages will enjoy it. You can read my review of it HERE.

9. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Though Eleanor & Park is by far my favorite Rainbow Rowell novel, Attachmentsis still fantastic. It has an interesting concept and a solid delivery. :)

10. Panic by Lauren Oliver

Despite what you may hear about this book, THIS IS NOT A DYSTOPIAN. It is nothing like The Hunger Games or any other dystopian novel. It is a great contemporary novel. It's a quick read with an intriguing concept. It's full of action that will leave you breathless and plot twists that will make you gasp out loud (I certainly did).

What are your favorite books of 2014? Leave a comment! :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--June

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them. Should be fun! :)

I chose Raven as my character for this month. She is the protagonist of my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, a dystopian called Flightless Birds.

1. What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?

She only has a first name, Raven, which was given to her by the Flock. They found her in the forest as a baby and have sort of raised her since then.

2. How old are they, and when were they born?

16, born on April 11, 2083.

3. Describe their physical appearance. 

Short, black-as-coal hair, brown eyes, tanned skin, heart-shaped birthmark on her right shoulder. She's forced to wear raggedy clothes that are several sizes too large.

Bonus questions:

1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity?

She never knew her parents, so she's not sure.

2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!

I have three:

Erica Durance as Raven
This is the actress I "cast" as Raven, Erica Durance. Though she is much older than Raven--she's 35--she looks young enough to play her.

Raven, if she were a fantasy character.

Raven gone dark.
This is Raven when she's going through a dark spell.

3. Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences.

Loyal. Raven often puts the needs of others before her own and always sticks by her friends, no matter what. This is usually a good thing, but sometimes she lets her fierce need to protect her friends get so out of control that she ends up hurting herself in the process. This is where characters like Liam, Flynn, and Toby help her to stop being so "suicidal" and make her realize that sometimes you have to take care of yourself first.

5. What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

"What You Wanted" by OneRepublic. Like I said above, Raven would do anything to save her friends, even if it means endangering herself.

"Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2. Never once has Raven had a real home. She's always running from place to place, barely surviving in the wilderness, sometimes not even knowing what state she's in.

6. If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?

Fire. Raven is full of energy and love and deep, strong emotions. She's always on the move, always going somewhere, doing something, saving someone.

7. What is their favourite word?

She has a few: Blue, home, love, family.

8. Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.)

Blue, an eight-year-old girl who was a member of the Flock from the time she was a baby. She was like a sister to Raven, but she was killed by an Officer in the dead of night.

9. What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

The sky, blue waters, baby birds or giggling toddlers. Anything that's innocent and pure reminds Raven of her.

Feel free to answer the questions about your own characters! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Wrap-Up

I thought you'd like to know that if you scroll way down and look on the right-hand side of my blog, you'll find my rating system, so you can see what I mean when I give a book/movie a certain rating.

Books I Read

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler


Recommended to anyone who has body image issues, likes simple stories, and quick reads.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper


Recommended to anyone who read and liked Wonder by R.J. Palacio, likes simple, sweet, character-driven stories, and books that will make you cry.

Cress by Marissa Meyer


Recommended to anyone who likes fairytale retellings, multiple perspectives, action-filled stories, quirky characters, epic romances, and a good long, series. This is my favorite book of the year so far! The Lunar Chronicles series is highly recommended to anyone and everyone.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson


Recommended to anyone who likes an interesting concept, mystery, and light, "fluffy" reads. This is not a hard book to read and is a great remedy for a book hangover. In fact, I used this book to move on after finishing Cress.

Show Off Anthology by Joe Bunting


Recommended to anyone who likes short stories, simple stories, quick reads, and anthologies.

Movies I Watched

"Star Wars: A New Hope" (re-watch)


Recommended to anyone who likes sci-fi, space stories, and epic adventures.

"Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"


Recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, light, "fluffy" stories, and goofy movies.

Quotes I Wrote

(I haven't written a whole lot this month, what with the move and all, but I started the sequel to The Sorceress and managed to get about forty pages done so far.)

Anya nodded again. "Of course. Extra protection never hurt anybody."

The king grinned. "Glad to hear it. Far too many generals let their pride get in the way of their safety."
"Better to be safe and have no pride than to be dead and have too much of it."
--The Sorceress #2.

He shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortable. "I have to admit, I had my doubts about you being the one to investigate the matter, what with you being--well . . . you're a girl, after all. But the popular opinion of you does seem to be very high, so I thought I'd give you a shot. Prove me wrong, eh?" 
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, I have yet to find a task I can't perform due to my lack of male parts."
--The Sorceress #2.

Obsessions I Acquired

DOTA 2, a video game that most of the teenagers in our homeschool group plays.

Our new house! :) My bedroom is painted bright yellow, and I got a big bookshelf that I've stuffed full of the books that were sitting under my chair before.

Picture of the Month

Our family is working on putting together a writer's room in our new house right now, so I've been thinking about what to put around in my space to motivate me to be productive. Someone on Figment mentioned how she has "writing police" all over her desk, and this picture was the first one she shared. Let's see how much it helps!

How was your May?

PS: My good blogger friend Karoline Kingley is starting up a summer book club! :) If you want to participate, check out her blog post HERE.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alice In Wonderland Blog Meme

The Notebook Sisters turned 3!!! :) I decided to grab their tag and answer the Alice In Wonderland themed questions. Feel free to jump in!

1. Just Alice: What book cover(s) has made you super curious?

Ironically, the cover of Splintered by A.G. Howard always draws me in whenever I see it. I should really read it soon. :P

Splintered (Splintered, #1)

2. Mad Hatter: List the craziest character(s) you've ever read.

Luna Lovegood, probably (unless I'm just forgetting somebody). She's not necessarily crazy, though. Just a little odd. Sometimes I wonder if Luna is really the normal one and everyone else is crazy. ;)

3. Red Queen, Off With Your Head! What book have you felt like beheading?

Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellner. :P That and Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

4. White Rabbit: What books or series have been insanely popular but you've been "late" to pick them up?

The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. I need to read them!

5. Caterpillar: What's the most confusing book you've read?

Going Bovine by Libba Bray. (Actually, the craziest character I've ever read might be from that book!)

6. Dormouse: What was the last book that sent you to sleep?

Books never send me to sleep. ;) Not in the way you're implying, anyway. The lull of Jim Dale's voice on the Harry Potter audios is always a great thing to fall asleep to.

7. Cheshire Cat: Book that made you laugh and smile?

The Harry Potter series, though there are plenty more. :)

8. Knave of Hearts: Most recent character who stole your heart?

Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles, hands down. After Augustus Waters, he might be my biggest book crush.

9. Jabberwocky: Best villain you've read this year?

I haven't read any fantastic villains this year, aside from Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Umbridge. Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles drives me crazy, though.

10. Down the Rabbit Hole: What's the latest book/series/author that's completely swallowed your interest?

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer!!! :) After finishing Cress, I've been obsessed! (Thank you, Notebook Sisters).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art

(Yeah, I'm a day late. I forgot to post this when I finished it yesterday.)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by "The Broke and the Bookish." This is my first time participating, so I'm really excited! :)

(These book covers are in no particular order.)


Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

(I have a feeling Winter's cover is going to be just as good!)


Eleanor & Park




These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

(This might be my all-time favorite book cover. It's gorgeous!)


The Fault in Our Stars





Out of My Mind


One (One Universe, #1)


Alienated (Alienated, #1)


Guy in Real Life 

What are your favorite covers?