Friday, March 10, 2017

My Writing Process

I'm always totally fascinated by other people's writing processes. Are they slow to finish a project or do they pull an all-nighter and complete like seven novels at once? Do they edit as they go or allow themselves to all but faceplant into their keyboard to finish a first draft? Do they fuel themselves with tea or coffee? These are the real questions.

Since none of you asked for this unsolicited, detailed post I'm sure you're all anxiously waiting to hear what my process is, I thought I'd tell you in a list, because everybody loves lists (or maybe that's just me).

How I write:

1. Get five-thousand different ideas when I'm already in the middle of seventeen.
2. Start writing like a madman with the writing utensil closest to me.
3. Get stuck three pages in.
4. Go back to the work I was supposed to be finishing in the first place.
5. Realize everything that's been written there is utter nonsense.
6. Cry.
7. Eat some chocolate.
8. Procrastinate by watching reruns of “Doctor Who” and “Supernatural” or pretending I'm being productive by pinning writing prompts to my board on Pinterest.
9. Go back to my computer.
10. Write some more. Rinse and repeat.

Honestly, "It's Hard to Be the Bard" is so relateable as a writer.

I'm just kidding (mostly).

What I really do is something more along the lines of this:

1. Get an idea.

This is seemingly, but deceptively, easy. I could get half a dozen different ideas from Pinterest alone, and then there's overheard conversations, new takes on fairytales, fan-fiction that took on a life of its own, etc. etc. etc.

The trick is finding an idea that interests me enough to stick with it. I've saved sooo many different writing prompts that I thought might be good to try out, but when I go back to them months later, my reaction is, "Hmm, cool, but I know I'm going to get bored with this six pages in." If I'm going to dedicate tons of time to an idea, it better be a good one.

2. Start writing down random ideas that eventually turn into a vague outline.

Sometimes once I get an idea, I know the first few lines or even scenes that go with it. Anything even remotely related to the idea (lines, plot points, side characters, a song that fits the theme of the story), I jot down in a notebook or a Word document. I like to let it all stew in my brain for a while before I do anything serious with it.

Once I'm pretty sure I've come up with everything I could for the time being, I'll start creating an outline. I can't believe I haven't always done this. It doesn't work for everybody, but I looove having an outline to keep me on track. So many of my abandoned novels could have been saved if I knew at least vaguely where the story was going to go from beginning to end.

My outlines usually include a clear beginning and a clear end, with some scenes in the middle that might just say, "Maybe these three characters go to the movie or something and one of them gets mugged on the way back? IDK, we just need some action here." As long as I have a plan I can follow for the most part, I'm good. I can always be flexible if I need something to change.

3. Write a first draft.

The fun (and painful) part! Because with first drafts comes both streaks of inspiration and days of writer's block, which is by far the most frustrating part of writing.

Finishing a draft can take anywhere from a few months to a couple years. No joke. My 2013 NaNoWriMo novel is still the longest one I've written to date, and I wrote it in two and a half months. But it took a year and a half to finish an incredibly short draft of what I now think is my best novel. The time doesn't matter as much as the content, but it does feel good when a draft goes fast.

4. Set it aside for at least a month.

If I go through the draft immediately after writing it, chances are I'll still think it's freaking fantastic. Which is good, I mean, I should think something is good if I'm going to attempt to do something with it. But I need to wait a little while before picking it up again so I can be horrified when I realize how many adverbs I used. *shudders*

This is the very basic outline of how I approach each project. No two stories are the same, which means every time I sit down to work on a new one, I'm going to do it a little differently. There are other things I like to do when I write, too.

-I'll create a book soundtrack, imagined as a movie. If I need inspiration, I'll listen to it while I write. Right now I have a pretty lengthy soundtrack for More Than Words, which always puts me in a good mood:

"Intertwined" - Dodie
"Neptune" - Sleeping At Last
"She's so High" - Tal Bachman
"Kiss Me" - Sixpence None the Richer
"There She Goes" - Sixpence None the Richer
"The Great Escape" - P!nk
"More Than Words" - Extreme
"Doctor Who Theme" - BBC National Orchestra Of Wales
"Whataya Want from Me" - Adam Lambert
"Yesterday" - The Beatles
"Listen To Your Heart" - Roxette
"Broken Wings" - Mr. Mister
"Animal" - Neon Trees
"I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" - Rex Harrison
"I Could Have Danced All Night" - Julie Andrews
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" - The Police
"Alone" - Glee Cast
"People Will Say We're In Love" - Gordon Macrae and Shirley Jones
"I Won't Say (I'm In Love)" - Susan Egan and The Muses

-I'll light my Sherlock candle, which smells awesome. I especially like to use it when I'm doing edits for Ms. Holmes.

-I get a snack (like popcorn or Cheez-Its) or a drink (usually some form of tea).

-I like to write in fourteen-point font, single-spaced, but edit in twelve-point font, double spaced. For whatever reason, that's how I'm most productive.

-I write out of order because inspiration for different scenes hits me at different times. This makes it easy to e-mail myself snippets of scenes while I'm out, because I'm not confined to writing in order. Having an outline helps with this, because I know where the scene can fit in later.

-I cast actors and actresses for the fake movie on my Pinterest board. The one I made for Beneath the Moon and Stars is still my favorite casting job. I'd flip my lid if I got to see a movie with these actors.

-I mirror my characters' expressions as I write them, but only if I'm by myself at my desk, because it looks freaking weird. If I'm trying to figure out how my character looks when they're mad, I'll act like them and figure out what my face is doing. It helps with descriptions, but would probably make others question my sanity.

-As much as it's hard, I have to resist the urge to fix my story as I go. Instead, I took a page out of Stephanie Morrill's book and write “GIRAFFE” in all caps by whatever needs fixing. That way it's really easy to find with a CTRL + F search later when it's time to edit. Usually "GIRAFFE" is paired with a snarky comment I've left myself, like, “You call that dialogue?”

So that's me.

What about you? What does your writing process look like? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I'm on the Front Page!

I was interviewed recently by my local newspaper! It was mainly to highlight my recent Scholastic writing award wins (two silver keys and three honorable mentions!), but the article also talked about my other writing projects, my blog, summer writing camps, and me playing the violin. Yesterday my parents surprised me with a physical copy of the paper and the article and my picture were on the front page! Crazy, right?!

If you want to check out the whole article (plus a video of me), you can click here. :)

Since the video they took included me playing the violin, I'm curious: what instruments do you play (or would like to play)? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt


This was such a well-written middle grade book. It has everything from Shakespeare references to living through the Vietnam War to normal pre-teen shenanigans. It could be a little slow in parts, but overall, it was a simple and compelling story.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson


(Psst, I wrote a review for this and you should definitely read it . . .)

Tartuffe by Molière


This was another play I had to read for my theater class and I really enjoyed it. The style of rhyme it uses distracted me more than anything because the word choice would be weird in spots, so I didn't care for that. The story, however, is super clever. It reminded me of one of those episodes in a sitcom where seven different things are going on, but only two people know about this one thing, and the other three think the other two are doing something totally different, and two of them might talk to each other but neither of them really know what the other is talking about, and the whole thing is humorous and confusing. You know what I'm talking about. I also liked Dorine, the maid. She wasn't afraid to sass anyone (my favorite lines from the play were in a scene where Tartuffe tells her to cover up. He says, "unclean thoughts are difficult to control/such sights as that can undermine the soul" and she basically tells him his soul must have crappy defenses then, because she could catch him stark naked and she wouldn't be turned on in the slightest.).

Wires and Nerve #1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate


Ikoooooo, my precious android warrior, I MISSED YOU. I'm also super happy about how much of Cress and Thorne we got to see, too, because there can never be too much Cress and Thorne. #OTP I was worried the illustrations would look weird because I had very vivid ideas of how each character looked, but Holgate did a nice job! (Wolf did look kinda weird to me, only because I imagined him more human than wolf, but you can't have everything.) I'm really glad there are more books in the Lunar Chronicles world for me to look forward to.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


THIS WAS SO GOOD. It's funny (like a "crack-a-rib-from-laughing" sort of hysterical), emotional, fascinating, and totally worth the read. If you're going to check it out, go for the audiobook. Trevor is an excellent narrator. And all of the different voices and accents he does and languages he speaks makes the story come to life.

Movies I Watched

"Groundhog Day"


I especially liked this because of how much I love the episode "Mystery Spot" from "Supernatural." Right down to the camera angles, the song on the radio each morning, and the street the main characters walk down, there were tons of similarities that were fun to spot. Reliving the same day over and over was almost as immensely frustrating to watch as it must have been to experience. It's nice, goofy fun.

"St. Vincent"


Such a quirky movie. I loved it. It's a dark comedy with an extremely flawed character, but the little boy in the story makes for a nice balance to the curmudgeonly old man. It reminded me of "Little Miss Sunshine," to give you an idea of the overall mood.

"La La Land"


I went into this with pretty low expectations after hearing more than a few grumbles about it, but I actually loved it! It was entrancing, whimsical, and artsy. The special effects and choreography (especially in the beginning) were amazing. The music isn't typical Broadway, so don't be fooled by the advertising of the movie as a musical. There is a lot of music and singing in it, but they don't all advance the plot, making it much different from other movie musicals. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have imperfect singing voices, but it sort of fits the theme, so I didn't mind it. For a film about Hollywood life, it didn't have a Hollywood ending at all. It's bittersweet, which I love



Another fantastic Oscar nominated film! I had no idea how long the first part of the movie was where it's set in India with the young Saroo, but it was excellent. You don't hear any English spoken for a long time, which totally immerses you in the culture. It had great acting from everyone (and little Saroo was absolutely adorable). Get ready to bawl your eyes out, though.

"The Lego Batman Movie"


Super clever. I loved the meta humor all throughout, which is exactly what I expected from another Lego movie. The cameos from Voldemort and some Daleks were awesome. Part of me wasn't sure whether I'd be able to stomach an entire movie with an emo Lego Batman as the protagonist, but Robin (and Alfred, of course) were good additions to tone down the angst.



So there was a lot about this I loved, especially from the more subtle effects, like the camera angles, lighting, sound, and the score. I'm also really pleased with how much representation was in this film. It's not every day you get a movie about black LGBT issues. The first part of the movie was easily my favorite, but the second half draaagged for me. I usually like simple movies, but I felt like the plot of this one wasn't totally compelling enough to keep me interested the whole time. When the movie ended, I felt like I must have been missing something. Overall, it just didn't feel satisfying. I can't even put my finger on what exactly I didn't like, it was just sort of slow.



Even without knowing this had been adapted from a play, it still would have felt very much like a play, to me. Almost the entire story takes place right around and inside Troy and Rose's house. It's simplistic in that sense, and also has a small, but strong cast. Viola Davis is great in everything she does and her Oscar was much deserved. The beginning simultaneously felt a little slow (when it came to setup) and fast (because of how quickly the characters talked and their dialect, especially Denzel Washington's character). But it only took me about fifteen or twenty minutes to totally get used to the style and become immersed in the story.

Quotes I Wrote

Toni bit her lip. The song was slow, way slower than anything she was comfortable with. And his smile was charming, way too smooth. Kindness from the others was risky, but kindness from someone who looked like he could bring an entire town to its knees if he grinned wide enough? That was flat out flirting with danger.
-More Than Words

I didn't get a lot of writing done this month between school and editing, but I did add yet another project to my endless list of things to finish up. A writing prompt on Pinterest caught my eye and two hours later, I'd semi-planned a YA fantasy novel called Captain Zahira and Her Wayward Crew involving pirates and cursed treasure and mermaids. You can check out the board here.

Obsessions I Acquired

"We Rate Dogs" Twitter account - This is the sort of cute, quality content I need on social media. Adorable dog pictures tweeted with funny captions every day? Yes, please. Sign me up.

"Intertwined" by Dodie - Dodie is my new favorite find when it comes to musical artists. How had I not heard of her before now?! I have "Sick of Losing Soulmates" on repeat on Spotify, but "Intertwined" is my absolute favorite from her. It gives me chills every time I hear it because it so perfectly fits my soundtrack for More Than Words.

EpicReads book recommendation bot - So if you're looking for yet another addition to your TBR list, check out EpicReads' Facebook page and message them. They have a super cool system that allows you to tell their recommendation bot your favorite books and authors or what kind of mood you're in, and they'll send you a book they think you'll like in a message. It's really fun. You even get gifs of Margot Wood along with their recommendation sometimes.

Picture of the Month 

I went to the "Fire and Ice Festival" in Lititz with my family and my friend Dana. It was super fun to just walk around the town, drink cocoa, and see the ice sculptures.

How was your February?

Friday, February 24, 2017

10 Important Bookworm Questions

You guys. YOU GUYS. This is my 500th blog post!!!

And now on to the tag, which I stole from Cait at "Paper Fury" (with her permission, of course).

UPDATE: So I got really excited when I posted this and only realized after publishing it that I actually have 500 posts including drafts total. So this is my 481st published post. Not the 500th. Oops.

1. What are your top 5 reads of 2017 so far?

So normally this would be an insane question to answer in February, because how could I possibly have five amazing reads at this point in the year??? But somehow I'm twelve books ahead of schedule for my Goodreads goal and do have five books I can use for this question. They are:

-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne (This is a reread, and I loved it just as much, if not more, the second time.)
-Wires and Nerve #1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate (Ikoooooo, my precious android warrior, I MISSED YOU. I'm also super happy about how much of Cress and Thorne we got to see, too, because there can never be too much Cress and Thorne. #OTP)
-Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Well rip my heart out and feed it to the freaking wolves, why don't you, Leigh? Thank god for Jesper lightening the mood.)
-Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (I reviewed this book last week, but ultimately, HOLY WOW.)
-Fairest by Marrissa Meyer (Everything Marissa Meyer writes turns to gold, apparently. This story was one of the best examples of character development I've ever seen.)

2. Top 5 favourite book friendships?


I LOVE well-written friendships in YA. I ship them as much as I ship romances. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about it.

-Harry, Ron, and Hermione from Harry Potter.
-Calvin and Hobbes from Calvin & Hobbes.
-Cinder and Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles.
-Katniss and Finnick from The Hunger Games. (Apparently I have a thing for annoyingly charming guys driving the female protagonist crazy even though they secretly like the dork.)
-Nimona and Lord Ballister Blackheart from Nimona.

3. Most anticipated releases of 2017?

I also wrote a blog post about this! My excitement shifts from book to book about every six seconds, but for right now, these are the ones I really can't wait for:

-The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (WHICH COMES OUT IN FOUR DAYS AHHHHHH.)
-The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
-Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
-Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
-The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

4. How many books are on your TBR pile?


Ah ha ha ha.


So many.

5. What are your feelings on book merchandise?

LOVE IT LIKE I LOVE CHOCOLATE. I'm a sucker for Etsy products. My wallet glares at me whenever I see something shiny and fandom/book-related.

6. Who is the latest amazing author you have discovered?

Hmmm, most recently, I'd have to say Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Leigh Bardugo. I binged the Six of Crows duology and devoured the audiobook for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe last December. One made me cry from how beautiful it was the other made me cry because of the INTENSE PAIN. You figure out which was which.

7. How long have you been a book blogger?

Ever since I started blogging, so I guess about nine years?

8. What's your favourite thing about reading?

How can I pick a favorite?! I can't. So I'll pick several. Because I'm a rebel.

-Letting my imagination run wild
-Making best (fictional) friends
-Escaping into different lands
-Forgetting about the real world for a while
-Being emotionally manipulated (because I just can't seem to get attached to someone without them dying)
-Learning about people who are different from me
-Reading about people who are like me
-Being entertained

And countless other things.

9. What are you reading soon?

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler for a book club. I have a terrible time deciding what to read next because I want to read everything at once, so I'll probably spend half a day staring at my bookshelf once I'm done with Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.

10. Describe yourself in 5 book titles.

This is such a fun question and I had a hard time narrowing it down to five, but here goes:

-Fangirl (For obvious reasons.)
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Me at every party. Why be the center of attention when you can hang out with a couple friends off to the side?)
-You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (It's a good thing there are places for my weirdness to be appreciated.)
-Made You Up (Me with every character I've ever created.)
-The Hunger Games (I'm probably hungry like 80% of the time. Or I just think I'm hungry.)

Tag, you're it! Go ahead and steal this for your own blog or leave responses to the questions in the comments. :)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Allegedly (book review)

Released: January 24th, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 387

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.


Check it out, you guys, I'm actually reading a new release for once!!! This is the first 2017 release I've read this year, and damn, we're really starting off with a bang. I'm hoping this is a good sign for the rest of this year's releases. I also want to do more reviews of newer books since it's been wayyy too long since I've done any and I forgot just how much I enjoyed it.

So onto the book.


Don't worry, I'll be expanding on that comment much more eloquently, but if I had to give a reaction with one word, it'd be that, because WOW. And if I had to give a reaction with three words, it'd be, "oh my God," since I whispered that to myself at night into my Kindle screen.

Yep, it's that sort of book. Holy plot twists, Batman! I had no idea going into the story just how much I wouldn't know until the very end. Throughout the whole book, you never have all the information. A lot of the time you feel like you're stumbling around in a dark room, looking for a light switch, only to flip it on and find out you're not even in the same room anymore. You might think you know what's going on, but trust me, you don't. What I thought was a contemporary read turned out to be a mystery, too, and a chilling one at that.

On the subject of never knowing what's going on, I also had an incredibly difficult time trusting any character. Any of them! This didn't affect my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, it's part of why I liked it. I felt like I was on edge, looking over my shoulder to see if another plot twist was coming, the entire time. It's what made the whole story so gripping. If you're looking for something to just relax and read over the weekend, Allegedly isn't going to be that. But it will be one hell of a ride. Just when you think you've met a character who could be a potential ally, think again! No one can be trusted. Including the protagonist.

Mary is an unreliable narrator. The trauma she's experienced as a kid (physical and sexual abuse, having to care for her mother at the age of seven or eight and take on way too much responsibility, being hated in the public eye for what she allegedly did, etc.) made facts and details about any important event blurred. Something she thought may have happened actually might not have, or vice versa. Nothing is clear because we see everything through Mary's eyes, and her perception is seriously skewed. This made trying to find out the truth that much more impossible. It's infuriating and addicting.

Another part I loved about the book were the excerpts from articles, books, and interviews about Mary and her trial. It added to the mystery, both by giving you more information (which may or may not be true), and leaving you with more questions. It was interesting to see how so many people judged Mary in different ways.

The only part I'm not sure about (and ultimately what prevented me from giving the book five stars) is the ending. It's so, so, so hard to talk about without giving anything away, but to me it felt rushed and out of place. Part of me still wonders if I'm being too harsh, but my initial reaction to the last chapter wasn't an, "OMG WHAT I CAN'T BELIEVE IT THIS IS SO WOW" sort of reaction. Instead, it left me so confused, I had to reread the whole chapter again. The intended plot twist (if I'm understanding the intent of it correctly) could have been excellent if it had been executed well, but I'm not sure it was. It felt sloppy when everything else had been so carefully thought out. But maybe I'll feel differently in a few days.

Overall, Allegedly was dark, gritty, raw, gripping, shocking, and addictive. It has a diverse cast of characters, covers topics such as racism and mental illness, and will haunt you for days after you've finished the book.

I rate it:

Have you read Allegedly? What did you think? What are your favorite books with unreliable narrators? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my fantastic followers (doesn't that sound like a superhero group--Fantastic Followers?)! To celebrate, I'll leave you with some cheesy "Hamilton" valentines below, as well as links to some of my other Valentine's Day themed blog posts. Enjoy! :)

-"Dear OTP (TCWT Blog Chain)"
-"What Makes a Great Fictional Romance?"
-"Beautiful People--February" (2016)
-"Beautiful People--February" (2017)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Beautiful People Linkup--February

Cait at "Paper Fury" is co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month she announces a new set of questions to answer about your characters so you can learn more about them. This month's theme is Valentine's Day! I'll be answering the questions for two sets of couples. Patch and Toni are from a YA paranormal novel, More Than Words. Lottie and Ezra are from a YA sci-fi novel, Project Moonstone.

I don't have face claims for Patch and Toni yet, but here are Ezra and Lottie!

1. How and why did they meet?

Patch came back home from a long trip to find that the people living in his house had just about quadrupled. Toni, who was baking a cake in the kitchen, was one of the first new people he met.

Ezra "met" Lottie because of his job monitoring test subjects exploring different planets to see if they're inhabitable. For three years, Lottie was "Test Subject #93" to him, while Lottie didn't even know he existed. Eventually she met him later because during his mission to retrieve her from the planet, they both end up on a different one.

2. What were their first impressions of each other?

Hahahahahaha . . . not great for Patch and Toni. Patch was tired and hot and irritable, which really isn't a great way to start off meeting new people, especially with how often he already sticks his foot in his mouth. Toni mostly ended up rolling her eyes a lot at him and making sarcastic remarks.

Lottie doesn't trust government officials in general, so she was pretty quiet and cautious when they met. Ezra didn't know what to think of her, but he knew she was hiding something and was curious to know why she'd killed the man that caused her to be doomed to five years of planet exploration.

3. How would they prove their love for each other?

In subtle, silent ways. Both Patch and Toni have different reasons why they can't say the words "I love you," so they try to show it with little actions. For example, here's the last stanza of my poem "More Than Words" that goes along with the story:

"Three syllables are so heavy.
I can't take any more weight on these
aching shoulders. Let me tell you without
words. Let me brush the back of your hand with
my fingertips. Let me tell you with
a smile. Let me drive while you sleep
passenger side. Let me hold you close when
night comes.
Just for a moment.
Only for a moment.
Long enough to tell myself that
maybe, I could
deserve you one day.
Long enough to convince myself that
one day I will be able to carry those words,
and it will be beautiful." (This poem was part of a poetry collection that won a Silver Key for the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, by the way!!!)

In order to survive, Lottie and Ezra have no choice but to stick together, but even if they did, they wouldn't choose anything else. Other planets and galaxies have nothing on their pure determination not to be separated. They would cross impossible distances just to make sure the other was safe.

4. What would be an ideal date?

Adventure. Patch gets restless if he stays in one place for too long and Toni likes to wander. Together, they rid the world of evil spirits and get to explore new places all at the same time. But they wouldn't say no to a little dancing, too.

A fancy dinner somewhere quiet and warm. After years of less-than-ideal living situations, Lottie and Ezra have simple pleasures.

5. Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Who the best Doctor is. At least, Patch pretends to disagree with Toni on that, because he knows it drives her crazy that he somehow can't understand just how amazing David Tennant is. He still claims that Eccleston is his favorite, but he's coming around. Slowly.

At first, Ezra refuses to believe that the government that's been established in the Milky Way is as flawed as Lottie says it is. This changes over time, but it's a sore spot for both of them in the beginning.

6. List “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc.)

Toni insists that any kind of food stolen off of Patch's plate tastes better than if she just ate her own. Patch doesn't see it. Then again, Toni doesn't see how baked goods she makes taste better than if Patch made his own.

Lottie is severely allergic to nuts, and Ezra takes great care to make sure they're not ever in her food.

7. What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

Toni tells Patch the truth about her curse and what's happened to people she's loved because of it. In return, Patch reveals his fears and insecurities. Not only do they become friends very quickly, but confidants, too.

By the end of the book, Ezra knows the truth as to why Lottie killed a man, and it's not at all what he expected. Lottie is also the only one who knows where Ezra's true loyalties lie.

8. What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

It's a total cliché, but their love for each other. In different ways, it'd be dangerous for Patch and Toni if their true feelings were revealed.

For most of the book, Lottie doesn't tell Ezra about her daughter. And until he completely trusts her, Ezra won't reveal any government secrets.

9. How would their lives be different without each other?

Neither Toni nor Patch would be as vulnerable as they're able to be with each other. They've become emotionally healthier thanks to their relationship.

Lottie would literally be dead and Ezra would have become a mindless soldier. Ezra gave Lottie the tools she needed to survive while Lottie gave Ezra the tools he needed to think and doubt.

10. Where do they each see this relationship going?

Nothing farther than friendship. Anything more would seem impossible.

As far as it can go with the complications of Lottie being an outlaw and Ezra a potential deserter/traitor.

Your turn! I want to hear all about your fictional couples. Leave a comment!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January Wrap-Up

Books I Read

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park


I really enjoyed reading a book set in a place I rarely get to see portrayed, as well as a different time. It was a really simple, character-based story, which I usually like, but the characters were a little flat to make it completely interesting. It picked up toward the end, but dragged in other places. It's a short book and an easy read.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer


This may be one of the best studies in character development I've ever read. Holy creepy. I was horrified. I'm disgusted by Levana, but I also pity her. I only wish I could've read this before reading Winter so I could know about Levana's backstory before the finale. But WOW, the whole thing was just like watching a car wreck in slow motion. I knew exactly where it was headed but I was still in suspense. Well done, Marissa Meyer.

Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock


This book is told completely through postcards and letters (some of which are in physical pockets so you have to pull the letter out to unfold and read), which was fascinating and unique. But sometimes the handwriting was hard to read, which made it more real, in a way, but also more frustrating. I also didn't know it was part of a series, so the ending came as a shock. There are several plot twists throughout the whole story.

The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 and #1 by Margaret Stohl


I'm enjoying comics way more than I thought I initially did. The art is crisper and easier to follow than some other comics I've read, which helps. I also love Captain Marvel's character. She's tough and snarky and totally her own person. The hardcore science-fiction element is really cool, even if all the different alien races and issues can be a little tricky to follow.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo


This would've been a five-star read if it hadn't draaaaagged at the beginning and a little bit later int he middle. But YAY FOR ALL THE SHIPS. I won't give anything away, but each couple in the book was unique and had very distinct issues pertaining to the relationship. And it was perfectly blended into the action and sneakiness of it all. An alternate title for the book also could've been Kaz Brekker Has Some Issues to Work Out because wow, was he dark. I would not want to cross him. He needs a big ol' mug of calming tea and a warm blanket and probably lots of therapy. Whereas in the first book certain characters had me gritting my teeth because they were a trash fire waiting to happen, this book totally made me love ALL OF THEM. Especially Wylan (my redheaded cinnamon roll), Jesper (my problematic flirt), and Nina (my waffle-loving sass bucket). Can I befriend all of them, please and thank you? And don't even get me started on the oceans of tears that came later . . .

Oedipus Rex


Speaking of problematic characters . . . Anyways, I had to read this for my theatre class and was really interested by the mythology and the discussions about what Oedipus' hamartia was and fate versus free will. The timeline of the story can be really confusing if you're not familiar with the whole mythology like the ancient Greeks were when they would watch the play, so trying to keep the characters and their backgrounds straight was a little bit of a trick. Super fascinating, though.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 and #2 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay


Thes comic are unlike any "superhero" stories I've ever read. It's really neat to view this kingdom from the perspective of the guards to the royal family rather than from the royal family itself. I love Ayo and Aneka tons. Their personalities are just different enough to make for an interesting clash, but similar enough to mesh together when they need to. I can't wait for more installments in the series!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon


I can't remember any book I've read (and if I have, it was long enough ago I can't remember) that's had a protagonist who was on the spectrum. It was really interesting to get an insight onto what that might feel like. Especially since there were times during the whole mystery that, as the reader, I could put the pieces together, but Christopher couldn't always figure out. But since he was so logical in his approach to everything, there were a lot of analogies to math problems and riddles that were super complicated and took up a lot of the story, so I tended to skim over those.
Movies I Watched



I'd been super excited to see this movie ever since hearing about the concept and really enjoyed it upon first watching it. Like Fairest, it was interesting to see how a mostly good person under the right circumstances might succumb to doing something totally unforgivable. Except for the ending (which was a typical Hollywood ending and could've been way better if they'd dared to stray from fairytale conclusions), it was really unique and exciting.

"10 Things I Hate About You"


This was really clever and funny. Some of the characters and situations were a little cliché and predictable, but I enjoyed Kat and Patrick. I appreciated all of the feminist rants and how Kat simply did not care what anyone else thought of her.

"Hidden Figures"


GO SEE THIS MOVIE. It was hysterical, frustrating, and inspirational all at once. I didn't know the history behind any of the women involved in the John Glenn NASA mission. The whole story was really impressive. I loved every minute of it.

"Mona Lisa Smile"


As far as being some kind of revolutionary feminist film, it didn't exactly hit that mark for me like it probably did when it came out in 2003. But, it was still a great story that portrayed all kinds of different women and raised the question of what it means to be a feminist.



Oh my gosh, this was such a fun movie. It was hilarious, delightfully British, and inspirational. It gave hope about the possibility of two totally different groups of people being able to unite for a common cause. I loved it.

Quotes I Wrote

Nothing new to show this month, mostly because I've been spending every free second I get editing. But I do want to remind you that my poetry anthology, Instructions For Flight, is now available as an ebook for $0.99! Go check it out! :)

Picture of the Month 

My friend Sam showed me this cool photo editing app, and I tried it out on a picture of Scout. I loved the shadowy sketch effect!
It's a little hard to see in this picture, but my mom gave me the idea to add the smiley face from Sherlock onto this board since the pattern looked similar to the wallpaper. It's a super cool and geeky way to display all of my fun pins.

How was your January?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Last summer at one of my writer's camps, I worked a lot on short stories, specifically flash-ficiton. I struggle more with flash-fiction than I do longer stories, generally because anything I write tends to run pretty long (oops). BUT, I did manage to write something super short that I am particularly proud of, so I thought I'd share!


            She lay on the steps, not because she couldn't get up, but because she was curious if anyone would stop to help her. No one did. No one asked. She rubbed at her twisted ankle, tested her weight, then stood. The students flowed around her, a steady ocean of both order and chaos, while she stood still, a wind-up toy stuttering to a stop.
            Yesterday was no different. When she tripped over her own two clumsy feet and her notebooks went flying, nobody stopped. Nobody picked them up. They stepped around her as if she didn't exist.
            Today the stairs were slippery from wet feet squeaking along them, creating puddles like the one she had been unfortunate enough to come across. She went tumbling down six steps. She counted. And no one stopped.
            Were they too absorbed in their own thoughts and worries to see what had happened? Or did they just not care?
            She thought she'd seen him glance her way, the one with the storm cloud eyes, long nose, perpetual bed head, and crooked smile. But when she smiled back, wiping her tears on the back of her muddy sleeve, he lifted his hand in greeting to someone behind her. His friend slammed his shoulder into hers, knocking her into a wall that greeted her with open arms. The friend kept walking. Like he'd gone right through her.
            The day after, something changed. She could feel it as soon as she stepped through the doors, the ones the other students had let close right in her face despite the fact she was only a few steps behind them. She limped slightly on the way to class, the tingling in her foot similar to the tingling in her stomach when she felt the shift. Something was different. She didn't know how or why, but it was. In her excitement she couldn't even remember why her foot was hurting in the first place, like how every day she couldn't quite remember how she'd gotten to school.
            The difference was the boy who'd almost looked at her the day before--the one with the storm cloud eyes, long nose, perpetual bed head, crooked smile--sat behind her in class. She didn't know it until he'd tapped her on the shoulder with his pencil, tapping her with the eraser, tapping, tapping, tapping. A jolt of energy went through her arm, radiating out from the spot where he'd touched her. Contact. When was the last time she'd had contact?
            "Hey," he said, and the rasp of his voice, undeniably directed at her, was thrilling enough to make her insides explode, like the contents of a shaken soda. "I don't think I've seen you here before."
            What she wanted to say, "You can see me?" But what came out instead was, "I don't think you have, either."
            He smiled again, that crooked smile an offbeat Indie song. "Are you new?"
            "No, I've been coming here for--" She trailed off, unable to recall.
            He didn't seem to notice, instead pointed with his pencil at the doodles on her arm, a quote surrounded by stars. Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real? "Harry Potter fan?"
            "I just like the quote. It makes me feel less crazy."
            "Why do you say that?"
            She shrugged. "Sometimes I wonder if anyone can see me at all."
            "What do you mean?"
            She snorted. "Really? You haven't seen me all this time."
            Something about her sarcasm caused his eyebrows to pull together, form a different kind of crooked line. "I don't know why. I feel like I would've noticed you before."
            She ignored his feeble excuse. "Who are you?"
            He opened his mouth, but no words left. He opened his mouth with the intention of a response, that much she could tell, but why he couldn't answer, she didn't know.
            "I don't know," he echoed her confusion. "I--I don't remember anything before coming to school."
            "Neither do I," she admitted. "Hence part of the crazy."
            "It's like we're ghosts," he said, almost like he was talking to himself rather than her.
            Ghosts. Ghosts.
            Tires screeched in the distance, memories barreling into her, and then she remembered the pain. Before she could convince herself this heart-pounding panic was a dream, she gripped his hand and dragged him outside, past students and teachers who paid them no mind. He didn't question her, not even when they stumbled into the snowy streets. She jerked to the sidewalk, him stopping with her, and she watched as a car that rippled at the edges skidded on the wet pavement, losing all control, and slammed into another version of her. A younger version. She watched as her other self arced through the air and cracked her head on the street, crumpling in a heap that no one but the driver saw.
            The car sped away. It and her broken body vanished.
            "Was that--" He started.
            "I remember," she whispered.
            She turned to him, the words lodging in her throat, spilling out her eyes. Suddenly her foot didn't hurt anymore. Nothing hurt. Because there was nothing. She was nothing. Before she faded into the air, she hoped he understood through the ink bleeding down her face. Lights flashed in front of her eyes. And she rested.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 YA Releases I Absolutely Can't Wait For

I did a post like this last year, but me being me, I only got to about half of the books on the list. What can I say? I'm easily distracted. And I'm also still catching up from YA books published in, like, 2014. I'M AWFUL AT STAYING CURRENT. However, with my goal to read more current books this year, as well as lots of diverse books, I should be better at keeping up in 2017. What am I excited to read, you're probably asking?* Well, I'll tell you.

*And if you're not asking this, you should be.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard (release date: January 12th)

Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

Why I'm excited: I've never read a book about someone who is a selective mute, and I've read far too few books about someone who's deaf. This just sounds too perfect and adorable not to be good.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (release date: January 17th)

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.


Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (release date: January 24th)

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.

Why I'm excited: This looks like it's going to be heartbreaking, eye-opening, and timely. It'll probably be hard and infuriating to read, but it's probably going to be a really important book, too. I don't think this will be one I'll be able to put down. Plus, again, THE COVER. Is 2017 the year of awesome covers?!

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer (release date: January 31st)

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure -- with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Why I'm excited: You guys. YOU GUYS. MARISSA MEYER IS DOING A GRAPHIC NOVEL. *cue fangirl screeching here* And Iko's the star of the story! I've always loved Iko in every single Lunar Chronicles book. I can't wait to see her kicking butt and swooning over Kai in a graphic novel form.

Starfall by Melissa Landers (release date: February 7th)

When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend...with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn't exactly in need of heroics—she's claimed her birthright as Eturia's queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn't a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family's complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

Why I'm excited: I luuurrrved Starflight, and immediately added the sequel to my TBR list when I saw it existed. I'm not sure why I'm such a fan of groups of dysfunctional people bickering in close quarters (especially on spaceships), but they're always my favorite kinds of books. I guess this series is a duology like Carve the Mark is, so this makes me wonder if 2017 is also the year of duologies? Which I wouldn't mind at all, because trilogies always feel one book too many.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (release date: February 28th)

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

Why I'm excited: I have a feeling this will quickly become a bestseller and be THE YA novel of 2017. I can't think of a better time to publish this story. And Amandla Stenberg is going to be in the movie?! I LOVE her. (And the cover, you guys, LOOK AT IT.) This may be the top book I can't wait to read this year.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamine Alire Sáenz (release date: March 7th)

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

Why I'm excited: I couldn't put Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe down when I first read it last month, and I know I was way late to the party on that one, so I can't wait to enjoy fangirling about this one with everyone else. Because it already looks great and it seems like it'd be really hard for a writer that good to let us down.

You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (release date: March 7th)

A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags,
You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

Why I'm excited: THIS IS GOING TO BE DIVERSE AND ARTSY AND I CAN'T WAIT FOR IT. And we're getting illustrations of the graffiti?! This is great. LOOK AT THAT COVER.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (release date: April 11th)

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.


Why I'm excited: Okay, first off, it's Becky Albertalli. I loved Simon, and this looks equally as adorable. Secondly, an overweight protagonist! With a lesbian twin! And a geeky boy! There's so much potential for this book to be the sort of story I devour overnight. I know I keep freaking out over these covers, but the coverrrrr. AND it's being released on my birthday, which makes me tempted to break my book buying ban because, hey, it's my birthday. (I'll stay strong, I keep telling myself . . .)

Literally by Lucy Keating (release date: April 11th)

A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance blurs the line between reality and fiction, and is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut
Dreamology, which SLJ called, “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.”

Why I'm excited: I think you can pretty much guess that I'm already in love with this cover, but I'm also totally in love with the entire concept of this book. I recently watched "Ruby Sparks," which has a similar plot, and couldn't take my eyes away from it. I've never seen an author write themselves into a story like this, so I'll also be curious to see how that plays out. The meta episodes of "Supernatural" where Chuck was in it were always my favorites, so I think this is going to be a big hit.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz (release date: April 11th)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and The Descendants comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1
New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.

Why I'm excited: *breaks into song* HELPLEEEEESSSSSS.

But honestly, what better way to fuel my "Hamilton" obsession than with a YA historical fiction about Hamilton and the Schuyler sisters?! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME INDEED.

(Also, that cover.)

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (release date: May 2nd)

All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

Why I'm excited: I need more lesbian romances in my life, and this one caught my attention right away. It also seems like one that's going to break my heart, though, so I'll have to stay on my guard as it reaches the end. (Although even if I know it's going to be sad, I'll still probably be a blubbering mess.)

It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sugiura (release date: May 9th)

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

Why I'm excited: What was I just saying about needing more lesbian romances? 2017 is all too happy to be giving them to me. (Don't worry, I won't mention how beautiful the cover is this time, even though it is.) Look at alllllll the drama that's going to happen in this story. The question is, am I going to end up heartbroken at the end of it?

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (release date: May 16th)

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

Why I'm excited: Oh my gosh, look at these blatant stereotypes (nice guys/bad boys, love triangles, etc.) being shot down like it's no big deal. This is so incredibly clever! Spies and (if the plot summary is suggesting what I think it's suggesting) boys falling in love with each other? I need it yesterday. (*strokes the cover* I won't say a word . . .)

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (release date: May 30th)

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland,
Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums and snippets of Wallace's fanfiction, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s
Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Why I'm excited: "Uniquely formatted." "Fan-fiction." "Will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson's Nimona and Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl." (*whispers* the cover) WAS THIS BOOK MADE FOR ME OR WHAT.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (release date: May 30th)

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Why I'm excited: This looks like a total diverse fluff fest and I am so excited for it. It'll be the perfect summer read. And I have to say, it's refreshing to see a WOC prominently on the cover.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (release date: June 6th)

After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

Why I'm excited: Can we say quirky? I've never seen a plot quite like this. And I've definitely never read a book with an asexual protagonist, so I'm super pumped about that. All around, I don't think I'll be able to compare this book with any other, which makes me even more excited to discover what it's all about.

What 2017 YA release are you excited about? Help my TBR list grow to frightening numbers and share in the comments!