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.


Goodreads

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.

WOW.


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

3/5

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

4/5

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

4/5

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

4/5

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

4/5

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

3/5

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

4/5

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

3/5

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

"Passengers"

3/5

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"

4/5

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"

5/5

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"

4/5

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.

"Pride"

5/5

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

Invisible

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!


Invisible

            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.


Why I'm excited: IT'S VERONICA ROTH. AND LOOK AT THAT COVER.

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.

Right?


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!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Thanks for tagging me, Lara! :) This looks like tons of fun. The rules are: 1. Answer the eleven questions and 2. Ask eleven questions for the people you tag to answer. The theme is sunshine and happiness, so obviously I have to jump in, because who doesn't love sunshine and happiness?


1. Who's your least favourite character EVER? Describe - in detail - what it is that makes you hate them so much. "They're just the worst" or something similar is not acceptable (What? I thought you guys already knew about my bossiness!)

Holden Caulfield.

He drives me crazy.

The worst part is he's not even someone I can hate. He's not a villain. He's not even particularly despicable. So I can't love to hate him. But I can't love him, either. So I just had to read The Catcher in the Rye in its entirety and grind my teeth the whole time. Holden complained way too much. He was whiny and apathetic about almost everything. Anytime an opportunity was presented to him or he was offered help in some way, he turned it down. If he had truly been in a terrible situation that he couldn't fix, I would've been fine with the complaining. But he had options! I'm fine with a little teenage angst in any book, but he personified the kind of angst I can't stand.

2. Do you have any yellow/orange books? What do you want to tell me about them?

I thought I would own more yellow books seeing as my favorite color is yellow, my room is yellow, and pretty much anything that is primarily yellow jumps out at me. But I only own two orange books.


They're not even my favorite covers, but looking at any of my favorite books makes me warm and fuzzy.

3. What does reading smell like to you?

Hot chocolate and the pages of a mass market paperback book.

4. How often do you have doubts about being a blogger?

I don't think I've ever had doubts about being a blogger. It's just a part of who I am now. Doubts about the content I put on my blog is a different story, though. I choose carefully what parts of my writing I share, especially when I'm sharing something from a first draft. But I think that's normal for any blogger to have doubts about something.

5. Where would a book have to be set for you to pick it up immediately, no questions asked?

Hogwarts. ;)

But anything set in London, Paris, or someplace like a library is usually really interesting. Fantasy worlds are always fun, too.

6. What's your reading speed? Do you like it that way, or would you rather it was faster/slower?

It always depends on the book and what else is happening in my life, but I'm pretty average when it comes to reading speeds. I can get a 300-400 page book done in about a week. When it's a shorter book and I really love it, I'll get it done even faster. Sometimes the length doesn't matter because I want to savor a book rather than blaze through it. I guess it all really depends. In general I wish I were even faster because that would mean I could read more books in a shorter amount of time, but I'm okay where I am.

7. Tell me about a quote you can write down almost word for word without looking it up (almost everyone's got one, I reckon). What does it mean to you? What's made you remember it so clearly?

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." It's nothing grand and it's probably not even the best opening line ever, but I love it. I've heard it so many times when listening to the audio that when I remember it, I hear it with Jim Dale's exact inflection. Every Harry Potter quote feels like home to me.

8. At what time of year are you happiest?

April (around my birthday,) summertime (especially during my writer's camps), November (during NaNoWriMo), and December (pretty much all month with Christmas excitement).

9. What childhood toy do you have the fondest memories of?

This one's easy. I have a stuffed cat named Menedy (rhymes with Kennedy) that used to be white but is now gray, used to be able to hold her head up on her own but now flops around, and used to be fluffy but now feels like fuzzy socks that have gotten washed too many times. She's really old. Probably thirteen or fourteen-years-old now. Menedy went with me everywhere I went for years. One time I left her at the library and cried the whole way we drove back because I was scared someone was going to pick up that ratty cat and keep her for themselves. Pick up any Calvin and Hobbes comic and that was me at six-years-old with Menedy, only with a little less mischief and a little more reading.

10. How do you feel about school? What is/was it like for you? Love it or hate it?

I love school! I'm homeschooled, so I've never had the normal classroom experience (except for recently with my college classes, but that's nowhere near the same as middle school or high school), but I've always loved learning. Well, I tolerate math and science, but I love history and English and reading and homework. I like getting good grades and scores on tests. I like writing essays. What else would you expect from a Ravenclaw?

11. If you could change one thing about your blog without having to do it yourself, what would it be?

Maybe the design. I've had the same background on my blog ever since I started it, but I'm too scared to mess with it. Anytime I try to do something tech-y I end up spending hours on it and inevitably I screw it up somehow and have to undo all of my messes. I wouldn't want to risk messing with anything on my blog that could accidentally delete important files or something like that. But it would be cool to change my look sometime.

I tag . . .

Nevillegirl
Boquinha
Dr. Mark
Siths and Jedis
Carly
Rain
Selena

Even if you weren't tagged, feel free to steal this tag for yourself!

My questions:

1. What song never fails to put you in a good mood? Do you have any memories associated with it?
2. What's your favorite comfort food?
3. What TV show (or a specific episode from a TV show) makes you laugh the hardest?
4. If you could only read books from one author for the rest of your life, which author would you choose?
5. Do you prefer to read when it's sunny out or raining/snowing?
6. Cats or dogs? Why?
7. Do you have any posters in your room? What are they?
8. What's your favorite audiobook?
9. What are your top three favorite colors and what do you associate them with?
10. What's one of your favorite diverse books?
11. Which animal perfectly (or as close to perfect as you can get) represents you and why?