Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne


I wasn't aware that J.K. Rowling hadn't actually written the script until I had the book in my hands, but once I did, I tried to go into the story without high or low expectations. And I still loved it. Obviously it'll be a thousand times better seeing it rather than just reading the script (having so much dialogue and so little description was a weird experience for me at first, but I love dialogue, so I was okay with it), but for a Harry Potter book that wasn't written by J.K. Rowling, it was really, really good. The characters we know and love are all of a sudden grown up, but they didn't feel like totally different people. They'd developed as people in a realistic way, even if it was sometimes frustrating. (My only mild complaint was that Ron didn't get much time in the book at all, and even when he did it was only as comic relief. His one shot at some kind of heroism didn't work out as I thought it might. Merp.) But the world still felt like one I recognized. A lot of people complained that there was no typical plotline of Potter and Co. going through classes at Hogwarts and battling evil in their downtime, but my argument there is that this isn't the same world Harry was in. Voldemort's gone, so that means there will be different complications. And I loved the time travel plots in this, because the Time Turner plot in PoA was one of my favorites.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


Talk about a chilling tale. This is not the kind of book you want to read unless you're in the right mood for something heavy. It was great to see so many diverse characters given main voices and different sides of the same story. The entire story is told in fifty-four minutes, but they dragged on just like they were supposed to in that ominous way. I will admit that Tyler's character and his motivations mostly confused me because I felt like he contradicted himself in a lot of ways, but everything else seemed very realistic.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin


I FINALLY finished it! It was a little slow to start, but now that the groundwork has been laid and I've gotten to know the characters and politics between the different families, I think it'll go faster now. George R.R. Martin may be gruesome, but man, can he paint a picture. I know I'm not supposed to get attached to anyone, buuuuut . . . it's me we're talking about. I love Arya. And I like Jon and Daenaryoiusoijkfs. (Totally how you spell her name.)

The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal by Kathleen Smith


This was a not-so-thinly-disguised way to build up a girl's confidence using fangirl terms and examples from different fandoms. It had a lot of good advice, especially since it was coming from a licensed therapist, and it was fun seeing it in such relatable ways (although it focused a lot on fashion and "hairporn" and that's just not the kind of fangirl I am). Boys could definitely read it, too, and get just as much out of it, but they definitely weren't the intended audience.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang


I picked this up because Felecia Day had written a blurb for the cover, which is 1000% enough of a reason to buy a book on a whim. Fun story with great illustrations, but it was definitely a little preachy. It's all good and fine if you want to get your message in there, but the story and the characters should come first when you write a book. Find a way to artistically weave it in so they don't suffer.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel


If I had to sum up this book in one word, that word would be "ummm . . ." I honestly have no clue what to make of this. There's definitely some kind of metaphor for everything he wrote, but I'm utterly baffled. The last part was really fun to read, though, because Odo the chimpanzee was adorable.

Movies I Watched

"Jason Bourne"


Not as good as all of the other movies, but I really enjoyed it. It was still very much classic Jason Bourne. And I liked the side characters they introduced.



I didn't realize this was a book until I was about to watch the movie, but from reviews I've seen for both, it looks like the movie was better anyways! A lot of the characters were really cliché, but the concept was awesome and you're never bored. Ever. It was off the hook.

Quotes I Wrote

Lots of writing for 'Til the Last Star Dies, but I can't quote any of it without giving anything away!

Obsessions I Acquired

"Stranger Things" - Along with everybody else in the world, it seems, my dad and I got into the show and devoured it. It's the perfect amount of humor and creepiness and paranormal fun. I loved the middle school characters especially, along with the grumpy sheriff.

Picture of the Month 

My brother decided to try putting his glasses on Scout.
I got to go shopping for fun stuff in preparation for my two college classes this year (General Psychology and English Comp 101).
This is what happens when you get a bunch of kids from writer's camp together for a sleepover. Dork music videos and 2 a.m. viewings of "Sherlock" with enough candy to put all of Australia in a sugar coma.
My mom and I went to New York to see "Les Miserablés" and catch a Ham4Ham show. One of the last performances for each thing, apparently! Here's me with the Schuyler Sisters.
We managed to push ourselves to the front of the crowd for Ham4Ham. Well, the front of the crowd of people who didn't enter the lottery.
There's the Richard Rodgers!!
And the Imperial Theatre.
Inside the theatre.
How was your August?

Friday, August 26, 2016

8 Books to Read If You Like "Gilmore Girls"

It's been a long time since I did a post like this one, but the "Gilmore Girls" revival is simultaneously hurdling toward us (how is it almost September already???) and taking forever to get here (but OMG it could not get here any slower).

I thought this would be the perfect time to go through every book shelved on my Goodreads account. And there were lots.

I did a post last year like this, except it was books to read if you like "Doctor Who." A lot of us book nerds love Netflix almost as much as we love libraries. Reading is awesome. TV shows are awesome. There are so many ways to figure out which book to read next if you like a certain one. You can talk to your book blogger friends, consult Goodreads, find other books that author has written, etc. And Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and every streaming site out there is just all too willing to recommend other shows to you until you're drowning in the amount of episodes you have yet to watch. And obviously you're going to watch twelve today, because the dishes can wait. But resources to figure out which book to read if you like a certain TV show? Not many.

Let's fix that.

The cool thing is this works both ways. If you like "Gilmore Girls," now you have a whole bunch of new books to read that are similar to it to pass the time until November. If you don't watch "Gilmore Girls," but like the books listed, now you have a new show to watch!

Oh, Sam--I mean Dean. You have much to learn.

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

(I use any excuse I can get to mention this book.) But in all seriousness, this book's simplicity matches that of "Gilmore Girls." And the dialogue! Rainbow Rowell is a master at dialogue. Her level of wit and the naturalness of her characters when they're speaking are what I hope to achieve in my own writing. And for those of you who watch "Gilmore Girls," you know that feeling you get when you hear the theme song or see the DVDs? That's how you feel after reading Eleanor & Park; all fuzzy and warm, and you immediately want to read it again.

2. Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest by Jennifer Crusie (and also many authors)

Maybe I should've started with this one, since it's the most obvious. An entire book of essays dedicated to studying the show, the characters, and everything in between? Yes, please. Some of the essays are fantastic, others are a little more bleh, but you're sure to find something in there that you enjoy. That's the beauty of anthologies.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Besides the fact that this is most definitely a book that's been on Rory's gargantuan reading list at some point in her life (and was probably a reread), there are other factors that make this the perfect read for a "Gilmore Girls" fan. Like the snark, the small town with lots of different characters to add flavor to the story, and the family dynamics. Some of my favorite scenes with Scout involve her interacting with extended family members.

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Okay, but in all seriousness, I could see her writing authentic "Gilmore Girls" fan-fiction, because so many aspects of the show are in her books. This one especially, seeing as it's an introverted writer finding her way around college life. Rory Gilmore, anybody?

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

More family dynamics! A female driven story! Daughters who love their mothers! Something that's cool about this book is that there are four girls who are all very different, so women aren't portrayed all in the same way. "Gilmore Girls" does that, too. Sookie is very different from Lorelai who is different from Lane who is different from Rory who is different from Emily who is different from Miss Patty. I could go on.

6. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Oh, the wit. The banter and bubbling romance between Jessie and her anonymous correspondent is reminiscent of Rory and any one of her love interests. From the cover to the plenty of white space within the pages of the book due to the frequent exchange of e-mails that happens in the story, it's sparse in the best way possible, and I think "Gilmore Girls" is like that, too. Plus, this book is addictive. I read it while I was sick with the flu, and when I wasn't napping, I was devouring this. Much like anyone would binge-watch "Gilmore Girls."

Basically the whole book.

7. The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill

More introverted writer girls! And a shy one, to boot. Simple story, very character driven, just like "Gilmore Girls." For people who like Fangirl, too, you'll like this one. And vice versa.

8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This is another fantastic female-driven story in a town where everyone seems to be connected in one way or another. It's hysterical and sometimes sad or frustrating. And the food! Can Minny just come over sometime and cook for me? Please?

Because one can never have too many pie gifs when it comes to this book.

Are you as freakishly excited for the "Gilmore Girls" revival as I am? What books remind you of the show? Leave a comment!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

30 Bookish Facts About Yours Truly That Will Confirm All of Your Suspicions . . .

. . . Yes, yes I do have problems.

This post was shamelessly politely stolen from Cait at "Paper Fury."

1. Currently reading?

Like a thousand books. Okay, really it's just A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, and The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal by Kathleen Smith. But those first three books are big.

2. Should’ve read, like, yesterday?

Or maybe more like last year? Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. How have I not picked this up yet?

3. Book that impacted you?

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. It wasn't one I'd really expected to impact me that much, but I was going through a rough patch with my writing and it gave me a good kick in the pants with some motivational words of wisdom. Plus, it's Felicia Day. You can't help but love her and everything she does.

4. Hyped vs backlist titles?

I like and dislike both for different reasons. The good thing about hyped books is that everyone's talking about it, so it's on my radar when maybe it might not have been. And once I read it, I have plenty of people to talk to, and those people might have conflicting opinions. It brings up good discussions. But if it's a hyped book, sometimes I end up hating it because I've set my expectations so high based on the five-star reviews that basically go something like, "OSIJDGOUIHSDJFK I CAN"T EVEN READ IT NOW YOU WON"T REGREAT IT OMG I CAN"T EVEN TYPE JUST GO IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFEEEE." If I read something like that, I'd better get a life-changing book, and often it's not the case.

Backlist books are great because I can go into it with zero expectations and either be pleasantly surprised and wow-ed or find it to be totally blah. Either way, it's a mystery to me, which makes it all the more exciting. However, I'm usually the only one that's read it, so if I want to talk about it with people, I have to basically bind them to a chair and put duct tape over their mouths while I force the book on them. Don't worry, I'm still nice about it. I'll turn the pages for them when their hands are quite literally tied.

I told you I have problems.

5. Current series crush?

Apparently Starflight by Melissa Landers is going to be a series? So color me ridiculously excited for that.

6. How strong is your self-control around books?

Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha........

Again, I have problems.

7. Plot vs characters?

Characters all the way. Don't get me wrong, an amazing plot helps, but if I don't like the characters, I don't like the book 99.9% of the time. How am I supposed to care about a story when I couldn't care less what happens to anybody in it?

8. Would you write under a pseudonym?

Probably not, but I guess that's subject to change. 

9. Would you marry your bookshelf?

My bookshelf is too problematic for that. We'd never work out. It's constantly being rearranged and bowing in the middle of the shelves. That's too many unknown factors for me.

10. Do you ever get sick of reading?

Not really, only because I find it impossible to get sick of reading in general. I might get sick of the books I'm reading, but that's only because seven other shiny books are calling to me from my problematic bookshelf. So I might get into reading slumps because I simultaneously want to finish the books on my nightstand and also stop reading them right there.

11. Random bookish memory?

I have lots of memories from when I was younger of me tiptoeing out of bed at night to read on the stairs with a blanket. See, I shared a room with my brother, so I couldn't turn the light on, but there were lights above the stairs. And the way they were positioned, I wouldn't be seen by my parents (until they came up to bed later and found me asleep on the stairs. Totally safe.), and I could sometimes listen to whatever show they were watching. I was a sneaky little thing.

12. Character you relate to?

I'll name a few: Hermione Granger, Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Ellie Sweet from the Ellie Sweet series by Stephanie Morrill, and Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

13. Do you own bookish merchandise?

Yes, indeed! I have Deathly Hallows Earrings, a Snitch necklace, a Time-Turner (sadly without actual time travel functions), a Harry Potter charm necklace, a Harry Potter bracelet made with actual pages of the book (used book), a Mockingjay pin, a "Not all those who wander are lost" tote bag, a Ravenclaw Quidditch team captain shirt, an "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" t-shirt, and several stick-on Harry Potter quotes in the HP font that are up on various walls around our house. Oh, and Pop! dolls: Dumbledore, Harry, and Fang, so far.

As you can see, besides books, this is what my paychecks go to. And I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

14. Controversial opinion?

I despise The Catcher in the Rye. Couldn't stand Holden, couldn't stand the story. I spent the entire book moaning and groaning. It is the only book to date that I have angrily tossed across the room once I'd finished it with a, "Thank god that's over!" But people either seem to love or hate this book, there's no in between.

I also couldn't get into The Book Thief. I tried for a hundred pages before DNF-ing it.

15. NOTP?

If we're talking canon, Calaena and Dorian from the Throne of Glass series. I will forever ship her and Chaol.

If we're talking headcanon, Harry and Voldemort. Who the hell came up with that?!?!

16. Why didn’t I love this?

Girl In the Arena by Lise Haines. Just--like--what--no. I read it ages ago for a book club, but dear sweet lemon drops, this book was everywhere. And what's with the lack of quotation marks when doing dialogue?! It tried to copy every other dystopian book out there, but only the worst parts of every dystopian book.

Also Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I felt very ambivalent about it. It was a little juvenile for a YA book and took forever to get to the actual point of the plot. Also? Not creepy. Poor advertising on marketing's part.

17. Hardcover vs paperback?

I love to read paperbacks but display hardcovers.

18. Do you ever like villains?

More often so in TV shows than books, I've found. I wish that weren't the case, though, because well-done villains can be some of the best characters ever. Ooh, but the characters in Nimona by Noelle Stevenson were fantastic! Lots of wonderful villainy there.

19. Cringeable reads?

The Haters by Jesse Andrews. Here is the point where I DNF-ed: "Dick harm is a thing that comes up with us a lot. It's kind of our go-to trope. [...] Basically, the idea is, if something is really great, we get so amped that we have no choice but to do harm to our own dicks. That is the true measure of how wonderful a thing can be."

Is that enough of an explanation as to why I couldn't even stand to continue?

20. Where do you get your books from?

Our Indie bookstore and the library, primarily.

21. Haunting read?

Ooh, that's tricky, but I'm going to have to go with We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I can't say much more without giving it all away, which would completely ruin the experience for first-time readers.

22. Highly anticipated upcoming release?

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (which seems to be coming out on my birthday next year!) and Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I'm not even a huge Alice in Wonderland fan in general and I know it's going to be amazing because, duh, it's Marissa Meyer.

23. Annoying character qualities?

Being blaaaaaaaaaand. I think I would rather hate a character than be bored by them.

24. Least favourite genre?

There's no genre I can't stand, but I'll just say non-fiction, because unless it's freaking amazing, there are a thousand other fictional worlds I'd rather dive into.

25. Best tropes?

Ambiguous and/or bittersweet endings. Retellings of any kind. Klutzy characters. Actual introverted fangirl protagonists. Short chapters. "I-hate-you-no-wait-I-love-you" romances. Slow-burn romances. Characters without families who find friends that are like family. Villains with a heart for one specific thing or character. Time travel. Etc.

26. Rereading?

In theory, I'm all for it. But the reality is I rarely have time to reread anything when there are NEW AND SHINY books to read.

27. Have you abused a book?

Yes, but not always on purpose, besides the Catcher in the Rye book-throwing incident. I also underline and write notes in the margins of books I adore, on occasion. But this one time I was reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on the stairs for the umpteenth time when I was little and the book completely split in half because of how many times I'd read it. We've also had to tape loose pages back to the binding.

28. Series you quit on?

Beautiful Creatures, but only because I got distracted and totally forgot what happened in the first two books. I'll probably go back one of these days, but not in the near future.

29. Wish it wasn’t a standalone?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I'd love more stories about Albus's adventures at Hogwarts.

30. Bad bookworm side-effects?

Forgetting about real life responsibilities and suddenly e-mails and chores are piling up and that unfolded laundry has been sitting there for a week and what do you mean I have to change for work in five minutes?

Problems, I tell you. I. Have. Problems.

Tag, you're it! Answer some questions in the comments or steal this for your own blog, if you'd like!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

'Til the Last Star Dies - The Immortal Witch/Mortal Monster Hunter Romance You Didn't Even Know You Needed

I have an announcement!

I entered a contest through Inkshares with my YA fantasy romance novel, 'Til the Last Star Dies. If I win, Inkshares will help me through the entire publishing process so I can get my book out in the world with Geek and Sundry's logo of support printed on it as part of the marketing. Exciting, right?!

The way the contest works is by collecting pre-orders on your book. Whoever gets the most pre-orders is the winner. If you spend $20 on a pre-order and my novel ends up being the winning one, you get:

-A signed paperback copy of the book
-An ebook
-Access to drafts and updates from the author (me)
-And free shipping in the US

I would absolutely love and appreciate it if you could help me by pre-ordering my novel. Even if you can't, just spreading the word on social media or talking to your friends and family about it can be a HUGE help! The best way to get the word out about a book is by talking it up to people you're close with.

I do ask that you kindly refrain from violence when spreading the word. It can do serious damage to the book. Oh, and, you know, the human being hit by it.

If you do pre-order (and thank you thank you thank you if you do), don't worry, you'll get a full refund on it if 'Til the Last Star Dies doesn't end up winning.

To see if you're interested, here's what it's about:

Lila is a witch. One of the firstborn, to be exact, which makes her powerful. And dangerous. And in demand. The demon Angelique has a plan for the world, one that involves cities devoured in flame and dying stars. If Angelique can convince Lila to join her army, the universe will have reason to quake in fear.

But there’s another complication. Melody. Lila’s fallen for her, and if there’s anything Lila can do to protect her, she’ll do it. This means Angelique will have to find another way to get Lila to succumb to the darkness. And Melody is the perfect bargaining chip . . .

I also have a cover and some concept art from my Pinterest board related to the novel:

I know this is grammatically incorrect, but I wasn't the one who made it, so there wasn't a way to fix it.

If you want to get a sense of the tone, you can check out the playlist I created for it HERE.

Any questions you may have about the book or the contest, I'll do my best to answer! :) Thank you so much!

Pre-order 'Til the Last Star Dies here!