Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Most Anticipated Books of 2019

Despite the fact that I'm dreadfully behind on 2018 releases, I've already started to add books coming out in 2019 to my TBR list. My overflowing bookshelf is groaning as I type this. Seriously, I've got books from 2014 glaring at me from the shelf where they're collecting dust.

What are you gonna do?

Based on the few books that have already been put on my radar, 2019 is going to be a great year for YA fiction.

I devoured One of Us Is Lying, so I'm fully expecting to love this one just as much. Of course, those kinds of expectations could be dangerous, as I've been burned before. But I can't really help it.

If you haven't heard of The Hate U Give, you've been living under a rock. On the Come Up looks like it'll have a similar style and themes, but I'm mostly curious about the passages of rap lyrics that are going to be included in the book. Not all novelists are lyricists, but Ange Thomas said that she used to be a rapper herself, so I'm betting they'll be good.

Whenever I see this book, my mind immediately goes to this:

We all know I'm Les Mis trash, so obviously I had to pick up a novel all about the French Revolution, but with MAGIC.

And whenever I see this book, I think:

Just give me any book that's even vaguely inspired by anything having to do with musicals and I'm guaranteed to read it. Jessica Khoury wrote The Forbidden Wish, which was a massively underrated book, so I'm eager to read something else by her. A sci-fi "Anastasia" retelling? Yes, please.

Not gonna lie, I came across this book only because Becky Albertalli blurbed it. I didn't even remember what it was about a week later, but I knew I still wanted to read it. It looks like a fun, twisty, social media mystery.

Again, Becky Albertalli (and Angie Thomas) blurbed this. So I went to see what it was all about. It seems to have a "Groundhog Day" aspect to it and maybe some alternate timelines, so I definitely want to see what it's all about.

It's the queer coffee shop romance I didn't know I needed until I saw this. It's bound to be cute and cozy!

I've read and liked every single other book A.S. King's written, so of course I need to read this one, too. Her books are delightfully strange. This one looks like it'll have a fair amount of suburban family dysfunction in it, which will no doubt be tons of fun to read about.

Geekerella was adorable and, predictably, geeky. I'm all for a fangirl retelling of the Prince and the Pauper. I can totally relate to super fans starting angry campaigns about their favorite characters being killed off.


Another geeky novel about fangirls and TV shows! If you haven't read Queens of Geek yet and you're looking for a splash of sunshine in your reading material, you need to pick it up ASAP.

Queer witches in Salem with all kinds of supernatural happenings! I am here for this! (Also I need it to do some lowkey research, considering I've got some gay witch stories I'm hoping to revise and shop around soon.) And how eye-catching is that cover???

RAINBOW ROWELL WROTE A GRAPHIC NOVEL. I don't even think I know what it's about? But it's Rainbow Rowell, so you bet I'm gonna read it as soon as it comes out.

What books are you looking forward to in 2019? Have you managed to keep up on 2018 releases or are you just as behind as I am? Leave a comment!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Briggs Book Tag (Learn all about my personality through books!)

I first saw this tag at "It Starts at Midnight," but it originated here. If you're not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality test, check it out here and take it for yourself. It's fascinating, and totally accurate. The questions for the tag are here. Here's my MBTI type:

Yep, that pretty much sums me up. Notice how some of the top careers listed are "artist" and "musician" and my life is consumed by books, writing, and musicals.

On with the tag!


You can be outgoing, but need to recharge with some calming solitude, Where is your favorite place to read & unwind? Why is this little oasis where you choose to go?

When I am absolutely and completely drained for whatever reason, I spend most of my time in my room. It's the coziest place in the house for me. When we moved to the house we're in now, it was the first time I got to completely decorate the room however I wanted, so it has a little bit of everything I love. It's small, but bursting at the seams with color and fandom gear. If you wanted to know what kind of stuff I like, all you'd have to do is step in my room for a few seconds.

Don't let the tiny stack of books fool you; this picture was taken shortly after moving in, so most of my books were still in boxes and unavailable to me. My nightstand has at least six books on it at any given time.
This is what it looks like now. Not pictured: my kindle or Dear Evan Hansen: the Novel, which I'm currently reading.
My collection of Playbills.
My bookshelf, which is obviously way too small to hold all the books in my TBR (which takes up the top two shelves--it doesn't even include the books on my TBR that I don't own).
Trying to take selfies with Scout in my room, but she's not paying any attention. You can see my mismatched curtains in this picture: green and purple!
A friend of mine made this super cool canvas decorations for my graduation. This one has all kinds of musicals and plays written on it in black, but the shows that I've performed in are written in blue so they stand out a little more.
These cutouts have almost given minor heart attacks to every single person who's walked into my room.
My cozy reading nook.
Scout enjoys it, too.

Some books are meant to be understood and others are meant to be explored. What book or character stands for an idea that is deeply meaningful to you?

There are a few categories of important issues that I think YA books in particular have been excellent at addressing.

These books are excellent for anyone looking for a little self-esteem. They make you feel so good about being yourself.
These tackle all kinds of areas of racial justice.
I highly recommend all of these for LGBTQ+ teens or those questioning their sexuality.

Not everything needs to be realistic, where is the fun in a world with limits? Which fantasy world do you find so atmospheric you slip inside and never want to leave? (Put simply a book with good vibes).

This was surprisingly tricky to come up with at first (besides Harry Potter), because a lot of fantasy worlds are terrifying, even if the stories are great. I wouldn't say I would particularly want to live in these worlds, but these books were great escapes and feel warm and cozy to me for different reasons.

No further explanation necessary.
This was also a really cool fantasy world that I remember my twelve-year-old self loving. I'll probably go back and reread it at some point, but it's hard to commit to rereading a series that long when my TBR is already giving me the stink-eye . . .
I read these books during the holidays a couple years ago while it was cold and snowy, so I associate them with cozy winter reads now.
You can't help but love this adorable graphic novel about lovable "villains." It made me giggle so many times.
I don't remember much in particular from this book, but I know that it was definitely beautiful and atmospheric and massively underrated. I hardly ever see any of my blogging friends talk about it, but it was a great retelling.
I love this series to bits and pieces!! *heart eyes emoji* Cress was one of the few books I had available to me when my family moved, so I both tried to savor it and flip the pages as fast as I could because the story was gripping. And I read Winter during the winter over Christmas break. It seems like the feeling of a story stays with me longer when I can remember exactly when and where I read it, which makes the book a little more nostalgic.

TBRs are fun to construct and meant to be destroyed. Do you stick to the list or mix it up every now and then? What’s a book you’ve put down that you want to pick back up, but just haven’t been in the mood for?

In general, when it's time for me to pick up a new book, I try to stick to something that has been on my TBR list for a long time. But, inevitably, instead of making the list shorter, the books I read are just replaced by new books that are coming out. But I do tend to stick to my list.

If I read something impulsively, it's usually a brand new book from one of my favorite authors (like Rainbow Rowell or Becky Albertalli), or it's for a book club. Or I saw a pretty cover in a bookstore, bought the book, and ignored every other book I was in the middle of reading.

Right now, I've been trying to read Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer for a couple months now, but I keep getting distracted and find that I'm not in the mood for that kind of story. It's really good and I enjoy it every time I pick it back up, but other books keep grabbing my attention. One of these days I'll finish it.

INFP: The Idealist

Even when conflict runs high you can be the advocate for either side. What is a book that was not well received but you were able to find its good qualities?

I'm going to alienate a lot of my fellow Harry Potter fans by saying this, but I really enjoyed The Cursed Child. I know a lot of people said it felt like bad fan-fiction or it was a money grab or the characters weren't in character whatsoever, but somehow I was able to appreciate both as part of the series and also as something completely separate from the books. Also, I don't think you can full appreciate the story unless you see it. It's a script, so it's meant to be performed, and I loved it so much more on the stage.

So . . . *shrugs* If you don't like it, that's fine, everyone's entitled to their opinions, but I loved it.

Tag, you're it! Steal this for your blog or share in the comments. What's your MBTI type? Do you feel like it accurately sums you up?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

October/November Wrap-Up


Books I Read


I'm hard to please when it comes to sci-fi, but this one kept my attention the whole time. It reminded me a lot of the Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt movie "Passengers," but without the problematic parts. I was able to piece together a lot of the mystery while still feeling like it wasn't too easy. I'd recommend it to anyone who's had a hard time finding interesting books in the sci-fi genre.


I had higher hopes for this one, but it was way too long. It felt like One of Us Is Lying, except more boring and with shallow characters. I loved the concept and the payoff at the end was worth the slog in the middle, but I shouldn't have to power through a hundred pages of what's supposed to be an intense mystery novel. And while the "book within a book" parts served an important purpose, sometimes those sections felt repetitive. The whole thing could have benefited from more editing.


As soon as I saw Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera's names together, I knew I'd have to buy this book and devour it right away. Obviously I loved it! Even if no one had told me which author had written which character's, I could have figured it out. Their voices are so strong in this story, Becky Albertalli especially. I loved the Broadway references and all of the ridiculous inside jokes that would make no sense to anyone who hasn't read the book ("making out in a mailbox," "Hudson Panini," etc.). It was an addictive, fast read, despite its length. The only thing that prevented me from giving it five stars was the epilogue. Like with most epilogues (Deathly Hallows excluded), it took away from the rest of the story. I would have been perfectly fine with the ending the story offered before the epilogue began.

Movies I Watched


This is the first true horror movie I watched and WOW it was creepy. It was one of those "this is so disgusting and horrible but I can't tear my eyes away" situations. It was a bit of a slow start and I couldn't always tell the characters apart because they were all kind of blank slates, but it was a thrilling ride the rest of the way through with tons of plot twists.


I always thought I'd had this movie spoiled long before I'd watched it, but within the first twenty minutes I realized the "spoiler" wasn't a spoiler at all, but actually just the premise of the movie that the audience is clearly supposed to understand (if that makes any sense at all the way I wrote it). 


Even though the movie was based on Beatrix Potter's life, it still felt like everything came too easily for her, which made the first part of the movie casually enjoyable, but not all that interesting. It got a little better as it went on, but then the last third of the movie or so felt disjointed from the rest, like it was a separate movie altogether. So not the best biopic I've seen, but I still liked it. It was cute and imaginative. And I enjoy Ewan McGregor in just about anything.


It had been years since I've seen this movie, and not since I really got into musical theatre, so I wasn't sure if I'd still like it or not. It held up a lot better than I thought it would. As far as older musicals go, I still think modern audiences like it. There was a lot that was cheesy or predictable or incredibly far-fetched, but that's to be expected somewhat from classic Broadway stories. Miss Hannigan was genuinely funny, though.


This was a suspense movie??? I felt no suspense whatsoever. The parts that were supposed to be thrilling were not and the rest of the movie was filled with fluff dialogue and boring domestic scenes. I didn't like any of the characters and found hardly anything to be interesting. Plus (SPOILER ALERT) a dog dies in this one. So that automatically takes the rating down a star.

Quotes I Wrote

October was a big writing month for me, because I finally finished the first draft of All the World's Afraid (title to be changed as soon as I can figure out a better one)! I wrote over 10,000 words at a writing retreat, which wrapped up the story. It needs a lot of work (a lot of work, as I'm discovering through my first round of edits), but I still love the characters like they're my friends, so that's a good sign I won't mind spending more time with it.

I had a few quotable moments, but I can't share them here, because spoilers.

This is what a finished first draft looks like.

Pictures of the Month

Thanks to my super cool ushering gig at our local theater, I was able to see the touring company of "Finding Neverland." It was a beautiful, whimsical, gut-wrenching show. I cried through the whole last fifteen minutes of it (as did most of the audience!). Neverland will always have a place in my heart; watching it come to life was something special.

Got a haircut! I panicked for a while when I saw that the hairdresser had chopped off at least three more inches than I told her to, but I'm learning to like it. xD I miss my long hair already since I can no longer toss it into a bun. It's a good thing it grows fast . . .

I had so much fun at the Lake Anna Wordsmith Retreat! Even though it went by too fast, we managed to fit a ton into the few days we had together. This was my view.

How I edit (on the floor, surrounded by notes, coffee, and candy).

Cristin Terrill and Beth Revis! They were both so funny, kind, and helpful.

Everyone at the retreat received certificates for their special accomplishments. This was mine, because every single person just about spit their tea when they found out I was eighteen.
As soon as I found out Cristin Terrill was one of the authors heading up this retreat, I knew I had to get my book signed. It was one of the first sci-fi/time travel books I read and I fell completely in love with it.
Group photo!
Sir Harry from "Once Upon a Mattress" performed in "Carrie: The Musical." It's always fun to see fellow cast mates in other shows.
Speaking of which . . . our friend Caleb from "A Christmas Carol" was in "Jekyll and Hyde."
I just started taking vocal lessons from a voice teacher who works with a lot of the tween/teen performers at our community theater. I got to see her students in their Halloween-themed cabaret. It was a ton of fun! And there were lots of familiar faces from "Lion King Jr."
This poor girl had eleven quick changes during "Lion King Jr.," or some crazy number like that. She played just about every ensemble role you can think of.
A lioness.
Got a tiara at the Ren Faire, because why not?
More Ren Faire fun.
My family volunteered to write non-partisan postcards reminding infrequent voters to get to their polling places.
Now that the first draft is finished, it's time for revisions! Yayyy (she said sarcastically).
Went with friends to see a local production of "Be More Chill." Loved it! So funny.
I was one of the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons for my region this year, and the attendance for the kick-off party was great!
Loved my Halloween costume this year! I went as Eponine from "Les Misérables" (AKA, my dream role).
With friends.
TJ and I hung back to hand out candy.

Time for Scout pictures! She dressed up for Halloween, too. This year she went as her nemesis, the UPS delivery guy.
Sleeping in her chair while I write.
Rocking the Albert Einstein look as she conducts tons of static electricity in the laundry basket.

Looking adorable, as always.

How was your October? 


Books I Read


I liked this a lot more than I expected to, mostly because there was a lot of hype surrounding it and I've been burned before by these kinds of books that everyone seems to love. It was gritty and gripping and raw. I was hooked as soon as I started reading it, and I even loved the ending, even though it may not be for everyone. The unique concept of telling half the story from the POV of a true crime podcast worked for this story, although sometimes it felt a little repetitive if we already knew the information that was talked about during the podcast.


Not gonna lie, this was totally an impulse buy based on the fact that Rainbow Rowell had blurbed it. That was all the info I needed to know I was going to like this book. And for the most part, I did like it. Even though it was a super simple story with very little plot, I loved the writing style so much (which felt a lot like Rainbow Rowell's style), I could have read it just for that. But it did feel a little long and I wasn't totally into Penny's character. There were times I liked her and times I thought she was being really snotty and rude. Sam's POV made up for it. I also thought that it seemed like a Fangirl wannabe, considering it was about an introverted writer at college who likes a guy who works in a coffee shop. But where Fangirl had lovable, compelling characters and a clearer, more focused plot, Emergency Contact seemed to wander and flounder. Overall, it was pretty good.

Movies I Watched


I wanted to love this as much as I loved the first one, and I didn't, so that was a little disappointing. But I also have unrealistically high expectations for anything Harry Potter related. This was still really good! It was a lot darker, but I think we all knew the story was heading in that direction. I loved that we got to go back to Hogwarts and meet young Dumbledore (though I thought we were going to get a lot more of him than we did - he's not as heavily featured as the trailer makes it seems). This movie did a good job setting up the disaster that are going to come, but I think it could have benefited from a little more lightheartedness, especially considering that it's going to be all downhill from here. But the plot twists at the end? Definitely worth the lead up.


This was slightly more exciting than "Rear Window," but it's a pretty low bar. I really can't stand Hitchcock's tendency to include endless shots of cars racing through the countryside for no reason at all. We don't need five minutes of Tippi Hedren driving in silence. It was a creepier/gorier movie than I though it'd be, considering how long ago it was made, so I can see why it scared people so badly. I would've liked some sort of explanation as to why the birds were attacking people in the first place, and the ending felt way too abrupt. I can see what it was trying to do, but it didn't do it well. Instead of being ominous, it was unfinished.


I don't think this is a classic that holds up today. I found my mind wandering way too often to consider this an even remotely interesting movie. It was a lot of people who looked and sounded alike talking about politics in a confusing manner. The movie probably had a lot more weight to it to audiences back when it was made, since it was right in the middle of World War II. I did appreciate the fact that the ending wasn't a predictable Hollywood conclusion, which, as it turns out, is one of the reasons why it's still considered a classic today, because it was one of the first movies to not be tied up neatly with a ribbon.


Despite its goofiness and the need for audiences to suspend some serious disbelief, I liked this movie a lot. It was funny and sweet and you can't help but love Forrest and the friends he makes along the way. The most hilarious parts, for me, was whenever he obliviously and accidentally inserted himself into historic events (like Watergate or John Lennon writing "Imagine"). Tom Hanks was great, as always.


The Thanksgiving that the first "Wreck-It Ralph" came out, my family went to the movies to watch it, so we continued the unofficial tradition by going to the theater to watch the sequel on Thanksgiving. All of the subtle references to different aspects of the internet (pop-up ads, viral videos, etc.) were super clever. I think the Disney princesses stole the show, though. They weren't overused, so their presence was just funny enough that it wasn't annoying. It was a good sequel.


I had serious doubts for the first twenty minutes or so of the movie, because it seemed like the story was going to be heavy on the math and feature a lot of insufferable prep school boys who only cared about being top of the class and scoring with the most women. The story takes a different soon afterward, though, so I was able to relax and enjoy it more. Even though the plot was interesting, I had a hard time connecting with Nash. I felt bad for him because of his circumstances, but I didn't necessarily like him as a person. He didn't seem all that kind or even polite. He was definitely full of himself and didn't always treat those around him with respect. It made it hard to fully immerse myself in the movie and feel like I cared deeply about what happened to him.

Quotes I Wrote

November was completely dedicated to finishing NaNoWriMo, and guess what?

I honestly wasn't sure I'd finish this year, but I did! Even with ML duties and being involved in a Christmas show, I was able to (barely) scrape the words together. After two years of not being able to complete the 50K-word goal, it feels so good to finally win this year. The draft is a mess and nowhere near being finished, which means I'm going to end up with a draft roughly around 100,000 words only to have to cut at least 30,000 of them, but hey, at least I completed NaNo.

There isn't a lot I can post here without cringing at how much work needs to be done, but I can give you a little excerpt. I decided that the story as a whole would be from Mrs. Darling's point of view, but between each chapter I included a page or two of Peter Pan's perspective, so you can get a better look at how his mind works and how sinister he really is.

"I can see all of London from up here!" Bellowed John, who had to hold his top hat firmly in place to keep it from plummeting to the earth. It was silly to wear a top hat to bed after the day's pretending had long since finished, but children often did silly things until they were old enough to lose the joy in it.

"Why look at London when you can look at the stars?" Wendy sighed dreamily. She stretched her arms above her head, as if she could pluck them from the sky and hold them to her heart. "Oh, Peter--to think you fly so close to the stars every night."

"Me, fly close to the stars?" Pan scoffed. "The stars fly close to me. Watch!"

Pan swooped and soared and spun in spirals, all for the children's amusement. Tinker Bell even joined the fun, darting around him so Pan glowed under her golden light. Michael laughed the loudest, clutching his stuffed bear tighter for fear of losing it in his wild amusement.

"Peter," John inquired once Pan had finished with his childish antics. John pointed in the direction from whence they'd come. "Is that Mother following us?"

Pan, whose vision was remarkably keen, spotted the woman at once, but he pretended not to see her at all. "Of course not, silly John," he said. "Grownups can't fly. They've forgotten how to do such things. They ruin all the fun. But I rescued you from boring, grown up responsibilities, didn't I?"

"Oh, yes," cried the children.

"Of course you did, Peter," said Wendy. "And we're ever so thankful."

And one excerpt from Mrs. Darling's POV (who goes by Mary here):

"But you cheated," Jukes said. And he didn't even sound upset that she'd done it, only that he hadn't thought of it first.

"That's what pirates do, last I checked." Mary strode past him to join the group of dumbfounded pirates. "And frankly, it says more about you that you didn't dare fight back against a scrawny, sixteen-year-old girl simply because she had a knife to your throat. I pinned you for ten seconds, like it or not."

Mary snatched the tricorne off the table, the feather tickling Smee's face. She placed it firmly on her head, surprised by how well it fit, like it was made just for her. None of the pirates moved to stop her.

"Mary--" Smee started.

Mary cut him off by making a tutting noise.

"Now, now, Mr. Smee," she chastised. "That's 'Captain,' to you."

Obsessions I Acquired

"Dear Evan Hansen" - So I've always loved "Dear Evan Hansen," but after seeing it on Broadway and getting to hear cut songs on the deluxe album, I dove deep into the obsession. At any given time, you can hear one of the songs playing in the kitchen while I cook, in my room while I'm getting ready, or in the car while I'm driving. If you're as in love with the musical as I am but haven't checked out any of the deluxe album songs, I highly recommend listening to them now. "In the Bedroom Down the Hall" is my personal favorite from that album, and I'm sad it had to be cut from the show.

Pictures of the Month

Saw friends in "Little Shop of Horrors" at our community theater. It was darker than I expected, but knowing nothing about the musical beforehand, I really enjoyed it!
Outside our polling place. I dragged my horribly sick self out of bed to go do my civic duty. I had a cold that would not quit for at least two weeks.
Dressed as pirates to go to a villains-themed Halloween party.
Even Scout joined in!
DEAR EVAN HANSEN!!! I sobbed my way through the whole thing. We saw a different Evan from Taylor Trensch since we saw a matinee and I loved him (Michael Lee Brown) right away. He was so awkward and lovable and had the perfect imperfect voice that fit his character so well. And Mallory Bechtel!!! She was amazing as Zoe. I can't believe she barely graduated high school. I loved her voice even more than the original Zoe. The entire show was beautiful and everyone was so nice afterward to come out in the freezing cold and sign our Playbills.
To Kill a Mockingbird was excellent, too. I really liked the changes that were made to the story. It included a lot of racial commentary that still applies to modern times. Having the three main kids (Scout, Jem, and Dill) played by adults worked even better than I would've thought. Dill was hilarious. I wasn't expecting him to be one of my favorites, but he was. I highly recommend both shows.
I obviously had to get a shirt while I was there.
Movie time!
Made cookies for the holidays with a few of my theatre friends!

With some of the cast of "Charlotte's Web." We spent a whole afternoon painting the set together.
My friend Sammie came to visit for Thanksgiving and she even came along to help with the Charlotte's Web set. She'll be in the program and everything!
People say we look alike . . .
It's family tradition to take pictures in front of the Christmas tree once we put it up. We get one nice picture, and then we descend into chaos.
Recreating "The Lion King."
Me doing a split . . .
. . . my dad, not so much.
Dropping some sick beats for our album.
My friend TJ performed in his first lead role as Ralphie in "A Christmas Story." He was excellent! So expressive and funny. It was the perfect character for him.

With Scut Farkus, who was also Bill Jukes during "Peter Pan Jr."
With Helen, who played Wendy in "Peter Pan Jr."
Ralphie gets his revenge.
Time for Scout! We dressed her in her Santa costume while we decorated, and she immediately ran to take a nap under the tree.
It's getting cold out and the chilly weather is starting to mess with her hip, so we got her a sweater. It even has a hood!
She cooperated for a picture!

How was your November?