Sunday, March 11, 2018

Childhood Book Tag (Let the Nostalgia Begin!)

I got tagged to do this forever ago by Engie at "Musings From Neville's Navel." But, in typical Kate fashion, I forgot about it until months later, so it was like discovering a brand new tag all over again! #ProcrastinationWorks(Sorta)

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I'm pretty sure my first "big book" was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Whenever my parents would read one of the Harry Potter books to me, I'd pick up the book and reread it on my own. I was probably somewhere around five or six when I started reading them by myself.

But, because I'm predicting that Harry Potter is going to end up being the answer for many of these questions, I'll provide an alternate. I was thoroughly obsessed with the Magic Tree House series and reread them constantly. Once Merlin Missions became a thing in the series, I was even more obsessed. I'd snatch them up from the library shelves as soon as the new ones came out.

What is the first book you remember having your parents read to you?

There were many books we read together, but I'm pretty sure the first one I remember. (I think this came before Harry Potter? I could be wrong, though.) I also remember being sooo upset by some of the events in the book.

What is a book you read on the recommendation of your parents or a friend?

If I remember correctly, my mom recommended these books to me. This series is one of the many I read by flashlight late into the night so as not to wake up my brother, who slept on the bunk above me.

What was your favorite book in elementary school?

Besides Harry Potter, American Girl books! I read so many of these series, but Samantha was my favorite. If you asked me why, though, I wouldn't be able to tell you. All I remember is that I had the box set for the Samantha series and read them over and over again. I also liked the Kit, Julie, and Molly books.

I also remember eating up books by Andrew Clements like they were going out of style. They definitely influenced my childhood, because every time I read one of his books, I tried to recreate something that happened in the story or allowed myself to be quite literally inspired by the characters. School Story was one of my favorites because the twelve-year-old girl in the book submits a novel under a pen name and gets published without anyone discovering she's not an adult. I basically got to live out my fantasy in the story. And the girl's pen name, Cassandra Day, ended up being the name of my protagonist for one of my NaNoWriMo novels. After reading The Landry News, I wrote my own "newspaper for a while." No Talking made me challenge myself to not speak for an entire day (pretty sure I failed that one) and Lunch Money made me want to make a little pocket change myself by selling trinkets to friends or setting up "yard sales" in the backyard (even though no one ever came by).

Calvin and Hobbes was another obsession of mine, so much so that my grandparents got me the complete treasury for Christmas when I was six (it was so heavy I couldn't lift it and I can barely lift it now). I never went on a road trip without arming myself with a flashlight and one of the paperback collections. They could keep me busy for hours.

What was your favorite book in middle school?

Hmm. Again, besides Harry Potter, it's really hard to narrow down. I had a ton of favorite books around this time. My first inclination was to say the W.I.T.C.H. books. I don't remember how I learned about them, but I do remember immersing myself in its magical world. I also remember that I asked Santa for the books one year and learning later that I'd made my parents sweat about that gift because the books were all out of print and nearly impossible to find. I ended up getting a few in my stocking along with a note that Santa was trying really hard to look for the others and that they'd be coming in the mail from the north pole soon. I eventually got the whole collection, though, and I loved getting the packages in the mail, so it all worked out.

I remember very little from this series, but I know that I loved it. They were the first big books I devoured in no time at all, reading one or even two books a night. I lost a lot of sleep over them, but I didn't care in the slightest. They were action-packed, exciting, and addictive.

Another beloved series that I read and then reread and then reread some more. It's what made me fall in love with medieval fantasies so much so, I wrote my own, which was basically the same exact plot disguised as my own story.

These were two huge series for me as a kid, too. I read The Lightning Thief in mostly one sitting and waited impatiently to get my hands on the sequels and though the Fablehaven books were huge, I barely stopped to eat before I'd finished those, too.

I should also give special shout outs to Ella Enchanted and Princess Academy, a couple of my favorite books at the time that satisfied my fairy tale needs.

What was your favorite book in high school?

Considering I'm still in high school, there are some of my top favorites. I couldn't fit every favorite into the collage, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what my bookshelf looks like.

What book did you check out of the library most often as a child?

Oh my gosh, it wasn't a single book, but books in a series. I went nuts for the Thoroughbred series, so much so that when I'd read every single book in the library system, I started buying used copies of the sequels and donating them to the library. I would ride my bike and pretend it was one of the horses from the books, I took horse riding lessons, I drew horses (mostly attempted to draw them--they were never very good), I bought stuffed horses, etc. I was horse crazy.

What book did you make all your friends read?

The first one that came to mind was The Hunger Games. It was probably my first big book obsession after Harry Potter. You know, the kind of obsession that influences what games you play in the backyard and the playground. My friends and I all made fake bows and arrows out of sticks and jump ropes and played Hunger Games, complete with temporary alliances and dramatic death scenes. I went to the midnight releases for all the movies and I bought a Mockingjay pin that I wore for days on end, no matter the occasion. If somebody in my friend group hadn't read it, those of us who had would gasp and demand they read it immediately.

What is the book that made you love reading?

Yeah, I can't give a better answer than this.

What is your favorite middle-grade read now?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio! Young or old, I haven't met a person who read this book and didn't like it yet. It made me laugh and cry so many times.

What is your favorite YA read now?

See above for many, many answers to that!

What was the first long series you read as a child?

Let's get the obvious out of the way first.

Now that that's out of the way, I'd also like to mention the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I think a thirteen-book series is pretty long for a kid, but I loved those books. It was the first series I can remember buying with my own money, too. The library always had a rack of used books out by the entrance that cost no more than a couple dollars per copy. They usually had a book from the Series of Unfortunate Events out there, so after many weeks, I managed to get a complete set, even if some were paperback and others were hardback.

Tag, you're it! Feel free to answer any/all of these questions in the comments and/or on your own blog. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

February Wrap-Up

In addition to everything I have listed below, I'd also like to report that I completed one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2018, which was to eat a vegetarian diet for an entire month! It was actually way easier than I thought and I had very few moments when I missed eating meat (and that meat was usually fish, because I love sushi). Although I did have to eat more snacks throughout the day (some dried fruit, a handful of nuts, etc.) to keep up my energy, I wasn't as hungry as I thought I would be. I really enjoyed the challenge and I'm sure I'll eat vegetarian meals more often in the future.

Books I Read

Artemis by Andy Weir


I really enjoyed The Martian, so I was expecting to like this one way more than I did. Artemis has basically everything The Martian has (super sarcastic humor, high-stakes survival situations, in-depth description of science-y stuff that's still interesting, sci-fi that feels realistic, etc.), except The Martian did it better. I felt like Jazz, our protagonist, was the perfect example of a female protagonist written by a man who's never written a female protagonist before. I didn't connect with her. I didn't even realize she was an adult until her age was mentioned because she read as being really immature. If you haven't read Andy Weir before, though, start with this one. Every Martian fan I've talked to said they would have liked Artemis better if they'd read it first.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway


I LOVED THIS. Every since the book was recommended for fans of This Is Us, I knew I had to pick it up. It made me tear up so many times and the writing was gorgeous and full of voice. I loved all the characters and their storylines, so when we switched from one perspective to the next, I never had that "oh no, now I need to read about this person now" moment that happens sometimes in books with multiple POVs. It focuses on families and siblings and the intricacies of adoption and every topic was covered so well. If you're in the mood for a contemporary, make this one your next read.

Dancing Skeletons by Katherine A. Dettwyler


I had to read this for my Intro to Anthropology class and it surpassed my expectations. It's always nice when you can actually enjoy an assigned book rather than trudging through it just to finish the homework. Though I wasn't a fan of the writing at all (it had a nice storytelling quality, I guess, but it read as being super simplistic), the experience the author had were fascinating. I was especially interested by the reasons why certain cultures did genital mutilation since the reasons varied even from one town to the next.

On Writing by Stephen King


I really should have read this years ago considering how many writers sing its praises, but I only got around to it now. I really enjoyed it! It was funny, had a ton of great and applicable advice (not just for writing, but for life, too), and taught me a lot about Stephen King I hadn't known about before. It took me a while to get through the beginning, though. The snippets from his life seemed to be all over the place and not too connected. I didn't get what he was trying to do until the end. But the middle was a gold mine of wisdom.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown


The best part about this book was by far the symbols and hidden meanings in various works of art. You would think that the action-packed adventure storylines would be the most entertaining, but I actually liked the chapters that dealt with deciphering codes and analyzing paintings most. The adventure became something more like a nice bonus. Overall, the plot was what made it worth reading, because otherwise, the book didn't have much going for it. The characters were flat, the writing was awful (not even just okay--it was truly terrible), and the foreshadowing wasn't so much foreshadowing as it was the author hitting you over the head with a random piece of information you knew was bound to show up later. The book as a whole could've benefited from a lot more editing, too, since cutting several thousand words would have tightened the novel up and made it read faster.

Movies I Watched

"Roman Holiday"


I'd only ever seen Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady," so I really liked getting to see her in a role that's pretty much the opposite of Eliza Doolittle (Eliza is a common girl learning how to be a high society lady and Ann is a princess learning how to let loose and live a common life). Though the acting in this movie tended to be a little over the top, the characters were enjoyable and entertaining. The story is fairly simple, but there was a lot of humor, which I wasn't necessarily expecting, so it was a nice bonus. I won't give anything away, but the ending went in a direction I didn't anticipate. I'm glad it did, though, since my guess at what the conclusion would be wasn't nearly as interesting as what it actually was. Some may not find it satisfying, but personally, I liked it.



The characters were quirky and lovable, the soundtrack was great, and the story was largely driven by a simple plot. It had all the makings of a great Indie movie, even if parts of it were predictable in a more mainstream way.

"Black Panther"


Oh man, this did not disappoint. Marvel has struggled recently to put out movies with a lot of heart, well-developed characters, and a fantastic story, but "Black Panther" turned all of that around. Not only was it racially diverse, but the positions the women held were diverse, too. They all had their own sets of morals, goals, and personalities. It tackled a lot of important ethical dilemmas we face nowadays and didn't provide a clear answer, which I appreciated, since there's some gray area in those issues. The cast killed it, too. I loved it.

Quotes I Wrote

I'm in that editing stage now where everything I rewrite seems to be even worse than was I'd written before, so . . . nothing to report.

Obsessions I Acquired

The "Anastasia" soundtrack -  My current favorite song from "Anastasia" is "In a Crowd of Thousands (although I also really like "Learn to Do It," "We'll Go From There," and "Crossing a Bridge").

Pictures of the Month 

Our family went to see Paula Poundstone do stand-up and she spent time doing autographs and taking pictures with the fans. She was hilarious.
A celebratory dinner after I got inducted into my community college's honor society.

The obligatory Scout picture.

How was your February?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Mystery Blogger Award

This tag was created by Okoto Enigma @ Okoto Enigma's Blog. I was tagged by Ivy at "Ivyclad Ideas." Thanks for the nomination!

The Rules

Put the award logo/image on your blog.
List the rules.
Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
You have to nominate 10-20 people.
Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
Share a link to your best post(s).

Three Things About Me

1. I organize my bookshelf somewhat by genre, but mostly by mood, if that makes sense. So paranormal, mysteries, and thrillers might all get lumped together for a "dark" section. It makes it very handy in deciding what I should read next since I can match my mood to my shelf!

2. My dream theatre role is Eponine from "Les Misérables."

3. I wear fandom t-shirts to any kind of social event or summer camp if I don't know many people there and want to make new friends.

Ivy's Questions

1. Can you draw?

Can I? Yes. Do I? Not usually. Am I very good? Nope, not at all.

2. Do you like any specific type of non-fiction?

Memoirs! They tend to be informally written, funny, and full of voice. It's hard to keep my attention with non-fiction, but that's a genre I can get behind.

3. Do you prefer animated shows or live-action shows?

Definitely live-action. I feel way more connected to the stories and the characters. Plus, some animation styles freak me out (like claymation *shudders*).

4. Would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

I would like to think I could, and I do when I daydream, but in reality, I'd probably die. Although all of my "training" from books and movies would allow me to survive a little bit longer. I wouldn't die in the first wave, at least.

5. What animal would you be and why? (Designated weird question™)

A baby elephant! Fun-loving and klutzy as hell.

My Questions

1. If you could live in any one fictional world, what would it be?
2. What is your favorite classic fairy tale and why?
3. If you could be fearless for a day, what would you do?
4. Cats or dogs? Coffee or tea? Early riser or night owl?
5. What article of clothing seems to best fit your personality? (Designated weird question™)

My Best Post

This was a tricky one for me to pick, but the blog posts I had the most fun writing and received pretty good responses are as follows:

"The Importance of Fan-Fiction"
"On Writing Endings"
"What Makes a Great Fictional Romance?"

I tag . . .

Any and all who wish to participate! All too often I see bloggers sheepishly admitting that they "stole" a tag, so here's a way to do a tag without having to steal it and admit your deepest, darkest secrets. ;)

Feel free to answer some or all of the questions in the comments!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Rip it or Ship it?

The "Rip it or Ship it?" book tag was created by emmmabooks, and since I was looking for a fun OTP-themed blog post for Valentine's Day, I couldn't pass this one up.

For those who aren't familiar with the tag, the concept of "Rip it or Ship it?" is to mix up a bunch of different names from book characters, randomly select two of them, and smush them together to create a couple. These characters can be (and should be, if you want to make it especially interesting) from different series/book worlds. If you think the two characters would work as a couple, you "ship it." If you think they'll go down in flames, you "rip it."***

***Please note that I don't condone ripping books in any way, shape, or form.

I've picked 10 different combinations of characters (some good, some bad, some so very bad that they're laughable), so . . .

1. Diana Prince from Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Linh Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles.

Amazon warrior + cyborg mechanic. Both of them are fiercely loyal to their friends, have a natural ability to lead, and strive to do what's right for the good of their people. Where Diana tends toward the more adventurous side of things, Cinder is generally more careful and calculated. Like with most of my favorite ships, these two are similar in lots of ways, but complement each other with their opposites. My conclusion:

2. Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and Jace Wayland from The Mortal Instruments

The most despicable of evil and condescending teachers at Hogwarts + angsty, muscular, demon hunter . . .

3. Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows and Tris Prior from Divergent

I can definitely see Inej fitting in with the Dauntless crowd, seeing as she's pretty much the tiniest and most terrifying acrobat you're likely to meet. Also, Tris has a strong set of morals, just like Inej. As for the chemistry, well . . . I suppose it could work? Maybe??

4. Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter and Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments

Isabelle would completely intimidate Neville for a long time. In fact, Izzy would probably be the one to make the first move. She seems harsh at first, but underneath that callused exterior, she's kind and protective. And, as evidenced by the rabid Simon/Isabelle shippers, she works well with the sweet and dorky underdogs. I think Neville would benefit from someone with so much confidence who could push him to stand up for himself and go after things in life.

5. Cath Avery from Fangirl and Simon Snow from Carry On

I swear I didn't plan this.

As perfect as it would be for Cath, the biggest Simon Snow fan in the universe, to end up with Simon Snow himself, I think even Cath would be opposed to the pairing, seeing as she's dedicated most of her life to the idea that Simon and Baz were somehow going to end up together. Sadly, I have to do this:

6. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games and Nina Zenik from Six of Crows

Um, he makes delicious baked goods and she's obsessed with waffles and various tasty pastries. They could grow old together in a cozy little bakery, feasting on waffles and bread. It doesn't get much better than that.

7. Henry "Monty" Montague from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles

I've been cracking up over my keyboard for the past few minutes imagining Monty and Thorne's inevitable meet-cute: they constantly try to one-up each other with their dashing good looks and charm with the ladies, but in their ridiculous competition end up falling for each other instead.

8. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter and Reid from The Upside of Unrequited

This is a tricky one. On the one hand, Luna and Reid are both outcasts in their social circles, but for different reasons, so they'd probably find some common ground in that. On the other hand, while I find them both adorable, they're adorable in totally different ways. I'm not sure Luna's brand of weird and Reid's would necessarily mesh. So . . .

9. Augustus Waters from The Fault In Our Stars and AIDAN from The Illuminae Files

Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

10. Simon Spier from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Harry Potter from Harry Potter

Again . . . did not plan this.

I think I have to go with this one just so I can indulge Simon's Harry Potter fantasies.

Your turn to play! Pick two characters randomly (out of a hat, from a generator, or from the first two books you spot on your bookshelf) and tell me if you would "rip it" or "ship it." Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 2, 2018

January Wrap-Up

1st wrap-up post of the year! I'd love to feel more excited about it, but January was kind of a bummer month for reading. Movies were a little better, though, so that helped. I'm hoping this means I had to do a sort of reading detox or something and get all the bad ones out of my system so I can pick up better books next month. *crosses fingers*

Books I Read

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed


Why, whyyy wasn't this better??? It had all the makings of a super good book, but somehow turned out to be a predictable, cliché, boring romance. It wasn't interesting, the stakes weren't high, and the hype that surrounded this book was largely because it handles Islamophobia, but it barely even touched the topic! This book could have been the next The Hate U Give, but it didn't even come close to being that good. The writing wasn't great and the dialogue was awkward. The whole thing just felt super surface level and too easy. If the author had dug a little deeper, it could've been a masterpiece, but it was just fluffy, and not everything in it was supposed to be fluffy. There was a really big focus on Indian culture, which I found to be refreshingly diverse and interesting. It made for great family dynamics and perspectives on how to straddle two cultures. But otherwise? Meh. Read my review HERE.

Everless by Sara Holland


Another hyped up book that fell flat! I had really bad luck in the ARC department, it seems. It had a very cool premise (you can turn your blood into currency and those coins can then be consumed to add years to your life) and I loved the creativity that went into the world building and legends. Ultimately, that's what made the story unique and worth reading, because otherwise it read like any other fantasy. The protagonist was bland and the romance was laughable. Instalove everywhere. The plot twists could have been great, but they were confusing and sloppy in execution. I probably won't read the sequels, but it was entertaining while it lasted and a fresh take on fantasy worlds. Read my review HERE.

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake


Yay for diversity! Yay for bisexual/lesbian rep and interracial couples! The romance in this was so sweet and innocent and addictive. I loved it. The focus on families and mother-daughter relationships was really nice, too, especially since there were so many different kinds of family relationships portrayed in the story. The author handled some tricky topics in the perfect way, which is not easy to do. The negatives for me were: 1. The ending was a little too neat and perfect for the situation the characters were in. It didn't strike me as realistic at all and some truly horrible behavior was excused as "just another mistake." 2. The writing was just okay and 3. The middle kind of dragged.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab


I so, so wanted to like this more than I did, to the point where I found myself saying "this has to be better than I think it is." It seems like every single person on the planet loves this book and Victoria Schwab, but I was underwhelmed. The story started off with a bang, but it went downhill from there. I was under the impression that I was supposed to be rooting for Victor as an antihero, but then he became darker and more villainous. By the time I was around the 50% mark, the plot started dragging. Where before the dual timeline plots were cool and interesting, the flashbacks quickly became repetitive. Sydney and her dog were the only characters I could feel sympathetic toward, but something about the writing style made me very detached from everyone in the story. I loved the premise, but the beginning was way better than the end. At that point, I just wanted to finish reading so I could move on to something else. I also found it strange that this was categorized as adult. Other than the ages of the characters, everything about it read like a YA novel. Maybe I read the wrong Schwab book? Though the favorable Goodreads rating seems to indicate otherwise. Maybe it's just me.

Movies I Watched

"The Family Stone"


A funny story about a quirky family! A lot of the characters turned out to be kind of horrible people and some of the plot twists were predictable, but I enjoyed it otherwise.

"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle"


I didn't expect much out of this movie, but because I had low expectations, it ended up being a lot more entertaining than I thought. I watched it mostly because the trailer was hilarious and the cast was great, but I also liked the nostalgia factor since "Jumanji" was my movie of choice when I was younger whenever I was sick and needed something to distract me. The remake keeps very little of the original "Jumanji" movie, though (basically just the fact that characters get sucked into a game, but also the iconic drumbeat). And, as with any action blockbuster, some things were undeniably cheesy and way too perfect. But hey, I had fun.

"Must Love Dogs"


EXCUSE ME, GOOD SIR, BUT WHERE WERE THE DOGS. They were there for mayyybe 0.8 seconds, but then they were gone. I literally chose this movie over another one because I thought I'd be getting a heck of a lot more dogs than I got. I feel so betrayed. False advertising! Horrible marketing!

(All right, the romance was kind of cute, but also suuuper cheesy. And I mean cheesy even for a rom-com.)

"The Post"


I felt pretty confused for a good chunk of the movie, but you catch on quickly after that. I don't think it's an accident that this movie is coming out now. The timing is excellent. Even though, historically, I knew what would happen, I still felt like I was on the edge of my seat. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep were great, as always. Highly recommend.

"Lady Bird"


I would've given this 5/5 stars if I were just judging it by the first 3/4 of the movie. It has everything that's so wonderful about quirky Indie movies. Saorise Ronan is great at everything (and did a much better job of disguising her accent than she did way back during "The Host") and Laurie Metcalf made a great mean mother. It was really funny, too! However, the ending seemed to come out of nowhere and fell really flat for me. It left a sour taste in my mouth that didn't match the rest of the movie. I was expecting the story to go somewhere it didn't, and the direction it did go felt out of place.

"The Reader"


I wasn't sure what to think about this even hours after I had finished it. Ultimately, I think that was the point. The movie takes an almost dangerously neutral stance on every topic it covered, including some pretty heinous Nazi war crimes. But, as I said before, I think that was the point since it wasn't the kind of movie that told you what to think but instead displayed all the facts in an unbiased manner so the viewer could make up their own mind. The acting was incredible, so I can definitely see what Kate Winslet got an Oscar for her role. There were a lot of touching moments, as well as supremely uncomfortable ones and heartwrenching scenes. I'm not sure how else to describe it, but I would recommend it. It's heavy, though, so save it for a day that isn't already gloomy!

Quotes I Wrote

Me right now trying to pretend like I'm being super productive and enjoying every single minute of the rewriting process:

Sooooo . . . yeah, no quotes to report.

Obsessions I Acquired

"How to Get Away with Murder" - So I may or may not have binged every episode in, like, a week and a half. The details aren't important. What is important to note is that this show is completely and utterly addictive. I did like the first two seasons better than the later ones, but it's still a great show. Somehow I'm not bothered by the fact that almost every single character is unlikable in one way or another. Except for Oliver. Never change, Oliver.

Jesse the Reader's YouTube channel - I discovered Jesse kind of by accident, because I don't usually watch YouTubers, but I got distracted on Twitter by an EpicReads video about upcoming movie adaptations. Jesse was theYouTuber involved and 20 minutes later, I was still watching suggested videos in which he was featured. He's so funny! And his videos are a great reward for getting some homework done since they're usually around six or seven minutes. 

Pictures of the Month 

FINALLY GOT MY LICENSE!!! After one failed attempt, I passed with flying colors the second time. Take that, stupid parallel parking!

Max and I were both finalists in a poetry contest! I somehow ended up snagging the first place prize, which was a great surprise. Here are all the winners posing for a picture.

My family took TJ to see "Something Rotten" for his birthday and we all loved it!
Because every wrap-up post needs a picture of Scout in it.

How was your January?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Character Karaoke - The Music that Inspired a Witchy Romance

I am oh-so-very late in accepting the Character Karaoke tag from Abigail at "Ups and Downs," but today is the perfect day to post this! I am deep into the throes of revisions for 'Til the Last Star Dies, which means I've had a carefully composed playlist on repeat for days on end in order to get me through it. Other than keeping some soothing tea and a gigantic bucket of chocolate on the desk next to you, music is the best thing to keep me focused and motivated. Because otherwise I'll be sitting at the computer looking like this:

Although, let's be real, I look like that anyway whenever I'm editing.

Onto the tag questions!

It's your OTP's wedding day. What song plays during their first dance?

We're off to a great start, because I'm going to go ahead and bend the rules on the questions already. I have loads of songs that describe Lila and Melody's relationship, but none of them are your typical "first dance" songs. My favorite OTP song for the two of them is "Favourite Colour" by Carly Rae Jepsen. It was one of the first songs I added to my playlist because the lyrics were too good to pass up. In my novel, witches have the ability to see people's auras. Every single one is unique to the person in that they're all different colors and have various "textures." Auras give clues as to what the person's mood is or if they're healthy or injured. Auras also take on a more vibrant quality whenever they're around someone they love. Therefor, "Favourite Colour" is perfect.

Any instrument players or characters with ties to music?

None of my characters play instruments, but Lila is a big fan of classic rock and dragging her friends out to sing karaoke. One of her go-to songs for this is "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard. She's forced her best friend Jordan to sing it with her many, many times.

What song(s) best describe your protagonist(s)?

For Lila, I picked "Black Sheep" by Gin Wigmore. It has a wild, dangerous feel to it and the chorus describes Lila exactly when it comes to the moments where her magic takes over and turns her into something unpredictable and animalistic:

I'm a ba-a-a-ad woman to keep
Make me ma-a-a-ad, I'm not here to please
Paint me in a corner but my color comes back
Once you go black, you never go back
I'm a black sheep
I'm a black sheep

"She Waits" by Louden Swain fits Melody really well because her father was killed in action as an agent for SMART, which is the Strategic Monster Removal Team. He was on a mission to kill a bunch of demons and died when she was eighteen, so a couple of SMART agents had to go to her house and deliver the news. Since Melody's mother left years ago, Melody practically became an orphan.

And meanwhile the house is empty
The floors lay, naked and weary
The walls, barely hanging on
Carry on
And she, waits for you
She can't hear anything they're saying
She can't believe what is true
It doesn't make sense what they're saying
She can't see anyone, but you

Go-to songs for battle, romance, or intense scenes?

My battle music probably isn't what you'd expect, but I prefer creepy, ominous music to heart-thumping, intense battle songs. Especially for the pre-apocalyptic world I built where all of Earth is basically waiting for the day when demons finally outnumber humans and take over. My two favorite songs for this are "Mars" by Sleeping At Last and "World on Fire" by Les Friction

As far as romance goes, I've got plenty of those, too. But I'll stick to my top favorites, which are"End of the World" by A Great Big World, "Electric Love" by BØRNS, and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie.


Let's talk music. What are your favorite songs to write to? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review: Double Edition (LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS and EVERLESS)

Expected publication: January 16th, 2018
Pages: 288

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.


First book read in the New Year! But grrrr, I was hoping to like it more. I'll start with what I didn't like so I can at least end this review on a positive note.

-The romance was cliché, predictable, and not at all interesting. It was super obvious from very early on what was going to happen and there were so few obstacles standing in Maya's way.

-The Islamophobia and terrorist attack became background plot. I was expecting it to be a huge focus, but it wasn't, and I was super disappointed. This book could have been the next The Hate U Give, but I found the problems that came from the terrorist attack to be very easily taken care of when they should have been complicated.

-There also wasn't any focus on Muslim culture?????? Maya NEVER talks about what she thinks about her religion or anything, even though she clearly has different thoughts from her parents on everything.

-The writing wasn't great and the dialogue was awkward. I didn't like most of the characters because of this, even though I should have liked the characters otherwise.

-The whole thing just felt super surface level and too easy. If the author had dug a little deeper, it could've been a masterpiece, but it was just fluffy, and not everything in it was supposed to be fluffy.

-MAYA WAS SO UNFAIR TO HER PARENTS. Sometimes she had the right to be a little annoyed, but other times she acted exasperated by them when they were being totally reasonable. At one point, her mom offers to stay home with her because she's not feeling well and she's like, "Mom, I'm being smothered!" So rude.

Things I did like . . .

-There was a huge focus on Indian culture, which I found to be refreshingly diverse and interesting. It made for great family dynamics and perspectives on how to straddle two cultures (American and Indian).

-I liked that Maya wanted to be a documentarian! I've never seen that kind of art portrayed in a YA book and it was cool to see a unique side of movie-making.

-The book touched on a lot of different important issues Indian-American and Muslim-American families faced today, and while I wish those issues had been explored more, they were still brought up, and that's a step in the right direction.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, which I personally didn't like that much, but I know many people did. It read very similarly.

I rate it:

Published: January 2nd, 2018
Pages: 368

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.


This was a very cool premise (you can turn your blood into currency and those coins can then be consumed to add years to your life). I loved the creativity that went into the world building and legends. Ultimately, that's what made the story unique and worth reading, because otherwise it read like any other fantasy.

I wasn't a fan of Jules as a character. I didn't dislike her, and sometimes I felt sorry for her, but she was a little bland.

The romance was honestly laughable. I didn't buy it in the slightest. It was basically instalove, which I can't stand 95% of the time.

The plot twists could have been great, but I feel like they were confusing and sloppy in execution. They might have worked better had they been spread throughout the book more, but the first half of the book was a ton of setup, which made it kind of slow.

I probably won't read the sequels, but it was entertaining while it lasted and a fresh take on fantasy worlds. Fans of RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard might enjoy this one.

I rate it:

Actual rating: 3.5

Have you read Love, Hate & Other Filters or Everless? What did you think? What was the first book you read this year? Leave a comment!