Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dear OTP (TCWT Blog Chain)

I am so freakishly excited for this TCWT prompt (thank you for your genius, John). The hardest part was picking just a few couples to write about (decisions!). Let me start off by saying that I hate ship bashing. The rudeness I've witnessed (especially from aggressive Johnlock/Sherlolly shippers . . . calm down, guys) is just plain mean. Each fangirl/boy is allowed his/her own opinion without judgement or cattiness. This has been and always will be a hate-free blog, so don't be afraid to leave a comment!

(Why yes, yes I have made a list of my OTPs--all 50 or so of them--and yes, yes I did consult it as I wrote this post.)

Prompt: “Write a letter to a fictional couple.”


Dear Tenrose,
Why must you hurt me in this way? I spent an entire season squeeing over your adorableness and you had to go and break my heart. Thanks for the week I spent wallowing in my grief with tissues and chocolate, grumbling over the first few episodes of S3.

But in all seriousness, you two are the ultimate OTP. You're funny, you're sweet, you're cute, you kick butt, and you save the universe time and time again. What more could a ship ask for?

A Dedicated Whovian Surrounded By Empty Boxes of Tissues

Dear Luneville,

You two should totally have been canon. I can't think of a better pairing in the entire series. You're both quirky and often considered misfits. But I think more than anything, what would've drawn the two of you together is that you're unconditionally kind. You love your friends like family and would do anything to help them. You're the perfect match. Fan-fiction doesn't lie.

A Potterhead Who Thinks You Two Should Just Kiss Already

Dear Sherlolly,

THE FRUSTRATION. You two have had three seasons of sparks and chemistry and nothing?! Sherlock, you idiot, say something to her. For a genius detective, you sure are oblivious to her attempts at romance. Even John sees it. Molly is willing to do anything for you, including pretending you were dead for two years.

If nothing happens in S4, I'm sending another letter of protest.

A Sherlolly Shipper With Too Many Feels

Dear Megstiel,

Yes, yes, I am in the minority here with the Supernatural fandom, but I can't help it. I never would've expected to ship an angel and a demon in this show, especially a demon whom I'd previously loathed with every fiber of my body. How in the world did I ever end up squealing over you two? Oh yes, because the writing is brilliant. Ahem. But that's another letter for another time.

Cas is undeniably sweet and adorable, and Meg, while rough around the edges, was willing to stay by his side when he was crazy!Cas and stuck in a hospital bed. They take care of each other, which is probably the most important thing a ship can have, especially in the Supernatural fandom.

But, like all the best OTPs, it must either never have existed at all or end in tragedy. *sighs heavily* But this is Supernatural, after all, so there's hope for you yet . . .

A Shipper Who Hopes Meg Finds Her Unicorn

Ignore the confused moose in the background. He knows nothing of your love.

Dear Hazel & Augustus,

Apparently you don't have a ship name because you're just too awesome to even need one. That's pretty cool, but it is a mouthful to say "Hazel and Augustus" when I could be saying "Haugustus" or something to that effect.

You two are smart, sarcastic, funny, and adorable together. You even fangirl/fanboy over books together. How cool is that?! And Gus bought Hazel plane tickets to Amsterdam using his wish from the genies in order to get her to meet her favorite author?! Yeah, he's a keeper.

A Fangirl Trying Not to Cry

Dear Cress & Thorne,

Corne? Thress? Do you even have a ship name? It doesn't really matter. You guys are awesome. And hilarious. And cute. I pretty much spent the whole time reading the book with a smile on my face. Cress is adorable. Thorne is awesome and reminds me of Captain Jack Harkness. Basically you two are my favorite characters in The Lunar Chronicles. The end.

A Huge Fan Waiting Impatiently For Winter

There are SO many cool pieces of fanart out there, it was hard to choose just one!

I could go on and on and on, but I won't for the sake of keeping this post at a relatively normal size. I would like to give a shout out to Javajunkie, Sizzy, Malec, Rumbelle, Dean/Jo, and Niles/Daphne.

Who are your OTPs? Please share!

Psst. Remember the "Bean Bag's and Sofa's Writer's Group" I talked about a little while ago? Well the site is finally up! Check it out!

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Ember In the Ashes (a book review)

An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Release date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 443

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


I mentioned in my "Ten Bookish Goals For 2015" post back in December that I wanted to read and review a debut book. After consulting the owners of our local bookstore, I was handed this one. I went into it with high hopes and was not disappointed. (And it also helped me with my "read more fantasy" goal!)

An Ember In the Ashes sounds like it could be a dystopian book from the description, but it is so, so not. It's definitely fantasy, more like a Roman gladiator story than anything else. Yes, the government officials are terrifying and evil and brutal, but they are not President Snow or Jeanine Matthews. The story reminded me of Girl In the Arena (though a much, much better version of it) and the Mortal Instruments series.

The book is told through dual perspectives; Laia, an undercover slave working as a spy to free her brother from prison, and Elias, a once dutiful soldier who's having second thoughts. Though I liked both of the characters a lot, only Laia's perspective managed to keep me interested all the way through. Elias' got better over time, but his beginning was flat and confusing. I had to fight through his chapters for the first hundred pages until things started to pick up. Luckily, I love characters who try to infiltrate a system from the inside or work as a spy (think Charlie Bradbury from "Supernatural" or the members of the Order of the Phoenix), so Laia's storyline kept me hooked.

It's a familiar enough premise--imperfect fantasy society told through dual male and female perspectives--but has unique aspects that set it apart from the others like it. I love both Laia and Elias for different reasons. Laia agrees to be a spy for the Resistance, which is a group of people fighting the system, and becomes a slave for the cruel ruler, the Commandant. She needs to give the Resistance information in order to free her brother, who was captured by the government. Elias is a soldier participating in a competition to see who will become the emperor, but he feels conflicted about the way things are and forms a kind of friendship with Laia.

There are few characters who are central to the story, though sometimes it was hard to keep track of Elias' friends, who hardly did anything except confuse me. Laia was probably my favorite character, along with the more timid slave, Izzi. Laia was not ferociously brave and self-sacrificing like lots of young heroines are nowadays. She was scared, and she didn't like getting hurt, but she was able to find enough bravery to keep pushing for the sake of her brother. She didn't have bravery thrust upon her, but she grew into it, which I thought was really cool to see. Izzi was the slave she bonded with, and I like the friendship the two of them have. Laia brought Izzi out of her shell a little, and Izzi was sweet to her.

Elias is a character to feel sorry for. His mother is ruthless, and treats him like a soldier rather than a son. He has a rocky relationship with his best friend as the book goes on and their values start to change. He's constantly having to choose between what is right and what will keep him and his friends safe. And he has to figure out if his friends are really his friends.

I had a hard time with Elias' best friend, Helen. I liked her at first, then I didn't, then I wasn't sure. She's a confused character brought up in a world where she's taught that it's okay to kill people simply because you believe you're better than they are. I still can't decide if she's a bad guy or just someone in need of a friend to teach her what's right.

As for the plot, yes, there sadly was a love triangle. *sighs heavily* Maybe even a love square? I don't know. The whole time there was confusion from all of the characters, pointed looks and sleepless nights. Overall, it just wasn't believable for me. I knew the whole time which two characters would end up together (and though I won't spoil it for you, I was right!). It wasn't central to the plot though, thank god, so I can get past that.

The ending was satisfying, but definitely left room for a sequel. Nobody's sure if there's going to be one as the publisher only bought the one, but it sounds like there might be a movie! It would make a great movie if anything comes of it.

All in all, I would give this book

If you like fantasy, dual perspectives, and undercover spy work, this book is for you!

Have you read this book? What did you think? And what are your thoughts on love triangles/squares?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beautiful People Linkup--April

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 siblings! I love family dynamics, especially sibling dynamics, in books (and movies and TV shows). This meme made me realize that I actually don't have a lot of siblings in my stories, though. I'll definitely have to fix that.

Anyway, I couldn't decide between answering the questions for Cassandra and Cindy (unicorns from my MG fantasy trilogy) or Lane and Becca (from Beneath the Moon and Stars, my YA contemporary romance), so I'm bending the rules and doing both. ;)


1. What is the first memory they have of each other?

The first memory Cindy has of Cassandra is actually right after Cassie was born. Cindy, being only two at the time and not realizing how fragile newborn unicorns really are, tried to play with her by tackling her. Cassandra wasn't hurt, though, and thought it seemed like fun. It didn't take long for them to bond.

Cassandra remembers being scared of everything that was going on in Fantasya when she was about two. Giants, trolls, and elves invaded Prosperity Border (their home), and their dad told Cindy to take Cassandra and hide somewhere safe. Cindy stayed with her for a long time.

Becca's four years older than Lane, so her first memory is holding Lane on the couch, surrounded by lots of concerned adults giving her different instructions about how to hold his head up and keep the blanket wrapped around him. She remembers his huge poof of black hair, which never really went away as he got older.

Lane was always running after Becca when he was little, the two of them finding their own entertainment during their mother's boring dinner parties by causing mischief. When Becca was eight, she had Lane keep watch while she dumped clear alcohol into the sink and replaced it with water. Their mother screamed at them afterward, but Lane remembers feeling immensely proud of the two of them while they were actually carrying out their plan. He felt like a spy, standing at the door, peeking through the crack for anyone coming.

2. Describe their relationship in 3 words.

Cassandra and Cindy's relationship: Lots of love.

Lane and Becca: Ups and downs.

3. What kind of things do they like to do together?

Cassandra and Cindy, when they aren't fighting for their lives, love games. Even as adults, they jump in and play tag with their kids or hide and seek. They have energy to spare, so running around is the perfect outlet for them.

Lane and Becca tend to bond over exasperation at their mother's petty antics. They hated it as kids, they hate it now. But it's fun to whisper and crack jokes behind their parents' backs, both of them trying to make the other laugh first. Mostly, they just like to talk. They may not have a whole lot in common, but they can count on each other for stimulating conversation when everyone else around them is more concerned with the paint choice for the room they're sitting in.

4. What was their biggest fight?

Cassandra and Cindy rarely fight. They know all too well that they can't accomplish as much alone as they can together. Their biggest fight lasted for maybe a day. Cassandra accidentally let slip that Cindy was pregnant, when she and her husband were waiting to tell everyone all at once at a nice dinner. But after realizing it wasn't that big of a deal, they both apologized and went back to being friends.

Lane and Becca are unpredictable. Sometimes they're both in fantastic moods, the next day they could be screaming at each other. Overall, their relationship is really good, but they fight like normal siblings.

5. How far would they go to save each other?

Pfft, Cassie and Cindy have literally risked their lives for each other from the time they were toddlers. I don't think there's anything they wouldn't do for the other.

Lane and Becca have each other's backs, for the most part. It's kind of necessary for survival when they're both living with their mother. Becca hates to see her little brother get hurt or picked on, but she's willing to slap him into shape if the situation requires it. Lane is generally willing to do all sorts of favors for Becca, too.

6. What are their pet peeves about each other?

Cindy likes to tease her little sister in front of other people, which is funny at first, but quickly becomes irritating for Cassandra. Cindy hates it when Cassie chews with her mouth open.

Lane thinks Becca is too uptight, Becca thinks Lane can't take anything seriously.

7. What are their favorite things about each other?

Cassandra and Cindy love their inside jokes. Whether they're whispering and giggling late at night or cracking each other up in the middle of a boring event, they're constantly laughing.

Though he'd never admit it and risk constant teasing from her, Lane thinks Becca has good advice. She's the first person he goes to when he's in a pinch because he knows he'll listen. Becca likes the way Lane balances her out when she's feeling stressed. He's always up for a game or a night out.

8. What traits do they share? Mannerisms, clothing, quirks, looks, etc?

Cassandra and Cindy are both energetic, outgoing, fun-loving, happy, and funny. Their coats are pure white.

Lane and Becca are both extremely sarcastic and smart. They're both eye-rollers and share the same loud laugh.

9. Who has the strongest personality?

It's a tough call, but Cassandra probably wins. Cindy's a little worn out from her little sister's energy.

Lane, definitely Lane. He is a strong E while Becca's an I.

10. How does their relationship change throughout your story?

Cindy wasn't around for much of Cassandra's childhood, as she was separated from her during the war in Fantasya, but when the two reunited, it was as if nothing had changed. If anything, their bond strengthened.

Lane and Becca fought with each other more at the beginning of the story, sick of the other's antics, very much needing their own space. They soon found a common cause to unite them. I won't spoil what happens at the end.

Tell me about the siblings you've written! Or, even better, linkup with Cait and talk about them on your own blog. Who are some of your favorite fictional families?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Let Them Eat Books, Er, Cake

Thanks for tagging me, Miel! :) A meme about books AND food?! I'm in.

A book that was a little slow to start off but really picked up as it went along.

I'll go with one I'm reading right now, which is a debut book, An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. It was a little flat and confusing at first, but intriguing enough to make me keep going. I'm so glad I did! I'm about 100 pages from the end and it's really good. It's a familiar enough premise--imperfect fantasy society told through dual male and female perspectives--but has unique aspects that set it apart from the others like it. Laia and Elias are the protagonists, and I love them both. Laia agrees to be a spy for the Resistance, which is a group of people fighting the system, and becomes a slave for the cruel ruler, the Commandant. She needs to give the Resistance information in order to free her brother, who was captured by the government. Elias is a soldier participating in a competition to see who will become the emperor, but he feels conflicted about the way things are and forms a kind of friendship with Laia. I'll post a review about it on my blog once I finish, but I definitely recommend it.

A book that had a rich, great plot.

Ooh, the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce is so. good. Honestly, I've been a little disappointed with her other series (although I also enjoyed Protector of the Small), but Alanna's stories have kept me up at night. The first one is probably my favorite, but they're all solid 5-star reads. If you're looking for good epic medieval fantasy, look no further.

A book you thought was going to be bad but actually turned out quite enjoyable.

(First of all, eggs are delicious. Why would you put eggs and something you thought was going to be bad together?)

It's a tie between the Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong and The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I entered a giveaway a couple years back to win a random box of books, and the Darkness Rising series was what I won. I was a little skeptical, because paranormal wasn't really my thing, and the premise didn't intrigue me. But I was about to go on a road trip, and road trips mean lots of books, so I brought it along. I don't think I slept until I finished the series. I was pleasantly surprised.

I had no interest whatsoever in reading The Host, because sci-fi? Aliens? (Ironic, since sci-fi and aliens pretty much occupy my days now.) Stephenie Meyer? Meh. But I saw a preview for the movie and my best friend recommended it to me, so I checked it out. Over 600 pages in two days. Yeah, it was pretty freaking awesome.

A sugary, sweet book.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell takes the cake. Anything this woman writes is gold, and Fangirl is no different. Her characters, her dialogue, her simple plots, etc. Her books are just genius. Fangirl is funny, fluffy in the best ways, and a quick read.

A book that covered every single element that you enjoy about a book (funny moments, action moments, sad moments, etc.).

Pfft, Harry Potter for sure. (If you didn't see that coming, you need glasses.)

A book series that you can kind of turn back to for a little pick me up when you’re feeling down.

The Calvin and Hobbes series by Bill Watterson. :) This is definitely my comfort series (other than Harry Potter). I can grab a book from my treasury, flip to a random page, and get a guaranteed smile on my face. Even if I just read a single comic strip (though they're usually too addictive to just read one), I feel happier. It's a great way to start the day.

The cherry on top
Your favorite book this year so far.

Ooh, tricky one. But probably Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I've said for a while now that I would read it, so I finally did. And it is awesome. Seriously, Celaena is a fantastic heroine. She's hysterical, rough around the edges, totally kicks butt. Aside from not knowing how to spell or pronounce anyone's names, it's a great read.

(Also, the cover is so pretty. I want a poster of it hanging on my wall.)

Tag, you're it! Feel free to take this for your own blog. And here's a bonus question for the comments: "Raisins" What book surprised you, in good ways or bad? (Because we've all been surprised by raisins disguising themselves as chocolate chips at some point. Sneaky little devils.)