September 30, 2016

Random Friday: Favorite Class

Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
  • Blog about this week's topic.
  • Add the link to your Random Friday at the bottom of this post.
I'm going to talk about my favorite class this semester. Going into this semester, I had a feeling it would be one of two classes - and I was right.

Intermediate creative writing fiction is my favorite class of this semester by far. I'm a creative writing major, after all, and fiction is my specialty. The intermediate level class has been even better than the beginner level. We have so much more writing freedom; we still can't write a lot of science fiction and fantasy, but prompts are more open-ended, and the assignments due so far have been tailored so they work with each of our individual projects.

My prof is very big on free-write time in class (she was in beginning fiction too), and the last two classes, she's let us write on whatever we want related to our project for the semester, which means I've been working on my new book idea.

Speaking of our semester project, we have a final portfolio that has to be at least 75 pages of whatever fiction we want to work on - various short stories, part of a novel or novella, etc. So now I've got this goal of getting my new story to 75 pages, which may happen. Otherwise, I'll include some other shorter pieces I've written over the semester. I'm just glad that I feel like writing these days.

So do you have a favorite class this year/semester?

September 29, 2016

Review: When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Grade: B-
Release date: October 4, 2016
An ARC was provided by St. Martin's Griffin via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. 

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I got to be on the blog tour for Anna-Marie's debut, The Weight of Feathers, last year, and I fell in love with her words. I didn't realize how much I'd missed her way with words until I started reading When the Moon Was Ours earlier this month. 
I'm not sure I liked WtMWO as much as TWoF. There was something about the Bonner sisters that rubbed me the wrong way. I'm also not into fiction with witches (or implied witches). I know magic is a big part of magical realism, but it felt different in this book in a way that I didn't love. (So it's probably nothing wrong with the book; it's just personal taste.) I liked Aracely and her relationship with Miel; it's not a mother-daughter situation, and it makes a lot more sense once you find out certain things that I won't spoil. Sam's mom is a quiet gem. I was a bit wary of her for a while, but she's great. 
There's a bit of swearing (some s-words and at least one f-word), and some descriptions of foreplay. Nothing terribly explicit. There is a triggering scene if you're sensitive to potentially suicidal thoughts.

The Verdict: Absolutely gorgeous cover. Lovely words. I'm iffy on the rest.

Buy: Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Not sure yet.

September 28, 2016

Like a River Glorious Blog Tour: Review

The Author
I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I now live in Arizona with my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.

The Book
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.
Buy: Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble  Amazon

The Review
One of my favorite things about Rae's writing is the simple beauty of it. She is an expert storyteller who keeps you enthralled.
Lee is such a strong heroine, doing what she can to save her friends and newly made family. I didn't realize how much time would be spent with her uncle Hiram, but it really gave her time to stew and learn how to be a woman who can wield power and femininity in her era. (Also, side note the ick factor with Hiram is strong.) 
Like a River Glorious is largely about Lee coming into her own and learning the extent of her gold senses/magic. I know people wanted more magic in Walk on Earth a Stranger, and I think Like a River Glorious can fill that need. WoEaS was lots of worldbuilding and character introduction, and it was a journey book. LaRG was lots of plot and tension, and it was great. I enjoyed WoEaS, but, like with Rae's previous trilogy, the second book is much stronger than the first. (And I honestly cannot wait to see what she does with book three.)
The one thing I missed in LaRG was Lee's crew. Most of them are back at their camp for most of the novel, and I had come to like them so much during WoEaS. I love that Lee has so many supporters, mainly because she's earned their trust and respect.
The book overall is very clean (violence, language, sexual content), and I'd happily recommend this series to younger YA readers.

The Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win one of three hardcover copies! (US only)

September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2016 Reads

I shared some more fall 2016 releases I'm anticipating in a Random Friday post back in August. Now here are some more.

1. Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

2. Into White by Randi Pink

3. Illusion by Martina Boone

4. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

5. Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

6. A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray

7. Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

8. Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

9. You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche

10. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

What fall releases are you looking forward to?

September 25, 2016

Sunday Street Team: A Shadow Bright and Burning Guest Post

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one. 
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Buy: Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble  Amazon

The Author: Jessica Cluess

The Guest Post: Favorite Fantasy Heroines

Choosing just one or two favorite fantasy heroines is nearly impossible. There are so many funny, strong, terrifying, vulnerable, compassionate, intelligent, fearsome, and downright incredible leading ladies in the genre that it’s one of those situations where your mind shuts down when you’re asked. That’s the kind of question where you go find the collected works of Tamora Pierce, plop them in front of the person who asked, shrug, and walk away. So instead of creating a list of umpteen billion women, I’m going to name two ladies whom I really love, and explain why I love them.

The first girl is Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle. The reason I love Sophie is because she isn’t your standard fantasy heroine. In fact, in the beginning of the book, she’s resigned herself to a life of drudgery and boredom because she’s the eldest of three, and going by fairy tale logic, nothing remarkable will ever happen to her. Sophie does her work in a hat shop, knows how to cook and clean, but there’s nothing about her that screams ‘badass magic girl.’ And that’s the reason I love her. Sophie’s adventure is made the more real because she herself is a relatively “real” girl. I mean, sure, she’s got the whole curse that makes her look like an old woman going on, but that’s just the catalyst that gets her out the door. As much as I love women in fantasy who barge in with a sword strapped to their backs, a dagger between their teeth, and a prophecy sitting on their shoulders, I love girls like Sophie because they remind us that adventure and excitement isn’t just for the anointed. It can happen to all of us, if we’re brave enough to answer its call.

The second fantasy girl is Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials. When I was younger, I was fairly certain I was going to name my daughter after Lyra. She’s a twelve-year-old girl who swans around with aeronauts and armored bears, has an animal familiar that talks, and knows how to outwit people five times her age. I don’t care that she’s a kid: I’d still love to be her. Lyra is the unlikable girl protagonist. For the first book in the series especially, she’s a lying, manipulative child who is sassy to an almost unbelievable degree. She’s headstrong to a fault, and has zero control…because she’s twelve years old. Usually when we see young girls in fantasy, they’re made to be either entirely too sweet and demure, or so skilled and wise that you don’t believe for a second they’re not yet twenty. Lyra feels like a real, honest to god tomboy, and that makes her journey—and her eventual sacrifice—so painful and so pure. She’s allowed to develop and grow in great and horrible ways throughout the series. That kind of growth is rare in any character, let alone such a young kid. But that transformation makes her into one of the great fantasy heroines, as far as I’m concerned.

There are, like I’ve said, too many incredible girls to name. And if we’re lucky, even more incredible, flawed, brave, and true young women will be gracing the pages of fantasy books in the future. That would make naming them all even more difficult, and delightful.

September 24, 2016

Another Round of #QuietYA

I felt like it was time for another #quietYA recommendations post. For those of you who don't know what #quietYA is, it's under-the-radar YA books that haven't won any big awards or been on any bestselling lists. Basically the ones that only bloggers really know about, unless someone is browsing a bookstore and sees the title on the shelf. All of my recommendations today are contemporary - I seem to have exhausted my #quietYA sci-fi/fantasy shelf - but you can check out my other posts in this series for some different genres if contemporary isn't your scene.

If you love teen movies, especially The Breakfast Club, you have to try Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas.
It's fun, sweet, and has a good focus on friendship.

I've mentioned Sarah Strohmeyer's Smart Girls Get What They Want in one of these posts before. If you've read that one, you should try How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True.
It's fluffy and light and a fun romp in an amusement park a lot like Disney.

If you want something more serious, though, Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern is an excellent choice.
If you're looking for a biracial romance, complex family dynamics, and hard choices, this is a book for you.

If you're interested in exploring cultures different from your own, give A World Away by Nancy Grossman a try.
It felt like a very respectful depiction of Amish culture.

A more recent release is Lauren Gibaldi's sophomore novel, Autofocus.
The protagonist is passionate about photography, and she's exploring her past.

If you're in it for unlikeable characters, you might want to check out Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell.
It's not terribly heavy, and it's definitely good for younger YA readers.

Finally, if you were (or are) a fellow homeschooler, you have to try Kathryn Ormsbee's Lucky Few.
It's one of the few realistic depictions of homeschoolers in literature. (Just warning ya, though, there's more profanity than I was expecting.)

And if you're looking for more recommendations, check out my Odyssey post for next week! (The link will be on my blog's Facebook page.)

September 22, 2016

So You Like... #34

If you saw my last So You Like... post, I promised to do more themed around the various Hogwarts houses. Today I'm doing my secondary house, which is...


I tried to choose books with hardworking, loyal, kind characters who love life. (As always, book covers will link you to the Goodreads pages)







What other books would you recommend for Hufflepuffs?

September 20, 2016

We Like Our Books Violent

There's something about an epic fantasy book that demands it has a weapon on the cover - whether it stands alone or is wielded by a model portraying the protagonist. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites.

(Several people have told me I should read this series. What do y'all think?)


(I mean, the title mentions a sword, so I guess this was to be expected.)


(Literally look at any book in the Throne of Glass series.)


(Not gonna lie, this one feels like a Graceling knock-off.)

(There's even some blood.)

(This cover is the subtlest of the trilogy, but Kestrel holds a dagger.)



The good news is, I didn't get any paper cuts while writing this post. Anyways, what are your thoughts on this cover trend?

September 18, 2016

Rewind & Review #69

~I went to three author events in one week - two discussions and signings, and one reading.
~This past week felt tougher than the week before finals usually is.

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes (ARC gifted by @NSchumacher85)
Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout (ARC gifted by @bookaddictguide)
We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen (ARC trade with @otakutwins1)

Books I Bought
Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Books I Read
Like No Other by Una LaMarche (reread)
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (reread)
All We Have Left by Wendy Mills (3.5 stars)
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure (4 stars)
My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (4.5 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 9/5-9/10)
   (from 9/11-9/17)

September 17, 2016

So You Like... #33

I've been brainstorming this post's topic for a while now, and after seeing a display at a used bookstore, I knew what I had to do. 

SO YOU LIKE... (or are...)


I'm going to recommend books that I think my fellow Slytherins would enjoy. Feel free to chime in with your suggestions! I tried to choose books with ambitious, clever characters who often set their own rules to follow. (And as always, the book cover will link you to its Goodreads page.)








And if you belong to another Hogwarts house... you might want to stay tuned over the next few weeks.