November 29, 2017

Book Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Usually I'm either indifferent towards or love book covers. But there's a few that I have opinions about or indifferent enough towards that I wish I could redesign (even though I'm not artistic in the slightest).

1. Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson
It's mainly the colors I'd switch up. The yellow is just unappealing and the position of their heads just feels awkward. I'd definitely leave Elliot/Ever and Brandon on the cover in some form, although I'd love to give the cover a little more of a sci-fi/nerd/school-focused look.

2. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
I'd put Chaol in his wheelchair on the cover so it would match the rest of the series.

3. Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Not entirely sure what I'd do with this one, but I'm not sure the current cover reflects the book's contents well enough.

4. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
I love the feel of this cover, but its colors are just a little too off and, compared to Anna-Marie's other covers, it's a little bare. So I'd dress it up a little more and make it really pop.

5. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
It's just so boring. The faint ocean in the background does nothing for it either.

6. Don't Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
I like the style of Like No Other's cover more, so I'd redesign DFMN to coordinate better with that.

7. 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
This book is so much deeper than its cover, so I'd make it reflect that.

What book covers would you redesign and why?

November 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter 2017/2018 Reads

Time to share what winter releases I'm looking forward to!

1. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

2. Everless by Sara Holland

3. You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

4. Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

5. Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

6. Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry
(Ngl, it's mainly because of that title.)

7. The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

8. American Panda by Gloria Chao

9. The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton

10. Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

11. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

12. This Tiny Perfect World by Lauren Gibaldi

13. The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

14. More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

What books are you anticipating this winter/planning to read this winter?

November 27, 2017

Why I Love Some Kind of Happiness

Time to wax poetic about a book that definitely has a fall feel to me (although fall is almost over).


I love Some Kind of Happiness for four reasons.

1. The whimsy
I love Finley's fantasy story, how its interspersed with the chapters, and how it reflects her life.

2. The quietness
Sometimes quiet books are slow but not this one.

3. How you feel what Finley feels
I could feel her despair and pain on several instances, and I didn't want her to suffer of course, but Claire Legrand wrote it so beautifully.

4. The cousins and neighbors
The secondary cast of characters is just as wonderful as Finley, and they all come to life through her eyes.

I haven't seen a ton of people talking about Some Kind of Happiness, but y'all definitely need to read it. It's one of my favorite middle grade books.

Goodreads  Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble

November 26, 2017

Not Now, Not Ever Blog Tour: Q&A with Lily Anderson

The Book


Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer. 

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.

The Author

LILY ANDERSON is a school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California, far from her mortal enemy: the snow. 

The Interview

1. Who's your favorite character in Not Now, Not Ever?
Lily: Definitely Elliot. She’s so different than me—she’s sporty where I’m slothy and brave where I’m scared and into sci-fi where I’m into romance novels and musicals. I loved being in her head for the year I was writing the book.

2. What is your writing process? Are you a pantser? (That would be especially interesting given the literary conversation with the plays). Outliner?
Lily: I’m an outliner and my outlines get more serious with every book. With NOT NOW, I outlined a three act structure which was basically “Elliot runs away. Elliot is at camp. Camp is really hard.” If I were outlining the same story now, it would have a chapter by chapter breakdown with character beats.

3. Please give the elevator pitch for Not Now, Not Ever.
Lily: Using The Importance Of Being Earnest as a guide, Elliot Gabaroche runs away from home to compete for a college scholarship.

4. Without spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?
Lily: Any scene that happens in the Mo-Lo library. As a librarian, I took particular joy in creating a giant fantastical library of my dreams (and putting some swoon inside).

5. What do you most hope that readers take away from your novels (either or both)?
Lily: I want all my readers to take away a sense of happiness. Not Now, Not Ever and its predecessor, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, are fluff. Hopefully well crafted, artisanal and organic fluff but fluff nonetheless. NOT NOW is very much a story about choosing a path, but also realizing that the paths don’t close behind you. I want my readers to have hope for Elliot’s path and their own.

6. What is next?
Lily: My next book, Undead Girl Gang, comes out from Penguin Razorbill on May 8, 2018! It’s Veronica Mars meets The Craft in the fat Latina book I’ve always wanted to write.

7. Do you have a dream cast for if there was ever a movie version of Not Now, Not Ever?
Lily: In four or five years, I think that Marsai Martin (Diane from Blackish) and Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) would be a perfect Elliot and Brandon. Wendell Cheeseman, the professor in charge of Camp Onward, was written with Paul Scheer  (from my all-time favorite podcast, How Did This Get Made, and TV shows like Fresh Off The Boat and The League) in mind. 

Emma: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what are your go-to artists or genres?
Lily: Every book I write has its own playlist. For Not Now, Not Ever, there was a lot of old school hip hop like Kris Kross and DJ Kool (stuff Elliot would be way too young to remember), Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift (the RED era), and the Space Jam and Pitch Perfect soundtracks.

Emma: Cake or pie, and what kind?

Lily: Pie all day! Cake doesn’t have crust. I love all kinds of fruit pie, but a cherry pie made with fresh cherries is probably my favorite. (Don’t forget real homemade whipped cream.)

November 24, 2017

Random Friday: Writing

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.
What have you been writing lately?

I've been working on that daunting 250-page portfolio due during finals week. I found out about a month ago that, thankfully, my professor doesn't need to see everything we've written before it goes into the portfolios. That definitely saves me a bunch of time because I would have to do SO MUCH revision if that were the case. I've been writing like crazy and editing a bit myself, but revising to her standards is ridiculous (especially since she doesn't favor/write fiction at all).

I'm still trekking along with my WIP that I've been writing since last August. I'm trying not to feel bad that it's taking me so long to write it since some of the best books took years. The story has changed so much from what I first thought it would be, which isn't a bad thing. I did a major revision of my three-act plot outline this summer, and that really helped. I think, length-wise, the story is about two-thirds of the way to where I want to be. Maybe three-fourths at this point. 

Something really fun I've done with this book is listen to two different instrumental songs from a TV show and movie over and over again, thinking about how they sound and feel because there's two key moments where they run through my main character's head so I wanted those moments to feel authentic (since she really loves film scores). 

I've done a tone of revision these last few weeks, even though the book isn't even done yet, which is definitely weird. At times, I feel like workshop while the book is unfinished is beneficial because it helps me redirect the later scenes. At other times, I really hate it because this is only a first draft so the book isn't supposed to be seen by anyone but me yet. Like, I know it's not where it needs to be because I'm really just trying to get words down on the paper and figure out the story the characters are trying to tell me.

But hopefully I'll survive. I am very concerned about my sanity these next two weeks.

November 22, 2017

Review: The Chaos of Standing Still

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
Grade: D+
Release date: November 28, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Over the course of one chaotic night stranded at the Denver airport, Ryn confronts her shattered past thanks to the charm of romance, the uniqueness of strangers, and the magic of ordinary places in this stunning novel from the author of Boys of Summer.

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.

She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.

But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.

And his name is Xander.

When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.

Ryn can’t move on.

But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: There's nothing that makes me more frustrated than flashback-laden books and characters whose anxiety becomes caricaturish. Because Ryn's best friend is dead, every scene with Lottie is a flashback, and there are SO MANY flashbacks. Honestly, the best books with flashbacks use them sparingly. And then there's Ryn's anxiety, which seems to have mostly manifested itself since a) her parents' divorce, and b) Lottie's death. There were moments where it got out of hand and I didn't think Brody handled it well. Of course anxiety isn't neat and perfect, but nothing about Ryn felt authentic to me. 
As for Xander, I called the plot twist with him from the moment he appeared on page. It's nothing original, so if you're well-read in YA contemporary, you'll see it coming too. Also he pushed Ryn in ways that made me uncomfortable. It's one thing to encourage a friend to get outside their comfort zone; it's another when the person is a complete stranger you just met that day. 
I called pretty much every direction the plot went, and I was bored for most of the book.
There was an abundance of foul language and underage drinking.

The Verdict: Honestly, I don't think I click with Jessica Brody's books. This is definitely not one of her shining stars.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Nah.

November 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'm Thankful For

While I've loved a lot of books, there are some that I am more grateful for than others because of the impact they've had on my reading journey, my writing journey, or my life in general.

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Primarily The Start of Me and You and The Names They Gave Us.


3. This Side of Home by Renee Watson
For opening my eyes.

4. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

5. Heist Society trilogy by Ally Carter

6. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
One of the first MG/YA titles I read.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I read this famous trilogy at the beginning of my journey into YA, and I think, if I hadn't liked it as much, I wouldn't have explored YA to the extent I have today.

8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Opened me up to the possibility of enjoying sci-fi.


10. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
For encouraging me to write my own You've Got Mail retelling.

What books are you thankful for?

November 20, 2017

So You Like... #61

Time for another Disney Princess So You Like... post! This one is in honor of a certain movie coming out about a year ago. So you like...







What other books would you recommend for those who enjoyed Moana?

November 18, 2017

If I Had a Book Club

Inspired by an old Top Ten Tuesday topic, I'm going to share what my book club would read...if I had/lead one.

We'd read historical fiction with strong female protagonists. This would include the Scarlet trilogy, Wolf by Wolf, and The Girl from Everywhere.

We'd read YA romances with both fluff and serious momentsTo All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, and P.S. I Like You.

I'd suggest we spend a few months specifically reading diverse YA fiction, featuring titles like Piecing Me Together, This Side of Home, Written in the Stars, Under a Painted Sky, Starfish, and Saints and Misfits.

After that, we'd read fantasy with sweeping world-building: Leigh Bardugo's Grisha-verse books (the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, and The Language of Thorns), Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy, and Roshani Chokshi's The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes.

We'd also have to read some twisty mysteries, like The Naturals series and The Archived duology.

What would happen if you had a book club?

November 16, 2017

Books I'd Recommend to People Who Want to Read More Diversely

If I were a superhero, I'd be the Book Recommender. I'm going to live up to that title today by recommending ten books you should read if you're trying to read more diversely. This post will focus on POC authors, and most of their characters are POC as well.

For fantasy lovers, there's...

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

If you'd rather read something not quite fantasy (more like magical realism), then this is the book for you:

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Or perhaps you'd prefer to stay in our world but don't want contemporary stories...

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Or maybe you're like me and love contemporary...

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
This Side of Home by Renee Watson

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more diverse YA fiction for you to discover. I tried to focus on titles I don't normally see people talking about, but I also threw in a few staples (like Jenny Han and Renee Ahdieh). And if you have any diverse YA recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them!