Summer of Series: Sara Raasch Interview

I loved Sara's debut, so I am so excited to have her on the blog today!

Ice like Fire
second in the Snow Like Ashes series
Published October 14, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
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It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world. 
Describe the Snow Like Ashes trilogy in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you.
I can do you one better: five words! Badass soldier girl seeking freedom.

What has been your favorite part of writing Snow Like Ashes?
Meeting readers! Getting to share SLA with readers has been incredible, and it's by far my favorite part -- every fan has been so great!

Did you always plan for Snow Like Ashes to be a series? How did it take shape in your mind? What was your inspiration?
Yes! SLA has always been a trilogy. I started writing it when I was a preteen, and while a LOT of it has changed since then, the overall story arch and world has stayed mostly the same. The inspiration for SLA was that I wanted to write a book where winter was perceived as the good guys -- the Season Kingdoms unfolded from there!

I know you started writing this book when you were younger, so how has it changed from start to finish?
Haha, I kind of answered this above! But most of it has changed, or at least been tweaked a bit. The overall feel has stayed the same though, of a world based on Season Kingdoms and non-season kingdoms that cycle through the normal "rhythms" of nature, or Rhythms.

Book two, Ice Like Fire, (you seriously have the coolest titles!) comes out in October. Can you tell us anything about it? ;)
Thank you! Hmm...I can tell you that, while drafting/editing ILF, I started calling it "The Book Where Everyone Dies" because so many people end up, well, dying. *evil cackle*

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
At the moment, I'm working on a new project that involves different types of plants, so lots of my Google searches have been re: poisonous plants and those sorts of fun things.

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
Sharon Shinn's The Twelve Houses. It's an adult fantasy series, and AMAZING in terms of world building, story, characters, EVERYTHING.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
Iron Man! Sense of humor + brains? Yes please!
__________________________________________________________________________________

It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

Don't forget to check out Danielle's blog!

Top Ten Books That Would Be On My Syllabus If I Taught YA Fantasy 101

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

Okay, I admit it. I had way too much fun with this week's topic. *pushes glasses up my nose and clears throat* Now sit down, students, and prepare to be thrown a whole lot of fantastical awesomeness.

Magic, Magic, Magic

1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab- THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN MAGIC. You know, when it's done right...as in it has an origin story, it makes sense, it's not willy-nilly, rules, etc. But, oh gosh, magic is just so addicting. It's a guilty pleasure of mine.

Crazy Fantastical World-Building

2. Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore- Amazing world-building is a must in fantasy novels, but when they go above and beyond and create a world so vivid you almost thing it's real, than you know you've hit a jackpot series. Cashore's world is scary and mesmerizing and I have reread her books so many times because I simply cannot get enough of it. A world with holes means you don't have a solid novel on your hands because fantasy has to capture your attention and never let it go.

Incorporating Retellings and Re-imaginings

3. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- When working with fantasy, it's totally fine (and completely encouraged by me) to borrow from classic fairytales. I am a sucker for a good retelling, so I always get excited when I find a good one. And when you borrow just enough but weave your own crazy tale like, I don't know, Cinderella cyborg in futuristic China when we are about to engage in a war with people who live on the moon and a crazy army of wolf men. Yeah, that sounds compelling doesn't it?

Swoony Men 101

4. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas- Human, fae, royal, warrior, magical, non-magical...you name it and Sarah J. Maas can make that man hot. And what is better than swoony men in world's that don't technically exist? Answer: nothing, except maybe real swoony men in our world that don't exist, wahhh

Strong, Intelligent Heroines (in Historical Times)

5. His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers- All 3 of the leading ladies in this series are strong for different reasons, and I love that about them. Plus, it helps that I am obsessed with these love matches. SYBEAST 5EVER!

6. Something Strange and Deadly series by Susan Dennard- I love nothing more than a smart heroine that does not allow society's expectations of women to effect what she thinks of herself and how she behaves. No corsets for you, girl!

Strong, intelligent female heroines found in the above series allow us to love our characters so much more <3

Dragons (and Kickbutt Gender-Bending (A++))

7. Eon duology by Alison Goodman- THIS DUOLOGY! HOLY COW! Firstly, dragons. Yes. I will read any fantasy series with dragons. But aside from that, the gender-bending in this is superb! I think fantasy is one of the genres that can literally throw sexuality, gender, and anything else right out the window. We have so many different creatures with different ways to live their lives (like fairies for instance) that there are no typical "rules" to anything. The gender-bending in this novel is one of my favorite parts of it, except, you know, it also has dragons.

Proper Villains (& YA Crossover Appeal)

8. Vicious by V.E. Schwab- I think fantasy is one of the few genres that allows readers to really love a villain done right. In some cases, the villains can even be the heroes of the text. There is nothing better than a conflicted villain that is evil to the core, but also has some streaks of goodness in them. It's a fascinating dynamic that I loved in this novel. Plus, this is a great example of an adult book with YA crossover appeal that expands audiences exponentially. I'm obsessed with this cover!


Inseparable Friendships 

9. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan- I have reread this series countless times because Rick Riordan's a boss like that, but one thing that always stands out to me is the friendships Percy forges at Camp Half-Blood. There are certain friendships that will never end, and those are typically the ones forged through fantastical adventures. Every fantasy novel should have a great friendship dynamic!

Darkness Done Right

10. The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta- Darkness is so addicting to me. I love nothing more than a dark, gritty novel, and fantasy is the best genre to twist and turn and take readers down paths they've never been before. Darkness done right is so compelling...it can make you cry so hard while you flip the pages faster out of a need to know what happens next. This series ripped my heart out, stomped on it, put it back in, ripped it out again, etc. and I loved every minute of it. A good fantasy novel twists your heart around every now and then (in a respectful manner of course!).

The most important thing this post has taught us is that fantasy novels have the most gorgeous covers ever.


What do you think of my syllabus? I think it rocks! Please share your TTT topics below and comment with your thoughts <3

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Reading Level: Middle Grade (age 9 - 12)
Pages: 240 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2015
Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I adored this book! It's very John Green-esque in it's delivery in the sense that it has characters that are way too smart for their age and speak as if they were years older, but it works for this set-up because Pram and Clarence are both a little weird anyway. If Lauren DeStefano only wrote middle grade novels for the rest of her life, I would be totally satisfied.

This book is really dark for a middle grade, but I love darker novels so it's almost like it was written for me. The first page of this book is going to be very polarizing because it touches upon tough subjects that middle grade readers may not have encountered before. It'll cause them to ask questions and while some parents will welcome this others will not. So do keep that in mind. This tough subject is really only mentioned on the very first page and not brought up again, but it is integral to the plot and also the reasons why Pram can see ghosts so it cannot be ignored.

After the first page, it's very easy to love Pram and Felix. Pram is an adventurer at heart and naturally curious. Often eccentric because she can be found talking to herself when really she is talking to a ghost named Felix that nobody else can see, she's okay with it. But one day she makes a human friend in Clarence who has also lost a parent, and they set out to learn about them. Along the way they cross paths with the evil Lady Savant who sees more power in Pram than Pram is aware of. She makes the decision to lead Pram and Clarence on a crazy journey that would culminate in her stealing Pram's abilities. Oh, Lady Savant, I hate you so much.

Pram, Felix, Clarence...I love you guys too, too much.

To avoid spoiling too much of this awesome, crazy ghost adventure, I am going to skip to my thoughts about the ending. It was way too fast. The entire book is spent searching for something, learning about lost relatives, and preparing for this inevitable showdown with Lady Savant (even if they don't know it yet) and it went by so fast! I couldn't really tell you half of what happened because I would flip the page, a new paranormal scene would be over, I'd find myself going "wait, what?," and then flipping back to re-read it. That happened way too often at the end, and it's a huge bummer because DeStefano's exploration into ghosts and paranormal powers was really interesting and could have made the ending explode with a bang. Instead, it just left me scratching my head. A missed opportunity, for sure.

With that in mind, I really enjoyed this novel though. It was fun, dark, cute, and told powerful stories about friendships. The tale as a whole was satisfying, the ending just lacked the proper fleshing out that the first half of the tale received, but I can honestly say that Pram, Felix, and Clarence are characters worth remembering. If you're looking for a dark, fun, adventurous paranormal middle-grade that tackles tough subjects, this book is for you.

4 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation of any kind in exchange for an honest review.

Summer of Series: Heidi Schulz Interview & Giveaway

This MG series cannot be ignored, and because of that I am super excited to welcome Heidi to the blog today!

The Pirate Code
second in the Hook's Revenge series
To be published September 15, 2015 by Disney Hyperion
Add to Goodreads
Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father's famous fortune. After all, she'll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.)

But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she's convinced that the horrible Peter Pan might be the only one with the answers. Of course, he doesn't really feel like helping her, so Jocelyn takes the only reasonable course of action left to her: she kidnaps his mother. Evie, though, is absolutely thrilled to be taken prisoner, so Jocelyn's daring ploy doesn't have quite the effect she'd planned for.

Along with the problem of her all-too-willing captive, Jocelyn must also contend with Captain Krueger, whose general policy is that no deed is too dastardly when it comes to stealing Hook's treasure. And with the ever-shifting Whens of the Neverland working against her as well, Jocelyn, Evie, Roger, and the rest of the Hook's Revenge crew have their work cut out for them.

In this rambunctious showdown between characters new and old, Jocelyn puts her own brand of pirating to the test in a quest to save her future and those she loves.
 
What has been your favorite part of writing the Hook’s Revenge duology?
Sometimes writing feels like accessing magic. Like those moments in revision when I realize there is a purpose for some detail added previously, that at the time I thought was inconsequential, but then, I realize that object was supposed to be there all along.

For example, in Hook’s Revenge, Jocelyn writes a note to Roger torn from the page of his favorite book, 1001 Poisonous Jungle Plants and How to Use Them. The book itself was, at first, just a fun detail, but in revision, I realized it was important to both the plot—that particular page, and what else what written on it, comes up again near the end of the book—and to Roger’s character.

His love of horticulture comes into play even more in The Pirate Code, to near disastrous results. I love when little details grow into something significant like that. Aside from the actual writing though, my favorite thing is connecting with readers, especially at school visits. It’s such an honor to see that my books are being read and enjoyed by kids. I love that so much.

Did you always plan for this to be a series? How did it take shape in your mind? 
From the beginning I felt there should be at least two books. Even in the first draft of Hook’s Revenge, I found myself setting Captain Krueger up to be the villain in a possible sequel. I knew I wanted Jocelyn to go on a treasure hunt and have a Goonies-like* adventure in part of the second book, and I knew I wanted to further explore her friendship with Roger, but the real heart of the story didn’t take shape until I was finishing up book one. The nature of time on the Neverland, that people can come from as many different Whens as Wheres, came to me late in the development of Hook’s Revenge, but it plays a major part in the second book.

*I love The Goonies. I’m actually wearing a Never Say Die t-shirt at this very moment.

What inspired you to write this duology?
When my daughter was little she was obsessed with Peter Pan. He was both her imaginary friend and her alter ego. We spent many happy hours fighting pirates, escaping the crocodile, and being nearly drowned by cruel mermaids. I was a permanent resident of the Neverland for several years. One day, when she was six, I had the flu. I put on movies—Hook and the 2003 live-action Peter Pan—to occupy her while I slept on the couch. The movies must have been working on my subconscious, because when I awoke the first thing I thought was, “What if Captain Hook had a daughter?” I wrote Hook’s Revenge to answer that question.

With book two, The Pirate Code, releasing in mid-September, can you tell us anything about it?
The Pirate Code is about 20% longer than Hook’s Revenge. (Yes, I did have to Google to remind myself how to figure out percentages.) It’s a much bigger story, where readers will see a lot more of the Neverland and meet more of its denizens. Readers will get to see more of Jocelyn, Roger, Mr. Smee, and the rest of the crew of the Hook’s Revenge, that irritating Peter Pan and his Lost Boys. They’ll also get to know new characters, both familiar like Tiger Lily, and completely original, like Evie: Peter Pan’s newest mother, kidnapped and held for ransom (to Evie’s great delight) by Jocelyn. I think this book is every bit as funny as Hook’s Revenge, but more emotional. It made me cry every time I worked on it. And, It addresses two of the things readers have asked about most: It has more backstory about Captain Hook’s great romance with Jocelyn’s mother, and more about the narrator. In fact, careful readers should be able to figure out his identity.

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
I think that would have to be a three-way tie between facts about crocodiles, invisible inks and their reagents, and booby traps.

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
I’d recommend the All Four Stars series by Tara Dairman. Gladys Gatsby is a foodie kid who is mistakenly hired as a restaurant critic for the New York Times. She has to find ways of completing her assignments without anyone, including her parents, finding out what she is up to. It’s fun and funny and smart and stars a MG heroine who makes a lot of mistakes, but doesn’t stop going after what she wants.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
I don’t even have to think about it: Iron Man. Cleverness and wit always score big points with me. __________________________________________________________________________________

Giveaway!

Heidi is offering up one ARC of THE PIRATE CODE to one winner!

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

Don't forget to check out Danielle's blog where Jessie Evans is stopping by!

Summer of Series: Jessica Spotswood Interview & Giveaway

I have been friends with Jessica since book one, so I am so excited to have her on the blog today!

Sisters' Fate
third in the Cahill Witch Chronicles series
Published August 14, 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
Add to Goodreads
A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.
What has been your favorite part of writing The Cahill Witch Chronicles?
Hearing from readers! It's incredible that these characters who were born in my head have made readers all around the world laugh and swoon and cry and throw the book across the room because readers feel so invested in them. It's been such a privilege to share Cate and her sisters and Finn with everyone.

Did you always plan for this to be a series? How did it take shape in your​ ​mind?
I always planned for it to be a trilogy, but there were a lot of surprises along the way! My first drafts of BORN WICKED​ didn't include the prophecy that one sister would kill another. Brenna was originally the only oracle in the series. I toyed with the idea that perhaps memories, once erased, could somehow be re-instated, but that felt too much like a cheat. I believe very firmly that any magic system has to have consequences. ​STAR CURSED​ was definitely the most difficult book to write, developing the world and the magical system beyond what Cate and her sisters learned growing up. Second books are tricky because they have to be more everything - higher stakes, more fast-paced, more romantic, everything - and contain their own stor​ies​ as well as being a bridge between books one and three. I knew how I wanted STAR CURSED to end​,​ but figuring out how to get there was very difficult; I completely rewrote that book. But by the time I got to S​ISTERS' FATE​, the stakes were already so high in the relationships between Cate and Maura and Cate and Finn, and the tension were at the breaking point in the city and in the convent - it was fun to get to ignite all of that.

What inspired you to write The Cahill Witch Chronicles?
My inspiration for the magical aspect was a dream I had in which my sisters and I (like Cate, I'm the oldest of three) were fighting over a magical locket. The idea of writing about sisters with a powerful magical inheritance, exploring that​ ​​complicated mix of love and sibling rivalry, really stuck with me. My inspiration for the alternate history was wanting to create a society - worse than today's or even the real 1890s - in which powerful, clever, independent women were feared and scorned and very much in danger.

Can you tell us about your next project since your debut series is completed?
I just finished editing an anthology, PETTICOATS & PISTOLS, which will be out next April! It's historical YA - fifteen short stories about American girls throughout history, from pirates to protestors and belles to bank robbers. My authors are amazing: J. Anderson Coats, Andrea Cremer, Y.S. Lee, Katherine Longshore, Marie Lu, Kekla Magoon, Marissa Meyer, Saundra Mitchell, Beth Revis, Caroline Richmond, Lindsay Smith, Robin Talley, Leslye Walton, and Elizabeth Wein...

And I just finished writing my first contemporary YA, WILD SWANS, which will also be out next April! It's about a girl dealing with her mother - who abandoned her when she was two - coming back home with the two half-sisters she's never met.

I can't wait to share more about both projects - including covers! - soon.
(Lili: You know how desperate I am to read both of these!)

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
The love interest in WILD SWANS is a tattooed poet, so I've been reading lots of poetry lately to try to figure out which snippets of which poems would be meaningful enough for Connor to tattoo them on his body...and then I've been Googling hot tattooed guys to figure out the placement of his seven tattoos. It's a sacrifice for my art, obviously. :)
(Lili: *swoon*)

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
O​nly o​ne?! This is so difficult. I think my favorite current series is Marie Rutkowski's Winners series (THE WINNER'S CURSE, THE WINNER'S CRIME, THE WINNER'S KISS). The fantastic worldbulding and the impossible romance and the incredibly clever heroine are all wonderful.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
Iron Man! I always go for the snarky, clever guys. Then I'd say Black Widow, Cap, Hulk, Hawkeye, Thor. Thor really just does not do it for me. (Can you tell I've devoted a lot of thought to this? I just finally saw AGE OF ULTRON recently.) __________________________________________________________________________________

Giveaway!

Jessica is amazing and is offering up a copy of book 1 or 2 to one winner!

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US and Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
__________________________________________________________________________________

It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

Don't forget to check out Danielle's blog where Fran Wilde is stopping by!

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2015
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I read this book a few weeks before I initially planned to because my book club decided it would be our end of August read. I am so beyond happy that we chose this book! It is everything, everything I wanted it to be and more.

Madeline is sick. And when I saw sick, I mean really sick. She can't step outside because she's basically allergic to the world. She lives at home with her mother, attends architecture school online via Skype, and only has human contact with her nurse, Carla, when her mother isn't around. She loves to read and writes one sentence spoiler reviews which makes her a girl after my own heart that would totally rock at Twitter. She finds comfort in repetition: always eating French food for dinner on Fridays, playing her mother in the same board games every night, making all the furniture in her bedroom and most of her clothing white. Repetition is safe. But then a new family moves in next door and she realizes that comfort isn't always the best.

Olly and his family are much different than Madeline's. They are loud, complicated, different, and not at all comfortable. Olly is a kind character (total book boyfriend material) that is naturally curious. He is into parkour (and has a decent body because of it), only dresses in black, recognizes that his mother's Bundt cakes are nearly indestructible, and finds beauty in not using proper grammar. His sister, Kara, smokes cigarettes and buries the butts in her mother's garden every morning. Her mother always uproots the cigarettes while sighing dramatically. And his father is a drunk that screams a lot and sometimes decides that physical measures have to be taken. His family is complicated, and I like how the book touches upon such subjects to educate certain readers.

But back to Olly. He is naturally fascinated by the beautiful interracial girl next door (points for diversity!) that refuses to come outside to see him and instead stares at him through her window. When he manages to exchange e-mail addresses with her by writing on his window, he doesn't realize that he's about to change her life. Madeline has never cared for anyone despite her mother and her nurse, and has never had any contact with anyone but them and her tutors, so she quickly realizes that a risk would disrupt her comfortable lifestyle, but it may be worth it. And all too soon does she learn that Olly is the type of boy that she (and readers) will fall in love with, and that it would undoubtedly be a disaster.

Due to Madeline's unique upbringing, we are given a really interesting voice. Her voice is simple, supremely sweet, and young in a good way. She's never been exposed to the outside world and complex relationships, so she spends a lot of time communicating via pictures, doodles, one sentence spoiler book reviews, and haikus. She has big dreams about the world and often tells us about them in metaphors and boils even the most complex emotions down to simple means that can appeal to readers both young and old. While young voices in complex plot-lines don't always mesh well, I have to say Yoon managed this one perfectly.

This book takes us on adventures, which is surprising given the fact that our main character has never seen the outside world. But it's amazing what love and confidence can inspire a person to do. I wouldn't change a thing about the plot, but I would change the pacing. The book was great, all the way up until the end. Let's just say there's a truth bomb detonated that is ridiculous and it alters the entire flow of the story. A big deal, you know? Well, the consequences of said bomb are wrapped up ridiculously fast in a rushed fashion that caused me to lack the connection to the story that I felt for the first 95% of the novel. I liked how the author chose to end it and the complicated path our characters took to get there, but I didn't really get to enjoy the end of the story because of the pacing. But that's really my only complaint.

I recommend this book to readers looking for a simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming read with a diverse cast of characters that makes the best out of the worst situations and can leave you laughing and begging for more. Yoon has done the unthinkable by taking a character that has a one in a billion disease and finding ways for readers to relate to her. With a romance to root for, ridiculous character growth, and an all-around light aura despite touching upon some heavy subjects, I think any reader could find themselves enjoying this one.

 4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~


FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for this honest review.

The Intern Diaries: Goodbye Oxford

This is a post series for me to share my thoughts about interning, but also to share what I have learned in office with all of you!

~*~*~

It's kind of crazy to me that Thursday was my last day at Oxford because it feels like only yesterday was my last day at Bloomsbury. Time flies way too fast, and I was very sad to leave.

And that's not only because I had the most awesome office ever:

A photo posted by Lili (@lilifeinberg) on

Yeah, it was kind of the coolest thing ever to walk into a room where I was surrounded by books everyday.

But, on top of that, this experience was so amazing for me. As book people, we all have a passion for words because words can be strung together beautifully to create mind-blowing stories. And being able to spend 10 weeks exploring old words, new words, potential future words, and the surprising history of questionable words (I am talking about you, twerk), made me love them even more.

I live my life by a quote from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: "I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."

One thing I've learned at this internship is that words are...crazy to say the least. For every uplifting word out there, there's a weird word like gerrymander with strange origins, or unstranslatable words that describe you perfectly but don't yet fit into our language (thanks Japan for giving me tsundoku because this is literally the story of my life), or words with meanings that have evolved to almost mean the opposite of what they used to mean, like literally, there are bad words meant to hurt people, too. It's kind of scary just how long and creative the list of racial slurs is. But I suppose this is part of language evolving, and simply part of life. The language I'm speaking now is not going to be the same language I speak in a decade. The language of book lovers is like gibberish to computer programmers, just as sailors don't understand the language of fan-fiction and soccer fans may be stumped by gardeners. It's kind of crazy how different community's and spheres create their own tongues, you know?

At Oxford, I had the pleasure of seeing a ton of words added to the dictionary, a few words that will be added in the near future, and even more words that are currently being researched for potential additions. And I'm really proud of my work there. To see words for different sexuality's enter the dictionary is amazing, to see uplifting terms that counter racism is moving, to see words that promote equality and positivity instill pride in me, and to see new words that are just plain cool and interesting is pretty rad, too. It balances out the fact that words can be pretty terrible at times, and reminds me that though words are damn powerful, they're often used for the better.

I loved this internship, and one day I very much hope to walk Oxford's halls again. Not even gonna lie, the wallpaper is pretty fascinating. ;)