August Monthly Recap

~*~On The Blog~*~
August has been absolutely crazy! I broke my 3 month streak of not seeing a Broadway show, I binged an entire 7 season show on television, I finished out my summer internship and got a new internship that I'll talk more about a little later, I got back into reading after being in a huge July slump, I moved out of an apartment I was staying in in NYC and felt all the sads, but I reunited with my cats and felt all the feels, I celebrated my Dad's birthday, saw my little sister off to college, made the tough decision to commute from home this semester, learned that I also start my thesis this upcoming semester, and also realized that in this entire eating healthier process I have managed to LOSE 10 POUNDS! As someone who has been very uncomfortable in her own skin for a while, I am really proud of the direction my life is going! Now, let's get down to business.

Books Reviewed:
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - 4.5 stars
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson - 4.5 stars
A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano - 4 stars
Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine - 4 stars
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle - 3 stars

Books Read This Month:
I have challenged myself to read 100 books this year, let's see if I can! I'll be keeping track in this section.
24. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (ARC: 470 pages)
25. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Hardcover: 374 pages)
26. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (Paperback: 341 pages)
27. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (ARC: 389 pages)
28. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (ARC: 293 pages)
29. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (ARC: 320 pages)
30. Play On by Michelle Smith (ARC: 258 pages)
31. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith (ARC: 246 pages)
32. Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (Paperback: 242 pages)
33. Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally (Paperback: 286 pages)
34. Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally (Paperback: 287 pages)
    DNF's of the month 
    1. None!
    Total Pages Read This Month: 3,506 pages
    Total Pages Read This Year: 11,368 pages
    Total Books Read This Year: 34
    Total Books DNF'd This Year: 1
    The Broadway Review:
    • No reviews this month, but I have one written to go up in September!
    Discussion Posts:

    ~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

    Broadway Shows:
    • I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Holy cow, guys. I have nothing to say but HOLY COW.
    TV:
    • Big Brother has continued on and I can't say I love it right now. The only people I am rooting for at this point are James and Johnny Mac. If Vanessa, Austin, or the twins win I will probably cry.
    • I binged all seven seasons of Parks and Recreation and fell in love with a brand new cast of characters that are basically my life now. I also got Danielle to binge the show too! Just trust me, you need this show in your life!

    ~*~Reading Challenges~*~

    Fairytale Retelling Challenge:
    3/10 completed
    • Fairest by Marissa Meyer
    • Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
    • Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
    Flights of Fantasy Challenge:
    14/25 completed
    • The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
    • The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
    • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
    • Fairest by Marissa Meyer
    • Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
    • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan 
    • Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine 
    • Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
    • Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
    • A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
    • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
    • Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
    • Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
    •  The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
    Contemporary Reading Challenge:
    14/11 completed: Challenge Complete in August
    • The Last Good Day of the Year by Jennifer Warman
    • Mistletoe and Mr. Right: Two Stories of Holiday Romance by Lyla Payne
    • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta 
    • The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
    • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
    • Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
    • Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
    • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
    • Play On by Michelle Smith
    • Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith 
    • Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
    • Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
    • Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally
    TBR Pile Challenge:
    8/5 completed: Challenge Complete in June
    • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
    • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta 
    • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
    • Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
    • Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta 
    • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
    • Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
    • Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
    Dive Into Diversity Challenge:
    5/6 completed
    • Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine
    • 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger 
    • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
    • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
    • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
    2015 Summer of Series:
    3/3 series completed: June, July, August
      • June: Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, Quintana of Charyn
      • July: Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, Into the Still Blue
      • August: Stealing Parker, Racing Savannah, Jesse's Girl
      Do you have a monthly recap or thoughts on anything I'm reading/reviewing/watching? Share your thoughts below! Every comment is greatly appreciated! <3

      Summer of Series: Jennifer L. Armentrout Interview & Giveaway!

      When Jennifer L. Armentrout agreed to be part of this event, I freaked out! I am so happy to have her as my final Summer of Series author!

      Stay With Me
      third in the Wait For You series
      Published September 23, 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
      Add to Goodreads
      At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

      But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

      Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.
      What has been your favorite part of writing the Wait For You series?
      I've enjoyed writing all of the characters who have their own books into the books of the other characters. It's fun to find ways to work them into various scenes as I continue to write the series.

      Did you always plan for this to be a series? How did it take shape in your mind? What inspired you to write this series?
      When I started writing Wait for You, I was just writing Cam and Avery's story. I was taking a shower when I came up with the original idea for the book. As the story progressed, I realized that I wanted to write more about the other characters. That's how it really evolved into a series.

      Can you share anything with us about your next project? 
      I'm currently writing The Power, the second book in The Titan Series. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that it's sexier than the first book in the series!

      What is the most interesting thing you have Google'd in the name of research?
      In the name of research, I googled homoerotic twin fixation. I can't even remember why I was googling it now because I got completely sidetracked. It really did have something to do with a book!

      What is one series you would recommend to readers?
      The Marked Men series by Jay Crownover. I love all the books in the series. Her guys are HOT!

      Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
      Thor __________________________________________________________________________________

      Giveaway!

      JLA is giving away one signed copy of STAY WITH ME to one winner!

      All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US 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 Sherry Thomas is closing out Summer of Series!

      Summer of Series: Melissa Landers Interview

      I will read anything Melissa writes, so I was super excited when she decided to join Summer of Series. But with the recent announcement that there will be a third ALIENATED book, I am beyond excited to show you her interview!

      Invaded
      second in the Alienated series
      Published February 3, 2015 by Disney Hyperion
      Add to Goodreads 
      The romantic sequel to Alienated takes long-distance relationships to a new level as Cara and Aelyx long for each other from opposite ends of the universe...until a threat to both their worlds reunites them.

      Cara always knew life on planet L’eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L’eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

      Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L’eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L’eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.

      Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L’eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx’s people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists’ multiple attempts on Aelyx’s life.

      The Way clearly needs humans’ help . . . but with what? And what will they ask for in return?
       
      What has been your favorite part of writing the Alienated series?
      It's a tie. My favorite scenes to write were Aelyx and Cara's first kiss, (where they try to one-up each other to prove whose method of expressing affection is best), and Aelyx and Cara's first...ahem...time, which you haven't read yet because I'm saving it for a potential third book. I'll tell you this much: the scene is poignant, funny, and sweet--just like the two of them.

      Did you always plan for this to be a series? How did it take shape in your mind?
      Yes, I always intended it to be a series. The direction of the story has changed dramatically since 2009, when I originally envisioned it, but I can't explain how without spoilers.

      What inspired you to write this series?
      In October of 2009, I was driving down the interstate thinking, “If I’m going to do this whole ‘NaNoWriMo’ thing, I need a plot. What am I going to write about?” Several ideas came to mind, but I dismissed them because they were boring or clichéd. Then out of nowhere, I thought, “What if a high school senior had to host an alien exchange student?” I fell in love with the concept, and the rest is history.

      Can you share anything with us about your next project?
      My 2016 release is a stand-alone sci-fi romance called STARFLIGHT, which I pitched to my editor as "Overboard" meets "Firefly." (You can read about it here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21793182-starflight). I'm currently working on a companion novel to Starflight, which is narrated by a pair of secondary characters from the first book. It also stands alone, and exists on the same spaceship with the same cast as the first. That way readers will get all the benefits of a series without the cliffhangers. :)

      What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
      I once had to research how much fertilizer is required to build a bomb, but I ended up cutting that scene. (By the way, the answer is A LOT.)

      What is one series you would recommend to readers?
      This is a tough question because everyone has different taste in books. But one series I love that doesn't get nearly enough attention is Jennifer McGowan's "Maids of Honor" series. It's about spy girls in Queen Elizabeth's court. They're romantic, suspenseful, and so fabulously written!

      Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
      Captain America. I love nice guys, and besides, have you seen him shirtless? Yowza!
      __________________________________________________________________________________

      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!

      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
      Add to Goodreads

      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
      __________________________________________________________________________________

      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. ;)

      Summer of Series: Heather Demetrios Interview

      I am so excited to have Heather Demetrios on the blog today!

      The Lexie Project
      second in the Something Real series
      Published June 8, 2015
      Add to Goodreads 
      Lexie Baker is ready for her close up and nobody’s gonna get in her freaking way.

      Nearly a year after graduating high school and taking a hiatus from her family’s reality TV show, "Baker's Dozen: Fresh Batch," Lexie is in Los Angeles, on a mission to take Hollywood by storm. From red carpet premiers to helping her YouTube star roommate film weird videos, Lex fits right in with the droves of girls just as hungry as she is for some screen time. When Jax Wilson, a young, hot producer, offers to launch The Lexie Project, a reality show that will chronicle Lex’s adventures trying to make it as an actress in LA, she jumps at the chance. It isn’t an Oscar-winning role, but it’s a start.

      Then she meets Liam, a film student who brings books to parties and is one of her twin brother’s closest friends. When it becomes clear that her brother, Benny, has a serious drinking problem—one that lands him on the front page of tabloids and threatens to get him kicked out of his university—Lexie relies on Liam to help her protect her brother. But spending time with Liam throws Lex into a spiral of self doubt: is this the life she really wants? And how far will she go for the stardom she’s always longed for?

      The City of Angels soon becomes Hell on Earth and Lexie realizes that everyone—even Liam—has something they’re hiding. Fed up with Hollywood, Lexie decides she needs to find a new role to play–not the one she was cast in at birth.

      The Lexie Project is a spin-off of the critically acclaimed novelized memoir, Something Real, by Heather Demetrios and features several of the major characters from the novel, including Chloe and Patrick.

      You can read on Wattpad (The Lexie Project) or on Lexie's Website (www.lexieproject.com)
       
      What has been your favorite part of writing The Lexie Project?
      I love not knowing what’s going to happen next. I’m writing by the seat of my pants and incorporating current events, allowing them to influence the direction of the story. I also have SO. Much. Fun. managing Lexie’s social media accounts. I post a new chapter every Wednesday and post social media stuff throughout each week, so it’s pretty intense.

      Did you always plan for Something Real to have a companion novel? How did it take shape in your mind?
      I always had the idea for Lexie, but it wasn’t until I discovered Wattpad and got the idea to tell the story through multiple social media platforms that I really got excited about it. This is how Lexie, a young reality star, would want to tell her story. It’s all about instant gratification and real time.
      What inspired you to write this series?

      I’ve always been disturbed by reality TV in general and seeing kids on the shows. Lexie, and her companion novel Something Real, are about what happens behind the scenes. We all know reality TV isn’t real – but how NOT real? And what does it do to the people on it?

      With book two for The Dark Caravan Cycle, Blood Passage, releasing in early March, can you tell us anything about it?
      It’s very different from Lexie! I’m really proud of it, I’ll say that. And it takes place in Morocco, which is pretty much one of the coolest countries you could ever go to. I was terrified to write the second book of the trilogy, but it worked out and my characters took me to lots of interesting and unexpected places.

      What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
      How to have sex with a prosthetic leg. I know! But I had to research it for I’ll Meet You There.

      What is one series you would recommend to readers?
      I love Stephanie Perkins’ Anna, Lola, Isla. You can’t go wrong. Those books are my comfort food and happy place.
      (Lili: I think they are everyone's happy place!)

      Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
      THOR. All the way Thor. Oh my god.
      __________________________________________________________________________________

      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!

      Summer of Series: K.B. Ritchie Interview & Giveaway!

      These girls were once some of my best blogging friends over at Nawanda Files and now they're a big deal in the NA world. It's so crazy! I'm so happy to have them on my blog today!

      Addicted to You
      first in the Addicted series
      Published May 22, 2014
      Add to Goodreads
      She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

      No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

      Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

      But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

      Their real vice may be each other.

      New Adult Romance recommended for readers 18+ for mature content.
       
      Describe the Addicted series in one Tweet. 140 characters or the Twitter gods are going to get you!
      Becca: Best friends, Lily and Loren, a sex addict and alcoholic pretend to be in a relationship to hide their addictions from their families #chaos

      Krista: 9 Books. 6 Friends. 3 Couples. 1 Epic Series. #getaddicted

      What has been your favorite part of writing The Addicted Series?
      Becca: Besides having people read our work and say it's inspired them and changed their lives in some way (this is crazy to think about) -- the best part is being able to write this epic saga of friends that become close like family. Developing these flawed characters who grow through 5+ years of heartache, pain, laugher, love, ups and downs -- it's been a dream for us.

      Krista: Becca definitely said it best! We've always loved writing ensemble casts and characters with tight family bonds, and to bring that to life in the Addicted series is a dream come true.

      Did you always plan for The Addicted Series to be a series? How did it take shape in your mind? In other words, what inspired it?
      Becca: We planned for it to be a 4 book series (with a shorter, in-between novel that was optional - so more like a trilogy). But as we finished Addicted to You, we realized that we could open up this world -- that it could be about more than just one couple. It became about these six people and how they affect and influence each other throughout time.

      Krista: Our inspirations really derive from movies and television. We're huge TV junkies and movie buffs. Growing up, we fell in love with the character-driven films and the indies that had a lot of emotional subtext. They impacted us in ways that's really hard to describe. I think we both felt connected to a greater world beyond our hometown whenever we watched them. And some of the best stories, arcs, and characters are in TV, which only fueled us to create some of our own through writing.

      The Addicted Series was so successful that it garnered a spin-off series called Calloway Sisters. What does this mean to you?

      Becca: the world! Seriously, it's a huge dream. We've always wanted to write, but having enough people support our writing in order to continue the series has been a blessing and an honor.

      Krista: It's hard to believe where the series is now to where it was two years ago in our heads. We never even imagined people could fall in love with it and support it like the way they do. Like Becca said, it really is a blessing and an honor.

      5What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?

      Becca: Oh, I've Googled so many weird things. Probably the weirdest one to date was my Google search for an animal that cannibalizes itself. I wanted one of our characters to compare his adversary to this animal, and I had to go through a lot of disgusting options before I landed on a good one. A rat-snake.

      Krista:
      Oh that's a good one, Becca! Fun fact: When we were writing Addicted to You, we were still in college so I was on campus internet (in our on-campus apartment) and I always freaked out that some student who works in IT could see my browsing history.

      What is one series you would recommend to readers?
      Becca: Harry Potter! I know, I know everyone has probably already read this, so I'll throw out a second rec :) I've recently started the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes and it's so entertaining. I haven't finished it yet, but every book has been as captivating as the first.

      Krista: That is so tough! I'm going to go with a lesser known series and say Article 5 series by Kristen Simmons. It has a great plot, but the best aspect is the heart of the characters. They're the kind you root for, especially in a dystopian world. Also, shout out to The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins! Obviously, I can't just pick one ;)

      Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!

      Becca: THOR *twirls my plastic hammer*

      Krista: I hate him in comic books, but if we're going with the movies...Captain America all the way!!! __________________________________________________________________________________

      Giveaway!

      This dynamic writing duo is offering up a signed paperback of their debut, ADDICTED TO YOU, to one lucky winner.

      All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US 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 Lindsay Smith is stopping by!