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Monday, May 2, 2016

Book Report: 3 to Read

I’ve been slacking on my book reviews. I do have a reason, though: I’ve been lazy.

(I said nothing about that reason being a particularly good one.)

But I want to be better, like those on-the-ball women who have kids and jobs and still manage to polish their nails before Instagramming pics of their coffee mugs.

So here’s what I’ve been reading—and you should be, too:

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear. 
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

I held off on reading The Accident Season for a while because I was a loser who judged the book by the cover, and the cover said horror (who knows where I got that idea) and I wasn’t in the mood. But I read a review that made me insta-buy this book.

It’s the mystery that first got me reading—why does the accident season happen? Can they ever overcome it? But Fowley-Doyle’s prose is what really sucked me in. It’s beautiful and atmospheric. There’s a bit of magic to the story, and it’s not always clear what’s real and what’s not. You won’t get all the answers, but for me that was okay. This book is meant to be experienced and the writing savored.

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help? 
It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son. 
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

I’ll admit I was drawn to this book out of hunger. But waffles! And then when I heard Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda comparisons, well, I was sold.

Like Simon, Tell Me Three Things has an email romance between the main character and a mystery admirer. I guessed the identity of the mystery guy (called Somebody Nobody), immediately, but that’s okay. The book is more about Jessie coming to terms with her new life, making friends—and, yes, guessing who Somebody Nobody is.

The romance is great, but what really makes the story is Jessie growing into her new life. That, and the great cast of characters—especially Jessie’s new step-brother and Somebody Nobody.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life. 
Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules. 
And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.

I’m such a sucker for Katie McGarry books. If they’re somewhat predictable—two characters with Big Issues fall in love and there are Major Complications—it’s in the best way possible. I know what I’m going to get, and it’s going to be good.

Here, we have a boy raised in a motocycle club just trying to get through each day and a girl whose family either ignores her or treats her as a surrogate mother for her many brothers and sisters. My heart broke for her, but it was Razor who really tugged my heartstrings. He tries so hard to be good, to do the right thing—man can McGarry write a bad boy who’s not really so bad.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Katie McGarry book without romance, and I was totally on board with this one. It’s at times sweet, at times steamy, and truly full of heart.

What have you read (and loved) recently?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Currently: On Fear

It’s official: I am addicted to sheet masks. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that wearing one makes my husband scream like a girl, douse me in holy water, and chant, “The power of Christ compels you!”

I mean, it mostly has nothing to do with that.

They make my skin all soft and glowy, like the “after” shots of an acne ad. I bought Tony Moly’s masks at Katy Upperman’s recommendation and was pretty sure she was having an exaggerating day, but it really did make me feel 76 percent prettier.

And then Alice sent me the loveliest birthday present, including my favorite lip balm and a gorgeous necklace that I can’t photograph right now because it’s last night and super dark in my house. It also included a couple sheet masks, one of which made me look like I’d just worked out—but in a good way. Like the way celebrities look after the gym.

I’m on a hot streak—back to back books I absolutely loved. Considering The Raven King and The Rose & the Dagger come out today, I’m 150 percent sure this will continue. Go me.

So I finally set aside time for Jessica Love’s In Real Life, which I read in one sitting and then immediately wished I’d gone slower to make it last longer. This book is all sorts of adorable. I’m a sucker for pen pals meeting in public, and on top of that In Real Life offers up some really great characters and a fun twist I’m not going to reveal. And the romance? Oh man. It’s Stephanie Perkins cute.

Next up for me was Elizabeth Briggs’ Future Shock, a YA sci-fi thriller with a group of (mostly) delinquents, a mysterious mission, and nonstop action. The goal: travel to the future and collect data on new tech—though things don’t go quite as planned. My favorite part of time travel novels is the moment everything clicks together and you can see how the past and future are entwined. Future Shock didn’t disappoint. I also loved the characters, especially Elena, who was supremely badass, and Adam. Nerdy, awkward, sweet-as-sugar Adam. If you liked Karen Akins’ Loop, you’ll like this.

Three cheers for the new season of Game of Thrones! I loved the first episode, but I want to go on record right now and say that if they kill off Tyrion I might send a herd of White Walkers to HBO studios.

This is the perfect song for my male POV in my current WIP. And not just because it’s called “Thief” and he’s a thief.


Am I ever not thinking about fear? I mean, I guess so. Like when I’m thinking about pizza. Or when I’m thinking about Matthew Daddario’s perfectly appropriate eye rolls as Alec Lightwood in Shadowhunters.

But aside from that, fear.

So naturally I’ve been all fearful while trying to write my current WIP. What if it’s not good enough? What if I don’t love it as much as Gray Wolf Island? How is it possible to write so slow?

Then the lovely Liz Parker (aka the personification of my sanity) reminded me that I wrote Gray Wolf Island super slow and whined about it the whole time. Okay, she’s to nice to say whined, but let’s get real: I whined.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because I was able to reread my blog posts from my Gray Wolf Island–drafting days and remember that, yes, I wrote that slowly. Also, I was all angsty about it. Basically everything I’m feeling right now, I was feeling back then.

It appears my writing process goes something like this:
  1. Think I’m going to write perfect words super fast.
  2. Realize the words don’t pour our perfect.
  3. Realize getting the prose right slows me down.
  4. Worry I write too slow.
  5. Believe I am a hack.
  6. Angst.
  7. More angst.
So, yeah, it’s my thing and I think I need to work through it so I don’t let fear mess with my head. And so I can actually write. I might do a post about this in the future if I can get it under control. In the meantime, send hard alcohol.

I have never anticipated anything as hard as I am anticipating The Raven King. But I bought mine autographed, and the last time I did that, my copy took a while to get to me.

In the meantime, I will not be thinking about Gansey or the thing Maggie Stiefvater promised to do to him.

Also, should any of you spoil the ending, I will be forced to send you links to the most disgusting health-related Google image searches I can find.

This is not a test. I have an actual book. ON ACTUAL GOODREADS.

I am not freaking out, per say. Just enjoying how immensely cool this is. Like the professional I am.


So, yeah, Gray Wolf Island is on Goodreads. You can add it to your to-read shelf if you’d like. Or you can add it to your authors-who-overuse-gifs list. It’s really up to you.

What’s new with you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Big News (Yes, That Big News)

So there I was, fumbling my phone. My hands were shaking—my whole body was shaking—and my fingers couldn’t find the right button or my brain couldn’t compute. There was something about an offer. And then I hung up.

I should back up. Give you the whole “once upon a time” story.

Once upon a time there was the girl on fire. When my phone rang that Thursday, I’d been burning for 24 hours straight, and I was in the sort of pain that settles into your mind. I was also on the furious side of angry that my EM wouldn’t leave me alone.

It was a bad day.

And then the phone rang. My agent, Sarah, said something about an editor and my mind exploded. My cheek bumped the FaceTime button and I was too out of my mind on excitement to know how to get back to the regular call.

And so, the hang-up.

I was shaking. Even when Sarah called back and kindly laughed at my half-crazed mumblings, I shook and shook and tried to take notes because it seemed like the smart thing to do.

They read like the ravings of a mad women, which I guess isn’t too far off the mark. Because, guys: Karen Greenberg, and editor with Knopf Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Random House)(!!!) loves my book.*

I’m just going to sit here and let that sink in some more. Because at this point, it’s still not real.

We’d gone on submission for my YA magical realism novel, Gray Wolf Island, in January. A little under two months doesn’t seem long, but what you may not realize is that submission time is like dog years. You have to multiply it by seven then add 1,000 and that’s how long it feels when you’re waiting to hear from editors.

Incidentally, that math holds true when considering the wait between selling a book and being able to tell the world about it. Oh how I wanted to tell you all.

I wanted to tell you that all of the insane time we put into our writing pays off.

I wanted to tell you that writing the next book is always a good idea.

I wanted to tell you that your friendship over the years has kept me going, even when it felt like I’d never, ever get here.

But I am here, still not sure how it’s possible that an editor loves my book as much as I do. I’m a weepy mess of excitement and gratitude.

I suppose that some time before fall 2017—when my book (!) is set to release (!)—I’ll be a fully functioning human again.

* But WHAT IS IT ABOUT!?! I’m just going to go ahead and steal the Publisher’s Weekly blurb for this. Gray Wolf Island is a magical realism story of “five teens looking for a legendary treasure on a mysterious island, only discover they must reveal their darkest secrets in order to succeed.” Goonies never say die.