Monday, December 10, 2018

Shannon Messenger on Tour

Hey--look! It's me! And Shannon Messenger!

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that Shannon Messenger is my favorite author before. If not--now you know. And my wonderful mother took me to see her on tour for her new novel, Flashback, this year.

Via Giphy

We got to the bookstore area a little early, so my friend (who my mom had so graciously let me bring along) and I waited inside a coffee shop that looked like Pinterest had come to life. I didn't take any pictures (no clue why *facepalm*) but it was probably the most aesthetic place I've ever been to.

Shannon Messenger's presentation was super fun to listen to, although if you're not in the fandom, you'll probably have no idea what I'm talking about. :P

It turns out that Fitz was originally 97 years old, because when she first started writing about elves, she wanted to have their entire lives stretched out. So, while Fitz was going to be 97, he would still play the part of a teenage boy.

Not only that--but Fitz wasn't even created for Keeper of the Lost Cities. Shannon had originally written him into a scene from another book she was writing, and when she had writers block, she decided to explore her side characters more in-depth. And then the short story she'd written to explore Fitz's character became the short story that inspires Keeper of the Lost Cities.

And unfortunately for us, Shannon emphasized that while she still doesn't know who Sophie is going to end up with--she does have her theories. She explained that she thinks of it like she controls the plot, but not the characters' emotions, so she tries not to pre-plan the way the characters feel about things.

Contrary to popular belief, Shannon does not end her books of cliff-hangers because she likes to torture her readers. She does it because she doesn't want her readers to lose interest in the series. She explained that when she was a kid, she would stop reading a series because a book would end on a sportive note, and she didn't want to have to watch everything fall apart again, and she didn't want that to happen with her books.

Shannon also admitted that she actually hates love triangles.

Via Giphy

She elaborated that although there is a Team Keefe and a Team Fitz, she doesn't *really* consider Sophie's whole square-triangle-fan-club thing to be a *true* love triangle. The way she defines a love triangle is when the girl knows that both boys are legitimate options, and she spends an entire book running around in circles saying "I don't know who I love!" Sophie is oblivious to it all.

Interestingly enough, Dex happened to be a white-blonde, not a strawberry blonde in a majority of the drafts of Keeper. Shannon revealed that her editor had her change his hair color because it looked too similar to Sophie's on the cover of the first book. Apparently there is a middle-grade genre called sibling adventure, and her editor didn't want Keeper falsely put under that category because Sophie and Dex's hair colors made them look like siblings.

And while Keeper went through twenty drafts, a small mistake still managed to slip into the final draft--the fact that Shannon accidentally gave Stina's family two last names. (Those two last names being Logner and Heks.) Apparently, while Shannon was writing book two, she got to a scene with Stina, where she needed her last name, and she couldn't recall her last name. She looked back to her notes, where she had written down that Stina's last name was Whethers, but that she didn't like that name, and left a note for herself that she had to come up with something else.

So, she assumed that Stina was never given a last name, and asked her editor if she could fit it in the manuscript of Keeper, before it went to the printer. Logner was put in the first book, and Shannon didn't realize she'd given her two last names until her editor gave her notes on book two, asking why she was calling them Logner when their last name was Heks.

And, most excitingly of all (for me at least) Shannon revealed that there will be a Keeper of the Lost Cities short story book, where she will explore all of the things she's briefly touched on, but not given us a full explanation of, like the Great Gulon Incident, which will be told from Keefe's POV.

Via Giphy

Keefe is definitely my favorite character. :P

What about you? Have you read any of Shannon Messenger's books? (If you haven't, you definitely should.) And if you have--who's your favorite character?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Life-y Things

No--there is no MMGM review today--sorry!

I've been rather swamped with schoolwork and Thanksgiving festivities, so I haven't had much of a chance to read any new middle grade books for a review.

The only book that I finished in the past two weeks was called #murdertrending, by Gretchen McNeil. And while I have reviewed YA books for MMGM before--I figured this one *might* not be passable for middle grade readers.

via Giphy 

First of all, two weeks ago, I attended the Aaron's Books Kid Lit festival, where I got to attend some author panels, and a class led by author Shawn Smucker on world-building. One of his tips on describing a setting was to look at things through a one-inch picture frame. For example, instead of saying that a room is messy, describe the things that make the room messy.

Also--I broke my record for most words written in a day with a total of almost five-thousand words. For being a slow writer--I did fairly well.

via Giphy

Thirdly--this was my first time Black Friday shopping--ever.

And guess where I went.

Barnes and Noble.

(You probably aren't the least bit surprised.)

Seriously guys--even if you're not a huge shopper (I know I'm not) I highly recommend checking out Barnes and Noble next year. All top books of 2018 were 50% off, and they had a *huge* collection of signed editions.

A few that I'm most excited to read are The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken, and The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.

There will definitely be reviews of all of the middle grade books once I finish them.

 My apologies for the short blog post. As I mentioned, I've been busy. (And this Monday, I'll be doing some super-cool writerly things that I'll be sure to post about.)

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday break!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sunshine Blogger Tag x2

About a month ago, Nicole Dust at Legend of a Writer tagged me for the Sunshine Blogger Tag, and just this past week, Ann at Ann's Space tagged me, too. I'll be answering both sets of questions--so brace yourselves for a massive me-based info dump. :P

Here are the rules:

-Thank and link the blogger who tagged you
-Answer the 11 questions asked
-Nominate 11 other bloggers
-Ask 11 new questions

I'll be doing Nicole's questions first:

What is your favorite quote, and why?

Gah--this is a hard one! But if I had to pick one quote, it would be "She believed she could so she did." My first writing mentor gave me a bracelet with the quote engraved on it, because she said it reminded her of me, so whenever I'm in need of a little motivation/inspiration boost--it's the first quote that comes to mind.

What's your dream career?

My dream career would be to become a children's author. (In case you didn't see my header, "Scribbles of an Aspiring Author.")

How do you want to change the world?

I can say with absolute certainty that one of the things that has made the biggest impact on how I live my life, is the literature that I've read. I would love to look back at my life someday, and (after I've hopefully been published) know that I made a difference in a child's life with my book. Being able to reduce my carbon footprint on the Earth is also something I'm striving for.

What song do you really relate to, and why?

Most of the songs that I like to listen to are fast-paced, and usually from some movie soundtrack that narrates a ton of super cool action-y scenes. I however, can barely survive PE class, so, it's safe to say I don't relate to many of my playlists. :P

That being said, if I had to pick one song I can relate to, it would be "Best Day of My Life," by American Authors.

What is one of your biggest pet peeves?

This might be kind of a weird one--but I absolutely cannot stand when someone doesn't close doors the whole way.

How do you want your life to change, or are you fine with where you are right now?

I'm pretty content with where I am now--but I'd obviously like to be published at some point in the future.

Being able to understand Biology would also be pretty nice, too. :P

What was the moment that made you decide to write?

Honestly? I'm not really sure. I've found stories scribbled in journals of mine dating back to when I was seven or eight years old. However, the first time I ever wrote a book with the intend of publishing it one day, was in the fifth grade. Needless to say--it was pretty bad, and it will never be seeing the light of day.

What is the biggest dream you have in life?

Definitely to be a published author.

How do you react to stressful situations?

Usually with a lot of panicking--and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Being able to shape-shift--that way, I could finally know what it would be like to be a dragon.

Do you have any big goals for 2018/2019, and what are they?

This year, I'm looking to finish the third draft of my WIP. I was trying to write it for NaNo this year--but life got in the way (in a good way!) and I'm falling *way* behind on my word-count. I'm still going to try and write as much as I can this November--but I've pretty much given up on finishing it this month. :P

And now onto Ann's questions:

Are you a vegetarian?

No--I like sushi too much to commit to that. :P

Do you keep a diary?

I do, actually. I've been keeping one for about a year now, and it's fun to look back at the things that seemed big and scary to me a year ago, that I have since survived (obviously).

Kebab or burger

Probably a kebab. Don't get me wrong--I love burgers--but kebabs are just more fun to make, in my opinion.

Are you a Night Owl or an Early Bird?

I generally fall into the Night Owl category, as I have a tendency to stay up late on weekends and binge Netflix--or a book. However, I've been trying to get up earlier lately, because I've found that writing comes easiest to me first thing in the morning.

Where did you meet your best friend?

In my second grade teacher's classroom, after she moved our seats next to each other. Poor her--she had to deal with our shenanigans all marking period. ;)

Describe your best friend in three words. 

1. Loyal
2. Brave
3. Funny

What was the last movie you watched?

A friend and I just re-watched Sixteen Candles on Friday night.

How many times have you been abroad, and what countries have you visited?

I've been abroad six times now. I've visited Denmark, Italy, Dubai, Uganda, and I've been to Costa Rico twice. (Although one of those times, I was too young to remember, so I don't really count it.)

What do you think about learning dead languages?

I think that it's really cool of you're able to learn a dead language--but I don't see myself ever learning one.

Facebook, Messenger, or Instagram?

Instagram, as it's the only social media that I have out of the above three listed. :P

Do you have a favorite actor or actress?

Yes--my favorite actress is Emma Watson, and my favorite actor is a tie between Chris Colfer and Benedict Cumberbatch.

And now for *my* questions:

-What is your favorite memory, and why?
-What book changed your life the most?
-Who inspires you?
-What would you say your spirit animal is, and why?
-Do you have a nervous habit--and if so, what is it?
-What book character do you relate to most?
-If you could meet one person--alive, or dead--who would it be?
-When it comes to writing, are you a plotter or a pantser?
-What is your favorite color?
-Do you have any strategies to help you overcome Writer's Block?
-Are you an extrovert, or an introvert?

And as for tagging, um . . . most of the bloggers who I keep up with have already done this tag--so I guess that if you want to do this tag--go ahead--steal it! Consider yourself tagged.

So--have you done this tag already? If so, was there a favorite question that you answered?

Monday, October 29, 2018

MMGM--Catwoman: Soulstealer

When I learned that today was National Cat Day, I decided that posting a review of Catwoman: Soulstealer would be very appropriate. (Because I'm festive like that. :P)

Image result for catwoman soulstealer

Selina Kyle is a thief. Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman away on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking. 

Luke Fox is a hero. Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever--and she may be Batwing's undoing. 

In Gotham City, not everyone is what they seem. Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night, and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that's closest to her heart?

Okay. I tried to draft this review so many times that it's not even funny. I just felt like I couldn't get it right, because every time I would try to write it, I would always circle back to saying, "I liked how Sarah J Maas' take on this character was . . ." and so on and so forth.

But the truth is--I don't know how her spin on the characters differ from that of the comic books or the movies, because I have never seen a DC movie, or read a DC comic. Ever.

I know--shame on me.

So, if this review sounds a bit choppier than usual, my lack of culturing is to blame. (That, and the fact that I've been swamped with schoolwork, so my margin of blogging time has shrunken considerably.)

This story is told in duel point of view, with a majority of the novel being told from Selina Kyle's perspective, and a lesser portion being told from Luke Fox's perspective. I loved this, because it gave me insight into both the hero's mind, and the villain's.

And honestly, it was very refreshing to hear a story from the villain's side for once. I never actually thought that I would root for the bad guy, and it was a rather refreshing change. It also gave me a good reminder that the villains are people too.

For instance--in this rendition of Gotham City, Selina Kyle is just an orphaned girl, trying to get food on the table for her very ill little sister. She only begins her transformation into Gotham's newest criminal when she's given an offer she can't refuse--a better life for her sister, Maggie. She takes the offer, and a few years later, she's back and better than ever. A wealthy philanthropist by day, and a skilled thief by night.

But, not everything goes according to plan, and one night, she's caught by Poison Ivy, who was attempting to make the same steal as Selina. After a little negotiation, Selina agrees to team up with Ivy--on one condition--Harley Quinn makes their duo a trio.

I have to admit, the story was very slowly paced in the beginning, up until the point where Selina meets Harley and Ivy. After that, I could barely put the book down.

Once again, I don't know how these characters differ from the book to the movie or comics, but I really liked Sarah J. Maas' version of Poison Ivy. In the book, her powers are the result of a college experiment gone haywire--but Ivy doesn't let that faze her too much. A science prodigy--she never really fit in at college anyway.

Now, she uses her powers to help a cause she was already passionate about--saving the environment. And I gotta say, Ivy made some pretty compelling cases. One of the only downsides is that for the past few years, her only friends--besides Harley Quinn--have been green and leafy.

Harley is a bit of a loose cannon. She not very stable, and her mood swings can sometimes involve detonating cars. But in spite of that, she's still very loyal to Ivy and Selina--as long as they respect her, she'll do them the same honor. Although, as a skilled ballistics expert and the long-time sidekick to the Joker, somebody would have to have a death wish to cross Harley.

On the flip side of Gotham, is Luke Fox, aka, Batwing. As an retired marine, Luke's main purpose throughout life has been to help people, and with Batman out of the city, it's his job to keep Gotham safe. To his chagrin, Selina, Ivy, and Harley's trio of terror is making that a considerably difficult feat to accomplish. 

While the middle of the story was amazing and full of action-packed goodness, the beginning was a little slow, and I wasn't a huge fan of the conclusion.

That being said, this is still an entertaining story, and I give it 3.75/5 stars.

You can find Sarah J. Maas' website HERE, and you can read a free excerpt of Catwoman: Soulstealer HERE

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 15, 2018

MMGM--Tell Me Three Things

Image result for tell me three things
Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum

Jessie has just started her junior year at an ultra-intimidating LA prep school where she knows no one except her new stepmonster's pretentious teenage son. Just when she's thinking of hightailing it back to Chicago--to her friends who understand she's still grieving the death of her mother--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.

In a leap of faith--or an act of complete desperation, Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline a closest ally. Jessie can't help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

I read this book for the first time over the Summer--almost four months ago--so it's a bit of an understatement to say that my review is looong overdue. (I was planning to review a different middle grade book today, but #lifehappened and I didn't get to finish it in time.)

One of my favorite aspects of Tell Me Three Things was the large cast of side characters. Scarlet, Jessie's home-town best friend is snarky, and supportive and everything I would want in friend. Plus, she uses correct capitalization and punctuation in text messages.

And, there are plenty of new friends at Jessie's new school, too. Ethan, Dri, Liam, Caleb, Theo, and Agnes are all terrific additions to the story. I won't go in too deeply with any of them though, in lieu of giving any spoilers. (Also, I think if I started, gushing about them, I wouldn't be able to stop. :P) So, I'll just say that Julie Buxbaum gave each character his or her own, unique voice in the story.

While I wasn't completely sure I liked the main character, Jessie, at first, she quickly managed to win me over with her love of books and major awkwardness--something I can very much relate to. She also openly talks about why she likes writing so much better than speaking, because with writing, she has time to flesh out a conversation in her head before replying, something I tend to agree with myself.

There was also a lot of character development done on Jessie's part throughout the novel, and I had an awesome time watching her grow. Sort of tying in with the character development, Jessie was such a believable, realistic character. So often in romance book, the main characters are these perfect girls who have, what seems like, an entire fan-club of boys chasing after them. It a welcome change for me to read about a dorky, sarcastic girl who had priorities bigger than finding a boyfriend.

One aspect that many books leave out is food. But one of the things Jessie misses most about her home is the Chicago-style pizza, and the slushy combination she spent an entire summer perfecting. Another little tidbit that isn't super relevant to the plot, but that I adore, is that Jessie's favorite word is waffle, because it's a delicious food, and a synonym for writing.

And while Jessie wasn't an automatic like for me, Somebody/Nobody definitely was. While I am by no means an expert on all things plot-related, I thought that the idea of a stranger emailing her--while albeit a little creepy (which SN admits in the first email)--was something very original.

My only complaint is that it was kind of predictable who SN was. Julie Buxbaum did a good job of including a few different boys and possibilities for SN, but it was pretty clear who it would be in the end--for me, anyhow.

Fair warning--I will say that this book is on the older side of the scale, in terms of reader age. Barnes and Noble gave it an age rating of 12-17, so as long as you're above that age, you should be good. (There are a few mentions of some rather controversial topics.)

This book is perfect for anyone who likes complex character arks, fresh plot ideas, as well as the inclusion of food. (!!!)

You can read an excerpt of Tell Me Three Things HERE and you can find Julie Buxbaum's website HERE

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 5, 2018

#CoverLove Tag

So, a few days back, I saw this tag on Julian's blog and decided it would be a fun way to procrastinate doing homework tag to participate in. So now I'm doing it. Yay!

(Also--please forgive my poor attempts at taking aesthetic-y book pictures. :P) 

The Rules

-Thank the blogger who tagged you and link back to their blog
-Create seven new #CoverLove Tag questions or just use mine
-Answer the seven questions your nominator gave you
-Nominate seven other bloggers and let them know they've been tagged

Favorite cover on an old book

It's kind of hard to tell which book this is, as it doesn't have the title of the cover--it's a collection of fairytales, written by Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. I adore the color, and the simplistic flower design.
(And the fact that I'm one-fourth Danish makes it even better.)

Favorite cover on a new book

Mythical neon peacocks. Do I need to say more?

The cover of a book you're currently borrowing

Image result for lord of the flies

Hmm . . . I'm not actually borrowing any books at the moment, but the last library book I checked out was Lord of the Flies, because I needed it for a school project. (And I'm just using a picture off of Google, because I have long since returned it.)

A blue cover

This book gave me *all* the feels.

A cover with an animal on it

Who doesn't love a sparkly alicorn?

A cover that made you look twice at it the first time you saw it

It took me about a day to realize she was running across a face, and that her shadow was a tear. (Because I am super oblivious.) 
I picked this book up this past week, so I haven't had time to read it yet. :(

A cover you thought was amazing at first, but now you don't find so amazing

It's not so much the cover as the story. I had high hopes for this book--and the one quarter of the story I made it through was pretty good. The pacing was just *super* slow.

New Questions

A cover with your OTP on it
A pink cover
A cover of an autographed book--or one you would like to get autographed
A cover of a picture book
A cover of book you were given as a gift
A cover of a book that gives you nostalgia
A cover of a book that you read in one sitting

As for tagging . . . I think I'll tag:

and Elanor at Whimsical Writing

And anyone else who loves books and wants to participate. :)

Monday, October 1, 2018

MMGM--Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Image result for always and forever lara jean
Always and Forever, Lara Jean, by Jenny Han

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

And there's still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend, Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad's wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she'll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn't be more perfect!

At least, that's what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news. 

New the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans--but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

The stunning conclusion to my Jenny Han Book Review Marathon is here! Once again, I will give the warning that there are *slight* spoilers for the previous two books included in my review. So, read at your own risk!

With Lara Jean's senior year of high school coming to a close, the gang is preparing to run to opposite corners of the world--Chris jetting away to South America, Lucas to New York City, and Lara Jean and Peter set to start their freshman year of UVA together.

But not everything goes to plan.

After Lara Jean is rejected from UVA, she's sent into a tailspin. UVA had been her dream school since she was a child. She has no backup school. And there would be no Peter.

Lara Jean isn't the only one going through growing pains. Lara Jean's little sister, Kitty, is determined to find her father his dream woman.

And Lara Jean's dad isn't the only one with budding relationship in the Covey household. Margot returns from Scotland with a new boyfriend, Ravi. And I admit, I *really* liked Josh, and I *really* didn't want to like Margot's new boyfriend. But that was a battle I lost almost immediately. Ravi has an English accent, is insanely polite, is a full-blooded Hufflepuff and is almost *impossible* not to like.

Margot and Ravi seem made for each other, and while Lara Jean used to think the same thing about her and Peter, she's beginning to have second thoughts. After they are sent to different schools, and forced into what could be a one-to-four-year long-term relationship, she begins to wonder if she should listen to her mother's advice.

Never go to college with a boyfriend. 

One of my only complaints is that there was practically no Josh in the book. I'm aware that he isn't really a huge influence to the plot anymore, but he was hardly even mentioned. And I love Josh! :(

There was also a lot of college decision making, and event planning on Lara Jean's part, and while it was necessary to the plot--it wasn't the most interesting to read about. This book--while amazing--definitely was the slowest paced out of the three. This might not bother some people, but I am *insanely* picky when it comes to the pacing of a story.

You can read a free excerpt of Always and Forever, Lara JeanHERE and you can find Jenny Han's website HERE

Happy Reading!

Shannon Messenger on Tour

Hey--look! It's me! And Shannon Messenger ! I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that Shannon Messenger is my favorite author be...