Saturday, August 22, 2015

You, Me, and Him by Kris Dinnison

Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —NashMaggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.
Maggie's voice was very strong and powerful. I enjoyed reading about her because she seemed like one of my best friends with her funny and vibrant personality with a love of music. I adore that this book dealt with being overweight in a body positive way. I couldn't help but cheer for her and succeed  in anything that  Maggie  did because she reminded me of myself.  I found her friend Nash to be funny and engaging, but so moody at times that I wanted to just push him off a cliff. He didn't appear to care about Maggie at times and instead focused on how he felt that he was being "wronged." Tom was a cool and charming kid that ended up hanging out with them. 
I found this romantic plot to be engaging and related to Maggie's difficult situation. Pretty much, she needs to pick if she will get the guy or her friend will. One thing that I adored is that Maggie being overweight and Nash being gay weren't a part of the plot, but just an aspect of their characters. Dinnison's writing is strong and I can't wait for the next book that she writes. Overall, Maggie has an intense voice and I want to her friend. The plot interested me and I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't a must-read for me. I would recommend this book to fans of  The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, and Fat Kids Rule the World by K.L. Going.the forthcoming Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Disclosure:  This book was purchased by me.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
I found Violet to be a likeable character. The position that  society places  her in gave me a lot of empathy for her and I cheered for her to succeed by finding some way out of it. I like that she took some risks to get a better life, but at the same time, I found that this made her seem naive as she plunged into another world that she didn't completely understand or comprehend. I found the romance to be very sudden and Insta-love and I wished that there was more development on it. As a result, I didn't care about the romance. I was actually more interested in the political system because the manipulation seemed like the power moves made in House of Cards. I wish that there was more of that, but I understand the need to leave some questions unanswered and I am excited to see how this series will continue. 
This book takes on both dystopic and fantasy elements, which surprisingly blends well together. On the other hand, I found some similarities to other dystopian books to be intense at times. Ewing's writing did grasp me and led me to finish this book rather quickly (Almost one sitting!) and I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it. I feel that this book mirrors aspects of The Handmaid's Tale, Wither, and The Selection  and I  would suggest this book to fans of those books. The end made me want to read the next book, but I don't feel the need to read it right away. If you like a character placed in a difficult situation, a quick and fast plot with political intrigue, and books with dystopian and fantasy elements, then I would suggest this book. It isn't amazing or bad, but more so just good and interesting.   
Disclosure: Received ARC from Publisher

Hello Again!

Greetings, Darling!
Sorry for the impromptu hiatus and disappearance from the blog. I have been super busy with many, many things. But lately, I've missed blogging a lot. So just to catch you up on my life and we can get back to talking about books!.
In June, I graduated from Seattle University with a BA in Creative Writing. The most common question is what's next for me?
That's a great question, but I have a lot that I want to do. Right now, I am doing the job search in the Seattle-Kitsap area and applying for Grad School (MFA in Creative Writing.) I am also writing a lot. I finished a draft of a novel last month and eventually in the future, I will be querying it. I have also been reading a lot of books (Over 180 for this year!)
So, thank you for sticking it out and I hope that you enjoy the new content that I have planned. It is a mix of writing and reading, but I hope that you enjoy it. Let me know how you all are doing and we'll talk soon.
Much Love, Sarah!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Was Here Seattle Tour Stop and Interview with Gayle Forman

 Gayle Forman's new book I Was Here is set partially in nearby Tacoma. To celebrate the launch, she has been having friends and fellow authors meet up with her. Tonight Nina LaCour and Deb Caletti joined her for a conversation at University Bookstore in a very rainy Seattle, WA. They talked about their writing process and how do they revise. They also talked about how they name their characters and how they feel about setting. A general theme of the night was friendship as they reflected on their writing experience and lives in general. The night felt like overhearing a conversation of friends and was very much enjoyed by me.
Earlier that night, I had the opportunity to briefly talk with Gayle and ask her a few questions.
S: Why did you decide to write contemporary with many other genres in YA?
Gayle said that it is the world that she lives in and it is where she can explore many of the questions that she is drawn to.
S: What are some of your recommended reads? 
She recommended Deb Caletti's The Last Forever, Nina LaCour's The Disenchantment,
Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun, Jacqueline Woodsen's Brown Girl Dreaming, and Coe Booth's Tyrell Series.
S: What is the best writing advice that you have received?
"Hard Writing makes easy reading."
S:What inspired or influenced you to grapple with suicide?
Gayle said that she was inspired by an article that she wrote about suicide; which, introduced her to Suzy Gonzales, who didn't seem like someone that would commit suicide from many of the people surrounding her. Gayle wanted to deal with being on the receiving end of a timed suicide note from someone that you love and that you find incredibly gifted and amazing. Over the writing process, she found that it was more about survival and loving life as she explored Cody's character and revised the book..
S: What are your upcoming books?
 Gayle said she is currently working on three books, which has recently become more so between two books. She likes switching, because it makes the writing seem more fresh and exciting.  

Thank you to University Bookstore for hosting; Penguin Randomhouse for organizing the interview and the tour;  Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, Deb Caletti; and you for reading this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Source: Publisher
Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.
Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.
When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

I love this series. Pearce creates such dark,  but complicated retellings of fairy tales and I just need more. Celia was such a sweet character and I understood her character a lot. Her sisters were harder to understand, but I still found them to be entertaining. I liked how they blended together, because sisters tend to be very similar yet slightly distinct. I like Lo too. The romance in the story was beautiful and I liked that Pearce made the plot surprising and enjoyable. The plot drew me in and enchanted me into wanting to read more.  I find her originality to be amazing and the story was well crafted as a result. Pearce crafts another beautiful retelling of a fairy tale and I can't wait to read more books along this way. If you have enjoyed her other books, you must read this one now. It is very similar to Sisters Red and Sweetly and dives deeper into the story.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.
I found The Truth about Alice gave a very interesting point of view, because of the diverse cast of characters. I felt like the characters had a very journalistic and documentary feel  to them. The reveal of the manipulation of rumors and people presented both a realistic point of view. I slowly balanced my like and hatred of characters with the reveal of each aspect of the characters. I wish that some of them had a bit more dimension, because they approached it, but didn't quite accomplish it. Like Kelsie, for example, annoyed me so much, and I felt with her, but I didn't understand all of her motives. 
The plot was paced very well and I read it fairly quick. It addresses a lot of major issues within high school, such as bullying, slut-shaming, and among others. I found the multiple point of view created a great overview of what was happening It was a very short and fast read that I enjoyed. Most books usually focus on the victims of bullying and I found the switch of that to be original. The writing made a good passage of time and created a unique book. Overall, if you want a book that feels like a documentary that focuses on important issues and has a spark of  originality, I would recommend The Truth about Alice. I can't wait to see how her next book turns out.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fierce Reads Tour Stop in Seattle (& Giveaway)

The amazing people at Macmillan asked me to be the Designated Blogger for the Seattle Event of the Fierce Reads Tour. Before the event I was able to interview them, I am transcribing, so it will be a paraphrase of what Leigh Bardugo, Emmy Laybourne, Ava Dellaria, and Jennifer Mathieu said. 
I asked about their future projects.
Leigh talked about The Dregs, which was pitched as Oceans 11 meets Game of Thrones. It is based in the same world as her trilogy. The story takes place in Kerch, which is small, but very capitalistic island nation. The characters are from a slum and it follow their adventures.
Emmy talked about Sweet, which is about a B-List Celebrity cruise that launches a new sweetener. The plan is that they will come back from cruise a lot thinner. It begins as a funny experience that quickly changes to horrifying. She did hint at a romance within the story.
Ava talked about how Love Letters to the Dead was sold to Fox 2000 and and will be produced by Marty Bowen & Wyck Godfrey, who were the producers for The Fault in Our Stars. She is currently working on the Screenplay for it. While she isn't working on a book now, she would like to do so in the future.
Jennifer talked about her future book Devoted. It is written in 1st person and is based around Rachel who is in a very religious community  set in Texas that some people might call a cult. Rachel begins to explore the outside world.
Next, I asked how their unique structure, Point of View, and contribution to their genre helped them with their books and future projects:
Emmy's next project Sweet varies from her Monument 14 Trilogy. The next project that she would like to pitch is paranormal romance. She would like to have a very board range of books like Scott Westerfeld.
Jennifer talked about how writing in 3rd person gives a great perspective and she would love to write more in the future. She found Devoted's 1st person to be very fresh and fun to write. She would love to continue in the Contemporary Genre.
Ava said that there is an intrinsic value to the structure of the project, because each one should be about reaching out into the world and talking about the unsaid. As a result, it should be based on the project. She felt that an Epistolary approach worked well for  writing Love Letters to the Dead, but not every project will allow that approach.
Leigh created a steady hand of 3rd that allowed her to lead into what she wrote in 1st person. This  helped allow the story to have the flow into the rest of the story. She agreed with Ava that the structures come with the story. For example, the current draft of The Dregs has a multiple point of view that works for it, but that might not work for other work. She said that she will always have a supernatural element in her stories.
Lastly I asked what advice that they have for writers.
Ava thought that you should write what you love and let it be yours for a while. There is a moment that she feels like she doesn't need to share it and it is just the story and her. She also said protect your vision and create something that you want to come back.
Jennifer recommended to read constantly and notice the structure and technique that other writer use. Also don't be afraid to develop the voice from other books and writers.
Emmy said taking an improv class is good, because it teaches you to go with it, the basic structure of a story, and allows you to meet some new people and experience something new.
Leigh talked about how Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn made her story very dark and made it interesting.She thinks that you need to just finish your book and edit it. Also, don't compare your first draft to another person's final draft.
Overall it was a great experience and pleasure to be able to interview them. We talked more about writing and I left for the signing.
The signing had an amazing Q&A done by Mel of Novels, News, and Notes from your Northwest Neighbors and a bookseller at University Bookstore. The authors were all very funny and graceful speakers and I enjoyed it. I got all of my book signed and it was amazing.
Here I am with Emmy Laybourne.
 And Jennifer Mathieu... this is why why you should alway take two picture.
 Ava Dellaria and I.
 & Leigh Bardugo and I.

 Now it is time to talk about the giveaway. Macmillan has a copy of Ruin and Rising, Monument 14: Savage Drift, Love Letters to the Dead, and The Truth about Alice. It is US only, and just fill out the form below. For further pictures, visit University Bookstore's flickr.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Source: Netgally
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

In We Were Liars, E. Lockhart presents engaging character, a brilliant plot, and bare, but beautiful writing with a lot of originality and an enchanting setting. I adore this book, because of how brilliantly it was written. First off,  there is a huge cast of characters. Each one had something about them. Cadence or "Cady" is damaged by her accident and I found that part to be very interesting.  Mirren was a great balance of intelligent and girly. Johnny always made me laugh. Gat is mysterious and also Cady's love interest. I loved their interaction and dug into the book wanting more. The plot of this book is masterly crafted. Like I did not expect the ending and I think is what made it such an impact that I didn't guess what was happening. I haven't been surprised in a book in so long. This was also a fairly quick read for me. I found it addicting and didn't want to stop reading this book. E. Lockhart's writing is gorgeous in this book. I have enjoyed her previous books, but the writing in this book is spectacular and magical. I kept on re-reading parts, because the writing was so magical. This book had a lot of originality and I want more books this. Part of the appeal came from the setting and the Sinclair family. If I had the chance, I would join them for the summer. Overall, I adored this book. You need to read this book, if you adore contemporary novels, but want an original and enchanting one. Actually, just read this book as soon as possible and pass it on.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why We Really Need Diverse Books

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote a post on how I wanted to see books that had teens struggling with chronic illness. It is a part of my story and I obviously want to read more close to mine or different. I have taken the advice of some of the people and began to write these books.
I am just one of the many stories in the world. We each experience life in such a different way. We all have different childhoods. We each think about school in a different way. Some of use are Caucasian, African American, Asian, Hispanic, mixed-race, or a completely different one that I am missing. Some of us were born female or male and some have a different gender identity then what they were  born with or don't have one. There are also variances in sexual preferences and many more aspects of a person. These all matter, because people matter.
Since studying English in a formal university setting, I have learned that the cannon is created by the books that are written. We are able to see aspects of Greek culture, because of the Plays and Epics that they left behind. The same goes to Beowulf and many more pieces of work. They show us a piece of history. Hopefully we can leave the same for our ancestors, but like those Greek plays, many marginalized groups are being left out. I think that it is important to represent everyone well. If they are unable to do this, we are failing them, not as just readers, but also as writers. People need to be able to find ourselves and the people that we love in the pages of books. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Reflection on Reading and Coping

I have been open about the fact that I have been struggling with being sick, since before this blog was ever created. Part of the reason that I started this blog is that I needed not only an outlet talk to, but I had to transition from being whole to being cracked with an illness that was out of my control. Since I woke up in the most intense pain of my life, it has been over seven year and I can't remember what it was like to be pain free or healthy.
Reading helped me a lot, because I made decisions at sixteen that some people will never have to make. It made the darkness that cloaked me into a tiny ethereal aspect of my life. The reason that this post if being written is the If I Stay trailer came out and I can remember that time that I picked up that book. I was so afraid. I dropped out of high school in October 2008, because my migraines and pain were too much. Most of my body was stressed, which caused more pain to come. I was also starting the year long process of Physical Therapy to learn how to walk again.
I remember begging my mom to take me to Barnes and Noble to get Willow and If I Stay and both were not there. Luckily we went to the Liberty Bay Books and they had it. I devoured it in one sitting and Mia's pain took me away from the reality that I was facing. It allowed me to think about how I was isolating myself, because of the pain that I thought that I earned for not being a better person. Books have a power to bring me back to the moment of reading on the old fake leather couch that my mom gave away ages ago. I remember the tears as I turned the pages and how I slowly fell in love with Adam from Mia's point of view.
Now I don't think about the pain, but the words that I read and the places that they took me. Reading still helps me cope, even though the pain has become more of a dull reminder that I'm imperfect and I don't always feel as strong physically as I am mentally, but I am. This is just a long post to remind me that books stick with me and so that I can post the trailer.

Let me know what you think of the trailer in the comments, if you can type through the tears.


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