Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Update

Curious as to where I've been? Check out my new editorial services page. I've been editing and proofreading and reviewing all kinds of books. Authors, agents, and friends of both, I am available to work on your projects and would love to add your manuscripts to my growing list of starred-review titles!


Monday, September 21, 2015

The Weight of Feathers: Interview & Giveaway

Welcome to the blog tour for Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore! This tour is run by the lovely Griffin team at St. Martin's, and yes, if you stay tuned, there is a giveaway in it for you, and the winner will receive a signed, finished copy of the book!

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Release date: September 15, 2015
St. Martin's Griffin, 320 pages

Goodreads | Buy It!
The Night Circus meets Romeo and Juliet in this stunning young adult novel about two teens who fall in love despite the almost impossible odds against them.

The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows-the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. 

Lace Paloma may be new to her family's show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it's a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace's life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

For the tour, I was lucky enough to interview the author of the book, Anna-Marie McLemore! Read her interview below, and keep going to win your very own copy of the book!

1. Is there anything in particular that inspired you to write this story?
The story started with the idea of these two different shows—mermaid performers, and winged tree climbers who are half-dancer, half-tightrope walker. Those two shows could be allies, but they could just as easily be enemies. And I loved exploring that in a setting that had the clarity of sky versus water. One family versus another, when both are more alike than they'd ever admit. A boy who's wary of water, and a girl who fears heights as much as she loves rivers.

2. Who was your favorite character to create and why?
I loved writing Cluck. He values his heritage so deeply even though he’s an outcast in his own family.

3. What does your writing process look like? How did you go about penning this story?
I outlined, and then outlined some more . . . and then tossed aside the outline midway through. I like knowing where I’m going, even if halfway through writing the story I have to let it go.

4. Did you read as a child? Who was your favorite, or who inspired you to become a writer?
Despite plenty of encouragement, I came to reading slowly, mostly because I’m a slow reader. But I will mention one of the books that made me a reader, The Little Prince. I read it in French class, and because it was in French, I had to go slow. All of us did. The beauty of that story, combined with the fact that I felt like I was in the same place as my peers, helped reading click with me.

5. What are three things you can’t live without right now?
Ridiculous socks (courtesy of author Mackenzi Lee, I’m currently wearing ones with unicorns and narwhals on them), fizzy water (I run on carbonation), and spending time with my family and friends.

Thank you so much for having me! 

The giveaway is US & Canada only and will be shared with St. Martin's Griffin for mailing purposes only. The winner is chosen randomly via Rafflecopter, and the winner will receive one signed, finished copy of the book. No PO boxes, please. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Last Good Day of the Year Review

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
via publisher (thank you!)

Goodreads | Buy It!
Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.
Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

I've really been into the YA thriller genre lately—it's always been one of my favorites as well. This was such a well-crafted mystery, and it definitely did not disappoint.

Though I'm still a bit confused on the title (if anyone got it, please let me know because I'm still trying to figure it out!), I loved this realistic, eerie depiction of how a family copes after a tragedy and how they try to figure out the real story.

It was full of suspense, but not the fast-paced, scary suspense. It was more of a slow burn and stayed true to the realistic nature of it all.

I also loved a point brought up about how different scenarios were treated in a group meeting for families whose children had been kidnapped and murdered:

"William's murder got far less attention than it should have because he wasn't a pretty little white girl.... It's the kind of injustice so heinous that you would almost have to ignore it unless you were face-to-face with his mother; the prejudice of the system is the kind of thing most people can't stand to acknowledge, because they aren't willing to accept what that says about the world we all live in."
This was an excellent and poignant read, and I'm still thinking about it even though I finished it almost two months ago!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Geek Girl Review

Geek Girl by Holly Smale
Release date: January 27, 2015
Harper Teen, 384 pages
via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. 
She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves. 
As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did. 
And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything? 
I loved this cute tale of a girl who just wants to stay in and read her books but instead gets accidentally discovered as a model! Harriet was content, but she was starting to see the difference in herself and her friends

It had such a fun message about staying true to yourself and being honest with your friends that I think is perfect for anyone. But it was a little simplistic for my taste—super basic plot, predictable events, a magic flight to Russia from the UK that seemed to not be a big deal and they were able to fool family and friends?

I didn't totally fall in love with it because of that, but it was so cute and had such a good message perfect for younger readers looking to get into YA but maybe are not ready for some of the harder topics yet.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Reading in the Big Apple

As some of you may know, I moved to New York City at the beginning of the year, and the beginning of September marks the 8th month I've been in this crazy place. It's hard to believe I live here, and while it's not my favorite place in the world (it smells terrible literally all. the. time.), it's pretty cool that for a moment, I'm spending my life working and living in the big city.

In honor of that, I wanted to share some NYC books that have recently made their way to my shelf and that I've begun reading!

I received The War Against the Assholes from the lovely folks at Wunderkind PR, and since I read the synopsis, I was hooked. It's an urban fantasy sort of true crime mystery from what I can tell so far (I'm only a few chapters in), and it's got very stylistic writing which is taking a while to get used to, but the plot is what really intrigues me. A former Catholic school teenager myself, I am interested to see the differences between my experiences (in the South) versus the ones that NYC brings about on a teenager in this setting, especially when you throw in an interesting game setup in the city and also some magic for good measure.

I'm plowing through my BEA titles, and Saint Mazie is one of those I picked up on a whim. Then, after it had been sitting on my unread pile for a while, I saw this article on HelloGiggles praising the title, and I knew it was time to pick it up. Set at the turn of the Great Depression, Mazie is a gal who loves the city and all its dwellers—the homeless, the addicts, and the drunkards—and wouldn't trade the city streets for anything. The story is Mazie's diary, but it's being shared almost 100 years later by a documentarian who's taken a fascination in Mazie's life in NYC.

Always a fan of good mysteries (especially when they include a map. I LOVE maps), I was so excited when Quirk Books sent me Manhattan Mayhem. A collection of short stories, based around locations in New York and from some absolutely essential mystery writers, it has already drawn me in by the introduction alone. I totally love reading about these people and places, especially since I pass some of them on my daily walk to work (I walk about 3 miles to work and then again on the way home to save money and also I've been told exercise is apparently good or something). I also like it because sometimes, after a long day of editing, I don't want to commit to reading a bunch of chapters, but I can sit down and swallow a whole story in only a few pages.

Let's Talk!

Have you read any of these? Any other NYC books I should add to my list to read now that I've been here long enough to get a lay of the land?

Look at other books I've grouped together in Topics Time!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Everything, Everything Review

A girl who's spent her whole life hiding in fear learns what it means to step out of her bubble

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Pages: 320
Format Read: ARC via BEA

What's it about?

Madeline has SCID—it stands for something, but I've forgotten—which basically means she's allergic to the world. She's never been outside, and her mother has taken the highest precautions to ensure her daughter's safety. She has a home nurse and does all her classes online—she's even in some college courses. There's a ventilation/air-purifier system running through their house and an airlock to make sure no contaminates can get in. Madeline doesn't know any other life. This is the way it's always been. Until the neighbors move in. Soon, she's captivated by the new family, especially Olly, who's determined to entertain her through the window since she's declined his invitations to come over and hang out. Incorporating her new friend and feelings into her sickly life is a new challenge, but it's one she's willing to make. Her mom on the other hand, will do whatever she can to keep Madeline safe.

My thoughts

First, I want to give a big Stars Holla out to the diversity in this book. Madeline is half African-American, half-Japanese, and it's finally done in such a normal way because she's just a person and this is who she is and it's not crazy essential to the story, it's just her character's background. Thank god for someone who is finally writing about this as it should be—more ubiquitous and totally normal. I loved that.

Next, I love that this story both was and wasn't what I expected. It's the first one in a while that's really been both things. It was a contemporary story about a girl experiencing love for the first time, and it was a big sappy/dramatic the way all teenager's feelings are. But it was so much more once I got going, and I was so impressed with the author's ability to pull that from out of nowhere but also lead up to it so well that I didn't realize what was happening until it happened. Totally impressive writing skills.
It brought up so many more real issues that I was not expecting at all and in such a good way that I was floored. It's been a while since a book kind of pulled the rug out from under me because I had literally ZERO clues that led me there. But not in a major plot-twist the nurse is an assassin or something kind of way. A much more grounded and normal thing. I was just so taken aback by the whole set up of this story because it was so well done.

The illustrations were also wonderful, and the various pieces throughout the book added so much more to the story. I loved the images of her email inbox, the lists she made, her spoiler-heavy reviews of classic literature that were usually just one or two lines. Everything about the way the story was told had me totally and completely immersed in Madeline's life. 

But can we talk for a quick second about the white thing? And by white, I mean the literal color white. Madeline has like, a million white T-shirts and their whole house is white, and they talk about everything being white and clean all the time. I thought it was something to do with the dye in clothing? I'm not sure. But after a while, this started to bug me. I just didn't like the stereotypical-ness of the white, shiny things stuff. 

But that was a totally minor afterthought. I was also a little disappointed in the last like, two pages. But not enough for it to ruin the story. I just loved the book.


Spoiler reviews by Madeline

Spoiler alert: Everything is nothing.


I love the cover and the feel of this book. Granted, I have an ARC so it's a paperback, but it's one of those soft covers with the embossed lettering which I love. And it totally reminds me of this video I saw recently of a man who is colorblind being given glasses that let him see colors. (Spoiler alert: I cried. You probably will too.)

This is kind of what it was like for Madeline to have any interaction with the outside world. Seemingly normal things to us were overwhelming and amazing to her.

Talk to me!

Have you read this yet? What do you think about the book?
Did you cry when you watched the video? I totally did, even again when I watched it the second time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Inbox/Outbox #1

I saw this feature over at Book Riot, and I thought it would be the perfect way to chat for a little bit about books I've received, books I've finished, and books I'm in the middle of reading. The inbox are recent titles I've acquired (ARCs, purchased, library, egalleys, or any other means of attaining books) that I'm excited to read. The outbox is a quick snippet of titles I've finished if you don't want a huge long review of them. And the in the queue is an extra little bit of what I'm in the middle of right now.


Thanks to the lovely folks at Wunderkind PR and St. Martin's Press, these are two of the books recently sent to me that I'm most excited about.

A huge fan of Ready Player One (did you hear the movie, directed by Spielberg himself, finally has a release date? December 2017), I couldn't wait to get my hands on Armada. I missed it at BEA (I think it was a very exclusively available thing there), but never fear! Zack, a video game enthusiast, maybe fanatic, is ultra-confused when he starts seeing alien things from a fictional video game world.

Still Life Las Vegas was a surprise title, and one I hadn't heard of before it magically appeared on my doorstep. A recent high school graduate and artist can't stop looking for clues about his mother, whom he barely knew because she disappeared twelve years ago. This book is a mixture of prose and illustrations and comic panels, and it looks beautiful and mysterious and so, so intriguing.

I've recently finished two very drastically different but equally compelling reads, both meant for the middle grade or young(er ish?) category.

Anna and the Swallow Man was a book I picked up at BEA mainly because the cover was beautiful, and the bit on the back was only a few sentences but was very intriguing. Other than that, knew nothing about it. Upon finishing, I discovered it was a title meant for middle grade or children, and that changed my whole view on it, and I want to go back and re-read. Told from the perspective of a young 7-year-old Polish girl in the heart of World War II, this book is about personal journeys, sacrifice, and trust. It was mysterious and eerie as all tales involving the grim and horror of the war should be, and it was phenomenal to see what it looked like through a small child's eyes who was trying to comprehend what was happening. (Teachers, I highly recommend for 4–7th grade classes for a companion to go along with World War II lessons.)

Purely from my interest in reading about alchemy and magic (one of those lifelong interests that was one of my favorites to read about as a kid), The Blackthorn Key had everything my 12-year-old self wanted in a fast-paced, high-stakes novel about a young apprentice trying to discover the secret his master had been killed for hiding. It covers everything from friendship, poverty, religion, morality, and some seriously cool fight scenes (with the MC concocting explosives to plan his escape from the villains). What a fun adventure I had with this one! (This was another BEA title—I'm so proud that I've read quite a few of my pick-ups! Still not enough, but getting there.)

In the Queue

One from each age level (though I don't really believe you ever grow out of reading anything)!

Confession: I've never read Bridget Jones. I'm in the middle of March right now though, and I'm really liking it, especially since she works in publishing, which I'm identifying with a lot.

Fuzzy Mud is Louis Sachar's newest work, which officially released August 4. It's great so far, and brings up a lot of important issues, like betterment of science vs. environmental safety while also covering more ubiquitous middle school issues like bullying and whether or not you should help the kid who's been mean to you all this time.

One of the first books in a while that's made me question my YA love is Never Always Sometimes. While mostly fun to read, it also has some cringe-worthy talky-talk lovey-dovey moments that make me want to barf a little. I know first loves are intense, but really? Am I just too old now? I'm pretty sure my high school self would have made a face too.

Talk to me!

What are you reading now? Anything you just finished that was amazing or terrible? What have you been getting in the mail? Let's talk about it in the comments!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I'm Always Up for Reading About Teen Witches

As a Pottermore-sorted (the most legit form of sorting other than just choosing yourself) Gryffindor, I can assure you I'm a pretty die-hard Harry Potter fan (my favorite classes would be Herbology and Charms and I would be a beater for the Quidditch team). I collect editions of the books when I travel because they're beautiful, and they're also cool keepsakes to remind me of where I've been.

But even Harry Potter isn't the reason I turn to teen witch stories time and time again (even though Hermione is a bad ass and who didn't want to just BE her?). And even though they're TV shows, they're still stories, and they're what inspired my love of finding books with teen witches. Let's look back:

Growing up, I was obsessed with Sabrina. I mean, who wasn't? She was just a normal high school girl trying to fit in and not be the butt of everyone's bullying/teasing. Oh, and she was a teenage witch. There was something so comforting about this totally pretty girl not fitting in with the cool kids because she was a little weird and feminist and loved science and her cat. I felt like it showed everyone has insecurities, and really, we're all just trying to find friends and happiness in this world, and it doesn't matter who we are, we all want that.

I mean, this girl spent high school living with her aunts because her parents separated, she earned her Witch's License (while still doing normal school work), and ended up training a younger witch. Throughout her life, she made mistakes, but she had help from her aunts that taught her that mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them.

Next up was my interest in Charmed. While not exactly teen witches, it was broadcast on the WB, so I mean, close enough. This was three sisters trying to hide their powers from, you know, everyone who didn't have powers, while trying to help the FBI along when a case was unsolvable because of magic foul play. They, too were still just trying to figure out their own path in the world and felt just as vulnerable as teenagers even though they had magical powers. I kind of thought this would be exactly what grown-up life was. (But I also thought living in NYC in a lower east side 2-bedroom apartment like Monica and Rachel did while unemployed was a thing, but man, did I turn out to be dreaming.)

Also because this was shot on the WB back lot, it was pretty much magic Gilmore Girls, which got me to a whole other level of thinking what if Lorelai had magical powers and how awesome/probably terrifying that would be.

And finally we have the one and only fabulous and unmatched Raven. I realize she's not a witch, per se, but having clairvoyant, psychic abilities puts her in some supernatural camp, and I feel like this is the closest one she's in, so we're going with teen witch category (she's certainly not a vampire or anything, so witch is fine, right?).

I learned everything I knew about high school from Raven. I watched it in middle school when it was airing on the Disney Channel, and this was right before I moved schools. Now, it wasn't just a normal move. I was moving from tiny Catholic grade school to the big, public high school, and I didn't know anyone or anything about how this school worked. So I relied, obviously, on fictional characters to help me out. I've never been one for wanting to be popular, I just wanted a few friends, and I'd be fine. So Raven helped me see that even if you're super weird and kind of can't explain yourself sometimes, if you can find the right people, it doesn't matter because they'll be weird with you.

She handled having psychic powers like a BOSS while dealing with stupid people at her school, embarrassing family members, and high school crushes all at the same time. She was also not afraid to flaunt it, and she loved her style and rocked it so well. This show also rocked at being diverse and positive about all backgrounds, cultures, body types, whatever else they needed. Great job, guys!

These ladies instilled in me a lifelong love of all teenagers with some sort of magical power because not only are they dealing with the ups and downs of teenagedom and the horror that is high school, but they're also trying to save the world and their friends.

Even if a book doesn't turn out to be my favorite, I always tend to enjoy books about witches more than other supernatural sort of things because of this. Here are some that I've read and reviewed here!

Talk to me!

Who has read the best teen witch novel? I want to read them! Please tell me if there are more that I'm missing—I LOVE teen witches!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to Say I Love You Out Loud: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Welcome to the official blog tour for How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo! This tour is run in by the lovely folks at Me, My Shelf, and I in conjunction with Swoon Reads, and yes, if you stay tuned, there is a giveaway in it for you, and the winner will receive a finished copy of the book!

How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: 240
Goodreads | Buy It!
Words are strong. Love is stronger.

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again.

Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?


For the tour, I was lucky enough to interview the author of the book, Karole Cozzo! Read her interview below, and keep going to win your very own copy of the book!

1. Is there anything in particular that inspired you to write How to Say I Love You Out Loud?
I work in a school setting that serves students with various special needs. Most of the siblings I encounter are wonderful—supportive and mature beyond their years. However, it's impossible to miss how in so many situations their needs or desires have to come second to the more immediate or pressing needs of their brothers and sisters. I was interested in telling their story, thinking about how their family dynamics impact their lives and relationships. My main character, Jordyn, is far from perfect and doesn't always treat her brother as she should. But she definitely grows, and even if readers don't love her every action, it's my hope that they come to respect her and her progression throughout the story.

2. Who was your favorite character to create and write about?
Probably Leighton (my main character's rival)! She was fun. And I really challenged myself to not turn her into this one-dimensional mean girl. I wanted her to be real, and I wanted her to have some redeeming qualities. I always enjoyed playing around with what was going to come out of her mouth next.

3. What does your writing process look like? How did you go about penning this story?
I usually know how I want my story to start and where I want it to end.  My stories tend to be character driven, so most of my initial focus is on their character arcs—it's more of a challenge for me to tease apart the actual plot and plug in the details of how they get from point A to point B. But I'm DEFINITELY a planner, and I typically can't bring myself to start a "Chapter 1" until I have a story outline down on paper. As I get into it, I usually picture chapters in my head first. Then I put down a really rough outline—bits of dialogue without punctuation or capitalization, incomplete sentences. The final pass is actually fleshing out the chapter, adding actions and descriptors, and at least trying to be grammatically correct. Usually, every chapter is created in this manner.

4. The book features a playground with Dr. Seuss scenes—is there a particular children’s book that inspired you to create something/be a writer?
The book that will always come to mind is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward. It was a springtime favorite. The artwork is so beautiful and dreamy and the story is touching. I hope something I create someday can have such an authentic emotional impact. Now, as an adult and working mom, I also appreciate the message about busy moms being able to reach their ambitions at any point in life—that definitely goes along with my writing journey, and I love that in this way this story is still special to me.

5. What are three things you can’t live without right now?
My beautiful planner by ShePlans on Etsy.  I'm still a paper and pencil girl, and there's not a day that I'm not checking my planner. (Um, I checked out these planners, and GIRL they are amazing. Totally sad about my lack of money because I feel like I NEED these in my life.)
My Hawaiian Hazelnut coffee from Cape May Roasters—my day doesn't officially start until it's brewing!
Limes—I use an obscene amount of limes during the summer—in ice water, mint ice tea, and there's nothing better than a fresh-squeezed margarita!


The giveaway is US only and will be shared with Me, My Shelf, and I for mailing purposes only. The winner is chosen randomly via Rafflecopter, and the winner will receive one finished copy of the book. No PO boxes, please. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Book Stuff #5

I find things all the time that make me drool because I want to own them, and I definitely can't afford them right now. So I wanted a place to compile all the pretty bookish things that I plan on (someday) having in my possession. Want to see more happy book stuff?

THIS GIRL. Anna Mo runs an Etsy shop called Ohhio, in which she creates every book lover's dream. How much do you want one of these super-chunky blankets to wrap yourself in with a cup of tea and a book? They are crazy expensive (because obvi would be super difficult to make), so maybe one of our fav fictional book boys will buy us one?

Speaking of tea, look at this wonderful tea charm bookmark with a C. S. Lewis quote to perfectly add instant classiness to whatever you may be reading.

How cute are these I've Tread Them All socks from Modcloth? (I mean everything from Modcloth is cute, let's be real.)

I'm loving this Goosebumps patch, and if I were in gradeschool, I totally would have already successfully convinced my mom to buy it (probably two) so I could sew it onto my Jansport and my Girl Scout vest (just to be a rebel).