Friday, July 21, 2017

My Favorite Authors (and Favorite Books By Them)!

Over the years, I have had quite a few authors that I've deemed favorites -- authors whose books are amazing and make my heart pound.  The people that leave me making grabby hands at every single book they release.  But within that group of favorites, I have the select few authors who I adore.  The authors that have written books that have changed my life.  Those authors are my favorites.  And even though I love all of their books, there's always one or two that stand out to me.  

So, today I thought I'd share these all time favorite authors with you guys, and my favorite books written by them.  This is a tough list to make but I hope some of my favorites match your favorites! 

1. J.K. Rowling
It's not a true favorites list without J.K. Rowling in the mix.  I'm rereading the Harry Potter series right now and it is, as always, delivering all the feels. 

My favorite book Rowling has written is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  It used to be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix until I reread the entire series last year and found a new appreciation for the fourth book. 

2. Sarah J. Maas 
Sarah J. Maas has quickly and easily earned herself a spot within my ultimate favorite authors list in recent years.  I absolutely have fallen in love with her writing style and her attention to detail in her fantasy worlds.

My favorite book of SJM's is A Court of Mist and Fury.  This was the book that made me really fall in love with her characters and her fantasy worlds.  And yes, I totally love Rhys.  Her skill when writing characters is inspiring.    

3. Stephanie Perkins 
Stephanie Perkins is the author that really made my love of romance in novels bloom.  I adored reading Anna and the French Kiss and I fell in love with the relationship she created between Anna and St. Claire.  Now, I need at least a hint of romance in every book I read, otherwise I just don't enjoy it as much. 

Anna and the French Kiss is definitely my favorite book written by Stephanie Perkins.  The pacing, the characters, the friendships, the romance, the Parisian culture -- all of it was just amazing and it drew me in.  This book also taught me not to judge books too harshly by their covers because I avoided it for the longest time due to the original, cringy cover (which they changed to the one above, thank goodness).  Of course, when I eventually picked it up (despite the horrible cover), I loved it.  

4. Rick Riordan 
Okay, so I feel a little guilty about this one because I haven't actually read all of Rick Riordan's books.  HE HAS A LOT OF THEM, OKAY?!  But his Percy Jackson series is one of the reasons I fell so in love with reading.  I couldn't get enough of his humor and writing style. 

My favorite book by Rick Riordan is The Last Olympian, the final installment of his Percy Jackson and the Olympian's series.  This book was just the ending I'd been yearning for while reading the first four books in the series.  It was so perfect, I want to experience it all over again. 

While there are many, MANY other authors who have written books I love, these are a few of the ones who have truly made an impact on my as a person and have changed who I am as a reader, writer, or person.  Who are some of the authors that have had an impact on you?  Do we have any overlapping favorite authors? Which books are your favorites from these authors?  Let me know in the comments below!  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters 
Series: None
Author: Francesca Zappia 
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance 
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 
Source: Gifted! Thank you!

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. 

Find Eliza and Her Monsters online!
Okay, so, um . . . THIS IS THE BEST EVER.  Seriously, this book is full of so much awesomeness I can barely handle it.  I mean, the main character, Eliza, was just so relatable.  She spent like, 95% of her time on the internet, interacting and talking with the friends she made there and staying comfortable and safe within her room.  Plus, this book focused so much on the process and pressure that comes with creating art, and dealt with themes of depression and anxiety so well.  I just loved everything about this book.  Read it.  

The characters in this book have made themselves very comfortable in my heart.  I just adore them all so much and love how excited and passionate they were about Monstrous Sea and their other interests.  I felt such a sense of kinship with them; like, these would be my people if I were in this world with them.  They would be the people I wanted to be friends with, who I gravitate toward.  Like I said before, Eliza was especially relatable -- she just felt so much more comfortable behind a screen, when she was creating and sharing her work anonymously.  I felt so much for her.  Even when I saw her making mistakes and even when I wanted to scream in frustrating at some of her decisions, I still got it.  I got where she was coming from.  Wallace, Eliza's love interest, was so precious and so amazing.  I loved how much he cared about Elia and how they worked together to overcome some obstacles.  Their slow growing friendship and slow burn romance was just so cute.  I love it and them.   

ALSO, I just loved Eliza's little brothers.  They were seriously such an amazing and important aspect of the story and they made me want to go hang out with my own little brother.  I love sibling relationships in novels and this one was so true and felt real.  I wish they had been features more prominently in the story.  

Oh my goodness, this review is getting long but I just have SO MUCH TO SAY.  A unique and super cool aspect of this novel was the illustrations throughout.  Obviously, Eliza's webcomic, Monstrous Sea, was such a huge part of her life.  So it was neat to see some of the illustrations and excerpts from the comics throughout the novel.  While I didn't *totally* understand the overall premise of the comic, I still appreciated the detail and skill that went into the comics.  It was a vital part of the story and the character's lives so I liked getting a peek at it.  I also liked the role it played in the main conflict in the book.  It was a unique problem and one I enjoyed reading about.  

This was my first book by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The characters were what really drew me in, but the writing style, the plot, the illustrations were all so amazing.  I read this book in a whirlwind and I can't wait to see what's next from this author.  

“How can I want something so badly but become so paralyzed every time I think about taking it?”

Five Teapots

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #110

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Tower of Dawn 
Series: Throne of Glass #6 
Author: Sarah J. Maas 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: September 5, 2017 

In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.
Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.
His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

Find Tower of Dawn online!

Why I'm waiting on Tower of Dawn this Wednesday: Okay, I'm gonna be totally honest here . . . I kinda have a chip on my shoulder about this book.  Like, yes, obviously I'm going to read this book and be excited for it because it's Sarah J. Maas and I love her writing but also I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WITH AELIN.  This book has made me wait longer to find out what happens with the main cast of characters.  Also, I'm just not a big fan of Chaol.  Never have been.  So I'm slightly frustrated and grudgingly excited about reading this one. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?  How do you feel about Tower of Dawn?  Are you bitter about it like I am?  Ugh, I just want to know what happens with Aelin and Rowan and the rest of them :( But hopefully this one will be good and will give us some insights about what's happening around the world during the time frame of the fifth book.  But still.  Anyways, leave me your link in a comment below so I can check out your posts! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

THE CONCLAVE Blog Tour - Interview + Giveaway!

I'm so excited to be apart of The Conclave Blog Tour today! These books look and sound amazing and now that the third one is out, binge reading the series will be infinitely easier!


Find the first two books in the series online!

Title: The Conclave 
Series: The Converters Trilogy #3 
Author: Tenille Berezay 
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: July 21, 2017 

Having escaped the dangers of The Keep, Desiree is determined to free Blake. But when a government-enhanced converter goes rogue, the ensuing battle for power, control, and lives makes Blake’s rescue a secondary mission. As Desiree struggles to overcome past demons and new, stifling expectations, she faces converters more powerful, dangerous, and desperate than ever. To protect those she loves, redeem the convergence, overtake The Keep, and honor the Conclave, Desiree will have to redefine her future.
THE CONCLAVE is the intense, action-packed final book in the Converters trilogy; the conclusion of Desiree’s journey. 

Find The Conclave online!

I'm so happy to welcome the author of this trilogy, Tenille Berezay, to the blog for an interview! 

Hi Tenille!  I’m so excited to have you here on the blog today and to discuss your trilogy, The Converters!  What initially sparked the idea of these novels?

The Converters Trilogy came from my realization that we all have tons and tons of untapped potential. This story is my idea of what we could be and do if we were able to access all of that awesomeness.

Do you find you’re more driven by the story or by the characters when you write?

As the third book in the series, The Conclave was totally character driven. I had an idea of what I wanted my main characters to go through and become. From there, it was just a process of adding in all the events that would push them to the outcome I wanted and making it all flow together. 

Are you more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” writer or do you like to plot when you write?  What do you do when you have writer’s block?

This go round I was definitely a “pantser”. I wrote this during NaNoWriMo, so it was a lot of speed writing for me. And then a lot of editing. As for writer’s block, I find I can always write, it’s just sometimes really, really bad writing. Which brings us back to the editing. I plan for lots of edits.

Do you have a writing routine you go through? Any snacks or a specific place you go to when writing?

With kids, my routine is to not have a routine. ;) But seriously, I usually fit my writing in where I can. I’m also lucky enough to have a husband who lets me escape occasionally to a writing trip where I immerse myself in writing…and gluttony. I’ll admit there are copious amounts of candy and Dr. Pepper consumed.

Do you listen to music when you write?  If so, what was the most inspiring song to you when writing each book in The Converters series?

I love this question! Music is a huge inspiration for me. I have a top ten song list for each book I write, but I will narrow it down to one song for each. Let’s see…for book one, I’ll go with Fix You by Coldplay. For book two, One Thing by Finger Eleven. And for The Conclave, Hurricane by Truslow. There are so many others, but these are my top three!

How has writing the second and third books in this series differed from writing the first?  Is it easier now than it was in the beginning?

Yes! I keep saying each book gets easier to write. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve been writing a series and I’m familiar with the characters, or if I’m not as overwhelmed by the whole process as I was the first time. I guess I’ll just have to write more books to see!

Where’d the inspiration for Desiree, the main character of The Converters come from?  Do you see yourself or anyone you know in her?

Desiree is who I wish I was in high school—confident and powerful throughout her process of self-discovery. She was inspired by my favorite fictional women…I took all the attributes I liked and left out all the things that drove me crazy. I wanted a character that starts out tough and learns that her emotions and sensitivity don’t make her weak, but stronger.     

Blake is so intriguing!  How did you come up with him as a character?  Did you find him easy or difficult to write about?

Blake was harder. Since the book is written from Desiree’s perspective, it was more difficult to show his growth. I had to do multiple rewrites tweaking his conversations and reactions as I took his perspective into consideration. The second and third book were easier, because I felt like he didn’t alter as much in these books. The strength of his ?emotions and his convictions only grew deeper.

What was your favorite part about writing this series?

The ending! J No really, it was! I loved the closure. Loved bringing the story full circle and bringing the characters all the endings they deserved. And there’s something crazy-satisfying about having a story fully told.

Tea or Coffee? Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper should always be an option.

Skittles or M&Ms? Skittles

Sweet or Salty? Sweet then salty.

Action or Romance? Action makes the romance 10x better.

Vanilla or Chocolate? Vanilla with a touch of chocolate.

Rain or Shine? Rain for reading, shine for writing.

Don't miss the chance to read this awesome trilogy!  And don't forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Tenille Berezay
After living throughout the western U.S., Tenille now claims rural Northern Nevada as her home. If she's not being consumed by a book--whether her own or another author's--she'd like to be found horseback riding, backpacking with her high-school sweetheart/husband, or photographing their three beautiful children.

Tenille loves to read any genre (as long as there's great dialogue with a touch of snark). She believes in authentic characters, romantic sub-plots, and realistic, happy endings.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Writing Goals for the Second Half of 2017!

So, I know I don't talk about my writing very often on here but . . . it's a thing!  I'm a writer.  And while I haven't been the most consistent with my personal writing the past few years due to college, I'm still studying creative writing in college and have worked on short stories, nonfiction creative essays, and have recently started writing a new novel!

I'm really passionate about this project and am having a blast working on it.  It's still in the very early stages of writing it but I have a solid ending I'm working toward and have done some extensive world building.  However, I have a pattern of starting writing projects, getting pretty far in, and then getting distracted by a shiny new idea and leaving the other idea behind.  

I DO NOT want to do this with this project.  I'm determined this will be the writing project I stick with, no matter how many beautiful new ideas pop up.  So, I've been setting some goals for myself to hold myself accountable and finish this one!

Here are some of those goals: 

1. Finish the first draft by the end of the year!
Okay, so yes, that might seem like a long time for a first draft.  But I want to give myself plenty of time without making myself feel rushed.  I've never finished a first draft before (because of the problem listed above) so I'm a little nervous for it. 

2. Draw a rough draft map of the world!
This will probably be happening sooner rather than later.  The novel I'm working on is a fantasy novel so I want to have an idea of the shape and geography of the world before getting too deep.  While I know that can all be fixed during edits, I'd rather start with as solid a foundation as possible.

3.  Find a critique partner!  
While I don't plan on finishing the first draft before the end of the year, I'd really love to meet a critique partner soon and begin establishing a friendship so sharing our work together will be more comfortable.  This goal, while really exciting, also fills me with nerves because meeting new people, sharing my work, and just like . . . being vulnerable in general. 

4. Start compiling a list of agents that I may be interested in querying!
While a long way off, I feel like it will be good to start this step as soon as possible -- at least research and find agents that would be interested in the genre of my novel and who have worked on projects that I've liked in the past!

Those are the biggest goals I've set for the second half of the year.  Yeah, I'm totally intimidated looking at them right now but I'm determined to complete them and really excited for it!  I want to do this so badly and I need to keep at it.  

Now that the goals are out of the way, I figured I could share a little bit about my project! 

So, it's a fantasy novel and young adult (though more mature YA)!  It deals with magic and gods and worlds ending and life-and-death competitions and I love it.  It's (tentatively) called Love & War right now but I know that title just won't stick but I needed something to name the word document.  The main character is nineteen years old and super badass and I love her.  


Here's a short excerpt for the first draft (this is unedited so please be gentle with it):

Calla could feel his eyes on her, like a heavy quilt laid over her at night.  Her back to him, she felt the weight of his gaze between her shoulder blades, on her wide stance, on the dagger that hung loose but firm in her hand.  She didn’t allow her body to tense, ignored the instincts that whispered at her to turn around, to fling her shining blade at his heart rather than the heart of the dummy in front of her. 
Faster than human eyes could track, Calla flung the dagger from her grip and watched it fly end over end before striking its mark with a resounding thud.  The dummy fell backwards from the impact.  
With all of her daggers stuck in the dummies and nothing else to distract herself with, Calla sighed.  “Is there something I can help you with, Lennan?” she said, voice dry.  She walked toward the dummies and looked over her shoulder at the man standing in the doorway. 

AHH okay so there it is!  I really hope you guys like it.  I'm super excited about this project (like I've said 5,023,018,244 times in the post already) and I'm looking forward to working on it more.  I'd love to hear your thought or about any writing project you're working on! Leave me some tips in the comments about this if you feel so inclined!  

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