Monday, January 5, 2015

How I Feel about It Being 2015 (and My Debut Year)

This is a little late coming, but I wasn't really sure how to put my thoughts together.

The idea that my first book is hitting shelves in six months is kind of terrifying. But exciting too. There are just lots of emotions.

I'm one of those writers that has wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I gave my mom a book I wrote for her birthday when I was seven, and it's been downhill ever since.

When I started writing HELLO, I LOVE YOU (then called FROM CHINA, WITH LOVE - and, you might have guessed, set in China), I had no hopes of it ever being published. I was finishing my last semester of college and about to hit my "young life crisis," as I fondly call it. I just wanted something to do that would distract me from the fact that I was about to enter real adulthood.

But as I edited and connected with other writers (and soon to be friends), I started to want more. I wrote a query letter. I sent out that query. I got an agent! And it suddenly all felt real.

I got a call from my agent that two editors had offered on the manuscript three days before I was scheduled to move to the UK. It was stressful and exhilarating, and it literally felt like my dreams were coming true.

Now, more than a year later, it still hasn't hit me that real people I don't even know will be reading my book. It's sort of a terrifying idea, that my story about love and forgiveness (and, yes, KPOP) will be read by strangers. They'll judge its merit (and its writer), and a story that's actually very personal will be shared with the world (or at least the U.S.).

Writers know pretty quickly what the hopes are for their books. You can gauge how many "most anticipated books" lists you're on and how much your publisher thinks you're going to succeed...or not. It can get frustrating or disheartening when you're not on lists or you feel like your publisher isn't expecting much from you and your book.

But I'm learning something.

I'm learning that, ultimately, none of that matters. I didn't start writing books to get on lists or even to sell well. I started writing because I love words and stories. I started writing because I felt like I had things to share with people.

I have no idea how well my book will sell. ARCs haven't even gone out yet. I have no idea if anyone will like it. I can't control any of that. But through this process of releasing control, I'm being reminded that the reason I wrote HELLO, I LOVE YOU was because I wanted to give people hope - hope that you can move past grief and hurt and guilt, hope that you can find love, hope that your life doesn't end when hard times hit.

And if one person reads my book and is touched in some way, it would be worth it. I can't say I wont. Care about how the book sells, because that would be a lie. But remembering why I write helps it to matter less.

I'm excited for people to read my little book. I'm also anxious. But I can rest in the fact that it's happening - it's being published. This is what I've wanted to do since I was seven years old, and I know how blessed I am to be seeing something I wrote actually be published.

But every day, I have to remind myself why I write. I think every writer feels that, the insecurity. We all get caught up in the business and comparing ourselves to other writers. We get jealous and anxious, but also hopeful. Grateful.

That's what I'm mostly feeling as 2015 begins: grateful. Grateful that I'm seeing a dream come to life, grateful that there were both an agent and editor who believed in my story. Grateful that friends have already read the book.

And this year, my goal is to expand that gratefulness, to enjoy the process, to be a little less anxious, and to find happiness in all the blessings I already have, rather than striving so hard for more.

2015 will be a tough year, I think. But it'll also be a great year.

I'm ready for it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Favorite Reads of 2014

It's that time of year again: for the best-of-the-year posts in the book blogosphere! This is always my favorite post to write all year. And even though I'm no longer a book blogger, I still wanted to put together my list of favorite books I read this year.

I'm not restricting myself to books published in 2014. I'm just going to list my favorites of the books I read, some of which were published in previous years and some forthcoming.

Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers

I'd heard so many great things about this book, but I just hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. I have no idea how or why I held out so long, because this book is epic. It's my favorite in the series for sure. Not only is it exciting and original, but it has a great ship. Ismae + Duval 4evah

On the Fence, by Kasie West

Holy cuteness, Batman! I discovered Kasie West this year, and I don't know how my reading life survived without her novels. Seriously, she's become one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. Love, love, love her books! I've loved all the books of hers I've read (three this year), but this was my favorite, so I just decided to put only it on here.

The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

AHH!! THIS BOOK! It's so amazing. I wasn't expecting it to be half as awesome as it was. I couldn't put it down. I loved the worldbuilding, the characters, everything. (And side note: this was my favorite cover of 2014. I mean, JUST LOOK AT IT!)

The Conspiracy of Us, by Maggie Hall

Y'all, this book is epic. It's so fun and exciting and full of gorgeous settings. Talk about armchair travel! Also, there's a delicious love triangle that's not really a triangle yet but that I'm hoping will form. Everything about this book was perfect for me, and I can't wait to bug Maggie until she gives me the sequel. *evil laugh*

Exquisite Captive, by Heather Demetrios

A SHIP TO END ALL SHIPS! Oh man. I know he's the villain, but dude, I loved Malek. So. Much. And I shipped him so hard with Nala, even though she's his slave. It was twisted. I know. But seriously. Whoa. This book was so dark and amazing.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters, by Laini Taylor

This series basically slaughtered me. And I can't believe she ended it like that. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS! Surely this isn't the end of this world. SURELY.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

I was really behind the times with this one, as it originally published in 2010. I honestly wasn't expecting to love it, but I totally did. It's beautiful and heartbreaking, and I'm totally going to force my nine-year-old niece to read it.

Cress, by Marissa Meyer

If this isn't on your favorites list and you read it this year, you're insane. Seriously. Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series is masterful, and this is probably the best so far. The way that she weaves all the stories together is so amazing. And seriously, if you don't love Cress and Carswell, there's legitimately something wrong with you.

Stolen Songbird, by Danielle L. Jensen

Danielle's debut really blew me away. I loved this concept so much, and the worldbuilding is amazing. Oh, and did I mention the characters? I want a Tristan of my own, even if he is a troll.

Vicious, by V.E. Schwab

This was one of the first books I read in 2014, and it was definitely one of my favorites. It's so dark and twisted and amazing. These characters are epic. Seriously. I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that this film goes through into production. It would be amazing.

Ignite Me, by Tahereh Mafi

This was one of my most anticipated 2014 releases, and it totally delivered. What an amazing end to one of my favorite YA series! THAT ROMANCE THO! Omg. I can't even. She totally surprised me, in a totally amazing way. And her words. I just want to crawl into Tahereh Mafi's head and sit there for a while, just to watch the words flow through it.

*And I'd like to make a note that Heather Petty's Lock & Mori was also a favorite this year, but it doesn't have a cover yet. So just imagine its soon-to-be-revealed-cover-that-I'm-sure-is-gorgeous right here. :)

And my favorite book of 2014 was...

Hostage Three, by Nick Lake

I'd never read a Nick Lake before this one, and I devoured it in one day. I was camping in South Africa, and I couldn't put this book down to even enjoy travel. I was so engrossed in this story and these characters. I don't think I've ever read a YA book that so wonderfully captures the meeting (and conflict) of first and third world and makes both characters so sympathetic. I was really moved by this story. It will totally make you rethink how you see crime in the third world, especially in places like North Africa. Such a powerful read!

Honorable Mentions
I read a lot of other great books this year. Some others that I really loved but didn't quite make my list were...

There Will Be Lies, by Nick Lake
The Storyspinner, by Becky Wallace
Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee
Falling into Place, by Amy Zhang
Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
Fire & Flood, by Victoria Scott
Panic, by Lauren Oliver

What were your favorite reads of 2014?

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Most Anticipated Books of 2015

Wow, it's been an incredibly long time since I blogged. Oops! But it's the end of the year, which is my favorite time of year in the book blogosphere. It's when everyone starts posting their lists for favorite books of the past year and also the ones they're most excited for in the coming year.

Typically, I write a post with my favorites before I look to the future, but I'm going to switch it up this year and post the ones that I'm really looking forward to.

2015 is going to be an amazing year of books methinks (and not just because my debut releases in June - EEEPPP!!!). There are so many that look freaking incredible.

So without further ado, here are the books that are releasing in 2015 that I'm dying to read:

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

I love Sarah's books, and this one just sounds freaking incredible. It's a new adult fantasy, which really intrigues me. Most new adult books I've read I haven't enjoyed, but I have faith in Sarah. Also, that cover. Wow. Gorgeous and evocative.

Tracked, by Jenny Martin

This is a release I've been eagerly awaiting for what feels like forever. Ever since I saw the pitch (Star Wars meets Speed Racer), I've been itching for it. Also, Jenny is a fellow 2015 debut, so now I'm double excited for it.

Reawakened, by Colleen Houck

I really enjoyed Colleen's Tiger's Curse series, and I'm excited to see how she handles Egyptian mythology. Plus, I remember her writing a blog post about how she was inspired by Indiana Jones. How cool is that?! I'm so ready for this one!

Hold Me Like a Breath, by Tiffany Schmidt

I know a lot of people are really looking forward to this one, because it's a fairytale retelling. But honestly, I'm just really excited for it because it has organized crime in it. I love books about mobsters and gang members and what not, and this one sounds incredible. A black market for body parts? Whaaa??? I'm so down for this one!

I Am Her Revenge, by Meredith Moore

This is another 2015 debut that I'm really excited for. I love books about getting revenge, especially thrillers. This is so what I'm loving right now, I can't even tell you. Plus, do you see that cover? So gorgeous!

The Witch Hunter, by Virginia Boecker

Oh man, I'm SO excited about this one! Virginia's book sounds so great, and her road to publication story is pretty darn epic. I love that she lived in London for a while - she really knows the city she's writing about. I've also heard some amazing things about this book, which has only fueled my excitement.

The Girl at Midnight, by Melissa Grey

Okay, Melissa's book basically sounds like the best thing ever. Y'all don't even know how much I want to read this book. Like seriously. OMG.

Invaded, by Melissa Landers

Okay, I loved Alienated last year; it was so fresh and funny. I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel. The main character's voice is sassy and hilarious, and the romance is really fun. This is the best kind of light sci-fi.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

I loved loved Victoria's first adult novel, Vicious, and this one sounds just as good. Everything she says about it gets me more and more excited. And I don't think I've seen a book cover that incredible in a long time.

The Wrath & the Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh

Okay, I read the first chapter of this one, and I was so captivated by Renee's writing and characters from page 1 that I've been dying to read it ever since. I don't think words can express just how excited I am for this one. Seriously. It's like everything I love wrapped into one package. I NEEDS IT!

Salt & Stone, by Victoria Scott

I really enjoyed Fire & Flood this year - it's a fun, fast-paced thriller. I can't wait to see how the story continues in Salt & Stone!

The Fill-in Boyfriend, by Kasie West


The Winner's Crime, by Marie Rutkoski

This is actually my most anticipated release of 2015, I think (umm...other than mine lol). I'm dying for this one. March is SO FAR AWAY! I have no idea how I'm going to wait that long. Like seriously. Especially when other people are reading it, and all I want to do is reach through the interwebs and grab the book out of their hands. WHAT HAPPENS TO KESTREL AND ARIN?! I MUST KNOW!

Currently cover-less books I'm also dying for:

Hidden Huntress, by Danielle Jensen
Winter, by Marissa Meyer
Illuminae, by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I've also read some 2015 releases already that would have been on my list otherwise. These are...

Lock & Mori, by Heather Petty (OMG, Y'ALL, THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!)
Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee
The Conspiracy of Us, by Maggie Hall
The Storyspinner, by Becky Wallace
There Will Be Lies, by Nick Lake

So what books are you excited for in 2015?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top 10 Favorite Bookish Friendships

I realize that it's been a super long time since I wrote a blog post, but I couldn't resist jumping on this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It's all about our favorite bookish friendships, which isn't always a huge focus in YA.

So today, I'm going to share with you some of my favorite friendships in YA books!

1. Zuzanna and Karou, from Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
There are a lot of things to love about this series, and one of them is the amazing friendship between Zuz and Karou. These are two fierce girls. Their relationship could have been competitive, but it was gloriously tension-free and sweet. Zuz is amazing, and I love how much she supported Karou. Honestly, she almost stole the show for me quite a few times throughout this series.

2. Juliette and Kenji, from Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series
I love a good platonic girl-guy friendship, and this is one of the best. Kenji is hilarious, and he was an amazing friend to Juliette. He calls her out on her angst, and she helps soften some of his harder edges. I found their friendship especially sweet in the last book, Ignite Me.

3. Aria and Roar, from Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky series
Okay, I know that I was a huge Aria+Roar shipper, and I still stand by that decision. They coulda been adorable if there had been any romance there, but there wasn't, and I really respect that. Their friendship was really solid, and honestly, I just love Roar. *sigh*

4. Elisa and Storm, from Rae Carson's Girl of Fire & Thorns series
Okay, it's no secret Storm was one of my favorite characters in this series. He's snarky and awkward and hilarious. Basically every time he opened his mouth, I laughed. And I loved the progression of Elisa's relationship with him from wariness to friendship.

5. Jem and Will, from Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel series
OMG this is the most epic bromance in all of YA. Hands down. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Their parabati relationship is incredible, and I think the scenes focusing on them (as opposed to the romance) in this series were the ones that really tore me up.

6. Sam and Cassel, from Holly Black's Curse Workers series
Really, I just loved all the characters in this series so much it hurt. Sam and Cassel get into a lot of trouble together, and I just loved how they supported each other all the time. Gah, this series is incredible.

7. Iko and Cinder, from Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles
Girl friendships are the best, even if one of the girls is a robot. Seriously, Iko is amazing, and I want her as my BFF. I love how Iko continues to play a role as the series continues, and I'm almost loving the friendship between Iko and Carswell Thorne as much as the one between Iko and Cinder.

8. Simon and Clary, from Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series
This series gets a lot of criticism, but I think one of the best bits is all the great friendships between characters. Simon and Jace have a great bromance too, but I think the Clary/Simon friendship is probably my favorite relationship in the entire series. I love how they've gotten over the failed romance and are even closer now.

9. All the girl relationships in Anna Godbersen's Luxe series
I know two of the girls are sisters, but I'm still counting that. I just loved all the friendships (both positive and negative) in this series - the frenemies, the competition, the devotion and loyalty. There are so many relationships going on in these books between all the girls, and I loved them all.

10. Thomas and Minho, from James Dashner's The Maze Runner series
I was really surprised by how much I liked this book, since it was basically just a bunch of teenage boys being idiot teenage boys, but dude, it's so good! And I really liked the friendship between Thomas and Minho, and how that developed. Gimme a good bromance any day!

Friendships in Classic Books

1. Achilles and Patroclus, from Homer's The Iliad
I don't care what you say, these two weren't romantically involved, because their relationship is so much more powerful and touching if they were just best buddies/brothers in arms. Like seriously. The granddaddy of all good bromances in literature right here.

2. Elizabeth and Charlotte, from Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice
Poor Charlotte. I feel sorry for her every time I read this book or watch an adaptation. However, at least she has a good friend in Elizabeth! It would have been so easy for Charlotte to hate her - she gets everything that Charlotte has ever wanted, and Charlotte even gets the guy Lizzie didn't want! - but she doesn't, and I think that's powerful stuff right there.

3. Edmund/Lucy and Eustace, from C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Yeah yeah yeah, I know he's their cousin, but that's distant enough family that they're more like a friend. Mostly, I just love Eustace's character development and how Edmund and Lucy grow to like him.

4. Sam and Frodo, from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
THE MOST EPIC OF FRIENDSHIPS EVER! I don't even need to say anything here, do I?

5. Sherlock and Watson, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes collection
I think modern adaptations have made this relationship even more iconic, but I enjoyed the friendship in the books, as well. I mean, Watson was kind of an idiot in the stories, but they still had a lot of good interaction.

6. Little Willie and Searchlight, from John Reynolds Gardiner's Stone Fox


What are your favorite bookish friendships?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Most Anticipated 2014 Debuts

Since I don't really blog "officially" anymore, I've really let this blog slip. Sorry, friends! I realized today, while I was perusing some of the book blogs I used to frequent, that I hadn't really talked about my reading lately. And if we're being honest, I'm foremost a reader before I'm a writer - after all, I became interested in writing YA because I was reading it (unlike a lot of authors, it seems, who just sort of stumbled upon writing YA).

If you're friends with me on Goodreads, you can keep up with my reading. I initially had a goal of reading 50 books this year, but I ended up deleting the Goodreads challenge because it kept telling me I failed at life.


Anywhosies, today I'm going to be talking about books. Specifically, about 2014 debuts. Because by golly, this is 2014 and our 2014 debut authors are the belles of the ball.

I wrote a post back at the end of last year which featured my most anticipated 2014 releases, but this one is going to be a little different. Debuts only!

Debuts I've Already Read

I've already read a few great debuts I think you should check out. Here were my favorites:

Alienated, by Melissa Landers

Stolen Songbird, by Danielle L. Jensen

Alienated is just so much fun. Cara, the MC, is super sassy and hilarious. I loved the voice of Melissa's writing - she's definitely an author to model in that regard! I can't wait to read the sequel, but sadly, I have to wait a whole YEAR for it.

Stolen Songbird has been on my radar since I saw the deal announced, and I've been anxiously counting the days until I got my hands on it. Y'all. This book is awesome. The blurb reminded me of George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin (one of my favorite books of all time), but Danielle's debut is more romantic and dark than the classic fairy tale. It's also exciting and OMG TRISTAN. Gimme book two right nowwwwww!!!

Wish You Were Italian, by Kristin Rae

Prisoner of Night and Fog, by Anne Blankman

These two might be my favorite 2014 debuts I've read so far. Kristin is my fabulous critique partner, and Wish You Were Italian is honestly one of the cutest books I've ever read. It's fun and flirty and full of Italian goodness. It's like a European vacation packed into 350 pages of cuteness that's sweeter than gelato.

Prisoner of Night and Fog was a huge surprise for me. I was intrigued by the concept (the god-daughter of Adolf Hitler?!), but it was so much more than I could have imagined. The only word I can think of to describe it is "thrilling." Talk about a page-turner! I was glued to this book until I'd finished it, and I can't believe it's a sequel. HOORAY!

Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge

Elusion, by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam

I think most people have heard of Cruel Beauty by now. I actually read this one back in August because I couldn't wait any longer before I tore into it. It's a dark fairytale that I definitely recommend. The characters were unique, the plot intriguing, and the romance unlike most YA romances out there. I liked that it was a standalone, but I almost wanted there to be a sequel so I could get more about these characters and this world.

The only thing I can liken Elusion to is The Matrix. It's very futuristic and technology-focused, with rich descriptions of this dream world. My favorite scenes were those inside Elusion - it was just so visual. This is the start to an exciting sci-fi series!

Debuts I Can't Wait to Read

Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch

Feather Bound, by Sarah Raughley

Balzer + Bray is my favorite imprint at HarperCollins. They consistently publish a lot of my favorite reads from Harper, so I always pay special attention to their new releases. This one in particular sounds amazing. I love high fantasy, and I love the way this one sounds. The cover is a little Divergent-y, but it's still super cool. Also, Sara seems awesome on Twitter, and obvs I want to read her book. :)

Just look at that gorgeous Feather Bound cover! Like...whoa. Strange Chemistry really outdid themselves with that one. Also, Strange Chemistry is another one of my favorite imprints (part of Angry Robot), and I've really been enjoying recent paranormal releases. Now that paranormal is no longer "trendy," it seems like the ones that are being published are all really high quality and unique. (Not to say paranormals published during the paranormal boom weren't good - I found lots of favorites during that time!) Can't wait to read this one!

Open Road Summer, by Emery Lord

Midnight Thief, by Livia Blackburne

Open Road Summer has a ridiculous amount of hype surrounding it. Bloomsbury has been making a huge publicity push for it, and everyone I know who's read it so far has raved about it. The premise of this one sounds amazing, and I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that the book is as great as it sounds.

I really enjoyed the prequel novella to Midnight Thief, which Livia was kind enough to send to me. Also, Hyperion has been publishing some amazing books recently, and I'm always up for finding a new fantasy series to fall in love with.

Push Girl, by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love

Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang

Jessica Love is my editor-sister (we share the same fab editor at St. Martin's). Plus, this book sounds amazing. I love this concept - such an important topic and one that isn't represented much in YA (or fiction in general, really).

Continuing the theme of sisterhood, Amy Zhang is my agent-sister. (You guessed it, we share the bestest agent evah.) Plus, her debut Falling Into Place sounds incredible. And the fact that she sold it before even graduating high school? Color me seriously impressed. Amy is intelligent and lovely, and I'm really looking forward to diving into her book.

The Jewel, by Amy Ewing

Salt & Storm, by Kendall Kulper

The Jewel is another high fantasy I'm itching to read. How awesome does it sound, right?! Okay, and is it just me, or does that cover look so much like Kiera Cass's covers? Which is to say it's freaking gorgeous, just like those. Imma need this one ASAP.

How cool does Salt & Storm sound, amiright? I love that it's set in the Pacific Islands and that it's a kind of paranormal we don't see much. I still haven't given up on urban fantasy and paranormal, though publishing seems to have (right now, anyway). I'm really excited for this one.

Illusive, by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Fire Wish, by Amber Lough

I'm rounding off this list with my two most anticipated 2014 debuts that I haven't read yet. First up is Illusive, which was pitched as X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven. O.M.G. I freaking love heist-y books, and I've recently really been into thrillers. I'm dyinggggg for this one. And that cover is just so freaking cool. Ahhh I needs it! *grabby hands*

I think I've been flailing over The Fire Wish since I saw the deal announcement what feels like forever ago. I've said it a million times, but I'll say it a bazillion more times - Middle Eastern legends and mythology are my FAVORITE, and I wish they were showcased more in YA. There's just so much rich source material to pull from. So when I read the premise of this book, I freaked out. Like, I literally squealed. And I haven't stopped pestering Amber ever since I found her on Twitter. I need this book in my life, people. Like. Right now.

Those are the 2014 debuts I'm most excited for.
Which have you already read and loved?
Which are you hoping to love?
Let me know in the comments!