Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

fpo

Cath is leaving home for the first time to attend college. As if this wasn’t hard enough, Cath’s twin sister, Wren, doesn’t want to be roommates. She wants to find herself and become her own person away from Cath. Burn.

So off to college Cath goes, meeting a new roommate and her hot boyfriend, as well as secretly writing her Simon Snow fan-fiction. She isn’t just a fan of Simon Snow, a Harry-Potter-esque magical book series. She’s the BIGGEST fan, writing fan fiction that thousands of followers read every week. She can’t let the fascinating world of Snow go. After all, it’s what she and her sister clung to after their Mom left them years ago. Most of all, Simon Snow lets Cath dive into a world that’s not her own, and continue being the girl she was back at home.

But challenges arise when her writing professor dumps on her fan fiction. Then she falls for the hot boyfriend of her roommate, and her sister gets herself into some serious trouble. Add in her Dad and his own bouts of mental illness, and it’s enough to make any freshmen lose it. Can Cath keep it all together? Can she grow up and still be the same Cath who loves Simon Snow and her thousands of fans?

This is a really fantastic read – definitely my favorite contemporary YA. I’m not usually a big fan of the genre, but this one was so unique, and so well written, that I immediately fell in love. As a HUGE Harry Potter nerd myself, I identify with a character who has a hard time letting go and growing up. I thought Cath was accessible and likable, and I rooted for her the whole way. You should definitely pick up this book today!

PNWA 2015!

Winning

The fantastic PNWA Conference just finished, and I’m exhausted. I attended with my two FABULOUS crit group partners, J and M. We all had great success at the pitch appointments, reveled in the copious amounts of free coffee, and suitably obsessed over every tiny little thing every agent and editor said like ninth graders.

Not in a creepy way, of course. Be cool, man. Be cool.

Overall, it was the best conference I’ve attended! The panels were informative and interesting, especially the ones about craft. I love me a good discussion on dialog. 😉

My favorite part was the “First Page,” where agents and editors rip apart your page in front of a live audience. It’s anonymous.

As long as you don’t burst into tears.

I did not.

So a win for all! Thanks for nailing it for me, Picard.  Really, though, our whole group had a great first page experience. Lots of helpful and positive feedback, which is so great when you have been working on something in a black hole that you call your office for the last few months. An agent even asked me to talk to him after the session, so I tried not to bounce out of my seat. It was a Charlie Sheen-worthy win!

Now we are all preparing to head to New York for the Writer’s Digest Conference. I’ll be pitching Salem there as well. I’ve sent out all my requests for this conference – 9! – so now I can finally breathe. Finger’s crossed for me, y’all.

And a bonus pic because I found this while searching for the pic up top. You’re welcome.

Engage

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret

Cecelia is the perfect tupperware-wielding upper class wife. Her adorable children are successful at their private school, and her handsome husband makes all of her friends jealous. But something is…off. So when she accidentally finds a letter addressed to her, from her husband, she’s terribly curious. The instructions say to open only in the event of his death. She starts running through oddities in her head, adding up his private crying fits and foul secretive moods into something huge. Should she open the letter? What could he possibly be hiding from her, and is it the reason he’s been acting so strange for their entire marriage?

Unable to take the suspense, she opens it. What she finds will tear her world apart, and shed light on a decades-old mystery. Told from multiple perspectives, The Husband’s Secret is a fascinating thriller unlike others. Instead of trailing us along to finally realize who did what, we know up front some pretty horrible truths. The bigger question is, what would you do with a secret that could ruin the life of someone you love? Follow your sense of morality, or defend them to the death?

And if you chose to ignore the truth, can you handle the consequences?

This is a fabulous beach read for the summer! Intriguing and dark without dipping too far into psychological mayhem, Moriarty keeps us guessing what people will do until the very end. It’s a very real, human story about making hard choices, The Husband’s Secret will make you question just what you would do if put in an awful situation. The story is told from very clean multiple perspectives, and is done well. I always knew whose head I was in, which is hard for many writers. I would highly recommend it!

Book Review – The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train is the debut novel of journalist Paula Hawkins.

Rachel loves the train. She rides it each day on her way in to London at the exact same time, and takes it back out again like clockwork. What she loves most about her morning trip, though, is the sneak peek she gets into the lives of those in trackside house number 15. He’s handsome, she’s beautiful, and they are enormously happy. At least, that’s the story she’s made up about them in her head complete with imagined names and personal quirks. And since everything in her life is spinning out of control, Rachel relishes their normalness.

Until one morning in the train, she sees the trackside woman with another man. A man who is most definitely not her husband. When it is revealed a few days later that the trackside woman of number 15 is missing, Rachel begins an investigation into the perfect lives of people she’s never even met.

Following Rachel down the rabbit hole, we learn about her tangled history with the train, London, her ex-husband and the very house that she has eyed each morning for the past year. Is Rachel herself telling the truth? Who are these people, really, and what connection does she have with them?

And did she have anything to do with the woman’s disappearance?

This is an adult psychological thriller in the vein of Gone Girl. A fantastic book that I literally could not stop reading! Hawkins flips us back and forth between narrators and timelines, keeping the reader on their toes. What happened to the woman? Who really is Rachel, if not just another girl on the train? You’ll be guessing until the twisty end! I absolutely loved it, and highly recommend it! This is adult fiction, so not for younger readers, but I think that it’s a beautifully done novel that anyone would enjoy.

 

 

Book Review: Graduation Day

Graduation Day (The Testing Trilogy Series #3)

 

Graduation Day, by Joelle Charbonneau, is book three in The Testing series. Read my review of book one here, and book two here.

Cia is back, and it’s time to graduate. Will she and her friends find a way to bring The Testing to an end? Will she be able to do what it takes to make sure innocent kids won’t be killed – even if that means killing the testmakers herself?

I won’t do a full review, as I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read the series. Overall, this series is a fast-paced adventure that is perfect  for fans of The Hunger Games or Divergent. Cia is a totally relateable, likable character. I love that she is mechanically inclined and can create tools and weapons out of seemingly nothing! She is no wilting flower waiting to be saved. She’s fiercely loyal and terribly smart, and I loved following along on her adventure. Ingenuity is the name of the game in this series, and fans of dystopic or thrillers won’t be disappointed. Charbonneau is an excellent writer who really grabs you from page one.

I highly recommend this series! And, lucky you, the whole series is already finished. You can buy or borrow it all at once, like I did! There is seriously nothing better than reading a series like this one after another. You will not be disappointed!

Buy it now!

Book Review – DUST, by Hugh Howey

Dust

 

DUST, by Hugh Howey, is the second book in the WOOL series. Read my review of WOOL here.

Juliette made it back. She was sent to clean by her people, thrown out into the wilds of the desolate landscape to die, and made it out alive. She was made Mayor of the Silo, a job she doesn’t really want. Plus, people are starting to question her wild stories of a nearly empty Silo nearby with a few kids and a strange man named Solo. Why put all of the resources of their precious Silo toward rescuing them? Is there even anyone to rescue?

Juliette is determined to find a way to save her friends until disaster strikes. The Gods who created the silos have grown angry and decided it’s time for her people to die. Can she save Solo and the children, as well as her own people? Who are the devils who call themselves Gods who decided their fates in the first place?

This fascinating, thrilling conclusion to WOOL will not allow you to put it down. It took me two (sick) days in the house to read it. I absolutely loved it as much as the first. It was gripping, powerfully-written and at times painful to read. It will make you question what you would do to save those you love in the face of adversity. I absolutely recommend this book!

Book Review – Independent Study

Independent Study (The Testing Trilogy Series #2)

Independent Study, by Joelle Charbonneau. Ready my review of book one, The Testing.

Cia is back in this thrilling follow-up to The Testing. Set in a future world where the US is struggling to make it’s way back from the brink, Cia is one of the lucky few chosen to attend The Testing. If she passes, she’ll move on to the University to study among the country’s greatest minds and will eventually help turn the world into a more habitable place. Of course, The Testing is nothing like she’s been told all of her life. Candidates spar with one another for top spots, using poison to eliminate candidates. The government has rigged the tests to inure or kill students who get wrong answers, and those who fail are eliminated. Permanently.

Cia has made it through the testing and endured the memory wipe. Thanks to some ingenuity, she’s left her self a message that explains every horrible thing that happened to her. With this knowledge, Cia realizes that the University is not what it seems. She knows that if she fails here, she’ll be executed – even if no one has admitted that. So when she gets wind of a revolution, she joins up. She’ll do anythi

Book Review: The Bargaining

The BargainingPenny has problems, and is a problem herself, all at the same time. Her mother never lets her forget it. So when she’s dropped off on her Dad’s doorstep in Seattle, Penny isn’t entirely surprised.  Maybe this time, she’ll be able to forget the horrors of her past and the ghost of a dead friend who still haunts her.

Then April, her stepmom, gets a crazy idea to refurbish the old Carver House in the remote North Woods. And the worst part is she’s decided to take Penny along for the two month ride.

Stuck in a pile of tinder that barely resembles a house, Penny begins to explore the mysterious woods and tiny one-horse town. Creeping, terrifying voices call out to her from the woods, begging to be followed, and the locals won’t dare to come near the house. In fact, they don’t want to talk to Penny or April at all. Battling her own demons, Penny begins to investigate the old stories of the North Woods and the Carver House. Why did all of those teens disappear around there? What happened to them? And what horrors did their families commit to bring them back?

Because the woods that surround her are watching. They are waiting, and they are hungry.

This terrifyingly good novel is a must-read for fans of ghost stories and mysteries! Penny is significantly flawed and relateable, and we find ourselves rooting for her to clear her own conscience of her misdeeds and solve the mystery of the house. Creepy window handprints, little girls peering out of forests, local legends and newspaper clippings give this book a classic ghost story feel. I devoured it in just three sittings! Ms. West is an excellent story teller and really creeps you out!

 

Book Review – The Winner’s Crime

The Winner's Crime (Winner's Trilogy Series #2)

Kestrel is back in this exciting new book, The Winner’s Crime. This is the second book in the Winner’s Series Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. See my review of book one, The Winner’s Curse. I won’t say too much in this review, because I don’t want to give away spoilers from book one.

I suppose, however, I can say Kestrel and Arin are back. Kestrel has sworn to marry the prince, and someday will become Queen of all of Valoria. But Arin is just on the periphery, tugging at her heatstrings and distracting her from her promise. What secrets lay hidden in the magnificent palace? What does the King have planned for Arin and the rest of the Herrani? Kestrel will become a spy, risking everything she loves and her very life to find out the truth.

This exciting second book is just as good as the first. Rutkoski is a powerful writer, weaving beautiful prose with sometimes harsh and horrifying imagery. We long for Kestrel to get what we know she really wants – Arin. But we’re scared of what might happen if she does! I’m utterly engrossed in this series. It’s romantic, intriguing and paced like a thriller. Right up my alley! So start the series today! You won’t regret it.

 

#AmReading

DCCMealy reading a book.

Hey everyone! What are you reading this week? Is it time for Beach Reads yet, or are you still ensconced in fantasy or thriller reads from Winter? Re-reading Harry Potter?

It’s okay. I won’t tell. Right now I’m reading The Winner’s Crime, book two in that series. So good! Read my review of book one here.  And on CD I’m listening to Independent Study, book two in The Testing series. Also, totally amazing. Read my review here of book one. I can’t wait to finish them and get reviews up! They are both amazing.

I’ve recently started and stopped reading two very famous books. Does that ever happen to you? Everyone goes nuts over them, they make movies about them, and you go out and buy it. Then you get five chapters in and you’re like, “Soooo is anything GOING TO HAPPEN HERE?”

Now I understand I might not be the target audience here, but sometimes I just don’t get books where nothing happens.

Unless it was a book just following character’s around from HP. That would be alright. Molly Weasley grocery shopping, anyone?  I can see it now…

Okay I’m back. Sorry, I imagined her levitating oranges into her shopping basket. Heh.

So what are you all reading? How do you feel about starting and stopping books? Yes or no?