Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Review: Know My Name

Know My Name Know My Name by Chanel Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you only read one book this year, let it be KNOW MY NAME. Chanel Miller is a sexual assault survivor. She is also an artist and writer, and her storytelling skills awed me as I read her memoir. Her voice is sharp, poignant, even funny and sarcastic at times. And she has a story to tell.

In KNOW MY NAME, we follow Chanel from the night of her assault on the Stanford campus, through her trial and ongoing recovery. We sit next to her as she has a panic attack in her car on the phone with a sexual assault hotline operator. We accompany her to RISD, where she takes a printmaking class as an escape from her Palo Alto hometown, now tainted with memories of her assault. We listen to the stand-up comedy she performs while living in Philly with her boyfriend.

And we sit beside her in the courtroom. We learn about the legal process and its unfairness along with her. We are outraged with her. And at every second, we feel honored she has allowed us to remain at her side.

Chanel also shares her perspective on events that have occurred since her trial ended, like the 2016 election and the #MeToo movement.

This should be required reading in high school, college, everywhere. If you have a pulse, please read this book (or listen, Chanel narrates her audiobook). Chanel Miller offers the point of view of survivors who are too often silenced. She will make you look. She will make you listen. And once you learn her name, you won’t forget it.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: SADIE

Sadie Sadie by Courtney Summers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unputdownable. Courtney Summers writes some the best protagonists in YA, and this book is no exception. SADIE is gritty, fantastic storytelling. Part of it is told through a podcast transcript, a creative format that I loved. In the vein of ALL THE RAGE (one of my favorite books of all time), SADIE examines what we as a society do to young girls, how we project onto them our own ideas of who they are. Though he has the best of intentions, West McCray (the creator of the podcast The Girls that explores the murder of Sadie's younger sister and Sadie's own disappearance) doesn't know Sadie and is, in a way, profiting from her disappearance.

While the podcast builds the image of Sadie and her past, Sadie's POV chapters give us insight into the girl herself: a girl out for vengeance, a girl with nothing left to lose. Her younger sister, one of the only good things in her life, was murdered, and Sadie knows who is responsible.

Courtney and SADIE hit the New York Times Bestseller list, and it is so, so deserved. You won't be able to put this one down and will be thinking about it long after the final page.

I was able to meet Courtney during her SADIE tour, and she's fantastic!



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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pitch Wars!



I've spent the past several months as a 2018 Pitch Wars mentee, working with the fantastic Jamie Howard on revising my manuscript, DROWN THE MERMAIDS, for the PW Agent Showcase. You can view my entry here.

I'm going to write a more detailed post on my Pitch Wars experience soon, but for now, let me just say it has been one of the best experiences of my writing life so far. Not only is my manuscript much stronger than it was last summer, but I've made so many wonderful friends in the writing community.

If you have a revised manuscript you want to take to the next level, I highly encourage you to consider submitting to Pitch Wars. The 2019 dates have not been announced yet, but I'll be sure to post them here once they are.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenn Bennett writes some of the most vivid characters in contemporary YA today. Their dialogue, their quirks, their outside-the-box hobbies...I've read all three of her contemp novels this year and each one stands out in my mind. I adore them all, but STARRY EYES has my heart. Astronomy lover Zorie gets roped into a "glamping" trip with her sort-of friends, only to discover that her ex-best friend Lennon is coming along, too. Of course, nothing goes as planned on this trip, and Zorie finds herself stranded in the wilderness alone with Lennon.

I identified so much with Zorie and her control-freak tendencies. She's a planner and stresses when she can't control a situation (sometimes to the point of giving herself hives). Lennon is one of my new favorite YA boys, outdoorsy and snarky and sweet. Their banter is TOP NOTCH! I also loved Zorie's relationship with her mom and Lennon's relationship with his moms - I love a YA with awesome (and present) parents.

My review won't do this book justice, so just read it! It made me giddy from start to finish and almost convinced me to give hiking/camping a try. (I said almost.)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Review: FURYBORN

Furyborn Furyborn by Claire Legrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Feminist fantasy? Alternating POVs of strong young women with powers? Elemental magic trials? Prophecies? YES PLEASE. FURYBORN surprised me in all the best ways, with fantastic pacing and characters I loved to root for.

In the richly developed world Claire Legrand has created, a prophecy tell of two queens: the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen. One has the power to save the world, the other to destroy it (can you guess which is which?) and they will both possess all seven types of elemental magic (some people in this world have one kind of elemental magic, but most have none). The narrative flashes between our two protagonists, Rielle and Eliana, in their own timelines one thousand years apart (after a KILLER prologue that leaves you disoriented and mindblown at the same time). Push through the initial confusion while you’re getting your bearings in the world, and then the story takes off fast!

All her life, Rielle has been forced to hide her ability to perform all seven types of elemental magic. When the truth is revealed, she is thrust into a series of trials to prove she is the Sun Queen, not the dreaded Blood Queen. If she fails, she will be executed. A thousand years later, Eliana is a bounty hunter struggling to survive by tracking down rebels, enemies of the Empire. When her mother disappears, along with many other women in the city, Eliana joins up with a notorious rebel to find her—but, of course, this rebel has ulterior motives. The two stories intersect in some very interesting ways, but each stands well on its own. I don’t think I can pick which one I enjoyed reading more!

There is a lot of worldbuilding to absorb, especially at the beginning, so it did take a bit to orient myself. The world has a detailed history since the story spans a thousand years, and we are given snippets of the rise and fall of several “ages.” But that’s not to say the book is slow. It’s almost non-stop conflict and action the entire time, and the stakes are always increasing and evolving.

I listened to the FURYBORN audiobook, which happened to be narrated by Fiona Hardingham (who narrates Laia’s POV in the stellar EMBER IN THE ASHES audiobooks), and loved every second. I’m a big fan of morally gray characters, and this book gave me a giant cast of them to love. The wait until May 2019 for book two is going to be a long one!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Review: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was everything I hoped it would be (and more). Written from alternating POVs of twins Adina and Tovah, YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE follows the growing emotional distance between the two sisters as they are tested for Huntington's, the degenerative disease slowly killing their mother. One twin tests negative, the other tests positive. And from there, everything changes.

The first 75 pages of this book (the lead-up to the test and diagnosis) drained me emotionally because I immediately became attached to both Adina and Tovah. Adina plays the viola and is auditioning for conservatories, while Tovah has been striving for admission to Johns Hopkins with the goal of becoming a surgeon. Adina is rebellious and has fallen away from her family's Jewish faith after her mother's diagnosis, while Tovah keeps kosher and relies heavily on her faith. Both girls are ambitious and flawed. They don't fit neatly into stereotype boxes (my review doesn't do justice at describing how fully fleshed out they are), and I adored them both. Their voices are distinct and strong in first person POV - even if the chapters hadn't been labeled with the narrator's name, I would still know who was speaking.

This is a sister story. A family story. A coming-of-age story. It is not a medical drama where the disease is the star and the characters are its victims. This is a book about people and the choices they make, the things they want. Loved, loved, LOVED this one.

(Trigger warning for self-harm and suicidal thoughts.)

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hello from the NaNoWriMo cave!

Just popping in to say I've been participating in NaNoWriMo this month. To my unending surprise, it's going well. Let's hope I don't jinx it!

Happy writing, my fellow crazies!



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