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!



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Preoccupation with Taylor Swift's Underwear & How Her Assault Trial Challenges the Victim-Blaming Mindset

Resurrecting my long-dormant blog to say that HerCampus published an article I wrote about Taylor Swift's sexual assault trial.

In the past 24 hours, I have given a disturbing amount of thought to Taylor Swift’s underwear. Or rather, her lack of underwear. The logistics of the entire situation surrounding her alleged assault at a 2013 meet-and-greet sent me combing through Twitter for articles and live tweets and photos.


Read the full article here.



Note: I submitted the article before the jury ruled in her favor, so I would like to add my sincere hope that she frames her $1 and displays it proudly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Currently: Hamilton Edition

It's time to link up with Katy Upperman once again for a "Currently" post. Here's what I'm currently...
 
 
Loving
Hamilton! I knew the entire world was obsessed with this Broadway show, but I put off listening to it for the longest time. I don’t know anything about rap or hip-hop, so part of me was scared I wouldn’t like the show. OF COURSE I was wrong. The soundtrack is amazing, and I listen to it every day! The storytelling and writing are top notch, and the creator/star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is beyond talented (and seems SO genuine and kind).  
 
Reading
Trying to be more engaged with politics has led me to LIVING HISTORY, Hillary Clinton’s autobiography from 2004. I’m only sixty pages in, but her life has been super interesting to read about so far. She was the first student graduation speaker at her university (allowed, with much reservation, by the university president), and her speech was pretty polarizing. Afterward, she went for a swim in the lake by her dorm, and the university president ordered campus security to confiscate the clothes Hillary had left behind. Thankfully she was wearing a bathing suit, but she still had to go to the campus security office, dripping wet, to reclaim her clothes! The president said she regretted letting Hillary speak, but Hillary got much attention for her speech, and it helped open doors for her. I was stunned reading that part – what a petty university president!
 
Watching
 

The Hamilton cast performance from last Sunday’s Tony Awards. This is what finally convinced me to learn more about the show. This song has been stuck in my head ever since!
 
Listening To
One guess. Although, in addition to the Hamilton soundtrack, I’m listening to HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS on audiobook. Now that I’m older, different parts are striking a chord with me. Particularly the Muggle-born Registration Commission, where the (corrupted) Ministry of Magic requires all Muggle-borns to present themselves for registration and investigation. They are thought to have stolen magic if no magical relative can be traced in their bloodline. So relevant in today’s society.   
 
Thinking About
My mini-trip to Philly this Thursday with friends. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is being shown with live orchestra accompaniment, which sounds beyond cool! Does any movie have a score like Harry Potter? The music is THE BEST!
 
Anticipating
My copy of HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION is arriving in the mail today! Pictures and lyrics from the show, paired with footnotes from Lin-Manuel Miranda. I love peeking behind-the-scenes of Broadway!
 
Wishing
I hope you’ll check out my short story, “Holes to Fill.” The Passed Note published it in its first-ever issue last week!
 
 
Making Me Happy
Memories from last weekend’s NYC trip with two of my best friends! We explored Central Park (and rented a rowboat!), ate New York pizza/bagels/brunch, and saw The Lion King. The show was fantastic, of course! I saw it four years ago with my mom and brother, and there were things I’d forgotten about. It was fun to be surprised all over again.
 
 
 


That's what I've been up to! How about you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Currently: Writer Podcasts and all of the books!

It's time to link up with Katy Upperman once again for a "Currently" post. Here's what I'm currently...
 
 
Loving
Writing at Starbucks! I’ve never been much of a Starbucks gal, but a new one just opened three minutes from my work/gym. It’s huge, with a drive-thru and tons of seating, so I’ve started going there to write on weekends and once a week during my lunch break.
 
Reading
After meeting Morgan Matson and hearing her talk about road trips, I started craving a reread of AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR. I also read Rainbow Rowell’s CARRY ON. Not going to lie, I STRUGGLED through the first 75 pages (the Harry Potter references were everywhere and I’m kind of crazy overprotective of HP), but a switch flipped all of a sudden and I needed to keep going. The plot suddenly became its own, separate from HP, and I got pretty hooked!

 
I just finished SUMMER OF SLOANE by Erin L. Schneider, and oh man, am I craving a trip to the beach! This book is full of fantastic setting details, friendships, and the struggles of forgiveness. Put it in your beach bag for this summer!  


Watching
My brother and I are reinstating our Supernatural marathon, seasons 6-10 (and 11, if it’s on Netflix by the time we get there). It’s been difficult finding time to hang out since he and I are on opposite work schedules, but we squeezed in a few episodes over the weekend. 
 
Listening To
I’m back on my writer podcast kick, especially since Sarah Enni interviewed Morgan Matson for First Draft. I’ve also discovered 88 Cups of Tea, thanks to the Jenny Han episode. Next up is the episode with Leigh Bardugo!
 
Thinking About
Writing! I'm 23K into a new project, and it was a FAST 23K (words I thought I'd never say, EVER). I wrote a short story version, so a lot of the words have come from that, but still. I never thought I'd be here two weeks after starting the draft. I'm definitely going to come up on the short end of the word count, so I'm going to be shopping for some extra plotlines (more words I never thought I'd say!) in a few weeks, but I'm having tons of fun!

 
Anticipating
My short story “Holes To Fill” is being published in the first ever issue of the YA lit mag THE PASSED NOTE on June 15th. Not only am I over the moon about that, the magazine is hosting a Twitter chat at 6pm EST that day, and the contributors get to be part of it! If you’re interested in things like where I write and who would star in an adaptation of my story, check out @kaitlinbartlett, @ThePassedNote and #PassingNotes on June 15th!
 
Wishing
That next weekend would hurry up. I’m going to NYC with some friends from college! It’s been four years since I last visited New York…far too long!
 
Making Me Happy
I just posted my write-up from the Morgan Matson event I went to, and it was so fun reliving it in my mind!
 
 
That's all for me...what have you been up to lately?
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