Wednesday, November 14, 2018


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!

View all my reviews

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.)

View all my reviews

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...
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).  
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!

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!
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!
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...
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.
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!  

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!

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!
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?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Meeting Morgan Matson!

Morgan Matson is one of my all-time favorite contemporary authors. I never thought I’d get to meet her because she lives in California, so when I found out she was coming to Princeton for a signing, I flipped! She’s one of the most genuine writers I’ve ever met, and her event was the best author signing I’ve been to so far. Want to know why? Read on…
1.       She loves Twitter like the rest of us! Before the signing, I tweeted her this picture:
And she immediately tweeted back, prompting a discussion about soy milk in lattes (more on that later). During her talk about THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING, she said she came up with the idea for the book when Twitter went down for two hours and she was forced to go outside and walk around (“I kept trying to go on Twitter to complain about Twitter being down…”).

2.      She’s obsessed with Starbucks. The reason I drank the latte was because Morgan Instagrammed her usual Starbucks order, and I wanted to try it. It was delicious, of course, and Morgan talked me through the particulars (how many espresso shots for each beverage size, how the soy milk makes it sweeter...girl knows her Starbucks! I told her she’s now my Starbucks guru, and she said she was happy to take on that role) when we talked at the signing.

3.      She brought presents and prizes and Polaroids. She raffled off t-shirts and mix CDs and posters, gave everyone an UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING pouch, and took Polaroids with anyone who wanted one. You can tell she had SO MUCH FUN every second of her book tour.
4.      She took TONS of questions. “Guys, it’s my last stop! You guys probably have places to be, and I’m like ‘no!’” I asked her which item on the SYBG list would be the most difficult for her (“Kiss a stranger is a really bad idea! Like, I put that in the book so blithely, and I’m like, I really hope people aren’t going around doing this. You could get yourself in trouble! Or stealing something. I probably should’ve said that first.”) and the easiest (“Riding a horse would be easy for me, I used to ride horses.), and her top road trip tips (A solid playlist, the right kind of snacks—nothing that makes you sleepy-full, like donuts—and the right route. The drive needs to be nice to look at, or you’ll be miserable).  
5.      She was super honest about how tough it was to write children’s/YA in an MFA program. The New School, where she did her Master’s (and met Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian), has a great reputation for launching successful YA authors, but Morgan said the children’s writing program was not well-respected—or even acknowledged—by the fiction students.  I ran into the whole issue of genre snobbery during my MFA as well, and even though I’m a year out from the program, it still makes me doubt myself sometimes.
6.      She treated me like a real author. When I told her about my MFA, she kept saying, “That’s amazing! Congrats!” and asking what I’m writing now. We had a moment of appreciation for writing that “palate-cleanser” book, where you write it for yourself and then realize it might not be publishable. Morgan actually talks more about this in her episode of First Draft with Sarah Enni (an AMAZING YA writer podcast). She also told me to enjoy the writing process for my first book, because after you publish, you can’t get that back. Readers and editors and reviewers will always expect something from you after that. With your first book, she said, you can take your time and write it just for yourself. I respect Morgan so much as an author, and for her to treat me like a writing peer felt incredible. <3  

Other fun things I learned during the Q&A:

The girls on the cover of SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE are wearing Morgan’s actual clothes! She sent the cover designer a box of her stuff to show the vibe she was hoping for, and then they wound up wearing them for the shoot! The heart sunglasses, friendship bracelets, the shirt she “borrowed” from her grad school bestie and still hasn’t returned…guess the secret’s out! “When you’ve stolen something and it’s on a book cover, you really can’t pretend you lost it, like I’ve been pretending for the last two years…”

During her AMY & ROGER research road trip, she went to Graceland (by herself), and she said it’s like Disneyland—they make you pose for a picture on your way in. “But it was just me, so I’m standing by myself in front of this picture of the Graceland gates.” But she bought the deluxe pack and now has her solo Graceland picture on magnets, a postcard, and a ton of different sizes.
Morgan asked if she could take pictures of my annotated SYBG!
I had the best time at the signing. If you ever have the opportunity to see Morgan, go! You’ll leave with the biggest smile on your face and an overwhelming desire to take a road trip!
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