2017: Reading in Review

I did not read as much this year as I had hoped and I blogged even less than that.

2017 has brought some real highs for me: The Seafarer's Kiss, my first real heart-book, was published. I went to more conferences than ever before. I went to New Zealand! But it's also brought some serious lows. I spent a lot of the first part of the year depressed over the election. I had hoped to move back to the US this year or next, but the reality is that I would not feel safe moving back with my partner given the climate, and my pre-existing health conditions mean that I need to stay somewhere that doesn't treat people with chronic conditions like dirt. My health this year degenerated to the point that I needed to temporarily leave full-time work in order to address it. That has been the hardest.

This year, I read only 61 books. Last year, I read 117. I did meet my goal to read more books by POC. I read 19/61 books by authors of color, or approximately 30%. 

Each year, I fill in the survey started by The Broke and the Bookish about my favourite reads. So here goes!


Reading Statistics

Number of Books Read: 61

Number of Re-Reads: 0

Genre You Read the Most: YA Fantasy 




(1) Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

(2) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

(3) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake


(1) Best Book you read in 2017?



Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust


(2) Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?

The Jungle by Pooja Puri


3. Most surprising (in a good way) book you read?  

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James


4. Book You “Pushed” the Most People to Read (And They Did)?

Shattered Minds by Laura Lam


5. Best series you started in 2017?

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire


6. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery


7. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James


8. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi


9. Most memorable character of 2017?

A tie between Mina in Girls Made of Snow and Glass and Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer

10. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor


11. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


13. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!):

Bells and Emma

Not Your Villain by CB Lee


14. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 from an Author You’ve Read Previously:

Now I Rise by Kiersten White


15. Best Book You Read in 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Updraft by Fran Wilde


16. Best 2017 debut you read?

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust


17. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


18. Book That Put a Smile on Your Face/Was the Most FUN to Read?

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic by FT Lukens


19. Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2017?

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Philips


21. Hidden Gem of the Year?

Snowsisters by Tom Wilinksy and Jen Sternick

22. Most Unique Book You Read in 2017?

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James


Looking Ahead to 2018

1. One Book (two books) You Didn’t Get to in 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

3. Book You Are Most Anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)?

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend to Everyone:


Welcome to the Hunt!


Hi Everyone! Welcome to my stop on the YA Scavenger Hunt Spring 2017. You are currently on the trail of the Blue Team.

My name is Julia Ember and I am the author of Unicorn Tracks and upcoming Seafarer's Kiss (May 2017) and Tiger's Watch (August 2017)

I'm really excited to host Amy Plum, bestselling author of Die for Me, as she talks about her new book, Dream Fall! I've also got an exclusive giveaway for you to enter at the end of this post! 


First, a little bit about Amy …

After being raised in Birmingham, Alabama, in a rather restrictive environment, AMY PLUM escaped to Chicago to an even more restrictive environment at a university that expelled people for dancing. (And where she was called to the dean’s office for “wearing too much black”.) After all of that restrictiveness, she was forced to run far far away, specifically to Paris, France, where she only wore black and danced all she wanted.

After five years in Paris, she ventured to London, where she got an M.A. in Medieval Art History, specializing in Early Sienese Painting (1260-1348) mainly because it promised almost no hope of finding a paying job afterward.

Amy managed to find work in the world of art and antiques in New York. But after almost a decade of high-pressure lifestyle in the Big Apple, she swapped her American city for a French village of 1300 inhabitants.

After signing with HarperCollins for the DIE FOR ME series, Amy left her job as an English professor at Tours University to write full-time. She now lives in Paris with her two kids and her black lab, Oberon.

You can follow Amy on Twitter by clicking here!

And now to give you 61 reasons to read her new book …

Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse…but she was terribly wrong.

Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

School Library Journal's verdict: "A definite purchase for libraries serving younger sci-fi and horror fans, who will be eagerly waiting for the sequel.”




Special Content

For her special content, Amy has prepared an exclusive youtube reading. Check it out below! Amy’s reading is dramatic and wonderful. She could definitely read her own audiobooks. Click and listen! 😀




Special Giveaway

Before you leave this page to go your next stop on the hunt, enter the rafflecopter giveaway below! The winner will receive a paperback copy of Seafarer's Kiss as well as one other book from the blue team! Winner's choice on the second title!

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About the Hunt

You can continue the hunt by heading on over to Margo Kelly's blog! Make sure you make a note of the secret number hidden in this post so you can add it to your total.



The Seafarer’s Kiss: Excerpt

Recently, I promised my Twitter followers that when The Seafarer's Kiss reached 1k+ adds to GoodReads TBRs, I would post an excerpt. 

Well, that goal was smashed in under three days! Let me just say, I am basically overjoyed and overwhelmed by the excitement for this book. Seafarer is my baby: a book that is about a bisexual fat mermaid, who is in so many ways like me. It's about her journey to love and self-discovery, and about the difference between things that appear monstruous and things that actually are. 


(click to see cover in more detail)

The Seafarer's Kiss will be available from Interlude Press on May 4th 2017. 

If you are not one of the 1k+ who added it to GoodReads, you can do so here:






The beluga pod was swimming in lazy corkscrews between the shallower coastal sea bottom and their breathing hole in the ice. The matriarch glided toward me like a blubbery ghost. A deep silver scar, the result of an encounter with an ice bear, framed her eye. She bumped her nose against my open palm in greeting, and I felt guilty that I hadn’t brought them any fish from our stores. The belugas always struggled in the deepest part of winter, when the schools of fish dwindled and the pod had to stay close to their surfacing hole. I grasped the whale’s dorsal ridge, and she pulled me up toward the sun.

Something thin and sharp darted into the water.

 A juvenile whale dove, keening in pain and leaving a trail of blood behind him. The other belugas ducked under the surface. The matriarch hesitated; bubbles escaped from her lips. After a long moment, another group of juveniles rose to breathe. The stick pierced the water again, narrowly missing an ivory tail.

Murmuring to their leader, the whales huddled beneath the surface. They needed air, and the creatures took turns churning the water to keep the ice from freezing over their opening. They couldn’t afford to wait long before surfacing again.

The belugas were too peaceful to fight whatever attacked them from above. They feared the white bears that prowled the ice, just waiting to drag them onto land. But I needed the sun almost as badly as they needed the air. I wasn’t about to cower beneath the water. The object looked like a harpoon of sorts, not a bear claw. If one of the younger mermen sat on the ice taunting the whales, he was about to get a piece of my mind.

Squinting at the glittery surface, I studied the harpoon. It swirled impatient ripples in the ocean surface now. It had a silvery tip, tapered and serrated like a shark tooth.

My stomach dropped. Our spears had blades made from ice or mother-of-pearl. Only one creature made objects like this one. I recognized the blade from one of the items in my collection of human treasures. Had one of the sailors survived the shipwreck? It seemed unlikely that a fragile human could survive the cold water long enough to swim to the ice shelf without help, and yet… Maybe one of the merboys had taken the harpoon from the ship after it sank.

I swam under the turquoise blue of the shelf and hid just under the surface. Peering through the distorting ripples of ocean water, I studied the creature. Its face was half covered by a thick black mask of fur and frost. Its eyes moved constantly, but the water blurred the movements and I couldn’t tell where its gaze rested.

Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I poked my head above the waves. My hair, gone limp and heavy with the air weighing it down, instantly flopped across my face. I pushed it aside and looked at the human through a parted curtain of wet blue locks. Its rippled form came into focus, and, even under the animal furs, I could make out a tapered waist and curves. A female. She stared back at me; her brown eyes widened. Her crystal breath came fast behind her mask. Then, she screamed.

I froze in the water. The high-pitched sound chilled me worse than the cold sea. The human’s gaze drifted skyward, as if she prayed to Odin. Her scream grew louder and louder. I laid a hand on the edge of the ice, ready to hoist myself out and try to calm her, but her harpoon whizzed past my ear. I shrank back. The human still howled, but her eyes had taken on a predatory focus.

I grabbed the weapon by the shaft. The tip of the spear grazed my palm, making a shallow cut. I ignored the pain. Easing back into the water, I stopped kicking my fins to stay afloat. My body sank deeper, and I kept my grip on the weapon.

With nothing to grab, the human couldn’t steady herself on the slick ice. She let the harpoon go, and I dropped it into the ocean; I hissed as salt water lapped against the wound on my palm. As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.

The belugas’ leader swam under me and nudged me up over the ice’s lip. The sudden weight of my body as the whale pushed me into the air made me groan with exhaustion. The human girl scurried backward. Even though her feet slipped clumsily on the ice, she put distance between us as fast as she could.

I wanted to study her, but glorious sunlight coated my scales. I tilted my head back as the heat seeped into me, making me drunk and dizzy with pleasure. The human watched me silently from twenty feet away. My body gleamed from my head to the tips of my fins; each of my scales glistened like gemstones. I should have been concerned about the human, but the blast of heat inside me blocked fear. As soon as I ate, all would be well again.

When my scales reached their absorption capacity, the fog in my mind started to clear. Usually, I might crawl inland and look for foxes to watch. But today, I didn’t dare stray too far from the water. If the human was brave enough to hunt a whale, I didn’t want to leave myself too vulnerable. I lay back on the ice and kept my eyes trained on the girl.

 I’d never seen a female among the drowned bodies that littered the northern seafloor. How had she survived the shipwreck? She looked so small and fragile compared to the sailor I’d tried to save. How had she made it back to the surface and through the cold water when he could not?

She continued to scoot backward across the ice. My gaze followed her to a makeshift cave of splintered wood and wet furs. She must have saved some things from the ship, which might explain her survival. Crawling inside the shelter, the human braced another harpoon across her knees and squared her shoulders as if daring me to come closer. But the hostility in her posture didn’t quite hide the look of wonder in her wide brown eyes.




2016: Reading in Review

I READ SO MANY GOOD BOOKS THIS YEAR. I finished 2015 wondering how I could possibly read more than 68 books in a calendar year. HA HA HA HA. I read almost double that this year, though I highly doubt I can beat that next year with two book releases. 

These questions are from The Broke and the Bookish. Yes, I selectively picked from the questions. Sometimes because I had no answer and other times because I COULD NOT DECIDE.


Here are my 2016 reading statistics and favourites. 


Reading Statistics

Number of Books Read: 119 (as of 12/31)

Number of Re-Reads: 0

Genre You Read the Most: YA Fantasy 




YA Fantasy: 

THE CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo (Pub. 2016)

Runner Up:  THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Pub. 2016)


YA Sci-Fi:  

CONSIDER by Kristy Acevedo (Pub. 2016)

Runner Up: INTO THE DIM by Janet Butler Taylor (Pub. 2016)


YA Historical:

AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White (Pub. 2016)


YA Contemporary: 

GIRL IN PIECES by Kathleen Glasgow (Pub. 2016)

Runner Up: JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert


YA Paranormal/Magical Realism:  

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (Pub. 2011)


Adult Romance: 

FOR REAL by Alexis Hall (Pub. 2015)

Runner Up:  SUTPHIN BOULEVARD by Santino Hassell (Pub. 2014)


(1) Best Book you read in 2016?


(2) Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  


4. Book You “Pushed” the Most People to Read (And They Did)?


5. Best series you started in 2016?

6. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

 7. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

8. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

9. Most memorable character of 2016?


10. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

I could be a total pedant here and POINT OUT that books written in 2016 probably won't hit the shelves until late 2017 early 2018 at the earlier, but I won't.

11. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

(there is a theme here!)


12. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

13. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!):

Nina and Matthias from Crooked Kingdom/Six of Crows


14. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 from an Author You’ve Read Previously:


15. Best Book You Read in 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

… and now I am a Santino fangirl for life.


16. Best 2016 debut you read?

17. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

18. Book That Put a Smile on Your Face/Was the Most FUN to Read?

19. Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2016?

20. Hidden Gem of the Year?

21. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

22. Most Unique Book You Read in 2016?

23. Book That Made You the Most Mad?

This is an easy one, and I'm actually conflicted about posting it here because I don't want it to get ANY MORE advertising space than it already has. Don't get me wrong, as I think my favourites list proves, I am a pretty big m/m romance reader. But this book is a giant garbage fire. 

Not only are there massive consent issues between the protagonist / love interest, BUT the book casts a child sex slave in the role of antagonist. He's EIGHT YEARS OLD when he starts being abused, and yet, the author thinks it's appropriate to cast him as some kind of sex fiend deviant, who uses his TWELVE YEAR OLD body to ensnare older men? GROSS. GROSS. GROSS. FUCKING GROSS.




1. One Book (two books) You Didn’t Get to in 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

3. Book You Are Most Anticipating for 2017 (non-debut)?

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend to Everyone:

No cover yet, but I read Ava Jae's INTO THE BLACK (sequel to Beyond the Red) and it is fabulous.


#12DaysofDiversity — Special Story: The Flower by KS Trenton

KS Trenton will be taking over my blog today with a very special post. Initially, we thought that she would write something for Fairest, but ongoing troubles with Torquere Press and their unfair treatment of authors, inspired KS to go in a different direction with her post. I'm really glad she did, as this short story is magical! 

Welcome! Troubles with Torquere has made it impossible to do the post on ‘Fairest’ I originally planned to do, alas. Instead I offer you this tale of Death and rebirth, popular themes during the winter. It’s a re-telling of the myth of Perspehone and Hades. Many of the goddesses were female, before they were turned into Olympians. It seemed only fair to return the favor. 🙂 Not to mention I love taking a story about an Olympian ravaging a goddess and turning into a surreal myth of f/f.  🙂

This story was inspired by Lynn Stirling’s video, ‘Take Flight’. It was used as a writing prompt in a writing group I’m involved with. I got carried away. 🙂 I shared part of it with the group and posted Parts 2 and 3 at my Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration and my Facebook Author Page earlier this year. I’m now sharing the entire thing with you.



A flower enters the window, bringing the sweet scent of the earth and skin with it. All the things that dwell on the surface.


Perhaps Zeu is in a pleasant mood. She can be lovely, bringing sunshine, or even healing rain, making everything cheerful, when she does.


However, her mood can change in an instant. Sweetness can turn to wrath, bringing the rain and thunder. The Trojans learned to fear her mood swings, when she hurled a stone from Mount Olympus down on their city, killing one of their princes. The Trojans like to pretend the prince lived. That he was carried up by a handsome sky god to be his cup bearer. No one wants to admit how fickle the sky can truly be. No cup bearer would last long around my sister.


Wait, there’s something strange about this flower. I take it to my desk, so I can examine it.


When I do, a light shines under the doorway in the fragile reality I’ve created around me. As Hade, an incarnation of death, things tend to break down in my presence. Usually they wither and crumble into ash. They don’t glow.


That’s what’s strange. The flower is still fresh and fragrant. It hasn’t withered in my hands, as all things do.


I leave the desk, going to door. I open it to face what awaits on the other side. Light, yes, the same light so many of my subjects see, before they come to me.


I grab my cloak and go out into that light. It fades, flickering, as I enter its domain. Retreating, as I advance. The endless series of staircases, which make up each mortal’s life await me. There’s no point in being distracted by all of these little journeys. I leap off the edge, passing through the various spans of human existence. They cannot touch me, yet I’m a part of every one of them. I acknowledge this, trying not to get distracted by the tiny, unique details of each staircase. They could absorb my attention for centuries, if I’m not careful.

I’m already being diverted. I musn’t let the stairs catch my eye. It’s the light I want to follow. I rise from the floor, forcing myself to focus, to stand. Once more, I head towards the light.


It’s coming from a candle. Just a single candle, burning a little brighter than the rest. A mortal moment, rendered glorious by a single deed which inspired countless other mortals. I glance at it, before I open another door. A light creeps under its frame. Perhaps it’s the light I seek.


I emerge into a city. The flower is before me. My breath is beginning to wither it, but not before it takes flight. I decide to chase it. Maybe it will lead me to the light I truly desire.


I run up the side of the building, as a sun sends slanting rays towards me. Helia is feeling sleepy, right now. She won’t be able to keep her fiery eyes open. It’s best not too look into them for long. Besides, her deadly, life-giving rays are not the ones I’m searching for.


I leap upward, letting the wind take me. This is putting myself into Zeu’s hands, a perilous gambit. I alternately fly and freefall, before landing on the side of a building, again.


The flower is flying, dancing on the wind. I leap upward, trying to catch it in my hand. I’m truly flying now, through the air. Zeu must have noticed me. My fingers close over the flower’s stem, as I pass out of the city into the air.


No, I will not be controlled by you, sister. I will my city of dark and ghostly stone to emerge, to materialize beneath my feet. I can see the River Styx, pale with the souls of the forgetful, merging with Zeu’s mist. My ferryboat is tethered to the sideways skyscraper, waiting for me. I step into it.


The river is disappearing into sky and cloud. My sister is trying to change the landscape into one she controls. I decide to play her game. I start rowing my ferry out into the Styx, which is transforming into clouds.


Helia’s eye burns bright for one moment, before it closes. Darkness follows. I catch a glimpse of something shining….there! On the edge of the horizon, flickering. Could it be the light I seek?


It’s getting dark. I can barely see, until forks of lightning illuminate my way.

Is Zeu trying to help me, or strike me down? You can never tell with her.  Rain follows, weeping fat drops, which come near, without touching me. Did I make my sister cry, without realizing it?


The flower takes flight, rising into the air, as if it can’t wait to get away from me. I search for it, but all I can see is the rain, the clouds, and the lightning illuminating all of it.


Something dark looms overhead. Its force pulls me out of my ferryboat, although I cling to its sides. What has that kind of power? The darkness is usually obedient to my wishes.


I flip through the air, parted from my boat. My hands and feet connect with a ladder, dangling from the darkness.


Is this another whim of Zeu’s? Is she trying to help me? Or is all of this her doing? Lightning and thunder are her weapons. Perhaps the darkness is merely giant storm clouds, running around, doing her bidding, like a pack of well trained dogs.


I climb down the ladder to the cold earth. Light rushes up around me, the gleam of a cold, pitiless day. Helia has opened her eyes, again, but she’s not in a good mood. The earth is green, though. New life is emerging from it. Wet and damp, I regard my surroundings, as I start walking.


My darkness is coming to meet me, accompanied by the light of a thousand, special mortal moments. This is the only illumination everyone can see. I reach for one instant, delighted by its brightness.


Can it be? Was this the light I was seeking all along? Not the universal brightness, but just one unique flame?


A flower is growing out of the earth. I can feel Tartarus, creeping up around me, all hissing, heated stone. It doesn’t make this single blossom any less precious, or beautiful.


I kneel beside it, cupping it with my hand.


“Persephone,” I whisper, giving it, no, her, a name.


The endless candles are flickering in my darkness. A door stands before me. It’s a familiar door. I stare at it, feeling weary, tired, as my existence calls me back to myself.


I walk forward. Every step is heavy, which takes me away from my flower. Eventually, I reach the door. I open it.


My room exists, the room I created for myself from mortal imagination and loneliness. A thousand lights are dancing, swirling in the air around me. A thousand mad dreams, a thousand mad hopes.


I watch them for a moment. I let myself be entranced by them. All of them are streaking towards a door, another door. The final door, which awaits everyone. Perhaps even me.


I turn away from it. In the end, the God of Death is no different than anyone else. Afraid of that final door. Willing to emerge myself in a thousand trivial distractions rather than face the final mystery head on.


A thousand open books lay around my apartment. Pictures of the sky and the stairs have already been captured within them. Snap shot moments of experience, trapped in paper. You’d think I’d know better than to try to capture them. I, of all creatures, should know how transient they are. However, like many others, I want those moments to last. I’ll cheat, do anything I can to try to keep them.


A bunch of flowers await me in a vase. Including her. Persephone. She stands in the center, putting to shame all the other delicate blossoms with her beauty.


I walk towards her, wanting to admire her, to keep her for myself. However, she can only last in this realm for so long.


In the meantime, that realm requires its queen.


If you enjoyed this story and would like to connect with KS, please do so via the following links!

The Cauldrons of Eternal Inspiration at inspirationcauldron.wordpress.com, inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com, and cauldronkeeper.livejournal.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KS-Trenten-1508958289406654/?ref=page_internal

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/KSTrenten

@Goodreads as K.S. Trenten

@Twitter as https://twitter.com/rhodrymavelyne

@tumblr as http://rhodrymavelyne.tumblr.com/

#12DaysofDiversity — 5 Questions with Sarah Ockler

As part of the #12DaysofDiversity Readathon event, I've invited several authors to visit the blog over the next two weeks to talk about their books!

Today we welcome Sarah Ockler, author of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids! Sarah started writing the manuscript for this dynamic, contemporary retelling when she was in high school! She has also generously donated a signed paperback of the book! Giveaway details at the end of the interview! 


Questions with Sarah … 

1) The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a retelling of the Little Mermaid What drew you to that story in particular? 

In high school, I actually wrote a pseudo-retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen version in verse form! Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to share it. 🙂 But when I first set out to work on Elyse's story, I wasn't thinking of it in terms of a retelling. I knew that I wanted to explore denial of voice issues, especially among girls and women, and what it means when the thing that most defines you is suddenly gone. I was also ready to go back to the beach with my characters, which I hadn't done since my first novel in 2009. As I started daydreaming about Elyse and the ocean and how I wanted to bring her to life on the page, the connections to The Little Mermaid started bubbling to the surface pretty quickly!

2) Without giving too many spoilers away, do you think that The Summer of Chasing Mermaids stays true to the tone and themes present in Little Mermaid or does it invert them?

A little of both! In re-imagining the fairy tale for the novel, I didn’t want to do a straight retelling in which the main character is a mermaid in a fantasy undersea setting. Instead, I wanted to evoke the overall feeling of the story about a young woman on the verge of adulthood, venturing out on her own for the first time, dealing with immense tragedy and personal obstacles, and of course, falling in love—in a contemporary realistic setting, but still with a sense of magic, wonder, and possibility throughout. I definitely took inspiration from both the original and the Disney version for this, but for the most part, I tried to subvert a lot of the themes and tropes present in both. 

The original fairy tale is quite dark, and doesn't have a happy ending for the poor little mermaid! Conversely, the Disney version isn't all that dark, but is rampantly misogynistic, both in the treatment of Ariel and in the portrayal of other women in the story. In The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, I wanted to let Elyse decide her own fate, make her own mistakes, and ultimately follow her own heart, regardless of what others may have wanted for her. I also wanted to portray strong, positive female friendships and complex women who had their own desires, goals, and lives outside of the boys and men in their lives. And in my story, the witch is a good one — I wanted to show that women can be powerful in their own right, and that feminine energy and power doesn't equate with evil or corruption. *That's* a trope I'm ready to see eradicated from books and movies alike! 

3) What challenges did writing a retelling present compared with your previous published novels?

At first, I was trying too hard to "stick to the script" rather than allowing my own imagination to take over, and that resulted in flat writing, self-doubt, and endless tears of frustration. Once I started to understand the difference between being directed or boxed in by the original stories versus being simply *inspired* by them, I was free to let my imagination run wild. There were still lots of challenges — writing from the perspective of a character from a different culture, race, and country; writing first person narration for a character who can't speak; developing an authentic romance that doesn't overshadow Elyse's personal transformation but becomes part of it. But once I found my passion for the writing again, I was able to deal with the other story challenges without so many tears!

4) Do you have a favourite retelling written by another author?

One of my favorites is Ash by Malinda Lo! But believe it or not, I haven't actually read many retellings. I'm just now starting to get into them, and the two that are at the top of my TBR list are The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh and Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I've also got Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber on deck. I think 2017 might be the year of feminist fairy tale retellings on my bookshelf!

5) What are you working on next?

I am working on a dark psychological thriller, a secret project about witches, and a vampire romance (I know! It's crazy, right? Nothing like my previous books, but I am really enjoying the change and looking forward to sharing more about these stories when I can!)



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#12DaysofDiversity — 5 Questions with Robin Talley

As part of the #12DaysofDiversity Readathon event, I've invited several authors to visit the blog over the next two weeks to talk about their books!

I'm really excited to welcome Robin Talley to the blog today! Robin has written several amazing LGBTQ books for YA audiences, including one of my personal favourites, Lies We Tell Ourselves. She's here today to talk about her latest book, As I Descended, which is a queer, paranormal, modern reinterpretation of Macbeth!! 



Questions with Robin … 

1) As I Descended is a retelling of Macbeth. What drew you to that story in particular? 

Macbeth has been my favorite Shakespeare play ever since I first read it in high school. I think what always struck me the most about it was the fact that it had such a strong and memorable female lead. Lady Macbeth is horrible, but she's fascinatingly so. I was intrigued by the idea of exploring a character and a relationship dynamic like that, in the context of a f/f relationship. Plus, I've been wanting to write a paranormal story for ages, and this was the perfect excuse. 🙂

2) Without giving too many spoilers away, do you think that As I Descended stays true to the tone and themes present in Macbeth or does it invert them?​

I think As I Descended uses a lot of the same themes, but there are definite differences, too. Macbeth is an incredibly dark play, and the stakes are extremely high — the fate of a kingdom is effectively up for grabs, and the events of the play lead to a huge, bloody war with countless deaths. As I Descended doesn't go quite that far in terms of epic-ness — it's a much more personal story.

3) What challenges did writing a retelling present compared with your previous published novels?

The tricky thing for me with writing a retelling was figuring out how to navigate each character's motivations to follow the basic plot arc of the original. Since Macbeth takes place in war-torn medieval Scotland and my book takes place at a modern southern boarding school, it was tough to figure out how to get my characters into a similar mental place to Shakespeare's originals. That said, though, I loved working within the structure of the original play. It made me want to write all my books with a five-act structure from now on. 

4) Do you have a favourite retelling written by another author? 

There are so many! But this year I freaking LOVED Exit Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston, a retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. It's an amazing feminist contemporary story that addresses rape culture in a really unique and powerful way.

5) What are you working on next?

My next book actually comes out in just over a month! It's a happy f/f contemporary romance called Our Own Private Universe. This book has been a ton of fun to work on because my goal from the beginning was to write the book I wished I'd had as a teenager — which was a book just like Judy Blume's Forever, but about queer girls. It'll be out Jan. 31 in the U.S. and Feb. 9 in the U.K.





#12DaysofDiversity – 5 Questions with Brie Spangler

As part of the #12DaysofDiversity Readathon event, I've invited several authors to visit the blog over the next two weeks to talk about their books!

Kicking us off, is Brie Spangler, author of recently published Beast — a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a trans love interest. I've heard great things about this book and it's on my reading list for the Readathon! 



Questions with Brie … 

1) Beast is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast. What drew you to that story in particular? 

Of all the fairytales out there, this is the only one that has captivated me throughout my whole life. Most of them I was like meh, but Beauty and the Beast grabbed me at an early age and never let go.

2) Without giving too many spoilers away, do you think that Beast stays true to the tone and themes present in Beauty in the Beast or does it invert them?

It definitely isn't a faithful retelling. It's more the essence of the story, there's a beast and a beauty and they meet, but that's kindof where it begins and ends. It's Eau de Beauty and the Beast.

3) You've previously published books aimed at much younger audience, what new challenges did writing for teens present?

I actually think writing picture books was harder! It's really hard to put all those feelings and emotions into 32 pages, whereas with a novel you have 300 pages to explore your thoughts and themes. Plus, I remember a lot about high school, so I can draw upon those memories with more ease than I can from when I was very little. I really enjoy the challenges of both picture books and novels, but I feel most passionately for writing YA. Contemporary teens are my jam.

4) Do you have a favourite retelling written by another author? 

Most recently I loved AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley. Loved her Macbeth retelling!

5) What are you working on next?

Working on a story inspired by the time I accidentally won a pageant… excuse me, a scholarship program… in high school.





#12DaysofDiversity — Lineup and Scoreboard!




I am so excited that the time for the event is almost upon us! Lots of readers signed up, so it looks like this will be a very competitive readathon — at least where winning is prizes is concerned. 

If you can't remember the categories or you're struggling for things to read, definitely checkout the signup post, which has lists of books to encourage you!

Over the next few weeks, I will keep this page up to date with links to reviews and instagram posts provided by each of the participants. It will also serve as a masterlist of posts and interviews by guest authors throughout the event! 

If you missed the signup window, but are desperate to participate, please email me! 🙂 



Guest Post List 

I am so excited about the lineup of guest posts and interviews for this event.

As the posts appear, I will post a link here, but stay tuned for Brie Spangler, Robin Talley, C.B. Lee, Sarah Ockler and Kari Trenton!

I will also be posting a sneak preview of my 2017 Bi Norse Little Mermaid retelling, The Seafarer's Kiss.


5 Questions with Brie Spangler

5 Questions with Robin Talley

5 Questions with Sarah Ockler + Giveaway!

Exclusive Short Story by KS Trenton: THE FLOWER


Participants and Scores 

To update your scores list, please leave a comment with the book title and a link to your review! Reviews must be cross-posted to GoodReads and at least one retailer website to count towards the Badass Santa award! Reindeer readers can display on blog alone if they like. 




In totalling up everyone's score, I used the following point scheme:

Full Review – 50pts, DNF over 40% – 40pts, DNF over 20% – 20pts, Instagram – 10pts


BADASS SANTA — Jamie from Books and Ladders with 1020 pts

Runner Up: Rebecca from Reading Wishes with 860 pts

Reindeer Randomly Picked Winner — Sydney from Books of Kings 

Instagram Winner – Louise from Foxes and Fairy Tales

Review Winner — Rebecca from Reading Wishes 


The prizes for Reindeer/Badass Santa are as posted on the original post. If the winners will please EMAIL me their shipping addresses via the contact form, as well as which bookshop you would like to receive your credit. 

I've decided that for the Instagram/Review winner, where I did not post the prize, that I will buy you the book of your choice (up to £15/$20) from the Book Depository. Please also email your shipping address! 

Thank you so so much to everyone who participated. I hope you had fun! <3 



        Published 2016: BEAST by Brie Spangler 


        POC Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        LGBTQIA Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Non-Western Setting: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Small Publisher: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Instagram Posts: 




        Published 2016:  BEAST by Brie Spangler 


        NORA AND KETTLE by Lauren Nicolle Taylor


        POC Protagonist:  STREET LOVE by Walter Dean Myers 




         SHADOWS ON THE MOON by Zoe Marriot 


        OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine


        LGBTQIA Protagonist: THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE by Neill Gaiman


       FAIREST by KS Trenton 


        LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING by Francesa Lia Block 


       THE ISLAND OF EXCESS by Francesa Lia Block




        Non-Western Setting: THE FORBIDDEN WISH by Jessica Khoury 




        Small Publisher: MARIAN by Ella Lyons 


        MAD ABOUT THE HATTER by Dakota Chase


       CHAR by Kristina Wojtazek 


      THE INTERIM GODDESS OF LOVE by Mina Esguerra 




       QUEEN OF CLUELESS by Mina Esguerra




        Instagram Posts: 













        Published 2016: AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley 


        POC Protagonist: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin 



        LGBTQIA Protagonist:  Hunting Monsters by SL Huang


        Non-Western Setting: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell 


        Small Publisher:  SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE by CB LEE


        Wildcard: A Thousand Nights by EK Johnson


        Instagram Posts: 



        Published 2016: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        POC Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        LGBTQIA Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Non-Western Setting: THE FORBIDDEN WISH by Jessica Khoury


        Small Publisher: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Instagram Posts: 



        Published 2016: AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley


        POC Protagonist: CHAR by KRISTINA WOJTASZEK 




        Non-Western Setting: THE 99th BRIDE by Catherine F. King


        Small Publisher: HUNTING MONSTERS by SL Huang 


   MARIAN by Ella Lyons


      WILDCARD: Fairest by KS Trenton 


        Instagram Posts: 





        Published 2016: THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi 




        LGBTQIA Protagonist:  ASH by Malinda Lo 




        Non-Western Setting: The Wrath and the Dawn 


        Small Publisher: The 99th Bride by Catherine F King


       Wildcard: HUNTING MONSTERS by SL Huang 


       WildCard:  A THOUSAND NIGHTS by EK Johnson 


       Wildcard: THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE by Neill Gaiman 


      THE FORBIDDEN WISH by Jessica Khoury 


      SHADOWS ON THE MOON by Zoe Marriot 


        Instagram Posts:







        Published 2016: THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi




        LGBTQIA Protagonist:BEAST by Brie Spangler 


        Non-Western Setting: THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER by Renee Ahdieh 


        Small Publisher:  MARIAN by Ella Lyons 


        Instagram Posts:



        Published 2016: THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi 


        POC Protagonist: STREET LOVE by Walter Dean Myers


        NORA AND KETTLE by Lauren Nicolle Taylor 


        LGBTQIA Protagonist: MARIAN by ELLA LYONS


        AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley


        SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeleine Miller 


        Non-Western Setting: A THOUSAND NIGHTS by E.K. Johnson 


        Small Publisher: RULES OF EVER AFTER by Killian Brewer


        Instagram Posts:







        Published 2016:  BOUND BY BLOOD AND SAND by Becky Allen 


        POC Protagonist: A Thousand Nights by EK Johnson 


        LGBTQIA Protagonist: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neill Gaiman


        Non-Western Setting: A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON by Samantha Mabry 


        Small Publisher: MAD ABOUT THE HATTER by Dakota Chase 


        Instagram Posts:








        Published 2016: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        POC Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        LGBTQIA Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Non-Western Setting: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Small Publisher:  MARIAN by Ella Lyons


        Wildcard: VASSA IN THE NIGHT by Sarah Porter 


        Instagram Posts:


ADRIYANNA FROM Life Writings of a Reader

        Published 2016: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        POC Protagonist:



        LGBTQIA Protagonist: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Non-Western Setting: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Small Publisher: [Book & Review Link TBA]

        Instagram Posts:



REBECCA FROM Reading Wishes

        Published 2016: THE FORBIDDEN WISH by Jessica Khoury 


        AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White


        POC Protagonist: THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Abdieh 


        LGBTQIA Protagonist: BEAST by Brie Spangler 


       THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE by Neill Gaiman 


        Non-Western Setting:  THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER






       FAIREST by KS Trenton 


        Small Publisher: MARIAN by Ella Lyons


       HUNTING MONSTERS by SL Huang 


        WILDCARD: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids 


        The 99th Bride


      THE RULES OF EVER AFTER by Killian Brewer




        Instagram Posts:







Halloween Trick or Treat Blog Hunt!

It's almost Halloween — possibly one of the most literary holidays around! Or at least one of my favourites because I love dark and macabre reads. Today, you have the chance to win a prize! Jodie Andrefski has organised a 13-author treat bag full of books, candy and swag for a lucky winner. 



Take a look at everything you can win in this amazing treat bag: 



Visit each of the THIRTEEN participating author websites. You will find the name of the candy/treat they are giving away, as well as what BOOK they are offering as part of the PRIZE PACK!  Be sure to write down the name of the treat, you’ll need it later.

Each author will provide a link to the next author website on the hunt. 

When you have collected the names of all 13 author “TREATS”, head on over to complete the Trick or Treat Hunt Page Google Forms doc and enter the correct treat next to the corresponding author name.

You can enter for BONUS chances to win via this Rafflecopter too! Follow the authors on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and leave blog comments to add to your winning chances!




An awesome black canvas tote bag with a cool skull, filled with each of the books noted below as well as bookmarks and other great book swag. You will also win all of the treats that the author’s list on their pages PLUS a bunch of other candy treats all in a black plastic cauldron. You’ll even get the cute little plastic skulls shown in the prize photo!


Dorothy Dreyer – SCARE ME TO SLEEP 

Jodie Andrefski – THE SOCIETY 


Julie Reece – THE ARTISANS 

Nina Rossing – FJORD BLUE 




Suzanne van Rooyen – OBSCURA BURNING 
Vanessa Barneveld – THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE 

Vicki Weavil – FACSIMILE 

The contest runs from Friday October 28th, 2016 through Midnight, October 31st, 2016 (EST)

The winner will be announced November 1st. Contest is US only.



My prize is a paperback copy of Unicorn Tracks! This is my first novel and tells the story of safari guide Mnemba and researcher Kara as they struggle to save endangered unicorns from poachers and try not to fall in love with each other! 

There are a lot of scary mythical creatures in Nazwimbe, including carnivorous mermaids and giant chimeras — perfect as a Halloween Read! 😀

My TREAT is delicious skittles! Rainbow coloured and full of unicorn love.



To continue the Hunt … head on over to Nina Rossing's blog!