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 

 

Favourites

 

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.

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017

 

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 — Retelling Readathon Signup

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Hello and welcome to the sign-up post for the 12 Days of Diversity Readathon! I decided that I wanted to run another diversity promoting readathon over Christmas, and when I ran a twitter poll the majority voted for Diverse Retellings as a theme! 

This is not a readathon for the faint of heart. But it's Christmas after all, and accordingly, there will be presents or prizes granted by the Book Santa for the winners. 

 

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There are two categories for participation: Reindeer and Badass Santa. There will also be category prizes for individual postings, for those of you who have time to read one or two books, but not complete the whole challenge. 

To compete at Reindeer level, you will need to read one of the books from each of the categories listed later in this post, as well as one *wild card* entry from any category. This is a total of Six Books in Twelve Days. You will need to read these books as well as review them on a blog, GoodReads and another retail website. Everyone who completes those steps will be entered in the draw to win the Reindeer prize of a $35 Amazon Card or equal credit at the Bookstore of their choice. 

Then, we have the Badass Santa competition. 

 

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The Badass Santa will be the participant who achieves the greatest number of Readathon Points. Points will be calculated as 10 points per book read and reviewed, with a further 5 points per book for taking a photo of it and showcasing it on Instagram. 

The Badass Santa will be a reader of epicness. To reflect this, they will win an actual mini trophy engraved with their name, their title as Badass Santa, their blog name and #12DaysofDiversityIn addition, they will receive a $75 Amazon Card or equal credit at the store of their choice, and a mystery box of gift wrapped diverse books delivered to them. 

Prizes will also be given for the Most Beautiful Instagram Post and Most Hilarious Review. Both of these individuals will win a copy of the Diverse Retelling of their choice. 

Onto the categories! (clicking on all the titles will bring you to the book's GR page. Some of them appear in black — I'm not sure why)

 

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2016

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The first category is Diverse Retellings Published in 2016! The following list is not exhaustive, but it might be pretty close. If you'd like to read something else for this category, please comment with the book's title / what it's retelling / a link to its goodreads page. 

And I Darken by Kiersten White — Retelling of Historical Dracula, Gender-Flipped, LGBTQIA 

As I Descended by Robin Talley — Retelling of Macbeth, LGBTQIA

Beast by Brie Spangler — Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, LGBTQIA

Char by Kristina Wojtaszek — Retelling of Hansel and Gretel, POC Protagonist

Fairest by KS Trenton — Retelling of Sleeping Beauty, LGBTQIA

Marian by Ella Lyons — Retelling of Robin Hood, LGBTQIA

Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor — Retelling of Peter Pan, POC Protagonist

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades&Persephone, POC Protagonist

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Abdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

 

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The second category is protagonists of colour! Again, if there is a title you think is missing that you'd like to read instead, please comment with its title/author/goodreads link! 

 

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

A Whole New World by Liz Braswel — Retelling of Aladdin, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale — Retelling of Maid Maleen (Grimm), POC Protagonist

Char by Kristina Wojtaszek — Retelling of Hansel and Gretel, POC Protagonist

Hunting Monsters by SL Huang — Retelling of Red Riding Hood, POC Protagonist/LGBTQIA

Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor — Retelling of Peter Pan, POC Protagonist

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine — Retelling of Phantom of the Opera, POC Protagonist

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers — Retelling of Romeo and Juliet, POC Protagonist

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriot — Retelling of Cinderella, POC Protagonist

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis — Retelling of 12 Swans, POC Protagonist

Ramayana by Daljit Nagra — Retelling of Ramayana, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler — Retelling of Little Mermaid, POC Protagonist

The Ninety-Ninth Bride by Catherine F. King — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades&Persephone, POC Protagonist

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore — Retelling of Romeo and Juliet, POC Protagonist

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin — Retelling of The Wizard of Oz, POC Protagonist/Non-Western Influences

 

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Category 3! LGBTQIA protagonists! 

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And I Darken by Kiersten White — Retelling of Historical Dracula, Gender-Flipped, LGBTQIA 

Ash by Malinda Lo — Retelling of Cinderella, LGBTQIA

As I Descended by Robin Talley — Retelling of Macbeth, LGBTQIA

Beast by Brie Spangler — Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, LGBTQIA

Fairest by KS Trenton — Retelling of Sleeping Beauty, LGBTQIA

Hunting Monsters by SL Huang — Retelling of Red Riding Hood, POC Protagonist/LGBTQIA

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western/Queer

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesa Lia Block — Retelling of The Odyssey, LGBTQIA

Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey — Retelling of Peter Pan, LGBTQIA

Marian by Ella Lyons — Retelling of Robin Hood, LGBTQIA

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase — Retelling of Alice in Wonderland, LGBTQIA

Seven Tears at High Tide by CB Lee — Retelling of Selkie Folklore, LGBTQIA

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller — Retelling of The Iliad, LGBTQIA

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neill Gaiman — Retelling of Sleeping Beauty, LGBTQIA

Rules of Ever After by Killian Brewer — Retelling of Princess and the Pea, LGBTQIA

 

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I feel that my findings for this category were especially weak — so definitely feel free to suggest and find your own! Link us all in the comments section!

 

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A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

A Whole New World by Liz Braswel — Retelling of Aladdin, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western/Queer

Ramayana by Daljit Nagra — Retelling of Ramayana, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson — Retelling of Indian Folktale, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades&Persephone, POC Protagonist

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Abdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Ninety-Ninth Bride by Catherine F. King — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades&Persephone, POC Protagonist

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin — Retelling of The Wizard of Oz, POC Protagonist/Non-Western Influences

 

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Again, I feel that there are probably loads of options that I've missed for this category. I absolutely want readers to support more stories from small presses and independent publishers, but at times, it can be difficult to find these stories!

 

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Char by Kristina Wojtaszek — Retelling of Hansel and Gretel, POC Protagonist

Fairest by KS Trenton — Retelling of Sleeping Beauty, LGBTQIA

Hunting Monsters by SL Huang — Retelling of Red Riding Hood, POC Protagonist/LGBTQIA

Marian by Ella Lyons — Retelling of Robin Hood, LGBTQIA

Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor — Retelling of Peter Pan, POC Protagonist

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase — Retelling of Alice in Wonderland, LGBTQIA

Seven Tears at High Tide by CB Lee — Retelling of Selkie Folklore, LGBTQIA

The Ninety-Ninth Bride by Catherine F. King — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Rules of Ever After by Killian Brewer — Retelling of Princess and the Pea, LGBTQIA

 

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To signup, please comment with a link to your blog. I will start a table and update it with the links to participating blogs!

Also follow @jules_chronicle on twitter (me!) to get live updates to the event and learn about exciting guest posts.

During the event itself, I'll be hosting lots of authors for guest posts, interviews and exclusive excerpts from upcoming Diverse Retellings for 2017! 

Bring on Christmas!! 

 

Current Signups 

Jamie from Books and Ladders

Angelina from Fables Library

Dani from Dani Reviews Things

Ana from TheBooktarian

What the Log

Becca from Becca the Lit Witch

Samantha from The Forest of Words and Pages

Augustine from The Novel Knight

If the Book Will Be Too Difficult

Becca from Becca and Books

Anna Elise Monte (writer)

BookNut101 from 21st Century Once Upon a Time

Louise from Foxes and Fairy Tales

Nina Rossing (writer)

Bhavya from Books and Calm

Marcelina from Bookbacked

Aentee from ReadatMidnight

Lizzie from Big Books and Grande Lattes

Sarah at Reviews and Readathons

Kayla (booktuber)

Sophie from Sophie Reads Books

Anna from A Literary Potion

Sydney from BooksofKings

Jessica Gunn (writer)

Nicole Lynn from Pop Crunch Boom

Mish from Chasing Faerytales

CJ from Sarcasm and Lemons

Catherine from Library Kitten

Adriyanna from Life Writings of a Reader

Rebecca from Reading Wishes

 

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If you like these readathons and want to support me in my ongoing craziness, please do check out Unicorn Tracks and consider buying my book! <3 .

Short, Diverse Reads for Max TBR Takedown

 

Novellettes: All the fun in a quarter of the time.

 

So, we're halfway through October, and I know that for the competitive among you, this is the time of year when you start to look at the looming total of books you still have to read to complete either GoodReads or blog-based challenges with a feeling of panic.

Don't fear! I'm here to help you.

All of these great stories can be read in under an hour based on the average reader speed of a page a minute.

As an added bonus, every single one of these feature either a LGBTQIA main character, a POC main character, OR BOTH.

 

Genre: Fantasy

 

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Title: Hunting Monsters

Author: SL Huang

Publisher: The Book Smugglers

Length: 50 pages

Read Time: Less than 1 hour

Diversity: Intersectional: on page  lesbian couple, POC cast by a POC author

Synopsis:

Ever since she was a small girl, she has learned to be careful on the hunt, to recognize the signs that separate regular animals from human-cursed grundwirgen. To harm a grundwirgen is a crime punishable by death by the King's decree – a fatal mistake that her Auntie Rosa and mother have carefully prepared her to avoid.

On her fifteenth birthday, when her mother is arrested and made to stand trial for grundwirgen murder, everything she thought she knew about her family and her past comes crashing down.

Mini Review: I was struggling for a bed time read, flipping through things in my kindle, but when I started this, it instantly grabbed me. I loved the build up the relationship between Rosa/Mei, and how the child narrator gradually became more aware of complexities over time. Beautiful, vivid writing. A fascinating fairy-tail mashup of Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast.

My Rating:

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Title: The Vishakanya's Choice

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publisher: The Book Smugglers

Length: 27 pages

Read Time: Half an hour

Diversity: POC cast and mythology by an author of colour. #ownvoices

Synopsis:

Early in her life, Sudha's fate was divined to be a lonely, fruitless future of young widowhood. So, it was considered a blessing when she was brought to the Hastinapur harem to become a vishakanya–a weapon, an assassin, a poison maiden whose very touch is toxic.

Mini Review:

A beautifully written (who expected anything else from Roshani Chokshi??), dark little short story. Considered death incarnate as a result of her star-chart, Sudha is fed poison and turned into a living weapon. Her agency is stripped away and she's treated like a dangerous possession. The depiction of setting is super vivid.

This story is about a girl taking her choices back, standing up for herself, becoming powerful and it's wonderful.

My Rating:

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Title: The Rainbow Flame

Author: Shveta Thakrar

Publisher: Uncanny Magazine

Length: 16 pages

Read Time: 20 minutes

Diversity: Full POC cast by POC author. #ownvoices

Mini Review:

This is the absolutely beautifully told story of Ripali, the last in a line of magical candlemakers who mix parts of their own imaginations into the candles they create. The candles are used by Spell Singers, who use them to protect the population. But Ripali isn’t happy with her situation – why should she be the one to lose her visions and her memories?

The prose and ideas in this are stunning. Shveta is basically the master of gorgeously constructed imagery and metaphor. This is a portal fantasy of sorts, but the transition is so seamless you almost forget.

My rating:

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Read it Online Via Uncanny Magazine!

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Title: The Terracotta Bride

Author: Zen Cho

Publisher: Zen Cho

Length: 51 pages

Read Time: Less than an hour

Diversity: POC cast and mythology by a POC author. #ownvoices

Synopsis:

In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.

It's a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn't choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she's reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua's creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.

Mini Review:

A totally fascinating blend of mythology and modernity. This is a super quick read novella read with a unique and interesting cast of characters. Beautifully written and easily readable in an hour.

I loved the way the story talked about hell and reincarnation. It's not always a peaceful process, but something that a lot of the souls dread. Siew Tsin's naivety made her a perfect narrator.

My Rating:

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Genre: Paranormal

 

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Title: The Artist and the Devil

Author:  Shira Glassman

Publisher: Shira Glassman

Length: 15 pages

Read Time: 20 minutes

Diversity: Gay Romance

Synopsis:

Noah has an uncomplicated life–he teaches art at a high school, then sketches outside all afternoon until he gets hungry and has to go home, and finally spends the night grading papers. His life is thrown into confusion when he encounters a mysterious burly businessman one day in the park. Noah keeps finding clues that the man is Satan–and the worst part is, he's growing more attracted to him every day.

Mini Review:

When I first started reading, I was little bit skeptical. I kept thinking, wait, hold on Noah, you have absolutely no evidence for your accusations? Where are you getting these thoughts from?

And I read on, thinking, well this is cute But

BUT THEN: THE TWIST. THE BEAUTIFUL DIAMOND TWIST that turns this from simply a cute gay romance short, into a larger commentary on stereotypes and jumping to conclusions.

Love it.

My Rating:

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Genre: Sci-Fi

 

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Title: The Siren Son

Author: Tristina Wright

Publisher: Lightspeed Magazine

Length: 19 pages

Read Time: 20 minutes

Diversity: Very, very queer 😀

Mini Review:

Read and adored Tristina Wright's "The Siren Song." I loved the beautiful ocean imagery and the sweet love between Killian and Neal.

ALSO the image of a merking living in a coral castle being rammed with a battleship … one of my favourites lines of all time! <3

My Rating:

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Read the story at Lightspeed!

#YASH: Introducing CM McCoy and Eerie!

 

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Hello, Scavengers! Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt Fall 2016! I'm super excited to be on the Purple Team this season, hosting CM McCoy and her novel Eerie!

My name is Julia Ember and my debut YA Fantasy Romance, Unicorn Tracks, came out this year from Harmony Ink Press. If you're not familiar with it yet, you should definitely click the link! 😀

The rules of the game are simple … Enjoy the amazing bonus content all the author have put together while searching for the secret number concealed in each post. Once you find all the numbers for the Purple Team, total them up and submit your entry on Yash.rocks!

Repeat the process until you complete the hunt for all the teams. There is also a Special Giveaway on this post for a £25 Amazon Card and a Paperback Copy of Unicorn Tracks! Use the Rafflecopter entry at the bottom of the content!

… Ready?

 

About CM McCoy

CM McCoy knows full well nobody can pronounce her last name. Hence the pen name. Also known as Colleen Oefelein, CM is the PR Manager for Inklings Literary Agency. She leads writing conference workshops on a spectrum of topics like book promotion and tippity-tapping into your way around writer’s block. Her paranormal debut, EERIE, released last year and was featured in an April issue of PEOPLE Magazine. Colleen loves to Irish dance, drink whiskey, and sing WAY too loud. Thankfully, her Last Frontier neighbors (the moose) don't seem to mind. Though she holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and one in German from Penn State, she's happiest writing the stories of monsters in Alaska (with an awkward kiss in the mix.) While working 911 dispatch for State Troopers, she learned to speak in 10-codes, which she still does…but only to annoy her family.

 

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Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

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About EERIE:

EERIE is a YA Paranormal Romance with crossover appeal (which means that even 27 year olds like me will enjoy it! I bought it and I'm looking forward to reading it!), published by Omnific Publishing.

“Eerie is a deliciously dark, surprisingly funny teen novel, full of quirky characters and jaw-dropping surprises.” – Goodreads review

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world's premier supernatural university. It's a school she's never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that's not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid.

When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds the only thing keeping her safe from a murderous 3,000-year old beast is an equally terrifying creature who’s fallen “madly” in love with her. Competing to win her affection, the Dream Creature, Asher, lures her to the one place that offers safety—a ParaScience university in Alaska he calls home. There, she must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her ParaScience classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil immortal doesn’t decide to kill her himself. 

You can watch her amazing book trailer here:

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CM McCoy has provided an exclusive deleted scene for her bonus content! I thought it was brilliant and has definitely ramped up my excitement to read the book …

 

Deleted Scene:

The Pre-Med group began the day’s seminar with a presentation on staying healthy and a stark reminder that Hailey wasn’t in Pittsburgh anymore.

“Remember,” said the too-groomed man at the front of the room, “Bear Towne hospital is a teaching hospital that treats humans and non-humans alike, which sometimes leads to inadvertent mix-ups. Now,” he said holding up a superior finger as his nose also went in the air, “despite the rumors, we haven’t had an accidental transmutation in almost a decade—”

“Thank you, Professor Starr,” said an equally well-groomed, but younger man, who ushered the professor out of the way and took over the presentation.

“Bottom line—” he told them, “I’ve got five reasons to NOT end up at Bear Towne Hospital. Dr. Starr already mentioned the transmutations,” he said holding up his thumb. He added a finger at each increasingly horrific reason to stay away from campus health care.

“Second—there has been an increased incidence of Flesh-eating Zombitis among patients treated in the emergency room. Third—and this is no rumor—the hospital has a resident banshee, who doesn’t always follow the prescribed treatment plans—if you know what I mean,” he said with a nervous laugh to a roomful of crickets.

Hailey tried not to look as shocked as she felt. Honestly, Professor Starr had her at “transmutation.” Everything after that was fodder for nightmares.

“Also,” he continued, adding a fourth finger to his count, “I-MET drives the ambulance and finally, I’m sure you’ve all heard of last year’s Soylent Green incident in the hospital’s cafeteria.

“So, do what you need to do to stay healthy, because there’s no telling if you’ll come out of the campus hospital in better or worse shape than when you entered.”

Campus safety for humans was next. The student handbook laid out most of the information on Bear Towne’s predators, but Hailey did take a few notes from the I-MET worker, who marched to the front of the room wearing a presidential mask—Reagan it looked like. For instance, she had no idea you could use a shotgun to kill mosquitos. Also, the colored flag atop the Trinity Center indicated the mosquito climate for the day, with green meaning a low concentration of blood suckers (usually due to high winds); yellow meaning no amount of DEET will protect you, and red meaning grab the shotgun.

Things wrapped up with the campus priest blessing the freshmen and reminding everyone to tend to their soul—go to church, be nice and don’t kill anyone was his advice.

Seemed easy enough.

 

Continue the Hunt with the Purple Team! …

Head Over to Hannah Rials' Blog Next!

 

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9 Upcoming Queer YA Books from Small Pubs

As an author with one and soon to be two different smaller publishers, making small press books more visible is a topic I am passionate about! In the last few weeks, this topic was called into the Literary Twitter Forefront by Adam Silvera, who tweeted about how other authors treated him in the wake of his first book deal with a smaller house. Other big name authors such as Maggie Stiefvater, originally published by Flux, also chimed in. 

Spotlighting diverse books is also important to me, so I wanted to write up a list of upcoming titles many of my twitter followers and readers might not have on their radars yet! 

One thing that I noticed while making this list, is that even among small publishers, unless the publisher is directly devoted to publishing diverse titles … there was a shocking lack of books about POC or LGBTQ characters. Lots of small publishers (and mid-sized!) publishers didn't have a single diverse upcoming title in the next 6 months! I'm shocked by that. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am.

 

 

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October 20 2016

Interlude Press / Duet

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Synopsis: 

Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. But when a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.

Why I'm Interested … 

(1) This sounds like a contemporary novel with a just a hint of the paranormal. I’m curious to see how Luke’s new ability will help him deal with his grief.

(2)  I’ve been told that the m/m romance in this is super cute. The main pairing is also interracial.

(3) I trust the sensitivity reader who publicly endorsed the book. 

(4) I love a good tearjerker when the sad parts of the book have literally nothing to do with being queer.  

 

31201941October 6 2016

Ylva Publishing

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Synopsis: 

It’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.

But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella.

As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) We moved to the UK when I was 10. I attended an international school where kids came and went all through middle and high school. Moving abroad as a teen is a book topic that interests me!

(2) I still feel a bit 3rd culture … I live in the UK again, in Scotland, which isn't really like England where I grew up, and definitely isn't Chicago. Figuring out how to balance overseas friendships is HARD.

(3) This promises to be a really cute f/f romance. 

 

 

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October 20 2016

Harmony Ink Press

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Synopsis:

Hunter Donovan’s temper never used to be a problem. He lived the perfect life with the perfect family before the dark truth came spilling out. Now his dad’s in prison, and after Hunter explodes at school, accidentally hitting a teacher, his mom has him committed. 

Hunter doesn’t belong at Better Days. He needs to be stronger, not sent to a well-dressed loony bin. If he’d been better, less selfish, he would have realized something was going on under his own roof. No amount of psychoanalyzing and group therapy can change the past.

But among the bullies, fights, and bad cafeteria food, Hunter meets a group of friends: anxiety-ridden Casey, wild and exciting Rosie, recovering bulimic Bethany, and Stray, a self-harmer who doesn’t think he belongs anywhere. Around this group of misfits, Hunter doesn’t feel so alone and angry anymore.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1)  I attended a virtual panel with Nyrae Dawn through School Library Journal about mental health representation in YA books. She was terrific. As a person who struggles with depression and anxiety, this is a topic I’m passionate about and I’m always on the lookout for new YA books featuring protagonists with mental illnesses.

(2) I've read some of Nyrae's other books and loved them. There is comfort in familiar authors that you can trust to deliver! 

 

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November 3 2016

Harmony Ink Press

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Synopsis:

When Marian Banner moves to the glittering city of Nottingham with her father, Sir Erik the Fortunate, her entire life changes. She is no longer allowed to run about the countryside in leggings and braids, climbing fences and shooting turkeys, but is thrust into a life of dresses and jewels and dancing lessons, none of which Marian is particularly pleased about. Her dark mood changes when she meets a tiny whip of a girl called Robin Hood. Robin is fierce and brave and wants more than anything to become a knight, regardless of her gender. Together they explore the city, becoming fast friends along the way.

As time passes, their friendship changes into something bigger and scarier and far more wonderful. But then Marian’s father is killed in service to the king, and she catches the king’s eye.

Can Robin save her once more? Or will Marian discover how to save herself?

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) ROBIN HOOD f/f … Yes, I am a huge fan of the gender swapped historical fantasy. Really excited to see what elements of the folktale will change and what will stay the same. 

(2) Damsels learning to save themselves. I've been promised it by the synopsis. 

 

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November 7 2016

Triton YA / Riptide Publishing

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Synopsis:

Last year, Javier Medina was your average socially awkward gay high schooler with a chip on his shoulder. This year, he's . . . well, pretty much the same, but with bonus superpowers, a costume with an ab window to show off his new goods, and a secret identity as the high-flying, wise-cracking superhero Blue Spark.

But being a Junior Hero means that Javier gets all the responsibility and none of the cool gadgets. It's hard enough working for the Legion of Liberty and fighting against the evil Organization, all while trying to keep on top of schoolwork and suspicious parents. Add in a hunky boyfriend who's way out of Javier's league, and an even hunkier villain who keeps appearing every time said boyfriend mysteriously disappears, and Blue Spark is in for one big dollop of teenage angst. All while engaging in some epic superhero action and, oh yeah, an all-out battle to protect Liberty City from the forces of evil.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1)  I’ve really been on a super hero kick recently. I loved Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee, a queer girl super-hero novel that came out earlier this month. Here’s the queer boy answering book.  And I’ve readily watched and loved every single of one of the Netflix/Marvel superhuman series. I love them.

(2) ENEMIES TO LOVERS. I am here for that trope. Every damn time.

 

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November 1st 2016

Skypony Press

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Note: Okay, unless you've been living under a twitter rock for the past six months, the chances are that if you read diverse books, you've heard of this one. However, it is coming from a smaller publisher, and I am really excited about it. SO I AM GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT AGAIN. This is my blog and I do what I want. 

Synopsis:

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) Everyone I know who has read it is obsessed with it. I take this as a good sign.

(2) STEAMPUNK. VICTORIANA. CLOCKTOWER MAGIC. Love it. 

(3) Even though this sounds like it will play heavily on a forbidden love trope, I like that the reason their love is forbidden doesn't sound like it's because it's gay love. It's forbidden because one of them is a magical being. 

(4) That cover. I love it. I need to touch it. 

 

18-monthsDecember 13 2016

Bold Strokes Books

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Synopsis:

Alissa Reeves came out for Hannah Desarno. Hannah is smart, beautiful, and has just gone missing. Worse, she isn’t Alissa’s first girlfriend to disappear. Eighteen months ago, Alissa was caught kissing bad girl Lana Meyers. Too scared to admit her feelings for Lana, Alissa let her friends blame Lana. Weeks later when Lana disappeared, no one in their small town thought much of it until months later when her body was found.

With Hannah gone, Alissa finds herself following clues that will help her discover what happened to both girls, and the truth will change everything.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) Queer girls gone rogue badass conspiracy mystery, drama!!!!!! 

(2) I am really wondering if the main character is going to turn out to be a villian. I have to know. 

 

29618750January 9 2017

Triton Ya / Riptide Publishing

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Synopsis:

Being orphaned and almost kidnapped in the space of a week sent Blake Marks into hiding. For months, Blake tries to help the Calvers—a family of vigilante bodyguards—investigate the people behind the hit on Blake’s father, Isaac, but then the safehouse is compromised. Just as hired thugs storm the house to grab Blake, Daelan Calver dives into the fight, getting them both out alive.

Hiding isn’t an option anymore, but hit squads, under-the-table deals, and international espionage? Blake has no idea how to handle any of it, not even with Daelan’s family there to play teachers. The one thing Blake knows for sure is that there are only two options: keep up with the Calvers or get out of their way.

But even with the Calvers’ help and the glimmer of a possible future with Daelan giving Blake hope, chances of survival keep shrinking. The man who ordered the hit on Isaac may be dead, but his partner is viciously cold-blooded, and her plans could change the course of history. Blake wants to finish what Isaac started, but it’s looking like someone is going to die before this is over. And that someone might be Blake.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) We've talked about my morbid fascination with assassins before, yes? Queer boy assassins. Yes, yes yes. 

(2) I read the first book in the series and loved it. Each of the books focuses on different but related characters, though, so this book could be read first as a standalone. 

 

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27 October 2016

Harmony Ink Press

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Synopsis: 

Explore fiction in all genres—from contemporary realism to experimental fantasy—featuring characters in every color of the rainbow. The unique voices within these pages represent the future, and they bring distinct perspectives on love, loss, and growing up in a changing world. Whether they stem from firsthand experience or pure imagination, these are tales that praise diversity and call for unity, understanding, and compassion. Because while the road to adulthood can be full of obstacles and even unhappiness, there’s also much beauty to be found on the journey.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) These are short stories by actual queer teens … sharing their experiences, their imaginings, their hopes, their fantasies. 

(2) I was lucky enough to critique some of these when they were being considered for the contest. The quality of writing is high and I think it's so great to glimpse what queer YA writers of the future are doing.

 

 

Let me know what's on your radar in the comments! Had you heard of all of these before?

#ReadProud: Week 4!

Thanks to the outpouring of support for #ReadProud, I'm starting a different blog post for each week to keep things a little bit more organised. You can read about the overall structure of the event here. You can also find out about the prizes there! 

Remember, each week there are two categories. Participating in one category and reading one book per week makes you eligible for the Silver Prize Draw. Participating in both categories and reading two books (or more!) per week makes you eligible for Gold Prize Draw!

For your book to count towards the draw, you have to leave a review on GoodReads and at least one retailer website. If you're not comfortable posting reviews, you can still participate, but unfortunately you won't be eligible for a prize draw. Leave links to your reviews in the comments for the Week!

THIS IS THE FINAL WEEK OF THE CHALLENGE!

 

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Category A:  GAY YA

What I'll Be Reading: We Are the Ants by Shawn David Hutchinson

Bender by Gene Gant

Suggested Titles: 

JERKBAIT by Mia Seigert 

SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli 

DAGGER by Steven dos Santos

BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan

FJORD BLUE by Nina Rossing

 

Category B: WILDCARD 

Surprise me. Surprise us all. As long as it's LGBTQIA. I'd LOVE people to bring forward some terrific Asexual, Bisexual and Non-binary books. 

 

1) Jerkbait … Jamie

2) Bender … Julia 

3) False Hearts … Julia

4) We Are the Ants … Bhavya 

5) Bender … Laura

6) Waiting for the Flood … Laura

7) None of the Above … Nicole

8) Boy Meets Boy … Serena

9) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe … Rebecca

10) Symptoms of Being Human … Nina

11) Fun Home … Becky

12) We Awaken … Jamie 

13) Daybreak Rising … Jamie 

14) Wonders of the Invisible World … Serena

15) Five Stages of Andrew Brawley … Chasia

16) Noble Falling … Chasia

17) Out on Good Behavior  … Rebecca

18)  Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda … Bhavya

19) Jerkbait … Bhavya

20) Alex as Well … Bhavya

21) One Man Guy … Amber

22) This Song is Not For You … Amber

23) Strong Signal … Lauren

24) Simon Vs … Bogi

25) Half Bad … Meredith

26) A Distant Soil … Meredith

27) Freakboy … Bogi

28) None of the Above … Michelle

 

 

#ReadProud Week 2!

Thanks to the outpouring of support for #ReadProud, I'm starting a different blog post for each week to keep things a little bit more organised. You can read about the overall structure of the event here. You can also find out about the prizes there! 

Remember, each week there are two categories. Participating in one category and reading one book per week makes you eligible for the Silver Prize Draw. Participating in both categories and reading two books (or more!) per week makes you eligible for Gold Prize Draw!

For your book to count towards the draw, you have to leave a review on GoodReads and at least one retailer website. If you're not comfortable posting reviews, you can still participate, but unfortunately you won't be eligible for a prize draw. Leave links to your reviews in the comments for the Week!

 

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#ReadProud Week 2!

 

Category A:  LESBIAN SPECULATIVE

What I'll be Reading: 

TREMONTAINE by Ellen Kushner *et all – Serial

THE BETTER TO KISS YOU WITH by Michelle Osgood

Suggested Titles: 

UNICORN TRACKS by Julia Ember (meeee!)

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie

THE RENEGADE by Amy Dunne 

THE SECOND MANGO by Shira Glassman

OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey Coulthurst

ASH by Malinda Lo

NOBLE FALLING by Sarah Gaines

MY LADY KING by Kayla Bashe

THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE by Neill Gaiman

(you may read any other book of your choice that falls into this category)

 

Category B:  LGBTQ Middle Grade or Younger

What I'll be Reading: 

GEORGE by Alex Gino

Suggested Titles: 

RED: A CRAYON'S STORY by Michael Hall

AND TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson 

HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES by Leslea Newman

10,000 DRESSES by Marcus Ewert 

I AM JAZZ by Jessica Herthel 

(you may read any other book of your choice that falls into this category)

 

Update us on your progress in the comments! 

 

COMPLETED BOOKS

1) The Abyss Surrounds Us … Jamie 

2) Lumberjanes Vol 3 … Jamie 

3) Red: A Crayon's Story … Bhavya

4) And Tango Makes Three … Bhavya

5) George … Nicole

6) Unicorn Tracks … Laura

7) Tango Makes Three … Laura

8) George … Becky

9) The Second Mango … Serena

10) George … Lauren

11) George … Serena

12) Donovan's Big Day … Crystal

14) Tremontaine … Rebecca

15) Fairest … Chasia

16) George … Chasia

17) George … Nina

18) I Am Jazz … Bhavya

19) The Abyss Surrounds Us … Bhavya

20) Unicorn Tracks … Bhavya

21) George … Mia Siegert 

22) George … Bhavya

23) Introducing Teddy … Rebecca

24) Unicorn Tracks … Kara

25) George … Kara

26) Tremontaine … Julia

27) Women Were Warriors … Becky

28) Unicorn Tracks … Michelle

29) The Second Mango … Meredith

30) George … Amber

31) The Abyss Surrounds Us .. Bogi

32) The Abyss Surrounds Us … Amber

33) George … Amber

34) The Manny Files … Meredith

35) How it Feels to Have a Lesbian or Gay Parent … Bogi

36) Graveyard Sparrow … Shira

#ReadProud Reading Challenge

June is #PrideMonth and to celebrate, I decided that I would spend the month working through my Queer TBR pile … and I'm encouraging you all to join me! I hope lots of readers will join in to read LGBTQ books from all different genres and discover some new great reads. 

This is a 4-week challenge. Each week will have 2 categories. You can participate on two levels:

(1) GOLD:  Read two books per week, one from each category, totalling 8. 

(2) SILVER: Read one book from one category a week, totalling 4. 

Successful completers of the challenge will be entered in a prize draw: 

GOLD: $100 Amazon Gift Card (or B&N/Waterstones if preferred!) 

SILVER: $50 Amazon Gift Card (or B&N/Waterstones if preferred!)

 

Rules: 

1) You must read in the weekly categories to be eligible. However, you do not have to read the suggested books. You may find your own reads in the relevant categories. 

2) You must post your reviews on GoodReads and at least one retailer website. You shoud link these in the comments on the relevant week's post (on this blog). These reviews can be negative or positive. 

3) These reads must be new reviews. This means you can't recycle old reviews or old Arc reviews. You need to post the review in the relevant week. 

4) Post in the comments to introduce yourself and your blog/twitter handle! 

Here is a badge to put on your blogs if you plan to blog the event! 

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WEEK 1 — May 29-June 5 < — Week 1 is live! Click to record your reads!

 

Category A:  TRANS YA  ** fiction or non-fictional 

What I'll Be Reading:   

BEING JAZZ: MY LIFE AS A TRANSGENDER TEEN by Jazz Jennings (non-fiction)

Suggested Titles: 

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo

FREAKBOY by Kirstin Elizabeth Clark (lyric)

BEING EMILY by Rachel Gold

THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson 

BEYOND MAGENTA by Susan Kuklin (non-fiction) 

 

CATEGORY B: GAY CONTEMPORARY, NA or ADULT.

What I'll be Reading: 

FOR REAL by Alexis Hall (over 18s!)

Suggested Titles: 

SUTPHIN BOULEVARD by Santino Hassell (over 18s!)

FOXES by Suki Fleet 

INTO THIS RIVER I DROWN by TJ Klune

CUT AND RUN by Abigail Roux 

 

WEEK 2 — June 5-12 — LINK POSTED FOR READS!

 

Category A:  LESBIAN SPECULATIVE

What I'll be Reading: 

THE BETTER TO KISS YOU WITH by Michelle Osgood

Suggested Titles: 

UNICORN TRACKS by Julia Ember (meeee!)

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie

DISSENTION by Stacey Berg

THE RAVEN AND THE REINDEER by T. Kingfisher

THE RENEGADE by Amy Dunne 

THE SECOND MANGO by Shira Glassman

 

Category B:  LGBTQ Middle Grade or Younger

What I'll be Reading: 

GEORGE by Alex Gino

Suggested Titles: 

RED: A CRAYON'S STORY by Michael Hall

AND TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson 

HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES by Leslea Newman

ONE MAN GUY by Michael Barakiva 

 

WEEK 3 — June 12-19 — Post Reads Here!

 

Category A:  AUTHORS OF COLOUR

What I'll Be Reading: ASH BY MALINDA LO 

Suggested Titles: 

IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan 

SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE by CB LEE

THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson

THE BATTLE FOR JERICHO by Gene Gant

TREASURE by Rebekah Weatherspoon 

 

Category B:  LESBIAN CONTEMPORARY 

What I'll Be Reading: OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR by Dahlia Adler 

Suggested Titles: 

ANNIE ON MY MIND by Nancy Garden

LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley

AT HER FEET by Rebekah Weatherspoon (over 18s!) 

CAREFULLY EVERYWHERE DESCENDING by LD Bedford

EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour

 

WEEK 4 — June 19-26

 

Category A:  GAY YA

What I'll Be Reading: We Are the Ants by Shawn David Hutchinson

Suggested Titles: 

JERKBAIT by Mia Seigert 

SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli 

DAGGER by Steven dos Santos

BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan

FJORD BLUE by Nina Rossing

 

Category B: WILDCARD 

Surprise me. Surprise us all. As long as it's LGBTQIA. I'd LOVE people to bring forward some terrific Asexual, Bisexual and Non-binary books. 

 

Reading Wrap Up – March and April

 

Reading Wrap Up – March and April 

Shockingly, despite April being my debut novel month — I've managed to read quite a few new books over the past two months! Part of this has been my excitement over friends' new books and debuts. Part of the experience of being a new author is making writer friends and sharing in their successes. It's an intoxicating thing and I easily get swept up in the new release craze. 

So, a by the numbers update:

In 2016, I have read 39 books/novellas/stories. 

21/39 were Young Adult. 

7/39 Featured an LGBTQIA protagonist — a percentage that is shockingly down from last year and one that I intend to fix in the coming months. 

6/39 Featured a POC of colour — again, something I need to fix in the coming months. 

7/39 were Adult or New Adult Fiction. 

5/39 were Children's fiction for under 12s. 

3/39 were Non-Fiction

19/39 were High Fantasy

 

Favourites from MAR-APR

 

I read Shadow and Bone some time ago. I loved it, but the story itself seemed quite complete at its end, so I wasn't desperate to read the next two in the trilogy. I should have jumped in. I absolutely loved the new cast of characters in the trilogy's second and thid installments. 

Sturmhand was undoubtedly my favourite. I loved the combination of wit, playfulness and shrewd calculation in his personality. Leigh Bardugo has a real knack for writing witty, genuinely funny dialogue — and that shone in Sturmhand. I could have read his flirations with Alina forever. 

Then of course, there's the Darkling. I found him smouldering in the first book, but the second two books added a real depth to his character. His relationship with his mother fascinated me, as did the connection between him and Alina. I'm a massive sucker for a sexy bad guy. Always have been, and it'll always be my achilles heel. 

Despite that, I rooted for Alina and Mal throughout — which is a testament to how well Bardugo paired them up. 

The Russian-inspired Fantasy setting is breathtaking. The writing is fast-paced, simaltaneously chilling and beautiful. I rated them 5* on GoodReads and I couldn't recommend these books higher!

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I stumbled upon this little story by accident when I was surfing through Kindle deals looking for something to read. I'm so glad I did.

This novellete is a totally fascinating blend of mythology and modernity. This is a super quick read novella read with a unique and interesting cast of characters. Beautifully written and easily readable in an hour. 

I loved the way the story talked about hell and reincarnation. It's not always a peaceful process, but something that a lot of the souls dread. Siew Tsin's naivety made her a perfect narrator. I rated this 5* on GoodReads. 

 

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This was recommended to me SUPER HIGHLY by Nori from Read Write Love28 who basically said I needed to drop everything to read this book. I'm happy I listened to her. 

Let me just fangirl for a moment about my love of Travis, because when I was still in High School, I would have had the biggest crush ever on him, and if there is a mid-twenties male equivalent of him lurking about on GoodReads … Just know that you're a catch. I loved him as a gentle giant with his staff and Viking obsession. I loved his online forum posts and how his crush on Amelia developed. 

The differences between all three perspective characters were striking and really made this book. Jeff's writing has a really raw quality to it … And I loved that. He captured three distinct voices so magnificently. 

I like a bit of cult crazy in my books, so I was equally fascinated and repulsed by Dill's family. On the one hand, as a secular person living in quite a secular place, it's hard for me to conceive of people that nuts being real. It's easy to imagine religious sub-groups like that as comedic. But on the other, when I try to imagine it as real, I'm horrified. Poisonous snakes? Battery acid?? Whattttttttt

The only thing that didn't quite work for me all the time was Lydia. Sometimes I felt like her character was quite flat compared to the two boys. I felt that Dill and Travis had more richly imagined emotions and interior lives. I'm not sure if this was because Lydia had fewer hurdles to overcome or if the author was simply more invested in the others. 

But Travis … Aww, you big lovely snuggly bunny <3

I rated this 4.5/5 on GoodReads. 

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When I first read the synopsis for this, I'll admit that I wasn't sure the book was going to be for me. I'm probably the only person I know who hates The Walking Dead, so I was a bit apprehensive about a dystopian plot with a mass epidemic.

Nat lives with her grandparents in a giant zombie-proof bubble, complete with a thriving forest of trees for oxygen, a learning institute and guaranteed job placement. It sounds a bit like a utopia, but the local authorities are actually sinister and authoritarian. There is a bit of a Stepford Wives vibe going on … where things are made to look perfect and rebellion is swept under the rug. 

Initially, I think is was the sinister government element that interested me. I wanted to know what The Order was hiding and what was happening to the people left outside The Dome. Then, I came to love Nat as a character and her burgeoning relationship with Evan. 

There were a few elements that seemed a bit overly 'canon' and I would have liked to see expanded a bit beyond the more common tropes, such as the symptoms of the disease itself. 

Overall, this is a really interesting and face-paced read that may completely go against your expectations. If you're a Walking Dead hater like me, but want to try out another disease-apocalypse based dystopia, I recommend this!

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Those are my top picks for the last two months! What have you been reading? Tell me about it in the comments!

Of course, the major life event for me is that my own book has been published! Unicorn Tracks is a lesbian YA Fantasy Romance. It tells the story of Mnemba, a safari guide and tracker, who falls in love with a Unicorn Naturalist who visits her country. When the unicorns Kara loves are abducted and enslaved to build a railway, the two girls have to find a way to save them, while trying to resist each other. 

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2016 Reading Wrap Up – Jan/Feb

ReadingWrap

One of my goals for 2016 was to keep a more up to date reading blog! Given that I barely ever blog about the books I read, improvement is pretty easy!  I don't write negative reviews on my blog, so in each category, I will only list my top pick and a runner up!

Click the links to add to your GoodReads! I just finished a manuscript, so planning to do A LOT of reading in March!  Tell me about your favourites in the comments or let me know what you thought of the books!

 

By the Numbers

There will be some overlap in these statistics due to genre/age group/etc.

So far in 2016, I have read 18 books. 

12/18 were Young Adult

3/18 featured a LGBTQIA protagonist. 

5/18 featured a POC protagonist. 

3/18 were New Adult

2/18 were Non-fiction 

11/18 were High Fantasy

 

Young Adult

Top Pick, Rated: 5 Stars

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Wow. Where to begin? I finished this entire 400pg book in less than 24 hours. I couldn't stop reading, even when I was supposed to be at work.

When I was a teenager, I absolutely loved Timeline by Michael Crichton. I read my copy over and over again until it was a tattered mess that I eventually dropped in the bathtub. Into the Dim reminded me a lot ofTimeline … but a version that was written pretty much exactly for me.

I think because I share so many things with Hope, the book had special resonance for me. I'm an American living in Scotland. I moved here initially to pursue a PhD in Medieval Literature. Hope lives in America, then travels to Scotland when her mom vanishes … and travels to London in the Middle Ages. 

Despite its length, this book was a fast paced read. I loved the cast of incredible characters — especially Lucinda and Phoebe. I loved how Janet B. Taylor managed to touch on some real issues about the 12th century court that are often glossed in fiction that isn't strictly historical, like raging anti-Semitism and a husband's literal ownership of his wife. 

Janet managed to capture so many amazing and separate settings. I loved the evolving love story. Basically cannot wait for the next book.

 

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Runner Up, Rated: 5 Stars

This was basically my face through the entire book. The writing made me giddy from the first chapter. I can't believe it took me so long to read this. Someone should have taken me aside and told me to suspend everything else in my life until I gave it a shot. 

I loved the pace. I loved the world building. I LOVED CHAOL … like possibly more than all male-romantic heroes, ever. I love the silent awkward type and he fulfilled my every wish.

Celaena is SUCH an interesting character. I loved that she was an assassin with morals. A badass fighter with a strong love of dresses and frills. Tough and bristly but gets giddy around Dorian. 

If this wasn't a series I would have had issues with some of the plot holes or lack of information on Celaena 's background. But I'm hoping all my questions will be answered by the following books!

 

Diverse Protagonist 

Top Pick, Rated: 4 Stars

This is a Short and You can Read it Online!

Spectacular twist, that I really was not expecting!! The writing was excellent and I really did not see the ending coming, yet once it happened, it seemed like the clues had been laid all along …

I felt Dunya should have had more character, progression though. I realise it's a short, but she never seemed to evolve and I was shocked by how she interacted with her father after he effectively pawned her off to be killed.

 

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Runner Up, Rated: 4 Stars

 

Suki Fleet has a truly magical way of writing about emotion. Sometimes while reading this, I would stop and reflect on the metaphors she created and realised she had perfectly captured the feeling, in a really visceral way that the reader feels.

Her prose is beautifully constructed and it sings. 

The protagonist, Micky, was adorable. 

I read THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY last year. FOXES will definitely appeal to fans of Suki's previous work. It's another harrowing adventure on the UK streets, following a homeless tech wizard struggling to make it while he searches for his friend's killer, a sadistic 'shark' who preys on teen prostitutes. This kind of had a modern Jack the Ripper feel to it, and I liked that. 

I do find with Suki's writing that sometimes the unrelenting sadness can get to be much. At certain points, I did find myself becoming numb. That being said, numbness is a symptom of grief, so maybe that's what she was going for.