Sunday, March 29, 2015

The One Where Jamie Takes A Break

When it comes to a blog, what is failure?

Is it having almost 20000 page views in three years?
Is it having 52 comments (that aren’t my own) on 142 posts?
Is it having four followers?
Is it having no entries for the giveaway I posted last week?

No, none of these things makes my blog a failure. In my opinion, this blog isn’t a failure. I posted 143 times over three years. I’ve written thousands of words on a weekly schedule for over two years. None of these numbers tell me that Jamie, Write Now is a failure. Because to me, failure isn’t in the stats, it’s in the lack of connection.

Even with the comments, from family, friends and a few prolific YA bloggers, I feel as though I’m writing to a void. I know I’m not. (Shout out to my mom, boyfriend and a couple close friends who read weekly!) I appreciate the family and friends who check in; your continued support and readership means so much to me. But I've come to realize that I want to connect with the bookish community primarily as an author instead of as a blogger.

So I'm going on hiatus from Jamie, Write Now for the time being. I don’t know yet if this will be a permanent hiatus. I simply haven’t decided, and I want some distance from posting weekly before I do.  Mostly, I want a few months away to focus solely on my WIP.

I’m going to spend all my writing time on Aspen, my WIP. Right now I’m in the midst of editing, and it’s tough. It requires time and focus, which hopefully I’ll have more of in these upcoming months. And I’m going to read A LOT, and not just YA. Next on my queue is Shane Dawson’s I Hate Myselfie, which teens are buying like crazy at work right now. I hope to learn a little something about what teens are reading, and about being successful on social media from Mr. Dawson. I also plan on reading Tribes by Seth Godin, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. And of course I plan on diving into my stack of YA novels that are strewn across my room, bookshelves and desk.

Jamie, Write Now taught me a lot, and it’ll be tough (so tough!) not to post next Sunday. But deep down, I know this is the right choice.

I will return, whether it’s here or with another project, in one or two or five months, probably closer to the latter. (I’ve already written a Six Star Review for Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson, which releases in early July that I want to share!)

Until then, I'm still Jamie, Write Now, even if I don’t post here weekly.
Twitter: @jamiewritenow
Instagram: jamiewritenow

To those who read this post, whether this is your first or your 143rd, I truly appreciate you for reading. Thank you for listening to this crazy-eyed writer’s words. You being there, no matter when or where you’re reading this from, means the world to me.

Until we meet again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Love, Death and Authors in Cincinnati (+ giveaway!)

       "All good books are about either love or death.” –Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lauren Oliver shared this quote last Monday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati. She read it years ago, and it helped inspire her to write the Delirium trilogy. Also at the event with Lauren were two YA authors local to the Cincinnati area, Mindy McGinnis and Jasmine Warga.


Love and death are two common themes in fiction, and these three authors let both of them run rampant through their stories. (That’s a good thing, btw.)  Lauren Oliver, who's celebrating the release of her ninth novel, Vanishing Girls, talked about how she uses fiction to get as close as possible to limits that seem unbreachable or unknowable. She writes fiction to ask questions that she doesn’t know how to answer herself. Mindy McGinnis, whose next book A Madness So Discreet releases this fall, said that authors can investigate issues of mortality in fiction with a free hand. Jasmine Warga, debut author of My Heart and Other Black Holes, talked about the theme of death at length. Her debut novel stars two teens contemplating suicide who meet online, which she wrote after unexpectedly losing someone close to her. Jasmine wanted to explore the questions: What does it mean to live? and Is it possible to be in a dark place and dig yourself out of that hole? All fiction deals with mortality to some extent according to Jasmine, and I agree. Lauren Oliver said that grappling with the meaning of life is essential. And to grapple with it, we deal with issues of life, death and our own mortality as humans.
Lauren Oliver, Mindy McGinnis and Jasmine Warga

Of course, the event wasn’t all serious. There were plenty of laughs, like when Mindy shared her writing playlists (cricket sounds, and if she’s not in a very good mood, static) and when Lauren shared the drama of her first summer job (she was a lifeguard and dated both snack bar guys even though they were best friends, which was a huge scandal). These fabulous authors talked about what books got them into reading and writing (Lauren: Wind in the Willows and Redwall; Mindy: A Wrinkle in Time; Jasmine: Matilda and Anne of Green Gables). They talked about their writing schedules, how they get their story ideas and shared their take on social media. After a lively, inspiring and thought-provoking discussion, the event moved onto the signing, chatting and picture-taking portion!
The books I'm adding to my signed collection!

Lauren Oliver and me!

Now to the giveaway! Recently I’ve been contemplating giving away some of my older ARCs (my shelves are bursting) and I realized this event would be the perfect opportunity to throw in a signed book! So, I’m giving away a signed paperback of Panic by Lauren Oliver, as it was one of my top ten books of 2014! Also, I’m giving away an unsigned ARC of Rooms by Lauren Oliver. This is Lauren’s first (and presently only) novel for adults, and it’s a read-with-the-lights-on tale. I’ll be selecting one winner (who gets both books!) in a week, so keep an eye on your inboxes then! (Giveaway is open to US/CAN only.)
The books I'm giving away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: This post is an unofficial account of the event with Lauren Oliver, Mindy McGinnis and Jasmine Warga on March 16, 2015 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, OH. The views that I present in this post are my interpretations of the event, and they do not necessarily represent the opinions of the authors, their publisher or any affiliates.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Most Anticipated Teen Releases: Spring 2015

Springtime is my favoritest of times, and all these amazing books only help! A new series by Sarah J. Maas?! Sequels to Kiss of Deception and Prisoner of Night and Fog?! I’ll actually be glad for those rainy April and May days so I can stay inside and read! 

March 24
We All Looked Up—Tommy Wallach
What it’s about: They always say that high school is the best time of your life. Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait. Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.
Why I’m excited: Because even though the first line of the description is super cliché, it gets seriously interesting fast. An asteroid plummeting toward Earth?! I can see how that might change what people will do and how they’ll act and maybe bring down civilization in the process…

March 31
Black Dove, White Raven—Elizabeth Wein
What it’s about: Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes-in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat. Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?
Why I’m excited: Because Code Name Verity was a jaw-dropping, fist-clenching historical fiction novel which I loved. (And I’ve been meaning to dive into Rose Under Fire for months now, but I haven’t because I know I’ll need to be prepared for its awesomeness.) Plus, I'm unfamiliar with 1930s Ethiopia, so I can't wait to dive into this time and place!

April 21
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke--Anne Blankman
What it’s about: The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives in England, posing as an ordinary German immigrant. Her love, Daniel, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content. But then Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen's world turns upside down. When she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she'd escaped—and return to her homeland. As they work to clear Daniel's name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time—or will Hitler discover them first?
Why I’m excited: Because WWII historical fiction is my thing. Also, I adored Prisoner of Night and Fog, the first in this series. It was an edge-of-your-seat thriller (see my six star review here) which I DID NOT want to end. So I'm excited to pick this one up and dive back into that world!

April 28
An Ember in the Ashes—Sabaa Tahir
What it’s about: Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution. Elias is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor. When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
Why I’m excited: Because I’ve already heard great things about this debut! I’ve heard it’s gritty and dark, and I can’t wait to dive into this fierce fantasy! (And I will soon as I managed to grab the DRC!)

May 5
Court of Thorns and Roses—Sarah J. Maas
What it’s about: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it or doom Tamlin and his world forever.
Why I’m excited: Because Maas is one of my favorite authors. Throne of Glass is a brilliant, heart-pounding, intricately-woven series, and I can’t wait to dive into another one of Maas’ fantasy tales! (Seriously, I’m so anxious for this book that I think about it DAILY. Just over seven weeks until its release!)

May 12
The Wrath and the Dawn—Renée Ahdieh
What it’s about: Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch—she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
Why I’m excited: Because there was an unexpected twist in the description, so can you imagine how the book’s going to be? Plus, I need to know how Shazi falls in love with a Caliph who executes his new brides at sunrise. I want these questions answered, so I'll be reading this book for sure!

July 7

Heart of Betrayal—Mary E. Pearson
What it’s about: Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape and even less of being together. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komisar that she has a magical gift, and the Komisar's interest in Lia is greater than either of them foresaw. In Venda, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to her, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom she always believed to be barbarians but whom she now realizes are people who have been terribly brutalized. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her very sense of self, Lia will have to make powerful choices that affect her country, her people and her own destiny.
Why I’m excited: Because I’ve already read this book and loved it! Sometimes sequels are lackluster, but this one shined brightly, and I can’t wait to purchase my copy. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I’ll pre-order it! Kiss of Deception was one of my favorite books of 2014 (see my six star review here), and this sequel raised the stakes so high that I’m already anxious for the third book!

What new releases are you excited for this spring?
*Book descriptions were adapted from those on 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Work In Progress (Codename: Aspen)

I don’t talk about my writing as much as I gush over awesome books, but here it goes. I’m writing a book! (Obvious? Maybe. Worth repeating? Always.) I call it Aspen, after the main character. I wrote the first draft in NaNoWriMo last year, and I’m now editing it. I’ve done some things differently with Aspen than I did with my previous WIP. First of all, I became a pantser, which is totally not my style. Then, after I finished writing the first draft, I read through it and wrote a summary of Aspen. I spent a couple weeks writing and tweaking a four-page summary of the book, and now I'm editing my draft to match. So far this method has been working for me, but then I’m only about a quarter of the way through the edit.

Since it seems weird to spend so much time on something and rarely talk about it, I thought I’d share some stuff about Aspen. Here’s the description (which I just wrote last week and I’ve already changed about a bazillion times, so it’s by no means perfect):

Aspen's just seven years old when she wanders past her grandpa's shed and into another world. Even though she's there for only fifteen minutes, she sees something she’s only seen in storybooks: a unicorn. After she returns to her own world, she spends the next ten years dreaming about the blue grass and green sky of the world she calls Unicorn Valley.

Trying to escape her problems, seventeen year-old Aspen returns to the portal, hoping to find the same simple fantasy world that she left behind. But when she crosses over, she’s captured by Oliver, the Prince of Cal Mere. As she delves further into this world and it's problems, she realizes this journey might not the straightforward fairy tale she was hoping for after all.

Last week I posted the prologue, which is the tale of Aspen’s first journey into Cal Mere, on Wattpad. Check it out here! And I recently updated my WIP page to include a short excerpt from after Aspen arrives back in Cal Mere. Read that here!

Please let me know what you think! A writer can always use constructive criticism. J

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Seven Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read Yet

Do you ever look through your home library and wonder: Why haven’t I read this book yet? I’d know I’d love it, so why haven’t I made time for it? I ask myself these questions way too often. I have hundreds of books, and I need to read more of what’s on my shelf! So here's the challenge: take a look at my list below and tell me what I should read next! I own two of these books in hard copy, and have the rest in e-book form, but I want to know what YOU recommend, whether based on the descriptions (courtesy of or your own reading experience.

The Naturals—Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. She can tell you who you are and what you want, but it's not a skill that she's ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they've begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie. She’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. When a killer strikes, danger looms close. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns—Rae Carson
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, and hasn’t done anything remarkable. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. He needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. Yet he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
The Outsiders—S.E. Hinton
Three brothers struggle to stay together after their parents' death, as they search for an identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society in which they find themselves "outsiders." The ruthlessly realistic and violent story of the Greasers and the Socs, rival gangs from very different sides of the railroad tracks, is narrated by Ponyboy Curtis, a smart, sensitive kid forced to be tough on the outside, but who underneath is just as scared and needy as anyone.
Finnikin at the Rock—Melina Marchetta
Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles. Now Finnikin’s on the cusp of manhood and joins forces with an enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere.
The Archived—Victoria Schwab
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, but now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
The Raven Boys—Maggie Stiefvater
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. This year, a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. He's on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, Ronan and Noah. Blue has always been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem until her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys.
Uglies—Scott Westerfeld
In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. When Shay runs away, the authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
Which one of these books should jump to the top of my TBR pile? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five Authors I Have on Auto-Read

You have them, you know you do. Authors whose books you crave. Authors whose books you go to the bookstore for on release day. Or, even better, wait impatiently for by the mailbox because you ordered it months before. Authors you have on auto-read. Here are the authors I auto-read, and why I MUST HAVE THEIR NEWEST BOOK AS SOON AS IT RELEASES. (Yes, all those caps are necessary.)

Ally Carter
Ever since I got my hands on Heist Society, Ally Carter has been on auto-read for me. That series was just so me (not that I’m Robin Hood or anything), but Kat and Hale and ugh! It’s like Ocean’s Eleven for teens, but so much better. Plus, I’ve read and enjoyed Gallagher Girls. I rarely pre-order books (bad, Jamie!) but I did pre-order All Fall Down (signed edition!) and it was so worth it! I can’t wait for more Heist Society novels and the sequel to All Fall Down!

Gayle Forman
I realized as I was making this list that I’ve read all of Forman’s novels. Honestly, I was surprised. I consider Just One Day and Just One Year two of my favorites (definitely my favorites of her collection) and even though I don’t fangirl over her as much as some authors, Forman is a consistently great author. I know when I pick up a Forman novel (just as I did recently with I Was Here) that it will be a thought-provoking, soul-searching journey, and I love that about her.

Sarah J. Maas
Celeana. Chaol. Dorian. If you haven’t read the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, you must. This series is enthralling. You will read it fervently. The characters will make you gasp, laugh and cry. Oh, what I’d give to have Queen of Shadows, the fourth book that comes out this fall, in my hands. Also, my desire for A Court of Thorns and Roses haunts my soul daily. (I just pre-ordered it yesterday!)

Rainbow Rowell
I’ve read every single book that Rainbow Rowell has published, which is rare for me since her novels are all stand-alones. Eleanor & Park was my first Rowell adventure, and that impressed me so much I read an ADULT FICTION NOVEL. Whaaaaat? I know. I read Attachments, and loved it. I held off on Fangirl for a while because I knew it would be THE ONE for me. But I did eventually read it and I was right, it's my favorite Rowell so far! Then I read Landline (another adult fiction novel!) last summer. You can bet that I’ll be reading Carry On shortly after its release!

J.K. Rowling
I mean, duh. Harry Potter is the end-all be-all, and even though J.K. Rowling has yet to impress me following Deathly Hallows, I will read everything she publishes. Yes, I read Casual Vacancy and ehh. Yes, I read The Cuckoo’s Calling and was mildly intrigued. I haven’t yet read The Silkworm, but I will. Rowling writes across genres, and I’m ready for something science fiction. Or solidly YA. (Squeee!)

What authors do you have on auto-read?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ten Book Related Problems I Have

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! Yes, yes, I know it’s Sunday. But I post on Sundays and this way I’m prepared for Tuesday, once it rolls around. Anyway, TTT is a great thing hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic: Ten Book Related Problems I Have. As they say, more books, more problems…

1.     Too Many Books
There are too many books to read!!! I’m not complaining about how many books there are in publication, or how many I own. I’m just saying I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to, and that scares me. It scares me to my very core.

2.     Not Enough Time
Stupid work. Okay, I’m exaggerating, I like my job. But working 40 hours a week and writing and boyfriend time, well, it really infringes on my reading time.

3.     Reading as an Editor
I’m not an editor by trade, but I am writing/editing my own book and sometimes I catch myself editing as I’m reading a book that’s not my own! Ugh.

4.     Protecting my books/nook
Water is an ever-present danger, mostly when I’m in the bath. Reading in the bath is relaxing, but sometimes I fear dropping my book. And of course, if I’m reading something on my nook, I don’t take it into the bath—that's far too risky!

5.     Space
I have hundreds of books. I have three bookshelves, at least seven bins of books, books at my parent’s house, books stacked in random places on my desk, nightstand, a small shelf here, there and everywhere! I shove books in any available space, and someday I may run out of space. L

6.     Waiting
Books have release dates, and sometimes it’s torture waiting for them!

7.     Love Squares
Anything more than a love triangle really pisses me off. (To put it delicately.) I’ve only seen a few, but seriously, a love square? A love octagon? Too much.

8.     Shotty World-Building
I’m a fantasy reader, and nothing turns me off like a world that isn’t fully-formed, or one that doesn't make sense. World-building takes time and effort, as I'm discovering while writing my own fantasy novel.

9.     Inability to Sacrifice
Character death is hard to write and to read, but unfortunately it’s realistic. When an author can’t part with their characters, when the happily ever after seems a little too happy, it alienates me pretty quickly.

10.   Haters
Haters gonna hate, but I’m convinced that fellow readers shouldn’t get down on each other for what they read. No matter if it’s Twilight, 50 Shades, or even Jonathan Franzen. If you read, you’re cool with me!


What are some of your book related problems?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Red Queen and her Silver Lining

Recently I’ve been overwhelmed by the sea of new fantasies. So many amazing books are coming out the next few months—debuts, series beginnings, series continuations. It’s almost too much for me to handle! But in the midst of it all, there are a few that stand out, and Red Queen is one of those books. The concept is creative and the tension high, so I was thrilled to find myself in possession of an ARC of this lovely title and with just enough time to read it before it comes out Tuesday!

Red Queen

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.


My Thoughts
Red Queen is eloquent and fantastical with an intricate and interesting world. It tells the story of one girl, Mare, who's different, and what that means in her world, the land of Norta, where those with Red blood serve those with Silver blood.

Instead of diving into the story the moment Mare learns she’s different, Aveyard builds the world around Mare’s life. We learn about Mare's family—her three brothers who were conscripted into the King’s war, her younger sister who’s going to be a seamstress, her mother’s sorrow and her father’s war injury. Mare herself has made peace with the fact that she’s going to war, until a meeting with a mysterious stranger changes her course. This is world-building at its finest. Even though Aveyard doesn’t jump right to the moment Mare discovers she’s different from her friends and family, the seventy pages before that moment aren’t boring in the least. Plenty happens, including First Friday, in which we learn that those with Silver blood have powers like enhanced strength and the ability to control minds.

“The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.” –page 11

The moment everything changes is a big one, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, actually I rather enjoy wetting your appetite for this amazing and powerful scene. Mare’s ability, witnessed by many Silvers, becomes the means by which the King of Norta blackmails her. From this point on, I couldn’t put Red Queen down! Mare’s strong and stubborn, and the fact that she’s strung between the King and the rebel group, the Scarlet Guard, meant I needed to know what happened. The intrigue and tension only got higher and better as the book continued! Plus, Aveyard's words are full of imagery. There were so many descriptions and metaphors that popped, making me love her style of writing.

Then there are the boys. Prince Cal is destined to be King, and while he’s loyal to his father, he has a soft spot for Mare. Prince Maven, Cal’s younger brother, is now betrothed to Mare, and even though she doesn’t feel connected to him at first, she gradually comes to realize they have a lot in common. And that’s not all! Kilorn, Mare’s childhood friend, was once an innocent apprentice to a fisherman, but now he’s joined the rebellion, and Mare can’t protect him anymore. Aveyard is setting up a killer love story, as well as a killer fantasy trilogy!

“I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.” –page 106

Red Queen comes out this Tuesday, February 10th, and I recommend it if you love intricate storylines, lovely descriptions and fantastical fantasies! Just remember, “anyone can betray anyone.”

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Futuristic Fairy Tales: Marissa Meyer in Cincinnati

Yesterday Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles series, was in Cincinnati! She visited the amazing Joseph-Beth Books, who threw a Lunar Ball in honor of the release of Fairest, Queen Levana’s story.


Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told... until now.


My Thoughts

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to like Fairest. (Spoiler alert: I loved it!) A tale from the point-of-view of an evil queen? I didn’t need her back story to dislike her. The first three books of the Lunar Chronicles had already proven to me she’s not a nice person. But as I read, I came to realize that Levana’s story is important. It gives her dimension, though not a flattering one. In sharing what happened to Levana before we met Cinder, Meyer emphasizes that it wasn’t in Levana’s nature to be an evil queen, but it was how she was nurtured (or the lack of nurturing) that transformed her into the villain of the story. Levana suffered from the fact that her parents didn’t care for her, and then were assassinated when she was sixteen years old. Levana suffered from her older sister, Channary’s torment, the details of which are divulged in the book. Fairest doesn’t have a main character we root for, but it gave us a villain to root against. I recommend it to all fans of fairy tales, villians and of course, the Lunar Chronicles!


The Event!

First order of business: THE RUMORS ARE TRUE! Winter will be over 800 pages! Shortly after Marissa came out (to clapping and cheering), she shared with us that she finished writing Winter just last week! This is, of course, thrilling news and November can’t come soon enough because I need to know what happens to Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and I’m excited to dive into Winter’s story.

But I got a little ahead of myself... Last night, the Lunar Ball kicked off at 6PM, with two games of trivia and a costume contest. Joseph-Beth Booksellers went the extra mile to welcome Marissa and readers to the event. I grabbed a trivia packet, which included a word search, crossword and code-breaking game that used Fairest to decipher a secret sentence. After using my exceptional skill (this is where sarcasm font would come in handy) and my copies of the books, I won a small Lunar Chronicles gift bag with two postcards, two stickers, a bookmark and a button. Swag is the best!

The event got underway when Marissa Meyer joined us to judge the costume contest. Cheers to all those who dressed up—I saw some amazing Queen Levana, Scarlet, Cress and Cinder costumes as well as some generally fancy folks! Marissa talked a little bit about Fairest, and how the story came to be. Then she shared a special excerpt from Winter, one that isn’t in the three chapter preview at the end of Fairest! I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s just say that Jacin might not be quite the heartless jerk that he’s been portrayed as so far…

Talking to the crowd!

After reading the excerpt, Marissa answered some questions for the crowd. She’s an expert question-answerer by the way—it was quick-fire and she probably got through twenty-five questions in twenty minutes while still giving satisfying answers. Marissa talked about how the series came to be (she wrote a Puss in Boots short story set in the future then had a dream where instead of losing her slipper, Cinderella’s whole foot fell off—she’s a cyborg!). Marissa talked movie rights (which sold a few years ago, and last she heard they were working on a script 18 months ago) and that she would love to see Emma Watson play Scarlet in the movie version (which would be a dream come true!). Marissa also shared what she’s working on in the future! In 2016, she’s releasing Heartless, a prequel to Alice in Wonderland focused on the Queen of Hearts and how she got a proclivity for beheading. Marissa’s also working on a trilogy about superheroes, super villains and the gray areas in between. Umm, can I have all five books (Winter, Heartless and the hero trilogy) now please?

Of course, even though members of the crowd asked, Marissa didn’t divulge any Winter spoilers—we don’t know how it will end or if anyone dies but she did say, unfortunately, that “it’s a revolution and sometimes people die in revolutions.” Nooooo!

Then came the signing!

Check out the gorgeous backdrop!

Marissa and me!
My lovelies.
Signed copy of Fairest plus swag!

Thanks Marissa for writing the Lunar Chronicles, coming to the Midwest and generally being awesome!


Disclaimer: This post is an unofficial account of the event with Marissa Meyer on January 31, 2015 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, OH. The views that I present in this post are my interpretations of the event, and they do not necessarily represent the opinions of Marissa Meyer, her publisher or any affiliates.