These Things I’ve Done: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips which published August 2017 from Harper Teen. I received this title from Eric Smith, (thanks so much again!) as a review copy. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away. Though I will warn you that:

  1. This book surrounds the theme of death. Please take caution while reading.
  2. There is an incident of sexual harassment and it is talked about through some parts of the story.

These Things I’ve Done will punch you in the gut as it deals heavily with grief and its different stages: anger, guilt, understanding, etc. It has been on my list to read for the longest time and it did not disappoint.

Capture.PNG

It is told in two alternating time periods, before and after the death of Dara’s best friend, Aubrey. These tales do eventually weave together in order to create a cohesive past as well as help the reader understand Dara’s relationship with Aubrey, and who Dara was before the incident. After reading both the first chapter of before and the first chapter of after, it broke my heart to see the stark contrast in Dara’s personality. Phillips did an amazing job at depicting a believable stage of grief, but it didn’t stop there. She dug into the layers of Dara’s psyche to show a teenage girl who was suffering, who didn’t know how to find forgiveness within herself.

The main premise is Dara returns to her hometown over a year after the death of Aubrey. She believes it is time to face the consequences of her horrible action and drown in the suffering she thinks she deserves. Her parents are unsteady around her and her little brother who she was once so close with is afraid of her. All of her former friends want nothing to do with her.  None of this compares to seeing Aubrey’s little brother, Ethan, someone who had been a huge part of her life prior to Aubrey’s death. Reacquainting with him leads to a roller coaster of emotions, unresolved problems, and finding acceptance. It also allows us as readers to gain a better sense of who Audrey was, both as a friend, and as a sister.

The story doesn’t leave you with a bleak outlook on life. It does have some sad bits and a lot of lines that will cling to your heart and not let you go, but it offers hope. It shows a way out of the darkness especially when you believe choices and actions cannot be undone. It shows that there will always be people to accept you and pick you up during the most difficult moments of your life.

Overall, it gets 4/5 stars from me and I will definitely be keeping an eye on whatever Rebecca Phillips has in store next.

Xx

Megan

Advertisements

SST Blog Tour: This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

Hi Readers & Writers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the banner above, I am a part of the Sunday Street Team This Mortal Coil Blog Tour! If you haven’t read or heard of This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, it’s time to change that. The dystopian world was one of the most unique I ever read and I loved the blend of science and technology that Emily weaved into the pages. You will find twist after twist as the novel progresses to the end, but of course, I won’t spoil anything. You’ll have to read it yourself.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the synopsis, an interview with Emily, a giveaway, and where the Sunday Street Team is heading next!

Synopsis: 

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33876440-this-mortal-coil

Preorder Links:
Amazon- US: This Mortal Coil
Barnes & Nobles: This Mortal Coil
Book Depository:This Mortal Coil

Before I proceed, I want to give a huge thank you to Emily for answering my questions!

1: Part of what sucked me into This Mortal Coil was the science involved, or rather the idea of being able to hack and change genes. Did you always want to write a story like this or did it unravel as you were brainstorming?

I’ve always been a science nerd, ever since I was a kid – so it’s natural that I’d include a lot of science in my writing. However, the first book I wrote (which will never see the light of day) didn’t really involve any science. It was a few years ago, and there wasn’t as much interest in STEM then, so I didn’t think readers would be interested. However, it was hard to keep my nerdiness out of my writing, so I started working on This Mortal Coil as a passion project. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in so much wild future science, and honestly didn’t know if it would get published – but since then I’ve found so many readers who’ve loved the science aspects of the book, which fills my heart with so much joy!

2:  Would you have a genkit if they were real and if so, what app would want to have on there? I would totally go for one that allowed my hair to be all kinds of bright colors.

I would definitely have a genkit! I think I’d delve into amateur genehacking. I’d really like a skullnet and the ability to write and work without typing. I’d also like super-human eyesight and magnetoreception. I hate being cold, so the ability to grow a little fur in the winter doesn’t sound bad, either.

3: What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I really hope that readers will be intrigued by the moral questions about genetic technology that the book raises. We’re already able to edit DNA, and though the process is complex, specific and expensive, it’s almost a guarantee that one day it will be cheaper, flexible and easy. We as a society have a lot of conversations ahead of us about how to approach that frontier, and a lot of today’s teens will grow up to become the scientists who’ll shape our future. Starting to ask these questions now isn’t just fun and interesting – it’s important.

Also I hope they take away the fact that they really, really need book 2 (mwahahaha…)

4: Describe This Mortal Coil in three words.

Scientific, convoluted, and explosive!

5: What’s one scientific discovery you’d like to see happen in your lifetime?

I really, really hope to see robust solutions to antimicrobial resistance – which is when bacteria evolve and antibiotics stop working on them. The problem of fast-evolving ‘superbugs’ is a very real one, and it poses a serious threat to society. There’s a lot of cool work going on with CRISPR-based drugs and modified bacteriophage (real-world genehacking is happening right now!) so I’d love to see these treatments become mainstream before simple things like infections from a graze or cut become life-threatening, as they once were, back in pre-penicillin days.


6: Can you tell us one thing you worked on in regards to coding that you particularly enjoyed?

I love everything about coding! I’ve enjoyed every coding project I’ve tackled – but my favorite thing has to be playing around in a language I’ve never used before. When I’m getting familiar with a new language, I like choosing small, fun projects to teach myself how to use it. I’ll spend hours looking at other people’s work in that language, googling how to do specific things, and generally messing around. It’s so much fun. I particularly enjoy projects that create a visual or interactive experience – like a button that shows you a picture, or plots a chart of data – those are really rewarding once they’re working!


7: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

When I was kid, I used to get in trouble in class for reading books under my desk. I’d sit back in my chair and lay a book across my lap and read it surreptitiously. I didn’t get caught often 😀

About the Author:

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

Author’s Social Media:

Blog: http://emilysuvada.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilysuvada
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16320871.Emily_Suvada
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilysuvada
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emily.suvada/

GIVEAWAY: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c3165933117/

 

Tour Schedule:

11/5 Tour Stops

Interview – Megan Manzano

Review  – Books N Calm

Review – Dani Reviews Things

Interview – Fly Leaf Chronicles

Unique Post – Book Stacks Amber

11/12  Tour Stops

Guest Post – Mikayla’s Bookshelf

Interview –Reading is Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

Review – Sarcasm and Lemons

Unique Post – Downright Dystopian

Review – Here’s To Happy Endings

11/19  Tour Stops

Interview – Books, Boys, and Blogs

Review – Emily Reads Everything

Review – The Book Corps

Unique Post – Life of a Literary Nerd

Review – Bay in Wonderland

11/26 Tour Stops

Review – A Gingerly Review

Review –  Pretty Deadly Blog

Interview – Library of a Book Witch

Guest Post – The Hermit Librarian

My Comic Con 2017 Roundup!

This year was my first ever Comic Con and honestly I was blown away. There was so much to see on the convention floor, between the costumes, vendors, and activities hosted for people to participate in. I couldn’t even anticipate the crowd, but the energy bouncing off everyone was addicting.

I arrived about an hour early, reading a book in typical fashion as I waited for the doors to open. I was let in ten minutes prior to the show opening and of course made my way to the Macmillan booth in order to get Renegades by Melissa Myer. I was successful and that became the first book of the day that I acquired!

The rest of the day was spent navigating through the book booths, waiting for ARCs to drop, trying not to spend a ton of money on Pop Figures, and taking pictures with tons of A+ cosplayers. Some notable costumes were:

22159087_186893125189058_4020606013492166656_n(1)

  1. Rick and Morty, but not just dressed like them. Rather, two people had crafted papier-mâché heads.
  2. The Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter. Seriously, these costumes were gorgeous and so on point.
  3. A scarily accurate costume of Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story. The weirdest thing about the photo I took with this person was their chipper voice underneath.
  4. An amazingly well done Demogorgan from Strangers Things! I squealed at happiness about this. In tandem, there were also tons of Elevens with eggos!
  5. Really elaborate Wonder Woman Costumes. I mean, how can you not go for this option?
  6. Anime characters galore – Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon. The list goes on and on. I have to mention the fact people were screaming randomly throughout the hall I think as a promotion for Dragon Ball Z.

Now, onto the books! I walked away from Comic Con with about fifteen books and a good set of swag. I probably should have picked up more swag, but my shoulders were going to break from what I already had. Some books I took with me and need to read immediately are:

  1. Renegades as I already mentioned. I was super shocked to get this one as I thought I would not make it in time once the venue opened.
  2. Children of Blood and Bone. I found out last minute they were giving fLi4XBWp_400x400these away and rushed over to the booth. I now hold this amazing book in my hands and I cannot wait to read it.
  3. Reign of the Fallen. LGBT characters, fantasy, and a stunning cover. SIGN. ME. UP.
  4. Dread Nation. I didn’t know these were going to be at Comic Con, but you bet I freaked the heck out once I lined up for Epic Reads and it was one of the options.
  5. Beasts Made of Night. I’ve heard such interesting things about the book and I was lucky to meet the author and have him sign my copy! There was so much joy on Tochi’s face to be at a con promoting his debut novel. It warmed my heart.
  6. Defy the Worlds. Nearly screamed about this one. It was a total surprise to find ARCs of the second book by Claudia Gray. If you love AI, space travel, and A+ sci-fi, pick up the first book and then get this one too.

So what you can take away from this post is I geeked out and now have to hibernate for the winter in order to finish my TBR pile, which will likely never happen. Oh well, at least I’m trying to be optimistic about it!

Xx

Megan

SST Blog Tour: Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows

 

Hi Readers & Writers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the banner above, I am a part of the Sunday Street Team Mask of Shadows Blog Tour! If you haven’t read or heard of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller, it’s time to change that. I was lucky to win an ARC and was immediately entranced by Sal, the darkness of The Left Hand, and some other secrets I won’t reveal here.

Synopsis:

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling genderfluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But genderfluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Now if that doesn’t intrigue you, maybe this will:

Tips on How to Survive The Left Hand Auditions (from Linsey’s unqualified perspective)

  1. Don’t Audition

I know it’s probably not the thing you won’t to hear but look: it’s a fight to the death with a bunch of killers and fighters and alchemist, and depending on how many people audition, your chances aren’t high. Unless you’re secretly like my mentor Jessie Devine and could probably fight your way out of Igna.

  1. No, really, there are tons of other cool jobs you could do that don’t involve a 99% chance of getting murdered.

While very few people auditioned for the earlier spots in the Left Hand, the quartet has gained a romantic reputation now that the war and recovery is barely a memory to some of the younger teens of Igna. That’s twenty people out to kill you.

Which is probably about twenty more people out to kill you than usual. I hope. I don’t know you’re life.

  1. Ok, we’re really doing this. Let’s go.

So there are two ways to go about the audition: let everyone kill everyone else off in order to survive to the end; throw yourself into the fray and try to kill everyone; or a mix of both (sort of what Sal did). It’s sort of like Skyrim where you start off as either sneaky, punchy, or magic-y (poison in this case), but unlike Skyrim, you don’t have to end up as a sneaky archer.

You can do whatever you’re best at to survive. Surviving, no matter how, is the key.

  1. Follow the rules.

The downside of survival is that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive. That doesn’t fly at auditions. A large part of what the Left Hand looks for is how you react to rules, orders, morality, and hard choices. The rules are there for a reason, and you can’t be caught breaking them if you want to

So either be a rule-obeying murderer or don’t get caught breaking the rules.

  1. Be nice.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, the Left Hand doesn’t want to work with jerks. As they explain to Sal, they have to like their newest colleague, and Our Queen wants trustworthy guards and assassins. The Left Hand aren’t calculating or cold murderers with no morals. They’re empathetic and kind, and they also happen to murder people on occasion when the safety of their people depends upon it. They have all mentally made a choice that killing a few will protect the many.

  1. Be prepared to murder people.

This may seem obvious, but the auditions is a fight to the death. It’s not something to be undertaken lightly. I’ve kept a flippant tone; however, the Left Hand and the auditioners kill people, and there are very real mental, physical, and emotional ramifications. Auditions should not be undertaken lightly.

  1. Or be prepared to split.

Just get out of there. Surviving auditions—even if you aren’t named a Left Hand member—is still a pretty huge accomplishment. Eat some good food, get some cool, new black clothes, and duck out of auditions with your life intact.

  1. Play to your strengths.

Look at you! You’ve got angles that work! Use them. If you’re the punchiest person this side of the Caracol, punch your way through auditions. If you’re the sneakiest, sneak your way through auditions. Own your strengths!

The auditions are a fight to the death filled with the best, and if you’re in them, it means you’re the best. Use that. Everyone has a strength. Everyone has the potential to survive. You can and you will.

Everything else you need to know about the author, where to buy Mask of Shadows, how to win a copy of the book, and to read other posts from those on the tour can be found below!

About the Author:

A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in August 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

Goodreads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29960675-mask-of-shadows

Preorder Links:

The Book Depository || Barnes and Noble || IndieBound || Amazon

Social Media:

Website: www.linseymiller.com
Tumblr: www.linseymiller.tumblr.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LinseyMiller
Instagram: www.instagram.com/linsey.miller/
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/AuthorLinseyM/

 

 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

The Prize: 1 Copy of Mask Of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Open to US Residents Only


Here is the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4197540e138
 

Tour Stops

9/3 Tour Stops

 

Interview – Emily Reads Everything

Unique Post  – Roecker Reviews

Review – Bayy In Wonderland

Review – Bookishly Thinking

9/10  Tour Stops

Interview – Tween 2 Teen Books

Review –Charmingly Simple

Review – Pondering The Prose

Interview  – When Curiosity Killed The Cat

9/17  Tour Stops

Interview – YA and Wine

Style Boards – Here’s To Happy Endings

Review – Areli Reads

Review – The Hermit Librarian

Interview – Sarcasm and Lemons

9/24 Tour Stops

Interview – Flyleaf Chronicles

Review –  Books N Calm

Review – A Thousand Words A Million Books

Guest Post – Written Infinities

Debut Novels, Sisters, and Pants with Rachel Lynn Solomon

Hello Readers & Writers,

Joining me on the blog today is Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone which comes out January 2nd, 2018 from Simon Pulse. This is Rachel’s debut novel and I couldn’t be more than excited for it as I’ve heard it is a heart-wrenching and addicting read.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. 

YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE hi-res finalEighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

1: Thanks so much for joining me, Rachel! It’s great to have you on the blog. To start things off, how did you discover you liked to write?

Thank you for having me! Like a lot of writers, I’m sure, I can’t quite pinpoint “discovering” that I loved to write. It’s something I’ve always done: as a kid, I scribbled stories on stapled-together scraps of construction paper, as a teen, I posted stories on Fiction Press (which are still up there because I can’t remember my password), and in college, I studied journalism. I took a break from fiction during that time because I was pursuing journalism pretty hardcore, but once I graduated, I started and finished my first full-length novel. I queried it and got one request and many, many rejections, but I keep writing. Four books and many more rejections later, I had You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.

2:  Your debut novel comes out in January! That’s crazy exciting and probably terrifying, I’m sure. Where did the idea for You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone come from?

One day I tumbled down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and somehow wound up on a page about Huntington’s disease. The name was familiar—anyone who watched the show Everwood probably remembers a plotline involving a decision to get tested for HD—and I knew a little about the genetic testing some people with a family history of HD choose to undergo. As I continued researching, one particular statistic struck me: a child of a parent with Huntington’s disease has a 50/50 chance of inheriting it. I wondered, what if twin sisters received opposite results from a genetic test for Huntington’s? How would that affect their relationship and the trajectories of their lives?

3: Family, especially the bond between siblings, is a big influence in your book. Did you grow up with any siblings?

I have a sister who’s two years younger than I am. We were awful to each other until high school, when we started sharing some of our friends and extracurriculars. The sister relationship in my debut is not at all like the relationship between my sister and me. I don’t believe we’ve ever been competitive like they are, and I also don’t think there’s an undercurrent of jealousy between us…but maybe she’d have a completely different answer! J

4: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

When I decided to write about twin sisters, I wanted my characters to be equally ambitious, committed to goals they’d do anything to achieve. I would love especially for teens to see themselves in my bold, occasionally tempestuous girls who want things so desperately and refuse to bend to anyone’s whims but their own. I think the book is also sex-positive and hopefully empowering with regard to female sexuality and desire. Lastly, because there are so few books with Jewish characters that aren’t Holocaust narratives, I would also love for readers to learn a little more about Judaism.

5: Out of your characters, which one do you relate to the most and which do you differ from the most? 

I like to describe Tovah as the person I was in high school, and Adina as the person I was too afraid to be, the thoughts I had but never acted on. Strangely, I relate more to Adina because I was able to pour into her everything I never did but spent a lot of time thinking about 😉

6: Describe You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone in three words. 

Sisters at odds

7: What books influenced you or what books did you enjoy growing up?

Growing up, I inhaled Meg Cabot books. As a somewhat lonely teen who often struggled to make connections with other people, I found solace in her characters, many of whom were exactly like me. Her premises were so compelling, and all her characters were lovable and flawed in different ways. And her voice was just so fun! Even today, The Princess Diaries and All-American Girl are such comfort reads for me.

8: What are some hobbies you enjoy?

I tend to spend most of my free time tap dancing, playing with my sweet rescue dog Wally, and sitting in Seattle coffee shops and drinking anything except coffee! I also love experimenting with makeup, and I am addicted to Indian food. I wish I had more time to play piano and write songs, two things I loved as a teen.

9: Is there any advice you’d offer to other writers?

Write something that scares you a little, something that challenges you. The only way I feel I’m improving as a writer is if I take a risk with each new book.

10: Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

In high school, I sang and played keyboard in an all-girl band. We had a song called “Pants,” and at our very last show, people in the audience took off their pants and threw them onstage.

Author Bio: 

Rachel Lynn Solomon_photo credit Ian Grant

 

Rachel Lynn Solomon is the author of the upcoming
contemporary YA novel You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (Simon Pulse, 1/2/18). A former journalist, she has worked for NPR, produced a radio show that aired in the middle of the night, and currently works in education. You can find her online at http://www.rachelsolomonbooks.com/ and on Twitter @rlynn_solomon.
Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297395-you-ll-miss-me-when-i-m-gone

Thanks so much again to Rachel for taking the time to speak with me and don’t hesitate to preorder her stunning debut.
Xx
Megan

Starfish: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I received this book from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This will be mostly spoiler free so there is no need to click away.

There are many things I loved about Starfish; it was not afraid to tackle issues such as social anxiety, biracial identity, and unstable family life. I will point out the trigger of sexual abuse as it is a prevalent theme throughout the novel.

The story follows the main protagonist Kiko who is of half-Japanese heritage and is on the verge of finishing high school. She has a plan for herself: get into a New York City art school called Prism and follow her dreams of becoming a painter. Not only that but she will be able to escape her small town life in Nebraska where being Japanese makes her “exotic” and different than those around her.

She lives with her mother and two brothers, her relationships with each of them rather complex. Kiko’s mother constantly criticizes her and puts her desires and dreams at the bottom of her priority list. Kiko and her brothers cohabitate the same space without getting to know each other beyond the surface. Her father divorced her mother and lives with his new wife and recently born twin girls.

When Kiko’s plans for art school fall through, she at the same time reconnects with her old best friend, Jamie, who moved away during childhood. He offers her an escape from her overwhelming, emotionally manipulative mother and the grief of not getting into her dream school.

19424853_1536247779781430_8429821131782881280_n(1)

This contemporary novel is heavily focused on self-discovery and what it means to grow up, cope with plans that do not always work out, and toys with the idea that blood does not always mean family. What drew me in originally to Starfish was Kiko having social anxiety, something I struggled with for most of my life and still do. I found Kiko’s descriptions were insanely accurate, to the point I had to stop and show them to my friends. Kiko lends a voice to readers who deal with this and not in a way that undermines it. No, this book is very much about accepting social anxiety and realizing it does not make you a bad friend or a bad person. It is just a part of you that you will learn to handle and if you have good friends, they too will put in the effort. You have to do what makes you feel comfortable.

The next topic that drew me in was biracial identity, but more specifically how it impacts Kiko’s self-worth and identity. Kiko’s mother is white and has physical features associated with said identity: blonde hair, light skin, and light eyes. When Kiko looks at her mother, she doesn’t see any of those traits in herself, having taken after her dad who is Japanese. She grapples with the concept of beauty and if it is an agreed upon concept by society, or one that is subjective and ever changing. For teens who struggle with finding themselves and beauty in their features, Kiko offers the perfect narrative for it isn’t a journey that automatically happens. It takes time, tears, and breaking away from negative influences. The journey reads naturally and I found myself rooting for Kiko all throughout the story. I wanted her to radiate self-confidence and I wanted her to understand how beautiful she was. Tying into this idea was cultural identity and how Kiko didn’t have much of a Japanese culture due to her parent’s divorce and her mother’s view on not favoring an Asian lifestyle. In case you didn’t know, you’re going to hate Kiko’s mother, but unfortunately, her ignorant and narcissistic outlook on life is not unique. Other people have it too. However, it is through Kiko’s interactions with her mother that a reader is able to realize certain behaviors are not okay and should never be okay.

Starfish is beautifully written. The prose flows naturally and I love how each chapter ends with a work of art Kiko creates to reflect the events that have happened. Every character feels like a fleshed out, real person and you can’t help getting sucked into this world. I’m not going to forget about Starfish and the impact it had on me. I hugged the book to my chest after finishing it because the ending was such a heartwarming consolation that Kiko deserved. Aside from my perspective, I think this book can be an outlet for teens and offer the message that no one should tear you down or stop you from being who you need to be. If they’re doing that, chances are, you don’t need them in your life. You need to live for yourself and your dreams.

Overall, this book gets 5/5 stars from me and I would highly recommend it. I may wind up throwing it at everyone so it can be read asap!

Xx

Megan

Finishing My First Draft

Hi Readers & Writers,

As of three weeks ago, I completed the first draft of my YA dystopian novel or rather, a first draft that has been edited and changed as I searched through it for every error possible. Of course, this is an impossible task to accomplish alone.

It’s a surreal feeling now that it’s done and is slowly being handed off to my readers–whilst I try not to throw up every meal I’ve eaten. I didn’t expect to finish it or rather, there were days where finishing it seemed unlikely. I went through a three month period of not writing anything due to being stuck on a plot. This was extremely disappointing after writing two or three chapters a week for months straight.

Stepping away helped as well as discussing the entire plot with those I could trust. It took some wiggling, but eventually I unlocked the plot and was able to progress. I got stuck around the last three chapters which once again warranted a talk. Before I knew it, I was writing the final sentence. I stared at it for a good ten minutes, in shock, in awe, in question of what I was going to do after. P.S. It involves creating a new story.  

pexels-photo-317356.jpeg

Writing a book is no easy task, despite what some people will say. It requires plotting, putting your emotions out there, killing your darlings, and pushing past what may seem like an insurmountable amount of doubt. But what I’ve forced myself to think about, and what many others have told me, is I’ve completed something huge. I focused over a year of my time onto this story, allowing it to grow from its bare bones into a completed piece. I will still need to edit it and change parts, but the fact is I already showed I would put in the work. It’s a pretty awesome thing to see your work in progress become a tangible whole.

Since I finished my first draft, I figured I would offer tips to anyone who may be struggling or anyone who needs a boost of confidence.

  1. Every writer writes at a different pace. If you have friends who are managing to finish books in a few months, while you’re taking a year or longer, don’t panic. Books are a big deal and not everyone will work at the same speed or the same way. The bottom line is you have to be happy with your progress.
  2. Your first draft will be edited. You do not have to catch all the missing pieces of the puzzle in the first, second, or even third go. That’s what other sets of eyes are for.
  3. Find a group of people you can trust to read or discuss your work. Do not let this group grow too large. You want opinions, but opinions you can rely on by people who are not trying to harm you or your project. Also, make sure these people encourage you and are equally as excited about your story as you are. Enthusiasm can motivate.
  4. Plot if you need to. There are pantsers and plotters and people who fall in between these categories. Do what you need to do in order to get your story complete. If writing without a plan feels more natural to you, do it. If you need a thirty page outline to get your ideas down, then make it.
  5. Sometimes, you’ll need a break. Whether you’ve written a really gut-wrenching scene or your mind and body are creatively spent, taking a few hours or days away from your story will not hurt. You need to recharge and feel good again.
  6. You will second guess yourself and everything you write. Writers, unfortunately, are equipped with an endless amount of self-doubt, questioning, and skepticism. Read one of your favorite scenes. Step away for a while. Remind yourself why you started writing to begin with. Watch your favorite movie or television show. Read your favorite book. Find ways to remind yourself that your story matters.
  7. Be open to critique. Every book requires help to get to a final draft and one that is not only plot hole free, character strong and grammatically correct, but one that is mindful of the issues it tackles.

The bottom line is to keep writing. You’ll be surprised how quickly your words add up over time.

If you would like to know more about my WIP, you follow this thread I made about it on twitter.

Xx

Megan