Friday Reads: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof




Hello, Hello *taps mic* *clears throat*

I find myself oddly nervous coming back after a little bit of a break. Which is super weird, especially when it’s a Friday Reads is pretty much my favourite thing. I typically save the bulk of my reading for the weekend, so Fridays are the big kick off.

My selection this week is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof



(blurb from Goodreads)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up  with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.




I really enjoyed the Starbound series by Amie Kaugman,


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I’ve had a few people recommend Illuminae to me also, but the best part of this being my choice for my Friday Reads is because I already have it.

I was digging through the books I got last year at BookCon, (*sniff* so sad I don’t get to go this year) and at the time, I remembered seeing the book, and that it was in an unusual format, every page is like an official government document of some type. There are even rumours Brad Pitt’s production company is optioning it for a movie. I’m excited to finally get to it.


Have a great weekend, may it be filled with pages of intrigue and adventure.



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Writing Conferences

This past week I registered for my regional SCBWI fall conference, began my application for a Rutgers One on One Plus conference, and watched my twitter feed as many of my friends attended my favorite writing conference yet. LDStorymakers.

For all of us who couldn’t make it or are wanting some of that lift and wonderful energy that comes from attending conferences, here are some of my favorite tweets. You’ll notice many of these are Brandon Sanderson quotes. He was the keynote speaker and my LONG-time writer crush.

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What’s your favorite conference? Did you attend Storymakers this year and have a story or quote to share? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

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New Release Tuesday: April 19, 2016

Scarlett Epstein

From Goodreads:

If Amy Schumer and Rainbow Rowell had a baby, she’d be Anna Breslaw. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is a witty, hilarious, heartwarming novel that’s perfect for fans of David Arnold’sMosquitoland and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.



From Goodreads:

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk.

So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


Darkest Corners

From Goodreads:

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.



From Goodreads:

Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend.

Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.



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Trial By Fire

GoingDownInFlames_fullThe third book in the Going Down In Flames series comes out next month. In Trial By Fire, Bryn is trying to navigate ever changing relationships while facing real world problems. Here is the first chapter of Trial by Fire. If you’d like to add it to your Goodreads want-to-read list here is the link.

Chapter One

She must’ve been insane when she’d planned this. Sure it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Let’s throw a Welcome Back to School party so students injured in the attacks on campus would receive a formal invitation to return to school. This was meant to circumvent the Directorate’s policy of suggesting injured students stay at home with a private tutor. The Directorate’s sucky rationale? Something about culling the weak from the herd, which was total crap since the Directorate had failed to protect the students in the first place. So, this may have been her plan, but it was her grandmother and Jaxon’s mother Lillith’s idea that she host with him. She didn’t know what his problem was, but he was being more obnoxious than usual.

“Jaxon, I swear to God, if you don’t stop bitching, I will set your hair on fire.” Bryn spoke through clenched teeth as she smiled and nodded at the students streaming past her into the Welcome Back to School Gala. “Aren’t you

supposed to have this fake socialite crap down to a science?” “It’s not the greeting people I mind.” He nodded at a group of students who entered the dining hall. “It’s your

That was it. She didn’t care what her grandmother and

Lillith wanted. If she had to listen to Jaxon make one more rude comment, she was going to lose it and roast him like a marshmallow.

“Bryn.” Garret walked toward her, his dark complexion a bit pale for a Green dragon, his brown eyes appeared wary, and his injured left arm hung limp in a sling.

And now she remembered why she was doing this. “I’m so glad you came.” Only half of all the students injured during the attacks at the Institute for Excellence, aka shape- shifting dragon school, had been willing to return. The other less-than-perfect dragons had allowed the Directorate, the governing body of Dragon society, to bully them into private tutors.

A ghost of a smile crossed Garret’s face. “I told the Directorate my left arm may not work and I may not be able to fly, but my mind was still functional, and they owed me for failing to provide adequate protection. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces.”

“Good for you.”

Garret headed toward the tables where the Green dragons sat.The color-coding still threw Bryn sometimes.All the Greens had the same dark hair, eyes, and skin as Garret. All the upper-class Blues, like Jaxon, had golden-tan skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. The artsy Black dragons always looked a bit Goth with their ivory skin, black hair, and dark eyes. The middle class Reds seemed Irish with their red hair,

green eyes, and freckled skin. The two lone Orange dragons with their bronze hair, skin, and eyes, looked Hawaiian. Since her mom had been a Blue and her dad a Red, Bryn didn’t fit in with any group of dragons. She wasn’t as thickly muscled as the Reds and not as graceful and lithe as the Blues. She’d changed her blond, red, and black striped hair to blond, to make peace with her grandfather, but she still didn’t blend in with the Blues. Far from it.

She envied the greeting Garret received from his Clan and loved that they acted like nothing was wrong. Then again, they were the smartest dragons, so it made sense they’d figured things out. Now, if only the rest of the Clans would catch up and realize the injured students didn’t reflect badly on them, life would be good.

“You think this is a positive development,” Jaxon said, “but you’re wrong.”

“That’s it.” Fire crawled up the back of Bryn’s throat. Smoke drifted from her lips as she spoke. “Get the hell away from me.”

“Gladly.” Jaxon stalked off to join his Clan-mates.

Bryn’s best friend, a Black dragon named Ivy, bounded over with her boyfriend Clint in tow. “I won,” Ivy announced.

“You won what?” Bryn asked.

“She bet you’d try to roast Jaxon within the hour.” Clint ran his fingers through his Mohawk. “I bet within the first thirty minutes.”

“You made it forty minutes.” Ivy grabbed Bryn’s hand. “I declare your door greeting duties officially over.”

Once they were seated at their usual table, Bryn sighed. “Finally, I can relax.”

Ivy’s eyebrows went up. “Maybe not.”

Bryn heard the click of high heels on the marble tile. She cringed. That had to be her grandmother, Marie Sinclair. “Bryn, why aren’t you greeting people at the door?”

Turning to face her grandmother, Bryn gave a tight smile. “Most of the guests are here, my feet hurt, and I was five seconds from setting Jaxon’s hair on fire.” The woman could choose whichever reason she liked.

Her grandmother frowned. “It’s inappropriate to leave the entrance unless you find someone else to greet your guests.”

“This isn’t my party. It’s a school party.”
“That’s not what we discussed,” her grandmother said. “I didn’t realize you meant I had to stand at the door all

Marie Sinclair appeared unswayed.
Bryn pushed to her feet. “If I find someone to greet

people, will that make you happy?”
“No.” Her grandmother said in her cold, upper-class

Blue dragon tone. “But it will do.”
“Fine.” Bryn scanned the room. Who did she want to

dump door duty on? Better yet, who could she convince to do it?

Rhianna stood on the outskirts of the Blue Clan, clutching a glass of punch. Coming back to school after her injury was one thing. Playing hostess was another. Still, it didn’t hurt to ask.

Bryn approached Rhianna and spoke in a quiet voice. “I have a favor to ask. My grandmother won’t let me sit down unless someone else takes over greeting guests. Do you think you’re up for it?”

“I’m not sure.” She nodded at her classmates. “My

reception hasn’t been what I hoped for.”
“Idiots.” Bryn frowned. Where was Jaxon? And then it

came to her. “You could ask Jaxon to go with you. He’d be far happier standing up there with you than he was with me.”

“Maybe.” Rhianna caught Jaxon’s gaze and waved.

He said something to the group of males he stood with and came over to hold Rhianna’s hand. “What’s wrong?”

“Bryn needs someone to take over greeting at the door. Would you do it with me?”

“Of course. We should have done it that way in the first place.”

Okay, he was being nice to Rhianna, but did he have to be such a jerk to her? Not wanting to deal with him, Bryn clamped her lips shut and rejoined her friends at their table.

Clint pointed to her hair. “I see you decided to go native.”

She rolled her eyes. “My grandfather interpreted my red, blond, and black-streaked hair as lack of pride in my Blue Clan heritage. So I went blond to appease him.” She reached up to touch the inch-wide red streak by her temple. “He still hates this nod to my father’s Clan, but I refuse to change it.”

“I miss the black stripes.” Ivy said.

“Me, too. But my grandparents took me in, so I’m trying to keep the peace.” With her parents gone, it’s not like she had anywhere else to go. If she alienated her grandfather, she’d be homeless. “Let’s talk about something happier.”

“I got my driver’s license,” Clint said.

“That’s great.” And it gave her an idea. “Maybe you could teach me how to drive.”

Ivy shook her head. “Not a good plan. He drives like a

“I do not.” Clint puffed out his chest. “I’m a fabulous

“You took out the bushes at the end of my driveway,

on both sides.” Ivy laughed. “I don’t know who gave him his driver’s test, but they must’ve been caffeine deprived.”

“If I could have your attention.” Mr. Stanton, the Elemental Science teacher and head of the Green Clan stood near the punch bowl holding a microphone. “I’d like to welcome all of you back after the Christmas Holidays. I’m sure the new year will be an exciting time for all of us. The Directorate has taken security measures to protect the campus from any more disturbances.”

Disturbances seemed like an understatement given the severity of the attacks that had occurred on campus before Christmas.

“Please enjoy your friends’ company but remember, classes start bright and early tomorrow. Make sure you rest up this evening.”

“Please.” Clint threw his arm around Ivy’s shoulders. “I’ll be a zombie no matter what tomorrow. We might as well stay up tonight and have fun.”

A growl echoed through the room. Bryn whipped around to see Jaxon facing off with a male from his Clan. “Rhianna does not reflect poorly on our kind.”

The other male narrowed his eyes. “Really? Then why did your father void your marriage contract?”

Uh-oh. Jaxon wouldn’t speak against his father or the Directorate, which left only one option. This was about to get ugly.

The air around Jaxon shimmered as he shifted to dragon

form. The other male shifted, but backed up a step. Big mistake. Ceding ground showed weakness. Jaxon lunged, blasting frozen flames and striking out with his talons. The coppery scent of blood filled the air.

Jaxon backed the boy up to the wall and pinned him there with his talons digging into the boy’s neck.

“That’s enough.” An all too familiar voice boomed through the room. Her grandfather, Ephram Sinclair, was here. Great.

Jaxon released the boy’s neck, but didn’t retreat.
“Shift back,” her grandfather ordered. “Now.”
Even though he shifted back to human form, Jaxon

never took his gaze from his opponent.
“Jaxon Westgate, what do you have to say for yourself?”

her grandfather asked in a voice that rang throughout the room.

“What I have to say, sir, is that the members of my Clan will treat Rhianna with respect.”

“Not just me.” Rhianna stepped forward. “My injury wasn’t my fault. Neither was Garret’s or any of the other students who were injured in the attacks. We have every right to be here. Don’t you agree, Mr. Sinclair?”

Holy crap. Rhianna had just called her grandfather out in front of all these people. Bryn wasn’t sure if she should cheer, or duck and cover.

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Friday Reads: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

6050678I’m on a steampunk kick that started with reading Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series.
When I heard about Leviathan and a warship genetically engineered inside a whale!!, I had o check it out. It’s also dual POV with a girl pretending to be a boy (love those!). I’m 102 pages in and totally engrossed with this alternate history of a sorts. Westerfeld, of course, is the the author of the Uglies series I gobbled up ages ago. He doesn’t disappoint with Leviathan.

What are your favorite steampunk books? I’ll be itching for more by tomorrow:)

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Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Claire





I figured with all the chatter about the Mortal Instrument TV series (good or bad; I’ll leave it at that), to ride the Shadowhunter wave. Especially since March 8th, Cassandra Claire has a brand new shiny series out for us.

With the small tidbit’s of information we received in the Mortal Instruments about these new characters, I feel like it’s an easy jump into this new storyline. Cassandra Claire is such a brilliant storyteller, and has created this world to lose yourself in.



So for this weeks WoW, LADY MIDNIGHT (The Dark Artifices #1)


(Blurb From Goodreads)

Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.



Isn’t that Cover Gorgeous?

LADY MIDNIGHT (The Dark Artifices #1)

Publishing date: March 8th 2016

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books


Thanks all,




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Will you be watching ShadowHunters Tuesday night? I loved the books, which I read after watching the movie. The television show looks amazing. Check out this trailer.

I’ll be live tweeting with other authors. Join us and talk about the show.


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Favorite Books of 2015

Merry Christmas!!

If you’re like me, you may need to find some time to yourself in the midst of all the present-opening, cookie-decorating, candy-eating holiday cheer. Which is probably how you have stumbled your way to this blog post.

Perhaps you even received some Barnes & Noble gift cards? A new Kindle? A envelope from great-aunt Margie with a crisp $50 bill? So you may be looking for book suggestions, you say?


Well, after looking at my favorite books, I discovered an interesting trend: almost all of them are fantasy. So, I’ve divided them as Fantasy vs. Non-Fantasy (simply because I don’t have enough to establish a “contemporary” or “thriller” categories, so they will be known here as non-fantasy).




ACourtOfThornsAndRosesWinterSixofCrowsWinner'sCrimeAnEmberInTheAshesDemonKingQueenOfShadowsA Darker Shade final for IreneTheWrath&TheDawn






Here is a one-line gift-buying guide for those of you looking to spend those gift cards:

A Court of Thorns and Roses – very HOT retelling of Beauty and the Beast with faeries

A Darker Shade of Magic – thieves, pirates, and four magical Londons

An Ember in the Ashes – brutally corrupt military school with the most horrible antagonist since Umbridge and a slave as a spy

The Demon King – A princess, a street gang leader, and a the most wonderfully written destiny story

Winter – one of my favorite characters EVER: crazy Princess Winter  + a Star Wars-esque adventure

Queen of Shadows – back in Rifthold (thank goodness) and a crew is gathering to take down the King

Six of Crows – the most rag-tag, tortured crew comes together in this Peaky Blinders meets the Grisha-verse

The Wrath & The DawnA Thousand and One Nights with the gorgeous Arabian backdrop and a love story

The Winner’s Crime – palace intrigue, politics, backstabbers, and a star-crossed love



AllIn BoneGap Manners&Mutiny TheFixer







All In – Serial killers and teen FBI group trying to solve the case before the body count rises – or gets one of their own

Bone Gap – small town, girl gone missing, magical realism, and it will leave you thinking long after

Manners & Mutiny – wonderful conclusion to this fun Victorian-era steampunk school of spies for girls

The Fixer – Scandal meets Veronica Mars and a thriller that keeps you guessing to the end


So, those were my favorites of 2015! How about y’all?

Merry Christmas!!



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Apparently, I Have Issues

4I’m working on what will hopefully be the last round of edits for Trial By Fire, and apparently, I have issues. Okay, I have a lot of issues, but I think that’s normal. At least I hope so. Anyone who doesn’t have issues is a Borg, or a Pod or on mood-altering medication.

Anyway, unbeknownst to me, one of my major issues is food. I didn’t realize this until after I was told that my characters eat too much and my books make people hungry. Even after making an effort to cut food scenes or at least not describe food in such a lusty tone, my first editorial note is: “They’re always eating. Cut the food scenes. For the love of God, get these characters out of the dining hall. Let them go on a walk or something.”

In the Going Down In Flames series, Valmont Fonzoli, Bryn’s knight, probably works in an Italian restaurant because I became lactose intolerant in my early twenties and I really miss Italian food slathered in melted cheese.

In Blackmail Boyfriend Jane thinks cupcakes make the world a better place because given a choice and if there were no weight/health consequences, I would eat cake every day. Cake should be a super-food. Not Kale. Not spinach. Cake. Why can’t some scientist make this happen?

Know what’s really funny? In the Psi story I’m writing, the people with psychic powers recharge their energy by eating sugar: donuts, skittles, chocolate, etc. Maybe I should change it so they recharge by eating Kale, but who would want to read that? Kale isn’t exciting or fun.

Even though I know I have issues with food, it’s hard not to include it in my writing. A lot of my life revolves around food. I always assumed everyone else was the same way. Maybe not. I’ve heard there are people who “forget to eat” but to me that sounds like science fiction.

What’s the one food you could eat every day?

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