Monthly Archives: October 2016

Halloween Tag

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Carving pumpkins- what book would you carve up and light on fire?

Isis: Bombora by Mal Peters. I read that book first thing this year and absolutely hated it. I bought it solely because it was originally fanfiction, but the characters were cold and empty. I hated everyone. The storyline was poorly done. Just a terrible disappointment. Free fanfiction is so much better.

Nicole: A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess. I just hate it.

Trick or treat- what character is a treat, what character is a trick?

Isis: Skylar St. Clair from Gives Light by Rose Christo was such a treat. I loved his innocence and then his strength. He was just a full ray of sunshine. I adored him.

Having recently read The Importance of Being Earnes by Oscar Wilde, I’m going to go with Algernon as the trick character. The guy was the best part of the story, especially because he tricked everyone and he did it so well. I loved his sense of humor.

Nicole: Wylie from The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight is a treat. I love her so much right now, and she’s such a good friend and human.

For a trick character, I’ll have to go with Peeves from Harry Potter. He’s always messing up everyone’s day for laughs. 

Candy corn- what book is always sweet?

Isis: My favorite book of all time, of course. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz is the sweetest of all books. It will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve read it four times and plan to read it many times again in the future.

Nicole: The Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon. Such light easy reads with good art and lovely friendships.

Ghosts- what character would you love to visit you as a ghost?

Isis: This is a weird question, but I’m gonna go with Ty Grady from the Cut & Run series. I never knew if I loved or hated Ty, though I definitely felt many emotions towards him. I think he was intimidating but also a goofball. He’d make a good ghost. I wouldn’t mind being visited by him. I’m sure he’d try his hardest to scare me but then he would make sure I was okay.

Nicole: Magnus Chase from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. I don’t know if ghosts are possible in that world since for all the book he is already dead, but he would be so much fun to hang around and to tell me all about dying.

Dressing up in costume- what character would you want to be for a day?

Isis: I’m gonna go with Prince Robot IV. He kicks ass. I love his style. Love his wit. Love his entire being. I would love to be him for a day.

Nicole: Being Peter Pan would be pretty cool. I would get to fly around an island all day talking to fairies and mermaids.

Wizards and witches- what is your favorite Harry Potter moment?

Isis: I love the way everyone comes together in the Order of the Phoenix and create Dumblebore’s Army. That was my favorite moment. When everyone shows up ready to train and fight back. Makes me so proud of all my children.

(Also, I love the moment Sirius tells Harry he can come live with him in Prisoner of Azkaban. I cried so hard.)

Nicole: I was going to go with the DA, but that would be boring since Isis already talked about it. There’s so many little favorite moments, but I’ll go with the graveyard scene at the end of Goblet of Fire. It was the first Harry Potter book that I had read, and it was before the fifth book came out so I had no idea there was even going to be a fifth one. It was so creepy and intense, and I remember being so scared for Harry. It’s one of the rare moments I’ve been completely invested in a book.

Blood and gore- what book was so creepy that you had to take a break from it for awhile?

Isis: I’m not creeped out easily. But many moments in The Shining by Stephen King creeped me out. I think the ending of Angelfall by Susan Ee was one of the most gruesome ones I’ve ever read. Overall though, I can’t think of anything.

Nicole: I remember having to put Angelfall down at the end because I was surprised she went there. I had to put Extreme Zombies down because of the rape scene in it because it was disgusting. But I can’t think of a story where I’ve been so creeped out I had to put it down. I don’t think I’ve that many scary books.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

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The Outliers (The Outliers, #1)

Because that’s the way anxiety works. It’s a decoy. I can’t do anything about those big things, so I’ll worry about something else. I’ll worry about this baby next to me, who is definitely, totally fine. But maybe, just maybe, might not be.

The Outliers is the first book in a young adult thriller trilogy.  It follows Wylie Lang as she tries to find her missing estranged friend, Cassie, with her friend’s boyfriend, Jasper, who she doesn’t like or trust. She’s dealing with her mother’s death along with anxiety so severe that she hadn’t stepped outside for three weeks before the start of the book.

 This book was a roller coaster. I loved Wylie. I related to her and anxiety a lot. I’ve looked at other reviews, and a lot of people found it unrealistic, but for me I got everything she was feeling and how she had to push past her anxiety at some points. I also really liked Jasper, and how their relationship was. I think that was my favorite part of the whole book.

As for the plot, honestly, I’m still a little confused. There was plot twist after plot twist towards the end that I’m still a little fuzzy on the truth. Plus, there was just some logic there I had to accept at face value, or I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. People also complained with how things ended up that it’s jumping genres, but that didn’t bother me.

But that ending though. I love it even if it’s a little cheap. It made me think of that Vine where the umbrellas are being thrown by the wind across the beach (here it is if you’re interested though maybe possible spoiler?). Still makes me excited for the next book. Which I am definitely reading.

I do have concerns about where the story is going. However, I can’t really say anything because it spoils the book. I just want to discuss every detail of this book with someone. A solid four star book for me.

Fall Time Cozy Time Book Tag

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Crunching Leaves: The world is full of color – choose a book that had reds/oranges/yellows on the cover.

Nicole: Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

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Isis: Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood

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Cozy Sweater: It’s finally cold enough to don warm cozy clothing: what book gives you the warm fuzzies?

Nicole: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Rowell’s writing in general just makes me feel really nice, and this is my favorite book of hers. Eleanor and Park are really cute.

Isis: Every time I read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell I get the best fuzzies. I love it so much.

Fall Storm: The wind is howling & the rain is pounding – choose your favorite book OR
genre that you like to read on a stormy day.

Nicole: I just read whatever I’ve been reading on a stormy day. I don’t switch books or anything. But when I think of reading on a stormy day, I think of mysteries.

Isis: I’m going to cheat a little bit here and say that the entire Gives Light series by Rose Christo would be perfect on a stormy day. Those books were just so peaceful and warm and I felt so soothed reading them. So definitely those.

Cool Crisp Air: What’s the coolest character you’d want to trade places with?

Nicole: I think Amy Curry from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. Just because she went on a cool road trip though. Every other character gets in bad situations I don’t want to be in even if I was cool.

Isis: Definitely Penryn from the Angelfall trilogy. I think Penryn is the coolest character ever, and I would love to be in her place, so I could kick butt and also smooch with Raffe. Just saying.

Hot Apple Cider: What under hyped book do you want to see become the next biggest,
hottest thing?

Nicole: This book was published in 2009, but I still wish people talked about it more. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz is really good, but people usually only talk about Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I love that book as well, but I think people generally just read that one, and not Saenz’s other books.

Isis: My new favorite novel In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz deserves to be so hyped. Nobody has ever talked about it, but it still lingers in my mind months after reading it. Yes, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an incredible, amazing, perfect book, but I wish people would also talk about In Perfect Light. There is just so, so much to love about it. (I had to mention Ari and Dante, just once).

Coat, Scarves, and Mittens: The weather has turned cold & it’s time to cover up -What’s
the most embarrassing book cover you own that you like to keep hidden in public?

Nicole: I own a couple of those cheesy romance novels. The ones with the guy and girl are almost kissing, and the guy is usually shirtless. I hate those covers.

Isis: This one:

 Single Father Sheriff (Target: Timberline #1)

Did I buy this book solely because it features a sheriff with a heart of gold? OBVIOUSLY. Am I ashamed of it? A little bit.

Pumpkin Spice: What’s your favorite Fall time comforts food/foods?

Nicole: Hot chocolate. I can’t really think of foods. Maybe beef stew, but I don’t only eat that in the fall so. Chocolate it always comforting though.

Isis: I know it’s not asking about drinks, but TEA. I can only think of cheesecake as my biggest comfort food. I also just love chocolate chip cookies. All the sweet stuff.

Writing Tag

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1. What do you eat or drink while writing?

Isis: Sweet, peach, or milk tea. I don’t really eat while writing though. 

Nicole: Usually just water. If I have candy I’ll have that, but it’s rare.

2. What do you listen to while writing?

Isis: I listen to my own playlists. I have one for “Aristotle and Dante,” “Point Pleasant,” and “Summer Storms.” If I don’t listen to any one of those then I’m listening to my “Slow Songs For the Soul” playlist. It just depends on my mood which one I pick. I hardly ever base my playlists on what I’m actually writing. 

Nicole: Typically I write in silence. Sometimes I do get the urge to listen to music, and then it is usually tied with what I am writing. Either the words or just the vibe relates with the tone of the scene I am on.

3. What is your biggest distraction while you’re writing?

Isis: The internet. I tend to go on Tumblr and Twitter a lot while writing and then I forget to come back. Also just my phone in general. 

Nicole: Any social media. Youtube. It’s very easy to do anything other than write when I write on the computer. If I’m handwriting I focus easier, but I still rarely do that.

4. What is the worst thing that has happened to you while writing?

Isis: Umm I guess just hating what I wrote? I usually have moments where I just doubt everything about my writing so that sucks. 

Nicole: At about the halfway mark in any project, I start doubting everything about it, and I usually end up moving on to something else. So I have a bunch of half-finished projects lying around.

5. What is the best thing that has ever happened to you while writing?

Isis: The moment I finish a short story or novel. And also the moment I finish and I love my story. Loving my own stories is the most important thing.

Nicole: When I figure out a plot point or a character that had been giving me trouble. I love the planning stages of a novel when everything is new and exciting.

6. Who do you communicate with while you’re writing?

Isis: Nicole. She’s the only writer friend I have. But she’s been there during all of my writing projects so she’s the best person to bounce ideas with. 

Nicole: Isis.A lot of the time I don’t even listen to her ideas, but just talking something out helps.

7. What is your secret to success and your biggest writing flaw?

Isis: I think writing constantly is the best course of action for anyone serious about writing. I know life gets in the way and sometimes there’s no inspiration, but if you’re like me, and you always have ideas flowing and stories to tell, then you just can’t give up. 

My biggest flaw is letting my own criticism of myself stop me from writing. Every now and then I have serious doubts about my writing skills, so I stop writing even though I shouldn’t. 

Nicole: Having an outline helps me a lot. Even if it is extremely vague, knowing where I want the story to go keeps me focused.

Self doubt is probably my biggest flaw as well. I always start thinking my writing sucks and is boring, so I give up. Or if I’m having trouble figuring something out, I give up because I figure it should come easier to me. Then I don’t write till I get a new idea. Rinse and repeat. Nothing ever gets done.

8. What is your inspiration? What makes you productive?

Isis: My inspiration comes at random. Sometimes I’ll hear something or feel something and I’ll be anxious to grab my laptop and write. I rarely ever write without inspiration. The good thing is I usually can draw the inspiration when I really need it, as long as I have enough time to write. 

Nicole: My inspiration can come from anywhere. Any little thing I like or that grabs my attention from meeting an interesting person to a song to a picture to a quote to a dream to a TV show. Anything can give me ideas, and that makes me really productive. When it’s new and exciting, I will work on writing all day. 

9. What is one thing that you do or that other writers do that is super annoying?

Isis: I have a huge pet peeve when it comes to writers not using dialogue in the correct, or normal, way. This is an issue in my workshop class mostly. Writers don’t know how to format their dialogue or use correct punctuation. It bugs the hell out of me. I’m sure I do annoying things myself, but that just gets to me.

Nicole: This is so nitpicky, but I don’t understand writer’s obsession with eyelashes. They are always long and curly. If they are describing a guy then any girl would kill for them. It’s one of the first things a character will notice about someone else, and I don’t get it. I also don’t get when a character will look through their eyelashes at someone. No one does that.  

10. Are you willing to share something you’ve written?

Isis: This is from my current unedited short story. I’m still working on it, but this is one of my favorite paragraphs:

“On the sidewalk I was greeted by a windy morning after a short rain. The wet ground smelled of my childhood, a strange blend of dirt and gravel. I could almost feel all the scratches and bruises left after my bike rides in this same sidewalk. Before I took another step forward, a large black cat ran in front of me. I recognized Bib from my last visit. My aunt’s neighbor was a nice old man who’d had the cat since she was a tiny fur ball. I tried to see where Bib ran off to, since it appeared she was chasing something, but she had disappeared behind the bushes.”

Nicole: I wrote this the other day. I’m writing out some of the stuff that happened before the start of the novel that Isis and I am working on together. Leon and Ailsa are brother and sister and I love writing them, even when they are fighting.

“Why can’t you stay here?”


Leon sighed. It had to be close to the millionth time Ailsa had asked him that since he announced that he was moving to Oklahoma City. It was frustrating. Leon was sure she knew why. She just thought if she asked enough times that he would change his mind. But she wasn’t a child anymore, and this was more than her asking for more dessert.


“You know why. Stop asking.” He kept folding his shirts, and putting them in his suitcase even as Ailsa huffed and flopped down on his bed.


“Look, I know bad stuff has been happening this past year,” Ailsa said.


Leon snorted. Bad stuff? Like she was talking about getting colds and having the car brake down instead of the chickens getting their heads cut off and the goats getting set on fire. He didn’t think he would ever get their tortured screams out of his head.

“But,” she pressed on, “why are you leaving your family here?”


“Ailsa, don’t be so dramatic. It’s not like I’m abandoning you guys. Mom and Dad decided they liked living back in the country more than the city. It reminds them of Mexico. They’ve told you this,” Leon said.


“But I don’t like living here. I like the city better. Why can’t I go with you?” she whined.


“I’m not your parent, Ailsa. I don’t have to take care of you.”

Ailsa was silent. Leon made the mistake of glancing up, and caught sight of her wounded expression. 

Killer Potential by Aften Brook Szymanski – Book Review

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“I’m afraid of other people’s problems–their lives behind the scenes. All the things they hide, like the foster kids. Everyone looks normal, but how many are monsters in regular person’s skin?”

It took me months to get through this very short novel. The reason for that is that it was pretty senseless.

The story started off moderately well. It’s told from Yvette’s perspective, a teenage girl in a psych ward suspected of a murder, switching from the present to the past every chapter. I was entertained and a bit intrigued at first. I wasn’t really sure where the story was going, but I don’t really mind slow-paced stories when there are good characters. However, this one was a slow story with a cast full of dull, flat characters.

The main character was the most obnoxious piece of work I’ve ever read about. She never did anything that made sense and although she was aware of it, she still didn’t change for the better. And I get that the point of the story is that she has “killer potential.” She’s a messed up character who has been so damaged growing up that she just wants revenge. But come on, she was such a whiny stupid girl. She accomplished absolutely nothing.

There were so many uncomfortable scenes where abuse was hinted at but nothing was ever done about it. The main character witnessed so many different instances of bad stuff happening to others, but she did nothing to report it or anything. Maybe that was used to prove why she was so tormented, but it was overly done. I wasn’t sure why I had to read about these things if there wasn’t a point to it. It just made me feel sick to my stomach.

The characters were all cardboard cutouts. They weren’t only unlikable, they were defined by maybe one trait, at the most. The Party Girl, the Neglectful Dad, the Drugged Out Mom, the Creepy Guy, the Other Creepy Guy, the Wild Sister. I mean, that’s it. These people had no personality whatsoever, and they served no purpose at all. Yvette constantly thought about how much she cared for her younger brother, but she hardly interacted with him. I had no idea who he was. The bad guys are bad for the sake of being bad, and that’s it. No other reason behind it. And basically, everyone in this book could technically have “killer potential.”

My biggest issue was the plausibility throughout the story. There were things that just sounded odd and completely threw me off of the story. At one point, this sheriff finds Yvette at school right when she gets into a fight with Adam (some random guy who showed up out of nowhere near the end of the book, but ended up being super significant for some reason). Anyway, a few scenes later, Yvette is taking a test to see if she can go to college, and Adam is there, and the same sheriff is administering the test. Because that makes perfect sense. Also, just the entire college thing was so annoying. Not only does Yvette spend page after page describing each of her classes, she also discusses each of her assignments and projects in depth. I’ve never before had to read through so many details (wrong details, at that) of college life. I’m in college at the moment, so trust me, this was not necessary at all. Nobody goes into a fiction book about a potential killer expecting to learn all the details about her school life.

I’m sure all of those boring details were added to fill in the plot gap. There wasn’t much of a plot, if any. Yvette’s life sucked, and then there was a crime. That’s it. There wasn’t even much of a mystery over the crime committed. I took absolutely nothing away from the story or the characters.

There were many times where I was ready to give up on this book, but I pushed through it. I wanted so desperately to find a motive in the story, but I found nothing worthwhile. But since I did finish it, I can’t say I hated it. I’m sure other people could enjoy the unnecessary violence and college trivia, but it just wasn’t for me.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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The 5th Wave is the first book in a young adult, science fiction trilogy. Sixteen-year-old Cassie Sullivan lives through an alien invasion, and has to survive while also trying to find her five-year-old brother, Sammy. There’s also another POV by a guy nicknamed Zombie, but telling anything other than that spoils parts of the book.

This is the type of book that even though the world is basically ending, and they have to fight to survive, romance takes over almost everything. It has a little case of insta-love in it, and I found the guy creepy. He never listened to her when she said no, and she would only fight before he kissed her. She never complained afterward. She seemed perfectly fine with him ignoring her wishes because he was handsome.

The aliens, the Others as the book calls them, were interesting, but ultimately disappointing. I don’t want to spoil anything, but at the end their plan with the 5th wave didn’t make sense to me. Not with how the Others were described to be like, and their actions before that.

I gave this book three stars. I don’t plan on reading the other books in the series, or watching the movie that was made. I can see why other people love this book, but it just wasn’t for me.

Mental Illness Book Recs

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Since this is Mental Illness Awareness Week, we wanted to make another list of recommendations. A few years ago, we made a similar list, but this will be the updated version. If you have any other recommendations, please share them below!

  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster – Benjamin Alire Saenz

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Summary: Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive – well, what’s up with that?

This is a very emotional novel. It follows a boy named Zach who is in rehab, and he’s struggling to remember who he is or why he’s there. He battles with alcoholism and depression and trusting others. Seeing his progress as the story goes on was really amazing. My favorite character here was Adam, his therapist, who isn’t stereotypical at all. Adam becomes an anchor, bringing Zach back to his reality and helping him be okay with living in it.

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