Meeting Lesley Livingston, Elly Blake, Kristen Ciccarelli

This year must be a good one for me ’cause I didn’t just get to meet one great author (see post on Jenny Han), but now I’ve met 3 more!


My Canadian pride is shining through as I had this past weekend to meet Lesley Livingston (again), author of The Valiant, and Elly Blake, author of Frostblood. In the sweltering heat that is VERY much unlike the typical weather found around here in our fall season, these amazing authors trekked out to greet their fans and do some fun readings from their latest novels.

First up, Lesley Livingston

What is my personal take from meeting her?

I met her once a long, long time ago back in 2010 when her first series was hitting the shelves. But upon re-meeting her, I was delightfully pleased to see that no matter how many books she’s published since, and the amount of her success, she’s still so down-to-earth. I find myself sometimes nervous around famous people as who am I compared to them? But she made me feel like I could say whatever nervous ramblings that fell out of my mouth without harsh judgment, and for that I love her even more.

But oh, she’s also delightfully hilarious. Her reading of The Valiant was quick-paced and it wasn’t hard for me to keep up as it never lost my attention (and that happens often so audiobooks are pretty much a no for me). She has a wonderful sense of humour, and this translates to her novels. Honestly.

Next, Elly Blake

What is my personal take from meeting her?

She’s easily one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met, and certainly talented. We were lucky enough to get a reading of her sequel Fireblood that just hit stores last week (do I get a whoop-whoop for that?) and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Even though I haven’t known her work as long, I’m already a fan from her debut novel.

What I loved was hearing about the process in which she wrote. I’ve dipped my hands for years into writing (no success so far, but hey, that’s why I’m a blogger) and hearing how someone as successful as her with the trilogy she’s writing was amazing.

“I love the interactions between people the most in any story,” she said, “so world building comes on later after the first draft to create layers on top.”

As someone who easily gets frustrated with the intense effort to create well-thought out worlds while still having a solid plot with emotionally real characters, this may come as helpful advice for any fledgling writers out there.

Last but not least, Kristen Ciccarelli

What is my personal take from meeting her?

I will be honest, I haven’t read her debut book before meeting her (unfortunately, I didn’t get my hands on the ARC), but her reading of The Last Namsara BLEW me away. It’s deeply imaginative with forbidden stories told within the book that felt like I was being transported to storytellings from the greats, like J.R.R. Tolkien (who I absolutely love).

I will also admit that I came to the event solely intent on meeting the other two authors whom I already adore, but I think just from hearing her read her novel and understanding a bit more about the inspirations that shaped it, I became a fan in the span of 20 minutes. Hands down, I’m overall very impressed and I hope her first book does amazing when it hits stores on October 3, 2017.

So, have you heard of these lovely ladies before?

Let me tell you. If you haven’t, you should jump on board one of their novels and see what they’re all about in the beautiful worlds they have crafted with their words. From heavily researched historical fantasies about female gladiators to crafty worldbuilding and magical powers to a tale as old as time with forbidden stories, there really is something for everyone from these 3 ladies.

Last thoughts

I regret not being bold enough and drawing up the courage to ask for a photo with each of these amazing ladies while I had the chance, but I sure hope that this isn’t the last time that I’ll get to see them in person.

Here’s to a photo of the 3 authors (with Lesley signing one of my books!) bravely facing the heat just so they could come to this event with us.


So, any book signings you’ve been to lately? And what do you think about these wonderful authors?


Panic Attacks and the YA world

I was going to write a review (or my June book haul which is completely delayed), but I needed to write this first.

I don’t know if it’s just me or something, but a number of books I’ve been reading lately in this year have all revolved around a protagonist with panic attacks or anxiety. And myself being one to have experienced such things, I automatically found them more relatable.

It makes me wonder. What has brought anxiety even to the midst of YA? Is it the fact that we talk more about mental health these days in our society, and are more accepting of it? Is it that we feel it’s no longer such an uncommon thing, that in fact we can relate to each other in our moments of absolute weakness? Or has this always been there, with the same numbers of people facing anxiety issues in our midst, but we are only now realizing it? I discussed this recently with a friend and honestly, it could be any of these or something else entirely.

Regardless of the why, I am thankful for the different books I’ve encountered that highlighted not just a realistic protagonist going through anxiety in her day-to-day life, but also growing from it and through it. I wanted to highlight some of these books today in this post.

If you do not know what it may feel to have panic attacks or have generalized anxiety, I will say that the experience may be different for each person. There are common symptoms, of course, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone goes through the same exact course and consequently deal with it in the same way.

So for the audience here who may not have experienced such a thing, I will give you some of my own experience as a taste of what it may feel like (although it most definitely is not the same for everyone) so that you can understand why the following books meant something to me. If the following may be uncomfortable for you to read, feel free to skip it to look at the books.

It starts with a tingling sensation in my legs, from the very tips of my toes. Or sometimes, it may start off with a hitch in my breath, and a sense of foreboding that something oh so wrong is about to crash over me like a wave. Or the worst kind, it starts with the beat of my heart.

It picks up. My heart pounds faster. My brain tells it to stop. What’s there to be causing such a reaction? My breathing gets faster. Something is wrong. Of course, something is wrong. The tingles in my legs are similar to the ones in my arms and hands now. Can I grip anything? Why won’t it stop shaking? Nothing I do is making a difference! When will it be over? Is it ever going to stop? Is it ever going to stop?

People are staring. Or are they not? Do I even want them to? If they do notice, no one is doing anything about it. Is this all just in my head? But why can’t I make it stop then?

And as my heart pumps, pumps, pumps, I wonder if this is what dying would feel like. And I wonder if it would feel this lonely. Even in the midst of strangers.

I close my eyes, and I wait it out. And hope that there is an end.

This was what I felt during my first panic attack. I read maybe one book before this occurred on a character with anxiety. I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t fully appreciate the growth, the portrayal of strength in the midst of such a personal struggle. I will admit that not every author may go about this issue in the same way, and I will respect if others’ experiences make them feel differently about how they’re portrayed in YA or the following books. However, no matter what we may or may not agree on with the particulars, I hope most people can agree with me that I am grateful these authors put a spotlight on something like this in any way in their writing. They don’t have to. And to do it well and right may require so much more effort that isn’t necessary if they didn’t want to do it.

  1. All Things New by Lauren Miller

all things new -lauren millerThis whole novel focused on mental health and put it almost into a philosophical spin. I absolutely adored that. I know it’s not out yet in stores, but I fervently hope that you do pick up a copy when it comes out the beginning of August.

This protagonist faces a completely different level of anxiety than I do, but it doesn’t make her story any less poignant to me. We are all broken in some ways, some more visible than others. This novel showed how we can face these things, not necessarily on our own, but finding it in a community of people we feel we can trust. Whether it be from a physical support group to go to, or the people placed in our lives that we’re blessed to have found, this story stirred something in my heart to respond in the same way.

2. By Your Side by Kasie West


One of my earlier reads of the year (although technically in the 2016 count), I really appreciated Kasie West tackling this subject. I’ve always loved her writing, but this book was different as it was just a light contemporary novel I breezed through like her others.

The protagonist in this book starts off really facing her fears. She gets left behind in a library all alone, with all those who supposedly care about her having forgotten she wasn’t with them anymore. I don’t know about others, but I relate to the fact that being alone with oncoming attacks is sometimes worse than facing a room of strangers or even friends watching me embarrass myself. And being left behind adds to the anxiety of being alone even when there are people around. I like how this book does develop the protagonist’s character, and her choice to admit to someone close to her know that she isn’t always all right. And that it’s okay.

3. Crash into You by Katie McGarry

crash into you -katie mcgarrySurprisingly, this book features anxiety too. I love the way Katie McGarry can make situations and people feel so real that you’re practically living it with them. Likewise, I really enjoyed this protagonist.

The main character wasn’t always seen as strong. It didn’t help that she had older brothers and protective parents. But it made opening up about her fears so much harder. Although it wasn’t nearly as hard to admit to my family and close loved ones about being less than okay, it’s still not an easy journey. Not everyone understands what you face, and why. They may think similarly to how this girl’s family did – trying to pretend that everything was okay and ignoring the little signs that showed that in fact, nothing was getting any better. The journey this protagonist takes for herself, regardless of the romance featured, made this an easy read through one sitting. I wished I could have such strength in myself.

4. Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno

everything all at once -katrina lenoThis isn’t a book I have technically reviewed yet. But that’s because I’m currently going through this novel. Although I haven’t read anything from this author before, I find her take on this girl’s journey to learning to live life with a different perspective something that resounds in me. I will write more on this later, but it doesn’t focus so harshly on anxiety so much as showcases that strength comes from within. I can’t wait to see what else the novel has in store, but having anxiety on the back burner isn’t necessarily shoving it away from the spotlight. It’s another way I appreciate the subtle nod to those who understand, and the real, reflective amount of personal growth it sometimes takes to face it head on.

5. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

i see london, i see france -sarah mlynowskiAlso a book that hasn’t been reviewed yet on this blog, but it’s coming soon, no worries! Recently released this week in your local bookstores, this novel seems like it’s all fun and cute romance, but surprisingly, holds a main character that deals with some anxiety herself. Although I didn’t relate to every aspect of this character, as I will mention in a full review, I think what stood out to me was her will to face the fear straight on. We can hide all we want, wishing another one would never hit us, or we can live our lives and hold on. Personal challenges may be the best way to help us face incoming attacks. I’m not saying conquer, but at least face. And as a friend said to me, simply facing it is sometimes enough. That in itself is strength, not weakness.

So, I’ve held up like way too much of your time. Whether you fully understand or not, I hope this at least made you pause and think huh, never thought of it quite this way before. I may not have said it all that well, so go and read the books! And if any of you do understand this feeling, I hope you know you’re not alone in it.

My June 2017 Top Picks

With the summer months arriving on our doorsteps, it’s the best time for all sorts of entertainment to release their beloved books. And I’m not just talking about movies. There are some lovely books out there that have hit or are about to hit your bookstores, right in time for summer vacation (if you have one, that is).

So without further ado, here is my top picks of newly released books to read this month (and which I would read myself too if I wasn’t stuck in a cubicle for 40 hours a week…).

  1. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab our dark duet -victoria schwab

If you’ve read the first book in this series, or my review of This Savage Song here, then you’d be absolutely raving about this sequel. I was so hoping to be able to get an ARC for it like I did for its predecessor, but alas the publishers must know that this book would do well even without the additional publicity of prereleased reviews.

This book continues the adventures of Kate Harker, a girl who sometimes can be as ruthless as the monsters she hunts in her world, and August Flynn, a monster who wishes he could be more like a normal boy.

2. Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead midnight jewel -richelle mead

Not everyone enjoyed the historical fantasy novel that seemed to mirror more of the great Gold Rush era in America than a fantastical story the synopsis may have portrayed. But nonetheless, I enjoyed the first novel, The Glittering Court, through the eyes of one girl. You can check out my review for that book here.

Now, in this companion/sequel, it would be interesting to see how the same timeline of events unfolded through another girl’s eyes. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea exactly, but you’ll definitely see this book pop up on this blog sooner rather than later. Already on hold for it!

3. Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneaudividing eden -joelle charbonneau

Although her Testing trilogy has been on my TBR for so very long, I promise you, this novel in her latest series is quite intriguing. With twins Carys and Andreus pitted against each other in a war for the throne amidst secrets in the court, it’s a game of who-can-you-trust. Honestly, this was an interesting start to a new series, and I’m half disappointed that I read it early ’cause now the wait is longer for the sequel!

You can read my review of Dividing Eden here (if I haven’t convinced you yet from this extremely short blurb above…).

4. Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Andersonmidnight at the electric -jodi lynn anderson

Across 3 time periods. With 3 girls. This was a hidden masterpiece. 3 girls’ stories intersect and connect in ways you wouldn’t be able to imagine. With one overarching story connecting all the little components of the other 2 stories in the form of a journal or letters, this novel may not be an epic fantasy but it stands on its own as something profound and unforgettable in today’s YA world.

You can read my review for this novel here. Trust me, it’s amazing! The feels~

5. The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth Maythe fallen kingdom -elizabeth may

It seems June isn’t just a time for new series and sequels, but also long awaited conclusions to epic fantasies. The Falconer followed by The Vanishing Throne was an interesting series set in Edinburgh, Scotland where the fae walk amongst the humans there. Due to a tragedy (of course), our heroine Aileana was pushed into a world hidden from ordinary eyes and became a fighter against all that was evil.

This 3rd and last book continues her journey against the fae that have taken over the world she has known, and ultimately took back the guy she had fallen for without meaning to. If that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will. Action and romance go hand in hand!

So those were my top 5 picks. No, Andge, you may say. They’re not very typical “summer” reads. Why yes, I do notice that. But I will write up a YA contemporary top picks either this month or later so don’t you worry about that.

What you can look forward to in the meantime that will pop up a lot sooner on this blog?

Reviews of:
-Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
-All Things New by Lauren Miller
-Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
-Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry
-Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

And of course, a June 2017 book haul! 🙂 ‘Cause I’ve definitely been buying books.

If I get enough likes for this, I might even put up a Edelweiss/Netgalley haul as well. Been wallowing in some interesting books lately that I sneakily read at work *shhh no one tell my boss – they don’t know I’m a book addict*.

Well, that is all for now. Peace out (y)