#SixteensBlogAbout: Summer Reading

With the summer months practically here (seriously, how is it June already? Slow down, 2015…), the Sweet Sixteens are blogging about a particularly timely topic: summer reading.

This got me thinking about a lot of things. All the fabulous books I want to be reading right this second. The massive TBR list I’m dying to catch up on. The chair on my deck, beckoning me to sit down with a glass of Riesling and my Kobo.

Beach

Beach reading: one of the ultimate reading locations.

But the very first thought that came to mind? Being a kid and having the whole summer off, and not even appreciating how awesome that was. I  remember complaining to my parents, loudly and dramatically, that I was bored during those summers. Bored. There were only so many hours that could be spent playing outside, so many afternoons reading The Babysitter’s Club and hacking the hair off Barbies with my sister. So many days with nothing to do.

(It goes without saying that I also didn’t appreciate nap time back then. Because I had a lot to learn.)

As an adult, I relish any free time I get. There’s absolutely nothing more exciting for me than a whole day stretching ahead with no plans at all, nothing to do at all. It’s funny how things change— how what I now call the perfect day used to be a dime a dozen, ferociously underappreciated. What would summer reading look like for me, if I had back those endless summer days bereft of responsibilities that I didn’t value as a kid?

Summer reading would be both leisurely and fervent. It would involve starting and finishing a book in the same day. Maybe two books a day, since there wouldn’t be laundry to do or groceries to buy or meals to burn cook. Summer reading would happen everywhere. On my deck, where a waiter would magically refill my champagne when my glass got empty. (Hey, it’s my fantasy here!) At the beach, where I’d be careful not to get SPF 60 all over the pages. In the passenger seat during road trips, because let’s face it, I’m a useless navigator anyway. In my bed, where I’d sleep until at least noon like I did when I was a teenager. In an inflatable pool chair, floating from the shallow end to the deep end and back again, my toes dangling in the water. (In this wishful summer, I of course have a pool.) In the park, on a blanket in the grass. On a boat while my husband fishes. Summer reading would swallow up my days and the word “boredom” would never be used.

But that’s not the summer I have to work with. In reality, summer reading fits in wherever it can. On my breaks at work. While a TV show plays in the background. At the library. In coffee shops, accompanied by lattes. In my office. While I’m quickly eating breakfast before work. With a little lamp-light, under the covers at night. (Maybe I have something in common with kid-me after all.) I’ll read everywhere and anywhere, in whatever time I have, because quite simply, there is no better summer vacation than the ones found within a book’s pages.

And just for fun, here are some of the (many) books I hope to read this summer:

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In A World Just Right by Jen Brooks

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Mania by J.R. Johansson

Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Happy reading, everyone, whether it’s under the covers after dark, on a deck with champagne, or everywhere in between!

#SixteensBlogAbout: 2014 YA Standouts

This month, the Sweet Sixteens are blogging about favorite books and authors, a subject I could go on and on forever about. To narrow it into a readable blog post, I thought I would feature some of my favorite YA books that came out in 2014.

Let me first say this: 2014 was an incredible and important year for YA. So many amazing books came out, and while I read as much as I could, I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of my gigantic TBR list. (This is why when my parents and husband asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told them without hesitation: Kobo gift cards.)

So without further ado, here are the YA books that came out in 2014 that I’m still thinking about, by some tremendously talented authors!

Listed alphabetically by title:

 

behindthescenes2 BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler

I have followed Dahlia’s blog religiously since my days in the query trenches (which wasn’t all that long ago– what a difference a year can make!), so I was quite excited to read her YA debut. I especially love Dahlia’s use of humor– Ally’s voice made me laugh out loud more than once– the friendship between Ally and her BFF Vanessa, and the fresh spin Dahlia puts on a girl-meets-Hollywood-star love story.

 

bleedlikemeBLEED LIKE ME by Christa Desir

Pitched as a YA Sid and Nancy, this book tells the obsessive, intoxicating love story of troubled teens Gannon and Brooks. It’s not your traditional love story– not even close. And Gannon is not your typical likeable female protagonist, either. She makes her share of mistakes and bad decisions, and hands-down, she’s one of the most memorable protagonists I have ever read. Gritty, haunting, and unflinchingly real, this is one book that will be on your mind long after you read it.

 

damagedDAMAGED by Amy Reed

I just finished reading this (it kept me up late!) and it’s still lingering in my head, which is fitting because this beautifully written book deals with ghosts, both literally and figuratively. Kinsey and Hunter are both struggling with the weight of their guilt following a car accident that kills Kinsey’s best friend Camille. The two teens are about to realize that they can’t outrun their guilt and fear that easily– especially when Camille starts haunting Kinsey’s dreams. DAMAGED is both a ghost story, a love story, and a story that doesn’t shy away from difficult issues.

 

perfectlygoodwhiteboyPERFECTLY GOOD WHITE BOY by Carrie Mesrobian

After SEX & VIOLENCE blew my mind, I was eagerly anticipating Carrie Mesrobian’s next book– and PGWB went above and beyond my expectations, giving an achingly honest glimpse into the life of a teenage boy searching for meaning and something to hold onto. After getting dumped by popular senior Hallie, Sean is left to make sense of his last year of high school– and to figure out his future. This book features a male voice so masterfully written that Sean feels like an actual person, one with both good and bad qualities. You completely forget you’re reading a fictional character at all.

 

sweetunrestSWEET UNREST by Lisa Maxwell

Lisa Maxwell’s debut novel features voodoo, a spooky mystery, and a mesmerizing love story. When Lucy’s family moves from Chicago to New Orleans, she finds herself plunged into an age-old mystery tied to the strange dreams she has been having. Lucy is the kind of main character you want to spend a whole book with– rational, yet spirited and inquisitive. This story features plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and the chemistry between Lucy and Alex is undeniable– and undeniably fun to read.

 

teaseTEASE by Amanda Maciel

I love a protagonist who’s not traditionally likeable, and Sara, the main character in this book, fits the bill. TEASE tackles the subject of bullying and its tragic consequences, and it’s utterly fascinating getting into the head of the one doing the bullying instead of the victim. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that it’s not moralizing, just very honest. Sara isn’t painted in shades of black and white, as a terrible person– she’s just a person dealing with the terrible weight of her actions. This is a daring, provocative read that left me thinking about exactly how much damage words can do.

 

thetruthaboutaliceTHE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu

This book is multiple POV done absolutely perfectly. Each character’s voice feels so distinct, and hearing perceptions of Alice Franklin from each different perspective is fascinating. I love the way we get to know Elaine, Kurt, Josh, and Kelsey and hear their personal biases toward Alice before actually hearing from Alice herself. It really shows how much a story can be skewed beyond recognition through gossip and lies. The damaging effects of stereotyping and slut-shaming fuse together in this extraordinarily powerful book.

 

wearethegoldensWE ARE THE GOLDENS by Dana Reinhardt

This book deals with how the bond between two sisters is threatened when one of them is keeping a huge secret for the other. I haven’t read many novels from second-person POV, and it’s used exquisitely here. As a reader, I feel all of Nell’s emotions as she is torn between loyalty to her sister Layla and doing the right thing. I loved being in Nell’s head as she felt herself drifting apart from her older sister, and as she navigated friendship, fear, and love under the weight of Layla’s secret. I couldn’t put this book down until I knew how it ended.

 

wewereliarsWE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

There’s a reason why everybody has been talking about this one since it came out. Dark, twisty, and beautifully written, with an unreliable narrator and an ending that will leave you totally shocked. This is one book I don’t want to say much about, because everyone should go in with the element of surprise. I will say that it’s all about secrets and lies, and the damaging power of both.

 

That’s a wrap! Now, as I get caught up on more 2014 reading, I also can’t wait for all the YA coming out in 2015… I feel like my Kobo and I will spend a LOT of quality time together in the new year. And that’s just the way I like it.

Behind the Scenes: Release Week!

BehindtheScenesBlogTour3

If you’re a writer at any stage in the path to publication– drafting, editing, querying, or just trying to find a great read– chances are, you have probably stumbled across Dahlia Adler’s blog, The Daily Dahlia. (And if you haven’t– go visit, because it’s awesome.) You should also follow Dahlia on Twitter if you don’t already, because she’s full of amazingly helpful information (and is also quite hilarious)!

The lovely Dahlia Adler!

The lovely Dahlia Adler!

 

Dahlia is such an all-around positive person in the writing community, from making all of our TBR lists a lot longer with her book recs to posting inspiring author stories to blogging about all different facets of the publishing industry, all while doing her own writing. So I’m happy to be part of her blog hop to celebrate the release week of her debut, BEHIND THE SCENES, which officially releases today! I just bought mine for my Kobo and I’m dying to start reading. BtS is the story of Ally, a high school senior whose best friend is TV star Vanessa Park. Ally nabs a job as Van’s on-set assistant to earn some much-needed money, but things get more complicated when Van’s sexy co-star Liam gets involved… and Van and Liam are forced to date for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss. Read more about it here and just try not to get hooked.

In honor of BtS, I’m doing a behind the scenes look at something I make time to do when I’m not writing. Something that relaxes me and lets me zone out of whatever characters and dilemmas are taking up residence in my brain.
I love to paint.
I taught myself how to paint. I never had any formal training, and I never really considered it. Mostly because it was never a serious pursuit for me– more something that I didn’t want to get too serious about, because I was afraid that would take away from the fun. I used to sell my paintings at festivals and art fairs, but generally these days I just make them for family and friends. I usually work with acrylics, but once in awhile I’ll do something in oils. I have an easel set up in my office overlooking the backyard and I try to spend time there as often as I can.
I paint just about anything– landscapes, people, animals– but some of my favorite subjects are birds and flowers. There’s just something peaceful about them that I gravitate toward.

 On the other end of the spectrum, I really have a thing for tigers. They’re fascinating. One day I’d love to see one in real life (and not just the zoo).

And once in awhile, I just feel like painting something totally weird. Because weird is always the most fun.

Painting7

I hope you all enjoyed the look into my hobby.

If you need me at all today, you’ll find me glued to my Kobo…

Happy release week, Dahlia, and thanks for letting me be a part of it!

behind-the-scenes-adler-cover