Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

World-building + An Ember In Ashes (Guest Post From Sabaa Tahir)

I’m so excited that I have the opportunity to host Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember In Ashes, here on the blog. When I was toying with potential topics for her to talk about here I was thinking about how much setting and world-building are important to me especially with fantasy novels. It really can make or break it for me when it comes to a good vs amazing book — no matter how much I love the plot and the characters. 

I was really fascinated by the setting of An Ember in Ashes (an Ancient Rome sort of fantasy world) and decided I’d love to know how she went about integrating Ancient Rome as inspiration for the world she built in An Ember in Ashes.


Sabaa Tahir worldbuilding


When I came up with the idea for Ember in 2007, I was very excited. And very nervous. I knew I had something that could be beautiful and wild and dark, if only I could get it right. I fell into my characters and plot with an obsession that hasn’t abated. I still think of them and their stories day and night.

Writing Ember took 6 years. The story revealed itself slowly to me, because I wasn’t just writing a book, I was building a world and it was very important to me that this world be authentic and true.

That meant research. One of the first things I researched were names. I wanted to imbue EMBER’s names with deeper meaning because I believe names have power. Across cultures, name meanings have such fascinating histories, so for EMBER, each race had its own naming conventions that were based on actual cultural naming conventions. I used Roman-inspired names for the Martial group, Hindi-inspired names for the Scholars, Arabic-inspired names for the Tribes and West-African inspired names for the Mariners. Every character’s name has deeper meaning. None of them is random.

Names were just a small part of the research I did for Ember. Though the book takes place in a fantasy world, that world still required consistent rules. I looked to history for inspiration. I’ve always been fascinated by Ancient Rome of the Juleo-Claudian era. I researched architecture, clothing, weaponry and military conquests from that time. I based the Martial Empire’s system of social stratification on Ancient Rome’s.

When it came to Blackcliff, Ember’s brutal military school—I dug into Sparta.

When people think Sparta, I think they often think of the Battle of Thermopylae, or that movie where ripped guys yell a lot. But Sparta was more than that. Ancient Spartan boys entered the agoge—this brutal system of training—at the age of 7, and they were bound in it until adulthood. They were cast in to the wild to fend for themselves, starved, beaten, set against each other—they were killing before they were 10 years old. I used all this to inform the creation of Blackcliff, and the merciless training that two of my characters, Elias and Helene, must survive there.

Elias and Helene, are not, of course, the only ones that must undergo brutality. In EMBER, Laia is forced to become a slave and so I knew that I had to make her experience realistic. Not doing so would be a disservice to young readers, one that I knew they would sense because it would make the book inauthentic. I read about slavery in ancient Rome as well as here in the U.S.

The goal of all of this research was to bring the world of EMBER to life. When I closed my eyes and slipped into this world, I had to see it and smell it, taste it and feel it and hear it. That, to me, was the best way of making sure that my readers could experience the same.




Fantasy readers, check this one out for sure!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Her website: http://www.sabaatahir.com

Twitter: sabaatahir


Let me know what you guys thought! I’d also LOVE to know what authors that you love that do worldbuilding so well! How important IS world-building to you??

BE(A) Part Of It 2015 With Ksenia from Macmillan

For the past couple years the lovely Estelle has put together a fun series(check out her post) before BEA (Book Expo of America) from native NYers and frequent NYC travelers like meeee to give tips, tricks and the inside info for those attending BEA and wanting to see the city, too.  In the past I’ve talked about my favorite quick bites and sweet treats and then last year I did my NYC bucket list (I planned two meetups and we crossed off Momofuko Milk Bar and Macbar. Stay tuned for another meetup for this year!!). This year, I was kind of stumped for ideas because Will and I haven’t explored the city much in the past year or so but I so desperately wanted to take part in it again. SO, Estelle and I brainstormed and she asked one of our most favorite publicists ever if she wanted to guest post for me! AND SHE DID.


So, give a warm welcome to Ksenia — publicist extraordinaire from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group which resides in the beaaaautiful Flatiron Building. She’s basically a book fairy of legendary proportions and OH SHE IS THE REASON I MET RL STINE!!!!!


Flatiron Building photo taken by meWhere the magic happens (aka the Flatiron)

Hello dear book lovers and travelers! I’m so excited to share with you some of my favorite places that can be found here in my home: New York City! I know this city can be overwhelming, so I narrowed these choices down to the three main food groups for us book fans: books, drinks, and food!



First up is Sanctuary T.

I recently discovered this gem of a place and it is tea-rrific. Sanctuary T is not your run-of-the-mill bar. Why? Because it is a tea bar! Not only do they have a whole separate menu (with several pages) devoted to all sort of teas, but even their cocktails are infused with tea. In the mood for a Hot Toddy with Rooibos and chai-infused bourbon? Sounds delicious! I’m not much of a beer or cocktail drinker, so the bar scene is not my thing, but this place I would happily go to again and again! So if you’re looking to drink someone under the table (using tea), then this is a must!

Sanctuary T

For those who do want to experience a really good cocktail, head on over to the Flatiron Lounge. This is my husband’s favorite cocktail bar. Their menu changes on a regular basis and the bartenders do wonders with their drinks! And if you’re not in the mood for alcohol, they have a separate menu with “mocktails” which I’ve had and can attest to their yumminess.

Flatiron Lounge photo taken by Flatiron Lounge






NYPL Library Lion photo by me
I consider the main branch of the New York Public Library to be like the mecca for all of us book nerds. Not only is it guarded by two beautiful stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, but the inside the library is just drop-dead gorgeous. Being back in grad school had me visiting this place again on a regular basis to do research and it was thrilling to be amongst all those stacks of wonderful books. Also, you can go visit Winnie-the-Pooh, and his friends Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger in the Children’s Center.

Winnie the Pooh and Friends photo by me

There are so many wonderful bookstores in NYC in all the boroughs, and even though the majority of them will stock comics and graphic novels, one does have to go to a true comic book store to get your comics fix. My favorite store, where I get all of my comics and graphic novels, is Midtown Comics. They have three location in Manhattan, but the one near Times Square is where I go to… a lot! Two floors of glorious nerddom! Wonderfully organized and the people there are genuinely. I’ve been going to this place since I came back to NYC from college, way back in 2006. And if you happen to see Hal Johnson, tell him I said Hello!


Midtown Comics picture by Midtown Comics


It is no secret that NYC has a lot of food options. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you should check out ilili. It’s Eastern Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine and almost everything is shareable and simply put: delicious! Their brussel sprouts are life changing, and their warm date cake is sublime. I cannot do the food justice in writing. Just go and try it!


Doughnut Plant photo taken by Doughnut Plant
It is also no secret, that I love a good donut. It just so happens that where I work, the Flatiron Building, there are two awesome doughnut shops within walking distance. Doughnut Plant has several location throughout the city, and I am a sucker for their coconut donuts. But they also have a great selection of teas and coffee, so in case you want to relax, you can! Dough Brooklyn also has a location near the Flatiron, and I am also a fan their toasted coconut donut, as well as their café au lait donut. Yum!!! These two places will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.


Dough photo taken by Dough

I asked my fellow wonderful MacKidsBooks publicist, Brittany Pearlman, about her favorite place to go for brunch! Because who doesn’t love a good brunch?

The Smith Restaurant NYC

The Smith photo taken by The Smith

BEA is one of the most exciting times of the year but you definitely need to have massive stores of energy to get through the week, and you also really can’t do a trip in NYC without hitting up an amazing brunch locale. The Smith pretty much has you covered for both those scenarios. It’s a very trendy restaurant but with nostalgic décor, and has the most delicious brunch options around. There’s brown sugar glazed banana pancakes, eggs benedict every which way, and of course, mimosas and bloody Mary’s! There are also three very convenient locations around Manhattan so no matter where you’re staying in the city, it’s easily accessible by public transport!

Also, my #1 BEA Tip? Let’s see…. Everyone says to wear comfy shoes and clothing and to pack snacks and water, and all that, to get you through the day. All very important, as I do this too. But because the Javits is huge, and a lot of people attend, cell phone and wireless service will not be up to snuff. Bring a portable phone charger. You don’t want to find yourself leaving the Javits at the end of the day, trying to figure out how to get to your next destination, only to find your phone is dead from constantly searching for service. Worst-case scenario, ask someone to point you in the right direction. We New Yorkers are nice, truly!



Thank you so much for these suggestions. IMMA NEED TO GET ME THOSE BRUSSELS SPROUTS next time Will and I are in the city because that place sounds divine. AND A TEA BAR?? Sign me up!

I’ve Been In A Mood: Part 1

I’ve been in a mood when it comes to reading in 2015. I’ve been having 3 very distinct and reoccurring feelings about reading thus far. This post was originally kind of a mess when I started it a couple weeks ago — a bunch of random thoughts all pasted haphazardly together with cement glue like 1st grade Jamie would have done (she also really like to let it get stuck to her fingers so she could peel it off). I didn’t think it was ever going to see the light of day. Thought maybe it was just something I needed to get out for myself. However, after I was chatting with some lovely ladies on Twitter about it, I decided to take a look at it again and every thought kind of started to fall under these 3 distinct feelings.   I’m going to talk about one over the course of the next 3 weeks to split it up because it would be massive (it’s already going to be too long because I’m overly verbose).

So this first feeling?


It’s the feeling of wanting to rebel against my compulsive need to always have a current read.




I did a series a couple years ago in which I examined my reading habits before I started blogging and after I started blogging. It was really interesting. Some of the habits I didn’t necessarily love, some I did and some just were neither good nor bad at the time..just a change in habits.

One of the first things I talked about was the time I used to take in between books. So, pre-blogging Jamie? She would read a book and maybe she would start a new one immediately and maybe she wouldn’t. She typically didn’t run to her shelves before the back cover could hit the last page and pick out a new read. She might take a few days or a week or more. She also didn’t read books AS fast.

After I started blogging I became COMPULSIVE about always having a current read. I finish a book and I’m already, in my head or physically, picking my next read and marking it as “currently reading” on Goodreads. I never let it settle. Just jump right in.





This year I’ve started to rebel against that. I just don’t want to move that quickly. I want to savor. I want to let that last book soak in. Really think about it before I jump into something else. I want to give myself time before I move on. LIKE I USED TO. (And sometimes I might WANT to/be ready to jump right in and that’s okay too). Sometimes it’s fine for me…a side effect of just loving reading so much. Sometimes it’s just a self-imposed habit I’ve gotten in the habit of.

As a blogger I’ve gotten this mentality and I think it comes from this place of feeling like I need to keep going and going so I’ll always have content for the blog and keep with ALL THE BOOKS I want to read. I’m so concerned with my TBR list that I just keep going without stopping.

I think it’s led to a lot of burnout over the years. I think it’s led to feeling a lot of unneeded guilt when I’m NOT reading. When I was talking to my friends on Twitter I also mentioned having this guilt for when I watch tv or movies because I feel like I should be reading instead. WHAT EVEN IS THAT?  I mean, I don’t give in to it most of the time and I still watch tv and movies but I feel like if I’m sitting around the house I should read instead of anything else.

When did reading start feeling like something I needed to do so fast? When did it feel like something I NEEDED to do every moment of the day (wanting to is different)? When did it feel like a competition? A race? An obligation? Something to check off? WHEN DID THE SIMPLE PLEASURE AND JOY OF READING BECOME SO COMPLICATED?

It’s over. I’m going to recondition my brain. I already started to do that by not setting a goal of how many books to read this year. And you know what? IT HAS BEEN SO FREEING FOR ME. Seriously. It’s helped to not be concerned with what I’m reading. To let myself go through spurts where I’m reading a bunch in a row because I WANT TO and ones where I’m not at all or am barely picking up a book.


Guilt-free, no pressure reading. Savoring. Enjoying. Diving deep. Thinking hard. Reading because I can’t not. That’s where I’m headed.


Have you ever felt like this as a blogger? If you aren’t a blogger, have you ever? What do your habits typically look like? Do you always reach for the next book immediately? Go through waves with reading? I’d love to know!

Book Talk: All The Rage by Courtney Summers (Plus A Giveaway!)

Book Talk: All The Rage by Courtney Summers  (Plus A Giveaway!)All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Griffin- April 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Some Girls Are, This Is Not A Test, Cracked Up To Be, Fall For Anything

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



When Romy is raped by the sheriff’s son and school’s golden boy nobody believes her. She loses all her friends and is a target for bullying and the community further brands her as trouble — as if she didn’t already have a hard time being the daughter of a notorious drunk. But then Penny, her old best friend and friend of the boy who raped her, goes missing the same night something happens to Romy that makes her unable to remember any of it. Romy is faced with speaking up about the things she knows that could help find Penny or keep silent because nobody will believe her anyways.

a2LADIES. I love you all. It’s not easy being female. Can we all have a big group hug out of mutual respect? So much more strength in empowering one another than tearing each other down (something the world already does).

a4This is my second Courtney Summers novel (the first one was Some Girls Are which is AMAZING) and I’m just going to need to read ALL of her books. I’m in awe of her ability to explore the female experience with such intricacy and depth. Her books are thought-provoking, smart and are pretty much books I want to hand to every teenager ever.

All the Rage was a fury of raw emotions and touched on a lot of important issues — victim-shaming, slut-shaming, rape and rape culture, etc. — without feeling like “HAI I AM HERE TO TALK ABOUT ISSUES.” It’s bold and unapologetic. And important. SO IMPORTANT. I felt similar to how I felt when I read about Speak — like I just wanted this novel discussed by everyone everywhere. Like, let’s talk about this and how real it is and how we can change it and look at our own lives and the things we perpetuate.

3 things made this book really work for me:

1. THE EMOTIONS: You ever read a book and just feel like you have FIRE just running through your veins and you are about two seconds away from accidentally lighting the book in your hands on fire and everything around it? THIS WAS ME. How Romy was treated??? I WANT TO SCREAM JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. I felt so much anger and sadness at the same time which made me a hurricane of feels. Nobody believes that Romy was raped. Not even her best friend. The adults around her (minus her awesome mom and the mom’s boyfriend) are extremely shitty about it, too. The victim-blaming and shaming that goes on is hard to endure. They think she’s just the Girl Who Cried Rape and they won’t ever let her live that down. EVER. Especially because the precious popular boy gets sent away. So not only is she getting bullied but she has to live with the truth and the trauma of being raped. Everybody fails Romy in this situation and it is HEART-BREAKING. I just wanted to reach out and be like, “I believe you.” I felt how hopeless she feels. The gut-wrenching sorrow in her heart. The unbridled anger towards these people. I felt it all.

2. The mystery: In the present part of the storyline (it jumps around a little), something happens to Romy in which she ends up on the side of the road and has no idea how she got there or what happened leading up to that. She’s found but learns that Penny, her former best friend, is also missing. The two mysteries — where Penny could be and what happened to Romy that same night — and the question of their connectedness made this quite the page-turner.

3. All the important conversations this book can bring about: Sometimes I forget, because the book world especially that on Twitter, is ALWAYS having these conversations — about slut-shaming, victim-shaming, rape culture, feminism, etc — that it’s not the same for other circles I run in (and my Facebook minus the book people). Largely these issues are ignored. Because people don’t want to talk about them. People don’t know what to say. It makes me SICK to my stomach that what Romy goes through is a reality. Girls are raped. People don’t believe them. People tell them it was their fault because they were dressed a certain way or because they are “that kind of girl.”  Girls question whether they were raped because of the way society spins it — “but you liked him” “but you had sex with him before” “but you didn’t SAY no” “you were drunk” etc etc. We, as humans, need to have a discussion about rape and rape culture. It makes me want to protect my nieces (similar to how Romy wishes for a baby in the story to not be born a girl) from how harsh life can be for us ladies. All the Rage also made me so so shameful for my own past in high school and college with slut-shaming and judging and making other assumptions about other girls. We need to stick together. We don’t have to like or understand each other but we have to look out for each other. I could go on and on in more depth about the things this book tackles in a real and honest way.

If I’m honest I had two minor issues with All the Rage, but the importance of the story and what it made me feel, trumped those but they are worth noting. I don’t know WHY but I was having some troubles with the timeline (I don’t normally have issues with different timelines). I mean, I figured it out but it confused me some. The second thing was, that while I rooted for and loved Romy, I did have a hard time feeling like I KNEW her. We don’t see a whole lot of Romy before everything happens so I can’t get a sense for who she is. It makes sense in the context of the story because Romy kind of doesn’t know who she is anymore and WANTS that old girl back — but it *did* make it hard for me to feel like I knew who she was.



factors+ writing, plot, importance of content & the voice it gave, emotional connection
timeline issues, little bit of distance from who Romy was

Re-readability: It was a HARD read that took a lot out of me so it’s hard to tell right now.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want to buy it for every person on this planet to read.

a5fans of contemporary YA, readers who don’t mind something a little grittier and “darker”, readers who want a great issues book without being an “issues book” (never felt for a moment like that), fans of Courtney Summer’s other books (same signature ability to write amazing females & explore the complexities), readers looking for a book like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

a8What an important book! It’s the kind of book that riles you up because its in-your-face truth and makes you want to change the world. It’s a tough read, no doubt, but I couldn’t put it down for the mystery and to know what would happen to Romy. Loved the sweet romance but was glad it didn’t overtake the story! Wish I could have a novella to see how things turned out for them!

review-on-post-itreview blog All the Rage by Courtney Summers


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?


 Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin I have a copy of All the Rage to give to one of you! You must have a US/Canada mailing address to enter.

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The Perpetual Page-Turner



HI GUYS. I’m waaaaay more excited than I normally am on a Wednesday. Why you ask (even if you didn’t…I’M TELLING YOUUU)? Because Leila Sales is on the blog today answering some of my questions and I couldn’t be more delighted. I ADORE Leila — both as a person and a writer and I sang HIGH HIGH praises for her book This Song Will Save Your Life back when I read it. A peek at what I said about it from my review: Its spirit pulses from the pages, right through to your veins and reverberates in your soul — a feeling reminiscent of any great concert or night out dancing where your ears are still buzzing and the music still pounds within you.” Read my full review!

I’d invite Leila on the blog any day ending with a Y just because but she’s here today to celebrate This Song Will Save Your Life coming out in paperback YESTERDAY! I’ve been DYING for it to come out ever since I had the honor of revealing the paperback redesign for it.

This Song Will Save Your Life Leila Sales paperback

So, let’s have a chat with Leila and then you can check out the AWESOME giveaway (no seriously, I’m dying for her new book and one of you lucky little book nerds is going to win it).


1. If books used pick-up lines when readers stood by the shelves trying to choose which book to pick up, what would This Song Will Save Your Life’s pick-up line be?

“Hey, what are you doing tonight? There’s a club if you’d like to go. You could meet somebody who really loves you.”

2. Since music is such a HUGE part of This Song Will Save Your Life obviously (and a huge passion of mine), I’m wondering what are 5 songs that have topped your playlists lately!
LOVE this question. When I wrote THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE I wanted to include only those songs that had already stood the test of time, so I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk about newer songs that I’m digging right at this very moment.

Here are some of them:
“I Wanna Get Better,” by Bleachers
“Shut Up and Dance,” by Walk the Moon
“Sex,” by 1975
“My Friend Has a Swimming Pool,” by Mausi
“Palisades Park,” by the Counting Crows


Jamie note: AH Leila…I love Bleachers as well and same with Walk the Moon whom the husband and I just got to see in concert and they were so fun!


3. One of the things that Elise struggles with is making friends until she meets Vicky, Char and Pippa. Two part question, what other YA character do you think Elise would be good friends with? And what do you think is the difference between making friends as a teenager vs. making friends as an adult? (if there is a difference to you)
I could see Elise hanging out with Audrey from Robin Benway’s AUDREY, WAIT! They could go to shows together and have a blast. (Jamie note: LOVE THIS CHOICE. )

Difference between making friends as a teen versus as an adult: So, first of all, adults aren’t out to make you look and feel stupid all the time. Adults who make snide remarks about what you’re wearing, or about how excited you get about the “wrong” things, are universally understood to be huge jerks and wildly immature. Unfortunately, those behaviors are commonplace in high school. Because in high school there is ONE hierarchy of “cool” versus “not cool,” whereas in adulthood there’s no one set of rules that we are all “supposed” to be trying to follow.

Also: being a kid or teen is bizarre because you are divided up by age. You are for some reason expected to have things in common with some randomer just because you are fourteen and she is also fourteen. In adulthood, you can choose a career doing something that you care about, and through that career you get to meet other people who care about that specific thing. You get to choose what city to live in, and meet other people who chose to live in that same city. And even if those people are a decade younger or older than you, you still can be friends with them, and they will have actual things in common with you.

4. One thing that I loved about TSWSYL is how Elise learns that you don’t necessarily have to CHANGE to find yourself but you just have to see those perceived weaknesses/quirks as your strength and learn to be comfortable in your skin and be who you REALLY are — not who other people think you are or even who they’ve made you think you are.  If you could go back and give teenage Leila advice about this topic, what would it be?
Pretty much just that: know who you are, don’t listen to the people who tell you that what you are is “wrong.” And don’t be ashamed of being yourself, because the things that make you special (or, in high school, “weird”) are the things that make you MATTER—a lot more than whether some popular girl tells you that you matter. This is easier said than done, but it’s all true.

5. I remember being a liiiiiittle nervous about the teenage DJ aspect of this novel before I read it because it totally COULD have turned out corny but instead you made it so believable and fitting. What kind of research did you do to make it feel authentic and fit with the story?
I went out dancing a lot! I’ve always done that, but while I was writing this book I would dance and try to describe what I was seeing and experiencing (in my head, of course). Over the years I’ve also been friends with a number of DJs (and I’ve dated at least three of them), so I’ve learned a fair bit about what’s involved.

Now let’s go for some rapid fire questions:

Song that you always want to dance to: “Beat Control,” by Tilly and the Wall.

Book that saved your life: LIBBY ON WEDNESDAY, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Song that you STILL know every word to from your teen years: “One Week,” by the Barenaked Ladies. (This is my party trick. I’ll pull it out if you give even the slightest indication that you want to hear it. Or even, frankly, if you give no indication.)

Song that you’d be most likely to pick for karaoke: Well, “One Week.” Or “I Liked You So Much Better When You’re Naked,” by Ida Maria. Or “None of Your Business,” by Salt ‘n’ Pepa. Basically, if we go to do karaoke, we are going to be there for a while.

Song that you associate with high school: Ohh there are a lot. Let’s say… anything off the Lifehouse album “No Name Face,” and “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World.

Book that you’ve loved recently: FAMOUS IN LOVE, by Rebecca Serle! Also everything that I’ve edited, naturally. (If you’re interested, I keep a Pinterest board of all of them: https://www.pinterest.com/prettytothink/books-i-edited/ Okay, end self-promotion.)

Current favorite album: A new album just came out from the Go! Team, so I’m really enjoying that, but it’s too early to call it my FAVORITE. I’d need to listen to it about a million times more. So let’s stick with “Strangers,” by RAC. They just write such good pop songs, it’s unbelievable.


Thanks for answering all my questions, Leila!! I feel like we are music soulmates (Tilly and the Wall <33 I feel like nobody I talk to knows them) and also I think we would have a damn good time doing karaoke together!



That’s right. TWO giveaways. Two winners. (US/Canada mailing addresses only).

GIVEAWAY #1: Up for grabs is an ARC of Leila’s upcoming release — Tonight The Streets Are Ours — which is one of my most anticipated books for this year! It sounds SO EXCELLENT. You can read more about it here.

Tonight The STreets are OUrs book

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Giveaway #2: A This Song Will Save Your Life mix cd curated by the participants on the blog tour — fun surprise and a chance to discover new music perhaps?

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Want More?

Full Blog Tour Schedule:

http://www.paperiot.com/                                                        April 2, 2015

http://theirishbanana.blogspot.com/                                     April 3, 2015

http://www.rainydayramblings.com                                       April 4, 2015

http://lilisreflections.blogspot.com/                                       April 5, 2015

http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/                              April 6, 2015

http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/                                April 7, 2015

http://www.thebookcellarx.com/                                           April 8, 2015

http://www.greatimaginations.com/                                     April 9, 2015

http://thebevybibliotheque.net/                                             April 10, 2015

http://jenuinecupcakes.blogspot.com/                                 April 11, 2015

http://www.tickettoanywhere.net/                                       April 12, 2015

http://www.bookaddictsguide.com                                        April 13, 2015

http://macteenbooks.com                                                          April 14, 2015

http://www.perpetualpageturner.com                                 April 15, 2015

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes From Books

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes From Books

I have a kept a quote notebook since long before I started blogging 5 years ago. My high school graduation I got a new notebook and a card that had a quote on it that really inspired me and I wrote it down. And then I collected quotes that I liked and along the years a lot of the quotes have come from books I’ve read. So this topic was pretty easy for me…except the fact it was SO HARD to pick. So many quotes have inspired and challenged and moved me!

// ONE //Throne of Glass quoteI read this line and I was like FUCK YES. True in the book and true for my life. We’ve all got the ability to rattle the stars if we dared too but too often we are held back our own hangups and fears and such.


even-in-paradise-quoteThe last page or so of this book is so quoteable and beautiful I couldn’t grab my quote notebook fast enough. This is the wish for my life, too.


finnikin-of-the-rock-quoteLOVE THIS. “I choose to drown in hope rather than float into nothing.” YESSSSS FINNIKIN YES.


quote-golden-jessi-kirby I literally could have made this list JUST by using quotes from Golden by Jessi Kirby. One of my favorites and made me think a lot. When I read this book and this quote I wrote this on a post-it note and put it on my nightstand so that in the morning I’d look at it and adopt it as my mantra for the day. Every day is a fresh start. Every day is a chance to step outside of your comfort zone and experience new things.


two-boys-kissing-quoteI left out “and deem them so” at the end of the sentence but was too lazy to go back and fix my graphic. But anyways, this quote inspires me to remember that magic is all around us in the moments we make and that I have the power to create magic — I don’t have to wait for it to happen. Also, this book in general, SO MANY DOG EARS.


Just One Day

One of my favorite quotes out of the whole book. (I could have filled this post with Just One Day posts as well as Golden ones like I said above). I tend to underestimate the power and importance of a day. But life is made of days. This quote and what it embodies is something I try to keep in perspective daily.




I loved this quote and even wrote a whole post inspired about it. But it really inspired me as a reviewer. That the way I look at books vs. how YOU look at books really has a lot to do based on our past, our experiences, our values, who we are as a person, etc. I think it made me realize how even MORE special art is because there really isn’t a wrong or a right way to see it.



just-one-day-quote4I’ve talked about how this book changed my life and this quote hit on a big thing I was struggling with. I was so frustrated with things not being how I wanted them and yet I wasn’t putting myself in the path of THINGS. I was just doing the same old thing wondering why nothing was happening. The page this quote was on was dogearred and stained with some tears when I thought about this.


mary-oliver-quoteI love Mary Oliver’s poetry. I know everybody knows her for the one wild and precious life line (which is one of my faves) but SO MUCH of her writing is amazing.




This is one of my favorite books and I very much identify with the idea of wanderlove and some of the ideas about travel in this book. But I loved this quote (sorry it’s so long and hard to read..I had to add it) because it really challenged me to look at how I view things as a traveler.

So tell me…what are some inspiring quotes from books that you have taken note of? Have any of my quotes inspired you? Or at least inspired you to check out the book they are from??

Book Talk: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Book Talk: Written in the Stars by Aisha SaeedWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Publisher/Year: Nancy Paulsen Books- March 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None as of right now, debut novel.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Naila’s parents are immigrants from Pakistan and Naila has grown up always knowing that arranged marriage is part of her future. They’ll let her choose other paths her life might take but it’s their belief that she should trust her parents to select a suitable match for her to marry. Her parents have been very strict with her (no school dances or going to parties) and do not allow her to even have friendships with boys. She falls in love with Saif anyways (who was once a family friend) and has been seeing him behind their backs — something they only have to endure for a little bit longer when, unbeknownst to her parents, they will be going to the same college and can be together more often. Before that can happen, Naila’s parents find out about her and Saif and beyond mad, they whisk her off to Pakistan under the assumption that it is a vacation to visit family but really they want to find her a husband immediately.

a2WOW. *wipes sweat from brow*


One of the many reasons I love reading is that sometimes I get to experience things that are nothing like my life and I get to learn more about the very big world I live in. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed was definitely one of those reads for me. Very eye-opening!

Here’s the 3 things that made this an excellent read for me:

1. I loved learning about Naila’s culture & also the difference between arranged vs. forced marriages through different examples in the story: Naila is Pakistani and lives in the United States. It is a part of her culture to place her trust in her parents to pick out her husband — an arranged marriage. I don’t really understand the appeal of arranged marriage because it’s definitely not something I grew up with but I respect it as a cultural practice and it was interesting to learn about it. I think Aisha (who herself had an arranged marriage and is so happily married) did a good job of showing the side of arrangement that is contrasted with the more forced/coerced marriage that Naila ended up in. I think it definitely helped my understanding of the practice of arranged marriage and allowed me to see that there is more to it than the notions I had in my head before. I think in my head I had an idea that all arranged marriages were kind of forced (not to the extent that Naila’s was) and that the parties involved had no say in it. That is in fact NOT what arranged marriage is all about. Grateful to learn the truth and not have these misconceptions about it in my head. KNOWLEDGE, Y’ALL. I love reading author notes in books and I think the one Aisha wrote was SUPER helpful too to understand things.

2. I liked that I rooted for the romance but more so I rooted for her right to choose who she married: We don’t get to see much of the actual romance. It’s already established and the glimpses and the memories we do get are super cute and I love the relationship she and Saif have despite the fact they’ve had to hide it and don’t get to spend that much time together. Because so much of the story takes place away from Saif because she’s in Pakistan I can’t say it was a super shippy romance but I so much felt that desire and longing and fear that she may never see the one she loves and may never see what could have been with him. Whether or not she was Saif, this whole book I just so rooted for her to be able to stand up for her rights to not be just forced into something. You felt the tug between wanting to respect her parents and her culture but you also felt the heart matters she had going on. I also liked that it was briefly explored if Naila could consider loving the man she was forced to marry. If she could see beyond it. Accept it. I loved all that was explored in relation to romance and love and marriage.

3.  I was constantly on edge the whole time I was reading and did NOT expect that: I don’t know if I just wasn’t super aware of what was going to happen but OH MY GOSH. I could not put this down — what an absorbing and evocative story. From the time her parents find out she has been seeing Saif behind their back until the very last chapter I was a bundle of nerves and anger and helplessness. I was SOOOOO mad at her family. How her parents could just kiiiind of kidnap her and trick her and force her to marry someone. And the THINGS that happened (I don’t want to less the shock of them) just WOW. I had to remember not to tense up and to stop holding my breath as I was reading because I would inhale sharply out of horror a lot. My heart was breaking for Naila as she was forced (and I mean physically) to go through with this marriage and being ripped away from her old life.



factors+ plot, writing, characters, what I got out of it
There really wasn’t anything I disliked. Just stingy about handing out “beyond loved” rating as you know.

Re-readability: Probably not but only because I only re-read favorites exclusively.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want to make sure my library has a copy!

a5readers of contemporary YA, readers who want a setting in the Middle East, readers who like a riveting plot AND great characterization of the main character, people wanting a diverse read

a8Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed was truly a novel I couldn’t put down. Between the riveting plot and the chance to experience and learn about a culture/culture practice that is not like my own, I was trying to sneak moments with this book any chance I could get because I HAD to know what was going to happen to Naila and was scared for her/raging on her behalf. I appreciate how Aisha showed all sides of arranged marriage and not just the awful forced ones that many are subjected to.

review-on-post-itWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

Have you read any other books dealing with arranged marriage?
Do you have any recs for other books set in the Middle East? Especially YA.



The Perpetual Page-Turner

I Need A Recommendation: Audiobooks

So I used to do the audiobook thing (while I worked out and cleaned and commuted) but in the past couple years I kind of wasn’t into them. It was a combination of starting a new workout routine (Pilates rather than lots of time on the treadmill/bike), preferring music to audiobooks on my commute to my nannying gig (oh um also being unemployed and not having a commute except the one around my one bedroom apartment) and just not having any idea what audiobooks were solid/losing focus on them.

I was talking to my very wise friend Asheley about this (you should check out her blog!) and she suggested that, since two of my goals were to get back into audiobooks and also reread more, that I should try audiobooks as a way to reread. UM BRILLIANT. I think I could focus more on a reread as I get back into the audiobook thing because I’m already familiar with the story and plus YAY revisiting favorites.

Ya audiobook recommendations

So, I have two things I need help with. I’m going to list some books I want to reread and hope some of you have listened to them on audio and tell me if they are solid. AND I’d love to get your recommendations for THE BEST audiobooks you’ve listened to — YA, adult, non-fiction. Don’t care. I’m open to anything that’s a good audiobook and you all know my tastes are pretty varied.

Books I Want To Re-Read & Am Considering An Audiobook For

*I don’t ACTUALLY know if they all have audiobook versions but am too lazy to check at the moment*

Golden by Jessi Kirby
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The Hunger Games series
Unearthly series
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (though I’m kind of leaning towards reading the physical book for some reason)
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

And lastly, don’t forget to leave me your recs for the BEST audiobooks you’ve listened to!


Thank you in advance!!!


Also, I’m curious about your audiobook habits! Do you audiobook? Why or why not? If you do, when do you get your audio-booking in? What are your favorite things to listen to as audiobooks?

A Little Chat About Writer Inspiration With Aisha Saeed + Giveaway

One of the things I love most is finding out what writers have inspired authors I love! It personally makes me happy when I see authors I love fangirling (or fanboying) about other authors I love. I just LOVE knowing what they love and which writers have inspired them and why.

I’m so happy to have debut author Aisha Saeed on the blog today to talk about 5 writers who inspire her and why. I just finished Aisha’s novel, Written in the Stars, over the Easter weekend and I cannot WAIT to talk about it (look out for a post about it in the next few days). It was a wonderful novel that I so appreciated because it allowed me a glimpse into a cultural practice (arranged marriage) that is not my own. I found myself reading so tensely as the Naila’s story played out. If you want more information on the book, I’ll provide the summary at the end of this post!

Now that I’ve blathered on I’ll let Aisha do the talking. I hope you’ll welcome her to the blog with me!!




The Five Writers Who Inspire Aisha Saeed


1. Jhumpa Lahiri: From The Namesake to Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri’s work is beautiful and evocative. She inspires me not just with her skilled storytelling and character-building, but because she was the South Asian female author I saw make it big in the writing world. Seeing the interest in the type of stories she told motivated me to tell my own stories too.

2. Ha Jin: Jin’s writing is spare but the emotions his characters experience and consequently make you feel are powerful. His work inspires me to write with the goal to make a scene come alive by honing in on emotion.

3. Zadie Smith: Smith writes characters who will stay with you forever. She inspires me to truly consider my characters’ inner lives.

4. J.K. Rowling: I admire Rowling not just for how wonderfully she writes but because she worked so hard and believed in her writing. So many publishers rejected her but she never gave up. Even when she was struggling as a single mother and battling depression and on the brink of poverty, she honed her craft and kept on going.

5. Stephen King: Horror isn’t exactly my favorite genre but I make an exception for Stephen King. His storytelling is taut and suspenseful and has kept me up well past any reasonable hour, reading away. There is much to be learned from his writing even if it’s outside of my genre. His book, On Writing, served as the motivation for me to actually put pen to paper and write my novel.


Thank you for sharing, Aisha! I’ve heard amazing things about Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith and own some of their novels but have yet to read them. STORY OF MY LIFE.

Readers, I’d LOVE to know if you’ve read any of these authors (I’m assuming JK Rowling is an all around yes for most of you) and if you are a writer…what authors inspire you??



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Other tour stops ( I highly recommend checking them out, some good stuff!):

YA Highway – 3/24
IceyBooks – 3/25
Jessabella Reads – 3/26
Alice Marvels – 3/27
Pandora’s Books – 3/31
Pop! Goes the Reader – 4/2
The Young Folks – 4/6
Forever Young Adult – 4/7
Cuddlebuggery – 4/8
HERE – 4/9
The YA Bookworm – 4/13


More about the book and author:

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

At 21, Aisha Saeed agreed to an arranged marriage. Having only met the groom in person once, it was a leap of faith, and a lucky one, because she ended up happily married to someone who turned out to be the love of her life.

Her debut novel, WRITTEN IN THE STARS, tells a different story: the story of a Pakistani-American girl named Naila, who, at odds with her family, finds herself caught in a situation beyond her control: trapped in a foreign country, being forced to marry someone she doesn’t love. Naila must find a way to hold on to her hope, her dreams, and her freedom.

Naila’s story, unfortunately, is more common than you might think. There are young women, even within the United States, who are or will be the victims of forced marriage. Unlike arranged marriages like Aisha’s, these women have no say. Aisha grew up with many such girls—girls who were engaged by the time they were fourteen. WRITTEN IN THE STARS is a gripping, emotionally-charged, page-turner of a read, but it’s also a nuanced look at an important cultural issue. All sides of the situation are examined—under different circumstances, Naila may have even liked and willingly married the man her family chose for her.

Fear Not!

Back in 2012 I talked about one of my biggest bookish fears (I have lots of them — here, here and here) and I wanted to revisit the topic. I said that one of the things I fear is lending someone a book that is an all time favorite or when someone tells me that they are reading a favorite book of mine because of how much I rave about. BECAUSE ALL THE PRESSURE (what if they hate it? What if they think your taste sucks?). Now, at that point, I had only been into about 2 years of book pushing — erm I mean blogging — and now here we are at ~5 years of doing a whole hell of a lot of recommending and lending and being LOUD about books I love.

I still DO have this fear that they will totally hate the book I love so much and am sharing with them and never ever trust my recs again. But ya know what? The sweet, sweet victory of getting a friend totally into the books you love is FAR more worth the initial jitters/panic that they might not like it. And also I feel like at this point I have so many “wins” under my belt at this point and statistically speaking (I don’t really do maths that well so my statistics have no basis) I’m not going to able to have a winning streak for forever (I mean, that’s what I’ve learned from all the sports Will watches)?

I am also finding that I am FAR more triumphant when I get my IRL friends/family into the books I love. I mean, I always feel happy when I give a good rec to a blog reader or anyone else in this community. BUT there is something about giving those recommendations to the people in my life who don’t read as much as we all do and who don’t have anyone else giving them recommendations. I feel like this glorious matchmaker!!!

Can I share two of my biggest personal victories recently??? I want you to share yours in the comments, too! Let’s rejoice together!

* My little sister Paige: Paige is 20 and she’s pretty good about listening to my recommendations over the years. She’s in college right now so doesn’t have as much time to read but recently she LOVED some of my faves: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, the Jessica Darling series,  and Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. (Sorry, had to edit it out some ~confidential things haha)


* My friend Kelsey: My friend Kelsey and I have a standing date every Wednesday (mostly) during Survivor season where we hang out and drink wine while we watch. She reads occasionally and is a self-proclaimed slow reader. BUT LET ME TELL YOU SHE HAS BEEN DEVOURING BOOKS THAT I GIVE HER LATELY.

If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman: We all know how I love Gayle’s books (if you don’t…where have you been??). She read these SO FAST and was obsessed. She passed them on to her mom and then to her sister-in-law and THEY were both in love.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi: I was SO happy she loved this one because I wasn’t sure how she’d do with dystopian. She liked The Hunger Games but that was all she read so it was hard to gauge WHAT she liked in the genre.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: THIS IS MY BIGGEST VICTORY. She has never read a fantasy novel in her life and was A LITTLE nervous. I was like, “look if you don’t like it…I will pick you out a new book from my collection when you come over next week.” BUT ALAS…the texts speak for themselves and the fact that she book talked it to another friend of hers!!! (Edited out A LOT of non-book talk in between haha).



I LOVE GIVING BOOKS TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. AND TO ALL OF YOU. It’s those little things in life, like giving a book to someone who ends up loving it, that put a smile on my face. The little victories, man!!

So, tell me some of your victories!! Also, do you get nervous to rec books you love to people for fear they will hate it/not trust you?? Do you recommend books to a lot of people outside of this community!


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