Is It The Author’s Job?

I’ve had this post sitting half finished in my drafts since 4/14 — yeah, almost a year. OOPS. That is the state of my drafts right now — about a hundred of unpublished posts. I kind of just forgot about it after getting it all down but never went back to it. But I was creeping on an interesting conversation between some smart & thoughtful ladies on Twitter that reminded me about this post — particularly because they were talking about the same book that sparked this post for me.

So back around this time last year I was reading Open Road Summer. I LOVED it and it was interesting to see all the conversation about the main character Reagan and about some of the slut-shaming that goes on in the book. I personally LIKED Reagan. No, I LOVED Reagan. I saw a lot of high school/college Jamie in her. But it was interesting to me how many people DID NOT like Reagan (also valid). One of the other things I saw was how they were disappointed with how slut-shaming was handled in the book. I didn’t see it the way they did necessarily but their opinions were definitely valid and they were super thought-provoking.

For a little context, if you haven’t read Open Road Summer (which you should), Reagan is a bit judgmental and prickly when it comes to some of the other females that aren’t her best friend Lilah (their friendship is AWESOME btw). Some slut-shaming goes on. But personally? I found it to be SUPER realistic of what I was like. I acted a lot like Reagan — saying things about other girls/being judgy/tearing them down was my defense mechanism. It was a HORRIBLE defense mechanism but through the years as I grew up I realized how awful it was. How toxic it was. How tearing other girls down and shaming their choices to make myself feel better did actually NOT make me feel better or make me any less insecure. But it took me years to learn that and see that.

I don’t LIKE seeing slut-shaming in books. It’s hard. I feel ashamed that this was how I acted. It’s sad how much it happens. It makes me want to be like, “LADIES LET’S DO BETTER.” I don’t LIKE  or condone to it but it hasn’t ever really bothered me personally as a reader in the context of the story because I think it FEELS realistic to me.

I think when I encounter things I don’t like in a book — bullying, slut-shaming, racism, misogyny — I try to think about the context and if I think the book IS condoning it. Often times we read things that we don’t LIKE necessarily and that HAPPEN in real life but it doesn’t mean the author is condoning it always. So typically it doesn’t make me react negatively to a book just because I don’t like the THING that happens in it.

But the more interesting question that I’ve been thinking about ever since I read this book and saw conversations about it (that I have no answer to) is this:

Is it the author’s job to address a problematic thing as wrong somewhere in the text?

In Open Road Summer’s case people brought up the fact that nowhere is it really addressed how wrong her slut-shaming was. I think I saw it different when I read it — I think she DID in some ways see how it didn’t help her any/that her defense mechanism was flawed but also I think that not all lessons are learned at the same time. I think it was a START. So while, it didn’t personally bother me when I read it,  other people’s thoughts and criticism on the matter made me think A LOT about it in general.

Is it the author’s job to give some sort of moral? Give clear consequences for something that is wrong?  Basically in some way make it CLEAR that the THING was wrong?  Or can it just merely exist to show authenticity of a time or a social situation and what really happens? (because, in the case of slut-shaming/tearing down other girls, just spend 5 minutes with my 17 year old niece and her friends and you’ll know it’s the way of a lot of teens). Can it exist just to be a character flaw sometimes?

I have no clear answers, honestly. I’d LOVE to talk about this because I think it’s an interesting topic and y’all are smart and thoughtful. I LOVE that about being part of this book community for the past 5 years…how I’m engaging with books and thinking about things I probably wouldn’t have on my own!

Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like Not-So-Easy-To-Like Characters

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like Not-So-Easy-To-Like (to narrow it down I’m sticking with the ladies because they are so often the ones who get talked about)

I see a lot of discussion in book reviews and online about unlikeable characters. Most always seem to be females. It’s always funny because so often they are talking about a character that I LOVED. I love my characters genuinely flawed and especially in YA I see so much of my high school self in them. Slut-shamer? Bitchy? Maker of horrendous decisions at times? Selfish? Standoffish? HARD TO LIKE? YEPPP. That was me. I appreciate a good flawed character especially when their arc is done so well. And I don’t even need/like TOTAL REDEMPTION at the end because most of the time I don’t think anyone does a total transformation. It’s a constant work in progress. So when I see that girl who was a total mean girl to start to have even the slightest bit of epiphany, even if she’s not totally CHANGED, I’m like YES GO YOU. Because these things we endure and slowly learn from shape us into the adults we become. High school Jamie put other girls down and slut-shamed because she was insecure, wanted other girls to approve and felt threatened. It took me many, many years to learn how toxic and awful this was. How tearing down other girls did NOT make me feel better…it just made me a shitty person with the same insecurities.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I root for the girls who are hard to understand, the ones who aren’t immediately likeable. I mean, I don’t like all “unlikeable” characters I come across because I might not feel them to be realistic/their arc doesn’t resonate with me but the same goes for any likeable character who I don’t think rings true/seems flat. I mean, after all, I’ve come a long way since high school but I can still do some pretty unlikeable things. I can still fall into bad habits. I don’t know, I just think we can all be pretty unlikeable characters at times. Do I like being that way? Nope but even at 29 I’m still learning and growing and trying to not be a shitty person.

(And no I’m not trying to say you are wrong for not liking these characters. We are all different! This is just how I read and relate to certain kinds of characters!)


Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu — I was surprised after reading this one to see so many people NOT like the main character of this one because I LOVED her. SO MUCH. Check out my review of this super underrated book!!


The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty — Watching Jessica grow from high school to adulthood and make mistakes and be super realistically flawed along the way? LOVE. I loved her so much and her journey resonated with me so much. Plus, it’s written in her headspace soooo you get unfiltered thoughts. My thoughts on the series here!


Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: I SO UNDERSTOOD REAGAN SO MUCH. Especially with how she talked about other girls. Those were my same defense mechanisms. I’m not saying it is right but I really identified with her. Check out my review of Open Road Summer. SUCH A GREAT BOOK!



The Young Elites by Marie Lu: Adelina is kiiind of an anti-hero in a lot of ways. You feel for her in a lot of ways but she also does some things you are like NO STOP, BE BETTER. But you understand the reason behind why she is the way she is…so you battle in your mind if you should root for her. My review of The Young Elites!


A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller: So I think a lot of people DID like this character but I know a lot couldn’t handle her. She’s not a perfect character and that’s what I loved about her. She only really seems to be interested in the suffragette’s works at first because it can further her dreams of going to art school. She has her prejudices, due to her upbringing, that will make you cringe. But it all felt so realistic. How her eyes were opened to the things that the suffragette’s were fighting for. How she looked differently at the social constructs after the things she experienced. I loved watching her growth SO MUCH as she fights to be able to create the art she so desires and begins to ask the hard questions. Check out my review!


17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen: This was a book I picked up BECAUSE of the polarizing reviews and the thoughts about the main character! I wrote all about how I almost DIDN’T but then I’m glad I trusted my gut. Loved this book!


Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy: I liked this book! I maybe didn’t LOVE it the way others did but it had NOTHING to do with the main character who A LOT of people didn’t like. It’s true…she’s not always sympathetic but I was so happy about that fact. It gave her so much dimension. You can read more about why I liked her in my review of Side Effects May Vary.


Tease by Amanda Maciel: This one was a challenging one because it’s from the POV of a bully and one of the girls she had targets commits suicide. Such a good and interesting read! Check out my review of Tease!


Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang: This was anovel FULL of unlikeable characters basically. Like SO HARD TO HANDLE SOMETIMES. But the way the layers peeled off throughout the course of the book…WOW. I bawled. Check out my review of Falling Into Place.


Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers: This is one of my most fave books! A book with characters that are hard to swallow but OH MY GOODNESS SO GREAT. Read my review of Some Girls Are.





So tell me…who are some not-so-easy to like characters I should meet? And I’m curious…do you need to like the characters of books you read? I love hearing how different everyone feels about it!

Book Talk: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Book Talk: The Orphan Queen by Jodi MeadowsThe Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Publisher/Year: Katherine Tegan- March 10, 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Incarnate series (which book one is only $1.99 for Kindle right now)

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”



As a child Princess Wilhelmina watched as her kingdom got overtaken by the Indigo Kingdom and her parents and the rest of the nobility were killed. The children of the nobility, like Wilhelmina, were taken as orphans to live in the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. They broke out of the orphanage and for years have formed a group called the Ospreys who intend to take back their kingdom and give Wilhelmina her throne. The next phase of the plan becomes more dangerous and includes infiltrating the palace to gain more information which is a task for Wilhelmina and Melanie. With the wraith that has been destroying kingdoms moving closer to the kingdoms, the stakes are even higher.

a2BlakeShock  tumblr_mcfoxvFkOR1rw5melo1_500

(plus a whole lot of F BOMBS in a text to Alexa)

a4OH MAN. Fans of action-packed and exciting YA fantasy with kickass ladies? Check this one out for sure!! I could NOT put it down. I’m usually pretty strict about getting to bed on time but I kept saying “just one more chapter” like 10 times before I finally could pry myself away from it (and that was only because of necessity to be functioning in the morning).

What had me up reading it so late??

1. ESPIONAGE & vigilante justice: I love espionage, you guys. I loved watching Wil and Melanie (who are badasses) infiltrate themselves into the palace posing as refugees of nobility from a kingdom that has been destroyed by the wraith. I loved watching them carefully learn what they needed to know and carry out tasks that would help them take back their kingdom all while in the comfort of their enemies home. There were those hold-your-breath type moments because there is ALWAYS the high risk of being caught. I also liked how she did begin to see some of her enemies as people as she got to know them. I think she understood that not everything was as black and white as she thought before. In addition to the espionage there is a character named Black Knife who is a complete unknown but this person goes around catching people who use magic and turning them in. Wil and her gang have crossed paths with him but she ends up face to face with him again. I love how his character is slowly unraveled and become more complex. Plus their relationship is interesting especially since he catches people who use magic and she USES it! If you haven’t read Orphan Queen yet… MAYBE skip this sentence if you want to go in 100% blind. (I TOTALLY CALLED WHO Black Knife was!!)

2. I love books where characters rise up to take back their kingdom: I’ve read 2 books in a row somehow where this was this case (Finnikin of the Rock was the other) and I LOVE IT. Wil’s family was killed. All the nobility was killed. Her kingdom was taken. She and many other children from the nobility families were spared but orphaned. I love how they broke themselves free and have been plotting FOR YEARS to take back their kingdom and give Wil her rightful place on the throne. I love the dynamics of the Ospreys — especially the one between a character who has become a leader within the group even though, when the kingdom is theirs, that Wil will be queen. At times I wondered how the orphans, being so young and cut off from the people that they are hoping to gather up to rebel with them, were going to pull it off but I think their resourcefulness from surviving all these years made them quite smart and cunning. Though at times I was confused with how many THINGS/missions they were involved in at the same time vs. how many people there were in the Ospreys. It seemed like they bit off more than they could chew and were stretched thin? Or that was my impression as of right now?

3. The magic element: Okay so the other side of this whole situation, besides taking back the kingdom, is that there is this wraith that is DESTROYING kingdoms and causing chaos and havoc. And it’s getting WORSE and closer to them. Some believe using magic is what causes it. This is why Wil’s kingdom was taken over because they wouldn’t sign the treaty that would cease the use of magic in their kingdom. To be honest, the wraith thing is a little confusing — I don’t really understand how it works or what causes it — but neither do the leaders of the kingdoms. Nobody TRULY understands it which makes it SUPER terrifying and detrimental to figure out how to stop it. There is a whole lot of unknown that they have to piece together to even have a chance. Wilhelmina magic is super interesting and I loved how as she used it, she begun to realize even MORE about her own magic and if somehow she can help stop the wraith.

4. THINGS that happen at the ending: I will not say anymore than MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER but basically I did a lot of THIS toward the end:



factors+ plot, page-turning abilities, twists
LIKED the characters but didn’t feel that surge of LOVE for them YET

Re-readability: I would maybe revisit as a refresher before book 2.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Maybe!

a5YA fantasy fans (esp maybe those who are newer to the genre or those who aren’t wanting a more DENSE  fantasy series…this one is a duology plus novellas, I believe), people who like espionage and saving kingdoms, readers who like magic in their fantasy

a8The Orphan Queen was one I could NOT put down. There was so much to catch my interest and keep me reading — espionage, mystery man practicing vigilante justice, orphaned princess wanting to take back her kingdom, a bit of romance, magic, betrayals and shocking moments galore! It was an exciting read and I can’t wait for the second book. Think it’s totally the perfect book for newer fantasy readers because the setup isn’t AS slow or dense as some can be (from my experience thus far).


The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows book review

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?
On a scale of 1-10 how much did you just lose it at the ending??



The Perpetual Page-Turner


Time for another edition of Reshelved in which I share what books I’ve put down lately and which ones I sadly had to take back to the library unread! Check out past Reshelved posts here!


Put Down





Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn: I know this one won awards and is beloved but I just couldn’t. I had read Complicit and wasn’t too fond of it but I wanted to give this one a chance. I got about 25 pages into this one and I could just tell it wasn’t going to be my thing again. I spoke with a friend and told her how I was feeling and she pretty much confirmed I wouldn’t love Charm & Strange either so that made THAT easy.









The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman: This one was probably more a matter of me not being in the mood for it. I was reading it and about 15 pages in I could just tell I wasn’t feeling compelled to keep reading. I would maybe pick it up at another time because it wasn’t that I wasn’t LIKING it but, at the same time, I know that I probably won’t have that pull to pick it back up ever. Truly I was just reading it for a themed read around Halloween and it had the promise of being a creepy fairytale retelling. Probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.








The Here and the Now by Ann Brasheres: I could NOT get into this one when my book club decided to read it. It was causing me to be in a reading slump hardcore (side effects of being a mood reader, man) and I just dreaded picking it up. I ended up not reading it for book club but then I tried again to pick it up after a review for it piqued my interest and because I thought maybe I just hadn’t been in the mood for it. NOPE. Did not care to keep reading at all.






Went Back To The Library Unread

(not because I didn’t WANT to read them but I stink at reading things when I’m supposed to)



Daughter of Smoke & Bone



Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: I’ve been wanting to start this series because I’ve heard such AMAAZING things about it and I had high hopes of getting to it but BACK IT HAD TO GO. Buuuuuuuut…as we speak right now I just went back and got it so let’s hope I don’t fail this time around!










Chime by Franny Billingsly : This is an older one but when it came out I wasn’t super into fantasy or anything supernatural-y really so I never read it but I had heard AMAZING things about it.  Apparently the writing is really pretty too! I thought maybe now would be a good time to get to it but WOMP WOMP never got time and my renews were up and this was far too thick for me to even try to start and finish it.





The Sweetest Hallelujah


The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey: This was a adult fiction book I purely picked up on a whim at the library. Didn’t know anything about it but was really craving an adult historical fiction….until I finally had time to read this one. Then I wasn’t in the mood for one.  Will probably try to grab this one again!





Did you feel differently about any of the books I put down? Or similarly? Which books should I make a priority to grab again from the library??

Book Talk: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Book Talk: Mosquitoland by David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- March 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, it is his debut!

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 Mim’s mom and dad split, Mim finds herself suddenly uprooted and living with her dad and his brand new wife all the way in Mississippi while her mom, whose correspondence has become less and less frequent, is in Ohio. When she finds out that her mom is sick, she hops a Greyhound bus to get to her which leads her on a journey where she’ll encounter people who leave a mark on her and be forced to confront some tough things.

a2There’s no way I’m going to be able to explain this book!!

a4What an experience reading Mosquitoland was! I know I’m not going to be able to adequately describe this book or the experience and that’s okay. I’m just hoping you’ll see that beautiful cover or my interview with David Arnold and will want to just rush right to pick it up!! It’s one of those one in a million kinds of books. The kind of book that doesn’t FEEL like anything else you’ve ever read. I really have a hard time comparing it to anything I’ve ever read before, truly. I love experiences like that.

Here’s what I loved about it:

1. ROAD TRIP: I’ve read lots of road trip books but none quite like this. Mim truly goes on quite the adventure as she leaves Mississippi to get to her mom in Ohio. It was like a road trip hopped up on extra shenanigans. I don’t want to slip in too many of the situations she finds herself in but it was quite the wild ride. I kept turning the pages like WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!

2. MIM: You guys, YOU NEED TO MEET MIM. There’s no one way to describe Mim — I’d say quirky or eccentric but I’m not sure either of those words fully encompass Mim’s personality. I could tell you about her personality or the things she likes but it doesn’t present the whole picture.  She’s Mim. That’s the only way you can describe her. MIM. I’ll assert it as an adjective. Mim in all her Mimness.  That’s all I can say. And when you meet her you will know what I mean. She’s a voice that echos louder than most in the recesses of my readerly mind. She made me snort-laugh unattractively. She made me cry inconsolably. She made me want to shake her but then hug her at the same time. She made me think. She seeks answers and her journey to find them is one you don’t want to miss as she really has to confront some tough things in her past and present. I could go on and on about Mim and her growth and how much of an amazing heroine she is but the takeaway here is….THERE WILL NOT BE ANOTHER VOICE LIKE MIM. She’s an anomaly (but, like, not written in that annoying way in which the author is like LOOK AT MY CHARACTER ISN’T SHE SO QUIRKY AND DIFFERENT). She’s Mim through and through.

3. The writing: There was something so hypnotizing with David Arnold’s writing. The way this story was told was just so VIBRANT. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. It was dream-like. Surreal. Half the time I was like “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?” or is it one beautifully constructed hallucination?? Or maybe it’s a movie reel in my mind?? It was just told in a different way. He spins some sentences/thoughts that just make you pause before moving on. I dog-earred the crap out of this book for many reasons — profundity, humor, a certain turn of phrase that delighted the cockles of my heart, a heart-warming moment, etc. I also love how the story is revealed with the trip narration and then with letters to Iz. We get slivers of the past that has brought her here mixed with this surreal road trip. Also? How David Arnold explored mental illness in a powerful way. I don’t want to say too much on it because I want people to experience it purely how I did.

4. The cast of characters she meets along the way: There were sooo many excellent characters she crosses paths with who change her and help her along her journey. Every character she crosses paths with come to life so vibrantly in a way that is just SO impressive.



factors+ plot, characters, writing, uniqueness, themes
Nothing really.

Re-readability: Yes!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5contemporary YA fans looking for something a little different, people who like offbeat indie movies like I do (seriously, it’s so cinematic and I kept picturing it shot like some of my favorite indie flicks), readers who like a wild road trip,

a8Mosquitoland was just delightfully offbeat in the most charming of ways. Mim is a heroine which no adjectives can quite pin down the essence of Mim. She will test your patience but you cannot help rooting for her on her journey. And the writing?! It made me up my dog-earring game! Gut-bustingly funny at times, punches you in the gut at other times. David Arnold is a brilliant author who DEFINITELY brought out the big guns with his refreshing and vibrant debut. What next, David, WHAT NEXT? I cannot wait to see what else he can do.

review-on-post-itMosquitoland by David Arnold


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?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

A Walk Down Memory Lane: The Joy Of A Good Album

Sometimes I get nostalgic so I take A Walk Down Memory Lane — check out previous posts!

So I’m in the process of getting all the crap out of my old room in the house I lived from 8th grade until I got married and one of the most daunting parts of that is figuring out what to do with all my cds (SERIOUSLY WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM ALL?). I have hundreds and hundreds of cds from my childhood through college and I was getting all sorts of nostalgic.

I was thinking about how I haven’t bought a new cd (aside from 1989) in YEARS. I buy off Itunes and I pay for Spotify monthly. Listen, I love these things. Like Spotify? My love for it knows NO BOUNDS. But sorting through my cds made me kind of miss cds in a way but also think about my listening habits.

I mean, here’s the thing. I am obsessed with Spotify. I have playlists upon playlists. I love having access to ANY SONG I WANT AND NOT HAVE TO HAVE A BAJILLION CDS EVERYWHERE. I love not having to buy an album if I don’t want to. Because, let’s be real, back in the day before I could preview songs on the internet, the worst thing in the world was to hear a new song and rush out to buy the album only to hate EVERY OTHER SONG on the album.

But on the other hand? I’m feeling overwhelmed by ALL THE OPTIONS. I’m finding myself having SO much music that I just feel like I can’t even keep track of EVERYTHING I like/get to all those artists/songs I like (kind of similar to my too many book choices thoughts?). I have SO MUCH MUSIC that I can’t even decide what to listen to half the time.

The biggest thing I’ve realized? While I obviously do still listen to albums all the way through, I’m listening to playlists I’ve made A LOT of the time. Picking and choosing songs from various albums. (Sure, I used to make mixtapes/cds a lot but the majority of what I listened to an album all the way through.)


But? (You knew there was a but…)

There is nothing like a well crafted album. I mean, the art is in the start to finish. Not in one or two, ready for radio hits. But it tells a story from beginning to end. It’s complete. Those albums, that even your least favorite song, is pretty great. Putting together an album is a craft. It’s an experience. I can think of so many full albums that I probably know EVERY word to every song. THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. And sure, not every album is like that. AT ALL. But today I’m so used to just giving the album a quick preview and picking my favorite songs out and never giving the album another thought or a second listen.  With cds, I mean sure I could skip songs I didn’t like, but most of the time I popped the album in and listened. And SOMETIMES songs would grow on me or I’d see them in a different light after a second or third listen. It was just a full listening experience.

And I’m not even talking about just the LISTENING part of the experience. But oh my god I miss the liner notes. Just ripping open that cd (UGH cd packaging was the most pain in the ass thing though) and pouring over that booklet — looking at the lyrics, any pictures and any other sort of thing included.

I REALIZE THESE MUSINGS SOUND CRAZY. I mean, it’s not even like cds are totally a thing of the past but I’m looking at my own life and ALL my music listening is done through my computer or my phone AND IT IS MAKING ME NOSTALGIC (even though I’m thankful I don’t have to have a bajillion cds to store and I can listen to whatever I want).  And I KNOW I can listen to full albums easily. It’s just…in this pick and choose digital world, I don’t always. And sometimes I feel like less people care about the ART of making an album because of the way listening habits are evolving.

And today’s vagrant musings are brought to you by the letter N (for nostalgia because I’m sippin’ heavy on it lately) and the glass of wine I just consumed. Let’s not even talk about how I just cried my way listening to some music that reminded me of certain college nights with friends. GET AWAY FROM ME, NOSTALGIA.

A Little Chat With David Arnold + A Giveaway of Mosquitoland

You guys! YOU GUYS! I’m so, so super excited for David Arnold to be on my blog today. WHY might you ask? Because David Arnold is awesome and I loved his debut novel, Mosquitoland, which is out TODAY (I’ll be talking about it later this week!!). It was delightfully unique and Mim is somebody you NEED to meet. Also? He’s just really a cool dude who has EXCELLENT taste in music and other things.

I’m so happy to have him here chatting about Mim, music, road trips and mental illness in fiction. I loved all his answers and had SO MUCH FUN with this one! Check out for info about Mosquitoland and David after the interview!


Mosquitoland David Arnold interview


1. Describe Mosquitoland in 5 words or less.


2. One thing I really loved was the vibrant cast of characters Mim meets on her trip — no matter how brief their encounter. If you wrote a spin-off novel from the perspective of any other character, who would it be and why?

I actually wrote a novella from Walt’s point of view. It follows him from Chicago right up to the moment he meets Mim under the bridge. I’m still revising it, and at this point, there are no plans for publication. But I’d love to get it out there one day.

(My response to that: OMG YES PLEASE).


3. I ADORE MIM SO MUCH. If Mim and I were to be friends and had a girl’s day to 1) visit the bookstore, 2) the record shop and 3) rent a movie, tell me a book or two she’d point out as favorites, the record she’d make me buy because she loves it and the movie she’d pick because she’s been dying to see it!


THANK YOU! And wow, this is a fun one. I’m going to go ahead and negate the ones she mentions in the book, because that would just be lazy. So… being that Mim is a self-diagnosed anomaly, I feel like she might be the kind of person to point out a couple books on opposite ends of the spectrum. So let’s say Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions and Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. For the movie, let’s pretend like it’s June already, and Jurassic World is out, because GAH. As for records, I think she would be the girl walking out of the store with a stack under her arms, but if she only recommends one, it would most likely be… Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.


4. I’m always a sucker for a road trip novel so I was eager to go on this journey with Mim. Tell us your favorite road trip memory + a song that is a MUST on any road trip playlist.


Well, I did take a trip on a Greyhound as research for this book, but that is FAR from my favorite road trip memory. I think I’d have to pick the trip I took with my wife and son a couple years ago. He was 18 months at the time, but a good traveler. We drove from Nashville to D.C., then to Boston, then up to Maine for a family wedding. It was so fun! And I’m going to pick two songs for this road trip, a good pick-me-up song, and a good stare-out-the-window-at-the-passing-trees-and-contemplate-life song: Kids by MGMT, and Shelter From the Storm by Bob Dylan.


5. Mental illness is a big part of Mosquitoland. It’s such a complex topic to delve into and to really “get right”. What was your approach to handling it in Mosquitoland?


I never sat down to write a book about mental illness, but once I really dove into Mim’s character—specifically her relationship with her parents—it became evident that this was part of her story. Mental illness can manifest itself in a number of different ways, so I felt it was important to make sure Mim’s experience was plausible, and her responses were realistic. In addition to quite a bit of research on the front end, I recruited the help of three top-notch professionals: a clinical psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, and a licensed social worker who specializes in mental health. All three of them read the manuscript and offered valuable insight. You’re absolutely correct in noting the importance of getting it right—I did everything I could to do this, and only hope it was enough.


6. If Mosquitoland were a movie and you got to be in charge of the music/soundtrack, tell me which 5 songs would definitely make an appearance in Mosquitoland: The Movie. (I’d love to know any particular scenes matched up with songs if they aren’t on the spoiler side!)


Oh man. Best question ever. Um. Okay. I actually made a chapter-by-chapter playlist. But in an effort not to overwhelm/bore everyone, I’ll only pick five: opening scene would be Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out by Elliott Smith, which would then fade into David Byrne’s Glass, Concrete and Stone. The scene where Mim, Beck, and Walt are all getting burgers in the drive through, I would use something like Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple. And then in Chapter 28, I actually wrote that they’re listening to a song on the radio about an undertaker, which is Undertaker by M. Ward. And then without spoilers, I always imagined the ending being cut together to either Blood by The Middle East, or Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie. (Know what’s better than five good songs? Six. Boom. You’re welcome.)


Thank you so much for indulging me, David!! You are even more awesome in my book for the fact you made a chapter by chapter playlist…but this actually doesn’t surprise me. And omg CHILLS right now thinking about the ending with EITHER of those songs. I will be the first to petition for you to be in charge of music for Mosquitoland should it ever become a film (I can really really see it as an awesome indie flick with kickass music).

If you haven’t heard of Mosquitoland, check it out:


Mosquitoland David Arnold After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.


David Arnold is a stay-at-home dad who wrote Mosquitoland while his son napped and watched Sesame Street. This is his first novel. The family lives in Lexington, KY and readers can find David Arnold online on Twitter @roofbeam and visit him at

Check it out on: Goodreads // Amazon


And because I really enjoyed this book I really want to give away a copy to one of my lovely readers! So let’s do that:

Mosquitoland David Arnold

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* Ends 3/10

February 2015 Rewind – Music Recs, Inspiring Posts & More!


Processed with VSCOcam with s2 presetBook + Chocolate Torte Cake

Follow me on Instagram to see more images from my month


1. Went to Apollycon: Had such a fun time at Apollycon in Philly to celebrate the release of Jennifer Armentrout’s newest release with 20+ other authors. Was so nice to hang with friends and chat with authors I love!

2. Will and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with pizza and chocolate cake — That’s how we roll. We were going to go out for dinner and then it was snowy/icy so we decided to just ditch those plans. Plus restaurants are more annoying on Valentine’s Day.

3. We took our older niece and nephews for lunch & bowling: This was our belated Christmas present to them — a day to just do something fun without the little ones. We had such a fun time and it was nice to spend some quality time with them. Will kicked our butts in bowling.

4. Changed my hair up a little bit- I get so BLAH in the winter and I just wanted a little something different so I changed my hair color up from the typical reddish color I do to something more purpley-red. It’s fun and made me happy.

5. I’ve been in a weird reading/blogging space: I’m simply not reading as much as I usually do so far this year. I’m just trying to ride it out and do what I feel like. I think it’s related to blogging to be honest. Feeling like I have to PROVE/GIVE REASONS why I liked or did not like a book. Sometimes I just do or do not. It’s just hard to feel like I have to put my critical hat on every time I read something. That’s not who I am as a reader which is why I said I’m no longer a book reviewer. But, even with declaring that, I still feel self conscious because of what other people still expect this place to be because I’m a book blogger. I’m not a reader who picks apart things. I read and I talk about what I liked/disliked, how it made me feel, what it made me think about, etc. I don’t want to be a book reviewer. I just want to talk about books. However I feel like. Focusing on what IIIII want to about the book. *repeats to self, ignores all the other crap*



I put all my Monthly Rewinds in a Spotify playlist so you can listen to them here now !

1. Falling Short — Lapsley

2. Dangerous — Big Data (ft. Joywave)

3. Strange Enough — VERITE

4. What Kind of Man — Florence + the Machine

5. Show Me Emotion — The Dunwells

6. Under Stars — AURORA


Can’t See the Light by Reuben and the Dark, Lifted Up by Passion Pit, Shots by Imagine Dragons, Reconfiguration by Other Lives

Check out the rest of my February playlist




Again, this month I only read 6 books so I’m just going to give my top book of February!

Mosquitoland David Arnold

 Mosquitoland by David Arnold — My review will happen this week but this book is so unlike anything I’ve ever read.


A Court of Thorns & roses

 My Save the Date for Sarah J. Maas’s ACOTAR. I know it’s a most anticipated book so I wasn’t surprised at all! WORTHY OF THE ANTICIPATION! :)


” Forgiveness is tricky, Alexis, because in the end it’s more about you than it’s about the person who’s being forgiven” ” — The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

I thought A LOT about this sentence and forgiveness after reading this.



1. Ten Fantasy Novels This Newb Needs To ReadI loved all your recs and input! Your love for fantasy books makes me even more excited to be into this genre!

2. My favorite things when it comes to romance in books: THIS WAS SO FUN. So many LoVe fans. I knew you were my people!

3. On second chances: This is one of my favorite discussions I’ve had in a while SOLELY for the fact that I loved all your thoughtful responses and how varied they were!

4. I Recognize The Insanity, I DO!: Another session of bookworm therapy where bookworms enable bookworms. LOVED IT.

5. Ten Bookish Problems In My Life: This was so fun! We bookworms sure do have some “problems”! Lack of shelf space seems to be a big one!!


mr12ANY of my book talks! I was so excited to talk about some of these books!



STILLL NADA. Womp womp. Youtube is so much harder for me because I need good lighting and to look decent and for Will not to be here making noise. Never can find a good time these days!



1. Does Your Opinion Need To Be Heard?In an online world full of hot takes on the latest issues, I do not want to live my life constantly in a reactionary status”  SO MUCH THIS. I am always so cautious in my online life to think before I spout my opinion on something that has happened — whether in the community or a current event. It’s easy to see something online, feel your blood boil and tweet out an angry 140 character rant before you’ve had the time to do your research/take a breather and ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish/wonder if your opinion could be more helpful if you step back and wait for you emotions to settle. I’ve seen the knee-jerk emotional reactions in full force (I’m not judging) and I’ve just always known that reaction isn’t for me which is why I stay silent on a lot of things when the bullets are flying so to speak. Not because I don’t care or HAVE an opinion but because I carefully weigh how I want to present my opinion, if it’s something that ACTUALLY needs to be said, if I have the time/energy to facilitate a discussion about that opinion, what I hope to accomplish by saying it (is it to start a dialogue or to slam something I don’t like?) etc. I have opinions but I’m not sure every single one of them needs to be heard. (And I’m sure others feel differently and that’s okay!)

2. A Reverse To-Do List: I’ve unintentionally done this when it comes to blogging. I started saying no to a lot of things when I realized how unhappy it was making me to do TOO much. It feels bad saying no sometimes but it is empowering and Jess’s post really explains this well!

3. The Awesome Power of Tiny Triumphs: “That’s the thing with forward progress. It’s made up of lots of small steps, and we have to take an awful lot of them on our own, in the dark and away from the fanfare, before we can get to those big moments that really do merit recognition and applause.”  LOVED & desperately needed this post for the reminder that the tiny triumphs are important to remember!

4. Why Am I Not Doing The One Thing I Want to Do?:  It’s funny because I always have these couple things that remain on my to-do list daily and I never seem to do. Soooo this was very relevant!!

5. Five Surprising Things You Learn As A Female Solo Traveler: Interesting post! I’m a woman that truthfully has had to work A LOT to be okay with doing things alone (it’s so hard for me) and become more independent. Hell, I could cry thinking about eating at a restaurant alone. But I work on it and I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone A LOT in the past 5 years…especially BECAUSE of this blog.


1. Better Call Saul on AMCWill and I were huge fans of Breaking Bad and Saul was one of my faaaavorite characters so I’ve been excited every since I heard about this show! I AM SO OBSESSED ALREADY. The actor who plays Saul is brilliant and it is bringing even more depth and to a character I didn’t think I could love more. Learning about Saul BEFORE Breaking Bad? AMAZING. This whole new Saul we are seeing!!
2. Fresh Off the Boat- Will and I don’t watch a lot of comedies but we watched this one and it gets me rolling!
3. My “College Jamie’s Favorites” playlist: I’ve been having some major nostalgia issues lately. So I’ve been putting this playlist on and it just seems to transport me. And also I remember how much awesome music I loved back then. SOME OF MY FAVORITE ALBUMS I HAVEN’T LISTENED TO IN A WHILE.



1. Gayle Forman!!: I’m going to get to see Gayle Forman twice in one month and THAT IS EXCITING. She’s coming to a bookstore in Princeton and then my favorite local indie, Children’s Book World. ALL THE EXCITE. (Gotta get all this out so I can act ~normal when I see her). I’ve met/talked with her quite a few times but I CANNOT HELP FEELING EXCITED LIKE IT IS THE FIRST TIME.
2. Maybe more spring-like temperatures?: A GIRL CAN HOPE RIGHT??
3. NYC Teen Author Fest: I’m not CERTAIN that I’m going but I’d really like to go at least for a day!



Who is one author you would love to chat with over a cup of coffee? Why?

(For me it’s Gayle Forman, OBVIOUSLY. Every time I talk to her I just could talk for even longer. She’s so interesting, smart and funny and always has great stories to tell (esp her travel stories) and she cares and thinks deeply about life! And maaaaybe she could tell me what Allyson and Willem are up to right now. :P )





Pick a category (or 5… or all of them) and tell me what went on in YOUR life this month!! What sort of things were noteworthy for you this month? New obsessions? Any new song recs?? Best books you read this month? Great posts I missed on your blog? Answer to my question of the month?

A January & February Release I Enjoyed!

I’ve got two mini reviews for you today! Just trying to get caught up — that ever so elusive achievement for me!


Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall


The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Amazon // Goodreads
Published: January 2015
Received a copy for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: One day Avery think she is a semi-normal teenager and the next she’s being whisked away to Paris and told she has a secret, powerful family who has had a hand in a lot of the world’s history. And then she finds out that she might just be part of the key to decoding an ancient prophecy that has alluded people which makes her a pawn for the people who want to use her to figure out this mystery and also those who want her dead because of the power she could hold.

This one was fun and had me racing through the pages as the stakes kept getting higher and the conspiracies kept getting more layered. I’d heard it described as a YA DaVinci Code (also reminded me of National Treasure) and I can see that totally! You’ve got to suspend some disbelief obviously and forgive Avery for things, as a reader, you see pretty clearly (I totally guessed some things or called bad decisions) but it didn’t detract from my experience. I loved getting to know this dangerous and powerful family that Avery discovers that she has and seeing how lavish their lifestyle is and the secret hand they have in a lot of the world’s history (so much historical goodness). It was exciting and truly mysterious as danger seemed to lurk at every corner and plots to use Avery were a plenty. The only things I didn’t love: the romance (I don’t really feel it in any REAL way) and also I just struggled with the characterization not being as strong as I typically like. I will be continuing on with this series because I love a good, fast paced conspiracy thriller and I’m so interested in decoding this mystery right along with them (hopefully with even more whisking away to foreign countries)! Super entertaining!





My Heart & Other Black Holes

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Amazon// Goodreads
Published: February 10, 2015
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: The main character has spent much of her life plotting her suicide because she doesn’t want to end up like her father — a man who committed a violent crime that has made her a pariah amongst her peers. She realizes that she won’t carry it out on her own so she finds a website that helps you find a suicide partner which leads her to Roman — a boy so haunted by a tragedy in his family.

I named this as one of my favorite 2015 books I read in 2014 so you may have already seen how much I loved this one! This one was heavy and super emotional but also so full of life and hope despite the sadness crying out from the pages. Reading it made me feel the weight of all the books I own (a lot) on my chest. The two main characters both have some awful things that have happened to them and they feel the burden is just too much and that transferred on to me as a reader.  It’s so hard to read as they plot their mutual suicide and, as the countdown until the day it is supposed to happen, you just so desperately want them to find that one shred of hope to turn back from the plan especially as they start to truly form a bond. Warga deftly explores depression and suicide in a way that just haunts you. I really loved Aysel’s voice — it was just so REAL and honest and her personality was just so vibrant even amongst all the darkness she felt. *kind of spoilery* I was nervous when this book started going into romance territory because I was like “NO. THIS IS SO GOOD PLEASE DON’T SCREW THIS UP” but I thought Warga handled it pretty delicately and realistically and rather than handing us this “LOVE CURES ALL” story I think it was more that Roman became this mirror to which Aysel suddenly could see herself more clearly. Would I honestly have preferred it just to be a friendship? Yep. As a personal thing I think it could have shown it just as clearly how important their connection was in how it sparked some more life-affirming thoughts within them. *end spoiler* Hauntingly beautiful this one was and I dog-earred so many pages because, man, Jasmine Warga can write!






Have you read either of these? I’d love to know what YOU thought!! If you haven’t read them, do you think they are something you are interested in?

I Recognize The Insanity…I Do.

There’s this thing that I do. I’m sure you do it too.

(Please tell me it’s not just me).

I go on and on about how I have SO many books that I’m running out of space. I’ve got review copies. Older books I’ve never ever read. New books I’ve acquired. ALL BOOKS I AM EXCITED ABOUT. Basically, I’ve got A LOT of books. More books than I can read in this life time. (And it’s not like I’m going to ever stop acquiring them).

So what do I do?

WHAT PERFECTLY NORMAL BOOKWORMS DO. (right right right?) I immediately get into my car and GO TO THE LIBRARY instead of picking up one of the books here.

Will doesn’t get it when I come home with library books. He’s all, “BUT YOU HAVE SO MANY BOOKS HERE TO READ. WHY DO YOU NEED TO GO GET SOME MORE?”

And I’m all:

+ I couldn’t find anything I was in the mood for on my shelves. (Him: OUT OF ALL THESE BOOKS…NOT ONE??)
+ There is no such thing as too many books. (Him: Yes. There is. You are Exhibit A).
+ I RECOGNIZE THE INSANITY, OKAY, AND I AM FINE WITH IT. (Him: As long as you recognize it).

I do this with my closet too. I am out of hangers and really have no room for more clothes but I can stand there in my closet for 20 minutes and lament the lack of clothing options. Apparently it’s the same with the bookshelves. I can have a bajillion options (too many it feels like sometimes) but sometimes I still just like coming home with a stack of library books.

As I’m writing this, I just in fact came back from the library (I got Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Finnikin of the Rock in case you were curious). When I arrived home, there were TWO packages of books at my door. On my way to my bookshelves I tripped over a book. I stand in front of my bookshelves and immediately feel the guilt and the judging stares coming from them (and my piles…let’s be’s Hoarders up in here).

It doesn’t really make sense why I went to the library and got more books….but I accept that it doesn’t make sense.

Let’s Talk

AM I THE ONLY ONE?? Can anyone make sense of my need to do this even though I have hundreds and hundreds of perfectly good books I’m excited about here??

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