2018 in Books

It’s time for my annual reading recap. This has been my most productive reading year yet! Here’s the breakdown.

Adult: 35 books

Young Adult: 109

Middle Grade: 6


Nonfiction: 21

Fantasy: 39

Contemporary: 38

Graphic Novel/Comic: 7

Historical Fiction/ Classics: 15

Science Fiction: 11


Swoon-worthy reads: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kahn, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas, American Panda by Cloria Chao

Awesome Antagonists: Warcross by Marie Lu, Roar by Cora Carmack, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu, Vicious by V.E. Schwab, Not Even Bones by Rebecca Scaeffer

Other Favorites: Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos, Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Unanchored by Stephanie Eding, The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Cover Love

let's talk about love

To Be Honest


from twinkle


2016 in Books

It’s that time of year again! Here’s what I’ve been reading in 2016.



A pretty similar spread to last year’s!

And of course, my favorite part. Book awards! Note that these are for books I read in 2016, not books that were published in 2016.

Favorite Book Boyfriend: Sebastian Braddock from These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shankar and Kelly Zekas

Honorable mentions: Ben West from The Only Thing Worse than Me is You by Lily Anderson, Kashmir from The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, and Pete Russell from The Bridge by Jill Cox

Character I want to be friends with: Kady Grant from Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Honorable Mentions: Mori from Lock & Mori by Heather Petty and Liv from All the Feels by Danika Stone

Awesome Antagonist: The Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Interesting Non-fiction: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Honorable Mentions: Paper Hearts: Some Publishing Advice by Beth Revis, Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America by Craig Harline and The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios

Cover Love:

The Reader by Tracie Chee


Honorable Mentions:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova


Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie


Here’s to another great year for books. Looking forward to 2017!

YA Recs: The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig



Nix and her father can sail across time and space. They can go anywhere and anytime they have a map for. However, they can’t return to Honolulu 1868—the time and place where Nix’s mother died. In a desperate attempt to get back to his love, Nix’s father agrees to a dangerous conspiracy.

Why I loved it:

I kind of think of the premise of this book like teenage Doctor Who if the T.A.R.D.I.S. was actually a pirate ship. Basically, this book had all the elements I look for in a good story. A likable protagonist with strong and believable motivations. An intriguing premise. Conspiracy and plotting. Also a ridiculously hot thief who is just icing on the cake.

P2P Tips from Despina Karras

Today I’m excited to have Despina Karras guest blogging for me. Despina was one of my picks during the last round of Pitch to Publication. I asked her to share some of her wisdom with you guys. Here’s what she had to say.

Pitch to Publication was a great experience for me. My manuscript was selected by THE most awesome editor ever, Kyra Nelson (I’m not biased—she’s seriously amazing) and together we worked on revisions for a little over a month. I now have a stronger manuscript, wonderful new friends (including Kyra), and more confidence in my writing and revisions.

What a lot of people don’t know is I entered Pitch to Publication a year ago and ultimately wasn’t selected, so I’ve been on both sides of the contest results. There’s so much to gain by entering, even if you aren’t selected, so I highly encourage it. I hope some of the following advice will be helpful to you.

-Be prepared.

You only need a query and sample pages to enter Pitch to Publication, but make sure your entire manuscript is completely polished and you have a synopsis ready to go.  When I entered I was asked for a partial soon after the entry window closed and a synopsis shortly before editor selections were made. Editors could ask for materials at any time.

-Don’t stress.

So you made the entry dateline. Great! Now what? Well, if you’re anything like me you’ll probably stalk your selected editors’ Twitter accounts to see what they’re saying about the submissions they’re getting. While it’s incredibly fun to do this (not to mention informative) don’t let the feeds consume you. You can drive yourself crazy wondering if every tweet is about your entry. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the editors’ tweets—just don’t take each one personally.

-Make friends.

While it’s always great meeting new people, other Pitch to Publication participants are in your shoes. They’re feeling what you’re feeling. Connecting with them is a great way to see you’re not alone. When my manuscript was selected one of the other mentees started a group for us. To this day, this group has been one of my biggest support systems. You can also find great CPs this way.

-Be courteous.

It’s a great feeling when an editor asks to see more of your work. You have every right to be happy about it. Have yourself a little dance party, tell your closest friends—but don’t brag about it on social media. For one thing, a request doesn’t guarantee your manuscript will be selected. But more importantly there are going to be so many writers who don’t receive requests and, simply, it just isn’t nice to flaunt you got one.

If your manuscript isn’t selected but an editor has taken the time to give you feedback, PLEASE thank them. They’re busy people just like you and me so it’s really nice when they take time to give advice. I received feedback from an editor last year when I didn’t make it in and it was invaluable during revisions.

-Get ready to work hard.

If an editor chooses your manuscript, CONGRATULATIONS! Soak it all in, then prepare yourself for lots of work. When Kyra and I first talked edits, she asked if I would be comfortable with cutting 30K words from my 93K manuscript. I’ll be honest – when I read that message I had a slight panic attack. But after a little (okay, a LOT) of freaking out and consideration, I told her I’d do it. The editors want their mentees to succeed, so trust them. Take a day and let their suggestions sink in, and I promise they won’t seem as intimidating. Just don’t be surprised if you’re asked to trim a third of your book or get rid of a character. I had to do both.

-Know this may not be the end of the road.

Ideally, I’d love to say I have a literary agent after participating in Pitch to Publication. That’s not the case. Most of the mentees in my class don’t have representation yet. You may wonder why I’d encourage people to enter the contest if I didn’t get an agent from it. The fact is, after working with Kyra, my manuscript has never been stronger. I queried shortly after Pitch to Publication and received so many partial and full requests. One request has even led to a second round revise and resubmit. I can’t promise you’ll get an offer of representation during this contest, but I CAN promise your manuscript will look great and be more appealing to agents.

Good luck to everyone entering! I hope you have an experience as rewarding as mine.

YA Recs: The Port Chicago 50

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin



Sheinkin recounts the tragic 1944 explosion on the Port Chicago military base. In the aftermath, Navy crew members fight against unsafe working conditions and discriminatory practices, despite being charged with mutiny and facing possible execution.

Why I Loved It:

Sheinkin has one numerous awards for his work, and it’s not hard to see why. He has a way of sifting through mountains of historical commentary and picking out just the right bits of history to tell a compelling story. He also excels at layering his story in context. This book is chilling in its depiction of the injustice faced by the men whose story it tells. It’s also incredibly inspiring to read of the courage the men displayed in fighting for their cause. Finally, I appreciate Sheinkin’s ability to make historical events relevant to modern readers.

P2P16 Wish List

I’m so excited to be participating in the October round of Pitch to Publication. Here is my wish list along with some of my favorite books.

Wish List

  • YA is my main jam. I read anything and everything YA. All subgenres welcome! Especially historical fiction and fantasy.
  • MG: I would like thoughtful contemporary and historical pieces in the vein of The Penderwicks, Wonder, and The Breadwinner. I also like unique/quirky premises such as The One and Only Ivan, When You Reach Me, and The Sound of Life and Everything.
  • Adult: I’m tempted to say I’m not doing adult, but I did choose an adult manuscript last go around, and loved it. That said, I’m extremely picky with my adult books. Please only send contemporary or historical fiction. I’m not a good fit for adult speculative fiction (I don’t read enough of it to help you!). I also am not great for period romances or women’s fiction. Some adult books I love includeHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Girl You Left Behind, The Thirteenth Tale, and The Rent Collector. There are a lot of great editors who are maybe better fits for adult entries than I am. I’d suggest subbing to them unless your novel really fits something on my wish list.
  • No NA or erotica, please. Sorry. I’m not a good fit for these genres.
  • I love funny books. If your book is funny, please send it to me. Also sass. I’m all about that sass.
  • I like a great high concept book with a strong X meets Y formula. The weirder the mash-up, the better. I also like books that don’t conform to one genre (Under the Never Sky, for example). Books with non-standard narrative style are great.
  • This should go without saying, but I care very much about representation. Diversity is important to me.
  • I’m particularly interested in religious diversity. Show me characters who find their faith or lose their faith or struggle with their faith. As long as it’s not didactic, I’m interested.
  • I would really love to see LGBT+ characters. I’m especially looking for characters on the ace spectrum (asexual, demisexual, grey asexual, etc.).
  • Body type diversity. Give me fat characters. Or characters who are somewhere between fat and skinny. Give me characters who lose weight and are happy about it or who stay fat and are happy about it. Also, any and all submissions with disability representation (mental or physical) are welcome.
  • I love historical fiction. Here are some time periods/ events I would especially love to see: French Revolution, American Revolution, Mughal India, Heian or Edo periods Japan, pre-Imperial Russia, Incan or Aztec Empire, 1950s, ancient Persia, ancient Greece, and ancient Egypt.
  • Other random things I would love: Geek culture romance (The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You, All the Feels), wordplay, enemies to lovers, characters with interesting extracurricular activities, an ensemble of misfits, unreliable narrators, anything that can be compared to a Taylor Swift music video.
  • I am NOT a good fit for books with: the chosen one (probably, unless it’s subtle), a portal that takes the main character to a new world, third person present POV, fairy tale retellings (retellings of classic literature are fine!), or animal protagonists.

Favorite books

Middle Grade

  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Wonder by J.R. Palacio
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van Dozler

Young Adult

  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  • The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lilly Anderson
  • These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  • A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  • A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockheart
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
  • The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

YA Recs: Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson




Acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson recounts her younger years in verse. A vivid account of an African American girl growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.

Why I loved it:

You may notice from the cover that this book has won all the awards. There’s a reason for that. Jacqueline’s story is powerful and moving. Through her stories she gently imparts wisdom. Also, the verse itself is brilliant and beautiful.