A Book I Turn to When…

Books can be friends and reminders. We turn to books to learn and sometimes to escape. Books can hold special memories and can be comfort to turn back to.

If you’re like me, these are your favorite books—the rereads you keep coming back to for different reasons. Today I wanted to share with you some of the titles I read over and over again, and why I turn to them.

IMG_3456
Some of my favorite rereads: Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

A book I turn to when…

…I want to go on an adventureThe Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

The Skinjacker Trilogy—Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound—are incredible books about the world between life and death. The series follows Allie and Nick as they journey through Everlost, and it’s full of so much adventure and imagination that I love turning back to these books.

…I want to escapeThe Selection Series by Kiera Cass

I think I’ve read the original trilogy more times than any other books. I’ve written on here many times how much I love these books. The Selection is simply a fun, swoon-worthy, light read that still packs an emotional punch.

…I want to be inspiredSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is probably my favorite book ever. This is such a powerful story about rape and healing and finding your voice, and every time I read it I feel so inspired.

…I want to enjoy a classicFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is my favorite classic novel, and one of only a few classics I actually like. I love turning back to this older book from time to time because it is science fiction at its best.

…I want to encourage myselfSomewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

Writing can be discouraging work, and if I need inspiration to keep going, what better work to turn back to than my own? Rereading my published book reminds me that I’ve done it before and can do it again.


What are your favorite rereads and why do you keep turning back to them?

My WIP Comp Titles

I apologize for not telling you guys very much about my work in progress (WIP). I’ve kept this story idea under wraps because it’s taking me forever to outline. About a year ago I wrote the first ten thousand words of this story, but, after a medical issue prevented me from reading a writing for several months, I realized the story didn’t work for a lot of reasons.

Part of it was that the story was so much bigger than I initially thought it was going to be, and part of it was because it was a dystopian and I hadn’t thought out all of the necessary details yet. I also just wasn’t ready to start writing the story yet. After I finished Somewhere Only We Know I had felt like I had to jump into something new, but that left me with a half-thought out story.

So now I’ve been taking my time with this idea, outlining it in detail and doing lots of research. Part of that research has been to read and watch all of the comp titles. A comp title is a relatively recent comparable book or movie, something similar to your story that you can use as a starting point to pitch your book and help put it into context for agents, publishers, and readers. So I thought I’d give you guys a taste of my WIP by telling you about all of the comp titles I researched for this project:

  • The Hunger Games Books and Movies
    I chose to watch the Hunger Games movies again because one of my protagonists reminds me of Katniss. Plus I realized my book was also going to be trilogy, so I wanted to watch how the Hunger Games story played out over three books. I had only ever read the first book in the series before, so I loved getting the chance to finally read the whole series.
  • Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
    I chose to read this book because one of her main characters, Lena, reminds me of my other protagonist. Also, this story was inspired by Les Mis, which influences pretty much everything I write.
  • The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
    The Selection Series are some of my favorite books, and I wanted to read them again to help me understand trilogy structure. It was helpful to study a story that I already knew well.
  • Legend by Marie Lu
    Another story inspired by Les Mis, Legend was a helpful and inspiring reread. My second protagonist is very perceptive, like June in Legend. And Lu also has two protagonists, so it was helpful to read this and see how she used both of them.
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
    This one is a fantasy, not a dystopian like the rest of the stories on this list, but it is about a world without a written language, a concept which will play into my WIP.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    This book is a classic, not really a comp title, but the concept of censorship will also play into my WIP.
  • City of Ember
    I haven’t actually read the book City of Ember, but I have always loved this movie for some reason. You’ll see messengers like Lina pop up in my WIP. But the main reason I wanted to watch this movie again was because of that small moment when Lina is coloring a picture of a row of houses. She looks up from the drawing and out the window at the dark alley in her underground city, and then she picks up a blue crayon and colors the sky blue even though she’s never seen the actual sky and doesn’t know what color it really is. This moment has stuck with me ever since I first saw this movie nine years ago, and it was the initial inspiration for my first protagonist.
IMG_1130.jpg
Some comp titles for my work-in-progress

I hope that gives you an idea of what kind of story I’ve been working on. I’ll let you know more soon!

Favorite Book Feature: The Selection by Kiera Cass

I’ve really enjoyed rereading and featuring one of my favorite books the last Friday of each month this year. You can find the full list of my favorites here. September’s Favorite Book Feature is one of my absolute favorites by one of my absolute favorite authors—The Selection by Kiera Cass.

My blog’s very first post was about the amazing Selection Series and how getting to speak to Cass was what gave me the kick I needed to write my debut novel, Somewhere Only We Know. I had so much fun rereading The Selection this month and am excited to tell you why it’s one of my favorite books.

The Selection
The Selection by Kiera Cass

America Singer does not want to join the Selection. She doesn’t want to leave home and her secret love, Aspen, even though he is caste below her in their dystopian society and it would be difficult for them to be together. But she is chosen to participate in the competition to win the prince’s hand in marriage and must leave everything she knows behind. Then, when she arrives at the palace along with the 34 other girls in the competition and meets Prince Maxon, America realizes that the life she had always imagined for herself may not compare to the new possible future available to her.

The Selection is the first book in the original trilogy of the Selection series. The series follows America’s journey as she leaves her home province behind, moves to the capital of Angeles, and enters a competition to become the future princess. These books are filled with sparkling gowns, decadent food, mysterious rebels, and plenty of swoon. When I first picked up the book I heard it described as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, and that is so true.

Reading The Selection is like getting a hug from your best friend. America is one of the most endearing narrators I’ve ever read, and her story captivates me from the very first page. This is my fifth time returning to this book, and I love it more every time. If the combination of a dystopian society with all of the glamour of princes and princesses weren’t enough, the book’s main theme makes this story truly shine.

America had always believed that she would marry Aspen. She dreamed of being his wife even if it meant enduring life in a lower caste and giving up her beloved music. It was all going to be worth it for him. But then when the circumstances change and she finds herself in the palace, she realizes Prince Maxon isn’t who she thought he was. They even become good friends, and eventually America sees another possibility for her life—one in which she could be the princess.

I love this idea of possibilities. I love watching America discover that the world is open to her and that maybe what she thought were the right choices weren’t right at all. The Selection is an amazing book about this discovery.

I’m about to go read the rest of the series again. And you should read them too. You won’t be disappointed.

296d5662-1a1d-4575-9724-36c9953f4613
The Selection Series books

Fall Favorites

Today is the first day of fall! I love when seasons change. I like the idea of fresh starts and entering into new phases. And each season brings with it something new and exciting. These are some of my favorite things about fall:

Back-to-School
I love school. I love to learn and school was always so much fun for me. Sadly I’m not in school anymore. But my husband is, which means Saturday morning library dates. Wright State University has a beautiful library, and we love to go there on the weekends to enjoy coffee and catch up on work.

Fall Candles
I’m one of the few who actually don’t like pumpkin spice lattes and everything else they’ve added pumpkin spice to. But I love how it smells. I love the flowery scents of my spring and summer candles, but my favorites are all of the spiced and pumpkin scents.

Fall Candles
My fall candles

Sweaters and Flannels
I love sweater weather. Sweaters and flannels are just so comfy and cozy. I wish we didn’t have 90 degree weather here in Ohio today so I could wear a sweater.

Apples
Fall means apples, and honeycrisp apples are my absolute favorite. My husband and I are planning on going to an apple festival next weekend, so I’m definitely going to get a big bag of honeycrisp.

My Birthday
My birthday is in the fall, towards the end of October, so of course that makes me love fall even more. My sister also has an October birthday and tomorrow we’re going to see Wicked as an early birthday present from our parents.

Books!
Colder weather means spending more time inside, and I love to curl up with a good book when the weather turns cold. Some books on my fall TBR are A Lily at Dawn (a book by a writer friend of mine), The Selection Series (for I think the fifth time), and In a Handful of Dust (the companion novel to Not a Drop to Drink).

Fall TBR
My fall TBR: A Lily at Dawn by Rebecca Fellrath, In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis, and The Selection by Kiera Cass

My Summer TBR List

I’m one of those people who feed off of sunshine, so spring and summer are my favorite seasons. I especially love to read in the summer. Back when I was in school summer was pretty much the only time I could read for fun, and now the longer days make me more productive so I have more time to read. So since yesterday was the first official day of summer I thought I’d share what’s on my Summer To Be Read (TBR) List.

  • The Shadow Children Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
    I read the first book of this series, Among the Hidden, in May for my Favorite Book Feature, so of course I now have to go read the whole series again. These books were some of my favorites back in middle school/early high school. Haddix was my favorite author at the time, and her books made me want to write too.
summer-tbr-1.jpg
The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix and the Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman
  • The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman
    I also read the first book of this series, Everlost, for a Favorite Book Feature, and I now want to read the other two books as well. Shusterman is one of my current favorite authors because of his incredible writing style. His voice is so distinct, and he is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever read. Look for my post on Everlost next Friday for June’s Favorite Book Feature.
  • Legend by Marie Lu
    I was hooked on this series as soon as I read the book jacket and saw that it is a dystopia inspired by Les Misérables. I’ll be writing about this amazing book for July’s Favorite Book Feature.
  • Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
    August’s Favorite Book Feature is going to be this eerie dystopia about a water shortage.
Summer TBR 2
Legend by Marie Lu and Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
    I’ve been meaning to get to this on for a while. Set in future Manhattan in a skyscraper that’s a thousand stories tall, this book sounds so glamorous and thrilling.
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
    This book is about a world without reading, which I find really interesting. It’s a fantasy, which I don’t tend to enjoy very often, so I’m not sure I’ll like it. But I think it will help inspire me and my current project.
  • Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
    I won the audiobook version of Metaltown a while back from a giveaway by the author, and I’m finally getting around to listening to it. This one is another dystopia inspired by Les Misérables, so I was hooked as soon as I heard Simmons describe it at a signing I went to.
Metaltown
I won an audiobook of Metaltown from a giveaway Kristen Simmons had on Instagram. I got these awesome Press Back buttons from her signing I went to.
  • The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
    I think this will be the forth time I’ve read the original trilogy, but I like these books more each time I read them. I want to go through them again to help me as I work on a similar book.
296d5662-1a1d-4575-9724-36c9953f4613
The Selection series by Kiera Cass
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    While these are some of my favorite movies, I haven’t actually read the books except for the first one when it was a new book nine years ago. I also think this series will help me with my current project, so I finally want to read them.

Of course, all but two of these books I already own, so my library stack that’s already as tall as me isn’t getting any shorter any time soon. But I still can’t wait to get to read all of these stories this summer.

What I’m Reading: The Selection Series

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate turning in my manuscript to my publisher than by reading the Selection series by Kiera Cass. These books have changed me in so many ways.

First of all, they’re just really great books. They’re about America Singer, who was born low into the caste system of Illéa, the country that was created after the United States ended. But all of that changes when she is whisked away to participate in the Selection, a competition to win the prince’s hand in marriage. These books are romantic and suspenseful. Plus the series is an amazing dystopian story, which is my favorite genre. I can’t recommend these books enough.

296d5662-1a1d-4575-9724-36c9953f4613
The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

Secondly, something that I’ve always noticed in my life is how I coincidentally read books just when I need to read them. Whether I was assigned them in class or picked them up on my own, they just always seem to line up with what I need to hear just then. And when The One came out, the final book in the original trilogy, these books changed my life in a very important way. For reasons that are too long and complicated to explain and that only my husband and I understand, these books kept us together when we were dating and were a huge push towards me becoming a Christian.

Lastly, it was so perfect that the final book, The Crown, came out just as I was finishing up my novel to send in because I don’t think that I would have even written it without Kiera Cass. Ever since becoming a Christian, and especially since graduating from college, I’d struggled to write. I didn’t know how to be both—a Christian and a writer—so I asked Cass when I got the chance to meet her because she does both wonderfully. She told me to stay true to myself and my faith and only write what I feel comfortable with.

b48dd5d6-0ecb-4a8b-8a0f-2c22bef69679
 I loved getting to meet Kiera Cass!

So I prayed a lot, asking God what I should write, and then my novel, Somewhere Only We Know, just poured out from my fingers. I wrote it in three months, and had a publishing contract halfway through.

I can’t wait to share Somewhere Only We Know with the world, and I’ll always be grateful to Cass that she pushed me in the right direction. Time to go read The Crown!

8c52a75d-f1ad-4735-b2c7-543771960a63
Can’t wait to read the final book in the Selection series – The Crown!