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1. Epic Earth Day Reads! Environmental Themes in Books



Happy Earth Day! 
Environmental themes in YA can help young readers to feel a better connection to nature and inspire them to get involved with the environment. This is extremely important in today’s world, where nature is always competing for shelf-space with futuristic themes and a constantly updated stream of technology.
Nature is a part of everything around us and helps to make us who we are, and having that relationship reflected in YA books is a wonderful way to promote environmental awareness.
So what are a few environmental themes that we see in teen books?
Find out more at Hypable!

Comment or RT using @srjohannes and be entered in drawing for this Earth day prize ;)

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2.

Secondary Characters and Why They Matter

         So any author knows how hard it is to incorporate secondary characters into your plot. It's easy to get lost in your main character's personality and development and completely overlook your "side characters' " depth. But secondary characters are way more than pawns used to move a plot forward- in fact, secondary characters can add to your protagonist and the overall feel of your story as well. Here are a few reasons secondary characters are so important: 

1.  They can Foil your Protag



     If you have a really developed secondary character, he or she can help by being a foil to your protagonist. This is a simple way to move plot forward and keep your reader engaged- a foil (aka: opposite personality) to your lead is something that keeps a story well rounded. 

2.  They Move Plot Forward



    
    Well developed secondary characters can help move plot forward creatively. If you have a good team of side characters fully integrated into your protagonist's story, the plot will move smoothly to a solid finish. 


3. They Add Depth




    Of course, secondary characters add a lot of depth to the story. If it was only your protag and a few villains it wouldn't be interesting! Not only that, but with a variety of characters comes a variety of themes and deeply felt emotions. 

4. They Mix it Up



    Secondary characters help to add variety and fun to your story. If you only have two types of characters it would get very boring very fast! In order to keep your reader engaged and interested, you need a wide range of characters and each one needs to be somewhat relatable/easy to empathize with. This will progress your story and keep your audience on its toes! 


So those are a few reasons to really get cracking on your secondary character base! Hope they were helpful! If you have any further tips leave them in the comments below! 

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3. Book Nerd Problems

Book Nerd Problems 

As book nerds, there are some problems we deal with every day that other people just don't get. For instance, how are we expected to simply walk into a book store and only buy one book? Chance are we'll come ambling out under three armloads of bags and an empty pocket book. So, here is a better look at the problems all book nerds face!

1. We Can't Buy Just One Book 



2. If a Character Dies, a Piece of Our Soul Does Too



3. We Get Literally No Sleep






4. No Secondary Character is Safe



I hope some of you book nerds related to these! If you have anymore book nerd problems, post them in the comments below! 


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4. Fun Book Clothes!

Fun Book Clothes!

This week while I was online, I found quite a few fun things to wear- book nerd style! Here are a few of my favorites that I thought were super creative- enjoy! 

The "I like big books and I cannot lie" sweatshirt. Perfect for winter and letting everyone know that the bigger the book the better: 




This ridiculously cool "book skirt." I don't know whose idea this was, but I approve: 




A print scarf. Um, yes please: 



This awesome Divergent shirt. Perfection down to the last faction: 



And, finally, this amazing Harry Potter tank that reminds us all where the series started:



I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! I want to see some of these things on shelves, and certainly in my wardrobe.

Best and happy reading! 

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5. Indie Publishing

Indie Publishing Fun 


So I went scrounging around on the internet and found a few articles that answer some FAQs about Indie Publishing. They're awesome and quick reads that shed a little light on the Indie world, and thought that they might make for a good post! Here they are: 


1. Self-Publishing FAQ with Sarra Cannon


This is an awesome, technical article that answers some frequently asked Indie questions. Super helpful!


2. My Self-Publishing Journey: On Becoming an Indie Author


This article from Publisher's Weekly is a really cool story about one author's self-publishing journey.



3. Indie Publishing, Independent Publishing


This article from Abbott Press gives a few good pros of going Indie! 


So there are a few articles about Indie Publishing! There are tons of good resources out there that go into detail about the Indie world, and these are just a few short blurbs about it.

Best and happy reading! 

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6. Books to Movies

Books to Movies with Ashley

There are many new movies out lately based on books, and I thought it would be interesting to review a few of them here. So, without further ado, here are a few book-to-film translations and how I feel about them: 


1. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One




Four out of five stars. This movie was amazing and stuck to the book really well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the action and emotions. The camera angles were awesome and the scenes in the districts were heart-wrenching; Jennifer Lawrence is truly amazing. I did miss the action of the arena though, but all in all this was a fantastic adaptation.

2. Gone Girl 




Five out of five stars. I had not read the book before I saw the movie, which I never do, and I was blown away. The entire film was hilarious and gut-wrenching and just a twisting plot-rollercoaster. I highly recommend this movie to any and everyone (adults, that is).

3. The Maze Runner




Four out of five! I loved the movie so much, and the special effects were fantastic. The fact that the first book and the second book were pushed together a little helped forward the plot so well- the ending included a bit of book two, and it really did add to the ending. The boys were hilarious and the acting was spot on!

And there you have it, a few book to movie adaptations I loved. Of course, Gone Girl is for mature audiences only, but the other two are YA and good for all ages. Enjoy!

-Ashley 

PS: Here is a wonderful article on books to movies:


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7. CJ Omololu's The Third Twin Blog Tour has begin!

The Third Twin releases next Tuesday.


Tour Schedule

WEEK ONEFebruary 16th: Fictitious Delicious REVIEW
February 17th A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
February 18th Bookish REVIEW
February 19th Novel Novice REVIEW
February 20th Good Choice Reading SPOTLIGHT

WEEK TWO
February 23rd: Once Upon A Twilight REVIEW
February 24th Fiktshun REVIEW
February 25th Two Chicks On Books SPOTLIGHT
February 26th A Midsummers Night Read REVIEW
February 27th Me, My Shelf and I REVIEW

Identical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It's Pretty Little Liarsmeets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist.

When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia's guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they'd never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn't exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer…or Alicia is real.

If you can,  join us in Oakland next Tuesday, Feb 24th for the launch!


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8. Protags and Price-tags

Protags and Price-Tags

Hi everyone- Ashley here! So I have this thing where I like to decide where I think the protagonists of famous Young Adult books would shop (ergo: "Protags and Price-tags"). Basically I take various fiction icons and determine what stores they would like if they lived in the real world. For this first edition I'll be focusing on The Hunger Games- so, here goes!

1. Katniss Everdeen



Oh Katniss Everdeen, how we love you. I see Katniss shopping at one of those high-end sports stores with the climbing walls and running rivers inside the store. She'd probably shoot straight for the archery aisle, stopping to scale a few rocks in the meantime. And hey, if she gets hungry there's always beef jerky at the check out counter. Let's just hope there are no arenas involved.


2. Effie Trinket



So this one...this one is going to be good. I picture Effie walking into one of those vintage clothing stores you find in old town squares and literally buying everything without looking at any of it. Like, she just walks in, snaps her fingers, and goes home with a truck full of wigs and bulb-shaped dresses. Props for Effie.

3. Peeta Mellark 


Easy. Williams Sonoma without a doubt. He'd walk in, take one look at the free samples and jarred recipes, and probably pass out. Then after he woke up he'd demonstrate how to burn bread to all the customers watching. Classic Peeta.

4. Gale Hawthorne 



I could see him walking into one of those fancy men's clothing stores, putting on a nice suit, hating it, and eating a cheeseburger in the food court alone. He just wouldn't do malls very well.


5. Finnick Odair 



Okay, there's no doubt that Finnick would be one of those obnoxious Abercrombie and Fitch supermodels, the kind that look out at you from a ceiling-high poster. Let's face it, he'd smell like Axe and love it, and he'd smile from the front of your shopping bag the rest of the day.



So there it is! If you guys want me to do any other characters/book series, let me know in the comments below! ;) 


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9. The Different Types of Book Lovers

The Different Types of Book Lovers 


Hello all, Ashley here! As a book lover you've probably noticed by now that there are many types of book lovers, of all sorts and kinds, and we love them all. Whether you're that one kid who reads nothing but sci-fi, or the girl in the corner with the newest Nora Roberts each week, we appreciate you. So, here is a list of the various types of book lovers out there (so far), and what they tend to reach for at the library.

1. YA Fanatic


Yes, the best kind of people, the YA fanatics. Those book lovers who love Young Adult novels are owning the spotlight right now, because YA is such a thriving community of love and rainbows and horribly misunderstood protagonists with supernatural powers. Seriously. If it's about a teenager whose touch can kill, has wings growing out of his or her back, or is suddenly blessed with the gift of foresight, we're probably into it. 




2. The Romantic


Not much to be said here, except go you. You love everything love triangle/breathtakingly impossible related and you're not afraid to own it. Most days you enjoy curling up with the newest Nicholas Sparks/Nora Roberts installment, and you don't even care that none of these people exist. Because they totally do, in your head. 

If you're a bird I'm a bird.



3. The Movie Goer


You make it your job to read the book before seeing the movie. Like, basically, if you were to see the movie first you might implode and the world would start rotating in the opposite direction. Because let's face it, the book is always better, and you want to be able to say that over and over again in the theater as accurately as possible. 

Honestly, you are a fantastic human being. 




4. The Classic Reader


So you're pretty much only interested in classic literature. And hey- that's cool! Bloodthirsty teenage arenas and kids with magic wands aren't your thing, and that's okay. You prefer the wise words of Dickens and Whitman and Austen- and you have every right to! You also really like watching Shakespeare and sipping tea from a china cup, but we won't judge (too hard).



5. And, Finally, the Comic Book/Manga Lover


You love everything that looks like it's moving on the page, and you aren't afraid to show it. If the characters have huge eyes, cool powers, and a variety of hilarious sidekicks, well, you're set! You're often seen hidden in the back of the library next to the graphic novel section, sitting in a pile of books and planning your next cosplay. 



And that's it! A few types of book lovers to look for. If you have any other types, leave them in the comments below!

Best,

-Ashley 

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10. Some Exciting 2015 Releases!

Exciting 2015 YA Releases! 

So it's about a month into 2015, and there are all kinds of exciting new books coming out in the next few months! In order to spread my excitement for these upcoming releases, I thought I'd share a few of my most anticipated with you. Here they are, some books you should totally put on your preorder list!


1. Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan


Coming February, 2015! Davy is back and better than ever! I'm super excited to see what the HTS carrier does in this well anticipated sequel.




2. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (author of Cruel Beauty)


Coming May, 2015! I don't know about you, but I absolutely adored Cruel Beauty. And even though this isn't set in the same world, it sounds just as intriguing! Little Red gets a makeover in this amazing book, and I can't wait.





3. Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins 


Coming April, 2015! The action is back in the sequel to Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins! I'm looking forward to reading more of Harper Price's story.





4. The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2) by Danielle Paige 


Coming March, 2015! The next installment of the Wizard of Oz inspired series is sure to entertain! If you haven't checked out The Witch Must Burn (a prequel novella in the series), be sure to before March! 



5. The Trials (Project Paper Doll #3) by Stacey Kade 


Coming April, 2015! It's the third installment of The Paper Doll Project (Book One: The Rules, Book Two: The Hunt). I love this series so much, and can't wait to see what happens in the third book. 


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11. Struggles of Being an Extreme Book Lover

The Struggles of Being an Extreme Book Lover 


As hard core book lovers, we tend to get caught up in the ins and outs of every new book we read. They're pretty much like ink and paper extensions of our own being. Not only that, but we can be pretty picky about who borrows our books and for how long- anything past a week is just painful. So, naturally, there are quite a few things in this world that we book lovers must tolerate. Here are just a few:

1. The "Book in Lap" Trick 




Okay, we've all been there. You're supposed to be paying attention to something "important," but instead you've got the newest New York Times Bestseller in your lap. They'll never notice if you make eye contact occasionally, right? Wrong. They always catch you, and you always have to put it away.

2. Stairs




Walking with a book in your hands is a pretty universal trick for all book lovers, especially those of us extreme readers. But when your foot hits that invisible patch of air and your book goes flying...yeah, not so much. Stairs are the bane of every book-walker's existence.

3. The Questions...


It never fails that while you are sitting quietly reading, somebody will find you and ask you one (if not more) of these questions:

"What are you reading? Who's it by? What's the plot? What page are you on?"

Um, a YA fantasy, an indie author, page 394. Do you need to know what I had for breakfast, too? No? Good. We're done here.




4. Books to Movies




You all know what I mean by this one. No explanation necessary.




5. And, Finally, Sleep 


Okay, so maybe it isn't something we have to put up with, but us book lovers struggle with sleep every night. Sleep is that constant, nagging voice in the back of our heads that says, "You've already read five chapters, how much more could you need?" But do we listen? Nope. It will be 2am soon, the perfect hour to finish a novel I started six hours ago. Shut up, head.




So there are a few things extreme readers have to deal with on a daily basis! If you have any other daily obstacles that we book lovers face every day, feel free to leave them in the comments below.



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12. Why Writers Make Great Friends

Why Writers Make Great Friends


Now, that isn't to say that anyone of any other profession isn't a great friend, or doesn't do the things on this list- there's just something about writers that's just downright...well, out there. And that can make for some of the best times! As writers we have super creative brains that are on the go 24/7, and it's pretty hard to stop our imaginations once they're on a roll. So, without further ado, here are some reasons why being friends with a writer is never boring! 


1. We Make Any Situation Fun 




What is that you say? It's raining outside, your car won't start, and the power just went out in your house? Evil forces are attacking, I'll be right over! Oh? Not evil forces? Must just be a momentary lapse in the time/space continuum. My time machine can fix that.



2. We'll Put You in Our Books




Now, this one can be good or bad. But when it's good, that means you'll probably get a debut-best- friend-role in chapter four, complete with an awesome car and quirky personality. And probably some strange hair color that clashes with the social norm. Just go with it. 


3. We'll Act Weird in Public



There really isn't much that embarrasses us. We'll win any weird competition and then come back for more. When you spend all day every day thinking up strange characters and writing their life stories down, making faces in Walmart is kind of second nature. 

4. We're Empathetic


It's a writer's job to understand feelings and react to them. So if you're having a super bad day and need someone to listen, chances are we'll be there. Not only that, but we'll have thought of everything you need before hand- chocolate chip cookie-dough ice cream, anyone? Yeah, it's our writing snack of choice and we bought two.

5. And, Finally, We'll Write you Letters




Whether it's by snail mail or email, little post-it notes on the fridge or funny reminders on the bathroom mirror, you'll always have something to read. Writers deal with words every day and love to write them, so our communication method of choice is paper or screen. Besides, who doesn't want to get a letter?


So remember- the next time you're with your writer friend, feel free to crack a funny face and ask for a pint of ice cream. Chances are we'll have both.


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13. Social Media Tips and Why They Work

Social Media Tips and Why They Work

- with Ashley 


Lately I've been taking an online social media course with the Social Media Academy, and I must say, it is super helpful! The modules go into different aspects of social media management, audience outreach, campaigns, and strategies. So, in order to spread some of this knowledge, I've posted some of the notes I found most helpful below. I hope they're useful! 



* Three of the Most Important Values to Remember in Social Media: 



1) Creativity
2) Interaction
3) Leadership

Without creativity, interaction, and leadership, your social media strategy will not succeed. Creativity will bring your audience in, interaction will keep them, and leadership will gain their trust. 


* Flexibility and Evolution is Key




If you can remain flexible and evolve with the "social media times," if you will, then you can bend to your audience and keep them happy. You must remain on top of your game and change with the changing industry in order to keep your followers and likes. 

* Remember to Measure Your Success


Measurement and social media metrics are super important to your strategy! Implement tools such as TweetDeck and TweetReach in order to see who you are reaching and what they like. Different values you can measure are: 

1) Reach
2) Engagement 
3) Acquisition 
4) Conversion 
5) Influence


So there are a few notes that helped me immensely! You can find all of these awesome ideas on the Social Media Academy, and it is a great way to get high quality social media training quickly. 

All the best!

-Ashley 

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14. CJ Omololu - my friend, Top Cancer Ass Kicker, and author of the new The Third Twin - Spread the Word!

I met Cynthia Jaynes-Omololu about 5 or 6 years ago in LA. We'd known each other for years online and built a great friendship. (I think it was in FriendMatch.com that connected us or Blogger :)


When we met, we s sat down to have a drink and I ordered my usual filthy martini. She laughed and said she was surprised. She went on to tell me this story she made up in her head - that she thought I was an Ann Taylor marketing business gal who only wore pink suits with matching shoes and purse who drank pink cosmos.Those who know me know I am far from pretty in pink. I am jeans and boots who drinks filthy martinis and coffee.

A few things stuck out to me that day that made me adore CJ -
1) I had to like her b/c she obviously spent many nights thinking about me ;) so I didn't want to hurt her feelings.
2) She is OBVIOUSLY creative as hell and makes up great stories - she did with me.
3) She's a little wackadoo too. Which sells me even more b/c I am far from normal on the bell curve.
4) She immediately made me feel comfortable and listened to my publishing woes, laughed at my bad jokes, and insisted on being my friend. (She's pushy that way ;)

Since then, we have:
 - Roomed at conferences where she has generously shared her portable Kuerig, flavored cream and strong coffee with me (and yes...she drags that dang thing with her everywhere. Where most people would have loves to snuggle, CJ sleeps with her mini-kuerig. In fact - Kuerig should call her for a commercial and pay all her med bills for the free PR she has given them!)
- Shared stories - funny ones and the ones we write. She has been a great CP in the past, always offering great suggestions (and twists) in my own work.
- Stayed with me at the Writers Police Academy where we fingerprinted each other and tested blood stains ( - so we also share a sick humored mind! only writers will appreciate this part!)
- Shared her lovely home and family with me. Her husband made me coffee too. I swear they probably grow their own coffee beans.
- Made delicious salmon and sauteed green been dinner for me.
- Introduced me to her lovely dog…ok I can't make this all rosy just b/c she's battling cancer! That "sweet" (he would never hurt anyone even if you came in the house with a key) kind of dog chased my butt upstairs and cornered me in my bedroom until Tae had to rescue me! (Thx Tae :)
- She has made me laugh, seen me cry over this strange industry, given me words of encouragement, and stayed up late with me talking b/c I could not go to sleep!

So the fact that some asshole named Cancer barges in and wants to take her away from me - pisses me off to no end.

Interrupted by bad movie clip from Independence day! -
"We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!"

So - a bunch of us are throwing a launch party for her and spreading the word about her new book across the country. It is important that everyone in this world knows about CJ Omololu, The Third Twin, her total wacky awesomeness, and her deep resonating words.

Because as a writing community, that's what we do for friends, authors and books - we support them always no matter what!

So please share this flyer with your community. Join our Facebook page, preorder her new book, and come to the launch party to help CJ celebrate her new baby - The Third Twin.

And while you are at it - a couple prayers couldn't hurt either.

(Take that Mr. Cancer! jerk hat...)

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15. News Year Resolutions for Readers

New Year Resolutions for Readers 

So the beginning of the new year has come and gone quickly, and the first month of 2015 is coming to a close! Most people have one new year resolution that they either accomplish or forget about, as the tradition goes. But what about some year-round resolutions for readers? If your'e an avid reader you know that your fiction doesn't stop for anything! So here are a few "all-year" resolutions for readers, ones that you can accomplish for each month: 


January: Read a New Genre


This is a good one! For the first month of 2015, try reading a new genre that you wouldn't normally pick up. Rather that be Sci-Fi, romance, fantasy, what have you, nothing is off limits! You might find that pushing your genre boundaries will be very rewarding.

(This is The Host by Stephanie Meyer- it's an amazing scifi novel!) 

February: Try a New Author

Never heard of this author before? Have no fear! Sometimes branching out and reading a name you've never heard of before can be a great, exhilarating thing. Before you know it you're praising your new find to all of your reading circles and ordering their other series.

March: Read Three Novellas


So it's the third month of the new year and I think some novellas are in store. There's nothing better than something short, sweet, and innovative- and novellas are just that! Whether it's a parallel story to your favorite series, or a few chapters from the POV of a side character, this is your month to explore!
 (A great novella by Tahereh Mafi! Spoken by the male characters' POVs).


April: Order a Random Book


Now this one would be hard for anyone- order a random book? Are you crazy? Of course, I'm not suggesting you play literary Russian Roulette on Amazon. Oh no. But look up a genre you like and read a synopsis, then order it! Take a chance! You may just like what shows up on your door. 


May: Try a Recommendation 


Corner your BBF (Best Book Friend) and ask that what their latest favorite read is. Then borrow it! They're your BBF for a reason, and I promise you that you'll probably love whatever they just finished. 


June: Buy Ten Cheap Paperbacks




Do it! Find one of those cheap paperback stores and grab a basket. Then, buy the first ten books that interest you, and read them throughout the month. It'll be the cheapest book excursion you'll ever make!


So there are some "all-year" book resolutions through June! Keep reading for the next 6 resolutions, and if you have any of your own please leave them below!

Best and happy reading! 

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16. Cool Nature Reads

Cool Nature Reads 

So in honor of Grace's adventures, today I'm going to share with you a few nature/thriller YA novels that are amazing! These reads are fantastic and if you like Grace's story, you're sure to love these! 



1. Nature Catchers- by Cheyenne Lynnae


This YA nature thriller is full of elemental powers, shape shifters, and quite possibly everything you could ever want out of a novel! Not only that, but it delves into the realm of humans vs. nature, and ultimately what it means to be a part of nature yourself.




2. Maximum Ride- by James Patterson 


A classic. Maximum Ride is about a"flock" of teenagers who were born in a lab. They have both human and avian DNA, and spend their days running from their elusive creators. In addition, they help save the world from ecological disaster on a daily basis. Score. 



3. Origin- by Jessica Khoury 


This is a great new YA novel, set smack in the center of the Amazon Rain Forest. Pia, the first of a new race of human beings who are supposed to bring a stop to death, finds a way out of her forest prison. It's truly gripping begs to ask the question: "What is humanity?" 


So there they are, a few wonderful Young Adult nature reads that you'll love! Check them out on Amazon/goodreads, and let me know if you like them! 

Best and happy reading! 



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17. YA Review- Gilded Ashes

Gilded Ashes (1.5)
by Rosamund Hodge

Perhaps many of you don't know this, but there is actually a second installment in the world of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. It's called "Gilded Ashes" and it's a take on Cinderella in Nyx's world of demons and Greek mythology- so, essentially, it's ridiculously good. It's available on Amazon for Kindle and ebook download, and it's such a great read! 


Basically, Maia is a servant in the home of her stepmother and two stepsisters, in the same world Nyx and Ignifex exist. Only heads up- the ghost of her dead mother haunts the house and protects her only daughter dearly (and sometimes fatally). 



It's an awesome retelling in a compelling world! Maia and Anax are wonderfully written characters, and I loved watching them develop. Not only that, but Hodge takes the evil stepsisters and makes them not only more likable, but more human as well. It truly is a creative turn from the classic tale- and the prince was a good looking dork with glasses. Um, yes. 


This retelling will leave any fairytale lover wishing for more!
Best and happy reading! 

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18. Book Shelf Friday!

Book Shelf Friday!


So in honor of it being Friday, I decided it might be entertaining to have a little fun with bookshelves! In this post you'll find pictures of ridiculously cool, (and downright unfair), book shelves- from the colorful to the tall, the zany to the straight up weird! So scroll down for some awesome shelf ideas and nerd fun: 

1. Buzzfeed: 20 Insanely Creative Bookshelves






2. Pinterest: Awesome Bookshelves Board




3. IncredibleThings.com: 20 Brilliant Bookcase Designs 






4. Audra's Ally: Bookshelf Envy 





5. LifeHack: 30 Awesome Bookshelves Every Book Lover Needs To Have





Hope you enjoyed these and happy reading! 

                                 

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19. Writing Time is Sacred

Writing Time is Sacred

As any writer knows, it's difficult to come by a stretch of time dedicated only to writing. Most writers need hours of time a day to sit down and draw up their characters, create layered dialogue, and fabricate intriguing settings- not to mention the act of rereading and revisions. But the stresses of every day life don't exactly allot for grand expanses of writing time, let alone days of it. So how can we as writers preserve our sacred time to write? Here are a few ways: 

1. Set a Schedule


Just like with any job or duty, set aside a daily schedule for your writing. A personal journal will help you get organized and motivated, and seeing your writing hours spaced out on paper will help you stick to your goals! And if you miss a day here and there, don't worry- just make up for it in your next schedule. 

2. Create a Safe Space



Creating a cozy space to write in is as important as scheduling itself. If you have a designated time and place to write, one that you feel comfortable in, you will be far more productive than sitting down and working randomly. So, section off a room in your house to use as your "writing space," and make sure it remains an uninterrupted safe zone.

3. Relax


Sit back, relax, and breathe. One of the main reasons why finding time to write is so hard is stress. If you take a little time away from every day stressors, you can utilize what time you have to get some good writing done. You just have to time out and step back, and try not to overwhelm yourself. 

4. Plan Ahead


Of course, everyone has responsibilities. As a writer, the hardest thing to do is manage all of your daily tasks in addition to developing your plots, characters, and various ideas. So, try to get a majority of your daily work done before you write, and block out writing time in between! If you have to work Monday afternoon, write Monday evening. If you have shopping to do or phone calls to make, write in the time you have between those things. Planning is a useful tool that can create time you didn't even know you had!


So, try not to freak out. Finding time to write can be stressful and frustrating, but once you get your schedule down you'll find it easier and easier to set aside an hour here and there for your characters. And what's more, you'll be much happier once you do! 

I'll leave you with a few links that may help in the ever-present writing time quest: 




Happy writing, and leave a comment below if you have any further tips for creating writing time! 

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20. My Top Five Retellings

My Top Five Retellings

Needless to say, fairy-tale retellings are all the rage right now in the YA world. We're talking modern versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and various other classics. Personally, I'm a huge fan of this new trend, and love reading twenty-first century versions of my favorite stories, especially when the princess is turned into a cyborg, high school student, or hard-core martial artist. So, without further ado, here are my top ten fairy-tale retellings and why: 

1. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Based on: Beauty and the Beast





2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Based on: Cinderella

3. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Based on: Little Red Riding Hood 


4. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Based on: Hansel and Gretel 


5. Splintered by A.G. Howard

Based on: Alice in Wonderland 



So there you have it folks! These five retellings are some of my favorites, and are all thoroughly entertaining and genius. They have fantastic plots, witty dialogue, and thrilling modern twists on some classic tales. If contemporary fairy-tales are your cup of tea, check a few of these out! 

And if you need an even more extensive list, I'll leave you with a few links! 





Best and happy reading,

-Ashley Dawson  

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21. Books That I'm Reading This Week

Books That I'm Reading This Week

With Ashley Dawson  (aka: YAshley)


So in case anybody is interested, (and I hope that you are! And if you aren't that's okay, no judgement here), I wanted to go ahead and share a few new books with you that I bought on a whim and decided to read this week. I haven't started any of them (yet), but I can assure you that the YA obsession remains strong within my nerd soul. So without further ado, here is my list of my recent book buys!

1. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins





This one hooked me the minute I read the words "southern belle" and "lethal fighting instincts" on the same book jacket. Convinced that I'd be reading the story of a homecoming queen gone ninja, I just had to order the hardcover off Amazon. Worth it? Absolutely. I'll keep you guys updated on the ninja fight scenes. 


2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi




Now this one, this one had my YA senses tingling. A girl whose touch kills instantly? Um, yes please. Not only that, but the debut novel promises "superheroes" and unrequited love. I was drawn in automatically and can't wait to read it. 


3. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Grey 




Of course, this one is on the top of every YA 2014 list. I've heard so much about this book that I can't wait to dive into Marguerite Cain's search for Paul Markov. The moment I read the synopsis I was intrigued by the mystery and alternate dimension-hopping action. 


4. Reboot by Amy Tintera 




And this one was one of my YA stocking stuffers. It was a random find, one of those books you happen upon in the store, pick up, and just have to have. I'm thrilled to read it, and am already in love with Wren Connolly, the newly awoken "Reboot" who has to figure out who she really is after death. 


I highly recommend all of these YA books, simply based on their amazing plots and reviews! As I read I'll let you know how they are, although I'm sure all of them will be simply YAmazing! 

Best and happy reading,

-Ashley 

Check out Ashley on social media!



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22. First Page Down Approach

"First Page Down" 

All right everyone, I'm about to share with you a process I like to call the "First Page Down" approach (FPDA). This is where I know from the first page (give or take) of a book if I will be obsessed with it or not- and by obsessed, I mean obsessed. It usually works, and after a few paragraphs in the main character's POV I'm hooked. Here are a few ways the approach works: 

1. No Sleep 



After I read that first page, I know I'm doomed. No sleep for me tonight, I'm going to spend at least eight more hours blowing through the rest of this novel so that I can sleep peacefully knowing that I've exhausted all efforts. Not only that, but I'll spend at least thirty minutes laying awake in bed dreaming up different scenarios for the sequel. Yeah. First Page Down for sure. 

2. I Feel Like I Know the Character



After that first page, I already feel like the main character is a good friend of mine. I'm already in his or her head, and after I've read a page of their innermost thoughts and feelings I get some sort of separation anxiety. It's like I have a Fictional Abandonment Complex, (FAC- more about this coming), and I can't possibly stop reading now. Yep...that's the power of the First Page. 

3. And Finally, the Feels



If the first page of a book makes me laugh, cry, and wonder, all in a few paragraphs, it's got me. All of the feels. There's nothing better than the inner turmoil of a flawed main character with a snippy attitude and a mysterious past. Not to mention if there's any hint of supernatural powers/Greek Mythological secrets/dystopian societies...well, that's a darn good first page. 

Now, granted, getting all of those bullet points on the first page is not exactly easy. I usually extend the FPDA to the first 3-6 pages, give or take. Needless to say, we all know when those first few pages of a good book get us, and the end result is usually the same: little sleep, little food, and numerous fangirl episodes at the end of each chapter. 




Best and happy reading!


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23. Hot New Reads with Ashley!

Hot New Reads with Ashley 

This Week- Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge




Hello all! My name is Ashley- college kid, author's assistant, and professional stunt reader. This week I got a particularly amazing YA read in- Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge! It's a fantastic rendition of Beauty and the Beast that I am absolutely head-over-heels obsessed with. Not only does it take the reader into a whole new realm, it introduces you to a witty, dazzling, and just plain sexy demon lord. Um, yes please. So in short, here are five reasons why I love this book!



1. The Plot is Fascinating


It promises a love story with a killer twist and it delivers! Nyx is a powerful character with a goal that you can get on board with, not to mention her troubled past. The plot is so well done that it works to completely immerse you in the world that Hodge has created, Greek Gods and demons included!

2. The History is 100% Accurate


Hodge has a vast store of mythological knowledge and uses it! From Zeus to Kronos, Pandora to Leda, the book has hundreds of intricate Greek references that are completely correct. It's fascinating to delve into the world of Arcadia, and you even learn a little about the mythology as well. 

3. Nyx isn't Perfect



The lead protagonist, Nyx, is filled with negative thoughts and emotions- and this makes her oh so real! I loved that she was able to feel hate towards others and still make me love her, it felt true and raw, like something you'd encounter in everyday life. In the end, though, Nyx always tries her best to let love into her heart, and that struggle is a relatable one. 

4. Ignifex is... Just so Yummy



It's true. The moment he stepped onto the scene I loved him; the cocky demeanor, witty comebacks, and delightful tension that he brings to the book are all absolutely hilarious. He has a way of putting Nyx in her place and then loving it when she fights back, and it's ridiculously entertaining. 

5. The Little Details


Hodge has a way of weaving little details into the book that work so perfectly together. Everything is explained and comes around full circle, making the reader feel like she was taken on a journey. It's an experience that I'd love to take again and again.

And there it is! A few reasons why Cruel Beauty was one of my favorite reads this week. I highly suggest picking up a copy, especially if you are a fan of plot twists and sarcastic demon lords!

Best and happy reading,

-Ashley 



Check out Ashley on social media! 



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24. Shatter Me Review

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi 




Recently I picked up Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and all I can say is wow. Well done. This book is breathtaking in every way, throughout every chapter. The prose is captivating and reads like poetry in places, and the love triangle is dangerously addictive. So, in honor of this amazing trilogy, here are five things I loved about this debut dystopian novel: 


1. Juliette is so Human 



The main character, Juliette Ferarrs, has the gift of touch. That is, her touch is lethal. As would be expected of anyone who could kill without meaning to, she is terrified of her own power and other people touching her. Wow. The plot in and of itself is fascinating, but to be thrown into the POV of a character who can't be touched? It's heart breaking and intriguing all at the same time, and shows the reader just how human Juliette is (or wants to be). 


2. The Narration is Unique

Image courtesy of: http://www.mysteryscape.com/shatter-me-tahereh-mafi

It really is, because the whole story is narrated by Juliette and she likes to cross out words. In fact, she is obsessed with words, and has a hard time not telling us everything she is thinking, (even if she crosses out her true thought and replaces it, Mafi leaves it with the line through it for us to see). This is so cool, because the reader gets glimpses into Juliette's brain that Juliette doesn't want anyone to see. Or does she? 


3. The Love Triangle. Oh my. 



I love this triangle for many reasons. Warner and Adam are both devastatingly handsome (of course), and equally intriguing. What's best is that Warner is the kind of bad boy Adam looks like, and even though Juliette "hates" him, I have to say he's extremely persuasive. It's hard to know which guy to root for when they're both so equally fantastic...


4. The Prose


The way that Shatter Me is written is truly genius. Mafi's style is truly unique, a blend of poetry and modern prose, that leaves the reader absolutely breathless. She likes to write as if she is in Juliette's mind completely, oftentimes leaving out commas in lists and running her thoughts together. This makes everything so much more believable and urgent, and keeps you wanting to read more. 


5. And, Finally, the Pace

The pace at which the novel reads is wonderful. Every instant I feel as if something dire is about to happen, and Juliette's thoughts and feelings perfectly mirror this anxiety. There is always a sudden twist around every page, and many characters surprise you. It's definitely a roller coaster read!


So there it is! A short review of the book, and a few reasons why you should go grab it up now. It was an amazing read, and I can't wait to pick up Unravel Me and Ignite Me (the sequel and final installment of the trilogy). 




Best and Happy Reading!

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25. Why YA? - with Ashley

Why YA? 

Hello, Ashley here! Today I'm going to focus on YA fiction and why we love it. There are a number of reasons why readers love the Young Adult scene- it's action packed, full of captivating plots, and, of course, the love triangles. Oh the love triangles. No matter what your ship or team, there is always room for more on the YA fan-wagon. So, in honor of this magnificent, fiction-filled world, I want to share with you a few of my reasons for loving Yound Adult fiction: 


1. Dystopian Societies to the Max




It's no secret that us YA fans love our dystopian societies- I mean, come on, futurist worlds ravaged by sections and kids with super powers? Freaking. Awesome. So of course one of my main reasons for loving YA is the fact that you can be transported to literally any world you like, and your imagination can run free in it.


2. The Love Triangles. So Much Yes. 




Every love triangle you could ever want, ever. That's what you get when you hop on the YA fan-wagon. Whether it be Katniss, Gale, and Peeta or Juliette, Adam, and Warner...let's face it, that dangerous triangle is anything but equilateral. And it's the most exciting thing ever.


3. The Covers




Okay, so maybe this is a little superficial (not really), but I absolutely adore YA book covers. They're shiny and brand new and sometimes holographic (oh my gosh the holograms). The best part is when you buy a hardcover copy of a new release and the words are raised from the cover like beautiful little cursive mountains. Essentially, if your bookshelf is a rainbow you're doing YA right. 

4. And, Lastly, the Community



The YA community is absolutely fantastic. Whether you're talking about fellow fans or authors, everyone on the scene is full of creative life and kindness. It's basically like this big cloud of awesome, where everyone is always writing and retweeting your EpicReads book nerd posts. Score.

This link says it all:


So there it is, a few of the reasons I absolutely adore YA fiction and the YA community. Below I've posted a few of my favorite reads for you, so you can see what I fan so hard over!

Best and happy reading,

-Ashley 


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge


Uninvited by Sophie Jordan 


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