Tag Archives: YA

My Top YA Reads of 2013

Nothing says late December like “of the Year” lists.  I thought I’d join in with my top 5 YA reads this year.  These weren’t necessarily published this year (some were, some weren’t), but they were read by me this year.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

5.  Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George.  This is an adaptation of East of the Sun and West of the Moon and is a sweet retelling.

Mind Games

4.  Mind Games by Kiersten White.   This is an “edgy” psychological thriller.  Honestly, I’d read so much about how edgy/psychological it was that I was expecting it to be quite a bit darker than it is.  Maybe I’ve just got too dark of an imagination already 😉  It is definitely a solidly written and compelling story.

Of Beast and Beauty

3.  Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay.  A dystopian/futuristic/fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast that’s imaginative and well written.  This has made it onto my list of favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings.


2.  Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  I really liked Cinder by Meyer, but I enjoyed Scarlet even more.  Meyer has a way of creating a well-constructed world that only uses snippets of the fairy tale she’s retelling (in this case Little Red Riding) that still manages to satisfy the fair tale craving.

The False Prince

1.  The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is far and away the best book I read this year (it’s sequel is almost as good and should probably share the top spot).  The narration in this book is fantastic.  Nielsen writes a believable teen boy in first person and manages to keep the reader on the edge of their seat through the entire book. I devoured this novel.  Thanks to Nancy Kelley for recommending it!


Drawn by Cecilia Gray

This book is on my To Be Read List and I’m super excited for it!  I know Cecilia through Indie Jane, she writes awesome YA Austen adaptations as well as Regency romance.  I can’t wait to read her latest release, Drawn, which is a YA genre-bender.




A wholly original tale of friendship and betrayal through the eyes – and lies – of one extraordinary girl.

Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?

Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.

To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets.


You can snag a copy of Drawn on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.  You can also add it to your Goodreads Want to Read shelf here.

Ethics of Setting a YA in a Real Life Small City

I live in Helena, Montana.  This is a relatively new development.  We moved here about two years ago from the Los Angeles area and it is very, very different.  Not necessarily different bad or good, just different.  Well, there are some things I miss, like really good ethnic food (I dream about it at night, people), and my Grammy and friends.  And there are some things that are fascinating and great, like seeing deer walking down your street or looking in your window.  But it is certainly different.

Even though it is the capitol of Montana, its still a pretty small city. We have two high schools, two Starbucks, and two McDonald’s – this is what makes us a major city and not a town, I guess (I’m making that up, I have no idea what qualifies anywhere to be considered a city).

A few months ago I had this really odd dream in which I clearly saw about 2/3 of the story idea for a YA paranormal romance.  This is different for me because I don’t consider paranormal or ghost stories my forte, but I saw it so clearly – even down to the main character’s name and the first line of the book.  And it has stuck with me.

The Helena Cathedral in the Snow
The Helena Cathedral in the Snow

So as I thought through the storyline and what I’d like to do with the project that has literally just fallen into my subconscious, I decided Helena would be the perfect setting for it.  However, this leaves me with some issues.  I usually set my novels in Los Angeles, which is HUGE and I can make stuff up like names of high schools or food joints, etc.  That is harder to do when you’re working with a real life small city…and I hate reading books set places where things DO NOT MAKE SENSE to that location.  My biggest pet peeve is when novelists set stories in L.A. but get things like freeways wrong or say that In-N-Out Burgers come with ketchup (they do not).

So I want to be true to the city – I’m setting the story here for a reason.  On the other hand, I don’t want anyone to be offended if I talk about mean girls that go to Helena High or any number of plot points which I am MAKING UP INSIDE MY HEAD. I don’t know if mean girls go to Helena High and I don’t really care – I’ve asked around and gotten a general lay out of the major student types – but that’s all sort of vague framework.  So, do I use Helena High and just stress that everything is purely fictional (and really, how many people in Helena will likely read this YA paranormal?) or do I risk authenticity and name the rival schools something different than Helena and Capitol?

Do you have any thoughts about books set in real places? I’d love to hear your tips on keeping authenticity while protecting the innocent!

Summer of Fairy Tales

Summer is here. Or that’s what the tell me.  So far it has consisted of cold rain storm after cold rain storm for us.  And hail.  And a few rainbows thrown in so we don’t go completely mad.  I am dying for some warm weather!

And this is the last week of June! Nobody panic!  Okay, I am panicking a little bit (just a teeny tiny bit) because I had set June 30th as my goal date for Atone.  I knew at the time that I set it that it was a little unrealistic and life conspired against me in the form of having a medical issue that laid me up for almost 5 weeks.  This definitely put a damper on my schedule.  I am pleased to report, however, that Atone is with my editor.

This means we are really in the final, final stages of getting Atone out.  However, it also means that the release date might be pushed back a few weeks.  I want to make sure to get the best possible product out!

And now for some more fairy tale news!  Hopefully news that’s more fun than “you have to wait longer.”  I’m working on my second collection of fairy tale short stories called Glimpses of Enchantment.  I hope to have it out to you in August.  The best part? The cover is already done!  You may remember that originally Views from the Tower was going to be Glimpses, but halfway through I changed direction and ended up with a collection that needed a different perspective and title.  I’ve been working on a grouping of shorts that really fit the thematic ideas I envision for the title and cover of Glimpses, so I’m excited to get to use this cover!  Here it is in all its gorgeousness:


I’m excited! I can’t wait to share these new perspectives on fairy tales with you!


How are we more than halfway through June already?! We’ve got TWO birthdays in my family in the next week or so, exciting times!  Here are this week’s book recommendations:

Mind Games

1. Mind Games by Kiersten White

Wrong Woman

2.  The Wrong Woman by Kimberly Truesdale

Seventh Blessing

3.  The Seventh Blessing by Melissa Buell

Ten Things

4.  Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Twelfth Night

5. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Hands down my favorite of the comedies (and favorite over all play too!)


This Week in Book Recs

We’ve been having thunderstorms with lots of rain (and hail!) all week – perfect reading weather! Here are this week’s recommendations.

The Hobbit

1.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  You honestly can’t go wrong with this book.  It’s fun and funny and full of adventure.  Plus Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be voicing Smaug in the movie. #win

Fairy Bad Day

2.  Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby is a quick and enjoyable YA read.  Loved the world building here.

Nine Coaches Waiting

3.  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart.  Classic Mary Stewart.  If you see a book by Mary Stewart you should read it…honestly, ANY of her books.  I love this one a lot though…it’s my second favorite of hers (after This Rough Magic which I recommended a few weeks ago).  I’ve read this one at least 15 times and could read it twice that and still want to read it again.

My Particular Friend

4. My Particular Friend by Jennifer Petkus is a well-written and engrossing Austen (well, really more Regency) and Sherlock mash up.  Plus…I share a maiden last name with the main character. Yeah, baby!


5.  Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  This is the second in the Lunar Chronicles a space opera/dystopian/fairy tale series… I recommended Cinder a few weeks ago and I enjoyed Scarlet even more than I liked Cinder.

What are you reading this week?


The first week of June Book Recs!  Here’s what I recommended on Twitter and Facebook this week (I even read two of these this week!)


1.  Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I finally read this book after having wanted to for years.  I shouldn’t have waited.  You also should not wait if you haven’t read it.  Go get it now!  The Kindle edition is $5.  Steal.

Trophy Husband

2. Trophy Husband by Lauren Blakely

This was super fun, sexy, and proof that geeks can be hot (I think I was already firmly in that camp, but I like to read other authors who agree with me!)  This is definitely not YA there’s quite a bit of (well written) sexy times happening.

Spindle's End

3.  Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

Quite possibly my second favorite McKinley of all time and my top favorite Sleeping Beauty retelling (I can’t count my own because that would be awkward).  I feel McKinley is at her best here with how she writes magic. Love it.

The Big Sleep

4.  The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

In Attempting Elizabeth I have Kelsey talk about her undergrad thesis being on this book…spoiler alert! So was mine!  Well, it wasn’t the thesis for my “capstone class” ’cause that was a super lame paper about how I grew as a student, but my manifesto on the Big Sleep was for a huge class in my senior year and got me into grad school (and then I NEVER WENT)…all of this sounds really boring.  This book is not boring.  This book is awesome.  I love it.  The rain in Awake: A Fairytale was my homage to this book.


5.  Changelings & Other Stories by Leah Cypess

This is a really entertaining, thought-provoking, solid collection of fantasy based short stories.  They’re all quite good.  They all leave you wanting more.

What are you reading this weekend?