a year in books: 2017

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Another year, over! Look at that. Hopefully it was a good one–personally, since 2017 was a trashfire globally.

Personally, I think 2017 was pretty good. I hauled ass to graduate college–I did 5 classes for spring semester, took one summer session class, and completed my final 3 this fall. Last grade I got back was an A- *dusts shoulders* *sleeps for 10 years*

A highlight reel of cool things that happened: escaping the escape room with Brittany and Mith, another summer at the US Open, writing adventures (monsterbook), roaming the village for cute finds with Mith, cheering Katie on at her NY launch for The Girl with the Red Balloon, biking Central Park (ALL 7ISH MILES–yes, I died), biking Stanley Park (all 5ish miles–you can see now why I thought I could do Central Park…) (side note: Central Park has more hills) (who knew), Brittany baking me pie (again :D), going with Jess to see the very first showing of Beauty and the Beast and then taking my parents that night, Anastasia coming to Broadway and Derek Klena’s parody of Part of Your World.

(yes, it’s from 2016, but I watched it A LOT in 2017.)

I also got to intern at St. Martin’s Press and do cool things, and become privy to some cool bookish secrets ๐Ÿ™‚

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[any excuse for Galavant gifs, I use it]

Blah, blah, blah, Mic you wrote some words, did some things, met some new people, saw some new places–where are the books?

I’m getting there.

I also went to Comic Con again. I literally got to squeeze Kristen for like 5 seconds, and then escort her to her panel. And Katie was there and Brittany was there and everything was Wonder Woman, and there was some sort of Walking Dead thing that featured a guy being tortured and screaming every five minutes on the show floor which was 1000% annoying. And we stood in lines and Brittany read the first chapter of monsterbook while we ate ice cream and sat in the corner of the show floor.

comic con

How lucky are we that we get to live in the same timeline as the Wonder Woman movie? ~look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now~

Anyway, to the only topic that matters, BOOKS.


I was right when I said I wouldn’t get near 200 this time (2016, there was something special about you), but I did hit 125. I’m proud of that. My goal for next year is to read roughly the same amount.

Gonna start this one off with REREADS:

-The Scorpio Races. This was a book I read way back when it came out. I had been obsessed with Maggie because of Shiver, and when I read TSR, I don’t know what it was, but I just didn’t love it. It felt slow and overwritten and confusing to me. But so many people love it, and the premise is a Mickey!book, so I decided to give it a try this year in November and everything clicked. 6 years later I’m a bit more of a mature reader, ha, and I completely devoured it. Fell in love, and it’ll be one of my forever favorites now.

-Lola and the Boy Next Door. What a perfect delight! This was another one I didn’t totally love when it came out. Age also probably helped because I totally got Lola in a way I didn’t five years ago. And Cricket Bell is such a gem of a person.

-Bone Gap. I thought I’d be using this book for a term paper on disability, but I ended up scrapping that plan. Either way, I’m glad I got to reread this since I adore the characters so much. Sean and Petey and Finn and Roza are such a special bunch—but especially Roza and Petey because Bone Gap is really about the women at its heart โค

-Harry Potter 1-4. So I totally failed at doing a full-scale Potter reread over the summer. But it was great to revisit the characters and the world.ย Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. I’m not crying, you are. Side note: why is Prisoner of Azakaban so good??? Why does it ruin me every single time? I DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS.

-Lady Midnight. I did this one before I read Lord of Shadows, which was an A+ decision. It just reminded me how much I love the Blackthorns. And these are giant tomes with lots of plot, so I kinda needed the refresher. Not sure if I’ll do another reread before Queen of Air and Darkness next winter. We’ll see.

-Open Road Summer. The Fill-In Boyfriend. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Just some super cute contemporary I’ll always love โค

-A Court of Wings and Ruin. So when the third ACoTaR book came out, I devoured it, and then promptly reread A Court of Thorns and Roses, Mist and Fury,ย and then ACoWaRย again. I don’t care. It had to be done. (It also really helped lessen the book hangover.) *anxiously waits for any bit of news about what the next novels are about* *NessianNessianNessian*

-A Darker Shade of Magic & A Gathering of Shadows. So just like Lady Midnight–and unlike ACoTaR–I reread these before the final book, A Conjuring of Light, came out. Very glad I did. Once again, needed the plot refresher and I love these characters and world so much. I wasn’t the hugest fan of AGoS when it came out since I found it slow and filler-y. But this time I was prepared for the pace and really just sunk into every word. Adore this trilogy!

So yes, those were most of the rereads I did this year (the standouts :D)! Very much enjoyed myself. Rereading is a true pleasure.

I looked over last year’s post, and I had a section for WHY DIDN’T I READ THIS SOONER, which is basically backlist books I finally read. I think this year the title goes to two individuals… firstly, Anna-Marie McLemore!

I fell head first into The Weight of Feathers and Wild Beauty. I haven’t yet read her sophomore outing When the Moon Was Ours… I’m saving it for a rainy day. I got too lost in the language when I read TWoF in 2015, but again, just a case of being older and a better reader. I love how she builds worlds out of words. Seriously, Ms. McLemore, please save some talent for the rest of us. And she’s not just telling me a story, either, but she’s showing me something about society.

Magical realism is a genre most people don’t understand, something that’s hard to explain, but it’s not just simply ‘where magic is part of the fabric of the world in subtle ways and unquestioned.’ It’s about resistance and oppression and the past and the future. I never got it before, and McLemore is a master.

Then, I’m sharing this honor with Mistress Holly Black. Holly is someone whose Curseworker series first book I read way back in the day. I wasn’t a fan, but a lot of other great people are. (I wonder if I’ll be one if I reread in 2018… :D). I ended up with an arc of The Cruel Prince from Bookcon, though, and I started reading it on a whim. It totally grabbed me from the first page. Since then, I’ve read The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Once again, I’m drawn to Holly because of her amazing writing. I got to see her at the Brooklyn Book Fest this year, and she legit said she builds her plots around a feeling she wants to evoke in the reader. Who does that? I am drowning in the sea of otherworldly magic that is Holly Black.ย She completely reinvents what you thought you knew about faeries or vampires. They’re not gorgeous humans with super strength, or humans that are super witty, but this new different creature that’s legit dangerous. So don’t mind me sitting here anxiously waiting for 2019 so I can read the second book in The Cruel Prince trilogy.

Mmmm, so now let’s break this down by genre, right?
[Last year I did have a separate section for 2017 releases, but meh, I can’t be bothered to do that again, so sorrynotsorry there’s some 2018s in this round up ๐Ÿ˜‰ #tease]

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2017 Contemporary Love

2017 Fantasy Love

2017 Historical Love

Here we go! My top books of the year… very much anticipating 2018 and all the wonders it’ll bring.

Hope you’re having a lovely holiday, and you can look back fondly amongst all the dystopian mess that’s taken place. And if you can’t, hopefully 2018 makes up for it. The bar is literally so low. Making it this far is an accomplishment in and of itself, so be kind to yourselves โค

Mic.

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Send me your YA: Pitch Wars 2017 Mentor Wish List

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AHHH IT’S PITCH WARS TIME.

*waves furiously*

[what my feels are doing right now:]

(nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

I’m looking for YA contemporary, fantasy, historicals, and historical fantasy! More details on that below. Feel free to skip around–read the wish list first, come back to the bio, whatever you want. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can get all the info about Pitch Wars here.

Stuff About Me

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I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015, so I’ve been where you are right now. I’m so excited to be mentoring this year, and I can’t wait to find a story I love. I work in a library, and this fall I’ll be graduating with an English major and History minor.

Besides Pitch Wars, I’ve been an agent intern since 2014, so I’ve read a lot

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Cursed Child Midnight Release Party

of queries, sample pages, and manuscripts. I’m repped by Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency.

I was born, raised, and live in Brooklyn, NY! My parents are both immigrants. My mom came from the Philippines after graduating college, while my dad came here from Italy when he was seventeen. I’m a first generation American, and have been to both their home countries since it was really important to them that I know where they come from and where I come from. (I’ve also been to France, Spain, England, Canada–I loooove traveling!!)

Music wise, I listen to lots of Broadway, but you can always count on Florence and the Machine, The Killers, Twenty-One Pilots, and Arctic Monkeys to be nearby. Also movie/tv scores and Disney songs.

Fun Facts

  • I used to be a writer for the Vampire Academy fan site ShadowKissed.net. (Any VA fans here? :D)
  • 20141215_173718
    MY CAT

    I have the same birthday as Emma Watson (April 15 babies!)

  • I started writing because I read a High School Musical fanfic where Gabriella went to West High and Troy went to East High and there was a super intense, dangerous rivalry between the schools. I read it, loved it, thought “I can do this too!” so I did, and man I was bad. But I kept trying (with Draco/Hermione fanfic, obviously)
  • I saw Hamilton with the Original Broadway Cast ๐Ÿ˜€
  • I made it out of an Escape Room, so I’m clearly a time traveler from a Victorian mystery.
  • My latest writing fuel is an Earl Grey Latte.

Wish List (General)
All right, now for the fun stuff!! I’m only accepting YA manuscripts. I eat, sleep, and breathe YA. I read it primarily and completely adore it.

  • big yes to: contemporary, fantasy, historical fantasy, historicals
  • big no to: horror, gritty contemporary, thrillers, sci-fi, magical realism
    (i love a lot of these, i just don’t think i’ll be a good mentor for it–sorry!!)

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Some blanket statements before I get to specifics: I’m a supporter of Own Voices projects! I want diverse characters, intersecting identities, and new perspectives.

If you’re writing outside your lane you must be open to feedback and have sensitivity readers. Be critical of yourself and your work. Think about why you’re writing this story and if you’re the best person to do it. **However, I do not want identity stories the creator does not ID as (think a story based around coming out written by a straight person, etc).

Here’s how I organized this monster. First there’s a list of tropes/premises/settings I love. Then there’s a list of tropes/~things~ I do not want. After that, I broke it down by genre (fantasy, historical fantasy, and contemporary). Each section shows you my favorite authors, books, and some more specific wants within the genre. All right, time to get to it!

Wish List (Specifics)
Here are some things, in any genre, I’d go to war for:

  • Write your resistance.
  • Girls helping girls! Girls being friends with other girls! Girls loving girls! Girls charging forward in the face of adversity! Girls smashing the patriarchy! Girls kicking ass! Smart girls! Weird girls! STEM girls! Nerdy girls! Lost girls! Bad girls! Quiet girls! Strong girls! Periods, sex, masturbation! Girls who may not want to have sex and are totally fine with that! Girls who do whatever the hell they want.
  • Basically, girls as the stars of your projects. That’s all I need.
  • An Anastasia retelling
  • Any feminist re-imagining of a fairy tale or myth
  • Watery books! Mermaids, pirates, sirens, sea monsters, privateers, islands, sailing, ships, cruises, swimming, marine biologists, a Jaws retelling with a female lead, scuba diving, coral reefs, did I mention mermaids…
  • little mermaid dramatic entry 10 points copy
  • I love summer camp settings!
  • Also love famous person meets normal person. Sweep me off my feet! (royalty x normal counts, too)
  • Morally questionable decisions
  • Secret pen pal relationships, bonus points when they hate each other in real life (think the modern classic A Cinderella Story and You’ve Got Mail; loved Alex, Approximately) (this totally works in a fantasy, too–imagine if Draco and Hermione/Harry were writing to each other in secret throughout their years at Hogwarts and had no clue?? gah!)
  • Honest, nuanced portrayals of trauma (pleasepleasePLEASE)
  • A brutal, bitter slow burn romance that has me dying and fanning myself every line ย (think The Dark Days Club, Captive Prince, Captain Swan from Once Upon a Time, Stydia from Teen Wolf, Feysand and Nessian from ACoMaF). Burn me with that slow burn.
  • just kiss
  • An Amazing Race premise (think Alison’s Cherry For Real) (seriously, my dream is to host The Amazing Race, please call me Phil)
  • Stories set during lesser known historical periods/events
  • Girl anthropologist/paleontologist; Gender bent Indiana Jones or Rick from The Mummy
  • Boarding school books. Whether light or slightly more serious. This also works for fantasy, I mean,ย HOGWARTS.
  • A Shakespeare retelling that includes characters from multiple plays instead of a retelling of just R+J or Midsummer, for example

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I eat comps for lunch! If you can comp anything to… Six of Crows (!!!), Jane the Virgin, Once Upon a Time, Jurassic Park, Hamilton, 10 Things I Hate About You, Inception, Gilmore Girls, Legally Blonde, The Mummy (Rick/Evie OTP for life), Avatar The Last Airbender, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sense 8, Roman Holiday, Wonder Woman (!!!), Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, Bend it Like Beckham… send it to me!

Some things I do not like (ie do not send me):

  • The memory loss trope, or amnesia. I really don’t like it, especially when it’s a plot device to keep the ship apart (looking at you The Winner’s Kiss…)
  • Horror.
  • Slut shaming
  • An identity driven book you do not identify as
  • MCs that don’t sound their age. I really don’t like when a character is supposed to be 17 but sounds 14.
  • Sexual assault as a trope for the love interest to save the woman from, or poor representations of the aftermath. Also, I’d love to not read any attempted sexual assaults to establish A Strong Female Character.

What I Love in Fantasy
favorite authors: Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor
favorite books: Six of Crows, Strange the Dreamer, Rebel of the Sands, A Crown of Wishes, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Forbidden Wish, Shades of Magic Trilogy, The Winner’s Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, Stardust, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, The Glass Spare, Carry On, Song of the Current, Truthwitch

  • fresh, unique worlds and characters
  • meaty lady anti-heroines (think The Young Elites trilogy, my bae Maleficent, And I Darken, Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy (she is the BEST), Azula and her mommy issues from ATLA (okay she’s not really an anti-heroine but she’s dark and messy and I love her)).
  • Calculating, manipulative, and intelligent characters (think my love Kez Brekker, Three Dark Crowns, Tommy Shelby Peaky Blinders season 1)–bonus points if they’re girls ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • ย Political fantasies that blend beautiful writing, rich complex characters, and important themes with action, too (think The Winner’s Trilogy, This Savage Song, The Hunger Games, Wolf by Wolf, Traitor to the Throne)
  • dragons, mermaids, witches, powers, all the stuff!
  • water tribe atla
  • I don’t need magic in my fantasy!! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • team dynamics, like the ultimate squad The Dregs, or lighter, shenanigans of the Tulio/Miguel or Heist Society kind.
  • Mistaken identity–whether intentional or serendipitous (again, think Tulio and Miguel stumbling into playing gods for light, and Laia going undercover as a spy in An Ember in the Ashes, Yael as Adele in Wolf by Wolf for darker)
  • Hate to love. I love ships that are on opposite sides (think rip Zutara), or not as dramatic and just “good” person falls for “bad” person (think Captain Swan, Rhy/Alucard, Cress/Thorne)
  • And as if you still didn’t get it: watery books! Mermaids, pirates, sirens, sea monsters, privateers, islands, did I mention mermaids…

What I Love in Historical Fantasy
favorite authors: Mackenzie Lee
favorite books: Wolf by Wolf, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, The Dark Days Club, My Lady Jane, The Girl with the Red Balloon

  • Extra points for diversity! “historical accuracy” is not a valid excuse. it is bogus and false and I have 0 tolerance for it.
  • Looking at my list of faves, I have a healthy mix of fun, sassy books and serious, deep books, so I really love both, it just all comes down to execution.
  • I actually super love this genre and feel like its super underrated, so please send me your stuff โค SUPER SUPER
  • an American Revolution fantasy (I can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet and if it has, someone please point me towards it)
  • SURPRISE ME. Seriously!
  • Agent Carter deserved everything! So literally, anything along those lines.
  • Claire Beauchamp-Randall-Fraser is one of my fave female characters, so if you love Claire too, we’ll probably be good friends
  • I’m a Doctor Who fan, though I quit watching during season 7 or 8 (I think). One of my favorites was the Van Gogh episode, so think bittersweet and heartfelt stuff. I like pain, okay? But I also like cute happy endings where everyone lives, so basically I am the worst and there is no pleasing me cause I love all the things.
  • just this once everybody lives doctor who 9

What about straight up historicals, you ask? Give me complex women in textured settings. I don’t have any specific wants; I devour all things history. The first historical I read was The Rossetti Letter, which is adult, but I have a deep and abiding love for it. Recently, a YA historical I loved was Blackhearts and Under a Painted Sky.

What I Love in Contemporary
favorite author: Emery Lord
favorite books: Fangirl, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, The Truth About Forever, All the Rage, Everything Leads to You, Heist Society, Girl Against the Universe, The Moon and More, The Sun is Also a Star, The Secret of a Heart Note, Nothing Left to Burn, Eliza and Her Monsters, The Unexpected Everything, The Upside of Unrequited, Alex, Approximately

  • swoony boys, sex positivity, body positivity, sister feels, settings (small towns, beach towns, cities, boarding schools, house boats, trips abroad, etc) that come alive and make me wanna go there, fandom, friendship feels, fun hobbies
  • take me on an emotional journey. smack me with your characters’ feelings, whether it be the excitement of love, grief, heartache, anxiety… I want to feel something when I read your book.
  • i want a unicorn
  • YA parents. There are so many good ones (think Starr’s in The Hate U Give, Sloane’s in This Adventure Ends (her dad writes Teen Wolf fanfic!), Simon’s in Simon VS), but there need to be more so give it to me!
  • As you know, I adore hate to love, but there’s something especially fun about it in contemporaries, especially when the characters are forced together, whether it be through a job, friends, or shenanigans.
  • Adorable little siblings and fun huge families (think My Life Next Door, Lady Midnight (I know, it’s fantasy, but the Blackthorns are precious), When We Collided, P.S. I Like You)
  • Voice is key for me. I want your characters to leap off the page. I want to know how they think and what they love and what they want.
  • Let me remind you again, watery books ๐Ÿ™‚
  • This is by no means an exhaustive list–I actually found it really hard to narrow down what makes a contemporary for me and I’m sure I’m missing stuff–so please, if you feel like your story is similar to any of the books I’ve listed here, then please sub to me!

Why Me?
I’m good at queries. I love queries. Hate ’em? I’m here for you, mentee!
I’m good at big picture edits and spotting plot holes.
I read for character and detail, so I pay special attention to stuff like that.
I don’t dole out fake compliments. When I love something, I will fangirl over it and you’ll know I mean it. I’m also direct and honest when I think something isn’t working, but I’ll never force you to change something you don’t want. This is your story, and I’m only here to help. I ask questions and provide suggestions, and I’m always around to talk through something/let you ramble and brainstorm.
I care a lot about your characters having agency and being drivers of the story.
I think my strongest suit when it comes to writing is voice, so if you’re struggling with it, or lacking in places, I’ll help make your voice stand out and command attention.
It’s possible I will use some aspect of The Hunger Games to contextualize a point I’m trying to make.

  • Don’t forget to pick up your scavenger hunt word while you’re here: go. (note the punctuation)

What I Want in a Mentee
Someone open-minded and ready to do the work. I’m not saying I’m gonna make you do an entire rewrite–I have no idea what kind of shape your ms will be in. But it’s always a possibility! Mainly though, someone fun and positive and looking to gain the community Pitch Wars has to offer. I want PW to be an experience you look back on and are happy about.

**noteynote: If I request from you, I’ll be asking for a 1 page synopsis. This is my favorite resource–just follow the template and you’ll be fine. From the synopsis I want to know you at least have the bare bones of your story in place. I might ask for partials, but I’ll definitely be asking for fulls, so have them ready ๐Ÿ™‚

And don’t worry, I’ll read sample pages even if your query isn’t as strong. I’ll probably only skim the query to begin and get right to the pages.

–I will try to provide feedback to everyone who submits to me, but it depends on how many subs I get. I’ll update on that during the submission window. *thumbs up*

My plan is to do a big picture edit letter and then a second round of line edits.

I hope this wasn’t overwhelming! I know I threw a lot of things here, but that’s mainly because my taste is very varied and I don’t want to accidentally miss out on something I love. Feel free to drop any comments or questions below, or reach out to me on Twitter. If you’re unsure if I’d like something, just ask me.

I’ll try to sum up: YA contemporary, fantasy, historical fantasy–anything but horror, mainly. Feminist stories, with feminist characters (both male and female! :D), voice, and emotion. Smack me in the face with heart and adventure.

~~

Go here to check out the full mentor blog hop! (but remember to sub to me <3)

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