Surprise—I went to BookCon!

I am seriously still just as surprised as the title of this post. Going to BookCon was such a impulsive last minute decision, but I am IMMENSELY glad that I hopped on a plane yet again to attend another bookish event with my CPs! However, to make peace with the impulsiveness of going on yet another trip, I told myself that it was time to Get. Down. To. Business. Mulan-style, of course. And soooo, before all the BookCon fun, here are some other things that have been happening!

WRITING UPDATES:

I FINISHED REWRITING MY NEW MIDDLE PORTION!! *confetti on confetti on confetti*

One of the biggest challenges I’m tackling in this first round of revisions is to basically give my Act 2 for Pirate Fantasy an extreme makeover. I knew it, my main character knew it, everyone knew it. Rather than try to work around the bits that weren’t flowing in attempts to salvage them, I decided to scrap my whole middle portion and start from the ground up. Yup. 30k of words I’d painfully hacked at for months until I had no clue what else to do with them—gone.

Instead of mourning the purge of all that progress, I felt so unbelievably good about it. For a time I thought I must’ve been in some crazy-writer-shock to have gleefully deleted chapter upon chapter, but I wasn’t. That’s how you know you’ve got dead weight in your hands—when you realize that you can live without it, that you don’t need it, and that you can do much better. I’m not going to say it was easy-peasy rebuilding those foundations all over again—but this time around, it definitely felt much more fun and just right-er, if that makes sense. After two weeks of brainstorming and rediscovering the beats of that act, and then a little over a month of drafting and revision tweaks in between, I finally have about 37k of brand new material that I’m deliriously excited to start fine-tuning. The words are nowhere near perfect, but they are written and ready to be molded into something great.

NEWS:

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Sooooo remember that panel I’ll be on at Leviosa Con this July? Turns out I’m now speaking at two, and the best surprise of all is that I’ll be accompanied on both by my all around awesome Pitch Wars co-mentor and friend Axie Oh! For anyone attending, we’ll both be on Diversity in YA Lit and Adults Reading YA trying not to be too weird  🙂

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In other news, the Boston Teen Author Festival announced their amazing line up earlier this month, and I’m literally bouncing with excitement at the thought of all the incredible authors attending! As it’s the five year anniversary of the festival, you know it’s going to be one heck of a party. We’re already gearing up for some fun social media happenings this summer that will include a #BTAFbookchallenge on Instagram and a fab five-answer questionnaire on Twitter under the #BTAFive hashtag. Our authors will be participating, so we hope everyone can follow along and join in, too!!

BOOKCON:

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So during my stay Chicago, I FINALLY hit my revision milestone (in the creative atmosphere of a brewery lol) just in time for BookCon! I stayed with my absolute favorites Maddy and Erin, and when we weren’t on work dates trying to squeeze some writing in, we indulged in allllll the bookish fun at BookCon with our other favorites Kat and Meg!

We had an early start, and quickly realized when we arrived at BookCon that “early” wasn’t early enough. Crowds of people were ALREADY lined up well across the whole building just to get into the show floor when we arrived. Luckily, we were able to snag spots in line for Naomi Novik’s signing line after so many author slots had already filled up from the overcrowded pandemonium. But even without those sacred wristbands to gain you a signing spot, there were SO many other opportunities to grab books and enjoy more author signings popping up at every publishing house booth all throughout the day.

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The line to get INSIDE (but at least there were pretty book banners along the way!)

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People! So many people!

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The sacred show floor

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Sacred show floor + Erin’s face

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Panel with Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Laini Taylor—and one HILARIOUS moderator, Jeff Giles

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Got to meet yet another one of my fab agent sisters, Wendy Spinale!

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Grabbed some pretty sweet Everland swag as well. Seriously, how cool are these wings!??

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Got to chat with the lovely Susan Dennard . . . until paparazzi descended on us from all sides

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Scholastic booth had a super rad coloring wall with all the Harry Potter things

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Books on books on books

The rest of BookCon in general was just chaos . . . in a good way! It was a day filled with walking by booths with familiar/highly-anticipated titles displayed like movie poster billboards, bumping into so many cool authors and trying not to freak out in their faces, and getting to attend some really awesome panels. I know I’m totally not alone in this, but my FAVORITE panel by far was the WNDB Presents: Love & Loss in Children’s Literature panel which featured Jenny Han, Gene Luen Yang, Francisco X. Stork, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sherman Alexie, and Leigh Bardugo, and was moderated by Dhonielle Clayton! I was seriously just nodding my head the whole time and was so speechless by what each speaker had to say. Their stories and experiences of love and loss were so powerful and different from each other, but all equally added such enormous meaning to the discussion. All of the anecdotes shared were funny, heartbreaking, and truly informed the reader where each author was coming from in terms of reflecting the topics in their own stories and characters. Seriously, it was SUCH a fantastic panel, and I hope to attend more just like it!

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The awesome panel that was just way too awesome

Aside from waiting to get into panels, there was a lot of waiting in lines to get books. I’m so glad I wore something comfortable because we were on our feet pretty much the entire day—whether it was rushing to get somewhere, or standing to wait for something. By the end of BookCon, I felt super victorious from all the things we accomplished and all the people we met—but that moment of victory faded when we had to rush out of Chicago to make it to ANOTHER book event!

Yup, right after BookCon, Maddy, Erin, and I went straight to Anderson’s Book Shop for Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury signing! And just when you thought we hadn’t waited nearly enough that whole day, we were DEAD LAST in line for the signing. But when fun CP shenanigans ensue, time always passes faster, so Maddy, Erin, and I were not complaining. We were just dead tired. Sarah had also just come back from a full day at BookCon, so we all seemed to just bask in the same exhausted glory by the time we reached the signing table.

As this was the first time I met Sarah, I’m so glad I held it in together enough to coherently tell her how her journey to publication had basically kept me writing and motivated throughout college, and how I’ve progressed in my own writing journey since then. She was SO excited, lovely, and offered me the greatest insights on the agent revision stage and submission process she herself went through so that I could feel prepared. In all honesty, College Freshman Janella would seriously not believe me if I went back in time and told her to anticipate this kind of conversation with one of the authors whose writing journey constantly reminded her that dreams of writing and publication are never impossible if you have the passion and the drive.

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Aforementioned fun CP shenanigans

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Sarah’s signing! Credit: Side Camera Erin

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Of course, HAD to get a pic with her (last in line privileges, woot woot)

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My overall haul 😀

So altogether, a PACKED day of bookish fun. Even though I’m back home and have forced myself not to travel anywhere far again in the near future aside from Leviosa Con, there are a few faces I’m going to miss . . .

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ALL HAIL LADY ELIZABETH

JUST KIDDING, though I do miss Maddy’s cat begging for head scratches and attention. No, this is definitely what I’m going to miss the most . . .

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Okayyyy, maybe I WILL actually miss these things. The wine, and the blessed taproom that strangely became one of the best places to write in. But no, I guess of all things, I’m going to (and already do) miss hanging with these crazies:

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So now after all the fun, it’s BACK. TO. WORK. FOR REALS, THIS TIME. Hold me accountable, Internet friends. I’m diving into the revisions cave (a.k.a. the Point of No Return) where I hope to make sense of what I’ve written, and continue to gloriously chip away at the story that’s more or less consumed my life. Good luck to everyone else who’s braving writing and revising land along with me!  ❤

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ALA Midwinter Mayhem

Happy Friday, y’all! Before I’m heading off to Long Island to celebrate the long weekend with family, I thought it would be a great time to write up a post on my whereabouts last weekend: the Midwinter ALA Conference in Boston!

And let me tell you, the whole event was TOTALLY crazy-sauce, as well as crazy-amazing. Huge thanks to Erin for giving me that extra push to go because the bookish chaos that ensued (all three days of it) was completely worth it!

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I don’t even know where to start, other than saying how gloriously huge ALA is. I call it the Comic Con of the publishing industry, and that is seriously no exaggeration. In the huge playground that is the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, there were booths set up all over the floor by exhibitors ranging from software companies to publishing houses. The publishers were definitely hard to miss since they were the ones just flooding with eager readers armed with totes and had books practically spilling out of their booths. Heaven, right?

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This was just one section of the floor. ONE SECTION.

Having purchased an Exhibits Only pass, I was able to roam around the floor for three days of just nonstop book-grabbing and swag-taking. And because a lot of other people in attendance purchased passes for the exact same privilege, it’s no surprise that grabbing the latest ARCs off publishers’ tables soon became akin to savagely grabbing supplies from the cornucopia in The Hunger Games. Most times, it felt like do or die, and soooo many people who were likely ALA veterans came in more far more prepared than I was. One day, I thought one tote bag would be enough. Ha.

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pretty wall of ARCs at the HarperCollins station

Even though I usually arrived at the center in the early afternoon-ish times of the days, I was still able to snag a TON of stuff and see so many things from signings to panels to authors running around the exhibit floor just as crazy-exited as the rest of the attendees were. I was super thrilled to be able to fall into the book signing lines of Adam Silvera, Emily Skrutskie, and Marieke Nijkamp. When I was chilling by the Macmillan booth on Day 1, I was also fortunate enough to bump into Roshani Chokshi, debut author of 2016 buzz book The Star-Touched Queen who is coincidentally also CPs with my favorite Aussie Ella. She’s also overall just a super wonderful human being, and immediately knew right off the bat that I was Filipino (though let’s be real, Filipinos can spot other Filipinos a mile away. It’s a gift.).

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Day 2, I was also able to sit in on her panel that showcased some other pretty awesome 2016 Debut Authors in YA—all of which was wicked hilarious, but also very insightful and inspiring to all of the aspiring writers in the audience. Aside from interesting fun facts about the authors, it was so cool to hear about the stories behind the stories they had written. Attending panels like these really enforces how wonderfully different the storytelling process is for every writer. Some writers will write the stories they feel compelled to write because of questions or curiosities they seek to answer. Some have stories that have been lingering inside them for so long that they are now the backbones of the novels they want to write. Overall, though, writers will champion the stories that need the voice only they feel that they can provide. No trend-chasing or jumping on genre-bandwagons, just good ol’ story-making with the story of your heart ❤

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The super awesome panel, moderated by MarcyKate Connolly. Panelists included Dana Elmendorf, Emily Martin, Elizabeth Briggs, and Roshani Chokshi!

And then after the panel, like a Christmas miracle, they were giving away swag and ARCs of The Star-Touched Queen followed by a signing with Roshani! Given how disappointed I was in not being able to snag a copy the day before, it’s a bit of an understatement to say how excited I was to finally get my hands on this beauty.

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*cue angelic chorus and heavenly rays of light*

In the end, I think one of the most rewarding things about acquiring this ARC was turning to the acknowledgements. When I pick up books, I ALWAYS turn to the dedications and acknowledgements because for me, I just love knowing who the authors have to thank in the creation of their book. Writing can be viewed as such a solitary activity, but these pages really shine light on the huge cavalry of friends, family, agents, publishers, CPs, influences, and other helpful human beings behind the writer. And to find Ella’s name printed here for all the world to see was so freaking EXCITING. Is it weird to say that whenever I see this, I just get overcome with giddiness and hyper-eager “I know her! I know her!” thoughts? I can’t help it. If you’ve made it into the acknowledgements, you are pretty much already a star in my eyes. 😀

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still freaking out!!

So after days of going into the center, I was able to accumulate QUITE a hefty amount of books (and I still have the sore shoulders to prove it). Not only was I lucky enough to grab some amazing ARCs, but I was also able to grab books already in print either for free or for ridiculously cheap prices. On the last day especially, when all of the booths were packing up and trying to clean out all of their display cases, let’s just say I went a little purchase-crazy with all the wild discounts going on.

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Spoils of War: Day 2

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Spoils of War: Day 3

My tote bags were ALWAYS filled to the brim by the end of the day, which was the best/most gloriously exhausting feeling in the world. And even though I received some of the most judgmental looks from people on the street as I was walking back to my car, I owned my supremely frazzled appearance and all the bulging totes hanging off me. Nothing was more satisfying than being able to add more and more to the growing tower of books in my room:

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The tower of bookish wonder that I’m pretty sure goes above my waist.

Just looking at this picture makes me feel a bit overwhelmed. My TBR list just got a whole lot bigger, and my bookshelves have become a whole lot more cramped, but those are not terrible problems to have. If you want these sort of problems in your life, then go to ALA. It was AMAZING and I highly urge everyone to attend if it happens to be located in your neck of the woods! Meanwhile, I’ll just be here, waiting in agony until it comes back (if it ever does) to Boston again . . .

 

A Long Travel Montage of CP Shenanigans, Books, and the Boston Teen Author Festival

After over a week of fun, bookish, authorly, writerly, and CP-ly fun, it’s finally back to reality. BUT, for the sake of this recap, I’m still in the fun zone remembering all the good times that went down when my fabulous CPs Maddy and Akshaya came to visit me! Obviously, chaos ensued—in the best way possible.

Our hijinks included a lot of eating (naturally), wining & cheesing, working side by side, being distracted whilst working side by side, bookstores, and a much appreciated PotC rewatchathon.

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The most gorgeous breakfast that ever was eaten

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BROOMSTICKS IN BOOKSTORES, I REPEAT. BROOMSTICKS IN BOOKSTORES.

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our usual spread

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Gold star to whoever can guess this Oscar-worthy scene from PotC

And of course, many more misadventures happened in my humble little Shoveltown (yes, apparently this is what my town is known as;  yes, this was actually news to me; and yes, this is kind of creepy), but we also ventured into Boston for author-y events like the Boston Teen Author Festival which was SUCH a blast! Getting to partake in some volunteering tasks, meeting the authors, hearing them talk on panels, and getting all the books signed was ridiculously fun amidst the chaos. But with all the reader and writer enthusiasm just swirling all around, you seriously can’t help but enjoy the crazy atmosphere celebrating YA . . . as well as pretty much going bankrupt after buying all of the books. My bank account is still weeping from all of the abuse. Tip for everyone to remember: festivals and conferences WILL suck all of your money from you. It’s unavoidable.

Nevertheless, I am still super pumped for next year’s BTAF because with the fabulous list of authors who came, it can only get bigger and better from here. Here’s a look at this year’s event:

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All of the wonderful authors this year! Photo credit: Boston Teen Author Festival

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Meet the Author panel, in which rapid fire questions and hilarity ensued

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A closer pic! Credit: Boston Teen Author Festival

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The fearless Director/Ringleader of BTAF, Renee! aka fellow Emerson alum 😀

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“The Craft” panel, which touched upon topics like magic and the process of crafting other worlds

It was such a joy to sit in on the first panel which introduced the authors in attendance! All of them had a great dynamic with each other, wonderful personalities, and spot on comedic timing with the questions fired at them. When the authors were asked “Who would you ship your MC with?”  it was so interesting to see how many of them referred to other book characters from the authors present on the stage. Talk about potential crossover/fanfic kernels?

Another panel my CPs and I got to sit in on was “The Craft” panel, which included Sara Raasch, Melissa Grey, Kim Liggett, Kendal Kulper, A.C. Gaughen, Leigh Bardugo, and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Some of the really interesting discussion focused on the magical elements and systems within the stories, as well as the differences between “hard” and “soft” magic (the former being more rule-based, and the latter gearing toward the elemental side). It was definitely a fascinating panel to listen to for anyone writing or interested in fantasy or just stories with some complex, magical worldbuilding.

While shenanigans happened in between (ranging from a historical tour of Sharvard to observing some maybe/maybe not ritualistic behavior on the library lawn), the huge signing at the end had to be the most chaotic part because lines went on for DAYS. Leigh Bardugo’s, for example, lasted forever, but I refused to leave the premises without telling her how much I love her Grisha trilogy, how it’s influenced my writing, and then having her sign all of my copies while trying not to freak out.

And I did—and pretty much lost ALL of my chill when I went up to her and we started chatting about writing, how fantastic her books are, and my pirate fantasy. After hearing all of her words of encouragement, then realizing what she’d actually written in my copy, that’s definitely the moment when I lost all ability to function.

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*forever inserting cat head with heart-eyes emoji*

For me, one of the most rewarding parts of a signing is having the opportunity to tell the author either how excited I am to read their book, or (if I’ve already read it) how much their book has touched me/gotten me out or a writing or reading slump/influenced me/made me feel all the feels. Even though I wasn’t able to read all of the books on the BTAF roster this year (there were a TON), I’m glad I got to read many beforehand and had the chance to tell the authors how amazing they are in person.

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Probably the nicest pic of all three of us—oh yeah, and there’s Adam Silvera too, I guess . . .

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Just kidding! Adam is kind of cool, when he’s not forgetful/trying to bully me or steal my Six of Crows ARC

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Classic Shivy League fam pic with awesome punmaster, Sara Raasch

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All the lines, so little time

And so, after the chaotic battlefield of book signings and purchasing, here are my spoils of war:

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Left = ALREADY MINE pile: The Duff by Kody Keplinger, The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, and and ARC of The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh; Right = NEWLY MINE pile: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee, The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger, The Wrath and the Dawn Hardcover by Renee Ahdieh, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and an ARC of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This is a mighty fine haul, and I’m so excited to dive into all of them! I was practically heaving when I received a Six of Crows ARC, even though it was only two days before its actual release—BUT STILL. Huge deal. Now that I’ve got that ARC and an actual hardcover (still drooling over those black-stained pages), it’s safe to say that I’m sufficiently Six of Crowed for the year. Also, missing from this pile is the eagerly-anticipated sequel Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch, which should be coming in the mail sometime soon, hopefully complete with illustrations, puns galore, and a pirate if she can manage to fit one into the package for me.

And so, after the day-long, fantastic circus that was BTAF, it was onto the next adventure for my CPs and me: WRITING RETREAT!

Akshaya, Maddy, and I ventured to Vermont for a few days where we frolicked in nature and lived out our dream of a cabin-in-the-woods style writing retreat. It was the first time I’ve ever been to Vermont (I know, the life-long New Englander in me is thoroughly shamed), but now I want to go back ASAP and FOREVER. Not only was the scenery breathtakingly gorgeous (with COWS!), but the atmosphere was just so perfect for getting into the writing zone mentality. After coming off the inspirational high from BTAF, it’s no surprise that we all were super set to just write, write, write, write, and carving out this time to work was so necessary. Surprisingly, when you put us in a house together, we actually do have the ability to be quite productive for long periods of time—and of course, add in those shorter periods in between filled with our usual distracting randomness. Let’s do it again, guys? Getaway forever, this time?

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werk it, great green pastures

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heavenly morning work station

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HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE?

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And then there were ALL THE COWS

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HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE? Part 2: A Magical Moment with a Unicorn Named Shamrock

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the sky that can’t stop, won’t stop

All in all, everything about our CP reunion was super magical, as always. Words were written/edited, books were bought, events were attended, (too much) food was eaten, and random fun was to be had.  While we drove home blasting all the Disney, failing at psychic iTunes, and making up travel montages, it was so surreal just thinking how fast the time went (and now how much I already miss my CPs). And even though the trip was over way too soon, I’m already gearing up for the next time we’re going to reunite because it shall be EPIC.

Now, back to being productive . . .

 

Book Haul Huzzah

FINALLY—as promised—A BOOK POST!

So in between having a wonderful Boston reunion with my awesome CP Maddy and flying through an embarrassing amount of episodes from my latest TV obsession Baby Daddy (do NOT judge it by the name), I’ve been accumulating quite a lot of books and have been itching to post about them.

If you’re like me and cannot buy the endless river of books you want (because, you know, money), the library will become your personal paradise. My library has definitely been mine for a long time. In high school, I was always the girl who hung around the aisles of books, who proudly checked out toddler-sized towers of books, and who even enjoyed paying late fees if only to give more money to the library. Yes, I was that girl.

Oh wait, I’m still that girl.

Except now, it’s getting much harder to plow through those towers of books before they’re due back for return. And boy, do I feel like a sad puppy with its tail between its legs when I have to walk up to the library return slot and dump in my mountain of un-read books.

But—hopefully—not anymore! Since the year is halfway over and I’m still ridiculously behind on my Goodreads challenge (fun fact: this morning I just got an email from GR regarding needing a boost on my challenge—even THEY know I’m failing!), I’m posting my library hauls so that you guys can be my accountability buddies. I SHALL read—and if I fail, you can throw as many virtual tomatoes at me as you want.

So, voila: my most recent library haul, which includes a variety of awesome graphic novels, contemporaries, fantasy, and paranormal that I’ve already made some progress on!

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Graphic novels included: Fables by Bill Willingham (devoured and finished), Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

Books included: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Slammed by Colleen Hoover, The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski, In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente (currently devouring and loving), The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, and Deadly Descendant by Jenna Black (also finished).

Along with today’s latest library haul, I’m also including a small book haul I indulged in as a little birthday gift to myself. *confetti*

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Books included: Uprooted by Naomi Novik (SO excited for this one!), The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop (finished the first two, now must finish the last because I MUST), along with Darkfever and Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning.

It’s been my mission to get through my library haul before my birthday one, and so far I’ve been making steady progress which I hope will continue. But if I fail—and I’m really, really determined not to—I am more than ready for the virtual tomato-slinging.

Last note: here is the lovely book hauls all thrown together. Look at alllllll the pretty.

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