I have never felt beautiful, and while there are so many reasons for that in my mind (frizzy hair, nose I don’t like, eyebrows too thick, bad posture), there’s always been one that stuck out the most: I’ve been fat for so long.

To be fair, for most of my high school and even part of college life, I wasn’t fat, I was just not-as-thin-as the girls, both around me and in magazines, who were held up as icons of beauty. My stomach had rolls and if I angled my face down just right, welp, there was my double chin.

I’m fat now. I carry my weight in specific areas on my body and I don’t have a big frame, but I look at myself in the mirror, in pictures taken of me, and it’s clear: I am fat.

So I hated myself for that. Granted, it wasn’t the only thing I hated myself for, but it was a big one. It was especially bad because I’ve always been this huge believer in romance, someone who once believed if I wasn’t married by 19 (why 19? I was reading a lot of historical fiction, okay, it’s fine) my life would have no meaning. And in the books I read, the heroines didn’t look like me. Oh, for sure, they were still white, which is a big issue of representation, and sometimes they even had frizzy hair or noses they didn’t like; but they weren’t fat.

They were never fat.

And so, I bought into the belief that nobody would love a fat girl.

When I was 23, I read DUMPLIN’, a YA novel by Julie Murphy, and it meant everything to me. So much so, I even wrote about it for Bustle. A fat heroine, whose journey isn’t about losing weight, and a love interest who thinks she’s beautiful just the way she is?


That’s how I feel about THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE (Simon Pulse, May 14), written by Sandhya Menon, whose previous two YA romcoms are both deliciously sweet, and whom I interviewed two years ago.

From the book’s blurb: “Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat.”

That description hits me because it’s so...multi-dimensional. Sweetie isn’t just a fat character who has no other qualities or personality traits. Her reason for existing as a protagonist isn’t merely to check off a box: yes, the fat character is there, carry on then.

Sweetie is as real a person as she can be while remaining … fictional. In addition to the traits listed above, readers learn within mere pages of the book that Sweetie is a girl with a fraught relationship with her mother; a big factor in what makes their relationship tense is her clothing size.

In a preface to the book, Menon shares that she, while thin at the moment, has in the past been fat. She explained her desire to write, specifically, conversations between Sweetie and her mother in which the teen daughter received this pervasive message that fat is bad, thin is good. No matter how many times Sweetie tries to remind her mother that my body is healthy, my body is strong, I am an athlete and I am good at it and I am not ashamed, her mother cannot or will not hear her.

I asked Menon about this in an interview I sent her, you know — what was it like to write these conversations so many young girls have with their mothers, and to have Sweetie put her foot down and say there’s nothing wrong with being fat?

“I wanted it to be there in very clear terms, in black and white, with no ambiguity, that even mothers have no right to say fat-shaming things to their children,” she answered. “Even if it’s coming from a place of love or fear or desperation, it has everything to do with the messages the parents themselves have internalized and very little to do with reality.”

Although Menon specifically chose to write Sweetie as a South Asian, fat athlete, both to reflect experiences she had and to show South Asian teenagers having the same experiences what it might look like to accept themselves as they are, she acknowledged that communities all around the world struggle to fully accept fat bodies.

“I want to start having these conversations about what it means to be fat and happy in your own skin, and how thin people can be more supportive of their fat loved ones,” she said.

Honestly…these are exactly the kind of conversations I want to start having with my loved ones…and with myself. There were so many moments in the book where I just had to close it (metaphorically…I read it in Kindle format on my phone, so there’s really no “closing,” but you get the picture), close my eyes, and just breathe.

I don’t think there’s a person living in a fat body who hasn’t lived through having someone, be they stranger at the Farmer’s Market or grandparent or close friend or stranger on the Internet, think they had a right to discuss our body: with us, behind our back, as a call-out or an intervention or cloaked with a sheen of concern.

It begins to seem as though everywhere fat people turn there’s a voice telling us we’re disgusting, unworthy, lazy, somehow less-than everyone around.

Every voice which counteracts these negative ones — every fat actor who scores roles that don’t mock fatness; every comedian who’s able to make it through a set without even one fatphobic joke; every fashion brand making plus sizes that don’t cost additional arms and legs; and every author writing about badass fat characters who don’t need to lose the weight to learn they are beautiful, smart, lovable…each of these voices is precious.

I think one thing that makes THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE ring so true to me is because it comes from a place of authenticity for the author. Menon has been there. She has been fat. She has had the conversations Sweetie has to have. She has felt the sting of someone judging her in the street, and the shame that brings, even while questioning why we’re letting someone else’s poor judgement bring us shame.

“All of my fiction thus far has had hints of autobiography,” she said, explaining that each of her characters’ main obstacle are things she herself has worked through. “All of these are deeply personal struggles from my own life, and I wouldn’t know what it feels like to write without pulling from that pool…that level of honesty makes the story feel so much richer and, I think, leads to a more fulfilling storytelling experience for both writer and reader.”

She’s right: there’s something comforting about knowing that the character you’re reading, the one who looks like you and is being hurt like you have been, was written by someone who understands. Someone who, having been through it, won’t be careless in her handling of that hurt, won’t make you hurt again.

At the end of the day, as much as THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE is a powerful book about self-acceptance and body positivity, it’s also a young adult rom-com. And knowing that the author herself had experienced the same things the character goes through makes it easier to read the book with almost a sigh of relief, a knowledge that you’re not going to get your heart broken this time.

And you won’t. The cover doesn’t lie. First of all, it’s a nod to a super adorable scene; but secondly, that joy that sparkles through Sweetie (and her cover model)’s eyes? It’s sprinkled throughout the whole book. It’s uplifting and cute and, simply, adorable.

If you need something to read this summer that is both pure sweetness as well as uplifting and empowering, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE is, really, the perfect choice.

IN ANOTHER LIFE by C.C. Hunter [Blog Tour]

Imagine it: you’re 17, you move to a new city for your senior year of high school, and you meet a boy. The chemistry is electric between the two of you, the connection undeniable. So maybe being the new kid in 12th grade won’t be the worst thing in the world after all, right?

Until he tells you: his foster parents lost a daughter 14 years ago, and you’re the spitting image of the age-progression photos detectives mocked up a while back.

Could it be? Are you…the kidnapped daughter of your new boyfriend’s foster parents?

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

This is the key question that IN ANOTHER LIFE, New York Times bestselling author C.C. Hunter’s newest YA thriller hinges upon. Published yesterday, the novel delves into the mystery of Chloe’s adoption while simultaneously undertaking a look at complicated family dynamics and relationships; delving into questions of how to overcome childhood trauma and whether what we experience as children — and the choices we and our parents make — determines our fate; as well as increasingly life-and-death stakes for our two protagonists.

I was lucky enough to send a few questions to Ms. Hunter for this tour and I’m thrilled to share some of her background and story with you today. The first thing that intrigued me in researching was her name: C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym for Christie Craig, her real name and the one under which she writes humorous romantic suspense novels.

I’d labored for ages under the impression that pseudonyms were chosen to keep identities private or to, at least, separate two identities, that is, keep readers from knowing the same author is writing in both genres; however, it’s made clear on every platform online, that Christie Craig and C.C. Hunter are the same person.

“I was already publishing my humorous romantic suspense novels when an editor asked me to write a young adult paranormal series,” Hunter told me when I asked why this was. “She advised me to use a pseudonym to avoid confusing my readers since it was a different genre.” [You can find C.C. Hunter’s website here.]

Hunter grew up in Alabama, in the deep South, and says, “storytelling was infused in my blood.”

Not only did her grandfather gather her and all her cousins around him to regale them with stories, but dinnertime in her immediate family was also a time for sharing and storytelling.

Courtesy of Wednesday Books

Courtesy of Wednesday Books

“Our dinner table conversations were supposed to be interesting,” Hunter says. “If our day was boring, we had to find some deeper meaning to the mundane events or elaborate to make the conversation more interesting.”

Hunter told me she is dyslexic, meaning she wasn’t much of a reader, she struggled in school, and she didn’t allow herself to dream of being a writer. She couldn’t keep herself from dreaming up stories in her head, though.

“From the time I was about eleven, I would run off by myself into the woods, find a tree to lean on, and I would create stories in my head,” she said. “ Stories of young love and adventure…It wasn’t until I was 23 when my husband asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life that I admitted I wrote stories in my head and I wondered if I could learn to put them on paper.  His reply, ‘Just do it,’ was like a challenge.”

It took 10 years to sell her first book, and another 13 years to sell a second: but she persevered, kept at it, and now she’s a bestselling author in multiple genres.

I’m going to tie this back into IN ANOTHER LIFE here, because it’s relevant, even though it might not seem so on the surface. Learning to translate the stories you’ve in your head onto paper after 23 years of believing you can’t do so takes gumption, guts, and incredible fortitude. It’s the kind of thing even I, ambitious and big-dreaming to a fault, don’t know if I could do. It’s incredibly impressive.

I’ve only read one of Hunter’s books (yes, it’s the one I’m discussing for this here blog tour ;)) but I can see that her character, Chloe, possessed similar fortitude. No, not always. She’s a 17-year-old whose life was turned upside down and in reading there were moments I wanted to step into the pages of the book and shake her and just tell her what to do.

But I know from my own experience as a writer, aspects of who we are translate into our protagonists. Our weaknesses and also our strengths. Including, when we have it, our gumption, guts, and fortitude.

I enjoyed IN ANOTHER LIFE in part because, as much as Chloe is scared to learn the truth because it will turn her life upside-down…as scared as she is of confronting people at the beginning of the book…by the end she has grown into a take-no-enemies woman who tells people what she wants and stands her ground. It’s admirable, heroic, and the kind of role model that’s needed.

If you wandered over to Hunter’s website at any point, you might notice her blog page is fairly active and up-to-date. She also releases novels regularly, has a husband, friends…the usual trappings of a life. She explained the value of prioritizing work time, including sometimes saying “no” to fun events…while at the same time realizing that it’s a balance, and sometimes she realizes she’s cutting back on too much social life.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she offered as one piece of advice to others who may be struggling to find balance. “As I have gotten busier, I have hired an assistant to help me keep up with things…The biggest piece of advice I can offer other authors juggling all things writing related is to not compare yourself to other writers.  Your life is different and only you can set your goals.”

But the biggest thing to remember?

“The most important thing you can do for your career is to write the next book,” Hunter said.

Hey, thanks so much for reading this stop on the IN ANOTHER LIFE blog tour! I hope you’ll click through the link to check out C.C. Hunter’s website, and if you’re intrigued by the sound of the book, you can find the buy link here. Thanks for checking it out!

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER: Being the Hero's Heartbreak

trigger warning: depression, mental illness, suicide, suicidal thoughts

possible spoiler warnings for THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, by Emily X.R. Pan

Chapter 2. The book starts with a series of scratched-out suicide note attempts. So simple, such a small thing, and I am immediately wrecked. Fingers trembling, aching to turn the pages and move on, eyes fixed to the words, I’m already crying.

I get it. I’ve been there. How do you encompass a lifetime’s suffering into a note? How do explain that you love them so much, so much that you have to go? How do you convey your sorrow and apology when they won’t get it?

I want you to remember: I do, too. Remember me. The good times, not this pain. Raise your children with my picture on the mantel. Don’t forget me. Just because I have to go doesn’t mean I want to erase my existence entirely.

The day before I began reading Emily X.R. Pan’s stunning debut THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, I sat down and, for I think the first time in my life, began typing out a suicide note.

Books, tables, plants, oh my!

Books, tables, plants, oh my!

I didn’t get far. Just the act of typing out the words “I’m sorry” sent me reeling because it made it so real. So much more real than ever before. I’d had previous attempts, but they’d always been impulsive, the kind that happened because I was overcome with emotion and couldn’t see past the pain of the moment, and never had I come even close to my life being in danger. I’d never had the time to sit down and write a note. 

This time was different. This time started with me speaking to myself in a rational tone of voice. Making a promise. And slowly, as the days passed, growing ever surer in my promise. I had motive. I had a plan. I had determination. If such-and-such didn’t happen…I would kill myself.

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER is about coping with a mother’s suicide. It’s contemporary but fantastical, the story of Leigh, a biracial girl who, after losing her mother, travels to Taiwan to visit the grandparents whom she’s never met, in search of the bird she believes her mother has become. It is exquisitely written and heart-squeezingly devastating at times. As I read, I kept stopping to take notes, to write down a chapter number and a line or two that specifically affected me.

Chapter 6. One of the first books I ever tried to write was a dual-perspective novel, following a girl after her best friend killed herself as the left-behind finds she can hardly cope. I had tried to kill myself a few months before, wound up in the hospital, and was trying to put myself in my friends’ shoes and imagine their life after me.

The biggest struggle was I just couldn’t fathom that they would be devastated.

Leigh says: “The mother-shaped hole became a cutout of the blackest black. Something I could only see around.” (19).

Am I wrong for wishing they might be sucked into the black hole?

The day before I began reading THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER was the day such-and-such was supposed to happen, or not. And as the hours dragged on, I became surer that it wouldn’t happen. That I would have to die. I was a mess. I cried. My hands shook. I scrolled through my phone’s contacts, trying to find someone I could tell. I started my note. I shuddered and couldn’t finish. 

In the end, I didn’t do it. I lived another day, to open up Pan’s novel, and find myself…completely shaken.

Chapter 19. Leigh wants to know whose fault it is. Did she not love her mom enough? Did her father fail in some way? Did her mom’s friends drop the ball?

I wanted to yell that no, of course not. The ball is too fucking heavy for them to carry. It’s too heavy for me to ask my mom, my best friend, the boy I have a crush on, to carry. It’s definitely too heavy for me, but I’m trying. I’m lugging it behind me and brushing the sweaty hair from my forehead and wishing I were stronger.

“If I had only— ” (77). 

No, baby, there was nothing you could do. 

I wish I could blame someone for this. Say they didn’t love me enough. But the truth is my brain is a cannibal and it’s eating me alive and no one’s sacrifice will ever be enough. Ever. Not even mine.

What do you when you find yourself relating not to the book’s protagonist, Leigh, but to her dead mother? When every description of the mother who killed herself rockets through your body and lights you up from the inside, eating you alive with recognition? 

Everything about Leigh’s mother could have been written about me. From the memories where she shines, joy sparkling from her eyes to her fingertips to the way she moves about the room. There are moments in which I feel this about myself. Moments when I am joy incarnate, when I imagine a third-person narrator saying of me, She walked with a spring in her step, emanating a joie de vivre that infected everyone around her. She may as well have been in a musical on a beautiful spring day, waltzing through a quaint, charming town while wearing a fluffy, pink sundress. 

And then there are descriptions of her as she is depressed. Slumped, physically bowed down by the weight in her mind, in her heart, unable to even recognize that it’s time to celebrate someone else: a prisoner to her illness.

That’s me so much of the time. It feels like there are weights tied to my fingers and my toes and my nose and they’re all pulling me downward, pressing me into the ground. I get in the car and my hands barely hold onto the wheel, my foot presses the gas gauge too far…I have to pull over, take a deep breath, straighten my back and demand strength from my limbs that isn’t there.

Chapter 24. Leigh finds her mom passed out on the kitchen floor.

I used to pray I could pass out. Hell, I still do. I am overcome with emotion and it hurts like hell and I want it to go away, at least for a moment.

When I cut; when I walk crying down the street; when I post on Twitter; I’m screaming. I’m screaming for you to help me. What do I have to do to get your attention? Pass out? Collapse? Bleed?


Help me. 

Chapter 29. They thought she was better.

But it was always going to come back.

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER is a story of grief. Intense, brilliant grief. Every instant where Leigh grieves her mother hit me in the gut, not because I’ve felt that grief, but because I’ve almost been the cause of that grief.

I haven’t lost a loved one to suicide. I’ve been the loved one who was almost lost to suicide.

Chapter 30. Leigh asks herself what makes someone decide to kill herself. Especially when this person is loved.

I flash back to mid-July, 2017. I wish I remembered details of the day other than that it was a Sunday, but that’s all I’ve got. It was a Sunday. I was on the middle or top balcony in Hammerstein Ballroom, at the Manhattan Center. I was out of control. I was surrounded by friends, people who didn’t just profess to love me, but who acted out their love, showing it to me in everything they did.

“You have so many people who love you,” someone mentioned, and the guilt knifed its way through my gut. I knew it was the truth.

It’s not often that I know I am loved. Most of the time I hope I am loved, but fully disbelieve it regardless. This time, though, I knew it.

And it still wasn’t enough. 

Chapter 33. Leigh thinks maybe a place to exercise her religion would have saved her mother. 

I have a place. I call it home. I call it church. I call it family. It’s a megachurch that meets in a theater in midtown Manhattan and the line stretches halfway down an avenue most Sundays. The worship music is loud and exciting and when I sing out so strongly that my throat gets raw, I feel like it will be okay.

If I could just stay in that cocoon all the time. If I could wrap myself in that comfort, familiarity, home, for the other six days of the week…

It still wouldn’t be enough. 

I don’t know what will be enough. I don’t know if anything can be enough. I have it all. I have friends and love and God and worship and home and dreams and safety and it is still not, never, enough. Because I still wander through the middle of most days wondering when it’s going to happen.

When I’m going to kill myself.

And I don’t know what the grief would look like for the people I love, who profess to love me. Honestly, sometimes I don’t believe that they would grieve. I doubt it would wreck anyone the way it wrecked Leigh. 

But maybe it would. Maybe, just maybe, my friends would find themselves shaken, at a loss, sick to their stomachs, knowing I was gone. Maybe they would attend my funeral and have no words for their sorrow. Maybe they would fling their lives away, travel to foreign lands in search of me, in search of a reason, in search of an answer.


I doubt it. But maybe that doubt is the depression speaking.

Regardless: what do you do when you read a book and know you’re not the hero: you’re her heartbreak?

Chapter 52. Leigh’s mom can’t hold herself upright. Her body droops, sags, drapes along the floor and the shoulders of those who carry her. 

There have been moments, usually when I’m behind the wheel of a car, when my body becomes weighted down. My shoulders sag, my head lolls forward. My eyes close for a blink and it takes a second, two, six, for them to snap open again.

We like to call depression a mental illness, relegate it to the kingdom of the mind and pretend it has no physical effects. But there are moments when my body is just as sick as my mind. When the strength seeps out of my muscles and my bones may or may not be made of silly putty and I think it would be easy, so easy, to simply disintegrate.

Chapter 52, but later. Leigh sees a happy family picture and wonders how a picture can lie about so much brokenness.

It me, the selfie queen

It me, the selfie queen

I am the queen of selfies. It’s partly because I have no shame in public, partly because I don’t like the way I look from any other angle. And I smile. Liberally. I laugh, loudly. I tell jokes and I spiral upwards and if you looked at me and didn’t know, you just might think I was okay. Better than okay: amazing.

It’s always the broken ones who laugh the hardest.

I don’t know how to cope with being a hero’s heartbreak. I honestly don’t. For me, I read to understand. To put myself in Leigh’s shoes and my friends in mine, to seek to understand what it’s like to lose someone to suicide, to envision my loved ones going through that…to swear to never put them through it.

There’s this thought I have often when I’m depressed: that I know this is a terminal disease. Not because it’s going to be with me until I die, but because it’s going to be the reason I die. Because it’s going to be my hand which takes my life in the end. 

An old counselor of mine used to say that even then, it wouldn’t be depression’s fault. Because it’s my hand which yanks the blade, scoops up the pills, etc, etc. 

I believe her but mostly I don’t. And I read THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER and I cry because I understand the mother and why she did what she did even though no one else does and it breaks me into infinitesimally small pieces. In every instance, I relate: not to Leigh but to her dead mother.

Chapter 63. It is the image of a cicada molting. How many times have I wished I could claw my skin off my back. How many times has the pain in my mind sent me reeling, cursing, clawing.

How many times have I wished for a new self, a new skin, a new mind. How many times.

Chapter 65. In which Leigh’s aunt, in a memory, reflects upon her sister, Leigh’s mother. The mother who killed herself. The mother who was depressed, yet had a spirit bursting with creativity and ambition.

I think I am Leigh’s mother.

Chapter 83. I have never seen my pain represented so clearly on the page, so fully and starkly. We kaleidoscope through suicidal moment after suicidal moment while Leigh’s mother — while Dory — contemplates death. A bottle of pills. A knife. The one that hits the hardest: freezing in the snow.

I didn’t know I was suicidal until I was in high school. It was a boarding school, in the Black Forest, in the mountains of Germany. I lived with a woman who abused my emotions. 

There is a moment, crystallized in the amber of my memories: I walked out of her apartment on the second floor of the centuries-old farmhouse. I stepped into the next room and looked out the window, took in the hills soaring into the sky, transforming into snow-topped mountains.

I would leave. I would walk, then run, then traipse and stumble through the chill, through the snow, until I could no longer move. I would rest. And eventually, my rest would turn to ice. My blood would stop moving in my veins. My heartbeats would slow down until eventually they stopped. I might not even notice when it happened. But one minute, I would be, and the next...I wouldn’t.

I didn’t know I wasn’t alone in dreaming of snow taking over.

I didn’t know, and I read the words, and I broke.

The last thing I want is to make the people who love me suffer. Grieve. Cry. Wonder. I don’t want to turn into a bird. I just want to turn into someone who can survive life.

LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS Will Change And Improve Your Life

Samira Ahmed's debut, LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS is one of those books that doesn't leave your mind after you've consumed it.

I say "consumed" because that's how this book is best read: all at once, inhaled and then savored. It leaves a pleasant taste lingering in the back of your mind, a book hangover but nicer.

According to the synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz can’t wait to graduate from her small town high school. She dreams of studying film in New York City and kissing a boy (or, maybe two). Her parents forbid both. While she wrestles with parental expectations and her own desires, Maya’s world is rocked by a horrifying act of domestic terrorism that ignites an outbreak of Islamophobia that threatens to alter the course of her life forever.

So already I'm feeling this book. I mean, hello, desire to move to New York City and wanting to kiss boys? The book may as well be about me! Well, except for some differences: Maya is into photography and I'm a writer; her parents don't want her to do what she wants and mine were relatively supportive; she's Muslim and I'm Christian. 

These differences between me and Maya really only made me love the book more; there's something delicious, to me, about reading a book that stars someone with core differences but to whom I can still relate on such a deep level.

8F22C274-D97E-4FF3-9D59-F1A31F01F1ED 3.JPG

As I read the book, I was fully captivated by the contemporary YA storyline; when the act of domestic terrorism occurs, I had this fleeting worry that it would change the book. It did; it made it a little darker, a little more real, as Maya has to deal with Islamophobia. But Samira Ahmed does an incredible job at weaving the darkness into the story without letting it overwhelm you, and she planted me squarely in Maya's shoes in a situation I'll never experience but which I feel the emotions of as clearly as if I were living them.

That's what a book is supposed to do; it's supposed to let you live another experience so you can comprehend it better. 

But this book isn't fabulous only because of how Samira handles darkness; it's also a beautiful, romantic tale of passion and dreams. It has lovely moments of lightness to counteract the hard things Maya goes through. 

I'm such a fan of this book, you guys! It was published Jan. 16 (this past Tuesday!) by Soho Teen, and you can order a copy yourself if you feel the desire to read something brilliantly written, emotionally moving, and also just plain adorable.

    NICE TRY, JANE SINNER Is a Top Book of 2018, For Sure

    Phew, Y'ALL. Lianne Oelke has written what is possibly going to be on all my lists of favorite 2018 reads. I began NICE TRY, JANE SINNER on the first day of the year and finished it this Sunday; yes, that's how good I think the book is, I think it'll stay at the top of the list all year long! According to the synopsis: 


    Recently expelled from high school, Jane Sinner grudgingly enrolls in community college, a situation made slightly more bearable when she joins a student-run reality show. House of Orange is her chance to start over—and maybe even win a car (used, but whatever)—and no one there knows what she did in high school. What more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that gets why she’d rather turn to Freud than to Jesus. But she’ll settle for using HOO’s growing fanbase, and whatever Intro to Psych can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard television—that she has what it takes to win.

    Sounds intriguing, no? I read this book because I was given a free eARC on Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion, and my honest opinion is this: this book rocks.

    Here's a link to my Goodreads review in which I rave about it. 

    Basically, this book was one of the most well-done examples of a good young adult voice that I've read in a while. Jane is about the definition of "caustic," with an exceedingly biting tone and total no-nonsense approach to life that I adored. She's not like me (I'm overly emotional and she likes to pretend she doesn't have any) but I related to her on a visceral level, and I adored just how strongly her personality came through. When I write (and read) voice is one of the most important things to me, and this book nailed it.

    I won't talk about the part I loved the most about this book because SPOILERS, but I will say it accurately depicts what a lot of people go through during certain hard times. For that reason, it was at times a tough read; I had to take a break in the middle of charging through the words in order to reset my mind. It does deal with mental illness in a very unflinching way; but that's how I prefer to write and read, so I'm not mad about it.

    Another thing the book does really well is experiment with funky format and structure. The way the dialogue is written, as though it's a script, actually makes it really easy to read and to forget that it's in a journal-format, which is not always my favorite. It was good, though, because you get the feeling Jane wouldn't be so honest if it weren't in her journal. 

    This book turned my emotions topsy-turvy and I legit have a very real, very strong book hangover because of it. I'm...obsessed. 

    Give Lianne a follow on Twitter or check out her website, and I would highly recommend ordering this book because, y'all, it's just that good.

    Have you read NICE TRY, JANE SINNER? Let us chat about it!!! It's SO GOOD, RIGHT???

    Emma Mills: Author of FOOLISH HEARTS, Multi-Tasking Genius

    Hello, hello, and welcome to the book birthday celebration for FOOLISH HEARTS, by Emma Mills! 


    FOOLISH HEARTS is a contemporary young adult novel that, when I read it this summer, simply filled me with happiness. I'm pretty sure there were parts at which I giggled like a middle schooler with a crush, and others where I cried and clutched my heart like an overdramatic elderly woman at a wedding. 

    It was, quite simply, adorable.

    So I was stoked to also get the chance to chat a little with Emma, the author! We talked about her life as a multi-tasker who has a writing career, is pursuing a Ph.D in cell biology and occasionally moonlights as a vlogger, as well as some other interesting topics. The Q&A is below!

    I know you’re pursuing a PhD in cell biology — what interested you in that field?

    I have always been fascinated by biological sciences and it seemed like a natural progression from my college studies. I love being a student and really wanted to continue my education after college.

    How do you time-manage in order to be an author, vlogger, PhD student (and also have time to be enthusiastic about Nutella!)?

    It’s definitely a juggling act! I’ve become really good at writing when I should be cleaning my apartment.

    What tips do you have for aspiring writers who also want to pursue careers in different fields as to how to do it all?

    In my experience, it comes with a degree of compromise about certain things--maybe less lounging around time, less nights out on the town!—but if you’re really interested in pursuing two different areas, you can definitely make it work. 

    What initially interested you in vlogging, and why is it something you still do?

    I got into Youtube when I was in college. It was such a fun community to be a part of at that time, and I loved watching videos as much as I loved making them. It’s not something I’m able to do as often as I’d like these days, but I still really enjoy it when I can!

    Would you recommend blogging or vlogging to aspiring authors?

    If it’s something you’re in interested in, definitely! I’ve been able to meet some amazing people and have some really cool experiences through my work online.

    On a craft level, how did you develop your writing and your voice?

    Practice practice practice! I did a lot of writing growing up, both in school and out. I wrote a lot of stories back then that will probably never see the light of day, but they really helped me learn some of the mechanics and technique involved in telling a story effectively.

    What advice would you give aspiring writers who want to have their own signature style and voice?

    Reading widely is really helpful; it helps you identify what you like and don’t like, what works for you and what doesn’t.

    What advice would you give aspiring writers on how to find an agent and an editor to love their work, especially if it’s out of the “mainstream” in either genre or subject matter?

    I don’t necessarily think being outside the “mainstream” is a disadvantage—I think people are often looking for something new and outside-the-box! I would just say to do your research prior to approaching specific agents or editors, and make sure you’re contacting them in line with their guidelines for submission. 

    Thanks to Emma for letting me chat with her a little bit, and for writing a book I loved so much! Check her out on YouTube, and read some of her books as well!