What Annie Read: Captain Guinevere Book Review

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Captain Guinevere by Clara Bennet
Published November 21st, 2016

I received a copy of Captain Guinevere from the author, Clara Bennet, in exchange for an honest review.  You can check out Clara’s blog here.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Run! She has to run. Gwendolyn Patience has no intention of marrying a man she doesn’t love, but when her parents betroth her to the prince of Voyagea to unite their countries, her only option is to run. With the help of some new friends along the way, she commandeers a ship to sail away from her troubles, but instead she encounters the evil Ravenoth who has other plans for her. While trying to defeat the evil faerie, she finds the secret lies within herself. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the very man she detests.

I rated Captain Guinevere 2/5 stars.

This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.

Before I begin this review, I’d like to give a little disclaimer.  Yes, I did give this book 2/5 stars, which is a low rating for me to give.  I’m just going to say it: I’m not a fan of medieval fantasy.  While there were a few issues (which I’ll discuss later) that had to do with the fundamentals of the writing, my distaste for this book stems largely from my distaste for the subject matter itself.  Medieval fantasy simply isn’t for me… and that’s okay.  If you prefer something a little more fantastic, this may be the book for you.  If you’re like me and want to keep it somewhat realistic, let’s chat about what I liked and didn’t like about Captain Guinevere.

When I received a copy of Captain Guinevere, I decided to go into it with an open mind.  With that said, I wanted to give this book a real chance before counting it out simply because of its genre.  I assessed the story for what it was and not what my preconceived notions might tempt me to believe.  Captain Guinevere is a unique story about a complex protagonist, packed with adventure, with a little bit of romance as the cherry on top.  Is there anything more we can ask from a book?

However, this novel had a lot of hasty beginnings and untidy endings.  For example, in the first few pages, protagonist Gwendolyn finds a magical book and learns about the girl trapped between the pages.  Gwen finds a way to release the girl by enlisting the help of a local witch, but I expected this storyline to go somewhere.  The book served solely as a delivery truck for a supporting character and I felt like I’d been cheated out of what could have been an interesting storyline filled with well-placed world development.

There was world development, but there seemed to be just a touch too much.  As someone who loves well-crafted settings, I’m shocked to even be writing this, but the world was overexposed.  There was an undeniable medieval vibe, but we were also on a different planet… where everyone spoke languages from Earth.  There was talk of people going to other planets in the book, but how did people from this antiquated culture travel from one celestial body to the next?  The setting was anything but cohesive and left me with more questions than answers.

My other bone to pick regarding the novel’s exposition comes with Gwen’s decision to forego marrying Prince Ignatius, who she claimed to be too possessive.  Choosing not to marry someone because of their tendency to be clingy is all fine and dandy, but we never got any evidence to back this claim up.  If Ignatius was possessive, how?  Why?  This was prime character development material but instead of building a realistic, flawed human being, we were left with a faceless cutout labeled “Possessive Male Protagonist.”

One thing I did enjoy about the beginning was a singular page (or two–I can’t quite remember) when Bennet portrayed Gwen’s thought process when deciding to run away from her betrothed.  Rather than typing out a string of “Gwen thought this, Gwen thought that,” Bennet italicized the whole page and simply followed Gwen’s train of thought.  This artistic choice was spot-on for conveying the decisions Gwen had to make without describing them in a monotonous way.

As a character, I liked Gwen.  She was headstrong and determined and passionate, but I felt that she changed personas far too often.  With her family, she was a brooding teenager.  When out shopping on her own, she acted like a curious child.  When aboard the ship she and her crew commandeered, she had the ferocity of a swashbuckling pirate.  I could hardly pin down who she was at her core.  The character development pieces were all there, but they pointed in different directions.

I did enjoy Gwen’s character when she was with her love interest, Shiloh.  He seemed to bring out the best in her, the softness she’d gained from years as a princess.  In the end, I loved where the romance ended up.  “Where does the romance end up?” you might be asking yourself.  Well, you’ll just have to read the book and find out.

Overall, this debut novel was somewhere in between a miss and a hit; I neither loved nor hated this novel.  As I said before, you may fall head-over-heels in love with this book if you’re a fantasy fan.  For me, it just wasn’t in the cards.

Have you read Captain Guinevere?  What did you think of the book?

Don’t forget that I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

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The 5 Books Annie Is Taking to College

Oh, the bittersweet end of summer.  Things are about to get wild for me because I’m heading off to college!  With that said, my life has been an emotional rollercoaster (when I’m assuming is to be expected).  I’m equal parts ecstatic and nervous with just a dash of terrified, but who isn’t?

One of the most prominent struggles is, of course, packing.  For someone who uses books as a safety blanket, I’ve had to decide which books in my collection I’m going to take with me and which I’m going to leave behind.  Picking which of my beloveds to take has been a challenge, but I’ve pared it down to a solid list of five.  I set a five-book limit for myself because I knew that, if I didn’t establish limitations, I’d end up wanting to take my entire bookshelf.  My freshman flat is roomy for a freshman flat, but it can’t hold an entire bookshelf.

Here are the five books I’m taking with me to college:

  • The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan:  This book is obligatory considering it’s my favorite.  The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of essays and short stories written by the late Marina Keegan.  Keegan was an exemplary writer and student at Yale University before her untimely death at the age of twenty-two.  Keegan’s book is a reminder that life and time are fickle and fleeting, so we have to choice but to maximize our time and make the best out of our time here.  You can get a copy of this fabulous book here.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer:  I decided to take Cinder for the entertainment factor.  This book isn’t hard to read and doesn’t require an excess of thought, so it’s perfect for those days when I’m low on brain power after all-nighters and exams and all the lovely struggles that come with freshman year.  You can buy Cinder here.
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini:  Ugh, I just love this book.  It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig, a teenage prodigy who suffers a suicidal episode and checks himself into a psych ward.  What I love about this book is its humor and light amidst the proverbial darkness.  Craig is insightful and brutally honest and I want to be his best friend.  You can get a copy of It’s Kind of a Funny Story here.
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss:  The school year turns me into an emotional ball of stress and anxiety, so Lord only knows how much I need a good, cleansing, ugly cry every once in a while.  This book does the trick in all its ugly cry-inducing glory.  The History of Love is a masterpiece that ties together a series of separate lies in the most beautiful way and I can’t imagine going anywhere without it.  You can get a copy of The History of Love here.
  • Heist Society by Ally Carter:  Ah yes, the compulsory Ally Carter book.  This book is my go-to when I need to get out of a reading slump and we all know that I never leave the house without an Ally Carter book in hand.  (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.)  You can pick up a copy of Heist Society here.

Which of these books have you read?  What are your favorite books to take to college?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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What Annie Read: All Fall Down Book Review

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All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Published July 20th, 2015
Scholastic Press

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Goodreads Synopsis: 

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler-free.

When I received this book in the mail and so how tiny it was, I made a bet with my mom on whether or not I could finish it in one day.  Let’s just say she’s out a few dollars.

As aforementioned, the size was what struck me first and maybe this was for the worse.  I set my mind to devouring this book in a matter of hours (three hours to be exact), so I think I missed some of the witty charm that makes an Ally Carter book something special.

With that said, the book left something to be desired in all accounts.  It wasn’t poorly executed or poorly planned, but the quality of the book was about eighty-five percent of what I expected.  I imagined hard-hitting political drama (or as hard-hitting as young adult political drama can be) and characters with snark and sass and years of global education under their belts.  This book may not have exceeded my expectations, but it did get pretty close.

The characters felt a bit recycled from what Carter has written in the past.  I’ve read both her Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series multiple times (they’re my go-to’s when I’m in a slump) and I found tenants of her past characters in almost every major All Fall Down character.  I saw Gabrielle in protagonist Grace, Cammie Morgan in Meghan, Josh in Noah, Zach Goode in Alexei, Liz in Rosie, and many more cross-character similarities that made for a pretty confusing reading experience.

Grace was a well-developed character… with a few flaws.  Her reputation as the crazy daughter of Caroline Blakely, daughter of the American ambassador to the fictional Adria, was supposed to proceed her, but it didn’t.  For the girl who was supposed to be alone and lonely, she had a surprising amount of trusting friends.  It seemed too good to be true, as I’m sure it is.  I’m totally expecting her life to hit the fan in the second book.  Nothing is that perfect, even in book world.

My final bone to pick with this book is about the pacing, and I promise I’ll be brief: I felt that every plot point ended two pages too short.  I was left wanting more, but not in the edge-of-my-seat way.  Rather, I wanted more because the chapter felt unfinished.

Okay, let’s talk about what I liked after all that negativity.  The book was, overall, enjoyable and terribly entertaining.  Reading this was like walking down my proverbial middle school memory lane when I couldn’t be caught dead without an Ally Carter book in my hand.  (Who am I kidding–I still couldn’t be caught dead without an Ally Carter book in my hand).  Everything I love about her books was present.  The dialogue was sharp and witty, the characters had some spunk to them that was reminiscent of real life, and the plot was unique and intriguing.  Like with all her books before, Carter made me want to throw away my life and become the granddaughter of an international ambassador in some beautiful made-up European country.  Is that too much for a girl to ask?

Have you read All Fall Down?  What did you think of this book?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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Annie’s Approach to Writer’s Block

Today, I’m addressing the bane of every writer’s existence: writer’s block.  It’s that feeling when you know you should be writing something, but you can’t think of anything but complete, utter garbage.  Of all writing-related topics to discuss, I feel like this is the topic we bloggers turn to with a startling frequency.  Writers are always looking for new, inventive ideas in the pursuit of slaying our inner demons, so we turn to the ever-so-reliable Internet to find new weapons.  It’s a great idea… in theory.

Let’s be clear: I’m no professional on how to handle writer’s block.  Hell, I have no idea how to handle writer’s block most of the time.  I’m subject to its perils just like you are, but I’ve found an interesting perspective that made it easier to tackle.

Many moons ago, before I started dedicatedly writing my book, I let writer’s block rule me and my creative process.  Writer’s block became a catch-all excuse to not sit down and try to write.  However, when I started writing for my independent study (which you can read all about here), I discussed writer’s block with my advisor and got some of the best advice I’ve ever received.  Here’s what my advisor said:

“Annie, writer’s block doesn’t exist.  You either know what to say and don’t want to say it, or don’t know what to say.  It’s that simple.”

I’m paraphrasing of course, but the sentiment is the same.  If you are sitting in front of your computer or your journal or whatever apparatus you use to write, you are capable of putting words on paper.  Writer’s block does not stop you from writing: you stop you from writing.  Writer’s block is nothing more than something else to blame for lack of focus, lack of purpose, or lack of effort.

Let’s talk about the two situations in which writing gets challenging: knowing what to say versus not knowing what to say.

If you know what you want to say and are consciously choosing not to write it, then I have one piece of advice for you: write your damn novel.  Open your computer or your notebook, pick up your pencil, and write your damn novel.  If you’re looking for a sign that you should close your browser and write your damn novel, then this is it.  I’m rooting for you, my friend.

If you still need a swift kick in the pants to get writing, here are some of my favorite motivators:

  • This video from Rachael Stephen:  In this amazing video, Rachael makes the point that writing is like making a date with your writer self.  Your writer self will never get to the date before you do, but if you show up first (by sitting down to write), she might show up.  She may be a few minutes late, but you can only write when you give yourself the chance.
  • “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” from Hamilton: I’m as big of a book nerd as I am a Hamilton nerd and listening to the last song of the musical always inspires me to open my computer and write.  This song is about your legacy: you may never know your impact, but what are you going to do today to make sure that you leave something to outlive you?
  • Watching Jane the Virgin: This may seem counterintuitive, but watching Jane the Virgin inspires me to write because Jane, the protagonist and an aspiring writer, is always writing her novel in the show.  Watching Jane write makes me want to write as well (and her baby daddy is a total hunk, so that’s definitely a reason to watch).

If you are ready to write but don’t know what to say, then the endgame is clear: figure out what to write…and then write it.  Easy, right?

Wrong.  Figuring out what to write is hard.  There are millions upon millions of possibilities to choose from and even after choosing possibilities, you have to decide how each possibility will influence your novel as a whole.  No pressure, though.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you don’t know what to write next:

  • What is the absolute worst thing that could happen to my character at this moment?  Peril, however unpleasant in real life, makes a fabulous story, so throw your protagonist a curveball or two and watch them flounder to recover.
  • What wouldn’t happen next?  Look at your protagonists situation and start narrowing down the possibilities.  Deciding what wouldn’t come next might lead you to what should come next.
  • Is my character where he/she is supposed to be?  If I’m unsure of where to go next, I backtrack one chapter and decide if my protagonist is in the right place at the right time.  If I envision her somewhere else, I backtrack 1,000 words or so and rewrite so she goes where I need her to go.  Looking back at old material while writing can be dangerous, but sometimes we have to take two steps back before we can take fifty-seven steps forward.

If those questions didn’t get you thinking, here are some tactics that I use to get the creative juices flowing:

  • Skip ahead:  I’m the worst about this, but sometimes I get so excited to write a particular scene…but have write a gateway scene that isn’t nearly as much fun.  Leave a note for yourself, come back to it later, and start writing something that excites you.
  • Set a timer for five minutes and write without thinking:  Open a blank document and type every thought that comes into your head.  You may end up with a document full of gibberish, but you may end up with your next plot point.
  • Take a break.  Or don’t:  If you need to step away from your computer for a hot second, then do it.  If you need to put on your big girl pants and write through it, then do it.  You know yourself and your writing process, so decide if absence will make the heart grow fonder or is you just need to write through the pain.
  • Read a book you don’t like:  This one’s a little weird, but it works.  If I pick up a book I know I hate, then I start thinking about the ways in which I could improve upon it.  I’d move this plot point here, cut this chapter, kill off this character… and next thing you know, you’ve got an idea.
  • Whatever you do, don’t quit:  If you decide to push a project to the side because you can’t think of what to write next, that’s okay.  Maybe you’re meant to let it go for now because you’ll get a fabulous idea later.  Whatever happens, don’t quit for good.  Decide that you’re not writing that piece right now, but you’re still leaving it open.  Don’t burn any bridges.

What is your approach to writer’s block?  What are your weird writer’s block fixes?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 followers to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House

As y’all know, there is little I love more than giving book recommendations and rereading Harry Potter.  So today, I’m going to give book recommendations based on your Hogwarts House!  Fun, right?

Let’s kick this thing off and start with the infamous favorite: Gryffindor is the house of the daring and brave.  It values chivalry and strength in battle, but can also come with some arrogance and a tendency to be aloof.

For this house, I went with I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  This book is about an alien, who looks suspiciously human, who is sent to Earth to escape the perils of his ravaged planet.  Nine children were sent, all interconnected, and were protected so that they could only be killed in order.  One, Two, and Three have died.  Our protagonist is Number Four.  This book screams Gryffindor because of its thrilling action and quick pace.  The protagonist, who goes by the pseudonym John Smith, has an arrogance about him but suppresses it for his love interest, Sarah, and works to save himself and those he loves.  Totally Gryffindor, right?  You can get a copy of I Am Number Four here.

Ravenclaw is the house of the wise and clever.  Members of Ravenclaw value wisdom, creativity, intelligence, and knowledge but can be a little quirky or odd.

If you’re a Ravenclaw, I’d recommend reading A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro.  Beside the fact that the cover totally screams Ravenclaw, the wit and dry humor in this novel captures the wild intelligence of Sherlock himself.  A Study in Charlotte follows Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, the descendants of the original investigative pair, as they try to debunk a murder on their boarding school campus while simultaneously trying to clear their names.  I have a full review of A Study in Charlotte coming soon, so keep a sharp lookout for that in the next few weeks.  You can get a copy of this book here.

Hufflepuff is the house of the patient and kind.  This house’s main tenets are hard work, dedication, fairness, and loyalty but have the reputation of being the “nice house” that won’t stand up for itself.

I’m slightly partial to this house because I myself am a Hufflepuff, so I picked a really good one for my housemates: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.  Everything, Everything is the story of housebound Madeline, adorable boy-next-door Olly, the understandable sparks that fly between them, and the things that go horribly wrong.  This book gave me that warm-and-fuzzy feeling from cover to cover, so I think it’s perfect for someone who is a little bit warm-and-fuzzy as well.  I have a full review of Everything, Everything  posted here if you’d like to know a little bit more about the book as well as read why I think this book is so stellar.  You can get a copy of the book here.

And finally, Slytherin.  Slytherin is the house of the cunning and prideful and values ambition, determination, intelligence, and resourcefulness.  Despite the reputation of being the “evil house,” Slytherins are not all evil but can be arrogant and aloof.

For all ye Slytherins out there, I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  This book is about Offred, a handmaid to the Commander and his sterile wife responsible for bearing them a child, and describes Offred’s life.  The tone of this book is so cold it could crack stone, just like a Slytherin’s determined stare.  If you belong to this house or just want to take a walk on the dark side, you can get a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale here.

What is your Harry Potter House?  What other books would you recommend for your fellow house members?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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Annie’s July Favorites

Hello, y’all!  There’s nothing that I love more than watching favorites videos on YouTube (except, you know, writing), so I thought I’d try my hand at it and share some word-related and non word-related products that I’ve been loving this month.  I’m currently obsessed with…

  • Amazon Echo Dot: I purchased one of these little gadgets for my dorm room, but ended up putting it in my room at home because I’m obsessed!  Alexa is like a personal assistant: she plays music, she sets timers and alarms, she plays games, she’s just a good time.  For the quality of the Echo Dot, the cost is totally worth it.  You can get your own Alexa here.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro: Will there ever come a day when I don’t rave about this book?  Highly unlikely.  A Study in Charlotte is a retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes and John Watson mystery, but focuses on their descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson.  I love the dry wit and humor in this book and appreciate how the characters are shown with flaws.  I purchased my copy from Book Depository for a great price.
  • ShaelinWrites on YouTube: I recently discovered this fabulous YouTube channel run by Shaelin Bishop and am obsessed!  Shaelin’s videos are incredibly informative and address issues and ideas in writing with clarity and poignancy.  She has fabulous videos for writing, reading, editing, and general inspiration.  You can check out Shaelin here.
  • Telephone cord hair ties:  Y’all know how much I love a good scrunchie, but I was a bit skeptical when I ordered a few of these hair ties off of Instagram.  However, these ties put my doubts to rest almost instantly.  They stretch like nobody’s business but always come back to their original shape, meaning that they take a lot of weather and wear.  For a girl with thick hair like me, they’re perfect.  You can get some of your own here (and if you love scrunchies as much as I do, you can get my favorite ones here).
  • Lavender essential oil: The smell of lavender knocks me out, so I roll a little bit on my wrists, under my chin, and on my temples before bed if I’m not quite ready to go to bed yet.  This stuff is practically a recipe for instant sleep.  I use doTerra oil because they have great policies on the purity of their oils.  While it’s on the pricier side, the cost is well worth it: you can get the lavender rollerball that I use here.
  • John Mayer: This isn’t a new favorite for me, but John Mayer’s soft rock has been my favorite to listen to this past month.  I love the tenderness and power in his lyrics–they’re almost like stories in and of themselves.  I’m going to see him in concert in a few weeks (which I am super excited about!) so maybe that’s why I’m craving his music.

Are any of my favorites also your favorites?  What new stuff should I try this month?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

Okay, that’s all 🙂

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Annie Likes Words Has 500 Followers and is Freaking Out About It! // Q&A + Giveaway

As the title of this post suggests, I’m currently freaking out!  A beautiful little notification popped up on my phone today that said I have 500 followers, which is why I’m freaking out.  Have I mentioned that I’m freaking out?

If you are reading this post, thank you.  If you have ever visited my site, thank you.  If you chatted with me over on Twitter, thank you.  If you have ever left me a comment, thank you.  If you stuck around long enough to subscribe to this little blog of mine, thank you.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

In truth, I never thought this site would get off the ground.  For a little while there, it felt like I was shouting into the void and I was so scared that no one would ever care about what I have to say.  In spite of my insecurities, I was never shouting into the void.  From the very beginning, I had a readership built on people who love to read and write and think that I have good things to say.  You comment and like and follow and subscribe and read and these are gifts.  Every time you look at one of my posts, every time you leave me a message in the comments, my heart smiles.

Thank you.

So let’s celebrate in style, shall we?

To commemorate this blog and you, the people who read it, I’m going to post another Q&A filled with your questions and my answers.  If you have a question for me, go ahead and drop me a comment here or on my Twitter and I’ll give you an answer soon!

The second part of this celebration is my very first giveaway!  I’ll be sending one lucky winner an adapted version of my Writing Survival Kit that I described a few weeks back in this post.  As much as I’d love to send all of you a clean desk and a Spotify playlist, I’m not a genie (yet).  However, I will send you:

  • A copy of A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • 1 book of your choice from Book Depository ($15.00 US limit)
  • 1 hand-lettered print featuring a quote of your choice from Alliteration Lettering
  • 3 customized bookmarks from Alliteration Lettering
  • 2 Mead FiveStar spiral-bound college-ruled notebooks
  • 1 pack of BIC RoundStic blue pens

The giveaway ends August 18th, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST and is US only.  To find out how you can enter this giveaway, head over to Rafflecopter here and get those entries going!  There are lots of different ways you can enter and the more tasks you do, the more entries you have and the more likely you are to win!  Fun, right?  Well, I’m having fun.

Finally, I have a pretty little survey that I want you (yes, you) to complete.  If you complete the survey and confirm the completion on Rafflecopter, you automatically get FIVE entries!  So, what are you waiting for?

I am beyond blessed to have such an amazing group of people reading my posts.  Thank you a million times over for everything you have done.  I started this blog unsure that I was ever going to be a writer and I’m standing (well, sitting) here today, confident that if/when I get published, I’ll have 500 people who will want to buy my book.  I’d say that’s a pretty good place to start.

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11 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer

As you can tell, I was pretty irate while writing this post and I’m not even published yet.  (I have to say “I’m not even published yet” because I’m trying to be positive after writing this excessively salty post).  Putting my personal vendettas aside, here is a comprehensive list of eleven things you should never say to a writer:

  1. Can you make me a character in your book? Um no. A few years ago, a girl at my school asked me if she could be a character in my book and I named my villain after her. Don’t ask a writer if you can be in her book unless you want to become the bad guy.
  2. Am I a character in your book? If you’re asking me this, it probably means you annoy me. So, yes, you probably are.
  3. Can I have a free copy? Writing is a job. You wouldn’t ask a doctor for a free exam, so don’t ask a writer for a free book.
  4. How much money do writers make? You have to be joking.
  5. I have this amazing idea for a book and I think you should write it. Trust me, I’ve got enough ideas bouncing around my head to last a lifetime.
  6. Can I read your book?  You can buy my book like the rest of the population.  Until then, shoo.
  7. I found a typo in your book. Great. Thanks for rubbing my errors in my face.  As if my fear of publishing a subpar book and the corresponding anxiety weren’t enough.
  8. No, like what do you actually do?  Do you know how close I am to throwing an uncapped pen at your face right now?
  9. I could be a writer too if I only had the time.  Believe me, honey: we have no more time than you in the day.  If you really want to write a book, stop talking to me and go write a book.
  10. Your job is so easy.  HA.  Yeah, tell that to my sleep deprivation.
  11. Why isn’t your book finished yet?  You know, I’ve been asking myself the same question since I started the damn thing.  Thanks for reminding me.

What else should you never say to a writer?  Has anyone ever said these things to you?

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What Annie Read: Eleanor and Park Book Review

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Goodreads Synopsis:


Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

I rated Eleanor and Park 5/5 stars.

For a reason that I cannot quite explain, I was skeptical about this book.  I had absolutely no reason to be, but I was nonetheless.  Maybe the hype was a little too much for me and my cynical side made me think that the book wasn't worth the hype.  I really don't know.

Regardless, this book blew my expectations out of the water.  For this first time in a long time, I was uncomfortable.  Every word, every sentence was pure poetry so it wasn't an unpleasant reading experience, but this book pushed my boundaries and forced me to fall in love with an awkward teenage romance that was doomed from the start.  I had to imagine the main characters for who they were: an awkward, self-proclaimed "fat girl" with red hair and a random sense of style, and a skinny, short Asian-American boy who likes to wear eyeliner.  I had to embrace them for their quirks in the same way that they embraced each other and not dreamcast them to be "prettier" than they were.

The strengths in this book lie in the characters themselves.  Eleanor and Park, our leading gal and guy, were phenomenal.  (When I was writing this, I actually had to pause and think about a word I could use that would capture the explosiveness of their character development.  That's how phenomenal they were.)   They were so well-defined while also so ambiguous that they might honestly be some of my favorite characters.  Ever.  Do you know how many books I've read?  Saying that they're some of my favorites really means something.

What I also loved about Eleanor & Park was the reality in their intertwined stories.  There was no sugar-coating here: the story was raw and real and painful and beautiful and a million different adjectives at a million different times.  When Rowell wanted us to root for them, she crafted the story so we would root for them.  When Rowell wanted us to scream with frustration, she crafted the story so we would scream with frustration.  Every word was purposeful and carried a palpable intention.

As aforementioned, the plot made me uncomfortable in the best way possible.  I love me a contemporary novel, but I prefer to stick to books that I know will have a happy ending, or at least a comfortable resolution.  I had no such luck with this book and that was okay with me.  I felt that the plot had an ease about it that just made sense.  With this natural flow, we sometimes entered treacherous waters filled with bitter realities, but I didn't mind.  The plot was a reflection of, get this, life.  In this reflection, I found so much beauty and fulfillment that I wouldn't have experienced had the plot been filled with fluff.

Overall, this book was a knockout.  If you have a pulse and want to read a fabulous book, this one is for you.  Eleanor & Park is a book of the highest caliber and I'm sure I'll be ranting about its fabulousness for a long, long time.

Have you read Eleanor & Park?  What did you think of it?

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Annie’s July Update

Hello, friends!  Today I’m going to share a little bit about my month in terms of what I read, what I wrote, and what I did with my life other than obsessing over literature.  Let’s do this.

This month I was a good little reader.  I finally caught up to my Goodreads challenge and am feeling pretty stellar about it.  I went on a road trip with my church this month, which allowed for some fabulous uninterrupted reading time to knock several of these books out.  I read or finished reading:

My reviews for the last few books are on the way, so sit tight and they’ll be up in a few days!  If you want to know what books I purchased and received this month, you can check out my July Book Haul here.

In addition to reading like a champ, I also wrote like a champ.  Taking that church trip also gave me the opportunity to write off the grid for a week and my brain went wild with ideas.  According to my last update, my novel was at 45,000 words as of the first of July–it’s now 55,000 words.  Writing 10,000 words in a month is unheard of for me, so I’m pretty damn proud of myself for dedicating the time to my craft and continuing to work on my novel.

Just for some perspective on my word count capabilities, I wrote 25,000 words during my first semester and 10,000 words during my second semester (you can read about my independent study in Novel Writing, which allowed me to write all of these words, here).  It took me five months to write 10,000 words, but I managed to write 20,000 between graduation and now.  Like I said: unheard of.

In other news, I cut my hair this month!  It used to be thick, curly, and almost down to my belly button.  Well, the thick and curly thing is still a thing, but I cut it right above my shoulders for a kind of Rapunzel-after-Flynn-cuts-her-hair vibe when I wear it naturally wavy.  I’m still getting used to the feeling of the ends of my hair on my neck.

I don’t have any pictures of my hair (sorry!) BUT believe me when I say it looks good.  At least I think it looks good.

I’m also planning a giveaway once I reach 500 followers!  The giveaway will be held over on my Twitter, so head on over and follow Annie Likes Words on Twitter so you’ll have the inside scoop about how to win some stellar reads and book-related stuff.

That’s it for this short and sweet monthly update!  I’ll conclude with some links to my favorite posts from this month:

How was your month in reading and writing?  What should I read next?

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