Tag Archive: ya thriller

January, briefly

Fur baby, book baby, and human baby!

The year has started off on a good note! Aside from gray skies for most of the month, things have been decidedly cheerful. I’m back into a routine with writing and revising (I had been admittedly derailed by December festivities), and recently shared some amazing news… my husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of May! We’re very excited about the new addition to our family (and my beloved dog, Abby, is hopefully just as excited to be a big sister)! Aside from needing a bit more sleep than usual, I have felt fantastic through my whole pregnancy. Hopefully that continues!

This month, I have been…

Working on: I’m revising a YA thriller (my most recent NaNo project) and have used a couple new strategies to maximize revision efficiency. As a pantser, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed at the thought of tackling my messy first draft and trying to fix what isn’t working. This time, I read the entire manuscript before making any changes, which made a huge difference. I was able to pick out inconsistencies, plot potholes and craters, and threads that are mysteriously dropped or picked up. I also printed the manuscript off so that I have something physical to review and mark up, instead of trying to scroll back and forth on my tablet screen. These changes have gone a long way toward making me a more efficient reviser, so now maybe the urge to draft won’t be so tempting all the time!

Reading: The first book I finished in 2017 was Room by Emma Donoghue, a renowned author from the same city as me. Told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, who has spent his entire life in captivity with his mother, it’s a harrowing, heartbreaking, and brilliant perspective into what happens when living in one room turns into living in the world overnight. After reading it, I watched the movie, which was so well-acted!

I was lucky enough to read a copy of A.V. Geiger’s debut novel, Follow Me Back, ahead of its May release date. It’s a YA thriller and it’s so twisty and suspenseful! I’m pretty open about my love of a plot that will keep me guessing, and this one was not just surprising, but completely shocking. (That ending!)

Next was Flower by Shea Olsen and Elizabeth Craft. I got to know Shea last year, and had been anticipating her debut YA contemporary romance novel for so long. It definitely didn’t disappoint! I finished it in one weekend and stayed up past my bedtime, and for a sleepy pregnant lady, that’s saying a lot.

I finished off the month with a book that left me completely floored- Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. This one had so many twists and turns I did not see coming. It’s dark, sharp, and haunting and at times hard to read, but it left me thinking for a long time afterward, which is a sure sign of a very compelling read.

Watching: I used to be in denial about it, but I can now say without shame that I’m totally hooked on cheesy reality shows, especially The Bachelor. They’re my guilty pleasure when I just need to turn my brain off and not think. I was excited to tune into this season, and it already looks like it’s full of drama, so I’m sure I won’t miss an episode!

November, briefly

Being a writing buddy is exhausting!

Usually, November ushers in snow and cold weather and I start to get a case of the winter blahs. We have been especially lucky this month to have mild temperatures (for the most part), and I’m in much better spirits than I normally am at this time of the year. This November has been very productive and fun, and I owe a lot of that to the fact that I’m back in a solid writing groove.

This month, I have been…

Working on: Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I finished a (very sloppy) first draft of a YA contemporary thriller I have been conjuring up in my head for several months. I used this first draft to get to the heart of the story and show myself what it’s really about. As usual, my characters had different plans than I did, but for me as an author, those revelations are half the fun. Now that I have words on pages and know my characters better, I can work at refining the mess and getting the story to look on paper how it does in my head. Which is always the hardest part…

Reading: I finished two excellent Sweet Sixteen debuts: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson, and The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander. The former is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts, and I loved its creativity and how totally real the characters felt. The latter, about a girl haunted by the drowning death of her twin brother who begins to challenge her fears through freediving, is beautiful and haunting and evocative. I also read Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou, whose writing is in a league of its own. Her autobiographies are many things, but inspiring tops the list. I ended the month with Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, a book I had been eager to read, and it didn’t disappoint. I loved the humor and heart, and how relationships were portrayed– family bonds, friendship, and romantic love.

Watching: After hearing so many great things about Westworld, I knew I had to start the season and give it a try. (My husband was surprised I suggested it since I’m not usually a huge fan of sci-fi.) We were both sucked in right away by the totally imaginative concept, plot twists galore, and fascinating, multi-dimensional characters. I’m glad I ventured outside of my TV comfort zone!

I love Christmas, so I’m looking forward to all that December brings… picking out a tree and decorating it, wrapping gifts, spending time with friends and family, and eating all the holiday food! Wishing you all the best in the last month of 2016!

October, briefly

It’s hard to believe that the end of October is here! Fall has definitely come to Ontario, and the warm days have been replaced by cool weather and plenty of beautiful changing leaves. I have officially swapped my shorts for jeans and my flip flops for boots, candy has been consumed, and my dog may have tried on a few different Halloween costumes. As much as I tend to despise what’s coming (ahem… winter), I’m trying to focus on all the things I have to look forward to in hopes that the cold weather will be more bearable!

Perfect October viewing!

Perfect October viewing!

This month, I have been…

Working on: It’s almost Halloween, so what better project to undertake than a thriller? I have apparently had darkness on the brain lately. I’m currently playing around with a couple different ideas, so we’ll see which one sticks! I’m planning to fully commit to something in November, but I have a feeling some outlining will be required, because the twisty nature of thrillers doesn’t always mesh so well with my pantsing style.

Reading: I was lucky enough to start the month with Fear the Drowning Deep by fellow Sweet Sixteener Sarah Glenn Marsh. I have known Sarah since our days in the query trenches, so getting to read her gorgeous debut was a really amazing feeling! Sarah’s writing is absolutely luminous, and this story– about monsters lurking in the deep off the Isle of Man and the girl determined to stop them from harming her village– is unique and unforgettable.

I’m currently reading City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, which is incredibly captivating– it’s told from multiple perspectives and culminates around a blackout that happens in New York City in the summer of 1977. The writing is masterful and the characters feel so realistic. It’s the kind of book I want to take my time with, and it has been the perfect companion for chilly fall evenings.

Watching: My sister and I have an annual tradition of watching all of the Halloween episodes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (we watched the show religiously when it was on TV), along with the classics– Hocus Pocus and Teen Wolf. It’s not Halloween otherwise!

I have some exciting plans coming up for November, so I have a feeling it will be a great month– and if the snow can hold off, that would be even better. (I’m of the mindset that the only good kind of snow is Jon Snow…)

Spotlight on Sixteens: Genesis Girl

Genesis Girl by my Sixteen to Read sister Jennifer Bardsley is such an original, thought-provoking book. It’ll hit bookstores everywhere June 14, but you can read about it here first!

Some days, I feel kind of horrified by the influence technology holds over my life. I’m joined at the hip with my phone. My fingers are glued to my tablet. My iPod is on full blast. So I was immediately intrigued by the premise for Genesis Girl, which is set in a future where the aftermath of a brain cancer epidemic brought on by cell phones scared parents though to entrust their children to a leader who would keep them safe and technology-free. These children would grow up to be Vestals, and would have no Internet footprint. This makes them extremely valuable. Companies want them to advertise their products, knowing there is no chance that a Vestal could have a sordid backstory traceable online.

The main character in Genesis Girl is Blanca, a Vestal who is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Except instead of being on billboards and magazine covers selling soap, Blanca’s buyer, Cal, has a different idea. He wants her to act as his daughter, and help him gain a relationship with his estranged son, Seth, who is the total opposite of Blanca—technology-addicted and the operator of an online blog intent on exposing Vestals. But even though she’s fundamentally opposed to everything he stands for, Blanca finds herself falling for Seth, although she’d never admit it. When she starts to learn more about the Vestal leader and the secrets of her past are brought to the surface, Blanca must tap into the courage to do what she’s never been able to—think for herself, and make her own decisions.

Fast-paced and action-packed, this was a book I had a hard time putting down. I desperately wanted Blanca to claim the life Cal wants her to have, complete with freedom and the ability to do the things she wants to do. As a main character, she’s very intriguing—because of how she was raised, she has no idea what she wants in life or how to achieve it. Her journey to find herself is, for me, the most fascinating part of the story.

I love how completely original the concept of the story is. Jennifer Bardsley has envisioned a future wherein technology isn’t just at one’s fingertips, but in them, in the form of finger-chips. Blanca is disgusted with how dependent people are on technology. Having never been online, she’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s a commentary on our society today– how sometimes, it’s almost impossible to disconnect from our devices.

A thought-provoking, imaginative, and totally unique story—I’m looking forward to the sequel!

You can add Genesis Girl to your Goodreads bookshelf and preorder a copy!

Visit Jennifer Bardsley’s website to learn more about her!

Spotlight on Sixteens: Crossing The Line

Today, Crossing The Line by my Sixteen to Read sister Meghan Rogers has the spotlight… this thriller is out April 12 and you don’t want to miss it!

I have made my love of twisty plots no secret, but I definitely know how hard they are to write. It’s not easy to keep readers on the edge of their seats, to keep them always second guessing, to keep them from fully trusting some of your characters. To leave readers in that perpetual state of tension is a difficult feat indeed.

It’s also one that Meghan Rogers makes look easy in her debut, Crossing The Line. And that is a true measure of her talent.

Jocelyn Steely was kidnapped when she was just a little girl and made to work as a spy in North Korea. I won’t give anything away as to why she didn’t try to escape—but let’s just say it’s both shocking and very sad. When her agency sends her to infiltrate the group her spy parents once worked for in the United States, Jocelyn sees an opportunity for freedom—and to expose KATO, her North Korean agency, for its horrible practices and robbing kids like her of their childhoods. But Jocelyn doesn’t exactly get a warm welcome in the United States—especially not from the agent known as Scorpion, a boy she has faced off with in the field more than once. With barely anyone trusting her, Jocelyn has to finish what she started—and uncover new and unsettling information in the process.

As a heroine, Jocelyn is a total badass. I don’t just mean that because she’s a highly trained spy who literally kicks ass—she struggles with her inner demons too and has more emotional baggage than most people who live a whole lifetime. I totally loved her relationship with Scorpion, which was fraught with tension—at first, just distrust, then some serious chemistry. Seeing their tenuous bond get stronger was one of my favorite parts of the book. The pacing is perfection, with twists and turns around every corner, and Meghan’s writing style is so fluid and intelligent. I stayed up way too late reading this book on more than one occasion, telling myself “just one more chapter.” And that’s the mark of an unputdownable book.

Oh, and I definitely won’t give anything away—but the ending, folks. That ending. I cannot wait for the next book in The Raven Files series!

Add Crossing The Line to Goodreads and preorder a copy!

Check out Meghan Rogers’ website or visit her at Sixteen to Read!

Spotlight on Sixteens: AFTER THE WOODS

AFTER THE WOODS by Kim Savage will grace bookshelves everywhere with its dark beauty on February 23, but for Spotlight on Sixteens, I’m sharing my review of this incredible debut!

I was immediately intrigued after I heard the premise for this book. I love a good twisty plot, and it sounded like Kim Savage’s debut had just that. But I wasn’t prepared for just how twisty, just how deep and dark and gorgeous and terrifying this story would be. I wasn’t prepared to feel like I was getting yanked in by a pair of claws, unable to put the book down until I read just one more chapter. Even now, after turning the last page, what happened after the woods haunts my brain and hurts my heart.

AFTER THE WOODS is the story of two best friends, Julia and Liv. One year after they were attacked in the woods, they’re both living in the aftermath of what happened. Liv chose flight. Julia chose fight, and saved Liv in the process. But it’s not that clear-cut. After a girl’s body is found in the woods and Julia starts to piece together what happened, and as she faces memories of her time spent with her attacker, a whole new layer is exposed—a rotten layer, an underbelly even more grotesque than Julia could have imagined.

The friendship between Julia and Liv is so beautifully drawn. I loved the details about how close they were before the woods, and what changed for each girl. Julia is the kind of protagonist I feel lucky to have spent a book with. She’s whip-smart, perceptive, sarcastic but sensitive, and determined—determined to find out why her best friend is self-destructing after getting a second chance at life, determined to face her own fears, and most of all, determined to figure out why the woods happened at all.

This book is at times a thriller, at times a highly emotional contemporary, and at times, a puzzle with jagged edges that you’ll be increasingly desperate to put together. I was breathless with the desire to know what happened—as much as I wanted to savor Kim Savage’s incredible writing, I was flipping pages lightning-fast to figure out the mystery of what happened to Julia and Liv in the woods. And without giving anything away, I’ll say that this book was never once predictable. The plot twists had twists. And for this reason, AFTER THE WOODS is a book I will continue to think about for a long time.

Add AFTER THE WOODS to your Goodreads bookshelf here and preorder it here!

Visit Kim Savage’s website here!

Learn about other awesome Sweet Sixteens debuts here!

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