Boston Teen Author Festival

Saturday September 26th I went to the Boston Teen Author Festival. This annual, full day event was held at the Cambridge Public Library and Porter Square Books was the local bookstore selling books at the event.

I was super excited to attend this event because they had an all-star list of author participating at the event with some pretty cool panel topics.

This was my first time ever visiting Harvard Square and the Cambridge Public Library. I was really impressed with how large the library was and how cool its Stone/Glass structure was. I also really loved how this was clearly a community space, there were people lounging, meditating, and playing on the grass out front.

So, here is my recap of the event, I apologize in advance, but this is going to be a really long post.

The doors opened at 10:00 AM, I am so glad I got there early! I started by purchasing the books I knew I wanted. At 10:30 AM there was an Intro Panel with all of the authors. There was a sort of rapid fire Q&A during which I learned a few fun things:

  • Leigh Bardugo is an official member of the George RR Martin fan club and is knighted.
  • Renee would ship Shahrzad with with the Darkling.
  • Leigh would ship Alina with Edward Cullen.
  • Melissa would ship Echo with Kaz (6 of Crows) and Kell from A DArker Shade of Magic.

I chose to attend the Inspired By Panel in the morning featuring: Renee Ahdieh, Zoraida Cordova, Kody Keplinger, Mackenzi Lee, Kekla Magoon, Diana Renn, and Cindy L Rodriguez. The room was PACKED, the seats quickly filled up and then there was standing room only, I ended up sitting on the floor near the front.

This panel was super inspiring! I loved listening to the authors. Renee Ahdieh's book, The Wrath and the Dawn, was obviously inspired by Arabian Nights, but I had no idea that she also drew inspiration from Beauty and the Beast and the Count of Monte Cristo. When asked about taking liberties while writing, she mentioned that a great loophole is having magic or writing fantasy.

I had never heard of Cindy L Rodriguez, but her book, When Reason Breaks, was inspired by Emily Dickinson. I thought it was really interesting to listen to her talk about a course she took on Dickinson and how there are a few characters inspired by Dickinson (each one with the initials ED). I also really loved that she wanted to write a YA book that dealt with depression and showed a character who survives attempted suicide.

Mackenzi Lee is another author  had never heard of and she quickly caught my attention when she described her book, This Monstrous Thing, as steampunk Frankenstein. I loved hearing the passion in her voice while she was speaking about her book. She told us that part of her inspiration for this story was from the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley and that writing a book set in a very specific year was extremely challenging. Listening to her talk about the book, piqued my interest so much that I purchased her book during the break.

I think my favorite quotes from the session came with the last question: What makes your retelling different from others?

  • Zoraida Cordova, author of The Vicious Deep, started out my stating the obvious: that she had a merman instead of a mermaid. But then she started talking about the two theories of mermaid (are they fish or mammals?) and she said that she personally believes mermaids are mammals "otherwise Ariel's seashells are kinda pointless".
  • Renee Ahdieh started out by talking about how if every person in the room was given a prompt for a story we would all write something different and then she summed it up by saying "because it was written by me".

In the afternoon, I attended The Craft panel featuring: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Leigh Bardugo, AC Gaughen, Melissa Grey, Kendell Kulper, Kim Liggett, and Sara Raasch. Seriously, how do they get so many authors to sit on a panel together?! I took pages of notes, so I am just going to select some of my favorite bits from the session to share with you.

1. How do you create character voice?
KL: Likes to play with inner voice vs outer voice
MG: Think o your characters as people. admitted to daydreaming as her characters
KK: Writes practice scenes because she needs to find the voice before writing
LB: In the first draft most characters don't have strong voices, she develops that in the following drafts. She also uses music to help channel a character when writing different point of views.

2. How do you create a magic system and what is your preference between soft magic and hard magic? How do you write exposition without boring your reader?
LB: Asked herself "What happens when you bring a gun to a magic fight?" which is how the magic system in the Grisha Triology was developed. She also wanted to know "Why don't we just shoot Voldermort?!"
SR: Her editor made her write an essay outlining and defining the magic system of her series
KL: "I like it soft, my editor likes it hard"

3. How do you write exposition without boring your reader?
LB: Uses a screenwriting test and asks herself "how would I show this on the screen?"
ACG: Limits herself to the characters' perspective and focuses on what is important to her characters
AAR: Relies on her beta readers and editor, she starts with a lot and then pars it down 

4. What is it like to work in a pre-established world and magic system?
LB: It is a tricky balance to refresh the memory of the reader, you don't always realize the challenges you've created for yourself
ACG: Loves returning to characters and settings, but it's also a labor of love
MG: it's comfortable, but the challenge is that you need to raise the stakes
KL: it's not easy because if you did your job then you blew everything up and your characters have changed

After the sessions, there was a signing with all of the authors. I purchased Shadow and Bone and Lion Hear even though I have the e-books because I really wanted to meet AC Gaughen and Leigh Bardugo. I also pre-ordered Six of Crows and got a poster and bookplate.

AC Gaughen was super sweet and easy to talk to.
Leigh Bardugo was also really nice. She asked who my favorite character was and when I said the Darkling she added "Make me your villain" to the left page!
Amelia was so down to earth, when I mentioned that this was my first venture in her 17 book world, she added "Welcome to my world".

Renee Ahdieh was really nice and she had her own copy of The Wrath and the Dawn that she was asking readers to sign.
Mackenzi Lee had a really fun energy, she was really easy to talk to and she also had a copy of her book for readers to sign.

By the time I was finished getting my books signed I was crazy tired. It was an amazing day and I am so happy I went and got to chat with some really cool authors.

Shifter: City of Wolves - Blog Tour & Giveaway

Book & Author Details:
Shifter: City of Wolves by Avery Burch
Publication date: August 3rd 2015
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance

Other Stops on the Blog Tour
Synopsis: He'll risk anything to be inside me. I'm his fated mate.
What the hell am I thinking? I can't fall for a wolf. He's a criminal and an outcast. I'm an elite. If we get caught, they'll destroy us. I'll be disgraced. He'll be tortured and killed. But his wolf instinct has locked on me. He says I'm his fated mate. And every time we're alone together, he melts my heart ... and makes me so wet I'll risk anything to feel him throb inside me.
Everything they told me about fated mates is true. And that means I'm in a lot of trouble. I'm risking everything. As a shifter, I'm used to living on the edge. The regime wants me dead. But now it's so much more complicated. I'm obsessed with this girl. I can't get her out of my mind. I need to devour her, body and soul. I know I should resist, for her sake as much as my own, but I physically can't. My wolf lust has locked onto her. There's no way we get out of this alive, but one night inside her will be worth any punishment.

Author Bio
Avery Burch is a hot new paranormal romance author and her series, Shifter: City of Wolves is going to have a huge impact. She writes chilling tales of shifters and heart-wrenching stories of love and lust. If you like your romance spicy, your shifters sexy, your love stories intense, and your heroines passionate, then her books are for you.
She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


My namE is shay cartEr and i am a shiftEr.
I am no longer afraid to say it. That fear is gone. Years on the road, hunted by police, reviled by my people, tortured by enforcers, those things change a man. Make him hard. A darkness comes over him that even kids on the street notice. They stop smiling, look away, avoid eye contact. The small things hurt the most.
That’s why I was so taken by Zac. He didn’t look at me the way others did. He was just a boy, a young kid alone in the world, but he saw me for the man I could have been. He saw the good in me. He saw me as a father. And he saved my life. I’d spent so many years hunted as an animal, I no longer remembered what it was like to be a man. I was a beast, a monster. I killed. I maimed. I knew the taste of blood. I never surrendered, never turned myself in, and I paid the price.

But this isn’t my story. This is the story of the boy, my son, for I truly think of him as such. Zac is my heart, my soul, and I gave my all to raise and protect him. Now that my life is drawing to an end, I realize how fragile it is. I put my hopes 11 for the future in Zac, my own boy, and trust he will find the happiness I could only pray for.

Yes, pray.
I may be a monster, but I am a pious monster. God speaks through the strangest of creatures, and if He doesn’t speak through Zac, then damn Him, He never spoke at all.
So go, my son. Go to the city. Find who you are. Find where you came from. Find the bone that lies beneath the flesh, and the marrow deep within it. Test your mettle against the crooked old world.

And one day, many years from now, under the glassy spires of the greatest city on God’s green earth, find your sister. Find her and cling to her, hold her and protect her, love her as your own flesh and blood. I could never be the father to her that I was to you. She was taken before she ever knew me.

I imagine she never even knew my name, but I have not for- gotten hers. Years have passed, decades, and every single night as my watery eyes stare into the flames of the fire, her name rests on my lips—Lyla. My daughter. What was taken can never be returned.

Her name lies on my lips, as does her mother’s—the only woman I ever loved—the only person I ever cursed—Edith. Edith Caledon.

Tour Wide (INTL)
10 e-book copies of Shifter

Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Publication Date: September 1. 2015
Source: Purchased

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Summary from Goodreads: The queen has returned.Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Warning there may be SPOILERS for the first 3 books in the series!

I LOVE this series - it took me several days to sit down and write this review simply because I had so many feelings and thoughts to sort through.

When I started this book, I had an idea of where things were going to go, I mean it was pretty clear at the end of the last book, but somehow I was blown away. Plot twists, plot twists, plot twists - how does one human come up with and effortlessly execute so many plot twists?! Everything comes together - all those tiny, intricate details from the first three books start coming together in an unimaginable way. I am so glad that I reread the first three books before reading this one, and I highly recommend that you do the same.

Celaena has grown into a powerful woman, I honestly didn't think she had any growth left, and yet, we see her grow into s couple new roles. While Dorian and Choal are present in this book, they have also changed quite a bit. It broke my heart to see the differences between the three members of this once tight knit crew, but I trusted Maas and I do feel like she is doing all the right things as the author in order to tell the story that needs to be told. (And I know a lot of team Choal readers are upset that that ship has not only sailed but has sunk, but after rereading the series, I have to tell you that I am not suprised and I feel like Maas was true to her characters). Rowan's presence is not as strong as I would have liked it to be, I  am totally team Rowan and have been from his introduction. (Sidebar - I just want to point out that I LOVE the fact that Maas has chosen to let Celaena have multiple relationships in a naturally healthy way AND that she avoids instalove) I loved that Lysandra returned in this book, the development with her character is interesting and much needed.

While I was not a fan of Manon, I did find that I enjoyed her chapters much more in this book than the previous and she is starting to grow on me. I enjoyed getting to know Manon and her Thirteen better, especially Asterin. I was really, really interested with what was going on over there in Morath with Kaltain and Elide too.

This book had me going through SO many emotions. I felt like the plot moved at a good pace; there were some slow parts with lots of important information, and most of the action is at the end, but it worked for me. The ending is torturous simply because I must wait for the next installment!

Heir of Fire - Reread Review

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)
Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Purchased

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Summary from Goodreads: She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.
The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

So, most of this review is a restatement of my first review.

While I was blown away by this book for the second time, I think the thing that stood out to me the most as Celaena. I can't believe how much she grows into herself; her essence remained the same, but she grew and developed into a stronger, more bad-ass version of herself. While Celaena obviously experiences the most growth, the other characters also experience a lot of growth and have challenges to overcome. Again, I feel like I can't believe that I missed so many revelations of certain characters' true colors. The new characters were perfection. I wish I could talk more about them without giving away spoilers. I mean there is the obvious addition who I love to whatever end (see what I did there?) but there are also the minor characters who I love and think had a specific influence on Celaena and I hope they appear in future books. I wasn't crazy about the witches, to be honest I usually took a little break whenever  got to their portion of the story,but again, I can feel their importance.

I loved the plot of this book and feel like we learned a lot about the world that Celaena lives in. There is a heavier influence of fantasy elements in this book; given that this is my second time reading the books, I felt like this was the direction the series was meant to move in. I am also so grateful that we finally get the whole story about what happened 10 years ago. I am just blown away by the intricate weaving of details - I am amazed by Sarah J Maas' ability to write such a complex series.

Crown of Midnight - Reread Review

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Source: Purchased

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Summary from Goodreads:"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

For the second time, this book left me speechless. Celaena as the King's Champion is intense. While she is still true to herself, you can tell that she has built this wall in order to cope with her current job. She is so human to me. Celaena's relationships with Dorian, Chaol, and Nehemia change, develop, and grow. Since, I had already read this book and Heir of Fire, I knew the direction that these relationships were heading, however I found so much more depth with them this time around. In terms of character development, I can't believe how much I missed the first time around. I was so head over heels for Chaol that I missed so much that was revealed about who he is deep down. The development with Dorian and Nehemia were much more obvious.

The plot was intense and fast paced. Honestly, I felt like I enjoyed this plot more than that of Throne of Glass. There are SO SO SO many feelings that I have. So much happens in this book that is extremely important. And then the ending, I am so relieved that this time around, I was able to pick up Heir of Fire right away because that ending is like the ultimate cliffhanger.

Throne of Glass - Reread Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Source: Purchased

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Summary from Goodreads: In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

I loved this book just as much, if not more, the second time around. As with the first time I read this book, I immediately liked Celaena. She is fierce, strong, and flawed. There are times where I felt like she truly was an 18 year old girl and there were times that I felt like maybe she was older, but I felt like given her history this inconsistent behavior would be expected of any real person who lived Celaena's life. A lot of readers dislike Celaena because she knows she is beautiful, I actually find this refreshing about her. I love that she is who she is and doesn't apologize for it. The other key characters are fabulous. Dorien is a well developed character with lots of room for growth. You can't help but enjoy his company. Chaol is broody and difficult to read, but he is intriguing and totally the guy I would fall for if he was real. I loved Nehemia so much more with this read, she is interesting and her friendship is touching.

It has been quite a while since I read this book the first time around, I honestly couldn't believe how much I had forgotten about the plot. The plot moves at an excellent pace and has all the required elements to be a fabulous fantasy.

I also picked up on SO many details I missed the first read through that were immensely important for the books that follow. I couldn't believe how many hints were dropped early in the series. I highly recommend rereading the books!

September Update

Hello Wonderful Readers,

I apologize for coming back only to disappear again. Here's so information about where I've been and what I've been up to.

As most of you know, I finished my Master's Degree in May. At the same time I was also my sister's Maid of Honor. My sister got married abroad in August and had a reception at home this month. So basically I was the Maid of Honor for two weddings! Honestly, it was an AMAZING experience!!

And then, I also changed schools this year and have started teaching at a new school. I have been settling in and loving every minute of it.

While I've been busy, I have been reading. Unfortunately, my laptop and my husband's laptop broke and we were so busy that we JUST got around to getting a new one.

Hopefully I am back this time for good. Since, I am working at a new job, it's likely that I will be posting less often than I would like, but I'm still here!

Thank you again for your understanding and for continuing to be one of my wonderful readers!
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