Saturday, October 15, 2016

2016 RONE Awards

As previously established, I suck at blogging, but have a bit of news that bears mentioning! So I come to you, dear readers, from the land of Hermits and Introverts, to announce that last week, The Sirens of Falkeld took home the 2016 RONE award in the YA Paranormal category! 

Can I get a "WUT, WUT"?!


First and foremost because I KNOW that the calibre of talent of the other nominees was top notch. (Here's lookin' at you, Barbara Kloss!... If you haven't checked out Barb's work, you need to. The girl writes a mean fantasy!) So it's quite the compliment to take home the gold when up against such epic talent. 

Secondly, because it was the first book competition I've ever been nominated for... AND I WON! (Whaaat?!) That's gotta be a good omen, right? (I'm gunna say it is...) I was lucky enough to be able to attend the actual awards ceremony in Burbank, CA and I gotta say, it was a blast. T.J. Mackay and the staff of InD'Tale were such a pleasure to be around. I'm so grateful that the planets aligned for us to meet. It was a wonderful night! 

Thanks to InD'Tale Magazine for making it all happen, to my hunky husband for... well... everything, and most especially to all of you, dear ones, for voting for Sirens in the reader's choice round, and for all your incredible love and support thorough this journey! Here's to many more successes to come, eh? *fingers crossed* 

XO, Julie

Monday, February 22, 2016

Best Books of 2015

Listen, folks. Regular blogging might be a problem for me. It's true. In the world of Amazing Bloggers, I may or may not be a hit and miss in the dark... the twice-a-year-post kinda blogger... the person you've totally forgotten about because the moment I started raising a child, suddenly life was all "HOW DO PEOPLE HAVE TIME TO WRITE AND RAISE OFFSPRING??" and yoga pants and copious amounts of a caffeine...

BUT all those failed posts aside, getting my yearly "Five Best Books" post down has never been a problem. I guess I like hearing myself talk about favorites. Sue me. So although it's February, and long past the acceptable time frame for: I'm-so-late-but-I'm-doing-this-anyway, I give you, my 2015 All Stars (in no particular order):

1. All the Stars in the Sky, Sarah Lyons Fleming

Cassie Forrest has sworn she’ll never let the world get the best of her again. 

She’s chosen to believe everything will be all right. 

But on a journey filled with heartbreak and madness and zombies, Cassie and her friends must struggle to stay alive—and it’s hard to believe in a future when survival seems unlikely.

Speaking of STARS (hardy, har!)... All the Stars in the Sky totally rocks the zombie apocalypse universe, you guys. In fact, you might have noticed that Sarah was on my All Star Team for 2014 as well. What can I say? This chick-a-dee is like an oracle. I devoured this book... TWICE... and could easily pick it up for round three with no problems whatsoever. This story isn't just about zombies... it's got a cleaver and machete stompin' story line too! And I'm in love. If you're in for an apocalyptic book that you CAN'T put down, try out this series! 

2. An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
I'm in love with everything about this book. 

This book kinda makes me wish I lived in back-in-the-day Rome. But only if it was like this... Dark magic, a school for bloodthirsty soldiers, a rising resistance, and a mom that makes every other evil step mother look like a chump, schoolyard bully. I loved every page!!

3. Tiger Lily, Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair...

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Perhaps it's because I, too, found myself irrevocably in love as a tender teen, and had my heart broken into a million tiny shards, but this book savaged my soul. "It's not for lack of loyalty," Tink says, as she looks back on the memories of youth that still feel like yesterday, "It is just that she was fifteen once for the first time, and Peter walked across her heart, and left his footprints there." 


Readers beware... it's not a strictly happy ending... but it IS the best kind of sad resolution. This is for anyone who ever had a broken heart!

4. Uprooted, Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I'm just gunna say it straight: Novik is basically the Queen of Poetic Writing. This book is so beautifully written, it kind of makes me sad I didn't write it. Magic, intrigue and a budding, unlikely romance, this story is flawless!

5. Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. 

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

This one actually kind of reminded me of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. It's like Ocean's 11 meets fantasy, and I loved it! Twists, turns and an intriguing multiple POV telling of the ultimate heist! But be warned: it's NOT a standalone. Yeah. Which is what I thought until the last page. At which point I almost lost it, knowing I'd have to wait for a sequel to find out what happens. Curse you, Leigh Bardugo! 

6. The Illuminae Files, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

What "Top Five" list of mine would be complete without an Honrable Mention!? I didn't specifically label it as such, however, on account of I couldn't decide WHICH of these should be demoted to a mere honorific status. So I guess that technically makes this my Top SIX Books of 2015, but tomato tomah-tow, right? HA!

I won't lie... I was totally skeptical about the Illuminae Files at first. The format is definitely unique, and I worried it'd turn me off the story.... Oh contrare! Just the opposite, my friends! The email/IM/text/photo format actually gave the story more of an impact. And FYI, it's  totally worth the hardcopy purchase, JUST for the visually stunning cover art. Just sayin'.

Don't be scared, you guys, give this one a try... you'll be glad you did!

And that's my list! 2015 was a fabulous year for reading, and 2016 is already keeping me busy, as I'm in the thick of things with Pierce Brown's Red Rising series. (Ohmyheart... AMAZING. You can bet it'll be on next year's list. Not even a question!) If you like these and wanna know what else I'm kickin' around, be sure to follow more of my reviews on Goodreads

So what about you, you perusers of my blog, you? What books totally knocked your socks off last year? I love a good recommend! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Release Day!

Short, sweet and to the point... 

IT'S FINALLY HERE! My book child, The Sirens of Falkeld, made its debut in the big wide world today! Three cheers and a WOOT, WOOT HALLELUJAH!! Ebook AND print copies are available on Amazon HERE. Fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races, and Margo Lanagan's The Brides of Rollrock Island will likely dig this... 

Kade Finley, of the Scottish Isles, was raised on legends of the sea. His Gaffer, Toran Finley said, that beneath Muireall’s wind-swept cliffs, deep under the waves, there lived a legend as old as the Highlands themselves. Of Manannán Mac Lir, the sea god, and his beautiful maighdean mhara, who swam the tides, luring sailors to their deaths. 

But they’re not just legend. 

Kade saw one on his ninth birthday. On that day, a fierce storm swallowed half the island, and his da, Aidan Finley, was never seen again. 

It’s been nine years since Da disappeared, and Gaffer is dying. 

Desperate to save him, Kade decides to capture a maighdean mhara, of whom the stories say will grant one wish if caught. But Admiral Gilbert Owen, commander of the island’s WWII naval base, complicates things. In his quest for power, the Admiral has enraged the maidens, making it dangerous to be human in maighdean mhara infested waters.

Happy reading, dear friends!! 

And now I shall go battle down the hatches and wait for the reviews.... *whimpers*... (no one actually tells you how nerve wracking this is... Just in case you didn't know? IT'S NERVE WRACKING). 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Final Countdown!

So.... my book is being released one week from today. WHAOOOOOOO! June 15th, everyone!!! That day is a very big day, Pascal! Most of the time, I'm over the moon to FINALLY be starting this process. Kinda like this:

But then there's those OTHER days... 

THIS ^^ half of me is point two seconds away from storming the digital mine fields of Amazon and ripping back every single 0 and 1 making up my book, protecting my work like a mamma bear defending her cubs. Because, this thing that I wrote? PEOPLE WILL BE READING IT. 


*breathes into paper bag*

Okay, so realistically, I know that the handful of people who will be reading my book for the next little while are peeps who are likely to still love me no matter if I fall on my face or not. BUT STILL. It does kind of send the freak out vibes into motion, knowing that this precious piece of MY SOUL will be in the hands of blood-thirsty reviewers. 

Oh gosh. Where's that paper bag again??

For now, I think I'm going to put on my big girl panties and go listen to that Fight Song again. Maybe that'll give me the courage to go slay some dragons next Monday. In the meantime, any of you battle-hardened self pub authors wanna give a newbie some advice? I'm all ears!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fight Song

Recently discovered this new song, and now I'm obsessed:

Doesn't it just make you wanna go write like a billion words and be amazing?!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Free ARCs! Going once... going twice...

Hello, fellow read-a-holics!

I am searching the kingdom, near and far for four or five brave souls to read and review my book--coming June 15th... EEEEeeek! *happy dance* You have all been so kind in the past, offering advice and support and much-needed cheerleading, that I thought I would see if any would like a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Here's a summary:

Kade Finley, of the Scottish Isles, was raised on legends of the sea. His Gaffer, Toran Finley said, that beneath Muireall’s wind-swept cliffs, deep under the waves, there lived a legend as old as the Highlands themselves. Of Manannán Mac Lir, the sea god, and his beautiful sea maidens, the maighdean mhara, who swam the tides, luring sailors to their deaths.

But they’re not just legend. 

Kade saw one on his ninth birthday. On that day, a fierce storm swallowed half the island, and his da, Aidan Finley, was never seen again. 

It’s been nine years since Da disappeared, and Gaffer is dying. 

Desperate to save him, Kade decides to capture a maighdean mhara, of whom the stories say will grant one wish if caught. But Admiral Gilbert Owen, commander of the island’s WWII naval base, complicates things. In his quest for power, the Admiral has enraged the maidens, making it dangerous to be human in maighdean mhara infested waters.

If you're willing, I'd gladly impart you with massive amounts of good karma, magic charms, luck potions, and, of course, a MOBI file for your handy dandy e-Reader. If interested, email me at: julietuovi (at) gmail (dot) com (no spaces) or just leave a comment below. 

As always, thank you for your kind words and encouragement! The online writing community is seriously the best. No joke. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday...

Hello, lovelies! 

Today I joined a blog event called "Waiting On" Wednesday, which is hosted over at Breaking the Spine, and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. As I'm constantly on the lookout for delicious new books to read, naturally, I thought this was a smashing idea. Bring on the books!!

My chosen pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection TECHNICALLY came out just yesterday, so I know, I know--it's already published. But Since it was JUST yesterday, and I haven't read it yet, I figured I'd put it up anyway:

End of Days, Susan Ee

End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee’s bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other? 

You guys, I love this series in a bad way. I randomly picked Angelfall up in the store one time, not having any idea what to expect--and was hooked by page 2. I then proceeded to devour the first two books, only to find out the third wasn't due out for a looooong time. (Gah! CURSES!) Anyway, if you haven't read this gem (which, incidentally, started out as a self pub-ed book... YEAH!) definitely check it out. You won't be sorry!!

What about you, lovely readers? Any wonderful books to recommend? (Anticipated OR published??) Lay 'em on me!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Rose by Any Other Name...

While perusing the internets the other day, I came across THIS article on the Huffington Post about authors who change their names.... even further, authors who change their sex! 

Okay, not ACTUALLY, but via pen name for sure.

Possibly the most famous to do so, is our beloved J.K. Rowling herself. I guess technically, she didn't do a complete overhaul on her name, but in the face of the big, scary, literary world, she DID opt for gender neutral initials. On her website, J.K. herself says this: 

"The use of a pen name was suggested by her publisher, Barry Cunningham. He thought that young boys might be wary of a book written by a woman, so Joanne chose ‘K’, for ‘Kathleen’, the name of her paternal grandmother."

My little feminist feathers get a little ruffled when I hear this. I mean, WHY SHOULD IT MATTER if the author is male or female? Harry would have sold either way, right... RIGHT?! 

Okay. I hope he would have. But the truth is, you're right, I know that he might not have. 


But it isn't just lady authors changing their epithets to more masculine sounding names or initials. As the article points out, male authors do it too! (Which, by the way, I had no idea there even WERE incognito guys who wrote romance until I read this article.... which just goes to show how much I know, I suppose. Haha!) But it does make me wonder about the guys who write romance who DON'T change their names... 

... ahem... Nicholas Sparks, anyone?? 

I mean, if there was ever a person to write a better romantic, sappy, cheese dripping novel, I haven't heard of this person. (And I'm totally not mocking, by the way... I love me some Nicky Sparks just as much as the next gal!) But Nicholas Sparks... he's a GUY!! I wonder if HE ever gets irked that he's a man trying to his hawk his wares in the female dominated market of literary romcom? And I wonder if he ever considered changing HIS name (I mean... you know... back BEFORE Nicholas Sparks was Nicholas Sparks...) It makes you wonder what his secret is... HOW he sells chick books to chicks so successfully when he's was a guy... And if his agent ever had a similar J.K. Rowling conversation with him in those pre-publishing days.  

Anyway, I suppose in the end, if we can't expect people to NOT judge a book by it's cover, then we can't very well expect them not to judge names either, right? 

What are your thoughts? Do YOU use a pen name? Why or why not? 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Self Publishing . . . here I come!

Well... I'm finally doing it. I'm self publishing! 


My book, The Sirens of Falkeld, is already available for pre order on Amazon (HERE, if you're interested), and will be coming out June 15th. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?!!!

You guys. Despite all the extra stress and work... I'm actually crazy excited about this! Which is weird, cause, I'll be honest... self publishing wasn't exactly an avenue I originally considered for myself. Because it kinda has a stigma... you know? (Come on. I KNOW you know.) The stigma that "Well obviously she wasn't good enough to publish the REAL way, soooo .." << Yeah. THAT one. 

I admit. I bought into that sentiment for a long time.

*ducks the rotten tomatoes* 


Over the years, I've gotten to know many self published writers--a few of which have become very good friends!! They're brilliant wordsmiths. Their books are amazing. And they are SO courageous!! Though them, I quickly began to see self publishing in a very different light. (Though, it still took me a little while to work up the courage to do it myself!) 

Listen, you guys. The industry is changing. Amazon and its e-book warriors are causing a massive shake up in the publishing world. And WHO KNOWS where things will all end up? Isn't it exciting?! I think so! I loved what THIS Forbes article had to say about things. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do! It wasn't like this article made my decision for me or anything. But it DID help tip me over the edge solidly into "Yes, this is the path for me!!" territory!

That and a couple of really awesome already-well-on-their-way-to-greatness self pub-ed authors (ahem, here's lookin' at you, Barb and Sarah!) who were incredibly inspiring and who bent over backwards to help me in my own process!! (Thanks ladies... you're AMAZING!!)

So I'm doing it. I'm self publishing. Already, I love having the final say in what goes into my work . . . I love designing the cover art . . . I love not having to worry about freakin' word counts . . . I love that I don't have to wait three years to see my work out there . . . I love, love, LOVE that I'm going to be able to start getting readers NOW!! It's all so exciting, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it! 

Goodbye query letters, hello readers!! 

What are your thoughts on self publishing, dear readers? Are you as excited about all the industry changes as I am? 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Best Books of 2014

And by "year in review" what I really mean is "review-of-the-books-I-read-while-I-wasn't-writing-blog-posts." Cause, ya know. If you look, I'm pretty sure I've only written like THREE since 2013's "year in review." Pa-thetic. 

On the brights side though, wanna know what ISN'T pathetic? These top five books I'm a gonna share with you. Nope. Not even a little! So without further adieu, I give you, my top five (as always, in no particular order):

Angelfall, Susan Ee

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

The Aviator's Wife, Melanie Hauser

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.

Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.
Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure. 

The Stranger and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Until the End of the World, Sarah Lyons Fleming

Cassie Forrest isn't surprised to learn that the day she’s decided to get her life together is also the day the world ends. After all, she’s been on a self-imposed losing streak since her survivalist parents died: she’s stopped painting, broken off her engagement to Adrian and dated a real jerk. Rectifying her mistakes has to wait, however, because Cassie and her friends have just enough time to escape Brooklyn for her parents’ cabin before Bornavirus LX turns them into zombies, too. 

This is difficult enough, but Cassie’s tag along ex-boyfriend and her friend’s bratty sister have a knack for making everything, even the apocalypse, more unpleasant. When the two attract a threat as deadly as the undead to their safe haven, Cassie’s forced to see how far she’ll go to protect those she loves. And it’s a lot farther than she’d anticipated. This, coupled with Adrian’s distant voice on Safe Zone Radio and, of course, the living dead, threaten to put Cassie right back into the funk she just dragged herself out of. 

Survival’s great and all, especially when you have leather armor, good friends and home-brewed beer, but there’s something Cassie must do besides survive: tell Adrian she still loves him. And to do that, Cassie has to find faith that she’s stronger than she thinks, she’s still a crack shot and true love never dies. 

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Runner up (Because seriously, its painful picking only five… I gotta give myself a LITTLE leeway…)

Wonder, R. J. Palacio

You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

And, like the Razzies, my year round up just wouldn't be the same without giving a big shout out to my Biggest Disappointments too. Here's to you, my face-palming, eye-clawed-out, head-banged-against-the-wall books… Give it up for:

Into the Still Blue, Veronica Rossi
Fever, Lauren DeStefano 
The Darkest Minds, Alexandra Bracken

Better luck next time, dearies ( ;

And there ya have it: my literary year. It's a wrap.

Also, you may or may not have noticed a bit of a pattern in my reading (don't worry if you didn't… it took me all of 28 years to realize this about myself)… 

I like sad books. 

I mean, it's not like I don't like happy ones too, but as I was perusing my collection for happy books to lend my sister-in-law (who's daughter is undergoing cancer treatments), I found that the number of truly happy books in my collection was LITERALLY in the single digits. 

What does that meeeeeean??! It's like I'm in love with human tragedy or something!! Ack!! Even my top five did not escape unscathed! With the exception of maybe Angelfall and Wonder, ALL of them are pretty weepy books. (And even Angelfall and Wonder could be classified as sad in their own rights). 

Sheesh. Despress-o-bot here. 

But you know what? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that it's okay to like sad stuff. Because, lets be honest… so many of "The Greats" are filled with melancholy and gloom. I mean, they aren't called the "Greek Tragedies" for their humor, right? Also, I'm pretty sure Shakespeare didn't have a happy bone in his body. (An over exaggeration, I am aware. But you get the idea). The Great Gatsby . . . Scarlet Letter . . . Uncle Tom's Cabin . . . sheesh, my entire AP high school reading list was one, long, tear-stained tragedy. 

And yet, here we are… WE LOVE THIS SAD SHIZ!!!!

Maybe there's just something in human nature that is drawn to tragedy. Like a car accident on the side of the road, or the news we just can't pull our eyes from. Sad books makes us FEEL. They speak to our souls and leave scars on our hearts. They stick with us until the end . . . haunting us with "What if's" as we lay our heads on the pillow at night. They are the best because they are timeless. In reading them, we recognize our own deepest struggles. Reflections of ourselves. And we discover company in traveling those roads with our dear characters, perhaps making us feel not-quite-so-alone in our own private struggles. So maybe that's why the saddest stories are the ones that stick with us the longest. We can relate to them, because just to be human, is often times one great tragedy. 

Then again, maybe it's just me. And maybe I do need psychiatric help. You be the judge ( :

And on that deep note, I shall leave you! Please, feel free to leave comments about YOUR favorites from 2014… the best, and--if you feel so inclined--the worst, too! I always love a good recommendation!