A Thanksgiving for the Books

Since my husband, daughter, and I are flying to Mexico very early tomorrow morning, we weren’t able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family members who live hours away.

So instead, I decided it would be fun to imagine a Thanksgiving table filled with some of my favorite authors. Here are my self-imposed rules. Feel free to play along and post your guest list in the comments.

1. Guests have to currently be alive. It has to have some sense that this could maybe possibly happen!

2. My dining table can hold 8 people. Minus my “1-2-3 family” (as my daughter likes to call us), that leaves room for 5 guests.

3. Guests have to be authors, but they could have written many books or just one.

My Lit Thanksgiving Guest List:

  • Sarah J. Maas: I have read nine or ten of her books and I adored them all. I want to hear her talk about the characters. I would also love for her to bring along a copy of Kingdom of Ash because I haven’t read it yet and I’m dying to find out what happens.
  • Victoria Aveyard: I know from hearing her speak at the War Storm tour that Victoria is smart and interesting to listen to.
  • Jenny Han: Her books are adorable, so she must be too, right? Maybe she’s also a baker like her character Lara Jean? She can bring dessert!
  • Steve Berry: His books are full of history and conspiracy theories, so I think he’d be a good guest. Plus, my husband would probably appreciate having another guy at the table!

Ok, next, I wanted to pick queen J.K. Rowling because who doesn’t love Harry Potter?! And it’d be lovely to have someone at the table with a British accent, but really? Getting her to my house seems unrealistic- even for this made up scenario!

  • Laurie Halse Anderson: Laurie’s book Speak has been on my mind a lot lately because of its relevance. I recently read the graphic novel version and loved it. She’s also just released a very personal book of poetry. I think she sounds like she has a lot to say, and she really gets YA.

There you have it! I hope you’ll share your guest list with me. Happy Thanksgiving!

(P.S. I’ve been busy packing for our trip all day today, so this post is seriously lacking in images. Please picture a cleverly photoshopped image with all the authors sitting at a dining room table! Thanks!)

TATBILB: A Movie Update

I’m not ready to give up on yesterday’s Jenny Han love-fest! Today, I want to talk about the future To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie. Yes, there’s going to be a movie!

Two years ago, I posted that the book had been optioned for film by Overbrook Entertainment (Will Smith’s production company). I even offered up some casting suggestions, in which I did my best to come up with actresses who had Korean backgrounds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anyone in casting made note of my suggestions!

Here’s what I’ve been able to learn about the film:  

  • Wikipedia states that filming began on July 6, 2017. The director of the film is Susan Johnson and Sofia Alvarez wrote the screenplay. The film was shot in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. Production wrapped up August 4, 2017 (which seems really short! Only a month to shoot? Is that normal?).
  • Lana Condor, a twenty-year old actress adopted from Vietnam who has already acted in X-Men: Apocalypse, will play the lead role of Lara Jean Covey. In this article by NBC News, she explains how she remembers Jenny Han “telling me how easily whitewashed this movie could have been…Because the beautiful thing is that Lara Jean is not written as a stereotypical Asian character. She’s just the girl-next-door. And it’d be easy for Hollywood to cast white girls to play the Covey sisters.” Janel Parrish of Pretty Little Liars will play Lara Jean’s big sister Margot, and Anna Cathcart from Odd Squad will play younger sister, Kitty. Han was pleased with the casting choices, posting, “That is truly groundbreaking. I haven’t seen Asian American women centered on the screen since Joy Luck Club, which was nearly 25 years ago.” 
  • Visit this EW.com link to see Jenny Han’s pictures from when she visited the TATBILB set. Han sure looks like she had a great time, so that makes me hopeful about the finished product.
  • So who was cast to play Peter Kavinsky? Josh? Lara Jean’s dad? Check out the full cast and crew from this IMDB link. Be sure to check out a few pictures from the film, too.
    • I’m a bit underwhelmed by the actor chosen to play Peter. I guess I pictured him a bit more all-American boy – like a blonde hair, blue-eyed, big goofy athletic type.
    • I’m super excited about who will play Lara Jean’s dad, though: John Corbett! I always enjoyed him in Raising Helen, Sex in the City, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He’s got a good voice and I think he’ll make a good “dad.”

  • There is not a release date yet for this movie (correct me if I’m wrong), but I sure am looking forward to it.

Will you be looking forward to seeing To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on the big screen?

Always and Forever, a Jenny Han Fan

I finished up the third and final book in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series last night. Han’s books are pure sugar – sweet and a bit addicting. I read through them quickly and eagerly. Like most of Han’s fans, I was glad to see the TATBILB story continued past the first book. The first book was originally a stand alone book, and then, surprise! There was a sequel for us to enjoy. Then, surprise! Another book in the series!

Always and Forever, Lara Jean picks up with our main character, high school senior Lara Jean Covey, adorably in love with Peter Kavinsky. They went through some drama in book two, but now they are back and better than ever. Lara Jean works on baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie, Kitty is Kitty (though she wasn’t featured as much in this book as I had wanted), Peter has an athletic scholarship to nearby UVA, Margot has a new boyfriend, and her dad is happily dating the next door neighbor. The conflict ensues as Lara Jean and Peter contemplate their futures. College is just around the corner – will they stay together? Should they stay together?

The entire book reminded me of that last week of high school, when you’re feeling both excited for the next chapter of your life, but also nostalgic. Everything feels like the last time you’ll do something, so you know you’re supposed to cherish it. The book felt like a long, drawn out goodbye. It seemed like Han was saying goodbye to these characters, too. While the ending was certainly left open to possibilities (how could it not when our main characters are 18 years old and about to head off to college?), I like that we can imagine the possibilities for ourselves.   

In a post from two years ago, I wrote that TATBILB was, “like a young adult romantic comedy. Han’s writing style is approachable and believable. You’ll smile as you read this book.” But it’s not so much about it being believable or relatable, but rather that it’s a bit fantastical. It’s more that we as readers (some of us, at least) love the idea of being the nerdy girl who is dating the most popular and handsome guy in school. He’s the guy everyone loves – his friends, his teammates, the teachers – and yet he is head over heels for you – the girl no one really saw or paid attention to before. And she didn’t even have to pretend to be cool or sexy or give up any of her nerdy obsessions. He actually likes her for her.

How refreshing.

I think that’s why I’ll continue to be a Jenny Han fan. TATBILB might be wrapped up with Always and Forever, Lara Jean, but I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what Han will write next.

Any Jenny Han fans out there? What book of hers has been your favorite so far?


Tackling My TBR List

During November’s NaBloPoMo, I shared eight books that were on my To Be Read list. Amazingly, I’ve read five of the books since then, so I wanted to do a quick update on them.

1. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

This book was a disappointment for me. I was really looking forward to Anna’s quirky commentary and wit. What I got was a lot about her sex life and recreational drug use and not near enough humor. Parts I did like: learning how Anna started acting at a young age – and in theater, mostly. The first time I saw her act was in Twilight and then Pitch Perfect, so it was interesting to hear about her career before those films. She seemed to have a pretty level-headed upbringing despite being a child actor, and she certainly didn’t make money from acting until recently. That being said, I don’t think I would recommend this book. There just wasn’t anything captivating enough about it. If you feel the need to check this one out, I’d recommend the audio CD over reading the book, as Kendrick herself reads it, so at least it’s a bit more manageable. My Goodreads rating: 3 stars

2. We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han  

The third book in the Summer series, We’ll Always Have Summer, picks up at the end of Belly’s freshman year of college. She and Jeremiah have been dating and even attend the same school. It all seems to be going well, but when Belly hears about a mistake Jeremiah made, she’s forced to question whether he is the right guy for her. I read this book in two days because I had to know, who would it be – Jeremiah or Conrad?! Was this a fantastic book? No. Belly was just as immature and selfish as she was in the first two books and the plot was a bit ridiculous, but it didn’t matter – I was sucked in! Jenny Han should really write a television show because her teenage drama is spot on. My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

3. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

In Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, a young writer named Darcy decides to defer her freshman year of college so that she can move to NYC and experience life as a debut YA author. Her story as a budding writer, learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry, as well as her growth as a young adult, help her shape her manuscript about a girl who survives a terrorist attack and now has the power to “cross over” into an even better story. I bought this book a few years ago in Barnes & Noble’s clearance section, thinking it was a great price for such a huge book! Sadly, the size of the book kept me from actually getting around to reading it. As an e-book however, it was much less daunting. And, boy, am I glad I finally read it. I enjoyed both stories, though they were not as interconnected as I thought they were going to be. I really liked following Darcy’s experience as a debut author. Her story about the afterworld, which is told in the alternating chapters, is just as original and entertaining as the framing story. I’d recommend this book to fans of YA literature and people who have participated in the NaNoWriMo experience. My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s sci-fi novel envisions a world where people are genetically engineered and brainwashed so that they are good consumers. Thanks to a society where sex is recreational and not monogamous, and drugs are always available to pick you up or wipe out lonely thoughts, everyone is happy. However, a few characters in the novel start to feel different – the basis for the book’s conflict. I think the book was probably advanced for its time, but reading it today, I found the language a bit difficult to understand. The concept of creating people (and clones of the same person) and preconditioning them was incredibly interesting and thought-provoking, but the story went in strange directions and there were some odd writing techniques. For instance, I almost had to picture it like a movie in certain sections because the author would have multiple “scenes” happening all at the same time and I had to keep up with who was talking and what they were talking about. There were some very interesting ideas about sexuality and gender roles – especially for a book published in 1932. Unfortunately, the book had a terrible ending. Terrible because it just ended abruptly without filling the reader in on how all the character’s stories were resolved. There were several main characters, but none of their stories felt finished or complete to me. While an ending like this sometimes leaves room for the reader to fill in the blanks, in this case, I wanted more information. I left not really knowing what I was supposed to make of this strange new world – other than it was certainly not the utopia it claimed to be. There were a lot of messages: the fear of taking science and technology too far, the importance of reading and education, how religion can control people and form society, how free is our free will, just to name a few. I’m sure it’d be a fascinating book to use for discussion in a book club or classroom. In all, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this book, but I’m not sure I liked it all that much. My Goodreads rating: 2 stars

5. Shadow and Bone, Book 1 of The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The first book of the Grisha Trilogy begins with a trek across a dangerously dark and monster-filled area called the Shadow Fold. The main character, Alina, finds she has incredible powers that can ward off the terror of the Shadow Fold. She is sent to the royal court to be trained as an elite fighter. But the luxurious life being a powerful member of the elite isn’t what it seems. I almost gave this book a five-star rating on Goodreads, as it was pretty close to perfect. I raced to finish this one, and then was sad when I made it to the last page. The characters and world were just plain enjoyable to read about. I was hooked from the beginning and I will definitely be continuing the rest of the series. I’ve already got the next book on hold. There are many books about people who have strange powers or abilities (Graceling, Three Dark Crowns, Shatter Me, Under the Never Sky – all books I enjoyed, by the way), but this book still held its own and brought something different and interesting. I would highly recommend this book (especially if you liked the books I listed in parentheses)! My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

What books have you recently crossed off your TBR list?

Always and Forever, Cute Shoes


Shoes inspired by the upcoming novel, Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han.

A while back, I commented on a line of footwear that was (supposedly) inspired by classic American literature. Since the final product was so watered down, I created a few of my own shoe designs for classic novels.

I love drawing shoes. Check out a design I came up with for Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian here. Here you’ll find a design for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I even designed a pair for the classic children’s book Chicka Chicka ABC here. The book Uprooted inspired some great boots here.

My TBR List

mytbrlistThe great thing about having reading as a hobby is that you’ll never run out of books! There are always more books to be read, authors to discover, and characters to connect with. And even as you grow and change, your hobby can grow and change with you. There are different genres to explore and challenges to take on. That means my TBR (to be read) list is always growing and changing too. I keep track of what I want to read next by adding titles to my Goodreads To-Read list, and also my wish list and holds list on OverDrive.

mytbrlonglistHere is what is currently on my TBR list (in no particular order):

  1. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – I love Anna Kendrick in movies, on talk shows, and the internet, so I can’t wait to see what quips she comes up with for a book!
  2. We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han – I have to see who Belly ends up with. Will it be the fun, loving, quick-to-smile Jeremiah, or his older brother, the mysterious and brooding Conrad?
  3. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld – I bought the hardcover version of this book years ago and haven’t had time to sit down and enjoy it yet. I’m looking forward to seeing how Westerfeld weaves the story of a young writer who is just about to be published along with the actual novel that is being written.
  4. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis – First, the cover is beautiful. Second, it sounds like there will be a really interesting setting to this story: NYC’s Barbizon Hotel for Women.
  5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – I enjoy science fiction, and this feels like a classic that I’ve been missing out on.
  6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – This is another classic that has somehow escaped me. As an English major, can you believe that it was never on one of my required reading lists?
  7. Shadow and Bone, Book 1 of The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo – Many book bloggers seem to love this series, so I’m interested to see if it will be one of my favorites, too.
  8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – I’ll have to wait until April 2017 to read this one, but I’m really looking forward to it. This is the third book in Lara Jean Song’s story, and originally Han had said that there were only going to be two books, as “It organically feels like two books to me–two halves of a heart.” But I guess she (or her readers or editors?) changed her mind about that! I felt that the second book ended things nicely…but I’m also eager to read more of the story! You can read more about my thoughts to the first book in the series, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before here.

What books are you looking forward to reading soon? How do you keep track of your TBR list?

Falling into Summer Books

A Reading Update:

Since my last update, I finished reading a book and am 60% through another. I read the second book in Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty series called It’s Not Summer Without You in just a few days. I really enjoy Jenny Han’s novels and have read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You, as well as the Burn for Burn trilogy she wrote with Siobhan Vivian. The Summer series has three books in it, so I’ve still got to read that one, but overall, I feel like the Summer series is the weakest of Han’s works. The main character, Belly, is just a bit too juvenile and whiny. She adores two brothers and can’t figure out which one she should date. Their mom is dealing with cancer, so I was sometimes annoyed by how much Belly thought of herself. That being said, the (ridiculous) love triangle sucked me in and I have to read the third book in the series to see how it ends!

Currently, I’m reading Invincible Summer by Alice Adams. Since this book cleverly has “Summer” in the title, it was on a lot of “perfect summer reads” lists. The book is adult fiction and follows four friends as they navigate relationships and careers after college. There are parts of this book that I like, and even moments I can relate to because I’m similar to the character’s ages and places in life, but I’m still on the fence about it. I’m over halfway through the novel and I still can’t tell why the book is called Invincible Summer. Sure, the epigraph has a quote that uses the phrase “invincible summer,” but I thought more of the book would take place during the summer, or that there would be an epic summer that would impact the characters’ lives. I guess I’ll just have to keep reading to find out more.     

A Writing Update:

I went back to a novel that I had been working on years ago and discovered that I had written an ending AND gone through and edited it once. I was surprised at this! So I’m going to make the changes to the text and then print up a copy. I know it’s rough, but I can’t see what I’m working with yet. I think seeing it in its entirety will be useful. Also, I’ll feel like I actually finished a writing project.  

What are you reading and writing this Creativember?

Casting To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

So you just finished reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and you’re wondering if there’s going to be a movie version of this adorable book? Well, according to a March 21, 2018, article on Variety.com, Netflix has acquired the rights to Awesomeness Films and Overbrook Entertainment’s film adaptation.

If you want to find out more about the film – like find out who will play Lara Jean and see some pictures from Jenny Han’s day on set – check out my post TATBILB: A Movie Update. If you want to see the dream cast I created in 2015, keep scrolling!

According to a blog post from October 2014 on If List, Jenny Han’s novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been optioned for film by Overbrook Entertainment. Overbrook Entertainment is Will Smith’s production company. I wonder what drew him and his partner to this novel. It doesn’t seem like a big blockbuster opportunity like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, or even a stand-alone novel like The Fault in Our Stars. What do you think? Would To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before make a great movie?

Lara Jean Song Covey has been in love before…it’s just that none of her crushes have ever known about it – until now. Lara Jean spilled all of her feelings into love letters, sealed them, and hid them in a box. Somehow, those letters get mailed out and Lara Jean has to live with the consequences. When she finds out that one of the boys (who also happens to be her older sister’s ex) has feelings for her, she freaks out and pretends to be in a relationship with another one of her crushes. But Lara Jean is surprised when this fake relationship starts to turn into something more. Will Lara Jean trust in her feelings or let her insecurities get the best of her?

I thought this was a really cute book. It’s like a young adult romantic comedy. Han’s writing style is approachable and believable. You’ll smile as you read this book. When you’re finished reading this book, Lara Jean’s story continues in P.S. I Still Love You. And if you find that you’ve become a fan of Jenny Han’s writing, I’d also recommend the Burn for Burn trilogy, which she co-wrote with Siobhan Vivian.

Here are some of my casting suggestions in case Will needs some help!toalltheboys_dreamcast



A Box of Books

box_of_booksI recently mailed a package to the school I worked at for four years. Inside the box was a stack of books that I had picked up at the Half Price Bookstore, read, and wanted to share. Mind you, I bought these books months ago, but I couldn’t bear to part with them! I almost decided not to mail them at all. Then I looked around at our apartment (which is bursting at the seams already) and decided that since I had read the books, I could live without the physical proof. Here’s what I sent and a review in fifteen words or less, plus some notes to help you decide whether or not you should add it to your summer reading list:

  • Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson: Average teen pulls prank, earning a reputation. He then deals with rumors and ruined reputations.
    • Read Twisted if you like realistic characters and situations, and topics that are relevant to today’s teens. Also read if you liked Anderson’s other novels, like Speak.
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Accident lands a girl in a coma. She must decide to live or let go.
    • Read If I Stay if you saw the movie preview and thought it looked interesting, or if you like teenagers put in difficult situations that they must overcome. This one’s a bit of a tearjerker.
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: 1996 teens access their future Facebook pages through AOL CD. Their choices affect their futures.
    • Read The Future of Us if you enjoyed Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, or if you are interested in how technology has changed our lives in a relatively short time, thanks to the internet and Facebook.
  • Starters by Lissa Price: Elderly rent out teenagers’ bodies for fun, but teens soon become mindless weapons.
    • Read Starters if you like YA dystopian novels with strong female leads like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched. This novel has a sequel titled Enders, which I picked up from the library this week, but haven’t started yet.
  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: Lillia, Kat, and Mary help one another seek revenge, but maybe they go too far…
    • Read Burn for Burn if you are tired of YA dystopian novels! This novel has three girls from different social cliques working together on revenge plots. There is also a bit of the supernatural involved. This book is followed by Fire with Fire, which I also read and enjoyed, and I’m interested to see what will happen in the third book in the series.
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer: Meteor pushes moon closer to earth and family must survive with stockpiled food and wood-stove.
    • Read Life As We Knew It if you’re interested in finding out what life would be like if a global natural disaster really happened and you were forced to survive without grocery stores, water, heat, electricity, cell phones, and the internet. The novel is written as a series of journal entries. It is followed up by three other books in the series (which I have not read, and I’m not sure that I will).
  • The Kill Order by James Dashner: Prequel to Maze Runner series. How it all started. Mutating disease released on innocent people.
    • Read The Kill Order if you read the Maze Runner series and are still confused! While this novel still didn’t answer all of my questions, it did help explain how the disease started in the first place. It also shows what life was like right at the time of the sun flares, which are discussed in the Maze Runner books.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Kid leaves reservation school to attend a white school for hope of a better future.
    • Read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian if you have ever felt like you didn’t belong in your family, community, or school. Read this book if you’ve felt like there was more to you and your potential than everyone around you imagined. As the main character is a teenage boy, I feel like boys would be drawn to this book more than girls would. Read this book if you disagree with book banning/challenging and you want to see what all the fuss is about.
  • Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen: Author of Hatchet and Brian’s Winter returns with more of Brian’s story.
    • This is the only book out of the bunch that I didn’t read. I just know that kids always like Gary Paulsen’s books. Students are captivated by Brian’s ability to survive in the wild on his own. I remember reading Hatchet and Brian’s Winter in elementary school and really enjoying them. I think I remember this unit in particular because we even got to build our own forts in the school forest. How cool is that?!

How did I do?  Do you think my box of books will be a hit with teenagers looking for something new to read?