Monday, December 22, 2014

A 2014 Recap

You can't go wrong when you start your year off finding non-diseased ticker tape in Times Square. We spent the night with Kelly and Max (and Declan!) in Harlem and in the morning had our annual New Years walk to Times Square to see all the carnage.

I blogged a little about almost dying at the Strand here

And the year only looked better when I tagged along with Hannah and Jen to ALA Midwinter. It was in Philadelphia this year, so how could I say no? I came home with a truckload of ARCs, prompting Shannon to ask, "These were all free, right??" as he helped me unload the car.

Much thanks to Hannah and Jen who helped me learn the ropes at my first convention!

I spent a lot of time with BFF Kelly in New York. And in May she called me with the biggest surprise of all--she's pregnant with baby #2! She's due any day now so I'll be flooding everyone's feed with the most awesome baby ever.  

Fun Fact: Kelly always comes up with the best names. She helps me cast all my characters.

I also spent a lot of time with Ms. Jodi Meadows this year. I crashed on her couch twice this year, once for the Charlottesville for the Virginia Festival of the Book and again for Joy Hensley's book launch for Rites of Passage

I also got to tag along with her for the Frederick Book Festival in Maryland. Here she is on a panel with the adorable Julie Anne Lindsey!

And here's Jodi with Joy Hensley at the Chapter by Chapter Book Rave in New Rochelle. I was there with BFF Kelly, where we met Jay Crownover, CJ Redwine, Lee Bross, Elizabeth Eulberg and soooo many others. 

Funny Story: Kelly and I snuck in early with coffee and waters and anytime security tried to kick us out, we had all the authors say "they're with me." 

Clan MacLeod had a ton of book releases this year. In celebration, we began a tradition of posting our pictures in the book's theme in a blog hop. You can see all of mine here. If you want to see everyone's pic, all my pictures are linked to the original blog.

It wasn't all work this year. I spent a lot more time with family, which was something I was really missing. My brother got married, which brought us all together, and I'm excited to see everyone this week where I will CRUSH them with my gift-giving skills in the first annual gift Pollyanna.

I got in some beach time at Cape May with Shannon and Nelly. There's something about that beach town that feels like home to me.
I have a tendency to write while on vacation, and give some tips here.


I read a lot this year. I mean, a few books (*cough 127 at the date of this post*). 
Here's a few of my favorites. 
And here's a few I'm sooo excited to read in 2015.

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Valerie has completed her goal of reading 60 books in 2014!

In fact, my TBR was so out of control, I had to get two new bookcases (with doors!).

And I was writing the whole time. I turned in a finished manuscript to my agent and started churning out another one. My post-it board began to fill up with ideas and plot points, and hopefully I'll be turning in something else soon.
 I got to share a little about my writing process here.
And how to use the Post-It plotting method there.

So I'm going into 2015 feeling pretty good. This was definitely a packed year of people and reading and writing, but I think I'm finally finding a healthy balance of work and fun. 
So bring it, New Year! I'm ready.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Most Anticipated Books in 2015

Hooray! A new pub year is upon us! Here are the books I can't wait to get my grubby hands on.

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

Violent Ends by Shaun Hutchinson

And here are the 2015 books that I can completely vouch for, because I've read the ARCs and they are amaaaazing!
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

My Favorite Books from 2014

Oooo...I love end of year lists! One of my favorite things to do is look back and read about all the great books and music and events from the last year.

This year, I've crushed my GoodReads reading challenge goal of 60 books. I'm currently sitting on 125 books read--the most I've ever read in my entire life. Of all those books, here are my favorites in 2014.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
My Review
Interview with Alyssa

I love Peter Pan retellings, and did not think anything could ever top Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson..until I read Second Star. Set on the coast of California with surfer kids fighting over beach turf, SECOND STAR spins the story of Peter Pan on its ear, with appearances by Belle, Nanna, but leaves the crocodiles at home. Overall, a strong contemporary retelling full of romance, adventure and mystique.

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
My Review

After all the BEA buzz about this title, I was thrilled to get an eARC from LBKids! Based on the walled city of Kowloon Walled City in China, The Walled City delivered a heart breaking story about three teens entrapped within it. The pacing was fast, the characters so real, and the writing was beautiful.

Like No Other by Una LaMarche
My Review

I read Like No Other in one sitting. I picked it up at ALA Midwinter and couldn't wait to crack it open--and rightfully so. Publishers Weekly, Indie Next, the Junior Library Guild, Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly all had Like No Other on their lists.

Star-crossed romances were kinda my thing this year, and this one was my favorite. I loved how Devorah and Jaxon met and the romance that blossomed between them. Think West Side Story in Brooklyn.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Interview with Elizabeth

I admit that I fell in love with the cover first--and the story did not disappoint. When overpopulation becomes a problem, society's conclusion is to split society into shifts: those who live in the day (Rays) and those who live at night (Smudges). This was a star-crossed love story that trips into a government conspiracy.

Wildflower, by Alecia Whitaker


There's been a lot books out this year about celebrity main characters (or their friends), but this one was my favorite. Bird is young and a little naive, but full of talent and has a good heart. She balances her struggle to follow her dream with the responsibilities she feels for her friends and family. This one has a sequel out next year and I really want to continue reading Bird's journey.
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