The Disney Princess Book Tag

Helloooo! I’ve seen this Disney princess book tag on quite a few blogs but since Joana @ Bookneeders‘s post about it finally convinced me to go ahead and do my own take on it, I guess I’ll credit her as the person I’m taking it from!

Enjoy!

snow white.

Favorite debut book

This book is so good it’s hard to believe it was her first! (Gah, now I’m self-conscious about how good my first book will be.) If I wanted kids I would surely read this to them… but I don’t, so does anyone have any children they could lend me? I’m about to blow their little minds with LITERATURE.

cinderella.

A character you didn’t expect much from who turned out to be a total gem

Can I say ALL the characters in the Saga comics? No one is who they seem or who I first expected them to be. From D. Oswald Heist and Petrichor to Jabarah and Prince Robot IV, everyone leads such unusual, fascinating, complex lives in this series.

aurora.

A book that made you sleepy or just could not hold your attention

I need to revisit this book: Maybe I’ll like it more the second time around.

Then again, maybe not. All I know is that when I read The Casual Vacancy back when it was published in 2012 (wow, so long ago already!) I could barely finish it. I felt so bad, as though there were something wrong with me, because I was the biggest J.K. Rowling fan at the time and yet here I was struggling to make it to the end.

ariel.

A book with an ocean setting

Forever one of my favorite classics! It always makes me want to jump on a pirate ship to lead a life full of danger and intrigue. Well, maybe go light on the danger. But: PIRATES.

belle.

A book with the best bookworm

I can think of a lot of great bookworms I would love to be friends with – Hermione, Meggie, Bilbo Baggins – but Matilda will always be my queen. She resonated so very deeply with me as a child. As evidenced by my extremely battered copy of the novel!

jasmine.

A book with an unlikely love story

 

It isn’t every day that you fall in love with an alien! Plus, how often is it that we get LGBTQ+ love stories or ones with people of color in YA? (The answer is not very. Sad!) Also, polyamory depicted as a healthy, valid means of solving a love triangle! Yippee!

pocahontas. 

A book about or based on a real person

I’m in love with Ellen Forney’s art style – and maybe a little with her. Humorous and honest, she tells the story of her battle with bipolar disorder with no holds barred. Due to my own mental health I usually feel worse after reading books about mental illness, not better, but this was one that gave me the hope and encouragement to keep on in life.

mulan.

The fiercest heroine you know

She may not be the protagonist, but Kiki Strike is the titular character of this series. And a real badass! She’s tiny but powerful. I wish I could say that if I met her I would run up to her and initiate a conversation, but tbh I might just hide because she can be intimidating.

tiana.

A book with a diverse cast of characters

A Muslim, hijabi-wearing daughter of Loki, a deaf elf… and later, a genderfluid demigod. Yesssss! Rick Riordan certainly ramps up the diversity with every new book he writes and I love him for it. It’s been so cool to see how well he takes criticism, then learns and grows from it by incorporating characters of different races, religions, sexual orientations, genders, abilities, et cetera into his stories.

rapunzel.

The longest book you’ve ever read

I think this is the longest one? I’m not 100% sure, though, because I don’t know how to find that information on Goodreads. I didn’t love this book quite as much as I enjoyed Selznick’s earlier story The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but it was still really good!

merida. 

A book without a love story

Well, it doesn’t have romantic love. Which is what most of us think of when we think about love, right? But it does have many other forms of love: “Love. That was what she had that IT did not have. She had Mrs. Whatsit’s love, and her father’s, and her mother’s, and the real Charles Wallace’s love, and the twins’, and Aunt Beast’s. And she had her love for them.”

anna & elsa. 

A book with a wintry or cold setting

LESBIANS at CHRISTMASTIME in NEW YORK CITY in the FIFTIES. Ahhhh my poor gay soul. This is one of the cutest love stories I’ve ever read! Plus, the gay characters get a happy ending and Christmassy romances are my favorite seasonally-themed kind.

moana. 

A character who goes on a journey

WHAT A ROAD TRIP. Despite being Irish, Derek Landy manages to capture the essence of a long, long, long drive across America. I bet Amber never thought she’d be so far from home!

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I’m tagging:

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)

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Who is your favorite Disney princess?!

P.S. Mine is Belle… someday my prince(ss) will come and together we’ll own a library the size of the moon!

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Saying No To NaNoWriMo

…again.

Freshman year, I saw pretty early on that there was no way I’d be able to do NaNo, not if I still wanted to pass my classes and get some semblance of sleep. Last year, I fully intended to attempt the project, to the point where I spent time planning out my novel using the YWP workbook, Pinterest boards, et cetera. (I started super early, too – August!) I backed out of it at the very last minute – no, really, it was late on Halloween night – because I realized that I once again had too much already going on in my life.

This time around, I made the decision not to do NaNo quite a ways back. Sometime during last semester, I think? Even so many months away, I sensed that signing up could only be a bad idea. And now that I’ve let this opportunity slide, I know I probably won’t end up NaNoing in college at all, since my senior year is bound to be even busier than this one.

I may look back on my college years and wish that I had done NaNo after all, had experienced hunching over my laptop, typing furiously, along with other students, but I think this decision is for the best. After all, without NaNo in my life, I won’t be nearly as stressed and I just know I’ll get way more sleep since I won’t be staying up late to write after I’ve finished my homework.

And that, to me, is more important. I’d rather look back on my college years and see that I was taking care of myself by not dumping unnecessary stress into my life, you know?

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I wanted to write this post so I could give my reasons for dropping NaNo the third year in a row. Now that I’ve looked over what I wrote, I’m wondering why I feel so guilty about this. Why I feel like I have to explain myself. I feel as though I’m apologizing, but for what?

No one has the expectation that I’ll do NaNo. I mean, they might hope that I’ll join them, especially when it comes to the folks in my writing group, but it’s not in any way a requirement. I’m not doing it for a grade, or to work towards any of my three degrees.

If I’d be doing it for myself anyway, why do I feel so guilty about this?

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Here is what I came up with:

I did NaNoWriMo all four years of high school. Which, looking back on it now, seems like quite the impressive streak considering how busy I was back then too. Also, when I tell people that I did NaNo for the first time as a freshman and continued until college, they seem impressed, which I think gave me the idea that they’ll be disappointed that college!me isn’t achieving all that high school!me did. After all, I’m older and (supposedly) wiser now, so shouldn’t I be doing more and better?

Next, I think there is this expectation that if you are a writer, especially if you have not yet been published but want to be, you just gotta do NaNo. Especially if you’re in a writer’s group, for heaven’s sake. You can’t very well sit it out, especially for multiple years in a row, while all your friends work their butts off in November.

None of the lovely people in the Iowa Writer’s House made me feel this way; I’ve picked up on this from interactions I’ve witnessed online. I’m not worried about judgement from the people I spend every Tuesday evening writing and discussing writing with. But I still feel weird about it.

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And to those two reasons, here are the rebuttals I came up with:

Firstly, no, I shouldn’t automatically be doing more and better. There’s this mindset that says we should always do and be better than we were before, and I think it’s dangerous. It’s a double-edged sword: When used sparingly and with much forethought, it can be incredibly motivating. It’s helped me to get through college, because I encourage myself to try harder every semester!

But I think there comes a point when you reach your limit, or have just about reached it, and then it becomes important to know when to back off. If I’m trying to write 50,000 words in a month while taking seventeen semester hours (and shooting for high grades in all my classes!), that won’t be good for my mental health.

2017 has been all about being gentler with myself. After all, I write a ton – both fiction and nonfiction – in my classes. And then there’s all the smaller projects I’ve set for myself. This November, I can “do better” by not overburdening myself with ridiculous expectations.

Secondly… I mean, the expectation that all writers do (or should do) NaNo is just stupid; there’s no other word for it. I know for a fact that not everyone does! Not even everyone in my writing group does; they also have lives filled with work and school and kids and so many other things.

Besides, not taking part in NaNo means that I can give my attention to my friends’ novels. Because I won’t be stressed about how much I have or have not written, I’ll have the interest and the energy to ask them how their projects are going and to listen, really listen. It’s all right if I don’t do NaNo for a few more years because A) I do a ton of writing already and B) I’ll live vicariously through my friends’ NaNovels if I have to.

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Will you be doing NaNoWriMo this month or have you decided against it? Either way, I’m curious to know your reasoning!

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10 Scarily Bad Book Covers

Happy Halloween!

In years past I’ve talked about old Halloween costumes, or reviewed horror stories, or what have you, but this time I thought I’d do something different: I present to you ten of the worst book covers I have ever laid eyes on – so bad they’re almost scary!

Enjoy!

city of bones1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

(US edition)

I mean, shirtless men on book covers (or shirtless men in general) aren’t really my cup of tea to begin with, but even from a subjective point of view this cover is just… cheesy. I’m not particularly upset about how bad it is because I didn’t like the series well enough to read any further than the first book, but it baffles me to think that someone somewhere OKed the weird lighting and the way the head is partially cropped out.

american-monsters2. American Monsters by Derek Landy

(US edition)

All right, I am genuinely upset about how shitty this cover is because I LOVE THIS AUTHOR AND ALL HIS BOOKS. The Skulduggery Pleasant series had pretty good cover art, but something went… very wrong indeed… with his Demon Road series: The artwork got progressively worse with each new book. The cover of American Monsters, the third and final book, looks like bad CGI.

3. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

(US edition)

It’s just… so… boring?! And the color combination seems garish to me, especially since the design is otherwise so simple. I’m only half joking when I say that the cover was one of the reasons I was so disappointed in this book. Like, the writing wasn’t that great, but I was also super disappointed that the beautiful, creative cover art from the Harry Potter books was nowhere to be seen, not even in spirit.

The redesigned cover is boring as all get out too, but at least not quite as boring as this one.

the sword of summer uk cover4. The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

(UK edition)

This cover has a little bit of bad CGI going on, but mostly it’s too BRIGHT for my taste. Maybe I wouldn’t mind it so much if there weren’t any other editions or I didn’t know about them, but this just feels “off” to me. I prefer the cool palette of blues and purples used on the US cover!

the perks of being a wallflower5. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

(US edition)

In the Intro to Multimedia Storytelling course I took last fall, we learned how to do basic editing with Photoshop. At any given point during class time, you could see at least five or six people who’d clicked on something too much or scrolled over something else too quickly, winding up with tiny lettering or oddly-proportioned images because no one knew what in the hECK they were doing.

That is what this cover reminds me of.

the fault in our stars6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

(US edition)

LISTEN IF YOU’VE BEEN READING MY BLOG LONG ENOUGH YOU’LL KNOW THAT I HAVE A KIND OF PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST JOHN GREEN. IT’S COMPLICATED.

But I’m not here to talk about that, and that isn’t why I included this book on this list. If I were to redo it I would probably just scrap the whole thing and start over. At the very least, that cheesy font has to go. Still not super happy about the background, but the silly lettering would be gone then and that’s good enough for me.

will grayson will grayson7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

(US edition)

I’m just… not sure what the point is? Only J.J. Abrams would love all those lens flares. I know it’s not the only cover design, but I guess my question is why it was a cover design at all.

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

(UK edition)

This cover isn’t as bad as it is just plain confusing. I know a number of people who thought Katniss was much younger – like, twelve instead of sixteen – because of this cover art! Even the alternate cover has Peeta looking like a little kid. It’s definitely not middle-grade fiction, so I’m confused as to why they decided to portray the characters that way.

9. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

(US edition)

I actually know a bunch of people who love this cover, but I am not one of them. I mean, I understand what it’s trying to do and I think that’s clever, but… IDK. Maybe the holes disturb me. #trypophobia

10. Divergent by Veronica Roth

(US edition)

You know me, I never pass up a chance to trash talk Divergent.

The trend in YA dystopian fiction cover art seems to be minimalism, and this book certainly jumped on the bandwagon. It’s always struck me as kind of cheesy?! Like something you’d make if you weren’t very good at computer design but were still determined to create a cover for your self-published book because there was no other way to get one made.

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What are the worst covers you’ve ever seen?!

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A Bookish Update #8

Hey guys! Haven’t done one of these posts in a long while. I’m trying to get back into reading for fun after a long period of reading only for school and while I’m still not reading as much as I would like, I’m trying to be grateful for the books I do have time for now instead of focusing so much on all that I still haven’t read… does that make sense???

Enjoy!

Finished A Little While Ago

I read The Roommate Book by Becky Murphy Simpson with the intent of eventually reviewing it here and I have to say that I’m glad I read it when I did because I already have quite a bit of roomie experience! Having a “been there, done that” perspective meant that I had a pretty good idea as to how solid her advice was! (It was very solid, BTW.)

Just Finished

I picked up Zen Dogs by Alexandra Cearns the other day because it looked cute and relaxing… and those are two of the things I strive for most in life lmfao. It’s basically just a collection of peaceful-looking pictures of dogs interspersed with quotes about Zen. 10/10 would recommend. My depression is cured, I tell you, CURED.

Currently Reading

I’m reading Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies for Mystery/Detective Fiction and LOVING it so far! It deals with some pretty serious stuff such as murder and domestic violence and rape, but there’s an undercurrent of wry humor running through it that I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from. It’s over four hundred pages, but definitely doesn’t feel like it.

I’ve also been reading Sand Queen by Helen Benedict for Writing & War. It’s quite intense, as it’s about sexual assault in the military during the war in Iraq, and I think I’m going to write my end-of-semester analytical paper on it? Because I can’t get this Trump tweet out of my head. And because, lately, not a day goes by without me seeing a #MeToo post.

Finally, I’m reading You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero because my roommate left it lying around. Full confession: I have a weakness for self-help books. I come away with at least a few good ideas from each one I read – as well as some disagreements, usually, when I think the author has a wrong or misguided approach. So that’s always interesting.

Reading Next

Found Why I March: Images From The Woman’s March Around The World by Samantha Weiner at the library the other day and decided I needed to take it home with me! I paged through it a little already and I’m excited to see if I find any pictures of the women I marched with in DC what seems like so many months ago. I mean, I know that the chances aren’t great because there were half a million women at the main march alone, but obviously other completely ordinary marchers ended up with their faces in this book so I’m braced for even a slim possibility…

Reading Soon

I bought The Truth the other day and I can’t wait to read it! Love adding to my Terry Pratchett collection. Plus, it’s about Discworld’s first newspaper… as a journalism major, I’m practically obligated to buy it lol.

Recently Added To TBR List

Some of the books I recently found and/or were recommended to me are:

  1. Everyone’s An Aliebn When Ur An Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun looks incredibly fucking cute and I need my hands on it ASAP.
  2. Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club isn’t out until 2019 but I’m already hYPED at the thought of having more of her books to read. (In the meantime, I need to pick up her latest, A Line in the Dark.)
  3. I added Mabel & Audre’s Existential Transcendental Journey Through Black Universe by Junauda Petrus to my TBR purely because of its title but the synopsis sounds bomb af too.
  4. PHILIP! PULLMAN! PUBLISHED! A NEW BOOK! La Belle Sauvage is the first in his new trilogy and I’m so curious to see what it’s about!
  5. Elena Passarello’s Animals Strike Curious Poses is a collection of sixteen essays about famous animals, “loosely modeled after a medieval bestiary” according to the blurb. Eeeeee!

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Feel free to steal this idea for your own blog, or answer the questions in the comments! Actually, PLEASE answer the questions in the comments, because I would love to know more about your reading habits! (And what is the best book you’ve read lately? Do you have any recs for me?!)

P.S. In related bookish news… last weekend my friend/roommate from last year gave me Shakespearean insult band-aids as a belated birthday present aaaaah how cute is that?! I love them (and her) so, so much.

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The Halloween “This Or That?” Tag

With Halloween just a few days away, I thought it was time for another fun tag. I got this one from YouTube, I think. IDK. It’s been sitting in my drafts for a while.

Let’s get right to it.

Chocolatey or fruity candy?

Uhhhh… ummmmm… don’t make me choose! I’ll have chocolate-covered fruity candy, thank you very much.

Witches or vampires?

Vampires, I think? Both are cool, but vampires narrowly win because I adore Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m fascinated by the idea of their longevity and really want to write a story about vampires someday so I can explore how many historical events a single one could conceivably have lived through. God, was that a nerdy answer or what.

Trick or treat?

I love to make people laugh, so I’d have to say trick. I also love planning, so I’m sure I’d have fun creating this elaborate series of pranks to scare people. Maybe I could pull that off with some friends this year? We still have a few days left until October thirty-first.

Halloween party or scary movie?

Halloween party! I would watch scary movies with my horror-loving friends if they didn’t always suggest something gory, but they do and I can’t deal. So, no scary movies for me, alas alas.

Skeletons or zombies?

I love Skulduggery Pleasant… and I love the boy who was part man and part skeleton

Trick-or-treat or hand out candy?

Trick-or-treating, definitely! I’ve helped hand out candy after my friends and I were done trick-or-treating and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as the first half of our evening, lol.

Hay ride or corn maze?

Depends. I wouldn’t choose either if the hay ride is during the day or the corn maze is tiny. I love hay rides in the moonlight and ginormous corn mazes !!!

Scary costume or funny costume?

A funny costume – because, again, I love to make people laugh. The scariest Halloween costume I ever had was a severed head on a plate (I made it myself!) but tbh it was’t that scary so I’d better stick to the funny stuff that I know I can do.

Pumpkin seeds or pumpkin pie?

How is this even a competition? Pie, obviously. I eat like maybe three roasted pumpkin seeds per year.

Bottle feed a baby zombie or walk alone through a dark forest?

Who writes these questions?

Anyway, zombies creep me tf out and I’m never really sure how to properly hold a baby. So I’ll choose walking through a dark forest alone. #fairytalevibes

Bats or black cats?

Ahhhh bats are adorable, but I’m such a cat person. I miss my cat so much that my goal is to cross paths with as many black cats as possible. GOTTA PET THEM ALL.

Pumpkin spice or hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate all the way.

Celebrate in your neighborhood or at the mall?

I’m not judging,* just curious: Do people really celebrate Halloween at the mall? Because I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. I’ve only ever celebrated Halloween in the neighborhood – or rather, in someone else’s neighborhood, since there weren’t any other kids nearby when my brother and I were little. (Of course, now that we’ve grown up and headed off to college, there are plenty. Fuck.)

*Well, maybe just a little. Because how did that tradition even start? Like, I’m trying to wrap my mind around it and I can’t. Please help a small confused blogger out.

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I’m tagging:

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)

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Stay spooky, kids. What are your plans for Halloween this year?

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4 Ways Blogging Prepared Me To Write Well In College

Two out of my three majors focus on learning how to write.

All are writing-intensive.

And I think blogging helped prepare me for them.

I won’t say that it was the only thing that helped me, or even the most important thing, but it certainly played a role in getting me ready for college.

I’m serious. As a triple major in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies, I write a tremendous amount each and every day. Blogging was an essential part of the foundation I laid in high school, the foundation that serves me well now.

Today, I’m looking specifically at how blogging helped me to be a better student of creative writing and journalism.

(For reference, I’m currently a junior in college who has been blogging for seven years, which means that at the time I began college I had blogged for not quite five years.)

I hope you enjoy this post and that it provides some food for thought! Here we go!

My desk. Indiana. January 2015.

1. I got used to writing (nearly) every day

As I said earlier, I write each and every day in college – not only on weekdays but on the weekends as well. I also write just about every day of every school break, no matter how long or short. If I weren’t already used to writing every day I seriously think I would have floundered in college, especially since I was homeschooled and did not have very many structured writing assignments. I had to devise my own writing projects and, over time, this blog morphed into an every-other-day thing. Which meant that I typically wrote every day, in order to not fall behind during busier times in my life.

2. Writing things on very short notice was normal for me

Again, because I was homeschooled and my mom’s idea of writing instruction was fairly free-form, I didn’t have very many deadlines until I started dual-enrollment college classes. Even then, because I never took more than two courses per semester, the workload wasn’t strenuous at all compared to what I now handle!

Thanks to blogging, I’m used to very short turn-around times on pieces of writing, whether for my lit, writing, or journalism classes. I know that I can’t spend too much time staring at my screen or a piece of paper. Pretty soon the words start flowing.

My desk. Dublin. June 2017.

3. I became comfortable sharing my writing with others

Why do all these points end up coming back to my education as a homeschooler? But it’s true: Even with the dual-enrollment classes I took, I wouldn’t have had nearly as much experience sharing my writing were it not for blogging.

I’m not comfortable with sharing ALL forms of my writing – poetry, for instance, is still a sensitive spot for me – but overall it doesn’t faze me the way it did before I started blogging.

4. I practiced interpreting writing prompts

I mean, assignments in college are obviously much more stringent than, say, Top Ten Tuesday prompts, but the basic idea is still the same and relates back to item #2 on this list: You have to be able to read the prompt, briefly brainstorm, and then get right to work. Even if I’m not a huge fan of a writing prompt I get in class, I easily fall into the habit I developed when writing for this blog.

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Do you agree? Has blogging helped you during your time at college? If so, how?

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The Fall Time Cozy Time Book Tag

I’m borrowing today’s tag from Cath @ Bookish Smaug! Just reading the name of this tag gave me the warm fuzzies, so I decided to do it. Plus, I’ve been trying to do more tags lately anyway since I haven’t done as many this year as I have in the past and I was starting to really miss them.

Enjoy!

CRUNCHING LEAVES.

The world is full of color. Choose a book that has reds, oranges, and yellows on the cover.

I love the cover art for this book! It’s not usually the sort of thing I’d like, since I’m not a huge fan of books where the title/author takes up most of the cover, but this one is just so vibrantly colorful that I can’t help smiling every time I see it. I haven’t read this since freshman year; I really should pick it up again sometime soon!

COZY SWEATER.

It’s finally cold enough to don warm, cozy clothing. What book gives you the warm fuzzies?

Matilda is a book that never fails to put a smile on my face. It’s been one of my favorite stories since I was a little kid, which you could probably tell if you saw how battered my copy is!

FALL STORM.

The wind is howling and the rain is pounding. Choose your favorite book or genre that you like to read on a stormy day.

MYSTERIES! It can be one I know practically by heart or one I’ve never read before. The more old-fashioned, the better. Mystery novels + cloudy, rainy days + a warm mug of tea = happy Elizabeth.

COOL CRISP AIR.

Who’s the coolest character you’d want to trade places with?

Batwoman kicks ass, is a lesbian, and has an amazing costume. Who wouldn’t want to be her? I’ve been reading more of her comics lately and just falling even more in love with her. Even Batman is impressed by her.

HOT APPLE CIDER.

What underhyped book do you want to see become the next biggest, hottest thing?

Honor Girl is a super sweet, honest graphic novel memoir about falling in love and discovering your sexuality as a teenager at summer camp! It was super relatable for me since that’s also (partially) how I figured out that I was gay, but I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews complaining that the ending didn’t resolve anything. And I’m like… this is literally a memoir and sometimes life is like that? Sometimes things end abruptly and not the way you want them to? Idk. I just would like to see more people appreciate this book for what it is.

COATS, SCARVES, & MITTENS.

The weather has turned cold and it’s time to cover up. What’s the most embarrassing book cover you own that you like to keep hidden in public?

It’s so cheesy and I hate it! I hate to put someone out of a job but Derek, please don’t rehire whoever designed this mess to do the cover of your next book. Just… don’t. It looks like bad CGI. Whatever happened to the beautiful cover art from Skulduggery Pleasant?!

PUMPKIN SPICE.

What’s your favorite fall-time comfort food?

Pie and tea, you guys, pie and tea. Preferably apple pie and berry tea, although I wouldn’t say no to orange, lemon, or chai tea.

WARM, COZY BONFIRE.

Spread the cozy warmth. Who do you tag?

Let’s see…

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)

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What makes you feel coziest this time of year?

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