Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why You Should Read Sarah J Maas's Books

Hello, my ducklings! How are you? Wonderful? Well, you're about to be better, because I'm about to tell you about a book.
If you are a a reader, then you have favorite books. You have many books that have entertained you, some books that have captivated you, and you probably have a couple of books that have changed your world.
I say this in all seriousness. If you doubt me, ask any person who grew up reading Harry Potter why they loved it. Ask any bookish girl who loved Hermione why. Reading makes you better. Reading can shape you and it can save you. Sometimes, it can just make you laugh. And sometimes it can make you remember what you love.
Last fall, I sent my mom a link to a book that I'd been hearing about called Throne of Glass. She bought a copy and I read it over Christmas break. At this point, this was what the book looked like.
(It doesn't look like that anymore.)
I kind of stopped reading my senior year of high school. It was a mix between focusing on other things and a newfound aversion to writing, brought on by the first English teacher that I didn't really . . . understand, I guess? I don't want to get into that, though.
Fast forward. My first semester of college, I read a lot of the classics for a class that I loved, but I didn't read much else. I justified it as ' Let's focus on the book instead.
A year after I'd stopped voraciously reading, I picked up this book. 
It is a book that will make you laugh, gasp, panic, and then text your friends at midnight about characters that they haven't met.
And then you'll force your friends to meet them. At this point, I've handed the book off to six of the readers that I have amazing bullying powers a system of mutual respect and admiration for. All six of them have responded the same way.
There are books that change your life. And this is one of the books that has changed mine.
It reminded me why I loved to read. It reminded me that even when my world is filled with obnoxious drunk people in the room next to mine obstacles, books are a way to slip into a better mood. It reminded me that books that are worth reading are not always the ones that college classes force you to buy.
And it reminded me that I shouldn't be embarrassed about reading YA, even when I'm in college, even while I'm taking the 'smart' classes and carrying a book with a character younger than me. I can't point at a book I've read in the last three years that brought me more enjoyment than the one Sarah J Maas wrote.
In a couple of days, the sequel is coming out.
I got very lucky. I have a friend that got an advanced copy earlier in the summer.
Crown of Midnight is just as good and in many ways better than Throne of Glass. For one, it's got the updated cover, which looks like this:
For another, it continues talking about themes about friendship, loyalty, family, resilience, and power. The world building, at one point, had me putting down the book and frantically messaging the friend that gave it to me to panic about how in the world someone is that talented of a writer.
It's a sequel worthy of the first story presented, which, unfortunately, is not always true.
(I tend to dislike trilogies, a lot of the time, because the second story does not seem to carry its own arc.) 
Plus, you know, there are several cute boys. And those relationships? They are done with a nuance and skill that I absolutely adore. They are done in a way that feels right for the character, and that, to me as a 19 year old college student, feels right and realistic. 
Beyond that, Sarah J Maas is an author that inspires a lot of love. Her personal story is inspiring. At the risk of sounding like a crazed fangirl (because I kind of am one) (Oh, who am I kidding? I totally am) I have spent more time talking about this author and her books with my friends than anything since Divergent.
Bottom line:
Go read this book. Buy its sequel. I bought the novellas, even, and those are pretty incredible too. 
And now, my roommates have put on the VMA's, so the book love is gonna have to wrap up.
But really.
This book made my life better. It relaunched me into reading, and that made me start writing again. It meant that I went to Alpha, where I worked with other authors my age as well as Scott Westerfeld, Tamora Pierce, Justine Larbalestier, and Theodora Goss. I owe it -- and the author -- quite a bit because of that.
Go get this book. I don't care how old you are. Read it anyway. And then give it to your friends.

Friday, August 9, 2013



I changed the title of this blog. You may have noticed. You probably didn't, though. Why? Because I haven't paid attention to this blog the way that I used to. The thing is, I kind of never liked the old title. I made it when I was fifteen and I made it (the title, not the blog) as a joke with Maggie.

So, now it is Speak, Live, Write. To be cheesy, this fits me better. Generic? Yes, but I don't care. So is coffee, and so is chocolate, and I'm currently surrounded by both. I was a debater. I love to talk. I believe very much in living a life worth speaking and writing about. All those cheesy quotes about, like, doing things that scare you --
Have been taken very much to heart. (It's how my friends force me to do things I don't want to. For instance, night clubs. Not my thing.) (Neither is climbing up a seven story tower when the elevator only costs a dollar.) (This list is long. I'm ending it now.)
So, the title is changed. That's why. I'm 19 and fancy now. (Or I've conformed. Either way.)

Next week I move into my first apartment. I'm moving in with some of my favorite people in the world, and praying that they will remain my favorite people in the world and we don't end up killing one another in our sleep.

That's ... actually it. I have more for later, but I'm not quite there yet to talk about it. And now, I'm sitting on the steps of a Wisconsin hotel and watching a protest, and that's become incredibly fascinating. So --

Monday, July 29, 2013

About College

One year ago, I was preparing -- frantically, by this point -- to move into my college dorm.
I'm writing this now, looking back over my first year, partly for myself and partly for any other scared soon-to-be college kids.

Disclosure: These are my opinions. They are my personal facts, which may not be the same as yours. These are also spoken as if you are at college, and if you want to be there.
What is college like? What was it like for me?

It would be my first (super) extended trip away from home. I wasn't going very far, and in fact, found myself a little annoyed that I would be only three hours away from the place where I went to high school, but I still had to like, pack. I was still moving in with a complete stranger, sharing a bathroom with 25 girls, and living on a floor with 70 people. (Coincidentally, my dorm building held about 600 students. My graduating class held about 380.)
Voila. That's, approximately, what I was living in.
In many ways, I was -- and am -- very lucky. First, I get to go to college. It's no surprise to any of us that the economy sucks, that student loans are vicious, and that not having a degree can make life painfully complicated. So, because of that that, I'm telling you this: 
Be happy, if you're at college, if you've graduated and be grateful. It's a privilege. Even if it's a school that would not normally decorate your dreams, it's a luxury. We are lucky. There is nothing more annoying than a college student who openly and loudly thinks their college is beneath them. Maybe the school isn't for you, and that's fine. Leave.
It's okay to transfer schools. 
I have several friends that have done so. If you don't like where you are, leave. If you don't want to pay money for the experience, don't. It's your life. It's your experience. Try not to be selfish, but also, look out for yourself. 
Which leads me to another thought --
Going to college with your friends from home? It's hard. It's . . . impossible, in a lot of ways, because you aren't the same people you used to be.
You may lose them. It will hurt. It will hurt in ways you never expected and ways that I can't really describe. You'll look at people that you've known for years and you won't recognize who they've become.
Worse, they won't recognize you. 
I'm so sorry for that. But you can't lose heart, dear freshman, because there is still a lot left to see, a lot left to do, and a lot of people to meet.
You may move into a room with a girl you don't exactly . . . get. She probably won't get you either. You can still stay up for hours and talk about nothing. You can still find things in common. 
You may eat so much chips and queso, so much cereal, so much pasta, that when you come home for Thanksgiving you make yourself pitifully ill, because your body doesn't know how to digest meat anymore. (But really, it may be safer that way. It may be worth the pain.)
You may spend too much money on coffee. If that is, indeed, a thing that's actually possible. 
You will curse the expensive textbooks. You will not understand something. You will understand others and wonder why you're bothering to pay for the class. You will stay up too late, possibly drink too much illegal substances, or at least, have to hold back the hair of someone who have definitely had too much.
If you're lucky, you will fight. You will fight about politics, feminism, friendship, travel, music, technology, love, lust, and caffeine addiction. Every fight -- thought not always necessary -- will teach you something. You will get involved in things that fuel your passions and teach you about passions you never knew you had.
Change your major. Change it again. Do it early, and do it until you think it's right, and try and do it before you reach your junior year.
You may get your heart broken. I hope you do, actually. It's good for you, in the end. It's a real and horrible feeling, but it can also make you better and stronger. 
You may get your heart broken by your best friends. You may look back at those moments months later, and you may see them coming weeks in advance, and every time you look for them, you feel like you're breaking again. I can't tell you if that makes you better and stronger, but I can tell you that it will make your stories stronger. 
You will find someone worth risking breaking your heart again. I can't tell you if they will or not, because -- well, I'm single. I'm not particularly romantic, and some have even called me jaded. (Ahem.) But when you look at your college dorm rooms, and you panic because they are small and dark and full of strange belongings that are not yours and may actually offend you, you are looking at a chance. An experience. 
Boys will drunkenly chase rabbits through the streets. Girls will try and climb the buildings in their high heels. The lounge will fill up with a bunch of entitled, pretentious students that are either there to watch the presidential debate or Beauty and the Beast. 
Talk to them. 
Be their friends. Or don't, if you're more of a Cinderella person. (In which case, you're a freak.)
This is about you, and your chances, and your life.
Pack your bags. Relish your bed. Hug your parents and pet your animals, because you'll wish in a few months that you would have done more of that. For the love of god, eat whatever good food you can.
And get ready for your adventure.

Monday, June 3, 2013


A girl in my community died on Saturday.
She was 17.
She used to ride my school bus. I tutored her in debate sometimes, during high school, but somehow, I don't remember her as the beautiful cheerleader. I remember her as the awkward, gangly kid that had a crush on one of my best friends. I remember when she first started wearing makeup. I remember when she first joined debate. When I won a tournament in my senior year of high school, I heard her telling one of her friends that we grew up together, but that's not true. Neither one of us is grown up, not entirely. And one of us never will have the chance to.
The girl was not perfect, but she was often very sweet and she was very, very young and she was beautiful. She was obstinate and she was goofy and she should have lived for many more years.
I don't remember her as someone old enough to drive a car, let alone someone to crash her car.

Side Note: Wear your seat belts. Please -- just wear the damn thing. I don't care how old you are. I don't care if you're just driving into town. I don't care if it messes up your dress.
Second Side Note: If an animal runs in front of your car and it will hurt you to swerve, then hit the animal. You have no idea how much it hurts me to say that, but it's not something to forget.

They don't know how her car crashed, but I know that road. I've almost spun my car out avoiding deer on the way home from late night movies. I've swerved to avoid squirrels. I took my Nissan off the road one winter because the curves were covered in ice. I've checked my phone to see if my mom has texted me back and I've spent too many moments changing the music on my Ipod.
I drive that road fast and I drive it stupid, and so do all the other kids that live out where I do.
Why wouldn't we? We drive it every day.
Please, for the love of god, and for the love of all the people that care about you, don't drive stupid.
Even if it's funny. Even if you know the road. Even if you could drive the road with your eyes closed. Even if you're trying to impress a friend. It isn't worth it.
I drove past Monica's memorial on the way into town today. She lived out by me -- about ten minutes out of town, down a winding country road that seems to go on forever. There were a bunch of girls at her memorial, just sitting in the flowers and not saying anything.
Maybe that's because there isn't much to say.
Rest in peace, sweetheart.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I am done!
I am done, and I am alive. It took much, much studying, a lot of caffeine, a lot of tears as well as the blood of my enemies and a few early morning/late night ranting sessions as my dorm friends, but freshman year of college is done. I am slowly regaining a healthy sleeping pattern and the ability to eat red meat. (I didn't trust the dorm food, and so lived on mostly chicken, pasta, and apples. I then made myself painfully sick by coming home and gobbling steak. College freshmen, beware.) I am also becoming reacquainted with a hairbrush.
This is scarily accurate of my life.

I do not have much to say right now. Soon, I will post book reviews and rejoin the world. I'll talk about meeting some of my favorite authors, but Maggie already did that so I'm not overly planning on that. Oh! But soon, Alpha! And I will meet Scott Westerfeld and Tamora Pierce and all sorts of other amazing people and die of awesomeness. (Also, I'll eat dorm food for two weeks again. It'll never be done.)
My first year of college consisted of a lot of drunkenness (not by me -- I lived in a very lush dorm, apparently) and a lot of mutant squirrels (my campus must be feeding them steroids) and a lot of climbing on furniture and moaning about how much work had to be done and then waiting until two minutes before it was due to do it. I will regale this blog with stories of individual moments, I think, throughout the summer. First off, I want to remember those moments. Second, as a high school student, I know that I creeped through college kid blogs to try and figure out what college was like. Finally, I don't have anything else to say why not? 
Okay. Fare thee well, my bloglings! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Importance of Lectures

Hey, you. You're looking nice today. I really like your jaw. Also, your knees. You've got great knees. You should wear tutus more often, you know, to better emphasize them.
Speaking of sparkly clothing, I recently encountered a professor that taught our class about Angels in America while dressed in drag. It was a beautiful sequined red dress that I could never pull off, and one of the strangest classroom experiences I've had while in college. However, while it was a great lecture, and while I later got to see Tony Kushner talk about Angels in person, I have to say, this was not my best lecture in college. Don't get me wrong; both Kushner and my sequined professor gain major props. I mean, for one, sparkles. For another, a hauntingly beautiful Pulitzer prize winning play about death, destruction, and abandonment full of dark humor. I'm a fan of all of these things. Basically, it is . . .
I don't know who let me on the internet.
I go to a lot of lectures. Why not? For one, a lot of my classes require them. I took a Humanities course that has nothing to do with my major but everything to do with my attraction to literature, music, and art, and there were weekly lectures about everything from Descartes to Billie Holiday to things such as this:
I met a lot of wonderful professors and also learned that I really hate Descartes. (No, seriously, I really do.)
Back to lectures. They're great. We get a lot of extra talks for free -- and they're free, so why not go? I've dragged my friends to ones about the role of porn in modern society, what it means to be a country constantly at war, and what running a Fortune 500 company is really like. I like all of these things. It's fascinating, and it's great material for a someday story. 
I'm also a fan of journalists. I go to a school that brings in a lot of journalists, and I find that the lectures they give are some of the most inspiring. They are literally putting their lives on the line to chase a story, and I find that all kinds of cool. I've heard from multiple women held captive in various war zones and men that traveled through the South American jungle to follow a lead. Again, these are wonderful lectures. However, my favorite lecture of my freshman year did not come from a journalist, a writer, a CEO, or an entrepreneur. Instead, it came from a crook.

Or, I guess, a reformed crook.
I was cleaning out my desk in the slow attempt to dig out of my dorm room and I found a ticket stub from Frank Abagnale's speech at my college. If you don't know the story, look it up. Or, heck, you could just watch the movie. He said that it's largely accurate.
Abagnale's speech was eloquent, engaging, heart-breaking, thought provoking, and a lot of other adjectives. You may know that I used to do debate; by which I mean, I obsessively talked about my debate involvement for the past four years. I like speeches. On one level, this was my favorite because -- not surprisingly -- the man was just really, really eloquent. 
For another reason, though, I liked the story. It's a real life tale about a heist; he not only stole and lied, but he did it fantastically well. He was severely flawed, escaping from a divorce that his parents dropped from out of the sky. He fell in love; he got caught. He was internationally infamous and he spent a long time in a cold jail cell, eventually remaining there while his father passed away. It is a story that has you hooked. It's a story with a plot, an almost unbelievably brilliant MC, and ultimately, change. 
These are the reasons why lectures are beautiful. Sometimes, you sit and wonder why you aren't watching Merlin or doing your PoliSci homework. Others, though, you sit on the edge of your seat and take notes on your dying cell phone because you desperately want to remember the story. You keep the ticket stub between the pass that let you into the Presidential Inauguration and your program for the Vagina Monologues. 
Life is full of stories. We're living them every day. Sometimes, hearing other people's is the most exciting and invaluable thing you could be doing with your time -- and if you're in college, I know, there are tons and tons of really cool, glittery parties you can go to instead. Sometimes, though, put down the red solo cup and go grab one of those free tickets. 
That's my spiel, and I'm sticking to it. 
Goodbye, reader that probably does not exist! I must continue digging out of my dorm. Until then:

Monday, May 13, 2013


Hello, ducklings.
I'm drowning in the waves of finals, currently, and so I am making this brief. I am updating to remind myself of my revived determination to actually write fun things, and to do it well, and because I really, really am sick of studying and this still feels productive.
My life consists currently of a lot of Merlin and even more crying stoic undertakings to understand The Veil of Ignorance (people should make judgement without class or politics or other stupid things being in consideration? Maybe?) and trying to memorize the 117 terms my European History professor thought were necessary for my final. Also, no hablo espaƱol y mi examen es pronto. 
I have been accepted to Alpha again this year (I went in 2011) which means I will be learning from Scott Westerfeld, Tamora Pierce, Theodora Goss, and Justine Larbalasteir this summer. I'm even going as a Beta student, which means that my story will be given to all of the attendees of Alpha and I will do my best not to cry as they rip it to shreds learn the magic of critiques in a very intense and awesome setting. 
My goals for the summer include:
Stalking my librarian.
Finishing a rough draft of something. (I am intensely aware of non-writer people that can find this blog and also know me in real life, and I am too awkward to go into more detail about this sort of thing with friends. Obviously, strangers would be totally acceptable.)
Take Macroeconomics at a local university.
Make my mother take me on road trips. (Her job makes her travel. It'll be like Bring Your Kid To Work except College Edition!)
Rewatch episodes of Glee back from before it got terrible.

Annoy my friends, primarily this one
Read. Read. Read more. 
And finally, spend as much time as possible watching this:
Bradley James, you are the light in the darkness of Finals.

Prince Arthur has never looked so good.
Good luck to those of you with finals, and to the rest of you, I direct my unmitigated and jealous hate. 
Until then: