See you in 2022

1/10/2022 Update: One last update on this post before I put it to bed and move onto to new posts. Mom came home from the nursing home on January 3. She left a little earlier than planned but her mental health was such that she needed to get home. I also feel like with the continuing bad covid situation, we made the right choice.

Mom has been improving every day. She still gets tired easily and is definitely not back to 100% but she is able to move around the apartment no problem. Bella, our puppy, was scared when she came back home in the wheelchair (Bella doesn’t like moving furniture) but I’m happy to report things are back to normal on that front now too. Bella is very happy to be part of a two person household once more and has resumed jumping on Mom at inopportune moments just like before.

Thank you again to everyone who checked on me and my mom and Bella during a very rough December. Thank you again to everyone who kept us in your thoughts. I always knew I had the best blog readers and social media followers but this confirmed it, I have been so grateful and so humbled to have so many people in my corner. Thank you.

12/23 update: I’m writing this update with a lonely puppy in my lap. Bella looks for Mom around the apartment every morning. After we went for a walk she ran back to search for my mom to no avail.

Mom was transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility (a nursing home with short stay options) last night. I’m really glad she’s out of the hospital as covid cases continue to rise. Have you ever seen a zombie movie where everything is fine, then the news starts talking about weird headlines, then suddenly you’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? Being at the hospital feels a lot like that right now.

In retrospect, as ominous as it felt I’m glad Mom had a lot of contact protocols in place. I had to be in a gown, rubber gloves, and a mask the entire time I visited her. Which is so scary. But hopefully kept her from being exposed to other stuff.

The rehab place feels so much better and safer. I didn’t even realize how scared I was having her in the hospital right now.

Mom’s slowly trying to eat again and she’ll be getting physical therapy at this new place to get her strength back. We’re still taking it one day at a time and trying not to dwell too hard on missing Christmas. I am also trying to take care of myself and get rest so that I don’t make myself sick while being there for Mom.

The double whammy of this happening during the holidays and a pandemic has been unreal.

Honestly, I’m not going to make any pleas to anyone to get vaccinated or wear a mask. If you aren’t doing those two incredibly small things to protect yourself and others, I have nothing left to say to you. I have no sympathy left for anyone leaving their job over vaccine mandates and no patience for anyone acting like the pandemic is in any way over.

I’ll close with a thank you (again) to everyone who has been checking on me, showing up for me, and being there for me (and sending Seamless gift cards). It still feels like a long road but it doesn’t feel like it’s all up hill anymore.

12/19 Update: I have an update and I thought id add it here for anyone who might be following. Mom isn’t going to be home for Christmas.

She was admitted to the ER Thursday after falling twice at home and being very sick and dehydrated. We have since found out she has rotavirus. No idea where she got it.

The main treatment for rotavirus is to let it run its course but it’s wreaked such havoc on my mom’s entire system. She hasn’t been eating since Thursday and she’s extremely weak. Aside from not starting at 100% (I suspect the hospital doesn’t fully understand how she navigated the world before as an elderly/disabled person but that’s a different story).

Right now she can’t get out of bed and she’s still on fluids and they’re trying to figure out what she can eat without aggravating her symptoms. She has some IVs for electrolytes and fluids too but it’s sort of a wait and see stage I think.

The doctors are saying maybe two weeks. But I think a lot depends on how she continues to respond to fluids etc.

Thank you to everyone who has checked in or offered well wishes. This isn’t the first holiday I’ve spend worrying about my mom in the hospital but I sure hope it’s the last.

It’s especially scary right now with covid cases on the rise. All I ever want in situations like this is to not be alone. But I can’t even ask that of anyone right now because I’m exposed to so much stuff every time I go into the hospital.

Part of the protocol for rotavirus involves having a gown and gloves on the entire time I’m with my mom in her room–same for anyone else going in–so it’s been extra fun. I just dropped $50 on disposable face masks and N95 masks and I’m just really hoping we get out on the other side of this soon.

12/16: I’m putting the blog on hiatus until the new year. This post started shorter while I decided what I was comfortable sharing but I decided I didn’t want to talk around it.

Partly this is because I was sick for three weeks after thanksgiving and that burned through my entire queue of written posts. So I need more content. But then something else happened.

My mom is in the hospital. She fell and was in bad shape with symptoms presenting as sepsis. Her numbers are improving but it’s an as yet unidentified infection. Longtime followers will know this isn’t my mother’s first serious hospitalization.

I don’t think it’s as bad as her previous ones. Her numbers are improving but she’s very weak and has a fever. So it’s hard to feel like things are moving in the right direction. Im not even sure if they are honestly. And I’m not taking it as well. I was hysterical and had a massive panic attack when I called 911. I’m still waiting to find some kind of baseline. But I don’t know how to do that.

Being in a hospital in the middle of a pandemic is a nightmare. I’m writing this in my mom’s room while she sleeps. I’m in a face mask and a gown because they’re still isolating the source of the infection. You know, on top of worrying about covid in the hospital.

I don’t really have a grand statement here. I’m grateful to all of my friends who have been checking in and helping me make sure my puppy Bella is okay. But it’s still exhausting and I still feel so isolated and lost and scared.

If you have any space for it, please keep my mom in your thoughts and I’ll be back in 2022.

See Me (Virtually) in October at the Tampa Bay Teen Lit Fest

I have some fun news! This October I’ll be moderating a panel for the Tampa Bay Teen Lit Fest.

The Lit Fest is entirely virtual and will be presenting virtual author panels and keynotes throughout October.

I’ll be moderating the “Forging Your Own Path” panel featuring authors Romina Garber, Thanhha Lai, and Debbie Rigaud on Thursday October 21 at 6:30pm EST.

This panel focuses on teens struggling to come into their own, trying to do what’s right for them in the face of adversity, destiny, and sometimes most difficult of all: family. Join a panel of authors Thanhhà Lai (Butterfly Yellow), Debbie Rigaurd (Simone Breaks All the Rules), and Romina Garber (Lobizona) for a discussion moderated by Blogger/Librarian Emma Carbone.

You can register for my panel here:

Full details for the author fest can be found here:

“Bad” Romance: In Defense of Love Triangles and Insta-Love (ContempConvos)

wo incredibly common and much-maligned conceits in YA are love triangles and insta-love.

One of my favorite quotes about romance in YA comes from author Ally Carter:

“Being a teen isn’t about figuring out who you should be with. It’s about figuring out who you should BE.”

Love triangles and insta-love can both be big parts of that search for identity.

Teens have parents telling them where to go, teachers prescribing what they read or write in school, and demands coming from tons of other places as they get ready to face “real” life in college and beyond. It is very rare for a teen to be in a position where they can truly make a choice (much less one that involves saying “no”) entirely on their own. One way to show teens in that power position–taking ownership of their life in a very literal sense–is with a love triangle.

Teenagers are fickle creatures. They have years and years ahead of them to settle down. Why not have a book with multiple love interests? Why not let them explore their options with two or even more love interests?

As for insta-love, well, isn’t that just shorthand for love at first sight?

There are a lot of instances where both of these things can be handled badly. There is the potential for a forced relationship or one with insufficient stakes. Underdeveloped characters or thin plots can be especially disastrous for love triangles or insta-love as making either trope seem contrived or as if it came without the proper foundation.

But as with any literary device if a love triangle or insta-love is handled well it doesn’t detract from a story. Instead, it can complicate and depth to an already rich story or even a new facet to a character’s personality.

Now that I’ve told you why I’m all for love triangles and insta-love (done well) here are some recommended books (click the titles to read my reviews):

Love Triangles:

  1. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  2. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  3. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  4. The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
  5. Odd One Out by Nic Stone


  1. The Jewel by Amy Ewing
  2. Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
  3. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  4. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
  5. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

This post originally appeared at The Talking Bookworm in 2016 as part of Veronica’s Contemporary Conversations series. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer TBR

These are some of the books at the top of my summer to read list.

  1. An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi
  2. A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
  3. Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason
  4. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
  5. The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White
  6. All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue
  7. Baby & Solo by Lisabeth Posthuma
  8. Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells
  9. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  10. The Bonemaker by Sarah Beth Durst

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

When Have YOU Been #indeep?

This post originally appeared on Terra Elan McVoy’s blog in 2014 as part of a series of guest posts about people ending up in over their head to promote her book In Deep:

In November 2013 I felt like I was drowning.

Back in January I had said 2013 would be my year, but by November I was still underemployed and feeling the pressures that come with an unsuccessful job search and the responsibilities of being head of household. Then my aunt died and, like dominoes, the bad news started to pile up.

The non-cancerous brain tumor my mother’s doctors had all ignored was suddenly a very big problem pushing on her optic nerves, destroying her sense of smell and impacting her memory. Worse the tumor had been causing non-convulsive seizures of varying degrees for the past year. But it was only that fall, when we finally got my mom to a specialist, that anyone seemed to care about the seizures or even believe me when I explained what happened.

What was supposed to be a gradual thing we could slowly prepare for became a whirlwind. An appointment with a neurologist revealed the tumor had to come out and, in fact, should have come out years ago. A neurosurgeon confirmed that and offered a referral to a skull-base specialist. After a seizure in the office of the skull-base surgeon my mom was admitted to the hospital. I spent every appointment feeling like I was going to throw up.

Her tumor removal surgery lasted twelve hours. I spent most of that day in the hospital waiting area wondering who would come out to tell me if something went wrong. I anxiously watched every doctor passing through, certain they were going to tell me something horrible. It hurt to walk out of the hospital to get food. It was even worse sitting there, stagnant, waiting for some snippet of news.

I didn’t hear anything about how it went until 11pm that night. Just when I was wondering if the surgeon was going to tell me anything, I got the call. The surgery had gone well but my mom was being kept under sedation, in a medically induced coma, to avoid the risk of a stroke. (My aunt had died of a stroke months before.) I cried for twenty minutes after I hung up.

The next day when I could see my mom, she was still sedated with a breathing tube and a drainage tube in her head. I had to leave when I first saw her, fleeing to the Intensive Care Waiting Room. I burst into tears there surrounded by other people too wrapped up in their own unhappiness to take much notice of mine.

When my mom woke up she was agitated and just barely recognized me. She kept asking to go home which I knew was impossible for the moment. Even now I get a little upset and a little teary thinking about it. (My mom doesn’t remember any of this or the week leading to the surgery, something for which I am grateful as it was all a panic-fueled haze of misery.) It’s a horrible feeling seeing someone you love in such a vulnerable and painful position. Every day I am impressed with my mom and so incredibly humbled by everything she has survived and continues to endure. I am so glad she is okay.

But that November I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it through surgery much less how normal she would be after. My mom was convinced she was going to die and, for a little while, especially those twelve hours of the surgery, I thought maybe she was right. I never thought the tumor would kill her but so many other things can go wrong in surgery. You just never know.

I knew I would be physically okay. My mom had raised me well and I was smart; I would survive because that’s what she taught me to do. But that doesn’t make it an easier thing to contemplate a parent’s mortality. I’ve never lived with anyone but my mom and I often think of myself as part of a “we,” so it was very hard those weeks alone while she was in the hospital to admit that even if this surgery went perfectly, things would change eventually. It was so much more than I wanted to deal with. So much more than I could handle.

But sometimes, through your own choices or others’, that’s what happens. You do get in over your head. Things do start falling apart. It’s only recently–after the surgery going well, after I started a full-time job that I love, after I realized I didn’t have to scramble to afford groceries–that the drowning feeling passed. It’s only recently that I found myself realizing I’m happy and okay.

Here’s the thing about being in over your head: You can get through it. I learned that a support system can go far and there is no shame ever in admitting that you are scared or that you need help. I didn’t always see my friends and family, but I texted and talked on the phone constantly. I had friends sending positive vibes through twitter and blog comments. It didn’t make the panic and the fear go away because nothing could do that. But it made it bearable.

I also learned that even when you think it’s all too much, even when you think you can’t possibly handle everything that needs to be dealt with, you will. People are amazingly resilient and shockingly strong. I hope most people don’t have to get in deep before things start to go right but I have learned that, even when it feels like nothing will ever be okay, eventually things will improve.

Obviously 2013 was decidedly not my year. I won’t say I’m a better person because of everything that happened that year. But I know I am stronger. I’m older and wiser and I know now that I am tougher and more capable than I would have thought possible even a year earlier.

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences

Long titles are the best titles so it was fun picking these books with titles that are complete sentence. Click the titles to read my reviews.

  1. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
  3. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  4. I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
  5. No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett
  6. Recommended For You by Laura Silverman
  7. Killing November by Adriana Mather
  8. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
  9. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  10. Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Nature on the Cover

As my graphic shows, I love trees and nature imagery so this was a fun one to pick books for. Click the covers below to read my reviews!

Ever Cursed by Corey Ann HayduThe Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat HowardYou Have a Match by Emma LordInto the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth MeyerTales From the Hinterland by Melissa AlbertGirl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa BashardoustA Treason of Thorns by Laura E. WeymouthSpindle and Dagger by J. Anderson CoatsThe Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Most Recent Reads (Reviews)

Instead of sharing my ten most recent reads, I thought it would be fun to share my ten most recent review posts here on the blog (click the titles to read my full review):

  1. Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Julia Iredale: What begins as a story about a spoiled girl and a common boy becomes, in the author’s capable hands, a much larger commentary on art, friendship, and identity as we watch Melisto and Rhaskos transform, becoming “the girl as electric as amber, the boy, indestructible as clay.”
  2. Mayhem by Estelle Laure: Mayhem is ideal for readers who like their witches fierce and their vampire references vintage.
  3. Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock: Recommended for short story fans and readers of suspense.
  4. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp: A thoughtful, fast-paced story perfect for readers looking for a romance with an unlikely connection and delicious food descriptions.
  5. Can We Talk About Consent?: A Book About Freedom, Choices, and Agreement by Justin Hancock, illustrated by Fuchsia Macaree: Unfortunately a book design that seemingly failed to consider that this book has to be read makes it difficult to easily interface with much of that information–particularly for anyone who is visually impaired or needs larger and clearer text to read.
  6. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley: A taut, perfectly plotted mystery with a protagonist readers won’t soon forget. Highly recommended.
  7. Pointe by Brandy Colbert: This is a messy story about a terrible turn of events and, at the end, an impossible decision.
  8. Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu: Recommended for readers with an equal interest in feminism (or feminist theory) and fairy tales.
  9. Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan: Dugan is a great writer and brings all of the fun (and less fun) elements of the comics world to life in this inventive take on Shakespeare’s classic play.
  10. The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer: Readers looking for a fun rom com should pick this one up with caution.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

ARC Adoption Program Updates

You may have noticed that my ARC Adoption page was quiet.

It’s back now and updated with streamline due dates, and open to anyone with a platform where they can share long form reviews.

Details, requirements, and available titles can be found here:

Top Ten Tuesday: Colorful Book Covers

This prompt was too fun to pass up! Click any of the covers below to see my review.

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina MorenoFollow Your Arrow by Jessica VerdiHappily Ever Afters by Elise BryantFelix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Amelia Unabridged by Ashley SchumacherYou Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Lucky Caller by Emma MillsWe Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian

Past Perfect by Leila Sales The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.