Tuesday Top Ten: Best Books I Discovered at a Book Event

Often times, tadalafil I’ll go to events to see an author or two, but I’ll end up discovering new ones. Sometimes I go to an event not having read any books by the authors on the list and I end up discovering a whole group of amazing authors to dive into. I think that’s what beautiful about book events. You always leave with a sudden urgency to dive into these new books.

So that’s what this week’s top 10 is all about. Its all about the books that came into my life because of book events. WIthout book events, I may not have ever read them but I am so glad that I met these authors and I could jump into these awesome books! Check out the top ten books I’ve read that I discovered at a book event :)

Yes, I know there are 12. It was SO hard to narrow it down haha.

12. Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

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Aaron Hartzler was an author I first encountered at the LA Times Festival of Books this year, and then a week later at the Pasadena Teen Book Fest. He was funny and charming and his book sounded SO good. I’ve never been much into memoirs and non-fiction books but I felt like I had to give this a chance because I just loved Aaron so much. It tells the story of Aaron’s life growing up, and how he is raised in a very conservative family and what that was like, and that sort of thing. It reads like a novel and its just so honest and beautiful and funny, and I love every bit of it.

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11. Noggin by John Corey Whaley  

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The first time I saw John Corey Whaley was at the LA Times Festival of Books back in April. I had heard of him, vaguely before, and had purchased his debut novel for his appearance at Ontario Teen Book Fest but I hadn’t really heard of him. After attending a panel with him, Andrew Smith, Rainbow Rowell, Aaron Hartzler and E. Lockhart and I knew immediately I had to read Noggin. I just read it recently and its SO good, and I’m so glad I read it. Its about a boy who has his head cryogenically frozen because he’s dying of cancer, and he’s woken up just five years later, in a world where he’s famous but his best friend and girlfriend have moved on from him. Its awesome, and I don’t know that I would have read it had I not seen him at FoB and TBF.

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10. Also Known As by Robin Benway 

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The first time I came into contact with Robin Benway was at the LA Times Festival of Books last year, 2013. She was in a panel with Sarah Dessen (!!), Morgan Matson (!!!!!), and Gayle Forman (!!). I had Gayle Forman’s books in my TBR pile so the new author to me was Robin and I loved her. She was so encouraging and she really believed in pushing yourself and not giving up and I knew that I had to read her. She was just so inspiring. I read Also Known As last year, I can’t remember when, and I adore it. Its so fun and light and adventurous and it has a cute boy and kissing and its awesome. I love Robin too, she’s SO sweet :) I ran into her at Disneyland once, which was kind of creepy because I knew she was there (Twitter!) and had been looking for her. Total creeper status! But its okay, because we laugh about it now. And she’s just awesome and I can’t wait for her next book!

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9. Parallel by Lauren Miller 

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Okay, this is KIND of cheating. A little. I was sent Free to Fall in the mail by a publicist friend of mine and had been about halfway through it before I met Lauren Miller at the Ontario Teen Book Fest. I immediately went home and needed to finish it because she was SO fun, and smart, and I had a good time meeting her. Then I saw her about a week ago at a Girls Gone Sci-Fi event and knew that I had to get Parallel. So technically I was brought to this book, and to my love of Lauren Miller, through a signing. I finished this book about a week ago and it blew my mind. I started it with the intention of finishing it the next day. Instead, I stayed up all night to read. Lauren writes a beautiful love story, wrapped up into this intricate and heart pounding sci-fi phenomenon of parallel worlds. Its brilliant.

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8. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

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THIS BOOK BLEW MY MIND. Seriously. Its been almost a year since I read it and I still just get tongue tied just thinking about it. Its just SO good. I discovered Jennifer Bosworth at the Ontario TBF last year, in 2013, and she talked about her life in a small town, and how she grew up in a religious family and how she sort of turned away from that, and it just resonated in me a lot. Then I read this book, and I was just floored. It makes you think so much, and she’s not afraid to write something that probably makes a lot of people’s jaws drop. It was beautiful and I’m so glad that I found this through that event. I only wish to write something as thought provoking as this.

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I discovered Carrie Arcos there too, but sadly I haven’t read her books yet. They are both in my TBR pile haha!

7. A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka

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I had no idea who Catherine Linka was or of this book at all until I was looking at the author lists for Pasadena Teen Book Fest and Ontario Teen Book Fest. Since she was an attendee at both, I knew that I had to check her out, and I realized that this book had yet to be released…and then I got my hands on an e-galley! Yay! And I love it. It takes place in Los Angeles (wee!) and its about a world where the female population is controlled almost entirely due to the fact that majority died because of something wrong in the beef supply. Its sort of futuristic but Catherine Linka raises a lot of attention toward the fact that women are constantly being controlled, our choices, our freedoms, our bodies, etc. Its a great book and I was glad to hear a sequel is coming! I can’t wait to read more! Plus, she’s the sweetest lady :)

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6. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis 

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I literally read this yesterday. YESTERDAY. I’m currently reading the sequel, which I found as an e-galley on edelweiss, yes, yes, yes. Sadly I do not have a picture with her, nor a signature because I just didnt’ realize it at the time. I’ve met Mindy once, at a signing in Las Vegas, when I basically dragged my dad, brother and boyfriend out there so I could meet Rae Carson. Because I’m awesome that way. But anyway, one of the authors that was there was Mindy and I’ve been thinking of this book ever since. I wish I had the money at the time to buy this book but its remained on my radar ever since. I received it as a gift this week and immediately dove into it. Its SO good, and I have so much inspiration from it to make the survival bits of The Awakened better. This book is all about survival and I think its brilliant. I hope I can meet her again one day, to get this book signed because I just loved it.

5. Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott 

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Okay, this is SO cheating. But kind of not. I said book event and that doesn’t necessarily mean that I had to meet them in person. Jessica Brody was having an online chat thing for the release of Unforgotten, the second book of the Unremembered trilogy, and she had Victoria Scott with her, whose new book, Fire and Flood was releasing as well. I adore Jessica and I really loved Victoria after that. She was funny, and fresh and she made her book sound like so much fun. I also won a small swag prize pack, that included a signed bookmark, so I knew I had to get this book. When it released just a few days later, I picked up immediately and went home and read it, and was SO glad I did. I think its brilliant and I’ve been literally dying since February to have the sequel. Any day now, Victoria, I’m ready for it ;)

4. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan 

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Another person I sadly do not have a picture with, even though I technically met her. Last year, when I met and interviewed Cassandra Clare, just after Clockwork Princess had released, I also met Sarah and Maureen Johson, who were her tour buddies. I had read a bit of Maureen Johnson, so she wasn’t new to me but Sarah was. I added both Unspoken and the Demon’s Lexicon to my TBR. I am not a huge fan of the Demon’s Lexicon BUT Unspoken was just brilliant. Jared Lynburn is one of my favorite book boyfriends ever. He’s beautiful and him and Jace Herondale should be best friends. For real. Sarah has this really fun main character, and she has diversity and her characters are real and I’m constantly laughing but also clutching the pages with fear. I keep trying to get my hands on a galley of the third book but no such luck…

3. Unremembered by Jessica Brody

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I had bought Unremembered and read about 30 pages when I met Jessica Brody for the first time. However, after meeting her, I knew I had to finish this book, and I did. I went home from WonderCon that day and literally finished the book that night. And now I’m a huge fan, and I kind of stalk her but I think we’re friends so that’s all good then, now isn’t it? But I think Unremembered is awesome, a sort of girl version of Jason Bourne, and following Sera on her crazy adventure is so fun. Watching her recite the most incredible knowledge and discover grilled cheeses for the first time and fall in love and all of it. I love it. Jessica was super funny, and I enjoyed meeting her that first time, and every time since. She said something about allowing yourself to write badly and I always remember it “Don’t be afraid to write crap; crap makes good fertilizer.” I try to remember that when I’m trying to write. She also told me, after I told her I was trying to be a writer, “Don’t try, just be one.” She’s awesome, basically, and I ADORE all her books, but especially this one.

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2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 

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AGH! I love you, Leigh and your books and you BLOW my mind. I first encountered Leigh Bardugo at the Ontario Teen Book Fest in 2013, when she was on a panel with Marie Lu, Jessica Brody, Jennifer Bosworth and Morgan Matson. All amazing fantastic authors. It is still one of my favorite panels ever. But anyway, the moderator had said something along the lines of there being very little strong female characters in the past and Leigh immediately went “Uh, Alanna?”, like, duh! Alanna, for those of you who don’t know, is from Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series, which is brilliant, by the way. Any time someone mentions Tammy, I’m sold. I bought Shadow and Bone, and fell in love with her and her books. She writes epic fantasy, and its beautiful written and the characters are wonderful and the entire trilogy is just amazing, and without TBF, I don’t know if I would have ever picked it up.

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1. Winger by Andrew Smith 

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If you know me at all, even in the slightest, I’m sure you could have guessed at my number one answer to this. This is legitimately one of my favorite books ever, and I only read it just over a year ago. It crawled straight into my heart and stayed there, stuck. It blew my mind. I first came into contact, literally, ever, with Andrew at the Teen Book Fest in Ontario last year, 2013, and he made such a massive impression. He was funny and inspiring and I just knew that I needed to read his book. All the authors kept telling me that we needed to read Winger and I bought it almost immediately after the Fest, and just…it was just SO freakin’ good. I love it so much. I am SO glad that I met him at TBF because I have read so many other books by him since then and I just love everything he’s written. (I mean, Grasshopper Jungle…blew my mind! Craziest book ever). He also is such a great person that I’ve gotten to know, and he’s been so amazing, recommending me for different things, and that just makes me want to fangirl like crazy.

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Basically, the purpose of this post was this: discover new authors! buy new books! Get out there, and get to book events, even if you don’t know the authors because you never know when you’ll discover someone new, or discover a new favorite book. Its incredible and I’m grateful for the many events that I’m able to attend and all the authors I’ve discovered :)

What are some of your favorite books that you’ve picked up after meeting the author? Share in the comments!

Why The Mortal Instruments Series is Important to Me

Pre-warning: there are NO City of Heavenly Fire spoilers in this post! 

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This past Tuesday, shop May 27th was the day that City of Heavenly Fire hit bookshelves. It is the very last book of The Mortal Instruments series. While we are going to be in the world of Shadowhunters for years to come, sale what with The Dark Artifices and The Last Hours series coming to bookshelves, this series is the one that started it all. I will get to read more of Shadowhunters and the Shadow World but it was bittersweet to say goodbye to Clary, Jace and the rest in this series. If you haven’t had a chance, you can check out my spoiler free review here, or my spoiler filled vlog here.

I haven’t been this sad of a series ending since the day that I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and that’s because I think the Mortal Instruments come in at a close second to the Harry Potter series, in what they mean to me and what they have done for me. The Mortal Instruments will NEVER touch Harry Potter for me, but Harry Potter has been in my life since I was 10 years old so…I highly doubt anything will ever be as important as that book series.

But the Mortal Instruments. I first picked up the books about four years ago. Four years ago, my life was….difficult. Not really hard. I have always been fairly lucky in the life that I’ve had, even during the hard times, even during the struggles. But four years ago, I went through something that was pretty hard for me. My boyfriend and I both went through something hard, and instead of turning to each other, we turned against each other. We stopped showing affection to each other, we were fighting all the time, it was awful. We broke up. And what was the worst about it was…I not only had the task of dealing with the heartbreak but no one understood, really, why it was more than just a normal heartbreak. I was dealing with so many emotions. My boyfriend had gone on tour with his band, so he was well distracted but I was at home, stuck in my own thoughts, miserable.

So what do I do when I’m miserable?

Head to a bookstore, of course. I went on a trip to Borders. (Oh Borders, how I miss you). I needed to get out of the house, I needed a distraction, to get out of my own head. Back then, I wasn’t a blogger so I wasn’t as involved with the book world as I am now. Now I go into a bookstore and I recognize so many titles that I despair that I can only purchase one or two. Back then, I had to rely on just looking on titles and things like that. I was wandering the Young adult section and the title “City of Bones” jumped out at me. I read the back, decided that I liked it well enough and purchased it. I went home that night, and dove into it for the first time.

The next time, I was at the bookstore and purchasing City of Ashes. I went back the VERY next day to purchase City of Glass. I read the snippet of Clockwork Angel at the end, and waiting eagerly for it to come out a couple months later. I waited patiently for the release of Fallen Angels the next year, and met her for the very first time. The speed in which this books came crashing into my life and stayed there permanently is incredible and it still kind of blows my mind. Only one book series had done that since then, and still not with the way that this series did.

I loved the story, I loved how it weaved the familiar world that we know with this beautiful fantasy world. I wanted to be a Shadowhunter. I love tattoos and the fact that they could bring you strength and agility and things like that blew my mind. I loved the weapons and the Institute. I loved Idris and this country tucked away from everything else. Everything about this world was fantastic to me. There was romance and action and lots of humor and sarcasm. I fell in love with all the characters.

But I especially fell in love with two.

First off, I love Alec Lightwood. The person that Alec Lightwood is…unsure and scared, afraid to be the person that he is, afraid to share the emotions buried deep within him…it all felt so familiar. He felt like the most real character in the books. I know people didn’t like him at first, because of the way he treated Clary, and the obsession he had with Jace but I thought he was real and raw and genuine. His story reached out to me and watching him grow and change over the course of six books.

And then there was Jace Wayland Morgenstern Herondale Lightwood, whatever you want to call him. I don’t know if I would have fallen in love with as much as I did as a fictional boyfriend and a fictional character if I wasn’t in the middle of a breakup with my boyfriend. But I loved everything about him. I loved that he was this badass warrior, and that he was raised to not believe in love and Clary was changing that in him, and that he said the sweetest things and that was also kind of crazy. Come on, let’s think about…going into Hunter’s Moon and picking fights with werewolves? That’s kind of crazy. He’s been one of my absolute favorite characters since then, and definitely my number one fictional crush.

But he was also kind of my escape, from the misery that I was feeling at the time. It made me think that boys could say still say cute things, even when they mess up, and I lost myself in the romance of Jace and Clary. It kept me sane. I devoured those books and they kept me from wallowing in even more misery that I already was. I wouldn’t say they saved my life, because I had never considered that my life was over, but they saved my emotions, my sanity, my well-being. I was a wreck and these books helped to put me back together.

And they still do that.

When I’m having a really bad time, a tough time, there are two book series that I turn to: Harry Potter and the Mortal Instruments. They both can make me feel better even on the darkest of days. Even when I feel the worst.

But the books did more than just be books that will sit on my shelves forever, and stories that I’ll dive into again and again. They inspire me to be a better write, they inspire me to write beautiful books. I want to write books that have characters that are loved like these, and have stories that are addicting and stories that make people cry the way I cried while reading City of Heavenly Fire. I am inspired every day by Cassandra Clare.

She also taught me so much about fear, about accepting your fears, in order to overcome them. This is a huge part of the first trilogy in this series. Clary’s fear of fitting into the Shadowhunter world. Isabelle’s fear of love. Jace’s fear of letting anyone. Valentine’s fear (and jealousy) of the Downworlders. Jocelyn’s fear for Clary’s safety. Alec’s fear for being himself. Simon’s fear of being left behind. SO much fear, but by the time we reach the end of City of Glass, they have either accepted those fears, are working on them or have conquered them. She shows us that we don’t need a Fearless rune to do this but that courage and bravery come from inside of us, to overcome those things that make us so afraid. This is why I have a fearless rune tattoo, to remind myself that I can strong enough and brave enough to over come anything.

They have also brought me into a world I never expected. I had been blogging for nearly a year when I met Cassandra Clare for the second time. I was able to interview her (you can check out that video here), and it opened a lot of doors for me as a blogger. Then I met her about three weeks later, at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and put together a Shadowhunter meet-up, where I met some new friends, most importantly, my fangirl bestie, Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels.

Not only did her books bring me to some amazing friends BUT they in turn introduced me to a world bigger than the one I had known. I showed them the beauty of all the book events and they introduced me to movie premieres. Without that meetup, and meeting all those friends, I would have never even thought to go to premieres like City of Bones, Catching Fire, Vampire Academy and Divergent. These books have given me a community of friends all over the world. I’ve been messaging online and texting on my phone nonstop for the last 48+ hours about the release of City of Heavenly Fire, and I love this community and what it has given to me, and what I hope I have given back. I have met so many amazing friends because of it.

So some people think I’m crazy and some people probably look at me and think “its just a book”. But its so much more than that, so much more. I loved the finale of the series, though I admit I did have some beef with the ending, but whatever I feel for this book, it is so sad and bittersweet to see it end. I know that we will continue into the lives of Lucie and James Herondale in The Last Hours and the lives of Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn in The Dark Artifices. I know that we have not yet left the Shadowhunter world but leaving behind the world of Clary, Jace, Alec, Magnus, Isabelle, Simon, Jocelyn, Luke, Maia, Jordan, and so many many more is heartbreaking. I will miss them and their romances and their antics and their adventures. Its hard to say good bye because of how much this series meant to me.

Check out some pictures from my TMI adventures over the last couple years, including meeting Cassie, the cast of the movie, the red carpet premiere of the movie, hanging out with TMI friends, and my tattoo.

And don’t forget to share what The Mortal Instruments mean to you in the comments! 

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My Reserved Seat when I met Cassie at her Clockwork Princess Launch in Mission Viejo and I interviewed her!

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March 2013: Myself and Cassandra Clare after I interviewed her. Im pretty sure I’m dying inside right now…

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Meeting Cassandra Clare in April 2013, at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. You can see her husband Josh on the right, and Vivi Hebel, the brains behind Hebel Design, on the right

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Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson, March 2013, at the Mission Viejo event

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A really bad picture of me and my sister in front of Cassie’s epic tour bus after the Mission Viejo event. There were NO lights in the parking lot so this is how the pictures kept turning out haha

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The Shadowhunter Meet Up at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2013. I met SO many amazing friends here.

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Myself and Jamie Campbell Bower aka Jace Wayland at the City of Bones World Premiere

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Myself and Godfrey Gao (and my photobombing friend Jane haha) aka Magnus Bane and my Magnus Bane doll at the TMI World Premiere

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My sister and I at the Clockwork Princess Mission Viejo event. I was so nervous before interviewing Cassie that I just kept taking pictures

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Myself and Cassie Clare at the TMI City of Bones World Premiere

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Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels, Harald Zwart (Director of City of Bones), myself and our friend Jane, camping out for the TMI City of Bones World Premiere

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Me and the beautiful Aidan Turner, aka Luke Garroway, at the TMI City of Bones World Premiere

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Kevin Zegers, aka Alec Lightwood, came by in the morning and brought cookies to all of us that had camped overnight. It was a beautiful moment and a beautiful way to wake up

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Meeting Jamie, Cassie, Lily and Kevin at WonderCon 2013. I won a VIP meet and greet with them, got a book and poster signed by them and got to take pictures :)

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Myself and Cassie Clare at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2013. I look less like I’m freaking out in this picture…

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Jamie Campbell Bower, Robbie Sheehan, Kevin Zegers and Cassandra Clare at the Los Angeles TMI Mall Tour Stop

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A photographer asked me and Harald Zwart to pose as if he was drawing my tattoo on, and then he signed underneath. Such a weird but cool moment

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My signed copy of City of Bones from the TMI World Premiere signed by…well a lot of people

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Me and Robbie Sheehan, aka Simon Lewis, at the TMI City of Bones World Premiere

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Meeting the lovely ladies behind TMI Venezuela and TMI Colombia while waiting for the TMI Mall Tour in LA to start!

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Me and my fangirl bestie, my parabatai, Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels at the TMI City of Bones Mall Tour

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Me and my friends Alex, Mina, Stephanie, Jade, Cassandra, Ally and Sylvia, all friends I’ve made through TMI, waiting for Jamie CB to perform on Venice Boardwalk

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Sylvia and I showing Carmen (HomeOfNephilim) the awesome Santa Monica Pier. TMI brought us all together :)

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My fearless rune tattoo, that I got back in November of 2012

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