Tuesday Top Ten – Authors I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know, buy I know, buy not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving but I’m feeling particularly festive this week! I have a Magnus Chase giveaway going on right now, website I’m about to eat LOTS of food very soon, and my book releases in exactly a week! There’s plenty to be excited about and plenty to be thankful for.

I’m excited to hopefully get more involved with blogging, seeing as I’ve been very bad at it lately. I’ve been SO SO insanely busy but I’m glad to be back. I thought returning to the Tuesday Top Ten with a post about authors that I’m thankful for!

They are in no particular order :)

JK Rowling 

It should come as no surprise that Queen Rowling ended up on this list. She is easily my favorite author and she has been an influence on me since I was a child. She is an incredible writer, one of the best world builders I’ve ever encountered and full of so much magic and love. I feel a connection to her books and to her struggle through poverty and welfare and depression, and how she’s conquered so much of that. She’s a beautiful human being and I’m so glad that I’ve been lucky enough to read her the past 17 years. Her books saved me from a ton of heartbreak as a child, she gave me an escape when I had none and I would not be here as the person I am without her.

Tamora Pierce 

I’m grateful for Tamora Pierce for so many reasons. For being a great writer. For being insanely sweet when I met her and cried my eyes out. For creating strong female characters long before most of the YA authors we know did. For writing amazing fantasy. But I think mostly I am grateful to her for giving me my love for fantasy. Besides Harry Potter and LoTR, I wasn’t much into fantasy until I discovered her Tortall books. That’s when I learned how familiar fantasy can be, how you can get lost in this world that is completely made up but still feels as familiar as the one you know. Tammy gave me my love for fantasy…easily.

Cassandra Clare

I honestly have to thank Cassandra Clare for a lot of things. She gave me two incredible series that are easily my favorites. She gave me worlds that gave me a ton of bravery. But mostly? Her books came into my life at a time when I was falling apart and I didn’t know if I could get back out of it. I was depressed, more so than I had ever been in my life, when I found myself wandering the bookstore and stumbled upon City of Bones and that book saved me from myself. The whole series did. I’m so thankful for Cassandra and her books.

Jessica Brody

I can’t even begin to describe the gratitude I have for Jessica Brody. As an author and as a friend. She is a great author and has been an incredible inspiration for me. I love knowing that she writes contemporary and science fiction, adult and YA and she gives me the motivation to be all over the place too in my writing. But she also is the reason I’m the blogger than I am and the writer than I am, the person I am. She taught me so many amazing tricks. She has given me the best advice. She has lead me on the right path so many times. I can’t even begin to describe how much she means to me.

Leigh Bardugo 

The fact that I can call this amazing, talented, fantastic, hilarious author friend blows my mind every single time. She’s fabulous. She’s a great writer, one that blows my mind with each and every book that I read by her. She is so inspiring with her world building; it makes me work harder and harder. She’s a great friend, and she’s given me great advice over the years. She’s made me feel important and she’s made me believe that I can do this. I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful for these amazing books that she’s given us.

Andrew Smith

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I am so thankful for Andrew Smith…because he is one of the best authors I’ve ever read, in my entire life, for so many reasons. He is able to write so many things in one, humor and fantasy and science fiction and romance and all of this in one big thing. He’s incredibly talented and very humble about it. And he connects with his fans so well. He treats them all with such respect and I admire it so much. I admire his love for literature, his love for his family, for travel, for his job, and his passion for just being himself and writing the books he wants to write. I wish very much that I could be more like him, as a writer and a person. And through all of this…he calls me friend. That is just the most surreal thing ever.

Jennifer L Armentrout 

I adore JLA. I love her so much and its because I hope to be an author like her. She writes with humor and she writes everything. She writes paranormal and fantasy and romance and science fiction and so many of her books are so good. I’ve been rereading the Covenant series recently and I’m remembering why I love it so much and I’m reminded of how much that series was a huge influence on The Awakened. She’s so incredible. I love that she writes with humor, like the way she would talk, because I do the same thing. She’s a huge influence for me. I also love her because she wrote Scorched, which tackled mental illness and really hit home for me. I love that when I told her what that book meant to me, she hugged me and told me she was proud of me for getting help. She’s an amazing author and person.

Rainbow Rowell 

I think Rainbow Rowell is one of the best YA authors to exist right now. She writes stories that just grab you and make you feel like yelling, yes, exactly, this is exactly right. She writes the human soul so well…all of her books bring tears to my eyes because of how well she captures human emotion. But I am so grateful and thankful for her because she wrote Fangirl. That book’s main character, Cath, is one of the only characters I can say with 100% certainty is much much like me. I kept reading through the book, thinking, yes, this is exactly how I feel. This is exactly what I mean. This is exactly the person I am. She just…its like she took my personality and put it on paper. I am so thankful for her creating a character that I can connect with so much.

Richelle Mead

Its funny that Richelle Mead came to mean so insanely much to me when I avoided reading the Vampire Academy series for SO SO long. But eventually I did it and I am so glad I did because Richelle writes beautiful fantasy which fantastically sassy main characters. Her Rose Hathaway is one of my favorite characters ever and was a huge influence on my Zoey Valentine for sure. She’s an incredible influence…and she showed me that you can take something that has been done a million times, like vampires, like zombies, and turn it into your own story, something new and unique and compelling. The Awakened exists a lot because of her and her series.

Melissa Landers

I cheated and put eleven authors on this list. I know, I said ten but whatever. Eleven works well. I had to put Melissa on here because I am so thankful for her as an author. She has always been a sweetheart to me and has always treated me with the utmost respect. And I just love her books. Her books showed me that you can have science fiction and romance in one and make it work so well. Alienated was a massive influence on The Awakened in the romance sense. Aelyx and Cara’s relationship influences Zoey and Ash’s so much and I’m so incredibly grateful for her fabulous blend of science fiction and romance. May she continue to write awesome books again and again.

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Who are some of the authors YOU are grateful for? Share in the comments!

Tuesday Top Ten – Underrated YA Book Series

So I was  browsing around Facebook yesterday when I came across a Buzzfeed article about the 29 Underrated YA Book Series. Of course I had to click on it.

And while I love several of the choices on that list, no rx I thought, try I should do my own list. There are GREAT series on there, but a lot of them aren’t what I would call underrated or unnoticed. Percy Jackson? Huge. HUGE. And they got two movies. Infernal Devices? Again. HUGE. All Souls? Incredibly popular and not YA right? I don’t know to be honest, I haven’t read them. I know they aren’t shelved with YA. The Chicken Soup series? Didn’t everyone have those when I was in middle school/high school? And so on.

So that brings us to today’s Tuesday Top Ten…my favorite YA series that just don’t get enough attention. Which is why I’m talking about them. So they get more attention. Because I’m just awesome that way.

Let’s do this.

Oh, I’ll add one more thing. All of these get GREAT reviews, and have received an abundance of praise and accolades and all the huge reviewers and all that love them. By “underrated” I mean, by the masses that tend to enjoy YA. The people that don’t much more than Hunger Games and Divergent and that sort of thing.

Moving on…

10. The Across the Universe Trilogy by Beth Revis

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I love love love this series. Beth Revis takes humanity, sticks them on a space ship and gets them lost for centuries. Humanity has basically all but disappeared on this ship until one of the humans who was supposed to be frozen until they arrive at this “new” earth awakes…and chaos and romance and all sorts of things erupt. Its fantastic. There is just SO much about this series that is so good. I have a hard time finding people who have read it and I get so excited when I do!

9. The Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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So JLA was on this BuzzFeed list, but with the Lux series. That series, the Wait for You series and the Dark Elements series…they’re all fairly popular. They are the ones that I feel like people talk about when it comes to JLA. But my absolute favorite of her series is hands down The Covenant series. SO freakin good! Alex and Aidan are hot as hell, they have a steamy and intense and fun romance, and their world is chaotic and full of action and drama and …more intensity. And its Greek mythology with a new twist and I love every single bit of it.

8. The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot

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Meg Cabot is not exactly underrated but she has so many series that often times some of them get lost underneath the ones she’s really known for like The Princess Diaries. This is one of my absolute favorites by her. It has ghosts! And a girl who likes to beat them up when they don’t want to cooperate. And a super hot Spanish ghost that’s a really great kisser. Its just awesome. The entire series is just SO flippin good. Meg manages to write this amazing paranormal romance that also makes you laugh again and again and again.

7. The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

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This series was actually on the list and it was one of the few that I really agreed should be on this list. I first picked up this list when my ex told me to pick out a book and I thought the cover was beautiful and then I proceeded to consume the entire series in a matter of days. Its so beautifully written and it has everything you could want in a book. It has romance and action and politics and action and humor and discovery and uncertainty and god…everything. I can’t speak highly enough of this series. Its legitimately one of my favorites ever.

6. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

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UGH. God. This series. I’m meeting Libba for the first time this weekend at YALL West, and I legit can’t handle that kind of pressure. I’m going to cry or something. I actually accidentally picked up the second book first (whoops) but rectified and continued on to enjoy this beautiful trilogy. It takes place in Victorian English countryside at a boarding school that is hiding all sorts of secrets. Its so dark but funny at the same time and its full of a new kind of magic and I love every bit of it. I need a re-read of this soon actually…

5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson

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Let’s put it this way: I would not drive all the way to Vegas (about a 4 to 5 hour drive) just to meet her for one day if I didn’t think this series was that amazing. What makes this great is that its this sort of Chosen One story but the Chosen One is the last person you’d expect. Elisa is fat and uncertain and unsure and you kind sit there and think, her? Really? But its just so great. And the world building and the magic and the evolution of the main character throughout the three books…my little book loving heart just can’t handle the beauty of this trilogy.

4. The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

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There WAS a series by Tammy on the list but I chose this one for a huge reason: its the first series of the epicness of the Tortall world. The one they chose is the third one and kind of…spoils the first two series for sure. haha. Plus let’s face it…Tammy has a handle on this YA fantasy since the early 80s and just not enough people are reading her. She’s amazing. Her writing, the characters she creates, the way she manages to keep the world of Tortall alive after so many decades…its impossible not to absolutely love her. This series is about a girl who disguises her gender for YEARS in order to become a knight, and then basically does whatever the hell she wants once everyone finds out. YES. I want to shove all of her books down all of your throats. Sorry. Not really.

3. The Airhead Trilogy by Meg Cabot

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Why, yes, I did pick two Meg Cabot series. This is another one that kind of disappears when it comes to Meg. But its legitimately my favorite. Besides Princess Diaries. Because its just SO weird and bizarre and I love it. Em Watts dies…but not really. At the same time as her body dies, supermodel Nikki Howard as a brain aneurysm. Doctors save her life by implanting her brain into Nikki’s body, but she has to live her life as Nikki and no one can know that she was once Em. Its seriously the most bizarre thing ever, especially once you realize there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. And its just straight up hilarious.

2. The Unremembered Trilogy by Jessica Brody

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The finale of this trilogy just released less than two months ago and I’m still reeling from it. I can barely express my emotions about it. Sigh. Anyway. This is a series that’s absolutely incredible and seriously does NOT get enough credit. I want to see more of those purple books in people’s hands. Seriously. I can’t even explain how great this trilogy is. Its like…Bourne Identity but with a super badass girl instead of Matt Damon and it has superhumans called Ex-Gens and time travel and cool technology and romance and action and its just amazing. There are not nearly enough people reading it and you guys need to be reading it. Now. Go.

1. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

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I love Leigh from the bottom of my heart to the tip top of my head all the way to my little toes. She’s AMAZING and her series just proves that. She has had SUCH success with it, but its nothing to the extend that a ton of people know about it and I want to change that. Her trilogy is perfection and its such a great example of how AMAZING YA fantasy…and YA in general…can be. She’s a terrific writer and a fabulous storyteller. This is another series that needs a re-read soon because now all I can think about is how much I love these books!

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Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Fictional Book Couples!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Well, online almost. But its nearly there and to celebrate, price this week’s Tuesday Top Ten is getting a little romantic. Now, I know this is a post that I’ve already done but that was QUITE a long time ago and I’ve read so many books since then…its hard to narrow it down!

However, my poor sentimental heart was finally able to do so and I present to you my top ten favorite fictional book couples!

10. William Herondale and Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices Series

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Will and Tessa have one of those romances that, if it actually existed in real life, you’d be torn between being massively jealous and also massively apt to throwing up all the time. Its incredibly beautiful, tragic, deep, genuine, intense. Its one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve read and what makes it even more beautiful is the love that the two of them share with Jem as well. Its just…amazingly written. It should be a love triangle but it doesn’t feel that way because the three of them love each other so much. Plus, there’s just something amazing about their love of books and how their love of words bring them together, and how they fight alongside each other…sigh.

9. Cara and Aelyx from The Alienated Series

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This is one of my newest favorite couples to come into my life, just this past summer. I met Melissa at ALA and got an ARC of Invaded and knew I had to read the first one and I am SO glad I did! This two part series is AWESOME and I’m massively in love with Cara and Aelyx and their story. What makes it so great is how annoyed and disgusted (especially on Aelyx’s part) they are with each other and how it slowly builds to something else. I love how they figure things out. I mean, Aelyx GOOGLES how to kiss. Its silly and sweet and intense and I love every single moment of it.

8. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Series

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DUH. I know its cheesy and so completely unrealistic as far as fictional relationships work out but I still love every minute of it. Because despite everything that their world throws at them, they still make it through. I tend to like Gale more as a character but I love Peeta more for Katniss and I think its because they balance each other out SO much. Plus its kind of bittersweet how they work so hard to protect each other and it always seems to fail but they never ever give up on it. I don’t like the conclusion, so to speak, of their relationship, I don’t think it makes sense with the characters at all but I love their relationship.

7. Four and Tris from the Divergent Series

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This is one relationship that I love, not just because I’m absolutely obsessed with this series but because it turns out to be completely opposite of what you expect. When you meet Tris, she’s unsure, unconfident, struggling to figure out who she is, while Four seems strong, confident, sure. But the closer they get to each other, the more you realize that its Tris that helps Four, brings him out, makes him a better person. He relies on her, looks into her for strength and I love that. I think its better when a couple is equal but I love seeing that a female character can be seen as the strength in a relationship.

6. Aly and Nawat from The Tricksters Series

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This is one of my favorite relationships, so easily because it is one of the most unique ones I’ve come across in any book. Aly is a born noble girl, trained in the ways of a noble lady but also the fighting and stealth of a common born spy. She’s kidnapped and sold into slavery for a wealthy family in an enemy kingdom. She meets Nawat, who is a crow turned man. They each have their own journey to take, though they are inevitably intertwined with each other, and what I love is that they each do the things they need to do before they came together. Its beautiful. It really shows…you don’t need a guy to get where you need to be, and that a really great guy will be there, even if you can’t be there yourself.

5. Levi and Cath from Fangirl

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Okay, I love this relationship because I want this relationship. Seriously. I want this relationship so bad. I love 1-4 so badly on this list but if I had to choose a relationship that I genuinely wanted more than anything…it would be this one. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that I feel very connected to Cath. She feels like me in so so many ways and I can understand her fears and her concerns and her anxiety and her struggle to become close with people because she’s afraid they can’t handle who she is. But Levi comes in and just loves her, for every single thing that she is. And he’s a goofball, which I just love, and he just is so genuine and real and I love everything about their relationship. This is relationship goals.

4. Rose Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov from The Vampire Academy Series

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I want to be Rose Hathaway. Or I want to be with her. I can’t really figure it out. Maybe both. That’s kind of weird ;) Either way, the Vampire Academy series is one of my favorites ever and I love that it takes legitimately all six books for Rose and Dimitri to get where you finally wish them to be. Their relationship is SO tragic BUT neither one of the characters are tragic. They always focus on their job as dhampirs, as guardians and getting the job done, and that’s why they’re one of my favorite relationships. They are awesome together, but as more than a couple, as a team.

3. Adrian Ivashkov and Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines Series

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When I first started reading the Bloodlines series, it was clear that the couple that would come out of this series was Adrian and Sydney. Having met and fallen in love with both of those characters in the VA series, I was so confused on how these two would even WORK. But as the series continued and you watched them fall in love with each other, I was panting alongside everyone else. I just finished the finale book, The Ruby Circle, today, release day and I won’t say much because of spoilers but I’m so happy with this relationship. They both changed from book one to book six and they did it together. They were equals from beginning to end and I love that. They rely on each other and they save each other and I ship it so hard.

2. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series

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All you haters can sit down and shut up. Everyone says that Ron doesn’t deserve Hermione and all that junk. I myself read way too much Dramione fan fiction, admittedly. But this is one of my favorite couples because I think they work together. They are different, but I think that’s what makes them work. Ron loves Hermione, even though she’s much smarter than him and is constantly berating him and all that kind of thing. Hermione loves Ron, even though he can be selfish and unthinking. Love, real love, is about accepting each other’s flaws and still loving each other anyway. Of course there’s a limit to that but I think Ron and Hermione are the example of a perfect imperfect relationship. Relationships aren’t beautiful and amazing and all that. They take work and they don’t always go the way its planned and that’s exactly what this relationship is.

1. Jace Lightwood and Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments Series

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They continue to be my favorite couple and I think that’s because of when I read the book. You want to talk about an overdramatic, tragic story of a relationship? This is it right here. Book One: Jace can’t admit he has feelings. Finally kind of does…oops, him and Clary are brother and sister. Or wait they’re not brother and sister. Oh, wait, he’s being possessed by Lilith, oh, wait, now by the real Jonathan Morgenstern. I mean, seriously. Its the most dramatic relationship that takes place over a period of, like, five months. But I love both of these characters. I love the way they fall in love, I love the way they balance each other out, I love the way they eventually fight together, I love every single bit of them. And that is not going to change.

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Who are some of YOUR favorite book couples? Make sure to share in the comments!

Tuesday Top Ten-Fictional Characters I Most Relate To

I am so impressed with myself right now. Mostly because I’m really bad at doing Tuesday Top Tens lately and here I am doing one. Granted its about 3 am, side effects and I’m bored and tired but not sleepy tired and I’m kind of sick so I don’t really wanna sleep, website so hence the Tuesday Top Ten is actually getting done for once. I’m really proud of myself.

I do these questions on my personal facebook page. I have a TON of friends on FB, sick and I don’t mean that as a bragging thing because I realized that I have all these friends and I barely know them. So I try to do these get to know you questions to try and get to know them so they feel more like friends. Anyway, I asked the other day, what fictional character do you think is most like you?

And it got me thinking: this is a GREAT idea for the Tuesday Top Ten. So let’s do this :)

10. Belle from Beauty and the Beast

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I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Belle is probably the first character that really stood out to me, because she loved books and she got so wrapped in the stories and she continued to read them over and over again, and for some reason, people thought this was the weirdest thing in the world. Now, reading is pretty cool now but it wasn’t always like that and so I really identified with Belle, not fitting in and escaping the real world for the adventures in a book. Plus, I was massively determined to being able to walk and read at the same time…and I completely hit that goal.

BOOKSELLER: “That one? But you’ve read it twice!”

BELLE: “Well, it’s my favorite! Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise -“

9. Princess Leia from Star Wars

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Maybe this is just wishful thinking but this is another character that stood out to me as a child and stuck with me for the rest of my life and probably will continue to do so. I think I liked that she was basically the only girl in the movie, which means she had big shoes to fill and even though she wore pretty dresses and was a princess, she could handle a gun, had sarcasm and kept up with the boys. I grew up with mostly boys and I always felt like I had to be loud, and obnoxious and over the top to get their attention and to make them realize I was just as good as them, if not better, and that one day, a Han Solo is going to realize that I’m awesome, even when I’m annoying. Okay moving on because that paragraph was the biggest mess ever.

“I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.”

8. Aly from the Daughter of the Lioness

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I LOVE ALY! I think the reason that I most related to her was her desire to be something new, something that was unexpected of her, even though everyone was doubting her. The thing about Aly is that everyone believes in her, expects so much of her, knows that she can do so much. But she knows what she wants, and what she wants is not what everyone else wants for her and she meets fight after fight trying to make that happen. What I love about Aly is that she loves her family and knows that they want is best for her, she still fights to live her dreams and to live her life the way she wants to.

“Why, I’m just as true and honest as dirt. And I’m even more charming than dirt.”

7. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices

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The thing that always caught me about Tessa, that made me connect with her, was her ability to love everyone, and to care about everyone, feel responsibility for them. I know that I feel like I have to take care of the world, even though that’s not my responsibility. Tessa gets thrust into a brand new world and falls in love with all of these people that reach out and take care of her. She spreads her love so easily and that is exactly how I am. If someone is nice to me, takes care of me, welcomes me in, I fall in love. I love people fully. Plus she loves books. She says the most wonderful things about books; she quotes them. She’s an early fangirl ;) I wish I could find a boy like Will Herondale that would talk and argue books with me.

“Tessa craned her head back to look at Will. “You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.” His blue eyes were dark with understanding — of course Will would understand — and she hurried on. “I feel now as if the same is happening, only not to characters on a page but to my own beloved friends and companions. I do not want to sit by while tragedy comes for us. I would turn it aside, only I struggle to discover how that might be done.”

6. Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments

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Why do I relate to Alec Lightwood? How do I not relate to him? There is so much of Alec in me, its kind of crazy. I know that it took a lot of time for others to love him but I loved him from page one. He’s confused, and loyal and determined and confused. He’s so fiercely loyal and protective of his sister and brother and of Jace. I love that about him, especially since he’s often afraid while he’s trying to be protective. We definitely have the same sassy, sarcastic attitude that he gets in the very last book. But the most important thing that we have in common is the journey that we’ve taken to figure out who we are. Alec is shy, confused, and unable to accept parts of himself because of the fear of what others would think. I know what that’s like…to be so unsure of who you are and where you’re going and to watch Alec blossom and figure out who he is and become a stronger and better person because of that. I’d like to see myself in that.

“I did not make a pie,” Alec repeated, gesturing expressively with one hand, “for three reasons. One, because I do not have any pie ingredients. Two, because I don’t actually
know how to make a pie.” He paused, clearly waiting.

Removing his sword and leaning it against the cave wall, Jace said warily, “And three?”

“Because I am not your bitch,” Alec said, clearly pleased with himself.”

5. Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries

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Oh Mia Thermopolis. I immediately fell in love with her when I read the first book when I was 12 years old. She’s insecure and a little paranoid and a total fangirl and constantly trying to do the right thing, and kind of stumbling along. She’s so real. And even when she’s with a boy (Michael Moscovitz) and knows he loves her, she still gets insecure and makes silly mistakes. She overanalyzes everything and worries so much. She literally over worries about everything and its insane. But its totally me. I’m the biggest worrier I know. I worry about the dumbest things and so when I read the book, I really felt close to Mia. Plus she’s a writer. That obviously connects with me a lot. It takes awhile for her to figure out that this is what’s good at and what she wants to do with her life. Gasp. So me.

“But then I remembered something Grandmere had once assured me of: No one has ever died of embarrassment-never, not once in the whole history of time.”

4. Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle

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Sophie is also sort of like an Alec Lightwood for me in the whole insecurity thing. Sophie begins the novel and the movie feeling trapped in that hat shop, stuck in a life chosen for her because she thinks its the right thing to do. She’s not special, she’s not pretty, she doesn’t have any particular talents, she doesn’t stand out. She thinks that this is the best path for her because what other path does she have. Her mother is fabulous and constantly traveling and her sister is beautiful and has the attention of all her customers. But it takes Sophie breaking out of the box, going on a crazy adventure and falling in with a totally unexpected crowd to blossom. She figures out who she is and becomes strong and confident. She simply has to find that thing that makes her the person she is. It feels SO familiar to me, to be unsure if I’m on the right path, or if I’m even half as special as the people I’m around.

“They say that the best blaze burns brightest, when circumstances are at their worst.”

3. Ron Weasley from Harry Potter

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YES. Ron Weasley. My favorite Harry Potter character, tied with Sirius Black. I like Ron Weasley because he’s the most relatable, the most realistic of the big Three in those books. There are so many reasons I relate to Ron. He feels in the shadow of others: his siblings, his best friends. He doesn’t think he’s as great as them and he’s constantly trying to prove himself. There’s a need to prove himself. But I also love that he’s a great friend but he has faults. He gets mad and jealous and frustrated and he gets in fights with his friends. People don’t always understand that about him because Hermione is seriously SUCH a selfless friend but Ron is real and selfish and he gets jealous and angry, and that feels normal and I know I’m like that. But the one thing that really gets me about Ron is his loyalty to his family, especially his brothers and sister. My immediate family means the absolute world to me. I too come from a large family, a family of six kids and I love my brothers and sisters so much, its amazing.

“You’ve sort of made up for it tonight,’ said Harry. ‘Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcux. Saving my life.’

‘That makes me sound a lot cooler than I was,’ Ron mumbled.

2. Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy/Bloodlines

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I’ve always kind of hoped that I was like Rose Hathaway until my parabatai, Sylvia (from Fangirl Feeels) was reading one of the VA books and pointed out that Rose reminded her so much of me, the things she said, the way she acted, and honestly, I took that as a HUGE compliment. She is one of my FAVORITE female characters of ALL time and to be compared to her, to feel like I relate to her and that I’m like her…it almost feels like an honor. I want to be like one of my favorite characters. She’s brave and incredibly loyal and I would hope to be like that. But I love that she’s goofy and sassy, which I think kind of equates to me. I like that she’s constantly making jokes and saying ridiculous things and trying to find the humor in even the worst situations. I really feel similar to her. I don’t know that I am similar to her but I’ve heard it so and I like to believe I am :)

“The other problem in my life is Dimitri. He’s the one who killed Natalie, and he’s a total badass. He’s also pretty good-looking. Okay—more than good-looking. He’s hot—like, the kind of hot that makes you stop walking on the street and get hit by traffic.”

1. Cath from Fangirl

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There is literally never been a character that I’ve related to more in my life than Cath in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. From the moment that I started the book, I just fell into it. It easily became one of my favorite books and I had to tell Rainbow and she was SUCH a doll and sent me a postcard, thanking me for the letter and for relating to Cath so much. But its really her that I should thank. She literally understands me as a person. Sure, there are things about Cath that aren’t me. But there are so many things that are me. She is so afraid and anxious of the outside world, of making mistakes and venturing away from the things that are safe that she completely loses herself in the worlds of books. And people don’t always understand that about her. They don’t understand that navigating the cafeteria at her new school is seriously frightening and anxiety inducing. They don’t understand how someone could be SO obsessed with fictional characters. But I do. I completely get Cath and she gets me. She IS me.

“No,” Cath said, “Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

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NaNoWriMo 2014: Actual Writing Advice from Actual Authors!

Hello everyone!

I am so so so so SO excited to be sharing in this post today.

I talk about writing and writing advice a lot when it comes to the blog and my aspiring career as a writer. I am lucky enough that I get to interact with authors on a daily basis, side effects whether over the internet or in person, buy more about and I’ve met SO many inspiring ones that have given me such amazing advice. The advice and guidance that I’ve received over the past two years as whatanerdgirlsays has been so helpful in my journey to becoming a better writer.

Now, I have a goal of 45K words for NaNoWriMo but my biggest goal is to really nail down my character and her development over the course of the story. Evie is my main character and Untitled (it will have a title one day, I promise…) is her story. Its her story in the past, when she’s 15 years old, and its her story in the present, at 19 years old. Both important, and it takes a lot of development. She’s going to develop in both stories and its a little overwhelming but I believe in her and my story.

So when I started planning my NaNoWriMo schedule on the blog, I knew that I wanted a post about writing and writing advice and I wanted to reach out to the authors that I’ve met over the past two years and ask for their assistance in creating and developing characters.

I hope you enjoy. Every single piece of advice of below is unique to this post. Each author was contacted individually and responded individually. There’s seriously awesome, quality advice down there, and I am so grateful for each and every single one of these authors for participating and helping out!

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Jessica Brody, author of The Unremembered Trilogy

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When first fleshing out a new main character, I like to start by asking myself one question: What motivates this person. Is it power? Ambition? Love? Idealism? Reason? This helps me begin to narrow down who this person is and how they think/respond to situations. Someone who is motivated by power is going to react very differently in a crisis than someone who is motivated by feeling loved. The second question I ask myself is “What does this character want?” And I don’t mean after the book has started. What do they want BEFORE the first page even begins. It always needs to be something tangible and concrete. Like to win a sports championship. To make it onto a team. To graduate valedictorian. This immediately focuses the story around a central goal. It gives the story direction and purpose before the plot has even begun. When your character’s goals are clear, the reader is more likely to come along for the ride.

Elana K. Arnold, author of the Sacred duology and Burning

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When I was a younger writer, I used to disbelieve it when I’d hear people talk about their characters surprising them, their characters heading off in directions they hadn’t planned. Impossible, I’d think. Your characters ARE YOU. They can’t disobey you… they aren’t REAL. For me, characters were like dolls that I bounced around from situation to situation.

I think that’s why I had a hard time completing a project, or even falling deeply in love with one. There was no RISK if I walked away from a story, no real LOSS. Honestly, I don’t know what changed. I think I got older. (Actually, I know I got older.) But over time, I started to become surprised when a plotted-out scene or chapter took a turn away from my outline. Pleasantly surprised.

With INFANDOUS, which will be published in March 2015, plot took a backseat to following around Sephora Golding, my main character, and seeing what she would do. Try this–give your character a secret, and then see where it takes you.

Livia Blackburne, author of Midnight Thief

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I’ve found it useful to have all my characters tell their life story and narrate the events of the novel itself in their own voice, with their own commentary.

Katherine Ewell, author of Dear Killer

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My main tip in character development is this: make your main character at least a little bit unlikeable. However, no matter how unlikeable said main character is, your reader has to root for them anyway. The easiest way to make a reader like an unlikeable character is to show said character’s weakness and humanity right off the bat: their fears, their likes, their dislikes, what makes them cry, what comforts them, etc. And you can go pretty far with how unlikeable they are at the surface level, take it from someone who knows! Some of the most vivid, fun characters out there are severely messed up. (Take a look at Game of Thrones for tons of great examples.) I feel as if the worst thing you could do in character creation is make a character that has no flaws, or has too few flaws: it is in their flaws that characters and their stories come alive.

Cora Carmack, author of the Losing It series and Rusk University series 

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When it comes to characterization, I rely pretty heavily on the idea that my main character’s desire should shape the plot, instead of the plot shaping my main character. I don’t want my MC to be just a cog in the bigger mechanism of the story. I want them being the one *making* the machine move, rather than just being a component of it. When I was studying theatre in college, we took a lot of time talking about our character’s objectives and motivations – asking “What does this character want? How will they get it?” and things like that – and that has continued to inform the way I shape my characters.

Tonya Kuper, author of Anomaly

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Every character, especially the main character, has to have a GMC – Goal, Motivation, & Conflict – in relation to the plot. I usually have a pretty good picture of my characters before I start plotting, but after the GMC is decided, I know what matters to them, which, in my mind, is the most important thing to know about her main character.

Victoria Scott, author of Fire and Flood and The Collector

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I often use friends and family members when creating characters. I note people’s real life quirks and incorporate them into my fictional world. For example, my husband points to what he wants on a menu when ordering. It doesn’t matter if it’s a difficult-to-pronounce dish, or french fires…that man is holding up the menu for the waitress to see, and pointing to his selection. As if she needs to see the item to understand. No matter how many times I call this to his attention, he still does it. That quirk will probably show up in one of my characters to make them more memorable. My advice is to watch the people around you, and keep notes on your phone.

Sara Benincasa, author of Great

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You have to love your main character. Even if you hate your main character sometimes, you have to love her. Because if you don’t love her, you won’t want to spend the time it takes to churn out 50,000 or more words centered around her. You don’t need to love her choices. You don’t need to love her attitude. But you do need to love her, somehow, in some corner of your soul

Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless

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Getting a handle on a character can be pretty haphazard, because we might start out not really knowing them at all. One thing that helps me is finding an object that captures my character. I knew Yates wore tee shirts with quotes, but when I found Thoreau’s quote– “Let your life be the counter friction to stop the machine”–it hit me that was exactly what Yates believed and who he was at heart. In the sequel to A Girl Called Fearless, it was a scary religious tattoo that nailed the character of a new antagonist and suggested his unbalanced righteousness.

CJ Redwine, author of the Defiance trilogy

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If YOU aren’t connected to your characters, no one else will be connected either. Characters aren’t scenery to populate your world. This includes secondary characters. Characters aren’t pawns to use in playing out your conflict. Characters CREATE conflict. Connection takes time and effort, just like it does in real life. Take the time to get to know your characters on an intimate level. Find out what their deepest fear is, what they most regret, what they truly want more than anything, and the secret they hope no one discovers.

Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium Trilogy, Before I Fall and Panic

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Do some work to understand what your character wants, and what your character needs, and how these might be different. Think about your character’s formative memories. How does he/she react under pressure? When frightened? What does she like to do for fun? What are her nervous habits? Where does she go to recharge? You have to know your character the way you know your best friend.

Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten, Possess, 3:59 and Get Even

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I start with the plot, actually, and the role of my main character in the story. What part does she need to play? What type of person does she need to be so that all of her choices are realistically motivated? Her personality is shaped by the plot, and once I know the core of that, I can begin to layer in the idiosyncracies of character: how she dresses, what she likes to eat, what songs on Pandora make her want to sing along or change the channel, and how she feels about everyone around her. Voila! Character!

Lindsay Cummings, author of The Murder Complex

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Characters are my favorite part of a book. Everyone is different…but I always start with a character, and build my world around him/her. For me, the best way to develop my characters and get to know them is to interview them–as if they were real people. I find that, even the silliest questions will give you a glimpse into who each character is, and what motivates them.

Bethany Hagen, author of Landry Park

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One of my favorite tricks for developing a character is to make a character sheet before I get started. I use these sheets to help me keep track of a character’s physical attributes (and I might even attach a picture of an actor or model to help me visualize the character.) And I also use these sheets to develop a character’s personality traits: their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams, their past mistakes. Not only is it a useful tool for conceiving of a character, but it makes a handy reference to come back to during the drafting process.

Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe trilogy and The Body Electric

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When coming up with your main character, don’t be afraid to go into your own personality to find traits. He or she doesn’t need to be an exact replica of you, but if you have a strong emotion—a fear, a desire, a love or hate—build off that emotion to influence your characters. I was never stuck on a space ship alone, but I made Amy of Across the Universe feel alone the same way I felt alone when I had to go to college, 200 miles from home, with no one I knew near me. I never had my memories messed with like Ella in The Body Electric, but I have had relatives who were affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Build on these real feelings you have to create realistic characters.

Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust

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I just let my characters go, be real people within the world that I built and let them react naturally, however they want. To me, this is the most organic way of building a “real” fake person.

Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles

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After I’ve determined the basics of who my protagonist is (name, age, gender, job, etc.), I like to ask myself two important questions. 1: What does this character want? Giving them a goal from page one will immediately give your story somewhere to go. (Although it’s normal for that goal or desire to change over the course of the story.) And 2: What is this character afraid of? Whatever they’re most afraid of is something that they should have to face (possibly multiple times), and will therefore give them somewhere to grow.

Tamora Pierce, author of The Song of Lioness, The Immortals, and the Protector of the Small quartets and more

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The way I write a character is–usually–to start with a person I know or admire (actor, musician, professional wrestler, the character played by an actor). The look has to grab me for the vague outline of the character I need–teacher/mentor, law enforcement in a very loose era, street kid, Then I go through my baby name books till I find the right name. Once I have the right name and the right look, I generally know the character: intellectual, absent-minded, can be very sexy when he wants to be, but easily distractible, and very dangerous when crossed–that was one. Then I needed the slacker daughter of two famous over-achievers who ended up as a spy in a foreign country. I looked through my files of pictures of girls until I had three or four I thought interesting, then I waited for one to grow on me–the one with her head tipped to the side and the knowing smile. I knew she was a smart-alec, really good at flirting and dancing and being silly while taking in everything around her, a daddy’s girl who lived to make mom nuts, but underneath she needs something to fight for.

Sarah Skilton, author of High and Dry and Bruised

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In my latest book High & Dry, a Young Adult novel written in the style of a hardboiled detective mystery, Palm Valley high school students “traffic in labels.” As a result, it’s very difficult for my main character, Charlie, to break free from his perceived identity, that of a varsity soccer star with a reputation for playing rough. The problem is, Charlie’s identity is a front he projects to the world in order to survive. I needed to show both sides of his personality: that of a tough guy jock accepted by his peers, and that of a heart-broken sci-fi nerd–a trait he keeps hidden. For example, Charlie tries to win back his ex-girlfriend, Ellie, by suggesting they both take Ellie’s little brother to a sci-fi movie. In this way, he gets to show Ellie he’s a “nice guy” while also indulging his own secret hope of seeing the movie. When constructing a main character, ask yourself, “Who is this person really, and who does he/she pretend to be?” The answers may surprise you!

Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles and the Seven Realms series

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After publishing nine books and writing several more, I still haven’t settled on the best way to develop character. Everything goes much more smoothly if I know the character very well from the beginning. And yet, that process of filling out a character questionnaire or deciding what he has in his pockets or dresser drawer doesn’t really work for me.

With the Seven Realms series, I knew the main characters, Han Alister, Raisa ana’Marrianna, and Micah sul’Bayar very well, because I had already written extensively about them as adults. So all I had to do was think about what they would have been like at sixteen and seventeen. Because I had their characters well in hand, story flowed more or less effortlessly.

But writing three hundred thousand words about a character before you get started on a novel isn’t really efficient, is it? So mostly, I get to know characters in the same way as we get to know people in real life–by spending time with them. In other words, I get to know them while writing my first draft. And once I decide who they are, in revision, I go back and strengthen those elements of character and make them more consistent all the way along.

That’s my process—but it may not be yours. There is more than one way to craft characters and craft story. One of the first jobs a writer must do is find out what works for them.

Crystal Perkins, author of The Griffin Brothers series

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I try to have a cover idea when I start writing. When I look at the girl and guy-I write in dual POV-I think of how they’ll speak and act. It’s nice to have something, even just a picture to look at. Then when I think of them in my head, they already have a distinct personality.

Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began and Afterparty

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You know all those cheesy drama-class moments in B movies where the teacher starts panting that the kids need to beeeeee the wind in the trees (or whatever)?  That actually has a lot in common with the way I develop main characters : method writing.  I try to see the story through the eyes of the character in a very literal way.  While I’m writing, I don’t observe the character from the outside, but I try to see what she sees.  I think this helps me to stay with the character’s feelings and emotional reactions, and to remain in her point of view.

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Tuesday Top Ten: Authors I Own the Most Books From

Once again, generic I’ve fallen massively behind in my regularity with the Tuesday Top Ten. I’ve also been out of a lot of creativity so I decided to pop on over to The Broke and Bookish blog, sick where they host the Top Ten Tuesday, and grab their idea for the week.

I think that even though it suggests something kind of simple, it also shows something. The authors who I own the most books from? Obviously that means they are authors I really, really love to own so many from them.

So let’s do this.

Also, when doing this, a lot of authors have a count of 3 and 4, because of trilogies haha. So I own alllllll these books but there are very few authors that I have more than 3 or 4. But I digress. Check out the list.

10. J.R.R. Tolkien – 6 books 

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I own the entire LoTR trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin. I know there is so much more than I could own by him but baby steps haha. I’ve read these six books, and I love them dearly. I actually feel like I have more than just 6 because I’m fairly sure I have multiple copies of the LoTR and The Hobbit, hidden somewhere in my ever growing collection of books.

9. Tammara Webber – 6 books 

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Tammara Webber has been one of my favorite authors for quite some time now. I own the entire Between the Lines series because she was sweet enough to send me all four books, signed and personalized to me. Which was the sweetest thing EVER. I also have her new adult novel, Easy, and its companion book, Breakable. I know that my collection of her books will only grow as she releases more :)

8. Cinda Williams Chima – 8 books 

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Cinda Chima is such an incredible fantasy YA author and its easy to have all of her books in my life. I have all four books of the Seven Realms series, no problem, and I own a complete collection of the Heir Chronicles, so far. This collection will grow just slightly when the 5th Heir Chronicles novel releases (OHMYGOD) this fall. If you have not given her novels a chance yet, you definitely should. Seriously, she’s absolutely amazing.

7. Rick Riordan – 11 books  

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This one is so easy. I own the complete Percy Jackson collection, with a few extra copies and the entire Heroes of Olympus series so far. I hope to get my hands on the complete collection with the new covers because I actually quite like them. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final Heroes of Olympus book. I’m just dying for it!

6. Sarah Dessen – 11 books

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The reason that I put Sarah Dessen lower (higher?) on the list is because even though I own all 11 of her books, I also think that the count is probably higher because I am almost 100% positive that I have doubles of a few of the books. Again, I have so many books scattered around, in my room, in bins in my backyard, in boxes in storage. I have over 600 books, so I’m bound to own more than 11 Sarah Dessen  books. Plus she’s one of my auto-buy authors so I immediately go out and purchase every new release of hers, every since I was about 12.

5. Richelle Mead – 15 books 

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YES! I own the entire Vampire Academy series and Bloodlines series, with a few doubles there too. I am actually counting Silver Shadows in this count even though I’m technically writing this at 2 am and the bookstores haven’t opened so therefore I don’t actually have my copy of Silver Shadows yet. But I’m going to buy it immediately tomorrow and I can’t wait for it. As soon as I started reading VA, I immediately fell in love and had to get my hands on all of them. Because of generous gifts from my dear friends Mina and Katie, I own both series now and I’m glad to have them complete!

4. Cassandra Clare – 16 books 

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I feel like this one is such a duh. One, she’s one of my favorite authors. Two, she has a TON of books. I have the entire Mortal Instruments series, of course. But that includes the fact that I have 3 copies of City of Bones and 3 copies of City of Heavenly Fire. I’m weird that way. I also have Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess. Of course. Add in The Shadowhunter Codex because that was a must. Then I have ARCs of The Bane Chronicles and The Iron Trial and I’m overflowing with Cassandra Clare books. I adore her. I want all of her books in my life!

3. Tamora Pierce – 20 books 

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Tammy Pierce has been writing YA fantasy since the early 80s, which means that she has quite a few books under her belt. Which means that I have quite a few of them in my collection. I am hoping to branch out into her not-Tortall books soon but I’ve always been massively obsessed with her Tortall world. So my collection is The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, The Protector of the Small, The Daughter of the Lioness and the Beka Cooper trilogy, which a few scattered doubles in there, plus the Tortall stories she released a few years back. Any time a Tortall story hits the shelves, I’ll be first in line.

2. J.K. Rowling – 30 books 

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Again, duh. My favorite author of all time, so of course I’d own a ton of books. I have the entire Harry Potter collection, which doubles, triples, even quadruples of some copies. I have two copies of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts. I also have foreign editions of several of the books from the UK, Australia, Spain, France, Korea, to name a few. I also have The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling as well. Hopefully soon I will have The Silkworm as well but for now, I’m just too broke for that book. Adult books are very expensive :( But yes, I have a ton of books by JKR. I don’t know why I keep buying copies of HP but I see them at used bookstores for fairly cheap and just have to buy them. I’ve overrun haha.

1. Meg Cabot – 45 Books 

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Aw yes the winner. I actually think the number of Meg Cabot books that I own is much larger than this. This number is based on what I know I own but I have been reading Meg since I was 12 years old, which means I know I have a decent collection of her books in boxes in storage. I have every single book she’s ever released, except her romance novels under Patricia Cabot mostly because I’m just not a romance person. Other than that? I own them all, and probably doubles of a lot of them too. She is definitely one of my auto buy authors so its easy that she is the top of the list. She’s a machine and she’s released so many books over the year, and as a dedicated fan for about 15 years, I own them all :)

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What authors appear the most in YOUR book collection? Share in the comments!