moxie novel

Moxie is an Absolute Must

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Published by Roaring Book Press, September 2017

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Pages: 326

Hi! Well. I have taken quite the hiatus. Incredibly necessary, but I’m back! And I could NOT be more pleased than to come back with THIS book!

Y’ALL. Moxie is a game-changer. A life-changer. I have never, EVER had a book so clearly portray what it is like to be a girl, and ultimately a woman, in America (obviously experiences differ). The beauty and excitement and the sometimes seeming fucking futility in fighting against a system that, quite frankly, blows.

Let’s get into it!


All the Wrong Chords Book

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.


I was immediately intrigued by the premise of Moxie. I’m ECSTATIC when a YA book even positively mentions feminism. And thrilled when a YA book has feminist ideals without directly referencing it. But I LOVED the idea of a YA book ABOUT feminism. About a girl fighting back WITH feminism. I could not have been more excited.

Add to that the history with Viv’s mom having been a Riot Grrrl, awesome references to girl power punk bands like Bikini Kill, and girl friendships?! I was IN. And I was not let down.

The Writing

The writing is incredibly fun and fast-paced, zero lag throughout the story. I could not wait to get on to the next page and the next, sometimes shaking waiting for another of Viv’s Moxie zines to come out.

The plot is what really shines. It is just. So. Relatable. Moxie is set in small town Texas, but there wasn’t a single thing in it that I didn’t go through in LA. I think most girls/women who read it will either have gone through or had someone very close to them go through every single thing Viv fights against. Dress code violations that focus solely on girls. Hallway groping that goes ignored by school staff. Money shoved into the budget for football but rarely girl’s sports or even textbooks written in the last three decades. It’s all just so very important. And Moxie opens up a dialogue.

Summer Unscripted by Jen Klein

Viv is ABSOLUTE MAGIC and here’s why. She’s scared as fuck. She knows what needs to be done and she does it, but it is scary for her the entire time. A lot of the time we think we need “strong female characters” (gag, first of all) to be strong and only strong and never break down and if they have sword-wielding skills that’s really going to be best okay. Viv is a normal girl. Viv is a normal girl who is sick and fucking tired of what is happening at her school. She is smart and tough and interesting but very real and human and just so easy to love.

We also get this amazing ensemble girl cast. Lucy, the new girl in school who is and has been a mega feminist. Claudia, Viv’s long-time best friend who is not about it. Kiera, Viv’s friend who reminds her that feminism can’t just be white feminism. These relationships are so varied and dynamic and I adored them all for different reasons.

Of course we have a grip of people we love to hate, starting with some dudes on the football team and the school’s principal.

And we have Seth, the male lead. There’s a lot that is great here, but two things stand out to me. Seth is a great kid, but he’s also a great way to point out a lot of the areas where even great men go wrong. “Not all men” and “but do you think she’s telling the truth?” can come out of the most progressive mouths, and male allies have to learn the harm in these statements. Seth is so supportive of Viv and their romance is swoony af and it’s awesome.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Y’all I SOBBED reading this book. I happy cried, sad cried, angry cried. I did crying I’m not even sure can be described with a particular emotion. I have never had a book make me feel quite the way Moxie does. I’m reading it again already with my son, who is loving it.

I cannot stress this enough. YOU NEED MOXIE IN YOUR LIFE.

Not Now Not Ever

Not Now, Not Ever is a Quick, Delightfully Nerdy Read

Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Published by Wednesday Books: scheduled for Nov. 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 330

Y’all! This book is so. Effing. Fun.

I won the ARC in a Goodreads Giveaway and I could not have been more thrilled! It’s so unbelievably nerdy, every chapter having nerd references that make it that much more fun, if you’re into that (which I most definitely am).

I somehow missed that this is a sequel! So I have not read the first book, but I have now purchased it and can’t wait. And I don’t think anything was ruined for me. I enjoyed this book very much as a standalone.

Not Now Not Ever

All the Wrong Chords Book

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer. 

1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

The Writing

The writing here is so fun! Very quick-paced, easy to get through. Had I had the time, this is exactly the kind of book I love to read in an afternoon!

The pacing is spot on. No parts of the book lag at all.

This is one of my favorite kinds of stories. I adore books that are easygoing, fun, and not too serious. This is exactly what I was in the mood for. I LOVE books about summer, with cute little romances and there’s just something about going away to camp that I die for. So this, where Ever goes to what is basically a nerdy summer camp (though at a college) was right up my alley.

If you like books like When Dimple Met Rishi or Summer Unscripted, this is exactly the kind of book for you.

Summer Unscripted by Jen Klein

The characters here are what really make this so worth it! We have a pretty decent-sized ensemble cast, most of whom are distinct characters and easy to keep straight. Some we don’t get to know as well, and that’s how it should be, given the camp situation. But the counselors are fun, and the other kids competing with Ever are really great.

Ever, our narrator, is awesome. She’s such an amazing main character for a lot of reasons. She’s brilliant, funny, a bona fide genius. She’s not extremely girly, opting for running clothes, but she’s also not the typical archetypal character we see. Whenever I read a story about a girl like Ever, there’s a distinct “I’m not like other girls” quality. (For instance, my only problem with WDMR is that Dimple puts down on traditionally girly girls.) We don’t get that with Ever. There’s no jealousy issues, there’s no “I’m not girly so I must not be pretty.” She’s a confident, kickass chick and I love her.

Brandon, our romantic interest for Ever, is awesome. He’s nerdy af, like, so nerdy. He uses a typewriter, for crying out loud. But I think this is super healthy, because here we have another nerdy, nice, decent guy, who is also sexy and whom you’re excited about. I too often see the “bad boy” thing in YA, and I love leading men who break that role.

I also want to say I believe the romance between Ever and Brandon is incredibly realistic and very healthy for teens. It’s not love at first sight; it’s given healthy and real time to develop and that’s so important to me.

We get a couple of really great things, here!

Ever is black, so we get a brilliant, genius black girl as our main character, which is phenomenal. No stereotyping. She’s also quick to call out racism/talk about it in a way that’s not alienating and I think it’s really healthy for any young people reading.

Ever wears her hair natural, she has a full afro, which I love to see! Great shot of this on the cover, too.

We also get an interracial relationship, between her and Brandon, which is awesome (especially because neither make this a big deal, as it shouldn’t be).

And a greatly diverse cast among the side characters, also!

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Is that this is a fun, easy read that will most definitely tug at your heartstrings!

The Lost Causes novel

Blog Tour: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman!

I could not be more honored to be part of the blog tour for Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman!

love Starfish, y’all. Here’s my review if you haven’t read it, where I say things like:

There are hardly words to describe how much it means to me.

I could write an entire essay just on how much I love Kiko, our narrator.

I love contemporary that keeps you going as easily as a suspense does. The tension is so palpable, and I had to know what would happen to Kiko. I had to keep reading..

So, needless to say, I’m THRILLED to have a Q&A with Akemi on Off-Color Literature today!

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

So without further adieu, here’s my Q&A with Akemi!

I was so, immediately enamored of your book. What inspired you to write Starfish? Which part of the story came to you first?

Thank you so much! STARFISH is very much the book I needed as a teen. I wanted this story to exist in the world because I felt like it was something that was missing on the shelves—and I hope the readers who need it most will find it and feel like they finally have a mirror. The part of the story that came to me first was actually the first chapter—a girl at an art show with a mother who is completely uninterested in her. It’s a scene that really shows Kiko’s insecurities of not being “enough,” but also her immense strength in recognizing how much she needs to escape her home life. And from there, the story grew!

Writing always has its difficulties, of course, but do you think it’s harder to write difficult/dark subject matter?

Oh, absolutely! Particularly when it’s difficult subject matter that pulls from lived experiences. There were a handful of moments in STARFISH that hit so close to home, and at times I found them triggering to write about. In a lot of ways, telling this story was like sharing pieces of my heart I hadn’t realized needed to be shared. But ultimately, I wanted this book to exist for people who will recognize what Kiko goes through, and who will follow her journey and feel like they’ve finally been seen. Hearing that readers connect and relate to Kiko so much makes me feel a little less lonely somehow—I hope readers will feel this way too!

I cried reading your book, which is one of the best compliments I could give. Did you cry while writing it?

Ahh my heart! That means so much to hear, thank you! I had a lot of anxiety while writing it, but I hadn’t cried over it until the day it sold to my amazing editor, Jennifer Ung, at Simon Pulse. And now every single time I hear from a reader who loved the book, I turn into a waterfall of emotions. Honestly, crying is my default setting at the moment.

There are so many great books that sadly don’t get the attention they deserve. Do you have a favorite lesser-known or under-appreciated novel? 

I’m probably going to be terrible at this question for two reasons: 1) My TBR pile is an actual mountain, and there are so many books that would probably be great for this answer but I haven’t actually read them yet! And 2) Unless it makes the NYT Bestseller list, I’m really terrible at knowing what’s already well-known and what isn’t. So I’ll cheat a little here and just list books Ithink are under-appreciated, mostly in the sense that I wish everyone in the universe was talking about them. In no particular order, THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO by F.C. Yee, SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon, NOTEWORTHY by Riley Redgate, THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig, and DESCENDER, which is a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen and I have no idea if the world already knows about this one but I AM OBSESSED.

Starfish (rightfully) has AMAZING reviews already! Do you read reviews? How well do you deal with any negative feedback?

When STARFISH found a home with a publisher, I told myself I wasn’t going to look at a single review. I know how I am, and I take things to heart really easily. I feel like I have quite thick skin when it comes to feedback from my agent, editor, or a critique partner, but not so much when it comes to strangers. My anxiety goes all over the place! And I didn’t want that to get in the way of my writing when I knew I had other projects to work on. But being a debut author can be a bit of a whirlwind, and there’s a ton of self-promo involved. So I’ve had to look at reviews from time to time to kind of stay in the loop of what’s going on promotion-wise. Once STARFISH is released, I want to avoid Goodreads at all costs, and only read the reviews people tag me in on Twitter. So far those ones have all been really nice, so I think people are being gentle with me haha!


Akemi Dawn Bowman is a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix. STARFISH will be published later this year (9/26/17, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster), with a second YA contemporary to follow in Fall 2018. She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.


Thanks so much to Akemi Dawn Bowman and Simon & Schuster for access to this book and the chance to be a part of this blog tour!

13 Amazing Chuck Palahniuk Quotes

It’s no secret that Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors. I did a whole post about it here. I lovelovelove his books, and will read anything he writes pretty much on principal. Hell, I have tattoos from several of his books.

Part of the magic is that he has particular lines and/or moments in books that could make you think for hours. I have spent a fair amount of time reflecting on/crying over some of these.

So! Without further adieu, here are 13 of my favorite Chuck Palahniuk quotes/moments!


“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” 

13 Chuck Palahniuk Quotes

Invisible Monsters


“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.”



“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.” 

Fight Club


“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.
Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.
This is all practice.” 

Invisible Monsters


“Rant goes, “Really, truly with her whole entire heart, does Echo hate somebody?”
I go, doesn’t Rant mean “love”?
And Rant shrugs and says, “Ain’t it the same thing?”



“No, whether a woman is a concubine to fuck or a damsel to redeem, she’s always just some passive object to fulfill a man’s purpose.” 



“Death is a long process,” Archer says. “Your body is just the first part of you that croaks.” Meaning: Beyond that, your dreams have to die. Then your expectations. And your anger about investing a lifetime in learning shit and loving people and earning money, only to have all that crap come to basically nothing. Really, your physical body dying is the easy part. Beyond that, your memories must die. And your ego. Your pride and shame and ambition and hope, all that Personal Identity Crap can take centuries to expire.” 



“A girl calls and asks, “Does it hurt very much to die?”
“Well, sweetheart,” I tell her, “yes, but it hurts a lot more to keep living.” 

“No matter how much you think you love somebody, you’ll step back when the pool of their blood edges up too close.” 
13 Chuck Palahniuk Quotes
Invisible Monsters
“All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.”
“The difference between how you look and how you see yourself is enough to kill most people. And maybe the reason vampires don’t die is because they can never see themselves in photographs or mirrors.” 
“In a world where vows are worthless. Where making a pledge means nothing. Where promises are made to be broken, it would be nice to see words come back into power.” 
13 Chuck Palahniuk Quotes

What about you?

What’s your favorite Palahniuk quote or poem?

The Sunday Post | Weekly Wrap-up

I’m linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Hey y’all! A great week at school. So much fun stuff. Watched a documentary about cannibals and got to talk about cultural relativism, which is a blast. Also lots and lots of math, which can suck it. Glad to find some time to read and get out of that head space.

I did one review! (click on the picture to see the review):

The Taxonomy of Love is SO EFFING CUTE. A story about a boy with Tourette Syndrome working his way through life using taxonomies and trying to label things neatly. So adorable.

A Taxonomy of Love

I’ve received quite a lot of book mail recently, which I am ecstatic about! I haven’t taken pictures of all of them quite yet, but here’s one I took that I am SO excited about (the pic is a little blurry because due to issues, this is a screenshot of the original image):

HOW CUTE IS THIS BOOK? I could not possible love more the juxtaposition of the title and the cutesy look. I cannot wait to dive into this one, and I think it may be the next one I do. So look for that review coming up!

I hope everyone’s having a great week, and I can’t wait to read your book!

By the way, my fellow book bloggers!

For some reason, I am not able to comment on .wordpress or .blogspot blogs!! I have no idea why, and if you have any ideas please let me know! But please know I always read your weekly updates and love them, even if for whatever dumb reason I can’t comment.