Tag Archives: Contagion

My Favorite Books of 2019

7 Dec

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 98 books this year, and it was the year of the audiobook! My new job requires a lot of driving around to various library locations. I’m often spending 2 hours on the road, an hour there, an hour back. I’ve really embraced my time in the car by listening to audiobooks, mostly nonfiction (because I have the hardest time listening to fiction? Is that just me? I love reading fiction, but it doesn’t seem to stick when I listen to it. Anyway…)

Just like last year, I wanted to share my ultimate favorites in each category. These books didn’t necessarily release this year. I just read them this year. If you want a complete list of books I read, check out my 2019 Goodreads challenge. Also, follow me on Twitter! Every day in December I’m sharing a book I read this year and why I loved it.

I hope you find something to read!

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Favorite Picture Book

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s The Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

What can I say? I’m a sucker for cat books, especially black cat books. But really, this is an adorable book. The artwork is clean, crisp, and fun. Plus, there’s all sorts of pets in this book, so if you have a little one who love animals, this is a great one.

Favorite Middle Grade

Tunnels of Bones by Victoria Schwab

This is book #2 in the Cassidy Blake series, so definitely check out book #1, City of Bones. It’s about a girl who can cross the veil between the living and the dead, with a plot twist. Her best friend is a ghost! And she travels with her ghost-hunting parents to various famous locations for spiritual activity. It’s spooky and fun. I cannot wait for book #3.

Favorite Book Told in Verse

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

This beautifully written book is told from the perspective of a young girl who must leave Syria. While she’s in America, she must cope with her family left behind, the new family members she lives with, and culturally differences. It’s really powerful, and I encourage everyone to read it.

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Favorite Graphic Novel

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This is such a powerful (and important) graphic novel. It’s technically a nonfiction graphic novel, too, which is a genre on the rise, and I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a real-life account of George Takei’s childhood spent in a Japanese internment camp in the United States. What I found especially powerful about this graphic novel is how Takei decided to stay in his child’s mindset, showing how he perceived his reality and what was happening to his family. It’s very touching and absolutely disturbing at the same time. I also enjoyed the artwork and the few notes Takei included to explain what was actually going on. Both of his parents were amazing people, but I really remember his mother from the graphic novel. She was a saint.

Favorite Adult Fiction

Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett

I’m a huge fan of TOR, and this is one of their recent releases. It’s very, very short, so if you want a quick read, I recommend this one. It’s a future America, where everyone is pressured to carry firearms with them. (Your life is your responsibility.) To remind citizens of this, America hosts a gameshow where they randomly orchestrate mass shootings. That’s all I’m going to say. The book is absolutely politically charged and very heavy, despite its short length, and I found myself thinking about this book for months after reading it. To be 100% honest, I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites while I was reading, but at the end of the year, when I was reflecting on everything I read, I didn’t forget this one, and I wanted to desperately to talk about it again. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is. That’s why I recommend this one.

Favorite Adult Nonfiction

In Praise of Poison Ivy by Anita Sanchez

This category was arguably the hardest one for me to pick a winner. 2019 truly was the year of adult nonfiction. I read so much of it, and I’m only starting to read more. There are a bazillion books I wanted to put here, but in the end, In Praise of Poison Ivy stayed with me the longest. Why would I read about poison ivy, you ask? I mostly picked it up because I was rewriting my botany-focused books and wanted to expand my knowledge. And I couldn’t put it down. The history of poison ivy – how it was discovered, why it was spread world-wide, which famous figures in history wrote about it – is fascinating. I honestly couldn’t believe everything I learned in this book. Plus, now I have tons of home remedies for poison ivy.

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FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY

Doomsday by Katie Henry

This book is about a girl who believes the world will end one day, and she is ready for disaster. She doesn’t like to call herself a prepper, so I won’t either. In the end, though, I really loved this book. Honestly, it was a book I could’ve used as a teen. It has some great conversations about anxiety and mental health, and I really appreciated it. There’s also aspects of religion (particularly Mormonism) that you don’t typically see in young adult novels, as well as conversations on homelessness and generational trauma. It’s a bit long (over 400 pages), but I thought it was well worth the read.

FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION

Contagion by Erin Bowman

Technically, I wanted to nominate both Contagion and its sequel Immunity for this category, but the second one would’ve forced me to talk spoilers, so I thought I’d focus on book 1. This book is amazing. It takes place in space, but isn’t too bogged down by science, and it’s full of action, plot twists, and terror. I was legit scared while reading parts of this book, and that never happens. I loved everything about this book, but I don’t want to say too much, because I think it would spoil some of the experience. Just know that you’ll be terrified and thrilled while reading if you love science fiction and are okay with being scared in space.

FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT DEBUT

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

This book is incredibly sweet, also very honest. It follows Frank Li, a Korean-American teenager, as he navigates dating with his parents pressuring him to date a Korean girl rather than his American girlfriend. But he is navigating so much more than that. I highly recommend this book. There are so many layers, I can’t even get into all the characters. I picked it up thinking I was reading a love story, when I ended up crying over his family’s relationships. It’s a very touching book, about family, friends, loss, and culture.

Biggest Surprise

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The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg

I love young adult fantasy and science fiction. It’s sort of my thing. So it might come as a surprise to many of you that MY biggest surprise was a YA SFF crossover, but I’ll explain. THE KINGDOM was heavily marketed as HBO’s West World for young adult readers. And I admit, I am not a fan of West World. (What?! I know. But I digress.) I LOVED this book. It takes place in a Disney-type theme park, where patrons are invited into a princess-filled world to fulfill all their dreams. Except there’s been a murder. And we’re reading the book from the potential murder’s perspective. Also one of the robot princesses. There are so many awesome plot twists in this book, subtle nuances, and conversations on AI, freedom, and dreams. I loved everything about it. I felt so immersed in the creativity, and the time shifts from after the murder to the times leading up to the murder kept me captivated until the end. So good!

MY ULTIMATE FAVORITE

American Royals by Katharine McGee

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If you’ve been following me for a while, this might not be a huge surprise for you. I’m a HUGE fan of Katharine McGee. The Thousandth Floor trilogy has a place in my heart as one of my favorite light sci-fi series. This is her newest series. It follows multiple characters just like her last series, but this time, it takes place in an alternate America, where America has a royal family. The drama is there, the tension is unbreakable, and the plot twists keep coming. I love how McGee always makes the worst possible thing happen to her characters right when you think they might get a chance at happiness. It’s such a guilty pleasure, and I didn’t put this book down once. I cannot wait for the sequel. I am DYING for the sequel. I need it now.

I hope you enjoy the reads!

What were your favorite books this year?

~SAT

#WW When The Villain Isn’t A Person

13 Apr

I LOVE villains, and I have ever since I was child. I mean, have you watched a Disney movie? The villains are always shiny and scary and have the best sing-along songs. The villains are cool, and it’s even better when you fall in love with villains in novels, too. That being said, we have many aspects of villains we need to work on—like Writing Complex Female Villains—and villains who aren’t people.

What are some options?

Protagonist vs. Antagonist: The most common type of villain is the evil antagonist, the foreboding man with a cape and an evil master plan to take over the world. Okay. So storylines vary, but you get my point. Most villains are just that: Villains. One person vs. another person. They tend to have opposite ideals, and now they must fight one another to see who gets to win it all in the end. Think: Batman and Joker. 

Protagonist vs. Nature: Think of Twister, Contagion, or Jaws. This type of villain can be a storm, a disease, or an animal. Anything and everything that makes up nature can be a villain. You can get personal—with a single storm, like one approaching hurricane—or you can get HUGE—with extreme climate change all over the world. The best part about exploring Protagonist vs. Nature is putting your protagonist back on the food chain, so to speak. These types of stories, more than likely, take away any “power” humans believe they have, and that can feel pretty twisted at times. In fact, it almost makes it less about being a hero and more about surviving.

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In my life story, I am definitely fighting myself all the time. Writing is tough!

Protagonist vs. Self: Okay. So this is technically a “person” but think about as an ASPECT of that person. This could be an insecurity that dictates their life or a fear that prevents them from reaching a goal. This happens a lot in books centered on mental health. Now, please don’t think I’m calling mental health villainess. I’m not. But I am saying that it can be the force the hero is fighting…whether they are fighting against it, how to manage it, or how to accept it is the journey. The upcoming book, The Weight of Zero, is a great example of this. This is also common in athletics, especially if the story focuses on winning or reaching a goal rather than beating one particular opponent. This could also be a “finding yourself” story or even a coming-of-age tale.

Man vs. Society: Think of The Giver or Divergent or The Hunger Games. These types of books, more or less, revolve around society’s dysfunctions (or disagreements) as a whole. While there might be a “face” often seen in the books, the face is rare and fleeting, and the true evil resides in the beliefs of ALL rather than in one or two people.

The best part? More often than not, villains are a combination of these concepts. For instance, an extreme change in climate (Protagonist vs. Nature) could create a disease that drives your protagonist crazy (Protagonist vs. Himself), and now that character must prove to society that they have to change if they’ll have any hope at all of surviving (Protagonist vs. Society). No matter what though, it’s important to remember that a villain is the hero in their story. This goes for antagonists, nature, self, society, etc. Example from Protagonist vs. Nature? That man-eating creature in the woods is eating people because it’s protecting its young, not because it just loves eating people and wrecking lives. It’s really about perspective. Bonus points goes to likeable villains or villains we can sympathize with.

In my upcoming release, Bad Bloods would fall under this Protagonist vs. Society.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

The protagonist is fighting to prove her people are human since society doesn’t see them that way. Rather than fight or try to convince each citizen one by one, they must fight the fundamental makeup of their city to overcome unwelcome hatred. There is a “face” behind the political group, but he only shows up twice and has very little importance to the storyline. (Protagonist vs. Society). However, the protagonist has hindering abilities and unresolved issues, and it causes her a lot of physical and mental pain. (Protagonist vs. Self) On top of that, she lives on the street in the middle of winter. She is very much fighting the Protagonist vs. Nature battle every single day. You don’t have to choose one villain, but be aware of your ultimate villain and the little ones in between.

Combine, twist, and have fun.

Not all villains need to be people. Not all villains wear capes.

~SAT

Clean Teen Publishing is hosting the CTP Awesome April Reads Release Party on April 15 via Facebook at 6 PM. You can meet authors, win prizes, and check out new books by clicking the link above.

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If you love free stuff, Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE right now. Recommended to YA paranormal romance fans who want new creatures never seen or heard of before.

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 15 starts this Thursday via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT at 7 PM CDT. What is #AuthorinaCofffeeShop? Just how it sounds! I sit in a coffee shop, people watch, tweet out my writer thoughts, and talk to you! I hope to see you there.

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