Hope’s Summer (Book) Wishlist

The following are the books I’ve wanted to read or have been recommended to me but that I don’t own. As such the descriptions are the only things I have on them currently. 


  • Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown (Recommended by Casey Lohman)

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by a beautiful yet ruthless pirate. He will be spared, Mad Hannah Mabbot tells him, as long as he can conjure an exquisite meal every Sunday from the ship’s meager supplies. While Wedgwood attempts to satisfy his captor with feats such as tea-smoked eel and pineapple-banana cider, he realizes that Mabbot herself is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. But there is a method to Mabbot’s madness, and as the Flying Rose races across the ocean, Wedgwood learns to rely on the bizarre crew members he once feared: a formidable giant who loves to knit; a pair of stoic martial arts masters, sworn to defend their captain; and the ship’s deaf cabin boy, who becomes the son he never had.

An anarchic tale of love and appetite, Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a wildly original feat of the imagination, deep and startling as the sea itself.


  • Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee (Saw in Bookstore)

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing–and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Recommended by Casey Lohman)
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes NutterWitch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

  • Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy, Book 1) by Elizabeth Moon (Recommended by Casey Lohman)
The Sheepfarmer's Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion, Book 1) by Elizabeth Moon

The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion, Book 1) by Elizabeth Moon

Paksenarrion—Paks, for short—refuses her father’s orders to marry the pig farmer down the road and is off to join the army. And so her adventure begins—the adventure that transforms her into a hero remembered in songs, chosen by the gods to restore a lost ruler to his throne.











  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (Saw in Bookstore then recommended by Katytastic on Youtube)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

  • Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, Book 3) by Mary E. Pearson (Read the Series)
The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, Book 3) by Mary E. Pearson

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, Book 3) by Mary E. Pearson

Lia has survived Venda―but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier―as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this heart-stopping conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy that started with The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance. New York Times-bestselling author Mary E. Pearson’s combination of intrigue, suspense, romance, and action makes this a riveting YA page-turner for teens.




  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Recommended by John Green on Youtube)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.



  • We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach (Saw at the Bookstore)
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in Tommy Wallach’s New York Times bestselling “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Goodreads)
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

Nimona: Art with Narrative

This week I’m going to mix it up a little bit, with a graphic novel.

The Following is a semi-spoilery look at Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Anyone who hasn’t read the book, should not go past the Dust-jacket summary placed next to the image of the cover:

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel has been hailed by critics and fans alike as the arrival of a “superstar” talent (NPR.org).

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.


Part of what makes this book so great is that it was written as a webcomic by Noelle Stevenson who also works on Lumberjanes and is a huge nerd. As you progress through the story you see the art progress from black, red, and white to full color fully shaded masterpieces in their own right, by which the story is given this sense of passion that you wouldn’t get from just any graphic novel. You feel like she’s giving you the true actual story that she wanted to tell you despite her transition to the publishing world. As you progress through the book you also see the transition from this lighthearted humorous take on the medieval fantasy genre to a powerful and meaningful story with monsters that you root for and heroes you want to love, but can’t completely. It’s cute and it’s gripping. Truly my favorite graphic novel if not book of all time. If you’re looking for graphic novels or sci-fi/fantasy/superhero books with gay subplots and a love of full-figured women who fight good, then check it out.

From Pantser to Planner: My Outlining Process

As I made the transition from school stress to writing stress, I decided that I was going to return to Camp NaNoWriMo this July. After my exams were done and I was moved out I realized that I would, inevitably, have to think about my current project: Roots (For those of you who know me and are familiar with the project this is the one that includes the line “His sculpted bronze arms were filled to the brim with crinkly chip bags and semi-squished pre-packaged deserts,” which I am both immensely embarrassed of and immensely proud of). The project, as of now, has gone through a number of changes from a Christmas writing club party prompt, to “only a short story,” to a possible project, back and forth between first and third person, then to an outline, to a partial draft, to a second partial draft, to a second outline, to a third draft which is still not finished, to a possible third outline to better fit the third draft. Basically, the “Roots” folder on my desktop is slowly filling. But as I approach July I’m realizing that my outline needs more work and that I’m not sure how exactly to do that.

Back when I started writing, and arguably even more now, I wrote without an outline. It took me about a year to finish my first project (a book whose name must not be uttered, and does, unfortunately, exist in paperback on Amazon) (I wrote crime fiction in those days), and in the end it was never what I wanted. The pacing was always too fast, I ran out of things to say halfway through, and it was often a pain to write.

It was after my first three full drafts that I decided should try this outlining stuff. If you’ve ever seen my laptop bag there’s a black notebook in there, which was my first dedicated writing notebook. Inside of that notebook is my entire outline for Roots. This is how I went about it:

What I find when I search up outlining is a lot of unnecessary shit. The idea of other people’s outlining systems is to figure out every detail of the story before you even touch a pen to the page. Figure out the plot, antagonists (and their whole life story), main characters (and their whole life story), point of view, motives, subplots, and et cetera. Where this breaks down for me is that when I approach outlining systems, I get to the point where I start to think “This is stupid, I’m basically writing the book now, why don’t I just write the book?” And in a way that makes sense, right? Why write the book twice if I can just write it once?

What I used to do is just start a scene and see where it takes me, it would take weeks to finish the scene because often I didn’t know what to write until I sat down and thought without the keyboard in my hands. Whenever I went to bed, to shower, to classes, I was thinking about what would happen and writing it all out in my head, which led to the same problem: If I was already writing it in my head then it would never be as good when it came out on the page because none of my head ideas made any sense. What was the point of writing it if it would never be any good?

And there was the trap. I couldn’t plan too much or I’d give up and I couldn’t not plan because it never got to the page. I needed a sweet spot. I needed to plan it out and know where I was going and if that made sense, and I had to write it down to do that, and I couldn’t use a system because it’s too overwhelming. So I started outlining. I started with what I knew about the plot. I knew that there would be two nymph siblings and a human girl traveling across the country and eventually landing in a mountain where the guy nymph dies, so I spent thought out those and jotted down the important stuff. I knew that there was more magical species, so I brainstormed those and highlighted my favorites to use in key plot points. I knew I needed several kingdoms so I jotted down the types of areas I wanted my characters to go through and split that up into sections and created a history. Basically what I did was ask myself what I wanted in the plot and what I needed to make and focused myself to think about those things instead of figuring it out as I approached the scenes I needed them for.

Then all I had to do was figure out the plot. The first time I did this I plotted like I use to write. I sat down with a notebook and went straight through until I hit the scenes I knew I wanted and I’d done everything I had to to get there. I jotted down quotes characters would say or scenes I had to describe as they came up. That way the pacing went slower because I wasn’t rushing through the boring scenes because I didn’t know what to do with them, and I knew exactly where those important scenes were. Then I went through it a couple times and crossed out the bad/ nonsense scenes and made sure my main characters were in every scene or addressed where they were instead. Then I started writing.

Obviously it’s not perfect, I’ve had to adjust some things (because I use Scrivner and it’s easier to have it on screen than on a notebook in my (horrible) handwriting, and in typing it up I changed some ideas), but it’s helped me, and that’s what matters. Find a way of outlining that helps you write.

Harry Potter the Instant Classic

My second recommended book is, of course, the man, the myth, the legend: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It’s just one of those books that I have to recommend, even if you have read it. It’s a classic book, an epic series and an even better franchise. Anyone looking for outlining inspiration should take a look at Rowling’s process. She took 5 years laying out the entire series. She’s the ultimate planner (by NaNoWriMo standards). Here is a more detailed look at how she outlined Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But, without Further Ado, a look at the first book itself:


The Following is a semi-spoilery look at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Anyone who hasn’t read the book (and I mean read, not like “watched all the movies” because that’s a different experience all together), should not go past the Dust-jacket summary placed next to the image of the cover:

Harry and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.








What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? Going past the obvious adoration I have for this book, and the epic proportions of this series, it presents us with characters that are lovable and a their inter-personal conflicts which are never blown out of proportion (aside from, perhaps, Harry and Draco’s conflicts which go immediately to the extreme). Specifically the conflict between Hermione and Ron which is more of a subtle hatred which develops into a friendship when Hermione becomes friendlier. If you’re looking for a children’s level example of good character relationship building then I’d say check out this series. Also for good mystery development, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘s twist ending is well hidden and makes many plot points sting with second hand embarrassment in a second reading. I can’t say it enough that this series is a classic for a reason. Simply put, it’s engaging and charming. If you haven’t read this book before then WHY ARE YOU NOT AT THE LIBRARY RIGHT NOW?! If you have, still check it out for an example piece, especially if you’re writing about magic or boarding schools or for children.

Bringing Back WooWriMo

Hey Ya’ll, (Dang I really need an I really need an intro for these posts… Let’s see what do I gots in the storage bin…  “Hellllloooo Everybody my name is Hopikat”… no… “My sculpted bronze arms were filled to the brim with crinkly intro-bags and semi-squished pre-packaged descriptions”…no… “I’m the llama overlord…” IDK…), anyway, I want to bring back WooWriMo this year. So I am. Period. I’m doing that. I’m not, however, going to be starting it up in November because I don’t have a death wish. I’ll be doing Camp NaNoWriMo this summer in July.

I’ll be posting on here regularly during that time so follow along if you want to hear about writer’s block. Also, take the leap yourself this summer if you have the time. You can set your own goal, and change it if you need too, and I’ll be here to vent to if you want. Find me at my Camp NaNoWriMo account (llama-overlord) and go for it. One month no looking back! I’ll be planning the month before so if you have any tips please comment below, and have a great start to summer!


Last week of Spring 2017, Carry On My Kiddos

Hey ya’ll, welcome to the last week of school/last two days of exams. As we leave school and Writing Club for this year I have something I want to say… *ahem* *clears throat* *ahem* “Hi.”


I have a pitch for you… Book you’ll want to check out: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell. Since we finally have ” free time” to “read what we want” on our hands (air quotes for those of you working/interning this summer), I’ll be posting about books you might want to check out or books that I’ve been reading etc. My first pick is Carry On because I love this book to death. If anyone has any suggestions for books please send them to me or right them in the comments and I’ll try to check them out. I want to make a recommended book list on the website because good writers come from good readers, and good readers come from good/fun/entertaining books. Without Further ado, my thoughts on Carry On.

Warning Spoilers from the description of the book below (no details on key story elements, but what you’ll find on the book jacket):

Actual Description:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.





My Thoughts:

I’ve been trying to get my friends to read this forever because it’s so passionate about what it is. If you’ve ever read Fangirl (also by Rainbow Rowell) this is based off of the fanfiction in that book. If you haven’t it’s based on the story of Simon and Baz, the protagonists of the Harry Potter-esque series, in their eighth year. Because of the premise of this story it reads like the eighth book of a series that you need to reread and a fanfiction. Anyone looking for feels and Harry Potter nostalgia should read this book. Quite frankly, it’s beautiful. It has a world/magic system that speaks to writers, a mystery that ends in a bang, and a cast of hilarious characters who understand their own tropes.

Also It is super gay. There is at least one gay character, a possibly bi character, and a possibly ace character (though it’s not clear).

Hope’s Take-Over

Hey peoples, this is is Hope, the new president of writing club. My unofficial title will be “Benevolent Dictator,” a title that I was unanimously given by the student board of the club, which currently holds one member due to mysterious circumstances and a ritual known as “graduating.”


My promise this year is to keep up the website here and to add a few new events to the schedule. No one panic! I want to hold a gala of some kind this year, nothing big, probably just during one of our meeting times tbh, but that’s one of my ideas. Also I’m adding promptsgiving to the schedule which will be held before Thanksgiving Break, so hopefully I can pull off a potluck. Also I want to do some featured writing on the site if anyone’s interested, we can start over the summer. Basically it will be replacing the workshop days from the last few years and give us a better opportunity to get some criticism on what we’re working on. I’ll put some more detail on that in my next post.


Your Benevolent Dictator, Hope.

Are Your Hands Wet?