Mid-Year Q&A (feat. Favourite Books, Writing Tips + Blogging Advice)

HELLO FRIENDS! Sooo… we’re over halfway through 2019 and I am FREAKING. OUT. Who allowed time to pass this quickly? And I’m finishing my uni degree in like four months?! And I’ll be expected to know what to do with my life?! I DON’T LIKE THIS.

But even though I’m in the midst of a mini existential crisis, I have had a pretty great year! I’ve read some amazing books, wrote some stuff I’m really proud of, made some new friends, been on vacation… THANK YOU, 2019!

So to celebrate making it halfway through the year (celebrate, I type while stress-eating ice cream and worrying about all the things I want to achieve before December 31), I thought I’d do a little Q&A! I recently asked you mortals to send me alllll your questions, so here are your long awaited answers! I hope you enjoy!

What’s been your favourite book of 2019 so far?

Gosh, this is a hard one! I feel like I’ve read so many fantastic books so far this year—we’ve all been so spoiled for choice with all the fabulous new releases. It’s hard to pinpoint one absolute favourite because as much as I’ve loved so much of what I’ve been reading, there hasn’t yet been that one stand out book. But I’m going to make myself choose!

And that book is… drumroll pleaseRed, White & Royal Blue! It was just such a happy, banter-filled queer book about a hate to love romance between the son of the first female president of the United States and a Welsh prince—and yes, it’s just as adorable as it sounds. I’ve read it twice since I got my hands on a copy and I’m already looking forward to my next reread!

41150487First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


How do you get out of a reading slump?

I definitely think that getting out of a reading slump is different for every person, but what usually works for me is taking a break from reading for a few days and consuming content in different ways. Sometimes that means watching a new series on Netflix, sometimes it’s listening to a podcast.

But what helps me the most is taking a step back from what I’m reading and trying to figure out why I’m feeling like I’m in a reading slump. If it’s because I haven’t read anything I’ve really enjoyed for a while, I pick up an old favourite. If it’s because I’m feeling indifferent about what I’ve been trying to read, I try a new book I think I’ll love. Different things work for different people though!


What upcoming releases are you looking forward to?

SO. MANY. I hope you have 9302 hours to sit down and go through all of my anticipated releases for the rest of this year. JUST KIDDING. After much deliberation, I’ve manage to narrow it down to five!

39352771._SY475_Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.


39847584High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white.

Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.


44034303._SY475_The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.


37076222This is the first of three young adult novels from New York Times best-selling author Mackenzi Lee that explores the untapped potential and duality of heroism of popular characters in the Marvel Universe.

Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity . . . except for Amora. Asgard’s resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him.

But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard’s most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor.

When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he’s meant to be.


42265183In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.


Favourite contemporaries?

THANK YOU FOR ASKING! As you probably know already (because let’s be real, it’s all I talk about on this blog), my favourite genre is contemporary fiction. I just love me some cute stores—bonus points if they’re queer! SO YEAH. I have a lot of opinions and a lot of favourites. But none of us want to be here all night, so here’s just a quick list of some of my ULTIMATE favourites. And believe me when I say that narrowing down this list was hard. *wipes brow*

Thoughts on recent book-to-movie adaptations?

41cgntMOfvL• I cried SO MUCH watching this movie asfdbfjfh

• also how are these people both so attractive? my bisexual heart could NOT handle it

• it wasn’t like TFIOS! it was different and beautiful in its own way, and I’d love more illness rep in books and films without them being dismissed as “sick lit”

• criminally underrated

• TAKE A BOX OF TISSUES


51olYeLwzjL• I wanted to love this one but I just… DIDN’T *quiet sobbing*

• I loved the cast though! it was funny at times and it had POTENTIAL, it just didn’t quite get there for me

• will there be a second film? definitely not.

• it did make me want to reread the series though! I loved it as a teen

• Alexandra Bracken needs to release another dystopian series please because I am CRAVING


Fallen-new-poster• I think this came out a little while ago but it was only recently added to Netflix in Australia

• it was sooooo cringe, but I… loved it? guilty pleasure watch right here

• SO. DAMN. PREDICTABLE. but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it

• also the ending? WHAT? I never read the series but now I’m gonna have to *shrug*

• WHERE IS MY ATTRACTIVE ANGEL?! I demand to speak to the person in charge

How’s your writing going?

It’s going really well, thank you for asking! I’ve aaaaalmost finished the first draft of a new middle grade novel I’ve been working on over the past month, which I’ve absolutely been loving working on. It’s sci-fi and it’s set in a boarding school, and I seriously wish I could jump through the pages and give all my characters a massive hug.

Some of the things my WIP contains include:

  • a 19 year-old vampire with a passion for 1800’s fashion
  • a cafe that serves magical hot chocolates
  • anxiety representation
  • CAPES
  • lots and lots of banter

How do you stay motivated when writing?

I understand how difficult it can be at times to stay motivated, but the thing that drives me the most is my sheer determination to be published one day. I KNOW I’LL GET THERE. It’s just a matter of time and patience and persistence. Nothing about having a career in writing is easy, and it has to be the love of writing one has that’s the thing that gets them through rejection and writer’s block and anything else they might see as hurdles.

But also, I find it easy to stay motivated when I’m in love with what I’m working on. I start every writing session excited to work on a particular scene, and I find that my hour-long writing sprints just pass in the blink of an eye. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, maybe what you need is a little more time to plan scenes and get to know your characters. Maybe you just need a break, which is fine too. Writing is such a different process for each person, so a lot of the hard work is finding what works best for you.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a total PANTSER, and I’m not afraid to admit it! All I know when I head into a story is a vague understanding of who my protagonist is and what they’re trying to achieve, but I don’t know how they get there or what other obstacles might stand in their way. It’s rare that I even know how the book ends, let’s be real. And that’s what I love most about pantsing! I get to experience things right alongside my characters for the first time and piece together things with them. Sometimes it leaves some tidying up for me to do in the editing process, but that’s all part of the fun.


What are your writing rituals?

I’m the type of person who takes their laptop everywhere. I’m not exaggerating. Once I took it on a 10km hike for the slight chance there might have been a little break to sit down and write. There wasn’t, but I DID NOT REGRET MY DECISION. I write on fifteen minute train rides, I write in my lunch break at work, I even write sitting on the floor of shopping centres and train stations waiting for friends. I’M OBSESSED, OKAY.

But my favourite writing places are cafes. I love the ambient noise of coffee machines and quiet chatter—and the coffee itself helps as well! I can sit there for hours and hours. I also enjoy just writing at home, either in my office or at the kitchen bench with a mug of green tea (again for the caffeine). When I don’t have the ambient noise of cafes to inspire me, I listen to a weird mix of violin dubstep, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at the Disco.

Favourite movie of 2019?

As someone who works at a cinema, I see a lot of films. Like, at least two a week in the theatre (which means I also eat way too much popcorn #NoRagrets). But if I had to choose a favourite out of the hundred or so films I’ve already seen this year, it would have to be Us. Wow, I just LOVED it. It was creepy and thought-provoking, and I’m still thinking about that ending all these months later! I cannot WAIT to see what Jordan Peele works on next.

61nPZDVRtJL._SY679_


Must-binge shows?

I HAVE SO MANY RECOMMENDATIONS. One of my biggest hobbies outside of reading and writing is watching TV shows and movies. So I have plenty of suggestions for all of you out there looking for your next binge-worthy shows!

  • Fleabag
  • Killing Eve
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Chernobyl
  • Queer Eye
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Barry
  • Good Omens
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • What We Do in the Shadows

How’s uni going?

I’M ALMOST FINISHED! Ahh! I’m in my last semester at the moment and I finish classes at the end of October, and I can’t wait to be done with this damn degree! I’ve been studying Communications (majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Literature) and I haven’t loooooved it, unfortunately. But it did teach me some stuff that I’ve implemented in my event coordination and social media management of the book club I co-created, The YA Room. So that was handy! As for what I’ll be doing once I finish at the end of the year… honestly, who knows? Maybe I’ll be a full-time writer. Maybe I’ll work in publishing. Maybe I’ll do a screenwriting course. The world has a way of working things out, and right now, I’m just happy to go with the flow.


Tips for balancing blogging and working / studying?

IT’S HARD. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that balancing blogging and working and studying and writing and trying to have a social life is an easy thing to do. There’s only so many hours in the day, after all! As much as I wish I could be an immortal being who didn’t require trivial things like sleep, I am not. *sigh*. If someone would like to rectify that, I’d be willing to pay a hefty sum for your services. Keep that in mind.

However, my top tip would be to carve out a time that’s just for blogging. A time where you can put all your other responsibilities on hold for an hour or two and just blog about what you want to blog about! Since I’m in my last year of uni and I’ve decided to prioritise writing in the hopes of being published one day, I’ve cut down my blogging to once a week. So don’t be afraid to blog only occasionally or when you have the energy to! Blogging is hard work, and the last thing I’d want to do is pressure myself to churn out content when I’m simply not feeling it. Don’t forget, blogging is meant to be a hobby for most of us!


#1 tip for newbie bloggers?

Don’t be afraid to play around with your content and your “voice”! It definitely took me a while to realise the kind of content I wanted to create, and even now that I’m happy with the things I decide to write for my blog, that might change soon! Who knows! While I started off trying to write “critical reviews”, now I lean towards a more relaxed, conversational tone when talking about books I’ve read (or want to read).

A blogging “voice” can be a hard thing to discover as well, so don’t worry if you aren’t too sure how you want your pieces to sound at first. The same goes for writing works of fiction as well! But you’ll never discover your voice if you don’t write, so just give it a go! You can’t really stuff up when it comes to blogging. It’s your platform! It’s your passion! If you write about things you’re interested in, I’m sure you’ll find your audience in no time.

lets-talk

So that’s a little bit about me! I hope you found this interesting and maybe I’ll do another Q&A in the near future. But now it’s time for you to tell me about yourself! What’s your favourite book of 2019 so far? Are you a writer as well? How long have you been blogging for? I’d love to know!

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4 thoughts on “Mid-Year Q&A (feat. Favourite Books, Writing Tips + Blogging Advice)

  1. This was such a fun post to read, Sarah! ❤ I'm so happy you loved Red, White and Royal Blue, it's such a fantastic read, I LOVE IT SO MUCH as well ❤ and ahhh, contemporaries. They are my favorite as well and I adore I Was Born For This, Radio Silence and You Asked For Perfect ❤

  2. Love this post, Sarah!
    And omgggg, I am so in love with Killing Eve. I need season three yesterday!
    This was such a fun, awesome post. I always enjoy reading/hearing about your opinions on books.
    And the reminder that I STILL need to read Alice Oseman’s books. I’ll get there, I swear!
    I’m absolutely looking forward to see what else you do during the second half of the year!
    💜 Star.

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