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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YALL Fest Interview: Cinda Williams Chima

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In a little less than two months, approved an amazing event is taking place in Charleston, South Carolina called YALL Fest. A ton of wonderful young adult authors are descending upon Charleston for this one day, FREE event, and I am envious of any and all people who are attending the event. There are going to be some seriously amazing authors going to be there like:

Leigh Bardugo, Libba Bray, Rae Carson, Cinda Chima, Rachel Cohn, Ally Condie, Melissa de la Cruz, Gayle Forman, Kami Garcia, Lev Grossman, Shannon Hale, Michelle Hodkin, Ellen Hopkins, David Levithan, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Lisa McMann, Alyson Noel, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Perkins, Ransom Riggs, Veronica Rossi, Veronica Roth, and so many more.

This is sure to be an absolutely incredible event.

I am lucky enough to be part of the blog team to promote this as much as possible. Over the next few weeks, there will be a couple dozen of us posting interviews with some of these authors, and telling you more about this seriously awesome event.

Just a note: these interviews are all the same, and they will be on several websites. These are NOT exclusive interviews, and I did not copy this from other sites. We are all working together to promote this!

Now, I am excited about this first interview because the author is someone that I admire greatly, greatly, greatly…Cinda Williams Chima.

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She is a young adult fantasy writer, with two series under her belt. Her completed Seven Realms series is an epic fantasy, taking place in a beautifully built world and following the story of a headstrong princess Raisa and her efforts to keep her queendom together and the quick and clever Han, who discovers a secret about himself and has to conquer it. Her Heir Chronicles series contains, so far, three novels that are contemporary fantasy, following various characters like Jack and Ellen, Seph, Madison, and more on their adventures to discover their different powers and to take down the tyrannical leaders that rule over them all. Her fourth installment in the series, The Enchanter Heir, will hit bookstores on October 1st, 2013, and she’ll embark on a tour for this book (and she’s coming to California!). The Enchanter Heir can be read as the fourth book or it can be read as the first book.

You can find her at her website here.

Enjoy this short interview!

Q: What one thing do you need to have when you write?

Cinda: A computer

Q: Describe your book in 5 words

Cinda: Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.

Q: What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?

Cinda: Usually the lines in between.

 Q: Best writing tip you ever received?

Cinda: Give yourself permission to write badly.

 Q: Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

Cinda: 1.       I am a twin.

2.       I am named after a character in a novel.

3.       I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.

4.       I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.

5.       I used to be in a folk music band.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

Cinda: On a balcony overlooking the ocean.

Q: What are you working on now?

Cinda: I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.

Q: At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

Cinda: When I’m finished with a full-length novel.

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I hope you enjoyed that short and sweet interview and come back for more coming soon!

Don’t forget to check out my interview with Cinda Williams Chima, from back in June, and also don’t forget to enter my current giveaway, where you can win a SIGNED Advanced Readers Copy of The Enchanter Heir!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday Top Ten-Favorite Fictional Schools

Welcome back to school everyone! By this point, order most everyone has started school, more about and its just that time of year to buy pretty new school supplies and tell yourself that this semester is going to different, and you’re going to get your act together this year. I’m with you guys, this is your year! Bring home those A’s on the report card!

As you guys have noticed the last few weeks, my creativity level on the Tuesday Top Ten has been…well, basically nonexistent. My dad has totally come up with the ideas the past few weeks and this week is no different. Thanks Dad. Seriously, my creativity is all tapped out haha.

But anyway, now that school has started, I feel like this is a great way to start it off, and a great Tuesday Top Ten. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in class, looking bored like Britney Spears in Baby One More Time, and wished I was in a different school. So that’s where this list comes in. Check it out!

10. Sweet Valley High from Sweet Valley High Series

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These were some of my favorite books when I was a kid. In hindsight, they probably weren’t the best things for a 7 to 9 year old to read, but my reading level was advanced, if nothing else, and my aunt gave me basically the whole series so there you go. But I always loved the absolute drama of Sweet Valley High. As a kid, high school seemed a thousand years away, and it was…magical, if that makes sense. High school was ALWAYS going to rock in my mind, and my mentality came from this series. Sure, there dramatics and all that, but it kept things all interesting and things always worked out in the end. You would have a nice car, be insanely attractive (the awkwardness of youth disappeared), get the hottest guys and have the best friends. Elizabeth is the dorky one but she’s still editor of the newspaper, fairly popular and has the hottest boyfriend in the school. Although, Todd, really? What kind of name is Todd?

9. Constance Billard/St. Judes from Gossip Girl 

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I think I’d want to go to Constance Billard for the pure enjoyment of the drama that comes down with being a part of the Gossip Girl show. There are a lot of things that are mostly guaranteed if you go to a school like Constance Billard, and its sister school, St. Jude. One, you’re rich. Let’s face it, its THE school to go to on the Upper East side, and its where you’re either made or unmade by Gossip Girl. Two, you probably have the best clothes in the entire world because either you can afford them or you’re a fashion genius Jenny Humphrey and you make it work. You have access to the coolest parties, and the dances, like Homecoming and Prom are OUT of this world. There are all kinds of amazing things about this high school that NEVER happened in real high school. Black and white balls, cotillions, all kinds of fun stuff. Sure, there is the ridiculous amount of drama and pressure but I still say that going to this school might have made high school a little more bearable.

8. Degrassi High from Degrassi: The Next Generation

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When you think about, I don’t know why I would want to go to Degrassi. People get shot and stabbed and get addicted to drugs, or become alcoholics or get in major car accidents or are in abusive relationships or get pregnant. I mean, this is NOT a happy school. But I LOVE this show. Its absolutely ridiculous and its completely dramatic and the amount of characters it goes through, and the amount of drama that takes place there…its all just so ridiculous. But I think its the same sort of thing with Constance Billard…it would be INTERESTING to go here. I think that it would have been crazy and dramatic and I’m sure I would ended up with some medical affliction or some sort of addiction but again, interesting.

7. Xavier’s Institute from X-Men 

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I know that in the comic and the shows and the movies that mutants aren’t accepted and that they are kind of hated because they’re different. I get that, and that sucks and it will be this ever growing fight in that universe and its kind of the whole point of it, besides the fact that they fight bad guys. But you have to admit, a school where everyone has a sort of mutation that makes them be able to do cool stuff like read minds or control weather or hop through walls? I honestly feel like I couldn’t hate school if I went to a school like that. There’s no way. Plus it would be really cool to have an awesome superpower that I was just born with, and I didn’t have to get bitten by an icky spider or anything. I like Iceman…I don’t know why but ice powers have always sounded really super awesome. I could be Icegirl and I would rock the hallways of Xaviers.

6. St. Vladimir’s Academy from Vampire Academy Series 

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I don’t want to be a vampire. I’ve never really had the desire to be a vampire unless I could become a vampire and become Simon Lewis’s girlfriend for eternity. But even then. However, I would become a dhampir. For those of you who are unaware, a dhampir is half human, half vampire, warriors trained to protect Moroi vampires from Strigoi, which are immortal, evil vampires. The main character is Rose, who attends St. Vladimir’s to eventually become an official guardian to protect her royal best friend Lissa. I always love a kickass female character, especially when they come paired with a delicious character like Dimitri, and I love this school. I love that, since they’re vampires, they go to school and party and do all their stuff at night, and sleep during the day. But because the novel is so well-written, you don’t even notice half the time, and so it’s not cheesy. I love that the classes are anything from magic (because the vampires have powers over different elements) and warfare and strategy and combat. That sounds like a really awesome school. Way better than learning chemistry and math and stuff like that.

5. The School of Idris from The Mortal Instruments series

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I have no idea if that is what its called but I call it that for now because no one has really named it yet. I want to go to Idris because it is the home of the Shadowhunter. No matter if they live there, grew up there, or grew up in an Institute or work in an Institute somewhere in the world, it is the home of the Shadowhunter. Like Mecca is to the Islams or Jerusalem is to Christians and Jews (and Islams too). It is a beautiful city, sort of old fashioned in the way that it is made, sort of like any other place in Europe, and it all seems so otherworldly and wonderful. I really want to see the Glass City part of it, with the demon wards, and the fountain, and the beautiful dances and wonderful parties. But I want to go to school in Idris because I want to be a Shadowhunter. Shadowhunters are preordained to protect the earth from demons; they’re born warriors. They don’t necessarily choose it but I think most of them would choose it. I want to be one. I want to have seraph blades, and a whip like Isabelle and I want to Mark my skin to help me fight. I would love training to be a Shadowhunter because it would be so different than our normal schooling.

4. Oden’s Ford from Seven Realms Series 

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Oden’s Ford is where the school exist in Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series. There is Mystwerk House, Temple School, Factor House, Merchant House, Isenwerk House and Wien House. What I love about this school is that it kind of reminds me of a fantasy college, if that makes sense. There are so many different schools there, schools for wizards and for trading and different crafts and that sort of thing, and the entire town seems built around the school. I love that. I love that so many people from all over the Seven Realms come here to learn a various number of things. I feel like you would get a real life experience here. There are people of all different races and religions and colors and shapes and sizes, and they’re all coming here to learn different trades, whether to harness their magics or become healers or warriors and that can really open one’s eyes wider to the world around them. You’re getting out of your bubble and you’re seeing what else is out there. I think that even though Raisa is sent here to escape the chaos that is going under her own roof, and that she is there under a false name, it really helped her become a better queen. She understood more of the way the world worked outside of her privileged life and it helped her. I also think it would be fun to live there because it is a place that is described so beautifully. So many bricks! I love brick buildings. SO beautiful.

3. Camp Half Blood from The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series 

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Okay, I recognize that this isn’t technically a school and a good amount of the kids that stay there in the summer go to normal schools during the school year. But I like to think of it as a school because these kids will never stop being demigods. This is an essential part of their life…their very being, and they have been in trouble for so long, and they will continue to be in trouble. They are attracting to danger, as the offspring of gods and goddesses and the skills that they learn at Camp Half Blood will aid them their entire life. So I do consider it a school of sorts. I would imagine that a demigod would learn more at Camp Half Blood during the summers than they do in full school years in regular schools. Despite all the danger, and all that, I think I’d much like to be a child of a god or goddess. Think of the stuff that comes from that. Think of Jason’s power with lightning and Percy’s power over water, Annabeth’s incredibly warrior skills and intelligence, Piper’s ability to charm people, Leo’s ability to tinker with just about anything and so forth. Its all so subtle but awesome. I think I’d love to go to Half Blood to learn all the things that they learn and ride a Pegasus and play Capture the Flag and have gods for teachers and centaurs for mentors. I would love to go on quests and learn to fight with a sword and live in one of the cabins. Camp Half Blood sounds like a great place to learn.

2. Jedi Academy from Star Wars 

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I want to be a Jedi. I think a Jedi is one of the things I want to be most in this life, other than a wizard (see below!) or a Shadowhunter. I have been watching Star Wars since I was a kid, and I have been a fan of it for so long. Princess Leia was always my absolute favorite character, but I was always kind of sad that she never got a lightsaber, because she wasn’t a Jedi. I love that in several of the books that have been written that take place after the movies, she does Jedi training and wields a lightsaber. I’m just saying, lightsabers are some of the best weapons that have existed in fictional world. I liked that the Jedis are trained for so much of their life because they are so disciplined and so committed to the life that they are born to live. They are there to protect the galaxy and keep the balance of the Force, and they commit their entire life for it. I like that they start off in an academy as children, where you learn with Master Yoda, before you become a Padawan to a Jedi Knight or a Jedi Master. I like that you have several teachers on the road to becoming a Jedi Knight, with the abilities to learn so much from different people. I also like that its not always a classroom type of experience, but you are taken out with your master to learn on an experience base, in the field, while you try to do your job. Its like an apprentice sort of thing, which is what the masters call them. I want to be a Jedi. If only to get a pink lightsaber. I’ll make it happen.

1. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from Harry Potter Series 

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I guess it would be no surprise that this would be the first one on my list. I think this is one of the first places that existed in a book that I thought, I want to go there. This is a place that I wish actually existed, and it never can, which only makes me want to go there more. JK Rowling created a place where you go to learn, you go to love and hate, you go to grow up, you go to have adventures and to get in trouble and learn, and so much more. When she quoted at the final Harry Potter premiere, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”, I cried. I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it. Because its HOME to Harry Potter; its where it all takes place in all seven works. It is the beginning, the middle and the end. It is where Harry Potter grew up and I would die to go there, to have adventures and to be a part of that world, a world that I have loved through the pages. Plus, I would love to take classes like that instead of the classes I take. I would love Charms and Transfiguration and Potions and Care of Magical Creatures. Hell, I think I’d even like History of Magic and Divination :) I would NOT complain like those guys! Hogwarts. The Ultimate best school ever.

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I hope you all enjoyed this edition of the Tuesday Top Ten. This one was an enjoyable one to write!

Don’t forget that you can always check out past lists here!

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What are some of your fictional schools? What would be some of your favorite fictional classes? As always, share in the comments!

Tuesday Top Ten-Characters Names that I’d Steal for My Children

Now, see this week’s Tuesday Top Ten is a little different than what I normally do.

People often times ask me where I get my names for my characters, erectile and honestly, sildenafil it mostly comes from the baby name book or a baby name website. I like kind of…different names, not weird just different.

But often, it comes from names that I wish I could name my future children.

And then that got me thinking about the different names that I like from books. I tend to try and name my pets after book characters and I would really like to do the same when I eventually have children (my boyfriend is SO rolling his eyes right now as he reads this…). I’m not talking weird names, for the most part. I like nice, normal names.

So this Tuesday Top Ten is kind of a fun, short, silly one. These basically come from two places: actual liking of the name, and liking of the character as well.

Names have always just been important to me. I was obsessed with mine for such a long time. My name is Sara, not exactly a unique and in my small group of friends in high school, three of us were named Sara (though they were the traditional spelling of Sarah). I wanted to change my name for years, or perhaps start going by Liz or Beth because my middle name is Elizabeth. Now, though, I’ve really come to appreciate my name. I really embody my name, and I think these characters below do as well.

So here we go!

10. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird

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This one kind of makes me laugh if only for the fact that …well I named my dog Scout haha. So I guess I could never name my child Scout because of that….its just too weird. But I always liked the name Scout for a little girl. Its unique without being totally weird, you know? And yes, I do realize that Demi Moore and Bruce Willis named one of their daughters, Scout, but they also named their daughters Rumor and Tallelulah which are just ridiculous names. So yeah it might a totally weird name for a child, especially because of my dog, but I really do like the name and I would totally name my kid Scout.

9. Sirius from Harry Potter

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I love the name Sirius and I think that its a really cool name, but its not a weird one, you know? I don’t think I’d name my kid Sirius but I could see using it as a middle name. Its not just from Harry Potter, but from the dog Sirius, the constellation in the sky as well. Sirius is also my favorite HP character besides Luna Lovegood so that’s kind of cool too, a way to commemorate that.

8. Keladry from Protector of the Small

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I think Keladry is an absolutely beautiful name and I think that she would be a wonderful character to name a daughter after. All of Tamora Pierce’s characters are strong, admirable characters but I think Kel might be one of the most admirable ones because she is so focused on her goals and doing her job as a knight that she ends the series without a man (sorry, spoilers, I guess haha). She’s the only one so far in Tammy’s series that doesn’t end up with anyone and Tamora gets asked all the time, if she ever ends up with someone, and she says that this wasn’t the point of Keladry and there’s a reason that she doesn’t have a significant other. Its not that she’s alone, she’s just so focused and driven and she’s surrounded by people who love her, and make her life interesting. I think that this is pretty cool character to name your kid after.

7. Asher from The Giver

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Asher is such a small character in the actual novel. But his name always, always, always stood out to me. I thought I was really weird until I worked at a little kid’s portrait studio about five years ago, and a little boy named Asher came in. I asked the mother if she named him after the character in The Giver and she looked at me like I was a serious crazy person. So I guess it’s an actual name. But I think its a really unique name without being really weird. I hate really super weird names, like the poor baby that came in once whose entire first name was “Destiny Sky Rainbow”. Poor kid. I wonder how she’s dealing now. But Asher is a great name, and is one of the ones on this list that I would actually petition really hard for when it comes time (in the very FAR future) for Jon and I to have kids.

6. Felicity from A Great and Terrible Beauty

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I think this mostly comes from the actual character than just the name. Most of the names on the list are just names I like, really, but this one really comes from the character. Felicity is a seriously ambitious, mischievous, amazing female character in Victorian London who also ends up being a lesbian…in Victorian London! That’s crazy. And sure, she doesn’t broadcast it because that would be absolute crazy talk but she still remains an extremely strong character, and definitely my favorite of the entire series. Felicity is a beautiful name and it would be honorable and sweet to name a daughter with that name, when named after such a heroine.

5. Alianne from Trickster’s Choice 

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I really like this name because its simply and it can be shortened to Ally, which I think is really really pretty. Alianne is also another really strong female character that I’ve basically worshiped since I was 15 years old and I would love to name my daughter Alianne. Its just weird enough to be cute and unique but its not like, uh, your name is WHAT? Again, I’m not a fan of that. In the book, she shortens her name to Aly, but I like Ally better. But its a seriously beautiful name, and its one that has always stuck out to me. I also had a weird obsession with Elsren, who was a little boy that she cared for, for the LONGEST time, until I realized that its still a super cute name but its too weird. How do you even shorten that!

4. Raisa from the Seven Realms series

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I love Raisa’s full name, her princess name, Raisa ana Marianna. So many “a’s” but I just love it. Its a beautiful name. And sure, Raisa is also another super badass character that any girl would be lucky to be named after but its also just a beautiful name. I think what stands out to me about this name is that its simple, almost like Sara, but its a little prettier. (Please do not misunderstand me-MOM!-I do love my name. It took me kind of a long time to do so, but I do love it). I don’t think this is a name that would cause raise eyebrows but I do think people would compliment it on how pretty it is.

3. Auden from Along for the Ride

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I love that Auden is named after a literary figure and one that isn’t really that known, especially to the target audience of the book. It doesn’t come off pretentious in the slightest; I actually just really like it. Its unique. I kind of like McClean (Ma-Clane) from What Happened to Goodbye. Its almost like a family name. I have a liking for last names as first names. Its something that isn’t done very often but its really beautiful. I don’t know that I’d actually name my child this, which is funny considering its so high on the list, but I think its one of those names that I wish I could name my kid but probably wouldn’t have the guts to do so. My boyfriend would roll his eyes, and say no, my family and his family would raise their eyebrows, so it takes guts to name your kid Auden. But it doesn’t stop it from being a beautiful name.

2.Alexander from The Mortal Instruments/Delirium series

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Jon really has no ifs, ands or buts about this one. I want to name my child Alexander. And sure, a small part is due to Alexander Lightwood of the TMI series. But a majority is just that I love the name for a boy. Its such a strong, traditional name and I think its absolutely beautiful and perfect. I would shorten it to Alec, like in TMI, but to Alex, like in Delirium. I just really love it. Honestly, its my main character’s name in the novel that I am currently working on. I really love the name. With girls, I like names that are a little different but not weird, like Summer. But with boys, I love traditional names and Alex, Alexander, is such a great example. If I have a boy one day, I really want to name him Alexander. And Alexander Lightwood is a good person to be named after, especially since he is tied for first as my favorite character in the Mortal Instruments series. He’s one of the strongest characters in the novels, and I don’t think people recognize that as much.

1. Jace from The Mortal Instruments series

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I really would love to name my kid Jace but I know there is NO way in hell my boyfriend would ever let me do that. Like….there’s no way. Even though its kind of fitting. Even though we learn that its not the truth, Jace is Jonathan Christopher shortened. Of course, he’s not the ACTUAL Jonathan Christopher but that’s okay! My boyfriend’s name is Jonathan and his brother’s name is Christopher. I could name my son that, and call him Jace. It totally works out perfectly and I seriously love it; I think its a fun name but there’s no way it’ll ever happen. But it doesn’t stop me from having it as my number one pick for a character name that I’d steal for my child!

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Hope you guys enjoyed this edition of the Tuesday Top Ten!

I hope if you are at the City of Bones Mall Tour event in Glendale, that I’ll see you there!

Check out last week’s TTT, which were my Book Deal Breakers.

What are some character names that you love? Would you name your child after them? Have you named your child after them? As always, share in the comments!

Book of the Week-The Bitter Kingdom ARC

I am so excited to be reviewing the book that I am today. First off, ed it is the first ever ARC I have ever gotten so I’m super attached to it. Secondly, information pills Rae Carson is a brilliant writer, and caught me up in her trilogy so fast. I was very excited to read this book and I really enjoyed it.

I wanted to wait a little longer to review it so it was a little closer to the August 27th release, especially since it’s not out yet and I am doing a MOSTLY spoiler free review.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Rae Carson and her The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, you’re in luck. One, I’m about to paste the description from the first novel and two, I already reviewed The Girl of Fire and Thorns back in January, which you can read here.

The GoodReads summary of The Girl of Fire and Thorns:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do

Doesn’t that sound SO good? That’s because it IS good. Rae Carson has created an absolutely beautiful fantasy world, with rich characters and an original story that immediately caught me up. I was so happy to have a chance to read the finale early and I am even more happy to share my review with you.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson 

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GoodReads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble 

Genre:
young adult, fantasy

Part of a Series?
yes, the third and final installment of The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy

You May Like if You Liked:
anything by Tamora Pierce, Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, Eon by Alison Goodman, Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Plot Summary: 

To sort of recap the previous two books, Elisa was born with a Godstone in her belly button, making her one of God’s chosen ones, to do his work. It is a huge expectation and she never really feels that she lives up to it. Her father and sister arrange for her to marry the king of the nearby country, a king of a country in turmoil who needs the chosen one. However, when she gets there, he hides her away as a guest of the kingdom, not his wife, and she feels useless. She does make friends along the way, and she saves the kingdom, though her husband dies. In the second book, she’s a queen with the smallest grasp on the kingdom and no one seems to listen to her, a seventeen year old girl with no real claim to the throne. She goes searching for something to bring her power in the a kingdom that is turning against her.

When we reach the third book of this series, Elisa is literally at the bottom of the barrel of life. Her queendom, which is hers by marriage not by birthright, is in turmoil as some of her highest nobles start questioning her rule and starting mutiny. The love of her life, though he does not know it yet (or does he?), Hector, has been stolen away from some of the most feared enemies, the Inverni, and she is determined to get him.

But she also has a few other things in mind as well. Can she be queen enough to regain the country, keep them safe and rule? Can she save Hector? Can she live up to this expectation that she has had since birth, when the Godstone was found in her belly button, declaring her one of god’s chosen ones, to do his work. She is being hunted by her own countrymen and by her enemies.

The Bad: 

Uh, it ended so soon and since it was an advanced readers copy, there’s hardly anyone to talk to about it? That’s really all I can think of. I sped through this book so incredibly fast. I was dying to read it as soon as I finished The Crown of Embers back in January.

So I guess my only gripe with this book is that its over, the series is over and I can’t read on to see what more adventures come in the future. I want to know all what happens to Elisa and Hector and all of them :) But I do have the chance to read the series over and over again, which I know I definitely will do.

The Good: 

So. Much. Good.

Where do I even begin with this novel? I love fantasy novels. I read paranormal and dystopian and sci-fi but when it all comes down to it, fantasy is where its at. When I first read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I immediately thought of some of my favorite writers, like Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams Chima. Both of these ladies create these wonderful, believable, beautiful fantasy worlds and Rae Carson does it flawlessly as well. She creates this world that you get so caught up in, you forget for a moment that its not even real. Her countries and the customs and the cultures she creates in these novels are so real. She gets even the tiniest of details, even in the doubts that Elisa has about the history she’s been taught, that you just marvel at the creativity and originality behind it.

Elisa is such a wonderful character, in that she is the hero of the story, through and through. Even with her relationship with Hector, and his determination to keep her safe, as her guard, she still is the one to save the day, to do what needs to be done to get what she wants. And she’s so strong, so different than the girl we first meet in the first book. She goes from being this fat, unconfident, shy girl to a proud, strong fighter. The decisions she makes, the solutions she comes up with are ones that surprised me but also made me cheer too. When she meets with her sister, who has essentially taken over queen duties of her kingdom, and her friend, Queen Cosme, what results from their meeting was so incredibly unexpected but also a fantastic plot twist and a show of the kind of changes Elisa has gone through and the growing up she had to do to get there.

Which leads me to the characters. Something I appreciate about fantasy novels is that they always create such memorable, unique and rich characters. Every character in this novel has his or her own unique personality that you completely believe in. They each are so different and yet so connected to similar missions, to similar goals. Elisa’s coming of age journey is not new, and yet because of the complexity and development of her character, her journey is fresh and new and you follow it with open eyes, and a racing in your heart. Hector is equally a complex character, torn by his duty to obey his queen but also his passion and love and determination to protect her, no matter what she commands of him. And this sort of pattern with these fully developed characters continues with the people that serve Elisa, her soldiers, her servants, her friends and her enemies. Every character comes with such a defining personality.

Rae Carson has created a trilogy that won’t be long forgotten because of the timelessness she creates in it. This is not a series that can go out of style or lose interest, because she creates a world that you get so easily swept up in and won’t ever want to leave. She belongs in the realms of authors like Kristin Cashore, Cinda Williams Chima and Tamora Pierce, because of her ability to create an epic fantasy with a fantastic cast of characters, with the strong and passionate Elisa at the helm.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars. Easily

Recommended or Not? 

Definitely. Two of my absolute favorite authors on the planet are Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams Chima and when I picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was so immediately swept up, caught up in this gorgeous fantasy world that I felt like I was in Tortall or the Seven Realms. I liked that it gave me such similar feelings to these books that I already love so much and I love that it was such a brand new story at the same time. I think Rae Carson is an absolutely fantastic writer, someone who deserves all the credit and awards she gets and more. I can’t wait to see what more comes from her as time goes on.

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of the Book of the Week.

I hope you all get a chance to read this entire trilogy, especially when the finale hits bookstores on August 27th!

Rae Carson is going on tour this fall as well so make sure to check out her website to see where she will be!

And check out previous book reviews in the Book of the Week section!

Things to Look Forward to in 2013

The year is halfway over. Its July and its full on summer mode here in Southern California. The 4th of July is that turning point of the year; its half way over.

And I’m sitting here, viagra approved enjoying my summer vacation before I start my last two years of college, thinking about all the awesome things that have already come out and happened this year. Clockwork Princess. WonderCon. Meeting SO many authors. Star Trek premiere. So many cool things.

But then I was thinking about it, and I was like, there is still SO MUCH MORE to look forward to with the rest of the year. So much more.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Premiere Date: August 12, 2013

Release Date: August 21, 2013

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I am SOOOO insanely excited for this. The Mortal Instruments series is one of my absolute favorite book series and I cannot wait to see it on the big screen. When they first started making it, I admit I was extremely wary. I was afraid of them making another Twilight, and while this series keeps getting compared to Twilight, its nothing like it and it looks amazing! I was also super wary of some of the casting, especially the casting of Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland but I ended up being proven so wrong, at least of what I’ve seen so far. So far, the directors, producers and movie studio have gone out of there to stay connected to the fans, to see what we’d like to see and what we like about we’ve seen so far and they’ve responded in kind. And the trailer shows me a seriously badass movie. I am looking forward to this movie adaptation because its looking like the best that I’ve seen in awhile.

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary and 12th Doctor Announcement

Release Date: November 23, 2013

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I LOVE DOCTOR WHO, and my love for Doctor Who only increased when I went to Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who convention in February. I enjoyed Series 7, though it wasn’t my favorite, and I have been eagerly anticipating the GREAT 50th anniversary special that is sure to come this year. That is when they announced that David Tennant (the 10th Doctor) and Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) would be joining Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) and Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara Oswin Oswald) for the 50th. I literally squealed with fangirl excitement. David Tennant is amazing, and his rendition of the Doctor is just…its the best and I ADORE Rose and I can’t wait to see the shenanigans that these four get up to. Then Matt Smith announced that he would be retiring as the 11th Doctor and all eyes and ears in the DW fandom are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the 12th Doctor. So much amazing DW coming our way :)

Tammara Webber’s Here With You

Ebook Release: August 6, 2013

Paperback Release: August 27, 2013

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I wasn’t even aware that there would be a fourth book in this series but I am so excited that there will be, especially since Reid Alexander is a main player in this book again. If Reid Alexander were a real celebrity, I’d: A, want him to play Jace Wayland in City of Bones and B, I’d be WAY obsessed with him that way girls are obsessed with Justin Bieber. I have a feeling a lot is going to be going on with this book, and I think the past that Reid has with his ex, Brooke, is going to come up big time with this book. I think we’re finally going to see more of that then we’ve ever seen before.

Sarah J. Maas’ Crown of Midnight

Release August 27, 2013

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The first of these books, Throne of Glass, is an absolute masterpiece and its no wonder, as it took Sarah nearly 10 years to write. Its an epic fantasy, with a badass character in Celaena, who is literally a legendary, almost mythical assassin. She can fight, and kill and she has a wicked sense of humor and she likes to curl up with a book. And she has two very different men falling in love with her, and she’s too busy trying to get her freedom. And…even though I absolutely loathe love triangles, I can’t decide which man I like better: Dorian or Chaol. But what a wonderful world that Sarah has created and I can’t wait to see this story continue and to see what other wicked adventures Celaena gets herself into.

Jennifer L Armentrout’s Origin 

Release Date: August 27, 2013

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I can’t WAIT for this book (did I mention that this book and the previous two mentioned ALL COME OUT THE SAME DAY!). If you’ve read the end of Opal, the third book in the Lux series, you’ll understand. MAJOR cliffhanger, and you just know that Daemon is PISSED and he’s ready to take on the world to get Katy back and its going to be amazing. Just the differences in covers alone shows that this is going to be a VERY different novel from the previous. I hope it’ll be more action packed and it’ll take the story in completely new directions. I am SO excited for this book; I’m counting down the days.

Veronica Roth’s Allegiant

Release Date: October 22, 2013

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I read Divergent TWO days before the release of Insurgent and stayed up til 3 a.m. reading Insurgent on its release day. It was released on May 1st, 2012 and I’ve already been waiting for over a year for this book. I know plenty of other Divergent fans who haven’t waited nearly as long as I have, so trust me haha, I’m dying for this book to come out, especially with the damn cliffhanger this book leaves you with! I remember reading this SO late at night and thinking, “No…no way. No, Veronica Roth, you don’t do this to me.” This is one of the most anticipated releases of the year in the YA genre, and with the movie wrapping up filming this month, its sure to be a best-seller within minutes. I canNOT wait to see the conclusion of this epic dystopian series.

Rick Riordan’s The House of Hades

Release Date: October 8, 2013

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Again with the cliffhangers. The Mark of Athena, the book right before this one, leaves off with an EPIC cliffhanger. Sorry I’m about to spoil it so if you haven’t read the previous books, I would move on to the next time on the list. I’m warning you. Okay, we leave off with Percy and Annabeth (one of my OTP!) literally FALLING INTO TARTARUS, the deep depths of the Underworld and the Romans of Camp Jupiter charging toward Camp Half Blood, with attack the only objective on their minds. What a way to leave off. Only a year in between books but it is SO hard to wait. And this cover, with an extremely beat up Percy and Annabeth, running from…something, just gets me wriggling with anticipation. Rick Riordan has never failed to disappoint me so this is definitely a book to count down on.

Catching Fire Release

Release Date: November 22, 2013

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I can’t wait for this movie for three reasons. One, I loved the first one but I wasn’t incredibly impressed with it. I’m hoping CF is better :) Two, Finnick Odair. Do I need to say anything else? And three, my friends all went to the Hunger Games premiere last year and had an awesome time and now we are going to the CF premiere and its sure to be a FANTASTIC time. This is a great book series, and the movie is chock full of great actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Haralson, Donald Sutherland, Jenna Malone and so much more. I am excited to see how they accomplish the build up that Catching Fire is. I also am really curious to see how well they pull of the Quarter Quell and the ridiculous arena that is the 75th Hunger Games. I remember reading it and thinking it was crazy, and its going to be epic on the big screen.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Release

Release Date: December 13, 2013

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Okay, I don’t care what any of those so-called fancy Hollywood movie “critics” say. They aren’t fans of the Tolkien universe and they just don’t know. This movie wasn’t made for the critics; it was made for the fans and all the fans that I know…LOVED the first movie. I know I did. I was incredibly impressed and I wanted it to go on forever and I loved the extra stories they added from The Silmarillion and the appendices. This movie is bound to be epic because we get to see more elves (including Thandruil and Legolas) and Benedict Cumberbatch’s sexy dragon voice and so much more. I just know that the movie will continue to be as epic as the first one was. My super cool friend, Kathleen, from New Zealand got me some epic Hobbit shirts and I can’t wait to wear them when seeing this movie for the first time.

Cinda Williams Chima’s The Enchanter Heir 

Release Date: October 1, 2013

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I am so incredibly…okay I’ve said it like a hundred times now…excited for this book because Cinda Williams Chima is a fantasy GENIUS. Seriously. I will push her on you until the day I die because she is an absolutely brilliant and talented writer and I don’t think its fair that she doesn’t get the credit that she deserves when there are extremely popular YA authors out there, with huge fandoms, that aren’t even good. Okay, moving on, this is the 4th book in the Heir Chronicles, though it can be read without reading the first three. Its an urban fantasy, a brilliantly crafted fantasy world wrapped up in modern day worlds. I read all seven of Cinda’s previously released books in a matter of about a month and so now I am dying to have my socks knocked off again by this amazing writer.

Anniversary Edition Harry Potter Books

Release Date: August 27, 2013

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I hate change. I really do. I would rather things just be left alone and kept the way they originally were meant to be. Like the original Star Wars trilogy. Why George Lucas, why, did you add all that unnecessary CRAP  to that movie? Ugh. So when they announced that each book in the Harry Potter series would be getting updated covers for the 15th anniversary of the Sorcerer’s Stone’s publication in the US, I wasn’t really thrilled. Until the covers started to be revealed and I was thoroughly impressed. As much as I believe that Mary Grandpre’s covers are the best and will always remain my favorite, these covers (so far, five have been released) are just so beautiful done and are so incredibly impressive and full of artistic talent. I went from shaking my head, to looking at these with eyes wide and immediately rushing to Amazon to place my pre-order. And of course, this box set comes out the EXACT SAME DAY as Origin and Crown of Midnight and Here Without You…

Marie Lu’s Champion 

Release Date: November 5, 2013 

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This is going to be the most epic finale to the BEST dystopian series that I have ever read. Yes, better than The Hunger Games, and yes, better than Divergent. Marie Lu creates a one of a kind dystopian universe (she actually talks about countries besides the US!) and she creates two conflicting, yet in love characters, and her back and forth point of views just leave us with a breath taking, addicting story. I adore both June and Day and the cliffhanger she leaves us with (SPOILER: Day is dying…and he didn’t tell June) is just too much for me to handle. Luckily, after reading Prodigy on its release day in January, I didn’t have to wait long for Champion’s release, which is in November! Not even a year. That, my friends, is possibly the best news a reader can get.

Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters

Release Date: August 7, 2013

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I was incredibly disappointed in the first movie. I don’t think its as TERRIBLE as everyone makes it out to be but it definitely isn’t a good movie. Its kind of one of those guilty pleasure movies; plus, Logan Lerman is so adorable, I just want to eat him up. But it wasn’t great, and it failed in the box office, so it surprised me immensely when they announced that the second book, Sea of Monsters, was being filmed. Pleasantly surprised but also wary. Now, I’ve seen stills and trailers and I’m not completely sold yet but I do like this book a lot and I am hoping that they are able to revamp this movie series and we can get to Titan’s Curse, which is my FAVE of the Olympians series. I hope, I hope!

Meg Cabot’s The Bride Wore Size 12

Release Date: September 24, 2013

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Heather Wells is one of my idol characters to look up to because she makes me feel better about myself, both inside and out. Heather is a bigger girl, and she used to be a smaller, famous pop star who basically lost everything but as the books go on, she gains more and more confidence, and becomes so happy in the skin that she’s in and I love that. I love that the more I gain confidence in the size that I wear (which is, a size 12), the more I feel like this badass heroine. Now, after all these books, I am so happy that she is finally getting married and to the person that she’s always wanted to be married to, and I can’t wait to see what adventures she is bound to get into because its Heather and someone is bound to die and Heather is bound to catch them.

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I am also looking forward to the return of Once Upon a Time in the fall for season 3, the new series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, as well. I am excited for Vampire Diaries and the new series, The Originals. I am also anticipating the return of Sherlock, season 3, though I believe that may be in 2014. So much is coming!

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So that was a really long, epic post but I hope you all enjoyed it! There are just SO many cool things left to look forward to in 2013!

What are you most looking forward to in the next six months of 2013? Book releases, movie releases, TV shows returning? As always, share in the comments!