Pimp My Bio: Pitch Wars 2017

This is my first year entering Pitch Wars and I could not be more excited (or nervous!).

First things first, my book! My MS is a YA contemporary romance called SEEING STARS

Seventeen-year-old Arianna Gold’s life seems perfect, but underneath the façade of popularity, she’s hiding her real life: a set of neglectful and abusive parents, and her depression and anxiety which led to a prior suicide attempt. When people look at Arianna, they see a future singer or the football star’s girlfriend, but when August Stone, the school’s number one nerd, discovers the truth, he threatens not only her self-constructed image, but her heart. It would be easier to just ignore him, but Arianna needs his help to pass algebra and graduate so that she can get out of Connecticut to pursue her dreams.

 

August Stone is a boy genius: top of the class, bound for the Ivy Leagues and a career in astronomy (planetary science, to be exact). And that means he has no place in Arianna’s circle—especially around her jealous, hot-headed boyfriend; even when it becomes dangerous. Though he could blow her cover, she can’t stay away from him. He sees her the way no one else does, for the girl she really is, not the one she pretends to be.

August quickly becomes the only person she can trust with her secrets, but as their relationship grows from strictly mandated, to friends, to something more, so do the risks involved. His father makes it clear he thinks August is throwing away his future to be with a girl that isn’t good enough for him and she could lose the comfort and safety of her perfectly constructed world. She knows that it’s fake, but it’s all she has. And she’s scared that losing it could make her mental health spiral again.

SEEING STARS (complete at 52,000 words) is a contemporary YA with an alternating timeline: telling the story of how two teens from very different families form an unlikely and ill-fated romance and how that goes on to affect their futures. It is a story of sex, love, nerds and the lifelong battle of mental illness and absent parents that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell and Jennifer Niven.

 

About Me:

My name is Eliza Turrill and I have a BA in English and Writing as well as a publishing certification from Denver Publishing Institute. I have had poetry published in my undergraduate literary magazine, Neon, and won an honorable mention for one of the poems.

By day I am a writer/editor for a large health system in IL and co-run their Internal Communications. By night, I am also a writer and video game nerd. (Carpal tunnel couldn’t stop me!)

I grew up in a small New England town similar to where this novel takes place, and have dealt with my own personal struggles with mental health. I can certainly lend authority to this tricky, yet important subject. I am also a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Ari is queer (refers to her sexuality as fluid), but this novel mainly deals with hetero relationships.

I created a Pinterest board that captures the spirit, people, fashion and settings that go with Seeing Stars. You can find it here. This board can be further curated as a promotional tool and interactive companion for the novel.

Here are some songs that inspired, or fit the mood of this novel:

  • Tracy Chapman- Fast Car
  • Kesha- Praying
  • Halsey- Colors, Drive, Gasoline (pretty much the whole badlands novel. I picture Ari’s music with the rawness of Halsey and the commercial appeal of T Swift).
  • Taylor Swift- Red (seriously, I must have listened to this song 100000 times over the course of this journey), Wildest Dreams, 1989 album.
  • Ben Folds Five- Brick
  • Mariah Carey- You’ll Always Be My Baby
  • The Verve Pipe- The Freshman
  • Coldplay- Fix You
  • CCR- Fortunate Son (Because they both like CCR)
  • Grizzly Bear- Slow Life
  • Vampire Weekend- Pretty much all of their songs.
  • Miley Cyrus- Malibu
  • Dave Matthews Band- Crash Into Me
  • Train- Drops of Jupiter (Though Augie hates it for its inconsistencies)
  • Counting Crows- Colorblind
  • The Killers- All These Things That I’ve Done
  • Matchbox 20- Bright Lights
  • Pink- Don’t Let Me Get Me/18 Wheeler
  • Lana Del Rey- Summertime Sadness

You can find me here: Twitter, Instagram, portfolio, LinkedIn, Goodreads.

Here is a picture of my beautiful cat and faithful writing buddy, Bella:

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My favorite books/authors include (but certainly not limited to):

  • Nicola Yoon
  • S. Jae Jones- Wintersong
  • Rainbow Rowell
  • Sarah J. Maas
  • VE Schwab
  • JK Rowling
  • Judy Blume- Summer Sisters
  • Janet Fitch
  • Ernest Cline- Ready Player One
  • Deborah Harkness- All Souls Trilogy
  • Jennifer Niven- All the Bright Places
  • Amy Zhang- Falling Into Place
  • Gabrielle Zevin- The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
  • Sylvia Plath- The Bell Jar

To sum it up: SEEING STARS is a gritty YA: dealing with themes of sex, drugs, bullying, mental health and family dysfunction. (It also has an alternating timeline–claps hands).It shows that mental illness is not just something you beat or get over, but that it’s a part of you and involves peaks and valleys. Ari is flawed and does not just “get better”, but learns ways to improve through therapy positivity and self-awareness. They both succeed, and are stronger, despite their obstacles.

I want to show young women that they deserve all the love and happiness in the world and that THEY’RE WORTH IT! For the nerds and popular kids and everyone in between who struggle with mental health, but still dream of the stars. I’m looking for a mentor that is totally behind this and can help me with conflict. The voice, romance and pacing are strong: this book has had many beta readers and polishes but I am so ready to get my hands dirty and get into the trenches bringing this book to the best it can be. I’m definitely a hard worker!

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My Year in Books

Hello All,

Every year I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge. I thought it would be fun to share “My Year in Books”. Here are some statistics:

Total Books Read: 27

Total Pages Read: 10,134

Average Length: 375 pages

Shortest Book: 211 pages: A Wrinkle in Time (my first time reading this classic!)

Longest Book: 626 pages: A Court of Mist and Fury (who else is seriously excited for ACOWAR? I can’t contain myself.)

Most Popular Book Read: Eleanor & Park

Average Rating: 4 stars. What can I say? I read a lot of great books this year.

Overall, it was a great year. I read my first Gaiman (The Graveyard Book), I got into VE Schwab, who I adore, Sarah J Maas and Jennifer Niven. I would say my favorite books were All the Bright Places which was incredibly written, heart-wrenching and honest, as well as A Court of Mist and Fury and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. If you’re someone like me and strong characters are the most important part of a book to you, I recommend all of the above.

What were some of your favorites, or least favorite books you read in 2016? Did you hit your goal? I missed mine by 3 books! What books are you looking forward to in 2017?

Happy reading!

Review of “The Thousandth Floor” by Katharine McGee

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Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Pub: August 2016 HarperCollins

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.
Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.
Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.
Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.
Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?
Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.
And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.
Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….”-Summary from Goodreads.com

I had a lot more technical cons than pros for this book. I felt that McGee was much better at world building: she created this rich futuristic environment that was honestly super cool. But, she wasn’t so great at character development. A lot of these characters seemed 1-D, I kept forgetting who was who, and very superficial. Rylin and Eris were the only redeemable ones for me throughout. I can’t say too much about it but Leda’s personality was not super believable. Also we finally get a queer relationship, yay!!! And bi characters are super underrepresented in any fiction. There was some refreshing diversity in characters and relationships.
There isn’t really any action until at least half way through, the whole time I was reading this I just knew that all the action would go down in the last 50 pages as setup for the next book. I find that ultra frustrating, but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy those last 50 pages. Reading it was a lot of fun.
Lastly, there was quite a bit of obvious foreshadowing. Things like in the beginning Avery says she never wants to fight with Leda because of her revenge fueled personality, and they immediately begin drawing apart. There were a lot of instances of heavy handed foreshadowing and she should trust her readers more/leave more to surprise.
I think the character problems may have been helped with less POVs. But overall, it was a fun read, and I plan on reading the second.
(Also the cover is gorgeous and the inside of the hardcover is literally liquid gold glitter.)

Review of “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

Pub:  May 2016 Bloomsbury

“Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.” -Summary Goodreads.com

Ugh. I’m not sure where to start on this review so I will start at the beginning of my expansive notes which start at the beginning of the book. Also, I apologize for the length of this review, I have a lot of things to say.

From the setup, and the way she paints Tamlin, which I’m guessing is from her spending too much time within the book that she lost a little perspective, you can tell that she does not like Tamlin. Perhaps I need to re-read the first one, and I plan to, but I do not remember Tamlin being this big of an ass. I thought he was more accepting of her fighting and tough side in the last book. Feyre so abhorrently did not want to marry Tamlin, that it took me, as a reader, by surprise.

With all that said, this is a book, that at its heart, is a story of a girl finding her freedom and finding herself. It was absolutely gorgeous and powerful. This is a book for people who have suffered from unhealthy relationships, PTSD (I’ll come back to this), and the guilt of not wanting what you once thought you needed. Maas also covers male rape respectfully, something not talked about enough. A quote that absolutely struck me right in the feels: “I realized how badly I’ve been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.” Holy. Shit. Maas hits the nail on the head here. I know this feeling and I know that many young girls do. She no longer needed a protector or a safe life full of food, wealth and safety. She became someone else when her human body died. Yes, this was hammered into us a lot of times throughout the book, but we needed to hear it. We needed to listen.

Maas handles PTSD with stunning grace. She did her research. Feyre couldn’t handle certain colors, the feeling of being trapped, and Tamlin’s disrespect and misunderstanding of that cemented their differences. He ignored it all together.

Coming back to what I said in the first paragraph, I do think that Maas went a little far with the heavy comparison between Spring and Night court. Everything was better: the clothes, the company. While yes, accurate, the setup was a little obvious.  With that said, everyone in the Night Court was pretty fucking awesome. Also, the conversations were well-written and nothing felt like boring court politics. That is not easy.

From then on my notes devolve into “WOWOWOWOW THIS BOOK IS FUCKING AMAZING”. I mostly ran out of intelligent things to say when my emotions took over. This book, this book right here, is so much, miles better than the first. I think this made my list of favorite books of all time. You can tell she must have been planning or already done with this book when she wrote the first because pieces of the second were important in the first and vice versa. I definitely want to read some more things from her. (Based on this, she would write a good vampire! There were many similarities).

Tamlin was such a flat character, but Rhys? Rhys is incredible. Sometimes I forgot about the war building because I got so into the story of him and Feyre. Maas showed us that you can be possessive in a way that is healthy and what an honest, real relationship should look like. (The sex scenes were quite a bit for YA, seems more like new adult, not that I’m complaining!)

The ending let me down a little bit. I was frustrated because the plot buildup of this war throughout the whole book, which was secondary to her and Rhys, but still, didn’t really happen at all? I didn’t completely understand what the King of Hybern wanted. And now the whole next book will be about that again? The last few chapters felt a little rushed and confusing. It was most certainly a buildup for the next book. Which I get, but I do enjoy everything getting resolved and I’m also a little bummed at what the immediate future holds for them. Without spoiling, let’s just say things are gonna be a bit awkward? Not sure how she is going to handle certain things there. But we shall see.

Regardless of the ending, this is a truly incredible book. A female character who is strong, but wasn’t afraid to break along the way and let herself be true to what she wanted and needed. I loved it. Perhaps this holds a special place based on my experiences, but even so, the writing was excellent. What can I say? Maas is kind of a master.

Author of the Month: V.E. Schwab

Hey guys,

So I’ve read three V.E Schwab (Victoria Schwab) books this year and I did not do any reviews for them. I felt that I should give her a special shoutout.

 

 

These are the books I’ve read from her. I want to start by saying that she is a phenomenal writer with great powers of world-building and character development/characterization. Tor is her publisher which also says a great deal about her.

Of the three, Vicious was my favorite. “Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” Ugh. Amazing. This book is totally and completely morally ambiguous and I love that. For most of the book these characters are pretty gray. Who is a villain? How does one define a villain? I am gravitated to exploring these questions and the characters were well developed.

The other two books are the first two in her Shades of Magic trilogy. I didn’t find the characters as alluring as they were in Vicious. But, if you are a big fan of fantasy, there is a magic system and it takes place in a fantastical world, whereas Vicious was set in our good ol’ normal planet. Shades of Magic is set in 4 different parallel Londons: Red, Gray, Black and White London and only Kell can travel between the 4 worlds (or is he the only one?).

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking out her work, even if you aren’t a big fantasy fan. If not, I would say to start with Vicious to get a taste of her writing style. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Review of “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

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Rating: 3/5 Stars

Pub: May 19th 2015 by Del Rey

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.” -Summary from Goodreads.com

This book has a few instances of violence against women. Dragon grabs her arms and quite literally drags her, to the point of bruising, and early on a prince tries to rape her. Dragon calls her useless among many other things. These things didn’t sit well with me. The Dragon was almost too mean in the beginning. That being said I am a romantic, and I still liked the buildup of them getting to know each other. I won’t spoil it but I loved loved learning his real name and the magic she felt with it.

I am aware that this book draws quite a bit from Eastern European folklore of which I’m not too familiar with (except vampires) so I don’t feel a great authority to speak on that. I’d also be interested to learn more about the language used for the magic spells!

Dragon and Agnieszka spend a good chunk of the story apart, rendering it not really/completely about them, as the sorely lacking synopsis alludes to. (Seriously that synopsis is bad). There was also a lot of uninteresting court politics in this book. It was very long and had a few different pieces to it, I think this whole world and story could have been told in more than one book (and I am not usually the person to say this).

I did like the ending, even if it did feel a little abrupt. The best part of it for me was what Agnieszka was doing, that felt real to her character. It wasn’t all about the love story and she didn’t just blindly follow Dragon, she did what she knew was true to her. I liked that.

With all that said I don’t think this is exactly my type of fairy tale retelling, there was a good amount of pieces I didn’t really enjoy. But the story is there and quite detailed, so still 3 stars for me.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Happy International Women’s Day!

I realized that the majority of my shelves are filled with female authors 🙂 Who are some of your favorite female authors?

(Not pictured: Amy Poehler’s book, which I read her narration of, and Frankenstein which I forgot! Boo.)