So You Can Understand Me | Camp NaNoWriMo | #40k

Hey look, it’s another NaNoWriMo post . . .

Welcome to my first writing-related post on SS&SS! I talk about what I’m reading quite often and give y’all book reviews, but since it’s April and Camp NaNoWriMo is in full swing, I thought now would be an appropriate time to share a bit about the novel I’m writing.

So You Can Understand Me is not my first novel, nor is it my second. I finished what is now a 66k word novel for NaNoWriMo in eighth grade. It was probably the biggest accomplishment of my entire life, right up there with making state for skiing this year. I finished it that November with around 30k words, but continued to work on it the next year and more than doubled the word count. I now consider it finished, though I really don’t know if I’ll ever publish it. The writing is pretty juvenile, but I’ve edited the manuscript three times and it’s improved very much.

Anyway, this post is not about that book, it’s about the novel I’m titling So You Can Understand Me – though that may be nothing more than a working title. My word count goal for Camp is 40k, but if I’m not finished telling the story at that point, I’ll extend it. I’m writing this post on April 3rd, and my current word count is 5,731, but by the time y’all read this it’ll be much higher.

The book is categorized as young adult fiction, and I’m going to give you the basic plot and descriptions of characters (along with pictures!) I saw a post like this on a friend’s blog and I thought it would be super fun to do on mine (shoutout to Faye over at EOAJ! She is also one of my Camp NaNo writing buddies).

(This story is losely inspired by a fantastic middle-grade fiction book called Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder. Highly, highly recommend it.)

The Synopsis

“15-year-old Harlie Castello lives with her alcoholic mother Jennifer, fending for herself and hiding from the endless questions from her teachers and best friend. Desperate to understand her mothers actions and intentions, Harlie finds herself tranpsorted into a different time, when her mother was a very different person. As Harlie begins to get to know her mother in a way she never thought possible, she gains understanding and discovers secrets burried beneath decades of pain.”

The Plot

Harlie gets into a huge accident one night and winds up in a coma for two weeks. During those two weeks, she spends time back in the late 1980s, as her mother’s sister Danah. The twist – Harlie had no idea her mom had a sister. She spends what is supposedly four months (less time than that in real life, of course) in 1989 getting to know her mom as a teenager.

Suddenly, Harlie finds herself in the mid-1990s, when her mom was in college. No longer playing the role of her mom’s little sister, she realizes she is now her mom’s roommate, Mackenzie. Same situation plays out – she spends a while with her college-aged mother before traveling forwards in time once more.

Now, it’s the early 2000s, when Harlie was just a baby. Instead of taking on the role of some important person in her mom’s life, she is now an invisible bystander. She observes her mom and her now-absent dad fight and fight and fight some more, until the moment when her dad ups and leaves. In present time, Harlie had absolutely no idea why her dad left, but now she gets to see the entire backstory.

The story is broken up into those three parts, and at the end Harlie wakes up in the hospital. Her mother, realizing how close she came to almost losing her daughter, takes steps to recover from her alcohol addiction. Harlie also makes contact with her father, who she hasn’t seen since he walked out that day so many years ago.

The Characters

Yay! Now for the fun part!

So obviously, these Internet photos are super airbrushed and very unrealistic-looking, but you get the idea.


Jennifer as an adult – picture her with green eyes


Jennifer as a teenager


Harlie’s dad – though he doesn’t have a beard (or a name)

And there you have it! #pleasedontstealmybookideaandplagiarizeit

Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? What do you think of my story idea? Would you read it if you picked it up at the bookstore? Do you have any suggestions or feedback for me?



We’re Back (I Think) + What I’ve Been Reading

Heyyyy guys. Long time no see.

It’s spring break, and I’m not going anywhere nice and warm for the weeklong break, so I thought I might as well jump back on WordPress for a bit. Maybe I’ll actually stay up to date with blogging.

If you follow my doll blog, you may notice that I haven’t blogged since *chokes* July?!? That’s rough. But maybe it’s okay. I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown up, doll blogging is no longer something I’m so interested in. And, since I’m completely bored at the moment, maybe it’s time to start lifestyle (or whatever you call this) blogging again.

(Or maybe I just missed you guys.)

I was going to post pictures of the knee-deep snow in our backyard, but there are so many snow photoshoot posts out on the Internet right now I figured that wouldn’t be the most original plan. Instead, I’m here with three new book reviews!


Lovely War by Julie Berry

Where. Do. I. Start.

Oh my goodness. It has been so long since I’ve read a truly original book with well-developed characters I was beginning to think I’ve already read them all. Lovely War, which I picked up at Barnes & Noble solely because of the gorgeous pink cover, ticks all the boxes. The book opens when the Greek god Hephaestus catches his wife, Aprhodite, having an affair with Ares. Aphrodite, who is put “on trial,” begins to tell the love story of Hazel, an adorable British pianist, and James, an American soldier. And if that doesn’t sound intriguing enough for you, add in two more lovelorn characters – Hazel’s charming new friend Colette, and fun-loving African-American soldier Aubrey. One of the things I loved most about this novel was how it depicted not only the trauma soldiers with PTSD suffer, but brought awareness to the ill treatment of African-Americans fighting in WWI. This is ABSOLUTELY a must-read if you are a fan of romance, historical fiction, or both.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Age rating: 14+


Home Front by Kristin Hannah

I was introduced to Kristin Hannah’s novels by a friend of mine at school, who loaned me The Nightingale (another incredible must-read, and her best book in my honest opinion). I fell in love instantly with Hannah’s beautiful writing skills, and Home Front did not disappoint. This book takes place in modern day, when mother-of-two Jolene Zarkades is sent overseas to the middle East to fly helicopters for the US army, leaving her daughters and failed marriage at home in the States. When she returns, injured, she isn’t sure that she can put her marriage back together, make her husband fall in love with her again, and heal from her wounds. And let me tell you, I actually teared up at the end of this emotional story, something I do not do often.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Age rating: 15+


Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

I’m not sure what it is with these three books all being set during wartime, but Letters to the Lost was just as fantastic as the first two. I just finished it this afternoon after reading for three hours straight. It starts off when Jess, who just escaped her abusive boyfriend, breaks into an abandoned house and discovers a stack of letters from WWII. The story alternates between Jess’s point of view in 2011, and Stella’s point of view in the early 1940s, Stella being the owner of the letters. Stella, married to the vicar of her church, falls in love with an American airman named Dan and has an affair with him. Jess, along with her new friend Will, try to reunite Stella and Dan, who were separated during the war.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Age rating: 15+

Guys! Please read these three books – they are all incredible and extremely well-written. There is some adult content in all three of them (the last two having slightly more than Lovely War), but if you/your parents are okay with that, go ahead and give them a try. I really enjoyed all of them, and you probably will too.

Are y’all interested in seeing more book reviews in the future?

Until next time,





A Little Summer Reading| Why Does Europe Have Better Books Than We Do?

Hey friends! I’m taking a small break from compiling Europe pictures (I have them on four different devices, so it’s a little challenging to get them all into one post) to do my first book post!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of libraries and borrowing books instead of buying them, but I couldn’t help myself . . . I came home from Europe with seven new books in my suitcase.

Hold on, hold on – one is a gift for a friend.

So it’s actually more like six. And in my defense, European bookstores are so much more interesting than American ones. You can tell they took time to carefully select their merchandise, instead of mass-ordering popular books to stock their shelves. *cough cough* Barnes & Noble *cough cough*

And then I came home and bought a couple more at a used bookstore. I haven’t read all of them yet, but I will show them to you and review the ones I did read.

(None of these are my images)


Again, but Better

I read this one as an ebook while I was in Paris and it’s definitely something that you could start a fandom about (on second thought, there probably already is one). This book was perfect for my trip, as it’s about a girl who goes to London for a study abroad. The story was a little cringey in the beginning, I’m not going to lie, but it got better in the middle. Christine Riccio, the author, published this as her first novel . . . and it was something I could tell just by reading the first few chapters. The story overall is very cute, and has time travel for those interested 🙂 9/10 would recommend, ages 13+.


The Way I Used to Be

I read this on my ereader as well in just one day. The story, though fairly dark and depressing, drew me in and I could not put it down. Because the story involves sexual violence, however, I would not recommend it to someone under the age of 15 or sensitive readers. It is sooooo good, though, and a very emotion-producing read. 8/10 would recommend.


Hope and Other Punch Lines

I read this book while I was in England after purchasing it in France. The book centers around the event that occured on 9/11, and two teenagers who were heavily impacted by it. The synopsis on the back cover really grabbed me, but once I started reading the book, I noticed that the story was a little slow. The characters were adorable, though, and I ship them 100%. *squeals excitedly* 8/10 would recommend, ages 12+.


The Third Twin

The Third Twin is advertised as a thriller, as you can tell by the front cover, but it was definitely NOT. In fact, the whole plotline seemed basic and boring, an average story about twin sisters who get into all sorts of trouble . . . however, the plot twist at the end was exciting. 5/10 would recommend, ages 14+.


The Names they Gave Us

I bought this at the bookstore Shakespeare + Company in Paris solely for the gorgeous cover. I’m in the middle of it right now, and it seems to be a great story so far. The main character is a pastor’s daughter whose mother is fighting breast cancer. I may do a bigger review on this once I’m finished, we’ll see. Can’t give a recommendation or age rating yet, though.


Other books I purchased that I have yet to read.


Lastly, we come to Chain Letter – I started reading this book but couldn’t get past the first couple of chapters. The book seems so dated, like it was set in the 70s, but was written about seven or eight years ago and is set in modern time. That kind of threw me off. Don’t let the cover fool you, either – the book is not as exciting as it looks. Would not recommend this.

That’s all for now . . I hope you enjoyed this summer reading review.

Have you guys read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!