Once Upon a Time: Zac Brewer

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Hey guys! As you may know, I recently launched my new feature, Once Upon a Time. If you didn’t get a chance to check out the intro post, you can read it here! To sum it up: Once Upon a Time is a backlist feature that not only helps me showcase some really amazing authors and their backlist titles, but also allows me to share with you some of the books that I read when I was younger and that are still favorites now. These are the books that shaped me as a reader and made me feel less alone as a teen.


Before we begin, Please Note: Due to the location of my Vlad Tod books on my shelf, I wasn’t able to reach them to take original photos. The photos you’ll find in this post are close-ups of Fang from the covers of each book. I do not own this image nor the rights to it.


So, originally, I was going to wait and feature Zac Brewer in May when his new book, The Blood Between Us, came out. But something happened the other day. A man who claimed to be a member of Uncle Zac’s Minion Horde insulted Uncle Zac for being transgender.

(Side Note: If you don’t know what it means to be transgender, you can learn about it here. And if you don’t know about Uncle Zac’s transition, you can read this post and watch this video).

I want to start by saying that Uncle Zac is amazing. He has done SO MUCH for teens and readers who feel alone and are bullied. And that anyone could claim to be a Minion and yet insult him in the same message? Unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable. No true, loyal Minion would EVER insult Uncle Zac. Not after everything Uncle Zac has done for all of us. His honesty and openness in discussing his depression, anxiety, health issues and transition have made so many people feel safe, loved and accepted. Loyal Minions are thankful for everything Uncle Zac has done. They have always and will always love and support him for being epic personified.

So.. Like I said, I was going to wait until May and the release of The Blood Between Us to feature Uncle Zac. But I feel like this incident needs to be addressed and Uncle Zac needs to know he’s loved and supported, as he has always loved and supported his Minions. And I figured featuring him in my March ‘Once Upon a Time’ would do just that – or help, at least.

For those who don’t know, Uncle Zac first entered our bookish lives in 2007 with the publication of Eighth Grade Bites, a series that has resonated with many readers across the world – myself included. I can remember the exact situation under which I first discovered this book. I was on vacation with my family in Vermont. I was exploring the YA section of the beloved indie bookstore there and my eyes caught on Eight Grade Bites. At first, I was hesitant. Though I’ve always been a HUGE vampire fan, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel reading a book from the point of view of an eighth grade boy. At that point in my life, I found I had a difficult time relating to books with male main characters – I know, I know, this was very stupid of me! But I was a younger reader then and, except for Harry Potter, I had never had success reading male main character books. But all that changed when I decided to give Eight Grade Bites and Vlad a chance.

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I remember being so intrigued by the plot that I didn’t want to put the book back on the shelf, despite my doubts. I remember taking it back to my hotel that night and starting it right away. I remember finishing it before the weekend was over. And I remember I didn’t want it to ever end. I was so touched by these characters and their stories. Vlad was such a relatable character, despite being a vampire! He was bullied and alone, just trying to survive junior high. Vlad has to deal with the ups and downs of growing up, of juggling friends and relationships, of dodging bullies and standing tall in the face of his struggles.

I remember when the second book, Ninth Grade Slays, came out and I was ecstatic! Mind you, this was before I knew about the existence of Goodreads, so I couldn’t look the series up to discover if book two was even going to be a thing. I didn’t know when it would come out or even IF it would come out. Back then, I didn’t know what I know now about searching out release dates and author news. I was very much alone in my fangirling, as none of my friends in real life were big readers and I hadn’t discovered the book community online yet. So my level of excitement when this much-anticipated sequel released can’t be described in words.

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These books made me feel less alone. These characters felt like friends and family, like confidants. They were around at a time in my life when I really needed them. And when the final book, Twelfth Grade Kills, came out, I remember being overjoyed at how satisfying the ending was, but also devastated that it was ending.

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But it wasn’t until later, when I became more involved with social media, Goodreads and the book community that I realized that Uncle Zac was such an amazing person. He wasn’t a typical adult who looked down on kids and teens, who sneered at them or dismissed them. He truly cared. Sure, that was pretty obvious – or should have been – from the books he wrote and the topics addressed. But learning more about the person behind the books made me love them even more. When I first learned about Uncle Zac’s Minion Horde and what it meant to be a Minion, I latched onto the idea and have tried to embrace what it means to be a Minion. And I’ve discovered that once a Minion, always a Minion. Being a Minion means being a Minion for life. It means helping and supporting your fellow Minions, accepting them for who they are – accepting yourself for who you are.

This is more than just a book series. Uncle Zac is more than just an author. The take-away is this: Treat others as you would treat yourself. Accept others as you wish to be accepted. Support your fellow Minions and be there for them, as you want them to be there for you when you need them. Band together and be strong. Fight the bullies. Fight the hate. Fight the stigma of mental illness. Fight against discrimination. You be you. You do you. Own your weird, as Uncle Zac would say. Together, we can create a more tolerant world.

“People fear what they can’t understand and harm what they fear.”
― Heather Brewer, Eighth Grade Bites

So what I’m trying to say is this: That man who claimed to be a Minion, who insulted Uncle Zac? He’s not a Minion. If you’ve ever felt alone and you can relate to the above post, then YOU are a Minion. And if you’re kind to others and accept them for who they are, then you’re a Minion for life.

“A label doesn’t make something so. A label is just a word. It’s what a person does that makes them who they are”
― Heather Brewer, Twelfth Grade Kills

I want to leave you with this message from Uncle Zac. I encourage you to read it. It’s important.


So, are you a Zac Brewer fan? Which of his books have you read? What did they mean to you? Do you still re-read them? Are you a Minion? Will you become a Minion? Discuss in the comments!!


Zac Brewer About Zac:
Zac Brewer grew up on a diet of Twilight Zone and books by Stephen King. He chased them down with every drop of horror he could find—in books, movie theaters, on television. The most delicious parts of his banquet, however, he found lurking in the shadowed corners of his dark imagination. When he’s not writing books, he’s skittering down your wall and lurking underneath your bed. Zac doesn’t believe in happy endings . . . unless they involve blood. He lives in Missouri with his husband and two children.

Zac is represented by Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

He also sometimes makes a fool of himself on his YouTube channel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Once Upon a Time: Meg Cabot

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Hey guys! As you may know, I recently launched my new feature, Once Upon a Time. If you didn’t get a chance to check out the intro post, you can read it here! To sum it up: Once Upon a Time is a backlist feature that not only helps me showcase some really amazing authors and their backlist titles, but also allows me to share with you some of the books that I read when I was younger and that are still favorites now. These are the books that shaped me as a reader and made me feel less alone as a teen.

Today, I have the first of many author features to share with you! Since Remembrance (The Mediator #7) is releasing this month (tomorrow, in fact!), I figured it would be perfect timing to feature Meg Cabot!

Meg Cabot is my #1 favorite author. I first discovered her books when I was 13/14, browsing at a used bookstore. Meg Cabot was one of the first authors I read in the YA genre – along with R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. See, a lot of people have that One Book that they KNOW started them on their YA journey. For me, it was a natural progression from chapter books to middle grade to YA. As my reading level advanced (I was always ahead of my age/peers), I just kept reading “older” books. So I don’t really have a specific book that started me on YA, but I do know that Cabot, Stine and Pike were some of the first authors/books that I read – And to this day, they remain my favorites.

Basically, at that point in my life, I just knew I loved supernatural/paranormal books. I wasn’t big on contemporary AT ALL! So when I discovered Meg’s books in that used bookstore, I was in heaven! I can’t completely remember if I discovered her Mediator books first or her 1-800-Where-R-U books first. Or maybe I found some of each at the same time. All I know is, since I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of Amazon and online ordering, it took several trips back to that used bookstore before I was able to snag all four books in each series (yeah, each series only had four books at that point!).

Fun fact? I didn’t even know her name was Meg Cabot at the time! Because the copies of the Mediator series that I found still had her pen name, Jenny Carroll, on them!

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Now, her 1-800-Where-R-U books DID (do?) say Meg Cabot, but under that they say “Written as Jenny Carroll.” So, to 13-year-old me, this was a bit confusing (I’m not even sure if I knew authors had pen names when I was 13/14! Obviously I figured it out eventually, haha!) But I love that I have older editions like these! They’re almost like collector’s editions now!

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Shadowland, the first book in the Mediator series, came out in 2000, and I discovered them (roughly) in 2002/2003. By 2003, Meg had written the fifth Mediator book, Haunted! And then in 2005, she wrote the 6th and – at the time – final book, Twilight. These books were a BIG part of my childhood. Again, they were some of my first YA books. They shaped me as a reader. There weren’t as many epic YA books back in the 2000s as there are now, so I read these over and over and over.

Honestly, at the time, I was more obsessed with the 1-800-Where-R-U books. But now that I’ve re-read all the Mediator books again, I’ve come to realize that The Mediator series is my absolute favorite Meg Cabot series – and possibly my favorite series ever. Re-reading them was like coming home after being away for a long time. I fell right back into the world Meg created. Suze is a kick-ass heroine. She’s fierce and she can kick ghost butt like nobody’s business! She doesn’t like sitting on the side-lines and she definitely doesn’t like being told to! She reminds me of Buffy, actually. Jesse was my first Book Boyfriend, before I even knew what a Book Boyfriend was! I mean, really… Every time he says “Querida,” I swoon! I also shipped Suze and Jesse before I knew what shipping was! And I’m 100% positive now that they’re my Ultimate OTP (again, something I didn’t know existed back then).

Becoming a blogger has afforded me a LOT of EPIC opportunities. I was able to attend Book Expo America (BEA) in NYC in 2015 and I GOT TO MEET MEG CABOT!!! I kid you not, I almost cried. I was SO NERVOUS to meet her! I gushed and fangirled and told her she’s amazing and my absolute favorite author and I probably sounded like such a dork, but, out of all my Bookish experiences, it was BY FAR the best thing to ever happen to me! In addition to signing her new book (at the time, it was Royal Wedding and was being featured at BEA), I also got her to sign Shadowland (The Mediator #1) and When Lighting Strikes (1-800-Where-R-U #1). Because those were the books that I grew up with, the ones that meant the world to me, the ones I read over and over and over again. I’m sure I walked away from that signing with the biggest, goofiest grin on my face and I don’t even care. Because it REALLY was the most amazing thing ever! It’s a moment I’ll NEVER forget!


When I discovered that Meg Cabot was writing Remembrance – an adult installment in the Mediator series – I pretty much screamed with joy! I mean, the sixth book (Twilight) came out in 2005! And now it’s 2016! That’s an 11-year gap between the last book and this new book! Eleven years without Suze and Jesse! And now we’re getting a NEW Mediator book!

Needless to say, I’ve ALREADY read it and LOVED LOVED LOVED. The only problem? Now I want MORE! I’m not satisfied with just ONE new book. I. Want. More! *GRABBY HANDS!!!!*

So basically, Meg Cabot is Queen. Oh, did I mention she follows me on Twitter? Yeah, I shrieked when I saw that! She’s Queen and she’s following me and I got to meet her and I’m crying, guys. I’m literally crying as I write this because I can’t contain my feels.

These books – and Meg as an author – will never stop being the most important thing to ever happen to me. I’m so grateful that I went into the used bookstore all those times and was able to get these books and have them in my life. I’ve never even bothered to replace the first four books from either series with newer editions because why would I? These are the copies I bought as a teen and these are the copies that are old and worn from multiple readings and have impressions from when I dog-eared books (Yes, I know, a terrible habit that I broke years ago!). These copies are lovingly used and will always be considered some of my most prized possessions. I can’t imagine these editions are easy to come by now, so I’ll always treasure them and the experience of reading them – not to mention the way they made me feel, when I was a young reader with no one but my mom to discuss them with. These books, as some of my first YA books, made me feel less alone.

I should note, also, that I’ve read MANY of Meg Cabot’s other books, as well. But these are the two series that mean the most to me and will always hold a special place in my heart. So they’re the books I wanted to focus on for this feature.


So, are you a Meg Cabot fan? Which of her books have you read? What did they mean to you? Do you still re-read them? Have you met Meg? Discuss in the comments!!


Meg CabotAbout Meg Cabot:
Meg Cabot is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for both adults and tweens/teens. There have been over 25 million copies of Meg’s nearly 80 published books sold in 38 countries. Her last name rhymes with habit, as in “her books can be habit forming.” She currently lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and various cats.

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Pinterst | Instagram | YouTube

Once Upon a Time: 2016 Backlist Feature Roundup

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Hey guys! As you may know, I recently launched my new feature, Once Upon a Time. If you didn’t get a chance to check out the intro post, you can read it here! To sum it up: Once Upon a Time is a backlist feature that not only helps me showcase some really amazing authors and their backlist titles, but also allows me to share with you some of the books that I read when I was younger and that are still favorites now. These are the books that shaped me as a reader and made me feel less alone as a teen.

Today, I want to take a moment to highlight some other epic backlist features happening this year – because it seems that 2016 is the Year of the Backlist Love! Which makes me REALLY happy! Below, you’ll have links to all the backlist features I’m aware of, the blogger/bloggers hosting and a small paragraph, describing what the feature is. Enjoy!


BulletPoint Forgotten Fridays is hosted by Kara and Lyn at Great Imaginations! Forgotten Fridays highlights books that are over a year old. Kara and Lyn pick a book, read it and then discuss it.
BulletPoint Book Avengers is hosted by Kristina from Gone Pecan and Sarah from What Sarah Read. Their tagline? “A Mission to Save Your Backlist.” Sounds epic right?!? The way it works: Kristina and Sarah read one backlist book per month and each post a review for that book on the third Monday of each month.
BulletPoint The Backlist Books Reading Challenge is hosted by Bekka and Alexia at Pretty Deadly Reviews. This is a reading challenge that encourages you to read backlist books that were published at least a year ago. In addition to reading these books, the challenge encourages you to review the books you read. You can then enter to win giveaways!
BulletPoint On My Shelf is hosted by Teresa at Readers Live a Thousand Lives. With this feature, Teresa picks a random backlist title that’s on her TBR and highlights it, explaining why she wants to read it and asking others if they’ve read it, etc. The goal is to help her decide which books need to be bumped up her TBR while potentially introducing these backlist titles to new readers.
BulletPoint Flashback Reading is hosted by Julie and Lanna at Bloggers Heart Books. Not only does this feature highlight backlist books, but each post also includes a fun author interview and/or guest post from the author of the highlighted title! The feature focuses mainly on pre-2015 releases.
BulletPoint Rummaging Through the Archives is hosted by Kristen at The Blissful Bookworm. With this backlist feature, Kristen reads and reviews backlist titles!
BulletPointReading Rewind is hosted by Stacee at Adventures of a Book Junkie and Katie at Shelfishly Addicted. With the Reading Rewind, Stacee and Katie will each pick one “old favorite” book per month (sometimes the same book, sometimes not) that they loved when they originally read it. They’ll re-read that book and answer some questions regarding when they first read it and how they feel about it now.


So there you have it! There are SO MANY AMAZING backlist features this year! I hope you found this roundup helpful! I don’t know if your wallets will agree…

Bloggers! If I featured you above, please let me know if any of your info is incorrect or if I did a horrible job explaining your feature and you want it re-worded!!

ALSO… If you’re a blogger and you’re hosting some kind of backlist feature and wish to be added to the above roundup, please leave a link to your feature in the comments!

Once Upon a Time: An Introduction

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Hey, guys! I’m BEYOND excited to FINALLY be introducing my new feature to you! I’ve been teasing this “super secret new feature” since November – and I meant to introduce it at the beginning of January. But things got hectic, so here we are!

Essentially, Once Upon a Time is a backlist feature. But more than that, it’s a way for me to discuss the ways in which I first started reading certain authors and books and to introduce those authors/books to new readers. For example, Meg Cabot is well known for her Princess Diaries series. But I first discovered her books when I was roughly 15, when I found Shadowland (The Mediator series, book one) in a used bookstore I frequented – But more on that another day (in the not-so-distant future, actually… *Cryptic comment is cryptic*).

Through this feature, I’ll not only be able to bring light to lesser-known books by well-known authors – as well as lesser-known books and lesser-known authors in general – but I’ll also be able to chat with you guys about what I like to read and how my reading has evolved over the years (hint: it actually hasn’t changed that much…). There were certain books/authors that I read when I was younger that still resonate with me. They’re still, to this day, some of my favorites. If I had more time to re-read, they’re the books that I would be re-reading. They’re comforting and familiar. Reading them is like going home after being away for a very long time.

So, every month, I’ll be featuring a new author. Sometimes, I’ll be focusing on the author in general and sometimes I’ll be focusing on a particular book or series they wrote. I’ll discuss with you, to the best of my memory, how I first discovered that author and why I love their book(s) – why that author or those books effected me and became so near and dear to me. My hope is that I can introduce readers to what I consider beloved books by amazing authors who deserve more attention and more love.

In between featuring epic authors and book, I’ll also be throwing in some other fun things, like a Then and Now feature (more on that later!), a bookshelf tour, a listing of all the current 2016 Backlist Challenges and Features (because there are a LOT of awesome bloggers hosting Backlist things this year!) and giveaways!

To be clear, this isn’t a reading challenge (unless you want to make it one). I’d love to be able to re-read all the books I feature, but time constraints make that impossible. Where I’m able to re-read, I will. And I encourage you to read or re-read with me, but it’s not required.

I also encourage you to post your own “Once Upon a Time” stories! Feel free to use the image posted above (please just credit me and link back to my blog). This is a great way for us to get to know each other and the stories behind our beloved authors and books – basically, why we love books and why we chose to become dedicated readers, bloggers, book pushers, etc.

So.. There you have it! I’m not the best at “introductions,” so I hope this all made sense! I’ll be posting the first featured author very soon and, hopefully, seeing this feature in action will make things more clear! I hope you guys enjoy “Once Upon a Time” – and I hope your TBR’s enjoy it, too!