Summer Update

Well, it’s been a nice two weeks, but my summer break is officially over. Classes start up again today. Shed a tear with me.

I have plenty of things going on this summer, but here’s the update on all things writing and career related!

  • I am interning at Cincinnati Book Publishers this summer. My official title is Marketing Intern, but I’m doing a little bit of everything, as interns tend to do. It’s a small subsidized press, so I am primarily working on promotions for our authors and marketing and branding for the company as a whole. Most importantly, I’m leading the launch of a new blog run by Cincy Books, so hopefully I will be able to share some of that content here, because I’m very excited about it!


  • I am a Literary Blogging Intern at McWood Publishing, also located in good ol’ Cincinnati. I am one of many young writers there reading and reviewing self published books, which get posted on the company blog. I have to admit, this has been slow going so far, but I hope to get plenty more reviews done once my schedule works itself out.


  • I’m still taking classes, obviously! I’m taking a few credit hours of gen-eds online this summer, to help get rid of those nasty things.


  • I’m trying very hard (and largely failing) to keep blogging and writing. I need to chill out with something, but this certainly isn’t the area to do it. Bear with me and stay tuned, things will happen. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.


XX. Shelby Jo

May Book Review

I survived my first year of college! Woo woo! Obviously, I did a terrible job posting last quarter, but I’m hoping to get things back on track this summer (which I know I’ve said a million times already), so stay tuned!

#1) The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – Although the actual conclusion of the series wasn’t quite everything I hoped it would be, this book was amazing. It maintained all of the character development from the previous books and GAVE ME SO MANY FEELINGS.

#2) Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – Even though I enjoyed it, it took me forever to get through this book. I will forever love (and be in awe of) The Lies of Locke Lamora, but this was probably the last Gentleman Bastards book I will read. I just really dislike Lynch’s plot arcs.

#3) Burning Suns Book 1: Conflagration by Lisa Wylie – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#4) Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle – I adored this book! It has a fantastic and relevant concept, with an interesting perspective and engaging narrative voice. I enjoy it as a stand alone, but I liked it enough that I may continue with the series.

Have a great week!

XX. Shelby Jo


April Book Review

Hey, hey, hey, I’m back! Life has been insane lately, as it tends to be, so I’m doing my best to keep up my schedule, but I’m also not stressing when I can’t.

#1). Riders by Veronica Rossi – I really enjoyed this book, in the category of somewhat mindless YA. I think I may have burnt myself out on the genre, because none of it has been entertaining me, recently. BUT you can read my full review of the book here!

#2). Dracula by Bram Stoker – People have been recommending Dracula to me for a very long time, and I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. It’s so, so good. I also found that it was so interesting to read all these years later, now that the story is popularized and widely known. It was cool to think about the what the book may have been when the story was revolutionary, because the development was fascinating and the conclusion (though somewhat abrupt) was intense.

#3). The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane – Though in general, I thought it was boring, The Red Badge of Courage had beautiful prose, and the characterization and psychology were really interesting.

I also reread The Raven Cycle in April, and i finalllyyyy got my hands on a copy of The Raven King yesterday, and it has already broken my heart like eight times. Stay tunes for a review of that this Friday!

XX. Shelby Jo

Review: Riders

Now that I am more connected with the book community online, I’ve actually been reading up to date and popular books as they come out. It’s such a strange phenomenon.

Riders by Veronica Rossi is a young adult novel, the first of a duology, that received plenty of hype up to and following its release this February. I read it. Now I’m going to tell you about it.

Context: I was really concerned about this book. I was raised in Riders 2a military family and am an equestrian, and am therefore generally really snobbish and picky about both of those elements in books. Also, I’ve been disappointed by several new releases in the young adult target genre recently, so I went into this story mentally braced for impact.

Positive: Both the narrative and voice of Riders were highly enjoyable. The plot structure was interesting, and served well to keep me engaged, despite the somewhat bizarre concept. Certainly it wasn’t the strangest thing I’ve read, but it was  abrupt and did take some getting used to. The dialogue was enjoyable, and overall the book was well paced and gripping. There was little attempt at realistic horsemanship (phew), which helped integrate the equine elements smoothly into the story. However, Rossi did manage to describe the bond between horse and rider so well, it made my heart ache with the truth of it. The military half was thorough, accurate, and respectful – more of a plot tool than a character element, but could continue to grow in the sequel.

Negative: Consider me jaded, but I am so sick of novels – especially in the young adult realm – beginning with the appearance of a mysterious and attractive individual. Maybe you could argue that Riders didn’t begin with Daryn’s appearance, but I feel that the forward moving plot really did. Which, to me, makes the romance aspect of the story seemed contrived and ridiculous. I’m tired of teenagers falling in love with other teenagers they don’t know. I’m tired of “instinct” driving their every action. Which leads me to the fact that the characters in Riders, besides Gideon’sall seemed very generalized. It was almost as if they were concepts of characters, rather than multi-dimensional, concrete characters. It’s possible that this was an intentional choice on Rossi’s part, as the characters- and their corresponding horsemen of the apocalypse – do represent concepts, but it prevented me from caring about them or their quest.

Summary: If you’re a fan of young adult fantasy/adventure, I guarantee you will enjoy this book. I had a great experience reading Riders. But, it was trapped in the unfortunate cycle of falling short of its own potential. In a way, it seemed incomplete. Like perhaps another editing pass could have added the depth of character and thematic material that the book – and the young adult “genre” as a whole – are currently missing.

XX. Shelby Jo

P.S. This is going to be my last categorized review. I enjoyed the process of my  Batman vs. Superman review immensely, and it’s time I stepped it up.

Six Months

It’s been six months since I returned to blogging! Well, six months as of April 8, but why not prolong the celebration?

So much has happened in my life in the past six months, and even tiniest growth seems like it’s been an enormous change. And there’s been plenty of enormous changes, too.

I decided to wax sentimental this week and post a quick photo gallery of some of the highlights of keeping up Thoughts of a Word Nerd over the past six months.

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And I wrote more than I ever have before. Thanks for being a part of it.

And for bearing with this weird post. We’ll be back next week with your regularly scheduled programming.

XX. Shelby Jo

March Book Review

I thought I would read a bunch of books this month, because of spring break, but I just hit the usual number. Grrr.

#1). Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – I have wanted to watch this movie forever because it looked so gorgeous, but I was afraid that it would be amazing and I would regret not reading the book first. So I read the book. And it was honestly underwhelming. It was well written, but the voice was so detached and the narrative was so straightforward, that I had a hard time getting attached to either the characters or the story.

#2). Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – I’ve been obsessed with Vonnegut since I read “Harrison Bergeron” in ninth grade. I adore his prose, because it cuts so deeply, but that wasn’t enough to save this book for me. I thought it was confusing, and I couldn’t work out a singular intention. Interesting, but confusing.

#3). Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – The concept of this book is definitely original, and I think it has potential as a series. That being said, I thought the characters and plot in the individual book were cliche and boring.

Pass 2

#4). Passenger by Alexandra Bracken – THE HYPE FOR THIS BOOK HAS BEEN INSANE! So I threw my pretentious loose principles (of not reading/doing popular things) to the wind and picked it up. I enjoyed it, but I was mislead, and was pulled out of the narrative by the fact that it was not actually about time-travelling pirates (I need that to be a thing, now, though) and was not a stand alone novel. The moral of the story is that I need to do more research.

I’m already well in to my TBR for April, which mostly involves continuing/finishing series and reading something else by Alexandra Bracken to make up for The Passenger Incident 2k16. AND THE RAVEN KING. AHH. SO PUMPED.

XX. Shelby Jo

Word Count is back, baby!

Weekly Goal: 3,000

Weekly Count: 780

Total Count: 13,772

P.S. So much is happening this month!! The Force Awakens finally comes out on DVD, Game of Thrones Season 6 airs, and The Raven King is released!! Also my birthday. JS.

Friday Favorites 4/1/16

Happy April Fools Day, punks! I hope your friends pulled some hideous prank on you and that you didn’t have to read many obviously fake Facebook posts! (That last bit is a lot to ask, but I’m going for it.)

#1). This week is a little bit of fan art for The Raven Cycle, because it is April and the The Raven King  comes out in T-MINUS 25 DAYS, so I can’t possibly get through a Friday Favorites without mentioning it. This piece is by Mansi from CherryandSisters on Tumblr. I saw a Percy Jackson post he did a while ago, but now I am officially obsessed with him. His work is amazing!!


#2) Is partially shameless self promotion, but also partially the fact that I am really glad it’s Spring. So look! Book photography! Like that isn’t already all over Tumblr!

Spring (pass)

#3). MORE BOOK PHOTOGRAPY. But this time by someone with actual skills and talent and all that stuff. I adored this Tolkien-themed post by The Bookish Misfit on Tumblr!


Thanks for enduring the book overload, and have a great weekend!

XX. Shelby Jo

Remember that Time?

Today I decided to share a brief personal essay – “Remember that Time?” It isn’t particularly deep or meaningful, just an (hopefully) entertaining story about unexpected happiness.



In the grand scheme of things, an hour and a half is not a long time. A mantra that probably, strung end on end, over and over, actually made the bi-weekly trip to my co-op longer, rather than its intended effect. In the grandest scheme of things, I would tell myself, my existence is a dust speck in a limitless galaxy. An hour and a half is not a long time.

But the time drug on, nevertheless. Every Tuesday and Thursday my feet thudded onto the floor at five-thirty, and thudded onto the accelerator precisely an hour later. The trip into the city, with the sun at my back and the day ahead, was manageable. It was the return trip that seemed to chip years off my life, no matter how grand a scheme I considered. By the end of the day, all I wanted was to get home, and all that stood in my way was that pesky hour and a half.

I mentally ticked off an extensive list of landmarks as home grew closer. There is a particular intersection that marked the end of my mind numbing highway driving, and the start of the country roads I knew so well. The start of anticipation, and the gradual flooding back of those precious years.

No matter how tired I am, that intersection means I am halfway home and safely back on familiar ground. Once I pass through its glorious threshold – McDonald’s on one side and Wendy’s on the other – I can finally relax. On good days, I stretch my muscles and turn the radio up. On harder days, I rest my forehead on the wheel while the light lapses red. On the strangest day of them all, I combined the two. Arching my neck forward and pursing my lips like a malcontent tortoise, I rested my chin on the steering wheel. I slowly stretched my neck, looking first at my sleeping passenger and then at the chipper face of Wendy. I turned to the other side and saw a kindred reptile.

I overlooked her at first, the girl stretching her neck up from the driver’s seat to smell the air freshener dangling from her rear view mirror. But in the next second, I dropped the tortoise and became the hare, my head snapping back to her as our eyes met. She froze. I froze. Her sniffing face furrowed. My tight lips quivered. Another second passed. We burst out laughing.

My brother jumped awake at my sudden laughter and asked me what was so funny, but my response was drowned out as I continued to laugh. I put one hand on my stomach, already in stitches, and slapped the other frantically against my window. On the other side, the girl’s passenger looked back and forth between the two of us. The girl flailed about with gestures like mine, unable to explain why this stranger had her giggling in fits.

We laughed until tears streamed down my cheeks and the girl’s passenger finally understood. She gave me a thumbs up and shook her head with a smile. The light turned green, and I waved goodbye to this strange new friend, still laughing.

Miles down the road, I finally got my giggles under control and explained the meeting to my brother. Naturally, I started laughing again, but this time he was laughed with me, and the intersection went from a meager mile marker to a glorious do-you-remember-that-time monument. All of a sudden, thanks to a moment of shared weirdness through eye contact, I realized that my trip was not so bad. How could it be, if it allowed to me experience moments like that one? Sure, an hour and a half is not a very long time, but moments can last forever.

XX. Shelby Jo

Review: Batman vs. Superman

posterYES THIS MOVIE IS FINALLY REAL. Prepare for fangirling, as I am attempting to do more of a full review for once, because my opinions don’t separate into categories as neatly as they sometimes do.

This is mildly spoiler free. I won’t reveal any major plot points, but I am going to talk about particular events and characters, as well as the look and feel of the film. So if you want to go into the movie blind…why did you open a review?frank miller

From the announcement of the movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice promised to be heavily influenced by comics, and when the first teaser was released, fans everywhere raved about how much the batsuit looked like the batsuit from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns three part comic series. That proved to be true, as the Miller’s series clearly played a weighty role in costuming, cinematography, and dialogue.

This is a comic-lover’s review. I’m no connoisseur of either film or comics, but I have to admit that it wasn’t a great movie. As a film it fell short in dialogue and character development and, really, plot. I can see how the movie would be pretty boring if you weren’t a geeking comic book fan; the dialogue did very little besides move the plot forward, and that plot was incredibly straightforward. The little bit of intrigue provided was shelved for later developments in the franchise.

But it was a comic fan’s dream. (Now is probably the best time to admit I know next to nothing about Superman – I haven’t even seen Man of Steel. But, as regular readers know, I can talk about Batman all day long.) The cinematography beautifully mirrored epic comic book angles. There was a 360 shot of Batman on the side of a building with his cape snapping out that made me squeal. The same goes for Bruce busting through a window with his cape spread out like the bat-symbol, in a shot that reminded me very much of Batman: The Animated Series.

A major concern of mine going into the movie was Lex Luthor. When Jesse Eisenberg was cast in the role, I was confused but hopeful: Eisenberg is talented and multi-faceted, but isn’t he young to be playing Luthor? And then the trailer came out and all of that hope fizzled out. Who was this dorky, psycho kid? Sure, the lines all sounded like they came straight from the bald, suit-wearing Luthor we all know so well, but the delivery just felt wrong.

It turns out that Eisenberg is playing Lex Luthor, but not the one we all know and (fewer of us) love. The character is his son. This brought a sigh of relief from me, because I didn’t have to worry about the ruination of an established character, but I’m still disappointed. I think Luthor as a charismatic and powerful political figure is really interesting, and adds another level of depth and interest to plot. The lack of complexity in Batman vs. Superman really showed through, and, obviously, a more interesting villain would have aided that. Also, I’m relatively tired of the tortured-genius-antagonist.

In terms of character development, I loved the movie’s opening scene. That first glimpse of Bruce Wayne-as-a-decent-human-being, before we have to see a hungry-for-justice-Batman (KILLING PEOPLE), is so necessary in opening up the character and creating someone both new and veteran audiences’ can appreciate. When Bruce commented, “We’re criminals, Alfred. We’ve always been criminals.” – a line straight from The Dark Knight Returns – I did another internal happy dance. That line alone makes way for plenty of possibilities for both Batman and Bruce Wayne that are rarely explored, even in comic story lines. All in all, I think Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has so much potential for character development. We just didn’t see it in this film.

_1449632347There is little to say about the other heroes in the film, Superman was Superman, but the film focused very little on him, in my opinion. (Though the truth is, I tend to have eyes for only Batman.) Wonder Woman was, as the kids say these days, on fleek. There are so many different versions of Diana in comics and television, that as long as her strength and abilities are on par with the other members of the Justice League (as she is one of their strongest, and certainly the most consistent), no one can really complain.

I enjoyed the movie, but I recommend it with disclaimers. It isn’t the breakthrough film I was hoping would jump start DC’s new cinematic universe, and DC still has a long way to go to in terms of live action movies, but it was a strong start.

XX. Shelby Jo

P.S. THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL AND FORESHADOWING FOR A JASON TODD.jay I’m really conflicted, because in the Frank Miller alternate universe, Jason never came back to life. But, the ending of Batman vs. Superman allows for him to return. I want to see him in a live action adaptation so, so badly, but I’m terrified of everything that could go wrong. (Like him being the Joker like everyone is speculating right now. That would completely eliminate Jason’s purpose in the Batman narrative. *QUE RANT*)


Posting is back on, baby! I am once again pretending that I have my life together.

This week I have another poem for you. Enjoy!

Everyone writes poems about cigarettes.
About smoke, about crushed leaves, about the burn of whiskey in your throat.
About your lips.

Everyone writes poems with a neon glow,
But it’s a dying light.
And they know,
It won’t last long.
It’s a dying light, a dying song.

Because there’s nothing new under the sun,
So we wait for night to fall.
For the ex to call,
For it to all go to hell.

These liquor soaked memories
Will never be my happy golden days or glory years.
Those go back to a brighter light
Glinting off the lake.

To Pi and Gus Gus.
Just us
And the dogs and the wind
And nowhere to go but up.

Tangled curls and tanned backs,
Fists up and feet pounding
Out the melody to dreams we would never see.

Fears flood in
On the heels of these long lost kingdoms.
These days we’re only champions of debt and data plans,
And we only pirate online video.

We were creatures of life.
And now I’m a creature of the night.
And I write these damn poems, too.

XX. Shelby Jo