Writing Update #13

I actually wrote this past month!

I know, I’m shocked too.

img_8221For most of the month I had the urge and desire to write but anytime I sat down to actually do it, nothing happened. I kept feeling inspired and ready, but then I’d do anything but writing.

Then I heard a song on the radio.

Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish and I just knew that was my MC, McKenna’s song. I listened to it on repeat a lot. I kind of view it as her inner thoughts, the things she doesn’t share with the world.

So then I sat down and finished reading through what I already received to familiarize myself with the world again.

img_8220Then I heard another song only a couple days later and it was as if I was hearing Connor speak…well sing.

If We Never Met by John K. Mainly the chorus of this song is what spoke to me, and it’s pretty upbeat for Connor but oh my god it captures him.

I’ve been trying and failing for years to find songs that remind me of my MCs and within a four or five day span, I find both.

I dove back into revisions and got stuck again. This chapter is proving very hard to work on and I think it’s because the chapter before it isn’t right. So that’s my plan for today – to go back and see if I can finally figure it all out.

Instead of wallowing about being stuck, I went back to a scene I’d been working on – a potentially alternate finale scene. Basically the same stuff happens in the scene that’s currently in my WIP, it just happens slightly different and the emotional weights are altered. I’ve really enjoyed working on it, and it definitely still needs some tweaking. Once I’m happy with it, I’ll read the two scenes side by side and pick the one I like better. It’ll also depend on revisions because the scenes have vastly different feels to them.

I’m hoping by the end of March I’m completely done with revisions and I can send off this WIP to a few CP’s for some feedback. Then hopefully I don’t have to completely rewrite my book. The next steps are stating to feel really real and tangible and that’s terrifying…and exciting.

I’m already looking forward to sitting back down with a cup of coffee and diving into my WIP today. I love that feeling.

 

Currently Reading & Watching #12

Uh, so, I binge read an entire book just now.

I chose to finish the book, before writing this blog post.

Probably should have paused the book, because now this post goes live in like 5 hours, and I’m really only just getting started.

At least it’s a shorter post.

I won’t go into too much detail about the book, since I’m going to mention it in a second and I’ll have a full review up next week, but I will say that I’ve already bought book 2. Thank goodness for ebooks. I totally should read something else that’s actually on my TBR, but I’m totally diving into book 2 later today…tomorrow?…when it’s daylight.


BOOKS:

Fated (The Will of Yggdrasil #1) – Sara C. Roethle

This is the one I just finished, and while it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. Obviously, since I binged it. I read so much anymore – not that I’m complaining – but often I find that I don’t enjoy the book or the act of reading.

Okay, that came out wrong.

I enjoy the books, but I have the critical part of my brain on – I have to if I’m going to review. They also tend to be very expansive books that you have to pay attention to. Then there are books like this one that I don’t need to necessarily pay attention because I can easily guess the plot and what might happen, so I can just turn my brain of and enjoy it and just the act of reading.

Is this making any sense?

If not, I can talk more about the book in the full review coming next week…or maybe in a separate post.


SHOWS:

Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)

Twitter made me do it. I’m enjoying it, a lot. There are moments where I find the whole cast annoying and overwhelming, and I don’t think I’d like any of them in real life. But the writing is pretty good, and it’s oddly relatable in a sense. I’m glad I started it, but I’m not happy that I’m already on season 4.

Grey’s Anatomy (Live TV)

I’m pissed at how they’re handling Karev’s storyline. Like actually angry. It just feels dirty and wrong and I’m pissed. It’s making the show unenjoyable. I’m still going to watch it, because I’m trash, but ugh. Also, DeLuca…just ugh all around.

Station 19 (Live TV)

Legit the only reason I’m watching this show each week, because they’ve decided to do this season…half of the season as constant joint episodes. Like every single episode is a crossover. Maybe not the whole cast, but enough people show up in each, from both shows, you kind of have to watch both to get the whole episode. On one hand it’s brilliant, on the other hand it’s freaking annoying as hell.

The Walking Dead (Live TV)

Negan is making some questionable choices and I’m not happy. I’m no longer a fan of Carol and Daryl needs a freaking hug…and maybe a beer.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (Live TV)

I started this last week on a whim and didn’t have anything else to watch besides YouTube videos. I’m a sucker for musical anything, so this is right up my alley. I love that it’s like a rom com, lighthearted, but has some more serious notes and emotional weight. I’m really enjoying this, and I can’t wait for the next episode.

Book Review: Lanterns in the Sky (The Starlight Chronicles #1)

lanterns in the skyTitle: Lanterns in the Sky (The Starlight Chronicles #1)

Author: P.S. Malcolm

Pub. Date: March 5, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ / DNF at 50%


Everything was normal for Lucy Maisfer until the day a star fell from the sky and knocked her out. Upon waking, she comes face-to-face with Jason Woods, who also happens to be the mysterious new guy in her best friend, Valarie’s, life.

Then the strange dreams begin, and she learns about the Starlight Princess— who must not under any circumstance be reawakened. Driven to uncover the meaning of it, she finds herself caught up in a strange twist of events that eventually lead to bigger danger than she ever anticipated. Before long, Lucy is forced to make a choice between saving the world, or saving her best friend; only to discover that Valarie cannot be saved… that she has an even darker secret, and that her supposed star-crossed romance with Jason might not be so destined after all…


This will be a spoiler free review, and I want to thank NetGalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The cover is what initially drew me to this book, and then I read the synopsis. I pretty much impulse requested it on NetGalley and got the approval email. My expectations weren’t high for this book, but based on the synopsis, I did have high hopes. It sounded really unique and something I’d like.

Ya’ll this book just didn’t work.

I tried to convince myself to finish it, but between the writing style, the messy plot full of plot holes, the world building and the one-dimensional characters I just can’t stay invested.

Right off the bat, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It was really bland and basic. Writing style isn’t a make it or break it thing for me, so I pushed through my dislike, since the concept of the book sounded really interesting and cool.

Then there’s the plot.

Things happen in this book.

Well, obviously. I don’t know where I was going with that sentence.

Things happen in this book, some of it makes sense, other things are just weird and there’s such a strange mix of fantasy elements that it all just gets confusing and lost. I also didn’t quite understand the magic system, or how there are magical princess, aliens and angels…like I said, lots of fantasy elements that don’t quite mesh together. So much happens, but also like nothing happens of any real consequence? It’s like all the emotional weights were gone?

And the worldbuilding. I get the feel the author was going for, but a fictionalized European country, nestled amongst Easter European countries, but heavily influenced by Britain and everyone has American sounding names…

It’s also very confusing.

I get that the author was trying to go for a quintessential European feel, kind of reminded me of Switzerland in the very basic way it was described, but overall, it just felt very generic, flat and was supposed to be pretty. Almost a magical backdrop. Like, if you were to look up Travel Destinations in Switzerland, hilly, mountainous, gorgeous, that’s the vibe I was getting, but wasn’t quite picturing based on the descriptions given.

Now the characters…I wasn’t a fan of Lucy, or Valarie. Chrissy is just a stereotypical mean girl on steroids…basically Regina George. Jason was…well, to be honest, I didn’t care. None of the characters sparked anything in me. They were one-dimensional and at no moment was I rooting for them. Every character seemed to exist to further Lucy and Valarie along, adding really noting substantial to the rest of the story. For having their worlds upended, and pasts revealed, and everything else that happens, Lucy doesn’t ever really react? She sort of just takes it in stride, and suddenly with no training or anything, can just do things. I get that there’s magic involved in this, and that explains why, but come on. No one is just going to be okay with being thrust into a ever raging war, not without first losing their shit.

Ultimately, to my disappointment, this book just didn’t do it for me. Overall, it was just kind of a mess and I don’t want to recommend this to anyone. It’s just not worth it.


UPDATE: I went and read some of the Goodreads reviews once I’d finished writing my own, and I honestly feel like I read a different book form the 5-star reviews. Between the 5 and 1- & 2-star reviews, it a huge difference in opinion. I don’t know what it is, but the 5 -star reviews almost feel fake – like, they’re too glowing…if that makes sense. They just read weird, or maybe it’s just me. I don’t recommend this book, but if you’re interested, I’ll leave the GR link – here – and you can check them out yourselves.

Book Review: Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1)

chain of goldTitle: Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Pub. Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…andso does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.


This will be a spoiler free review!

I’m going to start with, I can’t believe that I got to read this book early. I don’t know how I won a giveaway for this book, but I did.

img_8163It’s been a hot minute since I last read a Shadowhunter book, or anything set in this expansive world. I mean, it’s been since Lady Midnight…yeah, I haven’t finished that trilogy yet. It’s been even longer since The Infernal Devices (my favorite books in the whole Shadowhunter series) …since Will and Tessa.

I keep meaning/wanting to re-read them, but it still feels like it’s too soon. It’s only been like 7 years…but I start thinking about that scene at the end where Tessa rolls over in bed to tell Will something and he’s not there.

And, now I’m crying.

See, I’m not over it.

Will I ever be over it?

I don’t know.

It’s why I haven’t gone back and re-read that trilogy, even though I really should and really want to.

But Chain of Gold is fun because I get more Will and Tessa…married Will and Tessa and their children + friends! It’s like the best of both worlds! I get to visit some old friends, make new ones, without the sad ending. If you’re a fan of The Infernal Devices – like if they’re your favorite books in this world, then you’re going to love this book. Same feeling, same characters and the stakes are higher than ever. I really enjoyed this book and its characters. Matthew Fairchild might just be my favorite character. Though, with that being said, I really loved the whole band of Merry Thieves – Thomas, James, Christopher and Matthew. Thinking about it, they kind of gave me Marauder vibes, and honestly, I’m here for it. But before I jump into the characters, let me talk a bit about the book.

I was excited to go into Chain of Gold, but for the first quarter of the book or so, I was a bit unsure and a bit confused. Maybe it was because I’d been gone from this world for so long, or maybe it was just the massive info dumping and time jumping, but I found myself procrastinating when it came to picking up the book. Once I managed to start reading again, I was nearly instantly hooked and hated to put the book down for anything, but then I’d put the book down and the cycle would start all over again. It wasn’t until about the 50% mark that I became really invested and therefore really annoyed that I had to stop reading to do things like make dinner and eat dinner.

I blew through the second half of the book and I kind of regret doing that because now I’m stuck waiting for book 2 – Chain of Iron – and this one isn’t even properly out yet.

I guess I forgot how lengthy Shadowhunter book tend to be – even thought I look at the like 10 feet of shelf space they take up on a daily basis, but this book was long. A lot gets repeated in this book and I don’t quite get why. I understand that all of these various Shadowhunter series are meant to stand alone, but also build upon each other, but don’t require you to have read the previous series, but I don’t need to be told over and over and over and over by every other character the same sort of information. I lost count of how many times I was told about the Silent Brother’s and Iron Sisters and what they did. I don’t know how many times I was told about the stele’s and seraph blades.

I get that some of this is to inform new readers who might not have any of this background knowledge from multiple past series, but it still doesn’t explain why every other character explains it in their own way.

I’m just saying that it was repetitive and had me groaning with annoyance.

But honestly, I think that’s probably my biggest complaint – the length and repetitiveness. And due to its length, I do think that the second half of the book is strong and more interesting. Major things were starting to happen, and it wasn’t just a bunch of info dumping and setting up the world. Overall, like I said, I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a pretty good read. I definitely think that I’m more of a Victorian/Edwardian Shadowhunter world over the more modern/current day one. I always thought that the Infernal Devices were the better books, so it stands that I’d choose this new trilogy over the other books.

Granted, I haven’t actually finished The Dark Artifices yet, so maybe I should do that before I make any claims.


But let’s move onto the characters, because there are so many to get through.

Like, so many.

Maybe almost too many.

Between familiar faces, to new characters, it’s a full cast.

And apart from the main core set, it was hard to keep track of everyone, and who they were related to, and how they were related, and finally, who was dating/liked who. I needed a freaking map to just keep everyone straight.

Since there were so many characters, we’re just going to focus on the main ones – Will, Tessa, James, Lucie, Matthew, Christopher, Thomas, Cordelia, Alistair, Jesse, Grace, Anna and Charles – otherwise I’ll be here all night…hell, I might be here all night with just the core group.

Okay, let’s keep this brief.


Will and Tessa

It was so fun being back with Will and Tessa and seeing them older, as parents. I don’t remember everything about them from The Infernal Devices, but I do remember absolutely loving them. I loved how in love with each other they still were, and how they made Lucie and James uncomfortable, in only the way parents can. I just loved being back in this world with them.

*Art by Cassandra Jean


James and Lucie

Ugh, I loved them, but I wish there had been more one on one time between the two of them. I just wish there had been more about their sibling bond, thought I suppose there are two more books to get that from. James is fiercely loyal, and Lucie is a dreamer and wants to experience the world. For being Will and Tessa’s kids, that seems to fit pretty damn well. They’re also fiercely protective of each other and I love them. I also love how Lucie is writing a book and everyone she knows in real life is in it in some capacity.

*Art by Charlie Bowater


Matthew, Christopher and Thomas

The other three who make up the Merry Thieves. Like I said before, very Marauder-esque. Matthew is probably my favorite of the four boys, he’s suffering, and I think, in need of a hug. Christopher is brainy and likes to tinker around with things, to mash mundane science with angelic tools. Thomas is like the gentle giant, loyal to his friends without fail, but also open to seeing other sides of things. Together they all complement each other very well, and I just want all of them to be happy.

*Art by Charlie Bowater and Cassandra Jean


Cordelia and Alistair

Cordelia is a bad ass, and Alistair needs a hug as well. I really like the two of them, I liked Cordelia from the beginning, whereas Alistair took a long time to feel for. They’re both dealing with so much, individually, personally and as a family. I really liked their bond though, even when it seemed utterly stretched taught at times. You could tell that Cordelia loves her brother, despite his faults. I didn’t actually anticipate feeling anything for Alistair, but by the end of the book he was one of my favorite characters. We all make mistakes, and I think he’s one who will actually grow into a better person because of them.

*Art by Charlie Bowater


img_8137Jesse and Grace

I love Jesse, not a fan of Grace. Like, I could do without Grace to be honest. I know we can’t just get rid of her because plot things, but I can wish. When I figured out what she was doing, when that little plot thing clicked…Ooo, let me tell you, I got so mad. Then at the end of the book…I groaned and raged, because what happened was what I didn’t want to happen. Jesse seems so soft and sweet, while his sister is like the opposite. So, I’m hoping we get more of both of them, because I’m pretty sure they’re a pair, and I can’t pick and choose.

*Art by Charlie Bowater


img_8140Anna and Charles

Loved Anna, she’s awesome. I loved how observant she is, and how knowing. It’s like she knows what you want before you do, and that comes with a cocky knowing arrogance that I love in characters. Oh, Charles. I’m still kind of on the fence about him. Like I don’t know whether to write him off or wait to see. He’s made some mistakes, he’s a bit power hungry, but I think his heart is in kind of the right place. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, he just does things for the wrong reasons, or in a wrong way.

*Art by Charlie Bowater


It’ll be interesting to see where all these characters end up in the next two books. I’m really hoping that Alistair gets a few friends, that Matthew stops being so sad and drunk all the time, that Lucie gets the experiences she craves, that Cordelia’s heart doesn’t break, that James can come to terms with his ancestry, that Thomas and Christopher continue to tinker, fight and be there, that Jesse gets the ending he deserves as does Grace, and that Anna gets to have her heart’s desire, and that maybe Charles learns that power isn’t everything. I also hope that we don’t have to live through a certain character death again, at the end of this series. You hear me Will Herondale, I can only live though it once!

Also, if you haven’t seen, Charlie Bowater did character art for most of the characters I’ve mentioned, and as always, they’re gorgeous. I actually saved them all down to my phone, so as I was reading, I could go look at them, and remind myself of what the characters look like. With a huge cast of characters and so much happening in this book, the portraits of the characters she did, were so useful.

Seriously, so much happens in this book, and while the plot was full of so many scenes, my favorite parts were the character relationships. The bonds they share and form and all the interactions. Ugh, I want to say more, but I also do not want to spoil this book for anyone. So, if you want to talk about this book – whether you’ve read it early, or after its release, feel free to DM me over on Twitter and I’ll be more than happy to talk. As it stands, I have no one to talk to and there’s this certain scene I want to talk about, and I can’t.

It’s torture.

I’m so excited for Chain of Iron and this wait is going to suck.

So much.

I have no idea what to expect, or how this trilogy is going to turn out, but I have a feeling it’s not going to disappoint. I have my predictions, my hopes for who is going to be endgame, but really, I have no idea what could happen plot wise. I know the books are going to be chocked full of action moments, sweet moments, gushy moments and probably heart breaking moments, but everything else, I have no idea, and I’m ready and quite terrified to find out. I love these characters now, and don’t want any more harm to come to them.

I’m excited and you should be too!

Chain of Gold is out March 3, 2020 and

“The entire first print run in the US and UK will be a special first edition. It will contain a beautiful portrait of the main characters by Cassandra Jean, and will also include the long-awaited short story Fairy Tale of London, about Will and Tessa’s wedding! Preorder your copy from any of the links below to make sure you get the special first edition.”

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Indiebound / Books A Million / Simon & Schuster

So make sure you order your copy soon!

 

 

 

 

5 Characters That Could Really Use A Hug

They’re in just about every book. Those characters who have just been through so much and are suffering to the point of self-destruction, who would probably greatly benefit from a nice long comforting hug.

Sometimes a firm shake by the shoulders, or undivided attention is paired with that long hug, but they seriously need the hug, nevertheless. Lexi over on Twitter – go follow her! – gave me the idea for this post and I absolutely love it.

I was going to post my review for Chain of Gold, but I think I need to sit on my thoughts for a day, but there was a character in it, that I think falls under this category.

I should also warn you that, there are at least 2 Brigid Kemmerer Characters included in this small list, but I doubt that shocks you.


Okay, let’s start with Matthew Fairchild.

img_8142Who: Matthew Fairchild

Book: Chain of Gold

Author: Cassandra Clare

Would it be a Shadowhunter’s novel if at least one of the characters was a bit self-destructive and relied on some kind of vice to get through the day?

You might actually have to tell me if I’m right about that, because it’s been a hot moment since I’ve been in this world of Cassie Clare’s. For the better part of the second half of this book, I just wanted to wrap Matthew up in a hug. That poor boy is suffering, and it pains me. I wish I could just reach into the book and pull him out of it.

*Art by Charlie Bowater


img_8148Then let’s jump to Prince Rhen.

Who: Rhen

Book: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

If you’ve read A Heart So Fierce and Broken, then you know that poor Rhen is not okay and makes a few very Not Good choices. You’ll either continue loving him or will probably hate him. I don’t hate him. I disapprove of his choices – remember that shaking of the shoulders I mentioned earlier? – but it’s hard to hate him because the poor boy isn’t okay. He’s suffering and after I thoroughly shake some sense into him, he’s going to need a hug. You know, with everything that was going on with him, I doubt there was much truly comforting contact. Harper get on that.

*Art by Margherita Abitino


As Brigid is the Queen of making her poor characters suffer, we come to Rob.

call it what you wantWho: Rob

Book: Call It What You Want

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Now, I’m always a fan of Brigid’s cast of characters in her books, but poor Rob. That boy had it rough, on top of being in High School. I spent the entirety of that book just wanting to pull Rob into a nice, healing hug. A hug that said “I’m here for you” – okay, not going to lie, that sounded weird in my head as I typed it. I hope it sounds weird in yours too. Dealing with the aftermath of his father’s illegal schemes, Rob faces all the backlash, and the poor boy doesn’t deserve it. Please, Brigid, stop throwing your poor characters off cliffs. I beg, my heart can’t take it!

*I fully expect for my heart to be constantly ripped out of my chest with each new book.


img_8151Next we have Malachiasz.

Who: Malachiasz

Book: Wicked Saints

Author: Emily A. Duncan

Phew, oh boy. If any character on this list, really needs a hug, it’s this boy. I mean, what Emily puts him though…it’s not fair and you end up just wanting to shake him, hard, and then pull him into hug, where he’ll probably just stand there, stiff as a board. Malachaisz probably has it the roughest out of all of these characters, and how Wicked Saints ends, I’m pretty sure he’ll need a lifetime of hugs. I haven’t yet read Ruthless Gods, but I have a feeling he doesn’t get them in that book either.

* Art by BlackBird Art


img_8149And finally – this one’s a bit specific – Thomas Cresswell.

Who: Thomas Cresswell

Book: Escaping from Houdini

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Like I said, a bit specific. I would gladly volunteer to just hug Cresswell if he weren’t fictional…a shame. But with Audrey Rose’s horrible actions all throughout EFH, Thomas could have used a few hugs. This is probably my least favorite book in this series, just due to Audrey Rose’s actions, but poor Thomas. That boy needed hugs during that book, and Audrey was too busy with another guy to pay attention. I’m angry on a fictional character’s behalf…we’ve all be there, don’t lie.


Tell me what are some characters you think, who could really use a nice, long, comforting hug?

 

 

 

 

 

Want Some SF Recs?

There seems to be some discourse going on over on Twitter about YA SF and how it’s lacking. I’ve seen takes dissuading from trying to write and market it and I’ve seen takes urging writers to write it.

As some whose Book Baby is a YA SF story, some of these takes are quite disheartening, and on one hand, make me want to work on my book more than ever, but on the other, it’s hard not feeling disheartened. I want to go the traditional publishing route with this book – it’s kind of my dream, and to hear so many people in the industry issuing warnings…well, it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

I know publishing is cyclical, and I’m not writing my WIP to any possible trends – I’ve been working on this story for 10 or so years now. But publishing is cyclical and eventually SF will flood the shelves again, so if you’re like me, and love SF – make sure you’re writing your book!

But in the meantime, there are a lot of good SF books already out. Most are more dystopian – i.e. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc. – but there are a few that are more alien, space…more akin to Star Wars or Farscape.

So, I’ve done one of these posts before, I’ll link it – here – and now I’m going to give you 5 new SF recs that should be on your radar. Plus, there will be a bonus rec!

*These are in no particular order.


article 5Article 5 Series – Kristen Simmons

Article 5 / Breaking Point / Three

 Article 5 Synopsis:

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

If you were a fan of the OG’s, Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Uglies – or even just a dystopia fan in general, you’ll definitely enjoy this trilogy. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it, but I remember being so happy that I had the whole trilogy, because I inhaled it. I didn’t care about schoolwork (I was in college at the time) I put it off just so I could read. And if you saw me around campus…well, sitting in the English Department on campus, I had one of the three books in my hand.


unknownUnknown Trilogy – Wendy Higgins

Unknown / Unrest / Undone

Unknown Synopsis:

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed-everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

These are recent reads for me, and kind of reignited my need for SF. These aren’t YA, or at least they’re Upper YA, or New Adult. But they are so good, and kind of exactly what I needed to read. With so much fantasy out there – and it being the majority of what I read, these were like a breath of fresh air, and I fell back in love with SF and dystopian novels. So, if you’re a fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux Series, then you’ll want to check this trilogy out.


UnearthedUnearthed Duology – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Unearthed / Undying

Unearthed Synopsis:

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

I will read anything Amie and Meagan write – especially if it’s SF. Their Starbound Trilogy is one of my favorites, and this duology does not disappoint. Think, Lara Croft meets Indian Jones, but in space. Basically, these books were written for me. So, if you’re a fan of amazing SF, Amie and Meagan, then you’ll want to check this duology out.


glowSky Chasers – Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow / Spark / Flame

Glow Synopsis:

If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.

The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.

Now, it’s been basically forever since I read these books, but I do remember loving them – though not so much how the trilogy ended as a whole…maybe I shouldn’t be telling you that. This trilogy is pretty much everything I love in a SF, takes place in space, on a spaceship and drama. I wouldn’t be surprised if this trilogy, in some way, ignited my desire to write my own Space SF story. If you’re a fan of Stargate, or Farscape (which I really cannot recommend enough, seriously, watch it) then you’ll like this trilogy.


ugliesThe Uglies Series – Scott Westerfeld

Uglies / Pretties / SpecialsExtras

Uglies Synopsis:

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever…

Let’s talk about OG YA SF. Wow, acronyms galore. Anyways, Uglies was probably my first true introduction into the YA genre as we would consider it today. I remember a family friend had read it, and enjoyed it, but thought I’d like it more. She was right! Again, it’s been a few years since I’ve read this series, and now with the new books, it might be time to revisit the original three books (I don’t touch the fourth one). These books should just be on your radar, because they’re that good. Go read them! Maybe one day we’ll get the Netflix series these books deserve.


And finally Bonus Rec time!

Whereas I’ve read all the books I’ve listed above, I haven’t actually read this trilogy yet. So, this Bonus Rec, is for me as much as it’s for you. It’s been on my TBR an embarrassingly long time, and simply because I don’t have a hardcover of the first book. I KNOW such a dumb reason to not have read this trilogy.

partialsPartials Sequence – Dan Wells

Partials / Fragments / Ruins

Partials Synopsis:

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one’s own point of view.


Let me know what your favorite YA SF books are – I always need and want more in my life. I’m inundated with fantasy and I want more SF in my life.

DNF Book Review: Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1)

Wicked as you wisTitle: Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1)

Author: Rin Chupeco

Pub. Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: DNF @ Page 28


Tala Warnock has little use for magic – as a descendant of Maria Makiling, the legendary Filipina heroine, she negates spells, often by accident. But her family’s old ties to the country of Avalon (frozen, bespelled, and unreachable for almost 12 years) soon finds them guarding its last prince from those who would use his kingdom’s magic for insidious ends.

And with the rise of dangerous spelltech in the Royal States of America; the appearance of the firebird, Avalon’s deadliest weapon, at her doorstep; and the re-emergence of the Snow Queen, powerful but long thought dead, who wants nothing more than to take the firebird’s magic for her own – Tala’s life is about to get even more complicated….


This will be a rant-y, possibly spoiler-y review, but I only got to page 28, so…

I wanted to like this book.

Prior to receiving it in the December FairyLoot Box, this book wasn’t on my radar as something I wanted to read. I figured that having received an ARC, I should at least attempt to read it. Based on the synopsis, it sounded like something I could possibly and would probably enjoy.

So, I went into the book with an open mind and by page 5 I was confused. Honestly, that’s not a good sign. I took a breath and tried to focus, but that proved a bit hard the further I got into the story…which albeit, wasn’t very far.

The world is chaos and without a map (is there even going to be one in the finished copy?) I couldn’t make heads or tails of how it was laid out. I’m a pretty visual person, and I always love a map when it comes to fantasy worlds.

But it was more than just being unable to picture the world, but take every fantasy story, every mythology, lore, and history fact you know, and throw them all in a book and you’d have this. Then add a whole heaping of modern-day world problems and concerns and politics.

It was just kind of a mess, and I felt so loss amongst everything going on in the beginning of this book.

Now, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I absolutely hate it, and it’s almost always an automatic turn off, when a book includes thinly veiled, media hyped political rants that do nothing but bash the US. I read fantasy books to escape.

I’m in NO WAY saying that fantasy books shouldn’t include real world elements, whether it be political, social issues, etc. They should, because it rounds them out and makes them better. But if you’re just going to rant for rant’s sake because you’re pissed at some media hyped and exploited, parroted political rant, I’m almost never going to finish your book.

Usually, when books do this, or any variation, I can just roll my eyes and continue reading. I can usually just ignore whatever part and enjoy the book. That is always my goal when I go into ‘new to me’ reads. Maybe there is a purpose to the rant, and I just didn’t get to it. If that’s the case, it’s a shame that I have no desire to find out what happens next. I like escapism when it comes to fantasy, and that rant just hit a bit hard and a bit real, and I decided I couldn’t continue. I’m sure we all have one or two things that we adamantly don’t like when it comes to reading.

I know I won’t be picking up this book again and I’m not going to recommend it. I can’t.

I also can’t recommend it, because I haven’t finished it and now, I’m not going to. I wanted to like this book, because it really does sound like something I could get behind and love. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. If you read this, I hope you really enjoy it.

On top of that, I only got 28 pages into this book, I didn’t care for the characters, they felt very one dimensional and flat and I could not get behind the writing style.

I know there’s always going to be the argument of when it’s appropriate to show versus tell, and the opposite, but if you’re going to spend time telling me everything, you’d better make sure I understand what’s going on.

And guess what?

28 pages, and I still didn’t understand the world, the connections, the politics, any of it really. And yes, that could be because I didn’t read far enough into the book, that’s fair, but now we’ll never know. I kind of feel bad for maybe not giving this book the time it needs to capture my interest, but honestly, my interest is gone. There was a lot of info dumping, which didn’t help my confusion and didn’t clarify anything. I also want to state that I was already struggling to stay interested in this book, due to my lack of connection with the characters and issues with the writing style, but I was forcing myself to continue to read it, to give it a chance. I don’t like DNFing books, because I want to like every book I pick up. I want it to be my new favorite thing that I can yell about and convince everyone to read. This, unfortunately, just wasn’t the book for me, and that’s okay.

I don’t really know what else to say…I only read 28 pages of this book before I stopped. I can’t speak for whatever happens in the rest of this book I’m not going to recommend this book, because I don’t feel like I can, but I do urge you to form your own opinions. If you have any interest in this title at all, check it out! Read it! Potentially fall in love with it! This book wasn’t for me, but maybe it’s for you. I’m definitely going to be giving this author’s other works a go, and I’ve just been urged to read The Bone Witch, so that’s been moved up my TBR. Hopefully I haven’t put you off this book, and I hope you enjoy it if you do/have read it!

 

 

 

 

Unhauling Books!

It’s a thing all us book hoarders…I mean lovers have to do from time to time.

Image result for too many books gif

We run out of shelf space, realize that we just don’t want whatever book anymore, or have too many copies, and who needs 10 copies of the same book?

That last example, I don’t know her.

I don’t hoard…I mean collect multiple copies of the same book…nope. Not me.

*hides*

I’ve been meaning to this post for a while now, and for whatever reason I kept putting it off and never getting around to doing it. Well, now since I lost track of time, and was feeling good about being ahead on posts, I’m scrambling, and it feels as good a time as any to do this post.

img_8087I don’t actually have that much I’m currently trying to unhaul. It’s shocking and amazing.

They only fill one storage bin…that I can’t currently close. It’s like one book too full.

Okay, so maybe I do have a bunch, but compared to what I had before (the bin, and three boxes worth, one bin is nothing.

I actually just recently took a bunch of the books that I’ve been struggling to sell for years now and boxed them up for donation. I really just want them out of my house, and if someone else can use them, then I’m happy with that. They’re being picked up on Thursday, along with a bunch of other items. I can’t wait for them to be out of my house.

img_8088But, as all you book hoarders – sorry, book collectors know, books are expensive and recouping even a few dollars is preferable…and why not try and make a few bucks.

My room is just about overflowing with books – I spent like 2 hours rearranging some of my shelves last night. It’s weird when I look at my shelves now, because some of them look more crowded, but then I remind myself, that all my books are just more evenly spaced out now, and everything isn’t just haphazardly piled on one shelf.

Though, it might be time to unhaul again.

But I feel like I’ve reached this point of, all the books on my shelves are ones I want to keep, have plans on reading. There aren’t many, if any, that I actually want to get rid of.

I think that I really just want to box some of them away for when I have my own house, with a dedicated library room. I just don’t want some of these books on my shelves right now, but I don’t want to get rid of them. But right now, I’m just stuck with them on my shelf.

There’s also the dread of even trying to sell them, because in my experience, unless you have big names, special editions or are just really lucky, it’s so damn hard to sell books.

Anyways, I have a bad habit of digressing.

I do want to add that, I’m not posting these books in a direct attempt to sell them. I really just ran out of ideas, it’s been a day, and I thought, why not, this wouldn’t be a hard post to quickly put together. I also do monthly Haul posts, so I figured it was time to finally do the reverse, so here it is! I’d love to be able to sell these, but I bet I ultimately end up donating them in a few months.

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But if you do see something you want, feel free to message me, or email me at writingtheuniverseblog@gmail.com, or even DM me over on Twitter. If I can get these books into the hands of people who want them, that’s definitely preferable!

 

Book Review: Mageborn (The Hollow King #1)

magebornTitle: Mageborn (The Hollow King #1)

Author: Jessica Thorne

Pub. Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


A dark and addictive fantasy read for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas. The life of an orphan soldier becomes entwined with that of the mysterious heir to the throne, whose very presence draws out the secret magic living inside her: a magic that breaks every law she is duty-bound to uphold…

The room is small and dark. Row upon row of jars line the shelves, each one sealed with blood-red wax. The seal’s mark is a twisted circle of briar with gleaming, gold-tipped thorns. And in each jar a flicker of forbidden magic dances… beautiful, but deadly.

Sold to the Crown in the aftermath of the Last Great War, Grace Marchant has never known her parents. Now, she trains as an elite soldier tracking down mageborn – those born with an ancient and long-outlawed magic – and destroying them if they don’t surrender their power to the Crown.

The mageborn who submit are collared, then handed over to the King’s cousin and heir: the elusive Bastien Larelwynn, Lord of Thorns, locked away in his shadowy workshop deep inside the castle. What becomes of them is hard to say – the Lord of Thorns keeps his secrets close.

Grace has always fought the voice inside her that questions whether the law is truly just – but when her closest friend is next on Bastien’s list, Grace’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Confronting Bastien – searching his strangely compelling obsidian-black eyes for answers – Grace is shocked to feel herself begin to change, to show the first signs of the wild magic she so fears.

Only the Lord of Thorns has the power to save her and the rest of the mageborn – if he doesn’t destroy them all first…


This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to review, and thanks for bringing it to my attention! Otherwise I might have missed it completely.

Have you ever just picked up a book, and almost immediately know you’re going to absolutely love it, and be absolute trash for it?

Yes?

Then you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about.

Because I am. Completely.

I was pretty much sold on this book, from this line alone:

 

“A dark and addictive fantasy read for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas.”

 

But, honestly, I think a better comparison is to Elise Kova’s Air Awakens Series. I got major Vhalla and Aldrik vibes from Grace and Bastien.

Ugh, Grace and Bastien.

I love them.

Basically, if you’re a fan of Aelin + Rowan, Vhalla + Aldrik and Lou + Reid, you’ll really love Grace and Bastien. They all share very similar dynamics, but definitely the most comparable is Vhalla and Aldrik. Which, I’m totally okay with, because those books are some of my favorite fantasy books.

Anyways…god, I always digress in reviews. Back to Mageborn, the book you’re actually here to read about.

This was such a good, upper YA, borderline NA fantasy read. It should be on everyone’s radar.

I mean, the cover alone should make you want to buy it, because look at it – it’s stunning!


Y’all, my brain just went blank and all I can think about is how much I loved this book and how much I want to just scream at you all to read it. Reasons why I loved it – legit just flew out of my head in favor of taking a copy of this book and shoving it into your faces to read.

Image result for read the book gif

I think this stems from the fact that no one I know has read this book, so I have no one to talk to about it. It’s a problem.

Okay, let me see if I can form a cohesive thought that actually makes sense and will convince you to buy this book.


I’ll start with a selling point.

Bastien.

Jfc. I love him.

If you like big dark, moody royals, who are all tough guy on the outside, but legit a gooey puddle internally, you’ll love him.

If you like dark, moody royals, who are all tough guy to everyone else, paired with spitfire, take no shit, fierce heroine, who doesn’t put up with anything, you’ll love him.

You’ll also love Grace.

Their dynamic is very much –

Bastien – dark ‘prince’ (though, not a prince), who everyone fears, so he dons that cloak, because why not present as what everyone thinks.

Grace – bad ass, take no shit, soldier, who calls everyone on their crap, doesn’t put up with it, and sees through the facades that people hide behind (i.e. Bastien) and allows them to be themselves.

All while denying their feelings, and then in a moment of ‘weakness’ giving in, only to put walls back up and continue the stupid dance of pretending to not be into one another, because ‘I’m not good enough’ for the other person.

It’s great. They’re great. And if that’s your thing, you’ll be very happy with this book.

Oh, also, there’s a single bed scene.

Yep, you read that correctly.

Single.

Bed.

Scene.

It’s full of tension and kissing, so if that’s also a weakness…enjoy!

Have I convinced you to read this book yet? Please say yes.

From the start of this book, we’re taken on Grace’s journey as she tries to ignore the blankness of her past, and the ever-growing power inside of her. We follow her as she does her job, dutifully upholding the laws. Her job causes her to come in contact with Bastien, the Lord of Thorns, a supposed ‘monster’ and there’s instant attraction, because tall, dark and handsome is everyone’s type. Let’s be real.

Things get a little chaotic, a kingdom is on the line, and everything they do, could lead to the end of everything. Overall, it’s a very, very good read, easy to sink into and get lost in.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned it earlier in this review, but this is definitely an Upper YA novel, if not NA. It’s not overly graphic…or at least not my opinion on what I consider overly graphic, but sex is on the page. There are also some scenes that deal with potentially triggering topics (i.e. rape). I won’t go into too much detail, but no physical acts beyond drugging, are depicted.

I don’t think this book is any more graphic that a SJM book, or Elise Kova book, so if you’ve read either of those authors, you should be okay with this one/series.

I think my favorite thing about these less popular fantasy books – though, this one needs all of the hype, I’ll be screaming about it for days, be ready – is that they don’t feel tired. They feel fresh and easy to fall into. Like, I don’t know what I’m getting into when I open the book.

I didn’t see the reveal coming at the end of this book. Not at all. I would not have pegged this book for doing that.

Sure, it’s a take back the throne book, in a sense, but it doesn’t feel like it follows the typical YA fantasy trilogy format. I love it.

I think my only complaint about this book, was that it was a little slow. But even then, I don’t think it’s truly a complaint because I legit could not put it down. I read like 80% of it in one sitting yesterday. I’m pretty sure this book, where tons happened, is just setting up for the next one.

And speaking of the next one, I need it. I desperately need it! I need to know what happens next.

Slipping back to my statement about the end of the book, can someone who has read this book message me, because THOSE LAST FEW CHAPTERS?? Jfc, I thought I was going to die. I was so nervous and terrified and quite honestly upset with how those last few chapters went down.

I mean, they were SO GOOD, I just didn’t want it to [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS]. Sigh.

So, yeah, I need book 2.

I hope that in this jumble, mess of a review, I’ve managed to convince you to read this book. It’s out today, I’ve already ordered my copy, because I need a physical version in my life, so you can check it out whenever. I recommend this week, so you can bump it to the top of your reading list, so I can have someone to talk to about it. I’m going crazy, bottling up all my thoughts about this book. So, seriously, if you’ve read it (and if you made it this far in this very long review, sorry) please message me, dm me on twitter, and I will gladly chat.

Like I said, if you’re a fan of SJM, Air Awakens and Serpent & Dove you’re going to love this book. Out today, February 18, 2020, check out Mageborn! Everyone should be reading this book, so get to it!

 

 

Book Review: Undone (Unknown #3)

undoneTitle: Undone (Unknown #3)

Author: Wendy Higgins

Pub. Date: December 5, 2017

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Amber Tate never dreamed their heart-wrenching escape from the enemy’s attack would lead them to the most beautiful place she’s ever seen, marred by one ugly fact; it’s under enemy control. Like everywhere else in the world, Elmendorf military base in Alaska has been captured, and it’s time to take it back—all of it—one base, one city at a time. After losing so much, Amber clings to the only precious person she has left, and vows to sacrifice everything to help save the Earth.

Remy Haines is a lover, not a fighter, so when she finds herself in enemy territory, expected to feign allegiance while gathering intel for the rebel cause, she’s never been more out of her element. Tensions only increase when her feelings for Jacob “Tater” Tate won’t go away, and the enemy’s leader takes an interest in her. She’s torn between what her heart wants, and what she knows she should do. As for what her body needs…well, it’s always had a mind of its own. 


This will be a spoiler free review.

I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read this trilogy.

It’s so damn good, and you all should read it.

It should be on your radar.

It’s slow burn…so slow burn that if nothing happened between Amber and Rylen in book 2, I was going legit riot.

Y’all, I miss dystopian books.

Can they make a come back?

Please?

I didn’t realize how much I needed to read this trilogy until I read it. I didn’t realize how much I was missing it as a sub-genre until I read it. Now I need more.

Bring back the era of Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and all of the other dystopian sci-fi books, it’s time for them to be the next wave in YA.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this finale to the Unknown Trilogy. The last 50 or so pages of this book had my heart rate skyrocketing and my blood pressure through the freaking roof, and for a moment I thought Wendy was going to rip my heart out of my chest.

It’s amazing just how much happens in these three books, and this final one was no exception. It’s make or break time, the battle for humanity is on, and if they don’t win…let’s just say that, that isn’t an option.

Up until this book, the enemy is just that, the enemy. We get to see another side to them through Remy’s eyes. While it doesn’t excuse what they’ve done/are doing, her interactions almost humanize them. Her viewpoint differs from Amber’s, who is keen on taking down the enemy and just wants to make it out and to the other side alive. I liked that the book alternated points of view. I was a little iffy at first, but quickly grew to enjoy

Tensions are higher than ever for the characters and this book just doesn’t stop.

I couldn’t put it down – not that I even wanted to.

When I got to the end of the book, I just wanted to continue reading, but that’s hard to do when you read the last page.

Overall, I liked how the book and the series ended. I don’t think I really have any complaints, except that I wish there was another book, but I’m pretty sure I already said that. I could definitely read a whole book about what happens after the final battle.

Wendy makes you fall in love with these characters so quickly and so easily. She makes you feel connected to them, and has you rooting for their successes and mourning their losses.

She’s also so freaking good at creating a world and a story that completely captures your interest and makes you not want to put down the book.

So, make sure you check out the Unknown Trilogy as well as her other books. If you’re looking for a NA Dystopian series, look no further!

Reviews for: Unknown / Unrest