Writing Update #16

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I actually, officially dove back into revisions! I finished revising the final confrontation scene. I’m definitely not that far in the WIP, but when inspiration strikes…

I spent half of this week just rereading the last full draft of my WIP to make sure I hadn’t left anything crucial out. It had also been a while since I read it and I needed a refresher.

Good news, I’m still really in love with this story and the characters. Re-reading this draft made me really excited to dive back into revisions.

I had hoped to do more revising than I was able to before this post goes live, but it’s not quantity that matters, just that I actually started.

I’m pretty sure I talked about this in last month’s update, or a previous update, but I haven’t really been writing much. Outside of few short scenes when Shiny New Ideas present themselves, I’ve not felt inspired. I haven’t really been inspired to be proactive in my writing since December of last year. I’ll get urges to write, but then won’t. The drive is there, but the follow through is severely lacking. As you may know, I had to put my dog down in December, and that took a huge emotional toll on me, I still think it has an emotional toll on me. Grief is weird and some days I feel fine and other days not so much.

I don’t want to say Oh I’m getting over it, because I’ll always be affected. And then there is this fear that I’m going to have to say goodbye to my Aunt’s dog sooner than any of us thought we would.

You might be wondering why I’m upset about my Aunt’s dog – I fully believe that as much as we choose our pets, they choose us in return. From the moment they got Jax (110lb gorgeous German Shepherd) 3 years ago, he claimed me. For whatever reason, from the first time meeting me, he claimed me. I consider him my dog as much as I did Charlie.

But basically, I’m not exactly thrilled or ready to go through that again, and I’m scared that I’m going to fall back into this pit where creativity eludes me. And there’s this guilt that I’m just using grief and lack of inspiration/drive as an excuse. Logically, I know I’m not, but illogically my brain hates me.

Sorry, that got heavier than I expected this post to get. I figured I’d sit down to write this post, congratulate myself for finally being productive and proactive and instead I write about sad things and grief.

I’m planning on revising at least 3 chapters tomorrow, but hopefully 5. I want to get back in the swing of things while the re-read is still fresh in my mind. I have roughly half the book left to revise, so if I can stay focused and on track, it really shouldn’t take me that long.

My SF WIP isn’t the only thing that I wrote/dabbled in since the last update. You know how Shiny New Ideas often happen when you’re in the shower, well…

There’s this broody, moody vampire guy occupying space in my brain. It’s a reincarnation story, where in fits of bloodthirsty rage, he constantly kills his soulmate and has to wait for her to come back.

I had this vivid idea of how the opening of the story would happen, so I wrote it. I spent the whole time getting dressed after my shower repeating lines so I wouldn’t forget them. I don’t have much more in the way of actually plot for this story, so who know if it will ever go anywhere, but this vampire hasn’t left my mind yet. And I totally blame the resurgence of vamps in YA for my desire to write one.

This Writing Update took a turn I wasn’t expecting, but I’m thrilled that I’ve finally gotten back into my WIP. I missed it. Hopefully your writing exploits are going better than mine!

 

Book Review: The Court of Miracles (The Court of Miracles #1)

the court of miraclesTitle: The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant

Pub. Date: June 2, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.


This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I hit the end of this book and kept clicking the next page button because there was no way that, that was how it was going to end. Then I groaned because I actually realized that I had hit 100% and had finished the book.

I’m a Les Mis fan, so I figured I was going to like this book. Though, when I started it I wasn’t immediately hooked. Despite the draw of Les Mis, it kind of felt like Diamond City and I wasn’t a fan of that book. I kind of felt like I’d read the story before.

Which also makes sense because I’ve watched Les Mis about a million times. Thankfully, that feeling passed pretty quickly, and I was ultimately sucked in. I read this book in 4 hours because I couldn’t put it down. I really liked the pacing of this book, it flowed really nicely and made it a quick enjoyable read. While I liked the pacing, it did seem a tad rushed, but I’m basing that feeling on a 2-3 musical/movie where a lot happens. I also think that the feeling stems from, this is book 1 in a series, and there is still a lot of story left to tell. So, I’m not counting the pacing against it, and I still really liked it. I’m really interested in seeing what happens in the next book…especially with how it ended. I’m so curious!

I really liked the little twists that the author took with some of the characters. Now, I’m assuming they’re twists because I’ve never actually read Les Mis, but they differed from the musical. I liked that we followed Eponine (Nina) and I liked how the world of Les Mis unfolded around her.

I will say that the time jumps were a tad confusing. They always took me by surprise, and I had to go back and reread and put the timeline together. I mean, so much time passes in this book, and even just a year designation would have helped.

I loved the Guilds and the dynamics, the rules, the laws…and I love how Nina just basically said f*ck it. She looks at the rules of the Guilds, and finds loopholes. I really won’t be surprised if by the end of this series, she’s a Lord. She commands respect and is foolishly brave and doesn’t give up. I’m also really curious as to who holds her heart outside Ettie and Azelma – which guy…I’m torn, and I don’t even know if there is going to be a romance. I hope so. I really hope so.

I enjoyed the way this book ended, even though it’s left me really wanting the next one.

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.”

The Court of Miracles is out on June 2, so make sure you pre-order you copy so you can dive in!

Currently Reading & Watching #15

How is it just about the end of another month? Somehow simultaneously 2020 is dragging and flying by.

the last airbender GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFsAnyways, we’re here once again and it’s probably not surprised that Avatar: The Last Airbender has taken over my life again. 2020 is shaping up to be the year of revivals. New Stephenie Meyer, new Suzanne Collins, and now new J.K. Rowling…

Can I get a revival of Winx Club? A (good) revival of Stargate? Who knows, 2020 isn’t over yet. My fingers are crossed.

Everything I’ve read and watching this month has been pretty solid, with a few exceptions.


BOOKS:

 The Court of Miracles – Kester Grant

I’ve only just started this, so I don’t have any opinions yet. I’m really excited for this and I have a feeling I’m going to love it.

 My SF WIP Destiny

I’m finally diving back into revisions full speed, so I’ve been rereading the last full draft of my WIP for a refresher. I still love this story so much.


SHOWS:

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Netflix)

I’m sure this surprises no one, but I’m watching this just like everyone else. I just finished the episodes were the Fire Nation attacked the Northern Water Tribe. I’m really trying to not speed through it and savor it. I still love it.

My Brilliant Friend (HBO)

I can’t even begin to describe what went on in season 2. So much happened, and now I have to wait who knows how long for season 3. If my dad hadn’t decided to start watching this, I doubt I would have ever chosen it myself, but it drags you in and you get so invested. So much drama…so much stupidity. The things some of these characters do things that just make you roll your eyes and make you yell at the screen.

The 100 (Live TV)

I’m such trash for this show and I’m thrilled it’s finally back on tv. If you havent watched this show yet, it’s legit the perfect binge show. It sucks you in. It cracks me up that in 7 seasons, people haven’t learned to not piss Clarke off. They push her buttons and then are shocked when she explodes. I can’t wait to see how this final season plays out.


What are you currently reading or watching?

Book Review: The Obsidian Tower (Rooks and Ruin #1)

the obsidian towerTitle: The Obsidian Tower

Author: Malissa Caruso

Pub. Date: June 2, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


 The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.

Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.

Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.


This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been almost 24 hours since I’ve finished this book and I’m still impressed. I’m pretty sure I requested this book months ago because Emily A. Duncan (author of Wicked Saints) was screaming about it on Twitter. Then time passed and my urge to read it dwindled. I read it anyways, because I needed to, and it comes out in a week.

I am so glad that I read this.

It’s one of those books that the more you think about it after finishing reading it, the more you realize like, damn, that was amazing. I was a little unsure going into this book, I wasn’t sure if it was ultimately going to be something I’d enjoy. I’ll admit I went into it a little close minded, but it didn’t take long for it to hook me. I was invested.

I kind of got a Knives Out vibe from it. The mystery, the thrilling almost absurdity of trying to piece together everything that’s happening…it makes for a really fun read.

I mean, so much happens in this book from the very beginning. It starts off with a confrontation, and just keeps going. You’re not really sure who to trust, who to back, but you’re totally on Ryx’s side, but everyone else around her gets massive side eye.

I will say that I got weird, untrustworthy vibes off one character from the beginning, and it turned out that I was right. It didn’t take away the shock of the reveal or what is ultimately revealed.

I loved the Rookery and that cast of characters. Ashe is probably my favorite and I loved the list of rules the others had to implement to make sure she doesn’t just kill people. It was a small source of comedy that was so enjoyable. I loved how they were so quick and willing to accept Ryx.

I was sunk on Severin from the moment he was introduced. Like, absolutely sunk. I loved how he wasn’t this protector character, but more or less ran from confrontation. He was the opposite of what I was expecting, and I loved it. I’m really excited to see his journey in book 2 – to see how he grows and changes after the events at the end of the book.

Ardith was easily the comedic relief. I love a chaos character, and they existed for chaos. They don’t necessarily stir shit up, but if shit’s already up in the air, they’ll enjoy watching it fall. I can’t wait to see more of them in – hopefully – in the next book.

I also want Whisper and loved how he wasn’t above a good ear scratch – especially finding out more about him at the end of the book. He kind of reminded me of the Cheshire Cat…though less fever dream. He just had that kind of aloof knowing.

I thought the pacing of this book was so well done and so much was packed into this story. It never felt crowded or rushed, and the world – Gloamingard in particular is so interesting. It was kind of easy to picture Gloamingard, and I loved how with each new ruler, more was added on to the castle. That it was this hodgepodge of styles and architecture.

This book hooks you from the very beginning, with a murder mystery plot, a revenge plot, magic and mayhem, characters that defy expectations all with some dark and twisty moments that will leave you wanting more.

This was my first Malissa Caruso book, and after I finished this one, I learned that there was another trilogy set in this world, so guess who went and bought the first book. I’m so glad that I was wrong about my expectations for this book. When I finished this book two nights and rated it on Goodreads, I gave it 4 stars. Then I sat on it for a while and now it’s gone up. I’m still blown away by this book, and I really cannot wait for book 2. I want it so badly and I cannot wait to see what happens next and to see what the Rookery gets up to.

The Obsidian Tower comes out June 2 – a week from now – so make sure you preorder it, because you’re going to want to read it. Trust me.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Book Tag

I wasn’t tagged to do this. I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader, liking and catching up on posts and I stumbled upon Victoria’s post over on What Vicky Read. This tag was originally created by Angharad and Becky over on Two Book Thieves.

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Like everyone else who owns a switch or bought one in March at the beginning of all the chaos, I’ve been obsessed with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Yes, I totally went to Target before it was frowned upon to leave your house, to purchase a switch, solely so I could play this game. I’ve racked up almost 300 hours of gameplay…ooof, I didn’t realize it was that high.

I have no life in quarantine!

img_9409I can’t go anywhere, so you’d think I’d be real world productive. Maybe finally finish my WIP revisions, pick up some new life skill, exercise…but no, unless running around on an island for hours on end counts.

I didn’t think so.

I don’t want to say I’ve wasted hours playing this game, but let’s be real. I’ve wasted hours playing this game. I don’t regret it…though there is a ramp I’m regretting, but that’s beside the point. I used to play AC: Wild World back in high school, and I loved it. Since then I’ve played AC: Pocket Camp since it came out, so naturally I’m playing AC: New Horizons. I love this new iteration of the game. I love my island, the villagers and the freedom to create your own world. All the photos in this post are from my own island, which I think will forever be a Work In Progress. But right now, I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking.

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There are definitely a few things I’m still in the process of changing and a few items I’m dying to get my hands on. I like my island to feel more natural, though Isabelle keeps telling me I have too many trees…

But let’s jump into the tag!


Past Villager – Who is the character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?

Hmmm, this might be a tie between Harry Potter and Eragon. Both have massively sentimental places in my heart. I’m honestly not sure I’ve I can choose which one is more, because they both influenced very important aspects of my life.


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Blather’s Blatherings – Recommend a historical fiction book that you think everyone should read.

Easy. Stalking Jack the Ripper. This is probably a super common answer, but 1) the series is amazing, Thomas is delightful and 2) I don’t really read historical fiction, so my options are limited.

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Celeste’s Wish – What is a future book release you wish you could read now?

Oh, there are honestly so many. But I guess if I really had to choose…To Sleep In A Sea of Stars. I read a partial eARC of this and I’m dying. I need to know what happens next, and the book doesn’t come out until September and this waiting is cruel.


Timmy & Tommy – What is your favorite sibling relationship in a book?

I don’t know if I have a favorite…but recently I read Shielded by KayLynn Flanders and the sibling relationship between Jenna and her brother is wonderful. Where there could be so much contention, there is this unyielding love and loyalty…and they push each other’s buttons the way only siblings can.

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The Easter Bunny – A popular book character you’re not a big fan of.

Jude. If you want to know why I don’t really care for her character at all, you can check out my book reviews for all three books – TCP/ TWK / QON.

I find her whiny most of the time, and her motives questionable.

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Nook’s Loans – An author you give all your money to.

Brigid Kemmerer.

But there are honestly quite a few. I don’t know how much I’ve spent on Brigid’s books, but it’s definitely a sum, and I don’t regret any of it and I love my collection. If anyone wants to help me complete it…


img_9408The Sisters Able – What is your favorite fictional family (found or otherwise).

Would it be wrong to name my own characters in my WIP?

If so, I’m not entirely sure. I love it when characters choose who they deem as family, but I don’t think I have a favorite.

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It’s a C+ – What is a book trope you don’t like that keeps popping up?

I haven’t fished in like a week, because I kept catching sea bass. The joke is old.

Insta-love is one that I often roll my eyes at. I don’t hate it – I think if there is a legit reason for the instant connection then it can work. If it’s just wham, in love, I don’t buy it. I don’t know, I’m conflicted.

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The Wandering Camel – What is your favorite book set in a land far from yours?

Air Awakens. That book – the whole series really is fantastic, and the world Elise created is so vast and interesting. It would be really interesting to go there and see it. Same with the characters, I’d love to meet the characters.


What Would Dodo’s Do? – A fictional land you could fly way to at any moment.

Honestly, probably Hogwarts. I’ve always thought it would be so cool to there and be a student. I’d stick out with my American accent, but oh well. I’d be a witch, practicing and learning magic, and that’s all that would matter.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I tag anyone who wants to do it!

Book Review: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1)

all the stars and teethTitle: All the Stars and Teeth

Author: Adalyn Grace

Pub. Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.


This will be a spoiler free review.

I think this book was a tad overhyped. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it, and I got an Odyssey vibe from it. I loved how vibrant the world was, how easily it was to picture. I enjoyed the characters, for the most part – especially Bastian, but I think we’ve established that I’m absolutely a sucker for pirates. It’s a weakness, what can I say.

With that being said, I didn’t really like Amora – well, I’m kind of impassive about her. I didn’t care for Ferrick, but if he and Vataea were to be a thing in book 2, I think that could be really cute. Ferrick just seemed clingy and entitled, but at the same time I could understand his frustrations with Amora. He was willing to make the best out of a pretty crappy situation, whereas she just wanted to do whatever the hell she wanted. I think that’s where my frustration comes in with her. Not the fact that she won’t give Ferrick more than a passing glance, because she’s wishy-washy in what she wants, the manipulative and also kind of entitled. I just felt like I really couldn’t connect with her character.

Now, Bastian.

Give me more cocky, swoony pirates in YA please. I want them all. Like, shit. I want to be a maiden on a YA pirate ship with a Captain who can’t stop staring at me and making dirty innuendos LOL. Also, there’s something about the phrase “you wicked woman” when a pirate says in, grinning and groaning. You know what I’m talking about…at least I hope you do, or this whole tangent just became really awkward.

To be honest, I was also kind of let down by the ending of the book. A lot of the big reveals felt like they were there for shock value over anything else. From Bastian’s big reveals, to the reveals about soul magic and then everything that goes down in the capitol…I was underwhelmed. The pacing felt off the whole time I was reading. Some scenes felt like they dragged, but time seemed to pass very quickly.

I don’t think this is a bad book, and it makes for a really quick, enjoyable read – I read it in a handful of hours in one sitting. It’s got a vibrant, interesting world, with an interesting magic system, an interesting history, mermaids and pirates. The journey to and across various islands and encounters with mermaids and sea monsters lends to the Odyssey vibe – not complaining at all – and I get why people really love this book. I’m definitely interested in finding out what happens next, so I’m looking forward to book 2. I’m just bummed I didn’t love this as much as I expected. It’s out now, so if you’ve been wondering, I say check it out!

Book Review: Song of Storms (Song of Storms #1)

song of stormsTitle: Song of Storms

Author: Kayla Maya

Pub. Date: May 1, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️


For Bryn, life is rough in the city. Her father passed away in a mining accident, her mother is deathly ill, and her elder brother has taken their fathers place. She could do what any girl would do in the village and work as a seamstress, but that life doesn’t suit Bryn all that well.

Thievery does.

When Bryn meets North, she thinks her life could get better—or not. North is an enigma and he has asked her to do the impossible. A heist. Steal the king’s mask and bring peace to the kingdom or die trying. If that weren’t enough, she is constantly being followed by strange men in hoods. With her ever growing powers, Bryn begins to wonder just who is the bad guy, her or the king.


This will be a spoiler free review. I was provided a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for a totally honest review.

When the author reached out to me to potentially review her book, I was intrigued and excited. I enjoy helping out newer authors and hope that one day there are reviewers who will do the same for me. The cover is stunning, and the synopsis sounded like something I would really enjoy. I’m on a YA fantasy kick right now, so it seemed like the perfect book.

I will preface the following comments with this – in all fairness, I received a PDF version of this book, and it may not be the finished, published copy. I reviewed this on a Kindle, which I’ve since learned can screw with formatting. As a reviewer, I looked at this book through a critical lens and not for solely entertainment purposes. As an aspiring writer, I would want the feedback that would help make my book the best.

As much as I tried to like this book just wasn’t it for me. The constantly changing formatting, the grammatical and spelling errors and the continuity issues within the plot, meant that I was constantly confused and pulled out of the story. The concept of this book is pretty cool and with some more editing and restructuring – to make it more cohesive – this book could easily be a fantastic read.

In spite of it all, I am curious to see where Bryn and North end up in book 2 and the adventures they go on. I wonder how their relationship will progress and how they’ll move past what happened between them at the end Song of Storms.

Song of Storms is the first new book in a fantasy series by Kayla Maya and it’s currently out, so if you’re interested, feel free to check it out.

My Phone + Game Apps

We’re going non-book route again for today’s post. I’m in the middle of  new read and loving it, and I’m struggling on how to write a review for the book I just finished, so here’s a quick look at my phone.

Well, more specifically games that I play to occupy way too much of my time. I tend to go through phases of what games I get so sucked into and then play nonstop. Sometimes I fall back into older games, or I scour the App store for some mindless free game that I can play instead of doing what I need to do.

I typically like games that I can, again, mindlessly play, while I’m listening to an audio book, or watch a show. I’m like 99% certain that all of these games are free – except one. Though there are a few of them that I’ve spent probably way too much money on in game purchases, as well as a few I paid for the ad free version.

But first, I thought I’d show you all my lock screen and home screen pages. Don’t @ me due to the number of emails in my inbox. I legit cannot be bothered and it’s basically all spam…DSW emails me like 10 times a day – I don’t understand.

Anyways, my lock screen is Tangled – a superior Disney movie. I re-watched it a month or so ago and fell back in love and this art has been on lock screen ever since.

My home screens are Mathew Fairchild by Charlie Bowater, because 1) I love her art and 2) because I love him, and he deserves so many hugs. Go read Chain of Gold. He’s definitely my fave.

You can’t see it, but my phone case is the Night Court symbol from SJM’s ACOTAR series. I love it and the simplicity of the design.

Now onto apps. Since there are quite a few of them, I’m just going to pop in a picture, and go from there.


img_9322Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

I’ve been playing this since it launched, I’ve amassed way too much money, and with New Horizons out, AC occupies a lot of my hours. I usually get on this app maybe 1-2 times a day. I have spent so much money in game and pay for one of their new subscription services. I have a problem.


img_9323Penguin Isle

This one is my friend’s fault. If she had never turned me onto this game, I never would have become obsessed and I would probably still have funds in my iTunes account. This is one of those games that hooks you from the very beginning, but after a while the need to play it dies down and now, I only check it 1-2 times a day.


img_9324-1Matchington Mansion

I’ve not been playing this, which is fantastic for my wallet, but damn this game is addicting. Not going to lie, I’ve spent way too many hours absorbed in this game. I’m pretty far, and I love the storyline. If you like these kinds of level games, then you’re probably going to like this. There’s something so satisfying about renovating various properties.

Subway Surfer

This might be the oldest game in terms of how long it’s been on my phone…well, phones. It’s absolutely fantastic to play while listening to audiobooks. You just run and surf along train tracks, collecting coins and other items, while trying not to get caught by a security guard or hit by a train. You can legit play this for hours without stopping. I have. I listened to so many audiobooks last year while playing this game.

Stardew Valley

Okay, this is the one game that I paid for upfront. I think it was $5-$6 in the App Store. My friend had this for her Switch, told me about it and so I bought it. This game kept me up until daylight hours for days on end. I ultimately had to stop playing it because I wasn’t sleeping. I love this game and I bought it for my switch now that I have one. I got pretty far on my phone and one of these days I’ll get back to it.


img_9325Six

This is just one of those free games that I downloaded once upon a time and it also occupied too many hours. This is another one I like to play while listening to audiobooks or watching a show. I can’t even explain why I enjoy it so much – probably the mindless aspect. This is one I paid for the ad free version after downloading and playing for a while.


img_9326-1Color 6

I legit have nothing for why this game brings me joy when I play it. I can play it for hours on end. Who knew making small multi-colored hexagons inside one big hexagon was so fun? This was another one I paid for ad free after downloading and playing.


img_9327-1Godus

Okay, this might be my favorite game ever and I’ll forever be bummed that the creator of the game decided to drop it and stop updating it. You’re God. You get to terraform a world, farm, grow a civilization…the way you play the game is perfect. You build up, you get new abilities, it’s visually stunning. I’ve restarted this game so many times, since once you get everything, there are no new updates. So, I just start from scratch all over.


Chash, Inc.

This thing only runs in the background, constantly accruing money. The way I play this game used to annoy the crap out of my brother, because I wasn’t playing correctly. img_9324Instead of spending money, I just keep letting it build up and up. The sheer amount of money that I have is insane and that was the last time I checked it about a month ago.

Happy Color

This one fades in and out of popularity with me. I really like it if I need to unwind, or I’m in the mood to color. It’s good while listening to audiobooks, music or a show. I like a lot of the art designs and the style. Some drawings are easier to color, while others are very intricate and very hard. I also like the collection you get – and you don’t have to pay for. Some coloring apps limit you unless you pay, I like that this one doesn’t do that.


img_9326Lolo

Again, I have nothing. I like the mindlessness. There’s nothing to this game, it just makes me calm and happy. Which isn’t a bad thing. I usually will play this while watching something.

 


img_9327The Trail

This is by the same group that created Godus and I loved it. The only problem with this game – and I don’t know if it’s since been updated – but the end goal was unsatisfying and after you reached that, the game just got really repetitive.

TerraGenesis

Terraforming planets is so hard, and this game isn’t mindless. This one actually takes a bit of brain power and focus. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up undoing all your hard work in making your planet livable.


Well, this post is longer than I expected or anticipated it being. I don’t know if anyone is going to find this interesting, but if you have any of these games, or any games that you enjoy, let me know in the comments! I’ve been searching for something new to occupy my mind, so if you have something, let me know!

My Experience as A Reviewer

When I sat down and planned this post, I thought it would be pretty easy. Turns out it’s a little harder than I thought. At first, I wanted to do a PSA about my experience with authors reaching out to me. Then I thought I could expand it. Now it’s going to be this mix of the two, but I’m not entirely sure what’s going to end up on this page. If you’re interested, my Review Policy is finally up and functional.

Sad Little Girl GIF - Find & Share on GIPHYI’ve been a reader since I was young. I’ve been a reviewer for a few years – more on the schoolwork/homework, give my friends my thoughts. As for running a blog where I post mainly reviews about everything I read – that’s consistently been for about a year and a half to two years.

Technically, I’m still kind of a baby when it comes to it and I think because of that, I’ve been pretty lucky in my interactions. I hear often about horrible experiences other reviewers have had with authors. Which always leads to the discourse that reviews are for readers, not authors.

I buy, read and review books all the time. More recently I’ve been approved for more and more ARC’s has my blog presence grows, but that’s still not a direct interaction with the authors. Sometimes it results in direct interaction, but it’s only been in the last year that I’ve been reached out to.


So, let’s start there. I won’t be naming names; this is solely my experience and what I think are some Do’s and Do Not’s when reaching out to bloggers/reviewers to read your books.

  1. Avoid Nicknames.

Avoid being overly familiar. The first author to reach out to me was on Instagram. This was prior to me changing my handle – which had been the same since getting my account in 2011. The author DM’d me, calling me “Chazzy” (my handle was @/chazzychuckles – a nickname for my dog). I don’t go by that nickname, and even if I did, a stranger on an app wouldn’t get permission to use it. Only a handful of people use a nickname when talking to/about me, and they have my approval to do so. My name is on my profile, use it. Which leads me to number 2.

  1. Do a bit of research.

Does the blogger/reviewer have a review policy? If yes, follow it, it’s there to help you, help me. Scan my blog to see what I read and review if I don’t have a review policy posted.

  1. Don’t expect me to read your mind.

When reaching out, sending that email, provide all the pertinent info that I may need. Please don’t email me saying you want me to read your book and only provide the title. If I have to scour the internet looking for your book, I’m going to be less likely to want to read it. This stems from a recent encounter, where it took 4 emails before I got a synopsis – a lot of books share similar, if not the same titles! If you write under a different name than the one you email me with, let me know.

  1. Please be courteous.

I’m more than happy to provide an honest review in exchange for a book, or even simply do a feature. If I take my time to read your book, or promote it, please don’t ignore me. Especially, if you request that I email you with a link to the live post. I don’t expect much, but a simple Thank You is all I ask. It feels really crappy to put all this time and effort into a post, for the work to be ignored. This stems from an author who reached out, rather insistently that I spotlight their book and then couldn’t acknowledge that I did. To be completely honest, I felt a little used, and I’m highly not likely to promote the author again.

  1. Please don’t reach out via DMs.

If we’re friends, this doesn’t apply. But please don’t reach out in those spaces asking me to post my reviews to sites of your choosing. I’ve had a few authors do this, and it feels like an invasion of my space. If my review isn’t on Goodreads yet, it’s because I usually do them in batches, and I try and do them every 2 weeks. If we’re friends and you would like me to post my reviews to sites, let me know, especially if it wasn’t worked out prior. If we’re not, please email my blog email listed in my review policy.

Also, if you’re reaching out via DM’s, please no audio messages. There is nothing weirder than listening to a stranger talk to you about their book.


I’m sure there are other things I could mention, but these are the ones that comes directly to my mind. My biggest pet peeve is the over familiarity aspect. You can be friendly without being too personal. Being addressed by my old Insta handle, and not my actual name was one of the weirdest and most uncomfortable encounters I’ve ever had on the internet. I didn’t feel like I was being seen, but rather as someone who can just promote your book.

I don’t tag authors in reviews if the review is lower than a 4.5 and glowing or, if the author has specified that they don’t want to be tagged in any kind of review. I try my hardest to find the latter info, but if I can’t, I make sure my reviews are positive and urging people to read the book. I will never tag an author in anything lower, unless asked to, or I’ll send them a link to said review. I’m not here to make anyone upset or mad.

That being said, if I do tag an author, and they reach out, asking me to take the tweet down, I will.

I will include the authors name in the tweet, usually with a hashtag, but I won’t directly tag their accounts with anything lower than a glowing 4.5 review.

I’ve really enjoyed blogging and reviewing. When I first started this blog back in 2018, I honestly never expected to have over 400 followers and almost 1000 views a month. I never thought that people would actually be interested in my thoughts and opinions. I never expected to make friends doing this, go to ALA, or be approved for ARCs. I had my first publisher approved physical ARC sent to my house earlier this year…which I still get excited about. I didn’t expect to have someone in publishing reach out to use my quote for an ad campaign. I definitely didn’t expect to be able to moderate a signing for Brigid Kemmerer and Breeana Shields. I didn’t expect to become friends with a bunch of authors. I didn’t expect any of those things and they happened because 2 years ago, I decided to start my blog back up.

My experience as a reviewer has honestly been pretty fantastic. I love it. I love the opportunities that I’ve had because of it, and I cannot wait to see what’s next. For now, I’m going to keep reading and keep reviewing…while working on my own WIP. I’ve hit 400 followers, I’m possibly on track to hit 1000 views this month, I have over an 80% reviewer rating on NetGalley and there are so many really good books waiting for me to read.

What are some of your experiences as a reviewer?

 

Book Review: Shielded (Shielded #1)

shieldedTitle: Shielded

Author: KayLynn Flanders

Pub. Date: July 21, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes a thrilling new fantasy about a kingdom ravaged by war, and the princess who might be the key to saving not only those closest to her, but the kingdom itself, if she reveals the very secret that could destroy her.

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.


This will be a spoiler free review. Thanks to Netgalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I read this book in one day.

I couldn’t put it down.

It wasn’t what I expected…in the best way possible.

I honestly thought this was a Nordic/Viking retelling of some sort, and while there are clear influences, it’s really just this epic fantasy book, with amazing characters, a vivid world, so much conflict, survival, bad assery, and romance.

As I was reading, I had so many thoughts and suspicions. Thank goodness, I had a friend who’d already finished the book to talk to about it. A lot of my suspicions ended up being wrong, but in the best plot twisty way possible. The ending shocked me. I wasn’t expecting it at all.

Ugh, I can’t even talk about what I want to talk about because they’re all spoilery things, but this book starts off with one seemingly potential love interest, and then KayLynn presents another potential love interest AND HONESTLY BOTH SCENARIOS, I’M COMPLETELY TRASH FOR. If you’ve read the book, you know, and if you haven’t, you have so much to look forward to. Oh my god, it’s so good.

I loved Jenna. She’s kind of your average fantasy heroine, stuffed into the princess role, even though she’d rather be out fighting. But with that being said, she’s badass AF, and literally never catches a break. I thought I was rough on my MC? Poor Jenna…she’s every inch a badass warrior and fighter and it shows. That girl would sacrifice her life, if it meant protecting anyone. Her life gets flipped on its head, and she questions everything she knows. She struggles to survive, find answers, deal with her trauma and navigate the word after it. She does everything to protect herself, and those she cares about. She comes to realize that the things she thought to be the worst thing to happen to her, really isn’t…at all.

Do you like Princes in disguise?

You’ll like Enzo. He’s this mix of cocky and goofy. Loyal and caring. He’s charming and I think he wants to see the best in people – willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

There’s this scene at the very end where he exudes this childlike excitement, before we’re left with a cliffhanger and raging need for book 2, and it’s adorable.

I love the progression of Enzo and Jenna’s relationship – even if it’s pretty unorthodox and not 100% honest all of the time. There are good reasons for their lack of communication, trust me. The way everything plays out by the end of the book, after all the twists and reveals – that KayLynn artfully crafted – you can’t help but love them even more.

As for Ren, Jenna’s brother – I really loved him as well. I love a supportive older brother. Especially considering the history in this book of royal siblings. He was always behind her, supporting her, and their bond is super wonderful. I can’t say too much, because, again, spoilers, but I think you’ll like him too.

Now, because I love this book so much, I reached out to KayLynn for a little something extra. She was looking for bloggers to help promote Shielded, since it’s debuting during Lockdowns – so no big events – sadly. So, I reached out, wanting to help in whatever way I could, to promote this book. She gladly gave me an excerpt to share with you all, which will hopefully – fingers crossed – convince you to read Shielded when it comes out.


Ren shifted the stack until the Turian royal family peeked out. I tried to shut that book, but he grabbed it from my hands and pulled it closer.

“Researching magic, huh?” His smile grew crooked. “Magic . . . and Turian men?”

A blush burned in my cheeks, and I dropped my forehead on the table with a thunk. “How am I going to face this alone?”
“I think the whole point of a betrothal is that you won’t be alone.”
I scowled at him, but he only waggled his eyebrows at me, eyes sparkling.
I pushed him, hard enough to knock him out of his chair, but he held tight to the table. Underneath his teasing exterior, his tether flared with worry.
“I’m serious, Ren. I know a bit about their customs, but not enough to marry their prince. I . . .” I fiddled with the end of my braid. “Will I have to hide it still?”
Ren pursed his lips and stared out the large windows. “You can never tell anyone about your magic,” he whispered, so quietly I almost missed his words.

“Researching magic, huh?” His smile grew crooked. “Magic . . . and Turian men?”

A blush burned in my cheeks, and I dropped my forehead on the table with a thunk. “How am I going to face this alone?”

“I think the whole point of a betrothal is that you won’t be alone.”

I scowled at him, but he only waggled his eyebrows at me, eyes sparkling.

I pushed him, hard enough to knock him out of his chair, but he held tight to the table. Underneath his teasing exterior, his tether flared with worry.

“I’m serious, Ren. I know a bit about their customs, but not enough to marry their prince. I . . .” I fiddled with the end of my braid. “Will I have to hide it still?”

Ren pursed his lips and stared out the large windows. “You can never tell anyone about your magic,” he whispered, so quietly I almost missed his words.

My fingers, suddenly cold, shut the book on the Turians. I’d kept my secret for seventeen years; I would have to continue keeping it. But the thought of not having Ren there, not having a confidant, made the burden heavy.


Ugh, just reading it again makes me so excited and so rage-y that I have to wait for book 2, and book 1 isn’t even out yet. Did that make you excited? I think this little snippet gives so much insight into Jenna and Ren’s relationship, and just how much of a bond they share. Ugh. I just love them so much.

Oh, and the world building. It came to life in my mind. I binge read this in one day, and now two days later (as of writing this post) I can still picture the Wild, Turia, Hálendi and the various other locations Jenna occupies. Scenes vividly came to life in my mind, characters, their expressions, what the felt. Hell, I felt every aspect of this book. I’m surprised I wasn’t sore when I finished, because poor Jenna.

Shielded has everything you could want in a fantasy book. It’s full of twists and magic and romance and friendships and familial bonds. And the story isn’t over yet. So much has happened, Jenna has survived so much, and her journey isn’t over yet. This is very much a sit down, read in one sitting kind of book, that will leave you wanting more. So, when it comes out July 21, 2020, make sure you have it preordered. You want this book as soon as possible.