Book Reviews · Reviews

Granted ★★★★☆½

grantedI initially requested Granted by John David Anderson because my good friend JM Tuckerman loved the cute opening chapter. I didn’t think I’d fall in love with this book as hard as I did.

From the author of beloved novels Ms. Bixby’s Last Dayand Posted comes a hilarious, heartfelt, and unforgettable novel about a fairy-in-training.

Everyone who wishes upon a star, or a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for. But even so, there is someone out there who hears it.

In a magical land called the Haven lives a young fairy named Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets. Ophela is no ordinary fairy—she is a Granter: one of the select fairies whose job it is to venture out into the world and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day.

It’s the work of the Granters that generates the magic that allows the fairies to do what they do, and to keep the Haven hidden and safe. But with worldwide magic levels at an all-time low, this is not as easy as it sounds. On a typical day, only a small fraction of the millions of potential wishes gets granted.

Today, however, is anything but typical. Because today, Ophelia is going to get her very first wish-granting assignment.

And she’s about to discover that figuring out how to truly give someone what they want takes much more than a handful of fairy dust.

I immediately fell in love with the voice. I loved Ophelia’s attitude and sass, and I loved how she did things because that’s how she was going to do them, thank-you-very-much. The puns and the light-hearted voice really made me see myself reading this book to a child during storytime.

It did get a little old pretty fast, but that could just be the way I as an adult was reading it. But seeing as Granted is a middle grade book, the tone was appropriate and fun.

I felt a little disheartened from reading just because Ophelia kept running into bad situation after bad situation; there was very little time for reflection or trying to recuperate to do better next time. But maybe it was that sort of constant negative situations that led me to cry at the end.

And the end, y’all. JM Tuckerman and I talked about it during our Booked All Night episode on Granted, but I cried. And any book that brings tears to my eyes immediately gets a bump up in the star rating.

All in all, it was a cute read and I highly recommend it to everyone!


Writing Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about my writing life. So let’s go!

I recently submitted my second packet work to my mentor. It’s my final semester and I’m writing my thesis now. It’s a lot to think about, and the added pressure that this project is going to define me as I get my MFA is just an extra dollop of stress and anxiety on top of my usual anxiety.

I want to present my best work, I always want to be able to show people what my best work is, but I’ve come to a realization that this project will never be my best work.

I’m falling in and out of love with this piece on a near daily basis. Some days I like it and some days I think it needs to die in a trash fire. But this goes beyond the usual Writer Thing writers do. It’s a urban fantasy/fantasy fiction/paranormal type piece (I used to call it suburban fantasy but paranormal probably fits better). The problem with this piece is that it’s entirely too contemporary for me.

I’m a huge lover of fantasy and my writing voice reflects that. Contemporary is not even close to my favorite. It’s my least favorite genre, to be honest. But the story I’m trying to write goes beyond just the genre, since it’s a story about grief and accepting the loss of a loved one.

But all I want to do is write my queer elven princesses and lesbian mermaids.

It’s a struggle.

But sometimes the things you want to do aren’t the things you need to do. I know this project will be a good thing to have in my pocket, regardless of how I feel about it. Plenty of authors have written books they hated, but the point was that it was a book they wrote.

Something is better than nothing and I’m 50 pages deep into this project and I still have another 100 or so to go. Whether or not I complete this book when my semester is over is a totally different ball game.

Not that I know how to play sports anyway.

Book Reviews · Reviews

The Belles ★★★★☆

23197837Let me just say, The Belles made me so damn hungry. Hungry for snacks and hungry for more story. It was SO. DAMN. GOOD.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

I was enchanted by The Belles from the moment I heard it’s announcement on Twitter forever ago. I managed to read an excerpt on BookishFirst and I was hooked. I needed this book in my hands ASAP. But I never expected to win their giveaway myself. I don’t win things! But soon, I had a beautiful copy in my hands and I read it immediately.

I couldn’t put it down. I was so entranced by this story and the world building and Dhonielle’s command of language. It was quickly rising to the top of my 2018 Faves list.

Camellia is a powerful Belle and her strength and beauty is revered throughout the story. I loved her and I rooted for her from the beginning.

The only reason I can’t give The Belles five stars was for some pacing issues. The middle slowed me down a lot. I put the book down for a day or two when I got to the middle, because I felt ridiculously slow and I wasn’t even sure how the plot would progress once I got there.

But once I hit the last third of the book, things started popping off like firecrackers one after the other, real fast and real hot that it didn’t even give me the chance to breathe and take what just happened. It was slow and steady in the middle, but the end happened so fast that I blinked and it was over.

But pacing aside, the story was still one I need everyone to read. The Belles is still a wonderful read, a fun, exciting story with horrifying plot twists and a villain that had me shivering. I loved it and wholly recommend it to all y’all booknerds.

This review was initially published on Booked All Night.


Residency Log: Day Seven

I sort of missed yesterday’s log. We spent most of the day after workshop in the library doing some work. I plotted out the new parts of my thesis and I have a lot of things to do, but I have a new motivation for this story now.

I got some great news this morning and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

That, and we got an earlier flight that gets us home a little sooner and just the idea that I can sleep in my own bed a little bit sooner makes me so happy.

This residency is almost over. Soon, my last semester will begin and then I’ll be graduating and then I’ll be a post-graduate writer and that’s just… a whole plethora of emotions, y’all.


Residency Log: Day Four

We’ve mostly had the day to ourselves today. There was the option to go on the Tahoe Excursion to go into the city and do some ice skating and such. We decided to hole up in a classroom in the library and get some work done.

It’s always nice to help other bounce ideas around for their work and getting the chance to work on my own things without the feeling of being rushed because I only have a certain amount of time to do it before I have class again was nice. I’m still incredibly tired and ready to go back to sleeping on my own bed.

We also had meetings with our mentors today. Since my mentor isn’t technically hired by the school yet (paperwork troubles), I met with my “department” head and he lined things out for me and answered basic questions. We’re then going to call my actual mentor on Tuesday to discuss our semester plan.

I’m both ready for this semester and also not. I just can’t believe this is my final semester and I’ll be graduating come August.