ARC Roundup · Blogging

ARC Roundup | August 2017

August ARC Roundup.png

Time for round 2 of my ARC Roundup! I want to share the ARCs I’ve requested and my excitement to read them!

Starfish

Akemi Dawn Bowman

September 26th, 2017

29456598.jpgKiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary books. But I was drawn to Starfish for a few reasons: one, the struggle for identity has always been something close to my heart, two, that cover is so pretty and three, I’ve seen people rave about it on Twitter so I wanted to see for myself what they were talking about.

Beasts Made of Night

Tochi Onyebuchi

October 31st, 2017

33395234.jpgIn the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to

destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

Did you read that summary? Cause, yeah, I’m pumped for this one.

Shadow Weaver

MarcyKate Connolly

January 2nd, 2018

31246863.jpgThe shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

The first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology, MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale filled with shadows, danger, and magic that has the feel of a new classic.

I snuck a peek at the opening chapter to this piece and lemme tell you, it’s wonderful. My good friend JM Tuckerman also read this one and she loved it, so I’m already anticipating loving this one too.

Blogging

August Updates

Hello, lovelies.

I’m back from residency, back from spending time with family, and back to the blog. Things have been a little rough, but with time, I feel healed and ready to go again.

Blog Updates

I’ll try to maintain a steady posting schedule, at least twice weekly, with updates, book reviews and more ARC Round Ups, updates on my TBR and writing progress. I’m always putting too much pressure on myself when it comes to this blog and I’d like to try and see it less as a stress factory and more of a place to unwind and open up.

Semester Updates

My semester at SNC started up again and my first packet is due in less than two weeks. Yikes! Reading ten books a month is hard to do, plus I’m trying to get a draft query ready by winter. But I’ve got a great mentor this semester (as if my previous mentors haven’t been great. Pablo and Lisa changed my life.) and I’m ready to get to work.

Reading Updates

I’ve been reading more lately than I have in the past, and not just because of school. Maybe I’ll actually finish ACOWAR this month… But I’ve got plenty of ARCs waiting for me and I’m very excited for many of them. Especially Mask of Shadows!

Writing Updates

During residency, JM Tuckerman and I holed ourselves up in a classroom, took over the whiteboards, and wrote a whole bunch. I broke 30k on this manuscript and I’m getting very close to the end. This might be the first draft I’ve ever written that’s come under my word count goal. Well, revisions are there to help boost that and I love the revision process.

I know, I’m a weirdo.

Reviews

Zero Repeat Forever – ★★★★☆

Pre-order Zero Repeat Forever here!

28945665When the apocalypse comes and the invading Nahx destroy civilization, Raven struggles to survive with her friends in a world that’s slowly burning. A dark and lonely sci-fi story, Zero Repeat Forever was enthralling—but also a little disappointing.

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…

I will 100% admit that I was drawn to Zero Repeat Forever by its shiny cover. It’s just so pretty. Take a minute to really cherish it.

Now back to this story.

On my list of favorite genres, Sci-fi trails somewhere in the middle of the list; it’s not my favorite, but I don’t dislike it. I find it hard to get into, most of the time. Zero Repeat Forever was half sci-fi, half apocalypse story. I couldn’t even call it a dystopia, since that would mean there was some sort of societal order to the setting, but there was just death and invasion.

I was intrigued by the dual POVs of the story, one of Raven, a human girl lost in the wilderness with some camping friends, trying to survive after the aliens invade, and the other was Eighth, a Nahx boy who’s “defective” and rebels against his people.

The survival plot was intense and definitely the reason I kept reading, but for most of the books, as the characters are traveling to and from certain points, not much happens. As my good friend J.M. Tuckerman likes to put it, “a whole heck of a lot of nothing happens. Twice.”

My biggest gripe with the story was that we didn’t even really get a sense of what the Nahx were doing, even though half of the book is written in one of their perspectives. We don’t know where they really came from, what they were doing on Earth and what their goals were. And I understand not knowing what the characters don’t know, but little hints dropped from Eighth’s perspective, just little bits and pieces we could try to put together would have made the story that much better.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. Had we known more about what the Nahx were up to and how their process worked, the ending might have had a bit more weight to it. I won’t spoil anything, but I felt like the ending was too abrupt and it’s obvious it’s supposed to be setting up a sequel—but I would have liked at least some loose ends wrapped up, or certain things revealed.

G.S. Prendergast’s Website . Twitter

Zero Repeat Forever releases on August 29th, 2017.

Blogging

Taking A Break

These past few days have been incredibly hard on my family and myself. Dealing with loss is not easy, and especially watching it happen to someone very close to you is even harder.

I’ll be taking a short break from blogging and from social media for a few weeks. I’m flying out to Poland to visit family in the next week and will be gone for a bit. You can still find some of my reviews and my podcast, Booked All Night, over at BookedAllNight.blog.

I’m still going to keep writing, since that seems to be the only thing that’s easing the hurt, but it won’t be on the blog.

Thanks for sticking with me, lovelies.

Reviews

The Best Kind of Magic ★★★½☆☆

25436641A cute premise with great potential that was squandered by a forgettable character voice and boring writing.

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works at her mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

A lot about this world is never clear from the start, including many key points about our protagonist. Her voice fluctuates from sounding like a 13 year old to a 16 year old, I never get a clear picture of her—and in fact only find out she had funky colored hair about a third of the way through the book—and her slang is outdated. In fact, it goes from Amber saying “amazeballs” to saying “gag me”.

There’s a lot of overcorrection and inconsistencies in the narrative, which not only means it’s annoying to the reader but also confusing. It feels like a waste of my time if the character spends a paragraph going “Well, actually…”. On multiple occasions, Amber mentions that not a lot of people know about magic or the magical underworld of Chicago, and yet a majority of her high school population is some brand of fey or troll or magical being.

I wasn’t invested in the story or even interested in really finding out what happens to the characters until nearly half way through the book. As a matter of fact, I was bored through most of it.

And even worse, the climax felt cheap as the threat never threatening at all. The one redeeming quality of the finale was Kim, as that would have been the only reason I would continue to read the story.

All in all, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it, and I was more intrigued by the concept than the actual story. Amber’s voice irritated me and I didn’t quite root for her during the story. I would read book 2, but I wouldn’t buy it.

Buy it here!

Blogging · Writing

Weekend Writing Goals

I’ve been working at my Day Job non stop this entire week, and I’ve got doubles all weekend so I’ve got even less time than usual to write and read.

Sometimes, I have to wonder, when does my Day Job stop becoming just that? A day job is meant to be a supplementary place of income, something to get me by in the winter months. But I’m practically working over time—of course, the summer is the peak of BBQ season so of course I’m working plenty—and it’s leaving me more drained and less likely to want to get my writing done.

But I’m coming on 30k in this draft of my YA Fantasy and I’m nearly at the end of Act 1. Someone’s about to get kidnapped! I’m excited.

It’s been a lot of fun getting back into this manuscript. Every time I take a break from the story and the world and instead focus my writing on a different project, this world is just sort of sitting at the back of my head. It’s always so tempting to go back to it, even if I know I need to take time off from it.

So this weekend I’m hoping to hit 35k and get as close to the end of Act 1 as I can.

What are your weekend writing goals?