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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.

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June TBR

Besides trying to catch some sun (instead of sitting inside all summer), I’m going to keep trying to make a dent in my TBR pile! Besides finishing A Court of Mist and Fury, I also plan on finishing the series with A Court of Wings and Ruin and also read some other things!

A Court of Wings and Ruin

I’m halfway through A Court of Mist and Fury at the time of writing this, so here’s hoping I finish it in time to start A Court of Wings and Ruin this June!

23766634Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

I 100% picked this book up because Pablo Cartaya was my mentor for my first semester at SNC and I love all of his work. I mean, I also love middle grade books. I’ve been trying to read more this semester but that didn’t pan out, so I’ll read more this summer!

epicfailSave the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a cute poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.

Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy’s quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.

The Falconer

Teeeechnically I’ve been working on this one for a few weeks now. I got a third of the way through before other things came up and I had to leave this one behind. But Victorian era fearie slayer? Heck yeah!

18817125She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

 

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April Reads

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and I’ve racked up quite a list. Some of my favorite reads this month span from contemporary all the way to high fantasy. Maybe you’ll be interested in something in this list too!

The Hate U Give

32075671One of my faves this month, I just couldn’t put it down. I bought it on Audible so I could listen to it on my commute to work, and I’ve been late several times because I had to stay in the car and keep listening!

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

A Torch Against the Night

25558608I read An Ember in the Ashes last semester and it was the first book since Red Queen that made me stay up all night just to finish it. An Ember in the Ashes wasn’t a small book, and neither was A Torch Against the Night. I devoured this book!

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

16096824.jpgI started ACOTAR hesitantly. I’ve read Throne of Glass and it wasn’t my favorite, and neither was Maas’s writing. But good ol’ JM Tuckerman loved loved loved it and insisted that I read it. Maas’s writing had definitely improved with age and whenever I picked A Court of Thorns and Roses up, it was a struggle to put it down!

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

 

Book Reviews

Review: The Wolf in the Attic ★☆☆☆☆

23492495The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney is the long winded tale of Anna, a Greek refugee living in London with her father in the early 20th century. There was exactly one exciting, plot driven scene in the first quarter of the book and everything else is countless pages of details, descriptions and character reflections on repeat. I had to mark Wolf in the Attic as a DNF, which I hate to do.

1920s Oxford: home to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien… and Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee looking to escape the grim reality of her new life. The night they cross paths, none suspect the fantastic world at work around them.

Anna Francis lives in a tall old house with her father and her doll Penelope. She is a refugee, a piece of flotsam washed up in England by the tides of the Great War and the chaos that trailed in its wake. Once upon a time, she had a mother and a brother, and they all lived together in the most beau
tiful city in the world, by the shores of Homer’s wine-dark sea.

But that is all gone now, and only to her doll does she ever speak of it, because her father cannot bear to hear. She sits in the shadows of the tall house and watches the rain on the windows, creating worlds for herself to fill out the loneliness. The house becomes her own little kingdom, an island full of dreams and half-forgotten memories. And then one winter day, she finds an interloper in the topmost, dustiest attic of the house. A boy named Luca with yellow eyes, who is as alone in the world as she is.

That day, she’ll lose everything in her life, and find the only real friend she may ever know.

-Goodreads

Anna’s journey is meant to be a magical one, full of mystery, strange creatures and the voices of some classic authors. But I found it dull and ended up forcing myself to get through the first quarter of it.

Anna has come to London with her father after Turks burn their hometown to the ground, and have since become refugees. She desperately wants to find a place of her own, but she is kept away from local children and her only source of companionship is Pie, a doll she’s had since she was very young, with whom she shares many conversations.

And for a long while, that’s the only person she speaks with. Most of the book is full of Anna’s reflections on what’s around her and pages of descriptions and details that never end. The only scene that actively held my interest was about fifteen percent of the way through the book; when Anna is in the meadow, watching a boy kill a man and then that boy following her all the way back to the city. After that, nothing of interest happens.

I really liked Anna’s character. She’s young, spunky and adventurous. I knew almost immediately that she not only had to be dealing with some form of PTSD, having lived through the trauma of her home being attack and losing her mother, but also some form of mental illness. As an eleven year-old still closely attached to her doll, not to mention her incredibly limited view of the world despite being at an age where she should be viewing things around her in a much more multi-dimensional fashion, she reads as someone on the autistic spectrum or as someone with a learning disability.

Since I began reviewing books, I’ve started to learn that sometimes, I won’t be able to finish every book. I’ve long since determined that I also won’t like every book I come across. I used to try and finish every book I get from NetGally, but it’s not always possible, especially if the book I’ve chosen to read that week isn’t a very good one or does not meet my expectations. Finishing books I don’t like just leads to headache, heartache and a long time spent moaning and groaning about how I couldn’t wait to be done.

I don’t particularly like marking books down as DNF; I used to find it unfair to the author, who put so much work and heart into the crafting of their story. But reading is meant to be a pleasure, something I do because I enjoy it and want to do. Reading bad books or books I don’t feel invested in for any reason is not pleasurable.

Finishing books is great, but sometimes, not finishing them is even better.

Book Reviews

Review: Beyond the Red 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

29282402When it comes to the broad sibling genre of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, I’ve always been more in the favor of Fantasy. But Beyond The Red by Ava Jae showed me a whole new world within the Sci-Fi realm, and I have fallen in love.

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

– Goodreads

I’ve been a long time follower of Ava Jae’s writing advice Writability (and you should be too!), and when I heard that their debut was coming, I was ecstatic. Surely, someone who gives such great and dependable writing advice should have written an amazing book, right? And Ava delivered, beyond all expectations.

Reading the book of someone who you hold in high regard due to their advice can feel like you’re walking on a fine line. On one hand, their book could not hold up to your expectations, and fall flat, thereby disillusioning you to their advice. It could be just plain bad and you’ll forever doubt any sort of advice they may try to give, because clearly their advice wasn’t good enough if they didn’t follow it. But, like in the case of Beyond the Red, it could be everything you could have ever hoped for and more.

I felt deeply connected to Ava’s characters, rooting for them from the start. Ava’s writing is rich and powerful, and their prose is almost lyrical when read. The book has a strong set of characters, all with their different agendas, and the story itself has the potential to become a classic and a staple in the sci-fi/fantasy community.

My one and only gripe comes from the sudden end of the book, which sets up for a sequel, and perhaps it comes from my deep need to know more and submerge myself in the world of Sefara. I want more world-building, more stories, a comprehensive guide to the Sephari language, a history of all things Sephari and how humans came to the world. I essentially want this to become as wide and detailed as Harry Potter or LoTR, where I can learn the language and read everything there ever is to read about this story.

Goodreads . Amazon . B&N . Indie . Author Page

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Spring’s Coming!

It’s been so gorgeous the last couple of days in my neck of the woods. Sure, it’s only been in the high 40s, low 50s, but it’s better than freezing my butt off in the snow! So, of course, with the coming warm weather, I’ve decided to knit myself a new scarf and fluffywp-1456879719737.jpg hat. Because, what rational adult dresses for the weather, am I right?

I know it doesn’t look like much, but that blue scarf is going to be pretty darn cute, and if anyone else knits, I’m using Purl Soho’s free pattern – Dovetail Scarf!

I’m also going to make a red one to use as a Scarlet Guard scarf for the next time I meet Victoria Aveyard, which will be at BookCon in May! I’m so excited. I’m tempted to either keep the red one, or give it to Victoria, if she’s able to take it.

I wanted to make something for her the last time I saw her, at a book signing she did with Sophie Jordan in Bensalem, PA a few weeks ago for the Glass Sword book tour. I finished reading Glass Sword there, and at least I was able to cry in a crowd of fans who understood my pain. (Don’t talk to me about chapter 26. I’ll never be okay again.)

wp-1456879934743.jpgI didn’t have the time to knit something for the book signing, since I completely forgot about it until a few days before, and by then it was too late. I might have been able to finish up one of my fluffy hats, since those take just a few hours to knit up, but I had left my hat knit at home.

On the bright side, BookCon is two months away and that’s plenty of time to knit things for my favorite authors!

I pre-ordered Ava Jae’s Beyond the Red, which should be coming in the mail any day now, and I’m so beyond excited to read it. I’ve been following Ava’s blog for ages, and she’s given some great advice, and her occasional giveaways are a hoot. Her book is out today, March 1st now! Go get it!

Speaking of getting books, I’ve become super obsessed with monthly book subscriptions. Which is a bad thing for my wallet, but good for my growing library! A friend of mine has been subscribed to Bookcase.Club for a while, and I was intrigued, so I signed up for their Sci-Fi/Fantasy box, and hopefully I’ll be getting next month’s books in the mail in April. Maybe this month’s if I got in just under the wire. Mwahaha!

But I also subscribed to Uppercase‘s book box too, and I’m a little too late for their March box, but I can’t wait for the April box! Since Uppercase specializes in YA books and my Bookcase.Club subscription is for SF/F, I’ll be getting everything I love every month! Not to mention the half dozen books I already buy when I go out to B&N. I should probably budget my money better, but hey, have money, will spend (on books)!