Sunday, June 19, 2016

5th Year Blogoversary

I missed it again! My five-year blogoversary was actually on May 19th, but better late than never! It's hard to believe it's been five years. When I started this blog I had just graduated high school and was just starting to dip my toe in the publishing world. I had only just heard of things like Absolute Write Water Cooler and Publisher's Weekly. Had just learned about literary agents and foolishly thought I would sell them my first book. I got a lot of rejections on that query letter.

And here we are, five years later. I've written six books, one of which was briefly published. I've worked for publishing houses and a literary agency. I've lived abroad and become a much more confident version of myself. I've graduated college and had my heart broken. I've moved away from my childhood home. I've discovered a love of cooking and baking.

But some things are still the same. I still binge-eat chocolate. I still wear socks that go up to me knees. I still buy more books than I could possibly read in a year. I love to travel and snuggle with dogs.

I still love to write. It was rough going there after Balancing Act came off the virtual shelves. I wrote two books to try to discover that feeling again. That fun. With Poison Ivy I poured all my bitterness into the main character, letting her fuel my outrage at having my lifelong dream come true only to be ripped away. Masque was written solely for fun. I have no intention of ever trying to edit it or get it published. It's a book just for me, just to remind myself why I was drawn to writing in the first place.

Now I'm writing my seventh book, Spiral, and it's fun and heartbreaking and the first book I might consider sending out to agents since that fateful day Entranced Publishing closed its doors for good.

I'm a different person than the one who started this blog. I'm smarter, wiser, warier. And maybe for the first time in a long while, I feel the excitement and hope that ran through me when I hit publish on my very first post.

A Court of Mist and Fury

I adore Sarah J. Maas. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that she's writing two series simultaneously because it was torture to wait a year to dive back into her worlds. I was a little hesitant to pick up A Court of Thorns and Roses. I like my retellings but I wasn't positive this one would be for me. Well I couldn't have been more wrong. I loved it. It wasn't perfect, but hey, no book is. So when I got A Court of Mist and Fury I was delighted to see how thick it was, while also being nervous to start reading it. What if it wasn't as good?

Retrieved from Goodreads
Amarantha is dead. But her death and the things she made Feyre do Under the Mountain broke her, maybe beyond repair. As Feyre tries to hold together the scraps of her life, new powers surge under her skin. Powers that Tamlin wants to quash so their enemies won't hunt them. Evil greater than Amarantha is on the horizon, and then there's the problem closer to home. Rhysand owns one week of every month of Feyre's life, and he's coming to collect on their deal.

There's so much more I want to write up there, but I don't want to reveal anything too important. Because there's so much that happens in this book, even if it takes its time with some things. Like developing the relationship between Feyre and Rhysand beyond what happened Under the Mountain. Like showing Feyre's PTSD around what she was forced to do. Like showing her healing in unexpected ways and bantering with awesome new characters. I will admit that this book takes a long time to get to the climax. But I didn't care. Because I loved Feyre and Rhysand and how beautifully Maas writes. There's a scene in a cottage that felt out of place for a while, but even at the time it had my heart racing and then my gorge bobbing. And there are steamy scenes and other nice things. One thing I really appreciated was the reappearance of Feyre's sisters, Nesta and Elain. So different, yet they leap right off the page whenever they enter the room. But, guys...guys. You know what broke my heart and made me angry and happy and all the things? The climax. THAT is how you do a climax. It wasn't a cliffhanger but it made me want to shriek for the next book because it was that good, because so much happened. Because it made me want to growl and cry at the same time. Damn it, Maas, I thought I was getting used to your books but you got me again. Nicely done.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: The Crown by Kiera Cass

Bramblestar's Storm

When I was a kid I fell in love with the Warriors books. I luckily got into them when there were already a couple series out. I devoured them. And then I stopped. My favorite character was gone and I was ready to move on from them. Until a wave of  nostalgia got to me about a month ago. I started reading a bunch of the novellas. I put holds on books at the library. I wanted to know what had happened to the characters I had left behind oh so many years ago. This is the first of many Warriors books I'll be reading this summer, so prepare yourselves.

Retrieved from Goodreads
The Great Battle is over, but its repercussions are still being felt all around the lake. Thunderclan lost so many great cats, including its longtime leader Firestar. His deputy, Bramblestar, must take over in a time of healing and new turmoil. The clans used to be united against the Dark Forest, but those bonds seem to be breaking quickly with the threat gone. And then there are forces that can't be prepared for. When a storm comes to the lake, Bramblestar must use all his skills to save not just Thunderclan, but every clan.

Super editions are always tough in a series which revels in slowly pulling its plots out over four or five books. It's self contained, it feels very quick. And there are some more successful than others. Yellowfang's Secret is a good example. It goes into the past rather than serves as a between-series placeholder. I was very interested to see how this book went, as its the first book in the series to take place after Firestar's death, a character who has been around since book one when he was Rusty, a kittypet who didn't even know about feral cats. It was his death that made me realize I was done with the series. Because how could I go on if there was no Firestar? I reveled in seeing all my old friends, in slipping into this intricate world of alliances and betrayal and natural disasters and prophecies. I ached for Dustpelt as he mourned the loss of Ferncloud. But this book lacked...heart. I wanted longer descriptions about how Bramblestar wasn't sure he could take over after his leader's death. I wanted Squirrelflight to share long, sad glances with him because their adopted kit had died but they were no longer together. I wanted...more. I cried when Firestar died, and I wanted this book to mourn with me. And it did...for a little. There is a death that is so glossed over it angered me. And scenes that were so dragged out it annoyed me. And then there's a scene in a twoleg den that made me laugh. This book wasn't perfect. But it was a nice way to put myself back in the world of the clans.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Raven King

This final book in the Raven Cycle is kicking off my summer reading project. That's right! For the fifth year in a row I've collected a bunch of books and will read them throughout the summer, reviewing them as I go, with a deadline of September 30th. I started reading this series four years ago and instantly fell in love. I had previously read Stiefvater's Scorpio Races and knew I would enjoy it. How little I knew then.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Magic is stirring in Henrietta. A darkness is infecting Cabeswater, one that draws buyers of magical artifacts. Glendower must be found to save the forest, but Noah, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Blue aren't sure how all the pieces fit together. Time is fluid in Henrietta, particularly for the five of them. And still the clock ticks ever closer to Gansey's death, and Blue's kiss will still kill the love of her life.

It is impossible to describe Stiefvater's books so I'll admit I didn't try very hard here. Because this book is not about the plot. It's about the characters. It's about how every glance means something, how every word Stiefvater puts in their mouths is at once poetry and bluntness and reality and dreams. It's something I will never be able to do as a writer. She shows you the beauty in everyday happenings you don't notice anymore. She shows bleakness in a sunny day. It's remarkable. My chest was tight when Gansey gave Gwenllian the order to tell him where her father was. I ached for Ronan and how much he's been broken. I loved Blue and wanted her to go to Venezuela. And above all...I didn't want this book to end. Because it's the end of the series and I didn't want to be disappointed or admit that it was over. If I had one little gripe it would be about Piper. That whole part of the plot needed more attention because it was really interesting and well written. But I'm splitting hairs. I love the Raven Cycle and I'm sad it's over.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Bramblestar's Storm by Erin Hunter


Okay, I'm insanely insanely late on this review. But in all fairness I have had one of the busiest months of my life. I won't go into it all, but suffice it to say I've barely had time to read at all, let alone sit down and write a review of those books. In fact I think in the last month I've only read two books basically. And that just It's hard to believe that's the case. I'm trying to do better now, especially since a ton of books I'm incredibly excited for came out. But I'll get into that later!

Retrieved from Goodreads
Mila is on the run again, from herself and General Holland. She still doesn't know what the endgame of her creation was, or how to live with the things she's done when technically she doesn't live at all. She hates the pain she caused her first love, Hunter, and wants to protect him and the world at all costs. She just doesn't understand what she's trying to protect them from.

This review isn't going to be the most in-depth because it's been a while since I actually read the book. But I'll do my best. As always, I enjoyed the little things that Mila's technology picked up. There's a scene with a bear that is just really cool because it shows the flaws in having human sensibilities and desires paired with uncaring technology that is based solely on facts. I also enjoyed Mila's relationship with Lucas. She needed someone who saw her for who she was and liked her for herself. It really showed how immature her relationship with Hunter was. Downsides: General Holland never really evolved past the villain he was in book one. And honestly I thought book one Holland was a lot creepier. Plus the infiltration of a school campus to discover what happened to Sarah AKA Mila's brain donor was hit and miss for me. It definitely got my heart going in certain scenes and others felt liked they dragged. And the ending killed it for me. It was just...sad. While objectively I felt like it was a well written last scene I didn't agree with how it went down. How Holland, after killing his way across the country to get to Mila, would just give up. Why Mila would decide that the best way to solve all the problems was to get in the chopper. It wasn't a sacrifice, it was negating the sacrifices of her mom and everyone else who died for her. I was disappointed. Overall, a hit-and-miss book for me, but I was still sad the series was over. That tech was awesome.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars (maybe more like 2.5. I don't know)
Up Next: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater