November Wrap Up (2021)

There is no way that time actually exists because if it did, it would not already be November.
Also, I would actually have time to read more than I do, but since the days and weeks and months just INSIST on slipping through my fingers, I guess I don’t get that.

Amazon.com: Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2): 9781419739842: Ifueko, Jordan:  Books
A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix by C.B. Lee
  • Act Cool by Tobly McSmith. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It was a great story about a transgender actor who just got into a prestigious acting school after running away from his transphobic parents. There were some parts of the plot that I don’t know how I felt about, but I enjoyed the story as a whole. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko. This is the second book in the Raybearer duology and I immediately got it after finishing Raybearer. It was great!! I loved to see where the plot went after book 1, and while there were some things that didn’t feel as fleshed out as they might have been, it was still an EXCELLENT book. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • A Clash of Steel by CB Lee. This book. Like honestly, THIS BOOK!!! The beginning was pretty slow so I wasn’t sure how I was going to enjoy it, but OH MY GOSH. This book was TEN TIMES better than I ever expected it to be, and I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: American Street: 9780062473042: Zoboi, Ibi: Books
The Great Gatsby | Book by F. Scott Fitzgerald | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster
Amazon.com: Not Your Backup (Sidekick Squad): 9781945053788: Lee, C.B.:  Books
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi. I read this one back in July or August, but here I am reading it again, once again for school. Honestly, I enjoyed this a lot more this time through, I think because of all the things that my english teacher pointed out when we discussed this one in class! ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Another reread for school. I have read The Great Gatsby far more than I ever thought or wished I would, and boy am I glad that it’s not long and it’s not a book that I hate (only dislike haha). ⭐⭐⭐
  • Not Your Backup by CB Lee. The Sidekick Squad series has been one I’ve been reading since February, and it’s enjoyable but not something that I’m extremely invested in. Except for this one. GUYS WE HAVE AROACE SPEC QUESTIONING REP AAAAH. And it was AMAZINGLY DONE. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Darius the Great Deserves Better: 9780593108239: Khorram, Adib:  Books
Amazon.com: Red Hood: 9780062742353: Arnold, Elana K.: Books
  • The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl. Vampire girls team up to kill their ex boyfriend, who is the vampire who turned them all into vampires. Main character falls in love withvampire ex boyfriend’s current girlfriend. I ENJOYED THIS SO MUCH!!! (yes that’s all I have to say) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram. This one is the sequel to Darius the Great is Not Okay, which I read last month and enjoyed. Another one that I just…went to the library…and then just picked up (love being able to do that again!)…and both books are so awesome! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Red Hood by Elana K Arnold. Honestly, this book felt super empowering and pretty cool, but also I understand that there’s some problems with it. This was the first book I’ve read in second person and it was really weird but I actually got used to it! [no rating]

I posted two posts this month which is twice as much as I’ve been doing since school started! The first was a book tag, something that I haven’t done since mid April. The second is an announcement about a new feature I have on my blog, where you can recommend a friend’s blog, which I’m super excited about!

The bookish blog tag
Recommend a blog announcement!

November goals:

  • Stay on top of school! ✅
  • STUDY FOR QUIZZES AND TESTS
  • Enjoy your weekends and off days. (don’t just think about school!) ✅
  • Talk/hang out with your friends more ✅

Goals-wise, I had a pretty good month! I’m super happy I was able to hang out with my friends more, just after school and such, and I also did do well in school, too! Unfortunately, I’m still not great about studying for quizzes and tests, but…

December goals:

  • Work on your english project (because I feel like this is something I’ll forget)
  • Post at least 3 blog posts? (including wrap up)
  • Stop reading just to finish books (read what you want to read!!!)
  • Hang out with your friends
  • Enjoy your time not in school
  • Study more
  • Okay so first of all, big news…I finally caught up on all my books on goodreads! Basically, I’d been slacking on marking some books as read on my goodreads, all the way back since April. Earlier this month, I went onto my blog and goodreads and marked every single book that I’d forgotten to as read on goodreads and wow I’ve actually read way more books than I thought I had!
  • School is…still school. I feel like I am finally settling into the rhythm, and everything being crazy, which is nice. I mean, I’d rather it not be crazy, but still. Our first term finished this month, and I did well which is nice, so now onward to second term, I guess (second term is always the worst).
  • I went to see a musical that my friends were in! It was really fun, I was NOT expecting to enjoy it as much as I did (no offense to my friends, it was just the topic of the play), but it was SUCH a fun experience and the play was absolutely AMAZING.
  • I went to my grandparents’ place for Thanksgiving which was really nice, we ate a lot of food (too much food, I got super full), but it was just a relaxing and fun holiday!

That’s it for this month! What did you read in November? Did you find any posts that you really enjoyed? And does time really exist (there’s only one correct answer; choose wisely).

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Author Interview with Maggie Tokuda Hall, Author of ‘The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea’

Hey everyone! I know I usually post on Sundays (and the occasional wednesday/thursday when it’s the end of the month) but you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit late as I was celebrating Easter with my family yesterday (and I’m terrified of scheduling posts because I feel like I’m going to mess everything up).
I am so excited today to be hosting an author interview with Maggie Tokuda Hall, the author of ‘The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea.’
I read ‘The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea’ in January and thought it was a really interesting book! MWS is an adventure fantasy and while it does follow a lot of the same paths as an adventure fantasy usually does, there are a lot of factors that make it a super interesting read! It was especially interesting how it was sort of split into three different sections, each with a sub plot in them–the mermaid, the witch, and the sea.
Now, let’s get right into this interview! I hope that you enjoy!

  1. When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

I always loved telling stories, but when I was a teen and a college student, I thought of myself as a visual arts person. It was in pursuit of my BA in Studio Art that I realized what I really loved was narrative, and that my greater ability to achieve the stories I wanted to communicate was through writing, and often with the interplay of text and image.

2. How did you come up with the idea for The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea?

This book is written for one person in particular, a young woman named Clare. I met her when she was 9 years old and I worked in a bookstore. She was this shockingly bright, voracious reader, and when she was 10 or 11 her parents hired me to be her creative writing tutor. In the time I spent mentoring her it became clear that– at the time– there weren’t many stories that she liked best, with magic and murder and rules and kissing, that centered queer kids. So I sat down with the idea that I would write her that book. She’s 22 now, so I missed being able to hand it to teenaged Clare, but I got to hand it to her as an adult, and it felt like my own coming of age moment. It’s very emotional for me, realizing that in trying to create a coming of age story for her, by the strength of her character and her imagination and her joyful queerness, she created a coming of age moment for me, too.

3. What inspired you to write this book, especially when you were stuck?

I started this book when Clare was 13. It came out when she was 21. I got stuck a lot. I spent more time stuck than writing. My biggest problem was that I kept rewriting the beginning thinking, erroneously, that if I could just write the perfect beginning then it would lead me to a perfect middle and end. What I was learning the hard way was that, no matter how good a beginning is, it’s nothing until it has an ending to answer it. The thing that ended up getting me to finish a first draft (most of which is gone now, it’s worth noting) was NaNoWriMo 2016.

4. Is there anything you hoped to accomplish by sharing this book with the world? 

I just wanted Clare to like the book. That was the number one, only and most important goal. She liked it, thank god, but everything that has come after that has been just bonuses for me. The most meaningful emails I get are from kids who have come out as gender fluid after reading it. That they found permission or solidarity or reflection on their own identity that moved them in a step to being their truer selves– I can’t imagine anything else as meaningful as that to me. 

5. What did you learn while writing MWS? How did you grow as an author while writing it?

Oh gosh. I learned so much, and I do really believe that writing your way through it is the only way to learn to be a writer. It’s reps, it’s just like sports that way. You can practice and practice and practice (and you have to practice and practice and practice and practice) but you also need to play a game, to finish the thing. You need more seemingly infinitely more practice than you do game time, but that game time is what really gives you confidence. At least, that was what I found for myself. The more I practice the more I trust my own decisions, the less time I spend fiddling about with things that can be fixed in the next draft, or projects that aren’t right yet. I only let myself write forward now, and that’s served me so so well. I’ve also learned to get comfortable (even delighted) by deleting things. I don’t save any of my own writing anymore, no projects I didn’t finish, no character sketches. I force myself to write from scratch every time because I’ve learned now that every time I write I get better. So why not work with the best I have to offer?

6. MWS is your YA debut. What made you decide to write a YA book instead of sticking with what you usually write?

I usually write YA. I have a few picture books– one out and a couple on the way, and some short stories and essays for adults. But YA is my favorite genre to write. I have a YA graphic novel out in October 2021 called Squad (about teenaged girls who turn into werewolves at the full moon and eat sex pests) illustrated by Lisa Sterle. There will be a sequel to MWS, and another YA graphic novel in the time after that. And I hope much more YA after those, too.

7. What is some advice you have for aspiring authors?

Free advice is worth every penny. But that doesn’t necessarily mean advice you paid for will work for you, either. You never know who’s advice will be the thought technology that cracks open accomplishment for you, and I won’t pretend to offer it. I can tell you what worked best for me, but I’ll tell you that when I say these things on panels much more experienced and accomplished authors break into a cold and horrified sweat when I say I don’t save anything, or that I delete everything. Or that I believe that often, that slog I feel with a story, is permission to abandon it.

Well, that’s it for the post, everyone! I really hope that you enjoyed it and it was super fun to conduct this interview! I thought it was so meaningful to hear of Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s journey through writing this book to get it out to Clare and I’m so happy that it’s a book now!

What did you think of this interview? Have you read The Mermaid, The Witch and the Sea? Do you want to? Please, talk to me in the comments, I’d love to hear what you think!
Thank you so much for stopping by to read this post and as always, stay safe and keep reading!

February Monthly Wrap Up (Part 1)

Hey there, everyone!
The second month of 2021 is already over and I’m a little surprised that it’s already over? Maybe it’s because February is a little shorter than the other months but it felt like it went really fast to me!
Now, before I get started, I just want to let you all know that I’ve made a bit of a change to my monthly wrap ups. I know that overall, people do enjoy my monthly wrap up bookish awards and I definitely wanted to keep them in my wrap up. However, my wrap up for January was really long. So for this month and probably future months, I’ll be making my wrap ups in two parts. The first part will consist of a more book-related wrap up whereas the second part consists of the blogging or life updates that I have.
(Also I’d just like to tell you why it says ‘February 20th’ on the featured image, it’s because I spent all of last week thinking it was February 20th even though it wasn’t yet the 20th at that point and…I didn’t have anything else to put there).

~What I read~

So….do you guys remember my amazing reading month last month? Like, 26 books?
Yeah…that didn’t happen again (though to be fair I had NO expectation of reading that many books again this month). Instead, this month I read a total of 12 books which was actually more than I expected, given that I’d read about 2 by the 13th. I AM happy that I managed to read 4 books on my 2021 tbr (21 books I want to read in 2021).

Amazon.com: Beyond the Ruby Veil (Beyond the Ruby Veil (1))  (9781368052139): Fitzgerald, Mara: Books
Amazon.com: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer (1)) (9780316341684):  Taylor, Laini: Books
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Wikipedia
  • Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald. This book was…certainly interesting. It was a super unique idea and actually the execution wasn’t terrible either. There were just a few things that I didn’t like about it, I feel like the worldbuilding could have been better and the whole thing was just a bit weird. Also, I’m discovering that I might not actually enjoy reading morally grey characters??? ⭐⭐⭐
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I was recommended this book MONTHS ago by a friend and it just took me so long to pick it up. I don’t know why. Laini Taylor is a master at worldbuilding and this book was absolutely beautiful. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t read this before? I mean, I’m not saying that like ‘THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD HOW HAVE I NOT PICKED IT UP BEFORE’ but more like ‘I’ve seen this book EVERYWHERE.’ It was a really sweet book! Ugh, I hated Martin. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace
Amazon.com: Leah on the Offbeat (9780062643810): Albertalli, Becky: Books
Amazon.com: Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad) (9781945053030): Lee, C.B.:  Books
  • All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace. It was quite a surprise when I got this for Valentines day! I always get one or two books for Valentines Day (books=love) but I just never expected THIS. I also got the exclusive owlcrate edition one so it has a super cool cover AND it’s signed! I really enjoyed how this book had a lot more character development and we got to explore the islands a bit more. That ending though!!! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. Okay, I actually think I enjoyed this more than I enjoyed Simon Vs. I don’t exactly know WHY but I just did! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee. Aaah, this was just such a nice superhero story, it was just a more low-key book than I usually read and…I don’t know what it was about it. It was just really nice. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 8.5: Unlocked | Lost Cities Keeper Wiki | Fandom
Amazon.com: Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer (2)) (9780316341714):  Taylor, Laini: Books
LOVELESS (202 JEUNESSE): OSEMAN ALICE: 9780008244125: Amazon.com: Books
  • KOTLC 8.5: Unlocked by Shannon Messenger. I don’t know if this really counts as a read and I’m not going to rate it since it mostly wasn’t story but it was fun to see all the things about the world, the really cool looking map, the character profiles and the PICTURES I loved seeing the pictures.
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I honestly don’t know what I expected from this book. Book one was just so good and given the end of it…well, I expected this one to go in a very different direction than it did. I really did enjoy it nonetheless! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Loveless by Alice Oseman. Let me just say: aro/ace rep at it’s finest. I loved this book, it was just so amazing to read and I think it will help a lot of people understand more about aro/ace and the aro/ace spectrum. I really enjoy how Alice Oseman makes all her characters flawed. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3) by Maureen Johnson
The Year of the Witching: Henderson, Alexis: 9780593099605: Amazon.com:  Books
A Vow So Bold and Deadly (The Cursebreaker Series) Brigid Kemmerer:  Bloomsbury YA
  • The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson. Aaah, the third book in the Truly Devious series! I think it wrapped up the series quite nicely and I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the first two books. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. This book was interesting. The plot was super unique and I did enjoy it, however it had a bit of a slow start. ⭐⭐⭐
  • A Vow so Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer. I’m quite disappointed by this book. Books one and two in this series were good, and this one just…fell flat. I literally feel like nothing happened until about 70% through the book. Also, I still don’t like Rhen and I don’t understand why people are annoyed with the book ending how it did. ⭐⭐⭐

~The Monthly Book Awards~

Those of you who’ve seen my blog since the last wrap up know what the monthly book awards are but for anyone new, I’ll explain them really quickly.
These awards are basically just short little things I do where I ‘award’ a character, a world, a book, etc. if it’s the best one of the topic that I’ve read that month. Down below, you can see all the categories and the award winners for each one!
Note: all awards are my own opinion
Also: While this is my creation, anyone who wants to participate in the monthly book awards is completely welcome to do so on their own blog! Just make sure to credit me, but other than that I’d love to see everyone else’s award winners!
Also, just an edit for going forwards: I’ve decided to remove the ‘worst’ part of the awards. While it can be good to know what books to stay away from and where books are weaker, I’ve realized that it’s much more important to focus on the good parts of books, and also that it might be sort of unfair to choose what book was worst in some points. Hope you all are okay with this!

Best character: Honestly, this is a bit of a surprise for me but I was having a hard time choosing what character I liked best. None really stood out to me very much this month, but eventually I decided on Ferrick from All the Tides of Fate. I feel like Ferrick really shone in this book, in book 1 he was sort of just a useless blob that Amora was annoyed at a lot but he really stepped into his own shoes and was awesome in this book.
Most interesting character: I’m actually going to go with Minya, from Strange the Dreamer, here. I did not like Minya very much but she was a very layered character and she had clearly gone through trauma.
Funniest character: Wow, basically none of my characters were funny this month. I had a very serious month, character-wise. But I guess I’ll go with Keefe, from the KOTLC novella, because, well, he’s Keefe. He was definitely NOT as funny as usual. Or, possibly, at all. Maybe I’ll go with Ro instead.

Best villain: Oh, I’ll definitely go with Nova from Muse of Nightmares, here. Nova was…a villain who didn’t understand the situation (when she finally met Lazlo and co. I mean) and was driven by a deep love for her sister which I really liked.
Most original villain: Uuuh well I might honestly have to go with Nova once again because I can’t really think of any other villains in the books that I read who were very original. I believe that Nova was, though, so I’ll go with her.

Best plot: Okay, either all the other books I read were just not interesting or I REALLY liked this book because I’m going to go with Strange the Dreamer once again. That book was just beautiful.
Most original plot: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. It was super interesting, not like any book I’ve read before! I liked how the plagues influenced the story so much (I mean, they were the main part…)
A close second to this one is Beyond the Ruby Veil, it’s really original as well.
Craziest plot twist: Eeeh, I guess I’ll say when Stevie figured out who the murderer was in The Hand on the Wall. I did not expect that at ALL.

Best world building: This one easily goes to Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Taylor is just so amazing at building worlds, it’s incredible.
Most original world: Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald. Its world building was one of the most unique parts of the story, it was very fascinating that there would be eight different but identical cities, all connected by catacombs around the ruby veil.

Best romance: Looking back at the books I read this month–I’ve read no good romance this month. Okay, that’s a lie, Simon vs. and Leah on the Offbeat were good (which is a relief, because they were the two romances I read this month). There was just nothing that stood out to me. But I suppose I will say Leah on the Offbeat.
Most unexpected romance: This isn’t technically even a romance, it’s not there yet at ALL but…did I see something developing between Ruza and Thyon at the end of Muse of Nightmares?

Most diverse book: Loveless, by Alice Oseman. First of all, it’s fairly rare to read aro/ace rep in books (AND SO GOOD WHEN IT’S THERE) so that’s definitely a big part of me sticking this book here, plus a lot of other characters were LGBTQ+ as well, and Pip and Sunil were Latinx and Indian respectively.

Best book overall: This is a difficult question for me to answer because the two books that I would call the best are extremely different novels and I don’t think that I can compare them like that. So I’ll just say that the two best books overall were Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and Loveless by Alice Oseman
Most interesting book overall: I really think I’m going to go with Loveless again just because it was…well, it really kept me hooked and there were a lot of good things about it.
The book that surprised me most: I’ll say Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee here. It wasn’t that it surprised me in a bad way, it just very much was not what I was expecting, at all.

~March TBR~

I don’t usually do a TBR just because I will rarely stick to it because sometimes books come into my life that I hadn’t intended to read but I’ve decided to try just a small one of books that I’m probably going to read in March.

Amazon.com: A Dark and Hollow Star (9781534453678): Shuttleworth, Ashley:  Books
Amazon.com: The Gilded Ones (9781984848697): Forna, Namina: Books
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve FINALLY gotten around to reading this gem, just in time for book 2 to come out! I can’t wait to read more Nikolai and given how much Bardugo’s writing improved from the Shadow and Bone series to Six of Crows, I’m excited to see how she’s improved this time!
  • A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth. This is probably my most anticipated (non-sequel) release of 2021. It just sounds amazing, and since it came out on February 23 I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This month’s owlcrate book! It looks awesome and I’ve already seem several amazing reviews so I’m looking forwards to it! (Also, this month’s owlcrate cover is STUNNING, easily the most beautiful of the cover changes they’ve done so far).

~Monthly Bingo~

Just like last month, I did the monthly book bingo, a bingo card created each month by The Colorful Bibliophile. (Find my completed board in my January wrap up, here). I highly encourage everyone to take part–it’s such a fun idea! Anyways, here’s my board for the month of February:

You can find the link to February’s bingo board here, as well as the March board here. I hope you’ll participate with me because it’s lots of fun!

Well that’s a wrap for my February wrap up! Have you read any of the books that I read? What’d you think of my Monthly Book Awards? And are you thinking of participating in the March bingo? If you have anything you want to say about this post, please drop a message in the comments–I love talking to you all!
Thank you so much for stopping by, and as always, stay safe and keep reading!

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

We have reached the last week in my ‘Beyond the Story Challenge.’ I know that not many people participated in the challenge but I had a lot of fun reading new books that I probably wouldn’t have found time to read otherwise. I hope that everyone else has found my book reviews just as fun as I have writing them!

Summary:
Sirscha is nothing. An apprentice to the Shadow, the queen’s royal spy, her whole life depends on coming the kingdom’s next shadow. But her plan is derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend, Saengo.
And then, somehow, Saengo is brought back to life and Sirscha is the first soulguide shaman found in centuries. She is summoned into the Dead Wood to appear in front of the Spider King, the keeper of peace in the kingdoms. But the Dead Wood, an ancient forest possessed by souls, are growing more wild and threaten to take over all the kingdoms. Only a soulguide can tame them and Sirscha must learn to control her power if she wants to save her world.

The Characters:
Sirscha: She has no life. Like actually, she admits it herself. Several times. Her only goal is to become the Shadow and she’s oftentimes like, ‘if I don’t get it…I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have to get it.’ She has exactly one friend and a whole lot of enemies because apparently not having parents or a home makes people hate you? And she’s very loyal to her friend but…she doesn’t have much else of a personality. She’s good with dual swords. And NOT good at following orders. That’s all I can really say about her.
Saengo: I liked Saengo much, much more than Sirscha. Unfortunately, with Saengo being sick most of the book and Sirscha going off and doing her own things…we didn’t get to see her much. But she is a very good friend and I hope that, if I read the next book, she’ll be in it more.
Ronin the Spider King: What a name, right? And imagine having a spider king basically controlling all the kingdoms in the world. He lives in the middle of a forest so dangerous that you can’t get through it without him controlling the trees to let you through…unless your name is Sirscha or Theyen, conveniently two pretty prominent characters in the book. All in all, I can’t describe much of Ronin’s personality but I will say that he reminds me a bit of the Darkling…just with less humor. And more mysterious or whatever…if that’s possible. But the similarities are definitely there.
Theyen: He’s the humor and the personality in the book. He’s really the only one with a defining characteristic: completely insufferable. But like, that’s part of the reason why he’s one of the best characters.

The plot:
I…really don’t don’t know to describe the plot. It was….a whole lot. There were a bunch of things that were mentioned once fifty pages ago that Sirscha was supposed to be doing so I didn’t actually know what she was doing most of the time? There were just so many things going on all at once. I also felt, despite the fact that the book is 400 pages long, that it was fairly short once it got going. I know I said there was so much happening at once but I’m going to contradict myself and say that not much happened. Sure, she usually has a goal and is doing something, which is why the plot is kind of confusing, but she spends like half the book in a giant building in the middle of this enchanted forest doing research on….something that was mentioned 50 pages ago, or trying to control her powers. Which she tried like once. The other times she just wandered around doing things. However, despite my harsh words on the plot of this book, I will say that it was still enjoyable to read, and the times that I did understand what was going on were really interesting.

The world building:
I think that part of the reason the plot was so confusing was because of the world building. There are so many places and things mentioned that it’s hard to keep track of everything. Sure, the world is extremely impressive. There’s a really complex magic system, there’s a bunch of kingdoms, there’s this cool-sounding and totally creepy forest…but if we’re not introduced to all these things gradually, it’s really really hard to keep track of everything. We get a few descriptions that border on info dumps at the beginning that describe the world and then we’re just…supposed to figure out what kingdom is what and where when they’re mentioned.

The magic system:
The magic system was info dumped and didn’t do an excellent job explaining it either? I get that there are five central different magics–or possibly six? Is shadows a magic? Sirscha said it wasn’t but then we met people who could magic shadows…anyways. But in those magics, you can do different things. So…Sirscha is a soulguide. She can guide souls to the underworld or back to life. But there’s also a soulrender, who can tear souls out of people and such. And both of those magics are light magics but when you develop powers you only get one specific power. And lots of different powers were mentioned throughout the book but I don’t know what they are or what magic they’re under or anything.

The romance:
Something I liked about this book was that…there was no romance! None. Nothing. Not even a, ‘he looks good in this shirt with his hair tousled,’ or anything like that. No, ‘a warm flutter starts in my stomach.’ It was completely focused on the characters which was a really nice change since I feel like some YA books really have a romance where…there doesn’t need to be one. Where it really changes the story because, ‘Oh, I love you *swoons*’ (no thank you).This was a very nice change.

The representation:
As far as race goes, I believe that all or at least almost all of the characters in this book are Asian. As far as sexuality and gender goes…well there was no romance and nothing about sexuality was mentioned and there are no characters whose pronouns were not she/her or he/him.

Final ratings: (out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟🌟🌟
Plot: 🌟🌟🌟
World building: 🌟🌟
Romance: N/A
Diversity: 🌟🌟🌟
I’m going to bump up the rating a bit because of the no-romance thing.
Final rating: 3 stars

Book info:
Title: Forest of Souls
Author: Lori M. Lee
Published by: Page Street Kids on June 23, 2020
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 400

Have you read ‘Forest of Souls’? What did you think about it? Do you want to read it? Did this review sway your opinion in any way? Have you read any of Lori M. Lee’s other books? What did you think of this review? I’d love to hear your opinion on my opinion as long as you are respectful! I’m always open to a bookish discussion in the comments–I don’t bite! And be sure to check out some of my other posts!
As always, thanks for stopping by. To take the time out of your busy lives to read this post means the world. Stay safe and keep reading!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

We’re almost finished with my challenge, “Beyond the Story,” at this point! After this post, we only have one more week to go. I know that, in general, the challenge was not the biggest success but I loved that I was able to read a lot of books I probably wouldn’t have gotten to on my tbr otherwise. If you’ve stumbled upon this blog in the time since I posted about this challenge and think it sounds interesting, I’d love to hear about it! I’ll consider doing another one after a bit of a break because writing these book reviews on such short notice is, I’ll admit, exhausting.

Summary:
Elisabeth has lived in one of the Great Libraries of Austermeer her whole life. Training as an apprentice, she hopes to one day become a warden, protecting the magical books–grimoires–and the kingdom from their powers.
When an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire, Elisabeth is determined to stop it from destroying the nearby village. However, her intervention has labeled her as the saboteur and she must be transported to the capital to face justice. She realizes that only a sorcerer, Nathaniel Thorn, can help her as she becomes entangled in a conspiracy from centuries ago that threatens to kill hundreds of people. As she gets deeper into the conspiracy, she must question everything she’s been taught–about sorcerers, whom she’s told are evil, about libraries and about even herself. She, with the help of a few allies, is the only one who can stop all six of the great libraries from going up in flames with countless people among them.

The characters:
Elisabeth: Elisabeth has lived in a library her entire life. And not just any library, a library where books talk to her and secret passages are her main way of getting around. Just…stop and imagine that for a second. Living in a magic library. Surrounded by books your entire life. How I wish. However, it seems that living in this library has made her very naive to the outside world. She believes that sorcerers are evil. And she knows next to nothing about the demons that are bound to them. Elisabeth was a very interesting character. She was determined and she was extremely good with a sword. She was a very strong female character. Other than that….I don’t have much to say. I feel like, despite the fact that she had a sword, was basically friends with books and, well, was the main character of this book, she wasn’t very memorable (I know, I’m going against what I said before, but I really cannot think of something right now. I may think of something later…)
Nathaniel: Shockingly enough, Nathaniel, the male character, was my favorite character in the book. I think, mostly, it was his sense of humor. He also…reminded me of someone, but I’m not sure who. He’s had a traumatizing few years before Eliza came into his life and he relies on his demon for most everything. But despite the complicated relationship between Silas, the demon, and Nathaniel, you can see how much they care and trust each other.
Silas: The demon. But Silas is the most obedient, amazing, trustworthy, loving demon there is. Yes, he’s under a contract sort of thing with Nathaniel but you can tell that he really, truly cares. He’s gone through so much with Nathaniel. I don’t care what anyone else says about Silas but he is my favorite (well okay, maybe second favorite but like…I’m not sure. He may be up there as my favorite) and you cannot convince me otherwise.

The plot: This plot was very…twisty. It seems like at first it was one thing and then suddenly it was another. It was interesting, overall, but I feel like there were just some parts that were too convenient and some parts that just…weren’t needed. For example: Elisabeth needs to get a job at the Royal Library or whatever it’s called (I forget and that’s not good, given that I finished reading this less than an hour ago) to pull off part of her plan. Well, lucky her, turns out there’s a spot open because a maid resigned the day before. And the part with the fiends, when they arrive in the city or whatever…what was the point of that? It was just for Elisabeth to show off her awesome fighting skills and get in the paper or whatever. Why were there even fiends there and why did they target Elisabeth? She was with a sorcerer, wouldn’t they know to go for an easier-to-beat person?

The world building:
Pretty good! I was never confused as to where something was and there was never an info dump. I didn’t get to see much of the world…there was that time when Nathaniel and Elisabeth were traveling and Nathaniel talked a bit about it, but it wasn’t described as fully in detail as other books. I wasn’t sure exactly where things were, other than the fact that the Great Libraries formed a pentagon around the Royal Library (the sixth Great Library) but since they didn’t do much traveling, that wasn’t strictly necessary.

The romance:
Guys. This is…a shocker. I actually sorta shipped a straight couple. Sorta. I think I just felt like they got along well together and I liked Nathaniel a lot. But then….we get to the actual romance, that is, when they were kissing, and I didn’t like it much. I guess I only liked the idea of them together? I’m not sure. But all in all, the romance was…not awful in this book. Also; when Nathaniel finally admitted that he liked Elisabeth: ‘Silas has been rolling his eyes at me for weeks.’

The representation:
Hmm…it wasn’t great? But at least it wasn’t all straight people. Unfortunately, all three of our main characters are white, however there is a side character who is not physically there for most of the book but is mentioned quite a few times who is described as having brown skin. The same character is aro/ace and Nathaniel is bi, though each of these things are mentioned exactly once in the book. The main relationship is, however, m/f.

The ending:
This happens to me often, and it may be because I don’t read the most carefully. But I was confused. I didn’t exactly understand what was happening. (except for…for….Silasssssssssssssssssssss! *breaks down in tears*)
I also felt like the ending of this book ended rather abruptly. The last chapter we have is right when the action finishes, literally directly after. Then we have the prologue that spans over about one day but describes what happened in the past week or so. I don’t want to hear what happened, I want to read it as it happens. If you have that much explaining left to do, just add a few more chapters onto the end.
The last thing about the ending was that it was fairly open ended. One of those books that what happens next is pretty obvious but it doesn’t actually tell you. It annoys me when they do that, because does it hurt to write a few extra sentences, just to make it an actual confirmed happy ending?

Final ratings: (out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Plot: 🌟🌟🌟
World building: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Romance: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Diversity: 🌟🌟
Final rating: 3.6 stars

Book info:
Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books on June 4, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young adult, Paranormal
Pages: 453

Have you read “Sorcery of Thorns”? What did you think about it? Do you want to read it? Have you read Margaret Rogerson’s other book, “An Enchantment of Ravens”? What did you think about this review? I’d love to hear your opinion on my opinion as long as you’re respectful! I’m always open to having a bookish discussion with you! And make sure to check out some of the other posts I have to offer!
As always, thanks for reading. It means the world to me that you would take the time out of your day to read this small and insignificant blog. Stay safe and keep on reading!

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Week number two of my “Beyond the Story” challenge! First I want to thank anyone who is participating in this challenge–though I know not many people are participating, I thank everyone who is. Please, put your reviews for this challenge in the comments if you want to!

*Please note: I listened to this book as an audiobook so character names may not be spelled exactly correctly. If you see an incorrect spelling, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments. Thank you.*

Summary: When Amaya saves a mysterious man from drowning, she is afraid that her sentence on the debtor ship, which is almost up, will be elongated. Eager to get home, she believes she has destroyed her future. Instead, the man who she saved strikes up a deal with her: he’ll help her get revenge on the man who ruined her life and she’ll help him get revenge on the person who ruined his. And so Amaya is tossed into a world of riches and finery in a plot to murder both of the men. But the more she explores this new world, the more she dregs up the past that she thought was gone forever–and the more she realizes that no one can be trusted.
On the other hand, Cayo’s life is looking up. It seems he’s finally gotten rid of his gambling problem and his sister is about to marry a wealthy man, giving his family a boost. However, his sister collapses on the night that his father hopes to finalize the marriage and it’s soon confirmed that she has the deadly sickness that’s spreading around Moray. Just to make matters worse, it seems that Cayo’s gambling has lead the family to bankruptcy and now they have nothing to pay with for the expensive medicine. When word gets around that a rich Countess has arrived in the city, Cayo’s father insists that he try to get close to her for a little extra money.

The characters
Amaya: The first character we are introduced to is Amaya. When we meet her, we find her on a debtor’s ship, working furiously. Conditions aren’t great. But don’t worry, Amaya’s leaving soon. This girl is hard-working, tough, strong and loyal. I liked what a strong female character she was but there were a few things I didn’t like about her (more on that later).
Cayo: Shockingly enough, I enjoyed reading the chapters that followed Cayo’s perspective much more than I enjoyed those following Amaya. I think it is because Cayo is more…realistic. He actually has problems. Sure, Amaya has problems as well–I mean she was stuck on a debtor ship, practically a slave, for seven years. But no offense to anyone that this has actually happened to, this doesn’t happen very frequently. Meanwhile, Cayo’s problems are shown throughout the book. His sister is sick. His family is broke. He’s constantly on the urge of getting back into gambling. You can really feel him more than Amaya, this distant character who’s sort of…good at everything.
Boon: Suspicious. The entire time, he was so suspicious. No one just has that much money when you’re out at sea. About his personality….he was sort of ambitious. And broody. Despite the fact that he’s sort of the inciting incident, he’s not in this book much at all.
There were actually so many amazing characters in this book and I cannot name them all. In fact, most were just there for bits and pieces of it, but important nonetheless. Here’s a few more really minor characters I liked:

  • Liesl
  • Saraiya
  • Sebastian

The plot:
So…I’ll admit. I went into this book expecting adventure. Maybe it was the cover, maybe it was the synopsis. Whatever it was, I didn’t think that the characters would be attending parties and tromping around the city.
Revenge. That is what this book is all about. Revenge on the man who ruined Amaya’s life. Revenge on the man who ruined Boon’s life. And it keeps spiraling from there–it seems like everyone who has wronged Amaya a little bit, she’s eager to get revenge on.
I think that that is my biggest problem with this book. She is so eager to kill these people who have wronged her. Now, I am in no way standing up for any of the things that Captain Zharo did. He was cruel and abusive to people, even children as young as eight or nine years old. But Amaya jumps straight to killing in several circumstances. She kills the debt collector who brought her to the ship seven years ago. So much death, much of it that probably didn’t absolutely have to happen.
Revenge, death and non-adventure aside, I did, in fact, enjoy this book very much. I will be forever shocked at how easily authors can fill a bunch of nothing with a bunch of something but I guess if you become an author you get lots of experience making things sound fascinating. I feel like half this book was about people wandering the city, there wasn’t even much action, and yet it wasn’t an uninteresting book. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it was interesting! And yes, despite the fact that I didn’t adore this book, I will be reading the second one once it comes out.

The worldbuilding:
I absolutely loved the world building in this book! I never got an info dump explaining where places were and there were so many countries and kingdoms mentioned. We only got to see one city in this book, which I’m actually disappointed about. I would have loved to see more of this world. Hopefully, that’s what I’ll get in book two!

The romance:
So…I didn’t actually expect there to be romance in this book. I had heard, somewhere, that this book had an asexual/aromantic character and I just kind of assumed that it was Amaya, for some reason. My bad. So the fact that there was romance, even if it was a small amount, was a little surprising to me.
But…I actually liked the ship. I mean, I didn’t absolutely adore it, but it was bearable. That is definitely a shocker for me, who so rarely tolerates reading straight romance in books.

All in all, this book was a big barrel of surprises. It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t awful, either. And I am, in fact, glad that I read this book.

Final rating: (out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Plot: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
World building: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Romance: 🌟🌟🌟
Diversity: 🌟🌟🌟
Final rating: 3.8 stars

Book info:
Title: Scavenge the Stars
Author: Tara Sim
Published by: Little Brown Books on January 4, 2020
Genres: YA, fiction, fantasy, LGBTQIAP+
Pages: 383 (depending on edition)

Have you read “Scavenge the Stars”? What did you think about it? Are you hoping to read the next book? What do you think will happen in “Ravage the Darkness”? What about this blog post? I’d love to hear your opinion on my opinion (just be respectful!) I’d be so excited to have a bookish discussion with you! Plus, make sure to check out some of the other posts I have to offer!
As always, thanks for reading. To take the time out of your day to read my rambles and half-baked posts means the world. Stay safe and keep reading!

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Alright everyone, it’s week one of the “Beyond the Story” challenge! For the first challenge, “Judge a book by its cover,” I chose to read “The Sound of Stars” by Alechia Dow. This cover is one of the most amazing that I’ve ever seen. I mean, look at it!

Want a closer look? Here:

I hope that was close enough for you! Anyways, you can probably see why I chose this book for the challenge I did! But what did I think of what lies beneath this beautiful cover?

First impression: When I read this synopsis, not even having started this book, I thought it sounded rather…odd. On the cover it literally says, “Can their love of books and pop music save the world?” To me, that didn’t sound like a young adult novel. Another reason I was hesitant with this book is because it’s sci-fi. Not saying that I don’t read sci-fi, I just don’t read it very often and I just enjoy fantasy so much more. Science fiction and dystopian novels, I feel like, can get really down into all the ‘government-y’ stuff which I don’t like reading that much.

The beginning: This book started out a bit slowly. We meet Ellie and learn about her secret library. We then get to know MoRr1S and understand his love for music. All in all, the actual adventure doesn’t start till about 100 pages in and I’m not sure some of the things before that were needed.

The middle: The middle is where the actual adventure happened! I probably enjoyed this part most of all. Our main characters traveled across the country together, sometimes encountering Ilori, or humans, all of whom really wanted to capture Ellie and Morris.

The ending: The ending was…weird. I’m not going to pretend that I understood all of it? But it was interesting. There were definitely several plot twists especially THAT ONE PLOT TWIST that if that happened to me EEEEE and AAAAAH

On the characters:
Ellie: I enjoyed reading about Ellie a lot. She’s a fun protagonist and extremely relatable. She loves reading books so much that she is willing to risk her life just to run an illegal library! She was a strong female character and it seemed like everyone liked her–I mean, an alien of a species trying to take over earth fell in love with her! She also cared about her family so much which I really liked. When she was traveling across the country, she was constantly thinking about them, wondering if they were safe, feeling bad because she felt like she left them behind. 

Morris: I have to admit, I liked Morris less than I liked Ellie. Maybe it was because we got Ellie POV and while it did follow Morris as well, it wasn’t from first person which might have made me feel less connected to him. I do admire his willingness to work against his entire species, work against a lot of what he grew up around. However, I almost feel like he cared about Ellie…too much? Well let me first say that this is not a thing, caring about someone too much. But, sorry Morris, there are only so many times that I can hear the words ‘I love you’. This may be a part that I admit I’m sort of glad the book wasn’t from Morris’s point of view because I have a feeling throughout most of the book I’d just be reading, “IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouEllieIloveyouIlovethisgirlsomuch.”

Avrola: I know that Avrola wasn’t a very major character but I liked them. They also didn’t have that much emotion, just like most Ilori, but I still sensed a deep admiration and willingness to do whatever for Morris in them. I’ll say it again, they weren’t a very major character but without them, none of Ellie’s family would be living. So in that sense, yes, they were very major.

Ooh wait. Did you guys want a synopsis before I just dug right into the book? Oops, sorry about that. Well, you can read my sort of horrible one right here:
The world has been taken over by aliens of the name Ilori. Humans have been tracked down all over the planet, either being killed or collected and kept together in centers where Ilori can control their every aspect of life. Janelle, better known as Ellie, lives in a center in New York City and every day has to watch her parents crumble under the Ilori rule. The only thing that keeps her going is the illegal library that she runs. Meanwhile, MoRr1S, or Morris, is an Ilori. Ilori are not supposed to feel emotions or enjoy any form of art but MoRr1S does. One day he finds Ellie’s secret stash. As an Ilori, he is duty bound to turn her in, but he finds himself drawn to art the same way that Ellie is. Desperate for more music to listen to, he strikes up a deal with Ellie–her and her parents’ safety as long as she finds more music for him. But humans are in big trouble as Ilori draw closer to the vaccine they need to control mankind once in for all. Morris has a solution–but it is thousands of miles away. Now every single person’s lives rest in the hands of him and Ellie as they try to make a near impossible adventure to overthrow the Ilori and save the future of humans.

The plot: This was a very interesting plot! I felt like there was almost always something happening, we didn’t get periods where the book went, “we drove. We passed a field. We drove some more. I wonder how those cows survived the aliens. Oh look another field. Watch out for that chicken crossing the road.” etc. There was enough action to get a 426 page book and it never felt drawn out or repeated or boring. One thing I do have to say about the plot, actually, was that it was fast. Well, not the plot, perhaps, but the traveling. Perhaps I missed something, but do Ilori cars move extra fast? Or do I just have a bad sense of distance (or maybe both)? Because they reached Illinois awfully fast. And Texas from Illinois. This also brings up the question of why on earth they were even in Texas. If you’re going from New York to California, I don’t think that Texas is exactly on the way. Especially if you’ve reached Illinois, why go down instead of across? 

The romance: Sorry. I didn’t like the romance. Perhaps this is just me with all (straight) romance but I just–didn’t like it. That’s all I have to say. I feel like Morris was just way too ‘IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou.” I don’t need to hear that he loves Ellie all the time, no matter how much it is true.

The ending (we’re covering it again): *Note: This is a spoiler-y part of the review. Do not read if you haven’t read the book*
Okay okay okay let’s see what I have to say about this ending.
First of all: I feel like the fact that Brixton was with the rebels would be more of a plot twist if we knew him better. Like he sort of just pops onto the scene after following Morris and Ellie across the continent, pretends to be on Orsa’s side for a bit and then suddenly, “Oh yeah I’m actually working with the rebels, bye Orsa.” Did even Morris know that Brixton was on his side? Because he seemed a little panicked that his brother was following him across the country. And then like…I dunno. It just seemed
Second: Imagine finding out that your favorite band wrote all their songs just for you. Like honestly I read that and just….wow, that wold be amazing. I wish.
Third: Did anyone ship Cecil and Alastor or was that me? I know, I know, it sounds weird. Cecil and Alastor only interacted about two times? And they were arguing one of those times. Also I’m pretty sure that Cecil and Rupert are dating. But still. Sorry, Rupert, but I think that Cecil and Alastor would be great together.
Fourth! I actually do not like books in which the book ends with the main characters leave earth. Yes, I have read a book in whihc this happens before. No, I will not tell you what it is, but it’s a pretty popular series. Anyways. I’m not entirely sure why I dislike it. It’s like…like the main characters are running away from their home? But not exactly that. I mean I think it’s just that they go through all this effort to save earth and then at the end of the book they just…leave. It’s extremely unsatisfying to me and it actually makes me like the book less.

Final ratings: (Out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Plot: 🌟 🌟 🌟🌟
Romance: 🌟 🌟
Diversity: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Final rating: 3.75 stars

Book Info:
Title: The Sound of Stars
Author: Alechia Dow
Published by: Inkyard Press on February 25, 2020
Genre: YA, science fiction, romance, LGBTQIAP+
Pages: 426 pages (depends on edition)

Have you read “The Sound of Stars”? Do you want to read it? What did you think of my review? I’d love to hear your opinion on the book, on my opinion and on the book’s opinion (wait. That doesn’t make sense…). Please put anything you want to say in the comments and I’m always happy to conduct a bookish discussion! Plus, make sure to check out some other blog posts that I offer!

Interview with TJ Klune, author of The Extraordinaries

My second book interview has finally arrived! I’m really excited for this one. I read “The Extraordinaries” a few months ago and loved it. This is, quite possibly, the funniest book I’ve ever read. I was literally laughing every single page.

Here’s a little more about the book:
Author: TJ Klune
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQIAP+,
Age suggestion (my opinion): 14+
Series: “The Extraordinaries” (3 books)
Other: “The Extraordinaries” is author TJ Klune’s YA debut. Book two comes out July 20, 2021

Unfortunately I did not have time to write a review of “The Extraordinaries”. Fortunately, you can read my (very short) goodreads review here and you can find the synopsis on goodreads here.

Anyways, why am I wasting your time by talking? Here’s the interview with TJ Klune about his YA debut “The Extraordinaries”!

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to become an author?  
A: When I was a kid! I carried around this notebook, filling it with stories I’d think up off the top of my head. They obviously weren’t very good (I started when I was six or seven), but even back then, I was already thinking about writing, and what I wanted to do with it. When I was in seventh grade, I had two amazing teachers who really pushed me to continue writing, and I’ve never forgotten their faith in me.

Q: The Extraordinaries is your YA debut. What made you decide to write a YA book and this book in particular?
A: I’d always been thinking about wanting to write a superhero book, given that I’m a huge nerd when it comes to comic books. It was nebulous, this thought, as story ideas sometimes are, but then I was talking with a friend and complaining about proper neurodiversity representation in fiction. I have ADHD, and it’s still so hard to find characters written by authors who either a) are neurodiverse themselves or b) actually do the research into what it means to have ADHD.
It kind of coalesced from there, and I knew I wanted to write about a sixteen year old kid with ADHD and his head stuck in the clouds, given his obsession with the superheroes in his city. This book was to give people like my–the neurodiverse–someone to root for, someone who thinks and talks and acts like they do, so they could see themselves in fiction. When I was sixteen, I didn’t have that kind of rep, or good and honest queer representation. While the latter has gotten much better as we near the end of 2020, I think we still have a ways to go before we’re there.

Q: Are any of the characters from The Extraordinaries based off of anyone?
A: Not really! I think it’s fair to say that authors pluck bits and pieces from authors (and themselves) and put that into the characters and/or stories that they right, and I certainly can say I do the same. But specific people with specific traits that’s a one-to-one representation of them? I try to avoid that. It feels…I don’t know. Weirdly invasive, but that’s just me.

Q: What did you learn while writing The Extraordinaries? How did you grow as an author and a person while writing it?
A: The best thing l learned was from all the research I had to do on fandom and fan fiction. A big part of The Extraordinaries is that Nick Bell, the main character, is the most popular writer in the Extraordinaries fandom. He writes barely-disguised self-insert fanfiction about the superhero he has a crush on.
Fan fiction gets such an undeserved bad rap. There’s a negative connotation behind it, suggesting that everything people write in fandoms is juvenile. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Is there bad fanfiction? Yes. But then there are bad books that are published by major publishers.
The biggest thing I learned is how fandom is a safe place for marginalized groups, many of whom are queer people who don’t get to see themselves in the canon books/movies/tv/whatever their writing about. So they write the stories 
they want to see. In addition to giving them the rep they deserve, fanfiction can also be a place where writers can figure out how to hone their creative voice. In researching the Extraordinaries, I read some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and it was in fanfiction.

Q: What was something or some things that helped you get through writing this book–a food, pet, advice, something else?
A: My dog helps quite a bit. When I’m stuck and facing writer’s block, or I’m not sure about what needs to happen next in a story, I’ll take Hendrix on a long walk through our neighborhood or at the park, and it allows me to have time away from a word document, to be able to clear my head and regain my focus.

Q: What can we expect from book two, Flash Fire? (No spoilers please)
A: Flash Fire is going to continue threads that started in the Extraordinaries, and will open up the world a bit. The Extraordinaries was always meant to feel a bit insular, with Nick’s extreme focus on trying to become a superhero. With the sequel, we see other Extraordinaries, and Nick and Seth and Jazz and Gibby will have to contend with what that means for them, their families, and Nova City. It’s bigger, badder, sexier (ish–Nick is still sort of a prude), and I’m so excited for people to see what comes next.

Q: What is some advice you have for aspiring authors?
A: One thing that bugs the crap out of me is when I here authors telling others that a “real” author writes every day. This is terrible advice. While some can write everyday, I’m not one of them. It’s important to learn your limits, and to accept the fact that some days, the words just won’t come. Though far and few between, those days can be rough, especially if you force yourself to try and write through it. You’ll only end up frustrating yourself, and could potentially lose sight of why you’re telling the story you are. If you do hit one of those walls, for the love of all that’s holy, take a damn break! It could be for an hour or a day or a week or a month, but don’t force it because the story won’t be like you want it to. If I ever hit those blocks and it looks like it’ll last a little longer than a day, I try and work on something else, to move my focus. Nine times out of ten, when I come back to the story that was giving me issues, I’ll see right away where I went wrong, and how to fix it.

Alright that’s the interview! I hope you enjoyed!

What did you think of this post? Have you read The Extraordinaries? Do you want to read the Extraordinaries? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

The Deception Book Giveaway

*Note: This giveaway is now closed. You are no longer able to participate. Look out for the next giveaway I offer! Interested in having a chance to get this book? Leave a comment and I’ll see if I can host another giveaway. (I make no promises)*

Okay! *claps hands together*. Welcome to my first ever book giveaway! I will be gifting one lucky person with a copy of the amazing book “The Deception”, by S. K. Way. Having read “The Deception” myself, I can promise you that this is definitely worth a read. Here’s a short synopsis:

Iris awakens on a strange world with no memory of what h as happened. She is brought before the Committee, the ruling party of the island, and informed that she will compete in a contest to replace the missing member of the Committee, going up against contestants chosen by the other Committee members. But as the contest progresses and she begins to notice secrets all around, she questions everything she was taught about the world she’s stuck in. There are secrets lurking in the shadows and some of them may be better left untouched.

You can also find the blog post I made on my old blog here as well as the goodreads page for the book here.

Now, more about the giveaway.

First thing you should know: formats to receive this book in are .mobi, .epub and .pdf
For those who do not know, .mobi files work very well on kindle.

  • The giveaway is already up and running and will continue to do so until October 31, giving you plenty of time to vote
  • You must fill out all fields (name and email) to be considered
  • You do not have to use your real name, just one that you might go by. However, the email is a field that you must fill out with your real email because that is how I will reach you if you win
  • I promise that your email will not be shared in any way, shape or form
  • When you enter the giveaway, please at least consider following my blog. This is not required, but on my blog you could find all of more giveaways in the future, short stories, blog posts about reading and writing, author interviews and book reviews!
  • The only forms to get this book in are .mobi, .epub and .pdf For those who do not know, .mobi files work very well on kindle.

Want to enter the giveaway? Click on the link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A few more things: I have seen that some bloggers require people entering the book giveaway to follow their blog. Now, I will not do that because it seems that requiring that people follow my blog in particular scares people off (I’ve tried all the techniques to get followers and none have worked!). However, I do ask that you at least look around my blog and consider following it because I have a whole bunch of amazing content with barely anyone to see it! (but the people who read my blog are the bestest so thank you).

If you have questions about the book giveaway, please ask in the comments! Thanks everyone!

Even After Death

This is the first short story that I will post on my blog! Now, because it is the halloween season I figured I’d go a little ghosty, dark, mysterious…not that it’s very spooky or anything. Anyways, this is going to be the first part of a short story….no, I haven’t written the other parts so I have no idea how long it will be at the end but probably one, two or three more posts. I’m not sure.

All work is produced by me and is my work alone. Do not steal or copy any of my work. All characters are products of my imagination unless otherwise stated.

Without further ado, “Even After Death.”

Today is the first day that the old lady has actually reacted to me in any way, shape or form.

She’s been here for a while and when I say here, I mean here. The same place, on the corner of Autumn and Rose. She has arrived by the time I wake up every day and doesn’t leave until after I go to sleep. Or maybe she doesn’t leave at all. But because I know that everyone has to survive on something I know that that can’t be true.

Every single day she just stands there, watching. Her heels dig into the soil of the flower gardens that Mrs. Rethelson planted several years back when her husband died from cancer and I keep expecting the widow to come out and yell at her–the flower gardens are her pride and joy–but she never does even when she comes out to tend to the blooms.

I have an underlying suspicion that the lady’s eyes are following me. 

But that can’t be right. Why me? Why in this house of fifteen children, two parents, three dogs and a cat and a whole staff of servants? Why would I be of any interest in this old lady? I…I am nobody.

But today, when I’m out in the yards with Lettuce, my favorite of the dogs, I swear that she winks at me.

Lettuce turns and barks at the old lady, loudly and fiercely, and the two begin a staring contest. The woman’s mouth is pressed into a flat line and her wispy hair flies this way and that, struggling to escape from the hood that’s pulled over her head. I wish she’d take the hood off. I wish I were able to see her face a little more clearly.

I sigh and turn back to playing fetch with Lettuce.

The door to the house opens and my younger half-brother comes tumbling out, along with the two other dogs, Bacon and Tomato. The two race each other down the steps to the yard–really I should say three because Jackson valiantly tries to keep up–and practically barrel into me in their haste to get to Lettuce. I drop the slobber-covered ball I had been just about to throw and let the dogs fight over it. It vanishes into a pile that is part teeth, part fluff and mostly slobber.

“Mommy says that you need to get inside and get cleaned up for the party,” Jackson tells me, still not having broken out of the habit of calling his mother ‘mommy’ despite the fact that he’s nine years old.

I suppress another sigh and turn to our sprawling house. “Tell Katarine that I’ll be there in a minute.”

“But-”

“-Or I’ll tell her that it was you who ate that chocolate she was looking for,” I talk over him.

He swallows and runs inside as fast as he came out.

I take a deep breath and, in a moment of recklessness, cross the street to where the old lady waits, her arms crossed over her chest and her foot tapping. I bite my lip–she’s impatient, but for what? It’s not like she told me to be here or something. 

“He’s been waiting for a while, Senna.”

“Who’s Senna?” I ask softly. The name sounds familiar but…I can’t place it. Where do I know it from.

Her fingers close around my arm. They’re cold and send shivers up my spine but I can’t back away. Something seems to be holding me here and I don’t know what.

“You, my dear. You are S–” she’s broken off as someone rams into us wildly, jostling her hand from my arm and pushing her to the ground. I gasp in surprise, breathing deeply as if I’ve been underwater for a long time. I didn’t even realize I’d stopped breathing. I rub my arm where the lady was holding it. It stings and the cold feeling remains even though the sun shines down on me as strong as ever. In front of me, the lady is struggling to get up and a tall girl stands over her.

“Leave her alone, Aunty Mortem. You can’t take her,” the girl says. She holds something in her hand–a necklace, which she brandishes at the old lady. The amulet on the string glows faintly and the lady cries out in pain. “I said, leave her alone!” 

“You cannot hide her from me forever, Mors Fur! She will come eventually.”

“Not if I can help it.” The girl not so much speaks as snarls. Her dark brown hair practically trembles as she throws the necklace at the lady, who shrieks and seems to dissolve into the sidewalk, one moment there, the next gone. The necklace clatters to the concrete. The cold feeling up my spine vanishes.

“Hey,” the girl says, bending down to pick up the necklace. I’m finally able to get a good look at her. She’s a few inches taller than me, with hair so dark it’s almost black tied up in a ponytail. Her skin is a golden brown color and her eyes are even darker than her hair so that it looks like she doesn’t even have irises–only pupils. 

I might make a little squeaking sound in the back of my throat as she walks towards me with the necklace–I’m not sure. She holds the amulet out to me and I back away. Why is she giving me this? What is it? And what did it do to the lady.”

“Senna, please–” she thrusts it towards me again. “Take it. It will protect you.”

That’s the second time I’ve heard the name Senna today. Who are they? And why…why does everyone think it’s me? I’m not Senna. I’m…I’m…no. 

I can’t remember my own name. 

I look up at the girl, my eyes darting down to the necklace before looking up at her again. “I don’t know what’s going on.” She bites her lip. “Explain to me now or I’ll run away and tell everyone that you killed an old lady.”

Her eyes widen and grow watery as if she’s about to cry. The necklace falls to the ground and she falls to her knees beside it. “Senna…” she whispers. “You really don’t remember?”

“Remember what?” I ask sharply. “And why do you keep calling me that? That’s not my name.” I don’t tell her that I have no idea what my name really is.

She claps a hand over her mouth. “That is your name. Your name is Senna. It’s been too long already, you’re losing it. You’re losing your memories.”

“What memories?” 

“The memories of your death.” I think a tear trickles down her cheek but I can’t feel sure. It’s only after I watch the drop that might be a tear or might be rain–though the sky is perfectly clear–that I comprehend her words.

“My…my death?” I must have heard wrong. I’m not dead, I’m standing right here. And ghosts aren’t real.

‘Yes, Senna. Your death.”

I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m dead. The words beat through my head, rising and falling like a wave on a beach.

I’m dead.

And then everything goes black.

To be continued…