Writing Wednesday – Pilot Episode

I think I want to add this new segment in to just give updates on my writing and to hear from anyone else.

I’m currently in the middle of editing my YA fairy tale retelling. It is absolute torture. I keep having to stop to research things I should have looked up during the #amwriting process. Because of this, my mind gets distracted. So it’s been 40% actual work and 60% Twitter perusing.

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Things I had to research this week so far:

  • How to skin a pig
  • Butchering a pig
  • Stream vs creek vs river
  • Repeating firearms
  • Types of cheese in 1800s America

Seems random, but I swear it’s relevant.

Aspiring authors, what are you currently writing and where are you in the process? We have to stick together and motivate one another!

 

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“A Fierce and Subtle Poison” Reviewed

A Fierce and Subtle Poison was my first approved ARC from NetGalley! So, thank you, Algonquin Young Screenshot 2016-03-27 20.19.20Readers, for deeming me worthy to review this book. Without further ado, here is my (honest) review.

Synopsis: Lucas Knight spends his summers on the island of Puerto Rico. For years, he’s heard the stories the señoras tell about the house at the end of Calle Sol. Some believe the scientist who lives there has a daughter with green skin and grass hair. Some believe there’s a curse on that house. Some believe his wife committed suicide and placed the curse over the house. Regardless, there is something strange about that house, and this year, Lucas is about to find out why.

When I first started this book, by Samantha Mabry, I didn’t like Lucas. He seemed like a player. But I warmed up to him as the story developed. He’s just a horny boy, and that’s his not fault. He’s actually really sweet and daring.

There was something in the plot that disappointed me (which I won’t disclose due to spoilers), but something else soon made up for it with the story heading in another direction. At some point, I couldn’t put the book down and I NEEDED to know what came next. The mystery was too much for me not to know what was going to happen. But…I was not a huge fan of the ending. As someone tackling a manuscript right now, I give props to Samantha for writing what she felt right, though I would have liked to see it end differently.

I absolutely loved that this book took place in Puerto Rico, because my grandparents (and best book friend) live there. And it’s always fun when English-written books add in foreign words . It didn’t make a difference that these words weren’t very foreign to me, I still appreciated that aspect. Isabel was another thing that I loved. Everything about her was wonderful. She is the epitome of fierce.

If you’re looking for magical realism, this book is a pretty good choice. A Fierce and Subtle Poison will be sold in bookstores beginning April 12, 2016.

Samantha gets 3.75 out of 5 stars.

“The Skylighter” Reviewed

I decided to request The Skylighter (the sequel to The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace) from NetGalley, and Simon and Schuster image.jpegChildren’s Publishing approved my request! (The second ARC I’ve been granted. WOO!) So, without further ado, here is my honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis: Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.
As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.
And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?
With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.

The book picks up exactly whee we left off in the first book. (Thank the Keepers!)

The Skylighter felt so much more fast paced than the first. A LOT of action, which is wonderful, because I’m always enthralled when things are happening. I hardly ever put the book down (only when I had to).

I enjoyed every last bit of the plot, hence why it took me only a couple of days to read. The one thing that bothered me was the title of the book. I know that sounds like it has nothing to do with the plot, but let me explain why it did for me. I kept expecting a Skylighter, a new character, to be introduced and heavily influence the plot. The first one had a majorly important Storyspinner, so it made sense for a Skylighter to be important for the second book. Yeah…well that didn’t happen. I was disappointed with that. I just waited for a Skylighter to show up, so it distracted me in the back of my mind.

As far as characters go, there’s a good amount of Pira. Her perspective is crucial in this book. I didn’t see her as important for the story as a whole in the first, but this book needed Pira. And she’s not a character I dislike reading about. She is just as strong as in the last book. Johanna and Rafi were still wonderful. Dom–my book boyfriend–had a chance to grow so much more in this book and we are able to see the complexities in his character. It just made me feel more in love with him. Jacaré fell a bit flat for me, because everyone was growing, but he didn’t do much changing.

Overall, this was a great end to The Keepers’ Chronicles duology. It ties up all the loose ends nicely and makes you feel connected to most of the characters. The Skylighter will be available for purchase on March 22, 2016, and you’ll want to see how this series ends!

Becky earns a 4.5 out of 5 stars!

A Wonderfully Spun Story by Becky Wallace

The Storyspinner had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, and I finally picked it up. I went in blindly, not really knowing what the book was about. It turned out to be a Screenshot 2016-03-13 18.05.09pleasant surprise.

Synopsis: Johanna Von Arlo has lived as a Performer her entire life. She can sing and Storyspin. She suddenly finds herself working for the tough, albeit handsome, Rafael DeSilva, the soon-to-be duke of Santiago.
At the same time, over the wall separating the land of Santarem, the Keepers, a magical race of people,  have
been keeping an eye on the princess of the fallen Roraima for years, but something is wrong and their magical image has frozen. A small group of Keepers is resolved to search for the princess and keep her safe.

This book is split into many perspectives. That caught me off guard because when it first changed, I thought, “Okay, so two main characters. Cool.” But then it kept changing! To six different people! (That’s my fault for going in knowing absolutely nothing.) Leão (as wonderful a character as he was) didn’t feel as necessary as the other perspectives though. He didn’t add as much to the story as everyone else did, but I will admit I liked learning more about his feelings.

Johanna, the leading lady of the story, reminded me a lot of Feyre from Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses. Both of them are such strong and complex characters. That’s not to say that Pira isn’t also a strong character; I just didn’t feel as connected to her as I did with Johanna.

Rafi, Jacaré, and Dom were all great guys. I have a thing for witty and funny characters, so I declare Dom as another one of my book boyfriends. Rafi and Jacaré are both very similar: strong, patriotic, thoughtful. I didn’t really find any faults with them except that Rafi felt like a younger version of Jacaré. Their personalities were just REALLY close to each other in my opinion.

For the sake of spoilers, I’ll just say the plot is intriguing. Becky created a new world with a deep history. (Some of the past events were confusing for me at times though. I couldn’t get the timeline straight.) The Performers’ Camp is the coolest part of the setting. I did not like the extreme cliffhanger the story ended on! It was waaaaayyy too abrupt! (When I say I didn’t like it, I mean that it was torture to do that to readers. Have you no mercy, Becky?!)

This was a pretty interesting read. Becky gets 4.75 out of 5 stars!

 

“Wolf by Wolf” Reviewed

I am so happy that Mariam (@mariamthekid), one of the bloggers over at Flying Through Fiction, decided to host the Wolf by Wolf Read-Along because it means I got to push the book up on my TBR pile. And it was my first read along! YAY!

Synopsis: Yael survived Hitler’s concentration camp, but she lost friends and family along the imageway. Now, 1956, it’s time to get revenge and kill Hitler. But in order to do that, she needs to impersonate Adele Wolfe in the Axis motor race. And win.

I fawned over this book while fearing it as well. A world where Hitler still exists absolutely terrifies me. I’m Jewish, so I feel like I wouldn’t be safe in Yael’s world, even though most of it takes place after the Holocaust, especially because I’m not as tough as she is. It makes me much more appreciative of the life I live.

The book was split into “before” and “after” sections. All of the “before” parts gave me chills, and the “after” parts were super intriguing.

I enjoyed reading about almost all of the characters. I just didn’t connect with Aaron-Klaus or Vlad. I could have done without their involvement. I understand these people influenced Yael’s character development, but they just didn’t pop for me like the others.

Romance is definitely NOT a major aspect of this book, though Ryan seemed to set the stage to up the romance for the sequel. I wouldn’t consider there to be a love triangle, because of the conintual emphasis placed on Felix as a brother, but I ship Felix with Yael nonetheless. I don’t care if I’m the only one. He is so sweet and deserves love!

Speaking of love, I fell in love with Ryan Graudin’s writing style. (This doesn’t surprise me because I saw her at the Miami Book Fair International and she spoke so eloquently.) She uses a lot of short sentences and fragments, and I think that’s very brave of her to go with what she felt was right. And I think it was executed well. I read a few passages aloud just to hear how the staccato-ness would sound, and I think this book would read wonderfully as an audiobook. Another thing I noticed with the writing that stuck out to me was her descriptions with color. I could actually see everything clearly in my head. It just sounded so beautiful (or beautifully horrendous, depending on the scene). Bonus: I also learned some German words. I can now successfully curse in German: Schiesse!

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(From left to right) Me, my sister, and Ryan

Ryan constructed a killer plot. (Makes sense given that the whole point of the story is to kill someone.) There’s such a strong message about coming to terms with your identity, right and wrong and the gray bits in between, and individuality. It really resonated with me, and I’m sure it (will) resonate(s) with others as well. Also: OH MAN, PLOT TWIST/MINI-CLIFFHANGER AT THE END. I totally did not see it coming.

This book gets 4.75 out of 5 stars.

Mourning the End of “Six of Crows”

I have to thank my wonderful friend Melanie (who blogs over at One Less Lonely Blog) for six-of-crows-cover-bardugosending me Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, as a holiday present. She had already gotten me into the Grisha world before, so it made sense that she would be the one who took me back to that universe.

If I’m being completely honest, I read the first chapter and thought: Ehhhh. Melanie LOVED/LOVES this book and past-me was totally feeling doubtful I was going to love it, too (and of course I didn’t want to disappoint my friend). Little did past-me know, the following chapters would take me into a glorious whirlwind adventure. In no time, my feelings went from :/ to 😀 !

Synopsis: Kaz, an infamous gang member, is approached to take on an impossible heist: break into the impenetrable Ice Court and retrieve a valuable prisoner. The offer on the table is high, and Kaz can’t refuse. He rallies his own team: the spy, the trigger-happy boy, the Grisha, the stoic convict, and the new kid on the block. Together, they attempt to make the impossible possible, without going to prison or getting killed.

This is going to be a very short review because the book left me speechless.

Characters: Complex and so real. The chapters switch between character perspectives and each one was impeccable. (Nikolai was missing unfortunately, but I get that it’s not his story. If I want him, I’ll have to go back to Shadow and Bone.)
Setting: Back in the Grisha world, so no problems there. I’m convinced I can visit Ketterdam in the real world if I wanted.
Plot: Freaking genius. You want a heist, you’ve got a heist, but don’t think it will be an easy task. Lots of action and spine-tingling goodness coming your way.
Writing: Stunning. (I wish I could write so flawlessly.)
Aesthetics: I’m drooling over this book. The jacket cover is beautiful. The maps (yes, plural) are so helpful. The actual book is so cool, with elegant black page edges all around. Seriously, if you want to buy the book, you’re missing out if you opt for an e-version.

This book gets one star for each of its main characters: 6 out of 5 stars. Can I do that? Oh well, I did.

What are you doing still here? Go read this book! You NEED it in your life, you just don’t know it yet! If you’ve already read this book, did you devour it like I did?