Tag Archives: young adult

ARC: Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Diamond City debuted January 28th.

I requested an ARC for Diamond City because I’m a Sarah J. Maas fan, and (flawed though it may be) I think the conflicted lady assassin trope is pretty fun. The first chapter or two of Diamond City started in an okay spot, but it unfortunately went swiftly downhill from there. Where Maas was able to make her main character assassin mostly work, Flores unfortunately flounders; the MC in this book often wonders things like, Would my parents be proud of me even though I kill people for a living? or Do you think this cute boy and I might have a romantic future even though I tried to kill his older brother?

As people funnier than me have said, the short answer to both these questions is no. The longer answer is noooooooooo.

I just can’t buy the main character. She’s a badass assassin, but she’s deathly afraid of spiders, opts for knives over guns, and spares key characters’ lives at multiple points in the book. It’s an issue I often see with these types of killer characters: they’re supposed to be oh-so-hardcore, but the author can’t let the characters be their brutal selves on the page because it will turn off readers.

But even beyond the characters, I couldn’t find much to recommend this book. The world-building is a confusing mishmash of heritages and cultures that were difficult to keep straight, all with a vague backdrop of an outlawed religion and magic system that places heavy importance on diamonds–diamonds which are traded at high price on the black market, but actually there are oodles of them around. (???) The language of the book, too, did not help matters; the fight scenes especially were wooden and very “this happened, then this, then this”–not good for a book about assassins where there’s bound to be a lot of fighting. There’s also not much of an artistic or lyrical quality to the prose, and I found myself predicting plot points at every turn, so… without compelling characters, beautiful language, a riveting plot, or engaging world-building, I really came up empty on this book. I do feel bad about the poor review for this debut author, but Diamond City is in need of significant revision and critique.

Chapter Twenty-Seven of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The twenty-seventh chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or on Wattpad.

This past week I’ve been crawling my way out of a reading slump. Nothing of what I’ve been reading has really grabbed me, and I think that lack of forward momentum, combined with a knowledge that I have to get through these books because they’re ARCs, has just dragged down my mood in terms of all things books. I find it so much easier to write when I’m reading something great–anyone else with me? Good books just get my creative juices flowing.

I’ve been working on adding texture to my Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP these past couple weeks. That oddly involves a lot of details about plants, which is hard because I’m not a plant person. My mom, though, has a very green thumb, so I’m lucky enough to have an expert just a text away to answer such questions as, How long does it take tomatoes to grow from seed to a stage where you can eat them?, or, How many black bean bushes do you need to plant for a one-person crop? Yes, I really do need the answers to these questions for my book about aliens; you’ll see how it all comes together in the end. Thanks, Mom. XD

I also need a copy of the 1971 edition of The Anarchist Cookbook, for research purposes. Yup, that book.

Anyway, I’m going to head off and get some work done on my WIP. Hope everyone’s having a great weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-Seven. โค

Chapter Twenty-Six of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The twenty-sixth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or on Wattpad.

Work (the real, boring kind) has been the theme of the past couple weeks. It’s the busy season at my job, and I’m just happy to get home every day and curl up with my dog, a glass of wine, and season three of True Blood. So I won’t say I’m off my game exactly, but I’m just kind of waiting out the days at this point until things calm down again work-wise and my creative well refills.

Nevertheless, my WIP is still ever on my mind, and I was really happy this past week that my husband took a look at my last few chapters and gave me some much needed feedback. My writing process and writing brain both work really well with an alpha reader, and my husband just so happens to be an excellent one; he’s forever finding the plot holes in TV shows and picking apart character motivations. It means we’re not True Blood buddies (alas), but that’s a small price to pay for having a strong manuscript. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, I’m going to try to get some drafting done. Hope everyone’s having a great weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-Six. โค

Chapter Twenty-Five of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The twenty-fifth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad.

These past couple weeks have been slow writing- and blog-wise, just due to Christmas and lots of time with friends and family. I’m chugging away at drafting as best I can, but I’ll admit that I’ve been making very slow progress. Regardless, I’m still looking at hopefully getting my first draft of the Beauty and the Beast and Aliens book complete by sometime in February.

For any writers out there, I also want to give a quick shout-out to the Six Figure Authors podcast, which I’ve been enjoying a lot in the last couple weeks. Their last episode featured an in-depth interview with Dean Wesley Smith, who had some really fantastic, unique advice about (not) editing, and the podcast before was just one revelation after the next about selling direct. I do sell direct already from my website, by the way, so if you’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of Specter and you want a little more cash going directly to me, please consider purchasing the book through my store!

I’m also working hard on getting my end of 2019 posts ready; I’m waiting until January to get them up because I do have the sense I’m still going to be finishing a book or two in the next couple days and I want all my stats to be accurate! I love seeing everyone else’s year end posts–best ofs, worst ofs, and everything in between. I think I’m also going to do a “state of the blog/business” post, with some New Year’s resolutions as well. I’ve always enjoyed setting New Year’s resolutions, even if my follow-through is only halfway there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, hope everyone’s having a great weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-Five. โค

ARC: A Violet Fire by Kelsey Quick

Big note at the beginning of this review is that not only did I receive an ARC of A Violet Fire for a free and honest review by the author, but that Kelsey Quick and I have become author buddies along the way! I helped her with some of the late-stage editing of AVF, provided cover feedback, and we also talk shop about author stuff. So this review is biased fo sho! But I still wanted to get up a review. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had tons of fun reading A Violet Fire. Anyone who’s spent time around these parts knows I’m a big vampire fan, and A Violet Fire was just the right strain of different to keep me glued to the page. I loved the world-building; save for The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I didn’t entirely get along with, I’ve never read a vampire book where vampires have taken over the world. The premise here is simple and makes for great romantic power dynamics: vampires in this universe own humans like cattle, and our human MC, Wavorly, is a blood supply unit of hot vampire bad boy Zein. Yeah, it sounds a little fucked up on paper, but if you’re like me and love a Beauty and the Beast backbone, then this is a book to put on your list.

Quick has a voice for YA, and the book moves swiftly. It does have a first book feel; by that I mean that you can tell it’s gone through a lot of editing and has some patches, but I don’t really deduct for that since every author has a first book. It was all the little touches I enjoyed most: Wavorly’s friendships, the way she uses French to her advantage, her insistence on human dignity, the dark and lush imagery. Reading AVF is kind of like eating candy; the two are nothing alike story-wise, but I was reminded of the momentum I felt when I read The Selection a few years back. It’s just fun.

I’m excited for the sequel to AVF, which I believe is slated for release next year. Vampires are back in YA, thank the lord! And a big congratulations to Kelsey again; as I said in my interview with her, I’ve never seen an indie author put so much effort into a release, and I admire her as a fellow author businesswoman. I will definitely be reading book two.

Chapter Twenty-Four of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The twenty-fourth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad.

These past couple weeks I’ve been continuing drafting my Beauty and the Beast and Aliens book (which now has a mock-up cover, oooh).

The title and cover will be changing, of course, but I just wanted to get a placeholder up on the blog so people know it’s coming. Getting the title right is going to be tricky, since I’m pretty positive this is going to be a series, so the title needs to have a specific word or cadence that can be used for books to come. Oh well, I’ll figure it out in time, hopefully. I was lucky enough with Specter to know straightaway what the title would be, though The Gold in the Dark took some work, and I was never completely satisfied with it if I’m being honest.

Drafting is going well; I’m slower after NaNo, but that’s also a ’tis the season type of thing with Christmas coming up. I keep having great ideas for this book/series, and that makes me very excited for things to come.

I’m also beginning work on my end-of-year posts, like an analysis of my 2019 reading habits, the books I want to read most from my TBR next year, my goals as a writer next year, etc. I’m finding that a lot of my TBR picks for 2019 were not actually books I got around to reading, even though this year I’ve read more than any year past by far! I think a good portion of that is down to me by-and-large abandoning reading fantasy; for the second year in a row I’m not really feeling fantasy for whatever reason. I’ll probably explore that more fully in my upcoming posts.

Anyway, hope everyone’s having a great weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-Four. โค

Chapter Twenty-Three of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The twenty-third chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad!

In writing news, NaNo is over!!! I was writing up until just a few minutes before midnight; I still came a little short of my goal (21k), but I still managed to hit 18.5k, which is still a very good writing month for me. That puts me at what I’m thinking will be the halfway point (35k) for my Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP–hard to say though, because who can tell how long it will end up being. I have a spidey sense that it will be a bit shorter than my previous books, but that’s just guesswork on my part.

This next week I’m going to be picking up all the other pieces of my writing life: blogging, Instagram, ARCs, Goodreads updates, etc. All that’s been terribly neglected in this NaNo push, and I don’t want everyone on social to take my radio silence as a sign that I’ve perished. ๐Ÿ˜›

Hmm, maybe I should also real quick jot down what I learned this NaNo so I have a historical record. First off, I’ve learned that my stamina doesn’t necessarily die after a couple hours of butt-in-chair time. I do have the capability of writing for eight plus hours and achieving a 1000+ word day. (That might sound ridiculous to some faster writers out there, but I am sloooooooow, and I do a lot of editing as I go, so more than a thousand words is a great day.)

I’ve also learned that I like letting other people know about my NaNo goals! I used to be pretty secretive about my writing life, but now I share it with the world. XD It’s pretty cool to go into work and have my coworkers ask me about my word count–I found it to be really motivating, since I didn’t want to be all “Oh, I’m doing this thing, but actually I’m slacking off on that thing, so just forget I said anything.” Nobody wants to be that guy. Gal. You catch my drift.

Lastly, I learned that getting out of my house to write really is the key for me. I wrote everywhere this month: many multiple coffee shops, a couple different libraries, work (sorry, boss!), an AirBnb writers’ retreat with my friends, on a Thanksgiving trip (another shout out to my amazing friends and husband who didn’t give a fig that I was desperately typing words while they were duking it out on Smash Bros).

Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up here. I’ve missed being present in this space, so expect way more posts for me in the run-up to Christmas. (Yay, Christmas!) Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-Three. โค

Chapter Twenty-Two of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

The twenty-second chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad!

First, I just want to give a quick update that Specter is still free on NetGalley right now. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to keep it up on NetGalley through the end of the year, but still not sure about that, so I’d grab a copy while you can! It’s also free on Kobo through the end of today. I’m curious–does anyone use Kobo as an alternative to buying ebooks through Amazon? I know it’s big in Canada; the majority of my sales through Kobo are from Canadians.

In writing updates, my NaNo’ing has been less than stellar this past week. One of my region’s municipal liaisons sent out a little note at the start of the second week reminding everyone to buckle in because the second week is always the toughest, and man, was she right. Not that I’ve gotten nothing done, but I’ve just had a couple little things happen personally that have sapped my energy. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to get a decent amount done, and I have to keep reminding myself that a decent amount is way better than a negligible amount, which was my output prior to November. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Looking ahead to this next week, I’m excited–I’ve taken three days off work to relax and get some writing done, so I have a five-day (!) weekend coming up. ๐Ÿ˜€ Could not be more thrilled. Maybe I’ll also get the PDF/EPUB/MOBI packet up for the first part of The Gold in the Dark; I’ve only been promising that for, oh, months?

Anyway, I’d better wrap this up so I can get back to my NaNo words. Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-Two. โค

ARC: Hart & Seoul by Kristen Burnham

Thank you to NetGalley and Mascot Books for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review.ย Hart & Seoulย debuted June 4th.

I’m digging all the Korean- and K-pop-themed YA recently; this is the first of them that I’ve read, but I have a whole slew of them on my TBR. I used to be a big K-pop fan back in middle and high school–ya know, a hundred years ago or thereabouts–so it tickles me pink that everyone’s feeling the Korea love nowadays. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, Hart & Seoul is a cute, fast read that is not without its flaws. I enjoyed the MC’s voice, and I especially liked the banter between her and her K-pop star love interest. The details about the K-pop super fans were tons of fun, and I was so craving Korean food by the middle of this book that I had to make a pit stop at Bonchon on the way home from work.

However, I had some difficulties with this book. First off, I initially had a hard time placing Hart & Seoul as a YA book; for some reason I was getting the impression that it was New Adult from the first chapter, then had to walk back the age of the MC in my mind by a couple years. I also found all the plot twists very predictable, most of them by at least fifty pages. Reading was still enjoyable, but I was forever waiting for the very obvious other shoe to drop. I also wasn’t satisfied with the love interest’s explanations for some of his behavior at the end of the book. His words seemed cheap–no spoilers, but I wouldn’t keep dating this guy. Of course, I’m also a thirty-year-old lady, so I’m not exactly smack dab in the middle of this book’s target audience. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I think if you’re into the K-pop scene or interested in Korean culture then you should really consider reading this book. I had fun with it, but that’s fun** with a couple asterisks attached. Now let me wrap up this review quick, before I start craving Korean barbecue again. ๐Ÿ˜€

Chapter Twenty-One of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The twenty-first chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and many times earlier)! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad!

First just a quick FYI that Specter is once again free on NetGalley through the end of the month, as well as free on Kobo through the end of today. Not to sound like a #ad, but Kobo is a great ebook distributor for anyone who’s leery of the Amazon juggernaut. This post is in no way sponsored, I just love Kobo to pieces and will keep shouting it from the rooftops.

These past few days have felt so festive because it’s the start of NaNoWriMo! I love how it feels like the entire bookish community comes together in November; even if people aren’t participating in NaNo, everyone’s still cheering all the participants on.

I’m so into this year’s steampunkish NaNo design; I’m going to try to pick up some swag. Also, I’m on track with my words. (On track with my own slower pace, that is–I’m trying for 21k this month, not the full 50k.) For anyone participating, my number one tip is to go to as many meet-ups as possible. That’s how I got to know all my writer friends, and it’s so motivating to be in that supportive, butt-in-chair environment.

Anyway, I have to get back to my NaNo words. (Literally writing this real quick at the start of a meet-up, shame on me!) Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twenty-One. โค