The Beauty That Remains: A Review

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

My Rating: 5/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 4/10 Stars it’s pretty, but I don’t think it really takes any elements of the story into consideration. The colors are nice, but it’s a sort of typical cover that screams contemporary if nothing else. Definitely not my style. I think there could have been a better cover that incorporated the story better.

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Publish Date: March 6th, 2018

Number of Pages: 352 pages

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Opening Sentence: “I just saw you yesterday.”

Musings:

The Beauty That Remains was an emotionally tough read for me. It was heartbreaking, angry, hopeful, and uplifting. It was a storm of every single feeling grief brings. This novel made my soul ache.

What I Loved:

Diversity! Diversity! Diversity! This is a diverse book that no one should miss! Diverse in both poc and featuring an lgbt Mc it’s rich in telling a great story with diverse characters. (Let’s not forget the mental health reps!) #ownvoices

Grief that is helped to heal with music. I love that this story uses music as the thing that binds all the characters together and helps them find healing. It’s one of those things that is refreshing when often romantic relationships and other things are the usual things that are used for healing sadness or grief.

Each person’s grief was unique. The loss of the twin was very different from the loss of a lover which was also very different from the loss of a close friend. Every person had a different guilt and dealt with their emotions in their own way. Some of their stories were harder for me to read about Shay’s because it was breaking me. Logan because of his guilt and the fact that he was in love with a guy who caused him so much pain.

Everything rings true. This was such a difficult read because the story was so well written. The characters were living and breathing and hurting so deeply. It was all so vivid.

The relationships. Friendship, family, even the relationship between the crowd and the band were all shining points of this novel. Everything was brilliantly thought out.

Final thoughts:

I could go on forever about this book and I just want to share it with the world! The only warning I would give is for those going through grief of their own or dealing with depression to read with caution. It’s gorgeous and wonderful, but it cuts deep.

About the Author:

Hi! I’m Ashley.

I graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in English, and since I’ve been obsessed with books for as long as I can remember, I wiggled my way into the publishing industry.  Currently, I’m a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and my day job is marketing books for children and teens.

In my “spare” time, I fangirl over my favorite authors and try my hardest to write contemporary YA that’ll make you cry.

Indie movies, beer, books, and burgers are a few of my favorite things, and I live in Brooklyn with my cute husband and my cuter pit bull puppy, Winnie.

My debut young adult novel, THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS, from Random House Children’s books is available now wherever books are sold.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

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The ABC book challenge: It’s absolutely Fabulous!

Another day another chance to keep on moving forward with the ABC book challenge! This time we’re taking a look at books featuring the “f” and oddly enough I’m being taken back to my Sesame Street Days.

Memorable books that start with “F”:

Fire

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

Fire is one of the best fantasies I have ever read! I love this book and I will recommend it always!

Fairest

In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has-a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince – and a dangerous new queen. In this masterful novel filled with humour, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.

This was the adorable fantasy I needed in childhood. I read it in my teens and I enjoyed it immensely.

Books I would love to devour that start with “F”:

Fresh Ink

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

I am very excited to see this anthology out in the world! I have an arc that I hope to read very soon! It’s one of the coolest books I’ve seen around in a long time!

Falling Kingdoms

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

I’ve heard so many good things about this series for so long! I would love to finally get my hands on a copy to read.

Thanks for reading! Have you participated in this challenge? Leave your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

This Heart of Mine: A Review

This Heart of Mine by C. C. Hunter

My Rating: 5/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 3/10 Stars. It’s a nice minimalistic cover, but I think it’s too overly simple and a bit overdone as far as covers go. I don’t think it sells the essence of the novel the way it should. This book is an incredible mystery/contemporary that I love. I think the cover design could have been better.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish Date: February 27th, 2018

Number of Pages: 384

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living took more courage than dying?

Opening Sentence: “It’s over, Eric. Accept it. Let it go, would you?”

Musings:

This Heart of Mine stole a piece of my heart. I wasn’t expecting the emotions and the sadness I would feel as I reached the wonderful ending. It’s a story that blends contemporary and mystery in a seamless way that pulls your heart in all different directions from start to finish.

What I Loved:

Why it was written. I cried for a good half hour after the ending of this novel when I understood that this book came from a very real place. The best stories share a piece of our souls and that was what this was a piece of C.C. Hunter’s beautiful soul.

The depression is so real. Leah deals with some mental health issues in a way that comes off as really authentic. It’s something that is whisper in the back of her mind driving her to be her own antagonist in a very psychological way. I felt so deeply for her and her struggle and I could identify strongly with her anxious thoughts of what could go wrong even when things are starting to go right.

The Mystery. I LOVE that there was this thriller-esque element to the story that made me stress out wanting to know who killed Eric (or if Eric killed himself) and why. Some scenes are really creepy in a very real way and it reads very authentically and goes along well with the story.

The dreams. This sort of supernatural element of Leah having a connection with Eric because she now has his heart was really wonderful. Especially because there are stories on the internet of people suddenly liking different things and slight changes of behavior after a heart transplant. It was a very intriguing aspect to the novel.

Leah’s Doctor. The fact that Leah had an actual friendship with her doctor was an addition that made me smile. It added a nice layer to the novel that just added to its authenticity for me.

The fact that I feel like I can’t articulate the right words anymore. I love this book. I just want to talk about every little detail and shove it in peoples faces and just ask everyone to read it. I feel like I could talk about it for hours. I see every scene like a movie in my head.

Final thoughts:

This Heart of Mine is emotional, mysterious, evocative, and well-told. I highly recommend everyone to read it. It’s such a fabulous novel! It will steal the heart of every reader that goes to read it.

About the Author:

C. C. Hunter is the New York Times bestselling author of over thirty-five books, including her wildly popular Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls: After Dark series. In addition to winning numerous awards and rave reviews for her novels, C.C. is also a photojournalist, motivational speaker, and writing coach. In February 2018, Wednesday Books will publish her contemporary young adult and hardcover debut, This Heart of Mine. And the first book of her new paranormal young adult series, The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave was released on October 31st 2017. C. C. currently resides in Texas with her husband, junkyard dog, Lady, and whatever wild creatures that meander out from woods surrounding home.

C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym. Her real name is Christie Craig and she also writes humorous romantic suspense romance novels. www.christie-craig.com

C.C. would love to hear from you. Because of deadlines, it may take her a day or so to get back with you, but she will reply. cc@cchunterbooks.com

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Tess of the Road: A Review

Tess of the Toad by Rachel Hartman

My Rating: 3/5

Cover Rating: 10/10 I LOVE this cover. It’s illustrative, cool toned, and simply GORGEOUS! Plus it features a dragon! I could gush about this cover for ages.

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Publish Date: February 27th, 2018

Number of Pages: 544

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Award-winning Rachel Hartman’s newest YA is a tour de force and an exquisite fantasy for the #metoo movement.

“Tess of the Road is astonishing and perfect. It’s the most compassionate book I’ve read since George Eliot’s Middlemarch.” — NPR

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is. . . different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can’t seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she’s done is so disgraceful, she can’t even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess’s family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She’s not running away, she’s running towards something. What that something is, she doesn’t know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else–a life where she might belong.

Returning to the spellbinding world of the Southlands she created in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman explores self-reliance and redemption in this wholly original fantasy.

Four starred reviews!

“The world building is gorgeous, the creatures are vivid and Hartman is a masterful storyteller. Pick up this novel, and savor every page.” — Paste Magazine

Opening Sentence:

“When Tessie Dombegh was six and still irrepressible, she married her twin sister, Jeanne, in the courtyard of their childhood home.”

Musings:

Tess of the Road follows Tess’s journey on the road to finding herself and turning running away into running toward. There are parts of this novel I love and parts of this novel that frustrated me. However, despite all that, the core message of this novel resonated with me.

What I Loved:

Tess is a flawed human who is learning all the time. Not only is Tess flawed, but the novel gives the why. How she was raised made her think that she was worth dirt. She goes through life thinking that she was born evil. During the time she’s on the road and reflects over her past and what she wants finding happiness in the strength of her feet propelling herself forward. It’s something that inspires me. She changes.

Her friendship with Pathka. Pathka is a creature that Tess befriended when she was young. Pathka is also flawed, but somehow the way they lean on each other and help each other grow inspired me.

The World Serpent. I love magical creatures and I was so excited to see this particular creature living inside Tess of the Road. Especially after watching a play through of God of War.

Tess’s backstory. Our main characters backstory is harsh and unforgiving yet full of mischief. I honestly feel like the book could have been stronger if it’s entirety past and present showed that sort of struggle.

What I Didn’t Like:

The beginning. There was a lot of things about the pacing of the beginning that made me feel like I was slogging through the novel. It felt like nothing was happening and I felt bored.

The weird language. This might just be a me thing, but it went from really complicated words to cussing language pretty often and that through me off. It was like the Author was trying to smash together to appeal to new and older audiences and I wish she would have just chosen one.

Final thoughts:

Tess of the road has a message and ending that redeems its beginning. I really enjoyed parts of this novel and I wish I could have said it’s entirety was great.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Getting Free of my Netgalley TBR Pile

Netgalley. We all love it. It supports authors gives us the chance to read books for free and seeing all the shiny new titles on the site brings excitement in our bookworm hearts.

However, once you start using Netgalley it can get harder and harder to stop requesting every title you see. Books on your shelves become abandoned. The mountain of approvals becomes bigger and bigger until you can’t see the light anymore.

This became my nightmare especially when for a good while I was reading a book a day every single day for a few months. Naturally, this created a situation where I requested without guilt knowing I could read all these books on time, but then things changed. I started prioritizing myself, my writing, and getting healthy in mind and body. This meant that I couldn’t read so many books anymore. So it left me with a mountain of books to read and much less time to read them.

Right now my Netgalley tbr has become significantly smaller. I have 18 left to read. Once I crawl out from under this I will request fewer books and read a lot more books that are currently on my shelves. It’s been difficult and I’ve been slowly making progress for the past few months, but seeing my Netgalley percentage at 75% is incredibly encouraging.

After reading these remaining books and reviewing them I am going to feel some great freedom. But I am also going to discipline myself much more strictly by obtaining a maximum of 4 books at a time that must be complete before requesting again.

I hate that so many of these titles weren’t read on time. I won’t let that happen again. Plus, I have a whole world of books on my shelves to read. I want to feel pages in my hands again so that’s what I’m going to do.

Thanks for reading! what is your Netgalley pile like? Leave your struggles in the comments below.

-Till next time!

By a Charm and A Curse: A Review

By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 6/10 it is pretty, but not really my style. I love the lettering, but the background is a little hard to make out and I just wish this had a little bit better of a design.

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Publish Date: February 6th, 2018

Number of Pages: 300

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

A kiss is never just a kiss.

Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Opening Sentence: “Apologies to the people who love it here, but Claremore, Oklahoma, might actually be a circle of hell.”

Musings:

The lore of the circus will never stop reeling me in. It has never failed me. It doesn’t fail me here. By a Charm and a Curse is magical, unexpectedly heart pounding, and full of the promise of love.

What I Loved:

An honest description of what it would like to be a tin man. I hadn’t thought about how the tin man from the wizard of oz would actually feel like. Being metal and hard and lacking warmth especially with the lack of heartbeat. Living through the mind of someone experiencing that sort of lacking bodily is intense and so achingly sad. It makes me see the tin man in a totally different light.

Crazy brothers. There is a set of brothers in this novel that do some intense acrobatics because they are protected by the charm and can’t get hurt. I don’t like them, but boy do I wish I could see them in action in real life.

A question of morality. Passing on the Curse takes a person completely away from their family and life before to live the life of a cold and almost dead doll like thing. Would you pass on a Curse like this if it was the only way to be free of it? Or would you live with it if only so others could be free?

A protective mother. The mother of the boy Emmaline falls for is as protective of him as my mother is of me. That is a rare gem in a novel and I am all the happier for it.

It’s a carnival. What more could I want from a novel then for it to be set in the mystique of a carnival. No matter what there is always some beautiful description to behold and that’s all part of what I love so much about this novel!

Final thoughts:

By a charm and a Curse will make you think twice before you go kissing that guy you just met a few hours ago. It’s a magical adventure that all Circus lovers will come to enjoy!

About the Author:

Jaime Questell is a writer and graphic designer from Houston, Texas. She has also been a bookseller, a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and an administrative assistant. None of these jobs involved wrangling corgis, which is quite sad. She lives in the ‘burbs with her husband, children, very anxious dog, one surly cat, and one recently acquired cojack, which is what happens when a corgi and Jack Russell terrier combine to make doggy magic.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

A Month in the making: My current WIP

I don’t really have the words for the kind of progress and changes I have made in my life recently. For so long, everything the world threw at me was a block. All I could think was it is useless so why even try. Or even when I try something happens, things don’t work out and I go backwards more often then I move forward.

My mental health was terrible. My heart was in a state of torment and every little thing became a dead forest growing in my mind. I could not give myself to my words because my mind was not ok. I wasn’t happy. Even now my mental health is rocky at times, but the point here is that instead of letting my thoughts win over I am giving myself to action.

I started writing my first draft of my current fantasy WIP on May 31st of this year with 6,000 words having already been written. (I had tried creating a different first draft, but I changed a whole bunch of stuff and rebooted it). Today on July 8th, 2018 about a month and a week later i have 20,000 words and a hold on my story that I never thought I would have.

For the first time in my life I sit and think to myself “yeah I think I can do this”. On May 31st I gave myself 3 months to write my first draft and in the first month I wrote more then I ever had and even though I feel a little behind (especially because I had very sucky days during that time where I didn’t write at all) I also feel like what I want to achieve is possible.

The weird thing is that at 20,000 words I still feel like my story has just begun. I realized that 50k is probably not going to be anywhere really close to the amount of words this novel will eventually have and that’s ok. I also learned that (at least for fantasy) I am an extreme underwriter with a lot of scenes needing more description and fleshing out to feel truly right.

I created a character who has gone through her life like I have and sees her mistakes as mental blocks and feels a bit empty, yet still tries and I made her personal to me. I came up with a new p.o.v with a character born with good intention, but goes bad after seeing far too many bad things and giving into it out of a different sort of good intention. I have a friend character who is funny, but sometimes goes a little bit to far, but only to lighten up hard situations. The characters in this book are so unique and different in my head and I love them all for different reasons.

I never thought I would write a book I wanted to read so badly. The fact that it came from the simple concept of having a soulmate book where the couple wasn’t actually awful to each other and had a healthy relationship is incredible to me. What stemmed from that is so much more then that. It’s magical, sad, hopeful, and at times… tragic (also has cool pets). It isn’t perfect. I don’t even think that it is good yet, but I can see what it could be.

I don’t know where the story will be a month from now. I don’t know how it will evolve. All I know is that the me that thought I could never write a fantasy novel is happy to realize that it was always possible. The me that couldn’t help writing contemporary scenes is happy that I decided that the first real try at a novel was for a fantasy. I’m not sure that if I wrote a contemporary first if I would have ever found the confidence to go for a fantasy, but now I feel like I could write for all the genres I love and that all those stories will be written.

I hope I never loose the excitement for stories that I feel right now. I love my characters. I love them and I let them live through terror and hurt, but I always.. always give them hope. The stories I love don’t stray from life’s ugly moments and my books won’t either. But in life there is beauty too and so I won’t forget to give happiness along the way.

I hope that as time moves forward that my writing only gets better. That I only tell stories that I would give 5 stars to. Right now, my fantasy is at a 3 star, but has 5 star potential. I am going to keep shining out my story till it is the best that it can be.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

The ABC Book Challenge: books are Everything

It’s been a short while since I last did a letter for the ABC Book Challenge and I’m excited to move forward with the letter “E”.

Memorable Book’s that start with “E”:

Eon/Eona

Swordplay, dragon magic–and a hero with a desperate secret

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.

I LOVE this duology! They have such lush storytelling and are full of great adventure.

Eyes Like Stars

All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.

She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.

She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.

That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARDSEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book, an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family, and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

When I first read this book years ago I loved it. Filled with magic and theatre. I couldn’t get enough. I want this book back on my shelves someday.

Books I’d love to read that start with the letter “E”:

Every Day

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone A wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Ever since I first heard about this I loved the concept! What would it be like to continually switch bodies and fall in love?

Escaping from Houdini

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

So excited for the third installment in one of my favorite series ever! I’m anxiously awaiting its release and I know I will devour it as soon as it comes to my hands.

Thanks so much for reading! What books do you love that start with the letter “E”?

-Till next time!

The Book of Pearl: A Review

The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 7/10 I really like this cover! I like the old fairytale feel to it that really matches the essence of the book inside. I also like how a lot of the things pictured are like little things in the book. It’s a really great representation of The Book of Pearl.

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publish Date: February 6th, 2018

Number of Pages: 368 pages

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

In prose as magical and intricate as the tale it tells, Timothée de Fombelle delivers an unforgettable story of a first love that defines a lifetime.

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

Opening Sentence: “Who could have guessed that she used to be a fairy?”

Musings:

This was a pleasant book of magic that really made me feel like I was a little girl dreaming about fairies again. It had those hints of magic and a sad lost love that was beautifully described and often tragic. Even though it read like a fairytale it was also unique enough that I felt like I was reading a brand new tale of lore and history and that always makes me happy.

What I Loved:

The meeting of two worlds. I love how things would leak into circulation in the regular world to find Joshua as an item of proof. I think I love that idea so much because it makes me think the ‘what if our world was truly touching another that was magical like what we dream about?’ It makes me believe the other world could really be true.

The suitcases. There is something of a dragon like curiosity that lights up in me when I think about the idea of a whole wall filled floor to ceiling with suitcases that all contain all sorts of treasures. It’s even more magical to think of a man doing his best to travel with all of them always with him.

Fairies! Who doesn’t love a good story about fairies? It’s one of the most beautiful mythical creatures that brings joy to so many peoples hearts!

Tragedy. Because of everyone’s individual agendas Joshua and his fairy love are separated throughout the novel destined not to be together. It’s like Romeo and Juliet but even better because everyone is alive, but torn apart by circumstance.

Innocence. I don’t know why, but this book has this really innocent essence to it that I really enjoy. The wants and dreams are so pure and I just want to hug all the characters.

Final Thoughts:

The Book or Pearl is a really light and enjoyable novel that makes you want to dream. Seeing through the eyes of a child is probably the best way to read this pure novel. It’s a fantasy the kid in you would truly appreciate.

About the Author:

As a child…

Timothee de Fombelle was born in the heart of Paris in 1973, but often accompanied his architect father on his travels to Africa. Each summer his family left for the countryside (the west of France), where the five brothers and sisters lived like wild horses, making huts in the trees, playing in the river and losing themselves in the woods. In the evening they performed plays for their parents and devoured the books in the library. Childhood remains for him the lost paradise which he re-discovers through writing.

As an adult…

After becoming a literature teacher, Timothee taught in Paris and Vietnam before choosing the bohemian life of the theatre. Author of a dozen plays, he writes, designs, builds sets and directs the actress he admires the most, his wife Laetitia. They have a young daughter, Jeanne Elisha, who already loves climbing trees. Toby Alone is his first novel and has already been translated into 22 languages.

As an artist…

Passionate about books and theatre, Timothee has been writing since he was young. The stage has been his testing ground but it is life, with its joys and trials, which inspires his real work. A great traveller, Timothee recognises that the writing of Toby Alone has been his best journey so far.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

First Drafts and A New Perspective

So I know I’ve been talking a lot about writing on this blog recently, but honestly I have no regrets. To have the thing that I had been so fearful of be something I now find myself being dedicated to is incredible.

The most important thing that got me back into writing was the idea of writing a first draft in three months, not looking at it for at least a month, and being able to revise and rewrite later.

The first idea came from Stephen King “The first draft of a book — even a long one — should take no more than three months, the length of a season,” I thought about all the authors I knew that had books that took years for them to write and then others that also wrote fast first drafts. It forced me to choose what kind of writer I wanted to be. So I choose the three month draft.

I figured that there is no reason for me to spend months and months at a time just thinking and dreaming about the ideas for stories I wanted to write. In fact that did a whole lot of nothing for me. (Except that I know have a huge list of ideas that has over twenty ideas in great detail. While more come all the time).

I wanted to be the kind of writer that writes everyday without fail. The kind that puts out book after book and they are all unique yet give meaning of their own. So making that deadline and telling myself with no BS that I’m going to write a first draft in 3 months was huge. I wasn’t sure I believed I could commit to it until last night. Last night I reached 19,000 words. More then I had ever written for any novel before (and with so much story left to tell). I wasn’t sure if I would ever get past 10,000 words for any novel. Plus it was at 19,000 words that I finally felt like I had the true beginnings of a novel shaped thing and a real and mostly solid story to tell.

The point of not looking at a draft for at least a month came from another author I had been watching on YouTube Kim Chance. She would talk about just getting words out and leaving them alone for a while till you could come back to them with a fresh set of eyes.

In truth, I took these pieces of advice and transformed them into the best ways I felt I could use them, by giving myself a chance to stagger the books I wanted to write and making it so that I’m never not drafting or editing (which so far is going great for me!). Combining these things there is no reason for me not to have a first draft available every three months. Plus my first draft gets written while only writing 30 min. To an hour everyday and it makes it so I can manage other projects simultaneously. Both pieces of advice have become one to create my new way of writing.

The last piece of advice came from many authors all over the place. The idea that the first draft is just the bones of the story. It doesn’t have to be perfect because your figuring things out. This was a huge change in perspective because I was always editing and reworking as I went and I wanted everything perfect immediately, but honestly I never got anywhere that way. Learning that it’s ok to write badly so that you can make it stronger later gave me a sense of happiness and writing my first draft of my first novel now has become a much easier and better process for it.

Because of all this my fantasy novel that once read like a contemporary has found its world. I finally figured out what tense I wanted to write in after switching between first person past and present like someone flicking lights rapidly and not stopping. I added a second p.o.v. that I absolutely adore! I figured out for sure how magic works in my story. Plus a much better sense of what direction I want the story to go. Of course it needs work and even by the end I will have something even more different from what I have now, but I am happy because I have a process. Plus enough story to tell to truly make a novel.

Thanks for reading! What is your writing process like? I’m curious to see what all the other writers out there have to say about their own writing Journey’s.

Till next time!