Top 5 Wednesday: Monsters

I’m feeling like a blog post, and it’s still Wednesday for a few more hours, at least here on the West Coast. And that means that it’s “Top 5 Wednesday” and this week’s topic is “monsters.” So, let’s talk monsters!

I don’t read (or watch) a lot of scary stuff because I don’t like to be creeped out, but sometimes a really good monster is a good addition to an otherwise light and fluffy story.

Here, in no particular order, are my top 5 monsters:

  1. The Dementors from Harry Potter. Those things are freaky. As far as fictional monsters go, I think they may be pretty much perfect. The kind of damage they do to a person is pretty miserable, and the way you get rid of them is pretty awesome. Plus, chocolate. ’nuff said.
  2. The Gentlemen from season 4 episode 10 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is possibly my favorite Buffy episode. It’s definitely in my top 5, at least. I love to watch this one at Halloween because it’s so scary. And funny. And really well acted. And the Gentlemen are terrifying.
  3. AIDAN from the Illuminae Files series. He’ll be the first to tell you, he’s a monster. But, oh such a complex monster. He’s very hard to hate. But he is pretty creepy.
  4. The Stone Eaters from the Broken Earth trilogy. They’re not all bad, but I think they qualify as monsters. I mean, they eat human flesh, but only after it turns to stone from using the obelisks…Which some of them are trying to get the humans to use to destroy the Earth. So…yeah, probably monsters. But incredibly cool and unique monsters.
  5. Shelob, the giant spider from Lord of the Rings. Ugh. Spiders freak me out enough. I do not need them to be that large or that scary. No thank you.

There you go. What cool monster(s) did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

September Reading Recap and NaNoWriMo Prep

September flew by. I read some books. I wrote a lot of words. I got the first book in my “Modern Fae” series ready to publish. I also finished the first draft of a prequel novella in that series. Oh, and it was my husband’s birthday. Phew.

Here’s what I read in September:

I started off the month with a re-read of The House With a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs. This book was one of my favorites as a kid. However, on my re-read, I’m not entirely sure why I liked it so much. The mystery is pretty weak, and there’s a lot of name calling. Plus I didn’t really like the main character. I know I read a LOT of books by John Bellairs as a kid. This is likely the first one I read, but maybe it wasn’t my favorite? Unless my tastes have changed enormously in the past thirty years (maybe, but I don’t think so), I honestly can’t figure out why I remember liking this book. Oh well. I’m still interested in seeing what they do with the movie.

After that disappointment — seriously, I hate it when a childhood favorite doesn’t live up to the memory — I read From Twinkle, With Love. This was another really cute book by the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. This author does adorable heart-warming teen romance between smart, passionate girls and sweet cinnamon roll boys better than any other YA author I’ve read. This is one of those books you read with a dopey grin on your face. I liked her first book a little better than this one, but only because I think the heroine’s character arc gets a bit muddled at points in this book. But this is still a really fun read, and I recommend it if you liked Dimple and Rishi.

While I was waiting for my library hold on Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake, I read the second novella in this series, The Oracle Queen. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this novella, but it happened to come off hold, so I thought I’d give it a try. Boy am I glad I did. This is a really good novella, especially if you’re already into this series. I didn’t know why I should care about the Oracle Queens after the first two books. You’re always hearing that there aren’t any more because this one when crazy. Then, in this novella, you read what really happened, and you’re like, woah. I won’t spoil it, but I can’t wait to see how this plays into future books. But…if this doesn’t change the game in some way, I’m going to be very disappointed.

After that, I dove into The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This new contemporary romance has been getting all the hype. After reading it, I think that hype is justified. The book features a heroine with high-functioning autism who hires an escort to teach her how to be in a relationship. (Note: this is also written by a woman with high-functioning autism, and I’m all about #OwnVoices.) It’s kind of a reverse Pretty Woman, but only at a very basic level. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heroine like this before in any book, and I have to say, it’s refreshing. I really liked Stella. At times I also got really annoyed with Stella. I plowed through this book up until it got to “the black moment” with the obligatory break-up scene near the end of the book. When it got to that part, I closed my Kindle. It took a few days to get back to it because I was so frustrated and disappointed with how that scene was handled. Everything else about this book felt fresh and awesome, but that last bit, from the dark moment to the end, wasn’t as satisfying for me. I still highly, highly recommend this book. I still gave it five stars. I just thought things got a little out of character at the end there.

This month, I just scored a bunch more new releases from my library (Seafire ! Two Dark Reigns ! Yay!). This has been a big digital library loan year for me, and that’s throwing off my reading plans a bit. But it reminds me…if your library let’s you recommend books to buy, would you mind requesting that they add my book (Eve of the Fae by E. Menozzi)? It should be available on Overdrive, and I would love it if people could borrow my book from the library, because libraries are awesome and not everyone has budget to buy books.

Now that the book launch is over, I was planning on spending some quality time reading my pre-order of Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I think I’m still going to, but first I need to catch up on my NaNoWriMo prep. Plus I’m trying to finish up two short writing projects that I want to get done before November. My new plan is to carve out a chunk of “do not disturb” time in the next few weeks, because I have been waiting for that book for a long time, and I want to savor it.

Speaking of savoring…I hope you are all enjoying the fall! (Or spring, if you’re in the northern hemisphere.) For me, fall means “back to school,” which as an adult, translates into reading and writing. In case you can’t tell, I’m already getting excited for NaNoWriMo next month. If you’re also planning on joining this fun writing challenge in November, I’ve posted a link to a bunch of resources I like over on this page. I’ll probably also do a post on my bullet journal writing tracker once I’ve got that set up.

Until then, happy October and happy reading, everyone!

Call for ARC reviewers

Since you read my blog, you probably have similar tastes in books to me. Or maybe you’re one of my friends. Or my mom (hi, Mom!).

Perhaps you also have a blog of your own, or review books on Goodreads. If so, maybe you might be interested in getting your hands on a (free) advanced reader copy (ARC) of my book (Eve of the Fae) that’s coming out in a few weeks (10/2/2018) in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested, please fill out this form to let me know. If you’re not sure, you can click here to read the blurb and see if it sounds like something you might like to read, then fill out the form if you’re interested.

I’m not picky about number of followers, or anything like that. I really just want to make sure that people who might like this book find it. So, if you want to help me get the word out, all you have to do is ask. I plan to respond to all requests.

August reading recap and new books

I think summer is officially over, and I’m totally okay with that. Fall weather is my jam. It’s chilly in the morning and the evening, and I can finally wear sweaters again! Plus, the “back to school” vibe has me wanting to write and read and curl up with a cup of tea while I do both. I love fall.

What I read in August

I started off the month devouring One Dark Throne and The Young Queens by Kendare Blake. These are the second book and a prequel novella, respectively, in the Three Dark Thrones series I was gushing about last month. I’m still in love with this series. The world-building is great. I love the characters. The plot is twisting in interesting directions. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. Luckily, the next book comes out on the 4th of September. (So soon! I can’t wait!) And, it looks like there’s going to be another (4th) book to come, according to Goodreads. I may not be able to drop everything to read Two Dark Thrones right away, but I’m definitely planning to get to it before the end of the year.

After I finished those books, I took a short reading break. I may have had a tiny book hangover because there were a few books I was hoping to get into, but I just wasn’t in the mood for any of them. After reading several first pages of novels on my Kindle, I tried The Falconer by Elizabeth May. This book is like a Victorian era, steampunk Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except with fae instead of vampires and demons. I like the concept, but I’m sort of hit and miss on both Victorian and Steampunk, and this one ended up more miss than hit with me for some reason. It was a good, entertaining read, but I just wasn’t in love with the characters in the way that other fans of this series seem to be. Unfortunately, the plot didn’t really engage me, and I was super disappointed by the love triangle and the primary love interest. I probably won’t be continuing with this series, but I do recommend checking it out if you like the premise.

Then I got my hold notification from the library for A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole. I wasn’t necessarily going to read this right away because I wasn’t super invested in wanting to read Portia’s story, but then I read that the hero is a grumpy Scottish sword maker, and I was in. Boy am I glad that I picked this up. This book is pretty much a master class in slow burn romance. Plus, it turns out that I really like Portia after all. Who knew? There’s more in her character that I can relate to than I realized. In A Princess in Theory she’s just painted as an irresponsible party girl, but there’s a lot more to it then that. The party girl stuff is just her way of dealing with a bunch of underlying issues. Which leads me to the other thing I loved about this book. The character arcs in this novel are fantastic. There’s just so much to learn from here. The story is really entertaining, but from a craft perspective, I was blown away. The only quibble I’d make is that the ending feels rushed. But, it’s definitely an excellent follow-up to the first book in the series. You don’t technically have to read A Princess in Theory to enjoy this one, but why wouldn’t you? It’s really good.

This month, I’m planning to read another second book / sequel / companion novel that I have checked out from the library, From Twinkle With Love. This is by Sandhya Menon, the same author who wrote When Dimple Met Rishi. I’m also planning on doing a re-read of a book I loved as a kid that is being turned into a movie. Yep, that’s right. The House With A Clock in its Walls. I am pretty sure I read every single John Bellairs book as a kid, but I don’t really remember the content of any of them. So, I’m looking forward to trying to remember / figure out what exactly it was that younger me loved about these books.

I need to do a lot of writing in September in order to stick to my plan for when I want to have my next book out. But there are SO MANY new books coming out this fall that I am dying to read. Check this out:

Seriously. So much goodness. When am I going to find time to read all these, plus the books already on my Kindle, plus my physical TBR stack, plus write? Not to mention, half of these are the next book in a series that I already love! How can I resist? The answer is, that I must. At least until I get some writing done. Luckily, these books are going to make great rewards for hitting my word count goals!

Let me know if you’re planning on picking up any of the new releases above, especially Light Years, or Skyward, or Phoenix Unbound. Those are the three I know the least about.

  • Light Years is by Kass Morgan, who wrote The 100, which I haven’t read. But I love the TV show (I’ve been catching up on season 5 now that it’s on Netflix).
  • Phoenix Unbound is a new series by Grace Draven. I’ve read her first book, Radiance, and it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. I have book 2 in that series, but I haven’t read it yet. This new one looks promising, as well.
  • Skyward is by Brandon Sanderson and is maybe his first sci-fi book. Don’t quote me on that. I’m embarrassed to admit, given how I’m a big fan of the Writing Excuses podcast and epic fantasy, that I’ve never read anything by him. This new series of his me hooked with space pilot school, but I’m concerned that it’s going to live up to the idea I have of it in my head.

Anyway, if you read any of those before I do, please let me know what you think. I’ll be over here in my writing cave (aka favorite window seat), trying to write all the words. Send productive vibes. And dark chocolate.

Book announcement, cover reveal, and release date!

And now we will interrupt my usual reading-related posts for an important writing announcement…

Eeek! My book has a cover and a launch date! Check it out!

The cover was designed by Elizabeth Mackey. I think she did a fantastic job, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Definitely check out her other work on her website. She’s designed a lot of excellent covers.

I’m almost done making all my final changes to the manuscript. Which means…I have scheduled a launch date!

Mark your calendars. The release date for Eve of the Fae will be the 2nd of October! Pre-orders should be live on Amazon very soon. I’ll update this post with a link and post an announcement on social media once everything is live. (UPDATE: Pre-order here.)

So, make sure you’re following me on Twitter and/or Instagram and watch for that post. Plus, if you want access to be the first to know about book news, plus get exclusive giveaways, you should definitely sign up for my newsletter.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’re probably wondering why you’d want to subscribe to my newsletter. First thing you should know is, the newsletter is not the same content as the blog. This blog is primarily for talking about what I’m reading, random posts about my adventures in bullet journaling, and general life updates. Newsletter subscribers get exclusive updates on my writing projects, plus book recommendations, behind-the-scenes book info, and other content that I don’t share on the blog or on social media. Similar to the blog, I send emails once a month. I promise not to spam you with promo junk.

If newsletters aren’t your jam, I’ll also be posting book news on my Facebook Page. Please like and follow that page for announcements and other fun stuff.

And, since launches deserve celebration, I’m planning a virtual launch event! It will probably be via YouTube so you don’t have to be on social media to participate. I’ll probably do a Q&A and maybe even a reading. I’ll post details closer to the launch.

Now we will return to our reading-related posts…Stay tuned for my August reading update. 🙂

July Reading Recap and Epic Fantasy Book Recommendations

July was an action packed month filled with travel, vacations, friends, writing workshops, the beginning of a new writing project, a return to healthy eating (haha), and lots and lots of reading! Yay!

Here’s what I read in July:

This month started with Tome Topple. I decided my first Tome would be The Tiger’s Daugher by K. Arsenault Rivera, and oh boy. As you may already know if you read my “Mid-Year Book Freakout” post, this is my favorite book I read so far this year. The world-building is excellent. I loved the characters. The framing of the story (mostly told through a massive letter written by one woman to her best friend / love) made me want to go back and re-read the beginning as soon as I finished the last page. There is so much detail in those opening pages that takes on even more meaning once you’ve read the end. If you like epic fantasy, but you want something other than the usual medieval-based stuff, definitely check this out. It’s not getting near enough buzz considering how good it is.

After that, I dove into The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. This is not Tessa’s first book, but it’s the first book I’ve read by her. You may remember that I attended a Madcap Retreat a while back where she was one of the organizers / instructors and was blown away by her awesomeness. I’ve been eagerly waiting to read this book for over a year, and it did not disappoint. I haven’t read King Lear, so I can’t speak to the retelling aspects of this story, but again, if you like epic fantasy, especially Game of Thrones type stuff, but think it would be even better if it was almost exclusively about the badass ladies and if there was a lot more magic and witchy vibes, then you definitely, definitely, need to read this book.

On the last day of my vacation (basically, on the very long trip across the country to home), I managed to squeeze in what I thought was the last book in the Adirondack mystery series I’ve been reading for years now. Unfortunately, Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer Fleming ends on a cliffhanger and there is no sign of if/when the series might continue. Even more unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this book. So, I think I’m done with this series, whether or not it continues. If you have a recommendation for a similar series (contemporary small town romantic mystery / suspense), please let me know. This is not a genre I’m very familiar with, but I think I’d like to read more. Bonus points to you if you have a recommendation that is written by an author of color.

I returned from vacation only to repack and get back on the road, this time to the annual RWA Conference in Denver, CO. For that trip, I decided to listen to the final book in the Court of Fives series, Buried Heart by Kate Elliott. Maybe you are super sick of hearing me gush about this series, but too bad! This series finale was so good! It was everything I wanted it to be and more that I didn’t even know that I wanted. But yeah, please read this series if you like YA fantasy along the lines of Ember in the Ashes and The Winner’s Curse (but even better than those, IMO).

Then, as though I hadn’t had enough epic fantasy this month, I finally read Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake! This book has been on my Kindle forever. It is one of two YA fantasy books that released in 2016 that I have been trying to get around to reading because now both series are almost complete (the other is The Queen of Blood). Three Dark Crowns sounded like a five star read for me from the moment I read the blurb, and it definitely delivered. Sometimes, when you write books, you read a book and you think, “Damn, I wish I wrote that.” This was one of those books. It’s exactly the kind of YA fantasy that I love to read (and want to write). This is also true about the Court of Fives series. So, check this one out if you haven’t already, because I’m about to devour the rest of the series, and you’ll probably be hearing about it a lot in the coming months.

Finally, I found out that Sherry Thomas has a short story in her Lady Sherlock series called Charlotte Holmes and the Locked Box. You can find it here, if you’re interested in getting a free taste of this series. It’s very short (6 pages), and I don’t think reading it will really spoil anything if you haven’t read the first book in the series. But, it will give you an idea of the voice / tone of the novels if you’re curious and haven’t been able to get the first one from your library. Reading a six page, free short story shouldn’t really count toward my reading goal, but whatever. I’m including it because I love this series.

I’ve been trying not to do TBRs, but I currently have three books on my Kindle from my library that will disappear if I take my Kindle off airplane mode. This is a problem because I just purchased a bunch of new ebooks on sale, plus I have some upcoming new releases pre-ordered. So, I really have to read/finish these three books in August so that I can get my new books onto my Kindle. Luckily, I have one last family vacation coming up that should allow me some quality lakeside reading time. Expect to hear more about those books next month.

I hope you are enjoying the last bit of summer (or winter) and that you have some excellent books to read. Until next post, Happy Reading!