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!

Mid-year Book Freakout Tag

This post is what happens when I’m supposed to be writing my newsletter, but instead start watching BookTube videos and see a new tag video. In this case, you can thank Thoughts on Tomes because her video inspired me to write up my responses to the “Mid-year Book Freakout Tag.”

Questions and responses:

  1. Best book I’ve read so far this year:
    • The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera — I loved the setting and the world building. I loved the framing of the story, starting in present day and flashing back to the past for long stretches written as a letter from one woman to another. I loved the ending. When I finished it, I immediately wanted to go back and start reading it over again. Luckily, there’s a prequel coming out later this year.
  2. Best sequel I’ve read so far this year:
    • The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin — No surprise here. Excellent ending to a fantastic series. My fingers are crossed that she wins the Hugo for best novel for this one as well.
  3. New release I haven’t read yet:
    • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton — I pre-ordered this, but for a variety of reasons, haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I will definitely be reading this before the end of the year.
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:
    • Vengeful by V. E. Schwab — Vicious is, hands down, my favorite book by Victoria Schwab. So, when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I may have squealed and flailed a bit. I’ve had Vengeful on pre-order for months. Of all the new releases coming out in the second half of this year, this is the one I’m most likely to drop everything to read immediately.
  5. Biggest disappointment so far this year:
    • Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming — If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that this book is part of a series of mysteries that take place in the Adirondacks. I’ve been reading one per year for the past few years on my annual vacation to “Camp” in the Adirondacks. I thought this one was the last in the series, but the ending appears to be a cliffhanger, leaving room for more. The weird thing is, this book was published in 2013, and it’s unclear if there will be any more books in this series, despite the ending. I’ve really enjoyed many of the books in this series, but this one, for a variety of reasons including what I felt were inconsistent characterizations and the previously mentioned cliffhanger ending, left me incredibly disappointed.
  6. Biggest surprise so far this year:
    • Definitely how much I enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I listened to this on audiobook, which is about 47 hours long. It’s a LONG book. And initially, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. But the more I listened, the more I enjoyed it. So, yeah. This is the book that most surprised me so far this year.
  7. Favorite new (or new-to-me) author:
    • Kate Elliott — I finally got around to reading her Court of Fives series, and woah. It’s so good. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for new books by her.
  8. Newest fictional crush:
    • I rarely swoon over fictional characters, so I’m not sure how to answer this one. The first character that came to mind was Murderbot. From the first sentence of All Systems Red by Martha Wells, I was instantly charmed by this genderless security android that doesn’t really want to be around humans. It’s not really a crush, but Murderbot has certainly carved out a warm little corner of my heart.
  9. Newest favorite fictional character:
    • Hands down favorite so far this year is Charlotte Holmes from the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. I may go so far as to say that I like this version of Sherlock even better than BBC Sherlock.
  10. Book that made you cry:
    • The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh — Which I listened to on audiobook and which made me cry when I was listening to a certain part at the end while eating breakfast at work. Only slightly embarrassing.
  11. Book that made you happy:
    • A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole — I have a weak spot for “I didn’t know I was a princess” stories. I especially like “I’m a scientist, and I didn’t know I was a princess” stories. This book is so charming and lovely, I think I grinned my way through most of it. Now I have a paperback copy that I can shove into the hands of all my friends so they can also enjoy it. Plus book two is coming out later this year.
  12. Favorite book to movie adaptation:
    • A Wrinkle in Time — Okay, so this was also the only book to movie adaptation that I’ve watched this year, and I have mixed feelings about the storytelling in the movie version. However, the cinematography and the cast were outstanding. Regardless of what I (an adult) think of the movie, I’ve heard that the target audience (middle graders) are loving it, and that’s all that matters to me.
  13. Favorite blog post I’ve done so far this year:
  14. Most beautiful book I’ve bought or been given so far this year:
    • Oh man. I already talked about how much I love the new covers for the Amberlough series. They are so pretty!
  15. Books I need to read before the end of the year:
    • First off, I really want to do a full re-read of Megan Whalen Turner’s series, starting with The Thief, so that I can finally read Thick as Thieves in preparation for book 6 that’s coming out next year. Yay!!! I love this series. If you like secondary world fantasy and haven’t read it yet, get on it. You won’t regret it.
    • Then there are the “next in the series” books that I haven’t read yet and need to: Our Dark Duet, Raven Stratagem, Armistice, and Obsidio.
    • Finally there are the “first in a series” books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while now but haven’t started: Leviathan Wakes, The Queen of Blood, and The Falconer.
    • I expect all of these will be “five star reads” (or re-reads, as the case may be) for me, with the exception of Our Dark Duet which I’ve heard isn’t as good as This Savage Song.

I’ve spent WAY too long assembling this post with all the cover photos, etc. I suppose I should get back to writing my newsletter now. If you’re interested in hearing about the RWA conference I just returned from and/or want to know more about the adult contemporary fantasy book series I’m launching this fall, you should subscribe to my monthly newsletter updates. Subscribers will get cool stuff like freebies, giveaways, and swag. You can sign up here.

Stay tuned for my July reading recap. Until then, happy reading!

June recap and mid-year book stats

We’re at the mid-way point for this year, and I’m off to Camp (aka: vacation with friends) to dive deep into my Tome Topple reads. While I do that, here’s a short post to share what I read in June and my mid-year book stats.

I finally got around to seeing why everyone is talking about “Murderbot.” The first book I read this month was All Systems Red by Martha Wells. I really liked the voice in this novella. It had me hooked from the opening paragraph. I also enjoyed the story, but I’m not sure if I’ll keep going with the series. It was really fun, and I highly recommend it. The ending isn’t really a cliff-hanger, but leaves things open so there can be more. Since I’m just okay with the ending as-is, I’ll probably leave this series for a while and come back to read the rest later.

I decided to pick up another novella after that, this time Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor, the third in this series. I liked it, but I definitely enjoyed the first two more than this one. I’ve never connected well with Binti as a character, instead what I like most about these novellas is the unique world building.

I’ve been slowly working my way through John Scalzi’s Don’t Live For Your Obituary for several months now. If you’ve been reading his blog from the beginning you can probably skip this because it’s just a compilation of his blog posts on writing. I’ve only been reading Whatever for a couple of years, so a lot of these short essays are new to me. It was a nice antidote to the Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn, another book I’ve been slowly working my way through but finally finished this month. My main frustration with Scalzi’s essay collection was the excess of typos. Usually typos don’t bug me, but there were too many to ignore. I really hope the publisher fixes them and updates the book at some point.

Meanwhile, Indie Author Survival Guide, while really useful as a starting place for research purposes, even though it’s a few years old at this point, is somehow no longer available. I checked the author’s website to see if there was any reason posted, but I can’t find anything. So that’s odd. Maybe she’s making a new edition because this one is three years old? Maybe she’s decided it no longer fits her brand? Who knows. I get the sense that a lot has changed since she wrote this, even the second edition that I read. But, I think it still provides a good overview of how indie (self) publishing works and the main things you need to consider along the way.

I’ve also been reading some short stories. I got a copy of Robots Vs. Fairies for my birthday. I’ve been reading a few stories here and there, over several weeks. That’s the benefit of short stories, I guess. They’re short enough that you can read one while you’re having your morning tea and then get on with your day. I’m definitely team fairy, but the arguments for team robot were very convincing.

But, speaking of robots, the last book I read this month was Head On by John Scalzi. This is the sequel to Lock In. Things I love about this series: it’s a sci-fi buddy cop mystery series set in the near future, and the world building is really well done. Plus, it’s Scalzi, so it’s a super fast and fun read with good banter. I really enjoyed it.

Mid-year book stats:

  • So far this year, I’ve read 31 books. That’s 62% of my annual goal of 50 books. I’m very ahead of schedule, but I will not be increasing my annual goal.
  • Not counting in-progress books, that’s a total of 6,518 pages read, equating to about 326 pages per book, on average.
  • Nearly all of the books I read were fiction (28 total) vs. non-fiction (3 total).
  • Only 8 of the books I read were published this year (new releases). The rest were “backlist” (published prior to 2018).
  • Nearly all of the books I read were written by female-identifying authors (28 total) vs. male-identifying authors (4 total). The collection of short stories (Robots Vs. Fairies) had a nearly even mix of both, so I counted it in both categories.
  • 35% of the books I read were written by authors of color.
  • So far, I’ve read mostly in digital (17 books) and audio (11 books) vs. print (3 books).
  • Genre split pretty evenly across sci-fi (8 book), fantasy (9 books), realistic (6 books), and romance (7 books) with 2 mystery books as outliers (the first two books in the Charlotte Holmes series). Note: I counted Robots Vs. Fairies in both sci-fi and fantasy.
  • And oddly enough, so far this year I’m skewing heavily toward adult books (23 total) vs. YA (8 total). This is usually more evenly split between adult and YA.

We’ll see how this changes or stays the same in the second half of this year. (If you want to see my stats from 2017, that post is here.)

Now it’s time for some vacation and Tome Topple. Still trying to decide what book will be first… If you want in progress updates or to jump in and buddy read with me, come say hi on Twitter (@emenozzi).

Until next post, happy reading!

Serendipitous #TomeTopple Timing — Summer Vacation Edition

I just found out that the 6th round of “Tome Topple” (hosted by one of my favorite BookTubers, “Thoughts on Tomes”) will be taking place at the perfect time for me to join in and tackle some of the big books on my Kindle that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading! Yay for good timing!

If you don’t know about Tome Topple, it’s a two week readathon challenge where you read books that have > 500 pages. Graphic novel omnibuses count, but short story anthologies do not. There are a five challenge tasks you can tick off in the process, but mostly it’s all about the pages read. Definitely check out the video linked above for more info.

In anticipation of this bookish event, I’ve been sorting my Goodreads “tbr-kindle” shelf by number of pages to see if any of the books I want to read next happen to qualify. I am sure you will not be shocked to learn that I have more than a few qualifying books just hanging out, waiting to be read. And by “more than a few,” I actually mean an embarrassingly large number. Okay, there are 30. I have 30 books over 500 pages long. And that’s only counting the ones I have on Kindle. I have more if you count paper books sitting on my physical TBR shelf.

Please note, these are books that I’ve purchased at one point or another. Maybe I happened to buy them on sale. Let’s hope so. But, it’s entirely possible that I paid full price for at least some of these. Actually, I know I did. One or two of them I even pre-ordered.

But I’m not going to feel guilty about any of that. The rule for this year was no guilt reading. Instead, I looked through the list of books on my Kindle with more than 500 pages and picked out the ones that I’m most excited about reading right now.

Here’s my short list (or Tome Topple TBR, if you prefer):

What I chose and why:

  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen — I’ve been trying to get to this for years. Based on everything I’ve heard, I think I will love this book. I really want to see what all the fuss is about and if it lives up to the hype. Also, isn’t there a movie coming out at some point?
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey — Similarly, I’ve been delaying my enjoyment of what sounds like an excellent Syfy series (The Expanse) because I really want to read the book first. I’ve heard the books get better as you go on, but I have to read book 1 to get to book 2 (and so on). Also this is squarely in my sci-fi, space opera wheel house.
  • The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton — I pre-ordered this because I really like Tessa Gratton (the human / writer) and this book sounded great. The book release was right in the middle of a very busy and stressful time for me. So, I held off on reading it. Now, with two weeks of (mostly) uninterrupted reading time on the horizon, I think it’s time to dive into this world.
  • Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab — I really liked the first book in this duology. I pre-ordered this one because I was so excited about it. Then I let it sit and didn’t read it right away. I honestly can’t believe I’ve let this one sit for so long.
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee — This book sounds so good. Plus, it was nominated for a Nebula this year. I’ve been trying to get to it for the past few months, and it happens to be over 500 pages. Hooray!
  • The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera — This has also been on my radar for a while. I recently watched Sam from “Thoughts on Tomes” gush (spoiler-free) about this book in several videos. So, it seems fitting that this be one of my Tome Topple choices.

There are at least six more that I could substitute for any of the ones on this list. In fact, I made a list of 18 candidates (including these 6) in my BuJo for reference. Can you tell that I’m excited for vacation time and (mostly) uninterrupted reading time? I’m also excited to start drafting my next novel. But after a month of serious editing on Eve of the Fae, I need a break to refill the creative well, first.

If you’re planning on participating in this round of Tome Topple, let me know in comments and link to your TBR (booktube, blog, or whatever). And, if you plan to read any of these books and want to do a “buddy read” with me, let me know!

Bring on the Tomes! And the summer vacations! 🙂