Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Blog Tour: Savage by Nicole Conway




Welcome, welcome! I'm thrilled to say that, for my first post since I've been back, I'm presenting you with the blog tour for SAVAGE by Nicole Conway. As you guys know, the Dragonrider Chronicles is one of my absolute favorite series, so when the companion series was announced, I jumped on my chance to participate in the blog tour.

Believe it or not, this is my fourth tour for Nicole's books. The only book in the Dragonrider Chronicles that I didn't participate in the tour for was the last book, IMMORTAL, which came out during the surgery time of last year. 

So, without further ado, and because I'm dying to tell you about this book, here's my review!

But DON'T FORGET that this is a companion series, which means the descriptions as well as my review will contain spoilers to the first series! 




Title: SAVAGE (Dragonrider Legacy #1)
Author: Nicole Conway
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Format Read: E-book
Rating: Four Stars

Description from Goodreads: Never send a hero to do a monster's job.

Forty years have passed since Jaevid Broadfeather brought peace to Maldobar and Lunthards. But that fragile truce will be tested as darkness gathers on the horizon. The vicious armies of the Tibran Empire have crossed the far seas and are threatening to destroy Maldobar completely. Not even the dragonriders can match the Tibran war machines. And after an attempt to awaken Jaevid from his divine sleep fails, the fate of Maldobar is looking grim.

Reigh has never known what it means to be a normal human. Raised amongst the gray elves in the wild jungle of Luntharda, he's tried everything to be fit in. But the dark power within him is bursting at the seams-- refusingg to be silenced. And while his adoptive father, Kiran, insists this power must be kept secret, Reigh knows he's running out of time.

As Maldobar burns, the world is desperate for a new hero. Destiny has called, and one boy will rise to answer.



So, having finished the last series, I had expectations from this new book. I LOVED the way the last book ended, and even though I knew that this series would be focused on a new character, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about having a narrator that wasn't Jaevid or Felix. Starting out with this new Reigh kid, I was hesitant. Being forty years after the last series, I was sad that I wasn't going to get any of these characters that I'd come to love, but after only a page or two, we find out that Kiran is actually a big part of the story! HUZZAH, KIRAN!

This excited me, so I kept reading (Like I'd stop???), and I'm so pleased that I did, because you guys, WOW. I adore this kid. Not as much as I adore Jae, yet, but I'm a bit more attached to Jae (After, you know, four-five years). 

Anyway, I want to start out with the characters. As per usual, Conway gave us wonderful characters. They're all so loveable, and relatable, and I'm left wanting more of them already. I can't wait to see what happens with Reigh and his "problem", as well as his emotional state from here on out, as he'd definitely had his share of ups and downs just in this first book.

I don't normally comment much on the descriptiveness of novels, as I don't feel like I need a lot of details on setting, etc. to fall in love with a story. I've said it before, and I'll say it a million times again, but characters are what make a story amazing for me. So setting really is meh. But THESE BOOKS. Conway's descriptions are so good, ESPECIALLY when she's describing Luntharda and the creatures within, and I can't get enough of it.

And I'll just go ahead and say, this is only book one and it's already broken my heart and repaired it about 75% of the way. I'm already so attached, it's ridiculous. But I do have a soft spot for these fantabulous novels, you know.

In a Nutshell, SAVAGE was a great contribution to the Dragonrider books, and I'm over the moon to know we'll have more time in this world. If you've read the Dragonrider Chronicles, then you HAVE to read this series, too. YOU GET TO SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTERS AGAIN, PEOPLE! So if that's you, and you're ready for your mind to be blown and for that suspicious warning from Ulric at the end of IMMORTAL to be explained... well... you may wanna click on one of these buy links.






About the Author



Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.

Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.


She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.


Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.


Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads






Giveaway

Kindle Fire + Drawing Dragons Book + signed art from the Author

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour... you can find the rest of it HERE!

Happily,
Stephanie

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: Immortal by Nicole Conway


Title: Immortal (Dragonrider Chronicles #4)
Author: Nicole Conway
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Format Read: Paperback
Rating: Four Stars


Description from Goodreads: Destiny has called.

With Jaevid Broadfeather forever lost to the depths of Luntharda, Felix Farrow struggles to stand on his own. He begins a violent downward spiral which causes him to abandon his post as a dragonrider, hiding in the halls of his family estate. His one hope for redemption lies within the heart of someone from his past-- and the very last person he ever wanted to see again.

And now the time has finally come.

Hovrid, who has ruled Maldobar as a tyrannical imposter, is preparing to make a decisive assault against Luntharda that will destroy what remains of the elven race. Only Jaevid, Felix, and their trusted friends are able to stand in his way. They have only one chance to end the war, and only one hope to absolve the curse that threatens to destroy their world. The stage is set. The plan is in motion.

What began as one boy's adventure will now end in blood.

So, until a couple months ago, I didn't even know this book existed. I'd been between surgeries and hospital visits when it came out, and while I've been over here wondering when we're going to get the next installment, Nicole Conway's been hard at work on a companion series (Stop by the blog tomorrow to see my stop on the blog tour!).

So, I ordered the book and sped through it in about five hours, and now I'm freaking out. IT'S OVER??? I CAN'T EVEN??? I want MoRe. More Jae and Felix and, dang it, more Lyon (Still crying, okay? Still crying.) 

But, guys. What a conclusion. It ripped my heart out, fed it through the shredder, and then started working to stitch it all back together, and I'm left speechless. 

As much as I hate it, this is going to be a super short review. Because there's literally not that much I can say about this book without spoiling everything entirely, but I'll have you know that this was one of the best series conclusions I've EVER read. I can't get enough of it, and even though the book was a great finisher, I don't want it to be over. 

I've been reading these books and participating in the blog tours for five years now, and I've gotten SO attached, that all I can do is praise God that there's a companion series. I don't know what's in store, but I do know that if it's Nicole Conway's writing, and Jaevid's world, we're in for a nice little adventure that I can't wait to start.

Go out and buy this series. Show some support to Nicole, so that we can have moreandmoreandmore dragonrider books. Because I don't know what I'll do when there aren't any more coming my way!

Happily,
Stephanie

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Why I Haven't Been Active


Hey, there! It's been a while, hasn't it?

This past year has been pretty bad for me in terms of blogging. I've been semi-active since taking time off of college, but then you may have noticed that I kind of dropped off the face of the earth around May. Let me explain why...

Right around March, just as I started to finally heal after December's surgery, I started feeling iffy. I was tired all the time, but the most important thing was that I was showing the number one sign of advanced heart failure-- sleeping with upwards of three pillows a night to try to breathe better.

Because of this, I called my doctor and managed to get an appointment. Once there, we found out that my heart was definitely getting worse, and they wanted to administer a new medication that I'd have to be admitted to the hospital for. This would be the true test, because my body's tolerance of the medication would determine just how bad I was getting.

A week or so later, we had our answer. Turns out I'm allergic to the med, but while I was waiting to see if the med would do it's job or not, the doctors started a slew of tests. Only a couple days had passed before I had a letter in my hands that said I'd officially been put on the list for an Organ Transplant.

I was elated, though obviously surprised, and was sent home to await my new heart. I'd have to wait until they found the perfect match, which could take even up to two years, so we continued life as normal.

It was three weeks later, June 9th at 11:38 at  night that I got a phone call from the hospital, offering me a heart. Everything was already packed, and we threw the bags into the car and made the five hour drive.

I went into surgery around 6am on the 10th. I was excited, happy, and not nervous at all. I knew that whatever happened during the procedure would be God's will, and I trusted Him completely.

When I woke up, I was ridiculously hungry and thirsty. More doctors than I could count were coming in and out, talking to me as if we were friends and telling me how much better I looked now, and I felt like something was missing. There was a piece missing in my story line. 

Not too much later, I found out that the surgery had gone great, and then... it hadn't. My new heart was stiff from being on ice during transplant, and it hadn't wanted to beat. I'd come out of surgery with my chest still open, and I'd been on life support. For three days, machines had kept me alive until I began to do well enough that they wanted to close me up and take me off of the life support. At that point, it was only later that day that I'd woken up.

I'd also learned that while I'd been on life support, I'd been awake. Awake and writing to communicate and taking pictures with family. None of which I remembered until bits and pieces began filtering through later.

I only stayed in the hospital for a total of two weeks before they released me and allowed me to go to a hotel that connected to the hospital. I stayed there for almost three weeks, and then they finally let me go home.

I won't lie, recuperating from that transplant was rough. I threw up nearly everything I ate, which made it hard to take my twenty-something medications. I was dehydrated, but drinking was difficult since it felt like I couldn't possibly drink any more. I was exhausted, I had no energy, I was all kinds of emotional due to the hormone fluctuations, and all of that had put me in a bad mood.

It was weeks before that got better, and we found out six weeks post-transplant that I' been feeling so bad because my new heart had still had issues taking to my body, and it had only just gotten settled. Seven weeks post-transplant, I started to feel better.

It's nearly four months since transplant, and I have never felt this good in my life! I can do things that I'd never been able to do before. I'm currently on my way back from vacation in Colorado, and I spent the week walking around the Royal Gorge, Pike's Peak, Cave of the Winds, and taking an 8 hour train ride. I got my first good bit of exercise since 2011, and it felt amazing to be able to walk so much without having to stop to breathe every ten feet. I got up early and went to bed late, and I didn't wake up the next morning feeling like death run over.

I tell you, guys, normal may be overrated, but being medically normal is so underrated. 

All that said, I'm back now! I have all kinds of signings and things to go to, all kinds of trips planned out for next year, because I finally CAN. And I'm so glad that you guys get to come along the ride with me. I do have a Facebook page for all things health-related if anyone wants to keep up with things. Click HERE to go to it.

Be expecting things from me! I have a nice little giveaway coming your way soon, as well as some blog tours that I can't wait to get into, so be sure to keep checking back here or checking twitter for all of the things! I'm so excited to be back better than ever.

To borrow a line from Ed Sheeran, "Welcome to the new show/I guess you know I've been away/But where I'm heading who knows/my heart will stay the same"


Happily,
Stephanie

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Blood Road by Amanda McCrina


Welcome, welcome to my stop on the blog tour for BLOOD ROAD (Blood Oath #1) by Amanda McCrina. Be sure to read through the whole post... there's a nice little giveaway towards the end 
*wink*



Title: BLOOD ROAD (Blood Oath #1)
Author: Amanda McCrina
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: April 25, 2017


Description from Goodreads: Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.

Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.

Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.

Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.



About the Author


Amanda McCrina has studied in Italy, taught English in Japan, and currently tutors Latin in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History from the University of West Georgia, and is now pursuing her MA. She writes stories that incorporate her love of history, languages, and world travel. She drinks far too much coffee and dreams of one day having a winning fantasy-hockey season. 




Excerpt from BLOOD ROAD

A cavalry troop was just coming in to the stable yard from the Road. It was an irregular troop, not a standard column—scouts, judging by their light harness. Torien stood and watched with Alluin while they dismounted. He had supposed them to be local auxiliaries, as scouts typically were, but when the dust had settled he picked out Vareno faces among them, and one face that might have been Cesino, though he could not tell for sure. One man’s eyes fell briefly on Torien’s, across the yard. His gaze was hollow. In his dirt-streaked face, Torien recognized the same look of resignation as had been in the woman’s face that night in the shanty in Modigne. The scout turned his head away without saluting.

When they rejoined Tarrega in the street, Torien said, “Auxiliaries?”

Tarrega said, “Signi.”

Torien’s steps slowed. He looked back over his shoulder to the stable yard.

Tarrega said, “You’ve never seen signi before?” As an afterthought, he added, “Sir?”

“They don’t post signi to Vione.”

“But to Cesin?”

Perhaps to the Outland, to the furthest reaches of the mountains where the rebellious Brycigi still thrashed against the Imperial yoke; Torien did not know. “Is the Road so dangerous, then—that you use signi as scouts?”

Unexpectedly, Tarrega flashed a cool knife-blade smile. His teeth were very white. “The Mayasi,” he said, “make it their peculiar habit to leave their prisoners stripped and staked out in the sand and dead of thirst or sun sickness or jackals, whichever comes first. Or they hold them alive, for interrogation, and from what I’ve seen of the few poor souls we’ve recovered—better to die in the sand. So the signi are useful twice over.”

Torien looked at him. “They aren’t citizens,” Tarrega said. “It doesn’t matter how they die. And they don’t know anything to give up under torture.”



Giveaway

1 winner will receive a 1 month subscription to Owl Crate, US Only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tour Schedule

Week 1:
4/24/2017- Rockin' Book ReviewsReview
4/24/2017- Month9BooksExcerpt

4/25/2017- Two Chicks on BooksInterview
4/25/2017- Doodle's Book ReviewsExcerpt

4/26/2017- Don't Judge, ReadInterview
4/26/2017- Book-KeepingReview

4/27/2017- A Backwards StoryReview
4/27/2017- Hazel West's Character PurgatoryExcerpt

4/28/2017- LILbooKloversInterview
4/28/2017- Wishful EndingsReview

Week 2:
5/1/2017- Exploring the Inner UniverseReview
5/1/2017- So Few BooksInterview

5/2/2017- Book Review BeccaReview
5/2/2017- Bibliobibuli YAInterview

5/3/2017- Reading for the Stars and MoonReview
5/3/2017- I am not a bookworm!Review

5/4/2017- YA and WineGuest Post
5/4/2017- Mundie MomsReview

5/5/2017- Never Too Many To ReadReview


Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour, and don't forget it runs for two weeks! 

Thanks for stopping by, all!

Happily,
Stephanie


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday Thinks: UCM Children's Literature Festival


A couple weeks ago was the University of Central Missouri's Children's Literature Festival. In a nutshell, it was a gathering of (mostly) middle grade authors who participated in a luncheon, panels, and autographing sessions.

Of course, as soon as I found out about this, I knew I had to go. I immediately made plans with a friend to go, but as the days drew nearer, said friend became unable to come. This meant that I had an extra ticket and absolutely no one to give it to. So when friends fail you, you go to family. Or, friendswhomayaswellhavebeenfamilysinceyouveconsideredeachothersiblingsforfiveyears. 

Anyway, I shoot a text to my brother. It went a little something like this:


And no more was said about it. So I'm just like, "Great, I'll just go by myself, how wonderful." (my parents were coming as well, but I had really been looking forward to taking one of my non-reader friends to the event with me. And it would have been even better if my bro would have said yes, because... okay, it's not that he HATES reading, it's just that he only enjoys certain books. For instance, WWII books, good mysteries, and Civil War stories. 

But he knows how much I love the bookish world, and I really thought he'd go to the festival for me. If not for any other reason than to make me happy.

The morning of the festival, I got up, started running around getting ready, making sure I had all my things in the car, and I had just sat down to check snapchat when the door opened. My mom had gone to take my pups for a grandpa-doggy day while we were gone, as it was quite a drive to UCM and we'd be there all day, and I hit replay on a snap from my dad as I felt her standing beside me.

"Look at your husband." I said.

"Nope," A voice answered, "Not my husband."

Suffice it to say that I was totally freaking shocked to see my brother standing there. Apparently he and my mom had been conspiring behind my back, and he was going to go to the festival with us.

The drive took a few hours, but we finally got there, signed in, and hit the sales area. Throughout the day, my mom and brother swapped the camera back and forth to take pictures, so I have quite a few for you. I also used the Snapchat Story feature for, like, the first time ever, and chronicled our day, though I have been forbidden by my brother to put any pictures on the internets that include him.


From there, we moved to stand in line for the luncheon, and they ended up letting us in super early, so we didn't have to wait long.


video

As we walked into the room we'd be having lunch in, we found tables with author names on a centerpiece. All attendees got to choose their seats with an author, and the first one I looked for was S.A. Bodeen. She wrote books like THE COMPOUND and THE GARDENER, and I'd been trying to meet her for five years. 

Aaaaand of course her table ended up being one of the first to fill. For a moment, I stood reading table names before eventually landing on Angela Cervantes. I wasn't familiar with her works, but we took our seats at her table and actually had the most pleasant time just talking and asking her questions about her books. She gave us so much insight on the publishing industry, and even a good chunk of advice on getting agents and book deals. We ended up talking back and forth around the table for a good hour as we ate, until the guest speaker moved up to the front of the room.



I remembered hearing all kinds of good things about the Al Capone Does my Shirts boosk in middle school, but I never had that much of an interest in them. Let me just go ahead and say that after hearing Gennifer Choldenko speak, I will be reading that series. 

Her talk was about knowing what your story to tell is, and I took a video at one point because I loved what she said. It's pretty self-explanatory.

video

After the speaking, it was SIGNING TIME! I was pretty excited for some of these authors--even the ones I'd met before--so I couldn't wait to get started. 




First, I found R.W. Alley. In case the name isn't familiar to you, he's the illustrator of the beloved Paddington Bear books. He had the second longest line-- second only to Choldenko-- and the wait was worth it to meet such a sweet person that took the time to sketch in each person's books, no matter how many they had (I had like 6).


From there? Cheryl Harness. She wrote these wonderful books for National Geographic that were basically stories and collections of writings from important historical figures, such as George Washington Carter, Myles Standish, Narcissa Whitman, Daniel Boone, and my favorite president-- Teddy Roosevelt. 


Next. Oh my gosh. Next, I met Mary Downing Hahn. I don't know if you guys were like me and spent your middle school years patrolling the library for new finds, but we were required to choose form a set of books at one point. We would read it, do a project on it, and then discuss for a grade. One year, I chose TIME FOR ANDREW. It's a ghost story for ages 8-12, and I loved it. So, naturally, I found her section in the library (I still remember exactly where it is. Follow the right wall as you walk in until you see the windows of the computer lab. Halfway down that wall starts the Hahn section, and it lasts around two top shelves.) and started at one end and worked my way to the other. I read everything my library had of hers, and TIME FOR ANDREW remained my favorite. That's why I was so excited to finally get to meet the author, who was truly lovely and became one of the hilights of the day.



From there, I moved on to Roland Smith. I've had the pleasure of meeting Roland three times now-- twice when he came to my school for speaking events, and once at the CLF-- and he has yet to disappoint. I remember the first time we met, he signed my copy of SEA OTTER RESCUE. The second, PEAK (lovelovelove), and now, THE EDGE. It's always a pleasure chatting with Roland, and one of the things I love about it is that he doesn't just sign and send you on your way-- he actually takes the time to talk to you, and it's great.


From there, we moved on to Michael Spradlin, Roderick Towney, E.B. Lewis, and finally to the moment I'd been counting down to all day-- S.A. Bodeen.

You guys.

I've been trying to meet S.A. Bodeen for a grand total of five years now. Each time, something got in the way (Last year, a surgery). But after some email correspondence, I was finally going to get to say hello. Not only that, but I was going to get to interview* her.
That's right.

So as I found all my books to be signed, I headed for her area. I'd actually spotted her earlier, but I'd put on a pair of blinders so I could save her for last. Finally, I carried my bag down the hallway and got to meet one of my faves. Graciously, she signed the stack I had, which included allllll of her YA/MG books, and after getting everything signed, we made our way to the staircase (where it was slightly less noisy) and got down to business.

The very last thing I did before leaving was find the author I'd had lunch with, Angela Cervantes. I had a copy of her first book, and wanted to end the day just as I'd started it-- talking with Angela. We'd had a great time at lunch, and I can definitely say that I left CLF with one more author friend than I'd come with. That's one of the best things about going to an event like this where you have a luncheon-- the fact that you get quality one-on-one time with an author that you might never have met before, which is exactly what happened with Angela. I do read MG occasionally, but not often enough that I'd be super familiar with a current MG author. I'm glad I took that seat at Angela's table.


With my time at the festival over, I stopped by the University of Central Missouri's trophy case to take a picture with the UCM sign to commemorate my day there. 


All in all, Children's Literature Festival was a great experience. I attended one of the three days, and I'm positive that the other two were just as nice. If you're ever in the MO area around March, you should definitely look into the festival. You can clinky this linky to check out the fest's webpage, and keep tabs on next year's event.

Happily,
Stephanie


 *You'll have that interview coming within the next couple weeks... Cooking up some plans over here ;)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday Reviews: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles


Title: The edge of Everything (#1)
Author: Jeff Giles
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Format Read: ARC
Rating: Two Stars

Description from Goodreads: For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods-- only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. 

I've started to see this everywhere. It's been all over my insta feed (beautiful pictures, you bookstagrammers, you), and I had my copy of it, so  decided I'd see what all the hullabaloo was about.

To be frank, I still don't know.

I mean, the concept was FANTASTIC. I loved the idea of the Lowland bounty hunters, and I love (some of) the characters. Banger, Ripper, Regent, Dallas, JONAH. But the two main characters were kind of lost on me. I feel like I didn't have a good enough grasp of who they were, and though I read from cover to cover, I just didn't really like either of them.

Normally, insta-love doesn't bother me (Hello, Twihard central over here), but in EDGE OF EVERYTHING, it definitely did. I think it's because, with insta-love, sure they may like each other from the very beginning, but they generally aren't smooching and cuddling within like three days. Especially when they know nothing about each other. Especially when one of them just saw the other try to kill someone.

The plot was great, but I didn't enjoy the execution of it. Nothing happened that really made me root for the characters. In fact, the only reason I was even remotely okay with not DNFing this book is because of the secondary characters that made pop ups. Banger, Ripper, Regent, Dallas, JONAH. It was them that I liked, even if they only got a few pages total of spotlight.

And what's sad is that this story had some REAL potential. Like, the synopsis and the blurbs made me so hyped to read it, but I was disappointed at what I found. It's sad when you read a book and can't get invested in the main characters, can't cheer them on, can't enjoy it. And sadly, that's where I was at.

I also feel like the world building of the Lowlands needed a lot more whipped cream. I finished the book, and I still know very little about what it's like there, or how the rules work, or who runs the place, and I have so many questions about it. 

As for the ending? It didn't make me go OMG I DIDN'T LOVE THIS BOOK BUT I'LL READ BOOK 2 SO I CAN FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS. It made me sigh because I was glad it was over.

I give THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING a single star review, and that star is for the secondary characters that shine like gold.

(Un)Happily,
Stephanie

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thursday Thinks: Bloggers Matter


Sometimes you make really good author friends. Sometimes, those author friends write new books. And sometimes, those author friends ask you to beta their WIPs.

That's when you go


Immediately followed by



It's a special kind of thing, to be asked to look at someone's work and give feedback. Even more so when you have a great relationship with that person and you know that they are genuinely interested in what you think.

And I know I've made a post about this before, but I think sometimes bloggers fall into a rut and they stop wanting to do posts and reviews and interviews. Blogging is a lot of work. It truly is-- posting isn't a quick, five minute ordeal. It can take hours just to get one post right, and it's a real labor of love. 

Sometimes you get to where it feels like it's just too much. You get overwhelmed with schedules and finding time to read and time to blog, and you stop. 

I did, but I had the intention of coming back. A lot of people don't.

And I just wanted to tell you bloggers out there that what we do DOES matter.

Beta reading is only one of the perks of doing our job, but it's a fantastic thing, to be asked. Relationships with publishers. Bookish friends. Knowing your review helped sell a book.

Don't undervalue yourself. It's hard, but the rewards are always worth it.

Happily,
Stephanie

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tuesday Reviews: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Format Read: ARC
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description from Goodreads: Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world...

Welcome, welcome to CARAVAL-- Stephanie Garber's sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett's father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett's long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval's mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season's Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Lemme tell you something before we get started here.

I LOVE a good fantasy. Strangely enough, though everybody had their own fantasies, good ones are hard to come by. When you find them, though, they blow up. They're the next big thing. And as this started happening with CARAVAL, I grabbed it off the shelf. I'd wanted to read it for a long time, but I hadn't had a chance to get to a nice, longer book in a while. Now, I did.

People. My ARC had 401 pages, and I read it in less than a day.
LESS. THAN. A. DAY.

I stayed up until like 2:30 for this bad boy, and I have no regerts (Intentional typo. If you haven't seen that Milky Way commercial, click below my sign-off).

So I start the book. I get about, eh, 60 pages in, and I've already decided that this book is weird. 

W E I R D.

Mom asked how it was so far, and I literally told her, "It's weird. But, in a good way?"

I had no idea what was in store for me.

I read a but more, and found myself on page 103, texting my brother to tell him I was completely in love with this character, Julian.

BUT HOLD UP. LEMME TELL YOU BOUT JULIAN.

He's horrible. Egotistical, arrogant, slick as oil.

So, naturally, I love him.

So once I decide I love this character, we start down the path of CARAVAL, learning how it works and trying to find Tella. 

Amongst this, I decide three things: Julian is a snake (luvs), Tella is selfish, and Scarlett is much like me.

As we're going along this journey, I can't help but marvel at how well Stephanie Garber had crafted this world. Everything was so intricate and perfect and delicate. The strings were tied in so many places that you could snip one in half and still have enough attached to hold the story together. The descriptions were specific, but there wasn't so many of them that I found myself wanting to skip paragraphs, which often happens for me in fantasies.

That could have been because I had other things tempting me to skip paragraphs. Snakes and such. But that's not the point.

And then I'm reading along and my world gets totally flipped. PLOT TWIST NUMBER ONE, AT YOUR SERVICE.

I start questioning everything I thought about everything I knew and I'm just sitting there with my mind spinning. Surely not. But... surely so.

And those are my favorite moments in a book (besides the nice snakes). When I think I know what's going on, but then suddenly, I don't. Suddenly, something I read made me question EVERYTHING. It's one of the most magical experiences a book can give you, and it was so incredibly fitting for CARVAL, because... well, go back up and read that description for me, will you?

You back? Good.

The entire point of the game of Caraval is that it's just that-- a game. No matter what happens in the game, it will always remain a game.

I mean. Unless, of course, it wasn't just a game.

You're not supposed to get swept up in Caraval. You aren't supposed to let it sweep you into madness. It was just a game.

Or was it?

THE WHOLE TIME I'M READING THIS BOOK, I'M STARTING TO QUESTION EVERYTHING. IS THIS REAL? IS THIS NOT REAL? IS ANYTHING REAL?

And the plot twists. You guys. I counted at least five that knocked me on my butt. I don't think I've ever been so ingrained in a book that I've had plot twists get me like this. They come out of the shadows and just shove you into somewhere you never expected to be. And then, they leave you to figure out what happened.

As I read, my mom kept looking up at me because I'd be laughing or shrieking at a twist, at my own shock of being deceived, and it had been ages since I'd felt stricken enough to react to it out loud.

And then we get to the ending, and I'm whirling. I'm trying to piece things together as I read, and I'm lost, and then suddenly, everything is cleared. 

The book ends. But in the back of my head, I remembered Caraval. It was just a game, it wasn't real.

Or was it?

I cannot say enough about this book. If you enjoy fantasy, you NEED to get your hands on this. I haven't found a story like this in a long time, and it deserves to be told and shared with as many people as it possibly can be. Four point five stars, and the five is only because of something I can't share with you without spoiling literally everything. But I loved it. And I bet you will, too.

Happily,
Stephanie




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