2019 TBR List New Additions Part 2

*** Quick funny side note: I scheduled this to publish on New Year’s day but then it disappeared! I couldn’t find it in my list of published or ALL posts. Then again, I didn’t go to the last page of the list… today I figured it out. It was scheduled to post 1 January 2019. Lol, oh silly me. Today I figured it out, must be my renewed yoga practice cleared my head this morning. So I did finish a while ago and have wanted to find it before I publish Part 3. And that’s why you’re also getting 2 posts kinda back to back.

Welcome to Part 2 of the 2019 TBR List New Additions. If you missed the first post click HERE for Part 1. I didn’t add any books to my TBR in October. Can you believe that? Ugh I wasn’t in the bookish world but that’s fine because I was in the writing world gearing up for NaNoWriMo 2019 which I did win. Woo Hoo Heck Yeah! 😀

July 2019 TBR List New Additions

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  • What the Woods Keep – Paranormal Fantasy/YA/Mystery by Katya de Becerra – I already have my copy of this, hopefully I’ll get to it sooner than later. Sorry I don’t recall which podcast I was listening to when I heard about this. But check my list if you’re looking for some book and writing related podcasts.
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August 2019 TBR List New Additions

September 2019 TBR List New Additions

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Oh my I did not add any books in October! It wasn’t because there wasn’t anything to add rather I have not been reading blogs for a long time nor articles about books. I’ve been more focused on my own writing. It can be tricky to juggle reading and writing though both are very important.

November 2019 TBR List New Additions

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  • The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #1) – Sci-fi by M.R. Carey – I’m not entirely sure where I found this book but I know I added it in part because I am at least a little familiar with Carey’s work. I’ve seen a movie and read a book and was plenty happen with what I experienced. Looking forward to this one.
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This concludes 2019 TBR List New Additions Part 2. If you missed Part 1 CLICK HERE and check it out. That list covers half of May through June. Part 3 is all about December because that’s when I got back to my TBR as well as a list I found at Lit Hub. That list, whoa, I hope what I found there is worth all the work it added to my list!

Stay tuned for Part 3. It will be published in the first couple of days of the New Year. From there you can expect a post about what I plan to read in January and Part 2 of my thoughts on Audio books. Check out Part 1 HERE.

So, what do you think?

What I’ve Been Listening To

Hey there folks! Recently, and not so recently, I’ve posted about audio books (Audio Book Talk Part 1 & Part 2). I blabbered a bit about the conundrum of reading versus listening. It’s a big issue for me! Lol. I think I’ve made that clear. What I haven’t made clear to you is just what…hm….um… not what I’ve read… okay… what my ear’s have attended to! This post is for the stories I’ve listened to.

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In Part 1 I told you how Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan was the first audio book I’ve listened to in a long time. And I really enjoyed it. Next I told you I listened to Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, yet another good book. After that came The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon; not bad but I didn’t love it for a couple reasons. Or maybe The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater came before that? Before or after, that one I really liked, best of them all. Since then? Let me tell you…

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Or read…

After The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, I listened to The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton.

This is the second time I’ve edited this because I don’t have a sweet memory so I’ve had to do some rewinding considering I listened to this way back in the summer. Of course I remember I enjoyed this series thoroughly and recommend it to most if not all fans of fantasy, particularly YA fantasy. However, book 2 wasn’t my favorite. It’s not that it was bad, it was just a little convoluted and not quite as flowing as the first. But I still liked it and was happy to get to know these characters more. Maggie Steifvater is a very talented writer. Her imagination and character development are beautiful.

Next was Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton.

Book three didn’t disappoint, in fact I liked it more than book 2, maybe not more than book 1 but very entertaining. Still loving these characters and their growth.

From there I listened to Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanic by Nick Carr, narrated by William Jackson Harper.

This, as the image shows, is an audible original, one of two picks I get each month with my subscription. I’d call this a short story more than a novel and it was worth it. More a book for teens but still interesting enough. I liked the character Wally and his story and would recommend this. It’s not exciting, but good.

After Wally Roux I started and finished the last book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton.

So my mental rewind back through this summer and fall’s audio books brought me to some bittersweet truthes regarding the end of this series. It wasn’t just my memory that made reflecting difficult. This book didn’t sew up nicely. It didn’t end so neatly. I’m not necessarily disappointed but I’m disappointed. Not enough to ditch Maggie Stiefvater, oh no, or not read the Ronan Lynch spin-off that follows, Call Down the Hawk. Just enough to be bummed. But I won’t spoil here.

What I listened to next was very, very different than the above (and not as good). Cold Waters (Normal, Alabama #1) by Debbie Herbert was a book I picked up through one of Audible’s Daily Deals. What can I say, I needed another book to listen to!

But I didn’t love it. I’ll take some more Stiefvater after this one please! Sure it did its thing in the world of mysteries but I wasn’t impressed. I think I gave it 3 stars for effort. I won’t continue with the series.

After that I listened to an Audible Original, another of my monthly freebies. Buried Deep by Margot Hunt and read by Therese Plummer is also a mystery.

Please understand that I am a fan of mysteries, I always have been. But I’m also really critical. Sorry, not sorry. Cold Waters was significantly better than Buried Deep. Buried Deep is not a story I recommend.

Okay now let’s get back to some better stories although…

My next read was much anticipated. Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton is a stand alone continuation of Ronan Lynch’s story. It is true however that it’s probably best to have read The Raven Cycle first.

Gosh I feel some kind of way about this book and about writing about it. I should probably save it for something of a review but I’m sort of doing tiny reviews here too. Let me say again that I really appreciate Stiefvater’s talents. But please please stop throwing the kitchen sink in. I mean okay maybe the kitchen sink analogy isn’t accurate but one review I read after the fact explained it best. It was like being in someone else’s dream where it makes more sense to them than you. Loads of people love this book but I just think it was a little too much dream world. I think it hurt the story. That said, oh there’s so much more to say I’m going to have to write a separate post for sure, I did like this story. I do like this world and love these characters. Worth it? For sure. Hoping the next book will be excellent.

Thank you Ellyn @allonsythornraxx for talking about this book. And thank you Inside My Library Mind as well!

Okay moving on. Another mystery/thriller thanks to Audible Daily Deals. But am I so thankful for Audible? Or am I losing my taste for mysteries after spending all this time in fantasy lands? The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger, read by Julia Whelan was creative and interesting. But it was too long, way too long.

I’m a little surprised seeing the Goodreads’ page again and the fact that Unger is a bestselling author. It’s not that she’s a bad writer by any means. The Red Hunter however could have skipped a lot of the individual parts. But again, it was entertaining and had its thrilling moments but didn’t blow my mind.

Wow so this brings us to my latest listen and what I’m currently listening to! Last one I finished was The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy. Here we have another YA Fantasy.

I will lead with this was a worthy listen and I will continue the series. That said, it was way too long. It was like a compilation of a bunch of different character stories that all happen to related. It just took too long to get to the part where they’re relating! On the other hand Libba Bray is a great writer. I respect the research she does for her stories, from time period lingo and culture to historic events, she does an excellent job. I think a lot of people would like this story, as long as you don’t mind a long lead up.

This series find is thanks to Ellyn @allonsythornraxx and her post about the 4th in this series due out this year. Oh my gosh I better catch up! Four of these! Gosh…

And finally we’re up to present day. Actually I very recently finished The Diviners. Therefore I’ve only just begun Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse, read by Tanis Parenteau.

Lucky me, this and The Diviners were not Daily Deals but they were special deals just in time for me to need more books in my Audible Library! Woo hoo! Everybody loves a sale right? 😀 I have heard the name Rebecca Roanhorse a lot and am finally venturing into her imagination. So far I’m digging it! Heck yeah!

Oh yeah, while it’s not an audio book I’m also read reading, like a physical book, Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare (ha ha I started to type narrated. 😉 ). Yet another name I’ve heard a number of times. This is a big book, 668 pages! I’m 174 or so pages in and it’s interesting, not as interesting as Trail of Lightning but I suspect it holds a lot of promise. And I learned kind of late that I’m pretty late to this party… Lol…

I almost forgot; while I know I’ve heard of this elsewhere I know for sure I can thank Ms. Victorious at Victorious pages for telling me about this series.

Kind of a long post I know but hopefully you found it interesting enough. Have you read or listened to any of these? I do kind of feel like I missed out on some real physical pages with words. (I think I need to read some Maggie Stiefvater in the flesh or paper and experience the stories more.)

Let me know what you think, I’m curious. Stay tuned for my post about what I will be listening to for the rest of January and February.

Audio Book Talk Part 2

After listening to Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – which was my first foray back to audiobooks in years – I was back in love with audiobooks. And yet, as I’ve mentioned before – if you haven’t already read my Part 1 to this CLICK HERE – I’m not wholly decided on when, how, and why to go with the audiobook. It just feels so conflicting! Physical book to have and to hold or audio book to listen and be told!?

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For starters, when I read a book I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Maybe that’s a lingering result of school but it’s there. Since I wrote that first post I have listened to over a dozen audiobooks in half as many months. They’re kind of my new best friends. And while I feel some completion in having heard that story it’s not the same.

To hold a book and turn its pages, reading the words the author strung together to tell their story, is to form something of a relationship with the story. Sure I feel emotions while listening to and reading stories. I formulate new ideas and thoughts about the material. Or I hash out old ones. Whatever the case I interact with the story. But holding it I also interact with the words. That is not something I can say for audiobooks. Well, it’ s just not the same!

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Listening to a story has its own benefits. I interact with language, with voice, with speaking. You get to hear a person’s voice, experience them acting (because that is what narrators do after all), and test your own listening skills. Something I love is hearing pronunciation of words I do not know which there are a lot of in fantasy novels especially. Listening to a story is beautiful. However, you do not see the words and their structure. You do not see how they are set up on the page. I’m sure this can be true for all people but I believe it especially true for a writer.

Not only do I study books when I read them – what worked and why, what didn’t and why not – but I admire them. With a physical book you see the typeset, the style, the font, the color of the paper, the smell of the paper, the margins, and so much more. You experience not only the story, but the book. While authors don’t always, or perhaps often, get to choose all these things for themselves in the world of traditional publishing, these days we’re seeing a lot more independent authors and presses. Which means we might also be experiencing more personal decisions with respect to the actual production of the book.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting anyone down who prefers audiobooks or can not read for one reason or many others. Audiobooks are amazing opportunities. I am a slow reader so the fact that I can finish a story in a couple of days listening to an audiobook is fantastic. If they were cheaper I’d listen to even more! So this isn’t even so much a which one is better type of post, rather I’m just reflecting on how my mind approaches the matter. I don’t find it a light decision to pick to listen to audio over read the story myself. I just don’t. Words are one of my passions and I’m trying to build a better relationship with them. Choosing to listen rather than give one-on-one reading attention is a tricky choice.

It’s helpful to see how different authors structure dialogue and even how they arrange their chapters. I like seeing the length of paragraphs because I don’t have a great attention span for long chapters when reading. Another advantage to listening, long chapters don’t bother me. You can still pick up on a lot of things listening, after all it’s still a book, it’s just someone else who’s reading it. You don’t get to dog-ear a page or highlight or sticky note. I know, I know these apps and whatever have all kinds of fun features but pushing “bookmark” is not the same for me as making one in a book. Besides, I’m not very good at coming back to book notes! Lol.

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So, summary is I love audio books but I miss the connection to the actual words. I don’t have a method for when to read and when to listen if I don’t already have the book in one form or another. I think it will come to depend on the individual books and authors. Also at this point I think I want to stay consistent with regard to the edition I pick for a series. If I start a series in audio then I want to keep that up. So if I’ve already started the series with a physical book, I’m going to read the book. I’ll also be paying more attention to people’s thoughts on specific audio books.

But ok! This has been long enough. I’m sitting debating listing the other books I’ve listened to since Audio Book Talk Part 1 or making that its own post. Hm…

How’s about I go ahead and end this here and encourage you all to share your thoughts! Do you have any trouble deciding when to go with audio or maybe you’ve not even thought about it that much? Are you a reader and a writer or just a reader?

I know I keep saying I’m going to post more and then I don’t so maybe you are losing faith in me. But that’s actually a really good reason to follow me, because then you’ll just know that I actually did post! You’ll be like oh it’s magic there’s a post from the Elpy Dimension! 😉

Check back Sunday, tomorrow, I’m going to share the audio books I’ve been listening to and am. Also this coming week expect a post from me yammering on about figuring things out for this new year, how I want to do things differently, and maybe a new review in my new format!

Cheers guys, thanks so much for your time!

TBR List New Additions Part 1

Hey there! This TBR List New Additions Part 1 is a part one because I haven’t done such a post since MAY. Wow, May. I have added way too many books to share them all in one post. I’m not sure if everyone loves posts about new additions to TBR lists but it’s kind of a fun way to nerd out, discover new books, and give props to other bloggers, writers, podcasters, nerds alike. 😀 Browse the pics for some covers that appeal to you. Follow the link to the book’s Goodreads’ page, read the blurb. Add to your list. And maybe then if you have your own blog, or what-have-you, give me a shout out for bringing the book to you attention. Teamwork makes the dream work! I love to chat so feel free to ask questions or share some of your own thoughts about my new additions.

My last 2019 TBR Updates post was back in May, May 13th to be exact. So this list will start from the books I added May 14th. If I’ve got someone to thank for it I will, or some specific thoughts as to why I added it, I’ll tell you. This post will cover a couple months (don’t think I added books every month) so this will be a three part post. Let’s get started.

May 14-31st 2019 TBR List New additions

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  • The Deepest Blue – Fantasy by Sarah Beth Durst – While I didn’t love this book I am a fan of Sarah Beth Durst so naturally I had to pick this up.
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June 2019 TBR List New Additions

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  • What Rose Forgot – Mystery/Thriller by Nevada Barr – Years ago I read Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series as fast as I could. Then I slowed down on reading fiction and I never caught back up with her books. I’m happy to know she’s kept on writing and this appealed to me.
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There you have it, my 2019 TBR new additions for the second half of May & all of June. I think there may be a duplicate or two in there but for the sake of time I’m going to let them stay. This is the list my Goodreads’ TBR showed me so I’m going with it. Of these I read “The Deepest Blue” by Sarah Beth Durst and wrote about it. And I’m currently listening to “Call Down the Hawk” (audio book) by Maggie Stiefvater. I will finish it today, just in time to end the year. Don’t forget to stay tuned and read Parts 2 & 3 of my 2019 TBR List New additions.

Have you or do you plan to read any of these? I read reviews but not always before I read a book because often once I’ve made up my mind to read a book I don’t want to know too much more about it. And often people include story synopses in their reviews. So you’re welcome to share your links with me, I will check them out after I’ve read the book. Please do share your most basic thoughts, spoiler free, here. You just might get me to push the book up my list. 😉

Happy New Year to you all! I’m really looking forward to the writing and reading that’s about to happen. Stay tuned, perhaps this year…perhaps…this year…

Away we go into the 2020 New Year…

It feels like, and is true, that I’ve been preparing this 2020 New Year post for a couple days at least. I want so badly to get some new stuff out to you, whoever you are. Every time I turn around to do something else I come back and discover my plate is magically full again. Or was it ever empty…?

Here’s the thing, I’m not complaining. No, I’m not. It’s really awesome to have a full plate, literally and figuratively. I am still as excited about bookstores and the idea of books as I was for elementary school bookfairs. I love just being in bookstores. I love having spent hours cataloguing books in a storage unit. All those thoughts and ideas… And here I am, doing the writing. Here I am studying books as I read and escape in them. Here I am, writing a novel, and neglecting my eternal backlog of to-be-read books. 😀 And I. Am. THRILLED! (Never mind that there are other things on my plate than reading and writing. Or the fact that I will not stop at one novel. Or…)

But all this thrill needs a lot more organization and planning. Heck yeah! Heck yeah you ask? Heck yeah I say. Sure New Year’s Resolutions are kind of cliche. Saying I’m making them makes me a little red in the face. I rethink even talking about them here. I think that maybe I shouldn’t talk about them at all because talking about them will probably destroy the magic. Why? Because don’t they always fizzle?

Maybe. Often. Eventually.

Why? Probably because I try to just be so new and so different instead of incorporating different and new into me. Does that make sense? I hope so.

It feels really exciting to put a list together of all the books I plan to read. I adjusted my 2019 TBR to bring it up to date and laughed at my ambition. It’s beautiful, ambition, but it was a little much. Impractical. After all, I am writing a novel that is suggesting to me that it might be at least a duology. Just saying… Does that mean I shouldn’t shoot for the stars? Of course not. It means I should maybe start small and manageable. Rebuild how I do things.

This year, as I mentioned in my post about audio books, I started an Audible subscription and I love it. It might not feel the same or be the same as reading books but it’s fabulous. On the simplest level it’s fun to have a book read to you, reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad would read to us at night before bed. On the adult level it means you can do all kinds of stuff and “read” a book at the same time! Woo hoo! On the downside you don’t get to visit a bookstore to get your next book. 😉

So where was I? Right, audible, rebuilding, restructuring, being ambitious and realistic. With Audible I can listen to a book a month, if you don’t include the free originals (which aren’t always worth the…tape…lol), that’s minimum 12 books a year! Super doable. 😀 Heck yeah! Maybe somewhere in there I pick up a daily deal (discounted offer) or treat myself for an accomplishment. A book instead of an ice cream or french fry or… Now I could in theory tell you right now what those 12 books are going to be but I have a feeling I will deviate from the plan. But I can give you a couple of titles to count on or at least the one I’m going to read the next month.

What else? Well it wouldn’t be too much to ask myself to read one physical book a month. I can do that easily just by limiting screen time, without disrupting my writing time. 24 books in 2020? Okay, let’s make it 30 because why not? That might not be a lot of books but it’s awesome. And I can meet that challenge, no problem.

I don’t know, I might actually have some time in there to pursue and accomplish other projects I’ve long promised to pursue and accomplish. I don’t want to spread myself too thin over one area of my life. Let me cover the bread but remember I’ve got a loaf yet.

I’m thinking, set my goals high enough I have to reach and work for them but know my limits enough to avoid setting myself up for failure.

Here’s to 2020 folks, and a saying I read on Facebook that said something like may the tears you shed in 2019 water the seeds you’re planting in/for 2020.

And here’s to all of you, may this too be true. 😉

Away we go into the 2020 New Year, may it not be better in hindsight! Heck Yeah! (Oh I like that, that was a good one. I should write more…;))

Audio Book Talk Part 1

For starters, this week since I’ve been absent for so long I’m going to post daily, however that happens I’m going to have a post for you. Short, long, whatever. Let’s get started. (This one’s long, but worth it should you want to hear about some audio books and how I picked them.)

Yesterday I told you I want to talk about audio books and how I’ve recently gotten back into them. Back in the day I listened to quite a few audio versions (on CD) of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I LOVED them. I read the books as well (not for all did I have audio and physical) and was really a fan. It’s not that I don’t like them anymore but I fell off of reading fiction many years ago for about five years. When I came back to reading my tastes and goals had changed and I didn’t go back to the series. Plus, let me be honest, I didn’t love the whole love triangle/struggle/whatever you want to call it thing going on with Ranger and Joe Morrelli. I really liked both characters but was frustrated with the direction it was going. I am proud to say that I turned at least a few people on to the series and they’re still reading them. 😉 And NO, vehement NO, I did NOT like the movie One for the Money.

There were some non-fiction books I listened to as well as planned to listen to (I know because I recently found the CDs). But then I just stopped. It happens. Now I’m back to audio books and I don’t have to buy and lug around CDs. Yeah! I came back to them because Audible offers two free books with a free trial… and I figured I do a lot of work that I can do while listening, thus checking off my TBR.

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But how do I claim to have read a book when I actually listened to it? That just doesn’t mesh with my weird brain! I read people’s blogs about them “reading” audio books and I’m like no, no you did not read them! Of course we all know what they mean like we all know when I say LOL my head is not lolling around. I think it’s the fact that there’s no work involved. To me reading a book is a feat. Listening to someone tell me a story is not. The fact that I’m not doing the work weighs on me. But should it?

Absolutely not! I will get through so many stories…except there’s the fact that they aren’t free…even with an audible membership I’m committing to buy a $15 (somewhere around there) book a month. Yes they say oh and you get two free originals but let’s be honest the originals are SUPER LIMITED and now you’ve downloaded books because you basically HAD to take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong I’ve downloaded a few that I am interested in listening to, eventually, but I never seem to be in the mood.

Here’s the thing, now I’m spoiled. Now I’m getting used to someone reading a story to me and when I finish the book (quickly) I don’t know what to do! I feel lost without my story in my ears or my external speaker. AHHHH!

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I can’t “read” and do other stuff at the same time! Impossible! And now I can! OMG! Drama folks, drama. Then this VOID leaves you vulnerable to audio book deals. Which makes me wonder if I put books on my wish list will they miraculously pop up as a deal? Because then it might be even more worth making a list. 😉

But how do I pick? I get one audio book a month. How do I pick? The obvious answer is what’s available. What the heck Elpy, you have to get to that part first? Right… so I go to my TBR… and I look at it… I scroll down it… I see books and pretty covers… I think about picking one… I don’t know, I just don’t know.

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This is something I have to figure out. I’ve gotten lucky so far. My first pick was Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, narrated by Natasha Soudek & Tristan Morris. Great book, great narrators, can’t wait for the second to come out. This was a lovely introduction back into the world of audio books. It kind of takes me a second to get into it but that’s the same for books. I picked this book by going to my list and scrolled for something that stuck out. This was a book I added in the last several months and was one I was looking forward to reading. So I reread the blurb, found it to be available on Audible and BAM. Great pick. Thank you Sofi @ A Book. A Thought. for introducing me. Thank you Destiny @ Howling Libraries for selling me on this book further.

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***Disclaimer: As I link to Destiny’s review above it appears maybe she’s updated it since I first read her review…? She’s less than happy with the author and that has changed her view of this book and her writing. So I’m conflicted as to whether or not I find something where she’s raving about it or post to the updated review. And I think I should stick to her current take for posterity’s sake. She brings up some interesting points, most of which I did not know. But check back soon because I want to touch on her mention of “post-read high”.***

How did I pick A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, narrated by Emily Ellet, then? This one wasn’t and was as difficult because I struggled to decide on the audio version. First there was the urge to hurry up and pick something because I had to get to the work I had to do. Next there was looking at my Goodreads’ TBR. Then there was my remembering how much Destiny @ Howling Libraries gushed about this. Finally I had a good long think about whether I’d want this as an audio or read the actual words and writing if it’s really that good. I went with hurry up and get to it, listen to it.

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I’m a big fan of Destiny and her book blog. She really really really loved this book, like really really really really. 😉 That made me really interested even as we don’t read a lot of the same stuff. Let me say this woman READS A LOT, heck yeah kick ass Destiny, fist bump! This was a really good story (I say story not book because I listened to it). Definitely worth the audible credit but I didn’t LOVE it as much as she did. I will probably no doubt give it 4/5 stars whenever I review and maybe even 5 but for me it’s not an all time favorite. See that makes it sound like there’s something wrong with this story but right now I can’t think of anything. It really was a great original story just not an OMG for me. I certainly recommend it, I just don’t scream about it like Destiny.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater was my next Audible pick. The first two were read by women and men so when I heard a man’s voice and only a man I was a little curious. The voice stuck out to me but I couldn’t place it. After listening, and loving, I had to look him up. Will Patton. Omg I know who he is, he’s a rather well-known actor! He does an excellent job. I’m not singling him out because he’s better than the others just that I was surprised to find it was him (look up his photo if you don’t already know) and pleased with his reading as women. I heard of this book when Ellyn at Allonsythornraxx recommended Call Down the Hawk by Stiefvater. I also heard of that book at Inside my Library Mind. In case you don’t already know I love birds so bird references draw my attention, regardless of their content (that comes later). I heard from one or both of them that I might want to check out The Raven Cycle series first. Low and behold I already had the first, The Raven Boys, on my TBR! (Can’t remember how I heard of or added that one, sorry.)

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Sorry Destiny but I liked this one A LOT and I liked it more than I liked A Sorcery of Thorns. When I went to my list for this month’s pick I decided I should scroll down further instead of picking something I recently added. It’s really easy to forget books you added months or years ago. You keep adding books and something is bound to capture your attention and make you read it right now, pushing the last dozen down the list. I keep seeing Call Down the Hawk because it’s near the top and that made me think about how I wanted to start here. So you’ve got some reference to birds, fantasy, lots of books by this author and great recommendations, and of course a cool blurb. I went for it and I am so happy. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series though that means I have to wait for my next month’s Audible credit. But do I want any physical copies? Oh lord…

Stay tuned for my review of these books.

Lastly, I’m currently listening to The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (just saw I’ve got a newer book of hers on my list as well), narrated by Liyah Summers. In my notes I have that I read a review of this on Books Tea Bee’s blog and she pushed me over the edge to add this to my TBR, meaning I’d heard of this elsewhere but after reading her review I finally decided to add. After adding it I think I saw Destiny @ Howling Libraries had DNF’d it, not sure I ever found out why but that stuck with me. Listening to it now – enjoying the narrator, she does a lot of different accents very well – I am a little less than attached to it. I’m trying to pay more attention for the sake of my writing to be honest. I want to pinpoint what it is that isn’t working for me because I don’t want to make the same mistake in my own writing. It’s not bad writing and it’s not a bad story but 5 hours in (out of 25!) it feels disjointed. When I make note that it’s 25 hours long (holy moly, the other three are around 12-16 hours) I’m thinking things really pick up and I hope they do. It’s not a DNF for me at all but if I had to rate it this early on I’d give 3 stars.

How’d I pick this? Daily deal. $5.95 and I needed a new audio book to listen to while I work. And it was on my list so why not? Simple as that. AND 25 hours means I won’t be craving a new audio book as soon. 😉

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The next question is, what book will I pick for September? Probably I’ll go with The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater but we’ll see. 😉

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What about you, do you listen to audio books? How do you pick them? Any you recommend? And that’s it for Audio Book Talk Part 1, stay tuned for Audio Book Talk Part 2, in which I talk about why audio books do and don’t work for me as a writer.

Hit the Follow Me button somewhere on this page and stay tuned. Maybe you want to hear about me being a writer or maybe you want to hear about me being a reader. I can be long-winded but what the hey, there’s a lot to say. 😉

My Review of The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) by Deborah Harkness

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Info from Goodreads:

The #1 New York Times bestselling series finale and sequel to A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night

Fans of the All Souls Trilogy sent this highly anticipated finale straight to #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Bringing the series’ magic and suspense to a deeply satisfying conclusion, The Book of Life is poised to become an even bigger phenomenon in paperback.

Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

Paperback, 561 pages – Published May 26th 2015 by Penguin Books (first published July 1st 2014)

My Review

4-4.5/5 stars (depending on the day)

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Trigger warnings: violence, mention and talk of rape(s)

Sorry it has taken me SO LONG to get this posted but I did it. Lol. Hopefully before the month is up I can get you a post regarding my thoughts on the TV adaptation of this series. Let me just say I’m not happy, although it was still interesting…mostly…sort of…*sigh*

I was all set to give this book 5 stars but I’ve been re-thinking it. The Goodreads’ rating system is what I refer to when I’m thinking simply about how I feel.

  • One star – did not like it
  • Two stars – it was okay
  • Three stars – liked it
  • Four stars – really liked it
  • Five stars – it was amazing

Four stars for sure as I really liked it but I got stuck thinking how I loved this book but I don’t know if it necessarily is amazing. Ugh… and yet I think the series as a whole is pretty amazing.

While I disagree with a lot of other reviewers I do agree that this book has a lot of flaws. I’ll be more transparent here. Okay, I was set on five stars right and then I read several other reviews with two stars that made some pretty valid points in terms of unanswered questions. Then I felt kind of embarrassed that I still liked this book so much when Deborah Harkness and her editor(s) really missed some key points, or didn’t care to include them. That said I think it says a lot about the book that even without those answers – some of them key plot points – I was wholly satisfied with the ending. And yet, even as I think about these complaints I recall that I’m very sad to see this trilogy come to an end as I will miss the characters.

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Unlike the bad reviews I didn’t mind the large amount of characters, especially those brought back from the other books. Sure there was a lot to keep up with but I think Harkness did it well. For the most part I found the majority of the characters, especially all the “important” ones, to be distinct. There are some very satisfying character reveals. As far as characters are concerned, five stars all day!

She does change POV from chapter to chapter and it is a little strange at times. I can’t say I loved it, this being one of the complaints from the bad reviews. For me these changes were like that little bump in the sidewalk that you don’t catch when you’re strolling along having a lovely time and then OPE, you trip but catch yourself and turn around like WHAT THE HECK! Huh, what a nice little rush of adrenaline. And you walk on, BUT you DON’T fall and wreck your day. These POV changes tripped me up a second but the bulk of the story kept me moving along swiftly.

Maybe half way through the book I felt like I did after a couple seasons of the TV show True Blood. (I did not read the books by the way.) It got weird and not in a cool way. It was like they were trying too hard to make things extra different. I started to worry about this happening in The Book of Life. If you’ve gotten this far in the series you already know Diana is an incredible witch with all the powers a witch can have. Sure that’s a trope that bothers some from the get go, not me, and it might bother even more people as her power grows and grows. But let’s be honest, that’s what this story is about. This story is about that extraordinary moment in time when everything changes. A time when two powerful people discover each other and more about themselves. In my humble opinion, tropes are a problem when the story and characters are lacking, perhaps that’s why the bad reviews exist, because for those people it was lacking. I disagree; I think the story itself carried its weight. The content woven in and out, the character arcs and the constant discoveries, however great or small, worked for me.

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All in all I can’t make a decision, some days it’s 4 stars, others it’s 4.5. Either way I was satisfied. My great aunt has finished book two at this point and she’s on to book three so we’ll see what she thinks about this finale.

As I mentioned there is a TV adaptation of this series on AMC (pretty sure). It’s over now but of course you can find it on demand on Sundance or AMC (depends on your subscriptions of course). They are planning a second season, and I will watch it no matter how frustrated the first one made me.

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In other news Deborah Harkness published her latest book (and I do believe the first since The Book of Life) Time’s Convert (All Souls Universe, #1) in September 2018. I think it’s fair to say it’s a paranormal fantasy romance that follows the history of Marcus – Matthew’s vampire son – up to the present. I’m not sure yet how I feel about reading this but I’ve signed up for a giveaway so if I win then of course I’ll be reading it. We’ll see.

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Thanks for reading everyone. Please let me know what you think about this series if you’ve read it or maybe you want to? If I’ve introduced you to the series please do give me a shout out. See you next time!

My Review of Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness

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Info from Goodreads

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Hardcover, 584 pages – Published July 10th 2012 by Viking Adult

4/5 stars

This book deserves a Wow as well. Forgive me as I stumble over reviewing this because I’m not so sure how to do so without spoiling some of the first book. It’s like seeing a preview to a movie sequel before you’ve seen the first one, now you definitely know that one lady lives because she’s in the second trailer. So then I say to you dear reader, if you haven’t read the first book, A Discovery of Witches, and you think you will, don’t read this yet. I recommend you just go right to reading it or you can read My Review of A Discovery of Witches. I have no doubt if you enjoy the first one at all you’ll have to read the second. By all means if you’ve read the first and are still unsure, then read on! Or please if you’ve read them both or the whole trilogy and want to discuss your thoughts and feelings read on and let’s chat. I’d love to hear how you thought it worked or what didn’t. However, PLEASE do not spoil book three for me!

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Okay, some basic spoilers to follow…

This book got saucy with the romance, which we knew it had to but not being a regular romance reader it made me blush. While the author went there with the intimacy I don’t think she overdid it. The scenes weren’t long and drawn out and many times they concluded or started with other bits of useful information. I really appreciate that about a writer, when they don’t box a scene up to serve one purpose. If you don’t like romance or reading about intimacy AT ALL, you’ll probably get more than a little annoyed. That being said, Diana and Matthew’s relationship is central to this story so, pick your battles. Oh and for those of you that might be triggered, there are a couple aggressively passionate love scenes between Matthew & Diana. They’re not abusive or unwanted, they’re just…intense to say the least. If you ask me, regardless how you feel about love scenes, the overall story is worth it. The scenes are at least PG-13 – R-rated, but don’t quote me on that.

Traveling back in time as we did was really interesting. I wondered how it would work out and if it would. Harkness did not disappoint with her research and ability to make it work in a natural way even though time travel is so unfortunately unnatural. Spoiler: she did not force the concept of hiding it from everyone. Lesser or less experienced (pardon me) authors might try and make you believe no one noticed Diana was out of place. You don’t just slip back into the 16th century unnoticed. Nope, not Harkness, she works with and through that. The other characters’ responses to such details are great.

Now, do I think this book had to be 584 pages? No. It would not have suffered from leaving some more pages on the cutting room floor. At least halfway through the book you might be feeling like you’re more than ready to move on from time traveling. There were at least a few places where they mentioned going back to the…future/present and I got excited for a change of pace. Alas it did not yet come. But that’s not to say the time spent in the past was full of the same monotonous routine. Not at all. A lot happens in 1590-1, interesting twists and turns full of creepy people. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot we could have skipped.

That’s probably my biggest critique besides Deborah Harkness’ love for lots of setting and time period details, not my favorite. If I liked this amount of detail than she deserves a high five. 😉

This book is full of emotion. There’s so much going on what with Matthew returning to a past he once knew, people he once knew and loved. We get to dive into his vulnerability and watch him fight to unfold, unfold and then come back together again. The relationship with his father Phillipe is very special, never mind that Phillipe himself is a well-written, nuanced character. I do hope they personify him well in the TV series because he’s so iconic. It would be an enormous shame should they miss the mark. We meet a lot of other great characters, including Matthew’s nephew Gallowglass. The characters alone are a great reason to read this book.

This book really gives us a chance to get to know Matthew better. Plus I really enjoyed getting a better look at the history of witches, vampires, and daemons. The traditions and ceremonies were fun, sometimes drawn out, but still interesting.

Lastly…

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I want to address something I saw people complaining about in the first book: Matthew’s dominant, aggressive personality and behaviors. It seemed his character got the feminists all riled up. Don’t forget that Diana is more than attracted to Matthew, she’s wildly in love with him, all of him. She’s more than capable of handling herself and is in no way an unwilling participant or victim here. I am not implying that whatever he does is made okay because she loves him. Nor am I saying that love somehow makes abuse okay. I’m also not saying that a woman who can handle herself can’t be abused. All I’m saying is keep it in the context of the story. Diana is not abused or taken advantage of by Matthew. But there are OTHER people who abuse and physically harm Diana, as we saw in the first book.

It’s not okay to hurt or (try to) control another person, whether you’re a man, woman or child. It’s also important to be able to distinguish an abusive person from a personality you just don’t care for. Masculinity is not toxic, but not unlike femininity, it can be.

Deborah Harkness didn’t create a chauvinistic prick in Matthew. No, she created a 1,500+ year old alpha male vampire with heavy emphasis on the fact that he is a predator, and I mean predator as in the animal kingdom, not a sexual predator. Matthew is very cognizant of his domineering behavior and worries about the parts of him that make him dangerous. In the first book you discover that he is avoiding being intimate with her. He’s worried about the possessive nature of a vampire once they take a mate. I get it if the aggression triggers you and any trauma you may have experienced, and for that I’m sorry if you have those experiences. I’m very sorry if you or anyone you care for has been affected by abuse and/or violence of any kind. It’s never acceptable for anyone to be taken or used in any way against their will. I do not condone violent masculinity and I’m not supporting it here. But there’s a difference between highly masculine men and abusive masculinity. However that is NOT what is happening in this story with Diana and Matthew. His over-protectiveness is not the abusive kind; he has EVERY right to be worried about and for her. His behavior cannot be taken out of context. And lest you forget, Diana more than handles herself when she thinks people MIGHT being pushing her around.

Diana and Matthew’s relationship is not an abusive one. While there are elements that might trigger you, kept in the context of the story, you will see that there is a real relationship of love and compassion. And let me tell you, Diana does more than what she wants. There are more than plenty of instances where Diana will annoy you because she doesn’t listen and just goes and does what she wants. Trust that Diana very much her own woman no matter.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments, but not your book three spoilers. 😉 If you read this based on my referral please give me a shout out on your blog and link back to me here. I will start reading Book 3, The Book of Life, immediately following so stay tuned for my review of that in the next couple weeks. Then I’ll give watching the AMC TV series a try, although I’ll tell you right now, I don’t like their pick for Matthew.

Thank you! If you want to read more of my reviews, CLICK HERE.

You can also see what I’m reading at 2019 TBR

Or what I plan to read soon Spring 2019 TBR

My Review of A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness

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Info from Goodreads:

(My review from Oct 2018 follows)

Book one of the New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy—”a wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People)

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar’s depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, and concludes with The Book of Life, coming from Viking in July 2014.

Paperback, 579 pages – Published December 27th 2011 by Penguin Books (first published February 8th 2011)

My Review (Oct 2018)

4.5/5 stars

I’ll start off by saying Wow and then I’ll say my biggest issue with this book was it’s very long, which isn’t wholly bad but I don’t love lots of description of place and setting and there’s a lot of science and history (I don’t necessarily dislike but…) that doesn’t drive the story forward. For a lot of people the science and history is doing to be a distracting, dragging deal breaker. If you can push past it, do. That said I’m also often an impatient reader; I think I just want to hurry up and get to the active parts! 

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This really is an amazing story, whether you’re a romance fan or not (I’m not). There are typical tropes of course, which may also be deal breakers for you (I for one tend to roll my eyes at them to say the least, however…) The romance is just one element that happens to be central to the plot. There’s so much going on beyond their relationship it doesn’t overwhelm the story. It’s thrilling, mysterious, and very well written. Deborah Harkness does an excellent job throwing curve balls. She also excels at character development. Even thinking about the characters now (there are many) they all stand out and carry their roles in the story well. I love when an author fleshes out their characters and they really do become their own thing, person, being. She does all of that. I will add that if you can’t stand extra masculine characters who happen to be VERY OLD (think immortal vampire) thus they’ve got some traditional “I’m the man” behaviors then you might not be able to stand this. But if you can get over that and see passed that for what it is, Matthew’s overall character as an alpha vampire, you might come to respect it especially given his sensitivities.

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The plot is compelling, especially the main characters Diana and Matthew. Their attraction to each other and resultant behaviors is exciting to say the least. Through their relationship (emotional and physical) we learn a lot about vampires. It’s a really neat way to present that information. I find this presentation to be unique (disclaimer: I do not read a lot of vampire/witch etc stories). I like her consistent reference to them being predators and their behaviors as such, instead of them just being these magical scary beings. The underlying system of magic is great, there are clear definitions of beings and yet we’re reaching for this mystery that connects us all throughout the story. Of course we’re learning about witches all along as well.

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Sure there were times when the story was slow, but all in all it was worth it. There’s some more cliches near the end that are kind of corny and hard to swallow but I ran with it; I think the story is strong enough to survive them. And there may have been some minor discrepancies here and there (little bits that read like huh?) but when the STORY CHARACTERS are this good things like that roll off the duck’s back and you forget all about them. I didn’t know what to expect when I discovered this book but I was impressed early on, declaring I would no doubt be reading the whole trilogy (waiting to receive the other two now). For me this was a story that had I had to review (check-in) throughout the book I wouldn’t have given it 4.5 stars but when viewed as a whole I’m happy giving it 4.5 stars. If you like Fantasy, especially witches and vampires, I recommend this book. It’s not all mushy love – though there’s plenty of desire & I appreciate that it never goes overboard – rather it takes us through the complexities of life as witches, vampires and daemons (not as much of the latter, which is fine). We see their behaviors, their needs, their history, it’s fascinating. Humans aren’t the only ones with prejudices and the life of these others creatures is rife with them. So what happens if a vampire and a witch fall in love? Why doesn’t Diana use her magic and what does it mean if she does? Why is Matthew so powerful? Can he reconcile his primal behaviors and needs? We get these answers in this book, even if not all of them and there’s clearly more to learn in the next two, the answers here are fully satisfying. The power these characters exude is fantastic. Let me say it’s palpable. So check it out. Happy reading!

I’ll amend this with what might be a little bit of a spoiler and say

I read someone else describe this as a kind of mash up of Da Vinci Code & Twilight. I like the Da Vinci Code; I’m not a Twilight fan. In an effort to remain honest, I agree for the most part. So if you hate both of those proceed to this book with caution. 😀

Have you read this and/or the trilogy? What did you think? As I post this (after the fact) I’m reading book #3, The Book of Life so don’t spoil it for me! 😉 But I’d love to know what you all think. Will you read it now? Let’s chat, I love to chat!

If you’re interested in knowing what else I’ve read, am reading or plan to read let me provide you some links!

My Reviews

2019 TBR

Spring TBR

My Review of The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

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Info from Goodreads:

(My review follows)

The natural magic of the classic The Island of the Blue Dolphins meets the danger and courage of The Hunger Games in this dazzling, intricate stand-alone fantasy novel set in award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst’s beloved world of Renthia.

Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.

To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her.

They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.

368 pages – Published March 19th 2019 by Harper Voyager

My Review of The Deepest Blue

3/5 stars

It was very difficult for me to rate this book. In part because I’m a fan of this author and her Queens of Renthia trilogy as well as her book Lost (unrelated to this world or series). I think reviewing a book is made even more troublesome when you’ve been anticipating its release and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. That’s what happened here.

While I enjoyed the story, and I already enjoy spending time in Renthia, there are a number of things that felt superficial and missed their mark. I liked the main character Mayara. She’s tenacious and brave, and full of love for the people she cares about. The book opens beautifully on Mayara and Kelo’s wedding day. Right off the bat we get a taste of why Mayara’s family sometimes calls her reckless. We know this protagonist is going to take us on an adventure. For the most part the opening to this story was spot on. There is some spoiling that goes on in the rest of this review, not in detail but enough detail to spoil the story some or a lot.

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But then there were things that started to get to me. For instance, mentioning repeatedly how Mayara gets ready for a deep dive, how she compares so much to getting ready for a deep dive and every time she takes deep breaths we have to remember that that’s what she does when she’s getting ready for a deep dive. *Sigh.*

A major pet peeve of mine when it comes to reading in general, and something I’m trying to remember as I write my own book, is opportunistic writing, as I like to call it. I don’t like when characters are just made to fit because you need them to. Or turns in the story just go that way because the author needs them to, not because they flow naturally. In the case of this story, Mayara’s new found friend Roe has apparently been studying in secret and yet she seems to be no better at controlling the spirits than Mayara? How and why? In this case, if you’re going to make your character be awesome, more awesome than they should be, then build that case for us please. Don’t just say yup there you go, that’s how it is, Mayara is just a natural. Break some scenes down for me. Don’t just tell me oh yeah she’s not so good but then, she’s still got this. What does she figure out that helps her that she didn’t know before? How does she break through what she doesn’t know? Don’t just keep reminding me she’s not practiced but then showing me she’s plenty capable. Show me something in Mayara’s character that makes her special with regard to the scene. Other than her ability to swim and dive. Expand on these things.

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Again, these are notes to myself as I write and to all of us writers in addition to critique of this story. Remember show-don’t-tell is a relevant, worthwhile piece of advice. Even if it’s just a little scene or a little tidbit or even something that isn’t obvious, put it in there to show us this character has an edge. Show me, don’t just tell me they do. And don’t keep telling me about the same quality, that’s not enough to carry me through believing and rooting for her. Yes she’s brave and fearful and that’s real, but go deeper please. Show me how it comes to be that she navigates through these murky waters (pun intended) instead of expecting me to roll with it because she’s the main character, and ya know, that’s how it goes.

The author constantly tells us that Mayara likens every challenge to a deep dive and here’s the ritual that precedes it (please no more). Give us more of her inner character and how she breaks things down to get through them, but please know that once you’ve told us a couple times you don’t have to spell the same thing out every time thereafter. (Have I done it enough with regard to this detail? That’s how it felt reading.) It was things like that by the way that made me wonder if Mrs. Durst wasn’t getting confused with her art of writing middle grade. I’m probably reading into that since I know she writes in different age groups, nevertheless, that’s how I felt, that she at times forgot she was writing for adults.

Back to what I was saying: she tells us about getting ready for deep dives. (OMG, this again, really eLPy?) Tell us more about what’s happening that makes her capable of handling the spirits when, in this part of the world, girls hide their affinity for fear of being found out and sent to the island for testing. They don’t get to explore their affinities on their own or often. And maybe expand on this especially for those of us who have read the other series. What did Mayara miss by not being able to study her affinity? What does everyone miss? Don’t spend so much time on the same elements of love and Kelo and her family. Now she’s face to face with this affinity that she’s had to hide, how does she face it? What does that feel like for her to confront this?

It’s fair to say that we know from the start that this girl is going to be our hero, she’s going to go to the island. But what happens once we get there and even the immediate lead up to their departure feels so forced! She just so happens to be the last girl and now they’re off? So everyone else got to train for some undisclosed amount of time and she’s just shit out of luck? I know I’ve already given some spoilers here but I don’t think they’re too consequential however I won’t go into much detail in terms of other incidences that bothered me once they got to the island. All said and done for me it felt like the author tried too hard by not being creative enough to make Mayara the heroine. How? Why? How? There’s a lot that was opportunistic. Put her in a desperate situation because that’s what these stories do. Right? NO, don’t do that! I mean do it but show us readers how and why, not just because that’s what you think the story needs. Build us a sand castle but show us the tools, the methods, the failed attempts, the learning curves, the successes. Show us that the “it-just-so-happened-that” moments are realistic in your story, they don’t just happen. They happened. Don’t remind me I’m reading a made-up story.

Things like: so and so got injured so ya know, it’s all up to Mayara. Really? I mean, really? How perfect that our heroine has to do it on her own instead of someone more qualified with the spirits. Really? The whole scene on the island was tied up like a bow and way too neat. And I’m sorry but I was really hoping for the diversity of spirits that we saw in the previous trilogy. It’s really an inconsequential thing but I got sort of bored with the spirits seeming to be of the same five or so forms.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Sarah Beth Durst and I will continue to read her work. I do hope she continues in this world, in fact, I hope she explores the entire world, that whole darn map she drew for us! But please don’t sew them all up so nicely. I love happy endings, I’m not saying leave us with some sour bitter ends, but don’t make the bow so damn perfect!

There were some nice twists in this story, some conclusions that were satisfying but the end result as a whole was very disappointing because it was SO similar to another book she wrote. How did Mayara with her supreme lack of experience and training with spirits wind up in THAT position? I was left shaking my head going “REALLY! HOW?!” At least in one of the Queens of Renthia books the character built up, and worked up to her position. It didn’t “just-so-happen”. There are what should be deep emotional conversations that fall flat and/or feel like they’re written for a younger group. Then these violent scenes that are like whoa, was that for shock and awe, oh yes this is for young adult/adults. All in all, perhaps this book was rushed. It missed its mark for me. I don’t dislike Mayara or the other characters but I’m not connected to her. Do I want to see her again? Meh…sure? But give her some more meat please, more emotion, more depth.

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While you may think I’m a jerk and mean and all that fun stuff at this point – that’s fine – I will say I very much enjoyed the sociopath we met in previous books, Lady Garnah. She is a well-developed character who is both loathsome and likable in the strangest way. I dare say I had to root for her a few times. This character has had time to marinate and she works. She exhibits the difference between rushing a character and/or forcing their story to your will and allowing them to be who they are in the story. She was a welcome surprise and an A+ for me.

At the end of the book Durst explains that she wanted to write a book about someone growing and strengthening from love, not just pain. In her personal experience she grew a lot from her love for her husband and her family. I respect and admire her making this attempt to approach this from a different angle. That said while she didn’t completely miss the mark she kind of did because for me she tried so hard to stay on the love page that it felt like she may have deliberately avoided character and story development that leaned too much towards pain and hardship. I hope if we see Mayara again we get a full pallet of the colors of her personality and a deeper look inside.

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And it is with a heavy heart I give this book 3/5 stars. I have to be review with integrity so there it is. Sarah Beth Durst keep going, I can’t wait to read more, but this one I think IMHO needed more time in the oven especially given the deep philosophy behind what you were attempting.

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Note to myself and all authors, not every main character should be a queen.