NaNoWriMo 2019: Week Three

As predicted I did make some progress in the last week, but not nearly as much as I had hoped to. There is still hope that I can still win, but it’s going to take some hard work.

I guess my lesson here is that I shouldn’t overly stress out. The pressure to “win” and his 50K is immense, especially after doing it the last two years, but the fact of the matter is that I am much more busy this year than I was the last year.

Still, I’m going to do my best to still hit it. I’ve given my boyfriend permission to lock me in a room this weekend and tell me to write. Hopefully my muse shows up!

How is everyone else’s writing going? Better than mine I hope!

Happy writing!

Review: The Way You Make Me Feel

Synopsis: Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

I’ve wanted to pick up one of Maurene Goo’s books for quite a while, so I was glad to finally get to this one. While it was often pitched as a contemporary romance, I feel it is so much more than that. It explores aspects of all different types of relationships whether they be friendships, romantic relationships or family relationships. The characters on the surface are simple, but Goo gives them depth and individuality that is refreshing. The way they play off each other and the ways that different characters grow and change, Clara especially.

Clara is a little unlikable at the beginning, but as the book progresses her motivations and reasons for her behavior become more apparent. She’s been very careful to distance herself from things to keep from truly getting hurt and watching as she slowly lets more people in and changes is wonderful.

There were a ton of moments that made me laugh and the banter between the characters were priceless. It’s own voices for Korean representation, which I love (my partner is Korean so anything featuring Korean characters, culture, history or mythology is pretty much auto-buy for me). Overall it’s a wonderful story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Also as a sidenote, how gorgeous is that cover? I’m in love with pretty much all her covers.

Happy reading!

Anticipated Releases for the Rest of the Year

There aren’t a ton of books coming out in the next month and a half that I need to have, which my bank account thanks me for, but there are a few titles I’m hoping to pick up. Here’s what I’m looking forward to and their respective blurbs.

Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian
Release Date: November 26, 2019

Pitched as Six of Crows meets Suicide Squad, this dark YA fantasy follows eight criminals as they battle their way through a subterranean realm of horrors and certain death.

In a world where magic is illegal, eight criminals led by rebellious Larkin are sent on a mission to rid their realm of an ancient evil lurking beneath the surface. Descending into a world full of unspeakable horrors, Larkin and her crew must use their forbidden magic to survive.

As they fight in the shadows, Larkin finds a light in Amias, a fellow outlaw with a notorious past. Soon, Larkin and Amias realize that their destinies are intertwined. The eight of them were chosen for a reason.

But as the beasts grow in number and her band is picked off one by one, Larkin is forced to confront a terrible truth: They were never meant to return.

Scared Little Rabbits by A.V. Geiger
Release Date: December 3, 2019

We stand in a tight cluster, high above the lake. One-by-one, we made our way up the narrow trail from the edge of campus. Now, we wait shoulder to shoulder behind the police tape. Nineteen summer students.
 
All but one.


When Nora gets accepted into her dream summer program at the prestigious Winthrop Academy, she jumps at the chance to put her coding skills to use. But then a fellow student goes missing—and the tech trail for the crime leads back to Nora. With no one else to trust, Nora must race to uncover the truth and clear her name…or she might be the next to disappear.

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters
Release Date: December 3, 2019

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.

So, do any of these sound good to you? What are you looking forward to?

Happy reading!

Review: Build Yourself a Boat

Build Yourself a Boat
2019 National Book Award Nominee

Synopsis: This is about what grows through the wreckage. This is an anthem of survival and a look at what might come after. A view of what floats and what, ultimately, sustains.

Build Yourself a Boat, an innovative debut by award-winning poet Camonghne Felix, interrogates generational trauma, the possibility of healing, and the messiness of survival.

Build Yourself a Boat redefines the language of collective and individual trauma through lyric and memory.

I picked this one up hoping that I would be able to find more contemporary poetry that I enjoyed and I was not disappointed. In this collection Felix explores a wide range of topics that could be very triggering or hard to read. Her writing is very raw and heavy, but in my opinion her voice is clear.

The styles of her poems do vary, but perfectly fit their subject matter and as you progress through the collection you can see the story that she weaves through her words. The content is very charged and speaks of pain and struggle, packed with so much emotion it will take your breath away.

If you’re sensitive to subjects such as sexual assault, self harm, suicide and harsh language, keep in mind that there’s definite trigger warnings for those subjects and more before picking this up. It can be difficult read, but there needs to be more literature and poetry that touches on the hard subjects because they shouldn’t be ignored.

Happy reading!

End of the Year Book Tag: 2019

I see this tag all over booktube this time of year, but I thought the questions translated well to blogs as well, so here goes!

  1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
    Oh yeah, multiple books. There have been a few books that I’ve partially read and need to finish, such as Robots Vs. Fairies.
  2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?
    I’m still somewhat in the mood for spooky books, but I don’t really have any plans for transition books. I’m very much a mood reader in a lot of things, so other than books for review I just go with what I’m feeling.
  3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?
    I cannot wait for the final book in Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox trilogy. I am scared of it, but I also can’t wait to get it in my hands next year.
  4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?
    I would really like to finish some of the books on my currently reading list, but more importantly I really want to get through a number of review books. The last two months have been very rough reading slump wise so I’m trying to turn that around.
  5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?
    Teeth in the Mist, Violet Tendencies, Call Down the Hawk.
  6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?
    Oh yeah, I have plans that I hope come to fruition. I need to set up a journal I bought specifically for use to better schedule my review books, blog posts and reading, so fingers crossed!

What are some of your answers to these questions? Happy reading!

Review: Summer Frost

A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion.

Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?

Overall I really enjoyed this novella that is an interesting spin on the trope of AI becoming too sentient and evolved and wreaking havoc while they try to take over. It’s a constantly debated question as to how smart is too smart for technology.

This story follows Riley, a programmer and Max and AI that was originally an NPC in a video game that somehow changed the game and became their own entity. Riley is obsessed and constantly testing how Max can learn and just how much they can evolve. Her obsession is dangerous and drastically changes her life.

Part of me feels as if this could have been longer, but the rest of me feels it was the perfect length. It was a short, succinct tale that is cautionary in a lot of ways. Could the characters have had more backstory and development? Absolutely, but they didn’t necessarily always need it.

Even though it is short, Blake Crouch’s signature twists and turns are still there and there were definitely a few that kept me guessing. If you like his writing you will probably really enjoy this as well.

Happy reading!

Review: Hunted

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

I’m a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings, though I know the market is currently over saturated with them, I still reach for them. Hunted has been on my shelf ever since it came out, so it was past time I picked it up. I’m SO glad I did and am a little mad at myself for waiting so long.

In a lot of ways the story of this book is very close to the original story line of Beauty and the Beast, but I felt that there was enough deviation to make it a unique story. The major plot points we know from the original fairy tale are there, but often with a spin on them. The backdrop and mythos she creates for her version of the story are full of depth and richly told.

I hesitate to call anything a strict favorite, but this may definitely be my number one retelling of Beauty and the Beast, plus it makes me eager to read more from Meagan Spooner and see if I enjoy her other works as much.

Happy reading!

Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this story and it’s mixed cast of characters. We are following multiple perspectives in this story and the way Barnhill weaves each of those perspectives together is beautifully done. Each character has a purpose and a different journey that they must take which is leading them to the climax of the plot. All of the characters are wonderfully sketched out and easily recognized, at least when talking about the main characters.

The world building and backstory was revealed in bits and pieces, which at times could be frustrating, but in the end all came together. There were definitely points where I wanted a little more, but it’s a wonderful coming of age story that addresses many aspects of mob mentality, fear and other difficult topics. The fantastical setting helps to soften these subjects and make them more digestible to a younger audience.

Happy reading!

NaNoWriMo Week Two Update

Well, another week has already passed and sadly I am not keeping up with what I need to write. I keep telling myself each day that this will be the day I make significant progress, but alas. I’m really hoping to power through this weekend as I do not have any major plans, so for the most part it will be me and my laptop spending time together.

I have been writing every day so that’s a win, but just not in the amounts that I need. Here’s hoping my muse drinks some caffeine and gets her groove on.

Also, though I’m not getting a ton written on my actual project, I have been jotting down notes and scene outlines in my notebook that I carry with me, so once I really get going I have quite a lot of material ready to be put to the page.

I’m hoping that this weekend will be super productive, so we’ll see. How’s everyone else doing?

Happy writing!

Tag Tuesday: Cats and Books Tag

When I found this tag I felt it was appropriate since my cat is one of the most important beings in my life. She’s my little emotional support floof, and just as anxious as I am. This tag was originally created by Spinster’s Library over on Youtube, so let’s get into it!

Calypso

1. Tell us about your cat(s)! Name, age, hobbies?
Her name is Calypso and she is six years old. She loves watching TV (looking through the window or sliding glass doors), catnip and holding down her humans so they don’t leave her. She is a bit crazy and has major separation anxiety, but when she’s in the mood for cuddles she’s the sweetest thing in the world.

2. Recommend a book that features, includes or mentions a cat?
Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams. I probably read this book way too young but it features a cat named Tailchaser as he goes on an epic quest to find his friend who has disappeared. Pretty much all the characters are cats and it includes an intricately woven world and society.

3. What’s your favorite fictional cat? This can be from literature, tv, movies, games etc
Grim from City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab. While Grim isn’t a huge character, the way his mannerisms are described are perfect and he gets even more page time in Tunnel of Bones that provide some of the best moments of the book. Even without actual communication, he has a great personality.

4. If your cat was the main character in a book, what sort of book would it be?
Oh man, probably something with a mystery in it. Calypso is a VERY curious cat which often gets her in trouble. She’s often scared a few years off my life because she wanted to investigate something and then lost her footing or misjudged her jump.

5. Recommend a book that your cat would enjoy if they could read.
She’d love something with a serial killer or murderer. She definitely has limits and will let you know if you’ve reached them. It ties into her anxiety, but when she doesn’t want to be touched the claws can come out, she’d probably like The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager since it includes murder, mystery and a game.

6. Which book or story would benefit from the inclusion of one or more cats?
Illuminae, just because I think Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman would make it even more epic if there were random cat sightings.

So that’s it! Feel free to do this tag yourself or check out other versions of it. Happy reading!