International Monster Slayers Book #2

For those who missed the announcement on my social media pages, I’m excited to reveal the title of book #2 in the International Monster Slayers series: THE BITE OF WINTER.

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WOOHOO!

Three months have passed since Phoenix liberated Moose Lake from Dasc’s clutches and put an end to his plans. The resident werewolves have recovered from their ordeal, but Phoenix has become plagued by nightmares and wrestles with the most crucial part of being an IMS agent—killing monsters. But her job is far from over.

 

When Phoenix discovers Ashley has been arrested by IMS agents in Duluth, she rushes to aid her friend who claims she was attacked by a vampire. Determined to uncover the truth, Phoenix joins forces with the Duluth team and their investigation leads them down a bloody path to a clever foe.

 

But this new danger isn’t Phoenix’s only concern. After receiving a summons to Underground, she’s forced to confront the source of her nightmares as she discovers Dasc isn’t done with her yet. With dire consequences looming from her choices and the lives of the werewolves in her hands, Phoenix must decide just how far she’s willing to go in order to save them all.

 

Add it to your to-read-list on Goodreads! The cover reveal will be up next. Stay tuned for other special reveals and giveaways!

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo

Current theme song: “Wolf” by First Aid Kit

Current stage in process: Writing Book #3; waiting on beta reader comments for Book #2

Camp NaNoWriMo has begun and I’m in the thick of it.  Because of that, this post is going to end up relatively short.

I’m currently working on book #3 of my YA urban fantasy series and have been pushing myself to reach a daily word count goal higher than I’ve ever set for myself. I’ve been making good headway but I’ve reached the point where my mind hits the brakes. I’m incorporating new ideas and plot threads I hadn’t considered when I outlined but become apparent when I’m writing the actual book so it slows me down until I can figure it out.

I realize I keep mentioning this YA urban fantasy series but haven’t said much on what it’s about. The idea for the series came to me when I decided I had enough of YA stories that focused solely on romance. Romantic relationships are not the only inspiring and touching relationships out there. Family is extremely important to me and a cornerstone in my life. So I decided I wanted to write a story focusing on a sister and brother where their main goals aren’t looking for their soul mates but protecting each other.

Their relationship is the core of the story in which they work for a secret government agency to both defend and slay a plethora of mythical creatures. It’s Supernatural meets Men in Black. Out of all the novels I’ve written to date, I’ve had the most fun with this series.

BONUS PICTURE (rough concept art of the main characters):

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Well, that’s it for me. Time to drink an excessive amount of caffeine and keep on writing. To everyone else participating, keep going! You’re doing great! Who cares if you haven’t taken a shower in a while or have eaten nothing but Sour Patch Kids? Look at all the words you’ve written!

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The Monthly Review: Stars Above

Stars Above

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Published: February 2, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 369

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Fantasy

RATING:

5-stars

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

 

I loved The Lunar Chronicles. I know other people had their issues with it, saying the world wasn’t as fleshed out as it could be or there were slow parts, but I really did enjoy this series. Stars Above is a collection of short stories that focuses on each of the different characters, and it was a great way to close out the series.

Each of the characters throughout this series were well-crafted, and I loved them all—except Queen Levana of course (Fairest was so perfectly twisted, by the way). I was especially intrigued to read the first short story on Scarlet’s grandmother, Michelle Benoit. After reading that, Michelle’s fate becomes so much more poignant. The story about young Carswell Thorne in school had me laughing constantly. Each of the stories just gave me more background to the characters and more depth to the series as a whole.

I must say, that final story with the wedding had me up and running around like a madwoman at the end. There have been so many YA stories I’ve read where the final chapter makes me feel exhausted or not all that happy with the conclusion (Mockingjay or Allegiant, anyone?). Not this series. This is what I want when I read a book to escape reality. I want the characters I’ve shared a tumultuous journey with to have their happy ending. I want all the struggles and hard work to be worth it. I want them to have the biggest win they possibly can. Because, dang it, someone’s got to have a happy ending around here!

So, say what you will about this series. I loved it and will continue to recommend it. Go you, Marissa Meyer. Go you.

 

The Monthly Review: Calamity

CalamityCalamity by Brandon Sanderson

Published: February 16, 2016 by Delacorte Press

Pages: 421

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Fantasy

RATING:

4&half-stars

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.


David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back…


But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back.
Or die trying.

 

If you haven’t read the first two books (Steelheart and Firefight) I suggest you get reading straight away. Seriously. Run to your library or local bookstore and check them out immediately. I gobbled up this series and the last book, Calamity, didn’t disappoint.

Since I’m reviewing the final book in a series, this review will generally cover the series as a whole. This story follows David, a young man obsessed with taking down taking down Epics (humans with powerful abilities who turned evil) ever since his father was killed by one when he was a boy. David is perhaps one of the most fun characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. He’s impulsive, loyal, humorous, and intelligent yet so oblivious in certain respects. And those metaphors, guys. The metaphors. The series is worth it for David’s mind-bending metaphors alone. They are so specific, utterly hilarious, and strange but tend to make perfect sense once he explains them. (i.e. “I’m like…well, I’m like a room-sized, steam-powered, robotic toenail-clipping machine.” She cocked an eyebrow. “I can basically do only one thing,” I explained, “but damn it, I’m going to do that one thing really, really well.”)

David is joined by a cast of other memorable characters, both friend and villain alike, that you root for or despise (certain ones even both!). The action is excellent. The settings are so unlike anything I’ve read, but I mean that in the best way possible. The series starts in Newcago—Chicago turned completely to steel—and ends up in a city made of salt that moves. That’s right. A city that inches along like a snail as it continually builds up and collapses in a cycle. It’s bizarre and intriguing and genius.

Then we have superpowers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I love superheroes, or in this case anti-superheroes. The powers throughout the series have been imaginative, entertaining, and mind-blowingly epic (pun intended). The complexity of Megan’s gift got overwhelming at times, along with some of the abstractness regarding weaknesses and abilities, but made for some serious cool battles.

I laughed so hard at times that I scared people nearby, and the battle sequences had my heart pounding. The down times in the book were interesting but on occasion felt a little slow (probably because of how intense the high moments were). I thought it concluded well enough but not all of my questions were answered, and I desperately wanted more story at the end to explore certain transformations (you’ll know what I mean once you read it). I wanted to be more pumped at the end and feel a sense of true conclusion. For instance, I ran around my house shouting incoherently with joy when I finished The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. After finishing Calamity, I was left quietly contemplating what it all meant—not disappointed as I have been with other stories but not entirely satisfied either. For these reasons I docked half a star.

In conclusion, The Reckoners series was a fun, fast-paced, beautifully written adventure of normal people fighting terrible powers and prevailing against all odds. Don’t be a slontze. Please read this series.

 

The Monthly Review: Red Queen

 

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Published: February 10, 2015 by HarperTeen

Pages: 383

Genre: YA Distopia, Science Fiction

RATING:

  2 1/2 Stars

“This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart …”

 

I picked this book after seeing all the positive reviews and reading the intriguing book blurb (and I’m a fan of the cover. Don’t judge me.). I was sold on the whole super powers thing (I’m a big superhero fan) and the powers in this series were interesting, plentiful, and diverse. While I would have liked some discussion on how they got their powers, it’s possible that will be discovered in another book down the road.

It takes awhile for the story to really get going, and I admit that my attention wavered several times due to the fact that it felt very akin to other dystopias I’ve read. You have the lower class citizens (Reds) that are under the powerful heel of the upper class (Silvers); the main character Mare is a girl that defies her position in what little ways she can (being a supreme pickpocket); she has family that she tries desperately to protect; there are displays of power by the Silvers to break the spirit of the Reds; and once Mare is forced into the world of the Silvers there is a fair amount of pageantry.

Things picked up once Mare’s secret power was revealed and she’s thrust into the world of Silver intrigue and power. However, I had a hard time buying into the king and queen’s decision to claim Mare is a long lost Silver that was raised by Reds in order to use her public display of power to their advantage. As the story continued, there were other occasions where the believability just wasn’t working within the rules of the world. I was ready for some action and intense stuff to happen, which did in some respects, but I found the pacing to be off, which threw me out of the story. It also didn’t help that the major twist at the end had been spoiled for me before I got to it. If that hadn’t happened, maybe I would have viewed the ending differently, but it still felt like the build up died off right before the major twist. Also, I just didn’t feel the emotional impact in the end. In truth, there were no characters I was really rooting for.

There was romance but it wasn’t a clear love triangle like you get in a lot of YA novels. It was more of a confused feelings-fest for Mare. She couldn’t quite decide how she felt about anybody, and there are reasons for that, but there were decisions she made that didn’t jive with her previous actions. The character development just wasn’t there for really any of the characters, unfortunately.

In the end, this book and I just didn’t click due to pacing issues, an inability to connect with the characters, and serious distopia setup déjà vu.