Friday, October 20, 2017

OwlCrate, October 2017

OwlCrate is a monthy subscription box where you get sent a new YA book and all sorts of cool merch and goodies, all pertaining to a certain theme.

This month's theme was FIND ME IN THE FOREST! Here's all the stuff I got in my box this month. If you want to sign up for OwlCrate, their website is here.

This month's box included...

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. A magical realism story focusing on a family of women who can make beautiful plants grow anywhere they wish, but at a cost: they can never leave the grounds of their garden estate, and anyone they fall in love with will vanish. I've never heard of this book, but I'm excited to see what it's like -- the cover is gorgeous, and the plot sounds intriguing.
  • A coaster with a cute drawing of a fox on it.
  • A mug with a picture of the Hogwarts grounds on it.
  • A tea blend that's inspired by Robin Hood -- the package says it's flavored to taste like blueberry pie, so we'll see how that works.
  • A candle inspired by The Raven Cycle.
  • An art print of San from the anime classic Princess Mononoke.
  • Magnetic bookmarks inspired by Where the Wild Things Are (which I actually didn't realize where in there at first and nearly threw out with the box. Oops).
There's also a preview for next month's theme: CASTLES, COURTS, AND KINGDOMS. Can't wait!


Thank you so much for reading this unboxing post. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Books Featuring Demons

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was books featuring the fantasy creature of your choice!

This topic will revolve around one type of paranormal creature of your choice. So books featuring vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, demons, fae, zombies, etc. 

I decided to go with demons because I find their place in pop culture and folklore to be fascinating, and it's always fun to see how they're presented in different canons. I ranked this list by taking into account both how much I enjoyed each individual book, and how good the demons are in them. So, while some books may be better than ones on this list, if their portrayal of demons wasn't, they don't make the cut.

5. Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill

Bug is eighteen and alone in the world. She's about to lose her crappy apartment and her job delivering pizza, and on top of everything else, she now has a demon knocking on her door. It turns out that her deceased grandfather quite literally sold his soul for his (admittedly awesome) Cadillac, but somehow managed to dodge payment after he died. And he put up Bug's soul as the collateral.

I ranked this book on the low end of the list because, as much as I enjoyed it, the demons were actually pretty disappointing. But as a book, I highly recommend it -- it's funny, touching, and blends a familiar urban setting with a unique plot and memorable characters.

4. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the demon king, and since birth, she has been training to kill him. No one expects Nyx to survive when she's shipped off to the king's castle on her seventeenth birthday, and all she can hope for is that she can bring him down with her. However, as she gets to know the king, Nyx finds herself sympathizing with him, and gradually, falling in love.

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and, as I mentioned in my review of it, it's gloriously trashy. It's a very quick beach read, perfect for when you want something that's not too serious.

3. The Merciless series by Danielle Vega

This teen horror series of three books and counting begins when Sofia moves to a new school in a small, rural town in Mississippi. There, she befriends a trio of popular, ultra-religious girls, who induct her into the group by baptizing her in the school bathroom. When the clique's leader finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her with the school troublemaker Brooklyn, she tells Sofia she thinks they can "save" Brooklyn. Sofia isn't sure what she means, but agrees to help... but when she comes to the basement and sees Brooklyn tied up and screaming, and the rest of the girls preparing for an exorcism, she realizes she's bitten off more than she can chew.

This series has had its ups and downs, but I really love it, especially with the spooky, Southern Gothic setting. The fourth book is slated to come out sometime next year, and I hope it holds up to the rest of the books -- or even surpasses it.

2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

As I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, this novel about a demon and an angel teaming up to avert the apocalypse is my favorite book of all time. It's hilarious, from start-to-finish, and hosts an incredibly strong ensemble cast. Namedropping everything from obscure religious figures to rock stars of the 1990s, this book is a journey that I enjoy every time I take it.

And, hey, it's getting an Amazon miniseries next year!

1. The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This book isn't even two months old yet, but it's already become one of my favorites. In a world where humans can make deals with demons -- one body part in exchange for one wish -- our main character Dee makes a deal with the Agathodaemon; a two-year lease on her heart in exchange for tuition money. As long as the Daemon possesses her heart, she has to work for him. In two years, Dee will get her heart back, and be free to go.

This novel is simply wonderful. The world and characters are intriguing and memorable, and the story ranges from tragic to uplifting in mere pages. The reason I ranked it higher than Good Omens is because I really love the way demons and their deals work in this world -- I thought it was really clever and creative, and opened the door for more stories to take place in this universe. I really hope more people read and get into this book soon, because it deserves all the recognition it can get.


Thank you so much for reading this list. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

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Monday, October 16, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

TITLE: Uprooted

AUTHOR: Naomi Novik

GENRE: fantasy

PLOT SUMMARY: Every ten years, a wizard known as the Dragon takes a girl from a small village, who is to work for him for a decade. In exchange, he protects the village from the evil entity known as the Wood. This time, Agnieszka is sure it'll be her best friend Kasia that is picked. Kasia is beautiful, brave, talented, and charming -- just like all the previous girls. But when the Dragon comes, it isn't Kasia he wants.

FIRST THOUGHTS: This is a book I decided to read, and got very excited about, because every person I knew that read it seemed to love it. So, I gave it a go, and... eh. It's okay. I try to avoid DNFing books whenever possible, but this was a struggle to get through -- not because it's horrible or anything. It's not. It's just also not great. I'm honestly kind of baffled about what the big deal was. My main complaint about this book was that it was, honestly, pretty boring for the most part. Which is a shame, because the summary on the back cover sounded awesome.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: I saw another reviewer say that this book read like an entire saga crammed into one volume, and that sums up my issues perfectly. There were at least three plots going on here, and as a result, they all felt rushed. This is a dense book, and it does not work in its favor. While the individual plots on their own were fine, and would've made good stories, mashed up together, it felt confusing and made it a slog to get through, at least for me.

4 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: Okay, for this section, I'm mainly going to hone in on the two leads: Agnieszka and the Dragon. On their own, they're both decent characters. I thought Agnieszka was a bit dull and a little too idealized in some places, but she was far from the worst main character I've ever read, so okay. I also thought the Dragon was a good character; mean, snarky, technically on the side of good, noble, but kind of a douchebag. That's not a bad character by any means! The problem, in my opinion, was the romance between these two characters. The Dragon acts like an infuriating tool for most of the book, and Agnieszka is understandably frustrated with his pissy attitude... until the point she starts making out with him. Look, I got from the back cover that these two were gonna end up together, and I enjoy a good hate-to-love story. But the Dragon changed after Agnieszka began to fall for him -- meaning, I have no idea why she fell for him in the first place. Why does she want to be with this guy who's treated her (and everyone else) like crap this entire time? It makes no sense. Honestly, if Agnieszka had wound up with Kasia, it would've been a much better story.

4 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Really slow-paced. If you've been following this blog for a long time, you know I prefer fast-paced reads to slow ones, 9 times out of 10. In spite of having too much story crammed into one book, this book also managed to take forever in getting to the point. Also, while the prose was nice and the descriptions were very vivid... there's only so many times I want to read a description of a forest.

6 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: I've already mentioned the, uh, "romance" that, for lack of a better phrase, reads like Twilight, so I'll let that go. (But seriously, what does she see in him?) Since the setting is in a medieval fantasy world, there is, naturally, a bit of misogyny to be had. (Some of it coming from the Dragon. Shock. Surprise. To his credit, he gets better.) There are also no POC characters or queer characters in the book. (Ugh.) One thing I will say in the book's favor, however, is that in spite of the fact that Agnieszka is one of those "completely average" YA protagonists (you know the sort; she's plain, and clumsy, and totally not unique at all until the plot goes out of its way to prove that yes, she is the Special), there's a nice lack of Not Like Other Girls syndrome. It would've been really easy for her beautiful, feminine best friend Kasia to be a villain, so I was really glad the book didn't go that route.

4 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: ...I don't get it. I hear there's a movie in the works, so I may check that out, but probably not, especially if I'm the one paying for it. I really don't understand all the hype around this book. Needless to say, this was a huge letdown.



Thank you so much for reading this column. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

If you've read Uprooted, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! Tell me what your opinion of the book is in the comments down below.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

If You Like That Movie, Try This Book!

Finding new books to read can be hard, especially if you already have an idea of what you like. Here are ten popular movies, and a book you might enjoy if you liked it!

1. The Craft -- The Merciless

THE MOVIE: Sarah, a telekinetic teenager, moves to a new town, and is taken in by a clique of girls with a dark secret: they're witches. After a ritual grants the girls great power, the consequences soon become more than Sarah bargained for.

THE BOOK: Sofia is new in town, and is relieved when a trio of popular girls take a liking to her on the first day. However, when her new friends decide that a fellow classmate is possessed by the Devil, Sofia finds herself in over her head.

THE OVERLAP: The Merciless could almost be viewed as The Craft in reverse. Both are supernatural stories focusing on interpersonal conflict and violence in a group of girls, with a touch of gothic horror.

2. Ginger Snaps -- The Moth Diaries

THE MOVIE: Brigitte's best friend in the world is her older sister, Ginger. The two girls are outcasts for their obsession with the macabre and deadly, and only have one another. When Ginger gets bitten by a werewolf and undergoes radical personality changes, it's up to Brigitte to find a cure and save her sister from herself.

THE BOOK: An unnamed narrator is a student at a repressive, restrictive boarding school for girls. Although the school is strict and uncaring, the narrator sees it as a refuge from her tempestuous homelife, especially because of her friendship with a girl named Lucy. The status quo is interrupted by the arrival of a mysterious new girl, Ernessa, who takes an interest in Lucy and slowly causes the narrator to be overcome with paranoia. Is the narrator lost in her own head... or is Ernessa really a vampire?

THE OVERLAP: Female dynamics, hot monster girls, and a whole lot of bloodshed. Great Halloween viewing/reading.

3. Gone Girl -- Reconstructing Amelia

THE MOVIE: Nick Dunne finds himself as the primary suspect when his likable, beautiful wife Amy goes missing. As he attempts to clear his name, we find out he's been keeping more secrets than he can keep track of. We're also shown flashbacks to before Amy went missing, but there are hints that something's been left out.

THE BOOK: Kate is heartbroken when her teenage daughter Amelia dies suddenly, from falling off the roof of her exclusive private school. Amelia's death is officially ruled as a suicide, and Kate has no choice to accept it -- until she gets a text message from a blocked number that reads, "Amelia didn't jump."

THE OVERLAP: Dark and addicting thrillers, with more plot twists and unreliable characters than you can shake a stick at, focusing on the ways people manipulate and lie to each other for the sake of appearances.

4. Enchanted -- Extraordinary*

THE MOVIE: Giselle is the archetypical Disney princess... who's just fallen into modern-day New York City. Giselle must find a way home, while at the same time learning how to navigate the real world, where you can't just burst into song, and where dreams do not always come true.

THE BOOK: Everyone knows the story of how Jennifer Van Den Burg's life was changed forever by the sudden arrival of her fairy godmother, who made her a princess and hooked her up with the man of her dreams. However, it's just that: a story. Jen is now setting the record straight -- starting with the fact that her "fairy godmother" was a creepy, unpleasant man who had a nasty sense of humor and a murderous streak a mile wide.

THE OVERLAP: Hilarious fractured fairy tales that mercilessly make fun of the standard Disney formula, while at the same time paying tribute to it.

5. Heathers -- Kill the Boy Band

THE MOVIE: Veronica is an unhappy member of the school's popular crowd, who falls hard for a rebellious new boy named JD. But when the bodies start piling up, Veronica realizes that JD isn't so much a mysterious and disaffected loner, and more of a murderous psychopath. One that's hopelessly in love with her.

THE BOOK: Four teenage girls are bonded by one thing: their favorite boy band, The Ruperts. They rent a room at a hotel where the band is staying, all in the hopes of meeting them. But one thing leads to another, and soon, they've got a member of the band in their room... tied to a chair against his will. (And on top of that, he's the lamest member by far.)

THE OVERLAP: Dark and hilarious satires of modern (or then-modern) culture, featuring gloriously messed up leading ladies and unhealthy relationships.

6. Shakespeare in Love -- My Lady Jane

THE MOVIE: William Shakespeare has writer's block, and can't seem to finish his latest masterpiece -- the beginnings of what will later become Romeo and Juliet. Viola de Lesseps, meanwhile, is enthralled with Shakespeare's work, and disguises herself as a man so she can audition for his next play. William soon discovers the truth, and the two begin a secret affair.

THE BOOK: Lady Jane Grey has three problems. One: she's been married off against her will to a man she barely tolerates. Two: said man turns into a horse at night. And three: she's about to become Queen of England. Not that she knows that yet. The historical Lady Jane was queen for nine days before being executed, but there's no reason the facts need to get in the way of a perfectly good story.

THE OVERLAP: Lighthearted romances that take place in history, and make a brief nod to it before chucking it directly into the trashcan, for the sake of humor but also the Plot.

7. Pulp Fiction -- Six of Crows

THE MOVIE: Three stories, centering around two assassins, a boxer who's in hot water with the assassins' boss, and a holdup at a diner gone seriously awry, told out of order. Darkly hilarious and bloody, featuring some of the most iconic lines and characters in film history.

THE BOOK: A thief, a spy, a magic-using refugee, a sharpshooter, a runaway, and a convict are forced to team up to pull off an impossible heist. If they succeed, they'll be rich beyond their wildest dreams. If they fail, they die, and the consequences for the world at whole will be unimaginable. No one expects the Crows to survive, much less succeed, but their leader has an unmatched talent for doing the impossible. And as it turns out, pulling off this heist will be easy in comparison to controlling his crew.

THE OVERLAP: Complex and potentially confusing thrillers, focusing on a group of likable ne'er-do-wells. Funny and clever, and worth the extra time it takes to get through them.

8. Coraline -- Skulduggery Pleasant

THE MOVIE: Unhappy to have been moved to a new town, Coraline discovers a secret doorway in her bedroom, which leads to a magical world. The Other World is bright, beautiful, and full of people that adore her -- but once she's there, Coraline's Other Mother isn't too keen on letting her leave...

THE BOOK: Following the death of her uncle, Stephanie Edgley meets Skulduggery Pleasant, a sarcastic but likable man with a mysterious past. When Stephanie finds out her uncle was involved in a world of magic and danger, she insists on being taken along. Which Skulduggery does. Reluctantly. (Oh, and did we mention that Skul is a walking, talking skeleton?)

THE OVERLAP: Spooky and unnerving stories for children, where an ordinary girl is thrown into a fantastic world. Both feature the sort of humor and scary moments that make you wonder if it isn't more for the adults.

9. (500) Days of Summer -- The Romantics

THE MOVIE: When Tom meets Summer, he's convinced that she's perfect, that they were brought together by destiny, and that Summer is his soulmate. These are the 500 days it took for him to realize he was wrong... on all those counts.

THE BOOK: Love has a plan for everyone... but they can't stop you from screwing it up. Gael is absolutely crushed when he finds out his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend. Crushed enough to do something drastic like chase the first girl he meets afterwards. In this love story, narrated by Love itself, Gael attempts to navigate his heartache, while dating the wrong girl. (Cue the sounds of Love screaming in frustration in the background.)

THE OVERLAP: Postmodern, hilariously sarcastic takes on the modern romance. Specifically, the idiocy that gets in the way of the modern romance, and all the chaos that ensues.

10. The Big Sick -- Everything, Everything

THE MOVIE: Kumail is an aspiring standup comedian who meets and falls in love with a woman named Emily. He hides their relationship, since his parents would disapprove. This hurts Emily, and she ends the relationship, only to be taken to the hospital soon thereafter with a serious illness.

THE BOOK: Maddy hasn't left her house in eighteen years, due to an illness that makes her literally allergic to the outside world. She only ever sees her mother and her personal nurse, and has no friends. That is, until Olly, a boy about her age, moves in next door, and the two begin secretly texting and exchanging notes.

THE OVERLAP: Dramedies focusing on a romance between two very different people, one of whom is deathly ill. Bittersweet, but still lighthearted and enjoyable.
Well... get reading!


Thank you so much for reading this column. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

I'm thinking of making this sort of "If You Like X, Try Y!" column a regular feature on this website, so if you enjoyed it, please let me know! And if you have any ideas for future pairs, themes, or rec lists I should do, feel free to suggest them.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Series I Won't Finish

When you read as much as I do, you come across some books that just weren't worth the time. These are some books where I started the series, but for one reason or another, I don't intend on carrying on. If I come up with more titles, and people seem to like this sort of thing, I may do a part two at some point in the future.

So, without further ado, here are the series I won't be finishing.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Starting with a controversial one here! If you've read my review of the first book, The Raven Boys, you know that I just did not get all the hype for this series. Like, at ALL. I found the first book confusing at best and boring at worst, and I had a hard time connecting to the main character. I'm glad other people enjoy it, but I just did not.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'll be the first to admit that I probably read this book a little too young. I was twelve -- and I think the book would be perfectly fine for a lot of twelve-year-olds, but not me. A lot of the deeper themes flew over my head, and while I liked the first book okay, I wasn't interested in the second. And, I'm still not. I admit this is partly sheer stubbornness, since back when the first movie came out, it seemed like everyone was obsessed with these books. (The quickest way to make me refuse to give something a second chance is to tell me I'm wrong for not liking it.)

The Program by Suzanne Young

The first book was... eh. I thought the premise for a dystopian world where suicide is a national epidemic was interesting and unique, but by the end of the first book, every character I actually liked was dead or worse. I wasn't drawn into the world or story enough to care to continue.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

A grimdark take on the land of Oz gone seriously wrong. I was apprehensive about this one from the start, since Dorothy Gale is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, and this series makes her the main villain, something even Wicked, the OTHER grimdark Oz book, did not do. Still, I gave it a fair chance, or at least tried to, and was utterly disappointed.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo

Okay, so I did not expect this book to be great literature. (I mean... look at the title.) But it wasn't nearly fun or entertaining enough for me to just roll with the silly premise, and I found the main character's love interest to be utterly insufferable. Also, if you have a book about Jack the Ripper, and I don't even care who the Ripper is... that's a bad sign.

Confessions by James Patterson

I read the first book in this series, Confessions of a Murder Suspect, and... everyone was a jerk. Everyone. By the end of it, I didn't even care who did it. I found the main character to be unrelatable and boring, and I don't think this book needed a sequel. Much less three.

King Dork by Frank Portman

The main character of this book was an insufferable, misogynist creep. Why would I read another book of that?

The Selection by Kiera Cass

I didn't even make it through the first book. A lot of people have called this series a guilty pleasure, and I can see why others enjoy it, but it didn't work for me. Guilty pleasures need to be equal parts fun and stupid, but this was mostly just stupid. (No offense to anyone that liked it! It was just not my thing.)

The Outliers by Kimberley McCreight

Another first entry I reviewed for this blog, though that one was a bit more scathing than the one for The Raven Boys. I really enjoyed McCreight's Reconstructing Amelia, so I was disappointed that this book failed to grab me the way that one did.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is another "it's not you, it's me" entry. I thought the premise was really cool, and I especially loved all the photos that were included in the narrative, but it just didn't grab me well enough for me to carry on. Life is too short to spend on series you're not invested in.


Thank you so much for reading this list. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

What are some series YOU won't be finishing? Tell me about them in the comments below!

I should also note that I put the book I was reading, Three Dark Crowns, on the backburner. I didn't officially declare it a DNF since I do want to get back to it someday, but I just was not getting into it, at least, not right now.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Susie's Halloween 2k17 TBR

Boys and girls of every age, wouldn't you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will see this, our town of Halloween!

THIS IS HALLOWEEN, THIS IS HALLOWEEN--okay, okay, so it's still September and Halloween isn't until the last day of October. But don't blame me for getting into the spirit of things early. I've seen some of y'all celebrating in July.

In the spirit of our creepiest, darkest holiday, I've compiled a list of books I want to read by the end of Halloween night. All of these have a darker, more sinister tone than my usual fare -- which makes them perfect for October.

1. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

I've already started this one! A dark fantasy, this is set in a world where every generation, the queen gives birth to three triplet girls. When the sisters come of age, they duke it out for the throne. I'm enjoying this book so far, though the prose does make it a bit hard to get into. I'm excited to see how it ends. (No spoilers!)

2. Truly Madly Deadly by Hannah Jayne

A murder mystery, where a teenage girl's abusive boyfriend dies in a sudden accident... and she gets a note that simply reads, "You're welcome." I've actually had this book on my shelf for literal YEARS, but I've never gotten to it. Until now!

3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I'm probably the most excited to read this book out of everything on this list. In the village in which Agnieszka lives, a wizard known as the Dragon protects the citizens in exchange for a girl being handed over every ten years. Everyone knows being chosen by the Dragon is a terrible fate, and Agnieszka is terrified that this time, he'll choose her best friend, Kaisa. But it's not Kaisa he wants; it's her/

4. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Picture, if you will, two college roommates, thick as thieves. Then, fast forward ten years. One's a supervillain. The other is on a crusade to kill everyone with superpowers. Chaos ensues. I've heard amazing things about this book, and I hear it's becoming a series, so I can't wait to jump in.

5. Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

I actually had the pleasure of interviewing Kali Wallace for this blog a couple months ago (see here), so I'm excited to start this book! Breezy wakes up in a grave a year after her death, with no memory of what happened. Now, she must solve her own murder, and figure out why she's alive... or at least, awake.

Five books in just over a month is ambitious, but I have faith that I'll be able to knock at least a couple of these out this month. Stay tuned for the reviews!


Thank you so much for reading this TBR list. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

What books are you looking forward to reading this spooky season? Tell me about them down below!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

DNF: Entwined by Heather Dixon

TITLE: Entwined

AUTHOR: Heather Dixon

GENRE: fantasy

SUMMARY: After the death of her mother, Azalea and her eleven younger sisters are confined to the castle for a year in mourning. There is to be no going outside, no wearing colorful clothing, and no dancing. However, one night, Azalea finds a secret passage in their bedroom. The passageway leads to a beautiful pavilion, where there is only one living occupant: Keeper, who says the princesses are welcome to come and dance there whenever they like. But Keeper isn't all he appears to be...

HOW FAR I GOT: 280/472 pages

WHY I DIDN'T FINISH: Fairy tale retellings tend to be hit or miss -- this was a serious miss. My main gripe is the character depth, or rather, the lack thereof. There are loads and loads of characters, and right from the get-go, I had difficulty telling any of the princesses apart. There are attempts at giving each one their own unique personality, but it just did not work for me. And the secondary characters were even worse; I could scarcely tell the difference between Azalea's love interest and a character she utterly despises. I also felt like Azalea herself was a really flat and uninteresting protagonist. The only two characters with really distinct personalities were the King, Azalea's father, and Keeper. Unfortunately, the big twist about halfway through the story, in my opinion completely robs Keeper of any real character depth and complexity. Another issue I had is that the worldbuilding felt very... incomplete. I barely understood what the rules of the magic were, and didn't really care to figure it out. Overall, this book isn't so much bad as it was boring.


Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

If you've read Entwined, I'd love to hear your thoughts below. Alternatively, if you know of any other adaptations of The Twelve Dancing Princesses that you enjoyed, tell me about them!

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Monday, September 18, 2017

OwlCrate, September 2017

OwlCrate is a monthy subscription box where you get sent a new YA book and all sorts of cool merch and goodies, all pertaining to a certain theme.

This month's theme was MYTHICAL CREATURES! Here's all the stuff I got in my box this month. If you want to sign up for OwlCrate, their website is here.

This month's box included...
  • Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows. The first in a new trilogy (by one of the authors of My Lady Jane -- awesome!), this story follows Mira, who has lived a charmed life... until now. Thrown into prison after she discovers a secret involving illegal dragon trafficking, Mira must fight to survive.
  • A book sleeve with unicorns and mermaids on it, made by Book Beau. I've never used a book sleeve before, but the one I received is beautiful.
  • Bath salts themed after the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
  • A coin purse with dragons on it.
  • A sticker with a picture of Hagrid and Buckbeack from Harry Potter -- adorable!
  • A bookmark with the words "I am the blood of the dragon." I... think this is a Game of Thrones reference, but I'm honestly not sure.
There's also a preview for next month's theme: FIND ME IN THE FOREST. Can't wait!


Thank you so much for reading this unboxing post. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SnarkNotes: The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

SnarkNotes: noun. The sort of review Susie does for books that wouldn't mesh with her usual review format. Graphic novels, nonfiction, fiction she's read before, and fiction she simply doesn't have much to say about all fall under the SnarkNotes category. SnarkNotes are usually brief and snide in nature.

Today's SnarkNotes topic is... The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell!


  • autobiography
  • nonfiction
  • comedy of the cringiest variety


  • think of the worst movie you've ever seen
  • now double it in terms of awfulness
  • now add every behind the scenes nightmare that you can think of
  • now you might be somewhere in the ballpark of what is considered to be the worst movie ever made, The Room
  • back in the 90s, Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau at an acting class
  • Tommy is objectively terrible at everything and has a difficult personality to boot, but in spite of it, he and Greg become friends
  • a few years later, Tommy convinces Greg to star in his magnum opus, a movie called The Room
  • it's a fucking disaster
  • and this is Greg's take on how it all went down


  • really funny
  • if you get the audiobook I'm told Greg does a Tommy impression (and if you've seen the movie you know why that's objectively amazing)
  • I love behind the scenes stories, especially ones for movies as (in)famous as this
  • a surprisingly touching story about friendship and following your dreams
  • or, you know, the danger thereof


  • found myself skimming over some parts
  • sadly only shows Greg's perspective, which, for such a magnificent shitshow, really is not enough
  • the bits with Tommy's possibly-fake backstory felt a bit pointless to me
  • as someone who is interested in film production, reading the bits about the filming made me want to devour myself inward out of sheer secondhand embarrassment (which I think was the intent)
  • honestly a lot of the most hilariawful parts of The Room aren't NEARLY as funny once you know how awful it was for the actors


  • I don't normally read nonfiction but I'm glad I read this
  • I would LOVE to see similar works from other cast and crew members (except Tommy)
  • I'm also really excited to see the movie that's coming out later this year
  • it has Dave Franco and Zefron, how bad could it be?

RATING: 6.5/10

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

TITLE: Crooked Kingdom

AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo

GENRE: fantasy

DISCLAIMER: This review will contain spoilers for the first book in the duology, Six of Crows. If you haven't read that book and wish to go in unspoiled, stop here.

PLOT SUMMARY: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist no one expected them to survive, but the trouble's far from over. First, the man that hired them never intended to pay them what they were promised. And now, he's kidnapped Inej, Kaz's second in command, and is holding her hostage until Kaz hands over the secret to parem, the magic-enhancing drug that could destroy life as they know it. Kaz, never one to take this kind of disrespect lying down, has a plan to destroy their foe's entire life, brick by brick, until he rues the day he ever went back on his end of their deal. But getting Inej back will be the easy part...

FIRST THOUGHTS: A great followup to Six of Crows! Among all the rave reviews for this duology, one sentiment cropped up over and over: "Both books are good, but the second one is better." Now that I've read both of these massive tomes almost back-to-back, I have to agree. It's a great followup, one of the few that manages to surpass the first.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: While the first book was a straight-up heist story, the grand plan for this book can be summed up in two words: "Burn. Everything." (Okay, Kaz's master scheme is a little more complex than that, but still.) As a lover of revenge stories and a noted supporter of burning things, I enjoyed this book's plot even more than the original. I also found this one to be a bit easier to follow, but maybe that's because I was more accustomed to the world in which its set. I also liked the ending much better, and I thought that the story's conclusion was fitting. It completes the story and leaves the reader satisfied, but still leaves plenty of openings for future installments, whether they include Kaz and his crew or not.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: The six leads from the first book are back, and better than ever. It was interesting to see how all the characters have developed from the start of Six of Crows, and how they continued to grow throughout Crooked Kingdom. I also really liked the side characters introduced in this book, especially Jesper's father, a much-needed compassionate adult in this series. (Seriously, for all the stealing, lying, and murdering our protagonists do, they're all like eighteen at the outside.) I also appreciated how much better developed the series' villains are in this book compared to the last. Don't get me wrong, they're still evil, but we also get a better sense of their personalities and motivations, which serves to make them seem much more real, and by extension, like a much more serious threat. There is one major character death in this book, and while it wasn't quite in make-you-cry territory, it was an unexpectedly powerful punch to the gut. (Especially considering I accidentally got the death spoiled for me before I started reading!)

9 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Nothing to add from the last review. Bardguo is still a really talented author, and I really enjoyed reading her prose. (I also appreciated that she added a list of all the characters at the back -- I needed it.)

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: I have no notes to add from the last book -- at least, none that wouldn't get spoilerish. This is one of the most diverse YA books I've ever read, and just like its predecessor, it manages to avoid the traps of stereotyping its minorities. Disabled people, abuse survivors, POC, and queer people alike all get a turn in the spotlight. As I mentioned in my review of Six of Crows, I hope that other YA authors follow Bardugo's lead, especially since this book is as popular as it is.

10 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm really glad I took the time to read this series. While I will note that it is a bit overhyped (as popular books tend to be), it's well worth the read. I'd love to see it get adapted into movies or a series -- I think Neelam Gill would make a perfect Inej. I'm looking forward to reading The Grisha Trilogy, Bardugo's other series set in the same universe. In fact, I already own the first book, so look forward to seeing reviews very, very soon.

FINAL GRADE: 8.75 / 10


Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

If you've read Crooked Kingdom, I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

TITLE: The Hearts We Sold

AUTHOR: Emily Lloyd-Jones

GENRE: paranormal

PLOT SUMMARY: Dee Moreno needs money. Fast. She's about to lose her scholarship at boarding school, and she can't go home. Home means returning to her abusive father, which is the worst thing Dee can imagine. Fortunately (or, unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), demons exist in this world, and they'll make deals in exchange for body parts. The demon Dee meets offers her all the money she'll need for school and more -- in exchange for leasing her heart for two years. The demon keeps his end of the bargain, but Dee soon finds that keeping hers will be harder than expected. The demon has a very specific reason for needing heartless teenagers available to do his bidding... one that leaves no guarantee they'll survive until their contract is up.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I honestly had no idea what I was expecting when I went into this novel. It was OwlCrate's book of the month for August, and honestly, I'm really grateful that they sent it to me -- I don't know if I would've bothered with it if they hadn't. Trust me when I say this book is worth your time; it's original, exciting, and thought-provoking. The world its set in is like ours, but not at the same time; it seems familiar at first, but the further you go, the more you realize just how different it is. It's a great concept that's executed really, really well, and I hope more people discover it soon.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: One interesting thing to note about The Hearts We Sold is that, ultimately, it's a tiny look into what we can assume is a huge story. There are loads of demons around, making deals for their own reasons, but we only get to know one demon and a handful of people who made a deal with him. We don't even get to meet everyone who's dealt with him before! In a way, though, that works to the book's advantage -- it stops the world from getting too expansive and confusing. We're peering through a window to a very small part of this world, and the part we get to see is great. The plot is very fast-moving, encompassing the most stressful few months ever, building on itself until the big finale. I was sad when I reached the last page, but the ending is satisfying and ultimately fits the story very well -- and it leaves room open for sequels, if the author decides to go that route. (Even if she doesn't, the fanfic writers can have fun with it.)

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: Although the main focus of the story is Dee, this book features a strong ensemble. There's James, an artist who's Dee's love interest, Gremma, Dee's rambunctious roommate, science whiz Cal, team mom Cora, explosions-happy Riley, and the Agathodaemon, the demon Dee makes her deal with. While not all these characters are as well-developed as Dee, they all help make the story feel much more real. I really loved the character of the Agathodaemon (or the Daemon, as the humans call him -- don't call him Aggy), and I wish we'd gotten to see more of what his deal was. He's a private fellow, rather strict, and doesn't seem to care much for humans, so we only get to see brief flashes of what's really going on inside. But those brief flashes are what made him a genuinely intriguing character, even when he serves as a pseudo-antagonist. He's not evil, per se, but he's no hero -- which is part of what made his dynamic with the heartless troop so fun to read.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: This is one of those books that pulls you in from the first line. I was immediately hooked. From there, the narrative kept a tight hold on me until the very last page. Most of the chapters are from Dee's point of view, but there are a few that focus on the other members of the heartless troop. I was surprised by how well these worked; each chapter had its own distinct tone and voice to fit its focus character, and none of it felt confused or redundant. I also liked how the author introduced us to the rules of this world; the fact that Dee is relatively new to the whole thing means we learn as she does, so there's a nice lack of infodumping. This is a very quick, easy read; it sucks you in instantly, and it's near-impossible to stop until you get to the end.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: What a pleasant surprise! While the story isn't super-political, Dee is half-Latina, and one of the side characters is a lesbian, while another is trans. Both queer characters and open and proud of their identities, but neither are defined by them. This is a book that most authors, at least in my experience, would've made very straight and white, so I was glad to see that Lloyd-Jones didn't. Representation in stories that aren't necessarily political is every bit as important as stories that are political.

7 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: I deeply enjoyed The Hearts We Sold, and I'll definitely check out anything else the author puts out in the future. This book is pretty new, so it's not super-popular, but I'm glad to see it's been getting good reviews -- hopefully it'll find a proper fandom soon, because it really deserves it. I'd be interested in any sequels, or any other stories set in this world. The author has a good concept here, and it'd be a shame for it to stop with Dee's story.



Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

The next book I'm reading will be Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, but after that, I'm leaving it up to a vote by my Patrons. Patrons can vote HERE -- become a Patron now to have your say!

If you've read The Hearts We Sold, I'd love to hear your thoughts below!

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Friday, September 1, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

TITLE: Six of Crows

AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo

GENRE: fantasy

PLOT SUMMARY: Kaz Brekker, a teenage mastermind residing in crime capital Ketterdam, is recruited to perform an impossible job. If he fails, he dies -- and, frankly, not a lot of people will miss him if he does. If he succeeds, however, he'll be rich beyond his wildest dreams. But to pull it off, Kaz will need help; a spy who can collect secrets on anyone, a sharpshooter who can't resist a bet, a runaway from the privileged world Kaz never knew, a refugee using magic to survive Ketterdam, and a convict who hates Kaz and everything he stands for. Kaz and his crew are all that stands between the world and horrific destruction... that is, if they can survive the job.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I'd heard many, many people rave about this book, but I admit, I wasn't expecting it to be as incredible as it was. While it did take me awhile to get used to the setting, as well as figure out what the rules of this universe are, the characters and plot were compelling enough for me to stick it out. I know this book and its sequel, Crooked Kingdom, take place in the same universe as The Grisha Trilogy, which is on my TBR, but I haven't actually gotten around to it yet. I wonder if things would've been a little less confusing at the start if I'd read The Grisha Trilogy first. Either way, this book was highly enjoyable -- I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: I love a good heist story, and this was no exception. As I mentioned above, it's a bit hard to get your bearings in this book, since it's set in a different world with different rules, especially pertaining to magic, and that can make the first few chapters hard to get through. Or, at least, that was the case for me. That said, once the heist part of the story begins, that's where things really get good. While I occasionally got lost with what was going on, it held my attention from the very first page. My only real complaint, besides getting lost in the worldbuilding, is the ending. It's not that it's not good, it just feels like the story's not done. A lot of plot threads are left hanging for the sequel, which I never loved -- even in series, I prefer for each book to be its own contained story. I kind of wonder if the author intended for this and Crooked Kingdom to be one, extremely long book, only to have to cut it up into two shorter ones.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: This book has a lot of characters. We have six leads, all of whom get multiple focus chapters, as well as multiple side characters and antagonists. It's a lot to keep track of! But each of the leads is highly distinct and unique in their own way, and it's quite easy to keep track of who's who. I loved all six of the leads -- though I admit I'm less enamored with Kaz than a lot of the readership seems to be. He's a great character, and a very compelling one, but holy shit, what an asshole. That said, it's very intentional, and he has just enough moments of actual humanity that you can still root for him. (Especially since the antagonists in this book are truly vile.) My favorite character by far was Nina, but I really enjoyed each of the leads.

9 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Leigh Bardugo's prose is really excellent. It never gets too infodumpy, while still explaining enough things about the world that the reader can at least figure out what's going on. Overall, I don't have much to say here -- I tend to only have a whole lot to say about writing style if it's really, really bad. This was the furthest thing from.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: Other YA authors, take notes! Six of Crows features a wonderfully diverse, non-stereotyped cast -- POC, queer people, disabled people, and survivors of abuse are all in leading roles here, and none of them are degraded or reduced to a stereotype. Especially refreshing is the treatment of Inej, who is a former sex slave. We hear about Inej's past on Inej's terms -- no fetishy flashback scenes to her abuse, no talk of her being "defiled," no victim-blaming whatsoever, and no, absolutely no part of the narrative being given to her abusers. This isn't their story to tell -- it's hers.. And while Inej is obviously greatly affected by the trauma she went through, she is not defined by it by any stretch. Overall, this book is one of the best in terms of representation I've seen, and I hope other YA authors follow Leigh Bardugo's cue.

10 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: I need to read the sequel, like, yesterday. If you like low fantasy, heist stories, or diverse, eclectic casts of characters, you need to read this book. I greatly look forward to reading Crooked Kingdom and The Grisha Trilogy, and I hope Leigh Bardugo writes more stories in this world soon, because she's really created something great.

FINAL GRADE: 8.5 / 10

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Friday, August 25, 2017

10 Book-Buying Struggles We All Relate To

I like books.

(Shocker of the year.)

As a result, I frequent bookstores, and I've run into a lot of issues of the years. Here are some I think we can all relate to, and cry over.

1. When your nearest bookstore is... lacking.

It smells funny, the carpet has suspicious stains on it, it hasn't been vacuumed in six years, a family of raccoons have made themselves at home, and the phone signal is terrible. But it's all you have. Just be sure to take a shower after a trip there.

2. When you find a copy of a book you already own, but with a better cover.

It's like God is taunting you.

3. When your TBR is already a mile long.

You already have a million things to read -- your to be read list is too long for you to ever actually conceivably get through it. The last thing you need is to go to the bookstore and add more books to it.


4. When your favorite genre's section is TINY.

There are 10 books in this section. You've read them all. You own them all. There hasn't been a new addition in about six years. You are desperate for new content, and you check every single time you go book-shopping. But it'll never come, so you just stand there, staring at the shelf (or half-shelf), sighing to yourself with each disappointment.

5. When the staff won't leave you alone.

You get that they're trying to be helpful, but sometimes, you just want to browse in peace and quiet.

6. When the only cover you can find is of the movie poster.

WHY?! It's especially annoying when the movie adaptation isn't even good.

7. When they don't have your favorite book.

Yes, you already have it, but if this store doesn't carry it, then how will everyone ELSE discover it and experience that sort of wonder and joy and awesomeness? Carrying your favorite book is really a public service, and they should get on that.

8. When you overload your bag and it rips.

Hard mode: it happens as you're crossing the street and you have to scramble to gather all your books before you get run over.

9. When you can only afford one book... but you want 12.

Decisions, decisions...

Oh, who are we kidding? If your self-control is anything like mine, you'll just buy them all.

10. When you're so broke, you can't actually justify getting a new book... but you still want it.

So then you just stand there, calculating if  maybe you can go without something this pay period.

Like food.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

OwlCrate, August 2017

OwlCrate is a monthy subscription box where you get sent a new YA book and all sorts of cool merch and goodies, all pertaining to a certain theme.

This month's theme was SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES! Here's all the stuff I got in my box this month. If you want to sign up for OwlCrate, their website is here.

This month's box included...

  • The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. Dee makes a deal with a demon; her heart in exchange for an escape from her awful home life. But she soon gets more than she bargained for, and she's thrown into chaos with other "heartless" teens.
  • Sleepy Hollow & Other Stories by Washington Irving. A short story collection, including one of the most famous horror stories of all time, featuring the Headless Horseman.
  • A fountain pen, with three refills! If I can ever figure out how to use it...
  • A lapel pin, inspired by The Hearts We Sold.
  • Socks with Edgar Allan Poe on them. Um... YES.
  • Coffee, specifically, the Dark Arts Roast. I don't drink coffee, but I'm sure someone in this house will appreciate it.
  • A sticker inspired by This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (which has been on my TBR forever).
  • A bookmark inspired by Six of Crows, which I am actually reading right now. (And loving it so far!)
There's also a preview for next month's theme: MYTHICAL CREATURES. Can't wait!


Monday, August 14, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Merciless III by Danielle Vega

TITLE: The Merciless III: Origins of Evil

AUTHOR: Danielle Vega

GENRE: horror

PLOT SUMMARY: All Brooklyn wants to do is help people. So, when she gets an anonymous call on her helpline, she decides to look into it when the police fail to follow up. Her search for the truth draws her into the social circle of Christ First Church, especially the pastor's friendly, intense son, Gavin, and his rebellious daughter, Hope. But the closer Brooklyn gets to Gavin, the harder time she'll have breaking away... and she doesn't have a clue what's in store once she gets in too deep.

FIRST THOUGHTS: The Merciless series is back, baby! I raved about the first book, so when the second entry of the series was such a disappointment, I was worried about this one. But I'm so glad I decided to stick with it. There's no official word yet as to whether there'll be a fourth book, but I really hope there will be -- there are way too many directions this series could go, and way too many unanswered questions for the story to stop here. While I still enjoyed the first entry in the series the most, this third novel, a prequel story, was a huge step up from the second, and I'm very optimistic about the future of the series.


THOUGHTS ON PLOT: I was really excited once I heard that this book would be a prequel; specifically, detailing the events of how Brooklyn became possessed by the Devil. It's not a prequel you can read before the other parts of the series -- it'd be understandable, and still a pretty good book, but having the full context of the story is what really makes it work. It's amazing how much tension Vega manages to draw out of the plot, despite the reader knowing from the start what's going to happen. You already know what the finale holds, and yet you actively dread it, and hope that somehow, the unhappy conclusion will be averted. There is a romantic subplot, but unlike the first book, it's actually vital to the main plot, which was a nice surprise. I did groan when I realized it was a love triangle, but it wasn't quite as bad as some other ones I read.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: Brooklyn is my favorite character in The Merciless series, so I'm happy to report that this book really did her justice. I like that her pre-possession self is still recognizable as her post-possession self, and yet so different. She's not all sweetness and light, and you see that darkness lurking within her, and yet she's still so, undoubtedly good. Part of what makes the story work so well is the tragedy of it all; we know we're going to have to watch as this good, genuinely kindhearted person slowly slips into evil, and there's nothing we can do to stop her. I was also really pleased to see Riley from the first book again; she's not quite the freakshow we know just yet, but give it time. Part of the fun of prequels is seeing flashes of the characters' future selves, and we definitely get that here. Riley isn't quite as present as she was in the first book, but her appearances serve to deepen her character in a surprising way. (A way that I think would be lost on a reader who hasn't already read the first two books.) Gavin and Hope are both delightful little basket cases in their own ways, and while I saw the conclusions of their characters coming from pretty much the moment they were introduced, I did really enjoy them. I also really liked Elijah, the other end of the love triangle Brooklyn finds herself entangled in. (Though, honestly, for a couple chapters there, I thought they might be angling for a love triangle between Gavin, Brooklyn, and Hope. Ah, well. Missed opportunity, I guess.)

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: The problem with reviewing series is that sometimes, things can get a bit repetitive. I'll keep this brief -- there's no real step up or step down from Vega's previous writing style. She's still great, and very engaging. And, as mentioned above, the fact that she managed to keep tension high despite the reader knowing how the book will end is quite impressive.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: I've already discussed my mixed feelings towards this series' take on religion, so I'll let that rest until something new comes up in future installments. For now, let's just say: it's complicated. In terms of representation, this is a bit of a step down -- there's only one POC in the book, and she's not the lead, the way Sofia was in the previous books. I also take slight issue with the way abuse is portrayed in the book. At first, it seems to handle it very, very well, but the problem when you have demonic possession in your book is that sometimes, messages your book sends about the evils humans can do unto each other without demonic influence can get... mixed. If you just take it as a story, it's fine -- it's not overtly problematic, and it avoids falling into a lot of common, sexist traps that a lot of horror stories do. But if you read too deeply into it (as I tend to), it can get a bit... icky. Without getting too much into spoilers, I will also warn you that incest is brought up in one character's backstory -- we don't see anything, and it's not described in great detail, but tread lightly if you're worried about it.

5 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, a huge improvement from The Merciless II, one that's left me eager for the next book. I really hope any future installments manage to meet or even surpass the awesomeness of the first book, but for now, I'll settle for "nearly as good." I hope more people discover this series soon, because it's really great, especially if you enjoy a good twisted tale of human morality.



Thanks so much for reading this review! If you've read The Merciless III, tell me what you thought down in the comments below!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

15 Things You'll Definitely Do While Querying

The query process, or, as I like to call it, the Devil's fetish scenario, is a grueling experience for us writers. It's where our book is done, edited, and polished, and now, we need an agent who can help us get published. So, we send our baby out into the world, asking for someone, anyone to represent it... and instead get our guts handed back to us. Usually in the form of a polite but somehow soulcrushing email. Yeah, the query process is brutal at best, downright traumatizing at worst.

But there is one good thing about suffering: it's great fodder for columns.

Here are the fifteen things you'll definitely do while querying.

1. Get a headache from how many options there are.

There are thousands of literary agents to choose from. Literally. Thousands.

There's no shortcut here. Just settle in and prepare to read a thousand different websites use a thousand different ways to say... basically the exact same thing.

But God help you if you get two different agencies' requirements mixed up.

2. Realize you really suck at getting to the point.

A large part of the query process is summing up your 50,000+ word novel into a short paragraph; possibly a few short paragraphs if the agent wants a synopsis.

You will suddenly realize that you ramble. A lot. Your one-page synopsis has somehow turned into five, and now, you have to figure out what to cut. But how can you possibly explain your masterpiece in only one page? Doesn't this agent know that great literature cannot be crammed into such a small space? Do they not care about every imperative detail of your magnum opus?

(Spoiler alert: no.)

3. Question EVERYTHING you thought you knew about your own book.

You can explain every detail about every character in your novel with no notice. You know the plot inside and out. You know every page, every word by heart.

And then you have to write your query letter.

Suddenly, you don't know what genre your book is. Or what age group you'd market it towards. Or who'd even buy it. Or why you want to be represented by this particular agent. And what is fiction, really?

4. Realize you don't actually know as much about the publishing industry as you thought you did.

During a single hour of querying, you will learn six new words, one of which you'll learn from context clues because even Google was stumped. And everything you learned about publishing back in 2010 is now totally irrelevant, and you have to start over. Since when did agents want you to tell you what social media you're on? Why does this agent use an online form, while this agent wants direct emails? And what the hell is a boutique agency?

(Seriously, does anyone know? I've seen the term pop up a few times, and I'm stumped. I tried Googling it. Didn't help.)

5. Wonder how much past writing experience you can claim before it becomes flat-out lying.

Anything can qualify as writing experience if you're desperate.

6. Accidentally hit "send" on at least one email before you're done.

We've all done it. If you're feeling ballsy, you can send them your real query with an apology note, explaining what happened, and hope they understand that you're only human and mistakes happen, and give you a fair shot anyway.

If you're me, you go through the five stages of grief in about ten seconds, before accepting that you've burned that bridge, and devour yourself inwards as you spiral into a vortex of shame.

7. Query two agents from the same agency at the same time without realizing it.

If you're lucky, you'll catch it before you hit "send" and stop yourself from committing this major querying faux-pas. (Unless, of course, the agency in question explicitly says they're okay with it.)

If you're not... yeah, you can scratch that agency off your list. RIP, you.

8. Obsessively check, double-check, and triple-check to make sure you didn't upload the wrong file.

More like centuple-check, if you're a paranoid wreck like me. Yes, I know I definitely uploaded the right file, because I checked it a thousand times already... BUT WHAT IF I DIDN'T?

9. Have about sixteen heart attacks before you can bring yourself to send that requested manuscript...

...and about ninety-three heart attacks after you finally do. At first, an agent requesting your full manuscript seems great! But once you hit send, you suddenly realize, there's no going back, and the anxiety hits you like a tidal wave. What if you uploaded the wrong file? What if there's a typo you missed? What if they don't like it?

What if they DO?

10. Suddenly doubt that you even know how to write. Like, at all.

And once you start doubting, you will begin to spiral rapidly. An average look into a spiral-session:

Does my book even qualify for this genre? Does it meet the standards for this genre? Does it meet the standards of any genre? What makes me think this book is truly the best it can be? What makes me think I'm even qualified to write this book? Does this story even warrant telling? Do I actually have a grain of talent in my body, or have I only deluded myself? I deluded myself, haven't I? I totally deluded myself. I managed to trick myself into believing I can write, and now I've inflicted this monstrosity upon some poor, unsuspecting agent. OH GOD, I'M A HACK.

11. Get rejected.

The email they sent didn't actually say, "Fuck you and the horse you came in on," but it sure feels like it did. Yes, unless you are the luckiest bitch alive, you are going to get rejected by a few (dozen) agents. Probably more. Usually, they'll send a form email, but sometimes, they'll detail all the reasons why they rejected you.

Pros to that: it lets you know what went wrong, and what your weak spots are in your manuscript, and sometimes, the agent is even interested in trying again if you edit your manuscript to their liking. If you're exceedingly lucky, they may even give you some pointers, and tell you how you can improve.

Cons: It's an email detailing all the reasons why they rejected you.

12. And cry.

Ice cream is optional, a whole new wave of self-doubt is not.

13. Get rejected five times in one day.

See, this is a fun side effect of sending out multiple query letters around the same time. Most agencies reply within 6 - 8 weeks, which means, if you sent two agencies a letter on the same day, there's also a chance you'll hear back from the two agencies on the same day.

So, the more agents you query on the same day, the more likely you are to also get shot down by them on the same day.

Fun fact: I once got rejected six times within an hour. It was like they were firebombing.

14. Realize that there is no escape from the query process.

Not even while you sleep. Once you've started, it's on your mind 24/7. And once you start having dreams about it, it's officially too late for you.

15. Refresh your email... every 10 seconds... forever.

So what if you sent the query literally five minutes ago? Maybe they replied!

So what if you've already checked twenty times today? Maybe they replied!

So what if you're giving yourself heart palpitations by stressing yourself out? Maybe they replied!

Repeat ad nauseum until one of them actually does reply.


What are the struggles you go through when you're querying? Tell me about them in the comments!

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