What I’m Reading: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book sat on my shelf for a while before I finally picked it up. When I started reading Caraval, I wasn’t so sure about a book that takes place at a circus type thing in a fantasy world, but you know what, it works.

Sister’s Scarlett and Tella are whisked away to Caraval, a mysterious magical show run by the mysterious Legend. The story is told in from Scarlett’s point of view, following her through Caraval. The world is painted in gorgeous colours, and the book left me longing to go to Caraval myself (somewhat like The Night Circus). But as far as I know, the only place Caraval exists in this world is in the book.

FullSizeRender-41

There was one thing I did find a bit confusing in Caravel and that was the passage of time. It seemed like days went really quickly, like Scarlett just started the day and then the day was over, which threw me off a bit. I assumed she was just losing a bit of time due to magic or something, but I’m not sure that was the intent. It was almost enough to pull me out of the book but I did really want to know who was lying and what was the truth and that mystery was enough to keep me going. Even if everything doesn’t flesh out in a book, if it keeps me reading and able to suspend my belief, I’ll end up liking it. That’s just the kind of reader I am.

Caraval is the first book of a two book set, with the second book, Legendary being released at the end of May, so not much more than a month to go if you’re waiting for it. I’ll probably be picking it up. Have you read Caraval yet?

A solid 4/5 Stars

JEH

Trying to Commit to a Publishing Schedule

One of the hardest things about self-publishing (at least for me), is committing to a publishing schedule. I’m terrible at picking release dates for my books and achieving that date. Having a day job never helps, since something always comes up that slows down book development, but as I’m currently a full-time writer until July, I’m hoping I can make some big goals and stick to them. It’s been lovely going to cafés and drinking tea, and getting so much work done on projects that I love.

IMG_5550

In the works right now I have The Circlet: Artifacts of Avalum Book 2, which is off with my beta readers. After I get their comments, it will be another round of edits before sending the book to my editor. I’m hoping to have The Circlet released in May.

The-Circlet-Generic

This week I finally found the time to compile the Black Depths Boxed Set for the complete series. I whipped together an ebook cover and compiled all the books into one gigantic read. It’s live on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords right now, and should be up on iBooks and Nook soon. If you like to read everything all in one go (or no someone who does), be sure to spread the word.

Black-Depths-Boxed-Set-Generic

I’m slowly picking away at The Chain: Artifacts of Avalum Book 3, and hope to release that in the fall, with a box set of that series to follow after a couple months. There are two books I wrote years ago that I’m planning to clean up, one of which I will release as a one off and the other that I hope to shop around to a small, literary press. Both of those should be complete by May.

What I’m trying to figure out now, is what story idea should I pursue next? I love self-publishing, and I want to write a series that is similar to both Black Depths and Artifacts of Avalum. I would like to get the outlining for this series done before I head back to my day job in July, but, as I’m also working on my short story collection, I’m not sure how much time I will have.

IMG_5553

But, here’s a chance for you to vote. My main debate right now is whether I should write another “Port-hole” fantasy, which means the characters start in this world and travel to a different, fantastical world, (similar to Artifacts), or whether I should write a 100% fantasy, where Earth does not exist (or at least the characters in the book don’t know about Earth, because they have magic, not space travel). Do you prefer fantasy that is connected to our world, or not? Let me know in the comments!

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is one of those books that you hear about forever, and that you know a lot of people love, but you just put it off because something about it doesn’t appeal to you. To me, I didn’t like the cover or the blurb, so I never picked it up. But then one day it was one of the best books available at my library for ebook lending, so I checked it out.

FullSizeRender-37

I loved it! I have to say that I became obsessed. I don’t think, looking back, that the cover or the blurb do the actual book justice. The blurb is really long and doesn’t at all bring up the books mystical elements (just that bit about her mother being clairvoyant really). What drew me into the book was the lay lines and tarot, two things I’ve always been interested in. Also, the blurb makes it sound like the book is all told from Blue’s point of view, but a lot of the book, (I’d say more than half), is told from the boys points of view.

If you like magical mysteries, Raven Boys is definitely a book I’d recommend. And if you like Audiobooks, this one is very well done.

JEH

What I’m Reading: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Young Adult Book Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

I read An Ember in the Ashes sometime last year and you can find my review of the first book of the trilogy here. I had been wanting to read A Torch Against the Night for a while, and I finally picked it up in February.

IMG_5392

I love this series. I loved the first book, and I loved the second book too. I can’t wait to find out what will happen in book three.

My favourite parts of this series are the strong characters. I love strong characters, which is probably why I love Helene more than Laia. Laia could be a little bit stronger, though she is stronger than most.

The setting and world building is great. And in A Torch Against the Night, the world expands to new destinations as more is revealed about the world.

The third books in this series (the Ember Quartet), is to be release on June 12th, 2018, and I’ll definitely be picking it up. Have you read this series yet?

JEH

 

Becoming a Full-Time Writer: The Transition

So far I’ve had two full-time weeks of being a full time writer. I will admit, it hasn’t been the smooth transition I was hoping for, yet I also feel like it is going pretty well. Part of this is because halfway through last week I admitted to myself that transitioning will take time, and developing a new routine will take time (I think they say it takes 30 days to form a new habit).

IMG_5388
Working Hard in My Office

I’ve written myself up a few draft schedules, which go something like this:

8:30 AM: Do a quick writing exercise and read a non-fiction book about the writing craft while finishing coffee/tea.

9:00AM-12:00PM: Work diligently in the basement office on short stories.

12:00P-1PM: Lunch break with reading.

1PM-130PM: Yoga/Exercise Break

130PM-4PM: Odds and Ends (i.e. other writing projects, blogging, emailing, submissions, queries, other short stories, more reading, art, journalling, staring off into space etc.)

So far, this schedule has worked pretty well, if I stick to it. But last week I ended up going out on Wednesday night to meet my writing group and worked for an extra two hours and I completely burnt myself out by Friday. So on Friday, I mostly stared off into space and got nothing done until I decided to call it a day and just watch Downton Abbey. It turns out this was a good idea because this morning I feel refreshed and ready to think deeply about what I want to say again.

IMG_5395
Weekend Reading Break

I recently read, The Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, which I loved. And this experience reminds me of the Hemingway quote:

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

So this week, my focus is going to be stopping writing before the well is dry. There are a lot of other things I need to do daily, other than write, and this includes researching markets, submitting stories, reading up on craft, or just taking a break to refill my creative well by reading a fiction book, doing some painting, or visiting with a friends. 

IMG_5393
Weekend Painting Break (from a tutorial). I’m getting better at painting!

Here’s to a good week!

JEH