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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

What I’m Reading: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Young Adult Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Every so often I take a break from Young Adult Fantasy books and read something along contemporary lines. Most of the time I love these books, but for some reason it’s one genre I just can’t read back to back. Maybe because it gives you so much to think about.

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The Sun is Also a Star follows two immigrant teens in New York, one who is a legal immigrant and one who is not. Their narrative is interwoven with little bits and insights about other side characters, and all together this makes for a magical book. I loved it. The  characters are so real and deep that you just can’t forget them. And all the questions they ask resound with, “hey, I’ve wondered that too”.

And then there’s that fantastically bright cover!

If you’re looking for a contemporary YA read, I would highly recommend this one.

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Writing Now – The Circlet Cover Reveal

Now that I’ve got new time to focus, I’m spreading out my days into a few different project. Mostly, I’m focusing on some literary short stories that feature women in non-traditional rolls, but I’m also squeezing some time in for my existing projects. First, The Circlet.

The Circlet is the second book of the Artifacts of Avalum Series, and I’m currently work on revisions. I’ve had the cover finished, and I just love it. Here’s a side by side with The Torc cover, what do you think?

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JEH

February Catch-Up

I know – I’ve been pretty quiet this month. Mostly, I’m busy getting ready for my time as a full time writer. The office is prepped, I’ve outlined stories and projects and books I may work on, in order of importance, and I’ve even tagged some educational reads. I can’t wait to spend the next four months as a full-time writer. I will have no distractions (hopefully), and no concerns (hopefully), other than to get my manuscripts finished.

I’ll be returning to my day job at the beginning of July, and by then I hope to have generated a bunch of amazing material.

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I also had a little blog blitz in January, and an associated giveaway of two copies of The Torc. Those copies are now in the mail, and the winners were notified. The first three letters of their emails were rjs and far, just in case anyone is wondering. I really hope these readers enjoy reading The Torc as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Last weekend, I spent a lot of time re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I haven’t done much (if any) re-reading in the last couple years, so it great to spend some time with a favorite book. Do you regularly re-read your favorite books?

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JEH