What I’m Reading: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Young Adult Book Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

I was really looking forward to reading Carve the Mark since I enjoyed reading Divergent, though, in all honesty, I didn’t enjoy Divergent all that much. To me, the Divergent series pales in comparison to the Hunger Games.

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Carve the Mark is a Fantasy-Science Fiction, almost Star Wars like with its mythical current force and closely aligned planets that may or may not take some time to travel between (I’m not sure, this wasn’t really clear).

I’ll admit, I had a few pet peeves with this book, one being that I feel like so many people who have never habituated in really cold climates just don’t understand cold climates. Anyway, there was something about Carve the Mark that I like, though I didn’t love it.

The characters were strong, the world was interesting (not quite as much as Star Wars), but inevitably I felt there were questions that I had no answers to, and that always bugged me, mostly in regards to how the current makes sense. Overall, I’d give Carve the Mark 3/5 Stars, but maybe that was because I had higher expectations because of Divergent.

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 ┬ácharacters 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

January Round-up: Reading, Writing, and Beyond

The first month of 2018 has been a bit up and down for me. I got five books marked off my Goodreads goal (albeit, one was read mostly in 2017). I’m a good 60% through another couple books which I hope to finish the weekend, including A Torch Against The Night, which I’m loving.

This month has been rather cold. There was one warm week, which I enjoyed immensely, but currently we’re back into the deep freeze-most definitely not my favorite part of the year and already I can’t wait for spring. I did take a quick vacation get-away at the end of the month, and spent a day at the enormous World Water Park pretending that I was in Mexico. Ah, if only I had actually been in Mexico just like last year. Well, there is always next year.

January was a terrible month for writing (I blame this on the cold, since all I want to do is sleep and read). I plan on picking that up next month, and finally get somewhere with The Circlet and The Chain (Artifacts of Avalum Books 2 and 3). Tomorrow, I’m going to post my planned February reading list, and I’ll have a few more quick reviews in the coming weeks too. What have you been reading lately?

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JEH

What I’m Reading: Breathe The Well-being Special

Today I thought I’d write about reading something different. Obviously I read a lot of Young Adult Fiction and fantasy, but I also read short stories, poetry, literary fiction, general fiction, science fiction, romance, mystery, horror, children’s books, you name it, and I will read it! Recently, I saw this issue of Breathe in the store and purchased it. I love it. The best part is that it’s a magazine with no advertisements (the drawback to that being that it was really expensive). BUT, I love it. It’s the kind of magazine that I’ll keep like a book.

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Sometimes it’s just nice to read something unexpected. To read something that is unlike all the other things you’ve read lately. That’s why I occasionally pick up a murder mystery, or an issue of National Geographic. I love reading, but to keep it fresh, I need to read outside of my box of favourites.

What have you read lately that’s been a different fit for you? Did you like it?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Young Adult Book Review: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Sometimes the problem with borrow e-books (or audiobooks) from the library is that they expire and if I haven’t read them fast enough then I need to go on the wait list to borrow them again. This happened with Their Fractured Light.

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Their Fractured Light is the third and final Starbound novel. I was pleasantly surprised by the first book in the series, but was a bit disappointed to find that each book in this series has two different main characters. Their Fractured Light follows Sophia and The Knave on their fight to save the galaxy. While the story does intersect with the characters from the first two books, this story is mostly about Sophia and the Knave.

All in all, the book was solid. I liked the experience of seeing a new world, getting to know a different piece of this galaxy, but I didn’t like the characters quite as much as I did in the first two books, probably making Their Fractured Light my least favourite book in Starbound. Still a solid read and enjoyable book. I plan to one day read more books by Amie Kaufman and Meaghan Spooner, especially Unearthed, which was just released this month.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Young Adult Book Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy is the second book in the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. This book has a fairly high rating on Goodreads, and I have some friends that just love this series. I think the books are okay, but I don’t seem to find them as engaging as some people.

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Prodigy once again follows June and Day as they struggle against the government. I think my main reason for disengagement with this story is the lack of detail. I feel more confused about the world it is set in than knowledgeable. I like the story, I like June’s character (more so than Day’s), but I’m sad to say that I just don’t love it. This book is a bit along the lines of The Hunger Games and An Ember in The Ashes, both of which I love. So maybe Prodigy just has too much competition. Still, it is a good read, especially if you are a die-hard fan of dystopian young adult books.

3.5/5 Stars (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads)

JEH

What I’m Reading: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Young Adult Book Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

I picked up Anna and the Swallow Man from my local library on audiobook when I was browsing for a new listen. The story is about Anna, a young girl orphaned during the second World War, and her subsequent journey through Poland. I loved this book. The audiobook was only five hours long, but excellently narrated. The touch of fantasy in the novel was just right, and all of the characters were well developed.

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Books about the great wars can be depressing, this is heavy stuff, but it’s something I think is important to know about so that it never happens again. My heart ached for Anna through most of this book, but the narrative gave me cause to hope. The prose was lyrical, and the language delightful, I found it very easy to fall into this book and to keep listening.

5/5 Stars

JEH

A Writer’s Plans for 2018

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a great New Year, and maybe found a bit of time for reading, much like I did. I’m glad that 2018 is here. The end of 2017 found me distracted and blue, and I’m ready for a new start. After a busy 2017 releasing Under Jupiter and The Torc, and drafting The Circlet, it is time for a new plan for 2018.

In 2018, I do plan to finish the Artifacts of Avalum Series, with Books 2 and 3 releasing in Sprint and Winter (most likely). But mostly my writing life will be shifting focus because I got a writing grant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This grant will allow me to take four months off from my day job to focus entirely on writing. For the grant, which I’ve received from the Saskatchewan Arts’ Board (thank you Arts’ Board!), I will be working on a very specific project, namely some literary short stories. This is very different writing that what I normally post about here, but I love it just as much. (If you want a sample of this work, you can find a free story here, at Broken Pencil Magazine, but again, it is very different than the genre fiction I write).

I’m very excited to have dedicated time that is all mine to explore some themes I’ve been pondering for a few years. I start my ‘writing job’ March 1st, and I plan on spending the first couple months of 2018 planning how I will structure my days. I imagine they will involve lots of tea, coffee, and pretty notebooks (and a lot of hard work).

In reading, I set my Goodreads goal yesterday for 53 books in 2018. This is less than the 62 I read in 2017, and for that there are two reasons: 1. I hope to be spending a lot of time writing and rewriting, and 2. I hope to read some longer books. I’ve found over the past year that when I have a goal for reading a lot of books, I tend to choose quicker reads. This means that a lot of books I’ve purchased in the past have been sitting on my shelves for years. (CONFESSION: last year I had 67 books I hadn’t read yet on my upstairs shelves, I now have over 100!!!!). It is definitely time to do some catching up, so I WILL NOT be purchasing new books (probably… well…. maybe… okay, maybe I should be reasonable and say I will not purchase more than 5 new books this year – I hope instead to do some book trading at my local used book store).

So, with piles and piles of books waiting to be read, and a day job to get back to (for the moment), I will once again say Happy New Year, and all the best in 2018. Do you have any big plans you would like to share?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Young Adult Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling is one of those books I heard a lot about for a long time before I finally decided to pick it up. Graceling is the story of Katsa, a fun, fearless, kick-butt female hero who reminded me a lot of Aelin from Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass Series. Published in 2008, Graceling came well before Throne of Glass, but came in the same year as The Hunger Games and the now very well known Katniss Everdeen.

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Since I was a child, female hero’s have definitely become stronger, more independent, and just as deadly as any male counterpart. And I love this. Graceling is very much a classically written epic fantasy, with slow moving, but beautiful passages of description, and less dialogue. There are good guys and bad guys and of course a few love interests.

I really enjoyed Graceling, though I felt this book had a good ending, and though there are two more books in the Graceling Realm Series, I don’t feel pressed to pick them up, as the books are about other characters. Sometimes I like this, and other times I fine with one book being just one book.

A solid 4/5 Stars.

JEH

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #26

Something has changed with the arrival of summer, and unfortunately that appears to be the amount of time I have for blogging and writing. I’ve been doing a miserable job keeping up here, and also keeping up with my 1,000 words a day goal. It’s been off and on lately. The good news is that if I forget one day, I tend to remember and prioritize it the next. I’ve found a few hours this weekend to dedicate to a “mini-marathon” and maybe I will somehow be able to catch up on the 23,000 words I’m behind on. If I could manage to catch up, that would mean I’d almost completed the draft of The Torc, the new thing I’m working on. Here’s a look at my word count chart for the beginning of June:

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The large number on the right is my current deficit. I realized the other day that if I was caught up, I would have less than 100,000 words to write before reaching my goal! That makes me feel pretty close to achieving my target with approximately 3 months to go. Time is ticking away quickly and there is still a lot I want to get done before September 1st, when my goal will shift to rewriting, though I plan on continuing to draft a lot, since drafting makes me happier than rewrites.

My day job has kept me busy, so busy that I haven’t even had time to read much, though I was traveling so I did finish a couple audiobooks. Being busy hasn’t stopped me from buying more books to read either. Or planning to read more books. I was terribly behind on my GoodReads entries, and just paused to enter all my recent reads. The funny thing is that I feel like I’ve missed entering a book, but if I have, I don’t know which one. This is why I use GoodReads, because otherwise I forget what I’ve read! Here’s a shot of some new books in my garden. They’re so pretty.

So, after catching up on my GoodReads entries, I’m still two books ahead of my GR goals, which is awesome. I wound’t be anywhere close if I hadn’t listened to so many audiobooks this year, but listening to books at the gym has been inspiring both for my reading and writing, and also for working out. My current listen is Graceling, which i’ve just started. It will probably take me a while to get through as it is 11 hours, and I don’t have any solo road trips planned, though I do have a family trip.

Alright, so for the next week, my goal is to catch up on blogging, aim for 1,500 words a day, and just continuing enjoying books. What are your plans?

JEH