January 2016 TBR

If you’ve read my 2016 Resolutions post, you know I’m aiming to read at least 50 books this year. In order to keep myself on track, I’m setting up monthly goals and keeping myself accountable by way of the blog.

So this is the first of 12 posts mapping out what books I plan to read during the course of the month. And without further ado, here’s my January 2016 TBR.

No 1. – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Ember in the AshesThis YA Fantasy came out last year and has gotten fantastic reviews. It was on my TBR list last year, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. And shame on me because so far, this book is wonderful. I’m a third of the way through it now, and the stakes are so high for each and every character. Laia is a slave trying to save her brother. Elias, the other POV character, is a soldier for the Empire that has tormented Laia’s people. I’m so excited to see how their stories intertwine!

No. 2 – Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
PassengerAnother YA Fantasy and a new release from the talented author who brought us The Darkest Minds trilogy. Passenger follows the high-stakes adventure of Etta, a prodigy violinist with a mysterious family legacy, and Nicholas, a man who longs to escape servitude, as they travel through time to recover a stolen object. I’m so excited for this book. 1) Because I heard Bracken steps up her writing game dramatically in this book, so I’m excited to see what she does with the prose, and 2) TIME TRAVEL.

No. 3 – Steel Victory by J.L. Gribble
Steel VictoryIn this exciting blend of apocalyptic science fiction, fantasy and alternative history, Gribble presents a unique world where the Roman Empire is still trying to expand centuries after (in our timeline) it should have collapsed. Victory, a centuries-old vampire and [retired] mercenary, and her adopted daughter and warrior-mage, Toria, have to keep their home from being taken over by the Romans. I’m also halfway through this one so far (started before the New Year), and I’ve already spoken a little of my love for this world and the characters. But the entire cast is delightful, Gribble has done a phenomenal job at creating an entire culture unique to her series. The vampires, the mages, the elves and other were-creatures. She’s really gone through and mapped out the different tensions between the species as well as the political tensions on local and international scales.

No. 4 – Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
Cruel CrownThis is a bind-up of two novels that predate the events that happen in Red Queen. For those of you who haven’t read this best seller yet, it takes place in a world that divided by blood. The Silvers have special abilities and rule over the Reds. The Reds are human and don’t have abilities, and are basically pawns in the Silvers’ war. In Red Queen, we learn that Silvers aren’t the only ones with power anymore, but they’ll do anything to keep that secret from getting out. Though I did have some issues with RQ, I really enjoyed the pace and the twisty plot (and holy beautiful fight scenes), and I’m thoroughly excited for the sequel, Glass Sword, coming out next month.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST…

No. 5 – Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
TruthwitchGuys. Guys. Guys. I can’t tell you how excited I am to jump into this book. I’ve been waiting for this book for… MONTHS! Yes, definitely months. I read the first chapter in Susan’s Newsletter a while back and instantly fell in love with Iseult, a threadwitch, and Safiya, a truthwitch. They’re best friends, witches, and are on the run from people trying to get their hands on a truthwitch to use as a pawn in the struggles between the empires that rule their continent.

I’m starting off 2016 with some serious rockstar books. I don’t know how the rest of this year of reading will unfold, but I’m excited!

Happy Reading!

2016: A Year For Moving Forward

I guess it’s that time again, for that obligatory post on New Years Resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I am not above creating my own resolutions. After all, I am, at my core, a goal-oriented person. But I think there’s something very flawed about the idea of only self-reflecting on what we want out of life once a year.

But for shits and giggles, here’s my post from last year on the resolutions I had for myself. 2015 RESOLUTIONS!

Overall, I did a decent job at my resolutions for 2015. The only place I got tripped up was beginning to query. I’m not upset about this one because I had a lot of learning to do as a wordsmith in order to get GUARDED polished and ready to go.

The good news: I now have the skills to write a seemingly enjoyable book. The bad news: I had an epiphany about a week ago that ended in me adding a second POV to my book. So before I can polish and send this manuscript off, I need to rewrite four chapters in the new POV, as well as draft 13 additional new chapters.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but if the changes I’ve seen so far are any indication, GUARDED’s going to be far better for it. If it’s not, well, I’ll pry be back here for 2017 Resolutions, spouting about some new problem I’m having with the same book.

::head:desk::

Moving on…

I did read more! Granted that wasn’t hard to do given my measly tally of six books for 2014. In 2015, I read a grand total of 26 books. For books new to me, I read one fantasy, 16 YA fantasy, four YA contemporary, and two nonfiction. I also reread the Song of the Lioness Quartet because tis my favorite.

So while I do have plenty of goals lined up for 2016, the two I’m actually going to list and focus on are:

  1. Finish GUARDED and begin the querying process. The query’s done and set and vetted. Now I just need to get those additional chapters written and the rewrites done then I can send the MS off to slaughter. WOOT!
  2. I have vowed on Goodreads to read 50 books this year, so that’s the goal. Side note: should probably learn to use Goodreads properly…

A lot happened for me in 2015, some good that I was sure to share here on the blog, some not so good that I kept to myself. I’m looking forward to 2016 hopefully being better than last year. I’ve got a lot planned for the blog, and I can’t wait to share all of it with you!

Happy New Years, Everyone! And happy writing!

Feeling incredibly thankful…

Ever since I got my beta notes back in May, I’ve been spending every day (that I can) rewriting and revising my current WIP, GUARDED. And then this past Saturday, I finished a draft that I’m actually rather proud of.

I’ve been blessed with phenomenal CP’s and beta-readers this past year. CP’s who were patient and willing to help me learn and grow as a writer. Because seriously, I had a lot of work to do to get GUARDED to where it is now. The narrative was too thin, which contributed to flattening some important characters in the novel, AND the way I had initially plotted the novel left one of my most compelling characters on the sidelines for most of the story.

Since I started to take my dreams of being a published author seriously, I’ve tried to maintain the mindset that the story comes before everything else. Meaning that regardless of how difficult expanding my writing skills was going to be or how painful the criticism was, I would do what I needed to in order to do the characters and their stories justice.

And so I learned how to write a fuller narrative (Thanks, Chelsea!). And I learned to let go of my dialogue tags and adverbs (Thanks, Columbia Writers!). I also learned that even though it’s the protagonist’s story, it’s also the story of every character in the novel (Thanks, Todd, Brigitte, Deidre, and Dustin!).

But most importantly, I learned how incredibly important it is to never give up. Granted, I have a long road ahead of me yet with the querying (and hopefully, submission process), but the manuscript I have now would never have become what it is without the long, painful hours of revision paired with the many, many, MANY cups of coffee.

I am SO thankful for not only the lovely people listed above, but also for all of you incredible people who follow my blog. Your support is so encouraging and I can’t begin to thank you enough.

But before I get off this gratitude train, I do have four other peoples to thank, and lucky for y’all, they’re also bloggers…

Nicolette Elzie @ A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly
Nicolette was one of the first people to comment on my blog. I remember opening the comment on my phone in the Starbucks drive-thru and legitimately started tearing up. It was on a relatively personal post, Why You’re Not Writing: Critical Introspection, where I had opened up about my PTSD and how it affected my writing. Her words were so encouraging. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. Since then, she’s become a dear friend, instrumental in my blog growth (all the tags! Lol), as well as recently volunteered to read through the latest draft of GUARDED, which is half the reason I’m even able to say that I’m proud of this draft. Her excitement for the book makes me flail a lot, and also gives me hope for the future of this project!

Melanie @ Melanie Noell Bernard, Aspiring Novelist
Another writer I met through the blog-o-sphere. She’s hilarious and tenacious and I’m so excited I can call her a friend. She’s a huge inspiration to me as a blogger, because she hauls ass with the posts, nearly one every day! I don’t know how she does it! Not to mention she entertains my psychobabble. She’s another poor victim I’ve conned into reading GUARDED. She’s usually more of a SciFi reader, so I appreciate her stepping into fantasy for a couple hundred pages. XD

Hanna @ J.L. Gribble
Incredibly talented author and overall lovely human being, Hanna has played a pivotal role in keeping me sane (well, kinda haha). I met her during NaNoWriMo last year during the write-in’s. The moment she said she had a crotchety old vampire modeled after a red-headed Michael Fassbender, I knew we had to be friends. (If I didn’t tell you this already, Hanna, SORRY!) Her first book, Steel Victory, came out this past summer, and trust me, guys, you want to know these characters! Plus the world is phenomenally brilliant. I’ve read a short story and a novella from this series, both were FANTASTIC! I’m about halfway through Steel Victory now and can’t wait to share my thoughts on Hanna’s debut.

And now for why I’m thankful for her friendship (because I’m leaving in the tangent about her beautiful book!), Hanna was incredibly kind and patient in working with me while I tried to figure out how to write the proper narrative for GUARDED. I can’t tell you how many versions she and Chelsea read of Chapter One, but it was a LOT. Hanna also invited me to her publisher’s writing retreat where I got to connect with some fantastic people as well as do my first reading.

And last, but certainly not least…

Lynanne @ Daybreak in Autumn
Lynanne reached out to me on LadiesWhoCritique.com because of our mutual interests and writing genre/audience. And though we did start out simply as critique partners, she swiftly became my soundboard for EVERYTHING! Any crazy twists/turns in my books, she heard them first. Anytime I needed to rant about a book I read or criticism I received (there’s a difference between constructive criticism and just being an asshole – I’ve received both), she was an incredible friend and took all the rants in stride. Thank you, Lady! For being such a wonderful friend!

I feel so lucky and blessed to have all these people in my life. And seeming as how this gush fest is nearing a thousand words, I’m going to stop. Thank you everyone I mentioned above and a special thank you to all of you reading this! I’m beyond grateful for your support.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season!

Bree

Bath & Body Works Book Tag

 Another lovely tag from the talented Nicolette at A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly. You can find her awesome list of reads on her blog, here.

And since I have some books I’d love to gush about myself, here’s the post.


Pure Paradise – A book that was pure perfection A Darker Shade final for Irene
A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. I know I said this in my book review but this book legitimately had EVERYTHING I’ve ever wanted in a fantasy novel. Magic, Intrigue, Betrayal, Suspense, and OH MY GOD, THE PACING! Not to mention the incredibly elegant prose with which Schwab writes. It’s all just so… BRILLIANT!

 

Sweet Pea – A romance/contemporary you really enjoyed
My heartMy Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. This book. I don’t read a lot of contemporary or romance, but the stuff I do, I need to be complex and beautiful and have an epic-level character arch. This book was all these things, along with a carve-my-heart-out realism that had me going through all the feels. There is a trigger warning of suicide with this one, but I highly recommend picking this up. Warga does a fantastic job at tackling a difficult and complex topic.

 

Fresh Strawberries – A book you really enjoyed that came out this yearRed Queen
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I enjoyed a LOT of books this year, and there were a lot of fantastic new releases (a lot that I haven’t had the chance to read just yet). But Red Queen was the first new release for 2015, as well as a debut, and I was really all around impressed with it. The writing, the incredible fight scenes. Mind you I’m a total sucker for twisty plots, but Aveyard does a great job at laying the ground work for her twists that makes them both surprising and expected. They’re the kind of twists that have you smacking yourself because you should have seen them coming. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

 

Warm Vanilla – A character and/or book that made you feel all warm inside
HOF CoverHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I know this is an odd choice for “Warm Vanilla”, but I promise there’s a good reason, though it is incredibly personal. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I spent 2011 in Iraq and struggle with PTSD as a result. During this book, Celaena confronts a lot of her own demons, things that have been weighing on her shoulders, things that have made her doubt/hate herself. This book gave me the safe place I needed to process emotions I hadn’t had the courage to deal with before. So as Celaena healed throughout the book, I was able to do some healing of my own. Here’s the link to my book review.

 

Paris Amour – A couple you majorly ship together 79329_original
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone, but AELIN AND ROWAN. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. I don’t care what you Celorian shippers say, Rowan is my ultimate ship for Aelin. He’s her match in every way. He understands her without judgment and loves every bit of her. I want one. Can I have one? Someone find me one. Please? Here’s the link to my book review.

 

Dancing Waters – A book that takes place on the beach/ the perfect beach read
Bridget Jones DiaryBridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. To be fair, it’s the only book I’ve read that can be considered a “beach read.” But this book is HILARIOUS. The voice, the constant failings of the MC. It’s all a fun, ridiculous story. Plus it’s a loose Pride and Prejudice retelling. What’s not to love?

 

I Heart Cake (and Books) – your favorite bookLioness Rampant
The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. I know, I’m totally cheating. I don’t care. I can’t pick an individual book in this quartet. They all just fit together so nicely. You should really just read them all in one sitting… But seriously, this series is the reason I’m a writer. The protagonist has ambition and doesn’t let anyone, even a love interest, get in her way. It’s an incredibly progressive book in terms of how a young woman addresses life and love, but you know, in a fantasy setting. *high-fives young feminists everywhere*

 

Winter Candy Apple – A book set during Christmas or winter
Winter-finalWinter by Marissa Meyer. I know, I’m cheating here too because it’s not set in Winter, it’s set ON THE MOON! But I figured the title counted enough. Plus there’s the whole thing where there’s also apple candies in the book, so this totally fits. Anyhoo, if you haven’t picked up the Lunar Chronicles series yet, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! This series is incredibly expansive, and Winter is the most brilliant, well-done finale I’ve read in a LONG TIME. Seriously. Meyer covers all her bases in this book and ties up ALL the loose ends. She also does a fantastic job at keeping the pace consistent. There’s no lull. There’s no here-let-me-cramp-in-all-the-answers. It’s just incredibly well done. Writers, take note. That’s how you end a series.

 

Beautiful Day – A book with an unusual / interesting / appealing setting220px-Bloodline2005
Bloodline by Kate Cary. It’s set during WWI, and is a sort of a continuation/spin off of Dracula. It’s also told in a series of journal entries from all characters involved, including the antagonist. Need I say more?

 

Dazzling Diamonds – A beautiful cover
GatesOfThreadGates Of Thread And Stone by Lori M. Lee. So in order to REALLY get the full scope of how gorgeous this book is, you have to take off the dust jacket. Not only is the dust jacket impeccable, giving us our MC, her world, AND her ability (she can manipulate the threads of time), not to mention the title text is GORGEOUS, BUT the actual hard cover IS PRINTED! That’s right, undress the cover and you get a city scape. The words inside are also fantastic. Lee’s writing is deliciously detailed and the action scenes and the way she writes Kai’s ability makes you feel like you’re fighting a boss in a video game. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s spectacular.


If you’ve read the above books, I’d love to here your thoughts! As for the lovely book bloggers I’m going to tag…

*Reaches into massive fishbowl*

*Pulls out paper*

Kelly @ Stellar Scrutiny Book Blog

Ember @ Literary Constellation

Charley @ BooksandBakes1

Crystel @ Where Is Crystel

HAPPY READING!

The 7/7/7 Challenge: A Writer Tag

Nicolette Elzie from A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly tagged me in the 7/7/7 Challenge. The incredible featured graphic was also created by her talented self.

She saw this writer’s tag on John’s blog @ Am I Doing This Right, and because she has an addiction to tags, she passed it along. Check out the synopsis and excerpt of her current WIP, Dreamweaver, here. I’ve been lucky enough to read the first few chapters, and I can already tell I’m in for a FANTASTIC adventure. Where I’m at in the MS, the world feels like a cross between Shadow and Bone and Cinder. So if that doesn’t wet your appetite, I don’t know what will!

Please don’t kill me for gushing about your story, Nicolette! ❤

The 7/7/7 Challenge Rules:

  • Go to page 7 of your work-in-progress
  • Scroll down to line #7
  • Share the next 7 lines of your manuscript in a blog post
  • Tag 7 other writers (with blogs) to continue the challenge.

My current WIP, Guarded, is a young adult fantasy that I hope will appeal to fans of City of Bones and Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

Because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I’m going to give you the pitch instead of the full synopsis.

Three years have passed since Kjersten Taylor killed her parents’ murderers by pulling all the water from their bodies. She hasn’t spoken a word of the incident to her twin sister, Chloe, and has even convinced herself that it was a hallucination, a product of Post-Traumatic Stress.

But when she begins levitating coffee at work, Kjersten can no longer escape the truth: she is one of six Aeons, manipulators of the natural world.

Her ability to control water makes Kjersten a target as the Council tries to round up the Aeons to drop the veil between the magical realm, Tearmann, and the rest of humanity. Before Kjersten can warn her sister, Chloe is taken hostage by the Council’s enemies, and Kjersten must wade into the brewing war and put her own life on the line to get her sister back.


And now the challenge:

I opened my mouth to speak but quickly shut it. I wanted to lash out, to scream about how my parents weren’t here, so their opinions didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to rant about the different things my father could have done to keep us together, to keep us safe. We could have moved around. We could have changed our identities. He could have hired bodyguards. There were so many could-haves, yet my father chose to stay and die.

His choices orphaned Chloe and me. His choices left me alone with this burden.

His choices left me mourning fourteen years of campfires and Tae Kwon Do lessons and water gun fights and Thanksgiving dinners. And mourning him.


I am currently on the last leg of this manuscript, polishing it up for querying early 2016, and I am beyond excited for how it’s turning out (and how it’s been perceived thus far – Nicolette, you are a saint!). I left poor Nicolette on a cliffhanger in the last section I gave her (SORRY!), but I’m just a few short days from having another completed draft. EEK! I can’t wait for the next read-through.

*clappy hands* Okay, I’ll stop rambling… Here are my victims. Sorry if you’ve already been tagged!

Hanna @ J.L. Gribble | Thoughts and Conversations On Writing, Editing, Life, and Cats

Aura @ Into The Imagination Vortex

Cara @ Geek Girl Senshi

Cait @ Paper Fury

Aine @ Writing on a Vintage Typewriter

Jesse @ Books At Dawn

Sarina @ Cookie Break

Of course, you don’t have to participate in the tag. Lord knows I have a long list of tags I have yet to get to. These are only meant to keep conversations going between bloggers, and who wouldn’t want that? Y’all are awesome!

Happy Writing!