Defy The Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I was lucky to win an ARC of Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray and my goodness is this book a juicy, mind-tingling sci-fi novel. This will mainly be a spoiler free review so you don’t need to click away.

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinites

Defy The Stars is a dual POV book following Noemi, a warrior from the planet Genesis who has signed up for a suicide mission in order to buy her planet time in a war with Earth, and Abel, a one of a kind prototype mech who has started to develop a consciousness beyond its programming. The book opens up with a battle scene, giving an introduction to who Noemi is not only as a fighter but a person. The second chapter moves to Abel who has been trapped for thirty years in an abandoned spaceship. The reader is immediately aware of Abel’s internal changes, stemming from its isolation.

Note: I’m going to refer to Abel as it for now, mainly to indicate Abel is not technically human despite its growing consciousness and also to highlight Noemi’s struggle with classifying what Abel is.

A variety of mechs exists in this story, but they are programmed only to have one job: heal, fight, work, etc. Abel is a unique experiment by the creator of mechs, Burton Mansfield. There are several flashbacks in the story that indicate Abel’s difference from the other mechs – particularly how it learns new information, registers human emotion, and is favored by Mansfield.

When Abel first runs in to Noemi, I won’t say how, its initial orders are overturned by its main programming: protect the nearest human with authority. But just because Abel has its orders doesn’t mean Noemi trusts Abel or vice versa. Claudia Gray plays with the idea of if it’s possible to trust a mech and what it means for Noemi who has been fighting them in the war. There are also several questions raised about what consciousness means, where the line between human and robot is, and what happens when a robot becomes self-aware? After studying philosophy for many years in school, these questions are delightful and ones that are challenged throughout the entirety of the book.

Abel and Noemi go on an interplanetary journey, where Noemi hopes to find a way to stop the Genesis army from sacrificing their lives. While doing so, the pair of them learns about a revolutionary group that has arisen, the nature of Burton Mansfield, how complicated friendship and love are, the extent of mortality, and what can be defined as humanity.

From Abel’s POV, this is extremely interesting for it begins to understand human emotions. It recognizes the development of its neural patterns to if not mimic, feel these emotions. As much as the story is about Noemi’s quest to save her planet, it is also about her reconciling her initial judgments about Abel and the worlds she learned about through Genesis schooling. She sees the universe for what it is and gains information more valuable than any classroom could have taught her. Most importantly, she finds her faith, ironically with the help of a mech.

By the end of Defy The Stars, it’s hard to classify who or what exactly Abel is. From my perspective, I would agree with Noemi’s analysis of a soul being in Abel’s body or at least having a conscious to be more than its programming. The best thing about this book is you experience the growth of both Noemi and Abel – development that is both natural and enticing. You are rooting for them, while at the same time getting taken on a sci-fi adventure with both details and a plot that will keep you interested.

If you haven’t already considered reading this book, do it. It won’t disappoint.

Xx

Megan

 

Sitting Down with Rosalyn Eves

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosalyn Eves, author of Blood Rose Rebellion due out March 28th 2017. It is the first installment of a historical fantasy trilogy. To read my review of the book, click here.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Blood Rose Rebellion:

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

I personally enjoyed this book and was eager to get into Rosalyn’s head about where the idea came from as well as why she chose this particular point in history for her setting.

Q1: One of the things that drew me to this book was the history alongside the fantasy. What made you pick this time period for Anna’s story?

Rosalyn: I’ve always been fascinated by the nineteeth-century—it was my favorite period to study in English literature classes, and I wrote a dissertation on nineteenth-century women’s rhetoric in the American West. I always knew the story would be in the nineteenth-century, the question was just where. Deciding to set the story in Hungary helped me narrow down the time-frame to 1847-48, the time leading up to the Hungarian revolution and a dramatic, exciting period in the country’s history.

Q2: Describe Blood Rose Rebellion in three words.

Rosalyn: Magic, romance, rebellion

Q3: Are there any traits that you and Anna share?

Rosalyn: Like Anna, I have an unfortunate habit of taking people at face value—that is, I tend to believe what people tell me about themselves, even though I’ve learned that this isn’t always accurate. Sometimes I’ve had to learn the hard way, just as Anna does.

Q4: If you could wield the powers of one Luminate group in Blood Rose Rebellion, which would you pick and why?

Rosalyn: Lucifera is my favorite order—not only do they have cool powers (flight, earth folding, portal creation), but it’s my favorite order name. All of the Luminate order names come from Latin roots—and while we now mostly associate Lucifer with the Christian devil, “Lucifer” actually means “light-bearing.”

Q5: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Rosalyn: One of the things Anna struggles with in the book is the difference between fitting in and belonging—for all her struggles to fit in, it’s not until she stops trying to fit other people’s perceptions and embraces who she really is, that she finds her place and her tribe. I want readers—especially young readers—to know that they are enough, whoever and however they are.

Q6: Have you always enjoyed writing or was it something you grew into?

Rosalyn: I’ve always loved telling stories: my mom says when I was little, just old enough to hold a pencil, I would draw pictures of girls in dresses whose trains spilled off the page, and tell stories about them to anyone who would listen (usually my little sister). In junior high and high school, writing was something I was good at and took pride in—but it wasn’t until much later that I muscled through the real work of learning how to revise and make a story shine.

Q7: What are some of your favorite books?

Rosalyn: Oh, so many. It’s easier for me to name some of my favorite authors: Robin McKinley, Jane Austen, George Eliot, L.M. Montgomery, Lois Bujold, Leigh Bardugo, Georgette Heyer, Susanna Clarke, Megan Whalen Turner, Roshani Chokshi, Stacey Lee . . . how much time do you have? I really just love books—but especially books that marry a historical sensibility with a hint of magic. But I’ll read anything that’s good: I just read Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE, and while it has neither magic nor is it historical, it was immensely powerful.

Q8: Are there any other historical periods you want to write about in the future?

Rosalyn: I’m toying with something set in nineteenth-century England with the pre-Raphaelites, and a story in the American West. Neither of those are committed to paper yet, so we’ll see what happens!

 

Author Bio:

reves swanky seventeenRosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle.

Her first novel, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy, debuts March 28 from Knopf/Random House.

To keep in touch with Rosalyn and other project she’s working on, be sure to follow these links:

Website: www.rosalyneves.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RosalynEves
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosalyneveswriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rosalyn.eves/

Once again, thank you to Rosalyn Eves for agreeing to be on my blog. Be sure to check out Blood Rose Rebellion and keep an eye on my blog for more book related fun.

Xx
Megan

Blood Rose Rebellion: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves. This young adult book is due out March 28th, 2017. This review will be mostly spoiler free so you don’t have to click away.

I was a bit wary when I first began reading because it is set in an old fashioned England –
think ball gowns, suitors, and noble families. These books do not always grasp me, but I kept reading because I was interested in the fantastical elements Rosalyn Eves added to the historical background of her story.

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinities

I will say there are a few things that bothered me about the book, mainly the instant inkling that the boys in Anna’s life would be love interests and the trope of one person having abilities not seen in hundreds of years. I wish that Anna experienced the world without romantic interests guiding some of her decisions, but I can also understand her desire to connect with people after having guidelines constantly pressed down on her.

Needless to say, I was swept up in Anna’s narrative, a teenage girl who is deemed barren of magic. This is a sentence that has hung over her head in a variety of ways: through her mother’s less than parental treatment of her, her sister being favored for the grace of her magic, and judgment from society. It is at the beginning of the story, when Anna disrupts her sister’s charm ceremony in order to find a husband, that all of this anger Anna harbors sets itself free.

In order to let the chaos die down, though Anna knows it is a way to get rid of her until she conforms to the expectations of a proper woman, Anna is sent to live with her Grandmama in Hungary. It is there that Anna learns a lot about the world, breaking the teachings that have circulated around her since her youth. She is also forced to grapple with questions of identity, family, and revolution. My favorite question that Anna tackles: what is one willing to sacrifice for change? Can an individual commit to a cause if it means potentially losing those they love and having people come after them?

Anna feels like a teenager, wanting to find her place in the world despite so many people telling her otherwise. She wants love. She wants change, but she also possesses fear of discovering who she might be and what she can do. She can be a bit clumsy at times, naïve at others, but these reactions never feel out of place. It is hard to have an entire world unravel, especially at a young age.

It is not just Anna that makes the story likeable. The other characters do the same. Their personalities are alive on the page and they do not all share the same views as Anna. They challenge where she came from and society as a whole. Gabor is my favorite character, hands down.

There is also the inclusion of Slavic Mythology and a history belonging to 19th century Hungary. I seriously recommend reading the acknowledgements page at the end of the book if you don’t normally. Rosalyn goes into a discussion of history and provides some sources for further reading. She blends history with magic, creating a world that does suck you in. I would say that is what makes Blood Rose Rebellion stand out from the expected and common fantasy novel.

Overall, I would give this book 4/5 charms.

Xx

Megan

Writer Chat With Amber Mitchell

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Mitchell, debut author of the novel Garden of Thorns, published by Entangled Teen.  I will have a review of this book up soon, but man, it hooks your attention from the opening scene and I was lucky enough to dive into Amber’s head on the project.

Before I get to the interview, here is the synopsis of Garden of Thorns which is out today! Make sure you grab your copy.

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.
 

Q1: Did you always like to write or was it something you grew into?

Amber: The first time I knew I wanted to be a writer was in 3rd grade. We had to do this presentation on space and I wrote up an entire play for the class to perform. I loved the joy creation brought and I’ve been writing ever since. However, I wasn’t actually serious about writing until my junior year of high school.

Q2: What is your favorite thing about writing?

Amber: The feeling of having written. I always complain when I’m writing, but I love the feeling I get afterwards, of knowing that I put the time in and created something. This is followed closely by the editing process. I’m not a big fan on first drafts but I love getting my hands dirty and improving books during the editing process!

Q3: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Amber: Strict plotter. I think there is a lot of fun in pantsing something, but I’ve found that if I don’t write out paragraph synopsizes for every chapter, I’ll use the excuse “I don’t know what is going to happen next” to not write for the day.

Q4: From what I’ve read so far, Garden of Thorns is one crazy ride. The opening scene alone is intense – let alone sucked me in as a reader. What inspired the story?

Amber: Every time I’d see a movie and there would be a ballroom scene, I’d watch the girls dancing in their big dresses and think about how they looked like flowers as the twirled around the dance floor. I’d always thought that a fantasy novel about a girl who was forced to dance would be a cool idea and the image of flowers kept popping up in my head. I ended up writing Garden of Thorns on accident though. I was editing another book and kept hearing Rose’s voice in my head. I opened up a new word document and wrote what would become the first five pages of the book in less than an hour. The concept of the Flowers and the Garden seemed to jump from the page and I had to figure out where it was going to take me.

Q5: What reactions are you hoping for as readers dive into your book? Are there moments you want them to scream or rave about?

Amber: Of course, I want readers to love it. I guess the biggest thing for me is that the world feels real and the book feels authentic. My biggest pet peeve when reading a book or watching a movie is when I feel like the author or creator is holding their punches. I never like “fake deaths” where you think a character died only to have them come back completely unscathed later. I’ve been getting a lot of comments that Garden of Thorns is brutal and I love it!

Q6: Who’s your favorite character from Garden of Thorns?

Amber: This question isn’t fair! Of course I love Rose and Rayce since they are my two main characters. I’m also really fond of Arlo and Marin. They’re two secondary characters in the rebellion and I love them dearly. I think Arlo adds a good bit of humor to the book and is a great contrast to Rayce and Marin is the breath of fresh air. She’s a girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to fight for it.

Q7: How does it feel to say you have a book out there in the world? I can imagine it’s a bit nerve-wracking.

Amber: It’s definitely an overwhelming feeling. I fluctuate from not believing it’s real to being so excited I could burst. There are also a fair amount of nerves involved. What’s really strange is having people talk to me about my own characters. They’ve been real to me for so long and it’s strange now that other people know them too!

Q8: If you’re not writing, what are some things you love doing?

Amber: My husband and I run a paper-cut shadowbox business that allows us to travel the US. I enjoy crafting things out of paper. I’m also big into escape rooms, I like to read and sometimes I like to pretend I’m a baker. I say pretend because the last three cakes I’ve attempted have turned out lopsided!

Q9: What’s your favorite book and genre to read?

Amber: This question should be illegal! I love so many books! One of the series that will always be a favorite for me though is Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I can read it anytime! In general, I read a lot of YA. I used to stick to YA fantasy and historical, and while they are still my favorite, I read pretty much everything YA now!

Q10: Describe Garden of Thorns in three words.

Amber: Intense. Romantic. Brutal.

Biography:

Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative author-picWriting. She likes crazy hair styles, reading, D&D, k-dramas, good puns and great food.

When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is using cardstock to craft 3D artwork or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their four cats where she is still waiting for a madman in a blue box to show up on her doorstep.

Garden of Thorns is her debut novel from Entangled Teen.

If this book sounds like something you would read, and if you’d like to keep up with what Amber is doing, follow her here.

If you’d like to see my review of this book, check back soon.
Xx
Megan

From the Editor’s Desk

Being an editor is weird.

I never thought I would find myself in the field until I entered college and my interests moved more and more towards said line of work. Satisfaction filled me every time I corrected a misplaced punctuation mark or noted an error in tense. I was soon being asked by my friends to help them out with their upcoming essays. My passion grew once I entered the publishing world.

There is a particular attitude you need as an editor, that being you want to make a story the best it can be. When someone sends in a manuscript or is getting a book published, you must remember that not only are they a person, but this is something they poured time and creativity into. There must be a balance between critique and respect. Being a writer myself, I understand the bond authors not only have with their story but with their characters. It makes my job both easier and harder. I know how important their story is to them while simultaneously understanding that no manuscript is perfect. The key is to make sure your comments are helping the story and are not outright statements with no background or drawn from personal feelings.

An editor-author bond is a delicate one. It involves placing something important into the hands of someone you may not always know. A bad editor can ruin an author’s experience, making them hesitant to submit their work again as well as wary of any comments made down the line. That is the last thing I want to happen. I want to be able to give critique that is in the best interest of the story as well as open a dialogue between me and the author. Editing does not need to be a battle, though scrambling to finish edits by a deadline or for an entire manuscript can be overwhelming and make you down thirty cups of coffee.

One of the other things I keep in mind is what document I am working on. I edit both academic and creative texts, each requiring a different eye. For academic texts, I have to make sure the thesis aligns with the overall content of the paper, if the task prompts are being followed, if the sentences add to the message or are fillers. For creative texts, I’m paying attention to content, if rules of a magical word make sense, if characters are doing what their personalities support. The task comes down to: what is expected from each text and does it get there? If not, how can I help?

Books rely on editors to catch mistakes and plot holes the author cannot. It is what transforms one’s story from the first draft to the copy that ends up on shelves. This is never something to be taken lightly and it’s definitely something I remind myself of. When reading over a text, a couple of hundred different files open up in my head paying attention to grammar rules, the plot of the story, sentence structure. It’s like standing on one of those exercise balls while juggling a set of knives. Okay, maybe not so much knives, but you get the picture. The author-editor bond requires a mutual amount of effort and teamwork. I am always willing to put in my part as long as the author is too. Critique can be scary and it is a hundred percent okay to take a breather in order to look over everything. Even coming to me to talk it out is a big factor of said relationship.

At the end of the day, my job as an editor is to help the authors involved and get one’s story where it needs to be.

Xx

Megan

This is Our Story: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Let me start off by saying this book had me hooked. I needed to know what happened, which made reading it on the commute to work very stressful. It was the kind of book that constantly tugged at my mind, drawing me towards it. I wound up having to come home and read the rest of it so I could unravel the mystery.

20170218_124756The story opens up with the death of Grant Perkins. He was out hunting with four of his friends, also known as The River Point Boys. All of them were either high or drunk and no charges have been able to be placed on either one of the boys. Being from a small town, the death of a teenager makes front page news. It draws protesters, obsessed fanatics, and deals being made behind closed doors. Throw in families with wealthy business ties and the case moves further away from being solved.

There are two point of views: the main character Kate who works for the law office that gets the Perkins case and one of The River Point Boys. You don’t know the POV of the latter until the end. Together, these perspectives create an immensely engaging story. On the one hand, you have Kate who gets herself heavily wrapped up in the murder case, desperate to find out who killed Grant Perkins – a boy who she believed to be falling for. On the other hand, you have a River Point Boy who wants to prevent the bond between his friends from severing. He also wants to make sure none of them go to jail. His goals shift as the plot thickens and his relationships are put to the test.

I haven’t read a thriller in a long time and Ashley Elston did a great job of creating tension and reward. Just when you as the reader think you may have solved the puzzle, she throws another curve-ball at you. Each of The River Point Boys have their own secrets that shatter initial thoughts about them. They become strangers in a way the mystery does.

The writing style wasn’t over the top or littered with imagery in the way some of the other books I reviewed are. Note: this is not a bad thing; I’m merely noting difference in author style and creativity. Elston utilizes a straight forward style that works with the plot. It guides you from point A to point B and so on until we reach the end.

Lastly, I enjoyed Kate as a main character. I like that most of the story is told from her perspective. We don’t get inside The River Point Boys’ heads and know everything right away. We get bits and pieces that change and get disproved. We get pieces that don’t make sense. We get glimpses of humanity within these boys. We learn an insane amount about them through the evidence used in the case and Kate’s interpretation of the evidence. Elston creates a duality between real life and personas – who The River Point Boys actually are versus how they act in order to avoid trouble. It is only through Kate that we could have had this opportunity. It allows us as readers to call into question behavior and what people do when they think no one is watching. It also shows us how desperate some people will be to cover up their mistakes.

Overall, if you’re looking for an edge of your seat read, this is it.

I’m giving it 5/5 photographs.

Xx

Megan

Short Stories & Editing Tips

Hey Readers & Writers,

Today I’m taking Monday blogging seriously for I have two posts to shove at you. Okay, I’m not really going to shove them at you. I’m going to politely ask you to check them out if you’d like.

The first post is a guest post on Kate Foster’s blog where I discuss how I write short stories, where the ideas come from, as well as why I sometimes prefer writing them over full fledged novels. Since this is a well debated topic in the writing world, I figured I would offer my perspective. That post can be found here.

The second matter of business I am sharing today is the third completed manuscript analysis on The Inkwell Council. Justine and Ismael tackle large issues such as the message of one’s story and how to convey said message, while I tackle how to convey a character’s thoughts without your grammar suffering in the process. That post can be found here.

I hope you enjoy them both and they help offer some insight in the writing and editing world.

Xx

Megan