Bruja Born: A Review

Hi Readers & Writers,

I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova due to publish June 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. After reading and falling in love with Labyrinth Lost, you couldn’t imagine how excited I was to follow another one of the Mortiz sisters.

Note: There will be no spoilers so no need to click away. 

1.PNGWhereas Labyrinth Lost followed Alex Mortiz, Bruja Born follows her eldest sister Lula who is still adjusting to the fact her sister is an Encantrix and sent her along with the rest of her family to another world. Lula’s relationship with her sister is a complicated one and often met with tension. She prefers to dive into any other part of her life including school and her boyfriend Maks. When their relationship goes south, Lula is devastated, but has little time to process it when their school bus crashes leaving all of her classmates, including Maks, dead. Given the power to heal, Lula believes she can fix the damage she’s done – unprepared for the consequences.

If anyone knows my reading preferences, they’ll know I love a dark novel and Bruja Born was crafted out of shadows and darkness. I mean, it’s kind of about death (you’ve been warned in advance). Not only did it have fantastic prose, but you were able to see the desperation of Lula as she tried to save her boyfriend, the complexity between her and her family, the strength of her magic, but most importantly, her humanity. Love is a powerful emotion and when you combine that with the ability to heal, you can see where lines cross. Lula doesn’t always make the best choices, but you understand where she’s coming from.

I felt as if Bruja Born had an entirely different atmosphere than Labyrinth Lost, but it makes sense because so much has happened to this family since the first book. Though not exactly a sequel, it happens after the events of Los Lagos. You see the trauma of what Alex did ripple through the family, but also problems the family had yet to resolve in the beginning. These come out as Lula creates an even bigger conflict that throws her family, the magical community, and the world in danger.

I found Bruja Born tugging at my heart strings more often than once and it put Lula in front of beyond difficult situations. How do you fix what you’ve broken? How do you get over someone you love? How do you get past what hurt you? The world is never black and white and Zoraida does an amazing job crafting that for the reader. I devoured this book and was thrown on a roller-coaster of twists, turns, and emotions I hadn’t expected. You even get to revisit some old characters like Nova, but also learn a lot about other characters like Rose.

If you were hesitant about picking up this book, put that fear aside. You’re going to dive into a whole new story, but one that is well crafted and heartfelt.

Xx
Megan

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When To Put A Book To Rest

No one’s writing journey is the same. Sometimes, a writer will land an agent after a few tries, while others will take a handful of manuscripts and false steps. Time doesn’t invalidate success and each writer will have a different story about how they reached their goal. Publishing weighs heavily on luck, the market, and what agents and editors have in their inboxes. A rejection does not always mean your story isn’t where it needs to be.

Seriously, I highly encourage writers to read blog posts by agents. They can help your mindset beyond words.

Bearing this in mind, writers can reach a crossroads where after so many unsuccessful attempts, a question arises – does this story need work or is it time to shelve it? The answer depends upon so many factors, but it’s an important thing to discuss. The story of one’s heart is not always the one that gets an agent or a book deal. Maybe it’s the second book of your heart or the fifth. Maybe it’s one you didn’t expect.

The bottom line is you need to do what’s best for you, your story, and what you want to achieve.

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If you plan to shelve a story, here are some things you should consider:

  1. Where are you in the revision process? Have you gone through multiple revisions from a variety of reliable people (critique partners, editors, agents) and it still hasn’t gotten requests or offers of representation?
  2. What’s the market like? What’s desired fluctuates. Maybe your story falls into a bracket that is no longer being asked for by the publishing industry. This doesn’t mean your story isn’t good. It just means the interest isn’t as current as it once was. Interests tend to come back around so your book may be relevant later as opposed to now.
  3. Are you wearing emotional blinders? Writing is and always will be personal. Has being attached to a story clouded your judgment? Separating yourself from the story could allow you to see what may or may not be working.
  4. Are you burnt out? Now, this isn’t always a factor that ties into shelving a story. Life could be stressful. A personal issue could prevent you from getting words down. You’re jumping between projects. What I’m referring to here is more specific. Has writing a story left you feeling more exhausted than happy? If you find you’re struggling with your love for a story or it seems to be draining you, leaving it alone may be what you need. What may have started off as a positive experience might have tipped into something you didn’t anticipate.
  5. Have your ambitions or goals changed? Another issue could be the story you began with isn’t the one you want to succeed or your views on it have shifted. Maybe you’ve decided to pursue a different genre or audience altogether. Maybe this story wasn’t what you hoped it would be. Shelving it to work on something you’re more excited/hopeful for could bring muse back and a newfound drive for the publishing process.

Of course, shelving a book will always be an intense and personal decision that is never easy. For some, it may hurt. For others, it may be a relief, but this is up to the writer and the writer alone.

Feel free to share your experiences if you’ve shelved a project. What made you decide this? How did you get through it? What are you working on now? No author has the same writing experience and it’s important to see the variety of paths.

Xx

Megan

 

Relative Strangers: A Review

I was super fortunate to receive a copy of Relative Strangers from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This book is due out April 10th, 2018 and I highly recommend picking up your copy or doing the author a favor and preordering it.

No spoilers below!

Paula Garner left an impact on me after I read her debut, Phantom Limbs. She had a unique way of tugging at my heart strings. I devoured her book in one sitting and had to not cry in a car ride. It was a fun time. Relative Strangers had this same kind of emotional tug.

1This book is vastly different than Phantom Limbs as it explores a relationship between Jules, her mother, and a life she had never known about – particularly that she was in foster care for some time as a toddler. The plot not only centers around finding out what happened to her, but delves into her connection to her foster family, a complicated bond between mother and daughter, and how this shapes Jules as a person.

What I liked about Jules is the conflict within her, how things didn’t just settle into place, but was something she needed to explore in order to move on and craft a bridge between her past, present, and future. She makes some horrible decisions, but this demonstrates her conflict, her humanity, and her youth. I thought Garner did a great job with drawing on how emotionally taxing the revelation was to Jules and the people involved. Though this book may be short, it packs quite a punch to the heart. 

Also, I want to give a shout out to one of the secondary characters, Eli, because we need to protect him forever and his cuteness. When you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean.

Overall, this was a great read and Garner is definitely on my list of authors to watch.

Xx

Megan

Ace of Shades: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody which is due to release April 10th 2018 from Harlequin Teen. I was beyond excited to have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Note: There will be no spoilers so no need to close the tab.

Haven’t heard of this book? Well, it better be on your radar because it will blow you away. The story follows two characters, Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer. Enne enters The City of Sin, a.k.a. New Reynes, searching for her mother who should have been home two months ago.  Immediately, the mystery and reputation of the city take her by surprise and she is forced to quickly learn the ropes or fall to its prey. Levi on the other hand, is the leader of the Irons, known for cheats and the sly of hand. A scam too far has put him in over his head and he will do anything to clear his name. Levi and Enne cross paths – both trying to fix their problems, but also growing closer the longer they stay together.

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Taken from my Instagram: Written Infinities

I am always a sucker for a gritty, get your hands dirty kind of novel and Ace of Shades proved to be beyond satisfying. Amanda crafted a unique and lifelike world that I felt I was a part of. Her small touches, descriptions, and character reactions made New Reynes a character of its own. I got similar vibes from her debut novel, Daughter of the Burning City, and after reading her second novel, I have no doubt this is where Amanda’s strengths are. Despite this connection between her two books, Ace of Shades was vastly different and I fell in love with it all the same.

You feel for Enne and Levi throughout the entirety of the story. You want them to succeed, but you also understand how they got into the messes they did. Enne is a thought provoking character as she slips deeper and deeper into the ways of her new environment. Just when you think the world may break her, she rises above it.

Then we have Levi who has a heart of gold, who is pushing to keep the Irons afloat despite knowing the group is not where it should be. We see the development of Levi’s character and the open and honest account of his sexuality. One of my favorite parts about Levi’s sexuality is there is no bat of an eye towards it. It just is. Together, these two become an unforgettable duo, but what I also love are the companions they meet along the way – both new and old. Where these characters begin and end are very different and this journey not only felt organic, but necessary.

There are great quotes and contemplations about fighting against evil, fighting for those you love, and fighting against men whose only goal in life is to take advantage of those weaker than them.  Ace of Shades sucks you in and doesn’t let go. It is a dark YA novel, but one that has a lot of lessons to take from it and characters who force themselves into your heart.

I am so excited for the next installment of this series.

It gets 5/5 cards from me.

Xx

Megan

Ace of Shades Book Tag: Irons Style

Hello Readers & Writers,

I’m so glad it’s the weekend and I’m also really glad that I was introduced to the Ace of Shades Book Tag by Amber at The Literary Phoenix. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you definitely should. This tag came from The Doves Team, but now it’s time for an Iron to take on the challenge.


Ace of Shades takes place in the very mysterious, very dangerous City of Sin. Name a fictional city with a personality of it’s own!

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Immediately, my mind sprang to Orléans from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. The world is very much a part of the story as are the people. Everything in this book felt as if you could reach out and touch it, smell it, or eat it. The descriptions transport you to a world of beauty and appearances, but something dark lurks beneath the surface.

 

 

 


The City of Sin is home to three ruthless gangs: the Irons, the Scarhands and the Doves. Tell us about your favorite fictional criminal family/gang!

If you know me at all, you know exactly where my mind is going and that’s to SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO. This was one of those books where you are in genuine awe of the character development: the relationships between all of the characters, the slow burn between Inej and Kaz, the badasssery of Jesper, the cuteness of Wylan, the viciousness of Matthias, the strength of Nina. Bardugo weaved together such an amazing cast that they have stuck with me even years later. I plan to do a reread as one of my 2018 goals and cry all over again.

Six of Crows squad

Art by Kevin Wada – Full article is here


Enne and Levi are about to be thrown into a deadly game… Name your favorite book in which the characters must play with, and for, their lives.

Throwback to the world of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I remember being wary of picking up this book. It didn’t fit in with a lot of what I read at the time, but my sister-in-law begged me and by begged, I mean bought me the entire set, sat me down, and said you are going to love this. Guess what? I did.

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The Hunger Games was unflinching from the truth. It featured a main character that was motivated by one reason: to save her sister. Everything else – becoming a face of a rebellion, falling in love, fighting – was never because she wanted to, but because she had to. Some call her selfish, but I call her a heroine that knew what she would put her heart and life on the line for. This series and its intricacies still blow me away and has earned a spot in my heart as one of my favorite series ever.


The Irons are a gang of cheats… What is your favorite character that tricks and sneaks around in order to get what they need?

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For this I’m going to pick Xifeng from Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. She’s not a traditional tricky character in terms of cards up her sleeves and sneaking around, but she is cunning af and gets her way through a series of dark magic, deception, and playing people. She sees the world as a chess board and the only goal is to win. Sure, she may not be a likable character, but she is compelling and will make you root for her success.

 

 


The City of Sin is full of people with dark and complicated pasts. Name one book or book series you used to like, but don’t anymore.

This is a hard one to be honest especially since I don’t have all of my books in front of me. A book or series doesn’t spring to mind, but the best answer I can give is a lot of the books I read in middle school. I read by default (cause books are amazing), though now I think I better know my tastes and what really gets me sucked into a book.


With complicated pasts abound, we can find many… burnt cinnamon rolls, so to speak. Name a character that has prickly and tough exterior, but is actually a sweetheart deep down!

Can we talk about August from Our Dark Duet because this is where the angst of August really comes from. A lot happens in between the first novel, This Savage Song, and the second novel, where August transforms from this trying their damned best to be good character, to someone who is so so complicated on the inside. They grapple with humanity, what it means to be morally right, and who their friends are. You can’t help yourself from wanting to save August.

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Not only anti-heroes live in the Ace of Shades world! In New Reynes, one can find plenty of villains as well. Which bookish character do you just love to hate?

I don’t even love to hate them. I just hate them. And by them, I mean Dolores Umbridge. I hope I don’t even have to explain on this one. If you’ve read Harry Potter you’ll know that Dolores needs to never ever EVER come back.

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You, much like our main character Enne’s mother, went missing in the City of Sin. The main character from the last book you read is the one looking for you… How screwed are you?

Well, this is awkward. The last book I finished was White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig which is about murder. The main character Rufus does undergo a journey to solve who is the killer and considering he does figure it out despite a bunch of plot twists and near death experiences, I’d say I’m in good hands. I just hope I’m not killed off before I’m found in the City of Sin.


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Woohoo! I finished the challenge and I hope you enjoyed it. This post was inspired by being a member of the Ace of Shades #ShadowGang. The book releases on April 10th, 2018 and I was so lucky to have read an ARC. Trust me when I say you won’t want to miss it. Preorder it now using one of the links below.

amazon / barnes & noble / book depository / indiebound

 

 

 


Till Next Time,

XX
Megan

History and Vikings with Adrienne Young

Hello Readers & Writers,

Joining me on the blog today is Adrienne Young, author of Sky in the Deep which comes out April 24th, 2018 from Wednesday Books. This is Adrienne’s debut novel and I couldn’t be more than excited for it as I’ve heard it’s a brutal and enticing story. Also, it has vikings which is cool!

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Sky in the Deep.

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Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she’s been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.

A lush, Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, forgiveness, and the definition of family.

Where to Buy: 

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Audible // Indiebound // Powells

Book Depository // Books-A-Million

Q1: Before we start off, I want to give a huge thank you to you, Adrienne, for joining me on the blog! It’s great to have you. To kick things off, your bio mentions you have a love for history. If you could travel to any point in time, what would it be?

Adrienne: Oh geez, this is an impossible question… so I’ll pick three. The African “rebirth” period during Europe’s Dark Ages when the great kingdoms of Africa reigned, the Pacific Northwest before North America was colonized, and the French Revolution.

Q2: How did the idea of Sky in the Deep develop? Was it something that happened over time or an idea that kept nagging at you or something else?

Adrienne: The idea for this story literally hit me like a train. I was driving in the rain and the image of Eelyn on the battlefield, seeing the brother she thought was dead just appeared to me. It was all-consuming. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the story, but I knew how it began and I just started writing and didn’t stop.

Q3: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing Sky in the Deep?

Adrienne: It was a challenge capturing Eelyn’s internal process dealing with her brother’s betrayal because it was complicated and it’s not black and white. She had to go through a lot of emotions and even in the end, it’s not necessarily resolved. That was a hard decision to make as a writer to not button that up completely, but it was true to the character.

Q4: What’s a major theme of Sky in The Deep?

Adrienne: So, when I wrote this book, I was going through some major life stuff that really inspired me to change the way I saw the world and to let go of some things that had defined me for a long time. I think that is totally reflected in this story. It’s a really terrifying process to confront your own beliefs and worldviews and realize that you don’t want to hold onto them anymore. That’s exactly what Eelyn does. And she’s brave enough to change her life and the way she lives.

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

Adrienne: Pretty much what I said above, that just because you were taught something or you picked up a way to see the world somewhere along the way, that doesn’t mean you can’t change and grow. You aren’t letting go of yourself by letting go of things that keep you from love and freedom.

Q6: Describe Sky in the Deep in three words.

Adrienne: Brutal. Beautiful. Brave.

Q7: Is there another time period of history you would love to explore in an upcoming story?

Adrienne: I’d love to write something inspired by the Transnationalism Movement in the 1800’s in New England.

Q8: Favorite drink?

Adrienne: Cold brew coffee with a little cream.

Q9: Tell us a fun fact!

Adrienne: I love pie. All kinds. There are few things in life that make me happier than pie.

About the Author

 

Author-PicAdrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

 

Website: https://www.adrienneyoungbooks.com
Twitter: @adriennebooks
Instagram: @adrienneyoungbooks

So if you haven’t heard of Sky in the Deep, now you have and if you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, what are you doing?? This book is going to blow your socks off. (Is this cheesy? Probably, but I’m so excited for this.)

And once again, a huge thank you to Adrienne for joining me on the blog!

Till Next Time,

xx
Megan

Chainbreaker: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Chainbreaker by Tara Sim which is due out January 2nd, 2018 from Sky Pony Press. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

CaptureThe first thing I noticed about Chainbreaker was it had a very different feel than Timekeeper and I don’t mean this in a bad way. Timekeeper focused strictly on Danny as a main character and we got to follow his journey as he learned about what was happening with the clock towers, as he fell in love, as he fought to save his home town and his father. Chainbreaker expands the world that Tara built in the first installment. Not only do we get several more POVs, but we are taken to India, learn more about time, the clock towers, and their existence in the world. We’re even given a chunk of history.  While for some books, expanding the world this sharply could be a problem, Tara handled it flawlessly. To put my enthusiasm into perspective, I read two-thirds of the book in one sitting. Why did I stop? I had to be an adult. Gross, I know.

The main premise of Chainbreaker is clock towers are being destroyed in India, but time isn’t stopping as it’s prone to do. Danny and Daphne are sent from England to India in order to investigate the strange occurrences, but get way more than they bargained for.

There were tons of things that stood out to me about Chainbreaker. Getting Colton’s POV was a delight as we were able to see how he thought and snippets into his past. (No spoilers, I promise. You just have to read the book.) We got another round of Danny who was once again, a great character to follow, with strong morals and a fighting spirit. Then, perhaps my favorite of the bunch, was Daphne. Like Daphne, I’m biracial. Though I don’t share an Indian heritage with her, I have struggled with similar thoughts of what culture I belong to and what it means to not look like where you come from.  Daphne’s journey and thoughts resonated with me in a way I wasn’t expecting, but welcomed all the same.

This cast of characters and the world building create an engaging read in the Steampunk genre. You root for them. You get to know them and by the end, you want to solve the mystery as much as they do.

Though I’m still freaking out about the ending, (Tara, how could you?), I am beyond excited for book three. I need to know where these characters wind up and hopefully, I won’t have my heart broken.

This book gets 5/5 cogs from me.

Xx

Megan