The TBR Tag

TBR Tag pic

Hello, fellow book junkies! Today I’d like to discuss that three-letter acronym so often bandied about in the reading world, the “To Be Read” (TBR) list. Specifically, my TBR list. 😀 I first noticed this tag on Irena @ Book Dust Magic ‘s blog and believe it was originally created by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square. Thanks for the great tag, ladies!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Like a lot of people, I track books on Goodreads, but my main TBR list is on my home computer. I have probably way more fun than I should marking books as “read” and shuffling around promising upcoming reads.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-books?

Interesting question. A year ago I would have answered without hesitation, print books. But ebooks are growing on me. Currently, my TBR is approximately 60% print, 30% Ebooks, and 10% audiobooks.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Most of my reading choices are based purely on mood–and that’s how I like it. If reading started to feel like a chore, I’d be doomed. Sure, my TBR has gotten heavy with “required” reads like Netgalley ARCS, beta reads for writer friends, and the occasional buddy read, but after my kid-in-a-candy-shop introduction to Netgalley (“I’ll take that one, and that one, and that one. . . “) I’ve learned to keep ARCs and other “obligatory” reads down to 3 or 4 a month.

A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest?

Moby-Dick.

A book you recently added to your TBR pile?

 Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo — I couldn’t believe it wasn’t already on the list, especially after how much I enjoyed Bardugo’s amazing world building and characters Inej and Nina in Six of Crows.

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A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I appreciate beautiful covers, but books don’t make it onto my TBR purely for that reason.

A book on your TBR that you NEVER plan on actually reading?

Moby-Dick. (Probably.)
But seriously, I’m pretty honest with myself about my TBR. I remove an average of 2-3 books from my TBR every month.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

I’m dying to read A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab , the final installment of the Shades of Magic trilogy. I think there will be a HUGE revelation about Lila Bard. Also, Schwab has hinted she’ll be killing off many characters in book three. Hence, I’ll be reading with one eye closed–and one eye very open–to see who those fatalities might be.
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A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  I own a copy but still haven’t read it. The reason? Most likely Fear of Hype syndrome.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read except you? 

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A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read? 

Sooooo many!

The Number of Books on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

 208.

Hmm, that last question was a bit anticlimactic, wasn’t it? Well, thanks for reading my post about one of my favorite subjects, my beloved TBR list. It’s a pretty fun tag, so if you’d like to give it a try. . .

I TAG YOU.

Happy reading!
— Eve Messenger
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The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Hello, fellow book junkies! Well, I’m enjoying home-cation this weekend while my family’s away, so I’m reading and writing like a nut and now get to answer “Sunshine Blogger Award” questions from one of my favorite bloggers on the planet, Shannon @ Clockwork Bibliophile . Not only does Shannon hail from the #1 place in the world I want to visit (Scotland), she has a very pretty blog with tons of insightful posts about books, and she’s so nice and friendly, too.

Rules

  1. Thank the people/person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions from your nominators.
  3. Nominate eleven other bloggers and give them eleven questions.

Shannon’s Questions

  1. What was the very first book you read? (if you can remember)
    I totally did not expect this question. Let’s see. . . I’m pretty sure there was a Mother Goose collection of nursery rhymes pretty early on in my childhood. More than anything, I remember carting around an activity book full of mazes, coloring pages, dot-to-dots, etc. I loved those things.
  2. Why is your favorite genre of books your favorite?
    Another good question! My favorite genre of books is YA fantasy because I appreciate great imagination so much, especially magic in all its variations, and I enjoy heights of emotion found in YA stories. I also like watching characters grow, making connections, finding themselves.
  3. If you were to write a book, where would it be set? (place, time period etc)
    The stories I write are usually set in some blended version of America and Japan, either in the present day or some mythological past. I’ve set stories in suburban neighborhoods, towns, cities, and often in natural settings like mountains or woods.
  4. Have you ever felt connected to a character because they have experienced something you have?
    For sure. I’m too shy to specify the book and character, but in a book I read not that long ago I definitely related to the emotional pain the character suffered.
  5. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
    To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s spot on true to the book.
  6. What is your favorite book-to-tv show adaptation?
    Though I haven’t read the actual books–and probably won’t–I think Game of Thrones is pretty spectacular.
  7. What was the last book you read and did you enjoy it?
    The last book I read was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. “Appreciated” might be the most apt word to describe how I felt about reading it. It was a brilliantly written, four-star read. If I’d felt a little more invested in the main character it would have been a five-star book for sure.
  8. What’s your least favorite book that you’ve ever read?
    *stall, stall* While I get that he’s a skilled writer, I’m not a big fan of Ernest Hemingway’s minimalist, testosterone-fueled stories.
  9. Who is your favorite blogger and why?
    Oh, gosh, there are so many bloggers I adore, for myriad reasons, but I’m going to say Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories is my favorite blogger because she’s been with me since I first started blogging, she’s taught me so much about YA books, and she makes me laugh.
  10. What’s the prettiest cover on your shelf?
    The cover of The Star-Touched Queen catches my eye from across the room all the time.
  11. What is a random fact about you that people might not know?
    I speak fluent Japanese.

I Nominate…

Sabrina Marsi
Nazahet @ Read Diverse Books
Michelle, Books and Movie Addict
Dee @ The Bookish Khaleesi
Stephanie @ Your Daughter’s Bookshelf
Astra @ A Stranger’s Guide to Novels
Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions

My Questions –

I hope I don’t get into trouble with the Sunshine Blogger police but Shannon’s questions were SO GOOD I’m sending them out again to the next round of Sunshine Bloggers.

  1. What was the very first book you read? (if you can remember)Why is your favorite genre of books your favorite?
  2. Why is your favorite genre of books your favorite?
  3. If you were to write a book, where would it be set? (place, time period etc)
  4. Have you ever felt connected to a character because they have experienced something you have?
  5. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
  6. What is your favorite book-to-tv show adaptation?
  7. What was the last book you read and did you enjoy it?What’s your least favorite book that you’ve ever read?
  8. Who is your favorite blogger and why?
  9. What’s the prettiest cover on your shelf?
  10. What is a random fact about you that people might not know?

Whooohooo, House-cation!

Hello, fellow book junkies!  It’s amazing how much better regular exercise makes me feel, both in body and soul. Last week I finally started going for walks again for 20-30 minutes each night. The solitude of walking alone is nice, but it’s even more fun when a family member or neighbor tags along. Last Friday there were four of us chatting and enjoying the night air.

But that’s not the only reason I’m in a good mood. . .

#1 It’s Friday!!

#2 I won an ARC I’ve been really looking forward to reading: And I Darken by Kiersten White. This dark historical fantasy set in the age of the Ottoman Empire is getting all kinds of great reviews.

#2 House-cation!! With my lovely family out of town for a few days, I’ll get the house all to myself. Yes, it might get a bit lonely, but I’ll have my dogs, cats, and lovely online friends like you for company. I can watch any TV show I want (we’re a one TV household), get lots of writing and reading done, and yeah, pretty much do whatever I want.

Suffice to say, you’ll probably be seeing me around more over the next couple of days. 🙂

— Eve Messenger

Current Reads, Netgalley & Morally Ambiguous Characters

Photo: thespiritscience.net

There seems to be a common theme running through the books I’m reading this month: characters who are impossible to classify as either good or evil. This unintentional trend began with Vicious, in which V.E. Schwab punched me in the face with “who’s really the villain here?”

This month I jumped on the Netgalley train. Out of three ARCs I’ve read so far this month, my favorite was The Graces by Laure Eve. Talk about morally ambiguous characters! You never quite know what everyone’s about until the end. The Graces is a contemporary paranormal YA story about young witches, which takes place in a vaguely British seaside town (though the author never identifies the town by name–which is the only thing that irked me.) If you’re interested, here’s my Goodreads review. Check out this fantastic cover.

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I’m halfway through Nimona, which is a crazy adorable comic/graphic novel (I never quite know the difference). And again with morally ambiguous characters–I am so rooting for Nimona and her “boss” despite (because of?) the fact that nothing makes Nimona happier than hatching villainous plans.

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Have any of you read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein? I’m about six chapters into it and having a hard time loving it. The writing is high level, and juicy plot twists are sure to come, but I’m feeling pretty textbookish about it, partly because Code Name Verity is reminding me, like a bucket of ice water over my head, why I do not like war era fiction, or technical stuff, like all the airplane model and engine part references. I want to like this book, so if you’ve read it and liked it, I’d love to hear why.

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–Eve Messenger

Book Tag Inspired by “The Gilmore Girls” #amreading

GG Tag

I didn’t see The Gilmore Girls when it first aired, but I had a blast binge-watching Lorelei and Rory on Netflix and now have kindred book-loving spirit Beth @ Betwixt the Pages to thank for this fun Gilmore Girls Book Tag. If you’d like to do it too, please consider yourself tagged!

1. I JUST GOT HIT BY A DEER –
character having the worst day ever

“Day” from the book Legend has all the soldiers of a dystopian society against him. And they are not kind.

He is a legend... She is a prodigy... Who will be champion?:

2. STARS HOLLOW –
wildly eccentric cast

The Night Circus  features such a unique assortment of characters.

3. COFFEE –
a book you’re addicted to/a character with an addiction

I think Miles (AKA “Pudge”) was pretty addicted to Alaska and her wild ways.

4. SOMEONE DEVIL EGGED MY CAR?! –
great act of revenge

Victor from Vicious  owns this category.

5. MR. MEDINA –
an illicit affair

Nathanial Hawthorne penned the ultimate illicit affair story in The Scarlet Letter. I was recently impressed by the Manga Classics version of The Scarlet Letter, which did a great job capturing key plot details and most memorable lines–all in manga style.

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6. KIM’S ANTIQUES –
a world you’d be afraid to enter

The strange world and undercurrent of evil in The Knife of Never Letting Go was genuinely unsettling.

7. HARVARD VS. YALE –
character who needs to make a life-changing decision

Alexandra in Consider by Kristy Acevedo had to decide whether or not to take the ultimate leap of faith.

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8. LUKE’S DINER –
a comfort read

Captain Marvel Further, Faster (vol. 1-6) by DeConnick & Lopez. Talk about a comfort read. This graphic novel was pure Friday night joy.

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More

9. AM I CRYING OR LAUGHING? –
a book that messed with your emotions

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter devastated me. In fact, I’m pretty sure I read #8 to decompress from this beautifully written but heartbreaking book.

10. EMILY –
the HBIC (Head Bitch in Charge)

Predatory, coldly beautiful Dr. Cable from Uglies.

11. LORELAI AND RORY –
favorite family dynamic

I choose the Shadowhunters family from Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices. They may not be related to one another, but they live together and have each other’s backs.

12. I PUSHED HIM IN THE LAKE! –
a book you’d throw in a lake

While reading Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle there were times I wanted to throw it into a lake because the derogatory Asian references were so offensive.

13. 1000 YELLOW DAISIES –
favorite romance

In Magonia, Jason literally travels to the far corners of the world to find Aza.

14. JESS –
an unpopular opinion

Cinder. Sorry!!

15. FIRST SNOW –
snowy or holiday read

Pretty much any book by Jane Austen feels like a snowy or holiday read. Something about reading stories set in Regency era England makes me want to curl up by a crackling fire.

16. HEP ALIEN –
book centered around music

In addition to being clever and funny, The Haters had so many musical references which, as a musician and music teacher, I enjoyed immensely–Jesse Andrews authentically captures what it’s like to jam with bandmates. But be warned: this YA book is undeniably an R-rated read.

17. HE’D BETTER HAVE A MOTORCYCLE! –
your book crush

Day from Legend.

18. IT’S REPETITIVE AND REDUNDANT –
a book that could have been shorter

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (Should I also put this in category #14??)

19. KIRK –
the weirdest book you’ve ever read

Hahaha, Kirk is weird. Okay, so I’m gonna have to go with Magonia again on this one.

20. IT’S A LIFESTYLE. IT’S A RELIGION –
that one book that means more to you than any other

Impossible to answer.

I Tag:

Michelle, Books & Movies Addict
Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories
Jess @ Blogging Everything Beautiful
Stefanie @ YourDaughter’sBookshelf
The Orang-utan Librarian
Franciska @ Life is Sweet in Books
Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets
Astra @ A Stranger’s Guide to Novels

“My Intimidating TBR” Tag & A New YA Release I’m Dying to Read

My new friend, Sean @ KingdomBookBlog, gave me a fabulous reason to think about books by tapping me for this “My Intimidating TBR” book tag. If you would like to join in the fun, please consider yourself tagged!

1.) What book have you been unable to finish?

I’m sorry to say my only DNF of the past year was a book many people adore, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

2.) What book have you yet to read because you just haven’t had the time?

So many books fall into this category! I’ll go with Legend by Marie Lu because I really want to read it! In fact, it’s been sitting in a TBR stack right here on my desk beside where I’m typing at this very moment, but poor Legend hasn’t made it to the top yet.

Legend (Legend, #1)

3.) What book have you yet to read because it’s a sequel?

I don’t think my blog would be my blog if I didn’t mention V.E. Schwab in at least every other post so, yes, the book I read because it was a sequel was A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. 🙂

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4.) What book have you yet to read because it’s a new release?

If I positively can’t wait to read a new release, I do this silly thing called BUY THE BOOK. However, there is a new book I’m dying to read but can’t since it’s not scheduled for release until September 2016–The Reader by Traci Chee. Protagonist Sefia vows to save her kidnapped relative, but rescue means learning to read in a world where literacy is forbidden.  A sample chapter is available here–you’ll need to scroll past several other sample chapters to get to it.

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5.) What book have you yet to read because you read a book by the same author and didn’t like it?

I can’t remember a specific book I went out of my way to avoid because it was written by an author whose writing I didn’t care for.

6.) What book have you yet to read because you aren’t in the mood?

Hmm, good question. Probably The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks. It’s the kind of whimsical, fantastical, well-written story I would enjoy, but something about the dense typeface gives me pause.

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7.) What book have you yet to read because it’s humongous?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. At 579 pages it isn’t ridiculously long, but I’m a little on the fence about reading it–if it were shorter I would fall off the fence on the side of reading it. 🙂

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8.) What book have you yet to read because it was a cover buy with bad reviews?

I adore pretty book covers but don’t buy books purely based on them.

9.) Which book on your TBR is the most intimidating to you?

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

–Eve Messenger

Happy & Confused April Reading #amreading

April 2016 Reads

This month I got to go all over the place in books. Just looking at the graphic of the ten books I read in April makes happy and maybe just a bit confused. While there was definitely a YA fantasy slant to my reading selections (no big surprise there), I think this month each book ended up being from a different genre.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo-I kicked off April with a bit of YA sci-fi. Intriguing concept, shocker ending.

What We Need to Survive by Elena Johansen – My writer-blogger friend Elena published an adult post-apocalyptic romance that I just had to read. Her writing is flawless.

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter – This YA contemporary blew me away with its beautiful writing and All. Of. The. Feels. I posted a review of it here.

Captain Marvel Further, Faster, More vol. 1-6 Higher by DeConnick & Lopez-Another recommendation from Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories that I adored, this (graphic novel? comic book?) series predominantly features females in the lead roles, including of course Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. Excellent writing by DeConnick and beautiful artwork by David Lopez. Now I’m off to read Ms. Marvel. . .

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou-At last I sat down and read a collection of poetry by the modern goddess of poetry herself, Maya Angelou. She wrote deep, musical, personal poetry that does what poetry should–makes us see the world as very big and very small all at the same time and makes us think.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor-An outstanding YA urban fantasy. I liked the dark, imaginative story and the atmospheric Prague setting. From all the things I’d heard about it,  I expected the writing to be transcendent, which finally started happening on page 174. This story went to a place that, well–no spoilers–but what an ending.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – I finally got around to reading this hugely famous book and had a fun time. Mixing things up with a bit of  YA dystopia every once in a while is a good thing.

The Uninvited by Cat Winters – YA paranormal. I’m always up for a story about ghosts, and I liked the historical setting of WW-I , flu-epidemic era small-town America, but this turned into a romance right away, which is not my favorite genre.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – Adult urban fantasy. I read this as an audio book and, as someone who swore long ago never, ever to commute to work again, listening to it during my short ride to work and during errands took an excruciatingly long time. Five weeks, to be exact. I finally broke down, found a PDF of Neverwhere online, read the last 30 pages (with my eyes, not my ears), and enjoyed the book so much more. Also, an interesting thing happens when I read Neil Gaiman’s writing–it almost instantly makes me a better writer. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it’s really true!

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi- Yay, this highly anticipated YA Indian fantasy finally arrived! Thanks to Amazon, I received it on the release date, April 26, and read it in two days.Gorgeous imagery, poetic prose.

Happy reading! Did you have a crazy, mixed-up genre of a reading month, too?

–Eve Messenger

Delightful Interview with Roshani Chokshi, Author of The Star-Touched Queen

In honor of this week’s release of the gorgeous new YA novel, The Star-Touched Queen, I am re-Roshani at ALA Midwinter Conferencerunning a delightful interview I did with author Roshani Chokshi back in February.

 

Why The Star-Touched Queen is a Must-Read:

The Star-Touched Queen is one of the most talked-about YA debut novels of 2016 for good reason. Sarah J. Maas calls Rokshani Chokshi’s writing “flawless.” Then there’s Indian mythology, great world-building (trees that bear memories instead of fruit!?), a unique protagonist you want to root for, plus a cover so beautiful it makes you feel like you’re stepping into a dream.

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Interview with Rokshani Chokshi

Eve:   Roshani, YA fans are already talking about your gorgeous Pinterest page. Where did you find such beautiful pictures to represent The Star-Touched Queen?

RC: Thank you! I guess I got ridiculously lucky on Pinterest. But I also typed in strange things in the search box, like, “gothic jeweled fruit” and “bloody hands.” You’ll get some interesting stuff…

Eve:  What made you fall in love with your novel?

RC: I love this question! I fell in love with it because of its ease. It’s not a new story. It’s threaded with a thousand and one familiar tales, from fairytales to folklore all across the world. But what made me so excited about writing it was tweaking little things and pushing the worldbuilding farther.

Eve:  Are you planning a book tour? If so, what is a question you hope someone asks?

RC: Not sure yet! I know we’re doing a blog tour, and I’m very excited for that. I hope someone asks me what my job would be in the wizarding (and witches!) world of Harry Potter.

Eve:  Now I have to ask. . . What would your job be in the wizarding world of Harry Potter?

RC: I would love to be MINISTER OF MAGIC!!!  Thank you for asking. 🙂

EveThe publishing industry is a notoriously slow-moving machine. From writing to publication, how long was the “birthing” process of your book? What have some of the highlights been?

RC: From writing to sale…about two years. The highlights have been working with my agent and editor who have been incredible champions throughout all my doubts, rewrites and crazy revision ideas.

Eve:  Many YA writers also seem to be music lovers. Did you create a playlist for your novel and, if so, what are some of the songs on it?

RC: Yes! “Satellite” by Guster, “Nagada Sang Dhol” from the Bollywood film Ram-Leela and, don’t laugh, “679” by Fetty Wap. My brain is a many-fangled beast…
spotify:user:227tl52wwdhignryikiunkm2y:playlist:3hE4yTjI7YOKBSMDtrDRve

EveYour eclectic song choices make me want to read the book even more! Speaking of music, YA authors Libba Bray, Natalie Standiford, Barnabas Miller, and Daniel Ehrenhaft have been known to perform at publishing industry events with their band, Tiger Beat. If you were in an authors band, what instrument would you play?

RC: Glass harmonica. It’s just so strange. I must possess it.


Eve:  I LOVE the glass harmonica. Great pick. . .  What are some books you recently read that you loved?

RC: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik recently ate my soul (in the best way possible) and I also loved RADIANCE by Catherynne Valente.

Eve:  Having an online presence is a big deal for writers. How do you balance writing and social media?

RC: I think putting my phone on Do Not Disturb has been the most helpful. Maybe it’s just me, but I  can get anxious on social media. So, if I’m not careful, it can take up way more hours of my day than it should.

EveIn the early days of crafting your novel, were you shy about sharing what you’d written with others?

RC: Very much!!! But that’s part of the beauty of writing. We want it to be read, seen and felt. So taking that first step with beta readers and critique partners is a wonderful and terrifying moment.

Eve:  Do you have a critique group and, if so, how did you find them?

RC: Yes. I found them on sites like Ladies Who Critique or Twitter!

Eve:  Your novel has such an evocative title. Who came up with the title, The Star-Touched Queen? Was this the same title you used when querying agents?

RC: When I queried agents, I used the title “THE GLASS GARDEN.” After signing with my agent, we sold the book when it was titled THE BRIDE OF DUSK AND GLASS. AFTER selling, we changed it to THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN thanks to the geniuses over at MacMillan.

Eve:  What’s your typical writing schedule? Do you reward yourself for meeting writing goals?

RC: I try to get most of my writing done in the morning-early afternoon. The light in myRoshani Chokshi fave reward cadbury bar favorite room is at its softest, and it makes me feel deliciously inspired. I do reward myself! Every 1k gets me half a Cadbury bar. I do, however, frequently break these rules…what are rules for after all…

Eve:  Many writers have dark moments while working on their novels, times when they’re not sure they’ll ever finish. If you encountered hurdles like this, how did you overcome them?

RC: When I get this way (and it does happen), I read my favorite books. I return to the worlds of Neil Gaiman, Laini Taylor and Catherynne Valente. I let them guide me back to why I love writing.

Eve:  Was there any particular epiphany you had while writing your novel when you said to yourself, “Hey, I can do this. I’m going to publish this thing.”

RC: No, actually! And I WISH I DID! When I finished TSTQ, there was a great surge of “wow. I did the thing!” But that was what I was celebrating. Not the idea that I could actually find it on bookshelves one day.

Eve:  Lately, YA book lovers seem to be saying there is an overemphasis on romance in YA fiction. What are your thoughts on this?

RC: I love reading romance in YA. But I don’t think it’s critical to a plot. There are some books, like SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo, which deftly handle characterization and takes the focus away from the characters’ romantic entanglements. Other beautiful books, like ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS by Sarah McCarry, have romance but focus on the friendship and the experience of growing. I have no problem with romance, but I personally prefer books where romance is not the ONLY motivation for the character.

Eve:  Who are some of your favorite fictional characters and why?

RC: Howl, from HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE because he was vain and wonderful and my first serious book boyfriend.    Howl from Howl's Moving Castle

Kaye, from Holly Black’s TITHE because she was fierce and gritty.      Kaye from Tithe

Razgut, from Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy because he was pitiful and deranged and wildly funny.

Eve:  What’s something you really hope people say after they read your novel?

RC: I hope they forget they were reading. I hope they think they’ve tasted fairy fruit and fallen in love and spent time wandering through Otherworldly palaces.

Eve: Best of luck to you, Roshani. Ever since I read your short story, The Star Maiden, in Shimmer magazine, I knew you’d be a great success. Thank you for all your fantastic answers to my questions.

RC: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about writing. I deeply appreciate it.

Eve: Where can your fans reach you?

RC: Pretty much everywhere!

 

 

Bon Voyage, Book Junkies and Writers #amwriting

I’m packed and ready to head out for a four-day, three-night writing retreat. My first one, all by myself. I booked a deal for three FREE nights at a hotel and, starting today at about 1pm, I will hunker down in a hotel room and work hard on my novel–a dark, modern YA fantasy I mentioned a few weeks back. Distraction-free for four days, I’m hoping to write enough to put a big dent in my CampNaNoWriMo  goal of 60,000 words for the month.

After writing all day, I’ll reward myself with a show,  dinner, and/or chatting and high-fiving with interesting people from all over the world at the blackjack tables. That’s right. I will be in. . .

Since I’ll be so immersed in writing my new book you probably won’t see me around for a while.

Just kidding.

Of course I’ll pop in and check  on you, my wonderful writer and book junkie friends (hotel WIFI permitting).

Speaking of book junkies. . . my Kindle Paperwhite is brimming with books to be read during the trip. Not that I’ll be able to get to them all , but it’s nice to have a choice, right? What We Need to Survive by Elena Johansen (writer and blogger friend extraordinaire) will definitely be the first book I read,  but after that what do you think I should try next?

Kindle TBR for the Vegas Trip:
What We Need to Survive by Elena Johansen
The Uninvited by Cat Winters Thanks for the recommendation Beth @ Betwixt-the-pages!
Sapphire Blue (Red Ruby Trilogy #2) by Kerstin Gier 
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 
The Last Orphans by N.W. Harris (Thanks to Amanda @ cover2covermom for finding this great deal.)
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma  ( I was disappointed in 17 & Gone, but Suma is a good writer, so I’d like to give her another try.)
Gambit by C.L. Denault (Melanie Noelle Bernard, this book is on this list because of you
The Day We Are Born by Philippa Cameron

Viva Las Vegas!

–Eve Messenger

The Surprise Star of the 8 Books I Read in March was. . .

March Reads 2016 copy

Oh, look at all the literary worlds I got to visit in March.

Only a Hundred Pages Shorter than Moby-Dick
At 565 pages, The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden was my longest read of the month, with A Gathering of Shadows coming in second at 500 pages. The Casquette Girls was one of those books that had me scratching my head wondering why it kept me so engrossed. I think the biggest reason is that the paranormal characters and events were interwoven with the enchanting, extraordinary world of New Orleans. 4 stars

Transported to a Dream then Sparked with a New ObsessionTsukiko from The Night Circus by CaylaLydon
With tThe Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern transported me to a dream world of magic, a battle to the death, and compelling characters, including my new favorite, Claire Bowen. This book also left me with a dire need for a prequel featuring Tsukiko and Hinata. If you read the  book, hopefully you’ll understand. The Night Circus was published in 2011 as the first in a series, but Erin Morgenstern is still working on the sequel because, apparently, writing this beautiful takes time. 4.5 stars

What’s a Story Without Believable Motives?
The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K.C. Tansley
There’s a lot to like about The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. Of course, there are ghosts, and a girl who can see them, then there’s possession and a sort of time travel with an ancient curse. The biggest issue for me was believability–there wasn’t a compelling enough reason for the protagonist to risk everything to embark on her dangerous journey. Perhaps for that reason, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts did not pass my “skim test,” meaning I found myself speed-reading through numerous passages that didn’t further the story.  3 stars

Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Write Alone
Beta read-Adult Paranormal WIP by  Tracy L. Jackson
My dear writing friend Tracy calmly talks me down from writing ledges, fangirls with me over The Walking Dead each week, and now has entrusted me to offer honest feedback on her wonderful work in progress, an adult paranormal novel. Since it’s not published yet, I won’t reveal much except to say there are MANY characters to fall in love with, plus an intriguing curse and, again, the amazing city of New Orleans. I want to read more books set in New Orleans! If you have any to recommend, I’d love to hear.

Why I am No Longer a Cassandra-Clare-Book Virgin
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
At last, I read my first Cassandra Clare book. Clockwork Angel was darker than I’d expected, which was a nice surprise. And the characters–Tessa, Jessamine and, oh, I’m enraptured by Jem. I saw certain plot twists coming from a mile away, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book and wanting to read more in the series. 4 stars.

Schwab, You Got Me to Read Your Second Book
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
I loved, adored, was blown away by the masterful writing of A Darker Shade of Magic, so I had to read the second book, A Gathering of Shadows. Amazing new characters were introduced, notably Alucard and Ojka. Plus, the Element Games were super fun, and Lila still kicks butt. But I enjoyed the first book more, probably because I’m a “discovery” reader, meaning I get the most pleasure out of discovering new worlds, characters, and writers, and it takes a LOT for me to spend more time in a literary world I’ve already experienced. 4.5 stars

Surprise Star of the Month
Pivot Point by Kasie West
I knew I wanted to check out Kasie West’s writing at some point, but Pivot Point wasn’t even on my radar until, on a whim, I picked it up from the library. I’m so glad I did. It was one of those “exactly what I was in the mood for” books. The plot kept me guessing all the way through, and the unique story structure made for a fascinating read. I’m all in for the next book in the series, Split Second. 4.5 stars

The Challenge of Sustaining Magnificence
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
At a hundred pages in, I was completely enamored by this beautiful, achingly bittersweet story. Through the second act, the story got a little same-y and could have used a twist, but the writing was strong, and the dual-POV structure worked really well. All the Bright Places is a moving story with deep philosophical themes and memorable main characters. 4 stars

 –Eve Messenger