This Week's Five!

This Week’s Five!!! – October 31

Halloween 2015

  1. These tips for NaNoWriMo from Anette Reads
  2. Tools for Writers from Writers Helping Writers
  3. I had a lot of fun making my Top Ten Tuesday post this week, and visiting all the others
  4. Making Jack-O-Lanterns (pictured above) with family! Mine is the far right on the top, son’s is next to mine, and husband’s is on the far left
  5. Participating in the first #BHPChat

Oh, and today’s Halloween, so YAY CANDY! What have you enjoyed this week? Is there something you’re looking forward to in the near future?

Book Review

Review – Conviction by S. Usher Evans

You guys I am so excited to let you know that Conviction releases tomorrow! Of course, I’ve already got my hands on a copy, and I just have to tell you all about it!

In case you missed it, I brought back my reviews of Double Life and Alliances last week in my From the Vault post.

Find more information about the lovely S. Usher Evans here.

Clink.

Razia is in trouble. Captured by a fellow pirate, she now finds herself back on probation with a bounty worth zero credits. In the cold reality, she begins to question herself and everything she has been working towards all of her life–and what she’s willing to do to reclaim her glory.

Conviction is the third book in the Razia series.

Piracy is a game. What do you stand for?(Goodreads)

So far I think this is my favorite book in the series. I give Conviction 5 stars!

Positives:

  • Lyssa/Razia is as hard on herself as ever, and she finds herself asking the questions I think we all ask ourselves at some point in time.
  • We really get to see some of the guilt that she carries around, afraid to share because she’s afraid of everyone’s reaction. What she thinks will happen, is of course blown out of proportion to what actually does, as is usually the case when we dwell on things.
  • Razia in a dress!
  • A Pirate Ball!
  • Razia trying to work while inebriated.
  • A little bit of time spent with all of my favorite characters, including another Lizbeth scene that made me laugh.
  • Great friends give tough love, but they accept you.
  • CHAPTER SIXTEEN (you now have to read the entire thing to find out what this is)!

Negatives:

  • I really want to slap a character. I guess really that’s actually a positive, but still…Jukin is just terrible.

Other:

  • Overall I felt like there were more little details, more little conversations, that helped to build a fuller and richer picture than the previous two books.

*I received a free copy of this book. That does not affect my review.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Paranormal Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Paranormal Reads Header

I had to do some digging in my “read” shelf on Goodreads to remember some of these, because paranormal books aren’t my typical haunt, and I tried not to add those that I consider more fantasy than paranormal, but they often intermingle–at least to me. Not necessarily listed in “Top” order. Covers link to Goodreads.

44 by Jools Sinclair – I loved the twist in this one, so much so that I actually remember it!
The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine – My mother-in-law got me started on these, I think I still have a couple to read. Fun reads, though!
Blood Eden series by Julie Kagawa – I loved seeing Julie at NTTBF this year, and when I found The Immortal Rules on Overdrive, I had to read it. This is my most recent paranormal read, and I loved it! Although I still have to read the last in the series.
The Dark Saga (Dark Carpathian) by Christine Feehan – The first few of these were my introduction into adult romance while in high school, and actually they may have been among some of the first paranormal books I ever read.
The House of Grey by Collin Earl – Honestly I don’t remember much about this, but I liked it enough when I read it to give it five stars on Amazon…
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz – I was a huge Dean Koontz fan during my high school years, and Odd Thomas was among my favorites!
Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn – Not having the ability to read minds is a danger in this world. I remember reading and liking this book quite well. Maybe I should check out the rest of the trilogy.
The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos – It’s been a while, but I remember this being an entertaining read…
Anathema by Megg Jensen – One of the books I read when I first got my first kindle, and another series I need to finish. There are more to Reychel’s dreams than she realizes…(I honestly hope I’m thinking of the right story.)
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking – Another of the first books I read on my first kindle. Honestly when I read the Blood Eden series by Julie Kagawa, I was reminded a lot of the journey the MC goes on in this book. It’s the zombie apocalypse, and Remy is trying to get to the rumored safe place that might have a cure.
Personal

This Week’s Five!!!

Fall This Weeks Five

Five things I enjoyed this week:

  1. Our health is back to normal!
  2. The Creative Penn’s post – Writing And Editing Fiction: 7 Things To Fix In Your First Self-Edit.
  3. The rain! Ok, so I know it’s been a bit much in some places, but rain really does make me happy, so I’m thankful we’re finally getting some (more).
  4. My son woke himself up by laughing one day this week.
  5. There’s an entire bag of candy in the kitchen.

And you know what? Five isn’t enough this week, so here’s some more.

  • I’ve been listening to a “Relaxation” radio station that has been playing mostly piano music, and a lot of them are the hymns we used to sing in church when I was a kid. The songs transport me back in time 20 years, and I’m back in that small sanctuary, listening to the voices all mix and mingle together. It’s a very distinct and peaceful feeling.
  • I got to witness a friend’s novel make it to #2 in Amazon’s Science Fiction > Space Opera best sellers (free), and it has also made it’s way to #12 in the general Science Fiction best sellers. I love seeing others’ success!
  • I’ve decided to do National Novel Writing Month, and this year there are a lot of people I would consider friends doing it, too, so maybe I’ll actually “win” this time because I won’t be all alone.

I could probably go on with some more, but I like to try and keep these short and sweet.

How was your week? What are some things you enjoyed? Anything exciting in the close future?

From the Vault

From the Vault – Double Life & Alliances by S. Usher Evans

This week’s From the Vault is a double dose! In honor of Conviction’s release next week, I thought I’d bring back my reviews for the first two books in The Razia Series by the lovely S. Usher Evans. You can bet on seeing some more on Conviction next week! These reviews first appeared here and here. Wow, you can really see the changes in my reviewing style from my when I first began and now!

Piracy is a game. How much are you worth?

Since she was a little girl, everyone – from her father to the Great Creator himself – told Lyssa Peate the same thing: she’s worthless. But when she becomes the pirate bounty hunter Razia, she can see the price tag on her own head. Employed by one of the four pirate syndicates, she uses bank transactions and her considerable wits to capture rival members. At least, she would be if Razia’s boss ever gave her a chance. It’s a man’s world, and all she’s allowed to hunt are purse snatchers while she languishes on probation.

To pay the bills, she’s stuck in her old life as Lyssa, discovering and analyzing distant planets and selling them for cash. She’s doing just enough to stay out of trouble, pretending to be continuing her father’s mysterious research while away for long periods of time. Her slimy boss is always asking questions and even assigns one of her younger brothers, Vel, to intern with her. Already struggling to keep the balance between her double lives, she tries everything to rid herself of the kid…

…until the universal police mistake Lyssa’s intern for Razia’s hostage. (Goodreads)

The two identities of Lyssa/Razia show her struggle with who she is and her search for acceptance from the pirate community and herself. Evans does a wonderful job of setting up the internal motivations and the external forces working on Razia and bringing her face-to-face with her problems. Lyssa’s struggles and emotions are palpable and compel you to keep going, especially as her plans for pirate domination keep getting a wrench thrown into them. There was never a dull moment. The banter between characters is witty and realistic; and while Razia is trying to figure out what in the world she is going to do, she didn’t come across as the whiny-needy female characters that have made their way to the main stage in recent years.

I gave Double Life five stars!

Piracy is a game. Whom do you trust?

Lyssa Peate has found a tenuous balance between her double lives – the planet-discovering scientist and space pirate bounty hunter named Razia. No longer on probation, Razia still struggles to be thought of as more than a chocolate-fetching joke, and Lyssa can’t be truthful to those closest to her. But both lives are turned upside-down when feisty government investigator Lizbeth Carter shows up to capture the same pirate Razia is after.

Lizbeth’s not interested in taking Razia’s thunder; rather, she convinces the caustic bounty hunter to help solve a mystery. Somebody’s hiring pirates to target government ships, and there’s a money trail that doesn’t make any sense. From the desert planet of D-882 to the capital city on S-864, the investigation leads them deeper into a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the Universal Government – and to one of the most painful chapters in Lyssa’s past.

Alliances is the highly anticipated sequel to Double Life, Book 1 in the Razia Series.(Goodreads)

We catch up with Razia about a year after the ending of Double Life. No longer on pirate probation, she’s been doing a commendable job bounty-hunting, but getting none of the commendations. She is just as stubborn and unwilling to hear anyone out when they are saying anything she doesn’t want to hear. When another female shows up in her territory, it’s ON! Despite the unlikelihood of Razia joining forces with anyone, her and Lizbeth begin uncovering an operation much larger than either of them expected, and what they find will send them for a loop.

Positives:

  • Duo of strong women characters with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, as well as readily-equipped with witty banter.
  • Idea that being feminine doesn’t equal being a whore. (Evans talks about this on her blog, too.)
  • Along those same lines, it’s nice to have a story whose main character is female and her main interest/concern/motivation is not romance.
  • It’s a fun/tense adventure!
  • Said fun/tense adventure is not without an emotional journey of self-discovery and brutal truth-slaps.
  • Nice comic relief.
  • I like that we get the results of Razia’s searches in tables, it makes it more immersive (probably even more effective when not read on a phone…).

Negatives:

  • I didn’t really have any “cons” about this book, but to each their own. 🙂

Others:

  • There are times you want to reach out and slap Razia and tell her to listen.
  • (Putting this here until I can test out my theory that this is device-specific) some of the tables used so that we can see what Razia sees were too wide for the page, not really a con, and not enough to really affect the experience.
  • There is a geeky part of me who wishes to delve [even] further into the naming system for the planets, how the time system works, the science of the space travel, and other science-y things. This is good, because that means the story is interesting enough that I want to know more.

I gave Alliances five stars!

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me

This is part of the Top Ten Tuesday series hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.wishes

  1. I wish for the ability to stop time so I can read an entire book without interruptions missing other things.
  2. I wish I had the (unwritten) rest of The Madness Method series by J. Leigh Bralick.
  3. I wish I had the rest of The Razia Series by S. Usher Evans
  4. I wish I could project the movie from my head as I read, so I could share what I see with those around me.
  5. I wish I had an unlimited amount of money to spend on books. Like, just connect the “buy with one click” button to some billionaire’s account, I only use it to buy books anyway.
  6. I wish I had a perfect memory for the books I’ve read. Once a bit of time has passed, a few main concepts or characters or lines might stick with me, but the rest fades out. I’d like to be able to remember them without reading the entire thing again. (This would have also come in useful during college….hmm….)
  7. I wish I could attend all the bookish conventions!
  8. I wish I could give every child a book they would absolutely love, and the ability to read it.
  9. I wish I could visit *all* the libraries and *all* the bookstores and learn all their little histories and secrets.
  10. I wish I could hang out with characters from a book once I’ve finished it.
Book Review

Review – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This morning I woke up earlier than usual, and happier than usual, and I wanted to read. I wanted to read for myself, not for an edit, not for a beta, but for my own enjoyment (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my editing and beta clients! But sometimes, you want something else). I wanted something lighter than my usual haunts, something contemporary so I didn’t have to worry too much about the details of a new fantasy world, and something short(ish). So I swiped through my new kindle paperwhite, glossing over the bajillion fantasy titles I have, and comparing the book lengths of the others. When I saw Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, I knew what I would be reading, it looked absolutely perfect.

I was the lucky recipient of a giveaway a while back from Of Spectacles and Books (Amanda is an absolutely lovely human being that you should be following and supporting), it was a paperback of Lola and the Boy Next Door. Not long after, Anna and the French Kiss (ebook) was on sale! Since I knew they were part of a series, I got it, because I have a need to read the first one first, that’s just how it goes. It feels like it has taken me a long time to get around to reading this, but I’m glad I finally did. I started reading somewhere just before 9AM and finished just after 2PM, so it was a pretty quick read for me, especially considering there was kid-care in there, too.

Enough about me, on to the book!

Anna and the French Kiss Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?(Goodreads)

I give this book 4 stars!

I really had a fun time reading this book. Within the first page I could hear Anna’s voice so clearly, I knew I was going to enjoy reading it.

Positives:

  • A light read.
  • I could hear Anna’s voice immediately, and I really enjoyed that the view and experience of Paris was hers. There wasn’t anything, as a reader, I was really expected to know (which is good, ’cause I don’t) about Paris in order to follow the story.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by her first interactions with another student (Mer). While there was the cliche mean-girl, Anna’s first run in was not with her, but someone who would become a friend, instead.
  • I love how Anna begins to refer to St. Clair differently depending on how she’s thinking of him.
  • A lot of the misunderstandings, experiences, and relationships seem pretty true/believable for the age-group.

Negatives:

  • I might have liked to see a *little* more of the girls hanging out with just each other, because I wanted to know more about Mer and Rashmi.
  • I felt like it ended kind of abruptly. I looked down and saw there was only 10% left of the book, and I was like, “Wow, really? This can wrap up that quickly?”

Other:

  • In the ebook there were a lot of missing spaces after periods. Once I notice something like that once, I notice it every time, and it happened A LOT.

***THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Sorry about the bold warning — I thought someone might appreciate it, although this is a “romance” and there are things that are typically expected with that. Anywho…

Sometimes I find it more difficult to suspend my disbelief in a contemporary setting than others, so I am left a little cynical at the ending of the book. Of course if you put the girl who’s had almost zero experience with boys in a boarding school on the other side of the world, she’s going to fall in love with the handsome boy in her group of friends. The ending we’re left with seems to be a happily ever after, although in my mind I’m screaming because in five years, they’ll each be in love with someone else! But that’s why we read, isn’t it? To escape this world where hearts get broken so easily, where teenage love can withstand the test of time. Where our cynicism can take a back seat to light, fluffy feelings, if only for a few hours.