Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Hey all, Dani here.

So, I owe you guys a couple more reviews. I’ve been sticking to at least one post each week, but I’ve been reading quite a bit so…I’m going to probably have a few extra posts in the next couple weeks.

Anyway, today I want to talk about a book I was really looking forward to reading. The cover is beautiful and the premise sounded pretty intriguing. Also, I’ve been trying to branch out a tiny bit more, which means reading outside of fantasy more. This lovely book is technically a sci-fi story and includes different planets and races, as well as some interesting technology.

empressofathousandskies

Summary

CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

My Thoughts

I had to give this one a 3.5 star rating. I liked it but it didn’t exactly blow me away.

The summary mentions this is perfect for fans of the Lunar Chronicles or the Red Rising trilogy. Now, I haven’t read the Lunar Chronicles, but I have read Red Rising and while fans of such science-fiction stories will probably enjoy this, I wouldn’t try to compare the two. I feel like I wanted just a bit more from Empress of a Thousand Skies. The premise was interesting and I would have enjoyed the setting more if I had more information about the world.

There was some world-building but I really wanted more. There are several different planets and races, and I’m sure there’s a rich history and culture and more, but I feel like we were only given the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

Oh, also, I guess I should mention that the summary is a bit misleading (at least to me). It made me think that Rhee and Aly were going to meet up and interact and work together. They don’t. The only connection the two have is that Aly has been blamed for Rhee’s assassination.

I will say that I enjoyed that some of the characters were presented one way and it was later revealed that it wasn’t true. We are given the perspectives of Rhee and Aly throughout the story, so naturally the narrative is a little biased based on their own thoughts and beliefs, which is cool.

This was still an enjoyable, though a tiny bit predictable, read. With everything that was happening and was revealed towards the end, I’m left to believe that the next book will probably be a great deal better, as things have become a bit more interesting and complex. So, I’m glad I read this, and I did like it, so I am absolutely going to be reading the next one.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Hey all, Dani here.

Wow, can you believe we are almost at the end of February already? This year seems to be going by so quickly. On one hand, that means I’m closer to BEA and BookCon. On the other hand, why does life seem to be flying by faster with each passing year?

Anyway, today I am reviewing a book that actually surprised me. Initially I didn’t even have this book on my radar but the movie trailer intrigued me so I caved and picked up a copy…and I was not at all disappointed. Also, the movie comes out next week, so I don’t have to wait long to see it, because if the trailers are any indication this should be a pretty good adaptation. I’m pretty excited about it.

Enough of that. Let’s just jump into it.

beforeifall

Summary

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

My Thoughts

First, yes, I got the movie tie-in edition, because I liked the cover better than the original. This edition also came with some movie behind the scenes bonuses in the back, which was pretty cool.

As I started this book, I thought that Sam’s voice was very conversational and easy to follow, which made this nearly 500 page book seem shorter. Sam is pretty and popular…and if I’m being honest she’s a bit of a mean girl at times. Seriously, she sometimes annoyed me with how she spoke to or about others, especially when she thought back to her own past when she wasn’t popular and had been taunted by others.

I persisted through the story, and I was glad to see that with each repeated day, Sam developed into a character I really cared about. Whenever she did something different and it changed how the day progressed, she saw that her actions can also have ripple effects through the lives of others.

Days five, six, and seven were my favorite, even though day seven was an emotional ringer.

On day five, Sam skips school and just spends the day with her little sister, and it was such a cute day. I really wish that Izzy could remember that day happening. Then on day six, I feel like Sam really started to get her life on track, especially in the boyfriend area. It was just pretty great.

Finally, I’m not going to spoil anything, but day seven was about as perfect a day as a person could hope for in the end. Sam has completely changed and I absolutely loved that. She was nice and good. She helped out others and she made the day count for something, mean something. In the end she took everything she had seen, experienced, and learned in the past repeat days and did whatever she could to be a positive force.

In the end I found myself torn between a 4.5 star and 5 star rating, so I ended up giving this book 5 stars. It was definitely a story to make you think about how you treat people and making each day count. I am so glad I read this.

Where to Buy

You can pick up Before I Fall at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Middle Grade March TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so yes I do realize that we still have just over a week left in February and that means that posting about my plans for reading in March might seem like it’s a bit early. But, the fact is that I am making March sort of a themed month and I want to give people the opportunity to join me if they want.

Basically for the month of March, aside from a couple ARCs I have to read, I plan on focusing on reading books that are classified as middle grade reads. I’ve been accumulating more and more of these books over the past months and they haven’t made it to my TBRs yet, and I want to change that.

I really enjoy middle grade books. Yes some of them still have inklings for romance, but they mostly focus on friendships and families. They are cute and clever and typically just fun. Middle grade books are also pretty fast reads for me so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to read quite a few books in March.

All right, so I guess now I’ll just jump into the books I’m hoping to get around to in the next month.

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House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

This book seems like a fun little adventure, and the front cover blurb was written by J.K. Rowling, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this.

Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carol Barrowman

I have been wanting to read this trilogy for a while. I’m a huge fan of John Barrowman’s acting, and I wonder how well that entertainment translates to a book.

The Balance Keepers: The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings

I picked up this book based on the recommendation of Sasha Alsberg (@abookutopia on social media). Okay, yes, this may be a bias on Sasha’s end since Lindsay is her co-author, but the concept of the story sounds interesting, so I’m willing to give it a shot.

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Last year (I think), I read The Demon King, which is the first book of this series, and I really enjoyed it…but for some reason I didn’t pick up the sequel. I can’t wait to find out what happens to these characters in this world next.

The Search for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi

Here’s another book I picked up thanks to a recommendation on BookTube, this time by Regan (@PeruseProject). I like the idea for this book because it is a bit more of a science fiction middle grade story, and I trust Regan’s recommendations. Our reading tastes are fairly similar.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

This book sounds fun and a tiny bit spooky, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it from several different bookish friends on social media.

A School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

I greatly enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, and had actually planned to pick up this one a few months ago, but then I heard a few mediocre reviews about it and so I put it off while I read some other books I really wanted to. Now I’d like to actually just push aside the reviews of others and formulate one of my own.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Regan talks about Brandon Mull quite a bit on her YouTube channel, and I was able to pick up this book at a nice discount through Book Outlet, so I’m hoping it will be a fun fantastical adventure.

The Missing: Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Years ago I was a huge fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix; I even have a couple autographed copies from her Shadow Children series. I heard about this series by her and purchased the first book but haven’t read it yet.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

I have been hearing about this book since a few months before its release last year. It sounds fun and whimsical and I look forward to finally reading it.

Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

The cover for this book is so lovely to look at, and I liked the concept for the story as well. I tried to get an early copy through NetGalley but was rejected, and so I bought my own copy. Somehow though I got distracted and this book has just been sitting on my shelves. It’s time to pick it up.

All right. Well, there you have it, all the books I’m planning on reading in March. It’s a pretty big list so I’ll have to keep to a reading schedule to finish them all. I think I can make it through all of them though.

And if you decide to join me for Middle Grade March, let me know. I’d love to follow your progress on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever you talk about your reading.

Review: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Hey all, Dani here,

Well, it’s that time of year again…you know February, Valentine’s Day, and its focus on romance. I’m certainly not immune to wanting to be swept away in a swoon worthy story of a couple that ends in happily ever after, which is why my February TBR had quite a few romances in it.

Today I’m here to talk about this sweet historical romance I finished a few days ago.

blackmoore

Summary

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.

My Thoughts

Overall rating: 4 stars

Okay, so this was a cute historical romance story, and I really enjoyed reading it. I will say that if you have read Regency era romances before (or any romances really) then it will probably be a bit predictable in most aspects, but it is still worth a read.

You know how there are those books out there where you basically already know the plot but it’s still fun to get lost in them for a couple of hours to escape the reality of your own life? Yeah, I’d say that Blackmoore fits that category.

I mean, I knew from the beginning that Kate and Henry were in love and meant to be together. But I also loved that this wasn’t one of those insta-love stories, because Kate and Henry have known each other for most of their lives.

Add in Kate swearing never to marry, Henry’s obligations to his family name and ancestral home of Blackmoore, and the scandalous actions of Kate’s mother and her sister Eleanor, and this is a delightful tale that will just make you smile due to the adorable little moments.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Review: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Hey all, Dani here,

I was approved for an e-galley of this book by NetGalley just a few days before its release, so my schedule didn’t quite work out to finish it all before release day, but I am pleased to say that I can review it now. As always, my thoughts, opinions, and rating were not affected due to receiving the galley.

Okay, so basically I’ve been trying to focus on diverse reads as much as I possibly can, while still continuing with all of my lovely fantasy and sci-fi reads, so when a novel pops up with a transgender superhero, I kinda have to read it. Dreadnought was an interesting read, and I’m glad to have read it.

dreadnought

Summary

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

My Thoughts

The first thing I want to say is that it took me a little bit to get invested in this story. Not because it wasn’t interesting or good, but because Danny has a habit of info dumping in the beginning. There were times when she would go on and on about the history of a superhero or a significant event, and it pulled me out of the story a bit.

But that settled down as the action really picked up. And like many superheroes, Danny has to deal with more than just saving the world and defeating the bad guys; she has her own issues in her civilian life. See, Danny was born a boy but has always seen herself as a girl. So when Dreadnought dies in front of her and she inherits the mantle of Dreadnought, the transfer of power actually changes her into her physical ideal. And that really brings out the negative personality traits of people like her dad and her best friend.

Thankfully Danny is able to form a friendship with Calamity, who is another cape…though Calamity is what is known as a gray cape, so she sometimes will lie, cheat, or steal to get her way. But I like the friendship between the two girls.

This book is brilliant at highlighting the different ways that people think about and treat people they see as other. From Danny’s dad and best friend, to some of the white capes in the Legion, Danny has to deal with a lot of prejudices and preconceived notions on who she should be, and who should be behind the cowl of Dreadnought.

Oh, and to top it all off, Danny is only fifteen years old. This is a beautiful coming of age story of acceptance and coming into one’s own, and just happens to have superheroes and supervillains thrown in.

And when the pieces of the puzzle started coming together and the big reveals and big boss battles happened at the end, all I could do was fly through the remaining pages because I was that invested in the story.

Okay, so this isn’t really a spoiler, but might actually be a little spoiler, but Danny has a press conference at the end of the book where she comes out as Dreadnought, a transgender woman, and also a lesbian. It kinda reminded me of the press conference Tony Stark had at the end of the first Iron Man movie. I liked that it was a moment of complete acceptance of her place in the world now. It really made me excited for the next book in the series, which will be coming in July 2017.

Overall, I gave Dreadnought a 4 star rating.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-a-million, or your local indie bookstore.

Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I am here with a review of a book that I absolutely devoured. It actually came in both my January Lit-Cube box and my January Novel Tea Club box, so I’m guessing it’s going to be a hit with the book crowd.

Of course, I’m talking about Heartstone, which is basically a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in a land where creatures such as dragons, wyverns, and hobgoblins exist. And I’m just going to go ahead and admit this here and now…I loved this book so much and will probably be gushing about how wonderful it was, and also recommending that everyone pick up a copy as soon as possible.

Okay, so let’s get this started.

heartstone

Summary

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

My Thoughts

First of all, can we just talk about that cover? Seriously, it is a wonderfully lovely cover and I actually enjoy just staring at it.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’ll also admit to being a bit of a fan of Jane Austen’s works. I’ve read them numerous times, and I usually get excited when I hear that something (book/TV series/web series/movie) is an adaptation of an Austen novel, or even better is simply inspired by them. Of course, I’m also a little leery too because some just miss the mark.

I am so pleased to say that this one did not disappoint me at all. From the first person perspective of Aliza Bentaine, to the initial meeting of Alastair Daired (who kicked a poor little hobgoblin), and continuing on through the beloved tale we all know, this was just a delightful experience.

Obviously with the dangers of this world’s creatures, there are some deviations from the original tale, but they all work beautifully. It is not at all a spoiler to mention here that Aliza’s sister Katarina has been killed by gryphons even before the story begins (seriously, this fact is mentioned in the summary), so we aren’t juggling as many sisters, which is nice, but all the other characters are present. Oh, and I’ll also say that I enjoyed Leyda’s story too–ever since watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and reading the accompanying books, I admit to being more invested in Lydia’s part in the plot.

I have to say this here: I loved the character of Charis Brysney. In most adaptations of Pride and Prejudice I am not that much of a fan of Caroline Bingley, but here she was a character I truly cared for and respected. I can’t say much more than that because I really try to avoid revealing something that might be spoilery.

So basically, this tale is a great blend of a narrative we are familiar with and original elements that create a truly magical story. I will definitely be reading this book over and over again. I smiled, I worried about the characters, and I wondered what would happen next. I especially wondered how the main plot elements would be handled in this new setting, and I was nothing less than impressed.

Elle Katharine White’s writing was entrancing, and I feel that Heartstone is a beautiful and fabulous adaptation. Basically, I can say that this was a rather strong debut novel, and I am eagerly looking forward to what the future holds for this new writer.

Obviously, my rating is 5 stars, but I wish I could give it more. Honestly, if you are at all a fan of Jane Austen and fantasy, please pick up a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed.

Where to Buy

Pick up a copy yourself from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-a-million, or your local indie bookstore.

January Wrap Up and February TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

Wow, here we are on the first day of February. Fun fact: today is my half birthday. And what better way to celebrate than to talk about books? I can’t think of anything better.

All right, so I had a pretty decent month of reading to start off 2017. I read 10 books in the month of January. Okay, fine…so I didn’t quite read everything I wanted to. There’s a few books I’m still in the middle of, but I’m hoping to finish them up this week.

Anyway, let’s just jump into this. If I’ve written up a review of the book, I will link it in case you want to know more.

January Wrap Up

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Sleeping with Earth by Ben Ditmars — 5 stars

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova — 5 stars

Ruined by Amy Tintera — 5 stars

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill — 4 stars

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden — 4.5 stars

Scythe by Neal Shusterman — 5 stars

The Magicians by Lev Grossman — 4 stars

Infinity by Jus Accardo — 5 stars

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard — 5 stars

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth — 4 stars

I read some pretty good books in January and I was so glad to have read or re-read some of these lovelies. I still need to buy a copy of The Alchemists of Loom, because honestly it is worth getting right now in hardcover.

Oh, and I guess I should say that I am still reading Windwitch by Susan Dennard and The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. I’m enjoying both of them but I feel like I need to take my time and absorb them properly.

January Book Haul

You guys…I bought so many books this month. I really was going to try and rein it in but I couldn’t resist a couple of the good deals on Book Outlet. At least using Book Outlet I was able to buy a lot of books without spending an outrageous amount of money. Seriously, I recommend the store if you want wonderfully discounted books. They have both bargain books and scratch and dent; bargain are in like new condition and scratch and dent have some markings, dents, or dings, but are otherwise perfectly readable.

I used to list off each individual title I purchased each month, but my lists got a bit ridiculous, so now I just give you a photo and move on.

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Do you see any books you love (aside from Harry Potter, because I bought another edition of them because they were pretty; I’ve obviously read HP a few different times)? Are there any you think I should bump to the top of my TBR?

Hey, speaking of TBRs, I guess I should probably announce my tentative list of books to read in the month of February. There are actually two that I can’t include in my photo, because they haven’t been released yet. Those are: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard and Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza, both will be out on February 7th.

Here’s the rest of my February TBR:

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As you can see, February is basically a romance month. Heartstone is a Pride and Prejudice inspired tale with dragons so that sounds awesome. Blackmoore is a historical romance, RoseBlood is a Phantom of the Opera retelling, The Bronze Horseman is also a historical romance that is apparently full of delightful drama and is super addictive, and obviously Dragonfly in Amber is the sequel to Outlander and it’s about time I read this so I can watch season two of the show. (Yeah, I’m trying not to spoil myself so I read the book first and then watch).

All right, so I think that is all for now. I’m hoping February is going to be just as great as January was.

The Road So Far

Hey all, Dani here.

Yes, I am well aware that the title for this post is a Supernatural reference. It was kind of intentional since my post today is going to be a reflection of the past year on this blog…and because I am a fan of the show Supernatural anyway.

I started this Mousai Books blog last January, just after my paternal grandmother died. She was exactly one month away from her 90th birthday so she had lived a long and full life, but I can also say that her death was the first major one to happen in my life. I lost great grandparents and great aunts and great uncles who I didn’t really know so they didn’t pack as much of an emotional punch to me. But I had spent a lot of time with Granny, and the last five years of her life she actually lived with my family so I was around her a lot.

I had thought about starting up a new blog for a while, since my one on Blogger never really had many views or followers. So I guess it was because I just really needed something to do while I was on my three bereavement days away from work.

A lot has happened in the past year, both in a narrow personal focus and on the national and global scales–and I’m not going to get into it here because political trolls are everywhere. Through it all I have been blessed to be able to continue and buy new books and start to really build a presence and find a place in the online book community.

Books have always been a refuge for me, a way to escape whatever is going on in life. They have helped me process life, love, loss, and so many other feelings and events. And they have led me to form some great friendships with authors, which is really cool.

There is this quote from The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger that says: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” In today’s modern world, a lot of us at least can reach out to authors via social media and sometimes find that they will answer back. But I actually have a few authors whose phone numbers I do know, and though I haven’t called them, I know that I have that opportunity. And yes, I do still squee when an author likes my tweet or retweets a link to a review of their book from this blog; it seriously makes my day a little bit better.

Starting and developing this blog, I’ve also found that I’m gaining more acceptance for e-galleys and ARCs, and I’m hopeful to develop this aspect even more in 2017 and beyond. I’m really trying to keep up with my NetGalley reads and reviews, and this year I’ll be attending Book Expo America, which means I’ll be picking up a few Advance Reader Copies in a physical format.

But when I first started this blog, I admit that I worried that it would be like my last blog, that I would be writing in this little black hole on the internet with no interaction from anyone. Thankfully though you lovely bookish people started liking my posts and following my blog. It makes my day when I check my notifications and see that I have another like or follow. My goal for 2017 is to start getting more comment interaction on my posts. So part of that means having more of a presence in the comment section on other book blogs too.

I can also say that 2016 was not a good writing year for me. I’m really trying to get everything all wrapped up on my next book so I can get it published. It’s possible that I needed a break, and it’s also possible that starting the year off with a big death in the family got to me way more than I thought. After all, I do write books about Death and the Angel of Death so…

Writing takes time. Reading takes time. Blogging takes time. Then you throw in the need to post on social media and build your presence there. Oh, and don’t forget going to work at a soul crushing job that actually does pay the bills. That typically takes at least 45 hours out of my time each week. I spend a lot of time at work day dreaming, sometimes about books I’m reading or TV shows I’m watching, and other times about my own writing. I use my break and lunch times to squeeze in more reading. I would totally listen to audiobooks if my commute wasn’t only 5 minutes. I don’t listen to audiobooks at home because an audiobook chapter might take 26 minutes but I can physically read that same chapter in like 4 minutes.

Oh, also in 2016 I found myself expanding my reading horizons a bit. Thanks to the recommendations of several BookTubers (PeruseProject, abookutopia, JesseTheReader, polandbananasBOOKs, katytastic, readbyzoe, and emmmabooks) I picked up some more middle grade books and historical fiction and cutesy contemporary YA reads. I found new to me authors who I intend to follow as they release new material.

I weeded out my library a bit, but then still needed to buy another bookcase because of all my book purchases–and I think I’m about ready to buy another bookcase now. Speaking of, I reorganized my bookshelves over my Christmas shutdown from work, so as soon as I clean up some of the clutter around my room I owe you all a bookshelf tour.

In 2016 I attended my first convention as an author. While I only sold a couple copies of my book, it was still an interesting experience. I spent time each morning before the convention floor opened walking around and chatting with other authors and artists. It was a great networking opportunity.

My books finally became available in an actual store at the end of 2016. There is a local store in the mall that has used books, comic books, board games, D&D and Magic: The Gathering, and myself and a couple other local authors are prominently featured when you walk in the store. The store owners have been absolutely wonderful about helping me to spread the word about my books. (I can admit that I am sometimes awful when it comes to self-promotion).

Basically last year was an absolute roller coaster of events. I’m not sure what all is going to happen in 2017, but I have a personal library filled with books and I’m finding my place in the amazing online book community. As long as I have that I think everything will turn out okay.

How about you guys-what has your blog journey been like so far? Let me know in the comments!

Bookish Events! BEA!! BookCon!

Hey all, Dani here.

I guess the first thing I want to say is wow…this blog has been running for just over a year and I’ve written over 100 posts. I’m actually pretty pleased with that. I had a book blog back in college and grad school and it just never yielded very many views or comments. I think there were about 7 people subscribed to the blog. This one though, I feel is doing pretty well so far, and it can only grow. Right? Right!

So thank you to everyone who has followed me so far, liked my posts, and commented. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Today I just want to talk about some upcoming bookish events that I’m going to be participating in. Some are ones I’ve done in the past and others are brand new to me this year. So…let’s just jump right in, shall we?

First up is something I kinda made up, but it should be pretty fun, and that is Middle Grade March. I was looking at my bookshelves the other day and realized that I’ve purchased quite a few middle grade books and just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. So in March I plan to read and review as many of them as I can. Obviously if I have any e-galley or ARC books for review, I’ll still post those too, but my main focus will be some lovely MG reads. If this sounds like fun to you, feel free to join in, and let me know so I can follow your blog/vlog/etc.

Next up is National Library Week, which is being held April 9-15, and obviously celebrates libraries and librarians. I’m hoping to have a post or two up about how much libraries and librarians have shaped my life in that time.

To go along with that I’ll once again be participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on April 29, and I have decided that I am going to read a bunch of books about magical libraries, librarians, and bookstores. I’ll have a post about the event and my TBR about a week or so before, and then a day or so after I’ll post a Readathon wrap up post.

Oh, and in April I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, but with so many other events going on at the same time, I imagine that I’ll be setting my word count goal around 25,000 or so.

Another readathon I hope to participate in is National Readathon Day, which is hosted by the American Library Association and Penguin Random House. I’ll post more details about this as I learn them because the web site for this event still has the 2016 details up.

After that is my big brand new bookish event experience, and that is Book Expo America and BookCon!! You can probably tell that I am super excited about it. BEA will be held May 31-June 2, and BookCon is June 3-4, and this year both events are back at the Javits Center in NYC. I have seen so many awesome blogs and vlogs about these events and they just look like so much fun and a great opportunity to meet up with authors, publishers, and readers/bloggers/vloggers. I have already purchased my passes for both events and booked my hotel room, so all I have to do is worry about transportation. I cannot wait to spend a week in NYC hanging out with other people who are passionate about books. So if you’re heading to BEA and/or BookCon, let me know! I would love to meet you in the real world.

Of course, here is where I should also mention that June is GLBT Book Month. I like to try and read diversely whenever I can, and this is a month where I highlight that diversity on my social media accounts. So I’ll be sharing books with characters who are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, asexual, etc. If you have any suggestions for books I should look into for GLBT Book Month, let me know in the comments.

Camp NaNoWriMo is held again in July and I’m hoping to do a good month of writing this time around.

As usual, August takes me to Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. Held this year from August 24-27, I’ll be roaming the convention floors, attending panels, and buying bookish and nerdy merchandise. It’s always a fun time.

In September I’m going to try to do Self-Publish September again. I started to in 2016 but then sorta got distracted. This is a month where I highlight self-published and indie authors who I think should get more attention and recognition.

September 22-24, you can find me at Cincinnati Comic Expo where Mousai Books will be set up at the Colorworld Books booth. It’ll be a great time and you can pick up some amazing books and artwork.

Banned Books Week is Sept 24-30, and I’ll likely talk about my experiences with banned books, and share some of my favorites.

Then Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon will come around again in October. I really enjoy this event because I read so many books and it’s just great to connect with others who are also participating.

Obviously in November I participate in NaNoWriMo. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to pre-schedule some book reviews and other posts to get through the month. If not, you’ll know why I suddenly fall off the social media radar.

Whew! It’s going to be a very eventful bookish year for me, and I am so looking forward to it. There’s lots of writing, lots of reading, and lots of talking books with all you amazing bookish nerds out there.

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Hey all, Dani here,

Today I’m excited to talk about a book that has already made it onto my favorite books read in 2017 list because it was just so darn interesting. It is still a fairly new release, having come out at the end of November, but I cannot recommend this book enough. It was such an intriguing premise and was pulled off so creatively. Let’s just jump into the review.

scythe

Summary

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I started hearing buzz about this book a couple months before its release and it sounded like something I would enjoy. Obviously the whole concept of Scythes is one I like since I have written a similar theme with my Project Death series, though I have Reapers instead of Scythes. The concept is basically the same though.

This was my first book by Neal Shusterman, and I can honestly say that I am a fan now, and plan to go back and read more of his books sometime soon-ish. I really connected with a lot of the characters, and there were a few that I despised, so the characters are well done.

Scythe is a multi perspective novel mostly following Citra and Rowan, though there are journal entries by several Scythes throughout, and a few sections following other Scythes without an apprentice being around.

The futher I got into this book the more I wanted to ignore the rest of the world and finish reading it. There were so many little twists and turns and revelations throughout the novel, and I was so excited to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

So, the book follows Citra and Rowan, who have both been apprenticed to the same Scythe, Scythe Faraday, and he’s a pretty cool, compassionate, and rational guy. But there really is no precedence for a Scythe choosing two apprentices at the same time, so at one of the conclave meetings it is proposed that one apprentice will receive the ring elevating them to Scythe, and instead of the other one being free to return to their former life, the new Scythe will have to immediately take their life. This complicates them, especially when it seems clear that perhaps Citra and Rowan might be developing romantic feelings towards each other.

I won’t say more about the plot or anything because so much more happens after Citra and Rowan are pitted against each other, and it was just a fun quick read.

And the way it ended…man, it was the perfect ending for making me really desperate for the second book, which I’ve learned will be titled Thunderhead and will be out in November 2017.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.