Writing Wednesday #2

Hey guys! Dance party!

I might just start every Writing Wednesday with a dance party, because… dancing is fun! It’s even more fun with your friends. Just look at those guys! They are having fun. So, let’s have fun with them.

A dance party also makes sense because I want to talk about background music. Or background noise in general. I’m a type of writer who likes to write in total silence or with Investigation Discovery on (I’m a true crime buff, it worries Will). It helps me think as I’m writing. I want zero distractions for the most part.

There are some writers who like the background noise of a cafe or park. My best friend, for example, likes to write in a coffeehouse. It’s kind of funny since on a regular day she prefers the silence whereas I like the bustling noises.

Anyways, that isn’t to say that I don’t use music to inspire me. Sometimes, I pause my writing and just jam to music that coincides with my writing. Other times, I make a soundtrack for the current project and listen to that before I get in the writing mood or while I’m driving, where most of my ideas pop out.

The short story I had just finished was inspired by Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”. I had that puppy on repeat so many times, just trying to envision the characters. I had no clue what I was going to write, but I knew that the emotion behind that song was the emotion I wanted in the story.

So, yeah, music is a great writing tool. Everyday noise can be a great writing tool too. It all depends on the writer though.

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Writing Wednesday #1

Hello, hello! Welcome to my first Writing Wednesday!!! Time for a little jig.

Okay, this kind of post will be filled with my quirks, my thoughts, and my updates (unlike my reviews, which tend to be kind of informative vs. fun). So, this kind of post is for you to see how fun I can be. Or weird. Or both!

There may also be times where I’ll chat and gush about writers I know or love (because I can and I want to). Essentially, Writing Wednesday is all about writing or the writing process or what goes on my head during writing or writers or… yeah, you get the picture.

Now, I want to start off this Writing Wednesday about myself. Why did I go into writing? What is up with this blog? The works.

Well, I have always wanted to be a writer. It’s true, ask my mom. I wanted to write from the ripe old age of 4 where I wrote my own version of The Three Little Pigs for a preschool play. From that point, I was hooked on words.

I went through school with the intention that one day I would be in bookshelves (this was before the ebook… GASP, I know). I would do little school writing contests and only got honorable mention. I would try some online stuff and got scammed once (which sucks, but you live and learn). I eventually decided that I would go for a teaching degree in college.

Only to burst into tears while talking to mom.

Teaching is great and I love the idea of helping people out, but my life is in ink. I mean, I BLEED ink. I couldn’t keep going without at least trying. So, my major changed (which wasn’t that hard. It just went from generalized English to English with a writing concentration).

From that point, I learned a lot of things. My biggest one is that I’m more into the entertaining and subvertly getting into your head versus being some kind of “serious” writer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m serious about my writing, but I realize I won’t be taught in college courses. I don’t want to be a course in college. I want to just have a piece of my soul and give it.

Think about it. A writer is basically the same as Jesus breaking bread and saying “this is my body.” Only, a writer hands you a manuscript and says, “this is my soul.” Not saying I’m Jesus, but you never see Jesus in the same room as me….

Food for thought.

Anways, I would have to say this blog and meeting Will is what really made my writing go crazy. During the time I was with Will (that sounds wrong, I’m married to the man! I only mean when we were first living together in sin and not married), I was also going through my first NaNoWriMo. I learned so much that November and I haven’t stopped learning.

I started this blog about a year after that and it did start out as a disaster. I mean, here I am writing about my life and being a whiny bitch. Not cool, Cas, not cool.

So, I decided to branch into reviewing what I read. That’s really when the floodgates opened. It was a full on flood, baby!

I had found my corner of the world (pun intended). I’ve had authors email me requesting for reviews, I’ve started joining street teams, I’m beginning to know the ins and outs of the indie writing world. As well as learning about the publishing process as a whole.

And I’m not done yet… no, I’ve gained more great friends who love my work (not saying my other friends didn’t! I swear, you guys have kept me going to this point and I’m so thankful). I mean peeps I haven’t met face to face yet! This is huge in my book.

So, where am I in my writing? Well, I have one short story in an online small press literary journal. I also have another short story in an Indie press anthology which will be out (hopefully) this month. I have many first drafts of novellas. One first draft full length novel. And I’m writing another first draft right now. On top of another story for another anthology (fingers crossed).

So, yeah… I’m feeling good at where this is going. This year is going to be the year of writing. I know, I said that the first of January too, but it’s true. Essentially, I’m really excited to see where this goes and I’m genuinely happy about it.

Until next Wednesday… no idea what it will be, but hopefully it’ll be a fun post!

Book #4: Tales from the Underground by Various Authors

Under our feet lie countless realms of possibility. Join twelve writers as they explore those realms – discovering lands of fantasy, lands from our far future, lands of mystery. 

There are places full of wonders, full of terrors, full of visions of what could be. 

Join us, down here, in the dark.

 

 

I received a copy of this book from one of the authors for an honest review. I wasn’t compensated in any way. What follows is my opinion and mine alone.

I have read quite a few anthologies from Inklings Press. Each one had their own feel to them and worked with their own theme. The theme for this anthology is the Underground. Think caves, creatures living in caves, and anything. The choice is all the authors in what happens.

There are quite a few stories that hooked me fast and there were some that left me slightly confused. But, I feel as a whole, there is a lot going for the anthology that definitely appeals to many different reading palettes.

The first story left me wondering what really was going on in haunted caves. Others pulled me into well advanced worlds. Each story had an aspect that connects with the underground. The writing is well done and do put you in a space all its own.

I felt the anthology itself was a well made cohesive anthology. Was it my favorite from Inklings Press? Nope, but it wasn’t bad. Would I recommend? I do. There is enough of something for everyone.

Book #3: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Foolish Hearts is the first club read of the new year and I was determined to read it. I haven’t felt like I was doing much in club standards and I’m happy I was able to do this book. That said, I was hesitant about this book. I have been pretty lucky where contemporary is concerned, but contemporary isn’t my go to genre.

I shouldn’t have been hesitant! Emma Mills is funny, witty, and truly pulled at me. I genuinely liked Foolish Hearts. And right now, it’s a love kind of like because I’m writing after finishing the book. For one, I finished most of the book in one day. That’s big for me.

Claudia is a smartass creature with few friends and a rather stagnant life. She is my type of introvert. Very similar to me, in fact. Then there is Iris. Who is also very much a smartass. More introverted than Claudia and is a pretty prickly lady.

I loved both of them. I did. I found both young ladies to have similar personalities, but not to the point that they were the same. If anything, they were each other’s foil.

Now, there isn’t much to say about the book. It’s a pretty basic premise and I don’t want to say anything because it would spoil. But there are lines I LOVED from this book. From the very beginning to the end, I was pulled in by the language and off the wall humor placed in the book.

For instance, one character had made an inappropriate joke calling a Pediatric Rehabilitation Center as “a place where toddlers with benders go”. I busted out laughing. Why? Because I would have said this. I would have. No joke.

There are also quotes that pull at the heartstrings. They are placed in spots that don’t seem to be as thought provoking, but they are.

Example: “If you only like one version of your favorite, then they’re not your favorite.” – Iris Huang.

That line in itself needs to be on a shirt or a sticker or a magnet. I love that line.

Anyway, I genuinely loved this book. It’s a 4 star for me on Goodreads. I want to read more from Mills now. This is definitely a book that gives the nice fluffy feelings that I was apparently starving for.

Book Tour: Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher for an honest review for the blog tour that this review is a part of. There was no compensation of any kind (unless you count having an awesome book by Amanda Hocking as compensation). What follows is my opinion and my opinion alone.

Okay, let me begin by saying I didn’t read the blurb before I grabbed the book. Amanda Hocking is one of my instant buy authors. I see a book by her and I grab it. I knew this book had Norse mythology in it, but that was pretty much all I knew (well and a gorgeous cover).

When I first started reading three thoughts came into my head: 1. Cyberpunk, Bladerunner esque. 2. LGBT+ M.C. THANK YOU!! 3. This may be Hocking’s best work yet.

I’m serious about #3. This is quite possibly her best work thus far. It is gritty, dark, and just when you think you might have an idea what’s going on, you get slapped in the face with something new. I could feel the pollution, see the city, the world, all of it. This is her best work thus far.

And believe me, I’m a huge Hocking fan. I’m possibly a few books short of owning everything she’s written so far.

This is a YA book that borders on the adult. There is sex and alcohol and a whole lot of killing. I mean, returning. Our main lead is a young woman named Malin. She is a Valkyrie in training, who are executioners for immortals. She is strong and yet has this piece of innocence to her. It’s more like a ‘I was raised in a hard way and don’t understand how my feelings work’ kind of innocence to her. I actually really like this kind of character and it didn’t take me long to be pulled into her world.

As if the twists, action, and the world wasn’t enough to keep you wanting more, I also love the fact that the sequel is coming out THIS APRIL! HUZZAH! I don’t have to wait long to get this duology finished. Thank, God. Thank you, Amanda Hocking. You can be sure that I have this book on its way to my house and I’m definitely getting the second.

Buy Links:

Amazon /Barnes & Noble /Books-a-Million /IndieBound /Powells

AUTHOR BIO:

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Links:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/

Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking

Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans

Author Blog

Book #1 of 2018: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

I am not a fan of Fae. I’m not. Elves, fae, whatever… the point is, they annoy me. Maybe it’s because of the D&D campaigns I’ve been in with Elvish characters being pompous assholes. Maybe it’s LOTR and their pompous asshole fae. Maybe it’s the fact that these creatures are, in lore, supposed to be creatures that humans fear (not love). Whatever the case may be, I don’t like fae.

So, why did I read this book? Peer Pressure. Or, really, friends urged me to read this book after the first one (which I had  difficult time with). Am I glad they did? Meh, to an extent. Would I continue the series? Probably not. Maybe. I don’t know.

What I did like about this book is how the depression and anxiety is dealt. Feyre is a woman who has gone through some serious shit and the mental and emotional backfire of that is seen in this book. It’s done well. It’s believable. It’s heartbreaking, but also uplifting.

Uplifting because despite all of her pain, she continues to march on. Does the pain ever end? No, but it changes her and changes according to what she needs in life. This is a real representation of the day to day struggle with mental health. I have days where I’m doing great, days when I’m not. There are days of struggle and days of peace. And sometimes it’s anger or a stronger emotion that keeps me going.

It’s the same for Feyre and for that, Maas, I applaud you. You didn’t sugar coat Feyre and you definitely made me like a character that I didn’t quite care for in the first book. All because of the real issues she deals with emotionally in this book. Thank you.

Now, the rest of the book was so/so for me. There are a new group of characters: broken, flawed, and amazing. I love the Court of Dreams peeps. I do. They are a good and hard bunch. They are the type of friends I would want on my side at the battlefield. You won’t find a single pansy in the bunch.

But, where the characters are good, the story leaves me wanting. The romance is apparent and though there is more action and non-romance in this book, I didn’t quite feel the story. Maybe it’s because I wanted more of the other characters. The supporting cast seemed to interact with the main, but we don’t see their own interaction as much. That might have changed in the third book, I don’t know.

Whatever the case, I was left with a meh feeling to the overall story. Characters are good, the world is vibrant, I was just meh.

Probably was the fae.

So, yes, I have read the book and now my friends can stop pestering me. No, I’m not a fan of the series. Sure, I’d read Maas again (I actually have another of her books planned out to read). Do I see the value of the series? Definitely. I can see what people are saying about the series and what they love about it.

Again, Maas is a good writer. The style is great and the characters are awesome. I’m just not a resident of Prythian.

Happy New Year!

So, this new year is going to be a bit exciting. I was waiting to announce this, but I think I’ll go ahead since we’re close to finishing. I’m in an anthology! Yep! One of my stories is in an anthology. It’ll be published sometime early this year. So, keep an eye out on the blog about me gushing even more about it.

I’m also submitting another story into another anthology. Fingers crossed on that one.

And, I’m currently writing a first draft to a standalone YA thriller. We’ll see how that goes, but I feel it’s going to be amazing. Just a feeling. I’m also going to be rewriting a book and possibly getting more stories out there.

In short, 2018 is going to be the year of writing.

As for my reading, you’ll be seeing less reviews out here. I have a long list of ARCs I basically compiled last year and haven’t finished. I feel terrible about it. So, instead of so many blog tours, I’m leaving myself one and the rest of the ARCs are from that long list.

I’m hoping to have an update on my writing on Wednesdays (if anyone is interested in that stuff). Those updates will just be me talking about what I’m doing and the progress of projects. So, at the least, there will be one blog post a week. I won’t do that this week since this is basically that update, but next week Writing Wednesday begins.

I’m lessening my book goal and I’m planning on taking pictures on my Instagram of the books I’ve finished in the year. So, yep, this year is going to be different, but hopefully better.

Thank you everyone who has stuck with this blog, who has just joined us, and those who will join in. You guys are amazing. I don’t tell you guys that enough.

Thank you.

Book #127: Paper Princess by Erin Watt


From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. 

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees. 

I read this book on recommendation from a friend. I told her I wanted a “trainwreck”. I wanted drama. I wanted emotional turmoil. I wanted something to sink into and drown in the misery of the characters.

She did not disappoint me.

Paper Princess has it all. From the first chapter, you are hit with “oh my god”. I almost put down the book because of the first three chapters, but decided to keep going because I did say I wanted a trainwreck. This is definitely not a book for the younger teen crowd. I say seventeen or older it will be okay, but there is sex, parties, and everything you can think of that makes your jaw drop.

At first, I wasn’t sure about Ella as a character. She is argumentative, has serious balls, but also puts herself in situations she should not be in. Like, stripping. Yes, stripping. That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about that makes you go “oh my god.” And it only goes on from there.

But, anyways, Ella grew on me. I actually like her a lot. She seriously has balls. You don’t want to mess with her or her own. It’s just not a good idea.

As for the Royals . . . let’s just say they are a royally dysfunctional family. They have a lot of issues, do a lot of stuff that is morally not there, and they are just plain mean. It takes a while for someone to like any of them, but I did start to like them. Reed took the longest. And I’m still not sure how I feel about him.

I wish I could say that the trainwreck ends at the book’s end, but it doesn’t. Nope, there is more to this wreck and the first book wasn’t enough for me. The second one is definitely going to be read, but I’m going to pace this out. I’m going to try and finish other books first and use the Royal series as my “I need a serious crack read”.

Definitely addictive and I can’t say for sure if this is a good thing, but I’m loving it!

Book #126: Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Book II in the Thriller Award-nominated Huntress/FBI series

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.

The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.

But when his search for her unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman Roarke seeks – and wants – may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath.

It is highly recommended that you read Book 1 of the series, Huntress Moon, first.

I received this book from the author for an honest review. And, can I just fangirl for a second? AIIEEEEEE!!! She signed it! She signed it for me too! I can’t believe it! AIEEEEEE!

Okay… I’m done. Yes, this book was mailed to me for an honest review. No exchange of funds or anything for this review. This is my opinion and my opinion only. Those people who don’t believe me, may Cara Lindstrom visit you in your sleep.

And that’s a pretty mean thing to say. Cara, also known as the Huntress by the FBI or the only survivor in a slew of family massacres by the serial killer, The Ripper, is a serial killer herself. It’s not much of a spoiler because she’s in book 1, Huntress Moon.

If you haven’t read Huntress Moon, but you’ve picked up this one, turn around and fix that. You need to read the first. 1. So that you understand the growing tension between Roarke and his FBI team and the growing tension between Cara and Roarke. 2. So that you an get a real feel in Sokoloff’s writing style for this series. Cara’s chapters are in a different tense than Roarke’s and it can get confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking at. 3. Beacause Huntress Moon is the first book and the first book must always be read first. That is the law.

Blood Moon has the same tense change as Huntress Moon, but since I was waiting for it, I wasn’t put off by it. It also has the same characters centered on the chapters: Cara and Roarke. Which possibly makes the main crime that much more disturbing. Because, we don’t get to see The Ripper’s motivations or thoughts.

I found Blood Moon to be a very fast read in comparison to Huntress Moon. A part of that could be because I know the writing style and the characters, but I also feel the mystery itself moved fast. The larger focus on the book is to catch Cara, but in the process, they find that The Ripper is back. This revisit to Cara’s past helps bring Cara’s character back to life.

In all, Blood Moon is better than the first book and sets me up for something even more amazing in the third book. I’m super excited to jump into the next book. Which I also have from the author.

 

 

Blog Tour: Murder on the Lake of Fire by Mikel J. Wilson

Murder on the Lake of Fire
Mikel J. Wilson
(Mourning Dove Mysteries, #1)
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: December 1st 2017
Genres: LGBTQ+, Mystery, Romance

At twenty-three and with a notorious case under his belt, Emory Rome has already garnered fame as a talented special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His career is leapfrogging over his colleagues, but the jumping stops when he’s assigned a case he fought to avoid – to investigate an eerie murder in the Smoky Mountain hometown he had abandoned. This mysterious case of a dead teen ice-skater once destined for the pros is just the beginning. In a small town bursting with envious friends and foes, Rome’s own secrets lie just below the surface. The rush to find the murderer before he strikes again pits Rome against artful private investigator, Jeff Woodard. The PI is handsome and smart, seducing Rome and forcing him to confront childhood demons, but Woodard has secrets of his own. He might just be the killer Rome is seeking.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

MY REVIEW

I received an ecopy of this book for an honest review via Xpresso Book Tours for the Blog Tour. I was not compensated in any way. All that follows is my opinion and my opinion alone.

I want to begin this review with the LGBT+ aspect of the book. This is a big thing for me. Now, I’m not in the community as a member, but definitely a supporter. I love a good LGBT+ fiction. Representation needs to be made and I’m loving that there are more and more great books that I am being exposed to. That said, I feel this was a perfect representation.

It isn’t an important factor to most of the book, but it is an important factor to the main characters, Emory Rome and Jeff Woodard. Doing it this way only reiterates the normalcy of being LGBT+ or, to be honest, being a person. It is this aspect of the book that turns and brings about the opening for a sequel.

Now that that’s out of the way, the book is a mystery first and foremost. It sets up the Private Investigation offices of Mourning Dove and the by the book TBI agent, Emory Rome. The mystery hits you right away with a murder that is off the wall crazy. It shocks you into pushing through the book.

I’m serious, the method of the main murder is nuts. I had no idea that this would be possible. I would go into detail, but to do that would just give away a big thing. Well, not really. It’s just such an epic scene that it’s amazing. Seriously, it’s epic.

That said, I love the characters. Jeff is a loosey goosey kind of guy. He feels that the law can be bent in order to solve the mystery. Because, it is the mystery that matters the most. As for Emory, he is strictly by the book. He’s the stickler.

Put these two together and the chemistry is beautiful. I am completely in love with these two and I ship them. Note: there isn’t a strict romance and no “I love yous” exchanged.

Not yet . . .

Am I going to open the second case when it’s out? Damn straight I will be. I’m probably going to be buying two copies of the book too (maybe more) and gift them. Just so I can share in the amazing.

 

Author Bio:

Mystery and science fiction author Mikel J. Wilson received widespread critical praise for his debut novel, Sedona: The Lost Vortex, a science fiction book based on the Northern Arizona town’s legends of energy vortexes and dimensional travel. Wilson now draws on his Southern roots for the Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee.

Murder on the Lake of Fire, the first novel in the Mourning Dove Mysteries series, will be available December 1, 2017.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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