Book Review – Unbound by Holly Huntress – 5 stars

Warning: May contain minor spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was super excited to read this and that feeling carried on through the book. 

Milah is given a mission by the king to infiltrate a neighbouring kingdom to learn about their weaknesses. But Milah has her own mission to find her parents’ killer. Once there, she learns not all is as it seems. 

What I liked…

Not particularly important, but I loved how the title and cover made sense from the beginning. 

I also love the time jump from Milah losing her parents to when she goes on her mission. It gives her time for the shock to wear off and lean to live with the grief but still have it meaningful in the present because of the way they died. 

I loved not knowing who to trust. Don’t worry, not spoilers on specifics, but the whole book had me wondering who was genuine and who had an agenda and who was out to get Milah for their own reasons. 

Romance was fun to read. Definitely YA romance, but on the upper end.

I love the word building with the book, the magical creatures and the magical powers. 

What I didn’t like…

I thought Milah was too forgiving to a couple of people she should have been angry at. Sure, she can forgive them eventually, but it was a little too quick for my liking. 

Final thoughts…

If you like fantasy espionage, revenge, romance, found family, and badass female MCs, then you should try this book.

Advertisement

Writing Ranting – NaNoWriMo – The Viper’s Library

I’m please to announce my NaNoWriMo project for November 2022. I actually started this for last November’s NaNoWriMo, but it grew into a trilogy, and I was polishing up another novel for publication

This month, I hope to get the final 30k done based on my estimated word count. Either way, I will finish this draft.

I have a playlist on YouTube and cosplay (see featured image) for my main character on my TikTok and Instagram stories. I’ll also be posting regular updates.

Zelenka, a new breed of vampiric viper, has been in hiding for 200 years. When a group of hunters chase vipers who know Zelenka into her quant town, word gets back to her sisters and sire. Now Zele has a choice: run, fight, or play her sister’s twisted games.

Dante and his companions, Killian and Nolan, are skilled viper hunters who are more than happy to make a deal with Zelenka to help protect her lands in exchange for the secrets of her kind.

But the deal becomes more than Dante and Zelenka bargained for when they’re forced to play along with Zelenka’s sisters’ games.

3 Tips – For NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, and I thought I’d share some tips for a successful month. 

Also, I’ll be including videos on more of my posts.

  1. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the 50k goal if that’s too daunting for you. You can edit your goal or create a new goal for the same project. Also, your outline and summary counts if you’re working on that too. It all goes towards that final book.
  2. Keep your inspiration flowing with some good wiring playlists, whether it’s your favourite artists, or some emotional, instrumental music. My YouTube and Spotify has some playlists if you want to check them out.
  3. Writing sprints are a great way to help keep you focussed, so be sure to find some sprints either via the site or through other writing groups.

I’ll be announcing my project tomorrow.

Book Review – Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton – 4.5 stars

Warning: May contain minor spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is very dark, with a dash of mystery, psychological thriller, and some spooky goings on. I enjoyed this book far more that I expected to since it’s not my usual genre, but I read a lot of dark fantasy so it wasn’t too much of a leap.

Trigger Warning: This book has a lot of triggering content in relation to non-consensual acts, graphic sex and graphic violence and child abuse. It was probably darker than I was prepared for.

What I liked…

Adeline isn’t some weak-minded MC who needs a man, but she’s also realistic that she wants one.

Zade is… a psychopath. Like, hardcore psycho. But that’s what makes him interesting from a literary perspective. His reasoning for what he does to Addie, effed up as it is, makes a twisted sort of sense.

Both MCs have particularly interesting inner conflict over their actions compared to what is appropriate or “normal” behaviour. I’m conflicted myself over how much I liked this book.

I listened to this on audible, and when we were in Addie’s POV, any male voices were done by the male narrator and vice versa. 

I love the snippets from Gigi’s diary and how history is repeating itself with Addie, but in a much darker and twisted way.

Random thoughts…

It did baffle me how Addie’s friend reacted to what was going on with Addie and Zade. If I found out some guy had done things like that to my friend, I’d be dragging her to as far away as possible. 

The police sucked too. I get that they can’t do everything, especially when someone’s tampering with their system, but they were just so… unbothered on Addie’s behalf.

What I didn’t like…

I can’t really complain about this since it’s a huge warning, but… some moments in this were too much and I found myself skipping. The number of times I had to remind myself it was just fiction…

Final thoughts…

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone. If you’re into dark and twisted minds playing fucked up games with each other, with a dash of spooky and history repeating itself, then I might recommend it to you if you can handle this.

Book Review – The Awakening, as Told By the Boys by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 5 stars, obviously

Warning: May contain minor spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We all know the Heirs are jerks to the twins in book 1 of Zodiac Academy, but why? Why did they go so far? We get our answers from Darius and Orion, with sprinklings of Seth, Caleb, and Max.

What I liked…

I already loved this book and series, but going back and seeing the Heirs’ reasoning makes me love them even more. 

What I didn’t like…

There wasn’t much of Max. I moaned about his random POVs in the later books, but I expected more in this one. 

Final thoughts…

I don’t recommend reading this unless you’re on at least book 4 or 5 of ZA. It doesn’t exactly spoil things, but there are some fun moments that make more sense. 

Writing Ranting – Supporting Writers Between Writing

As writers, we can be a complex bunch, and we write for many reasons. One of my main reasons is some form of therapy to process my emotions or dreams. This form of expression through art isn’t new, and writing can get a lot of emotions out in a way that makes it meaningful to me as a mental health sufferer. 

I don’t often talk about it on here or my bookish social media because I want to keep things light. But sometimes, I need to just point things out.

Recently, I offered to be a beta reader for a couple of writers I knew through TikTok. They were both super nice, but one manuscript, I couldn’t finish because of life changes, and the other I took longer than I planned. When I explained this and apologised, they were both so understanding. 

They both said I could reach out whenever if I was struggling or just wanted to talk. Sometimes people say that to be nice, but I got the sense they meant it. Either way, it was nice to hear since I have been going through a rough time since spring. 

My mum is going through cancer treatment, and though we had some very good news that the treatment is working, it’s still hard for her with the side effects and being very limited in what she can do. Last week was particularly stressful because I have a foster kitten, Nix, who is in a very bad way and has been in and out of the vet’s for over two weeks now. Then my dad had his COVID vaccination and had the usual reaction so was limited in what he could do. 

When it rains it pours. 

All this is temporary, but with my mind not being able to cope with too much going on, I just stalled for a whole week. It was Mum, kitten, work. That was all I could manage. 

Reading Ranting – Don’t Have Time to Read?

Disclaimer: The product recommendations mentioned below are based on my personal experience. Also, I have no affiliation with them.

Do you have time to read? Me neither. I also find it super hard to focus on written words after a long or busy day, especially on Kindle because I only have my phone for digital books. My mind races at a million miles per hour, and I struggle to pay attention to just one thing. Ironically, I’m a slow reader, too, so it’s extra difficult for me to sit down with a book no matter how good the story is. 

However, audiobooks have changed my reading habits, and I now read/listen to a book in about a week as opposed to a month. I listen during my drive to work, when I’m washing up, when I go for a walk, or sometimes in the shower. And I definitely find it helpful to wind down at the end of the day and listen in bed. 

But audiobooks are expensive, right?

Yes. They can be, but an Amazon Audible subscription is about the same price as a book, and you get 1 credit for any book, plus a selection of books included like Kindle Unlimited. I’ve read some really good books on their subscription. If you want to buy and keep more books, they’re a lot cheaper as a member, so it really doesn’t cost that much. 

Alexa will read Kindle books aloud and is quite natural. I sometimes switch from UK to US or Australian English, so each book sounds different. I needed a better speaker to connect to my phone because my Wi-Fi doesn’t reach my kitchen where I like to listen to music or my ebooks. When I saw how cheap the basic Alexa Echo was, I bought that instead, and it connects to my Wi-Fi just outside my kitchen. I just tell it to read my book, and it does. It’s also fun for music, information, and connecting to my smart plugs, so it has infinite uses beyond a speaker.

I also get a few ebooks as ARCs or beta copies and I use Google Books for those. Google uses its own voice to read those aloud or I can use FB reader’s premium version with Google voices. Personally, I prefer FB reader because it shows the play and pause options in my phone’s notification section, so it’s easier to control. 

Thanks to these fun apps and devices, my reading has become so much easier and more enjoyable.

Also, not long after I bought my Alexa, my internet service provider gave me a media assistant and a shiny new Samsung A6 tablet. Thank you, Movistar. Now I have a bigger device to read ebooks and the assistant acts like another speaker that I put in my bathroom, which is the opposite end of my flat to my Echo and I can connect the two. So many connections to make life easier 😍😍😍

My new media assistant and my new tablet.

Book Review – The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe – 4 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Firstly, TikTok made me buy it and I’m glad. 

Secondly, this has adult content, including graphic sex scenes and violence.

Thirdly, this is a fun but way-too-short story. 

Winnie has spent her whole life being dragged around by her mentally unstable mother to escape a family curse. Every time a Darling girl turns 18, Pan takes them away, and they return traumatized and unable to remember much, hence her mother’s instability.

When Pan comes for Winnie, she’s lonely, unsatisfied with life, and wants to find out what broke her mother’s mind. The answers lie in Neverland where Winnie meets the lost boys and finds herself the key to saving Pan’s dying lands.

What I liked…

I really love how Winnie’s character, background, and personal needs are established very early on, so we understand why she reacts the way she does ongoing.

I don’t know how I end up reading polyamorous books, but I really like them as long as the characters have fun too. This one is particularly fun since Winnie has been unsatisfied previously. 

I loved the plot and why Pan keeps taking the Darling women. 

I loved the POVs. We don’t just get Winnie and Pan. We get some lost boys too. And a sneak peak into another character. 

What I didn’t like…

This is where it loses a star – Character relationships were too rushed for my liking. I prefer to see a gradual progression to make the relationships feel more natural and more meaningful. 

Final thoughts…

If you like shorter novels with extreme spice, polyamory, exciting reveals, and magical lands, then this is for you. It’s also a great story of found family and belonging. 

Writing Ranting – Magic Makes a Story

Magic systems are more than just world building in fantasy fiction. As a writer, you make the rules and can use your magic system as part of the plot.

Here are things to consider for your magic system when planning your story…

  • Create a challenge for your characters like newly discovered magic, opening a magical room, translating a magic book.
  • Represent something emotional for your MC. Maybe trauma locked away their powers. Maybe an estranged parent has answers.
  • Establish a social hierarchy. More power could mean more respected or feared. Certain abilities might be good or bad in society.
  • Tools to complete a bigger task. Maybe a specific power will achieve the final goal. Maybe a certain combination of abilities is the only way to solve a problem.
  • Secret magic. Perhaps magic is banned, so any magic users have to hide it. Someone could dabble in dark magic and they have to keep it a secret.
  • A race. There could be something special that multiple people are trying to find.
  • Base your magic system on something real. Manipulating natural energy or elements can make it easy to set limits and exceptions.
  • Magical conduits like devices, runes, spells, etc. can have specific magical effects on things or people around them. 

There are probably more, but these are some of the main things that I have in various WIPS. 

My favourite is connecting emotion to magic. I have a character who fears her magic because her mother couldn’t maintain control, and my MC is worried she’ll end up the same. Another WIP has merging magic that is only possible with a strong emotional connection like family, friends and extra fun when it’s between lovers.

In one WIP, I imagine the magic as a way to combine magic, science, and religion in that one all powerful being (a sort of star) released a massive amount of energy that created the universe. This being then created worlds and more masses of energy that are like stars from a science perspective but are also similar to angels. Each ability has a scientific explanation or theory behind it, such as creating wormholes like portals, breaking down and reforming physical matter for shifting, bending light, etc. Sure, much of it is pushing it in relation to exact science, but it helps me as the writer decide what is and isn’t possible. 

One WIP has stones that hold the power of the elements, and only specific people can use them through special devices. The stones are also used for everyday things like light, heat, showers, helping plants grow, and powering airships.

Book Review – Dark Fae – Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 1 – By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 4.5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I loved this book and the characters. It’s set in a mirror world to our own, but Fae live there in place of humans. They have the power of the elements plus a magical creature form. Dragons, vampires, basilisks, and harpies are just a few of the amazingly fun creatures along with lion shifters and werewolves. The list goes on…

Elise starts off with a mission to find her brother’s killer and fakes her way into Aurora Academy. Her grief and need for vengeance drive her on her solo mission until she realises she might just need a friend or two to get her through it all. Or she’ll end up on the wrong side of a gang fight. 

What I liked…

Elise – I love female characters who don’t take shit from people around them. At the same time, she needs friends after losing her brother, and is open to it with the right people.

Dante – Love the name. Love dragon shifters. Live storm dragons. So he was an instant 😍 for me. Also, a fun balance of friendly and “not to be messed with”

Leon the lion 🤣 – He’s very much the tame one compared to the other guys, but he’s also what Elise needs to lighten her mood. We get to see hints of his beast so he’s not always the oversized purring kitty cat. 

Ryder – Interesting character with a seriously underappreciated creature for his shifter form. His past trauma that explains his current behaviour though he lets others believe differently. He has feelings that he can’t bear others seeing. And he has awesome hypnosis powers.

What I didn’t like…

Gabriel – Honestly, I don’t feel much of anything for him. Sure, he’s one of the good ones… mostly, but he’s not particularly interesting as a character considering his role in this story. He’s also kinda annoying with Elise even though we kinda get his reasoning. Not cool to play hot and cold then blame her for it.

Final thoughts…

Definitely a good read if you like questionable characters, badass magical powers, countless mythological creatures, and murder mysteries. Also, if you’ve read Zodiac Academy then you’ll love this. It’s less chaotic in all the crazy things that happen, but still exciting to read. And if you haven’t read ZA, then I suggest you do after this. Some characters overlap, which is always fun with series set in the same world.