My Second Book Release!

I am so happy to announce the release of my second young adult suspense novel and sequel to The Half Theft, Better Luck This Time. I’ve spent more than a little time stressing over whether it is the perfect book and whether I am ready to hand it over to the eyes of the world. I think I finally am.

I can’t ever say thank you enough times for any of you to understand how much your support means to me. To those of you who visit my blog posts, to those of you who read The Half Theft, to those of you who leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and say you can’t wait for the premiere of Better Luck This Time: thank you. I love you guys endlessly.

Please consider picking up a copy of Better Luck This Time (or The Half Theft, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the killer city of Collinswood for yourself.)

ICYMI

The Half Theft follows the journey of my main character, Charlie Riverson, as he sets out to find his missing best friend, Elle Vikander, and solve a crime committed under his nose, all while combating the city’s most infamous criminal family, the Ducartes (who may or may not hold some very valuable information regarding Elle). As Charlie digs his way deeper into the family’s schemes, he builds something of a team, determined to get to the bottom of things and recover the person he loves most in the world.

Better Luck This Time picks up the same night its predecessor leaves off and follows the team’s journey to protect Charlie and save the city from a threat greater than they ever could have imagined.

Who might be interested in these books?

Anyone with a love for:

  • Morally gray characters
  • Friends to lovers
  • Cats (not the musical, but rather appearances by an actual animal)
  • A story to keep you on your toes
  • Young adult and suspense genres (obviously, haha!)

Where can I buy your books?

I Wrote Another Book!

As any of you who have followed my blog for a bit know, it is only on a very rare occasion that I make a post exclusively about my own writing. My main goal with this blog is to write my thoughts on others’ books and find readers who share my interests (or who have totally different thoughts and recommendations of their own, as they’re even more fun to hear from sometimes). That being said, this is one of those rare occasions where I have something to say about my own work.

Last November, I published The Half Theft, my debut YA novel, featuring a missing best friend, an almost stolen clock, and mysterious family of criminals, who might not all be completely evil to their very cores—unless I’m lying and they are…

Today, I am beyond happy to announce that I am well on my way to completing its sequel, the final installation in the duology! As it stands, I have one more draft to go until my currently untitled work is ready for publishing, and I couldn’t be more excited.

When I released my debut, I, quite frankly, had almost no information on the publishing process, and I ended up not really talking about the book at all until it was out. While I’m still certainly no expert on indie publishing, I have a whole community of amazing, supportive people to share my work with this time around—which is, for lack of a better description, super cool, and makes me even more grateful to have this novel nearly complete.

Now, onto the juicy stuff… I’ve been dying to spill my guts on this so here goes:

What I liked most about the writing process for The Half Theft‘s sequel was the fact that I allowed myself to experiment with a wider range of character interactions as well as characters’ emotions and responses to their surroundings. In The Half Theft, I certainly played around with (and truly kind of messed with) the traditional ideas of “good” and “bad” people and actions, as well as the ugly truths that can lie beneath the surface. This time around, I’m going a step further and turning my attention toward everybody’s favorite:

Morally gray characters.

Okay, so maybe they’re not everybody’s favorite, but they’re certainly mine, and I can’t wait for you to see what I have in store for you this time around.

I’ve also structured this book a bit differently, in terms of POVs, which adds something of a whole new layer of mystery and emotion. While the first installation focused on Charlie, with a bit of Maeve, the sequel will focus mainly on she and Elle. And believe me, Elle Vikander’s thoughts are something to behold.

Since it’ll still be a little while before I publish, I don’t want to let you in on too much just yet. But I can say I’m even prouder of the way this story turned out than the last, and I’m way too attached to my own fictional characters. As in, I would do anything for Maeve Roman, even though she only exists within the confines of my own mind. Does anyone else do that, or just me? (Hopefully someone.)

All I can say is, buckle up and prepare thineself for the chaos ahead.

Finally Fall Book Tag

More like finally doing this book tag. I mean gosh, it’s already snowed at my house! I better hurry up and do this before I run out of time.

Thank you to Cherelle the Bibliophile for the tag! I love how welcoming the book blogging community is. You’re all so great!

I don’t really know who to tag, so if you have a blog and you haven’t done this yet, please consider yourself tagged!

Now onto the good stuff…

IN FALL, THE AIR IS CRISP AND CLEAR: NAME A BOOK WITH A VIVID SETTING.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this book forever ago for an English class—I believe it was middle school—and I absolutely adored it. The world in which it takes place is fascinating. The black-and-white versus color perspectives of the story are incredibly creative.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t somewhere I would want to live. But it was such a great read in an entirely intriguing setting.

NATURE IS BEAUTIFUL… BUT ALSO DYING: NAME A BOOK THAT IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, BUT ALSO DEALS WITH A HEAVY TOPIC LIKE LOSS OR GRIEF.

Night by Elie Wiesel

I’m not much for sad stories, but I do remember reading Night back in middle school. It literally broke my heart. I still think about it. Often.

Despite how much I don’t like reading depressing books, this one was undoubtedly worth it. The holocaust is a topic about which I firmly believe we need to continue to educate ourselves.

FALL IS BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON: SHARE A NON-FICTION BOOK THAT TAUGHT YOU SOMETHING NEW.

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro

Ironic how I’m using this book under a category that deals with school… But I learned so much from it! Far beyond modern political stances, Shapiro spoke deeply about the ways in which religion and Western philosophy shaped the world as we know it. And it was deep, as in textbook-level deep, but I loved it. I learned so much about the ways in which different forces in the world work together.

IN ORDER TO KEEP WARM, IT’S GOOD TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE: NAME A FICTIONAL FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD/FRIEND-GROUP THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BE PART OF.

The Half Theft by Brooke Nelson (aka me, duh)

I promise I’m not about to lapse into self-promo, so hear me out. I wrote this book in such a way that I did what I had never seen another author do: create a friend group that I actually loved.

Charlie is just perfect and such a dork. And Maeve, the love of my life who makes me feel better about how clumsy I am. And…well, I won’t spoil anyone else for you.

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR SOME STORYTELLING BY THE FIRESIDE: SHARE A BOOK WHEREIN SOMEONE IS TELLING A STORY.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts at least a couple times, I adore these books. And the narration is one of the best parts!

They are so unique in the sense that they are told from the perspective of Lemony Snicket, a man who is documenting the Baudelaire children’s case in hopes of helping them reach safety.

THE NIGHTS ARE GETTING DARKER: SHARE A DARK, CREEPY READ.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Scary books are a big no for me! I’m not built for that.

That being said, The Woman in the Window is a thriller that I found super creepy and fun. For anyone who isn’t a fan of actual scary books, but loves a good mystery, I would highly recommend this. It was nicely paced and a fairly easy read.

The writing is simply superb.

THE DAYS ARE GETTING COLDER: NAME A SHORT, HEARTWARMING READ THAT COULD WARM UP SOMEBODY’S COLD AND RAINY DAY.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This is one of the very few times I am actually going to say you need to read this! Especially if you’re a Christian, since the series is an extended metaphor for the Bible.

The stories are so heartwarming and beautiful. I really cannot believe it took me until 2020 to read this series. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for ages!

FALL RETURNS EVERY YEAR: NAME AN OLD FAVOURITE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO RETURN TO SOON.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Shoutout to my mom who, back when I was in middle school and I ordered this book from the library, kept returning it without my knowledge because she thought the plot sounded morbid. See, parents? That’s what you do if you don’t like a book. You don’t ban it. You repeatedly return it on your kids.

Fast forward to now, she’s just as big a fan as me!

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR COZY READING NIGHTS: SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE COZY READING “ACCESSORIES”!

My cats! Do they count? I would say my dog, but all he does it lick the pages, which is hardly helpful. My cats, on the other hand, are content to fall asleep on my lap or, on their more difficult days, fight on top of the pages.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What are your thoughts?

The 7 1/2 Reasons I Wish I Hadn’t Read Evelyn Hardcastle

Okay, so there aren’t actually 7 1/2. It’s just a joke.

Like, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? Get it? Anyway…

I need you to believe me when I tell you this: I do not like writing a negative book review, because I know how hard authors work. Really, it doesn’t make me feel good in any way, shape, or form.

But you know what makes me feel even worse? A perfectly good murder mystery that suddenly becomes a story about forgiving a terrorist just because she kisses you on the cheek and holds your hand out of fear and keeping herself safe.

Seriously. I’m not even joking one bit.

A terrorist. Gets a redemption arc. With the help of one of her dead victims’ siblings.

This is one of those instances where the ending is so terrible, it’s hard to put the rest of the story into a reasonable perspective.

The thing is, when I started the book, it was so exciting, and unique, and creepy as heck. I absolutely loved everything about it. The characters were interesting, each one vastly different from the others. I adored the main character, but that flew out the window by the end.

I wish I could say that I look back on the rest of the book with such fondness that I don’t mind the crappy ending, to put it lightly.

But Evelyn Hardcastle isn’t a case of an author not knowing quite where to go with the story, so they accidentally bore me to death. Nor is it slightly disappointing for its rushed nature, like some books I’ve read *cough* Dune *cough*. If either of those were the problem, I would forgive it. I gave the latter 4 1/2 stars, didn’t I?

Instead, the book suddenly lapses into a disturbing few chapters in which the aforementioned sibling finds out their sister was murdered by the terrorist, is wildly upset to the point of tears (as one should be), then immediately trying to ensure the safety of the terrorist because they are a changed person.

You know what I have to say to that? Bullshit.

How dare they betray their family, or any one of the terrorist’s numerous victims, like that? It was really gross to read that reaction from the sibling, whom I had liked throughout the other 375 or so pages.

Then, there’s the end (which I’m only going to partially spoil by telling you what makes me so mad, not the actual mystery or anything).

Ugh, the end.

Such an ugly end.

Truly, an ugly ass end.

The terrorist and the sibling both get a happy ending to their story. And all I have to say is:

I beg your pardon?

And also:

I hope they both live miserable lives.

So, there’s my review of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, bitterness and all.

If you do choose to read it, good luck to you.

If you don’t, I completely understand your choice. If I could erase it from my mind, I would.

Again, let me reiterate that I hate giving out crappy reviews. I get such an icky feeling inside, but I promised this review so it had to be done.

I wish you all a good day full of everything this book is not.

Saviors, Slayers, and Strong Women

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! In case you haven’t come upon one of these posts in the past, they are just a fun way to look at our current reading experiences.

The three Ws are:

  • What is the last book I read?
  • What book am I currently reading?
  • What do I think I will read next?

What is the last book I read?

The last book I read was Dune: Messiah by Frank Herbert. I have such mixed feelings about this book, especially after reading its predecessor, Dune. I will say I did enjoy this book, just maybe not as much as the first.

It was good, and now that I’m done, I am definitely happy that I read it. It was just so depressing to read though. The fact that Paul is able to read into the future added such a layer of sadness to this story. Not to be dramatic but honestly, I just kind of sat around wanting to cry a lot of the time while I was reading Messiah.

But, on the other hand, the writing! What a fantastic author Frank Herbert is. He has a truly one-of-a-kind method of drawing the reader into the fantastic world that is his imagination.

What book am I currently reading?

What an absolutely strange and wonderful book! Since the start, I have been just a little confused about what is happening. But not the type of confusion that makes me want to give up and quit reading. More like the type of confusion that makes me want to read even more.

I find the main character, along with the rest of the cast, thoroughly enjoyable so far. That isn’t usually the case for me, so I am quite pleasantly surprised. Evelyn gives me the same kind of vibes as Lucy Gray from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

My favorite aspect of this book is its uniqueness. I truly have never read something like it, yet I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that is so different. This is definitely a book that I will be writing a review on. I already have so much to say, and I’ve hardly begun!

What do I think I will read next?

My birthday was last week and among the lovely gifts I was given was Candace Owens’ new book! Like almost every other bookworm, I have a TBR list longer than I am tall, so I have quite a few other books I had planned on reading before starting this.

However, I’m super excited to begin Blackout as soon as possible. Candace is one of the few political commentators I have followed on social media for years, and I find pretty much everything she has to say fascinating. She’s such a strong, intelligent woman!

So, I have to apologize to the rest of my to-be-reads, because Candace just shoved them all aside. I can’t wait to get started and see what I think of this!

What book(s) are you currently reading?

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“I press the Talk button. “Yes?” I call. Less inviting than Hello, more gracious than Who the hell?”

That’s Anna Fox for you. One of the most lovable main characters I’ve ever met in a thriller/mystery novel.

Her tone is undeniably funny and thoroughly enjoyable despite her unfortunate circumstances. Having agoraphobia, Anna is confined to her home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, which sounds like it might make for a boring, stagnant story. Yet somehow, it isn’t at all.

Her personality makes up a lot of the intrigue. I continually wanted to hear more about her experiences and her thoughts. There is so much more to Anna than being the means to solve the mystery. She feels genuine, as though she’s a person I could actually meet in real life.

Through her camera lens, through her window, Anna is able to take a peek into her neighbors’ lives, the ups and downs, the big events—and the inexplicably terrible ones.

To be fair, I will say that the beginning of the book—the first hundred pages or so—doesn’t contain a whole lot of action. It drags at some points, but not for too long to make me lose interest. I genuinely liked hearing about Anna’s agoraphobia—a very real condition for so many people—and how it affects her life, how she developed it, and how she copes.

This also puts her in a unique position storytelling-wise, to be able to pay a vastly greater amount of attention to her surroundings—her neighbors and her neighborhood—than the average person. By not leaving her house for work, or to meet friends, or really anything else, we get to learn more about her neighbors than simply the fact that they exist, as happens in so many books.

Not to sound too book-nerdy, but I should also mention that I adore the setup of this book.

Nothing motivates me to read quite like a nice, short chapter, and this novel is chock-full of them. Each day is separated and labeled, and within each day are a number of few-page chapters.

Besides the motivation factor, short chapters allow me to quit reading almost whenever I want and pick up in a sensible location, without finding myself completely lost and having to reread. I probably added on a whole star just because of this.

Along with this concept, I love that the writing is easily understandable. It’s written thoughtfully yet simply, not utilizing unnecessary words for the heck of it.

Now, onto the mystery itself—in a sense, it’s kind of a double mystery.

Disclaimer: I did have a two “reveals” figured out early on, but I don’t know whether it was by chance, or if I’ve just read too many of these stories. Regardless, I still liked finding out that I was right. (It always makes me feel like a genius when I get these things on the first try!)

Now back to the mystery—or mysteries. Single, double, whatever you prefer to call it, it was fantastic.

The best part? It makes total sense.

I completely believe it.

Often times, the plots of mystery novels work out just a little too…perfect. Everything has to line up just right for every premeditated plan to work. But The Woman in the Window is different. It just flows together, so smoothly, so flawlessly. It’s almost spooky how I can picture the events happening in real life.

And no, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep the night after I finished the story.

And I checked the locks on my doors a couple more times than usual.

And my closet.

And under my bed.

And I was a little scared to walk into the dark kitchen.

But it was worth it.

Beyond my personal feelings about what scenes I would shorten up or lengthen, I really only had one issue with the story: the unnecessary sex scene.

Just why? Why, as a society, do we feel a mystery novel is incomplete without a strangely shoehorned intimate moment between characters? It was just awkward to read and, as it turns out, entirely unneeded.

All in all, I’m absolutely a fan of The Woman in the Window and A.J. Finn’s writing style. He gives such a unique voice to Anna that I won’t soon forget.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries, thrillers, relatively simple writing, and nice, short chapters. It was an entirely enjoyable read that kept me wanting more all the way to the end.

Five Characters You Need In Your Life

At some point, you’ve likely read about a fictional character that captivated your heart. Perhaps they were so kind and gentle that you couldn’t help but fall in love, or maybe it was the way you saw yourself in them and their struggles. Whatever your reason, that character meant something to you. They hit a chord that their predecessors hadn’t, and you’ll never forget them. That is the very essence of this post. These are my characters, my game changers.

Lou Clark (Me Before You by Jojo Moyes)

She stole my heart approximately four years ago, and she still won’t give it back! There is something so moving, so incredibly lovable about a woman who is unafraid to be her own bright, kind, feminine self. From her flamboyant clothing to her constant gentle demeanor, even in the toughest of circumstances, Lou is nothing if not inspirational—and I don’t use that term lightly.

In a world of conformity, Lou is entirely her own woman, bending to no one’s will. She is anything but ordinary—yet she never feels the need to point out her uniqueness to anyone, she just is—and she remains a constant reminder that I don’t need to be anyone or anything but myself. And me is enough.

Coriolanus Snow (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins)

Now, we shall head to the opposite side of the Gentle and Kind Spectrum. So, what draws me to Coryo? The moral ambiguity, for sure. Right off the bat, he’s got this fantastic bit of shadiness going on. Throughout the entire story, I could never place him as solely “good” or “bad,” which is a practice that should be employed a little more in real life, if you ask me.

Honestly, every few pages, I would think “oh, what a sweetheart” and then a couple later, “I trusted you—how could you?” That alone made for one of the most interesting reading experiences I’ve ever encountered. Despite finishing this book about a month ago, I still question whether I actually love him, or if my feelings are so confused that I merely think I love him to avoid further confusion.

Hercule Poirot (Hercule Poirot Series by Agatha Christie)

Step aside, Sherlock Holmes, there’s a new detective in town. (I’m kidding! I love them both.) Maybe I just have a certain bias toward peculiar men who solve mysteries, but Poirot has the same sort of effect on me as Holmes—with his intelligence, semi-cockiness, and all-around likability. He’s basically a more personable Holmes.

Despite the similarities though, I must note he does not at all feel like a carbon copy when I read the books. There is no one—I repeat, no one—I would trust more with my case than this man.

Violet Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)

Violet Baudelaire is a revolution in the female character construct. Essentially acting as the caregiver for her younger brother and sister, she endures hardship after hardship, but keeps her head up, knowing she must continue fighting to protect herself and her family. This may be one of those cases where I see some of her in me as I, too, would create a sketchy DIY grappling hook to retrieve my sister from a tower.

Speaking of which, one of Violet’s main talents is her ability to invent almost anything she sets her mind to. That’s right. She’s caring, and intelligent, and kind, and inventive. I know the series is written in an ironic, satirical light, but Violet is truly a character to remember. She gets my seal of approval!

Gurney Halleck (Dune by Frank Herbert)

When beginning a book, I usually have preconceived notions of what a character will be like. And, excluding the few outliers, I’m usually spot-on. Then, every once in a while, a character jumps so far out of my expectations that I don’t quite know how to react.

For example, when I started Dune, I found out Halleck was the main character’s weapons teacher. So, of course, I formed a general “tough guy” picture in my mind, no doubt enhanced by the choice of Josh Brolin to portray him in the upcoming film. (Quite frankly, I already liked the version I’d created in my head.) In one scene, he demonstrates how to use a knife in a fight—blah, blah, blah—and then suddenly, a scene or two later, he whips out a baliset and starts singing. If that sounds strange to you, I hear you. If that sounds strange and fantastic to you, we’re in the same boat.

Who would you add to your list of characters everyone needs in their life? Leave a comment and let me know.