Cover + Release Date: Better Luck This Time

Hello, fellow bookworms! Brooke here. I just changed the domain and name of my blog, so don’t be too confused. This is the new and improved older sister of my books and brooke blog.

While my blog focused originally on reviewing books, I now plan to share more about myself and my own writing in addition to the reviews. I will definitely still be writing reviews since, as I suspect you all know, I love reading and sharing my opinions.

Now onto personal book news…

I’ve written and set a release date for my new YA suspense novel and sequel to The Half TheftBetter Luck This Time. The story begins just minutes after the conclusion to the first book. There is nothing I love more than picking up right where we left off!

For those of you who read the first book, you might understand the title of The Half Theft sequel already, but I promise I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t given it a read yet.

I am in the process of reading through my (hopefully) final draft of the book, and I’ve set the release date to October 1st. What better day to release a book than my birthday?

The Blurb:

Separated after their lethal night inside the museum, the team flees from Collinswood to seek shelter and tend to their wounded. Surrounded by allies, running from their enemies, things appear clear enough on the surface, but nothing is quite as it seems. As years-old lies are uncovered and trustworthiness is questioned, friendships must be put to the test.

When Charlie and Elle find a clue to the next step in the Ducartes’ schemes, they also dig up a darker fate and the truth behind the criminal family’s actions—one whose aim is much larger and much deadlier than ever before.

The fight against the Ducartes, a fight in the family’s own arena, becomes a race against time, as their own goal finally becomes clear: revenge.

I am so, so excited to share with you the second and final half of my duology.

I’ve spent years putting excessive time and effort to make this not the perfect story, but my favorite story with my favorite characters, who I only hope you’ll fall in love with as much as I have.

If you’re interested in Better Luck This Time but haven’t read its predecessor, feel free to click here to check out the thrilling (says me, the author) first chapter in the fight for the city of Collinswood.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let me start by saying this is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, and I’m beginning to think I may like the Shadow and Bone trilogy even more than the Six of Crows duology, which is really saying something. I think I could probably go on for a week or so telling you everything this book did right, but I shan’t waste your time. Here is a condensed version of my absolute adoration for this series and, above all, this book in particular.

First of all, I’d like to thank Alina for actually being likable. It is so very rare for me to find a main character I like and feel like I can relate to. They usually feel like too far a stretch from being regular people, especially in the case of YA and fantasy. But with Alina, I instantly liked her. She’s rather ordinary, but not so much that she’s boring. And her thoughts and feelings are always understandable. As much as I like to be confused by a character, it’s sometimes nice to feel like I just get someone.

Then, there’s Mal, another (extremely ordinary but in his own strange way not at all ordinary) gem, and really another thing that makes these books so worth reading. As often as I see complaining about poor writing with female characters in a variety of series (and believe me, I often agree with the critiques), I think there is also so much room for improvement in the writing of men. The Kaz Brekkers of the world provide just the right amount of spice, but the Mal Oretsevs help to ground their stories in reality, which I adore.

I know I have a whole lot to say about the characters today, but can we quick hit on the topic of the Darkling? Because quite frankly, he scares the hell of me. Really, how could I ask for a better villain? While he’s generally horrid in the first book, I like that his utter lunacy and murderous nature are ramped up even further in Siege and Storm. I always like the villains best when they seem truly unstoppable, which is exactly what he appears to be at this point. I can’t even guess where Alina’s headed next to actually take him down. (I mean, I do have a guess, but I’m not going to spoil it because that wouldn’t be very nice.)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s Nikolai. Once I got a bit of the way into Siege and Storm, I suddenly couldn’t even remember what the books were like before he came along. What a boring story the first book must have been without him! (I’m only kidding. I love them both.)

I guess the moral of the story here is that Leigh Bardugo has unstoppable character-writing skills, and we all owe her an immense debt of gratitude for providing us with such an amazing series. I just started Ruin and Rising, so I’ll be sure to leave a review once I finish that one as well. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everybody who talked about these books so incessantly I couldn’t avoid hearing about them (mostly my sister because we’re in the same house). I owe you all big time.

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.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oh, The Ask and the Answer. How I love thee.

Words can hardly express how much I adore this series, most of all its second installment. I only regret not knowing these books existed before last year. Still, I can’t complain. Better late than never. I’m happy to say I’m finding that, even at twenty-one years old, young adult books are still so enjoyable for me. When I was younger, I never quite understood the appeal, but I totally get it now. It’s not really an explainable thing. They just have a different sort of vibe to them than the rest of literature, something that makes them enjoyable no matter your age.

After reading the first Chaos Walking book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, back in January, I wanted to read the next one instantly, but as any good reader should, I had an excessively long TBR list and thought I should wait a bit and go to some of my other choices first. Even after a few months’ wait though, this book made me feel like I could pick up right where I left off and not miss a beat, one quality I love most about it. Ness managed to include enough reminders of the events from its predecessor that I was never confused, while being sure not to retell the whole thing.

I must say that something about the way the returning characters were written in The Ask and the Answer made me love, hate, or even pity them far more than I did in the first book, even though that one was also spectacular as well. This book just evoked a whole new level of emotion in me, even for characters I previously didn’t have any strong feelings toward.

Another aspect of this book that made reading it ten times more enjoyable was the constant movement. Yes, I know that may sound funny, since TKONLG actually included nonstop physical movement, but this one is different. While it is physically, location-wise, more concentrated in one area, the action truly never stops. Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence pulled me in and made me want to know more.

This leads to the magic question: who would I recommend this book and this series to? And the answer is pretty simple. Almost anyone. If you like action, a character and story driven plot, and a main character who deserves that title, then Chaos Walking is the series for you. But of course, I’m going to say that, after reading one of the best books of all time.

What are you currently reading, and do you like it? Let me know in the comments.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The only sensible way to start this review is to acknowledge that Children of Dune was a wild ride from start to finish. It is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read in the recent past.

At the very base level, there was a huge change in how much I cared about these characters in this book compared to its predecessors. While I loved Dune and Dune Messiah–I would not have kept reading the series if I didn’t–I certainly read those books more for the plot than the individual characters. With this third installation, however, there is just as much to love about the characters as about the story.

Perhaps what I liked most was that there were more understandable human thoughts within their heads. Even with characters like Leto, Jessica, and Alia, who are far from ordinary humans, I felt I could understand their motivations and what molded them into the individuals they were.

Yet another aspect of this book I love even more than those that came before it is the understandability factor. This is purely personal opinion and comprehension, but I found this book a whole lot easier to keep track of. I’m not quite sure what it was–since it took place in just as many different locations, with different people, as the others–but there was something about the writing within Children of Dune that made everyone and everything exceedingly easy to keep track of.

Admittedly, there were a couple chapters within the first Dune installation that had me at a bit of a loss as to what I was supposed to get out of them–their point. I never felt that once during this book. Everything served a purpose, and I feel I have a fair understanding of what purpose it all served.

I also found myself greatly enjoying the excerpts that begin each chapter. I’ve always thought the setup of Frank Herbert’s books is incredibly creative and makes the Dune stories stand out from the rest. But I developed a new appreciation for them with this book–especially with the name change at the end, though I won’t go further into detail lest you be reading this to decide whether or not the book is for you. I can tell you though, it came as a bit of a surprise!

Have you ever read or found yourself interested in the Dune series? Will you be watching the film this year?

Crocs vs. Old Men in the Woods

Guess who has a new podcast episode up today?

This girl! And this girl’s sister!

This week, we read Chapters 1-6 of The Knife of Never Letting Go (the first installation in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness) and recorded our first ever book talk.

We discuss a wide variety of topics, ranging from the benefits of talking dogs, to Todd’s two dads (we think?)

You also get to listen to me entirely forget how to say the name “Ben” for a hot minute.

I hope you’ll check it out. Click here to choose your favorite way to listen!

Let me know in the comments below what you’re currently reading!

I Started a Podcast – We Talk Books

On December 31st, my sister and I recorded the very first episode of our podcast, We Talk Books.

As suggested by the title, it is essentially a two woman book club in which we read part of a book each week, then discuss which characters we like, who we don’t, what scenes we like and dislike, and where we think the story is headed. In sum, it’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s hottest books.

My sister, Laura, is a big fan of fantasy books, whereas I am more of a thriller fan. We will be covering the genres that each of us loves most, and everything in between. We already have a book set up to read for the next episode. (Watch the first episode to find out which one it is!)

We can’t wait to find more book enthusiasts to share our nerdiness with, so if you’re a fan of podcasts and books, please be sure to check it out. It is available on a variety of platforms, including Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, and Anchor.

In our first episode, “Blondes and Badass Women,” we talk about the premise of our podcast, what you can expect in our weekly shows, and some of the literary women we adore.

Give it a look and support your not-so-local book nerds.

Godly Lions and Blogging Platforms

Hello, my fellow book nerds! Welcome back to another life update nobody asked for.

I explained in my last post that I am considering switching platforms due to some of my issues with WordPress, the main one being the deletion of sites very suddenly and without warning.

As you can likely imagine, this is just a tad bit alarming to me, as I would hate to see my own site disappear into oblivion.

That being said, I don’t want to delete my own site just yet and lose all of you. I love our conversations. Your wonderful feedback on my writing and your amazing book recommendations fuel my love for books ever further. (So, I’m thinking I might try to keep this blog in come capacity.)

Today, I published my first post on an alternate platform I am trying out. It is about one of my favorite series, Narnia, and I would love for you to check it out here.

Feel free to leave some feedback over there. And if you would like to, click the “Subscribe” button at the top of that screen to get notifications for my new posts.

On the non-blog side of things, I am finishing up the last week and a half of my college semester and getting started on my second book in The Half Theft duology.

I hope you’re all having a nice Christmas and holiday season. And I hope you’re all doing well, mentally and physically. Please take care of yourselves!

Love you all.

Spirituality and Psychopaths

Good morning, noon, or night, my fellow book nerds. I hope you’re all having a superb day. I haven’t talked to you in a hot minute and I thought it was about time I give you a little update, bookish and otherwise.

First, I want to let you know I will still be writing on here, but I also have another platform where I post reviews and other thoughts of mine. I found a site called HubPages at the beginning of the month, and I’ve been having a lot of fun sharing my thoughts there.

I’ve written a few articles so far. One is a reworked review of Dune, in which I explain whether, in my opinion, the story is solid in itself, or if the buzz surrounding it is attributable only to the actors working on the new film. The other is a breakdown of the hilariously feminist superhero film Birds of Prey, where I put its over-the-top female-power tone into perspective. Obviously that one has nothing to do with books—it’s just me having a little bit of fun and providing quality recommendations to the ladies.

In case you didn’t catch it, that’s where the blog title comes into play: spirituality for the Muslim themes in Dune, and psychopaths for the always “fantabulous,” Harley Quinn.

Now onto The Half Theft.

I want to give you all a huge thank you for supporting my writing efforts and an even bigger thank you to those who purchased a copy of The Half Theft. Hearing that you love reading my story as much as I loved writing it fills my heart to the brim with appreciation for every one of you.

Now I definitely know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it isn’t how many books you sell that matters, but how meaningful it is to those who read it. The few reviews and kind words I’ve already received are so heartwarming. I can’t thank you enough. And if you’re in the process of reading it right now or recently finished, I would still love to see a review from you whenever you have a chance. You give me so much motivation to complete the sequel.

What am I up to now?

I am currently finishing my fall semester of school. Only a few weeks left! I am intermittently working on The Half Theft’s sequel. Once the semester ends, I will be able to really get moving on it. I’ve been spending plenty of time on Pinterest lately, saving inspiration for locations and people in book two.

As far as reading goes, I haven’t been doing it as much as I want to. Or maybe I am, but most of it involves textbooks, not my fiction of choice.

I recently received an advanced copy of Chris Hauty’s new thriller, Savage Road, which releases early next year. I’ve been reading that as much as possible, and I’m already in love with the plot and main character. She’s so badass. I will be sure to keep you updated as I progress through the story, and when I finish, to let you know if I suggest it.

Leave a comment and let me know what you’re currently reading.

Welcome to the World, The Half Theft!

I can’t believe it’s finally November 1st, the day my debut young adult suspense novel, The Half Theft, releases!

Needless to say, I am beyond excited to let my book, my baby, out into the world.

If you, like me, are a fan of young adult or suspense stories—or better yet, young adult suspense stories—you will definitely want to stay tuned!

In case you haven’t yet read the blurb, here is a sneak peek at what you’re getting yourself into:

Charlie Riverson led a mundane life in the nearly abandoned city of Collinswood. Always had. Always would, at least that’s what he preferred to believe. It eased his mind far more than the truth of his life as of lately—the reality of the unexplainable crime attempted in his home, just three months after the disappearance of his best friend, and a possible link between the two.

The link? The Ducartes, the city’s most notorious family of homicidal madmen—and woman—who spent the majority of their time carrying out promises of revenge upon anyone who dared to disobey them. Most dangerous of all were the children, Grant and Naomi, the two who executed their father’s plans, no matter how gruesome.

Charlie now found himself at the intersection of a terrific and terrible realization. The good news: There was a chance, even if a small one, that Charlie might yet be able to rescue his friend. The bad news: The key to her whereabouts led him straight to the very family he wanted to distance himself from most.

So, who is this book written for?

The simple answer: anyone who wants to read it! As for the specifics, The Half Theft is written in a young adult tone with characters as young as nineteen, ranging up to one character in his thirties. It is perfectly suitable for anyone who enjoys young adult or suspense stories, which can include almost any age.

This book was written, not with a target age range in mind, but with a target interest group: young adult and suspense lovers.

What went into the creation of this book?

Quite frankly, years of work. I see so many authors release multiple books in a single year, and I truly do not know how they are able to accomplish that. I am incredibly impressed!

The Half Theft has been my #1 work in progress for almost three years now. I wrote Chapter One. I mapped out my characters. I wrote Chapter Two. I drastically changed most of my characters, and I kept on moving. I’ve gotten to the point where my characters feel more like family than fictional people in a book.

Charlie? Definitely real.

Maeve? The love of my life, and definitely real.

Naomi? Well, I’ll have to wait and let you see about her…

What does The Half Theft offer for badass women?

I could spend approximately five hours speaking to the strength of the women in my book. They’re awesome. They’re badass. Sometimes fear-inducing. And I adore them. To be frank, I didn’t create them in some strange, outlandish method. I just wrote them, as a woman writing women. And it worked.

But don’t worry, the men of The Half Theft are every bit as incredible, if you ask me. Each character brings his or her own unique traits (or, in one instance, lack thereof) to the table to form something of an awkward dream team, in my mind. I only hope these characters can bring as much joy to my readers as they do to me.

In which formats is this book available?

If you’re a fan of eBooks, you can get a Kindle copy through Amazon. You can either purchase one or download it with Kindle Unlimited.

If you are more of an old-fashioned print book person (like me), there are paperback copies available as well. I could be biased, but the cover is absolutely beautiful in person!

How do I grab a copy of The Half Theft?

The good news is, it releases today so you can order your copy from Amazon right now!

Click here to purchase a copy.

Thank you.

I so appreciate every bit of support I have received from the book blogging, writing, and reading communities of which I am a part. You are truly a special bunch. I look forward to many years to come of shared stories and shared support. Thank you.