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?

Killer Clowns and… President Trump?

Yes, this is a book review.

Yes, the title will make sense in time.

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post here. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I just sort of lost my enthusiasm and let myself slip away from my weekly posts. Soon enough, I figured it didn’t much matter if I posted at all.

I obviously changed my mind on the issue, seeing as I’m here now, and I hope to give my blog a little jumpstart and get going with it once again. I’ve had so much fun with this blog and every one of my readers ever since the day I started it. A couple months down the road, I had an even more amazing experience when I shared my debut novel, The Half Theft, with you. The amount of support I received from my fellow readers was unbelievable and so heartwarming.

To put it simply, I missed you all, so I’m back.

I’ve been up to a lot since I disappeared, including co-hosting my podcast, We Talk Books, which leads me into today’s post.

I picked up a copy of Clown in a Cornfield (by Adam Cesare) from my local library last week in hopes of reading it for the podcast. After the prologue, I had a feeling my sister (aka my podcast co-host) wouldn’t have very much fun reading it. It’s a bit too gory and modern-teen-centered for her taste. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but continue.

Just to be clear, at the end of the book, the author specifically asks for people to review his work, whether or not they enjoyed it. I appreciate that, and I give him a lot of credit for putting himself out there in that way. I normally shy away from negative reviews, but with the combination of that and so many other things, I simply had to write a review.

For starters, I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that uses “GTFO” in an unironic and non-texting sense. That wasn’t the only instance of odd texting abbreviations in the story, but it certainly was the one that made me laugh the hardest. I cannot stress this enough: people don’t actually say the letters G-T-F-O in real life. That part I could live with. It was goofy, but it didn’t ruin the story.

What did bother me was the fact that the entire mysterious part of the story can be inferred from the synopsis inside the cover. I don’t even know what to make of that, but I certainly thought it meant the revealing of the clowns would be something exciting and unexpected, not literally the exact thing it said on the inside of the book jacket.

START OF SPOILERS

Now, this is one instance where I truly wished I had read reviews before jumping into the story. It turns out that the whole book is a political metaphor for the Cesare’s view of Trump supporters… except it’s not really a metaphor at all. It literally says the killers are Trump supporters who want to exterminate a whole generation of kids because they have smartphones and cause trouble or something like that? At the very least, I was hoping for something a bit supernatural or at least more complex.

END OF SPOILERS

To top it all off, Clown in a Cornfield has an oddly Riverdale-ish feel to it, down to two of the characters being names Ronnie and Cole. A coincidence, I’m sure.

Now, on the other hand, if you like the show, I genuinely do recommend the book to you. You’d probably enjoy it. I haven’t watched it in years though, so I guess I might have just outgrown the phase of my life where I found that sort of thing enjoyable.

On to the horror aspects of the book—the parts that were meant to be scary were definitely written in a superior fashion to the rest, if you ask me. I did find parts of it spooky. I only wish there would have been more of that since it is truly where the writer excels. The multi-chapter-long action sequence at the end really wasn’t bad.

There were corny parts, such as the rant Cole went on in the back of the car in which he somehow related murderous clowns to global warming. A weird moment, for sure, but something a Riverdale character would definitely bring up. See? I told you it had the same vibes!

All in all, I can truly say this is not book for me. A one-starrer, I’m sorry to say.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I hope, through this review, I can not only deter the right people from reading the book, but also draw the right people toward it. Cesare’s writing is clearly an acquired taste.

But please remind me not to read any more Riverdale-esque political metaphors in book form. They’re not quite my thing.

Question of the Post: What are your thoughts on the genre of horror in books? Have you read any great horror books? Any you wish you could unread? (If not, what are you currently reading?)

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.

5 Books on My TBR List

With the stress of the election, and the fact that I’m currently sick and prefer to sleep the day away, I admitted have not been reading as much as I would like to. That means I do not currently have a book review for you.

But fear not! Because I’ve put together a short to-be-read list instead.

These are all books I hope to read in the near future. When exactly will that be? I’m not positive. But hopefully soon, since some have been lingering on my list for years.

1. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

After finishing Dune and Dune Messiah, continuing the series is a no-brainer. The storyline is simply amazing. The characters are superb.

What surprises me most about the series is that I enjoy it despite it being classified as a sci-fi fantasy. I typically shy away from science fiction. Historically, I haven’t exactly loved the books I’ve read from the genre. In addition, fantasy isn’t usually my favorite. So the fact that I enjoyed Dune at all is enough of a miracle to keep reading.

2. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Ah yes, Percy Jackson. Yet another series which I have begun and failed to finish. I can’t even remember the last time I read a series all the way through. I think I was a read-three-books-and-drop-the-series kind of gal straight out of the womb.

But this time, I vow to finish the “dam” series. Get it? The Titan’s Curse joke?

So, I’m posting this to hold myself accountable. Feel free to yell at me if I haven’t picked it up by the end of the year.

3. Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Do I know this is absolutely going to scare the living hell out of me? Sure. Am I going to miss a week of sleep due to the lingering fear that a clown is somehow going to catch me in a cornfield? Sure. Am I going to read it anyway? Probably.

At this point, I’m banking on the fact that I’ve watched both It films and survived to tell the story. If I can watch those, I can read this, right? Who knows? But I’m so intrigued I have to at least give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

4. How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro

Listen, Ben Shapiro and I have had our differences. I won’t deny it. But if anybody thinks that will stop me from reading his superbly written books, they’re dead wrong.

I recently read The Right Side of History and was absolutely blown away by his writing. Honestly, it’s fantastic and not at all what I was expecting. I know he’s intelligent and well-spoken, but that doesn’t always translate to the page for everyone. Fortunately for him, it does.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’ve heard this is one of the classics that is actually superb, so I am making a point to work it into my reading agenda. I’m not much for books that were written forever ago. I typically go for those that were penned in the more recent past, like Dune. This also doesn’t fit very well into the genres I most enjoy.

But I feel like it’s important to occasionally step out of the bookish world you know and love, in order to explore something new that you might end up loving just as much, or even more.

Comment and let me know a book or two that are on your to-be-read list!

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.

Dear Dune, Stop Making Me Cry

No, seriously. Dune Messiah hurt my feelings.

And I thought Dune was sad? Its sequel was a punch in the heart. Yet I liked it—a lot.

I would give it somewhere between three-and-a-half and four stars. Maybe three-and-three-quarters? That’s an irritatingly specific rating. Yikes.

To start with the good news, I finally really felt a connection with Chani. I liked her in the first book but, at the same time, she was sort of just there. I felt for her so much more this time around. Also, I’ve completely changed my mind on Zendaya being cast in her role. I had no idea if I was going to like that casting choice, but I actually think she might end up being one of the best choices in all of Dune.

The second part of this story that I particularly love is Paul. Again, there was just something about the character development in the sequel that made me feel a deeper connection to him. Don’t get me wrong. There was never a point within the first book where I did not feel a strong compulsion to give the guy a hug. I always loved him. I just have a better understanding of his character now.

Another aspect of the Dune Chronicles, as a whole, is that I actually do enjoy the relationship between Paul and Chani. I want to vomit over about 99% of fictional relationships, so this is a real step in the right direction for me. Am I becoming a…normal member of society that enjoys other people’s love for one another…? What a crazy thought!

Now onto the sadness and devastation.

This story just broke me. There’s the fact that the foreword set me up to be sad. It literally mentioned that many people didn’t react well to the sequel because it doesn’t have a happy ending. And, of course, my first thought was crap, but then again I’ve come this far; I have to read it.

Unfortunately for me, not only did it have a devastating ending, but it had a mildly upsetting beginning, and a moderately depressing middle. Many a tear was shed.

In Messiah’s defence, it isn’t a story where the sadness creeps up on you unexpectedly. I can say that much for it. I saw it coming from miles and miles away. That didn’t really make it sting less, but at least I wasn’t surprised.

Despite how bleak this review sounds, I really did love this book. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and so worth reading after its predecessor. Even though the first two books definitely don’t make up the whole Dune series, Messiah makes the story feel complete. Everything comes full circle.

Obviously, I’m very divided on this book, so you’ll have to use your own discretion when deciding whether you want to bawl your eyes out or not.

Seriously, I didn’t hate it though! I’m just the tiniest bit bitter and sad. But having the ability to evoke such emotion signals a fantastic author, doesn’t it?