Book Review: Baby Teeth

Right before PitchWars 2017 I held a series of interviews with mentors and previous mentees. One of those mentees was Zoje Stage and you can read the interview here. Well her thriller Baby Teeth comes out July 2018 from St. Martin’s Press and I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of it. I couldn’t put this book down and I give it 5 stars. I have a few aspects of this book I’m excited to talk about.

First, let’s take a look at the cover and description.

35410511Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Song of Achilles

Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved Greek mythology. I went through a period in time where I couldn’t get enough reading about mythology and devoured every book about it I could get my hands on. I found The Song of Achilles to be a fantastic read and it gets 4.5 stars from me. If you love mythology you should really give this book a read. It is the book on Achilles I wanted and I didn’t even know it until I read.

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First of all something I appreciated about this book and want to mention first thing was that the author kept in Achilles’s love for Patroclus instead of writing out their love affair. I believe the movie about Troy with Brad Pitt left it out, but The Song of Achilles didn’t dance around the LGBTQ aspects of his story. In fact the love story between Achilles and Patroclus was one of my favorite bits of this. The ending wouldn’t have been the same without it and their love made the ending powerful. Continue reading

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

I recently read An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson and fell in love with the story. I admit I love books dealing with the fae, I always have. As a child I was fascinated with elves and fairies. However having them in a book isn’t guaranteed to make me like it. I found the world of the fae in this book charming albeit tragic. This is one of those books that will definitely stick with me for a while. This book gets 5 stars from me and it’s one I would recommend to fantasy lovers who are looking for stories dealing with the fae from a human perspective.

30969741A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. Continue reading

Historical Fiction About King Louis XIV

Time for some historical fiction recommendations. The topic we are focusing on today is fiction surrounding King Louis XIV of France, also known as the Sun King. Louis is a fascinating historical figure. He’s the king who built Versailles and turned France into a fashion leader as well as many other achievements. There’s even a show called Versailles that can be found on Netflix about him. Behind every king is sweet juicy drama and with Louis the drama came from all his mistresses. He had several including taking an interest in his sister-in-law for a time. The books I’m recommending focus on his mistresses.

The portrayal of Louis is a little different in each book. Some take the stance that he truly loved his mistresses, while others not so much. Even in nonfiction historians debate on how much he loved the women in his life. At times he comes across as quite the romantic character while at other times it can be easy to hate him with how he treated some of his mistresses.

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When Opening Chapters Have No Teeth

Between the slush and my own editing I’ve seen a lot of first chapters. Dozens upon dozens upon dozens of first chapters. I often notice similar issues over and over again and find myself giving out the same advice in first chapter critiques and edits. Two of these issues specifically, a lack of stakes and a hook, I came across in a book I borrowed from the library. If you are a writer who struggles to understand issues like stakes without examples then read on because you are about to get some specific examples. I’m going to to discuss two common issues I spot in opening chapters with a few bonus problems and I’m going to be very candid with you. The book I’m using as an example is a young adult magical realism contemporary, The Inconceivable Life of Quinn.

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As a warning I quit reading after the first two chapters to get some other reading done and haven’t picked the book back up yet, so I have no idea of what happens after the first two chapters (yet). On Goodreads the book only has a rating of 3.2 and a lot of reviews complaining about it being “meh” or “boring.” Many called it “strange” and “odd” despite the great concept that has a magical realism touch to it. I’m always curious to read reviews of books after I finish to see what other people thought. Let me tell you exactly why the book got reviewed as meh and boring at the start so you can avoid making the same mistake. First let me be clear this book wasn’t rated low because the writing or story is bad, the book just needs some more reworking and polishing to have a wider appeal and the issues I’ve brought up are ones I see all the time, which is why I wanted to make this post. I find it hard to discuss common issues without examples, and this book provides some perfect examples for me to discuss. Continue reading

Review: They Both Die at the End

After reading They Both Die at the End I was torn on the book. I expected a heart wrenching story about doomed souls. What I got was a story about doomed souls with a ton of waxing poetic about it thrown in. If you are a fan of philosophy around death, then this might be the book for you. But for me it felt exactly like a tragic book about people knowing they are going to die, but not what would happen in reality. I give it a 3.5. I know this book got rave reviews, but hear me out on my opposite take of those reviews. This review is also a good example of issues I look for in books as an editor. The big issues of this book for me were unrelatable and unrealistic characters, slow pacing, and too much poeticism.

A quick moment to review what the book is about.

33385229On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

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Board Games and Books

As much as I love books and reading, I also love board and card games. I can spend hours playing games like Ticket to Ride or Code Names. I recently came across an amazing game that combines my love of games and books and if you are a book lover who enjoys a good game, I strongly recommend Ex Libris.

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In Ex Libris you are a library gnome competing to create the best library to become the new librarian. The game is 1-4 players. I’ve yet to try the solo mode, so I can’t say anything about the quality of it. The objective of the game is to create your library shelves. In order to do so you will have a few book types to focus on. You’ll want to avoid banned books, gain extra points for having a lot of prominent works, and you’ll also have your own specialty category to focus on. These categories are chosen randomly from the cards, so the cards change each time for these areas. In total there are 6 types of books. You have to shelve your books in alphabetical and numerical order. Continue reading