Top 10 Tuesday Nov. 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Top 10 Changes in My Reading Life.

  1. I listen to audio books after rejecting them for many years. The first time I tried to listen to an audio book, I hated it. I don’t generally like being read to, and I just wasn’t liking sitting there listening when I could be reading so much faster. But, last year, I decided to give it another chance, and found I really enjoyed the experience of listening to a book while I drove to work. Nowadays, I mostly listen to non-fiction, but it’s still a fun experience.
  2. I’ve started reading ARCs in the past year. I read a few before, but those were only when I managed to get to a convention. I didn’t think I’d be able to get anything on NetGalley because my blog wasn’t big enough, but the community encouraged me and I gave it a try. Lo and behold, I was approved!
  3. I’m trying to branch out in my tastes. I still don’t think I’m going to be reading much high fantasy (I’m not really a fan of dragons, for example), but I am reading more books that I’d passed over before, like Six of Crows. The best part is I’m realizing I really like books with fantasy elements, so that’s good.
  4. I’m rereading books less than I used to. It’s not that I don’t want to reread books, but there always seems to be such new and exciting books that have just come out, I have less time to reread than I used to.
  5. I’m going to the library more. One thing that changed is I started getting tighter in my budget, but I also stopped wanting to own every book in the world. Since I’m rereading less, it made less sense to keep every book I read and just keep the ones I know that will be reread and loved.
  6. I’m reading more than I used to in a year. When I first started doing the Goodreads challenge, I never though I could read fifty books in a year. That’s almost a book a week and I work full time. But, I found time every day to read and right now am a 107 books. Let’s hope I can keep it up next year.
  7. I’m also kind of reading less than I was earlier this year. I was reading about ten books a month for a while, then I got really into writing again. Now, writing has taken precedence over reading, so I’m back to not reading quite as much.
  8. I’m reviewing almost every book I read. I always wanted to, but not enough to actually do it. But now that I have a blog, I make an effort to put my thoughts out there and tell people what I think.
  9. I’m more up-to-date with what books are coming out. I used to know only when books I cared about were coming out. It’s the same now, but I care about so many more books and keep tabs on them.
  10. I spend a lot more time thinking about books and the market and what’s popular than I used to. Having a blog really helps keep me aware of the vast bookish life

Those are my 10 changes. What are some of yours? Tell be below or leave a link to your list!

Review: Fable by Michele Packard

Title: Fable: Matti Baker

Author: Michele Packard

Publisher: I’m not sure

Publication Date: May 20, 2019

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Matti Baker is a contract operator trained in counter terrorism by Freddy, a man she’s never met face to face, but who has been in her life since she was a child. Coming off a mission in which she was badly injured and lost an entire year to recovery, all she wants is some time with her husband and three kids. But someone is after some important vials and she’s back on the hunt, read to stop a conspiracy that will start a world-wide genocide.

So, that’s what I think it’s about, but even after reading the whole thing, I’m not entirely sure what the plot was. There was something some vials that she’s been protecting since she was a child. There was a conspiracy with a group of identical twins. And, yeah, that’s all I got.

Needless to say, I did not really like this book. First off, it was almost entirely tell-not-show. I felt like I was being bombarded with information, much of it irrelevant to the actual plot. There were long diversions where Matti recalled previous missions with her friend, Bethany, or retold the entirety of the first book, which, although that was sort of helpful, since I didn’t read the first book, also felt a little like the beginning The Baby-Sitter’s Club book, where the formation of the club and backstory of each girl is recounted.

Then, there’s the dialogue. At no time did I feel like any of it was actual words people would speak. It was so stilted and false and just… ugh. There was also the constant references: movies, TVs, songs being brought up on every other page. It was incredibly distracting and annoying. The dialgoue tags annoyed me as well. You can’t smirk a sentence (i.e. “What are you doing there, big boy,” I smirked.). No. Put a period at the end of that sentence and then smirk.

The plot was nonsensical. I literally don’t know what I read. I know at some point she went to Antarctica, but I don’t know why or what happened there because it was one chapter and no one talked the entire time. She was on some kind of tour, but who the other people were, I have no idea. I know there’s some kind of conspiracy, but I don’t know what it was about.

Also, I didn’t like Matti very much. I was very excited at the beginning, because I thought she was going to be a female Joe Ledger, but she’s just a handful of stereotypes slapped on with a veneer of “I’m not like other girls” and “humor” that only see seems to find amusing. Overall, this was a very disappointing and frustrating read.

No. Absolutely not, even if you’re looking for a book with a bad ass female character. Go to the mystery section of your library or bookstore and look there; there are much better and more coherently written bad ass women there.

Weekly Wrap-Up | November 17,2019

This week was all about parent conferences and writing. I managed to get my conferences done in three days. One day I had eleven conferences, starting at 1:15 and ending at 6. The best part was I managed to write over 2,000 words that day on my NaNoWriMo project. I wrote while waiting for parents to show up. Then on Thursday, I went to a teacher training and wrote during lunch (no one would sit with me) and during breaks. I also went to a write-in that night and had my best day of writing ever: over 3, 600 words. It made me confident that I could maybe one day do this for a living. I just need to get published.

I also decided to go to NetGalley and see if there were any books I wanted to read. I’m not entirely sure why I did that, because I have a huge TBR pile at the moment, but I went ahead and requested a few. I got approved for all but one, which is awesome. I also got another book called A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden, which I started last night and am really into. So, my reading life is full right now.

Monday: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Authors I NEED to Read

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Think of England by KJ Charles (review)

Saturday: Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Monday: Fable by Michele Packard (review)

Tuesday: Top 10 Changes in my Reading Life

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden (review)

Friday: Let’s Talk Bookish

What plans do you have for the upcoming week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6

“I’m a vampire.”

She laughed.  The laugh was as weak as she felt.

“I need to sit.”  She stumbled back and sat hard on the toilet.  “Vampires don’t exist.  It’s not real.  There are people who… What are you doing?”

Gabriel had her hand in his and was peeling a bandage away.  “The modern world is so strange.”  His pale fingers rubbed at one of the scrapes, drawing blood from it.  “You are religious and believe in miracles, or you say you do, but you have ceased to truly believe in anything else.”

“I believe in the devil.”

He snorted.  “Not really.  Even I don’t believe in the Catholic Satan anymore.  I’ve seen too much evil without him, but never him.”  He raised Kali’s arm and fastened his mouth around the bleeding wound.

She shrieked and pulled her arm from him. “What the hell are you…. Holy shit.”

The scrape had healed over leaving smooth, unblemished skin behind.

Gabriel smiled at her.  On anyone else, it would have been a smug smile.  On him, it was beatific.  “One of the gifts of the goddess.”

“Oh my God.”  She reached with a shaking hand to his mouth and scraped her finger on his pointy-sharp incisor.

It retracted under her touch.

“It moved.”

“They do that.”  He opened his mouth.  His eye-teeth extended almost to his lower lip.  “Easier to eat when they’re long,” he lisped.  “Not so easy to talk.”

A gunshot went off downstairs.

“What was that?”  She leapt to her feet and rushed past Gabriel, the pain in her head and knee forgotten.

“Tell me where she is!” she heard as she opened the door.

Garrison.

Gabriel was behind her.  “He found you.  We have to go.”  He took her by the wrist.  “Come on.”

“Wait!” She struggled against him as he dragged her away from the door.

The gun went off again.  People screamed.

Both Gabriel and Kali froze.

Feet pounded on the stairs.

“He’s coming.”  She broke away from Gabriel and slammed the door.  “Help me move the desk!”  She ran over to it and pulled.

It didn’t budge.

“There’s no time.”  Gabriel pulled her away and swept her into his arms.  Then, he leapt out the window.

Kali screamed as glass shattered around them.  Shards sliced into her face.  She pressed he face against Gabriel’s neck.

They hit the ground with a jarring thud.  Gabriel set her on her feet.  “Come on.  My car is close.”  

The ground was hard against her socked feet.  She took a few stumbling steps, but her legs protested.  She fell.

“Gabriel!” Garrison shouted.

She looked up.  He was leaning out the open window, shotgun in his hand.

“You can’t save her!  Give her up now.”

“I won’t let you take her again, Father Pike!” Gabriel picked Kali up again and ran.

“Where are we going?” she gasped.

“The parking structure!”  He rounded a corner and pointed.  Even running and carrying her, he didn’t sound winded.

“Here.”  He stopped in front of the parking structure, looking up.  “I’m on the fourth level.”

“Stairs.”  She pointed to the end of the building.

He looked at her and smiled.  “I don’t need stairs.  Hold on.”

“What?”

He put her down and turned to present his back.  “Hold on.”  He took her hands and wrapped them around his neck.  Then he leapt halfway up the side of the building.

“God!” Kali squeaked.

He was gripping the concrete with his nails as he climbed up the sides like he was a cat.  They scrambled to an opening on the fourth level, where Gabriel heaved himself over the ledge and planted his feet on solid ground once more.

Kali let go of him and took a few shaky steps away.  “How did you do that?”  Her legs threatened to give out.  She leaned against a car and took a few deep breaths.

“I’m a vampire.  We can do that.”

Of course.  He could heal cuts, he had retracting teeth, why couldn’t he climb up walls?  “How did Garrison find me?”

“He used magic.  Probably a tracing spell using your blood.”

“My blood?”

He nodded.  “I just don’t understand how he got past your guards.  He broke through all the protections we had around you, which should have been impossible.  But…”

“What guards?”

“You’re our queen,” he said, looking at her with simple and complete adoration.  “Our creator.  Our goddess.  Even though you’re human, we do what we can to protect you.”

She snorted and thought of the myriad of foster homes and relatives’ houses she’d been in and out of her whole life.  She thought of hungry nights and days, and the times when she was too cold or too hot or too tired because the adults around her couldn’t take care of her properly.  Thought of the abuse and the fear and the all too few moments of peace.

“Yeah, well, you’ve done a bang-up job.”

His face reflected guilt and anxiety.  With a hesitance that made her want to cry, he stepped forward and took her hand.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered.  His hand was so cold.  “I always thought we should do more but was voted down.  I have a history of making a mess of things.  Morgan thought it best we allow you to live a normal life without us interfering.”  He kissed the palm of her hand, eyes falling shut.  “We kept our kind from hurting you, kept Garrison from taking you.  We tried to protect you, but obviously something happened.”  He opened his eyes again.  “Forgive us?”

“Gabriel, I don’t know anything about you.  I don’t know if I can even trust you.  Aren’t vampires evil?”

He never got to answer.  Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a van tore around the corner.

“Run!” He shoved her away from him.

Kali flew across the structure.  She landed hard on the concrete floor.

“Take my car!” Gabriel threw the keys at her.

The van rammed him.  Tires squealed.  Gabriel was plowed into another car with the horrific sound of crunching metal.

“Oh no.  No, no, no.”

Smoke rose from the van’s hood.  Everything was silent.  Gabriel lay still, trapped between the cars, skin completely white.

            hen, the van door opened.  Garrison climbed out.

Kali moved.  She scrambled for the keys that had landed inches from her.  Hit the alarm the moment she had them.

A blue BMW down the row started wailing.

She ran to it.

She never saw Garrison move.  One minute, she was running, the next, she was on the ground, black dots flying at her face.

“Stay.” Garrison bent down and took the keys from her numb fingers.

“Garrison,” Gabriel moaned.  Metal screeched against metal.  He groaned.

“Gabriel, don’t move.”  Garrison sounded almost… fond.  “You can’t save her.  You will only cause yourself pain if you try.  Let her go.”

“No.”

Kali struggled to sit up.  Her head pounded.  Holy God in heaven, she probably had the worst concussion by now.  She’d be lucky if she survived without brain damage.

Garrison went to Gabriel.  There was a crowbar in one hand, gun in the other.

Gabriel pushed the van off him and stumbled forward.  There was a determined look on his too-young face.  His eyes were impossibly blue against his marble white skin.

“Gabriel…”

“No!  Don’t you understand?  She’s returned, just like she said she would.  Just as she promised.  Kali is stronger than you and the church and…”

Garrison fired.  The gunshot echoed loudly in the cavernous structure.

Kali screamed.

Gabriel took a step back.

“I won’t…” he said through clenched teeth.

Garrison fired again and again until the gun clicked, out of bullets.  Gabriel fell to his knees, still conscious.  His chest rose and fell with a strange sucking sound.  Blood bubbled at his lips.

“Please,” he exhaled.  More blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke.

Garrison dropped the empty clip on the ground.  He knelt in front of Gabriel and touched his cheek.  “I’m sorry, my son.  If not for her, you might have been saved.  But she never gave your soul a chance.”

“Don’t.”

Garrison stood.  He swung the crowbar at Gabriel’s face.

Kali’s hand flew to her eyes.  She couldn’t watch.  But she had to.  She opened her fingers and peeked through them.

Gabriel was unconscious.  His chest wasn’t moving anymore.  Even the blood had stopped flowing.

Garrison hit him again.

Gabriel’s beautiful nose broke, marring his perfect face.

“Stop it!”  Kali leapt to her feet and stumbled to Garrison.  “Stop it!”  She grabbed his arm and yanked Garrison away from the man who would have been her savior.  “He’s dead!  Leave him alone!”

Garrison rounded on her, face a mask of fury.  “That boy has survived hundreds of years past his time because I cannot bring myself to kill him.  And even now…” He stopped abruptly and gave a sharp shake of his head.  Grabbing Kali by the arm, he pulled her to Gabriel’s car.  “Come.  We need to go.”

“No!”  She fought him, kicking and clawing, trying to get away.

“Kali…”  His grip loosened.

“Let me go!”

“Damn it!”  He grabbed her arm and swung her.

Kali tried to brace herself, to stop her movement, but she had no control.  The last thing she saw before blackness took her was the back of Garrison’s van rushing towards her.

Review: Think of England by KJ Charles

Title: Think of England

Author: KJ Charles

Publisher: KJC Books

Genre: historical m/m, mystery

Length: 239 pages

Publication Date: March 28, 2017

Two years ago, Archie Curtis was injured in a freak accident with his hand was blown off by a faulty pistol. His entire unit–and closest friends–were killed or maimed in the accident. Now, Archie has discovered that this might not have been an accident at all, but sabotage.

Determined to find out the truth, he attends a house party of the man he suspects of the terrible deed. There, he meets Daniel da Silva, a poet, who is all too obviously queer and dainty for Archie’s tastes. But when the two uncover a ring of blackmail and are caught up in its web, they are thrown together and Archie begins to see the beauty, elegance,and dangerous mind behind da Silva.

Soon, he finds that he needs the other man, not just to save his reputation and avenge his fallen comrades, but to satisfy a hunger he never thought himself capable of.

I love this book, and it’s not even my favorite of KJ Charles, which just goes to show how much I love Charles’s writing. The mystery behind the story is really well done and completely plausible. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was based on real, historical happenings. After all, house parties were notorious as a setting for affairs, and blackmail is just the next step for that setting.

The other thing I like is how masterful Charles is at taking her characters from point A to point Z so seamlessly. At the beginning, Archie is turned off by da Silva. Da Silva is too over the top and sets off a sort of straight-man’s panic in him. But, as the story progresses, he naturally and believably beings to not only da Silva, but become strongly attracted to him. They have a wonderful chemistry and the more intimate scenes are sizzling hot.

It doesn’t appear that Charles plans to continue on with these two lovers, and that’s a shame because if feel she left it at a spot where she could. I’d love to read more of Archie and da Silva and follow their relationship as it grows and deepens. Alas, I think I’ll have to be satisfied with my imagination instead.

If you like historical m/m and mystery, this is definitely a book that you’ll enjoy. It’s available on Kindle and physical form, so get it now!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are invited to answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently rereading Think of England by KJ Charles, which is a gay romance about a man named Archie Curtis who was injured in an accident during World War I that he suspects to be sabotage. He goes to a house party being thrown by the suspected saboteur only to find a web of deceit and blackmail. I love this book to death.

I also started rereading Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. I caught part of the movie on Halloween and have been hankering to read it again, so I stopped inside a local used bookstore. I found and purchased it within two minutes.

Technically, I haven’t started My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and others, but I’m planning on it today, so I’ll say I’m currently reading this as well.

I feel like I’ve read another book beside A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, but I don’t know what it was. I really enjoyed this book and loved the twist on Sherlock Holmes. I can’t wait for the next book. I reviewed this one here.

I’m going to try Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn next since it’s literally on the top of my TBR pile. I’m thinking I might also try the first in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and I might listen to Her Majesty’s Necromancer by C.J. Archer, because it looks intriguing.

That’s what I’m doing this week. What are you reading?

Top 5 Authors I NEED to Read

It’s Top 5 Tuesday, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is Top 5 Authors I NEED to Read.

This is kind of a hard one for me. I don’t know many authors I need to read that I haven’t. So… I’ll do my best.

Leigh Bardugo. Okay, technically, I’ve read her before since I read the Six of Crows duology, but that’s all I’ve read of her. I’m super interested in reading The Ninth House. I just need to see if the library has it since I’m not buying books right now.

V.E. Schwab. I’ve read nothing by this author and I’ve heard nothing but good things about her. I need to get on that.

C.J. Archer is another author I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t. I’m super intersected in Her Majesty’s Necromancer for awhile now, but haven’t gotten around to reading it.

Cassandra Clare is another author I’ve technically read, but I’ve only read the Infernal Devices series by her. I want to read more.

Abbi Waxman is the last author I’d really like to read. I heard her on the podcast #AmWriting and thought her books sounded interesting. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Those are the 5 authors I NEED to read. What are some of yours?