My First Big Time ARC!

I received an e-mail yesterday from Penguin Random House stating that I had been approved for an ARC I had requested. I have never requested an ARC from a publisher, especially not one this big – I typically use NetGalley and read those “insta-approve” books because I am just a wee-account on all platforms. To my surprise, I was approved for an e-ARC of AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I looked at my phone, I looked around the room, I looked back at my phone, and I just sat silently… I was in shock! Never in a million years did I think that I could get an ARC of something of this magnitude! I am forever thankful for the people at Penguin Random House for selecting me and trusting me with this new space adventure! I will have this read and reviewed soon!! I’m already at 20%!

**Synopsis**

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of the Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic . . .

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

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Pre-order your copy from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, or other retail sites!

 

The Severed Moon – Day 2

“Describe something in your life that others might view as ordinary but that you experience as magical.”

Food. There is something magical about cooking food and then being able to consume it for energy or for pleasure. We take ingredients that can be eaten on their own, or can’t be eaten on their own such as spices or raw meats (in most cases) and combine them together and then add heat, changing the chemical structure of the dish. We then take that food and enjoy it by ourselves or by serving it to others. There is nothing I enjoy more than making a delicious and hearty meal and then serving it to my family. Food brings us together, gives us comfort, reminds us of good and sometimes bad times.

For me, my favorite dish is a Korean dish called “Haemul-sundubu-jjigae,” or spicy seafood and tofu stew. This dish reminds me of my mom, which then reminds me of home.

 

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You start with your stock, add seafood, spices, tofu, and let it boil not only to cook but to absorb flavor. The longer you let this stew simmer, the more condensed the flavor becomes. Crack an egg into it at the end, let it poach, and add a splash of vinegar to give it some bite! I top it with green onions and eat this dish with hot, sticky white rice.  It’s usually pretty spicy! Yum!

You can find an easy recipe and video to follow by clicking *here*. Maangchi is an incredible resource for Korean cooking! The beauty of Korean food is that you can substitute basically anything! If you don’t like seafood you don’t have to add it! If you don’t like beef but like pork, use that instead! I hope everyone in their lifetime gets to experience the magic in eating cultural foods!

 

~Rachael

The Severed Moon – Day 1

07e92f6d-d7b8-4f4a-a0ae-9c13bc1d98c5-857-0000005ed4395753_file.jpgI bought Leigh Bardugo’s magical inspiration journal knowing that I’d never write in it. I have anxiety writing in things like that, hell I photo copy coloring pages so I can do them again! So I decided to do my journaling in this blog and will put them in their own category so I can easily find them! Some of the blogs will be a story associated with the prompt, some will be my thoughts, maybe it’ll be a blog on something that I’m inspired by, etc! I’m just going to have fun! I figured what better to start a year long journal than to start on your birthday!

Day 1 – “We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.”

Today is my birthday and I feel like I’m wearing a crown! I’ve received so much love from the bookish community, my Instagram is full of people who love and support me and I just can’t thank them enough. I honestly wasn’t sure how I would feel waking up to being 31; however, I didn’t have to wake up to being 31 because I was so deep into reading Mistborn: The Well of Ascension that it was 1:30AM by the time I realized that I should probably go to bed. The magic system of Mistborn is so unique and the universe is unlike anything I’ve ever read. I am hoping to get the UK paperback editions of Mistborn era 1 and era 2 soon! I know that it’s going to be one of my favorites and I’m only halfway through tWoA!

Learning to wring magic from the ordinary is something I struggle with. Often I find myself lost in my negative feelings. Sometimes I have to take a step back and understand that magic is all around me. Simple things like a good book, a sunny day, cooking delicious food, my kids being healthy… I need to appreciate the magic from my family most of all; love. Loving and being loved are such special experiencing. You don’t know what life truly is until you’ve loved something with your whole being.

~Rachael

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 162 (depending on the version)
Published: February 24th, 2002
Read: 3/8/2019 via Audible

Coraline Jones is an explorer. The day she moves into her new home she begins to unravel the mysteries that surround her. The house is old, the mice seem to move with intention, and when she is turned away from her parents due to their busy schedules, she begins to wish for something more.

When she goes through a secret passageway in a locked room she finds a world like her own but with a twist. At first Coraline loves this new world. The other mother and father are always there for her, the food is delicious, and the toys come to life! But when Coraline realizes that things are not what they seem, she begins to discover the truth to the happiness of the other world.

***SPOILERS***

Coraline is the hero that I always wish that I could be. She is so brave and never turns away from a challenge. The first glimpse of those button eyes would have had me screaming for home! When she realizes that there are children’s souls that are trapped, she does everything she can to set their souls free. I love the cast of characters like the acrobat grannies and their dogs, the weird man upstairs with the circus mice, and the cat. I love the cat, I think that he’s a perfect companion for this book because he doesn’t actually tell you anything but he drives the plot forward. I also cheered when the other dad defied the other mother to save Coraline!

***END SPOILERS***

I read this book via Audible and I loved it so much. Basically anything Neil himself narrates just turns to gold!

Coraline is a dark and whimsical children’s story told by Neil Gaiman. He is the master at taking something small and turning it into something unforgettable!

 

Reviewing Indie Books

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Do you review Indie books differently? I feel like when I know this is a self published work, or a very small, unknown author, I have a different scale for reviewing. But is that the right thing to do?

Typically my star ratings on Goodreads and Amazon are more critical rather than personal (depending on the book), whereas in my bullet journal or this blog I give more of my personal star rating. For example, my critical review for Red Rising is 5 stars due plot, the character development, the writing style, etc. My personal review is 4.5 because during one part of the book, it dragged on a little bit too long for my personal taste. I started drifting in and out and would take breaks because it wasn’t gripping me. I’m starting to wonder if I should just merge the two ratings, if that makes sense so it’s more consistent, or maybe I’m just being too extra, haha!

So when it comes to indie authors, especially ones without editors, I usually overlook a lot of the grammatical issues and the writing style. I take it into a account but I’m not as hard on that person as even the best writers have editors. Hell, Stephen King has an editor! Understanding that indie authors want to get their names out there, I just try to push passed it – but then that got me thinking…. should we be doing that? If you are not a good writer, should we give praise just because you’re trying? If a book is not written well by a well known author, I don’t give them stars because they tried. If the story is there but the writing is bad, hiring an editor to help you get a publisher would help you!

I think that people need to understand that it typically takes a long time to write a book. The process is grueling, the criticism, even more so. I think I personally need to work on reviewing books with the understanding that people are going to read them and trust what I have to say. I’ve never lied, but I do withhold to a certain degree. It’s a slippery slope. If we sit and hype a book because a friend wrote it, the author is nice, etc, it’s deceiving the other people who may spend good money on the book that you may have personally not liked.

I recently had the opportunity to read a book by an indie author in which she told me not to review her book if it was going to be a bad rating. I don’t think that’s fair. Her Goodreads has only 5 stars and because I wanted to be nice, I almost didn’t review it so it wouldn’t drag down her  rating. After she repeatedly harassed myself and another reviewer, it got me thinking; I need to review this. You can see the full story on my Instagram @rqdavis_ in my highlights.

You can see my review for A Twisted Belief by Pearl Khatri by clicking *here* She has since blocked me on all forms of social media after harassing myself and another reviewer to remove the reviews.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day! I’m finishing up The Black Witch via audio and will be reviewing that book soon!

Rachael

How NOT to Respond to a Bad Review

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Alright, I have a confession to make, it is hard AF for me to write a negative review. I usually always find the positives in a book and then give it a higher star thinking that maybe the book wasn’t for me. I’m a pretty generous rater. However, sometimes you come across work that is so overly offensive, you don’t even want to waste your time writing a review. This has only happened to me twice so far and neither time I wrote a review… and I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do.

When a book contains things like poor language structure, or the book is said to be adult and the writing is more YA, I don’t feel like that forces my hand to HATE IT, it just wasn’t for me. However, if the book contains themes that are offensive and those situations are not being addressed as issues for that particular world, that’s when I start having that feeling of, I need to tell people… I have recently come into a situation where someone was being harassed by the author over writing a negative review and that honestly scared me.

People should not be afraid to give their honest opinions, after all, that’s why we rate books. This person was stalked over her social media to have her review removed (instagram, her blog, goodreads, etc) and it honestly left a bad taste in my mouth. If you are an author, I understand that getting positive reviews drives your book into people’s hands, but you are GOING to get negative reviews, period. People are NOT going to like your book in the same way that people LOVE that book. The number one thing people tell authors is to not get caught up on the reviews – especially since people rate books differently. Some personally, some critically, some both.

I was truly disturbed when I was contacted about that author harassing her to remove her review. I have a weird suspicion that it’s going to happen to me, even though I am being vague in my blog post. I should not have this feeling. I should not feel scared to leave my review for a book I was asked to review. I know that authors work hard, but the only way to get better is to listen to what people are saying. If you decide to read reviews and they list issues they had with it, take it or leave it and move on! I struggled for a week on how I was going to leave my review because I hate hurting people’s feelings, but when I did decide to discuss the issues INSTEAD of leaving a review because I wanted to be nice, I was met with, “I don’t want people tweaking my work.” Then don’t ask for people to review it?

All in all, I did not enjoy the book. I think the overall story was there, it has potential, but if you’re unwilling to take any criticism, the book is going to stay off of people’s TBRs. If your book has NO negative reviews and only over the top 5 star reviews, people note that.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!

-Rachael

Weekend Slumps – Monday Motivation

The weekends are a time when most people settle in and read more than they did during the work week; this is the opposite for me. When the weekend comes, my audiobooks shut off and my books close. Whenever I find a minute to read I always end up stopping a few pages in.

I am lucky to get through 10-20 pages… sometimes I’ll squeeze in an audiobook chapter while doing the dishes. I just can’t seem to find the motivation when my kids are running around and my husband is home. We rarely get to spend time as a family; when we do, we go go go until bedtime and then I pass out!

Now it’s Monday and I just couldn’t get myself to listen to The Night Circus. I read this book last year, it being my favorite standalone of 2018 and I cannot follow along! I’m so lost! I don’t know if it’s just where I’m at mentally or if the nature or the book requires more concentration.

I opted to listen to something light and easy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, narrated by Newt Scamander/Eddie Redmayne. It’s such a fun and quick listen. At just under 2 hours, it definitely resets my mind. I think I’ll try and finish TNC tonight via hardcopy and start fresh with something new tomorrow.

I hope everyone’s having a lovely day!

-Rachael

Welcome to the Howlers

Title: Red Rising (trilogy, book 1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Publication: 1/28/2014
Personal Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Where do I start with Red Rising? I started this book via audio on Tuesday and I finished it via kindle that night. I had just about every person I talk to on Instagram telling me I needed to read this book and I’ll be honest, I was scared. I have seen so much abuse on Pierce Brown’s twitter that I wasn’t sure that I was ready to get my heart ripped out of my chest in the way that Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff did. I was sitting there next to my husband saying “oh, what the FUCK” about 50 times by the end. I even recorded myself saying, “are you fucking kidding me,” and sending it to every person who told me to read this book! I don’t even think I can get myself to read Golden Son for a couple of weeks!

**spoilers ahead**
Red Rising opens up with us meeting Darrow who is what they call a “helldiver,” someone who mines gasses from under Mars’ surface in order for them to use it to make a livable surface above ground. This is a super dangerous job, one not for the weak, even though the people living underground are called “Reds,” and basically their slave drivers are color coded, leading up to “Gold.” Reds are so oppressed to the point where even their stature in comparison to others is small.

Darrow’s wife opens a rebellion via illegal song and is hanged in front of everyone, saying the words, “Break the Chains,” in order for people to get off their asses and fight their oppressors. Darrow cuts her down, buries her, and due to that being illegal, is hanged. His uncle saves him and turns him over to a group of people who basically tell Darrow that he’s played himself and the surface of Mars is in fact habitable and people have been living like kings up there. Darrow is then “carved” into a Gold and is told to infiltrate the society from within, needing to win a set of challenges in order to be top dog in the Gold’s elite institute.

This basically ends in a bloody version of capture the flag, where the students enslave one another (or kill each other) in order to capture as many houses as possible. Darrow excels, your typical underdog story, and meets a group of people who claim themselves as the Howlers and swear their loyalty to him. We meet other characters he conquers and swears loyalty to him, we lose people we love in the book, and overall, some hardcore shit goes down, especially with the plotting, backstabbing, and all around “wtf moments.” (Jackals hand????) This book is not for the faint of heart. (Jackal cut his damn hand off!) You can totally Wikipedia the plot if this doesn’t do it for you!

**end of spoilers**
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a solid 4.5. The only reason I knocked off a .5 rating is because at some points in the book it drags a little and I would drift in and out of the audiobook. I really am excited to get to Golden Son in March! I definitely understand the hype and I tweeted at Pierce Brown that he deserves the Twitter abuse that he receives! Ha!

-Rachael

The Middle

A lot of blog journeys start from the beginning… mine starts from the middle.

I’m 30, pushing 31, I’ve had blogs and journals on and off since my early teen years (livejournal/xanga anyone?) I never keep up with them, but as of late, I’ve become super active on social media, specifically Bookstagram on Instagram. I’ve learned that publishers are really interested in book bloggers, not just bookstagrammers. Sometimes I wonder why, considering that Bookstagram gets SO MANY views for books, but I want to keep up with the times, so this will be where I talk about my life and talk about my books!

I’ve introduced myself a lot over the years and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m pretty damn basic. I love coffee, my kindle paperwhite, and did I mention drinking coffee?, Harry Potter, and most of all, I love my family.

I hope this blog is worth a shit. I think I might be a little more personal in my reviews here versus on Goodreads as I am more critical and leave a lot of my personal feelings out… but here, it won’t affect their overall star rating for a personal review. I also will warn people if this review contains spoilers. I get somewhat tired of not being able to review a book with spoilers, so BEWARE!

Rachael