Friday, August 12, 2016

#WritersLife: Back to Academia!


#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

This news has been in the making for a little while, and I'm so excited to announce that I am no longer unemployed! Cue confetti and celebratory imaginary GIFs because I can't seem to understand how they work.

Starting August 22, I will be a writing tutor for the community college here in Fort Worth. I finalized the paperwork this week and met with some of the tutors at the center to get a feel for it.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you may know I worked at the community college in El Paso after I earned my degree. It was at this writing center that I remember first hearing about Eric's gaming blog and took on the challenge to have more page clicks than him. I didn't think it would become an endeavor that I'm still doing two years later, but oh my word it's been two years since this blog started.

Moving forward, I am beyond excited to work with this college not only because the Academic Learning Center (ALC) is so chill and welcoming, but also because this campus is gorgeous!

Tarrant County College Northwest campus - photo by Amber the Blonde Writer
The view of the reservoir!

The campus is directly next to the reservoir. When I pull into the parking lot, I see this beautiful body of water and lush greenery everywhere. Not only that, but the ALC is located on the third floor so I can look out the windows and see the water whenever I want!

And the inner campus is just as breathtaking! 

Tarrant County College Northwest campus pond - photo by Amber the Blonde Writer
This pond is right in front of the doors to the ALC building!

I'm excited to get back into academia because I know it's more stable than marketing or publishing. That and the team has been so friendly and sweet. As the semester goes, I'll update on how things are going, but I'm about to be super busy.

I'm doing 19 hours a week tutoring for the moment, and I'm still putting in 24-30 hours a week at the warehouse. At this rate, I'll be reading manuscripts when I get home and then going straight to bed.

I keep trying to get back to the writing grind, but there have been so many hiccups, good and bad. In fact, this whole summer has been a hiccup. Since May I've been going nonstep, jumping between jobs, traveling across the country, and collecting all the Pokemon. I'm hoping with a full time schedule between these two positions, I can find the stability I've been craving and can focus back on my life again.

Remember guys: your life is solely yours. Don't hold back what you're destined to do or be because of other people or fear or comfort. Get out there and do everything you can so you have even more experience to draw from when you face difficult decisions. 

And if you're a believer, it also helps to remember that no matter what, God's got this. You just have to let Him do what's best so you can get out there and be your best.

#writerslife



Other posts you may enjoy:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Daughter of the Pirate King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a pirate book because pirates are my kryptonite!

Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling
Amber the Blonde Writer - Waiting on Wednesday - Daughter of the Pirate King
YA adventure.


If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

Why I'm Waiting:


I'm a sucker for pirate books and always have been. The fact that pirates will be taking over YA in 2017 has me all sorts of excited! I know this cover isn't final, but I really just wanted to share the book. Female lead with sword-buckling escapades? Yes please!

What books are you waiting on?


Other posts you may like:

Friday, July 8, 2016

#WritersLife: New WIP and Book Recs

Amber the Blonde Writer - #WritersLife

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

Hello, lovelies! It's been awhile, but a lot of good things have happened since my last posts so let's get to it.

Firstly, my personal life is going very well. I had a phone interview yesterday and an in person one this coming Monday. I've been temping at a warehouse, but a job related to my field would be spectacular! Both involve schools: one is to be a teacher's aide in a elementary or high school, and the other is for an instructional writing aide at the local college. Clearly I'm not done with school yet.

Secondly, Pokemon GO released two nights ago and my brother and I are becoming Pokemon masters! My Squirtle is in the top percentage at CP 55, and Broski just evolved his Pidgey. We're practically experts, just saying. You can find more up-to-date info on my Pokemon training journey on Instagram. We plan on going out with his friends to the park this weekend to catch more!

With those important updates out of the way, let's jump into the words!


New WIP and DIY MFA


I downloaded the DIY MFA starter kit back in June, and while I've read it through, I took it one step further today and wrote down my writing goals and some of my reading requirements.

Reading during my undergraduate years helped me learn about craft, and reading YA novels after graduation helped me understand what's out there now and how these writers are making things work. 

I read a ton of fantasy and science fiction novels, but I write an even mix of fantasy and contemporary stories. I decided to take a break from my YA SF rewrites for personal reasons and get back into a writing routine with a new piece. Er, an old but new now piece.

In college, I wrote a short story called Blonde Hairs told from the perspective of a guy in a relationship. While the girlfriend is never present in the story, he finds blonde hairs throughout his day that remind him of her. I spoke with a friend about it, and he suggested showing more of the bad memories too. After thinking it over, I believe this story would benefit more with a novel or novella structure than a short story structure. 

I'm working on the outline first to gauge how long it may end up being, but I want to read more contemporary stories. Unfortunately, as I said above, I don't read a whole lot of them. I know Rainbow Rowell is huge and I heard those stories are fantastic, but that's really the extent of my knowledge.

This story centers on a relationship, but not necessarily the steamy romance if you know what I mean. I'm thinking of a story like One Day where individual growth is as important as the relationship growth. There's also a non-linear plot, so perhaps The Time Traveler's Wife could also help me in writing this story. 

I think it'll best match the New Adult genre, so I am welcome to book suggestions that are from YA, NA, or Adult. Any and all things will help. I want to capture the fun and youthfulness of love while also highlighting the mature and adult side of it. 

If you know of any books or authors that may fit in with a contemporary, romance, or non-linear plot structure, please let me know! No Harlequin please; I don't need sex stories. Of any kind. Ever. Erotica is not my cup of tea. I giggle too much.

New story. New goals. New Pokemon. Er, old ones that I can now catch. Seriously though, I think my reward will be every 1,250 words written, I get one hour with Pokemon GO. 

Gotta write 'em all!



Other posts you may be interested in:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Vassa in the Night

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a retelling based on a Russian fairy tale!

Title: Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Genre: YA Retelling
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Add to Goodreads
 

Goodreads summary:

 
Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: Vassa in the NightIn the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.
 

Why I'm Waiting:

 
Russian retelling? I am all over that! I love the influx of Russian stories this year.
 
What books are you waiting on?
 
 
 
Other posts you may like:
 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: This Savage Song

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a new novel by a super talented author!

Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabThere’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Why I'm waiting:


I love Schwab's writing style and character development. Not only that, but this novel sounds so haunting when I read about monsters versus humans because so many humans have demonstrated monstrous qualities. I'm so ready to see how Schwab dissects that!

What books are you waiting on?



Other posts you may like:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Mirror in the Sky

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a novel that hits me right in the feels!

Title: Mirror in the Sky
Author: Aditi Khorana
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: Mirror in the SkyFor Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara's life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth--and for Tara--will ever be the same again.


Why I'm waiting:


I read this novel early last year and it's the first manuscript I'd ever read that was published this largely. I am so excited to finally be able to see it on the shelves!

What books are you waiting on?



Other posts you may like:

Friday, June 3, 2016

#WritersLife: Beautiful moments



Life is full of beautiful moments. Sometimes those moments involve people, events, or places. Sometimes they involve beliefs, emotions, and magic. And sometimes, those beautiful moments are all we have left after change.

I don't know who will be in my life 1 year from now. I don't know who will be by my side in 5 years or who I will enjoy dinner with in 20 years. I don't know if I'll even be around in 20 years, or in 5 years, or even this time next year.

But being grounded is what will stop me from relying too much on the who's in my life. I know what I want to be: an author, a Christian, a good friend. I know how I can get there: writing, believing, listening, laughing. I know why: because these are the things that have always been inside me, even before I knew what they were.

I don't know when certain things will happen, but timing is always out of our control. If we spend our entire lives planning, we will never get it right, because just like we can't control the when, we never have control over the people around us.

Sometimes we trust people who only know how to hurt us. Sometimes we love people who can't love us back. Sometimes we share our soul with someone who changes their mind. Sometimes, we wake up and realize that we're facing the world alone, and while we don't understand why we are, it's important to remember that these people don't have to control your life. That's all on you.

I know love is simple, it always has been. If you love someone, you care for them, protect them, listen to them, and spend as much time as you can with them. Love is never complex, but the people are. Just because someone says they don't love you back, it doesn't mean the love was wrong, just that they are the wrong person to be in your life.

I've spent a lot of time in prayer since January. Something I've learned from God is that even when He doesn't intend for someone to be permanent in our lives, He does intend for us to grow from the experience. He won't send someone you believe is wonderful just to hurt you later when they choose someone or something else. He does it to show you that as wonderful as you thought they were, you're even more so because you loved unconditionally and are still able to see the beautiful world around you.

Pain doesn't go away overnight, or in a week, or even in years. There may always be someone you think of and feel a pang of sadness, and that's okay. You can't control the who's that come into your life, but you can control who you will be and how others will view you. You know the phrase: if you want a friend, be a friend. If you want to be surrounded by great, caring people, be someone who is great and caring.

Do I think some people are stupid for making choices that take me out of their lives? Certainly. I know my worth, but I'm also grateful to know how they feel now rather than after I've invested 5 years in them. My time is valuable because I'm not guaranteed tomorrow. And if someone doesn't see how beautiful you are, be grateful you were able to see some beauty in them before they walked away.

I have a lot of stress in my life right now. I have health issues, an unemployment status, bills to pay, and family problems like everyone else, but not everyone will be able to walk your path with you even if you helped them walk their own. It hurts. I know. But you know what? Keep on helping people with their stresses because as badly as you need it right now, you'll come across someone who will be willing to help you too, and that one will be the one who chose to love unconditionally just like you.

Love others. Love yourself. Love life.

And above all, know that so many people already love you right now.

#WritersLife: Meeting Author Jenny Martin

#WritersLife - Amber the Blonde Writer

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

Last month I met the wonderful Jenny Martin in Irving, Texas and it was one of the most magical moments in my life!

Amber the Blonde Writer: #WritersLife: Meeting Author Jenny Martin at Irving Public Library
Irving Library's awesome technical display for Jenny Martin.

The Irving Public Library is an amazing place and its staff is some of the sweetest people I've ever met. If you're in the DFW area of Texas, I highly recommend following them to know what their author series are because they have a ton!

They started off this event very similar to the Marissa Meyer event I attended in February. Super yummy cupcakes, Marked nail art, book cover rings (my favorite!), and book pins were available before Jenny Martin started speaking. I bought both of my copies of Tracked and Marked at the event and those covers are gorgeous!

We listened to Jenny and her partner-in-crime, Julie Murphy, discuss the questions we had over the ending of Tracked and what the next book meant for Jenny. She said that the sequel focuses on staying strong after adversity. It's a message that I desperately need to hear right now, and for that reason I am terrified of starting this novel.

Amber the Blonde Writer: #WritersLife: Meeting Jenny Martin and hearing her speak about Marked
Jenny Martin signing a fan's copy of Marked.
Jenny did not divulge which of the men will be around in the end, but I know in my heart Cash is the
only logical option here.

I waited in line to speak with her after the Q&A, and I suffered some serious speechlessness when I reached the table.

I walked up with my books, and I'm not sure I even formed the word 'hi' before Jenny said that she knew me. I said, "Yeah, we talk on Twitter." She responded with she remembered me from Twitter, but hadn't we met in person yet? When I said no, she said that she was so excited to meet me and that she wanted to give me a hug.

Jenny Martin. Wanted to give me. A hug.

I still haven't accepted that as a reality and continue to believe this was a huge elaborate daydream.

Jenny signed my books and we talked about Tracked and Marked and other car books and she said she loved my review of Tracked and I think I blacked out but can't remember. I do know I called my mom immediately after to cry and tell her how amazing this experience was.

I am so glad I was able to meet Jenny. I've haven't been working on the rewrite, but I'm hoping this night will encourage and push me to get back into it because writing has always been my passion, and I cannot let other people discourage me from doing something I've loved for so long.

If you ever get the chance to meet Jenny Martin, jump on that train! You need this series in your life!

Jenny Martin:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Have you read Tracked? What's your favorite racing novel?



Other posts you may like:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Three Dark Crowns

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a fantasy novel about triplet queens!

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Add to Goodreads
 

Goodreads summary:

 
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry
flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.  
 

Why I'm waiting:

 
I love reading novels about royalty, whether it's fantasy or historical. I can't wait to see how the fantasy elements play into this story!
 
What books are you waiting on?
 
 
Other posts you may like:
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Carve the Mark

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about the new novel from the author who inspired me to write book reviews for a blog!

Title: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Add to Goodreads
 

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: Carve the Mark by Veronica RothOn a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuve, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive — or to destroy one another.
 

Why I'm Waiting:

 
It's Veronica Roth. My author wife although we are now divorced following the ending of Allegiant. Basically, this woman and Marissa Meyer are two authors whose books I will buy before I even read the synopsis.
 
What books are you waiting on?
 
 
 
Other posts you may like:
 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Architect of Song

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about an NA read from one of my favorite authors!

Title: The Architect of Song
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: NA Paranormal 
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Add to Goodreads
 

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: The Architect of Song by A.G. HowardA lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower -- intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.
 

Why I'm Waiting:

 
I love NA novels that don't focus on sex. I love A.G. Howard. I love love stories that don't quite make sense on paper. I love anything Nathalia Suellen creates and I am so happy she and Howard are working together on these novel covers. Basically, I can't find any reason to not love this release!
 
What are you waiting on this week?
 
 
 
Other posts you may like:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Title: Scarlett Undercover
Author: Jennifer Latham
Genre: YA Mystery
Release Date: May 19, 2015

Source: I recieved a digital copy from Netgalley (THANK YOU and sorry it took so long to get this up)
Purchase from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


Amber the Blonde Writer: Book Review of Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer LathamMeet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks -- and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father's murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.
 

My review:


I LOVED this story! From the old school film noir narrative to Scarlett's blend of Muslim and street kid, this book is one everyone should read.

It starts off in Scarlett's office, listening to Gemma Archer explain her brother's strange behavior and the recent suicide that may have actually been murder. Scarlett takes to the streets of Las Almas to figure out the truth along with the help of various friends: Delilah the diner owner with her son Decker, Scarlett's older sister Reem, and the friendly officer Emmet, among a dozen others.

The voice, like I said before, reminds me of the black and white detective movies. From the classic lines of, "She asked if I knew what I was doing. I said I did," to the beautifully constructed similes that occured on every other page, this narrative was on point to match the old school mysteries and private investigator stories we all tried to copy in thick, cigarette-mouthed accents. It was always flawless.

Coming from Scarlett, a Muslim American trying to fight her faith, her ethereal voice was grounded in reality. She's a young woman trying to figure out what she can do after the deaths of her parents, and if not for those around her, she may have traveled down a much darker and less forgiving road. She struggles in her beliefs, but she knows her loyalties and family. I fell in love with her and would be her Watson any day.

In addition to Scarlett, all the characters played crucial roles. Every person got a name, and I loved that even if someone was only in the story for three pages, they got a name because they were a person and deserved one. I can't express enough how I connected with so many of the minor characters because of this small detail.

The plot gets heavy really quick, and while I couldn't believe everything that was happening, I realized it didn't matter. Once I looked at the situation from a detective's sharp eye, I realized that so long as innocent lives were in danger, my belief needed to be suspended. In the end, I was nodding my head along with Scarlett, satisfied with everything that happened even if I was still a little confused.

Islam plays a large role in Scarlett's character, and I think she was portrayed well. I've known women who fought the hijab, and those same women continued on to be the ones who would never be seen without it. Scarlett's views of her religion matched mine at her age, where I didn't know what to believe or why I should. I connected with her because of that. 

Overall, this story was beautiful and a super fast read that I finished in about a day. I loved it. And I already have to stop myself from rereading it so I can move with my TBR pile.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars




Other posts you may like:
  • Book Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (YA science fiction)
  • Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (YA retelling of Labyrinth)
  • Book Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (YA fantasy)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a Japanese historical tale!

Title: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale
Author: David Kudler
Genre: YA Historical-Fantasy
Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary


Risuko.
Amber the Blonde Writer - Waiting on Wednesday: Risuko by David Kudler

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems. 

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Why I'm Waiting


I'm not sure if this is taking on a samurai tale or not, but anything related to Asian history has me hooked. Japan has so much history and I can't wait to see how this author handles it!

What books are you waiting on?



Other posts you may like:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: Salt & Stone

Title: Salt & Stone
Author: Victoria Scott
Series: Fire & Flood #2
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Release Date: February 2015

Source: I borrowed a physical copy from the public library
Purchase from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


Amber the Blonde Writer - Book Review of Salt and Stone by Victoria ScottHow far would you go to survive?

In FIRE & FLOOD, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and a terrifying march across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't stop - and in SALT & STONE, Tella will have to face the unseen dangers of the ocean, the breathless cold of a mountain, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the beginning of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the fourth and final part of the race, just forty-one are left . . . and only one can win.

My review:


This book picked up where the first one ended. We jump back into Tella's excursion of the Brimstone Bleed and jump into the remaining two territories: sea and mountain. So much changed in this novel, and they were definitely good!

Firstly, we see Tella really come into her own. She takes charge, she challenges Guy, and she sets up emotional barriers between her and other contenders. After wanting to put down Fire & Flood because of her lack of maturity, I was pleased that she grows up and becomes a strong young woman while still maintaining her love for all things frilly and sparkly. 

Also, the romance remains innocent and PG-13 and I love it! I am a sucker for puppy love level of affection, and this book delivers. If you're someone who needs sex and messy make-out sessions to get into your fantasy or sci-fi, this story is probably not for you. I, however, like having smidges of romance in my action.

The plot thickens as more and more characters are becoming key players and the true enemies are revealed. The story ended on a major cliffhanger, and I found out the third book wasn't bought by the publisher. However, the plot still felt a little light for me, but that may be because we see everything through Tella's eyes and she doesn't take a whole lot seriously.

Overall, it was better than the first. I was so glad Tella aged up and took control of her circumstances!

Rating: 4 / 5 stars




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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Caraval

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a fantasy show that I would love to see!

Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


Amber the Blonde Writer - Cover of Caraval by Stephanie GarberBefore you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Why I'm Waiting:


This story sounds like so much fun! I recently saw La Reve in Las Vegas and if this could be a fantastic YA version, I am definitely down!

What books are you waiting on?


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a goblin-infused marriage!

Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary


Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the
Amber the Blonde Writer - Cover of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.


But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Why I'm Waiting


Goblins are usually overlooked so that intrigued, but I was also drawn to the idea of sacrificing life over passion. Most people might think life is greater, but without my writing, I would have no passion for things to pursue and most importantly, I wouldn't know how to help or connect with others because writing is how I try to do that. This book sounds like it will be spectacular!

AND THAT COVER. STUNNING.

What books are you waiting on?


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss

Title: The Winner's Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
Release Date: March 2016

Source: I borrowed a physical copy from the public library
Purchase from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?


My review:


This is the final book, so I'm skipping over the summary.

I love Arin. He's wonderful and compassionate and so forgiving and selfless.

Oh, and the politics and intrigue! Oh this story ended so well! I don't want to go into anything that would give the story away, but I do want to highlight what made me rate this installment higher than the previous two.

Most YA series (specifically trilogies, I don't know why) end vaguely and years after the fact. Take Hunger Games. It ends about twenty years after the final act with some sense of "I feel like I can be normal but maybe not but we'll see." So many books end this way. Allegiant ended very brokenly, and while I cried in that book, I needed more concreteness. Think of it like life: we may feel broken on the inside, but life keeps going around us and we're forced to face it.

The Winner's Kiss faced it. 

The ending carried through after the final "act." It showed the weeks following the ending for the characters. Yes, there were many emotional moments of division and misunderstanding, but the characters pushed through because life wasn't waiting around for them. I love that Rutkoski let the novel keep going after the fact because that's how we all live. We get accepted into college, we land a great job, there isn't a huge stain on the shirt we pulled on in the dark without checking, and these moments make us feel victorious, but we are expected to live the way we were before.

Life goes on, and I'm so glad this story did to let us get a glimpse of how we somehow need to function in society again even though, with this series over, THERE IS NO MORE ARIN AND WHAT DO I DO WITH MYSELF?!

But read it. No, really. Die slowly on the inside with me. It's wonderful. 

Rating: 5 / 5 stars



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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Star-Touched Queen


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a story that focuses on Indian folklore that I absolutely want!

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA Fantasy-Mythology 
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:


Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only
seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . . including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
 

Why I'm Waiting:


Again, I minored in Asian Studies for a reason, and my country of concentration was India. A YA fantasy based on Indian mythology and folklore? I'm going to be all over that. YA writing and Indian-inspiration--it sounds like the perfect arrangement!

What books are you waiting on?



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