Book Review: The Star Thief, Jamie Grey

Question for y’all: does it bother you that I pretty much only review books I really like? I just realized that by saying review, people might be expecting to see good and bad, but usually if I don’t like something I don’t see much point in sharing it with you guys – I’d rather flail excitedly over the ones I adore.

Unless I hear differently from you guys, I’ll just continue with the happy train.

Which, today, has a stop at The Star Thief!

starGoodreads summary: She might only be twenty-three, but Renna Carrizal is the most notorious thief in the galaxy. There’s just one problem – all she wants is to get the frak out of the business.

But when Renna rescues an injured boy from the warehouse she’s casing, she finds herself on the run from the mob instead of enjoying retirement on a garden world. Turns out, the kid was a plant to lead her to MYTH, a top-secret galactic protection agency.

MYTH needs Renna’s special skills, and they make her an offer she can’t refuse – unless she’d like to spend the rest of her life on a prison ship. To make sure she does her job they shackle her with a MYTH watchdog, the handsome but arrogant Captain Finn.

A former mercenary-turned-galactic-hero, Finn happens to have his own dirty secrets. Secrets that Renna wouldn’t mind uncovering for herself. Together, they discover an experiment to develop illegal cybernetics that will create an unstoppable army. The intended target? The human star fleet.

Now Renna must use her skills as the Star Thief to pull off the biggest job of her career – saving the galaxy. And herself.

Review: You guys, this book is something completely different from the kinds of stories I usually read, and I absolutely loved it! I’d been in a little bit of a slump of books that I liked okay but didn’t love – first world problem if ever there was one – and I had received a free e-book of this for a promotion, so I decided to give it a try. Let me stack it up for you: e-books make me dizzy, so I avoid them as a rule. I was in a reading slump and looking for a reason to put it down. I don’t read science fiction or books set in space – ever.  And, at the time, I was flat on my back with a deathly cold of death.

But The Star Thief blasted right past all the barriers and stole my heart. Right from the first page I fell into the story and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Renna is exactly the kind of main character I adore. She knows exactly what she wants, and she’ll do whatever she has to to achieve her goals, but at the same time she’s incredibly human and vulnerable in ways she can’t help. I love female characters who CAN do it all on their own, but realize that’s not any way to live, and have to figure out how to balance their strength with healthy reliance on others. The excitement and adventure was so fun, and I understand now why people love books set in space – Grey’s descriptions of the planets, cultures, people, and technology were incredibly believable, woven seamlessly into the story so that everything made sense, but the action never stopped for the explanation. The story had a number of delightful twists and turns, some heartbreaking moments, some very sweet and lovely encounters between Renna and the boy she’s trying to save, and the romance…wow, you guys. ROMANCE.

Right here I’ll note that I am a little old-fashioned and a couple scenes were just a little more detailed than I usually prefer, but it no way did it detract from the story or lower the quality of the writing. Just be aware those are included if you like the skim past those parts.

All in all, I really enjoyed this crazy, exciting, touching romp through space, and I seriously can’t wait for the next one in the series to come out! Even if you don’t typically read this kind of book, take a lesson from me and take a chance on The Star Thief. I think you’ll be glad you did!

greyThe Author: Jamie Grey spent most of her childhood writing stories about princesses who saved the day and pretending to be a daring explorer. It wasn’t until much later that she realized she should combine the two. Now, as a tech-obsessed gamer geek, her novels mix amazing scientific developments, future worlds, and the remarkable characters that live in them.

Jamie lives in Michigan with her boyfriend and their pets, who luckily tolerate her overspending on tea, books, and video games. You can learn more about her at www.jamiegreybooks.com, or follow her on twitter via @jamie_grey.

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Singlehood, Married-hood, and Being In the Hood

I know what you’re thinking – excuse me, but relationship status has nothing to do with writing, and that’s what the entire blog is about, particularly Mondays.

HA! I’ll show you.

For a writer, relationship status can be a huge thing. I can’t tell you how many people I see on Twitter lamenting that status, for a number of reasons. The ones who are married often wish for quiet times in the midst of the child and spousal chaos. They’re cooking and cleaning and driving and watching and helping with homework and giving baths and putting to bed and, when the rare times come for them to write, they are exhausted.

The ones not married/engaged/partnered lament their state of singleness. They make quips about loving their characters more than people and how their introversion ties them to their home/apartment, and every so often throw out a series of comments about loneliness and how difficult it is to meet someone.

THIS I KNOW.

I have been in both situations, more or less. I grew up in a household of many, many people, and I lived with my parents my senior year of college, following two years out of the home. Unsurprisingly, the most I can dredge up from that time is a few short stories and a couple novelish false starts. I know what it’s like to be surrounded by noise and movement and need and to be strongly considering breaking your own leg just to get a few days of invalid status in which you might have some quiet to write.

I am, at the moment, single. I know what it’s like to finish an awesome passage and have no one to share it with, or to wish someone else was around to remind you to eat, and to eat with you, and to pull you out of a funk when you have to write something dark and feel it sucking you in. I know what it’s like to become so accustomed to your own company that sometimes it’s hard to imagine sharing space with someone that intimately, and to be frightened of this truth.

I’m about to be one hundred percent cliche, so if you need to abandon ship, that’s okay. I might do the same thing in your place.

But please, try to find a place inside you in which you can be grateful for whatever life is offering you right now. Is it incredibly difficult to be so needed that you have no space to follow your own passion? Absolutely. But treasure it, because life is short and temporary, and our time to cherish one another and invest in each other might end much sooner than we think. And when you look back, at the end of everything, I can promise that you won’t be wishing you spent a little less time with people you love.

And is it incredibly painful sometimes to feel like you’re alone, hanging on to the edges of a world populated by people happier, more connected, and more loved than you? Absolutely. Very much so. But this is precious time you have to cultivate your gifts, and find myriad ways to share both your words and your experience with the world. And the more you look to put into the world, the more it offers back to you, and the more you reach out, the more you will be filled up.

These circumstances are the birth places of our words. Our own stories, the stories of the people around us, the reality of loneliness and the truth of too much need, are the true heart of everything we have to say. You would not be who you are without your circumstances – for better or worse. And if you don’t like who you are right now, in your particular place and time, know this – there may be very little you can do to change the circumstances. But you can always change you. And the more you change and grow, the more power you’ll give to your words.

As for being in the hood? Engage in the world. Pour out everything you’ve got and soak in as much as you can take. And when you can’t take it anymore, pull your hood up and nap a bit. Your words will thank you for it.

Book Review: Everything You Know

Everything You Know ~ Banner

Hi friends! So, first things first – I have apparently contracted the deathly illness to end them all, so if I’m a tad loopy here or something doesn’t look right, I’m so, so sorry – and when my head isn’t about to explode and I can breathe again, I will repair everything! Second things second – read on to find out about the very fun YA fantasy book I have for you today!

Everything You Know CoverTitle:  Everything You Know

Author:  Mary Beth Bass

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy (Romance)

Publication Date:  October 18, 2013

Publisher:  Boroughs Publishing Group

Event Organized by:  Literati Author Services, Inc.

 

handsome guy on the street~ Synopsis ~

NO ONE KNOWS EVERYTHING FOREVER

Emma Mathews never believed she was like everyone else, but neither did she think herself crazy. Meeting Joe Castlellaw, Henry Dearborn High’s newest student, was like waking on a cold rock in a strange place, the world bathed in liquid moonlight. Everything is different now…and fraught. Visions of a dark forest, a screaming woman and blood have begun to haunt Emma’s dreams, and not only at night. But Joe’s lonely beauty makes her float on air, and she would follow him anywhere–out of high school and through the great tree, to a world of poetry and political savagery, of magic and murder, to a life that is entirely theirs and yet unlike anything they have ever known.

Review: I thought EVERYTHING YOU KNOW was a great twist on classic fantasy novels. I very much enjoyed the grounding in the contemporary world prior to the fantasy elements being added, and Bass does a great job of being suspenseful as she incorporates those elements so the reader isn’t quite sure what’s happening. A sense of unpredictability is always a good thing. Despite all the adventure and excitement, the character development was strong and believable, and I appreciated that despite the slight sense of insta-love, it was justified by being rooted in tradition and custom, and Emma, the MC, still made it a point not to let herself get too swept away or allow Joe to make her make choices she wasn’t comfortable with. There were times where it felt as though some of the action was stilted and a few passages read more as a laundry list of actions than as a narrative, but for the most part the writing was smooth and the plot was strong enough to make up for a few rough spots. If you enjoy fantasy, mythology, adventure, portal stories, and/or romance, EVERYTHING YOU KNOW is the read for you!

Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | iTunes | All Romance

~ About the Author ~

Mary Beth BassMore than a little obsessed with Keats and Moby Dick and fueled by loud music and cold grey days, Mary Beth Bass is the author of young adult fantasy and romantic women’s fiction. Her debut paranormal-women’s fiction hybrid, Follow Me received the Book Buyers Best Award for Time Travel, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance.

An occasional travel writer, Mary Beth has written about Paris, Bordeaux, and Yorkshire, where she hiked the moors to the legendary setting for Wuthering Heights and stood breathless in the parsonage room where Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte talked out their stories with each other.

And if I seem a little strange, well that’s because I am.

Also loves octopuses.

Why Querying is a Business Proposition

The first thing you should know is that I am not an expert. As an unagented writer, I am clearly not to be considered well-versed in the art of querying. However, I have read approximately 1 gazillion articles on querying, been through several query critiques, entered various contests with some success, and read another 1 gazillion articles.

I have also read 1000gazillion tweets and blog posts about querying from the writer’s perspective. While many people are professional, others are not. Many writers seem to view querying as something upon which their entire universe rests. Some take it as a personal affront when agents reject them, and everyone feels a measure of sadness, loss and failure with every rejection.

I’m here to tell you you don’t have to feel like this anymore.

Does it get easier to be rejected? No. Will you still have some sad days, and sometimes just want to climb into your bed, pull the covers up, and quit the universe? Quite possibly.

But you don’t have to. You can learn to accept rejection in querying by viewing it in terms of the business world.

In business, or in other types of companies where projects are created or goods are sold, people need to form teams. They have to decide who has the highest quality product to offer – one which fits the niche they’re aiming for, which they feel best equipped to market to their consumers, and which they are excited about working on. If they’re on the production side, they have to choose who’s going to be best fitted to provide ideas, materials, marketing, and all the other components of a successful team.

In many of these arrangements, people have to take risks. They hinge the success of their project on the other people in their team, betting that each person will pull their own weight and bring the perfect components together to create something that both fits the need and captures the attention of whomever they’re working for.

Querying is no different than that. You, as the writer, have selected a group of people who you feel bring something very particular to the table. Whether it’s their sales record, their personality, or their editorial skills, you’ve seen something in each agent to whom you apply that makes you feel your project will benefit from a partnership with them. You choose them for their skills, and you ask them to join your team in putting forth a product which, together, you hope will satisfy a need and catch the attention of consumers.

So why should you be offended when that agent rejects you? Maybe it’s the word rejection that catches us. Rejection sounds deeply personal, like the stifling of a dream. Essentially what an agent does in rejecting a project is choose to work on a different project. It’s that simple, even when it doesn’t seem that way.

By choosing to query only certain agents, you’re effectively rejecting other agents. And if you query agents in rounds, and you’re on round two or three, you’re essentially asking people to join your team who are admittedly not your first choice. But agents understand this, because that’s the business. It works the same way for them when they query editors with books – it’s a business proposition, an attempt to ask certain people to join a team because of the unique skills and abilities they bring to the table. You have the same level of power in the querying relationship that an agent does, despite how it feels emotionally when the rejections are coming in. You can choose to work or not work with someone based on how strongly you feel about a project and what you feel the other person will contribute, just like they can.

And the thing of it is, rejection can mean all kinds of things. It might mean your book isn’t their taste – not all books are your taste either. It might mean it won’t sell right now, which is simply a fact of any market-based business. It might mean they feel they’re simply not equipped to give your work the best representation, and you should respect them for this choice, because you want the very best people bringing the very best skills to your project.

If agents are rejecting your work based on quality, take it under advisement. If your name is going on this thing – if you want to send a project into the world with your name on it, under your brand so to speak, you want it to be the very best that it can be. Rejection isn’t failure, it’s a chance to build up, improve, and move on.

The other reason an agent might reject your work, which is often the most painful and frustrating, is completely subjective – it just doesn’t strike them, and they like it but not love it, and they don’t have time for plain like, so they reject. While extremely difficult to deal with, especially repeatedly, you need to remember one thing – passion is everything. When you and an agent sign on together, you’re making a commitment to each other and to your book. You’re saying you’re willing to bet long nights, deep edits, and maybe a few tears that this book is worth supporting and bringing into the world. At least the agent, and maybe you, are betting your livelihood that your book is going to fit into the market and meet a need, that consumers are going to purchase it and it’s going to succeed. If passion isn’t driving that partnership, if the two of you are not equally in love with the story and equally firm in your belief that your book NEEDS to be in the world, an already difficult world is going to be misery. If an agent tells you they simply weren’t passionate about a project, try to look past that and remember that you don’t want an agent just to have one – you need a passionate business partner to make your project succeed.

In fact, behind everything you do as a writer, remember your passion. You’re going to have days when the words flow and days where you have to hew them out of rock. You’re going to have wild successes and epic failures. And sometimes you might cry a little bit. But you are doing something you love, something you believe in. And if the price of doing what you love the most is to stumble and fall a few times, so be it. Get up, and go on.

A Little PM Update

Hello, amigos!

I’m cooking up a series of posts on various things and such, but thought I would take a moment to let you know a few things.

The first: if you look right up by the top of this page, you’ll see two new tabs – BOOKS and ALL SOULS SEEKING. In the first, you will find fascinating tidbits about the books already written and the one currently stuttering it’s way out of me. In the second, you will find one of my short stories.

Please note – short stories, not a strong suit of mine. SOULS is not a great story, but it was one I enjoyed writing and one I love, warts and all – and since I think you guys are pretty great, I thought I’d share it with you.

The second: A friend and I have started a Shiny New Project – NA In The Real World! I’m super excited about this thing, which is a place to share your stories. Remember the time you ate an entire box of pizza solo because your final sucked? How about the time you locked the keys in the car and walked six miles only to realize your dorm key was on the same ring? Maybe you once had to walk out of Walmart, leaving behind a mounded cart of groceries, because your credit card was maxed out from moving expenses, and you sat in the parking lot and cried? (That last one…that so didn’t happen to me. Nope.)

Well, we want those stories! We plan to start collecting and sharing the unsexy, unsung, hardly-even-whispered tales of real-world New Adult experiences both via Tumblr and, if intriguing enough, through interviews right here. So come on…we know you’ve got some unfortunate memories of your attempts at this thing we call adulthood. Share away!

Tell Your Story

So, this is not much of a post, but it’s a little something for your Monday night. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the next two hours making fun of the people on The Bachelor.

Book Review: Draw Me In, Megan Squires

DrawMeInTourBanner2Hi Friends! Today’s review is for the New Adult romance, Draw Me In by Megan Squires. Be sure to scroll through to the bottom for a link to the fabulous giveaway!

Copy:

draw-me-in_megansquires_ebooksmDraw Me In
Megan Squires
Publication date: January 7th 2014

He’s a young, up and coming businessman with the keys to his family’s Italian wine enterprise.

I’m a fine arts student, navigating life in the Big Apple, my pencil and sketchpad in hand.

We meet. We fall in love.

But it’s not that story.

Sometimes, by a rare gift of fate, two lives cross paths. And hey, if that happens to occur when staring at Michelangelo’s naked masterpiece, even better. We can tell our future children how a seventeen-foot tall marble guy named David brought us together.

But there’s always more to a relationship than its beginning and ever after. In life, there’s a whole lot of backstory. There are ex-fiancés and hot roommates and family members whose advice continues, even beyond the grave.

When you say you love someone, it’s never just that one person you’re saying it to. And it’s never just that one moment that sets everything in motion.

There is always more that draws you in.

Review: Draw Me In is a sweet, light-hearted love story that does an excellent job of encompassing the internal upheaval people experience as they attempt to make their way into the larger world and figure out both who they are, and who they want to be. Julie and Leo both have their own hurts and hangups, but are able to see past those to love each other – and that love is not so perfectly selfless sometimes, which makes it all the more human and real.

There were some things I had a difficult time with – in general, Squires uses a great deal of description, which can be great for getting into the story, but other times seemed to bog the plot down and make it easy to get more confused, instead of less. The one thing in the story that really bothered me is a passage in which Julie breaks one of the machines at work and is, essentially, doused in the boiling hot water from inside, but then carries on as if nothing happened. I was screaming, “No! Emergency room, stat!” But aside from these things, Draw Me In is a fun read for lovers of romance and art, and has some definite deeper moments as well. Julie says at one point that other people carry makeup to change themselves, but she carries her art supplies to change the way she looks at things. This might hint at one of the most important themes in Draw Me In: the world, and the people in it, are basically what we make them to be. Don’t close doors, don’t build walls, and don’t give up – because love might be just about anywhere, no matter how unexpectedly.

meganThe Author: Megan Squires lives with her husband and two children just outside of Sacramento, California. A graduate from the University of California, Davis, Megan is now a full-time mother, wife, and dreamer–though her characters don’t often give her much opportunity to sleep

Click here for the awesome GIVEAWAY!