NaNoWriMo Tag

I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo this year and I saw PheobeWoodWrites on Youtube do this tag and it looked like a lot of fun. The original tag was created by Kristina Horner.

1. How many times have you done NaNoWriMo?

This year will be my second year taking part. My first Nano was in 2017.

2. How did you first find out about NaNoWriMo?

I’m not sure exactly, probably from Youtube since I follow a lot of Authortube channels.

3. What was the name of the first novel you attempted with NaNo?

Of all the Dark Realms

4. Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.

YA Ramayana retelling but from the Raksha’s side.

5. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

When drafting focus more or writing the story down rather than focusing on making your writing good. You can’t edit a blank page.

6. Did you ever take a year off from NaNo? Why?

No, I’ve only done it once before.

7. What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?

I just write what I want to write. Demons, magic, monsters and romance. A lot of my stories are similar to things I liked to read as a teenager and what I like to read and watch now.

8. Read us the first sentence from one of your novels.

This is from the story I’m writing for Nano. I’m adding 50k to my current MS rather than starting a new story. I know that’s a bad idea but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Lightning, like white spider webs crackling in the air, danced around Felix, and I watched with seething jealousy.”

9. Why do you love writing?

It’s fun mostly. I’m always thinking about characters and stories and it’s fullfilling to have all those vague ideas put down in words. Plus I use it to work through my feelings I can’t deal with on my own. Cheaper than therapy lol.

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo 2018? Have taken part in previous years? What are you planning on writing?

My username is Eshana Rabbit so add me as a writing buddy if you are taking part.

Darkling (port Lewis witches 1) by Brooklyn Ray

A deliciously dark fantasy NA novella (ebook) about a fire witch Ryder whose dark magic starts becoming uncontrollable. The story also focuses on his relationship with his best friend and circle mate Liam. M/M romance with a trans MC.

Summary from Goodreads/ Amazon

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

CW: self harm/blood letting (to cast magic), death (and resurrection)

Goodreads/ Amazon

This story feels very Fall. Port Lewis is very atmospheric and slightly creepy with talking trees and buzzing with magic.

The writing was very comfortable, not very flowery or complex, simple with a nice flow. The pacing itself, was even and a bit slow at time. This isn’t an action packed story but more focused on Ryder’s relationships with the people around him, his relationship with his magic and his magical identity. I liked how the magic was described. It felt like this aura like energy, that was fluid and could be projected and compressed at will. It was really interesting how it was used to express emotions and how the witches seemed to have a degree of communication that was purely through the feels of each other’s magic.

My favourite parts were the character interactions, especially Ryder’s interactions with Liam and his sister Jordan. Ryder and Jordan had some great banter.

Being NA there were some sexy scenes… Okay a lot of sexy scenes, but they were warm and fuzzy and gentle despite the cutting, biting, blood and Ryder’s necromancy urges to kill and resurrect. The sexy scenes itself were very well written and not shy about describing exactly what was happening and to/with which body part.

One thing that made me feel uncomfortable was the blood letting. I’m not sure why, I’m usually okay with blood in fiction. It wasn’t bad but it made me feel a bit queasy.

I enjoyed reading this a lot but I was still unsatisfied. It’s a vague feeling I had while reading it. It was great, and everything I wanted and expected but somehow I couldn’t fall for it completely. I’m giving it a 4/5,it was great and I highly recommend it especially during this time of year.

Mari’s Dance (Aegis Immemorial 0.2) by S R Jones

An exciting horror short story about monster hunting and Eldritch horror in S. R. Jones’ unique dark fantasy world. 5/5

‘Mari’s Dance: A Tale of Aegis Immemorial’ is the second adventure set in a unique world of dark fantasy and Eldritch horror. It is a world where the skies have not been clear for centuries, and terrible dangers drift in the void above. It is a world of scattered people hiding in sparse communities, too scared to gather together lest their homes become the next target of the meteors that rain down from above, and the predatory horrors that the cursed rocks birth when they land.
But not all who hunt are monsters. Danika Echo wanders the reaches of the north, a stranger in an unfamiliar land, seeking out the creatures that would otherwise hunt her kind to extinction. Alone in a forgotten forest, she finds herself drawn to investigate a tragedy of the past. But curiosity comes at a price, and disturbing the dead may cost her far more than she bargained for.
This is a 7000 word short story.

Goodreads / Amazon/ The Corpseriders Amazon/ The Corpseriders review

Review

While not a direct sequel and not necessary I would recommend reading the Corpseriders before reading this one. This ebook was free as well so you should definitely check it out!

Under the ruined, perpetually cloudy sky, the lands are plagued by monsters. Mari’s Dance is another adventure of Danika “Dan” Echo as she travels north hunting Falls, cursed meteors and the monsters they carry inside them.

I truly enjoyed every moment of this short story. The writing as a comfortable rhythm and pace but also grabs your attention and doesn’t let go until the end. Like in the corpserider, this story also details Dan coming across the remains of a Fall and the monster who was brought with it. While the writing is of the same quality I think the monster and Dan’s subsequent battle with it was much more satisfying than in the Corpseriders.

The descriptions of the monster was wonderfully grotesque and the way Jones slowly built up suspense and fear before we actually see the monster was remarkable. Especially how the nature (type) of the monster was never explained explicitly but clearly shown through it’s physical descriptions and behaviour. (Read this quickly so I can gush about the monster design in the comments)

While there isn’t as much world building and exposition as in the Corpseriders, the small glimpses we got were fascinating. A great amount of information is implied and not stated but remains clear.

S. R. Jones will be publishing a full length novel in this same world called Death’s White Hands following Dan (which includes a story about a succubus *screams with joy*) so make sure it’s on your radar!

Can’t Let Go by Chrissy Brown

A short self published NA romance novel about overwhelming attraction, heartbreak, growth and healing. 4/5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

Beau:
She’s beautiful, probably the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, but she’s damaged. Her a-hole exboyfriend broke her. It doesn’t matter thought. I still want her. I can show her that all men aren’t the same. That I’m different. But time isn’t on my side, I’ve only got a few weeks to make her mine before she’s gone forever.
Mallory:
He’s everything I need to stay away from, handsome, cocky, and irresistible. I try to resist him. I really do, but he’s relentless. Against my better judgment, I give in and let him have me. All of me. I should have known better.
Warning: Sex, drug, alcohol, violence, profanity, attempted sexul assault, domestic violence (talked about)

Published in 2018

282 pages

Review

This was a quick fun read. It is filled to the brim with emotions on the brink of overflowing.

Writing

CLG is written in first person present tense from both Mallory’s and Beau’s perspectives, mostly short chapters. It was easy to read but there is a lot of sexual language and profanity. (I haven’t read NA before so I’m not sure if it’s a convention of the genre.)

Characters

I enjoyed reading about the characters. They experienced really intense raw emotions that felt like a gut punch. They’re in their late teens and early twenties so their a bit impulsive and volatile and jump to conclusions.

They’re like their your friend who is sweet but makes so many bad decisions. You love them but at the same time it’s frustrating watching them fuck up over and over. I mean, it’s entertaining but still, make better decisions.

Plot

It’s a pretty standard meet, fall in love, breakup, get back together. The story however, starts at the present and then flashes back to the past and continues in a linear manner until it catches up to the present.

Overall

I would recommend this if you enjoy NA romance. I can easily imagine someone reading this in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

My favourite part was the growth Mallory’s experiences and how she faces her past as a stronger, more confident person.

The story also covers some pretty heavy topics like domestic violence, alcohol depency/abuse so be aware.

(minor spoilers: Mallory’s is damaged after breaking up with her abusive fiance and has a lot of baggage. And while Beau was nice and kind he was a bit emotionally unstable and immature, so while not necessarily problematic, neither of them seemed to be ready to be in this relationship.)

There is a sequel being released soon about one of the side characters. I’m not sure if I’ll read it since the teaser on the end of CLG didn’t really appeal to me.

The Corpseriders (Aegis Immemorial 0.1) by S. R. Jones

A spectacular short story and a stunning introduction into Jones’ world of magic, hunters and Eldrich monsters which fall from the sky. The short story is currently free on kindle as an ebook.

‘The Corpseriders: A Tale of Aegis Immemorial’ is the first adventure set in a unique world of dark fantasy and Eldritch horror. It is a world where the skies are dark and terrible things wait to rain down death upon the helpless land below. It is a world where the earth itself is poisoned, and danger lurks in the dark shadows, waiting to strike at the unwary.

But Danika Echo is no stranger to these horrors. A world-weary hunter who is far from home, she has travelled to the wild wilderness of the north looking to sate her restlessness. Now, it is up to her to uncover the secrets that hide among the valleys, and face a terrible truth that could end her adventures before they even begin.

This is a 7000 word short story

Published : October 2017

Mari’s Dance (Aegis Immemorial 0.2): RTC

Goodreads / Amazon/ Aegis Immemorial Website

Review

The Corpseriders details an adventure of Danika “Dan” Echo, a hunter who kills the Falls, monsters that literally fall from the sky. While working in a farm for food and keep as she travels north, she is told of something that might be a Falls, seen nearby.

I was stunned by how atmospheric and well written it was. The detailed descriptions had me cringing and gagging in the best way possible, a wonderful mix of horror and action. There was a remarkable amount of world building and mystery woven into the story, without being confusing or boring. It surprised me at every turn.

Rating: 5/5

It a quick read and you’re really missing out if you skip it. I’m jumping right into Mari’s Dance so expect a review soon.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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TW: Dead, gun violence

Hardcover: 306 pages
Published: October 24th 2017 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
ISBN: 1481438255 (ISBN13: 9781481438254)

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he?

As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually used his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?

Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

This was incredibly powerful and emotional. While written entirely in verse, there is a clear linear narrative. It speaks about gun violence, the cycle of violence, revenge and growing up in impoverished neighbourhoods.

After the death of his older brother Shawn, the protagonist takes his late brothers gun and sets out to take revenge on his brother’s murderer. Along the way he is visited by ghosts of his past, friends, family and strangers, all killed by gun violence.

Long way down was a quick read and I highly recommend it for getting out of a reading slump. While it discussed very emotional, important and heavy topics it was never unpleasant to read.

5/5 stars, I highly recommend it to everyone.

Incoherent Negative Rant: A darker shade of magic by V. E. Schwab

Cw: mention of abuse, assault, sexual violence, self harm

There are some books so bad you wish you could scrub from your memory. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

A darker shade of magic was painful, if I hadn’t read children of blood and bone it would have been the worst book I read so far this year.

Everything about this book from the writing, to the characters, to the plot, to the world was such a massive disappointment.

Writing

The writing was the least bad thing but it still bothered me. It was passable and even beautiful at time but it felt like she was using flowery language to add a whimsical, magic atmosphere to her story to distract from the poor world building and nothing plot. Not to mention a lot of the times the metaphors and similies made no sense. I distinctly remember a line that went along the lines of, “Holland made a sound, half way between a laugh and a smile.”

Now read that line and really think about how much nonsense it is. A smile isn’t a sound and the first sound one would associate with a smile is laughing.

Schwab would also go on and on about how black and dark things were, which on top of often being redundant they were sometimes so hyperbolic they made no sense. I get wanting to use flowery writing, and I don’t dislike flowery writing but if your metaphors make it harder for me to visualise what you are talking about you’ve messed up.

There were so many good ideas and so much potential but Schwab didn’t explore, develope and handle them well enough.

There was a lot of dark concepts, like abuse, mind control and assault in this story that was mostly glossed over. I found this so problematic, because not only were they often simply plot points or to show how “strong” the protagonist was, or how evil the antagonists were, the trauma and any emotional repercussion were ignored and the whole experience was trivialised. The story starts with Lila almost being raped by her landlord and her killing him! Yet it is brushed off and never comes up again. Lula barely even thinks about such a traumatic thing or feels remorse at killing someone! This not only made me uncomfortable by how it was handled but it made Lila unrelatable. I wished more people gave trigger/content warnings when they recommend this book so enthusiastically.

Characters

The characters were either incredibly boring (Kell), uncomfortable stereotypes (Rhy) and just plain hateful and annoying (Lila). I can’t even put into words how much I detest Lila so I’m going to focus on Rhy. Rhy was a fun likable character, but the only character trait/personality he was given that he was a promiscuous bisexal. As a bisexal myself, I felt so deeply uncomfortable by how completely he was defined by who he wanted to sleep with. Not to mention because he was given this one personality trait, all the characters around him defined him by his flippant behaviour/promiscuity so it read like every one including his brother and his guards were sexualizing him.

Kell had no personality beyond powerful Antari who is a bit of a whiny rich boy who is bored with his job and is a bit of a bro con. I also find it hilarious that he had more romantic tension with Rhy than Lila.

The villains were literal cartoon characters. They were so over the top evil I remember laughing while I read there sections. I also hate how Schwab coded Athos so explicitly as a gay rapist to show how terrible he was. Astrid also was a creep in the way she behaved and talked about Holland and Kell. Athos and Astrid have compulsion magic which they use to make Holland self harm so they could drink his blood for lols. It was lazy and over the top.

Plot

Pretty much a fetch magic item, carry magic item to certain place and defeat the dark Lord quest. Like LOTR but not as good.

There wasn’t anything special about the plot which was troubling since it’s a plot driven story. Everything felt a bit forced and way the characters got pulled into it was contrived.

(spoilers) we learn in the end that Kelly was given the black stone on the orders of the Dane twins. But my question is why was it necessary? They said it was so the black stone couldn’t be traced back to Holland and then to the twins but surely once they open a permanent door to the other London surely it wouldn’t matter? Besides wouldn’t Rhy’s mind control necklace be traced back to Holland anyway so not like they were being subtle about it. Plus, in then end the was Kell defeated the magic trying to take over his body was so simple I was annoyed why he didn’t think of it earlier. (spoilers over)

World

The main reason I found ADSOM so disappointing was how bare and uncreative the worlds were. Schwab has good ideas but insisted on not developing it at all. I read it because I wanted to see how she handled the multiple worlds because I’m writing a book with parallel worlds and omfg this book had so little world building.

Schwab distracts the reader by making the story very atmospheric but if you try and actually think about it everything falls apart. Why does Kell need to go to grey London? I don’t want the books reason, think of a reason why the royal family would want to send their precious Antari to a world they don’t care about, they don’t trade with, they don’t war with, they have no need or want or gain any advantage by communicating with them, so why send Kell to Grey London? To bring Lila into the story, that’s why.

Red London lacked any character or uniqueness. The only thing that distinguished it from any other generic European fantasy city was it smelled of flowers and had a magic glowing River. Why do they sell vials of the water from the Isle in the Red London market when the Isle is close by! I’m not sure the exact distances but it felt like it was barely a mile away. I know these are small nit picks but there were so many things that sounds good but don’t fit into the world or simply don’t make sense. It was all style over substance.

How the magic was used also bothered me so much. Kell and Holland are Antari and trained to wield magic. Why was it then, that people with so much magic were so uncreative with how they used it? Not to mention when they got the stone they could do literally anything but still the things they made were so boring. Why not make giant gollems, or ships made of ice? Why didn’t they turn castles into dust and raise armies made of smoke and fire? Why were there not intricate illusions? No cages made of sound and heat? Why not create sink holes and tornadoes? Schwab never made is clear what the limits of the Antari were, she only made it clear her over powered magic users were boring.

I think, I would have enjoyed this book more (or at least hated it less) if I didn’t have any expectations going in. I was so hyped for this story, so ready to love it and Stan it but… It was so much nothing. It was pretty on the outside but filled with hot air. It’s biggest failing was its characters and my detachment from the characters was probably why I noticed so many other flaws with the story.

It’s not a bad book. A solid 3/5 but it’s not a good book. I wish I never read it and only had this idea of it being this wonderful, incredible, magic dream and not a bad memory.

Soon after I read this I read children of blood and bone which I hate so much more. And after two bad fantasy books in a row it honestly made me question whether I even like fantasy and if I should stop writing it since what’s considered good fantasy, made me so miserable. It put me into a reading slump I just got out of. I didn’t even write a review on goodreads because my experience reading it was so unpleasant.

If you liked ADSOM great! I wish I could say the same.