Keep an eye out here and on my Instagram & Twitter accounts for weekly additions to #MuseMondays. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite books, authors, music, movies, and more. Inspirations for both my writing and what I grab to read when I want to escape from the daily mundane.
Today, it’s Josephine Angelini’s “Starcrossed”, a young adult trilogy that I’ve read and re-read multiple times. Add it to your TBR list today; it’s a fun twist on traditional Greek mythology.
Reading on the weekend is more than just a way to relax, it’s an essential part of my existence. While some people may look forward to heading out to the movie theater on a Friday or Saturday, I begin anticipating and planning my weekend reading around Tuesday morning (usually after a particularly long session completing a freelance project.)
This weekend I’m getting a late start. Freelance commitments, family life, and writing new words in my own WIP, pushed back my weekend reads until now. In addition, I wavered on which book to begin. I seriously was leaning towards rereading Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy. It’s one of my favorite YA trilogies and if you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. You can check out my review of the first book here. Angelini’s trilogy focuses on Greek mythology and that seems to be what I’m in the mood for. However, I really wanted to read something that is new to me.
My son left the first three books of the series with me several months ago and they’ve sat there in my TBR pile since. I’m excited to begin reading this series, which means this post will not be much longer. The series begins with The Lost Hero, so keep an eye out here for my review of this first book. I’ve got high hopes for it and am ready to dive in.
What are you reading this weekend? Share the titles and/or links in the comments. I’m always looking to add to my TBR list.
My first middle-grade book, MURPH MEETS A DEMON is complete! It features a 12-year old girl from Normal, Illinois who is smart, feisty, and loyal to her family and friends. When she learns the women in her family are demon hunters, her life gets complicated. MURPH MEETS A DEMON is my Pitch Wars 2019 entry and will be featured in the Agent Showcase on February 6, 2020.
Young Adult Books
LIES & MAGIC, the first book in my YA duology is complete while book two, ROGUES & ALLIES approaches the finish line. The LIES & MAGIC duology is a contemporary light fantasy with elements of magic, twisted family dynamics, and a bit of romance.
Other YA projects are in the works as well, including a stand-alone YA mystery set at a summer arts camp and another stand-alone with a mythological focus.
“It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.”
(Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Chapter 0005, page 60)
Fun and entertaining—Ready Player One by Ernest Cline delivers more than just a nostalgic look at the games and pop culture from my childhood. The story is as immersive as the fictional OASIS, a mix of dystopia and sci-fi with plenty of action and references to satisfy my inner geek.
I did not read the book before I saw the movie and I’m glad I saw the movie first. Full disclosure, I really enjoyed the Ready Player One movie directed by Steven Spielberg and I’ve watched it multiple times. It’s the movie that prompted me to check out the book and want to read it; and I’m really glad I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.
My advice: Don’t go into reading the book expecting to find the movie jammed between the pages. While they share the same title, characters, and overall theme, the Ready Player One book and movie really are two separate entities, both with their own merits.
Now, if you read the book first, I can see why maybe you didn’t care for the movie. Or maybe you did. Whatever. It’s my review and I liked them both, but have no issue keeping them as two different stories.
Let’s get back to the book. I liked it and plan to re-read it because there’s a lot to take in. It’s very detailed (okay, at times rambling) but I enjoyed the references and it didn’t take long for me to become invested in the journey of Wade Watts.
Wade Owen Watts (yes, his initials are W.O.W. and how fun is that when they’re entered into the high scorers screen of an old-school video game) spends his free time in the OASIS: the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation. It’s 2044 and the world is a mess due to many factors including the Global Energy Crisis. The OASIS is a virtual utopia where humans can escape their depressing reality. Its creator has died but left behind a challenge; a game for gamers. If they can find the Easter egg Halliday hid in the OASIS, they inherit his vast fortune.
Halliday left three keys that had to be found followed by challenges to be won/solved before moving to the next key. Wade is on the hunt, one of the “gunters” going for egg, and his OASIS avatar is known as Parzival or “Z”.
Along with his best friend Aech (pronounced like the letter “H”) and other gunters known as Art3mis, Shoto, and Daito, they vie to reach each key and claim the ultimate prize. Throw in the corporate baddies and their leader Sorrento and the race is on.
The book is told in first person from Wade/Parzival’s perspective. It’s extremely detailed, almost too much at times, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the overall story and rooting for Wade to get to that egg and not let Sorrento win.
Do I recommend Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? Yes, I do for fans of light sci-fi that’s filled (brimming!) with 80s pop culture and gamer references.
“When you know as much as we do, how can you ever decide to just . . . stop? Stop fighting? Stop trying to help? Once you’re in, you can’t turn your back on it.”
(Slayer, by Kiersten White, Chapter 17, page 224)
I really liked Slayer by Kiersten White and I say that as a huge fan of both the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie from 1992 and the long-running series—and I did watch all of Angel. I haven’t read the comics or graphic novels, so if you haven’t either, no worries. You won’t be lost, just maybe a bit surprised at few things that have gone down since Buffy, the slayers, and the Scoobies closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale.
Slayer offers a different look at the Buffyverse, centered on what’s left of the Watchers and what happens when the last slayer becomes activated. Set primarily at and near the Watcher’s Academy, not far from Dublin, twins Artemis and Athena have grown up there. Their mother is on the now very small Watcher’s Council (remember the majority of Watchers were blown up?) and their father was a Watcher too.
Before he died. Protecting his slayer. Buffy.
Artemis and Athena, nicknamed Nina, are the only children of Buffy’s first Watcher, Merrick.
As children of Watchers, the twins’ lives have definitely not been normal, nor has their education. Artemis has trained in weapons and combat, while Nina has been more protected and has a natural hand (and preference) for healing. They’ve dealt with tragedy throughout their young lives, from the death of their father to the devastating fire that almost killed Nina because their mother chose to save Artemis first.
Their world shifts again after Buffy destroys the Seed of Wonder and magic is purged from the world and all portals and hellmouths are closed. However, moments before it’s destroyed, something happens to Nina. She’s now the last slayer, and she never even knew she was a potential. It comes as a bit of shock, once she finally notices. It takes her a bit.
Slayer combines all the elements I have come to know and love from the Buffyverse and then adds a few twists that, for me, worked. There was ample teen angst, relationship issues, and jealousies flouncing about as well as parental units and Watchers that relentlessly get in the way.
I loved the supporting characters, in particular Cillian and Rhys as well as demon Doug. I never fully warmed up to Artemis, but that’s okay. I don’t think she’s completely likable. Then again, Nina definitely has her moments when you want to slap her upside the head as well—but let’s be truthful, there were times we wanted to slap Buffy too.
Kiersten White plays homage to the original Buffyverse nicely. I particularly enjoyed the dream connections and the interaction Nina gets with both Faith and Buffy. Slayer has plenty of action, the right amount of snark and wit, and plenty of heart. Loved the reveal of the “hunter” at the end and look forward to seeing how this all plays out in future stories.
If you’re a fan of any Buffy the Vampire Slayer stories, then definitely check out Slayer by Kiersten White. Also White is the author of one of my favorite (and often re-read) YA series: The Paranormalcy Series. I highly recommend it, you’ll totally love Evie and she always reminded me a bit of Buffy.
“Gabe didn’t always agree with the method the girls employed in their assistance, but he couldn’t argue with the results.
They always acted out of kindness, love and charity—
but they always acted.”
(Chapter 9, page 178, The Book of Answers by A.L. Tait)
The Book of Answers by A.L. Tait is the second book of the Ateban Cipher duology and an action-packed adventure filled with intrigue, suspense, friendship, and fun. Author A.L. Tait takes readers on a journey they won’t soon forget.
Gabe, Gwyn, Merry, Scarlett, and Midge are on the run again. Along with Eddie, the son of the king, the group journeys to a remote place named Haydon’s Mont where they hope to uncover the secret behind the mysterious book Gabe must protect at all costs. Hunted by their enemies, they face terrible dangers and must use all their cunning and bravery to get Eddie the documents he needs to regain his crown and survive long enough to rescue Merry and Scarlett’s dad from execution. Gabe discovers the truth about his own birthright and pushes himself to new levels of valor to help save his friends, their families, and the king while protecting the precious Book.
I really enjoyed The Book of Answers from start to finish, and then wished there was more. It’s a great escape from our modern world and I love being swept into a story that takes me on a journey. From our band of heroes trek to Haydon’s Mont to the outlying villages and the great courtyard at Rothwell Castle, author A.L. Tait delivers exciting action sequences, witty dialogue, and characters to like, love, and even detest—because you can’t have an adventure story without a few bad guys giving chase.
If you’re a regular reader of my book reviews, you know I don’t do spoilers. I will tell you that the secret behind the Book is pretty cool and how the book can be read, is even better.
Pick up the Ateban Cipher duology today. I highly recommend The Book of Answers and loved how the two books effortlessly merged into one grand adventure.
Please visit author A.L. Tait at her website for links to The Book of Secrets and The Book of Answers as well as her not-to-be-missed books: The Mapmaker Chronicles.
“Your head can be turned, your heart can be wooed, but your gut never lies.”
(Merry, chapter 4, page 61 of The Book of Secrets by A.L. Tait)
The Book of Secrets by A.L. Tait is book one in a duology titled the Ateban Cipher. Fourteen year old Gabe, an orphan living in the Oldham Abbey, finds himself the protector of a a special book. It’s thrust upon him by the dying Brother Benedict, who tells him to “take it to Aidan.” Gabe’s perilous journey begins, book in hand, as he flees the only home he’s ever known. With the help of a group of rebel girls, Gabe takes on a quest to find the mysterious “Aidan” and assist the girls in rescuing a wrongfully imprisoned family member.
This book is so much fun! As a kid, I loved books like The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and the swashbuckling stories of the Three Musketeers. The Book of Secrets has a similar feel, in my opinion. It’s packed with action, adventure, danger, and an intriguing mystery.
I loved the wit and whimsy of the dialogue and the pacing of each scene. As for characters, Gabe is very likable and you’re cheering him on from the start. The girls are amazing and I loved each of them—smart, brave, loyal, and caring. And they save Gabe more than once. You want Merry, Gwyn, Scarlett, and Midge on your side.
There’s a lot happening in The Book of Secrets, but the story flows effortlessly with a comfortable balance of action, exposition, and dialogue. While not set in modern day, author Tait makes it easy to envision the times through her vivid descriptions and dialogue. I’d recommend The Book of Secrets for mid-grade readers through teens, but adults will enjoy this adventure as well.
“I can’t be weak now. I’m a human in a god’s war and I will surely die if I don’t get the hell out of here.”
(Analiese, chapter 39, page 312 of Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake)
I love mythology and some of my favorite books incorporate mythological characters, creatures, and tales so when I read the blurb for Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake, I knew I had to read the book.
The story follows Analiese Jordan, a teen who lost her parents when she was very young. She’s been adopted by her uncle and his family that includes her cousin Dalton who over the years has become more like a brother. When Analiese and Dalton witness a hit-and-run, her life begins to change. The dying old man gives her his bag and asks her to get it to his grandson. How can she refuse? But when he calls her by name and tells her she’s in danger and needs to run, Analiese is confused and a bit scared. Then she finds a list of names in the bag. On the list and crossed out are the names of her parents and recently deceased uncle. The list also has her name on it.
Analiese Rising catapults the reader into a world where ancient gods walk among mortals and the Risers can bring the dead back to life, controlling them, but at a terrible cost. Analiese is a Riser, a descendant of the God of Death. When she learns of her true nature, the stakes become even higher. She places her trust in Marek Conte, the old man’s grandson. Together they’ll meet others like Analiese, form alliances, battle enemies, and ultimately be forced to take a stand in the long-simmering war between the immortals.
I enjoyed Analiese Rising from start to finish. Told in first person, present tense from Analiese’s perspective, author Brenda Drake drew me in and I found myself invested in the character and her story. It was fun being in Analiese’s head, from her introspection regarding the reality of gods and the supernatural to her growing romantic feelings for Marek.
In addition, I liked both the characters of Analiese and Marek because their personalities meshed well yet still offered enough conflict to keep me interested. The overall concept of the gods lost powers and their fight to get them back worked well, but it really was the chase that was my favorite part of the story. The journey from the U.S. to Italy and France takes readers on an epic journey and includes many sites you’ll want to put on your bucket list.
There’s a lot to like about Analiese Rising and I recommend picking up a copy today. It’s a fast-paced adventure that effortlessly blends romance, intrigue, and mythology.
Please head over to author Brenda Drake’s website and check out her books as well. Analiese Rising is a stand-alone but if you’re into series, she has those as well. Also, you can read my review of Drake’s other stand-alone book, Thunderstruck here on my site.