Professional Updates!

I just wanted to make a couple of exciting announcements and updates for things I mentioned in my January recap!

*Drumroll*

First off, I have been accepted once again by Worldsmyths! I am now in the midst of editing my short story, Within These Twisted Vines, for publication this summer. It’s a short about Dionysus, the Maenads, and one woman’s desperate search for her best friend. Yay!

In other writing news, I have decided to join the writing website Royal Road. This decision may change depending on my experiences in the next couple of months, but I’m quite optimistic about it. This also begs the question of what I’m going to post, which leads me to…

I’ve been working for the last two months on a project! In the middle-ish of January, I got a new story idea, and spent the rest of January and all of February brainstorming, developing, and outlining it. The project is now called A Sharper, More Lasting Pain and I have dubbed it “Sapphic Fantasy Dark Academia”. For people who may not know what those terms mean, the logline is: “Two casters in love, the magic that corrupts them, and the school that covered it all up.” If that’s something that interests you, I aim to start posting it this summer! I am DracoNako on Royal Road, as is my username most online places. I’m currently waiting on a cover commission before I start posting.

Or, if that’s too long to wait, I have decided to launch a Patreon! For $5 a month, you have early access to chapters of this project, plus any others I decide to write and publish. The prologue is already up and ready for viewing. Additionally, that tier allows you to request topics on this very blog, gives discounts on book releases, and your name in the acknowledgments of said published books.

Or, if $5 is a bit too much for you, there’s the $3 tier, where you can vote on topics for this blog, get early access to excerpts before I post them anywhere else, and you get acknowledgments on the end of any future blog posts (think at the end of YouTube videos when they list their patrons). Or you can pledge $1 a month, where you’ll get shout-outs on the next available newsletter and my eternal gratitude.

Wait, newsletter? Yep! For my final announcement, if you want to stay up to date with future goings on, you can subscribe to my newsletter! I decided on Revue after some consideration, and I really like using it. Subscribing costs nothing and I’ll only bug you once a month (unless something major happens that NEEDS announcing sooner than that).

I think, for right now, that’s everything. I’m taking my writing and how I present myself more seriously starting this year, and I hope you’ll support me in that.

Next up, I think, will be a post on why I probably won’t ever pursue traditional publishing. Stay tuned for that. Until next time!

The Cat Reviews: Secrets My Mother Kept

This book is also a fine example of the “secretly adopted” trope without it being… weird.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m part of an Indie book club over on twitter – run by Jodie Renee – and have been since November of 2020. This is one of the books the group read.

Title: Secrets My Mother Kept
Author: Rebecca Tucker
Genre: Contemporary
Quick Summary: An identity crisis of a different sort…
Thoughts:

A lot of times, the secret adoption plotlines I’ve read are too far-fetched for me to buy and enjoy. This is not one of those times.

Secrets My Mother Kept is the tale of a Jewish woman who discovers she was secretly adopted after she gets sent the wrong copy of her birth certificate. What comes from this is a heartfelt unspooling of emotions regarding one’s heritage, sexuality, and faith. This is a journey many of us go through in our own lives, and that makes this book deeply relatable. Sure, not all of us are adoptees, or come from Jewish backgrounds, but there’s enough elements that something will be relatable to everyone who reads it.

This book is also a fine example of the “secretly adopted” trope without it being… weird. Sometimes, this trope is used to pair up characters in… interesting ways (see: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, all the “we’re dating, oh no we’re siblings, oh no we’re really not” stuff). Here, the trope is just used for good ole fashion family drama, and it’s done so well. Well enough, in fact, I whipped through this book quite quickly. It’s short, sweet, and quite relevant to the times we find ourselves in. And most importantly, it leaves you with a sort of cozy feeling by the end.

If you would like to read it for yourself, Secrets My Mother Kept can be purchased here.

Another Half-Year Goes By – Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

So far in 2021, I’ve read 30 books and have averaged a 3.8 rating amongst all of them. That’s 3 more books than this time last year and .4 higher. I’m liking a lot of what I’ve read, too!

I made this post last year which was my attempt to take part in the “Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag” that’s popular in bookish/reading communities online. I’m still reading a lot, so I figured I’d go ahead and do it again!

But, before I do, some statistics.

So far in 2021, I’ve read 30 books and have averaged a 3.8 rating amongst all of them. That’s 3 more books than this time last year and .4 higher. I’m liking a lot of what I’ve read, too!

Now for the questions.

Question 1 – Best Book You’ve Read So Far?

I think this title will go to Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. I’ve loved a lot of the books I’ve read, but this is the one that gave me the most… feelings while reading it, and even right after finishing. I’m already in love with Joseph and Jeffrey’s work (see: Welcome to Night Vale), so I think it made loving this book all the easier. Also, it’s a nice intersection of all of my interests in content, I think.

Tied for this spot is going to be Know My Name by Chanel Miller. It was a harrowing autobiography that put into words many things I’ve felt and experienced before. It was painful to read, honestly… but it was supposed to be.

Question 2- Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far?

I’ve only read two series of sequels… so of those, I’m going to give it to Since September by Allison Martine. She’s an indie author we read for Indie Book Club over on Twitter. I was absolutely in love with her first book, Dibs, so my love of the sequel was kind of a no-brainer. But these books will have their own dedicated review, which will allow me to be a little more in-depth.

Question 3 – New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To?

Without a doubt, I’m dying to read The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri. I loved reading her novel, Empire of Sand last year (it even featured on last year’s freakout tag!) and the writing was so fabulous that she’s become one of my favorite authors. The fact I now have a chance to read something else of her’s, and that it’s gay, has me ecstatic.

Question 4 – Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year?

I have two books for this one: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao and She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan.

Question 5 – Biggest Disappointment?

Okay… I have two, for very different reasons. The first is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. A disclaimer, I went into this book already knowing I wasn’t going to like it. My father recommended it to me as part of his recent… heavy interest into stocks and investment, which is fine. He even warned me this book would probably make me angry… I just don’t think he anticipated why it would make me angry. Plus, having researched the author before, during, and after reading, I know a lot of this book is a load of shit. Even if it wasn’t, it’s just so…. judgemental of poor and working class people, constantly calling them lazy or focusing on money and being unintelligent cause they can’t get rich… instead of, I don’t know, criticizing the system that puts them in this position in the first place. Then again, the author is a rich man, so of course he would think that way. Plus the writing was soooo painfully repetitive. It would constantly use many words to say the same thing – and in truth, it didn’t say much of anything at all.

The other book I’ll put here was another Indie Book Club read, Tears of a Cowgirl by Jupiter Rose. I don’t normally read Romance novels (capital R romance, different than romantic books) and this book is really all of the reasons why. There will be a dedicated review at some point, so I’ll be brief here, but basically it’s about a woman escaping an abusive ex and starting to fall in love with another guy while said ex interferes and tries to kill her… which can be interesting. However, every single person in this book had the emotional intelligence of wet cardboard. The new love interest is about as stalkerish as the ex and honestly, very fuckin creepy. I wanted to chuck this book across the room, honestly.

Question 6 – Biggest Surprise?

Hmmm… For this one, I’ll say Edge of the Breach by Halo Scot. It’s hard in general to know what books you’re going to vibe with, and I’ve found my experience with indie books in general very… mixed. I’ve found some real winners and also books that made me deliriously angry while reading them… That said, everyone on indie twitter raved about Edge of the Breach until the cows came home, and it eventually became a book club pick in Indie Book Club. And you know what? I loved this book a lot, even if it was incredibly hard to read at times. These characters are very fucked up. Like… There’s a scene towards the end that had me on the verge of vomiting. It’s sometimes that bad.

And yet, despite all of this, I loved this book enough to buy the sequel.

Question 7 – Favorite New Author?

I’m gonna say Chanel Miller, though I’m unsure if she plans to write any more books of any sort. As previously mentioned, the way she was able to recount her journey was written so beautifully. It was painful to read at times, due to how much you can relate to it. I’d love to read some sort of contemporary/literary novel from her. She’d knock it out of the park.

Question 8 – Newest Fictional Crush?

Like I said last year, I don’t really do fictional crushes. I don’t really feel like picking one.

Question 9 – Newest Favorite Character?

Hmmm… I think I’ll pick Keisha Lewis from Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. She’s quite relatable in her determination and love of her girlfriend, and in her anxiety.

Question 10 – Book that Made You Cry?

If it wasn’t already obvious, this is going to Know My Name by Chanel Miller. I didn’t actually start crying – it’s a bit difficult for books to make me do so – but I came quite close a few times.

Question 11 – Book that Made You Happy?

This one has two answers. The first is going to be the Spice and Wolf light novels – so far, I’ve read the first three this year. This is a universe I’ve been in love with for years, and it was one of the first animes I watched when I was first starting to watch them. Since then, I’ve been dying to read the light novels or manga and have finally started said process. A lot of what helped these novels make me happy was, yes, the nostalgia and my love of the universe. Honestly, the writing is… uh… It’s not the most avant garde thing out there, but that matters little to me in this case. It was still easy enough to follow along and relive the situations I once saw on Netflix.

The second answer is Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono. I don’t think I need to explain this one too much, but it was an adorable novel regardless.

Question 12 – Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought this Year?

I’m assuming this is going off of covers. In that case, I’ll say Over the Woodward Wall by Seanan McGuire/A. Deborah Baker.

Question 13 – What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year?

I definitely need to read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and I’ll be doing so next month. Otherwise, the current list of books I need to read is as follows:

  • A Flight in the Heavens by Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Calculated by Nova McBee
  • Going Postal by Sir Terry Pratchet
  • The First Mrs. Rothschild by Sara Aharom
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Good Omens by Sir Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
  • Rivers Run Red by A. D. Green
  • The Throne of the Five Winds by S. C. Emmett
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Plus anything else added on by book club. I have a whole queue ahead of me!

But what about you? Have you read anything fun lately? Do you have anything you’re itching to read? Let me know below!

Half A Year in Review – Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

For the most part, I’ve wanted to keep this a writing blog, but reading is a massive part of writing and I’ve been reading a LOT already this year. On YouTube, I’ve been watching a lot of authors participating in the “Mid-Year Freak Out Tag” and the prompts interested me, so I want to try it out.

But before I do, let’s wrap up what I’ve read so far with some stats!

The first six months of 2020, I’ve read 27 books and averaged a 3.4 rating amongst them. For comparison, last year I averaged 3.29 so… right now I’m liking books more (which is surprising, considering how many got 1 stars so far). I’m also mildly surprised I’ve read this much already considering the kind of year it’s been. Already, I’ve read more than all of last year. Wow.

Question 1 – Best Book You’ve Read So Far?

I’m tied between Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner. Both of them have fantastic relationships I loved reading about and gushing over – which is weird because normally, relationships are not what I put the most stock into. And yet, I think the relationships are part of why I loved them so much.

Question 2 – Best Sequel You’ve Read so Far?

I think I’m going to go with The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. The entire series itself is phenomenal and I was invested the entire way through. I almost wanted to say The Dream Thieves instead, but…. there’s a reason every other book in the series got 4 stars and Raven King got 5. It is heartbreaking and fulfilling and ties up all of its bows in ways expected and unexpected and… yeah. I loved this series a whole lot and I didn’t expect to.

Question 3 – New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To?

I’m going to go with Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer. I’m still really excited to read this because I love witches and especially queer ones.

Question 4 – Most Anticipated Release For the Second Half of the Year?

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Full stop. I’ve debated preordering it (I probably will when I have the money to) and it sounds like it’s full of all of the sorts of tropes and content that I’m a massive fan of. I am so, so excited. Both for this and for Witches of Ash and Ruin.

Question 5 – Biggest Disappointment?

I wasn’t sure which book to go with at first, but honestly I think I will go with These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. I really wanted to like this one considering it was gay and about witches and it seemed like it would be all of the things I wanted. But… it wasn’t. I wish I could say it was, but it wasn’t. I don’t know if it was the writing style or some of the aspects of the plot but I just could not vibe with this, which sucks!

Question 6 – Biggest Surprise?

I’ll go with Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology for this. I’ve been burned before by anthologies. Of course, they’re done by different authors (commonly) so your mileage will vary. You’ll like different authors included than someone else will. Some entries will make you wonder why the author was included at all. But, to be honest? I liked or loved almost every single entry in this anthology, which I was not expecting. I’ve even went and picked up a couple of novels from the authors included.

Question 7 – Favorite New Author?

New for me? Tasha Suri. I don’t know if Meryl Wilsner is a new author, but I love her as well.

Question 8 – Newest Fictional Crush?

I don’t really do fictional crushes but… if I was forced to pick one, I’d probably go with Jo from Something to Talk About. She’s a lot of things I love in women (assertive, powerful, knows what she wants, etc.). I mean, if I met her in real life I would probably melt and be a disaster, but…

Question 9 – Newest Favorite Character?

This is a really difficult question. I don’t normally do “favorite characters” because I tend to like different people for different reasons. For example, thanks to The Dream Thieves I am especially partial to Ronan. I also really like Sera, the main character of Seventh Born by Monica Sanz, and I like almost everyone in Empire of Sand. Too many choices!

Question 10 – Book that Made You Cry?

Not going to lie, I don’t tend to get (negative) emotions while reading? I suppose the ending of The Raven King made me sad – especially regarding Noah, but I didn’t actually cry? I tend to either feel “this was good”, “this was great”, or “this was meh” or “this was fucking garbage” about a book. I can’t recall the last time a book tore out my heart and stomped on it. Maybe The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold, but that was years ago.

Question 11 – Book that Made You Happy?

Something to Talk About. Honestly, this book was veering towards 4 stars, maybe 3.5 cause I was feeling kinda… eh? But then we got towards the end and I absolutely melted. I’m a sucker for romance, and especially if it’s gay.

Question 12 – Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought this Year?

I think I’ll go with Nocturna by Maya Motayne. I buy a lot of ebooks (or rent them) so I don’t get a whole lot of special edition books or anything. But I think the cover for Nocturna is lovely. I just hope the book inside is, too.

Question 13 – What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year?

This is hard to answer, because I’ve recently decided to completely change how I’m reading books. I’ve been suffering a lot from “too many options” syndrome, so I’ve taken to listing out every book I have (that I can) and throwing it into a random selector to choose books for me. Right now, my “to read” list I’ve generated is…

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (I’m almost done!)
  • Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes (I’ve started this one)
  • Tips for Living by Renée Shafransky
  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
  • Temper: Difference by Lila Mina
  • Life by Lu Yao
  • War Orphan by Sally Mason
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Plus, I have several books on hold on Libby to check out once they’re available to me, which are…

  • Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • And Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

So… I have a full list ahead of me.

What I’m Reading to Kick Off the Roaring 20’s

While I am in fact a writer first, I am also a reader, and a voracious one at that. And while I do have a lot of writing posts planned and half-wrote for this blog, right now, I want to talk about books. Ebooks, print books, comic books…. a lot of books.

There’s a lot I want to read for 2020. Since the decade is almost at a close, let’s get talking.

1. Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

I love Welcome to Night Vale to pieces, which is why I’m excited to read this book. I’m pretty sure this was on my list of books I wanted to read for 2019, but I didn’t get the chance to. Hopefully next year, I will. The premise intrigued me from the get go.

2. The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

I really love weird fantasy, and while this doesn’t sound like weird fantasy, it still sounds like a lot of fun. It combines a lot of elements that I love and seems like it will bring new elements to the table. I sure hope so!

3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I’ve heard this is a lot different than the Studio Ghibli movie, but I’m still excited to read it! It seems about as whimsical and magical as the movie based off of it, so I’m excited to relive the experience in book format.

4. Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier

Some of my favorite booktubers have mentioned this book, as have my best friend. While perhaps a more… bizarre choice, I’ve heard a lot about the nuances and my friends had theories intriguing enough to make me want to read it.

5. Darkling by Brooklyn Ray

Do you love trans witches? I love trans witches. I’ve seen this book plenty of times on my Twitter feed and each time, I get more excited over it. It combines a lot of my favorite tropes into one – it seems. Time will tell if it lives up to the hype or not.

6. The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

I follow the author on twitter and she is hilarious. More than that, though, the idea tickles all my feel-good spots. I love com artist characters and I love magic. I can’t wait to read this book and, hopefully, the rest of the series as well.

7. A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney

I’ve been quite fond of Alice in Wonderland-esque worlds and plots, and this is no exception. This seems like a more unique take on it, which makes me even more excited.

8. Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

I love cyberpunk in theory, but it is a bit of a mixed bag in execution. I’m very hopeful that this book won’t let me down. That and with the growing destruction to our planet, this sounds like a narrative we desperately need.

9. Deadline by Stephanie Ahn

This book promises a lot of things that excites me: magic, gays, women in suits, and a whole lot more. It’s a common theme in my “want to read” list for 2020, but I’m especially excited for this one.

10. Witches of Ash and Ruin by Erin Latimer

Once again, features a lot of the things I love. Witches, gays, magic, and so much more. Plus mental health rep that we deserve. This author is also a lovely person, which helps.


As you can see, I have a lot of common threads to the books I’m hoping to read in 2020. I have a lot of “types.” But what about you? What are you hoping to read in 2020? Are any of them on this list?