Pick Your Platform: Paper, E-Reader, or Audiobook?

 

Printed Books: Have you ever walked into a second-hand bookstore, stood in the open foyer to shake the rain off of your umbrella, and drawn in a long, deep breath through your nose? That glorious smell lingers thanks to the slow breakdown of substances called lignin and cellulose, which are found in wood (and therefore, paper), releasing volatile compounds that we recognize as certain scents. These include vanillin (vanilla), benzaldehyde (almond), and even certain floral or sweet smells can sometimes be detected. The older the better.

Ah, but then there’s the new book aroma. *Inhales*. There is nothing like that smell, wafting through the crackle of the new book’s spine as you journey through the story. Ink, paper, and adhesives give off this intoxicating aroma and can vary book to book based on the products used to make them. Check out this useful printable infographic by Compound Interest for more on the chemistry of old and new books.

Pros: What’s not to love? You can twirl around with them in your arms like Belle and cross your fingers wishing for a giant palace library from a prince. You can visit used bookstores for the low prices and amazing aroma experience. Everyone, of course, loves a good #Bookstagram: Taking photos all day of your color-coordinated bookshelves, coffee mugs, and long socks (bonus points if you have a cat in the photo). The best feelings are the butterflies you feel when that beautiful rectangular package is awaiting your arrival, leaning against your front door, like a lone cowboy from a romance novel leaning against a fence, waiting for you and tipping his hat (shirt optional). Howdy.

Cons: Books are a guilty pleasure for many of us readers, however, the soaring expense of printed books can be staggering (especially new release hardcovers). The physical lack of room can become a problem when your little book collection overruns your spare bedroom (actual book walls were banned at our house, despite my creative suggestion). The gut-wrenching wait for Amazon deliveries hurts, but thankfully Prime has relief for that.

 

E-Readers (Kindle, Nook, etc): About 3 months ago I purchased a non-backlit Kindle. I was hesitant at first. There was no intoxicating book smell, no physical pages to turn. I tried to hold it in one hand above me as one would a beloved paperback while laying down on my favorite couch, but it merely fell straight onto my face and bruised my ego. It was a rough start to our relationship. But after I downloaded a few books and found the ease of the features, I absolutely fell in love with it. Its portability makes it perfect for my busy schedule and frequent air travel. It makes me go to bed at a reasonable hour as I can only use it with the lights on. When my husband and I are ready to fall asleep, I turn it off and can fall asleep much sooner.

Pros: Lower cost than printed books and most audiobooks. You can highlight important sections and make as many notes as you want while staying organized—fantastic news for Goodreads users! Immediate delivery of e-books (sweet satisfaction!) and very large amounts of storage space make it a great deal. Purchasing a refurbished non-backlit Kindle is very economical. And if you forget to bring it along, you can download the app onto your phone.

Cons: Some models are a bit of a budget squeeze. The backlight on certain models can induce eye strain and affect sleep patterns. The battery life may be a problem depending on your model. You also may accidentally drop it on your face. No judgment.

 

Audiobooks: My dad got me hooked on audiobooks a very long time ago. He would listen to them during his almost one-hour commute every day to work. Plowing through audiobooks, we would go to the library and check out even more. Back then they were all on cassette tapes in an enormous, squishy plastic case. The cassettes were a pain to cue up, typically more than seven or eight in a set. Throughout the years, audiobooks moved on to CD’s and finally onto smartphones and tablets, making them more portable than ever. The only time you won’t catch me with an audiobook is when I’m reading another one in print.

Pros: Perfect for people on the go, especially with long commutes. Very handy for multi-taskers as you can tuck your phone in your pocket and get your to-do list done. They also can be a fun book-club alternative—club members attend to listen together over a glass of wine or two. For individuals utilizing English as a second language, audiobooks are excellent practice. Some studies show that audiobooks can actually increase reading accuracy and fluency. If you are tired, have difficulty with vision, or experience frequent eye strain, audiobooks are a comforting alternative.

Cons: Expense can be an issue, however, there are memberships available that may decrease the cost. Audible offers a free book when you sign up, and you get to keep it if you cancel. Storage can be limited if books are kept on a phone app. Sometimes the story itself is awesome, but the voice acting is absolutely awful, thus ruining the experience. I recommend downloading the audio sample before purchasing (if they offer one).

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Books that are available in all platforms bring larger audiences as they offer more options for virtually all lifestyles and budgets.

At the end of the day, if a story is meaningful and speaks to your humanity, get your hands on it and hold on. Stories have the power to bring change to our lives, and that is the magic of books.

What’s your favorite platform? Take the poll above!

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Actual rating: 4.5/5 stars

SPOILERS AHEAD

Who do you trust when all you want is to seek the truth?

In Ever the Hunted, Britta, a recently orphaned huntress, is called to find her father’s killer—and the suspect is the last person she’d expect.

Written in the first-person narrative, the story follows Britta on a journey of not only the truth, but an odyssey of self-discovery as she navigates secrets uncovering her past, the slow burn of an old flame rekindling, and the mystery of her father’s murder.

Although the story has some familiar YA tropes (The brooding, dark, sexy, muscular love interest that somehow is always keeping snippets of truth from being known from the person he knows and loves the most because he was trying to ‘protect’ her…), they were twisted in a fresh way. I absolutely LOVED this story and it was a fun adventure to tag along with. I will definitely check out the second book.

Readability: I received this as an audiobook, therefore translating readability to “listenability”, I feel that this book was very easy to keep running while driving or getting chores done. The voice acting was a little difficult to settle into as the main character’s tone was always laced with anxiety when engaging in dialogue or inner monologue. She does, however, do a phenomenal job of performing different accents and male voices.

Characters: The characters are believable and there is palpable tension between the main love interest and MC, but I just couldn’t quite dive as deep as I’d hoped into some of the relationships and growth. I did not feel the depth between Britta and one of the secondary characters who suddenly becomes very significant in her life (I won’t spoil it!). I am interested in seeing these characters develop more in the second story.

Overall Feel: A fun, quick story that hits some of the major YA targets with a bow on horseback. Fans of travel, adventure, rekindling romances, and magic will love this one!

No explicit sexual content except for several scenes with consensual kissing, appropriate for younger readers.

View all my reviews

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Tuesday Cross

Tuesday Cross

I had the serendipitous circumstance to meet the talented Tuesday Cross last year on a community writing-critique site, where I had the chance to read her upcoming novel. When Tuesday writes fiction, you just can’t tear yourself away from the pages she writes. From her recent novel debut, “Of Flesh and Fire”, to her story on Episode Interactive that just hit the #1 spot in Fantasy, “Recently Royal”, Tuesday is sweeping the fantasy genre by storm.

I recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her novel, writing style, and inspiration. She wrote to me from her current location in Australia:

When did you first start writing? 

During an archeological excavation of my father’s closet, he and I discovered a short story I wrote when I was nine years old—it detailed how my little brother was a pirate from outer space. My earliest memories are of reading, and a love for writing followed shortly after. “Finished, full-length stories”, however, are a recent phenomenon in my life, kicking off with the first version of “Of Flesh and Fire” two years ago.

What brought you the idea for “Of Flesh and Fire”?

Since I can remember, my dreams have been vivid, insane stories. At least twice a week, I wake up exhausted because of some quest I endured or battle I fought during the night. I spent one such dream walking through a village where the occupants were plagued by a vicious dragon. I worked alongside the village hero, a woman with white hair, to track the dragon—only to discover the dragon wasn’t at all what, or who, we thought it was. When I woke up, I jotted down the first few notes that would later become “Of Flesh and Fire”!

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Little Tuesday, you are definitely not afraid to be different. You’re rocking that silly hat and fox tail—so just keep doing what makes you happy. My advice to you from the future is, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself on the inside as much as you are on the outside.” Don’t be afraid to disagree with people, speak up, and share your ideas. Take it from me, future-you:

The day you find the courage to be “you” through and through is the day you become unstoppable. -T. Cross

How do you get yourself into Writing-Mode? Do you do any creative “warm-ups”? How long do you typically write for in a day?

Writing “happens” to me in two ways. The first will occur while I’m working on a project for a client, and an idea strikes, unexpected, from a corner of my brain. Later, I’ll glance at the clock, shocked that it’s dark outside, and realize I’ve typed four thousand words but haven’t gotten any of the work I was supposed to get done, done. The second is when I sit down specifically to write. I prefer to be alone in a quiet space. If I need some help getting the inspo flowing, I jot out a loose outline for the chapter or scene in handwriting.

What was the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer? 

By far, my subscription to Scribophile.com. Hands down. I’ve met the most amazing people (Hello Laura!) and their eyes and thoughts on my drafts have been more valuable than gold.

What is the most difficult thing you find about writing characters? What about a character of the opposite sex? 

The most difficult, and coincidentally my favourite thing, about writing characters is the dialogue. When I write dialogue, I essentially become the character “speaking”, so when the characters are speaking to each other, I have to be in all of their mindsets and personalities simultaneously. It can set my head spinning, but it’s as fun as it is challenging!

Personally, I don’t believe that women are from Venus and men are from Mars—we’re all just people who have had experiences which have moulded us into different people. That being said, the most difficult thing for me when creating a male character is imagining their past experiences and the effect they had on him. For example: The first time his father took him fishing, how did he feel? When his mother left, how did that subconsciously colour his view of all women? I haven’t had these experiences myself, so it takes a fair amount of creative thinking to come up with what I think is a plausible male character.

What kind of research do you perform during writing? 

Because I write primarily fantasy, almost everything comes out of my imagination. However, I do keep a list of amusing things I’ve Googled for a writing project. Some of my favourites are vampire-related: “What is a plastic blood-bag called specifically?” and “How long would it take to drink 5.5 liters of blood?” If anyone looked into my web history without context, a few eyebrows would be raised!

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, what do you do to battle it?

Words fall right out of me. They leak out my fingers and onto the page—until they don’t. Call it Writer’s Block or a lack of inspiration—but there are times where, try as I might, it’s as if I’ve used up all my words for that day.

Typically, I’ll just wander away and work on my “real work” for a while. If I’m working to a deadline and I need to get typing, I take a quick break and then read the chapter previous to the one I’m working on. Re-reading something already finished usually sparks me to continue.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I love love love to read. I don’t allow myself enough time to read as much as I’d like, but hopefully 2018 is the year of the book!

Have you read anything recently that has inspired change in the way you write? 

Ahh yes. I’ve just finished reading an “epic” high-fantasy novel called “Lord Foul’s Bane”. It’s not as fancy as “Lord of the Rings” or some other high-fantasy I’ve read, but the author’s masterful use of metaphor and simile is life-changing. He’s able to paint a vivid visual scene and rip your heart out at the same time—it’s inspired me to dig deeper into my own imagination and try my hand at a different sort of prose.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on “Of Flesh and Fire: Book II” as well as a story called “Recently” Royal” for the interactive storytelling app called “Episode”. I’m also working on a cheeky side-project (novel) that has no business taking up my time, but I can’t help it!

For more about Tuesday and her fantastic stories, catch up with her on her website, Instagram, and Twitter: 

Tuesday Cross

www.tuesdaycross.com

Tuesday’s Instagram Page and Twitter

 

BOOK REVIEW: Of Flesh and Fire, By Tuesday Cross

Of Flesh and Fire (Everything Will Burn #1)Of Flesh and Fire by Tuesday Cross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spoiler-Free Review

Actual rating: 5/5 stars

Characters: 5/5
Adventure/Romance: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Overall Impression: 5/5

What happens when you wake up in a hospital bed after a brutal fire, only to discover that you survived because you possessed a rare power? What if that power made you a target? In Tuesday Cross’s breathtaking debut novel, Of Flesh and Fire, Nyminia finds herself asking that exact question. Running from her past, her new circumstances bring her to a life at Rowling-Burroughs University. While trying to learn about the power she possesses, Nyminia navigates her way through friendship, love, and faces dangerous challenges from unexpected foes.

Characters: Each of them possess their own secrets, inner-conflict, fears, desires/goals and are easy to empathize with.

Nyminia: Poor Nyminia has really had a rough start in life. I won’t reveal much about her history, however, very early in the book, she discovers that she has special powers which make her a target. It is easy to empathize with her as she is our MC and her first-person perspective allows us inside her mind, hearing her frequent internal monologue. She experiences a spectrum of emotions as she discovers more and more about the mysteries surrounding her powers and the danger she frequently finds herself in.

Marcus Saarinen: My absolute favorite vampire. I want to look that good when I’m a few thousand years old. I mean, the guy’s introduced to us as a hot librarian, what’s not to love? Marcus is an excellent example of how a partner should act within a relationship. He’s not your typical brooding, distant YA male character. He is supportive of Nyminia and protects her while giving her space to grow and make her own discoveries. I think he is an excellent role-model for younger individuals gaining perspective on what a love-relationship should be like.

Rowan: I’ll have what she’s having. I don’t know how that girl has so much pep and energy, but I really wish I could find a decent coffee that did the same. “Ro” is Nyminia’s best pal she meets early in the story. She is a phenomenal example of a true friend, and readers will enjoy watching their bond grow. She also has a special, um, power…one involving fur and fangs. Her brothers, Cash and Kit, share a similar power and I am excited to see them again in the next book.

Headmistress Midwood and the professors: I won’t give away too much. They are also developing well and play into the story’s dynamics and growth of Nyminia.

Ryanna: Secondary character. Being a mermaid…you can guess why I love her so much.

“Of course, mermaids are real too. That’s so awesome.”-Nyminia, Chapter 22 OFAF

GUYS, THERE’S DRAGONS.

All in all, I am excited to see how these characters continue to develop over book II. I think they have a great foundation. They feel “real”, which is what we all want in a fictional character, and Tuesday made me fall in love with them.

Romance: Thankfully, OFAF does not have your typical YA insta-love, but rather an interesting twist of magic from the universe called “Fate-Pairing”. The fate-paired characters are essentially strangers when they find out that they are destined to be together, which creates an interesting dynamic for two people who have just recently met. They both choose to take it slow, at their own pace, allowing intimacy set in naturally as they get to know each other throughout the story. The romance is age-appropriate for slightly younger readers as there are no explicit/sexual scenes, only innocent kissing. Just enough for some spice and intrigue, but everyone keeps their clothing on.

Readability: Well obviously I can’t put this book down because I have now read it three times. For full disclosure, I assisted with a beta-read of the first draft, and have read a physical published copy twice. Each time I read it, I can picture everything very clearly in my mind, much like a movie. This book is excellent for fans of film and those who consider themselves highly visual. Chapters are shorter and end on a cliff-hanger, which pulls you in to keep reading and continue on with the adventure.

Tuesday has a penchant for dialogue. Most chapters have excellent forward motion because of the engaging dialogue. You get swept into a conversation between characters and can actually feel a palpable tension, fear, happiness, embarrassment etc. She is truly a talented weaver of words, and I am thrilled to read the second book.

For fun, read the chapter names in the table of contents at the very beginning of the book. It reads a little bit like a poem, beginning with “My First Death” and ending with “My Final Death”.

Check out my upcoming author interview with Tuesday on 1/23/18 for more insight into her writing process and upcoming projects!

This book is highly recommended for anyone in love with YA fantasy, but especially individuals age 14-18.

View all my reviews

PRINTABLE: The Writer’s Daily Planner

Kick your creativity into high gear and get organized! This two-sided daily planner sheet is specifically aimed for writers. Integrating your creative goals throughout the day, this planner helps prioritize what you need to accomplish while keeping your everyday tasks on schedule. It even reminds you to hydrate, which is vital for mental acuity and to keep the creativity flowing!

For 50% off the download, enter WRITERS50 at checkout! (Not case-sensitive). Your contribution keeps this blog up and running, thank you for your support!
Get the Writer’s Daily Planner HERE

coffee and write

Write Now, Write Often

How do you quickly settle into “writing-mode” if you’re not a full-time writer?

As a full-time veterinarian, I don’t get much time off. When I do, I have to pack a lot of things into just a few short days before jumping right back in again. I find it challenging to make time to write, but I carve it out when I can. I need to write. It’s my escape into the other world—you know, the one where we tame dragons and live happily ever after? The world of endless imagination, where we can be anything or anyone, go anywhere, and our feet don’t even have to leave the ground.

Early to bed, early to rise? Forget it. I get in at 1:30am most nights from my daytime/emergency swing-shifts, throw some sweats on, and slink against the kitchen counter, petting my dogs and catching up on the day’s world events while the kettle heats up for a cup of tea. “Winding down”, we call it. Mentally, these shifts are often draining. Emotionally, they are exsanguinating.

So how do I come home and suddenly shift into writing-mode? How can creative flow just “click” into place? It doesn’t. I have to invite it in, one cup of tea at a time. One deep breath after another, a gentle neck-rolling, and eventually I’ll flip open my laptop.

Very briefly, I will shuffle through emails and any social media I need to respond to. I stay here no longer than 15 minutes. Once I am mentally warmed up, I find my spot on my chaise-style couch (think: giant, soft Ikea rectangle) where I can spread out all of my materials, blankets, a cup of something hot such as coffee or tea, and a stack of my current books I am reading. You know, for inspiration…or maybe they’ll just diffuse onto the page I’m writing. Hey—it’s only weird if it doesn’t work. 

Don’t laugh, but I use a curved nursing pillow on my lap to balance my laptop and keep my arms hanging at the right distance to prevent strain. It works great as a neck pillow too!

I use an ambient sound creator to add background noise in order to focus a scene towards a particular setting or feeling, such as Noisli (it’s FREE!) or Ambient Mixer.

Two apps remain open on my phone so I don’t have to switch screens around on my laptop: My Merriam-Webster dictionary/thesaurus app for quick word choice reference and The Brainstormer, a spinner-style solution for writer’s block that can quickly provide writing prompts and fresh ideas.

I write for 60 minutes at a time, averaging 3-4 hour sessions if it’s a day off from work, with a word goal of 500 words a day. Sometimes I reach this goal, sometimes I don’t. But I know I’ll never hit the end of my novel if I don’t keep going. If I have work the next day, I write only 25 words. Why only 25? Because at least that’s a couple of sentences I can get down on paper to keep moving forward, and it’s an easy goal to keep.

When I’m not writing, I keep a notebook and a pencil with me, including next to my bed, in case of emergency ideas popping up at 4am. They happen. Be prepared.

Where should I write? I find that sitting at my dining room table gives me about 5 minutes of functional work time…and then my seat goes numb and everything in my back aches. You can’t write when you’re uncomfortable. Find a spot that works for you—the floor, a couch, a hammock, a coffee shop, a large recliner chair, wherever fits your needs!

Dress comfortably. Avoid harsh waistbands or tight-fitting clothing, but don’t write in your pajamas during the day! Shower, eat, drink, and complete other tasks (laundry, dishes, you name it) before you start so they aren’t a distraction. Show up like it’s a job.

How much should I write? That depends on your goals. If you are writing a large piece of fiction (say, a 50,000-word goal), a daily goal of 500-1,000 words is a great place to start. By “daily word count”, this means only the days on which you write. This does not mean you literally have to write 1,000 words every calendar day. If you do, congratulations, you’re a full-time writer!

What if I just can’t get into it? If you just can’t find it within yourself to write, then read. If you don’t feel up to reading, then listen to an audiobook and set it to Sleep Timer mode to automatically shut off after a timeframe of your choice. Don’t fall into the video game or TV trap. Allow a quick lunch break for a single episode (no Netflix marathons!) if you must, then get back to it. Even better yet? Exercise! Go for a run or walk (bonus if you bring your dog). Increasing blood flow to your vital organs will increase oxygen and refresh your mind. Don’t sit there waiting for creativity to drop in your lap—it won’t happen. Go out and find it!

Happy writing!

How To Make Greek Coffee

Photo Dec 25, 2 27 22 PMThere’s an old joke I love to tell about Greeks: How many Greeks does it take to make a party? One.

My in-laws are loud, animated, lovely, talkative people. As an introvert, I was terrified at the thought of meeting so many people in my husband’s family at once. My first Christmas dating Steve, we visited his grandparents (and aunts, uncles, and countless cousins) in Tucson, Arizona. Instead of the anticipated social terror (common for us introverts with anxiety), I was met with warm smiles, kisses on the cheeks, and open arms into their loving homes. I did eventually get used to the lamb roasting on the electric spit outside—shots of Metaxa helped with that. photo-apr-16-1-36-23-pm.jpg

My Greek mother-in-law once said to me, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” This rang true as I later learned about the culture I was marrying into once Steve and I got engaged. I remember as we were planning our wedding, we debated about having a traditional Greek ceremony.

“It would be a long drive for our guests,” I said to Steve as we contemplated how everyone would be able to get back and forth from Colorado to the traditional Greek church all the way up in Wyoming.  steve-and-laura-married-steve-and-laura-full-set-0264.jpgHe pinched my cheeks, pretending to be his yiayia (Greek for grandmother, spelled various ways) and said in a shaky, high-pitched voice with rolled R’s, “Laura, it is for the family.”

Shortly after, we got married in front of our beloved friends and family, carrying on the tradition in a Greek Orthodox church as so many have done before us.

Greeks love tradition. Through traditions, we can tell our story and pass it down through generations, with tales from our ancestors infusing the rituals of everyday life.

One such ritual is coffee. At Christmas last year, I spent time with my husband’s grandparents learning the Greek tradition of coffee-making on the stove in a briki—the traditional steel pot with a long handle used to make coffee.

As a coffee nerd—nay—addict, I wholeheartedly dove in to absorb the old ways of Greek coffee-making.

Photo Dec 25, 2 33 16 PMSteve’s grandmother, Helen, demonstrated the technique using two briki on her stove at home in Arizona. Savoring the aroma of the grounds inside the giant can of Venizelos coffee, we pulled out small cups called “demi-tasse” and measured enough cold water for the number of people to be served. Each cup held about 1/4 cup of water.

She asked us if we like our coffee unsweetened, sweet (glykos), or somewhere in the middle. “Metrios.” she said. “Not too sweet, and not too bitter.” We mixed one heaping teaspoon of coffee and a teaspoon of sugar into the water and set the heat to a low-medium, mixing it in until it dissolved.

And then we waited.

A few times, Helen added very small amounts of the ground coffee and gently stirred the top, creating a richer, thicker flavor. Just as in life, we can tailor the taste depending on what we put into it. And, just as in life, the more we stir the pot, the less we get what we want. “Let it simmer, the foam will rise,” Helen said. As it slowly came to a boil, foam gathered on the surface. “The more foam, the better.” Called kaïmaki, the foam is left to gather as the coffee heats up.  Just before it came to a boil, steam rose and a thick, delicate layer of foam crowned the surface. She poured the coffee into the small cups, with equal foam placed on the surface of each one.

Greek coffee is made to be savored, slowly, among friends and family. Afterward, it is a tradition to have the grounds in the bottom of your cup “read” by spinning the base in your hand, then quickly turning it over, revealing your fortune as the grounds dry in patterns over the walls of the cup.

My fortune, as told to me by Steve’s uncle, was that I am living a full, uncomplicated life. I hope that cup was right.

May your cup, as in life, be full and sweet.

Ya Sou! 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

 

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

I received The Last Namsara as a free Audible audiobook with my membership.

Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Un-put-downable: 3/5
Writing quality: 5/5

The voiceover artist did a phenomenal job bringing this story to life. Her accent and husky, sultry tones brought a vivid pull to the performance and she can pull off both male and female voices beautifully. (Hello, dream job!)

This book has me pulled in conflicting directions. I wanted so much to like it, but I really had a difficult time being drawn in. It took about 30% of the story to really become invested in the characters and the plot. I did enjoy Asha, our MC. It takes a while, but she experiences strong personal growth and changes in viewpoints over the story, such as [SPOILER] her sympathy she develops for Torwin (the slave) and Shadow (the dragon).

What drew me in were the forbidden ‘stories’ placed in between chapters. Ciccarelli’s writing itself truly is beautiful. She does have excellent word choice and knows how to weave stunning visuals. I loved the dragons. When hearing about Shadow, my imagination had whisperings of the adorable character, Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon. Unfortunately, the story itself felt somewhat unoriginal as there are some familiar tropes. I was interested in seeing more character development, especially Dax and Safire. The romance was, however, more believable than most. No insta-love here! A slow burn builds over the story between Asha and her love interest, and over time, she starts calling him Torwin instead of ‘the slave’.

Overall an entertaining read with some classic YA tropes, an excellent writing style but an opportunity for deeper plot and character development. Will definitely check out the next book!

View all my reviews