Saturday, 4 April 2020

GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but it's passing Casiopea Tun by. She's too busy scrubbing floors in her wealthy grandfather's house to do anything more than dream of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she could call her own. 

This dream is impossible, distant as the stars - until the day Casiopea opens a curious chest in her grandfather's room and accidentally frees an ancient Mayan god of death. He offers her a deal: if Casiopea helps him recover his throne from his treacherous brother, he will grant her whatever she desires. Success will make her every dream come true, but failure will see her lost, for ever.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed only with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatan to the bright lights of Mexico City and deep into the darkness of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld.

I'm a sucker for stories set during the 1920s, so of course I was interested in this one. Add that it's set in Mexico, pepper in a variety of intriguing gods, an awesome main character, and I'm definitely in.

Casiopea Tun lives with her mother in her wealthy grandfather's house. Through no fault of her own, the rest of the family looks down on her and she spends her days cleaning, running errands, and dreaming about freedom.

All of that changes when she frees the entity trapped inside an ornate box in her grandfather's room. Now, Casiopea finds herself on the adventure of a lifetime. One that will take her all over Mexico and beyond...

Wow. This was quite an entertaining and dark journey. I was instantly hooked and couldn't put it down.

Casiopea is such an amazing character. I liked her from the moment she was introduced. She's clever, brave, kind and so noble. Her family doesn't take her seriously, but she's better than every single one of them. I enjoyed following her on the very interesting adventure she embarks on with a fallen god from Xibalba. The time she spends with him brings out the best in her. It was also nice to watch as she takes charge of her own life. Until she realises she's worthy of respect and freedom.

The awesome character growth also extends to Hun-Kamรฉ. Sure, a lot of his physical and emotional changes are because of the symbiotic connection he has with Casiopea, but it goes even deeper than that. And even Martรญn, her annoying and mean cousin, has an arc that I enjoyed.

There's a LOT to love about this book. I loved the Mexican location because it was refreshing and gorgeous, all the details so vivid. The worldbuilding is perfectly established and described in a way that sounds familiar, yet new. And the pacing worked so well at keeping the tension and magic moving.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is the amazing story of a brave young woman who longs for adventure and excitement, then finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient struggle between two gods fighting to rule the Mayan Underworld. The journey she embarks on is full of danger, strange beings, colourful places, and so much wonder.

This is such a gorgeous book with so much heart. I loved every second I spent with these characters. And the cover is stunning!

Gods of Jade and Shadow, February 2020, ISBN 9781529402643, Jo Fletcher Books

Friday, 3 April 2020

What I'm Working On

Hey! How's everyone doing this week? 

I know that's a hard question to answer when the world is suffering through this horrid pandemic and we're all on some sort of lockdown... but, I hope you're all staying safe and doing wonderful things at home.

In NSW, all non-essential businesses are closed and we're only allowed to leave the house for four reasons in groups of two people who live together: medical care, exercise, grocery and work. Anything else will get you a hefty fine.

It's scary and awful, but I wish people would just listen and stop going to beaches, hanging out in parks, and acting like total assholes.

Personally, we only leave the apartment for our daily walks and grocery shopping. That's more than enough times to cross paths with people I want nowhere near me. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Anyway, enough about all this depressing shit. 

This week I decided to tackle the two ongoing projects hounding my brain:
  • Creepy monster short story (finished first draft over the weekend)
  • Horror mystery novella (finished first draft earlier this month)
I even gave myself a deadline to have these finished by: April 10th.

So, this is how the week turned out:
  • Monday: Transferred short story from phone to laptop & completed second draft @ 4,786w. 
  • Tuesday: Started novella second draft & revised 18/48pgs + added 710w. 
  • Wednesday: Continued revising novella second draft 38/48pgs + added 144w.
  • Thursday: Completed second draft of novella @ 17,705 (50pgs).
  • Friday: Completed third draft of short story @ 4,640w.
Considering the crazy state of the world at the moment, I'm actually really happy about this week's progress. And hope I can keep this momentum going into next week and meet the goal/deadline I mentioned above.

Asides from writing, I've continued to read a selection of books I've wanted to get stuck into for ages. March turned out to be an AWESOME month for reading. Unfortunately, on the first day of April I DNFd three books. ๐Ÿ˜’

Still, that bad start didn't last for long because I soon found myself totally hooked on a book called GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

We've also gotten back into yoga and keep going for walks as much as we can. The walking's become a bit of a problem because too many people have decided to clog the river path. I don't have any problem with sharing the path with others, but these casual people don't seem to have any common courtesy.

Even during a fucking pandemic, people still have to act like assholes.

Anyway, I hope you're all staying safe.

Have a good weekend! Although, with the days all blending together, the weekends don't mean much anymore.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

FAIREST: Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer

Fairest: Levana's Story (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Next up on my Reading Books I've Wanted to Read for Ages binge is this wicked tale. A story that fits between the third and fourth Lunar Chronicles books, and features the villain in this series.

Levana is Lunar royalty and her sister has just ascended to the throne. She's the scarred, abused ugly duckling no one sees or hears. All she cares about is the one man she can't have. The one man she will do anything to possess...

This is such an awesome book!

Although it's labelled as Book 3.5 in the series, it takes place before the series begins. Yet, it does a great job showing us who Levana really is before she became the cold and evil mastermind who destroys so many lives.

And wow, she's quite a lot. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Where do I start? Well, I felt sorry for Levana for about five seconds. It becomes very clear early on why she's so weird and emotionless. Even though the neglect by her parents and abuse by her sister rouses a degree of pity, spending time inside her head quickly reveals just how screwed up she really is. She's twisted. Demented. Obsessed. Self-destructive. A total bitch.

OMFG, the way her obsession for the Guard she's fixated on since she was a kid is truly awful to watch. Disturbing in its cruelty.

It starts as a harmless crush, but soon morphs into something dark and dangerous. It was so terrible to watch what she does to this poor man. And because I already know where this was going... it's also devastating. Nothing she does is for anyone but herself. Even when it outwardly seems like she's about to perform a selfless deed, inwardly we see that everything she does is for herself and no one else.

The deterioration of this character is both slow and fast. It hits simultaneously. As much as I disliked (hated) her so very much, I couldn't stop reading because it's such an interesting story. The writing style hooked me in, the familiarity of the world kept me there, and the trainwreck about to happen ensures I raced through the last half.

I also despised her older sister Channary. She was cruel and gross, and very much responsible for helping make Levana into the delusional monster she becomes. I liked how this glimpse into the cold, scheming heart of the Lunar royals helped us understand so much about what happened in the three previous books.

The mention of so many familiar characters is also very cool. This is definitely a brilliant prequel that works perfectly with all the others installments.

As far as genre goes, I really liked that while this is definitely a SciFi series, this one has a fantasy vibe as well. That the story takes place entirely on Luna is also great, and kept things fresh.

I seriously loved this. And now I'm ready to read the final book! ๐Ÿ˜

Sunday, 29 March 2020

GHOSTER by Jason Arnopp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another book I've had my eye on for a while and decided to finally get stuck into. After all, I enjoyed the hell out of The Last Days of Jack Sparks. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Kate Collins is a paramedic with a social media problem. Her addiction to her phone screwed her up in many different ways. So she doesn't engage anymore and only uses a very basic phone.

That all changes on the day she's supposed to be moving in with her boyfriend in Brighton. Scott isn't in his flat and all of his stuff is gone. The only thing left behind is his phone...

Wow. This book is fantastic! It's packed with SO much, and everything fits SO well together that I couldn't put it down. Still, I forced myself to take my time. To make sure I didn't miss any of the essential details.

I was instantly hooked into Kate's hectic way of telling the story. Right from the beginning, she offers details in such sporadic bursts, that I knew she was intentionally leaving out plenty of stuff. And because I love reading unreliable narrators, I couldn't wait to find out where the mystery of her missing boyfriend was going to take me.

The story is told in Kate's POV, her timeline alternates between the moment she first spots Scott and what happens when she moves in with him. Or rather, into his apartment.

Although she peppers the narrative with clues and enough pieces from the past to get an idea about what's going on, she holds back enough to keep the core mystery buzzing and the tension building. And along the way, she faces some seriously weird shit. A lot of fascinating stuff.

This book was as addictive as Kate's desperate need to sift through Scott's rabbit hole of a phone. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

I really liked how well the obsession our modern world has with social media is portrayed. And not just that, but also the way it showcases how dependent we've become on our phones. In theory, it's easy to state that they're a computer and communications device in the palm of our hands. BUT the reality is that our phones have become an extension of us, almost like another limb we need instant access to.

It's quite the observation and having this clever commentary depicted via a very creepy and sinister story provides such a disturbing experience.

I had an awesome time with this supernatural thrill ride and LOVED the ending. Everything becomes so very clear all at once.

Oh, and I thought Izzy was a great character. She's interesting and strong, honest and loyal. If it wasn't for her, Kate would've fallen apart a lot sooner.

Can't wait to see what Jason Arnopp comes up with next...

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

THE FLOWER GIRLS by Alice Clark-Platts

The Flower Girls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've had my eye on for ages but because--for some strange reason--I always put off reading my most-anticipated reads, it's taken me a while to get to it.

Laurel and Primrose were sisters. Little girls who liked to play games together. One of them was convicted of murder and the other was given a new secret life.

Now, years later, the one who had the chance to live gets caught up in the mystery of a missing girl in the hotel she's staying in...

Wow. This book is amazing.

I was hooked as soon as I started. I couldn't put it down. Didn't want to, but took my time because I wanted all the details to stick. I enjoyed collecting all the messed up pieces while the puzzle was slowly put together through the narrative.

Looking at the paperback doesn't give you the scope of just how huge this book really is. Within the pages of this brilliant psychological thriller, there are many moving parts and plenty of players to keep you guessing.

This elaborate story is told in several POVs. All of them slowly add a new layer to the main thread, while also revealing what lies beneath at a great pace. These characters ramp up the tension and spread out in unexpected directions, leading the reader down an unpredictable path filled with intrigue and a very dark core.

Every new chapter I read threw me deeper into the mystery and muddled the waters a little more. Even so, I started forming a picture of what I suspected was going on. And although I did get some aspects right, there were others that I did NOT see coming. Like the secret wickedness hidden in the past, or where some of the characters end up.

Not to mention that ending! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

I do love reading thrillers and mysteries that keep twisting until the very last chapter, and this one is DEFINITELY one of those. It was so tricky! And yes, I'm not mentioning any of the nitty-gritty details because I don't want to spoil anything.

There's nothing better than reading a highly-anticipated book and it turns out to be everything you hoped it would be, and so much more.

Just one more thing, I think the simplicity of this cover is perfect.๐ŸŒผ

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