Book Review - Unraveling by Sara Ella


August 22, 2017


   Two reviews in one month? Yes, yes - I know I'm breaking my unspoken rule of only one review a month, but I had to share my thoughts on Unraveling! I mentioned awhile back (in this book haul video, actually) that I had bought an utterly gorgeous copy of Unraveling, and I just now finished reading it. Scandalous, I know - it took me forever to get to it! But my tbr pile was teetering at its limits, and some of the books on it were library books, which weren't sticking around forever. So Unraveling got pushed a little further under. But OH MY was it an incredible book - I read it in almost one day! xD

Unraveling by Sara Ella - Bookshelf Picture [header image]

   4 1/2 Stars


   It was a beautiful read (also, confession: I did literally stop reading a few times so I could close it and look at the cover again. IT'S JUST PRETTY), and I enjoyed it so much. Unblemished (the first book in this series) was a 4 star book, Unraveling is a 4 1/2 Star book, so I'm hoping the series will only escalate from there! It's been amazing so far. <3

   From The Back Cover 

Cover Image of Unraveling by Sara Ella
What happens when happily ever after starts to unravel?

Eliyana Ember doesn't believe in true love. Not anymore. After defeating her grandfather and saving the Second Reflection, El only trusts what's right in front of her. The tangible. The real. Not some unexplained Kiss of Infinity she once shared with the ghost of a boy she's trying to forget. She has more important things to worry about--like becoming queen of the Second Reflection, a role she is so not prepared to fill.

Now that the Verity is intertwined with her soul and Joshua's finally by her side, El is ready to learn more about her mysterious birth land, the land she now rules. So why does she feel like something--or someone--is missing?

When the thresholds begin to drain and the Callings, those powerful magical gifts, begin to fail, El wonders if her link to Ky Rhyen may have something to do with it. For light and darkness cannot coexist. She needs answers before the Callings disappear altogether. Can El find a way to sever her connection to Ky and save the Reflections--and keep herself from falling for him in the process?




the epic stuff

    - The fact that it wasn't cliche. This book could have become cliche fairly fast. But it absolutely, 100%, wasn't! Even at the parts where it would have been especially easy to take the cliche route out were done in a very original way. And I love books that tend to stray away from cliches. I really need to find more that are like that xD. 

   - The writing style. It's super unique, so cool, and very easy to read! I love it so much - and I think that's why I was able to buy Unraveling without reading it. I knew I LOVED the writing style before I even started the book! Unraveling is written in first person, so it's pretty important to nail a good voice in a story like that. And I think Sara Ella nailed it when it comes to voice and writing style.

   - The plot. Unraveling had an ah-mazing plot, oh my good gracious. I couldn't stop reading it once I started! (the only reason I had to pause and not read it all in one day was because this annoying thing called SLEEP had to interrupt. #rude) When I was only a small way through the book, I curled up in our comfy chair and just read until I finished the thing. It was lovely <3. (and also it was raining which makes it about fifty times better)  

the disliked stuff
   - I did lose focus now and then. I think it was only during the first half-or-so of the book, though - it was the same way with the first book (I almost DNFed the first book and MY WORD am I glad that I didn't!). I'm not even sure why I lost focus, but there it is. Not even a super big complaint, so this book still gets an epic rating from me! 

   All in all, Unraveling was a GORGEOUS book - not only was it spectacular writing-wise, but it was also a pretty clean book that I would recommend to teens who love speculative fiction (particularly urban and portal fantasy). Y'all should read Unblemished and Unraveling so we can wait for the release of the third book (Unbreakable) together! 

~ Savannah Grace


   have you read unraveling? who all saw the eclipse yesterday?


How To Liven Up Your: Cast Of Characters


August 16, 2017


   Characters.

   The lifeblood of a story. Probably one of the only we reasons we read a story. Which means you need to get them spot-on. Welcome to the very very belated (my apologizes) sixth and final post in my How To Liven Up Your Character series.

post one: How To Liven Up Your Leader Character
post two: How To Liven Up Your Mentor Character
post three: How To Liven Up Your Villain Character
post four: How To Liven Up Your Secondary Character 
post five: How To Liven Up Your Main Character

How To Liven Up Your: Cast Of Characters [Header Image]

1. Diverse Backgrounds - And Diversity In General 


   Sit down in a busy place, and take a look around. No one is alike - whether it be in looks, personality, or background. This is how it should be in books, and this is how you want it to be with your own characters.
   I can't pinpoint a book that's super diverse (at the moment - I'm sure my goldfish brain will think of one right after I hit 'publish' on this post), but in my own novel, Killing Snow, I try as well as I can to make everyone unique. There's people of different races, people with disabilities, people with personalities and interests spread across the whole board.  And one of the books I'm currently working on has a main character that's from Saudi Arabia (but of course plot bunnies are still attacking me left, right, and center - so we'll see how long said story sticks around xD).
   I've found that a lot of races aren't represented in YA books. Maybe it's just the books I've read, but it certainly seems that way to me. And I rarely see people with certain disabilities in books. People aren't all the same, so you need to keep your characters from always being the same, too.  

2. Not Having Too Many, And Knowing When To Introduce Them


Cover image of Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
   Knowing when to add characters is just as important as knowing where to stop. While certain genres are perfect from 1.7 million characters running around (Epic/High Fantasy, for instance), most genres do not need that many major characters. 
   Take the Lunar Chronicles, for instance. Marissa Meyer not only balanced her character amount perfectly, she also knew when and how to add them in. Marissa didn't dump a dozen characters on us at once. And that was perfect, because it gave us time to get well and fully attached to her entire cast. By the end of the series, she had quite a few characters in her series, but she'd placed them in so carefully that we were able remember who each of them were. Dumping a bunch of characters on readers from page one does exactly the opposite - readers will get characters confused (especially if names are too similar, so watch out for that), and it's harder to get attached until much later in the book.
   So how major characters does your book have? Did you throw them all in at once, or did you space them out? Try having a friend read it, and ask them if they can pinpoint and remember the characters you introduce.

3. Uniqueness


   If you have a cast of characters and the characters are all too alike, your readers are probably going to get bored. You need to keep each character unique, not only because readers love unique characters, but unique characters can be the heart of a story.
   Uniqueness normally comes in two different ways - there's unique as in 'all your characters are different from each other' and there's unique as in 'big personalities'. It's a good thing if your book has both, because readers love it.
   The Wingfeather Saga has some of the most unique characters out there, in my opinion. It's not a super well-known series (and the first book starts out a bit childish, but oh my does the series hit epic levels later on), but the characters are amazing. Every single one of them is very different - in very unique ways, what with some of them having very big personalities - and they all play different roles in the series.  This series scores high on the uniqueness scale.
   So, how well are you doing this with your book? Don't insert two characters where only one is needed - if two characters are too alike, and it wouldn't hurt your story to cut one, then cut one. Sometimes less is more. And it's a good idea to give at least one of your characters a big personality - one that's either sarcastic, flat-out crazy, or one of those "adorable cinnamon roll" characters, etc. Those are always tons of fun ;).  

4. Realism


   This one should be obvious, seeing as I've beaten you over the head with in almost every How To Liven Up Your Character post that I've done. Sorry I'm not sorry xD. But realism is important! In emotions, in reactions, in characters, and in every part of your story.
   There's one thing that I especially hate in stories - when one character kills another, and they don't have any feelings over it. No. No. Maybe this could work if your character shoot another over a long distance, but if they're near each other? Then no. This is not normal, and this is not human. Please don't do this. If your character kills someone else, they are going to think about it, and they're probably going to stress over it, and that moment might replay in their nightmares for years. The first day they took a life with their own hands isn't something they're going to forget. It's things like this that you need to look for, and make more realistic.
   Another thing that's unrealistic in story is what isn't mentioned. Your character is human, and humans get hungry. Humans get sick. Humans have days where they're angry for no reason. And your character needs to be human - we need to connect with them! So make sure that they're realistic and enough for us to relate to, at least on some level. 
   Place yourself in your characters shoes. How would you be feeling in their situation? Is it as realistic as it could be? Have you left things out that could be mentioned to make it more realistic?

5. Character Arcs


Cover image of Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
   Characters arcs were something I found out about after I got serious about writing, but I wish I had known about them earlier! I still have trouble with them, but it's an important thing for a character (most importantly, a main character) to have.
   To put in plan and simple: a character arc is how your character changes during the story
    I've always had a hard time pinpointing what a "character arc" really is - point out most any book to me, and I'll look at the main character, shrug, and say "I have no clue what their arc is". But I think I'm slowly figuring it out. Like I said, a character arc is the way the character has made a turn around from who they were, to who they are now. And we have to be able to see that they've changed. Take a look at Scarlett from Caraval (by Stephanie Garber). In the beginning, she's brave, but doesn't know how to stand up for herself very well - and by the end, she's definitely learned how. I can't tell you too much without giving spoilers, but there it is. And it's a good example of a character arc! You could easily see where Scarlett started from, and how far she came.
   So, how's your main character's arc looking? Have they changed from the person they were in the beginning? How? Is it a realistic change, considering what they've been through during the book? Compare your character to who they were in the beginning, and figure out how they've changed.

   And there you have it - the last post in this series! I hope you guys were able to learn a lot about character building. I had some much fun discussing characters with you guys - and I'm excited to start a new series sometime in the next few months! If you have any questions about characters that I didn't address in this series, feel free to give them to me in the comments!

~ Savannah Grace 

   I hope you all enjoyed this series! Should my next series be another about characters, or should I move on to a different aspect of stories? Do you have any more questions about character building (or characters in general)?

Book Review - Caraval by Stephanie Garber


August 11, 2017


   So, I put off reading Caraval for a good long while - it sounded like something I might enjoy, but there was something about it that made me unsure. Anyways, I finally decided that it couldn't hurt to try it, and OH MY. While there was some stuff in the book that I didn't like so much, I definitely don't regret picking it up <3.

Book Review - Caraval by Stephanie Garber [header image]

4 1/2 Stars


   Believe it or not, Caraval was the 100th book that I've read this year. (!!!!) I was incredibly excited to find out that I had met my reading goal for the year ... five months early xD. And if it wasn't for the stuff in the book that I didn't really enjoy, my 100th book probably would have received a full five stars!

   From The Back Cover

   Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . . 

   Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the    audience participates in the show, are over.
   But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
   Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

   Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.
 




   - The main character was epic. I loved Scarlett - she was a strong, beautiful main character, but not in a "I'm a girl but I can kill you with a butter knife" kind of way. Scarlett was strong in a "you try whatever tricks you like, but there's no way on this good earth you're going to stop me from saving my sister" kind of way.

   -The concept (and setting) of Caraval. At first I thought Caraval was going to be more of a circus-y thing (I don't know where I got that idea? Carval just sounded like it might be some kind of twisted/dark circus thing?), but it wasn't. And while that did throw me off for a few seconds there, once I realized that it wasn't a circus, I really enjoyed it! xD 

   -The mystery. There was so much mystery revolving around Caraval - what with some people not being who they seemed, and Scarlett trying to bring the clues together so that she could find her sister, Tella, there was a ton of pieces to try and put together. It was especially fun for me, as a reader, to try and put all those pieces together and figure out what was what before the characters did!


  - ... there actually wasn't too much that I didn't like? It wasn't the cleanest book ever - some of the romance ... wasn't the best, but (unless I'm having a goldfish-brain memory which isn't out of the question) only the first chapter really looked like it could get sketchy. But the book also managed to hold my attention for the entire book - which is sometimes a hard thing to do! So ... yes, even though there were a few things I didn't like so much (which cut the book's rating by half a star), I did very much enjoy Caraval.  

   So, because this book isn't the cleanest thing, I would probably recommend it for 14+. Still, I very much enjoyed it, and it was a worthy 100th book!  

~ Savannah Grace 

   Have you read Caraval before? How many books have you read this year?

Beautiful People - Raven Gale (August 2017)


August 8, 2017


   So I didn't plan on joining in the Beautiful People linkup this month - but then I saw the questions, and it felt like they were pretty much made for Raven. She's the main character in my YA sci-fi/dystopian novel, Killing Snow - which I'm currently rewriting (and rewriting and rewriting and REWRITING) xD. I don't think I've told you guys much about her, so I figured it was high time that I did!

   (quick note before I start - you might want to go read the description of Killing Snow over on my Writings page before you read further, otherwise the answers to these questions may mightily confuse you. And we wouldn't want that now, would we? ;D)   

Beautiful People - Raven Gale (August 2017) [Header Image}
__________________________________________________________________________________________

 What Can't They Live Without?  
 __________________________________________________________________________________________


Raven Gale (story character image)
   Her brother, Robin. Since Raven's been trapped on the Aeriel (the airship she lives on) for multiple years, she hasn't been able to see him for a long time - but if you asked her to pick only one living thing in the world to save, she's say Robin. But another thing that she'd find really hard to give up would be her strength - Raven goes insane when she feels helpless, since she's used to relying on herself. 

_____________________________________________________________

   Name 2 Positive And 2 Negative Qualities About Your Character  

_____________________________________________________________


   Okay, positives first - 1) if Raven sets her mind to something, it's going to get done. No matter what. 2) She's incredibly loyal, and she'll go to pretty great lengths for anyone she loves. But then ... there are negatives to go with the positives. 1) Raven's distrustful. The Aeriel isn't a safe place to live, and so she'll either put her trust in you completely, or she won't really trust you at all. It takes her awhile to learn that someone's safe. 2) Raven's a pessimist - well, okay, she says she's a "realist". But she can come off as pessimistic, since she's used to balancing out her very optimistic best friend, Elyse.  

__________________________________________________________________________________________

   Are They Holding Onto Something They Should Get Rid Of?

__________________________________________________________________________________________


   Not telling. Partially because I don't know, partially because #SPOILERS. xD

__________________________________________________________________________________________

   If 10 Is Completely Organized And 1 Is Completely Messy, Where Do They Fall On The Scale?   
______________________________________________________________________________________________________  


Raven Gale (story character image)
  If there's a choice to be organized or messy, Raven would normally chose organized, depending on how long it would take her to get organized. Time is money on the Aeriel, and she most of the time Raven doesn't have much of it. So I'd probably give her a four - though, if she were living on earth instead of the Aeriel, she'd probably get a seven or eight.

_______________________________________________________________

 

 What Frustrates Them About The World They Live In?

_______________________________________________________________


   The fear that everyone lives under on the Aeriel. The fact that she can't go home - that none of them can go home - even though she wants to, badly. The thought that maybe she can't win the fight, and that she could die without seeing her brother again. The reality that sometimes she isn't strong enough to save everyone, even when she wants to be. And the remembrance that, once upon a time, the Aeriel was a wonderful place to live. And those are only the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of things that frustrate Raven, honestly.

 __________________________________________________________________________________________

 How Would They Dress For A Night Out? How Would They Dress For A Night In?
  __________________________________________________________________________________________


   Raven hasn't had a "night out" since she boarded the Aeriel - but if she were to have a night out (which would probably mean going to a party with her friends instead of scavenging for food to eat the next day), she'd probably be found wearing a violently red dress, minimal makeup (unless her friends convince her to wear more), little to no jewelry, and shoes that are pretty, but sturdy enough that she could run if she had to. And for a night in? Tee-shirt and jeans / comfy pants. On the Aeriel, clothes don't matter too much so long as they can keep you covered. No one has the time or money (or resources) to be picky.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

   How Many Shoes Do They Own, And What Kind?
__________________________________________________________________________________________


Raven Gale (story character image)
   Probably about five pairs, and at least two of them would be pretty worn out. Most likely she has one nice-but-also-impractical pair, which still looks pretty new - but that's only because they are impractical. There'd probably be two pairs of combat boots, fairly scuffed up. And one pair of tennis shoes, also starting to get a bit ratty, but they work just fine. And then there's a sturdy pair of brown ballet flats, but the tennis shoes or boots are normally her first choice.    

_____________________________________________________________

   Do They Have Any Pets? What Pet Do They WISH They Had? 
_____________________________________________________________


   On the Aeriel? No, Raven doesn't have any pets ... though, she might have had a cat once, when she was living on Earth, but I can't remember. Raven isn't quite the type to have a pet - but if she did, she's pick some rangy mutt that she knows could take care of itself. And she probably wouldn't "pick" him at all - they'd probably run into each other, he'd refuse to leave, and she's be stuck with him until she realizes she loves him. Something like that, And then they'd probably take turns saving each other. The Aeriel isn't the safest place, if you haven't already figured that out xD.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

What's Usually In Their Fridge Or Pantry?
__________________________________________________________________________________________


   Not much, and sometimes there's actually nothing. But when there is something, it's normally whatever vegetables Raven could find in the (partially dying) community garden, or whatever else she can scavenge when she's out and about.

__________________________________________________________________________________________


   Is There Something Or Someone They Resent? Why And What Happened?

__________________________________________________________________________________________


   Yes, yes, and yes. All the yeses. And I'm not telling why or what. Spoilers, darlings.


   So THAT isn't the most interesting question to end on, but there you have it. My smol Raven is covered in spoilers, but hopefully you had fun getting to know a little bit more about her! ;D

~ Savannah Grace

   So, what did you think of Raven? What's one thing your main character can't live without?

* except for the first image, none of the pictures in this post are mine