Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #1

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Date. The idea is to share what you've read lately, what you're currently reading, and what you plan to read next. I love seeing what other people are reading and then adding to my never-ending TBR, so I thought this would be a fun meme to participate in each week!

What I Read Last Week:
Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told by Deirdre Riordan Hall (Review to come)
Londontown by Susannah Conway (Review to come)

What I'm Currently Reading:
Fateful by Claudia Gray
Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

What I'll Be Reading Next:
Worth the Wait by AJ Pine
London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

Last week on the blog:

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books I've been reading? I'll be doing the rounds of fellow It's Monday! What Are You Reading? participants, but in case I miss you, be sure to leave a link below so I can visit you!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

5 Things I've Learned in 5 Years of Publishing

Five years ago this week, I published my debut novel, Blue Sky Days. In the five years since, I’ve met so many incredible people, from fellow authors to bloggers to readers - sometimes even people who are all three. I’ve been very fortunate to make great friends, learn a lot, and grow as a person and as a writer. I’ve published several other books in the last five years, learning something new with each release.

Today I wanted to share five of the things I’ve learned in the last five years since I became a published author.

  • Manage your expectations. It’s good to be positive and confident, but publishing is basically a crapshoot. You can plan and set goals and do everything you ‘should’ do, and you might not get the outcome you hope for. For example, the books I’ve thought would be my bestsellers haven’t sold as well as I’d hoped, and the books I was uncertain about have produced my highest sales. You just never know. For my first few books, I set my expectations high - too high. Over time I learned to keep my expectations in check, and go into publishing each new book with cautious optimism. I know I’ve worked hard and done what I could to write the best book possible and promote it, and the rest is out of my hands. You can’t force people to buy or read your book, just like you can’t force people to love it. 
  • It's important to become part of the writing community. You can find writers everywhere these days: blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, forums, you name it. Find people who will build you up, encourage you, and support you. Surround yourself with positive, helpful people. If you remain genuine and are looking to make real friends and connections, it shouldn’t be hard. Some people will be interested in genuine friendship and may become lifelong friends. Others will be looking for a purely professional relationship, where they’re willing to read your work or help you promote in exchange for doing the same for them. Find what works for you, but don’t set out with the intention of only making friends with people who can do something for you.
That being said...

  • Be careful who you trust. I would never want to make anyone paranoid, but I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories about ideas or bits of writing being stolen, stories being plagiarized, etc. Make sure that your early readers - beta readers, editors, fellow writers, etc - are trustworthy and that you can count on them to not only keep your work private, but to follow through with their commitment. Don’t choose people to read your book who might make things personal in a hurtful way. For example, I had a beta reader who was a good friend, and who had read a few of my previous books. She turned each of them in late, which, when you're on a deadline makes things difficult and stressful. At one point, we fought - as friends do - but because this person tended to take things extremely personally and then punish people, when it came time to beta read my next book, some of her comments were obviously made with the intention to hurt. She then took things a step further and told several of her friends about the parts of the book she didn’t like, then they all tweeted about it, openly mocking my writing. I can take criticism about my work; I ask my beta readers to be brutally honest about what they think does and doesn’t work in each of my stories. But when you make things personal, it’s not only childish, it’s extremely unprofessional, and makes you untrustworthy. This was a hard, painful lesson to learn, but now I'm extra careful about who I trust with my work before it goes out to the public.
  • Reviews are for readers, not authors...mostly. In the beginning, I read every review for Blue Sky Days. Some of them built me up, and others broke my heart. It was difficult not to take the negative reviews personally. In time, I got to a point where I could read them and learn from them. I discovered what did and didn’t work for readers, where I might have gone wrong with certain things, and it made me a better writer going forward. I continued to read reviews occasionally from then on, but found they were having too much of an affect on me. I could get ten amazing reviews and one negative one and it would be the negative one that stuck with me. Reading is subjective and I fully believe a) everyone is entitled to their opinion, and b) we all have different tastes, different likes, different triggers, etc. But when it's your own writing - something you've worked hard on, poured your heart and soul into - it can be difficult not to take the criticism as a direct hit. As a book blogger, it was initially my natural inclination to read reviews, but I had to stop. I was too focused on the ratings and reviews, and it was messing with my mind and my confidence. I stay away from reviews now unless someone points out a positive one to me. For instance, my critique partner sent me snippets of positive reviews for my last release, knowing I didn’t want to seek out reviews myself, but also knowing it’s a nice boost to know people are enjoying your work. I also have a friend whose husband sends her positive reviews of her book since she has the same problem I did. If it screws with your head enough that it affects your confidence or your writing, stay away from the reviews and concentrate on writing.
  • Always keep going and keep growing. Read widely, and not just how-to or technique guides, but novels. Novels in your genre and age category, and outside them. Learn from others. Follow your favourite writers on Twitter - they often share great tips, plus motivation. Follow writing boards on Pinterest. Write for yourself. Don’t write with an audience in mind. Don’t worry about whether people will love or hate your book, as long as you love it and you’re proud of it. Don’t follow trends because you think it’ll make you a lot of money or get your book more attention. I’ve known several people who have done this, and it’s gotten them nowhere. Write the thing that scares you, write outside your comfort zone, write what’s in your heart. Just write, and keep writing.
Those are five of the many things I've learned in the last five years. I hope some of you have found this useful. 

I'd like to sincerely thank the people who have supported me through this journey. It means the world to have such wonderful people in my life, encouraging me and cheering me on. Thank you to every person who has read one or more of my books and left a review or messaged me privately. Thank you to the bloggers who have spread the word about my books over the years. The time and energy you put into your posts is incredible, and it's greatly appreciated.

Last year was a quiet writing year for me, but I have a lot of things planned for 2017 and beyond. I hope you'll all stick around!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Full House Reading Challenge 2017

I know I said I wasn't going to do any reading challenges this year other than GoodReads, but I'll make an exception for Bingo because I LOVE book-related Bingo. 

The Full House Reading Challenge is hosted by Book Date.The idea is to fill the card through the course of 2017. Be sure to check out Book Date for full details and to sign up!

Here's the card so you have an idea. Most of these should be easy for me, plus there's one switch-out option, which I'm thinking I'll use for the 'Western' square.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Too Many 2016 Releases Not Enough Time

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Top Ten 2016 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn't Get To
(But TOTALLY Plan To)

  There were so many amazing books released in 2016, it was impossible to get to them all! Here are ten I missed, but hope to read soon.

Mind Games by Heather W Petty
London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

When We Collided by Emery Lord

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

What are some 2016 releases you hoped/planned to read but didn't get to? If you did TTT this week, be sure to leave a link to your post so I can visit in return!

Review: RoseBlood by AG Howard

RoseBlood by AG Howard
Series: Standalone
Published: January 10th, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
432 pages (ARC)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal/Horror
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

I’ve been obsessed with Phantom of the Opera since I was a little girl. When I found out AG Howard had written a modern-day retelling/continuation, I was thrilled. Howard is the mistress of dark and twisty writing, lush settings, and memorable characters. While inspired by Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, RoseBlood is a completely unique story. Despite having ties to the original story, it’s set in a different time and place with an original overall plot, fresh characters, and a new setting.

RoseBlood was a mixture of many things: romance, fantasy, horror, mystery. Rune’s and Thorn’s pasts are unraveled slowly, giving the reader time to connect with them and root for them, separately and together. There’s so much intrigue surrounding their histories and their connection, and I love how it all played out. Besides the intense and swoonworthy romance, there was also emphasis on familial love, which I appreciated. The battling loyalties, fear, and sense of duty tied into the threads of intrigue that ran through the story. There were undercurrents of darkness and gray morality similar to the original Phantom story, which I enjoyed. I read a lot of contemporary, ranging from fluffy to heavy on the emotional side, and sometimes it’s nice to read something like this, that pushes the boundaries of the real world and veers heavily into dark territory. You can always count on AG Howard for that!

RoseBlood is a must-read for fans of Phanton of the Opera. I’d also recommend it to fans of Howard’s Splintered trilogy, and anyone who enjoy stories that are familiar in a way, but with special, unique, often-dark twists that make them completely unique. RoseBlood has a wonderfully strange and otherworldly quality to it that entices and captivates even as it haunts. Lush and atmospheric, as well as thrilling and intense, RoseBlood is yet another winner from AG Howard. 

Have you read RoseBlood? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of AG Howard's other books? Are you a fan of Phantom of the Opera?

Friday, January 6, 2017

My 16 Favourite New Adult and Adult Books of 2016

~Check out my other favourite books of 2016!~

As I mentioned in my favourite YAs post, it was hard to narrow down my favourites from last year. I attempted to make a 'top 16 of 16' post, but I just couldn't do it. I read way too many great books last year! So I did a Fave 16 for YA and now a Fave 16 for NA and Adult. 
My 16 Favourite New Adult and Adult Books of 2016

  • Fly With Me and Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton
  • A Brit on the Side by Brenda St John Brown
  • The One That Got Away, Six Month Rule, and Three Simple Words by AJ Pine
  • Out of Frame and Overexposed by Megan Erickson
  • The Architect of Song by AG Howard
  • Without Borders by Amanda Heger
  • The Turning Point by Marie Meyer
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid   
  • A Place in the Sun by RS Grey
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  • The Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (I know this one is usually categorized as YA, but I consider it NA)

Did you read many New Adult or Adult books in 2016? Do you have any favourites? Have you read any of the books on my list?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Blog Tour Review: On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton

On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Wild Aces #3
Published: January 3rd, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
336 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers, and will contain some spoilers for Fly With Me and Into the Blue
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Kobo || B&N || Google Play || iBooks}

A year after losing her husband, Joker, the squadron commander of the Wild Aces, Dani Peterson gets an offer from his best friend, Alex “Easy” Rogers, to help fix up her house. Dani accepts, and their friendship grows—along with an undeniable attraction.

Racked by guilt for loving his best friend’s widow, Easy’s caught between what he wants and can’t have. Until one night everything changes, and the woman who’s always held his heart ends up in his arms. Yet as Easy leaves for his next deployment, he and Dani are torn between their feelings and their loyalty to Joker’s memory.

But when Dani discovers something that sends them both into a spin, the conflicted lovers must overcome the past to navigate a future together…

Last year when I read Fly With Me, the first book in the Wild Aces trilogy, I fell completely in love with Noah, Jordan, and the cast of characters. I thought I couldn’t possibly love the next book, Into the Blue more, and yet Thor and Becca captivated me as much as Noah and Jordan did. Again, I didn’t think I could love the final book, On Broken Wings more than the first two, but I did. It’s hard to choose since all the books and all the characters are amazing, but Easy and Dani’s story might just be my favourite of the bunch. This whole trilogy grabbed my heart from the beginning, making me laugh, cry (and I do mean, ugly cry at times), swoon, and fall in love.

I knew On Broken Wings would be emotional. Considering I sobbed like a baby when Joker died in the first book, I was sure it would be painful to read about Dani moving forward with her life. Pair that with how much Easy loved Dani and was completely prepared to never act on his feelings, and I was sure I was in for an emotional ride. I wasn’t wrong. Within the first few pages of On Broken Wings, I was already tearing up, and I cried several times throughout. Dani’s grief really resonated with me. She and Easy both had grief and guilt to deal with, and had to find the strength to move forward with their lives even when it hurt like hell. I found myself nodding along in agreement to a lot of the things Dani was thinking and saying about grief. Cleeton captured that feeling - the sadness, the anger, the regret, the confusion - so well.

I’ll admit, I was a bit worried how things were going to be handled in regards to Easy and Dani’s relationship, since Dani was a widow, and Easy had been a close friend of Joker’s. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say I thought it was handled really well - with respect and care - and was one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve read in a long time. It was both heartwarming and heartwrenching, and I loved every moment of it. 

On Broken Wings is the perfect end to an amazing series. With a complex set of characters, beautiful romances, and real emotion, the Wild Aces trilogy has become an all-time favourite. The characters in this series have a special place in my heart and won’t soon be forgotten.

Check out Book 1 in the Wild Aces series, Fly with Me:

Check out Book 2 in the Wild Aces series, Into the Blue:
Amazon || Chapters/Indigo || B&N || iBooks || Google Play

After years spent studying international politics in London and a stint in law school, Chanel Cleeton found her passion crafting smart and sexy contemporary romances and thrillers. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she's happiest curled up with a book, her three dogs lounging beside her. Chanel is a lover of big sunglasses, irresistible handbags, food covered in sprinkles, and pint-sized pups with larger-than-life personalities.

She is published by Harlequin and Penguin and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, Assassins, and Wild Aces series.

Find Chanel online:
{Website || Facebook || Twitter || GoodReads || Instagram}
You can also sign up for Chanel's newsletter and join her Facebook reader group

Have you read any of the Wild Aces books? What did you think? If you haven't read them, do you plan to? Have you read any of Chanel's other books? Have you read any books with characters who are in the military?
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