Book Review – This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

Blogland,

This book was not on my radar until I finished reading the Shades of Magic series. V.E. Schwab pretty much blew my mind with those books, and left me with a desperate need to read more of her work. I looked at a couple of reviews and decided that the Monsters of Verity series would be the right series to start with in my quest to read her entire bibliography.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

this savage song

Verity is a city cut in half. South City, where people band together to fight back the monsters, and North City where the people pay for protection from Callum Harker who brought the monsters to heel. Civil war split the city down what’s called The Seam, where violence overflowed the world. Violent acts lead to the birth of literal monsters. There’s even a little song to help you remember them!

Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw. 
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.

So, a breakdown for you, because I found the monsters fascinating. The Corsai are… scary. They’re made of shadow, teeth and claws, as the song would lead you to believe. They hate UV light and will literally tear you to shreds. The Malchai are like vampires on crack. They have a mouth full of super sharp needlelike teeth and bright red eyes, and though they are weaker in the daylight, they can move around in it. Then there’s the Sunai, the rarest of them all.

August Flynn, one half of the two-perspective narration, is the youngest of the only three Sunai in Verity.  The eldest Sunai believes they are akin to avenging angels, sent to reap the souls of sinners and cleanse the city. But August doesn’t want to be an angel, all he’s ever wanted is to be human. And when word reaches South City that Kate Harker, daughter of North City’s mob boss-esque leader, is back in town, he finally gets his chance.

What could be more human than going to high school?

Kate Harker, the other half of this duo, is a quintessential problem child. She’s burned (in one case, literally) through boarding school after boarding school until her father finally lets her come home. Now is her chance to prove that she isn’t weak, that she deserves to be in Verity, and that she is the rightful heir of Callum Harker.

But she didn’t plan on making friends with the quiet boy with a violin and one hell of a secret. Just like August didn’t intend to actually like Kate, he was just supposed to spy on her.

Hot damn, what a premise!

What I loved:

  • The monsters!!! They are just familiar enough that I’m not confused by them or get them confused with one another, but they’re new too. They are scary in new ways, and I just found them really interesting.
  • August! I love his complexity, his inner-turmoil and how much he struggles with the concept of what he is versus who he is. I also love that, though music is the Sunai method of feeding on souls, he also seems to just legitimately love music. His attachment to his violin goes beyond the fact that he needs it to feed. He cares about it. It’s an extension of himself.
  • Kate. She reminded me a lot of Lila Bard from Shades of Magic, which is never a bad thing. She’s angry, she has a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. But, despite her tough act and her gritty resolve, she isn’t cold. She wants to be, but she isn’t there yet. It’s that humanity in the face of monsters that makes her likable.
  • The music. Music is super important to this series, and I think Schwab’s writing reflects that. She’s a wonderful writer, I learned that with Shades of Magic, but I do feel like she upped her prose game with this book. There were a couple lines that made me pause and reread them, and there’s a lyrical quality that echoes throughout most of the book. I came away from each reading session feeling impressed.

What I didn’t love:

  • The beginning was a little slow. I get that there’s world building to be done and character development has to happen somewhere. But I wished we’d got to August and Kate in school sooner. I don’t really know if that’s a reasonable complaint, but there it is.
  • It felt a little… YA-y. Okay, this complaint ISN’T reasonable. It is a YA book after all. But, especially in those first 100 pages, everything felt too familiar. Almost cliché. I haven’t read much YA in the last five years or so, so maybe I’m just out of touch with the market, but it felt a little trope-y. Then the book shifts once Kate and August meet, and from there things really find their stride and I became immersed in the story.

So there you have it. A little slow to start, but ultimately a really great book with high stakes, amazing characters, and a super imaginative world and premise. Once I got through the first 100 pages, I was hooked. Thanks to Schwab’s previously fantastic works, I trusted her to give me an experience I would enjoy. I’m glad I did.

I’m on to the sequel already and am enjoying it so far. I’ll be back soon to talk about the state of the blog in the first half of the year.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

A Night to Remember

Yes, Hi. This is me just letting you know that the Snow Patrol concert was everything I could have ever hoped for. I am voiceless and harder of hearing today, and it was worth it.

Please enjoy these videos that someone else took last night:

I’ll be reliving these songs for weeks to come. I already wish I could go back in time and experience last night all over again. Instead I’ll just have to wait until Snow Patrol comes back around again.

Now, then. Back to my “vacation”.

 

BZ

The Recap – February 2019

February, as per usual, came and went without hardly pausing to say hello. It’s always a mercurial month here in Oregon, bringing rain, snow, ice, and sunshine in unpredictable turns. You learn to take a coat with you everywhere pretty quick in the Pacific Northwest. And maybe gloves, if you’ve got the nice water resistant kind.

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The Homestead looking Wondrously Wintry.

February Goals

  • Write 8k on Tavi
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!

How’d I Do?

  • Write 8k on Tavi
    • Nope. I wrote a total of 3,628 words on the novel this month. Much less than I wanted, but I’m not wholly unhappy with it.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Sure did. The stories sat in queue for the majority of the month. I’m still waiting to hear about two of them, though That Which Illuminates Heaven received a rejection yesterday. It went out to the next market before I sat down to write this.
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
    • Narp. Not even a little bit. I think I read a little bit of Sanctuary, but that’s it.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read five titles this month, which is a little insane when I think about it. It’s the shortest month of the year, but I put the time to good use, despite my Anthem addiction.

Total Monthly Word Count: 8,273

I wrote about 4500 words for a Valentine’s Day fanfic exchange. Not pertinent to my goals, but still incredibly fun and it allowed me to flex my writing muscles a little as I explored a very complex character from the Mass Effect universe. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and I wrote it in two days, so I’m not going to feel bad about it.

Anthem continues to be absolutely addicting, but I’m almost done with the main story and so my time spent playing should slow a bit soon. Another hurdle to this month was a head cold that walloped me this week. This whole working-two-jobs thing has left me tired and vulnerable to illness and stress, which really puts a damper on my personal and writing goals.

My reading is progressing nicely, though I’m barely keeping up with the Reading Challenge goal I set for myself. This may be the first year I don’t reach my goal, but I love the challenge! Which is the whole point, so yeah.

What else happened in February? I attended an author event at the library, spent way too much time on twitter, and rollercoastered along my work weeks with more emotions than I knew what to do with. I won’t be able to do this for much longer. I need to find a better solution to the library’s unreliable hours.

But, that’s a conversation for another day. For now, let’s talk about what’s to come. Let’s talk about MARCH!

March Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Read one short story/day
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Here’s the deal. I love video games, but they are HIGHLY addictive for me. I get trapped in them for months. In the case of Dragon Age, sometimes even years. I cannot let that happen with Anthem; I have too much that needs to get done. I need to get this habit under control and set firm boundaries. Which is something I am good at. So, here goes:

I CANNOT PLAY ANTHEM UNTIL THE FOLLOWING HAS OCCURRED:

  1. I have written at least 500 words on my novel
  2. I have read one (1) short story

This is a deal I’ve made with myself. I’ve thought on it a bit and I think it’s not only doable, but necessary. This is a contract, a binding agreement between my gamer self and my writer self. The gamer self will recede to the background until the above is completed, at which point the writer self will cease guilting the gamer self and allow unshackled joy to commence.

That’s the rule. So it is written, shared on social media, and so it will be done.

Why short stories you ask? Well, I’m writing a Library Picks column about Speculative Fiction Anthologies, and I want to at least be able to recommend a story or two out of each one. Plus, I like short stories. I like writing them and reading them, and I’ve been neglecting that part of the market for too long. So I’m taking inspiration from Sam J. Miller, who is reading a short story a day in 2019, and reading a story a day in March.  I am a little worried that this might impact my reading goal for the year, but I still have some titles queued up and waiting, and with travel plans in March I should have some extra reading time.

As always, the short story submissions continue until something sticks. I had a moment at the beginning of the month where I began to feel claustrophobic about the whole process. You know, that feeling where the stress churns in your chest and you’re compelled to pace the room or fiddle with your hair or your nails just can’t seem to avoid the magnetic pull of your teeth. Or some combination of all three. That was me on February first.

wasteland babyToday I’m listening to the new Hozier album, the snow has almost all been washed away by a steady drizzle, and my head cold seems to be on its way out. I feel alert and peaceful, with a mug of hot coffee and the promise of some breakfast after this. February was a big breath that stemmed the tide of burnout, and no I’m ready to move on and get some work done.

I’m sure I’ll have some more ups and downs this month, that I’ll find something new to stress about in the weeks to come. But right now? Right now I am chill as fuck. And I’m going to ride that feeling for as long as I can.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the book review for Lies Sleeping, and then next week will have the usual Goals Summary and the Reading Round Up for February.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 42

Hey Bloggos,

This week was a bit of a blur. I worked over 40 hours this week and went to see Hozier on Saturday night. It was amazing, everything I’d hoped and dreamed it to be, and I’m still sort of floating along in an daze whenever one of his songs shuffles on in my Spotify playlists. But, now it’s time to come back to earth and get back to work.

Photo credit: fireeh.tumblr.com

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research, round 2
  • Read Rosemary and Rue

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yep! I got some really great feedback from Madhu on it already, and look forward to taking the next steps in this story’s journey to publication.
  • Research, round 2
    • Yes. Though, I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped to.
  • Read Rosemary and Rue
    • Yes? I didn’t finish it, but I made some solid progress this week, reading about 100 pages.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Writing that my word count for the week was zero never feels good. But writing was not on the list of goals this week. I’ll make up for it in November.

That Which Illuminates Heaven is going well. I’ve got some changes to make to the first page, and maybe some more streamlining in the first five pages, then I’ll do a polishing draft to make sure each word is perfect. Then it’ll be time to send it out and see what happens. That’ll be three stories out at the same time, so thank goodness for The Submission Grinder helping me keep everything straight.

Research is going a bit slower than I anticipated, but there’s a lot more to wade through than I expected, so that’s why. I’ve moved on from angels to the devil and I’m getting some good info and ideas as I do. Next up will be fallen angels and Catholicism, and some more setting resources. And before you know it, research time will be over and writing time will be here.

I didn’t read Rosemary and Rue as much this week as I really wanted to. I’d say it’s my limited schedule that’s to blame, but honestly, this book just hasn’t grabbed me yet. I rosemary and ruewant it to! I’m intrigued. But I’m not interested. I have to remind myself to pick it up and give it a shot, and once I do I’m happy enough to keep reading. It’s just picking it up in the first place that’s proving difficult.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Research and outline NaNo project
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue

Another busy week with little to no writing. I’d like to get That Which Illuminates Heaven “finished” before NaNoWrimo starts, so that I don’t have any lingering projects looming in my mind when I’m supposed to be writing.

Also, November marks a year since I started writing last year’s NaNoWriMo project, my Mass Effect: Andromeda/Mistborn Era 2 crossover fanfic The Charlatan and the Coinshot. And that means I can finally talk about this giant collaboration project my lovely friend Kit and I have been working on this past year! The story will go live on the 1st, with updates every Tuesday and Thursday through the end of the year. 16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)

There’s still a lot of research I want to do before NaNo kicks off, so I’ve put even more books on hold at the library in hopes that I’ll be able to squeeze in some quality study time before all my time is devoted to writing.

I put out a post about The Audient Void‘s call for submissions last week, and you guys did not delay! In our first four days of accepting submissions we’ve received over 75 short stories and poems! So now I’ve got an inbox full of stories to consider, and I couldn’t be happier! I love reading your guys’ work.

And of course, there’s the Urban Fantasy novels to read. Rosemary and Rue is going slowly, but not so slowly that I’m willing to give up. Reading just might have to slow down for the time being to make way for the other projects going on right now. I’m four books ahead of schedule to meet my reading goal for the year, so I’m comfortable taking a breather in this regard for now. There will still be reading and reviews, so don’t worry! They’ll just be a bit slower to show up than normal.

If I can finish Rosemary and Rue this week, you’ll see me again here at the blog. If not, next week has a lot of posts planned thanks to the end of the month and the start of National Novel Writing Month.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 14

Hi Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Anniversary celebrations, good news announcements, and plenty of work to get done.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Saga
  • Read Binti: Home
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Barely. But YES! This chapter was really difficult for me, and was probably about 95% rewrites. These last few weeks have seen no editing because I wasn’t sure how to fix this one chapter, and now that it’s done I have a much clearer path for the chapters ahead!
  • Finish reading Saga
    • Yep! I didn’t expect volume 8 to end as it did, especially after the heartbreak of volume 7. I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Read Binti: Home
    • Yep! Finished it last night and will hopefully get the review done before I leave for the coast on Friday.
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
    • Yeppers! Got a good start on chapter 3 with 593 words.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Chickity-check. This is the one thing I am super diligent about completing.

Weekly Word Count: 2,971

Overall, not too shabby. I would have liked to get Chapter 9 of The Steel Armada edited earlier on in the week, but I’ll take what I can get. I experienced a really rough “block” with this rewrite. It seemed that no matter how I approached it, I couldn’t come up with a solution. I do not like that feeling. I’m planning on posting an “Editing Check-in” of sorts once I finish revising Chapter 10, so I’ll talk more about my experiences then.

Graphic novels are a lifesaver when I really want to read, but don’t have time to commit to something big. Saga is always a delight, and right now I’m making my way through the Dresden Files comics. I love Harry, so seeing all my favorite characters in illustrations is wonderful.

Progress on Sanctuary is slow and steady, which is pretty much exactly what I want. I’m getting a sense for where the story is headed, and building up that backlog of chapters like I planned. Feels good.

Next Week?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

binti homeI plan to post the Binti: Home review on Thursday or Friday morning before I leave for the coast. There’s no WiFi at the hotel so you won’t hear from me over the weekend at all. In fact, I’m planning on keeping my phone on airplane mode while I’m gone. Which just means I will have SO MUCH to talk about when I get back!

Hopefully I can use conference time/downtime to work on The Steel Armada. I’m still torn about which laptop to take. I have this dumb two laptop situation until Scrivener 3 becomes available on Windows. So while my PC has Draft 2 of TSA, all my edits are being done on my old-as-dirt MacBook because Scrivener 2 has Revision Mode. Since The Steel Armada is my main project right now, I’m thinking I’ll take the Mac. But, if I get inspired and want to work on From the Quorum or something new, I won’t have my “current” computer. Or the internet to use Google Drive.

Ugh. Can Scrivener 3 just be out already???

The Dresden Files graphic novels will fly by, and honestly I’ll probably have them done by tomorrow night. I’ll finish Madhu’s pages tomorrow night or Thursday, and then I’m just packing and prepping for the conference. Madhu and I are carpooling, so my Corolla gets a spa day in honor of our guest. I even built a playlist of Writer/Book themed songs for the drive!

agatha christie roomAnd then we’ll be at the coast, wining and dining with writer types and learning all the things! We’re sharing the Agatha Christie room, which has an amazing view, a fireplace, and a balcony! It’s going to be raining and windy the whole time, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying the beach.

I’ve got a handful of writing/book themed shirts for the weekend, I’ll bring minimal makeup since folks will be taking photos, and a notebook and a slew of pens will round it all out. Binti: The Night Masquerade will probably be my book for the weekend, though I might bring a backup in case I finish it too quickly.

Gotta be prepared!

Anyway, I’m basically bursting with all this excitement! I can’t wait to have this amazing weekend and get to tell you all about next week!

I’ll be back soon with the Binti: Home review.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Momentum and Blues

I’m off to a late start today. I’ve been staying up later and later, and getting up at the same time. But, when I wake up, to “Troy and Abed in the Morning!”, I tend to lay in bed for about an hour. I’ll check email, which is almost always junk that’s accumulated through the night, then I’ll scroll through my Facebook news feed, get lost in a buzzfeed list or a linked fanfiction, and then check out WordPress. Only once all that’s done to I actually get up.
18707-community-troy-and-abed-in-the-morning

I took my sweet time today. I’m lagging. Or as my mother would say, “dragging ass”. But, now I’m here, I’ve slurped down my venti iced coffee, and I’ve downloaded some iTunes purchases. Currently I’m listening to Hozier. And so far, I am beyond impressed. If you like blues-y, moody, and soulful rock music, you should check it out.
Hozier

Yesterday was an incredible writing day. I wrote just under 2,000 words, setting up chapter 6 for completion today. The only reason it didn’t get wrapped up yesterday is because I had to go to work. It’s been a long time since Starbucks felt like an interruption.

I mostly just want to take advantage of the time I have before school takes all my free time.

But, my brain isn’t quite ready to finish the chapter. I think I’m going to add some songs to the Jordinn’s Story playlist to give it some thematic variety. When I built the playlist I only really knew Jordinn and Ellesaire, and their problems. But, I have five characters who have viewpoints and plot arcs, and they need to be represented too. So, I’m going to add songs with Joanna, Troy, and Runella in mind.

Hopefully by the time that’s done, I’ll be ready to finish Ellesaire’s chapter. I think food will help too. I’m gonna go do that now.

See you next week Blogland!

BZ

The Comedown

I feel worn out. I’m not sure if it’s just the final comedown from all this wedding excitement, or if I’ve just reached the maximum amount of social exertion. It has been a very active week, going out with friends nearly every night. And, thanks to weird scheduling, I haven’t written anything new. I’ve got some editing done, but no writing.

I aim to change that today. Though my time is still short. I’m still reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ and haven’t made nearly the progress I would like; only 176 pages in.

Anyway, music is pumping along the umbilical cord that is my headphones, extending a lifeline and an escape. With headphones in the world around me fades out, leaving me alone in my head to coax characters to life.

I don’t feel like writing, if I’m honest. But, right now, I don’t feel like much of anything. I feel grey. I’m not sad. But I’m not happy, or even content. Nor am I angry or excited. I just am.

And tired.

Keep an eye out for a new page. I’ve considered it for awhile now, and realized that it’s something I should have included from the outset of this blog. Almost three years later I’m finally including it.

Anyway, I’ve got work to do. See you around.

BZ