What I’m Reading Wednesday

It’s been a while since I’e done of these, and there’s no real reason for it. Other than i keep forgetting. But basically, I have three review books that I need to finish in November. So I’m working my way through those.

They are:

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Black Goat Blues by Levi Black


Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy

Always Shine!


November Featured Book: Series to Complete

This month I am doing something a bit different. Instead of focusing on one particular book, I want to talk about a few of the books that I can’t wait to get to. These are series that I have started, but have yet to finish. I will list them here, but throughout this month I will talk about them individually, how far I am into the series, why I enjoy the series and other fun stuff.

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga  (Jasper Dent) 

April 3, 2012- Little Brown and Company

The Rook (The Patrick Bowers Files, #2)

The Rook by Steven James (The Patrick Bowers Files) 

August 1, 2008 – Revell

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) 

June 26, 1997 – Scholastic Inc

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson ) 

January 31, 2006 – Ace

Omens (Cainsville, #1)

Omens by Kelley Armstrong (Cainesville)

August 20, 2013 – Dutton


Always Shine!



Feature Post: Books Similar to Dear Martin

This month’s featured book is Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I have already shared my thoughts about this book. While I thought that the book needs a lot of work, I also believe it is an important book to read. I think that it is a great way to get the conversation started. To continue the conversation, I have found books that were similar to Dear Martin in content. I have not read these books yet, but I do plan to get to them before the year is out.  I will be sure to share my thoughts here about each one.

How It Went Down

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon 

October 21, 2014 -Henry Holt and Co

In this story, 16 year old Tariq Johnson is killed by two gunshot wounds. Tariq is black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.  This is written from the perspective of the community trying to understand what happened.  (Goodreads Summary paraphrased by me. )

All American Boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 

September 29, 2015 –  Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Book

Rashad is a black student, who is known for his graffiti art, is accused of stealing. He is brutally beat by a police officer. Quinn, a white student and the best friend of the cop’s younger brother witnesses this. Quinn has to decide what to do when the story is bogged down and twisted with various opinions and agendas. (Goodreads summary paraphrased by me. )

The Hate U Give

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas 

February 28, 2017 – Balzer + Bray

Starr Carter is 16 and attends a fancy prep school while living in a poor neighborhood.  She has to balance these two worlds, and this becomes even more difficult when her friend Khalil is fatally shot by the police. This makes national headlines and upsets her local community.

Again, I haven’t read any of these books. But I am interested in them, interested in what they say and the perspective that they share. Dear Martin is not original in the subject matter that it tackles, but it is part of the conversation that we all need to participate in.

Book Chat: Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko

Scion of the Fox (The Realms of Ancient, #1)

Scion of the Fox by S.M.Beiko 

Realms of the Ancient #1

October 17, 2017 – ECW Press

Source: Publisher

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: Unrated

If you would like to know what this book is about, you can click here for a Goodreads Summary.

I was contacted by the publisher to be a part of the blog tour, and I happily accepted expecting to love this book. I didn’t finish the book in time to post my full review, so I thought that I would take the time to talk about the book.

I have to admit that it’s not a completely original story. A girl discovers that she is part of  a secret world that she didn’t know anything about. She is miraculously healed and she is the key to saving the world.

I didn’t finish it, but I can say that it was well written, and interesting (even if it was a bit cliche). Since I didn’t finish it in time, this is a book that I will come back and read at a normal pace instead of trying to rush through it. I liked Roan, she didn’t just blindly jump into the savior of earth role, she was realistic about the expectation and the daily reality that she would have to face. Granted, she accepted things a bit too easily.

Will I come back to this? Yes

Would I recommend it for other people to check out? Yes

Always Shine!

Book Chat: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (The Evaporation of Sofi Snow #1)

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber 

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow #1

June 6, 2017 – Thomas Nelson

Source: BookLook Bloggers

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Rating: DNF 

If you want to know what this book is about, you can click here for the Goodreads Summary.

To be completely honest, I cannot say that this was a bad book. I can say that I was hoping and expecting something a little bit more. The idea was a great idea, it was just poorly executed. I really wanted to like this book, and I made it halfway through before I decided to put it aside. There were things happening, and the story was moving forward. But, I still didn’t know very much about the characters, what was happening or even why it was happening.

I really wanted to like this book, at least enough to finish it. But, that was not the case.  If I had finished, I know that the rating wouldn’t have been higher than 3 stars, but it was currently sitting at a 2. Would I consider coming back to this book? Possibly, but not anytime soon.


Always Shine!

Featured Review Post: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone 

October 17, 2017 – Crown Books for Young Readers

Purpose: Review, Black Writers Matter

Source: Publisher, by request

I was given a copy of this, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

2 Stars 

Goodreads Summary 

I have a lot of feelings about this book, I requested it because I knew that this was going to be an important book. I still believe that this book is an important book and I would still recommend that people read this, be a part of the conversation. was

Initially, when I finished reading this book my instinct was to separate my feelings from the review of the book. At that point, my rating was 4 stars.  I wanted to do this because I felt that my reaction to the book was not being fair to the intent of the book. I wrote out a review that stood in contrast to my reaction. A small part of this is simply because I felt bad, and uncomfortable. After the warm welcoming of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  Dear Martin will either be rolled into this avalanche of praise or it will be rejected as a knock off.  I’ve already seen positive reviews of this book, and I can understand it. But, in truth, I think this book is very one-sided and slanted which makes it very dangerous.

I know and believe that the author has every right to write the book any way that she wants to, especially since it is a work of fiction.  I think it is dangerous because of the times we are living in today. The racial climate is tense, divisive at best and simmering at worst.  Now that I have made all of those disclaimers, on to the review. (I am going to bypass talking about what the book is about, if you don’t know you can click the Goodreads link.)

Justyce is the main character, and he is someone who doesn’t fit in completely at school or in his neighborhood. In his neighborhood, he is rejected because of the school that he attends- a private school usually reserved for the well off. In fact he lives on campus and occasionally comes home. He doesn’t fit in at school, because he is one of the few black students in a predominately white school, and I believe that he is there on scholarship.

There is a lot of discussion about race, thanks to the socio-something class that they are in, the only class that they attend since they never seem to go anywhere else.  There is also the fact that friendships are also racially charged, and up until the ending you’re convinced that most of them were for social reasons.  I think that it’s great that the book is dripping with all of the racial discussions; how race plays into friendships, how race plays into the police interactions, how race affects education etc….  All of these things are important and worthy to be discussed. My issue with the discussion is that they are one-sided. Even the opinions and thoughts that were supposed to come from the white characters sounded as if it was what a black person thinks a white person would say.

Friendships in this book came in all varieties. Some got more attention than others. Some were better developed than others. As someone who grew up being the only black person in groups of white people, almost everywhere I went, I have a problem with the friendship between Manny and Jared.  See, being one in minority in a group it is easy to know who is your real friend and who isn’t. You learn the ins and outs of that person and where you stand with them. It seems that Manny and Jared were friends for a long time, long enough for Manny to know that Jared was or wasn’t the real deal. I get that we weren’t supposed to know that in the beginning. But, it appears that even Manny doesn’t know it. He was easily persuaded by Jus, when in reality Jus is an outsider to Manny and Jared’s friendship.

I wanted to like the relationship between Jus an SJ, I really do. But in truth, this is a relationship that is filled with issues that should have been worked out beforehand for it to be successful. I was optimistic about it, until a comment SJ made at the end.

These are the most glaring issues that I have with this book. The rest are mine and can be summarized with me saying that I wanted more.  There wasn’t enough to fully flesh out the discussions or the relationships. Everything stayed just around the surface, and I wished that Stone had dug just a bit deeper.

While this book is excellent as a conversation -starter, it shouldn’t be the only book read for this purpose. This book is like trying to build a bridge. Instead of both sides working together, it’s one side building on one side and then running to other side to work on it. That’s a lot of work for one side to do, and it’s not fair. This book is dismissing those from the other side who is willing to together to build the bridge. The racial issues may have begun from the wrongs of one side, but it continues and perpetuated by both sides.

And before someone comments about how I just don’t understand- I am black and I am in an interracial relationship. I get it. Jus’s story highlights issues that are way too common and is a story that is hauntingly familiar. It is one that hits too close to home, one that must be told.  But this is not the overall black experience, and cannot be viewed as such.  But it is also a story that can’t be dismissed. While I am not sure of the author’s intent and I would not dare say that she was attempting to reveal what’s behind the curtain of the black experience. I will say that this is a great way to begin discussing issues and thoughts. I think it’s a great tool to use to be reflective of our own ideals and beliefs.

Honestly, I am not sure if I was clear with all of my thoughts. I enjoyed this book, I think being inside of Jus’s head gave the story a unique perspective with its own set of challenges and limitations. But, even so I found that it wasn’t an original story and it left me wanting more – so much more. But it also made me feel a lot of different things while reading it and that shouldn’t be discounted.  I think in the moment, people are going to feel a lot and that may cloud their judgment of the book in both positive and negative ways. But we can’t stay there in those moments. It’s not healthy or productive. I know that the feelings that stayed with me were the strongest feelings that I had while reading. I had issues, but I also enjoyed the story. Maybe it was because of the seeking, or the desire of Jus’s to understand and to grow.  Whether you agree or disagree, like this book or hate it. I hope you see how important  this book is.

Always Shine!

Scion of the Fox Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Blog tour graphic_Scion

Hi all! Today I get the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for Scion of the Fox, and I have to say, I am really excited about that! Below you will find a guest post by the author, S.M. Beiko, info on the book and the instructions and link for the giveaway.

S.M. Beiko is here to talk to us about her writing process!

Author photo_credit Teri Hofford Photography

Hey, you know what’s not stressful at all? Leaving things to the last minute! Put off today what can be done tomorrow! I do my best work on the fly! The purest writing comes from the moment. I’ll know what happens in the story when I get there!

Just writing that gave me a migraine.

But this is how I used to be. Laissez-faire, the work will do itself attitude. Know what that got me? A bunch of unfinished, unrealized projects, the years flying by and dust collecting on ‘books in the drawer’. I worked organically—only when the ‘inspiration’ struck, working things out in my head instead of having a plan. Never making the time to write, only ‘getting around to it’ with months between writing bouts, a few words at a time.

We call this approach pantsing—when you’re even writing, that is. For some people it works, but only with discipline. You’ve got to throw yourself into the bit if you’re going to get that cart to the finish line.

I’ve only been seriously writing for maybe twelve years. I never took an objective look at what worked for me, writing-wise; I pursued a career in publishing, spending about seven of those twelve years helping others massage their own work for publication. Focusing on my own was never a priority. So just shrugging my way through seemed an okay approach.

But all that changed, rather quickly, and rather recently. A three book deal is a definite boon and has its benefits, but there are schedules. Deadlines. You can’t just shrug when your publisher says, “Hey, it’s April, but can you hand in your sequel mid-May? Even though Book 1 won’t publish ‘till October.” You know what you say? “Oh sure!” Even though inside your procrastinator soul is writhing over the house fire of your own making.

I’d written the first 10,000 words of Children of the Bloodlands, but its prequel Scion of the Fox was 127,000 words. Could I get there in thirty days when Scion took me a year and a half? I was about to find out.

I had a vague idea of plot, themes, character arcs. There was already a lot to juggle, and I knew I had strengths as a pantser, but I had to invert those for plotting. I didn’t use any special software—a lot of people love Scrivner but I haven’t tried it yet. I just got out pen and paper, and wrote down what I ‘knew’ of the plot. Longhand, essay-style like a book report. After I had this down, I already felt better. Then I grabbed note cards, wrote down fake chapter titles. Scion of the Fox was split into 5 parts, so I emulated this format, named each part, and wrote the events of each chapter on the back of the cards. I moved them around on the living room floor manically while my dog looked on with concern.

After that, I got to work.

I had word count goals per day. I got up early to meet them so I could do my day job at the same time. In the end, Children of the Bloodlands is a 130,000 word behemoth, complete, and is currently being edited. It took discipline, time management, and planning. Having a deadline was a good incentive, but I learned a lot about myself as a writer that’s for sure. I was open with myself about my strengths and my process, didn’t put too much pressure on making it perfect (because the first draft is never what the final published version is!) and kept reminding myself to enjoy the ride.

Most of all, knowing I’m capable of finishing projects has changed my creative perspective entirely. The motto I’d like to shout from the rooftops is FINISHED NOT PERFECT—Past Sam would’ve definitely benefitted from that. See? Migraine alleviated.

Since then, I’ve finished drafts on three other novel projects using these simple methods—this year alone. Plotting gives you a map to refer to when you’re stuck, which is key when you don’t have time to be stuck.

Do I still procrastinate my own stuff? Oh yes. Old habits and all that, and I’ve still got that day job. But now that I’ve got the confidence to buoy me forward, I think I’m a plotter ‘till all the stories in my well dry up…which, happily, won’t be any time soon.

Interested in what Scion of the Fox is all about? (Yes, you should be!)

Cover image

Scion of the Fox By S.M. Beiko

The Realms of Ancient, Book 1 

Available: October 17

Buy links:


Barnes & Noble



About the book: Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.

About the author: S.M. Beiko has been writing and drawing strange, fantastical things since before she can remember. She currently works as a freelance editor, graphic designer, and consultant and is the co-publisher of ChiZine Publications and ChiGraphic. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book as well as the 2014 Aurora Award. Scion of the Fox is the first book of the Realms of Ancient trilogy. Samantha lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 Social networking links:

Website: https://www.smbeiko.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SMBeikoAuthor/

Twitter: @SMBeiko

 Praise for Scion of the Fox:

“A thrilling tale underscored by excellent, deep, and unique world-building.” — Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A smart, complex, animal-based fantasy.” — Kirkus Reviews

“S.M. Beiko’s Scion of the Fox is the thrilling first installment in what will surely be an exceptionally imaginative trilogy. Roan Harken is an instantly relatable heroine, a girl with guts and moxie in spades, and Beiko moves her story from hilarious to heartbreaking with true literary grace. Evocative prose and crisp, crackling dialogue perfectly define this rich fantasy world. I can’t wait for Book Two!” — Charlene Challenger, author of The Voices in Between and The Myth in Distance

“In Scion of the Fox, S.M. Beiko introduces us to Roan, a wry, fierce young woman whose world changes in the blink of an infected eye. She’s more than she has ever imagined, and there’s enchantment everywhere — flying, running, and swimming around her — transforming everything and everyone she has ever known. Beiko’s magic-steeped Winnipeg is a marvel, and Roan is a delight. I look forward to following her into her next adventure.” — Caitlin Sweet, author of The Pattern Scars. 


 Want to win a copy of the book, Scion of the Fox and this signed Print? Click here! The contest ends on OCTOBER 21!!!!



Always Shine!