The Severed Moon – Day 5

“How do you choose to ornament yourself? Does it change from day to day?”

When I think about this prompt, I think about my wedding rings. It’s the only thing I wear daily to ornament myself and set myself apart and it never changes. Getting married to my best friend is one of the best decisions I ever made. The rings hold such a special meaning. Not because they are gold with diamonds, but because of what they represent. The represent being bonded with another soul, being a part of a family, showing the world that I have another half. Being married is hard, as are many things in life, but I wouldn’t want to go  through the motions with anyone other than Chuck. He is truly my soulmate, if those exist. He is always there for me, I have never once doubted his love for me even on my worst days. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with him.

Speaking of family, I took a few days off from the blog and most of the social media to focus more on my family over the weekend and during my eldest’s spring break. I also wanted to focus on reading a few books I’ve needed to read and review. You can check out my micro update of Mistborn here. I am going to start Wicked Saints and The Fever King soon!

~Rachael
Instagram: @rqdavis_

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Mistborn Updates

I finished Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson in December and then took a month break because the writing is so rich. The world building is so heavy and the emotional toll on my body was hangover worthy! I started The Well of Ascension in February and finished it last night. You guys – that book broke me in such a epic way. I was literally so shocked at some of the revelations that I had to continue straight into Hero of Ages! I thought I would take another break but I can’t. Mistborn is all I can think about. I am going to order the UK copies, I also got a Mistborn sign from Bookish Signs and More through Etsy that I will be showcasing soon!

I will do an official series review when I get done with the Hero of Ages! You can see a micro review on my Goodreads. This epic adult fantasy was more than I could have ever imagined. If you are looking for something fresh, a new world to dive into, some new characters to love and to possibly mourn, pick up this series. You won’t regret it! I’m sure I’ll dive right into Era 2!

~ Rachael
Instagram: @rqdavis_

The Severed Moon – Day 4

“Around the thick fur of his ruff he wore a lariat of gold and rubies, and the twisting horns that rose from his head were marked with ridges that glowed as if lit from within by a secret fire.”

The Language of Thorns is one of my favorite companion books. There are a lot of mixed reviews on whether or not people enjoyed the story but I did! I loved getting little glimpses into the Grishaverse even if it’s through the guise of folklore. I loved the rich stories that weave into the other books and the beautiful illustrations. I think I appreciated it more for what it was rather than judging purely on the contents.

This prompt makes me feel like it’s Nikolai Lantsov turned beast, like a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Fancy clothes, golds and jewels, and that secret fire set in his eyes.I don’t read many retellings knowingly, but I am excited to read A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I might knock that out this weekend!

Do you like retellings?

~Rachael

#squad312 forever – Aurora Rising Review

Title: Aurora Rising (the Aurora Cycle #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA SCIFI/Space Opera
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Knopf  Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover 480 pages
Available: May 7th, 2019

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First and foremost, I would like to thank Penguin Random House, Jay Kristoff, and Amie Kaufman for providing me with an e-ARC via NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review; this in no way affects my rating.

With that being said, let’s begin this NON-SPOILERY review! Any specific facts mentioned were pulled from the official synopsis available on Goodreads.

Aurora rising starts off with a BANG. There is action from the very first page until the last. We first meet Aurora, a girl out of time who has just awoken from two centuries in cryo-sleep after being rescued by the Aurora Academy’s star pupil, Tyler. Due to this rescue, Tyler misses a draft and gets stuck with a group of misfits that no one wanted.

*from the synopsis*
“A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates 
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering”

This space adventure is a YA SCIFI lovers dream! You can tell that the science behind the writing was well researched. The diversity within the book is natural, I love the interaction between the characters – the banter is HILARIOUS. Each character has their own personality and style and you can tell who is talking without reading chapter headers. I was unsure about how I would feel after being set up with the genius that is the Illuminae Files and the Starbound trilogy, but this was perfection. It’s 100% unique, the galaxy is completely new, and I found myself so invested in this story that during the last few chapters, I don’t think I took a single breath! I am ready for the Aurora Cycle #2!

Pre-order your copy from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, or other retail sites!

#squad312 forever!

 

The Severed Moon – Day 3

Tell the story of the most magical day or experience of your life so far.

We woke up early. Mufasa was downstairs sleeping with the other dogs because he couldn’t make it up the stairs anymore; his disease had progressed to the point where he could barely stand without assistance. He was only 7, I thought we’d have more time.

Chuck went outside to load the kayaks in the truck. He strapped them down tight, made sure we had our paddles, our cooler, and questioned whether or not to bring Tuna. We decided to leave her behind and take Tyson so we could focus on Mufasa. Tyson had already proved to be an excellent kayak companion but we were unsure if Mufasa would be able to handle being on a small water craft.

“Are you sure about this?” I said, looking over at Chuck.
“Look at them,” he said, “they are just so happy! Even if Mufasa can’t get into the kayak, he always loved lakes and rivers. Maybe the water will help ease his muscles.”

The wind whipped at their faces,  nostrils flaring as we wound down the back country roads. Tyson and Muf were a pair, never separated and I knew this was our last chance at a trip for the two together. The end of the summer was quicklyimg_5295 approaching and Chuck wasn’t sure there would be another opportunity. We had a sitter for the kids, we had the morning free… this was it.

We got to the lake and the dogs eyes were full of anticipation, their tongues out, tails wagging hard. And then Mufasa fell out of the truck trying to get down. Chuck looked over to me and I felt a stabbing ache in my chest. Muf was the kind of dog who had dignity, needing help was embarrassing for him. He was our protector, he didn’t want to rely on us. I went around the side of the truck and grabbed onto Mufasa’s harness and held Tyson’s leash  as Chuck got the kayaks out and drove the truck to the parking spot away from the put in.

When Chuck returned we tried to get Mufasa into Chuck’s boat, he was clearly the stronger of us and he could easily haul Muf’s 110lb body to safety if he fell out. He wasn’t comfortable in Chuck’s boat because of the way it was set up, so he switched for my kayak with a smooth surface. The boat rocked as he wobbled trying to adjust to the sudden lack of stability the ground gives. Tyson was already perched on the bow of my boat, staring out into the water, ready to launch.

We paddled our way out, not going too far in case Muf decided to bail. I kept checking on Chuck, scanning his face for worry but he held it together. He

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wanted this as badly as the dogs did. These dogs were his life, before me, it’s all he had. Then I saw it. I saw the look on Mufasa’s face. Tyson let out a little whimper as I fell back away from Chuck’s boat. He wanted to be closer to Muf but I just had to get a picture. He was genuinely happy. I know that people think that pet owners are crazy but you could truly see what Mufasa was thinking. His emotions showed all over his face and he was loving his life out on the lake.

img_5296Tyson is kind of the grandpa of our dog crew. He’s old, a little grouchy, but a really great travel companion. He didn’t like being this far away from Chuck and Muf so I had made sure to paddle back towards their side when I snagged a picture. I was having an internal struggle between enjoying the moment and taking every picture I could. I was so upset that I didn’t bring my GoPro. I wanted to record the entire thing and not worry but I forgot it in our rush to get out of the door.

We spent about 15 minutes paddling around the lake. We took a break to let the dogs get off the boat, go to the bathroom, get their footing. Mufasa didn’t do as well swimming as we had planned, which made Chuck sad. I think the degeneration of the muscles in his hips just wouldn’t allow him to kick hard enough to stay afloat. We kept his harness on that had a back handle and that helped Chuck support his weight. The little dogs have life jackets because we never thought we’d be brave enough to take Mufasa. I’m so glad we took the chance.

We got back in our kayaks and paddled around some more until the weather started getting warm. You could tell Muf was tired, his eyes were drooping a little and he was slower on his reaction time. We knew it was time to go. Chuck packed up the kayaks and we stood there staring out at the lake together, wishing we had more time… wishing we had thought of doing this sooner, wishing we would not have made excuses. We didn’t want to let our regrets take away from the magic of the day so we smiled, we held each other and we got back in the truck.

Muf and Tyson fell asleep almost immediately. The dogs having this one last experience before it was soon time to say goodbye to our beloved baby Mufasa is something we will hold in our hearts forever. I Love You

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Mufasa – RIP 9/13/18 ❤

~Rachael

My First Big Time ARC!

I received an e-mail yesterday from Penguin Random House stating that I had been approved for an ARC I had requested. I have never requested an ARC from a publisher, especially not one this big – I typically use NetGalley and read those “insta-approve” books because I am just a wee-account on all platforms. To my surprise, I was approved for an e-ARC of AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I looked at my phone, I looked around the room, I looked back at my phone, and I just sat silently… I was in shock! Never in a million years did I think that I could get an ARC of something of this magnitude! I am forever thankful for the people at Penguin Random House for selecting me and trusting me with this new space adventure! I will have this read and reviewed soon!! I’m already at 20%!

**Synopsis**

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of the Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic . . .

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

——————————————

Pre-order your copy from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, or other retail sites!

 

The Severed Moon – Day 2

“Describe something in your life that others might view as ordinary but that you experience as magical.”

Food. There is something magical about cooking food and then being able to consume it for energy or for pleasure. We take ingredients that can be eaten on their own, or can’t be eaten on their own such as spices or raw meats (in most cases) and combine them together and then add heat, changing the chemical structure of the dish. We then take that food and enjoy it by ourselves or by serving it to others. There is nothing I enjoy more than making a delicious and hearty meal and then serving it to my family. Food brings us together, gives us comfort, reminds us of good and sometimes bad times.

For me, my favorite dish is a Korean dish called “Haemul-sundubu-jjigae,” or spicy seafood and tofu stew. This dish reminds me of my mom, which then reminds me of home.

 

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You start with your stock, add seafood, spices, tofu, and let it boil not only to cook but to absorb flavor. The longer you let this stew simmer, the more condensed the flavor becomes. Crack an egg into it at the end, let it poach, and add a splash of vinegar to give it some bite! I top it with green onions and eat this dish with hot, sticky white rice.  It’s usually pretty spicy! Yum!

You can find an easy recipe and video to follow by clicking *here*. Maangchi is an incredible resource for Korean cooking! The beauty of Korean food is that you can substitute basically anything! If you don’t like seafood you don’t have to add it! If you don’t like beef but like pork, use that instead! I hope everyone in their lifetime gets to experience the magic in eating cultural foods!

 

~Rachael

The Severed Moon – Day 1

07e92f6d-d7b8-4f4a-a0ae-9c13bc1d98c5-857-0000005ed4395753_file.jpgI bought Leigh Bardugo’s magical inspiration journal knowing that I’d never write in it. I have anxiety writing in things like that, hell I photo copy coloring pages so I can do them again! So I decided to do my journaling in this blog and will put them in their own category so I can easily find them! Some of the blogs will be a story associated with the prompt, some will be my thoughts, maybe it’ll be a blog on something that I’m inspired by, etc! I’m just going to have fun! I figured what better to start a year long journal than to start on your birthday!

Day 1 – “We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.”

Today is my birthday and I feel like I’m wearing a crown! I’ve received so much love from the bookish community, my Instagram is full of people who love and support me and I just can’t thank them enough. I honestly wasn’t sure how I would feel waking up to being 31; however, I didn’t have to wake up to being 31 because I was so deep into reading Mistborn: The Well of Ascension that it was 1:30AM by the time I realized that I should probably go to bed. The magic system of Mistborn is so unique and the universe is unlike anything I’ve ever read. I am hoping to get the UK paperback editions of Mistborn era 1 and era 2 soon! I know that it’s going to be one of my favorites and I’m only halfway through tWoA!

Learning to wring magic from the ordinary is something I struggle with. Often I find myself lost in my negative feelings. Sometimes I have to take a step back and understand that magic is all around me. Simple things like a good book, a sunny day, cooking delicious food, my kids being healthy… I need to appreciate the magic from my family most of all; love. Loving and being loved are such special experiencing. You don’t know what life truly is until you’ve loved something with your whole being.

~Rachael

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 162 (depending on the version)
Published: February 24th, 2002
Read: 3/8/2019 via Audible

Coraline Jones is an explorer. The day she moves into her new home she begins to unravel the mysteries that surround her. The house is old, the mice seem to move with intention, and when she is turned away from her parents due to their busy schedules, she begins to wish for something more.

When she goes through a secret passageway in a locked room she finds a world like her own but with a twist. At first Coraline loves this new world. The other mother and father are always there for her, the food is delicious, and the toys come to life! But when Coraline realizes that things are not what they seem, she begins to discover the truth to the happiness of the other world.

***SPOILERS***

Coraline is the hero that I always wish that I could be. She is so brave and never turns away from a challenge. The first glimpse of those button eyes would have had me screaming for home! When she realizes that there are children’s souls that are trapped, she does everything she can to set their souls free. I love the cast of characters like the acrobat grannies and their dogs, the weird man upstairs with the circus mice, and the cat. I love the cat, I think that he’s a perfect companion for this book because he doesn’t actually tell you anything but he drives the plot forward. I also cheered when the other dad defied the other mother to save Coraline!

***END SPOILERS***

I read this book via Audible and I loved it so much. Basically anything Neil himself narrates just turns to gold!

Coraline is a dark and whimsical children’s story told by Neil Gaiman. He is the master at taking something small and turning it into something unforgettable!

 

Reviewing Indie Books

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Do you review Indie books differently? I feel like when I know this is a self published work, or a very small, unknown author, I have a different scale for reviewing. But is that the right thing to do?

Typically my star ratings on Goodreads and Amazon are more critical rather than personal (depending on the book), whereas in my bullet journal or this blog I give more of my personal star rating. For example, my critical review for Red Rising is 5 stars due plot, the character development, the writing style, etc. My personal review is 4.5 because during one part of the book, it dragged on a little bit too long for my personal taste. I started drifting in and out and would take breaks because it wasn’t gripping me. I’m starting to wonder if I should just merge the two ratings, if that makes sense so it’s more consistent, or maybe I’m just being too extra, haha!

So when it comes to indie authors, especially ones without editors, I usually overlook a lot of the grammatical issues and the writing style. I take it into a account but I’m not as hard on that person as even the best writers have editors. Hell, Stephen King has an editor! Understanding that indie authors want to get their names out there, I just try to push passed it – but then that got me thinking…. should we be doing that? If you are not a good writer, should we give praise just because you’re trying? If a book is not written well by a well known author, I don’t give them stars because they tried. If the story is there but the writing is bad, hiring an editor to help you get a publisher would help you!

I think that people need to understand that it typically takes a long time to write a book. The process is grueling, the criticism, even more so. I think I personally need to work on reviewing books with the understanding that people are going to read them and trust what I have to say. I’ve never lied, but I do withhold to a certain degree. It’s a slippery slope. If we sit and hype a book because a friend wrote it, the author is nice, etc, it’s deceiving the other people who may spend good money on the book that you may have personally not liked.

I recently had the opportunity to read a book by an indie author in which she told me not to review her book if it was going to be a bad rating. I don’t think that’s fair. Her Goodreads has only 5 stars and because I wanted to be nice, I almost didn’t review it so it wouldn’t drag down her  rating. After she repeatedly harassed myself and another reviewer, it got me thinking; I need to review this. You can see the full story on my Instagram @rqdavis_ in my highlights.

You can see my review for A Twisted Belief by Pearl Khatri by clicking *here* She has since blocked me on all forms of social media after harassing myself and another reviewer to remove the reviews.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day! I’m finishing up The Black Witch via audio and will be reviewing that book soon!

Rachael