Reader Reaction: Chainbreaker

Reader Reaction: Chainbreaker

Title: Chainbreaker
Series
Author: Tara Sim
Released: 2 January 2018
Favorite quote: (Because this hasn’t been released yet, I’m not posting a favorite quote.)
goodreads

I’ve been sitting on this reader reaction for a couple weeks because I wanted to post it right before its release tomorrow/today (depending on where you are in the world).  I requested the ARC from Sky Pony Press and was given an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’ll start by giving you a bit of my background with Timekeeper (which was a 5/5 stars for me): I asked for the book for Christmas (2016) because I saw that it was a Steampunk LGBTQ story with a neat cover. That’s basically it. I had low expectations entering because I hadn’t heard much about it other than what I just wrote above. When I was given the book, I devoured it. It was one of those stories that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. Chainbreaker was no different.

This review will be less focused on specific points from the novel to avoid spoilers. Instead, the majority will be based on my reactions to the characters, plot, and the ending (which will not give anything away, but it will offer a general mood and my feelings about the ending, so if you would like to skip, stop at the sentence “A bajillion times yes!” halfway through the 4th paragraph).

Goodreads Synopsis:
“Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some time to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks.

After inspecting some of the fallen Indian towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path–one from which they may never return.”

Although it was the Danny/Colton story that I fell in love with in Timekeeper, it was the solo-Colton and solo-Daphne storylines that kept me hooked to Chainbreaker. To be completely honest, I wasn’t fond of Daphne in Timekeeper. I don’t know if that’s something that Tara Sim had intended before focusing in on her in the sequel or not, but it was a phenomenal shift for me.

When Daphne and Danny are sent to India as two promising clock mechanics to help solve the mystery behind attacks and their consequences, Daphne’s mixed British/Indian identity becomes a focal point of the story. While this wasn’t a huge point in Timekeeper, it becomes a huge part of this novel and probably the part of the novel that I was most intrigued by. Because of Daphne, Tara Sim claims Chainbreaker an #ownvoices story. Recently, a Kirkus reviewer claimed that “mixed-race Daphne’s character does not develop much, despite the fact that her late father had a white English father and an Indian mother and that Daphne’s trip to India plunges her into speculation about her heritage and identity…” Apparently there were a couple details that weren’t entirely in line with the Indian setting, but this in no way affected my reading of it. Granted, I’m not as familiar with Indian culture as I’d like to be, but considering that Daphne is an #ownvoices character, I really think that this is one of the few times I’ll freely write that I do not suggest reading major reviews on this novel before reading it. The critical conversation surrounding race and diverse characters/authors is wildly interesting and vital to all readers, but lately, I think (not that my opinion is worth much) that the overall conversation is steering in a direction that is excluding too many valid characters and writers, especially those that are #ownvoices.

While I loved both the characters and plot in Timekeeper, the plot did fall a bit flat for me in comparison until the very end. The characters, though? They all had me wrapped around their fictional fingers the entirety of the novel. Timekeeper was equally plot and character driven; Chainbreaker felt more driven by characters and opinions. There are definite opinions that serve as foundation for this novel, and while that isn’t for everyone, I loved it. I love that I know what the speaker/writer is passionate about (i.e. equal rights, gun control, etc.). No, maybe not everyone agrees with these opinions, but that doesn’t detract from the power of giving these thoughts to characters in a time when the masses vehemently disagree. That alone gives the story a new level of emotion: we follow characters who may be scared to death of the consequences of following their hearts and who have a much more modern sense of “right” and “wrong.” Of course, these novels are modern, but when I was completely immersed in the story, I didn’t think of it like that. It was just characters fighting for what they believed in decades ahead of their time.

Why did the plot fall flat for me then (until the end)? That’s not something that I like to say without offering an explanation for what may otherwise seem a harsh opinion. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the plot, but I felt like the plot in this novel was created to advance the characters rather than the actual clock tower story. It did advance the clock tower story! It did but in a way that tied back so closely to the characters that it felt more pre-destined than chance. I guess what I’m saying with this is that it’s entirely up to reader preference on this point. Did I enjoy the plot? Yes. Was it as great as Timekeeper‘s? No, not in my opinion. BUT! Was the end of Chainbreaker wildly more exciting and informative than Timekeeper? A bajillion times yes! [I’ll try to be spoiler free in this next sentence, even though it’s going to be hard…] I don’t know how my opinion on the plot while reading managed to do a complete 180 within a couple chapters, but the realization about why certain things were happening to a certain character (that I had thought were entirely developing that character) transformed into another thick-ass layer of amazing plot that changed EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FREAKIN’ WORLD IN THE SERIES!

And what does Tara Sim do after this life changing and horrific/spectacular realization?

She ends the fucking book.

Pardon my swearing, but I don’t think you’ll understand my emotions until you read Chainbreaker. I’m both incredibly excited about this change (as well as other major changes that occurred but that were not nearly as unsettling) and what it means for the entire world and incredibly shocked. I’m shocked… That’s a great way to put it. I’m shocked that this is what the entire world was like the entire time. Once you read it, there’s no going back. My entire perception of the whole world in the Timekeeper series has shifted to something dark. The series became dark. That added layer of plot is a damn storm cloud that made home over a once mostly-sunny place.

I don’t know what Tara Sim will do in her next novel. I have no clue, but I do know that whatever it is, it’s going to be utterly perfect and devastating.

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ARC of “Chainbreaker”

ARC of “Chainbreaker”

Hello, beautiful book lovers!

So this morning, I woke up to the most amazing sight in my inbox – an eARC of Chainbreaker by Tara Sim! To let you in on how I reacted… I had to keep myself from screaming so I wouldn’t wake anyone. Chainbreaker has been the first book I’ve ever requested an ARC for. Why? It’s the first novel that I’ve felt strongly connected to even before its publication. (Of course I’ve felt strongly about every SJM book before they’ve come out, but no one can get their hands on those ARCs. I’m still surprised and honored to have been offered a copy of Chainbreaker!)

A few nights ago (and please bear with me in this!), I dreamed that I was sitting in my grandmother’s living room – as pristine and kept as it had been back when she was alive – reading an ARC of Chainbreaker and crying into one of the comfy cushions of those huge chairs she had. Maybe I can’t sit in that specific room to read it, but I’ll get to read the ARC like in my dream! How awesome is that? Maybe that sounds like a silly thing to include in this little update, but it may help you begin to understand how much I’ve wanted this ARC.

Tara Sim’s debut novel – Timekeeper – is such a beautiful and intricate story with characters who jump off the page and into the heart. As an author, she’s flawless. As a person, Sim is adorable, hilarious, and strong-minded. Really, just go look her up on Twitter. You won’t regret it! While you’re at it, here is the goodreads page for her first novel and here is the page for her second. If you’re a fan of fantasy, steampunk, and lgbtq+ novels, these are the books for you! Have fun reading, y’all!

Where Have I Been For Two Months?!

I’m so sorry that I’ve let this blog die, but to be completely honest, I probably won’t be consistently blogging until next summer.

This is my last year of college and senioritis is hitting me hard.

Still, though, that’s an excuse. All I have, sadly, are a bunch of excuses. I have been reading and writing, but not as much as I’d like to. That’s just the way things go during the school year, though!

Hope you guys understand. I’ll drop in occasionally, but this blog will be taking a long hiatus until further notice.

If I receive any ARCs or books that I agree to post reader reactions to, though, that will bring me back here to y’all!  That’s the main exception to my break from BookishGirl.

“What’s Your Username?”

“What’s Your Username?”

Very quickly, let me just say that I must have a death wish. On top of dealing with my academic and social spheres, I have added more to that little globe in the corner that demands me to write. So what have I done? I’ve started a new novel that I’m publishing for free on both Radish Fiction and Wattpad on Tuesdays.

Radish Link

Wattpad Link

Here’s the plot summary/teaser:

No roots: That’s her one motto.
Leaving behind her life after junior college, Sammi Daniels moves to San Francisco to continue at a university far from home and far from any roots. The pace of the city, the readings for her literature courses, and her new roommate, Faith, keep her life busy. She’s content for the time, until Faith introduces her to Four Deer – a gamer YouTube channel based in the city that hooks Sammi with the first look at one of the YouTubers – Ethan.
Beginning as a harmless interest, her obsession with the channel, and more specifically, Ethan, grows over the course of the semester, leaking into her school life when one of her classmates notices and takes it upon himself to show her life on the other side of the camera. But along with the geeky YouTube gamer comes the threat of roots.

Reader Reaction: The Library of Fates

Reader Reaction: The Library of Fates

Title: The Library of Fates
Stand Alone
Author: Aditi Khorana
Released: 18 July 2017
Favorite quote: “Far out in the distance, snow covering the mountaintops glistened like a gilded scrim sparkling in the early evening light.”
goodreads

This novel just popped up on my goodreads wall one day because a friend had added it to their list. Fantasy, myth, romance… What’s not to love? When it came out, my brother went and bought it for me out of the goodness of his heart.

Very quickly, let me just say that it’s impossible for me to choose a single favorite quote from this book, so the one listed is just one of the many that I love. Why? Because every line of The Library of Fates was crafted with such care and detail that the words on the pages turn into striking paintings with ease.

This is just a pretty book. Maybe that sounds childish, but you’ll understand when you read it. It’s just pretty. All of it.

For the first ten or so chapters, I really thought that this was an “Aladdin” retelling, so something similar. Online, however, no one seemed to think the same, and I kept wondering why. Well, after continuing on, I realized that it was nothing like it. There are similarities to familiar stories in the beginning, but that changes drastically as it progresses. So would I still consider this a retelling? Absolutely not.

It’s original. I haven’t read much about other cultures, though I’ve tried desperately to more recently. That being said, it was an original novel to me. It wasn’t something that I could easily tie to a hundred other books in a matter of moments. Instead, it dripped of originality and grace and beauty and power and faith and thousands of other descriptions that fit it perfectly. Sure, all of these things can be applied to thousands of other books with the same hero-on-journey plot, but it’s the way in which it was written that makes the story come to life!

I recommend it. No qualifying that statement necessary. I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

The Strain of Rebellion: Available on Radish

The Strain of Rebellion: Available on Radish

Hello, everyone!

The Strain of Rebellion is currently available on Radish Fiction, here!

There are 3 episode updates per week.

Radish supports authors and readers by providing stories for minimal cost to readers and paying that back to the writers. I really hope that some of you may decide to check out my first novel, The Strain of Rebellion, which is only available on Radish Fiction. [You can look into the first 3 episodes for free if you want to just see what it’s like without having to pay! 😉 ]

 

Writing Update: Wattpad Writer

Writing Update: Wattpad Writer

So far, I’ve published eighteen chapters of His Silent Music on Wattpad.

I want to write a little bit about the differences I’m seeing between working on this novel and my previous novel (which I only let one person see before I was completely done).

First and foremost, I started writing His Silent Music as a book for fun and growth. I wanted to dabble in fantasy before jumping into it with no experience. His Silent Music is me dabbling! Writing something for fun and for practice, knowing at the very start that I never really wanted this to be something that I agonized over writing and perfecting, has been so freeing. There were points in The Strain of Rebellion where I felt completely hopeless, like I didn’t want to finish purely based on the fact that it would never be perfect. But writing His Silent Music without worrying about it being perfect has taught me more than my first novel ever did. It’s given me the experience of writing something that I absolutely love. The romance story feels more natural. I don’t worry about whether it has overdone tropes (because Wattpad is just a giant trope monster). I just write and love it because I’ve written it for my own enjoyment.

Secondly, if I enjoy writing it, I thought that maybe someone would enjoy reading it. I’ve had this sick fascination with Wattpad since I was younger: people read what you write! How cool is it that some teenager could write a #1 internet hit – a worldwide sensation? No, I doubt that His Silent Music will ever reach anywhere near that point. In fact, if I continue getting just 1 view per chapter posted, I’ll feel pretty good about it. (Yes, I’ve lowered my expectations greatly for this novel!) I just want to share my writing without the pressure of searching for a publishing house or self-publishing. What I want it a money-free, no-strings-or-terrors-attached experience, which is just what I’m getting by writing on Wattpad.

Thirdly, I feel accountable in a way that I never had with my previous novel. This time, I’m not just writing for me. If I disappoint myself (as I had countless times with The Strain of Rebellion by leaving the word document untouched for a month at a time), then I’m filled with self-loathing and resentment and fear and depression… As horrible as that all sounds, though, so what? Those only affect me. When I’m publishing online, I feel bad if I miss a deadline or don’t publish for 7 days. I want to get the story out there for people in a timely fashion, which means writing it in a timely fashion. Working on this novel and publishing it on Wattpad has made me a more disciplined writer. I make the time to write because I want to publish it. I haven’t hit writing block in this story yet (fingers crossed!), which is amazing. Really, by this time in the last book, I’d already taken the 8 month hiatus that made me feel more like a mouse than a writer. But Wattpad has trained me in a way that I couldn’t train myself to become better about reaching my goals.

Lastly, I just love it. This is something that I started doing for myself because I wanted to, but I love everything about this experience thus far. I’ve gotten a couple constructive comments from lovely readers, and I’m expecting the hate to flow in any day now! Sadly, I’m not really kidding about that. But the beautiful thing is that when I receive negative comments on this, I know they’re coming. This isn’t that amazing of a book – I know that. I love it because this is the book that I’ve been wanting to read but that had never been written. I’m not trying to force myself to be the best on this and come up with something unique. Nope, instead, I’m focusing on just loving the experience, which will eventually include bad aspects (I’m hoping, which may sound a bit masochistic). But this is my learning experience – an introduction into the world of writing. Even though His Silent Music is the younger of my two books, The Strain of Rebellion feels more like the baby in need of protection. So I’ve sent His Silent Music out into the world to see what it’s like: test the waters and come back with a thorough report to ready The Strain of Rebellion for what’s out there.

Maybe that’s silly, but that’s how I imagine my books.