The Reluctant Godfather // blog tour

I’m so pleased to be a part of the blog tour for The Reluctant Godfather, a newly released novella by the amazing Allison Tebo! It is my first blog tour ever, so let’s all pretend like I know what I’m doing and jump straight in.

 

About the Book

A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella from a unique perspective.

Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather, who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care… a cinder girl and a charming prince.

A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He’ll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love.

 

 

 

About the Author

Allison Tebo is a Christian homeschool graduate in her mid-twenties, who works part time as a sales associate for a major transportation company. A graduate of London Art College, Allison pursues avenues in cartooning and illustrating as well as singing and voice acting.

In her spare time she writes and blogs at www.allisonswell.com.

It is her goal to write fiction that appeals to many different kinds of people, by writing clean, classic fun.

Her faith in Christ directly influences all she writes about – or does not write about. Whether the story possesses a strong message or is simply fun and imaginative fiction – her desire is to bring honor to God – and to provide quality stories for everyone to enjoy.

My Review


That was such a sweet story, and not cliché at all (something I don’t like)! I love Burndee and Ella, and I love all the other characters too! Ella is very sweet, thoughtful, and content, which I appreciate. Burndee is hilarious.

One of the major cliché benders is that the fairy godmother… isn’t. There is, however, a sarcastic, hilarious fairy godfather named Burndee.


Burndee’s blunders are the funniest. Making Ella dance a jig at the ball?! I was laughing so hard at that part. There was another vey amusing twist that I won’t share here because of spoilers.

Although the entire story was great, my favorite part was a very spoiler-ish bit that I’m not going to share here but you can see on my Goodreads review.

This is a really sweet, lighthearted, clean read. I was so into it I read it in one sitting! All in all, the Reluctant Godfather was really… neat.

 

The Giveaway

Allison is currently running a giveaway on her blog, so you can go here and check it out if you don’t want to purchase a copy. 😉 She’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Reluctant Godfather along with lots of other things!

You can also buy it here on Amazon if you don’t happen to win! 🙂

Author Interview

Welcome, Allison! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Christian, homeschool graduate in my mid-twenties. I work part-time in sales and operations as an agent for a major transportation company. I am a graduate of London Art College – I studied drawing and painting for several years then spent another few years studying cartooning. Aside from writing, I also pursue singing, voice-acting, and baking.

What inspired you to write The Reluctant Godfather?

Nothing in particular! Some of my best and favorite writings are the stories that literally just drop into my head. One night, the concept for The Reluctant Godfather suddenly popped into my head. The entire end finale (Burndee and Colin’s confrontation) including basic dialogue, suddenly sprang into my mind and as I thought about it, the entire story unfurled in my head. So it all came to me in about fifteen minutes, I believe. All I had to do was write it down. I wish all my stories came to me in this way!

When and why did you start writing? Have you always wanted to be published?

I started writing when I was about ten years old, and at the time, the primary motivation was to be just like my big sister, who wrote her own stories – so a combination of hero-worship and wanting my own accolades, I think. Fortunately, my motivations have changed since then and now I write because I am a writer, and I have to capture the stories in my head. I probably wasn’t looking at publishing when I was ten – but probably since I was fifteen or so – I can’t clearly remember a time when I didn’t want to publish. It certainly has been a decade long goal. I still can’t believe that I’m published. It’s very surreal.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what’s your favorite? Are there any songs that gave you ideas for The Reluctant Godfather?

When I was a young teen, I used to listen to music when I wrote, but then I stopped because it started getting too distracting. Oddly enough, during Camp Nano this year I started listening to music again and I liked it! But as far as The Reluctant Godfather, I didn’t have any particular music or songs that I used for inspiration.

Out of all the characters you’ve ever written (not just in The Reluctant Godfather), which is your favorite? Which is your favorite in TRG?

Wow – that is a tough question! Characters are my favorite part of writing and I have a lot of favorites – but one that comes instantly to mind is a character I wrote years ago and hope to resurrect some day – an obnoxious and noble Elf named Adrien, who really has a heart of gold. He didn’t sleep much, secretly read poetry, and possessed an intolerance for stupid people. As far as The Reluctant Godfather – definitely Burndee!

Have you had any training in writing?

I am a self-taught writer – but I would say that I received vigorous training. For over fifteen years, my sisters and I have dissected every movie we have ever watched and most books that we have read. Every look, gesture, tone and action is carefully examined and explored as we ferret out motives, and every plot twist and bit of structure is gone over with a fine-tooth comb as we try to figure out what does and doesn’t make a good character or story. It’s been an incredible learning experience and we have grown so much as writers by this simple but copious rule of thumb.

Do you have anything you do to get ready to write? (drinking tea, listening to music, etc.)

Usually, I have a can of carbonated water – which is my all-time favorite beverage by the way. During NaNo months I might have a piece of chocolate before I start to write – ‘coughs loudly’, or a LOT of chocolate – before I start sprinting for the day. What I really want to do to prepare for my writing, is to pray every day before I get started and ask the Master Storyteller to bless and guide my work.

Where do you go for writing help?

My siblings. We have a writing club that has been meeting every week for ten years to critic and brainstorm for each other. Each of my siblings has a different strength. My brother is the man to go to for brainstorming action, my sister can un-snarl any difficult plot or shine light on a stubborn character, and my twin is fabulous at story structure and flow.

Are there any authors who have been particularly inspiring in your writing journey? Who are your favorite authors?

Definitely Robin McKinley – especially her book, ‘Beauty’ – a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I read that when I was about thirteen and basically pored over every facet of that book. I started writing spoofs of Beauty and retellings of Beauty and the Beast over and over again, exploring every angle of the fairy tale as I sought to emulate Robin McKinley’s dreamy style. That book taught me a lot about writing – how ironic that years later I finally came back to fairy tales again!

I would say that Jeri Massi’s Peabody series was another major influence on my writing – probably for her comical and sweet style – a zaniness balances with heart – influenced my own writing voice a great deal.

I have a lot of favorite authors! But the top ten would be, Constance Savery, Rosemary Sutcliff, M.I. McAllister. Dorothy Gilman. Elizabeth Enright. Helen Macinnes. Mary Stewart. Jan Karon. Jeri Massi and Jeanne Birdsall.

Who would you recommend The Reluctant Godfather to?

I would recommend The Reluctant Godfather to ladies between the ages of 14 and 30.

What’s next for you? Will you be continuing to write?

Absolutely! I hope to be writing until the day I die! I have at least five more books planned for the Tales of Ambia and have already started working on the sequel for The Reluctant Godfather. I also hope to have an illustrated children’s book and a space opera novel completed and published within the next year or two.

Where can people connect with you online?

You can find me at allisontebo.com or my blog Allison’s Well. You can also find me on Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook.

Any final thoughts?

Yes! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank God for bringing me safe this far and for the warmth, enthusiasm and kindness that so many of you have received me and my book – it is such a gift to share my work and a blessing to get to know so many people through the Reluctant Godfather.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Allison!

Thank you so much for having me, Zane! This was fabulous!

 

Don’t forget to stop by Allison’s blog for the giveaway! Thanks for reading and comment below if you have any questions!

My summer reading list + 6 books that should be on yours

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to share some of the books on my summer reading list (obviously not counting the endless library books) and books that should be on yours. I got this idea from a picture my friend Emma Grace sent me. (She recently started a blog! You can check it out here.)

We’ll start off with my reading list..
The Scarlet Pimpernel has been on my to-read list for a little too long, and I’ve heard really good things about it. It sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it.
I found Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life at our thrift store, brand new and gorgeous. I got it because I read The Candymakers by the same author and enjoyed it. However, I’m not completely sure about it because Mom said it might have some humanism in it… We shall see.
This 1920s book was also a find from the thrift store. It looks very, very cheesy, but I thought it would be a fun read since I enjoy vintage books.

I disliked A Wrinkle in Time (a LOT) the first time I read it, but one of my good friends really enjoyed it, so… I’m giving it another try.

I used to love this series, and I haven’t read it in forever. So this is one of my rereads.
Every Soul a Star (yup, another Wendy Mass book!) was another thrift store find. I’m not really sure about it, but I’m trying it. The cover is really pretty and that may or may not be one of the reasons I was so attracted to it…
Believe it or not, I have never read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Even though I enjoy fantasy. I’ve read the Hobbit, and it was pretty decent, but honestly I haven’t been that impressed by J.R.R. Tolkien. *hides* Anyway, I’m going to try to read this one…

Y’all. The Viking Quest series was one of my all-time favorites a couple years ago. I haven’t reread any of them in quite some time, so I’m going to be reading Raiders from the Sea again.
Finally! The Mystery Off Glen Road was a late birthday present and the only Trixie Belden book by Julie Campbell (the original author, before other authors took over) that I haven’t read!! I am so excited for this one.

I’ve read a few things by Mark Twain, but not the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I plan to remedy that this summer…
I remember really liking The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, but I hardly remember it. :O So I’m rereading.
Sorry for the blurry image. Amazon wasn’t cooperating. Anyway, this is the fourth book in the Orphan Train Adventures. I really enjoyed the first one, but the rest haven’t been quite as good…
Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan is the sequel to another book I found very amusing. I hope this one is as good as the first.
Pride and Prejudice is, so far, my very favorite Jane Austen novel. Seriously, I loved it. And it’s due for a reread!

I’ve been meaning to read Treasure Island. I just haven’t gotten around to it…
I started reading Beginnings, Middles, & Ends a while back, but stopped because it wasn’t that interesting. I’m going to try it again this summer.

A Woman’s Wartime Journal is a compilation of entries from a Southern woman’s diary during the Civil War. It’s really interesting to see the Civil War from a different perspective. Seriously, I almost cried. It’s that good.
I found The Autobiography of George Muller on one of our bookshelves and it looked really interesting. So I quickly added it to my summer reading.
This book about John Bunyan and the biography below I found on a bookshelf as well. There’s a whole series, but I decided to start with these.


I seem to be very interested in men named John.

And now, for the books I highly recommend for your summer reading list! (As if it weren’t big enough already…)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Shannon Hale, was hilarious. I really enjoyed it, and recommended it to my brother… and then my younger sister wanted to read it! I wasn’t expecting her to like it, but she did. There were a couple of annoying things in there that bothered me, but for the most part it was a funny superhero story.
This. Book. I read Cinder for the first time recently, and you can read my full review here. Although I wouldn’t recommend this for younger kids, it’s such a great Cinderella retelling with some really unique twists.
I can’t remember the first time I read The Pushcart War, but this book is hysterical. It’s about how one little incident exploded into a full-blown war between the pushcart peddlers and the trucks. One of my favorites!
Give Me Liberty is such a great look at life at the time of the American Revolution. Seriously, I loved the fatherly(ish) relationship between Basil and Nathaniel. The one problem I had with it is that occasionally it got bogged down in details, but other than that it’s a great book.

Possibly one of my all-time favorite fantasy books. K.M. Weiland is a fantastic writer, and Dreamlander might be my favorite book of hers, although her others are definitely worth checking out.
If you haven’t read The Mysterious Benedict Society already, you must do so at once! Secret(ish) societies, conundrums, and cranky people named Constance are only a few of the delightful charms of The Mysterious Benedict Society.

That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed a peek at what I’m reading during summer break!

What are you reading this summer? Comment below!

 

Miniature Book Reviews // Cinderella, Animal Ark, and Return to Harmony

Hi guys! Today I’m just doing a few short reviews.

Cinderella, by Brittany Candau

 

 

I was super excited when I found this book version of the Disney movie Cinderella at the library, but I honestly expected a lot more. I was very disappointed in this one.

Things I liked:
  • The cover. Because Ella and Kit.
  • The overall quality of the book. The design was gorgeous, and it felt great.
  • “Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green…”
Things I didn’t like:
  • The entire story paled in comparison to the movie. Without the movie, this book would be just another mediocre Cinderella story.
  • The author told, instead of showed, the entire book. I don’t want you to tell me that Cinderella is uncomfortable, I want you to show me she’s uncomfortable.
  • It read like an old fairy tale, with a few modern words interjected randomly (like “okay”) in a way that was somewhat jarring. Old fairy tales aren’t bad, but they were meant to be told, not read.
  • Obviously, it didn’t have any of the beautiful imagery that made me love the movie.
Favorite quote:

“You must always remember this: Have courage, and be kind.”

Overall, the movie was much better. If I hadn’t watched the movie first, the book probably would have gotten two stars, but since it did remind me of how beautiful the movie was, I’m giving it three stars.

Animal Ark, by Joel Sartore and Kwame Alexander

 

 

I won this book in a giveaway from Dogobooks. For some reason I was under the impression that Animal Ark was a longer, more scientific book, but it’s a children’s picture book. My siblings and I all read it and enjoyed the pictures.

Things I liked:
  • The photography was amazing!
  • I loved the way the book was formatted.
Things that I didn’t like:
  • Honestly, the poetry didn’t do much for me.
  • The book is very environmental-ish,  listen-to-the-earth-ish, and glorifying “Nature” instead of God, which I really didn’t care for. A few quotes:

“Close your eyes tight. We are all made of light. Some of us even glow. We are secret siblings. Reflections of each other. Mysterious mirrors.”

a n d

“Nature is genius. This is our home.”

So yeah. Didn’t love that. At all. Three and a half stars, maybe?

On to the next book!

Return to Harmony, by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn

 

This was a birthday gift from a close friend. Return to Harmony was my first plunge into Janette Oke, and now I definitely want to read some of her other books.

Things I liked:
  • The relationships! The characters! They were just all so precious and… *tries not to reveal spoilers*
  • One of the plot twists surprised me, which is rare.
  • I know I already said this, but… THE CHARACTERS. Bethan was so sweet. I loved how it didn’t show Bethan and Jodie’s goals in life (to get married and have a family, to go to college, not get married, and study science)  as being bad or good. They were just different, which I appreciated.
  • The Christian elements and the SPOILER happily ever after sort of ending. END OF SPOILER. Just the kind I like best!
Things I didn’t like:
  • Honestly, the only one I can think of is that Ms. Oke is occasionally a little wordy, which is just a preference thing.
  • And there would be a huge spoiler here if it were up to me, but I shall spare you… Hey wait, it is up to me! So… MASSIVE SPOILER I really wanted Jodie and Dylan to get back together and they didn’t! 🙁 END OF MASSIVE SPOILER

All in all, a great read. Four and a half stars.

 

Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? Tell me anything and everything in the comments!

Book Review // Cinder

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.


Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.


But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

(Via Goodreads)

 

WOW THIS BOOK. Without a doubt, Cinder was one of my favorite books so far this year. I will attempt to stop fangirling for the majority of this review.

Y’all, in general, I do not like science fiction. (Although I enjoy dystopian, and it’s kind of a blend of both…) But this! This!!! I was totally, completely hooked. I mean – it’s a cyborg Cinderella story! Just yesssssss.

I loved Cinder. I loved the concept of her being an orphan, taken in unwillingly by Adri (the wicked stepmother), forced to work as a mechanic for a living. I loved the various themes that stretched through the book and came together SO PERFECTLY.

And Kai! He was such a good, noble character. The romance between him and Cinder seemed real, not forced, and it was so sweet. I wanted them to get together. (SPOILER I still want them to get together! END OF SPOILER)

Iko was so hilarious. I loved her personality.

The worldbuilding in general was fantastic. My disbelief was totally, delightfully suspended.

And Queen Levana. I haaaaaaaaate that woman. Ms. Meyer did a fantastic job of creating a villain that was SO FUN TO HATE.

And at the end! Oh my goodness. Why??! I was not a huge fan of the cliffhanger ending, and thought it could have been a little more resolved.

Warning to parents: there are some graphic descriptions, mostly medical-ish, in here that may disturb younger readers. For example, I would currently NOT allow my highly sensitive younger sister to read it, but I recommended it to my thirteen-year-old brother and he was totally fine with it. Also, there is (SPOILER) a long, 5-paragraph-long kiss. (END OF SPOILER.) I don’t like mushy stuff, so I skimmed over that part.

And those were my only complaints about this book. Seriously, guys. Go read it. SO GOOD. Four and a half stars.

Book Review // Hero

Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman can feel the changes. The sharpening of his senses. The incredible strength. The speed, as though he can textmessage himself across miles. The confidence and the strange need to patrol Central Park at night. His dad had been a hero, a savior to America and a confidante of the president. Then he died, and the changes began in Zach. What Zach never knew was that his father was no ordinary man-he was a superhero, battling the world’s evil. This is a battle that has been waged for generations and that knows no boundaries.

And now it’s Zach’s turn to take on the fight. It’s Zach’s turn to become a hero.

(Via Goodreads)

There were several character stereotypes in this book that got on my nerves.

  1.  The grieving teenager, investigating his father’s death, discovers he has superpowers
  2. The super-smart, super-pretty girlfriend
  3. The athletic bully
  4. The protective mom, trying to recover from the death of her husband by diving into work
  5. The uncle trying to step into the dad’s place
  6. The wise old-guy mentor
  7. The random, vague, cliché bad guys without motive or personality

None of those things are bad, they’re just overdone. It felt reminiscent of practically every superhero story ever.

Let’s dive into a few of the different characters and why they didn’t work for me.

Zach was just… ehhh. He didn’t grab me, but I didn’t hate him. He’s a typical kid, thrown into a whole new world after his dad’s death when he realizes he has superpowers and HE IS THE CHOSEN ONE AND HE MUST SAVE THE WORLD FROM THE EVIL NAMELESS BAD GUYS.

Kate is so, so, so, so cliché. She’s pretty. She’s smart. She’s determined. She teases Zach all the time and yet is incredibly supportive all the time. Yes, Kate got on my nerves.

Spence. Why must there be a mean, athletic bully every. single. time. I just don’t get it. This part really felt like Spiderman to me.

Elizabeth (Zach’s mom) is fine. She might be the best character in the book.. She’s a pretty typical mom-trying-to-recover-from-husband’s-death-and-take-care-of-her-kid-etc. She was okay.

Uncle John. This guy got on my nerves and I’m not even sure why. I didn’t completely understand what he had against Zach’s dad and Mr. Herbert, but maybe that’s just me.

And here were are at Mr. Herbert, the stereotypical old-dude mentor. (Noooooooo!!!!) He’s cryptic. He disappears and reappears when Zach isn’t expecting it. He drops little bits of wisdom here and there. He trains Zach. He quotes Spiderman. What’s not to like? Ummm… everything?

Now for my personal favorite. The “bad guys”. *FACEPALM* (I’m about to get spoiler-y here, so be warned.)

They (emphasis on THEY) are the Bads. Therefore they must be evil, even though we never. ever. get an introduction to them. Most of the encounters Zach has with “bad guys” are really just SPOILER tests by Mr. Herbert. END OF SPOILER.

The only actual bad guy Zach meets is the SPOILER assassin at Senator Kerrigan’s speech and he doesn’t even meet him properly, he just shoves him out of the way of the bullet. END OF SPOILER. So far we have nameless, faceless bad guys with NO MOTIVES that we’re supposed to believe are huge threats, or bad guys that SPOILER are really just tests by Mr. Herbert END OF SPOILER. Uhhh… no thanks.

Also, the beginning failed to get my attention. He dove straight into a fight scene without making me care about his characters, and therefore I did not care. Instead, I skimmed. Another no-no – he didn’t open his book with his protagonist. He opened with a character that’s dead the entire novel.

All in all, I didn’t like it. It had a lot of potential that, sadly, it didn’t live up to. It really felt like a first draft of a book that could have been good – but just wasn’t edited properly. One star, for the fact that it was a superhero story which I typically love, and that there was practically no violence or objectionable content.

 

 

 

What I Think Of Emma Woodhouse

A poem in the style of Doctor Suess // Expressing my righteous indignation at Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s Emma

 

I do not like her in a book

I do not like her in a nook

I do not like her personality

She would not win Miss Congeniality.

 

I do not like her here and there

I do not like her in her lair

If people heard the things she said

Behind their backs, they’d flush red.

 

Perhaps I’d like her with some kindness

Her biggest fault might be her blindness

Her prejudice could be much less

She’s worse than Miss Elizabeth*.

 

I do not like her matchmaking

It leaves my miserable head aching

From the times I’ve banged it against the wall

I do not like her, she makes me bawl.

 

Perhaps later in the story

She’ll fall in a different category

But until time can tell,

I do not like her. All is well.

 

*Bennet

 

I hope you were amused by my mini-poetical-rant. Seriously, am I the only person in the world who doesn’t like Emma Woodhouse? Pride and Prejudice was sooooo much better.

 

 

 

Book Review // The Giver Quartet

Yes, I am that weird girl who takes pictures of her books on the back deck… *sighs.

I read The Giver back in January, and I loved it!  I don’t typically like sad books, but this… this! Everyone should read it. It has a few graphic descriptions and it’s (as aforementioned) very sad, so I would only recommend it to mature readers.

But that ending! If you’ve read this book, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, go read it. (Kidding. Sorta.)

I had to read the next ones.

Had to.

Because that story ended in one of the worst places ever. Five stars.

Thus, I checked all of the sequels out the next time we went to the library. I started with Gathering Blue, and was sadly disappointed.

My number one question: where is Jonas?

My number two question: where is the awesome dystopian world from The Giver?

My number three, four, and five questions: Why? Why? Why?

Jonas wasn’t there, which was mostly apparent from the inside cover of the book. His world wasn’t there, which was quite evident by the time I got a few chapters in.

For me, the new world Ms. Lowry created just didn’t cut it. It was okay, it just wasn’t spectacular, like it was in the Giver. And a few of the accents started getting on my nerves.

Also, that ending! She seems as if she doesn’t know how to finish her books, because this one was totally unresolved – and (SPOILER) several things are totally unresolved even after reading the third and fourth books.

Oh dear. Two and a half stars.

On to Messenger.

This one was slightly better, although not much. It was still in the same setting as Gathering Blue, but with a different protagonist.

The only thing this one has going for it is that we FINALLY (SPOILER) get to know what happened to Jonas and certain other characters of importance! It’s about time.

Other than that, meh. I could’ve done without most of it. Three stars.

Son was by far the best post-Giver book.

It’s so good. And so sweet. And mostly resolved. (That was the best thing about it!) Again, this one is graphic/sad/occasionally scary, so I recommend it for mature readers.

I loved Claire. She was definitely the best main character besides Jonas. Of course there were some unanswered questions, but that’s to be expected with every series.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this one, it was still overshadowed by the awesomeness of The Giver. Definitely four stars, but The Giver was so much better.

All in all. if I could only recommend you one book in the series, I would say The Giver for sure. But don’t blame me if you can’t stop after that…

 Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

 

 

 

A Library Haul//What I’ve Been Reading

It totally hasn’t been over a week since I posted. You’re imagining it. Forget what you were thinking and certainly don’t scroll down to look at my previous post.

Oh, never mind.

Yes, I haven’t posted for eleven days. Sorry. Kind of.

The library might just be my favorite place… because where else would you get beauties like these (to follow)? Sarcastic reader: The bookstore, Zane. And I am totally not stealing an idea from Olivia. *Cough cough.

A random fact: I can literally feel my heart pounding faster when I come into a library and know I can check out as many as fifty beautiful stories. Although I usually stick with something more moderate like 15. Or 20.

And now it’s time for: Zane talking about the ones she’s read and hasn’t read and is looking forward to reading!… because I know y’all really want to read that! (Kidding… I’m kidding… But I really am going to ramble on about my books.)

First, my for-fun reads.

Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, by Lois Lowry. Ever since I read The Giver (which, by the way, was so fantastic that I cried), I’ve wanted to read the sequels.

Unfortunately, when I read Gathering Blue I was very disappointed. It’s not set in Jonas’s world, it’s not continuing his story (which I knew from the back of the book), and I didn’t really connect with the characters like I connected with Jonas.

I still want to read Messenger and Son, though. Because Gathering Blue ended on a unresolved note and I need to know what happens. To Jonas mainly. Because I didn’t really care about what’s her name. *Looks on Goodreads. Kira.

Also, does it bother anyone else that those covers don’t match? It totally bothers me…

I took out a few of the Whatever After series. Not the best fairy tale retelling series, and there are some things I don’t like about them, but y’all. I’m a sucker for fairy tales. Seriously.

I haven’t read any of these yet, but at least their covers match.

I got about three other for-fun books, and if I read them reviews on this blog/Goodreads will probably follow.

Then, of course I had to get some writing research(ish) books! Most of them are stories set in the time period I’m writing about, but then I got some serious factual ones as well. Some of the stories pictured here.

 

I’m currently reading:

Pie, by Sarah Weeks. Reading it for the second time, and honestly unimpressed. It’s quite dull. It’s one of my “research” reads, and I’m just… bored…

Emma, by Jane Austen. I’m having a hard time getting into it and every single character is annoying. Except for Mr. Knightley. I also have the ugliest cover ever. (That isn’t it.) Pride and Prejudice, people. Pride and Prejudice.

Yes, I really-and-truly am reading How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, by Jess Keating. I only picked it up because we were in the car and I forgot to bring a book.

It has the wrong title entirely. It should be called: Middle School Drama, Family Drama, Mean Kids, and Many Other Problems. And – it’s written for twelve year olds. Sad. I’m glad I didn’t go to public middle school. The only reason I’m not giving up on it is so I can give it a critical review. Yes, I am a very mean person.

 Is Emma boring to other people or is it just me? Do you have any thoughts on these books?

Hope everyone has a great week!

-Zane

 

 

Book Review: The Storybook of Legends, by Shannon Hale

“At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.” (Via Goodreads)

Don’t get me wrong, I love Shannon Hale. Some of my very favorite fantasy/fairy tales include her Princess Academy and The Goose Girl. And I know they’re super young for me, but I think her Princess in Black books are so cute! But with this book, I really wasn’t impressed.

I was a bit leery from the beginning, when I found The Storybook of Legends at the thrift store. Normally I would not choose a book with a cover and blurb like this, but it was by Shannon Hale, so I decided to give it a try. I put off reading it, but finally read it on Saturday, on the way to North Carolina.

It was possibly one of my least favorite fairy tale retellings ever.

The prologue was decent, and piqued my interest ever-so-slightly.

And then came Chapter One, and I was roundly disgusted. There were puns covering every page, screaming to be edited out. I don’t know, maybe some people like this kind of humor, but unfortunately I don’t. Here’s a sampler of the fun little puns you’ll find in the first two chapters. And it gets worse from here.

Tailor Quick (Taylor Swift – ha. ha. ha. Not.)

 MirrorPod (iPod)

 Wicked cool (Is that even a pun? I don’t think so, but I’m including it anyway [And my dad just informed me that real people actually say this. I’m homeschooled. Give me some grace here.])

MirrorPhone (iPhone…)

One Reflection (I almost didn’t get this one, since I’m generally not exposed to a lot of pop culture. But then I remembered all the merchandise I’d seen in stores with One Direction stamped on it, and figured it out. Yay me, the pop culture genius.)

Hext message (Text message. Are you really being serious right now?)

Charm you later (Uhhhh….)

Are you sufficiently sickened? Good. Let me rant for a moment about the overuse of the word “hex”. The last time I checked my dictionary, “hex” meant witchcraft, a spell, or a charm. Guys! That’s not a good thing! Hexcellent? Really? The Bible forbids witchcraft. And yet, this word was used flippantly and punnishly (yes, I just made up that word. If they can do it, I can too.) throughout the entire book.

Another thing that really bothered me was how cool the author tried to make the characters. I’m not sure how to say this, but it felt like really stereotypical high school behavior. (Not that I know much ABOUT high school behavior… I’m homeschooled. So pretty much all my knowledge of stuff like that comes from books and my parents. Which is definitely a good thing.)

Most of the characters annoyed me, especially Apple and her clique of girls. Maddie… Maddie was just weird. And the whole thing with her “hearing” the Narrator? I think it was supposed to be clever…

Raven was all right… ish. She seemed really rebellious to me, even though she was supposed to be one of the “good” ones. I’m not talking about her disobeying her mother’s commands to be mean – it just felt like she had a rebellious attitude throughout.

There was a slight (very very slight) romance which was kind of not needed.

The ending was unresolved, probably because there are two other books after it. Two books that I am not going to read. Because honestly… It was kind of awful.

The initials of Ever After High perfectly sum up my feelings about this book.

EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!

(And here’s a random writerly/nitpicky thing that really bothered me for some reason. She used the phrase “dawning of the dawn.” Was that a typo? *pulls out red marker and begins marking edit suggestions)

The main reason that I didn’t like this book is that it really wasn’t my style. It’s not inappropriate.  So if you like this book (or love it!), don’t be afraid to say so! Friends always differ on some point or another, and a book is a pretty mild thing to disagree on.

My actual rating would be one and a half stars. I’m going by the Goodreads method of rating – one star means I didn’t like it. Two means it was okay. For me it was between those two.

 Hope you enjoyed my review/rant. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Books of 2016

There are exactly 16 books on this list. No more. No less. It was accidental, but I think it worked out rather nicely, for the end of 2016.

I read a lot last year.

Over 360 books.

I know this because I didn’t start Goodreads until March and I had read a lot before that… and I didn’t start plugging my Currently Reading books in until later. So, it was probably closer to 400.

Not sure.

Let’s move on.

Without further ado, my favorite books of 2016.

I was introduced to Trixie Belden last year. And it was so good. SO GOOD. I’m almost to the point of fangirling over this series. Just… yes. See my full review of it here.

Mama’s Bank Account was one of our school books last year. It was so sweet, so funny, so good.

A Triumph for Flavius is extremely short, meant for younger children. We read it for school quite a while back, but I’ve read it so many times since. I love it.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown is the fourth book in the Betsy-Tacy series, and so far my favorite. Betsy reminds me so much of myself. I love her. I’ve loved her for a long time. And I plan to keep on loving her until the day I die.

The Westing Game is one of the best mysteries I read last year. Even though it was a reread, it was still so good. And it’s the kind of complex book that if you let it sit unread for a year or so, the plot twists will be new again! (Disclaimer: this will probably only work a few times.)

I don’t think I liked The Bronze Bow at first, but now I love it. Definitely a modern classic.

The Horse and His Boy. Oh, how I love this book. It’s just so good. Everyone should read it. Everyone. ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET. (Too much fangirling? Sorry…)

Another school book from years ago. Raiders from the Sea was the beginning of one of my all-time favorite series a year or so ago, and I’m still rather fond of it. Warning: this book stops on a SERIOUS cliffhanger. Proceed with extreme caution.

I wasn’t expecting to like this. But My Side of the Mountain was pleasantly surprising.

Ugh. This cover… it’s just… ugh. Honestly, I haven’t loved any of the covers for this book. Anyway, Ella Enchanted is one of my favorites. Of all time. Maybe. This makes me think of the dreaded “What’s your favorite book?” question.

A Woman’s Wartime Journal was the poignant story of a Confederate woman during the Civil War. It was fascinating to see the other side of the story that’s rarely portrayed by modern works. I’ve embedded a link, but I’m not sure that it’s the exact version that I have.

I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time last year, and it was so good that I read it in a day. (I’m on the verge of fangirling again…)

This book was so good! I’ve checked it out from our local library several times. It’s by the author of Pippi Longstocking, which in my opinion is good, but not as great as Bill Bergson. Unfortunately, it’s out of print and the only copies I could find on Amazon were upwards of $350.

I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings, but a lot of the time they’re just… not great. The Goose Girl is one of the good ones.

A Little Princess has been one of my favorites for a long time. Read it. It’s really good. And isn’t the cover beautiful?

The Princess Bride. Yessssssssssssssss. However, a short reading guide: SKIP THE FIRST 36 PAGES. And then, after you’ve read the lovely story, SKIP PAGES 357 TO THE END. Believe me. You’ll be much happier this way. Unless you want read about some boring guy rambling about himself for forever. Or a bunch of random scene fragments. Or a complete letdown. Just trust me. I’d say I was sorry, but I’m not. Skip those sections if you knows what’s good for you.

Wow. That was a lot of rambling.

Can you tell I really hate this book? And love it at the same time?

Well. I do.

I’M NOT SORRY.

And…

Those were my favorite books of 2016. Hope you enjoyed reading, and have a great 2017!

What were your favorite books last year? Leave answers in the comments.