Andora’s Folly Blog Tour! // Q+A vlog

 

I am thrilled to be participating in Abigayle Claire’s blog tour for her latest release, Andora’s Folly! I had the pleasure of beta reading for her, which was an amazing experience.

I was able to ask Abigayle a few questions, which she answered in a vlog that you can view below. But first, a few details about the book!

SYNOPSIS

A Pandora’s Box retelling

Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense鈥攈er arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband鈥檚 temperament.

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant’s wife can save her from her folly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abigayle has been a writer ever since her mother taught her how to hold a pencil. However, she devoted more time to reading words with her green eyes than writing them with her left hand. Inspired by a crazy dream at the age of seventeen, she set off on a journey to self-publish her first novel, Martin Hospitality. Since then, Abigayle has devoted herself to sharing what she has learned through the mediums of freelance editing, and her blog theleft-handedytpist.blogspot.com … when period drama films are not calling more loudly. None of her successes would be possible without the support of her Savior, large family, and online community.

Sound interesting? Click here for the Amazon link so you can check it out! (It’s less than three dollars for Kindle, guys. :D) Also, here is the Goodreads link if Goodreads is your thing.

And here is the lovely vlog! I almost squealed when I saw it. I’ve chatted with Abigayle in various ways, but it’s fun to see her talk – it puts a voice behind the profile picture. 馃檪

That was my surprise! So, what do you think? Are you interested in Andora’s Folly? Did you like the vlog? (Also, sorry for the wonky featured image. I couldn’t fix it. :P)

The Interrogation Tag

Hello everyone! Recently, Olivia at Important Nothings and I came up with questions to ask Emma at Real and Official Matters. She turned it into a tag, which is why I’m doing it聽now! Thanks for the tag, Olivia!

Get to Know Me

What are 3-5 little-known facts about yourself?
  • Even though I love people and sometimes seem outgoing, I don’t like crowds or talking to more than a couple of people at once.
  • I have broken every bone in my left arm and my right femur. Also, I’m pretty sure I broke my toe (right foot, next to my pinky toe), because it doesn’t bend anymore. Lovely, right?
  • I read more middle grade fiction than YA and adult fiction. That probably explains why I don’t feel/act like I’m fifteen (sometimes I act older, mostly I act younger), like reading picture books, and am still hoping to get mutant powers and join the X-Men. (What? Okay, fine, I’m kidding… but you have to admit, it would be kind of amazing.)
  • I love聽listening to聽the Beach Boys and Elvis. Also a lot of random music from the 1950s and 60s. I’m actually listening to an Elvis song right now.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

I’d have to say either England or Germany, but there are so many places I think would be fascinating to visit. Those are just the first two off the top of my head.

What are your favorite and least favorite foods?

Well, obviously I love pretty much anything with chocolate. Even though I do have a sweet tooth, I also really like savory foods. Pretty much anything my mom makes is awesome.

I just really like food in general. And eating it.

Foods I don’t like…

  • Cabbage. Gross.
  • Plain milk as a drink. Also coffee and coke.
  • Sauerkraut. Bleh.
What are some of your hobbies?

Writing has gone a step beyond a hobby for me, so… I guess that doesn’t count. Some of my other hobbies are blogging, reading, bullet journaling (and regular journaling), playing piano, and occasionally crocheting, although I don’t do that as much as I used to. One of my favorite things to do with a group of people is English Country Dancing.

Tea or coffee?

Ugh, neither. Coffee is absolutely disgusting, and tea is mediocre. Mint tea is okay. I’ve honestly never really loved any drink except water.

Bookish Questions

Do you like movies or books better?

Books, certainly, but I enjoy movies too. (And since this is my blog and聽I can, I’ll just go ahead and dump a movie recommendation on you. If you haven’t watched Beyond the Mask, go watch it. Now. Seriously, one of the best Christian movies I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe ever. <333333)

There was one book/movie set where I liked the movie a lot better, but that’s a ramble for another day.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I’ll read most genres, but my favorites have always been historical fiction and speculative fiction. I’ve been reading more contemporary lately, though.

What are some of your favorite books?

Stop. STOP. Noooo… not this question! If you don’t like long book lists, you might want to skip this part. They’re in no order, of course, and obviously I must ramble about each one…

  • A Little Princess. Man, I loved this story the first time I read it… and the second… and the third… This may have been what sparked my soft spot for orphans and poor children. <3
  • The Giver. *sobs*
  • The Chronicles of Narnia. These books really shaped my writing. I will always love this series.
  • The Little House series. I read the first book at age four or five, and it really sparked my love of reading. These books will always have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.
  • The Lunar Chronicles.
  • Pretty much anything by L.M. Montgomery. Her writing style is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read. Also, read her short stories. They’re amazing.
  • Pride and Prejudice. Enough said.
  • Dreamlander. The world building in this one was amazing.
  • Little Women. A classic.
  • The Princess Bride. There were some not-so-great parts in here, so I would recommend skipping the prologue and the epilogue. Ugh. But the story though.
  • The Trixie Belden series. This series just feels like nostalgic, 1950s, old-fashioned聽summer. <333

And that’s not even all of them. Sigh.

A fictional character (or maybe three) that you’d like to be friends with?

This is cruel and unusual punishment. ONLY three? Hahaha I don’t follow rules anyway.

Well… here they are. With some accompanying rambling.

  • Pat from Pat of Silver Bush. I don’t like change, and neither does Pat. I related to her a lot, and think we’d be good friends. 馃檪 This one’s due for a reread…
  • Both Dan + Jim, from the Trixie Belden series.聽I just wanted to hug both of them when they were first introduced. Poor darlings. And plus, being a part of the Bobwhites? Win.
  • Rachel from Dancing Shoes. I just loved her and related to her a lot, okay? I need to reread this book. I loved it so much.
  • Shasta, from the Horse and His Boy. He had such a hard time and I just loved him so much and… yeah. (also SPOILER his name is SHASTA not COR. Shasta is so. much. nicer. and he will forever be Shasta in my mind. End of spoiler.)
  • Arietty from the Borrowers. If anyone needed a friend, it was her. Poor girl.
  • Laura Ingalls from the Little House series. Because she sort of fictionalized her life. Therefore this counts, right? Right??? Anyway, she is an absolute dear and I would have loved to have her as a friend.
  • Widge from the Shakespeare Stealer + Nat from Give Me Liberty because they are both alone in the world and one is an orphan and another is practically one and… yeah. Okay. (YES ZANE WE CAN ALL TELL YOU HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR ORPHANS AND UNFORTUNATE KIDS. YOU DON’T NEED TO GO ON ABOUT IT.)

To prove above point, six of the above nine characters are orphans. There. (And yes. Nine characters instead of three. I’m hopeless.)

Prettiest book cover that you own?

I don’t know why, but this one is really pretty and even though I didn’t love the book I might keep it anyway…

And this one I just think is cute? The entire story is actually really cute.

And I don’t own a physical copy of this book聽(yet!)聽but it’s just SO PRETTY. (It’s available for preorder here.)

Update: somehow I forgot to add these two gorgeous books. They’re recently acquired, so… I just… didn’t remember. :\

Writing Questions

What is your favorite writing snack?

Um, obviously chocolate. But I’ll just grab whatever food’s聽on the kitchen table and kind of mindlessly devour it while I’m puzzling through plot problems.

When did you start writing?

Technically, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil, but I never took it seriously until around age 10-12. I’ve been writing ever since.

Why do you write?

Because I CAN.

Ha.

Okay, fine, here’s the serious answer.

Writing is like breathing to me. I love it, even though sometimes it’s hard when the words just won’t write. I聽can’t imagine not writing.

Got it?

Good.

Moving on.

What is your favorite genre to write?

I write in a wide variety of genres. For a while I was obsessed with fantasy and it was literally the only thing I wrote (I’m not exaggerating here), but I’ve since branched out to other genres such as contemporary, historical, and different types of speculative. I still love fantasy, though. (:

I won’t be tagging anyone, but as usual, please feel free to take this tag for your blog! The questions are lots of fun to answer. You can even say I tagged you. ; )

Did you like this tag? If you could be friends with a fictional character, who would you choose? What are your favorite books? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. <33

Author Interview with Kellyn Roth // Blog Tour

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kellyn Roth,聽who is launching the new covers of her novels The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective. She’s a great author and a lot of fun to interview!

聽First, a bit about her.

 

Kellyn Roth was born and raised in the country outside a small town in North-Eastern Oregon. Ever since she could talk, she’s had a fascination with words, always coming up with songs, poems, and stories. Now a homeschooled highschooler, she spends her spare time penning historical novels, several of which have been published.

WebsiteBlog 路聽Newsletter FacebookAmazon Goodreads

 

聽Let’s jump into the interview!

 

Welcome, Kellyn! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Kellyn Roth (obviously) –聽author, blogger, highschool student, country girl, princess, and lover of border collies, horses, books, and especially chocolate. I write historical fiction with dashes of Christianity. My favorite color is pink … like, soft pink, though. I also like red. And blue. And emerald green. *nods*

How long have you been writing? Did you want to be published from the start?

I started (officially) writing when I was about seven. I didn’t really think about publishing until I was eleven. So … I’ve been writing seriously for four (almost five) years, while I’ve been writing less seriously for eight or nine years.

Was there anything in particular that inspired The Dressmaker鈥檚 Secret?

Not really. To be honest, I came up for the idea when I decided to write a “little” story based on the backstory of one of my characters from a book I never finished writing but still made a lot of plans for.

Confused? If not, your comprehension abilities are amazing!

Who is your favorite character you鈥檝e ever written?

My favorite character has actually yet to appear in a published novel. Though her grandmother has (and no, you won’t be informed who that is).

Her name is Ruby Farjon. She was born August 15th, 1925, and she was based after me, though, to be honest, very little of me actually shows up in her. She’s sort of a fantasy of what I’d be like if I was boy-crazy (I hardly think about boys) and extraverted (*hides in a hole*). But she is very fun to write, just because she is spunky聽and sweet. Also, she has this trait where she is serious when she really needs to be that I like. Although, honestly, her ‘needs to be’ are few and far in between. 馃槈 She’s really not an amazing character … I don’t know why I like her so much!

Where do you go for writing help?

I have a couple writing groups who I can ask questions of, but generally I turn to Google first. Then my fallback is www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com. K.M. Weiland’s writing help blog is extremely useful, and it usually has what I’m looking for.

Do you eat/drink anything while writing?

Not usually. However, if I do, I usually get a glass of icewater. Not because I want to be healthy, but because I never drink water and therefore am always thirsty. 馃槈 But if I had a choice in the matter, I’d be eating all kinds of candy and chocolate and such while I write! (Yes, I am probably going to kill myself with unhealthiness … although I suppose I’m only dreaming about being unhealthy right now …)

What will you be working on next? Will you continue writing?

My next project is a historical fiction novel set during the 1850s, Once a Stratton. It’s about the Abolition, the Underground Railroad, etc. I’m perhaps 50% through it, and I hope to write the rest in July along with a novella called Interpreting Callie James, which is a sweet romance set in 1910. At some point this summer, I’m also going to begin my edits for The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, Book 3: At Her Fingertips.

Any final thoughts?

Thanks for interviewing me, Zane! It was wonderful to answer your questions and have you participate in my blog tour. <3

 

So. There will be a giveaway for Kellyn’s books right here, and here’s the rest of the blog tour schedule so you can come along for the ride! Make sure you check it out!

Tuesday the 20th

-Lana @ The Music of Words (book and character spotlight)

Wednesday the 21st

-Faith Blum @ Bookish Orchestrations (author interview)

-Josie @ Josie on the Go (reviews of TDS and IvIn)

Thursday the 22nd

-Tonya @ Literary Musings (reviews of TDS and IvIn)

-Leona @ Great Books for God鈥檚 Girls (review of IvIn, author interview)

Friday the 23rd

-Jordy @ Jordy Leigh (author interview)

Saturday the 24th

-May Everly @ Forever and Everly (author interview)

-Zane Jones @ Simple Impossibilities (author interview)

Sunday the 25th

-Dani Eide @ Perspective of a Writer (character interview and spotlight)

Monday the 26th

-Brianna Henderson @ Orthodoxy, Hobbits, and Tea (review of TDS and IvIn)

-Anika Joy @ This Journey Called Life (review of TDS and IvIn)

-Maddy @ Girls Living for God鈥檚 Glory (book spotlight)

Tuesday the 27th

-Heather @ Frozen Books Blog (guest post)

-J.C. Buchanan @ Beyond the Amethyst (review of TDS and IvIn)

Wednesday the 28th

-Jesseca Wheaton @ Whimsical Writings for His Glory (author interview, book spotlight)

-Jaylee Morgan @ Jaylee Morgan Writes (character interview and guest post)

Thursday the 29th

-Zielle @ My Homeschool Notebook (review of TDS and IvIn)

-Sarah Briel @ Penumbra Reviews (review of TDS and IvIn, author interview)

-Sel H. @ Hearth (author interview)

Friday the 30th

-Angela R. Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger (author interview)

-Lainey @ Direct My Paths (reviews of TDS, character interview and spotlight)

-Dawn Dagger @ Dawn Dagger鈥檚 Official Blog (review of TDS, author interview)

 

Thanks for reading!

-Zane

 

 

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.聽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聽– 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 clich茅 at all (something I don’t like)! I love Burndee and Ella, and I love all the other characters too! Ella聽is very sweet, thoughtful, and content, which I appreciate. Burndee is hilarious.

One of the major clich茅 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,聽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. 馃槈 She’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Reluctant Godfather along with lots of other things!

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

Author Interview

Welcome, Allison! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I聽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聽– 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聽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聽got this idea聽from a picture my friend Emma Grace聽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聽The Candymakers聽by the聽same author and enjoyed it.聽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聽A Wrinkle聽in Time聽(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,聽but I’m聽trying it. The聽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!聽The Mystery Off Glen Roadwas 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聽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聽big聽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.聽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聽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,聽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聽you to tell me聽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, 聽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聽college, not get married, and study science)聽 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…聽MASSIVE SPOILER I really wanted Jodie and Dylan to get back together and they didn’t! 馃檨 END OF MASSIVE SPOILER

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

 

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

April // Recap

 

Life…

Various things that happened this month, not in any order because I am a scatterbrained person:

softball, softball, softball! (for my brother, not me ;D although I am Team Mom)

kept our friends’聽cute kittens聽馃檪

I turned fifteen. Yikes…

got baby chicks!!! They are the most adorable things. We got six total and their names are Sally, Hazel Rose, Priscilla, Trixie, and Attila the Hen. In case you’re wondering about the sixth, her name was Hazel (the first) and she died on us unexpectedly. 馃檨

Sally (above) and Hazel Rose (below)

finished school!!!! Mostly, at least… we have a bit of catchup to do.

had a piano recital. I was terrified. But at least I did all right,聽I think聽馃槈 Here are a few photos taken beforehand.

helped our grandparents move. I took this weird picture in a mirror that was propped up against my dad’s truck. It looks like a portal to Narnia or something.

Easter was lovely. Made Resurrection cookies with my family and also two rabbit cakes. They were delicious.

When my grandparents were moving, they gave us a box of jewelry. Hope put on a bunch of gold necklaces and said she was Mr. T/B.A. Baracus! 馃榾

probably lots of other things happened that I’m forgetting. But I can’t write them down because I forgot.

Reading…

 

Wow-ee, I managed to read 21 books this month. Most of them were: A. books that needed to be returned to the library, B. books to be read for little sister, C. both.

Favorites:

The Lunar Chronicles, of course! ALL OF THEM! They were just so good and I need the fourth one immediately. By far my favorites.

I am happy and proud to say that today I finished my very last library book. (Probably?) We won’t be going for a while, because last time we had massive overdue fees. Whoops.

Writing…

Congratulations to everyone who won Camp NaNo!!!

I had an irresistible plot bunny back at the end of March. I usually don’t have a problem taking a short break from my WIP if it’s just a short story, and that’s what this little rabbit聽said聽it was.

LIAR.

I said last month I was almost done. Well… I’m not. My so-called “short story” morphed into a monstrous beast. It’s going to be a middle grade/young adult novel. Somewhere in there.聽I’m hoping to be done by the end of this month (ish). Its code name is Supernova. And that’s pretty much all I can say about it.

I just love these characters so much, y’all.

Listening…

I’ve practically had these songs on repeat while writing all month.

聽Hero, by Family of the Year. if I had to pick a soundtrack to my WIP, this would be it.

I See Fire, by Ed Sheeran. This has practically nothing to do with my story but it gave me this really good feeling anyway? Oh well. My brain is not to be comprehended.

Anything by Lauren Daigle. She has such a聽great voice…

Anything by the Piano Guys. I just love their renditions of songs! So cool.

Blogging…

This month I:

said goodbye to march

ranted about what I thought about Emma Woodhouse聽in Dr. Suess form

posted some opening lines of my stories through the years

told my writing story

wrote some book reviews here and here

and totally missed my deadline on Saturday, but who’s counting?

 

Elsewhere:

Olivia at Important Nothings聽did the Blogger Book Tag!

Go Teen Writers had a great post about when you have “no time to write”.

Jonathan at聽Fishing for Ideas wrote a fantastic post about merging fiction with faith.

Hannah Heath posted some thought-provoking ideas about mentor characters.

Abbiee聽wrote an extremely relatable post about ridiculous things we ponder as writers.

Kate at Once Upon an Ordinary had some great tips on beta-reading.

Loving…

These hairsticks. I have thick, heavy聽hair that comes a bit past my hips, and hairsticks are my favorite way to put it up. I have other hairsticks but these are my favorites right now. They’re smooth and comfortable, sliding easily聽into my hair.聽Not to mention the聽fact that they’re pretty. 馃槈聽I’m thinking about buying another set – maybe these or these.

Eos lip balm. I didn’t think I’d like the round shape, but I love it! It’s super moisturizing and I use it all the time. I got the sweet mint scent.

This Month…

I’m planning to:

work on Project Supernova (I’m not setting a word count goal because I don’t really keep track of my word count anyway). I’m not sure I’ll finish but it sure would be nice if I did.

do #walk30days! I was inspired by Nadine Brandes to do this challenge. The rules are: take a walk every day. Take a picture every day. Post the picture every day. I walked this morning with Gracie-dog and it was pretty fun. 馃檪

write more blog posts, since we’re on summer break. I have an idea for a summer bucket list and that’ll probably be coming soon.

play the piano more for fun.

lots of other things that I had thought of and now I’ve forgotten. *smacks forehead…*

 

How was your April? Did you do Camp NaNo? How was Easter? I’d love to hear about your month 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.聽Without a doubt, Cinder was one of my favorite聽books so far this year.聽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聽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聽several character stereotypes in this book that got on my nerves.

  1. 聽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, clich茅 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聽a few of the different characters聽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 clich茅. 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聽failed聽to get my attention.聽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聽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聽there was聽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聽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.