Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Book Review: Kiera/Favorite Authors & Books #10

    After reading various recommendations and reviews about this book, I was *very* excited to receive it for my birthday recently! I'd been planning on buying it myself, but turns out, it was gifted to me just before I'd made up my mind to purchase it. 

And now, may I present. . . .

Sensitive content: some romance (but it's between husband and wife), some serious content (regarding imprisonment and death)

Age recommendation: 12+

My rating: 5 stars

   My anticipation for this book was not wasted or disappointed! I adore this book. It has some more serious themes, as stated above, but it is not vividly described and portrayed in a biblical view. The entire book has a definite Christian theme, which I very much appreciated. 

   I'm going to take a moment here to state one definite, indisputable fact: Brennan is an a.m.a.z.i.n.g character. I can't go further than that without revealing spoilers, but may I just say that I loved his role in this storyline! 

   And Kiera is somehow very relatable . . . at least for me. Of course, she's not just like me (I'd definitely react differently to a certain situation she's placed in), but the emotions she deals with are not over-exaggerated. I appreciated how she never turned her back on God, even when she's confused and hurt. 

   This earned a full five stars from me! I loved the Christian theme, the unique plot, and pretty much everything. It's very well-written, and the romance is very sweet and appropriate. Oh, and Jade. . . ! I love that little girl.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

    "Don't judge a book by its cover."

   Ever heard that one? I have. And I have mixed feelings about it.

   The point it's trying to get across is great! Don't judge something by its appearance. It's what's inside that counts. Beauty is only skin-deep. And that's true.

But . . .

   When it comes to taking the saying literally, not symbolically, that's where I don't just disagree, but it's kind of obvious that view is flawed . . . severely!

   So, question: if a book has a gorgeous cover and it catches your eye, are you going to be willing to spare a fragment of your precious time to peek at the synopsis of that lovely item which has so piqued your curiosity?

   My answer: yes!

   In contrast, if the cover is so boring that it has no depth, no unique title, and no features that pop whatsoever, would you seriously be willing to sacrifice the picking up of the book to view the synopsis?

   My answer: uhhh, yeah, I probably still would. 

But simply because I'd be curious of what kind of book would have such a dull cover.

   In other words, which one of these two catches your attention in a positive way that encourages you to give it a second glance?


Becoming Miss Knight: an Alice and Ivy novella (The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy) by [Kellyn Roth]   

Or . . . this?

   And no offense intended to anyone who has a name similar in any way to this fake author name I literally just came up with off the top of my head. But, seriously. The text is a boring sans serif (sorry, sans serif! You're great, but you've got no place on this already-dull phony book cover) and it clashes with the rocks in the background. It's kind of hard to even read the fake author name at the bottom. Besides, the picture gives about as much context to the story as the title does. (Again, no offense to anyone who might have a book titled anything similar to this one.) Would you want to read this one? I probably wouldn't . . . unless it had a really intriguing synopsis. 

   Contrast that with the amazing cover above it. Now that's a cover that draws my attention! The colors, the picture itself, the delicate accents on the sides, the title, and even the font of the words. Beautiful!

   Okay, so I am not insulting whoever first said "don't judge a book by its cover." Don't get me wrong; there's a good deal of wisdom in it symbolically. But in a literal sense?

   I am a very amateur graphic designer, but even before I got into it, I loved a good book cover. And I did -and still do- judge books by their covers. Moreover, I have a genuine, heartfelt question to go with that confession:

 honestly, who doesn't judge a book by its cover-- even in the slightest way??

   A cover can be simple . . . in fact, it should be pretty simple. But it should not be boring. That dries up any interest a viewer might have initially had . . . at least for most people. 

   I'm going to use this post as an excuse to display some fantastic book covers I've seen. And now, in no particular order, here they are (I have not read any of these . . . I'm just basing these opinions purely off the cover design):

Flowers in Her Heart: a story of old scars and new beginnings (Kees & Colliers Book 3) by [Kellyn Roth]

Never Say Goodbye by [Sarah Grace Grzy]

Tattered Wings: Rangers Lead the Way!! by [Kassie  Angle]
  Side note: I love Golden Retrievers, so . . .

Dewdrops And Butterflies by [Libby May]

   *Ahem* Well, when I started this post, I wasn't sure what the point of it was except to post some covers I think are amazing, so . . . thank you, dear readers, for bearing with me as I rambled about a random topic that has no conclusive ending. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Writerly Sibling Tag

   Ahhh-kay, so . . . never done this tag before, and I'm not sure whether I'll be able to finish all the questions very easily, but I'll do my best!

Rule One: Thank the blogger who tagged you & provide a link to their post. That would be Abby. She took it from Katja, who took it from someone else who . . . yeah, anyway . . . thanks, Abby!

Rule Two: Answer the inquiries, including any ones added by means of rule six. 

Rule Three: Always use your own characters. No exception, unless you don't actually have sibling characters (in which case you need to go write up some) or you don't write (in which case you need to start ASAP).

Rule Four: Tag three other bloggers.

Rule Five: If you happen to have any siblings who blog, they are automatically tagged & cannot count towards your three.

Rule Six: Add one question or prompt to the list of questions the person before you answered related to siblings &/or characters. Answer the question, and provide a list of all the questions that you have answered so far.

Rule Seven: Close out the post making some statement or other glorifying the King of Kings.

   And now onto the questions.

   Name the most annoying sibling character in any of your stories (either annoying to you as the author or to any other characters).

   Oh no. Annoying, huh? Well, well. Hmm. Now that I really think about it, this is hard! I guess the only "annoying sibling" characters I tend to write I secretly adore because they're really awesome inside. Most of the truly obnoxious characters are loners and don't have siblings (as far as I know). Okay, let's go with Evelynn from my back-burner story In Christ Alone. She's actually the main character. She's kind of abrupt, and practically worships her little sister to the point of becoming irksome.

   Name the most caring sibling character in any of your stories.

   Ye-e-esss! Okay, I'm going to cheat just a little and say Millie from Millie's Miracle. She technically isn't adopted into the Giles family, nor is she their blood relative in any way, but she lives with them and acts like a sibling to Marie and Lois. Oh, I love her! Millie has such a huge heart and is always wanting to help others, and . . . oh, she's the best!

   Name the most entertaining sibling character in any of your stories.

   My sweet little Jimmy! He's the main character from Going Ballistic. He is such a fun character to write!! I just love him; he's the over-emphasized, even-more-dramatic boy version of a little me! Always overthinking things; constantly getting hyped up over something that seems like a dot-sized issue to everyone else. I'm not as dramatic as he is, for sure, but I can relate to a lot of his personality. He's a delightfully hilarious pessimist! 

   Name a siblings character who was inspired in some way by an actual sibling.

   Ahh, yes. Emm from Going Ballistic has a lot in common with my youngest real-life sister. Very girly and kind of fluttery, but is really sweet under it all.  

   Name the largest character family (talking family, not family tree) in any of you stories.

   Oh my. I have some stories from wa-a-ay back when I wrote those multiple paragraph chapters in which I gave my MC a 15+ biological family. I have no clue what they were called though (those stories are probably sitting in some old partially-demolished notebook somewhere), so I'll go with all my more recent stories. And of them, apparently most of my MCs don't have any set number of siblings yet. So, I'm going to "cheat" again . . . Margaret from The Prestigious Fugitive acts as a big sister to a whole orphanage of children (she's the oldest "child" there). How's that for a family??

   Provide one to three excerpts from your sibling characters' dialogue from any of your stories.

   Goody! Here you go!

   A moment later, with her legs securely bound by the fluttery ribbons, Emm turned her attention to her second present. She grabbed it and peeked at the label on the top. Then she turned her smile to me. “This is from you?”

   My mouth was so dry by this time that I couldn’t have said anything even if I wanted to. I just nodded and watched anxiously as she began obliterating the wrapping. When she reached the flaps and began pulling them apart, I sucked in a sharp breath and awaited her reaction on pins and needles.

   Emm puffed out a small sigh and stared down into the box. A strange look crossed her face. Through my nervous eyes, it looked as if she was about to laugh. Then she reached down into the box and began lifting my gift out of it.

   I bit my tongue and gaped at her. Please like it, please like it, please like it!

   A sudden giggle burst from Emm as she set the music box down onto the table and caressed the top of it. The lid was adorned with a meadow scene, complete with bunnies, wildflowers, and a fawn. Emm lifted it and gasped. Inside was a tiny white bunny that was sitting back on its haunches with its tiny pink nose stuck into the air. 

   Emm lifted her shining eyes to mine. “How do I make it go?” She asked eagerly.

   I leaned across the table and tapped the lower backside of the music box with my finger. “Turn this knob.”

   Emm obediently began twisting the oval knob. When she heard the little clicking sound, she let go. In response, a soft melody poured from the body of the box, and the upright bunny began turning round and round. My little sister listened, eyes bulging, and her fingers began stroking the twirling rabbit’s head.

   When the last strains of the lullaby faded away, she slowly raised her head and cocked an eyebrow. For one horrible second, it looked like she was about to roll her eyes.

   My heart sank to my toes. I knew I should’ve gotten that princess music box instead.

   Then I got the surprise of my life. Emm slipped out of her seat and threw her arms around my neck. 

   Heat crept up into my neck and exploded in my cheeks. My little sister rarely showed such affection to me. I guess I picked the right present.

~Going Ballistic

  “Lois! Come back!” Millie choked out, stumbling her way as fast as she could toward the younger girl. 

   Lois darted behind a tree.

   Millie slowed her steps when she came to the trunk where she knew Lois was hiding. “Lois?” A sharp intake of breath sounded from it. She rounded the tree and stopped short. 

   Lois was sitting with her back to the rough bark. Her face was buried in her knees, which she’d drawn up to her chest. A strangled whimpering sound accompanied the scrunch-crunch of the snow as she slowly rocked back and forth. 

   Millie dropped gently to the ground next to her, at a loss for words. Lois crying? Millie had not seen Lois shed a tear a day in her life, and Millie had been with them for four years. Unsure of what to do, she simply sat back against the tree and put a hand on Lois’s shoulder. Just then, two words burst unexpectedly from her. “I’m sorry.”

   Lois lifted her tear-streaked face and drew her brows together in confusion. She eyed Millie for a moment, as if trying to process what the older girl had just said. 

   Then Millie got the surprise of her life. Even the shock she’d felt as a tiny girl when seeing other poor girls getting carted from the orphanage in little wooden boxes could not be compared to this. Lois flung her arms around Millie’s neck, buried her head in Millie’s shoulder, and burst into shuddering sobs.

   Once the initial shock had worn off, Millie drew her arms tight around Lois and held her close. She felt the violent shivering of Lois’s shoulders and the frantic fluttering of Lois’s heart. A sudden burst of insight made Millie squeeze Lois tighter. 

   Lois wasn’t much younger than Millie, but all she’d known was a father that was hardly ever home and a mother who cared more for her own comfort than for her own kin. Her little sister was too young to truly understand her, and the one person she might confide in thought her cruel.

   She thinks I despise her. The thought made Millie’s stomach clench in remorse. Do I? She bit her lip and rested her chin on the top of Lois’s head. No. No, I don’t. I simply find her difficult. But maybe . . . maybe deep down, she feels lonely and wronged and unloved. Just like . . . Before she knew what she was doing, she dropped a kiss onto Lois’s blond hair. Just like me!

~Millie's Miracle

Name three published books which have an amazing portrayal of siblings or family.

-Viking Quest Series by Lois Walfrid Johnson. All these books show a strong bond between siblings and parents . . . especially between Bree and Dev. 

-By Paths Unknown by Rebekah A. Morris. This one also is amazing!

-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. You all probably know why this is in the list. 

   Name another author's character family that you wouldn't mind jumping into.

   Ooohhh. I don't know. Maybe the O'Tooles, from the Viking Quest series. I know, they've been through a lot and have lost siblings and have regained siblings over the years. Yes, they have lost a lot to the Vikings. But their love for each other as a family is even stronger because of it, I think. 

   Provide an excerpt of sibling drama or camaraderie from any title (though be sure to credit it).

It's not necessarily drama, but it involves a brother and sister (Daniel and Leah), so it counts! 

   Presently they reached the village. Outside his own door Daniel knocked and called out, and presently the bolt inside was quietly drawn back. As Daniel pushed open the door, Thacia stood back.

   "I have brought a friend of yours with me," Daniel announced.

   Leah, from the corner where she had retreated at the first glimpse of an unfamiliar figure, stared out into the road. Then her face lighted. "Thacia!" she cried. "Why are you dressed in Joel's clothes?"

   Thacia came into the room laughing and pushing back the hot turban with relief. "It's lucky everyone doesn't have your sharp eyes," she said. "You won't give me away, will you? It's a--a sort of game we're playing."

   Leah came forward slowly. "Daniel never plays games," she said soberly.

   "What a pity," said Thacia lightly. "Joel and I pretend all sorts of things. But I'll tell you a secret. Your brother does know how to smile. Quite nicely, actually. He doesn't always hide behind that fearful scowl."

   Unexpectedly, Leah giggled, and then both girls were laughing. Scowling more fiercely than ever, Daniel stamped into his shop. But he left the door open behind him.

~The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

   Name two characters from two unrelated books that you feel would make for great literary siblings (whether in terms of getting along, or being a constant head-to-head combat).

   Haha! I say stick Anne Shirley with Jo March and see how they do! They've always struck me as very similar. (Both dreamy, both writers, both hot-tempered . . . shall I go on?)

   What sibling trope would you like to write in the future?

   One sibling who teases the other all the time but end up giving their life for their sibling (we'll see whether I make this literal or figurative!).

   Which of your own sibling groups would you love to join?

   I'll be the big sister to Millie, Lois, and Marie! I love 'em all.

   If you could adopt only one of your fictional siblings as your own sibling, who would it be?

   Marie from Millie's Miracle. I'm sorry, but I want to baby her so badly! She's one of the cutest little marshmallows ever!

   What fictional character most reminds you of yourself as a sibling?

   Ha. Ha. Ha. I'm pretty much a mixture of Melinda and Mitch from all the Circle C books.

   Have you written any sibling dialogue based on a dialogue you've had with your own siblings? If so, share it!

   I'm not sure. I may have done so once upon a time, but I don't remember it. Sorry!

   Time to pick favorites; which of your sibling families is your favorite?

   Kaylee and Gillian from a WIP of mine (unofficially titled Kaylee Monroe). They're such good friends, even if they're not . . . actually . . . totally siblings. That's all I'll say. It's complicated.

   Out of all the sibling friendships you've read/written, which sibling duo has the most mismatched personalities?

   That would probably be Jo and Beth from Little Women. Beth is sweet, quiet, shy, and gentle . . . all of which, let's face it, Jo is not.

   I tag: RebekahHeidiAbigail, and anyone-else-who-wants-to-do-it. 

   Here's the list of rules (with mine added to it):

1. Name the most annoying sibling character in any of your stories (either annoying to you as the author or to any other characters).

2. Name the most caring sibling character in any of your stories.

3. Name the most entertaining sibling character in any of your stories.

4. Name a sibling character who was inspired in some way by an actual sibling.

5. Name the largest character family (talking family, not family tree) in any of your stories.

6. Provide one to three excerpts from your sibling characters’ dialoge from any of your stories.

7. Name three published books which have an amazing portrayal of siblings or family.

8. Name another author’s character family that you wouldn’t mind jumping into.

9. Provide an excerpt of sibling drama or camaraderie from any title (though be sure to credit it)

10. Name two characters from two unrelated books that you feel would make for great literary siblings (whether in terms of getting along, or being a constant head-to-head combat).

11. What sibling trope would you like to write in the future?

12. Which of your own sibling groups would you love to join?

13. If you could adopt only one of your fictional siblings as your own sibling, who would it be?

14. What fictional character most reminds you of yourself as a sibling?

15. Have you written any sibling dialogue based on a dialogue you had with your own siblings? If so, share it! 

16. Time to pick favorites; which of your sibling families is your favorite?

17. Out of all the sibling friendships you've read/written, which sibling duo has the most mismatched personalities?

   And for rule seven . . . so much of this fun tag wouldn't have been possible had God not made me who I am, gave me my love for writing, placed me in the family that he did, and inspired me to write families that love and care for each other. He's the Ultimate Writer. He wrote the Book that tells the story of the history of the universe, from the time it was created until the time when it will be destroyed and then re-created as perfection again. And the amazing thing is, we don't have to wonder whether God's Book is true -- it is! My goodness, I know some futuristic fictional books that are pretty neat, but God's book is a spot-on, futuristic non-fiction piece of literary art! 


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Book Review: Annabeth's War/Favorite Authors & Books #9

    No matter how many times I read it (and I think I've read it at least three times), this one seems to never get old. Not sure why. Maybe it's because of the ending . . . ? Or perhaps just because it's one of my favorite genres of books? At any rate, I find it a very interesting read.

Image result for annabeth's war

Sensitive content: one "idiot," use of the word "stupid," some romance (but nothing vivid or immoral), some intense scenes, mentions of/scenes with torture methods

Age recommendation: 12 or 13+

My rating: 4 stars

   Let me clarify something here. As to the romance, it may be more than some readers prefer. However, there is nothing I personally find that makes me uncomfortable. There is some "hugging" if you can call it that, but a lot of the time, it's because the girl is injured *spoilers!* and leans against the guy for support. And there is a few kisses, but they are only on the forehead and maybe the cheek. I just wanted to specify that for anyone who might have qualms about how "much" the romance is. 

   I personally really like this one. It is perhaps more intense than a lot of the books I read, but I don't mind much, as those more intense scenes are crucial to the plot and are not vivid. There is some content dealing with the medieval torture rack, and for that, I would caution that this book probably wouldn't be best for sensitive readers. Other than that, it's a great read! And it does have Christianity in it, so that's really nice. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day!

    Some people get cards for Valentine's day. Some get chocolate. Others (like me) are given balloons.

   Well, we got something unexpected this year. No doubt many of you have gotten it as well. Where I live, it isn't as common. Can you guess what I'm talking about?

Lots of snow!

The seeds in our bird feeder have gotten snowed in!


Our girl pup eats the snow. She was practically inhaling it!

   What's your favorite way to warm up after romping in the snow?

   Mine is sitting by the wood stove and snuggling into a blanket with a warm drink. It's the best!

   A-a-and moving on! I got caught up talking and almost forgot the real purpose for this post! But snow worries, I've remembered. ;) 


   Wishing you a happy and warm Valentine's Day!