Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: Geekerella (Ashley Poston)


Basically: A super geeky, fandom-filled modern-day retelling of Cinderella.

And I loved it.

Elle's passion is Starfield, an old TV show her father and mother both loved (from whom she inherited her love of it). It has a bit of a Star Trek vibe, I think. When Elle finds out that the movie reboot will be starring an actor from some sappy romance show, she's more than ticked.

On the other end of the spectrum, Darien is also a die-hard Starfield fan, but most people don't know it (like Elle). They see him only as the character from the sappy romance show. He struggles with wondering whether or not he's the right fit to do this show justice with the main role, to be the one to give the fans what they deserve.

When Darien and Elle, unaware of the other's real identity, start texting, adorable dorky-ness ensues. Because that's literally what these two are together and I loved it. Their relationship isn't built on knowing what the other looks like, or what their background is. It kind of takes "don't judge a book by its cover" as a theme. And it's kind of true.

I loved the whole fandom feel to this book. A lot of the fandoms mentioned I'm not in, but know of, and it was cool to see that community. I loved seeing Elle and Darien's relationship develop, and watching their arcs. They're both different, yet also kind of parallel. They both grow and become more sure of themselves, and it's lovely. :3

I think I liked Darien's POV best. I really liked his arc, with his struggles to be the Amandor the fans deserved, and the Amandor he needed. I loved how Starfield impacted his childhood, and how that influences the way he plays the role. It was neat too to see the "behind the scenes" of film-making.

There were some elements I felt had been just kind of put in there just to have them, or to just give the characters a "happy ending," but apart from that, I rather enjoyed this book. :D It was a light, fun read, and with so many fandoms, it felt like something I could relate to. I have my own fandoms, so I felt right at home with Geekerella. ;)

****
Violence/gore: Two character have a pretty nasty brawl near the end of the book, where both end up bruised and bloody. Elle is slapped by her stepmother.

Profanity: A**/a**hole is used a couple times, hell is used a few times. D***, p***, and b***s*** are used. But it really is far and few between.

Sexual content: There is a handful of light/brief sexual reference (characters getting handsy, characters in sexy clothing, brief telling of past events). Darien is attacked with a kiss by a fan. There are a few homosexual characters, and some homosexual references. But overall the sexual content isn't heavy at all.

Other: Elle's stepmom is abusive, treating her like a servant. Darien's privates are referred to in couple of times, but not in a sexual way (those instances too are brief).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters (Frencesca Zappia)


Eliza prefers the online world to her real one. She's created an amazing online presence for herself, and enjoys her online community, the friends she's made through it, and the fans who love her webcomic, Monstrous Sea (called MS for short). However

Nobody knows who she is. In all the world, only six people know she is the creator. Four of them are her family.

When she meets Wallace, a popular fanfiction writer of her very own brainchild, she begins to venture out into real life, coaxing her from her computer screen.

That, until her secret's out.

Then it all goes to heck for some reason I'm not entirely sure.

I don't like giving negative reviews. I feel bad. But... I really didn't like this book. I did like some parts of it. I loved the online community Eliza had created for herself. I liked the feel of it, the feel of her being immersed in her story. I could relate to Eliza and Wallace when it came to that, to their storytelling, to interesting with online friends. I do that too. I enjoyed seeing it, and the ART, guys. The art is really cool, sprinkled through the story. There's not much, but what's in it is pretty neat.

Isn't this so cool???

BUT

I also hated Eliza. I'm sorry, but she irritated me nearly from beginning to end. I had hoped her annoying behavior would be part of her arc, that she would improve. But not really. Eliza, while she has a friendly online persona, her attitude in real life was horrible. She's glued to her computer when she's not at school (and glued to her phone when she is), and I got the feeling she thinks school is a total waste of her time. That friends outside of online ones aren't worth pursuing.

She was also rather rude and disrespectful to her parents. She brushes them off and it makes them seem like they know nothing. Which, I suppose, they might not, but at least twice her parents express a desire to understand, to learn more about Eliza's interests. And she basically shrugs and continues to act like she's not understood. Eliza was bordering on arrogant and childish for me in some cases, and it was infuriating. Her parents were made out to be the villains, which.... just why? I get they didn't understand her desire for anonymity, but.... do the kids have to have an intervention???? What?

Just... why? Yes, they made a mistake, but they asked Eliza to help them understand. I understand they could have done their own research, but they wanted their daughter to show them. They were specifically asking Eliza to show them how to best interact with her. She brushed them off. I didn't like how this book seems to portray family and real life responsibilities as unimportant.

I get Eliza's love for her online community. I do. I have one, and I love it. I've made friends through it. I don't mean to say that online friends aren't real ones. They can be for sure! But Eliza neglected the friendships she could have had with her family, which could have helped prevent the disaster to follow. She could have prevented that fiasco and all of that mental pain and anxiety.

HOWEVER, I wanna talk about Wallace (bless your heart if you've stuck with me thus far). I don't have as much to say about him as Eliza, and though he does have aspects that also are like "...what?", I loved this boy. I didn't understand his refusing to talk. To Anyone. He prefers to text the person he's standing right in front of, and it annoyed me. But things were explained, which helped a LOT.

Wallace is just a precious bean, guys. I LOVED how he kind of unknowingly drew Eliza out of her shell. I loved his caring personality. He's shy, but get him to open up, and he's pretty dang funny sometimes (can we talk about that pie montage? XD XD). He's the writer of the duo, so I kind of gravitated toward him more, being a writer myself. I could relate to a lot of his feelings on writing.

I also loved Eliza's convos with Max and Emmy. That was precious gems of adorable. XD Max is hilarious. I liked how they each kind of had their own little plotlines too, and their own issues to overcome and work through. Everybody grew by the end of the book. :3

I didn't quite understand the anxiety Eliza had over her identity as MS's creator being revealed, or the extreme depression she fell into. Maybe it's because I don't quite understand all of the facets of depression (which is entirely possible!), or it was just a buildup of other things and everything finally burst. But I didn't quite understand why she reacted so severely.

But I did appreciate the ending. For all I didn't like about Eliza, the ending was satisfying. I won't say what exactly I liked about it, because spoilers, but I'll just say I appreciated the way it ended, and I'm glad that it ended the way it did. I'm not sure if I'd recommend the book, but if you enjoy writing, or webcomics (either reading them or making them), then you might enjoy this. :)

****
Violence/gore: None? Besides maybe references to Monstrous Sea or any video games played.

Profanity: Oh, boy.... there is quite a fair amount of swearing in this book, though with the book's length, the words are sometimes spread throughout, so you don't feel bombarded. B*****d, d**m,/g**d****m, a**/a**h***, hell, s**t/b***s***, and d**k are used, as well as 14(?!?!) F-bombs. There is a lot of language.

Sexual content: Nothing onscreen besides Eliza and Wallace cuddling and kissing a little. There are some homosexual references, and Eliza's mother assumes Eliza and Wallace are doing sexual things, so she takes Eliza to some kind of doctor's visit. Wallace makes a crude joke about their teacher's earrings.

Other: Eliza and Will are bullied by a few of her classmates. Like I said earlier, Eliza seems disrespectful of her parents, and seems to lie/conceal things from them.

Tell me what you guys think. Is there something about Eliza (or even her depression) that I'm just missing? Or is it just a difference of beliefs/worldviews? I'm totally open to discussion here! :D Help me understand if there's something I'm missing!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: Stars Above (Marissa Meyer)


Stars Above is a collection of novellas that mostly take place before or at the very start of the events of Cinder. They're mostly backstories of the squad, from Cinder to Wolf to Cress. We've heard them all in more or less detail in the series, but we get a closer look here.

Because I'd heard most of these stories before, from what was told in the Lunar Chronicles, I enjoyed them, but not as much as I enjoyed the main series. It was fun to see the Cinder squad all little and fairly innocent. though (Wolf and Thorne are probably the exceptions XD).

Wolf's story was my favorite. I needed to hug the precious boy and take him away from all of that cruelty. HE DOESN'T DESERVE IT I TELL YOU.

I am calm.

Winter's story was probably among my favorites, too. It was a bit dark, as Levana's presence is there (and she's just a horror by herself), and I just needed to hug Winter and keep her safe too. After seeing how much she's gone through, and to see her still so calm and kind... I admire her.

I basically want to keep the whole Cinder squad safe, okay?

I also loved, loved the last story: the wedding. I won't tell you who's it is, but it's ADORABLE and you guys need to read it. I loved getting back with the Rampion crew (their present ages this time), and seeing them all as such an adorable little slightly dysfunctional family. I swear they're all just precious puppies and kittens, guys. They've got each other's backs, even when there's no danger, and it's just them at home, safe and sound as they should be.


"We had a disagreement with the bookshelf." (Kai, prince of sass and dorky adorableness)

But seriously I could gush forever about that wedding novella. It was the hightlight of this book for me. X3

The only story I was kinda confused by was The Little Android. It's only tie to the series was the MC meeting with Cinder for a scene, but after that it was just it's own story in the TLC universe. It was bittersweet and cute, but it also felt a little odd stuck in with so many stories about Cinder and the rest.

BUT THAT WEDDING STORY, YOU GUYS. I can't stop squealing about it. XD Tell me if you've read it so we can squeal together! :D

****
Violence/gore: There is some in most of the stories, but it's not very detailed. The most violence is likely in Wolf's novella (not surprising).

Profanity: Nothing major, that I can recall (possibly just referenced swearing).

Sexual content: Cinder and Kai share a kiss, and end up snuggling in bed (no sex, just them talking). Romance is sprinkled in some of the stories, but it's very light.

Other: The Lunar gift is used, which is invasive of both mind and body. Thorne is, unsurprisingly, a dishonest boy, scheming people out of their money, or attempting to steal.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wattpad Wednesday: The Broken City of Crows

So this is a new thing I'm gonna try. Not sure how often it'll be, but every now and then, I'll bring to you a story from Wattpad that I've been enjoying. :D It's not necessarily a review, just tell you about the story and fangirl and demand you go read it or else. ^_^

We'll start with a somewhat recent story, started earlier this year, and it has been SO MUCH FUN TO READ. Chapters are posted every five days, and I love reading each one.

The Broken City of Crows
by Nate Philbrick


The story follows our main character Amos, and his decision to leave behind his family's slave trade and take on the mark of a slave himself. He and his friends Saremis and Emery travel to find a place they can call home. Without being hunted like rats.

These characters are so adorable and colorful and I love them all. X3 Amos and Emery and Saremis all come from different areas of the fantasy world the story is set in, and they meet a variety of characters from several other areas in a group called the Red Vanguard.

Who, by the way, are also mightily adorable. Avora heads them up, and she's kind of like the squad mother (or the second-in-command. I'd say maybe Saremis is the main squad mother? ;) ). Gwinn is a precious man with a cocky attitude and wicked quarterstaff skills.

Just.... the CHARACTERS, guys. So many, with a variety of personalities! I love them all, and there's more to come (because Nate made a blog post and introduced characters that haven't shown up yet). I'm intrigued because the story finished part one, and has just started part two. I'm eager to see where this next half of the story goes, because it seems that the setting has settled (while the first part saw the characters traveling around).

Also the worldbuilding. The world has a variety of regions and landscapes, either ones we see or ones we're told about by the characters. There are unique, kind of mysterious creatures we get and are offered just enough details to make them fierce and intimidating.

My favorite character has been Emery, right out of the gate. I love characters who are funny and know they're funny, and utilize it. XD He's a precious boy and I love him and there will be blood if ANYTHING happens to him. I also love Avora, and how she's become kind of a mother figure to Amos. :3

So go read The Broken City of Crows. I could go on with how much I've loved this story so far, but you should read and see for yourself. B) And then come back and chat with me about it! :D Or if you've already read it, chat with me! :D Let us discuss and fangirl/boy over it!

EDIT: This story has given me a heart attack right in the feels. I am still trying to determine if I'm breathing. Please standby. Or go read and scream with me. Either way.

I have quite a few other stories I'd like to share, so until then, happy reading!

(And because this is just awesome):

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer)


If you like fairy tale retellings and sci-fi...

You

will

love

these.

The series takes several fairytales and puts them into a science fiction setting. Earth in the future, with many years of additional history. Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, is at the center. It follows her mission to stop the Lunar queen, Levana, from taking control of Earth. She gathers a crew behind her, the Cinder Squad, to stop Levana.

First off, the characters are so vivid and varied. They come from so many different lifestyles, with colorful personalities. There's so much sass and sarcasm and witty banter, and I love it. The Cinder Squad is basically one big, slightly dysfunctional family of four girls (five if we include Iko, an android) and four guys. So you can guess the madness that could ensue. ;)

But they're able to work together. It works. They have their squabbles, but they get along well. And, with any proper fairytale, there is romance. All of them are adorable, and all of them are super new to the area of love (Thorne too, even though he's a big flirt), which is super cute, because they can be kind of awkward and dorky. My favorite ship is easily Thorne and Cress. They are precious.

I could talk about the characters for pages and pages, guys. I loved them all. Kai and Cinder were precious babies. Winter was a little odd but so sweet. I was leery about Jacin but he's okay now. Thorne is, like, a precious rogue and I love him. Cress is a the angel of the squad, with some attitude. Scarlet is, I think, basically the squad mother and takes no crap from anybody. Wolf is another precious child who needs so many hugs and tomatoes. And Iko is the energetic, bubbly cheerleader who can also kick some butt. XD  Many of them have really nice arcs, and the romantic plotlines have their own arcs, and they play a role in the main plot, instead of simply being a side-plot. I just love them all, guys.

Except Levana. She was a REALLY good villain, but the things she did... they are despicable. She's ruthless and merciless. The "prequel" story that tells her story, Fairest, did nothing to gain her sympathy from me (but that's another review for another time).

The plot kept rolling and getting bigger and more complex with each book, especially since each book added at least 2 more POVs. There was plenty of action and events that kept the squad on their toes, with plenty of near-death experiences. But there's also moments of peace, where everyone can breathe, including us readers.

And the worldbuilding. It was vivid too, even in the interiors of spaceships. The cultures even on Earth were shown well, and Luna's worldbuilding was pretty fascinating, utilizing the environment of the moon well, and the potential hazards and disadvantages. It was really cool to learn about its culture, and the abilities of Lunars.

Meyer created a bright, vivid adventure packed with everything, and wove fairytales right into it. From Cinderella to Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel to Snow White. She's elevated these princesses to some pretty tough ladies in the female half of the squad, and gave them equally tough gentlemen to work with. B3 I loved this series, and I highly recommend.

****

Violence/gore: There’s a lot, and it is described, but it’s not over-described, really. There are some instances of torture, too.

Sexual content: Kisses are exchanged between the main relationships of the series. Some light sexual references (as far as I remember). Very little of anything sexual beyond the main couples’ kisses.

Profanity: Not a lot, actually. If there is, it’s brief and rather sporadic, and fairly light language. It was one of the things that made me love this series even more, the absence of language.

Other: Nothing extreme that I can think of? There may be drinking, but I don’t believe there’s much else that I can recall.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Truths I Tell

If you read the About Me page when I rebooted my blog, some of this may sound familiar. But I wanted to make an “official” post about my purpose for writing: Why I write, and things I will or won’t write, or how I write certain things.

I’m not here to spark debate or conflict. I’m here to state what, I believe, is the purpose God has given me for writing. I do believe God has given me the gift for stories for a reason, and I think I’m beginning to learn why. I’m still learning, still navigating these waters and realizing it all.

So while I’m not trying to find conflict, I am not opposed to polite discussion. We can do it in comments, or if you’d prefer, we can find someplace to discuss it privately. I’m open to discussion, but only if it is polite and civil. I’m not here to argue, and I ask that if you disagree with me, that any comments are civil. :)

So with that, may I begin? ;)


I love writing stories. I love when an idea sparks and I love playing it out in my head, mulling over a variety of possible directions. Sometimes I don’t act on these stories right off. I have so many, it’s hard to pick which ones to work on!

I want to write to share these stories. To share the adventures, to share the characters. Sometimes I have a specific message I want to share in mind, other times I don’t (but usually there’s a message that quietly makes a place for itself anyway). I want to share my stories so others can read and enjoy them, and maybe find something in them that will offer help with something they’re struggling with. I want to write stories that offer fun, adventure, family, maybe a bit of romance in some, and above all, hope (more on that part later!).

Like I said, I believe God has given me the gift of words and storytelling. And so I want to use it to the best of my ability, to glorify Him. To do that, I must write honestly, and write His truths in the correct way. I see a lot of things in storytelling that I don’t agree with. I am a Christian, so there’s bound to be a lot of things the world and I don’t see eye-to-eye on in the art and content of storytelling.

So with my stories, I want to glorify God and show the world His truths. What pleases Him.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean I write Christian fiction. Or Christian fantasy (fantasy being my niche). This doesn’t mean I’m against it, either! I’ve written a Christian fantasy novella and I LOVED it. I’d do it again. Christian fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction/your-genre-here has its place, no doubt. I love reading it, and I enjoy trying to write it. ^_^

But my writing tends to not have directly religious references. Instead, I’m learning how my writing can glorify God in how I present the content I do write: the truths I write vs. how I must write about sin.*

*Story worlds are never perfect. There’s going to be sin. What I mean here is how I portray sin, by not condoning sin.


·       TRUTH VS SIN
I write to portray God’s truths, the things He declares good and right.

I will not portray sin (these God has declared sinful) as right or good.
            (Before we dive in let me clarify this: I mean larger issues, I don’t mean clean or unclean foods, fabrics to wear, etc. I mean the bigger things. I will offer a few examples later so you understand the subject.)

I see many authors writing about topics that don’t align with what God and His word says. Please note, though, that I’m not bashing these authors or hating on people who hold a different stance. I am simply seeing things in storytelling I don’t agree with. I must write truth, and that will probably be controversial for many people. I don’t mind. My stories aren’t for everybody. But I want to write these stories the way God would have me write them, even if they might include an approach that a lot of people don’t like. Writing for God will likely do that.


Among the things common in stories today is sexual sin. It seems to be a big element in many stories in YA (that I’ve seen. I understand that this is my own opinion and that this is not a hard fact). Sex out of wedlock, homosexuality, and other sexual sins are things I will not condone in my writing. For the latter, I will likely not have any homosexuality at all in my stories, as I do not believe it to be a lifestyle God is pleased by, and I am not comfortable including it. Instead, romantic stories of mine will be between a man and woman. Male and female.

As for sex out of wedlock… I can’t say for sure there wouldn’t be any. My characters are as flawed as I am, ladies and gentlemen. I have characters that have and would commit this sin. But this doesn’t mean I approve. I don’t. If a character of mine, villain or hero, behaves thus, I hope I will be writing it in a manner that informs the reader that this behavior is wrong. Both will have to face the consequences of their sin, and either they will ask forgiveness (which is good), or they won’t (which is not good).

This doesn’t mean I’m not showing any gestures of love ever. I will write kisses, or affectionate gestures (that are not crude). There may be stories where two characters do have sex, but doors will close. It might be implied, but I won’t write it. Love is a real thing, so is sex. But sex is something I personally don’t think needs to be shown “on-screen.”

Another example would be wanton killing. Killing the bad guys, killing for the greater good, etc. I do think there is a time and place for it (in self-defense, defense of others), but it should be a last resort, which the attacker is not stopping, and has been warned. In stories, sometimes killing is seen maybe not as good, but “normal,” without consequences. There are consequences. Killing someone changes you (though I don’t know this from experience, mind!), and I doubt it’s for the better. So though the intentions may be good, it shouldn’t be a “normal” thing. I have MCs who kill. My assassin is one (as the title implies). In Empire of Blood and Shadow, he admits it changes a person. He admits it’s changed him. I also don’t condone his behavior. I love the character, but I don’t approve of his lifestyle.

Also, I should say that I am certainly not perfect in this area. I’m sure there are times when I fail to apply this thinking to my stories. If I do, I hope someone will remind me, and I can make appropriate edits.

However, this does not mean that my characters will be without sin. My characters will be sinful little beans.  My heroes will sin, my villains will definitely sin. But, like I discussed earlier, it’s how I write the sin. If my heroes sin, they may ask forgiveness/be forgiven (depending on where they are in their arc), and/or they will discover the consequences, which likely won’t be good ones. It’s the same idea for my villains, although most likely they won’t recognize their sin. Either they’ll be redeemed (sometimes they are, which is something I love to see!). But the sin won’t be praised (or if it is, it’s very clear that this is a bad thing the characters are praising).

So I’m not saying I ignore the sin. Sin is a very real thing in the world, and so it’s bound to be a part of my stories (as I’m sinful too). My stories aren’t going to be happy 24/7. Life’s gonna suck for the characters sometimes. There may be a lot of violence, too. Characters will die, or break a bone, or be tortured. Sometime my characters will do things they’ll regret later. But this is honest storytelling.

But it also means that I get to show hope.


HOPE
As I’d mentioned back at the start of this post, I hope that my writing will show hope to readers. I want to glorify God, and one of the ways I can do it is by communicating hope. Healing and forgiveness, just as God offers to His children.

I believe in happy endings. In “happily ever afters.” God has one planned for us. It’s why He sent His Son to die for us. He set the stage for the happily ever after to come. So I believe those kinds of things exist, even on a smaller scale. They reflect what’s to come. True love, happy endings (which aren’t really happy endings, but, like OUAT described it, a “happy beginning”).

And also the Doctor. He speaks wisdom too.

I write about family, and how important family is. The people you befriend and meet along the way can be as much your family as the people who share the same roof as you do (the people you’re related to). They’re so, so important. My stories show that. I write it unconsciously, even. It just pops up, and I think it’s beautiful.

I’ve been incredibly blessed with a loving, connected family, both in my home, and my church family. I know I’ve been incredibly blessed, far more than I deserve. I think part of the reason for why I write is for the people who haven’t been so blessed. For the readers who are hurting. I want to show that there is hope, even for the sorriest of states. There can be a happy ending there too, God willing. God is the source of that hope. He is where hope and love and forgiveness and healing can be found. For example, in my WIP novel, Empire of Blood and Shadow, there’s plenty of that to be found. Gabriel, Lilly, Mordir, and Hakor are some of the characters who experience healing and hope. They all make big mistakes that nearly cost them their lives or the lives of others, but they find forgiveness. Gabriel and Lilly find a family again. EOBAS, I hope, will communicate how important family is to readers, how they can be so much support and a source of love and healing.

I want to write happy endings (I might have another post on that some other time). They’re crucial, and they offer a reflection of the happy ending with God to come. :3 Because today’s world isn’t the end. Darkness isn’t the end. God’s got something much bigger planned. So why not step into His light and His hope and join Him? That is what I want to convey. Even if I don’t directly mention God, even if my characters don’t mention God. I want my words to spark curiosity, somehow, I hope. I want to show the world hope in God and in His Son. And I want to do it honestly and truthfully.

I glorify God with the truths I tell.

That is why I write.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Book Review: Where the Woods Grow Wild (Nate Philbrick)


The woods are no place to be wandering alone. But when Martin loses his hand to something in the woods, he and his best friend Elodie are plunged into a world among the trees he didn’t realize was there.

I really enjoyed this book. It has the whimsy of, like… Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, maybe? Martin and Elodie step into a world mere yards (give or take?) from their normal lives. The plot takes us through Martin’s and Elodie’s attempts to find each other after being separated, and the incidents that come along with it. The characters are taken all over the forest, and things seem to just get worse instead of better, thus rising tension and a feeling that time is running out.

The worldbuilding was really neat. The wood is its own world, apart from Bardun Village where Martin and Elodie come from. It has its own array of flora and fauna, and you have to be careful where you go. It’s not a place to be taken lightly, and it has its own lore about a mysterious and powerful shape-shifter called Nayadu, who is feared by the inhabitants of the woods.

There isn’t really a specific antagonist (none I can mention without being spoilery, anyway), but there were plenty of things to get in the way of the characters. The king of the dryads was a bit crazy, and has a bit of magic that made him a little intimidating too. There was also the difficulty of Martin’s search for Elodie, and always seeming to be one step behind her. And there’s also the problem of his maimed arm… ;)

Speaking of, I liked Martin’s arc. It was simple, and didn’t manifest itself often, but his struggles grew as his problems grew, until it, like his problems, kind of… overcame him. It all snowballs until he’s not able to handle it well, which is where Elodie comes into play. She doesn’t really have an arc (that I’m aware of), but she’s more a grounding point for Martin, which is something he desperately needs after his world is violently shaken up. The pair of them are still so young and innocent, but they need each other. :3 I liked seeing their relationship and how it changes with them.

The cast of characters are colorful and charming in their own ways, with a vast array of personalities and quirks that make them so fun to read. And it was interesting, that they all seemed to change in little ways, even if they didn’t have much of an arc. Martin and Elodie touched the lives of many. ;)

Also, I hadn’t noticed it when I beta read WTWGW, but when I reread it now and knew in advance about the plot twists, I found a really feelsy parallel between two of the characters and their development (I won’t say who, because spoilers. You’ll have to find out!), and I really liked that. :3

All of the characters were charming and fun and colorful, but, I think, I’ll always have a soft spot for Bramble. XD He took my heart the second he hit the page the first time I read this book, and rereading now refreshed my life for this furry creature who speaks in third person. X3

That is all. XD

****

Violence/gore: There is some violence, but it’s not very unsettling. There are fight scenes with certain nasty creatures that get a little bloody, but it and any wounds aren’t detailed.

Profanity: None.

Sexual content: None.

Other: Nothing else that I can think of… Elodie tells a fib or two in Bardun Village to get Martin away from work for a while, and steals a ring from the Mayor’s house, but otherwise, nothing of much note.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: Princess of Undersea (Leslie Conzatti)


Ylaine is a mermaid with a gorgeous singing voice, who, instead of helping her father manipulate the merfolk in a mess of politics, wants nothing more than to see the land people, maybe even walk among them. This dream is fueled more after she rescues a human boy from drowning. And, with a potion from her guardian, she’s given the chance to find him.

Guys, this was a kind of adorable story. I loved the charm and fairytale quality to it, and the twists Leslie put into it to make it a retelling. The worldbuilding and history behind the story is part of what guides the fathers of Ylaine and Nathan. Ylaine’s father wants war against the humans, and the fairies, who were once friends to the merfolk, were banished by Nathan’s father. So it’s kind of a complicated mess of stuff between them, whether or not both sides really know all of the details.

The plot was charming. It followed the general Little Mermaid tail (haha, you see what I did there? I made a pun), and it kept moving steadily, giving me things to root for (Ylaine’s only got a few days to find the boy she rescued) and throwing plot twists at me that I then need to reorient myself around (in a good way ;) ).

I did not expect the villain to be who she was. Honestly that was one of my favorite parts. XD The villainess was clever and sly, and surprisingly vicious in contrast to the motherly facade we see. She showed a sudden display of violence and it startled me, guys. That is how unexpected that was for me. XD But I liked that, and I liked her scheming and manipulation. She made for a good antagonist.

I was a little disappointed by the ending, in that I felt it had a few loose ends to tie up still, and I really wanted to see that closure. It sounds like Leslie will reveal that closure I wanted after a certain number of reviews. So if nothing else, read the book and write a review so I know what happens! XD

Our “main” main character, Ylaine, is a sweetheart. She loves her father, but his restrictions frustrate her, and it causes tension between them. In a way, her desire to walk among the land people comes also from wanting to help her father: if she can prove they’re friendly, they don’t have to go to war.

Our other character, Nathan, is a young man who is struggling between clinging to his boyhood years of fun and play and the stage of his life where he must begin taking responsibility and prepare to take the throne after his father. His mentor is a source of wisdom, and with the help of Ylaine, is able to get Nathan started in the right direction.

At least until the villainess’ own plans come into play. That’s when things get complicated, and Ylaine only has so much time to do something.

*****

Violence/gore: Nothing extremely violent or described in detail, I don’t think. When Ylaine’s potion begins to wear off, her human skin peels away/flakes off, which may be unsettling to some.

Profanity: None.

Sexual content: Nothing really. There may be a vague reference to a woman’s breasts (though I could be wrong) when Ylaine is looking at a human’s depiction of a mermaid.

Other: Nothing major I can think of. The villainess dabbles in magic, with potions and such.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Writerly Facts About Me!


Images found via Pinterest.


If you know me via the internets, you likely know that I write (if you don’t, fear not, I’m not scary). But if you know me in real life, you may know I write, but not the details. And even if you know me over the internet, you may also not know many details.

Originally this was gonna be a tag I snitched from Cait’s blog http://paperfury.com/the-writers-tag/, but as I was writing it, I thought it would be more fun to add more categories to show you all more about me/my writing. ^_^ Also, feel free to comment below and talk to me/ask questions! I’d love to talk to you, and I don’t bite. ;)

Still here? Bless your heart. Here we go!

Why I write
Firstly, to glorify God. I want my stories to honor him. That may mean my stories will have direct/indirect references to God or His Son (like the Chronicles of Narnia). Or they may not. And I think that’s okay. Even if my characters don’t mention God, that doesn’t mean I can’t still glorify Him in what I write. How I approach subjects that appear in my stories is the key. My stories won’t condone sin. Now that doesn’t mean my heroes are perfect. They'll screw up as much as I do sometimes. Sometimes way worse than I could imagine (I have character who are downright wicked). But the point is, whether the sin is in my heroes or my villains, that it is not viewed as being approved of. No world, real or fictional, is perfect (it wouldn’t make much of a story if they were!), and sin isn’t exclusive to the villains. In my stories, whether heroes or villains sin, the sin does not go undisciplined. Heroes may find that their sin has put a friend in danger, or a villain’s sin is his downfall.

Instead, my stories show that the things God does approve of are the things that help the heroes. They are what my stories do condone. I don’t overpower the bad with the good. I give it a balance. Maybe some characters have more than the other, but that’s okay. It makes them real, and, I believe, brings glory to God when I portray what He approves of or doesn't approve of correctly. I bring Him glory by portraying sin as sin, and the things He approves of as things to be pursued.




And I simply love writing. I love the stories I find drifting in my head, waiting to be snatched up. I love the “film reels” that play out scenes of stories I’m excited to get to, or exploring the deeper inner workings of my characters. I love the magic of it, and being able to let others read it is something I look forward to (I don’t keep it hidden. Just very few people have read it and I’m just excited to see what others think too XD). I tend to express myself better in written words than I do spoken words, and it’s a nice feeling when the words come so smoothly.

What I write about (genres, themes, etc.)
Typically, I write fantasy in a variety of forms. Fantasy set on Earth, fantasy in another world. Like that. But as fantasy in other worlds tends to require a significant amount of worldbuilding, story ideas usually tend to be in the other category. ;) Though I do have a few fantasy worlds floating around I’m quite proud of.

I’ve also dabbled in other areas of speculative fiction, like dystopian and steampunk. I haven’t really tried many others, but I have a couple ideas for other genres I’d like to dip my toes into someday. :3

I don’t think I really have a main theme or topic I focus on. But a lot of the time, my stories will deal with family in some form or another, whether or not it’s a major theme. The family one is born into, or the family one creates through friendships. It’s a topic that’s important to me, and whether I purposely try to or not, it makes its way into my stories somehow. XD But I love it. I think forgiveness/redemption often makes its way into my books, though I can’t say for sure. XD Honestly theme is an aspect I don’t often focus on unless I’m purposely working a story around it. XD

My style of writing is… My style is… friendly/open? I’m not really sure, to be honest. It’s not heavy, but not too light, either. Hopefully I’m making sense. XD I haven’t had anyone comment on my style, so I don’t know. XD

Length of Writing Career
Ehh… early teens, I think (I’m 24 now)? Some of it was crossovers of my favorite cartoon shows, others were original stories I never finished. Most of the time I wrote on a computer (I still have those old docs!), and those were stories I never finished. I think I finished a total of one from that era (and it’s really, really bad XD). There was also a stage where I wrote almost exclusively on paper, mostly slice-of-life stories about a small family, and other short stories, as well as a few short chapter books. :3 Being so short, I finished those. My skill had improved between these two stages, but it was still pretty bad. Then I moved back into writing on the computer in my later high school years.

That’s when the writing got extensive, and I wrote a ton. I had a separate computer for the curriculum we used for school (I and my siblings were homeschooled), and so I had nearly unlimited access to it (to a point where I was told to pull back a bit and limit the writing time XD). And boy, did I take advantage of it! I had several docs of stories, and this time, I finished a lot of those!

Not that any of these stories will see the light of day, but they’re finished. XD

Old Writing VS. “New” Writing
Basically: what my writing was compared to what it is now. XD

Are you all ready for this? Because I’m not. XD

This snippet is from a story I started eleven years ago this May. I was a wee child at the tender age of thirteen, and my writing skills were… well, you’ll see. Please, please do remember that this excerpt is unedited, from eleven years ago. XD I’ve left it untouched, and only adjusted the paragraphs as close to what I think I intended back then (I was for some reason into using a whopping 28 font size, so shrinking it down skewed the paragraphs a bit). This excerpt is from the first chapter of an unfinished story titled The Girl Who Wished for a Horse. Way back, this was the story I started writing with the intent to publish.


“Calm down Dana, you’re ruining your braids,” Mother laughed has her daughter wriggled underneath her.
“I can’t help it Mother, tomorrow’s my birthday, and I’m going to get a horse!” Dana said, she was turning 12 and she just knew that she was going to get a horse.
“Now Dana, you don’t know that, just wait and see, if you don’t, then just be content with what you do get,” Mother said, although she knew her daughter was going to have her wish come true, it was a cool autumn’s night, and Mother was getting Dana ready for tomorrow, Dana had a shower that night, and she wanted her friends and family to come. Dana lived on a Dairy farm, the Dairy farm only had one horse, a very old horse, Dana was never allowed to ride it.
“Of course Mother, but I’ve always wished for a horse ever since I was five,” Dana said with a sigh, “Mother, can you please read me the story about the talking animals, please?” Dana begged.
“Again? Darling we’ve already read it 20 times this week,” Mother said with a smile.
“Pleease?” Dana begged again.
“Alright, I guess it wouldn’t hurt,” Dana’s mother said with a laugh, “Then it’s off to bed with you,” Mother said as she slid into her rocking chair and Dana sat beside her mother.
“May I please stay up until father get’s home?” Dana asked her mother.
“Well,” Mother said thoughtfully.
“Please?” Dana said, she and her father knew that one of their cows was going to have a baby.
It was common that one of their cows had a baby, Dana loved watching it be born into the world, and Dana had this special talent to name a calf five minutes after it was born, she did that so often that her friends asked her to name their kittens, puppies, whatever animal it may be, after it was born. And so all the animals in the entire county had been named by Dana. That’s how Dana earned the nickname ‘The Queen Of Animal Names’.


Anybody still here? You are? Bless.

Now, this excerpt is much, MUCH better. This comes from the prologue of my current novel, Empire of Blood and Shadow (already you can see how I’ve changed!). I’m currently editing this new first draft (it’s gone through several versions of first drafts, so technically it’s not a first draft, but whatever). I started the story a few years ago and it’s finally evolved into this glorious, ridiculously long epic. XD


“Tilas?”
Seiryu’s voice made Tilas Ennan jolt, his knee jarring against the corner of the desk in the dark study as he turned quickly. Seiryu squinted to read his friend’s face, but it was too dark. His schooled his voice to be careful, cautious. “What are you doing?” Maybe what he had just seen was a misunderstanding. There was a good explanation for it.
Tilas didn’t answer for a half minute, as if debating within himself. But then he spoke, his tone bold as ever, even though now it seemed less certain than usual. “When were you going to tell me?”
Seiryu frowned. This wasn’t the direction he had hoped this conversation would go in. He shifted some of his weight off his left leg and flicked his eyes to the chandelier above them. It flared to life, pouring light down upon them both. Tilas flinched and blinked, squinting.
“Tell you what?” Seiryu asked, relaxing now that he could see his friend. He stood behind Seiryu’s desk. Seiryu noted the papers there had been rifled through. Oh, Tilas…
Tilas’ features hardened as he lifted the small, circular amulet into view. The thing turned lazily on its chain, the tiny jagged teeth of glass, left over from when the creator had smashed it, glinted in the light.
Seiryu almost laughed, forcing his voice to be light while he hurried to prepare his words. “I’ve told you about that thing, Tilas. What more is there?”
Tilas wasted no time diving in. “How about that when it takes dark magic, it kills the host?”
Seiryu paused. How had he found out? Seiryu had been so careful.
“Or how about this.” Tilas’ voice went quiet, hurt and betrayal rising in it. Seiryu felt a twinge of guilt when Tilas finished, “You planned to use it on me.”


Honestly, I thank God for the improvement He’s blessed me with. For all of the writing opportunities He’s given me, and all the writing friends. :3

Preferred POV Style
I usually write in 3rd person, past tense. I’ve tried first person once or twice, but I don’t think I’ve ever finished any stories in that style. Third-past is my default. ^_^

Male or Female MC
Mm, kind of both, I think. But I also think I tend to have more ideas for stories with a guy MC. I dunno why. XD I do have some stories with a female MC (EOBAS, for example), but the stories I have ideas for often have a male MC. XD But I’m good with either one. It just depends on the story. ^_^

Amount of POVs
Now, this one’s a bit harder… I think it’s usually just one, but with brief POVs (point of view) from supporting characters sprinkled in. EOBAS has two main POVs, but I think for the most part it’s just one, with a supporting character or two (or even the villain) sprinkled in to offer perspective away from the MC’s view.

Length of Writing Sessions
This depends. Usually I like to try to get in at least an hour in the morning. After that, I may writing more in the afternoon, but how long varies. So at the very least, an hour. ;)

Usual Time to Write
I’ve found I get my best writing done early in the morning, before I get started with my day. That way, I’ll have done my writing, and while I’m free to write more later, I don’t feel like I must, which allows me to do other things that need doing. And in the morning I’m able to pace myself.

Aspects of Writing I Love VS. Aspects I Hate
PARTS I LOVE
The characters. I love creating them and getting to know them, understanding what they do and why, or what they love, what they dream of or fear, and how they interact with others. They come alive to me, and often they become a part of me. And sometimes I’ll find a part of myself in them without having meant to put myself in them (usually it’s just little traits or habits). Or, on rare occasions, I even learn from them myself.

PARTS I HATE
Two words.

Plot. Holes.

I swear, they are my bane. Holes so big they make the surrounding territory crumble and I have to start over, or drastically change things. It’s awful, and I hate it. I hate the frustration that can come with it. Sometimes there are tears.

It’s not pretty.

 

That said, it’s also a wonderful feeling of relief when I fix them. :3

Music Listened To
This depends on what I'm in the mood for. Currently, it's been varying, but while I wrote this draft, I've been listening to Jonathan Young on Spotify. Another draft, I listened to Peter Hollens. Now, it just kind of depends on my mood.

Snacks Consumed
Again, it depends. Usually nothing, but if there's something sweet around, I'll probably grab it. XD Drinks also depend on what I'm in the mood for/what's available.

Overcoming Writer’s Block
Usually, I’ll rant to a friend. Or at least, I’ll ramble on and on and they’ll just listen and nod. ;) If I talk it out like that, sometimes I can work it out. Or I’ll beg a friend for help.

Projects I Plan to Publish
God willing, I have a few I’d like to publish, both traditionally and through self-publishing. Empire of Blood and Shadow will be self-published (and likely any stories related to the world), and I’d like to self-publish a Christian fantasy novella called Here I Stand.

For traditional publishing, I have a steampunk murder mystery story with a dash of feels, Clockwork Apprentice, and a Peter Pan/Alice in Wonderland crossover (which I’m really proud of, not gonna lie) titled Straight on to Wonderland (working title, but hey XD).

So I’ve got a few novels planned for the public. B)

Writing Elsewhere
I have a few stories “published” elsewhere, on the internet. On Wattpad, I have two fantasy stories,  The Empire Thief, and its sequel, Thief of Promises. Also on Wattpad and here on the blog I have the serial story Fence Jumpers. You can find links to those in the “My Writing” tab above. :D

Current Projects/Goals for the Year
Right now, I’m focusing on editing EOBAS. I would like to get it all the way to the beta reader stage, but I’m not holding myself to it (as I haven’t even reached alpha reader stage), but I would like to at least get close to that stage. I also plan to work more on Thief of Promises, and likely finish it this year.

So that about covers it! :D Feel free to comment below! Ask me things! I’d love you talk to you!