Posted in NaNoWriMo, The Ponderings of Life

NaNoWriMo 2018: Thoughts and Results

This is the first year in quite a few where I didn’t introduce my NaNoWriMo project in October and/or give one or two updates in November. C’est la vie!–as they say. My October was absolutely nuts and my November was pretty busy as well. (One of the reasons being a trip to New York City I took with my mom and I’m looking forward to blogging about meeting my FAVORITE childhood author, Gail Carson Levine, soon!) Needless to say, now that I’m here, I’m excited to talk about NaNoWriMo.

Some of you might remember that two years ago my NaNo project was a prequel to Everlasting (which I call Endeavoring). It was an opportunity to peek into the lives of Azalea’s parents, King Zechariah of Memiana and Queen Crystal of Orutia, and find out how on earth an optimistic human and a pessimistic fairy fell in love. I succeeded in writing 50,000 words that month and continued to write another 10,000 throughout December of that year into March of the next.

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo 2018: Thoughts and Results”

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Posted in Book Reviews

FINAL Five Books of 2015

Before January of 2017 comes to a close, I really wanted to finish putting this last blog post together for my 2015 books. Hopefully I will be more on top of things this year for the list of 2016 books I read. 😉 Let’s get straight to it!

As always, if you missed out on my previous 2015 books posts, you can find books 1-5 here, 6-10 here, 11-15 here, 16-20 here and 20-25 here!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

26. The Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart – This is the third installment in the Mysterious Benedict Society series. This one was definitely an improvement on the second, but nothing can ever beat the epic feels of the first. We listened to this book on audio during on of our road trips. Enjoyable, but I honestly don’t remember a lot of it compared to the first book–of which I remember almost every detail. Needless to say, I could learn a lot from Trenton Lee Stewart’s vocabulary and sentence structuring for my own writing.

27. * The Varken by Erin Phillips – I look forward to giving this one an official review on Amazon when it is published–which will hopefully happen later this spring! I read through it to give Erin some feedback when she was in the editing stages. This is a sequel to Erin’s self-published debut novel The Keeper. While I think The Keeper will always hold a special place in my heart since it was my first work of Erin’s to read, I think this book is definitely just as good. The characters have interesting back stories and development, there is a mystery to be solved, new things to discover and a lot of action and intrigue. I couldn’t stop reading.

28. Wednesdays at the Tower by Jessica Day George – We listened to this one in the car on audio. I’ve listened to the first three books in the series and have yet to listen to the most recent addition. This is the second book in the series, but I will admit that I don’t remember exactly what happened. I’m afraid I get the last two mixed up. I believe it had to do with each royal family member wanting their own gryphon to raise and fighting with the youngest child about it. It’s a fun series with mysteries, suspense, a little romance and the loyalty of siblings growing up in the strangest castle you’ll ever come across.

29. A Time for Courage by Kathryn Lasky – I know you were waiting for me to mention either a Dear America or Dear Canada. 😉 Well, here it is. This book is part of the Dear America series and while I picked it up at the library because it takes place during World War I (my favorite time period), it’s mostly about the Suffragette Movement, which the main character’s mother is deeply involved in. While generally enjoyable and interesting, there was a lot about this book that frustrated me. To be frank, I’m not a feminist in any way, shape or form. In fact, feminism is one of my biggest pet peeves. So you can probably imagine how I felt reading this book. Without going into too much detail, there were two main things that bothered me about this book. One, Kathleen’s mother and friends were protesting against President Woodrow Wilson, claiming that instead of paying attention to the war going on in Europe, he should instead spend time giving women the right to vote. I tried not to think too harshly of them, for I know that they had no idea what was really going on in Europe, but it was hard. In the end, the women were complaining about something that was so unimportant in light of the fact of all the men and women sacrificing their lives overseas to protect their countries. Don’t get me wrong. Having the right to vote as a woman is great and all, but there’s a time and place for protesting for it. Two, the most important point, is that by the time we reach the end of the book, Kathleen’s mother has completely forsaken her family. Literally. She is never home because she is always out protesting. Kathleen is left alone at home every afternoon. She has to do her homework by herself, she eats supper by herself or with her equally deserted and lonely father. And if she wants advice or encouragement from a woman, her mother is not there to give it. When her mother is home, she’s cranky or too tired to take care of her household. Every day, Kathleen is filled with worry that her mother won’t return home someday, perhaps being trampled by the crowds. The book ends where she really doesn’t come home one day: her mother is put in jail for protesting. Kathleen, only thirteen or fourteen year old, is now left to manage the household and finish raising herself. In the end, Kathleen’s mother put her personal desire to vote over her daughter. It just didn’t seem right.

30. * The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – Ah. Now this is a book I enjoyed from cover to cover. It was slow going, but every time I picked it up to read another chapter, I was impressed. Unfortunately, I’ve had The Two Towers on my list all year, but still have yet to read it. I’m determined to read it and The Return of the King this year. They are some of my favorite movies of all time. In reading The Fellowship of the Ring, I received a lot more information and detail than the movie is able to provide. Since I already had the basic idea of the story in my head, whenever I came across something in the book that hadn’t been put in the movie, it was like discovering a bit of treasure. Tolkien is probably one of the most brilliant writers of all time. Not only are his characters three dimensional and his plot tight and alluring, his writing is flawless. There is a certain charm to The Lord of the Rings series that no other series can ever have. Every sentence flows smoothly to the next and the next. And I especially loved in reading this book the lack of adjectives and adverbs when someone is speaking. I tend to use a lot of those to help my readers understand what tone my character is currently using or what facial expression they’re making. Tolkien doesn’t need any of that because his characters speak so distinctly from the essence of their inner being that I know exactly how Sam or Gandalf is saying something. I can even tell who’s speaking before he tells me. If I could only write a story even half as inspiring as he, I would be content.

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in Book Reviews, For Fellow Writers

Fourth Five Books of 2015

I apologize for not posting in a while. To make up for it, I wrote a really long post! 🙂

Here are books 16-20 that I read in June of 2015. If you missed out on one of or all my first three posts, you can check out books 1-5 here, books 6-10 here and books 11-15 here.

Before I list these next five books, I’ll give you an update on my reading for 2016. So far I have read five books (two were on audio). By the end of this month I need to have read four to make up for only reading two last month. Luckily, I just finished two and am close to finishing one more already. I’m sure I will be caught up by March 1st!

Now, on with the books:

16. Cannons at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory – This book is part of the Dear America series. It centers around the lives of families following their husbands to the battle lines during the Revolutionary War. It is actually a sequel to the Dear America, The Winter of Red Snow. This book was really interesting because it showed me a different side to the Revolutionary War. For one, we don’t normally hear much after the Declaration of Independence (at least, I rarely did) and this one showed the end of the war (or the beginning of the end), which didn’t happen until the early 1780s. After they lost everything, the family decided to follow their father as he went off to become a soldier (normally a few days behind him in case a battle ensued) instead of waiting behind at home. Overall, an enjoyable read.

* 17. Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff – This book. Oh my goodness. One of my favorites I read last year. It is a companion to Lily’s Crossing which I mentioned reading in one of my earlier posts. Honestly, I don’t even remember when or where it happened, but all of a sudden, in the middle of reading it, something had changed. It went from being just a book I was reading, to a story that meant everything to me. After crossing that point, I couldn’t put it down! I liked this one even more than Lily’s Crossing, which doesn’t often happen! It did not have very many reviews on Amazon, so I gave it one shortly after finishing the book. I’ll share it here:

Beautiful Story of a Period in History We Won’t Soon Forget

This book is recommended for ages 8-12, and though I understand why, I myself am a teenager and I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
World War II is one of my favorite time periods, it is true, and this piece dedicated to that era gives a wonderful peek into what it was like to live during that time. The writing, as always, was very relate-able and the characters were endearing. I fell in love with Meggie and her family and greatly enjoyed her character development. Though this book is a companion, it works perfectly as a stand-alone as well.
*SPOILER* Although I was severely disappointed that it ended before we could find out what happened to Meggie’s brother Eddie, it just goes to show how much it meant to me to find out! I even went back to Lily’s Crossing to see if his fate had been mentioned there and I had just missed it!
I would recommend this book to anyone of any age. I commend the author, Patricia Reilly Giff, for writing a story that moved me so much. It doesn’t often happen. Thank you, Mrs. Giff, for this book.

18. Kit Saves the Day by Valerie Tripp – This is a continuation of listening to the Kit books in the car. One of my favorite children’s stories growing up! (I talked more about Kit’s books in earlier posts–links are above ^)

* 19. The Keeper by Erin Phillips – I have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this one! Erin Phillips is my cousin and fellow writing buddy here in North Carolina. She self-published her first novel, The Keeper, in 2015 and it is available for purchase as paperback or Kindle on CreateSpace and Amazon–check it out! For updates on special promotions for The Keeper and updates on her upcoming sequel, The Varken, check out her blog, One Word More, here.

Here is the review I put up on Amazon for her book:

“The Keeper” takes place in the fantastical world of Eviryia from the perspective of Kayleigh, the Keeper of Ailenor. After decades of trying to find the True King, distraught, Kayleigh locks herself up in Ailenor, giving up on attempting to bring a king back on the throne, thus bringing peace to the kingdom. And so begins Kayleigh’s journey as she renews her determination to save the kingdom and discovers the true meaning of her duty as Keeper of Eviryia.
This book had beautiful descriptions of the places Kayleigh visited outside of Ailenor and the character development was evident. I could hardly put it down, reading chapter after chapter, wanting to know what happens next. The ending was just right, like any good story, while still having a few twists! The endearing characters were relatable and believable, becoming your friends by the time you reached the last page, making you wish it kept going!
I hope Erin Phillips publishes a sequel! However, “The Keeper” is perfect as a stand alone. I am looking forward to reading more of her work!

20. Bridget’s Journey by Valerie Cotnoir – Heehee, yes, I read my own book. It took me a while, but after downloading Bridget’s Journey on Kindle, and after taking a break from looking at this story since I had already read it over and over a million times, I read it again and marked a few things here and there to change for future reference.

As a matter of fact, I updated these changes and published my second edition of Bridget’s Journey very recently! If you’re interested, I have two copies I’m selling for $7.00 each for those living in the Raleigh area. Otherwise, you can buy your paperback or Kindle copy on Amazon or CreateSpace! Or download it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Don’t forget to leave a review after you have finished reading!

To finish off, here are some reviews that other people have left for this book on Amazon:

This is a sweet story of a young girl whose world is turned upside down. After Bridget’s father dies, she goes to live in Prince Edward Island with her grandparents whom she has never met.
As Bridget struggles through a major move, and dealing with the pain of being an orphan, she slowly learns to depend on God to help get through life’s trials.
The scene where Bridget meets her grandmother for the first time brought me to tears.
I really enjoyed this book and plan to read it again.

Wonderful story to read with my two daughters. Heart-warming and well written for a first-time author. I hope she writes more soon.
Bridget’s Journey was a beautiful story about dealing with grief and friendship troubles. It captures the charm and beauty of Prince Edward Island, the main setting of the story, and the main characters were felt very real and lovable. Great story to read with kids but is very enjoyable for all ages! If you loved any of the Anne of Green Gables books, you will love this book too! I look forward to seeing what other books the author will come up with!

Only two more posts and I will be finished reviewing the books I read in 2015!

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them