Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

Behind the Books We Love – Everlasting

Good afternoon!

Last week I had the privilege to write a post for Literature Approved about the inspiration behind my novel, Everlasting. I had so much fun walking down memory lane and recalling how I came up with Azalea and Malachi’s story. And honestly, it was fun remembering what Everlasting is about. I’ve written a few novels and a short story since self-publishing Everlasting in 2015, so there was something sweet about reminiscing Memiana and Orutia and its crazy crew of characters.

I was young when I wrote and published Everlasting. I like to think I’ve grown as a writer (and editor! 😉 ) since, but I think I still did something right with Everlasting. It was a very simple story with a clear goal and message. I often get tempted to make my stories as complex as possible so as to give my readers a sort of roller coaster ride, but more complexity doesn’t always equal better. Most of my favorite books are very simple.

Sometimes it’s not about how many characters, side plots or backstories you have. Sometimes all you need is a good story.

 

I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I was young. Maybe eleven or twelve. But I have this vivid memory of following Mom through the aisles at an arts and crafts store and this question sort of popping in my head:

What if a girl of sixteen was cursed so that she grew really old—to the age of ninety!—within a few weeks or months?

This was quickly followed by another question:

What if a boy was in love with her and would stop at nothing to prevent her death?

As we continued roaming the store and reached the toy aisle, I saw this row of figurines: wizards, fairies, kings, elves, and so on. They were very colorful and their facial expressions varied, sparking my imagination. My sisters and I, while Mom shopped, liked to play with these figurines whenever we went to this store. Eventually, a new thought occurred to me: what if this girl and boy lived in a fantasy world? Better yet, what if the girl was actually a fairy?

Before I give too much away, let’s just say I went home and wrote what I imagined to be the prologue of this story. Later on, I wrote the first two or three chapters. This story, or the start of one, sat in my documents for a long time before I looked at it again, as more ideas came to me and I got distracted. When I was in tenth grade, I joined a writer’s club with other homeschoolers and, having finished writing another book, I considered which novel to write next. I came across Everlasting—as its title has been since the beginning—in my documents and decided it was time to finish writing it. I was sixteen when, in January of 2014—soon after self-publishing my first novel—I finished writing the first draft of Everlasting.

To finish reading, check out the full post on Literature Approved!

Contributor Reviewer

 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: Murder Among the Tombstones by Kim Carter

Long time, no see!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review, so I’m excited to share another unique one with you guys today! I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review–mainly because her sequel is being released soon.

Mysteries used to be all I read as a kid, but I honestly haven’t read many since high school. So I really enjoyed watching Clara and Iris, two hilarious old ladies, try to solve a murder mystery in Murder Among the Tombstones.

From the beginning, I loved the idea of two old ladies starting their own detective agency. So you could say I was hooked before I even opened the novel. And, for the most part, it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I loved all the main characters: polite and reserved Clara, spicy and naïve Iris, responsible Quita, hot-tempered Detective Nettles and dedicated Detective Pitts. Even the side characters (and there were many of them) each had distinct traits so that I was almost immediately intrigued after each introduction.

One element about Murder Among the Tombstones I loved was Carter’s writing style. I learned several new words thanks to her unique vocabulary. And there’s something about the setting and flow of the story that feels so warm and inviting and hard to put down. The dialogue felt very realistic and I found myself laughing out loud several times over Iris’s antics.

As for the mystery, I was immediately pulled in. The main murder case was horrifying and it soon became clear it was a serial killer. About halfway through the book, we entered the heads of the murderer and his latest victim. I was disgusted by the murderer’s thoughts and dying to know who he was. It was clear to me that he was a psychopath based on the way he handled his victims. And, of course, I’m hoping beyond hope that his latest victim will escape unscathed.

Click this link to finish reading my review!

Contributor Reviewer

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine

And the 12 Days of Christmas Books tour continues! We are halfway through this fun Literature Approved event and I’m so, so excited to share my second (and last) review for the tour. The Christmas book I chose to review this time is When Christmas Comes Again, one of my favorite books from one of my favorite middle grade series–Dear America.

I love this book for many reasons…but before I start ranting and get ahead of myself, you can find out for yourself below!

This book is part of the Dear America series, a middle grade historical fiction series near and dear to my heart. I hope to review many Dear Americas in the future, but I’m excited that my first one happens to be one of my all-time favorites!

When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine is one of the few (if not the only) Dear America about a seventeen-year-old girl. Most of the Dear America heroines are between twelve and fourteen years old, so you can imagine my excitement when I was finally the exact same age as the main character. Therefore, Simone’s questions about her future and her meaning in life are very relatable as I asked myself similar questions at that age. Also, Simone’s family is French and as I am French-Canadian, I loved the bits of French language and references throughout the diary.

Click here to finish reading my review! And when you’re finished, check out the other Christmas books Rayleigh has reviewed this week of various genres. These posts are a fun ride you want to be on!

Contributor Reviewer

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Can you guys believe it’s already December?! I’m sitting here listening to Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red Christmas album while finishing off my peppermint chocolate chip milkshake from Chick-fil-A, so glad we’re fully immersed into the Christmas season. It’s cold outside, our house is decorated in lights and every night we settle down to watch a new Hallmark Christmas movie with a warm cup of tea in hand. Doesn’t get much better than that, right?

Wrong! What’s even better is that I get to participate in Literature Approved’s 12 Days of Christmas Books this year! For the first twelve days of December, my good friend, Rayleigh, over at Literature Approved, is going to post a 4 or 5 star Christmas book review, and each post will include something special, like a giveaway, a recipe, etc.

On the 2nd Day of Christmas Books, Literature Approved posted my book review on Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber which was made into the most adorable movie back in 2010. You can start reading it below!

I’ve watched the Hallmark movie based on this book multiple times since it aired in 2010. Holly is quirky, Jake is earnest, Mrs. Miracle is both adorable and hysterical at the same time and the whole thing just makes you want to wrap up in a cozy blanket with some hot chocolate. There are several Hallmark movies based on Debbie Macomber’s novels and for good reason. She knows how to write a predictable, yet feel-good and heart-warming tale.

This fall my sister and I have been trying to listen to audiobooks on our way to and from work (we both work as preschool teacher’s assistants) to try to help us reach our reading goals for 2018. Mom got us a few from the library one day, including this one, which we decided to listen to all together on our way to and from my cousin’s house (she lives an hour away—perfect for listening to audiobooks together!). We all loved the movie, so we were excited to read the book.

You can finish reading the review here! Enjoy and keep a lookout for the other reviews up for the 12 Days of Christmas Books!

Contributor Reviewer

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: Heaven Shining Through by Joe Siccardi

Another review is up on Literature Approved! This was a biographical-style novella I read in one sitting a couple weeks ago. Here’s what I thought about it:

I read this novella in one sitting. It’s a short 64 pages long and easy to read.

Overall, it was a pleasant story, though it did include some mature elements. The characters were enjoyable and there was some humor. However, I didn’t really get it. The story starts with Samantha visiting her mother after her father has passed away and we get the idea that they’re in an estranged relationship and have been for a long time. As Samantha washes her mom’s dishes, she thinks back on her life. But after a brief description of her childhood, the story quickly centers around Samantha and her relationship with Chad than her relationship with her mom. The novella gives a detailed account of how Samantha and Chad start dating, get engaged, their adventurous married life, raising their children together, etc. While I enjoyed it, I forgot all about Samantha’s mom until we returned to the present toward the end of the story. Samantha realizes her mom is dying and they have a sudden reconciliation before the book’s ending.

So was Heaven Shining Through about Samantha and Chad’s sweet and romantic relationship or her tense relationship with her mom? I don’t know.

Click here to read the rest of the review!

Contributor Reviewer