Friday, September 22, 2017

A Hobbit-ish Celebration // Frodo & Bilbo's Birthday!

Just for those I haven't informed yet...we have made it home from NC! Our house only sustained minor damage, thank goodness, and we are slowly trying to get back to a normal schedule. (I'm struggling a lot with this for whatever reason. *sighs*) I'm also feeling a lot better now, though I'm left with this nasty drainage. :P ANYWAY. Thought you all might want an update. *salutes and ducks out*

Greetings, my friends! Today we are gathered to commemorate the ongoing legacy of two of the most beloved characters of all time. Care to guess who they are?

Because they're obviously blind and couldn't read the title of the post.

You know, you really should get a hobby, Lieutenant. Being the Person Who Inserts Annoying Comments at Birthday Parties isn't exactly a title that rolls off the tongue.

What about the Most Dashing Person in History? That seems to fit.

*grits teeth in fake smile* Yeah. Sure. (Anything to shut you up.)

Ooooookay then. Today is Frodo and Bilbo's birthday! These two brave hobbits both accomplished amazing feats (with the help of friends) and their legacies live on even now. In honor of their special day, I have decided to do a Lord of the Rings post.

So impressive. *yawns*

This whole week is actually Tolkien Week, and Hamlette is throwing a smashing party over at her blog. As today is the culmination of all the festivities, I am participating in the fun little tag Hamlette created. Prepare for looooots of fangirling. ;)

1. How long have you been a Tolkien fan?

I first discovered the movies (yes, I saw them first; don't you dare judge me, Lizzy) back on January 10, 2014. And the reason I remember the exact date? Well...they were pretty memorable movies. (Plus it was a Big Deal for me to watch them so the date is burned into my brain.)

I loved them even after my first viewing, but it took a second time for them to really sink in and take the hallowed spot as my favorite movie series of all time. After that, there was no turning back.

2. Has your love of Middle-earth affected your life?

A THOUSAND TIMES YES. Middle-earth is my home. It's like a piece of my heart was bound into these tales long ago, and I'm more complete now that I've found it.  They are, hands-down, one of the most influential stories in my life.

3. If you had to take the One Ring to Mordor, which character would you choose for your sole companion?

I was about to say Legolas, but...I honestly feel that would be awkward? We're both quiet and it would just be weird between us. (Especially since I would just spend 99.785% of the time just staring at his flawless hair. #potentiallyawkward)

I'd probably have to go with Gandalf. Not because he's my favorite character, per se, but because I'd be least likely to die (whether from orcs or awkwardness) with him around. And he's pretty awesome. He would make me feel a lot safer than if I had just one hobbit with me. ;)

4. Which is scarier, Shelob or the Balrog?

SHELOB. *burrows under covers and shivers* We hates spiders, precious.

5. Which two towers do you think Tolkien was referring to in the title The Two Towers? (i.e. Orthanc, Barad-dûr, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul, or Minas Tirith)

I've always thought it was Orthanc and Barad-dûr, like a lot of people have said, but Hamlette's answer made a lot of sense. Tolkien could have meant Barad-dûr and Minas Tirith, as the two were kind of the "light vs. darkness" towers.

6. Whose wardrobe would you like to have?

Need I say more??

But also this. 

To be honest, I would also be completely satisfied with Bilbo's fabulous wardrobe.

7. What do you think an Ent Draught would taste like?

*squints* Um. Like dirt? Leaves? Grass? Tree bark?

(Or is that considered cannibalism?)

8. Where in Middle-earth would you like to live?

TAKE ME TO RIVENDELL PLEASE OKAY THANKS. <3 I want to I peruse Elrond's library and take walks along the bridges with the waterfalls flowing behind me and sit amongst the autumnal colors and just breathe. 

I adore Rivendell. (Though the Shire is lovely...I would love to live there if the Elves got tired of me. *winks*)

9. Do you have any Tolkien-related opinions that surprise other people?

Oh yay. Controversial issues time! Time to lose some friends...


1) I actually...don't love the LotR books? I've only read FotR so far, but it was frankly one of the hardest books I've ever read. I still enjoyed it, but it was significantly less engaging than the movies. I don't think I would have liked the book if I hadn't seen the movies first. (Weird but true.)

2) I like the Hobbit movies. *cue gasps from the book purists* YES, IT'S TRUE. I do like the movies! I thought they were great, although I like the book more, ironically. They're both wonderful in their own ways.

3) I don't care for Faramir that much, but I like Boromir. I don't have much to say about this except, um, I just don't get the obsession I've seen with Faramir? Sure, he's a good character, and I don't dislike him, but I've just never been a huge fan for whatever reason. However, I love how Boromir's character was done and feel 1000% protective of him. A lot of people I know perceive him as "evil" or "inferior" for falling to temptation, but guys...he's so much more than one bad decision. His relationship with the hobbits melts my heart, and I love his relationship with Faramir. (See? You don't have to disown me...right? *pleading look*)

4) I love Frodo. I just do. In my top 5 favorite LotR character post, I discussed why more in-depth, but the short version? He's a hero. Although people say Sam is the "real hero"...I'd say that's only partially true. They both needed each other, and Frodo is arguably one of the strongest characters in the series. 

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the books or movies.

Stealing all my answers from last year's tag because I'm extremely resourceful.

The proper term is lazy.

NOT YOU AGAIN. Be quiet or I'll send Legolas after you. He never misses. *warning glare*

Like I said, I'm using all the quotes from the tag that I completed for last year's party. They're all from the movie versions, mostly because I don't know many of the book-ones by heart.

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." 

/ / /

"Some believe it is only great power that can keep evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."

/ / / 

"I would rather share one lifetime with you than spend all the ages of this world alone."

/ / /

"Anyway, you need people of intelligence of this sort of"

/ / /

"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."

/ / / 

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." (Okay, this is actually a different one from last time.)

/ / / 

"Go back to your books, your fireplace. Plant your trees, watch them grow. If more of us valued home above gold, it would be a merrier world."

/ / /

"A wizard is never late, Frodo. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to." 

/ / /

"Not all those who wander are lost."

/ / /

"You left out one of the chief characters--Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam."

"Now, Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun. I was being serious."

"So was I."

/ / / 

*is sitting here contentedly staring at all the quotes* I LOVE THESE STORIES SO MUCH. <33

And so, we are here, at the end of all things. I'm a few friends shorter, a few hours older (news flash: this post took hours to write), and a few degrees more in love with Lord of the Rings than I was before.

But wait! There's more. (Yes, I lied. Very un-Christian of me. :P) Because my brain is dead and I can't come up with anything creative, you get some bonus Lord of the Rings videos like last year. 

This one is particularly funny if you've seen Harry Potter (I have not), but it's still pretty hilarious otherwise. Studio C is ingenious, guys. GO WATCH THEM.


This post is all over the place, but I hope it's somewhat entertaining. (That's my goal. To entertain the world with my enlightening presence--oh dear, Lieutenant Bradshaw is being a bad influence. *side-glare*)


Happy Hobbit Day, my friends! What are some of your favorite LotR quotes? Whose wardrobe would you steal if you could? AND where in Middle-earth would you reside? (Pick the Shire so I can visit you.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

L I F E U P D A T E // Hurricanes + Other Craziness

As I'm typing this, we're currently in North Carolina because of Hurricane Irma. (For a few more hours anyway...we leave Saturday morning.) A lot of you probably know about this, but we had to evacuate due to the hurricane.

It was a massive storm. Supposedly one of the biggest storms ever in recorded history, Irma topped with wind speeds at 185 mph. It. Was. Insane. High winds combined with an impressive width. It was twice the width of our state!

With the forecasts originally showing it headed right towards us, we scrambled to put up shutters, secure items in and out of the house, and get packed for an evacuation. It was very stressful, and I admit that I was a little scared for our home and for all the people we know here. I wondered, once again, whether or not my house would still be standing. Whether I would see my books again. (One of the first thoughts that entered my head. #bookdragonforlife)

Thankfully, we were able to get out in time. The roads were insane. It took us twice the amount of time to drive to NC, and we were all exhausted after getting up at 3:30 am to get on the road. But it was truly a miracle that we made it. There were reports on the news of places being completely out of gas, but we managed to find it whenever we needed it. God truly worked a miracle.

Watching the weather on TV was rather surreal. We would see the radar images of the massive hurricane, hear about how it practically annihilated islands in its path. And it wasn't slowing down.

The models gradually shifted the storm away from where we lived, but that didn't mean we didn't feel the impacts. Our power went out at home for several days, and there was some exterior damage. We still don't know what the interior looks like.

Still, seeing the footage of homes in ruins, floods ravaging entire cities, wind blowing off roofs like it was was shocking. That could have been us. That could have been people I know.

But God was gracious and protected us from this horrible devastation. We are safe, and that's the most important thing.

However, I can't help but hurt for all the people who lost everything. There are so many people affected by this storm, and my heart goes out to them all. Because I know what it feels like to be afraid. I've been down that road.

For all those impacted by Irma, I just want to say that you're in my prayers. I can't pretend to know exactly how you feel. I didn't lose a home. I didn't lose a friend or family member.

But I know how it feels to be afraid. And I care for all of you. <3

While we are now safe, I still have all the stress of college homework, on top of feeling miserably ill. I feel better today, but I was running a temperature of 103.5 degrees I basically felt like death. :P It's been really, really hard to stay afloat with homework in the midst of my dad's health problems, a major hurricane, and the worst illness I've had in years.

Life has been hard lately. I'm not gonna lie and say that my world is full of rainbow butterflies and sparkles. But even amidst all these chaotic emotions and less-than-ideal circumstances, I have a God who is bigger than any storm. Any fear. Any doubt.

He's holding onto me.

Sorry for the random update post. I don't want to come across like I'm complaining all the time, but I feel like I owe you a bit of an explanation for my absence lately. I'd like to get back to posting regularly eventually; I just don't think that's a viable option right now.

P.S. For a more eloquent post...check out my last experience with a hurricane. (I didn't feel like a deranged squirrel when I wrote that so that's why it's actually coherent.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Great Birthday Bash // feat. Me, Myself, and Cake

I'M BACK!!! *pops through the ceiling* Um...I apparently disappeared for over two weeks? I blame this all on school and the craziness of life (which I might talk about sometime--maybe).

If you didn't even notice I was gone...that's okay. I'll get over it. Eventually. *sniffles* :P

It just so happens that today is a special day. No, not the anniversary of the invention of chocolate. (Though that's arguably more important.) (But anyway.)

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! *customary glitter explosion*

This may seem like a terribly narcissistic post, but if you think about it, it's really not. (Well, mostly. *cough*) I mean, people throw birthday parties for themselves all the time and the invitees usually feel obligated to bring that person presents. So yeah. That makes this seem mild in comparison. ;) 

Anyway. I'm not doing this just so everyone knows it's my birthday. (I mean, you already remember that from last year...don't you?? *squints suspiciously*) I'm just doing this because I had such a fun time putting together a birthday celebration last year.

Oh sure. Because that's totally believable.

*groans* Who invited YOU, Lieutenant?

I don't need an invitation, love. I just naturally assumed everyone would be flattered with my presence.

Naturally. *rolls eyes*

Well, don't let me interrupt your egotistical celebration of your birth. This shall be quite the interesting show.

It's not egotist--oh, never mind. You wouldn't listen to my reasoning anyway.


// Q&A //

Since this went so well last year, I decided to bring back the Q&A idea! (Very original. I'm a very original person.) My birthday Q&A post is actually the most-viewed post on my blog so I guess everyone liked it. *shrugs*

Anywho! Shoot me all your questions, o bookdragons! (But don't actually shoot me because that would hurt.)

Way to ruin the fun.

Ahem. *withering glare in character's direction* In addition to the Q&A, I also have a few other festivities planned.

// Quiz //

I put together a fun little "how well do you know me?" quiz. Basically, it's a test to see how good of a stalker you are.

I tried to do a fancy quiz through Typeform, but they had to make all the features I needed not part of the free account. *grumbles* So you get a lame link instead. xD

A lame link to a lame quiz. It fits.

// Music //

So you remember how I got a ukulele recently? Well, I recorded a bit of me playing "I See the Light" from Tangled and "Rainbow Veins" by Owl City on my uke! I guess they kind of count as covers? I didn't do the entire songs because *cough* the chords are too hard but at least you get a glimpse at my terrible skills. I will most likely regret sharing these videos...

Look at that, you actually made a correct statement. *claps*

Oh wow, you actually made yet another annoying comment. Look at you.

I'm very skilled in that department.


A few things:

a) Yes, I do realize I'm singing super quietly. THERE'S A REASON. xD

b) D7, G7, and E7 chords are the worst. (Thus my failure during the chord transitions...hehe.)

c) Again, terrible video quality. I promise I'll give you a decent video one of these days.

// Writing //

Because for some reason, this cake shop scene I wrote in Moonlit Mirror popped in my head. (This post is so random. *uncertain chuckle*)

/ / /

She shoved open the door to the shop and was hit straight-on by the scent of orange and vanilla. She inhaled deeply, letting the aroma ease her frustration. With a sigh, she allowed herself to take in her surroundings. It was quite a bit smaller than she had thought, based on the exterior. Dozens of shelves lined every spare inch of wall space, and each one was filled with cakes of every imaginable variety. Quadruple layer chocolate cakes, leaning blue and pink towers of frosting (with what she assumed was cake somewhere underneath it), and miniature loaves oozing purple berries. There was a white cart rolled into the center of the room. It was laden with sprinkles, glitter, and strange glowing stars.

Charlotte took a step toward the cart, but her foot slipped on the slick tile. Gasping, she flailed her arms in a desperate attempt to steady herself.

Thud. She fell onto her backside, her skirts poofing in the air like a hot air balloon. She groaned and struggled to her feet. That was the second time in three days that she had fallen down and made a fool of herself. At least no one saw me this time.

“Ah, g’day, Miss Davidson!”

Charlotte jumped and noticed with dismay that a man in a stained smock was standing right in front of her, smiling expectantly. She attempted to smooth out her skirts, only to realize that they were smeared with icing. She winced. I don’t even want to know how much of it is on my backside…

She cleared her voice and attempted to salvage what little dignity she had left. “Good day, sir.”

“Oh dear, I’m terribly sorry about the frosting.” The tall lanky man bent over and began to wipe the floor with her skirts. She jerked them out of his hands in horror.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.

He blushed and fumbled with a rag in his smock’s pocket. “Sorry, sorry. So terribly sorry. Dreadfully sorry, madam.”

He uttered about five more apologies before Charlotte finally grew impatient. “We’ve already established that you’re sorry.”

“Oh, I am sorry.”

I know!

He finished wiping the pink confection off the tile and awkwardly ran a hand through his wild shocks of blond. “You must think me terribly oafish. I’m sor—I mean, I didn’t wish to inconvenience you, Miss Davidson.”

Charlotte crossed her arms. “How do you know my name?”

The man adjusted round spectacles on his nose, his eyes growing wide in realization. “Oh! That!” He chuckled. “Lieutenant Bradshaw informed me of your need for a cake. He said you would be coming down shortly.”

Oh, splendid. Now she had the Lieutenant watching her every move.

“Is there any particular cake you would like?”

Charlotte shoved her annoyance aside and turned her attention back to the peculiar worker. “What do you have?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. What do you want?”

She exhaled sharply and forced a smile. “Perhaps I could tell you if you described your menu.”

The spectacled man scratched his wild head of hair. “Oh dear…but I’m afraid you don’t quite understand. I have to know what you want before I can tell you what I have.”

“What on this blasted earth are you talking about?”

He shrugged and set to wiping the floor again with her skirts. She yanked them out of his furiously-scrubbing hands and received another round of apologies.

“The floor’s already clean.”

He laughed nervously. “Oh, I thought so. I was just making sure.”

/ / / 

Figures that you wouldn't include a snippet with me in it.

Sorry, I didn't want to give everyone nausea.

I'm quite sure they already have it after reading this disastrous post.

*sticks out tongue*

That concludes my birthday celebration post for this year! I hope you all enjoyed my kind-of-but-not-really-narcissistic post. 


Well, I hope that you actually DIDN'T get nausea from this post. It was a lot of fun to put together (even with all the annoying side-comments from the Lieutenant. :P) What's your favorite cake flavor? What questions do you want me to answer in the Q&A?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: A Name Unknown {Roseanna M. White}

Just as promised in last week's post, I am reviewing another book today! It's that gorgeous book with the library on the cover...and trust me, the inside is just as good as the outside of the book.

Allow me to present A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White!

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family's German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors' scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he's more than his name?

(Find this book on Goodreads & Amazon!)

/ / /

What does one say about perfection?

This book is a winner, friends. Even by looking at the cover, I had the feeling this book was going to be good (because duh, any book with books on the cover HAS to be good).

But the cover was just the beginning...

/ / Lovely Things / /


Do you even want to get into the infinite reasons why I love this book?

- Rosemary. First off, you know a book is good when you have to devote separate categories for each character. I haven't done this in a while, BUT THESE CHARACTERS ARE SO WONDERFUL THAT I HAVE TO.

Rosemary is a complex character with intricate motivations. She's a thief, and she's been charged with the job of a lifetime: to steal someone's very name. She heads out to Peter's estate with the intent of proving him a traitor to Germany. Of course, Interesting Things happen when she has to put on the facade of being a librarian in order to work there. *winks*

Rosie's just one of those characters you have to love. Sure, she has her rough edges--boy, does she--but that's what makes her so real. She's spunky, witty, opinionated, often blunt. But also soft-hearted, compassionate, and loyal. As one character so perfectly puts it, "Delicate when it suits you. Strong always." (TRUTH)

Not to mention she's just hilarious all around and lands a pretty solid punch. ;)

- Peter. *cue the flailing* If ever there was a character I would's Peter Holstein. NOT EVEN KIDDING.

(Now if only he were a little younger. *grumbles because he's thirty* XD)

Peter is so. darn. nice. Don't get me wrong, I looooooove me some snarky antiheroes...but there's a part of my heart that will forever adore the sweet, gentlemanly type. And Peter perfectly fits that role. He has a stutter (which, frankly, is really endearing); he has a MASSIVE, SWOONWORTHY LIBRARY; and he writes. HE WRITES. *cue more flailing*

He's considered by most to be a recluse, and the popular opinion is that he's a German sympathizer. (Ughh. Really, people? Just because of his name?) Due to the imminent threat of war, he realizes that his heritage could cause quite a few problems for him if he doesn't find a way to prove his loyalty to Britain. Not only that, but if anyone finds out he's the famous adventure novelist, it may tarnish his reputation as a writer. Allllll the complex motivations, folks. *rubs hands together*

Over the course of the book, my heart just is completely lost to Peter. What with his teasing banter with his friends Gryff and Rosemary, his sweet interactions with sweet Elowyn, his caring concern for...well, everyone, and his wonderful faith in God, he's just THE BEST.

Of course, he has his flaws--namely never paying attention to people when he's writing (#relatable) and getting a little irritable at times. Haha! But he really is one of my new favorite characters. HE'S JUST A PRECIOUS LITTLE HUMAN BEAN AND I LOVES HIM.

- The people. Yes, I know I just talked about two people very in-depth. But this deserves being mentioned separately. The people that populate this novel are so alive. Roseanna White certainly does an incredible job with breathing life into this novel. Rosemary's family. The villagers. The household staff. The royal family. They're all so real and marvelously done!

- THE BOOKS. YES, PRECIOUS. ALL THE BOOKS. I about died of happiness with the library stuff, all the writers mentioned, and the bookish discussions. It was bookdragon heaven.

- The plot. *points up to blurb* Need I say more?

- The themes. This is really important to me as a reader, to have books that stick with me after I read them. WELL. A Name Unknown certainly does just that. Rosemary's journey to faith is incredibly poignant, and it brought me to tears at a couple points. This is probably one of the best-handled faith arcs I've read. Ever.

- The rich detail. The author obviously did her research! I loved all the British dialogue (er, most of it), the beautiful descriptions, the entire feel of this book. It legitimately FELT like I was in early-20th century Britain. ME LOVES IT.

- The writing style. Yeah, while we're at it, let's just mention that Roseanna's writing style is perfect. Because it is, people. It is. She somehow manages to write a story that doesn't get you lost in the details yet still paints gorgeous pictures. I will admit, I'm a wee bit jealous of Roseanna's mastery of showing vs. telling. This is a book I will undoubtedly reread just to get a glimpse of perfectly engaging writing.

- The romance. OH MY GOODNESS. These two = the most darling couple. I know, I know...I say this quite a lot. ;) But I love Peter and Rosemary together so much! They complement each other perfectly, offsetting each other's qualities and helping each other see/correct their weaknesses. Not only that, but their romance is NOT based off externals.Something which I always find extraordinarily refreshing. They don't have an insta-love story either. They start off a little rockily, but slowly become friends over the months they know each other.

(The short version: they are precious.)

/ / Not So Lovely Things / /

- You thought you were actually going to see something in this section? WELL, THINK AGAIN.

- (Okay, I lied. :P) Some of the British terminology got a little old, and I felt that the plot wound down a bit too quickly. BUT that honestly didn't detract much at all from my enjoyment of the book! Just a few personal preferences.

/ / /

CONTENT: Lots of British "cursing." (Blazes, blighted, blasted, dratted, etc.) I don't personally consider it swearing, but it might bother some people. Characters share one semi-detailed kiss and three or four undetailed ones near the end. There are two kisses on the cheek, one kiss on the hand. Also brief mentions of mistresses a couple times, though nothing is gotten into. I would probably recommend it those 14 or 15+, mostly just because of the depth of writing/little bit of romance.

I think it's safe to say that I love this book. AND I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL. *glitter explosion* This author has made an impression on me, and it's a good one.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

5 stars!

(Find my review on Goodreads and Amazon.)

Hope you enjoyed this review! (And didn't mind all my flailing over a Certain Character. *coughs*) Have you read this book? BECAUSE YOU SHOULD. What is your favorite kind of character to read about?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer '17 Vlog // Giveaway Winner + Book Haul

(We're just pretending that this was posted on Thursday, not Friday. Okay? *quietly backs away*)

Greetings, bookdragons of the internet! Today I bring tidings of great joy!

...Or sorrow, depending on how much they like seeing your face.

*glares at Lieutenant Bradshaw* As I was saying, today I'm bringing you all a vlog! It's been a long time since I've done one, so I thought it would be a nice change.

Actually, you're wrong. It would be a horrible change.

Just...stop. You always ruin everything.

Well, excuse me for speaking truthfully here. I wasn't aware that freedom of speech didn't exist on your blog. Though I guess it's not much of a shocker really.

WILL YOU PLEASE BE QUIET? *sighs* Just ignore Lieutenant Bradshaw, everyone. He's rather annoying at times.

Someone has to make it more interesting around here, you know.

Back to my original thought. *taps chin* Oh! Yes! The vlog! It's been about 9 months now since I've recorded a vlog, and I just spontaneously decided to do one at midnight.

Totally logical.

I mentioned last week that nobody actually guessed the two lies for my 10 Truths and 2 Lies challenge...buuuuut I decided I was going to pick a winner anyway. I put everyone's names in a hat, shook them around, and picked the person lucky enough to receive a prize.

I think the correct term is unlucky.

I'm just pretending you don't exist.

Go ahead and ignore reality. That's one of your best skills anyway.

*sighs angrily* What are you doing here, anyway? You should be sitting in the unstarted draft of a sequel.

Ahh, so you are writing a sequel? This is news to me.

It depends how well you cooperate. If you don't shut up, I might just never continue your story.

Eh. I could care less.

Or I could kill you in the first chapter of the sequel. Whichever you prefer.

*grumbles* All right, evil author. You win.

*victorious smile* Thank you.

Now before the world's most annoying lieutenant decides to appear again, I should get onto the vlog. I drew the name of the giveaway winner (YAY!!) and rambled on about books I've purchased/borrowed/received for review lately. SO YEAH. This is just me being random essentially.

Um. Hopefully that wasn't too bad?

Don't worry, it was.

Go. Away. Right. Now.

*clears throat and steps out of room*

I hope that you at least partially enjoyed the vlog! I know I rambled quite a bit, haha. I promise there will be a Realm Makers recap post coming soon! (But maybe not a Camp NaNo recap post. All you really need to know is that I lowered my goal--again--to 10k. And I reached it! YAY! This is kind of a big deal since I had such a crazy month in July. *shrugs*)

ALSO. I'm having issues with spam bots subscribing to my blog. Anybody ever had that happen? I'm trying to figure out a way to add a CAPTCHA to the "subscribe by email" gadget. Or to completely change out that gadget and replace it with something else. Basically, I need tech help. Please. XD

I also wanted to let you know that I'm not sure how frequently I'll be blogging for the unforeseeable future. I want to blog, but I just feel like the quality of my posts isn't what it should be. I don't know. I may be posting less frequently, I may not. WE'LL JUST HAVE TO SEE. But I really really really want to reply to your comments and produce good posts. So that will probably become the priority in the next few weeks.

But hang tight! 'Cause I've got some cool posts headed your way soon. ;)

Now all you have to do is stop talking. Then we can get peace and quiet.

I swear, if you say one more snarky comment, I'm going to start plotting your tragic death scene.

Sometimes I really hate you.

I hope that a certain character wasn't too distracting for everyone. Ehehe. (I kind of love him, but don't tell him that. *coughs*) Let me know what you thought of the vlog! I will for sure be emailing you, Madeline, and sending you your prize should you desire it. :)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Camp NaNo July '17 // W E E K 4 Update + 10 Truths and 2 Lies Results

(Prefacing this by saying I'm at Realm Makers now. *glitter explosion* I'm very excited but very busy...thus the reason for this update post. XD)

Look at me, I'm actually doing a Camp NaNo update. *gasps*

To be perfectly honest? There still isn't much to update. This has been one of the busiest months I've ever had--rivaling even the crazy whirlwind that was February. Almost half of the month has/will be spent traveling. We had family visit. I've had some get-togethers with my friend. There was lots of packing. Fourth of July fun.

In other words, God has had different plans for me this month...and they did not involve writing.

My goal for the month was 20,000 words. And THAT felt low to me before. I've always done crazy NaNos--90k in November, 50k in April. I thought I could handle it. I thought I had it "covered."

WELLLL...I didn't.

My current wordcount: 9,312. 

Even looking at those numbers now, I can't help but feel insufficient. I know it's not true, that I just couldn't write a lot, but a part of me feels like I failed. And that's just...something I continually struggle with.

I officially lowered my goal to 11,000 words, almost halving it. Pressing that "submit" button after I changed the word goal was really difficult, honestly.

I'm an overachiever. I take on waaaaaay more things than I could possibly accomplish, and when I inevitably don't get everything done, I get so frustrated with myself. In fact, I devoted an entire post to this on my other blog. It's a real struggle, guys.

This July has been a m a z i n g. But on the flip side, it's also been h a r d. I want to write. I feel like I need to write. But the reality is that I CAN'T. I just can't. Life is too crazy and exciting right now, and that's okay. I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that it's impossible for me to reach my 20k goal, but I do know that God has other plans for me. AND THEY ARE SO MUCH HIGHER THAN MY OWN.

That aside, I do have a bit of an update. Remember how I mentioned switching projects in my last post? My Snow White retelling was just not. working. out. I love the plot, and I know for sure that I'll be picking up the story again. It's just not time to work on it right now. Instead, I started writing a new steampunk short story called Along the Lines of Legerdemain. (Notice the matching titles? ;D) I'm going to be hopefully doing an entire collection of the adventures of Fiona and Steel. THEY ARE JUST TOO FUN.

This story is going muuuuch better than Behind the Velvet Curtain, despite the fact that I haven't gotten the chance to write much of it. I LOVE MAH CHARACTERS SO MUCH. 

And with all my talking out of the way, I present to you some snippets! :)

/ / /

(I may be a little proud of these first lines. Just sayin'. ;P)

It is never very pleasant to wake up to a gun in your face.

Fear pulsed through my veins as I stared down the shiny barrel of a pistol. I was completely vulnerable, an easy target for my potential assassin.

And whoever was holding the gun had a very good grasp of that concept.

/ / /

“Border patrol guards,” I muttered.

“That’s no problem,” Aerick said. “We’ve gone through the inspections easily in the past. They’ll only arrest you if you’re carrying smuggled cargo.”

“Then I think now would be a perfect time to worry.”

Aerick paused. His mouth opened, then closed as a light turned on in his eyes. “Fiona, you don’t happen to have any smuggled goods . . . do you?”

I coughed and focused on the approaching airships. “Well, it might be a possibility.”

/ / /
He shrugged and quirked one side of his lip upward. “How fast do you want it to go? This ship happens to be one of the finest of its kind.”

“Which means it’s a piece of junk.”

He gave me the I-will-kill-you-if-you-say-that-again look. “Technically speaking, you’re just an annoying little girl that’s bothered me 363 days of the year for seventeen years, but we’re not being technical, are we?”

“You really know how to win a girl’s heart.” I slid into a seat beside him and sneaked a look at the speedometer, its red dial slowly ticking up to fifteen. Fifteen kilometers per hour isn’t going to cut it. I tried to ignore the nagging feeling in my gut. But something told me that the sleeker, newer zeppelins ahead of us could easily outrun us.

I raised my eyebrows. “Well, you’re going to have to make our baby run faster than it’s ever run before.”

“She will. Trust me.”

“You know how much I hate you saying those two words.”

Steel managed a wink. “My apologies, Miss McAvay.”

/ / /

Hope you enjoyed reading those as much as I did writing them. I always love writing Fiona and Steel's dialogue. XD

As the second half of the title suggests, I am also presenting the results of the 10 Truths and 2 Lies challenge I had on my blog a couple weeks ago.

And the winner is . . . 

*crickets chirp* 

Um, no one??

YEAH. Evidently I made these questions too hard for everyone again. *cracks up* But don't worry, someone WILL get a prize this time! Once I get back from Realm Makers, I'll do a random drawing of your guys' names from a bowl. Whoever gets picked will be contacted for their mailing address and choice of prize. 

Well, what are the two lies, you ask? They are...

3) I've never been camping (I ACTUALLY HAVE ONCE...that's a story for another day ;D)

11) I've eaten a scorpion lollipop (ewwww no way)

I feel kind of bad that I made it this hard, haha. But have no fear: someone will win something this time. ;)

Well, that's it for my last-minute post. I had to do something relatively quick because of Realm Makers (WHICH I'M SO EXCITED FOR *screams*). Tell me: have you ever been camping? What is the weirdest thing you've eaten?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: High As the Heavens {Kate Breslin}

HELLO, LOVELY PEOPLE! I am back from my road trip with the family! We got back Saturday night. The trip was amazing and I will hopefully be sharing lots of pictures on my other blog (yes, I have another blog, in case you didn't know ;)) this Sunday. I...kind of skipped my post there last week. *coughs*

Anywayyy. I have something very special for this week: a book review!! I know, I promised a Camp NaNo update...but sorry, that's not gonna happen this week. There's not much to update--except for the small fact that I abruptly changed projects in the middle of the month. Ahem. I'm also Very Behind at the moment. *grumbles*

Before I devote an entire post to my rambling, allow me to present the book High As the Heavens by Kate Breslin!

DAT COVER. *drools*

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle's café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She's a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service. 

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

(Buy it on Amazon!)

Before anything else, can we just take a moment to admire that cover? *sighs happily* It's even more beautiful in person!

Now onto my long-awaited review of this lovely book. ;)

(You can also read my review here originally on Goodreads.)

// Lovely Things //

- The plot. It was so unique, as it focused on Belgium during WWI, which is actually the first of its kind that I've seen. The main character Eve works for a Belgian resistance group as a spy, and the romance revolves around a married couple rather than two people falling in love. SO YES. This was a super unique premise! There is a lot of suspense/intrigue throughout the story, and the stakes are set high. Like really high. I was on the edge of my seat at parts. o.o

- The characters. YESSSS. The characters in this story were the best. I loved Eve and Simon, both so very different yet so very perfect for each other. Eve was gentle and compassionate but also independent and spirited. AND YES, I'M ALL FOR THAT. It's so refreshing to find characters who aren't either a) wimps or b) superhumans with no emotions. Ahem. :P And Simon was rather wonderful, too...because hello, he's Scottish. That's enough reason to like him. *winks* I also loved the supporting cast of characters: Maddie, Eve's WONDERFUL friend; Father Francois, the best priest I've ever read about in fiction--he was probably one of my top characters; and Zoe, Eve's younger sister. AND THAT'S JUST THE START. I'm in love with this amazing cast of characters!

- The themes. Family plays a key role in this book. It's clear how much they all love each other, and Eve's devotion to them is really touching. There are also beautiful themes of redemption and forgiveness, as well as conquering the imprisoning power of guilt. GAH. It was all so splendidly done. <3

- The excitement. As I mentioned earlier, Eve is a spy. There are also double-agents, secretive messages, some brilliant spy tactics, and looooots of intrigue. THIS IS MY KIND OF BOOK, PEOPLE. I just loved the mysterious aspect of the plot.

- The writing. Oh my, the writing was lovely. The descriptions were so well-done, and the writing was emotionally raw. And believe me, this is a BIG deal. If I don't have an emotional attachment to the characters, forget it. I'm just not going to properly enjoy the book. Thankfully, High as the Heavens does a marvelous job of pricking my emotions. LIKE CONSTANTLY.

- The flashbacks. They were so heartbreaking yet so exquisitely managed. MY HEART. <3 I love when books have meaningful flashbacks like that! It's a glimpse at the characters before all the heartbreaking stuff happens and IT'S SO WONDERFULLY DONE.

// Not So Lovely Things //

You might be thinking, "So why four stars? It sounds like you love everything about this book."

Wellll, you're mostly correct. Unfortunately, I did have some issues with the book.

- The content. OKAY. I love Eve and Simon's relationship...BUT I felt uncomfortable at times reading about their romance. It was like spying on a married couple, and frankly, that made me feel Very Awkward. There wasn't anything over-the-top, but there were lots of kisses (some described), a bit of teasing between husband and wife (which is totally okay--I just don't feel comfortable with it seeing as I'm not married), and a couple scenes where they sleep together. They also long for each other at times, wishing they could kiss. Again, I know the characters are married, so there isn't anything wrong with their conduct. I just felt uncomfortable reading about it at times. This IS an adult book, so it's not really intended for younger audiences anyway. And thankfully, the stuff I described isn't dwelt on the entire book. The plot isn't bogged down by the romance, so I was able to keep reading it still.

On another note, there was also one chapter in particular that was EXTREMELY HARD to read. SPOILER [There was an attempted rape and lots of violence when the Germans invaded Belgium. That scene was unnerving and very disturbing. There were lots of dead bodies, violence, and even an unintentional murder by one of the characters. (Which they felt guilty about for years after.) On top of that, one character miscarries their child. VERY INTENSE STUFF. I understand a lot of it is necessary to the plot, but I still was horrified by things that happened in that chapter. It's a brutally honest look at the kinds of things that happened in World War I, which many people are unaware of.] END SPOILER

The content aside, I really loved this book! Due to the things I mentioned, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they're at least 16+.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

4 stars!

There you have it! Another book review by yours truly. *winks* Does this book look interesting to you? What are your thoughts on historical fiction?

(P.S. If you haven't already seen it, I did another 10 Truths & 2 Lies post last week! You have until Wednesday, the 26th, to submit your guesses so you better hurry! ^_^)