Three four-sentence book reviews

Hey, everyone! I’ve been reading quite a few books this year. I might have mentioned that I used to keep a book review blog, which I unfortunately had to delete due to college getting in the way of things. Now that I have this website (and it’s almost been a year, can you believe that?), I’d like to get back into reviewing. Back on the old blog, I’d go into lengthy analyses and discuss different character traits and plot lines. Those kinds of posts, while fun to write, were awfully time-consuming, so for brevity’s sake and to give myself a bit of a challenge, I’m going to limit these reviews to four sentences. If ya’ll like them, I might try to do this regularly. All of that said, let’s get to it.

1.Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill.

Britta Flannery, a bounty hunter’s daughter, decides to hunt her father’s killer, who could be her best friend and secret crush, Cohen McKay. Set in the soon-to-be warring worlds of Malam and Shaerdan, the world is richly described and interestingly detailed. It’s a tad slow at the start since there is so much information to absorb as the story goes along, but the ensuing action and tremendous character development make it definitely worth the wait. I’m already eager for the sequel and kudos to the people who made this glorious cover.

ever the hunted

The book looks so much better in person. The picture doesn’t capture the intricacies of the embossing. It’s a beautiful book. Photo credited to Goodreads. 

2. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

Described by the author as a story that started out as “50 Shades of Labyrinth” (see the full story here), this novel follows the story of Liesl who journeys to the kingdom Underground when her sister Kathe is taken by goblins, where she is determined to save her from the Goblin King himself. Though I enjoyed this book, there really isn’t too much plot to it (but the descriptions of both the landscapes and the music are just awesome). It mainly focuses on the relationships between the characters, chiefly between Liesl and the Goblin King, but also between Liesl and Kathe, and the relationships between the girls and their family. It’s not the type of book I normally read (I’m not really a romance story kind of girl), but I totally enjoyed it all the same.

3. NewsPrints by Ru Xu.

This is a graphic novel that focuses on a character named Blue who has to disguise herself as a boy so she can work at the town’s newspaper. In doing this, she encounters all sorts of interesting people and finds herself in a bunch of different situations, all the while fighting to keep her true identity a secret. The art style of this graphic novel is so, so endearing and lovely, especially with how Ms. Xu uses lighting. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss (because of plot twists I don’t want to spoil) and one I can’t wait to see more of.

That’s all for today! Let me know what you think of these books and this reviewing style in the comments. Bye for now!

Image result for NewsPrints ru xu

I think this is one of the work-in-progress stills. Still so awesome! Photo credited to Ms. Xu’s tumblr.

Thoughts on finishing a first draft

Guys. IT’S DONE! The first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last June is done, as of 10:19 p.m last night. Huzzah!

Image result for gandalf dancing gif

Courtesy of Tumblr.

I can’t believe it’s done but at the same time, I’m so glad it is. I feel slightly less relieved than when I turned in my thesis, which was when I felt the most relieved I’ve ever been about finishing anything. At the same time, I miss it already and I feel like, with a lot of work ahead, it could be something good.

This isn’t the first first draft I finished. I finished the 188 page mess of a first draft of a different novel on New Year’s Eve in 2009. This one is 275 pages and is still a mess, but so much less so, it seems. Maybe it’s because I let myself work on the scenes I wanted to work when I wanted to work on them. Perhaps it’s because I’m not 15 any more, as I was when I finished my first initial draft of that other story. I know so much more about writing and about myself and maybe that’s what has made all the difference between that first story, which was so difficult to write, and this one, which was much easier to handle.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense. My brain is still so addled from finishing it. But I just wanted you to know that the first draft is done and you’ll no doubt be hearing more about it as I revise and eventually send it out into the world. But first, it’s time for a break to pursue some other projects.

That’s all for today, loves.

 

My friend, St. Patrick

Hello, everyone! I’ve been trying to think of a way to blog about the past few weeks. Nothing’s been wrong, but there’s been a lot going on. A funeral. A wedding. My first event as a photographer. A fitting for a bridesmaid dress. A lot of work and a lot of editing. Working on the first draft that is a few pages away from being done (I think.) But since I can’t  seem to find the words to adequately express my thoughts on all of this, I thought I’d talk about St. Patrick instead, since it is, after all, his feast day.

Image result for st patrick

A beautiful icon of St. Patrick. Photo courtesy of stpatswichita.org

St. Patrick is one of my favorite saints. You can read more about his life here since I do a terrible job of trying to sum up people’s lives in a few sentences. I think the quality I most admire in him, aside from his unyielding faith, is the fact that he was able to keep going despite the hardships. He grew closer to God after he’d been captured by the raiders, joyfully returned home after daring the perils of escape, and was brave enough to return to Ireland when asked in a dream. He was able to roll with the punches and keep trusting God and doing his work. Though we’ll never know what private struggles Patrick had, the fact that he was able to keep going and to keep spreading the faith is just amazing. The results of his ministry can still be seen in Ireland today and will be around for some years to come, God willing. Patrick’s persistence and zeal are incredibly inspiring, especially to someone like me, who has a tendency to struggle to keep being faithful when things get rough. And it has been a struggle, for quite some time now.

St. Patrick is someone I think everyone, whatever they believe, can be inspired by. I pray that this great saint blesses the world with his faithful persistence. I’ll be back soon. God bless you.

P.S. Below is one of my favorite songs from the wonderful Irish duo, Makem and Clancy.

P.S.S. I had another story come out last week. You can read it here. This one was my senior English thesis for college so I’m incredibly proud that it has found a literary home. Please read it and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never too much reassurance

It’s okay

don’t listen

when they say

you have to have it all figured out

because the journey

doesn’t end

when it’s yours to win.

That’s when it all begins.

 

Hey, lovelies. I just wanted to put up a little poem I wrote a few weeks ago. I hope everything’s going well for you. I have a crazy couple of weeks ahead of me but I’ll be blogging a little more once things are done. Hang in there, everyone.

Something I saved and forgot about but needed

Hi, everyone. I was randomly looking through my bookmarks on my computer and I found something I stashed away and forgot about. But sometimes the things we find randomly are the things we need the most and that is definitely the case with this article. It’s called “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life.” You can read it here.

This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with, especially lately. I hope it helps you, along with this song from a new musical entitled “Dear Evan Hansen.” It’s about an anxious teen trying to deal with the social pressures of high school and the lyrics are tremendously and scary accurately written. Check out the other songs from this musical, they’re great.

 

We’ll be alright, guys. We can do it.

Briefly

There was the smallest lull at work today when I had to go watch the reference desk for a few minutes. I grabbed a scrap piece of paper and wrote some tiny poems. I don’t post many photos, but I thought I’d snap a picture. It doesn’t take long to inject meaning into a few minutes simply by writing a some words. This was taken on my long-suffering lap desk. Keep going, everyone.

img_20170204_2101404_rewind

Please forgive my crazy handwriting.

A wee little story

Ahoy, everyone. Today’s post is just a tiny one to tell you that I’ve got a new story out! The marvelous folks at 101 Words published one of my stories and you can read it here. Theirs is a fantastic website full of amazing, bite-sized stories. A huge thank you to them for publishing a story about a struggle of mine.

Do let me know what you think about it! I will see ya’ll soon!

7 things I’ve learned so far in 2017

Hello and an incredibly belated Happy New Year to everyone. I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but if you’ve been following this blog for more than a little while, you’ve probably noticed that blogging is the first thing that gets thrown to the wayside when life gets crazy. I’m going to work on that, I promise. To bring everyone up to speed with what’s been going on in my life, here’s a list of 17 things I’ve learned so far in 2017.

  1. I really need to fix my sleep schedule.
    It’s kinda ridiculous how much this needs to happen and how long I’ve been putting it off.
  2. Being immersed in a writing project is one of the most amazing, forgiving things.
    I’m heading toward the finish line with my current manuscript. It’s been an exciting, difficult, but totally rewarding process and I’m eager to keep working on it and make it better.
  3. While I consider myself a good writer, I know I’ll never write anything as remotely cool as Hamilton.
    I finally finished listening to the whole soundtrack on Monday. I cried three times. Favorite songs right now are “Wait for it”, “Dear Theodosia”, and “History has its eyes on you.”
  4. In a time of quick action and loud protests, contemplative silence and calm listening can be subversive but necessary acts.
    I’m not going to say too much about this, but let’s just say I’m an American who doesn’t like joining in on flame wars on social media. That should tell you all you need to know. More importantly, listening and observing what’s going on can be just as crucial as reacting to current events, when direct action is not mandatory, of course.
  5.  Watching a dog learn to play with toys is fun.
    We bought Pongo a tug of war toy when we first got him. He’s shown no interest in it until now since I took it into my head to try to channel his biting habit into something that doesn’t end up with me covered in dog slime. It’s worked really well and he’s becoming really protective of it. It’s adorable.

6.Manga is amazing both as an art form and a method of storytelling.
I started reading Library Wars when I saw it on the “To be shelved” cart at work and I picked up the first three volumes and immediately loved them. It’s a story set in an alternate future in which censorship has become the norm under law except for libraries and the librarians who staff them. The fight for censorship has become so vehement that a library defense force was created, an organization that Iku Kasahara has wanted to join since she encountered one of the defense agents in high school. Though she’s much too opinionated and clumsy to be totally suited to military life,  her passion and verve see her through. It’s a funny, upbeat, and surprisingly deep series that makes me smile no matter what. Definitely check it out!

Image result for library wars

Photo credited to amazon.com.

7.Time doesn’t owe us anything.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Toward the new year, it seemed like everyone was so ready for 2016 to end. And I can understand why. It was a tough year on a number of levels. But for all the bad that happened, there was good that happened, as well. Despite all the bad things, now more than ever, we need to recognize good things when we see them because they are the things worth fighting for. Also, time doesn’t owe us anything, as I said earlier. The only thing time owes to humanity is to keep going. It’s the ultimate soldier, it just keeps marching on. And if it stops, that’s it, for Time and for us.

What have you learned this year so far? Feel free to let me know in the comments. As previously mentioned, I’m really into my current project right now (for more details, read this). I will try to maintain a somewhat normal cycle of blogging, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me, lovely people.

2016 Reading round-up

Hello, everyone! So it’s almost 2017 and like many, I am reflecting on this year and all it has had in store for me. More specifically, I’ve been reflecting on the reading I’ve done this year. It’s been a bit uneven. I began this year reading more canonical, more academic, and theological works for the first few months of the year. I barely read for fun, yet a few days after I returned home after graduating from college, I began binge reading novels to my heart’s content. Then, toward the end of the summer, I didn’t really want to read much of anything, though I continued to read now and then. Regardless of its ups and downs, 2016 was a pretty good reading year all around. I managed to read a tidy total of 25 books. I thought I’d share my thoughts about some of those books in a question and answer format. Let’s get to it.

1.Which of the books you read this year was the biggest disappointment?

This one is fairly easy. It’s And I Darken by Kiersten White. I read this a little over a month after it came out and while I initially enjoyed it since the story started off really well, it quickly grew slower in terms of pace. It’s basically a gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler story. The characters were incredibly complex and interesting and were the only reason I made myself push through my reluctant reading feelings and finish the book. Maybe it’s because I don’t know that much about Vlad the Impaler, I don’t know. It had some wonderful elements and could have been a truly fantastic book if it was paced a little bit better. Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, it was still an okay read.

2. Most unusual book you read this year?

That would have to be To Stay Alive by Skila Brown. It’s a novel written in verse about the Donner Party’s tragic journey west in 1846. Let me just reiterate that. It’s a novel written in verse. About the Donner Party. I just finished this novel today and while I’m fairly sure it’ll be the last one I finish this year, I will definitely be thinking about it well into 2017. It tells the story of Mary Ann Graves, who’s 17 when her family sets out to settle in California. I can’t really say more than that without spoiling anything. It’s a gut-wrenching, gripping read where the land they traverse becomes a character in and of itself that challenges them and pushes to their limits.

Image result for to stay alive skila brown

Courtesy of skilabrown.com

3. Which book was the biggest surprise?

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. I’ve never read anything by Kendare Blake before, but I heard quite a bit about this book when it came out in September and I loved the cover when I first saw it on the book shelf at the library where I work. It’s a story about three sisters who are all princesses of a diverse island and they will have to battle each other in order to see which of them will be crowned queen. This story was surprising in that while it wasn’t well-written, I couldn’t put it down. The characters didn’t change much and some of the characters were completely unnecessary. The setting descriptions were pretty good but nothing too special. What really had me turning the pages was the premise of this story. It’s incredibly rare that a book’s premise will keep me invested in a story, yet it was that yearning to know who would eventually become queen that kept me reading. And of course the book ended on a total cliffhanger. I’m fairly sure it’s going to be a trilogy, so hopefully the books will only keep getting better as the story progresses.

4. Which book are you likely to reread next year?

I read so many books this year that I might be tempted to pick up again in 2017, but the one that tops that list is A Torch Against the Night  by Sabaa Tahir. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked forward to a book release more than this one. That’s a lie, the seventh Harry Potter book probably has this beat. This book is a follow-up to the smash hit An Ember in the Ashes  that came out in 2015 and takes up Laia and Elias’s story as they flee Blackliff and head north to rescue Laia’s brother from Kauf prison. I read this story in three days, breezing through it because I just HAD to know if they made it in and out of Kauf alive. In reading it so quickly, I feel that I missed quite a bit of the nuances that the story has to offer. I’m already wanting to reread this, but I should probably finish some of the books I’m currently reading.

5. Top three books you read this year?

It was hard to whittle it down to these three but here we go.

3.Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. This is an adorable graphic novel about a teen artist who moves from Virginia to New York City with her family and has to undergo the highs and lows of a new school and finding new friends. The art in this graphic novel is amazing and the artistic struggles that Paige undergoes are incredibly real and not romanticized in any way. Even if you’re not a fan of graphic novels, check this one out. You won’t be sorry you did.

2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This was my first Gaiman novel that I’ve ever read (I’ve read a few of his short stories and am amazed that you can be that awesome within the confines of a short story). I tried reading this last year and got about 30 pages into it and decided to return it to the library. I picked it up again early on in the summer, began reading, and couldn’t stop until the last page was turned. This is the story of a man who returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral and, as he wanders down to a house at the end of the lane, starts to recall what happened there when he was little. A truly fantastical tale, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one book you definitely should read. I’m only sad that it took me so long to do so.

1. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. This book wrecked my heart in every way. It’s the story of four teenagers who find themselves aboard the doomed ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Everything in this book is so well done. The characters, the pacing, the descriptions, and the historical detail all make this a stunning story that will break your heart, only to glue it back together to make it bigger. There are two things that I found especially chilling and important about this book. The first is that it’s about refugees. The narrative of the refugee is incredibly necessary right now because of the millions of refugees that are crying out for help right now. The second is, astonishingly, the character Alfred. He truly is an amazing character in how bad he is and how strange he is. And while his perspective is difficult to read, it’s important to not only consider the stories of those who rebelled against the Nazi mentality but the stories of those who went along with it or embraced it. Sepetys tackles this subtly and through Alfred, explores not only the sick and twisted Nazi mentality, but how sick and twisted people could become by adopting that mentality. It’s just a truly fantastic work and completely deserves the Goodreads award it won. Please read it.

Image result for salt to the sea

Photo credited to goodreads.com. 

So that’s the best of my 2016 reading. What were your favorite books of 2016? Do let me know in the comments and if you’d like a recommendation, please don’t hesitate to ask. I will write again soon! Bye for now!