25 Before 25 Challenge Update {Vlog}

Y’all! I’m FINALLY back into the swing with vlogging. *cue happiness* I’ve been wanting to vlog pretty much every day this last week, but things kept coming up and therefore vlogging wasn’t happening. Then yesterday one of my friends posted a vlog, and I had so much fun watching it that it inspired me to stop dilly-dallying and film my own vlog. (You can watch Allison’s – the aforementioned friend – vlog here. And you should totally subscribe to her blog when you’re at it!)

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By the way, if my bookshelves look a little bare in the vlog, it might be partly because of these thirty-six books that have the very important job of holding up my tripod….

And, without further ado, please click here to watch my latest vlog!

A to Z Challenge – You Pick!

I first heard about the A to Z Challenge five years ago – soon after I started blogging on Blogger. I thought it was a fantastic idea and eagerly awaited the next April so I could join in with the challenge. The last four years I’ve taken part in the challenge, and have had fun doing so.

This year I wanted to give y’all a decision in what theme I choose – or even if I do the challenge at all. (For those of you who don’t know, thousands of bloggers sign up and post each day in April except for Sundays. Each blogger chooses a theme, then writes a post that goes with that theme and starts with a letter of the alphabet.)

Here are the ideas I had for this A to Z Challenge. I’d be very delighted if you would vote on the poll (below). Thanks!

  1. Writing tips – I don’t claim to be an accomplished author, but I have learned some helpful things about writing during the last decade, and it would be fun to compile some of that knowledge into a month-long series
  2. Behind the scenes, brainstorming goofs, and snippets, etc… from the Echoes series.
    With this challenge I’d get to share some of the fun stories of how I’ve come up with characters, plots, etc…. for my current WIP. Plus maybe share some bloopers (such as ideas that were horrible), my Pinterest boards, character interviews, and the list goes on.
  3. Highlighting my favorite books – Because really: Books are amazing. And there are thousands of them out there. And I like to talk about books a lot.
  4. Random challenges. Y’all would submit challenges and I’d add some of my own. I’d put all (or most) of the challenges into a container before the month starts, then randomly pull one out each day and complete it, then blog about it the next day. It would be a fun, plus I’d get to stay on my toes to make sure I accomplished the challenge each day. (Challenge examples: Give one of my books to a random person, Write a short story, Eat only green and red foods for a day, Vlog about when I found out my first book was going to be published, Find a random person to interview for my blog, Etc…)
  5. Spend the day with a character. What reader doesn’t dream of meeting some of the characters they’ve gotten to know? With this challenge I’d imagine an interview, luncheon, etc… with my favorite characters from different books, and then blog about it. I suppose that’s considered fanfic? (I really don’t know, cause I’ve never done anything like this before.)
  6. None – You should skip the challenge this year

The Illusionist’s Apprentice – Book Review

The Illusionist’s Apprentice

By: Kristy Cambron

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • Several Points of View • 368 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

Why I Choose this Book:

Well, it wasn’t from the back cover blurb. 😉 In fact, I just read it for the first time while copying and pasting it for this post. I chose the book solely because of the author – I’ve read her previous books; some of them have been amazing, others have left me scratching my head. I figured this book was worth a shot.

What I Thought about this Book:

It wasn’t what I was expecting. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed the book, but there were some things I wasn’t thrilled with.

The Pros:

  1. The writing was wonderful
  2. The story was intriguing
  3. The characters felt real, they had good character development, and for the most part they remained consistent and “in character.” *This is a big deal to me
  4. No love triangle! No huge misunderstandings to prod the romantic subplot along! No overly romantic scenes! *cue happiness*
  5. Good world building – it really came alive to me
  6. I was sucked into the story and held fast
  7. The historical side of the book was interesting and made me want to research that era more

The Cons:

  1. The subject of debunking mysticism wasn’t what I was expecting (because, obviously, I didn’t read the back cover). It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable with the subject or how it was handled, it was more that I was disappointed that Biblical truth wasn’t brought into it more. I understand that the book probably isn’t considered a “Christian book” and the author obviously has every right to write it whatever way she wants, but it did cut down on the enjoyment of the book for me. (And, also on how fast I’d be to recommend it to others.)
  2. There were a few things near the end of the book that I thought were a slight bit lame – like, they didn’t add anything to the book, and in a way they made it feel slightly cliché.
  3. There were some slight things that I didn’t think needed to be in the book that added to the culture feeling, but not in a way that I can condone.
  4. There was some violence – not very detailed, but still there. Plus some immorality – although that was only vaguely mentioned. (So, it was obvious, but not done in detail at all, nor glorified in any way.)

Conclusion:

Because of how some things were and weren’t dealt with, I’m not exactly recommending the book, but it’s not one that I un-recommend, either. So, I didn’t agree with everything, but I did like the book and learn from it.

Rating: 

I’m giving The Illusionist’s Apprentice 4 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10.

*I received this book from BookLook

The Elusive Miss Ellison – Book Review

The Elusive Miss Ellison 

By: Carolyn Miller

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • Two Points of View • 301 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Pride, prejudice and forgiveness…
Hampton Hall’s new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter–all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend’s daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously, or even darken the door of the church, leave her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother–his brother who stole the most important person in Lavinia’s world.

Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother’s, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn’t supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison’s fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible–he begins to care. But Lavinia’s aloof manner, society’s opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating, until scandal forces them to get along.

Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future? And what will happen when Lavinia learns a family secret that alters everything she’s ever known?

 

Why I Choose this Book:

 

I originally ignored the offer to review this book as it looked too romantic for my tastes. After considering it though, and having it pitched to me with a Jane Austen angle, I reconsidered. Cause, Jane Austen. I very much disliked her work for years, but then was won over by her witty banter. I figured The Elusive Miss Ellison might prove to be the same way.

What I Thought about this Book:

Apparently I kinda forgot what it was like to read a book that’s main plot is romance, and it’s a bit more tedious than I had remembered. I’m all for a light dosage of romance in books, cause that’s realistic. But when it’s the whole plot? Well….

I am happy to say that the author did an okay job of not making the focus of the romance be totally on the outward appearances (although there was more of that than I would have liked). The author did a good job of keeping it fairly safe and non-detailed (for the most part). And, another good point for the author goes to the fact that there was a lot of good, useful Biblical teachings sprinkled throughout the book. They were presented in such a way that it didn’t feel preachy, and yet they gave the book purpose.

Overall I didn’t not like the book. In fact, I enjoyed parts of it, and it did keep me wanting to find out what happened next. Then came the plot twist – and well, the plot twist wasn’t really my cup of tea. It kinda left me shaking my head, and wondering why it had been added.

The character development was pretty good throughout the book. The characters were (for the most part) believable, and I also liked the main characters. The book very much had a Jane Austen feel to it, which was fun.

Conclusion:

So, this isn’t a book that I will probably re-read, nor is it one that I would necessarily recommend, but I don’t not recommend it either. It was a breezy read with some good components.

Rating: 

I’m giving The Elusive Miss Ellison 3 out of 5 stars, and 4 out of 10.

*I received this book from Litfuse

Thicker Than Blood And Other Books I’ve Read in One Day

A couple years ago I had fun regularly joining The Broke and Bookish for their Top Ten Tuesday Linkup. How it works is they give a category or theme (that has to do with books), and then a bunch of bloggers join in and all post about it. Today’s theme is about books that you can’t put down, so you pretty much read them in one sitting. So, without further ado, here’s my list:

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  1. Thicker Than Blood While I didn’t literally read this book in one sitting, it was one of those stories that was really hard for me to put down. I remember wandering through an airport in Colorado late at night, trying to keep my family in sight as I was totally captivated by this series.
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  2. See How They Run This book isn’t what I would consider my normal style. In fact, I very rarely read books that have this type of plot/theme/etc…. Unreliable narrators aren’t what I generally go for. But for some reason Ally Carter’s writing pulls me in and makes it hard for me to put down her books. (Not that I recommend everything in them, but her writing is pretty cool.) 
  3. The Extraverted Writer Not only is this book short and to the point, but it’s written in such a way that it’s a breeze to read through.
  4. Life Creative I’m not a mom, but I am creative, and this book was beautiful all the way around. While reading it I hardly wanted to stop because it was so many different forms of art combined.
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  5. For Keeps Ah, this series took me SO long to get into, like two years to finish the first book. But, then the second book (which is nearly 400 pages long), only took me one day. So, I guess you can say the characters grew on me.
  6. More Than a Hobby I was quite surprised to find this book so intriguing. Who knew retail could be interesting? But yes, I started this book one evening and finished it the next afternoon.
  7. Love Lives Here Delightful! Books like this that are so real make me want to hug the author and thank them for letting thousands (or millions) of strangers become their friends.
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  8. When Grace Sings I really hardly ever read books like this, but thankfully I try it sometimes, because this book obviously was a win.
  9. Finding the Core to Your Story It’s so much fun to find short books about writing that I can read over and over again. This is only 108 pages long, and has been re-read by me multiple times.
  10. Wedded to War The Heroine Behind the Lines series was not a light and fluffy read. In fact, sometimes they made me want to gag. But, they made the Civil War seem so crazily real to me. I’m very impressed by the author.
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And there we have it! 10 books that I’ve read in one day, or at least close to it. What are some books that you’ve read in a day? Have you read any on my list?

A Few of My Favorite Things

Happy Monday, y’all!

If you haven’t been able to tell by the excessive amounts of posts about Echoes, I’ve been very much enjoying working on tweaking, problem solving, brainstorming, and world building. *cue happiness for being an author*

Since today is the first day of Spring (!!!) I decided to take a break from blogging about Echoes, and instead write a posts of favorites. I also figured that might be nice cause Noveltea has had a lot of new followers recently (THANK YOU!), and when I follow a blog I find it quite interesting to hear random things about the blog’s author.

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Random List of Favorites

Favorite Time of the Day: Late at night when everything is quiet and still

Favorite People-ish Activity: Playing board and card games

Favorite Alone Activity: Reading & Writing

Favorite Outside Task: Cutting the Grass

Favorite Inside Task: Cooking (and laundry)

Favorite Scents: Lilacs, Freshly cut grass, A special chest I have in my room with items from the different countries I’ve visited, Freshly baked bread

Favorite Bible Verse: Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Favorite Day of the Week: Sunday (when I’m home and can go to our church)

Favorite Month(s) of the Year: September and October.

Favorite Season: Autumn (^ not that you would have ever guessed….)

Favorite Books that I’ve Read in 2017: Love Lives Here, and Control Girl

Favorite Songs I’ve Listened to Recently: Come, Now is the Time to Worship10,000 Reasons, Narnia Soundtrack, Born for This, The Fast, and Keep Walkin’

Favorite Blog to Read Right Now: Once Upon an Ordinary 

Favorite Countries I’ve Visited: England, The Netherlands, Austria, Indonesia, and Mexico

Favorite States I’ve Visited: Colorado, Hawaii, Tennessee, and North Dakota.

Favorite “Happy” Things: Sparkly Socks, Cotton Candy, Hot air balloons, Swinging (on swing sets), Stuffed animals, White chocolate, Snail Mail, Stickers, Candles, and Pet Skunks

I’d be delighted to hear some of y’alls “favorites” so I can get to know you better, too. 🙂 And, if you have any more “favorites” you’d like me to answer, just leave them in the comments. Have a delightful Monday, y’all!

Kios: The Landscape Idea

When it came to the landscape for Kios, for some reason I had pictured it to be a mixture of Scotland, Ireland, and England. I had Pinterest boards started. I’d described it somewhat. I liked the idea. But I’d thought it through only a minuscule amount.

And the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. I heard some other writers/readers bemoan the fact that so many “fantasy” books took place in European settings – primarily the countries I just named. Upon further reflection I realized they were indeed correct, and I wanted something different for Echoes.

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Since I’m spending so much time on world building and getting the story “correct” anyway, I decided to go ahead and also change up the setting a little bit. While brainstorming about what countryside to base it off of, I made a mental list of the things I knew I needed to include:

  • At least one border is the ocean
  • One border is a huge forest that no one in recorded history has ever been all the way through
  • Pyria, a land that allows slavery, is another border
  • The country’s big industry is fabrics (etc…) and they have tons of sheep

There were a few more a few more things, but I stopped when I came to the sheep part of the equation. I Googled a little bit about where sheep were the most prevalent, but in reality I didn’t need to, I already knew what topography Kios would be based off of: New Zealand.

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Do y’all realize that there’s 22 sheep for every person who lives in New Zealand? How much cooler can you get? Obviously everything won’t be the same. For one thing, New Zealand is an island, whereas Kios is simply a country next to the ocean. For another thing, although there are mountains in Kios, there aren’t as many as there seem to be in New Zealand. But! At least I have a basic idea of what to start with and build off of.

The architectural practices in Kios are also different than in New Zealand (which, once again makes sense because Kios isn’t an island), but I’ll wait to blog about those for another day.

Have a delightful weekend, y’all!