Sunday, July 30, 2017

Andora's Folly BLOG TOUR


  I know, I know. I said I wasn't coming back til the end of August - and that is still true! But today I have briefly broken my blogging hiatus to bring you a review of Andora's Folly by my good friend (Abi)gayle Claire. I had the privilege of being a beta-reader for this book and can honestly say I enjoyed it so much! I am so pumped to help push this book out into the world on it's second day!

andorabanner.png

  I was super pumped to read this story and was not disappointed. The premise was great - a medieval retelling of Pandora's Box - and the execution was excellent. Abi really knows how to spin a tale. I'm here today to share about the story on its release, including a detailed review for you guys to pick through. Of course my aim is to get you to pick up your copy, so get your Kindle ready. ;)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Andora's Folly Cover 7.jpg

Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense—her arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband’s temperament.

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant's wife can save her from her folly.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

authorheadshot.jpg

Abigayle has been a writer ever since her mother taught her how to hold a pencil. However, she devoted more time to reading words with her green eyes than writing them with her left hand. Inspired by a crazy dream at the age of seventeen, she set off on a journey to self-publish her first novel, Martin Hospitality. Since then, Abigayle has devoted herself to sharing what she has learned through the mediums of freelance editing, and her blog theleft-handedytpist.blogspot.com ... when period drama films are not calling more loudly. None of her successes would be possible without the support of her Savior, large family, and online community.

  ALL THE LINKS



MY REVIEW

Now that the formalities are out of the way and I've hooked you with that great synopsis, allow me to get right into my review. As a beta-reader, I got a sneak-preview of this story and count myself super lucky. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and could not hardly stop reading once I got into it. And I usually have a hard time making myself read on the computer! So there, that's saying a lot about this story right off the bat. I even went back to read it at 1 am after ten plus hours of driving the tractor (unfortunately the internet was not working).

BE WARNED: The below contains some spoilers, nothing too major, but if you want to go into the book blind, don't read this next section!

I really enjoyed Andora, the main character. She was spoiled, entitled, and airheaded, but still genuinely likable and I pitied her on more than one occasion. She was definitely thrown for a big curve through the novella and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her as her life was turned around and she was forced to muddle through it. She had a really great character arc and I super appreciate that Abi was able to pull it off, writing about a spoiled and whiny princess-type and managing to make her interesting, likable, and redeemable is no easy task. Abi's character development is definitely spot-on.

The mystery and pacing combined kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading. I supremely enjoyed the revelation of events and the scheming that was going on behind the scenes. Abi did great work with how she paced everything and brought things out into the open in a timely fashion.

Varos was another fav. He was the funny, charming, younger brother who was kind and decent and good all-around. I enjoyed him a lot as a secondary character. His brother, Andora's husband, Theus, was a wholly other matter.

I can't say I liked Theus as a person at all, as a character he was interesting, but he really frustrated me. I suppose we can credit this to Abi's skillful character-building once more, as my strong dislike for him proves that she crafted someone well-rounded. I know that some readers ended up liking him by the book's end, so maybe that will be you? He personally did not grow on me, but that did not detract from the book at all.

I enjoyed the villain a lot as well - even if he was quite a creep! Ah, writing reviews is so hard without spoiling everything and I don't want to do that, so I guess I'll wrap up...

Andora's Folly definitely gets a Five Star Rating in my books and I highly highly recommend it. If you've got some spare change to add to your Kindle library, make this book your next choice! I guarantee you won't be disappointed! :DD

andorameme_sarahgrace.jpg
You must read simply for THIS quote XD

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June Highlights + Hiatus Announcement

  Hey guys! So, June was crazy and the summer ahead will be crazier still. I'm so pumped for it all though - just pray I don't crash and burn!


LIFE EVENTS



  • I've been at camp with the horses so much this month. Since the fifteenth I've been house/horse sitting while the usual horse-minder is off on vacation. It's been really great, though busy and I've hardly been at home except to work with cows (ew). I've had to take care of a horse and his fungal infection which has been lovely. But I've also gotten to ride and fool around, watch a lot of Netflix and just enjoy some alone time. 
Watching Kyrianna splash horses from atop Duke
  • Earlier this month our local homeschool circle had a fun barn dance party for the birthday of one of said circle members, which was pretty fun. Jonathan and I practiced dancing for our wedding which went okay I think. XD
#couplegoals
  • I've had two bridal showers this month - one from friends and one from my church. Both were very nice and now I am swamped with kitchen items (five different sets of measuring spoons) but hey, free stuff! ;) Also people encouraging you and sharing in your excitement, so that's pretty nice.
Bicycling Bridesmaids

People listening to me talking for some reason...
  • I finished my courses for my Creative Writing Certificate this month!! I am so excited that this two year process is now complete. All I need is to get my certificate...
  • I attended my former homeschool association's Homeschooling through High School meeting and had the privilege to speak to the audience of parents and teens about my experience homeschooling in high school along with my writing/publishing venture. That was a great little bit of marketing/sharing. 
  • We went to Heritage Park in Calgary for the day and I hung out with my sister and enjoyed the old-fashioned vistas of the town. 
  • New Imagine Dragons album!!! Also, Jonathan and I have tickets to see them in October, which I am so looking forward to.
  • This last week of June was devoted to my sixth staff training camp which was full of hilarity and great times. One of the highlights was going to see Canada Day fireworks in town on the eve of Canada Day. All 50+ of us got on a school bus, raided an Esso (as pictured) and went to the arena to watch the fireworks go off. We did it last year too and it's become a pretty cool tradition. 
  • While at staff camp, I got baptized! I decided that I wanted to commit fully to God before committing to Jonathan when I get married next month, so that's what I set out to do. It was a little scary getting up there and sharing things I had not shared with hardly anyone else, but really good too. It was a very cool moment. 



WRITING LIFE


  Basically all the writing I did this month was: editing Thin-Skinned to submit for my final school project, and writing a couple thousand words of The Wandering one afternoon while house-sitting because I was bored and thought I should be productive (cause apparently I can't NOT do something anymore). So needless to say, not much excitement in that aspect of my month, but I am totally okay with that. Wedding plans, camp, moving, farming, etc took up my time and now that summer is upon me, I don't expect there will be much more writing happening until September rolls around and the craziness abates - kind of. I mean, I will be just moved out and newly married so that might be kinda crazy too, but hopefully I will have more free time. XD We'll see I guess.

  Of course, another reason I'm not going to be too hard on myself is...I PUBLISHED A BOOK! AND WENT ON A BLOG TOUR! AND HAVE SOLD A BUNCH OF BOOKS! AND IT WAS AWESOME AND I LOVED IT!

  *ahem*

  Anyway, I'm sure y'all have heard enough about The Sorceress and the Squid's release. I certainly don't want to make you sick of it, so I won't blab too much more. XD But for those who managed to slip by without knowing about it, here are some links for you to check out...




READING LIFE


Reading pretty much did not happen this month. I am also okay with that as, again, there was so much else to be done. However, I did have the privilege of beta-reading Abigayle's newest novella: Andora's Folly (a Pandora's Box retelling). It was super cool, very original and it really pulled me in and had me totally engrossed in the characters. Abi is a great writer and I was so happy to finally get my hands on some of her work (I've finally ordered Martin Hospitality now too, so I'm excited to read that sometime this summer - maybe on my honeymoon/vacation/finally-a-break-from-the-crazy).

ANDORA'S FOLLY by Abigayle Claire

5/5 "Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, Andora’s father seizes his chance to settle a score with the lover’s family. His plan rests on one thing: Andora’s folly. 

As Andora begins to fall into her parents' trap for revenge, she has only her new-found wisdom as a peasant's wife to right the chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever."



BLOGGING LIFE


Blogging went really well this month I think! Of course I hosted my own blog tour for TSatS, but I also participated in Kara Swanson's tour for The Girl Who Could See. I posted a list of books you should read for me this summer and the 5 stages of self-publishing. And of course I had my book release post and blog tour wrap-up. I think it was a good month for blogging. I had several cool new interactions and just really enjoyed the experience my whole month. It probably helped that I've now made myself a blogging schedule. :P

Followers: 29 (up from 23, which is super cool)
Pageviews: 8091
Posts: 74

GOALS


Goals for June 


  • Get published! // YES! THIS HAPPENED AND IT'S SO COOL!!
  • Get more bloggers to join my blog tour (as of now, I am very low on numbers so if you would like to join my blog tour, running from the 18-24th, that would be amazing and I will love you forever!) // Legit blown away by how this need was met, I had more than enough people for my week-long tour and I couldn't be more thankful for them all and their willingness to participate. Love you guys!
  • Keep plugging away at Thin-Skinned // I'll call this done. XD I'm putting away the manuscript for a little while but I definitely have a better idea for my future direction with it from my course. 
  • Read 2 books // Didn't read two, but I DID read one so I'm glad of that. 
  • Finish betas/ARC's // Did this one, YAY! #AndorasFolly


Goals for July/August

(I'm combining the summer months for reasons I will list below...)


  • Sell 50 copies of The Sorceress and the Squid // We'll see how this goes, if I can do that, I will have actually MADE money of my book, so that's my hopeful goal. :P
  • Read 2 books // Due to summer camp and wedding stuff, this may or may not happen, however I DO have my honeymoon roadtrip to read, so that might be a good time to catch up...


  And that's it! I'm being generous to myself over this tumultuous summer. XD

  Well, now that I've wrapped up my June, let's look forward a little bit to the coming summer...

  As most of you know, I'm getting married this August (the 19th) and will be working at summer camp all throughout the summer. Between these two things, plus other stuff like moving, birthdays, and other summer events I will have very limited time for blogging (and limited internet access as well). Rather than rushing and trying to stuff things in, I've decided to give myself a two month hiatus to fully enjoy my summer and devote my attention to the really big things in my life. I am so so excited for the next two months and all they will hold - it's going to be truly fantastic. I will still be around, checking up on the blogs I follow, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when I am not at camp, so I won't have fallen off the face of the earth. XD I just won't be posting on here. Don't worry, I will be back early September with tons of cool content including a new book to start on the editing/publishing process. Keep your eye out for that and more things to come this fall! I will also have a giant summer wrap-up to share with you guys some of the cool adventures that July and August have in store.

  So, wish me luck and keep me in your prayers as big things are happening and I'm still a tad nervous (but mostly excited)! 2017 has been such an amazing year so far and I have a feeling it'll only get better. Thank you for your part in making the first half of it so awesome. ^_^

  How was your first month of summer? Are you also blown away by the fact that 2017 is half gone? What plans do you have for the rest of the summer months? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Sorceress and the Squid BLOG TOUR WRAP-UP + GIVEAWAY WINNER





THE SORCERESS AND THE SQUID 


 In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?










  Wow, can't believe it's the end of the week already! This release has flown by and it's been so much fun interacting with people from all over the blogosphere. The response to The Sorceress and the Squid has been incredible and so encouraging! I was honestly a little nervous about all of this whole process - and even a little embarrassed - but it's been so great (because of people like YOU) and I can't wait to do it again.

  If you're interested in checking out all the blog posts from this week (and I encourage you to do so cause they're great), here are the links to all of them below:








  I had a great time with all these guys, they left great reviews, came up with great questions and were overall just lovely people helping to shed some light on my week-old novel! Go over and check them all out because they're awesome.

  At this point, I've gotta say if you haven't decided to pick up my book yet YOU TOTALLY NEED TO. Listen to all these guys tell you so and just DO IT. xD The links to purchase are below, along with the Goodreads link just one more time cause I'm super excited okay


  Now, before I finally finish spamming you and let you get on with your life, I have one last announcement to make. Those who joined my Launch Team or took part in the Blog Tour were entered in a draw for a signed paperback copy of The Sorceress and the Squid, along with a copy of The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis (fantastic book, fantastic author). I did the draw today and have come up with a fabulous winner to share with you all and shout CONGRATULATIONS from the hilltops, ready?

The Fabulous Prize!!


  Drum-roll please....

  The Giveaway winner is....

LISA LONG!!! 

  Lisa was an incredible member of both Launch Team and Blog Tour. She got a digital ARC to read and left me one of the coolest reviews ever and just got me super excited about the whole thing even more than I was already. She was fantastic and I'm so happy to be able to give these books to her as a big "thank-you!"

  But, I do want to take the time now to also thank everyone else, team members or not, for their enthusiasm, interest, and encouragement. Honestly, this was such a smooth and easy process for the most part, and SO SO FUN! You guys are all incredible. Thank you for making my first publishing experience an absolute blast!

  At the end of the month I'll be doing my usual monthly wrap-up with a few announcements for what you can expect over here on the blog in the coming months, be sure to check that out later this week!

  Now I guess I'll just leave you with a commission: GO READ THE SORCERESS AND THE SQUID (and let me know what you think)!! XD

  Happy Summer, everyone and thanks again!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Sorceress and the Squid RELEASE DAY + BLOG TOUR KICKOFF

TODAY IS *THE* DAY, GUYS.

This is it.

My debut novel is debuting into the wide world. Today.

I am so excited I will probably be squealing on and off throughout the day. And throughout the week as we head on this incredibly cool blog tour for my very own book! Ahhh...I'm so, so thrilled guys.

*flails totally unprofessionally*

Let's get this thing started, shall we? First, let's take a look at the book in question.

THE SORCERESS AND THE SQUID, BLOG TOUR KICKOFF



  In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?


  This is my debut novel and I am super excited to get it out into the world. It's beyond thrilling to know that it can be in YOUR hands today, that's so awesome! If you are interested in purchasing my first book, please check out the following links.


  If you perhaps still need some convincing or are wanting to know more about the book before you buy it, do not fret! I am running a blog tour for the next seven days across several different blog pages where I will be reviewed, interviewed, and spotlighted. There may even be an interview with a main character in there somewhere. ;) If you would like to follow along, below is the list of participating blogs for you to check out over the next few days. Please do, all these guys are great and have really helped me out by doing this! While you are at their blogs, have a look at the rest of their site and start a conversation with them, they are truly wonderful people.

  The first stop (aside from here of course) is over at my gorgeous and amazing friend Abi's Wonderful Blog. She was one of the first to read this book and she's leaving me a review over there, so go check it out! Be sure to hang around after you've read as well, as she's got some fantastic books of her own that you should also definitely read. *coughcoughshamelessAndora'sFollyplugcough*


June 18th - RELEASE DAY, Kickoff Post by Emily Mundell // Review/Spotlight by Abigayle Ellison
June 19th - Spotlight by Hanne T
June 20th - Spotlight/Review/Character Interview by Jem Jones
June 21st - Spotlight by Liv Fisher
June 22nd - Interview by Anna
June 23rd - Interview by Lisa
June 24th - Interview by Karyssa Norton // Spotlight/Interview by Marrok MacIntyre
June 25th - Wrap-Up Post by Emily Mundell 


  If you would like the chance to win a free, first edition signed copy of The Sorceress and the Squid, you can enter my Goodreads Giveaway right here. I mean, who doesn't like winning free signed copies? ;)

  Well, I think I've covered everything more or less. I'll be vigorously promoting the book throughout the week as well as sharing the links from the blog tour stops. Be sure to keep checking back for more throughout this exciting week of the release! Also feel free to follow me on Facebook, and Twitter to keep up with it all. 

  Thanks for stopping by, see you at the end of the week! :DD

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The 5 Stages of Self-Publishing

  Since the release date of my debut novel is fast approaching (1 week away!!!) I thought I would sit down and try to collect some of my thoughts regarding the self-publishing process - for your enjoyment. Because I am kind and generous like that.

STAGE #1 - A WHOLE NEW WORLD




  You've finished all your drafts. You've got you manuscript back from the editor and are quickly revising in order to send it for formatting. You're thinking of a release date, your blog tour, your cute instagram posts where you'll hold your very own paperback in your very own hands. Not to mention, the thrill of releasing this masterpiece into the world for everyone to fawn over! The prospect of being a really and truly published author fills your little writer heart with unspeakable joy and happiness.

  But then...

STAGE #2 - THE SUDDEN WEIGHT OF WHAT YOU'VE TAKEN ON



  Comes out and hits you square in the face. And you're down for the count emotionally (maybe also physically if you're weak and pathetic like me). What have you done? You've created a monster that you don't know the first thing about controlling??? There's no one to help you, you're totally alone on an ocean of self-doubt and terror and social media marketing. *cue internal screaming*

STAGE #3 - INTERNAL SCREAMING INTENSIFIES



  Because wait a minute...how does Amazon work? How does Goodreads work? How will you get enough people to sign up for this blog tour? HOW much money did I pay for formatting??? All of this may or may not drive you over the edge of despair, depending on the solidity of your heart and soul. At this point you will be tempted to give up, throw in the towel, telling yourself "I'm just not ready for this, I'll try again when I figure it out more."

  *chuckles* Oh, but you've forgotten something very important, my dear.

  Care to guess?

  ACCOUNTABILITY. *shudders* You put out a release date for this thing and everyone's expecting something grand.

STAGE #4 - HORROR 


This stage may last for a long time or a little while, depending on how easily you are paralyzed by fear and how much you hate public attention basically how much you are like me. When you realize you're holding this ENTIRE thing on your shoulders and people might NOT EVEN LIKE it after you've poured your heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears and terror into it, well, HOW DARE THEY? And HOW DARE YOU EVER ASSUME THEY WOULD. Look at the mess you've made for yourself? All for a bunch of ingrates who won't even appreciate it - they might even hate it. What will happen to your self-esteem then!!?


STAGE #5 - I THINK I'M GONNA BE OKAY




  And then, you finally figure something out. You've got your Amazon page set-up. You get your cover back from the illustrator. People start sharing your book's release around and talking about it. Things start MOVING and the excitement builds and you go...wow.

  And EVEN BETTER than all of that, the day comes when you're holding your very own book in your very own hands and it's the most magical thing you've ever felt or experienced. It's totally surreal, you can't believe it's actually happening to you. From then on out you know, it's all gonna be okay.


(here is my experience with that feeling from this past Monday)



  There you have it, my 5 *personal* Stages of Self-Publishing. Can my fellow indie authors relate to any of this? Or am I the only one who had multiple breakdowns about the process? :P Commiserate with me!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Books You Should Be Reading (for me) This Summer

  Since my summer will be filled with summer camp, parties, planning and weddings, I decided that I should impress upon my dear readers a list of all the books I wish I could be reading this summer and make them do it for me instead. Savvy? Great! Let's get into it.



CARVE THE MARK by Veronica Roth



Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.

I have heard...mixed things about this book? Ms. Roth (who used to run a wonderful blogger blog but now is too famous for that *sighs*) is a favorite of mine (mostly for said blog). Her first book was Divergent and then the following sequels. It seems you either like or hate Divergent, I am not the hugest fan, but I did enjoy the story and I was looking forward to Veronica's sci-fi venture. I bought it like, two months ago but haven't gotten around to actually reading it yet. I keep starting the first couple pages and then putting it down and not touching it for forever. I want to read it though, it sounds super interesting to me? Has anyone else read it yet? What are your thoughts?


THE SHADOW THRONE by Jennifer A. Nielsen 



War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.

His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya's throne? 

This is the final book of a juvenile fantasy trilogy that I read awhile back. It's a very good series, very funny and interesting, and I have the last book up on my shelf and STILL haven't read it. What is wrong with me?? Ugh.


NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman

Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Since getting into Neil Gaiman's books last year, I have had a craving, and since I purchased Neverwhere a couple months back as well and STILL haven't read it, this one is on my list too. Neil Gaiman is so great at the speculative genre, and just at writing in general. I have an increasing desire to read his books.


THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo

This extraordinary historical novel, set in Medieval Paris under the twin towers of its greatest structure and supreme symbol, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, is the haunting drama of Quasimodo, the hunchback; Esmeralda, the gypsy dancer; and Claude Frollo, the priest tortured by the specter of his own damnation. Shaped by a profound sense of tragic irony, it is a work that gives full play to Victor Hugo's brilliant historical imagination and his remarkable powers of description.

I love the Disney movie version of this story, so it stands to reason that I would love the original with its darker and more tragic end. Cause I like that stuff. Cause I'm a writer. Also, I need a good solid classic on this list, and I've been wanting to read this all year and I might as well be sad that I have to put it off ALL SUMMER. Sigh.

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L'Engle


It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

My mom bought me this book literally years ago and I still have not picked it up, even though I'm absolutely sure I will love it. Why have I not? Good question, very good question. I do not have an answer. Hence why it's here, on my Not-Summer TBR. Surely some of you have read this? Am I in desperate need to get this book in my hands? TELL MEEEE

  *ahem*

Anywayyyy, I'm sure you can sense my lack-of-reading-time frustration through this blog post. Please pity me and if you can, read one of these titles and tell me about it. Perhaps invent a way to read books through osmosis? That would be really helpful.

What's on your Summer TBR? Or are you like me and unable to have one? *pouts* Have you read any of these titles? Did you like it? Let me know below!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Girl Who Could See BLOG TOUR


  
  Hello everyone! Today I'm here to introduce Kara Swanson's debut novella - The Girl Who Could See. As part of the book's Launch Team, I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy and am now able to pronounce a review of the story for you all, along with taking part in the blog tour and sharing the book on its way into the world. So exciting!! Let's get started! :D

  First, a bit about the book (and that gorgeous cover image <3)...



All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?
Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that's what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.
Tristan was Fern's childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

  Sounds epic, right?? It is, it is. 

  Now, for a little about the author...


As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seven- teen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

  Now that introductions are out of the way, allow me to get to my review.


  I signed up for Kara's Launch Team after seeing a post about it on Facebook. First off, I am not being influenced by Kara in this review, these are my own words and thoughts. I was given a copy in order to bring an advanced review, which is what I shall now do.

  Initially, it was the book's cover that caught my attention. I know, I know, never judge a book by it's cover - but it was so beautiful!!! *ahem* In any case, I clicked on the Launch Team link and read up on the story and the premise absolutely caught my attention. A girl who could see things no one else could, written off as crazy with an imaginary friend she can't shake? Sounds pretty interesting to me.

  So I got my copy and dove in and soaked up the world. Kara set a great pace and introduced us to a very intriguing main character. I like how we were given a sense of her struggle with the very realistic "visions" she was having that everyone else had convinced her to believe was her mind playing tricks. Fern Johnson was likable for me from the start because of the difference that set her apart and how she was warring with herself over it. Tristan, her imaginary warrior friend from another dimension, was probably my favorite character though. I must say, his and Fern's relationship was super adorable. *He calls her "Plant-Girl" and it's the sweetest thing ever* *dies*

  The action really picked up fast, with a disease from Tristan's world poised to seep into Fern's own. The beginning struggle was her accepting belief in him, which I really enjoyed. I liked her hesitance, her desire to cling to what she had been told was real, yet the deeper knowledge that she wasn't crazy, that she was more right than they knew.

  I can't go into much more detail without giving away spoilers (which I don't want to do - you need to go read the book for yourself of course), so I'll wrap up with my one complaint: I wish there was more material to fill it to novel-length.

  While Kara paces her story very well, revealing crucial plot points and twists in a timely manner, I definitely feel that the story needed more space, more space to grow and expand the world. Granted, Kara did a wonderful job making me fall in love with her characters in such a short span of time - which is very impressive.

  Now all I need to do is come up with a ship name for Fern and Tristan...Tern? Ferstan? Hmm...

  Macintosh HD:Users:KaraSwanson:Documents:WRITING:THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE:MEMES/GRAPHICS:exceptional quote--Tabitha.jpg

  Now, the amazing Kara has planned a really cool scavenger hunt blog tour for you all. And I am the second stop for said blog tour, the first being over here. 

  Here is a clue for your collection from the week! :DD


  Keep on hunting onto the next blog! Here is a handy-dandy list of blog tour stops for you to preview on your quest to collect all the clues...



  And, finally, here are ALLLLL the links. Pay special attention to the "buy link", it's the best one, trust me. ;)

BUY LINK

GOODREADS LINK

KARA’S SOCIAL MEDIA:
Find Kara online at karaswanson.com
Facebook: Kara Swanson, Author
Twitter: @kara_author
Instagram: @karaswanson_author

  That about wraps things up for me. Thank you so much for swinging by this stop on the blog tour - Kara is an amazingly talented young writer and she deserves your full support! Get behind her and her book, it is well, well worth it.

  Congratulations on your release, Kara! Onto the next stop...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Highlights

  Honestly, I'm having trouble realizing that today is the last day of May?? What even. That's five whole months of 2017 gone just like that...wowza.

  May has definitely gone by the fastest of all the months this year, and it's only just starting to dip into that crazy time of year where life goes into hyper-drive. Am I falling behind? Yes. Am I still going at top-speed anyway? Also yes. Am I probably going to crash and burn by fall? Heck yes. But not before. I am determined in this.



  LIFE EVENTS

  • The biggest and most exciting event of May was our trip out to the West Coast to see Quadra Island's Camp Homewood. I went with my fiance and his family (us four girls being the only ones who went to the camp) and really had a blast. I had never been to that side of the country before, so it was a super cool experience. I posted about it here.
Camp Homewood dock on Quadra Island, BC.
  • Australian horse jedi, Warwick Schiller, came and gave a clinic at my riding stable and that was special to watch. I learned so many new concepts about horses in just a couple hours of watching and listening to him. 
  • My family and some fellow homeschooling friends attended the March for Life rally in Edmonton, AB. I have never been to a rally, it was a neat experience. A few people seemed pretty upset with our march, but overall our walk was met mostly with people's cell phone cameras. 
Our "March Team" selfie
  • Since Kyrianna has been out of commission in terms of horses, I haven't been at the barn as much lately. So little jumping to show. However, I have done a lot of horsework at camp, including working with the sketchy new horse, Baxter. I decided I was going to make him quiet and safe to mount. Our first session took 30 minutes of me standing beside him/half-mounting him til he stood still for me to get completely on. Then it went down to 20. Last Saturday it was a solid 5 minutes. I am so proud of him, and myself, for accomplishing even that small thing. The main difference I am finding in him is that he is so much more relaxed and happy-looking, which is great to see from him as he is usually nervous and grumpy. I have also been working with Gus, Flash and Job who all have their own little issues to solve (though they are not so needy as Baxter).
  • My cousin Abby graduated high school! It was my second time only attending a public school grad and it was very, very long. She had 400+ students graduating with her and the ceremony was very boring but I thoroughly enjoyed the pre-ceremony photography that I had the privilege to do with her. :D
Abby is so pretty and Alberta got SO GREEN just overnight. Love it!
  • I threw a bit of a get-together for a camp staff friend of mine, Chance. Us girls ended up having quite a few pictures taken throughout the day. Please keep Chance in your prayers as she is going in for a brain surgery today because of a tumor behind her eye. Any and all prayer for her and her family/boyfriend, Josh, would be welcomed whole-heartedly.
Chance is pictured on the far right. Please pray for her!
  • I've found myself drawn to the lake quite a bit this year even though it's only May and in Canada the water is usually still cold. Trust me, it is still cold. 
But not too cold for pictures of handsome fiances
  • Seeding. Ugh. Spring is unfortunately the bearer of bad news for me when it comes to farming. The work triples and gets so long and hot and miserable. I just finished a 14 hour day as I type this and believe me, I am NOT looking forward to returning to the drudgery tomorrow. 
  • BABY ANIMALS. I think we're finally pretty much done calving, but we've also had some new kittens and that's pretty great. 


WRITING LIFE


  In terms of strictly writing, this month hasn't been the greatest. I did not meet my goal of finishing up to chapter 20 in The Wandering, but I am okay with that. I have decided to save it for fall/winter and finish all of Part One before 2018. I have been steadily chipping away at Thin-Skinned (if only because it's my final project for school) and am starting chapter seven soon. It's been an interesting book to work on, but I'm slightly distracted from the process by the millions of other things that need doing. :P

  But, the most exciting writing news of the month is THE SORCERESS AND THE SQUID IS BEING PUBLISHED!!!

  I'm sure you've heard me go on and on about this, but honestly, I'm just absolutely thrilled and excited and astonished that this is actually happening!! I've got a Launch Team and Blog Tour planned and both an ebook and paperback version coming out. I just sent for my proof copy yesterday and I can't wait to receive it! To hold an actual book of mine completed, in my hands. This month I had a cover reveal as well as got the formatting finished so it's basically ready to go. Just waiting on release day... (June 18th)

Here is the cover again, in case I haven't shoved it in your face enough. XP


READING LIFE


I did myself proud and read 6 books this month (my biggest haul in forever). And they were all really, really great.

 TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbit

I read this on the way to Abby's grad in about an hour. I had been meaning to read it for awhile and wish I had sooner. It was a great story, short and obviously written for a younger demographic, yet one that totally resonates with you when you're older as well. Honestly, it got me thinking so much and made me really feel for the main characters. It was a very good book. 4.5/5
 LILITH by George MacDonald

It's easy to see where CS Lewis drew much of his inspiration, calling George MacDonald a mentor to him. This book was amazing. Very psychedelic and a little hard to get into and understand at first, but it definitely drew me in despite that. I have a thing for strange new worlds in which an unsuspecting character is dumped. I especially like it when you get a ton of very deep and interesting philosophical thoughts dumped in your lap at the same time. Read it. 5/5
 NO SUCH THING AS DRAGONS by Philip Reeve

This was a quick book, probably for the 12-13 age range, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, chronicling the experience of a mute boy as he follows a dragon-slaying knight who doesn't believe dragons exist...or do they?
Short but sweet. 3.5/5
 THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Since I watched the show I felt it was only right to read the book. I was quite surprised. I discovered that the show, while not taking away or changing things from the book, really really added onto the book with the secondary characters and their own struggles. While this adds a lot of depth to the show, I am glad the book focuses only on Clay and Hannah - specifically Clay. The book is about him learning to reach out to those in need, and the message is brought home beautifully. I read it in one sitting. Definitely recommend. 4/5

THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE by Kara Swanson

I got to be part of the Launch Team for this yet-to-be-released book (coming out tomorrow!) and am so glad I did! Kara painted a beautiful story with a really interesting plot and characters to go with it. I fell in love with them and got very wrapped up in the story as a whole. Much praise for Kara and her book (especially that beautiful cover, wow!) My only complaint is that I wish it was longer, so as to experience more of the world and flesh it out. 4/5


THE TIME MACHINE by HG Wells

I've never read any HG Wells, so this was a new experience. I wasn't sure what to expect from a 19th century man travelling into the future - I was quite surprised by the results. It was very well-crafted and interesting and presented some very unique ideas, which I appreciate. 4/5






BLOGGING LIFE


  Even my blogging went pretty well this month I'd say...

  I posted about my #WestCoast2017 trip, the big reveal of The Sorceress and the Squid's impending publishing and got tagged by Andrea for The Writer's Tag. I had to miss a week due to my trip, but on the whole I've kept up my weekly blogging well. Quite a few cool things coming in the future...

  Blogging stats:


  • Followers: 23 (up from 17, wow! Thank you guys so much!!)
  • Pageviews: 6,797
  • Posts: 67


GOALS


Goals for May
  • One more chapter in The Wandering (I *think* this is a realistic goal). // It *was* realistic but, as I am wont to do, I changed my mind about it due to time constraints. Saving it for fall when I have ALL the time (jk, lol). 
  • Get The Sorceress and the Squid ready to send for formatting and prep for release (more info on this stuff COMING SOON). // Definitely did this and am well on my way to publishing! *squeals*
  • Definitely get as much done in Thin-Skinned as I can since I have to have a certain amount of pages finished for the end of my course next month. // I guess one chapter counts as "as much as I can?"
  • Read 2 books // I went above and beyond that one for sure. Yesss. 
Goals for June 

  • Get published! 
  • Get more bloggers to join my blog tour (as of now, I am very low on numbers so if you would like to join my blog tour, running from the 18-24th, that would be amazing and I will love you forever!)
  • Keep plugging away at Thin-Skinned
  • Read 2 books
  • Finish betas/ARC's 
Probably should stop there since I have a billion non-writing-related things to do as well. :P 

  
  Well, thanks for joining me on another monthly highlight reel. This month was pretty cool and so many things happened and there's so much going on. I'm feeling both overwhelmed and elated (jumping from both back and forth). This is going to be an awesome summer, I think. 

  How was your May? Are you wrapping up school now? Are you graduating? Do you have any cool summer vacations planned? Let me know!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Writer's Tag

Today I am answering Andrea's tagging call! Are you utterly thrilled to hear about my writing life? No? Well, stick around anyway and I'll give you a cute picture of my ponies at the bottom, kay?



1. What genres, styles and topics do you write about?


I am first and foremost a fantasy writer. I have a large an ongoing fantasy series in the works and have written other, shorter fantasy pieces. It is my favorite genre as I feel there is so much you can capture in it. And building new worlds is one of my favorite things to do. However, I love to write in many genres: contemporary, dystopian, sci-fi, thriller, etc. 

2. How long have you been writing?


I wrote my first "book" when I was eight years old (so eleven years ago). I've been pretty consistently writing things since then, but the last few years is when I've really been getting things accomplished and writing things that I believe were worth finishing. 

3. Why do you write?


I'd like to quote Joss Whedon for this answer: 

"I write to give myself strength, I write to be the characters I am not, I write to explore all of the things I am afraid of."

4. When is the best time to write?


Definitely in the morning for me. Definitely. By the time afternoon rolls around I get busy with other things, and in the evening I like to just relax. So the morning is my best work space for sure. I used to write an hour in the morning every day, back when I didn't have a life and was more disciplined. XD

5. What parts of writing do you love and hate?


Something I love about writing is the creativity and crafting of new things and new places and new situations. I love that I can learn to understand people better because of how I seek to portray people legitimately. I love that writing is something I can do well.

Some things I don't like are the discipline it takes, the time it takes to make something really polished and worthwhile, and the fact that it's a hard field to break in to well. 

6. How do you overcome writer's block?


I don't believe in writer's block. If I sit down and don't write it's because I chose not to, not because I couldn't do it. I am bad for procrastinating and/or getting distracted by the Internet, so I totally blame "writer's block" on my own laziness and inability to apply myself. 

7. Are you working on something at the moment?


I'm always working on something. XD Right now I have a final project for school, a dystopian novel I'm writing called Thin-Skinned. I am also occasionally working on the second book in my fantasy series, The Wandering and working on marketing The Sorceress and the Squid. So yes, a lot of projects on the go, granted I haven't touched The Wandering for quite awhile now, which is probably better at this stage. :P

8. What are your writing goals this year?


Get published! I really want to get The Sorceress and the Squid published in June and that will be my main goal achieved! After that, when the craziness of summer and wedding and camp dies down, I hope to edit my messy first draft called Faithless and eventually get it beta-ready and then during this fall/winter, finish part one of The Wandering. I feel like that's not too terribly ambitious of me? Maybe???

Here are three people I want to hear answers from:


Abigayle Ellison

Jonathan Trout

Hannah Rodriguez

(totally do it guys!!)

As promised, a totally cute picture of my ponies...


  Well, that's all I got for today, guys! Thanks for checking out the post, and thank you for the tag, Andrea. It was a lovely tagging game of self-discovery.

  Keep in mind that applications for The Sorceress and the Squid are still open and available. I'm in desperate need of bloggers for my blog tour from June 18-24th. If I don't get enough for a full week I'll cut it down, but that's my goal, please please help if you can! Thank you!

Blog Tour Application: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ktHoiZEK7l7Shy6_KN5FgzPbShrZUqd07PbPJjF_4VE/edit

Launch Team Application: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17C2X_sZCqOFdf4JFkagJOjmiB-g1FIMzxqZgqsGAiVk/edit?usp=drive_web