Book Reviews

Book Review ~ Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Somehow, I never reviewed Cinder. No idea how THAT happened. So without further to-do, here is the review of the second book in The Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet. I really don’t know how it took me so long to actually read these books. I saw Cinder on Amazon often enough, but the cover sort of scared me out of reading it. Never judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes. It was Nadine speaking about it at the OYAN Winter Workshop that finally caused me to decide to bite the bullet and purchase a copy. Hats off to you Nadine. Thank you. 😊

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From the back of the book:

Cinder is back and trying to break out of prison―even though she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive if she does―in this second installment from Marissa Meyer.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother, or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana.

Quick Summary: The Lunar chronicles is Sci-fi, but earthy. Everything (so far) takes place on the Earth or Moon. And unlike Star Wars there are no galactic empires/weird planet names/alien planets to remember. Everything is down to earth (no pun intended!) and real. Marissa puts interesting twists on the fairy tales that are so familiar to us, but we can still see the original among her world—which is pretty cool.

Characters 5/5 ~ We see quite a few new characters, including Throne, Scarlet and Wolf. I loved how the new characters became interacted with the old (this is always super cool) While I liked getting to know and follow Scarlet, Cinder is by far my favorite. Even the most minor of characters feels like they belong, and are not flat. And even with their little page time, you feel like you know them, that’s how well they are written.

Plot 5/5 ~ Amazing plot structure, though it did feel a little slow towards the middle of the book, then picked up about the last hundred pages.  Marissa did a good job of tying things together with what we learned in Cinder. The amount of world building that went into this series is amazing. I can’t imagine how much thought and care went into it.

Writing/Dialogue ~ Oh, goodness. There is no good way to express Marissa Meyer’s writing. It’s so good. You will have to read it yourself. Don’t let the cover scare you. As for dialogue, Carswell Thorne’s humor and Cinder’s sarcasm add some much-needed comic relief to a tense time.

Bad Language: ~ None

Inappropriate Content: ~ There are some descriptive scenes involving wolves that might be uncomfortable for some people to read.

Overall rating: 5/5 

 

Have any of y’all read Scarlet? What did you think?

 

Writing

When You Feel Discouraged.

Several years ago, when I had braces, I would see my orthodontist four or five times a year. Dr. T knew that I liked to write, and he would always ask me how it was going. He would always excitedly tell his nurses that I would be the next J.R.R. Tolkien.

Hold it.

Hold it.

Rein those horses back in.

That’s a little much.

Don’t get me wrong, part of me liked his praise, but the other part cowered in fear, because I didn’t think I could ever be that good.

So the beast that is discouragement took hold, and anything I wrote seemed awful to my eyes.

If Dr. T thought I would be the next J.R.R. Tolkien, he was sadly mistaken.

I think all of us as writers have discouragement at one time or another. It can be hard when family asks, “so how’s the writing coming along?”

Um. It isn’t coming at all.

We’ve all been there, when writing doesn’t seem worth it. When we want to throw everything away and never pick up a pen again. Because how can anything we have to say be worth hearing, with all the voices clamoring for attention?

One thing I’ve tried to tell myself (I don’t always, I am human) when that question of doom is asked is this:

It’s okay.

Yes, you read that right. It’s okay.

Tell your family where you are in your writing (if you aren’t an introvert like me and dread telling your family how you’re killing off your characters because it’s better than having to deal with them).

God has a plan for my writing (and yours!) that is greater than what Dr. T can imagine.

When his words from so long ago ring in my ears, I take it as a challenge. I can do great things; Dr. T. thinks I can, too. And you know what? I can do those great things with Christ, who lives in me.

Here are some verses that help me when I feel discouraged. I hope you can find encouragement from them too.

 

1 Peter 5:7 ESV Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Proverbs 13:12 ESV Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.

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So how about you? What do you do when you feel discouraged? I would love to hear from you.

 

OYAN, ~ Wordcount Wednesday ~

Wordcount Wednesday

Hey friends. What’s up in your neck of the woods? My blog now has a Facebook page, which you can find here if you are interested.

I started taking Mr. Schwabauer’s curriculum, Other Worlds, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been sitting in my desk drawer for a year, and it’s high time I started it. I am also really excited for his new curriculum, Byline, that’s releasing in July.

Retelling The Little Mermaid – This is at 39,721 words. Last night, I had left some of my work unsaved, and then my computer did a restart update. Needless to say, I was very panicked when I came back in my room and noticed this.

 

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I was thankful that after an hour I was able to save most of my work from the auto recovery.  Always save your work, always. Never leave your computer unattended even for thirty minutes. Save it. Always.

 

Sources:  1 2

Movie Reviews

In Which I Talk Brave

Ever heard about a movie that you really wanted to see, but never got the chance? Well, that was me with Tangled, Frozen, and Brave up until last year. I’ve managed to watch Frozen and Tangled (Tangled is better than Frozen by the way 🙂 ) so Brave was next on my list to see.

I had the opportunity Wednesday when I stayed home from church sick.  I rented the movie from Amazon.

I want to talk about it, but I’m horrible at movie reviews. But I still want to talk about it.

So what’s Brave?

 

 

BRAVE

Merida has been trained by her mother her whole life to be a princess–something that Merida dosen’t like. She’d rather be out on her horse riding through the bonny glen, firing her bow and arrows.

Something her mother doesn’t like. Because Merida is a princess, and it’s high time she started acting like one.

Merida thinks her mother doesn’t understand her, and maybe even doesn’t like her.

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And then one day, the last straw falls.

Merida’s mother, Elinor, is going to marry Merida off to one of the kingdom’s lords. Whoever wins the archery contest, also wins Merida’s hand. 

Merida is having none of it.

She offends the other lords by sneeking onto the green, and competing in the games herself. When her mother confronts her in anger, throwing her bow into the fireplace, Merida slashes threw a tapestry depicting her family, yelling, “”You’re a beast! I’d rather die than be like you!”

She leaves in the castle in tears, and stumbles across will o’ the wisps, who lead her to a witch. In exchange for a spell, Merida gives the witch her necklace. “Change my mom,” Merida says. “That will change my fate.”

And when movie characters decide to take their fate in their own hands, things usually go wrong. And they do go wrong. The spell doesn’t do exactly what Merida was hoping for, she regrets what she did, and during the course of the movie, she tries to undo what she did.  With the usually danger, giggles, and tear-filled scenes that make a movie.

Negative elements: At one point in the movie, some men have to take off their pants, and we see their backsides. Another was the witch that Merida asks for a potion to help change her fate. There is no chanting, just the witch throwing everything together in a cauldron.  One of the female servants has some cleavage.

Merida has three younger brothers who run about unchecked and are not punished in anyway for misbehavior. At one point, one of her brothers takes a key from said lady’s cleavage. It is not shown, but it is implied.

Merida seems to be growing up in pre-Christian Scotland, where druidic influence is strong. A Stonehenge like circle is a present in the movie, though no incantations go on in the circle.

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Positive elements: Scottish accents, Scottish accents, and more Scottish accents.The animation is beautiful, and Scotland looks as real as it can be. Both Elinor and Merida change through the course of the movie. The movie shows that when you take away the hurt and differences, the mother-daughter relationship is a magic all it’s own. And it’s a beautiful story.

 

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Rating:  4/5

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And yes, I cried.

 

Sources:  1 2 3 4

Blog Tours and Giveaways

Shadows of the Hersweald Blog Tour

Hey everyone! As promised, here is my part of Hope Anns Blog Tour for her newest release Shadows of the Hersweald. I’m sorry for that early email that went out when it wasn’t supposed to. Don’t know what happened there. Sometimes technology thinks it knows what you want.

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Shadows of the Hersweald 9(1)

 

~ Interview ~

Do you write by hand or on the computer? The computer, almost all the time. I’ll jot down notes on paper and then transcribe them to idea documents and files. When it comes to my stories, I type them out straight away. The only thing I sometimes write by hand is the random piece of poetry that I keep for my eyes only.

Is your writing inspired by other authors? Well, I have a friend who isn’t published yet, but I’m reading one of her books right now as she writes it and I absolutely love it. The characters, descriptions, emotions, theme and plot… it’s lovely. It’s better than a number of published works I’ve read and I’ve been learning a lot just by reading her stuff. She is probably my greatest inspiration when it comes to writing.

What does your writing day look like? I get up around 6:00 and start writing around 7:00 in the morning. I get an hour of writing done before breakfast. After breakfast and school, around 10:00-10:30, I start writing again and work for another hour. After lunch, starting at 1:00ish or so, I sit down for another hour of writing. Then I’ve chores, work, blogging stuff… Sometimes I’ll get a fourth hour of writing in before supper, sometimes after supper. Then, around 8:30ish, I’ll generally word war with a friend for around an hour. On a good day, I’ll get around five hours of writing in, but sometimes it will only be around three or four.

Thanks for stopping by! Here are the other stops if you are interested!

Monday, March 27

Brie Donning – Review, sneak peak

Erudessa Aranduriel – Interview, quotes, sneak peak

Tuesday, March 28

Catherine Regitz – Book review

Raechel – Quotes

Tasha – Review, interview, quotes

Wednesday, March 29

Audrey Caylin – sneak peek

Ivy Rose – Quotes

Thursday, March 30

Marrok Macintyre – Interview, sneak peek

Rebekah – sneak peek

Friday, March 31

Elle – Review, interview

Hannah Whatley – Review, interview, quotes

Saturday, April 1

Sarah – Review, interview, sneak peek

Wysteria Campion – Review, interview, quotes, sneak peek

Rebeca Morgan – Interview, quotes

Life, OYAN, ~ Wordcount Wednesday ~

OYAN Summer Workshop, Wordcount Wednesday, and Life

Hey again everyone.  It’s been quite an interesting week. I went to an LSU baseball game, and I’m going to another one tomorrow as a matter of fact. I’m insanely happy with this picture that I got. Can you believe that my cheap phone captured thus? Me neither. But I am in love.

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I also passed my World Religions DSST test, which is a huge relief.

The OYAN Summer Workshop is coming up and I am so excited. I’m gearing up to actually pitch my novel to Steve Laube, which is exciting and nerve wracking. I need to stop procrastinating ad actually prepare for what I want to say.

Besides Steve Laube, there is, of course, Daniel Schwabauer,  Jeff Gerke, Robert Treskillard, Nadine Brandes, Mark Wilson, Stephanie Morrill, John Otte, and Jenn Bailey. Lots of awesome stuff happening.

But you want to know about my writing. So Beauty and the Beast. It hasn’t changed much since the last Writing Wednesday. I have been so confused about why a story I loved so much and that is near and dear to my heart could be so hard to edit. I so badly want to send it to friends, but it is definitely in no such shape to do so.

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My answer came last week from author Anne Elisabeth Stengl in her fairy tale Facebook group. She mentioned that maybe we have trouble retelling dearly loved fairy tales just because of that— we love them. We want to do them justice, and that’s hard. And I want to do this story justice. It is the first story that really stuck with me. That time I saw the Beast dance with Belle and I knew I wanted something just like that one day.  To little me that movie was very much real. Little me could see the love the Beast had for Belle, and I didn’t know how to handle that feeling. I still don’t.  All I know is that I want this retelling to be the best it can be.  My dear friend Adrienne wrote a sweet article on how she felt, which I enjoyed reading. 

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Retelling The Little Mermaid is at 38,188. Loving this more and more each day. My new map is drawn and I have some more character sheets to make. This retelling is much easier to write.  And I believe it is because I don’t like it as much. The Disney movie creeped me out as a child (cough, Ursula) and the original is depressing, so I wanted to have a happy retelling. Yes, it has its downs, and depressing times, but it is definitely different. *evil grin because I’m not sharing any details*

Want to see my inspiration board for The Little Mermaid? Click here.

How is your writing this week?

See you next Wednesday.

Book Reviews

Book Review of Shadows of The Hersweald & FREE Short Story

My friend Hope, over at Author Hope Ann, is releasing her third book March 28, entitled  Shadows of the Hersweald. I’ll be participating in the blog tour on April 1st, where I’ll be interviewing Hope, so be sure to swing by! You can pre-order your copy of Shadows of the Hersweald, here

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They would have to come that afternoon. Haydn glared at the rutted road twisted away from the gate beneath him, slithering into the shadows of the Harsweald. And what was the flaming idea behind leaving him in charge? Tregaron in the hands of a criminal… that would put them all in the good graces of the province governor, no questions asked.

A battered soldier from a defeated army, Haydn knows there is only one end to the arrival of the Prince’s governor. Except he hasn’t counted on the Prince himself. Or the pardon which his recent foe has declared to acquit all those who fought against him.

A pardon Haydn detests.

A pardon that refuses to punish the rebels now threatening his own village. And his sister.

Guilt-ridden from his own actions during the war, Haydn knows there are others who have no conscience at all. Others who are using the freedom of the pardon to forward their own desperate schemes.

With enemies closing in on all sides, a pardon that refuses punishment, and nightmares of murder and fire haunting his every thought, will Haydn recognize the truth or will his fear condemn everything he loves to destruction?

First Impression ~ Cool cover.

Characters  ~ Haydn. Great name, but equally was his character. He was a real piece of work, and it was great to see him grow and change through the story. His sister Gorawen seemed a little flat but I loved Haydn’s devotion to her. 

Writing/Plot ~  I loved this story, and Hope didn’t disappoint. Much like her other fairy-tale retellings (which I also loved) this book sucks you in with it’s theme, setting, and great writing. The plot seemed a little rushed at times to me, but it doesn’t take away from the story.

Bad language ~ None

Inappropriate Content ~ None

Overall Rating ~ 5/5

A little treat. Hope said on her blog, “This is Haydn’s song. I like finding songs to match my characters. Haydn was very difficult. I’d given up before I found it by accident. They lyrics aren’t perfectly him, but the spirit of the song very much is his own struggle.”

I can’t agree more. I love Casting Crowns, and this was my favorite when I was younger.

And I thought of this song, which is one of my favorites.

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I enjoyed this little bit of back story of Haydn’s we get to see. Backstory is what I always think of when I pick up a book, or start to write my own. It’s important, and drives me crazy for days if I don’t know. I’m very glad Hope wrote this and put it in there for us who love backstory. Want to claim your FREE copy? Click here to snag your copy of Mercy of Fate.