My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes


"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Dream Not Imagined, by Shantelle Mary Hannu

Hello, dear readers!  Today I am pleased to introduce a new, pretty cover!



A MAID, a PRINCE, and a DUKE. A GARDENER, a STEPMOTHER, and a secret...

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family; she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after.

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream...of the same prince.

In the end, are dreams even all they're made out to be? Especially with deep and long-hidden secrets about to be unearthed?

A Dream Not Imagined is a non-magical fairytale novella based loosely on the classic tale of Cinderella.

Coming June 2015
   
 Shantelle Mary Hannu was born in the mountainous west, spending her golden childhood years there. Since then, she has relocated time and again with her parents and seven siblings, making cherished memories in both the South and Central United States.

A Christian homeschool graduate, Shantelle has a passion for writing and all things books. From a young age she’s been penning tales with a hope of sharing with the world adventurous and soul-stirring stories that bring glory to God.

A Dream Not Imagined, a fairytale novella, will be her first published book. She’s currently preparing a full-length fantasy novel for publication as well, and working on its sequel.

Shantelle blogs at A Writer’s Heart about her stories, favorite books and movies (with reviews), healthy wheat-free recipes, and hosts fellow authors, among other things. One of her joys is connecting with fellow writers and readers! You can also find her on FacebookTwitter,  GoodreadsGoogle+, and Pinterest.

About the Illustrator

Natasha H. is an aspiring photographer and also loves drawing and painting. A Dream Not Imagined is the first book she has drawn the cover picture for.  Learn more about her work at her blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Draven's Light, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


In the darkness of the pit, the light shines brightest.
 
In the depths of fear, true heroes are born.

And in a quiet village, a young girl listens to a story told by immortals.

Each day, a girl must bring water to the two brothers who labor to build a strange house on the hill.  No one can remember when they came, and no one knows when they will finish their work and leave.  Although they frighten the girl, the Kind One tells wonderful tales of adventure and courage-- such as the Coward and the Pit.

Draven was meant to be the next chieftain.  But he loses it all when he finds himself unable to comply with his village's barbaric practices.  But when their reckless behavior leaves them vulnerable to a mysterious curse, only Draven the Faintheart can defend them... if he can find the courage.

This is Stengl.  To say it is beautiful is absolutely redundant.  You can go into any Stengl novel or novella assuming the writing, imagery, and execution will be gorgeous, and you won't be disappointed.  It is equally redundant to say that I enjoyed it immensely!  That being said, Draven's Light reads slightly different from the past novels-- in a good way.  Of the novels, it is most reminiscent of Golden Daughter, which makes sense considering they're consecutively published.  It feels more mature than her writing ever has before.  There are some reflections on youth and aging that add a greater level of philosophy (although all the novels are quite thoughtful).

I was very pleased to see how much Stengl experimented with the structure of this novella.  It really isn't a long tale, and the double storyline gave it a pleasing depth.  We not only follow the story of Draven; we see it being told to a young girl years later.  It was completely unlike anything Stengl has done so far and absolutely lovely.

 As for the characterization, I was so, so impressed with the character of Akilun.  Stengl managed to write a character who is sweet, wonderful, and so, so kind.  He is a noble and great man, but he never becomes foreign because of this.

 That being said, I did not like the character of Ita.  She is the strong woman of this tale.  My problem is that she kicks her brother, Draven.  Repeatedly.  And it causes him pain.  I expected that this physical aggression would eventually be addressed, and it was-- sort of.  But it still made me uncomfortable.  I can hear you pointing out already that Stengl writes flawed characters.  She does-- absolutely!-- but I still feel that Ita was never put down as thoroughly as Una, who I found more likable than her.

 But the main thing that prevents me from giving Draven's Light a perfect ten for ten is this: it hinges on an unexpected emotional choice from a character the audience doesn't know yet.  So even though it's unexpected... because I was unfamiliar with the character, it didn't really resonate with me.  As the novella continued and I learned more about the character and the culture, his defying of social norms began to feel... strange to me.  He has been conditioned for this choice presumably since birth, but we never really learn what causes or allows him to overcome this except that it is in his nature.

That being said, this novella is a worthy addition to the Tales of Goldstone Wood.  Although it doesn't feature many of the popular canon of characters, it still draws heavily on established plots-- need I point out the unspoken comparison of Draven the Faintheart and Lionheart?  Yes, this novella is different than past Stengl.  It is darker, less fairytale and more folklore.  It doesn't feature as many familiar characters, and it is significantly shorter than her novels.  But it's still Stengl-- and that means it's pretty darn great!

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nightstand Books: April

Hello, readers!  A few weeks ago I found the most adorable post on Jenelle Schmidt's (author of the Minstrel's Song series and coauthor of Five Enchanted Roses) blog: Nightstand Books, in which she takes a picture of the books loitering on her nightstand this month.  With Jenelle's generous permission, I am greatly pleased to launch the series on my blog.

Disclaimer: I did not come up with this.  The idea belongs entirely to Jenelle Schmidt and D J Edwardson.

And here is my nightstand, which of course totally is always as clean and polished as it is in this photo.  Totally...


This may seem like a lot of books to read in one month, but classes are beginning to wrap up, and I find that I have-- wonder of wonders-- free time!

The two books on top are Aristotle's Poetics, by-- um-- Aristotle, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by-- well-- Benjamin Franklin.  I have been reading these two slender little volumes for what seems like forever and a few years.  They're both short and excellent, so I don't know why they're taking me so long.

Actually, I do, because directly beneath them is my ARC copy of Draven's Light, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, which I finished this morning.  I will review it shortly, so I won't say anything more except that it is, obviously, beautiful.

Below it you see Angels and Insects, by A. S. Byatt.  I know absolutely nothing about this book, but I love other work by this author, and my wonderful English teacher lent me her copy.

Moving down the stack, we have Assassin's Quest, by Robin Hobb, another book which I have been reading for a small eternity.  Like most of Hobb's work, it's wonderful, and I don't know why it's taking me so long except that it's one of twelve books currently on my nightstand.

Beneath that is The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski.  I've only read the first few chapters, but so far I like it because the heroine is a musician in adversity, which you don't exactly come to expect in young adult literature.  (I also kind of hate it, because the sideways pattern of the beautiful cover is echoed throughout the book, which means I'm straining my neck trying to read it the right way up.)

Then we come to The Book of Atrix Wolfe, by Patricia McKillip.  I heard of this book on Candice William's blog when she reviewed it, and having enjoyed McKillip in the past, I'm looking forward to this one, too.

Next comes Raising Steam, by Sir Terry Pratchett, the last Discworld book published before his passing.  I finished this one yesterday.  It features my favorite Discworld character, one Moist von Lipwig, but I, like many readers, found it lacking when compared to the previous books.  I think Pratchett was less... ruthless in this book.  It was unsettling.

Next come four library books: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan; Touch Not the Cat, by Mary Stewart (which I heard about while discreetly stalking Suzannah Rowntree's blog); Enchanted Glass, by Diana Wynne Jones; and An Echo in the Darkness, by Francine Rivers, which I haven't read yet and am increasingly nervous about.

Wow, that was a lot of books!  I don't know if I'll finish them this month-- some of them I'm not sure I'll finish at all-- but I have to admit, there's something pretty about books stacked on a nightstand.

How about you, readers?  What's on your nightstand this month?  And thank you, Jenelle and D J, for letting me borrow your awesome posts!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Question

Hello, readers!  I promise I have unutterably exciting posts planned for later in the week... but now I have a question for you.

My current work-almost-in-progress-I'm-getting-to-it-I-promise requires some imagery concerning childhood.  And so, dear reader... are there any female names that make you powerfully think of youth, innocence, and childhood?  (They don't have to mean these; they just have to, for whatever reason, remind you of them.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: Pendragon's Heir, by Suzannah Rowntree

Welcome to a world where the twentieth century dawns on knights in mortal combat, where a traitor and a princess fight for the same title, and where strange, wonderful realms are behind the next door.  This is the world of Arthur's Camelot, a world that Blanchefleur Pendragon, lady of the 20th century and princess of the 5th, must try to save, and a world elegantly crafted by authoress Suzannah Rowntree in her novel, Pendragon's Heir.

 Stories of King Arthur have been told and retold for over a thousand years, hashed and rehashed until they have barely any originality left.  Modern authors may twist the setting and the characters (generally speaking, they daren't touch the plot), but it's still, at the core, the same story. 

Suzannah Rowntree understands this, and she uses it to her advantage.  Pendragon's Heir does not reinterpret the legends; rather, it goes back to their heart and reminds us why we loved them in the first place. 

In order to do this, Rowntree crafts the story around a new rendition of an old character: Blanchefleur.  You haven't heard of her.  She's a minor character from Chrétien de Troyes' TheStory of the Grail, where her name is mentioned (I believe) once.  In addition to this relative newcomer, Pendragon's Heir heavily features the beloved canon of Arthurian characters: Arthur and Guinevere, Gawain and Ragnell, Morgain and Mordred.  All familiar characters, all interacting in new ways.  Take Guinevere, for example.  No one likes Guinevere-- Mallory didn't; modern culture doesn't; Tennyson really, really didn't.  Rowntree acknowledges everything that makes Guinevere unlikable and-- well, I can't say more for fear of spoilers.  But Rowntree was so, so good to this poor character. 

Although she writes intriguing characters, Rowntree's talent really shines in her prose.  Although sparse, it is deliciously full, skilled, and elegant.  My highlighter almost ran out of ink trying to keep track of my favorite passages.  Miss Rowntree can throw the most delightful punches with dialogue-- places where a perfectly crafted, poignant phrase literally catches my breath. 

To rephrase everything that's good about this novel: it is a delightful tribute to everything I love about the Arthurian legends. 

That being said... I need to talk about the plot.  I wish I was open-minded enough to like Rowntree's somewhat irregular pacing and plotting, but I'm not.  Like the Arthurian legends, the plot consists of many isolated incidents, and they gradually thicken and draw together to a cohesive finish.  Although I appreciate this artistic choice, I couldn't help but feel that this discontinuity led to a lack of character motivations.  Blanchefleur must guard the Grail.  I understand it's important, but why her?  Perceval comes to a dinner party, and suddenly everyone can speak Welsh.  Pendragon's Heir lacked something to draw a series of occurrences together, and that something very easily could have been the villain, who had a relatively low word count in the novel. 

Despite my issues with the plot and pacing, I really enjoyed Pendragon's Heir.  Rowntree says that she sought to examine what the medievals believed, and I think she succeeded. 

Above all, Pendragon's Heir reflects the higher struggle of morality.  I have read some reviewers complain that the villain's decidedly less romantic, less idealistic plan seems much more practical than that of the heroes.  These reviewers often mention that the villain poses several hard questions of how the heroes' ideals would last in reality; they argue that the characters, and thereby Rowntree, fail to answer this. 

I disagree with this opinion because I believe that there silence is the answer.  These are not easy questions.  There are not always answers.  But even when they can't put their necessity into words, the characters follow these ideals simply because they are worth fighting for. 

Four and a half stars, and be sure to find out more about Suzannah Rowntree and read Pendragon's Heir!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Guest Post: Homecoming, by Kate Hasbrouck

Hello, dear readers!  I'm pleased to introduce Kate Hasbrouck's new book, Homecoming, complete with a guest post on writing!  Be sure to check out the links and giveaway at the end.


Kerana is being sent to Earth to begin her duty as an Eldurian. Hers are a perfect people, without flaw and without sin, never experiencing the fall of man. Created by God to shepherd His people on Earth, they remain in the shadows, unnoticed. Kerana looks human, speaks like them, and has been taught to act like them. Above all her mission is to serve the humans.

Arriving on Earth, Kerana meets Eli at school. He is an ordinary human, with a father suffering from alcoholism, and a past that threatens to ruin his life. A star scholarship lacrosse player, Eli has to forget his true passion and live in a shell that doesn’t let anyone in. Until he meets Kerana. They find themselves intertwined in a connection that neither can quite explain. When this connection puts the two of them in danger, they find comfort and protection from each other. When Eli discovers that there is more to Kerana than just her stunning looks and grace, the Eldurians and their home planet of Eden may not remain a secret for very long.

Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Kate Hasbrouck has been writing and creating stories for as long as she can remember. She had written several stories by the time she was a teen, but Homecoming was the first full manuscript she had ever written with the intention of sharing it with other people. She attended Houghton College, where she received her Bachelor’s degree with a dual-major in Writing and Psychology where she honed her skills. She lives in Florida with her husband, a youth pastor at a local church, where she spends time writing, ministering to teens, and enjoying the life God has given her. Homecoming is the first book in a trilogy.

 
 
If you're interested in Homecoming, check out the awesome giveaway Kate is hosting, and visit her website.

Kate was kind enough to write a guest post on writing for us:

One of my favorite parts of writing is to create a world that has never existed. Sweeping mountains, daring sword fights, and a bad guy who really is a good guy deep down.

One of my least favorite parts of writing? When you get stuck.

This is what is famously called "writers block". And that really is what it seems to do to your mind: it's as if there is a giant wall blocking your way, making it so you can't move any farther. Maybe it's with your character, and you aren't sure what she would say next. Or maybe it's with the story, and you can't figure out how they will possibly go from this horrible problem to finally finding peace. And maybe it's even something as small as you aren't satisfied with a certain part, and you want to just completely erase it and start over.

So how do you get over it? A lot of writers say that they have the magic solution for getting over writers block, but the truth is that what really works is different person to person. I suffer from it too. And what really stinks is when you have writers block for a long time.

So here are three things that you might find helpful when trying to get over writers block!

1.) Step away from the story

You might already have left your story alone for a long time, but I mean to intentionally give yourself some space from it. Take a few days and work on a different story idea, or do some writing exercises with some writing prompts. Don't give up on writing, but give that story a break.

Then, when you've given your brain a break, go back and look at it with fresh eyes! You'll be amazed at how something so small can help so much!

2.) Write the same scene totally differently

If you are super stuck on one part in particular, try writing it in a different way. Do different characters, put them in a different setting. If the scene is tense, make it calm. If the characters are happy, make them angry. Sometimes you will be surprised what the character might end up saying or doing, and it might open up that door that you need to keep the story moving!

3.) Push through it!

Sometimes the best thing we can do is just to work through it! It's not fun, and the writing may be some of the worst you have ever done, but the best thing is that you can go back to it and change it later. Some of the best advice I ever received is to just keep writing until you finish the book, then go back and edit it. And it will change, so don't fret over a part that you aren't totally happy with! You can always, always change it!

Don't be afraid if you get stuck in your writing. It happens to everyone! The important thing is you get it written out! And if you really can't get past it, it might be okay to decide to just get rid of the part where you are stuck!

Keep writing, and keep creating!

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Kate!  Readers, be sure to check out the rest of the tour:

Monday, April 6th
Tuesday, April 7th
Wednesday, April 8th
Thursday, April 9th
Friday, April 10th
Tuesday, April 14th
Wednesday, April 15th
Saturday, April 18th
Sunday, April 19th

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, dear readers!  May your day be blessed and spent with family and loved ones.

By Хомелка (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons