Tuesday, January 8, 2019

My Year in Books

   As a voracious reader, I measure my year in books. Also, by political happenings, because I'm involved in politics. I started a Goodreads account late in 2017, so this is the first time I can track my reading throughout an entire year.

January
    In January, I reread the Dragonkeeper Chronicles, the inspiration for my all-time favorite series ever, Ilyon Chronicles. I really missed the characters (namely Bardon the Amazing), so it was nice to be able to come back to them. I finished rereading A Wrinkle in Time so I could review it before the new movie that I didn't want to watch came out. I reread The Lost Stories (Rangers Apprentice) and By Darkness Hid, because I really love both of those stories (though The Lost Stories is not my favorite Rangers Apprentice). I read Wonder for the first time, and loved it. I also read The Poison Kiss, a couple of Star Wars books, the last three Series of Unfortunate Events books, four books about biological warfare (for writing research, obviously), an indie published zombie book, and October, which is very impactful and unforgettable. 
Book of the Month: October.

February
   I read twenty books in January. In February, I read two. That's right, two. And one of them doesn't even count, because it was a drawing book. I checked out How to Draw Incredible Ocean Animals so I could draw an otter for a logo of a book review blog I'm probably not going to keep up. Also, I read Auggie and Me. It was good, but I have no idea why it took up the entire month. I really enjoyed Julian's chapter, and how he wasn't being mean to Auggie because he hated him, but because he was scared of him. 
Book of the Month, by default: Auggie and Me.








March

   I returned to my voracious book devouring in March. I read my first Beverly Cleary YA book, and I don't know why I waited so long. Her YA books are even more amazing than the Ramona and Henry Huggins books. I finished a longer book about biological warfare (I told you, writing research) and read an Andrew Clements book about kids who just want to sit and read all day (#me) and it was amazing. Almost all the books he mentioned were longtime friends of mine. Great book. I read an okay Shannon Hale book. Also, I read the last five Betsy-Tacy books, though I'm fairly sure I read those in February and just shelved them in March, which would explain why Goodreads says I only read two books in February. I read Lysbeth: A Tale of the Dutch (and was rooting for Adrien the entire time), the entire Moonlighters series because I got the first and third ones for my birthday, and reread Exiles. Because it's a comfort read of mine.
Book of the Month: Exiles. Because Exiles. 😍😍😍😍😍😍


April
   In April, I finished a lot of school books. Advanced math (of which I will have no more until college algebra), physics, an incredibly dumb book about Christopher Columbus, Man, Economy, and State, Desiring God, The Normal Christian Life, Human Action, Much Ado About Nothing (It really is about nothing; it was the most boring Shakespeare play I've read), Standish of Standish, Monezuma's Daughter (of which I read half in one day), The Fifth of March, The Real Benjamin Franklin, and Voyager's Tales, from which book I remember almost nothing except some Muslim government official paid one guy quite a bit in gold to stand by him all day and occasionally hold his cloak. I want a job as easy as that. On the fun side of things, I finished rereading the Blood of Kings trilogy, reread The Royal Ranger and didn't hate it so much this time (but I will never forgive John Flanagan for killing her), and reread a sweet short story collection about two people falling in love. I read the entire Maze Runner trilogy, accidentally stumbling into another zombie book. I keep doing that, which is weird, because I don't really like zombie fiction. The series was honestly pretty disappointing. My favorite book was the prequel with none of the main characters in it. I also read If I Live (another good Terri Blackstock book), a bunch of picture books, and reread Mary Ware in Texas and A Captain's Heart (or at least most of it). 
Book of the Month: Montezuma's Daughter. Because "Heart to heart, though far apart" doesn't really count if you've been chosen as a sacrificial victim by a bunch of Aztecs. Also, Henry Rider Haggard does the whole "Native-American-culture-being-destroyed-by-outsiders-as-witnessed-by-the-European-adopted-into-the-tribe" story line better than most people.

May
   Once upon a time, an innocent young reader picked up the book The Kestrel from the library and read it, unaware that it was the second book in a trilogy. Needless, to say, I was hopelessly confused, even after reading the first and third books. I later bought the first and third books at a library book sale (but frustratingly, they didn't sell their copy of The Kestrel. If they had, my whole set could have matched), but for the longest time could not find the second. Last year, I finally got it, and, for the first time, read the whole series in order, which happened in May. It makes so much more sense now! I also read a couple of books for a research paper about British soldiers during the American Revolution, another amazing Beverly Cleary YA book, and a picture book and a Lois Lowry book I bought at a library book sale. At the very end of the month, I reread Cinder and Scarlet because I bought Cinder at a library book sale and I love Kai. I read the books where Nanny McPhee came from, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which would have been so mysterious if everybody on planet Earth didn't know the big plot twist), The Summer of Broken Things, The Penderwicks at Last (Baffrey forever!), and Dagger's Sleep. Dagger's Sleep was so good. It's basically a genderbent Sleeping Beauty in a fantasy world with a Native American feel. So cool. Even though I totally shipped the wrong ship with this one, I enjoyed it anyway. It's so beautiful. And I want more Alexander. Also, I started reading War and Peace this month because I made a New Year's resolution to myself to read it over the summer. 
Book of the Month: Dagger's Sleep. This isn't the cover I read it with, but I love this one so much more.

June
   I started out this month reading Cress and Winter (my poor Wolf baby 😢😢😢😢), and War and Peace, of course. I read the second Elsie book and a picture book, listened to The Penderwicks at Point Moutte (poor Jeffrey), and listened to an audio drama of The Fellowship of the Ring. AND TOM BOMBADIL WAS CUT OUT AGAIN!!! WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING???? Also, it was really weird for Ian Holm to play Frodo. My sister brought home The War That Saved My Life, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Bottle Imp was a very interesting short story by Robert Louis Stevenson. My mom made me read When God Writes Your Love Story and it was great. And I beta-read Bitter Winter and it was amazing.
Book of the Month: Bitter Winter. Because Ilyon. And Jace is my baby.





July
   I read some really good books this month, and one REALLY awful one. You know, the kind where the more you think about it, the more you hate it? It wasn't even remotely scientifically plausible, or written well, but it was still horrific and will haunt me forever. It's supposed to turn people against abortion (how? abortion is illegal in the world of this book), but all it really accomplishes is scaring people away from organ donation. Seriously? The underlying message of this book? "Organ donation is creepy because if you give someone a kidney they'll share your soul." Um, what? Enough about Unwind, though. I read the sequel to The War That Saved My Life (so good), On the Far Side of the Mountain (kind of lame, and I hated the stupid decision of letting Frightful go free. She's lived all her life as a pet! She'll die on her own), Clifford's First Autumn (don't ask why, I don't remember), and reread To Kill a Mockingbird out loud with my family. To Kill a Mockingbird is so good, and not actually about racism or Tom Robinson or his trial. It's about Scout Finch growing up and about Boo Radley. And it's amazing. I beta-read Lacy, which is really good even though it didn't have Jace in it. Here's my full review, if you want to read it. I reread The Lightning Thief and Old Yeller, then read the sequel Savage Sam for the first time, in which Travis get tortured by Indians! Also, I was still reading War and Peace, obviously. My grandpa told me this month I'd be thirty before I finished it, but he was proven wrong. Not this month, though. It is over a thousand pages, after all. I'm no Charlie Brown.
Book of the Month: To Kill a Mockingbird, because it's amazing. Honorary mention of Lacy, because Ilyon.

August
   School started back, so I read several books because of that this month. Are You Liberal, Conservative, or Confused? (confused; labels can mean anything nowadays), The Second Treatise of Government (though I would have read that one for fun), The Children of the New Forest (gotta love classism), and Savior or Servant? Putting Government in its Place (disappointingly, the book never delivers on the title). I reread The Destiny of a Galaxy, The Arm of a Starfish (I love Adam Eddington), and Tarzan of the Apes (more classism and some racism, but I love the book anyway). We read My Side of the Mountain as a family, and it wasn't as big a hit as To Kill a Mockingbird. I had read the book myself a while ago, but the rest of my family hadn't. I read The Official SAT Guide 2018 (riveting, I know), The Worth of a King (which I beta-read most of), Orphan's Song (I finally finished it! I'd been meaning to read it for years), Love Defined (Dear non-fiction authors: please stop asking me to do activities at the end of each chapter; it's not going to happen), The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts (which I did not know was part of at least a duology until I reached the end and it was a ciffhanger), A Little House of their Own (what can I say? I've never cared for the Caroline series), The Player King (I love books that bring back into memory obscure history stories I forgot), and The Battle of Hackham Heath. Yes, this was the first time I read it. I was avoiding it, afraid it would be boring, but the rest of my family suddenly got into Ranger's Apprentice for the first time, so when my sister brought it home from the library, I couldn't not read it. It wasn't as boring as I thought it would be, and I love spending time with Halt, Crowley, Duncan, Abelard, and baby Gilan.
Book of the Month: The Battle of Hackham Heath. Because Halt and Crowley. 'Nuff said.

September
   School books: Planned Chaos (snorezilla), The Real Thomas Jefferson (I relate to this guy: when he heard his house burned down, he immediately asked if his books were okay; sadly, they weren't), The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World, a.k.a. when people finally stopped building theocracies, and The Real George Washington. I admire that man so much. He single-handedly saved America. Don't believe me? Just imagine what would have happened if he had taken up Alexander Hamilton's offer to lead the army against Congress and become king of America. The Red Fox Clan came out this month, and I'm glad John Flanagan's writing is getting better again, though we need more Will and Horace together. Sheesh. I reread From the Dark to the Dawn again, because I can't get enough of good stories about Ancient Rome. I read Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker and The Empire Strikes Back (don't judge). Wow, George Lucas is such a terrible writer! I can definitely see where the idea to put Leia in a metal bikini came from. Yeesh. But, it still being Star Wars, I enjoyed it nevertheless, especially the references to backstory that so clearly and obviously changed when George wrote the prequels. Also, Luke's nickname being "Wormy" never gets old. And I finished War and Peace! If you're wondering, yes, it's a novel, and yes, it's worth it. The story is all about the characters, though Tolstoy can philosophize a bit too much. I wasn't very happy that a certain character died, but it led to a better relationship than the current one, so I'm happy. Also, legitimizing illegitimate sons of nobility so they can inherit titles is a wonderful idea which I think certain authors should bestow on certain beloved characters.
Book of the Month: War and Peace. It's really good and it's really worth it.

October
   School books: The Social Contract (yikes), The Articles of Confederation (double yikes; not for the same reason, though, just...no wonder the country almost fell apart under these!), Walden (OHMYGOSH, why does this book exist? Read my review here), Liberty of Conscience, Common Sense (wow), Christian View of Men and Things (doesn't exactly deliver on the title, but I really enjoy philosophy, so I liked this book), The 5000 Year Leap, and Silas Marner. The part on the back cover doesn't happen until near the end. I really think it needs a new description. I read a lot of picture books, because my dad brought home a big box of free ones from his work and I read through them to decide if I wanted them. Also, my sister brought home Cat & Mouse: A Delicious Tale from the library just so we could see how bizarre it was. And it is bizarre. It's the strangest book I've ever read. Perhaps Jill and Eustace should have started craving Puddleglum after seeing Marshwiggle in the giant cookbook? And why call it a "delicious" tale? Is the prospect of eating your friends delicious? So weird. I finished Martin Chuzzlewit, which I'd been working on for a while. I didn't appreciate how he portrayed Americans, but other than that, it was a pretty good book. David Copperfield is still my favorite Dickens book, though. Also, we finished reading The Education of Little Tree as a family. It was certainly an interesting book.
Book of the Month: Cat & Mouse. Not because I liked it --I would never read this to a little kid-- but because it's just so bizarre it's ridiculously memorable. It's worth a read just to laugh and shake your head at. Also, Martin Chuzzlewit, because it was actually pretty good.

November
   School books: The Making of America, a wonderfully informative book about the US Constitution, Uncle Tom's Cabin, a good book that sadly furthers certain stereotypes, Democracy in America, a book that makes my eyes bleed because while de Tocqueville has great things to say, it's REPUBLICANISM, not DEMOCRACY, for crying out loud, and In the Valley, a riveting book about a Dutch New Yorker in the middle of the Revolution who is unfortunately somewhat racist. I read three Fancy Nancy books because I bought them from Goodwill, a picture book my sister bought about a fox traveling to Noah's Ark. I also read Bitter Winter again (an ARC this time), and Decree, the unexpected Christmas present from Tricia Mingerink, a.k.a., The Lost Stories of Acktar. IT WAS SO GOOD! I missed Leith and them so much, and love seeing their future. (Read my full review here.) And I'm beyond pleased there's going to be a sixth and seventh book to the series.
Book of the Month: Decree, because it was absolutely fantabulous and I can't pick Bitter Winter twice.

December
   School books: On Liberty, The Discovery of Freedom (amazing book), On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection Or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (what can I say? I like long titles), and The Federalist Papers. Also, the Anti-Federalist Papers, but I didn't add that one to Goodreads. I started research on Poland for a paper I'm writing, and read Poland and Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1945-1953 for that. I read Lacy again (ARC), read From the Mouth of Elijah (and started planning out a scathing review that I unfortunately have to finish the series to write), and Precisely Terminated, a really good book that the rude library people neglected to buy the sequels to. Don't they realize they're there so poor students don't have to buy good books? I reread Children of Exile and Children of Refuge so I wasn't totally lost when I read Children of Jubilee, which was fantastic, by the way. I received some free books I won in July, among them After, yet another zombie fiction I stumbled into. I really enjoyed this one, especially as this one was set in a fantasy world, so there's an excuse why they're not calling them zombies. Another one was Cora and the Nurse Dragon, a delightful children's book about raising dragons. I read Reflection, Part of Your World, A Whole New World, and As Old As Time, all part of the Twisted Tales series about AU plot threads in Disney movies. I really liked Reflection and Part of Your World, but hated A Whole New World (read my review here). As Old As Time was okay. I read The Girl With 500 Middle Names, which means I have only two more Haddix books to read before I've read them all. I read A Christmas Carol, as I do every Christmas season. It's a great way to spend Christmas Eve. I got Wonder for Christmas, so I read it again. After that, I read The Mysterious Benedict Society, because I had to read it since I just got it, and Mary Poppins, because we watched Saving Mr. Banks and Mary Poppins. The last book of 2018 was Tales of Ever After, another free book. It was a short story collection of fairy tale adaptations and very enjoyable.
Book of the Month: Precisely Terminated. The worst/best dystopian I've read. Panem's got nothing on this. At least Katniss has sunlight.

   And that's it! I could always have written my year in politics instead, but that would be stressful, not fun. Even more stressful is the new year in politics. The presidential campaign has begun, after all. Bookswise, I don't know. I hope to read many good books, and not suffer another Unwind. Ugh. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Today's the Day!

Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour Header

   ...The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and we are getting out of- *Gasp* The tank is clean!
   It's a family thing.
   Anyway, today's the day the best book in the Ilyon Chronicles series comes out (because book 6 isn't finished yet), along with its lovely companion novella and the totally unexpected (but completely welcome) fifth Acktar book! AAAAAAAA!!!
   In an unprecedented amount of luck, I managed to obtain early copies of these books through long and hard-fought battles with some of Jaye's and Tricia's most formidable warriors and am now come to report to you on them. (Just kidding, I got ARCs. If I really met up with some of Jaye's and Tricia's most formidable warriors, I'd squeal and ask for their autographs.)

Le Official Introduction
   Jaye L. Knight’s newest novel, Bitter Winter, and companion novella Lacy have been released! Bitter Winter is the fifth book in the Christian fantasy series, Ilyon Chronicles. Tricia Mingerink's newest novel Decree is also releasing! Decree is the fifth book in the Christian fantasy/kingdom adventure series The Blades of Acktar. Read about these books below and be sure to check out the other blog stops on the tour by visiting the official tour page. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

The Ilyon Chronicles

Bitter Winter

About Bitter Winter
   Already struggling with a harsh winter and the threat of food shortage, a catastrophic event leaves those in the Landale camps reeling. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, camp members fall ill with the same devastating sickness that’s sweeping across the country. Determined to gain the cure, Jace sets off to Valcré. However, there are only two sources—the queen, or a powerful gang of smugglers who have made the dangerous city their home. When Jace gains audience with the gang leader, he finds the price of the cure is steeper than any of them imagined, forcing him to make an impossible choice—betray his conscience or let those he loves die.

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads

My Review
    Oh my sweet gumdrops. My poor, poor babies!
    First of all, poor, poor Jace. (Every book, guys, every book.) My poor baby can't even plan a proposal without everything going wrong. (I guess that's a minor spoiler, but it's in the very beginning.) WHY CAN'T HE JUST BE HAPPY? WHY CAN'T THEY ALL JUST BE HAPPY?
    Okay, guys, we all knew it would happen eventually. And it finally did. And it changes everything. Also, you know who is dead now, and I'm not very happy. He had so much to live for. If this doesn't lead to what I think it's leading to, I'm going to throw a fit. (I accidentally typed "fir" instead, but changed it, thinking, "I can't throw a tree." But you know what? I might. I just might.)
    It's in the description, so it's not a spoiler. Everyone gets sick. Including Jace's closest friends. And of course, we know Jace, so he does everything he possibly can to save them. And included in "everything he possibly can" is something really really bad that he is a breath away from doing. (And afterwards he gets attacked and almost dies, so that's fun.)
    If you expected this to be a rational review, you were wrong, my friend. I am way too emotional about the events of this book to pump out any sense while talking about it.
   Guys. Daniel. Woah. Just, this guy, okay? He's basically the second-best character in Ilyon (aside from Jace, naturally). He's so insecure. (And scared of Jace. Daniel isn't racist, but asking for Jace's permission to date Elanor is so intimidating!) He's a cute little cinnamon roll that manages to act like the king he will be one day (hopefully).
    The plot? Basically just invented to make our favorite fictional friends suffer. AAAAAAAAA!!! It's not fair, guys. Just not fair.
    Anyways, to sum up, totally worth reading (duh). Incredibly good book. 
   A++, should be devoured by everyone.  

Lacy

About Lacy
   The last thing Aaron ever envisioned was falling for a prostitute. Everything about it spells trouble. However, he can’t help noticing the way her smile lights up when she sees him and how much brokenness she hides behind it. Neither can he ignore how desperately she needs rescue and protection. When Lacy shares a life or death secret with him, Aaron is willing to risk everything to help her and to show her Elôm’s love. Yet, such a choice could destroy his reputation and maybe even cost him his freedom. 
   An Ilyon Chronicles Novella

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads


My Review
   Easiest way to sum up this book: Well, that escalated quickly.
   Aaron's in love. And the girl he's in love with...
   Yeah. Trouble with a capital T.
   Not that Lacy herself is Trouble. But Aaron being attracted to her sets off a chain of events that is Trouble.
   Naturally, this is a book for a more mature reader. The subject is handled extremely well - it reminded me of the way it was handled in Crime and Punishment - but it still is what it is. Be ye warned.
   This was very good, even though it didn't have Jace in it. Jace's testimony was used by Timothy to bring someone to Elom, so that's cool. This book is set soon after Bitter Winter, so definitely read that first.
   It was really nice to be able to get to know Aaron and Lacy a bit more. I really enjoyed seeing more of life in Valcré. Also, the people in Timothy and Aaron's congregation are jerks. They live in Valcré, for crying out loud. They're surely not exactly paragons of virtue themselves.
   This is a cute (although cute seems the wrong word) shorter story that is definitely worth the buy, especially for Ilyon fans.
   A++, will probably make you cry or something.


Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!


JayeLKnight Author Photo About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy.

 

 

The Blades of Acktar

Decree Cover 101518 Final

About Decree
   The Adventure Continues. Discover more of The Blades of Acktar in this collection of novellas and short stories.  

The Blades as They Should’ve Been  
   A test and the Gathering of Nobles will decide Leith and Martyn’s futures. Can they fight to become more than the Blades they were? Will Keevan accept the man who attempted to kill him as family? 
The First Mission 
   When Martyn visits Surgis, his past seems determined to haunt him. Can he figure out how to forgive, especially when confronted with an enemy in need of his help?  
To the Far Great Mountains 
   A death sends Leith and Martyn far beyond the borders of Acktar. Will they be able to arrest their quarry before they are caught themselves? 

   From the story of how Leith and Martyn met to Ranson’s search for a life outside of the Blades, these stories will answer plaguing questions and expand the world of Acktar.

 

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads

My Review
    I don't like Keevan.
    Not much else is new.
   But why does he still want to beat the stuffing out of Leith? Leith is an adorable little cinnamon roll that needs to be protected and all Keevan wants to do is see him bleed. And he uses his position to get what he wants. Dirty politician.
Via Pinterest
   Poor Ranson. I'm 99.99% sure he's autistic and who ever let Respen touch him? This poor baby needs to be wrapped up in bubble wrap and given ice cream and what's-her-name as a girlfriend.
   What Tricia did with poor Shad and Jolene? RUDE. 
Via Pinterest
   What happened at the end of To the Far Great Mountains? asdfghjkl It's so cute I can't even. Baby Leiths! Although poor Leith was having nightmares and everything before it happened. *Repeat crying llama gif*
   Who thought it was a good idea to hold a knife to Leith's neck? Idiots.
   THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!
   Tricia set out to write The Lost Stories of Acktar and I think she did a good job.
   A++, will cry about again.



Haven’t discovered the The Blades of Acktar yet? Find out more at on the official Blades of Acktar page.

DSC09450-2 About the Author
Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn't writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country. You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Giveaway!

PaperbackGiveaway


   Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a full signed set of the Ilyon Chronicles and The Blades of Acktar! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)


Be sure to stop by each of the character chats (links in the blog tour schedule) for additional giveaways throughout the tour!


Friday – December 14 – Release Day for Bitter Winter & Lacy!
Blog Tour Intro by Tricia Mingerink
Author Interview & Book Reviews at Jessica Looks Again
Book Reviews at The Music of a Story
Book Spotlight & Review at Chosen by the Potter
Book Spotlight at Time of the Immortals
Character Chat #1 by Ilyon Chronicles

Saturday – December 15
Book Reviews at Thriving Hope
Book Spotlight & Reviews at The Writer’s Song
Author Interview & Book Reviews at Perfectly Quirky In Every Way
Book Spotlight & Reviews at A Great God and Good Cocoa
Book Spotlight at The Book Sprite

Monday – December 17
Book Reviews by Morgan Huneke
Book Reviews at Backing Books
Book Reviews at Honey Rock Hills
Book Reviews at TJ’s Musing
Character Chat #2 by Tricia Mingerink

Tuesday – December 18 – Release Day for Decree!
Book Spotlight at Ruffles and Grace
Book Spotlight & Reviews at Resting Life
Author Interview & Book Reviews at Knitted by God’s Plan
Book Reviews by S.G. Willoughby
Book Spotlight & Reviews at Sarah Plain & Average

Wednesday – December 19
Book Reviews at The Artful Author
Book Reviews by Meagan Davenport
Author Interview & Book Reviews by Brie Donning
Author Interview & Book Spotlight at Saver of Memories
Character Chat #3 by the Ilyon Chronicles

Thursday – December 20
Book Spotlight by Sutori no Hana
Book Reviews by Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Book Spotlight by M.H. Elrich
Author Interview at The Ink Lizard
Book Spotlight & Review at A Great God and Good Cocoa

Friday – December 21
Book Reviews at Smyling Girl
Author Interview at Dreams and Dragons
Book Review by Faith Blum
Author Interview & Book Reviews at Allison Grace Writes
Book Spotlight by Hannah Gaudette
Character Chat #4 by Tricia Mingerink

Saturday – December 22
Blog Tour Wrap up post at Jaye L. Knight
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Worst Christmas Songs Ever

   Okay, so maybe it's not that dramatic, but this is a list of all the Christmas songs most everyone seems to hate. Not ranked in any particular order.

Last Christmas
   Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away... Ugh, I've got it in my head now. Most of the hate for this song seems to stem from the utter annoyingness and stupidity of the words and the catchiness of the tune. Why would somebody write a song that annoying and pass it off as a Christmas song so we have to listen to it every year instead of letting it die away into oblivion? Seriously. 

Santa Baby
   This song is about a selfish woman demanding things from Santa whilst simultaneously flirting with him. No wonder so many people hate it. Also, it can be very easy to get it stuck in your head, which can condemn even good songs to the hate list (hello, "Reckless Love").

Baby, It's Cold Outside
   This song has recently created a stir by being banned from many radio stations. No matter your political affiliations, I think we should all say, "It's about time!" Even if it's not technically about date rape, it's still about a man pressing a woman to stay with him even after she keeps saying no, citing not hurting his pride as a good reason to stay. It's certainly not a sweet Christmas duet. In fact, the only thing in the song that somewhat kind of references Christmas is the temperature ("it's cold outside"). It's not even really a Christmas song, so why pull it out every season?

The Christmas Shoes
   This song gives you emotional trauma over a kid who wants to buy his dying mother some shoes because he doesn't realize you can't take it with you. News flash: your mama isn't going to meet Jesus in those shoes. Stop making everybody cry with your sob story. And, please, dear radio stations, stop subjecting innocent people to this song. It's just not nice.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
   Oh, what a laugh it would have been it Daddy had only seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night! The fact that this little kid not only is not traumatized by finding out his mom is supposedly having an affair with Jolly Old St. Nick, but thinks it would be hilarious if Daddy found out is enough to put this on the hate list. This isn't cute. It's creepy. And I can't believe I have piano music for this song.

The Little Drummer Boy
   I actually really like half of this song. But the rest? It's as if the writers of the lyrics were certain the listeners wouldn't know what a drum was if they didn't throw in "pa rum pum pum pum" after every phrase. You could be a bit more inventive and put in more lyrics about Jesus that don't assume the listeners are idiots. The constant pa rum pum pum pums get really redundant.

   I could probably extend this list, but these seem to be the ones at the top of the list for most people. What's your least favorite Christmas song?


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage Blog Tour and Interview

 

   Thieves, filthy rotten thieves, have stolen my precious! Not the script, not the script! We hates the script! But we promised, Smeagol promised. Fine. We will say the script.
   My sisters are coming out with a picture book and everyone needs to buy it. This is the next big thing, and if you read it now, you can say you knew about this book before it was famous! We knows about it! Of course we know! Gollum, gollum.
   We interviewed the author! Yes, precious. Yes, we did. We questioned it about the precious. No, not the precious! Master has the precious. Filthy Baggins! We...we interviewed...about the picture book! The picture book! The picture book. Read the interview about the filthy picture book.
   *Gollum starts to leave*
   But we promised to stay! Smeagol promised on the precious!
   Smeagol lied!
   *Gollum disappears into the rocks of Emyn Muil*

As a middle grade writer, what drew you to picture books?
I actually wrote picture books before I ever wrote chapter books (can you imagine a seven-year-old writing a novel?), so it’s kind of like a return to my roots. While I graduated to reading chapter books pretty early in life, I never stopped liking picture books. They’re fun and such a different way of telling a story. Plus, I wrote Carrie Mouse when I was a kid and it’s the one story from that era of my life that continually refused to let me go, so I had to publish it.

Will we be seeing any of your other picture books written in childhood on the publishing scene?
Nope. I’m not rewriting Margville’s Aliens, and I’m absolutely not publishing The Day of the Awful Lillian. I put snippets up on my blog last year, but that’s all you’re getting.

Will Carrie Mouse be your only picture book series?
The plan is no. Rebekah and I want to do more Carrie Mouse books, but we also want to write the Eww, Gross! stories about a wolf with a chronic runny nose. He’s the CEO of a butcher company and he’s always sneezing snot all over things. XD It’ll be fun. We’re planning to base the stories on fairy tales, but with a twist.

What motivated you to pursue this unique kind of illustrating as opposed to traditional drawing methods?

Because Rebekah’s good at sculpting. ;) For a long time, I wanted her to make figures to pose around the backyard and garage, but the specific style of sculpting we ended up using was inspired by Barbara Reid’s illustrations. You’d be surprised how many different ways there are to illustrate picture books, though. There are infinite drawing styles, different types of painting, blends of drawing and photoshopping, collages that make up illustrations, and then there are the people who pose toys and take pictures of them, and the people who make animals and other objects out of food. It’s quite interesting.

And finally, on a less serious note, which yet-to-be-released live action Disney movie are you most excited about?
Probably Aladdin. While I like Dumbo, it’s not one of my favorites, and you know how I feel about The Lion King. And I’m kind of afraid how Mulan might turn out. But even though the Genie won’t be Robin Williams, the first teaser for Aladdin looks really cool. (I’ve not really paid much attention to many other upcoming movies.) And you said I can’t count Star Wars, but I’m anxious to see Episode IX, since it’ll make or break the sequel trilogy—and potentially all Star Wars movies of the future.



 
   Martha Squirrel made her journey down the big hill seem like a grand adventure. But what happens when Carrie Mouse disobeys her mama and explores the giant garage?
   Inspired by a true story, Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage tells the story of a young mouse who gets trapped in the garage of the human house at the bottom of the hill. Beautifully illustrated with clay sculptures, this is a book you won’t want to miss!
 


About the Author
 
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. She is the author of several middle grade novels including the Time Captives fantasy trilogy and one YA fairy tale retelling novella entitled Twisted Dreams. Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage is her first picture book.




To learn more about Morgan and her work, visit:
or



About the Illustrator

Rebekah Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia with her parents, sisters, and yellow Labrador named Sophie. She has been working with Sculpey since age nine, and sells her creations in the Klay Kottage Etsy shop. She also creates and sells stuffed animals and knitted goods. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing cello and piano. Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage is her first book. 


To learn more about Rebekah and her work, visit:
or
follow @klaykottage on Instagram

 

   Morgan and Rebekah will be giving away a signed copy of Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage with a handmade Carrie Mouse doll! Second prize is a signed copy of the book only. Be sure to enter the giveaway!
   Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
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