Weekly Quote-Flection #1

Hello! Today I am starting a new blog post that is exclusive ONLY to LILbooKlovers (or so I think)!

As a book blogger, I want to inspire people, but not just book-related things. I believe books have the power to CHANGE you. Have you read a book that has gotten you through a rough time or changed your perception of the world? This year, I’ve encountered so many of those books. Inside those books are quotes that stick with you for a while, and I want to share these quotes with you! I will not only list the quote, but I’ll give a little reflection, something to ponder about. One quote has the potential to help your life, and that’s why I want to start these quote-flections. I want to inspire others to become better people, and this is how I could do that through my blog! I hope that you will take the time to read this quote and reflection (a few thoughts and questions) and ponder or meditate on how you can apply it to your life!

So here’s the first ever quote-flection from Configured by Jenetta Penner (and there will be a review of it later this week)!


“Avlyn, this world is both beautiful and broken. Make more beautiful moments than broken ones.”

– Jenetta Penner, Configured

As you know, this world isn’t perfect. There are both good things and bad things, but it is OUR choice whether or not to make our lives good or bad. Our future mostly depends on our decisions, and they have the potential to also change other people’s lives. Choosing to smile at a fellow co-worker may brighten up his day and help him cope with depression. Choosing to get irritated at said co-worker could anger him and cause him to have a bad day. These little things- they may not seem great to us- seem the world to others. Doing small acts of charity is making beautiful moments. It makes not only us happy but others happy.

But it’s not just others’ lives that are affected. Our lives are too included. We are a product of our choices, and we have the power to change the world… even if it’s just a little at a time. Each decision you make has the potential to increase the beauty of the world or its brokenness. A beautiful moment does not have to literally be beautiful; it’s just got to make life better for you, make life more fun, make life worth living. How can you turn a dull and boring moment? By adding love into what you are doing. That’s the way to create as many beautiful moments as possible!

Questions

  • Are you making more beautiful moments? Or are you making more broken ones? How can you bring more beauty, more joy, and more happiness in both your and others’ lives?
  • Is there something in your life that you can make more beautiful?
  • Are your choices and actions upon others making their lives beautiful or broken?

Well, I hope you took enjoyed this weekly quote-flection! I will do more in the future, and I do hope that these will help you live a better life! Thanks so much for reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Blood Road Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Amanda McCrina

Hi guys! In my hometown of Paris, TN, today we are holding the parade for the World’s Biggest Fish Fry! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a week-long festival where we eat a bunch of catfish, go to the carnival, and watch the two to three hour-long parade! Fun fact: some of our Grand Marshals include Verne Troyer, the actor who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies, and Hannah Robinson, a local who was Miss Tennessee a year or two ago and made it to the top 7 in the Miss America pageant! Small town represent! Today, we have a blog tour for Amanda McCrina’s newest book Blood Road! Hope you enjoy!

BLOOD ROAD


Title: BLOOD ROADA blood road

Author: Amanda McCrina

Pub. Date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 329

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.

Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.

Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.

Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.


About Amanda:Amanda (1)

Amanda McCrina has studied in Italy, taught English in Japan, and currently tutors Latin in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History from the University of West Georgia, and is now pursuing her MA. She writes stories that incorporate her love of history, languages, and world travel. She drinks far too much coffee and dreams of one day having a winning fantasy-hockey season.

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


A Amanda

1. What is your book Blood Road about?

Blood Road is a political fantasy about a young Imperial army officer who sets out to solve a kidnapping and uncovers a vast trafficking plot whose roots go much deeper than he originally thought.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because it makes me see my own world in a new light. I’ve been making up stories for just about as long as I can remember (really embarrassing stuff, some of it)—probably because I’ve been reading for just about as long as I can remember. I think the key to developing as a writer is to read.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

Three long-time favorites are Ernest Hemingway, Rosemary Sutcliff, and George Orwell. I deliberately tried to imitate Hemingway when I first started writing seriously, and it’s taken me a long time to unlearn that and develop my own voice. But I still appreciate Hemingway’s minimalistic, dialogue-driven prose—and, equally, Rosemary Sutcliff’s beautiful descriptions.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I read a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction. I enjoy (and owe a lot to) fantasy, but at this point it takes a really fresh spin to get me interested. I love a good mystery, too, but I’ve never tried writing one.

From the three authors I already mentioned, my favorite books are, respectively, A Farewell to Arms, The Lantern Bearers, and Homage to Catalonia. Other all-time-favorites include Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity (the voice is incredible), Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, and Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is currently a part-time job. My full-time job is teaching middle- and high-school English at an international school in Madrid. Between those two things, I don’t have a lot of free time!

6. Is your book based off or inspired by the Roman Empire? If so, how much research did you have to put into it, and are there any parallels between the Roman and Vareno Empires?

There are definitely parallels between the Vareno Empire in Blood Road and Ancient Rome. I note in the book that it’s not an analogy that should be taken too far, since the Vareno Empire doesn’t perfectly resemble Rome at any one point in time. It’s most similar to the Christianized Rome of the 300s and 400s CE, but even that starts falling apart if you look at it very closely. (For example: the people of the Vareno Empire practice a religion that resembles Christianity, but the military also practices decimation as a punishment. In real life, the Roman army hadn’t really used decimation for several centuries by the time of Christianization.)

A lot of the research I did for Blood Road overlapped with research I’d done for my undergraduate thesis, so I was able to kill two birds with one stone.

7. What was your process for world-building your fictional empire’s geography, social structure, characters, etc.? There’s so much depth put into the social and governmental structures of the Vareno Empire, which can be found on your website!

I did incorporate some specific elements from real Roman history—for instance, my Imperial Guard is pretty blatantly based on the Praetorian Guard. I also turned to other time periods for some things. The signi, criminals sentenced to military service, were inspired by the penal battalions of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in WWII.

It’s always potentially problematic to pick through real-world history and recycle it into a fantasy world; you have to be aware of the ramifications of detaching history from its context. But I do think studying real-world history is one good way to enrich fictional worldbuilding. (Also, food. Start with food. I mentioned this in another interview: knowing what your fictional people are cooking and eating is often key to understanding their world.)

8. If you had to choose, would you rather read and write historical fiction or fantasy for the rest of your life, and why?

If I had to choose, I’d pick historical fiction. Blood Road is fantasy in that it takes place in a secondary world, but there’s no magic, so really it reads like historical fiction. I’m terrible at writing magic systems.

9. How is it like living in Madrid, Spain? What are some of your favorite things about the city?

Madrid is a great city—eclectic, very walkable, with perfect weather and a good mix of cultural sites, shopping and dining destinations, and green spaces (plus a random Ancient Egyptian temple). I sound like a travel brochure, but really I am thankful for the opportunity to be here!

10. Your main interest of research is the Christianization of the imperial Roman Army. Could you share with us any fascinating facts you have stumbled across in your research? Why do you like studying and writing about this topic?

I think it’s fascinating that an essentially religious institution, the Roman army, could adapt so quickly to a drastically different belief system. The Roman army camp was an inviolable sacred space, and ritual was (and always had been) an integral part of camp life—so what does it mean that the army adopted Christianity so quickly when Constantine converted?

There’s so much I find fascinating, but one thing that surprised me when I first started researching was that by 400 CE or so pagans were actually prohibited from joining the army—you had to be a professing Christian. (Of course, how strictly that prohibition was enforced is a matter for debate.)

11. If you could take three things along with one book with you on a deserted island, what would you bring?

I’m going to assume the three things can’t include a boat or a satellite phone, so I’ll say: 1) Ryan North’s Time Traveler Essentials cheat sheet. The situation isn’t exactly the same, but most of the information still applies. 2) Seed potatoes. It worked for Mark Watney. 3) A volleyball.

My book would be War and Peace. I still probably won’t have finished it by the time rescue arrives.

12. Whenever you encounter writer’s block, what is your go-to cure?

Either a bike ride or a hot shower, or both, in that order.

13. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

I’ve finished the first draft of a sequel to Blood Road. I’m also currently working on a YA WWII novel set in Poland/Western Ukraine, about a Red Army sniper.

14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

At the risk of repeating myself—reading is so important. Also, because I wish somebody had told me this a long time ago: don’t beat yourself up over making a certain word count each day. It’s OK to have days where you only write two sentences. (If it isn’t, I’m sunk.)

Thanks so much, Amanda, for coming onto our blog! Glad to have you!


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a 1 month subscription to Owl Crate, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

4/24/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Review

4/24/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

4/25/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

4/25/2017- Doodle’s Book Reviews– Review

4/26/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Interview

4/26/2017- Book-Keeping– Review

4/27/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

4/27/2017- Hazel West’s Character Purgatory– Excerpt

4/28/2017- LILbooKlovers– Interview

4/28/2017- Wishful Endings– Review

Week 2:

5/1/2017- Exploring the Inner Universe– Review

5/1/2017- So Few Books– Interview

5/2/2017- Book Review Becca– Review

5/2/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview

5/3/2017- Reading for the Stars and Moon– Review

5/3/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

5/4/2017- YA and Wine– Guest Post

5/4/2017- Mundie Moms– Review

5/5/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review


I hope you enjoyed today’s interview/blog post/giveaway! Certainly check out Amanda’s book!

Happy Fish Fry!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Chilling Revelation (Bentwhistle the Dragon #2) by Paul Cude

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book for an honest review.

Amazon Description: Following his harrowing and near death experience at the talons of the evil dragon Manson in ‘A Threat From The Past’, Peter Bentwhistle, the human shaped dragon and reluctant hero, finds himself on the slow path to recovery. Helped by his dragon friends, Tank and Richie (both in their human forms), he finds solace in his new found friendship with the dragon king. But the three friends are soon unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race. Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic. Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.

Rating: 3/5

This is a long book which at times feels like there are two totally separate stories, though they do come together near the end. For me it could be condensed with more emphasis on the action than the description of times and places. I am sure the reader can work it out without the need for the extra narrative. The writing style works with the story, the pace at times is a little slow but the concept of the dragons living and helping the humans is a good one.

Recommend: Dragons and Fantasy

Jaded Cover Reveal! + Extra Bonus Content

Hello! As I write this cover reveal post (you’re going to love this cover, I can tell), I am currently listening to the Gusty Garden Galaxy piece from Super Mario Galaxy while smelling hints of my dad’s barbeque… Oh how everything is slowing down! Finally, I can do things I love! I haven’t had days like these in forever. I’m now able to do more blogging, practice for music, and whatnot. Now, here’s our latest cover reveal!


Jaded by K. M. Robinson will release on June 27th by Snowy Wings Publishing!

Her father failed in his mission to take control from the Commander, a defeat that has cost Jade her life. She will die as punishment. Now she belongs to the Commander’s son—as his wife. Knowing his intent is to quietly kill her in revenge, Jade’s every move is calculated to survive—until she learns her death ensures the safety of her father and her entire town.

Roan doesn’t want to kill Jade, but once his family isolates her from her father and community, his only choice is to go through with the plan. Jade doesn’t make it easy as she tries to sway him into falling for her. Each misstep makes him question his cause. Each moment makes every decision harder, but the Commander won’t allow him to fail.

One chooses life. One chooses death. In the midst of the chaos, only one will succeed.

Continue reading “Jaded Cover Reveal! + Extra Bonus Content”

Review: Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss – The Best Biography I Have Ever Read

Hi guys! In March, I met the wonderful Andrew Maraniss- a Nashville native (Nashville has such an AMAZING author community by the way)- and I had the opportunity to be able to interview him here and be able to review his newest book Strong Inside: Young Readers Edition. It is the Young Adult version of his New York Times bestselling book Strong Inside, which is a biography on the great Perry Wallace. Now let’s get onto the review!


About the BookStrong Inside

The inspirational true story of the first African American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s -I Have a Dream- speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially-integrated state tournament.
The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free signed physical copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: My whole review can be summarized in this one sentence: Strong Inside is by far the best biography I have ever read. At the beginning of 2016, I was in a what I call a “memoir fad” when all I read were memoirs and nonfiction… thankfully it lasted for only two months. Yes, I found Martin Short’s, Tina Fey’s, and Amy Poehler’s memoirs hilariously funny (redundant, I know!) but Strong Inside tops them. I’m being serious. This book was so amazing that I’ve page flagged like 15-20 different quotes and excerpts. I mean, I devoured this book. I read half of it in a day (I know it’s for younger readers but still…) and finished it in three days!

The Life of Perry Wallace: Perry Wallace isn’t a big household name, but after reading his story, he’s like a celebrity to me. His story is very interesting and heart-wrenching. As a Tennessean, a Southerner, and an Asian in the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine what is was like living in the South in the mid-1900s. To see all this hatred and racism that happened to Wallace whenever he visited places in Mississippi, Alabama, or even in his hometown Nashville definitely makes you stop and think. I’m so surprised events like the Fisk University riots occurred in my state’s capital. It’s shocking! Wallace is also super relatable, yet his life is very interesting. No wonder why the adult version of Strong Inside is one of the required reading for all freshmen at Vanderbilt University! It definitely will change your viewpoint on the world and how racism exists in so many ways, whether it is violent or more subtle. Knowing what people like Perry Wallace had to go through definitely inspires me to treat everyone more equally.

Prose: Maraniss definitely transported me from a bus, library, and bed into Perry Wallace’s life. I mean, it’s like I could hear the taunts and racial slurs or see the games that Wallace played in. I could feel his struggles so much, and I wanted to reach out to him. It’s so haunting and chilling how Maraniss portrayed Perry Wallace’s struggles to be a pioneer in SEC sports. This is definitely a book that will last with you for a while. The author definitely sucked me into the book that I couldn’t stop! There were times I was debating on reading this book or finishing a 20-slide power on copyright. Of course I did my powerpoint, but it was hard to resist that temptation. I kept on saying “Just a one chapter or five minute break” a lot.

Just Perfect! and Concluding Thoughts: I have nothing against this book. And I mean nothing. This book is one of the best books I have read this year, no doubt. I’m not the biggest nonfiction fan, but this certainly has defied that. I would give this to younger readers if I had the opportunity to get a crate because it’s something I believe should be read everywhere. Teachers, go get this book for your classroom! You will not be disappointed. You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy Perry Wallace’s conquest for “equalizing” and integrating the college sports industry. Reading Strong Inside will change your perception about the world and the racism that is unfolding everywhere, and it will inspire you to never give up in the face of oppression.

One of My Favorite Quotes: “I’ve got to adapt and look at things not as pressures but as challenges. Life has been a series of challenges for me. I’ve just tried to meet them as they come along. If I come through now, I’ll be a better man for it. It’s a hit or miss thing. Either I’ll make it or I won’t.” – Perry Wallace


About the AuthorAndrew Maraniss 1

Strong Inside is the first book by Andrew Maraniss. A partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Andrew studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, graduating in 1992. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F. Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife, Alison, and their two young children. Follow him on Twitter @trublu24. 


Hope you enjoyed this review! Look out for upcoming reviews on Emerge by Tobie Easton, Embers in the Sea by Jennifer M. Eaton, Configured by Jenetta Penner, and many more. Plus, we’re going to interview some great authors soon and you don’t want to miss them!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Book Review: Sanctum by Madeleine Roux!

Wow. Just yesterday, I was saying how I was in the middle of this book (only on page 100 out of 340) and that it may take me a little bit longer to get it finished… boy, was I wrong.

I read until twelve at night, headphones in playing some creepy music to help the mood, so determined to find out that happens next.

Unlike my past review, this review contains NO SPOILERS. That’s right. No rant going on here, because I’m kind of satisfied.

Now, this book is actually the sequel to Roux’s Asylum, but honestly, these two books could be book by themselves. Sure, you would probably need to add in some information into Sanctum, change from history blah, blah, blah, but for the most part the plot is very unique from the first book.

Summary for Asylum

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Summary for Sanctum

Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Finally, Dan receives a list of coordinates pointing to abandoned houses in the town near Brookline, and he is convinced that the only way to end this nightmare once and for all is to return to New Hampshire College and follow the trail.

But when Dan and his friends arrive under the guise of a prospective students’ weekend, they discover that the carnival from their photos isn’t just real, it’s here on campus–it has returned for the first time in many years. And as they sneak away from their undergrad hosts to visit the houses on their list, they find secrets far darker than anything they’d imagined.

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Would this be the book for you?

Romance? Some but not very much.

Humor? I dare say at the worst times possible… aka Jordan.

Scary? I’ll talk about this further, but it was not very creepy to me at first… until I got to the end.

Vocabulary? It talks a bit about medical terms that I did not understand at first, especially in the first book. But they are easily looked up and sometimes the characters will explain what something is. Other than that, very easy read.

How much will it pull you in? I personally did not get right into it until about the middle of the book, when it gets more in depth with the mysteries of Brookline.

My overall rating…

A 4 Star

If you’re a mystery fan and just looking for something small and easy, this book would be for you. As for me, I enjoyed it because of the creepy setting it gave off and the diverse characters; and I also wanted to learn more about Brookline Asylum.

I want to make a connection to this book and Miss Peregrine’s. If you really think about it, they both don’t have that much in common, but they do both create this ominous tone through their covers and pictures. Both use actual photos to create a story by putting the photos together. By doing so, it makes the whole thing seem so much more real. I love that about a story. I love a good picture book.

So in this story, we meet Dan, Abby, and Jordan. And when I said there is not much romance, it’s more like it’s not the main point the author is trying to get at. It’s obvious that there is something going on between two of the three main characters and it makes you kind of happy when they peck each other on the cheeks and whatnot, but in the end, it’s the friendship the trio have together that really matters in this book. They all stick together, because they know if they walk away on their own… bad things will happen.

What I think is most important about this book is its mood and tone. At first, I honestly did not feel frightened or practically anything… at first. Mostly it was just some small stuff. Oh, okay. You’re in a creepy, haunted house… that’s cool. Don’t die, Dan. That’d suck. But then I was reading yesterday and got this idea to put in my headphones at ten at night and play some creepy random music from Spotify.

Booooooooooyyyyyy, I chose the best time to play the music because that is when things started to go down. One moment we’re all having a good time and the next thing you know there someone is getting their eye stabbed out, someone else is dead, and we’re all sitting together trying to figure out how not to lose our minds. Pretty awesome stuff.

And that is when I started loving on the book. Doors were opened, problems were solved.  The conclusion did not leave off on a happy note, as I will probably figure out why in the next book Catacombs. 

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My predictions? No idea. I hardly understood what “Sanctum” meant when diving into this book. The title itself if a mystery.

The only big issues I had with this book were probably the random senses of humor, (even though it does lighten the mood a little bit but kind of needs to work on when the mood should be lightened and when it shouldn’t) and the reactions of the main characters. Some times I felt like their reactions to certain situation were a little off. They seemed chill at the very beginning. Oh, you see a little ghost boy? Just eat your cereal, Dan. We don’t have time for this. It did get better towards the end, but I mean if you see someone you were just talking to dead on the ground and don’t flip out, you probably do need to see someone about that.

If you have not read either of these books and you love a good mystery, mark this on Goodreads as a To-Read and play some creepy music in the middle of the night. I sure enjoyed it.

Catch the Sparks Within! Chapters 27 and 28 by Alex Abaz

Hey, guys! We’re close to finally finishing this amazing book. It has definitely been a journey.

Click the name of the title to see Kester’s recent review on Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroder

Click the name of the title to see Kelsey’s recent review Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past by Paul Cude!

Click the name of the title to see Cayli’s recent review The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo!

Also, if you happen to be new to Abaz’s reviews by me click HERE to see the very first post and HERE to see Chapters 25 and 26 reviews! 

As I was linking the first ever review of this amazing book, I just looked at the editting and also looked back to where I was in that time. In retrospect, it was not that long ago, but I guess that’s the magic of time. I feel like I have learned a lot more about WordPress and about this blog as a whole. This is one of the best things I could ever do. I cannot wait to grow even more, and one day be able to moderate giveaways and interviews. I’m not there yet, but I’m willing to take it one step at a time. 🙂 I also noticed around the time I agreed to do these reviews, I also agreed to start a bible study group with three other great women. I feel myself growing a lot with Alex Abaz’s chapters and with the friendship I have in my bible study group.


Disclaimer: I have received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Chapter 27: Being single and independent is hard to do.

This chapter is about the importance of a romantically involved partner. Alex Abaz includes in the very beginning that people are shunned from society when someone chooses to not marry.

And this is honestly true when looking around my high school. People constantly date just because they are too embarrassed to be seen without someone. It’s getting to a point where there is no longer a commitment… They just love the fact that they are with someone. They are in love with the thought of them. I’m sure we have all read a book about this type of central idea. It stands true.

As for me? I have never dated anyone. I have never kissed anyone. And like Abaz (thought I should not at my age), I sometimes worry I will never find someone and everyone else around me will pass that threshold while I am still on the other side.

But even though it’s kind of sad, I don’t let it put me down, you know what I mean? I am not desperate. Yes, I have had boys who have come to me telling me I’m beautiful, telling me they like me. And I turn them down. And why do I do that? Because I have standards. This is not like applying for my first job. It’s deciding who will take care of me for the rest of my life. And yeah, maybe one day I will meet someone who meets my standards, and it may not work out, but at least we tried, right? Date to marry. Not to break up. That’s my number one standard. 

While we want to believe that love and passion are the emotions that bring two people together naturally, this is only true some of the time. 

Have you had a friend who thought they were completely in love with their new boyfriend they have had for a week? Who was so in love they ditch their plans with you to go hang out with them, or constantly talked about them? They post on Instagram of them kissing saying, “Love you, bae! Happy two week anniversary!” As I type this, two people are on my mind and I can’t help but smile. Kelsey knows who I am talking about.

But it is so hilarious, because they are guided strictly on love and passion. They have no standards. They believe love is all they need. Back to books and movies, we have all read or watched that movie where the main character and her/his lover are constantly arguing, constantly having different views, constantly mad at each other. Maybe I should throw Mal and Alina in as an example, but I rather not… Anyways, they go throughout the entire series, thinking love with always keep them together: Sorry to break it to you, but this is a load of toad crap. You need guidance, you need trust, you need to have a bond that doesn’t just draw you in romantically, but draws you into a healthy relationship where you two pick each other up in the down times, and you two don’t go to sleep until the argument is resolved. Going to sleep angry is the worse way to go to bed. There has to be committment. 

Now as the chapter goes on, Abaz mentions the role of marriage, and I agree when she says that marriage is not an obsession for me. Like her, I dream now of falling in love with someone and having that commitment, but the dream of growing up, going to college, and making a strong living for myself is so, so much bigger. I won’t work to please someone. When they want to step in and be like, “Oh, cool, you read books and are socially awkward? I like it!” I will happily accept it, but I will not stop and run away from my ultimate goal just to catch them.

Chapter 28: Loss in inevitable.

This chapter is about loss and the grief that comes with it.

I’m going to be completely honest: I have never had someone super important to me pass away. Sure, I’ve gone to funerals and I’ve known some of the people whom I went to see, but I never really had a high personal connection with any of them.

Which frightens me sort of. One day someone important to me will die, and it will be the first time that has ever happened me. How will I handle it? That’s a big fear of mine. I’m afraid of grieving. I see the way it hurts other people, and in truth, no one can make them stop grieving. I have heard from so many people that the pain in a loss never goes away, but it becomes manageable.

“One must feel and process the pain, the anger, and the grief until the hurt gradually subsides.”

Note that Abaz never said “until the hurt gradually goes away.” It just becomes less intense. 

But I do cry for others. Not too long ago, an unexpected death happened in my friend’s family and I went to pay my respects. She was crying when I went up to hug her and it took all of me not to cry with her. I didn’t even know the name of her grandfather, yet I understood how much he meant to her.

And I do believe in an afterlife. I believe in Heaven. I believe when I die, I will be granted the glorious gift to see Jesus, and to live my eternal life with Him. I am so scared at the thought of death. I will lay awake at night sometimes thinking about how one day I won’t be here and my name will wear through the fabrics of time until it no longer exists. That’s a scary thought. (CUE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS…) But I always calm down knowing when I die, I won’t be scared of anything anymore. And I know those around me: my brother, my mom, my dad, my grandmother, they won’t be afraid anymore either. That’s the most comforting thought.

 


So happy to have another review in!

I am currently reading five other books to review! Wish my luck, and look out for my coming up reviews. My next review on one of these books will be Sanctum by Madeleine Roux!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder – Has a Special Place in My Heart

Hey guys! You might have previously seen my interview with Monika Schröder, the author of Be Light Like a Bird, and today I am going to review her latest children’s book! But this book is not just for children; I highly recommend this for teens and adults. Now I’ll get onto the review! (By the way, here’s the interview I conducted with Monika earlier.)


About the Book: BeLightLikeaBird

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family ― and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.


Overall Thoughts: This book got me out of a reading slump, and I have rarely had times where I just did not want to read when I was reading. After the SE-YA Book Fest, I couldn’t read because I loved the festival so much and didn’t want to leave! I realized the only book that could get me out of this hangover was Be Light Like a Bird, which was by a SE-YA author. And it worked! I was hooked ever since page one, and I finished it in a day! Yes, I admit is was short since it was more of a children’s/middle grade book, but I would have stopped and taken a break for the day, but I chose not to. It was really good.

Continue reading “Review: Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder – Has a Special Place in My Heart”

Guest Post with Kristin Smith: Is Dystopian Dead?

Hi guys! The school year is wrapping up, and last week, I got done with an entire EOC, an ACT practice test, and an orchestra concert. Whew! This year has gone by so fast, and I am feeling a bit sad that it’s almost over since I’ve made so many great memories and a ton of new friends (All Northwest and All State Honor Choirs, heck yeah!), but this summer is going to be filled with a lot of reading, blogging, and music, so woo hoo! Today, I have an amazing author on our blog today, and her post is fabulous! You’ll definitely enjoy it! Here’s Kristin Smith!

A Kristin
Guest Post by Kristin Smith:
Is Dystopia Dead?
 
In the wake of some bestselling series such as HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, and THE MAZE RUNNER, some may claim that dystopia is dead—dried up and overused. Any author who writes dystopia nowadays knows that in publishing, dystopian is kind of considered a “dirty word”. Most literary agents and some publishers (especially the Big Five) are very hesitant to acquire new dystopian series because they feel the market is oversaturated. They believe the dystopian ship has sailed, and they’ve now moved on to the next trend.
But does this mean that readers want to read these books any less? Has the dystopian genre dried up? Or is there still a market for these books?
Let’s first take a look at the history of some well-known dystopian novels.
1945- Animal Farm by George Orwell

1949- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1993- The Giver by Lois Lowry
2005- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
2008- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2009- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
2010- Matched by Allie Condie
2011- Divergent by Veronica Roth
2011- Delirium by Lauren Oliver
2011- Across the Universe by Beth Revis
2011- Legend by Marie Lu
2012- The Selection by Kiera Cass
As you can see from the timeline above, dystopian novels have been around (and been popular) for decades. Sure, their popularity may come and go in waves, but if you’re a lover of speculative fiction, that love doesn’t waver, does it?

I personally have a great love for speculative fiction novels. I like that they depict a futuristic or post-apocalyptic world that is different from what we know now. Some of the novels written in this genre have been ground-breaking in their plot development and world building. Take HUNGER GAMES for example. Suzanne Collins broke the mold and set the bar pretty high when she wrote this novel, creating a world in which children have to battle to the death in the annual Games. It has become a bestselling series AND an incredible movie.

 

As a reader, I would be disenchanted if I found out that dystopian novels were no longer being picked up by publishers because of this idea that the market is “too saturated” with them. Granted, I want to read well-written novels with incredible world building, but I certainly wouldn’t want authors discouraged from writing a dystopian novel simply because “that trend is over”. Mostly because I STILL WANT TO READ THEM!
So if you’re a spec fic lover, would you want a limit placed on the number of dystopian books you have access to? Or should a reader’s voice be more important than current market trends?
Given the timeline I showed you before, I strongly believe that dystopia is NOT dead. It may be taking a hiatus, but it will be back full force in the coming years. In the meantime, there are many authors who are still writing and publishing thrilling and innovative dystopian novels. You just have to find them!

Here are some great dystopian novels published in 2016.

1) On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis 

2) Genesis Girl (Blank Slate #1) by Jennifer Bardsley

3) The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

4) Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch

5) Vicarious (Vicarious #1) by Paula Stokes

6) Catalyst (The Deception Game #1) by Kristin Smith

That’s right, you read that correctly. My own debut novel is a YA dystopian. So perhaps I’m a little biased…

Anyway, if you’re looking for a thrilling YA dystopian that has danger, deception, and swoony romance, CATALYST and FORGOTTEN are now available. (And here’s a little plug—To celebrate the release of FORGOTTEN, CATALYST is on sale this week only for $.99!) You can find them at the links below. 🙂

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Apple iBooks

NOOK

Kobo

Smashwords

Thanks for stopping by! What do you think? Is dystopia dead?

 

Author Bio:



Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

 


Thank you so much, Kristin, for coming onto our blog! This was a great post!

Here’s today’s quote of the day!

“Life isn’t one big holiday right now. I know it’s going to be rough, and I wonder if I’ll make it, but that’s when I get support from God.” – Perry Wallace in Strong Inside by Andrew Maraniss.


Happy Reading! Have a great week! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

The Sky Throne Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Chris Ledbetter

Hello! Today we have another blog tour stop for you today! Please welcome Chris Ledbetter in this interview talking about his newest book The Sky Throne! Hope you enjoy it!

THE SKY THRONE


Title: THE SKY THRONEThe Sky Throne

Author: Chris Ledbetter

Pub. Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 292

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks

Goodreads Synopsis: Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus’s quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

“Destined to have a sequel or two, young teens will appreciate the story, and teachers will appreciate that it instructs readers about the pantheon of gods.”–Kevin Beach, VOYA Magazine


About Chris: Chris

Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.

After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.

He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTubeGoodreads


Now here’s the interview!

A Chris

1.  In 10 words or less, how would you describe THE SKY THRONE?The Sky Throne

Zeus origin story. Actually, Greek Olympian gods: Origins.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

The first thing I love about writing is what we all love about reading, which is the ability to escape the real world and experience life as someone else. When I sit down to write, I am immediately transported. It’s very much like sliding a virtual reality headset down over my eyes. I began writing in 2006, almost as a dare to myself and fell in love with it ever since.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

My favorite authors are James Dashner, Jennifer Donnelly, Dan Brown, Laini Taylor, Paulo Coelho, Heather Petty, Kim Harnes, Tracy Clark. They’ve all helped to inspire and shape my writing in one form or another.

Continue reading “The Sky Throne Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Chris Ledbetter”