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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, dear Dragons! I pray you have a blessed, safe holiday and a bright and shiny 2017!

{Image by yours truly.}

<3


Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in Books

HELLO, Dragons! Today, our topic will be books. Ya know, those ever-so-wonderful things you read and secretly stroke and cuddle with? (Please tell me I'm not the only one...)

Back in January, I made a list of which books I planned to read, but, we're going to pretend I didn't do that, 'cause I only read about seven out of the twenty... (*has no comment*) 😁

Anywhozens, on to books! Stats! Pie charts! Favourite reads! Let's do this thang! 😃

{Original image source. Edited using PicMonkey.}
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At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for reading twenty books in 2016. I surpassed my goal by twenty-seven books, and read twenty-nine more than I did in 2015! (*throws herself a party*)

On to ratings... I'm rather disappointed with how many books I disliked, this year. Approximately 11% I rated one star, 21% I rated two stars, 21% three stars, 26% four stars, and 21% five stars. What is wrong with my reading list, this year?! (*glances at pile of Enclave Publishing books* I'm coming for you. I need you. It is time.)


{Created using Meta-Chart.}

Here are some of the books I loved (click on each cover to read my review):








by Anna Quindlen


Here are some others that didn't quite make it to five stars, but I still thoroughly enjoyed:








by Alan S. Blinder


And here are some of the first books I plan to get to in January (once I finish all this terrible assigned reading... UHG.):

{Image by yours truly.}

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Lastly (non-book-related stuff), here are some things I was going to mention in my December wrap-up post (which totally didn't happen):

1. Christian Lasses & Their Books. I don't think I ever mentioned it here at Whispers on the Wind, but the bloggers were chosen last month! I'm proud to introduce to ya'll Jemma (whom you may know from The Sherwood Storyteller) and Melissa (who is new to the blogging world)! You can check out our shared site at this link.

2. I've been cast in another play! I'm returning to the MEA Theatre Company to play Princess Pamina (*squeals* the role I wanted!) in a rendition of Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute. (When I say "rendition," I mean "not an opera," 'cause who on this earth who is not from a magical planet can sing opera?)

3. I got a fountain pen. Yaay! My cousins got me a notebook and pen set for Christmas, and OH MY GOODNESS, GUYS. I GOT A FOUNTAIN PEN.

4. In January, I'll be sliding off the railroad tracks (otherwise known as my blogging schedule). SO many books by authors I enjoy are releasing, and so, naturally, I want to participate in all the cover reveals and blog tours that I can. So I'm picking up my clipboard and tossing everything labeled "responsibility" out the window, all the while cackling like a madwoman! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! 😉

...Well, I suppose that's all, for now. ☺

What are some of your favourite books from 2016? Are there any new stories you're planning to check out in January? Any exciting news you're just bursting to share?

<3


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Taking Risks in the Name of Love

(Yup, I'm straying from the schedule again! 'Cause it's winter break, and why not? 😉 Hope you enjoy. ☺ ❤ )

~

{Image by yours truly.}

A few months ago, Rooglewood Press celebrated the release of their latest anthology, Five Magic Spindles, with a Facebook party in which the five authors discussed each of their stories, offered writing advice, and answered unpublished authors' questions regarding why they think they were chosen.

The year before, dozens upon dozens -- likely even hundreds -- of writers had flocked to Rooglewood Press's Five Magic Spindles event -- a creative writing contest to which they were invited to submit novellas retelling the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty.

Having entered, -- and being extremely curious how the authors were able to craft such wonderful stories -- I drooled over the Facebook party announcement for days, and eventually went out of my way to be sure I could attend. Questions for the authors flowed in, filling the event page's newsfeed as each author strove to answer every question. One of the questions I saw the most was, "How did you create a story so unique yet so true to the original story of Sleeping Beauty that you were selected to be published by Rooglewood Press?"

Ashley Stangl, author of the fifth and final novella in the collection (Out of the Tomb), gave a response that has stuck with me these past few months: "I took risks."

Risks. Oh, what frightening, frightening prospects. Aren't risks the things we wish most to avoid? Why would we want to risk losing hope? Or a limb, or even our spare pencil? So why on earth would we want to risk our beloved story not being accepted by a publisher, when we could just play it safe and give them a story most people have come to know and would probably like? Because publishers have seen those stories before; they want something grand and sparkly and new, not something they've read a trillion times over. Taking risks can be the right thing.

...I recently had the opportunity to meet with someone whom I'd been close friends with for years. The last time I'd seen them, they'd left me deeply scarred from hurtful words and actions. No doubt I had hurt them, too; still, such a thing did not make it hurt any less.

A flicker of fear kindled itself inside of me. I didn't want to see or talk to them. What if they hurt me again? No one likes to be hurt, and I was no different. At first, I resolved not to speak to them unless I was spoken to.

But then I remembered the verses about love.

1 John 4:7-8 (ESV) reads:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

"God is love..." Then came to mind 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV), which states:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

If I were to follow these verses, then wouldn't the kind thing to do be to approach this person, say "hello" or ask how they're doing? Shouldn't I be patient with them, and not be resentful of how I was treated? Shouldn't I endure, and believe they have the best intentions? Shouldn't I open my heart up to them?

The fact is, Jesus opened His heart up to everyone. He endured Judas's company, though He knew he'd eventually betray Him. He endured the mistreatment that led to the cross, though He could've called angels down to save Himself.

"Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels?" ~Matthew 26:53, ESV

Jesus is an honest, true example of love. After all He suffered, He still loved us enough to stay up there on that cross and die for our sins. To this one person, the least I could do is take the risk of being hurt again, and be kind and accepting, striving to be a good example of God's love.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." ~John 3:16-18, ESV

<3



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas (Eve), dear Dragons!! I pray you have a wonderful, snow- or rain-filled holiday, spent with loved ones!

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<3


A Christmas Gift from Me to You

I'm already posting quite a bit this month and wasn't going to do anything more, but Alea Harper's (of Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings) post on Ten Things to Do When You Can't Sleep on Christmas Eve inspired me to share a little something with ya'll. 😁

For those of you "old-timers" ( 😉 ), you may remember my sharing of a short story last December, titled Deep in the Night (I eventually took it down, just for the sake of keeping my writing close to my vest). Though it's not a Christmas story, I would like to share it with ya'll, as a Christmas gift. Deep in the Night is approximately five-hundred words, so it's fairly short. ☺

For those of you who prefer a larger text (so you can read on your kindle), select the first image to be taken to the Google Doc. Click on "file," move to "download as," and choose "PDF document." Then send the file to your kindle, and you can read it from there!

For those of you who'd rather just read it on your computer/tablet/phone, select the second image, which will take you to a regular Google Doc. ☺

Just so you know, Deep in the Night will no longer be available for public reading when 2016 ends. I'll be changing the settings from "anyone with link can view" to "private."

Anywhozens, I hope you enjoy this short story! Thank you for being here, dear Dragons! ❤

{Image by yours truly.}

{Image by yours truly.}

<3


Friday, December 23, 2016

The Smashing & Dashing 2016 Character Awards Tag

Last Saturday, Cait at Paper Fury invited her fellow bloggers to participate in a character award tag. Though I had something less exciting planned today (that was literally so boring I didn't even care), I've decided to do this, instead! Because I am spontaneous. (And I'm pretty sure I know what that word means, because I've seen it, like, five times in my life, and the first time was in the Lindsey Stirling song Spontaneous Me. *coughs*)

Anywhozens, on to the tag, the rules, and the awards! 😃

~

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Rules


  • Respond to each award with one book (the book does not have to have been published during 2016).
  • Credit and link back to Cait at Paper Fury.


Awards

1. Most relatable character:

Amanda from Once by Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J. Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand (Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington)! She's SO relatable it's crazy.

2. Most pure and precious animal companion:

Gogu from Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing! Oh. My. Stars. He's so adorable!

3. Fiercest fighter:

Ella from Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted! She's amazing!

4. Most amazing sidekick:

Persephone from Once by Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J. Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand (With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand)!! Aaaah!! So cute!!

5. One you're surprised you loved:

I think Piper from The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill? I didn't realize I'd like her as much as I did. (By the way, keep an eye out for The Lost Girl of Astor Street's release in February 2017!)

6. Best sassmaster:

I'm going to have to go with a couple, on this one! Gifford and Jane from Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows's My Lady Jane. Those characters have insta-sass installed in their brains, or something.

7. Best anti-hero:

Emperor Daican from Jaye L. Knight's The Ilyon Chronicles! (I think he's an anti-hero, because, well, he's anti-heroes.) HE WAS WRITTEN SO WELL. And his evil sidekick inspired by Richard Armitage! Wow, just wow.

8. Wickedest villain:

Arientyl from Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams. Evil itself.

9. Truly astounding worst YA parents:

Weellll... Definitely the parents in Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah. They are like the most wicked villains of all time. And the worst part about it is that they were real people. How in Gallifrey could people be so awful?

10. Truly astounding best YA parents:

Clara's parents, from Ivy Rose's The Old River Road! I mean, those are probably my favourite fictional bookish parents of the year. Maybe 'cause they're awesome, and remind me -- just a tad -- of my own? (But please know that my parents are better than any book parents. In fact, my parents are THE BEST PARENTS THERE ARE. Don't try and deny it; they're way, super cool. 😉 )

11. Best ship of them all:

Jena and a certain somebody (*winks*) from Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. Read it. Gawk over the ending. You'll know who I'm talking about.

12. The most in need of protection:

Rose from The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson. Dude, I was shocked when I found out what she was cursed with! Yikes. SO glad I'm not her.

13. Most boring:

I'm skipping this one. No author wants to be told their character is boring.

14. Best little royal:

Okay, Daniel from The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight is awesome. I can't wait to read more of his story in Exiles!

15. Very surprised they're still alive:

Adeline from Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah. Oh my stars, it's such a sad and depressing book!

16. Best at horrible decision making:

Another one for couples: Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare's play. SERIOUSLY. COULD YOU GUYS MAKE ANY WORSE DECISIONS?!

17. Cutest dork:

I suppose I'll go with Benedict from A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I consider him a dork, but I guess he's rather cute in his own way. 😉

18. Cleverest little guy:

Ella from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, I think. I haven't read any books with masterminds, yet, this year, but I enjoyed reading from the perspective of such an intelligent character.

19. Most in need of a nap:

Jace from Jaye L. Knight's The Ilyon Chronicles -- more specifically, Half-Blood. That guy needs a good doctor, a warm hug, lots of hot cocoa, a blanket, and a very long nap. (*sends Jace hugs*)

20. Want to read more about:

Cinder from Marissa Meyer's Cinder. I started Scarlet but put it down because I was so disappointed with the content. I don't want more characters, I just want to know what happens to Cinder!


~


So tell me, will you be doing this tag? I'd love to read your nominations! Feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments below!

<3


Friday, December 16, 2016

BEYOND THE HORIZON // Blog Tour

Today, an exciting new story releases from Jesseca Wheaton, author of The Silent Blade! Beyond the Horizon is a Christmas novella -- and a retelling of Cinderella, set in the midst of World War II. Here's a snippet about the book:

{Image provided by Jesseca Wheaton.}

Eliana longs to see the world beyond the mountains that tower above Salzburg, Austria, but knows that dream will never see such adventure -- and neither will she.

Surrounded by a world of cruelty, she lives for the weekly visits of Aron, a boy she met on one of her rambles through the countryside.

But as the years pass and she begins to grow older, a new and unwelcome world is opened up to her. On a fateful night at a party she vowed she'd never attend, she comes face to face with a shocking truth.

As the world around her teeters on the brink of war, Eliana struggles to figure out just where her loyalty lies; a decision that will drastically change the course of her life. Will she ever be free to see what lies beyond the horizon?




About the Author

{Image provided by Jesseca Wheaton.}

Jesseca is an eighteen-year-old daughter, sister, and child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano. And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there's no place like home.

You can connect with Jesseca via her blog, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Tour Schedule

Friday, December 16th

Saturday, December 17th


~

A Christmas novella, a Cinderella retelling, a World War II story... My, this does sound interesting! Don't forget to pick up Beyond the Horizon on Amazon, and add it to Goodreads!

<3


Friday, December 9, 2016

ONCE // Book Review

{Source.}
★☆

(Note: I received a free copy of Once in exchange for my honest review.)


The Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace Foley

★☆☆☆☆

Elisabeth's story, The Mountain of the Wolf, is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling set in the old west, following the mysterious history behind a lonely young woman named Rosa Jean.

I hate giving any book a one-star review, particularly the first in a collection. Though the writing style was good, it was a little too descriptive for my taste, and I just didn't love it. I also wasn't particularly fond of the plot, or of any of the characters. Sadly, this was a did-not-finish, for me. ☹

She But Sleepeth by Rachel Heffington

★★☆☆

Rachel's Sleeping Beauty retelling begins in modern LA, following the determination of a young set designer and her handsome intern as they venture to Romania to study the complex history of Peles Castle.

I must say, though Rachel's writing style is as rich as fudge, there were a few aspects of the story that bothered me.

For one, the amount of sorcery. Though magical content doesn't typically bother me, the way that it was presented made it seem more realistic than fictitious, and it just didn't sit well with me.

Secondly, the swearing and use of God's name in vain. Though She But Sleepeth was not drenched in such words and phrases, the amount used -- by a Christian author -- did not seem appropriate.

The beginning was a bit slow and the ending rather sudden. I also wasn't a huge fan of the romance, and didn't really connect much with any of the characters.

One of the things I did like about the book was the concept... which I would go on about (as well as Queen Elisabeth, because I would've loved to have seen her story expanded more), but... spoilers. 😉

You may want to know: There was violence, swearing, and the usage of God's name in vain, as well as rather strong magical elements.

Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington


Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. (*whispers*) That was amazing.

J. Grace's Rumpled is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin (or The Miller's Daughter, if you'd rather), little tributes to Cinderella and Beauty & the Beast weaved in. It follows the adventure of Amanda, a young woman whose father is determined to secure her future, from the point when a governor -- looking to hire a scientist who can build high-functioning artificial intelligence -- stops at their mill.

Rumpled was wonderful -- intriguing, clever, and unique.

In some ways, it seemed to nod it's head to Marissa Meyer's Cinder, but... I think this is so much better.

Rumpled was a bit like several of my favourite TV shows had a meeting and decided to turn themselves into one single book: There were elements of Once Upon a Time, Poldark, and even Downton Abbey; yet Rumpled remained a story all its own.

The writing was outstanding. J. Grace's voice is musical and refined, with just the right amount of description.

When it came to the characters-- Oh, the characters! They were so real, so alive, so human. The protagonist was very relatable, and what a bundle of fun she was!

The plot was incredible. I'm not a huge fan of Rumpelstiltskin, but J. Grace won me over completely with-- Well, I'm not going to say what. You'll have to find out for yourself. 😉 I highly doubt you'll regret it. 😊

And the romance was awesome-sauce! (*squeals*) It did seem a little unrealistic towards the very end, it was still splendid the rest of the way through, and oh-so-sweet.

The steampunk setting threw me off a little bit at first, but by the second or third chapter I was obsessed. The elements were handled very well, and I thought it very interesting how the early days of the US were recreated!

Overall, it was wonderful (and I've managed to start repeating myself, now 😜 ). So yes. Just yes.

You may want to know: There was mild kissing, very minor implications, and the use of the "d-word" once.


Sweet Remembrance by Emily Ann Putzke


Oh my stars... Where to begin?

Emily's retelling of The Little Match Girl takes place on the streets of Poland during World War II, where a twenty-one-year-old woman struggles to survive.

I'm not even sure how to write this review; there hardly seem adjectives great enough to describe it.

First off: This book captured my heart from the first page. Emily is an amazing writer. She described everything perfectly, so well that I felt the emptiness, the silence, and the love drifting through the pages; so well that I felt I was there.

Secondly: The plot. Wow-sers. Sweet Remembrance was the perfect length, and the romance was absolutely wonderful. And oh, how it tugged at my heartstrings!

Thirdly: The characters. Each character was so unique, so individual, yet meshed together so expertly with the others. It was outstanding.

You may want to know: There was violence and the one-time usage of the "ba-word."


Death Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree

★☆☆☆☆

Suzannah's Snow White retelling, Death Be Not Proud, is set in 1920s New Zealand, and is the story of a young woman with a strange connection to another girl... but what if the other girl was dead?

I really wanted to like this story, but I wasn't a huge fan of the setting, the characters, or the plot, though the writing style was good. Sadly, I'd have to say that this is another did-not-finish. ☹


With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand

★★★★☆

Hayden's story is set in renaissance Italy, a Rapunzel retelling of a young maiden locked in a tower, and a prince who just wants to find and rescue a damsel in distress.

I love Hayden's writing voice; it's so very clear yet so very elegant. In With Blossoms Gold, she delivers a story that's true to the original fairytale, but wanders off just enough.

With Blossoms Gold was witty but sweet. The characters were sensible but still a little headstrong, and I loved the quips and good-natured arguments that went on between the two protagonists.

The plot seemed ever so slightly slow at first, but soon sped up, putting an intriguing new spin on the Rapunzel story.

You may want to know: There is violence and warfare. A family is falsely accused of witchcraft, and there is the implied unfaithfulness of a character's betrothed.


~


Have you read Once, or any of these authors' other works? What did you think?

<3


Friday, December 2, 2016

Dearest December...

Dearest December,
could you stay here forever?
Better yet, might you return with some snow or some rain?

{Source.}

Dearest December,
might the weather be less bitter?
Might we please ne'er see the sun's shining face, again?

{Source.}

Dearest December,
it's been forever.
Twelve months and forever and a day.

{Source.}

Dearest December,
I see you from hither.
I see the stories you long to bring.

{Source.}

How you visited other worlds,
brought back some stories,
and spilled them into ink across old, faded pages.

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Dearest December,
might the fire be warmer?
Might there be chocolate and marshmallows, too?

{Source.}

Dearest December,
please bid farewell to the bitter weather,
and bring some cold with you, next time you come.

{Source.}

Dearest December,
I long for you forever --
for your rain and snow, which seem to be myths.

{Source.}

Dearest December,
twelve months ago,
you faded into starlight,
but you've made it back, since.

{Source.}

Dearest December,
I look forward to forever,
when you might bring your cold weather and snowflakes.

<3


Notice

As of September sixteenth, 2015, this blog has been reformatted. However, all posts before that date have not been updated to fit the new format, and may not be as simple to read.

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