Book Tags

#Beforebookstagram Tag

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I was tagged on Instagram to do the #beforebookstagram challenge, and this really applies to my book blog too, since I started my IG account not long after I started my blog. So I thought it would fun to share the tag here too. 🙂

1. What was the first book you read? I don’t really remember the exact first book I read, but I remember reading and loving Ferdinand and the Bullies. Not long after that, I started reading Little Women, and throughout middle school I devoured every Nancy Drew file book I could get my hands on.😊📚📖
2. When did you start reading? Pretty much as soon as I could read on my own – by 2nd grade I was reading several books per week.

 
3. Where do you get your reading recommendations? IG, Litsy, Goodreads, and my sister.
4. What books are your favorites? Little Women, the Lunar Chronicles, and the Wendy Darling series, just to name a few.
5. What inspired you to join bookstagram? I love books and taking pictures, so it was the perfect combo.📷
6. What changed after you started your bookstagram? I found out about so many good books I hadn’t known about before, and I found a great community to share my love of books with!

What about you? When did you start your book blog or bookstagram account? Let me know in the comment. I tag whoever wants to participate!😁

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers, NaNoWriMo

A Novel Love List and Staying Inspired – #authortoolboxbloghop

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I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo again, and camp inspired today’s post. If you haven’t heard about Camp NaNoWriMo, check out my previous posts about it here, here, and here.

Each camper who participates in Camp NaNo recieves an email each day in their NaNo inbox. These email are called care packages and they are always filled with great ideas for writing, staying inspired, and staying motivated.  This specific camp care package was shared by Christina Li .

(If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, you may already know about this, but it was such a fun idea and a great way to stay inspired to write, that I wanted to share. )

The idea is to list several things that you love about your novel and then post it somewhere you will see it whenever you are working on your novel. It’s so easy to think about the things we think are poorly done in our writing, that we often overlook the things we are doing well, which is why I think this specific care package really resonated with me.

Christina Li said she usually just uses a post it note, but I thought it would be fun to take it a step further, so I got out my art supplies and made a pretty print to hang up by computer while I’m working. 🙂

Here’s what my novel love list looks like:

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What about you? Have you ever made a novel love list? What do you do to stay inspired by your current WIP? Let me know in the comments!

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To find out more or join in the fun, go here.

 

Blog tours, Book Reviews, FFBC

The Peasant’s Dream Book Review

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I’m excited to be part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour for Melanie Dickerson’s new novel The Peasant’s Dream.  I’ve read several of Melanie’s book and love that many of them are fairytale retellings. So when I saw that the FFBC was doing a book tour for her new book, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

 

About the Book

book cover (1)The Peasant’s Dream (Hagenheim #11)

by Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Fairy Tale, Retellings
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Synopsis:
In this reverse Cinderella story, a poor farmer’s son, who dreams of using his talent as a woodcarver to make a better life for himself, falls in love with a duke’s daughter and must fight for a chance to win her heart.
Adela is the youngest daughter of Duke Wilhelm of Hagenheim and is never allowed outside of the castle walls. She loves her family, but she sneaks away one day to the market in the town center. There she meets a handsome young man and wonders what it might be like to fall in love with a poor farmer with a kind heart instead of marrying the man her family is suggesting for her.
Frederick earns the income for his family and defends his mother from his father’s drunken rages. He also uses his talent and creativity to carve figures, animals, and scenes into wood, and he’s asked to carve these scenes into cathedral doors when his talent is noticed. Frederick is inspired by the sweet and beautiful Adela, but he has no knowledge of her true identity. When he gets swept up into a plan to kidnap the duke’s daughter, both are shaken by what they learn about the other.
With the heartbroken Adela resigned to an arranged marriage with her noble suitor, Frederick must decide what he’s willing to risk for love.

My Review

First off, I like the characters. I connected with Adela on a couple of levels. Like her, I grew up in a big family (though I was the oldest rather than the youngest), my parents were fairly strict so I was somewhat sheltered,  and I always had to urge to go off on my own to do things. I connected with Frederick, because growing up, my family was also poor. I appreciated all the good qualities Frederick had – he was loyal, dependable, and trustworthy, and this is not always the case for YA heroes.

There was a little bit of insta-love or at least insta-attraction, as both Adela and Frederick couldn’t stop thinking about one another after having only met once, and with hardly any conversation between them.

I enjoyed the way Melanie seamlessly weaves her faith into this story, as she is able to do with all of her stories. I liked the gender reverse fairytale spin, and of course, I’m always  a sucker for happy endings! This is a clean YA, so it’s suitable for younger teens and even pre-teens. Fans of Jessica Day George’s books and of the movie Ever After will enjoy this book (there’s no magic, but there’s a lot of interesting historical tidbits included).

About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author who combines her love for history, adventure, and romance. Her books have won a Christy Award, two Maggie Awards, The National Reader’s Choice Award, the Christian Retailing’s Best Award, the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Golden Quill, and the Carol Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children and adults in the U.S., Germany, and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing stories of love and adventure near Huntsville, Alabama.
SIDENOTE: If you’re interested, several years ago I did an interview with Melanie along with a review of The Captive Maiden.
For Writers, NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo Goal Planning with Downloadble Template

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Hi all, Camp NaNoWriMo starts today! I can’t believe it’s already July.

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I am participating in Camp again, but I realized as I was prepping that I really needed a weekly goal sheet to help me stay on track. Since I’m not writing a novel, but rather making revisions and edits, there are a lot of pieces or small jobs that go along with that: rewriting a chapter, fleshing out some research, rearranging scenes and coming up with a satisfactory timeline, and so on.

To help me keep track of what needs to be done when, I created a weekly goal sheet that helps me outline all that, and I wanted to share it with you all as I know some of you may be doing the same kind of thing for camp.

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I’ve added the Google link to the document here.  For those who would rather print it out here’s a word doc.

What about you? Are you doing Camp NaNo this year? What are your goals and how are you tracking them? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Reading Challenge

#Armedwithabingo Q2 Check-in

This year, one of the challenges I’m participating in, is #armedwithabingo hosted by Kristi and Ariel. All the details for the bingo are here, and you can check out my first post about the challenge here.

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For the first quarter, I read these books:

Poetry collection – Ink Knows No Borders

Book in the middle of a series – Blizzard of New Moon (Magic Treehouse Series) by Mary Pope Osbourne

Book published in the last decade – A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahareh Mafi

A YA novel – Heart of the Moors by Holly Black

A memoir – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Friendship/family – Drama by Reina Telgemeier

Fantasy – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Bestseller – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Meant to read last year – Final Girls by Riley Sager

Nonfiction – You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time by Patricia Marx

 

And since the last post, I’ve added these books to my bingo board:

Book published in 2020 – Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell. This is my favorite read of the year so far, and you can check out my review here.

Book with multiple POV’s – Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed

Book with a number in the title – The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie. This one was also enjoyable and though not one of Christie’s most popular series, I find I’m really enjoying the Superintendent Battle series.

Book a friend recommends – Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto.  I read this book as part of the Book Gizmo Book Club on Instagram.

A dystopian novel – The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

Not third person POV (first person POV) – Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

Book by an indie author – A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Book with a Beautiful Cover – Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel. As soon as I saw the cover for this book, I wanted to read it, even without reading the premise. 🙂

Book you saw someone else reading – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers

How about you? How are your reading challenges coming? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

Reading Challenge

My Summer Reading Plans

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Summer is finally here! It’s my favorite season, and everything seems a little better when the warm weather rolls around. It’s also a great time for reading – reading on vacation, reading outside, reading by the pool, reading at the beach – you get the idea. So I always have big reading plans for summer. Here are challenges I’ll be participating in this summer:

#30booksin3months hosted by Jessica Brody.  (Most posting for this is on Instagram.) This one is pretty simple. You have until Labor Day to read thirty books. Here’s where I’m at currently:

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#SummerFun Bingo hosted by @fourthhouseontheleft and @staycurious over on Litsy. If you don’t know what Litsy is, check out my blog post about this social media platform here. This app is totally based on books, so if you’re an avid reader, you’re going to want to check it out.

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My progress so far

My local library’s summer program:

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Each week they are releasing new challenges. Here are the challenges so far:

  1. Libraries Stand Against Racism. (reading The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas)
  2. Library Summer Reading Booklist Challenge. (reading Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison)
  3. Read a Book From a Different Perspective from your own. (reading Beautiful on the Outside: a Memoir by Adam Rippon)
  4.  Seasonal Favorites (spring, summer, winter, or fall in the book title, reading The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones)
  5. Read a Graphic Novel. (reading Anne Frank’s Diary: the Graphic Edition)

 

What about you? What are your summer reading plans? Are you participating in any summer reading challenges? Let me know in the comments!

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Using Bio Poems for Character Development – #authortoolboxbloghop

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There are a lot of questionnaires and sketch activities out there to help you develop your characters, but I recently discovered a shorter technique that helps me nail down my characters’ interests and personalities – the bio poem.

Bio poems are not long (11 lines), but they cover some of the most important things you need to know about your characters, and they always follow the same format.

Here is an example of my bio poem for my main character of my current WIP.

Marianna

Intelligent, Curious, Kind, Perceptive

Sister of Annette, Daughter of Henry and Paulina

Lover of books, learning, and adventure

Who feels love, curiosity, and fear

Who needs to find real friends, the truth, and the strength to face it

Who gives kindness, friendship, and help

Who fears the unknown, Crothingham’s spooky hallways, and Dusten

Who wants Will to still be living, her family to be safe and provided for, and to be free of Bludington

Resident of Prosera

Locklear

I’ve also included a template you can use for your own characters: here.

How about you? What techniques do you use to develop your characters? Let me know in the comments!

On an unrelated note, I’m about to start Writing Down the Bones. Who has read it and what did you think?

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To find out more or join in the fun, go here.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Redpoint Crux Book Review

TOUR BANNER (1)

I’m happy to be part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour for The Redpoint Crux. Below you’ll find the book info, my review of the book, info about the author, and don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

TRCThe Redpoint Crux

by Morgan Shamy

Publisher: The Parliament House
Release Date: June 9th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
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Synopsis:
Fans of The Phantom of the Opera and Black Swan will enjoy this thrilling debut.
When Megan Van Helsburg gets kicked off the U.S.A. Climbing Team, she has no choice but to return home and leave her climbing career behind. With no coach, no money, and no prospects, she joins the corps de ballet determined to improve her strength and agility. But the ballet theater is in dire straits. Not only do a series of murders break loose, but the ballerinas are becoming deathly thin and brain-dead. As Megan investigates, she meets Bellamy, a tortured young man who lives beneath the depths of the theater. Megan falls hard and fast for Bellamy, who becomes her mentor, but something is off about him.

It isn’t until the company announces they’re doing Giselle for the fall performance that Megan realizes the parallels between the ghost story and the lives around her. Megan must find a way to not only save her climbing career, but balance her feelings for Bellamy, and stop the murders and dying girls before she, too, is numbered among the dead.

My Review

My rating: 4 stars

This book had so many things I like  – ballerinas, haunted places, mysterious murders – and it’s a bit of a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, which I also love. The suspense built through each chapter, and kept me turning pages faster and faster until the end. The characters were intriguing, though I wished we had been able to learn more about Megan’s mom and her backstory since that was part of Megan’s growth journey. Overall, I really enjoyed the book! Fans of Tiny Pretty Things and Don’t Look Back will enjoy this book.

About the Author

Morgan Shamy is an ex-ballerina turned YA writer. She is represented by Kelly Peterson of Rees Literary Agency.
Morgan has been immersed in the arts since the young age of 4, where she trained under the tutelage of Julie and Stacey Orlob. She performed various roles alongside a professional ballet company for over seven years, and has danced on prestigious stages like soloing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
She has taught hundreds of girls in her fifteen years of teaching, where some of her students have received full-ride scholarships to schools like School of American Ballet, the Harid Conservatory, Kirov Academy of Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, to name a few.
Morgan discovered writing when her three-year-old  son was diagnosed with cancer. It was through that experience which instilled the need to share art and magic with children through words on the page. Morgan currently lives with her X-Games gold-medalist husband and four children in the cold mountains of Alaska.

Giveaway Link

Win a $10 Amazon gift card!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog tours

The Redpoint Crux Blog Tour Schedule

TOUR BANNER (1)

I’m excited to be part of The Fantastic Flying Book Club’s book tour for The Redpoint Crux by Morgan Shamy. Here is the schedule for the tour:

Blog Tour Schedule

June 3rd

June 4th

L.M. Durand – Guest Post
Captivated Reading – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Faery – Review

June 5th

Indie and Diverse – Review
Small Stained Pages – Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Life – Promotional Post

June 6th

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Books and Zebras – Review
Inktalkswithmaria – Review
The Writers’s Alley – Review + Playlist

June  7th

Bookishly Nerdy – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookish Looks – Promotional Post

June 8th

BiblioJoJo – Review + Favourite Quotes
Mahkjchi’s Not-So-Secret Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Susan Heim on Writing – Promotional Post

June 9th

Kait Plus Books – Guest Post
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist
Wishful Books Reviews – Review + Favourite Quotes

TRCThe Redpoint Crux

by Morgan Shamy
Publisher: The Parliament House
Release Date: June 9th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
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Synopsis:
Fans of The Phantom of the Opera and Black Swan will enjoy this thrilling debut.
When Megan Van Helsburg gets kicked off the U.S.A. Climbing Team, she has no choice but to return home and leave her climbing career behind. With no coach, no money, and no prospects, she joins the corps de ballet determined to improve her strength and agility. But the ballet theater is in dire straits. Not only do a series of murders break loose, but the ballerinas are becoming deathly thin and brain-dead. As Megan investigates, she meets Bellamy, a tortured young man who lives beneath the depths of the theater. Megan falls hard and fast for Bellamy, who becomes her mentor, but something is off about him.
It isn’t until the company announces they’re doing Giselle for the fall performance that Megan realizes the parallels between the ghost story and the lives around her. Megan must find a way to not only save her climbing career, but balance her feelings for Bellamy, and stop the murders and dying girls before she, too, is numbered among the dead.
#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Tips for Finding Comp Titles for your Novel – #authortoolboxbloghop

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Comp titles – the dread of every author with a novel ready to submit.  (For those who may not know, comp titles stands for comparable titles and basically means titles comparable to your book. They should be books that your ideal readers may have already read or would enjoy reading.)

Many author friends have told me that it’s just so hard to come up with comp titles because their novel isn’t really like anything else they’ve read. And while that’s true in a sense and we all want to believe our book babies are unique and unlike anything else out there, there are still some basic rules we can use to find comp titles.

Sidebar: You have to be reading a lot and reading what is popular now (something published within the last ten years) to successfully find relevant comp titles. Check out my blog post on reading as a writer here.

1. Same Genre and age group: This is pretty much a given, but it is the first thing you need to look for – novels of the same genre as yours and written for the same age group as yours.

2. Same atmosphere: Is your novel light and fun-hearted or more serious? Maybe it’s dark and a little edgy. Whatever overall atmosphere your novel is portraying, you want to find  comparable novels that have a similar atmosphere.

3. Similar elements: What is a prevalent element in your story? Is it based on a fairytale, myth, or comic/superhero? Is it focused on music, movies, or other entertainment? Maybe it deals with a life-threatening illness or coming of age. Find comparable novels with the same element(s).

Here’s how I used these tips to come up with my own comp titles for my current WIP, The Blood-Stained Key. It’s a YA fantasy, a bit dark, and is a fairytale retelling of Bluebeard. So I chose some other dark YA fantasy fairytale retellings as comp titles:

The Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (Alice in Wonderland retelling)

The Ravenspire series by CJ Redwine (a series of dark fairytale retellings)

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (A Little Mermaid retelling)

What about you? Do you struggle to find comp titles? Do you have any tips for determining comp titles? Let me know in the comments!