Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer 2017 Reads

Hey'a, everyone! Summer is officially here (even though it feels like it's been here for a while), and with the new season comes a new books! Even though I'm still catching up on the spring releases, I'm pretty excited about some of the novels coming out in the next few months. And, as usual, I'm using today to showcase some of the ones I'm looking forward to the most.

Before I get started on that, though, a quick note: I plan to do Camp NaNoWriMo this July despite the fact that I'm probably going to be running all over the place throughout most of that month. If anyone is interested in being in a cabin with me, please tell me in the comments!

And with that, this summer's releases!

Summer 2017 Reads

1. The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson (June 1)
Ok, this one's technically already out? Which I didn't realize until just now. But June releases count as summer and I am definitely looking forward to this book. It sounds like it might be urban fantasy, which I really want to read more of, but I think it also has a touch of portal fantasy? And I'm generally super curious to find out what it actually is. Also, I don't judge books by their covers, but that cover is gorgeous.

2. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (June 6)
So this one is also already out, but in all fairness, I didn't even find the book until recently. It does sound pretty unique, though! Pirates and politics and ship-board fantasy- all things I've read a little bit of (or a lotta bit of), but generally not all together. I look forward to seeing what this holds.

3. Exiles by Jaye L. Knight (July 14)
Prince Daniel! We get to see more of Prince Daniel! I can't wait! Hopefully that'll mean twisty court intrigue as he tries to avoid his sister's attempts to discredit him, but even if it doesn't, I really like Daniel, I was quite disappointed that he didn't show up that much in the last two books, and I can't wait to see more of him here. It sounds like he gets his own subplot, basically, so yay! Of course, I want to see what the rest of my favorite characters are up to as well, especially Jace and the Altair boys. Well, Altair men; Marcus, Liam, and Kaden aren't really boys at this point. And maybe this'll be the time that I buy the book when it actually comes out instead of getting it half a year later . . .
4. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (July 18)
So this has urban fantasy and historical fantasy and time travel and heistiness and secret societies and if not for the fact that it also sounds like it'll be kind of dark, I'd say it was another of those books that could've been written just for me. Dark or not, it sounds awesome, and we've got magic in modern New York and in early 1900's New York and a heroine who can manipulate time and travel in time and just give me the book now please.
5. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (July 18)
 So the reviews for this book on Goodreads are not exactly fabulous. However, the premise is pretty cool. It's got an Indian-ish setting, which is definitely different and something I'd love to see done well, and a magical library, which is always a good thing. Apparently one of the characters, Thala, is also especially cool? We'll just have to wait and see how this goes.

6. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody (July 25)
Again, this sounds like it'll probably be pretty dark. I mean, anywhere called the "Gomorrah Festival" can't possibly just be sunshine and daisies, you know? But it's also a fantasy murder mystery set in a circus-city and it sounds absolutely fascinating. I am always down for a good fantasy mystery. Let's just hope it doesn't get so edgy that I have to set the book down . . .

 I'm mildly confused by the fact that there are apparently no books coming out in August that I'm looking forward to? I mean, yes, there's enough coming out in the previous three months to keep me busy, but still, usually August has something. Do you know of anything I missed, in August or another month? If so, please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three Sleeping Beauties Cover Reveal

Hey'a, everyone! So, my hiatus ended up lasting a little longer than anticipated, due to unexpected traveling (among other things). But I'm back now with another cover reveal for not just one but three fairy tale retellings! These retellings by Kendra E. Ardnek, Morgan Huneke, and Rachel Roden focuses on the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" and take three very different twists on the story.

First up, we have Kendra's story, Poison Kiss, which is the one I'm most excited for. Not only does it feature a very different look at the classic tale, but it also combines the story with "Puss in Boots," and let me tell you, I absolutely love a good mash-up retelling.



About the Book

Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss ... but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

About the Author
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers. 

What do you hope readers will love best about your story? 
The plot. I never write a straightforward story, and this book is no exception. I keep the story twisting all the way through.  

Find Poison Kiss on: Goodreads || Amazon 
  
Find the author on: Website || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Pinterest

As a note, Kendra previously wrote a "Sleeping Beauty" retelling: the first in the Bookania Chronicles, a humorous and surprisingly twisty series of fairytale mashups. She just finished rewriting that book, entitled Sew, It's a Quest, and the story is currently up for free on Smashwords. Eventually she plans to make it free on Amazon as well, if anyone is interested.

Our second story, Twisted Dreams, is by Morgan Huneke. I haven't read any of Morgan's previous works, though I have a few of them on my Kindle. However, this take on Sleeping Beauty sounds pretty fascinating, featuring alternate worlds and the promise of drama.


About the Book

“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancĂ©, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.
About the Author
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

What do you hope readers love best about your story?
Probably the characters. No story is really worth reading without great characters, no message really means anything without them. I hope readers will come to love Liesel, Will, and Matthew, that they will find inspiration and characters they can relate to in these three…though considering what I have planned for their futures…  

Find Twisted Dreams on: Goodreads || Amazon
 
Find the author on: Website || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Pinterest

Our third and final retelling, Rosette Thornbriar, is the debut of Rachel Roden (who happens to be Kendra's mum). I'm not sure if this is fantasy or not, but it is western, and it sounds fantastic either way. 



About the Book

Once upon a time, way out west...

Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.
About the Author
Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

What do you hope readers will love best about your story?
I really have not thought much about it. I hope readers love my story, of course. But since it is a fairly short story, it is hard to say what they might love best. It is a light-hearted western full of humor but tries to tell the story without the element of magic. I hope they like the "fun" that I put in. 
 

Find Rosette Thornbriar on: Goodreads || Amazon

Find the author on: Blog || Twitter || Pinterest

All three novels release on August 7th. For more details, keep an eye on Kendra's blog, Knitted by God's Plan.

Which of these stories are you most excited for? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Five Something Somethings Cover Reveal

Hey'a, everyone! No, I'm not back yet, but I'm super excited that, through the magic of scheduled posts, I still get to take part in the cover reveal for the next Five Something Somethings contest!  For those who don't know: this is a contest hosted by Rooglewood Press in which contestants write a novella retelling a particular fairy tale. Five winners get published in an anthology, which is sometimes just good bragging rights but can also help to jumpstart an aspiring author's career. For more information, if you're interested, you can check out the contest page.

Anyway, back to the new cover. I've been looking forward to this moment for literally two years, ever since Anne Elisabeth announced that there would be another contest after the Five Magic Spindles one- and then had to postpone the contest because she was (A)busy with other projects and (B)pregnant. Naturally, I was disappointed . . . but also still excited enough to take a guess at what fairytale it would be and write a steampunk Rapunzel retelling that would fit the contest so I'd potentially have something ready when the time came. And was my prediction right? Well, there's really only one way to tell you . . . time to reveal the cover.


. . . Aaaaaand I guessed wrong. It's not Rapunzel; it's Snow White, which means I'll have to go back to the drawing board and come up with some new ideas. Even so, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, don't you all agree? I think it's my favorite of the Five Something Somethings covers. Like the other covers, it was designed by Julia Popova, who's clearly outdone herself this time! The cover model and photographer is Wynter Clark (who has an awesome name and impressive skills, to get a shot of herself that looks good enough to put on a book cover).

What do you think of the cover? Do you plan to participate in the contest? Please tell me in the comments (even though I won't be able to respond until I come off of hiatus)!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 2017 Doings!

Hey'a, everyone! It's the end of another month- but not a crazy one, thankfully. Actually, this was the most relaxing month I've had in a while . . . but just because it was relaxing doesn't mean there's nothing to report here!

Writing!

  • On the whole, this was a pretty good writing month, possibly because I spent a lot of time in the car (it's an excellent place to write because there's no internet to distract me and I'm too scared of wasting my battery to play Solitaire or Candy Crush) and possibly because I had no schoolwork, nice weather, and a few days with good motivation.
  • In terms of actual writing, I completed two and a half flashfics (I'll post the two eventually, after I've edited them a bit) and a new scene in Destinies and Decisions. Editing was slightly less productive, but most of the work I did was on Destinies and Decisions, which I've been neglecting for a while now. (That was partially because of Camp NaNoWriMo and partially because I was procrastinating on rewriting another subplot.)
  • In addition worked on random bits of worldbuilding (dragon Riders don't get concussions! but they do have problems with cancer), part of which I actually wrote down and part of which is still in my head. I've decided to finally create a file on Evernote for all my worldbuilding info instead of just keeping it in a standard notebook, so that (A)there's less chance of losing it and (B)I can access it at any time. I still have to copy all the stuff I've done before into the file, but . . . oh well. It's a start.
  • Also, in case you missed it, I started posting Fight Song! So far, the prologue, and first two chapters are up. You don't have to read them, obviously, but if you haven't yet and you're interested . . .

Reading!

  • As I already said, May was a pretty good writing month . . . but it was an even better reading month, with a lovely blend of rereads and new books, many of which people have been recommending to me for a while.
  • In that latter category fits Plenilune, which came out . . . I want to say around the time the first Ilyon Chronicles was released? So it's been a few years, and it was before I really bought new books that I hadn't read yet. I'm honestly glad I didn't read it then; I don't think I would've appreciated it as much as I did reading it now. It is an amazing book, though dark enough in places that I'd recommend it more for mature readers.
  • Also in that category goes The Firethorn Crown, which was a pretty cool 12 Dancing Princesses retelling that Deborah O'Carroll heartily recommended to me. I enjoyed it; there's dragons (including tiny butterfly dragons!), a reasonably creepy villain, and sisters being awesome and having each other's backs. It's not my favorite 12 Dancing Princesses retelling, but it's still good (and free on Kindle, if you're interested)! I didn't enjoy the sequel, The Midsummer Captives, quite as much, maybe because I didn't connect as much with the characters and maybe because I didn't realize until after the fact that it was a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was still a good book, though, and had more dragons in it.
  • The final book in the category of heartily-recommended-to-me-reads is The Lies of Locke Lamora- and, yes, when I say "recommended" here, I mostly mean "Cait Grace yelled about it on her blog so much that I got curious." I was rather less impressed by this one than by Plenilune or the Firethorn Crown books. Don't get me wrong, the story is great, the characters likeable (mostly), and the heists and intrigue as exciting as you might want. It honestly felt the same way I think a Mistborn prequel novel about Kelsier's old crew would feel. However, there was a lot of very strong language and not-entirely-appropriate references- so much that I almost put the book down only a tenth of the way in, and enough that I can't wholeheartily recommend the book myself.
  • On the retelling side, we have the first three James Herriot biographies. I'm not sure these totally qualify as rereads, since I didn't read them myself; rather, my dad read them to me when I was younger. The whole matter started because I found the first book, All Creatures Great and Small, for 25 cents at a curriculum sale and decided to get it. I expected to be a few days getting through it (it's a relatively thick book, and I assume biographies are slow), but then I read it in roughly 24 hours and found myself in desperate need of the next one, All Things Bright and Beautiful. Thankfully, we owned that one already, and I got through it almost as quickly. The last two we had to get at the library, and I'm currently working on book three, All Things Wise and Wonderful, though not as quickly because I've been doing other things besides reading.
  • A few other books that don't fit into the heartily-recommended-to-me or rereads categories: Wires and Nerve Volume 1 is the new Lunar Chronicles graphic novel; I enjoyed it, but felt like it should've been longer. Graphic novels are tricky that way. Long May She Reign was fantasy-mystery with a scientist protagonist: something different, definitely enjoyable, and surprisingly clean, though not as amazing as I hoped. And Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's new book: sci-fi, on the darker side, not really what I expected but not bad.

Watching!

  • So many things!
  • Obviously, I finished watching Merlin and I was actually fairly satisfied with the ending? I mean, yes, I'm sad and now I want more than ever to write my modern-day continuation fanfic since BBC seems unwilling to give us a modern-day reboot. But I wasn't as upset as I expected to be.
  • Then I came home and tackled all the movies I need to catch up on. I started with the Back to the Future trilogy, specifically the second and third movie. I almost think the second might be my favorite, which is weird since usually the second is the worst in any trilogy. And, yeah, I absolutely hated the first thirty minutes of the the movie. But I actually enjoyed the rest of it quite a bit. The third one was fun as well, since it was sort of a western but also not and I didn't have to deal with everyone dying in the end, which is what usually seems to happen in westerns.
  • And then I moved on to what I was really looking forward to: the rest of the Marvel movies! All I had left was Guardians and the second two Captain America movies, plus I wanted to rewatch the first Captain America, just to refresh my memory. Guardians was fabulous- not my very favorite Marvel movie, but it's probably up there. Hopefully I'll be able to watch the second one more or less as soon as it comes out on DVD (or arrives on Netflix, if I can convince my roommate to watch it with me, since I don't think it'll be out until September).
  • Then came the Captain America movies. Rewatching the first one was actually super refreshing for two reasons. For one thing, I knew everything that happened already, which prevented the panic moments ("He has to survive! There's another movie! Right?". For another, it's one of the few Marvel movies where I never feel the need to yell at the characters for being idiots/unreasonable/etc.
  • Of course, The Winter Soldier and Civil War were considerably less relaxing . . . though TWS wasn't nearly as emotionally draining as I expected it to be. The fact that I knew most of the major twists already helped a lot. Civil War was another story- but I already posted my thoughts on it, so I won't repeat myself here.

Musings!

  • You don't have to understand something to love it; you don't have to know everything about something to like it; you don't have to be good at something to enjoy it. So often in the fandom world (and outside it too), you feel like you don't really love something if you don't know all the trivia, if you can't quote half the movie or all the best lines from the book, if you haven't read or watched it a dozen times. Or in terms of activities, people assume that if you enjoy doing something, you must be good at it in the sense of having a natural affinity for it, because why else would you keep doing it? But it's not like that. The fact that I do not know every little piece of LOTR trivia and haven't read The Silimarillion since I was eleven does not make me less of a LOTR fan than my friend whose favorite fictional character in the world is never mentioned in the main trilogy. The fact that I don't understand a lot of science and philosophy doesn't mean that I can't be fascinated by it, that I can't enjoy learning about it, that I can't appreciate all that those things give us. I can call myself a photographer even though I still don't get ISO and probably use Photoshop techniques that would make an experienced photographer recoil in horror. I can be a writer even though I don't always know what I'm doing and I couldn't explain the snowflake method to you if you offered me a million dollars. But that's ok. Storms, I don't always understand that which I love most- God, family, friends- but that doesn't mean I love them any less. And I think that's beautiful.

Life!

  • Well, there's plenty to put in here, even if it has been a fairly relaxing month. Where to start, then? I suppose at the beginning- which was also an ending. Specifically, the end of my first year of college! Finals went well; I honestly think that I stressed more about packing than I did about any of my finals. Thankfully, I ended up having no finals Thursday, the day before I was supposed to leave, so I could just pack EVERYTHING and not have to go anywhere except to eat. I still ended up stressing most of the day, trying to fit everything into roughly as many boxes and suitcases as I had with me (and kind of failing because I'd accumulated way more stuff than I had at the beginning of the year, plus I'm not an efficient packer to begin with).
  • We stopped at my grandpa's house for a day on the way home, which was nice. While we were there, my dad and I went on a photo expedition to Carrie Furnace, which used to be part of an old steel works and is now abandoned.

    Eventually I'm going to write a whole blog post about the experience and show off the pictures I took. I would've done it sooner, but all the movie-watching that I mentioned earlier kind of distracted me.
  • Then we got home, I unpacked- which was easier than packing, since I knew already where most stuff was going to go- and also went through my clothes and books to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Going through my personal bookshelves was the hardest part. I have a lot of books that I rarely, if ever, read, but I held onto because I liked them when I was younger, or because they're classics, or because I just feel like I should keep them even though I've outgrown them. But I managed, and so there's a little more space on my shelves . . . at least for now. I'm still going to try to convince my parents that I need another bookshelf later, even if I have to buy it myself.
  • That brings us to roughly the 9th of May, and you know what I've mostly done since then? Absolutely nothing. Or, sort of. I did all the reading and writing and editing and movie-watching and such that I already mentioned, so that's something, but it's a different kind of something than what I'd been doing for the last nine months, and it's lovely. There's no deadlines. No places I have to be. No reason I can't spend the morning working on a story or sit outside with a book all afternoon. Of course, there's also nothing to keep me from wasting too much time on Pinterest, but oh well . . .
  • The exception to the doing-of-nothing: last weekend, my family joined our Bible Study group from back in Virginia on a retreat at White Sulphur Springs. And, ok, there was a fair bit of doing-nothing there too. Technically I was supposed to help with meal prep, but there's a lot of other people who know a lot more about what they're doing in the kitchen than I do, so basically all I did was set stuff out on tables- and I wasn't even needed for that much, really. So I mostly ended up reading books in whatever comfortable spots I could find and chatting and playing games with friends and catching up on their lives.
  • Oh, and for anyone who remembers that I was supposed to do the #Walk30DaysChallenge and is wondering how that's going, well, it kind of didn't work out as well as I hoped. Finals week kept me busy enough that I didn't have much time to go walking. Then I got home and it was cold and wet and I started thinking "Y'know, maybe I'll just wait and try this again in June." And then I realized that maybe that wasn't a great idea and put some effort into getting regular physical exercise the rest of the month. Thankfully, the weather warmed up a bit, which allowed me to go walking a fair number of days. Plus, I managed to come up with an alternate aerobics routine for when it's too rainy to walk, so that's something.

June Plans!

  • First off: in case you can't guess from the fact that I'm posting this early or the fact that this happens basically every year: I'm going on hiatus for the next two weeks or so, during which I will have little, if any, internet access. You probably also know why I'm going on hiatus. I really don't know why I pretend you don't at this point, but I'm going to keep doing it anyway. I'd say not to go crazy while I'm gone, but I suspect that some of you won't even notice I'm not here.
  • The exception to the hiatus: I will be participating on a pretty exciting cover reveal on June 1 through the magic of prescheduled posts. I'm not going to say what cover is being revealed; you'll just have to stop by and see. (I'm giving the screen a Significant Eyebrow Wiggle here. You can't see it, so you'll just have to imagine it.)
  • During and after the hiatus, I hope to do quite a lot of reading and editing/writing. Usually I'm pretty productive during the hiatus; I generally average a book every two days, and I can often block out an hour or two solid for writing purposes. Hopefully that trend continues. And even after the hiatus, I shouldn't be super busy, so maybe I can keep up the pace?
  • One thing I'm super excited for: the announcement of the fairytale for the next Five Something Somethings contest! This contest, run by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Rooglewood Press, offers the challenge to retell a fairytale in a 20K word novella. It was canceled last year, much to my disappointment, and this is going to be the last year it's going to happen. The fairytale theme and the title of the book will be released on June 1, which means that it'll be time for me to start brainstorming so I can write my novella for July's Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • Outside of reading and writing, I hope to keep up with the whole regular-exercise thing. We'll see how it goes; I have rather limited options for where I can walk right now, and I'm getting bored of my main route (which also happens to be the best route for walking in the area).
  • There's also some stuff going on in mid-June that will keep me rather busy and might cause another brief hiatus from blogging (though not from the internet as a whole). However, I'm not sure what I can say about it right now, so . . .. yeah. Details will come when they can come.
How was your May? Any fun plans for June? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)