Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books Read in 2013

Hello, everyone! It's time for another Top Ten Tuesday, and this post is on Top Ten Books I Read in 2013. There'll probably be quite a few series on this list, since I find it hard to pick just one book out of a series. Oh well. I'm also limiting it to new-to-me books, since I read a lot of books this year.
  1. Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. This is the kind of book that makes you think, and makes you dream. It inspires you to believe that there's more to life than what you see, that even the most unlikely people can accomplish great things. 
  2. From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson. The entire Blood of Kings trilogy is amazing, but I technically listened to the first two instead of reading them. And From Darkness Won is definitely my favorite in the trilogy. I'd like to say more, but . . . spoilers.
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I'll probably be talking about this book for a while. I really enjoyed it, and why did I not read it sooner? It's probably my new favorite dystopian book. It's really exciting, but at the same time, it makes you think. 
  4. The Books of the Infinite series by R. J. Larson. As I said in my last Top Ten Tuesdays post, both the premise and the setting of this book make it fairly unique among Christian fantasy, and I loved finding all the references to Bible stories and characters that the author squeezed in.
  5. The Sky Riders by Christopher Hopper. This book is absolutely incredible. Heartstopping action, mysteries to always keep you guessing, and it's steampunk, which just makes it more awesome. And I really want to visit Aria Prime or one of the other cities, because they sound incredible.
  6. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I've probably read this book three or four times since April. Three or four times. Since April. And I've had a pretty long to-read list since the beginning of this summer, so that's saying something. It's pretty much become my go-to book when I want something light, funny, and sweet, especially so if I want a fairy-tale feel without actually reading a remade fairytale. 
  7. The Seventh Door by Bryan Davis. I got to be a prepub reader for this book, and it was amazing. Watch for my official review once the book is released.
  8. A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr. I thought the concept of lots and readers was unique and really interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I also liked that Errol uses such an unconventional weapon. I think it's easy for fantasy writers to get stuck in the sword/bow/daggers rut, with the occasional hammer/axe/club thrown in for the big guys, so it was interesting to have a staff-wielding hero instead. 
  9. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Sci-fi remade fairytales. I never would've come up with putting the two together, but Marissa Meyer did, and she did it very well. I like the unique twist on Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, and I cannot wait for Cress to come out.
  10. The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. This is my current obsession. They're just the right blend of adventure and humor, with colorful characters and lots of surprises. 
Well, that's ten. What are your favorite books you read in 2013? Feel free to tell me in the comments, or create your own Top Ten Tuesdays post. Just be sure to link back to the Broke and Bookish blog and post the link to your post on their site.
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Random Fridays: Bookworm Things

Hey'a, everyone! This week's Random Fridays topic is Bookworm Things. Since we all know I'm a bookworm, I figured this would be a fun post to do.

We'll start with some good advice.
It's an excellent solution for many, many problems.
Because the movie is never anywhere near as good. Never.
Seriously, how are you supposed to choose, especially when there are always new books to discover and old books to reread and discover that hey, this book is more awesome than you remembered it!?
 We could probably do it too. After all, reading all those books means we know exactly what not to do. We just have to stop procrastinating first.
This happens to me a lot. Usually I solve the problem by reminding myself that I really need to write more in whatever novel I'm working on.
This is one reason I am very grateful for series of books.
And here we have a bookworm's greatest problem: fictional character love.
Why can't they be real? And preferably live near me? WHY?
 . . . Except for when this happens:
 It's worse when you see it coming, or when it's drawn out. Because no matter how much you want them to live, no matter how many times you tell them they're not allowed to die, they still die. And you can't do a thing about it except hope the author will find a way to somehow resurrect them.
Of course, sometimes when they come back, they're evil. Because you have them back, but they're not them anymore. It's hard to say which is worse.
Of course, there are less painful side effects, like this one:
True story: my aunt was asking if I had a boyfriend yet (it's not a question I get asked a lot, thankfully), and I said no, I'm not allowed to date yet. Then she asked if I had a crush. My response? "Um . . . IN BOOKS!"
Except for the little detail about those boys not being real.
I have to say that I am extremely blessed in this respect. I have quite a few friends (mostly online), as well as a little sister who I can obsess over characters with and who know what it's like to feel like the characters are real.
. . . Then again, maybe they aren't so fictional.

And in conclusion, the plight of all bookworms, writers, and dreamers:
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Want to join in the Random Fridays fun? Feel free to make a post of your own on the week's topic! Please just be sure to use the Random Fridays banner, link back to Awkwordly Emma, and post the link to your post on the Awkwordly Emma blog so other participants can check out your post. For a list of future Random Friday topics, click here

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas once again this year
And we celebrate with joy and cheer,
With family, friends, and memories,
And presents found beneath our trees.
But let us not forget the reason
That we celebrate this season.
Christ was born to shine His Light
And lead us out of darkest night.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful, blessed day!
Isusarad 'elir!*
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

*Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tagged! You know you're a writer when . . .

Hey'a! The lovely Elethia of Writing in Rivendell has tagged me with the awesome "You know you're a writer when . . ." tag! To complete this tag, I have to post four to six signs of being a writer, without knowingly copying anyone else, then tag as many other bloggers as I want.

This will be fun.

You know you're a writer when . . .
1. Something as mundane as watching/listening to your youth group leader play his guitar can inspire a character or scene in your story.
2. You refuse to go anywhere without a notebook, and one of your criteria for bags is whether or not you can fit your preferred size of notebook in it.
3. When someone asks how you are, you generally say "I'm fine" and then tell them about how your novel is going.
4. "Story research" is both what you say to excuse silly/strange things you do and to try to convince yourself that an unpleasant situation isn't as bad as it seems.
5. You've asked your sibling/friend/other family member to do a mock sword fight with you so you can figure out how a scene should go.
6. You think it's perfectly normal to go out in public with a pencil stuck in your braid/other hairdo. Doubly so if said pencil is part of your outfit and you've made sure it coordinates with your clothes.

I may or may not be guilty of all of the above. One of the above may or may not have just occurred tonight.

And for the people I tag:

-Emma of Awkwordly Emma
-IDK323 of World of Panin
-Sarah of Inklined
-Anyone else who wants to do this tag

Thanks for stopping by!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Favorite New-to-Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesdays are back! (Well, technically they were never gone; the people over at The Broke and the Bookish were still doing them. I just stopped for NaNo.) This week's theme is Top Ten Favorite New-to-Me Authors of 2013. As a note, my list is in no particular order.
  1. R. J. Larson. I like that she didn't use a medieval-ish setting like many fantasy authors and instead set her books in a world similar to the Old Testament time period. I also enjoyed finding all the different Bible stories she took inspiration from, since she used a lot of the less well-known ones.
  2. Marissa Meyer. I love remade fairy tales and I love sci-fi, and combining them was absolute genius. Plus, she does NaNoWriMo! How awesome is that?
  3. Christopher Healy. His Hero's Guide books, are hilarious. I read them, loved them, and then gave them to my little sister, who also loved them. One of my favorite parts was the little quotes at the beginning of each chapter. 
  4. Shannon Hale. I just read The Princess Academy today and really liked it, though not as much as (most of) the Books of Bayern. She does a very good job of really getting you inside a character's head. (Which can be a bad thing if you don't like the main character, but if you do like him/her, it's excellent.)
  5. Veronica Roth. Why did I not read the Divergent trilogy before? It's way less depressing than The Hunger Games, and seems to have a much better tone. It's not a specifically Christian book, but I could definitely tell that Veronica Roth is a Christian.
  6. Patrick Carr. Yes, I finally read A Cast of Stones and it was pretty awesome. Now I need to get A Hero's Lot from the library. I'm glad that the third book is apparently coming out in January.
  7. Angie Sage. If you like fantasy, you have to read the Septimus Heap series. I discovered it this summer through some friends on the Underground (who actually don't know they recommended it to me), and loved it! It's exciting, with lots of twists, but there's also quite a bit of humor, which keeps it from getting too dark.
And that's it. Hope you enjoyed my post!

Another giveaway

I feel like I'm doing a lot of advertising and not much else on this blog lately. Oh well.

Anyway, Gillian Adams is doing another winter giveaway at her blog, Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant! She's giving away the first three books in Chuck Black's Kingdom Series, the first Ranger's Apprentice book, and- most exciting to me- Kestral's Midnight Song by J.R. Parker. The last one was written by one of the Underground oldies, so quite a few people there have read it. I want to read it, but haven't been able to.

Also, the Veiled Rose read-along is still going on, and it's getting more awesome every day. You should
definitely check it out!

Finally, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is awesome. And amazing. And Tauriel was even cooler than I expected, though a certain relationship was just no. One does not do that. (Can't say exactly what, of course. Spoilers.) And oh my pumpernickel; Smaug was . . . wow. I'm kind of picky about dragons in movies/pictures because they so rarely look the way I think they should, but Smaug was pretty much perfect. And I want to live in Mirkwood, but preferably before or after it's Mirkwood, because the halls of the Elven King are beautiful. Even the dungeon level is pretty. Really. And I could talk your ear off about it, probably, but for the sake of those who haven't watched the movie yet, I won't.

Nai haryuvalyë melwa rë!*
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

*May you have a lovely day!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Veiled Rose Read-Along

Hey'a, everyone! It's the first of December, the start of the season of Christmas- and the Veiled Rose read-along!

Veiled Rose is one of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, one of my favorite series in the world. For this blogging book club, Anne Elisabeth Stengl will post on her blog every day about a new chapter of Veiled Rose. She'll give us insights into the writing club, post questions for discussion, and each week, you'll have a chance to win an autographed copy of the book! Today's post, on the prologue, was really interesting, and I'm super excited for the rest of the month. I hope you'll join in too!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, November 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 29- Huzzah!

Wordcount: 51,135
Time I finished: 12:30-ish on November 28.
Most words written in one day: 4042, on November 1.
Least words written in one day (not counting my day off): 839 on November 7.
The first thing I did after finishing: Went to my Bible Study's Thanksgiving dinner.

I won NaNoWriMo! Huzzah!

This was probably one of the harder NaNos I've done. Not as hard as last Camp NaNo last April, but still . . . hard. Thank goodness for wordcount crawls. They helped a lot, particularly during the last week or so. One in particular got me two days' worth of words in about half a day. (Which was a good thing, since I spent the next day raking leaves for a youth group fundraiser.) There were some days when I felt like I couldn't write a word and everything I did write was terrible and why couldn't this scene be over already? But I made it through with grades, health, and sanity intact.

And, like every year, it was definitely worth it. I had lots of fun, and I accomplished something I definitely wouldn't have otherwise. I faced a challenge- and conquered it. In a way, it's an adventure. (But with significantly fewer enemy attacks, near-death-experiences, days without food, and hours of walking on my part.) 

And now it's over and suddenly I have time. I have options. I don't have to spend every spare minute writing. I could start again on my rather large stack of books to read, or play on the computer without feeling guilty, or make graphics, or do some photography, or watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey extended edition (which my parents got me for my birthday).

Don't take that wrong, though. Just because I have options doesn't mean my novel is done. I still have a long way to go before I can say that. Also, I still need to finish Monster in the Castle (my Camp NaNo novel), and there's lots of writing contests I'd like to enter. I definitely don't want to make the same mistake I did last year, when I gave myself a break after NaNoWriMo and ended up barely writing anything until Camp NaNoWrimo in April. I'm hoping to stay in the habit of writing something every day. 

But NaNoWriMo is done. As a friend of mine put it, "the dragon is slain". And more projects or not, that means I can relax. 

-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Hey'a, everyone! Nope, not another NaNo update. Gillian Adams is having a giveaway of Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton over at her blog, Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant. If, like me, you've been wanting to try this book for a while, you should definitely stop by. And while you're there, check out the rest of her blog. It's pretty awesome, especially her Villains 101 posts.

And now, back to NaNoing! (Or procrastinating. That might happen too. My stack of books to read has been slowly building up over the past month and I'm not sure how long I can hold out.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 22

Wordcount: 40286 words. Huzzah!
Words Written Today: 2086

Hey, everyone! Today, I thought I'd share my go-to music for word wars/word sprints/writing at the computer.

Celtic music is pretty much my favorite (mostly) instrumental music in the world (second only to LOTR soundtracks). It's also great for when I need to really focus on getting something written, since there's no lyrics to distract me. Also, Adrian von Ziegler's music is pretty awesome. Another of my favorites is his High Fantasy Sountrack, though that's not quite as convenient as the 2 Hours of Celtic Music. Also, with this, there is no way that the music will end before I'm ready to stop writing, because I cannot think of a single time when I've written for two hours straight. (Though, now that I mention it, I'm kind of tempted to try . . . later.)

What are you listening to while you novel?

Thanks for stopping by!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 20

Wordcount: 35,874 words
Words Written Today: 1,419 words
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 248 words

Dialogue is fun. It's probably my favorite part of writing, at least until my characters run out of things to say. Also, I learn some very interesting things through dialogue. A few non-spoiler examples:
  • There are various other continents and islands in the world my novel is set in, which are unknown to nearly everyone except the crews of the various merchant vessels. The crewmembers are sworn to secrecy about these locales so that the competition will have to find the places for themselves.
  • Dragons think humans taste bad. Also, evil people might taste worse than good people.(The second statement is untested.)
  • Members of the Alyron family tend to think loudly.
  • According to Jared Alyron, the main reason he likes the company of other people is that if he tried conversing with himself, he'd already know all the answers he'd get.
  • Ariana Nernathon doesn't think I'm a very good writer.
These are all from some of my favorite conversations I've written this month. As you can probably see, I'm having a lot of fun with this novel.

How's your novel going, if you're doing NaNo? If you're not, how's your month going?
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 15

Wordcount: 27371
Words Written Today: 2206
Words I Need to Write Today: 0. Yay!

First off, DAY 15! HUZZAH! I can hardly believe the month is halfway over!

Second, no, I haven't abandoned you all. However, I have been really busy this week. I started falling behind on NaNoWriMo, and eventually it came down to a choice: I could either lose internet time or sleep. I decided sleep was a higher priority, thus why I haven't had time to post lately. And if another week goes by with no posts, well, you can probably guess what'll have happened.

Besides that, there isn't actually much to say. So I guess I'll end this with some music that I think will be encouraging for all the other WriMos out there. It's pretty much what I'd pick if I were going to choose a theme song for NaNoWriMo.

Oh, and after you listen to that, you can listen to the NaNoMusical soundtrack. Or if you have time, you could watch the NaNoMusical. They're both pretty awesome. And I have "November 1st" stuck in my head, so, yeah. Enjoy!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Goddess Tithe Review

Those who’ve read Veiled Rose, the second in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, might’ve wondered about Leonard’s travels. What happened to him on his travels aside from his stops in Shippening, Lunthea Maly, and Parumvir? Surely he didn’t make both journeys with no adventures besides those we’ve heard about?
He didn’t. Goddess Tithe is the story of Leonard’s journey from Shippening to Lunthea Maly, but it is not just his story. The story belongs to Munny, a cabin boy on the Kulap Kanya, to Tu Pich, his mentor, and to the ship’s captain, Sunan.
Like many of Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s books, my favorite part of Goddess Tithe is the characters. They seem alive, so much so that if one of them walked in my door, I’d be more surprised that he got in my house than that he was real. Besides just being real, the main characters make you like them from the start. Munny and Tu Pich seem like old friends. Captain Sunan is an excellent example of one of my favorite kinds of characters: those who are more than they seem, and certainly have had more than a few adventures of their own. The dialogue is another high point, particularly that between Munny and Leonard. Having two characters who can’t understand a word the other is saying must be challenging, but the author uses that obstacle to lighten many scenes and to help us get to know the characters.
Good characters deserve a good plot, and Goddess Tithe doesn’t fail to deliver. Set in a world like and yet unlike our own, this is a story you’ll want to savor. Some of the smallest things may prove to be important in the end, and many aspects of the story hint that this is only one small part of a much greater tale. The climax is absolutely thrilling, and though the ending is bittersweet in some ways, it’s also beautiful and satisfying. Themes of justice, grace, faithfulness, and sacrifice are woven through the story, and you’ll remember them long after its end.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Goddess Tithe. Fans of the series will love this new addition to the Tales of Goldstone Wood, but it could definitely be enjoyed without confusion by those who haven’t read the rest of the series. Either way, the only thing disappointing about Goddess Tithe is that you won’t want it to end.

Today is the official release day of Goddess Tithe! For the next three days, you can get the Kindle or Nook version of this amazing novella for 99 cents. I definitely encourage you to check it out!   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Random Fridays: Dream Vacations- Book Edition

Hey'a, everyone! I know, I said that there wouldn't be any Random Fridays during NaNoWriMo, but Emma asked me to collaborate with her on this week's, and her idea sounded so cool that I couldn't say no. This week's theme is dream vacations, but Emma and I decided to add a twist. Our vacation locations will be based on, what else, books! As a note, I haven't read all the books on this list, though the locations are all places I'd like to visit. Emma picked most of them- which was probably wise, since the majority of my favorite books are set in places you can't actually go. (E.g. Middle Earth. Or Narnia. Or any of the eight locations in my second to last Random Fridays post, which was actually on that topic.)

Anyway, time to start the grand tour! We'll begin with the place that's closest to my home (though still pretty far away).

1. New York, NY.
Book: From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg*
New York is one of those places I've wanted to go pretty much as long as I can remember and I don't even know why anymore. It probably had something to do with some book I read when I was much younger and I've forgotten about by now. (There are a lot of those.) But I wanted (and still want) to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

And we can't forget the Metropolitian Museum of Art, where The Mixed up Files is set.

Ok, enough with the big city. Let's go somewhere more relaxing.

 2. Prince Edward Island
Book: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Very relaxing-looking, wouldn't you agree?
Of course, I had to include Green Gables.
This one isn't Green Gables, but isn't it pretty?
Time to move on. NYC and Prince Edward Island were the only two locations on this side of the Atlantic; our next stop is . . . 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 6

Wordcount: 13012
Words written today: 1567
Minimum words still need to write today: 100.

"It's not alive. It's just . . . different. It's not like the land, not like the mountains. Those don't change. You know what to expect from them. The sea, it changes. You can predict the tides, sure; you can find some currents over and over again, maybe even take a good guess as to the wind and the weather. But there are currents that are there for one voyage and disappear on the next. There are currents that seem to change where they take you; one day they're safe, one day they'll drag you towards rocks or out to sea. There's strange creatures, strange lands- Berstru isn't the only land out there, Gwen. There's other islands, maybe even whole other continents."
- Jake Alyron, Destinies and Decisions.

I know this is a bit rough, but I really like this paragraph. Until I wrote it, I hadn't given much thought to the oceans in the world of my NaNo novel. They were there, they were wet, and that was all I knew. But then one of my characters, who was a sailor for a while, started talking about the ocean, and that paragraph up there happened. And now I want to somehow get my characters on a ship and out at sea, even though it doesn't fit with my plot and I know next to nothing about sailing. I guess I just have another reason to write a sequel to this after NaNoWriMo is over. 

Have you written anything lately that you really like? How's your writing going?
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 4

Wordcount: 9162
Words written today: 1323
Words I need to write today: 344, minimum

You know, I always rolled my eyes when people said that you shouldn't stop at the end of the scene, and that you should write the first sentence or paragraph of the next scene before you put down your pencil and took a break. Maybe other people needed to do that, but I didn't. I could start my writing session at the beginning of a scene, no problem!

Being an author who feels like her characters are very much real people, I'm pretty sure Jared Alyron was laughing at me yesterday morning when I found out just how wrong I was. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't figure out how to start his first scene. Eventually, I gave up and wrote about Emma, his sister, instead. She, as usual, was much more cooperative than Jared. Huzzah!

Also, I think I may have to just call these "semi-daily updates", because the whole daily updates thing doesn't seem to be working out. Oh well.
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Wordcount: 4950 (as of 2:51 P.M.)
Words Written Today: 908
Words I Need to Write Today: At least 1092

So, I didn't post an update yesterday. Sorry about that. In my defense, it was the first day. Also, I wrote 4,092 words. Since I'd doubled up on schoolwork beforehand, I spent most of the day either writing or on the computer. The one exception was when I went to Bible Study in the evening. I planned to spend today in pretty much the same way, but so far, I've been on the computer more than I've written. Procrastination strikes again! But I did write some, and I have all the rest of today to write more.

Wordcount aside, I discovered yesterday that I have a few problems with one of my main POV characters, Jake Alyron. I know his base personality and his past, but I've been having issues with how his past would affect the way he acts now. It's doubly aggravating because I roleplayed with him for at least a year, if not longer, without even considering this issue. Gah. I've asked a few friends and they gave me some fairly helpful advice, so hopefully I'll get this worked out before too long. Other than that, though, pretty much everything is going great.

Time for me to get back to writing!