Friday, August 29, 2014

Random Fridays: Fall 2014 Reads
Hello! It's that time again: time to talk about the new books releasing soon. And there are some very exciting releases coming up. Like . . .
1. The Mirror of Souls by Wayne Thomas Batson. Also known as Dark Sea Annals #3. Also known as the book I have been (im)patiently waiting approximately three years for. Sir Batson has not yet given a release date, but I have heard that it's supposed to come out some time this fall. If it does not, I will be most put out. (And I need Alastair to come back. Like, now. He was awesome and what happened to him was not allowed.)

2. Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I'm always excited about a new Tales of Goldstone Wood book, and this one sounds as awesome as ever. Apparently we'll get the story of how the Dragon was bound to the Golden Stone, though that's honestly not what I'm most excited about. I want to learn more of Sunan (from Goddess Tithe), and it seems like he's going to play a major-ish role in Golden Daughter. Yay!

3. Viral Execution by Amanda Davis. Like The Mirror of Souls, I've been waiting for this one for a few years now and it's finally releasing next month! Huzzah! I had no idea until I looked it up to write this blog post- Amanda Davis has been very silent on the blogging front- so it's a very nice surprise! I can't wait to finally find out what happens to Monica and her friends. 

4. The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson. These historical fairy tale remakes are a nice shift from what I normally read, and this one sounds especially promising. Spies! Intrigue! Romance! Plus, remade fairy tales based on "The Frog Prince" seem rather rare (I can think of only two, besides this one), so I'm looking forward to seeing how Melanie handles the story.

5. Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan. It sounds like the cast of the Brotherband Chronicles might potentially meet up with that of Ranger's Apprentice. If it actually happens, there's no way it won't be awesome. Even just Gilan (who's a given), Will, and Maddie (and maybe Halt too- is he retired yet?) would be great. Of course, the Brotherband Chronicles are pretty cool; I'm sure this one will be awesome even without those old friends.

6. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Crown of Midnight dragged me into the story and left me in emotional turmoil. I've mostly recovered by now, but I still need to find out what happens next! And since Crown of Midnight was even better than Throne of Glass, here's hoping that Heir of Fire will be the best yet!

What fall releases are you looking forward to? Please tell me in the comments! Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books I Want to Read (But Don't Own Yet)
As a rule, I don't buy books I've never read unless I'm very familiar with the author and/or series. This usually doesn't inhibit my reading much; my local library has a lot of the books I might want to try, and what I can't find at the library, I can often borrow from my friends. Unfortunately, my system doesn't work all the time, especially when the books I want to read are recent debuts, self-published, or both. So, here are all the books I want (sometimes terribly) to read but can't. Yet.

1. The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis
Girl reads book. Girl gets stuck in book. Book characters are rebelling against the Author and the Plot. Can I just say: ridiculously awesome idea?

2. Resistance by Jaye L. Knight

3. One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul
For a while, my library had all of Donita K. Paul's books. Then they stopped buying her new books. I was not happy.
4. The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergen
5. The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill 
As a rule, I do not read contemporary fiction. But as an author who has, on multiple occasions, threatened to put annoying people into her stories, reading about someone who actually does that sounds pretty fun. 
 6. Kestrel's Midnight Song by J.R. Parker
7. Quest for the Ivory Sword by Emmarayn Redding
Several of my friends have written and self-published books through CreateSpace or other self-publishing programs. Quest for the Ivory Sword is one of these, and it's one of the ones I most want to buy, since Emmarayn hadn't posted the story online beforehand, as some people had.
8. Stasis by J. Tobias Buller
Another self-published book by a friend. It just came out for Kindle a few days ago, and it looks awesome.

9. Tattered Heart by Annie Jackson
10. Relic by Heather Terrell

11. The Ryn and The Remedy by Serena Chase
I keep hearing so many good things about these books, but I just can't seem to get my hands on them.
12. Five Glass Slippers by multiple authors
There you have my list! What about you? What are some books you'd like to read but can't (yet)? Please tell me in the comments!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sarah's Must-Reads

There are many books I like. There are more than a few books I love. And then there are books that I obsess over and recommend heartily to anyone who'll listen. What are these books?

I'm glad you asked.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I don't care if you don't like fantasy; you have to read these, or at least read The Hobbit. I know they're long and they can be hard to get through, but they are so incredibly worth it! Besides, they're classics.

The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
I could (and have) write an entire post about why I obsess over the Tales of Goldstone Wood. They're beautiful, amazing, and most of all, inspiring like no other books I've read. Though they're fantasy, the Tales remind me of the truth: there's more to life than what we see, and that each person is meant for more than just this world.

The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.
These books are absolutely mind-blowing. Mystery upon mystery builds up- and the answer to each mystery brings a new plot twist that makes you think "Oh my goodness; did that really just happen?" Even the smallest details can turn out to be incredibly important later on. They are a bit on the dark side, particularly the second and third books, so I'd recommend them for older or more mature readers. 
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
 Sci-fi and fairy tale remakes, when done right, are both pretty awesome on their own. Put them together and it just gets better. The Lunar Chronicles are very exciting, fun to read, and take a really unique twist on stories I love.

Dragons In Our Midst, Oracles of Fire, and The Children of the Bard series by Bryan Davis
You cannot read just one of these series. You can't. They just get better as they go on. From the first book to the last, each of these masterfully mixes awesome adventures with powerful faith-building themes. King Arthur legends are woven through the first series, and of course, there's the dragons (who are awesome). As a note, that's my personal collection in the picture, which is why The Seventh Door is an ARC instead of the pretty final version.

The Sky Riders by Christopher Hopper
Christopher Hopper is an amazing author, and this is my favorite of his books. The twists and turns of the plot keep you on the edge of your seat, but don't distract from the deeper themes. I also love the steampunk setting; it really sets this book apart from others I've read. 

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
This book is super fun. It has a nice fairy-tale feel, and I can't help laughing whenever I read it. 
So, have you read everything on my list? What are your must-read books? Please tell me in the comments! 
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Lay of the Nightblade

I love reading legends, myths, and folktales of all kinds. So, it shouldn't be surprising that my favorite part of creating a fantasy world is coming up with the history and legends of that world. One of the best-developed of these legends comes from the world of Berstru. It's called "The Lay of the Nightblade", and tells the story of one of Berstru's best-known heroes. It was originally written for a scene in my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel to be recited by a bardess, who'd later become a much more important character than she was meant to be. I recently dug the poem back up so I could write a related piece in my current WiP, and I thought that I'd share the original with all of you.
"The Lay of the Nightblade"

The moon was white,
The stars were bright,
The night was cold and dim.
Alone and fearless,
A warrior peerless,
The Nightblade it was him!

Tall and dark,
His armor, mark.
So strong of heart and limb.
His shining blade
Of star-metal made
Is known as much as him.

Long he sought
And battles fought
To find his stolen love.
His heart’s desire,
Though he could not find her,
Aranna, gift from above.

But in mountains far,
Beneath the stars,
The sorcerer is seen.
Cruel and cold,
Ages old,
The crafty Curulín.

‘Twas he who stole
With heart so cold
Aranna, true and fair.
And locked her away
From light of day
In dark fortress, oh, beware!

The Nightblade knows
The fate of those
Whom Curulín has grasped.
Wraiths and shades,
Themselves unmade,
Even Aranna fair can’t last.

To save his love
From the fate of
What all prisoners be,
The Nightblade goes,
For he knows
That in peril now is she.

Crafty Curulín
This has foreseen.
But he is undaunted still.
Monsters he sends
To make an end
And the Nightblade kill.

But none can stand
In all the land
Against the Nightblade’s sword.
Against him they fall,
One and all,
Without a single word.

And so, one day,
So the legends say,
To Curulín’s fortress he comes.
He stands before
The sorcerer’s door
And says, at the top of his lungs,

‘Foul sorcerer dark,
To my words hark!
This is the day you die!
By my blade,
You’ll be unmade,
This, today, say I!’

Curulín leered
And at him sneered.
‘Fool, you are, to dare.
Of defeating me
So you see,
You haven’t even a prayer.

You come to save
Aranna brave,
But you will fail, say I!
For you, I’ll slay
This very day,
Before the lady’s eyes.’

Aranna was brought,
And the two fought
In the courtyard then and there.
Dark and light,
In this battle, fight,
Oh Nightblade brave, beware!

The Nightblade brave
His very best gave
But against the sorcerer it was not enough!
Curulín’s art
The magic dark,
Was much more than a bluff.

Each brave attack
At front or at back
Was blocked by Curulín’s spell.
Hope faded away
As night turns to day,
And it seemed the hero’d be felled.

Then suddenly
Too quick to see
The Nightblade fell to the ground.
Curulín raised
His dark, jagged blade
And laughed a cruel and harsh sound.

Then from nearby
Both heard a cry
Of anguish at the sight.
Aranna had come free
Only to see
Her love facing death that night.

Towards sorcerer dark
She dashed, now hark!
She would not stand by on this day.
Aranna’s attack
Was quick enough that
The sorcerer could not move away.

Before her he fell
But he muttered a spell
So the moment he died, so would she.
But she did not hear
And so without fear,
She looked to destroy Curulín.

The Nightblade rose
And it seemed to those
Who watched the battle that day,
That he’d become
A deadlier one
Than any of them could then say.

Then through the heart
Of the sorcerer dark
The Nightblade drove his sword.
But alas, alas,
What came to pass
Was from the sorcerer’s word.

Though Aranna was safe
From life as a wraith,
She fell and took her last breath.
He saw it too late
To stop her fate,
And from him she was taken by death.

The Nightblade wept,
Then from Berstru he left.
Never to return again.
He laid down his sword
And with these parting words
His tale must come to an end.

‘If there comes a day
When hope is taken away
Another will rise in my stead.
Undefeated they’ll be,
Like you said of me,
And by them many will be led.

So watch for my heir
When evil does dare
To rear its ugly head.
The hero will come
And rise like the sun
And the Nightblade will shine once again.
On a side note, the nature of this poem has changed since I first wrote it. Originally, it was meant to be a complete work, but I've since decided that the actual lay is considerably longer- too long to be recited in a single evening. This is simply the most famous portion. I'm not sure whether or not I'll write the rest, though I'd like to sometime.

What do you think of "The Lay of the Nightblade"? Have you created any legends or such for your own stories? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)