Sunday, December 31, 2017

November+December Doings 2017!

So, yes, I never actually got around to doing a monthly recap last month . . . oops. In my defense, November was an interesting month, and by interesting, I mean that about half of it was very chill and the other half I spent mentally screaming whenever my professors mentioned how few class days we had left or I thought about all the things I wanted and needed to do. Ah, the joys of almost-finals . . . and, of course, NaNoWriMo, because that happened. And then December was finals- which was actually pretty chill, because I finished on Wednesday and could've finished Tuesday if I'd had my act together a little more- and CHRISTMAS BREAK, which is still happening now and is obviously the best thing ever.


  • My official NaNoWriMo goal was 25 hours; my unofficial goal was to get through my first edit of Blood in the Snow and work through as much of my second edit as possible. I decided to go with an hour-based goal because, for one thing, I didn't know precisely how many words I'd need to write, and, for another, I thought it would be less stressful than having a daily wordcount to reach, since editing can have a much more variable pace than writing. Despite this, I still felt on more than one occasion that I wouldn't finish on time . . . but I managed in the end, hitting my official goal on the very last day of Thanksgiving break.
  • Between then and the end of the month, I continued to edit and got about halfway through the second version, cutting roughly 5K words. I then proceeded to take a way-too-long break so I could work on final projects and because I got stuck on a scene.
  • Finally, literally a week before the deadline, I got back to work and . . . um. Did not edit like a madwoman for the next week, because I was scared and procrastinating, because once I finish I have to actually let people read the book, and yeah, I want people to read it but I also don't want people to tell me I'm a horrible writer or that I accidentally morally offended someone because I'm an American trying to write an Asian-esque culture and yeah. I mean, I do want to know those things- the second, at least- so I can fix them? But . . . yeah. I'm human. I'm a mess sometimes. I'm working on it.
  • But now it's finished and sent in and I'm going to try very hard not to think about it for the next three months because worrying is a good way to go crazy.


  • I guess this isn't really surprising, given all the writing and schoolwork I've done this month, but . . . I only actually read one full book in November, despite the fact that Oathbringer and Weave a Circle Round released, I picked up several new eBooks on Black Friday, my roommate and I are in the middle of reading the Harry Potter series, and I still need to read Exiles.
  • On the upside, that one book was a good one: Turtles All the Way Down, John Green's latest release. Though I'm a Vlogbrothers fan and will at least consider just about any YouTube video involving John, Turtles is my first venture into his books. I was pleasantly surprised; usually contemporary isn't my thing, but this particular contemporary gets at the type of real that I normally only find in fantasy. Also, there were occasional references to things John's discussed in his videos (or possibly the things discussed in the videos were references to things in his book), and noticing those made me happy.
  • Besides Turtles, I reread That Hideous Strength and enjoyed it far more than I did the first time. It's definitely not a fast book, or one you're likely to appreciate if you don't understand the culture and time Lewis was writing to and from, but since I have a better grasp of that culture now (thanks, Honors Program!), I got a lot more out of it. I also read it with a journal on hand, encouraging myself to take a more thoughtful approach to reading, so I think that helped too. And I could more easily recognize the different modes of manipulation and propaganda and all that . . . it's kind of scary in some respects, because some of Lewis's words could perfectly describe what's going on today.
  • Oh, and I got a new bookshelf! And it's super pretty and big, and it's Amish, so, yeah, really nice and sturdy and high-quality. It makes me very happy. I still need to reorganize my books now that I have more space, but hopefully I'll find time for that this week.
  • December, on the other hand, was a much better reading month, because I was home for half of it and could catch up on all the reading I didn't do the rest of the semester. I spent the first week- well, mostly knitting, but when I wasn't knitting, I read Weave a Circle Round (which was excellent) and reread books to catch up for new releases. Then the week after Christmas I dug into those new releases . . . which means I basically killed myself with feels the week after Christmas by reading The Dire King and Oathbringer, but oh well. I regret nothing.
  • (Actually, Oathbringer wasn't that feels-heavy. Or hasn't been so far, other than the fact that I'm worried about Shallan. I suspect that'll change soon, though.)


  • Yep. The roommate and I are still watching Fairy Tail. We intended to get through three arcs before break, but only managed two, Daphne and Edolas arc. Daphne was ok; I was annoyed with Grey but otherwise it was pretty interesting. Edolas, on the other hand, happens to be one of my roommate's favorite arcs. I enjoyed it, though I don't think it's my favorite. It's definitely unique and interesting and all, plus it has Mystogan backstory and he's basically one of my top ten favorite characters in the entire show, maybe one of my top five, so yay for that- even if he wasn't actually in it half as much as I wanted him to be.
  • That said, the epic boss fight at the end was a three-way Dragon Slayer teamup and it was absolutely the best thing in that show to date. (Well, that and "A bunch of stuff happened and now we're here," and "Wait! There's an unnecessarily complicated explanation!", the latter of which basically sums up everything about the show and the former of which just amuses me a lot.) Gajeel ate the dragon, y'all. And that makes no sense out of context but yeah.
  • I also ended up rewatching a bunch of Fairy Tail episodes because I had a lot of knitting to do and couldn't decide on an audiobook. So . . . yeah. That happened.
  • In addition, my sister and I are watching the Lord of the Rings extended editions! She's never seen them- which is my fault; I keep asking her to wait for me and then we run out of time on breaks- and I need to watch them again, so yeah.
  • And we watched Christmas movies. Obviously. Before and on Christmas, we got through Rudolph (which is fine) and The Little Drummer Boy (which is . . . not like I remembered?) and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (which I'd never actually watched before and don't plan to watch again). Then after Christmas we finally got to the good ones: White Christmas and A Christmas Carol (the 1984 version, which features a ridiculous number of redheads for some reason).


  • . . . I don't even remember half of what happened in November, honestly. There was a lot of running around trying to get everything done, I know that much.
  • Towards the beginning of the month, I had mock interviews, both phone and face-to-face, for my Portfolio class, which went a lot better than I expected. I was pretty nervous going into them; even if my career wasn't at stake, my grade was, and I freely admit that verbal communication is one of my weak points. (As I told a friend one day, I'm a professional writing major, not a professional talking major.) The first phone interview was especially stressful, since several of the questions caught me off guard. But, on the upside, one of the people I interviewed with said she would've hired me if it were an actual interview, so that's pretty awesome.
  • Also, partially because of one of the interviews and partially because of my intro-to-the-major class, I found out that I might be interested in instructional design, not just corporate comm. They both seem to involve a lot of variety and a good mix of writing and design, which really excites me, and I feel like helping people learn, understand, and remember concepts and skills and such better would be pretty cool. I should have an actual class on the topic next fall, so we'll see what I think once I actually give it a try, but . . . yeah. I have another idea for what I might do with my life.
  • Midway through the month, I had a free Saturday night, so I decided to treat myself to some culture by attending my university's dance showcase . . . and all I have to say is: Wow. Seriously. Wow.
  • (Ok, I actually have more to say than just that.)
  • I didn't know until now that I really liked dance that much; like, I thought it was cool and impressive and pretty, but I didn't really get it? But the showcase had a lot of swing dancing and a lot of . . . I don't know the technical word, but it was less stylized, sort of? More rough and forceful and in-your-face. Like, the type of dance I'm familiar with, aside from Irish dance, is sort of like poetry, or hymns, where it's real, but it's also very graceful and elegant and probably highly symbolic but I don't understand the symbolism and it all seems very distant. But this dancing was more like really good, really exciting prose, even though it's still poetic in a way? And I could understand what was going on, and why the dancer put this action with this part of the song, and it just made sense. So, yeah. That made me happy.
  • And then the week after that was Thanksgiving break! So I got to go home! And it was lovely! And that's when I found out about my new bookshelf, because my family bought it for me as a surprise. Plus we had Thanksgiving with our Bible study, which was fun, and we put up the Christmas tree, and my mom made a pecan pie, and I didn't really get half as much work done as I meant to, but oh well.
  • And then I got back to college and it was finals and everything was running around screaming- mentally. Not literally. I leave the running and screaming to my friends.
  • Also, CHRISTMAS! I ended up photographing the campus Christmas celebrations for the newspaper, which meant I got paid to go see all the decorated dorms and stuff- which I wanted to do, but without the extra motivation, I probably would've ended early and missed out on some of what ended up being my favorite decoration setups. (Also, I got to see the inside of the newest dorm on campus and it is nice, let me tell you.) So, yeah. Best assignment ever.
  • Then I finally got to go home on Christmas break, where I spent most of the first week frantically knitting so I could finish Christmas presents on time. Christmas itself was lovely and more relaxing, for me at least, than some other years have been. Also, I acquired several of my favorite books from this past year, so yay for that!
  • Also before Christmas, my family went down (up?) to DC and visited the Museum of the Bible and the National Christmas Tree. The museum was pretty cool, particularly the exhibit on the history of Bible versions and translations and such. As for the National Tree, well, it's about how I remember it. Seeing it again was nice, but by that point I was tired (and hungry, because I missed lunch) so I didn't enjoy it as much as I might've.
  • And now it's New Year's Eve and my Bible Study always holds a party- with the countdown at 8 or 9, not 12, because small children- and I'm quite looking forward to that. Hopefully there'll be board games and the right people to play them with, but if not . . . oh well. I know there'll be good food and a chance to see friends, so it'll be fun whatever happens.

January Plans!

  • I need to decide on a writing project for the month. I should probably get back to work on editing Fight Song, but I need to do some research first. I'm thinking of setting another time-based goal for the month, probably something along the lines of a half-hour a day, because I know I can get that in but it won't cut into other stuff as much as the full hour I needed for NaNoWriMo did. I don't know; I'll decide tomorrow.
  • Obviously, classes start up again in about a week, so . . . there's that. All but one of my classes are for either my major or my minor (Graphic Design), which should be fun. I hope it'll be fun. I have to take an hour-and-a-half class on editing at 8:30 in the morning, which probably won't be fun, but what can you do?
  • I have reading to catch up on, of course. There's always reading to catch up on. I still need to read Exiles (yes, I know, I'm a terrible person) and a few other releases from this past year, plus I really should stop procrastinating on Wheel of Time . . . oh well.
  • Also, my sister and I are going to watch and rewatch (respectively) The Lord of the Rings extended editions! This is her first time watching LOTR, because I kept insisting that she wait for me to watch them with her, and we're both pretty excited. We wanted to watch them sooner over break, but I had to finish Blood in the Snow and she's a wonderfully patient person, so yeah.
  • I may have a few other plans too, but I'll talk more about those in my 2018 goals post, which should release either tonight or tomorrow. So stay tuned for that!
How were your holidays? Are you caught up on your 2017 releases, or do you, like me, still have some that you need to get to? Any fun plans for January? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)   

Friday, December 29, 2017

End-of-Year Book Freakout "Tag" 2017

2017 is nearly at an end, y'all . . . and that means it's time for the second half of my "Best of" book roundup! Once again, I'm using my modified End-of-Year Book Freakout tag because that's a lot more fun than just trying to compile a list of X favorites (and low-key angsting about how to pick one book over another because they're ALL awesome, just in different ways and yeah). So, let's go!

1. Best book you've read in the second half of 2017:
I've read a lot of good books this half of the year . . . but since this is the best book, not the best sequel, I'm going to say that this is a tie between two:

Before She Ignites is pretty unusual for the fantasy genre, particularly YA fantasy. Most of it takes place in a prison. There's not a lot of action and quite a lot of political maneuvering. A few characters have special powers, but those aren't the focus. It's not set in a facsimile of Medieval Europe but rather in a country reminiscent of some of the Pacific Islands. The main character is the Chosen One, in a sense, but that's almost an arbitrary title, and she's really an ordinary girl in an extraordinary position. And the book actually touches on some pretty serious real issues and, in my opinion, handles them well. Plus, there's dragons. What more could you want?

Weave a Circle Round is another rather unusual book, one that involves time travel and stories and a personification of the eternal conflict between Reason and Chaos. I'm very fond of the last bit. Any story with a personification of chaos is practically guaranteed to be awesome. This is Kari Maaren's first novel, but she's the author/artist of two of my favorite webcomics, West of Bathurst and It Never Rains. True to the form established in those stories, Weave a Circle Round begins as almost magical realism or very odd contemporary, with all the strangeness probably explainable by natural causes or unreliable senses . . . but then the time travel kicks in. Also as usual, the protagonist of Weave a Circle Round tends to, as the author puts it, "muddle through" her adventure, which, honestly, is what I'd probably do in her place and is quite relatable on the whole.

Also, while it's not quite as high on the list, I'd like to mention Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World, Bryan Davis's latest release. It's middle-grade, but super fun and pretty unique for a superhero novel.
2. Best sequel you've read in the second half of 2017:
I think we all know what I'm going to say here:

I'm technically still reading Oathbringer, Brandon Sanderson's latest release, but it's easily shaping up to be not just one of the best sequels of the year but one of the best books overall. We've got answers, we've got new questions, we've got increased conflict both external and internal, we've got spren both awesome (allo, Syl and Pattern!) and creepy . . .  And we've got Dalinar flashbacks, which is interesting, to say the least. Dalinar was very different in his youth from the man we know now. Also, Shallan is awesome even if she's making me a bit nervous currently. Just sayin'.

Of course, there are a few other sequels that are well worth mentioning. In order of publication:

Thick as Thieves had a distinct lack of Eugenides but managed to be awesome anyway. Plus it's a Persia-esque setting, which is pretty unique.

And The Dire King was a magnificent finale to the series- epic, thrilling, feels-heavy but not lacking in the usual Jackaby humor, with an ending that's just- I can't even. I can't.
3. New release you haven't read yet but want to: 
There are a few more of these than I'd like . . . college life is not exactly what you'd call convenient for keeping up with new releases unless you're willing to spend a small fortune every month and have a lot of storage space. That said, at the top of the list is:

The Lost Plot! The latest Invisible Library book! It's out, it's out, it's ouuuuuuuttttttt! (And I didn't realize it until earlier this week!) And I need it yesterday!

Of course, there's a few others that I'm also looking forward to. For example:

The Empty Grave is the latest and last in the Lockwood and Co. series, and while I nearly gave up on it after The Hollow Boy, The Creeping Shadow convinced me to see the series through to the end.

An Enchantment of Ravens sounds like a unique fantasy story; a bit heavier on the romance than I think I usually read, but still fun, and it's gotten great reviews from a lot of my friends.

Renegades is the latest book from Marissa Meyer. From the reviews and excerpts I've read, I'm not expecting to like this as much as I do The Lunar Chronicles, but it should still be pretty cool.
4. Most anticipated release for next year:
Brandon Sanderson is releasing another YA novel! It's called Skyward and is apparently a sci-fi take on the "boy and his dragon" storyline, involving mysterious aliens, a girl who wants to be a pilot, and a sentient (or, at least, soul-bearing) spaceship. Sanderson says that it's not in the Cosmere or Reckoners universes, but that it is in the continuity of something else he's written. So, that means it could be connected to Alcatraz, the Legion books, Perfect State, Snapshot, or The Rithmatist. I'm not sure which it'll be, but my money's on Perfect State, since the premise of that universe allows for near-infinite genres and storylines.

A few other books I'm excited for:

Ink, Iron, and Glass I mentioned in my Winter 2017-18 Reads post, but if you missed that: it's steampunk, involves writers who can bring their worlds to life, and generally sounds pretty awesome.

The Penderwicks at Last is the final book in a series I've been reading for a while now. It's contemporary, but I love it anyway, and while I'm sad the series is almost over, I'm excited to see how it ends.

And, finally, Fawkes is historical fantasy and should be pretty exciting. Plus, while I haven't read anything by Nadine Brandes yet, I've heard she's a very good author.

5. Biggest disappointment:

Shadow Run was undoubtedly the biggest disappointment of the entire year. I was promised Firefly and a very cool premise. Instead, I got the biggest mess of cliches I'd read in a long while and a romance that completely overshadowed the actual plot. Yeah. I'm still bitter, if you can't tell.

6. Biggest surprise:

I don't normally read contemporary; quite honestly, I associate it with romantic fluff, overblown teenage angst, boy/friendship drama, and questionable content. So, while I enjoy John Green from vlogbrothers and such, I was a bit nervous when I ended up reading Turtles All the Way Down so I could review it for my college newspaper. Yet this book is honestly one of the better ones I've read this year; it's powerful and poignant and philosophical, and, yes, there's angst and drama, but it's well done, and the story touches that deeper Reality which is so vibrant in the good spec-fic I love. Plus, there's a refreshing lack of romantic fluff (even less than in most fantasy novels) and, other than one scene, not a lot of questionable content either.

7. Favorite new-to-you author:
I'm going to go with Kyle Robert Schultz, author of The Beast of Talesend and the rest of the Beaumont and Beasley books. I've only read the first of these books, but it was wonderful and mysterious and steampunky and a brilliant mix of fairy tale and original material and yeah. I want to read the rest of the series yesterday.

8. Newest fictional crush/ship:
Um. I don't really have any new crushes or ships that I feel strongly about? So instead I'm just going to say that Charlie and Abigail from Jackaby are still one of the best things ever, as is Shadolin Shallan x Adolin) from the Stormlight Archive. (Shaladin shippers, I refer you to literally every interaction between Shallan and Adolin in Part 1 of Oathbringer.) Also, I knew (spoiler for Ghostly Echoes + The Dire King) Jackaby and Jenny were a thing, but I didn't realize just how much I like them as a thing until I read The Dire King.

9. Newest favorite characters:
Oooooh. Definitely new people here.
  • Nick, Cordelia, and Crispin from The Beast of Talesend are absolutely perfect and I love their personalities and character dynamics and interactions and YES.
  • Cuerva Lachance from Weave a Circle Round is . . . I don't even know how to properly describe her. She's mysterious and enigmatic and strange and amusing and terrifying and does things because they're impossible and might be one of my favorite parts of the book.  
  • I rediscovered how awesome Ransom from C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy is. I have some friends who really like him, and yeah, I can see why. I'm also 99.9% certain that he's based off Tolkien, so . . . yeah.
  • Eddie, Damocles, and Gilbert from Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World are all also awesome in their own way: Eddie's super relatable for a 12-year-old boy, Damocles is . . . he's a character and I sometimes don't quite know what to do with him, but he's interesting and I love him, and Gilbert is just fun. So, yeah.
I feel like I should have someone from Harry Potter on here, since I finally started reading the series? But while I do quite like certain characters (*cough*everyWeasleyeveryes*cough*andalsoHagrid*cough*), I'm not sure if they make the top list? Plus I read so many AU and headcanon sort of things on Pinterest that I don't always know what in my head is real about the characters and what's just something that someone else came up with. It's a problem. 

10. A book that made you cry:
No crying, but while reading The Dire King, the conclusion to the Jackaby series, I did much "Nonononono"-ing. Also some quiet screaming, not-so-quiet keening, and possibly a bit of whimpering. The book killed me with feels, basically. I'm still not over it.

11. A book that made you happy:

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans is absolutely adorable, ok? It's got a precocious young girl and a crotchety old lady dragon and a lovely mixing of magic and reality and just makes my heart happy in general. The rest of the series is good too, but the first book is undoubtedly the best.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you've seen this half of the year:
Um. I rewatched the LOTR extended editions. Does that count?

13. Favorite post(s) you've done this half of the year:
I really enjoyed finally writing my Plantser's Guide to Worldbuilding! Also, I wrote a thing. It involves food, love, and magic, and what else do you really need in life?
14. Most beautiful book you've bought/received this half of the year:

I'm going to take a moment to gush again about the prettiness of the new version of Do You Take This Quest? Story-wise, it's still not my favorite of the Bookania Quests, but the cover is my favorite; I love the purple and the watercolor feel and the softness and it just makes me happy for some reason.

15. Any other books you want to babble about for any other reason?
As per the usual, a few books that I still need to read even though they're no longer really recent releases:

Exiles by Jaye L. Knight remains on my TBR list, despite the fact that I've owned the book since September. I hope to fix that by the end of break, though. And eventually I need to break this wait-forever-to-read-Ilyon streak that I have going.

 The Last Magician came out in July, but I haven't been able to get ahold of it until now because libraries are uncooperative. Also, college. I checked it out from the library yesterday; hopefully I'll manage to read it before break ends.

I still haven't read The Lord of Chaos or any other Wheel of Time books, despite the fact that I own significantly more of them. In my defense, they're long and not half as exciting as Sanderson, and therefore I have to work myself up to them.

Also, I finally got ahold of the whole Spellsmith and Carver series, including an actual physical copy of the first book, so I really want to read those . . . I just have to find the right time, when another book isn't higher priority.

And there you have it! Feel free to borrow this tag for your own end-of-year posts or to answer in comments any of the questions that piqued your interest. I'd love to hear what you've been reading lately!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christianity and Mythology: Daniel and the Triune Quest Blog Tour

Want to win prizes? Look for the secret word in this post and follow the Rafflecopter giveaway instructions at the end.

Hey'a, everyone! Christmas break is upon us, or nearly upon us, and that hopefully means that we all suddenly have about 5x as much time for reading as we did a week ago. Huzzah! Some of us already have a long list of books to catch up on, but for those who don't- or for those who, like me, might wonder to themselves why they can't say no to another book- I'm here to tell you about a new Middle Grade Christian fantasy release: Daniel and the Triune Quest. This book is the second in Nathan Lumbatis's Sons and Daughters series, which combines a modern setting with Aztec mythology and honestly sounds pretty cool. Better still, the author is also here with a guest post about how he decided to combine Christianity and mythology, plus there's a giveaway at the end! But first, a little about the book and author:

About the Book
The past year of Daniel’s life has been anything but normal. Adoption by his Heavenly Father? Check. Become the Vessel for the mystical Sun Sword? Check. Charged with a quest to fight the source of all evil? Check. But hey, he made it look good.

Now it’s his best friend, Ben’s, turn to become the Vessel for the Triune Shield, and Daniel’s ready to lead the charge on another adventure. But, they only have three days to find the shield before the Enemy catches up, and obtaining it will require the last thing either of the boys is ready for: self-sacrifice. Daniel must die to his pride, and Ben must pay the ultimate price. They’ll need a miracle if they hope to survive.

Find it on: Author site || Amazon || Goodreads

To learn more about the first book in the series, Daniel and the Sun Sword, feel free to check it out on Amazon or Goodreads or watch the book trailer. 

About the Author
Nathan grew up in the woods of Alabama, where he spent his time exploring, hiking, and dreaming up stories. Now, as a child/adolescent therapist and author, he’s teaching kids and teens how to redeem their stories using Biblical principles. He still lives in Alabama, where you will find him with his wife and three kids every chance he gets.​

Find Nathan on: Author Site || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram (nathan.lumbatis)

Guest Post: Christianity and Mythology

 Speculative Fiction begins by presuming the basics of a Christian worldview and then asking "What if?". One of the central What if's of Daniel and the Triune Quest, and the Sons and Daughters series as a whole, has to do with the origin of worldwide mythologies: What if every culture's myths grew out of man's fallen memory of the one true God, his plan for redemption, and the rebellion of dark angels? Wouldn't there be traces of truth and the thread of redemption in those ancient stories? 

No doubt some believe as much. For Christians, we find support for this in at least two places. According to legend, the Mazzaroth, the Jewish zodiac, was a mnemonic device for orally teaching the story of redemption since the time of Adam. It’s easy to imagine how details could be lost and altered through oral tradition passed down over the centuries, which would then be woven into myth.

Even more interesting in my mind is the fallen angel theory which most church fathers, and nearly the entire Jewish culture of the 2nd temple period (525 B.C. to 70 A.D.) believed. For those unfamiliar with this, this is the theory that fallen angels had children with mortal women, thus giving rise to “demigods.” Scriptural reference for this would be Genesis 6, Numbers 13, 2 Peter 2, Jude 4-8, among others. For an exhaustive, and terribly interesting discussion of this, I recommend you to Dr. Mike Heiser’s book, The Unseen Realm. With this view in mind, it’s no surprise that such detailed mythologies could arise throughout the world: they weren’t just imagination, but were based on eye witness accounts of supernatural beings interacting with mortals.

For nerds like me, the real fun starts when you begin looking for the roots of truth in ancient mythologies. It’s like a scavenger hunt for dorks.

So, what are we looking for? Let’s set our parameters as:
1)     An all-powerful creator-god or supernatural force
2)     A race of lesser beings; mortal and in peril
3)     A god-man who plays some sort of savior role
4)     A god or an immortal filled with evil or destructive power

Here are three myths* that fit the bill. Since the first book in the Sons and Daughters series, Daniel and the Sun Sword, took place in Peru, we’ll look at the Incan myths woven into that story first. We’ll then move on to the Indian myths included in Daniel and the Triune Quest, and then one extra mythology just for good measure.

Incan Myths
Viracocha: The Incan creator-god. After creating the natural world and the cosmos, he turned his mind to mankind. His first attempt at creating people displeased him, as the first versions were brainless giants. So, he wiped them out with a flood, and created a less barbaric race. Then, he took to wandering the world as a kindly beggar, helping those in need, and appearing in times of trouble.
Mankind: Men were created when Viracocha breathed life into stones. They were seen as his children, and he loved them as a father.
 Inti: The god of the sun and the son of Viracocha. After being sent to earth by his father, he and his sister-wife, Mama Killa, taught mankind the basics of life and founded the great city of Cuzco
Supai: The Incan god of the dead, king of the demons, and the ruler of the underworld. He was such a nasty fellow, in fact, that the Incans would sacrifice their children to appease him.

Indian Myths
Indian myths are very different from other ancient stories, in part because there is so much variation, philosophy, and moral ambiguity. More specifically, evil and good are not so clearly defined, and elements of both frequently show up in even the most revered of gods.

Because of this, you’ll notice that what appears to be the most obvious parallel, is not always the best choice.

Brahman: The ultimate, highest, universal principle and the formal cause of all that exists. It is the transcendent, unchanging, eternal truth which puts all things into motion. For those familiar with Hindu myths, Brahma would’ve been an obvious choice since he is the creator-god. However, in many creation stories, he is equal in power and authority, if not less than, his counterparts, Shiva and Vishnu. Additionally, he, himself, was created or born, and thus was not the best choice for an omnipotent originator-god role.
Mankind: Created from Brahma’s body or soul, as the first and strongest “animal.” Manu and Shatrupa are the first man and woman, who ask Lord Brahma if they can have dominion over the world. Manu is later preserved by the gods through a worldwide flood.
Purusha: The cosmic man/consciousness who was sacrificed by the gods to create all life. How does this jive with Brahma? No idea. Welcome to Hinduism.
Shiva: A strange mix of good and evil, Shiva is one of the Trimurti, alongside Brahma and Vishnu. His job is to destroy the universe at the end of each age.

Egyptian Myths
Ra: The creator and father-god in Egyptian myths. He called everything into existence by speaking its name.
Mankind: Created from Ra’s tears, they were originally brutish and rebellious. They plotted against Ra, who sent divine retribution in the form of the goddess Sekhmet.
Osiris: Divine son of Ra, and god of death, the afterlife, and resurrection. He came to earth to rule as a king and bring civilization to mankind. He was tricked and murdered by his divine brother, Set, only to later be resurrected. 
Set: Evil brother of Osiris, and the god of chaos, war, storms, deserts, and destruction.

If these legends were derivative from the true redemption story, what likely led to the obscuration of truth in these cultures? One can only speculate. In Daniel and the Sun Sword, it was the fear of Supai that led to the Inca's deception. In Daniel and the Triune Quest, it was mankind’s rejection of moral absolutes. Regardless, the truth of redemption has endured...and makes the perfect backdrop for any great story.

*For any mythology aficionados out there: I know that for any one version of a myth, there are at least two others that vary in detail. I have presented here simply those versions which parallel the redemptive thread of Christianity.

  Giveaway Time!

As you visit the tour stops, you should be collecting secret words from each post. Once you reach the last stop, combine these words into a phrase and type it into the Rafflecopter linked below in order to be entered into the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive signed copies of both books in the Suns and Daughters series, along with series bookmarks; a second winner will get a signed copy of Daniel and the Triune Quest and a bookmark. Good luck!

Enter the giveaway!

Are you excited for Daniel and the Triune Quest? Are there any other mythologies you think someone really should write a book about sometime? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Don't forget to visit the other tour stops!Monday, December 18, 2017: Author Site
Tuesday, December 19, 2017: Light and Shadows
Wednesday, December 20, 2017: Dreams and Dragons- you are here.
Thursday, December 21, 2017: Christian Fiction Review Guru
Friday, December 22, 2017: Speculative Faith
Saturday, December 23, 2017: The Write Stuff Radio

Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter 2017-18 Reads!

Hello, everyone! First off, if anyone's wondering why the blog looks a bit off at the moment, wonder no more! After more than five years of the same, frankly not-that-great, look, Dreams and Dragons is getting a much-needed revamp. Because of my current situation, this may take a bit of time, but when it's done, the blog will be better than ever, with a nicer design, actual about pages, archives for stories, poetry, and reviews, a proper contact page, and more!

Second off, finals are over, which means which means I'm headed home to family, writing, good food, and, of course, books! In addition to all the already-released books that I need to catch up on (Oathbringer! Exiles! The Dire King!), we're beginning a new season of releases- which, naturally, means it's time for a list to highlight my most anticipated releases!

Winter 2017-18 Reads!

1. Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely (January 2).
So, it's a Western . . . but in what sounds like a semi-dystopian future. With that combination, I feel like this book is either going to be awesomeness close to the level of the Invisible Library series or the same kind of disappointment as Shadow Run was. Even if it falls somewhere in the middle, though, it should be a nice change of pace from my usual diet of fantasy, and I am always up for a sharpshooting protagonist.

2. The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman (January 8).  
So, I thought this was going to be the last book, but apparently it's actually the second-to-last book, so huzzah! Obviously, I'm super excited for more of the Invisible Library books- have I mentioned lately how much I love this series? Because I love this series- and apparently this one is set in fantasy!1920s Chicago? So that should be super cool, and a very interesting change from the general steampunkery of the last three books. Plus the focus is shifting from the Fae to the dragons, and while I'm a bit disappointed that I probably won't get to see much of my favorite minor antagonist-ally Silver, dragons are pretty awesome too.

3. Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaugen (January 30).
I'm not 100% certain what to think about this one. On one hand, it's an Arabian-esque political fantasy featuring an earth-manipulating protagonist- definitely out of the ordinary! On the other hand, beta reviews say it's on the darker and heavier side, and from what I've read of Gaugen's other works, I'm not surprised. So, yeah, I want to read it, but I'm not expecting it to be a favorite.

4. Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare (February 20).
So I'm slightly annoyed by the fact that certain elements of this story (namely, girl who can write worlds into existence) sounds similar to one of my own novels . . . but that very minor annoyance is basically overridden by the fact that "girl who can write worlds into existence" sounds fabulous and honestly, there's not enough books about that premise. Plus apparently it's steampunk! And set in Italy! And involves political conspiracy! And reviews say it'll tear your heart out, so . . . yeah. There's that. Anyway. I'M EXCITED.

5. White Sand volume 2 by Brandon Sanderson (February 20).
Soooo . . . yeah. The main reason this one is on the list is that it's a Brandon Sanderson Cosmere novel. If it was by anyone else and in any other series, I would've given up after the first book, but I don't want to miss anything important. I have the manuscript version that he sent out to newsletter subscribers, which I still need to read . . . I'll try to fit that in before this releases, and maybe having that background will help.

6. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (February 27). 
I haven't read anything by Hartman since I devoured Seraphina and was subsequently warned off the sequel by friends. That said, Seraphina was really good, and I hope that this will be too. The premise sounds pretty interesting- a bit cliche, yes, but it has potential. And while the book has pretty mixed beta reviews so far, so my liking it could go either way.

What books are you excited for this season? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Songkeeper Book 3 Cover Reveal!

We interrupt your finals week/end of semester panic/Christmas planning (whichever applies to you) to bring you some exciting news: Songkeeper book 3 has a title and a cover! Finally! For those of you who don't know, the Songkeeper Chronicles is a wonderful fantasy trilogy by Gillian Bronte Adams featuring griffins, mysterious songs, evil empires, magic, friendship, betrayal, and Amos McElhenny. If you haven't read it, you should, and if you have read it, you're no doubt eagerly awaiting news of book 3. And because I'm in the same straits you are (or, y'know, would be; I've had the details for almost a week now), I won't make you wait anymore. Without further ado, Songkeeper book 3!

  Releases June 5, 2018 // Preorder on Amazon

Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged.
Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army—singers who can shake the earth and master the sea—and monsters rampage across the land. 

As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer. 
I don't even know where to start with all this. I mean, the cover is seriously awesome, but also kind of terrifying. I mean, I assume that's Birdie? And she's apparently controlling a storming tidal wave, or something to that effect? Can you say power-up? And apparently we don't just have griffins and lions now, but we also have . . . unicorns? Can we call that a unicorn even though the horn has multiple points? (Also, I'd like to point out that I don't think I've ever seen a more warlike unicorn. Just saying.)

Moving on to the cover blurb: ok, so we knew everything was terrible at the end of the last book. No surprise there. Also no hints as to the fate of a certain character, but that's also not a surprise; Gillian's too smart to give up her secrets that easily. I think I need to reread the series so I can remember what the "legendary spring" is, because I'm not sure what's up with that. But in general, this should be pretty epic.

What do you think of the cover and blurb? Are you excited for Song of Liera? Please tell me in the comments!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

P.S. So, yes, my hiatus went a bit longer than intended due to final project craziness. If all goes well, we should return to the usual schedule this weekend. Thanks for your patience!