Friday, October 31, 2014

Doings and Book covers! :)

     Hi all! :) I haven't been doing any posts for quite some time; and after my little sister scolded me about it, I decided I'd find something to post today! ;D

     I've been on vacation these past few weeks, having fun times with relatives, shopping for wedding things (since I'm going to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding!). Anyway, it's been great. And a little distracting. But here I am again.

     Oh, you should look up this lovely blog, http://tashahphotography.blogspot.com/, from a budding photographer I know! :) Anyway, I noticed she has some beautiful new pictures up! For anyone who enjoys scenic photography, check out Through My Lens!


     So, I've been reading a lot, but haven't posted any reviews on here. Just on goodreads. Oh well. I do have some INCREDIBLE book covers to share with you though. I've been seeing these through the past weeks, and just have to post them! So lovely. Can't wait to read them!! :) :)




The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews

~I don't know about you, but I'm intrigued by Egyptian history; and Mesu Andrews writes great Biblical fiction!~

Siren's Fury by Mary Weber

~Breathtakingly cool!! This has to be one of the most amazing covers ever!! I haven't read the first book in this series yet, Storm Siren, but I so look forward to reading them both!~

The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis

~Amish fiction isn't my favorite, but somehow Beverly Lewis's books are always amazing! :) And this one just has an adorable cover!~

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

~I read a fairytale retelling by Heather Dixon (Entwined) some time ago, and loved it!! Hoping Illusionarium will be as good!!~

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

~This is a lovely cover... I don't ALWAYS like Jody Hedlund's books, but a lot of them are really good; great historicals!~

Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag

~Haven't read by this author, but have heard some good things about her. Anyway, this cover is just... wow. Intriguing to say the least. Thrilling might work too! :)~

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

~I love Joanne Bischof's books, and I love this cover! So lovely. Excited to read this one.~

Orphan's Song by Gillian Bronte Adams

~Sigh-worthy. This looks like an amazing fantasy... just saying! :)~

A Bride for the Season by Jennifer Delamere

~Always have to have a story about a bride, right? ;) Love the pretty dress and veil!~

In Good Company by Jen Turano

~This cover just pops. So cute. I love the blue dress!~

So yeah, there's the pretty covers I've been exclaiming over, :) Hope you enjoyed them! :) What ones are you excited to read??

Monday, October 13, 2014

Movie Review: Mom's Night Out

 
My Review (5 stars):
 
     A totally heart-melting, relatable, and faith-filled comedy. I can’t boast of being a mom, and understanding how that is; but I still could relate to our slightly paranoid, red-haired main character, Allyson. Though exaggerated (as it’s a comedy), Mom’s Night Out (2014) hit the nail pretty much on the head about a woman’s emotions, fears, and insecurities.
 
     I laughed and laughed. And then I cried. And when the movie ended, my spirits were so lifted and I felt like living zealously (like I always aspire to do, but never actually end up doing most of the time! :P).
 
     Anyway, it was so cute and meaningful. It told a lot about mommys, and just about women and men in general. It could be a little crude at some points; but most of it was just great. Mom’s Night Out (2014) really brought across a beautiful message and I was left sincerely touched. Not to mention, I loved the end!! :-) Trust God and live with joy, guys! Cherish every moment. And live zealously!
 
     Watch Mom’s Night Out (2014) all mothers and just all women. It’s a memorable comedy.

Movie Review: Justin and the Knights of Valor

 
My Review (4 stars):
 
     Justin and the Knights of Valor (2013) is rather a cute, animated tale about knights, lovely maidens, and finding one’s true path. I watched it with my siblings, and we all quite enjoyed it, :-)
 
     The “romance” could tend to get a little silly (with the first girl). Also, the girls wore figure-revealing clothes, and often had low necklines. That was a definite down. Also, there was a wizard-want-to-be who was weird and totally unneeded. I don’t think trying out dark powers should be made humorous, especially in a children’s movie, :-/ Most of the time, the guy was just trying to act like he was a wizard and he had all these magical powers; but once a stick pulled him in a certain direction, like it was magic. Also, he called himself a wizard of the dark light or something. So those two things were the not-so-goods of this film.
 
     But overall, it was a really fun story. Justin was a likable guy, and it was fun journeying with him to become a knight and whatnot. It could make you think a little of Tangled (2010), Frozen (2013), and How to Train Your Dragon (2010); but definitely wasn’t as intense or scary as those. More geared toward kids than those I think. It has some funny parts; some sweet parts; some actions parts; and some meaningful parts. A fun medieval tale, and really cute movie overall.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games + Catching Fire


My Review (2 stars):
 
     It’s undeniable that The Hunger Games (2012) tells a fascinating, dystopian story. An all-powerful, almost maniacal government reigns over Panem, the country that once was America. The Hunger Games—pitting teens against each other as a TV show—is their way of punishing their subjects for an uprising some years ago. It's President Snow's way of keeping his country in line.
[Katniss at the Reaping]
 
     The story kind of puts me in the mind of ancient Rome and its arenas, gladiators, lions, and avid, bloodthirsty audience. So in that way, I can actually look at the story of The Hunger Games (2012) as a fascinating tale based on a possible occurrence. There’s no fairytale about it. Governments/rulers can often become corrupted the more power they gain. The human heart is very capable of carrying out all kinds of devious things when there’s things like power, fear, revenge, and riches involved.
     Yeah, so it was very interesting to me. However, I can’t say I would ever watch it again. It’s one thing to force people to fight; it’s another when these people are teens. And half of them have been trained to fight all their lives and actually look at it as a game, finding sick pleasure in it. Obviously, it could be a real scenario. The "good guys" in the movie are sickened and sorrowed by it. You know, all that. But it was just too much for me.
 
     Quite a bit of yucky stuff in this movie. Most violence isn't really graphic; but there's a lot of gross/creepy to make up for that. It's just not my thing. I will say however, that the movie is much better than the book, The Hunger Games. I listened to that as an audiobook, and had to mute it many times. *Gag* So many unneeded details. The filmmakers definitely did a better job being more delicate with the horrific violence (though still, I didn't like it). And they made Katniss's character more sensitive and humane than in the books. So that's a thumbs up for them anyway.
 
     There was some good things about this movie. The capital was disgusting but interesting. The TV host, Ceaser. Kind of funny; yet strange and unfeeling. The dresses made by Cinna for Katniss...amazing!
[Sparking red dress]
 
     I love Katniss's relationship with her younger sister, Primrose. How she volunteered for Prim's place in the Hunger Games... And yes, Peeta and Katniss, *sigh again*. Haymitch was an interesting guy. Definitely wounded by his time in the Games. And Rue, she was such a sweetie, *cries*
    
     Katniss Everdeen is an incredible character. She's a brave young woman, fighting to keep her family safe. She sneaks outside of Panem's electric fences and hunts for game to feed her widowed mother and little sister, Primrose. Her childhood friend, Gale Hawthorne, is often involved in these hunts. He's apparently in love with her. And while I like Gale...he's not for her.
[Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen]
 
     Peeta Mellark however... *Sigh* I love his story with Katniss. Throwing her the bread. Falling in love. He's just such a dear. A thoughtful, good man. He and Katniss's journey together is poignant. I have high hopes for them!!
[Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark]
 
     So yes. Again, The Hunger Games (2012) was an intriguing story for sure. Emotional and gripping. Sends my storytelling senses reeling. But the sickening violence... Teen against teen, some as young as thirteen... Hmmm. It could have been just a powerful, captivating story if they wouldn't have made it so...yucky! I don't know. Anyway, I just don’t care to make it my entertainment. I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
 
*Read the pluggedin.com reviewer's thoughts for more in-depth on the violence of this movie: http://www.pluggedin.com/videos/2012/q3/hunger-games.aspx*
 
 
 
My Review (4 stars):
 
     The sequel however, Catching Fire (2013), blew my mind.
 
     Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have come out of the Hunger Games as victors—each having killed little, and certainly not in cold-blood. Now they are rich and want for nothing… except freedom. And love.
     And not to mention, the capital has its eye on Katniss because of her supposedly rebellious act right before the games ended. The act that enabled two people to win the Games, instead of just one.
     So we journey with Peeta and Katniss on their victory tour. We watch the capital become even more tyrannical. Watch rebellion start to stir. Watch Peeta struggle with his unreturned love. Then things take an unexpected turn and Peeta and Katniss once again land in the arena. But this time, they have allies. –Former victors who are not actually victors, but survivors who are scarred and realize just how evil their government is.
["There are not winners, only survivors"]
 
     The emotion! The depth of the feeling. I was just mesmerized. It was so real, so powerful. The actors and actresses did a superb job! Catching Fire (2013) showed that the victors (most of them) weren’t just revengeful, power-loving, prideful killers like the capital. Rather, they were broken by the Hunger Games, even though they had come out winners. They're angry. They were supposed to be protected as victors! They're afraid. How are they going to survive the emotional and mental trauma of another Game? They're determined. President Snow won't get away with this.
[Josh Hutcherson as Peeta; Elizabeth Banks as Effie; Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss]
[They're a team now]
 
         I say, it impacted and fascinated me.
 
     There wasn’t teens killing each other this time. It was older, broken victors. And a lot of them teamed up with Peeta and Katniss. Most of the killing in the arena this time came from the game-maker’s technology-made threats. So yes, I really felt like Catching Fire (2013) was a lot different than The Hunger Games (2012). It had a different feel; like not so sickening as the first movie. That being said, there still was a few yucky insinuation/violence. But I felt the filmmakers did a good job of cutting away from graphic violence and all.
 
     My complaints would be the love-triangle between Katniss and Gale and Peeta. She led the two guys on; you can see her struggling, like, which one did she love? They were both professing romantic love to her. And she kind of accepted it from both. Arg! But I think it was probably mostly because she wanted to feel hope, safety, security from them (as a spiritual side is non-existent in this movie).
     There was quite a bit of kissing too; and one inappropriate scene where nothing really is shown (well, a woman's bare shoulders and some of her back), but you get the gist.
     Also, there was swearing.
     Yeah, then some frightening scenes; some violence/gory/creepy as I mentioned above, but definitely not near as bad as the first movie!
     Another slight complaint would be with how a few scenes portrayed Peeta Mellark. They kind of gave him this weak look at times. Like yeah, he has muscle and courage, but he's kind of na├»ve. And Katniss has to protect him. *Look of distaste* But in the end, it wasn't that big of a deal. They both ended up helping, protecting, needing each other. They were a team. Peeta is naturally a more sensitive, sweet, conscientious guy. But he's still manly, tough, and brave. And such sacrifice! He volunteered for Haymitch so he could protect his beloved Katniss! And all when she "doesn't love" him! *Sighs teary-eyed*. Peeta is such a great young man.
[Peeta and Katniss] 
[*Smiles* I love this line!]
 
     I just adore how the love story is developing while in the Games. The fancy dresses are always fun too... Ah! Katniss's "wedding dress"!! So cool. So rebellious, *grins*.
[The wedding dress]
 
     I also really liked where all the so-called victors talk about being forced to go back into the Games. It's deep. Poignant. Breathtaking. I liked how Effie Trinket began changing in this movie. Her obsession with glam is starting to fade a bit. Her extravagant voice is gone as she announces the Quarter Quell. She has learned to love Katniss and Peeta, and is heartbroken over their fate...
[Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket]
 
     Finnick! He's so funny. Makes me laugh time and again. It's great watching his true side show underneath all those fake, protective coverings. I hope he gets his Annie back.
[Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair.]
 
     And Joanna, she fascinates me. A complex character; angry, broken, defiant.
 [Jena Malone as Joanna Mason]
["They can't hurt me. I'm not like the rest of you. There's no one left I love."]
 
     The (almost) ending was spell-binding. I just...have no words. So many incredible moments!
[Katniss Everdeen in the Quarter Quell Hunger Games]
 
     So really, Catching Fire (2013) is more violent and such than the movies I usually watch. But the emotion left me breathless. The story intrigued me (hey, I’m a storyteller, guys!). And it’s really the good vs. evil tale, just with a dystopian twist. Stand up the oppressed! Fight back against the evil controlling your land! This is a story of courage, acting in spite of incredible odds, fighting for those you love, sacrifice, and a crazy, amazing plot against a vain and wicked government. And it's a love story...

     I have to say, I’m excited to watch Mockingjay: Part I (2014).

[Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence]
 
*Read pluggedin.com's review of Catching Fire (2013): http://www.pluggedin.com/videos/2014/q1/hunger-games-catching-fire.aspx*

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Silver Rose ABC: Esglade

Working on my story ABCs today. *smiles* I introduce one of my sweet, secondary characters: Esglade.

Esglade is a tiny, old woman shroded in mystery, hence her nickname, Phantom of the Forest. She has white hair and startling violet-colored eyes.

Karalee meets this woman while running away. Wolfe knows her from years ago when she helped him. But neither of them know what she really is.

Esglade is a fearless soul, courageous in the light of her King's protection. She gentle, yet not afraid to rebuke another firmly when they're going down the wrong path. She's handy with a bow, is an excellent crafter of weapons and armor, and can easily flit about unnoticed.

Oh, and Karalee finds a special necklace after an encounter with Esglade ...

(found on Pixabay.com)

So there's for my E in the Silver Rose ABCs. Just a short post. Hopefully it was a little bit interesting! *smiles*

I'm so excited (and scared) to share Silver Rose with all of you who would care to read it. But yeah ... it has a lot of editing yet to be done on it! So I better get back to it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Review: Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Purchase HERE

Title: Golden Daughter

Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood #7

Genre: Fantasy

Audience: Young Adult

~ MY REVIEW ~ 
**5 stars**

Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Alright, give me a moment to come up with the appropriate word to describe it … Stunning? Enthralling? Amazing? Powerful? Emotional? Complex? Utterly epic? Okay, so one word won’t suffice. It’s a fictional masterpiece. Book seven of the TALES OF GOLDSTONE WOOD, Golden Daughter has to be one of the most brilliant yet of the series. The things that happen. The answers uncovered. The stories told. I would sit momentarily speechless at one point, and laughing with glee in the next.

All her life, Princess Sairu—who can read secrets by looking into one’s eyes—has been trained to be fiercely protective, wholly devoted, and yet never love. She’s a Golden Daughter. A legend. A secret. And is often mistaken for a little handmaiden, especially when her path merges with a Dream Walker’s.
     Jovann and Sunan are half-brothers. They are pitted against each other by circumstances not of their own making, but Jovann seeks to remedy that. However, Sunan has hatred buried too deep to be merely brushed aside. Kidnappings, Masks, imps, and a certain Lady Hariawan litter their paths and make everything so much more complicated.
     Then we have a smug, fluffy orange cat; a passel of hedge-pigs (a.k.a lion dogs); some self-important priests; Hymlume and her beautiful children; mysterious Dream Walkers; a dark Dragon; and of course, the ever-present songbird.

I’m staring at this half-written review and wracking my brain for what next to write. Golden Daughter is almost too big for words. Like really, TALES OF GOLDSTONE WOOD has to be the most intricate, complex series I’ve ever read. Don’t let that scare you away from reading Golden Daughter and its like though. Its complexity only makes it better, and I don’t believe I’ve ever been really confused. Things usually come together quite nicely—if not in the actual book, than in the sequel, or a few books after that. It’s an epic series truly; just beware that writing a long, eloquent review for it might be a little bit of a challenge! *smiles*

So it’s a fantasy. With a powerful Christian allegory woven firmly into its fibers. It has a fairytale twist with its enchanted other worlds and fae folk. Apparently you can read Golden Daughter on its own, but I would definitely recommend reading the other books of the series first. –In order. It makes every little moment ever so much more meaningful. In fact, I delighted in the similarities to Heartless (book one) that I found in Golden Daughter. It’s probably because, chronologically, Golden Daughter comes before Heartless. I loved how Sir Eanrin the cat was called “monster” again in this tale, just as he was in Heartless! Just brings back fond memories, ^_^

Golden Daughter (as the other tales) can be a little creepy. A bit gory. It was also a little darker, like Shadow Hand, but not quite to the degree book six was. I found a lot of sweet, silly, touching, and hilarious moments in between. A lot of them included Eanrin (of course). Or the songbird, Lumil Eliasul. –Those particular moments chased away the darkness and brought a deep profoundness to Golden Daughter that often left me in tears. *clears throat* Anyway, because of some frightening/slightly gory content, I would strongly caution parents: read these books before you let your younger children (perhaps twelve and under) read them, and then judge for yourself if your child can handle it. Though I’m not sure, I think my twelve-year-old sister would be okay with the more mature content, and would love the books overall!

The allegory. So many profound, heartfelt, real-like allegories. (And there’s even a subtle retelling of a Biblical story … do keep on the lookout!) Golden Daughter made me realize anew how very deep Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s books are. These are no fluffy tales of romance and humor. Though yes, it does contain those elements. But rather, they are a part of a much bigger tale. A tale of the all-surpassing love of a God for His people. A tale of the power of a Creator and His hand in all the events that come to pass. A tale of darkness getting swallowed up in a much-greater Light. And of imperfect, sometimes lost, but unique characters caught up in that tale. I just have to sit in awe of the beauty of the allegories Anne Elisabeth weaves together. May she ever continue to follow God’s leading and let Him speak through her novels. I’m left deeply touched.

We meet fascinating new characters, Sairu and Jovann, to name our main characters; and reconnect with beloved old ones. Sir Eanrin for one. Oh, the smug, irresistible cat! I just love him, *happily smiles* We uncover some dark secrets about the evil Dragon. And we learn anew the power of the songbird; his silver trill of: Won’t you return to me? always brings hope in even the darkest of moments.

A horrible-yet-amazing story is finally told. A story we’ve perhaps been waiting to hear since the very first book, Heartless. It includes encounters with Hymlume, the Gold Gong, and the wretched Dragon. Very emotional and deep story. And Sairu, Jovann, Sunan, Lady Hariawan, and Sir Eanrin all have a place in the unfolding of the tale.

I love how real Golden Daughter is. The bad is not brushed over; it’s displayed along with the good. The characters are flawed, and they have raw, real feelings and emotions. They’re not the perfect heroes and heroines—they often make mistakes. Oftentimes they don’t even know how to respond to their Lord. It’s messy, but it’s beautiful. –When Lumil Eliasul is there to hold their hands. Just like real life, hey?

So yeah … at some point … after Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, Dragonwitch, Goddess Tithe (novella), and Shadow Hand, if you haven’t read those … do pick up Golden Daughter and let your heart be warmed, your mind be thrilled, and your soul be touched.

For myself, I’m waiting (im)patiently for book eight. Or perhaps another novella, Draven’s Light; whichever comes first! *smiles*

I received a free copy of Golden Daughter in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doings...

     Perhaps you're wondering why my blog keeps changing colors and form every other day...? Sorry, I'm just trying to find a look that really suits me. Good news; I think I've found it now! :) The blues and soft purple are really pretty, and I'm satisfied with the look and layout. So hopefully my blog will stay the same for now!

     I hope everybody's readings and writings are going well. For myself, I'm having too much fun, but maybe taking on a little more than I should... ha! ;)
    I'm almost finished reading Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, which, by the way, is SO GOOD! You must get your hands on a copy once it comes out. Wait, read the other books of the series (Tales of Goldstone Wood) first! It'll make it even better. Anyway, I'll have a review for that coming up in the future. In November I think.
    After I'm finished Golden Daughter, I'll jump right into The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight. I'm beta reading it for her, and am so, so excited!! It's book two in the Illyon Chronicles, and I've been waiting and waiting to read it after reading and loving book one, Resistance.
    And after The King's Scrolls, I'll hopefully be reading Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer, as long as I receive my free copy from Bethany House!
     As Frank Zappa once said: "So many books, so little time." (I really have no idea whatsoever who Frank Zappa is. Hopefully a nice guy. lol. Anyway, I just laugh at and love and understand his quote! :D

     For writing, I'm finally back into editing Silver Rose after moving with my family to another state. So happy to be back at the process. Feeling like I'm getting something done with that. And I'm just happy to be back with Karalee and Wolfe, :)
     I'm also sending my Beauty and the Beast retelling off to some cousins who will read it and tell me what they think. And maybe edit a bit, :) Still not sure if I'm going to send it in to the contest hosted by rooglewood press; we'll see. Anyway, my working title is: A Beauty Unforgotten.

     Well, I guess that's all for this post. In the coming future, I will probably have some random posts of music, chocolate, and actors, and perhaps a thought or two about college. Oh yes, and my letter E for my Silver Rose ABC! I got all these "posts ideas". One day I'll organize them, write them down, and post them on here!! :P

     Blessings to all!! :)