Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Bit of This and a Little of That

     ***Updated Version***    

     Hello dearest readers! :-) Just wanted to do a bit of an update post today... since I feel like I've been doing nothing but book reviews these days!

     My writing is not going as well as it could (should) be. But I have hopes that I'll find some quiet time to write today. Diamond Dark is currently at a count of 15,617 words. I keep getting ideas for it, but I usually end up just jotting down notes, since it all happens later on in the story!! Grr. I'm struggling with the whole, How is it going to measure up to the first book?? thing too. But... I have hope!
     Here's some inspiration pictures (found on Pinterest) for the main characters of this story:
     Hopefully those pique your interest! Perhaps they'll urge me to get back into the story too! ;-) In truth, I am happy to be once again with my dear characters from Book One, Silver Rose; and to be meeting some new ones as well! It's all grand fun, though a bit nerve-wracking at times. Ha!
     Speaking of Silver Rose, editing is going well. After I started reading Silver Rose to some of my younger siblings, I felt the uncontainable urge to re-write the beginning. ...It was just, bad. So I did, and my editor was very gracious about it all! :-) I'm so thrilled to see this story coming together so beautifully!! I really need to start thinking seriously about the cover. EEP! I just can't wait to share Karalee and the others' stories with you all! :-) :-)
Here's a short, unedited snippet:

     Don’t panic! Karalee turned in a full, dizzying circle. All around her a looming, gray forest stretched as far as the eye could see. Her heart picked up its beat until it was fluttering wildly against her chest. This feels too much like— Karalee squeezed her eyes shut, cutting off the thought. No. Don’t think about it. She breathed in deeply and turned in a slower circle. Yes, she was in a gray forest. Lidepia had vanished into thin air. Something strange was definitely going on.
     The crack of a stick sounded a few yards away.
     Karalee’s skin prickled. She peered into the dark foliage, but couldn’t make out anything threatening in that direction.
     Another crack.
     Everything is fine— Wait, was that a shadow looming behind the bushes? A scream caught in Karalee’s throat. She started running before anything else could happen. Her heart thundered in her ears, chest constricting painfully.
     Ghostly footsteps echoed behind each frantic, fleeing step she took.
     “King Adonai!” she gasped, reaching out to slap aside gray branches in her way, “I don’t know what to do!”
     A huge, fallen tree seemed to appear out of nowhere in the middle of her path. She lifted her skirt and pushed off the ground with her feet, leaping over it at the last moment.
     Gray fled past her vision. Heavy breathing seemed to sound all around her.
     Karalee did scream then. Her stricken voice echoed over the forest.
     In the next moment, she ran head-on into something solid, dark, and unmovable.
     Another terrified scream pierced the air.
(From Silver Rose by Shantelle H.)

     Reading. I'm about halfway through Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman, and I've been enjoying it so far. After I'm finished that book, I'm so excited to get back in King's Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt, which I briefly started. Lovely books.
      Ooh, and while we're on the subject of novels, I should mention a FREE book! Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman is a kindle freebie for the next few days!! :-)

     Forgot to add this the first time around. I re-organized my bookshelf recently, doing it according to date. What fun!! I totally fell in love with this new system! :-) Of course, the fantasy just have their own special section, and the self-help type books...
My lovely bookshelf. Sometimes I could just look at it and sigh for hours... ;D
Some of the books didn't have dates, so I'm not sure if I have them all in exactly the right order. But I did my best. And its surprising how many books actually do have dates!
First and second shelves...
Second and third...
And last. That my American Girl Felicity doll that I got at nine-years-old... thence came my love of the colonial/Revolutionary War era!! :-)
     Hey!! I recently got a twitter account: @shantellemary! I've been told its good to be on all those social media sites, to kind of get your name out there and all. So I went ahead and signed up for twitter... even though I had pretty much no idea what it was. Haha. I think I've learned a bit since then, ;-) :-)
     Well, I think that's all for updates today. I hope everyone has a good book in hand, :-), and that all the other things of life are going considerably well.
     Blessings! <3
     "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Purchase HERE

Title: Storm Siren

Author: Mary Weber

Series: The Storm Siren Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Audience: Young Adult


“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight ... not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

**5 stars**

Oh my ... oh dear ... *gasping for breath* *grasping for reality*... WHEN IS SIREN'S FURY COMING OUT??? :D

I hardly know what to think of the whole story yet, but my mind is whirling with the epic-ness of it.

Alright. Let's try for some orderly thoughts here ...

Storm Siren was raw. Gripping. Emotional. Powerful.

Nymia is a slave. Fourteen scars encircle her arm, one for each time she was sold. A fifteenth is about to be added, but by who? Because Nym has a secret. Who dares take the white-haired girl with storms running through her veins?
     With a strange twist of events, the young Elemental lands in a place of great power, and great peril. Secrets brood and danger lurks; and Nym has to decide. —Cower within the shadows of fear and the broken past, or embrace her gifts and soar.

Storm Siren is a unique fantasy, mixed with an element of dystopian/sci-fi. There’s Elementals, skin-changers, bolcranes, and slightly creepy war horses. Then we have airships and crazy parties where equally crazy people come in dressed in ludicrous costumes and pink, blue, or orange hair (something akin to the people of the Capital in The Hunger Games). I would call it fantasy for the most part, but definitely had a sci-fi feel at times.

I don’t even know what to say. Trying to gather all my thoughts together here … This book took me on a wild, hair-raising, exciting journey full of twists and turns. While I didn’t appreciate every aspect of Storm Siren, I found myself quite fascinated, and was quickly caught up in the story.

Nymia. Who wouldn’t feel for her? The tumultuous, dangerous, raw feelings raging around inside her have the power to erupt into a full-blown storm. She has a dark past that leaves her scarred in more ways than one, and faces a future full of more emotional pain and terror. She’s an incredible character … relatable, I feel. Real.

Eogan … was an interesting guy. *smiles* I must admit, I was quite startled where his backstory wound up to. I felt like I didn’t get to know him as well because he was so layered in secrets, but you still glimpsed his own personal pain, and his caring for Nym. I’ve decided that I quite like him, now that I know all his secrets.

I loved Colin!! *grins* Though he tended to show an appearance of thinking highly of his looks and such, he countered that quite nicely with charm, kind-heartedness, and sacrifice. *Sniff* I won’t say anything about his story … but the bald-headed Terrene boy is great, *smiles*

There was a really great group of characters. Pretty much all of them had me guessing about who they were/what they were doing; and then getting surprised (or shocked), and so on. The villains were done well I think. In a way that shows their depravity, but yet doesn’t render them to the typical “bad guy”. I was intrigued by them all.

The whole theme of Storm Siren was powerful. Perhaps not in the way one would expect, but still, it touched me deeply. This book, though Mary Weber is a Christian I believe, is not meant to be Christian fantasy. However, it still had an incredible allegory woven throughout. The memorial scars. The crippling fear. The self-hatred. And then we watch it morph into something strong and courageous. It’s a theme of self-worth and not letting your gifts and abilities be taken over by evil, but rather using them for good. Now here’s where I make an important note. I understand how someone could take it differently; I myself felt thrums of “I’m powerful” , “I will save myself” and that kind of thing. But … well, I guess for the most part I just took it as an allegory of us seeing our worth in God’s eyes, and finding the courage to use the gifts He has given us boldly for good. I was expecting the usual, kind of shallow, dark story of YA, non-Christian fantasy, and I suppose that’s why I noticed the poignancy of the allegory in Storm Siren. If you take Nym's story as a boost to rely on your "strong" self rather than God, than you probably aren't getting the drift I am. But if you naturally take the theme of Storm Siren as a more healing/realizing you have a purpose sort of story, then I would say its a pretty great tale.

That being said, I still did squirm a little at some of the parts about Nym controlling the lightening etc.; and how pressing her pulse renders ... this, and her squeezing someone’s hand renders … that. It can all feel a little too much like tapping into the "earth’s powers", or your own "inner powers" and whatnot. So yes, I was a little wary. Yet, the more I read, the more it didn’t seem so much that way. I guess sometimes with fantasy, I just take it all in as fantasy, and I can read it and understand it (sort of), without feeling its some strange new-age thing. I don’t know. You’ll have to read it and see for yourself. Controlling the elements kind of seems like a hot topic in fantasy books these days. It’s definitely not my favorite, but Mary Weber wrote it all in such a thought-provoking, allegorical way, that I was intrigued.

There was a fair amount of “swearing” in this book, albeit, in the fantasy language. So they’re unfamiliar words, but you definitely get the drift. Also, there were a few heated romance moments, and some men acted a little inappropriately around Nym or other women. Also, there's immoral issues alluded to now and then, especially with Nym's owner. Nothing too drastic, just caution to younger readers. Also, quite a bit of violence. We have some quite creepy/frightening scenes, and some utterly strange and scary animal creatures. Some descriptions of violence or gruesome detail went a bit overboard for my taste; but still, nothing too horrific in my opinion. I would say the audience for Storm Siren should be older teens to adults.

Um … I’m still not sure what to think of the treacherous wolf-guy and his disturbing abilities. I’m leery of too much werewolf/witch type things for sure. So, along with the element powers and such, I really need to read the next book and see where those two things go to truly decide how I feel about them. I’m okay with them for now … but you just never know what could happen next. So it really remains to be seen if I can safely recommend this book.

So. What can I say? I was captivated and thrilled. I was mildly startled at the unexpected, then quite surprised, then shocked. Ooh!! A page-turning adventure for sure! I loved the scenes between Eogan and Nym … (except at times they did get a bit overly romance-y). I loved how he could help calm her storm, ^_^ The fantasy world, the customs, the war, were intriguing and alarming. The whole story leaves you wanting more. Especially when you get to the end!!!! I sensed it coming deep down, but still, I jumped a little inside. OH NO!!! What’s going to happen?? I refuse to think that things will go as expected! Haha.

Like I said, there’s no center Christian allegory in Storm Siren. But a creator is alluded to a handful of times. And there is this special garden that … well, you’ll have to read about it yourself. But it was a poignant moment in the book, and I felt it had something to do with the creator. Can’t quite remember. This book tells a dark story for sure, but there was such a redeeming tilt to it. It was incredible to watch the characters grow… in heart and soul. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t feel like the darkness overwhelmed this story. I saw this beautiful picture through Nym’s story. It was truly poignant. I guess it remains to be seen if her start upward is going to make her powerful and trust in herself, or…. Yeah, I don’t know. Christian allegories are important within fantasy to me; but I felt I could still appreciate Nym’s story a lot.

But … so much remains to be seen. I’m so dying to read Siren’s Fury to find out what happens after that devastating cliff-hanger. We’ll see, we’ll see. Right now, I have hopes for this series. If you’re looking for a strong Christian allegory, this book isn’t that. However, I still found the main story of it to be moving. And its an incredible, exciting fairytale-ish/fantasy sort of story in any case! *smiles*

Book Review: God's Daughter

Purchase HERE

Title: God's Daughter

Author: Heather Day Gilbert

Series: Vikings of the New World Saga #1

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult

**3.5 stars**

So I'm going to try and gather my thoughts together for an honest review on God's Daughter. I'm just not sure what to think of this book. The Viking culture and history were definitely intriguing to read of. But other things just nagged at me a bit.

God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert tells the story of a strong Viking woman named Gudrid, and of her surviving her mother's barbaric death, rejecting volvas and paganism for Christianity, journeying overseas with her husband and his men, and her relations to the Leif Erikson family.

I was fascinated almost at once, (first from the amazing cover, than as I started reading the first pages). This book is a fresh, raw look at the people called Vikings and their lives and customs. The encounters with Skaelings, the stories of the volvas, the healing techniques, Vinland ... it was all quite interesting.

I can't say that I prefer the writing style used. (Example: "I grip my seax, its long blade tight against my thigh, and walk toward the bull." Chapter one: page one) It was kind of hard for me to get into. But it might not bother all. It's seems to be popular these days. I did get used of it fairly quickly though. And, on second thought, God's Daughter did have quite a bit of narrative parts as well; which can make for a little bit of a slower pace I think.

It was an interesting book, I found myself enjoying it a lot at many parts, and I felt like it was even an educational experience. But its probably not what I would usually pick up for a really entertaining novel.

My complaint about God's Daughter would be Gudrid's long line of men who were "in love" with her. She's a Christian and married woman, but still she entertains thoughts about this man back home, and feels this kind of responsibility to all the men who aren't wise enough to keep their eyes off another man's wife. At first, I appreciated this aspect of the story ... it show a real-life struggle and all. But after a while, I just wished that Gudrid would realize how much her own husband loved her, and truly love him back. What part of the husband/wife commitment doesn't she understand? She talks to these men about her feelings and fears; all the while, she knows they're in love with her. And at the same time, she hardly talks to her own husband, even when he finally starts pouring out his thoughts to her. She lets the other men take liberties, even if they're just emotional/verbal, time and time again, until I feel like shouting at her, "Can't you see how this is affecting them? And even yourself?". I feel like after a woman gets married, she's more careful with her relationship with other men; definitely doesn't confide in them. But Gudrid obviously didn't think that way (possibly due to her fears and speculations about her husbands devotion to her). Granted, Christianity was a new thing to this wild people, Finn and Gudrid's marriage was arranged, and Gudrid didn't have a Bible or godly woman to instruct her and help her when temptations arose. But it still pained me after awhile. I would have liked to see this situation resolved, but... the book kind of ended without letting me know if it was exactly. Is there going to be a sequel?? *smiles*

So yes. That's my complaint. Other notes: it wasn't the most action-packed, large-plot novel, but it did have plenty of intense/emotional/intriguing moments and such. I enjoyed the array of characters (except for Gudrid's shameless admirers), and it was really interesting to watch how each of their stories played out, see the different personalities and all that. Except ... was Leif Erikson really like that??

A warning: there are some violent/gory/barbaric moments. Nothing too graphic I didn't feel. And also has some mature content, this being a novel about a married couple. I would say its for older teens to adult.

I don't know what more to tell. I won't exactly recommend God's Daughter, but I'm definitely not saying don't read it! It's an intriguing historical saga anyway, and there is some sweet/poignant/great aspects of it. I enjoyed a lot of it. I would say pick it up yourself and come to your own conclusions. *smiles*

I'm not giving up on this book myself, I would like to read a sequel and see Gudrid grow and things get better! Or just another book by Heather Day Gilbert.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top "10" Books I'm Excited For


     Okay, okay, it's actually top 20 books (so I got a little carried away...) I'm excited for. I just couldn't help it! :D (To see my top 10 movies, read my post from yesterday: Top 10 Movies I'm Excited For.)

     Here we go...

SAMARA'S PERIL by Jaye L. Knight
(Not actual cover)


TEARS OF THE SEA by Marylu Tyndall

AT LOVE'S BIDDING by Regina Jennings

CHIVALROUS by Dina L. Sleiman

LOVE EVERLASTING by Tracie Peterson


UNTIL THE DAWN by Elizabeth Camden

DRAVEN'S LIGHT by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


CINDERELLA'S DRESS by Shonna Slayton

KING'S WARRIOR by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

 SIREN'S FURY by Mary Weber

THE THORN BEARER by Pepper D. Basham

FIVE ENCHANTED ROSES by Kaycee Browning, Savannah Jezowski, Jenelle Schmidt, Dorian Tsukioka, Hayden Wand

EXILES by R.J. Larson



ORPHAN'S SONG by Gillian Bronte Adams

A WORTHY PURSUIT by Karen Witemeyer

     A gorgeous array of book covers, I must say!! :) I imagine the stories inside are equally thrilling!

     That can't cover all the books I'm dying to read though... Let's not forget Poison Crown by Anne Elisabeth StenglThe Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson, The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz, and The Photograph by Beverly Lewis... all of which don't possess covers yet!

     So exciting, the world of new books! :D

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Top 10 Movies I'm Excited For

     Just thought I'd share some movies I'm so excited to watch, and their trailers (if they have them)...

THE SILVER CHAIR (2016/2017)
     Eep!! They're all just so EPIC and BEAUTIFUL! Yay for fairytales!! And I can't wait to see that Revolutionary War drama! And Narnia!!! :D :)
     Are any of the above on your want-to-watch list? Or have you watched any of them already? What are your thoughts? :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Wildcat of Braeton

     I'm happy to be part of the cover reveal for The Wildcat of Braeton by Claire Banschbach! :)
     Non-magic, adventurous fantasy for boys and girls ages about thirteen and up. It's a sequel to The Rise of Aredor, which you can read my review of HERE.
     So without further ado...

About the book:

“If you’re fighting our battle, we’d best make you look like a champion,” Tam said to Aiden. Tam and Blair began to apply the war paint the Clans had worn into battle since before they arrived in Braeton.
“You ready?” Tam asked when they finished.
“As I’ll ever be,” Aiden replied. “Tam, if everything goes wrong, you take charge after me.”
“I’m praying nothing goes wrong,” Tam said. “Just remember what Diarmad said when he built this place: ‘In times of trouble, a Champion shall rise up and Scodra shall not fall.’”

His term of service to Lord Rishdah now complete, Aiden returns to his home in Braeton. As he travels he hears rumors that trouble plagues Braeton. Clan Canich is being attacked from within. He arrives, determined to save his father, his brothers, and his Clan from the treachery of one man.
A year has passed since the Calorins were driven from Aredor and Corin is struggling to rebuild his country. Despite the peace, a fear haunts him that the Calorins aren’t far away. The Hawk Flight takes to the forest again to defend the borders against a possible attack from the neighboring country of Durna and its Calorin ally.
As Aiden and Corin struggle to adapt to their new lives they know one thing for certain - war is coming to the North!

About the Author:
Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. An avid reader of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and many other adventure novels, Claire was prompted to begin writing her own fantasy novel at seventeen after several years of daydreaming. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire partakes in the joys of watching the Boston Red Sox, Aggie football, playing volleyball, and horseback riding. She hopes her faith and strong foundation in God will continue to help guide her writing. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center.
     Hopefully you'll give these fascinating fantasy adventures a try!! :)