Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Highlights ft. Bible TBR

SO I SURVIVED MY FIRST MONTH BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL AND I'M ACTUALLY SURPRISED THAT I DID??* I've tackled my first (real) AP class, my very first Honors class, my first totally online class, and then, ya know, ALL THE NORMAL CLASSES. Overall, I guess IT HAS BEEN A MONTH OF FIRSTS??**


**And emotional taxation. Don't forget that.

A list of awesome (and less depressing 😜) things, though:
  • I FINISHED SEASON SIX OF ONCE UPON A TIME. Oh. My. Worrrd. SO MANY FEELS. Especially since I'm one of those Oncers who plans not to watch the revival (a.k.a. season seven), due to (rumored) content. 😭
  • BUT I HAVE DISCOVERED THE MAGIC OF PBS'S VICTORIA! My mom and I finished the first season earlier this week, and, to put things simply, WE ARE READY FOR SEASON TWO. *grabs pitchfork and roars*
  • Even MORE exciting than OUaT and Victoria... I MET ASHLEY TOWNSEND! There was a book signing at a local bookstore, and we got to chat there and afterwards! Folks, Ashley is SO sweet and wonderful! She has the best ideas, and is so encouraging and kind! Also, you totally need to check out her books! She's the author of the Rising Shadows trilogy (Rising Shadows, Chasing Shadows, Defying Shadows), and oh my word, HER STORIES SOUND SO AMAZING. I seriously cannot wait to dive into her books! 😍



1. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom [4-ish/5]. To be honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of this... I just don't like crazy depressing books, okay? πŸ˜– But it was well-written, I'll give it that. πŸ™‚

2. Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin [4/5]. This was a super short read that I may or may not have read when I did just to up my reading goal (#priorities), and it had such a cute ending, too! πŸ˜€

3. Letter to the Reverend J. Page Hopps by Oscar Wilde [?/5]. A school read, ON WHICH I HAVE NO OPINION. *shrugs*

4. The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea Cobb [3/5]. Though a little late, a review's coming on this one, I PROMISE. 🌝

5. Cloaked ARC by Rachel Kovaciny [5/5]. flkgbngbog THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING!!!! Like, where do I even begin?? Just-- ALL THE FEELS!! And the Wild West and Red Riding Hood and the Cheyennes and ADVENTUUURE. READ THIS BOOK, DRAGONS. 'TIS INCREDIBLE AND YOU SIMPLY MUST READ IT, OKAY?? 😍😍😍 (Here's the link to my full review.)

6. Illusionary by Desiree Williams [4/5]. THIS WAS REALLY, REALLY GOOD. I didn't love it quite as much as I loved Sun & Moon, BUT IT WAS STILL AMAZING. The romance was just... *happily sighs* Yeah, it was pretty nice. You should read dis. πŸ’œ

7. The Notes in Our Hearts by Gabriellyn Gidman [4/5]. Lord willing, a full review will be coming on this one, too! πŸ™ƒ

8. Fairest of All by Serena Valentino [4/5]. THIS WAS SO INTERESTING. The Evil Queen
was so human and then THAT ENDING, TOO, THOUGH. Just, whaaaa. SO MUCH YES.


1. To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden. I've been rather curious about this book and then I FOUND A SPARKLING, BRAND NEW COPY OF IT AT GOODWILL. Stars, yes!

2. Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen. YES, I'VE ALREADY READ THIS. NO, I DON'T CARE. A gently used edition for $3 at a used bookstore? Even thought the cover is nowhere near as beautilicious as the library's edition? OF COURSE.

3. The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw. This was a dollar. ONE. DOLLAR. Even though the library has it, IT WAS ONE DOLLAR, FOLKS. What else was I supposed to do?!

4. AD 30 by Ted Dekker. A beautiful, never-read hardcover. Also $1. UM, YES.

5. AD 33 by Ted Dekker. Technically, my dad bought this one. 'Twas also $1 (WHAT IS THIS WONDERFUL MADNESS?!). But we both agreed it should go on my bookshelf instead of his and my mom's because I HAVE BOOK ONE. *cackles wickedly* πŸ˜‰

6. Rising Shadows by Ashley Townsend. OF COURSE I BOUGHT ASHLEY'S BOOK. I'm hoping (once I get through my enormous stack of library books first, that is) I can read it sometime this month! πŸ˜ƒ

7. White Dawn by Sara Baysinger. I won this beauty in a giveaway at S.D. Grimm's Summoner launch party, and my plans are to start the series around Christmastime, and hopefully bring in the new year with it! 😎


I've started writing Because of Midnight Poison! *does a happy dance* Granted, I'm not making a TON of progress on it, because of that annoying, pesky little thing called #school. *glares* But, if I play my cards right and everything falls into plan as I hope it will, then I might just be finished with draft one by the end of October! *continues dance*

So, October Goal: Finish draft one of Because of Midnight Poison! And, if time allows, maybe outline my next WIP and sign up for NaNoWriMo this year?? πŸ˜³

Current/Overall WIP Goal: Still the same. Finish draft one in October, and then
edit/rewrite it in November, and have it sent off by the end of that month. πŸ˜‡



REALM MAKERS RELEASED THEIR 2017 CONFERENCE RECAP!!!! And of course, because I am a slightly emotional little unicorn, I naturally bawled my eyes out because #SWEETMEMORIES. Here it is (feel free to cry with me):

You can see me several times throughout the video. I'm either in a striped sweater wearing a Superman t-shirt (BECAUSE SUPERMAN), or in a striped sweater (I really love that sweater, in case you didn't notice 😜) with my #RealmMakers2017 t-shirt. (Also, look for the Nerf War slo-mo at about three minutes in. If you see a girl running, grinning like crazy, and wearing a dorky pair of lab goggles, THAT IS ME. πŸ˜€)


SO THIS PART WAS INSPIRED BY FELLOW BLOGGER JULIA RYAN (⮘⮘ click on Julia's name to see her blog and the post in question). A few Sundays ago, Julia brought up how we all have spring/summer/autumn/winter TBR lists, but why don't we ever have Bible TBR lists? THIS IS SUCH A VALID POINT.

So today, I'm going to share with y'all the next books of the Bible I CAN'T WAIT TO READ. (Also, feel free to snag the Bible TBR image above. The background is from Pixabay, and is classified as public domain. πŸ™‚)

1. Judges. Some of my favorite Bible peeps lived in the time of Judges. Deborah, Gideon, Ehud... And I've never read the book straight through before, so this shall be an exciting new venture! 😁

2. Ruth. When I was a tween, Ruth was my FAVORITE Bible heroine ever. But since my romantic side has chillaxed (a ton) since then (thank goodness), I haven't read this in a while. Thus, I'm looking forward to reading Ruth with new eyes! πŸ™‚

3. First & Second Samuel. Samuel fascinates me. I mean, God spoke directly to him! Through Samuel, God brought David into reign, and through Hannah's longing for a son, God brought Samuel into existence. I think that's very cool!

4. Esther. "And but who knows that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" ⮘⮘ THAT, THOUGH 😍 (Esther 4:14, NIV).

I'll leave my Bible TBR at that, for now, but I can't wait to start tackling these books! πŸ˜€

What did your September look like? Which books of the Bible are on your TBR list?


Friday, September 29, 2017

THE RISE OF AREDOR // Relaunch Tour, Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway

SO I TOTALLY MISSED WRITING A POST LAST SATURDAY AND I AM SO SORRY. Test week had just ended, there was a church event I had to attend, there was a book signing I really wanted to go to, and so BASICALLY LIFE JUST TOOK OVER. #rude

But, on the plus side, I got to meet and hang out with a certain lovely author (Lord willing, more on the book signing in tomorrow's September Highlights πŸ™‚), and have a little bit of breathing room on Sunday before school started up again. 😸

Anywhozens, on to the real reason why I'm with y'all this Friday! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

Today, I am positively thrilled to be sharing The Rise of Aredor and The Wildcat of Braeton, both books by author Claire M. Banschbach! You might've heard of these already, as they've each been out for a couple years... but now they're officially being relaunched, with splendid cover touch-ups and re-edits! I'm proud to present...


Book I

Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor's shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin's former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin's path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.


The Rise of Aredor, Book II

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!


Hi, Claire! Welcome to the blog! I'm so terribly thrilled to have you here! First off, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself? Hobbies; personality; coffee, cocoa, or tea?
Hi! I'm so excited to be here! I qualify as an INFP, but really I'm a giant dork who laughs at everything and hopes something incredibly epic will happen every day. I'm also a pediatric physical therapist, so the humor level of a five-year-old helps there. πŸ˜‰ My hobbies are basically reading and recently attempting to embroider stockings for my nieces and nephews (I said dork, right?). And I don't really drink hot drinks. So very un-writerly of me. But I do enjoy iced tea.
Have you always been a storyteller? How did you get into writing?
I guess I'd never really thought of myself as a storyteller when I was younger, but I did like coming up with little short stories. I think we have a few written down somewhere. And I've always been a daydreamer. I credit getting into writing with the release of the LOTR movies and some very poorly written fanfiction.
From where did the first spark of inspiration for The Rise of Aredor come?
I've always loved Narnia, and The Horse and His Boy is still my favorite book, so it kind of kickstarted the inspiration for the story. It took a year or two of living the adventures in my head before I realized that I could make up my own world and characters and thus began the story.
If you could pick a favorite character from your series, who would it be and why?
So there's another question really similar to this in another interview, so I'll give a different answer, because I actually have several favorites. Mera is one of the secondary characters and becomes a love interest in the second book. She's a healer and has a quiet, no nonsense way about her. And she and her lucky guy are adorable together, just saying. πŸ™‚
Thank you so much for your time, Claire! Would you mind sharing a short snippet from The Rise of Aredor, before you go?
Thank you so much for having me! Absolutely! And for this snippet, Corin goes by HamΓ­d during his time in Calorin.
"Emeth, bring the stallion!" Lord Rishdah called.

The guard with the double swords took the reigns from the son and led the horse over. The stallion was limping badly on his right front foot and, as it came closer, HamΓ­d saw the ragged edge of the hoof and small cuts littering its leg.

"His shoe came loose and he went and tore it off. Fell and cut his leg up a bit too," Emeth explained.

HamΓ­d spared a brief nod as he went up to the horse to better examine it. He ran a hand down its leg and the stallion shied away. HamΓ­d caught at its bridle and stroked its forehead in reassurance.

"Hey now, easy, boy. You're in no shape to be dancing around like that," he murmured in his own tongue. The stallion snorted, gradually settling down as he continued to talk gently to it.

"He likes you. He usually doesn't settle down that easy."

HamΓ­d jerked his head up in surprise. Emeth had spoken Rhyddan, the northern tongue. He saw now that Emeth was fair-skinned like him, with wavy black hair and sparkling green eyes.

"You are far from home." HamΓ­d broke free from his initial shock.

"I could say the same for you." Questions were evident in Emeth's words.

HamΓ­d risked a glance at Balkor. The anger in the lord's face promised punishment later. HamΓ­d turned back to the horse and reverted to Calorin, "If you'll bring him to the forge, sir, I'll take care of him there."


Claire M. Banschbach is a native West Texan. She discovered a deep and abiding love for fantasy and science fiction at a young age, prompting her to begin exploring worlds armed only with an overactive imagination and a pen while obtaining degrees in Kinesiology from Texas A&M and physical therapy from Texas Tech University.

She talks to fictional characters more than she should while struggling to find time for all their stories. She currently resides in Arlington, Texas, where she works as a pediatric physical therapist.


Today and tomorrow only, readers can snag The Rise of Aredor ebook for only 99¢ on Amazon!


Claire has kindly decided to throw a giveaway, in honor of the relaunch bash! This giveaway closes October fourth, 2017. Winners will receive ebooks of the duology, as well as notecards of the series artwork. The grand prize winner will receive a paperback set of the books and one notecard of choice.

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Thank you so much for chatting with me, Claire! And Dragons, take note that Claire will soon be releasing a short story on her blog, to share a little taste of the Aredor universe with you! πŸ™‚

How are you, my dear Dragon? (I feel as if we haven't talked together in ages!) Do you prefer tea, coffee, or cocoa? Have you ever visited the world of Aredor?


Blog tour images provided by
the author. Banner background
recovered from Pixabay.

Friday, September 22, 2017

WANTED: A SUPERHERO TO SAVE THE WORLD // Blog Tour, Character Interview, & Giveaway

HELLO, MY PRECIOUS DRAGON FRENS. Today, I'm positively THRILLED to be sharing with y'all a bit about Bryan Davis's latest release, a middle-grade novel, titled, Wanted: a Superhero to Save the World!


Eddie Hertz is smart, real smart. He has to be. What other twelve-year-old patrols the streets of Nirvana alone, hoping to foil the schemes of the evil Mephisto? Since Eddie is small for his age, he trusts in his Batman-style gadgets belt and acrobatic skills as well as lots of experience, like knowing how to swing across dark alleys without being seen.

Eddie has a dream, to become like Damocles, Nirvana’s great superhero. To make that dream come true, Eddie invented a device that is supposed to give him superpowers, but using it on himself is dangerous, maybe even fatal. He doesn't have the nerve to try it.

When Mephisto unleashes an earthquake machine on the city, Eddie gets a surprising teammate -- his quirky eight-year-old sister, Samantha, who comes up with an unexpected way to help Eddie in the frantic battle to prevent the biggest earthquake of all. Since Damocles has lost his ability to help in physical form, Eddie and Samantha are the only hope for Nirvana and the world.


Bryan Davis is the author of several bestselling series, including Dragons in Our Midst and the Reapers trilogy, speculative fiction for youth and adults. Bryan and his wife, Susie, work together as an author/editor team to create his imaginative tales.


Eddie, why did you decide to invent a device that could potentially give you superpowers?
Wait. Who told you about that?
Actually, I--
Did my sister tell you? She's supposed to keep it a secret.
No, not Samantha, but as a journalist, I have to keep my sources confidential.
All right. I get that.
Back to the question. Why did you invent it?
So I could protect my mother and sister. And to be like Damocles.
Ah! Nirvana's own superhero. Who wouldn't want to be like him?
Tell me about it. He's so amazing! Just a few days ago, he saved fourteen people, three cats, and a blind parakeet from a blazing building. And he caught the guy who set the fire. Nabbed him while swinging down on a line from the top of the building, carrying a cat in one hand and grabbing the guy by the collar with the other. Now that's the kind of stuff I want to do, but I need to get a lot stronger. That's why I needed the invention.
My sources also tell me that your invention didn't work. Do you know why?
Oh, it worked, just not on me.
How interesting. On whom did it work? Your sister?
That’s another secret.  And whatever you do, don't ask her. She won't stop talking till Doomsday.
All right, let's shift to another subject. Two kids, you and your sister, Samantha, saved the world from Mephisto's earthquake machine. How did you do it?
Sam and I had to find the earthquake machine and disable it. Let me tell you, it was hard, but we had a lot of help -- my mom, a guy named Milligan, and a strange old man named Gilbert, and some of the gadgets that Damocles left for me to use.
Speaking of Damocles, why didn't he help you himself? Where was he?
Now that's hard to explain. Let's just say that he had to be somewhere else. But don't worry. He didn't just take off like a coward and leave us. He would never do that.
I see. Something tells me that the reason for his absence is another secret.
Yep. I would never give away any of Damocles's secrets.
Well, since Damocles hasn’t been seen in a while, that means you and Samantha are now Nirvana's greatest heroes. How does it feel?
All right, I guess. Actually, not many people know what really happened. I kind of want to keep it that way. You know, let them think Damocles did it. So if you'll keep our secret, I'd appreciate it.
But I'm sure people want to help your family. After all, the earthquakes did a lot of damage to your apartment building. Trust me, your mother will love to get their help.
All right. You can let people know. I'll just have to keep Sam's head from getting bigger or from making her superhero name longer than it already is.
Her superhero name?
Yeah, right now it's Princess Queenie Unicorn Iris Ponyrider Buttercup Olive Lover Rosey Is Posey.

No, it's not! You got it wrong again!

No, I didn't! That's the name you first told me when--

That's all the time I have today, Eddie. Thank you for the interview!


Bryan is generously hosting not one, but two giveaways!

The first giveaway's winner will receive:
  • Any book by Bryan Davis (winner's choice)
  • Wanted: a Superhero to Save the World t-shirt
  • Bookmark

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The second giveaway is for the grand prize:
  • Any book by Bryan Davis (winner's choice)
  • Wanted: a Superhero to Save the World t-shirt
  • Bookmark
  • Any completed series by Bryan Davis (winner's choice) OR a $50 Amazon gift card

If you've read Bryan's blog tour introduction, then you'll know a teensy bit more about how this giveaway works. Know that the number I am bestowing upon you is: twelve.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Winners will be announced on Bryan's blog by September twenty-seventh.



Special thanks to Bryan Davis and Athelas Hale for putting this tour together! 😊 And, of course, to Eddie, for allowing this interrogation. πŸ˜‰

Now for your turn, dear Dragon!
Have you read any of Bryan's novels?
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be? (You know I love this question. 😁)


Blog tour images provided
by Athelas Hale.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

No Post Today

Hello, Dragons!

School and life have been slightly hectic, lately, so I'm taking today off to hopefully chill, read, and write. Lord willing, I'll see y'all again next weekend! πŸ™‚


Post banner background
recovered from Pixabay.

Friday, September 15, 2017

ALARA'S CALL // Blog Tour & Visual Post

SO TODAY I AM POSITIVELY ECSTATIC TO INTRODUCE TO YOU ALARA'S CALL, BY KRISTEN STIEFFEL. I got to meet Kristen at Realm Makers a couple month ago, and roppbnrpbneborwqp vfgjkbo;qfrneg I'M SO EXCITED!!!!

Now. On to the official stuff. πŸ˜„


Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies.
Alara's Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones.

Alara sees visions of others' futures, but never her own.

A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.

But it's a ruse.

The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara's faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.

But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king's palace... by an means necessary.


Now I'm turning the reigns over to Kristen, so she can share with y'all some of the visual inspirations behind her storyworld's culture!

The storyworld in which my novel Alara's Call is set is loosely modeled on nineteenth-century Europe: several small countries close together with interrelated royal families and lots of court intrigue. The main departure from nineteenth-century technology is that my storyworld doesn't have black powder, so there are no firearms or explosives. So the armaments and therefore the armor are at more of a medieval level.

I did this mainly because although I liked the idea of departing from the usual medieval-style setting, I didn't want to bring the weaponry to a nineteenth-century level because rifles and cannons take the carnage of warfare to a different level, and I just didn't want to go there. Besides. Swords are cool.

A collection of rapiers from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. {Credit: Claire H., Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.}

Some of my characters use rapiers. Others use sabers. One of the books I read for my research was By the Sword: a History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, & Olympic Champions by Richard Cohen. At one point he discussed how the rapier, which was popular until the seventeenth century, gave way to the saber in the eighteenth century. I somehow interpreted this as implying that the saber was superior and had a character say something to that effect.

Heavy cavalry sabre on display at the NeuchΓ’tel Arts and History museum.
{Credit: Ludo29 & Rama, CeCILL Free Software License.}

Luckily, I have a critique partner who’s studied weapons more than I have, and he pointed out that in some situations the rapier is preferred. To grossly overgeneralize, the saber is designed for fighting on horseback and the rapier for fighting on foot.

To fend off blows from either of these swords, some of my characters wear armor. The first piece I chose for them was the brigandine -- basically an armor vest covered with leather -- because that seemed cool.

Brigandine. {Credit: Scholagladiatoria,}

But what I didn't know when I started writing is that the brigandine was usually worn over a gambeson. Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria has a great video on the topic by which I got pretty thoroughly schooled.

So my characters needed gambesons. Which are maybe not as kick-tail looking as brigandines, but still handy to have around. Shad M. Brooks of Shadiversity explains in this video.

{Credit: Shadiversity,}

Unfortunately, by the time I learned all this great information about gambesons, I had already turned my manuscript in to my editor. Nevertheless, I asked her could I make a few tweaks, and she said yes. So I quickly rewrote all the descriptions of armor to include gambesons. Whew!

I'm really glad I didn't stop researching after I turned the manuscript in. Well, of course I had to keep researching. Book two is mostly finished, but now I'm working on book three, and it will have even more battle scenes. I think for a writer, the research is never finished.

Thanks for sharing, Kristen! πŸ™‚


Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in speculative fiction. Although she edits projects in various genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket, she is a novelist at heart. Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection, mentor with Word Weavers International, and on the planning committee for Realm Makers, Kristen stays busy doing what she loves most. She is also the associate editor of Havok, a flash fiction magazine focused on science fiction and fantasy.

Visit to learn more about this many-faceted author. Readers can also connect with Kristen via her blog, Amazon page, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.


Want to take part in the launch? Join the Facebook party on Thursday, September twenty-first, from 4-6 PM (Pacific time)!



*flails happily* SO MUCH EXCITEMENT. 😍

Have you ordered Alara's Call, yet? Will you be attending the launch party?


Blog tour images provided by L2L2.
Post banner background recovered
from Pixabay.