“The Mermaid’s Sister” by Carrie Anne Noble Review

Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook version of this book.

The Mermaid's SisterThe Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say about this book? A lot really. I absolutely loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!

You know how we always read stories where the main character is the chosen one, the magical one, or the one all the adventures are about? I was interested in this story for the very thing it’s not.

Auntie, the guardian of two young teenagers, tells the story a hundred times – perhaps more – for they love to hear it. She raised two girls from babes. The first arrived in a conch shell. The second was delivered to her doorstep by a stork. When Maren starts becoming a mermaid, it is up to her sister Clara, the stork’s delivery, and their childhood friend, O’Neill, to take her to the ocean where she belongs.

Clara is an ordinary girl in a lot of ways – beyond her odd stork-ish beginnings. She loves her family, loves a boy she realizes loves her sister and hates herself for her jealousy and her love, and she doesn’t believe in herself. She isn’t brave. She isn’t as beautiful as Maren. She fully believes she might become a stork, as her sister is becoming a mermaid. She is full of doubt and modesty, but beyond that, she is a loving and caring soul. She’ll do anything to save her sister. She’ll doubt herself along the way, but she will do everything humanly possible to see her sister returned to the sea.

That’s one of the things I loved about this book. Maren was a mermaid, a fantastical creature. O’Neill and his father, Scarf, were traveling people who sold their wares and told fantastical stories and played a bit of magic or tricks. Auntie was a healer with a bit of fae blood and able to cure anyone of any ailment they had. It was Clara who was the most ordinary of them all, unless you want to count her friendship with their pet wyvern, Ausbert. So many times, the main character is someone who is magical themselves, and it was so refreshing to have someone who wasn’t as fantastical as those around them – and still managed to find a way to use their skills to keep themselves out of trouble.

And trouble did indeed find them as they journeyed from the mountainside in their attempt to return Maren to the sea from which she came. Who wouldn’t expect trouble when one travels with a mermaid? Again, these troubles were – in their own way – magical and odd, and Clara was still the most ordinary among the people surrounding her.

I loved that there was no real love triangle. There was the possibility of such, but Clara’s feelings were always clear, even if she did try to deny the way she felt about one of them as she believed (with all her heart) that he belonged to someone else. She never led either boy on, and it was fantastic because it allowed us to see more of her personality. Her loyalty to her friends and her sister and her own feelings was amazing. No one could sway her in her emotions. She hid them from some, mainly the young man she had feelings for, but when the other young man tried to draw her out, tried to turn her affections toward him, she spurned him, and she spurned him hard. It was amazing.

There was so much faith and love and promises and magic and music and stories in this tale. It was, by all rights, a magical piece of storytelling that I can’t wait to read again.

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“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson Review

Disclaimer: I read the paperback version of this book.

I'll Give You the SunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. While I liked the story for the most part, it threw me off that each chapter was from a different time period and a different character. It starts from the prospect of Noah at thirteen years of age, but for the next chapter it switches to his twin sister, Jude, three years later, and it does this for the rest of the book. If we’d read all of Noah’s parts first and then Jude’s it would have been a lot easier.

Also, even though I’m strange myself and I couldn’t begin to describe the random thoughts inside my head, being inside Noah’s head was so strange, and not always in a good way. He didn’t think like most young kids. He was often “painting in his mind”, which is not a bad thing, but then he would name whatever scene that was occurring, as if it was a painting, and sometimes it made no sense and disconnected me from the story because it didn’t seem to fit. Because the style continued throughout the book with each appearance of Noah, it did fit, but it didn’t feel like it.

Jude’s parts were much easier to understand (once I got past the fact that her parts took place three years later, and I *STILL* had trouble wrapping my brain around that) as she seemed like every moody teenage girl who hated the world and everyone in it. That being said, her connection with spirits and the conversations she had with her dead grandmother were strange at first because it made me think that this was a supernatural book and the girl had powers, but I knew it was a contemporary, so it was just another thing I had to wrap my head around.

The writing style for Jude’s chapters and Noah’s chapters were so different from one another that it was easy to see who’s perspective was who’s. They definitely didn’t share the same thoughts and feelings about things, but again, the flip-flopping of time periods threw me off a lot.

There are several controversial topics in this book: sex between teenagers, coming out and forcing someone else to come out, as well as cheating and affairs. Overall, it conveys all these topics well and we see each subject in a different perspective between the two characters, and we watch them handle it separately as well as together.

What I think I loved most about this book was that it broke the stereotypical setting I see with twins. Whenever I see twins in literature, they look exactly the same and have the same personalities. It’s easy to see the differences in the Jude and Noah’s personalities, and one of the other characters makes his surprise at their being twins known because he expected Jude (who he met second) to look “like Noah but with boobs” as she so elegantly put it.

I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, and I might go back through it and re-read it so that I read all of Noah’s chapters first and then all of Jude’s chapters second to understand it better because that was the main issue I had with it. I can handle the POV change, but it was the timeline change that killed me. It probably works for others, but it just did not work for me.

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2018 Book Unhaul #1

0000HelloDragonlings!

Today I have my first unhaul of the year. I have a bunch of books I’m going to be getting rid of. Most will be going to my library (even if they don’t take donations, they have a free shelf where people can put books).

There will be several more throughout the year because I am completely out of shelf space and I need to figure out what to do about it. (There is *a lot* of stuff in my house.)

Using a different camera and a different editing software than usual and noticed after both filming and editing this footage 3x that the mouth movements and the sound aren’t matching up with one another. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to fix it… yet. I’ve got to play around with a few settings to see if I can fix that in the future.

0000ThanksDragonlings!

“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman Review

Disclaimer: I borrowed this audiobook from the library.

The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook, which I’d checked out from my local library.

In a way, this novel felt like a collection of short stories all featuring the same characters at different points of Bod’s (Yes, Bod. Short for Nobody Owens) life. That’s not overly a bad thing, but it was certainly different. I felt as if each chapter was meant to be its own story and that “The Graveyard Book” was just an omnibus collection of those short stories. It was certainly a different way of writing.

I found myself disliking most of the characters. They weren’t badly written. Quite the opposite. Each character was fleshed out in its own way so that you had a clear image of their personalities and their traits. They just weren’t the greatest people in the world. With some of them, those who were dead and stuck in the times they had lived in, it didn’t bother me as much, but those who were living – such as Scarlet (Gods, I hated Scarlet the most actually, even more-so than the bullies honestly) did because they weren’t good people. I did like Silas (for the most part) and Bod, but there were a couple things near the end of the novel I can’t reveal without spoilers that annoyed me about both.

Overall, I liked the story. I liked how the sections of Bod’s life all tied together, how each new character that was introduced impacted his life. It was wonderful storytelling. What I liked the best was how each of the chapters seemed to start with something that seemed to have no correlation with Bod and his life, but it would all be tied back to it in the end. Especially the discussion of ghoul gates. That was my favorite chapter because it started talking about how every graveyard has a ghoul gate and what to look out for, and as I sat there listening, I couldn’t help but wonder why there would be a mention of ghoul gates. However, Bod had a short adventure dealing with ghoul gates in which he discovered what they were and how they operated, but on top of that, he was able to use that knowledge near the end of the book (again, I can’t reveal more without spoilers).

This story was Bod’s story. Mainly. There were several “interludes” where we got glimpses into the lives of some of the other characters (Silas, Scarlet, and Jack), but overall it was Bod’s tale. That being said, it would have been interesting to know more about what Silas is/was and the Honour Guard. It would have been interesting to learn more about the Jacks of All Trades and their organization.

This is a good book following the life of a boy who grows up in a graveyard and those surrounding him, who (for the most part) are all dead. Neil Gaiman is a master at weaving a story that you feel compelled to read even if you don’t like the characters in the story (Gods… Friggin’ Scarlet…). If you like Neil Gaiman, you should read this book. And if you like audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to it. It’s read by Neil Gaiman and it’s perfection to listen to.

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“Truthwitch” by Susan Dennard Review

Disclaimer: I borrowed this audiobook from the library.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook, which I’d checked out from my local library.

First of all, the story was amazing. I loved the idea of a world where there were regular people and then those with magical abilities. And not only were there magical abilities, but there was the possibility of war surrounding the abilities one has and even wars started because of such abilities.

The story had a Avatar: the Last Airbender feel to it, except in this case, there wasn’t a “and then the Fire Nation attacked” moment. It was a rich world filled with all kinds of “witcheries” as the magical abilities were called, and it was cool to see so many different people with different kinds of witchery abilities working together in this world.

I thought most of the characters were pretty well-rounded. The only character I really had an issue with was Safi, and that was because I thought she was ignorant and a fool. It was mentioned multiple times that she was a Truthwitch and that her witchery needed to stay a secret because she could be used to start or stop wars. That said, she thought herself useless and couldn’t figure out why the Emperor might want to marry her. Really? I’m pretty certain a blind man could have seen that coming. That said, she grew up a lot in the novel and it was interesting watching her progression and seeing her grow as a character. I feel like she matured a lot over the length of the novel.

The narration of this audiobook was splendid. The woman who narrated did different voices and accents for the different characters, and you could get an honest feel about what lands each character hailed from based on their accent when they spoke.

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Writing Projects in 2018

0000HelloDragonlings!

In my last Shifters & Mages update, I mentioned that I didn’t want to publish the Shifters & Mages series until I was sure it was nearly ready to go, and I don’t, but one of the major hang-ups with that series is the fact that I don’t have covers for it currently.

There are other stories I’ve been working with off and on that do have covers though, and I think it’s high time to start working on them more seriously. So while my main focus will be on re-writes and edits for the Shifters & Mages series, I also want to work on other projects as well in 2018.

Weres Trilogy

Come the end of January, I’ll have the third cover for this series. I currently have two, neither of which I’m revealing… yet. These novels are outlined, and the first draft of the second one (the one I don’t have a cover for; go figure) is written – only because that was the idea that smacked me in the face during NaNoWriMo and demanded it be written.

Packless
Broken Laws
Wereling

Surrender

This is a contemporary romance I purchased covers for a couple years ago, but never finished writing. The first draft of the first book is written, but it needs a complete re-write. Then the rest of the series (outlined) needs to be written.

Hold Me Now
Leave Me Never
Say You’ll Stay
With Me Forever

I haven’t yet decided if I’ll publish them under the name “Skye Hegyes” or “S.D. Hegyes”. The paranormal romances will be under the name S.D. Hegyes, but I don’t know if I want both genres published under the same name or not. What do you think?

Stand Alones and Anthologies

Endless Starry Nights
A contemporary romance I already have a cover for. The first draft is written, but it needs a heavy re-write.

Moon Blessed
An LGBT anthology I have a cover for. This will have four short stories revolving around the moon and includes the short story, “Changeling”, which was originally published in the anthology Myths Untold: Faery.

Fur, Teeth, & Claws
I bought this cover on a whim, but I don’t really have a story idea for it. There’s a couple that could work for it, but I haven’t decided yet. Until I do, this one is on the back burner. At the time of purchase, I had an exact book in mind, but that project has since fallen apart as the research and the idea itself weren’t meshing. I may, in the future, pick a couple of random ideas and create a poll and let my fans decide what story I should write for this cover.

Writing Schedule

This is the hardest thing for me to do because of how busy my life seems to stay. I seem to do really good some months and others I do next-to-no writing. November and December are proof of that. I wrote 90K words in November and I haven’t written even half that in December.

My main focus will be the Shifters & Mages series because I know I want to get those published in 2018, but I’d also like to get a good chunk of work done (if not all of it done) on the Weres Trilogy since I’ll have covers completed for them. After that, I want to go ahead and try to finish the rest of the books I have covers for (except maybe Fur, Teeth, & Claws since I don’t have a set idea for it yet). You know… So I can start buying more covers for other ideas.

I plan on writing at least 1K a day Monday through Friday. I want to start treating it like a real job. If I write more, especially now that I have Dragon Naturally Speaking up and running well again (Yay! I fixed it!), then great, but I’ll be happy if I can get 1K in per day during the workweek. Yes, even holidays. (My five-year anniversary is on a Thursday. Justin can play video games while I write.)

This is not only about making it a habit, but turning my writing into a career, and it’s time for me to get serious about that. Don’t you think?

0000ThanksDragonlings!

A Bookish Christmas Blog Hop: Name 5 Fictional Characters You’d Invite to Your New Year’s Eve Party

A Bookish Christmas Blog Hop

0000HelloDragonlings!

I’m participating in another blog hop, but this time, it’s Christmas themed! I’m the last post for this particular hop, but I hope you’ll head over to some of the other posts and read everyone else’s questions and answers (links at the bottom). Enjoy!

Name 5 fictional characters you’d invite to your New Year’s Eve party

This is a tough one, but the five people I’d invite are:

  1. Vanyel Ashkevron, his Companion, Yfandes, and his lifebonded, the Bard Stefen from Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. Vanyel is the last herald-mage and is pretty dang powerful in his use of magic. He could definitely teach me a thing or two. On top of that, he’s shay’a’chern, which is a term some of the characters use (I can’t remember which language it is in the book) for homosexual characters. And he’s lifebonded on top of that, meaning he’s got his soulmate. He’d liven up my party and it would just be great to meet his Companion (a spirit in the form of a white horse with brilliant blue or purple eyes), even if I couldn’t hear her like he can. Stefen also has his draws because he and Vanyel are nigh inseparable and he can play some music for everyone that would keep everyone in good spirits.
  2. Prompto from Final Fantasy XV, the video game. Prompto is a gun-wielding jokester in the FF universe, and I love him for it. He loves to have fun, but he is also a deeply caring person. Can I haz? Seriously?
  3. Haurhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori. Haruhi is a down-to-earth girl, and she has a way of making sure escalated fights drop before they become a problem, so I imagine it would be a lot of fun to hang out with her and have someone help “keep the peace” so-to-speak.

JoLinsdellJo Linsdell

  1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series as she would probably bring Harry and Ron with her. She’d be great conversation, probably help save the day if anything went wrong, and could do magic tricks. Perfect!
  2. Phoebe Martin from Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira as we could talk about books and share reading suggestions for the new year ahead.
  3. Percy Jackson because he would have awesome adventures to share and be able to do some cool tricks with any water at the party to entertain everyone.
  4. Prince Rafael from Royal Games by Sariah Wilson because having royalty at the party would be cool, and because he is total crush material.
  5. Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones’s Diary because she’s one of all of us.

Leslie ConzattiLeslie Conzatti

Five? Okay, I’ll go with the characters I’ve come to be obsessed with!

First of all, Emma Beaumarchais from The Talented Series by Amy Hopkins. She’s a half-blood witch who runs a small tea shop outside of London and serves up enchanted teas and she is utterly fantastic.

Next, I’ll go with Baran and Raina from the Therian Way series by Kimberly Rogers. Definitely winners of Most Adorable Ship in my opinion! As Therianthropes, they belong to a special breed of mythical fantasy creature that I particularly enjoy, and the way their characters are written comes across so delightfully I would have so much fun if they were at my Christmas party!

Church, from the Grave Reports Series by R. R. Virdi! Strange and enigmatic, his would be a weird addition… but ye gods, the fun we would have! Mostly consisting of me probing for more information about him and his job–but also there might be a lot of jokes at Vince Graves’ expense!

Finally (dang, has it been 5 already??) I would invite Sean King and Michelle Maxwell from David Baldacci’s King and Maxwell series. (So it’s another couple; so what??) Especially if they were represented by Eric McCormack and Rebecca Romijin, like the short-lived TV series based on the books! 100-percent would NOT mind having those two over for dinner!

Casia SchreyerCasia Schreyer

Okay, if I don’t have to stick to books it would be the boys from Supernatural: Sam, Dean, Cas, and Bobby – plus John because I can invite anyone.

If I have to stick to books: Jack from Geralyn Wicher’s Cursed Seed; Hagrid (Harry Potter of course); Jacob Kowalski (Fantastic Beasts – does that count as a book if it was a movie first?); and Charles and Anna (Alpha & Omega series).

BelindaBekkers
Belinda Bekkers

This is difficult for me because I’ve been reading a lot of essays this year rather than fiction. I would have to invite the wife from Dept. of Speculation because she’s a writer with interesting stories to tell. Mark Watney from The Martian because, you know, he’s been in space and he’s funny. His nerdy knowledge would also lead to interesting conversations. Ania from With Blood and Scars. My amazing friend wrote the book and I imagine that if I sat down with Ania it would be like getting to have a chat with the author. I think Rob Fleming from High Fidelity would be great to help with the music. Also for the stories he would be able to tell, it would have to be Pi from Life of Pi.

Laurie Lucking Author HeadshotLaurie Lucking

Ooh, this is fun but hard! I’ll start with Audrey from Julie Hall’s Life After series because she has a great sense of humor and she’s so easy to relate to! Plus she could tell me cool things about heaven 🙂 Next I’d pick Brenna from J.M. Hackman’s Spark – the girl is hilarious and I’d love to see her Firebrand powers in action! Next would be Kamryn and Reese from Illusionary by Desiree Williams, because they’re both amazing and I can’t pick between them! And last I should have another guy, so I’ll go with Ky from Unblemished by Sara Ella since he would definitely keep things interesting 🙂

A Bookish Christmas Blog Hop

10th December Belinda Bekkers – Name a book you love so much you want everyone to find it under their Christmas tree this year, so they can read it too
11th December Jo Linsdell – Name a book cover that has a wonderfully Christmas feel to it
12th December Upstream Writer – Name a book you’d like to find in your Christmas stocking this year
13th December Casia Schreyer – Name a fictional character you’d like to spend Christmas with
14th December Lands Uncharted – Name a fictional character you’d like to kiss under the mistletoe
15th December Angela Guidolin – Name a fictional creature to replace Rudolph and meet on the roof
16th December Skye Hegyes – Name 5 fictional characters you’d invite to your New Year’s Eve party

0000ThanksDragonlings!