Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Governess of Highland Hall: A Book Review

  Hello everyone! Today I will be reviewing The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky! I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Back Cover: Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

 Right then. I may be a fantasy lover, but give me a chance at a good historical fiction and I'm apt to love it just as much. I enjoyed this book. It isn't my favorite historical read of recent memory, but I really did like it. So that I don't ramble on too much, let's look at a few key elements. 

 The plot. The plot was good. I liked the idea of a missionary returning after years of being gone having to adjust back to life as well as getting a job to support her family. It was interesting to watch her work with her charges in a way that would glorify God. There was lots of tension in this book. There was the knowledge of past hurts, and plenty of characters to provide people to dislike. :P 

 This leads me to... the characters. Everyone had a purpose, and everyone accomplished their purpose well. There was Julia, who was wonderful as a sensible missionary/governess trying to get by and changing everyone around her in the process. Then there was William, a multi-faceted man with many deep hurts that Julia found herself being used by the Lord to try to heal. The children were adorable, and unlike the cover leads you to believe, were not that unruly. Millie was a sweet little girl, and Andrew was merely what you'd expect from a nine-year-old boy, full of energy and longing for his father's approval. The two cousins, though, were a bit tough to handle, especially Katherine. Anywho, there were a lot of great characters in the book, and there were a few I really, really, really didn't like, such as the house keeper and William's brother, David. But they were all,  necessary to the plot of the story, and I suppose it wouldn't have been as good without them. 

 Content was what you would expect from a Christian historical romance. No foul language, or anything of the sort. As far as other content goes, there is some kissing, and a guy tries to force himself on a girl, kissing her, but it is quickly put to a stop. 

 At the end of the book I felt like they could have shown the results of different things in the story more. I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, though not enough that I didn't enjoy it. I wanted to see more about the family after certain circumstances, and more of the staff reactions, and... Well, spoilers.

Overall, this was a fun read, and I would love to read the next book in the series. 

 ~ a rambling author


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Loving What You Write: Recycling

So, I'm still working on coming up with new content for the blog, but I have lots in mind. For now, I'm not sure you've all seen this post I wrote on Randomosity Writers a while ago. I talked about loving what you write, and I thought I'd share it with you guys. I've seen a lot of people get discouraged, but I hope this post will encourage you! Next week, I hope to have some of that original stuff I promised. ;)

Loving What You Write

  When you write a story, you’re going to feel sensitive about it, that’s just the way it goes. Trust me, it can be a tad bit depressing to write sentences that just feel loaded down by a herd of elephants. (That was an interesting simile…) What I mean is, when your sentences move so slow, or just don’t sound clever at all, and your dialogue is… blah.
 Half the time, in my opinion, that’s just your feelings. I mean, sure, a story is going to need refining, just like any worthwhile craft, but your original writing is sure to have that new spark. I love reading stories by my friends that have scant to no editing. So here’s a few tips on how to get past the feeling down about your story, and learn to love what you write.

 Quickly write your first draft A lot of people like to edit as they write, but that can be a stressful and tiring way to do it. I, for the most part, try to just get through the first draft as quick as possible, even if I know that there are many things that need fixing, or something isn’t completely accurate to the timeline. It’s best to just write. After that,

 Take a break from your story If you start reading/editing your story right away, it’s only going to depress you. “I spent a month writing this? I spent six months writing this?” Don’t give into the temptation to read your finished work. Instead, set it aside for a few weeks, or a month, and take a break. Maybe read a book you’ve been wanting to read, or start on a new story your passionate about. By the time you come back after distancing yourself from your story, you’ll feel a  lot better about it.

Share your story This is hard for many people. As I said, we’re very touchy or sensitive about our work, and we don’t like to have “prying” eyes reading what we’re still unsure about. But one of the biggest confidence boosters a person can get is if you share your story- with the right people. I’m not saying post it on the internet where the world can see, because there are some mean people out in the world. Some might even steal your idea. But if you share your story with another writing friend, even if they point out some grammatical or sentence structure mistakes, they’re sure to say something good too. You can also share it with family. I’m very close with my sister’s husband’s family. It’s the most wonderful feeling when you have a bunch of kids all wanting you to read them your story, it almost makes you melt. :)  One more…

Go back This is the one I was thinking. One way I can really get back into my story is if I go back several chapters, or even the beginning of the book, and read that part you thought was funny, or just remember why you wrote this story- remember why you love it. If you can get to the heart of your story- the core- then you’ll love it again, especially if you remember why you wrote it in the first place.
And that’s all for today! I hope this post has been helpful in any way to you. Have a great day!

What are some ways you get back to loving your story?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sixteen Blog Tour!

  Hey everyone! I know I promised you photos of Joseph this week, but I didn't realize that today I was scheduled for a blog tour celebrating the release of Sixteen by Emily Rachelle. She has written a wonderful blog post for today's stop. So I'll let her tell you all about "Finding Me in Sixteen" and in me, I mean her. ;) Check at the bottom of the page for more stops on the tour, more about the author, and where you can find Sixteen. Emily is giving away a copy on her blog!

 Finding Me in Sixteen by Emily Rachelle

  Whether or not they admit it, every writer imbues their story with bits of themselves. Their personality, opinions, upbringing, race, religion, hobbies, family, friends, memories -- it all seeps in at some point, consciously or subconsciously. I’m no exception.

I’m a Christian, and Sixteen is most certainly a Christian story. The main character isn’t quite a Christian, but her best friend is. Biblical principles do have a place in my work. The climax hinges on them But I want to dig deeper than that; there’s more than my beliefs tucked into my book.

Nikki loves dance, and she volunteers as an assistant teacher for the kids’ ballet class at her community center. I took ballet in second, third, fifth, and sixth through eighth grade. When I lived on the Air Force base in Okinawa, an island south of Japan, I took lessons at the recreation center. I loved it, but eventually I was ready to move up to a pointe class. There was no beginners’ pointe class, so long story short, I helped with the younger class instead. I spent a year as a teacher’s assistant in the kindergarten class, before officially quitting all dance after the center-wide recital. Both Nikki’s class and the community center are based off that year in my life.

My best friend is Mikaela; she and I met when we both moved to Okinawa at the same time. Christy and Nikki are based off of us, but I can’t really point to either girl and say “that one’s me, that one’s Mikaela.” Nikki shares Mikaela’s birthday and spunk, but her physical appearance and love for dance are mine. (Her lack of klutziness is all Nikki; both Mikaela and I fall a bit short there.) Christy has a younger brother shaped after both my youngest brother Nick and Mikaela’s brothers Kyle and Josh. Plus, she’s a Christian - both Mikaela and I, although different denominations, profess Christianity. Her softer nature, in contrast to Nikki’s get-it-done and let’s-be-crazy attitudes, is probably mostly mine, although Mikaela and I have been known to switch roles in this area more than once.

I’ve never had a sister, and honestly, Matt’s sister Abigail is nothing like Mikaela’s sister. However, growing up, I always wanted a sister. I also wished I was named “Abigail May Miller,” for some reason I can’t remember. If I did have a little sister, I imagine her a lot like Abby.

There’s a bit of a subplot surrounding Nikki, her mom, and the color red in the book. That could be traced in my life to my and my mom’s colors. I’m a sort-of-redhead, and for the longest time, I firmly believed anything resembling red was hideous on me. (It’s my college’s main color… I’m coming around. Actually, I’m wearing my Union University red t-shirt as I write this.) However, Mom’s blonde, and red was always her best color. Plus Mom’s favorite color is pink, while I can’t stand it. I think I probably overdosed on the stuff as a kid. While we never had issues to the extent Mrs. and Nikki Johnson do, I imagine the “red dress debacle” they find themselves in could definitely be an exaggerated version of something in my mom’s and my history.

While I’d love to say Matt is totally in my life, he’s probably the most original creation to grace Sixteen’s pages. Besides, blonde isn’t really my type. ;)

About the author: Born in Panama, Emily Rachelle has traveled throughout the country and the world with her Air Force family. Currently, she lives with her parents and three brothers in middle Georgia. While Emily enjoyed reading as far back as she remembers, writing didn't come to her until she learned the forms of poetry and the basics of story in fourth grade. Since then, she's written scripts for homeschool dramas, poems for birthday presents, and stories for friends and family to enjoy. Sixteen is her debut into the professional world of words. You can find Emily at her blog, Emily Rachelle Writes

Emily Rachelle Writes


Blurb: Nicole "Nikki" Johnson has never gotten along with her mother, so when she meets a great new guy, it's no surprise that Matt's age is all her mom sees. Just because he's twenty-four and she's sixteen doesn't mean he's a creeper! Thankfully, Nikki's dad allows Nikki and Matt to be together and see how things work out. Their relationship is fantastic and Nikki is on cloud nine...

Until the Fourth of July picnic, when things go too far. Now a very changed Nikki has to make choices that will affect her every relationship - with Matt, her parents, her best friend, and most importantly, God.

 Find the book here: 

Smashwords link:

GoodReads: (I can't add a cover yet)

 Other stops on the tour 
Zara Hoffman - Why I Chose Self-Publishing - January 19
Covers and Ink - The Story Behind Sixteen - January 20
Literary and Lace - Interview - January 21
Iola's Christian Reads - Sixteen Facts About Sixteen - January 22
 Writings of Rosie- The Theme of Sixteen - January 23
Tales of Goldstone Wood - Interview - January 24
Blooming With Books - Name Meanings - January 25
Na's Not So Newsworthy Thoughts - Excerpt - January 26
Musings of a Creative Mind - It Takes a Village - January 27
The Ramblings of a Young Author - Finding Me in Sixteen - January 28
United in His Love - Interview - January 29
Author Mariella Hunt - Mother-daughter quotes - January 30
Realm of Hearts - Interview - January 31
Zerina Blossom - Dream Casting - February 1
Appasionata - Playlist - February 2
Summer Snowflakes - Interview - February 3
- See more at:

Zara Hoffman - Why I Chose Self-Publishing - January 19
Covers and Ink - The Story Behind Sixteen - January 20
Literary and Lace - Interview - January 21
Iola's Christian Reads - Sixteen Facts About Sixteen - January 22
 Writings of Rosie- The Theme of Sixteen - January 23
Tales of Goldstone Wood - Interview - January 24
Blooming With Books - Name Meanings - January 25
Na's Not So Newsworthy Thoughts - Excerpt - January 26
Musings of a Creative Mind - It Takes a Village - January 27
The Ramblings of a Young Author - Finding Me in Sixteen - January 28
United in His Love - Interview - January 29
Author Mariella Hunt - Mother-daughter quotes - January 30
Realm of Hearts - Interview - January 31
Zerina Blossom - Dream Casting - February 1
Appasionata - Playlist - February 2
Summer Snowflakes - Interview - February 3
- See more at:
Zara Hoffman - Why I Chose Self-Publishing - January 19
Covers and Ink - The Story Behind Sixteen - January 20
Literary and Lace - Interview - January 21
Iola's Christian Reads - Sixteen Facts About Sixteen - January 22
 Writings of Rosie- The Theme of Sixteen - January 23
Tales of Goldstone Wood - Interview - January 24
Blooming With Books - Name Meanings - January 25
Na's Not So Newsworthy Thoughts - Excerpt - January 26
Musings of a Creative Mind - It Takes a Village - January 27
The Ramblings of a Young Author - Finding Me in Sixteen - January 28
United in His Love - Interview - January 29
Author Mariella Hunt - Mother-daughter quotes - January 30
Realm of Hearts - Interview - January 31
Zerina Blossom - Dream Casting - February 1
Appasionata - Playlist - February 2
Summer Snowflakes - Interview - February 3
- See more at:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Thursdays

 Hello everyone! This is the third post this week. So far so good! Today is the day to celebrate books! It might have to do with any facet of books, like reviews, or covers, or just about anything! Today, I'm just going to share a few books that are coming up in my review schedule.

  First off will be The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky which I should be finished with and ready to review by next Thursday! I'm enjoying it so far. It's about a young woman who was a missionary with her family for many years until her father's sickness force them to come back to England where she applies for the job of a governess. You'll find out more next Thursday if you come, or you can just look it up for yourself on Amazon, or goodreads, or CBD.

 Next up... Undaunted by Christine Caine. This is the student edition of the book, and challenges young people to dare to do what God calls them to do. I've only read a short amount of it, but it seems very good and thought provoking. It also deals with an issue close to my heart... that of the trafficking of young women. I'm thinking it will be a good devotional companion.

 This one I don't know /too/ much about as it's the first in a series, and I have yet to read it. But it sounds pretty interesting as a fantasy novel... involving jumping between worlds and dragons. I guess I'll see what I think.

 This book just arrived in the mail today. And I'm itching to read it. From what I've gathered, it looks to be a mixture of Daddy Long Legs and a Jane Austen book. But in present day. Being a fan of both Daddy Long Legs (squee!) and Jane Austen type stuff, this book may be the perfect thing for me. It's even written in letter form like DLL and she's writing to a guy using the name of a Jane Austen character. An orphan girl's education is paid for by a secret benefactor who requires she write him letters about her progresss.

Lastly, (I believe...) is Outcasts by Jill Williamson. This one should need no explanation if you've read many of my blog posts. I LOVE Jill Williamson writing. In fact, I own both the ARC and published version of the prequel to the first book in this series, Captives. This has yet to arrive, but I expect it's in the mail. In the future most of civilization lives in a walled city known as the Safe Lands... but the Safe Lands aren't as safe as promised. When they don't have much hope of a future of having healthy children, they kidnap many of a small village outside the city... and the story continues in this book. I'm excited to read it!

 I believe those are the books in my review queue. I have a lot more books that are just for reading for fun... Perhaps I'll share some of them at a later time... but for now...

 What are you reading? Any review books? Or just reading for pleasure?

~ a rambling author

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday of Writing!

 Hey ya'll. Welcome to the first... Wednesday of Writing! This is the day of the week I talk about all things writing... whether mine, or someone else's. Today, I'm going to talk about the writing stuff that's been going on in my life.

 If you've been following this blog you know I participated in NaNo. I said I was going to update you guys on that, but totally failed. So see this as your extremely belated NaNo update.

I worked on my dystopian story, Up The Scarlet Staircase. (Which you can read part of here if you're so inclined... Not sure how much longer I'll have it up.) I did, in fact, win NaNo with a whopping 50,002 words. *Balloon deflates.* Yeah, it wasn't as big as some people's word counts, but it was something.

I was proud to get that much, considering it was show week for A Christmas Carol, and we had shows at the same time. I actually worked on the story during breaks, and took my laptop with me to a restaurant the cast went to hang out after the show on the LAST day of November. It was there, cheered on by the wonderful family that was the cast, I managed to whack out the last 2000 words or so. I don't know if I coud have done it if it wasn't for them. I finished it at about eleven or so, and we hurried to get internet so I could make it official. That night was crazy.

 The story still has a long way to go until it's complete, but I think I've given it a good foundation.

 As far as other things going on...

 I'm getting back to the editing of The Prince's Quest. I'd like to have that all ready in the next few
This graphic was made for me by Bryan McBride! :D
months. Here's hoping! I love this story. It was my first novel that was actually the length a novel should be. And though much of it was written before I knew the things I know about writing now, I really want this story to get out there. Even if I have to change every sentence. When author's talk about the one story that is special to them... this is mine. This is my baby. And I'm ready to make it happen.

 Remember The Pauper's Masquerade? That little story is currently submitted to a contest. I finished it, edited it, and sent it in. Now I'm just waiting to see what happens. But whether I win or not, I am content. Because if I don't win, I'll probably just develop it into a story.

 My most recent project is a short story inspired by a morbid thought. What would it be like to be the child of a serial killer? I mean, if you research, lots of murderers have been shown to have children. Imagine what kind of life that would be. So maybe it's my attempt to raise awareness, or just to give the subject some thought. It's titled Before Dusk and is almost completed.

Here's an excerpt: 

  Chills raced up my arms, and I peered ahead as a tall, broad shouldered man exited the vehicle.

 He approached, noticing me right away. I studied him as he did the same with me.

 My dad was… handsome. I mean, for an old guy. He must have been in his late thirties.

 His blond hair was parted to the side, and swept into a supermodel kind of look. Sunglasses rested on his nose, and his sculpted jaw opened in a smile. He was clothed in a suit and tie as if he’d just left a day at the office. I stared at his tan skin, thinking of my own pale complexion.

 He turned his flashy grin on me.

 Yep, definitely supermodel material.

 He lowered his glasses, his deep blue eyes looking at me over the rims. “Sophie.”

 My heart jumped at the sound of my own name, spoken in his mellow voice.

 Mrs. Simpson stepped up beside me. “Hello, Mr. Connors. As you can see, Sophie is all ready to leave.”

 I looked at my foster mom out of the corner of my eye. She was quick to get rid of me.

 He flashed her that perfect smile, and I was sure I saw his teeth twinkle in the sunlight. “Well, that sounds perfect.” He reached for my bag, but I instinctively pulled it closer to myself.

 Mrs. Simpson laughed and jerked it from my hold, handing it to my father.

 He pushed his sunglasses back over his eyes. “Well, then. You ready to go, kiddo?”
  By the way, Baby, It's Cold Outside is finished, but needing some massive revising. And Chasing Shadows is still on hiatus. Poor thing. 
But enough about me. What are you working on?

 Come back tomorrow for Book Thursday! Or whatever I decide to call it...

~ a rambling author

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Other Side of Me: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

 It's Tuesday! And according to my new blog schedule, that means it's Life and Theater day! That means I'll be posting about the things happening in my life for every Tuesday on out. (Or sometimes I might just talk about theater stuff.) *Throws confetti.* For my first post in my Life schedule... I'm going to be continuing my 'Other Side of Me' series which has been neglected far too long. You can read previous posts in the series here.

 Today I'm going to be talking about the second show I had the pleasure of performing in... Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Here's one of the songs from the show so you can have an idea.


 So, before I found out they were doing this show, I heard they were thinking about doing Peter Pan. Peter Pan is one of my favorite favorite favorite shows. So I was beyond excited. But then it came out that we couldn't do Peter Pan, and they were going to do Joseph instead. I was disappointed at first because I love Peter Pan so much, but I ended up having so much fun with Joseph that I can't imagine what not doing it would be like. This was done with the same group I did Willy Wonka with. 

 Instead of a classic audition, they had something called an "Audition Workshop" for Joseph. You could sign up for two different slots, and we chose the first one. When I say we, I refer to my older brother, Micah, who I roped into doing theater with me. We had gone to see Peter Pan at CYT a few months earlier, so that had hyped his interest in theater significantly since it was such a great show. 

 The Workshop was comprised of acting games and group singing. 

 After it was over my brother and I were both called for callbacks a couple of weeks later. 

 This time, there were lots of kids at callbacks. But for some reason I felt so much more at ease than I had at the Willy Wonka callbacks. I had been listening to the Joseph soundtrack and had a pretty good grasp on the words and tunes of a lot of the songs. 

 At this point in time I had been expecting to be tried for only female parts, but Mrs. A said at the beginning of callbacks that girls could try for guy parts too. 

 So when they asked who would like to try to sing 'One More Angel in Heaven' (seen below) I volunteered. It was a good day for me, I guess. I just had fun and sang the song in a low man-like voice. I remember one of the directors saying, "Careful boys, or the girls will get all the parts!" Some of the other girls were doing well too. 


  My brother also did well, and was tried for several large parts. They picked some of us and lined us up according to height.

 This was right before Thanksgiving. I was actually out of state visiting family for the holiday when the cast list was posted. We looked. I had been cast as Gad, one of Joseph's brothers, and Micah had been cast as Levi, another one of them. It was an exciting day.

 Rehearsals started. There were a couple other girls cast as brothers, as well as several boys, and we had the greatest time together at rehearsals being a little family. Joseph is one of my favorite show experiences because I just had a blast doing it.

 I mean, there were a couple things that happened, but all together it was a great show to be a part of. I could say a lot of things. There were so many memories combined about that show. Like tearing legs off a cardboard goat, and seventies dance moves, and trying to eat my brother during 'Canaan Days.' Oh, and I had to wear a beard. A beard. I had to glue a beard on my face. Fun. And then I had to take it off afterward. But it was totally worth it, and I would do it again!

I know I'm probably missing something, so if you have any questions about the Joseph experience, post 'em in the comments. Oh, and next week I'll post some photos from it!

Hope you enjoyed!

 Come back tomorrow for a post about writing! 

~ a rambling author


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Begins

 So it's Tuesday. (Edit: It was Tuesday when I started writing this, but something came up. :/) And that means a blog post. Though I admit, I was tempted not to write one. And I'm promise, it's not because of lazy. But when you spend the majority of your day sitting in a hospital, writing a blog post just isn't the first thing on your mind.
 Yep. For the past couple days, I've been out of state visiting my Papa who is in the hospital for blood clots in his lungs. Prayers are much appreciated for this, and other issues he is facing.
 But I still want to write a blog post. Because I need to. 

 It's 2014.  A New Year. We're fourteen days in, and I haven't spoken of it yet. But 2014 is another year of change, both here on the blog, and in life. It's the year I graduate from High School, the year I start truly thinking about college, the year I become an adult. The thought of so much change can be scary.

 But I'm going to face the change head on, and turn it into something more.

 This year I've decided to take part in One Word 365.

 It's a website that challenges you to pick one word for a whole year that you are striving toward. My word is change. Not just the life changes that I can't control, but I want change in other areas that I might have to work toward. I want change in my spiritual life, change in how I do things. Changes for the better.

 At the end of 2014 I want to look back and realize that I'm a different person. That I've changed in ways to glorify the Lord and uplift those around me. I want to change in a way that I would not get so easily distracted, and do the things I need to do when I need to do them. I want to change so that I get things accomplished that I never thought I would.

 There are so many things that change could apply to. And I can't wait to see where this word takes me.

 As far as goals I'm hoping to accomplish this year... There are many. Some are personal and private. Others are some I might share. Some I may not even know yet. I want to be more of a help at home and different things in my personal life. And... as far as writing goes... here are my writing goals for this year.

 I want to finish edits and rewrites of The Prince's Quest so I can start querying this year.

 I want to finish some other projects as well, though PQ is my main concern at this moment.

 Oh, and on the blog I'm about to start a new schedule. Here's hoping it works! ;) My idea is to have something like this.

Tuesdays: Posts about Theater and Life.
Wednesday: Posts about writing related topics... AKA my normal posts.
Thursday: Posts about books... what I'm reading, cover spotlights, etc.

 This may change over time, and I might do these posts differently. Who knows? I'm taking it one step at a time, but excited for this change! I'm hoping to start this next week, depending on how things go.

 Anyway, this is my official introduction post to the new year. I'm excited!

~ a rambling author

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Captive Maiden: A Book Review

 Hello everyone! It's Tuesday. Today I'm going to be reviewing The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Back cover: Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore?
Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.


 I like Melanie Dickerson's book. I have a special place in my heart for fairytale retellings, and she takes on that task in a creative way... placing her stories in medieval countries. It's quite interesting to see her retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and now with Captive Maiden, Cinderella. (Sadly, I have yet to read the story that started it all, The Healer's Apprentice, but I plan too!)

 Anywho, on to my review. Of all the Melanie Dickerson books I have had the pleasure of reading, this one was my favorite. There was just something about it that drew me in even more than the previous two I read. From the first page I was enthralled, pulled into Gisela's story and thirsty for more.

 First off, there's the plot. Some may not like them, but I'm still the girl that loves the idea of a guy saving a girl. And I suppose that's a bit of the plot. But that's not all. It wasn't your average Cinderella story at all. I liked how she wrote it differently, like that the romantic interest knew who Gisela was for most of the story. It was a creative twist, and made the story so much better. I love how part of the story takes place around a tournament of knights, and that she got some of her ideas from reading Ivanhoe. I love... well. I love a lot of it, but I don't want to spoil anything.

 Then there's the characters. Gisela was the perfect Cinderella. She's spirited, and sweet, and knows she could up and leave her cruel stepmother and stepsisters if she ever had the mind. She and Valten are so cute together in a different sort of way. Valten takes an immediate liking to her because he is free to talk with her about horses and such things most young ladies didn't enjoy discussing at that time. Speaking of Valten, it was so nice to see more of him in this book. His tough exterior was peeled back bit by bit as he grew closer to Gisela. Turns out, he's a really nice guy! There's several other fantastic characters, but I believe Valten's chatty younger sister, Margaretha, deserves a shout-out. She's just so funny and sweet. You can't imagine my joy at the realization that she's getting her own story soon!

 Anyway. I really enjoyed this book. Tremendously. I read it in a couple of days, and my appetite is already whetted for another book by Melanie Dickerson. I think every book she writes just seems to get better and better.

~ a rambling author


 So. I'm not very happy with myself. My plant to post something the first few days of January didn't exactly pan out, but for once I have an excuse. :P Tuesday was my last day to spend with just my sister and her family before coming home, the day after was the last day to spend with friends as well as get things packed up, Thursday we traveled home, Friday we had rehearsal (we also slept in,) Saturday we had to get up early and go to rehearsal, Sunday we had church, etc. So you see... I was quite busy. ;)

 So instead of several blog posts over a span of time, I'm going to make this one big blog post celebrating the year that was 2013, and perhaps later this week I'll write one looking towards the future.

 2013 was the year...

I wrote Baby, It's Cold Outside.
I was Glinda and Auntie Em in Wizard of Oz.
My niece turned one.
I finished writing The Prince's Quest.
I started watching Doctor Who.
My nephew was born.
I was in Les Miserables.
Met my nephew.
I was staff at camp, and got to work with sweet little girls.
I met new people.
I grew closer to those I knew.
I met Leah in person.
Traveled to Kentucky.
I got lots of books.
I started reading 6 sections of the Bible.
Wrote four skits about sailors and pirates.
I went to the Assembly and worshiped the Lord.
I was Mrs. Mops in A Christmas Carol. One of the most wonderful experiences.
Sarah became one of my closest friends.
I auditioned for Willy Wonka, and got the role of Mrs. Gloop
I wrote The Pauper's Masquerade.
I submitted The Pauper's Masquerade to a writing contest.
I received hugs and kisses from my niece and smiles from my nephew.
I received hugs from the other children in my life.
Met up with Leah again and filmed a short film. :D
I spent Christmas together with my family.
I had the best year ever.

I did so many things. Probably more things then listed here! And they were all wonderful. I'm so thankful to the Lord for the year that 2013 was, and I'm thankful to have a wonderful family to spend 2014 with!

 And now, for your morbid curiosity... Here is a list of books I read this year, and to challenge myself... a one sentence summary of what I thought. :P I also have this thing about pretty covers, so I'll say if I liked a cover.

 The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill - This was an excellent book about a teen writer that I can identify very well with! I like this cover.

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson - One of my favorite discoveries of 2013, I love, love, LOVE this book.

The Tide of Unmaking by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper - This ending to one of my favorite series' just tore my feeling all to pieces and left them scattered on the ground.

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore - This was a very interesting book to fit into the supernatural genre, making me happy because its for the most part biblical accuracy.

Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore - I had to read the sequel to Angel Eyes, and I liked it quite a lot.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux - A book my favorite musical was based on... yes please... thrilling.

Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker - This was the first book I read that made me laugh and cry a few minutes from the other, such a beautiful story! Pretty cover.

It's Complicated by Laura L. Smith - A complicated little book that made you feel for the characters, and hope for the best in the end.

To Darkness Fled by Jill Williamson - I liked the sequel to By Darkness Hid even better than the first, it's so good!

Rock Harbor: Search and Rescue by Colleen Coble - A good start to a middle grade mystery series.

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale - I've been waiting for a sequel to Princess Academy for years, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, and it was worth it! Lovely cover.

Storm by Evan Angler - I like his writing, it's very Lemony Snicket, and I liked this book.

Captives by Jill Williamson - If you can't tell, I love anything by Jill, and this was no exception... can't wait for the next book in the series. Awesome cover.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - I wanted to read this one before it became a movie and exploded, and it was a mostly pleasant experience.

Warp: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer - I really really liked this book, it was very cool. And the cover (US version) is so so cool.

Angry by Laura L. Smith - Laura sent this to me because she's so crazy sweet, and I was in Les Miserables at the time... and I must say, I enjoyed it greatly, especially with all the Les Mis references. :)

Beloved Enemy by Al Lacy -  As I've said before... one of the most disappointing reads of the year... I was expecting so much more, but I was pretty bored by the end.

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey - Pretty good for a quick read, could have used some more development though.

Golden by Cameron Dokey - An original concept--a bald Rapunzel--makes for a very interesting book. This particular cover edition is pretty.

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey - My favorite of her books that I read, this retelling of Mulan made me happy.

Viewers by Scott Hawthorne - Another one of the year's disappointments.

The Destiny of One by Sarah Holman - A rollicking space adventure from a Christian vantage point... great book.

The Destiny of a Few by Sarah Holman - Is it possible to like the second even better than the first? I believe tis.

Swept Away by Mary Connealy - This was the first book I read by this author, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse - An interesting addition to Christian fantasy, I enjoyed this one.

Burning Sky by Lori Benton - A book filled with exquisite word descriptions, how could I not love it? And the cover... Beautiful.

Anomaly by Krista McGee - I'm so excited that some Christian authors are finally writing Dystopian... this is a really exciting book! The cover is so cool.

From Darkness Won - The explosive finale of The Blood of Kings series left me wanting more.

Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner - A terrifying book if you think about it... what would you do if you witnessed a crime and were kidnapped for it?

Dark Halo - The final book in the Angel Eyes series was good, just as its predecessors were. Compelling cover.

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson - I liked this book a lot, and really grew to like many of the characters. Also, the cover is lovely.

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson - I think this is my favorite book by this author so far... sooo good... but I'm reviewing it tomorrow, so... And the cover is so pretty!

Cave Secrets of the Pterodactyl by Lydia Howe - A very good little book that I think kids everywhere will enjoy.

Edenbrooke - A lovely regency romance with lots of gentlemen and ladies, and and a good ol' story. The cover is also pretty.

 So that's that. Those are the books I read in 2013. Have you read any of these? Are they any you read that you think are particularly good?

 So in short, 2013 was a great year, and I can't wait to see what 2014 holds in store!