Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Prologue // I Am Queen excerpt (also The Block)

I'been trying to write for days. Weeks really. I've been experiencing that lovely little complication writers unaffectionately refer to as "writers block." Every so often The Block comes along and steals every single little letter word right out of your brain, and refuses to return them until you've begged, cried, blamed and begged some more, and finally completely given up trying because it's useless. The words just aren't there anymore. That's when The Block decides to give the words back, but instead of just returning them with a sweet please and thank-you, The Block throws those words at your head as hard and fast as it can, leaving you to scribble as fast as you can while attempting to keep up.
          But its pretty hard to be mad, because when it finally decides to return those missing words again, The Block usually sends a lovely idea or two to sort of smooth it all over, and somehow it usually works. those ideas make it all worth it.

so all this is pretty much a nonsensical way to say, i started writing again this morning after a break, and came up with some lovely stuff. i even discovered that my novel needed a prologue! (who would have thought it!) It's my "villeins" back story, and is going to make writing about him so much easier. Because now I finally understand him and why he's so hateful. It is rather exciting!! 

In honor of this lovely occasion, (or really just because I want to!) I have decided to share two teeny-weeny snippits from my new prologue! 

Oak trees and green grass on hills over valley in spring at sunset, Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

She slipped away at dusk, while the sky was brilliant with oranges and pinks, leaving me parent-less and heartbroken.
I Am Queen - Prologue 

Owen Ellis

... I took six men with me and journeyed as fast as possible, arriving in London six days later. I was unsure of how to proceed with finding my father, but finally determined to present myself at Court. There was no reason why I shouldn't. I was Lord Ellis' only son and complete heir. I was to inherit his vast wealth and title, and was fully competent to approach the king without any presumption on my part.    - I Am Queen - Prologue

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rilla of Ingleside // Book Review

 Anne's children are almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one can resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can't think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford  But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside is endangered by a far-of war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rill brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and changes her forever.

I was rather sad to be beginning this book. You see, it is {almost} the last book in the Anne Shirley series, and my adventure of meeting Anne and her friends and family face to face for the first time ever is over, and I love Anne so much. I have consoled myself, though, with the knowledge that I am able to visit with Anne any time I like when I open the books or watch the movies.
          Rilla of Ingleside is primarily about Rilla, (surprise, surprise!! :), Anne's youngest, and perhaps most spirited, daughter. She is fun, different, and interesting, and her story was compelling. I actually cried during several chapters, (and as you all probably know by now, that's almost a novelty! Except during this book. I cry all the way through that one. I are you to try to read it without crying! I read it last night. {most of it, it's not terribly long,} and bawled like a baby! :) 
          The characters were well developed, and I felt like I really really got to know them. There were parts that I could see long in advance, and then there were some interesting plot-twists. I loved the way she fell in love with tiny Jims, and how he managed to change her mind about babies. Walter was one of my very favorite characters. He is so thoughtful and gentle, so much like Anne in a way, but also so much like Gilbert. He was one special boy. Anne was perfectly lovely, as usual, and sweet and wonderful. 
          I have to say, Susan is one of my very favoritest characters in the whole series. {besides all obvious ones, of course.}. She is so ridiculous and headstrong, stubborn, and know-it-all, yet prim and proper and lovable. I almost wish I could hire a housekeeper/cook just like her, just for the amusement! I would want to cook and do things differently, though, so our relationship wouldn't last very long. :)

          Perhaps this is rather more of a ramble, than a review, but there are my thoughts on Rilla of Ingleside. :)

* * * * * * * * * {nine of ten} (One more than Rainbow Valley because it made me cry, and that deserves noteworthy attention. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

reading the hours away


           i.  it's been cold but dry lately. it seems so strange to not have any snow, because, this is the first january i can remember that we haven't had at least a little snow. the whole rest of the country seems to be having snow! ;) but i can't honestly say that i mind the fact that we don't have it this year (yet). since i just got my license last month, i'm not exactly looking forward to the day i have to venture out on thin ice.:) 
           ii.  and this kind of weather is perfect for snuggling up with tea and a good book and blissfully reading the hours away. i've set a reading goal this year for the first time in my life. i never felt the need before, but i decided that this year i wanted a goal to strive towards. i can't say that it's going to be hard to reach 100 books, because it isn't. thanks to the speed reading/ comprehension course my mother put me through several years ago, i burn though books at an alarming rate. but i love lists, and keeping track of all sorts of random stuff, and i think that keeping track of all the books i read this year and working towards a goal will be extremely rewarding. 
          iii.  i know i can'st stop talking about books once i get started. it must drive some people nuts sometimes. when i stop to think about it, "what have you been reading?" is probably like the first question i ask people, except for the customary"how are you." it's not that i don't care about people and how they are and all that, it's just that reading and writing are my biggest passions, and i love people who share that passion with me. i recently started discovering Goodreads. i have known about it since last year, and started an account, but i got back on, and started exploring a little bit and am in love with it. It is amazing. okay. i'll stop now. :)
          iiii. this is kind of a rambley post, but it seems like my brain has been pretty rambley this week, if that makes sense. it's been really hard to be productive and motivated. all i want to do is sip tea and read. maybe it's just winter blues. maybe i'm just tired of my mundane routine and need to be more busy. 

laugh // listen // watch // read // agree

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Red Badge of Courage // Book Review

The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane

All his life, Henry had dreamed of war and bloody conflict. Now he was part of it. Shells burst all around him like strange flowers. Gunfire ripped toward him in great sheets of flame.
          Then, without any warning, the enemy attacked. Screaming hordes of wild-eyed rebels were advancing across the field of battle. Fear spread through the ranks. First, a man on Henry's left turned tail and ran. Then, another and another. Then, without even knowing why, Henry was running too, unbuttoned coat bulging in the breeze, running in a grim race from death.

This book has been on my reading list for a while, and a little while ago I finally sat down and read it. Being only 149 pages long, I read was easily able to read it in one day, (maybe two hours of reading?). I am glad to finally be able to cross this one off my list. I honestly had no clue what this book was about, other than it had to do with war somehow, (obviously because of the cover. :) It covers three days, telling the story of one young boy's experiences in his first battle. Henry didn't strike me as a particularly wonderful character during the first half of the book. He was shallow, annoying, and childish. He was scared to death, (and had my fullest sympathy. Honestly, when you stop to consider what soldiers, then and now, must feel when faced with the awful reality of war and death fort the first time, it is frightening and horrible. I don't blame Henry at all.) During the last half of the book, though, Henry began to change, and mature dramatically. He became absorbed in his task, (fighting the rebels,) and started to see life, people and himself in a different way. He changed from an annoying teenager thrust into the middle of a tragic setting, into a brave man (theoretically. he was still only like 16.) intent on proving himself and his regiment.
          The Red Badge of Courage is a little strange. There were some parts that were weird, and maybe a little unnecessary. I am thinking of one death scene in particular, where one of Henry's friend's died, (don't worry, I'm not giving any spoilers. :) and it went into great detail, describing the whole death scene, and I wonder if it was necessary or not. On the other hand, perhaps it had a great impact on Henry and helped him to mature. Maybe I'm rambling a little. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this book, if you've read it, or do in the future.

My rating: * * * * * * {six of ten}

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Scarlet Pimpernel // Book Review

The Scarlet Pimpernel
By Baroness Orczy

The Scarlet Pimpernel takes place during the French Revolution, which lasted from 1789-99, and involved an overthrow of the monarchical regime by the peasant classes. As a result of this uprising, a Reign of Terror took hold, where aristocrats were condemned, imprisoned and sent to the guillotine. In Orczy's novel, a masked hero known as the Scarlet Pimpernel rescues those aristocrats trying to flee the gates of Paris and takes them safely to England, where they enjoy diplomatic immunity from the terror of the masses. (Summery taken from here.)

Having watched a movie adaption nearly four years ago I was a little skeptical of this story, but excited to discover for myself whether Sir Percy really was such an idiotic dork that he was portrayed in the movie, whether Marguerite  was sweet and lovable, and whether this story really was exciting. When my dear friend gave me a copy of the book  as a birthday present, I was very, very happy, and super excited to read it. Honestly, I was expecting it to be wordy and a little hard to get through, and goodness gracious was I wrong! The Baroness Orczy has a lovely writing style, in my opinion, and her book was clever, fun, and so darn interesting! I felt that I really got to know the characters I was most interested in, and was able to loathe those who deserved loathing and adore those who were heroic and stole my heart. (I usually manage to fall head-over-heels in love with bad guys, but not with this story. The bad guys were disgusting! :) Percy was a dork, but such a lovable dork that it was quite all right with me. And Marguerite had her faults and made plenty of devastating mistakes, but her sweetness and remorse quite made up for it, and I felt she made a perfectly lovely heroine. She wasn't too perfect or two horrible, and those are two great mistakes that many writers make.  I shall be recommending The Scarlet Pimpernel to everyone I talk books with, and anyone who will listen, and forcing my brothers (when they are a little older,) to read it. :) It was beautifully written and exceptionally wonderful. go read it. seriously!! 

My rating:* * * * * * * * * {nine of ten}  

P.s. It recently came to my realization that I have never rated a book under a six. my reason for this is that I read classic books by the master writers almost exclusively, (aside from the occasional Janette Oke or other modern author,) and thus my high ratings. The books I review are amazing and beautifully written. So I'm not just an enthusiastic reader who thinks every book is wonderful and deserving of a high amount of stars. :) whew. glad to get that off my chest! :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

chasing the sun

since getting my license last month, i've gone out a few times to chase the sunset. shooting at different locations than the one standard sunset shot i can get from my house (The first photo is what i mean. :),  it's been amazing, and i plan to try to find even more creative situations and back grounds. one can't alwayshoot photo's omountains, you know. (apparently that what is known as a sarcasm font. in my opinion every picture could have one of my mountains in it and all would be lovely and wonderful. I think Hallie would agree with me completely. :) 

Friday, January 3, 2014

to kill a mockingbird // book review

To Kill a Mocking Bird
by Harper Lee

Scout Finch is an outspoken and literate six-year-old tomboy when she begins her tale of growing up in a small Alabama town with her brother Jem and her attorney father Atticus. The children's intense curiosity about a reclusive neighbor is eclipsed by Atticus' attempt to defend a black man against charges of raping a white woman.

This book had been on my reading list for quite a while, and I finally bought it one day a few months ago, fully intending to read it as soon as I finished the stack of library books and various other books I had borrowed/bought. But I never sat down to actually read it (other than to admire it's lovely and amazing cover,), as usually happens when you put something off to do something else first and I didn't read it until two weeks ago. (updated to add, I wrote this review about a month ago, and because I had several other reviews waiting to be published, it's been sitting in my drafts. :) I fell in love with it immediately.  The story is from an interesting perspective, a small child, filled with so much realness and emotion. This was another book that made me cry. :) It was wonderful, despite how sad and heartbreaking the story was. To Kill a Mockingbird is a book older teens should definitely add to their reading lists. Scout, Jem and Dill are lovable, interesting children, and the story that unfolds around them is a masterpiece.

My rating: * * * * * * * * {seven out of ten} (After much though, I determined that this book deserved a nine or ten for plotting, how well it was written, character development and all that lovely stuff, but unfortunately contained several swear words, thus I rated it lower. )

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


    It is 2014. It really sneaked up on me this year. I knew it was going to happen, you know, it's seven days away, and then three, and then tomorrow is a new year. It'll be 2014 in six hours, now an hour, now fifteen minuets. Only ten seconds to go. And then it happens, and it's a huge surprise. And you're left thinking, "wait, it was just June..." and it's a huge shock to think that you just finished another year of your life.
'Dis kid is adorable!!!! :) 

          This year was hard. My family has been about to "move some time in the next month or two" for like six months now, and it's not easy to live like you might be leaving soon all the time.  I tore a tendon in my right thumb in February  and and still dealing with a ton of issues from that. I'm not really supposed to be playing piano,  and music and piano is really one the biggest passions in my life. It's been really hard to stay away from my piano, and some days I sit down and play and pour my soul into music for a while despite the pain and the chance of doing more damage, because I just can't stay away. It's a huge part of me, and honestly keeps me happy and sane. :)
One of the few photos I snapped at my brother's wedding.  (actually now that I think about it, I think that Emilee, Andrew's lovely girlfriend snapped this, because I was over chatting with Andrew. :)

          But this year was good too. There were some really huge huge things that happened, like spending two months with my auntie's family this summer, and my brother done got himself hitched to a beautiful girl!!!!! (it's still pretty crazy when I think about it. Like, MY BROTHER IS MARRIED! Whaa?) There were some super cool things, like going through Drivers Ed with a couple friends, and getting my drivers licence, and getting to know this special lady so much better, reading so many amazing books, turning seventeen, and starting to write a story of my own. 
My sister-in-laws younger sister, Hannah and I. She is beautiful and amazing and super fun. :)

          And then there were some funny things that happened, like the day we were driving home from someplace on the Freeway, and I noticed a super cute redheaded eighteen or nineteen year-old boy in the RV passing us, dancing like crazy in the passenger seat; I started to giggle, and he managed to glance over at that moment, and saw me laughing at him, and he stopped instantly, and then grinned sheepishly and waved. I waved back, and that started a long performance (mostly on his side,) of waving dramatically, and then when the RV had passed us to where we couldn't see each other he started to stick his head and arms out the window, still waving. It totally made my day. But then I had to explain to Mom why i was flirting with the boy in the other car. :)

          2013 was interesting and fun, and full of new experiences and growing. But I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring. 
Happy New Years, dearies!