Book Review | The Beast of Talesend

The Beast of Talesend
Beaumont & Beasley {Book 1}
Kyle Robert Shultz

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

Perfect for fans of Doctor Who, Once Upon A Time, Indiana Jones, or The Dresden Files, the Beaumont and Beasley series features high adventure in a world where fairy tales are history.

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I humbly decided to spare you all the usual lengthy review and simply gush and gush and GUSH about how much I enjoyed this little novel.  I could go on and on, my friends.  Seriously!  It was such a fun read, I promptly passed it on to my husband -- who read it in less than two days -- and then on to my brother-in-law.  Needless to say, the Hubs loved it! and it will definitely circulate the fam, I can tell you that.  A huge shout out to the author, Kyle Robert Schultz, for his amazing debut!!

The plot is so unique and creative.  The story-world is amazing.  I LOVE the characters!!!!  The villains.  The magic.  The Artifacts.  The STORY.  Nick.  Cordelia.  Mirrordelia.  Crispin.

The HUMOR, y'all.  There were many times in the dialogue I could've simply laughed aloud.  Told in first person, the writing seems so natural, you feel as if you are the one in Nick's shoes, er, talon-like-claws/feet (if I recall correctly).  It was only with great self-control I kept my giggles and snickering to myself.  ;D  

As you can see, I placed my rating at the top because it was so darn good.  It is an easy read, but don't let that fool you.  Each chapter is chock-full of fun, action, adventure, and humor.  No language, whatsoever.  Extremely clean.  PERFECT for a family read-aloud, if you ask me!  There's a wee bit of violence in which characters are beaten around, slapped on the face, or shot with a gun. 

But that's all I'm going to dispense.  Read for yourself!!! You won't regret it.  :] Many thanks to my bloggy friends for recommending this to me! [Especially to dear Lauri, whom I recall vividly and practically pushing (virtually) said book down my throat. (And to any of my other buds who might've pointed me in its direction! Sorry to have forgotten you. . .]

Now it's my turn to virtually shove said book down the piehole of your brain.

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Seriously, tho.
 This was a great, clean faerietale retelling that I would definitely recommend to all ages.  I can't wait to get my hands on the sequels!!! 

YES.  There's MORE!

Happy Christmas to you and yours, my lovelies!

It's Christmastime! | A Look at 2017


Christmas is less than ten days away!  And then, just a mere week after this sacred holiday, we kick off a new year.  O___O  

Wow.  It blows my mind how Time can simply FLY, or freeze in place - you know what they say about a "watched pot never boils."  ;D  That is so not true for this year of 2017.  I think I literally JUST got comfortable writing the '7' instead of the '6,' and now I must soon train my liddle brain to write an '8'!  *BOGGLED*

I won't bore you with a thoroughly detailed recap of this past year.  But I do wish to say each year is a new chapter in life.  I have laughed and cried and grown in knowledge; I've made a ton of mistakes, but I/m learning to work through them and gain wisdom for life's journey ahead.  It's such a comfort to know that our God is a forgiving and merciful God.

I don't have much time, so I'll be as brief as possible.  :]

This has has been fabulous.  Crazy, yes, but wonderful!  I've learned more and more every day what it means to be a wife to my husband Evan.  I was hired on at a new and challenging job - but challenging in a good way as it is helping my character to grow and me to get out of my own personal, safe, little bubble.  I've read so many new and amazing books, and requested to read and review so many more!!  I've begun a small Etsy business: Penmaiden's WordshoppeAnd I've made a great amount of progress on my WIP faerietale retelling, Noya.  

There is so much more I could share with you!  But alas, I must leave it at that.  

Here's to a new chapter, y'all!  And to a happy and Merry Christmas filled with the love and delight of family and friends.  May we be reminded of the true reason we celebrate: Christmas marks the first coming of our Lord & Saviour.  May we be ready for His second!

I don't know what the next week or two holds regarding my blogging schedule. . . But you aren't too surprised, right?? ;D  Haha.

So you don't see me here again soon, have a blessed and happy Christmas!!

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What has 2017 taught you this year?  Are you looking forward to 2018 and all it may entail?? Oh! and have you seen the list of upcoming movies???  I'm so ready for The Black Panther and The Infinity Wars!!  What about you?

Book Review | Death at Thorburn Hall

Death at Thorburn Hall
Drew Farthering Mystery #6
Julianna Deering

Bethany House Publishers | November 7th, 2017
Clean, Christian Fiction; Mysteries; Historical

Drew Farthering finds a new mystery on his hands when he arrives at Thorburn Hall in Scotland for the 1935 British Open. His host, Lord Rainsby, asks Drew to investigate a suspected embezzler--then dies in a suspicious accident the next day. However, the house is full of guests with potential motives. Can Drew discover the killer among them?

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
Yet another cozy mystery from Julianna Deering (DeAnna Julie Dodson)!  This lovely novel is the sixth in a series of stories featuring the amateur sleuth, Drew Farthering, and his merry band of friends.  Together, there's nothing their joint minds cannot detect.  If you haven't yet stumbled upon these delicious novels, find the first one here --> Rules of Murder. . .

Drew, his wife Madeline, his best friend Nick, and Nick's timid girlfriend Carrie, find much more than they bargained for at his distant cousin's estate of Thorburn Hall.  They were extended an invitation by the lord and lady of the house to see the 1935 British Open, a golf tournament.  But their vacation is soon interrupted by an unexpected death, and too many suspects, and far too many questions.

Drew is the kind of gentleman who is polite and easy to talk to.  He is extremely observant of events and circumstances pertaining to them, and has a discerning eye when it comes to a person's character.  This aids him in his detecting.  While he doesn't go looking for trouble, trouble always seems to find him.

Madeline is very supportive of her husband, Drew, and is a great encouragement to him.  I love their relationship!  It is sweet and loving, and they are open and honest with each other, even in times of high-stress.  Every couple has their trifles, but it was so nice to see how Drew and Madeline worked as a team, and how they each compliment the other.  (A beautiful example of a healthy marriage!)

A woman makes to attempt suicide, and Drew does everything in his power to stop her.

{Spiritual Content}
While faith is not so obvious as to be thrown in your face, it is quite evident in the actions of our main characters.  Drew and Madeline pray often, and witness to those around them, but not in a Bible-thumping, outrageous way.  They shine the Light by living in the Light.

Mention of characters attending church.  A couple characters send prayers to God for protection or in the midst of frustration or relief.  One character briefly witnesses to another on their hospital-bed, sharing their faith in a simply, honest way.

A man falls to his death riding horseback.  We "see" his body from where he landed and note that his neck is at a grotesque angle.  It was suspected as a tragic accident, but later it is learned that his saddle had been sabotaged.  Another man is poisoned.  Two men are shot in the chest (one lives).

A woman makes to throw herself from the rooftop in an act of suicide.  <-- [SPOILER: She had planned it so she would land on the balcony eight feet below and escape. . .]

(There is an entire subplot underlying this tale, but to explain would give it away.  You'll just have to read it!  It's early in history, but there is much talk and political debate regarding a certain Mr. Hitler and his doings in Berlin. . .)

{Lanuage; Alcohol & Drugs}
None.  Other than the narration stating that a character shouted "foul epithets" in their direction or some such description regarding language that was never spelled out.

Several characters smoke cigarettes all throughout the novel.  One in particular does so CONSTANTLY.  You later learn it's part of their personality and them giving in to unhealthy habits and stress.   A man is poisoned by a wine bottle.  Men share beers, cider, and information in a local pub. 

{Love-y Content}
Madeline and Drew are married, and they would love nothing more than to see Nick and Carrie the same.  Needless to say, they encourage them throughout.  Again, their own relationship is so very sweet and genuine--refreshing to read of in the world we live in now.  They embrace and kiss every now and then.  Nick and Carrie are often seen together, hugging or kissing the other's cheek.  

A woman is rather brazen and bold in her dating a much older gentleman--for show.  Another spoiled woman falls for a golf-caddy and they have brief trysts in the stable. . . regardless that her parents did not approve of the young man.  The scene is never described, we see only the result of it in tufts of hay on the woman's clothing and hair (mainly her back).  [Apologies, but it must be mentioned.  Just know there's never anything vulgar described.  We merely learn of the sin afterward, and are cautioned about such character.]

As usual, this was a great mystery with a twist.  I admit it doesn't take much for me to be fooled and never learn of the actual culprit until it's revealed in the end, but still, I was rather surprised although I should have realized sooner.  I love those kinds of stories! They keep you on your toes and make you want to read all the way to the end.

I've enjoyed every Farthering mystery I've read.  If you are looking for a good, clean novel to read on a snowy day, look no further.  :]

ages 16+

[I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.]

How I Survived NaNo as Just a Participant

December has arrived! And with its coming, my first ever NaNo has passed.  

I did not emerge a "winner," but you know what?  I'm alright with that.  :]  Really! I am.  Admittedly, I'm a little disappointed - sure.  But I am content that I actually WROTE nearly every day (19,657 words total - *COUGH*).  The word count truly doesn't matter.  It's your reaction to the result of your diligence and perseverance at the end of this fun 30-day challenge.  

There were many evenings where I found myself stressing out over the realization that I wasn't going to possibly be able to make it to 50k, no matter how much tireless effort I put into it.  But thanks to my dear husband and his encouraging and uplifting words, I pressed on, wrote on the days I could, and had fun.  What it all boils down to is this: your attitude when December 1st rolls around.  You can either be a complete and utter failure in whether you wrote 500 or 49,500 words, OR you can be a winner no matter your word count.  I speak to the those who gave their best but didn't make it to 50k, but I also speak to the winners who reached that goal and even went above and beyond:
Well done, each of you!!

Did you have fun?  Did you give your best to achieve the goal?  And if you did not make it to 50k, will you continue through this month of December in order to at least finish the first draft?

For me, I desire to finish the first draft of Noya by the end of December.  I find that it assists me greatly to have a deadline to go by - otherwise, I procrastinate horribly and nothing gets done.  Can anyone relate??  BUT my writing is not a top priority as this past month of November has taught me.  What with the completion of a church drama finishing up the first week of November, followed by a two-day catering gig, a trip to New England to share Thanksgiving with my hubby's family, and then caring for said hubby when he came down with a nasty head cold - Life tends to take top tier on my everyday list of to-dos.

Despite reality butting its uber-cumbersome head in my rather peaceful way, I'd like to share three things that helped me survive my first NaNo, even though I did not reach 50k, and what I've learned on this wild ride.

Ever heard of the Five Love Languages?  Well, one of mine is Words of Affirmation (Encouragement).  I don't know where I would be in life without my friends and family, who have encouraged me over the years and expressed their pride and love to me.  The same goes for my writing.  I could not write a single word, or progress any further in a story, without the encouragement I receive from my husband, family, and friends (bloggy friends included!).  I can literally say that's how I've survived this NaNo and not wilted into a soggy mess of tears with a cloud of failure hanging over me.  My husband, Evan, was so gracious to me during those thirty days, especially when he did not fully understand at first why I so wanted to do it.  Writing is a passion and something I truly love to do.  I don't know what lays in store for the future with Noya, but I do know it's not over yet!

Have you ever noticed just how much power words possess?  NaNo may have passed, but life goes on.  As you continue in your story, whether that's editing or completing your first draft, don't forget that encouragement goes a long way.  Are you one who has difficulty sharing your stories with others?  Maybe that's the little nudge you need to plow ahead.  Share! And welcome the feedback - good and critical.  That's what will grow you as a writer.  And what will add to your characters!

Encouragement is necessary in everything.

So. . . Unfortunately, I am one who procrastinates, however unwillingly. . .  This could be with ANYTHING - be it cleaning the shower, reading my Bible and devotions, or making the time to write every day.  I'm not saying that I intentionally procrastinated with NaNo this year, but there were several evenings where I collapsed into bed exhausted - void of strength in fingers and mind to type out enough words to add to my word count.  Other evenings, I would sit simply wondering where to begin next.  I know I wrote several chapters that I may never use in the final draft, but at least I wrote something, right?  "Never underestimate the power of piffle, my girl.  I expect even the strong-minded. . .shan't be able to resist it forever." (Drew Farthering, Death by the Book)

Diligence plays a huge part in the art of novel-ing.  Ask any author!  One must put in the effort and the TIME to see progress.  There may be times where you simply sit and think about the story for a good fifteen minutes before anything finds its way to the keyboard.  To say the least, that happened with me a couple different times.  But if I was patient and allowed my mind to find the will and creativity that lurks just beneath the surface (a writer's mind can be simultaneously awesome and scary), the words came!  I was very pleased on my wordiest day when I wrote a little over 3k on the long, sixteen-hour drive back home from New England.  (Normally, I tend to get a little carsick when writing or reading in an automobile. . . I know, it's a CURSE.  But for some reason, I dished out that many words on the ride and, needless to say, was exceptionally pleased.)  

"Failure is never final or fatal, as long as you fail forward."
- Robert Petterson -

Come November, I set my eyes on the distant, ultimate goal of 50k, but I decided early on (rather, before the challenge began on November 1st) to have a slight change in goal.  And that was to have FUN, no matter the outcome.  Ever since my senior year of high school, when my siblings and I took a writing class hosted by my now-mother-in-law (I do believe God has a sense of humor), I discovered a passion for writing.  I suppose I'd always had a desire to write stories, thanks to my own love for books, their authors, and inspiration to create my own worlds.  But it wasn't until that class that I actually learned how.   Don't get me wrong, I knew English grammar and spelling and all that it entails, but that class was an enlightening, eye-opening one for me.  And it was that same year that the idea for my official WIP, Safia, came to be.  {Thank you, Mama Char, for teaching my siblings and I!}  With all that said, I was determined to enjoy this NaNo, give my best, and see what would happen.  A writer's mentality is dreadfully important, y'all.  You have to know what you desire, see the ultimate goal, and PURSUE it.  I may not have done so 110%, but I did have fun, and am itching to finish my faerietale retelling.

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As mentioned above, I'm hoping to complete the first draft of Noya by the end of December.  If/when that happens, I want to make a point to take at least a month off before beginning the editing/re-reading process.  I believe it would give me the space and ability to come at it with fresh eyes and mind.

With that said, here's what I've learned since starting NaNo:
    • I've learned a great deal more of my characters and their personalities.  
    • I've dabbled with the unpredictable and it's blown the story into a whole new level. . . I mean, things I wouldn't even THINK of putting in a story of mine, I've kind of haphazardly thrown in. . .
    • I've learned in Fantasy, you can do ANYTHING. (Is the vague-ness killing you yet??)
    • I've learned to expound on the point of views of three different characters.
    • I've fallen in love with my Griffin, Baradil. *^ _ ^*
    • I've found the Beast is such a tragic, temperamental sort of character who (I hope) readers will love.
    • I've learned again and again that I still have SO MUCH to learn about this thing called writing.
    • But I've learned to enjoy the entire process.  And I'm not yet done!

If you've made it to the end, I salute you, O Ye Who Has Persevered!  Did you partake in the NaNo challenge this year?  Will you next year?  I hope to, but who knows what life has in store.  For now, I shall be content to write on my own and in my own time.  But what of you? What was the one thing you've learned this NaNo?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. . .

Happy week, y'all!  Talk soon.  :]