Unmasked Launch… And Giveaway!

Guys. It’s official. My book, Unmasked, has officially launched!

I mean, there’s not much else to say. I’m shocked that it actually happened. Excited that I’ll be able to hold the first book written by me in the whole wide world in my hands. Terrified that people will hate it and ground a year’s worth of hard work and good intentions into the dust. But I can’t go back, so I guess ya’ll will have to live with it…

But seriously, I’m so blessed that the Lord decided to carry this through. Seriously, this is all Him. I wouldn’t have made it this far if He hadn’t told me to keep going. So I guess this is His work, not mine. Too late to change the credits though…

To celebrate such a momentous day, I’m holding another giveaway! Me and the other Unmasked Anthology writers are giving away an E-book and the last of the preorder goodies (4 bookmarks, 2 pieces of original art, 1 exclusive poem, and 1 letter from the author). But this time, we’re adding 3 extra goodies! The winner of this giveaway will also receive 2 extra bookmarks exclusive to this giveaway and a mock cover by Natalie Johns of her short story in the collection.

The last winner of our giveaway was Acacia (Just so you know that we run giveaways where you actually win something) so if you want a chance to win this bundle, enter your preferred email below for it to be drawn. Best of luck to everyone who enters!

Fine Print: One winner will be chosen. Must be 18 years or have parental permission to enter. Open nationally. Giveaway ends on May 11th, 2021. All prizes except the 2 extra bookmarks will be digital to make it easy to convey the prizes to the winner.

Giveaway Entry: https://kingsumo.com/g/fa4ilq/unmasked-anthology-e-book-preorder-goodies-giveaway

Paperback: https://www.etsy.com/listing/972265890/unmasked-an-anthology-paperback-preorder?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1

E-Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZL77M46

Bi-Monthly Update ~ May 2021

Happy May (and spring!) to you all!

It’s been a while since my last update. How’ve ya’ll been? Enjoying the warmth? The birds? The flowers? I’ve practically moved outside I’m so happy for some delightful weather!

With the waning of winter and the birth of spring comes new things for me as well; New projects, new books, new friends, and new growth. One of those new things is… a new novel project! That’s right! I’ve started work on a new novel! Fittingly, it’s as gilded with flowers as the current season. I’m calling it The Language of Quiet Things. Here’s a blurb of the current concept:

    "Chamomile Edevane, an autistic girl with a passion for botany has been shut up in Victorian London for years, longing to be accepted, especially her mother who hides her from society’s prying eyes at the prompting of her Aunt Irene. Being too shy to stand up for herself, she prefers the steadiness of her rooftop greenhouse. When she finds an injured plant pixie named Protea among her lilies, Cham nurses her back to health and offers to help find the rest of Protea’s displaced species. 
    Together they sneak into the London underground of mythical animal smugglers for the endangered pixies. By helping them with her skills in botany and rebuilding them a home among her flowers, Chamomile finally feels useful. Maybe, to stand up for herself, she needed to learn to stand up for someone else first. 
    But her blunders into the world call unsavory characters that endanger all of them -- the crippled man who imported the pixies and Aunt Irene, who not only bought the pixies in the first place, but has been campaigning for Cham’s permanent institutionalization… and is finally ready to make good on her threat. Cham must decide if she’d rather stay someone her family wants her to be, or speak up... and be locked away from her flowers and friendships forever."

I’m really excited to write this. I’ve always wondered, “What would life have been like for someone like me in the past? In the Victorian Era? In revolutionary America? In the Middle Ages? What would have happened?” This book is a bit of me exploring that, along with a motley assortment of some of my other interests (History, magical creatures, & the language of flowers). This mini concept is only temporary. Plenty of things will change as the story itself matures. I’ve already gone ahead and added, tweaked, cut, and drastically changed some parts for the story’s sake. But still, I can’t wait for this to bloom… so to speak.

But I’ve got even more exciting things to talk about! What’s more exciting than a new book? Another new book!

You’ve heard me talking about the Unmasked Anthology before if you’ve read some of my other posts. Well, that book is coming out… TOMORROW! Can you believe it? If you can, then that makes one of us…

But that means there’s only one day left to preorder the book at a discount AND get preorder goodies! If your the least bit interested in reading this book or holding it in your hands, click one of the preorder links below. And of course, stay tuned for the big day tomorrow and the surprises it’ll hold!

Finally, I’ve got to address the elephant in the room. The art contest I mentioned in my last bi-monthly update. What happened?

Well… I submitted! I rounded up my entries a week before and sent them in early! I still don’t know when I’ll get notified. It could take weeks, over a month. I’m just not sure. To be honest, I don’t have huge hopes. But that’s okay. What matters is after several failed tries, I tried again. Twice in fact. Because I took another big step. I started an artist account on Instagram! Now you can find my art regularly at @olivialovesarts.

Who knows? Maybe success in my art isn’t about one big boom of excitement. Maybe it’s just a bunch of tiny scary movements, a slow unfurling, a blooming. Maybe someday it’ll be a beautiful flower. Either way, I’m taking it slow as I soak up the afternoon sun. See ya’ll tomorrow…

Ebook Preorder: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZL77M46 

Paperback Preorder: https://www.etsy.com/listing/972265890/unmasked-an-anthology-paperback-preorder?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1 

Preorder goodies email address: hannahgracethewriter@gmail.com 

Unmasked Anthology Author Q&A

Welcome to a special extra post!

Me and some of the other authors of our anthology, Unmasked, coming out on May 4th did a special Q&A. We took questions from friends & acquaintances alike (AKA the wonderful street team!) about the origin of the anthology, our stories, & much more! If you want to learn more, scroll & enjoy!

Why did you want to write Unmasked

I wanted to write Unmasked because I was sad about the state of the world around me during 2020. I wanted to change it, but I didn’t know how. Then God told me… WRITE ABOUT IT. So that’s just what I did. ~ Olivia G. Booms

I had actually written my short story for something else, but those plans had failed. I wanted to show there was hope through my writing, and I was wondering how I could do that if I couldn’t get my story to people. Then I saw the opportunity to join and I was nervous, but I wanted to join others in showing hope. ~ Lori Ann Nelson

Well, I wouldn’t say it was really my choice. (Not that I was forced XD.) When I heard about it from Olivia, I felt like I had to be a part of it, just a stir in my heart. A little nudge. My story blossomed from that nudge. ~ Hannah Grace

I’ve always wanted to touch people with my writing, to help them through the difficulties in their lives, and show the Lord’s hand in their lives. When the opportunity to submit to Unmasked, I saw it as a chance to do just that.  ~ Lydia Kendall

I saw the post about it and thought it looked like a fun opportunity! And the idea that some of my writing could actually be published was a crazy thing to think about. I can’t believe that some of my writing will be out in the real world for anyone to read! ~ Madeline Grace Fuehrer

What is the reason for titling your book Unmasked? 

I think it was born from wanting to “unmask” the truth that is so often covered up, especially with the chaos of the world today. But honestly, I don’t remember the exact origin. ~ Olivia G. Booms

How has writing Unmasked changed your perspective on our world today? 

It’s helped me see that there’s still some light, still some hope that can be shared and held in the dark of night. ~ Olivia G. Booms

It has helped me to see that even while storms rage, there is hope to spread to others. ~ Lori Ann Nelson 

I started writing some about this concept before I even knew about Unmasked, during quarantine. Writing about this, and bringing a biblical view into it, always helps me redirect my focus to what matters eternally. ~ Anna Grace

It has really helped me see the brokenness of our world, the hurting and hopelessness that so many people carry on their shoulders. I think it broadened my perspective, taking me away from the very narrow lens I had grown up with. Through seeing the brokenness and the hurting, it helped equipped me to bring hope and light into the world the way the world needs it, not just the way I thought it did. ~ Hannah Grace

It has helped me to see that though our lives are broken, shattered even, that the Lord will always be there to pick up the pieces and make something new. That through our brokenness and hurting, the Lord is always there, working behind the scenes to make something beautiful. ~ Lydia Kendall

I am not alone. Everyone is struggling. I’m not the only one. And I’m surrounded by people who care about and love me. And I’m protected by a great God, who has a good plan for me. ~ Madeline Grace Fuehrer

What inspired you to write what you wrote in Unmasked

What inspired me to write Together, my short story, was actually a natural disaster me and my family went through and the aftermath of its effects. Almost everything I described in that story had happened to me, or people I knew, from the unbearable heat, to hiding with the scared dog, to the dead bird, (Including Albert’s brother with the broken bone! That was me!). What stood out to me the most was how our church came together in only a couple days like a family to help others with or without being asked. They all had problems of their own but still helped everyone and loved everyone. It was amazing. It was exactly why I wrote it. ~ Olivia G. Booms

I was inspired to write Our Shattered Hearts based off of a friend I lost in my life. I remember how shattered I felt, how each cruel word spoken to me left a crack on my heart. But I also remember people telling me there was hope and that those who hurt others were often already hurt themselves. I wanted to show that not only can shattered hearts be put back together by God, but that He would turn them into a beautiful masterpiece. ~ Lori Ann Nelson 

My poetry actually started out as concepts I threw on paper one day while doing school in our family’s guest room/office.  I was so frustrated with the way things were at that point, in my life and in the world, but I remember God reminding me of Himself.  My concepts turned into prayers, and God kind of just used my pen to translate them into words. ~ Anna Grace

I don’t know. Honestly, I can’t say I was inspired by anything other than the Spirit of the Most High. I wrote my story in about an hour and a half. I didn’t really even think about the words, I just wrote, letting the Spirit move my fingers and my mind to write what He wanted me to write. ~ Hannah Grace

For the short story, I can’t quite remember; I think it was a feeling of loss, a pain that I wanted to write and see where it took me. For the poetry, it started out just me feeling inspired to praise God for the goodness in my life, to show others that they are beautiful, that God is good, and they can trust in him. I wanted to show the truths that You Are Beautiful and You Are Loved. ~ Lydia Kendall

When I heard about Unmasked, I was automatically inspired. I jotted down some poems quickly and was surprised to see they were actually worth something. After having them all critiqued, one of my poems, Longing, was accepted into the Anthology. I was thrilled. I wanted to show God’s love in the midst of the trials the world is facing right now, from the viewpoint of someone who felt like their voice meant nothing to anyone. I wanted to show people like you that God loves you and that you do matter to Him. ~Madeline Grace Fuehrer

Who were the readers you had in mind while writing Unmasked? 

The readers I had in mind were people who were feeling like me; lost, maybe scared, confused, and longing for light. Even though it was written by Christian authors, it’s not necessarily just for Christians. I hope that everyone can enjoy this and feel the hope and light we all wanted to convey. ~ Olivia G. Booms

The readers I had in mind were those who wondered if they would stay broken forever or if they were alone. I wanted people to know they aren’t forgotten or alone. I pray that all who read this see that there is hope for healing. ~ Lori Ann Nelson

I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling totally lost, confused, and broken, and when I had a written reminder of the Truth, I wanted to be able to share it with those who may need it. ~ Anna Grace

Ordinary people, because ordinary people are hurting, they’re broken. No one has a life entirely without pain or hardship. At least for myself, I wrote it for people, as broken and hurting as they are, to bring hope and light to them. ~ Hannah Grace

People who are hurting, doubting themselves, unable to see hope in this dark time. Whether they are any age, I hope that readers will be encouraged by the words within Unmasked ~Lydia Kendall

I wanted to speak to anyone who was suffering facing the trials life was throwing at them in this day and age. I wanted to show them that God’s power and love is greater than all of that. I wanted to tell them to cry out to Him in the midst of all these trials, because He cares about you, and He has a plan. ~Madeline Grace Fuehrer

There you go! The answers behind our Anthology! If you’re interested in checking out Unmasked, preorder it now on Etsy or Amazon to get a preorder discount and send your receipt to the email address below to get exclusive preorder goodies! 

Ebook Preorder: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZL77M46 

Paperback Preorder: https://www.etsy.com/listing/972265890/unmasked-an-anthology-paperback-preorder?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1 

Preorder goodies email address: hannahgracethewriter@gmail.com 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57637789 

Skyward Review

Skyward is a young adult sci-fi book by acclaimed author Brandon Sanderson. Starring Spensa, callsign “Spin”, a young smack-talking girl who longs to become a pilot like her father and fight the alien invasion that’s crawling closer and closer to their home. One problem. Her father was a coward. And as the daughter of the coward of the greatest battle in history, Spensa has zero chance of getting into the prestigious flight school. Will she ever be able to soar to the stars?

Why You Should Read

At first, I didn’t give this book much of a glance. The first time I read the blurb, Skyward seemed like any girl tale in a galaxy far far away. And honestly, I was right.

Skyward is very similar to other sci-fi or girl power tales, a chosen one fighting against the system stacked against her, but at the same time it’s still an engaging read. 

Perhaps this is because Spensa herself wasn’t the typical feminist strong girl. Sure, she has a lot of similar characteristics such as being a fast talker, headstrong, never taking backlash from anyone because that’s what a strong character does. But she also has moments of weakness and intimacy to balance out that toughness, such as affection for her friends, heart to heart talks, not being naturally gifted and far ahead of her class, admitting that she was afraid, and even failing like everyone else. I think those moments of weakness along with her strong personality make her a memorable character. After all, there are very few people who say they’ll stand on the pyres of their enemies and laugh as their children weep for their loss. 

The other characters also felt familiar yet unique. There is the tough mentor, the annoying classmate, the cute guy with blue anime hair, the rich girl, the best friend who goes along with everything, and so on. They almost all fell into clear stereotypes like I listed, but each has a fleshed out, colorful feel . They all become their own characters within the typical roles. This sort of surprised me, because I didn’t think one could still create characters that resonated when they fit so perfectly into clear roles. But after hours of non-stop reading, I had to agree that the author did something right when handling these characters, and that tropes and stereotypes are there for a reason. 

The plot is exceptionally good, aided by the fleshed out feel of the world around it that Spensa called home. Every scene was well done in detail and intrigue, especially when it came to flight description. 

And wow, was the worldbuilding incredible. No stereotypes here! The author pulls out all his tricks from his bag and throws them at you in every chapter. It’s neither overwhelming nor underwhelming; it’s just the right amount to immerse you in the story and not overwhelm you with the magnitude of the history and galaxy ahead of you.  

Finally, Sanderson made the main theme of the story clear. Defiance, cowardice, and how they both define you. Spensa’s society is built around the idea of standing against the odds, and not being a coward. The pilots defy the aliens that try to destroy their civilization daily and avoid giving into perceived cowardice. Spensa works to defy the air force all the while struggling with the fear that she too will be a coward. Even Spensa’s mother and grandmother show defiance by being the strongest women (in my opinion) in the book, quietly defying the society that shunned them with the simplest act of selling food from a push cart or telling Spensa long forgotten stories. This theme even digs into government oppression, identity, what’s crucial to survival, and other issues without going overboard. All in all, it wasn’t too much, but just enough to make you think about the balance between courage and fear, and how you let them define you and your actions. 

Content Warnings

There is some swearing (though most of the words are made up), disobedience/disrespect of authority figures (and the other way around), violence, gore, death, and tense moments. 

Is It Shelf Worthy?

Overall, Skyward proved me wrong as a well done young adult sci-fi novel. Spensa worked her way into my heart just as she worked her way toward her dream of flight, defying my expectations as she shot down aliens one by one in her own act of defiance against her father’s legacy. I for one can’t wait to grab my new copy of Skyward’s sequel Starsight and dig in for another memorable sci-fi adventure.

An Important Email… (Plus a Giveaway!)

Guys. This is huge.

The day before Unmasked anthology’s cover reveal (Which went well! Yay!) I received an important email from someone named Sara. It was about an email I’d sent her the day before.

What was the email about? I was submitting my first article to the Rebelution, a big teen website about rebelling against the low expectations set on young people today. And when I say first, I mean first. I’ve never submitted anything to anyone before. I didn’t expect much. 3-4 weeks of waiting and a kind “we’ll see what we can do.”

Imagine my surprise when less than 24 hours later, Sara responded. “I love it. We’ll publish it Monday, April 19th.”

I’m blown away.

You can see my article Disability Isn’t Glamorous – But It Still Glorifies God here on the Rebelution!

To celebrate, I’ve got even better news. I’m holding a giveaway! If you hop on over to my Instagram @olivialovesbooks you’ll see I’m giving away an E-ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of the Unmasked Anthology, along with a full pack of preorder goodies. Go check it out, and good luck entering!

Cover Reveal Day for Unmasked!

Say hello to my cover design for Unmasked! Ahh! Do you like it? I sure do! (Though, to be honest, the perfectionist in me is looking at all the things I could’ve done better…)

Unmasked Cover, illustrated by me.

But I haven’t really talked much about what Unmasked is. Well if you haven’t read my special announcement post, Unmasked is an anthology written by a group of YA Christian authors (Including me!) all about one central theme; Hope amidst a hopeless world. And isn’t that what we all need right now?

Here’s a blurb to get you guys interested!

As we see the world overcome with darkness and fear, it’s easy to lose sight of the light. We lose our hope, seeing, instead, only the fear. Written from the hardship of these times, 

Unmasked is a collection of poems and short stories meant to bring hope to a hopeless world. It was written for those lost, hurting, and searching, to bring them the light at the end of the tunnel.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? 

The types of work included in this anthology include original poetry about 2020, the changing seasons, and sacrifice, as well as short stories about forgiveness, picking up the broken pieces to make something beautiful, and even a contemporary short story about a natural disaster based on true events.

If your interested in ordering our little book, click one of the links below to pre-order the ebook or the paperback! And do it before May 4th to get a special preorder discount!

Of course, you can’t forget to grab the exclusive preorder goodies too, which include exclusive digital art, digital collectible bookmarks, unreleased poetry, and an exclusive letter from the authors. All you need to do is email your receipt to hannahgracethewriter@gmail.com and you’ll get those preorder goodies when the book is officially released! I may or may not have already ordered more than one copy for myself… and I hope you guys are as ecstatic as I am!

Ebook Preorder:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZL77M46 

Paperback Preorder: https://www.etsy.com/listing/972265890/unmasked-an-anthology-paperback-preorder?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1

(P.S. Stay tuned for future posts, and possibly some giveaways!)

78 Books for 2021

I just realized… this is a book blog. And here I never shared my must read book list for 2021! Ah, how could I be such a terrible blogger? Well, look no further! I’ve compiled my list of books I must read, hands down by December 31st of 2021. This year is a mix of classics and new releases, fantasy and nonfiction, short and long as this list itself. I wanted to have a diverse list of reads to broaden my own perception of literature as well as gain knowledge of past literature I didn’t have before. I’ve separated this list according to genre (Fiction or Nonfiction). Hopefully now I’ll have some people to hold me to this!

Fiction

  1. Narnia #1 (C. S. Lewis)
  2. Narnia #2 (C. S. Lewis)
  3. Narnia #3 (C. S. Lewis)
  4. Narnia #4 (C. S. Lewis)
  5. Narnia #5 (C. S. Lewis)
  6. Narnia #6 (C. S. Lewis)
  7. Narnia #7 (C. S. Lewis)
  8. Till We Have Faces (C. S. Lewis)
  9. Wingfeather Saga: the Warden & the Wolf King (Andrew Petersen)
  10. The Princess & the Curdie (George Macdonald)
  11. Phantastes (George Macdonald)
  12. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  13. The Catcher in the Rye (J. R. Salinger)
  14. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  15. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner #1 (Phillip K. Dick)
  16. Challenger Deep (Neal Shusterman)
  17. The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux)
  18. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  19. Skyward #1 (Brandon Sanderson)
  20. Dune #1 (Brian Hubert)
  21. Eragon (Christopher Paolini)
  22. The Beast Warrior (Nahoko Uehashi)
  23. Fawkes (Nadine Brandes)
  24. Romanov (Nadine Brandes)
  25. Shadowscale (Rachel Hartman)
  26. Tess of the Road (Rachel Hartman)
  27. Keeper of the Lost Cities #1 (Shanon Messenger)
  28. Pearl of Merylida (Kara Swanson)
  29. Shadow (Kara Swanson)
  30. Wildwood (Colin Meloy)
  31. Here in the Real World (Sara Pennypacker)
  32. The One & Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate)
  33. Endling: The Only/Endling #3 (Katherine Applegate)
  34. The Thing About Jellyfish (Ali Benjamin)
  35. The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
  36. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)
  37. Heart of a Samurai (Margi Preus)
  38. The Divided Earth/The Nameless City #3 (Faith Erin Hicks)

Nonfiction

  1. How to Read a Book (Mortimer J. Adler)
  2. Prayer (Tim Keller)
  3. None Like Him (Jen Wilkin)
  4. Get Out of Your Head (Jennie Allen)
  5. Redeeming How We Talk (Ken Wymsma)
  6. The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
  7. Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis)
  8. The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis)
  9. The Weight of Glory (C. S. Lewis)
  10. God in the Dock (C. S. Lewis)
  11. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (C. S. Lewis)
  12. The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis)
  13. Letters (C. S. Lewis)
  14. The Unseen Realm (Dr. Michael S. Heiser)
  15. Joni: the Unforgettable Story (Joni Eareckson Tada)
  16. A Chance to Die: The Life & Legacy of Amy Carmichael (Elizabeth Elliot)
  17. Suffer Strong (Katherine & Jay Wolf)
  18. Educated (Tara Westover)
  19. On Writing (Stephen King)
  20. Of Other Worlds (C. S. Lewis)
  21. The Art of Writing & the Gifts of Writers (C. S. Lewis)
  22. Find Your Artistic Voice (Lisa Congdon)
  23. The 5000 Year Leap (Collected Authors)
  24. Common Sense (Thomas Paine)
  25. The Federalist Papers (Collected Authors)
  26.  The Anti Federalist Papers (Collected Authors)
  27. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Articles of Confederation (Collected Authors)
  28. Lincoln: Selected Works & Writings (Abraham Lincoln)
  29. Writings (Alexander Hamilton)
  30. Writings (Benjamin Franklin)
  31. Writings (George Washington)
  32. Writings (Thomas Jefferson)
  33. How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
  34. The Art of War (Sun Tzu)
  35. Diplomacy (Henry Kissinger)
  36. The Autistic Brain (Temple Grandin)
  37. I Am Strong: The Life & Journey of an Autistic Pastor (Lamar Hardwick)
  38. The Millionaire Next Door (Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko)
  39. Put More Cash in Your Pocket (Loral Langemeier)
  40. The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson)

So, there you have it! What do you think? Are there any books you’d add to this list?

A Special Announcement…

Something exciting is happening soon. Can you guess?

.

.

.

I’m releasing my first book! -insert girly squealing-

Okay, not really all mine. Me and a collection of other young upstart authors are officially releasing an anthology titled Unmasked in May 4th of this year.

What is an anthology, you ask? Quite simple! An anthology is just a collection of writings between two ends of a cover. It can be by just one author or a menagerie of different authors banding together to write about a common subject. It can be short stories, novels, poetry, even comics! So there’s your fact of the day.

So, what is ours about? Unmasked’s purpose is to bring hope to a hopeless world, especially after the life changing events of 2020, for those lost, hurting, and searching, to show them some of Jesus’s light at the end of the tunnel.

I had the privilege of not only writing a poem and a short story, but designing the cover! -squeals again-

The cover reveal will take place on April 15th. If any of you want to help with that by joining the official Unmasked street team, click here for the sign up form! Not only will you be able to see the cover art before it’s released, but you’ll be signing up to take part in some fun and prizes!

I hope ya’ll enjoyed this special announcement! Make sure to stay tuned for a cover reveal post, preorder link, and other amazing and spectacular surprises!

Bi-Monthly Update ~ March 2021

Welcome to Spring everyone (And another life update too)!

Well, not officially. But it feels like spring is here! I can’t tell you how amazing it is cracking my window open to see the snow melt and the grass reappear. Especially since I’ve almost gone through my stash of tea. Now that would’ve been a disaster. 

With the theme of forgotten winters and new growth, I’ve got a few good announcements for ya’ll. 

To shovel the ‘snow’ out of the way, I have an announcement about one of my writing projects. I’ve made the decision to discontinue the Elemental Prince. After almost two years, hundreds of thousands of words, and massive amounts of tea and stress, this was a difficult decision to make. How have I come to this? 

I’ve noticed over the years the growth of the little writing seed the Lord planted long ago. Watching it’s progress, I’ve necessarily had to go through tough periods, persevere through droughts, and ‘shed’ some dead leaves and shoots along the way to keep growing. The Elemental Prince, I’ve realized, though wonderful in it’s time at teaching me some wonderful things, I’ve noticed as I grew that parts have begun to shrivel with flaws, such as plot, characters, and worldbuilding.

These faults eventually became so apparent that something became clear to me; I’d outgrown the story. I’d grown so much in my writing ability that I couldn’t continue to grow in depleted soil where I’d already squeezed out all of my ability to learn. So, necessary to my writing journey, I’ve had to lay Landin and the rest of the characters aside. Maybe someday, after some ravenous editing, I can bring this back, but I think more likely there will be a piece of this story in all my others. As my first ever draft, I will treasure it (And probably laugh at my incompetent skill) for years to come.

On a more positive spring-y note, something exciting is coming around the bend. I’ve signed up for an art competition! But, wait, there’s more. I haven’t signed up for just one. I’ve got two coming up in the next two months!! 

The contests themselves are about as different as they can get (One large scale with maybe thousands and thousands of people, the other only a few hundred). Still, both make me incredibly nervous. In the past, I’ve entered numerous competitions in the artistic realm of all shapes and sizes… and failed every single one. Yes, you got it.

Every. 

Single. 

One. 

So, yes, I am nervous, just a tad bit. I’d rather not have my hopes and dreams crushed by the heel of superior art. Who would? But if you don’t try, you’ll never come close to anything except defeat. So, I’m jumping in with a bundle of prayer, fear, and paint markers. Hopefully it goes better than last time…

Let’s just say, I’m glad there’s no harm in trying. 

That being said, because of this I will not be posting this month, just so I can concentrate on these two commitments and give them my all. Who knows? Maybe ya’ll get to see some work when I’m done (That is if I’m not too embarrassed to show it). For now though, I hope ya’ll will get to enjoy God’s gift of some warm spring weather (Or the gift of your friends and family all bundled up by the fireside if it’s still chilly).

Ask Me No Questions Review

Ask Me No Questions is a Young Adult novel by Marina Budhos, following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Nadira, the heroine of the story, has her life suddenly upended by the toppling of the twin towers. Her family lives in fear because of their long expired visa passes. Now, they must flee America for their own safety. Except, they don’t get away fast enough. Now, Nadira’s father has been taken in by the government, and for the safety of the rest of her family, she must go back to her normal life… without saying a word about what happened. 

The premise of this story is good. While it seemed an interesting read from the blurb, I, unfortunately, don’t believe it surmounted the pillar the author had set herself up for when writing this novel.

Why This Book Fell Short

I wasn’t really drawn in by Nadira. She seemed like a really nice girl, shy but friendly, yet there wasn’t much characterization to her besides her love of food (Which I second wholeheartedly, french fries forever!). Her sister, on the other hand, was only memorable because of her reaction to their father’s imprisonment. And all the side characters, well, they appeared the same way, only notable for a singular aspect. It wasn’t that they were bad. They just weren’t particularly well rounded characters in any way. 

I also expected more description of Muslim life, as Nadira’s family is Muslim, but very little is given, besides there being a traditional uncle and his rebellious daughter always at odds (Actually, that sounds like a normal thing). And while I am not Muslim, I was hoping for just a little more detail to learn a bit of what life is like for Nadira and her family.

To me, the plot was predictable. I could tell from the first few chapters what would take place. Now, let me be clear, it’s not bad to take a guess at the ending and get it right. Plenty of stories, including the Lord of the Rings, have endings you can take a guess at and get right. The part about it that still draws a reader in is the desire to know what happens in between the beginning and the end. The middle should be  packed with such drama and risk, that you just have to keep reading to find out what happens between the two ends of the cover. I’ve guessed at an ending to a book or movie, gotten it right, and still enjoyed myself (And felt a little smug too cause I felt like a smarty pants). With this book, however, the ending was predictable, and the middle felt more like a weird side trail/distraction from the main plot, not an accompaniment that meshed perfectly into the rest of the novel.

The only part I felt was well done was Nadira’s feelings and description of life as an immigrant. The author does an excellent job weaving the title of the book, Ask Me No Questions, into the narrative. She creates a sort of tension lived within the pages by all who bear the title of “no questions asked.” Unfortunately, while the author succeeded here in weaving a message into the narrative, I don’t think it was enough to carry the story, especially with the fall of both the plot and characters.

Content Warnings

It should be noted that there aren’t as many content warnings for this that I can recall like a lot of YA contemporaries. There is some adultery (Why, I still have yet to see the answer to), swearing, mistreatment towards Nadira and her family, a recount of September 11th, teasing about the main character’s eating habits, fighting between family members, and rioting/mention of rioting/violence. 

Is It Shelf Worthy?

I would say no. This could’ve been a good novel for the children of immigrants, but to me it fell too short in the plot, and characters to be of much worth.

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