Monday, April 17, 2017

Dual Character Inquisition Tag - Larke and Marigold



Hello, my lovelies! I hope you all had a blessed Easter yesterday!


Today I’m doing something fun. About 34543998 years ago (or a few months, but who’s counting?) I was tagged by Kate @ Story and Dark Chocolate for the Dual Character Inquisition Tag. Then, just recently, Tracey @ Adventure Awaits also tagged me for it. I’m sure all of you are aware that I’m the worst about never getting around to tags (which is odd, because I love tags! I am a paradox, guys), but this one I just had to do. Because, hello? IT’S ABOUT CHARACTERS. And you all know fictional characters is my favorite subject on this planet or any other.


The gist of this tag is that you choose two of your own characters and answer the questions about them, include a picture of them, and pass the tag on to 3 more bloggers. Simple, right? Buuuut, me being me, I can’t help but shake it up a bit.


Instead of me answering the questions about my characters, I’m going to let them do it. Annnd of course I couldn’t choose two cordial characters to toss together. Oh no. That’d be boring.


For the tag I’m thrusting together Larke and Marigold from Burning Thorns. For those who don’t know, Marigold is Rose’s (my main female character) sister and, erm, “brat” is probably the best word to describe her. Then Larke is…how does one explain Larke? He’s a mischievous fae who causes all sorts of trouble for the other characters (andmayormaynotbemyfavorite). Watching loud and fiery Marigold and cocky, impish Larke interact was probably my favorite bits to write in Burning Thorns.


But enough babbling from me. It’s time for you to meet them for yourselves!



Who inspired this character?

Me: Okay, actually, I’m gonna answer this questions myself before I hand things over to them.


My characters are very rarely inspired by anyone specific. I don’t think I’ve ever just “planned” a character. They just…are. They pretty much always pop in my head fully formed. With Marigold, I knew I needed a couple of older sisters for Rose (since this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling), and Marigold, the sulky middle sister, just happened.


With Larke, when I was about to expand the novella of Burning Thorns into a novel, I knew I wanted to add a character. About 2.5 seconds after this thought, Larke was there waving at me with that cocky sideways smile of his. And he hasn’t left me alone since…


OKAY. Now they’re going to answer the questions.

 

What is your weapon of choice?

Marigold: I—


Larke: Marigold uses her tongue. She can talk people to an early grave.


Marigold: Hey! You interrupted me!


Larke: It’s the only way to get a word in. Oh, but wait, I forgot, she’s also fond of smacking certain people with her parasol. *rubs shoulder, grimacing* There was also that one time she threw perfectly good fruit at me. Really, it’s dangerous to have any inanimate objects in her reach.


Marigold: I wish I had a big heavy stick in my reach right now and a bullseye on your forehead.


Larke: See? She’s a monster.


Marigold: Well, what about you? You’re the one that steals peoples' memories and curiosity and who knows what else with your— *waves a hand in the air* shadowy abilities.


Larke: *smiles*

 

Have you ever been physically violent with someone else? What instigated it?

Larke: Aha, look at that, I’ve already answered this question. Parasols, fruit. And she hit me with a cushion once. Let’s also not forget the time she right-out slapped me.


Marigold: You deserved far worse than that! And you all want to know what instigated it? Larke! Him just breathing instigates violence.


Larke: *clutches chest* See? I told you all. Her tongue is her weapon. She got me right to the core.


Marigold: Oh, stop being dramatic. How many times have you been physically violent, hm?


Larke: I’m perfectly well-mannered, thank you.


Marigold: You? *bursts into laughter*


Larke: What?


Marigold: *keeps laughing*


Larke: Seriously. Tell me once you witnessed me be physically violent?


Marigold: *laughter stops abruptly* Well…I…


Larke: Mh-hm. See?


Marigold: Well, that’s probably because you use much worse methods to harm people!


Larke: *opens mouth* *closes it again*


Marigold: He’s the absolute worst, people.


Larke: *mutters something about tongues being weapons*

 

Are you more of a rule-follower or a rebel?

Marigold: Hahaha! Larke as a rule-follower? That’s hilarious!


Larke: *merely shrugs* Rules are meant to be broken, that’s the only use for them. Besides, you’re not exactly Miss Rule-follower yourself.


Marigold: I do too follow the rules! I’m a lady.


Larke: *this time he bursts into laughter*


Marigold: It’s true! Ugh, you’re obnoxious.

 

What kind of child were you? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Larke: Oh, oh! Let me guess this one for you. You were the perfectly quiet, out of the way, contented child, yes?


Marigold: *face turns red* And I bet you weren’t devious or rotten or rude or naughty.


Larke: I imagine you never once had a big mouth.


Marigold: And you minded your parents every single day.


Larke: I’m just positive you never had a tantrum every single time someone told you no. If you’ve ever been told no.


Marigold: Your nickname was probably Angel Child.


Larke: People most likely feared you were mute you were so quiet.


Marigold: Other children’s parents envied your parents for having such a perfect little boy.


Larke: *grins* Wow. We know each other so well.


Marigold: *bites lips, eyes twinkling, as if stifling a smile*

 

Where would you go to relax and think?

Marigold: My favorite place is our gardens. It’s quiet and smells nice and makes me think of Mother…


Larke: Mmm. I have lots of places in the Forest to retreat to. But I’m not going to publicly announce my favorite little haunts. But relaxing and thinking isn’t something I do often. I’d much rather be out doing things.


Marigold: *snorts* Thinking is definitely not something you do often.


Larke: ….
I guess I set myself up for that one.


Marigold: *smirks*

 

Do you have a temper?

Larke: Do I even need to say it for her?


Marigold: Hush!


Larke: Nope. I don’t. While I, for one, have a very mellow temper. *casts her a smug smile* You can never get to me, dear.


Marigold: Ugh!

 

Would you be more likely to face your fears or run from them?

Larke & Marigold: *shares an uncomfortable glance*


Larke: *clears throat* Let’s give an alternate option: Make your fears disappear completely so you never have to face them.


Marigold: *mutters under her breath* Coward.


Larke: Oh? So sulking in your room every time something bad happens is the answer?


Marigold: Can we just go to the next question, please?

 

When you are upset, do you turn to other people or isolate yourself?

Marigold: I use to go to Mother but… Well, I suppose I’d rather just be by myself.


Larke: Oh dear. The world is about to freeze over or something dramatic because, for once, we actually agree. Why would I ever put my trust in someone else when I have myself? I know of no one better to rely on.


Marigold: I can think of a few million people better.

 

Say 3 things about where you live (as broad or specific as you like).

Marigold: Well, first things first, I live in Mendar, which is the capitol city of the kingdom of Cantrelle where—


Larke:
Shadows alive, don’t give Marigold permission to be as broad and specific as she likes! We’ll be here ‘til the end of time!


Marigold: Will you stop interrupting me!


Larke: I told you, it’s the only way to get a word in. And I’m trying to save these poor people from hearing endless facts about your boring human kingdom.


Marigold: I like my kingdom! But fine, if you’re going to be that way, then you tell three facts about my home, because I have a few things to say about yours.


Larke: What’s there to say? There are humans, not nearly enough trees, and too many buildings that are square and entirely uninteresting.


Marigold: Well, his home is in the Forest which is always dark, full of hideous creatures and things trying to kill you for absolutely no reason, and has too many trees that move which is far too unnatural and creepy. Then there’s that awful river constantly trying to drown anyone that gets near it. And the shadows move. Not to mention it’s way too cold—


Larke: I think we’re getting way past three things.


Marigold: Like you would even know. You’re the worst at counting.


Larke: Hey, it’s not my fault numbers are slithery little things.


Marigold: You’re slithery.


Larke: Excuse me?


Marigold: You’re slithery, like a snake. Devious and cunning and awful.


Larke: You think I’m cunning? I’m flattered.


Marigold: Ugh!


~ ~ ~


Ooookay! I think I should stop it there or they’ll be at it all day.


Well…it could have gone worse? At least they didn’t try to murder one another, that’s a plus!


SO. Passing this thing on to 3 other bloggers!


TAGGING


Skye @ Ink Castles | Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings | Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen | + absolutely ANYONE ELSE who wants to do it because this tag is way too much fun!



Here are the original questions for your convenience:


-Who inspired this character?
-What is their weapon of choice?
-Have they ever been physically violent with someone else? What instigated it?
-Are they more of a rule-follower or a rebel?
-What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
-Where would they go to relax and think?
-Do they have a temper?

-Would they be more likely to face their fears or run from them?

-When they are upset, do they turn to other people or isolate themselves?

-Say 3 things about where your character lives (as broad or specific as you like).

 

Whew! We survived this without too much violence (one can never tell with these two). Soooo…what did you think of Larke and Marigold? They’re um…yeah.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Beauty and the Beast Means to Me


 

DISCLAIMER:
I’m just going to start out and say this post has nothing to do with the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie. So if you’re groaning thinking, “Another post about that movie?” No fear! This is about the ORIGINAL FAIRYTALE. I’ve actually been meaning to write this post for, honestly, a couple of years now. And I thought since Beauty and the Beast is on everyone’s mind, this would be a great time to finally get around to it. Secondly, I want to make it clear that this is an OPINION post, not a FACTS post. As in, this will be about my personal opinions on the original B&B fairytale, not in any way straight up facts about it. So do feel free to disagree!


Alrighty, now that that’s out of the way, onward to the actual post!


As I think all of you know at this point, I’m currently (or supposed to be) going through my second round of edits on my Beauty and the Beast retelling, Burning Thorns, in hopes to pursue publishing with it. Because of that, I thought it might be good to explain why I’m putting my heart and soul into a Beauty and the Beast story.


Long story short: It’s hands down my favorite fairytale. “But WHY?” you may be asking. OR some of you may be saying, “Why not? It’s a good story!”


The magical thing about fairytales is that they can be interpreted in dozens of different ways, and mean a hundred different things to each of us. And I love that! These short stories pretty much always have a life lesson (or 20) woven into them. Albert Einstein himself was a great advocate for fairytales and had this to say about them:


If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.”


Sure, they’re often weird and dark and creepy, but isn’t life weird and often dark as well? Fairytales (and fiction in general) help us press through the darkness and find the “happily ever afters”. They teach us how to deal with the crazy, hard things that happen in our life, and learn good vs. evil. As G.K. Chesterson said:


Fairytales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”


We have so many “dragons” in our lives—those hardships and darkness that seem undefeatable. But fairytales teach us we can defeat the darkness and spread the light.


And what is the greatest source of light? LOVE. Because love is the key to all the good in the world. As I said in this post about love, it is the very thing that put Jesus on the Cross and paved the way to His waiting, open arms. Love is everything.


Which brings us back to Beauty and the Beast.



Many, many people see Beauty and the Beast as a story that merely glorifies Stockholm syndrome (which is what they call it when a hostage grows feelings toward their captor) and claims it’s okay to marry an animal (which, obviously, is anything but okay).


Now, again I’ll say, fairytales can be interpreted in so many ways, which is one of the reasons I love them so much. So if you think these things about B&B and  don’t like it because of that, THAT’S OKAY. Like I said in the disclaimer, this post is about my personal feelings toward Beauty and the Beast. And, obviously, we can’t all feel the exact same way about every story in the world. And why would we want to? That’d be boring! I love it when people interpret stories differently. It makes the story fascinating and deep, which is GOOD. That’s how we want stories to be. But because a lot of people feel this way about Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to explain how *I* feel about it since I am hoping to try to have my own B&B retelling published one day.


So let’s look at the Stockholm syndrome and animal-Beast problems.


Firstly, Stockholm syndrome. In the tale, the Beast actually does let Beauty go. And it is when she is free, that she realizes she loves him. Besides, it was always, always her choice if to marry him or not. And, on that subject, she was never forced into anything, never manipulated into loving him. She fell in love with the Beast because he was actually a total sweetie. Maybe he had his grumpy moments, but who wouldn’t when they’re cursed into being a hideous beast forever and isolated because of it, hmm? The Beast’s natural personality was actually virtuous and sweet tempered, which Beauty quickly realizes. He gave Beauty all the comforts in the world, and when she told him she desperately missed her father, he let her leave, knowing very well that she may not come back. Stockholm syndrome, I think, often arises as a form of survival. Hostages form a bond with their captors to avoid further harm. But in Beauty and the Beast, Beauty learns, within her first days of being in the Beast’s castle, that the Beast is by no means going to harm her. She realizes she need not fear him. She simply falls in love with him because he is kind. I don’t think it was ever the original author’s intention to pen a tale on Stockholm syndrome.



As far as the Beast being an animal, I personally believe that’s more how the person pictures him. Disney’s version of the Beast has actually bothered me for years. His appearance is far too animalistic for my comfort. (Though the original Disney animated movie is one of my favorites, but still.) Let’s not forget, the Disney version is a retelling itself. It drives me batty when people base fairytales off Disney’s movies of them. Disney’s versions are retellings just as much as any other. In fact, their movies pretty much never, in any form or fashion, resemble the original fairytales. (But that’s a rant for a whole ‘nother time.) The Beast we see in the movie is simply Disney’s own interpretation. And yes, there are a lot of illustrations picturing him as animal-like. But that doesn’t mean he has to be. The story never actually gives us details on his appearance besides calling him a “beast” and “monster”. But that can be interpreted into a million different ways. Now, some much more knowledgeable than me history buff may come in and comment that the original tale very much meant the Beast as having an animal appearance (and if that’s the case, do tell! I love learning the origin of fairytales), but I will say that the Beast is, in fact, human by the end, and was always originally a human. He was just cursed. So no, I don’t think this story is in any way claiming that it’s okay to marry animals. Still, I don’t like the versions that make him out to look animalistic, which is why in Burning Thorns my Beast is still very much human, just with deformities.


But now that I’ve told you my opinions on what I think Beauty and the Beast IS NOT, the question is: What do I think Beauty and the Beast IS? And why did I wrote a retelling in the first place?


A lot of you already know Burning Thorns originally came about as a novella for Rooglewood Press's fairytale contest, and then I later decided to expand my novella into a full length novel. BUT, truth be told, I’ve been meaning to write a Beauty and the Beast retelling for, oh, probably over half my life. No joke. I adore retellings, and it’s my favorite fairytale, so it was inevitable I’d write one eventually. The contest was merely the shove for me to finally do it. And as I wrote a rendition of my favorite fairytale, I grew to love it even more.


Because, to me, Beauty and the Beast isn’t some weird story about Stockholm syndrome. For me, Beauty and the Beast is a powerful redemption story. I see it as an allegory about Jesus and us. We are all “ugly” beings, beasts in our own right, before Jesus’s redemption. No matter our unloveableness, He loves us anyway, and when we accept Him, He takes away our beastliness and makes us beautiful.


In the original fairytale, the Beast becomes the beautiful form he was always meant to be when Beauty gives him her love. BUT, Beauty does not, nor ever, love him for his appearance. She loved him before he turned back into a handsome prince.



As I said earlier, fairytales can have so many meanings. Beauty and the Beast both teaches me the beautiful love our Savior has for us, and that beauty is in the heart, not appearances.


It’s a beautiful story and, unlike many, many fairytales, actually not super dark and creepy. For me, personally, it’s simply a tale about the most powerful, important, magnificent thing in the world: Love.


So yes, I love Beauty and the Beast and have loved being able to create my own version of it. Burning Thorns is about love and sacrifice and redemption and forgiveness. Because, even though it’s vastly different from the original fairytale, it still has the core themes that the simple little tale of Beauty and the Beast has taught me.


I’ll leave with you another quote by G.K. Chesterton (bless him). His single sentence encompasses everything I’m trying to say about Beauty and the Beast and are my exact feelings toward it:


There is the great lesson of Beauty and the Beast, that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.”


Whew! I know that was long and opinionated. But I’ll say this one more time: This is my opinion. Some of you may know all about Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (the author of the original novel) or Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (the one who condensed the novel into the short, children’s story we know now) and what their original intentions for the story were. (And why they have the longest names on the planet.) But, again, this is just what the story means to me, and what I have taken away from it.


If you haven’t ever read the original Beauty and the Beast story, or are just in the mood for it, you can read it HERE. I highly recommend it. It only takes about five minutes and, well, it’s my favorite fairytale. Obviously I recommend it. *grins*


~ ~ ~


Okay, guys, it is finally your turn! I am hushing now and handing over the mic…er, the comment section, to YOU. What are YOUR thoughts on Beauty and the Beast? (If you have opposite thoughts from mine, don’t hesitate to share!) What do you think of fairytales in general? Which one, if any, is your favorite??? I NEED TO KNOW. Let us discuss!

Monday, April 3, 2017

{Book Review} The Assassin’s Daughter by Jameson C. Smith


For most of her life, Katira has trained to take on the role of assassin. While it’s far from the life she would have chosen, the law known as the Inheritance Proclamation dictates that she must follow in her father’s profession. At seventeen, she’ll be expected to use her training on a real assignment any day.

When new information about an old fugitive brings questions about Kat’s past to light, she must make a choice: Prove her loyalties to the Tederan Order and their laws, or become a fugitive to search after answers she may never find.


Amazon | Kindle | CreateSpace | iTunes | Kobo | GoodReads | Author's Blog


______________________


Assassins. Sweet characters. Strife between lands. What more could you want?


I’ve been following Jameson’s blog for years. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know this sweet, talented girl. So when she announced she was publishing her novel…MUCH SQUEEING. MUCH FLAILING.



THE RUNDOWN


The Assassin’s Daughter is the first book in the Inheritance Proclamation series, set in a medieval-esque fantasy setting. The novel goes back and forth between Katira’s POV and her best friend, Ed, with a couple of other points-of-view thrown in occasionally. But the core focus is our girl Kat.


We start out in an academy where they train kids/teens to be professional assassins. Because, dude, math and history are too mainstream, let’s teach the kids to be MURDERERS. Sound plan. *nods*


Well, our sweet Kat doesn’t actually want to be a trained killer and be paid to murder people for the rest of her life. CRAZY, I KNOW. Unfortunately, due to a law known as the Inheritance Proclamation that claims children have to follow the profession of their parents, she’s got no choice. Because, ya know, her FATHER was an assassin. #DaddyProbs


When Kat is assigned her first official mission, it strikes a bit too close to home, and she has to decide if to defy the higher ups (which is a big no-no) or do the unthinkable.


CHARACTERS


The characters were hands down my favorite things in this novel. The relationships made the story.


Katira: (Or Kat, as she is mostly called.) I superbly appreciated Kat! At first, when I discovered Kat was one of the top rated in the academy, being super skilled with archery and sneaking and all that fun stuff, I feared a stereotypical “strong female character” which these days is pretty much synonymous for “emotionless, selfish, reckless female”. I am so sick of that kind of female protagonist! (But that’s a topic for another day.) Well, Kat wasn’t that way at all. *cheers and applauds* Kat has EMOTIONS. She’s not afraid to cry and love and be afraid. She doesn’t want to be an assassin because KILLING IS WRONG, KIDS. She doesn’t want to be in the academy because she can’t see her mother and baby sister anymore. She doesn’t have the, “I can do anything and don’t need help and am way too tough to cry,” attitude we see so often in female protagonists these days. But she wasn’t the weak and whiny character that happens a lot, too. Again, she’s one of the top rated in the academy. She can handle herself if she needs to. But, deep down, she was soft and sweet and, yes, made mistakes, but she cared about people. She was just a genuinely nice girl thrust into a world she didn’t want to be a part of. To me, she was a breath of fresh air in today’s view of “strong female characters”.


Edellion a.k.a Ed: In an academy where it’s frowned upon to have friendships because they can be a “weakness”, Kat and Ed go against the tide and form a team. Ed is Kat’s rock, and with good reason. He’s strong and protective and caring and makes witty jokes at any given opportunity. And he respects her, which was my favorite part about their friendship. When he knows she has a secret, he doesn’t push her to tell him, but lets her reveal things in her own time. When she’s going through a hard time or just needs a shoulder to cry on, he’s there. He never tells her to tough it out, he simply lets her be her and is always sympathetic. And that respects goes both ways. I think that’s another thing we just don’t see much anymore in YA novels. Aside from their relationship, Ed himself is just a precious human being. He can have a temper, and may rush into things a little too quickly, but he always tries to do what’s right, and that’s what matters.


Bayor: Kat and Ed’s mentor was a lovely addition to the story. He had that classic comfortable mentor personality that every fantasy story needs. He’s a little quiet and rough around the edges, but still makes jokes with Kat and Ed, and tends to care more about them than the law. His character was complex as well. You know he holds secrets, but never can figure out why he does the things he does. I desperately want to know more about this guy! I keep having to remind myself this is only the first book of a series. I’m sure answers will come. But but but I WANTS TO KNOW MORE.


There were a few others that played key roles in the story, but that may be getting into spoilery territory. So I’ll just say, all the characters were deep and complex and human. The relationships between each of them had such depth as well.


I JUST REALLY LOVED THESE BABIES.



I felt like the plot started out a smidge on the slow side, but it did pick up. Overall though, the plot was pretty simplistic. Nothing mind-blowing. BUT. I felt like the real focus of the plot wasn’t on the action, but on Kat’s inner turmoil. On her struggle to break away from a life she doesn’t want and find answers about her past.


With that said, there were still plenty of fun happenings. I was super intrigued by an assassins academy. And later on we get tangled into some strife between the different territories of the world.



I think my biggest complaint was the vagueness of how the government and things worked. The main point of the story is that Kat is forced into this assassins academy, and how the government is trying to take over everything. But…I was super confused how the government type stuff worked and how the academy functioned. There was also a ton of stuff about Kat’s past that never got explained at all. Every time it looked like we were about to get answers, the scene cut off or the characters were interrupted or something. I would have liked a whole lot more explanations and descriptions of things.


But, again, this is the first book of a series, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. It was a good setup to a much bigger story ahead—a great introduction to the characters, leaving me aching for more time spent with them and desperate for more answers. As any first book should be!

 

Content Cautions


Really…nothing! There were definitely some deaths, but they were never described in great, gory detail. There was also not a stitch of language and basically no romance (…yet *cough, cough, cough*). It was a refreshingly clean read!

 

Conclusion


If you enjoy standard, medieval fantasy with good, down-to-earth characters this is the one for you! The world and plot were pretty straightforward and simplistic, but that just made for a quick, comfortable, clean read.


I cannot wait for book 2!



What think ye, O Readers? Does the idea of an assassins academy intrigue you? Have you read The Assassin’s Daughter? Or ARE you going to?? (Because you should.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Beautiful People - The Dragon {March 2016}

 

Visit Sky @ Further Up and Further In or Cait @ Paperfury to join the BP linkup!


I am super pumped today! Becaaaause it’s Beautiful People time! I haven’t done just a good ol’ classic BP in ages. Beautiful Books was going down in October through January, and then I skipped February’s BP (oops). It was SEPTEMBER the last time there was just a normal BP for me to do. I HAVE MISSED IT.


I figured since I am (read: supposed to be) editing my Beauty and the Beast retelling, Burning Thorns, I should do a character from it. This month I was feeling the Dragon a.k.a the Beast himself. Because it’s too fun to dig deep into the inner workings of a character who adamantly does not want his life publicly displayed. *cackles*

__________________________

 

The Forest was once so bright.

A yearning fastened to his chest, constricting, throbbing.

With the greatest of care, he inched forward, not daring to make a sound, even breathe. But the moment his shadow cast over the happy gathering, like a spooked flock of birds, they fled. The fairies zipped back into the flower buds, the nymphs wisped away beyond the branches, the gnomes burrowed themselves in the earth. When the thumping of the stag’s great white hooves faded, only Rose remained. She sat unmoving in the midst of the rose petals, her back to the Beast.

Even still he held his breath, expecting her to dart away like the rest.

Finally, finally, she turned to him. She smiled, though something had faded in her eyes.

“Why do they fear you?” she asked. Not accusingly, not with bitterness. She simply wanted to know, and yet that confused him all the more.

He looked down at his gloved hand and crumpled the thick leather into a fist. “Everyone fears me.” Doubts niggled at his mind, thoughts he pondered every day since she came. He had to know.

Keeping his head down, voice low, he asked. “Why don’t you?”

He did not expect her chuckle. Something inside him lifted at the happy sound. He moved his gaze back to her and found the light had returned in her eyes.

She stood and brushed dirt from her dress. “Because,” she flapped her skirts and then looked him straight in the eye, “you’re not the beast the stories make you out to be.” Her smile and the twinkle in her eyes grew softer, sincere. “You’re kind.”

That constriction in his chest tightened, became more painful by the second. He studied her innocent face. So pure, so full of life and light and love. And him… Tainted.


__________________________

 

THE DRAGON

 

1.) What’s their favorite book/movie/play/etc.?

Well, TV doesn’t exist in his world (this is a medieval fairytale after all), and that’s quite unfortunate for him since he’s spent the past 30 years stuck inside a castle in the middle of the woods. Talk about boring. Luckily, he’s got a very extensive library, and one does not have to have TV when there are BOOKS.

His favorite types of books to read are deep and complicated adventure stories. If Lord of the Rings existed in his world, he’d be all over it. He likes to think. Nothing frilly or simple, please. He does also enjoy history books, but anything else nonfiction tends to bore him.


2.) Is there anything they regret doing?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Ahem.

The real question here is: Is there anything he doesn’t regret doing? His entire life is one big convoluted ball of regret. Let’s just say he manipulated someone, which turned into the death of someone, which turned into him being cursed forever, which turned into a whole pile of problems that extend way beyond his own little world. And that’s just before the story even starts.

His life is a mess, guys.


3.) If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?

…No one. He’s all on his lonesome. He’d have to take care of himself. *sniffles*

The good(ish) news is that his “curse” makes it where he never really gets sick and it’s extremely difficult to wound him. Not a recommended medical plan, but it works for him.


4.) Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?

There are two: A dagger and a hand mirror.

The dagger he keeps because it’d be bad if it fell in the wrong hands for…reasons. It’s also the key to breaking his curse so, yeah, he likes to keep it close and may or may not be grumpy about other people touching it.

The hand mirror is something he doesn’t think he wants, he thinks it’s just an annoyance because of, um, reasons again. But when he loses it he realizes how much he relied on it. Or should I say her. *COUGH*

Wow, guys, all these answers are so vague! These questions are digging into some seriously big spoilers…


5.) What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?

  • Actually treat him like a human being and not a beast. (Cliché, yes, but don’t we all want to be seen as a human being and not some monster? That’s the point of B&B. Or one of the points.)
  • Don’t let him be alone. He may think he wants to be by himself, but deep down he’s desperate for quality time. It gets him right to the core when someone actually wants to spend time with him.
  • Keep things lighthearted. That may sound odd, but the Dragon has a lot of darkness in his life. He deals with a lot of depression and, as we’ve learned, a boatload of regret. He’s very endeared by someone who finds joy in the little things, who can make jokes, and just is all around gentle and kind and fun-loving, since those are all things he struggles to ever achieve.
  • Any acts of pure, selfless service. He’s used to having to fend for himself and being treated badly. Someone doing something nice for him just because they want to, not to get something out of it, is foreign to what his life has been for many, many years. Being shown acts of kindness is something he needs.
  • Most importantly, words of affirmation is his love language, so even more than acts of service, a kind word will go a long, loooong way with him. It’s hands down the quickest way to his heart.

Hm, now I wonder who has all these traits?


6.) Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.

He’ll usually be found in dark clothes. Most of the time he’s in black trousers and a plain tunic. On the rare times he leaves the castle, he wears a full robe with a hood to cover himself in. He also likes to wear black gloves and a black mask that covers the right side of his face to cover his…deformities.


7.) What’s their favorite type of weather?

Bright and warm summer days are definitely his favorites. And he learns to appreciate the sun even more after he ends up living in a place where, well, there really is no sunlight.

He can’t stand the rain or heavily overcast days. They’re too depressing. Again, he loves the sun. Too bad he never gets to see it anymore… Ahem.


8.) What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?

Eheheheheh. Going back to #2 and his regrets. As I mentioned, someone dies. And it was because of a fight. Which was entirely his fault. And his curse happened. But I’ll just leave it there.

So informative, I know.


9.) What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?

Oh dear. Well, I suppose “Dragon” would be a…nickname? It’s certainly not his real name, but that’s what he prefers to be called over other things. Such as “Beast”. A certain person calls him “Beastie” which isn’t nice at all. I think he’s referred to as “the shadow” a time or two because of reasons. And then of course “monster” is a common one.

Ya know, all fun things.


10.) What makes their heart feel alive?

*points back up to #5* Any one of those things. Really, just making him feel loved. Showing him he can be loved and is not some evil monster. That he’s not a beast.


~ ~ ~


I have no idea if you guys got anything from that. That’s what I get for choosing a character whose entire life is one walking spoiler. Ah well. I do still love my Dragon.

 

Tell me your thoughts! What do you think of my Dragon? And have you joined the Beautiful People Linkup this month???

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Making of Shadowed Eden - Guest Post by Katie Clark



I have something fun for you guys today! Remember that book I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, Shadowed Eden? Well, today I have the author, Katie Clark, herself sharing with us her inspiration for the story! I, for one, absolutely love getting an inside peek at how each novel is made. It’s fascinating how one spark of an idea turns into a whole world, characters, an entire story we love. And how we all get ideas differently!


So, without further ado, I shall hand the reins over to Katie herself!


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The Making of Shadowed Eden


Have you ever been lost in a story? So lost that you can’t think of anything else? Ever loved the characters so much that you started imagining new twists and turns for them to live through?


Okay, confession time. This is how the seeds of Shadowed Eden, my YA supernatural novel, began. While doing my daily walk on the treadmill I began watching the TV show Lost on Netflix. I fell in love, but not with the characters many people loved.


A couple seasons into the show we were introduced to a teen girl named Alex. Her dad wasn’t really her dad, but she didn’t know that yet. And her dad was definitely wrong in his views and beliefs. This went beyond the normal “teens hate their parents” stuff. Alex’s dad really was wrong, and she had to do something about it.


Alex stuck in my head. I began imagining scenarios for her, just to see how she would resolve them. I wanted to know more, more, more about her! It wasn’t long before I had created an entire character profile for this girl who wasn’t even that important to the TV show.


Shadowed Eden grew out of that character profile (as well as some awesome brainstorming sessions with my brother, who is a fellow Lost enthusiast). I wrote the book quickly, and my love for the show morphed into a love for this new story. This different story.


Now it’s your turn! Ever loved a show so much you truly found yourself “Lost” in it?


__________________________________________


I can definitely relate to this! Actually, most of my stories ideas come from watching TV. *cough, cough, cough* But hey, as writers, when we’re spending hours on Netflix we can call it “working”. #TheWritersLife


Thanks so  much for agreeing to visit Musings of an Elf, Katie! I loved seeing how Shadowed Eden came to be!


__________________________________________


Want to know more about Shadowed Eden?


High school senior, Avery Miles, is attending one last mission trip with the church youth before she moves across country to attend college in the fall. The trip through Iraq takes a wrong turn when the sandstorm of the century hits the area and blows the group’s entourage off course. After the dust settles, they find themselves in an unimaginable and inexplicable garden oasis. Along with an abundant supply of luscious fruit and crystal clear springs, the mysterious garden is home to poisonous snakes, hidden sink holes, and a lingering confusion that no one can shake—not to mention the natives, who are almost unearthly.

As the days progress, the group begins to realize they have a very real problem—no matter which way they trek, they can’t seem to leave. Avery puts the clues together and begins to suspect their location is much more than a simple garden oasis, but just as a rescue plan forms, Avery discovers her father is working with a more sinister presence, one that wants to keep them trapped permanently.


*Watch the book trailer for Shadowed Eden on YouTube here!*
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGl3i7ZhJLs

 

What others have said about Shadowed Eden!


"A truly original premise, Shadowed Eden, is an exciting supernatural adventure filled with danger, redemption, and a cast of teenaged characters that I grew to love. I enjoyed Clark's story and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next." ~Jill Williamson, Christy Award-winning author of By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled


"Shadowed Eden is a unique and intriguing tale that will keep the reader turning pages, and the suspense doesn't stop until its surprising end! I highly recommend it." ~Melanie Dickerson, Carol Award-winning author of The Merchant's Daughter

 


KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died.

Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural, Shadowed Eden. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


~ ~ ~

 

Now let’s hear your thoughts, O Readers! Who else has written entire books off of inspiration from TV shows? (I know we’re not alone here.) Do you ever get these ideas that just eat away and eat away at your until you put them to paper? And have you read Shadowed Eden?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Musings of an Elf’s 6th Birthday!



Why yes, my Monday post is a day late. But that was on purpose becaaause…


TODAY IS MY 6 YEAR BLOGOVERSARY!!!


Yep! On March 14th, 2011, I published the first post here on Musings of an Elf, and thus my blogging obsession began.


It’s a bit surreal to realize I’ve been blogging for 6 full years. THAT’S A LONG TIME. But it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Honestly, in my head, this blog is still a little baby blog and I’m an amateur blogger. And yet, on the other hand, I can’t imagine a time I wasn’t blogging. Blogging is such an integral part of my life now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


This year I had hoped to actually do something special for my blogoversary since I never have before. Which is shameful! Buuuut I didn’t even remember my anniversary was coming up until the beginning of March, and my brain has been so scattered, I didn’t feel equipped, or in the right mentality, to come up with something fun. ONE OF THESE DAYS, GUYS. I’ve been meaning to do a giveaway or party or something on my blogging anniversary since my first one AND I STILL HAVEN’T. I’ve just got a lot going on in life right now occupying my mind (all good things, do not fear) and was scared to commit to a giveaway or something. So, as I tell myself every year, maybe next year… This year you’ll just have to put up with some reminiscing. *cackles*



I first decided to start a blog when I was getting very serious about writing. I’ve been writing since I was 9, but I didn’t really get serious about it until my first NaNoWriMo in 2010. After that amazing experience, I knew for a fact writing was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And thus I jumped into actually learning the craft (which is something I had failed to do before…let’s not talk about my early novels), poking around writing blogs, and actually, *gasp* WRITING. As I saw other writers blogging and talking about the importance of having a platform if one wants to be published, it occurred to me: Hey, I should make a blog!


And thus Musings of an Elf was born.


This blog has come a long, long way since that March day I finally took the plunge and created it. I’ve grown a lot in the past 6 years—in life, in writing, in blogging (thank goodness). In those first couple of years, there was a whole lotta random nonsense posted on this here blog. (Okay, I still totally post random nonsense, but at least it’s a biiit higher quality random nonsense…? Maybe? Perhaps? Anybody?? Ahem.) I also posted extremely irregularly, with loooong amounts of time between posts. It wasn’t until 2013 was about to roll around that I up and made a New Year’s resolution to post every single week, and I’ve stuck to that schedule since. I think a blogging schedule is very important, annnd it’s the only way I’ll ever get around to posting. I gotta have that accountability. *grins*


Once I started posting weekly, I think my content grew in quality as I got the hang of things. I also became way more open about my writing, something I normally hid in the deep recesses of my laptop from all eyes but my own. I mean, if I was building a platform of readers I prooobably needed to actually, ya know, talk about my writing. Originally, this blog was kinda meant to be an ALL THE THINGS blog. Just about life and randomness and anything on my mind. But, slowly but surely, it became a full on writing blog. And that’s when I found my niche. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. This blog was meant to gain readership, so of course its main focus should be on my writing! Duh, Christine. #Blonde


I think by 2014 I was really finding the type of things I liked to blog about, and the blog grew a lot as well. I had developed the habit of writing a post for every Monday, and settling into the types of posts that suited me and the blog.


Though, I don’t think I really found my niche until just a couple of years ago. And I’m still learning. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. But that’s the thing about writing, you never “make it”. It’s a continuous quest for improvement. But I think that’s a pretty exciting realization. The journey is the fun part, and writing is forever an adventurous journey.



My favorite part about the writing/blogging journey is the community. YOU GUYS. I would have probably given up on this blogging endeavor a long time ago if not for the continuous support and encouragement of all my dear blogging buddies. This circle of bloggers I’ve joined is full of the nicest, most fun, creative, encouraging people I’ve ever known.


I would not be nearly as far along with my writing if not for all of you. I’m blown away every. single. time. when one of you shows enthusiasm and interest in one of my stories. Each and every comment I receive gives me a thrill. I adore reading your brilliant posts and getting to interact with each of you. You all push me to keep going. Sometimes (most of the time…) this writing journey is uphill and tiring and just downright discouraging. But you guys are like a fresh spring of water on that uphill hike, refreshing and refueling me to keep moving forward. Before I started blogging and befriended all my amazing writing/blogging friends, writing was just a hobby. Now it’s my life, and I have all of you to thank for that.


THANK YOU for reading Musings of an Elf.


THANK YOU for putting up with my rambles and nonsense.


THANK YOU for showing interest in my novels and supporting me through this hard journey.


THANK YOU for being YOU. You’re all amazing, talented, beautiful people, and I wish I could give each and every one of you a ginormous hug.


~ ~ ~


I love you guys! *passes around cake* Here’s to many more years of blogging to come!

Monday, March 6, 2017

{Book Review} Shadowed Eden (Beguiled #1) by Katie Clark


Avery Miles is ready to spread her wings and prove her worth on a church mission trip to Iraq, but when their entourage gets blown off course in a desert dust storm, the group is lost in an inexplicable garden oasis. Along with the luscious fruits and crystal springs, Avery and her friends find poisonous snakes, deadly sink holes, and a group of natives that are almost unearthly—but that's not their biggest problem. No matter which way they trek, they can't seem to leave.

To keep the group safe, Avery steps up and takes charge, but it isn't long before she realizes things aren't as they seem. She isn't the only one seeing the mysterious boy named Rae, and she's pretty sure her father is sabotaging her rescue efforts. Gathering her courage, Avery must decide what's most important to her—finally winning her father's approval, or getting out of the jungle for good.


Amazon | GoodReads | Author's Website


______________________


I’ve honestly never read a book like this before. I’m usually more a speculative person myself, but I do love survival stories. So when I saw this was a survival story with a touch of the supernatural, well, call me intrigued!

 

THE RUNDOWN


Avery has just arrived in Iraq on a mission trip with a group of other teens. She’s hoping to use this trip as a way to prove to her father that she can handle herself in the real world. Well, she gets a bit more than she bargained for. A sandstorm throws the group’s bus off into a desert just outside a mysterious jungle. On the one hand, this jungle provides food and water, which is good since the group is left stranded with a broken bus. On the other hand, the jungle doesn’t seem to play by the rules of the universe. People who enter it lose entire days of their lives, unearthly people roam within, and no matter how far away you walk from it, you always appear back.


Avery and her group do their best to survive the hot desert and peculiar jungle, all the while trying to find a way to get back to civilization. But as more and more dangers cross their path, and Avery’s father shows keen interest of the jungle, Avery can’t help but solve the mysteries within.



At first I was a little bored, but I think that was my own fault. I expected a more action-y book for some reason. But this story really isn’t about the action, it’s about the mystery. Once I got that in my brain, I started enjoying it much more. It pulls you along with one strange occurrence after the next. I couldn’t help but turn the pages, desperately wanting to see what happens at the end. The pace is pretty fast. It doesn’t take long at all to get through. Small and quick chapters, which I like.


My favorite bit of it was the survival. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by stories about a small group being stranded somewhere and having to learn to survive, but I just love it! And that’s exactly what this book was. You could feel the misery of the desert sun and the chill of the night. The characters did their best to ration the food they had on the bus and instead eat the fruit of the jungle, but, after a while, their appetites longed for something other than fruit. They had to trek back and forth for water, and make shelters, all while in danger of the mysterious jungle. All fun things! (Because, ya know, watching people suffer in fiction is fun…? #BookWormProbs)


To add to the hardships of survival and the mystery of the jungle, Avery struggles with her own inner problems—like having to learn to work with her ex-boyfriend.

 

CHARACTERS


Each character has a good backstory that slowly becomes unveiled over the course of the story. We have four characters who are the main focus—Avery, Luca, June, and Benny. The story itself goes back and forth between the point of view of Avery and her ex-boyfriend Luca, giving a deep understanding of each of them and their rocky past.


Avery: She is our main main character, as the story mostly revolves around her. At first, I wasn’t super wild about Avery. She was a little bit too stubborn and never opened up to people. But as her backstory came to light, all her actions began to make sense. I became sympathetic and understanding of why she was who she was. I appreciated the realism of her character, as well as her growth through the story.


Luca: Luca was one of my favorites! Where Avery took on a take-charge attitude to prove herself, I believe Luca took charge just because he genuinely wanted to help everyone, and no one else was stepping up. Not only was he keeping the group together and making sure they always had enough food and water, he never hesitated to help Avery when she was desperate to solve the mystery of the jungle. He was strong and brave and a total sweetie. I love ‘im!


June: She was my other favorite. Her calm, sweet demeanor was a breath of fresh air amidst the group of stubborn teenagers. She had a rather surprising character arc, some things I didn’t expect of her, but it just made her all the more human. I loved how she was so nice but not utterly perfect. A very well rounded character!


Benny: At first Benny really, really got on my nerves, and I feared was just there to serve as the comic relief. But he surprised me at how deep his character turned out to be. Honestly, he was probably the most realistic of all of them. I feel like we all know a “Benny”. He’s kind of that annoying pest of the group, but once you realize what their home life is like, you understand why they’re so needy. I actually ended up totally loving Benny.


There was a gaggle of other characters, but these four are the main ones the story revolves around.


The author did a good job of making realistic characters, though I didn’t connect with them quite as deeply as I would have liked. I don’t think it was that they weren’t deep though, I think I just didn’t get enough of their backstories or dug deep into their emotions. We do get the gist of their lives back home and why there’s tension between Avery and Luca, etc., etc. but it was always quick mentions here and there, never dwelled on. The emotions, as well, were there but brushed over a little too quickly a lot of the time. Sometimes I felt as if the story went a little too fast, more focusing on the actions of the characters than their inner feelings. Every scene just seemed a smidge rushed to me. Buuut I’m pretty picky with pacing, so this could very well be a me thing. XD



One thing that surprised me was the lack of God. This is a Christian book, and revolves around a mission trip and spiritual warfare, and yet…God wasn’t there much at all. Sometimes it would mention a character praying or something, but we never really just see the characters leaning on God. A character even got saved near the end, and all we’re given is a couple of quick sentences saying they prayed. No real deep talks or much emotion or anything like that. It just kinda surprised me. It definitely had some good messages and characters arcs, but I would have liked to see God way more present. Especially in the climax. Some of the events didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, because the characters hadn’t shown any deep interest in God before then. But now I’m getting into spoiler territory so I shall hush.

 

CONTENT CAUTIONS


Really…hardly anything! There was definitely some dangerous happenings and injuries, but nothing was ever described in deep detail.


As I said though, this was a spiritual warfare book, with mentions of angels and demons. It gets a little deep, especially with the demon thing, so I’d keep that in mind for younger readers.


No language or inappropriate content at all. There was some romance, but very, very lowkey.

 

CONCLUSION


Overall, I enjoyed reading this, but wasn’t utterly wowed. The characters were realistic, but I would have liked to see more of their backstory and emotions. The plot could have maybe been a bit more action-packed. BUT it did keep me utterly intrigued. Every time I picked it up to read, I didn’t want to have to stop. And I definitely loved the survival aspect of it!


As I said at the beginning, it was nothing like anything I’ve ever read. I quite enjoyed stepping out of my usual genres and giving something fresh and new a try. The premise of a youth group being stranded in a supernatural jungle was spectacular, and I may just have to try more books like this sometime!


If you enjoy survival stories full of mystery and/or spiritual warfare tales, I’d definitely recommend this one!



Have you read Shadowed Eden? Am I the only one utterly enthralled by survival stories? What do you think about spiritual warfare books? I personally find them fascinating! Tell me your thoughts!


And stayed tuned, because in a couple of weeks Katie Clark herself will be here at Musings of an Elf sharing how this story came about. It’s gonna be fun!


NOTE: I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Life Lessons Learned from Fantasy Tag



I have been tagged! And tagged with the best kind of tag, one that involves STORIES AND FANTASY. Only my favorite things of ever!


As I mentioned last week, February is Fantasy Month thanks to our brilliant Jenelle Schmidt. To celebrate this fun month, she created the Life Lessons Learned from Fantasy Tag. And my dearest Deborah O'Carroll has tagged me for this awesome thing! Obviously I couldn’t pass that up. Fantasy is only my breath and blood!


 

Rules

1.) Link back to Jenelle's Blog

2.) Use the “February is Fantasy Month” image above

3.) Tell us 5-10 lessons you’ve learned from reading a fantasy book (or watching a fantasy movie) – lessons can come from multiple sources, as well, of course

4.) Tag 2-4 other bloggers to keep the game going

 

What Fantasy Has Taught Me


Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R Tolkien


Oh, the lessons I’ve learned from this powerful story! Really, the lessons are endless, because every single time I reread the books or watch the movies for the 299384 time and counting or just immerse myself in anything Tolkien related, I glean yet more wisdom from his extraordinary works. I could make a list as long as Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor about what this story has taught me. But there’s one particular thing that always stands out.


No matter who you are, how small and unimportant you may feel, you can still do big and powerful and hard and amazing things. Frodo was just a little hobbit. He had never gone out in the world, had never had any adventures or experienced great evils. He was just Frodo Baggins of the Shire—a small, kind, and seemingly simple soul. But when the need to destroy the Ring came, this small hobbit, who hardly even knew about the world, volunteered. He did what had to be done, when no one else would. He stepped outside his little life in the Shire and faced evil and pushed on and on and on. Not because he was some great warrior looking for glory, but because, as our dear Sam reminded us, “There is good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” Frodo and Sam and all the Fellowship fought just for the sake of good. Not because of who they were, but because it was the right thing to do.


I often feel so unimportant and inadequate. But when I think of this story, it reminds me: We are all called to do hard things and fight for the good. We just have to take the initiative and do it.


(Like I said, I’ve learned a lot from this story. Ahem. Moving on!)

 

The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis


More stories that have such an endless source of wisdom. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’s allegory of Jesus’s sacrifice for us, even the most treacherous of us, resonates so deep and far. Aslan’s death brought an even deeper understanding of the Cross for me, gave me an illustration of what Jesus went through, helped me understand the power of His death. And it made it personal. Aslan sacrificed himself for Edmund, just as Jesus gave Himself for me. It takes my breath away every single time.


The Last Battle provided a clearer and more real picture of what Heaven may be like. It made Heaven feel real, feel close. Sometimes my little mind can’t imagine such a place, or wrap around the idea that one day I’ll actually be there, for eternity. But this story brought it to life and causes me to look forward to it and yearn for it every single day.

 

Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series
by Bryan Davis


Yet another that is just packed full of beautiful allegories and immeasurable wisdom. For this series, it’s really the characters that have taught me so, so much.


Sapphira taught me that no matter how lonely and long hard times can be, that God is always, always right there with us, and we can endure because of Him.
Billy taught me that disobeying God does…not go well. God has set His commandments for a reason, and they’re there with our best interest in mind, whether we think so or not.
Walter taught me to keep a light spirit, no matter how difficult things get.
Bonnie, sweet Bonnie, is a constant reminder of what I want to strive to be. For years, I often ask myself the question, “How would Bonnie act or respond in this situation?” Her sweet, humble, and selfless spirit is something we should all strive to be.


I know there are 239984 other lessons this series has taught me that I’m not thinking of right now. But basically, READ THESE BOOKS. It’s my favorite series of all time. Yes, FAVORITE.


Peter Pan
by J.M. Barrie


Honestly, I think Peter Pan has shaped my personality. It has been such an integral part of my life from childhood to now. There are probably things I’ve gleaned from it that I haven't even realized. But one I’m largely aware of.


Peter Pan taught me that, yes, we do need to grow up. We can’t live in our childhoods forever, and ignore the big, wide world that’s out there. BUT. But but but! That DOES NOT MEAN we shouldn’t have child-like wonder. Do you think for one minute Wendy lost her wonder of the world? She forever remembered her time in Neverland. She was a storyteller, a dreamer. Yes, she chose to grow up because she knew she had to, but, I firmly believe, she kept remnants of Neverland within her to her last days. And that’s why Wendy is one of my top favorite heroines. She made a responsible decision, one many of us (a.k.a ME) might not have made, but she also knew this world is not about school and work and the daily grind. It’s so, so much more than that. It’s about dreaming and wishing and smiling and finding the beauty. Just like a child.


Peter Pan taught me that I do need to grow up, but I never have to, nor should I, lose my child-like wonder.

 

Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood #1)
by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


This story is an absolutely gorgeous allegory about how Jesus still loves us even though we’re such ugly, selfish beings. About how we push Him away and push Him away, when all He wants is the best for us, to love us. About how His love transform us, if only we’d stop resisting, stop feeding our selfishness and satisfying our worldly wants, and just accept Him.


I read this for the first time many, many years ago, and the story resonated with me, and continues to each time I reread it. It encompasses the beauty of our relationship with Jesus into words.


This whole series is filled to the brim with beautiful messages, so perfectly woven into the stories you don’t even realize it until you close the book, breathless from the powerful story you were just given. One of my favorite series of all time.

 

The Ilyon Chronicles
by Jaye L. Knight


This is a spectacular fantasy series about living in a world where worshipping God is forbidden. It really highlights the trials Christians face, but how it’s always, always worth following Christ, no matter how difficult the road is. This powerful message ran so deep within me. Yes, as Christians we will be persecuted. It is not an easy walk. But no matter how hard the trials are, how long and tiring the road is, we have endless HOPE. We have a God so, so much bigger than the naysayers on this little earth.


This series has shown me how important it is to stand up for God and stay strong in faith. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it.

 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
& Through the Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll


Alice in Wonderland is like Peter Pan in that it basically raised me. To the point that Wonderland’s nonsense tends to make way more sense to me than the real world. NOT EVEN KIDDING. I often feel like the world and people in Wonderland often think the way I do. As my mom has said, she imagines my brain looks a lot like Wonderland. 100% accurate. Hey, I never, ever claimed to be normal.


Ahem, ANYWAYS. I’m sure you’re asking, “What life lesson could she have possibly learned from this nonsensical story?” Well, here it is: It’s okay to be a little mad. In fact, I highly recommend it. Because the world is mad. (Mad as in “full of nonsense”, not “angry”, just to clarify.) We don’t live in a normal world. Life is crazy and spontaneous and odd and sometimes (oftentimes) doesn’t make sense. We can’t always have perfect routines and live utterly ordinary lives. Life doesn’t allow that. And why would we want it to?


To quote the White Queen, “…sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Indeed it was the White Queen and not Alice who said that. #Trivia) I think that’s a very good practice. We shouldn’t live in boxes. Life is so larger and more wondrous when we allow ourselves to think the impossible, to have a little nonsense now and again. There is a time and place for being serious, but I enjoy life much, much more just making light of things and laughing and being a little mad. Life’s too short to take everything seriously.


~ ~ ~


I am sure there are dozens upon dozens of other life lessons I’ve learned from countless books. These are just a few prominent to me. Fantasy has never been just an interest, it’s who I am, it’s what has shaped me and raised me as a person. I firmly believe I’d be entirely different if not for the countless stories—books, movies, and TV shows alike—I’ve grown up on, immersed myself in for all my life.


Because fantasy isn’t just “made up entertainment”. It mirrors the truths of this world to help us better understand them. It portrays our trials as dragons and helps us learn how to face them with as much bravery as our beloved heroes. Real, good, whole fantasy teaches us to endure and be strong and love deeply and have faith and courage.


It’s so, so, so much more than “made up entertainment”.


Tagging


Katie Grace @ A Writer's Faith | Skye @ Ink Castles | Jameson @ Lovely Whatsoevers | Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings | and ALL who love fantasy and want to partake!

 

Tell me, O adventurer, do you read fantasy? What is one of the biggest life lessons from a fantasy story you’ve learned? Have you read any of these books? Let us flail over all the fantasy things! And don’t forget to check out Jenelle's post to see all the fantasy fun!

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