Monday, October 31, 2016

Beautiful Books - More Gold than Sunlight {NaNoWriMo 2016}

Hmmm… Isn’t there something important starting tomorrow? Now what could it be? National Eat a Burrito Month? No, no. National Ride a Giraffe Month? Nooo. Oooh yeah. It’s only National Novel Writing Month. Psh. No big deal.



So…yes. Apparently NaNo begins TOMORROW. And guess who hasn’t really talked about her novel yet? This giiirl! In my defense, I’ve been super busy plotting it ALL. MONTH. Turns out plotting a finale to a 7-book series takes some time. Who knew, right? I only just finished all my plotting this week, so now I feel prepared to actually intelligently talk about what’s going on with this book (or pretend to).

Thankfully, the world has been blessed with Sky @ Further Up & Further In and Cait @ Paperfury who gives us Beautiful Books, which is much like their Beautiful People linkup, but instead focused on our books instead of characters. They roll it around every NaNoWriMo season to get us talking about our noveling endeavors, but it’s there for ANYONE, not just NaNo participants! So do get yourself over to Sky's post or Cait's to snag the questions and join in yourself. (Even though this is the last day of the month and I’m pretty sure I’m the last one to do it, but… *cough*)

As I babbled and reminisced over in THIS POST, I shall be writing my 7th and FINAL book in my Colors of a Dragon Scale series. You know, that series I’ve been working on since my FIRST NaNo. I’m still in total shock 7 years have already passed and I’m about to write the finale, but here we are.

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce…




1.) What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Long before I discovered the joys of Pinterest, I used to peruse (and by peruse I mean stalk like a fiend). It was there I found a gorgeous drawing of a white-haired elf (this one, in fact), and my imagination just ran with it. That elf very quickly became Bryth, my poor tortured elf, and seconds later Eryth, Bryth’s sweet half-elf best friend, came into existence. (And yes, I do realize their names are only one letter apart. My naming skills back then were ridiculous and pathetic.) About one minute after Bryth and Eryth appeared in my brain, they became dragon riders, and that turned into a whole slew of dragon riders, and then an entire fantasy world with the beginnings of a plot.

I’m pretty sure this whole series came into being within five minutes of thinking about it. It just…was. Sure, I had to discover the full plot, but the general idea and pretty much all the characters were instantly there.

It was sometime in 2010 I found this elf picture and these ideas came. I suspect maybe during the summer, because I know it was a few months before NaNo. I had decided that year I wanted to participate in NaNo for the first time. I had graduated from highschool that May, and suddenly had much more free time, so what better way to use it than try NaNo out? When this story idea sprung into existence, I knew it was what I wanted to do for NaNo. I quickly had the idea of writing each book of the series for the next few NaNos. Annnd, here I am!

I honestly think all this happened in one night. I distinctly remember laying in bed, trying to sleep, when Bryth and Eryth and then the whole story idea came into being. And I think it was right after it appeared that I had the NaNo idea. There was never any deciding. It all just happened instantly. Kinda crazy to think about now that I’m here, 7 years later, still writing this series…

2.) Describe what your novel is about!

Well…if I told you specifics that’d pretty much spoil all the OTHER books. This is a finale after all. But I do have a handy-dandy, (mostly) spoiler-free blurb all written out!

Velnoroth's forces have succeeded in taking over Aerigethel's most powerful regions, and with the Father Dragon on their side, they are nearly unstoppable. Kingdoms are enslaved, allies have fallen, and the enemy only grows stronger. Yet, even as the last gleam of hope diminishes, the dragon riders of Sivral and their friends, old and new, will stop at nothing to liberate their loved ones, and fight to return Aerigethel to the free land they once knew. But they cannot do it alone.

Only if the regions come together, can Velnoroth be defeated. But with so much already lost, so many bonds broken, and the enemy almost in full reign, can the riders ever succeed in unifying the people?

In the finale to the Colors of a Dragon Scale series, Aerigethel is racing toward a new age. Vithen seeks to bring about the age of the dark elves. But a few young dragon riders from the humble region of Sivral fight for something better. Together, with the strength of their Creator, they fight for an age of bravery, an age of unity, an age of hope.

Will Aerigethel fall forever into its darkest days? Or can it finally stand as one, and from the ashes raise a better world—a golden age?

Ya know, dragon riders, cliché high fantasy things, death, pain, war, destruction. All the fun stuff!

3.) What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Metal swords, sleek dragon scales, leather saddles, broken cities, bursts of fire, stone towers, weary warriors, clinking chains, barrages of arrows, a dusty canyon, earthy tunnels, starry nights.

You can peruse my Pinterest Board for more pics.

4.) Introduce us to each of your characters!


I maaay have gotten carried away in the character making process when I first created this series, and even more have cropped up here and there while writing the books. I sorta kind have some 15 main characters and a gaggle of side ones. Yeeeah. It will tear me apart, but I think once I rewrite these monsters I’m gonna have to cut characters. It’s just gotten to be too much…

But ANYWAYS. Let me see if I can do this. I’m gonna try to be organized here and section it off for each main character of each book. Because the first 5 books were about separate people, and then these last 2 bring them all together. So yeah, lots of peeps. o.o Feel free to skip over this ginormous part.

More Blue than Sky (Book #1)
NaNoWriMo 2010

Eryth: My kindhearted half-elf. She struggles a lot with bravery and self-worth, but she’s also the most devout follower of the Creator (my world’s God-figure). She’s very soft spoken, tenderhearted, and a total sweetie. She has a blue female dragon named Neriin.

Bryth: Bryth is basically the total opposite of Eryth. Very standoffish, gruff, and hardly trusts anybody. She can also probably kill you in 2 seconds flat so let’s stay on her good side, shall we? Her dragon is also female and named Reshin.

Ritholv: I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned Ritholv before, probably because he’s a big spoiler. But sheesh, he’s been around for 7 years now, I think he’s worth mentioning! He’s a very carefree sort, but also can be extremely deadly. He’s a bit of a wanderer, not the type you can pin down, and sometimes he may seem a little aloof, but deep down he has a big heart.

Iraila: The princess of Sivral—the kingdom all my dragon riders are from. She’s the best friend to Eryth and Bryth (they’re a close threesome, and she and Eryth are the only two people in the world Bryth entirely trusts). Spunky is the best way to describe Iraila. She’s full of life and laughter with a fiery spirit.

Airen: The crown prince of Sivral, Iraila’s older brother, hopelessly in love with Eryth, and just an all around fun guy. At first Airen may seem way too full of himself, but in reality he’s the total jester and loves it. Making people laugh is his permanent mission in life, and he’s quite good at it. Carefree and fun-loving, you can pretty much always find a friend in Airen. (And he’s one of my favorite creations.)

(Airen and Iraila also played pretty major roles in the next book.)

More Pink than Sunsets (Book #2)
NaNoWriMo 2011

Nyria: Sometimes I like to describe Nyria as a 4-year-old running on 5 cups of coffee. Her energy…never ends. She and her twin brother, Naidren, are the cousins to Airen and Iraila. Nyria has much of Iraila’s spunk and fiery spirit. But where Iraila can control herself, Nyria has no boundaries and is always the life of the party and embarrassing her brother to no end. Her dragon is a female named Afayleth. (And yes, it’s a pink dragon.)

Naidren: Poor Naidren… Unlike his twin sister, he’s very quiet and would much rather stay inside all day reading than going on adventures. He’s the long sufferer of the Savriella clan (Airen, Iraila, Nyria, and him), being as how the others are energetic and outgoing and drag him into all sorts of trouble he wants no part of. His dragon is a female named Ferrleth who is also pink (bright pink) and Naidren hates me for it. *grins*

Erra: Erra popped up in the midst of writing More Pink than Sunsets and came to stay. She’s quiet and a bit standoffish, but with good reason being as how basically everyone she loves died. She’s a broken soul, and it takes a lot to crack open the wall she keeps around herself. She eventually gains a green dragon named Edria due to complicated circumstances. (She and Naidren may or may not be a thing.)

More Purple than Amethysts (Book #3)
NaNoWriMo 2012

Eldoren: At the start of his story, Eldoren is a pompous jerk. Coming from a rich family, his life has been nothing but high society and pleasures (aside from some daddy troubles…). But like the good author I am, I destroyed his life and broke him until he came around. He’s a much sweeter person here at the finale. He has a male purple dragon (seeing a pattern here?) named Irevik.

Riana: Riana has a Mysterious Past We Do Not Speak Of that has left her…reserved, to put it lightly. She does not speak to anyone, keeps to herself, and is not exactly thrilled when she’s paired off with the rich jerk known as Eldoren for her dragon rider partner. All around, she’s not a very nice person (at first). Ah yes, those two have fun together. Her dragon is a female called Razel.

More Green than Envy (Book #4)
NaNoWriMo 2013

Leiden: Leiden, my precious elf. Leiden can talk a mile a minute and basically never stops talking, and he pretty much has a permanent smile on his face. He’s friendly and fun and all around a really nice fellow. His dragon is a female named Gaelasil.

Darven: Darven is quiet and…hard. Life has hardened his heart, and though he’s not a bad fellow by any means, he just likes to keep to himself and not meddle in other people’s business. But he’s strong and brave and does care about the wellbeing of others when it comes down to it. Also, overly perky people can grate on his nerves. So…him and Leiden are obviously one of the most fun pairs I’ve ever written. Their friendship amuses me endlessly. Darven’s dragon is a male named Barveris.

More White than Stars (Book #5)
NaNoWriMo 2014

Iavin: To this day Iavin is my favorite point-of-view character to ever write. I don’t know why but I love being in this awkward baby’s head. Iavin is a half-elf, but he did not inherit the tall, gracefulness of his elven mother or brute strength of his human father. He’s tiny and shy and the most awkward little bean I’ve ever written. Saving the world was not on his list of things to do with his life. But hey, we all gotta get out of our comfort zones sometimes. He has a female dragon named Nemayn (who is playful and perky and loves embarrassing her poor rider).

Sayleth: Unlike her dragon rider partner, Sayleth is the picture of grace. But she’s also a mute (erm…sometimes, it’s complicated) which doesn’t help poor Iavin have non-awkward conversations with her one bit. Sayleth has a very calm personality. Her sweet, quiet nature is very pleasant to be around, despite a mysterious aura surrounding her. Daeomin is her male dragon.

Cael: Ah Cael. I’m pretty sure you all know by now he’s my top favorite character ever. (Yes, even a smidge more than Airen. Shhh, don’t tell.) How to even describe Cael… He’s a villain but at the same time not. Because he actually has a huge heart and can be very polite and tenderhearted. He does have a sassy side though, and a bit  of a warped sense of morality. But he’s also just fun. He can totally be the fun-loving, life of the party. Somehow he is Iavin and Sayleth’s best friend while also being their arch-enemy. Only Cael can manage this…

Whew! Okay. Now we’ve come to More Black than Night (#6, NaNo 2015) and THIS book, More Gold than Sunlight (#7 and the end, NaNo 2016), where all those first five stories and characters come together and a big party of trying to save the world is had!  Honorable mentions go to Vithen, my main villain, Visance and Terreth (a couple of other villains who showed up in book #3), King Aidred and Queen Rayalien (Airen and Iraila’s mom and dad and Naidren and Nyria’s aunt and uncle), Rem (a friend of Naidren and Nyria’s), annnd probably a dozens others I’m not thinking of. Not to mention all the dragons. The dragons in this world don’t talk exactly, but they do all have very distinct personalities. But we will not get into that…

I told you I had a lot of characters! It’s gotten a little out of hand. *cough* And I should have made this character introduction section a blog post of its own! Wasn’t I doing a Beautiful Books post? MOVING ON.

5.) How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Sooo, before my NaNo days, I used to be a hardcore pantser, and I still am sometimes. But NOT for NaNo. Since the first CoaDS book, I’ve made a very detailed outline for each book before NaNo. That way I can write like a fiend and never once have to worry about figuring out what happens next. And with the first book, before my very first NaNo, I made a big map, a races and species chart, some info about all the different kingdoms, detailed character bios, EVERYTHING. All of which I still refer to often. But now I just outline for each book.

This year I spent alllll of October making an 18k word, 46 chapter, scene-by-scene outline. Erm, yeah. I always make detailed outlines for each book, but this one won in length. It’s gonna be a long book! But hey, it is the finale, and I do have a billion characters with a thousand different plot threads I’ve got to fully wrap-up. A little length is inevitable.

6.) What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

EVERYTHING. And I mean it. I’ve been working on this series for 7 YEARS and I’m finally at the end. It’s like the whole book will be one big climax, and I CANNOT WAIT.

More specific things would be certain ships finally shipping (FINALLY!!!), allll the emotions (this is gonna be such an emotional book and I’m a weirdo and LOOOVE writing emotional scenes), a dozen awesome character reunions, and just ACTUALLY FINISHING THIS SERIES. So, yes, everything!

7.) List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

A broken city (as in buildings torn apart and scattered everywhere, cracked roads, just totally ruinous, its fun!), the countryside blurring by below from atop a dragon’s back, and a big ol’ stone dragon keep (which is like a barn just bigger and nicer because, hello? it houses dragons).

8.) What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?


But…literally. Vithen, king of the dark elves, and his enormous army is trying to take over the entire continent of Aerigethel. (Can we just laugh over how cliché this story is? I have managed to spice up the plot over the years though.) So…that kinda gets in my characters’ way as they fight to free their land once more.

9.) How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Oh gracious! Another character question. TOO MANY CHARACTERS.

Honestly though, most of my characters have already grown and changed drastically in the other books. There’s still plenty of growth in this one though. Some learn to be braver, others to trust more, one or two turn their lives around completely. There’s a lot going on!

10.) What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

I suppose good vs. evil is a pretty big theme for this series. In this particular one, there’s one message of how hardships can be turned into something good, how God will love and accept you if you’re repentant no matter how many mistakes you’ve made in the past, how family is much more than just blood relatives. Again, a lot going on…

How do I want my readers to feel by the end? Wow. I want them to feel…everything! I want them to feel like reading through an entire monstrous 7-book series was worth it. I want them to have a hard time saying goodbye to the characters. But, most importantly, I want them to feel satisfied. As they close the book, I want them to feel as though they read an amazing, epic tale that will stick with them for a long time. (Even though if I ever even hope to accomplish this I’ll have to utterly rewrite the series, but let’s dream for a minute here!)

WHEW. We made it to the end. Congratulations!!! I feel like I just wrote a mini NaNo-novel in this post. o.o Sorry for this monstrous thing! This series is…large, and very close to my heart, if it isn’t obvious. Thank you for putting up with my many, many rambles!


HAPPY NANO-EVE!!! It’s almost here guys! I hope you have the very bestest NaNo yet. Next time you hear from me, we’ll be a week into NaNo-land. It’s gonna be awesome! *raises laptop and charges*

If you’re still here, I applaud you. What do you think of my massive series? Do you like cliché fantasies? And, important question here, if you could have a dragon, what color would you want it to be??? (I’d be all over a pink one myself.) Happy NaNo’ing!!! Or, if you’re not joining in NaNo, I hope you have an amazing November!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ten (perfectly logical) Reasons To Do NaNoWriMo

You may have noticed by the explosion of tweets and blog posts and writers screaming from the rooftops (from fear or excitement, not even we know) that NANOWRIMO IS COMING.

I can hear you groaning, “Not more about NaNo. Are these people ever going to stop?” Now, now, before you run away in fear of catching the insanity, I have 10 perfectly logical reasons why YOU should join in on the craziness as well. Yes, you!



Feeling guilty about that 5th cup of coffee you’re chugging down? Well, during NaNo, THERE IS NO GUILT. Only coffee. Or, if you’re not a coffee person, hot chocolate or soda or ice cream or anything that has mammoth sized amounts of caffeine and/or sugar (both is obviously preferable). Gotta keep that energy up for novel writing after all. You have a perfectly valid excuse to consume sweet drinks and foods alllllll month.

NaNoWriMo is basically a 30 day long coffee break.

If someone judges you for your excess amount of coffee intake, just ask them if they are tearing down kingdoms or going on perilous quests or saving the the entire world or maybe entire UNIVERSES in just 30 days. DRINK THAT CAFFEINE. WRITE THEM WORDS. SAVE THE WORLD.

And if you’re having a sugar crash? Obvious fix. MORE COFFEE. Nothing can go wrong here!



You know that inconvenient thing that comes every night? The one that takes up to 8 hours of your valuable time? That silly thing known as SLEEP? I mean, sheesh, what a drag sleep is. Just laying there, resting, dead to the world, getting refueled and good health? HA. No more of that uselessness. Sleep does not exist during NaNo. There is no sleep. Only words and mad plots and cackling to yourself at 3 in the morning over the most hilarious line you have ever written. And don’t worry over the fact that you’re spending all 30 days of November in the same pair of pajamas. PJs are not just there for sleeping, they’re versatile like that.

Who needs sleep when there are words to write? We’re WRITERS. Sleep has no power over us. Words are our fuel (and coffee). We’re fine. Peeeerfectly fiiiine!


Do you have an awkward social event you’re dreading? Or experience a mini-panic attack that moment the phone rings and you know you’re about to get asked to go do something you really, reeeally don’t want to do? But…you have no excuse. No reason to say no. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS???

NaNoWriMo to the rescue! What better excuse than claiming your great feat of writing an entire novel in only 30 days? Not only will you sound impressive, but you’ll have a valid excuse to not go do all the things you don’t want to! You basically get to avoid peopling all month long.

Just imagine:

*phone rings* “Hey! You want to go—”
“Can’t, noveling! Sorryyyy.”


But hey, maybe you enjoy people and don’t like the idea of going into hermit-mode. NaNo’s got you covered there, too! The NaNoWriMo site and forums are packed with thousands or people just as mad as you are! Us crazies gotta stick together!

Seriously, the NaNo community is AMAZING. If you want to find fellow writers then stalk the forums, buddy people (like meeee!), or just announce on social media that you’re doing NaNo and suddenly you will be tackled happily by a hoard of NaNo’ers. (We are like overly enthusiastic puppies discovering more overly enthusiastic puppies.) There are also local groups in most cities if you want in-person buddies.

You can even find friends who will threaten you with frying pans if you don’t meet your wordcounts. Because writers know the value of true friendship.

There is always someone in the NaNo community who is as mutually weird as you.


But you may be saying, “What about all my current friends???” BRING THEM ALONG. If you don’t want to abandon your friends and family, just forcefully drag them down the rabbit hole with you! What’s more fun than having everyone you know dive into the insanity together? Ask your best friend, all your siblings, your neighbor, your neighbor’s pet chinchilla, the mailman, random people you pass in the grocery store. SPREAD ALL THE NANO LOVE. Convert the whole world into crazy NaNo’ers! Sure, they may threaten you with pitchforks during the middle of NaNo, asking why oh why did you convince them to do this ridiculous thing??? But they will thank you in the end! Oooh yes.


Join ussss.


Not only are you freed of the hassle of sleep and can have all the caffeine you want, you no longer have to worry about responsibilities! Laundry? Pssh. That can wait until December. Besides, you’re wearing your PJs for 30 days. You don’t need to do laundry! Dishes? BAH. Just have 30 or so coffee cups clean before the beginning of NaNo and you’ll be good for the month. And we’ve already covered that you’re excused from all social gatherings.

Chores cannot be bothered with when there are worlds to save. Your only responsibility is to write. And write. And write some more. Just basically throw away your life for your book! Everything will be fiiiine.



You know how you’ll be writing like a mad fiend for 30 days? Well, just think of the finger strength you’ll gain! NaNo is like the international Olympics for fingers. Your fingers are going to be so buff by the end, and all ready to do important work. Like lift more books and hold a 6 pound pizza up to your mouth.

Work them fingers as if you only have 30 days to write a novel! (Oh yeah, you do…)



We all have to admit, the world is pretty tense right now, and life is always busy and stressful. Sometimes you just want to find a dragon and ride away into the sunset to another universe. Guess what? YOU CAN. NaNo is like a FREE month-long vacation from the universe.

Forget the real world. You have a book to write! With fictional characters who need their lives to be lived. Our characters’ lives are obviously more important than our own. Reality doesn’t even exist during NaNo. Only book. Book is all we need. Book is life.



Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say. After 30 days, your family will start missing you, and then realize what a deep, dark hole your absence leaves in their hearts. They’ll think on how awesome you are. How much you fulfill their lives. I mean, really, how have they survived a whole month without you???

By the end of the 30 days, you’ll be like the epic hero who comes home after saving the world. Praised and adored and awed by all.



YOU WROTE A BOOK PEOPLE. Not many people in the world can say that. And definitely not many can say they wrote a book in 30 days. You will forever have that book and the knowledge of how epicly you wrote it. Your awesomeness has no end. Sure, the dishes in the sink have reached the ceiling and your family thinks you’re dead and you may be dying from over-exhaustion. But who cares?? You have a book!

Now doesn’t NaNoWriMo sound funnnn????

But in all seriousness here, writing a book is a huge accomplishment, and the most awarding feeling. NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to get that book you’ve always wanted to write but never thought you had the time for WRITTEN. The community really is amazing, and the experience like no other. I’ve never experienced anything like NaNo. This will be my 7th NaNo and it still feels magical and surreal.

Life is busy and there’s a lot of tension going around. NaNo is a wonderful way to step back for a while and explore other places, other lives, do something for yourself. To have FUN. Sure, it’s stressful sometimes and time-consuming and ridiculously insane, but it’s also one of the most amazing adventures you will ever have. I promise.

So have I convinced you to try NaNo yet??? Do you have any other reasons to add to my list?? Share them in the comments!

Monday, October 17, 2016

{Book Review} Grey Stone by Jean Knight Pace and Jacob Kennedy

In the land of the great red sun, dogs sing, wolves kill, humans serve, and wolf-shifters rule with magic and menace. Pietre is a human boy who has spent the last thirteen years afraid of the sunset, the Blødguard, and the wolf-shifting masters who rule his world. Wittendon is a werewolf prince who has spent the last nineteen years afraid of his father, his inability to do magic, and the upcoming tournament he's sure to lose. But when Pietre finds an orphaned pup in the woods and Wittendon is forced to arrest the boy's father soon after, both of them begin to realize that keeping the rules might be just as terrifying as breaking them. Now serf and master must learn to cut through their own prejudices and work together in order to turn their world before it turns on them.

Grey Stone is a story of dogs who talk, wolves who kill, and a stone that—for better or worse—can change all that.

Amazon | GoodReads | Jean Knight Pace's Blog | Jacob Kennedy's Blog


Well, this was a unique tale! I’ve honestly never read anything like it. The whole idea was very creative and…different.


This is a werewolf story, but before you say, “Ew, gross, no. Not one of those” let me assure you this is NOT some cheesy, romantic interpretation of werewolves. (Because just…no. Not my thing.) These are proper, vicious, epic, shapeshifting people who’d probably eat you if you tried to pet them, no matter how cuddly and soft their fur may appear. They’ve got super powerful magic and live for like a badrillion years and are horrible and awesome at the same time! I didn’t know I could actually like werewolves…? But these were really cool!

In this world, there are four main species—the werewolves, the normal wolves, the dogs, and the humans. The werewolves rule. Not as in they’re cool, man (though I suppose they’re that, too), but as in they actually rule. Like, reign over and oppress the entire world type of rule. Fun times, fun times. Then you got the wolves who are a little below the werewolves, then the dogs, then the poor humans who live in cramped little villages and should really probably bathe more. But, ya know, they CAN’T worry about personal hygiene because they’re too busy working to death for the werewolves and living in awful close quarters and, oh yeah, they’ll get eaten by wolves if they go outside at night. We will not judge them for forgetting to shower now and again.

All the species are very human-like because they can talk, wolves and dogs included. The werewolves basically are human, being as how one of their forms are, well, human. Their other form is wolfish, but they still walk on two legs and all that. And they can turn from wolf-form to human-form at will at any time, which is good fun. Like I said, the werewolves were really cool. Buuuut I wasn’t wild about the talking dogs/wolves bit.

I haven’t really read many talking animal stories, so I didn’t realize this about myself, but I don’t think I like them much. Then again, Narnia is one of the greatest creations on this earth. And there were cats in this story that talked as well, and I loved that part. So maybe it’s something about talking dogs…? I don’t know. I think I’ve been exposed to too many overly-cheesy talking dog movies that perhaps turned me off the idea. Either way, the talking dogs just weren’t my thing. I couldn’t get into that aspect. BUT. This is an entirely “it’s me, not you” deal. The authors did a wonderful job portraying the dogs and weaving their story into the overall plot. I’m just personally not a fan of talking dogs…apparently.

Speaking of the plot…


The plot was MAGNIFICENT! It’s a royal-and-peasant-come-together-to-bring-down-corrupt-government type of tale, which I’m always a fan of. There’s a reason the dogs and wolves can talk and the humans are oppressed and the werewolves rule and all the thiiings. There’s basically a reason for everything. (But spoilers, sweetie.) And the DEPTH of this plot! There was so. very. much. going on. The plot made me think. I love when plots do that! It was no straight line of a plot. More like a looping, tangled mess of murder and secrets and scandals and revelations. Ah yes, good times.

There were also many a twist and reveal, one or two that I was not expecting. Let’s have a big HUZZAH for fun plot twists!

Now sometimes the plot was a bit…odd. Just the whole feel of the story was very different. But it certainly kept me turning the pages!


Obviously we must discuss the characters. This book had some precious babies.

Pietre and Humphrey are two of our main characters. Pietre is a 13 year old, little human boy who just needs to be hugged and protected. BECAUSE HE IS PRECIOUS. He’s sweet and adorable and still very often totally a playful, curious little thing, but he’s got a good heart! And even though his life is basically THE. WORST. he still pushes on and finds his bravery.

Then we’ve got Humphrey who is, in fact, a dog. Even though the talking dog bits weren’t my favorite, they were masterfully done. Humphrey was a dog, through and through. Sure, he can talk and had human-like intelligence, but he’s also mischievous and playful and hyper, and all around dog-like.

You put these two together and EVERYTHING IS ADORABLE. They’re seriously the cutest things—a boy and his dog.

And then there’s Wittendon. Oooh, Wittendon. MY FAVORITE. He’s our werewolf prince who’s lived his whole life with a blind eye toward the unfairness his people inflict on the rest of the world. But he has a weakness, or what he perceives as a weakness—sympathy. AND LET ME JUST HUG THIS BOY, OKAY??? Poor Wittendon is magic-less, in a magic-centered race. Prince or not, his people do not look at him kindly. He struggles to fit in, and realizes maybe he doesn’t want to fit in anyway. His journey was what made this book for me. And he dominated the majority of the story. Which made me a HAPPY BOOK-EATER because I really didn’t care about anyone else’s parts nearly as much as his. Oops?

My other favorite was Zinnegael. She was so…whimsical. Always calm, if not a bit spacey, and mysterious and all around epic. There was not nearly enough of her. SHE WAS AMAZING.

There were quite a few others as well. Such as Sarak, Wittendon’s best friend. He was hilarious and fun and totally precious. I loved Sarak! Sadora, Sarak’s sister, wasn’t my favorite. She was maybe a bit to…high and mighty for my taste? I don’t know. I didn’t hate her by any means, and the part she played in the story was quite fascinating. I just couldn’t get into her quite as much as some of the others.

Then there’s our main villain, the werewolf king, Crespin, who I DETESTED. Seriously, someone needs to stab that man in the face. A.K.A he was an epic villain, I approve. (What? Hating the villain is fun!)

Lastly, TALKING MAGICAL CATS. You can never, ever go wrong with magical cats. They were some of the best parts of the story. And having cats in a doggy dog world, well, it’s fun. *grins*

There are probably a billion other characters I’m forgetting at the moment. But, needless to say, it was a very cool, diverse cast and I highly approve.


Unfortunately, as fun as the plot and characters were, the overall feel of the novel wasn’t my thing. The narration was rather omniscient—a fair amount of head-hopping going on—and pretty much the whole time I felt as though I was being told a story instead of actually living it. Now, much of the writing was very beautiful, but there was always this slight distance that kept me from ever really immersing into the world. Like I was watching the events through a window instead of being out there in the thick of things…if that makes sense. I like stories that utterly transport me into them, and this one just never did that.

The whole thing also had this rather…glum feel to it. I don’t know how else to put it. The werewolves and wolves were so vicious and horrible to the humans, the dogs were a bit standoffish and selfish at times, and the humans’ conditions were of course terrible. The world was extremely unique and interesting, but something about the way it felt just wasn’t my type of thing.

BUT. All the qualms I had with this book are entirely personal preferences. Such as with the talking dogs. The writing was very beautiful and the world creative, I just don’t think this is my type of book too much. But if it intrigues you, I absolutely say give it a try! Because some of the stuff that bothered me, are things other people might love. It’s all personal preference.

Content Cautions

This is a YA book, but it was all quite gory and dark. There are a lot of fights. With much blood and death and pain. So many ears getting torn. o.o I declare by the end of it, every single character had part of their ear torn off. But hey, this is about dogs and wolves. They have TEETH. Ear biting happens. Just do be cautious, because it’s not exactly always a happy book, and you will see much blood.

There’s also much, MUCH magic. As I said, the werewolves are magic-using creatures, and magic plays a huge role in the story. So if that’s not your thing, be aware.

One thing that did particularly bother me was the mention of gods. There were supposedly two gods—the God of the White Sun and God of the Red Sun. At first it seemed like that was going to be a pretty big factor in the story, but after the beginning the whole mention of the gods kinda fizzled out. I got the impression some characters even thought they were more myths than anything. Still, I’m never happy of the idea of fake gods.

There’s also a plot thread that involves someone having intimacy out of wedlock in their past. Now, it was only hinted at, never even sort of shown, and happened before the current events of the story. So it was handled delicately and didn’t bother me too much, but I want you guys to be aware of things before diving into any book I recommend. And, kinda similar to this, there’s mention of a wolf breeding with other wolves and dogs. I didn’t really know how to feel about this. Because they are wolves and dogs, but they’re also…rather human-ish intelligent-wise in this story so…? I don’t know. It was just kinda weird…

What I was very happy to see was the fact that there’s wasn’t a stitch of foul language. And, though there was a touch of romance, the overall plot took complete dominance, and the romance was mostly in the background. I feel like that’s usually the opposite with YAs… Huzzah for YAs that have plots other than romance!


At 338 pages, this book may appear kinda long, but once you start reading, it’s not at all. The pacing is action-packed, with surprises and intrigue on every page. If anything it could have stood to be LONGER. Some scenes I felt were almost too fast. But it kept me reading, that’s for sure! I will say, the last half of the book is much better than the first half. For the first whole half of the book I wasn’t sure how into it I was, but then once I got to the halfway mark I had a hard time putting it down. And the CLIMAX. It. Was. Epic. Like keep-me-up-late-reading-even-though-I-had-to-get-up-early-for-work-the-next-day kinda epic. I JUST HAD TO FINISH IT.

Overall, I didn’t love this story, but I had an enjoyable time reading it. The plot was excellent, the premise unique, the characters a lot of fun. It’s the kind of book I feel like young boys would absolutely love. (Though due to the content maybe not too young.) It’s fast, and action-packed, and, ya know, has cuddly/killer werewolves. How can you go wrong? Also WITTENDON. JUST READ IT FOR WITTENDON OKAY?

What do you think? Does this story intrigue you? Am I the only one who’s just not a talking dog person??? And how do you feel about werewolves? Magical cats??

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

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Bookshop Keeper


Yesterday (October 9th) was my one year anniversary of having my first job—a bookshop keeper. A.K.A the best job EVER. Last year I blogged about how I got the job, if you’re feeling like nosy little dragons. But today I’ve got something extra special planned.

In celebration of my anniversary and upon the suggestion of the brilliant Deborah (thank you, Deborah!), I am going to share what it’s like to work in a secondhand bookshop. I shall give you a tour of the adorable place, take you through some of my bookshop duties, and give few little bookshop-life snippets. It’s gonna be fun!

NOTE: This post is picture OVERLOAD. So be warned! Also, the shop is kinda cramped and the lighting yellow-y and laughs at my attempts of taking nice pictures. So I can’t promise any quality photos. Sowwy!

The bookshop is owned by a retired husband and wife, who are pretty much the best bosses ever. I have a lot of health problems that they’re always understanding over. If I have to take off from work, it’s usually no big deal, even though I’m the only employee. They make the job relaxing and enjoyable. And I love how they have everything setup. It’s all just really great! 

So come on in!


Excuse the weird block in the middle. Covering our sign for privacy reasons.



When you step through the door you’ll enter our widest room, the nonfiction room. Where we keep…nonfiction books! *le gasp* Shocking, I know!



There’s the door, but really when you walk in you’ll see this view from the doorway…



We’ve got all the books sectioned off for easy access. Like one wall is for biographies, another for travel. One corner has all our nonfiction Christian books. Etc., etc.

Just to the left of the door we have our wall of “we don’t know where else to shelve it” books. (Fancy name, I know.)



Usually we put books there that are waaay too big to fit on our wee shelves, or just don’t fit anywhere genre-wise. Lots of coffee table books and whatnot. Audio books go there as well.

Alrighty, moving on! When you go out of the nonfiction room, you’ll find yourself in a long hallway that leads everywhere else.



You can see the nonfiction room to the left there, and that’s the counter to the right.

Behind the counter! This is where I do most of my stuff (unless I’m shelving books, obviously). I like to stay behind here when customers are around because I don’t want to bug them while they’re trying to peacefully shop for books. And they’ll know where to find me if they have a question. Then, of course, I need to be there for when they’re ready to buy their books.

We’ve got everything we need back there. There’s a mini fridge, a COFFEE POT (total requirement, obviously), and even a microwave. So I can bring whatever for lunch. There’s also a radio, which I’m SO grateful for. I can’t stand silence. Gotta have some background sound going of some kind.

The whole shop feels like home to me, but behind the counter feels like my room. It’s the safe haven. I don’t even know, guys, I’m so weird!


My perch. I spend much, much time in that chair. Sometimes spinning in circles. *grins* Juuust kidding. I try to behave myself.



My view from behind the counter. A nice view of the door so I can greet customers when they walk in.

But sheesh, you’re not here to talk about radios and spinny chairs. You want to see BOOKS.

Just as you walk into the hallway from the entrance room, you’ll be facing the counter, as you can see. The hallway runs long to your left, but if you turn to the right, there’s a single room, and one of my favorites.


Okay, this is one of my favorite rooms AND least favorite. Because I couldn’t care less about the other genres in there. Practically half the room is full of westerns which is like my least favorite genre ever. *shudders* Sorry, just not my thing. Also tons of paranormal romance in there. Blech. BUT FANTASY, PEOPLE. And, thankfully, we have it all sectioned off. The back wall is the westerns, the far right the paranormal, the far left fantasy, etc.


As you can see, that shelf stands in the middle of the room. It’s where I find most of the fantasy books I want. It holds the bigger sized books and hardbacks. The wall shelves are much shorter so can only hold the small paperbacks.


Hellooo, paperback fantasy wall.


The other side of the room.

Back to the hallway now and onto the other rooms!

If you walk past the counter and nonfiction room, you’ll see all the other rooms. To the left we have the romance room.



Meh. Romance. I really don’t care about those.

To the right, across from the romance room, is our mysteries/general fiction paperbacks.



Then a little bit farther down, and on the left is the mysteries/general fiction hardback room.



The shelves in there are taller to accommodate the larger books. We alphabetize everything by author, and the W through Z books had to be moved to that shelf on the wall in the hallway because we ran out of space in the actual room. Lol! SO MANY BOOKS. It gets very cramped. We wish we had more space, but we love the location and building (despite its size), so we just make-do with what we got.

Across from that, is a little nook where you’ll find the classics, Christian fiction, and large prints.

I’m pretty sure this used to be a closet, the poor little room. But I love that tiny nook. The back wall is our Christian fiction. To the right is classics, and the left are any large prints that come in.

The hardback romances sit in the room at the very end of the hall.


But psssh. Who cares about all this romance and general adult fiction nonsense? Now that we’re at the end of the hall, to the right there is my most FAVORITE room…


The children’s and YA room!!! I mean, yes, the fantasy room is my favorite, too. But a lot of that is adult fantasy. BO-RING. YA is where it’s at! This room is also bigger and sunnier than the others. And carpeted. It’s so cozy and happy.



Isn’t it cute? This far left side is mostly MG books, and in the baskets we have board books and things like that.


A nice bench under the window. And then to the right there is my favorite shelf in the whole shop.

The YA shelf! (Are you even surprised?) The majority of the books I buy from the shop come from that shelf. I spend an embarrassing amount of time in this room. It’s my happy place. ^_^

SO. If we go through the door you see there, we’ll be back in the hallway.

Opposite end of the hall this time.

Annnd…that’s all our rooms. It’s fun having a room for each genre. All our customers usually have their specific room or section they go to. Sometimes when someone comes in, I like to mentally guess which section they’ll go into. I’ve gotten pretty good at deciphering the romance lovers from the westerners to the mystery fans, etc. Hey, I’m a writer. I read people, I can’t help it!

But sheesh, Christine, do you actually DO things at work besides wander the rooms petting the book spines? YES I DO. Well, okay, I do spend a lot of time petting book spines, it’s true. And I like to roam around admiring all the books. (Because, hello? BOOKS.) But I do have specific duties!



Opening the shop is one of my favorite things. Sometimes when I get there one of my bosses are there, but a lot of times it’s just me. There’s something so satisfying about going in and turning on all the lights and flipping the sign to open.

The way the shop gets books is through a trading system. People bring us books, and with each book they bring, they get a discount on the books they buy. So, basically, you bring one book, and the next book you buy is half price. Bring 10 books and the next 10 books you buy are half price. And so on and so forth. All the books we have were brought in by customers. Some people will bring in 5 or so. Others will bring in boxes of them. Sometimes a person will bring us 100 or more books! It’s kinda crazy, but just part of the job. And, of course, customers don’t have to bring in books to buy books. They’re just cheaper if they do.

So, when a customer comes in, if they’ve brought us books, I count the books and then add them to the customer’s credits, which we keep in a nice little credit file.

I ask for the customer’s name, pull out their card, and add however many books they brought to their credits. Then, I deduct however many books they buy from the credits. Easy peasy. Some people will have like ten credits or so, others have brought in so many books their credits are in the hundreds. We even have a few who have over a thousand. Hey, we bookworms don’t mess around! (Though I honestly can’t imagine giving away books…)

I do the normal customer service type stuff, like help a person find a certain book or author, show any people who’ve never been inside around, the norm. Though, honestly, most of our customers are repeats and have the place as memorized as we do. It’s so fun having so many “regulars”. Makes the place feel homey somehow. And that probably doesn’t even make sense…

ANYWAYS. If people have brought books, we like to wipe them down and keep everything clean. We also don’t take books that are too beat up. Nobody wants to buy a book that has the cover completely torn off or something. But a lot of books that come in have been in storage or something and can be pretty dusty. When that’s the case, we wipe them down with disinfectant wipes. Not gonna lie, I’ve found some pretty nasty looking stuff encrusted on the cover of books.


All cleaned!

As I said earlier, I try to not get in the way of customers while they’re shopping, but once no one is around, I get to do my favorite thing. SHELVING.

First, I like to put the books in stacks by genre. Then I carry them to their designated sections and put them away. BUT, if there’s a boat-load of books to shelve, I pull out my bestie. The handy dandy cart.



I love this thing! I feel so official pushing around my cart full of books. (I have no idea why.)

Again, I keep genres separate since the books go in their separate sections. So like here, I have the cart filled with paperback mysteries/general fictions, and alphabetized by author. And then off to shelving I go!

We keep the rooms alphabetized by author, so it’s easy to find the book you’re looking for. And easy to know where to shelve each one.


Our little alphabet markers.

Since we’re so cramped, we never put duplicates on a shelf. As I’m shelving, I first see if there’s one of the same book already on the shelf.


No, I will not pretend I don’t see her. Because I do see you, duplicate!

If there is a duplicate, we just use a stepladder to stick it on the top of the shelf.


The cart and stepladder. My two buddies.


To the top the duplicate goes.

I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes heights, and I love getting on the top of the stepladder. Even though it’s, ya know, not that tall… It’s still fun being up there and looking down upon all the bookshelves. I NEVER CLAIMED TO BE NORMAL OKAY?


Selfie from atop the stepladder.
No Christine was harmed in the making of this photo.

Dealing with customers and shelving books is the main job. But there are other little odd jobs to do here and there. Such as if a shelf is looking empty, we peruse all those books at the top to see if there are any books that aren’t duplicates anymore to put on the shelf. Sometimes I’ll sweep, vacuum, take out the trash, dust. General housekeeping.

When children’s books come through, we look up their AR levels and put them on the spines for the school kids.

With romances, we put colored stickers on the historical ones so you can easily spot a historical romance from a contemporary one. A lot of people prefer one over the other, so that helps them find what they want.



And I even have to… *gulp* answer the phone.


*cue dramatic music*

Now, anyone who knows me knows I hate the phone. Not only do I hate it, I’M TERRIFIED OF IT. Talking to people face-to-face? No problem! I love it actually! People are awesome. But there’s something about trying to have a conversation through a speaker that makes me want to go hide under my bed for 57 years or so. I’m not wild about drive-throughs at restaurants for the same reason. The phone is definitely my least favorite aspect of the job. BUT. I am getting better at it and don’t have a mini heart attack every time the phone rings now. Progress! So…yay life experiences…?

Overall, the job is a breeze. Some days can be a little busy, but, honestly, it’s usually just a person coming in here and there. My bosses are sometimes there, more often during the beginning of the work day and before closing. But the majority of the time I have the shop to myself. Sometimes hours will pass with no one coming in, and no books to shelve or anything, and I’m free to do whatever I want. (Such as take a billion pictures of the shop for a blog post. *cough, cough*) Often, I’ll pull out my phone and read blog posts or catch up on Instagram or something. Other times, I’ll turn the radio off and just read. Let me tell you, there is nothing cozier than reading in an empty bookshop while it’s raining. I LOVE when it rains while I’m working. ALL THE COZY. Annnd yeah, I will just wander around petting book spines and admiring all the many, many books.

I’ve never experienced the amount of creativity that I do than while I’m at work, too! I think it’s something about being surrounded by and working with hundreds of books. You just soak up the creativity. I always get the greatest urge to WRITE while at work. You know, the one time I can’t really write. Obviously. But I just get so inspired while there. I will often make story notes on my phone because ALL THE IDEAS. Bookshops are magical. They just are!

When noon rolls around, I eat lunch. Sometimes I pack it, or if one of my family members are out and about they’ll bring me something. Then a bit later, if things are quiet, I’ll have my favorite time: COFFEE TIME.


Coffee + Christine = TRUE LOVE

I like to make extra coffee in case a customer wants some. The smell of coffee and books is the greatest fragrance on planet Earth. And drinking coffee in a bookstore? THE. BEST.

Another amazing aspect of the job is getting first look at whatever books come through. If there’s one I want, I can buy it right away. Bwahaha! And, as an employee, I get the discount without having to bring in books which equals A VERY HAPPY CHRISTINE. Though, sadly, we really don’t get a ton of the types of books I like. The main thing that comes in is the general mysteries, romances, and westerns. It’s actually very rare YA books, or even any fantasy stuff, comes through. Most of our customers are older. Really, for the entire year I’ve worked there, I’ve only seen like…5 people my age. Not even kidding. It’s sad. And I sometimes have a hard time, because our customers will ask me what’s good to read or if I have any recommendations and I’m just like, “Er…I’ve never actually read these types of books…” Awkwaaaard. I mean, the majority of what I read is YA Christian fantasy, and some independently published, so obviously I’m not going to find those in a secondhand bookstore. BUT. The good news is, I do have a job now, which means I sometimes have money, which means I can order books I want waaay more often than back in my jobless days. Because, like, what else would I use my money for? Something practical like food? Psssh.

But I love all our customers. We get some great characters in there, and lots of nice people to talk to, even if I’m useless recommending books to them.

By the end of the work day, I just turn out the lights and lock up. A lot of times my bosses are there so we close up together. Nothing special has to be done before closing. It’s all so casual.



Our little customer recommended books shelf in the hall.


Flowers by the window in the nonfiction room.


Putting alphabet stickers to read out “biography” here was one of my very first jobs to do, actually!


If we end up with any beat up books, we’ll put them in this little rack and sale them for 50 cents.


Can I offer you a mint?


You gotta love the kiddie chairs.


Kiddie books. <3


My bosses’ daughter painted this years ago. Isn’t it cute?? My bosses are super artistic themselves. They’re such a talented family.


You can’t have a bookshop without a couple of bookworms. Though bookdragons would be better.


This bookshop is really just my second home. Honestly, it’s kind of a de-stresser. As I said, it can be really quiet, and I have nothing to do but sit around and read or wander the shop or just sit and drink coffee. But I also love the work itself. Handling and organizing books is my favorite thing EVER. And I get paid to do it. I can’t thank God enough for giving me this job. It’s one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever received.

I only work part-time—every Friday and every other Saturday. Though since I’m the only employee I will occasionally work an extra day if my bosses need to go out of town or have something going on, but usually it’s just the one to two days a week. Which is perfect. With health problems, I couldn’t hold down a full-time job, especially if it was demanding and stressful. And, being truthful here, I wouldn’t want it. What I really want is to be a writer. Which takes TIME. If I was working all day every day, I couldn’t pour myself into my writing and building a platform and pursuing publishing like I can now. I so, so, sooo admire those who can work or go to school or take care of kids or all of the above AND write. I don’t know how you people do it! But for me, I’m just not good at taking on too much (not to mention don’t really have the health for it). With this job, I work during the weekend, and then have all the rest of the week to pursue my writing career dreams. It gives me something to do and a little money (for buying books with, of course *cough, cough*), without invading my entire life. There couldn’t be a more perfect job for me. God is SO good!

But good gracious. I’ve probably broken everyone’s computers with picture-overload here, and bored you guys to death with waaay too many details. This may be my longest, most photo-infested post ever. o.o If you’re still around, then I applaud you! Sorry, I just really love this little bookshop. I had so much fun sharing it with all you dear book-loving buddies of mine, and I wanted it to feel like you were at work with me for a day. It’s also special having my first job logged like this. So thank you for putting up with me and all my pics and rambling!

Here, have a book and a mint on your way out. *winks*


think of my beloved little bookshop? (Have I burned your eyes
out with my way too many pics? *cough*)
Have you ever worked at a
bookstore? And, because I NEED to know, am I alone
in this hatred of phones??? Come, let us discuss
the love of books and trials of adulting!

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