Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Weekend Rundown


According to my best friend, that means that 1/4 of my life is already over. Yeah, she's a little morbid. And she's also three months older than me, so she'll die first. Just kidding, I never want to think about my best friend and death in the same sentence. 

Anywhoooooo, I had a nice and lovely time at Olive Garden with my mom, brothers, Aunt Jo, and cousin Max. Max and I are three days and one year apart. Haha, his birthday is on the 6th, so we've celebrated together quite a few years when we were little. My aunt showed me at timeline of those birthdays together on Facebook. Cutest thing ever. It was the best time. This was also the first time my older brother bought me a card just by himself, a sister card. And I wanted to cry, because it was so unlike him, and I really love my brothers a lot. They are my best friends, tormentors, shoulders to lean and cry on, and I couldn't imagine my life without them. 

Then my mom, little brother, and I went to Schuler's Books & Movies. It's like my favorite bookstore ever. Because it's over an hour away, it's really rare when I get to go, so I enjoy it so much more. It was really hard to choose between so many books that I've been wanting. But I did it. 

I bought The Archived, Let the Sky Fall, and Fracture (because that one was used and cheaper). And normally I don't like hardcovers, but the first two are only in hardcover, and I really wanted to read them.

I can't wait to dive into these! :) :) 

Today also concludes my last day of Spring Break. I'm very torn about going back to the dorms. I wanna see my friends and hang out with them, but I also want a little bit more of a break from my classes. This semester is pretty hard. Well, it's not that it's hard, it's just a lot of homework and essays to write. I have two essays to finish before Monday's classes start up again, a book to read (ha. ha. Having books that I actually want to read is not helping me finish Invisible Man) and I have a test on Tuesday. Yeah.. I'm so not looking forward to school on Monday. 

Other than my birthday, this spring break has been pretty boring. Buuuut, I've had a lot of time to keep up with my in-my-possession bookshelf on Goodreads. I have so many books on there, but I haven't had a chance to read them. My Goodreads challenge is currently 13 of 200. It's pretty sad, considering it's been almost three months. I should have way more than that done. But like I said, this semester has sucked and I've had hardly any free time. And when I did, I hung out with my new friends. Honestly, hanging out with them has been better than reading. It's a nice change. Because when I'm home, all I do is sit in my room and read and play on my laptop. I'm branching out more, and I like it. 

Soooo, to wrap it up, I'm just going to say: I don't care if this gets read or not. Just the act of writing, to me, is the best kind of therapy. I just love to write. 

Now I'm going to enjoy the rest of the day and think about what I need to pack up for the dorms. Maybe I'll even start one of those new books I just bought. :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chasing Dreams and the Legacy of Courage

My mom is my hero. She's the greatest and strongest woman I know, and I'm so blessed to have her in my life. Growing up, that wasn't how I looked at it. We fought a lot (and still do!), and have said some mean words to each other over the years. But I wouldn't be where I am today, and I wouldn't be me without her influence and constant love and support she's shown me throughout my life. At most times, I didn't deserve her kindness and forgiveness. 

My mom is an amazing writer, who has never really caught a break. Quite a few years ago, she started to self-publish, because publishers kept turning her down and there were people who really wanted to read her stories. At first, they were just binder books, some in large print and others in really small print. She self-published the first six books in the series, Legacy of Courage, and had many followers and fans. Over the years, people kept sharing them with their relatives, friends, and neighbors until she had people asking when the next one was going to be out. 

On August 21, 2010, tragedy struck. We lost our rock, our hero. I lost the greatest man of my life. My brothers lost their father. My mom lost her husband and best friend. He was her biggest fan and supporter, and he never let her give up on her publishing dreams. He was with her every step of the way. If she had stopped writing and broken down, no one would have blamed her. 

I've come to realize over the last few years that my mom is strong, more strong than I've ever given her credit for. Instead of losing her spark, she kept writing and thought of new ways to self-publish. My uncle, her brother, found a small publishing company that's run by a church. Instead of binder notebooks, she now has the first three books in the series published as real books. They are each over 200 pages. And the covers are simply gorgeous. 

I'm going to do everything I can to help her get her books out there. Now, maybe I should tell you a little bit about them. They are historical inspirational love stories. We follow the main character, Cara Bancroft, as she goes on a journey of self-discovery, learning what matters most in life, and finding love in the midst of it all. The series is set in the 1850s, and the historical elements are spot on. In the first book, Cara is a young widow with three children and one on the way. Then comes Adam, who takes the job at her farm so he can earn money to go to the university. This series takes you on their journey: a journey of love, trust, hope, courage, and faith. 

Don't let the fact that Legacy of Courage is a Christian series leave you uninterested in buying them. I know that in this day and age, people want the secular books. They want the sailor's mouth, dirty dialogue, filthy humor, and steamy sex scenes. I enjoy those quite a bit myself. But these books are truly wonderful (and I'm not just saying that because I'm the author's daughter). They will have you laughing, smiling, crying, and becoming attached to Cara as she learns who she is as a person and finds her place in the world. After you read one, it'll leave you itching for the next. 

Right now, the books shown here are in paperback. My mom, Carol Underhill, is currently working on selling them as ebooks, possibly Kindle books. She is also working hard at trying to publish book #4, Courage to Forgive. It should be out in paperback in the next few months (but don't take my word for that, as I have no idea if that'll happen). Other self-publishing authors will know how long it takes and how much hard work it is to get their books out there. 

Seeing my mom self-publishing to follow her dreams makes me smile. She's a truly gifted writer, and I hope someday a big publishing company will take notice of her work. It's hard to publish Christian books in the market right now, but I know my mom will not give up. 

I'm so proud of her. 

♥ ♥ ♥

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Sky Full of Nevers: Review

I recently bought Under the Never Sky for my Kindle and I just finished reading it. AND BOY, DID I LOVE IT!

Let me just say three things first:

1. Thank God there wasn't a love triangle--It's so hard to find a YA novel that doesn't have a love triangle. Some authors can pull them off, and others just make me want to tear the book to shreds and kill the main character because she (because it's always a woman) can't make up her damn mind.
2. The book is written in third person. Also another annoying occurrence for me, where so many YA novels are in the first person, so you only get one person's perspective. I love having that other character's perspective.
3. The writing was at a level of maturity that I've been missing in other YA novels. In most YA novels, the conversations and thoughts don't always seem real and flowing. And sometimes the writing is just really sophomoric and high school-ish. It's a little grating.

If you're like me, the fact that Under the Never Sky has those three things already makes it one of the better young adult novels. But there's so much more to this book, and so much more that I love about it, that makes it one of my favorite books ever.

Let's start with Aria. She's a strong female lead and able to hold her own (girl power, yeah!). Since she's been living in the Reverie her whole life, there's a lot that she doesn't understand about the world outside of it. She's got these preconceived notions and is utterly naive about what is going on. I was waiting for that to get on my nerves, but it never did. Even in a world that scared her and confused her, she kept up her nerve and didn't back down. THAT is something to revel in nowadays. We need more heroines like Aria. And I love how she challenged Perry and didn't just let him call the shots. 

Now onto Peregrine. Oh, Perry. How I love that bad boy. He really had me swooning with his love for his nephew, Talon, and his constant battle to be a better person and help the people of the Tides. He has many layers and depths, and past secrets that I just want to unravel. He's that typical tortured hero, and even though that stereotype has been used so many times, it's not the same old type of story with Perry. He's got room to grow. Oh, and did I mention he can shoot a bow and hit his targets dead-on with arrows? That Robin Hood persona is dangerously sexy. :)

The love that formed between them was sweet and beautiful to see unfolding. It didn't happen quickly, or instantly; it was slow and real and utterly charming. The book had just right amount of romance, mixed in with suspense and fantastical elements. The secondary characters, like Roar, Cinder, and Marron, were great additions to the story, and I want to learn more about them. I can't wait to read Through the Ever Night!