Big, Exciting News!

Hello, everyone!

I have a big announcement to make that I am super excited about!

I’m publishing a book this year.

My dream, for years, has been to be a published author. Writing has been one of my favorite pastimes. My journey has been different from what I expected, but after a lot of prayer and research, I’ve decided to do something really scary and exciting and crazy.

Later this year, I’ll be self-publishing my dystopian novel, Reintegration. 

Right now, I’m almost finished with edits and the manuscript will just need a final look-over by my proofreaders (AKA my awesome mom and dad). Then it’s on to formatting and cover design!

I’m really excited, and also really nervous, that people are finally going to be reading what I’ve written.

Here’s the official summary:

A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both…

As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?

Be on the lookout for future posts with updates!!!!! 😀

P.S.–If you’re on GoodReads, would you consider adding Reintegration to your to-read list? You can find the page here.

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My Thoughts on the Insta-Love Epidemic

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while.

Entertainment impacts our thinking way more than we think it does (I wrote a whole post about it here). YA novels like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Twilight (and countless others) have become big parts of our culture. For teens in particular, books like these have greatly shaped their thinking.

One of these areas is with what a romantic relationship should look like.

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3 Stories That Break the Mold

On my Goodreads account, I have a shelf (a “shelf” is a category you can organize books in) dedicated solely to books/series that I thought had a certain level of uniqueness to them. If you’ve read a lot like I have, you know that after a while most stories and characters start to feel, well…generic. Plot twists become predictable. All the protagonists of books in the same genre look and talk and act identical to each other. It’s rare to find a book that makes me go “Wow, I haven’t seen anything like that before”. But sometimes I do.

If you’re looking for something to read that stands out, here’s three books/series you can try:

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Who Am I?

Our identity is a big thing.

We put a lot of emphasis into who we are. We wear our identity proudly. We want everyone to know our opinions, our beliefs, our aspirations. There are a lot of things that we think define us. Things that we think make up the essence of who we are. Sometimes I wonder about this. What do people think when they talk to me?

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Book Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Title: The Forgetting

Author: Sharon Cameron

Genre: Dystopian/YA

My Rating: 4 of 5


Thanks to Gabrielle for recommending this book to me! 🙂

I’d been dying for a good dystopian book to read when I finally got my hands on a copy of The Forgetting. It didn’t take more than reading a few chapters to decide I was going to like it. The writing felt intentional and thoughtful, not shallow like in a lot of YA books. The premise was unique and intriguing. The protagonist was likable. I didn’t want to put The Forgetting down.

In The Forgetting, Nadia lives in Canaan, a city where every twelve years everyone forgets…everything. Who they are, who their family members are, what they do for a living–every person in Canaan forgets everything. Except Nadia. At the last Forgetting, she didn’t lose any of her memories. But like everyone else in Canaan, she writes the details of her life down in a book. Needless to say, things aren’t quite right in Canaan, and Nadia is determined to find out what.

One of my favorite parts of The Forgetting is how unique the premise was. I’ve read my share of dystopian novels, and so it’s rare that one stands out from the rest. But The Forgetting certainly did. There was something very fresh about it, not to mention there were some pretty shocking plot twists that took the story in a direction I didn’t expect.

I liked Nadia as the protagonist. She was also a little different from most YA heroines. She wasn’t the overly-tough warrior girl with an attitude problem; she was more of a clever thinker than a fighter. I appreciated how she looked after her family members, even when they didn’t always treat her right. Family was a big theme that I enjoyed.

My biggest complaint with The Forgetting is that I was a little passive about the romance (no love triangle though, thank goodness!). I enjoy a good love story, but for some reason the one in this book just didn’t work for me. Not to mention some of the kissing scenes got a little more intense than I usually prefer. I’ve definitely read worse, but I still wish it had been toned down just a little bit. I also wish the author hadn’t made one of the minor guy characters have a crush on one of the other guy characters. It wasn’t necessary at all and I  wish that part had been left out.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot! Some of the content could have been left out, but I still thought The Forgetting was an exciting, well-written, on-the-edge-of-your-seat read. I look forward to the sequel that comes out later this year, I think.

Have you read The Forgetting? What did you think?

 

 

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Why We Need Community

Final exams are coming up this week.

It’s pretty crazy to think about—I’m one week away from finishing my first year of Bible college. It seems like just yesterday my parents dropped me off at my dorm, and I was terrified about starting such a new, scary, and exciting chapter of my life. Now I’m making plans for the summer.

I’ve grown a lot—I had my very first job, my very first job, and a whole lot of other “firsts” these past two semesters. I’ve learned a lot, too, about doctrine and theology and apologetics and literature and all kinds of other things. But outside of my studies, I’ve learned a lot of things about life and relationships and my goals. If there’s one thing I’ve learned more than anything else, it’s the importance of relationships.

We were created to have community with each other.

I’m writing this while sitting in a coffee shop with two of my friends (I should technically be memorizing verses for a final *cough cough*). It dawned on me how close I’ve become with several of the girls who go to college with me. Summer is coming up, and I’m going to miss a lot of things.

The movie nights.

The coffee dates.

The sudden decisions to go get lunch off-campus and chat for hours.

The distraction-filled “study times” in the library.

The Bible studies.

This year has taught me just how important community is. Getting through the last year, which was filled with a lot of good things but also some homesickness and heartbreak and frustration and exhaustion, would have been really tough without the friends who were there to encourage me and pray for me.

We were created to have relationships. After God created Adam, He then created Eve because He realized that Adam shouldn’t be alone. God wants us to have deep friendships with people we can laugh with and cry to and share our hopes and dreams with. We shouldn’t go through life alone, trying to figure everything out without help from the people around us. We need people who are going to stand by us no matter what, and I definitely found that at Bible college.

It’s truly a special thing.

Here’s to the friends who have made my life pretty awesome and to the adventures we will have in the future. 🙂

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Book Review + Giveaway: Flummoxed by Kristin Spencer

Hey, everyone!

I’m super excited that today I’ll be posting a new book review…and doing a giveaway! 😀 Keep reading to the end of the post for giveaway details.

(For some reason, I can’t get the picture to load…I’ll try to add one later!)

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of Flummoxed, the sequel to her middle grade contemporary novel, Newfangled (you can read my review of the first book here). This was a really fun sequel! Flummoxed continues where Newfangled left off, but with new challenges in Olive’s life. A family friend is getting married, Olive awaits to hear back on a writing contest she entered, and Olive has some boy drama of her own.

As I mentioned in my review of the first book, Olive is a likable and relatable character. She may not always go about it the right away, but ultimately she wants to help others as best she can. I loved reading about a character who wants to raise awareness of certain issues through writing. 😉 She has a good support group of friends and family who help her out along the way.

Flummoxed deals with controversial issues, like refugees and racism, as well as some other hot topics among Christians like if it’s okay to date a non-believer and the dangers of social media. I may not have agreed with the conclusion the characters reached on every single one of those issues, but the author’s heart was easy to see. I appreciated reading a book (like Spin by Darcie Gudger) that wasn’t afraid to address difficult topics. All are addressed in a manner appropriate for younger teens, though!

Overall, this series has been a lot of fun and definitely points the reader to Christ. I think late middle-school and early high-school age readers are definitely the target audience, but I still enjoyed it. I look forward to seeing what direction the series takes in the third book!

Now, I’m super excited to announce that I’m giving away one paperback copy of Flummoxed. To enter, just sign up for my blog e-mail updates (which can be found on the right-hand side of the screen, beneath the “Welcome to My Blog” box). All you need to do is enter your e-mail address and follow the instructions in the following confirmation e-mail. Then you’ll be entered for a chance to win the book! 🙂

The contest will be open from April 6 through April 20. The winner will be notified via e-mail after that.

Thanks for reading!


Do you think authors should address controversial topics in their books? Is there a book that dealt with these kinds of issues that you particularly enjoyed? 

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Entertainment and the Value of Human Life

I remember taking an American Literature class my senior year of high school. I really enjoyed it, and not just because I love reading and I love history (especially American history). I found it fascinating, because it showed me how entertainment not only reflects culture, but also influences it. When I looked at the various time periods, I saw how the books, poems, and short stories written expressed how people felt at that time. I witnessed how society viewed God, morality, science, technology, government, etc.

We oftentimes dismiss entertainment as just that. Entertainment. Movies, books, and songs make us laugh, stir our emotions, and provide a brief respite from the reality of life.

But there is something deeper to entertainment that we often fail to realize.

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Book Review: In the Shadow of Denali by Kimberley Woodhouse and Tracie Peterson

Hi, everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! I had some technical difficulties with my blog, but my hosting company fixed it! I’m very excited to post my review of In the Shadow of Denali by Kimberley Woodhouse and and Tracie Peterson.

(Fun fact: I interviewed Mrs. Woodhouse’s daughter in this post)


Their Future Depends on Unlocking the Secrets the Mountain Holds From the Past

Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel near the foot of Mount McKinley–Denali as it’s still called by the natives. John is the wilderness and exploration guide for the wealthy tourists while Cassidy works in the kitchen as Cook’s assistant. The entire staff buzzes with excitement during the busy days preparing for the President’s imminent visit. His historic trip to dedicate the new national park on his way to driving in the golden spike to officially complete the Alaska Railroad will be the beginning of a new era for all of them and place The Curry at the heart of Alaska.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice to the seasoned Alaska mountain guide, with hopes of discovering the truth about his father’s death on the mountain years earlier. His father’s business partner blames the guide for Henry Brennan’s untimely death, but Allan cannot be at peace until he knows for sure. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

*Book cover image and synopsis taken from the publisher’s website*


There were so many things about this book I really, really enjoyed.

  • Cassidy was a very likable character. In a time where most fictional heroines are cynical and vengeful, Cassidy’s sweet innocence was a refreshing breath of fresh air.
  • Family relationships played a big role which was awesome! We don’t see very many family relationships–especially child-father relationships–in books.
  • Cassidy works in a kitchen and reading about all the desserts she baked definitely made me hungry.
  • I haven’t read a lot of books that take place in Alaska, so that was cool to read.
  • I could tell the authors put a lot of research into make sure the historical setting was accurately portrayed. I love history, particularly American history, so there were some intriguing facts in this book.
  • The Christian message didn’t feel like an after-thought but a seamless part of the story.

There were a few complaints I had, though:

  • The romance developed way too quickly. At just a few chapters in, the main characters were already thinking about how much they liked each other. They had just met, and I didn’t find this totally realistic. Their relationship was sweet, but it developed a little too fast for me.
  • The mystery aspect felt a little…lackluster. I don’t think it was intended to be very suspenseful, but it fell flat to me.

Despite those two complaints, I still really enjoyed In the Shadow of Denali. I liked the characters and themes a lot. While I may not read a lot of historical romance (you know, space travel, corrupt future governments, and castles are more my thing), I thought this was a really sweet book!

*Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy!*


Have you read In the Shadow of Denali? What did you think?

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Interview with Author Shantelle Hannu

Hi, everyone!

I am very excited that today I’ll be posting an author interview! Thank you very much to homeschooled author, Shantelle Hannu! She is the author of A Dream Not Imagined, a sweet Cinderella retelling. Here is a little bit about her:

Shantelle Mary Hannu was born in the mountainous west, spending her golden childhood years there. Since then, she has relocated time and again with her parents and seven siblings, making cherished memories in both the South and Central United States.
A Christian homeschool graduate, Shantelle has a passion for writing and all things books. From a young age she’s been penning tales with a hope of sharing with the world adventurous and soul-stirring stories that bring glory to God.

A Dream Not Imagined, a fairytale novella, is her first published book. She’s currently preparing a full-length fantasy novel for publication as well, and working on its sequel.

One of Shantelle’s joys is connecting with fellow writers and readers! 🙂

You can check out her blogs here and here!

Now for the interview….


What are some of your favorite things to do (other than reading and writing, of course!)?

I enjoy blogging, hanging out with friends, conversation, and watching a good movie now and then! 🙂

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Psalm 91, Psalm 139, and Psalm 103 are a few of my favorite passages.

Who is one Christian author you’d like to meet someday?

Just one?? I’d love to meet Jaye L. Knight, Tricia Mingerink, Nadine Brandes, and Laura Frantz! 😀

A couple of those authors are on my would-love-to-meet list, too! 🙂

What inspired you to write A Dream Not Imagined?

I was inspired to write a Cinderella retelling because there was a contest going on for that. And I just love fairy tales and adding a meaningful message!

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what bands/artists are your favorites?

It depends. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Lauren Daigle is one of my favorite artists right now. I also enjoy violin/cello music.

Can you tell us anything about your current project?

Yes! 🙂 I recently finished re-writing a fantasy story called Silver Rose. It’s a bit of a Christian allegory, and full of adventure, struggles, and a little bit of romance. I’ve sent it to some beta-readers, and am hoping to start the publication process after going over their work!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

To have a “power hour”! When I’m on a writing deadline (of sorts), it really helps to set aside an hour each day to write. A full hour – no distractions, no checking facebook, etc. Just write. It helped me so much with re-writing Silver Rose!
Thanks for having me on your blog, Ashley! I’m honored! 🙂

Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! I can’t wait to read Silver Rose when it comes out!

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