31 Day Blog Challenge

31 day blog challenge

Inspired by The Next Thing on My List, I said I would post my own bucket list (that I started in college, well before I read this book). And through some perusing to add spice to TNTOML post, I discovered the blog While on This Side. I decided January was the perfect time to share this with all of you, as the new year is traditional for New Year’s resolutions. (Here is BLT’s first #31bdc post.)

The first thing I stumbled across was the blog post in which she shared her “chocolate bucket list.” That’s what I said I’d do, but she put a different spin on the traditional bucket list: the list is like a box of chocolates (thanks Forest!). This is what she says…and I TOTALLY agree!

The great thing about this is not knowing how it will turn out. I don’t know if I will eat all of the chocolates, per say (taste-buds can change overtime)… And I may end up with more than one box of chocolates or perhaps even, chocolates  from someone else’s box – because there’s something in there they don’t like or because they are such a generous person and would like to give me some chocolate… This bucket list will change (by having things added/removed) over time as it adjusts to my life and what’s going on and I’m fine with that. In the end, I want a bucket full of wrappers & some chocolate left for others.

But then I noticed something: The 31 Day Blog Challenge. And unlike some things I’ve seen people do (such as post “selfie” photos each day or something about their day on Facebook), this one had some meat to it – it wasn’t a challenge just for the sake of being silly, starting a trend, or following the masses. It has some meaning behind it, and there are some important tasks. As they said back in the day, it’s well-rounded and wholesome.

So, I’ve decided to do the 31 Day Blog Challenge.

For each day in January I am going to post different content for the 31 days, in addition to all of the normal postings. Each day is going to have a  different theme, topic, or question.

How does this involve you?

Well, I encourage you to join in on the 31 Day Blog Challenge!

If You Blog

Please share your blog challenge for the specific day! Post the link in the comments section.
Use BLT’s WOTWS Button to put at the bottom of your challenge posts, or on the side bar of your blog. Go grab her button!

If You Have Twitter

Along with your response to that days topic, use the hashtag: #31dbc
Tweet about my posts so that others can see it!

If You Have Facebook

You, too, can post your response to that day’s topic, and at the end of your status update use the hashtag #31dbc, or tag my and BLT’s Facebook pages: Girl of 1000 Wonders and While On This Side. Remember to make those specific updates public so we can see them!

You can also post directly on our Facebook walls, found here:  >> Girl of 1000 Wonders …&…While On This Side <<

Additionally

Leave a comment! Whether you want to answer the topic for the day, make a comment about my post, or ask a question – go ahead! I want to hear what YOU have to say! 🙂

Below is the daily layout for January’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Save the photo, share it on your blog, use it in your posts, whatever you like. Each day blog about the topic designated for that day. Can’t wait to see what you blog about! 🙂

Look for my first post of the challenge tomorrow!

Wanna know what’s on the challenge?

31 days blog challenge! 

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2013 Faves

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are fast approaching and many the top of the 2013 year are being publicized everywhere.

So, here are my favorite books of 2013. Enjoy!

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The Keeper of Dawn

The Keeper of Dawn (J.B. Hickman)

I absolutely adored this book. Perhaps adored isn’t the right word. I connected with this book on a level I have only done with very few books, and that is a mark of a very well-crafted novel.

This book delves into the lives of two very different students, whose paths cross and become teenage friends. This book is rebellion at its finest. It rips away the prestige of privileged boys and exposes what lies behind them, both in the personal lives of the boys and their school lives. The Raker Island lighthouse is both a symbol and a motif in this novel about four young boys sent to boarding school, the adventures they have, and the revelations of the past.

Read my review here. 

The Recipe Box (Sandra Lee)

This book delves into the complexities of a woman’s mind, and the relationships with her mother and daughter. Family secrets. Pride. Fear. Self-realization. And it all starts with a small, wooden recipe box that’s traveled the Atlantic from Sweden to the American midwest…and a birth certificate found tucked in the back of it. This small, family heirloom creates doubt, havoc and leads to nearly a lifetime of running: running from everything. Until a best friend’s sad end leads to some unique wishes, statements and sentiments sent in a variety of ways.

The Recipe Box
The Recipe Box

Like The Keeper of Dawn, I connected with this book. But my connection was much, much stronger with Lee’s novel. Although the storyline is different, the ideas presented above about this book (secrets, pride, fear, realization, doubt, running, wishes, sentiments) are a parallel of my life and my relationship with my mother, my grandmother, and my mother with her mother. This book took a hold on my heart and brought back a decade of bad memories of my relationship with my mother, our selfish and prideful ways, and the memories of my grandmother’s actions toward me at the time and how she acted differently toward my mother.

My one regret in life was not going to the hospital to be with my mother when my sister died. It sounds selfish, but I was 11 at the time, I knew virtually nothing about the potential dangers of pregnancy, but I knew something was not right with my mother’s pregnancy. I didn’t go because I blamed her for my sister’s death. This led to over a decade of anger, pride, pain and hurt for both of us. We have since come to a general understanding of one another, and each other’s pain, over this, but we have never discussed my sister and what actually happened. In this way, I (still) feel much like the character Grace dealing with her mother about her past.

During this same time as my mother’s last pregnancy, my grandmother was becoming very sick, and died exactly seven months after my sister. I couldn’t understand the enigma of my mother’s relationship with my grandmother, for she was always a mama’s girl, a pleaser. (Yes, I inherited some of this.) I could not understand why my mother seemed to turn into a villain overnight, there was coldness and tension between my mother and grandmother. If truth be told, I think my mother avoided my grandmother as much as possible during this time. In this sense, I felt a little like Emma must have felt about the relationship between her mother, Grace, and her grandmother because I could only see the good from my grandmother, and the bad from my mother. Recently, I found out my mother’s one regret: to apologize to my grandmother (and all of the other implications that apology holds).

A very good journey. Both Emma, her mother Grace, and her grandmother experience growth in this novel that is very uncharacteristic of novels today.

Read my review here. 

Sacred Promises (Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham)

This is a recent read for me and the first in the Sacred Promises series. Hines and Bigham have weaved a very complex tale where the days of olde meet modern day in terms of the writing: royalty meets paranormal.

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Sacred Promises

In Abbey’s world a queen is born every 50 years, and she reigns with ten chosen warriors and an appointed council of advisors who usually hail from one of the ruling families. But lately the ruling families have gotten a little too comfy cozy. In the last 200 years no queen has surfaced. The ruling families have made sure that no queen can take hold of their power, and now there is contention amongst even them! One by one they’re going down.

But Abbey knows they made a vital mistake, just as Voldemort and his minions did in the Harry Potter series. The ruling families killed Abbey’s parents, but she was rescued by a South American tribal princess, Nevara, who secrets her away in the most obvious of unobvious places: an orphanage. Abbey must keep her mark – the mark of the queen – hidden from others. It is a dead giveaway, and she has not intention of dying young.

Nevara trains and schools Abbey until she is 18, when she is sent to one of the five schools of her people. She is sent to the Maramec Conservatory where she will study with other Elementals, Mystics, Watchers and Warriors. Watchers and Warriors are housed together and known as the Knights of Noir, protectors of the people, and kept separate from Elementals, who have a range of abilities with one of the four elements, and of course the very rare Mystics, gifted with sight and healing.

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Warrior’s Oath

But soon Abbey finds herself in the midst of a love triangle…that turns deadly. Even though she is the rightful queen, there is one way for her to lose that honor, and things come dangerously close to that outcome. As Abbey finds herself surrounded by a posse of protectors, she has the makings of her warriors and advisors by her side…but is she strong enough to let them in to know the real Abbey?

This novel was much more than I expected, and I was amazed at the range of change and growth in the main characters. Abbey struggles with many decisions throughout the novel, and the more problems that develop, the harder it is for her. Through the narration, readers are privy to the change in Abbey that reflect that she will be a kind, just, but strong queen.

A very good read with a strong female character. Read my review here.

The second book in the Sacred Promises series, Warrior’s Oath, is available. You can read my review of it hereThe Divine Order will be available in the spring.

Kindle Must-Know Resources

Please pass this on! I stole this from Zombie Bible on Facebook.

If you received a Kindle for Christmas, here are some must-know-about resources for you:

Kindle Daily Deals – Get this newsletter from Amazon in your inbox each morning, with a heads-up on classics and popular fiction that have a 24-hour price drop. For example, on Christmas Day you can get THE KITE RUNNER for $1.99. Often, there are separate dail deals for mainstream fiction, romance, scifi & fantasy, children’s or young adult.

Sign up here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=amb_link_375224922_1?ie=UTF8&docId=1000677541&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=left-1&pf_rd_r=136Z7TZVCT3RQSBWN706&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1705442662&pf_rd_i=15460601

Kindle MatchBook – If you bought a print book from Amazon some time in the past and you want an ebook copy, Amazon will give you the ebook for $2.99, $1.99, 99 cents, or free – depending on the book.

Check your books here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/ep-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=amb_link_375224922_4

Kindle Owners Lending Library – Once a month, you can borrow a book for free. No deadlines for returning it. *must have Amazon Prime*

350,000 books currently in the library:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?docId=1000739811

Kindle Singles – These are short stories and short essays, across all genres, by writers ranging from Stephen King to that new person you never heard of. They are hand-selected by a team at Amazon.com, and three are featured each week. Price ranges $0.99-$2.99.

It’s an eclectic and intelligent collection that is exclusive to kindle, very worth browsing:

http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=amb_link_375224922_12?ie=UTF8&node=2486013011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=left-1&pf_rd_r=136Z7TZVCT3RQSBWN706&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1705442662&pf_rd_i=154606011

Bookbub – Sign up for the Bookbub newsletter, an independent free newsletter that sends you a daily update on 5-7 deals (ranging from free to $2.99), across genres.

Sign up here:

http://www.bookbub.com/home/

Kindle’s Most Popular FREE Titles

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-eBooks/zgbs/digital-text/154606011/ref=zg_bs_fvp_p_f_154606011?_encoding=UTF8&tf=1

Kindle’s Classics FREE Titles 

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Fiction-Classics/zgbs/digital-text/157050011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_3_157028011?_encoding=UTF8&tf=1

Book Review: Warrior’s Oath

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Warrior’s Oath

Title: Warrior’s Oath
Author: Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: October 2013
Length:  264 pages
Series?: Sacred Promises #2
Genre: YA, supernatural, romance
Format: e-book
Source: Hines & Bigham
Challenge: n/a

Synopsis: 

With war raging between the last two ruling families, the Skye’s and the Fino’s, Abbey will be forced to step up and announce herself as the rightful queen to the world of Elementals sooner than expected. At which time, her chosen advisors will also be declared. Including the person whose oath she unknowingly accepted to stand by her side.

Beginning her journey by traveling to Iceland to meet Garik’s family, and ask their blessing to put him through the trials to be her First, brings forth an entire new world. She dives deeper into the world of a warrior and what it means to have a family.

After a vision of destruction Abbey must make a decision to save a school or let it fall to Fino’s army. Saving it will mark her identity, but letting it fall would mean the loss of many innocents. Either way, her life will never be the same after her decision.

Review

A rift had been forming between the last two ruling families, the Skye’ s and the Fino’s. Their desires for power were now strong enough that there was only room for one. 

Nathan has gone and done it now. He’s used the powers of his Chosen Mate bond and cornered Abbey into admitting some very serious feelings. Little did Abbey know that Kaleb had followed in her wake and overheard this whole conversation.

Kaleb has been missing for two months. Not one single word from him. Abbey cannot shimmer to him any more. Nevara is not being very helpful either. The bond with Nathan is wearing on her every day. It’s getting harder and harder to resist him, and Kaleb is showing no signs of manning up and standing by her side.

I was not a bystander. I would not stand there and do nothing while watching innocence fall. 

While Abbey’s personal life is falling apart, so is their world. Fino has disbanded the Knights of Noir Council, and is enlisting and drafting Warriors as his own soldiers. He’s even gone so far as to draft Warriors from one of the other sister schools of Maramec.

I knew I could not take the world by myself. 

Just as in Sacred Promises, Abbey must make some very tough decisions, but this time she must make them almost instantaneously. There is no time to wait, and no time to lose. She must gather her chosen warriors and advisors, and fully mark them as her own.

What had this day become? Was this what my future held, a life full of fighting and death where even the lines between family loyalties became blurred? 

Kaleb finally comes around after a very blunt conversation that Abbey has with Nevara, which leads to her extending the oath to him. Unfortunately for them both, it’s a drunken night filled with Elemental punch, and neither can remember what happened…but Nathan has a pretty good idea. He no longer shares the bond with Abbey, and it isn’t hard to deduce why.

Abbey rallies her Divine Order around her, and those who will stand by her, to protect the sister school at Machu Piccu against Fino and his red soldiers. But then he comes to attack her very own school – and there’s nowhere for them to be protectively hidden from his wrath. Indeed, there are some traitors in the midsts.

This book eventually lands Abbey, Kaleb and Nevara back in her tribe and a lot of her history and marriage are explained. Will the animosity of years gone by, bad blood, and scorned love prevail in order to save Kaleb?

Sometimes no matter how much you think you know someone, you honestly have no iota of a clue. 

Traitors do run rampant in this novel, and I totally didn’t see the ending coming. Garik’s sister, Rowan, has been taken by a traitor who was once near and dear to Abbey. I’m sure this is where the next book, The Divine Order, will open. It will be available sometime in the spring.

Despite the wonderful spin put on this book, I do feel like this book was more rushed than the first in the series, that some of the finesse from Sacred Promises was lost along the way just to get the storyline across, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

Find my review of Sacred Promises here.

About the Authors

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Jennifer Hines

Jennifer Hines is a wife, mother, and indie author. She loves reading, writing, and taking long road trips.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Scanguards Vampires by Tina Folsom, and the Crossfire Novels by Sylvia Day.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

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Mindy Bigham

Mindy Bigham is a wife, a mother, and an indie author. She loves reading, writing, and vacationing anywhere there’s a beach.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include: The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Bloodlines Series by Michelle Mead, and The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

Find the authors: Website| Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads – Hines | | Goodreads – Bigham

Author Interview: Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham

Consider this an early Christmas present, from me to you!

The two lovely ladies, Jennifer Hines and Mary Bigham, sat down for a nice chat about the series, Sacred Promises, they co-wrote. Read my review of Sacred Promises here.

Tell your readers something unique about yourself.

Jennifer: This can be a difficult question to answer about one’s self so we decided to answer for each other. Mindy says it’s my imagination. That it can sometimes go way out there. Personally, I think it’s the crazy things I do with my kids, like teaching them to write legibly with their feet.

Mindy: Jen says it’s my non-judgmental and limitless friendship, and that those are very rare qualities that make me unique.

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Mindy (L) and Jennifer (R)

Jennifer: This one I blame completely on Mindy. She has been my inspiration and the one responsible for the literary monster I’ve become. I loved reading when I younger, but once I had kids the only books I seemed to have time to read were more along the lines of Dr. Seuss. Then after relentlessly trying to get me to read a series about sparkly vampires my excuses of not having any free time finally fell away, and I gave in. Reading four books in five days was only the beginning. We started perusing the book stores at lunchtime in search of new series to read.

A few months later I woke up from a dream and thought oh, that would make a good book, and so I got up and started writing it down. I brought it to Mindy to ask what she thought and the rest is history. We’ve been writing together ever since.

Mindy: I have always enjoyed reading. I can always pick up a good book and just relax and get lost in a story. I had Jen read a series (after about a week of convincing her that she could find time) and not long after we decided we can do this. It’s my hope everyone enjoys our stories and wants to read more.

How did you connect and start writing together?

Jennifer: Some of this I kind of explained in the previous question, but I’ll add on to it. We’ve worked together at the same company for a long time, and though we’re in different departments our personalities drew us together. We’ve been best friends ever since. In some ways we’re the same and other we’re polar opposites. I think that’s why we work so well together. And it sometimes makes our collaboration process very interesting.

Mindy:  Writing together is something we both really enjoy, and I like to think I bring out the best in Jen as she also does me as our minds can tend to drift off to daily living. We keep each other’s minds going, and keep each other on track with writing, editing and finishing in a timely manner. Sometimes we both need a push from each other.

What inspired your debut novel, Sacred Promises? What makes it special?

Jennifer: Abbey and Kaleb started as characters in my head and they developed into something greater than I had initially imagined. Together, Mindy and I decided this one would be perfect for our debut. It has an intriguing storyline and we thought readers would enjoy it.

Mindy: We actually started a series before writing Sacred Promises, but are not completely happy with it yet. Once we started writing Sacred Promises we just fell in love with the storyline and knew this was the one to start with.

Jennifer: The characters make Sacred Promises special. They have a life all their own, which pull readers into their world…or at least that’s my opinion, though it may be a little bias.

Mindy: I’d like to say we both truly love all the characters and have instantly formed a bond to each and every one of them since from the very beginning as I hope our readers do as well.

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Book 1

Jennifer: My mind has a difficult time thinking in “small” terms. There were so many things I wanted to happen that they simply wouldn’t fit into only a single book.

Mindy: I love to read series. Single books are too short for me to read or write. Guess I like more details.

Jennifer: There will be three books in the Sacred Promises series. The first one is an introduction into Abbey’s world. The second, Warrior’s Oath which is scheduled to come out early Fall 2013, will dive more into the hardships Abbey will have to overcome in order to become the greatness she’s destined for. The final book (yet to be named) will wrap up all the lingering mysteries that occur in the first two books.

Mindy: I think the series could go on and on and as much as I would love for it too I think  three books provides enough for the readers to be satisfied once finished…I hope.

What’s the best part about writing this series?

Jennifer: For me, it’s the characters. I love how they develop from what I thought they were in my head, to what they actually become once they were on paper.

Mindy: I agree, but I also love the interaction between Abbey and Kaleb, and the struggles they must face. They want to be normal and have a normal relationship but have so much responsibility on their shoulders.

Could you tell us a little about your main character, Abbey?

Jennifer: Abbey is a normal teen, or so she wishes. She’s born into a position that doesn’t give her many options as to what she can do. Her responsibilities outweigh her personal wants and desires, and leave her stuck in a constant battle with herself to do what’s right.

Mindy: She wants to be a normal teen, but has so much responsibility, and tries not to forget that. It’s awesome to watch her grow as a person as the story unfolds.

Do you have any other books in the works? What are your future goals as writers?

Yes. Warrior’s Oath (Book #2 of the Sacred Promises series) is currently in the editing stage with book three in layout form. We also have an adult paranormal romance series called Dreama’s Destiny coming out in late Fall 2013.

Jennifer: I would love to make it to the NY Times Best Seller’s List, but until that time comes I plan on continuing to write books that also stimulate the reader in me. There’s nothing like reading your finished book and getting caught up in it like you’ve never read it before.

Mindy: I agree. I just want to continue to write and have people enjoy what they are reading and just relax. However Jen and I are not really the relaxing type and have more books planned long before we finish one. As long as our imagination works we will continue to write.

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Book 2

Jennifer: The literary and publishing worlds are always evolving. Whether you want to be a published author or an indie one, the options available today are limitless. My advice would be to never take criticism to heart, yet use it constructively in order to grow as an author. Always follow your dreams and never give up on something you love doing.

Mindy: Do what you love. If you love to write, don’t stop. Get some reviews so you have honest unbiased opinions. Never give up on anything that you love doing, even if it is just for fun.

Where do you like to write?

Jennifer: I love to lock myself in my bedroom, put in my earbuds, and leave reality behind.

Mindy: In reality, anywhere it is quiet in my house. Having children can make you be creative with where you find that so majority of the time I am in my room. However, in my dream world I am sitting on a beach listening to the waves.

Which do you prefer: longhand or laptop?

Jennifer: Definitely laptop. Although any time an idea pops into my head I have to write it down. Because of that I have sticky notes and papers up all over the walls surrounding my desk at home.

Mindy: Laptop, but when one is not around I usually use the notepad in my phone.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Jennifer: I love YA, but I’m also becoming addicted to paranormal romance. Anything with magic, vampires, werewolves, shifters, etc. mixed with a good love story and I’m very interested.

Mindy: I agree with Jen on this one.

What are you currently reading?

Jennifer: I just started the Mortal Instruments series: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. My son wants to go see the movie, but before I can take him I had to read the books first.

Mindy: I have books that I would love to read and have them marked on Goodreads, but we have just started the editing process with Warrior’s Oath, and have Dreama’s Destiny to finish so they will have to wait a little while.

Who are a few of your favorite authors? What are a few of your favorite books?

Jenifer: Richelle Mead, Lauren Kate, Tina Folsom, and Maya Banks

Mindy: Richelle Mead, Sylvia Day, Maya Banks and even a little James Patterson

Jennifer: I loved the Night World series by L.J. Smith, but I’m still waiting on the final book that’ll tie it all together. My favorite YA series has to be Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, along with the spin-off series Bloodlines. Oh, and I loved Tina Folsom‘s Scanguards Vampires series. Those books rate pretty on high on my “will definitely reread” list.

Mindy: My favorite has to be the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, along with the spin-off series Bloodlines. I recently fell in love with The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks, this is a series that I wish would have gone on and on.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?

Jennifer: Without trying to get all sentimental, I’d have to say it was meeting Mindy. She and I have a friendship that goes beyond most. She’s always been there when I needed her and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her in my life.

Mindy: Awww, I agree with Jen. We have a very “sacred” friendship that most people never get to experience in their lifetimes. The best thing is we can work together doing what we love and still make time to hang out or go on vacation. We keep everything balanced to make sure our friendship stays grounded. I would not be where I am today, or doing this interview, if it wasn’t for Jen and our shared love of reading and writing. (Good thing I finally got her to read that sparkly vampire series…lol)

Look for my review of Warrior’s Oath soon! 

Find the authors: Website| Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads – Hines | | Goodreads – Bigham

 

Book Review: Sacred Promises

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Sacred Promises

Title: Sacred Promises
Author: Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: April 2013
Length:  292 pages
Series?: Sacred Promises #1
Genre: YA, supernatural, romance
Format: e-book
Source: Hines & Bigham
Challenge: n/a

Synopsis: 

Most children grow up in loving homes, with parents who tell them bedtime stories. Not Abbey. She spent her childhood training for a battle that always seemed too far away to ever become real. 

In a world of Elementals, now corrupted and misguided by the ruling families, a queen must rise up and make right the wrongs her people have had to suffer through in absence of a true leader. After spending her entire life secretly training with her guardian, eighteen-year-old Abbey must now join the Maramec Conservatory as a student, entering into a world where she will meet other Elementals, Mystics, Watchers, and Warriors. Being surrounded by the people she will someday rule over, she must keep her identity as future queen from being discovered, while managing to create friendships and deciding whom she can trust to stand by her side both now and as queen.

Review

Teenage Abbey has grown up in secrecy with her guardian, Nevara, who has taught her everything she could possibly need to become the queen. Nevara has prepped and trained Abbey for this moment: entering the Maramec Conservatory in the guise of a student, where she will study with other Elementals, Mystics, Watchers and Warriors. Nevara has versed Abbey on the school as much as possible, but the rest is up to Abbey.

Watchers and Warriors are housed together and known as the Knights of Noir, protectors of the people, and kept separate from Elemental, who have a range of abilities with one of the four elements and the very rare Mystics, gifted with sight and healing.

Abbey has to keep her identity a secret and her cards close. She must navigate the troubled waters of the Conservatory where so many students of different backgrounds converge – and avoid detection from students of the ruling families. Every 50 years a new queen is born with specific marking on her back, and in the last 200 years there hasn’t been a queen that’s surfaced – meaning only one thing: someone is finding the queens…and getting rid of them.

Seeing and living were two completely different things.

Abbey can’t afford to make enemies, but she can’t allow anyone in either. As her roommate soon spills all the gossip, Abbey finds she is the center of attention. Quickly she finds herself locked in stalemate with her mentor – fellow student Kaleb Storm, who has some unsavory rumors circulating about his past and his heritage. Kaleb takes his duties in the highest regard, yet there’s also something about Abbey…and someone else notices.

Soon Abbey is found in the middle of a love triangle, and things get ugly. One night could have ruined everything – her, her role, and the future of her citizens. Abbey’s new barrage of defenders are taking her safety seriously: she must have someone from her group with her at all times. This complicates things as Kaleb, and Abbey’s rescuer Garik, are also on the hunt. Kaleb and Garrik are both Knights of Noir, warriors meant to protect the people.

Abbey has to face some hard decisions. Does she tell Kaleb the truth? Does she tell her friends? Then comes a third guy into the picture, vying for Abbey’s heart – and he instinctively knows who she is, and that they are destined to be together. Nathan’s not making it easy on Abbey, as she struggles to stay true to Kaleb and out of the grips of the stalking wolf-changeling Darrian, who always seems to be one step ahead of Abbey’s posse of protectors. Meanwhile, Abbey learns the true identity of her guardian, who is connected to Kaleb.

This novel was so much more than I expected, and I was amazed at the range of change and growth in the main characters. Abbey struggles with many decisions throughout the novel, and the more problems that develop, the harder it is for her. Through the narration, readers are privy to the change in Abbey that reflect that she will be a kind, just, but strong queen. Abbey’s character is one who must come to terms with the fact that she’s not normal: she’s the queen in hiding, and while reading all I could think when I read narration from Abbey’s thoughts was how graceful she was in her attitude and mentality.

The novel was also unique in that a few chapters are denoted to be told from Kaleb’s point of view in first-person, so readers get insight into his thoughts and can understand his emotions. There is a chapter where this differentiation from the narration is crucial, so I applaud the authors’ use of this technique.

It is a wonderful, thrilling read and I could not put it down. I fell asleep with my Kindle several nights. The novel ends in somewhat of a lurch, but in a nice way, which I expect is going to open the conflict in the sequel, Warrior’s Oath. I’m looking forward to great things in Warrior’s Oath. I expect Hines and Bigham to deliver, and I am betting I won’t be disappointed.

About the Authors

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Jennifer Hines

Jennifer Hines is a wife, mother, and indie author. She loves reading, writing, and taking long road trips.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Scanguards Vampires by Tina Folsom, and the Crossfire Novels by Sylvia Day.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

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Mindy Bigham

Mindy Bigham is a wife, a mother, and an indie author. She loves reading, writing, and vacationing anywhere there’s a beach.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include: The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Bloodlines Series by Michelle Mead, and The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

Find the authors: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl

Title: The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl
Author: Julian David Stone
Publisher: The Duration Press
Release Date: October 2013
Length:  408 pages (paperback)
Series?: no
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: e-book
Source: Smith Publicity
18584668Challenge: n/a

Synopsis

The golden age of live television comes to vivid life with the memorable and entertaining tale of Jonny Dirby, who unintentionally captivates the imagination of America with his creation of the hit show Justice Girl. This fun, engrossing work of historical fiction transports readers back to a time when television shows were chaotic tightrope acts balancing the agendas of actors, studio executives, advertisers, and politicians, and all of it broadcast live to fifty million viewers without the security of a safety net.

Set in 1955 in New York City, Julian David Stone’s impressive novel follows Jonny from the writers’ room of a steady network gig to a crisis of conscience when he decides to abandon his regular paycheck to claim the moral high ground against the spreading plague of McCarthyism. In a final act of defiance, Jonny alters the script of a Superman-inspired lampoon moments before it is broadcast live. What nobody can anticipate is that Jonny’s accidental creation Justice Girl and her infectious catchphrase of “Justice is served!” are about to sweep the nation and win the hearts and minds of America. Add to the mix a highly driven actress trying to get Jonny blacklisted, along with a desperate network president willing to do anything he can to get compete control of the show, and the history of television will never be the same.

The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl moves beyond the gags and gaffes of television’s golden age to plumb the depths of the media’s broader influence. Anyone interested in this time when television was a new phenomenon, with different factions fighting to use it to promote their varied agendas, will enjoy this riveting novel.

Julian David Stone
Julian David Stone

Review

This book is something different. It is set in a time period that is almost unimaginable today: the Era of McCarthyism, the Red Scare, blacklists…and live, on-air television.

Slithering over the entire entertainment industry like the oozing spill from an oil tanker, the blacklist had claimed the careers of thousands of actors, writers, directors, musicians, and stagehands. 

Jonny Dirby is a man who grew up knowing the hard truths and ugly, covered up secrets to the war. He experienced them first-hand as a young teen, and now a young, single man scribbling off sketches for a popular show on one of the television networks. He works with several others writers…writers who have been blacklisted.

No one would admit that the list even existed. 

Jonny is a good man, and a good friend. He knows how to get his sketches on live television, and he shares his paycheck with a few select writers, who he openly admits to not initially liking. It’s a funny thing how long hours and close quarters can change opinions.

Then one day, Jonny gets the ax. In a flurry, he quickly makes some changes to that night’s show, airing live. It’s a last-ditch effort to stick it to the man, and oh does it set off fireworks, but not quite the kind he expected. Instead of blowing things up for Regal Television Network, it gets him an immediate appointment with the power greedy network president – and an entire new show based off of Justice Girl, a young female Superman living double lives with identities to be kept secret. It’s an appeal to those of all ages, and creates such rile and evocative emotion and support from viewers, creating such a sensation that the network makes a few mistakes in getting the show underway.

While Jonny is dealing with his own battles with the network, rounding up the old blacklisted writing gang and sliding in his own personal political attacks into the episodes, Justice Girl’s female star Felicity Kensington is undercover as a joe blow schlow while secretly collecting information to funnel back to her Congressional hopeful father. But somewhere between a one-time hit in the door of the entertainment world to dig in her talons, Felicity is thrown into a whole new world she can’t handle..and she’s about to lose her grip on the inside. Jonny’s such a great guy, he comes to her rescue and gets her some acting help.

Like I said, it’s a funny thing how long hours and close quarters can change opinions. Lines start to become blurred: the open-minded, honest lines binding the writers together, the lines between Felicity’s real life and secret identity, the lines between Felicity’s mission and her new-found passion, the lines between Jonny and the recent friendliness of his presidential back-pocket producer, and the lines between child and adult.

Everything eventually comes to a head as decisions are made and time runs out. Jonny experiences the bitter dosage of honesty, betrayal and pain, as does Felicity herself.

This novel is written in a way that in 25 years of reading, I’ve never come across anything quite like it. This novel follows several of the main players into their pasts that provide enlightenment of their backgrounds. It shows a stark contrast, yet similarity in motives of the main characters. They all struggle with their own internal battles, enhanced by external conflicts that are presented in such an intertwined way that it is so seamless and smooth. Jonny, and especially Felicity, experience such growth as individuals and characters in this novel, and it’s all imploded by their professional realm: live television.

Jonny is such an intriguing character. He’s the living, breathing reality of human nature: denying he tries to push confrontations (while enjoying  the escalation!), the “acute confidence that he was always right,” honest in his dislike of others. He is firmly grounded in who he is, what he is, what he believes and what he’s willing to fight for. Felicity is a complete foil of Jonny’s character; she has no sense of self or morality until her lines become blurred and her secret identity opens up her world.

Wonderful, thrilling read of an age of controversy, sensationalism, political agendas and one-shot chances. Will Jonny get his final chance, or will he blow it?

 

About the Author

Julian David Stone is an award-winning director and writer. He grew-up in the San Francisco bay area before relocating to Los Angeles after spending his college years at the California Institute of the Arts. For the next few years he wrote screenplays for Disney and Paramount, as well as several other studios and producers around town. With two decades of experience working in the entertainment business, Stone brings to his work an insider’s knowledge of the industry, augmented for this book [The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl]  by the personal stories and anecdotal history shared by those who were actually present in the 1950s when the story is set.

Find the author: Website | Facebook Twitter | Goodreads

Find out more about the novel: Background