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This blog is managed by us two sisters, known to some as Ants and Epic. We're a pair of up-and-coming authors and avid readers. This blog is mainly full of honest, Christian book-reviews and an occasional update about our writing. We love hearing from you all so feel free to drop a comment anywhere to just say hi!
Also, got any book suggestions? Something you'd like to see reviewed? Leave the title in the comments and we'll try to get to it!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Liebster Award

Liebster Award Tag + 11 Questions Answered - Tea with Tumnus.jpg

 Hey everyone, Ants here! I know this is a little late but Happy New Year! 
I've been tagged by the awesome Marrok Macintyre, one of the only bloggers I've followed since his beginning and I totally suggest you check out his blog where he does tags, Christian reviews, writing tips, and stories.

 Rules are that I'm required to answer 11 questions, list 11 random facts, tag 11 people and give them 11 questions to answer. 11 being a really popular number here. And here are Marrok's questions to kick things off:


1. If you were to be transported into a fantasy world would you rather be the hero or the villain. And what kind of hero/villain would you be? 
 Hero but I'd require a group of friends to protect and guide me because I'd be a stressed out mess twenty four/seven. I used to dream and pray for adventure and the chance to be a hero until one time when I was twelve I had a dream that monsters invaded our town and I had to fight them off with my family and everything was dirty and scary and I only had a sword I'm not sure where I got. After that I became very grateful for the lack of terrifying adventures in my life. Also for air conditioners. Even so, should I ever fall through a portal and become a fantasy hero, I hope to acquire a group of like minded people who will help me laugh and protect the innocent against whatever we're up against.


2. If you could bring anything from your imagination into reality what would it by and why?

 Oh good grief! So many things, I have a very vivid imagination! Maybe a shape-shifter pet? I could have a horse one day, a dragon the next, and fish the next! Or maybe a small bag that held everything I needed, just enough cash to pay for gas or that book I forgot to get for school... Or a portal that leads to other worlds, I don't want to be a hero or anything, I just want to explore! I think I'll stick with the portal but the moment I finish this I'll think of ten other things.


3. What are three things you share in common with your MC?

  Hm...so many of those. I think I'll stick with Timothy from To Catch a Dragon since it's my story closest to being published. 
   1. We both love kids, he practically raises his little sister and then babysits the five youngest girls in their group. I have eight younger siblings and have worked as a babysitter for other families and volunteered to work with kids in a charity setting. I just really love being around them and Timothy's the same way.
   2. We are both sarcastic. Timothy is a co-creation with my sister so he's a mixture of us both but we can agree on this. Timothy gets very low-key sarcastic when tired or stressed which is most of the time, just like us! We tend to be better at hiding it than he is but then we've never gone dragon hunting with twelve princesses before which equates a lot less stress for us!
   3. Timothy is the eldest of a really big family as am I.

4. What would you name "Thagomizer"?

 A space ship! It would probably have lightning logos around it and be huge and cart around the most popular space-show cast!

5. What is your favorite genre to write in and why?

 Fantasy because it allows me to do anything I want. I also love constructing new governments, magical rules, and systems that don't exist. Creating laws, restrictions, and lines and then challenging them is one of the joys of being an author and I find it so much more fun if i can add a dash of magic or drop a dragon on the chaos!

6. If you could live anywhere where would it be?

 I'm a pretty happy American as things go but I wouldn't mind spending a season of life in Japan, Italy or Ireland. Really I dislike the idea of staying in any one particular spot and would rather just travel everywhere. As a child my family moved every couple of years or so. I was raised on stories of my great grandparents who came over from Italy, Ireland, Wales, and the Native American side of my family. It cultivated quite a gypsy heart in me.

7. Described your personality, or the way you are feeling right now, in a gif.

  My usual, upbeat, dancing-to-music-that's-not-actually-there attitude can change to a wishy-washy 'whatever' sort (like now) and both kinda look like this:
Image result for anime gifs

8. Why have you chosen to write?

 Actually it started as a one sided competition with my cousin. She started writing a story and I heard my parents talking about how neat that was and felt compelled to show the world that I could write too. I was around seven or eight and it was a rip off of my cousin's story. but it was like suddenly releasing every game I made up and every person I wanted to be. After that I rewrote the Prydain Chronicles and tried to pass it off as my own to family and friends, none of whom had read the series so it was accepted. After that I started getting a little more creative and eventually writing became like breathing to me. Even if I'm not working on a single story I'm jotting down one-shots, ideas, and scenes. Everything is a story to me and it's all begging to be written!

9. Where does the inspiration for your writing come from?

 Haha, I swear I'm not an extremely competitive person and I fail to see the point of most sports despite playing soccer in my early childhood, but it usually comes from me thinking I could do better. If I watch/read something I found to be really terrible I rewrite it in my mind to make it 'better' (in my personal opinion). I also try to challenge cliches or give that one lovable character in that one show the happy ending they deserve. Most of my stuff starts with characters and ideas; like a red haired girl crying, a small boy watching the rain, a grizzled man gently holding a violet, a baby laughing at the sky in an empty meadow. Why are these people where they are and what do they plan on doing about it? And then I go backwards and forwards from there. 

10. When you finish writing, how do you plan to publish and why?

  For my first book I'm planning on going indie so I can retain the rights and work it the way I want it to go. I am planning on trying to publish traditionally for a later series.

11. What song is your jam right now?

  Well Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon has been my jam for a long time but Jaywalking by Eyecandy (a band from a Kdrama called Shut Up! Flower Boy Band and no, I have no excuse for these titles) and Every Time You Go by Ellie Goulding.

And here are my 11 random facts:
  • I'm going to school to be a missionary. This will allow me to travel, share my faith, and explore many different job opportunities
  • I want to be a sort of Jack-of-all-Trades. I want to learn as much of everything as I can! 
  • I draw a little and almost exclusively in anime style.
  • I play three different instruments and dabble in others.
  • I can say 'Hello' 'Thank you' and 'Please' in seven languages including English and read a little Japanese.
  • I'm a total nerd for anime and Asian TV but especially anime and will always info dump anyone asking for a suggestion.
  • I want to start a film studio later in my life.
  • I used to own a horse named Romeo.
  • I can't cook. I try but can never stay concentrated long enough and burn everything. I've destroyed many pots and pans and my family has learned to keep me away from food in it's creation stage. 
  • I find cleaning therapeutic, especially if I can pop in my headphones and flip on my Owl City Pandora station. helps me wind down and sort through my thoughts. Some of my favorite scenes in my stories were created while I was doing the dishes!
  • I love the scent of cherry blossoms.

And now for tags:
And here are my questions:

   1. Favorite smell?
   2. Why do you write?
   3. What's your favorite thing about writing?
   4. What book are you most proud of reading?
   5. What's your strangest hobby?
   6. Current or daily mood in a gif.
   7. Myers Brigg's Type or Hogwarts house? And which ones are you?
   8. Newest favorite book/movie/show (newest, not all time favorite, making this easy on everyone)?
   9. Do you have a writing snack and what is it?
 10. Name three ways your MC is like you.
 11. Music or silence while writing?

Thanks again to Marrok for the tag! This was so much fun, I should really do these more often!

   I'm going to binge review my last few reads from 2017 but then I'll probably go quiet on here for awhile until I settle into college life. Prayers will be gratefully appreciated. But don't worry, I will be back eventually, I won't stop reading so I won't stop reviewing!
 Prayers for all of you and I hope you all have a wonderful year in 2018!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Review: Zodiac

 

Summary: At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain…. 
 Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.
 When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.
 Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.
 But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

Thoughts: I don't normally read Young Adult books if I can help it because they tend to sacrifice character and plot for romance but I decided to give this one a try because I've always liked the idea of using the zodiacs in a fictional story. Reading this book reminded me why I don't like YA.
 The characters, particularly the main character Rhoma, start out strong, determined, but believably scared. I liked everyone for the first third of the book. And then the love triangle asserted itself and drama took over and I couldn't really enjoy any character after that. And Rhoma became nothing more than a confused and besotted girl who was playing with two different guys with the excuse that she couldn't make up her mind so development was dropped there. 
 The writing was actually fairly good and kept me reading through even most of the painful romantic scenes (most not all, see Content below).
 If I was ever going to read another in this series it would purely be for the amazing world building I glimpsed in this story. The set-up of each zodiac from government to trade was perfect and every new piece I learned just made me want to know more! I was dazzled with this starry world of ships and planets. 

Content: Some common language such as D***, H*** and Sh**. War and mob violence. Magic-like supernatural abilities. A couple of kisses. SPOILER Rhoma has intimate relations with one of the characters on her seventeenth birthday. I skipped the scene so I can't say for sure how explicit it got but it left no doubt about what was happening END SPOILER.
 All in all I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone but I would place it at a mature high-school level or above for those still interested.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Review: The Nine Pound Hammer

 

Summary: What if John Henry had a son? 
  Twelve-year-old Ray is haunted by the strangest memories of his father, whom Ray swears could speak to animals. Now an orphan, Ray jumps from a train going through the American South and falls in with a medicine show train and its stable of sideshow performers. The performers turn out to be heroes, defenders of the wild, including the son of John Henry. They are hiding the last of the mythical Swamp Sirens from an ancient evil known as the Gog. Why the Gog wants the Siren, they can’t be sure, but they know it has something to do with rebuilding a monstrous machine that John Henry gave his life destroying years before, a machine that will allow the Gog to control the will of men and spread darkness throughout the world.

 Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! The whole premise of America's tall-tale heroes coupled with something reminiscent of King Arthur and his knights was enough to get my attention but this surpassed all expectations!
 The plot is unique and eye-catching but ensures to still appeal to audiences with familiar humor and the expected sort of action for the time period such as train chases and gun fights. 
 The cast are true gems and I quickly came to love all of them! They are easy to empathize with and believe in and you can't help cheering for them all.

Content: Magic, fantasy violence, a little blood, some mildly frightening scenes.
 All in all, I would say this is appropriate for almost every age!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review: The Name of this Book is Secret


 Summary: Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch.
As much as he'd love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn't want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest. Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances. And he certainly wouldn't want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face. You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too. For it concerns a secret. A Big Secret.


 Thoughts: This was a really cute story  reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The cast was interesting and the plot always kept me guessing to the very end. It was full of quirky humor and underplayed terror that really made the story for me. It was a little slow on occasion and I wasn't completely impressed with all the characters, it does have some intriguing potential that makes me curious to see where it goes.

 Content: The climax of the story and big are a little disturbing if you really think about them but are underplayed to the point of not being scary. Mildly scary or violent situations. 
 All in all a fairly clean book for just about any age.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Dreadnought

 

Summary: A renegade faction of the world’s most powerful villains is intent on destroying G.L.O.V.E. (Global League Of Villainous Enterprises) and showing the world the true face of evil. The Disciples begin by hijacking Diabolus Darkdoom’s Airborne command post, then they kidnap his son and his son’s best friend. Unfortunately for them, Nigel Darkdoom (and Franz) also happen to be Otto’s friends. Heading out to America, Otto, Wing et al embark on a perilous and highly unauthorized rescue operation. Cut off from the support of H.I.V.E. and on the run from American security forces the hunt for their friends leads to one of the US military’s most secret facilities. It becomes clear that the Disciples are not all they appear and in a desperate race against time Otto must work out who his real friends are and prevent the Disciples from completing their true objective. Only Otto can save the world from domination by a sinister new world order but it might be that the price he has to pay is just too high. When it comes to the crunch will he be prepared to sacrifice himself?

Thoughts: A great continuation of a fascinating series! Dreadnought combines a lot more out-of-school action than previous books with some interesting plot twists.
 The returning cast was great and, though I don't have much to say about the rather clique villains,  one of the new cast did catch my attention. I'm not going to say who but, though they didn't have much of a presence here I see a lot of potential for this character!
The writing is the same as the previous books and while it sometimes lacks emotional depth, it never fails to make me laugh!

Content: Lots of violence and some bloody but never graphic or gory. Words suck as H*** and D*** are used infrequently but usually from one of the kids. 
 All in all, a relatively clean read for mature middle schoolers and a fun one for older readers!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Book Review: Serefina and the Black Cloak


 Summary: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.” 
 Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
 But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity . . . before all of the children vanish one by one.
 Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

Thoughts: This was a cute, if mildly terrifying, story set in a real-world backdrop. The Biltmore estate is an actual place in Asheville NC. If you've ever been or plan to go, I suggest you pick up this book. It'll will add a whole new layer to the story. On the other hand I wasn't overtly impressed. The story had a fun cast and interesting plot but most of the twists and secrets were predictable and I kept being surprised when something was revealed and no one else already knew it. Great for it's targeted age group, especially if they like ghost stories, but otherwise a pretty average read. It went from normal to scary and back again very quickly which just wasn't something I like in a book.
 On the other hand the writing was really good and the descriptions are great! It's like a fantasy tour of the estate but with several extremely curious tour guides.

Content: Like I said, the book got dark and scary on occasion and a little gory (skin peeling off, bloodied pieces of clothes, attacks from animals). There was a ghost like villain and a possessed item and children supernaturally disappearing. Also some folklore type magic. 
 All in all it's really a mostly clean book but not suitable for children who are easily scared.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book: Review: The League of Seven


 Summary: Young Archie Dent knows there really are monster in the world. His parents are members of the Septemberist Society, whose job it is to protect humanity from hideous giants called the Mangleborn. Trapped in underground prisons for a thousand years, the giant monsters have been all but forgotten -- but now they are rising again as the steam-driven America of 1875 rediscovers electricity, the lifeblood of the Mangleborn.
 When his parents and the rest of The Septemberists are brainwashed by one of the evil creatures, Archie must assemble a team of seven young heroes to save the world.

Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book! From the very beginning the cast sparked with life! They weren't amazing or incredible, they didn't leap off the page or suck you in; they beckoned with hidden potential and a swirl of mystery and by the time you get any answers you're hooked!
 Aside from the fantastic cast, the plot kept twisting and turning and keeping you guessing and rarely slowed down for more than a breath before rolling full speed ahead again! The steampunk versus electricity is an interesting aspect that keeps you guessing and adds to the extensive world building. 
 The writing was really good. Most of the story is told through the eyes of the three children, the oldest of which is fourteen and the mos prominent is eleven. While the voice isn't inspiring or awing, they feel real and you understand when they're scared, hurt, or excited. You really learn to feel for the characters.

Content: A bit of fantasy violence, some mention of blood. Some magical properties such as the Mangleborn and they're abilities that resemble those of a Greek myth. The monsters could be frightening to sensitive or really young children.
 All in all, a pretty clean book for most middle grade readers and older.