Monday, May 29, 2017

Remembering... {Memorial Day 2017}

Happy Memorial Day, readers! I wasn't sure what to post today, but late Saturday night I had this idea for a memorial-themed short story. So I wrote and edited the entire thing Sunday afternoon and tonight. Hopefully it isn't *too* bad and y'all can get something out of it. :P 

  I guess all families have their own traditions. Things like whose house you go to for Christmas, Christmas Eve, Easter, and the Fourth of July. What you eat when and who gets to read the Christmas story. 
  We have a tradition that's probably a bit unusual. My paternal grandfather – a WWII veteran and a hero in my eyes – started it. He was always a patriot, but from what I've been told, this particular tradition started after he returned from Europe. 
  Every Memorial Day weekend, for as long as I can remember, all the aunts, uncles, and cousins gather at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. After filling up two whole pews at the country church on Sunday morning, we would come back for the cookout and family time. The aunts would make sure all the kids changed out of their good clothes before turning us loose in the backyard. Our playtime before food was served wouldn't last long. Then we'd sit on old wooden picnic tables and eat our fill of hot dogs, potato salad, and homemade ice cream. 
  As soon as everyone had finished eating, and before one of the ladies dared start cleaning up, Grandpa would stand and walk away without a word. Grandma would follow closely behind him, slipping her hand into his elbow before they rounded the corner of the house. 
  The adults would round up all us kids and lead us to the front of the house, giving strict orders to be quiet and respectful during our moment of silence. I clearly recall the words of my dad, reminding us that this was to remember those who had given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoyed daily. I'm sorry to say, those sober words didn't mean much to my six-year-old self. 
  Everyone would take seats – in the rockers, the porch swing, or sprawling on the floor boards. I can remember sneaking peeks at Grandpa, watching him out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes he would shed tears and talk about his memories, but other times he would just sit staring off down the road. 
  Sometimes we kids would grumble to each other about having to be quiet, but never in front of Grandpa. No, we always sat there just as we were told to out of respect for him. For his memories. After a while of putting up with our uncomfortable squirming, Dad would give the go-ahead nod and we were at liberty to slip away. 
  The spring of my twelfth year, I was much more attuned to Grandpa’s uttered words as he reminded us kids to never take our freedom for granted. 
  I had questions this year; I wanted to know more. “Grandpa?” 
  “Yes, Caleb,” he answered, leaning back in the rocker and meeting my gaze. 
  “Are you a hero?” 
  Grandma, Dad, and someone else further down the porch nodded their heads, but I didn't want their answers. I wanted him to tell me. 
  Grandpa smiled at the question and shook his head. “No, son. I'm not a hero, but I have known a few.” 
  “What do you mean by that?” I asked, puzzled by the mystery surrounding his reply. 
  “People think they're talking to someone special when they thank men like me. But who they really should be thanking is the ones who didn't come home.” 
  That line certainly gave me something to think about and contemplate. And for awhile, it was enough. 
  Years passed and cousins grew up and went off to school. There were many times everyone wasn't able to make it back to that old, white farmhouse for our family gathering, though we always tried our best. 
  Again, the spring of my senior year, I sat there on that porch. I stayed with Grandpa long after all the others had wandered off to the backyard to clean up from our cookout or join in the reckless game of dodgeball. 
  “Something bothering you, son?” Grandpa finally asked. 
  I turned to face him from where I sat on the top porch step, my elbows propped on my knees. “Yes, sir.” 
  “Want to tell me about it?” 
  I shrugged, returning my gaze to the dirt road that stretched on for miles and miles, winding around mountains and dipping into valleys. What would it be like to walk down it, not to come back for years? Or ever? 
  “You're readable, Caleb,” Grandpa said. I heard his rocker creaking as he stood and limped toward me. “Something’s weighing on you, I can tell.” 
  He stepped up beside me, preparing to sit on the porch edge like I was. Regardless of the much-different story he would have told, he wasn't a spring-chicken. 
  I reached for his arm, aiming to steady him. “Can I help you, Grandpa?” 
  He frowned and swatted my hand away, easing himself the rest of the way to the seat on his own. “Thank you for the thought, Caleb, but despite what your father and his sisters think, I'm not falling apart.” 
  I snickered, remembering the many quarrels between my grandparents and Dad about this subject. 
  Grandpa nudged my shoulder. “Are you going to tell me what's bothering you? Or do I get left in the dark?” 
  I leaned forward and propped my chin on my crossed arms. “I've been wondering about a lot of stuff lately, especially my future. I've…I've been heavily considering the military.” I glance to my right to gauge his reaction. 
 He just nodded as if that was old news. No shock, no surprise. “I thought so.” 
  “You-you did?” 
  He smiled, a faint smile that seemed to hold a hint of sadness and then faded away. “I think there is something in every man that makes him feel protective over those he cares about. For some that may just mean being a good person, a good husband or father. There's nothing wrong with that, but for others, it means more. A call to serve.” 
  I looked down at my crossed arms and let Grandpa’s words wash over me. I had so many questions and it took awhile before the most prominent one formed itself in the forefront of my mind. 
  “Dad says you had a friend who was killed during the war,” I began, treading carefully into uncharted territory. “Were you…good friends?”
 “Best friend I ever had next to your grandmother and the Lord Almighty.” 
  I didn't expect such a quick answer, and I scrambled to come up with my next inquiry. “What was that like? Coming home when he didn't?” 
  Grandpa sighed and mimicked my pose, leaning his elbows on his knees and staring off down the road. When he spoke his words held a tremble that hadn't been present moments before. “Hardest thing I've ever done, Caleb. But I can't blame it entirely on Bobby’s death. War is never easy. Whether you lose someone close to you or not, you're surrounded by death and destruction. It changes you, and you can't stop it.” 
  Grandpa’s words washed over me and wrapped around me, exactly what I needed to hear that warm, Sunday afternoon. “Why are you telling me this now?” 
  “Because you need to hear it, Caleb,” he replied, his hand appearing on my shoulder. “Your struggle is written all over your face, but it takes someone who's been where you are to understand how you're feeling. If God is telling you to serve your country this way, then he'll give you the courage to do it.” 
  Instead of going to college that fall, I shipped out to boot camp. I've served in the armed forces for nearly a decade now, and at times I've doubted if I would be where I am today without the man who saw my struggles and shared from his own painful memories in order to help me along my journey. 
  Grandpa passed away last autumn. At his funeral, I heard the twenty-one gun salute, I saw the folded flag they handed Grandma. I realized that the man I sat on the front porch with that day so long ago truly was a hero. A hero who honored those who gave even more than he did. 
  And I cried like I've never cried before. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Goodreads Tag // Lots of Books and Covers and Raving

Well, well, lookie here. A book tag! My favorite. :P Kellyn at Reveries Reviews tagged me for the Goodreads Tag. I mean, really? A goodreads tag? Could it get better?! Anywho... Thanks, Kellyn! :D 

>> Rules 
thank the person who tagged you 
> answer the questions 
> tag at least three people 

>> Questions 

What was the last book you marked as 'read'?

The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero, book two in the Tales of Faith series. This book releases this week and I'm looking forward to taking part in the blog tour soon! :D 

What are you currently reading? 

That's an interesting question. XD I'm reading nine books... 

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Revelation by Warren Wiersbe 
A Question of Courage by Jesseca Wheaton 
Dancing on the Head of a Pen by Robert Benson 
Choosing Courage by Peter Collier 
Love Me Tender by Janice Hanna 
Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris 
Millie's Courageous Days by Martha Finley 
Journey to Love by Amanda Tero 

I also have Isaiah and Behold the Dawn by K.M. Weiland marked as currently-reading, but I've hardly started them. 

What was the last book you marked as 'to read'? 

The Twin Arrows by Kate Willis. It sounds great! :) 

Do you use the star system? mean there's people who don't use it? *is met by silence* Okay, yeah, I use it. ;) 

Are you doing the 2017 Reading Challenge?

Of course!! :D My goal was originally 131 books, I upped it to 151, and I've currently read 72 books. :) 

Do you have a wishlist? 

Hehe, most definitely! ^_^ There's only 12 books on it (as I was surprised to discover), so this is just *some* books I want to collect. :D 

Who are your favorite authors? 

*coughs dramatically* Shall I pull up a list? 

Sarah Sundin 
Susan Marlow 
Wanda Brunstetter
Tricia Goyer 
Tricia Mingerink
Janette Oke
Jesseca Wheaton
Jennifer Lamont Leo
Willowy Whisper 
Patricia MacLachlan
Ivy Rose
Melanie Dickerson
Lois Gladys Leppard 

*grins* Yeah, pretty much.

Have you joined any groups? 

Yup. I'm technically a member of 17, but I'm only active on 4 or 5. 

How many Goodreads shelves do you have? 

Thirty-six and they're all quite lovely. ^_^ *nods* 

>> Tagged 

Kaitlyn @ Twin Thoughts
Rebekah @ RebekahAshleigh

I will be mostly absent from the blogging world this coming week, but I will have a couple posts going up of my own. ^-^ 


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Imagine This ~ #9

Who else is ready for another Imagine This challenge?! :D I figured it was about time and, since I've been so neglectful of this blog lately *cough*, I needed to post something. And this was pretty quick and easy for me to get up. ;) 

The Rules 
// Write a story based off what you imagine is happening in the picture below. 
// Keep your story around 700-800 words. If it's a little over, that's okay, but please try to stay under 1,000. 
// Send your story to me via the contact form, located at the bottom right of this page. (Or my email address, if you have it. :)) 
// The deadline is Saturday, May 27th and I'll post the entries shortly thereafter. 

--from Pinterest 

I feel like I do a lot of military-related pictures, but this one was just too sweet to pass up. Thanks for suggesting this precious picture goes to Livi Jane!! 

Can't wait to see the sure-to-be amazing entries!! :D 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Deliver // The Blades of Acktar // Book Review

Helllooooo people! Well, here I am. Jumping into all the Deliver release excitement a bit late. :P Quite honestly, April was INSANE and I didn't get around to reading this whole hunk of loveliness until it was all over. On to the review... :D 

~ Synopsis 

Can something broken ever heal?
Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can’t lose his guilt.
Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?
The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?
They face their hardest battle yet.

~ My Review 

5 of 5 stars 

*spoiler warning for those who haven't read books 1-3* 

When a book keeps me up late, it usually isn't because I don't like. I am a night owl, but the book has to especially good for me to stay up into the wee morning hours to finish it. 

And that was Deliver. Once I got pulled into the story, I just couldn't put it down!! 

According to Goodreads, it took me two weeks to read this book. That's not entirely true, as it was more like I started it, set it aside for two weeks only reading once or twice, and then read the remaining 65% in about 24 hours. 

Parts of the beginning felt a little slow to me, but I think that was just because it wasn't *quite* as fast-moving as the prior three books. Which makes sense, when you think about it. The war is over now and everyone is trying to rebuild their lives as best they can. 

And that brings me to... The characters. When I started this book, I was afraid that it was going to have only Martyn's POV. Which...would've been cool, but I needed more Leith and Renna (ya know, while they're living in HAPPINESS.) Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover that this book had Leith and Renna's POVs as well as Martyn's. :D 

Martyn... I've always loved his character. He's tough and hard and yet he makes you feel for him. Like, at the end of Defy. He was hurting my precious one (both physically and emotionally), but I still couldn't help but hurt for him. And GOOD HEAVENS the snarkiness!! Without 'getting inside his head' you would never know about all these sarcastic thoughts he's having. And let's not forget about annoyingly-perfect lord's son over there... :P 

Kayleigh... Enters another awesome character. Just when I think there isn't any possible way for Ms. Mingerink to create another unique character in the same series. And yet here she is. Strong, independent, good-hearted, and...outcast. (Am I the only person who totally shipped them from the beginning?!) And the whole thing with the cursing and ordering and SOAP?! *grins* I'm totally going to be walking around saying "blistering soapsuds" now. :P 

Leith... I loved seeing how he grew and changed through this book. Figuring out where he belongs in a world of peace, without the Blades, without anything to fight for. Ahh, twas lovely. The fatherly talk with Lord Alistair, the little brother jokes with Ranson and Jamie... <3 <3 

Renna... So wonderful to look back on her whole character arc from the weepy, clingy, scared girl in "Dare" to the strong Lady Faythe of Stetterly. With head held high as she stands up to the town for the man she loves, and stands up for the town against those who seek to destroy all they hold dear a second time. (Speaking of which... *Deliver spoiler here* I LOVED the part where Renna spoke to the town concerning Leith, and then he stood up next to her. *swoons* They are so precious. <3 *end of spoiler*) 

The other characters... Brandi, Jamie, Ranson, Shad, Lord Alistair (LOVED his words to Leith in the last chapter <3)... They're all there and just as amazing. 

The plot was amazing. I loved all the parts with Martyn and Kayleigh, seeing the eventual change in him, and then that surprise character that showed up *cough*, and rebuilding Stetterly... Gahhh, Acktar, would you give me my heart back please?! 

The epilogue seriously made me so happy. Not the fluffy, girly, sunshine kind of happy that can change with the weather. But really happiness, where even if things go wrong and their hearts are hurt, they will still be able to live and laugh and love. Through Christ. <3 

Deliver was an amazing story of redemption, betrayal, and love. Rebuilding from ashes, starting anew, and finding a new normal in the strange world of peace. An absolutely incredible finale to the series -- a series that I can see myself re-reading again and again in years to come. 

**I received a review copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.** 

~ About the Author
Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.
You can connect with her on FacebookPinterestGoodreadsTwitterInstagram, and her blog.

If you haven't read The Blades of Acktar series, I would totally recommend them. Here's the links to my reviews of the previous books, if you want more info. :D 

Thanks for reading, guys! Check back soon for a new bookish-series!! :D 


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Camp NaNo, Wisdom Teeth, and I FINISHED ANOTHER BOOK // April Recap

Well, peeps, the time has come again. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm writing these post every other week. XD 

// Life. // 
ya know the segment that is really lame because all of Faith's life fell under 'writing' this month 

>> Since when does GR send you emails when you finish a book?? Like, do you realize how many of those emails I get?!

>> *drops my fork for no reason at all* My hand is rebelling.

>> Easter happened. Lots of wow-ness as always. 

>> Wisdom teeth...very meh. Here's the pictures that were sort-of promised. (And yes, I'm fine now. XD) 

>> Discussing with fellows writers who's killed more charries... "I think you might have killed more than me." "I don't think so..." "Well, maybe, if you count *insert name*." 

>> Cherishing time and relationships. *nods* Always good things. 

// Books. // 
hashtag epic fail goes right here, y'all 

So...I epically failed at reading this month. *cries* I think I ended up finishing 8 books, most of which were liiittlleee. 

Millie's Unsettled Season by Martha Finley -- 5 stars 
Choices for Max by Rebekah A. Morris -- 3.5 stars 
Gentleman of her Dreams by Jen Turano -- 4 stars
Esther -- 5 stars 
Flowers by Kellyn Roth -- 4 stars 
Christ Arose by Faith Blum -- 5 stars 
Amish Prayers compiled by Beverly Lewis -- 5 stars
Philippians -- 5 stars 

As far as good news goes...I got ten lovely books this month... ^_^

Millie's Faithful Heart by Martha Finley 
Laylie's Daring Quest by Kersten Hamilton 

Used bookstore: 
Theft and Thanksgiving by Emily Thomas 
The Christmas Key by Emily Thomas 
Love Me Tender by Janice Hanna 
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis 

King's Blood by Jill Williamson -- giveaway win 
The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis -- review book
The Silent Blade by Jesseca Wheaton -- gift 
Violet's Defiant Daughter by Martha Finley -- gift 

// Writing. //  
loads of on 

So I participated in another NaNo makeup from March 15th to April 15th. And then Camp NaNo was running through the month of April so EEPSS. Double epicness. :D 

Total word count: 59,958
Camp word count: 57,063

I technically won Camp on the 27th...but I didn't validate my word count, because I was like "hey, let's see how much more I can get in." Welp, guess who forgot to do that...AT ALL?! Yep, until Monday morning. Like, heh, too late now, dork-brains. BUT...I still technically won... ^_^ 

Okay, announcement time. On April 29th at 10:19 PM I typed the lovely words "the end" and finished War Tears. Such a feeling of completion, y'all. I've been writing this thing on and off for like 25 months... I was about ready to cry!! How can I say goodbye to my precious charries?! But I have a ton of editing to do...and ideas for a sequel and prequel. :P 

// Music & Movies. // 
good stuff, as always 

Movies... I saw The Case for Christ at the theater and it was EPIC. Go see it NOW. I also watched Last Ounce of Courage at a friend's recommendation and... *bawls* THAT WAS BEAUTIFUL. America needs to see that, y'all. 

And music? *drags out a list* Basically I listened to a ton of stuff because I almost always have music while I'm writing and I wrote a lot so. *nods* 

Fireflies // Owl City 
Can't Live Without You // Owl City 
Saving Amy // Brantley Gilbert 
If You're Reading This // Tim McGraw 
Live Like You're Loved // Hawk Nelson 
Even If // MercyMe 
When You Smile // Casy Darnell 
When the Waters Rise // Casey Darnell 
I Will Stand By You // Casey Darnell 
War // Icon for Hire 
Welcome Home, A Soldier's Song 
A Soldier's Memoir // Joe Bachman 
Sunshine Girl // Britt Nicole 

// Blogging. // 

Heeding His Call in Our Writing // Gods Peculiar Treasure Rae

Blessings and Thorns // Having a Heart Like His 

When I Just Don't Want to Write... // My Bookcase and I 

My King // Twilight to Dawn 

15 Dialogue Prompts to Re-Inspire You // The Cheapskate Bibliomaniac 

A Number of Little Things that Make Me Happy // Silver-Lined Ramblings 

One God, One Savior // Rebekah's Remarks 

A Moment // Second Star 

The Reliable Hope // Wonderland Creek 

The Why of It // Sugar Mountain 

// Goals. // 

~ April Goals 

>> Survive and win Camp NaNo (while eating AND keeping up with school).    #SUCCESS 

>> Write 40,000 words. *points to above*    *nods rapidly* 


>> Stay semi-caught up on emails. (During Camp? Heh.)      Um...didn't happen... 

>> Alpha-read consistently.    For the...most part? I read 9 or 10 chapters, which was pretty good, all things considered. XD 

>> Read 10 books.    #epicfail *cries for the poor neglected books* 

>> Post on Chosen Vessels and Stories by Firefly once a week.    *cough* Um, SBF yes. 

>> Stop making so many insane goals for myself. *grins*      Another failure. XDD 

~ May Goals 

>> Order first-draft copy of War Tears. *squealing* 

>> Finish A Soldier's Story. 

>> Host another Imagine This writing challenge. 

>> Apply beta-readers suggestions/critiquing to Dandelion Dust. 

>> Finish an alpha-reading project. 

>> Read 12 books. 

>> Write 10,000 words. 

So how was your month? Easter? Did you write words? Read books and posts? See those epic movies/listen to the songs? Am I overlooking something I should be asking you? ..... Are you looking forward to another writing challenge? TELL ME ALL, HUMANS.