cover reveal: ‘dancing & doughnuts’ by Rachel Kovaciny

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Do you know how happy I am to participate in this cover reveal?  Ridiculously happy!!!  I’ve had the privilege of reading a draft of Dancing & Doughnuts and let me assure you…if you liked Cloaked, you’ll love D&D (it sounds cliched to say, but it’s true).  It’s a sweet, happy mystery filled with lovely characters and descriptions of doughnuts that will send you out to buy some ASAP.

Before we get to the beautiful cover, let me share a few things about Dancing & Doughnuts.  It’s a retelling of the classic fairytale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses (one of my favorite fairytales, incidentally), and it’s book 2 in Rachel’s series Once Upon a WesternDancing & Doughnuts is set for release in August 2018 and here’s a little plot summary so you won’t go into the story completely blind as to what’s going on:

Someone’s been spiking the apple cider at a Kansas dance hall owned by a family with twelve daughters. No one in the small town has been able to find the culprit. A hungry Civil War veteran drifts into town and decides he’s going to solve this mystery for them and earn the reward the family is offering.

And you can find the book on Goodreads here and Rachel Kovaciny herself here!

SO.  Let’s get to the real reason we’re all here: the cover reveal!

….

Are you ready???

Dancing and Doughnuts cover

*SQUEALS*

Isn’t it wonderful?  As with Cloaked, I love the textures and the general style of it all.  Reminds me of a Lois Lenski illustration, in a way.  Super vintage and I love it.

What do you think of the cover?  Do you plan on reading D&D? (You should!)

Eva

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awesome stuff to do this summer

Inspired by this lovely post.

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~Have a water fight with your little siblings.

~Perfect your own lemonade recipe.

~Ditto for iced coffee.

~Sing along to Disney songs at the top of your lungs.

~Read your way through all those random books you got for free on your Kindle.

~Spend an entire day at the library.

~Watch ‘The Greatest Showman’ for the millionth time.

~Go for a walk in the woods and pretend you’re Katniss.

~Buy something pretty for your room.

~Eat corn on the cob.

~Think of a skill you’d like to have and then Youtube yourself into becoming an expert.

~Bicycle.  (And if you don’t know how to, make 2018 the year you learn!)

~Don’t forget to drink TONS of water.

~And don’t forget to be awesome!

What are your plans for this summer?

Eva

 

‘shoes & spies’: my current WIP

Fairytale retellings are the bomb.  I love them.  Can’t get enough of them.  So, of course, I had to write one.  I started writing Shoes & Spies for NaNoWriMo 2017 but only got about 25,000 words written during that month.  Just this morning I finished my first draft of about 48,000 words.  I know it’s pathetic that it took me that long to finish it, but I’m not the most consistent writer and for the longest time I had no idea how the story would end (so, obviously, I couldn’t write toward an ending).

But, yes, the first draft is now finished.  I’ve still got sooooo much work to do before the story is anywhere near presentable, but I can work with what I’ve got.  First drafts are supposed to be messy, right?  I love this quote from Shannon Hale, because it so perfectly sums up the process of writing a first draft.

So.  The actual story.  I don’t have a blurb or back cover copy yet, so I’m making this up as I go along.

Resistance worker (are they called workers or what?), Lili Verre longs to do something more than simple courier work.  When she finds an invitation to a German party, she knows she has to go, even when her guardian forbids it.  With the help of her best friend, Lili goes to the party anyway.  But when she loses her shoe, one with secret information hidden in its hollow heel, and a German officer finds it, her life takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

That’s the gist of it, anyway.

Then there are all my lovely characters:

  • Lili Verre, my protag. (‘Lili’ because Lily James.  Of course.)  She has a Tragic Past and a professor father who taught her how to speak German.  Basically, she wants to get back at the Nazis for all they took from her and she also wants to keep her little family together.  She’s terrified of losing them, which isn’t the greatest thing when you’re in the middle of a war and your whole adopted family is part of the Resistance.
  • Gard and Marc and Marianne Granger.  One family.  Gard is Marc and Marianne’s dad (they’re twins).  He was super close friends with Lili’s dad and took her in after her parents died.  He’s pretty strict, but that’s because he doesn’t want his children (or Lili) to take unnecessary risks.  Marc has daddy issues.  Marianne loves Gone With the Wind and her brother.
  • Walter (I’m sure I gave him a last name but I can’t remember it right now).  German officer.  A Christian.  Has genuine struggles with reconciling his loyalty to his country (and the “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…” verse) with where he sees the war and Nazism and Germany headed.  Quiet, but a strong personality.
  • Monsieur Ducard.  Owner of the shoe shop where Lili works.  Elderly and very awesome.

I don’t have a Pinterest board for this story (yet), so I don’t have any collages or casting or anything for this story. (Except that Gard is older Glenn Ford.  Like, so much.)  And, like I mentioned before, there’s still a ton of work that needs to be done with plot and characterization and all that.  But I’m ready for it.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into my WIP! (Also, I don’t think the title Shoes & Spies quite fits.  Because there aren’t really any spies in the book?  Suggestions?)

Eva

‘the greatest showman’ book tag

Basically like the last tag I did.  Rules are: answer the questions and tag whoever you want.  Using my graphic is optional, but recommended. 🙂

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~’The Greatest Show’: Name a book that’s as entertaining as a circus

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  Probably my favorite of the Lunar Chronicles.  Intense and interesting.

~’A Million Dreams’: Name a book that’s set in a fantastical world

I haven’t read much fantasy, so I’ll have to go with Gregor the Overlander (+ entire series).  I mean, the Underland isn’t toooo much different from the world up here.  Except for all the giant animals.  And the pale skin and violet eyes on the humans.  It’s a little strange and a little scary and a little magical (though not literally – there’s no actual magic in the series).

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~’Come Alive’: Name a book that makes you outrageously happy

I don’t know about ‘outrageously’.  But The Blue Castle (by L.M. Montgomery) is a wonderful book.  It doesn’t start happily, but it definitely ends that way and it always cheers me up.

~’The Other Side’: Name a book that changed your mind about something

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery.  I used to think that all the books after Anne of Green Gables were boring.  Ha!  Now the entire series is one of my very favorites, and Rilla of Ingleside is one of the best of the lot in my opinion.

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~’Never Enough’: Name a book that you’ve re-read more than once

Soooo many.  I’m going to go with While Mortals Sleep by Jack Cavanaugh because I’ve re-read the entire Songs in the Night series at least three times.  Probably more.  And you want to know why?  Because it’s GOLD.  Historical fiction gold.  I love it so, so much.

~’This Is Me’: Name a book with a character that reminds you of yourself

That’s tough!  Maybe Liesel, from The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak)?  We both read and write and love books and Max and Hans and Rosa and Rudy.

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~’Rewrite the Stars’: Name a book with a forbidden romance

Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  Cath is supposed to marry the King but then Jest comes into her life, with his eyes the colour of the lemons that grew in her bedroom and, well, he sweeps her off her feet by being simply…Jest.  Their romance was doomed right from the start, what with Cath destined to become the Queen of Hearts and all, but it didn’t keep me from rooting for them and loving their relationship.

~’Tightrope’: Name a book with an adventurous main character

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.  Duh. 😉

~’From Now On’: Name a book with a wonderful family (related or otherwise)

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  I know, I know.  I’m frightfully unimaginative.  I use this book as the answer to everything. (Which it kind of is.)  You’ve got the Curtises as a family, but then you’ve also got the larger family of the gang.  Darry, Sodapop, Ponyboy, Johnny, Dally, Steve, Two-Bit.  Together, they form one of the awesomest, most tight-knit families in all of literature.

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__________________________________________

I tag:

And here are the questions again (for your copy-and-paste convenience):

~’The Greatest Show’: Name a book that’s as entertaining as a circus

~’A Million Dreams’: Name a book that’s set in a fantastical world

~’Come Alive’: Name a book that makes you outrageously happy

~’The Other Side’: Name a book that changed your mind about something

~’Never Enough’: Name a book that you’ve re-read more than once

~’This Is Me’: Name a book with a character that reminds you of yourself

~’Rewrite the Stars’: Name a book with a forbidden romance

~’Tightrope’: Name a book with an adventurous main character

~’From Now On’: Name a book with a wonderful family (related or otherwise)

Eva

the les mis book tag

Stole this from Twist in the Taile.

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~I Dreamed a Dream: a book that didn’t live up to your high expectations

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan.  This book had the potential to be so good!  Four Christian teens on a missions trip in a South American country and a bitter, disillusioned Marine must band together to reach home when a revolution breaks out in said country.  But the characters killed the book.  They were cardboard cutouts, stereotypes of the worst kind, and it was painful to read. (The only good character was the aforementioned Marine.)  Such a disappointment.

~The Confrontation: your favourite literary duo

This is actually a trio, but I LOVE the Baudelaire siblings in A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Actual siblings goals.  For real.

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~Castle on a Cloud: a book that comforts you

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass and any book by Katherine Reay.  The Candymakers has been special to me ever since I read it for the first time.  Logan’s sweetness (haha!), generosity, and ability to look squarely at the world even when the world ducks away from him speaks to my heart.  And Phillip makes me cry.  Ditto for Miles.  And Daisy…Daisy adds sugar and spice to the group.  As for Katherine Reay, her books are gentle reads that at the same time aren’t afraid to talk about real issues and struggles.

~Red and Black: an unpopular bookish opinion

Jo. And. Laurie. Would. Have. Been. Horrible. As. A. Couple.

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~Do You Hear the People Sing?: a book you read because of hype

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Never should’ve read it. #regrets

~One Day More: a book that kept you reading into the next chapter (and the next and the next)

Fear is the Key by Alistair MacLean.  Such a nail-biting read!

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~On My Own: a ship of yours that isn’t canon

Everyone in The Hunger Games + happiness.

~Drink With Me: your favourite bookish friendship

Hamlet and Horatio keep coming to mind, for some reason…

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~Bring Him Home: that one character you will do anything to protect

Johnny from The Outsiders.  He’s a precious cinnamon roll with a heart of gold, also horribly abused by his parents and he wouldn’t know what love is if the guys didn’t take care of him and THAT LETTER and basically he deserves all the hugs.

~Empty Chairs at Empty Tables: a character death you don’t think you’ll ever recover from

SO MANY.  Honestly, there are probably dozens.  Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities), Dan Kean (Jo’s Boys), Finnick Odair (Mockingjay), Johnny Cade (The Outsiders), Rab Silsbee (Johnny Tremain), everyone who dies except Bane (Underland Chronicles), Queenie (Code Name Verity), Jest (Heartless)…and the list goes on.  Please commiserate with me in the comments.

code name verity: this quote from the book was one of the most emotional scenes I've ever read in a book. i sobbed

If you’re a fan of Les Mis, you’re tagged!

Eva

life of pi: a story that will make you believe in God?

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Recently, I asked for blog post ideas from my followers and one of my them asked some interesting questions about Life of Pi.  Those questions were so good and so intriguing that I thought I might as well dedicate a whole blog post to answering them.  There’s no doubt that Life of Pi is a beautifully written work.  But it’s also not without its problems and I’ll address some of them as I answer these questions.

Question #1 – Which ‘explanation’ did you think was the truth?

(Going to be major spoilers here, just so you know.)

So, a little background to the above question.  After Pi makes it to the shores of Mexico, he gets asked a bunch of questions by a couple insurance inspectors (because their company had insured the ship that sank).  They don’t believe Pi’s tale of all that happened with him and the animals (especially Richard Parker).  So, out of frustration, Pi spins another tale where all the animals have been replaced by people on the ship (the ship’s cook is the hyena, Pi’s mom is the orangutan, Pi himself is Richard Parker) and the inspectors believe that story, though they admit that they like the one with the animals better.

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As I read Pi’s alternate version of events, I didn’t think seriously about the fact that he could have been an unreliable narrator for the last three hundred pages and was only now telling the truth.  I suppose that could be the case.  But, like the inspectors, I prefer the story with the animals (not least of all because cannibalism is a thing in the other version) and…I believe Pi was a completely reliable and truthful narrator.  I believe (as much as you can with fiction) that there really was a tiger called Richard Parker and that he and Pi shared the same uneasy existence together on the lifeboat/raft/floating island.

Question #2 – What do you think it said about the existence of God?

First of all, I’m confused by the idea that a work of fiction could make someone believe in God.  And yet that’s what Yann Martel says that Life of Pi will do.  If the book was a true story, I could understand Martel’s claims, but as it stands, Life of Pi is fictional and I can’t see how it would make anyone believe in God. (Though Martel’s considerable writing talent and creativity has an undeniable Source.)

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Secondly, I would say that the god Martel writes about in Life of Pi is not the true God of the Bible.  Pi follows three religions – Hinduism, Islam, and Catholicism.  According to Pi/the author, each of these religions worships the same God.  But how can that be when Hinduism has hundreds (if not thousands) of gods, Islam does not accept the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and Catholicism believe that Jesus is God’s Son?  You can’t reconcile these three religions.

Overall, I’d say that Life of Pi gives a muddled, theologically unsound view of God and His attributes.

Question #3 – What did you think of it as a whole?

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Life of Pi is problematic.  There’s no doubt about that.  There’s a little swearing and some iffy theology and gory parts that make me want to gag (I loathe hyenas now).  I’d only recommend it to truly mature readers.  But it’s also a powerfully drawn novel that highlights some of the things I love best about books.

 

  • The writing is phenomenal.  Yann Martel writes with a clearness and conciseness and interestingness that gripped me from the very first page.  The way he wove the story together and kept building the tension between Pi and Richard Parker…it was masterfully done.
  • The characters!  Pi was a great hero, complex and brave and troubled and unique.  I also liked Pi’s family and The Author with his little asides and Richard Parker was actually the legit best.  Totally a character in his own right.
  • Have I mentioned that the plot was just plain interesting?  I think the Great Books can sometimes be a little boring because they’re so literary and the language gets in the way of the story.  But Life of Pi has none of that.  The writing is wonderful, yes, but the plot is even more so.  My favorite part is the floating island.  That whole little episode was so clever and intriguing.

 

So, those are just a few of my thoughts concerning Life of Pi.  It’s an amazing book, though I wouldn’t recommend it wholeheartedly.  And the movie is quite good as well, quite faithful to the book.  And gorgeous, the kind of movie aesthetic that I crave.  Oh, and speaking of movies, I watched ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ last night and that bit when Irrfan Khan’s character was talking about Peter’s dad, Richard Parker, made me give a delighted snicker. (How can a snicker be delighted?  I don’t know, but it was.)  BEST. (And, I have to believe, unintentional, since ‘Life of Pi’ came out after TAS-M.)

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Have you read Life of Pi?  What did you think of it?

Eva

DNF’ed: why I’ll put down a book

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It’s no secret that I love books.  They’re wonderful friends.  But I’ve often stopped reading different books for one reason or another and I thought I’d share those reasons with you because it’ll make for an interesting blog post. (And I don’t write enough bookish posts on this blog.)  Now I will say that if you went on my ‘Read’ shelf on Goodreads, you’d probably find at least one book for each rule/guideline I’ll list here.  Nobody is consistent 100% of the time.  But I try not to be a hypocrite, so…yeah.  If you have any questions about my reading choices, let me have ’em in the comments!

// Swearing //

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Authors, take note!

I can handle some bad language in the books I read.  But if there’s multiple f-bombs or uses of Jesus’s name as a curse word, I’ll set it aside.  I do tolerate more swearing in a book if I own that book and can mark out the words as I read but, again, if there’s tons of bad language, I’ll probably give it up.

// Sexual Content //

I don’t have a meme for this. 😛

If it’s just one scene, I’ll skip it and move on.  But if there’s multiple scenes and/or sexual references and crude comments, I won’t keep reading.

(I also usually won’t read books with LGBTQ+ characters.)

// Magic //

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This is a little bit of a tricky subject.  I’m mostly fine with stuff that’s more natural and organic to the storyworld.  But witches, wizards, sorcery, magic spells…I’m out.

// Messes with my mind //

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This one is a little difficult to explain.  As an example, there’s the Percy Jackson series.  I read all the books and really enjoyed them (LUKE IS STILL THE BEST *cries*) but by the end of them (and also after starting a couple other of Riordan’s books) I found that they were messing with how I thought of God.  I started to think of Him a little more…flippantly?  I realize that this doesn’t happen to everyone and I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t read Rick Riordan’s books (he’s an amazing author), but personally, I’ve decided I won’t.

There’s also books that change how I think of certain fictional characters.  A couple examples: I recently stopped reading a book called Little Women and Me mainly because the March girls were all portrayed as nasty, simple-minded prudes and Laurie was really weird as well.  I don’t want that version of the characters stuck in my head!  And then there’s the novelization of ‘Risen’, which I didn’t get very far into because I didn’t like how Angela Hunt was handling the character of Lucius.  Maybe I’m weird for DNF’ing books just for that reason, but it’s how I am.

// Boring //

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And, finally, if a book is boring, I’ll more likely than not refuse to finish it.  The quote “So many books, so little time” is legit, people, and I don’t have time to waste on books that don’t grip me.

There you go!  Five reasons for why I may not have finished that I’m-sure-it’s-totally-cool book you recommended to me last week. 😉  What are some things that will make you DNF a book?

Eva

P.S. As you may have guessed my blogging slump is a thing of the past.  Thanks for all the encouragement!