Back to the Classics Challenge 2018

2018 is just a few weeks away, and I’m excited to say that I’m going to be joining the 2018 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge! You can find all the guidelines, and join the challenge yourself, over on Books and Chocolate. Here are some of the classics I’m planning to read next year (although, knowing me, this list will probably change!) All links go to the book’s Goodreads page.

  • A 19th century classic: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I’m always up for another Dickens book! Hoping I’ll be able to find this one on audio, though.
  • A 20th century classic: The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald. This is on my school list for next year, and of course it’s also a really famous classic.
  • A classic by a woman author: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.  I’m supposed to read this for school next year, and I’m very interested to see what the original story is really like.
  • A classic in translation: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne (English translation; originally written in French). I’ve been wanting to give this a reread (it’s probably my favorite Verne novels), and I have a nice audiobook version. The real problem will be making time to read it!
  • A children’s classic: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read this once, a very, very long time ago, and I think it’s probably about time to read it again.
  • A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction: Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. I’ve been reading the Lord Peter Whimsy mysteries recently, and a lot of people seem to think that this is one of the best books in the series. I believe we have an audiobook version, so I’ll probably listen to that.
  • A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction:  The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain. I hadn’t even heard of this book before this challenge, but it looks to be very humorous and fun, so I hope I shall enjoy it.
  • A classic with a single word title: Christy by Catherine Marshall. Another book that’s on my school list for next year. It looks quite interesting.
  • A classic with a color in the title: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. It’s been a while since I read this, and as it’s an old favorite of mine I should probably get around to actually reading it again… 😛
  • A classic by an author that’s new to you: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. My mom just got the new audiobook version, and really enjoyed it, so I think I’ll be checking it out as well.
  • A classic that scares you: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’ve heard that a lot of weirdness goes on in this book, so I suppose I’m rather nervous to actually read it…
  • Re-read a favorite classic: Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. The Emily series is my favorite L. M. Montgomery series, but I’ve only read the books once! So, I’ll be endeavoring to read them all again for this challenge, or at least read the first book.

I’m super excited to join this challenge! I haven’t been reading as much as I should recently, so hopefully this will get me off to a good start in the new year. Anyway, thanks so much for reading this post! You can follow me over on Goodreads for updates as I read some of these books. Will you be joining the challenge? Don’t forget to check it out over on Books and Chocolate!

See you again soon.

🙂


Back to the Classics Banner

The Writer’s Book Tag

Hey, everyone. I’ve never been tagged by anyone before, but over the last two days I was actually tagged twice by two different people for two separate blog tags! Confusing? Yes. Awesome? Of course! I’ll be doing the first tag, the Writer’s Book Tag, today, and then the second tag on Thursday. Thank you so much to Jenn @ The Book Nook for tagging me! Here goes…


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First Draft

A book or series that you’ve never read before.

I have several books on my shelf by authors that I like, but which I haven’t yet found time to read. Most notably, Guardians of the West by David Eddings, has been sitting there for several months now, unopened. I love-love-loved Eddings’ Belgariad series (it is yet another entry on the ever growing list of books and series that I need to reread but don’t have time to reread), but I haven’t yet found time to crack open this first book of the Malloreon.


Second Draft

A book or series you didn’t like as much the second time you read it.

Sue me, but I’m going to have to say the Harry Potter books on this one. I was obsessed with them the first time through, but later rereadings haven’t been kind to this series. I own all the books, including the companion Hogwarts Library set, but I haven’t touched them in a couple of years.


Final Draft

A book or series that you’ve liked for a really long time.

There are a ton of books that I’ve loved since I was little, but I don’t think any of them have made such a big impact on me as The School Story by Andrew Clements. It tells the story of a twelve year old girl who publishes her own book, and it really inspired me to become a writer myself, and dream big even at a young age.


Killing Off Your Characters

A book or series that made you cry.

This is a bit difficult, because I don’t usually physically cry about books, and I can’t clearly remember any times that I actually have. One book that did make me really sad, though, was Fairest by Marissa Meyer. It tells the story of the villain of her Lunar Chronicles series from the perspective of said villain, and the story and writing were honestly super heart wrenching and very, very sad.


Plot Holes

A book or series that disappointed you.

I really, really, really wanted to like Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, but it was so dark and problematic and very immoral, and all the fantastic, spellbinding writing in the world couldn’t rescue it for me.

I was also very disappointed by the end of A Series of Unfortunate EventsAfter building up and sustaining and exciting mystery over thirteen books, the ending fell flat and failed to explain much of anything.


Writer’s Block

A book or series you never finished.

Once again, two series come to mind. I started reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, just to see what all the hype was about. The first book was not at all impressive, with poorly constructed dialogue and undeveloped writing skills, and although the second book was more interesting, I dropped it after I heard that the later books contained R-rated content. Not worth my time, especially if I can’t even finish reading the story because of the content.

I also never finished The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. The first book, Eragon, was okay, but I had to force myself to finish the massive second book, Eldest, because it was so boring, and the third book was even worse, so I dropped it after about five chapters worth of overly flowery description and unexciting action.


Feedback

A book or series you’d recommend to anyone and everyone.

There are literally so many answers I could put here, but I’ll try to narrow it down to just a few…

First of all, I always recommend the Evenmere Chronicles to everyone. It’s not very well known, but the writing and characters are amazing and it’s a very fresh take on a genre (epic fantasy) that seems to have been done to death in recent years.

I also never hesitate to recommend any and all of N. D. Wilson’s books. His novels are, of course, fantastic (I own well-loved copies of all of them, except Leepike Ridgehis first book, which for some reason I never seem to have gotten hold of), and his two non-fiction books, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl and Death by Living are also amazing takes on the Christian faith. 10/10 would recommend everything N. D. Wilson.


That’s it for my answers! Today, I’ll be tagging three awesome bloggers to join in the fun:


Thanks for reading today! I hope you enjoyed all my answers, and that you check out a couple of those books I recommended back there *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*. Also don’t forget to check out Katie @ The Act Diary, who created this tag.

See you again soon!

🙂

The Tangle is Here! (Plus a Special Bonus)

It’s November 4th, 2017, and you know what that means! Wow. I honestly can’t believe that my second book is out today… It feels like I was drafting Behind Her Mask was Death just yesterday, and now that’s been out for over a year, and The Tangle is here as well! I can’t wait to see what happens next…

If you haven’t seen it yet, The Tangle‘s cover has been slightly updated since I last posted about the book. You can see this new, final cover below, as well as the links to find the book in both paperback and Kindle formats:

The Tangle Ebook Cover

 

Get The Tangle in paperback

Get The Tangle on Kindle

 

 

 

 

 



As promised, there’s also a little something extra in this post! I love making playlists for books and stories, and today I want to share a special playlist for The Tangle with you. These are songs that inspired aspects of the book, or that I chose because they fit the mood or the themes of the story. I hope you enjoy this playlist!


The Tangle Aesthetic Playlist:

Picture Perfect by Hidden Hospitals

Something Divine by NYVES

Still Breathing by VERIDIA

Black Honey by Thrice

Deadman by Glasslands

Chasing Fears by Graceful Closure


Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the playlist, and that you like the book as well. I am so excited to finally be releasing The Tangle to the world! Don’t forget that The Tangle Blog Tour happens next week, from the 6th to the 9th.

See you again soon!

🙂

The Tangle Blog Tour: Official Announcement

I’ve been talking for a bit about setting up a blog tour for The Tangle, and finally everything’s in place! Everything’s been scheduled, and I can finally let you know the official dates of the tour, and all the blogs it will be stopping at. Mark your calendars, or follow me on social media, where I’ll be providing links to all the awesome content during the tour!


The Tangle Blog Tour: Official Schedule 

Tour Dates: 6th – 9th of November, 2017

November 6th: Interview with Kyle Robert Shultz

November 7th: Book Review by S. M. Metzler

November 8th: Book Review and YouTube Interview with Hannah Heath

November 9th: Book Review by Brianna Merritt


I’m super excited about this blog tour, and I can’t wait to share this book with you! The Tangle comes out November 4th, but you can still pre-order the Kindle Edition on Amazon, and enter for a chance to win a signed paperback copy on Goodreads.

Thanks for reading this post! I’ll see you again soon.

🙂

Wednesday With Words: A Receiving Heart

Hey, everyone! It’s been a little while since I did a Wednesday with Words post (or posted on this blog at all, to be honest…), so I thought I’d get back in the swing of things today with a few words of wisdom from William Wordsworth:

Wordsworth


On my reading list this week:

Mansfield Park by Jane Austin: I haven’t been reading much besides school books recently, but I have picked up Mansfield Park. I’m currently reading a biography of Jane Austin as well, and its very interesting to see bits and pieces of her life experience show up in her work.


I hope you enjoyed today’s Wednesday with Words! There are tons of exciting things coming up both this month and November, so keep an eye out for that!

See you again soon.

🙂

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Beautiful Books Tag 2017

Hey, everyone! You may remember that for the past few months I’ve been doing the Beautiful People link up with Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. However, I didn’t do one in September because… Cait didn’t post the questions. But just when I was starting to think that one of my favorite blog link ups had left the internet forever, lo and behold! Cait and Sky are back this month with a new set of questions, and a new theme for October.


What exactly is Beautiful Books?

Beautiful Books is a special October theme of the Beautiful People meme hosted by Cait and Sky. It’s designed to help authors share some fun facts about their current work-in-progress/NaNoWriMo project. From Cait’s blog:

Sky and I host Beautiful Books so we can focus on  our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book. Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up! 

Beautful Books


DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that everything here is or will be canon in the future. I have spent a fair amount of time developing these characters, but some stuff is still unclear in my own mind, so I will try to answer the questions as best I can.

Also, the project I’ll be using for today’s post is still unfinished/super secret, so some details about the characters and plot will have to remain secret for now…


The Book

Shell, the first book in a YA sci-fi duology.

Current status: First draft is complete, and the beginning was completely overhauled and a few major plot changes were made since I last talked about this project. Currently I am focusing on writing the first draft of the sequel before I continue editing Shell.


The Questions

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve had the idea for the majority of this year, which is about how long I’ve been working on the book.

Shell was originally inspired by this video about hackers, which was created by one of my favorite YouTube channels, the Game Theorists. It’s a super cool (if slightly unnerving) look at the vulnerabilities in technology and how hackers can exploit them, and it really got my creative juices flowing!

2. Describe what your novel is about!

Without giving away too much, Shell and it’s sequel are about a black-hat (criminal) hacker who is recruited by the British government to fight for the good guys. Along the way, she gets betrayed and makes new friends and all that good stuff. 😛

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I went ahead and made a photo aesthetic for Shell (which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now). None of the photos are mine. They’re all from either Unsplash or Pinterest.

Shell Aethstetic 1

Also, I probably haven’t talked about this before, but I love creating playlists for stories! I’ve narrowed it down to just three songs that I’ll share with you today, but I feel that these songs express the some of the themes and atmosphere of Shell very well.

Shell Aesthetic Playlist:

How We Do It by Lights

Car Radio by twenty one pilots

Real Life by Aaron Sprinkle

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

Here are three of the major characters in the book, with a quick profile for each.


The Main Character: Mae Ki-Nari

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Fabulous photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

Quick profile: Sarcastic, smart, disconnected from the real world around her. She has difficulty relating to people in real life. She spends most of her time online. She loves music; it’s her safe space.

(I did an entire Beautiful People post about her, which you can find here.)


Dr. John (last name as yet undecided)

Dr. John

Photo found on here Pinterest.

Quick profile: Distant, detached, treats everything (even emotions) in a purely scientific manner, but he is still a very kind and considerate man. He’s a scientist for the British government and lives for his work.


Marta Mayberry

Marta

Photo found here on Pinterest.

Quick profile: Strong willed, intelligent and commanding. Secretary for the director of the Secret Service (or is she?) She has a motherly, ‘tough love’ attitude with Mae that Mae strongly dislikes.

 

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Yeah, no, definitely by howling. 😂 I don’t really know? I guess I am not very prepared??? Why am I surprised by this fact??? I don’t really do anything to prepare, I just open a Word document and stare at it and die???

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

All. The. Things.

Okay, true, but more specifically I am looking forward to exploring all of the themes and issues dealt with in the book (see the answer to question 10), and also writing a character with anxiety. Mae deals with social/general anxiety throughout both books, so writing her is challenging, but I am quite enjoying the challenge.

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting

The beginning of the book is set in Ontario, Canada, my favorite place on Earth. The rest is set in London, England.

A fair amount of Shell currently takes place inside a single building. (I say currently because of course this could change at some point, but I’m not sure)

Shell takes place in the near future (mid 2030s), so I have a fair amount of liberty with the details of the settings, but I’ve still spent an extensive amount of time on Google Maps (especially Street View) researching the placement of certain London landmarks.

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

I don’t want to give too much away, but Mae definitely isn’t happy with her new job working for the British government, and she is actively trying to leave. Obviously, however, a lot stands in her way (I won’t say exactly what, because spoilers).

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Again, I’m afraid it would be way too big of a spoiler to tell you exactly how she changes… but I guess you could say that she starts to come out of her shell a bit. 😛

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

I hope to deal with a lot of themes and issues in the duology, including something I am very interested in, which is the idea that by communicating so much over the internet, people use empathy and find it easier to dismiss, attack, or hurt people online than they would if they were speaking in person. Some other themes include our perceived personas online vs. who we really are IRL, as well as a discussion of internet surveillance and other fun stuff like that. There are actually a fair amount of heavy topics that come up in the story (meaning that these books will probably need several rounds of very intense editing to make sure I address everything properly… 😓)

How do I want readers to feel? I’m not exactly sure. I’d like to deliver thrills and excitement, as well as a thoughtful commentary on serious internet stuff (and also hopefully show the reader how anxiety feels, and how it affects everyday life). So, yeah, some pretty hefty goals, but I figure aiming high never hurt anyone. 😅


Thanks so much for reading my Beautiful Books post! I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out Cait’s original post, where you’ll find links to other writers who have done this meme, as well as the list of questions and a place to link up your own Beautiful Books post.

As always, this fabulous meme is hosted by Cait and Sky.

 

Win a Copy of The Tangle!

Hey, everyone! As I recently announced, my paranormal suspense novel The Tangle is coming out November 4th. If you’re at all interested in the book, you can check it out on Goodreads, and also enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a signed copy!

Check out The Tangle‘s Goodreads page

Enter the giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Tangle by Aria E. Maher

The Tangle

by Aria E. Maher

Giveaway ends October 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 


Thanks so much for reading! See you again soon.

🙂

Announcing: The Tangle!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I’ve been posting a novel called The Tangle on Channillo.com as a chapter-by-chapter serial. I’ve put a lot of work into this story, and I really want everyone to be able to read it. Unfortunately, nobody has been reading it on Channillo, and while I’m glad I chose to write a serial for them (if I hadn’t, I never would have written this book!), I think it’s time to move on. The Tangle will be coming down off Channillo permanently.

Don’t worry, though! Today I am officially announcing the release date of my next book, which, as you may have guessed, will be The Tangle! Here are all the details you need to know about my upcoming novel:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense

Audience: Young Adult

Release Date: November 4th, 2017


It was supposed to be River’s eleventh birthday. It turns out to be nothing but a nightmare.

When River finds herself imprisoned in a strange house, belonging to a mysterious man called Uncle, she only knows one thing: She must escape. But every power in the house, it seems, is bent on keeping her within its twisted walls. The creatures that patrol the halls may be deadly, and River may have nothing but her wit and her will, but, with the help of several unlikely allies, she just might be able to make her way out of the house before she becomes nothing more than a mindless prisoner.


I’ve also updated the cover design! Mostly, I just fixed up all the text so that it’s a lot easier to read. You can see the new cover below:

Cover (Front) For eBook and Promotional Material


I am super excited about this book, you guys! The ebook will be available for preorder within the next few days, and you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more news. I’ll be using #TheTangleBook to share updates and info. Hopefully, there will also be an opportunity to win some cool Tangle swag, and I’m going to talk to some of my blogger friends about a blog tour!

Wednesday with Words: Are Women Human?

While I was away on vacation, I had the opportunity to read Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers, a small collection of essays on feminism and women’s place in society. This book is probably the sanest, simplest, most Christian take on feminism you will find, and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone interested in women’s roles and the issues of gender equality. There are so many great quotes in this book, but today I’ll be sharing this one, which seemed super pertinent to me with the news of a new female Doctor Who fresh in my mind.

Dorothy L Sayers

 


On my reading list from the last few weeks:

This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab: I’ve been meaning to read this duology for a while, and I finally got around to it during vacation. The concept was super original and Victoria Schwab is in no way overrated as a writer. Overall, I really enjoyed these books, and they definitely kept me up late turning pages!


Wednesday with Words is hosed by ladydusk.

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Challenging Ourselves: Why Writing Needs to Be Difficult

Here’s something that should be said more often: Writing is really, really difficult. From the outside, it looks deceivingly simple. You open up a Microsoft Word document, bang out somewhere around 40,000 words, and suddenly you have a novel. What could be easier? Why are those authors over there whining about the pitfalls of editing and the horror that is first drafts? What do they have to complain about? Writing is easy!

I used to think like that. I used to think that if it wasn’t easy for me, than I must be doing something wrong. I must not be a good enough writer. I’m procrastinating too much. My sentences are incoherent. Most the time, I fail to have an actual plot until I’m about half way through the first draft. I must not have had enough practice. I am not worthy to call myself ‘author’ unless I can write a new book every three months and have it be completely fabulous the first time around.

Here’s the thing, though: none of that is true. Writing is not easy. We don’t write because it’s easy. We don’t write so that, someday, it can be easy. We write because we have to, because it challenges us, because we are called to write. We write for the same reason that musicians make music and painters paint.

This might not sound super relevant, but stick with me for a moment: I work at a gym, a jungle gym, where kids come to learn parkour and gymnastics. Before I got a job there, I took classes. My teacher, now my boss, had a few things to say to us students about challenging ourselves. I am greatly paraphrasing, but, “If you’re doing something and it’s easy, then you’re not learning anything,” he told us, “Pick something difficult, something that you can’t do, and do that until it’s easy. Then pick the next difficult thing.”

So when we write, and it seems impossible to get it just right even on the third or fourth of fifth draft, let’s not complain (not too much, anyway). In that moment, you are learning something entirely new. You are learning the ten thousand ways that don’t work in order to find the way that does. You are mastering something difficult. You are improving your writing, even if in the moment it looks like absolute rubbish. Writing is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. If we wanted to do something easy, we would be shuffling papers in an office somewhere. Writing has to be difficult so that we can learn to write better.


Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. What do you think? What are some things you find difficult, or some difficult things you’ve mastered or learned from in the past? Let me know in the comments.

🙂


Challenging Ourselves