Book Boyfriend Box: AKA Why I Haven’t Been Blogging

So I’m still here (though it’s okay if you didn’t miss me or notice I was gone). But I’ve been pretty preoccupied with my new project. As some of you followers might now, I love subscription boxes. I think they’re genius! But I was tired of being disappointed with the boxes I was subscribed to month after month and not finding the perfect box to fit my needs.

So I started one of my own with the help of Taylor!

I’m proud to introduce you to Book Boyfriend Box!

Book Boyfriend Box, inspired by popular books and characters (particularly of the swoon, male variety), brings a new favorite book and book crush to your door every other month. I wanted to create a box with not only awesome items that any bibliophile can enjoy, but also introduces you to new characters for us to love and cherish.

We debuted in September, and the first box was a great success that I’m super proud of. Especially because I didn’t really know what I was doing haha. I even had my first interview, which you can check out here. This is a dream come true for Taylor and I, as we’ve both always wanted to be entrepreneurs.

I’m having so much fun putting these boxes together and trying to find the perfect book! But, yes it does take up a lot of my time. And on top of that, little Ollie is a rambunctious toddler now, so we have our work cut out for us.

img_5755Our December box is on sale now, and by golly, it is perfect! The theme of the month is “Love Letters,” and along with an amazing newly released novel, the box will contain Jane Austen inspired products for all those Mrs. Darcys out there. Seriously this box is sweet! If you’re interested in picking one up, use the code BBBWELCOME at checkout for a 10% discount off your first box.

And that’s what I’m up to everyone! Book Boyfriend Box! For fangirls by a fangirl (and her nerdy hubby).

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Where Have I Been? / Ice, Ice Baby: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Here I am. I am indeed well and alive. Thanks, Daley Downing, for reaching out and checking up on me. I’m sorry I haven’t been around for anyone that missed me. I needed a break. I didn’t know I needed a break nor did I intend on taking one. It just sort of happened.

A couple things led to that.

For one, I’ve been busy with a new business venture that I’m super excited about. I’ll give you details on that later.

I realized I had worn myself out. I was losing track of why I started this book in the first place. Instead of writing and reading for the sake of my love of books, I’d become a bit too consumed with deadlines, obtaining ARCs, cranking out reviews, and reading for others more than for myself. I was losing sight of why I enjoyed reading and blogging in the first place.Obviously, those things can be important but they had overtaken my life to a point where I wasn’t enjoying myself, and I’m not enjoying reading than what is the point?

Basically, I felt like I was losing my personality and becoming a review robot.

And I’d rather write less and be awesome.

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SO! I will keep blogging and reviewing but expect some changes! A few things I’d like to do differently are more concise reviews. I was reading Kirkus Reviews lately, you know the ones that are always on the Praise section on the back of your book, and I realized that they are incredibly and wonderfully short! They don’t dance around their opinion. They use precise language to make their point and are done with it. I’d like my reviews to be more like that so I don’t dread writing them.

Second, I was manic about making sure I wrote Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the very least sometimes more. While I think consistency is important, I have a one-year-old that needs my time and attention. So from now on, expect a post on Monday. If I write more than that, great. If I don’t, then oh well. That’s the consistency I can offer at this point in my life.

Hopefully though, if I’m writing shorter reviews for the most part, it won’t be such a chore to write a post multiple times a week.

I hope you understand and that this won’t dissuade you from keeping up with me! But if it does, I totally understand…sort of. Kind of. Okay not really because I’m awesome, darn it!

With further ado, here is my review of the upcoming book Frostblood, which is to be released in January 2017!

27827203Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: January 17th, 2017

Series: Frostblood Sage, #1

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 4/5

Ruby is a Fireblood, born in a kingdom ruled by the powerful Frost King, who has decreed an end to her kind. After she is imprisoned and her mother killed by his soldiers, she heartily agrees to an opportunity to kill the king, even if it means learning to take control of her unpredictable and dangerous powers after years of suppressing them.

Frostblood reads like an early Sarah J. Maas novel though with more grit and less fluff. The world building was superb, complete, and made a wonderful backdrop for our characters. It was easy to imagine the Frost King’s palace, icicles and all, as though you were actually there.

I though that Ruby and Arcann where fairly well-developed, though they could’ve been pushed a bit further and it may have been more interesting for their romance to be drawn out. However, I still enjoyed them as characters. Both are sassy and strong while still being flawed and having believable likability.  What I really would’ve liked to see though was more development of the secondary characters. I was quite sad that Rasmus, the Frost King, was so one-dimensional as I personally found him to be incredibly interesting and would’ve enjoyed learning more about it. The priests as well were a bit lackluster.

Overall though, a great first novel which gives readers a good glimpse at Elly Blake’s potential.

Interview with Carol Grace Stratton: Author

Hey gang!

(I had to say that. 80’s for the win!)

8592575So it’s time for another exciting author interview. I love interviewing people, hearing about their experiences, and getting some good food from thought.

Please welcome, Carol Grace Stratton! Carol is an author of contemporary and Christian fiction. As a Christian myself, I appreciate works that are faith promoting and uplifting and admire writers who undertake the task. Carol recently released her first novel, Lake Surrender, which won this year’s Illumination Award Medal for Inspirational/Romance Fiction.

Wow, congratulations!

Official Plot Summary:

29853421Quicker than you can say “downsized, unemployed, and divorced,” Ally Cervantes finds herself with the Pacific Ocean in her rearview mirror as she and her two children head to Lake Surrender in rural Northern Michigan to live with her aunt. The dry hills of California are a metaphor for her empty soul, but she can’t afford to wallow in self-pity with an autistic son who can’t make eye contact and a precocious twelve-year-old daughter counting on her to get it together.

With no other available jobs, Ally steps through the only open door for employment, working as head cook at a dilapidated Christian camp. Problem is, she doesn’t cook and doesn’t like religious fanatics.

But despite everything, she finds herself strangely hopeful as she learns her journey ends where the lake begins.

Find it on:

Amazon | Goodreads

On to the interview!

 

Q. Tell us about your journey to authorship. When did you decide to start writing books? Have you always been a writer at heart?

A. I’m not sure I wanted to write when I was young, but I was a voracious reader, reading in the bathtub at night while the rest of my siblings banged on the door. I had my first piece published as a sixth grader in the local newspaper, which was very exciting. I really liked English and song writing but didn’t become serious about writing until I was middle aged. 9/11 had just happened and I felt moved to write about it. I walked into the Zionsville Sentinel two days later, handed them my piece, and asked if they wanted to print it. Yes, just like that…boy was I green. And to my astonishment, they did!

What I have learned about myself is I love to communicate (just ask my family).  I did have a personality test done recently and came out as someone who likes to entertain people, which is what a good story does. If you find yourself drawn to telling stories, you might be a fiction writer too.

Q. Lake Surrender begins with your protagonist, Ally, in a rather dire but all too real situation. Why did you decide to begin the story like this? Was it inspired by real life events?

A. James Scott Bell, a wonderful author, taught a fiction class that changed my life. One thing I remembered him saying is that readers love to see the protagonist in trouble. Think about it! We want to emphasize and cheer on some one who is struggling. And a good story starts off with a lot of conflict. I felt a single mother with an autistic child is someone who fights against the odds in life. I appreciate and applaud them. Although I’ve been married for years, I have a lot of single friends and I’ve taken bits and pieces from their lives.

Q. Ally’s son is autistic. This always hits home for me with two autistic brothers. What experiences do you have with autism? Do you know an autistic person? Why did you include this in the story?

A. My degree is in Recreation Therapy and even though I don’t have a special needs child, I have friends that do. I also have a nephew who is on the spectrum. Although Lake Surrender isn’t my first book, it’s my first novel. I worked in an autistic classroom for 2 1/2 years and knew I had to write about my kids.

One of my goals while writing the book was to introduce an autistic child, describe, and show some of their behaviors (i.e. spinning and hand flapping) so that those who haven’t been around them can understand them better. I make Benjie a likeable kid and give him a starring role in solving a mystery so that he is a hero at one point in the story.

Q. Ally becomes the cook at a Christian camp. You yourself went to camp. Any funny camp stories you’re willing to share?

A. I have a funny camp story about my youngest daughter who went to Bair Lake Bible Camp in Michigan. When I drove down to pick her up, the entire camp was preforming some songs. I was far back while watching the show and saw my daughter with what looked like a tumor growing out of her head. When I met up with her I saw she had a tangle the size of an orange on the side of her head. She told me she couldn’t get it out the first day so just decided to not comb it all week. I ended up cutting all of her hair short. Ahh, ten-year olds!

Q. Your faith is obviously very important to you. How does your faith affect your day to day life?

A.  I have had a personal faith in Jesus Christ since I was a teenager and love to write about living out one’s faith in real life. As I have raised four children, lived through my parents’ divorce, the death of a grandchild, 22 moves, job layoffs and rebellious teenagers, I can say I don’t live in a Christian Bubble. Because I have the comfort and friendship of the Lord, I want to share my faith naturally through my life, conversations with others and writing. If Christianity was fake, I would have dropped it years ago. I have a long track record with Jesus and He is worthy to serve.

Q. And last but not least, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A. As someone who has 33 rejections on my first novel, an unpublished children’s story, I had to learn to persevere through a lot of failed attempts. My advice, if you want to be a published writer, is to start wherever you are at and write. Write for a school newspaper, letters to the editors, or for freebee magazines in  your community who are looking for content. If you cut your teeth on articles and smaller pieces, you will learn how to write tight, cutting out unnecessary words. Those clips will open doors to new opportunities.
As you develop confidence, you will discover your voice and your genre. And when you get that first published piece, frame it and go out to dinner to celebrate! You’ve accomplished a lot.
If you have any questions about writing, please feel free to contact me at contact@changingzipcodes.com. Please stop by my website too, at carolgstratton.com.

Thanks again, Carol, for the insights and advice! It was a pleasure working with you, and we here at Fictional Fox wish you continued success!

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Ignite the Shadows by Ingrid Seymour

25903205Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: October 22, 2015

Series: Ignite the Shadows, #1

Genre: Science Fiction, YA

Rating: 3/5

I was given a copy of Ignite the Shadows in exchange for a review in prep for the upcoming sequel. I liked it. I wouldn’t call it particularly memorable, especially within the saturated genre of science fiction. I was excited to read it though as it’s set in my hometown of Seattle. The plot strongly reminded me of the Deaths of Tao as the two contain mainly similar elements: an unsuspecting hero, aliens that live inside the brain, two opposing groups trying to control the world using humans as their vessels, the evil group infiltrating governments and positions of power.

But that being said, I would be interested in reading a sequel. There was a great twist at the end, that left me going what, no! The book can’t be ending here!

I do like endings that leave me flabbergasted.

The book is definitely action packed and fast paced, beginning with a motorcycle chase as Xave and Marci spy on Clark’s dealings with a mysterious group called IgNiTe. For me, the book was almost too fast paced. I was just plopped right in without any clue what was going on and little exposition. In fact, I’d say most of the book went from 0 to 90 in seconds.

Our narrator, Marci, is spunky but impulsive. She read like a real teenager to me: snarky, over-the-top, and a bit bratty. But I appreciated that. I get sick of YA teenage characters that don’t act like teenagers at all. I could also understand where her frustration often rooted from, which helped me empathize with her.

I’m not really into sentient alien stories, but I will say the aliens in this story were pretty darn creepy. I don’t do tentacles. Bleh!

The thing about this book that didn’t jive with me was the so-called science used to explain the abilities of the aliens and certain characters. It didn’t sound real to me at all and broke my suspension of belief. It’s a problem I often come across in science fiction that completely jars me out of the story. I wish authors felt less of a need to explain every nuance in these instances.

Overall though, if you enjoy fast paced action books with a strong heroine and a little dash of romance (perfect amount in my opinion), then this is a read for you.

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Some Favorite Harry Potter Moments

So, I had three great posts planned for this week. Did I do any of them? Nope. Because I’m both busy and lazy. Sorry! I guess I’ll do them next week? Maybe I will write them now while Oliver is busy watching Big Bugs Band.

But! It did leave me with a chance to do this impromptu post! I’m glad it did because I would’ve felt foolish if I’d passed up this opportunity to gush about Harry Potter.

Happy Birthday to Harry and Neville! Here’s to these two heroes!

Continue reading “Some Favorite Harry Potter Moments”

The Ophelia Syndrome: A Character Analysis and Discussion

shakespeare_williamDespite the fact that few women of Shakespeare’s age had rights or social power, Shakespeare gravitated towards writing strong, developed, and empowered women, the writer seemingly having a modern opinion of the female sex. However, Ophelia from Hamlet, is often criticized for not being able to think for herself and her eventual decline into madness. Critics generally perceive her as weak and baseless. The criticism of Ophelia is so strong that there’s even a condition named after her called the Ophelia Syndrome, where a person relies upon another’s thoughts and opinions to form their own action.

Based strictly on the script, her role in the story and relationship with other characters, particularly Hamlet, come off as ambiguous. Her obedience to her father makes her seem passive, and whether or not Hamlet truly cares for her is unclear. Truly, the text is open for interpretation on Ophelia’s function and character.

What do you think Ophelia’s role in the story of Hamlet is? Do you think she is a strong, independent character or a weak one who solely does what she is told? Did Hamlet just string her along or did he truly care for her?

Continue reading “The Ophelia Syndrome: A Character Analysis and Discussion”

Alice Giveaway via Instagram

I’m working with the publisher Ace to give away a copy of Alice by Christina Henry, the first book in the Chronicles of Alice duology. I take a lot of pride in my Instagram account, and I will be hosting the giveaway there! I hope you’ll all consider jumping in!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY VIA INSTAGRAM

 

It’s a great giveaway for a great book! To read my full review of Alice, click here.

This giveaway is open to everyone and will call on your awesome photography skills! We’re looking for some awesome photos.

📕Prizes:
A paperback copy of Alice by Christina Henry to be fulfilled by the publisher and an Alice in Wonderland Funko Pop (I’ll give you some options to pick from) to be fulfilled by me via Amazon.
Giveaway closes July 31st


📖 Rules:
1. Must be following me
2. Take your best, beautiful creepy Alice in Wonderland inspired picture. Tag me in it and use the hashtag #fictfoxgiveaway
3. Leave your picture up till after the giveaway ends!
4. For an additional entry, repost this photo (you may add it in a collage with your original entry photo.) Mention me in the comments and also add the hashtag!
5. For additional an additional entry, tag up to three friends in on this photo. Each friend=1 extra entry.
6. For an additional entry, go to my blog (link in bio) and comment on my review of the duology. The post is entitled Magicians and Axe Murderers. Make sure you include your Instagram handle in your comment.
7. No private or giveaway accounts please