I am so excited to be reviewing a book by a friend of mine today! The Stone of Enchantments by Elise Mayor (and illustrated by Trinity Jade) is the first book in The Wayfarers series. Avid readers of the middle grade and fantasy genres will find this book to be a real treat. I sincerely enjoyed this novel, and I am sure that you will too. Read on to learn more about the book and what I thought of it.
My Rating: Five Enchanted Stones out of Five
About the Book…
The lives of the four Carrington children–Sylvester, Anne, Jeremy, and Jenny–are forever changed when they stumble into an extraordinary world–inhabited by elves, dwarves, and even griffons! The siblings are quickly thrust into a grand adventure, a wild quest for the Stone of Enchantments. Their only chance of returning home, they are forced to battle obstinate kings, savage creatures, and harsh conditions in order to bring back the Stone.
Click Here to Buy The Stone of Enchantments in Print or Kindle on Amazon
Griffons and dwarves and elves, oh my!
The Stone of Enchantments by Elise Mayor is a book that truly takes readers on an adventure with the characters. The characters themselves are interesting and fun to read about. However, I do have to admit, while I love all of the characters, my favorite character is Jenny Carrington (read the book and you’ll see why!).
The fantasy world, from the worlds of the elves and the dwarves to mountains and valleys, is truly fascinating and imaginative, and it makes for an even more exciting adventure. The illustrations by Trinity Jade add to the fantasy world and storytelling. I especially love the colorful cover illustration. The plot of The Stone of Enchantments itself is engaging and will keep you reading. It can be hard to put this book down!
If you love fantasy, beautiful illustrations, Narnia, or a book that will transport you to another world, then The Stone of Enchantments is the perfect book for you. I think that middle grade and fantasy readers will love this book, and that you will too. Go grab your copy, and let me know what you think! 🙂
I have been homeschooled since preschool. Now, as a senior in high school, I will honestly say that I am so grateful for this. I have loved all of the opportunities that being homeschooled has given me, and I would not change a thing about my education (unless we are discussing skipping geometry…). However, there is something that I hate about being homeschooled.
That something is questions like the following and the reactions and responses that they elicit.
I am sure that I am not alone in this! Here are the questions that I hate….
Where do you go to school?/What school do you go to?
This question is no fun because it opens up the floodgates for these questions…
Do you like that?
Okay, let’s take a step back here. If I said that I went to such-and-such high school, would you ask me something like, “Well, do you like that whole public school thing? Do you like your school? Are you getting an education?” No, you wouldn’t ask me that, because going to public school is “normal.”
How do you make friends/socialize?
I’ve been asked about my socialization at least a thousand times. To be honest, this is kinda insulting. By saying this, people are insinuating that I have no friends or that my social skills are nonexistent.
Homeschooled kids are not some oddity to be questioned.
We are normal kids. Just because we do schoolwork at home does not mean that we are weird or should be incessantly questioned.
If you want more homeschool truths, check out this video by Blimey Cow “How to Respond to Homeschool HATERS.” I laughed SO HARD but also could not help but admit that it was SO TRUE. Definitely give it a watch!
Homeschool friends: What’s a question that YOU hate?
Three: You’re going to fail. You’re going to fall down. You’re going to mess up. And that is okay. When you do fail, give yourself grace, get back up, and try again (maybe even in a different and better way). Take comfort and rest in the fact that you serve a God who loves you no matter how you fail, a God who will never ever fail you.
Four: Worrying does nothing but drain you of your joy, your life, and your time. Cast all your cares on Christ.
Five: Forget the mirror. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Remember what He thinks of you when He looks at you, His creation. Beautiful.
Six: Treasure your good memories of the past, but do not let the bad ones define you. Look forward to the future, but do not focus on it only. And remember: Treat the present as a gift.
Seven: Love is hard, but love is worth it.
Eight: Give thanks.
Nine: Life is short. Eat the cake. Dance in the rain. Take a dare. Go on the trip. Say yes (or say no!). Live life to the fullest, because every day is a gift.
Ten: Home is not a place. Home is people. Home is family and friends. Wherever I am with them, I am home. I can be in the high desert of Utah or the mountains of Washington, and as long as I am with my people, I am home.
Eleven: You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.
Twelve: Being the odd one out is not a bad thing.
Thirteen: Hold on to hope.
Fourteen: You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. -A.A. Milne
Fifteen: Stories have the power to change the world.
Sixteen: It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to use up a box of Kleenex or cry until you cannot cry anymore. It’s okay to curl up under your covers and just cry.
Seventeen: Write the story of your heart. ❤
Eighteen: You and I are loved by God with a never-stopping, never-giving-up, un-breaking, always-and-forever love. Always.
I hope that you all are having a fantastic weekend. Today, I am very excited to be doing a creative tag created by my friend Elizabeth Anne of Stories and Sketches. This looks like a lot of fun, so let’s jump right into it! =)
What is a Creative Tag?
Elizabeth Anne explains it best:“A creative tag is a blog post, in which the author asks a list of questions about creativity, and ‘tags’ a group of people, who then answer the questions on their blog.”
What is your favorite way to create?
What is your favorite quote about creativity?
How do you overcome “creative block”?
What inspires you to create?
What is your favorite way to create?
My favorite way to create is through words. Specifically, I like to use the mediums of poetry and prose (fiction and nonfiction) to create with words. Check out the “My Stories” tab at the top of my blog to learn more about some of my stories! 🙂
What is your favorite quote about creativity?
I have so many quotes about creativity (specifically writing) that I love. Here’s just one of them:
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
-William Wordsworth, English romantic poet
I like this quote because I believe that it applies not only to writing, but to all creative disciplines. ❤
How do you overcome “creative block”?
I’m really bad at this sometimes, but I overcome creative block by finding more inspiration or pushing through it. In my opinion, the best ways to overcome creative block are to create and see what happens, to get more inspiration, or to take a brief break.
What inspires you to create?
Many different things inspire me to create. Here is a list of some of them:
A cause or issue that I feel passionate about raising awareness for or resolving.
Other forms of art, such as paintings, songs, pictures, or other stories or poems!
It was outside a Georgia Chipotle on a grey day–a heavy, humid, sad-feeling one.
Dad was inside a nearby store grabbing something, and Mom stayed in the car with us kids. Naturally, as a six year old girl, I had enough curiosity to kill nine cats and then some. I stared out my car window at a homeless man and his dog across the parking lot. The man held a cardboard sign. I don’t remember what it said.
I watched, fascinated, as a man in a nice outfit–if my foggy memory allows me, it was a blue button-down shirt, tie, and slacks–came out of the Chipotle with a drink and a bag. I assumed that it was his lunch.
It wasn’t his lunch.
He walked right over to the homeless man and gave him the drink and lunch sack.
“Why did that man give him his lunch?” I asked. Mom gave some answer about loving others and asked if I wanted to give the homeless man something. Frightened at the thought of approaching a stranger, I said no. Besides, he and his dog had a nice lunch now… Right?
Soon, Dad came back to the car and we drove away from the homeless man and his dog. It was a small thing from a long time ago, and yet all these years later, I can still remember.
I will never forget the man that gave that lunch away, because ever since then, he has inspired me to be like him.
Hope that you all are inspired by these musings of mine. Stay stellar, my friends! ❤
I had so many plans for this blog for 2020, plans that I shared with you all in this post. Included in all of those plans were plans for some fun posts this February talking about romance in fiction, as well as lots of other plans and ideas for later. And guys, I failed. I haven’t been able to keep up with any of those plans.
A friend once shared this with me: You can do anything, but not everything.
I’ve been trying to do everything. Because I’ve been so busy with high school, preparing for college, work, and life, I haven’t prioritized time to do things that I love: Write, read, and blog. Not doing this has been another failure of mine.
Part of this is because of the pressure that I have put on myself and my blog.
My blog used to be something that I LOVED to do. I loved putting together a post, adding some pictures, and answering comments. But recently, I started putting pressure on myself to be more “professional” and “put together.” I went from sharing my ramblings to trying to create structured posts that people would actually find “interesting.”
All of this takes more time and energy, and honestly, it made blogging less enjoyable to me. I miss sharing my random thoughts and little stories with you all.
So from now on…. I’m going to share more of my stories and more of what I want to write on this blog, not just what I think other people want to see.
I’m not going to be a perfect blogger, and that’s okay. I’m not going to be perfect as I navigate trying to juggle all of these exciting new aspects of my life and trying to keep my priorities straight. I’m going to fail even more, even in my new endeavors. But you know what?
It’s okay to fail sometimes. We’re all human. We’re all bound to fail in some way.
When we do fail, let us remember to give ourselves grace, get back up, and try again (maybe even in a different and better way).
And let us also take comfort and rest in the fact that we serve a God who loves us no matter how we fail, a God who will never ever fail us.
Maybe this is random and scattered (who am I kidding, it is!). But it’s something that I want to share with you all, in case anyone else feels anything like this. If you do, you’re not alone. ❤
Ah, romance in fiction. I’ve got a serious love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, all of the cute moments have me begging for more. But on the other hand, one of the things that drives me crazy about romance in fiction is the sheer number of clichés I’ve read. Some of the clichés drive me crazier than others, and yet some I find myself asking for more of. Without further ado, here are three romance clichés that I dislike and three romance clichés that I love.
Dislike: Instantly Falling in Love
“And then their eyes met from across the room and they just knew that they were meant for each other…” It wouldn’t be entirely untruthful to nickname the cliché of “insta-love” as “Disney-love.” After all, nearly every Disney princess movie has moments of insta-love (although in Frozen, this cliché is flipped beautifully). Yes, attraction happens, but falling in love with someone in a matter of minutes is utterly ridiculous.
This idea of “love at first sight” is not only unrealistic, but it also is super shallow (and not the smartest thing in real life, if you know what I mean). Who falls in love with someone after a glance from across a coffee shop or a quick conversation about the book you’re reading? How can you know it’s really love if all you know about the guy is that he has nice blue eyes?
Love: Damsel in Distress
I LOVE THIS CLICHÉ SO MUCH. I blame it on the Disney princess movies that I will never get enough of. Just ask my siblings. But honestly, what can be more romantic than a prince saving his princess from a fire-breathing dragon, a poison-apple induced sleep, a sea-witch, or an evil stepmother?I’M KIDDING I’M BEING SARCASTIC. Or am I? 😉
I like this cliché because it totally goes against the “strong” women cliché (check out this post to see my rant thoughts). However, I will say that sometimes, this cliché can make women look weak. It has to be done right, or not at all.
Dislike: Love Triangles
Newsflash: LOVE TRIANGLES ARE KINDA DONE. If I have to pick up another book with a love triangle in it, I might cry. Yes, love triangles can be done well (or even be enjoyable), but honestly, we’ve seen it a thousand times before. Nothing seems to have changed. It’s so easy to figure out which guy the girl is going to pick! Not only are love triangles super predictable, but they add weak (and unneeded!) tension to the plot.
There have been books I’ve read that have love triangles in them just to have love triangles. The love triangle adds nothing substantial to the plot. In some cases, all of that unneeded baggage about which boy the main character is going to the dance with can take away from the story. I don’t want to know about Suzy’s inner turmoil about Eddie and Bob. I want to care about something more than the love triangle in a book and see something more original, something more real.
Love: Hate to Love
Don’t you love it when two characters start out hating each others’ guts and then end up falling madly in love? I know that I do! Not only is it slightly humorous, but it is also so stinking adorable when it does happen. ESPECIALLY if a good dose of sarcasm is thrown in the mix. For example, Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite hate-to-love relationship. Another book that had a great hate-to-love relationship was Unblemished by Sara Ella (read my review by clicking here). Read it and then we can fangirl together, okay? =)
Dislike: Insecure Girl Meets Prince Charming
This cliché is so common it’s not even funny. We go from a main character thinking that nobody loves them to suddenly meeting their “true love” and then suddenly having extremely high self-esteem levels. In this cliché, characters feel worthless without their love interest. But when Prince Charming comes along, the mirror is no longer as harsh. The critics’ voices become muted. They’re happier. They’re content. They feel worth something, now that someone so wonderful loves them. This is cute, but isn’t this cliché teaching readers to find their worth in what others think of them?
Instead of encouraging readers to find their worth in what the Lord thinks of them and the beautiful people He made them to be, this cliché teaches readers that their worth comes from having a Prince Charming to tell them how lovely they are. Truthfully, our worth comes from the God who created us and loves us more than we can imagine, not a tall, dark and handsome guy.
Love: Romeo and Juliet
What I mean by Romeo and Juliet is FORBIDDEN LOVE. But this cliché does need to meet some conditions for me to love it. For example, I actually have to LIKE the characters. Other conditions include their love being forbidden for a good reason. For example, a family feud is not a good reason to not fall in love. Just saying. Another condition is that I would like for it to have a happy ending (I’m looking at you, Shakesepeare). Please. Happily ever afters make me VERY happy.
What are some romance clichés that you love? What are some that you hate?
I’ve loved reading ever since I was a little girl.
I probably wouldn’t love reading as much if it wasn’t for my parents cultivating this love when I was little. And I am so glad that they did! Books have not just entertained me. They have taught me so many things and taken me to so many faraway places and shown me so many truths. My life is better because I love to read.
If you want to cultivate a love of reading in the kids in your life, here are five ways to do it!
Please keep in mind that some kids just don’t like to read, and that’s okay! These suggestions aren’t given in hopes of forcing kids to love to read but to help kids discover a love for reading.
Make books available.
My parents made books available to my siblings and me in nearly every room of our house. A basket of books in a corner, a bookshelf in the playroom…. Everywhere there were books. And we read them. A lot! 🙂
Go to the library.
I loved when my mom would take me to the library, be it for story time or just to pick up some books. The fun decorations and rows of books about nearly anything and everything made me so excited, as did attending fun library events! Summer reading programs were always fun too.
Read to them.
Reading books with my parents is one of my favorite memories of my childhood. We read books ranging from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones to the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. Reading aloud to a child is special, and to a child, being read to is a comforting and special experience.
Set an example by reading yourself.
Seeing my mom read and enjoy it, as well as seeing my father’s multitude of books, encouraged me to read. If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing that you already set a good example by reading a lot. 🙂
Make Reading Fun!
There are lots of ways to make reading fun for kids. Here are just a few ideas!
One summer, my mother created a chart for me to track how much I’d read. A certain number of books would earn me a prize, from a small treat to a trip to Starbucks. You had better believe that I read as many books as possible!
Do book-related activities. For example, have a snack of muffins after reading If You Give a Moose a Muffin or make fox puppets out of socks after reading Fox in Socks. You can even do stuff like this with books for older kids! Seed-cakes and tea for The Hobbit, creating and acting out a play for Little Women, planting flowers for The Secret Garden… The possibilities are endless!
Talk about the books you read! Starting a conversation about books makes them more real and meaningful. Plus, it can be a lot of fun to talk about books and reading.
Did you love to read as a kid? Do you have any tips to share?
I’m a little late to be saying that, but better late than never, right? 🙂
As you all can probably see, Notebooks and Novels has gone through a few changes. For one, the platform is new! I switched from WordPress.org to WordPress.com (more on that in a later post). That means that the blog has a new look too.
I’m so excited for all that 2020 is going to bring!
I have some fun things planned for this blog and my Instagram account, @micaiahsaldana, this year. Here are a few things coming your way…
In February, I’ll be talking about all things romance in fiction on my blog! I’ll be talking about romance in YA and Christian fiction, recommendingsome good, clean romance novels, and giving some tips on crafting a good romance in your own stories.
I’m going to be creating some resources for young writers ages 8-12. I plan on making writing worksheets and posts that focus on the craft of storytelling geared towards young writers starting out in their writing journey. I’m very excited to be sharing this content with you all!
I’m going to host my first bookstagram challenge on Instagram this year! I don’t know when I’ll launch it, but I’m hoping sometime this spring.
Other fun things coming up include some recipes, mini book reviews, and more posts about faith!
2020 is going to be amazing.
I’m so blessed to have you all along for the journey!
Thanksgiving is here, and, to most of us Americans, that means turkey dinners, a couple I’m-thankful-for statements, the Macy’s Day parade, and football. It’s easy to be thankful when there’s a giant turkey on the table with all the trimmings, family and friends gathered around in a jolly mood, and your favorite team is winning on the big screen. But what about when there’s no pumpkin pie, fuzzy feelings, or smiling faces? What happens then?
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ some final instructions before closing. He says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Did you see that? Give thanks in all circumstances.
But wait a second there, Paul, you may say. Are you sure about that? Giving thanks in ALL circumstances? What about when my grandma dies or I have to move to another state? What about when my grades are low and my best friend just starts hating on me for no reason? You want me to be thankful when everything is, well falling apart and going downhill?
Yes, actually. That is what Paul is saying.
More Than A Hiding Place by Emily S. Smith chronicles the story of a woman who lived during World War II in Haarlem, the Netherlands. This woman’s name was Corrie ten Boom. The daughter of a watchmaker, Corrie loved Jesus with all of her heart. When WWII came to her country, she and her family helped many Jews escape the clutches of the Nazis (I actually got to visit Corrie’s house and saw where they hid the Jews!). Sadly, the ten Boom family was caught by the Nazis. Corrie and her sister Betsie punished by being sent to a concentration camp, Ravensbrück.
The barracks where the women in the camp slept were filthy and crowded. Lice was a big problem amongst the prisoners. One day, Corrie complained to Betsie about their living conditions. And do you want to know what Betsie said?
“You must thank God for everything, even for the lice.”
And guess what? Those lice are the one thing that kept the German guards from searching the barracks. Therefore, Betsie and Corrie could hide a tiny Bible that they used to hold Bible studies twice a week in the barracks, even though the Bible was forbidden. The women of Ravensbrück found hope in the Word and studied it eagerly. It was then that Corrie learned to be thankful for even the lice.
Give thanks for everything. Isn’t it beautiful that a woman who’s been through so much can give thanks for a thing such as lice in the filthy barracks of a concentration camp?
Give thanks for everything. Give thanks in all circumstances. Two radical challenges in today’s world.
This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge all of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to give thanks for everything no matter the circumstances. To adopt an attitude of thanksgiving for all we’ve been richly blessed with, though it may not seem like it at the time. Turkey or no turkey, great circumstances or not-so-great ones, let us all take Paul’s instruction and follow Corrie’s lead.
It’s God’s will for us in Christ Jesus, after all.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:21
Be sure to check back next week for some more of my thoughts on thankfulness and for practical tips on cultivating a life full of gratitude, even after Thanksgiving! In the meantime, I want to know… What are you thankful for?