10 of My Favorite Quotes About Reading and Writing

Hello, Everyone!

I hope that all of you are well. Today I thought that it would be fun to share some quotes that I love about reading and writing. I hope that they inspire you as much as they inspire me! 🙂

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

                        -George R. R. Martin

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

                        -C.S. Lewis

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

                        -Ernest Hemingway

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” 

                        -Desiderius Erasmus

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

                        -C.S. Lewis

“If a story is in you, it has to come out.”

                        -William Faulkner

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

                        -Edgar Allan Poe

“Words dazzle and deceive because they are mimed by the face. But black words on a white page are the soul laid bare.”

                        -Guy de Maupassant

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

                        -William Wordsworth

“The world calls them singer and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”

                        -L.M. Montgomery

What is one of your favorite quotes about reading or writing?

Romance Cliches That I Dislike (And Some That I Love!)

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?

5 Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading in the Kids in Your Life

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?

5 Books to Cozy Up With This Autumn

Autumn is, in my opinion, the perfect season for reading.

The cold weather, the cozy sweaters, the warm drinks in whipped-cream topped mugs… What could be better weather for snuggling up with a book? To help you find a great book to read this autumn, here are five books to cozy up with this autumn.

Fallen Leaves by Tessa Emily Hall

Selena Taylor has a fresh start in Lake Lure, but can she reunite her broken family by finding her father and brother?

One look at the cover of this sequel to Purple Moon is all it takes for one to realize just how perfect of an autumn read Fallen Leaves is. And not only does the cover scream autumn, but the story itself has so much autumn in it. Needless to say, if you’ve read Purple Moon, read this. If you haven’t read Purple Moon, read Purple Moon and then read this. 😉

Buy Fallen Leaves on Amazon ~ View Fallen Leaves on Goodreads

Just One Thing by Anna Schaeffer

Sadie Grey made a new life for herself in Georgia, but can she start over in Seattle?

This sequel to All of This has a beautiful cover that just screams AUTUMN! I’ve just started reading Just One Thing, and I can already tell you that it is really good! I should have a review coming to Goodreads soon. In the meantime, click here to read an interview with the author, Anna Schaeffer.

Buy Just One Thing on Amazon ~ View Just One Thing on Goodreads

The Hidden Deep by Christa Kinde

Homework, apple pies, football, autumn leaves, and… Angels?

The Hidden Deep is perfect for readers who love a dash of fantasy. Actually, the whole Threshold series is amazing for anyone. My sister Maya and I LOVE these books (I spelled love in all caps because that’s how much we LOVE THEM). The Threshold series was one of my favorite series when I was younger, and after rereading the series this autumn, I love it even more. ❤

And yes, it’s a sequel. I need to stop recommending sequels….

Buy The Hidden Deep on Amazon ~ View The Hidden Deep on Goodreads

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Alice Grace Ripley came to eastern Kentucky to get away from small-town gossip, but a mystery, a kind old woman, and a rather odd library keep her there.

Really, Wonderland Creek is a great read for any time of the year, but I find that reading it at this time of year, autumn, makes it even better. I mean, mountains, librarians, mysteries… Doesn’t that scream autumn to you too? If you can’t read Wonderland Creek, or really any of these great books, this November, be sure to read them soon!

Buy Wonderland Creek on Amazon ~ View Wonderland Creek on Goodreads

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

Sarah Miller’s life turns upside down when she befriends Tucker O’Shay, a boy with a fatal illness.

This is another tale that is wonderful during any time of year, but even more so during the autumn season. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex and a plate of shortbread cookies nearby while reading this. Click here to read a review of This Quiet Sky.

Buy This Quiet Sky on Amazon ~ View This Quiet Sky on Goodreads

What is a book that you would like to read this autumn?

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10 Literary Landmarks I’d Love to Visit

The list of places I’d love to visit is longer than any novel.

Especially the places that have to do with literary history. Many of the places that I would like to visit are in Europe, but some American literary landmarks have made their way onto my list as well.

Here are a few literary landmarks that I’d love to visit. Would you like to visit them too?

Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare was born in the cute English town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and I have schemed and dreamed of visiting. If I ever do get to visit, I plan on bringing a copy of Romeo and Juliet and reading some of my favorite parts in the home of the great bard.

221b Baker Street / The Sherlock Holmes Museum

221b Baker Street is the real life address of the famous fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes Museum would be so fun to visit–why, I’m sure that one could hear Sherlock shouting at Watson as he rushed out the door to solve another case. “Come, Watson, come, the game is afoot!”

The Brontë Parsonage Museum

The Emily and Charlotte Brontë have written some of my favorite novels, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and I am looking forward to reading Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’m sure that to visit their old home in Haworth would be like stepping into a part of their world.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

Jane Austen’s novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are two of my favorite novels not only for their characters but also for the immersive Victorian setting. Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire is the only place where Jane Austen lived and wrote that is open to the public. I would love to see a place where Jane Austen wrote and lived! It looks like such a charming house.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

This beautiful bookstore in Paris looks like something that was plucked out of a bookworm’s daydreams. It has a fascinating history and shelves upon shelves of books. Something just as cool? You can stay in this bookstore as a Tumbleweed. All one has to do is read a book a day, write a one page autobiography, and help out around the bookstore for a few hours. If that doesn’t sound like something from a novel, I don’t know what does.

The American Writers Museum

There’s a whole exhibit with beautiful typewriters. And then another exhibit where you can type away on them. Who wouldn’t want to come here?

The Emily Dickinson Museum

Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets (“Not in Vain” is one of my favorite poems of hers). Her reclusive life is fascinating and her poetry is beautiful and poignant. Just as with the other authors’ former homes, I would love to visit Emily Dickinson’s home to see where she wrote some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read.

The New York Public Library

If the famed lions outside this library’s doors don’t fascinate you enough, the Rare Book Division housing rare copies of works such as John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the exhibit housing the original Winnie the Pooh and his friends certainly will. And of course, it’s a LIBRARY. Who wouldn’t want to visit a library?

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is probably my favorite book. Orchard House is one of the top places I’d want to visit, as Orchard House is where Louisa wrote Little Women and where Little Women is set.

Literary Walk in Central Park

The Literary Walk in Central Park is home to statues of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Fitz-Greene Halleck, and William Shakespeare. It seems like it would be a good place to meander about and write, to contemplate and dream. And of course, Central Park itself has made several appearances in good books throughout time.

What is a literary landmark that you would like to visit?

Interview With Author Anna Schaeffer

I’m so excited to be sharing an interview with author Anna Schaeffer with you all today!

Anna Schaeffer is the author of All of This and Just One Thing. I read and LOVED All of This and am so excited to read its newly-released sequel Just One ThingI am so lucky to have been able to interview Anna, and I am confident that she will inspire and encourage you through this interview as she has inspired and encouraged me through this interview and her books. Keep on reading for my interview with Anna!

Tell us three random facts about yourself!

1. When I was seven, I wrote a country love song. My family still laughs about it, but I was convinced I would end up with a Grammy one day. That was the start of my writing career.

2. Road trips are my favorite kind of vacation.

3. I make playlists for everything. I have playlists for writing different kinds of scenes, getting ready for work in the morning, and even for driving in the car on a rainy afternoon. 

Where did you get the inspiration for All of This and Just One Thing?

One summer in college, I took a walking/jogging class for a wellness credit (I’m not exactly ambitious when it comes to athletics…). One day I got to class early, so I decided to sit in my car and just listen to the radio for a minute. The song “Down” by Matt Kearney came on, and I heard these four lines in the second verse:

“It was Monday night under the street lights
She’s turning seventeen in seven nights
Out on the fairgrounds walking in monotone
She kicks a bottle as empty as her soul.”

 The song goes on from there, but for some reason, that one image stuck with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A disillusioned, sixteen-year-old narrator started to grow in my imagination. The final book has nothing at all to do with the song, but that one image sparked what became All of This. 

I’d written a novel earlier, but the narrator hadn’t been all that different from me. So I decided to challenge myself. I was born and raised in the South, so I wrote Sadie as a girl from the Pacific Northwest who visits the South for the first time and experiences the culture shock of Southern culture. 

And, obviously, I’m not a runner…so guess what Sadie does when she’s stressed? She runs. I used that walking/jogging class for inspiration and drafted the novel that summer. 

That was supposed to be it. I wasn’t planning to write a sequel. But a year before All of This was even published, a friend and I took a weeklong trip to Seattle (where Sadie’s from). On the plane ride home, I knew Sadie’s story wasn’t over, and I wrote the synopsis of Just One Thing.

How does your faith impact your writing? 

My faith is my reason for writing. I want to entertain readers with a good story, but I also want to gently invite them to think about the bigger picture and how they fit into it. Readers get to walk beside characters who experience life in all of its weird, messy, and sometimes painful moments. And as my characters begin to discover their purpose, it’s my hope that readers begin to think about theirs too. 

There’s a line in All of This that says, “As long as your heart’s still beating, you’re not done. You still have a purpose. God still has big plans for you.” That’s why I write—to share with readers that there is more to their story than what they’re going through. No matter who we are or what we’ve done, we’re loved like crazy by the Author of our stories. And He still has big plans for us.

What has God taught you through writing and publishing your books?

So many things. But I’d say one of the biggest has definitely been this: True success as a writer isn’t defined by my sales, reviews, or followers. What matters is that I’m loving God with everything I’ve got. That includes my writing. My job is to do my best with what He’s given me and to trust Him to take care of the rest. I write in response to who God is and what He’s done for me. If He is glorified in it, I’m successful. 

Through writing, I’m also reminded that we are made in the image of a creative God. That means we all have some kind of creativity inside of us. How awesome is it that we get to participate in creating things that contribute to the beauty of the world and point back to the ultimate Creator? 

If you had to describe Sadie Franklin in three words, what would those three words be?

Independent, sincere, and scrappy.

If you could spend an afternoon at a coffee shop with one of your characters, who would it be and why? What drink would you order?

As much as I love her, I won’t say Sadie, since we’ve spent so much time together already over the years 😉 I’d love to have vanilla lattes with Melina Elliot, Sadie’s aunt. Mel is wise and compassionate, but she’s also super witty and has a stubborn streak like Sadie. Our conversation would range from talking about deep heart stuff to joking about random topics.

If I got to pick a second character, I’d say Fynnigan Larcy from Just One Thing. Honestly, Fyn could make a piece of wheat toast sound fascinating. I’d just want to sit and listen to her commentary on life.

What are three of your favorite books?

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, and A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.

What is your favorite quote? 

I have several! But here’s a quote from one of my favorite books. I’ve had it written on my bedroom mirror for years:

“I don’t believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will glorify him with my life.” – Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

I love that quote for many reasons. But as a writer, it reminds me that my identity and worth are not found in my author title. Writing is a big part of my life, but ultimately, my identity is in my relationship with Jesus. My goal is to honor Him in my writing, but there are also so many other ways He wants my life to point to Him. 

Lastly, what is your number one piece of advice for writers everywhere?

Know why you write. If you write for popularity or money or to impress others, you’ll ultimately end up disappointed. Those things never fill us up. But remembering your reason puts everything else into perspective. There will be days when you can’t seem to shake the writers block, or you’re overwhelmed by the publishing process, or you wonder if anyone will ever even like the project you poured your heart into. When that happens, remind yourself of why you’re doing this whole writing gig in the first place. Hold onto that, and you’ll experience more joy in the process. Why? Because you’ll know you’re doing what you’re made to do. 

About Anna

Anna Schaeffer writes about girls navigating their teen years and discovering their purpose along the way. Born and raised in the South, she lives near Raleigh, North Carolina, where she works as an administrative assistant and frequents all the best breakfast places in town. When she’s not lost in a story, she loves hosting movie nights, making playlists, and taking road trips with her family. Hang out with Anna at annaschaefferwrites.com and on social media @aschaewrites.

Buy All of This on Amazon ~ Buy Just One Thing on Amazon

View All of This on Goodreads ~ View Just One Thing on Goodreads

Have you read All of This? How has your faith impacted your writing?

Interview with Author Ashlee Cowles

I’m so excited to be sharing an interview with author Ashlee Cowles with you all today!

Ashlee Cowles is the author of Beneath Wandering Stars and Below Northern Lights. Y’all have hear me rave about Beneath Wandering Stars before in my post “7 Books About Military Kids.” Guys, if you haven’t already, READ THIS BOOK. It is honestly one of my favorite books, and I was so excited when Ashlee Cowles agreed to do an interview. She is not only a great writer, but also so kind, inspiring, and all-around amazing. Keep on reading for my interview with Ashlee!

Tell me three random facts about yourself! 

  1. I once swam a few feet away from a shark…only I didn’t know it until I got out of the water and saw the fin! (Maybe this is why I now prefer swimming in the Great Lakes to the ocean!).
  2. My high school prom was held in a German castle.
  3. I’m pretty sure I could live off of olives, cheese, and fresh baguettes.

How did growing up as a military kid influence you and your stories? 

So far all of my stories are rooted in locations I’ve either lived in or traveled to, in large part because of my mobile military upbringing. I love stories with a strong atmosphere and sense of place. I think living in different regions and among a variety of different cultures has given me an ability to recognize the little details that make all of those places “home” in some way (because most military kids don’t just have one home — they have certain memories that feel like home). For example, I can still remember the sound of cicadas from spending my early childhood years in Alabama and Texas, I know what it feels like to not see the sun for weeks during a Pacific Northwest winter, and one of my favorite scents is the smell of cinnamon almonds roasting at a German Christmas market. Those are the kinds of special details I try to incorporate into my stories to make them feel real, but mostly, I just love writing about people from vastly different backgrounds who are trying to work together and figure out how to make their way in this complicated world. Growing up in the military community gave me a lot to think about in that regard.

Where did you get the inspiration for you novel, Beneath Wandering Stars?

My own upbringing as a military kid was definitely a major source of inspiration. There is a huge population of teens who know what it’s like to change schools multiple times because your family has to move every few years, and who know what it’s like to have a parent or loved one deployed to a war zone for months at a time. Yet I hadn’t read any Young Adult novels that focused on this unique upbringing, so I decided to follow Toni Morrison’s advice — “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Your story is set during a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. Why did you choose that as the setting for Beneath Wandering Stars?

I knew I wanted to set my military kid story overseas on a U.S. military base in Europe (since that’s a unique experience many military kids have at some point), but I also wanted my protagonist (in this case, Gabi) to go on some kind of adventure that would cause her to grapple with the challenges that are part of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. After I walked the Camino de Santiago myself in 2011, I finally knew what my “adventure” would be and the rest of the story kind of fell into place! The Camino is a real-life “Hero’s Journey” and a fantastic setting for fiction — you meet so many interesting people who are walking the route for all kinds of reasons. I knew it would be the perfect setting for Gabi to encounter other characters who would stretch her and help her grow.

What message do you hope readers take away from Beneath Wandering Stars?

Whether or not you grew up in a military family like Gabi, I think a lot of us feel are longing for more connection and feel a little “homeless” right now, like there isn’t one physical location where we feel like we belong. The last line of the book will probably always be my favorite — “People are the only home the Army issues.” Because that’s what “home” ultimately means to me — it isn’t just a place, it’s the relationships and memories we carry with us no matter where we go.

If you had the chance to go on a trip with one of the characters from Beneath Wandering Stars, who would it be and why? Where would you go?  

What a fun question! I would probably want to go on another walking pilgrimage, and I would love to take along Homer, the German Shepherd, who makes an appearance at the end of the book. He’s such a loyal companion and he would make me feel safe if I wasn’t traveling with other people (Homer also plays a major role in the sequel to Beneath Wandering Stars, Below Northern Lights). I’ve had serious wanderlust for Italy (and gelato) lately, so I would probably want to hike the Way of St. Francis — a pilgrimage route from La Verna that passes through Assisi and ends in Rome.

What are three of your favorite books? 

Three recent favorites are A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, and Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge.

What is your favorite quote? 

I love this quote so much that it’s actually on the homepage of my website: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~T.S. Eliot 

Lastly, what is your number one piece of advice for writers everywhere?

To write well, I think you first have to see well. By that I mean you have to notice details and pay attention to what moves you and what moves other people. That’s why I’ve kept a notebook of quotes and poems and little snippets of writing that I love — it helps me to pay closer attention to what kind of words ring true and why they make me feel something long after I’ve finished reading them.

Thank you so much, Ashlee! I’ve loved having you on my blog and reading your fantastic answers.

About Ashlee Cowles

Ashlee Cowles is the award-winning author of BENEATH WANDERING STARS (Simon Pulse), BELOW NORTHERN LIGHTS, and WISDOM FOR THE WAY. Raised in a military family without roots, Ashlee enjoys traveling the world almost as much as she loves telling stories. Learn more at ashleecowles.com.

Click here to buy Beneath Wandering Stars ~ Click here to buy Below Northern Lights

In what ways does you life influence your stories? If you could go on a trip with a book character (yours or someone else’s), where would you go and who would you take?

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Book Review: Sand Castle Dreams by Taylor Bennet

Usually, when it comes time for a sequel, I prepare myself to be disappointed. I find that sequels can never quite live up to their predecessors. But in Sand Castle Dreams, I happily found a sequel that is just as good as its predecessor. Keep on reading to learn more! =)

My Rating: Four and a Half Slices of Key Lime Pie out of Five

About the Book…

Sometimes we have to face our greatest fears in order to become whole again.

Returning to Maui after one of the most challenging summers of her life, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is ready for things to return to normal—or, at least, a new normal. But even though she and her sister are back on the island they love, nothing is the same since they left for Boston a few months ago. Olive’s friend Jazz is hiding a secret—possibly something even worse than the cancer diagnosis she received earlier in the year. Can Olive ever stop running from memories of all they’ve lost?

When their friend Brander suggests Jazz attends the church’s teen support group, Olive thinks it’s a great idea—until Jazz insists that Olive join her. While the group is the perfect place for Olive to share her struggles, she wants nothing to do with it. Instead, grief threatens to roll over her like the ocean waves, and tiny fibs turn into looming secrets. When a scruffy puppy and one viral video send another storm rolling into Olive’s life, she ends up face-to-face with her biggest fear. And the only way to make it out of the tempest is to go straight through.

Buy Sand Castle Dreams on Amazon ~ View Sand Castle Dreams on Goodreads

What I Loved….

I loved the way that friendships were portrayed. Brander, Jazz, and Olive are such a great friend group! I wish that YA fiction had more friend groups like them. Too often YA books focus on romance. Which brings me to my next point…

The “romance” going on didn’t take over the story. The focus of the story wasn’t on the romance, and the subtle romance didn’t take over the story as it does in so many books. I loved this because being teenager is about so much more than dating and breakups.

The character arcs were phenomenal. It was exciting to be able to see how Olive and the other characters grew and progressed from Porch Swing Girl.

All of the desserts that Olive’s grandmother made!!! Um, yes, this is a total highlight. Can Olive’s grandmother just cook for me? Yes? Perfect! And you can actually have some of her cooking by making the recipe in the back of the book! Don’t you love it when there are recipes in the back of books?

The themes and messages packed into this book were a big highlight for me. From dealing with grief to authenticity to saying goodbye to helping friends, the themes, examples, and messages in Sand Castle Dreams are sure to uplift, encourage, and inspire readers, as well as bring them closer to God.

The setting of Lahaina, Hawaii, was so well written. I felt like I was in Hawaii eating shave ice and walking along the ocean with Olive and company. I really, really want to go to Hawaii now…

“It’s okay to cry, sweetie. It only means you have a heart so full it doesn’t have room for tears.”

-Sand Castle Dreams by Taylor Bennet

What I Didn’t Love…

Olive slightly annoyed me sometimes. She seemed a bit whiny at times, in my opinion. A bit whiny and moody, but she made up for it in the end. =) 

It felt a bit preachy at times. Olive’s friends and grandmother seemed to “preach” a bit to Olive. I feel like themes and messages could have been delivered better in different ways and been just as, if not even more, effective.

Conclusion…

Sand Castle Dreams is the epitome of a good summer read. It’s got a summery setting. It has a great group of friends. And, most importantly, there’s a lot of dessert. 😉 I’d highly recommend this to anyone who loves YA Christian fiction or a good contemporary story.

About the Author…

Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of contemporary YA fiction. Homeschooled since kindergarten, she is a proud homebody who suffers from the rare–yet always severe–case of wanderlust. 

Although she dreams of traveling to many different places, her favorite destination thus far (aside from her charming hometown in Oregon) is Lahaina, Hawaii. Taylor was so enamored with this tropical town that she became determined to write about it, hence her debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, the first in a series of books set in Hawaii.

A lover of literature since birth, Taylor found her love of writing fueled under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa and the other teachers at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where she now works as an editor for their magazine.

When she isn’t writing, Taylor enjoys cooking, drawing, and taking long walks in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest

Visit Taylor’s Website ~ Find Taylor on Instagram

Note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you read Sand Castle Dreams? What would you do on a trip to Hawaii?

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BOOK REVIEW: The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson sat on my TBR for much, much too long. Once I received it from my grandparents for my birthday, I was so excited to start reading. And once I started reading, I couldn’t put this book down!

My Rating: Four and a Half Imaginary Friends out of Five

About the Book

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

Find The Girl Who Could See on Goodreads ~ Buy The Girl Who Could See on Amazon

What I Loved

The whole concept of this book is brilliant. Imaginary friends, other worlds, Los Angeles, the FBI… Kara Swanson blended all of this and so much more into one fantastic story that had me daydreaming about Fern, Tristan, and their world for a long time. And speaking of Fern and Tristan…

The characters of this book are unforgettable. I’m sure that I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Characters can either make or break a book for me. Fern, Tristan, and the rest of the cast of characters MADE this book for me. They’re so real and perfect and precious. I loved them all!

“If I’m not broken, then what am I?”

Tristan’s voice softens. “You’re the only one on this planet who is truly whole.”

-The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

The adventure the story takes you on is one that you won’t want to walk away from. The plot of the story, combined with the characters, suck you into another world, or shall I say, Fern’s world. It was SO HARD for me to put this book down. So hard that I didn’t. 😉

The ending of The Girl Who Could See is perfection. But to find out just how perfect it is, you have to read it. So what are you doing? Go grab a copy!

The cover of this book…. THERE ARE NO WORDS.

What I Didn’t Love

I wish that it could’ve been longer. The Girl Who Could See is perfect in its novella-sized package, but I can’t help but wish that it could’ve been a little longer. I would’ve loved to see more of the amazing characters and their stories!

Overall

The Girl Who Could See captivates both the imagination and the emotions. This book is a real treat not just for fantasy and sci-fi fans, but for all bookworms who love a good story and a good adventure.

About the Author

As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent her childhood in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate to characters dropped into a unique new world, she fell in love with the fantasy genre and was soon penning stories herself. At seventeen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. She received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Kara loves to hang out with other book nerds and chocolate enthusiasts on Instagram (@karaswansonauthor), Twitter (@kara_author), Facebook (Kara Swanson, Author) and on her website (karaswanson.com).

Have you read The Girl Who Could See? Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

Want To Read More?

7 Books About Military Kids

April is the month of the military child! It is during this month that we recognize the sacrifices that military children make through many moves, deployments, and uncertainties. But with all of those sacrifices comes pride, community, and adventure. I, myself, am a military child and am proud to have been one for many years.

There’s nothing quite like finding a book with characters that one can relate to. As C.S. Lewis once said, “We read to know we are not alone.” Unfortunately, there are not many books with military children, or even simply children with loved ones in the military, as the main characters. That’s why I have created a list of some of these books. It is my hope that some military children will be able to find a book with a character that they can relate to so that they may know that they are not alone.

For Children’s Book Readers

Night Catch by Brenda Ehrmantraut

“Back and forth our star will fly, racing through the nighttime sky.”

Night Catch is a sweet story that tells how a nightly game of “catch” using the North Star brings together a deployed father and his young son. Told in catchy rhymes and beautifully illustrated by Vicki Wehrman, Night Catch is a great book for kids who have a parent who is deployed.

Click Here to Buy Night Catch on Amazon

Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops by Jill Biden

“Be brave, Natalie.”

Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops by former Second Lady Jill Biden is a tale inspired by her granddaughter’s life, Natalie. It’s a touching tale that very accurately describes what life is like when a parent is deployed. Many military children and families will be able to relate to Natalie and her family.

Click Here to Buy Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops on Amazon

For Middle Grade Readers

The Molly Series by Valerie Tripp

“Everything was different now because of the war. Dad was gone and Mom was busy.”

These American Girl books are books that I cherished and enjoyed as a young girl. Molly may have lived during WWII, but the experience of having a parent away at war has remained the same through the years. The illustrations and history tidbits that are included in these books are wonderful!

Click Here to Buy the First Book in Molly’s Series on Amazon

Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

“Maybe being brave wasn’t the most important thing anyway.”

Army Brats is part mystery and part coming-of-age story. Set on a military base, there are puppies, mysteries, and lots of fun. My sister Maya read it and loved it! Don’t worry, I plan on reading Army Brats soon too. 😉

Click Here to Buy Army Brats on Amazon

For Young Adult Readers

Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles

“People are the only home the Army issues.”

Once I had this book in my hands, I couldn’t put it down. I felt that I found a kindred spirit in the main character of Beneath Wandering Stars, one who understands what a life of changes and goodbyes feels like. I have never found that in any other book. You can tell that the author herself was a military child. And to add to that, there’s an exciting adventure on the Camino do Santiago that has me itching to visit Europe ASAP. A full review will come soon!

Click Here to Buy Beneath Wandering Stars on Amazon

“Dear Jamie, Love Rory” by Micaiah Saldaña

“Today is your birthday, and you’re not home.”

This is my own little story, a story that was partly inspired by my own experiences with my Dad’s deployments. The story is told as a series of letters from Rory to her older brother, who is deployed in Afghanistan. Through this story, I wanted to portray some of the pain that comes from a deployment and how letters keep loved ones connected.

Click Here to Buy “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” on One Story’s Website

“For Felicity” by Audrey Caylin

“I’ll be leaving on deployment when the leaves are almost gone.”

“For Felicity” is a story by my friend Audrey Caylin. It tells the story of a girl named Felicity and her brother Stephen, who is about to deploy. Felicity’s tale may be short, but it is packed with emotion and has the most perfect ending ever.

Click Here to Buy “For Felicity” on Amazon

Have you read any of these books? Do you know of any books featuring military kids?