the wayward owl
Live a life worth writing
Tempeste has survived much choosing to live on Paris’ streets–scavenging for food, learning survival skills from a deserter whom she paid to attack her in her sleep, and living a life her mother would approve of, one devoid of luxury. But denying oneself of food and proper bedding can stir a madness in the brain. So, when Tempeste witnesses the quick and painless death of the guillotine–the death her mother should have received–she vows to find her mother’s accuser and vivisect his spleen.
Quite by accident, Gabriel, the young executioner responsible for Tempeste’s mother’s botched hanging, falls for Tempeste. So, instead of strolling arm-in-arm with a respectable mademoiselle through the gardens of the Palais de l’Égalité, Gabriel finds himself traipsing after an axe-carrying siren through the catacombs and facing off a hostile sans culottes army.
With little choice but to fight, Gabriel determines to win the hearts of the sans culottes, while Tempeste proves she’s quite adept at swinging the blade. When the pair finally make their way to Tempeste’s sworn enemy, though, a secret is revealed which promises to sever far more than they ever hoped to gain
Settle a score. Fulfill a debt. Make a difference.
These are the words that motivate Tempeste after her mother’s atrocious death. For years, Tempeste has trained and focused on her sole purpose in life: avenge those responsible. When the object of her wrath becomes the object of her affection, though, she must curb her bloodlust or withdraw her heart. Either way, Tempeste must come face-to-face with a killer and make the fateful choice—love or death.
Mary Gray is a master at writing authentically broken characters, people who are so haunted by their pasts that their present decisions are infected. OUR SWEET GUILLOTINE sheds light on the life of an executioner, humanizing him and unmasking the burden of guilt he has in a forced profession. It dives into the idea of multi-faceted truth and the human perception. People have secrets, and those secrets long outlive the ones who create them. As a reader, I found myself contemplating how we so often create our own curses but are the only ones with the power to undo their hold on us. We can all relate to the struggle of personal strength and crippling misconceptions.
Readers of dark, gritty, gothic tales with a romantic spin will enjoy this twisted story. This book will appeal to people of all ages who enjoy exploring the dark side of humanity through the comfortable safety of a book, but who also crave redemption and forgiveness.
Fans of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd will likely swoon at the psychological, thrilling nature of revenge. In addition, readers who love the His Fair Assassin series, particularly Dark Triumph, will appreciate the way love can creep into any setting or situation, no matter how dark.
It has been an insane reading month! With a grand total of 13 books, not including the manuscripts I read.
Several of these are comps for clients' books, and the rest are just for pleasure. It would take me too long to talk about each of these individually, so I'm just going to mention my favorites.
Take Off Your Pants: Outlining Books for Faster, Better Writing
I'm always looking for ways to improve the quality and speed of my own writing, and I thought this book gave some helpful ways to quickly plot out a novel. I use a beat sheet already, which is similar in this author's technique, but I especially love the scene and flow break down she offers in this. I will be trying her method on my next manuscript.
You all know how much I adore Lysa TerKeurst, and her newest release Uninvited is great for those who have dealt with feeling rejected (haven't we all). Working in the publishing world, there's a thread of rejection almost daily. She teaches us how to see rejection through our Creator's eyes versus our own emotions.
Sweet & Sassy Anthology: Sand and Kisses
This was the type of book I would want to read while on the beach. I wish that's where I read it, but... I don't read too much romance, but I do love the occasional clean, sweet treat one gets when diving into something like this. Each story was carefully thought out and left me with those butterfly tingles that are usually reserved for my Prince Charming. Books like this remind us that love is alive everywhere we look and makes us thankful for the love we have in our own lives.
It's been a busy reading month for me. In addition to these lovelies, which I read for fun, I also read several other manuscripts. Luckily, I never get tired of stepping out of my world and into others.
What Do You Do With A Problem
First, give me a moment to pour out all my feelings about this series. When I first read, What Do You Do With An Idea, I cried. Seriously. I was standing in the bookstore, flipping the pages, and Prince Charming came up wondering what in the world was happening. Why were there tears in my eyes? Everything about that book made me want to read it every day for the rest of my life. Needless to say, I cradled it in my arms to the check out counter and have loved it ever since. This book, the second in the series, is wonderful too. They're both inspiring and carry a message that makes me want to re-read them over and over again.
Where the Wild Things Are
I'm not sure how I escaped childhood without reading this book, but even the most well-read have their gaps. I love the illustrations in this, and I enjoyed the message. Monsters are never as scary as they seem. In fact, they're just like you and me. Timeless.
The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon: Halloween Nightmares
I love the spiritual themes and adventurous nature of these books. They're unlike anything I've ever read, and though I feel they could be stronger, I still think they're fun. Not to mention, the quality of this book is amazing. The artwork and interior are superb, and the authors have created great marketing techniques for these as well.
Lysa TerKeurst is amazing. She's so genuine and real, someone everyone can relate to. I especially loved how she tackles the emotional experience. In this book, she discusses how we sometimes allow our emotions to override our lives and how devastating that can be for us and those around us. If you're a mountain out of a mole hill girl, this is the book for you (and me).
The Best Yes
For the past six weeks, I've been co-leading a small group on the concepts Lysa teaches in The Best Yes. I haven't read a book that has changed my life this much in a really long time. We live in a world where we are rushed and busy 24/7, but God doesn't call us to a rushed life. He wants us to "underwhelm our schedules, so He can overwhelm our souls." Friends, go buy this book.
The Dollhouse Asylum
The Dollhouse Asylum is not your typical YA read, which is why I loved it. We all love the strong, female character in modern literature, but I also enjoy diversity, an exploring of all types of people. Mary Gray does that by giving readers a peek into the inner workings of one girl's emotional journey of learning that the man she adores and looks up to, a former teacher, is actually a stone-cold killer. I found it interesting that the MC struggles with a lot of things women who are abused (both emotionally and physically) struggle with. But that's not who he really is. He's good underneath it all. He won't do it again now that he knows it hurts me. Fans of Waywardly Pines and The Girl With All the Gifts will probably enjoy this too.
Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2015.
The Lie Tree is a wonderfully evocative and atmospheric novel by Frances Hardinge, award-winning author of Cuckoo Song and Fly By Night.
Faith's father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.
The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father's murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .
When I heard that The Lie Tree won the Costa Book of the Year, I had to get my hands on it that day! I love so much about this book. The writing is swoon worthy, and the premise is intriguing and unique. I've never read anything quite like it.
It makes statements about faith, family, parental relationships, Victorian era rules and dilemmas, and feminism. I may not align with everything it subtly promotes, but the amazing writing makes me want to.
I highly recommend it to people who love reading literary works, are interested in the Victorian era, and who enjoy reading dynamic young adult novels.
"Coraline meets Monsters, Inc. in this delightfully entertaining offering from actor [Jason] Segel and co-author [Kirsten] Miller."--Publishers Weekly
The hilariously frightening, middle-grade novel Nightmares! is a Texas Bluebonnet nominee and the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town.
Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!
Charlie Laird has several problems.
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3.He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.
What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed.
And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.
Nightmares was such a fun read! I loved the characters from the very beginning and the big, spooky house and eccentric stepmother only added to the intrigue. It's a perfect read for those who are interested in middle grade books with a paranormal edge and a dash of humor. And there's even COFFEE!
Great for the young and the young at heart.
Go ahead and add it to you TBR list. You know you want to. ;)
Vanessa K. Eccles
Books, life, and travel.
Author of FABLED, RED RIBBONS, and OF LOVE & LEGEND // Founder of The Faithful Creative Magazine
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