Posted in Guest Posts

Write The Book! [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Annette Rochelle Aben. Thanks, Annette!

If I could do one thing today, it would be to inspire someone, out there, to write the book. I believe that there is a book inside nearly everyone, a book seeking the chance to have a coming out party! You may be one of those people or you may know one of those people.

Everyone has a story to tell. It could be the story of family heritage, shared through recipes handed down from generation to generation. Possibly, it’s the tale of overcoming addiction to find a wonderful life you never believed possible. You may want to share your adventures of traveling across the country or visiting foreign lands.

Perhaps your imagination simply screams for the outlet to set free the worlds you envision and to breathe life into the characters who speak to you all the time. Maybe you’ve written poetry forever or have a collection of short stories seeking a home away from home. Ah, you may be the person whose doodles would make a terrific adult coloring book!

There is a quote from the late, great, Dr. Wayne Dyer, best-selling author and eternal champion of people being healthy and happy! “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” The depth of this statement speaks to the premise that each of us has something valuable to share. The value is more in the sharing than necessarily how far the reach. The feeling of being able to free that with which you have been blessed is remarkable. Dr. Dyer’s plea reminds us to consider this as important, if not more important than striving for recognition or riches.

Of course, you could receive recognition and riches for a book you pen. There is a teenage boy in the State of Minnesota who wrote a book about how he rescued a cat. He is giving 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book to a local animal charity that helps cats! A blog, originating in England, picked up the story and shared it with tens of thousands of followers. This young man has begun receiving recognition which may well lead to the riches he wishes to gift to cats in need.

Here is the Facebook page for Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story by Justin M. Anderson.

Whatever your story, set it free! Put it on paper so you can hold it in your hands. Marvel at the sheer audacity of your brain to conceive and honor the calling of your heart to believe in your ability to achieve! Give voice to your music! WRITE the BOOK!

About Annette

Michigan author, Annette Rochelle Aben, is ruled by the world of words. Five of her nine self-published books feature haiku poetry. She has also written and published in the self-help and inspirational genres. When she isn’t writing, she is ruled by the world of 3 cats with whom she lives.

Connect with Annette

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 169: Open

Short Story: "Open" | Flash Fiction

            When Caitlyn arrived home from work, she didn’t expect anything else to go wrong that day. It had been a long work day and she was glad to finally be home. She left her work back at the office not wanting to think about it anymore. She was thankful it was Friday because now she had the entire weekend to rest up, relax, and forget about all the damage her team had done that day.

She shut off her cell phone hoping that none of her group members would try to contact her later on in the night and try to discuss what happened that day. She refused to talk about it, refused to dwell on it more than she already had.

Caitlyn put her phone back into her purse and then stepped out of the driver’s seat. She closed the door walking around and opening the passenger side of her car. She picked up her purse and work bag along with her water bottle and lunch box. Her arms were already full, but she managed to close the door and lock it. She walked down to the end of her driveway and opened the mailbox. She grunted at the amount of bills that were in there. She barely got any mail each day. Now that her arms were full, there were quite a few letters as well as a small package.

She picked up the mail little by little and dropped them into her tote bag. The letters were going to end up wrinkled and bent, but she didn’t care. Caitlyn assumed most of them were bills anyway, so how important were they really?

She closed the mailbox and walked back up the driveway. She tried to balance everything she was holding onto while fiddling with her keys trying to pick out her house key.

Caitlyn walked up the steps to the front porch. She managed to open the storm door and stopped it from closing on her by sticking her leg out. Then she stuck her house key out in front of her, but there was nothing for it to go in.

She paused, realizing that the front door was already open.

Why was the front door open?

Caitlyn looked all around her with her brows furrowed in confusion. She started to sweat on the fall afternoon wondering what was going on. She lived alone and if her parents or sisters had stopped by, there would be another car in the driveway. Not to mention they probably wouldn’t have left the front door wide open even if they were home.

Taking a deep breath, Caitlyn stepped through the doorframe. She gently put her things down on the floor in the mudroom trying to be as quiet as she possibly could. She reached into her purse and took out her cell phone turning it back on, just in case. Then she turned around taking the storm door handle and pulling it closed hoping it wouldn’t slam and make a loud noise.

Of course, she didn’t want to think that there was anyone inside her house, but she couldn’t be too careful either.

Caitlyn tip-toed out of the mudroom, leaving the front door open. She didn’t want to make too much noise and she also wanted to be able to run away quickly if there happened to be someone in the house.

She poked her head around the wall and peered into the living room. There, on the couch, laid her cat. Caitlyn relaxed her tense body, but she was still confused and felt she needed to be cautious.

If her cat was just sleeping on the couch, then nothing must have been wrong, right? No one was in the house but Caitlyn and her cat?

Caitlyn shook her head. No, her cat wasn’t a guard dog. Her cat wasn’t going to care if a stranger entered the house without permission. She turned back around and looked at the wide open door. How did someone get into the house anyway? They clearly didn’t break in, but if they didn’t have a key, then how did they get in? Unless… Did she leave the door unlocked by accident when she left for work that morning?

She stepped farther into the house, her cat resting his head back down on the couch again. He didn’t seem to even really care that she was home, so he definitely wouldn’t care if a stranger waltzed right through.

She had checked around the whole house, but she didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. There was no one hiding out in the house so Caitlyn assumed if someone came by they had left already. There was nothing missing or out of place, either. So, she must not have been robbed.

Caitlyn walked back through the living room and into the mudroom. She moved her things out of the way pushing them with her foot so she could close the front door. She put a hand on the doorknob and twisted it. Sure enough, it was locked.

Caitlyn furrowed her brows at the door. What in the world had happened today? No one must have come into her house if they didn’t have a key because there was no break in. Nothing was touched or anything, either, so…

Caitlyn closed the front door and thought real hard about that morning. She looked down at the ground at all of her stuff and then it clicked in her head.

She remembered carrying all that, plus a box of things for her project at work, and she didn’t have enough hands to close the door. She had put everything into the car telling herself that she would run back up the front steps to shut the door after she had loaded the car. However, she was already running late and was panicking about traffic so once she put everything into the car, she just hopped into the driver’s seat and left.

Caitlyn left her stuff in the mudroom and sat down on the couch beside the cat. She closed her eyes taking a few deep breaths. She had just left her home completely wide open for the world to see and enter if they wished.

What a day.

Words: 1,040

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale | Book Review

Title: Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale
Author: Mark Waid, Fiona Staples (illustrations), Annie Wu (illustrator), Veronica Fish (illustrator)
March 2016 by Archie Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my sister


America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about. Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist.

My Review:


Kris used to have a subscription to the Archie comics for as long as I can remember. She’d get Archie, Betty & Veronica, Jughead, pretty much all of them. There are two drawers in my bedroom filled with all the Archie comics (mixed in with some superheroes and Looney Toons, I believe). She used to read them to me when I was still learning how to read and with this new artwork and storyline, we were both intrigued.


Volume 1 has six issues inside that all continue the same overall plot. Archie and Betty have broken up due to some “lipstick incident” after being together for practically their entire lives. Then rich girl Veronica moves to Riverdale and Archie falls head over heels in love.

It’s not until issue four when we find out what exactly broke Archie and Betty up. Still, the premise is that they miss each other, they miss being friends even though Betty moves on and Archie follows Veronica around like a puppy.

Most of the kids at their school scheme to get them back together, but Betty and Archie want nothing to do with it. Archie is more concerned about not being clumsy so he can keep a job all the while trying to impress Veronica’s father.

But then at the end, Reggie, the school bully, steps in to impress Veronica’s father even more.


Personality and characteristics wise, all the characters have pretty much stayed true to themselves. I’ve missed reading the Archie comics and reading these updated characters brought me right back to the olden days when I used to read them with my sister.

Archie, being the main character, is also the narrator. He talks to the reader knowing he’s telling a story. He’s an overall good guy, gives just enough back ground information, and is too clumsy for his own good. I absolutely love his character and he is ridiculously funny.

Betty is her tomboy self and Veronica is her rich-girl self. In this first volume they never actually met one another and Betty would watch Archie with her from afar.

Reggie is his normal bully-like self and then there’s Jughead. Jughead is one of my favorite characters. He witnesses all and as Archie’s best friend, he helps him out no matter what. Still, he acts as though he’s on nobody’s side but his own.


Volume 1 is made up of six comic issues, each one being broken up into three short “chapters.” At about 200 pages and being a graphic novel, this is a fairly quick read.

The script is funny and engaging the whole time and the illustrations are beautiful and incredibly detailed.


I love a good graphic novel every now and then and reading Archie brought me back to my childhood. If you were a fan of the Archie comics back then, you won’t be disappointed by this newest version.

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“You are who you are. Not what people think you are. Be straight. Be weird. Be whatever. Just be what you wanna be.” –Mark Waid, Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale

Buy the book:

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Posted in Interviews

Meet Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Author

I’m happy to welcome author Yecheilyah Ysrayl to my blog.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you, Rachel, for having me. My name is Yecheilyah (pronounced e-see-lee-yah) Ysrayl known to most as EC. I’m a native of Chicago and have been writing since I was twelve years old. I’ve been publishing my work now for about ten years. I am passionate about black history which is funny because I was never a history buff in school. But I enjoy reading and learning about the history of my people. I love sitting at the knees of elders and hearing stories of life back before I existed. So naturally, I got into writing about us just the same. Toni Morrison said that if there’s a book that you want to read that hasn’t been written yet then you must write it and that’s exactly what I do, though not always consciously. Poetry also has my heart and I dabble in Sci-Fi as well so don’t be surprised if you see me releasing something about aliens in the future. I try not to be limited.

How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old, so about eighteen years now.

What is your writing process like?

I’ll admit, I don’t like this question. It always sounds a bit weird to me because I like to keep things simple which means I don’t have much of a process. I sit down and write. The end.

I do write in silence and I try to tune everything out as I am writing the first draft. I think writers must learn the art of ignoring people. Otherwise, it can be difficult to create anything of value as you’re worrying about what people say and what people think. You’ll be constantly changing to fit someone’s opinion or version of what should be. So, my process is to stay to myself until it’s time to get deep into those revisions where I’ll need the assistance of others.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Awwue Rachel. Is this another “process” question? Lol. OK. Let’s see here. It really depends on what day we’re talking about but on average, I start my day with a good workout. I get up in the morning and I head to the fitness center and it’s the first thing that I do aside from morning prayers and coffee, of course. Working out really helps to get the juices flowing mentally, the energy pumping and I find I have more clarity afterward. This is important to me because I think we forsake the mind a lot and forget that it must be exercised just as much as anything else.  After the workout, it depends on what’s on the calendar. I have this gigantic calendar I keep at my desk as well as notebooks and sticky notes as reminders of what needs to be done. Is there a book I need to finish taking notes on for a review? Is it researching I need to do for a scene? Is there something outside of writing that holds priority? When I sit up on the bed, before I even get up, I usually spend a few moments staring out into space thinking about what I need to do that day with such questions.

What motivates you to write?

I am inspired the most by the people I meet and the books that I read. I love a book that just has you looking at the cover after you’ve read it and wishing there was a movie being made about it so you can see how the characters look in real life, and if they are different from how you imagined them in your head. The kind of book that leaves your mouth hanging open because you can’t understand how to process the fact that this book is over. Like, this is literally it. Those kinds of books get my hype and I want to write a book that is just as engaging. I am also motivated by the people that I meet, lifting them up and inspiring them to aspire for greatness. For me writing does not come from a focus on writing but a focus on living. The desire to educate and motivate others is most inspiring for me.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I jumped up and down and then ran next door to show my neighbors.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Currently, I am revising Revelation which is book two in The Nora White Story. I am also working on a short inspirational piece called BREATHE. One of the things I am passionate about is motivating others and so this book is something I hope to offer to writers who specifically struggle with stress and low self-esteem, pressure and that beast called doubt. It’s a short project I hope to have out by the close of this year. It won’t have a big launch or anything.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

An elementary school teacher, hands down. I have worked with children for most of my life. I started with small children at The Louisiana In-Home School Program. I did that for four years. Then my husband and I managed a center in Shreveport for inner-city youth among other things where we tutored children of all ages, from as young as three to as old as seventeen. I did that for another five years. If I wasn’t writing I would definitely be teaching in some capacity.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me is when I sit down to write that first draft. Not easy as in I snap my fingers and there’s a book but easy in that it’s the most fun part to me when you sit down and you write the story for the first time. Most of what you write at first may not even make it to the book (there are lots of chapters that did not make it to the final copy of Renaissance!) but that’s not what you worry about right then and there so it makes it a most exciting time. On a more serious note, it’s also the time where I am most serious about not letting everyone in because although the first draft, this is also where I feel that I am writing most of my heart. And the heart is important because despite going through so many changes later, the heart can never change. If it’s there it can never change. It can never be edited or critiqued or omitted. Because if the heart is there, the manuscript has its heartbeat and can live. That said, the fun part is just writing and being me as I write.

The hardest part is everything else! Lol. It’s the revising of the novel and making sure the plot makes sense enough to consider actually publishing. It’s the hustle for reviews later and market, promote, and so on. That’s the most challenge part for me, everything after the first draft. It’s challenging because I’m a shy person and to sell books it’s not like you can really stand in the background. So, I find myself doing a lot of what I am not comfortable doing. I’m not complaining because that’s where the growth is, outside that comfort zone. It’s challenging though.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Oh, Rachel. You really trying to have your readers here all day now. To keep it brief, I really wish I knew more about dialogue tags, head-hopping, and interior formatting before I started.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

My favorite book since sixth grade is Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. This book made me want to write Literary Fiction. Not just this book but all the others. Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Road to Memphis. I mean, her collection was life for me as a girl and I still have Roll of Thunder on my bookshelf today. It’s a little beat up but I have it. I may just order the others for the sake of it. Native Son by Richard Wright also changed my life.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read a lot, write a lot, and stay disciplined. Reading will keep that fire in you to create stories of your own. Discipline will force you to write them. Inspiration is great. Motivation is cool, but these aren’t constant. They don’t last. No one feels inspired or motivated forever. But if you have discipline and endurance then you can force yourself to do what needs to be done consistently enough to achieve your goals.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to pencil me in. Thanks to everyone reading this for the likes and shares. And if anyone would be interested in learning more about me and my work, I would be humbled if you could sign-up for my email list HERE to keep in touch. Thanks again.

About the Author

Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an Independent Author, Blogger, Poet, and Book Reviewer and writes Historical Fiction / African American Literature and poetry. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her ninth work and is due for release Saturday, July 15, 2017. A native of Chicago, she now resides in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes and blogs full time.

Connect with Yecheilyah

Website | Amazon | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Linkedin

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Posted in Book Reviews

Tone Of Voice When Writing Book Reviews

Writing a book review isn’t as easy as it sounds. When writing a review you’re stating your opinion on how you liked or disliked something.

When it comes to books, you have to remember that you’re commenting on someone’s hard work, someone’s precious baby.

Honesty is the most important thing when it comes to writing a book review. But with that honesty has to come a fair tone of voice.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but everyone interprets things differently. Something that you like may be something that someone else doesn’t like and vice versa.

When it comes to writing a review, mention things you enjoyed about the book.

If there’s anything you didn’t particularly care for in the book, say so. But…

  • Explain why you didn’t like it nicely (like I said, everyone has different opinions)
  • Suggest something that may have worked better

Not only are reviews a great way to thank an author, but it’s also a great way for authors to get some feedback. A lot of reviewers can agree upon a particular thing and the author may learn from it for their next book.

Still, there are some reviewers that don’t bother leaving a review if it’s a book that they really didn’t like for the sake of the author not getting any “bad reviews.”

All in all, book reviews are important but it’s all in the way they’re conveyed.

How do you typically convey your books reviews? Have you ever left a “bad review” before? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Why I Lowered My Word Goal [Camp NaNoWriMo]

No matter which session, Camp or regular NaNo, I always have my word goal be the standard 50,000 words.

I typically write 2,000 words a day for that goal and am able to easily reach the overall goal long before the month is over. Sometimes I have enough steam to go over my goal. I’ve finished complete first drafts before and sometimes I’ve just done the bare minimum.

I chose two different projects for myself this month. When I realized that I had “double-booked” myself, I decided to try to write 100k in the month.

It’s a challenge I’ve always wanted to do, a challenge I’ve done twice before but never completed.

Someday I will complete that challenge. However, this month is not the right time for it.

July 2017 Camp NaNo Participate

I’ve seen plenty of people change their word goals in the middle of the month before. I always thought that was strange because it felt like “cheating” to me.

Well, I am now one of those people.

Last night, I changed my 100k word goal down to 50k. It’s the standard, the goal that I would have originally chosen for myself if I didn’t decide to try to go above and beyond.

My current word count stands at 41,414 words. Before I was almost halfway there and now all of the sudden I’m almost done. It feels weird and I still feel like I “cheated” in some way.

Still, I think this was the best decision.

Between trying to write 5,000 words a day, I also have to keep up with two blogs (which I’ve gotten behind in for both), I started my internship, and I’ve also been more focused on article writing than creative writing. This doesn’t include me trying to hang out with my friends and family.

It’s been a busy month, busier than I thought it’d be. So, that’s why I decided to ease up on my word goal. After looking at everything I had to do (and making a four-page to-do list for myself…) I realized that Camp shouldn’t be the biggest priority this month.

I still feel good because I know I’ll reach at least the 50k, which is good for me. I hope everyone else is having a successful Camp!

Have you ever lowered your word goal before? How’s Camp treating you this month? Let me know in the comments below!

I’ll be explaining this further in my newsletter. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up. It’s quick, free, and I’d really appreciate it!

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Posted in Book Reviews

How To Write A Book Review That Matters

Book reviews are fodder for authors. It’s important for their books. And, as a reader, we can thank the author by leaving a review for their book on your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere the book can be bought.

How To Write a Book Review that Matters

Everyone has their own writing style and there are many ways to write a book review. For me, I write about the three parts of a book that is the most important to me. I also add an intro and conclusion, if you will.

First Thoughts

To begin the review I talk about my initial thoughts on the book. Why I decided to read it, where I got it, and what I think about the overall summary and maybe the cover as well.


I typically summarize the overall plot of the novel and then talk about what I felt worked with it and what I felt didn’t work with it.


I talk about the main and secondary characters and explain my thoughts on the character development of them all. I also mention which was my favorite and which ones I related to the most and also ones that I didn’t like.

Writing Style

Every author writes differently. Some use more dialogue than description, some write poetically. Some have short chapters, some write in parts. I comment on the author’s style and whether I think it worked or not for the story. This also includes POV.


To end the review I more or less summarize everything I wrote in the previous parts and mention whether I would recommend the book or not.

In addition to all that, I add a picture of the book’s cover, the title, the author, when and where it was published, the genre, and how I got the book. At the end, I give it a star rating between one and five. I also add links to where you can buy the book.

To add a little personal touch, I also include my favorite quote from the book. The quote is generally a line that stuck out at me for whatever reason, whether it was a nice piece of description, something funny, something heartfelt, something true to life, etc.

I’ve seen other book reviews by people and some of them go much more in depth than mine. Others are short and sweet simply stating why they liked the book or why they didn’t like it. And others still ramble on about general overall thoughts on the book.

Writing a book review isn’t hard and depending on your style, it definitely takes a few minutes out of your day. Still, it’s a great way to thank an author for all their hard work and effort, whether you enjoyed the book or not.

Do you typically write book reviews? What’s your style like? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 168: Hot

Short Story: "Hot" | Flash Fiction

            “Careful. It’s hot.” Connor warned holding onto something large wrapped in a white sheet in the palms of his hands. He held it out to his little sister and smiled at her as she took it into her own hands.

Rose stumbled at the weight as soon as her brother handed her the item.

“Sorry, it’s heavy too.” He said.

Rose stared at the sheet and squeezed the object trying to figure out what it was.

“Be gentle. You don’t want to break it. It will open at any moment now.” Connor said folding his arms over his chest. He leaned his back against the wall and watched Rose with the object proud.

“What is it?” Rose asked. She loosened her grip on the smooth, round object, but held it tight enough so that she wouldn’t drop it. If a gentle squeeze was enough to break the fragile object, she certainly didn’t want to drop it on the brick flooring.

“You’ll see.” Connor grinned from ear to ear. He clearly couldn’t wait for Rose to find out what it was. “I think you’re ready for this. You’re old enough to understand.”

Rose raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?” she asked.

Connor chuckled.

At that very moment, the object began to shake slightly in Rose’s grip. She gasped suddenly afraid of what was going to happened. She held out her arms trying to give it back to brother.

“Connor, what is this? What’s going on?”

“You’re fine,” Connor reassured her.

“I’m going to drop it!”

“No you won’t.”

“Please, take it back. I’m going to drop it and then you’ll be mad at me.” Rose whimpered.

Connor shook his head. “I promise you’re not going to drop it. You would have done so by now. Rose, if I take it then it won’t be yours.”

“What are you talking about…?” Rose asked, her voice trailing off as the object shook so much that the white sheet fell off the object.

Rose gasped recognizing what it was. It was a shiny, gray oval with brown speckled spots all over it. It shook more violently now and Rose held it closer to her as she tried to keep it from jumping out of her arms.

“A dragon egg?” she looked up at her brother.

Connor nodded with a smile. “You’re hatching it and because of that, it will recognize you as its master.”

“But I didn’t hatch it.” Rose said.

“Well, I warmed it and took care of it for you, yes, but you’re holding it right now. The dragon will assume it was you.” Connor shrugged his shoulders.

Before Rose could say anything else, a piece of the egg shell cracked and dropped to the ground. A tail poked out through the hallow shell. Rose’s mouth gaped open in shock. Another piece broke off and fell to the floor as a claw poked out of the egg. She smiled. She was about to have her very own dragon!

Finally, the top of the egg cracked open and a long neck emerged. A small head slowly rose from the top and immediately turned to face Rose. Its mouth gaped open and its tongue lolled out of the corner playfully.

“It’s a Serpentail dragon.” Connor said. “It’s best known for its extremely long, powerful tail.”

Rose brought the egg over to the table and placed it down on the surface. The dragon stumbled out of the egg and fell flat on the table. Rose chuckled as he tried to pick himself up and stagger closer to Rose.

“His tail doesn’t look so long right now.” Rose observed. The dragon itself was pretty long, even though he was no bigger than Rose’s foot. His tail, however, was a stub.

“He’s a baby.” Connor replied. “The tail will grow as he grows. His tail will be the last thing to be fully grown because it’ll grow so long.”

Rose didn’t respond as she rested her arms on the table and put her chin down. She observed the dragon carefully taking in its smoky gray scales and bright yellow eyes. It tried to stand up on its hind legs, but fell forward immediately, thus resulting in crawling towards Rose. She could hear it purr louder as it got closer. She giggled.

“I think he recognizes you.” Connor said. “What are you going to name him?”

“How can you tell it’s a boy?” Rose asked.

“The stubby tail. Female Serpantails don’t have a tail at all when they’re first hatched.” Connor explained.

Rose sat up about to respond when the dragon leaned forward off the table. “Whoa!” Rose exclaimed catching him in the palms of her hands.

Connor laughed. “I think he was trying to make skin to skin contact, but you moved out of the way.”

“Oops,” Rose giggled. She lifted the dragon higher in her hands up to her face. He licked her nose and she laughed bringing him closer to her cheek where he head-butted her playfully before rubbing against her lovingly.

“For the first week or so, he’s going to need a lot of skin to skin with you. He recognizes you as your master giving you guys a good bond, but you two will grow closer the more you’re with him and handle him.” Connor said.

“Can he sleep in bed with me tonight?” Rose asked hopefully.

“Uh,” Connor stammered, “we’ll see. He’s going to need to get used to sleeping on his own.”

“But it’s a newborn. I don’t want him to get lonely.”

“I also don’t want him to discover his fire breath and set the house on fire.”

“Oh,” Rose slouched in her chair. She put the dragon back on top of the table and he waddled away on all fours exploring the surface of the rectangle table.

“So, what are you going to name him?” Connor asked again.

Rose leaned back in her chair again and watched her dragon with curiosity. “Well… he’s a smoky color. And you said he has fire breath?”

Connor shrugged. “Judging by his color, I assume he has fire breath. Some Serpentails have ice or water.”


“That one is rare.” Connor nodded. “We won’t know his powers and strengths until he discovers them himself, which could take a couple of weeks. But, as I said, his coloring hints at what his powers are. It’s very uncommon to have a gray dragon that shoots ice.”

“Cool,” Rose said amazed. “Connor, I want to be a Dragon Tamer just like you when I grow up!”

Connor grinned and patted his little sister’s shoulder. “If that’s what you really want, then I’m sure you’ll get there someday.”

Rose stood up from her seat. “I can’t wait to tell my friends that I have my very own dragon!”

“Hold up there, Rose.” Connor said frowning. He held up his hands trying to calm her. “You’re only 14-years-old. You’re not allowed to have a dragon until you’re 17. Until then, we’re going to have to pretend that he’s mine.” He pointed to the small dragon on the table.

The gray baby sat up straight on the table watching Rose and Connor as though he was listening and understood every word they were saying to each other.

Rose titled her head to the side puzzled. “So… Why did you give me a dragon if I’m not allowed to have one for another three years?”

Connor stared at her as though he was trying to think of a good enough answer. He finally sighed and then cracked a small smile. “I have my reasons, Rose. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.”

Rose narrowed her eyes and looked at her brother skeptically. “Connor… Is something wrong?”

“Not at all.” He said smiling bigger now. “I can’t explain it to you now, but I know you’re going to need this dragon as soon as you’re able to own one. By the time you need one, he’ll already be fully grown and you’ll have a wonderful bond with him.”

“I don’t understand.” Rose shook her head.

“I know and I don’t expect you to.” Connor said. “Enjoy him, Rose. You guys are going to make a wonderful team someday.”

“A team for what?”

Connor sighed. “You ask too many questions.”

“I’m entitled.” She said stiffly.

Connor chuckled. “I suppose so…” he grew serious again. “I’m not always going to be here to take care of you, Rose. You know that now I’m 18, I can be drafted at any time. The only reason the king won’t draft me is because I need to take care of you.”

Rose bowed her head. After their parents had died, Connor had to fight for his rights to take care of her. He had to fight to stick around long enough to watch her grow up until she was able to take care of herself. As soon as Rose turned 17, Connor would be 21 and for sure would be shipped off to fight for their kingdom.

“This dragon will protect you. You’ll take care of each other.” Connor said.

“But you’ll be back.” Rose said somberly. She sniffled, feeling the tears coming on, but she fought them back. “And you’re not leaving for a long time.”

Connor brought her into a hug. “No, I won’t be leaving for another four years. And of course I’ll be back. No enemy of our kingdom is going to get rid of me that easily.”

Rose couldn’t help but smile at her brother’s optimism. She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his hard chest. She didn’t respond knowing there was no sense in worrying about something that was still four years away. Maybe the war would be over by then? Their kingdom has been fighting with the neighboring kingdoms for years now. Everyone in the village assumed the war would continue on for centuries. But, one could hope.

Connor rested his chin on the top of Rose’s head and rubbed her back. They remained like that for a little while, silent.

It wasn’t until Rose’s dragon managed to leap off the edge of the table, it’s small wings flapping frantically in the air in his attempt to reach Rose. He managed to land on her shoulder, but barely. He began to fall and Connor laughed, catching the baby in his palm. He lifted the dragon back onto Rose’s shoulder and pulled away from his sister.

“He wants to be included in this hug, I guess.”

Rose laughed shifting her gaze to her shoulder. “It would appear so.”

“So,” Connor folded his arms across his chest again, “for the third time, what do you plan on naming him?”

Rose looked up at the ceiling tapping her chin with her index finger deep in thought. Then she smiled wide and looked her brother in the eye. “I have the perfect name for him!”

Connor leaned forward silently prompting her to tell him. Rose, her smile growing, looked away from her brother and down at her dragon.

“Tyson. His name is Tyson.”

Tyson opened his mouth, his tongue flopping out, as though he was smiling as well. Rose and Connor laughed.

“I think he likes it.” Connor approved.

“Welcome to the family, Tyson!” Rose cheered.

Tyson squealed in response.

Words: 1,886

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Book Review, Young Adult Mystery

Title: The Leaving
Author: Tara Altebrando
June 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: Young adult mystery
How I got the book: I bought it


Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

My Review:


This was sort of an impulse buy. If you know me, I love a good suspense story. The cover was what originally caught my eye. I read the summary on the back and I thought I’d give it a try. Then I thumbed through the pages, saw the fancy writing style on the inside, and decided that I definitely had to give it a try.


Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing. They went to school on the first day and the busy never took them home. The own searched high and low, but no traces of them were found. Eleven years later, five return home not remembering where they had been, what happened, or for how long they were gone. Still, they remember basic skills they learned throughout the years, such as driving a car. One even knowing how to load a gun. Everyone is shaken up by their return and when they ask about Max, the sixth child, the other five have no idea who they’re talking about. Now the question is, are they lying?

This novel is written in the third person limited, but we follow three POV characters. Lucas and Scarlett, two of the stolen children, and Avery, Max’s little sister. Between the three of them, they start piecing together what might have happened and where Max could be.

It was an interesting tale of amnesia and a race against the clock as they try to find Max. The ending was certainly something I didn’t see coming. I even had a prediction and was completely wrong. It was certainly a cool twist on the “missing persons” plotline. However, with all the twists and turns and with two out of the three main POV characters, there wasn’t much room to try to figure things out for myself.

The person who was behind “The Leaving” was an interesting twist. I never would have guessed that person. It made sense, but the way they figured it out was out of left field. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t say any more on it, but I felt as though them figuring it out was kind of a cop-out.


Six went missing: Lucas, Scarlett, Max, Kristen, Sarah, and Adam. Max never came home and we follow Lucas and Scarlett. They talk to Kristen, Sarah, and Adam every once in a while, but for the most part, we don’t really see them.

Lucas and Scarlett were great POV characters. They had a lot of depth even though they couldn’t remember eleven years of their lives. Still, they slowly pieced everything together and it was fun to go through the motions with them. Plus, I liked both characters.

Then there’s Avery. I’m not entirely sure her story was needed. As Max’s little sister, she wanted answers. Great concept, great plot, but as the story went on she seemed to be more focused on wanting a relationship with Lucas and being jealous of Scarlett. I also didn’t think her story was complete. She breaks up with her boyfriend and then the chapter ends. Then we never see Sam again and never talk about that he ever existed again. She didn’t even care, she just wanted Lucas.

Avery had a little depth because while she wanted to find Max, a part of her wanted to find him dead. She thought it would be weird if he came home, her whole life would change. It’s sad and I totally understand her feelings on that. Still, since they were so young, we didn’t know anything about Max. And, as stated, Avery was more focused on her love life so I couldn’t sympathize her confliction about finding Max.


This was a thick book being at 421 pages. Each chapter alternated between the three POVs and the book was broken up into parts labeling the days. The book takes place in just 15 days total. The chapters were short and quick reads, especially with the way it was written.

Avery’s chapters were written as a typical novel. Scarlett’s were written almost poetically, the words sometimes literally flying off the page or making shapes. Lucas’s chapters were written as a regular novel, but a lot of his thoughts and memories were highlighted in black and written in white ink.

Despite its length, it made it for a quick and easy read. It was interesting and fun. And, even though the chapters were labeled with the POV character, I really didn’t need that confirmation. I was able to tell each voice just by reading and that was great.


This was a great read. I definitely think it would have been better without Avery’s story, or maybe less of her story. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the third POV was from Kristen. As the story goes on, we learn she and Scarlett have a history, but, since I didn’t know anything about Kristen I didn’t really care about it. And I would have liked to.

If you’re looking for a quick, fancy-written mystery, consider checking out this book. I think I’ll pick up Altebrando’s next book.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando gets…
4 stars book review4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“People aren’t shaped by conscious memories so much as they are by their overall life experience and bonds.” –Tara Altebrando, The Leaving

Buy the book:

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