12 Days Of Christmas Book Tag

I don’t do these very often. My blog posts are usually written well in advance and I always forget about them. But I haven’t done one in a while and this certainly seemed like fun, so I wanted to give it a go.

I was tagged to do this my good friend Ari Meghlen. I don’t normally tag people in these things, so if you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged. Or feel free to play along in the comments below.

Also, I’m going to go through the books I read in 2018 to narrow my choices down a bit. Though I might branch out a bit depending on the prompt.

12 Days of Christmas Book Tag | Reading | Book Blogging | Blogging | Book Blogger | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: a partridge in a pear tree. The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favorite stand alone?

One book I read this year and absolutely loved was Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I read it in one sitting pretty much on Christmas Eve last year. (Yes, I said I was going to look at 2018 but I technically reviewed the book in January, so there.)

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: two turtle doves.

Love is in the air! Who is your one true pairing?

Shawn and Gus from the Psych series. They’re not a couple, but they have the best relationship.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Three French Hens.

In the spirit of threes, what is the best trilogy you have read?

I don’t read trilogies that often and I honestly couldn’t think of one. I did read a manga trilogy this year which I enjoyed a lot called Your Name by Makoto Shinkai. So, I’m counting that one.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: four calling birds.

Since series usually consist of four or more books, what is your favorite series?

Does this need to be a question? Warriors by Erin Hunter, hands down.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: five golden rings.

One ring to rule them all! Who is your favorite villain/antagonist?

Voldemort from Harry Potter. He’s scary.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: six geese a laying.

Creation is a beautiful thing. What is your favorite world/world-building?

I’m saying Harry Potter again. I want my letter!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: seven swans a swimming.

Who needs seven swans when all it takes is one good animal sidekick? Who’s your favorite animal sidekick?

O’Ryan the cat from Carol J. Perry’s Witch City Mystery series. That cat is awesome and totally knows what’s up.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: eight maids a milking.

Milk is so 18th century. Which book series takes beverages/food to a whole new level?

Honestly, I guess I could say Harry Potter again? Chocolate frogs are good. Unless cookbooks count and then I’d say the Nerdy Nummies cookbook by Rosanna Pansino.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: nine ladies dancing.

Dancing is just one skill of a lady! Who is your favorite kickass female lead?

Nora White from the Nora White story by Yecheilyah Ysrayl.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: ten lords a leaping.

How about your favorite leading lad?

Looking back on books I read this year, I enjoyed Davis from Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. He wasn’t necessarily the “leading” character, but I enjoyed him all the same.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me: eleven pipers piping.

What is your favorite book or bookish thing with a musical influence? (It can be about music, reference music a lot, etc.)

Believe it not, I haven’t really read anything that has to do with music. Or, not that I can recall, anyway. So, I’m going to go with El Deafo by Cece Bell, a graphic novel memoir about the author who got ill and lost her hearing and goes through the struggles of that.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: 12 drummers drumming.

Drum roll please… what is your favorite read of this year?

I really enjoyed Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. I thought it was very inspiring and true to life.

And there you have it. The 12 days of Christmas book tag. Thanks again to Ari for tagging me! Feel free to do this tag on your own blog. If you do, send me a link. I’d love to see your answers.

Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What are your answers? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 243: Object

Short Story: "Object" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

“I want you to reach your hand into the box and pull out the first thing you feel.” Mr. Grayson picked up a good sized box from his desk. It looked like an ordinary box. One he may have reused after ordering something online. Red construction paper was tapes all around it as though that would make it look more appealing to the class. He shook it in his hands showing his students there was a good amount of items inside the box.

“Is there candy inside?” one of the kids asked while raising their hand.

Mr. Grayson shrugged. “Why don’t you stick your hand in and find out?”

She withdrew her hand and placed her hands under her desk. “I don’t want to go first.”

Mr. Grayson chuckled. “I didn’t put bugs or anything inside in the box. I assure you all this is perfectly safe.”

“You’re asking us to go in blind.” Another student piped up.

“I’m asking you to trust me.” Mr. Grayson sighed. He scanned the room with his gaze. “Guys, this is but a simple writing exercise. Come on.”

Trevor, sitting in the front, raised his hand. “Fine, I’ll go first.”

“Excellent!” Mr. Grayson brought the box over to his. There was a felt flap covering a perfect circle cutout on the side of the box. “No peeking, turn the other way. Stick your hand in and grab the first thing you touch.”

Trevor did what he was told. He closed his eyes and stretched his arm forward, Mr. Grayson having to move the box so Trevor’s hand would actually go in. When Trevor brought his arm back out, he opened his eyes.

“A lollipop?” he asked.

Mr. Grayson nodded with a smile.

The girl who asked about the candy shot her arm through the arm. “I’ll go next!” she beamed.

Mr. Grayson brought the box over to her. She reached in and pulled something out excitedly. The smile quickly faded when she realized she had grabbed a baby apple. The class giggled and she looked up at Mr. Grayson in frustration.

He shrugged. “Don’t blame me, blame the box.” He turned around. “Who wants to go next?”

A few students raised their hands and he went around the room allowing them to take their time pulling objects out of the box.

“I got a pencil.”

“A rock?”

“Cool, I got an old cell phone!”

“I got a fridge magnet of the letter R.”

“Is this a bottle cap? Mr. Grayson, do you like beer?”

Mr. Grayson shook his head. “It’s from a Coca-Cola bottle.”

“Sure…”

“Rod, it’s red and has the Coke symbol on it.”

“Oh.”

Mr. Grayson chuckled as he made his way back to the front of the class. “Alright, did everyone have a turn? Do we all have some sort of object?”

He saw nods come from everyone in the class. Looking at all the desks, he could see everyone has something random in front of them. He gazed at the front row and sighed upon seeing a stick hanging out of Trevor’s mouth.

“I didn’t say you could eat the lollipop, Trev.”

“Oh… Sorry.” He said, his words muffled from the candy.

“Alright,” Mr. Grayson said clapping his hands together. “Get out your notebooks. I’m going to set a timer for ten minutes and I want all of you to write a story about your object. It can be as simple as describing it or you can write a background story for it.”

“How am I supposed to write a background story for my apple…?” Brooke held it up balancing it in the palm of her hand.

“The baby apple is but a child. The tree is its home, the surrounding apples its friends and family. How do you think it felt being plucked off his home? Being carried away from its family? How did it get from that tree to your hands? What kind of journey did it endure?” Mr. Grayson rattled off ideas as though he had already written a store about the apple himself.

Brooke stared at him in confusion and also like he was crazy.

“Use your imagination. Write whatever comes to your mind.” Mr. Grayson concluded. “I’m going to set the timer for 10 minutes starting…” he looked at the clock waiting for the second hand to get onto the 12. “Now!”

The kids picked up their writing utensils in unison and began to work, the student who got the pencil using that pencil to write.

Mr. Grayson smiled down at Trevor. “I hope you remember what that lollipop looked like.”

Trevor took the stick out of his mouth, the hard candy completely gone. “I do. I know what it tastes and smells like too.” He grinned.

Mr. Grayson chuckled. “Touche.”

Trevor picked up his pen and began to write.

Words: 805

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around. Also, check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Warriors: Omen Of The Stars 3: Night Whispers By Erin Hunter [Book Review]

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Book Review: Warriors: Omen of the Stars 3: Night Whispers by Erin Hunter | Book Blogger | Middle Grade | Fantasy | Fiction | Blogging | Books | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I bought a hardcover copy a long time ago.

Summary:

After the sharp-eyed Jay and the roaring Lion, peace will come on Dove’s gentle wing.

The deadly battle between ThunderClan and ShadowClan is over, but the aftermath still echoes around all four Clans. As Dovepaw grapples with the knowledge that there are realms–and cats–her senses cannot reach, Jayfeather and Lionblaze are determined to figure out how StarClan could have allowed this fight to happen. Jayfeather soon finds the answer in the darkest of places, and he and Lionblaze prepare to do whatever they can to staunch the flow of evil into ThunderClan.

The ties that bind the Clans are slowly breaking in the face of the greatest threat that the warriors–and the warrior code–have ever known. As leaf-bare closes its grip upon the territories, Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Dovepaw realize just how close the battle is, and how far they are from being able to succeed. And before the prey can run again, one more cat will be lost to the fight.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover has been updated since the book was originally released, but I do enjoy the first edition. It’s simple, showcasing one of the main cats the book is about, with some context clues in the background. It’s not as pretty as the new cover, but as always, it’s well done.

Plot | RachelPoli.comA lot of this book revolves around the characters wondering if they did the right then when they decided to battle against ShadowClan in the previous book. They have doubts and are unsure of where to get next, especially since StarClan is telling them to break up and not converse with the other Clans anymore – not even the medicine cats.

The stakes are raised in this book and there are a lot of tense moments, which really sucked me into the plot.

Characters | RachelPoli.comThis book focused a lot more on Ivypaw as she’s the one being manipulated by the cats in the Dark Forest. Dovepaw and Ivypaw find out each other’s secrets and try to deal with them in the middle of surviving each day while trying to figure out the prophecy.

As always, these characters are fun to revisit and I enjoy following the two sisters alongside Lionblaze and Jayfeather, the two brothers, as they figure out how to help their Clan.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The writing style is similar to the other books. Some of the chapters are longer than others, but each one is a quick read and I found myself always turning the pages. The book left off on a deep cliffhanger with a surprise death that completely shocked me and threw me for a loop. So that was very well done.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was probably my favorite book of Omen of the Stars so far. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Warriors: Omen of the Stars 3: Night Whispers by Erin Hunter gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“It was never worth the blood that has been spilled here today.” -Erin Hunter, Warriors: Omen of the Stars 3: Night Whispers

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Time To Write: Set The Scene 12

Last week’s writing prompt was a sentence starter. Check out some pieces from fellow writers:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time to write: set the scene - snowed in | creative writing | writing prompt | short story | flash fiction | RachelPoli.com

Write a story set in the scene given above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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A New Way Of Planning

Getting sick of my 2019-prep blog posts? Too bad, I’m pulling content out of my rear while I prep for 2019.

A New Way of Planning | Blogging | Blog Posts | Creative writing | RachelPoli.com

I’ve actually decided to do something a little different for next year. I always try to stay a month ahead in my blogging – sometimes it works and other times too many things get in the way and I end up behind. So, I figured I might try to plan a little differently for 2019.

I’m still going to try my best to stay ahead of the game next year, but instead of just doing the planning a month in advance, I’m going to try to plan the whole year.

Sounds like a lot, I know.

But I think if I brainstorm enough content ideas and themes, I can come up with blog post ideas along the way and have the ability to write them a month in advance – or, at least the ones that can be written in advance.

My calendar planner goes from June to July, so I won’t be able to get my 2019-2020 planner (wow, that’s weird to write) until May or so, but that’s what notebooks are for, right? Or, at the very least, I can plan the first six months of the year.

I already know some content changes I’ll be making to the blog, which I’ve already talked a little about. You know, more personal than educational with writing, reading, and blogging. I’ll talk more about why I’m changing that in a blog post in January.

Still, I have a lot of ideas and new features that I need to plan out and organize. I think looking at the year as a whole and getting a basic idea of how I want each month to go will be ideal.

How are you planning for 2019? How do you prep your blog posts? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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A Personal Reading Goal

Books have a way of creeping into our souls and staying with us for beyond our years. We learn a lot from them and they allow us to escape reality. They’re relaxing and yet we feel empowered to do anything and everything we put our minds to.

It’s no secret that I adore the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. If you follow my book reviews, you’ll notice that I’ve picked up the series yet again.

Most people love Harry Potter and read that series over and over again. I’ve only read the series once – I love it to death and have seen the movies too many times to count. However, if there’s a book series I’m going to go back to and re-read, it will always be Warriors.

A Personal Reading Goal | Reading | Books | Book Blogger | Goals | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

The very first book of the whole series came out in January 2003. This was the book that originally got me into reading in the first. I was 11-years-old. I’m 25 now and the series is still going on.

Yeah, seriously. The Warriors series as a whole is broken up into multiple mini-series of six books each. The first book of their seventh series comes out in April 2019. I actually grew up with these books and have tried my best to keep up with the series.

Of course, it’s easy to get behind. There are – currently – 36 main series books, 15 manga books, 11 standalone titles, 6 guides, and 12 novellas. I’m not even going to do that math, but I know the 36 will soon become 42 once the new series comes out in a few months.

With that said, I’ve clearly gotten behind. There are other books to be read and, with this blog, I accept review requests from authors. So, I don’t always end up “choosing” what to read next. My backlog can get pretty long.

Once in a while, when I get into a reading slump, I go back to the series. It helps me enjoy reading again and makes me feel like I want to read all the books in the world. I’m on book five out of six for the Omen of the Stars series, which is the fourth series. That means I have two other series left to read before the seventh comes out in April.

So, that’s what I’m hoping to do. I’ll be spreading the book reviews out so this doesn’t become the “Warriors” blog, but I’m determined to catch up with the whole series buy the time the next book is released at the beginning of April.

Wish me luck.

The only downside I can see to this is that once I catch up, I’m no longer going to be able to binge the series. Once the next book comes out I’ll have to wait six months for the next one just like everyone else.

Do you have a childhood book or series that you read or reread to this day? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Blog Prep For 2019

2019 is right around the corner. I have no idea where 2018 went… I don’t even know where December is going. I can’t believe we’re just about halfway through the month. It’s crazy.

December has always been a month of reflection and prep for me. Looking back of all that I’ve accomplished this year and looking ahead to see how I can improve and keep going in the following year. There’s a lot I plan to do in 2019, so this month hasn’t been any different from past Decembers.

Blog Prep for 2019 | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

I’ve been brainstorming and getting things prepped for 2019 since September/October. I don’t know why, but I always get in the mood to look ahead to the new year around that time. Maybe that’s why things go so fast. I rush it without meaning to.

Anyway…

2019 will be big!

My blog posts and the type of content I publish will be slightly different next year. Nothing too drastic, but more “personal” and “real,” if you will. I’ll also be doing something a little different with the guest posts that I host on the blog as well.

I’m thinking of new marketing ideas for the blog along with other things (you know, like my book).

There will also be three new… things? Features? Whatever you want to call them. I’m still working on them and have no idea when they’ll start, but I’m hoping all of them will happen in 2019. One will be on the blog, one is for the blog but on something else, and the other is unrelated to the blog.

So, there are those three things along side regular blogging and writing. I’ve gotten a decent head start on things though, so hopefully soon!

With that said, there’s still a lot of prep work I need to do for the month of December. It’s not easy with the holidays, but I’m excited and hope you guys will enjoy the many things to come!

Are you doing any prepping for the new year for your own work? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Meet Aurora Jean Alexander, Author [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome AJ Alexander to my blog!

Aurora Jean Alexander | Author | Writer | Creative writing | author interview | blogging | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Aurora Jean Alexander. I grew up in a family involved into politics and was blessed with an excellent education in several countries, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in BA. I was very lucky. I’m living by myself with three cats, working a full time job and I am a new Paranormal Romance/Fantasy author. Currently I work on a series with 13 books. My first book is close to be published.

How long have you been writing for?

I doubt I can tell you one particular time or even time frame when I started writing. I felt that’s what I wanted to do. Since I lack a talent in painting and drawing I had to do something with my creativity and decided that’s the way to do it.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

I’m not sure there ever was “a start”. I learned to write at the age of four and I remember developing little stories since I’m a Kindergarten kid. In school, when others complained about essays, mine were easily 6 – 10 pages long, I enjoyed it so much.

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

I still, after all these years write my first drafts by hand. When I type them into the computer it gives me the chance to go through the story and the plot again and catch flaws and mistakes within the story, even the characters.

Since I’m working a full time job there isn’t a particular daily routine. I write whenever I have the chance to. I usually have several books in different states of “completed”, which means, I either write by hand, type into the computer or edit existing manuscripts before they go to my editor.

Have you thought about self-publishing or traditional publishing? Are you leaning towards one over the other? If so, why?

I’m definitely going with self-publishing. The process of the traditional publishing is extremely long. The submitting, the rejections, the small exclusive circles of the ones deciding whether my work is “good enough” for them is grueling and even cruel and hurtful at times. I’d like to publish my books before my retirement.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I’m working on this particular series, which needs all my time and concentration. I love working on these books. Each character is very demanding and teaches me a lot. Right now I’m working on the seventh and eighth book in the series, which I’m drafting. Book six needs to be typed in. The first book is with my copyright lawyer, my editor is working on book 2 and book three to five are waiting in my editors inbox.

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

I’m as well a musician as also a Martial Arts expert. I figure I would have gone with one of these talents to build a career.

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

The writing is the “smallest” part, so to speak. Networking, promotion, marketing, connections, these are the parts that sell the books and need a lot of time and even money. The ones telling that self-publishing is for free are definitely wrong.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

One of my favorite books is one of the best books ever written: James Clavell’s Shogun. It is absolutely fascinating, bases on extensive research and has not only what a good book needs, but much more.

Other than that I’m a big fan of fantasy and paranormal romance. Not Science Fiction so much because the technical explanations in these books are straining my simple, non-technical brain cells. LOL

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write your stories down. They will never see the light of the day as long as they only exist in your head. And never give up!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Networking is one of the main things to do for new writers. Start early enough. Starting with networking a few weeks before your book is published won’t do.

Additionally keep in mind that you don’t only find ‘helpful connections’ when networking. You have the chance to find amazing writers, supportive and encouraging authors and friends! Keep them in your heart and share your success with them. Let them be part of your life and help them as much as they help you!

About AJ

I’m a new paranormal romance author working on a fantasy/paranormal romance series. I have written short stories and poetry in the past and now am intensely working on a 13-book-series of novellas and novels.

My rare free time I’m spending in extreme reading, excessive pool swimming and playing monster-monopoly. My strongest support system are my sister, most of my family, my friends and my three cats.

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Pre-order Soul Taker (The Council of Twelve 1) by A.J. Alexander

Soul Taker by AJ Alexander | Book blog | author interview | Preorder | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comAfter long years in the line of duty as a ‘Soul Taker’, Kate is worn out.
When she gets a new job offer from the ‘Powers Above’, she accepts her new job as a Guardian gratefully without knowing that her teacher is one of the most powerful beings in existence, the Archangel Raphael.
Along with Raphael, she takes on her new task and the connection between them grows.
Raphael helps, protects and supports Kate, but suddenly, she becomes a target for the Demons of Hell.
Raphael realizes that Kate means more to him than he expected, which causes him to fight furiously against danger. If he fails, Kate’s future will contain eternal darkness, evil, and torture.
‘Soul Taker’, 1st book of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is available for pre-order right now and will be published December 15, 2018.

Short Story Sunday 242: Knit

Short Story: "Knit" | Creative writing | flash fiction | blogging | RachelPoli.com

When the party was over, Devin’s family and a couple of his friends trickled out of the house. He smiled, hugged and kissed, and waved to each and every one of them in the doorway thanking them for their gifts and for coming. He was 13 now. It was a big milestone.

He closed the front door and went back into the kitchen where his mother was cleaning up.

“Do you need any help?” he asked slowly. He was hoping she’d say no, but he thought he’d be polite.

“No, dear. You got upstairs and enjoy your gifts.” His mother said smiling at him over her shoulder.

Devin let out a sigh of relief, but he was hoping she didn’t notice. “Okay, well thank you for everything today. I had a great day.”

His mother turned off the faucet and dried her hands on a towel turning around. She leaned against the counter. “I’m glad you had a good day. I still can’t believe you’re 13…”

Devin smiled sheepishly looking down.

“That was some blanket, huh?”

Devin snapped his head up. “You couldn’t tell I was…?”

“Surprised?” his mother winked.

“Sure,”

His mother smiled somberly. “You know your grandmother hasn’t been doing too well. I had to keep reminding her about your birthday. She was so excited and wanted to make something special for you. Remember she made you a baby blanket? For some reason, she had her heart set on making another blanket for you for this milestone.”

Devin nodded. This was making a lot more sense. He knew his grandmother wasn’t doing too hot in the nursing home. In fact, every day they wondered if it would be her last. It took a lot for them to get her out of the nursing home just so she could come to his party.

“I mean, it’s a nice blanket. It’s very soft.” Devin replied positively. It was true; it was soft to the touch. Due to the rainbow of colors, it might just have to stay inside his closet.

“It took her three months. Her knitting hands aren’t exactly what they used to be. But I think that was the kind of project she needed. She’s been so lonely in the nursing home.” His mother explained. “I’m proud that you didn’t make any disgusted faces… she specifically asked for those colors. I picked up the yarn for her. I tried to leave out the orange claiming I had forgotten about it, but she sent me right back to the store.”

Devin laughed. “Well, thank you for trying.”

“She means well.” His mother shrugged chuckling.

Devin frowned.

“What is it?”

“I never got a chance to thank her.”

His mother smiled. “Oh, that’s no problem. We can go to the nursing home and visit her.”

Devin nodded. “I think she’d like that.”

Words: 805

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around. Also, check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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