Monday, October 22, 2018

Carrie Mouse is Here!

It's here! Carrie Mouse is here and we've got an awesome blog tour lined up, plus a giveaway you won't want to miss. Check it out!

Martha Squirrel made her journey down the big hill seem like a grand adventure. But what happens when Carrie Mouse disobeys her mama and explores the giant garage?

Inspired by a true story, Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage tells the story of a young mouse who gets trapped in the garage of the human house at the bottom of the hill. Beautifully illustrated with clay sculptures, this is a book you won’t want to miss!

Tour Schedule

Monday, October 22
~Tour Announcement at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
~Book Review at Knitted By God’s Plan

Tuesday, October 23
~Book Spotlight at Jaye L. Knight
~Author Interview at The Music of a Story

Wednesday, October 24
~Book Review/Spotlight at Resting Life
~ Illustrator Interview at GeorgiaPolitics

Thursday, October 25
~Book Review/Spotlight at Jenelle Schmidt
~Author Interview at GeorgiaPolitics


Rebekah and I will be giving away a signed copy of Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage with a handmade Carrie Mouse doll! Second prize is a signed copy of the book only. Be sure to enter the giveaway!

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 15, 2018

One More Week!

We're launching Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage in just one week! I'm so excited about this! We've put a lot of work into this book, a lot of figuring things out as we go along, and we're finally done! So for fun, I'm going to give you a list of random facts about the background of this book.

  • It's based on a true story. It sounds kind of funny to say that about a book from the perspective of a mouse, but it's true. A mouse really got trapped in our garage.
  • I initially wrote it when I was seven. Yup, a super grown up seven. ;)
  • I illustrated the first version myself with crayon and gave it to my dad. I believe the cover was yellow.
  • It was the first book we actually seriously considered publishing. Way back when I was a kid. Obviously we didn't do it back then.
  • My cousin was going to illustrate it, but didn't.
  • I've never been able to let go of the idea of publishing this book. Obviously, since I'm doing it now.
  • I initially wanted my sister to make clay figures that we could pose in the original locations, but that never happened.
  • The current illustration style is inspired by Barbara Reid and Bekah did a fantabulous job on them.
  • We have more ideas for stories—mostly just topics, but there's one about playing the piano I've mostly thought out and just need to sit down and write.
  • Just one week left until the launch!

P.S. If you want to help with the blog tour, I can still fit you in. Sign up here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Ranger's Apprentice Series Review Part 3

PSA: We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to inform you that Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage is on its way to availability on Amazon and Etsy, and a blog tour is in the works. Thank you.

Now back to Ranger's Apprentice.

When my youngest sister hadn't yet read Bridge to Terebithia, my middle sister, Rebekah, and I made up all kinds of crazy things to keep from giving her spoilers—which included the now infamous Burke the Kangaroo. I think Burke was pink or blue or something. But anyway, as I read Ranger's Apprentice, my mom and sisters kept telling me things like "Halt has an evil twin," and "Halt dies," and I could never be sure what was real and what was simply Burke. I have lived to regret the day of Burke the Kangaroo.

Oh goodness, what can I even say about this one without giving major spoilers? There's a cult in neighboring Clonmel, one serving "the golden god," where this supposed god demands all your gold in exchange for "protection" from fabricated attacks. Halt is investigating some of this, and so misses the Gathering. The Gathering where Will is helping some of the apprentices with a tactical exercise which sounds suspiciously like Will's siege, only missing Skandians and a "reformed sorcerer." But also, he isn't there because he doesn't want to influence Will's decision on the opportunity to move back to Redmont. Which he obviously takes and Alyss would have dragged him back there if he said no, so anyway.

Halt really does have an evil twin! Like, what even? Ferris, king of Clonmel, is Halt's brother who tried to kill him for the throne, like three times. Clonmel is part of Hibernia, where Halt is from, so Halt is familiar with the country. And with the cult. This cult, the Outsiders, is doing considerable harm to Clonmel. And King Ferris is doing nothing about it. So Halt, Will, and Horace set out to do something themselves. And oh, goodness, when you get those three together it's just about the best thing ever. I laughed out loud so many times reading this book.

I love all the Halt backstory, I love Will being a jongleur again, I love the coffee obsession, I love the impersonation that takes place...I can't say I love the trial by combat because Horace was drugged and he could have died, but I love this book so much!

This is the book where they have Halt's funeral. No really. They have his funeral.

And it's up to you to decide if you think that's Burke the Kangaroo or not. Or you could just read the book. Don't start with this one, though. You'll be lost.

This. Book. Halt, Will, and Horace are still chasing after Tennyson, leader of the Outsiders. There's some good humor and it's great and then HALT GETS SHOT WITH A POISONED ARROW AND HE'S DYING AND IT'S JUST ABOUT THE WORST THING EVER. Things couldn't be worse. They need Malcolm, and they don't really have the time to get him, so they have to Scorpion Halt (I'm making that a thing...if you watched Scorpion and then read this book, you should know what I mean), and oh my goodness. I knew what they were going to have to do to get the information they needed, but still. Just wow. And they STILL have to take care of the Outsiders. It's quite intense.

But I have to say, I LOVE Horace getting to wear a Ranger cloak. "Can you see me now?" It's the best. XD

If you don't want to know whether Halt actually dies in this book, read no further.

Every time I'd glance quickly at this cover, I'd think there was a Dalek on it. Is that weird?

So this one wasn't my favorite of the series because it wasn't quite as funny as previous books (and also I read about half of it half asleep so I think I missed a few things), but I still really liked it. It still does have funny parts, though, like "Halt? Are you awake?" and then just as Will drifts off to sleep: "Will? Are you asleep?"

Horace has been hanging out in the country of Nihon-Ja with Emperor Shigeru, learning about their military strategy and fighting style. Emperor Shigeru is rather fond of Horace (Or'ss-san, as the Nihon-Jan call him...or Kurokuma, a term of great respect XD). George, his former wardmate, is actually there too, so he gets a bigger part than he has in a long time. But things happen in Nihon-Ja—something like attempted usurpation—and Horace decides to stay to help, effectively disappearing. Luckily George is able to get word to their friends.

Will, Halt, and Alyss are in Toscana helping the Toscans and the Arridi (including Selethen of Erak's Ransom) negotiate a treaty. And then Evanlyn comes to ask them to assist her in helping Horace in Nihon-Ja. Which of course they agree to do. Selethen wants to come, and Gundar Hardstriker is the one to take them to Nihon-Ja in his wolfship. And so they set out, the girls squabbling all the way. And of course Will is totally perplexed as to why their enmity has to do with him. He's so dense when it comes to girls. There's a lot of strategy and fighting and the girls have to go on a mission together. That certainly gets interesting. Gotta love it.

Oh, their nicknames. Why Horace is called Kurokuma. What Will's nickname, Chocho means. And then there are proposals. :D Horace is getting married. And Will makes a half proposal. XD

This is a collection of short stories. There are some really good stories in here. There's one about Will's father: how he met Halt, how he died, how Halt acquired Will. There's also one about how Halt and Crowley met that explains about Halt's training, which is pretty awesome. It also deals with the havoc Morgarath wreaked on Araluen and the Ranger Corp...sets up for the Early Years books. :)

There's one about what Gilan did while Halt and Horace were off to rescue Will and Evanlyn. That one was good. So was Jenny's ruined dinner date. I hope I never have a date like that one. I'd kind of like not to have my life threatened. XD

I enjoyed The Roamers, where Will's dog gets stolen by gypsies and Will and Alyss go to find her. The Wolf was sad. It's about what happens when Ranger horses when they get too old for work. It made me so sad. Not that they do anything bad to the horses, but it's still really sad.

My three favorites, though, are Purple Prose, The Bridal Dance, and And About Time, Too... Purple Prose is pretty awesome. Will and Halt have to deal with some bad guys who are crashing ships to plunder, but that's not what it's really about. It's about Will writing the best man's speech for Horace's the best purple prose he can muster. It's great. The Bridal Dance is about Horace and Evanlyn's wedding, and of course there's a threat. It's a legitimate threat, but the wedding must go on. Will almost missed the bridal dance by dealing with the threat, and earned a warning from his girlfriend Alyss: "You'd better be there at ours." Which is in And About Time, Too... Despite being very short, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED that one. It was beautiful, and I echo Halt: "And about time, too." It made me so happy, but bittersweet because I knew Alyss was going to die before the next book. 

All in all, I loved The Lost Stories. It's great.

To be continued...

Monday, October 1, 2018

Ranger's Apprentice Series Review Part 2

I like, seriously, want to name a son William Horace someday. I've always liked William, and I couldn't decide on the perfect middle name, but naming a kid after both Will and Horace? Perfection. And I want a daughter named Alyss too. 

Will's no longer an apprentice, and he has his own fief: Seacliff, where basically nothing ever happens. It's where they send the rookies. Will's already seen plenty in his young life, so the prospect of a sleepy little fief isn't particularly appealing. Far away from Redmont and all his friends. With just his horse Tug and the injured dog he found on the way, for whom he can't choose a name. Have I talked about Tug before? Tug is so awesome and a character in his own right. Ranger horses are amazing. They can't be stolen (heehee), they never have to be tethered because they won't wander off, they have incredible speed and stamina, they're very smart, and they always get the last word with their masters. Yes, the Rangers talk to their horses. They just don't like to do it with other people around. "Stop talking to your horse, dear."—from The Royal Ranger

Seacliff is about to be attacked by Skandians, but Will knows Skandians, and more importantly is a good friend of the Oberjarl Erak. So that works out and he makes friends with Gundar Hardstriker in the process, and then Halt and Ranger Commandant Crowley send for him because they need him for a special mission. There's something odd going on at Norgate fief in the north, as Lord Syron has a mysterious illness that many are blaming on the Sorcerer of the North. Alyss, as a Courier and a member of the Diplomatic Service, is also going to Norgate to investigate. Will is to be disguised as a jongleur, as he'll be better able to find out what's going on because you play for people, they talk around you. And Will does NOT play the lute. He plays the mandola, which is like the mandolin, but a fifth lower (to the mandolin what the viola is to the violin). And he's always trying to explain it to people, because people always call it a lute, but it isn't— Anyway, Halt absolutely hates music, especially Will's parody song "Graybeard Halt," which Crowley loves, by the way.

"Halt! How are you? What have you been doing? Where's Abelard [Halt's horse]? How's Crowley? What's this all about?"
"I'm glad to see you rate my horse more important than our Corps Commandant."

Crowley's really awesome and the anti-Halt and the banter between those two. XD

And I know I'm going on longer about this one than the others so far, but anyway, Will and Alyss get to do stuff together, though under cover, and they have to figure out who to trust at Norgate and if the sorcerer is really a sorcerer, and they get scared by the "Night Warrior" but Alyss figures it out, and then Halt and Crowley are like "We need to send someone to help Will. Who should we send? Horace!", but Horace doesn't get there in time, and Alyss gets taken prisoner, and Will tries to rescue her but he fails and AAAAAAHHHH!!!!! It ends there.

Will's. Siege. Is. AWESOME!!! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Things reeeeally aren't going too well in Norgate Fief. There's a traitor in Castle Macindaw, and someone Will cares about is imprisoned, and Alyss is being hypnotized by an evil dude, and there are Scotti invaders coming, and if Macindaw falls, they'll have a strong foothold in Araluen. But Horace is on his way and Malcolm, the healer who lives in the woods with a band of deformed outcasts, turns out to be super awesome, and Gundar has been shipwrecked in the area, so at least Will has allies.

Will's determined to besiege Macindaw because he has to save Alyss, and so he presents this to Horace, who tells him he needs three or four times the amount of men there are in Macindaw to conduct his siege. And Will's numbers, well:

"Including you and me?"
"I think you'd better include you and me."
"Twenty seven."
"Twenty seven?"
"They're Skandians."
"They'd better be."

And Will's strategy is BRILLIANT. Like, so much so that Crowley sends a report to all the other Rangers for them to study. Oh, by the way, Malcolm is afraid he's going to run out of coffee with Will and Horace around. And Will can't draw. His cartwheels so aren't round and his perspective is terrible and that exchange is awesome. And Horace can't sit still for several hours without making up a poem—at Will's suggestion!—that Will refuses to help him remember. And there's a declaration of love and it made me so happy and it makes Horace happy too even though he isn't a part of it, and I LOVE the very end of this book. It's perfection. And Halt calls Will "son." I can't even say how much that warmed my heart.

This one actually takes place prior to book 5, and honestly, if you want it to be more suspenseful, read it first. It was really good and I enjoyed it very much, but I knew they all had to survive intact because they were okay in 5 and 6.

It starts out with a wedding at Redmont. :D I'm so glad Halt and Pauline finally got married. I mean, it took him about 20 years and realizing he'll be lonely when Will graduates to propose! She has the patience of a saint. Halt even got a real haircut instead of trimming it himself with his saxe knife. XD And the Bores' table. There has to be a Bores' table at a wedding. That's where you put all the boring, annoying, and/or weird people you have to invite but don't want bothering your normal guests. I loved how when I was talking to the girl at the library about it, she told her mom "You have to have a Bores' table."

The story is about how Erak has been captured by the Arridi and Halt, Will, Horace, Gilan, and Evanlyn, along with Erak's former first mate Svengal go to rescue him. But what seems like it'll be a simple mission goes horribly wrong. People get kidnapped, a horse gets lost in a sandstorm, the Tulaghi attack our friends, Will almost dies of dehydration in the desert, he almost loses Tug forever only you know Tug was in 5 and 6 so he has to get him back, they make new friends and almost die multiple times in multiple situations, and Evanlyn is awesome with her sling (unlike me), and Alyss stayed behind even though Pauline told her she could go if she wanted but Alyss is afraid she'll hit Evanlyn in the head with an oar. I'd shipped Will and Alyss in book 1, Will and Evanlyn in books 3 and 4, but 5 started me shipping Will and Alyss again, so I felt her pain.

SOOOOOOO many bad things happen in this book, but it's funny too, like how they all needle Halt when he gets seasick. And then when Will graduates. Oh, goodness. It's so funny the way they do it to avoid giving the apprentices big heads. I love it. And Crowley's suggestions for Will's last name. They don't know his real one and there are other Wills in the Ranger Corp, so they decide to do something related to one of his accomplishments. Like Will Boar Killer or Will o' the Bridge—but that one sounded too much like will o' the wisp. He becomes Will Treaty, and it suits him perfectly. He's a true Ranger now, with a silver oakleaf.

P.S. I was poking around on Overdrive while I was reading the series and found the German language editions—my library doesn't have them, I was looking at books eligible for suggestion. Apparently the German title of this one translates "The Prisoner of the Desert People," which is quite an accurate name.

To be continued...

*This book contains one usage of the word b---h, the only instance of any language worse than d--n. D--n is used with some frequency, but it seemed to me to lessen as the series went on.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Ranger's Apprentice Series Review Part 1

Yes, part 1. I'm not crazy enough to think I can manage to review the entirety of this AMAZINGLY AWESOME SERIES THAT YOU HAVE TO READ RIGHT NOW in just one blog post. 

Before I get started, a few housekeeping notes. I'm not going to be able to write these posts without giving any spoilers. It's just not possible. But I'm going to try to make it easy for you to skip them if you so choose. Rather than just writing "spoiler" in red (because there are bound to be an inordinate amount of spoilers), I'm going to make anything I (or my mom or sisters) consider spoilery the color of the background. If you want to read it, highlight the text and it will appear.

Now then.

This is the book that started it all. Will, an orphan in the ward at Redmont fief, wants to be a knight. He wants to go to Battleschool more than anything. His fellow wardmate Horace is even chosen to go to Battleschool. But Will is too small. He is chosen to train as a Ranger. "Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people."—from John Flanagan's website. They're amazingly good at archery, riding, unseen movement, silent movement, strategy, and they're quite addicted to coffee, though that doesn't come in for several books. They each protect a fief in the kingdom of Araluen, but the Ranger Corp is an organization unto itself that answers only to the king, not to the fief's baron. However, Ranger Halt and Baron Arald of Redmont fief are good friends, and also good friends of King Duncan. And Halt is an especially good friend of Redmont's Courier, Pauline, just as Will is good friends with Pauline's new apprentice and his former wardmate Alyss.

Now, it may come as a shock that I didn't absolutely love the first book. It was interesting and I liked it, sure, but I wasn't nearly as invested as I am now. Other people have gotten hooked on the series with the first book, like a little girl at the library who went to a Ranger's Apprentice themed horse camp where they introduced her to the series, and now she's devouring them. It's a good setup for the series. It establishes quite well most of the major players in the series (a few don't come in until book 2, though), and creates long lasting friendships. And Will performs his first significant act of the series, in a fight against evil former baron of Gorlan, Morgarath. But now, Will getting his first Ranger horse. It happens to them all and it never gets old.

Morgarath has been trapped behind impassable mountains for years, but now it appears he may be devising a plan to attack Araluen at last. Will, Horace, and Halt's former apprentice Gilan set out on a mission and discover Morgarath's evil deeds.

I liked this one better than the first. Will, Horace, and Gilan are pretty awesome together, like when Gilan's teaching them the two knife defense against a sword and they create a scenario where a Ranger is facing an opponent with a battleax, is backed up against a cliff, and his bowstring is broken. "Jump. It'll be less messy that way." Another key character is introduced in this book: Evanlyn, also known as Princess Cassandra. Also introduced is Erak, the Skandian, who is basically a viking. You wouldn't think from the circumstances Erak would be a good character, but he actually turns out to be quite awesome. Halt throws people into moats, even though Pauline doesn't exactly approve—hey, Alyss suggested it the second time!—a bridge gets burned, Horace kills Morgarath, and Will and Evanlyn are kidnapped as slaves. And there it ends!

This is where I got totally, irrevocably, forevermore hooked on this series. Will and Evanlyn are sold into slavery in Skandia. King Duncan can't send Halt after them for internal danger issues, so Halt publicly insults the king, and his treasonous behavior gets him banished from Araluen. Halt takes Horace with him to rescue Will and Evanlyn.

And WILL GETS ADDICTED TO WARMWEED AND HE'S NOT HIMSELF AND IT'S JUST TERRIBLE AND AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!! That's how I got hooked on the series. It tore out my heart and I just can't. But Halt and Horace together are totally awesome. The humor. And there's this really terrible, unbelievably awful guy they run into that does some really horrendous, unforgivable things just to get a reaction and AAAHHHH!!!! But this is where Horace starts to be called the Oakleaf Knight, and honestly, it's the most appropriate thing ever because he spends just as much time hanging out with Rangers as he does in Battleschool. (The Rangers all wear oakleaves: bronze for apprentices, silver for active Rangers, gold for retired ones.) Though at first Halt thought maybe he'd said "Oak Pancake." XD And I believe it's this book where it's said Will started the honey-in-coffee thing, though in later books, Halt's the one who started it and passed it on to his apprentices and Horace.

This battle gave me such bad writer envy. Seriously. Next time I need to write a battle I need to reread it and The Siege of Macindaw. People are captured and Will, Halt, and Horace are finally reunited, and the Temujai are attacking Skandia, and goodness gracious, that battle! Only Will's siege tops it.

There's Halt and Horace's "what" exchange, the Vallasvow against the royal family of Araluen, Halt's stash of forged seals, Erak being Erak—sounding like a bear crashing in the forest and causing problems with it, awesome battle strategy, Will being amazing, Horace being amazing, Halt being amazing, Evanlyn being amazing. And then Erak is elected Oberjarl and so now there can be a treaty between Skandia and Araluen, which is great, and later the reason for Will's last name. It's great. Though I have a hard time remembering what was in #3 and what was in #4. They kinda run together.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Carrie Mouse Scavenger Hunt Winner

Y'all want to see the whole cover, don't you? If you've put it together, lucky duck, you know what it looks like. If you didn't, here you go. :)

Isn't it awesome? I love Rebekah's sculptures, and I love the way it all came together.

But you're wanting to know who won the giveaway, aren't you? The winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be emailing you for your mailing address, and the book and doll will be in the mail as soon as I have a copy to send. The book will be here before we know it!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Carrie Mouse Cover Reveal Scavenger Hunt

It's cover reveal time! I'm so excited about this. It's going to be awesome and you're going to love it. I'm telling you, my sister is one talented person.

We're going to do a scavenger hunt. The cover has been cut into nine different pieces and scattered across the blogosphere. Collect them all, piece them together (you can use something like if you don't have a collage creator handy), and email it to me at hunekeauthor(at)gmail(dot)com to be entered in an extra special giveaway: A book signed by both the author and the illustrator and a handmade Carrie Mouse doll to be shipped upon publication of the book. All entries must be submitted by midnight EDT on Thursday, September 20. The winner will be announced Friday, September 21 right here on my blog. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Here's piece number one to get you started. Links to the other pieces will be down below.

About the Book

Martha Squirrel made her journey down the big hill seem like a grand adventure. But what happens when Carrie Mouse disobeys her mama and explores the giant garage?

Inspired by a true story, Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage tells the story of a young mouse who gets trapped in the garage of the human house at the bottom of the hill. Beautifully illustrated with clay sculptures, this is a book you won’t want to miss!

About the Illustrator

Rebekah Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia with her parents, sisters, and yellow Labrador named Sophie. She has been working with Sculpey since age nine, and sells her creations in the Klay Kottage Etsy shop. She also creates and sells stuffed animals and knitted goods. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing cello and piano. Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage is her first book.

To learn more about Rebekah and her work, visit:
follow @klaykottage on Instagram