Cathedral by Maya Joelle: Release + Book Review

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

This week, I have the pleasure of reviewing Cathedral by Maya Joelle.

“What’s this?” you might be asking. “I’ve never heard of this book before!”

Well, that’s because it hasn’t come out yet! My dear friend Maya is releasing her debut collection on December 18th, and today, you get to read of it before anyone else. (Well, unless you’ve found the other posts in this blog tour.)

Without further ado, I give you Cathedral!

(Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

oh brave one,
oh broken, beautifully brave one,
remember.
remember that no matter how tiny the fragments this time,
how far apart they are scattered,
how long you must search,
he will help you find the pieces of the person you once were
and the image you once bore.


–to the broken ones

Synopsis

In the author’s words, “Cathedral is a collection of poetry and creative prose about beauty in the midst of grief and joy in the face of great sorrow.” Each poem and story is a little piece of the author’s heart, a brick in the cathedral, if you will. Through darkness and light, rays and shadows, Maya Joelle shows that there’s always a little hope, if you care to look for it.

Opinions

If I’m honest, part of the reason I signed up to read this book was because Maya is one of my dearest writer friends. I’m not really a huge poetry person, but I decided to try it anyway. And I’m so glad I did.

Maya’s poetry is so poignant and heartbreaking. A few of the poems brought me to tears, and when I finished reading, there was a lump in my throat. Her use of figurative language was truly beautiful, and the similes and metaphors were absolutely gorgeous.

It was a short read–only about six thousand words–and with my abnormal reading speed, I read it in about 20 minutes. I wish it had lasted longer, it was so beautiful.

I honestly don’t know if I have anything bad to say about this book, other than it was too short. If you love poetry–and even if you don’t–I recommend this book to you, especially if you’re going through grief or hard times of any kind.

Stats

Pages: 55
Genre: Poetry
Year of publication: Cathedral launches December 18, 2021!
Content warnings: discussion of death and grief
My rating: 10/10

Meet My MC: A Writers Linkup

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Today I’ll be participating in a writers linkup hosted by one of my dear friends, Maya Joelle. After participating in the one hosted by Christine Smith about my NaNo novel and having a blast, I know that this one is going to be amazing.

The MC I will be introducing today is Austin Blake Finch from my newest project, Seaglass. Here’s where I’d tell you a little about him, but since that’s what this entire post is about, I’ll refrain.

On to the questions!

1. Introduce your MC. What’s their name? Age? Appearance?

Austin Finch is a 16-year-old junior in public high school. He lives in a small town in southern Florida with his sister, parents, and golden retriever. He has brown hair that falls into his eyes, a lean build, and prefers to dress casually. Austin genuinely enjoys going to church and youth group and hanging out with his buddies there. He’s secretly a bit of a romantic and loves sports and the beach.

Here’s his faceclaim:

source: Bing Images

2. Explain how your MC fits into the plot of your book (as best you can without spoiling it all…).

Um… To be honest, even I don’t really know yet. Seaglass is still a half-baked idea floating around my brain. I do know, however, that he will play an important role in introducing the other MC, Kira.

3. What’s the first thing your MC says in the story? The last? A random quote from the middle that you like?

Again…half-baked idea. But here’s a quote that I randomly came up with in the middle of the night:

“It’s all right,” I told her, touching her shoulder. “Things aren’t okay, and that’s okay.”

“How can you say that?” Kira sniffled. She buried her face in her sweatshirt.

I gazed out over the ocean, relishing the way the sun set in so many firey shades. Just another display of God’s splendor and glory. “You know how they say ‘There’s always darkness before the dawn’? That’s what this is. This is the darkness, and it’ll get lighter.”

She raised her face and looked at me, her eyes shining with unshed tears.

“Just trust me,” I whispered.

4. Which other character would die for your MC?

Austin’s sister, Chloe, a nineteen-year-old. They’re very close, despite their (many) differences. Chloe would without hesitation take a bullet for her “baby” brother.

5. Would your MC die for them?

Definitely. Austin loves his sister, even when they disagree.

6. Have any major details about your MC changed since you first created them?

When I first came up with Austin, he was going to be a background character. I’ve never had a male MC before now, simply because it’s hard for me to get into their heads. But then I realized that the story could much better be told from his point of view and made him an MC.

Also, originally, Austin was going to be a generic, nonreligious character, but I decided to make him a Christian. It fit his personality somehow, and I’m excited to explore this aspect of his personality.

7. What characters (from books/movies not by you) remind you of your MC? Why?

In a way, Austin reminds me of Fitz from the Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger–eager, earnest to do the right thing, and protective. He also emulates Tristan from Kara Swanson’s The Girl Who Could See, a steadying sort of person you can always rely on.

8. Share your MC’s favorites!

Ooh, this is going to be fun. *rubs hands together and grins* I’m not exactly sure how to do this in an interesting-to-read-yet-not-repetitive way, so…a list it is!

  • Colour: Navy blue or maroon. Dark colors.
  • Style of clothing: Comfortable and casual. Sweat shorts and t-shirts, like any normal teenaged boy.
  • Pastime: Skateboarding or playing Ultimate Frisbee at the beach with friends.
  • Food: Spaghetti! He also has a strange love for green vegetables, but probably only because he dumps tons of butter and salt on them.
  • Place: The beach a few minutes away from his home.
  • Animal: Golden retrievers, purely because his family owns the sweetest, nicest one in existence.
  • Season: Winter. It’s not nearly as brutal, because he lives in Florida. Despite the tourists infesting his town, it’s the best time to be out and about when the weather is perfect.
  • Type of music: He secretly enjoys classic rock from the 80’s, but would rather die than admit that to his friends.
  • Book: Austin loves the Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan.

9. If your MC wasn’t involved in your story, what would they be doing?

Austin would be trying to navigate his last two years of high school, working on getting into a good college, figuring out what he wants to do in life, just doing the normal high-school things normal high-school boys do. Of course, life isn’t always normal, so he’d probably get a lot more than that, but I’m not exactly sure what that would be.

10. Share a fun extra.

As much as I love my characters, I don’t usually make collages or playlists or anything for them. But here’s a collage that I enjoyed making for Austin! I feel like it captures Austin’s “essence” perfectly.


So there you have it! I’m so excited to start Seaglass. I’m in the process of outlining right now, and it’s actually not too painful!

Would you enjoy reading a character interview where you submit questions for one or several of my characters and then my characters answer them?

Thank you for reading! See you next time!

The Narnia Blog Tag || I Haven’t Read the Series in a While

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

It’s been a while since I’ve read the entire Narnia series the whole way through, but I was nominated by four different bloggers to do this tag, so I guess I should! I believe this tag was created by S. J. Barnard–go check out her blog.

Rules:

Rate of Narnia fanatics:

  1. Nostalgic Fanatic—you read the book and/or watched the movies as a child and the word Narnia gives you a warm feeling
  2. Serious Fanatic—you rediscovered the wonder of Narnia after you were older and have read the books and watched the movies
  3. Maniacal Fanatic—you have lived Narnia from childhood, hid in closets on more occasions than is healthy, have read and watched all the movies including the BBC version

I’m probably just a nostalgic fanatic. We read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew during my seventh grade year, and I read all the books when I was maybe 11? It’s been a while. I need to reread.

The Questions:

1. Who’s your favorite Pevensie sibling?

Ooh…hard to choose. Probably Susan, though. She’s the responsible older sister and sticks up for her siblings. And…her bow…what a beauty….

2. What is the most underrated Narnia book?

The Magician’s Nephew! I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked to someone about Narnia and mention The Magician’s Nephew and they just look at me blankly. It’s necessary to the series! I don’t understand why it’s not more widely known.

Rant over. Next question:

3. Who is your favorite Narnian king?

*tries to remember the Narnian kings* It’s been a while, in case you couldn’t tell.

Frank! Yeah, that dude from The Magician’s Nephew who was a cabbie in London and became a king in Narnia because of Aslan? I just thought it was really cool how he was just this lowly commoner who became king of an entire new world.

4. Who is your favorite Narnian queen?

I’m…tempted to write Jadis in here, just because I love her backstory. I feel like there was a lot more to her than the White Witch. And yes, I know she was evil, but I really did like her for some strange reason.

(Plus, she kind of reminds me of Hela from Thor: Ragnarok. Don’t judge. Please?)

5. Which non-human Narnian do you like the best?

Honestly, why is this even a question? Aslan! I love cats. Even the large kind. Besides, he was so masterfully written.

6. Which book deserves a movie?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, purely because it’s such a fundamental part of the series. And yes, I’m aware that there are, like, six million movies of this book out there, but still. I stand by my opinion.

7. What is the one thing you did as a Narnia fan you did not regret?

Write this post!

(Although, after putting Jadis down as my favorite queen…I probably will.)


Tag time! I tag: Sophia @ Tea Stained Adventures, Anna @ Jumbled Thoughts of a Writer, Amié-Jayne @ Amié-Jayne, Allison @ Just a Bookworm, and Kinya @ 3AM Thoughts!

If you can’t or don’t want to do this tag, no worries, I won’t be offended. If you do…great! And if you weren’t tagged but want to do this anyway, go right ahead! The questions are all yours.

What’s your favorite Narnia book? What rate fanatic would you describe yourself as?

Do I Have That Book? Challenge

I saw this challenge on my friend Maya’s blog, and it looked like so much fun. After asking for permission to use the idea, I dove right into our home library to find as many books as I could out of the 20 categories. Let’s see what I came up with…

1. A book with tattered edges: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams’ classic sci-fi book has been in my family for a long time. We bought it from someone secondhand, which is probably why it’s so beat-up. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a sci-fi comedy about an Englishman named Arthur Dent, an Alpha Centaurian named Ford Prefect, the world ending, a stolen spaceship…you name it. It’s an eccentric book and one of my favorites.

2. A book with 3+ people on the cover: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero is the first in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. The cover shows the three main characters and points of view: Leo Valdez, Jason Grace, and Piper McLean. I acquired this book in hardcover format secondhand, so the jacket (with the three characters) was horribly tattered and had to be thrown away eventually. However, The Lost Hero is my top favorite Rick Riordan book, full of action, comedy, and romance.

3. A book based on another fictional story: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted is the story of a girl named Ella (obviously) who had a curse placed on her at birth so that she would always be obedient. It took me four rereads to realize that this book was based on Cinderella. Ella Enchanted is one of my all-time favorite books, poignantly told with emotion and grace.

4. A book with a 10-letter-long title: Call Me Hope by Gretchen Olson

In Call Me Hope, Hope Elliot struggles to break away from her verbally abusive mother. She creates an ingenious point system and a safe haven in her closet, and finds comfort in the book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Call Me Hope is an amazing book for readers over ten (there’s a bit of language in it).

5. A book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter: Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech

Ruby Holler details the lives of two “trouble twins,” Dallas and Florida. They’re adopted from a horrible “orphanage” (notice the quotes) and sent to live with two amazingly kind, sweet people, Tiller and Sairy, who need their help on their respective journeys. Ruby Holler has a lot going on in just 310 pages, but the beauty of it? It all ties together in the end.

6. A mass market paperback: The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis

I’m pretty sure you all know The Magician’s Nephew. I actually have the whole series as mass market paperbacks, but the little-known first one is my favorite.

7. A book by an author using a pen name: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Turns out J. K. Rowling’s real name is Joanne! Who knew, right? Anyway, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in the widely-known, seven-book Harry Potter series. The gist of it: Harry survived a Killing Curse as a baby and is famed in the Wizarding world because of it. I’m a big fan of these books.

8. A book with a character’s name in the title: Ava and Pip by Carol Weston

Ava and Pip is written in a diary format from the point of view of a fifth-grader named Ava. Ava’s sister, Pip, is terribly shy, and Ava’s parents tend to pay a lot of attention to Pip. Ava turns to her diary for comfort, journaling this honest story. I thought it was a really creative book.

9. A book with two maps: Dragonlance: The Annotated Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

This book is the compilation of the three Dragonlance books, and it’s been annotated by the authors (as you can probably tell). This makes it weigh in at a hefty 1,312 pages. Dragonlance was actually based off the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, and from what I’ve heard, it’s similar to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Be aware, though, that there is some…mature content in this book.

10. A book that’s been turned into a TV show: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

I did not realize that Anne of Green Gables was an animated TV show until this was the last one on my list and I was frantically Googling books to see if I could fill this category. (Is that cheating? I don’t think so…) Anyway, L. M. Mongomery’s classic series chronicles the life of a lively young girl named Anne–with an e, of course. I haven’t read it in a while… *adds to extensive to-read list*

11. A book by an author famous for something other than or in addition to writing: The Tuttle Twins and the Little Pink House by Connor Boyack

Connor Boyack is the president of Libertas Institute, a “public policy think tank in Utah.” He’s written the Tuttle Twins series so kids can understand economics in simpler terms. He’s also written three choose-your-own-adventure books for teens. We’re studying economics this year, and his books have been so helpful when I don’t want an hour-long lecture from my dad.

12. A book with a clock on its cover: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

You totally saw that coming, didn’t you? It was the only one I could find. The Secret of the Old Clock is the first in Carolyn Keene’s classic Nancy Drew series about a girl detective. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give you an original synopsis for this one either, because I haven’t read the Nancy Drew series in a while. Guess I’ll have to reread those too.

13. A book of poetry: The Best Loved Poems of the American People compiled by Hazel Fellman

It was hard to find a good picture of this one. This poetry anthology was first published in 1936 and has been passed down through my mom’s side of the family since then, and I haven’t read it all the way through yet, but there are definitely some iconic poems in there. It’s a family heirloom, and I plan to take good care of it in the years to come.

14. A book with an award stamp on the cover: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal in 2010, and for a good reason. It’s been classified as science fiction and mystery, but the beauty of this novel is it could be anything. Romance, realistic fiction, mystery… The story follows Miranda Sinclair, who’s receiving cryptic notes from an unknown sender. It’s a complicated and detailed story, but somehow every small detail matters to the plot in some way.

15. A book whose author has the same initials as you: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Lynne Reid Banks actually shares all my initials: LRB! I thought that was cool, but we’re here to talk about the books, not the authors. The Indian in the Cupboard tells the story of a boy who finds a magical cupboard that has the power to bring plastic figurines to life. This book was outside my usual genre, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

16. A short story collection: Words Aptly Spoken: Short Stories compiled by Classical Conversations

We used this one for school last year. Hey, it counts! It’s full of classic short stories like “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Red-Headed League” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and “The Necklace” by Henri Guy de Maupassant. It’s kind of a hit-or-miss book–some stories I enjoyed, some I…didn’t.

17. A book that is 500-510 pages long: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Ah yes, the long-awaited prequel to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. Ballad was a ridiculously long read, but worth it nonetheless. The story is told from President Snow’s point of view as a young man, displaying a rather masterfully told negative character arc. The only issue was that the story moved a little slowly at some points, but other than that, it was well-told.

18. A book that’s been turned into a movie: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

I remember when I first read this book, picking it up while at my best friend’s house and refusing to put it down. Eventually, she just gave me the copy. Let me just tell you: Stargirl is one of the best books of all time (according to me, of course). Let me tell you something else: They completely ruined the movie. But when you’re so devoted to the book, of course you hate the movie. But Stargirl has one of the most well-rounded, three-dimensional main characters I’ve ever read. I cannot sing enough praise about this book.

19. A graphic novel: El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is the autobiography of a girl who goes deaf at the ripe old age of four. It effortlessly wields metaphors and imagery (obviously, it’s a graphic novel) to show the author’s emotions through comic book-style illustrations. I read this for a literature class, thinking it was an odd choice–who reads “comic books” for class? But I can see now why my teacher chose it. *waves at Mrs. M*

Almost done! Last one:

20. A book by two or more authors: Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Allison McGhee

Maybe a Fox is told from two points of view: a grieving daughter, Jules, and a fox. Jules and Sylvie are sisters, sticking together always. Sylvie loves to run, and Jules has always been left in her dust. But they learn to stick together after their mom dies–until something happens to Sylvie… For some reason, I’m a sucker for books with foxes. I don’t know why, but this book is an amazing example of the bond between sisters and between humans and animals.

That’s it! I managed to scrape up a book from each of the twenty categories. If you’re interested in doing this challenge, you’re more than welcome to! The categories are:

a book with tattered edges | a book with 3+ people on the cover | a book based on another fictional story | a book with a 10-letter-long title | a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter | a mass market paperback | a book by an author using a pen name | a book with a character’s name in the title | a book with 2 maps | a book that’s been turned into a TV show | a book by an author famous for something other than or in addition to writing | a book with a clock on its cover | a book of poetry | a book with an award stamp on its cover | a book whose author has the same initials as you | a short story collection | a book that is 500-510 pages long | a book that’s been turned into a movie | a graphic novel