My Top 5 Mermaid Books to Celebrate Release Day!

It’s release day! So let’s talk about my favorite mermaid stories.

Happy end of February, everyone!

Today I am so very, very excited to share that Cold Snap, my Snow White retelling with mermaids and ice magic, is available today! (If you’re interested in a paperback… it’s coming soon! I’m just waiting for my proof copy to arrive.) You can grab your ebook copy today, or if you want to have that physical copy (this cover is so, so worth it!), join the newsletter for the announcement!

(PS, joining the newsletter will also provide you with the link to the free prequel This Cursed Light and my currently-free short story, Freeze Thaw, the book before Cold Snap in the Seasons of Magic series.)

(Image: Release Day graphic for Cold Snap, by Selina J. Eckert, Seasons of Magic: Flurries & Phantoms #2. Includes the book cover on left, featuring a blue and teal cover with a dancing mermaid in front of an ice cave, on a blue luminescent beach photo with the tagline “Sometimes the frozen heart doesn’t melt…” Image created by Dragonpen Designs.)

You can grab your copy by clicking on the image above or following this link.

Now let’s talk mermaid books!

When I was younger, I actually thought mermaid myths were stupid. I don’t even know where that feeling came from, and these days, I love a good mermaid story! Do you? If not, share your favorite fantasy creature in the comments. 🙂

Since I got into mermaids, I started creating a list of my favorite mermaid stories. I’m a bit picky, so I’m only including the ones I’ve read and loved!

1. The Siren by Kiera Cass (standalone)

I absolutely loved this book! (And if you’ve been here a while, you might have heard me talk about it before) It’s a captivating tale of the relationship of the Ocean with a trio of sirens – the Ocean provides, but demands annual murders to appease it. Such a dynamic, complex story that I can NOT get over!

2. Lost Voices by Sarah Porter (trilogy)

This is probably my favorite mermaid series of all time. It’s three books long and settles on the mythology that mermaids are created when the world abandons a girl – and she gives up on the world, too. It’s so sad, but also draws them into a place where they belong, which is heartwarming. So complex, so good. I will never get over these books either!

3. Born of Water by A.L. Knorr (multiple series)

This is part of an entire world by A.L. Knorr involving elementals, a secret society, and really cool powers. The mermaid mythology here is particularly prevalent, with a deep story between a mother and daughter that goes deep into history. Very cool world, and the mermaid stories in particular are so delicately crafted.

4. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (currently standalone, maybe more later)

This one is not for the faint of heart – mermaid horror. The mermaids here are real monsters, and the book itself is intense and suspenseful! I also enjoyed the characters here, as there was a huge, involved cast, all trapped together on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

5. The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble (standalone)

And finally, if you’re looking for something a little more whimsical and fairy tale-like, this book is for you! It definitely gives me serious Stardust vibes (I love that movie!) and is centered around a powerful found family.

And don’t forget to grab Cold Snap while you’re stocking up on mermaid stories!

Sometimes the frozen heart doesn’t melt…

Mermaid princess Iclyn finally inherited her magic and hopes it will bring a closer relationship with her distant stepmother. But those hopes melt away when the king departs on a diplomatic mission, leaving her alone with Queen Hali—and under the queen’s influence. Hali takes the opportunity to enchant Iclyn with illegal dark sorcery, sending her to her death. But instead of killing her, the would-be assassin delivers her safely away from the city and out into the ocean, alone.

With only a map to a potential safe haven, thought to be nothing more than a myth, Iclyn must find her way without the comfort and protection she had always known and learn how to use her newly born magic. But the queen’s plans are bigger than Iclyn, and if Iclyn can’t stop her, not only her life will be forfeit.

The life of the king—and perhaps all of Iclyn’s people—will fall under the queen’s cold rule.

~~~

Do you have any other mermaid stories you’re particularly fond of? Any unique fantasy creatures you love? Tell me in the comments!

5 Romantic Reads I Fell in Love With

Some feel good reads!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve never been huge on celebrating this holiday, even now that I’m married (we exchange gifts but don’t really do anything too crazy…we’re usually at a convention, though obviously not this year).

Anyway, I know romance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Honestly, it’s not really mine either. That said, I do enjoy a fluffy romance now and then (of the sweet variety, NOT steamy). So today, especially since we haven’t chatted in a few weeks, I figured it was time to share some of my favorites.

So let’s chat!

1. A Chance for Sunny Skies by Eryn Scott

(Image: The cover for A Chance for Sunny Skies, featuring a girl in a red dress holding up an umbrella on a blue background)

I think the reason I liked this book so much was that it wasn’t heavily focused on the romance, like a lot of romances. A lot of it was self-discovery and growing up and finding your dreams. Also, the main character wants to be a weather forecaster on the local news station! Which I thought was kind of cool. I’ve liked everything I read by this author, though these days she seems to be more in the cozy mystery writing than she used to be, which I don’t really care for.

But I do love the books in this series and plan to finish them.

2. I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill

(Image: The cover for I Temporarily Do, featuring a woman in a wedding dress holding crossed fingers behind her back.)

This seems to be a trope I enjoy: fake relationships. A whole mess of circumstances leads the main character to marry a guy so she’s not homeless – a guy who, conveniently, was just dumped by his own fiance days before their wedding. It was a fun, funny story that I thoroughly enjoyed, and it’s one that I’d love to read again!

Speaking of which, perhaps it’s time to thing about that re-read…

3. Settling Up by Eryn Scott

(Image: The cover for Settling Up, featuring a woman with glasses wearing yellow on a yellow background)

This is another by Eryn Scott that I really enjoyed. A statistics professor seeking a relationship! As an academic woman myself, the main character’s profession really pulled me in, and it was definitely an exciting ride to watch her search for true love. Like the other books, this was a fun, light read.

4. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

(Image: Cover for Saint Anything, featuring a photo of a lit carousel against a dark blue background)

This one is young adult, but it was so well-written and emotional! It follows a main character grappling with some pretty heavy family stuff – a brother who accidentally killed someone while driving intoxicated and is now in jail. It follows her making new friends in a new place, struggling with guilt over her brother, and finding new love. Truly a deep, thought-provoking story that I absolutely loved!

5. Spice Bringer by H. L. Burke

(Image: Cover for Spice Bringer, with two hands holding a plant and a fire salamander)

I previously featured this author’s book Ashen, which also has fantastic romance, but today I want to talk about Spice Bringer. This is a fantasy with a main character who has a debilitating, possibly deadly condition and a traveling stranger. They are thrown together and must traverse a dangerous land, so, naturally, some feelings develop. And man, does this book give you feelings! Also, if you need a good cry… yeah, this is the one.

Final Thoughts

Whatever your feelings on Valentine’s day, I hope these books all give you good feelings. Do you have any go-tos for this time of year? Any you can’t stop thinking about? Any that make you really FEEL something?

Share them with me below!

And until next time, let’s keep loving those books! ❤

Super Special (Mermaid) Cover Reveal!

I’m back with a cover reveal!

Hi reader friends! Sorry for my absence the last couple weeks, but I’ve been crazy busy with life and writing and all of that stuff. I promise I’ll be getting back to talking all things books and reading next month!

But today, I have a super special cover reveal for you, one I’m super excited about for a book that’s been in the works for years. A couple years ago, I entered a Snow White retelling competition, and so I wrote a story with an ice mermaid Snow White. My story wasn’t selected, but it was picked as a finalist!

After much editing and releasing six other novellas first, I finally am in the home stretch to give you this story! I don’t know about you, but I love a good mermaid book! (I’ll share some of my favorites next month)

Let’s take a quick look about the book itself.

~~~

Sometimes the frozen heart doesn’t melt…

Mermaid princess Iclyn finally inherited her magic and hopes it will bring a closer relationship with her distant stepmother. But those hopes melt away when the king departs on a diplomatic mission, leaving her alone with Queen Hali—and under the queen’s influence. Hali takes the opportunity to enchant Iclyn with illegal dark sorcery, sending her to her death. But instead of killing her, the would-be assassin delivers her safely away from the city and out into the ocean, alone.

With only a map to a potential safe haven, thought to be nothing more than a myth, Iclyn must find her way without the comfort and protection she had always known and learn how to use her newly born magic. But the queen’s plans are bigger than Iclyn, and if Iclyn can’t stop her, not only her life will be forfeit.
The life of the king—and perhaps all of Iclyn’s people—will fall under the queen’s cold rule.

This coming-of-age retelling of Snow White was a finalist in the Rooglewood Press Five Poison Apples contest and is part of the Seasons of Magic standalone novellas series. If you love mermaids and the ocean, found family, and powerful women, you will love Selina J. Eckert’s enchanting tale.

If that interests you, please add it to Goodreads or follow me on BookBub for alerts! You can also subscribe to the newsletter to find out when the preorder link goes live or join the Facebook group to get these updates early!

Anyway, without further ado, let’s check out the gorgeous cover by Savannah Jezowski over at Dragonpen Designs!

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll get to some more books next time!

And finally, here are those handy links again:

Thanks, reader fam! ❤

A Tale of Ashes: A Brand New Cover Reveal by Ann Dayleview

I have the BEST thing to show you today!

Hello everyone! Today I have something really special to share with you: a cover reveal for my dear friend, Ann Dayleview!

Ann writes fantasy stories with spunky heroines, intense plots, and smoking romance, and her debut is coming up this April with A Tale of Ashes, the first in her Tales of Fairy series. This book is a YA urban fantasy and features an assortment of magical creatures, including a powerful fae ex-boyfriend, a bestie dating a vampire, a werewolf, and a myriad of other creatures to make the world truly fascinating and exciting to read.

Guys, I had the distinct pleasure of helping with some proofing and beta reading of this story, and it is truly a fantastic book!

Let’s build some suspense and learn more about it.

Across the country, human teens are going missing, and all eyes are turning to the fae.

Seventeen-year-old Freddie is a human at a magically diverse boarding school who longs to report on the war-torn realms of Fairy. When humans disappear on campus, it’s the perfect opportunity to jump-start her journalism career. While the public blame the fae, Freddie wants facts. If she’s going to get published, she’ll need to find out who or what is behind these disappearances.

Aiden is a fae soldier with a murderous reputation. Raised in the dark fae court and forced to partake in the brutal Fairy Civil War, he thirsts for revenge against the realm which murdered his family. His new mission gives him the opportunity he’s longed for. But when Freddie snoops into his life, he questions if revenge is worth the price of his freedom.

Lured by her suspicions and distracted by his curiosity, Freddie and Aiden form a tenuous bond. But as their feelings for one another grow, so does the danger. Every clue points to Aiden as the kidnapper, and as his enemies close in, Freddie must make a choice: turn against him or fight for a relationship doomed to fail.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Okay, okay. I know what you want. Here’s the beautiful, amazing cover by Jessica Pierce at Parker Book Design! *drumroll*

She’s hunting the story of a lifetime. But she’s not the only one stalking in the dark.

Isn’t it AMAZING?!

Anyway, you can preorder your copy pretty much wherever books are sold, like here. You can also add it to Goodreads or visit Ann’s website for more information!

About Ann Dayleview

Ann Dayleview writes fantasy novels which aim to transport the reader to worlds unlike any other. She reads any young adult and middle grade fantasy novel she can get her hands on. Her writing is often inspired by the wild assortment of music she listens to as well as her travels into different countries and cultures.

In addition to writing, Ann loves spending time with her two dogs, baking all the sweet things, and bringing awareness about taking care of your mental health. She lives in Pennsylvania with her ever rotating collection of books she lugs from place to place.

A New Writing (and Reading) Year: 2021 Edition

Do you have any goals this year?

Usually I share this post on the first posting day of the new year, but because of last week’s special share, it got pushed to the second post. This is the time I talk about what I intend to accomplish this year, in several aspects of my life. Even with the way 2020 went, I still have plans and goals for 2021.

But let’s quickly talk about goal-setting in general, in case you have a desire to set your own goals.

It is important to make sure whatever goals you set are achievable. Sounds basic, right? Well, what I mean is that it would be risky for me to set a goal to travel more or to gain 1000 new readers. Traveling is still uncertain, and the number of readers I gain is mostly out of my control. If I set those goals, I’d be setting myself up for failure.

But I still want to set goals, despite the remaining uncertainty for 2021. I know I’ve said this time and time again, but setting goals – and expressing them in writing and/or verbally – can help you achieve them.

This year, I’m going to break it down more than usual. I’m going to set myself personal goals, reading goals, and writing goals. And I’m going to do my best to make the goals achievable and logical.

And away we go!

Personal Goals

This year, I’m really not sure where my personal life is headed. But I do know I want a few things:

  • Eat healthier. I’ve been trying to get back on board with this all pandemic. I can’t kid myself with saying I’m going to work out (that won’t last), but I can reduce my snacking and make healthier choices.
  • Take more walks. Maybe this is just getting up from my desk at work every hour or so. Maybe this is actually going on walks. Who knows? We’ll see.
  • Commit to drawing or some form of visual arts most days. This may sound odd to you, but I did Inktober this year and discovered 1) how much I missed drawing, and 2) it is actually huge self care for me. No one requires anything from me when I create art. It’s just for me. And just 20 minutes of drawing is enough to reset me, even if I don’t want to do it when I start. I always end up with a feeling of accomplishment and peace and renewed energy for life.

Reading Goals

I haven’t gotten to set my Goodreads challenge yet as of this writing (why do they make you wait until January??? I wrote this on New Year’s Eve!), but I know I want to increase my goal. The last two years, I read 92 books each (again, as of this writing… I have plans to read some more today, so there’s a chance I could check off one more). My goal last year was 80 books.

This year, I want to set that goal post a little tighter. 90 books.

But beyond that, I want to expand my reading again. I want to be a bit more intentional. I want to read at least one of the following books:

  • a classic – there are a few of these on my list I’ve never quite gotten around to reading
  • a nonfiction book in a subject that interests me – I have so many interests. I want to expand on some of them.
  • a diverse title – we need to read about the experiences of people who aren’t like us. It helps us learn and grow as people and creators.
  • an inspirational writing book (or a book for artists) – I have one I meant to read this year that I never quite go to.
  • a craft of writing book – again, I have one of these waiting for me.
  • re-read a favorite book or series – I tend to focus on new books and forget the ones I loved… even when I always want to re-read them because of how much I loved them. I’m thinking of the Ashfall books this year.

Writing Goals

This year, I have a lot on my plate as far as writing, and a few of my goals are intertwined with my personal life.

  • First, I want to readjust my writing schedule. I usually aimed for 1000 words written per day, but I’ve lost my habit, what with the new job. So this year, I want to get back on board with my writing schedule and keep drafting even when I have editing going on. I’m going to set this as 1000 new words MOST days… more often than not. I know I can’t promise myself every day.
  • Release 4 Seasons of Magic books
  • Begin releasing the Pie-Jinks series
  • Draft my next trad title to query
  • Work toward completing the This Curse series
  • Complete an audiobooks DIY course so I can create audiobooks
  • Complete an ads course I purchased in 2020
  • Put what I learn into practice

Final Thoughts

I have high hopes for what I can accomplish in 2021, after a difficult 2020. I can’t promise I’ll meet all these goals, but I will try. And that’s the important thing about resolutions or goals or whatever you want to call them.

If you don’t meet your goal (on your timeline), it’s important to have some compassion with yourself. You can only do your best. And it’s ok if you don’t do everything you planned. Life happens. Plans change. Priorities shift. And it’s ok to shift with them.

So now, it’s your turn. Are you setting any goals this year? Looking forward to anything new?

Tell me about it in the comments!

Princess of Beasts Blog Tour!

First book feature of the new year!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first post of 2020! Next week I’ll get into my traditional goal-setting post, so you know what you can expect from me this year, but today I have a special treat to start the year off right: a brand new fantasy release from author Joanna White!

This is a Christian fantasy with a story that sounds absolutely amazing: a girl who can talk to animals, forbidden love, and an entire world to save!

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the purchase links on this page.)

Let’s take a closer look:

In the entire kingdom of Ahri, Princess Sahri is the only person who can talk to animals and heal them. She’s beloved by the people, but she’s living a lie. Deep inside, she wants a man who she’s not just forbidden to be with, but he’s also a criminal, part of the Ahri Reformation—using the Rune of Obedience to force criminals who fight well to put their talents to better use. What’s worse, is the man—her bodyguard, Jekre—hates her and the entire royal family for what they’ve done.

But those are the least of Sahri’s worries.

The Anati are creatures who bring life and springtime to Ahri every time they return from their long migration across the Sea. But when someone murders them, the kingdom faces a famine that will destroy them all.

Not all hope is lost—yet.

Two of the Anati had eggs. If Sahri can use her powers to keep the eggs long enough to help them get to the nesting grounds, the Anati will live. As the young ones grow, they can heal the land and save the kingdom and Sahri’s people.

The only problem is that her parents ordered her bodyguard to keep her inside the palace. The Rune of Obedience forces Jekre to comply—which means he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Sahri inside.

Who killed the Anati? The threat to the kingdom is a mystery, unknown by everyone except Jekre. And he’s been sworn to silence.

Can Sahri escape, and if she does, will she be able to get the eggs to the nesting ground in time?

Or will a famine bring Ahri to its knees?

Wow! That certainly sounds intense!

If this has captured your interest, you can grab your copy now over on Amazon!

And be sure to come back next week to discuss what’s coming in 2021!

About the author

Joanna White is a Christian Author and fangirl. Hunter and Shifter are the first two books in her debut series, called the Valiant Series, published by Christian publisher Ambassador International and there are more to come. In December 2019, one of her short stories was featured in Once Upon A Yuletide, a Christmas fairy tale anthology by Divination Publishing. Dark Magi, Book One of the Republic Chronicles came out in November 2019. Glimpses of Time and Magic, a historical fantasy anthology, also featured one of her stories. The Crystal Heist was her most recent release, in August 2020.

She graduated from Full Sail University with a BFA in Creative Writing For Entertainment. Ever since she was ten years old, she’s been writing stories and has a deep passion for writing and creating stories, worlds, characters, and plots that readers can immerse themselves in. In 2020, she reached her personal goal of writing a million words in a year. Most of all, Joanna loves God, her family, staying at home, and being a total nerd.

To stay updated and find out more about her novels, where her inspiration comes from, games, giveaways, and more, visit her website at: authorjoannawhite.com.

2020 Annual Wrap-up: Pandemic Edition

What did I manage to accomplish this year? Also… HOW?

It’s time for the last post of the year! Wow, can you believe it? Also… GOOD RIDDANCE.

ANYWAY. Now is the time I like to look back on my goals from the beginning of the year as well as what I managed to accomplish over the last twelve months. And even though I have shifted into being more of a books blog, this post encompasses all my goals – writing, personal, AND reading.

So buckle in. It’s been a wild year.

Recap: What did I even envision last January???

Yeah. I know. I set myself goals and SURPRISE I hit some of them! But also… a lot changes when you fall into something as crazy and unpredictable as 2020. So what had I planned on accomplishing this year?

Finish This Cursed Shadow

And guess what? CHECK! Yup, I managed to come in right at the finish line for this, releasing on December 20. You can still get your copies, ebook or paperback! It’s also available on wide retailers (those who aren’t Amazon).

Publish 4 Seasons of Magic Books

Also CHECK! This year, I published Freeze Thaw (Amazon and wide), All That Glimmers (Amazon and wide), Carnival of Curses (Amazon and wide), and The Patch (Amazon and wide). If you haven’t gotten your copies yet, you can grab your ebooks any time!

Begin a Fox Shifter Urban Fantasy

This one is still on my list, but I have not been working on it. Instead, I’ve been focused on a lot of other things. I also changed gears this year and decided to release a full 6-book Pie-Jinks urban fantasy series starting next year, so the fox shifter will be delayed a little longer.

Land an Agent

Well… like I mentioned in the goal-setting post this year, this is not so much in my control. I still have hopes for Sea of Broken Glass, and I had a request from an editor for the full manuscript just this month, but at this point I may be looking at shelving the project and trying a different story to complete this goal… maybe next year.

Improve my Formatting Skills

Another CHECK! I learned how to add pretty graphics to interior layouts AND how to do paperbacks (which was just this month). Which means now I can make MORE paperbacks and pretty interiors!!!

Learn to Make Book Covers

After much deliberation and discussion with my current cover designer… I decided I just don’t have the time or passion for this right now. It’s still a possibility in the future, but especially considering some of the things that happened this year, it’s just not in my cards.

Personal Achievements: 2020 Edition

So yes. Personal stuff. Well, obviously there wasn’t much I got to do this year. Before the pandemic started, hubs and I did do our annual pilgrimage to Katsucon in February, which was a blast! We also took a couple of our good friends. But after that, plans were mostly canned.

However, there are a couple personal achievements I can still highlight:

  • Had my second anniversary ❤
  • Got a new, much better job and am now a CMC Manager (that’s pharmaceutical industry speak for helping to manufacture and get new medicines approved). And I’m working in visual medical needs, which I think is cool because it’s gene therapy and I have vision problems myself.

Writing Accomplishments: 2020 Edition

This one is actually much better than the personal accomplishments, as the pandemic affected them a little less. Here we go!

  • In addition to the 5 books mentioned above, I also released a prequel for This Curse titled This Cursed Light (Amazon and wide).
  • I got said prequel price-matched everywhere to FREE. Believe me, that took a little work. It was the first time I created a free story. It is also my first real reader magnet.
  • I learned how to do Amazon and Facebook ads.
  • I started focusing on finding my people (the right people who want to read stories like mine).
  • As mentioned above, I learned how to do SO MUCH FORMATTING.
  • I released SIX books (last year I released only 3).
  • I added my first newsletter bonus, a coloring page of Janan’s bottle that I drew myself. You can still get this if you subscribe to the newsletter.
  • I read 90 books this year (I was aiming for 80). I may yet finish 1 or 2 more I’ve been working on. You can see everything I loved most in last week’s post.

Final Thoughts on 2020

For a pretty intense year, both personally and on a global scale, I’d say it’s still managed to come out okay. I hope you can say the same. Sure, I’ve had some not so great things happen in my personal life, including family going through Covid and other family dealing with intense stuff that rippled to the rest of us.

But despite these trials, I’m still here. I’m still talking to you guys. I’m still committed to giving you the best stories I possibly can. So thank you for sticking it out.

My heart has been with all of you these long months, and I hope you are doing well. Let’s welcome in a fresh new year together and hope it stomps 2020 back into the mud of distant memory.

And in these last few days of 2020, I’d love to hear how you’re doing. How are you? Have you done anything you’re particularly proud of? Do you have any special hopes for next year? Let’s chat in the comments.

Talk to you in 2021. 🙂

❤ Selina

The Best Books I Read This Year (2020 Edition)

It’s been a good reading year!

It’s that time of year again! Time to look back on everything I read this year and pick out my favorites. I’m not going to limit myself on numbers in this post, but I will make sure to divide it into categories to make things easier on you. 🙂

To recap, this year I read 90 books (and I anticipate finished at least 2 or 3 more by December 31). Of those, 8 were my own (I count them for the year I write, since I read them so many times, and I re-read Pie-Jinks to prepare for an upcoming full series next year). Finally, I beta read one of those books.

I also read in a variety of formats and genres including (but not limited to) audio, ebooks, and physical books. For genres, I read a lot of fantasy and young adult, but I also read some nonfiction, adult fantasy, manga, and general fiction.

If you want to see the breakdown of everything I read, you can find it over on my Goodreads page.

And now, let me highlight my favorites!

Just so you know, as an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases made through the purchase links on this page. However, the things I have chosen to share I enjoyed myself and either purchased or received through my library or as an ARC!

Fantasy (Adult)

Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone

This was one of the first books I read this year as part of an online book club I’m in, the Fellowship of Fantasy (you can find them on Facebook by that name). This book is an amazing retelling of the minotaur and the labyrinth, and it had the BEST ending (in my personal opinion). It was unique, exciting, and deeply engaging. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves unique fantasy and Greek mythology!

Throne of Sand by Elm Vince & Helena Rookwood

I’m not sure if this one was meant to be an Aladdin retelling, but it definitely gave me that feeling! It’s full of a cast of unforgettable characters and so much drama and emotion! Also, Zadie gives me so much anxiety. So yeah. I will be finishing this series for sure!

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison

I love Jemison’s writing, and this was certainly no exception. Fifth Season is a fantastic high fantasy with a unique magic system and a world ravaged by nature. It’s intense and exciting and this is another series I will be continuing!

Ashen by H.L. Burke

I previously reviewed this one, but in case you missed it, this is a fantastic fantasy inspired by Iceland. It was so much fun with good characters and unique magic! I also loved how unique it was as a retelling of Cinderella. Definitely worth getting (I even got myself an autographed copy because I loved it so much!).

Wrought of Silver & Ravens by E.J. Kitchens

This is another one I reviewed this year, and it is such a good, solid high fantasy! It it set in a place reminiscent of Greece (I think), and it has an intricate magic and history system! It was another one that I highly recommend and enjoyed SO MUCH.

Shadow Hunter by B.R. Kingslover

This is one of the urban fantasies I read this year, but I share this one because it’s the first in a new (to me) series and is very good! The protagonist is a cinnamon roll assassin, the magic is cool, and it has all the elements of found family that I adore!

Young Adult

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

I read this one just last month after a long library hold. It is so worth it! It is a unique fantasy with a Mexican-inspired desert setting that takes a critical look at traditions and beliefs. It’s haunting and captivating all at once. It is also an LGBT+ read, if you are looking to expand your diversity in reading!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

This is a contemporary starring a girl who loves the… well, the stars. She gets conned into a glamping trip with her ex-best friend, and then they are abandoned by their companions in the wilderness. There’s also some SERIOUS family drama and stuff for the main character to deal with and a discussion of step parents (in a good way). Also good for your diversity, the ex-best friend has lesbian parents. Warning for those of you looking for clean reading: this book contains sex.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

This is such a ride of a book. Inspired by K-dramas, this is a tale of a gumiho, or fox spirit, who must eat men’s souls to survive. But when she loses her fox bead, which could let someone else control her, she must rely on her new friend and her own wit to recover it without giving away what she is to the world. Book 2, Vicious Spirits, is also out now!

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

I fell in love with this one as soon as I started reading! It reads like a historical fantasy, but I’m not quite sure what inspired it. It follows two sisters, one chosen, and excited, to be buried with the king (who is near death) and the other determined to save the king’s life – and therefore also her sister. It’s such an interesting dynamic and an intense mystery within the palace walls. Bonus: book 2 just came out this month! I am reading it now. 🙂

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Similar to Ashen, this is a Norse-inspired book. It follows a Viking shieldmaiden who goes into battle to come face-to-face with her brother – who was supposedly killed years ago. She sneaks away to find him and lands herself in a whole lot of trouble. It is so well-written and vivid. Warning: this book is very violent and gory.

Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh

This is the conclusion to an Ice Age fantasy duology I started a couple years ago. It is truly a unique read. I can’t quite explain the feelings it gives me, but it is like nothing I’ve ever read before. This particular book (book 2) focuses on what people will do for their family and deciding how to navigate family and romantic relationships – particularly when both you and your betrothed are suddenly meant to inherit your own clans. So, so good! I am so happy with both of these books, and these are some truly beautiful covers. (Book 1: Ivory and Bone)

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

This book still haunts me. Like, seriously. I’d call it a psychological thriller. Basically, it involves the main character realizing her best friend just… disappeared. And no one seems to notice or care. It follows her searching for the truth and the unexpected answer to all her questions. Just be prepared. Like I said. Still haunted over here.

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Oh my goodness, I read this in a single sitting. If you love survival stories, THIS IS IT. It follows a girl with dreams of college track who goes to a party in the woods. When she comes across her cheating boyfriend (not a spoiler… this literally happens at the opening), her anger drives her to run away. But then she can’t find her way back and must both survive and find her way out of the wilderness. It is intense and powerful!

Between Jobs by W.R. Gingell

This is another found family sort of story, and an urban fantasy. It combines so many Selina-catnip items! But seriously, it’s so good. It’s set in Australia (or New Zealand… sorry, I can’t quite remember) and involves some fae and vampires, as well as an orphan girl hiding in walls until she can buy her murdered parents’ house. Recently, I won the rest of the series in a contest, so you can bet I will be continuing this one!

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is a contemporary fantasy, but more importantly, it is a powerful story of grief, suicide, and those left behind. It is beautifully written, set outside of the US for most of the story, and is one of those works that just stays with you.

Manga and Graphic Novels or Collections

Seven Little Sons of the Dragon by Ryoko Kui

My husband bought me this collection of 7 stories for Christmas because it’s by the same person who made one of my favorite manga (Delicious in Dungeon). Overall, I loved all the stories! They are full of humor, unexpected twists, and fascinating thought experiments. I am so happy to own this, and I’m sure I will read it again!

Fangirl Vol. 1 by Rainbow Rowell & Sam Maggs

Fangirl is undoubtedly one of my favorite books of all time, and they are turning it into a manga! The first volume came out this year, and I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait for the next one!

Laid Back Camp by Afro

I have been searching for camp/camping stories for about a year and a half, and my husband randomly stumbled across this. It is slice of life, it’s calm, and it’s all about camping and friendship! I ADORE this series, and I’m up to 5 volumes already! (Still need to read the last 3 though, as I just got them)

Made in Abyss by Akihito Tsukushi

This is another one my husband bought for me (he likes to get me different ones to try out). It’s a really cool fantasy world where people dungeon dive in this pit of monsters and treasures to make a living. But, the deeper you go, the harder it is to come back. And trying to come back from the very bottom kills people. It’s really a cool concept!

General Fiction

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This was another family drama/secrets story, but also a really unique romance between two competing writers. I deeply enjoyed this, as a writer and a person, but this is another one that’s got some sex, so beware if that bothers you.

Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte

This is also a romance, but it’s EVERYTHING fall. And… coincidentally stars another author? Weird. But it’s all about a woman who travels back to her hometown to keep her grandfather out of a home. The twist? Her bestselling series trashes the residents of the town, and she abandoned her high school sweetheart there after he broke her heart.

Nonfiction

Romance Your Brand by Zoe York

This is a good book for indies looking to build a marketable, profitable brand. It’s a step by step guide to building your next series in a way that readers (and you) will love. I highly recommend this to every indie author!

Dear Author by Laura A. Grace

Finally, this is a cute, sweet, heartfelt little collection of hypothetical letters to you, this reader’s favorite author. It’s full of encouragement, joy, and heart, and if you need a pick-me-up for your writing, give this a read! (also, the ebook is so cheap, there’s no reason not to get yourself a copy!)

Final Thoughts

I read so many good books this year! And there are so many others I can’t wait to read on my list!

Personally, I love doing these posts at the end of the year to really reflect on the joy I got this year from what I read and remember my favorites. Do you do anything like this?

I also would love to hear about your favorite reads of 2020. Did you find anything good? Any new books or series you love? Share them with me down below, and let’s talk books!

And until next time, happy reading! ❤

Gifts for Your Bookish Friends (or Yourself)

Hello, bookish friends! Sorry for such a long break last month, but I guess I needed a little vacation from posting! But not to worry, I am back with something fun for the holiday season. 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I have been absolutely DEVOURING all the gift lists lately, and I figured it would be a good time to share some of my own wish list (or already owned) bookish favorites! Because if there’s one thing all those lists are missing, its the bibliophile factor.

Just so you know, as an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases made through the purchase links on this page. However, the things I have chosen to share either I have tried and enjoyed myself or it’s something I would buy for myself! If any of the links below are not affiliate links, I will let you know!

For Reading

Book Page Holder

Now, this is a little device I’ve seen all over the last few years. I have to admit I’ve never used one myself, but it looks like the cutest little gift for any book lover. This version is a gorgeous handmade wood piece, and it comes in various shapes and sizes based on your reader friend’s (or your) preferences.

Personal Library Kit

I’ve seen various versions of this floating around, but this version is a super cute set with cards, a stamp, and bookplates. There have definitely been times I wished I had one for my personal lending, as I tend to forget when and what I lend to people. Also, let’s be real… what book lover doesn’t want to have their own library lending system for their personal libraries???

The Book Lover’s Journal

This is the book journal I use when I’m reviewing, and I absolutely love it! It has space to write the general info about the book, a scale for rating elements like writing style, ease of reading, and many others, stars to fill in for your personal rating, space for notes, and a reminder for yourself if you want to read more by the author. Not to mention pages at the beginning and end to create TBRs based on the books you rate! It’s a really nice way to track reading, particularly if you plan to leave a detailed review.

Read Harder Reading Log

This is an alternative to the book lover’s journal, created by Book Riot. It has many of the same elements, but it helps the reader focus their next reads with challenges for topics. One day, I plan on getting this one as well, just for fun and to broaden my reading horizons! (PS, Book Riot is a great place to get bookish news, particularly if you’re into YA like I am!)

For Traveling

A Bookish Tote Bag

I have my own version from the Uppercase Book Box subscription I used to have (which I still love, though I had to cancel because I fell behind in the reading!). But a bookish tote bag is a lot of fun for a trip to the bookstore or a relative’s for the day. This particular version is Kate Spade and has some adorable folksy art of books, which I personally love!

Cosmetic Bag (also good for pencils, chargers, bookmarks…)

I love organizing my items with all sorts of cosmetic bags, and your book-loving friend may enjoy one with a book print! It’s definitely helpful for keeping small items separated for easy access while traveling, or even for simply storing things at home.

For Wearing

Bookish Circle Scarf

I’ve grown quite fond of my own circle scarves, and this one is printed with books of every color neatly arranged on a shelf. This is scarf season, after all!

Book Nerd Earrings

I don’t know about you, but I love a good pair of earrings! I have a few different bookish earrings myself, but how about a cute pair of book nerd earrings?

For Relaxing

Novel-teas

This is a set of twenty-five tea bags with literary quotes perfect for pairing with your favorite read! If tea is your… well, cup of tea, then this is the cutest gift for relaxing!

Book Page Art

I have my own version in my library/office, one of a singing bird that a friend gifted me ages ago (the same friend who owns the Compendium Boutique, which is full of lovely things you can purchase online). I love mine, and I can’t imagine any bibliophile who wouldn’t love their own book page art!

Bookish Candles

My sister-in-law and my husband have both gotten me book-scented candles. There are plenty out there, and lots I’d still love to try, but this one is a “leather” scent like the one from my husband. But feel free to look around and see what other scents may appeal to your bibliophile!

For Writing

Galen Leather Writer’s Medic Bag (not an affiliate link, I just love this!)

This is one of those items that I REALLY wish I had. It’s a gorgeous bag, finely crafted, and made to carry the notebooks and writing implements any writer would need on the go! And it’s darn gorgeous. Like, seriously. I first saw this over on K.M. Weiland’s blog, and I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about it! It is a bit higher priced, though, which is why I don’t own it.

Writer’s Gift Set (also not an affiliate link, but super cool!)

This one is something your writer friend will love, for sure! Sold on Etsy, it contains fun items like a literary-inspired candle, writerly pencils, a wood bookmark, and a bunch of other fun goodies depending on the size of box you select. I know I would love to get this as a present, and your writer friend will, too!

Writer’s Emergency Pack Card Deck

So this is a deck of cards with prompts and games to help any writer out of a corner or past a block! My sister got them for me a couple years back, and they’re so fun! They live on my desk, and sometimes I carry them when I go on trips. Definitely a fun thing to play with!

The Writer’s Toolbox

Here’s another fun one. I don’t have this myself, but it looks like a fun way to deal with writer’s block or help plan out a new story. It’s got everything from prompt cards to spinners and even a timer to get some focused writing done!

Final Thoughts

Phew! That was fun. There are so many things on this list that either I have or made their way onto my own wish list! I hope this has given you some ideas for the book lovers in your life (or even for your own wish lists!).

If you have any other suggestions, drop them in the comments! I love building up my bookish life outside of the pages. 🙂

Until next time, happy shopping!

This Cursed Shadow COVER REVEAL!

IT’S FINALLY COMING!

I know, I know. I’m slow. It’s been a year and a half since This Cursed Flame came out. But I really wanted to be sure I had something special for you! And believe me, it was a lot of work. I rewrote this beast from the ground up and completely changed a lot of what the story had been when I originally wrote it… 7 years ago.

Yeah. The first draft was 7 years old. Crazy!

I think you’re really going to like the results of this rewrite, though. Let me tell you a little more about this story.

First off, while your favorite characters from This Cursed Flame are here, they take a back seat to the new story and new characters (but don’t worry… they are back in book 3!). In This Cursed Shadow, we meet Lacey, a Jenari (part human, part djinn) with aspirations of being a magical archaeologist and finding her lost father, and Senka, a Soul Shadow Guardian, or a creature made of light and shadows tasked with protecting the citizens of the Shadow Realm.

Here’s the official blurb:

Sometimes the darkest shadows lie within.

Senka, a Shadow made of light and dark, is finally a Guardian of the Shadow Realm, years after her parents were killed by the same deadly creatures now trapped there by the djinn. But when the creatures ambush her on one of her first days on the job, she finds herself with a fatal curse, and decaying barriers eject her from her home—threatening to release hordes of the shadow-creatures right along with her. Her only choice is to find the one person who might be able to reverse the curse and get her home in time to warn the other Shadows of the impending disaster.

Lacey, granddaughter of the great Ghadir, has been living among the humans with her brother since the Candrani revolted and plunged the Djinn Realm into chaos. When her mother, still in the Realm, suddenly stops answering Lacey’s calls, Lacey is desperate to bring her to safety. But when Lacey returns to the Realm, she finds a world far different from the one she had left years before.

Escaped shadow-creatures attack Lacey, and Senka comes to the rescue, thwarting everything Lacey had ever been taught to fear about Shadows. Then, news of a once-lost Shadow artifact reaches them—an artifact capable of leading them straight to the man who can save Senka and maybe even to Lacey’s missing father. But a power-hungry djinn official, Auretta, is determined to hide the most powerful artifacts to steal control of the Realm for herself. With time running out, can they escape Auretta in time to stop the wards from breaking?

Or will Auretta succeed in destroying everything?

So are you ready for the cover now? Let’s see it with the previous covers!

Isn’t it GORGEOUS??? Savannah over at Dragonpen Designs made another wonderful addition to this series!

You know what else is pretty great? The book will be here on December 20, and This Cursed Light (the prequel starring everyone’s favorite shapeshifting wild cat) is now FREE on all platforms!

I’m also setting This Cursed Flame at a special pre-release sale price of $1.99, so be sure to check back to see when that goes live (I’m currently waiting for the price change to be approved). It will be on sale all the way through Christmas! This is a great time for those of you who haven’t read it yet to pick it up and give it a read before TCS comes out!

Here are all the links you need (pending approval for some of them, so check back later if they don’t all work yet):

  1. Get This Cursed Light on Amazon or other retailers for FREE! (as of the time of this post)
  2. Pick up This Cursed Flame on Amazon or other retailers on sale! (please check for the sale price of $1.99 before purchasing, otherwise full price is $3.99)
  3. Pre-order This Cursed Shadow on Amazon or other retailers! (There will be a paperback, but you’ll have to check back closer to the release date as I work on formatting and checking a proof copy!)

Thanks for reading this far, and we’ll chat closer to the release date about this story again. Until then, stock up on these deals, catch up, and enjoy!

Happy reading ❤