A Tale of Ashes Book Review!

Have you seen this debut yet?

First of all, happy mental health awareness month! I will be sharing more content this month related to that, and you can also check out my Instagram for related posts.

But today I have something that is loooong overdue: a review of my friend Ann Dayleview’s debut YA fantasy book, A Tale of Ashes.

Guys, I’ve been privileged to read this a few times at various stages. I’ve fallen in love with characters and worldbuilding. And I’ve gone along on Freddie’s wild ride. It was so worth it. But because I have been so involved, I’m not going to give it a star rating. Instead, I’m just going to talk about it.

So let me tell you a little about this book.

A Tale of Ashes takes place in a modern town that is situated right on the border between the human world and Faerie, and so it sees immigration from Faerie as the magical folk are at war. But the humans aren’t all so welcoming. (Heavy themes here… immigration, racism, prejudice…)

In the middle of this setting sits Freddie, a girl with a love for journalism and a passion for justice (and a controlling ex-boyfriend who also happens to be the Faerie Prince of Summer). So when students start disappearing and the police begin blaming the Fae, she of course has to dig her nose in, where she finds nothing but trouble.

So now that you have the gist of it, let me tell you some things. Let’s start with the characters. Dayleview has built such a cast that grabs the reader and makes them fall in love, starting with the two main characters and spreading out to all the secondary and minor characters. Each of them truly feels like they have their own story.

Freddie is one of those characters who I love but who gives me intense anxiety. Like a true protagonist, she gets herself caught up in all sorts of trouble and does not let anyone tell her what to do. Cue the anxiety.

Aiden, the second point of view in the story, is a lovable, damaged cinnamon roll that I just want to hug and love forever. He does horrible things, but he doesn’t want to. And he also is adorkable, as they say.

And then there are the secondary characters: Jefferson the friendly vampire and his girlfriend (Freddie’s best friend), Ginnith the tiny but terrifying bodyguard who ex-boyfriend assigns to Freddie, and a wide range of magical and non-magical people who either make your heart swell or your skin crawl. Dayleview does that really well.

And then there’s the worldbuilding. The way Faerie overlaps with the human world is so well done and thought-provoking, and the magic system is well-developed and interesting. There’s plenty that the reader may find familiar, but this series (yes, this is the start of a series) does a good job with twisting it just enough to make it brand new.

Finally, let me talk emotions, since a good part of how much I like a book has to do with the emotions it evokes. Freddie will call for the adventurous at heart, but I connected so much to Aiden. He struggles so much to connect with Freddie and wants to do things right, and it is adorable and heartbreaking to watch his journey. There are such ups and downs throughout, from rage at certain characters and their behavior to heartbreak to those d’aww moments we all love.

So overall, do I recommend this book? Absolutely I do. It’s a fun adventure, and it made me feel things. If you love urban fantasy, Fae, and some romance, I’m sure you will enjoy this as well.

If this has intrigued you to want more, you can check it out here.

Until next time, happy reading!

~~~

NEWS! I have finished the paperbacks for all my backlist books! I just submitted the last four today, so as long as the vendor has no issues with the files, they should be available this week. If you want to see which ones are submitted, check it out on my TikTok!

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.

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.

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! ❤

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 ❤

The Alchemyst’s Mirror Blog Tour… And a Recipe!

Looking for a steampunk read? How about one that comes with its own recipe???

Hey folks! I have an extra special treat for you this week. I’m a smidge late on this one, but I am helping out to spread the word for a brand new steampunk release, The Alchemyst’s Mirror by Liz Delton! And even extra special, this post comes with a recipe from the book so you can have some delicious bites to eat as you read!

And there’s also a Facebook launch party coming up on November 10, so head on over for some fun and festivities!

First, let’s hear a little about the book itself.

Petra and Maisie Everturn just want to run their family’s tea shop, but when their explorer brother Jiordan goes missing while looking for an alchemycal artifact, none of them are safe.

The sisters must enlist the help of another explorer in order to find Jiordan or the artifact—before the mysterious alchemyst society finds them first.

However, when one of the sisters stumbles into the clutches of the most dangerous alchemyst in the city, the race to unravel the clues becomes desperate. And when they discover the truth about the artifact, their quest to infiltrate the alchemyst’s secret society becomes a matter of life and death.

I love the idea of a tea shop in this story, and secret societies? Definitely sounds like a ride!

But I did promise you a recipe. And what better than some sandwiches fit for a tea shop themselves? I could picture settling in with this book, a whole plate of these delicate treats, and a nice big mug of Irish Breakfast (my favorite tea, currently).

And that recipe card is so cute! Feel free to print yourself a copy for your own recipe box. 🙂

The author herself also sent over a couple of delectable pictures so you can envision it for yourself. Check them out!

I hope I’ve inspired you to try out a new book, and maybe some tea sandwiches! The blog tour may be over now, but the book is just waiting for its next reader. 🙂

You can get your copy here!

About the Author

Liz Delton writes and lives in New England, with her husband and son. She studied Theater Management at the University of the Arts in Philly, always having enjoyed the backstage life of storytelling.

She reads and writes fantasy, especially the kind with alternate worlds. Liz is the author of the dystopian Arcera Trilogy, and the fantasy Realm of Camellia series, and the new steampunk novel, The Alchemyst’s Mirror. World-building is her favorite part of writing, and she is always dreaming up new fantastic places.

She loves drinking tea and traveling. When she’s not writing you can find her hands full with one of her many craft projects.

Visit her website at lizdelton.com or find her online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Amazon.

And don’t forget to grab your copy of The Alchemyst’s Mirror, available now, and head over to the Facebook party on November 10th!

Book Review: Ashen

I recently finished H.L. Burke’s Ashen. Here’s what I think of it.

So if you’ve been around for at least a month, you may already know I have a slight obsession with Iceland. I discussed it a bit back when I helped with the release tour for H.L. Burke’s Ashen, but let me just give you a quick overview. 😉

Hubs and I went to Iceland for our honeymoon back in April of 2018. And I fell in love with it. The ecosystem is so different from anything I’ve ever been familiar with here in Pennsylvania (hello, volcanoes, glaciers, and lava fields!). The whole country is quiet and peaceful. Sheep outnumber the population of people. The country is filled with fascinating folklore, particularly tied to trolls and elves (who are said to live in the lava fields). There’s a fermented shark delicacy (I did not eat it, but hubs did… he says it was as horrible as they hyped it up to be).

And it is absolutely gorgeous. When they say it’s the land of waterfalls, they’re not kidding! In fact, if you take a look at the picture in today’s blog image (the one with Ashen’s book cover), you may see a waterfall. That’s a picture I took in Barnafoss and Hraunfossar (Hraunfossar is the one/many in the picture), and it was one of my favorite waterfalls. It travels from the Langjökull glacier over 25 years under the lava fields, where it is filtered by the lava rock before emptying into this river (or so our tour guide told us).

But I digress.

In the literature world, I’ve been looking for books to remind me of my trip ever since we returned. I recently read Sky in the Deep, which did a pretty good job, but it was very Vikings and less fantasy (I am ALL ABOUT that fantasy!). I’ve even been planning two separate books/series inspired by Iceland and its lore (you’ll find out eventually) and have been reading the folk tale books I bought there (that’s what I collect whenever I go somewhere out of my normal experiences).

So I was absolutely THRILLED when H.L. Burke announced the release of Ashen! It’s a fantasy set in a world inspired by Iceland! And while she did admit to taking a few liberties, I could not wait to get my hands on it!

Friends, I was not disappointed.

So let’s just dive right on in.

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the purchase links on this page. However, I purchased this book and am sharing it out of my own love, not any personal gain!)

Ashen by H.L. Burke

Ashen is a fun, exciting, heartrending standalone featuring Lizbete, a young woman who has never quite fit in with her hometown of Brumehome. Her peers call her Ash Lizard, as she likes to spend her time in Auntie’s kitchen where she can stay warm because she cannot produce her own heat and steals it from anyone she touches. Auntie seems to be the only person who truly loves her, other than the little, and wonderfully snarky, Elin, the sickly younger sister of her once-best-friend, Brynar – the town’s next mayor.

Yet everything changes with one great quake that rocks tiny Brumehome, and Liz suddenly finds herself in danger from the villagers. She runs away, learning some very, very dangerous things that are putting the entire town at risk – and a lot about who (and what) she is. Don’t worry, this is spoiler-free! But suffice it to say, the stakes build fast!

So now that you have a little background, let’s talk details.

First off, I absolutely LOVED Liz. Her condition of heat-stealing was so unique to me and so interesting that I was drawn right in to sympathizing with her and wanting to know as much as possible about what was going on.

I also bonded a little bit with her experience of her first pair of glasses. I remember well that feeling: putting on your first ever pair of glasses and having the world suddenly snap into focus. You really can’t stop looking at everything! It was delightful to see that in a story. (Side love: I LOVED the character that gave her the glasses, Widow Gri the Scholar. I would have loved to see more of her at the end, but alas, ’twas not to be.)

I also really enjoyed the way the plot came together. It was so easy to get lost in this world of cold and magic. Once I started, it was hard to put the book down. The pacing was fantastic, keeping me engaged throughout, and the revelations all came at the right places. It was awesome seeing Liz come into her own and stand up for herself, as well as seeing justice served by the end (I love a good, satisfying ending!).

And the feels! Very few books can bring me to tears, but this one? Burke seems very good at making her readers cry. Let me put it that way. But I truly felt everything the characters did, and boy was it an emotional roller coaster.

There were very few things that detracted from the experience. There were a few places where I found typos or similar issues, but overall I found them to be minor; it wasn’t enough to take away from enjoying the story.

My biggest complaint was that I had been promised Iceland, but this felt much more like a general Norse-inspired setting than Iceland to me. I kept waiting for trolls, and while there may be a version of trolls in this story, it wasn’t similar enough to the tales I’d heard and read to be clear. And there were steam vents in the story, but that didn’t really track with my personal experience there. There were no lava fields, though Brumehome seems to be next to an active volcano, but I think the steam vents were almost lava tubes. And I can live with that. But honestly, if I hadn’t been as invested in Iceland itself, I would never have noticed. So my biggest complaint will also probably not bother any other readers.

Short version: you need to read this book! Overall rating is 4.5 stars, and if you’re looking for unique magic, engaging story, and consuming worlds, this is the book you need.

~~~

If this piqued your interest, you can grab a copy of H.L. Burke’s Ashen here.

Also, if you are interested in other things Icelandic-feeling, you can get a copy of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young or a classic Icelandic sweater (these were too expensive during our honeymoon, but I am DEFINITELY getting one when we go back!). But definitely make sure to pick up Ashen.

Anyway, that’s all for now! I hope if you read this book you love it as much as I did, but until next time, have a wonderful Halloween and November!

Happy reading! ❤