My 5 Favorite Books With Food

Food in books paired with snacks. Could it be better?

Hey everyone! I’ve been hard at work on the Pie-Jinks series launch, so I’ve been thinking A LOT about pie. If you haven’t read the prequel yet (Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks, which is currently on sale for $0.99!), basically the main character Reese bakes magical pies that are infused with emotions and feelings and memories.

So now that I’m less than 2 weeks away from the launch of the series, I figured it’s a good time to do something a little different: suggest some of my favorite books with food central to the themes and recommend something to snack on while reading!

But before that, a little bit of an update about the Pie-Jinks events:

(Image: graphic for Vanilla Bean Vampire Launch Party. Includes a picture of the cover, the words “Vanilla Bean Vampire Launch Party”, a pie picture, a background of frosty fall leaves, lots of sparkles, and a bunting in autumn colors along the top. Colors are light yellow, orange, and salmon pink.)

Okay. Now that I have THAT out of the way, let’s dive into these suggestions! I love books with food, and especially books with MAGICAL food, so let’s take a look at some great food books I’ve read. 🙂

My Favorite Food Books!

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

So I literally JUST read this one. It’s a sweet, magical middle grade story about a town with a curse that pulled all but a snicker of magic away. The main character returns with her wandering, free-spirit mother, desperate to finally find some roots, and falls right into the way the town operates. And one of the best parts of this book? Magical ice cream! Seriously, there’s magic food in here and sweet magic realism and some really cool plotting and world building. One of my favorite books all summer!

Recommended snacking: Ice cream… your favorite flavor! Mine are teaberry (Leiby’s brand) and chocolate marshmallow (Turkey Hill brand)

The Great Witches Baking Show by Nancy Warren

Ok, here is another one I read this year, and honestly it gave me so many warm feelings. It reminded me a lot of the Pie-Jinks books, but with a more spring/summer feel!

This book is all about a girl looking to figure out where she came from and who her family is, and to do that, she learns how to bake and gets onto a show being filmed at the location of the only clue she has to her family. But then someone starts sabotaging the contestants, there’s some weird ghosties floating around, witches hosting the show, and… MURDER!

Super cute, super cozy, all the food, all the magic. Definitely recommend! And, there’s a whole series of these, and yes, I plan to keep reading one of these days!

Recommended snacking: Cake! There is a lot of cake in here, among other baked goods like tarts. My favorite kind of cake is vanilla with chocolate icing (whipped if possible), but I also love angel food.

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

This one is a contemporary young adult with the enemies to friends trope. Two girls with an intense rivalry and hatred for each other take things a little too far and almost destroy their school on prom night. Their punishment? Work together on a food truck for the summer… or else.

And as these things usually go, the girls learn more about each other and that maybe they aren’t so different after all. And maybe they could actually work together and make this the best food truck ever! Cute, lots of drama, and lots of emotions!

Recommended snacking: This one makes me think of my favorite restaurant apps. So I will recommend boneless wings (I don’t like bone-in, I know, terrible), jalapeño poppers (the cream cheese ones), and blooming onions!

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

First off, can I say how much I LOVE this cover?

Okay. So this is another contemporary, but adult. Women’s fiction. This book stars Sunshine, a celebrity YouTube chef who suddenly falls from grace. There’s lots of drama, cooking, celebrity life, and heartfelt plot and characters in here. It was such a good, entertaining, thought-provoking read, and the cover just makes me keep coming back to it to think about it all over again.

Recommended snacking: Obviously this one has heavy citrus vibes, so I’m going with lemonade and ambrosia!

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I’ve mentioned this one before, and I’ll mention it again! I love this story about a tech lady who rediscovers her passions through a singing sourdough started she inherits out of the blue. It’s silly and light and a little fantasy/sci-fi, and it remains near the top of the list of my favorite books of all time!

Recommended snacking: Again this may be obvious, but… bread and butter! Maybe a little sharp cheese. My favorites are yeast rolls, warm Italian bread, and white bread. And for cheese? Cooper sharp American or wine cheese.

Final Thoughts

I love food in stories, and in particular magical food. While the books I shared here aren’t ALL magic food, they do all have elements that I love in each one. And, of course, thinking about magical food just makes me think about Pie-Jinks all over again!

I know I’ve been talking about these books a lot, but I’m just so excited to share them with everyone. During the pandemic, these books brought me joy. They’re light, fluffy, and magical. They’re exactly what I needed to escape from the darkness in our world. I had a blast writing them, and I want to share the whimsy and the deliciousness with everyone else. So I truly hope you’ll celebrate these books with me and maybe give them a chance. ♥

But even if not, I hope my list of recommendations sparks some interest in you and brings you some joy as summer winds down. Please feel free to share your favorite food stories with me in the comments… especially if there’s magic!

Until next time, happy reading! ♥

It’s Flotsam Release Day!

Ok, I know it’s been a hot minute since my last post, but I promise I had a good excuse! Actually, no. I didn’t. But I do apologize for being quiet for so long. And don’t worry; I have a few good posts lined up for you over the next several weeks. So stay tuned, and be sure to come back or subscribe for updates!

Monsters saved her for one fate. Can Rue escape to find her own?

Today I have such exciting news. Flotsam is out! The paperback is coming, but for now, the ebook is available on most major platforms.

Let me start by sharing three things I love about this story:

  1. It’s a retelling of a lesser-known French fairy tale, The Bee and the Orange Tree. It’s such a fascinating tale with some interesting themes, and once I found it I KNEW I had to retell it.
  2. It has Bigfoot. It has several Bigfeet, actually.
  3. There are fierce adorable honey bees and a character that transforms into a bee.

Still need more? How about an excerpt where our lady lead, Rue, meets our gentleman lead, Henry?

A scuffing and clicking of rocks on rocks rang across the shore. She snapped her head up, but she was only fast enough to see the branches of the low blackberry bushes, not yet in bloom, shiver.

Eyes locked on the waving bushes, Rue crouched to place her pickings back on the beach, as silently as possible, then stood and pulled her bow from over her shoulder. Just as silently, she withdrew an arrow from her quiver, nocked it, and approached slowly. She kept the arrow pointed in front of her, ready to protect her at a moment’s notice. It wouldn’t be the first time something dangerous had washed ashore, and she wasn’t about to take any chances.

She peered through the gaps in the branches, but it was hard to make out exactly what was hidden within. Something moving, something big, red and white and unnatural to Rue’s woods.

A twig snapped under her next step, and whatever was in the bushes froze for a moment. The forest, the shore, all fell still. Rue held her breath, pulling the bowstring taut.

Whatever it was rushed out of its hiding place, pummeling into her. The arrow flew wild, launching into the air with the twang of the string and a whoosh against the air, and then Rue was pinned to the stones of the beach.

By a man. Like the fisherman. Like how many others who had washed up here over the years. For once, she had found him before the family. She might be able to save him.

Her heart somersaulted. Unless he killed her first.

He released a jumbled string of words she couldn’t understand, his face earnest. She held her breath, pulling at her wrists, trying to free herself from his pin.

But he was young and strong, much stronger than she was. His face was pale and unlined from age or sun, his hair shorn close to his head and across the bottom of his face. Despite the bruises and cuts from his wreck and the crazed look in his eye, she still couldn’t shake him.

“Let me go,” Rue said, her voice low. “You have to leave!”

The man stared at her and blinked, then jumped back as if Rue had turned into a snake and bitten him. He said something else she couldn’t understand, his voice confused and strained. She climbed to her feet cautiously, picking up her bow and scattered arrows without taking her eyes from him. She tried nodding her head toward the lake, as if he’d jump in and swim the enormous distance to some other land, but he simply continued staring at her.

Rue tried again. “If you don’t leave, my family is going to find you. You don’t want them to find you.”

He said something else, and she grunted in frustration, kicking a rock toward the waves. She danced in place for a moment. What more could she do? He obviously couldn’t understand her, and she couldn’t understand him.

So how could she convince him to leave? At least the others she’d managed to save over the years had found the talking boxes or rafts and left quickly.

This man had to be stupid.

You can pick Flotsam up today for an adventure full of self discovery, monstrous cryptids, and ! And don’t forget: the first book, All That Glimmers, is on sale for a limited time!

Until next time, happy reading!

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!

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! ❤

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.

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 ❤

Meet The Patch: A Brand New Halloween Story

Looking for a spooky new read? Look no further!

Can you believe Halloween is only a few short days away? It feels like fall just started! But I have a special treat for you (no tricks!) today, something I have been working on since the end of summer.

But just in case you missed it, if you’re looking for something super cozy, you can check out some ways to have a cozy bookish fall, or how about some suggestions for a fun Halloween at home?

(Image: cover for Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks on a background of red leaves with the tagline “When fate comes knocking, feed it pie!” and the words “Available Now.”)

However you plan to celebrate, I have a brand new release to get you in the spirit! You may remember that last year I released a sugary sweet fantasy romance inspired by Hansel & Gretel (Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks), but this year I went in a different direction.

The inspiration for this year’s autumn release was Jack and the Beanstalk… but with a haunted pumpkin patch and ghosts and witches! I wanted to really get the spooky feel of the season this time, rather than the cozy sweetness I had with Seasons of Magic: Pumpkins & Shades book 1.

Yup, that’s right! I channeled all my spooky feels (and a few of my own fears) to create… THE PATCH!

So how about three fun facts about The Patch before I give you the blurb?

  1. I planted some of my own fears in this book. One is based on a story from my sister, who is super into true crime podcasts (I am not.). But basically it was about a murdered woman who turned out to have been killed by… owls. Yup. So, thanks for that, sister dear. I now have a fear of owls.
  2. I centered it around friendship. I really wanted this story to focus on the ways friends take care of each other and how we learn to be better friends. In the story, my main character Jack learns how she can be brave for her best friend, Lucy, who has watched over her for as long as they’ve been friends.
  3. I threw in some unexpected twists. Of course I can’t give them away, but Jack has to save her family’s farm. But she doesn’t do it the way she expects she would. She also encounters what she thinks is a banshee. But there is so, so much more to that story!

So there you have it: three behind-the-scenes looks at The Patch.

And now that you know those little treats, let me tell you a little more about the story.

(An image: the cover for Selina J. Eckert’s The Patch on a background of decorative pumpkins and an orange square that says “Out now!” There is a ghost border on the bottom and a black cat above the text.)

Jack just gambled her family’s future on seeds. Too bad they only bring her a cursed pumpkin patch full of ghosts.

Jack, a shy and sensitive high schooler, is desperate to do whatever she can to save her family’s farm. Unfortunately for her, the pawn shop cons her into trading her family’s heirlooms for three old pumpkin seeds on the promise they will solve all Jack’s problems. But when the seeds sprout overnight into a haunted pumpkin patch, they bring more problems than they solve—like a hundred-year-old witch’s curse.

Hopeful she will uncover the secrets of the patch, and maybe solve the farm’s financial problems, Jack enlists her best friend Lucy’s help to investigate. But then a malevolent ghost kidnaps Lucy, and Jack learns the dark history of her home, a history steeped in betrayal and revenge. With Lucy’s life on the line, can Jack confront the spirit, break the curse, and save her friend?

Or will the witch kill them both and reign for another hundred years?

The Patch is part of a collection of standalone fairy tale novellas, Seasons of Magic, and is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. If you like spooky stories, autumn magic, and pumpkins, you will love Selina J. Eckert’s bone-chilling tale!

~~~

Interested?

To dive into this haunted tale, you can purchase it on Amazon.com or at many of your favorite retailers! (If your favorite retailer isn’t there, please be patient with me. I submitted them all a week ago, but many of the retailers are slow to approve new listings right now.)

And if you have some favorite ghost stories, share them with me in the comments! Just not too scary… I am a scaredy-cat!

~~~

Want to read my books for free? You can join my reader group to get a chance at review copies! Simply join the group and request an ARC through the units page.

Alternatively, you may occasionally get free stories by subscribing to my newsletter. Right now you can get This Cursed Light (the prequel to the This Curse series) and Queen of Mist and Fog. And don’t worry; even if you sign up just for the freebies, you are absolutely free to unsubscribe at any time for any reason!

Hope to see you online!

Ashen Blog Tour: Book Food!

Iceland and a food-worldbuilding post?! Count me in!

Today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing author H.L. Burke and her brand new release, Ashen! Ashen is a fantasy Cinderella retelling inspired by Iceland, and, well… I’m sure you can see how I would be interested in that!

But if you’re new here, I write some fairy tale retellings of my own, and about two and a half years ago, my husband and I took our honeymoon in Iceland!

I fell in love with it then, and I honestly cannot get enough of it (we may or may not be slowly planning our next trip there… once it’s safe to travel again). At the time, I was dying for fiction set in Iceland, and now I finally have something!

(BTW, if you have other suggestions for fiction-preferably fantasy!-set in Iceland, please send them my way in the comments!)

And in other Selina catnip, today’s guest post by the author herself talks all about the role rood played in the worldbuilding! You may recall I even talked about food in worldbuilding a while back.

So without further ado and such, let’s get right on with this awesome glimpse into the world of Ashen!

Guest Post by H.L. Burke

Lizbete, the main character of Ashen, wouldn’t describe herself as artistic or creative. However, whenever I put her in a scene when she had to cook something, she was REALLY into it. Like, really, really, really into it. Food is Lizbete’s calling, and it plays a major part in the story and world of Ashen.

Lizbete’s home is an isolated fishing village in a cold northern country which I based on Iceland. The green interior is home to many shepherds, but the majority of commerce in town is from fishing. They eat berries they gather and vegetables they grow in their gardens and cliff pigeons … which are a bird I made up because traditionally people in Iceland sometimes eat puffins, but … I couldn’t stand to put one of those adorable things on a plate, even for authenticity.

Image of puffins on a rock by skeeze from Pixabay

Lizbete is a foundling with a strange secret curse. Unable to create her own body heat, she has to draw warmth from external sources. Unfortunately, this means whenever she touches another human being, she pulls heat from them, and if their contact is lengthy, her uncontrollable heat-draw can injure or even kill.

Because of this she needs to stay near heat sources, which usually means you can find her hiding in the kitchen of her adopted guardian’s tavern. Auntie Katryn taught Lizbete everything she knows about how to feed a crowd. Lizbete can make delightful soups out of scraps and bones. She roasts savory potatoes. Her sweet squash pie is fantastic, and her fish fry second only to Auntie’s.

In designing the food that I had Lizbete cook in the book I drew from three sources:

  1. What was native to the country and climate I had chosen as a template (Iceland).
  2. What would suit an isolated fishing village in a culture where most people have to work hard in the cold.
  3. Wish fulfilment.

First off, I spent a lot of time looking into Icelandic food … by which I mean I found out that they had licorice flavored spirits that sounded amazing and looked seriously into whether I could get them imported before I realized that this was  YA book and cocktails probably weren’t the research route I should go … and then I read up a bit on Icelandic cuisine. As I kind of expected, there was a decent amount of fish involved as well as lamb.

This also fit with my idea of an isolated village that had to be self-sufficient, fishing for most of their protein while shepherds treasured their flocks. I wanted the food to be hearty for people putting in a hard day’s work, and warm to chase away the cold wind coming off the frozen seas.

And finally, wish fulfilment.

From what I can tell apples are not historically a big part of Icelandic cuisine, but I had a great scene in mind where Lizbete and Brynar (her love interest and my prince stand in for this Cinderella tale) bond over peeling apples … so yeah, those are in there. Also something called “firewine” because it goes with my hot and cold theming.

So yeah, food is a big part of how Lizbete relates to the world around her, and I hope the descriptions of it help draw you into her world a little deeper.

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(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the purchase link on this page. However, I am sharing this book because I have enjoyed her work before, and I am truly excited for this release!)

You can purchase Ashen here or add it to Goodreads here.

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Thank you so much, Heidi, for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at this world! I can’t wait to dive in (it’s already loaded on my ereader!).

Also, be sure to keep an eye on the blog for my upcoming review. It may be another month or so, but I plan to write a full review of the book as soon as I finish it!

And in one more bit of news, this month I released a prequel novella to my This Curse series! I’ve been trying to price match it everywhere free, but that’s taking a while. But you can get it for free just by signing up to my newsletter! (Don’t worry, you’re free to unsubscribe at any time.)

Sign up to get a free copy of This Cursed Light, This Curse #0.5!

Until next time, happy reading, my friends!

Wrought of Silver and Ravens: Full Review

I just finished Wrought of Silver & Ravens! TL;DR: You should read this book!

Hey all! If you recall, last month I had interviewed Author E.J. Kitchens about her new fantasy release inspired by the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale, Wrought of Silver and Ravens. Well, today, I have the full review FINALLY ready for you.

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the link at the bottom of this review. Additionally, I received an advanced copy of the book for review. However, this review contains my honest opinions of the book.)

Wrought of Silver & Ravens by E.J. Kitchens

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Christian High Fantasy

Recommend? YES

Wrought of Silver and Ravens by fantasy author and microbiology E.J. Kitchens is a captivating story of secrets, intrigue, and, of course, MAGIC.

Athdar Owain Leonidas is part of a once-hidden group of magical people, hidden away for their own protection until they learned how to control their magic. But now, their hiding place is vanishing, forcing them to reintegrate with the rest of the world. As the grandson of one of the most prominent elders, he is entrusted with the secret of his people as well as the care of four very special magical lions. But when he encounters the prince of Giliosthay, attacked by bandits and gravely wounded (cursed), he finds himself drawn into the affairs of another kingdom and recruited as apprentice to their most elite force soldiers, the Silver Guard.

Princess Thea of Giliosthay is the oldest of the seven princesses of the kingdom, a woman gifted with the rare magic of Realm Walking and a special magic artifact made for Realm Walkers. However, the princesses have secrets of their own: they’ve been cursed by the prince of the kingdom of Rusceon, Prince Cerav, who forces them to join him in the Realm of Caves every night for a magical dance with dragons. The meaning of the dance is unclear, yet they are unable to tell anyone about the curse, leaving them to fight back alone.

This story follows the journey of both these individuals as they discover secrets about their world and magic and forge new relationships needed to save Giliosthay from conquest by Rusceon. That’s all I can say to avoid the spoilers. 😉

Overall, I really enjoyed this beast of a book! The intrigue was well-crafted, and the relationships were entertaining, heartfelt, and engaging. I found myself rooting for Athdar to accept new friendships and trust the other guards. And Thea… I am so impressed by how strong a character she is, both with her power and as a female fantasy character with true agency. She fights so hard to protect her sisters and free them of the curse while also protecting her kingdom from Cerav.

The kingdom was meant to be inspired by Greece, but I do have to say I often forgot that until the mention of sandals or the bright blue water. I believe once the kingdom was described, but personally I could have used a few more clues to hammer home the inspiration for the setting.

As far as the magic, I really loved the idea of half-magics (like Athdar) and enchanters. And those lion cubs! *swoon* However, this is also my biggest complaint of the story. There was a page at the beginning explaining the differences in the magic peoples, but it was difficult for me to digest. I feel like there could have been more explanation in the book itself to make it easier to understand and remember. Also, the raven-eaters, some bandits off in the mountains who are Athdar’s people’s enemy, didn’t have much role in this book. But! It seems like they’ll have more role in the next book…

Despite my difficulty with the learning curve of the world, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this book. It was so beautifully written and I absolutely connected to the characters and their lives. I loved the descriptions of the magic use, the excitement in the different encounters, the touch of romance.

If you love fantasy with deep worldbuilding and engaging characters, this is definitely the book for you! Personally, I can’t wait for book 2 to come out, and I’m so looking forward to meeting back up with Athdar and Thea as well as learning more about the world outside Giliosthay!

If you’re interested, you can purchase the book here. Thanks for reading!

Tattered Slippers Blog Tour: Mini Interview with Author E.J. Kitchens

Happy August, friends!

Today I get the pleasure of introducing E.J. Kitchens, author of a number of books including a special Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling today, Wrought of Silver and Ravens. In just a little bit, I’ll be sharing my own review of the book right here on the blog, but for today we’ll focus on a mini interview with some fun questions for the author.

But first, about the book:

(Image: the cover for author E.J. Kitchens’ book, Wrought of Silver and Ravens, next to a text description. The cover is blue with gray filigree and three black feathers falling. The text reads: “Releasing August 25th. Wrought of Silver and Ravens. E.J. Kitchens. Ancient Fantasy. Wanderer-turned-guard, Athdar Owain has two secrets to keep and one to solve. Each could cost a life.”)

The rarest magic is the most dangerous.

Athdar Owain is a hunted wanderer, one determined to keep his secrets and the treasure he carries safe at all costs. When he rescues the Kingdom of Giliosthay’s prince from raiders, he’s rewarded by being forced into the king’s elite Silver Guard. While this gives Athdar a temporary home and some protection from those hunting him, it also makes him responsible for the young prince, who still bears curses from the raiders, and seven enchantress princesses with curses as mysterious and dangerous as their brother’s.

Princess Thea of Giliosthay is a Realm Walker. Betrayed by a trusted guard, her rare gift of enchantment is used to curse her brother and trap herself and her six sisters into a nightly dance with dragons in a secret Realm. The Realm’s prince has the ability to take and twist her magic for his own purposes, and Thea fears what those might be. For when one dances with a prince, a kingdom might be at stake.

Athdar alone can save them, but to trust enchanters is to risk exposure. And Athdar isn’t sure where his loyalties lie.

Wrought of Silver and Ravens is a clean adventure-romance retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses set in The Magic Collectors story world.

You can purchase it here or add it to Goodreads here. Also, you can buy this book on other retailers. The author had some issues with the first link, but it should be available here as well.

Chatting with E.J. Kitchens

Welcome Elizabeth! I’m so happy to have you here today to celebrate the release of your newest book! It really sounds fascinating, and ancient fantasy? Awesome!

Let’s just get right into it. The idea of an ancient fantasy is so cool, and my readers know how much I love a good retelling. Can you tell us what exactly, besides the fairy tale itself, inspired the book?

Oh, lots of things! It’s a long book with lots of fun things.

The biggest two influences, however, are places (Ancient Greece and Crete and the deserts of the Middle East) and stories of lady Biblical manuscript hunters (the fictional Where We Belong by Lynn Austin and the true The Sisters of Sinai by Janet Soskice). Wrought of Silver and Ravens is set in my Magic Collectors story world but in the distant past, so I decided to set it in a land similar to ancient Greece, with a gorgeous walled city overlooking the sea.

I later discovered the heroine’s mother is from a desert kingdom, so I managed a trip to an oasis. I once listened to a textual criticism course, and I loved learning about the ancient manuscripts and the monasteries where some of the early copies of the Bible were found—including one monastery in the Sinai desert that, at one time, you could only get into by being pulled up and over the wall in a basket!—and wanted to include a bit of hunting for old manuscripts (magic-related ones, however) in desert monasteries (this will be in the next book though).

Several movies—Five Weeks in a Balloon, King Solomon’s Mines, and The Moon Spinners—helped inspire me and helped me envision some of the lands for this and future books in the series.

That’s really fascinating! It’s really something how so many things can inspire a single piece of work. And I love the desert angle!

Now that we have the inspiration out of the way, what was your favorite part of writing it? Did anything surprise you?

I was surprised by the characters and how the story turned out! I quickly fell in love with the hero and the group of special guards (the Silver Guards) he joins. The ‘bromance’ between the men, especially the father-son relationship that slowly develops between the loner Athdar and the Captain of the Silver Guard, Galen, is a big part of why I love the book.

Originally, I was focused on getting Athdar, a wanderer, to the castle to meet Princess Thea. The story starts when Athdar is found by Galen near the kingdom’s borders after Athdar rescues the prince from raiders. Originally, I had only a few paragraphs between that and Athdar reaching the city. But, fortunately, I decided to delve into that journey a bit, and I’m so glad I did! I got to meet some of the other Silver Guard in that journey in a way I couldn’t have if they were safe at the castle. Those few boring paragraphs I originally had turned into a couple of my favorite chapters, with characters I love showing and having adventure and doing brave, difficult things.

Also, I was surprised that the story ended up being grittier and the characters, as a critique partner described them, “more real” than in my other, more lighthearted books. It’s not dark, but it is grittier, yet with humor as well.

It’s definitely fun when we, as they authors, get to dive into things we hadn’t initially thought to explore. It opens up so many possibilities!

Okay, I have one more question.

If you could bring one thing from our book into the real world, what (or who) would it be and why?

Oooh. Tough one! I would love to meet some of the characters, Galen especially, but putting them in a modern world, and one without magic, that just wouldn’t seem right somehow. Maybe Athdar’s very special breed of lion? The cubs are pretty cute. Thea’s medallion that lets her travel wherever she’s been before would be pretty handy, however.

Ooo, who doesn’t love cute animals? And I have to say… having a medallion like that would certainly cut down on my commute time!

Thank you, Elizabeth, for joining me today, and best of luck on your release!

Readers, if any of this has piqued your interest, you can grab your copy here or add it to Goodreads here! Don’t forget, you can buy this book on other retailers, too. The author had some issues with the first link, but it should be available here as well.

About E.J. Kitchens

E.J. Kitchens loves tales of romance, adventure, and happily-ever-afters and strives to write such tales herself. When she’s not thinking about dashing heroes or how awesome bacteria are—she is a microbiologist after all—she’s taking photos, reading, or talking about classic books and black-and-white movies. She is the author of the historical fantasy series THE MAGIC COLLECTORS and of several fairytale retellings. She is a member of Realm Makers and lives in Alabama.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Newsletter || Amazon

Continue the tour!

Tattered Slippers is a joint release of Twelve Dancing Princess retellings. You can find out more about this release or the other books in the collection here.

You can also participate in the Tattered Slippers Challenge! Just use the Instagram post hashtag below and post your pictures.