Book Review: Brayden’s Darkness by S. L. Abbott

I can sum up my experience reading Brayden’s Darkness by S. L. Abbott in short: When is book two being released?! Fans of YA Fantasy will simply fall in love with Evren and Brayden, and find that the book is difficult to set down.

Brayden’s Darkness (ISBN: 978-1-7332353-0-3) follows Evren, a sweet and shy Fae, who catches the eye of two handsome young Fae at a bonfire. However, one’s intentions are far from pure and the other has a dark power lurking within him that he struggles to control. Evren must discover who she can trust with her heart, and her life, before it is too late.

Abbott’s style of writing helps you get lost in Evren’s world, allowing you to forget you are even reading. She does a fantastic job of establishing the fantasy world within the simple town of Rowen. Through her vivid descriptions, you feel that you are with Evren in every scene.

One of the things I liked best about this fantasy was the romance element. I was on the edge of me seat waiting for Evren to make the “right” choice. And when Evren went to the Masquerade Ball? Holy moly was I hooked to every word on the page! You will have to read yourself to know what I’m talking about — I don’t want to spoil it by saying too much!

Abbott also has a short story “Tantalizing and Tormenting” which is a different perspective of my personal favorite scene in the book (the Masquerade Ball). It is also a great read, and currently available on Kindle Unlimited.

I sincerely enjoyed this book, and I have no qualms with it other than that there isn’t more (yet). If you enjoy fantastical elements and love stories, this book is for you.

Link to purchase your own copy of Brayden’s Darkness. 

braydendarkness

Updates Coming!

Hey friends!

I apologize where I have been absent on my blog the last few months, but I have been working on some exciting stuff for you all! I have been working on my TBR list, so I will be having more book reviews coming soon. In addition, my poetry collection Metamorphosis is nearing publication — I will be sharing a book trailer, sneak peeks, and the cover reveal in the coming weeks!

Feel free to follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/theunicornwriter93 where I post almost daily.

Thank you for your support of my blog and my writing, and I hope you will enjoy the upcoming content!

Love and unicorn magic to you all! ❤

Author Interview: M. H. Elrich

M. H. Elrich is a middle school English Language Arts teacher and an award winning author. She recently one first-place and best-in-show for her short story “Boundaries.” A self-proclaimed nerd, she loves fantasy, anime, and manga. She enjoys curling up with a cup of hot cocoa and a cat. But above all else, Elrich is an inspiration. She stated, ” I’m just a woman who loved books enough to write her own. I want my book to encourage you and entertain you, just like reading books entertains and encourages me on a daily basis.” Read our full interview below to learn more about Elrich and her writing.

Elrich. M.H. - M.H. Elrich

Q) Can you tell me about your book Etania’s Worth?
A) Etania’s Worth is a YA Christian Fantasy book perfect for fans of Gillian Bronte Adams, C.S. Lewis, Morgan L. Busse, Tricia Mingerink, and Jaye L. Knight. If I could summarize the book in one sentence it would be the last line of my book blurb, slightly altered. The death of a family member forces Etania Selali to act before it is too late, setting her on a journey leading to love and an acceptance for her newfound gift.
Q) Who inspired the character of Etania?
A) *Shyly raises hand* Etania is like who I was when I was a teenager. Unconfident and unsure, believing herself to be unimportant in the eyes of others. I used to be that person, and it took a while for me to embrace my identity in Christ. What really helped me, besides wonderful friends and family, was reading the book Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge. That book taught me that my value comes from God, and I used that lesson to formulate Etania.
Q) Can you tell me about your novella Toothbreaker, and how it fits into Etania’s story?
A) The best way to summarize Toothbreaker is to use the first line of my blurb, slightly altered: Sage betrayed his people. Tamar once loved him. Vartok hunts them both. Toothbreaker is about all three of these people, and how the choices they make an impact on each of them.
Toothbreaker is a novella that takes place alongside Etania’s story, as in the same timeline as the story. Sage is the second person Etania changed with her powers from a monster to a man. Sage’s journey takes him to the same battle that Etania faces at the end of the story and how he will impact Etania’s future is something I don’t want to spoil. Vartok is also one of the minor characters in Etania’s Worth, so there are quite a few tie-in’s!
Q) Can you describe your hopes and vision for your book series?
A) I consider Etania’s Worth to be Book 1 in the Daughters of Tamnarae series. I plan on publishing two more books about Etania, titled Etania’s Calling and Etania’s Destiny. These books are about Etania’s adventures on Tamnarae.  After that, I will begin writing about Lavanna, Etania’s daughter. Thus, the name of the series as “daughters.” I want to do books about Etania’s granddaughter and books about Etania’s mother, Tala, but I don’t have any ideas for those yet! I am sure I will have ideas for them eventually 🙂 Oh yeah, and I want to throw in a few more novellas as well. I definitely plan on this being an expansive series!
Q) Are there religious undertones in your writing?
A)     To answer this question, I have to tell a bit of a story, so bear with me. Back when I first came up with the ideas for the Daughters of Tamnarae series, I debated on what type of a story I wanted to create. As a Christian, I knew I wanted to create a story that had a Christian message. But I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be like C.S. Lewis, and create an obvious God-figure, or like Tolkein, and create a more symbolic God-figure. After praying about it, I decided I would go the Lewis route (though I have written a few more symbolic short stories). As a result, my books are very obvious about their Christian ties. Melchizedek is my Christ-figure and Jakin, Etania’s father, is based on the disciple Peter. I basically thought: if I could have a fantasy world where Christ came, how would I create it? In terms of Biblical times, though, Etania’s books take place years after Melchizedek’s coming and Jakin’s discipleship (his long life is explained in the book). So, there really aren’t undertones as much as there are obvious messages designed to encourage Christians in their faith. That being said, I don’t feel like my books are preachy, and the reviews I’ve received have encouraged me that the message is seamlessly incorporated into the story as a whole.
Q) How has God impacted you and your writing?
A) God is my muse. I feel like his Holy Spirit informs my writing and helps me refine my ideas. If I try to start writing without prayer or doing my Bible Study first, I am often stuck and unable to write. He is the one that enables me to put words on paper, and I am so grateful for how He has worked in my life. He draws me close and teaches me so that I could incorporate those lessons into my writing. Without him, I don’t think I could write.
Q) What advice do you have for other writers?
A) There is so much advice I have! I’ve often thought about putting together a blog (I even have a document full of blog posts). So, if I absolutely had to come up with one piece of advice, it would be to break down your writing projects into digestible pieces. Schedule time for writing, editing, and marketing. There are many stages to finishing a book, and it’s okay to do one piece of the project at a time. Especially if you’re working full-time like me.
Q) What do you like to write about outside of your series?
A) As I mentioned before, I keep a document filled with my writing blog posts. I also write book reviews (when I have time) going into the three core parts of a story (character, plot, and setting). I like interviewing authors on my blog, just like you 🙂 and participating in blog tours for other people’s books. I’ve also thought about doing a few fairy tale retellings, and currently have a Snow White retelling sitting in my documents. I also have some short story ideas and short stories written that I’m looking to traditionally publish. However, I mainly want to focus on Etania’s books, so my side projects usually happen during vacation.
Be sure to order yourself a copy of Etania’s Worth and pre-order Toothbreaker! Also, follow M. H. Elrich on social media!

Author Interview: R. M. Archer

R. M. Archer is a YA speculative fiction author who I met through social media. She is a homeschool senior with a worldview colored by her faith. Read our interview below to learn more about this inspiring writer and editor.

Q) You have an up and coming release of four short stories. Would you be willing to share more information on the individual stories and/or the release?

A) Absolutely! This is a new edition of a collection I published two years ago. Back then, it contained two sci-fi stories and two fantasy stories; now it contains the same two sci-fi stories (one heavily revised), a contemporary story, and a brand new fantasy story.
The sci-fi stories both take place in a future version of Earth, and both have connections to a fictional company called Grantech that appears in most of my sci-fi. One is about a character Grantech wants to steal powers from, and the other is about a group of students who are forced into an escape room as a recruitment test.
The contemporary story was originally an experiment. I tend to write a lot of dialogue, so I wanted to see how much emotion and information I could convey without conversation, and I was really happy with the results. The setting was born from the song Carnival Hearts by Kayla Diamond, and it was really fun to write. The fantasy story takes place in a world called Deseran, which I’m super excited to share with readers. I’ve been fascinated with non-European-inspired fantasy for a couple of years, and especially with desert fantasy, and this world was born of that. This story–Caithan–was a really cool opportunity to explore a little corner of Deseran and get to know some of the characters who live there and the issues they face, especially with clashing cultures.

IMG_20200112_085822_902IMG_20200112_085825_009

Q) Do you have a favorite story from the collection of short stories? Why or why not?

A) I like most of them for one reason or another. Silence is less special to me at this point, but Escape Room is cool because I’ve brought it so far from where it started, Carnival Hearts was a fun style to write and I loved stretching out of my comfort zone, and Caithan–really any story I set in Deseran–is a sort of passion project for me.

Q) What are your favorite things to write about?

A) Ooh. Relationships are super important to me. I love showing different types of relationships, and especially family relationships. I also love writing about fantastical worlds and creating new cultures and races and that kind of thing. And I enjoy tackling important issues through the lens of other worlds and characters who don’t have the same cultural expectations that we do.

Q) What inspires you to write?

A) Small-scale, everything inspires me. Random people I see in the grocery store, historical events I’m reading about in school… Once I had a whole conversation in my head between two fictional politicians that was inspired by dishcloths.
In general, though, there are a few driving forces. The earliest reason was just as an outlet for my imagination; I love to create, and writing allows for near-infinite creative freedom. Now, though, there’s also a desire to expose truths through storytelling, whether it’s something more religious like the idea of grace or something more social like the importance of family relationships and community.

Q) Are there religious undertones in your writing?

A)  It depends on how you define “religious undertones.” My faith colors my entire worldview, so in that sense all of my work has religious undertones because all of my themes are built from a Christian perspective. As far as more overt Christian themes or references, it depends on the project. Most of my projects don’t have direct Christian ties or allegory, but I do have other projects featuring prominent Christian characters (or the fantasy equivalent).

Q) How has God impacted you and your writing?

A) God has impacted me in sooo many ways. I wouldn’t be at all the person I am today without Him. He’s taught me grace, He’s lifted me out of depression, He’s given me courage to speak up… I owe everything to Him.
As far as my writing is concerned, He’s informed the themes of a lot of my books, and I try to turn to Him when I’m stuck in my writing. I’m still very imperfect at involving Him in my writing, though, and that’s something I’m aiming to work on this year.

Q) What are your plans for your writing?

A) I’d like to make a part-time career out of it. I’m still a long way from that point, but I have so many novels I’d love to put out once I have the resources to polish them to a professional level, and someday I’d love to be able to publish consistently.

Q) What advice do you have for other writers?

A) Assuming you’re looking to make a career of writing, make writing a habit. Take it seriously. You can’t produce (or polish) material consistently enough to make a living off of it if you’re not writing and revising consistently, so find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

Q) How can readers access your stories once they are released?

A) They’ll be available in both ebook and print format on Amazon. The ebook is actually available for pre-order now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083H33Y5C

Be sure to pre-order the collection at the link above and follow R. M. Archer on social media!

 

 

Book Review: Simple Habits For Marital Happiness by Randall Schroeder

I’m very excited to introduce the first Book of the Month for 2020: Simple Habits For Marital Happiness: Practical Skills And Tools That Build A Strong And Satisfying Relationship. I sincerely enjoyed the book, and I plan to implement several of the lessons within my own marriage.

Whether you are engaged and planning your life together, newly-weds, or have been married for thirty years, the lessons in Randall Schroeder’s Simple Habits For Marital Happiness (ISBN: 978-1633571754) can help you have a strong, satisfying relationship. Schroeder teaches 90 lessons that span seven chapters. The seven chapters deal with the following themes: forgiveness, strengthening the martial bond through commitment and closeness, the importance of enhancing emotional and spiritual oneness, communication, protecting and “guarding” your relationship, respectful disagreement discussions and keeping the “bond of peace,” and financial harmony.

Each lesson can be read in roughly 5 minutes, so they can easily be woven into daily reading for couples to grow together. Even after reading through one time, readers will want to revisit the lessons again and again to develop healthy habits within their marriage. The lessons in chapter three, Habits That Promote Spiritual And Emotional Closeness, provide important foundational lessons. For example, it is important to pour into each on a daily basis. Each day, spouses should fill each other’s cups through respectful dialogue. Through pouring into one another’s cups, or pumping water into their water towers, it decreases tension and increases emotional closeness.

Emotional closeness is a large theme within the book. Emotional closeness is achieved through various words and actions including appreciation and public praise, “quick connects,” “date your mates,” laughing together (but never at each other’s expense), politeness, and healthy habits for communication, guarding your relationship, and financial harmony.

Despite the vast wisdom in the book, Schroeder acknowledges that several of his lessons may be hard to digest by couples or indiviudal spouses. One of such lessons, is that spouses should never have opposite-sex friends outside of other couples. The rationale behind it is that closeness with an opposite-sex friend may lead to unfaithful actions and adultery. What is your opinion on this topic?

Overall, Schroeder’s Simple Habits For Marital Happiness is a fantastic guidebook for couples and individuals looking to grow in their relationships. The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Check out the link below to order yourself a copy.

Link to purchase your own copy of Simple Habits for Marital Happiness: Practical Skills And Tools That Build A Strong Satisfying Relationship 

Simple-Habits-Large-Front

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

bookcrashbadge

Happy New Year From The Unicorn Writer

Happy New Year! I thought I would take some time to introduce you to the writer behind the page 💗

theunicornwriter

My name is Kayla E. Green, but feel free to call me The Unicorn Writer. I am a Christian author, and I am currently working with Wipf and Stock to publish a collection of my poetry entitled Metamorphosis.

I have also completed a young adult fantasy novel entitled The Goodness of Unicorns that I hope to have published this year or next. 💗

I am currently working on an adult fiction novel with the working title, Saved by the Grace of a Dog🐕💗

Some facts about me:

  1.  I have an identical twin sister.
  2. I have 4 dogs (2 were adopted through the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina).
  3. One of my all time favorite books is Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede.
  4. I’m currently obsessed with The Witcher on Netflix.
  5. By day, I teach English Language Arts to 6th graders.
  6. I love unicorns!

Tell me a fun fact about you in the comments! 😊

Be Still And Listen

Screenshot_20191215-161406_Instagram

Be still and listen.
Be patient and wait.
For in the silence is a lesson
That will serve you in a manner great.
Cut out the noise and clamor
Lend the Lord your ear
Put on your holy armor
And let faith dissolve your fears.
Let your Father speak
To your heart and soul
Let strength fill your weakness
Let His word make you whole.
Be still and listen
To His word on high
For it is time to begin again
And start your new life.

Identity in Christ

A video by Priscilla Shirer of Going Beyond Ministries was recently shared with me, and it could not have been shared at a more perfect time.

Link to video Identity in Christ by Going Beyond Ministries with Priscilla Shirer

There were several things she said that struck a spiritual cord within my heart inclduing:

  • We must first go to God so that our path may be illuminated.
  • It is when we are outnumbered and the odds are against us that miracles happen.
  • “His strength is perfected in our weakness.”
  • When a woman is inspired by God, that is a powerful thing.
  • Confidence is gained through difficulties and difficult circumstances.
  • We are in a process unfolding – we will be at a different starting point in the new year than we were in the past.
  • When we encounter God’s word, we are changed.
  • We are marked by the identity of Christ.

My identitiy is within Jesus Christ. I want to embrace the change that is occuring because of God’s work within me. I want to embrace my metamorphosis. I want to trust in Him more. I want to pray more and go to Him first so my path may be illuminated. I want to go where He needs me and when.

I am changed. I am changing. I am transformed. I am transforming. All in His name. 

textgram_1575827048

 

Book Review: How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado

Do you feel happy? How long has it been since you felt geniuine happiness? How can we find happiness in a world with so many unhappy circumstances? Max Lucado explores these questions from a religious perspective in his recent 2019 book How Happiness Happens (ISBN: 978-1404112261). This book is perfect for anyone searching for ways to add geniune, contagious, infectious, and unstoppable happiness to their lives.

Lucado’s secret to a happy life? It is more beneficial to give rather than to get. To be happy, you need to focus on others. He frames his lessons on happiness around “one another” statements:

  1. Encourage one another.
  2. Bear with one another.
  3. Regard one another as more important.
  4. Greet one another.
  5. Pray for one another.
  6. Serve one another.
  7. Accept one another.
  8. Admonish one another.
  9. Forgive one another.
  10. Love one another.

Each “one another” statement is centered in scripture and accompanied by engaging anecdotes that encourage the reader to keep reading more

One of the biggest takeaways from this book is that people find happiness by making others happy. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

Another lesson that is beautifully depicted is loving others as God first loved us is vital to happiness. When we let the love of God fill our hearts and souls, we see people differently and we can appreciate the beauty of the stories they have to tell. By loving and serving others as God first loved us, we can find happiness. “Happiness happens when you offer to others the grace you’ve been given” (p. 145).

A third lesson that Lucado teaches is that prayer is necessary. We are ambassadors of God. It is our duty to represent His love and His light. When we embrace our roles, we can speak to God and He will speak to us. He will lay concerns and passion on our hearts, and we in turn must pray. One of the lines in the book that spoke to me most was “God burdens you with a concern for orphans, distant lands, or needy people. Respond to these promptings by prayer” (p. 83). When God places something on your heart, pray. “We can do much after we pray, but we can do nothing until we pray” (p. 85). Pray and then act. Keep God at the center of your life, while serving, loving, admonishing, and encouraging others, and you will find happiness. Find a way to serve others that ignites your soul, and you will find happiness.*

Happiness is not material. It cannot be purchased. BUT it can be achieved. Anyone who wants a greater understanding of How Happiness Happens should read Lucado’s book in full. In addition to the main text, the book includes “The Happiness Challenge” (a 40 day challenge meant to increase your happiness level), questions for reflection, Lucado’s 10 personal thoughts on happiness, and 10 scriptures to find encouragement.

Link to purchase your own copy of How Happiness Happens

 

how happiness happens

*I have found myself in the last month, the happiest I have been in years. What have I changed? I have started attending church regularly and have been working on my relationship with God. I have tried to remain optimistic, even when stressed. I have greeted people, even people I don’t know. I have prayed more and I have spent time praying for others. I have taken more time to spend with my husband and for us to grow as a couple. I have taken more time to do things that makes my heart happy (writing, blogging, reading). I have started volunteering again. I have continued to go to therapy and do my “homework” (many of the things I have listed above) to improve my emotional health. Things are not perfect, but I am so blessed I am happier and in a better state than I was a year ago or even a few months ago. Lucado’s book helped me understand that happiness can be achieved, but to get happiness we must give to others. I am trying to start my days with, “How can I be of service to others?” Be it my students, co-workers, family, friends, or strangers — I want to be ready to serve.

 

 

What Defines You?

“What defines you?” It wasn’t the main message of today’s sermon at church, but as soon as the pastor said it, it resonated with me. What defines me? What do I want to be defined as?

I have spent the entire afternoon reflecting and comtemplating on this. I want to be defined as someone who is happy, confident, and fulfilled. I want to be defined as a strong woman of Christ and someone who shares the light of Jesus with everyone she meets based on her demeanor and actions. I want to be the woman of Proverbs 31.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:25-30

I want to be like my great-grandmother, Edna, who is a strong woman of Christ who has a servant’s heart. When I read Proverbs 31, I immediately think of Grandma. Thinking of both together, I was inspired to write the poem “Edna.”

textgram_1575246835

I am far from the woman of Proverbs 31. I am far from being my Grandma. I am far from being the woman of Christ I yearn to be. But I’m going to try my best each day to be better than the day before. I am going to work in growing my faith and becoming more of a servant to others rather than focusing on my own selfish wants and desires. Through this, I think I can become happier, more confident, and fulfilled. I want to be defined by these things, but, most of all, I want to be defined by my faith.

What defines you? How do you want to be defined? What goals do you have to shape your identity and how others see you? Comment below!