Book Review: How Some Abuelitas Keep Their Chicana Granddaughters Still While Painting Their Portraits in Winter by Myriam Gurba

I discovered Myriam Gurba’s collection of short stories (ISBN: 978-1-933149-90-5) by chance. Upon reading the book’s back cover description, I was instantly attracted to the work.

The blurb reads, “In this artfully crafted collection of short stories by award-winning author Myriam Gurba, nothing is as it seems. A Mexican grandmother tells creepy yet fascinating ghost stories to prevent fidgeting (“How Some Abuelitas Keep Their Chicana Granddaughters Still While Painting Their Portraits in Winter”). A Polish grandfather spends the night in a Mexican graveyard after a Dia de Muertos celebration to discover if ghosts really do consume the food that has been left for them (“Even This Title is a Ghost”). Unforgettable characters inhabit these cross-border tales filled with introspection and longing as modern sensibilities weave and wend through traditional folktales creating a new kind of magical realism that offers insights into where we come from and where we may be going.”

Yet, upon reading the collection I would not describe the work as magical realism, but rather paranormal imagination. The stories focus tremendously on death spanning a narrator who is drawn to the corpse of her murdered cousin and her aunt’s dead dog’s taxedermied body with missing eyes to spirits in a graveyard that are mistaken as pigs to a ghost lacking an identity roaming searching for wisdom. There are many themes explored within the paranormal tales including, but not limited to, family bonds/connections or lack thereof, sexuality and sexual orientation, identity, religion, and mental health.

Gruba’s writing is beautifully descriptive and her words are captivating. I will admit it took me a moment to get used to the profane language, but I was impressed by the writing overall. However, there are several areas within the stories that I failed to understand. I assume it is reader-error, but even after taking time to try to process each story I still don’t understand the stories in their totality. For example, in “Even This Title Is a Ghost” the grandfather sees pigs rather than spirits. Pigs come up again in other stories, but I don’t understand the significance. In the same story, the grandfather notices a man’s cricket is missing in the end – does this imply the cricket was a spirit much like the pigs? Perhaps, I am thinking too much.

I also must point out that the short story collection should have a trigger warning for women who have lost children. La Llorona and the legend’s variations are discussed, but it also depicts a grandmother who cradles the coffin of her dead baby until she collapses from exhaustion. Another element I failed to understand was the discussion of “real Llorona” or real women who murdered their children – and the narrator saying that a woman killing her own children was natural. Was this satire that went over my head? Did I misread or fail to read in between the lines? Whatever the case may be, I do NOT recommend this collection to those who have lost a child.

There was also a disregard for animals/pets painting them as a nuisance or evil and sexual beings until “Tzintzuntzan.” This is probably my favorite short story because of the regard for other living things the narrator demonstrates as she is filled with shame and guilt after destroying the branch of a tree in which a hummingbird nest was  residing. Most of the other stories seem to focus on death as an inevitable end to a miserable existence – In all honesty, I found most of the stories disheartening.

I did enjoy the creepy tidbits and discussion of ghosts – I wish there had been more of this.

This book is definitely outside my normal reading, and I have struggled with how to rate this book. The writing is beautiful, and Gurba incorporates important themes/ideas within her stories. However, I feel like there are some stories lacking clarity (or it is written in a way that simply goes over the reader’s head). Taking into consideration that this is not what I am used to reading and the beautiful writing, I give this book 3/5 stars. I wish there was more creepy paranormal stories as seen in “How Some Abuelitas Keep Their Chicana Granddaughters Still While Painting Their Portraits in Winter” and “Even This Title Is a Ghost,” and I wish there was less focus on children being killed and parents abandoning their children.

I do NOT recommend this to children, YA, or YT readers. Readers of adult fiction who are interested in philosophy of death and paranormal imagination may enjoy these stories. Gurba’s collection is available on Amazon here and through Manic D Press here. If you read it, I would love to discuss the stories with you and see if I can better wrap my head around the exact messages!

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“Ghosts colonize the imagination. Imaginations are the ultimate haunted houses.”

Author Interview: Maggie Platt

Last week I introduced you to one of my new favorite authors in my book review of Kingdom Above the Cloud. This week I have the honor of interviewing the author Maggie Platt whose writing creates a space in which readers can explore their Christian faith.

In addition to being a talented author, Platt is the Director of Residence Life at Anderson University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Indiana. When she isn’t working or writing, Platt enjoys sports, gardening, reading, traveling, and spending time with her nieces and nephew. Read our full interview below to better get to know Platt and her writing!

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Q) How long have you been writing?
A) I’ve been writing since I was a little girl, and my first clear memory is from junior high. I would lie on my stomach on the floor of my bedroom, scribbling into a notebook all night. I still have those early stories (I’m a writing hoarder… I can’t get rid of anything I’ve written!)
Q) Why do you write?
A) Because I can’t not write (ha!) I have always expressed myself with the written word, and I’m not sure how I would go on without it (a bit dramatic but true!). I worked on Kingdom Above the Cloud for about a decade, and the main goal was never publication. The real purpose of Kingdom in my life was working out my faith and some of my deepest questions.
Q) What is your favorite book and why?
A) This is SO hard. If I had to pick just one, I would say Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I love all of the backstory we get to see, and I think the emotion of losing Dumbledore is beautifully written. This is also a nostalgic pick. I was in college when the HP books were becoming super famous, but I never read them until the summer that HBP was being released. I read the first five books that summer, leading up to the midnight release of Half-Blood Prince. I stood in line forever at Barnes and Noble, and then stayed up all night reading!
Q) Who is your favorite author and why?
A) I know this is super unpopular right now due to everything going on over on Twitter, but I would be an absolute liar if I said anyone but JK Rowling. My answer is not meant to be hurtful to anyone. It’s just the truth. I am amazed at the world she created, but even more so that she was able to weave it so masterfully into our real world, giving us all a little bit of hope that this magical world really exists, but we muggles can’t see it. Her characters are so vivid and funny and tragic. I love how you can witness her writing skills improve with each book. And when you look close enough, she artfully foreshadows just about everything that is to come later in the books. I would love to be half the writer and creative genius that she is.
Q) What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
A) I love reading and writing fantasy, and my favorite all-time series are Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia. However, I also love historical fiction, especially sagas that follow the same families for centuries (my absolute favorite is Paris by Edward Rutherford).
Q) What inspired Kingdom Above the Cloud? What was your purpose for writing the book?
A) It really started with a daydream. What if there was a world full of characters who had mastered either a deadly sin or a fruit of the spirit? I started designing characters and imagining scenes, and it took on a life of its own. By the time I was done writing it, it was a deep dive into my Christian faith on a scale I never expected!
Q) Can you highlight some of the lessons you hope readers take away from Kingdom Above the Cloud?
A) The main character, Tovi, struggles through temptations of all different kinds throughout the story. As I’ve talked to readers, they each connect to the story in different ways, which I love! My hope is that readers will not only see themselves in Tovi, but also that they would know they are not alone in their questions and struggles.
Q)  Can you tell us about your own faith journey?
A) Where to start?! I grew up attending church, youth group, and summer camp. But, I didn’t fully commit until late in high school. I had been through some turbulent years, and in the darkest moments I knew I wanted a closer relationship with God. I just didn’t know how to get there! A friend from school started talking with me about faith, and she invited me to her church and a summer conference called Christ in Youth (CIY). On the very first night, I knew I had found what I was looking for. I didn’t go up front for the altar call (that was SUPER unfamiliar to my Presbyterian roots!), but I asked Jesus to be my everything that night. And while I’ve been far from perfect since then, I haven’t ever turned back from that decision. Life has continued to have very high highs and very low lows, and each season has taught me more about Jesus, his work in the world, and his work in me.
Q)  Are you currently working on the sequel? If so, can you tell us about it?
A) Yes!! I’m almost done with the first draft. The first book was all about Tovi experiencing Adwin (God) for the first time and starting that incredibly important relationship. The second book is focused on what I think is the hardest part of our faith journeys… listening to God and actually doing what he tells us to do! Obedience, decision-making, and listening (or refusing to listen) are central to the story as Tovi longs to find her brother. Anyone who has read the first book can guess from Tovi’s personality that obedience won’t be easy for her. Her refusal to listen will take her on an unexpected journey to a location on the map that was barely mentioned in the first book.
Q) Can you tell us about your hope and vision for your writing and the Tales from Adia series?
A) I hope that the Tales from Adia will be a long series, jumping to different eras in the history of Adia and the surrounding lands. Right now, the plan is that the first three books will be the story of Tovi and the heirs of Mount Damien. After that, I want to jump far into the future, when the land and different kingdoms are more established. I may someday go back and tell the tale of Ganya and Avi leaving the mountain, but we’ll have to see!
Q) What advice do you have for other authors?
A) Don’t give up! Keep working on your craft. Learn about writing and revising. Learn about the different types of publishing (self, traditional through a small publisher, traditional through an agent and bigger publishing house) and how to write a query/proposal. There is SO MUCH to learn, but none of it will matter if you aren’t growing as a writer and sending your absolute best out there into the world.
Q) What is your favorite Bible verse?
A) This tends to change all the time with whatever season I’m in! Recently Micah 6:8 has been on my mind almost constantly. “What does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
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Be sure to check out Platt’s website and follow her on social media! You can also order your own copy of Kingdom Above the Cloud from Amazon here or directly from Platt’s website.

Book Review: Kingdom Above the Cloud

Maggie Platt’s debut novel Kingdom Above the Cloud (ISBN: 978-1-62020-588-4) is a beautifully constructed story that reminds readers that they are worthy of God’s love. I finished this book in three days, and would have finished it even sooner if life had allowed it. Maggie Platt just might be my new favorite author, and I wait with much anticipation for Book Two of Tales From Adia.

Kingdom Above the Cloud opens with King Damien, an evil king obsessed with painted prophecies and destroying Adwin and those that possess his symbol. Adwin, the creator of the world, was run off the mountain, the kingdom above the cloud, by Damien and his followers. Adwin, and those that followed him, established the treehouse village of Adia. Adians love and follow Adwin, and they come to know him in the forest when they seek him. That is most Adians come to know him – Tovi Tivka has never met Adwin, and she only wants to find him to tell him how much she hates him. How can she have faith in an invisible king who allowed so much pain and suffering in her life?

Tovi and her twin brother Tali grew up with guardians in Adia rather than their birth parents. They aren’t even originally from Adia. They don’t know of their true origin. And now, Tali has disappeared and has been gone for 6 months. Tovi has much anger and resentment that she directs towards Adwin. Her best friend Silas offers her a listening ear, but as she lets darkness consume her, she pushes him further and further away.

Meanwhile, on the mountain, King Damien summons his Council of Masters and gives each member a task of marking an Adian and bringing them above the cloud. Tovi becomes the prey of several Masters. What will become of Tovi? What will she decide? Who will she become?

Platt had me on the edge of my seat with each page. You quickly fall in love with Adia and the members of HH [read to find out what that stands for ;)], and you quickly develop disdain for King Damien and several of the Masters. I will say that, for me, Tovi’s hard exterior made it difficult to like her at first, though her questions and struggles with faith are relatable. However, you can’t help but cheer for Tovi and hope with each turn of the page that she will realize the truth and seek redemption. I hope to see more development with this character as the series continues.

My favorite part of this book was the Christian allegory woven seamlessly into the plot. Adwin (who also has a new name) reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia. Yet, this was not a rehashing of Lewis’s work. It is new and refreshing, but it still holds a meaningful message. The message that we are worthy of God’s love, that we are worthy of God’s forgiveness, and that we can be born again through God’s grace is so eloquently delivered that I found myself with tears on my face as I read.

I HIGHLY recommend Kingdom Above the Cloud to readers of Young Adult fiction. Also, readers of Christian fiction, who enjoy fantasy spins, will greatly enjoy this book. I personally give it 5/5 stars, and, like I said before, I cannot wait for the next book in the series! Add The Kingdom Above the Clouds to your TBR – you will not be disappointed!

Link to purchase The Kingdom Above the Clouds from Amazon.

Link to purchase The Kingdom Above the Clouds directly from Maggie Platt (autographed version plus some extra goodies!) 

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Book Review: A Queen’s Throne: The Iron Lotus Series Book One By Nicole Adamz & Brooke Chastain

July 17, 2020 is a special day as it was the book birthday (or release date) for A Queen’s Throne: The Iron Lotus Series Book One by Nicole Adamz and Brooke Chastain. After reading Claimed by Nicole Adamz, I was thrilled when she asked me to be part of her new novella’s emergence into the world of books by showcasing it on my blog and social media channels. A Queen’s Throne is an Asian-inspired steampunk modeled after Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Though my reading list usually contains YA fantasy, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. I highly recommend this novella to fans of coming of age stories, readers of Alcott, and lovers of good, wholesome writing.

A Queen’s Throne focuses on Zhenzhu Meilis and her family, which includes sisters Jia, Shiyan, and Xini. Zhenzhu loves her family, but struggles with the family’s newfound poverty. As the eldest child, Zhenzhu feels it is her place to help her mother care and provide for the family while her father is fighting in Milgrim’s war. After an embarrassing scene in the market involving unrequited love, Zhenzhu is blacklisted from finding work, and she struggles to find purpose and a way to help her struggling mother. As Zhenzhu struggles, she finds herself with two more suitors offering her very different things. Who will Zhenzhu choose? Will she be able to help her family with her choice? Will she find happiness and fulfillment?

I really enjoyed this novella, and saw clear reflections of the March sisters in the Meilis sisters. It has made me want to re-read Little Women! I also enjoyed the character depth and Zhenzhu’s character development throughout the story. I appreciated the themes of family and the slight Christian undertones of the novella with references to the Great Spirit and His wisdom. One of my favorite quotes from the novella is, “To cling to the past, hoping to recreate it in the future, is to miss the Great Spirit’s plan for you in the present.” It reminds me of two Bible verses. First: “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you,” – Proverbs 4:15. Second: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” – Jeremiah 29:11. The lesson here resonates with me, in that I often try to live in the past or the future rather than in the moment. I must focus on the present and what God is actively doing in my life now. Can anyone else relate?

The book does not end on a cliff-hanger (which I appreciate), but the epilogue leaves the reader with many questions and anticipation for the next book in the series. I, myself, am very much looking forward to the rest of the series. Overall, I give A Queen’s Throne 5/5 stars.

Link to purchase A Queen’s Throne.

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*I was given an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

Author Interview: Katie Dunn

Last week I reviewed the wonderful novel Myth Blessed, and this week I had the honor of interviewing author Katie Dunn. In addition to being a talented author, Dunn is a high school history teacher. Living in Arizona, Dunn enjoys reading and playing games (whether it is video games, board games, or DnD). She also enjoys traveling and exploring. Dunn used to be a member of the organization called the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is a reenactment of the middle ages. She would participate in activities like knife throwing and Viking weaving — how cool is that?! Read our full interview below to better get to know Dunn and her writing!

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Q) How long have you been writing?

A) I have been writing since I was very young. My school used to have creative writing time and I loved writing fun stories for the teacher to read. As I got older, I started writing in my own in journals, but I could never finish a story because I kept getting inspired and distracted with other story ideas. It was only a year ago, 2019, that I had someone push me to finish a book and then publish it. That was when I published Ancient Elements.   

Q) Why do you write?

A) I write because I want to share the ideas that run wild in my mind. Sometimes I have an idea and I just want to read it in a story, but it has not been written yet, so instead of waiting for someone else to do it, I make it become a reality. Reading fantasy fiction is one of my favorite pastimes and writing in that genre lets me become a part of that community and contribute something for others who enjoy the same books I do.

Q) What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

A) I love reading fantasy fiction, especially anything with powers and/or snarky heroines. I have been reading that genre my whole life it seems, and that is why I write it as well. Within the fantasy fiction genre, I love writing about mythological creatures and/or powers. My favorite type of powers in fantasy fiction is anything with the elements: fire, earth, water, and air.

Q) What is your favorite book and why?

A) I recently finished reading a series that has become my new favorite. The series is called the Guild Codex/Spellbound and it is full of magic, adventure, humor, and has moments of romance. I was hooked and finished the whole series within a week or two. As soon as I finished the books, I wished I could go back and read it all with new eyes so I could enjoy every moment again.

Q) Who is your favorite author and why?

A) Rick Riordan is my favorite author. I loved all his books growing up and enjoyed the humor, mythology, and adventure in them immensely. The Percy Jackson series was actually the first set of books that led me to love reading. I will always have a soft spot for Rick Riordan’s books; he is an amazing author.

Q) What inspired Myth Blessed?

A) At the time I was binging on books with an Academy setting and thought it would be fun to write one of my own. I love myths and the elements, so I just combined them all to get Myth Blessed. As for Serena’s familiar, I knew I wanted it to be something related to chimeras which meant she could either have a snake, a goat, or a lion. I thought a goat would be cuter and more entertaining.

Q) Did you conduct a lot of research on mythical creatures before writing Myth Blessed? What was your favorite thing you discovered during your research?

 A) I already knew much about the creatures in my novel, but I did have to research to find out more about a couple of them. I knew I wanted a Native American mythological being in the book, so I researched and found the Nalusa Chito of Choctaw mythology. I had to decide whether I wanted to do a Nalusa Chito or Nalusa Falaya. I went with the soul eater myth. I had never heard of a Nalusa Chito before and it was fun to learn about it. The other beings I had to do a bit of research on were the ones I described at the end of the book when Serena was in the facility of imprisoned Myths.

Q) What other works do you have available for readers at this time? Could you give us a blurb about each book?

A) This link takes you to my Amazon author page where you can find all my books.

Ancient Elements: Skye Dunbar and her best friend thought they were the only ones who had special abilities. However, new neighbors move in across the street and prove them wrong. Skye and her friend accompany them to their facility after an attack where they train their powers and skills. Skye finds out she is one of the missing elementals they have been looking for, but she isn’t sure she wants to join them, especially since a rogue group of gifted individuals is hunting them.  

Pirates from Under and Prince of Shayd: These two books are part of the Skor Stone Trilogy in which the Lord of Skorval uses manipulative skor stones to control the royals and people of all the kingdoms. His niece Anameta, who is his heir, and the captain of the pirates work together to stop him and bring back peace to the lands. Prince of Shayd releases July 25, 2020!

Four Horsemen: Phi Bronson just wanted to go to University and become an engineer but when someone attacks her with a sword and three guys from her past stalk her every move, she is brought in to a world of apocalyptic powers and danger. Trying to avoid the Templars who are hunting her while also trying not to kill anyone and attend classes may end up being too much for her.

Q) Do you have a current WIP? If so, can you tell us about it?

A) I am super excited about the current book I am working on! I almost wanted to take a pause on Prince of Shayd to start working on this story idea, but I was encouraged to finish the book before I moved on. I am getting into the superhero ring. The story has superheroes, monsters, different Houses/sects within the supernatural world, and a lead character that has an unreliable power and a mystery to solve. I changed the title from Blue Lightning Girl to Sapphire Sparks.

Q) Can you tell us about your hope and vision for your writing?

A) I really hope to be able to continue writing and publishing more stories. I have a whole list of ideas for more books and I hope to one day to fulfill all of them. Being an author is not my full-time job, but it is a hobby that I hold dear and one I put a lot of time and heart into. I would love for more readers to immerse themselves in the worlds and stories I create. One day I hope to have at least ten reviews for each of my books.

Q) What advice do you have for other authors?

A) I know this is an obvious bit of advice, but it is something that cannot be said enough: write, write, write, and when you’re done writing, read, then write some more. What I have learned is that a skill cannot be improved unless it is done over and over again. Another piece of advice is to not worry as much about how other authors write because every author has their own unique way of doing things: what they write, how they format, and their processes that lead to writing their stories. Just do what makes you comfortable.

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Order your copy of Myth Blessed here, and be sure to check out Dunn’s other books (see Amazon author link above)! Follow Dunn on social media to stay up to date with her and her writing.

Website: https://kdunnauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatieDunn/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18967562.Katie_Dunn

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kdunnauthor 

Cover Reveal:  A Queen’s Throne: Iron Lotus Series Book One By Nicole Adamz & Brooke Chastain

I am SO EXCITED to be part of the cover reveal for A Queen’s Throne: Iron Lotus Series Book One by Nicole Adamz and Brooke Chastain! This book is AMAZING and I can’t wait to share my review with you (will be posted July 25 at 8:00am). For now, check out the book’s blurb, and then check out the BEAUTIFUL cover! The book will be available July 17 on Amazon!

Book Blurb: 

Sometimes love comes second to need.

Zhēnzhū hates being poor, but she loves her family. A vague shadow clings to her family after one decision by her father sent the Méilís into poverty, and they never recovered. Now, her father is fighting in a war raging inside of Milgrim: one side promotes reckless advancement of technology while the other side urges caution. The responsibility of keeping the family together falls on Zhēnzhū’s mother and the four girls.

As the eldest daughter, Zhēnzhū takes her duty seriously but can’t help yearning for more. When Zhēnzhū is accused of something she didn’t do, her job is placed in jeopardy. Desperate, Zhēnzhū struggles to forge a new path but becomes entangled with two men. Both offer her a chance at a different life, but she isn’t sure what choice to make. Clinging to the past, and hope for the future, Zhēnzhū’s troubled heart makes a surprising discovery.

Will her final choice help her family?

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Book Review: Myth Blessed by Katie Dunn

I came across author Katie Dunn on Instagram, and when I first heard of her YA contemporary fantasy Myth Blessed (ISBN: 9781699214985)I knew I had to read it.

Serena Carter is a normal human — she was never blessed by a myth (mythological creature) despite her parents’ hopes. She plans to move across the country after graduation and start a new life. However, a family vacation to Hawaii sets Serena on a different path. A path that includes attending Myth Blessed Academy, where those gifted learn to control their magical abilities. High School is difficult enough without trying to maneuver newfound magical abilities, let alone a mean girl and a feud between fire and water blessed.

Dunn hooks the reader early in chapter one. I finished this book in one sitting as I was eager to discover what Serena would learn about herself next. Plus, this book has a baby goat. How adorable is that?!

I wish there was more of Serena’s life. I wish there was a second book detailing the rest of her senior year and/or her after high school. I would love Amazon or Netflix to make a TV series inspired by Myth Blessed. That would be a hit show! Anyone who enjoys My Hero Academia or Little Witch Academia would enjoy Myth Blessed.

I will say I wish there was more build up to the climax and I wish there was more during that scene. However, I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it to lovers of YA fantasy and mythological creatures. Plus, there is a good romance trope and I am always a sucker for a good romance trope! I give it 4 out of 5 stars!

Link to purchase Myth Blessed by Katie Dunn.

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Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist has been sitting on my bookshelf unopened by me for three years. Yet, when I finally decided to read it, I couldn’t put it down. I devoured it in one sitting. This book is one that I will re-read again and again, discovering more about myself with each turn of the page.

Coehlo’s simplistic tale of a young Andalusian shepherd boy chasing his Personal Legend captivates the reader and calls to one’s heart, helping them rekindle the ember of passion for chasing their own dreams. The boy, after having a recurrent dream, seeks out a Gypsy woman. The woman sends him to find his treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. From there, the boy encounters people and circumstances, that, though not always pleasant, helps him fulfill his Personal Legend and achieve happiness.

I think the best way to capture how much this book spoke to my soul is through sharing some of my favorite lines from the novel:

  • “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
  • “. . .and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
  • “The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being.”
  • “We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”
  • “Because I don’t live in either my past of my future. I’m interested in only the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.”
  • “If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.”
  • “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love. . .”
  • “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
  • “Listen to your heart.”
  • “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
  • “Anyone who interferes with the Personal Legend of another thing never will discover his own.”
  • “When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you. . .”
  • “Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”
  • “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

The ultimate lesson? Always follow your dreams. AND I shouldn’t let books sit so long without reading them — I’ll never know what I am missing. You can order your own copy of The Alchemist here. This story of adventure, determination, and self-realization will not disappoint.

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I’m A Butterfly: A Poem from Metamorphosis

Have you gotten your copy of Metamorphosis yet? You can get it here! Metamorphosis is a collection of Christian poetry, designed to illustrate the power of God’s love.

“Are you searching for something more in your life? Metamorphosis is a personal testimony of how God can transform lives. Covering topics of depression, anxiety, and searching for something more, the poetry serves as a vessel for God’s light. The words provide hope for the future and insight on how to be strong through Jesus Christ. Anyone yearning for something more will find renewal in this poetry.”

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One of the poems within the collection is “I’m A Butterfly.” I want to share that poem with you now.

I’M A BUTTERFLY

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has
come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Second Corinthians 5:17

As I emerge from the silken cocoon
Ending one chapter and starting anew
Cleanse my soul with a raging flame
Illuminate my spirit with the fire
Help me cast my inner demons into the darkness
And fill my body’s temple with Your light.
As I stretch my wings in the newfound light
Awakening from a dream and seizing my reality
Release my soul from the chains of my past
Liberate my spirit from anxieties of my former self
Help me rid my being of negativity
And fill my heart with Your love.
As I begin to soar towards the heavens
Stretching my boundaries
Let me realize who I am in You
Wrap me in Your will
Help me live out Your word
And fill my life with Your good.

 

Book Review: Etania’s Worth by M. H. Elrich

After interviewing M. H. Elrich back in January, I added her debut novel Etania’s Worth to my TBR (ISBN: 978-1087865751). Upon reading it, I wish I had read it sooner. This was a story I did not realize I needed in my life until I opened the book. Elrich magically captures what is means to grow up in both a literal and spiritual sense. Her detailed characters and peoples create a fascinating world, and her plot draws you in making you eager to discover what will happen next.

Etania Selali has a strained relationship with her father who often puts hunting Skazic over his family. Because of this, Etania chooses to become her mother’s apprentice at the library rather than train under her father. However, after a surprise attack by a Skazic, Etania and her family discover she is a Vexli — she has the Neuma (a unique power given by God) to change Skazic back to their human selves (before they were corrupted by Malstorm). Etania struggles accepting her father’s desire to use her as a weapon against the Skazic, but more than that she struggles to accept herself and the fact that Melchizedek (son of God) loves her and has a plan for her life. As Etania travels with her father and his apprentice gathering support for a coming war after a great betrayal, she journeys to places of self-discovery, self-acceptance, love, and God’s grace.

Within the world of Tamnarae, there are many groups of people with specific Neuma. For instance, the Leici have healing Neuma while the Eritam can tame wolves. Similarly the Draconians can control dragons. The Naymatua can grow plants, the Ningyo can control water, and the Kinzoku can manipulate metal. (Personally, I would totally be a Draconian. Is there a quiz for this? There should be a quiz for this.)

One of my favorite quotes from the book reads, “He loved her even when she couldn’t love herself.” I think this line perfectly captures what true love looks like, and the unwavering love God has for us. As Etania discovers the love of God, we are reminded of it again and again. Elrich’s writing is a beautiful reminder that God is the source of all love and that our relationship with him should always remain a priority.

I highly recommend Etania’s Worth to lovers of YA fantasy and Christian fiction.

Order your own copy today!

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