Book Review: Silence and Shadow by Nicole Adamz and Brooke Chastain

The second installment of the Iron Lotus Series, Silence and Shadow, will be available November 23 – go ahead and set a reminder on your calendar, because you don’t want to miss it!

Silence & Shadow is a YA novella suitable for all ages and anyone who is:

✓ Looking to explore a new world

✓ Craves a sweet sibling relationship

✓ Hungry to read but crunched on time

If you liked Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, then you will ♥love♥ this exciting twist on the classic tale!

After reading the first novella of the series, A Queen’s Throne, see my review here, I was beyond ready for book two. Each book centers around one of the Meili sisters, with Silence and Shadow centered on Shiyan. I quickly fell in love with Shiyan, inspired by Alcott’s Beth, and her good nature and loving heart.

Shiyan has never looked past the present, but begins dreaming of a future after falling for the kind-hearted Dr. Bakari at Qi Infirmary where she works. However, will she be able to fulfill her dreams of the future? Her quiet demeanor makes her an easy target for an evil plotter against the Meili family, and Shiyan faces a great battle in which she struggles to survive.

If you enjoy books that lead to tears, then you will enjoy this book – I cried for a majority of this novella. The ending was expected, but still it broke my heart. I’m still reeling, and have a major book hangover – signs of a good book, in my humble opinion.

Christian undertones and themes of God’s will, family bonds, responsibility to family, forgiveness, and purpose all create a thought provoking story. The evil plotter, introduced in book one, becomes even more loathsome, and I find myself struggling with wanting to see a redemption arc while also wanting to see them suffer greatly for the pain they cause.

Overall, Adamz and Chastain have created a wonderful world that I can’t wait to continue to immerse myself in – I give this book 5/5 stars, and I anxiously await book three.

Link to purchase A Queen’s Throne is here.

Link to purchase Silence and Shadow is here.

I received a free copy of this book, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

“Sometimes the princess is the monster.”

Whew, life kept getting in the way and I didn’t think I would finish this book, but I’m so glad I finally did – it is SO GOOD! If you love twisted fairy tale inspired stories, then Girl, Serpent, Thorn (ISBN: 978-1250196149) is the book is for you!

Soraya grows up listening to stories – “There was and there was not” – including the story of a girl who was cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But that isn’t some fairy tale – that’s Soraya’s life. Cursed before her birth, or so the story goes, Soraya has never known another’s touch. She hides away, using secret passageways to maneuver around her palace home.

Upon learning of the shah’s, her twin brother’s, upcoming wedding to her former best, and only, friend Laleh, Soraya is overcome with emotion. That paired with years of longing, loneliness, and desperation, lead her to attempt to break out of the shadows she has long been confined to. She ventures to the dungeon below to speak to a demon for answers to questions she has long bottled up. Urged on by a handsome soldier, Soraya does all that she can to find answers and lift her curse – but she finds her choices have consequences she could have never imagined.

Who is she and who is she becoming? Is she who she wants to be? Is she powerless or powerful?

Bashardoust writes eloquently, and her words captivate the reader with every paragraph. And Soraya’s problems, though fantastical, are very much relatable. Problems with accepting yourself flaws and all? Struggles for finding your purpose and your place in the world? Issues with understanding and accepting your feelings? I think we’ve all been there. Soraya’s overall character arc is spellbinding, and the twists and turns keep you wanting more until the very end.

I also love the love story – it isn’t who you expect Soraya to fall for initially, but it is beautiful.

Overall, this is a fabulous book that blurs the line between princess and monster – in truth, aren’t we all a little bit of both? I give this book 5/5 stars. Readers of YA fantasy, fairy tale inspired stories, and unexpected romances will fall in love with Girl, Serpent, Thorn.

gst

Order your copy of Girl, Serpent, Thorn here!

Book Review: Mexican Gothic

The future, she thought, could not be predicted, and the shape of things could not be divined. To think otherwise was absurd. But they were young that morning, and they could cling to hope. Hope that the world could be remade, kinder and sweeter.  — Mexican Gothic

Happy Halloween, friends!

What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a Gothic horror story? Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (978-0525620785) is a tale reminiscent of Emily Bronte and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, with a fantastical horrific twist.

Noemi Taboada is a highly social debutante in 1950 Mexico City. She is cast for the role of unlikely hero when her father sends her to the Mexican countryside to check on the well being and mental state of her cousin, Catalina, after he received a disturbing letter — a letter discussing poison, death, and ghosts.

Strong-willed Noemi arrives to Catalina’s new home, and finds that there is not much she can do for Catalina in the inhospitable house that is High Place, home of the Doyles. Catalina’s husband, Virgil, is, for lack of a better word, a bully, and refuses to seek psychiatric help for his ill wife who speaks of voices and ghosts. Virgil’s father, Howard, the family’s patriarch, finds Noemi beautiful, but inferior because of her race, and does not think highly of her opinion. Virgil’s cousin, Florence, is condescending and overbearing, and finds fault in all that Noemi does, declaring she is reckless. The only ally Noemi finds is through the meek and timid Frances, Virgil’s cousin — but he, too, has secrets.

But the unwelcoming atmosphere is not the most disturbing thing — at night, the house comes to life, invading Noemi’s subconscious and filling her head with awful visions and nightmares. Through a woman in town at the base of the mountain, Noemi learns violent and murderous secrets from the Doyles’ family history. And through her time at High Place, Noemi learns the why behind the madness. But Noemi also learns that one simply does not leave the Doyle family home.

Will Noemi be able to save her cousin and escape High Place?

Y’ALL. The last forty pages had me sitting on the edge of my seat glued to every word! There were some times in the first portion of the novel I felt the pacing was a bit slow, but the latter portion of the book really made up for it. In addition, I was very satisfied with the ending, something I honestly didn’t expect before starting the book.

The themes of family, loyalty, race, and feminism make this book an excellent book club read.

Overall, I give Mexican Gothic 4/5 stars. A wonderfully executed novel, I highly recommend this book to lovers of Gothic horror and exciting thrills. This is the perfect read for lovers of classic Gothic literature and spooky and creepy things.

Grab yourself a cup of Slyther and Sage tea, and tell me what are you reading in honor of Halloween? I would love to know — comment below!

IMG_20200806_071518_348

Order Mexican Gothic here!

Author Interview: Samantha Shaw

Happy Spooky season, friends! Last week, I shared my review of the delightfully scary short story “Gethen Manor.” This week, I am honored to share an interview with the author Samantha Shaw. Shaw is a resident of eastern Ohio, and has two jobs: one being an author and running a bookstagram and two being an accounts payable manager of a golf course. Shaw hopes to one day become a full time author (and with her gift, I fully believe she will make that a reality!).

Living every day like it is Halloween, Shaw loves October because now everyone is in the same boat. Shaw enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, watching YouTube with her husband, and riding roller coasters – she says she is obsessed with them! She told me, “I’m well-versed in [roller coaster] mechanics, stats, and history in general. If I didn’t want to be a full-time author, I’d pursue a career in the amusement industry.”

Read our full interview below to learn more about Shaw and her writing!

109297013_10220657092631230_4419799943092277662_o

Q) How long have you been writing?

A) I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been writing short stories, poetry, and song lyrics since I learned how to write full sentences. However, I started taking writing seriously when I signed up for a creative writing class in my sophomore year of high school. I began professionally writing in college.

Q) Why do you write?

A) I feel like I need to. My mind is always full of words and ideas that fascinate me, and I want to get them down on paper to see where they take me. Additionally, if I don’t get them out, they get compacted in my brain, and there are already too many thoughts up there. When I think about my life, I’m often reminded of the Paramore lyrics “Keep your feet on the ground while your head’s in the clouds.” I’m always drifting off into my own little world, and writing is the best way for me to stay grounded.

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

A) I’ll read anything that interests me, but my favorite to write and read is horror, thriller, supernatural, etc.

Q) What is your favorite book and why?

A) So, I have two. I can’t pick one over the other because I love them for very different reasons.

One is ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky. Not only do I love Charlie’s story, but I fully believe I am the person I am today because of this book. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in a very vulnerable time in my life. It helped me understand and grapple with my anxiety disorders as I grew up. Perks is SO important to me.

The other is ‘The Elementals’ by Michael McDowell. I could gush about this book for hours, but to keep things short, I think it’s the best horror novel I’ve ever read. It checks off all my boxes for the perfect haunted house story. If I achieve anything with my bookstagram, I hope I can help build the fan-base Mr. McDowell deserved in life.

Q) Who is your favorite author and why?

A) I absolutely cannot pick just one, so I’ll list a few: Edgar Allan Poe, Michael McDowell, Dawn Kurtagich, Stephen Chbosky, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Adam Vine… I’ll cut myself off here.

Q) What is your favorite horror movie?

A) The Shining. I know it’s a far stretch from King’s original work, but Kubrick’s vision is brilliant.

Midsommar has recently become a close second.

Q) Who is someone that inspires you?

A) I’d probably say Edgar Allan Poe. Reading “The Tell-Tale Heart” in 7th grade kicked my love of horror into gear. And made me even more of a weird kid, haha.

Q) What inspired “Gethen Manor? What was your purpose for writing the story?

A) The idea came to me after a bad bout of writer’s block. While I was working on a different piece of fiction, I had a dream about a Gothic mansion and a couple trying desperately to escape its horrors. I won’t include spoilers, but I also dreamt about the twist. I woke up and immediately wrote down everything I could remember. And I built the backstory and setting around the events of my dream.

In terms of media that influenced “Gethen Manor,” I’d say I drew inspiration from the film “Crimson Peak,” “The Elementals,” and just about every supernatural YA romance I’ve ever read.

Q) Can you tell us about your current WIP?

A) My current WIP is a novel I started writing 8 years ago. It’s a mystery thriller [releasing this winter].

“Micah Gray knows what it’s like to die.

For the past year, she’s grappled with her new, unexplainable gift: she can experience other people’s deaths. Any encounter with a dead body, even a picture of one, will send Micah into an all-encompassing hallucination, giving her a first-person perspective of the deceased’s last moments.

Luckily, she’s not alone. She’s found refuge in her childhood home of Sapphire Lake, living with her long-estranged grandmother that happens to have the same bizarre gift Micah does. With her grandmother’s guidance and wisdom, Micah is learning how to manage her life with her new power (and slowly accepting that she might not be completely crazy.)

But not all is peaceful in the small, lakeside town. A tourist’s body has washed ashore and only Micah knows that her death was not an accident. Someone, unidentifiable in the darkness of night, drowned her, and Micah, her grandmother, and Benjamin Root (Micah’s ex-boyfriend and the only cop in Sapphire Lake that might believe her), may be the only ones to catch the murderer.”

Sapphire Lake will be released this Winter.

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

A) I hope that I’ll continue to grow my skills as a writer, impress my readers, and eventually, dedicate even more of my life to writing.

Q) What advice do you have for other authors?

A) You’re going to get stuck at times. It’s inevitable. I had a delusion throughout college that if I could just get published, my writer’s block would just stop. I can assure you this is not the case. But don’t stop writing. Always look for inspiration. Write down any ideas you have, even if it’s only a few words. And please, don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get as much done as you wanted in the day/week/month. Even if you stumble or take a break, you’re still headed towards the finish line.

103430069_165084245015800_5933615431186545479_o

Get your copy of “Gethen Manor” today here, and be sure to follow Samantha Shaw on social media!

Instagram: https://instagram.com/sshawauthor 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Samantha-Shaw-Author-111599027030989/

Short Story Review: Gethen Manor by Samantha Shaw

Happy Spooky Season, friends! In honor of October, and all things spectacularly scary, I read the short story “Gethen Manor” by Samantha Shaw. “Gethen Manor” is a quick and delightfully horrific tale of a Halloween party gone wrong. I highly recommend this story to fans of horror, demons, and writing that keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat.

The story opens with a group of college students in an SUV. Aiden gets angry upon learning that his brother Ezra, the driver, is taking everyone to their home, Gethen Manor. Anna, who has a crush on Aiden, is unsure why Aiden is so upset. Despite Aiden’s protests, the group goes to the manor anyway. Upon arriving, the young adults begin playing Halloween music and drinking – celebrating and partying. However, a game of hide and seek will show that things are not what they seem. Who will die and who will survive?

Eek! Shaw’s descriptions allowed me to perfectly visualize what was happening. The story has great tension, and I love the background on Gethen Manor. At one point, I thought the story was going to be about vampires, but was pleasantly surprised with the demonic twist Shaw spins. However, there are questions left unanswered at the end of the story – I wish there had been a bit more.

Overall, I give this short story 4.5/5 stars. I think it is a great story for adults who want to get spooked, this season or any time of the year!

Order “Gethen Manor” on Amazon here.

gethenmanor

Author Interview: S. D. Simper

Last week, I wrote a 5 star review of the fantasy sapphic romance The Fate of Stars (Book one of the Sea and Stars Trilogy). This week, I had the privilege of interviewing the author S.D. Simper. Simper is a full time author residing in Arizona. In addition to writing, music is a big talent of hers. She can sing and play the piano. Fun fact: though Simper enjoys horrifying things and reading horror books she rarely watches horror movies — she says they spook her! To learn more about Simper and her writing, read our full interview below!

20200329_154600

 Q) How long have you been writing?

A) I started writing My First Fantasy Novel (TM) at about 12, because all my friends at school were writing books so I wanted to, also. But my mom always encouraged me when I was really little — like 3 or 4 — to tell her stories, and she would write down what I said.

Q) Why do you write?

A) Writing is both an obsession and therapeutic. I wrote Fallen Gods during one of the absolute worst years of my life because it was something for my mind to cling to that wasn’t reality.

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

A) I’ve always been a huge high fantasy reader, but I’ve also read a lot of classics (and consequentially have a lot of opinions on which classics are great and which are just terrible). As a kid, I’d read novelizations of video games — most notably Warcraft. I would say I enjoy writing high fantasy the most, but I absolutely live for the romantic bits.

Q) What is your favorite book and why?

A) My favorite book is Hannibal by Thomas Harris, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. The movie adaptation is terrible (which is sad because the movie adaptation of Silence of the Lambs is flawless), so if you’ve seen that, the book is infinitely better (also they straight up change the ending, which completely destroys the themes). Aside from my innate love of horror books, Hannibal was the first book I’d ever read that offered an ending that was uncomfortable, abhorrent, yet unquestionably, disconcertingly perfect. I loved it, even though I didn’t know if I was allowed to/supposed to love it. It change my entire worldview on storytelling. Years later, it influenced my approach to The Sting of Victory in all the best and worst ways.

Q) Which of your books is your favorite and why?

A) I think my favorite book is Among Gods and Monsters, which is the second book in the Fallen Gods series. I love the feeling of it. I love the themes. I love the final result after what was honestly a trash heap of a rough draft. The Sting of Victory ends in such a way that Among Gods and Monsters is a different style of book than its predecessor, and I was worried that people wouldn’t like it. Consequentially, I put my entire heart and soul into making certain it was an interesting, fun, and a worthy successor. People liked it BETTER, which I’m so relieved by. I stress about every book, but I think that one kept me up at night more than any other.

I’d like to juxtapose this with my least pleasant writing experience, which was Blood of the Moon. I’m actually incredibly happy with it. The issue was with me. The book is depressing, and I was depressed. It had set in after the Among Gods and Monsters high, and it was a struggle and a war to get anything done. You’ll note, a year passed before I published anything else (which isn’t normal for me and my writing speed) because I was so sick during and after. In many ways, Sea and Stars was a comeback. Now that I’ve had that boost, I can finish Fallen Gods 4 (which, while darker than any of its predecessors, isn’t as heavy. It’s nearly cute.).

Q) Who is your favorite author and why?

A) It’s difficult to say who my favorite author is. I will say the author who has been the most impactful is Sarah Diemer — when I read her probably most famous work, The Dark Wife, I told myself if I could ever write like her, I will have made it.

Q) What inspired The Sea and Stars Trilogy? What was your purpose for writing the series?

A) The framework of Sea and Stars came about from my wife and I story-ing at each other (we do that) about mermaids in the greater Fallen Gods-verse (since they take place in the same world, just 1000 years apart). That, combined with the purposeful subversion of the classic ‘mermaid saves royal from drowning’ trope (you’ll note how well that goes…), became The Fate of Stars. I started writing it back in the winter of 2018. It was only going to be a standalone novel, but I couldn’t for the life of me decide how to end it. I stewed on it for weeks before it occurred to me that I couldn’t end it because it wasn’t supposed to end yet. Thus, books 2 and 3 were born.

I often pull from real life legends and mythology to inspire my worlds, and while Solviran culture was already established because of Fallen Gods, I had the chance to delve more into the kingdom of Moratham, which had been a somewhat shadowy entity and hadn’t played a big part in Fallen Gods. It was an exercise in restraint in many ways — anyone who’s read The Fate of Stars knows that Morathan culture holds parallels to fundamentalist religions in our world, which I have a personal bone to pick with, but it’s my job as the author to give them depth and grace, nevertheless. But building on that, the repressive religion of my own youth became the backdrop for creating a god and a culture that would stand at odds to our protagonists.

I don’t know if I set out with a purpose, but many of the experiences reflected in the narrative are reminiscent of my own. All my stories have a personal meaning to me, but none so much as The Fate of Stars.

Q) What is your favorite story of mythology?

A) Literally every story in the Edda is filled with absolute edgelords. The gods don’t want to pay some dude building a wall around Asgard? Clearly the answer is to have Loki turn himself into a lady horse and lure the guy’s own giant horse away. Odin wants wisdom? He’s just gonna gouge out his eye and nail himself to the world tree. My favorite, though, is probably the time Thor loses his hammer to a giant, who will only return it in exchange for the Goddess Freya’s hand in marriage. The solution, of course, is for Loki to dress Thor as Freya (using a veil to cover his scruffy beard), have him marry the giant, and once his hammer is returned, kill everyone in the wedding party.

Q) Can you tell us about the Fallen Gods series?

A) The Fallen Gods series is my (very very) dark fantasy story about a witch named Flowridia who falls in love with a very evil woman named Ayla. The series holds several parallels to the classic Orpheus and Eurydice, aka journeying to hell to save the one you love, the trials therein, etc. The issue is that hell is metaphorical in this case — this is a villainous descent story. There’s a greater framework around it in the way high fantasy usually has (dragons and gods and monsters and kingdoms and necromancers, and and and …), but at its core it’s a dark and twisted love story.

As I mentioned before, it takes place in the same universe as Sea and Stars, but 1000 years has passed and the world is different, most notably the roles of the Goddesses of Solvira. There are some reoccurring characters, however — most notably General Khastra of Solvira. There’s also another daughter of Staella running around, who plays a significant part in the story.

Q) Can you tell us about your current WIP?

A) My next/current project is Fallen Gods 4, Tear the World Apart! I’m aiming to have it released in fall of this year. Anyone who’s read books 1-3 know that a couple pretty earth-shattering things occurred at the end of Blood of the Moon, and trust me when I say navigating the new world is a whole lot of horror-filled fun. I shouldn’t say much, but let me reassure anyone who’s been waiting for the return of a certain someone that you will not be disappointed.

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

A) I’m honestly amazed every day that people….care? My vision is to continue growing my fanbase and have a small community to escape the real world with.

Q) What advice do you have for other authors?

A) Keep practicing! Keep moving forward! Virtually no one is born with a talent for spinning words together, but pretty much anyone can develop it. Learn how to accept criticism. Befriend other writers of your skill level and do beta reading swaps. If you find an effective beta reader, love and cherish them. They’re hard to come by.

Also! Literally no matter what you do, what you write, how much of your heart and soul you put into it, someone will hate it. This is unavoidable. I would recommend digesting this well in advance. Someone will hate your story. Stories are art, and art is subjective. The key to mitigating this kind of psychological/emotional damage is marketing. Know who your audience actually is. Learn how to speak to them. If your book is good, it will find readers. But you can avoid a lot of needless bad reviews by being upfront with the content and metaphorically yelling in the right directions. This is a vital skill to develop, if only for the reason listed above, and I cringe any time I see people whining about it.

Q) What advice do you have for readers struggling with their sexual identity?

A) Be safe, be smart, and accept that figuring out who you are is instant for some and takes time for others. Art and literature is a great way to explore who you are in a safe environment, whether by creating or consuming. Being gay isn’t a sin, but being an asshole is. Focus on being a good and authentic person.

Q) What advice do you have for readers who have accepted their sexual identity but are struggling with sharing that part of themselves with their friends and family?

A) This may be unconventional wisdom, but hear me out: be willing to play the long game in regards to coming out. This advice is more for people (especially underaged people) who come from families who may not accept them, like I did. Are your parents/family/community going to completely ostracize you if you come out? Then wait until you’re not living at home. Wait until you’re financially stable. This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you know in your heart that you’ll be on the streets if your mom or dad finds out about your secret girlfriend — I’m giving you permission to not tell them. The person with the most power in any kind of relationship is the one most willing to walk away, so set yourself up so you don’t need them. Being out and proud is the goal, but don’t get swept up in the idea that you need to be out now if it will ruin your life. My now-wife waited until we’d been dating for three years and lived in Alaska before coming out to her family, and it forced any of the bigoted members of her family to still treat her with respect because they had NO power over her. I wish I’d waited longer to be out, because I told a small circle but ended up outed to the rest well before I was emotionally ready to handle it. It had serious consequences, many of which I’m still grappling with. I’ve had to set some pretty hard boundaries against some of my extended family members in order to protect myself, my wife, and my happiness.

 

Follow S. D. Simper on social media to stay up to date with her and her writing!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sdsimper

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sdsimper/

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

 

Order the Sea and Stars Trilogy today!Fate edit color_final_small

The Fate of Stars

Heart of Silver Flame

Death’s Abyss

 

The Sting of Victory_newcover_small versionOrder the Fallen Gods series today!

The Sting of Victory

Among Gods and Monsters

Blood of the Moon

Book Review: Fate of Stars by S. D. Simper

“It was an old adage, that some people were fated to meet, to teach each other a lesson they so desperately needed, perhaps to save their lives.” – S. D. Simper

The Fate of Stars by S. D. Simper (ISBN: 978-1952349089) is a beautiful fantasy romance, with an intriguing enemies to lovers trope. The writing and world-building is beautiful, and the descriptions allow the reader to visualize the story. I highly recommend this book to adult fiction readers who are fans of fantastical elements, sword-wielding princesses, sassy mermaids, and a well-done love story.

Tallora is a priestess in training who breaks the ocean’s surface during a storm to pray to Goddess Staella. However, Tallora is not alone this stormy night. She watches as a young woman falls from a ship into the sea. Tallora attempts to help the woman, but her kindness gets her stolen from her ocean home.

Princess Dauriel, Tallora’s captor, is cold and mocking, but her mother, Empress Vahla, is even worse. Tallora tries to escape, but her fin proves detrimental to her plan. So, Tallora prays to her beloved Goddess Staella, who sends her something to assist her. Tallora escapes her watery prison, only to remain prisoner of the country of Solvira. But tenuous feelings between Tallora and Dauriel threaten to blossom into something more – something that could endanger Tallora and Dauriel’s kingdom.

Can one truly learn to forgive? And can the other learn to love and accept love in return?

Simper creates dynamic three-dimensional characters, and she does an excellent job in building reader sympathy for characters, even characters you dislike in the beginning. The story almost reminds me of Beauty and the Beast, minus the Stockholm Syndrome. Simper does a wonderful job exploring the power imbalance in the blossoming romance, and she has the characters explore this themselves – something that shows there is no manipulation within the budding relationship.

Simper’s love story reminds me of Audrey Coulthurst’s Of Fire and Stars, and as I loved it in the YA fantasy, I love that Simper shows two people actively falling in love. The entire romance was enthralling, and I desperately want to read more of Tallora and Dauriel – enemies to lovers may just be my new favorite trope. I’m greatly looking forward to reading the next two installments of the Sea and Stars trilogy, Heart of Silver Flame and Death’s Abyss.

Overall, I give this book 5/5 stars. The fantasy world has magical and political intrigue, and the romance is wonderfully written. If you are looking for a wonderful fantasy romance then The Fate of Stars is for you!

Order The Fate of Stars here!

Order Heart of Silver Flame here!

Order Death’s Abyss here!

thefateofstars

Trigger Warnings: Sex and references to suicide.

Author Interview: Rosalyn Briar

Last week, I shared my 5 star review of the dark fantasy The Crown of Bones. This week I had the privilege to interview the author Rosalyn Briar. In addition to being a gifted writer, Briar is a stay-at-home mom. Living in Illinois, Briar enjoys reading, swimming, and spending time with her family. Fun fact: Briar used to teach Latin and social studies. Read our full interview below to learn more about Briar and her writing!

TCOB_Photo

Q) How long have you been writing?
A) About 2 1/2 years.
Q) Why do you write?
A) It is a wonderful creative outlet for me.
Q) What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
A) I love reading dark fantasy, mystery, and thrillers. I prefer to write dark fantasy that borders on horror.
Q) What is your favorite book and why?
A) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. It sparked a lifelong love of all things whimsical and creepy.
Q) Who is your favorite author and why?
A) I will read anything by Gillian Flynn. I love thrillers and her twists, and turns are amazing.
Q) What inspired The Crown of Bones? What was your purpose for writing the book?
A) I’ve always been a fan of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales and, for a long time, I had been thinking of a way to incorporate them into a dark fantasy horror. Then one day, my husband’s Oma was telling me about how, in her old hometown in Germany, they not only posted obituaries in the paper, but sent out death notices to those who knew the deceased. I thought about how creepy it would be to receive death notices before someone died. That sparked the idea for the Black Letter in the story and it all fell into place from there.
Q) Did anyone or anything influence the romance between Gisela and Brahm?
A) I wanted their romance to be sweet and “friends-to-lovers.” Some of Brahm’s personality was definitely inspired by my husband’s flirtatious nature.
Q) What was your favorite fairy tale to weave into your book and why?
A) I really loved weaving in the story of Iron Heinrich, which is more popularly known as The Frog Prince — but most people completely leave out the main character of that story and focus only on the prince. I wanted to give Heinrich his due and make him a character in my story.
Q) I’m so excited that there is going to be a sequel! Can you tell us about it?
A) The Bone Needle will be a dual-POV novel split between Brahm and Gisela. Brahm, Bergot, and a team of brave helpers must find a way to defeat Hexegot from the outside without harming Gisela. All the while, Gisela’s consciousness weaves between the Otherworld and Hexegot’s own mind — a sick and twisted place. Can she escape the darkness and still be the Gisela we know and love when she wakes?
Q) Can you tell us about your hope and vision for your writing?
A) I hope to find readers who enjoy dark fantasy and all things whimsically creepy. I want to inspire others to become writers as well.
Q) What are some of your writing goals?
A) My near-future goals are to publish the audiobook of The Crown of Bones and to publish my second novel this fall. A Sea of Pearls & Leaves is a gothic retelling of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale “The Three Snake-Leaves” about an eccentric princess who wishes to avoid marriage. I then hope to complete and publish The Bone Needle next spring.
Q) What advice do you have for other authors?
A) Read as much as you can and never give up! For more specific advice, I would say to seek feedback from beta readers for your writing so you can improve.
crownofbones
Remember to order your copy of The Crown of Bones here, and be sure to follow Rosalyn Briar on social media to stay up to date with her and her writing!

Book Review: The Crown of Bones by Rosalyn Briar

The Crown of Bones by Rosalyn Briar (ISBN: 978-1655164422) is an incredible piece of adult fiction that combines “The Lottery” and Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Adult readers who enjoy dark fantasy, a splash of horror, and an exceptional romance trope, will fall in love with The Crown of Bones.

The main character, Gisela, is a fiery and stubborn young woman. While leaving the market one day, she is accosted by the wealthy Albert, nephew of the High Priest. Albert has been pursuing Gisela for months to be his wife, but Gisela continues to refuse his advances. Things turn ugly in the alley leaving the market, and Gisela’s former love interest, Brahm, intervenes. Albert tells Gisela and Brahm that they will regret their actions, but no one guessed exactly what he would do.

The next day, Gisela receives her Black Letter – a letter identifying her as one of eight chosen to be an Offering to the goddess Bergot. The beautifully heartbreaking scene of Gisela saying goodbye to her family, especially her younger sister Thora, brought tears to my eyes – Briar is talented like that.

Gisela and the other Offerings are released into an ashen forest in which they must find the Crown of Bergot. However, every step they take they are faced with trials and tribulations, that are eerie echoes of the fairy tales Gisela once read. Can the Offerings outrun death? Can Gisela survive in order to return to take care of her family?

Briar does an excellent job creating tension within every page of her writing, and she provides a few twists that I didn’t see coming. The romance trope is tantalizing and keeps you engrossed in every word. The fantasy world is excellently crafted, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the ending. It ends with a cliffhanger, and I’m not a fan of cliffhangers. . . BUT there is a sequel in the works!

Even with feelings of frustration and disappointment with not having closure in the end, I still have to give this book 5 stars. Why? Because the world building is phenomenal, the characters have depth, the romance trope is well-done, and the overall writing is wonderful! This book is delightfully creepy, and I enjoyed the e-version so much I do plan on ordering myself the paperback!

I will say this book is for ADULTS, and contains violence, cursing, and sexual situations. If any of these make you uncomfortable, this book may not be for you. HOWEVER, if these are not triggers for you, and you enjoy dark fantasy, this book is for you!

Link to purchase on Amazon. 

crownofbones

Book Review: Able Soul: Empowering God’s Spirit Within by Lucy Goncalves

A few weeks ago I was the lucky winner of a giveaway on Instagram where I received a copy of Able Soul: Empowering God’s Spirit Within (ISBN: 978-1-9990326-1-6) by Lucy Goncalves. Goncalves shares her personal testimony of how trusting God has lead to opportunities that otherwise would have been impossible. Living with Cerebal Palsey (CP), Goncalves has struggled not only with a physical disability, but of being pre-judged by others, and often feeling like she had no voice. Yet, through listening to God’s guidance, Goncalves has created an uplifting and encouraging book that will aid readers no matter what season of life they are in. Praise be to God for Goncalves and her testimony – this book has truly been a blessing in my life.

The book contains twenty-one anecdotal stories complete with a spiritual lesson, inspirational Bible verses, and a prayer. “Prayer is the Breath of Life for Our Souls,” spoke to me right at the beginning of me delving into the book. Goncalves writes, “Prayer is essential to our well-being and to the goodness of God that we need to access in order to serve humanity.” In a later story, “Hunger to Serve,” Goncalves explains how serving, loving, and supporting others allows us one to become a vessel of the Holy Spirit. I loved Goncalves lessons, and I took time to reflect on my own acts of service. I want to do more in my daily life to serve and empower others.

Reading through the stories, I was inspired by Goncalves’ positive attitude and her relationship with God. She has overcome so much (aside from her physical disability), and her words encouraged me to reflect on my own personal relationship with God. In addition to wanting to do more acts of service in my daily life, I want to take more time to pray and ensure I watch my weekly church sermons (my congregation is still not meeting face-to-face because of COVID-19). I also want to be more positive, more forgiving, and more open to acknowledging God’s blessings in my life.

Overall, Able Soul encourages one to grow their relationship with God, and teaches the reader that with God all things are possible. I rate this book 5/5 stars, and I recommend everyone, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey with Christ, to pick up this book today!

Order here from Amazon.

20200712_083526

“Go ahead and make all the plans you want, but it’s the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps. . .Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. Then every plan you make will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:1-3 (TPT)