Book Review: Toothbreaker by M. H. Elrich

I recently won a giveaway on Instagram in which I got a free e-book copy of M. H. Elrich’s novella Toothbreaker and some BEAUTIFUL character cards by the talented Madeline Hanlon.IMG_20210207_075709_018

After reading Etania’s Worth (see my review here), I was so excited to read Toothbreaker. Upon reading the novella, I am even more in love with the world of Tamnarae, and I desperately await Elrich’s next addition to her fantasy world.

Toothbreaker follows the Eritam or people with the Neuma (divine gift) of taming wolves. The novella opens with an injured stranger awakening the pack healer Tamar Prevost for assistance with a grizzly wound. But upon closer examination, Tamar realizes that the silver-haired man is no stranger, but rather her ex-lover, Sage, who had left years ago to join the King’s Praytor. Tamar is wary of Sage and rightfully so – he is an escaped toothbreaker her brother is hunting. As a toothbreaker, Sage pledged his allegiance to Malstorm in exchange for greater power than his Neuma – and he committed heinous acts. However, Sage encountered a Vexli who stripped him of his Skazic abilities. Now that he has returned home, can Sage overcome his past and find new purpose in his life? Or will he return to Malstorm and evil ways?

Elrich’s message of God’s forgiveness and boundless grace is woven beautifully within this fantasy tale. Through Sage, we are reminded that no matter how far we stray from the herd, our shepherd will always be there to guide us home.

In addition to a clear Christian message, the novella is packed with intriguing conflict and tension, and the reader eagerly turns each page to see what will happen next. Elrich makes it easy to sympathize and connect with the characters and their struggles. And I love how the timeline lines up with the plot of Etania’s Worth. It provides a new depth to the world.

Overall, I give this novella 5/5 stars. It is fast-paced, and left me wanting more of Tamnarae. I cannot wait to read more of Etania Selali, the Changed, Sage, and Tamar. Be sure to add Toothbreaker and Etania’s Worth to your TBR today!

Sidenote: Originally, I believed I would be a Draconian, but now I know I would be an Eritam. Now, when do I get to tame my own wolf?

Order Toothbreaker here!

Order Etania’s Worth here!

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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: 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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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)

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.