Book Love, Book Reviews, national novel writing month, writers life, writing

November Reading Round-Up: Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, and Middle Grade

Hi everyone! We’re leaning towards December. Hard to believe that November flew on by so quickly. How was your month? For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo, how’d it go? I managed 30,000 words. I have half a mind to try and reach 50,000, but that would mean two 10K days and I’m not sure I have it in me 😉 We’ll see.

November Reading Round-Up

Anyways, I thought I would share what I’ve read this month.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

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I started this series in 2012. Wow. I was so excited to dive into this final book. With how Empire of Storms ended, I started reading with nervousness and dread.

I’m not going to share too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read. I’ll just say that I thought it was a satisfying ending with a few threads left unfinished. I wonder if Sarah would ever return to this world? 🙂

Two Thousand Years by M. Dalto

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This story, guys! MB was one of my mentors during #WriteMentor from May-August 2018. She’s funny, clever, and kind. I’m grateful she shared her expertise and insight with me. I brought THE LOST SAGES to another level, with MB’s and Amber’s help.

When I received an ARC from Parliament House Press, I got so excited :). This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, and it did not disappoint one bit! MB won a Wattpad’s Watty Award in 2016 for this novel 🙂

Check out this summary from Goodreads:

“Two thousand years ago, the Prophecy of Fire and Light foretold the coming of the Queen Empress who would lead the Empire into a time of peace and tranquility. But instead of the coming of a prosperous world, a forbidden love for the Empress waged a war that ravaged the land, creating a chasm between the factions, raising the death toll of innocent lives until the final, bloody battle.

Centuries later, Alexandra, a twenty-two-year-old barista living in Boston, is taken to an unfamiliar realm of mystery and magic where her life is threatened by Reylor, its banished Lord Steward. She crosses paths with Treyan, the arrogant and seductive Crown Prince of the Empire, and together they discover how their lives, and their love, are so intricately intertwined by a Prophecy set in motion so many years ago.

Alex, now the predestined Queen Empress Alexstrayna, whose arrival was foretold by the Annals of the Empire, controls the fate of her new home as war rages between the Crown Prince and Lord Steward. Either choice could tear her world apart as she attempts to keep the Empire’s torrid history from repeating itself. In a realm where betrayal and revenge will be as crucial to her survival as love and honor, Alex must discover whether it is her choice – or her fate – that determines how she survives the Empire’s rising conflicts.”

I love Alex so much. She is someone I would want to be friends with. Treyan and Reylor, eep ❤ My loves. Alex goes through so much in this story. I’m continually impressed with her and how she faces many challenges. She’s relatable and compassionate. I love her strength so much.

Treyan is swoony and romantic. I love him. Reylor is such an interesting and complicated character. Some wild things happen in this novel but my heart still goes out to him. I’m so excited because next year, MB is releasing two novellas from Reylor and Treyan’s perspective.

If you enjoy romance, fantasy, and real relationships, you’ll devour this. It releases on December 11th, 2018. Pre-order it here!

Clouded Envy by Candace Robinson

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I’ve read two of Candace’s previous books: Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault and The Glass Bride. I knew a bit about her writing style. She has a fresh and unique voice that you don’t forget 🙂 I met Candace through #WriteMentor, and am so glad we’re friends.

This book blew me away. It’s so different from anything I’ve read before. The characters are quirky and three-dimensional. I loved Bray so much. I wish I had a friend like her ❤ She is so sweet, funny, and completely herself. My heart went out to Brenik.

If you enjoy stories about fairies, magic, heartbreak, and family, you’ll love this. Pre-order it here 🙂

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling)

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Okay, so I grew up on mysteries. I LOVE mysteries so much. It doesn’t hurt that one of the main character’s is a slightly broody, kind, and intelligent British detective. Strike ❤ Also, the other lead, Robin, is such a fantastic character. I love everything about her. She is clever, insecure at times, suffers from PTSD, and a darn good detective.

This novel is a biggie. I think it’s over 600 pages. The mystery was multi-layered and had me guessing throughout. When I read the dialogue and setting, I felt homesick for England. I spent five months in Nottingham and absolutely fell in love with the country. Someday I will go back 🙂

This is the fourth in the series, so start with The Cuckoo’s Calling 🙂 You won’t be disappointed.

Moonlight and Whiskey by Tricia Lynne

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I’m part of a romance writing group on Facebook called “All the Kissing“. I’ve met some wonderful fellow writers there. One of the ladies who started this group is Tricia. I remember when she first posted her Publisher’s Marketplace photo of her book deal. I was so excited to see her novel on NetGalley, so I requested it immediately.

This is a hot romance novel. I loved Declan and Avery’s story. Avery is clever, sparky, and fun-loving. She and her friend Kat go on a trip to New Orleans, and she literally bumps into Declan 😀

I enjoyed watching their relationship develop throughout the novel. Tricia captured the magic of New Orleans in her descriptions without over-describing. I loved their journey so much ❤ Thanks NetGalley and Tricia for the amazing ARC <3. Pre-order here if you’re interested.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

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I picked up this novel at a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to give it a read and see if this might be a story I could use in some of my tutoring sessions with my students.

Last Sunday, I sat down and started reading this novel, not sure what to expect. Well, a few hours later, I finished it 🙂

It’s such a remarkable story of light and darkness, friendship and honor, romance and loss.

We follow Despereaux Tilling, a cute mouse who loves stories, music, and a princess named Pea. We also follow a rat, Roscuro, who lives in the dank basement, in darkness. He wishes to live in a world of light. Then there is Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who grew up in horrible conditions.

It is a lovely story, and I recommend it to everyone 🙂

After by Anna Todd

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I was on Instagram earlier this week and saw a trailer for a movie called After. I vaguely remembered seeing this book a few years ago. I googled it and found out it was a romance story on Wattpad about Harry Styles and a young woman, Tessa.

It’s had a billion views online, so I decided to try it. I must say, I flew through it. Anna Todd has a way of balancing the right amount of conflict, drama, and romance. I tore through the pages, wondering what would happen to Hardin and Tessa.

The ending was quite upsetting, I must say. I’m not sure I’ll continue on, but I can see the appeal. Have you read this before? What do you think? I’d love to hear below.

Currently Reading

WinterDream is a Nutcracker retelling written by the lovely Chantal Gadoury. I posted an interview with her, and you can read it here.

Five Poisoned Apples is a magical anthology releasing from Rooglewood Press. There are five unique Snow White fairytale retellings in this book. Anne Elisabeth Stengl graciously sent me an ARC to review. It releases on December 1st. You can pre-order here, if interested 🙂

Wintersong is a magical and dark fairytale about the Goblin King and a young girl by S. Jae-Jones. I’ve just started, but I’m enjoying it so far ❤

Well, there you have it, my friends. That’s my monthly round-up of the books I read this month. It was a great reading month. I think this is because we’ve had three massive snowstorms, haha.

What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Until next time,

Loie xo

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Author Interview, Book Love, national novel writing month, writers life, writing

25 Days of WinterDream: Interview with Author Chantal Gadoury

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About the Book

This Christmas Eve… no creature was stirring…
Except, maybe, a mouse.
At long last, can true love break the Nutcracker’s curse?

For Clara Stahlbaum, this Christmas means the end of her youth. A daughter of the aristocracy, Clara is expected to give up her dreams of adventures and the extraordinary for more normal days as the wife of a cruel Viscount.

But when magical Uncle Drosselmeyer returns with his wondrous, dancing contraptions, and one…special gift for Clara, she is beckoned to the land of Winter Dream, where she is thrust into the greatest adventure of her wildest dreams. But will she be able to break the Nutcracker’s curse?

Uncle Drosselmeyer’s apprentice, Anton, is handsome as he is mysterious. But what is it about him Clara finds so alluring?

Winter Dream is a phenomenal retelling of The Nutcracker from the eyes of Clara Stahlbaum with all the magic of the Holiday season. If you loved S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong, you’ll fall in love with this stunning tale of love, war, redemption, and Christmas magic.

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Author Interview

I would like to welcome the lovely author, Chantal Gadoury, to the blog today. Chantal is Senior Editor at The Parliament House Press. This is an amazing publishing house releasing some of my favorite books this year: Dream Keeper by Amber R. Duell, Two Thousand Years by M. Dalto, Clouded Envy by Candace Robinson, and Blinding Night by Chantal Gadoury 😊

Check them out if you love fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, and more wonderful tales!

Today, we are celebrating and counting down the days until Chantal’s Nutcracker retelling, WinterDream, releases. Isn’t that cover gorgeous?!

Loie: Without further ado, welcome Chantal!

I love this time of year and am SO excited to read WinterDream. This is the perfect read for me. I know I’ll cozy up with a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate ❤

Can you please share the initial inspiration behind WinterDream? What led you to write a Nutcracker retelling?

Chantal: Loie, first – thanks for having me on your blog today! I can’t help but agree with you whole-heartily about cozying up with a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate. That sounds so perfect.  As to answer your question, Christmas actually inspired my Nutcracker tale. I grew up going to the Nutcracker ballet with my mom, and the story has always been this magical love story that I’ve treasured for years. It was right around the beginning of the holidays last year that I had just finished writing “Between the Sea and Stars,” and I was pondering the question of “What else do I write?” And with a Christmas tree in front of me, it suddenly made sense to write my own version of the story I had grown up with – and loved so much!

Loie: Love it! That’s such a special inspiration ❤ When did you start writing this story and how long did it take to revise?

Chantal: I started writing this mid-November, early December of 2017, and I finished around February of 2018. I really pushed myself to get through the story while it was still winter, and cold (and while I still had an excuse to listen to Christmas music – and the Nutcracker score.) It sat for a while until Parliament took it, and it’s been in the revising process since August! It’s been happening fairly quickly, but I’m definitely excited to share this tale with everyone!

Loie: Awesome! Yes, perfect excuse to listen to Christmas tunes 😉 Did you come across any interesting tidbits of history about the Nutcracker story during your research?

Chantal: Not necessarily history – but cultural differences. So when I began to write the Nutcracker, I had to choose between setting this in Germany or in Russia. While the tale of the Nutcracker is a German tale, we all associate it with Russia because it originally premiered in St. Petersburg back in December 1892. As I researched the way Russia celebrates Christmas, it was vastly different to the way America and/or Germany celebrates the holiday. But for the sake of the tale, and the origins, I chose to go with Russia and tried to adapt around the cultural differences. It’s definitely worth looking up and seeing how we all celebrate the holidays differently around the world!  

Loie: Ooooo, how lovely! I’m going to go and look that up. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Are there any fairy tales you would love to retell in the future?

Chantal: Oh yes! I’d love to retell “Swan Lake” someday – and with a twist! I’m working on retelling the story of “Hansel and Gretel” with a very talented writer, Amanda Wright! I have a few other stories I’d like to tell, but we’ll see where my writing takes me! I still have to revisit Lena and Soren in the sequel to “Between the Sea and Stars,” and return to the Underworld with Darce and Summer in a sequel to “Blinding Night.”

Loie: Oooo Swan Lake 🙂 ! Can’t wait! Can you share a little bit about what 2019 holds in store for you?

Chantal: To be honest, a break! I’m not going to push myself the way I have the past two years. In two years I’ve published six novels! As I mentioned, I need to revisit two worlds that I’ve already established. I’d like to focus on Amanda and I’s retelling of “Hansel and Gretel.” But I plan to take 2019 pretty easy.

Loie: A break sounds perfect. You’ve done a lot in the past two years, wow. What is your favorite thing about the winter season?

Chantal: Christmas trees, lights, and music. Those are the three things that make the holiday the most magical for me. There’s nothing like setting up a beautiful tree, decorating it with beautiful lights (and seeing homes decorated) and blasting Christmas music! (And singing along!)

Loie: Mmmm, same ❤ Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month 😊?

Chantal: Not this year. After writing three novels just within this year, I’m focusing on “WinterDream” and allowing my creative juices to build up again. But I wish everyone luck as they write this year for NaNoWriMo!

Loie: Thank you so much, Chantal, for stopping by the blog! I love your books so much and cannot wait to read WinterDream.

Chantal: Thank you so much Loie! I really appreciate you welcoming me here today! “WinterDream” waltzes onto shelves November 27th! And you can all sorts of information about my books at www.chantalgadoury.com

Book Teaser Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMRGyNtnhZI

You can Pre-Order on Amazon and the Parliament House Publishing Website

About the Author:

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Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” and “The Songs We Remember,” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh,” “Between the Sea and Stars,” and “Blinding Night” with Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-’brother’ Taran.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Between the Sea and the Stars

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Forthcoming: June 19th, 2018

Parliament House Publishing

Book 1

Goodreads

A Legend, 
A Magical Shell 
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More… 

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea. 

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land. 

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner. 

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

General Gushing

This book is magical. I devoured it in a few days because I couldn’t stop reading 🙂 Chantal is a fantastic storyteller and I felt completely immersed in Lena’s world.

As many of you know, I am revising a seafaring fantasy at the moment. I love EVERYTHING about the sea and I was so excited to get to read this ARC from Parliament House Publishing. Thank you so much, Parliament 🙂 All the lush details of the sea world were beautifully done. I loved the time we spent underwater with Lena and her family ❤

On land, I felt for Lena as she navigated the new experience of living above water. Lena is a character I happily rooted for. She’s sweet and sparky at the same time, unafraid to share her opinion.

I eagerly flipped the pages, wondering what was going to happen next.

Moments I loved

Lena helps an older blind gentleman on land, named Edwin. Together, they share stories and they develop a sweet relationship. Lena is so kind and patient with him. He sends her to retrieve new books for him that are written in Braille. This is where she meets Soren Emil, who is a bookkeeper ❤ Soren is probably my other favorite character, alongside Lena.

Lena says this to one of her new friends, Jace, in Chapter 17: “But greatness and goodness are two different things.” This is so true. I love how wise Lena is.

The Little Mermaid 

This story definitely nods to The Little Mermaid. I love all the references peppered throughout the prose. It is a unique retelling and I am eager for the sequel. Can’t wait to read more books by Chantal 🙂

Find Out About Other Books by Chantal Gadoury 

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About the Author

Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.

Purchase Links

Between the Sea and Stars

Amazon

Goodreads

Allerleirauh

Amazon

Parliament House Press

Thank you again to Parliament House Press for sending me this Advanced Readers Copy.  What are you all reading at the moment? I would love to hear below.

Until next time,

Loie xo