I love the Fantasy genre. I love the escape from the daily doldrums (and my own mind) that fantasy provides and if you ask me there just isn’t enough magic in the world.
I recently read C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King, a fantasy romance, where we have warring kingdoms, magic, and objects of great power with relatable characters who leap off the page. I don’t usually read romance but I do feel sad if that element is missing as a secondary storyline in the books I read, so this book hit all my criteria!
One thing that this book does particularly well is the relationship between the main characters. Oftentimes, authors will add a healthy dose of red flags where maybe consent is an issue or the relationship is generally unhealthy or abusive in some ways. While that may reflect closer to reality, this book really does a nice job of avoiding those tropes.
Now I’m not saying I don’t like reading books with those or similar tropes because I totally do. People close to me will have heard me say more than once, that I am rather dark and twisty on the inside. Fiction allows us to experience things and explore concepts in a safe way, so bring on the morally grey, sometimes downright dark and twisty. But if that’s not your thing, or you’d like a change of pace, you should read this first book in the Weathermages of Mystral series!
C.L. Wilson’s worldbuilding is excellent as well. With a rich history and well-thought-out magic system, this book is incredibly well rounded so don’t let the romance side deter you from reading it. I would argue that others like myself, who read fantasy for the fantasy aspect, would still thoroughly enjoy The Winter King.
I will definitely be continuing the series. Why don’t you join me? 😉
I received a free copy of this book from BookSirens.com. I anxiously awaited this third book in the Innisfail Cycle series. Having read the first two more than a year ago, it took me a bit to get re-acquainted with the world, characters, and story but very quickly I was able to fall back in step. I have always been drawn to Celtic Mythology and I love the richness of Celtic history, both of which are weaved into this story wonderfully. Another interesting and well-developed aspect of these books is the post-apocalyptic setting. Innisfail appears at first to be living in the past but as the story goes on it becomes clear that this world has reverted to the old ways of the world after some sort of collapse of humanity. The High King, a High Sidhe, rules from a distance and some of the human nobility seek to rule themselves, embroiling the continent in various conflicts, not only with their Fae overlords but with each other. The story has an excellent premise. My only complaint is that I feel the characters felt a bit flat in this third book. I wanted to continue to learn about them and I wanted to see more growth or have a deeper connection with them. Also, this author does something called “head-hopping”, which I don’t have an issue with but I know many readers do. Essentially, it’s when the story comes from multiple characters’ points of view without a clear distinction of which character we are now seeing the world through. Overall, I love this story and the characters are near and dear to my heart. I give this book 5-stars because I am willing to ignore some of the more technical stuff and enjoy the story. I hope you enjoy it too.
My discovery of this brilliant author and her book occurred in a rather serendipitous way. Unbeknownst to me, I had been following the author on TikTok because I loved hearing her talk about folklore, a subject that interests me immensely. I happened to be flitting through TikTok one day and came across her live TikTok discussing her book series and giving the world the amazing news that her previously self-published fantasy series had been snatched up (now that I’ve devoured the first book, I completely understand why) by a publishing house, and it would be re-launched by them. She mentioned there was a brief window left to purchase her original self-published edition before it was delisted and re-released so I hopped on Amazon and grabbed a copy. I adored this book. I love fantasy. I love the escape it gives me from this planet I have to live on, so I have read a TON of books in this genre, and this one is among the best I’ve ever read. I am a sucker for lyrical prose and vivid imagery. I know there are a lot of readers who like a fast plot and relatable characters, and so do I, and this book has an excellent plot and deliciously complex characters, but it also has those passages of words that move you in such a way that you pause and look off in the distance as you savor them. This book has all the right elements that take a good story and make it great. With threads of overcoming adversity, facing your own demons and battling real ones, vengeance, spicy sexy stuff, being comfortable in your own skin, loving whoever you want in spite of all else…Ahhh! I just can’t say enough good things! It will be a mistake not to read this if you love fantasy. Mark my words, I foresee Piper CJ being ranked among the other incredible women who write in this genre and I can’t get my hands on the next book fast enough!
I recently wrote this short story for one of the many writing contests I like to enter. It allowed me to place 10th in my group. The genre is Romantic Comedy and to be honest I was super worried that I wouldn’t be able to write something for that genre.
You see, as my husband once said, I don’t really have a “typical” sense of humor so the comedy part seemed like too big of a challenge but after some words of encouragement, I went for it.
In addition to following the Rom-Com genre, I had to include an alarm clock and a hot air balloon. Without further ado, may I present “Lucky Day” by Alicia Doyle ( aka Moi):
Lyla yanked the alarm clock from the wall. Today would be the very last day she would be startled awake.
“You’ve screamed your last, little demon box. Today you die.”
After years of working at Hunt and Astor Consulting, Lyla was one of their best specialists, and she had saved every extra cent toward opening her own firm. Today was her last day at the office and the beginning of her new life.
She took the same route she always did to work that morning, but the traffic was thicker than molasses. Her favorite coffee shop was no less packed. Lyla gaped at the line-up and glanced at her watch. She still had enough time to arrive on time at the office.
A group of men sat around the table in the corner tittering and pointing at patrons and not quietly. Lyla ignored them as she waited in the seemingly endless line. She wouldn’t wait in line for coffee anymore after today. She would miss her favorite barista but made a mental note to come at least once a week for coffee once she opened her own firm.
“Excuse me,” a warm baritone voice said behind her, “ You look familiar. What’s your name?”
Lyla turned to see one of the men from the corner table standing behind her, a nervous grin on his face. She glanced to the table where the others sat, eyes glued on their friend.
“You don’t know me,” Lyla said turning around again to ignore them.
“Please,” he said, “ just tell me your name.”
“Lyla,” she replied flatly.
The man took a deep breath and spoke in a loud voice.
“Lyla, Lyla, What can I buy ya? You have such a beautiful face. I have lots of cash, so I just had to ask, I will buy anything in this place,” his face reddened slightly, and she could feel the heat start to creep into her own cheeks.
“I’m good thanks,” She said dismissively, “You can go back and laugh with your friends now.”
He ran his fingers through his auburn hair, “I’m really sorry. I lost a bet and this is the third coffee shop I’ve been to this morning,” gesturing to his friends now keeling over with laughter, “ They pick the person and I have to make up a stupid poem and say it loud enough for them to hear it.”
“You need new friends,” Lyla grinned at him.
The man shrugged and smiled sheepishly, “My name is Todd and for what it’s worth, you do look very nice today.”
She shook his outstretched hand, “ Thanks, Todd. I hope your day gets better.”
She watched him walk back to his friends before turning to grab her coffee.
“Why is it so busy in here today?” Lyla asked.
“The Hot Air Balloon Festival is today,” the barista replied.
Lyla glanced at her watch to check the date.
She was late.
Fortunately, her last day was otherwise uneventful, and her trip to the coffee shop gave her the perfect idea for the alarm clock.
As she was packing up her last few belongings from her desk, Tracey, the secretary leaned over and picked up the alarm clock from her desk.
“Why do you have this here?” She asked.
“I am going to throw it out of a hot air balloon,” Lyla replied.
“Wow. Okay,” Tracey laughed, “Overkill don’t you think?”
“Maybe,” Lyla admitted, “ But I had a weird morning and I’ve always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon so… two birds, one stone.”
Lyla’s office was three blocks from the park, so she decided to walk there to avoid traffic. She chose the large orange and blue hot air balloon. Ten dollars for a 30-minute ride was worth every moment.
She could see for miles and the sky was the brightest blue she’d ever seen. The older gentleman working the flame had a kind face, so she worked up the courage to make her request.
“I know this is probably a weird thing to ask…”
He smiled, “ I’ve had many strange requests up here. I’m sure I’ve heard it before.”
She chuckled and pulled the alarm clock from her bag, “ Can I throw this? I just worked my last day for someone else. I wanted to do something symbolic.”
“Nope never heard that one before,” The old man stroked the scruff on his chin, “ but it sounds like today is your lucky day. Give ‘er a toss.”
His mischievous grin made her squeal with delight, and she heaved the alarm clock over the basket’s edge, leaning out a little to watch it fall. The rest of the ride passed too quickly. She would have stayed up there for hours if she could. She felt so free. It was the perfect start to her new life.
Once on the ground, she thanked the kind old man and hopped out of the basket.
To her surprise, Todd from the coffee shop stood waiting beside the queue with a broken alarm clock in his hand and anger written all over his face.
“Lyla?” He said, the anger vanishing immediately, “Did you just get out of that balloon?”
“Yes…” She drawled.
“Did you throw this alarm clock?”
She scrunched up her face and said quietly, “Yes?”
Todd burst out laughing and she looked around for his friends.
“This thing almost killed me! I was walking and it smashed down not two feet in front of me.”
Lyla blushed, “I am so sorry. Today was my last day at work. I just wanted to do something crazy to symbolize my new start.”
“Well, mission accomplished I’d say.”
“Sorry. “ She said again.
“Let me take you to dinner,” he said, “ Since I embarrassed you… and you almost killed me with an alarm clock. Why end the crazy yet?”
Lyla felt butterflies and she smiled at him, “Sure, I’d love to.”
After all, today was her lucky day.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my first (and probably only) attempt at Rom-Com😉
I have anxiously awaited this book since the Autumn of 2020 when I finished its predecessor. The best and my favorite part of a good series is the relationship the reader builds with the characters, the world, and even the author themselves, even if the reader never meets them. I didn’t realize how much I missed Sabine, her demons, her dragon, and Blossom. I had admittedly forgotten how rich and deep Jamie A. Waters’ world is and reading Shadows and Twilight was like coming home to see friends after a long time away. The author is this series has a way with her words that paint a vivid picture that allows the reader to immerse themselves into her world. The characters are fun, relatable, and deep, and they always seem to find a way to make you more attached to them. I am excited and relieved that book 5 is already underway and I can’t wait to read it. If you haven’t started on this series, do it. You don’t know what you’re missing!
It’s been a spell since I updated the world about my writing progress and writing competition adventures so that is what I’ve decided to do today.
Page Turner Awards: I am really excited to have had the first 10 pages of my novel long-listed for the Page Turner Writing Mentorship Award. I posted before that I was selected as a finalist, well long-listed is the next step, or round if you prefer. Now, I anxiously await the results of the next, from what I believe, is the final round of judging. Winners are to be announced in October!
NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge: I recently wrote a short story for the second round of NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge. The first and second rounds were open to everyone and were scored using a point system. The final total for the two stories will determine if I move on to the 3rd round which takes place the 7-9 October. I did well for my first story and anxiously await the results of my second, and obviously whether I move on!
NYC Midnight Rhyming Story Challenge: I am currently participating in the first round of this new challenge offered by NYC Midnight. I was given a genre, theme, and emotion and only 600 words to write a short story that must rhyme. I am really excited to be participating in this one.
NYC Midnight 250-word Micro Fiction Challenge: This one hasn’t started yet but I am signed up and ready to write!
CBC Short Story Prize: I have until the end of October to write a 2500-word short story and I can submit it to CBC Literary Awards for a chance to win some cash and be published in a short story anthology of sorts. We shall see if I can find the time. ** I would love it if someone wanted to give me some ideas for this as I am finding it difficult to write this short story without a prompt. Let me know and if I am allowed to dedicate it to someone if I win, I will give you a shout-out in the dedication**
The Write Practice Fall Writing Contest: This competition is put on by the amazing writing community I am a member of. The Write Practice has helped me so much over the past year by developing my skills, letting me practice giving feedback to others, connecting with other writers from around the globe, and so much more. The theme for this one is “Haunted”, so I am looking forward to writing my first ever (possibly) scary short story. I was shortlisted for the short story I wrote in their Spring Writing Contest and have been hooked ever since!
So editing is incredibly daunting and once I did a quick read-through, I realized that there was a bunch I wanted to add so I have so far added five more chapters….eek, with about 3 more that I think I will need to add to be satisfied.
However, in addition to this, I have also been working on the prequel to my novel which I suspect will end up being a few novellas that I will just combine into one “prequel book.” There is so much history that will come into play in the rest of the series that I thought it might be best to put it in its own little book instead of trying to jam the back story into the actual series.
And I’ve started planning a new book/series set in an entirely different world. I’m thinking dystopian YA novel because every writer has one of those in their portfolio, don’t they?
Stay tuned for more updates and as always, thank you for reading.
A Court of Mist and Fury was a delightfully complex and carefully orchestrated chaos-of-a-sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre, no longer human faces some profound internal struggles with who she is and what comes next after her harrowing ordeal Under the Mountain. One thing I found particularly interesting was despite her apparent hatred for Rhysand, and everything she sacrificed for Tamlin, it is Rhys who gives her the space to figure out who she is and who she wants to become. Maas does an eloquent job of showing the reader how toxic Tamlin and Feyre’s relationship is and how sometimes what we want and need is entirely different and somewhat unexpected. We watch Feyre go from the nearly starving and struggling human girl to a powerful and fierce Fae woman. Unfortunately, though, it’s not just Feyre who will be forever changed by her fateful encounter with the Fae. This book was one of my favorites by Sarah J Maas so far. I love the dynamic between Rhysand, Cassian, and Azriel. Morrigan and Amren are the cherries on top of their little family. I love the way things unfold with Rhysand and Feyre, and oh man, do things get hot and spicy, so reader discretion is advised, but don’t let that scare you away. I flew through the 600+ pages. I couldn’t get enough. Read this book!
When I was a little girl, my Grandma always had a picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her wall. I can vividly remember looking at the picture every time I passed it, enamored with the idea that Queens existed and that was probably where my love of fantasy began. If Kings and Queens existed then why couldn’t unicorns, faeries, and magic exist too? Such are the musings of childhood innocence but deep inside that little question remained and now, quite a number of years later, I immerse myself into fantasy whenever I have the opportunity to read or in the stories I write. Also, I always connected the Queen with my Grandma, and having now lost them both I feel a bit lost. I haven’t really felt like writing or reading these past few days as though one of the last connections to that childhood wonder and innocence has gone with the passing of Her Majesty. I know the pages will turn and the words will begin to flow from me again but it seems right to reflect on Her Majesty’s life and the vast impact and influence she had on the world. Her dignity and steadfastness were something I always admired. Imagine everything she experienced and witnessed and all the knowledge and wisdom such a long life provides…How did she manage to keep her opinions to herself? I wouldn’t have been able to. I know there are many different views on the monarchy as an institution and that for many, pain and struggle, and anger are the feelings that arise at its mention, and I hope that those wounds are someday, and sooner rather than later, healed for you. For me, I will mourn the loss of my childhood, the Queen who I loved dearly for the connection to my Grandma that she always reminded me of, for the woman who chose a life of service to others over the privacy and freedom of a normal life, and for the steadfast and constant presence in a world of chaos and constant change.
After finishing the emotional rollercoaster that is the Throne of Glass series, being on a Sarah J. Maas high, I decided to dive into A Court of Thorns and Roses. In the Throne of Glass series, I absolutely loved Celaena/Aelin’s character, her swagger that covered a deep vulnerability made her so relatable. I loved Manon Blackbeak and her character arc. Irene Towers was brilliant and I loved that she went from being fearful to formidable. Lots of relatable solid characters had me optimistic for A Court of Thorns and Roses but I have to say, I was initially deflated when I started reading it. If I was being frank, I didn’t like Feyre at first. Sure, she was honorable and dealt an awful hand by life, but she lacked something else for me at first. I am grateful though in a way looking back because what it meant for me was that Feyre would NOT be Celaena/Aelin, or Manon, or Irene. Feyre would be a unique new character in a new world with new challenges. Instead of getting stuck in the “same” old story, Sarah J. Maas orchestrated a new adventure for me as though it was my first time reading her writing. This new series is still about the Fae, which I love, and it’s more of an adult versus YA read, (there are some pretty intense sexy scenes). Essentially events occur that put Feyre, our human protagonist on a collision course with a world and people she has only heard half-truths and horror stories about. What she finds there will change her life forever and she begins to learn that she may just have exactly what it takes to rank herself among the other badass women that Maas loves to create. Overall, this first book grew on me and I can’t wait to dive into the next book. And is it just me or does anyone else love Rhysand? Can’t wait to read more about him. If you haven’t read this series, I know I’m a bit late getting started, but don’t wait any longer. Read it.