New Release: As Told by Isolde, A Mythic Maidens Novella (Mythic Maidens #5)

My new novella is now available!

Cover art by Dragonpen Press Designs

“‘Tristan and Isolde’? More like stuff and nonsense…”

At age eighteen, Isolde of Ayrland is expected to master the healing arts and uphold her mother’s legacy as a healer, but she’s nowhere near ready for the undertaking. Though her mother’s always urging her to “trust herself,” Isolde doesn’t know the first thing about herself worth trusting.

When Isolde heals the wounds of a gallant stranger, little does she know he’s actually Trustan, nephew of the King of Lyonesse. Trustan’s uncle, King Marc, has been suffering a mysterious malady no one’s been able to cure. Isolde makes the voyage to the Isle of Lyonesse only to meet a prickly king who doubts her almost as much as she doubts herself. To make matters worse, whatever afflicts him is unlike anything she’s ever encountered—and completely impervious to her powers.

As castle intrigue and rumors abound, Marc and Trustan begin to confide in Isolde. She’s only there to do her job—not to befriend anyone, and certainly not to fall in love. But as danger looms and no one is who he appears to be, Isolde must decide whom to trust. Only, what if her own heart is the most deceptive one of all?

AS TOLD BY ISOLDE is the next YA fantasy romance novella in my award-winning Mythic Maidens series.
Includes a short bonus prequel!

Book Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

Title: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Author: Katie Alender
Genre: YA Horror/Suspense
Page Count: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Release Date: August 30, 2016

Publisher’s Summary: Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females — an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself. But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia becomes trapped. And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the hallways in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia learns that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, too, harbors shocking truths within its walls — truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free. And she’ll need to act quickly — before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves. Katie Alender brings heart-pounding suspense, gorgeous writing, and a feminist twist to this tale of memories and madness.

My Thoughts: Everything about this book made me scream YES! From the feminist angle on Victorian attitudes toward “hysterical women” to the flawed MC to the dynamic, multi-layered world-building and intriguing mysteries, twists, and turns pulling me along every page, I was completely entranced by this book from sentence 1. I found The Dead Girls… by googling “YA ghost novels” when I was in the mood for a good ghost story. But what I got from this was SO much more than that. It’s a novel with heart, with emotional resonance, and protagonist who learns and changes–even after she dies.

The intricate afterlife world-building and the physics of how being a ghost works in the time/space continuum had me fascinated. Every detail the author wrote, every passage, contained some further meaning, a purpose, a clue that comes into play later on. It all culminated into a multi-climaxed, beautiful message about life, love, redemption, and our place in the mysterious plan of it all. Characters aren’t always who we expect them to be, surprises lurk around every corner, and the MC, Delia, is always driven by some goal or another that kept me hooked. Yes, the paranormal goings-on were creepy, and so were the ghosts, but they were also people. Souls, with their own personalities and backstories. I grew to care about all of them.

Despite the cover’s bloodied appearance, this is not a gross or gory book, nor is it gratuitously violent. It is, rather, a poignant interpretation of life after death and a soul’s purpose. The end moved me to tears and gave me hope. I think this novel is perfectly brilliant and I gladly add it to my hall-of-fame of all-time favorites.

Book Review: The Syrena Legacy Series (Books #1-3: Of Poseidon, Of Triton & Of Neptune) by Anna Banks

Title: Of Poseidon, Of Triton, Of Neptune
Series: The Syrena Legacy
Author:
Anna Banks
Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
Release Date: Book 1: May 22, 2012

My Thoughts: The Syrena Legacy is a 3-book series by Anna Banks consisting of the titles: Of Poseidon (Book 1), Of Triton (Book 2), and Of Neptune (Book 3). It is, for all intents & purposes, Twilight with mermaids. Except, I guess where it lacks some of the bite (ha, no pun intended) is that there’s nothing super dangerous or predatory about mermaids–or mermen.

You can read the summary elsewhere online to see what the story’s all about, but it’s the expected girl-meets-shifter/otherworldly-guy teen paranormal romance, and that’s never a bad thing! It fits the genre neatly and I’ve never read a mermaid one (let’s see…to date I’ve done vampires, witches, angels, gods, and right now I’m on aliens), so it belongs in your TBR if you’re a regular YA PNR reader. The writing is sassy, flirty and fun. The books are light reads that won’t hurt your brain; perfect for relaxing. Some of the side characters, like Galen’s sister Rayna and his friend Rachel, are extremely entertaining.

Forgive me for picking a few nits, but the book begins with a horrific tragedy: the MC, Emma, witnesses her best friend killed by a shark. Talk about trauma. And this after Emma just lost her dad to cancer. One would expect Emma to be pretty devastated and haunted for a long time, maybe show signs of PTSD. Now, I get that a merman showing up at your high school would be VERY distracting. But Emma’s ability to bounce right out of any grief to be constantly cute, flirty, silly, and concerned only with her love life and the inner-workings of Syrena politics for the rest of the series rubbed me the wrong way. Emma is also gorgeous, quick-witted, and (without spoiling anything) a very powerful being herself, so she didn’t have any flaws to speak of. (Later books occasionally mention she used to feel like an outcast for her pale complexion, but it’s more of an afterthought. We never see her being treated this way by her community.) However, my lack of sympathy for the MC is remedied by an interesting cast of supporting characters, and mermaid kingdom worldbuilding and intrigue that might put Aquaman to shame.

If you want a lighthearted beach read, I’d say go for Of Poseidon. Especially if you’re a fan of Twilight, Beautiful Creatures, The Goddess Test, Guardian, and all things YA PNR, this one goes right up on the list.

Book Review: The Rose Legacy (Book #1) by Jessica Day George

Title: The Rose Legacy
Author: Jessica Day George
Series: Rose Legacy: Book 1
Page Count: 288 pages
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release Date: May 1, 2018

Publisher’s Summary: When orphaned Anthea Cross-Thornley receives a letter from a long-lost uncle, she wonders if she will finally find a true home. But she is shocked to learn that her uncle secretly breeds horses–animals that have been forbidden in her kingdom for centuries. More alarming is Anthea’s strange ability to sense the horses’ thoughts and feelings, an ancient gift called The Way. Confused and terrified, Anthea is desperate to leave, but when her family and kingdom are put at risk, can she embrace The Way and the exciting future it might bring her?

My Thoughts: This is through-and-through a horse lover’s novel. I was interested to learn that it was Jessica Day George’s first novel (or one of her first?), but never saw publication until it was revised later in her career. I enjoyed her Isbjorn/Singing, Springing Lark retelling in Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow when I read it several years back; I like her gentle storytelling style. In The Rose Legacy, we meet young Anthea, who dreams of becoming a Rose Maiden to the queen. Instead, she gets sent to a land of exile where her uncle illegally breeds horses. Horses are thought in their kingdom to be plague-bringers and spreaders of disease, so Anthea must get over her prejudice against them to realize her deep, telepathic connection with one of her uncle’s horses, Florian. Their relationship reminded me of the Princess and her horse, Falada, in The Goose Girl, but thankfully without the tragedy.

I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this story as much if I hadn’t recently adopted (and subsequently fell in love with, lol) my Golden Retriever. It’s definitely for animal lovers and the story’s heart is the bond between human and animal. The politics of the fictional nation didn’t grip me so much, but the twist at the end left me curious. For young fans of horses and fairy tales, this book belongs in your stable!

Meet the (Other) Hero: Raul

Meet Raul

Photography by Giulia Pugliese. Courtesy of Unsplash.

Full Name: Raul Petigya

Featured in: The Emperor’s Daughters: Jordinia, Book 5 by C.K. Brooke

From: Halai, Heppestoni

Status: Former foot soldier, builder.

Distinguishing characteristics: Dark skin tone, warm eyes, sharp-witted.

Motivations: Homeland, service, and helping others.

Raul’s Story:

Once a foot soldier lost in the wilderness, Raul Petigya discovered his knack for building shelters. With his hometown recently ravaged by a hurricane, Raul utilizes his skills to help rebuild homes for his neighbors. The last thing he wants is a fussy foreign duchess in his way. But as he comes to know and admire the headstrong young woman, he begins to realize he may have judged her too soon…


Read Raul and the duchess’s story in The Emperor’s Daughters:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079RZBTVR/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38109509-the-emperor-s-daughters


Meet the (Other) Heroine: Johanna

Meet Johanna

Photo by Tiko Giorgadze. Courtesy of Unsplash.

Full Name: Johanna Cosmith

Featured in: The Duchess’s Descendants by C.K. Brooke

From: Rhys, Jordinia

Status: Daughter of the late Duke and Duchess of Jordinia

Distinguishing characteristics: Wild curly hair; flirtatious. Perhaps a bit too experienced with gentlemen…

Motivations: Johanna is carrying an unexpected surprise and she is determined to do anything to hide it from her family and find a solution, far away…

Johanna’s Story:
One too many trysts with the Earl of Tremblay—whom Johanna was never too serious about, and who certainly isn’t that serious about her— have led to an unexpected predicament for the young woman. By inviting herself on her brothers’ risky expedition abroad, Johanna hopes to hide her secret from her aunt and uncle, the Emperor and Empress, and handle the situation someplace remote and far away. But one of the royal guardsmen accompanying her begins to suspect too much. To complicate matters, he’s irresistibly handsome and kind…


Join Johanna in The Duchess’s Descendants, Jordinia: Book 4 by C.K. Brooke!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Duchesss-Descendants-Jordinia-Book-ebook/dp/B07DMNKC9B/

Add to TBR on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32454046-the-duchess-s-descendants


Meet the Hero: Prime Minister Rhoades

 Meet Prime Minister Rhoades

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo. Courtesy of Unsplash.

Full Name: Prime Minister Nathaniel Rhoades

Featured in: The Golden Dove by C.K. Brooke

From: The Kingdom of Dorsett

Status: Prime Minister of Dorsett

Distinguishing characteristics: Tall, slender, thin mustache. Prefers books to crowds.

Motivations:
His love of history and facts propels the young prime minister to uphold his role in the constitutional monarchy with fairness and compassion.

Prime Minister Rhoades’ Story:

Young, reclusive, and bookish Prime Minister Rhoades was elected after his uncle’s term expired. He wants to bring positive change while upholding the law in the tiny Kingdom of Dorsett. But the queen’s harridan of a daughter, Princess Tàlia, makes that more difficult than he had imagined. Then on the evening of the princess’s ball, which he is forced to attend, he’s paired with the most intriguing woman. She makes him feel something he’s never felt before. But he can’t shake the feeling he’s already met her, that she’s someone he knows, in disguise…


Who is the mysterious young woman he meets?
Find out in The Golden Dove, available in paperback, eBook, or audio:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXILYFT
Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Golden-Dove-Audiobook/B07CMLBFKV

Add to TBR on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32933024-the-golden-dove


Meet the Hero: Archer

Meet Archer


Full Name:
Archer Cross

Featured in: Fool Moon
by C.K. Brooke

From: Cree

Status: Self-proclaimed highwayman hunter

Distinguishing characteristics: Brown hair, goatee. Carries a bow & arrow and rides a golden horse called Sunbeam.

Motivations: Ridding the roads of highwaymen, protecting the innocent, restoring justice his way and making a living in the process.


Archer’s Story:

Armed with a rare blessing, Archer Cross cannot be harmed by evil. However, that doesn’t mean his loved ones can’t be. Haunted by a traumatic event in his past, Archer has devoted his days to ridding Creee’s roads of the murderous highwaymen that plague them. The one thing he doesn’t have time for is a strange girl beseeching him to escort her to a wicked land that lies impossibly far away. Until she presents him with a magical offer he can’t refuse…


Join Archer and Lori’s journey in my original fairy tale, Fool Moon, available in paperback, eBook, and audio:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fool-Moon-Novella-C-K-Brooke-ebook/dp/B00ZQG6JXU
Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Fool-Moon-A-Novella-Audiobook/B07BN4HJ9H
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fool-moon-c-k-brooke/1122329708?ean=9780692579589
BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Fool-Moon/C-K-Brooke/9780692579589?id=6145510849157

Add to TBR on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26077562-fool-moon


Meet the Hero: Lancelot

Meet Lance


Full Name:
Lancelot “Lance” Dulac

Featured in: I, Guinevere by C.K. Brooke

From: Dulac’s Farm, Camylot, Isle of the Bryttons

Status: Farmer’s son, swordsman hobbyist

Distinguishing characteristics: Young and handsome. Brown hair and amber-gold eyes. Skilled and promising swordsman.


Motivations:
Lance has long dreamed of wielding his beloved sword, Secace, in the queen’s army as a knight.

Lance’s Story:

The son of a farmer, Lancelot Dulac wants nothing humdrum for his future. His first love was his sword, Secace, when he first saw it in the swordsmith’s window. For two years he labored to save enough coin to purchase it. He was never expecting his second love to arrive in the form of a very headstrong—and very royal—girl, whom the wizard Merlyn has appointed Lance to teach…


Learn a whole new side of the classic legend in C.K. Brooke’s retelling, I, Guinevere:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JFPQRP4/

Add to TBR on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42358264-i-guinevere