Writing Update: The Phoenix Ashes

It has been 11 years since I started my journey writing The Phoenix Ashes trilogy. 5 years since I published the first book. 4 years since I published the second book. And finally, after long last, I am on track to completing the final installment this year. I have one very big update in terms of this series. In my pursuit to complete this trilogy, I decided to reread the two earlier installments, and felt that it did not truly reflect the completeness that I wanted to portray with this trilogy.

This trilogy holds a special place in my heart and while I had originally decided to be an indie author and self-publish this book, I have been reaching out to agents in hopes to receive representation to re-publish this book through traditional publishing. However, I do understand that this is a long and arduous path that will undoubtedly postpone the release of the final installment. Therefore, if I am unable to find an agent who believes in this trilogy as much as I do, I do plan to re-self-publish these books.

My re-publishing will consist of both previous books at the completion of the final book. With this republish comes edits that stay true to the original book, a title change, and a revamped cover. In addition, an exclusive author’s note will be included at the end of each book, covering anything from my original inspiration to my writing process.

KARNAGE will now be titled FATE OF ASH.
KALCYON will now be titled DESTINY OF LIGHT.
PHOENIX will now be titled PROPHECY OF FIRE.

For readers who have supported me along the way, I want to thank you for your interest in Selena’s story. It means so much to me that you enjoy my story, and I plan to do more than just verbally thank you. I have something very special planned for you once the final publication has been announced, so please stay tuned!

BOOK REVIEW: Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

Image result for tamora pierce books alanna

Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Series: Song of the Lioness (Complete)

Alanna the First Adventure: ★★★/5
In the Hand of the Goddess: ★★★/5
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: ★★★.5/5
Lioness Rampant: ★★★/5

Summary Alanna the First Adventure: The first volume tells the story of Alanna’s page years. The book describes how she switches places with her brother and first comes to the palace—disguised as the boy “Alan”–, finds friends and makes enemies. She also learns most of the things she needs to know as a knight. Even though she is only a page, Alanna already has to fight the Sweating Sickness and the powerful Ysandir.

Summary In the Hand of the Goddess: Alanna, the squire of the Crown Prince Jonathan IV of Conté and still disguised as a boy, meets the Great Mother Goddess. From her she learns that she has to face her three greatest fears: the fear of the Chamber of the Ordeal, that of Duke Roger of Conté and the fear of love. But she also has to face another problem: Tusaine is declaring war on Tortall.

Summary The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: Finally Alanna has become a knight and removed a great threat to the Tortallan Crown from the land. But the revelation that “Squire Alan” is now indeed “Sir Alanna” isn’t accepted easily by the court. To get away from all the gossip and to find herself again, Alanna and her manservant Coram Smythesson left Corus and traveled through the Great Southern Desert, where they encounter the Bazhir tribe of the Bloody Hawk. There Alanna has to deal with the Bazhir’s customs while teaching three young people the way of a Bazhir shaman.

Summary Lioness Rampant: On trying to save an old friend of Halef Seif’s, Alanna retrieved a map promising the Dominion Jewel which could help Tortall to prosper. Thus, she sets out to find this jewel. On her way she meets the Shang Dragon Liam Ironarm as well as the Sarain Princess Thayet jian Wilima, who both return back to Tortall with her after her quest is complete. But even after she brings the Dominion Jewel home there is still danger for Tortall. Duke Roger of Conté is back from the dead and trying to destroy Tortall.

Review: I decided to do a comprehensive book review of Tamora Pierce’s quartet, The Song of the Lioness, because as she mentions, this quartet started out as a standalone book before she separated it into four separate ones. However, the series itself still reads as one continuous adventure. There is an underlying conflict that hovers over Alanna’s head as the series continues, with each book allowing a smaller conflict to be resolved. Since it felt as though the series was one long book, some books were less interesting than others. Reviewed as a whole, the series is definitely a 4 out of 5 stars for me, but individually some books stood out more than others. My least favorite being The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. The high point of book three was how Alanna truly maintained her independence from the confines of the traditional role of woman. She was shattering the gender norms with grace and confidence. However, the story arch of this book fell a bit flat for me as I continued to anticipate more action, but was greeted with a slow build up.

Comparatively, while I love the world and story that Pierce has the ability to weave through her words, I much prefer her quartet, The Immortals. Set in the same world and years later, it really delves into a much more magical world that I always look for in fantasy books. However, one thing that always remains, is the fantastic growth and character development of the strong female leads as they truly discover their purpose and potential in an unlikely setting. Not only Alanna, but her supporting characters grow alongside her which really pulls you into the world as though it truly exists.

Alanna of Trebond: A strong and determined female lead who is a great role model to any little girl. While she understands her weaknesses, her humbleness keeps her grounded in her successes. She continually shatters expectations and follows the path that is true to her own beliefs. Alanna maintains her honor throughout the entire series and the growth her character makes is one to be awed.

George Cooper: The King of Thieves, despite his title possesses an honor equaling Alanna. I loved their relationship and how George truly accepted Alanna with an unconditional love. He embraced her strong personality and never tried to limit her while providing the support she needed when she felt struggled. This was a respected relationship of equals.

Myles of Olau: I truly loved the father figure Myles became to Alanna. He recognized how special Alanna was and his patience and support was constant. Without a truly compassionate relationship with her birth father, Alanna was able to experience it with Myles.

Jonathan of Conte: I loved Jonathan’s character through the first two books. He was an unlikely humble crown prince. He got down and dirty and never really expected special treatment. However, during book three, the heaviness of the crown began to change him. I struggled alongside him because he backtracked from the person he began as and I hoped for so much more for him. Though he lost his way, he always truly cared for Alanna, though it was apparent that they were in different places and would never truly be able to provide what the other needed.

I think the main thing to take away from The Song of Lioness is the relationships and growth between the characters. There is a little bit of something for everyone–love, passion, greed, friendships, heartbreak, sadness. This fantasy book truly touches upon the different relationships currently and in the future.

BOOK RELEASE: The Jar of Dreams

My new children’s picture book is officially available on Amazon!

Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 3.52.01 PM

A little boy full of dreams fills his up his big jar. But when one of his dreams escape he sees it come to life in front of his eyes. He never knew that living his dream could be so fun. He discovers that wonder can be found when we begin to chase our dreams one by one.

“Did his dreams like staying in the jar day after night, night after day?”
-The Jar of Dreams

Buy it on Amazon!

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Crooked Kingdom: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

* * * * *

REVIEW: This book is hefty, jampacked with some crazy twists and turns. I never knew where the story was going to go and that made it so exciting to read. The transitioning between the character views throughout the book really led to an immersive experience. Overall, the book was a smooth read, despite the sometime dense storybuilding.

Kaz Brekker: He is a complicated individual. No one really knows what he is planning, and though he might seem ruthless, he did really care about his crew. I was glad to fully learn his backstory. You couldn’t fully love him, but he was impossible to hate. When everyone was thinking about the next step, he was always thinking of the product of the next ten steps. But nobody is perfect and even some things were beyond his expectations.

I won’t be delving into each character since it follows so many of them from Six of Crows, but I will say that I loved each one of them. They had their own unique voice and character arc that made the whole book even more enticing and enjoyable to read. I loved the dynamic between each of the characters and the growth they made as individuals to overcome the hardships they faced. But one thing that never changed was their trust in each other and unshakeable resolve to complete the heist. This made their team strong and ultimately successful in so many different ways than one.

I’ve LOVED every book that Leigh Bardugo has written and since learning that Netflix will be adapting Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone into a new series, I can’t wait to see her stories come to life on the screen. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, action, and some unexpected turns.

Get your copy of Crooked Kingdom here!

BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

81cai-rijcl

Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic: ★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

* * * * *

REVIEW: Before I get into my review for this book, I want to point out a few things. One, this is the first book I read after a very long reading slump. Two, I don’t commonly read many young adult fiction novels, as I usually stick with books with a fantasy/supernatural element to them. Three, I had no idea what the book was about before I began reading it. Okay, so now here we go!

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. I didn’t necessarily like the plot of the book, but I did really enjoy John Green’s writing style. While I’ve watched many of his movie adaptations of his books, this was the first book by John Greene that I have read. The writing was light, contradictory to the shadow of heaviness of its subject. I found myself breezing through the pages. One thing about the writing that really stood out to me was the dialogue. It’s something special when the character’s personality shines through their dialogue.

In the beginning Aza is somewhat likeable as a character, but as the story goes on she becomes more obsessive to the point it makes you uncomfortable to read her. It really fell into the theme of spiraling down and down and down. She struggles with being stuck in her own head, bombarded by her obsessive thoughts, that sometimes made her do some crazy things. Mental health isn’t something I’ve read about much so I’m not exactly familiar with it. While I don’t suffer from mental health issues, I sort of realted with Aza for the past couple of weeks. Something has been weighing on my mind for awhile; something I wanted to forget, but my mind would continue to grasp at it until it was the only thing swimming around in my thoughts. It got to the point that I would have inner dialogues with my own head trying to convince myself to believe one thing, but “someone” else would be trying to make me believe something else. I just wanted it to stop, but it felt out of my control; so I felt the frustration Aza was feeling at the times she would spiral down. Even if it’s not Aza who you relate with, I think there is someone in the book for every reader to relate to.

Overall, I think it was an insightful book. It was a bit intense at times, but the characters really made the story shine.

Get your copy of Turtles All the Way Down here!