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: 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.

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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

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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.

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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!

BOOK REVIEW: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale/Dark

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

SUMMARY: Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

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REVIEW: This book is a collection of six different stories. I won’t be reviewing each story but instead just reviewing the book as a whole. My favorite story of the six was the last one, which was a spinoff of the Little Mermaid. I’m not a huge fan of the Little Mermaid movie, so it was a surprise to me that I enjoyed this story so much. It’s much more of a prequel to how the Little Mermaid and Ursula came to be.

Each story was innovative and filled with a dark, yet magical retelling of well-known fairy tales that children grew up reading and watching. The writing was fantastic as usual; I expect no less from Leigh Bardugo. She has a way with her words that really pull you into the world you read about. Even though there were colorful illustrations throughout each story, evolving as you delved deeper, her words were more than enough to paint the picture in your mind.

The illustrations were positively beautiful. It made the book even more magical. Each story starts with a small, humble image. However as you continue to read on, more and more details are added to the illustrations, until the end where a full illustration emerges. I’ve never seen a book quite like this and it can be considered a classic on its own.

Overall, I would highly recommend you pick up a copy. It’s definitely something you’ll want in your collection. And when you’re feeling a little dangerous, crack open this book and read yourself a dark bedtime story.

Get your copy of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo here!

BOOK REVIEW: What Do You Do With A… by Kobi Yamada

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Author: Kobi Yamada
Genre: Picture Book

What Do You Do With An Idea: ★★★★★/5
What Do You Do With A Problem: ★★★★★/5
What Do You Do With A Chance: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY:

What Do You Do With An Idea: This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.

What Do You Do With A Problem: From the same author and illustrator as the #1 nationally best-selling What Do You Do With an Idea? comes a new book to encourage you to look closely at problems and discover the possibilities they can hold. This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

What Do You Do With A Chance: In this story, a child is visited by his first chance and unsure what to do with it, he lets it go. Later on, when a new chance arrives he reaches for it, but this time he misses and falls. Embarrassed and afraid, he begins ignoring each new chance that comes by, even though he still wants to take them. Then one day he realizes that he doesn’t need to be brave all the time, just at the right time, to find out what amazing things can happen when he takes a chance…

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Despite what you may think, picture books are not just for children. There are deep meanings hidden between its simple wording and colorful pages. Yamada’s three picture books, What Do You Do With An Idea, What Do You Do with A Problem, and What Do You Do With A Chance, are by far one of the cutest and most meaningful children’s picture books that I have ever read.

The illustrations are so tasteful and creative that you can’t help but want to turn the page to see what’s on it. The one aspect of the illustration that really stuck out to me was the gradual saturation that increases as you continue to read the book. By the end of the book you get your full glorious brightness of the illustration.

What Do You Do With An Idea: The idea is illustrated as an egg. Eggs are viewed as fragile but also the beginning of life. You need to keep an egg warm and close to you for it to hatch into this new life. I thought it was the perfect representation of something intangible as an idea. This was the first book of Yamada’s that I read. I was attracted to the simple cover and ended up reading the whole book in a Target. Once I finished, I immediately bought it. I had to have my own copy because it was such an innovative idea (see what I did there? haha). I then proceeded to ordering all of Yamada’s other books as well.

What Do You Do With A Problem: The problem is illustrated as this dark ominous cloud in the sky that follows the little boy. Problems never disappear and will hover and cast a shadow over you for as long as it may. The ending illustration for this book was fantastic! The two-page spread was explosive and shows that though problems may look dark in the beginning, they can reveal great new opportunities.

What Do You Do With A Chance: The chance is illustrated as an origami butterfly. It’s small in the beginning, but bright and magical. Like a butterfly, chances will flutter around but eventually it flies away if you don’t take a hold of it. Third book by Yamada and I wasn’t disappointed.

Overall, I recommend all three books to read. If you have children or if you want to take a little breather from the more serious pieces of literature, these three books are a great choice.

Buy your copy on Amazon:

What Do You Do With An Idea
What Do You Do With A Problem
What Do You Do With A Chance