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Weathering the Wicked

Weathering the Wicked (Chronicles of Folklaria Book 1) by [Penticoff, C.]

Presented with a captivating plot line, charming characters, and a world full of fantasies, C. Penticoff blends worlds of reality with a captivating realm of fantastical discoveries in Weathering the Wicked.

Introducing Book One in the series, C. Penticoff demonstrates a clear focus and powerful imagination in her creation of fictional fantasy. With her sister missing and her total existence going up in flames, Jane attempts to find out what is going on, and what has happened to her sister.

Penticoff captives her readers by blending the ideas of magic, wonder and prophecies. Right from the beginning readers are drawn into a fantastical world of discovery in the hopes that June finds her sister, January. Without giving too much away, the story is set in a spiritual land called Folklaria which blends together the good and the evil. The readers then join June on her journey in this magical land in search for her sister. With June’s hopes resting on a complete stranger, can she control her fears and uncertainty to find her sister and restore the peace?

Magic, evil, suspense and mystery… are all words that I would use to describe the themes and narrative of this book. From evil wizards to witch doctors and fairies, C Penticoff really does her best to enter a world full of pure imagination.

What makes this read a truly great one is how the book is presented to the reader. In the table of contents, we see that the book has been broken into lots of small chapters, each with a character’s name. This highlights what the chapter is going to be about, which allows the reader to anticipate what is to come.

Overall, I would rate C. Penticoff’s Weathering the Wicked a 4 out of 5 stars. Whilst I appreciate a strong writing style, creative flair, and original thoughts, I found the concepts a little far-fetched. Of course, this is something you would usually expect from this genre, and would be appealing to a lover of fantasy books.

I applaud Penticoff in her creative writing and articulate use of words; and can honestly say that it offered a compelling read; something that I find often lacks in fantasy books. A triumphant and artistic piece of writing brought to you by C. Penticoff. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who takes an interest in artificial intelligence, compassion, and a longing for discovery and resolution. I look forward to reading Book 2 of this series, Weathering the Wicked.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B075W2KYWK

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For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by [Plant, Emma]

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant provides a glimpse of what havoc the Devil and his disciples wreak when they come to earth for the End of Days and in search of Emma Plant. Emma, a young Office Manager, notices that things aren’t quite normal in the valley where she lives. Accidents and fatalities are on the rise, and Emma herself is even visited by strange people and creatures that seek to do her harm. She is visited one night by two gnomes who explain the devastation that is taking place and seek to whisk Emma away into the mountains that overlook the valley. Their goal is to hide and protect Emma from the Devil while he wages war against civilization. It is in the mountains that Emma is introduced to more fantastical creatures, such as witches and fairies, and it is also where she begins to make a new life for herself – a life that is a far cry from the one she once knew.

Author Emma Plant adds interesting fantasy elements to her novel by the inclusion of a variety of mythical creatures, such as gnomes, fairies, witches, demons, and other creatures. The novel is entertaining in that each type of fantasy creature has its own magical powers that are displayed throughout the novel. For example, Ben and Ella, the gnomes that help protect Emma have the ability to shrink larger items in order to be able to carry them easily. Another interesting element of the novel is that, apart from the demons, these characters work harmoniously together. Abela, the witch, provides guidance and protection to Emma, the fairies provide powers and protection to the gnomes, and so on and so forth. These magical characters add a creative depth to the novel.

However, I felt that there was a lack of detail and explanation in the novel. I did not understand why demons are inhabiting earth and wreaking havoc. More importantly, I did not understand what the Devil wanted with Emma. What exactly makes her the center of his attention? I think that there wasn’t enough explanation given to fully develop the events. I felt like there was an overabundance of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. So, I felt I was reading long sections of text rather than an organic delivery of information while the story is unfolding. But with this story being part of a trilogy, I feel much more comfortable knowing that there is two more books on the horizon that will dig deeper into this world and it’s characters.

I felt like the climax was not as climactic as it could have been. Emma spends nearly two years hiding in the mountains. During that time, she reunites with a former flame and they have a family together. Much has happened to her as a person, but it’s a small detail in what, I felt, was the overall point of the novel. Towards the end of the story, Emma is hiding out in Abela’s house when the Devil decides to unleash his wrath on the valley that was her previous home. I expected that the Devil would eventually make his way up to Abela’s home and try to take Emma away. But I expected a battle between the Devil, Emma, and her protectors up in the mountains; however, the devastation doesn’t make its way to the mountains and stays contained within the valley. I felt that there was no real climax or resolution that is reached by the end of the novel. Ultimately, I felt like this novel lacked character development that makes me invest in the characters. For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant is a fascinating fantasy story with many opportunities for a surreal story that plays off of biblical legend.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B01L0FLHY6

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Essence of Neverland

Essence of Neverland

The Essence of Neverland is a bold and imaginative tale of pirate battles, formidable fairies, territorial conquests, and unexpectedly, the power of community. In this continuation to the timeless fable of Peter Pan, author Juna Jinsei thoughtfully ushers the Lost Boys into their darkest era yet – the death of Peter Pan. The painful absence of the infamously green-tighted trickster is being felt all across Neverland, leaving friends and foes alike grimly fearing for the future of the lands. As the disruption of harmony begins to threaten all walks of life, age-old enemies must contemplate rewriting their own roles in history, lest all of Neverland become a fairytale entirely.

I feel obligated to admit that Peter Pan was a staple bedtime story in my childhood home. While my father enjoyed boastfully voicing out the comical mischief between Peter and the pirates, I personally always loved the popular legend for its emotional tone. There was something whimsical and charming to the tale, always gently reminding me to appreciate my youth and my family. Even as a child, I recognized that the adventure was steeped in wisdom and parables. In this particular imagining of life in Neverland, author Jinsei beautifully explores many of those same wisdoms, delving into the emotional grips of desiring a place to belong, and missing a home you may never return to. Jinsei ponders these perennial truths through her work with such charm that I read several passages aloud to my partner, wanting to share the touching eloquence of the lessons.

Even with its strong repertoire of life lessons, this novel is admittedly a little dark at times. Jinsei unapologetically crafts the characters to feel authentic to their human nature, respectively. Captain Hook’s surly, albeit loyal, band of pirates are burdened by grief, consumed by thoughts of revenge. The once crafty and playful Lost Boys have grown old and jaded, nostalgically wishing in vain for the return of their impish flying companion. Even the council of magical fairies, as hopeful a creature as one could imagine, have become nervous for the future and harmony of Neverland. In the beginning chapter, Peter Pan’s unexpected death is a severe moment, paving the way for a few other harsh and unfortunate occurrences throughout The Essence of Neverland. Jinsei has an undeniably natural hand for the “twisted fairytale” style, and I loved the boldness of this rendition.

Still, despite the reoccurring macabre tones, The Essence of Neverland remains persistently hopeful and surprisingly lighthearted. Jinsei’s illustrative writing style really shines through the four brave children that serve as the main protagonists. Hailing from various backgrounds and regions, they each find themselves being summoned to the Mother Fairy, the eternal essence and spirit of Neverland. Although they’ve each suffered great losses at tender ages, they bravely begin their journey of growth with such earnesty and ambition that it’s impossible not to root for them whole-heartedly. My kudos to Juna Jinsei for such sincere writing!

Pages: 377 | ASIN: B015QV5C3M

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Gifts of the Crysnix

Gifts of the Crysnix4 StarsWelcome to the beautiful world of the Crysnix. The author introduces us to these small fairies that have the power to grant wishes to the people of the world, as well as provide comfort and positive thoughts in our times of need. The story takes place in Galvin Cove, a small fictional town in a New England kind of setting of the United States. The nearby forest holds the small village of Crysnix, where the fairies learn to deal with their own issues so that they may mature and help the nearby town of humans with their problems. Elixir, a fairy with a troubled past, finds himself struggling to be the knight that his father could not. Learning from his past and from those around him, he prepares for a showdown with the Dark Prince Onyx. If Elixir fails, it might be the end for his village of Crysnix. Princess Amethyst struggles to mature from a life of pampered wealth, Aderra suppresses feelings of jealousy over Elixir’s misplaced attention, and the humans of Galvin Cove deal with several of their own issues in the story, including drug use, stealing, violence, love, and compassion. Will the Crysnix be able to guide the humans to the right choices while dealing with the unseen forces of evil around them?

This novel is filled with so much goodness, it’s difficult to feel a negative thought. Lisa Shore gives plenty of sage-like advice in these pages that I couldn’t help but feel like I was better off after reading it. There is so much variety between the characters and situations in the story that almost anyone would find something to which they can relate. However, one downfall of this variety is that not every story line gets the attention that one might want it to receive. Some of the lessons come off as oversimplified because the plot moves along quickly. Still, the story does what it seems to set out to do at its core. It gives the reader an inside look at the Laws of Light, which are rules that fairies (also called Crysnix) know very well, but humans struggle with when it comes to their implementation. Through this device, the author is able to deliver great advice from all of the wise, caring fairies, and sometimes even from the humans. There are meaningful quotations at the beginning of each chapter to set the tone for these lessons, as well. While some of the quotes will not hold the same weight for every reader, their positive effect on the novel as a whole is undeniable.

Overall, this book was a fantastic read. The plot holds enough meaning to make the lessons learned both insightful and valuable to any reader that pays attention enough to take it to heart. I would love to enter this world again and see how the characters continue to progress!

Pages: 226 pages | ISBN: 1504339657

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I Wanted a Utopia

Sophie WelshLavender is a guarded and reserved young girl who loves to explore. Is there anything about the character that came from yourself or your life experiences?

I think when you’re writing something, a little of yourself goes into everything. With Lavender, however, that’s a little complex. On the surface, we resemble each other little. I live in a city, and grew up in a far bigger one. My comforts are big chairs, warm fires, and books big enough to use as keystones, rather than being out exploring a forest off on my own. But, like Lavender, I think you’d find no shortage of people who might call me exceptionally guarded and reserved – and we share an abiding love for chocolate in all its forms. At the same time, I’ve always joked that I do have a character that represents me in the book – Erkin, because we share our bumbling and our self deprecating humour. But it’s equally true to say that I’ve my fair share of Aria’s snottiness and Kerren’s anxiety. I haven’t divided myself up into those characters, but I’ve certainly drawn on myself, and countless other people, to shape them into who they are. Lavender is no exception.

The Faeries in the book I found to be creative and interesting characters. What was your inspiration for them and how did you create them for the story?

My first real guiding thought for the Faeries was simple. I wanted a utopia in the forest. A lot of fantasy tends towards the gritty, grim, bloody stuff, and don’t get me wrong, a quick look at my bookshelf would tell you I’m definitely a fan! But there’s an almost complete absence of utopias. Where Lundel is a grey, foreboding, oppressive place, I wanted its opposite. Where people are guided by kindness, a desire to work together and share what they have. It’s a simple contrast, but I feel it’s one that had to be made. If the city wasn’t so much better than Lundel, then Lavender wouldn’t be pulled between them! As for the faerie characters, they were the only people who could inhabit such a place. By and large, they’re big hearted, open, outspoken people, and each of them had their own inspirations, based on their place in the book. Because of the way I write (which is to have the kernel of an idea, and just run with it until it’s a year later, I’m out of breath and there’s a story behind me) the basic outlines of many characters I have are very sketch like! I prefer to take those sketches, and drop them into situations. Whatever comes out the other side is the character. Aria, for example, her core inspiration is that she is annoying and very quick. Berry’s inspiration was equally simple. A kind city needs a kind queen. This way, everything we see of Berry, or Aria, or Pel, or even Caeda, tells us who they are. There’s no way around it.

How do you think Lavendar and Erkin would relate to each other if they were ultimately forced to marry. What do you think their compromises would be to make the marriage work?

I think in that situation, it’s a nightmare for both of them. As Lavender sees it, Erkin has leverage over her that he can’t ever be rid of. There’s nothing he can do about that, because the inescapable fact of his position is that at any time, forever, he can go back on his words to her, and she has no recourse. Every time she feels that ring bite down upon her finger, she’ll be reminded of it. That sort of suspicion is poison for a friendship. As far as Erkin goes, he’s pretty self sufficient. He’s been managing apprenticeships, cooking meals for him and his father… he knows that she loves the forest more than she loves anybody but Kerren. Lundel as a village has already made up their mind that Lavender’s unusual, so I don’t think there would be too much pressure on Erkin to try and change her behaviour, and he can already look after himself. Ultimately, I can’t see how they’d be anything other than miserable together. Marriage would only make Lavender even further withdrawn – and both of them would lose each other as their best friend. As sad as it is, such an outcome could never end happily.

I really like the cover art for Lavender. It’s colorful and really gives that wonderland feel. Where did you get the art for the cover and how did you decide what to go with?

It’s wonderful, isn’t it? I commissioned the illustrator Hannah Christenson and she drew me a cover which really knocks it out of the forest. As for what I went with, I’d always had a couple of ideas in mind. For a long while, it was going to be a very realistically depicted cover – a tunic emblazoned with a lavender emblem folded atop a sparse wooden table, and on top of it, the two rings that Lavender wears throughout her story; Her betrothal ring, and the Promise, gifted to her by Berry. Ultimately, I decided I wanted something that emphasised the mysterious nature of the forest (and in particular, the pathway), and the way Lavender is drawn to it, rather than a piece of symbology only people who’d already bought the book might appreciate the significance of. I’m glad I did.

Will there be a book two? If so, when will it be available?

There most certainly will be! Current plans for book 2 (as yet untitled, as titles are my sworn foe) is to finish it within the next few months and have it released roughly halfway through the year. Whilst book 2 is considerably longer than Lavender, I’ve contemplated dividing it up into book 2 and 3; hopefully this wouldn’t impact a release date considerably, as the work then would be more making it so that book 2 isn’t simply the first half of book 3. It is my hope, however, that the story can be told in 2 books, not 3.

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Lavender (Lavender, #1)All her life, Lavender has wandered the forest outside her home, climbing its tall and ancient trees and following its brooks. Yet now her father has betrothed her to a boy in her village: Erkin, son of the village Elder. For Lavender, who hates being stuck indoors, has no knack for cooking, and would far rather be exploring the high branches of the forest, marriage is a fate worse than death. But fate is rarely so simple, and a chance argument reveals a secret at the heart of the forest that could change everything she thought possible.
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Lavender

Lavender (Lavender, #1)4 StarsLavender is a guarded and reserved young girl who loves to explore and doesn’t want to be held back my anything like marriage. Unfortunately, her father Remy, arranges for her to be married to Erkin, the bumbling smith’s apprentice. Lavender is determined to never live a life like her mother where she is nothing more than an apathetic servant. Erkin, in a bid to befriend Lavender, takes her on a forest excursion. Lavender soon finds herself lost in a Faerie world where she is taken on wild adventures that gives her the inspiration and strength to save her mother and herself. As she struggles to fight for the things she cherishes, she is caught in a desperate fight to save her village. But she may not end up being the hero readers expect her to be.

Lavender has a captivating story arc. It has a strong Alice in Wonderland feel to it, although this story has a lot more twists and turns. The plot was the strongest element of the story. Lavender was able to simultaneously balance two worlds, the real world and the Faerie world and combine those worlds in unexpected ways. The plot is developed in such a way that it keeps the reader engaged as they are trying to balance the worlds just as Lavender is.

The characters, particularly Lavender, Erkin, and Kerren, are complex and interesting. The in depth development of the characters combined with the emotional roller coaster Lavender is on makes for an interesting read. Sophie Welsh does a fantastic job of capturing the passion and despair of the characters. There are so many secrets in the story that Lavender is trying to balance that kept me intrigued. She devises a plan to save her mother and also finds that she is more like the Faeries then she thought. Was she going to be able to keep things a secret?

While the duality of the worlds was interesting, the logistics of the Faerie world was hard to understand. The story mentions that Lavender becomes smaller, yet the Faeries themselves call her a giant. The story left a lot of things unanswered and I kept asking myself; how does Lavender interact with the Faeries, how does Lavender enter the Faerie world, how does she get out of it? Why does Lavender “sprout”? Is she a Faerie or was she exposed to something? Is this somehow tied to her mother, whose past we never fully know? The book only suggests that Lavender’s mother Kerren may be somehow tied up with this.

All these points are frustrating only because other things in the novel are clearly explained and I begged to know more. I’m hoping that all the loose ends are cleared up in future works as the world that is created is fascinating. While the novel was enthralling and detailed, the loose ends make the ending bland. Readers will celebrate Lavender’s mother Kerren’s final moment of triumph as she emotionally breaks free, but I feel that it is muted because instead of a resolution, it’s more of a hint, which left me wanting more. Which I suppose is a great tactic because when you have such a fascinating world coupled with unanswered questions, it leaves me asking: Where is the next book?

Pages: 488 | ASIN: B011ZJOA46

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