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Welcome to the Madhouse

Stories about grand houses with lots of servants are a staple in historical fiction. A lot of the time, the house and servants are a backdrop for the story. Author Valerie Anne Hudson’s Maids of Maddington: Welcome To The Madhouse is a twist on that kind of story. Yes, it takes place in the home of a fabulously wealthy family. However, the story is very light on the “upstairs” part of the drama. Instead of focusing on fashionable upstairs intrigue, this story is told entirely by a housemaid.

Our narrator, Eliza, is a young woman who comes from grinding poverty. She works as a servant in the homes of wealthier people as a means to support herself, her mother, and her siblings. She is good-natured and dutiful. Eliza has no flaws to speak of. The story kicks off when Eliza starts working in the eponymous Madhouse’s Montague household. She finds a true friend, only to nearly lose her in a classic morality tale.

On the first page, the reader is immediately flung, in medias res, into the hubbub surrounding a high-profile murder trial. But, while a crime was committed, there is a long buildup. Hudson takes readers on that journey, seen through Eliza’s eyes, which builds the suspense. Eliza’s character is one that you grow fond of as she is courageous and kind, and you follow her on her journey as she struggles to take care of her family. Eliza and Annie form a beautiful relationship, and the drama that surrounds them makes this one read that is hard to put down.

Welcome To The Madhouse is an entertaining and engrossing story. The reader gets to see the ugly side of life in the Victorian era is at the heart of the tale, and Hudson effectively uses the contrast between the elegant lives of the Montagues and the difficult lives of Eliza’s family. This cozy little story is definitely worth reading, and I look forward to reading more books in the series.

Pages: 195 | ASIN : B09ZK9RB7P

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Marvels of the Underworld

Marvels of the Underworld, by Hermione Lee, is a fantasy novel that follows the adventures of four teenage girls. Alexandria and her three friends, Eileen, Clarissa, and Daphne, discovered something remarkable about themselves the year before. It turns out that these seemingly ordinary girls were the descendants of the four gods that created the dimension known as the Otherworld. As a result, they become caught up in a magical adventure that completely changes their lives. Now, the four girls get to return to the Otherworld after spending the year attending school and honing their powers. This time, however, the Elders have called upon the girls to help them overcome the newest threat to the Otherworld. Alexandria’s parents, King Patrick and Queen Marianne appear to blindly trust that their kingdom is no longer in danger… but this is not the case. 

Lee is a master of suspense and intrigue. Good vs. evil stories are tales as old as time, but the battle between good and evil that Lee has created with her fascinating cast of characters is particularly unique. There is nothing like reading a fantasy novel in which an entire group of characters is suspect, and the course of the story could ultimately change at the drop of a hat. Lee brings readers just that kind of tale, and it is a most welcome addition to the adventure and fantasy genres.

Marvels of the Underworld, by Hermione Lee, adds a certain magic found in Alexandria’s adventure–a magic that comes from a place far outside the plot of the story. I found the genuine tone and nature of Lee’s writing to be comforting–something that is not often found in many adventure and fantasy novels. The story brings up those strong emotions that I love so much about teen and young adult fiction. Impactful books in this genre create the feeling within readers that they are meant for something greater, and Lee’s work certainly strikes a similar chord.

Marvels of the Underworld will captivate fans of science fiction and teen and young adult novels. In addition, those interested in exploring a novel with high-quality writing and an exceptionally well-thought-out storyline will find this a pleasure to read.

Pages: 322 | ASIN : B09TRTR8NM

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A Person Can Choose to be Good or Bad

Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait Author Interview

Stone Dragons Kingdom follows a city of people that are dragon riders as they try and protect their city and world from destruction. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for this story was to create a situation where a villain can have a change of heart. It shows, I think in a dramatic way, how allowing other people to help you can lead down a wrong path, as indicated by the Stone Dragons Kingdom, but also on a human level, we have Belinda who focuses on all she doesn’t have, rather than what she does have. If she could only reach that light inside her, what would change?

Learning she has strong and deep powers changes Belinda. What were some driving ideals behind Belinda’s character’s development?

Belinda is a very interesting character. She stems from a person consumed with being the best, but when she isn’t, she’ll go to the extreme to show that she is the best. In her development, I wanted to show, no matter what, a person has a choice of what they want to be, either for bad or good. With Belinda, I chose to show that she was only one choice away from changing her life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Yes, but as always, they only come to light after I’ve written a story. I think the main theme of this one is redemption. The story starts out harshly for Belinda, even though others believed her to have changed, it took her a long time before she could shake her demons to find the person she wanted so much to become.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Thank you for asking! Well, The Stone Dragons Kingdom was supposed to be the last for this series, but… one of my characters had something else in mind! I’m currently writing The Spires of Dasny: 5 ~ The Northern Kingdom. It’s on pre-order now and will be released by Fall 2022.

It may not be the last of the series, either ~ the same character has been given knowledge of how their current kingdom will undergo change, and he’ll be instrumental to this change.

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Continue the saga of the award winning young adult bestselling series, The Spires of Dasny as Book 4 takes you on a journey to another kingdom. Belinda, an ambassador from the Spires of Dasny is now living amogst the Stone dragons and teaching the ways of the Spires to them, including the bonds made between dragon and rider. She stays with them after they healed her beloved dragon, Sezalor… or so those in the Spires believe.
It’s only after Seyra hears from the Truth Speaker, that she learns the truth behind Belinda. What she learns could not only destroy the Spires, but every other kingdom in their world. Belinda holds a magic so powerful, so destructive, there may be no way of stopping her.
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Belinda

Returning to Sezalor’s lair, I pause to connect to the Rocks. Splaying my hand open, I lay my palm flat against the wall immediately feeling the surge of power enter me.

“Time is short. As promised, you will have your own kingdom as long as you carry the Rock and Water energy for us to expand. We have been locked in one place for too long. Agola grew old and set in his ways, this is why you have this opportunity to expand with us. Use the energy we absorbed by the stone-encased Xi to bring our Stone dragons under control.”
A blinding flash cracks through the wall. I feel like I’m hit by lightning, my head screams in pain with an ache like it’s being crushed by an enormous hand. Behind me, the roar of Sezalor adds to the unbearable pain. Clasping both hands over my head, I beg for it to stop. Anything, please take this pain from me! Briefly, I smell burning. In my horror I look down to find myself being burnt alive before I’m hit by a wall of Water. Darkness.
Rebirth. I suck in First Breath. Expelled from the womb of Rock and Water, I stand on shaky legs and return to my chamber to dry. As my hands move the drying cloth over my body, I discover more scales covering me from my shoulders to the biceps. I grin. Large, stone scales. Who needs armor when I have these?

Stone Dragons Kingdom

With the stone dragons as its new allies, peace returns to the Spires, but not for long. An enemy seeking the Spires’ destruction rises from within under the influence of the Xi’s mind-controlling magic and the Rock and Water gods. Seyra, Queen of the Spires, finds herself in mortal danger due to the actions of this enemy but escapes in a dramatic turn of events. The Spires Kingdom makes it out of this sticky situation only to face old enemies in the form of the Xi people again, but the brave dragon riders and their beasts secure victory for the kingdom. Elated by the destruction of the persistent Xi sorcerers, the Spires make a startling discovery that would pit them against their most brutal opponents yet in their battle for survival.

Author Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait (C.R.C.) returns with her captivating tale of dragons, humans, and magic in this fourth book in the Spires of Dasny series, Stone Dragons Kingdom. With just enough backstory and new challenges, you don’t have to worry about not having enough context to understand what’s going on. The book starts with a bang. There’s a high-tension and high-stakes scenario threatening to unravel right from the get-go. But Cowperthwait is also proficient in building anticipation as she thrusts readers right into the thick of things. She knows how to set the stage and slowly dial up the tension in anticipation for what happens next.

Cowperthwait also shows impressive control over her story as she swings from one story gap to the next but keeps things cohesive and engaging. The storytelling is also compelling as Cowperthwait expertly humanizes her characters, thus making them relatable and memorable. With a simple yet beautiful and expressive writing style, the Stone Dragons Kingdom makes for a breezy and entertaining read from start to finish.

The Spires of Dasny: 4 Stone Dragons Kingdom is a riveting young adult fantasy novel. With plenty of action and thrilling suspense, readers will be drawn into the battles and feel connected to the characters while following their saga.

Pages: 211 | ASIN : B09BTG9DLR

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Leaving My Comfort Zone

A.G. Flitcher Author Interview

Boone and Jacque: The Brothers’ Odyssey follows three teenage friends as they try to find their way back home; along the way, they must search for and find their lost companion while facing unknown dangers. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I do a month or two of reading, ground work and research for every book I write. For this installment of the series, I researched autism because I wanted to make sure the character, Flint, wasn’t Hollywoodized in terms of the symptoms of Autism. I watched VR simulations of what it’s like to have autism. Mini documentaries and TED talks showing the continuing and evolving study of this neurological disorder. They say there is no definitive answer to where the disorder came from. And no cure. But there is Applied Behavior Analysis. Which is exemplified in extensive research, therapy and even television. I also watched the show Atypical. A Netflix series focusing on a teen character named Sam who has autism. Throughout the series, his symptoms become more focused in terms of where he is on the spectrum.

Outside of research, I incorporated memories from family vacations. These are quite rich in detail, so if anyone would like to hear about them, I am working on a Youtube series called Stories with AG Flitcher. Where I tell stories about my life that inspired scenes and elements of relationships in this ever evolving series. Nevertheless, I will share two things. The different types of environment came from my experiences being at the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and the miles and miles of desert in between Cairo (the capital) and whichever destination my family and I arrived at.

One story that I didn’t film that inspired a long walk in the Dolov desert, was the time my family and I were stuck in the middle of a desert for 9 hours. The car had a flat tire and finding a tire repair shop was hard to find. It was 45 degrees Celsius, no shade, dry and the backseats had no seat belts.

Lastly, the characters being casted away from the town, is a mirror symbolic moment of me leaving my comfort zone to find my truth as a writer and human being. Leaving the comfort of routine, familiarity, safety nets and doubt was necessary because it meant I had to find what scares me and face it head on.

What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?

I would say I enjoyed writing for Flint the most because I’ve worked with people who have autism, heard stories from friends who work primarily with children with autism, and interviewed parents with children who have autism. Hearing and seeing the community of autism helped me to see what it was like to be wired differently than the neurotypical person.

However, the most challenging character to write for was Boone. Because Jacque is far more wise, and therefore his journey is different in terms of growth. Shammy is Boone’s guiding light to growing up. I didn’t want Boone to be exactly like me or grow up like me. My readers, who know me personally, say he is similar to me. So in book 3 and 4, I have him grow to be someone far more courageous yet lost than I am. In addition, he doesn’t develop the same personality as me when he becomes my age.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I’m unconventional when it comes to developing plot points. I come up with a rough storyline and then start writing. In fact, for book 4, I stopped writing a rough storyline because I didn’t know whether or not there was going to be a book 5. Which there will be.

For this book though, book 2, I did structure it a little more but not the plot twist. These books take me typically 6 to 8 months to write while I work a full time day job as a maintenance worker at a zoo. So while I’m working, I daydream about plot twists. Therefore giving me the same surprise as the reader. When I revise I’ll add details and tweak plot twists to my liking, but not knowing what they are ahead of time keeps it fresh.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on book 4 of the series, Cytrus Moonlight. It will be out late 2022. I also wrote what I call “writing doodles” on the keynotes app on my phone for book 5. In which it will take place on a fantasy island that has creatures and trees representing the main characters regrets and fears. The only way they can escape is if they confront them and see fear as an important emotion that helps us do better in life. The tentative title for book 5 is Grotto Island.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

Boone, Jacque and Shammy have been casted away to a wasteland under King Reeve’s control. In which they must find Flint on their journey back home. Even though the repercussions could be disastrous and heartbreaking. What is much worse, and far more unpredictable, is the kind of home they could be coming to.

Powerful Purples

As the Zeek warriors are engaged in their perilous attempt to sabotage the linking ceremony of Jax and Electra, Harlow is trapped in Summer kingdom, torn between her conflicting feelings, her deep affection for Jax, and the changing feelings she has for the father of her children, Alex. Also, aside from the scorching heat of Summer, Harlow’s new resident is going to take a heavy toll on her. Not only is she imprisoned, but even the Summer Prince Alex cannot help her since a bounty has been placed on his head by his own mother. With Harlow’s rescue mission, involving members of all four races, Powerful Purples lays the groundwork for unprecedented changes in Zadok through political negotiations, commitments, unity, resentments, and romance.

In the third installment in author Nikki Minty’s Zadok series, this romantic thriller introduces numerous new characters from all four races of Zadok. Further analysis is offered on the older characters, who have developed psychologically and physically. Moreover, the Zadonians have been put in the clothing of Earthlings, showing traits of selfishness, grief, and the desire to get on with life. The characters continually demonstrate realistic and natural characteristics of human behavior, be it Slater’s untruthfulness concerning his brother’s claim of support in a consequential cause or Zannah’s and Floss’s desire to become more vital than ever.

Spring, the most sufficient fairytale kingdom of Zadok, continues most of the plot in Powerful Purples. This glitz and glamour of Spring contrast impressively with the gloom and fierceness of Summer. A vital feature is how the title Powerful Purples has been followed through and justified throughout the story, which will prove to be an entertaining element for the readers.

Powerful Purples is the last book in the Zadok’s young adult fantasy thriller series. Readers will experience drama, action, mystery, and romance from this imaginative series.

Pages: 343 | ASIN : B09C57KHFN

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Ruby Red

There has been a dramatic change in Ruby’s physique and irises – they no longer belong to the weak pink Pastel race. Is it simply the results of the vertic switz ink that Alex tattooed on her, or is there more to it than she is ready to admit? Ruby’s path to change the color system in Zadok appears to be taking a completely different route from Jax’s plan for her. Torn between her feelings for Alex, the enemy of her race, and Jax, she is again faced with a threatening situation. Only this time, the danger extends beyond Zeeks’ territory.

A prequel to Pastel Pink, the first book in the Zadok Series, author Nikki Minty further explores in Ruby Red the other lands and inhabitants of Zadok. The reader is allowed to examine some of the complicated characters, the characters left for the reader to contemplate in the first book. The ruthless and unpredictable sister to Ruby, Floss’s void in life is explicitly examined. Ruby’s character is contradictory to her feelings and reckless at times. Still, given her circumstance of being stuck between two of Zadok’s most eligible bachelors, it becomes hard to blame her.

The introduction to the other regions of Zadok and the people living there – the fascinating village of Spring and the winged Ruke Acacia – will capture the readers’ attention as much as they did Ruby’s. Additionally, readers will enjoy the unexpected romance angle that appears in the story between the two characters with contradictory-personality. It’s vital to say Ruby Red gets a step ahead in terms of action, diverse setting, and romance, completing the missing part of the previous book.

Aside from offering additional interesting characters from other races, this imaginative novel doubles up on its fascinating plot with its magical aspect. While this is a story full of moral dilemmas, readers will find that none of the main characters can claim triumph over the other in being morally right. 

Ruby Red will not disappoint fans of the Zadok series. Teen and young adult readers that love fantasy and magical realism will thoroughly enjoy this riveting novel. However, since the novel’s plot precedes the plot of Zadok’s first novel and the plots are highly interconnected, new readers should begin with the first book in the series.

Pages: 332 | ASIN : B091KM25WR

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Boone and Jacque: The Brothers’ Odyssey

In The Brothers’ Odyssey, written by A.G. Flitcher, Boone and Jacque have been sent to another realm with their friend Shammy. Boone, Jacque, and Shammy know they must not stay still for too long in any place as danger follows them. The children search for Flint, who was separated from them earlier. Not knowing what treacherous paths are ahead, they go out into the darkness. Surviving an ocean, trees, sokas, and King Reeve, the trio manages to make their way back to Saddleton, or what is now known as New Saddalia.

The Brothers’ Odyssey is a phenomenal novel. This second installment in the series is even more exciting and thrilling than the first novel. This second book answered many questions that readers were left with at the first novel’s end. This epic fantasy novel is creative and has many unexpected twists and turns. It will keep readers guessing even more than the first novel. Flitchers great imagination takes readers into a world that is original and full of surprises. The action-packed story flows smoothly with little time for readers to catch their breath before another surprise or twist is revealed.

The wasteland realm A. G. Flitcher created where Boone, Jacque, and Shammy were transported will really come alive in readers’ minds. The detail written into the story made it very easy to make the words turn into images. For example, there is a scene where the ocean is turned into oil that is incredibly vivid.

In the last novel, readers were looking for Boone to explore his feelings more in-depth, especially those for Shammy. He was able to do that in this book. Shammy was also able to figure out her feelings for Boone as well. Jacque really seemed to be wise beyond his years in this book. He explored his own emotions and dealt with them while finding out about his family. This book tied up all the loose ends from the previous book. It will also leave readers wanting more.

The Brothers’ Odyssey is a riveting epic fantasy novel filled with adventure and action. Middle school, teenagers, and young adult readers will enjoy this fantasy adventure with some mystery mixed in.

Pages: 263 | ASIN : B08KRMFVRJ

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