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Dark is the Night by Mirriam Neal: Tour/Review!

(image credit: Morgan Farris)

GUYS. A NEW MIRRIAM NEAL NOVEL IS RELEASING THIS WEEK AND I. CAN’T. STOP. SCREAMING! 😀 I’m super excited to be sharing my review for it as part of the blog tour! (Also, is it not GORGEOUS?)


Title: Dark is the Night

Author: Mirriam Neal

  • Date read: October 12, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy / Southern Gothic / Christian Fiction
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Series: Salvation, #1
  • Fave character: Skata and Angel!
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author as part of the blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. (No vampires, werewolves, hunters, or shifters threatened me into saying nice things about them. XD) All opinions are my own.

Attention, world! Author Mirriam Neal has a new book out and it. is. spectacular. (Of COURSE.) I love this author’s writing so much (Paper Crowns being one of my top-ten favorite books ever), so I was ecstatic when I heard she had a new book releasing! *muffled screaming*

I don’t exactly read vampire books so imagine my surprise when I read this one and genuinely enjoyed it. I actually beta-read an earlier version of it several years ago, so I’m DOUBLY excited about this book being released to the world, because now I get to shriek about some of my favorite characters and y’all get to read about them—finally! 😀

So, this one is what you might call a Christian vampire-novel.

(I just reeeally wanted to use this gif. XD)

That may seem odd, but this author did a stellar job weaving themes and deep discussions through a paranormal adventure/mystery set against the Southern Gothic setting of modern-day South Carolina. And it’s delightful Urban Fantasy (small town . . . rural fantasy?), too. It features the small town called Salvation, inhabited by vampires, werewolves, shifters, and other people/creatures, fantastical or otherwise.

This is a story about PEOPLE. The multi-faceted characters totally make this book. I LOVE THEM SO. It features a fairly large cast, and every one of them has their own story, some merely hinted at but all totally real. Trying to wrestle out everyone’s motives and secrets and relationships was the best.

For the main characters, we have Skata (vampire-hunter), Angel (vampire house-mate; ooh, awkward), Colton (epic-est preacher of all time), and Easton (who I can’t really describe but she’s the best, okay). They are MY FAVORITE, especially all their interactions/relationships/banter/pasts.

Okay, but ANGEL AND SKATA, THOUGH. Skata is a tough, no-nonsense vampire-hunter on the path of revenge, who ends up stuck in this little dead-end town. Enter Angel, who is the sassiest, snarkiest vampire ever, and happens to have a huge mansion that Skata ends up staying at.

THEY ARE HILARIOUS TOGETHER. I love buddy stories so much, and this is like the ULTIMATE one. (No, I will not stop screaming in caps about them. You can’t make me.) Their snark-offs are my absolute favorite. Angel is so full of himself and his favorite thing is baiting Skata or simply Not Caring. It’s so hilarious.

Meanwhile, Skata is Totally Done with Angel and it’s a miracle neither of them kills each other the minute they meet, let along through the plot. XD I JUST LOVE THEM, OKAY. They are the best thing in this book. 😀

(Skata being Totally Done with Angel 110% of the time)

I love how Easton is sometimes confused about stuff, sometimes tolerates their shenanigans, and at other times is Total No-Nonsense. Simultaneously sweet and also watch-out. Everyone needs an Easton. And a Colton! He’s the most fascinating preacher character ever and I love how he has words of wisdom one moment and a shotgun or a stake to help out with, the next, and he’s not afraid to tell it like it is. He’s unassuming and helpful, but can snark alongside Skata with the best of them, and may have a bit of an anger problem occasionally, but he’s the solid one in the middle of the uncertainty, and let’s just say the bad guys better watch out for this man of God.

There are also FASCINATING side characters, who you spend some of the book not knowing whose side they’re on or if they even have a side, which makes it terribly interesting. But they’re all such vivid characters! A certain… erm… well, Skinner, who’s spoilery but OH BOY; Gideon and Jackson (hothead), vampire brothers (Gideon being the Most Refined But Can Totally Snap Your Neck If He Feels Like It gentleman-vampire of all time); Rukiel, who is mysterious; Cassis, gentle part-vampire who is Too Precious For This Earth; Shannon, the sheriff’s shotgun-wielding daughter; Spencer, techno-genius kid and energy-drink-aholic (energolic)… The list goes on. Seriously though, I love these characters so much! I mean, even the scary ones are fascinating. They are SO ALIVE. (Even the dead ones. *cough*)

Angel and Skata and their banter are my number one favorite thing about this book. (Shhh, I know that’s three things.)

There is so much snark and banter in this thing (I’m pretty sure I highlighted half of the book in my Kindle app because it is SO QUOTABLE) and if there’s one thing I love, it’s hilarious books. XD The snark and sarcasm in this book is A+ and MAKES MY DAY. Everyone just has the best lines and it’s great. 😀

The plot itself is full of twists and mysteries (including murder-mysteries) and totally keeps you on your toes. The shadowy, mysterious “feel” of the book, just a bit gothic and spooky, but not too over-the-top, is pretty cool. Also, the different classifications/levels of vampire was really interesting. Things get kind of gruesome occasionally and there’s a very real, gritty feel, but it never gets to be too much, because of the humor balancing it out, and all intertwined with themes of faith or redemption that fit together perfectly.

I never would have thought that a book could be so dark but funny but inspiring all at once, with a good dose of feels thrown in on top. Even if I wasn’t sure about a thing or two, and want to know what happens with some loose threads, I still absolutely loved it! It left me with a feeling of “I just read a really good book” and that’s all I can ask of any story—aside from laugh-aloud humor, and characters I just want to HUG. Which this book definitely delivered!

Content warning: lots of blood/violence, a smattering of recent-Marvel-movie-level language, and general scariness.

Conclusion: This is a dark book (I mean, it has it in the title. ;)) but there’s humor and redemption and other good stuff to set that off. Nothing felt there “just” to be creepy—it all fit well into the plot and the feel and the impact. And, I mean, SKATA AND ANGEL. I had a total blast reading this and couldn’t put it down. Even if you’re not into vampire stories, this is a genuinely good, if gritty, book, which is tons of fun. Now WHERE is the next one? I have some suspiciously loose strings that need to be explored and I NEED more with these characters! *grabby hands*


About Dark is the Night

Skata only has one goal in life—to seek out the vampire who turned his wife and kill it. When he finally tracks the vampire to the small nowhere town of Salvation, South Carolina, he realizes he has stepped foot into something bigger than himself.

He’s going to need help—and that help may come in many forms. Between the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and an unusual preacher, Skata may be in over his head.


Book Links

Don’t forget to head on by Mirriam’s blog for all the tour stops!


About the Author

MIRRIAM NEAL is an author frequently masquerading as an artist. When she’s not scrubbing paint off her hands, she’s thinking about writing (actually, if she’s being honest, she’s always thinking about writing). A discovery writer, she tends to start novels and figure them out as she goes along and likes to work on several books at the same time—while drinking black coffee. She’s a sucker for monsters, unlikely friendships, redemption arcs, and underdog protagonists. When not painting fantasy art or writing genre-bending novels, she likes to argue the existence of Bigfoot, rave about Guillermo del Toro, and write passionate defenses of misunderstood characters.

To learn more about her fiction and art, visit her website: https://mirriamneal.com/, where you can find a full list of all her social medias, or join the Citadel Fiction newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/b1h5v9


Well, what do you think? Let me know in a comment below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Strange Waters: New Phoenix Fiction Anthology!

Just a quick announcement to share that the new short story collection from the delightful Phoenix Fiction Writers is releasing TODAY! *applause and confetti*

I’m so excited to read Strange Waters (you’ll hear from me again with a review once I do) and you can read on for more about these sci-fi or fantasy stories from a group of talented authors! 😀

(I did read the one by Kyle Robert Shultz, which I edited — it’s hilarious and space fantasy and yes you need it in your life. I can’t wait to read the others!

Links

THE STORIES

Here’s more about each individual story that’s collected under the gorgeous cover above!

Backpack Boy by Nate Philbrick (www.natephilbrick.com)

Pirates have kidnapped Mum and taken her to the cave across the island.

The boy with the red backpack has everything he needs to rescue Mum: a map, a wooden sword, a book about pirate adventures, and a ham sandwich. Most importantly of all, he has his elephant.

But wooden swords and ham sandwiches might not be enough for the boy with the red backpack to face the truth he’s afraid of the most.

And the island starts to crumble…

Finer Things by C. Scott Frank (www.scottfrank.com)

Soren Tallweather and Tabitha Courtney are madly in love with each other and furiously in hate with the society that says they can never be together. They could escape, if only they had the means to buy anonymity. If they can get their hands on the right merchandise, that can certainly be arranged.

It was supposed to be in and out, but no job ever goes according to plan. Now it’s a race against the clock to get to safety with an all-too-familiar enemy on their tails. But justice, it seems, picks the most inopportune times to show up.

Everything they thought they had is at stake as Tabitha must settle the war within herself: what’s more important? Her own freedom or those less fortunate than her?

Roanoke by J.E. Purrazzi (www.jillanepurrazzi.com)

How far would you go to save your enemies?

The invention of trans-time communication has locked Ketera’s bloodline into a single destiny. A destiny that Ketera has been preparing her whole life to fulfill. While her friends mapped out their hopes and dreams, she mapped her voyage across the stars–a voyage to a lost colony on a dangerous water-covered planet that will one day declare war on Earth.

Two ships have been sent: one negotiating for peace, the other prepared for war. If Ketera’s mission as ambassador fails, the warship following in her wake will take whatever measures are necessary in order to protect the future.

But the road ahead of Ketera is dangerous, and her mission will take her away from everything familiar, across a planet of violent extremes, and into the frozen, sunless expanse. And all to save her enemies.

Kamynosa’s Labyrinth by Beth Wangler (www.bethwangler.com)

Princess Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone’s help. Anyone could see she will be quite capable of being the Archipelago’s Archon on her own.

But her parents haven’t noticed that. No, they have called for a Labyrinth.

Disgruntled and eager to prove she can do it alone, Kamynosa commandeers a boat and joins the Labyrinth to win herself. She has every confidence that she will soar past the other competitors on the sparkling seas.

Yet Captain’s Heir Jadairos obnoxiously stays close in her wake.  Even worse—he has a hero complex.

Proving that Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone just got a bit more challenging.

Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea by E.B. Dawson (www.ebdawsonwriting.com)

An unorthodox professor of archaeology sets off to find his own answers about an unusual archaeological find, accompanied by an accident-prone student in need of extra credit.

The Archaeological Society of Catalan has pieced together a long and rich history for the planet of Illiana, based on a revolutionary dating system. But Dr. Barnaby Brown has his doubts about the accuracy of the procedure, which tends to give out false readings. His private findings seem to suggest that nothing on the planet is more than 500 years old–a hypothesis which, if proven true, would shake the very core of society.

When a set of incongruous new artifacts turn up, Barnaby learns they are inextricably linked to an old legend surrounding the Glass Sea. With an accident-prone student in tow, he sets out to find answers for himself and embarks on an adventure he never bargained for.

Through the Lens by K.L.+Pierce (www.klpiercebooks.com)

Viatem is here…and Dion does not have a gift for his younger sister.

Thankfully, he has a backup plan: a telescope that can see into the next galaxy.

But when completing the telescope means breaking into an enemy military installation, Dion will have to look within himself, and decide whether cutting through the shadows of his sister’s world is worth the price.

Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula by Kyle Robert Shultz (www.kylerobertshultz.com)

Any wizard can fly a spaceship. Hotshot pilot Ric Vayne can fly one better than most. But just as he’s about to land a job that could finally pay off his bar bill, he finds himself pressed into service by a deranged captain.

That wouldn’t be so bad…except that Ric isn’t expected to fly the ship. When he wakes up after getting kidnapped, he discovers that he is the ship.

Which is a bad thing for many reasons–including, but not limited to, the fact that Ric no longer has fingers to hold his spellblaster. If Ric is ever going to get his soul out of a computer core and back into his body, he’ll have to be very clever about it.

But he’ll also have to work fast…because he’s headed for Ghoul Nebula, a place of pure chaos magic. And no pilot–or  ship–gets out of there alive.

The Underground by Janelle Garrett (www.janellegarrettwriter.com)

What if everything you believed was actually true?

His whole life, Kef has been told he is too idealistic. His older sister, Hiya, insists the Deep is a lost memory. It disappeared from the Raized Domains centuries ago.  Kef wants to believe the Domains haven’t been abandoned, but everything points to the contrary. Their parents mysteriously vanished. People keep turning up dead or missing.

And then, Hiya is taken by the feared Dragons.

Kef will stop at nothing to rescue her, including traversing to the Underground itself to take on the Dragons. What he finds there will change the whole sphere: but will he be too late to rescue Hiya?

This Pain Inside by Hannah Heath (www.hannahheathwriter.com)

The Poison that destroyed the surface has come to claim the deep. It is severing electricity lines, imploding underwater houses, and destroying the solar power rafts humanity uses as its energy source. The Neons, people who act as hosts for a magical force, are fighting an ever-losing battle to keep the Poison at bay.

But that isn’t any of Charlie’s business. All Charlie can think about is finding a cure for her chronic pain. After all, she is too tired and too weak to help fight the Poison. If she can just make the pain go away, maybe then she’ll be worth something. Maybe then she’ll become useful enough and strong enough to join the fight.

But when the Poison begins to threaten what little family she has left, Charlie may just have to rethink her views on pain, worth, and what makes a person strong.


There you are! I hope you’re looking forward to it like I am! Happy birthday to Strange Waters! *throws confetti*

Do you like anthology collections? I’m often hit or miss on short stories but I’m definitely looking forward to these!

Strayborn by E. E. Rawls: Review/Giveaway/Tour!

I’m so excited to be on the blog tour for this gorgeous fantasy debut from E. E. Rawls today!

Read on for my review of this delightful book, and make sure to scroll to the end of the post for more info about the book and a giveaway!


(Isn’t it GORGEOUS?? *dies*)

Title: Strayborn

Author: E. E. Rawls

  • Date read: October 17, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Christian Fantasy
  • Age: Middle Grade and up
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 349 (Kindle)
  • Series: Draev Guardians, #1
  • Fave character: Nephryte
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a complimentary e-ARC of this book from the author for the blog tour and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

That was delightful! A unique and thrilling MG adventure, which I enjoyed very much despite being older than the target audience. I think readers of all ages will find this Christian Fantasy story a delight, especially if you like academy stories! (Think Harry Potter, Knightly Academy, Ewan Pendle, etc.) It’s exciting and not without its bouts of tragedy, but it’s also full of heart and fun and it makes me happy. I keep smiling just thinking about it! 🙂

I loved getting to know Cyrus (our quiet heroine who has hidden strength) and the other misfit students at the Draev academy, a school for those with Ability. Their different Abilities/powers were so intriguing, though I don’t want to give anything away about them. 😉 The characters also struggle with very real issues, like Cyrus’s weak wrists, the prejudice against the people who are different, or the issues between the different races—humans, vempars, faeryns, etc. And there is a Christian element at the center, providing a moral compass and direction for the characters.

Speaking of characters . . . Master Nephryte is THE COOLEST. I love the young magical mentor type character. He gives me slight Chrestomanci vibes and I love how he puts up with his students despite their shenanigans and is such a wise, sturdy character, but still with a sense of fun. Plus, I mean, wind powers. He’s so epic and just the absolute best!

The characters were all so real and such a delightful misfit bunch. Cyrus, of course, and Aken, the other main character—who sometimes could be annoying but other times I loved. But he’s a troublemaker, so. 😉 I especially loved Mamoru who is so fascinating and mysterious. And others who would take too long to list here. I love all the character-growth going on! Character arcs are my favorite. Even some of the side characters I didn’t think I liked ended up becoming very intriguing. I can’t wait to read more in the series and find out more about all the characters and their secrets and backstories! Aaahh! I’m sooo curious. 😀

This world is Eartha, a sort of alternate fantasy world that’s somewhat like Earth but different. The blend of modern times and old-fashioned feel, with fantasy and a dash of almost-steampunk-but-not-quite, was so unique, as were the twists on things such as the “vempars” who are like vampires but . . . not. The worldbuilding was a delight and I was utterly drawn in and fascinated to spend time in this world. I can’t wait to come back to it someday!

The plot kept me on my toes and even while mixing familiar elements—like a magical-ish academy, a contest to determine who would enter the Duel, and a heroine pretending to be a boy—I never suspected what was going to happen next and it was all delightfully fresh and so much fun. It stole my heart. An excellent beginning to a new series, and a splendid debut novel!

If you’re on the lookout for a unique Christian Fantasy tale, perfect for middle-graders or any lovers of fantasy, full of twists and mysteries and a cast of characters who quickly grow on you, STRAYBORN is your book. 🙂 I enjoyed it so much and I need more!


About Strayborn

Elemental Manipulation is a tricky business. Only those with the power can train to become a Draev Guardian.

Cyrus Sole hates life. She’s only half-human, with weak wrists, and not a day goes by when someone doesn’t say something mean about it—especially her step-mom. But when the forbidden power to manipulate metal awakens inside her, she finds herself on the run as the Argos Corps is sent to kill her…

Aken is a Scourgeblood, the last in a line of monsters. But all he really wants is to gain wings and be free. Until a new power suddenly awakens, changing the course of his life…

The Draev Guardian Academy is their only sanctuary. But training to become a Draev won’t be easy. Cyrus has to hide her human side, as she gets placed in Floor Harlow with the outcast students, and nightmares of her deceased mother keep returning.

With creepy Corpsed on the prowl, and whispers of Cyrus possibly being a reborn Hero, both she and Aken find themselves caught up in a web of secrets, racial tension, and an old legend with enemies that could spell their untimely demise…

—This book is a good fit for those who’ve enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy world-building, and the fun of J.K. Rowling.


Book Links

AMAZON | KINDLE | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

FREE prequel story


Author Bio

E.E. Rawls is the product of a traveling family, who even lived in Italy for 6 years. She loves exploring the unknown, whether it be in a forest, inside a forgotten castle, or within the pages of a book.

She runs on coffee, cuddly cats and the beauty of nature to keep the story wheels of her mind running, as she writes tales that will both entertain and inspire others, giving them worlds they can explore and become lost within.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM


Giveaway!

Prizes are:

First place: One hardback copy of Strayborn, and one Percy Jackson soy/vegan homemade candle by A Court Of Candles.

Second and Third place: One ebook copy of Strayborn.

Ends on Monday, October 21.

ENTER HERE!


Free Prequel Ebook!

Also, be sure to check out STORM & CHOICE, a free prequel short story before Strayborn, which gives a quick taste of this world and these characters!

Cyrus Sole, a girl who can manipulate metal, and Aken-Shou the last Scourgeblood, must learn to survive in a world that is determined to either destroy them, or use them…

This ebook is available FREE at Rawls’s newsletter: eerawls.com


What do you think? Make sure you check out the rest of the tour! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Seventh City by Emily Hayse: Tour Spotlight!

Hey guys!

Today I’m excited to be on the blog tour for Seventh City, which came out this week and looks gorgeous and epic and is Alaskan Fantasy! How cool is that?

Check out this amazing table display for it at Realm Makers with a real antler and real pine branches! 😀

I got to hang out with the author, Emily Hayse, a little at Realm Makers again this year, and she is such an absolutely lovely person! I really enjoyed hanging out with her at Starbucks and around the bookstore and conference! So excited to read her work. ^_^

Slightly blurry pic (sorry!) of the authoress herself at her table — with the all-important chocolate!

Read on for all the info about this awesome-sounding book!


“Have you heard of a place called Inik Katsuk?” The world seems to have gone quiet again.

Inik Katsuk, the Seventh City.

I nod.

“Have you seen it?”

“I have only heard of it in tales.”

“And do you believe them, these tales?”


Seventh City
by Emily Hayse

“Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time . . . .”

All her life, thirteen-year-old Maki has heard tales of the legendary city of gold, buried deep in the northern frontier. But when her village is burned and her brother captured by cruel invaders, the legend becomes desperately real.

Armed with a wolf-dog and a heart of courage, Maki sets out on a journey that will demand all her strength and cunning. She is determined to bring her brother home at all costs. Yet as her quest leads her deep into a wilderness of ancient dangers, Maki realizes that even for her, some prices are too high to pay.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository


EMILY HAYSE is a lover of log cabins, strong coffee, and the smell of old books. Her writing is fueled by good characters and a lifelong passion for storytelling. When she is not busy turning words into worlds, she can often be found baking, singing, or caring for one of the many dogs and horses in her life. She lives with her family in Michigan.

Instagram: @songsofheroes
Twitter: @theherosinger
Website: emilyhayse.com
Facebook: /theherosinger


Blog Tour Stops


What do you think? Doesn’t it sound so intriguing? Thanks for reading!

Midnight’s Curse by Tricia Mingerink: Blog Tour Spotlight!

Midnight's Curse Blog Tour Mock-Up

Welcome to the blog tour for Midnight’s Curse, book two in the Beyond the Tales series by Tricia Mingerink.

I’m always up for a Cinderella retelling, and I’ve heard amazing things about this book, so I’m so excited to read this one! 😀

Beyond the Tales is a series of fairy tale retellings with hints of allegorical elements set in a world based on the Appalachian Mountains.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this blog post nor the invite to the Facebook party for more giveaways!


About the Book

Midnight's Curse_Internet UseThe glass slippers might be her dreams come true…or her worst nightmare. 

High King Alexander rules the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia—a divided nation on the brink of yet another war. When an invitation arrives from the king of Pohatomie, Alex knows it must be a trap, but could it also be his opportunity to unite the kingdoms?

Daemyn Rand has lived a hundred years, served an arrogant prince, fallen in love with a princess, and lost himself somewhere along the way. He has already died for his loyalty. Will standing at the high king’s side cost him his last chance to truly live?

Elara Ashen is a lowly, miserable servant. All she wants is to spend even one night in a fancy dress dancing with the high king. When she is offered a pair of glass slippers, it seems that all her dreams have come true.

But dreams have a price, and gifts can be curses in disguise. What will it cost to stop this curse from tearing Tallahatchia apart yet again?

Fairy tales meet the Appalachian Mountains in this adventurous fantasy retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

Add to GoodreadsBuy on Amazon


Dreamy green color forest

The first book in the series — Dagger’s Sleep, a Sleeping Beauty retelling where the prince is cursed to sleep and the princess must wake him — is on sale for $.99 on Kindle! Follow this link to snag this deal while it lasts!


About the Author

DSC09450-2

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.

You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Facebook Party!

Facebook Party Announcement

The Facebook party should be a blast with giveaways of Midnight’s CurseDagger’s Sleep, and over ten other Cinderella retellings by indie authors! Follow this link to join the Facebook party. 


Giveaway!

Blog Tour Giveaway

Enter to win signed copies of Dagger’s Sleep and Midnight’s Curse (it will be the actual copy, not a proof copy as shown) as well as a Currently Reading 4oz candle from Novelly Yours Candles.

Due to shipping, the giveaway is open to the US only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday – August 5

Tuesday – August 6 – Release Day!

Wednesday – August 7

Thursday – August 8

Friday – August 9

Saturday – August 10


Doesn’t it sound intriguing? I can’t wait to read it! Are you a fairy tale retelling fan? And what’s the best Cinderella you’ve read? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Mechanical Heart by Sarah Pennington

It’s release day for Mechanical Heart and GUYS I’M SO, SO STOKED THAT THIS BOOK IS OUT IN THE WORLD! 😀

Read on for my review, or just, you know, go get the book RIGHT NOW because it’s Steampunk Rapunzel set in a clocktower, written by one of my favorite authors, and you just need it in your life!

First, a bit about the book, the author, and the Golden Braids blog tour!


Mechanical Heart

Can you save someone who doesn’t know if she’s alive?

Breen lives locked away, separated from the world by the walls of her clock tower and the machine of gems, gears, and magic that replaces her heart. That is, until an unexpected visitor appears in her tower, offering a dangerous gift: freedom. His promises awaken hope for a life unbound by the tower walls — but she knows that if he learns about her heart, it’s only a matter of time before he turns on her.

Josiah is powerless. Though he’s the crown prince of the mighty Chanian empire, he feels stifled by his inability to protect his people from the schemes of corrupt nobles. When he discovers a girl trapped in a locked clock tower, he thinks he’s finally found a problem he can solve . . . but more than just walls keep her captive.

From the royal palace to the streets of Rivenford to the tops of clock towers, secrets hide around every corner in this steampunk retelling of Rapunzel. Breen and Josiah hold the keys to each other’s struggles — if they can break down the barriers that divide them.


About the Author

Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Second Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Amazon


Tour Info

The Golden Braids are five retellings of Rapunzel by five different authors, each unique in tone, setting, and moral. This collection has something in it for every reader.

Check out the full tour schedule and the (US) giveaway for three of the books in paperback, HERE!


(*dies because the cover is SO AMAZING*)

Title: Mechanical Heart

Author: Sarah Pennington

  • Date read: August 6, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars!
  • Genre: Steampunk / Fairy tale retelling / Rapunzel / Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 398 (ebook)
  • Source: I received a free e-ARC of this book for the blog tour and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

THIS BOOK! I’ve been so excited for it and anxiously awaiting its release FOREVER and now it’s finally here and aaahhh! I. loved. it. The premise is the coolest ever: Steampunk Rapunzel in a clock tower. By one of my favorite authors. Um, yes please!

I was utterly hooked from the first chapter and I absolutely love this world, these characters, and the writing style!

The characters! I adored them. The story is really about friendships (instead of the expected romance—though to be honest, I will admit I was totally shipping people for some future time after the book. XD *cough*) which was pretty awesome! This little group of friends—I just love them! Especially the dynamics of the relationships, and how different they were.

Deaf characters and signing were an integral part of the story, which was fascinating! I loved how all of that played out—it was brilliant.

Also, the characters were so rational and actually thought things through instead of just dashing around being idiots, which was also different. XD (I mean, a few times I was all “I don’t care if that’s the rational choice—what about such-and-such a character and what if they diiiie? Noooo!” and I was on pins-and-needles wanting to know how it would turn out, but eheheh I never said I was a rational, just that they are. XD)

I . . . may have gotten super emotionally invested in these people and their story. 😛

I got so WORRIED and it was kind of intense! O_O Even though a lot of it wasn’t exciting all the time, it was still so GRIPPING and and just absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t stop reading.

It was brilliantly written and I have no idea how the author did it, especially with all the politics. It was all so cool and mysterious and the plot worked together and just—I don’t know! It was awesome! Like clockwork fitting together effortlessly, all the little gear-pieces turning and bringing you leaping across between each plot element and threading through the different storylines. I loved the writing, and the story kept being unexpected, and it was just SO GOOD.

Josiah and his notebook! Okay, so Prince Josiah’s awesome and I love how he keeps track of everything in his notebook. It’s the best! 😀 And I have no clue how he makes speeches and navigates politics and also runs around being awesome investigating stuff and still has time to be a stellar friend and brother. (I honestly got mad at Breen for pushing him away because he’s just trying to help and he’s the best, okay!) Love him.

Breen is a broken cinnamon roll of awesome and I was sooo invested in her story and just wanted her to have a happy ending! *flails around* She was so great and unique and well-written and relatable and yeah, I loved her. Also, her inventing skills are fabulous, which makes me happy. 😀

Grace is Josiah’s sister and you totally forget she’s a princess sometimes because she’s just so nice and outgoing and it’s awesome. 😀 She makes a fabulous friend and I also appreciated how, since she was deaf, that explained why Josiah is so good at signing and could therefore communicate with Breen. Because plot!

And there’s also Luis who fixes clocks and is the best-friend character and I LOVED him! He kept making me laugh but he wasn’t silly or anything, and his friendship with Josiah, and the girls, is the bessst. Everyone needs a Luis! And there were other characters (like Peter) who were also awesome.

THIS WORLD. I absolutely lived and breathed this world and felt so caught up in it! The steampunkery was awesome, and the dash of alchemy/magic/power-crystals that was a perfect blend of sciency/fantasy. And just the settings were so well-drawn, and the world and culture. The worldbuilding was absolutely fabulous and everything felt so incredibly well-thought-out and just WORKED. I totally want to come back to this world someday!

It’s so gorgeous but also has its shady, darker side, and the story doesn’t shy away from the tricky questions about life. The book is very full of secret plots and politics (sooo much debating and stuff, but it was fascinating) and moral dilemmas and all of that. Occasionally I had quibbles or just wanted everything to be okayyyy because my emotions did not sign up for this, but on the whole it was awesome. 😛

The Rapunzel elements were fabulous but also didn’t take over the story, which was cool—it’s very much its own book, just built around the trappings of the Rapunzel story. (Also, the villains. UGH. Madame Gottling and co. are so chilling!)

I haven’t read nearly enough steampunk, and I was so thrilled to get to read this one! It reminds me a little of some others in the genre (like by H.L. Burke, though a large percentage of my steampunk reads have been from that author so far. XD) but is entirely its own thing as well. I loved-loved-loved the clocktowers and the clocks and inventions and gears and just all of the steampunk-ness! (Also, check out the clock images in the chapter headers. It took me awhile to notice, but LOOK AT THEM. You’ll see what I mean. *grins*)

I can’t stop thinking about this book! I’ve hardly finished it and it already feels like I’ve known this book forever—it just feels so classic and awesome and has already settled in on my steampunky-favorites mental list!

I’m definitely going to want this one on my shelf—and you need it there too!

Mechanical Heart is a stellar steampunk Rapunzel tale, full of politics and friendships and clocks and the most epic worldbuilding. I can’t wait to go back and visit!


Favorite Quotes

There, he sat down in a most un-royal fashion. “We’ve found it, Luis!”

“Found what, Your Highness?” Luis raised an eyebrow. “Your common sense? I thought that was gone for good.”


You may also enjoy . . .

Beggar Magic Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Trial Illusionarium


Doesn’t it sound AMAZING?? And what’s the best steampunk you’ve read? I need more recommendations! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Molly Storm by Annie Louise Twitchell

It’s Golden Braids release week! *cheering*

The Golden Braids are a collaborative release of five Rapunzel retellings by five different authors. Each book is very different, and I’m here to review one of them today (and I’ll be back tomorrow to review another one)!

You can enter a US giveaway for paperbacks of three of the books, and find the full tour schedule, HERE!

Today I’m reviewing Molly Storm, a Rapunzel short story by Annie Louise Twitchell!

First, a bit about the tale and the author . . .


About the Book

A witch, a pirate, a lighthouse, and… seaweed? Molly Storm is a short story inspired by the tale of Rapunzel.

“You and I, lass, we’re both sides of the same coin. We’re both the heart of the ocean, but you’re more the kindness and goodness. I’m the storms that crush ships. Don’t cross me, Molly. I’ll crush all the sweetness out of you.”

Find the book: Goodreads || Amazon


About the Author

Annie Louise Twitchell is a homeschool graduate who is obsessed with dragons and fairy tales. She enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and many forms of art. When she’s not writing, she can often be found reading out loud to her cat, rabbit, and houseplants, or wandering barefoot in the area around her Western Maine home.

Find her online: Blogspot || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter || Author site


Title: Molly Storm

Author: Annie Louise Twitchell

  • Date read: July 27, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Short Story
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 35 (ebook)
  • Source: I received a free e-ARC of this story for the blog tour and all opinions are my own.

(I love this cover!)

This was such a unique, fascinating take on Rapunzel, set in a lighthouse — which is perfect! I loved that it was such a quick and easy read, since it’s a short story, but still manages to really grab hold of you and keep you thinking about it. It’s a little bit haunting and super atmospheric and feels totally like a cloudy day above a rocky coast, which I loved!

It could also get a little dark here and there, and there were one or two things I didn’t care for, but on the whole I really enjoyed it. 🙂 I think I expected something a bit different, and almost can’t decide if I was disappointed some of the things I wanted to happen didn’t happen, or that it’s awesome because I couldn’t predict it. XD But what I did get was a very intriguing and different story, populated with memorable characters.

They were sooo interesting — and it was especially unique how it was told from the point of view of the witch from Rapunzel, the titular Molly Storm (love that name!), which made it so different. The pirate captain was so well written and chilling and I kind of loved reading his dialog even while I was shivering. XD The Rapunzel character was sweet, and I really liked Matteo, even if I wanted him to be in it more. XD

The stormy sea-side “feel” was my favorite part and I liked how well-knit-together it was, how several years was depicted so well in such a short space. If you want a short, slightly dark but with some hope, fantasy tale in a lighthouse by the sea with scary pirates and an unexpected twist or two, with more of a mother-daughter feel, this Rapunzel story is for you. 🙂


Do you like nautical stories? And what’s your favorite Rapunzel retelling? — besides Tangled! 😉 Thanks for reading! 🙂