Blog

The Turning Point Earns Another Accolade!

The Turning Point, the third and final installment in The ELI Chronicles, was awarded Honorable Mention from Writer’s Digest in its 2020 Self-Published E-Book Awards! WD recognizes a Winner and two Honorable Mentions in each genre category. The Turning Point was entered in the Fantasy category. (Each category Winner continues to compete for the Grand Prize Winner.)

“An incredibly original story I escaped into easily!”

— Judge, 8th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards

As an Honorable Mention, The Turning Point earned a book sticker, certificate, $50 gift certificate to the Writer’s Digest Shop, and an announcement on WritersDigest.com in June 2021. In addition, contestants receive category evaluations (shown numerically, from 1 to 5), as well as written feedback from a judge. In category feedback, “1” indicates “needs improvements” up to “5” which is “outstanding.”

Below is feedback from the judge who reviewed The Turning Point:

Woo-hoo!!! I was so thrilled by the judge’s feedback. It’s affirmation that my hardwork to improve my craft and storytelling is paying off! YAY!!! Learning is an ongoing commitment and I have every intention of continuing to expand my knowledge as a writer and storyteller. Thank you for sticking with me in this journey!!!

Note: I will provide a link when Writer’s Digest posts all award winners on its website in June!

LAYLA Earned 4.5 Crazy-town Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

WARNING…

If you take a trip and wind up in Crazy-town, you’re not even halfway to the twisted destination titled Layla.

Seriously. Consider yourself warned!

MY TEASE…

Twenty-two-year-old Layla is a free spirit—unafraid and uninhibited. So when the band at her sister’s wedding, located in Kansas at a rural bed and breakfast, inspires absolutely no one to dance, she doesn’t care. Layla dances anyway. By herself.

Who would have guessed that her awful dancing would be the catalyst to finding musician Leeds Gabriel, her possible soulmate? And that their one night of passion would turn into several inseparable weeks?

Sadly, dreams can turn into nightmares quickly.

When Layla answers the door at Leeds’s home, his ex shoots her in the head. During her slow recovery plagued with amnesia and cognitive confusion, she learns that Leeds was also shot before he managed to kill his former girlfriend.

To rekindle all they have lost between them since the horrid event, Layla agrees to let Leeds take her back to the B and B (now empty and for sale) where they fell in love. But instead of growing together, Layla is growing more and more afraid. Terrified. Desperate. Nothing is making sense at the B and B. And the cuts on her wrists from being tied to the bed warn her that her life is still in grave danger.

THOUGHTS…

For those of you who have read this book, you may be wondering why my tease wasn’t written from Leeds’s perspective, since he is the protagonist and narrator of this story. Well, Layla was the only character driving me to finish this book! For me, the character of Leeds Gabriel was that despicable! In my opinion, Leeds is the worst kind of partner someone could have—the kind who would hurt a person to get what he wants and thinks he deserves. 

Why the deduction of a half star?

Instead, maybe I should explain why I rated Layla so high.

I place the greatest weight (when awarding stars) with how compelled I am to learn the answers to a book’s lingering questions and to discover the root causes of the conflicts within the pages. And Layla certainly delivered. I wasn’t going to put this crazy book down until I learned what the heck was going on!!!

The half-star deduction was associated with Leeds’s repetition of his internal thoughts. The decision-making pattern for this character was obvious early-on: the reader learns that he never changes his mind about taking a course of action, even though he goes through the process of analyzing the pros and cons. Yet, as a reader, I’m forced to listen to his internal whining and his pity-party guilt trips, knowing full well he’s going to do the “very bad thing” anyway! This drawn-out analyzing (because Leeds does MANY bad things) slowed the book down a bit.

QUICKFIRE RATINGS from 1 (ugh) to 5 (woo-hoo)…

Plot (the story): 5

Main character’s likability: 1

Likability of supporting character(s): 3

Settings: 5

Pacing (how fast did I turn the pages): 4

Believability of story: 3

Satisfying ending: 3

Tension of story: 5

Stirs the heart (romantic elements): 1

Did I solve the mystery/guess the ending before the reveal? No (5)

OVERALL:

I can’t really say that all the elements of this book were believable, but they were compelling enough to keep me turning the pages. As a result, I recommend this freakish ride! The book leaves Crazy-town in the dust!

Five Brilliant (but Raunchy) Stars

MY TEASE…

Thirty-year-old Camille Preaker had left her miserable hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, the first chance she got. She moved north to Chicago and became a reporter for the Daily Post. She had always been a writer of sorts, cutting words with sharp objects into her skin as a permanent record. Each word tingled with the memory of a painful childhood scar, like the death of her sickly and beloved younger sister, Marian.

Turns out, not a lot had changed in Wind Gap since Camille left. Young girls were still dying.

With Camille’s connection to the small town, her newspaper sends her back “home” in hopes she will break the story that leads to the serial killer’s identity.

Dormant words on Camille’s skin awake with her return because the darkest of secrets hide behind the Victorian, Southern charm of Wind Gap. Will Camille unravel their truth before another girl dies or the past ensnares her?

THOUGHTS…

I gave SHARP OBJECTS five stars because of its amazing plot. I did not accurately guess the murderer! Kudos to the author for that!

Without the twisty plot that kept me glued to learning the truth, the book probably wouldn’t have worked for me. Personally, I want to like a story’s protagonist and unfortunately, I didn’t really like anyone in this story.

Take Camille: the author made her narrative so raunchy and crude at times, that it threw me out of the story, and I don’t consider myself a prude.

Here’s an example. Camille went to interview the father of one of the murdered girls. The house is a mess, as one might expect after a tragedy. The only clean room left is a bedroom, so the father takes Camille there to talk. Here’s Camille’s internal thoughts:

“We could have been day players in an amateur porn flick.”

And then…

“He needed no foreplay for the interview, and I was grateful. It’s like sweet-talking your date when you both know you’re about to get laid.”

Really? Camille’s thinking about porn when interviewing a grieving father whose child had been murdered and all of her teeth had been removed? Seriously?

And the author could not resist the foreign pubic hair tactic to incite a gag.

“Someone else’s pubic hair floated by.”

Well, thank you very much for sharing.

Finally, there’s a lot of stickiness, vomiting, and lingering smells in this book. I was like … Gillian Flynn, PLEASE let Camille take a normal shower/bath to clean herself for once! LOL!!!

QUICKFIRE RATINGS from 1 (ugh) to 5 (woo-hoo)…

Plot (the story): 5

Main character’s likability: 2

Likability of supporting character(s): 2

Setting(s): 5

Pacing (how fast did I turn the pages): 5

Believability of story: 5

Satisfying ending: 5

Tension of story: 5

Stirs the heart (romantic elements): 1

Did I solve the mystery/guess the ending before the reveal? No (5)

OVERALL:

In the end, the plot, not the characters, won me over. A brilliant execution of a dark psychological thriller!

Four Slithering Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Tease…

In THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES, the tenth Hunger Games are about to begin, more than a half-century before Katniss Everdeen would make her debut as a fierce tribute and become the thorn in the side of Panem’s President Snow.

At the age of 18, the presidency is far from Coriolanus Snow’s thoughts. A senior in the Capitol’s prestigious Academy, all the young Snow wants is to graduate and attend a university. Trouble is, the war left him orphaned and poor, living with his grandmother and cousin in his parents’ aging penthouse. The depth of his poverty is a secret, of course, and he is quite adept at making acquaintances believe the Snow name still means something.

The Gamemaker is adding a new twist to the then unpretentious Games: twenty-four of the Capitol’s brightest Academy students will be paired with a District tribute. The student mentor of the winning tribute will be awarded a scholarship to attend a university. Coriolanus has every intention of winning that prize.

When the Gamemaker assigns him to tribute Lucy Gray of District 12, however, he thinks his dream is stone-cold dead. That is, until his tribute sings like a songbird and everybody listens. Including his heart.

Like the Districts and the Capitol, songbirds and snakes are very aware of each other, always moving and counter moving to keep a safe distance. And if they should happen to collide in a whirlwind of emotion, only trust could make the unexpected bond work.

Will Coriolanus Snow push aside his predatory ways to help save his songbird? Or will his Capitol inspired venom be too difficult to suppress?

Thoughts…

I’m going to confess that I knew rating this book was going to be challenging from the get-go. First, the Hunger Games is one of my favorite YA trilogies. Second, and most importantly, Katniss Everdeen ranks as my ALL-TIME favorite heroine…like EVER. (Thank you, Susanne Collins!)

That’s a high bar for this book to be compared with. At four stars, I’m admitting the prequel didn’t reach the bar, mainly for two reasons:

First, I prefer reading books where I’m rooting for the protagonist. Although I found Coriolanus’s backstory very interesting, I wasn’t rooting for him. Maybe if I didn’t already know that he had decided to embrace his slithering snake-ness, I might have held on to hope.

Frankly, I felt emotionally detached from all the characters except one: Sejanus, a supporting character who risked everything for his beliefs.

Second, while many books suffer from sagging middles, this book did not! Readers are in the throws of the Hunger Games, wondering if Lucy Gray is going to survive. However, that left a sloooow-paced third act. It picked up a tad at the end but still left me in need of an energy drink.

I did enjoy the many insertions of symbolism. For example, Coriolanus detested the mockingjay, a bird symbolic of “District survival” despite the best efforts of the Capitol. On the other hand, he admired the jabberjay, a bioengineered “weapon” symbolizing the Capitol’s ingenuity to exert control over District rebels. Both birds sang, though for very different reasons. Coriolanus struggled, though not very earnestly, in classifying which kind of songbird Lucy Gray and Sejanus were.

Overall…

I appreciated learning the backstory of the Hunger Games from a different perspective; however, it’s difficult to fully connect with a story without having characters who deeply bind you to it. Of course, Susanne Collins is a fabulous storyteller and writer! And I give her kudos for challenging herself to add to an already brilliant trilogy! I’m very glad I read THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES.

If only I didn’t wish this book had been about Katniss’s early childhood instead of Snow’s teenage years!

Vivid, Gory, and Entertaining

THE RAVEN AND THE EYE by Jeffrey Caston earned 4.5 wide-eyed stars from me!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Tease…

Many words describe Kurt Giffords: brilliant, eccentric, illusive, and unhinged. However, he prefers to be called the Raven, Seattle’s vigilante whose life mission is to violently execute “an eye for an eye” in the name of justice.

The people of Seattle desperately need the Raven’s unique talents.

An unsightly monster has focused on the Raven’s airspace. In a blink of an eye, the streets of Seattle are dripping with blood and the Raven has no intentions of looking the other way.

Does the Raven possess the strategic vision to outwit his bizarre opponent? Or will the vigilante see his last daylight?

Thoughts…

STORY:

This is a brief, entertaining story showcasing the author’s great imagination. I’m thinking few authors could pull off having a three dimensional car-sized eyeball as a monster! I think Caston did an awesome job. The uniqueness of the monster actually reminded me of one that could’ve been found in James Dashner’s The Maze Runner.

WRITING:

Wow! This author has a real gift in description, creativity, and action scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed his writing!!!

Here’s a sample:

“The attack only managed to make a superficial gash, but the effort yielded a rewarding sickly yellow seepage tinged with tendrils of purple.”

This short story overflows with vivid details!!!

I also enjoyed the Raven’s inner monologue…

“Lacking any better information, the press attributed the deaths to a vicious gang of thugs. The Raven knew better. Thugs didn’t partially consume their victims.”

Overall…

Vivid, gory, and entertaining, this short story is a great imaginative read! I’m keeping my eye on what’s next for this author 😉 !

4.5 Relevant and Imaginative Stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Tease…

Victoria doesn’t consider herself much of a leader, except when she’s leading patrons like George out of her Berlin bar at closing. So when she wakes up on a foreign planet and reunites with George, forced to follow a path in a forest leading to a mysterious dome, she feels more like a confused prisoner than one chosen for a special purpose.

Bewilderment turns to utter disbelief. Victoria learns The Collector has intentionally selected her, as well as all the Earthlings teleported to the planet. More mind boggling, as a human slated for top leadership, Victoria learns the answers to her many questions.

Some answers, she didn’t want to know.

Thoughts…

MESSAGE:

My favorite aspect of the two highly imaginative sci-fi & fantasy novellas I’ve read by author Stjepan Cobets (Black Seeds and The Collector) is how he weaves into them important societal messages. His themes really resonate with me. This book, for example, warns us of the destructive nature of greedy governments and scientists who disregard consequences on civilization in pursuit of global power.

In my opinion, his themes are relevant and timeless.

WRITING:

Although The Collector has a less distinctive cadence when compared to Black Seeds, this novella puts forth high-quality splashes of vividness.

“They were suddenly standing on the edge of a lake. And now they could see dozens of waterfalls that overflowed into the lake from many high cascades. The waterfalls created a haze on the lake’s surface, out of millions of little droplets. Countless rainbows flickered, transforming into a magical sight under the rays of the two suns.”

and…

“The figure in a vibrant grey robe spread his hands, and the podium melted beneath his feet, disappearing like ice in the sun. He was hovering a few centimeters above the ground and pointed right towards Victoria. The wide robe fluttered in the breeze around his ascetic body.”

Awesome descriptions 🙂 !

TENSION:

This was the one area that resulted in the drop from a perfect 5-star rating, though I gladly rounded up for the outstanding way this author weaves in his themes.

Here’s where I felt a tiny tad of disappointment: Reading about two characters in a dense forest—not knowing precisely where they were, how they had gotten to this foreign planet, and what their destinies would be—made me want to feel afraid. However, the banter between characters, especially between Victoria and George, was more sarcastic and flirtier than fearful. If the characters aren’t afraid, I’m not afraid.

Overall…

This author has important things to say (from my perspective) and I thoroughly enjoy reading his points of view within his tremendously creative stories and settings. THE COLLECTOR is a quick, thematically deep, and totally worthwhile read.

Latest Posts

The Turning Point Earns Another Accolade!

The Turning Point, the third and final installment in The ELI Chronicles, was awarded Honorable Mention from Writer’s Digest in its 2020 Self-Published E-Book Awards! WD recognizes a Winner and two Honorable Mentions in each genre category. The Turning Point was entered in the Fantasy category. (Each category Winner continues to compete for the Grand… More

LAYLA Earned 4.5 Crazy-town Stars

WARNING… If you take a trip and wind up in Crazy-town, you’re not even halfway to the twisted destination titled Layla. Seriously. Consider yourself warned! MY TEASE… Twenty-two-year-old Layla is a free spirit—unafraid and uninhibited. So when the band at her sister’s wedding, located in Kansas at a rural bed and breakfast, inspires absolutely no one… More

Five Brilliant (but Raunchy) Stars

MY TEASE… Thirty-year-old Camille Preaker had left her miserable hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, the first chance she got. She moved north to Chicago and became a reporter for the Daily Post. She had always been a writer of sorts, cutting words with sharp objects into her skin as a permanent record. Each word tingled with the… More

Four Slithering Stars

My Tease… In THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES, the tenth Hunger Games are about to begin, more than a half-century before Katniss Everdeen would make her debut as a fierce tribute and become the thorn in the side of Panem’s President Snow. At the age of 18, the presidency is far from Coriolanus Snow’s… More

Loading…

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Five Intense Stars

THE LOVELY BONES

5 Stars

My Tease…

Heaven’s Inbetween is for “the watchers,” those souls who aren’t ready to leave behind their connections to Earth. Souls…who have unanswered questions or unfinished business. Who haven’t learned to accept their deaths.

Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon is a watcher.

Although Susie knows that Mr. Harvey (whose house is in her neighborhood) raped and murdered her, none of the living know. At least Susie’s father and her younger sister Lindsey have growing suspicions about the loner who has a bird’s-eye-view of Susie’s junior high school and the adjacent sports- and corn- fields from his second floor window. Trouble is, the police have no evidence to implicate Mr. Harvey. All law enforcement knows is that the eccentric widower answers all their questions.

In her Inbetween Heaven, Susie has her own questions, only she doesn’t know the answers. Should she spend her time watching Mr. Harvey, in hopes that he will be stopped? Or should she watch her family as they struggle to accept her death and move forward?

Which focus will heal Susie so she can leave the Inbetween and transition to the Heaven intended to bring her peace?

Thoughts…

MESSAGE:

For me, THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold offers a spiritual message, which is remarkable since I don’t remember religion being mentioned once!

The story, however, is much more than its surface. From my perspective, THE LOVELY BONES addresses the ancient question of where we (the living and the dead not resting in peace) should focus. Should we focus on plucking out the weeds (like vile Mr. Harvey) in our “fields” of existence? Or…should we focus on growing the corn or wheat or soybeans (which when healthy, will choke out the weeds)?

This seems to be the very question character Susie Salmon struggles with.

I can empathize with this internal conflict, as I wanted more than anything to have Mr. Harvey plucked from the Earth and thrown into burning Hell. To be frank, it was this desired outcome that compelled me to flip the pages.

Spoiler alert…

In fact, I actually wanted to take away a star from my rating because… I didn’t get what I wanted for a long, long time. Mr. Harvey lived on and on and even became secondary in the story. I started shouting to the author…WHAT ABOUT MR. HARVEY??? He’s still on Earth STALKING AND KILLING young girls and women??? DO SOMETHING! NOW!!!

Years later, something FINALLY does happen to Mr. Harvey, but it feels more by chance than by intention.

But then I restored the star because… this is a story of acceptance and finding peace, not on delivering retribution. Of knowing what you can control and what you can’t. About growing and finding peace despite the evil lurking in cornfields or neighborhoods or parks or buses.

Not sure about you, but this focus and practice are difficult to achieve. Which is why the message is so important. Which grows peace faster…growing goodness or weeding out evil? The answer is certainly worth thinking about!

WRITING:

The writing is outstanding. Even the simplest sentences carry emotional weight:

“Inside, my sister’s heart closed like a fist.”

HUMOR:

No doubt, it is hard to interject humor into a story like this; however, there is some humor found:

“Grandma Lynn predicted I’d have a long life because I had saved my brother’s life. As usual, Grandma Lynn was wrong.”

OVERALL:

This was an intense read that offered a surprising message.

I highly recommend this 5-star read about finding acceptance and peace among the vilest of weeds.

Note: This book contains triggers regarding rape and sexual violence toward children, girls, and women.

julia signature

Consequences of the Seeds We Sow

BLACK SEEDS by Stjepan Cobets earned 5 thought-provoking stars from me!

Black Seeds

5 Stars

My Tease…

Conquering and defending Earthling colonies, those settled on foreign planets, were the priorities of Elton Nardy, Sergeant and Marine of the 401 Assault Brigade for the United World. Warring and killing consumed his existence. After all, once humans depleted natural resources on a planet, they had to move on to another and overtake it. How else could Earthlings survive and be profitable?

Then came the battle at Planet Kerrenas and everything changed for Elton. An encounter with horrifying creatures (Urums released from Black Seeds) forced him see the truth about himself and humankind. With his new knowledge, an unexpected transformation takes root.

And now, 200 years later, he’s telling the story and seeding an evolution of peaceful coexistence.

Thoughts…

MESSAGE:

For me, this story warns us about humankind’s tendency to disrespect, manipulate, and ravage natural resources. This arrogance leads to an imbalance in nature that will have dire consequences. In contrast, choosing to live in balance with nature will bloom harmony.

I like when an author uses unexpected characters to share a relevant message. This approach doesn’t make readers feel like the author is preaching to them.

WRITING:

I can tell that the author writes poetry because there is a pleasant rhythm and cadence to his writing. (And English is not even his first language! Wow!)

“The past must not be forgotten; knowledge should be learned from a bygone time and preserved for our future.”

and…

“Those creatures were barely a foot tall, with huge, glowing red eyes that blazed like hot embers on their triangular black heads. Beneath those eyes was a wide mouth filled with two rows of low dark-blue, razor-sharp teeth, through which putrid black saliva dripped down.”

HUMOR:

Whether intended or not, I chuckled at the name of one of the Urums: Ass Tassi.

“Elton rolled his eyes at the fleeting pain and thought, “That’s a little cruel of you, Ass.”

Lol 🙂

OVERALL:

I thoroughly enjoyed this short and creative novella that offers a poignant reflection into the selfish tendencies of humankind when it comes to nature. And with enlightenment of this flaw, seeds of hope are planted! I highly recommend this thought-provoking 5-star read! Loved it!

julia signature

Five Hope-Inspiring Stars

HUNGER FOR LIFE by Andy Marr earned 5 solid, hope-inspiring stars from me!

Hunger for Life

Five red stars

My Tease…

Whether a family member’s disease is contagious or not, no one in the family is immune to the sickness’s ill effects. Twenty-two-year-old James Barnes lives and breathes this reality. His younger sister Emma suffers from anorexia. At the same time, his whole family agonizes from not being able to cure her themselves.

After graduating from Edinburgh University, James comes home to start the next phase of his life. But guilt, frustration, anger, and sadness bring his forward motion to a screeching halt as he realizes his sister’s life has paused. She’s confined, for the time being, to St. Jude’s Hospital, in the Victoria Wing—a ward designated for those with eating disorders. Only, instead of blossoming once again, Emma is wilting away. From every angle, his precious sister is getting worse.

Meanwhile, everything outside of James’s homelife is moving forward. Yet, he’s stumbling because his questions have no clear answers: What can he do to make his sister better? How can he possibly achieve independence as an adult when his sister and family need him so much? Is there any hope at all to satisfying his own “hunger for life” when his sister is possibly starving to death?

Thoughts…

MESSAGE:

This story has a powerful message at its heart, reminiscent of the one inherent in the Serenity Prayer (by Reinhold Niebuhr). In HUNGER FOR LIFE, everyone in the Barnes family must learn what they can control and what they can’t control. Developing this understanding seems to be the start of healing, so the book has such a meaningful, uplifting, and hopeful message to share, even as the Barnes family faces an uncertain outcome. (You’ll have to read the book to learn about their journey.)

WRITING:

I was so impressed by the quality of the writing! Here are some examples:

“All around us, a sea of travellers moved like an unseen current, flowing like a wide river through the terminal.”

and…

“I’d stay up half the night, listening for danger—dry retching from the toilet, the rattling of a pill bottle, the rattle of death—and spend half the next day with my head propped against my chin.”

and..

“He’d spent so many years looking after number one, protecting his own interests, that not giving a fuck was almost a reflex.”

HUMOR:

In a story with plenty of bumps and bruises, the injection of humor was medicine to the soul. In most instances, I considered the humor understated, making it all the more enjoyable.

“The café was called Marvin’s Mochas, for no good reason at all. For one thing, its owner’s name was Giovanni, and for another the only coffee they sold came out of the industrial-sized bucket of Nescafé that stood behind the counter.”

COVER:

While the story and writing took hold of me and wouldn’t let me go, I’m admitting the cover didn’t grab me. Instead, the positive reviews for this book invited me in. In life, everyone knows you can’t judge a book by its cover. But in the literary world…covers often make or break a potential sale, so that’s why I mention it.

This was a memorable 5-star read on many levels. I highly recommend HUNGER FOR LIFE 🙂 !!!

julia signature

A wholesome folk tale for the entire family!

As a wholesome Beauty and the Beast retelling, Second Kingdom by Rebecca Reddell earned 4.5 virtuous stars from me (rounded up)!

Second Kingdom

My Tease…

The First Kingdom is dying. Flowers no longer bloom. Black eclipses the sun. Soil oozes with sludge. Diminishing crops threaten starvation. And “the sickness” plagues more and more townspeople.

Seventeen-year-old Roz knows who’s to blame for the curse tormenting her kingdom: the elusive and evil Beast. With pale blueish skin and fanged teeth, the Beast lives in the castle seen in the distance, ominously positioned between the First and Second Kingdoms—the only surviving realms after the last world war.

Alongside the children and young adults of First Kingdom, Roz has been training for the last ten years to destroy the Beast. If Roz and her fellow fighters kill him, most believe the curse will be broken.

The Beast (King Ezra), however, isn’t so sure his death will have the desired result, though he suspects that sacrifice is indeed part of the antidote. At least, Queen Ada of the Second Kingdom (known as the witch queen) eluded to this when she turned the handsome king into a horrid beast after he tried to wage war against her kingdom.

On the day Roz and the First Kingdom’s band of young-fighters storm Beast’s castle, something goes terribly wrong. If only Roz could remember how she ended up locked in one of the castle’s bedchambers with a concussion.

Will she survive her captivity? Can the curse be broken to save her kingdom? Is King Ezra as beastly as he looks?

Thoughts…

ROSES ARE RED:

Vibe: Second Kingdom generates the same inviting feel as the animated Disney classics that I love: Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Cinderella. A parent could read this story to their elementary-aged child and a middle schooler could read it themselves. Adults will enjoy it, too! There is something delightful and entertaining for everyone.

Personally, I didn’t consider Second Kingdom as a Young Adult novel. These days, YA tends to be edgy in language and content, similar to a PG-13 movie. In contrast, this book has the innocence and politeness that makes it ageless. The worst curse-word is “Dang it” and the deadliest weapon is a butter knife. (If I considered Second Kingdom as a YA, I would’ve rated it lower. For me, the genre is “Mythology and Folk Tales” for all ages.)

Banter: I loved the snarky and flirty exchanges between Beast and Roz. I also enjoyed conversations between Beast and his butler Buford. This banter was my favorite part of Second Kingdom since the basic plot of Beauty and the Beast is already a hit with me.

Easy Reading: This book is a quick, touching read! A family treasure, for sure! I can imagine reading this book aloud to the kids on a road trip. Everyone would enjoy 🙂

Theme: Second Kingdom is a story of finding love, learning to sacrifice, and not judging a book by its cover.

VIOLETS ARE BLUE:

Unnecessary details: Every now and then, too much time was spent on information that didn’t drive the plot forward or is universally known…like whether to ice or heat a shoulder injury or how to make a salad, for example. This temporarily wilted tension.

Repetition: There was a bit of repetition of concepts both in dialogue and narrative, though this might work perfectly for a younger reader.

ALL IN ALL, ENJOYMENT THROUGH AND THROUGH:

Second Kingdom is a wholesome folk tale for the entire family! (Writing innocent characters is refreshing!) This Beauty and the Beast retelling earned 4.5 sweet rosy-blooms from me!!!

Note: The cover is lovely!!!

julia signature