The Blood Race [exclusive excerpt]

Happy Monday, my lovelies!

Today, I’m participating in the blog tour celebrating the release of The Blood Race by K. A. Emmons! And, to spread the news, I’m giving you guys a special excerpt of one of my favorite scenes in the novel.

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But first…

The Blurb.

He’s spent his life running from who he is. She’s been trying to escape her past for 100 years…

Born with unexplainable abilities he struggles to control, college student Ion tries desperately to integrate into his new school and finally put his dark past behind him. But after making a serious enemy, which leads to an accidental rendezvous with the mysterious old man next door— and his hauntingly beautiful but troubled young protégée Hawk, Ion realizes his life will never be normal again.

Late one evening, Hawk drags him by the hand into a closet-turned-rabbit-hole to an extra dimension, and Ion finds himself stumbling involuntarily into a secret society of training for “anomalies,” teenagers with a special set of abilities. Just like him.

As they train to become Protectors of future Earth, battling each other as well as their own demons, both Ion and Hawk begin to realize that they are far more alike than they realized. Unsettlingly so.

When the Dimension is shaken by an unthinkable betrayal, will an ancient prophecy bring Hawk and Ion together—or will a deadly threat hidden in plain sight cost them both their powers… and their lives?


And now…

The Excerpt:

“Does he teach at a school close by or something?” I asked. “He wasn’t exactly clear.”

“Clarity isn’t his forte,” she replied, setting a plate down in front of me. “I hope you like eggs.”

I didn’t particularly, but I wasn’t about to be that guy.

“Thanks.”

She sat down across from me, that same scrutinizing look in her greenish brown eyes. I wasn’t sure which was more distracting—that or the music.

“Am I ever going to know your name?” I asked after what felt like an awkward amount of time had passed.

“You have a thing about names, don’t you?”

“Most people like to know someone’s name.”

She pondered this, resting her elbows on the table. “I’ll give you a name, then.”

I could tell by the way she said it that whatever followed would be anything but her real name.

“Hawk.”

“Hawk is your name?” I started poking at the eggs with my fork. “Like the bird?”

“Sure.”

There was something incredibly irritating about her. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. The music was still throwing me off.

“You’re making this up,” I told her finally. “I can tell by how you’re acting.”

For the first time her expression seemed vaguely amused. “You don’t know me, so you have no basis for what my norm is,” she said. “There’s no way for you to know whether I’m lying or telling you the truth.”

“It doesn’t matter.” I took a bite of food. “I only cared because flirting is easier when you know someone’s name.”

“Is it really.” She didn’t say it like a question, and I could tell it wasn’t one.

“Could you possibly turn that down?” I asked, glancing in the direction of the radio.

She raised an eyebrow. “Why, so you can flirt with me?”

“No, it’s just a little too loud,” I said. “But I could make the flirting thing happen too.”

“You don’t like this music?”

“Not particularly,” I said, swallowing another bite. “It’s a little annoying.”

“Why do you think it’s annoying?”

“I don’t know,” I said, my voice trailing off, and she put up a hand for me to stop. There was a thin circular tattoo wrapping her ring finger.

“Shh.”

“What?”

She motioned with her hand again. “Listen. Listen to it.”

For a moment I did, without even asking why. I set the fork down on the plate and pushed it away quietly. Her eyes met mine from across the table.

“Describe what it is you don’t like, exactly.”

I thought about her strange question.

I didn’t like the music, I didn’t like the beat, and I didn’t like the sound of his voice or the lyrics. There was, in fact, nothing about the song that I liked, but her question still brought my attention to every detail. I was starting to become aware that this was dangerous ground.

“The lyrics.”

“What about them?”

“Nothing particularly,” I said. “I just don’t like them.”

“Does it sound louder to you now than it did before?” Hawk asked, still not breaking eye contact. “Did you hear the volume change at all?”

I opened my mouth to reply but closed it again before any words could come out, listening.

The volume had changed. It was louder now.

“It sounds the same,” I lied, trying to ignore the intensity of her gaze.

“Are you sure about that?”

I nodded vigorously.

“What about—”

I cut her off before she could say anything else. I had no idea how she had found out about me, but I knew where she was taking this.

“Just stop, okay?” My voice rose as my hands went unconsciously up over my ears. “Don’t make me focus on it—I don’t want to think about it.”

I felt my heartbeat starting to pick up. When my hands fell away, the room was completely silent.

“That was strange, wasn’t it?” she asked slowly. “It suddenly stopped.”

“You turned it off,” I corrected.

“No.” She shook her head slowly. “I didn’t.”

I pulled in a sharp breath. “Look, I have to go.”

“Why?” she asked, folding her hands on the table in front of her. “Are you scared?”

“Of course not.” I tried to level out my voice. “What are you talking about?”

She looked at me hard for a moment before saying anything. “I think you know.”

I shook my head, but she persisted.

“Come back tonight, Ion.”

I stared at her for a moment. “Why?”

“Don’t ask why,” she said, rising. “Either come or don’t.”


The Author:

profile-imgWhen she’s not hermiting away in her colorfully-painted home office writing her next science fiction, passionate story-teller and adventurer Kate Emmons is probably on the road for a surf or hiking trip, listening to vinyls, or going for a power run.

 

Emmons lives in the often-snowy hills of rugged Vermont with her husband and dog named Rocket.

You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and her website.

 

 


Other Important Stuff:

TBR GRAPHIC 3.pngTHE ALL-IMPORTANT BUY-LINK.

Totally Graced kicked off the blog tour with this post. Abbie told us five reasons to read The Blood Race in this post. And here’s an interview with the author along with a mini-review.  And also a CHARACTER interview (lots o’ fun) here.


And that’s all for today, kids!

Have you heard of The Blood Race? What do you think of it from what you’ve heard? (OR, for those of you who have read it, what secrets can you share???????)

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – *insert cryptic-ness that makes next week’s post sound irresistibly enticing* ;)

Children of the Forgotten Cover Reveal

*cue theme song*

It’s not a Monday *theme song playing* and I just posted yesterday *theme song continues* but I’ve got book news to share with all you lovely people.

*theme song ends*

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SO, my faithful followers (and all the rest of you who haven’t figured out how to unsubscribe yet), I’m here in your inbox on a Tuesday.

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Oops, er, uh, wrong gif.

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(though I think we all wish I had gotten us all popcorn)

Charles Franklin, a friend of mine, will be releasing his debut novel–Children of the Forgotten: Anistemi Book I–in August! And today, I have the pleasure of sharing the fantastic cover and blurb with you!


The Blurb:

In a post-apocalyptic world, most people by age thirty have succumbed to The Sickness, a mysterious deadly illness. But the Sickness is not the only enemy for Collin Mann’s city. Hordes of deranged killers live in the hills around it. With few trained protectors, the future of the little city looks bleak.

Collin, fifteen years old, buries those the Sickness consumes. Slight and awkward, he shuns warrior training, avoiding the example of his big brother and guardian.

When killers attack at the watering hole, he’s called to step forward and defend. Instead, he freezes.

He’s ashamed. His people need him to fight. Can he do it? Or would a clumsy person like himself make any difference in the battle for existence?


The Cover:

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The Author:

charles-franklin headshot.jpgCharles was born and raised in Texas. From there, he joined the United States Army and has traveled the world. Along the way, he saw the most beautiful set of eyes he had ever seen. They belonged to a girl … and he married her right away. Twenty years later, they have three children and are finally headed back home to Texas for good.

Upon retiring from the Army after 23 years, Charles will continue to serve others as a teacher in the town he grew up in. When he’s not in the classroom, or spending time with his family, Charles writes stories about faith, love, hope, and adventure.

His debut novel, Children of the Forgotten: The Anistemi Book I, will release in August and he has already begun work on the second book in the trilogy. Charles is also writing an action thriller, and has begun outlining another series set in the Anistemi world.

You can find him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


AND, I have it on good authority that if you sign up for Charles’ newsletter, you’ll get a prequel story for Children of the Forgotten for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! So go check that out on his website.

Well, that’s all I got for today, kids!

What do you think of that swanky cover?? Do you read post-apocalyptic fiction? If not, do you think you might start?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – I also kind of will be receiving AN ARC FOR CHILDREN OF THE FORGOTTEN, so that means I’ll get to read it very, very, very soon. My little gremlin eyes are trained on my inbox, angsting for the ARC’s arrival.

21 (wildly amazing) Reasons to read The Girl Who Could See

It’s a Friday.

I know what we’re all thinking: “Why is there a Penprints post on a Friday? Is the world about to end or something?”

Well, we all know I’m practically married to my blogging schedule. It’s either a post on a Monday or Tuesday or nothing at all for three months (I’m obviously using “married” in the loosest sense of the term). Unless, of course, there’s something earth-shattering or it’s book news.

Well, today is a day for book news that’s earth-shattering!

I’m taking part in the blog tour celebrating the release of The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, and for my stop, I’ve decided to compile 21 (wildly amazing) reasons to read The Girl Who Could See.

Book info + giveaway(s) info at the end of this post!

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You should read The Girl Who Could See because…

1. I say so.  This = the best reason on this list.

2. Um… that cover. In the event that you haven’t seen me share it all over my social medias, here it is that you may behold its beauty.

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3. Um… that premise.

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4. It’s a primer for both the science fiction and fantasy genres (so if you don’t “get” those genres, you should read this book to get your feet wet).

5. The book hangover – part one.

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this = a good thing

6. It electrifies imagination. This is one of those books that makes me want to write epics and shout all the music at the top of my lungs and paint gorgeous art (mostly of the cover). Whenever I read it, my mind almost explodes with all the things I want to do!

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7. It engages emotions. I don’t tend to get too wrapped up in books when it comes to feelings (I mean, for the most part), but The Girl Who Could See had me completely engrossed emotionally. See “book hangover” reasons for further insight.

8. It’s a small book, and so you can read it fairly quickly. This one’s for you peeps who don’t want to invest hours upon hours reading a book; you can read The Girl Who Could See in a couple hours and then spend all your subsequent free time obsessing thinking about it.

9. The story is just so enjoyable. I haven’t enjoyed a story as much as this one in a lonnnnnnnng time; it’s just so wonderful to read.

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10. The book hangover – part two.

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believe me when I say this is a good thing

11. It’s YA (young adult fiction) without all the teenage drama and angst, which we definitely need more of can I get an “amen”?.

12. If you read it, you can message me so that we can gif-battle our feelings about this book.

13. The book hangover – part three.

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trust me, this is good.

14. I’m starting in on my third reading of The Girl Who Could See since February.  THIRD. For those of us who struggle with math, that means I’m going to have read The Girl Who Could See three times in five months (I had it for beta reading, and then again for review reading, AND THEN AGAIN JUST BECAUSE IT’S SO GOOD).

15. The number of copies I currently own. It’s approaching excessive just kidding, that’s not possible.  I own it on Kindle, I have a proof copy on its way to my house, two hard copies that arrived after I pre-ordered it, and then another hard copy that is currently somewhere between an Amazon warehouse and my bookshelf. That’s a lot of copies of just one book, but I NEED THEM ALL.

16. I hate the term and idea of “feels”, but I can honestly say that The Girl Who Could See gave me the feels. So this is basically a restatement of #6 because I can’t say it enough.

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17. The book hangover – part four.

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this is a good thing

18. The Girl Who Could See is a beautiful contribution to the art of storytelling.

19. You will want more. More of the characters. More of the story. More of friendship. More of adventure. More of the impossible.

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20.  The book hangover – part five.

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this definitely = good

21. I just really love this little book. And you obviously need alllllll the info about the book now that you are convinced that you should read it (because you’re convinced, right??? RIGHT????).


The Blurb:

tgwcs coverA Novella

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

Buy The Girl Who Could See here.

Add The Girl Who Could See on Goodreads here.


The Author:

kara.jpgAs the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seven- teen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Find Kara on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.


The Giveaways:

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As part of the blog tour, there’s a scavenger hunt giveaway going on! So, I’m giving you a clue, and then you go off to find the other clues at the other stops (listed below) to enter to win one of 5 signed copies of The Girl Who Could See!

The clue for Penprints:

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The stops (aka: where you go to get the rest of the clues).

Emily Bergstrom -> Emily Mundell -> Tabitha Caplinger -> A Little Thought Garden -> Meghan M. Gorecki -> Bethany Jennings -> Annie Louise Twitchell -> Gabriella Slade -> Abigayle Claire -> Sarah Baker -> Jebraun Clifford -> Emily Kopf -> Rosalie Valentine -> Kylie Gregory  -> Olivia Rose.

ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

Remember, I said giveaways. Emphasis on the plural there. I’m also hosting a little giveaway just for you, my wonderful followers. So, fill out the Rafflecopter entry form to enter to win a print (albeit, unsigned) copy of The Girl Who Could See!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A winner will be picked from my giveaway on June 18 and announced on June 19.

You should really just enter both giveaways so that the odds are a little more in your favor, just saying…


Did my (wildly amazing) reasons convince you to buy this fabulous book? Have you seen this book around your social media at all? What new book releases are you excited about?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – basically this post can be summed up in these 8 words: Everyone should read The Girl Who Could See.

P.P.S. – I feel like I deserve an award for giving 21 (wildly amazing) reasons without giving a single spoiler. If that’s not a feat worthy of recognition, I’m not sure what is. So whenever you kids wanna get me that award…. ;)

Exclusive Excerpt: Martin Hospitality + GIVEAWAY

Today is February 6, and that means that Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire was released two days ago, and I’m so jazzed that this book is out in the world, and so that means that today’s post is going to be Martin Hospitality related (in case you didn’t grab that nugget of wisdom from this post’s title).

But, this is more than just a post for me to ramble on about why I’m excited to finally read this book (though, I could do that too). No, today I bring you something more coherent. After conferring with the fabulous Abigayle Claire herself, I have an exclusive excerpt from Martin Hospitality to share with you all because I’m wonderful and get my wonderful followers wonderful things. And there’s also a giveaway.

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But first, the cover and the blurb.

wp-1485012566919.jpgGemma Ebworthy is eighteen, pregnant, and alone. Now that she’s been evicted, she spends the night in a barn, never dreaming that tomorrow could bring kindness of a life-changing magnitude.

The Martins aren’t a typical family—even for rural Kansas. With more kids than can be counted on one hand and a full-time farm, Gemma must make a lot of adjustments to fit in. But despite their many differences, Gemma finds herself drawn to this family and their radical Christian faith.

When Gemma’s past collides with her yet again, she must begin revealing her colorful history. With every detail Gemma concedes, she fears she will lose the Martins’ trust and the stable environment she desires for herself and her unborn child. Just how far can the Martins’ love and God’s forgiveness go?

Now, about the author.

abiclaireAbigayle has been a writer for as long as she can remember, but did not begin seriously pursuing becoming an author until 2015. Since then, she has started a blog and numerous social media accounts, graduated high school as a homeschooler, and participated in the infamous NaNoWriMo. Other than writing, she is also pursuing work as a freelance editor. Writing is her ministry and reading is her pastime. Abigayle lives in Central Texas with her six younger siblings and parents.

Finally, the excerpt.

Note: this excerpt is taken from Chapter 10.

“But even though I never knew my mother, she taught me something.” Gemma fiddled with the button on the chair’s pillow. “Josiah, I never told you this, but I almost aborted Farris. That’s what . . . the father wanted. Then I remembered my mom and she’s the one who stopped me from doing it. I remembered . . . what she had done to me and how it made me feel, and I determined never to do anything to my child that would make him hate me like I hated my mom.” She looked up at him and smiled. “I was going to do better than she did. That’s why. I want to break the single mom stereotype . . . somehow.”

“But you have.”

Gemma gave him a skeptical look.

“I’m serious. You’re amazing, Gemma. You have sacrificed so much to help your baby.”

“Well, if I had been truly selfless, I wouldn’t have had a baby in the first place,” she said quietly.

“Everyone makes mistakes. You have to forgive yourself if you’re ever going to move on.”

“I’ll get over everything that has happened to me, but . . .” She shrugged a shoulder. “I can’t forgive what I did to others.”

Josiah nodded. “Gemma . . . don’t let it defeat you. Guilt can do that.”


And there it is, kids. In case you didn’t order Martin Hospitality on the day that it released, here are all the links you need: Amazon, CreateSpace, and Goodreads. But of course, I’m sure you ordered Martin Hospitality as soon as possible, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU? If you haven’t, I’ll forgive you now if you hop over to Amazon (or CreateSpace) and get yourself a copy. Or two. Or three. ;)

Oh, yes, and now the giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire

Martin Hospitality

by Abigayle Claire

Giveaway ends February 28, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Buy the book, enter the giveaway, and have a fantastic week!

~ Rosalie out.

P.S. – Full disclosure, Abi actually sent me two excerpts to choose from for this post, and so I’m just chilling here chewing on my two little excerpts while you guys only get one. Mwahahahaha!

P.P.S. – So in that last postscript, I tried to make it sound like I’m all calm waiting for Martin Hospitality to arrive. Actually, I’m more like a sleep-deprived gremlin obsessively watching the mailbox. So, yeah, there’s that. #keepingitreal

 

My ReRead Stack (Fiction Edition)

Guess what! It’s Monday. I’m here with another Penprints post to brighten your day (theoretically it’ll brighten your day… but I may just come across as obsessive and annoying, but brightening is the general idea… emphasis on general).

Today’s post is about books, and more specifically, my favorite fiction books. These are the books that I have read and will reread and reread and reread and keep reading them again and again until I die. They’re my absolute favorite fiction books, and so let’s start building this book stack.

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The entire Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes.

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Now, did any of us think that all three of these books wouldn’t be in this stack? I mean, really? For those of you who may not know that I’m obsessed with this series who haven’t heard of the Out of Time series, let me give you the premise: a world where everyone knows the day they will die. Parvin Blackwater is seventeen years old, and she has one year left to live. She realizes that she has wasted her life. So, she decides to do something that will leave a mark on the world, something that she’ll be remembered for. Intense things happen as a result.

I will read this series again and again and again because of the powerful spiritual punch each book packs. The story is exciting and the characters are endearing, but it’s the themes that will keep me reaching for these books when I need to see what it means to grow as a Christian and live like I’ve got nothing to lose.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

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This was one of the first fairytale retellings I ever read, and it is still one of my favorites. It’s about a girl named Ella who was cursed at birth with obedience. Whatever someone tells her to do, she has to do it. Anything she’s commanded to do. “Ella, fetch me some flour from the cupboard.” “Ella, stop eating and give me your food.” “Ella, chop your own hand off.” These are commands Ella could be forced by magic to obey. We follow her through her adolescence as her mother dies and she is forced to be her stepmother’s servant because of this curse.

As you may have guessed, it is a retelling of Cinderella. It’s set in a medieval world with fairies and ogres and elves, and I’ve been enchanted (hehe) with it for nearly as long as I can remember. I adore the setting, and the characters, especially Ella, are so dear to my heart. This take on the Cinderella story is my favorite because Ella is so entirely human, and she isn’t always very nice. But those she loves she loves with everything. I’ve read this book at least eight times; I typically try to read it every year. I also own three copies.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

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This. Book. Okay, it is comprised of a couple dozen letters from a senior demon (Screwtape) to his nephew (Wormwood) who is currently trying to learn the ropes of being a Tempter. I read this for the first time in December of last year, and my mind is still blown by this little book. Since it’s written from the perspective of a demon, everything is flipped on its head. The “Enemy” refers to God, “Our Father Below” refers to Satan, and so forth. Screwtape gives Wormwood advice and insight into the human heart and mind, how easily we allow ourselves to be tossed to and fro in life, getting distracted from the reality of God, being caught up in ourselves, the way we are often so awfully blind to our own sin, how our hearts and minds are constantly trying to return to the flesh, to the old man. It is an incredibly humbling book to read, not only because it is so deep, but because an embarrassingly huge portion of it applies to me. There’s such profound help in this petite book for Christians as we toil along this climbing way. It has helped me better understand myself, the nature of sin, and the holiness of God (if I were to pick only three things). I will be reading it again this year.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.

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I blame my burning fascination for ancient Egypt on this book. Seriously, forget the ancient Greeks and Romans, let’s talk about the Egyptians. Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom in ancient Egypt, under the rule of Queen Hatshepsut. Mara is not like other slaves; she can read and write, as well as speak Babylonian. So, to barter for her freedom, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies—each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt.

If you’re not geeking out already, you should be. There’s nail-biting intrigue, perilous espionage, swoon-worthy romance, noble hearts, and it’s all set against the backdrop of the Nile. I’ve read this one more times than I can count, and part of it’s because I just love Mara and the story (both are the definition of swanky). But what I love best is how this book calls the reader to think beyond themselves and their desires and agendas. It demands that some things are worth dying for and that the end of yourself is where true greatness lies. Now I have to read it again myself because it’s been a year and a half since I drank in those rich lines last, and I’m overcome with the urge to dramatically whisper: “For Egypt”.

Beauty and The Hero’s Crown by Robin McKinley.

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I put these two together because I read them for the first time back to back. Now, they are set in completely different storyworlds, but both had heavy influence on my childhood. Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it is my favorite retelling of said fairytale to date. It’s much the same as the original tale in many ways, but I love the new depth to Beauty’s character. She’s endearing with a dry wit and deep love for her family (and also she has a giant horse that she raised since she was like thirteen, and so that’s also really cool, just saying). She and the Beast are now old friends of mine, examples of learning to look beyond the surface.

The Hero’s Crown is quite different (except it also has a horse, so there’s that; basically, throw a horse at it, and it’s amazing). It’s about a king’s daughter whose country dislikes her because they thought that her mother was a witch. She grew up being disdained by many, and they gave her no reason to love them. But then she starts killing dragons for them, and things start to change. To me, this story is about refusing to wallow in self-pity, about moving on regardless of what people think or say about you, pursuing something diligently, and serving when it’s not appreciated. And also she slew dragons.

Chalice by Robin McKinley.

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So, another by Robin McKinley because I’ve read all of her books and own most of them now, and there’s only a couple that I don’t love. This book has a very… understated feel in my opinion. It’s a gentle, rolling story about Marisol, a girl who is pulled from her ordinary life to serve as her people’s Chalice, the right hand the Master. It’s a high honor and also an incredible amount of responsibility, especially since the last Master and his Chalice recently died in a fire and the whole countryside is in upheaval. And it doesn’t help that the new Master happens to accidentally burn people when he touches them (yep, you read that right).

This story taught me a lot about change. Change happens, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. However, you can do your best to grow and adapt to new responsibilities, old (dear) relationships fading away, new (unwanted) relationships beginning, and so many other things that come when life changes. And it’s also simply a lovely story. And there are honey bees.

This Present Darkness and Piercing This Darkness by Frank Peretti.

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These books = spiritual warfare. Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.

These books have incredible insights into spiritual warfare and the roles of angels and demons. It’s especially interesting because it’s told from four main perspectives: the pastor’s, the reporter’s, the commanding demon, and the commanding angel. So, the reader gets to see both sides of the fight. It has greatly impacted my understanding and view on prayer, angels, demons, and our unstoppable God.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

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Agh, this book is so enjoyable (and also kind of weird). Here’s a bit of the premise: newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family’s ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. The house is full of mysteries (and ghosts), and soon she is told of the unfolding of a centuries-old, Colonial romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled.

Mainly, I love this one because of its ingenuity. See, Peggy is told of this old romance by the ghosts of her Colonial ancestors as they try to help her cope with her father’s recent death by teaching her about their lives (and mistakes). The message is about growing through and past difficult times, and it’s wrapped in a funny, romantic, clever package that I am compelled to read again and again.

Heartless and Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

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It’s hard not to have the entire Tales of Goldstone Wood series in this stack, but if I had to pick favorites, it would be these two. I’m going to skip telling you the premise on these two just because this post is getting long and they’re complicated books (that’s Anne Elisabeth Stengl for you, kids. My words cannot suffice.). So I’ll just say a little of why I will reread them so many times.

There isn’t much I can say about Heartless (besides dragons and faeries) without giving too much away, but I will say this: Heartless is one of the most beautiful portrayals of Christ’s love for us that I have ever read. I will read it again because I often need to be shown another picture of Christ’s work on that cross, and I will read it again because I often need to be reminded that there was nothing good about me or any of us to warrant His sacrifice.

Starflower is about being called to serve, at whatever cost, the only King who is worth living and dying for. It’s about the irresistible calling of God, and how He makes ugly things beautiful. It’s about seeing the image of God in every person you meet and loving them because God loves them. So go look up the Tales of Goldstone Wood series because these books are exquisite.

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.

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This is the closest thing to a classic on my favorites stack. For those of you haven’t heard of it or read it, it’s about a rich Englishman named Phileas Fogg. Now, Fogg’s rich friends bet that it is impossible to travel around the world in only 80 days, but Fogg is convinced that it can be done, and he believes it so much that he stakes a fortune on it. If he can’t travel all the way around the world in 80 days, he forfeits a fortune. He sets off with his French valet, and the adventure that ensues is thoroughly enjoyable.

The first thing that I must say is that Phileas Fogg is the most unflappable, unperturbed, unexcitable character that I have ever read about. Visibly, he always keeps his cool. Oh, let’s go around the world in 80 days. No biggie. Oh, look, there are some natives dragging some people off to be slaves. That’s nothing. We’ll just rescue them. Ah, I might lose this bet. Nothing to sweat about. I just love how chill this dude is! This one is a little like The Sherwood Ring in that there isn’t a particular message that strikes me, but the story as a whole is simply entertaining and enjoyable.

And those, kids, are my absolute favorite fiction books. What about you? Have you read any of these books? Do you think you’ll read any of these books because I say I love them (the correct answer is yes)? What are your favorite fiction books? Why?

P.S. – these pictures were made possible by my wonderful sister-in-law, Janie, who I dragged outside in the cold (because it’s finally cold again) to hold my books so I could take these pictures. And it was cold, and she’s from the south, and so she was very cold, and her hands were blocks of ice by the time we got inside, and so a huge thank you to her for humoring me. :)

P.P.S. – to those of you who made it to the end of this super long post, congrats. You’re probably one of few.