Friday, May 14, 2021

Weekend Reads: Rogue Spotter series by Kimberly A. Rogers (Rachel)

I am a chronic re-reader of books and re-watcher of movies. So, when I felt in the mood for something familiar a few weeks ago, I reached for a favorite UF series and realized that I should share it with you.

Lauren Hope is a Spotter, a paranormal who sees numbers over everyone’s heads that indicate their dangerousness. Because of this skill, there are those who would wish to kill her or force her to use her skill for their purposes. She has spent her life on the run and alone. That is until the day she looks up to see a man with the highest number ever right there in her workplace. He had a 10 glowing in the air over his head.

A dangerous hero with a delicious accent, a heroine with an amazing character arc, and phenomenal world-building that weaves ancient mythology and pre-Covid modern times, the series is the perfect escape. The romance is sweet and realistic against the background of action, adventure, self-discovery, quests, and a battle to save the world. The high-paced adventure unfolds over a six-book series that barely stops for breath. What more can one want?

Do you reread your favorite series too?
What are your favorites?

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Happily Ever After- The Power of a Happy Ending (Lydia Jane)


 
Should a book’s ending be happy?  Or are happy endings cheap, cliché, inferior, lacking substance, and overall need to be removed from stories as a whole?  In a world where professional critiques slam books with happy endings while praising stories with tragic or shocking endings, I find myself wondering:  Are happy endings really that bad?

I’ve heard it said that happy endings aren’t true to life and set unrealistic expectations for the reader, thus, stories that utilize them are regressive and serve no purpose in helping the reader grow in critical thought or mental knowledge.  That the stories that result in progress and growth for the reader are the ones that unpack and dive in deeper into a post-modern worldview.  And any story that offers hope, joy, and satisfaction is trapped in an outdated mindset that a story should have a point and purpose.  That a story should reward the reader and bring them comfort and reassurance.

Well, I’m here to say that happy endings have a purpose and a place, despite what might be considered critically acceptable.  And here are a few reasons why:

They Provide an Ideal Mental Vacation:  A good number of readers I know choose to read books to escape the real world.  To take a mental vacation from their current life, struggles, and problems and let their mind run free with daydreams and fantasies.  To live out an hour or two through the hard-earned struggles and successes of the characters in your story.  And book with a happy ending is like the cherry on top of a perfect vacation:  you’re sad to see it end, but at the same time you’ll always look back on it with fond memories.

It’s a Great Way to Break-Up:  The ending of a story is like the ending of a committed relationship.  You as the author have spent time wooing your reader, enticing them to become invested in your story, your plot, your characters.  And now, as the book draws to a close, you want to leave your reader with a positive taste in their mouth.  Break-ups are tough, and from a bookish perspective, a book ending break-up can go in several different directions.  But choosing to provide a happy ending can leave your reader feeling grateful for the time they spent with your story, and that even though it’s over, at least the ending will leave them with plenty of positive memories to hold onto.

Happy Endings Build Trust:  A happy ending can quickly establish a loyal fanbase of readers.  Just as much as a tragic or shock-value author can gain a loyal fanbase from their depressing or stunning endings, an author who consistently provides a happy ending can often-times be a great source of comfort to a reader.  And, in choosing to consistently give your novels happy endings, you’re also giving those readers the reassurance that they can trust your novels in the future to always give them an ending to look forward to.

Happiness Endures:  In my experience, a good portion of readers are more likely to reread a novel with a happy, satisfying ending compared to a thought-provoking read or even a critically acclaimed novel, because a happy ending is both easier to digest and generates a longer lasting sense of peace.  A good number of beloved series and novels have endured alongside many great critical works because of their happy endings.  These books might not be critical darlings, but to their loyal fans and readers, they are stories those readers will cherish for a lifetime.

What are some of your thoughts on happy endings?  Do you love them?  Hate them?  And, looking over the books you reread the most, are you more drawn to stories with happier endings, or more gritty, shocking, or tragic endings?


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Interview with Laura Frances

We are so excited to welcome Laura Frances to Lands Uncharted today!! Her young adult fantasy novel, Songs in the Night, just released last month, and she took the time to answer some questions for us about herself and her book! Enjoy!


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks so much for having me! I’m an indie author, homeschooling wife and mom, obsessed thrifter, and, above all, follower of Christ. We travel whenever possible. Laugh a whole lot. And I am by far the most introverted member of my family.


We're so glad you stopped by! What prompted you to start writing? Are you one of those authors who knew you were meant to write since childhood, or did it come as a discovery later in life?

I was that kid in the dollar store buying notebooks and pens instead of toys. I’ve always loved it! I don’t know that I really settled on writing as a career until later though. It might have been closer to high school graduation before the desire really struck. But once I fell, I fell hard!


A writer can never have too many notebooks and pens :) Which authors have had the most significant impact on your writing?

Man, that’s tough. In terms of descriptive, emotive writing…Stephen R. Lawhead. I’m constantly in awe of the way he paints imagery with words. His characters and settings are so alive and vivid. Another is Julianne Donaldson. She writes regency romance, which isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but the way she used memories in Blackmoore to drive the MC’s plight further into the readers’ hearts struck me. I’d always heard that a writer should be careful about too many flashbacks and such things, but her masterful use of them inspired me to try it my own way in the Slave Series. It changed everything.


Ooh, now I'm even more excited to read your Slave series! We’re all about exploring new worlds here at Lands Uncharted—if you could choose one place to visit, real or fictional, where would you go?

Easy. I want to ride a horse across Rohan (after the fall of Mordor, of course…without the risk of orc surprises…). After which, I’d like to rest in Rivendell, where I’ll happen upon an ornate wardrobe. Searching the wardrobe for an elvish dinner gown, I’d very much like to stumble into Narnia. :) I know that’s more than one, but can you blame me??


Haha, with such a clever method of travel between the two, we'll let it slide :) Share one of your favorite writing tips!

Learn everything you can through reading! What works. What doesn’t. Grab used copies of your favorite books and dissect them with a highlighter and pen! Do the same with books you don’t enjoy and figure out why.


Absolutely! Your YA fantasy, Songs in the Night, released on April 3rd! Congratulations!! What inspired you to write it?


Thank you so much! It’s been a long time coming.

The initial inspiration came the first time I listened to "Rescue" by Lauren Daigle, way back when it dropped in 2018. I played it over and over, maybe 30 + times, and a rough storyline of a young girl, unloved and broken, took shape. I wrote what’s now the prologue within a few days. From there, painstakingly, the story grew into what it is now.


Such a powerful song, and what a cool inspiration! Did any of the events in the book surprise you as you were writing?

So many! But then, I am a pantser. I knew important moments and emotional beats I wanted to hit, but I’d say 60% of the story took me by surprise!


Pantsers unite! *high five* Can you give us any insights into your next project?

I’m currently working on the second installment in the Song Giver Series. I can’t say much, but I promise lots of feels, battles, hope, and new characters!


I can't wait!! Thank you so much for visiting today, Laura! And congratulations again on your new release! 



Here's a little more about the book:

What would they do if I screamed…if the force of my voice ripped these walls to shreds?

Thirteen years have passed since five-year-old Eris crossed the border into Omaria, finding shelter among a wary band of drifters. But Sithian slaves are branded like cattle, and the scars across her palms serve only to alienate her from the people she once trusted for protection.

After word reaches the forest of a violent Sithian attack in the northern regions, and fearful rumors of sorcery hum on the air, Eris is blamed when a night of violent sickness sweeps through camp.

Forced to flee for her life into unfamiliar land, Eris once again finds herself at the mercy of cruel men. Captured by traders and imprisoned in a cage, she determines to do whatever it takes to protect a fragile, sick woman chained to the bars.

But as they draw close to the border and hope of escape fades, a frightening power rises within Eris, fueled by the bitter grief warring in her heart. The scars across her palms burn, and Eris fears she may be becoming the very thing the king’s knights vow to destroy: a diavok cursed for evil.


Oh man, doesn't it sound intense? And that cover is stunning! You can purchase Songs in the Night HERE, and follow the author on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and her website to hear her latest updates!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Story Snippets: Tales from Hiberia by Jamin Still (Sarah)

For today's story snippet, I'm excited to feature Jamin Still's Tales of Hiberia: The Awakening, a lovely fantasy collection that blends beautiful artwork with fantastic tales. Without further ado, here's what Jamin has shared with us:  


 

BOOK SUMMARY

The twelve stories contained in The Tales of Hibaria: The Awakening introduce the reader to the world of Hibaria and the Islands. It is a world of magic and mystery, of dragons and sea serpents, a world where the Sky Lords - the Constellations - can take physical form and walk the land. It is a world in which an ancient evil, long imprisoned, threatens to break free.

The central characters in these stories are children and young adults who grapple with fear and sorrow, loss and longing, and who are given the opportunity to choose courage and hope. Their individual stories weave together to begin to tell a larger narrative. This collection lays the groundwork for further stories in the world of Hibaria.

This full-color volume is as much a book of stories as it is an art book: it is brimming with richly painted illustrations, numerous supplemental sketches, and finely detailed maps.

Visit jaminstill.com to learn more about the world of Hibaria. 

 


 


FIRST STORY: THE MENDING

The boy searched among the rocks and sandbars of the peninsula, his clear green eyes flitting from one object to another. He occasionally stooped to pick up a shell or a feather or a wind-carved piece of wood, but he released these things almost as soon as he had touched them. He was not sure what he was looking for, but he knew he had not found it yet. He kept searching. 

Almegorin was ten years old. Earlier that summer he had found a fisherman’s float, a green sphere of blown glass that looked like it had been made in Werth. The float was cool and smooth to the touch, and when the tiny bubbles embedded in the glass had caught the evening light, Almegorin had almost thought he could hear the distant cries of gulls and the keening of an unfelt wind. When, with both hands, he had lifted the float out of the sand, he thought he could feel the tug of the deep currents that had brought the glass so far south. The thing had a story and Almegorin felt as though, if he only listened carefully enough, he would be able to hear it. 

The boy had taken the fisherman’s float home, exultant, and placed it on the table beside his bed. 

Since then he had come to this beach whenever he could. He came to look for other treasures woven with stories, other objects that told him their tales. He searched with anticipation, with barely suppressed excitement, longing to hold these things in his hands and learn the secrets of the world.

The sun sank low in the west, reflecting off the water, painting the sky gold and red and purple. It would be dark soon. Almegorin turned and began the long walk back to Hull. He sighed. There was work to be done tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and while he enjoyed his work, it would be another week before he would be able to hunt again.

At the broken tree Almegorin paused. He would be late, but… he scrambled up its twisted trunk, pulling himself up from branch to branch, until he was far above the ground. The sea spread out before him, sparkling gray and huge and mysterious, and the coastline curved away to the north, like the sweeping wing of a bird. Past the inlet was the village, its lights, like distant fireflies, beginning to appear in the dusk. He would be late, yes, but the view never failed to fill him with wonder. High above, the stars began to appear, twinkling in the expanse as they began their dance across the darkness.

As the sun slipped beneath the sea, the boy dropped to the ground beside the broken tree. His hand brushed a stone, half-buried in the wet sand. He dug it out. It was the size of an egg and smooth as glass. The stone was like nothing he had ever seen before, held before, and it was clear as purest light and somehow it seemed to hold the world within itself. It glowed a faint blue in the fading light and made his fingers tingle and his heart beat a little faster. With shaking hands, he carefully tucked it into his pocket.

That night Almegorin dreamt. In his dreams he sailed the seas and he knew the waters – every current, every wave, every eddy – and he knew all the ships that had passed over them, all the storms that had raged across them. He knew the creatures that swam below the surface, that lurked beyond sight in the darkness below. He saw what they had seen and he knew their stories. 

In his dreams, Almegorin walked the Islands and he knew them. He knew the rocks and trees and streams, he knew every hill and valley and coastline. He knew the birds and animals and insects, and he saw what they had seen and he knew their stories. 

He saw ancient cities and towns long forgotten, kingdoms and empires long crumbled. He saw Augrind, the Emperor of the Night, rise to power and he saw the building of the Hourglass. He saw Augrind’s reign in the blink of an eye, and he saw the horrors of the Great War, and he saw Augrind’s fall.

He saw the Sky Lords imprison the Emperor of the Night in the Rift. 

He saw the Black Horizon and knew what lay over its edge. 

High in the mountains, Almegorin stood before the ancient Augur Tree and he knew every contour of its massive trunk, every twist of its thousand branches, every vein of its countless leaves, and he knew what, over the centuries, it had seen.

He knew all these things and he knew their stories and he knew how they had come to be.

When Almegorin awoke, he discovered that he was clutching the stone. When he awoke, he remembered what he had dreamt.

That morning he did not put the stone on the table with his other treasures. Instead, Almegorin placed it in his pocket. In the shop he worked silently beside his father, carefully copying maps of different parts of Rorus. Several parties of foreigners were due to arrive by the end of the week, foreigners who did not know these lands or these waters, but who had recently been granted trading and hunting rights. They needed maps and Almegorin’s father, the only cartographer on the island of Hilder, was happy to comply. But the drawing of maps was slow and meticulous work, and there was much yet to do. Despite this, despite the urgency of what needed to be done, Almegorin found himself staring out the window at the sea, his feather quill forgotten beside the half-finished map. Instead, his hand was wrapped around the stone in his pocket.

“Where is your mind, Almegorin?” asked his father. His question was firm but gentle, as his eyes searched his son’s face. 

“I … out there,” the boy finally said. “I’m sorry.” He shook himself and resumed his work on the map, but his mind was far away, out in the vast, vast world. 

That night Almegorin could not sleep. He glanced at the fisherman’s float on the table beside his bed. To think that he had once considered Werth far away! The world was so much bigger than he had imagined. So much had happened that he had not known about, that he could not have possibly known about. And this place, the village of Hull on the island of Hilder … was so small. His mind was full, almost to bursting, with all the stories of the world. 

The stone shone like starlight in his hand. Finally, wearily, he got up, put on his shoes, and slipped out of the house.

His feet made no sound as he walked through the streets of the village. Past the last house, he angled toward the gray water and came to the top of a small cliff that overlooked the sea. Below him were the boats, waiting, summoning him. He would go and see the world, see all the places he now knew existed. He would go and live the stories, and he would not look back. 

Almegorin took a deep breath and stepped toward the boats. Before him the water was still. 

And then it was not. The inky blackness swirled and rippled and the boats bobbed and a creature rose silently from the depths, dripping and glistening in the moonlight. It was a massive serpent with shimmering scales, and it looked down at Almegorin with a piercing blue eye. The boy took a step back and swallowed.

“You do not sleep, child of the earth, though it is night,” said the serpent, and its other eye, Almegorin observed, was glaucous and unseeing. It looked for all the world like an enormous pearl. The creature stared at him and tilted its head and added quietly, “You do not know what you are about to do.”

The boy shook his head. “I do know. The world is so big and this place is so small, and there is so much to see.  I am going.”

“That is true. The world is a vast thing and this is but a small part of it. But while there will come a time for you to leave these shores and strike out into the world, that time is not now.”

“Why?” asked Almegorin.

“What you possess,” said the creature, looking at Almegorin’s hand, “has made you think that you are ready, but you are not. What you hold in your hand is a powerful thing and it has given you knowledge that you should not have. It is not yours, and if you keep it, you will be undone.”

Almegorin looked at the stone in his hand. And then he looked at the creature and saw the hole in its belly, a hole the size and shape of an egg. The stone suddenly grew warm in his palm and seemed to pulse with a low light. He looked down at it.

“It is yours?” asked the boy.

“It has been lost for longer than you can imagine, but, yes, it is mine.”

Almegorin hesitated and then said, “But I want it to be mine.”

The creature nodded. “Who wouldn’t? But as I said, if you keep it, you will be undone. It is, after all, a star, and you are a child of the earth.”

At these words Almegorin’s eyes widened and he looked up and down the length of the serpent. Stones similar to the one in his hand were interspersed amongst the scales. And the creature’s eye that the boy had thought looked like a pearl …

“You’re a Sky Lord,” he finally said. “Though not one I’m familiar with.” The boy glanced up at the night sky, filled with the glittering constellations.

“I have been absent from the heavens for a long time now; you would not know me. I have been searching for what you hold in your hand for centuries.”

Almegorin looked at the star in his hand, looked at the thing that had borne witness to the creation of the world and that had told him all the stories it had seen. “Will I forget them?” he asked as he held out the stone. It rose gently from his hand and began to pulse with light. “The stories?”

“Most of them,” said the Sky Lord. “Your small mind was not made to contain so much. A few will remain, however. Consider them a gift.”

“Thank you,” said Almegorin. “Will I still want to go?” he added, looking at the boats.

The stone slid into place and the Sky Lord shimmered in the starlight. “For now you will not,” the creature said, “though the seed of that desire grows in you as it does in many young people, and it will eventually bear fruit. But it will bear fruit in the right time. For now you will once again be content.

“But I have seen that when the time does come, child of the earth, and you do go from this place, there is something you are uniquely equipped to do. Would you like to know what it is I ask of you?”

Almegorin nodded.

“Trouble is coming to Hibaria and the Islands. Disaster, great difficulty, perhaps war. I can sense it in the waters and in the air. Augrind stirs in the world of dreams, perhaps in the waking world as well. I would have you gather the stories of this time, so that what transpires is not lost to the children of the earth.”

The boy took a deep breath. “I will do it,” he said.

“This is to be your life’s work,” said the Sky Lord. And without another word the creature rose from the water, whole once more. The sea serpent, blue and green and silver, soared into the night sky and slowly faded from view. Soon, the boy could see only a line of seven points of light. The line moved sinuously through the night, across the vastness of the heavens, until it came to rest amongst a cluster of stars in the north, a cluster so dim that Almegorin had never noticed it before. The line of light coiled and flexed and merged with the grouping of dim stars. There was a flash, almost imperceptible, and the stars grew bright.

“It’s time we both were home, I guess,” said Almegorin, and he turned away from the sea and walked silently back to the village.

 

It's no secret that I'm drawn to beautiful books, and when I encountered The Tales of Hiberia by Jamin Still, the striking images immediately caught my attention. I'm thrilled that he's shared some pictures and an excerpt from his collection of fantasy stories with us, and I encourage you to check out his books and art at www.jaminstill.com. If you wish to purchase Tales of Hiberia: The Awakening, you can do so here.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Weekend Reads: Macario's Scepter by MJ McGriff

 

Source: Amazon.com

Twins. One a nun. One a pirate. One magic scepter. One prophesy. One ex-lover.

Sounds like a formula or a line from a great comedy, "that would be one plus one plus two plus one, not one plus *two* plus one plus one." (Clue, 1985 in case you're curious)

This is the formula for a great pirate tale.

Macario's Scepter is the first book in M.J. McGriff's The Magian Series.

Younger readers and parents, there's a caveat this is a pirate story with language that's a bit, well, salty. There's some romance but no sex or compromising scenarios. There's some violence but none that is graphic or gratuitous. Overall, I'd say it's PG to PG-13 due to intense pace and action. Teens and up. Some scenes take place in a drinking establishment and rum is present in this Caribbean-flavored tale.

A prophesy releases a destructive serpent on the high seas and only a magical scepter can tame it. Samara, a pirate who longs for the sea is the one chosen to wield it. All Samara longs to do is return to the sea even if it means teaming with Baz, her ex-lover.

Seraphina, Samara's twin and voice of reason, fears for her sister and prays Samara will find the peace she has in her life as a cloistered nun. But the curse forces Seraphina to defy her order and escape the convent to help her sister.

The characters and relationships round out this seafaring adventure. Samara and Baz have great chemistry, and I loved the others in the pirating crew. Samara is a feisty heroine, but Seraphina more than holds her own.

Book 2, The Secret Library, released last month, and I can't wait to read more of Samara, Baz, and Seraphina's story.

What better beach read than one with a Pirates of the Caribbean flavor. Stick a paper umbrella in your drink of choice (tropical juice, anyone?) and prepare for the adventure.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Writer's Life: The Little Art Matters Too (Mary)

 I don’t remember exactly when I stopped writing short stories, just that it was several years ago. It isn’t as if I made a conscious decision to abandon short fiction in favor of longer works, it just...sort of faded away.

Ever since I can remember, as a tiny child I would make up stories in my head and then act them out in my play (with my Yorkie Terrier, Ezmerelda, as my co-star and trusty sidekick). When I learned to read and write, I wrote and illustrated picture books. When things scared or upset me, I processed them through story. (I can recall one particularly traumatizing event, when a coyote snatched one of our geese from the yard in broad daylight and ended up killing her—that got a multi-page spread in my art and writing notebook.)

Image Source: Pixabay.com

 

Somewhere around age eleven or so I separated my drawing and writing from each other. Drawing went into a sketchbook, and writing suddenly took on more life as I began writing a collection of short stories that I called “legends” (I don’t know if I actually knew the technical term “short story” at that time or not). I discovered poetry around the same time, and very few nights went by when I wasn’t using my little sister’s night light to scribble late into the night.

I was incredibly prolific during that time, churning out at least one or two new stories and/or poems every week, plus countless journal entries.

Oddly enough, I had no clue at that point that I was a writer. I unconsciously assumed that everyone had stories constantly growing and developing in their heads, that everyone mentally narrated their day-to-day lives in third person, that everyone filled life’s little delays and in-between times with planning out new plots and characters and descriptions. I was utterly unaware that what I was doing was unusual in any way.

I was fourteen when I had what was, for me, a world-shaking revelation: My newest story idea was too big to be a short story—it was a book. And I was going to write it, which meant...that I was a writer!

That was a major turning point in my creative journey. From that moment forward I began calling myself a writer—something I had never done before—and threw myself with wild abandon into my new book-sized project.

One book quickly grew into a slew of ideas. Now that I was writing books-length stories, the ideas came faster than I could finish them, and I started developing a backlog.

Finishing my first book brought with it the most incredible high I think I’ve ever experienced in my entire life—far beyond anything I got from finishing any of my short works—and I was hard at work on the sequel within six hours.

As one would expect of the work of a fourteen-year-old, those first books were utter garbage. But I was learning, growing, developing my craft, and loving it, and that was what mattered.

I still wrote short stories and poetry on occasion—in fact the first work I ever published, at age nineteen, was a poem—and I published quite a few of them over the next few years. But gradually, I thought of myself more and more as a “novelist,” rather than just a “writer” or “author.” I began assuming that more and more of the story ideas that came to me were destined to be novels one day, which meant that of course I couldn’t write them just yet, I would have to wait until I worked my way through the ever-growing list of story ideas that came before it. The list of unwritten ideas got bigger and bigger, and the percentage of ideas that were actually getting written got smaller and smaller.

Then late last year, I was invited to contribute to a Christmas anthology that I was incredibly excited about. When I sat down to figure out what to write, I had a sudden realization: I hadn’t written a short story in years.

Somewhere along the way, I had stopped thinking of short stories as mattering or being valuable. I had developed the mindset that writing an idea as a short story was somehow “wasting” it, or not giving it everything it deserved—that novels were somehow more valuable in terms of artistic merit than short stories. That novels were serious literature, written by serious authors, while short stories were...something less.

Of course, at an intellectual level I absolutely knew this to be untrue. Who would make the argument that a tiny scrap of vellum bearing a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci is worthless simply because it isn’t Mona Lisa? Or that Michelangelo’s David is less important than the tomb of Pope Julius II, just because it’s smaller? Or that Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories or the Sherlock Holmes collection don’t matter because the stories aren’t novel-length?

No one with a grain of sense would argue that, and I knew that.

But somehow, somewhere along the journey, in my desperate pursuit of becoming a “serious” writer, I had let myself internalize the idea that shorter = less valuable, less serious.

So as I planned and wrote my story for the Christmas anthology, I decided to change that.

Since the beginning of 2021, I’ve published one short story and written two more, both of which have been submitted for consideration to different magazines, as of this writing. My main writing project is still a novel, but I’m slowly retraining my brain to allow for the possibilities of short stories, not just novels, whenever a new idea pops up. Those ideas don’t have to languish on a back burner for years until I can make them into novels—they can go out into the world as short stories and still matter.

I long ago made my peace with the fact that I will be leaving many, many ideas behind me, unfinished, when I die. But maybe now that I’m letting go of my weird subconscious need to turn everything into a novel, now that I’m remembering that small works are important too, maybe that number can be a little smaller.

And if you are a writer who maybe doesn’t feel like you deserve to taken seriously as such, because you’ve only written or published short works, rather than a novel so far—remember that the little art matters too.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Weekend Reads: Kingdom of Beauty by Deborah Grace White (Kimberly)

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale of all, so I love finding new retellings like Kingdom of Beauty by Deborah Grace White!

Kingdom of Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (The Kingdom Tales Book 1)



My Rating - 4.5 Stars

Deborah Grace White is a fairly new author whose retelling launches her second series. I originally read her first series, The Kyona Chronicles, a YA epic adventure fantasy, last year and enjoyed it. So I was excited to find out she was also venturing into fairytale retellings. Kingdom of Beauty is set in the same world as the Kyona Chronicles but on a completely different continent and area of the world, so it's not necessary to read the first series to enjoy this one. Although there is a bonus connection nod via the dragon.

Kingdom of Beauty is a fun, lighthearted take on the tale as old as time. Felicity was an interesting mix of vulnerability and determination in her role as the beauty with an absentminded father and a somewhat useless spoiled older brother. Where some might scream at the sight of the monstrous form of the cursed Prince Justin, she is more inclined to laugh. I liked the way her word has value to her and that's part of the driving reason behind her willingness to keep the agreement to stay in the cursed castle.

Prince Justin is a grumbly beast who was forged into a cold heart by an even colder father. I enjoyed reading how he changes and grows over the course of the book. The twists to the original tale don't stray too far in regards to the enchanted castle and servants, but I enjoyed the combination of Felicity being able to see and interact with both beast and servants while others who manage to get inside have the experience of completely invisible servants and beast. It was a fun nod to the original. I also liked the twist to the Beast's nightly question from the original fairytale.

While this story is complete, I really enjoyed the glimpses White offers of future fairytales to come in this series. The hero of her second book, Kingdom of Slumber: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty, has a decent cameo in this book. I liked getting to know a bit of his personality ahead of time. It makes me eager to find out what will happen in his own book. There was another very intriguing clue regarding one of the neighboring kingdoms' princesses that I'm extremely interested in seeing play out, but I won't spoil that one. ;) 

All in all, Kingdom of Beauty is a fun Beauty and the Beast retelling that will appeal to the lovers of the classic fairytale. I can't wait to see how the dragons play a role in the rest of the series as well as some of the other hints for the overall series world. And Kingdom of Slumber is on preorder to release in May!

How do you like your retellings? Fairly faithful to the original or looser reimagings? (I personally enjoy both.) Let me know!

Happy Reading!

Kimberly