Posted in Christmas, Holiday Collections

Christmas Festivities by Charles Dickens

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused – in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened – by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be – that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope or happy prospect of the year before, dimmed or passed away – and that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes – of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire – fill the glass, and send round the song – and, if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass is filled with reeking punch instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty – one slight form that gladdened the father’s heart and roused the mother’s pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past – think not that, one short year ago, the fair child now fast resolving into dust sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gay unconsciousness of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and a contented heart. Our life on it but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one.”

-Charles Dickens, Christmas Festivities

Dog_by umedama

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in ourselves that we forget the true meaning of Christmas – as cliche as that sounds. Dickens is known for capturing the ‘human condition’ with his words. Yes, maybe he’s a little wordy with it but I think he usually hits the nail on the head.

Christmas is about enjoying and being thankful for what you have. There’s no point in dwelling in the past and wrapping yourself in a great big ball of depression. So what if money’s tight this year and you can’t buy your kid that expensive toy she’s been asking for all year. Instead of griping about it, be thankful that your child will be celebrating Christmas in the first place because some kids never live to see the day.

Don’t complain if your Christmas party isn’t what it used to be or if there’s a lot less people around the table. So long as you surround yourself with the people you love, there’s nothing to complain about.

Take it from Dickens, “Fill your glass again, with a merry face and a contented heart. Our life on it but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one.”

Dessert.jpg

*What’s your favorite Charles Dickens Christmas story? He used to write one every year so there’s a lot of them! Comment down below if you’d like to share.
*If you’re interested in reading his Christmas works, here’s an anthology: click here. It’s the book I’m currently reading this holiday season. I got it as part of a bigger Dickens collection. It’s a gorgeous set and it’s perfect as a Christmas gift.
*LIKE MY BLOG? CONSIDER BECOMING A PATRON.
*FIND ME ON GOODREADS HERE.
*ARTWORK:
*Featured imagine by youxiandaxia.
*Dog by umedama.
*Mini dessert table by PetitPlat. 
Cheers! And a happy holiday season!
Advertisements
Posted in Cherished, My Novels

Cherished, Chapter 2

The black market was an underground place where the world’s finest came out to play. Their pockets were heavy with cash as they browsed the various wares from drugs packed into pill form to a pair of human kidneys. There were even live specimens to choose from — exotic animals and women alike.

On one of the many stages stood a woman wearing nothing but a few pieces of lace from the local lingerie store. Although she was one of the lucky few to even wear such meager articles of clothing, they did very little to hide her nudity and she still shivered at the amount of prying eyes that looked her way.

Occasionally, someone would pay a little extra for a closer look and that’s when the girl would moan and struggle the most.

These moans had a way of traveling through the entire market like someone was blasting them through an intercom system.

Aspen’s sensitive ears twitched at the sound. She cowered within her cage, a structure meant more for a hamster than a fox. The metal frame dug into her sides, inflicting new pain to her already bruised flesh.

“Oh, quit your whining.” A large, hulking man dressed in white kicked her cage so hard that it went flying into the adjacent wall.

Aspen tumbled until her world became a blur and then some. Her whole body screamed with agony as she attempted to rise to her feet but her legs were too weak to support her body weight.

“Would you look at yourself? Pathetic.” He spat as he took her cage by the handle and brought it up to eye level. “If I don’t sell you tonight then I hope you’re prepared for what’s to come because it won’t be pleasant.” He paused, glaring at a young woman who had stopped to stare. Her fingers glittered with diamond rings.

 

Caged
“How much for the cat?” She asked as an older man sporting a velvet suit placed a hand on her shoulder in warning.

“Another?” The man’s voice was thick and mature like a glass of mulled wine. “Your collection —”

“Has nothing to do with you, Perceval.” She snapped. “And it would be wise of you to remember that.”

“Look, I’m not going to stand here and listen to you two bicker all night. Time is money and currently, you’re wasting both.” Aspen’s owner stood in a firm stance, glaring at the odd couple.

From her upturned cage, Aspen watched the scene with growing anxiety. What was going to happen to her now? She did not like the look of the girl with the diamond rings – not one bit. Already, she could imagine the anguish they would cause her like an expensive dupe for brass knuckles.

“How much for the cat, I said.” She tapped her foot against the ground with impatience.

“Answer the girl.” The man who seemed to act as her bodyguard growled.

Aspen looked over at her with wary eyes. Her owner was nearing his breaking point and the last time that had happened, he had dangled her from the third story balcony by the collar. Her neck was still bruised from the ordeal and that same collar was still way too tight.

He started forward, approaching this so-called Perceval. “I suggest you get leave before —”

Just then, a howl erupted from the stage. A piece of unruly merchandise had warranted the whip. Their cries grew louder and louder with each swing. The bids became higher and higher. They were enjoying her pain.

Sadists.

Speaking of which, the girl with the diamond rings took advantage of the commotion to snatch Aspen’s cage. It swung slowly as she examined the tiny, terrified fox.

Her eyes widened, revealing flecks of purple around the iris. “A changeling…” The girl mused to herself.

“Alexandria —”

“Do not address me in such a manner, Perceval. You forget your place.” She hissed, top lip curling to reveal sharp canines followed by a row of perfectly straight teeth.

“I don’t have the time for this nonsense.” Aspen’s owner snarled as he lurched forward with every intention of grabbing the tiny cage.

But the woman was fast, side-stepping to avoid the brute. He lost his balance and fell head first into a pile of crates.

Alexandria clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “I’m disappointed, Maverick.” She said. “I honestly thought you were better than this.” Again he charged and again she dodged. Aspen was caught in the crossfire of their cat and mouse game. “I guess the rumors are true. You’re losing your touch.”

He narrowed his eyes in her direction. “How do you know who I am?”

“I have my means.” She said while looking at the sorry excuse for a changeling. “I was going to make you an offer on the fox but on second thought, I think I’ll just take her free of charge.” She snapped her fingers and Perceval responded by holding open a burlap bag.

Alexandria dropped the cage without a second thought. Aspen yelped with surprise as her stomach flew through her mouth – or, at least, that’s what it felt like.

And then, her body crashed against the side of the cage.

Click.

The locking mechanism had snapped from the impact, already weakened by the bumpy ride to the market.

This was her chance to escape – the moment she had been waiting for. But she was still inside the burlap bag. Her thoughts raced with desperation. She needed to handle her escape with care because if she was caught attempting to flee, Maverick wouldn’t think of giving her a second chance. He would strike her down once and for all or, worse yet, he would make her beg for death without giving her the sweet release she so desperately desired at this dark point in her life. To die meant she would no longer suffer for the sick enjoyment of another. She’d finally be free from the pain – the agony – of her existence.

Maverick was done playing around. He was there to make money, not to deal with the antics of some spoiled brat.

He snatched the bag from Perceval.

Aspen spilled out of her cage with the violent jerk.

Then came another as Alexandria dug her claws into the fabric, narrowly avoiding the helpless fox within.

The two tugged with all their might like a couple of children fighting over a toy.

“You don’t know who you’re messing with.” Maverick warned as he yanked with all the strength he had but it didn’t make a difference.

Alexandria planted her feet against the ground, body unmoving even against the barbarian that challenged her. She grinned a wild grin.

“Neither do you.” She said as she gave the bag a yank of her own.

Rippp!

The bag gave way and Aspen crashed into the ground. Before anyone could blink, she made her getaway.

“Someone get that fox!” Both Maverick and Alexandria shouted in unison.

Aspen put all of her energy into keeping herself in motion which was difficult considering what little strength she had left after years of neglect. But somehow, she found the reserves she needed to weave between moving feet and dodge hungry hands.
She couldn’t let herself get caught.

It would end her.

So she ran and she ran and she ran until she spotted an opening that led to the sewers. It was where they disposed of worthless merchandise, both alive and dead. But those who clung onto life never did so for very long.

Aspen had no choice but to join them. She sunk right into the vile sludge.

“She’s a goner.” Someone said.

Maverick half considered going in after her but he would never stoop so low. Alexandria had a half a mind to push him. He belonged with all the other filth.

Meanwhile, Aspen surfaced and gasped for air as the current dragged her along. She had never known how to swim. The best she could do was flail her arms and legs. By some stroke of luck, she caught hold of a dingy fur pelt and used it as a raft. As she floated along, she tried ignoring the questions pressing against her skull.

Who had this pelt once belonged to? How much had they suffered just so someone could throw out their pelt into the sewers? How many others had shared a similar fate?

Aspen was close to dozing off with fatigue when she spotted a ladder that led to a half-open manhole.

Bingo.

That was her only chance at survival because if she didn’t make the jump now, she’d be carried all the way to the ocean and that was no place for a non-swimmer.

She struggled to her feet, rushed forward, and leapt onto the landing. Her jump wasn’t long enough and she now hung precariously on the edge.

Every muscle screamed in protest as she pulled herself up. That pain continued as she started up the ladder – a feat much more difficult in her fox form.

On the surface, rain fell in torrents, drenching her fur even further. A crack of thunder boomed through the sky, scaring her half to death. She skidded off the road and into an alleyway where she found shelter inside a cardboard box.

With no strength left to call on, she curled into a ball and closed her eyes.

Honestly, it would be nothing short of a miracle if she made it through the night.

Fennic Fox

*If you enjoyed this second chapter of Cherished, let me know in the comments down below. If you didn’t like it, tell me that, too. Or, if you have suggestions on what should happen next, let me hear it!
*To catch up on the first chapter, click here.
*Like my blog? Consider becoming a patron. There, you can pre-order Cherished as either a paperback or a hardcover. It’ll be a while before I get to that point but until then, you’ll receive a book-box every month! Every box will be unique and personalized for each specific patron.
*Or, if you rather support me through an Amazon purchase, click here to see some awesome kitsune masks. You don’t need to buy this specific item so long as you remain on the same tab while making your purchase.
*Find me on Goodreads here.
*Artwork:
*Featured image of underground market by iancjw
*Fox trapped within cage by didizuka
*Fox drawing (red) by silvergriffin
*Thank you!
Posted in Cherished, My Novels

Cherished, Chapter 1

Fog settled over the campus, transforming Clyde’s world into a haze. It was impossible to see through his glasses as thick droplets of water gathered on the smooth surface. Every once in a while, he would take them off and wipe them clean against the damp fabric of his shirt but it didn’t really help – not much, anyway. It wouldn’t take long before his vision was blurred once more.

Around him, people walked underneath the safety of their umbrellas. Clyde envied them as his clothes became increasingly soaked with the rain. With his every step, his sneakers squelched with saturation. He would definitely need a new pair now. To make matters worse, the rain was picking up.

“Clyde! Hey!” Someone called from behind.

Clyde froze in place. He knew that voice and he knew it well. It was engraved into his very dreams. With cheeks burning, he turned around to find the prettiest girl in school walking his way. He shuffled his weight from foot to foot as she approached. There was a bright smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Clyde forgot how to breathe.

Standing in the rain

“What are you doing? Can’t you see it’s raining? Where’s your umbrella, silly? You’re bound to catch a cold with your clothes all wet like that.” Once she was close enough, she held out her umbrella so he could stand underneath. “Now, isn’t that better?” Dimples decorated her cheeks as she flashed a warm smile.

“Thanks, Cassandra, I owe you one.” Clyde rubbed the back of his neck when he realized how lame he sounded.

“I’m headed to the Ramen Rumble for a later dinner. Maybe you’d like to join me?” She batted her eyelashes the same way she did when a professor called on her but she didn’t know the answer.

“Um…” He stuttered as his tongue failed him.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” She said with a giggle before taking his hand and lacing their fingers together.

“What are you doing?” Clyde blushed harder than he ever had before. Already, his palms were incredibly sweaty. He wanted to pull away from her and wipe them against the fabric of his jeans but her hold was much too tight.

“Well, it didn’t look like you were going to move any time soon so I figured this was the best way to get you going.” With that, she tugged on his hand. Clyde nearly lost his balance as he tumbled forward. “Are you always this clumsy?” She asked with a giggle. She looked over at Clyde with a pair of bright blue eyes and a toss of her golden hair. “Because I’m not very good at catching people. That’s why I’m a flier for the cheerleader squad.”

“Flier?” He repeated with an air of confusion. He had no idea what she was talking about but it was nice to just hear the harmony of her voice. So, he floated along in a sort of daze, just listening to her prattle on and on about this and that. Clyde barely said a word the entire way to the restaurant and he was okay with that.

But, at some point, he felt a chill prickle down his spine and it wasn’t the weather causing it. He glanced over his shoulder but there was no one there. Strange. He could have sworn that someone was watching him. Or, maybe, they were watching her. Now, that made more sense. She was the prettiest girl in school and the leader of the cheer squad. She was probably accustomed to people watching her day and night — always the center of attention.

The feeling intensified into something dark and eerie. The hair on the back of his neck stood on edge.

“Is everything alright?”

“Yeah… I think so…” He wanted to wrap his arm around her in a protective gesture but he couldn’t muster the courage to do so. In the end, he contented himself with giving her hand a little squeeze.

“Clyde?” She tilted her head to the side. “Are you sure everything is alright? You’re acting a little funny.”

“I’m fine, don’t worry about it.” They had just reached the restaurant. The windows glowed with a warm, inviting light. With a smile, he reached forward, grabbed the door, and held it open for the girl.

As she walked inside a gust of wind howled through the street in a low, ominous moan. Again, Clyde looked over his shoulder but he did not see the eyes that watched him from the darkness beyond the street lamp.

Fox.jpg

*If you enjoyed this first chapter of Cherished, let me know in the comments down below. If you didn’t like it, tell me that, too. Or, if you have suggestions on what should happen next, let me hear it!
*Like my blog? Consider becoming a patron. There, you can pre-order Cherished as either a paperback or a hardcover. It’ll be a while before I get to that point but until then, you’ll receive a book-box every month! Every box will be unique and personalized for each specific patron.
*Or, if you rather support me through an Amazon purchase, click here to see a cute kitten-themed coin bank. You don’t need to buy this specific item so long as you remain on the same tab while making your purchase.
*Find me on Goodreads here.
*Boy standing in the rain drawing by bramLeech. Fox drawing by Sabientje.
*Cover made myself on Placeit. It’s a filler for now while I search for a proper cover artist so if you do that sort of thing, comment or PM me!
*Thank you!
Posted in Book Reviews, Reviews

Elsie: Book One in the Homecoming Short Story Series, by Jessica Marie Holt

Elsie by Jessica Marie Holt is a short sixteen-page story that won’t take much more than thirty minutes to read. Within these sixteen pages, we experience Elsie’s grief with growing older. She is a woman steadfast in her old-fashioned ways but her world is bent on changing. First, it’s the abrupt death of her husband, George, and then, it’s her children pestering her with modernity in the form of kitchen appliances, and finally, it’s a move from her home into a senior care facility. Despite this move, she cannot abandon her precious home. She returns, time and time again, prepared to hate the changes of the new mistress only to find that she quite likes them. These trips back to her home are not only nostalgic but an opportunity for friendship as she bonds with a little girl named Emily.

Through Holt’s lovely writing style, which is as smooth and refreshing as some sweet iced tea, we experience Elsie’s love for her home. This love is made apparent by all the little details that she chooses to include. She dives into the minuscule and builds us a world puzzle piece by puzzle piece. Once I was able to see the bigger picture, Elsie’s grief cuts deep. Surprisingly, despite the subtitle, ‘Homecoming,’ what affected me the most was not Elsie’s return home, but her acceptance of George’s passing. It was written in such a personal manner that for a moment, I felt as Elsie felt. So much so, that I experience that build-up of pressure inside my chest that signals an onslaught of tears.

While Holt’s style was superb, she did have one misspelling that I caught while reading the book. Now, this might seem insignificant but in a story so short, I expect the author to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect before publishing. I realize that the mistake was easy to overlook as I have done plenty of times in my own writing but I hold firm that one more read-through by the author probably would have saved her from this mistake. But, this mistake did not, by any means, affect the overall story or the beautiful message it had to share.

Moving away from the negative, I think that Holt also does an excellent job of juxtaposing the old with the young. I find that relationships between children and the elderly are often the most rewarding. There is just something about mixing wisdom with innocence that blossoms into something beautiful. The relationship between Elsie and Emily is no different. Despite a run-in with tragedy, be prepared for a heartwarming ending that brings the story full-circle.

I think I liked this story so much because it read like nonfiction. I do not know whether Holt writes this story from personal experience. Perhaps she witnessed a similar chain of events and is now using her talent for writing to share it with the world. And I’m glad she did. Elsie, both as a character and as a story, feels very real to me. Since this piece of fiction felt like a memoir of sorts, it gave the story much more depth and grit. I felt for Elsie in the way that’s only possible when I believe a character is real, either in the depths of an author’s heart or within the living universe. Elsie was extremely believable to the point where she felt like a version of my next-door neighbor who also had a physical attachment to her home after her husband died of cancer and her daughter moved her somewhere else. I shudder to think what she would say if she saw her home had been torn down and transformed into a cul-de-sac. I think that Elsie is a very relatable story for anyone with an elderly grandparent or perhaps those of us already getting on in years. Holt, I think, quells these fears by showing us the silver lining and demonstrating that sometimes things just have a way of working themselves out.

After reading this story, I had the slight urge to visit a Georgia senior care center because maybe, just maybe, I might see Elsie sitting by the window side, admiring the flowers dancing in the autumn breeze. Although, I’m more likely to check out Amazon and visit Holt’s author page. From there, I can see that Elsie seems to be Holt’s second short story in publication. Her first story, Long Road Home, fairs rather well on the charts with a 4.9 out of 5 stars (based on fifteen reviews). Readers seem to agree that Holt has a knack for capturing that ethereal essence only found in families and putting it down on paper. Her writing there seems to share the same kind of heartwarming vibe she projected in Elsie. I believe that Holt is a mature writer that knows how to describe emotion in the most beautiful of ways. She’s a storyteller and while her stories are not volume-thick epics, they are, instead, the perfect size for a morning read accompanied by a warm cup of tea.

Since writing Elsie, Holt has penned a few more stories, including Amos, Joe, and On the Other Side. Amos and Joe constitute books two and three of the ‘Homecoming Series’ of which Elsie is the first. From the looks of it, they are not a continuous trilogy but one that shares a common theme. If they are as emotionally wrought as Elsie, then I would recommend picking them up, especially if you’re a part of the kindle unlimited program. If you are, then you can read them both for free. Plus, they are all relatively short. So, if you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read that will have you questioning the meaning of the word ‘home’ then I would definitely consider picking up this trilogy.

When I first started reading, I did not know what to expect. The cover, while beautiful, does not tell me much about the content. Still, I was rather pleased with what I received. It was a short, well-written piece of work that I would recommend to anyone looking for a heartwarming tale of a woman named Elsie.

Score: 4.5/5

***

Story/plot: 4

Characters: 5

Language: 4

Enjoyability: 5

***Score determined by Review Rubric***

***

*If you read Elsie, then let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Or, if you have any further questions about the story, comment that too.

*Like my project? Consider becoming a patron. Or, click one of my Amazon affiliate links if you plan on buying something for yourself (or maybe someone else). You don’t have to buy what I have listed so long as you remain inside the same tab while making your purchase.

*For your convenience, here’s the link to Holt’s Amazon author page where you can find all of her work in one place.

*Find me on Goodreads here.

*Thank you!

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Reviews

Dreg (The Dreg Trilogy, #1), by Bethany Hoeflich

Dreg, by Bethany Hoeflich, explores a caste system set in a world of magic. Magic wielders, or Gifted, are given their specific affinity on their first birthday. On that day, a Magi, a male fortune-teller of sorts, performs a reading and decides whether to gift the child or not. From there, they might become expert bakers, deadly weapon masters, or manipulators of water, just to name a few. But then, there are those who are never gifted. These people are called Dregs and they are the lowest of the low. Within this society, it’s fair game to torment and abuse them. Order officials, like the Magi, even seem to make it a pastime of theirs.

Mara, our protagonist, grows up a Dreg. The novel’s prologue does an excellent job of explaining why Mara lacks a gift but still withholds enough information from the reader to keep them in a constant state of suspense. Just like Mara herself, we want to know what the Magi saw during his reading that made him refuse to gift her. And then, when we learn about the truth about that night, we are given another mystery to feed our curiosity. It is this constant influx of mystery and withdrawn information that makes Dreg such a page-turner.

As far as Mara goes, she is not your average blonde. She’s smart, cunning, and extremely loyal to her friends and family. From the start, we learn that she’s a bit of an emotional hot head and I don’t blame her. After years of torment at the hands of the Magi, she is cynical. She suspects that most people are out to get her and she’s not exactly wrong. So, she faces the world with a weapon always at the ready. She’ll put up one hell of a fight even in a losing battle.

My one qualm with Mara is that she never fully develops into the logical young woman I wanted her to be. When tragedy strikes in her hometown and she is forced to find refuge, I expected she would make her fair share of mistakes along the way. Since I already knew she was brash from her actions in Stonehollow, I knew she’d get herself into trouble. What I didn’t expect was for her to make the same mistake time and time again. She grows and develops, sure, but not to the level I expected. I suppose Hoeflich still has two more books to write and therefore more than enough room to mold and shape her as a character but, as it stands, I think that Mara could have developed further. I would have liked her logic toward the end of the story to be one guided by fact and common sense instead of pure emotion. After hours upon hours of training to avoid an emotional abuse of her powers, that’s exactly what she ends up doing. Luckily, certain events makes this a bit more justifiable but there were definitely moments that made me scream, “Why, Mara, why!?”

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic but that’s how immersive the book became. The characters were all well-written and believable. Mara’s ragtag group of friends become part of her family and a part of the reader’s as well. From unique accents to personality quirks, Hoeflich shapes her characters into her own creations. What impressed me most was that these characters were all drastically different and yet, they jived in perfect harmony. Their interactions were smooth and extremely coherent throughout the duration of the book. Outside of Mara, these characters always performed in a way that was expected. Or, if they did something unexpected, I could understand why. Hoeflich definitely has a knack for creating quirky and lovable characters.

And this is why the major plot twist hits so close to home. Of course, I’m not going to ruin it for you but expect to feel like an idiot at some point during the story because Hoeflich artfully leaves behind breadcrumbs for us to notice but we’re so caught up with the action that we never stop to consider them. It’s only after we reach the gingerbread house that we look back and see them scattered all over the book. This level of foreshadowing is definitely the sign of a great writer.

Foreshadowing isn’t Hoeflich’s only forte. She paints her fictional adventure with countless twists and turns from deadly environments, hunger, and the tricky subject of slavery. We are taken on a literal journey as we read this book. We are able to explore Mara’s world and escape our own for a little while and it’s definitely a pleasurable experience because the pacing is perfect. We spend just enough time in each location and never a second more. Even action, which is sometimes rushed in other novels, is stunningly executed in these pages. I was never confused by what was happening and it was always written in such a way that left me with a bit of an adrenaline shock.

To complement these tense moments are pockets of humor. Despite the trying task in front of them, the characters still take the time to laugh and the reader is encouraged to laugh alongside them. It takes a certain level of talent to be able to write humor well but Hoeflich has mastered it to a tee.

The one thing I regret to point out is that the novel does contain a few (5-10) grammatical mistakes. These consisted of mostly word-based issues such as misspelled words, misused words, or missing words. Syntax and overall writing style were flawless so these issues did not, by any means, affect the overall readability. They were more like pebbles on a dirt road than major potholes. With this being Hoeflich’s first book, I’m surprised there wasn’t more wrong with it.

With all this being said, I expect great things for the rest of the series. Since Dreg is marketed as the first book in a trilogy, I think it’s safe to say that Hoeflich already has the next two books in the works. I look forward to them and after an excellently written epilogue, I’m definitely ready for more. I hope she doesn’t make me wait much longer.

Overall, I would recommend Dreg to anyone who’s a fan of YA (Young Adult) Fantasy. Based on the cover alone, I expected this book to be about some low-level archer, quasi Robin Hood, but I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading and found a riveting story of revolution and social upheaval backed by a solidly-built world.

Score: 4.5/5

***

Story/plot: 5

Characters: 4

Language: 4

Enjoyability: 5

***Score determined by Review Rubric***

***

*If you read Dreg, then let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Or, if you have any further questions about the novel, comment that too.

*Like my project? Consider becoming a patron. Or, click my Amazon affiliate link if you plan on buying something for yourself (or maybe someone else). You don’t have to buy Hoeflich’s book as I have listed so long as you remain inside the same tab.

*For your convenience, here’s the link to Dreg.

*Find me on Goodreads here.

*Thank you!

 

 

Posted in Challenges, Halloween Challenge

Halloween Writing Challenge: Winner

Hello everyone! Thank you for your participation in this year’s Halloween Writing Challenge. I had a lot of fun and I hope to do it again next year.

I’ve read each and every submission and I’ve made my choice.

This year’s winner is…

*Drum Rolllllllllllllll*

RAVENSHELLRORSCHACH

Thank you for your witty submissions. I particularly enjoyed your various personas. How can someone deny their love for a sassy dragon?

Unsure? Ready the submission for yourself:

Surreal Killer

“So, finally, I’ve tracked you down.”

“I suppose you have.”

“It’s taken me years, but plotting your movements, judging your motives… It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve finally found you…”

“Yep,” I say, regarding my claws as he does the monologue thing.

“…one of the most notorious serial killers the world has ever known…”

I snort and break into laughter. And keep laughing. So long, he shifts awkwardly, waiting for me to finish.

“Oh, honey,” I say, wiping away tears of mirth. “A serial killer?”

Hercule Poirot here doesn’t look so self-assured anymore.

I look down on him condescendingly. “I’m a creature of chaos… there’s nothing serialized about my killings, I assure you.”

Detective double-takes at this. “…So you do confess to—”

“Yes, yes…” I roll a claw in a get-on-with-it gesture. “They were all horrible people, and they deserved it. Some of them didn’t even taste that great. The question for you is if you’re so smart, why didn’t you bring backup when confronting a mass-murdering dragon?”

“Erp… I…” he starts.

“More to the point, you’ve got two choices. One, you close the case, never mention this to anyone, and live your life. Or two, down the hatch.”

He weighs his options. “Uh… well, obviously… I’ll just go, then, and not tell anyone…”

I tsk at him. “That’s a baaad pokerface, sport. Enjoy the roller-coaster!” I leap on him and gulp him down in one piece. It’s fine. He’s gone to a better, albeit darker and damper, place.

***

Check out some of Raven’s awesome stories on Deviant Art!

And now, the runner up!

I had such a hard time choosing that I needed to acknowledge the runner-up: JAMES SPONSELLER

From the beginning, James impressed me with his prose. Here’s his very first submission and tell me it doesn’t read like a scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

***

When ye host the witches three,

Best ye feed them well…

For if they leave unsatisfied,

They’ll surely cast a spell…

Young Hilda craves fresh eyes of newts,

Captured from the glade…

Matilda wants chilled old snake blood,

She drinks like lemonade…

Dear Flo, who is the last of three,

Requires a special palate…

Don’t fix her types of any cheese,

Just serve her bat wing sallat!

***

Check out James’ blog here.

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

 

Posted in Challenges, Halloween Challenge

Halloween Writing Challenge: Transform into a creature of choice.

It’s All Hollow’s Eve and I’ve transformed not into a creature but a girl who hunts those creatures that go bump into the night.

My gang believes in werewolves and vampires and ghost galore but I know that every situation has a logical and scientific explanation.

I’m the voice of reason when the mask comes off. Oh, they thought they were so clever but not clever enough to fool this girl in the orange turtleneck sweater.

And I may work with a group of idiots but they are certainly my idiots.

Did someone say, “Scooby Snacks?”

My four-legged friend will take a few but I’d rather have my nose in a book.

But, now that I come to think about it, how did I end up in this mystery van?

I think that might be the biggest mystery of all.

***

*Tell me you still dress up for Halloween? If so, tell me what you were this year! If not, tell me what you’d like to be.

*Like my project? Consider becoming a patron. Or, if you plan on making an Amazon purchase, clink the link above. You don’t have to buy the box of Scooby Snacks so long as you make a purchase while remaining on the same tab. Thank you so much!

*Check out the entire Halloween Writing Challenge here. I hope you join us next year. Also, stay tuned for this year’s winner!

*Jinkies, I’ve lost my glasses… again.