First Look at Upon

Here's a sneak peek at Upon-out August 21, 2018!

Chapter One: A World in Flames

The sounds of the drums echoed over the city of Skalavik. The sun had barely broken over the horizon, but, yet, the city was already awake. The starved faces of people peered out of their doors as prisoners were marched through the streets. Legions and castle guards urged them forward as they marched under Vicar Morninghelm’s banner.
The legions’ and guards’ uniforms shone as the early morning sun hit them. The prisoners marched, bound and gagged, under their watchful eye. The legions and guards eyed the citizens, as if they were daring them to come out and change to change their fate.
They marched right over the dead bodies that littered the ground without a second thought, making it seem as if the dead weren’t really there.
No one noticed the young man ducking in the shadows. He belonged to no one, didn’t serve a soul besides himself. The only thing he was worried about was saving his brother who was currently being marched to his death. 
Dreu darted through a small alley. He still hadn’t caught sight of his brother and knew he was running out of time. The gallows were just straight ahead, waiting for this morning’s round of victims. 
If the king kept this up, there would be no one left in Xandria.
It didn’t make sense to him as to why his brother was going to hang. He had not been involved with Dak Morninghelm nor had they even supported him. The brothers had always just kept their heads low, trying to stay completely out of the fight.  They just wanted to have enough to eat. What was so wrong about that?
The sun blinded him as he came out of the darkness. Though he couldn’t see them yet, he could hear them. They would be coming any moment now.
Dreu loaded his ancient bow. He didn’t even know what he was doing, but it was far better sitting around and doing nothing. 
The group marched by him. Ahead, he could see the faint outline of the gallows. He was running out of time.
He quickly scanned the group, but there was no sign of his brother. He crept a little bit further out the shadows, daring not to go much further. His hands shook just a bit as he held the bow.
The group was right in front of him now. He scanned the passing poor souls, but, yet, there was still nothing. The nobles were actually calling out to the condemned, making fun of them. Dreu’s eyes narrowed. Why would you make fun of someone who was about to meet such an awful fate?
Someone was reading something from the gallows, but he didn’t hear the words. Where was his brother? He had to be here! He just had to be! He hadn’t been in any of the earlier death marches.
The group had now came to a complete stop in front of the gallows. Many of them were trying to look brave and failing. A few didn’t even bother to hid their fear. The first group was forced upwards, bagged, and the noose went around their necks. The level was pulled and their life left them. On to the next group...
Dreu kept scanning the group, but there was no sign of his brother. 
Then, something happened. He heard someone yelling at him, pointing at his bow. Swearing, Dreu stepped back into the shadows just as a familiar figure was bagged and the level pulled.
Screams filled his ears as he ran away from the scene. It took him three blocks to realize that the screams were his own.







Queen Amberfall of the Nature Fairies stared at her fleet.  Over the past couple of weeks, it had gone from almost nothing to a real fighting force. She watched as the troops started loading onto them, while Quicksilver and Darkcreek hovered above them. One little mistake earned them a harsh tongue lashing.
She crossed her arms over her chest, breathing in the sea air. Things were going just the way she wanted them to.
The troops marched around her, waiting their turn to board their ship. In a matter of days, they would land on the coast of Xandria, where they would hopefully quickly make contact with Dak Morninghelm. The rumour was he and his small group of troops was on the run after a rather ugly defeat in Leira. It was also rumoured though that Queen Ariana had found refuge in a coastal castle. Hopefully, they would be able to reach the queen without too much difficulty.
“You have a letter,” Diamondrose said as she appeared at Amberfall’s side.
Amberfall looked down at the sealed envelope in Diamondrose’s hands. There was no seal and she didn’t recognize the handwriting. “Thank you,” she muttered, taking the letter.
Diamondrose bowed her head as she turned and walked away.
Amberfall tore open the enveloped and unfolded the letter.
Queen Amberfall,
I am going to make this short, since it is far too dangerous to put too much in writing.
I am pleased to say that things are going according to plan and I will be ready to sail out with you as we have already discussed. If I do not reach you in time, carry through with the plan. Do not wait on me or we will lose everything.
Rauffe
Amberfall quickly refolded the letter and stuffed it into her dress. She just hoped that no one had read the letter. Even though it was sealed, you never could be too careful.
She watched as more troops climbed onto the boats. In about half an hour, everyone would be on and they would be leaving. She looked up at the sky. There was still plenty of daylight, still plenty of time to get a good start.
“Frostfire!” she called as he walked passed her.
He stopped. “I take it that this is important.”
“It is.” She handed him the letter. “Tell me what you think of this.” 
He took the note, staring at it with a frown, and then he slowly looked up at her. “So, he’s really going to join the fight?”
Amberfall took the note back from him, a smile growing on her face. “Looks like we’ve gotten ourselves another ally.”
Frostfire shook his head. “Do I even want to know what you said to win him over?”
“Oh, I just made it seem like Jessimond was being held by Vicar against her own will.” She paused. “If you stop and think about it, she really is. She can’t exactly leave now that Nightstone is there.”
“Remind me just to never get on the wrong on the wrong side you.”
Amberfall shoved the note back into her dress. It had taken everything she had to come up with the lie. Every time she had tried to write something that wasn’t the truth, she became physically ill.  By informing the king that Nightstone was there and was possibly using magic again, it made the words come out a bit easier.
Since Jessimond was now actually being held against her will.
Darkcreek landed in front of her. The fighting armour on the War Lord shone in the sun, making her look even more deadly than she actually was. “Everything is order.”
Amberfall nodded. “Good, we now have to make an extra stop.”
Darkcreek just nodded, much to Amberfall’s surprise. It was about time everyone stopped questioning her.
“We’ll be ready to leave in fifteen minutes,” was all Darkcreek said before she took the sky.
Frostfire eyed Amberfall. “Do you think he’s really ready and just isn’t pushing this to save his daughter?”
Amberfall just shrugged. “I guess we will find out.”
“I need to go check on my troops.” Frostfire gave her a long look. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?”
She nodded. “Yes, I’m sure I will be okay. I can take care of myself.”
Frowning, she watched as he walked away. When was he going to see that she could take care of herself? It wasn’t like she was going to march to Xandria without the support of the army. She was just going to have to put him back in his place; she had let their relationship take control of their ranks.
The last of the troops climbed onto the boats. She shifted around. She had already said goodbye to her sisters. Honeylashes and Purpleflash had both acted as if it was going to be the last time they saw each other.  Amberfall was not going to let that happen. She was going to come back and she was going to back holding Vicar’s head.
She winced. No, killing him wasn’t an option for her. She had already killed once and it had felt awful. She could still see Teodric’s life living him, how painful it had looked. She hated how he seemed to focus on her as he died. Frostfire told her that he hadn’t been looking at her, but she could had sworn he had. She just knew it. 
The ocean breeze lifted up the ends of her hair, blowing red strands into her face. She reached, taming it upon her touch. If only the world was that, able to be tamed with just the touch of a hand. 
Rasorin was still in her mind. The fact that he was moving in Frost Cave Asylum and that Shinydance had predicted him coming back to power did not sit well. If the Dark Wizard and Nightstone were to meet up, she sure didn’t want to be around.
Speaking of Shinydance, the little fairy was dancing up the loading ramp, with a broom in hand. The others had groaned when they found out that Shinydance was going with them to Xandria, but she had to go. She was unlike anything Nature Fairy that Amberfall had ever seen. She could have visions. The visions of a Nature Fairy were almost always right. If Shinydance had anymore visions, Amberfall wanted to make sure that she was the first to hear about them.
She walked up the loading ramp where Shinydance had started sweeping. She was humming a song under her breath, completely unaware of what was going on around her. Maybe it would be best if Shinydance stayed out of the main battle, not only for her own safety, but for the safety of the entire group.
Amberfall put her hand on the other fairy’s shoulder, causing her to jump. “I think the ramp is plenty clean.”
Shinydance bowed, nearly dropping her broom in the process. “Yes, Your Majesty.”  With her broom in hand, she started skipping up the ramp. 
Rolling her eyes, Amberfall followed her up the ramp.
The deck was full of life as the troops bustled around; the officers shouted orders, verbally punishing those who did not comply. The War Lords landed on a neighbouring ship, much to Amberfall’s surprise. It wasn’t as if she actually wanted to sail with them, but she did kind of expect them to at least come over and talk to her.
Frostfire stood next to her, carefully studying what was going on. His wings were still out; the feathers on the tips blew in the gentle wind. “We are ready. Even the human ship is ready.”
Amberfall jerked her head. “Good.” She looked up at the raised deck where the ship’s captain was standing.  The captain caught her eye and her nod.
“Forward!” the captain yelled.
The ship jolted forward. Amberfall started back at the Zanian shore as it grew smaller and smaller. The sea breeze beat against her face. This was it...This was actually happening. They were sailing off to war.
The merpeople jumped through the water, crying out words of support and guidance. She wished they could enlist the help of the merpeople, but there was no way they would survive in the colder Xandrian waters. 
Frostfire leaned against the railing, tucking his wings in, and allowing them to disappear into his skin. “Are you ready for this?”
Amberfall nodded. “Think so.” She stared out into the never ending blue. It really didn’t matter if she was ready or not. This was actually happening. They were going to war.







Queen Ariana Morninghelm looked up from the lengthy report she was working on. If everything went according to plan, Dak would have everything he needed in a matter of days. Everyone thought she was spending all this extra time at the country castle in mourning. No one would ever think that she was actually drafting a war plan.
Dak was going to need all of this. Vicar had everything he needed in order to launch a successful campaign. Dak, on the other hand, had pretty much nothing. He had his assassin training, but that was about it.
She was still surprised that he had gone through with the plan and had actually killed his father. Spilling a little something into Teodric’s drink had been rather brilliant.  Of course, fleeing so quickly had not been in his best interest. What amazed her was the flight of the Nature Fairy Queen. 
“A letter has arrived for you, my Queen,” a servant said, standing in the open doorway.
Ariana smiled sweetly at the servant, trying to shift her face into that of a mourning widow. She was even solid black to add to the affect. It did seem to working; everyone was being extra kind to her. “Thank you.”
“Where would you like me to put it?” the servant asked, still not coming into the room.
Ariana got to her feet. “I’ll take it.” 
The servant didn’t move as she approached. She reached onto the tray, taking the letter. The tray was shaking. Frowning, Airana looked at the servant, who was shaking and had a rather nervous look on his face. Why would a servant so nervous? They were used to working with royalty, so it couldn’t be that.
Unless, he was a spy for Vicar.
She knew there were people watching her, but she really did expect her son to do better than this. 
“You may go.”
The servant scrambled out of the room.
Ariana looked at the letter with a frown. While it didn’t seem like someone had opened it, she couldn’t be sure. She just hoped there wasn’t anything dangerous in it. She didn’t want to have to turn her own hand on Vicar nor did she want him to turn on her.
She broke the unknown seal.
Queen Ariana,
You probably do not know me, but I know your son. He and I work together at his other job. I hope that makes sense.
Anyway, something has come up and it regards your daughter. Our friend, a certain duke who has been exiled from the castle, will not help us unless he has something in return. This is something that Dak and I do not have the authority to grant.
I guess there’s no other way to put this, but he wishes to marry royalty. He has set his eyes on your daughter. He claims that the general will not mind.
I do not wish to be blunt, but we need this deal. If we do not take it, I feel that our cost will be lost. As you know, we are in a hard place and are struggling to get out of this very difficult position. I don’t want to force your hand, but we really do need something. At this point, I would say that any kind of help would be a blessing.
Your son did not wish for me to reach out to you. He doesn’t want you to know how badly our cause is going. If there is anything you can do to help us, it would be greatly appreciated. 
I want to put more in here, but I fear that our movements are being closely watched.
Yours truly,
Ryanon Cinderspear
Ariana pinched her temples as she finished reading the letter. She had intended for Alse to marry General Malculmus Irondrifter in order to gain his legions. However, Duke Aymon Eaglemore would almost be as good. He held just about power in Leira as Irondrifter did, though he didn’t come with legions. However, if Eaglemore could persuade his uncle to loan them the legions, it could work. Eaglemore did certainly have the funds to support Dak’s campaign.
She went back over to her writing desk and pulled out a clean piece of stationary.  She tapped her quill against the desk before she started to write.
Alse would understand. Besides, Duke Aymon Eaglemore was closer to her age than Irondrifter.





Chapter Two: On the Run

Ryanon Cinderspear winced as they sailed through another thick patch of rotten smelling muck. They had been forced to sail through want appeared to be nothing more than swamp land. The greenish-brownish muck clung to the bottom of the boats. The smell that was left in their wake made her wish that she was back in the stink of Skalavik.
Tamsin sat on the deck, staring up at the circling buzzards. Her double bladed swords rested on the deck beside her. Dak and Kody were nowhere to be seen. “This is just disgusting,” the Necrarian said, wrinkling up her nose.
Ryanon just nodded. She was tired of being on this boat, tired of not being able to set foot on land. They had been on the run since their defeat in Leira. It was either run or have all of those poor innocent souls butchered.
It was kind of strange seeing a duke living in these conditions. She still hadn’t gotten used to seeing Aymon out with men-working, doing manual labour. Most of Irondrifter’s legions were also here. She had even catch sight of the infamous general. It was just strange to think of someone like Irondrifer as being on the run.
Tamsin looked up at Ryanon. “You’re being oddly quiet. I would have thought you would have been in on all of the planning.”
Ryanon leaned against the railing, wincing as some of the slime coated her clothes. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. “It’s not really my area.”
Tamsin just snorted. “Everyone’s afraid that the Suppressor of Essences are going to blow.”
“It better not, not after what we had to go through to get it on here.” Ryanon narrowed her eyes. The Suppressor of Essences had been loaded onto the ships in the middle of a rather messy retreat. The ground had been soaked in mud, which made everything sink. Plus, they had to sneak around Vicar’s army. She didn’t want to think what would had happened had Vicar’s army gotten wind of what they had been doing. It still baffled her how they had managed to pull this miracle off.
The fleet turned, heading deeper into the swamp land. The bottoms scrapped against the gritty swamp, sending another fresh wave of stink into the air. Ryanon sighed. Surely, it would be safe enough for them to set foot on land soon. She couldn’t think that Vicar would be chasing them through this wasteland.
The sun didn’t reach this part of the swamp. The darkness set in around them, like a heavy blanket. Ryanon’s eyes shifted up to the trees, expecting to see eyes watching them, but there was nothing more than bits of sunlight, not enough to light the way. 
The long limbs of the trees bent down to greet the ships, brushing against them in almost a reassuring way. Their faint hiss reminded Ryanon of boots landing beside her.
She stared down the narrow channel. It seemed to grow narrower and narrower the further they went. The ships in front were being forced into a single file line. At least, now they would have more legions to cover them in case Vicar’s army did happen to make an appearance.  
Beside her, Tamsin reached for her deadly twin blades, as she started to scan the shoreline. It was far too close for Ryanon’s liking. There were plenty of places for an awaiting army to attack. The undergrowth was so thick that there was simply no way they would be able to see anyone.
Ryanon jumped at every movement, even if it was just a bird taking flight.  She kept on looking and looking. There was no way that Vicar’s had let them come this far without having so kind of a plan to ambush them. They were probably out there, just waiting for Dak’s army to wear down or think that they had reached safety. 
“Anything?” Tamsin whispered.
Ryanon shook her head as she changed her grip on her sword.  “No.” She stared at the green landscape. Now that summer was quickly approaching, the brush was growing so close together. It was the perfect hunting ground, but not so great if you were the one being hunted. 
Logs beneath the boat cracked and groaned as they kept going forward. Brush from above rained down on them as the tall sails brushed against the low baring trees. Ryanon looked forward. A few of the taller ships were being forced to lower their sails, which was going to slow them down even more. 
If there was one thing that they could not be right now, it was sitting still. An army that wasn’t on the move was most certainly a dead one. 
The channel narrowed even more. The shore was just in touching distance right now. If Vicar’s army was out there, now would be the time for them to attack. Ryanon took a small step back from the edge of the ship, nearly knocking the legion behind her down. He just growled as she jumped away. She shot him a sweet and innocent smile.
They were slowly making their way around a rather sharp turn. It almost reminded her of a horseshoe. The larger ship in front of them was kind of holding them up. Not only was its massive balk slowing them up, but it was also carrying most of the Suppressor of Essences.  The other flag ship had the rest of them. She hadn’t even been aware of the duke having so many. Why did he even need that many weapons?
Unless he had been planning on selling them....
A few snakes hung from the branches. Their bodies almost blended completely in with the brush. They only that thing that gave them away was the flicking of their tongues and their tiny, unblinking yellow eyes. A few of them actually hissed at the passing boats, as if they could scare them away. The legions just laughed and stabbed at them.
Ryanon frowned.
A legion close to her saw her expression. “You’ll get hungry.”
“Huh?”
The legion held up an impaled snake right in front of her. Blood ran out of the hole. “This will be mighty fine eating after you’ve been on the run for a while and can’t get supplies.” Others quickly joined in on their laughter.
Ryanon flicked the dead snake away. “You clearly are in need of some new ways to frighten women. This is nothing compared to what I usually do to men.”
The legion gently touched her cheek. “A pretty thing like you?” He snorted. “You probably couldn’t harm a fly.”
Ryanon shoved her sword into his stomach. Though she didn’t use enough force to actually harm him, she did put enough pressure behind it in order for him to get her message. He just looked down at her sword, then back at her, with a smirk. She applied just a little bit more pressure; this time making it enough for him to actually feel it.  Now, it was her turn to smile at his wince.
Tamsin just cleared her throat, almost as if she was reminding them just of where they were.
Ryanon removed her sword. “Just remember what I can do,” she hissed at the legion.
The legion looked wide eyed at his stomach, almost as if he were expecting blood to start pouring out of him.  He looked back up at her with a wide mouth. She could see his mind racing, but he just couldn’t quite make the words come out.
Ryanon batted her eyes at him. “That’s what I thought.” She turned her back on him, positive that he wasn’t going to anymore trouble.
Tamsin rolled her eyes. “Was that really necessary?”
Ryanon eyed her. “Are you telling me that you wouldn’t have done the same thing?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. We need each other. I was just thinking you would remember that.”
“I do, but we can’t let them walk all over us. They need to see us as their equals.” Ryanon looked at Tamsin. “Is that what you want?”
“Yeah, it is, but can we do so without having to kill each other?”
Ryanon just snorted. She wasn’t about to make any such promise.
Their boat made it around the turn without any trouble. Now, they were actually in what appeared to be a small river with clear water. Ryanon let the fresh air warm in her lungs. She had never known that being in clean air could feel so good.
Below them, the water life went on as normal; just by looking at them, you would think there wasn’t a war fleet sailing right over them. The water was so calm and clear that Ryanon could see schools of fish fishing. Just ahead, she could see a beaver paddling across the open water, pushing a log. On the large rocks, turtles sunned themselves, slowly raising their heads as the ships sailed by.
The flag ships were letting their sails out, just as the wind started to pick up. The sails flapped in the air as they raced back into formation. The legions shouted back and forth from the different ships, yelling out sea terms that Ryanon hadn’t heard before.
Her eyes shifted around to the coves. While most of them weren’t big, they were big enough for a single warship to wait. Each one, thankfully, remained empty. If there was anyone lurking, they were bound to hear all of the yelling.
“I need to show you something,” a voice said, directly behind her.
She turned. Dak Morninghelm stood behind her, dressed in commoner clothes, something that she had hardly ever seen him in. Though his stance was relaxed, she could see the tension on his face.
“What it is?” Ryanon asked.
Dak pressed on the small of her back, leading her away from the group. Tamsin watched. Ryanon opened her mouth to call out to her, but Kody appeared. She watched as Tamsin and Kody disappeared into the masses.
Dak led her below deck, their boots clomping on the steps. Though above deck smelled better, it most certainly did not down here.
He led her down the narrow hallway, past all of the sleeping quarters. She peered in each on, only to find them empty. She knew it he wouldn’t talk until they were completely alone. There was no easy way to search the sleeping areas for bugs.
They reached the end of the hall, where a closed door greeted them. Dak pushed it open and shoved her into the captain’s chambers.
Ryanon ran her hand along Kody’s smooth desk. It wasn’t as fancy as his office in Moldatun, but it was still fancy enough. He most certainly did like to live in style. Her eyes darted around the room. With this much stuff in here, it would be easy for someone to hide a bug in here. Though she didn’t think anyone on the ship would betray them at this point, she just didn’t know. People turned on each other all the time for different reasons.
Dak went behind the desk and opened a desk. “This came earlier today. I don’t know how my mother did it, but she did.” He slipped a letter across the table. “I guess she did get your note.”
Ryanon took the note. It wasn’t long, but it was enough. “She’s agreed to it.”
Dak nodded. “Yes.”
She started back at the note. It did seem to be real. She looked back at Dak. “How did she find us?” she whispered. “If she can find us, then anyone can.”
“I don’t know. The thought has crossed my mind.” He moved out from behind the desk and went over to the window at the front of the room. Only the water and their fleet greeted them. “I really do think that my brother is probably gloating right now. He knows it would be foolish to attack us while we are expecting it.” He made a fist. “I wager that my brother is waiting for us to wear down, and then he will come after us.”
Ryanon joined him in front of the window. “I mean, this is a good sign.” She looked at Dak. “Have you told Aymon?”
Dak shook his head. “No, he’s on a different boat anyway.”
Ryanon took Dak’s hand into her own. “If Vicar decides to attack, there’s really nothing that we can do to prevent it. It’s going to happen again, you do know what?”
He nodded. “I know. I’m just hoping that Amberfall can rejoin us before that happens. Since he has the giants and probably the Iron Fairies, we sure could use her army on our side.”
“I know.” Ryanon crossed her arms over her chest, still holding the note close. This was what she had been hoping for. Now that the duke has gotten his way, he would give them access to his wealth. The only problem was getting him access to it to give it to them. She just really hoped he didn’t keep it in Leira; he was surely smarter than that.
“I think we’re getting everything we ever wanted,” Dak said, breaking the silence.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I think things are finally going to start shaping up.”
“I hope so.”
She kissed his sweet check, letting his scent fill his nose. She really did hope he was right. If he wasn’t, then she hated to think what would happen to them.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway Book Review

Book: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Goodreads First Reads and the publisher, Simon and Schuster, for sending me a review copy.

I must say that I have not read any of Ruth’s books until now. All of my friends were reading this one and it sounded really good. I was actually very surprised at how much and how quickly I was drawn into the book. It was one of those that just kept on calling and calling. I read huge sections of it in one sitting. I loved the gothic, yet modern, feel I got.

Hal, our main character, reads tarot cards for a living. She lives in alone and is really down on her luck. Then, one day, she gets a letter saying that her grandmother has passed away and she needs to come to Cornwell. The only problem is that Hal has no living family. I know, it doesn’t sound like much so far. Hal is the main character that we call can relate to. She is down on her luck and pressed for money, which I think most of us have been through at some point in our lives-if you haven’t, then you are one of the lucky ones. She is lonely and not the best looking main character, which is kind of a relief. How many books do we read where the main character has it all? I really enjoyed Hal’s character, let me just put it that way.

The other characters were also well done. Unlike Hal, we really don’t know that much about them, which is understandable. I mean, these people are Hal’s long lost family, so we can’t be expected to know everything that there is to know about them. I also adds to the overall sense of mystery around the book.

The build up throughout the book is really unlike any other that I have read. The further I read, the deeper and deeper I found myself being pulled into the story. Yes, as many people have pointed out, it is a slow build up, but I find that it makes the overall quality of the book that much better. I mean, we have creepy characters in a gothic setting-picture The Woman in Black if you will. It really did remind me a lot of that. No, this isn’t a supernatural story, but just the way that your mind is messed with will leave you wanting to keep reading and reading. Once you are in, it’s so hard to get out.

Overall, a really great read! If this book is nominated for a Goodreads Award 2018, it will have my vote!

The Secret Book Review

Book: The Secret
Author: Jessica Edwards
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank the author, Jessica Edwards, for providing me with this ARC.

So, this is the fifth book that I have read by Jessica and I must say that she keeps getting better and better with each book. I actually do prefer The Secret over Small Town-a lot of people think differently. I thought the plot and characters were a lot more developed and complex than they were in Small Town. The world is a lot different. I’ve not read a lot of books like this, so it was a pleasant different read.

At first, I thought the characters were a bit immature, but that changed as the book went on. It was like after about fifty or so pages, they suddenly grew up. I was very drawn to their stories and background. I thought they all really added to the story. I did like Maggie, but it is really here character that made me knock a star off the book. She was too much of a Mary Sue; it just seemed like no matter what she did, she was good at. While she does struggle in the book, its not with anything that she actually does. I don’t know; I just thought that maybe she was a little bit too prefect.

The plot is really quick moving. I felt like as soon as I started reading it, it was over. I really did enjoy getting to read this darker plot and seeing another side of Jessica’s writing. I liked the complex nature and how as I read, more and more layers just kept on being pulled back. It was really cool to see how everything just kind of melted into each other at the end.

Now, we do have a cliff hanger and I’m not sure if and when a second book will come out. There are some trigger warnings. There is a lot of sexual stuff and kind of graphic content, so I do not recommend this one for younger readers.

The Secret is out now, so you can go over to Amazon to pick up your own copy.

Upon Promotional Tour

Upon Promotional Tour
Hello all! I am super excited to release Upon on August 21, 2018! The book is already up for preorder on Amazon and Smashwords.

So, here are a few tour dates. More may be added later on.


Smashwords Book Sale! (edit)
July 07, 2018 01:07PM
Smashwords, US

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AlysonSerenaStone
Once and Storytime are free! Sorry, they are not free on Amazon at this time.




Upon Sneak Peek! (edit)
Author appearance, July 13, 2018 06:49PM
LiveJournal, US

http://serenastone.livejournal.com/profile
First look at Upon-Out August 21, 2018!





Upon Sneak Peek! (edit)
July 21, 2018 06:45PM
Fictionpress, US

https://www.fictionpress.com/u/773118/AlysonSerenaStone
First look at Upon-Out August 21, 2018!




Upon Promotion Stop (edit)
Author appearance, July 25, 2018 07:02PM
Pretty Hot, US

http://pretty-hot.com/
Get a detailed look at Upon!


Upon Sneak Peek! (edit)
Author appearance, July 28, 2018 11:47PM
Inkhitt, US

https://www.inkitt.com/alysonserenastone
First look at Upon-Out August 21, 2018!




Upon Release Date! (edit)
August 21, 2018 12:10AM
Smashwords/Amazon, US

Upon will be released August 21, 2018! Here's the purchase link: Smashwords: htt ...more




Upon Promotion Stop (edit)
August 22, 2018 06:56PM
Discount Book Man, US

https://discountbookman.com/
Get a detailed look at Upon!




Upon Promotion Stop (edit)
September 01, 2018 07:05PM
Awesome Gang, US

http://awesomegang.com/
Get a detailed look at Upon!

Sadie Book Review

Book: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with this ARC.

So, this book has been appearing on my feed a lot. To be honest whenever I put my name in for an ARC, I wasn’t even sure what Sadie was about. I was taken by surprise and this surprise ended up being a good one. I really enjoyed it. This is my first Courtney Summers book and I know I will be back for more.

Courtney digs into the darkest parts of the real world-parts that we really don’t want to go into. While most young adult books feature main characters who live a rather comfortable life, the characters in Sadie are faced everyday with struggles and darkness. We are taken into the deepest and darkest parts of a teenage girl’s mind-one that most people think doesn’t actually exist. We get to experience grief, hardship, hope, love, and fear. It is like you are a teenager again, expect I’m sure that many of us haven’t been through what Sadie has.

Courtney makes you feel really deeply for both Sadie and Mattie. You become a part of their daily lives and just simply really feel for them. Mattie is Sadie’s entire world and once she loses her, she will do anything and everything to make it right. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking we’ve had this a million times, but I truly did feel something for them. Everything is a lot more complicated than what it looks on the surface and you will find yourself drawn to them. I promise….

Sadie isn’t your normal young adult lead either. She’s not perfect. She has a severe stutter, which I think is a nice touch. How many strong young adult characters do we come across with a speech disorder? Not very many. And how many kids have them? A lot! I think it will draw a lot of readers to Sadie’s character…Anyway…She is determined to find out who killed her sister and will do anything to avenge her sister’s death. She is determined, loyal, and not afraid to get her hands dirty. Unlike so many characters, she does have to bring out the claws and it’s so heartbreaking. She is alone and has no one. Those who should be there for her aren’t.

I think what really adds to the story is the writing. We switch back and forth between Sadie and a radio show. Now, I personally thought that this was a nice mix. I don’t know if everyone else feels this way, but I enjoyed it. McCray is not really involved in the situation, but at the same time, he is. It kind of reminded me of those crime investigation shows on TV-can’t think of what they are called at the moment. Anyway….I thought it added an extra punch to the story.
So, we really don’t find out what happened to Sadie at the end. It really does make you wonder and leave you wanting for me. However, I don’t know if a second book is needed. Sadie going into the unknown just kind of fits her character.

There are a few trigger warnings though. This book does deal with drug abuse, sex abuse, and pedophilia. I would not recommend Sadie to younger readers.

Overall, a great read! I really enjoyed it.

This book comes out September 4, 2018.

Upon News!

Today I uploaded the cover and official summary for Upon. It will be out some time in August. I'm hoping to have the finishing touches on it done in a few weeks. It is not up for preorder at this time.
I am offering ARCs. Right now, PDF only.
Summary:
Long live the king! With the death of King Teodric Morninghelm, life was supposed to get a little bit easier for Ryanon and Dak and their new allies. Betrayals run thick, lives are lost, and friendships are tested as the streets run with blood. Life keeps getting more and more complicated as Vicar takes the throne of Xandria.

Fire and Heist Book Review

Book: Fire and Heist
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with this ARC.

I will admit that I did find this one rather difficult to rate. I was going somewhere between a three and a four star rating. It was good in some parts, but rather dragging in others. I did go with the higher rating. I found the writing to be decent and the characters developed.

The plot was very original. I wasn’t expecting the main characters to be the dragons. I was expecting them to more or less work with the dragons. Maybe I should have read the summary a little bit closer. Anyway, I do have to give Sarah a lot of credit for coming up with such an original plot. I mean, think about it. How many young adult books are out there about dragons? Not a lot. I think those who are looking for something very different in young adult fantasy will pick this up and really enjoy it.

So, the actual moving along of the plot was just okay. I really did feel like that some parts of the plot moved along rather nicely, while others just seemed to drag on forever, and others just seemed to be so rushed. I don’t know if anyone else has commented on this, but it just made everything seem a little bit sloppy to me.

The characters were developed, but they just weren’t as developed as some of the other young adult books that I have read. I was able to get a sense of who they were and what they were like, but I just didn’t bond with them like I do in books that I give a five star rating to. I know it’s hard to develop characters for a stand alone, but this just felt like they weren’t as developed as they could be.

In terms of the fantasy, yes, we do have an original plotline, but it just felt like it wasn’t as developed as it could had been. Maybe the book should had been longer or it should had been extended into a series. I mean, I did enjoy it, but I just felt like it could had been better. However, I will admit that I did like the fact that the world really wasn’t that complicated. Sometimes we get some fantasies that the world is so complicated that it is next to impossible to keep everything straight. I know a lot of people are complaining about this, but I personally liked it.

I liked the simple writing as well. Sarah’s writing just flowed, which made me look over a lot of the issues in the book. Personally, it was the writing that actually made me give this one a higher rating.

Fire and Heist comes out December 4, 2018.

The Girl in the Tower Paperback Out Now!

The Girl in the Tower Paperback Out Now!


I am completely in love with Katherine Adren’s books. I am happy to announce that The Girl in the Tower is now out in paperback at all major book sellers! So, what are you doing sitting here still reading this post. Get out there and get yourself a copy.


Summary:
The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.



What Did I Think?


Book: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

Let me let you in on a little secret...Katherine Arden is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. I was first introduced to her through The Bear and the Nightingale last year and just fell in love with both her writing and characters. So, whenever Del Rey emailed me and asked me if I would be interested in a review copy of The Girl in the Tower, I said yes right away and went back to the wonderful world of Katherine Arden and Russian fairy tales.

It has been well over a year since I first read The Bear and the Nightingale. I was a little worried that I may not remember what happened in the first book, but I was surprised. It was so easy to get right back into the world and remember the plot line. In this second book, there is far more world developing and a lot more adventure than The Bear and the Nightingale. The stakes seem to be even higher and the characters have grown so much. Of course, it’s been ten years, but still, it’s just a wonderful continuation of what we got to see in The Bear and the Nightingale.

The mixture of both history and fairy tale just comes alive in Katherine’s writing. I love the backdrop of Russia and the time period. We have a very healthy mixture of both fantasy and real events. We have some romance, fighting, and political issues, which make for a very complex world and just as complex characters to go along with it. All of this just makes for an edge of your seat adventure that will leave you wanting more.

Vasya is back and better than ever. Everything that she was in The Bear and the Nightingale is still here, but she’s so much stronger and an even more complex character. She is brave and refuses to play by the rules that society has set up for women. This in turn makes her kind of an outcast in the eyes of so many; the even go as far as to call her a witch. I just love her and think that with all of her flaws she is the perfect lead!

Now, let’s talk about the real stuff. We have the Tartars and the real Grand Prince of Moscow. I just love how Katherine manages to weave these real events into the realm of fantasy. All of the problems that the country faces are more developed in here, as well as the fairy tale elements, which are used to help out with the real events. I am just stunned at how she was able to do this. I can’t think of too many authors who have this ability and gift.
Overall, a great, great read! If you loved The Bear and the Nightingale, you must read this!

Smoke and Iron Out July 3, 2018!

Hello, everyone! So a few months ago, I featured Rachel Caine’s book, Smoke and Iron here. I am so happy to announce that it will be out on July 3, 2018! So what are you going still reading this post? Go out and buy yourself a copy!


Summary:
To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Timesbestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making...if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

Buy links: Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Books a Million, Indiebound, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play

Author social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook


What Else?
So, here’s my own thoughts on the book.




Book: Smoke and Iron
Author: Rachel Caine
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with this ARC. Actually, this is the third ARC in the series that I have received over the past few years and I would really like to thank you for that!

The Great Library is one of those series that I have come to look forward to reading. I don’t know why it’s not more popular that it is, but it really should be. It has all the great makings of a wonderful and fun series. We have action, a mixture of characters, romance, and, well, pretty much everything that a great book needs.

Smoke and Iron picks right up where Ash and Quill left off. There really is no review of what happened in the previous books, which is something that I like. We are right in the middle of the action with all of the characters pretty much in danger and trying to get out of it…I know, I know, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it’s the best I can come up with.

All of the characters are there. We have a heathy mixture of characters from different background. Pretty much anything you can think of it and it is there. Like in the other books in the series, we have a large cast, but it’s not hard to keep track of who is who. Rachel really does write such well developed characters and this is what makes it really easy to keep them all straight. I love how strong all of them are in their unique ways and how loyal they are to each other. However, there is still that human element that makes them seem real and pulls the reader into their story.

The writing was flawless as usual. I have been a Rachel Caine fan for years now and I have not read a story where the writing was not put together. I love the way everything flows and how she somehow manages to trap you into the story and makes it hard to get out. I really love the simple, yet complex, nature of the writing and how she has just the right amount of action/romance/everything else without managing to make it too overwhelming. I also thought that she does an amazing with getting the right amount of the story into the book.

Now, this book does not have a complete plot line and will be continued in the final book, which I am not sure when it comes out.

Smoke and Iron will be released July 3, 2018.

Winter Cursed

Book: Winter Cursed
Author: Nicki Chapelway
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Nicki Chapelway for providing me with a free copy.

I must say that Snow White has never been my favourite fairy tale. There’s just something about it that I really didn’t enjoy. I actually don’t read a lot Snow White retellings, but the summary made this one sound really promising. Yes, we do have the normal elements of Snow White, but there was just something about this one that I found myself really enjoying.

The writing is beautiful. The story is set in the winter, I think-don’t hold me on that one. It kind of had that feel of the Red Riding Hood movie. It was dark and full of mystery, but, yet, it was beautiful. The details in the writing allowed me to create a beautiful picture in my mind of this rather dark world. Nicki’s writing really moved everything along and just had that right touch that I have come to expect in a fantasy novel.

The plot was short and to the point. The book is only a little over a hundred pages, but I felt like everything was there and I didn’t find myself thinking that stuff was under developed. The plot was just as strong and as well written as a five hundred page fantasy. This books shows you that a short book can have all the elements of a longer book.

The characters were well developed and complex. Yes, there is a rather large cast of characters, but they all get their voice and turn in the spotlight. I didn’t feel like there was too large of a cast. Nicki just did a wonderful job with finding that balance for all of the characters. The last Snow White retelling I read have an even larger cast and it just didn’t work out. Maybe Nicki could give that author some advice….Just saying.

This darker tale of Snow White is a great epic fantasy. So, why did I give it a four star instead of a five star? Other than it being a little bit darker than the original story, the characters are really the same and the overall storyline hasn’t changed from the original. It’s fine, but in my retellings, I do like to have a little bit of variation from the original tale. I know there’s going to be another book, so maybe in that one we do get to see that change.

Winter Cursed is a good short read. I read it in a couple of hours. It does have a cliff hanger, so be warned. I do think it is worth your time to pick this up, especially if you are into fantasy and retellings.