Friday, August 31, 2018

The Worth of a Blog Tour: Hero's Perspective: Delaney

Hey'a again, everyone! It's another day of the Worth of a King blog tour! Today, I'm super excited because I got to interview my absolute favorite character from Worth: Delaney! I can't wait to share the interview with you . . . but first, a bit about the book and author.

About Worth of a King

Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.
Read the first chapter here.
Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

About Kendra E. Ardnek

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon

Interview with Delaney

Hello, Delaney! Welcome to Hero’s Perspective! To begin, can you share a little about who you are, what you do, and maybe a random fact or two?

Hello, I'm the Crown Prince of Dialica, and my job mostly entails minimizing the damage that my father does. Random facts - I'm fascinated by politics, much to the amusement of my sister, Nadilynn, and my future wife, Obsidia. Also, I'm not really a fan of spicy foods.

Neither am I, my friend. Next, can you briefly share your thoughts on the other major characters (including the villain)?

Let's see, there are quite a few major characters in this story, but I shall do my best.

Adrian - a good-hearted fellow, and so much like his sister that I'm surprised that fewer people haven't seen it.

Nadilynn - my sister and far too good and innocent and pure for the life she's been trapped in.

The Immortal King and Queen - an inspiration to us all.

My father - I don't ... I don't even know where to begin with him.

Obsidia - I wish more than anything that she could have had a better life.
Ah, yes, Speaking of Obsidia, let's zero in on her for a moment. We know that you grew up together, of course, but did you always get along? If not, when did you become friends? And when did you realize that you cared for her as something more than a friend?

Obsidia isn't someone who you don't get along with. She was always as important to me as my sister, Nadilynn. And yet, I didn't realize just how important she was to me until ... until ... I nearly lost her.

Awwww. Ok, so, who would you say influenced you most when you were growing up? In what way?

The Immortal King and Queen. Especially the King. Amber taught me how to rule, but Granite taught me how to respect the power given to me.

That's marvelous. And I do love the interacts I got to see between you and Granite in Worth. Moving on, momentarily: what was the best part of your adventures in Worth of a King? The hardest part? (I understand that you can’t share spoilers, but whatever you can say...)

The hardest part was every time I failed. The best was when it was all over.

I'm sure. Ok, fun question time! If you could have a day off to do whatever you wanted to do, wherever you wanted to do it (no limits on the where; we’ve got portal technology to make it happen!), what would you do and where would you go?

I ... really don't know. I'm not someone to run from my responsibilities, and I have a lot of responsibilities where I am. I would like to see the world that Amber and Granite came from. It must have been so terrifying to be exposed to so much space. I wonder if they were afraid that they'd fall off their world at every moment. I would be...

I can tell you for a fact that you get used to it. Final question: if you could go back to the start of the story and give yourself one piece of advice, would you? And if so, what would you say?

I ... I would. I'd tell myself to not expect myself to be perfect. To expect myself to make mistakes. But that they won't mean that I can't succeed. That ... we can't succeed. Because I'm not the only one in play.

Good advice for us all to keep in mind. Thanks for answering my questions!

As always, don't forget to check out the rest of the blog posts and comment for a chance to win a special prize! Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tour Stop: Friday, August 31

Knitted By God’s Plan: Messing with Jack
Lit Aflame
Light and Shadows
Lands Uncharted – Kendra E. Ardnek
Dreams and Dragons – Delaney

Or find the full tour schedule here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Worth of a Blog Tour: Book Review

Hey'a, everyone! As promised, I'm here with the blog tour for one of my most anticipated books of the summer: The Worth of a King by Kendra E. Ardnek! I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am that this book is releasing, or how much I love it — well, scratch that; I actually can, and I will in a moment when I review the book. But first, a little about Worth and Kendra.

About Worth of a King

Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.
Read the first chapter here.
Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

About Kendra E. Ardnek

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon

The Worth of a King Review

THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK, Y'ALL. If you haven't read, or at least bought, The Worth of a King, you need to change that right this minute. Go ahead. You can pick it up on Kindle here. If you really want to the paperback . . . well, you'll have to wait a little for that, but still.

Ok. I should probably try to be serious, 'cause this book is seriously amazing. I didn't really think Kendra would top Lady Dragon, Tela Du anytime soon — eventually, sure, but not with the very next full-length novel she releases. And, ok, to be fair, I'm not sure if Worth absolutely tops LDTD . . . but it comes pretty storming close, let me tell you.

So. What makes this book so awesome? For starters, the characters are wonderful. We've got pre-scale Amber and Granite, who I was definitely most excited for — and they don't disappoint, trust me. It's so nice to see them both happy and working as a team, especially Granite. And, I mean, they're still in love after 2,000-ish years and it's adorable. I love them inordinately much. And Laura's there too, which is fun, though also a little sad — I think this is one of the books where you really see the toll that being the Doorkeeper takes on Laura, and it makes your heart hurt for her. Plus she occasionally drops references to things that happen in the Rizkaland Legends or the time between, which range from squeal-over Easter eggs to storm you, Kendra, why'd you have to remind me of that, that was not ok.

Oh. Speaking of things that aren't ok: that epilogue. I mean, I appreciate the symmetry and artistry and all that, but it makes me sad. You'll understand why when you read the book. Trust me.

Anyway! Back to the characters! Besides old friends, we have new ones, and the best of those is Delaney. Delaney is a wonderful human being. He's not without flaws, but he's still an astonishingly good person. The poor boy has as much stacked against him as Obsidia or Adrian, perhaps even more in some ways, but he still manages to persevere and remain strong and even encourage the others. And he has every opportunity to become a villain or a betrayer, but he doesn't. And he and Obsidia are wonderful together — they balance each other splendidly, and they're just so sweet and lovely.

That's not to say that the characters who aren't Delaney aren't excellent, though. Obsidia and Adrian are both interesting in their own way, and their character development is magnificent. Nadilynn, I didn't expect to like as much as she did. She has hidden depths, that girl. Again, excellent character development. Ossian was a compelling villain — not evil for evil's sake, and quite intelligent in how he goes about his villainy— and I approved of how Kendra ended his story. Actually, I really liked the ending in general. Not saying much because spoilers, but Kendra didn't take the obvious solutions.

The worldbuilding is also excellent. The world itself is another interesting concept: a place where the world is on the inside of a sphere instead of the outside. The different cultures in the world were interesting, though only two were really expanded much. And I quite liked all the different little details Kendra used to flesh out those two cultures. (Super random and small example that I really liked for some reason: she doesn't use the standard names for seasons, months, and so on.) I will admit that certain things seem kind of crazy, but then again, certain things about real-world political systems also sometimes seem kind of crazy.

Plot-wise, the story flows well. It's not a fast-paced or action-packed read by any means, but it doesn't need to be. Between character development and actual plot events, there was plenty of tension to keep me interested and turning the pages. And, as I said before, I think the ending is excellent.

The book does have a couple flaws. Action scenes aren't Kendra's strong point, and it shows. (That said, I can see improvement between this and her previous books.) Wording is occasionally a little odd as well, mostly when characters speak in a way that's more modern than I expect. Still, these are small issues, and I'm more than willing to overlook them.

So, yes. The Worth of a King is an excellent book, and you all need to read it immediately. Or, at least, very soon. Trust me, you won't regret it.

I hope you enjoyed that and that you're excited to read Worth! Don't forget to check out the rest of today's tour stops and comment on them for a chance to win a special prize! Kendra is also hosting a giveaway for a paperback edition of Worth on her blog, so make sure you take a look at that as well! And check this space again on Friday for a special interview with one of my favorite characters!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tour Stop: Wednesday, August 29

Knitted By God’s Plan: A Young Amber and Granite
Dreams and Dragons
Keturah’s Korner
Laterose Doll Clothes and Doll Repair – Kendra E. Ardnek
H.S.J. Williams – Kendra E. Ardnek
Light and Shadows – Amber

Or find the full tour schedule here.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Spice Bringer Blog Tour: Interview, Review, and More!

Hey'a, everyone! This is a big week, since it features not one but two blog tours! Later this week, I'll be spotlighting one of my most anticipated books of this summer, but today, we've got Spice Bringer, a lovely India-inspired fantasy by H.L. Burke. In this post, I'll be sharing an interview with the author, a review of the book, and more — but first, a little about book and author.

About Spice Bringer

A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya's known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death.

Autographed paperback preorders from Uncommon Universes Press are currently 14.99 (regularly 17.99) with free shipping to US locations! 

About H.L. Burke

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Interview with H.L. Burke

Hello, Heidi! Welcome to Dreams and Dragons! To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself? Who you are, hobbies, favorite books (other than your own), anything else you'd like to share?

I'm a military spouse, mother of two super hero princesses, servant to a majestic tiger beast (aka my cat, Bruce), and sometimes dragon wrangler who writes books because real life needs expanded upon. My favorite books are Coraline, The Little Prince, The Brothers Kamazov, and the Lord of the Rings (which counts as one)... probably others, but that's a good sampling of my moods. My hobby include light gaming, sometimes crochet, and messing with my kids.

Nice! So, Spicebringer sounds like a fairly unusual book. How did you come up with the idea, and what books, movies, or other sources influenced you while you were writing it?

It was actually a Youtube trivia channel that inspired the story. I was watching a video on the origins of salt and pepper as the primary seasonings in western cuisine, and there was this briefly made comment that spice merchants used to talk up pepper by claiming it was harvested from groves guarded by fiery serpents or something like that. That got me wondering, what sort of spice would be so valuable that people would brave fiery serpents to have it and what would happen if someone threatened said spices. Also, I don't know if it counts as inspired, but I sneaked in a Princess Bride reference.

That's fabulous. I think I missed the Princess Bride reference, though. What was the hardest part about writing Spicebringer? The best part?

The hardest part is kind of a spoiler, but let's just say about the midway point something happens that is sad, very sad, so sad. I don't write things that are that sad so often, and I was incredibly sad about it. Easiest part was Jayesh. As a character, he was fun. When he stepped onto the page, Niya, the MC, came alive just for the fun of snarking at him. Their banter kept me going through the whole story.

I'm sure it did. You’ve written and published an astonishing number of novels, short stories, and novellas in a fairly short amount of time. How do you get most of your ideas, and what’s your secret to putting them out so quickly?

Ideas aren't a problem. I think most authors once they get started have so so many ideas. I know way more who are struggling with, "Ugh, I need to finish this project but I just got an idea for this other project" than who are sitting still not knowing what to write. It's finding time to cultivate any idea into a cohesive whole that's a problem.

I compare it to a garden. Your mind is a patch of earth. Ideas are seeds. Some of them need a lot of hard work and cultivation. Others grow up so fast and quick that if you don't prune them and keep them under control, they'll take over everything. It's mostly a matter of choosing which plant to cultivate ... and sometimes I'll pick the wrong one and after a few attempts just let it either whither or go to seed ... and sometimes after it dies it'll drop seeds of inspiration that form another idea that actually is the idea that I'm supposed to write, so a lot of my stories are connected by a kind of heritage as the minor character who I never got a chance to fit into one story decides he wants to do something on his own and sprouts an unrelated story or the magic system/world building idea that I decided was too complex/distracting for one story ends up being forgotten in a corner of my mind-garden until one day I push back some overgrown grass and find it blossoming all on its own, and I clear the space around it, and it's my next book.

I think I just don't tell myself no. I don't worry much about whether an idea is marketable or whether I'm supposed to write it. I just pick the plant that is the most interesting to me and take care of it.

Sometimes I might get it into my head that I want to write a particular sort of book and I'll intentionally seek out, "Okay, do I have any plants/seeds here that can support a romantic fantasy trilogy?"

I also drink a lot of coffee.

I love that metaphor and the idea of not telling yourself no! If you could spend an afternoon with one of the Spicebringer characters, who would you pick and what would you do?

While Alk and Jayesh would both be a ton of fun, I'm going with Halla, the younger sister of the primary antagonist, who is an extremely minor character, but is so delightfully chill. She's the polar opposite of her ambitious and driven sister, Princess Advika. Halla wants to read poetry, eat sugar dates, and enjoy the arts. We would have the most epic girls' night in. I would introduce her to Youtube. She would love ASMR and oddly satisfying videos. We would eat all sorts of sweet things. It would be awesome.

Finally, what do you think is the one best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

I'm incredibly stubborn about taking advice. I have to hear it from multiple sources, then run it through my own filters, decide how it fits into how I want to do things, and play around with it before I even consider taking it. By the time that happens, I've usually forgotten the source, and may have even re-shaped the advice into my own version of it because I learn by doing, not hearing or reading. I need to find MY way to do it. Other people's way of doing things are largely irrelevant.

An exception to this is one of the earlier novel length works I wrote. I was in high school, and I hand-wrote (in metallic gel pens, no less) an entire epic fantasy trilogy that was kind of a rip off Lord of the Rings but with a lot more sappy teen romance. I somehow convinced a slightly older boy to read it because I had a crush on him and wanted to impress him and maybe have him notice that the hero in my story looked a LOT like him, so obviously we were meant to be together. To his credit, while he admitted he didn't finish it, he read some of it. He told me that I needed to explain less because "Readers are smart. Trust them." ... and for some reason (possibly that he was tall and lean and dark haired and looked a lot like my version of Aragorn), I took that to heart.

So I guess I'm incredibly stubborn about taking advice unless I have a major crush on the person giving it to me ...

Spoiler alert, I totally married him.

That is adorable. New goal, right there. Anyway. Thanks for answering my questions! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed hearing what you had to say!

Bucket List Beads

So, one significant element in Spice Bringer is Niya's bead necklace that basically represents her bucket list of all the things she wants to do before she dies of the rasp. Along her journey, she does get to accomplish several of those things (not to mention quite a few things that she never dared dream of). In that spirit, H.L. Burke gave bloggers the option to share a three of the things on their own bucket lists, and I decided to join in. So, here are my three things:
  1. Publish a book. Obviously.
  2. Go to a convention and cosplay as one of my own characters. Ideally, of course, I'd do it once I've actually published something so there'd be at least a small chance that someone would recognize the character. I think this would be super fun, though I might have a little trouble finding a character who actually looks enough like me that I could cosplay her convincingly.
  3. Make friends with someone offline because he or she has read my books . . . without that person realizing who I am until after we're at least semi-friends. Basically, I want to pull an Eliza and Her Monsters, but with less anxiety and lying and more "Let's see how long it takes this person to figure out who I am." If I can pull this and #1 off at the same time? Even better.
So . . . yeah. All of those were writing related. I don't think that's a surprise, though.

 Spice Bringer Review

I really wanted to love this book. The snippet I read ages ago in one of the author's newsletters or Facebook posts was delightful, and the concept sounded fascinating. Unfortunately, too many parts of the story made me go "Ummmm . . ." for me to really fall in love with the novel.

Chief among those parts was the romance. H.L. Burke is big on romance in her fantasy, and Spice Bringer is no exception. In some respects, I enjoyed the couple. They're both interesting characters in their own rights, and they balance each other well. But something about their relationship seemed off somehow. I felt as if I'd missed something or like they'd transitioned too quickly from "just friends" to "couple." And later in the relationship, Niya seemed a little more focused on the physical side of the relationship than I felt she should've been. They don't go that far, of course, but one character does suggest it (and is promptly told no by the other, thank goodness).

Another thing that bugged me: Alk. I'm all for characters who express their friendship through teasing and banter, but Alk's teasing seemed more harsh than friendly, especially towards the beginning. And yes, he did get better — by the end it's clear he cares for Niya (his choice in the climax was beautiful, just saying) — but his and Niya's exchanges still felt more like snapping than banter for the most part. I'm sure he was supposed to be funny, but mostly he just made me groan. (Mostly. There were a few exceptions.)

My final issue is sort of a mixed bag because it's connected to something I really like: the worldbuilding. Specifically, the religion. For the most part, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this book. H.L. Burke has created a vibrant, beautiful, India-inspired world with fascinating political and religious elements of it. However, because of the way the religion is set up, Spice Bringer doesn't feel like a specifically Christian book. The themes and ideas are Christian, yes, but in the context of the religion, they're kind of . . . Ummmmm? I don't know how I feel about them, basically, and that keeps me from recommending the book wholeheartedly.

All that said, there are good things about this book. As I said, the worldbuilding is beautiful, and I enjoyed the characters. Niya is a pleasantly practical protagonist, and I could definitely relate to her pragmatic view of life. Jayesh is quite interesting as well; I liked how Burke set up his struggles. The plot isn't mind-blowing, but it flows well and keeps you interested. Basically, this could be a great book, but its flaws mean it's just a good one: still worth a read, but not one I'm going to keep coming back to again and again.

I received an ARC from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Well, that's all! Thanks, everyone, for reading, and thanks to H.L. Burke and Uncommon Universes Press for the chance to participate in this blog tour! Don't forget to check out the rest of the Spice Bringer blog tour, and come back here in a couple days for another exciting blog tour!
Have a lovely day!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, August 18, 2018


"So, what's your major?"

Such is the question every college student hears (and probably returns) when they meet any new person in any situation. For some majors (for example: engineering, nursing, any other wildly popular degree), the topic stops there, or is kept temporarily alive by the classic follow-up, "So, why'd you decide to major in that?" However, if you're a Professional Writing and Information Design major (PWID for short), you're practically guaranteed one of several follow-up questions. And with the new school year just about to start, I thought I'd share some of the most common of those questions.


  1. "Oh, cool! So . . . what actually is that?" This is actually a fair question; unless you're either in PWID or friends with someone in PWID, you might not actually know the major exists. The tricky bit is that professional writing, unlike many other majors, doesn't have a hard-and-fast definition, so PWID majors (especially freshmen) sometimes aren't quite sure how to answer the question in a clear and concise way. My most recent fallback response is that it's writing for businesses in a variety of contexts: marketing, corporate communications, technical writing, instructional design, and more.
  2. "Oh! So you write books?" In case you didn't read the last sentence of point #1, professional writing is not the same as creative writing. A significant percentage of PWID majors hope to work in publishing someday, yes. A rather smaller percentage of PWID majors write creatively, yes. However, none of us are majoring in PWID because we think it'll teach us how to write the perfect novel. So, in answer to the question: yes, I write books, but I'm not majoring in writing books.
  3. "Oh, wow, I could never do that." Ok, so, I'm sure this is supposed to be a compliment, and it's better than someone suggesting the opposite, but I honestly find it more frustrating than almost any other question or comment I get. If you say it to my face, I'll probably try to laugh it off and say something along the lines of "Well, I enjoy it," or "Well, I could never do [insert other major here], so . . ." But what I want to say is something more along the lines of: "I'm aware, Karen. That's probably why I'm majoring in it and you aren't." It's just . . . yes, I know you're trying to say something nice, but could you please do it in a way that doesn't sound like you're fishing for either a return compliment or a reassurance of your writing ability?
  4. "Oh, so you can edit my paper for me!" If it's said jokingly, I'll probably laugh too. But if you're seriously asking? Well . . .

    You get the idea. I'm almost always happy to help a friend if I can, and usually my friends are the only ones who ask, for which I'm grateful. But like everyone else, I am a creature of limited time and energy, and I have projects of my own (usually time-consuming ones) to work on too. Speaking of which . . .
  5. "Oh! So you must write a lot of papers!" Actually, I don't — not as many as you'd think. Honestly, I've written just as many, if not more, papers for gen eds and Honors classes as I have for PWID classes. Instead, I have a lot of projects to apply the skills I learn in my courses — which I prefer anyway. Projects tend to combine writing and design elements, so they're a bit more exciting than just writing paper after paper. I think projects also tend to be quicker, but I could be wrong.
What questions do you have about PWID? And what questions (annoying or not) do you tend to get a lot about your major or profession? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tales of Ever After Blog Tour: Steelhand Mini-Review!

Hey'a, everyone! New day, new blog tour! Today we're featuring Tales of Ever After, the latest anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy. As the title suggests, this anthology focuses on fairy tale retellings and fairy tale-like stories, and they're all pretty awesome. For my post, I'm going to be reviewing Steelhand by Ashley Capes . . . but first, a little bit about Tales of Ever After.

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

Find it on: Amazon* || Books2Read || Goodreads

*Where it will be free as soon as Amazon gets its act together!

Steelhand Mini-Review

I love steampunk, so naturally I was excited to read this retelling of Sleeping Beauty. And while I'm not going to say that it's the best Sleeping Beauty retelling I've ever read, it's still a fun take on the story. 

For me, the best part of the story was the way in which the author retained a strong fairy tale feel. Often, fairy tale retellings keep to the general plot of a story but lose the more ambiguously magical feel of the original. However, this story seems just as much a fairy tale as it does a steampunk story, especially because of the different challenges the protagonist has to overcome and the way in which he solves them.

Plotwise, Steelhand is solid, but not spectacular. There are no huge twists here (or, at least, none that I didn't see coming), but the pacing is good and the events unfold in a way that makes sense. The one exception: why can the main character hear the princess? If there was an explanation, I must have missed it.

The main area in which this story fell short for me was the characters, who really don't get as much development as I would've liked. I mean, I understand that this is a short story and the author can only do so much, but everyone seemed just vaguely generic (aside from the main character's titular metal hand, which is pretty cool).

In conclusion: Steelhand is an interesting and creative take on the tale of Sleeping Beauty. While it's not perfect, it's still a quick and enjoyable read.


The Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting three different giveaways for this tour! First up: a paperback giveaway of Tales of Ever After (naturally), along with several other awesome books including Kendra E. Ardnek's The Worth of a King, Savannah Jezowskis's After, and more. Some of the paperbacks may be signed, and there's a miniature dragon in the running, so make sure you enter! (Unless you're not in the U.S.A., in which case I'm sorry.)

Enter here!

The second giveaway is open internationally, as it features several eBooks. The Worth of a King is up for grabs again here, as is When Ravens Fall by Savannah Jezowski, The Green Princess by H.L. Burke, and more! Tales of Ever After is, of course, not featured in this giveaway, since it'll be free on Amazon soon (if it isn't already).

Enter here!

Our final giveaway is a comment competition. Whoever leaves the most comments on various tour posts will win sneak peaks of several authors' upcoming books. And since I'm not competing in this comment contest, the rest of y'all should have a chance.

Thanks, everyone, for reading! Make sure you keep an eye on the Amazon page so you can pick up Tales of Ever After as soon as it becomes available for free (or, if you're impatient and want to pay $0.99 for it so you can read it now, you can do that too). And don't forget to check out the rest of the tour stops!
Have a lovely day!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Monday, August 6, 2018

Fairest Son Blog Tour: Author Interview

Hey'a, everyone! You know how I said a couple weeks ago that the season of Snow White retellings has begun? Well, I wasn't kidding, because I'm back with another retelling of this fairy tale, this time a delightfully Fae take on the story from an author whose debut I've been eagerly anticipating: H.S.J. Williams! Once again, I had the privilege of interviewing this author, but (you know the drill) let's here a bit about her and her book first.

About the Book

The Fair and Foul courts of the fey folk have long yearned for one to bring them together in peace, but hopes are dashed when the fairest prince and the prophecy concerning him are laid to ruin. Burdened with shame and sorrow, the prince flees to the cold mountains far above the forests and lochs with nothing but animals and goblins for company.

When a human huntress stumbles upon him in her search for a legendary predator, their fates are intertwined. But she hides deadly secrets, and if he dares to trust her, he may risk the doom of both courts to an ancient evil...

A novella retelling of Snow White.

Find it on: Amazon || eBook || Goodreads

About the Author 

From the beginning, H. S. J. Williams has loved stories and all the forms they take. Whether with word, art, or costume, she has always been fascinated with the magic of imagination. She lives in a real fantastical kingdom, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with her very own array of animal friends and royally loving family. Williams taught Fantasy Illustration at MSOA. She may also be a part-time elf.

Find her on: Facebook || Author site

About the Artist

Irina Plachkova is an acclaimed artist, freelance illustrator, and fashion designer, better known as PhantomRin. You can find more of her work at

Interview with the Author 

1. Hello, Hannah! To start out, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who you are, your favorite books (besides your own), hobbies, anything else you want to share?

Hello, Sarah! Thank you for having me! My author name is H. S. J. Williams; I am an artist and a dreamer; I love chatting about stories with my writing pal, Bryn Riplinger Shutt; I love cos-play; I love The Tales of Goldstone Wood, The Queen's Thief, and The Wingfeather Saga. I cherish my characters as a mother hen and may talk to them more than to real people. (Wait, what, I mean, they ARE real people.) 

2. Fairest Son is your debut into the writing world. Can you share a little about your journey up to this moment and how you decided that this was the time and the story with which to introduce yourself to readers?

Yes, and I am QUITE excited! Originally, I had planned for Fairest Son to be used as an entry to a contest, but as the word-count quickly grew, I realized it wanted to be a larger story. At first, I considered pursuing it with traditional publishing since I plan for it to remain a standalone, but since I plan to independently publish a much larger series later, I decided to use Fairest Son as my training pilot. And let me tell you, what a RELIEF it has been to learn the self-publishing basics on a small project. I chose the story for my debut because of how confidently the tale stood on its own.

3. Besides the obvious (since Fairest Son is a Snow White retelling), what are some books, movies, or other elements that influenced your novel?

I adore heroes and I adore the thrill of them in terrible peril, and I believe this may have been started back when I was a small child watching Disney's Robin Hood........but more specifically to this story, I've been inspired from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (I mean, talk about setting atmosphere and studying environment...), and during a particular writing slump I was reinvigorated by An Enchantment of Ravens, which-- despite including some elements I usually avoid in books--brought me a huge breath of fresh air in style and creativity and reminded me what a great heroine looks like. 

4. On a related note, Fairest Son is heavily centered around the Fae (something I’m super excited about, for the record). Are you a fan of fae-related books, then? And if so, what are some of your favorites?

Ah yes, I LOVE the Fae, the Fey Folk, the Faerie. I notice a tendency towards modernizing the Fae in certain popular books, and I'm not a fan of that presentation. I prefer classic environments, characters, and lore. As such, I adore Wildwood Dancing, Tales of Goldstone Wood, and An Enchantment of Ravens.

5. What was the hardest part of writing Fairest Son? The best part?

Oh, the terrible middle. The part where I needed to develop the relationship between my main characters and make sure their chemistry clicked. Happily, they had a life of their own and suited each other without my help, but discovering the scenes for development still proved challenging. I'd known the climax for some time, so finally reaching it was such a thrill....

 6. If you could spend a day with your characters, either in your world or theirs, what would you do together?

Hmm, in their world I would like to be up in the snowy mountains, bundle up in furs, and drink hot cider while playing with all of Idris's animals. Here....well, I'm trying to think of something we could do that wouldn't make them incredibly jumpy. It would probably involve animals again, because Idris is a total softie for them, and Keeva thinks that's sweet.

7. Finally, what are your plans from here? I know you have another manuscript that you’ve been working on for quite some time; can we expect that anytime soon?

Yes! It has been quite some time since I started work on that particular manuscript, Moonscript, but part of the delay is due to the fact that it is the beginning of a much larger series which I have spent much time planning and developing. New ideas and plans rise up every day, and each step gets me closer to release. Publishing Fairest Son is a HUGE step, and I shall work harder than ever to finish the latest draft of Moonscript and the future books ahead.


And that's that! Thanks for letting me be a part of the tour, H.S.J., and for your awesome answers! And thanks to all my readers for stopping by! Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour, and make sure you pick up this delightful novella! For the duration of the tour, it's $1.99, so don't hesitate!
Have a wonderful day!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tour Schedule

August 4th:  
Book Spotlight with Bryn at Time of the Immortals

August 5th:  
Book Spotlight with Skye at Skye Hoffert

August 6th:  
Book spotlight with Jemma at The Sherwood Storyteller
Author interview with Sarah at Dreams and Dragons — you are here.

August 7th:  
Author Interview with Olivia at The Book Sprite  

August 8th:  
Book Spotlight with Amber at Seasons of Humility
Book Spotlight with Rebekah Gyger at Backing Books  

August 9th: 
Book Spotlight with Shantelle at Between the Pages of this Bookish Life
Book Spotlight with Laura at Unicorn Quester
Book Spotlight with Emmarayn at Writing in Rivendell

August 10th: 
Book Spotlight with Betsy at Stretching the Metaphorical Cello 
Character Spotlight with Jenelle at Jenelle Schmidt

August 11th 
Author Interview with Beka at R. Gremikova
Character Spotlight with Kendra at Knitted by God's Plan