Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Review: Topaz Reign by Teresa Richards

Book cover of Topaz Reign, a twisted fairy tale

I love fairy tales but I'm always on the search for something slightly different. If a book can pull me in like a classic fairy tale and yet still leave me guessing, then I love it even more. Topaz Reign in one of those books. When I found out it takes the classic story of Thumbelina, but gives it a twist, I knew it was going to be something unique and fun.

Before you jump in to Topaz Reign, you should probably read Emerald Bound first (check out my review here). Both books are in the Altered Stones series by Teresa Richards. Emerald Bound follows the story of The Princess and the Pea.

Topaz Reign continues the story of Maggie and Lindy, but with new problems, more romance, and a bit of time travel. I was sad at the end of Emerald Bound when present-day Maggie stays in our world and Lindy returns to her tiny Scandinavian country over 400 years before because I wanted them to stay friends! But, in Topaz Reign, they meet up again because during some of Maggie's research on Lindy's country, she discovers that history is changing. That leads her to realize that the curse she broke of the Emerald Necklace had consequences. Now she must find a way to get things back to where they are supposed to be, all while Lindy has to deal with her country being overtaken by an imposter. 

My favorite part about these books is how they take Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales and turn them into something a little darker (like all the original Grimm stories), but then they still give you that happily-ever-after feeling too. I think the combination of our contemporary world and the historical fantasy part put together give these novels a uniqueness I haven't seen in any young adult books. They are definitely worth the read for teens and adults who love to keep their youth alive.

Emerald Bound and Topaz Reign Teresa Richards

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Review: Emerald Bound ( A Twisted Fairy Tale)

I love books that can take a story that we've all heard before, but twist it around into something entirely different. I felt this about Cinder (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer and any story that is patterned after Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice. The Altered Stones series is another set of books that does just that! The first book, Emerald Bound, takes the classic fairy tale of Princess and the Pea and turns it into a contemporary fantasy (and altered historical fantasy in parts). 

Emerald Bound follows the story of two teens - Maggie in present day and Lindy in a fantasy country (bordering present-day Sweden) of nearly 400 years before, as well as Lindy in present day. Both girls in their separate times are tricked into becoming part of an ancient curse involving princesses, emeralds (which are referred to as peas to keep them secret), and uncomfortable mattresses. When Maggie's best friend goes missing, she discovers that gems feed on life and that her own history is quite different than she thought. With the help of present-day Lindy and Garon, a handsome stranger who is somehow connected to the emerald, Maggie is sent on a quest to retrieve the emerald before her best friend's fate is sealed.

I would highly recommend this book to readers that love a happy ending, but don't mind a bit of mystery and darkness on the side. If you are a fan of Jenni James or other authors that have taken simple fairy tales and woven them into something frightening and beautiful at the same time, you will enjoy the twists and turns of Emerald Bound.

This Never Happens! .99 for Remembrandt

I'm seriously a little shocked that I was able to convince my publisher to offer the ebook of Remembrandt for .99! It's been nearly 3 years since the first book in the Remembrandt series has come out.  I've been wanting to do it since the final book in the series, Memory of Monet, came out. And now it is under a dollar! Spread the word because it will only stay this way a short time.

(Why I'm Busy and What I'm Writing Next)

  • I'll be at The League of Utah Writers Conference Friday, October 5. You can still signup or just show up (because Friday is FREE). I won't be at an official booth or teaching, but if you see me, I'd be happy to sign a book (I'll keep a few with me if you want to buy one). Also, anyone who sees me and wants a free audiobook of Remembrandt just has to mention they read it here and it theirs! Or just email me or message me if you promise to add a review online and it's yours too.
  • Van Gogh Gone Audiobook is almost here! (It should be ready by November 1).
  • Remembrandt Audiobook available here or on Amazon!
  • I'm teaching a writing bootcamp and a class at Snow College on October 13-14 at Write Here in Ephraim. You can still register!
  • My latest completed manuscript, The Forgotten Sin-you is a young adult fantasy that is a loosely-based retelling of Sword and the Stone with Eastern Asian influences, a female protagonist, a mythical creature, and the heist of a century. I'm currently agent hunting. I have had great interest and some requests for the full manuscript and I've only contacted 7 agents. I have my *fingers crossed* that my favorite agent wants it, but if they pass, I've got a list of potential ones I'm hoping to submit to soon! 
  • I'm participating in NANOWRIMO this year! Basically, it National Novel Writing Month and you write 1,667 words per day for the whole month to get 50,000 words towards a new novel. I'm planning on starting the sequel to The Forgotten Sin-you.
  • On October 26 at 6pm, I'll be at eBorn Books (254 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT) with some other authors talking about Horror, Thrillers, and Romantic Suspense. I'll also be chatting about how to make espionage come alive on the page (Event link here).
  • I've started taking Shotokan Karate with my husband with Ronin Dragon Karate. I've always wanted to learn a martial art and my husband and I needed something to do together (I think 'couples karate' should be a thing and considered a form of marriage therapy). It was also sparked by my love of Eastern Asia (my research for my newest novel) and watching Iron Fist on Netflix. I've also started to do more yoga since my last marathon because of some overuse injuries. I'm starting to understand my CHI and how to focus myself mentally, which I always thought was weird, but now I think is amazing.
  • I participated in Salt Lake Comic Con this year, including my stint as Fleur Delacour from Harry Potter, a performance on stage in front of thousands of people, and a Stephen Amell sighting. All of which gave me butterflies - literally too, because I had butterflies releasing from my hands during my performance. My costume didn't win any contests, but I had so many people ask how I made it and have their picture taken with me, it was worth it (here's my tutorial on how I made it).

I'm hoping my next NEWS with be even bigger than my 99 cent book (your prayers and fingers crossing strongly encouraged as I agent hunt).