#BlogTour These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Three Dark Crowns meets Wicked Saints in this queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

I’m not familiar with the Russian folktale The Firebird, but I’ve read a couple other books based on Russian retellings that were incredible.

In this world magic comes with a price. Once a spell is cast, the Firebird collects payment from the caster to maintain balance in the realm. Payment can range from a small amount of blood to loss of life depending on the complexity of the spell. Because of this the Firebird isn’t looked upon kindly.

At a young age it’s determined that Izaveta will be the future queen, while Asya trains to be the next Firebird. Their mother, the queen, teaches Izaveta that most interactions with people at court are usually power plays in disguise. She must constantly strategize and look for hidden meanings. As a result, she trusts no one. Asya’s training requires her to ignore emotion while exacting payment no matter how she feels. Balance must be maintained. It’s a constant struggle and she doubts she has what it takes to do the job. I found it interesting that each sister is envious of the other’s life and quite possibly better suited for it. Izaveta is a tough one to like initially, and she can’t even let her guard down for her twin. Asya is kind-hearted, but feared by most people and considered a monster.

There are a ton of minor characters which means lots of suspects in the death of the twins’ mother. That being said, they felt flat and difficult to distinguish from each other. Pacing is a bit slow out of the gate, but the twists and surprises come soon, and the last thirty percent moves at breakneck speed. I appreciated the pronunciation guide at the end and was surprised I actually said some of the names correctly.

With complex political schemes and maneuvering, this novel will keep you guessing, and the relationship between the sisters is a strong point. I’ll be interested to see where the author takes this story in the next book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

THESE FEATHERED FLAMES

By Alexandra Overy

On Sale: April 20, 2021

INKYARD PRESS

YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Fantasy/ Epic/Fairy Tales & Folklore/ Adaptations/Family/Siblings/Romance/LGBTQ+

9781335147967; 1335147969

$19.99 USD

496 pages

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/These-Feathered-Flames/dp/1335147969/ 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/these-feathered-flames-alexandra-overy/1137165080 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335147967 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/These-Feathered-Flames/Alexandra-Overy/9781335147967 

AppleBooks:    https://books.apple.com/lv/book/these-feathered-flames/id1518023051 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Alexandra_Overy_These_Feathered_Flames?id=AQAAAEBcPkN-DM 

ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she’s not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.alexandraovery.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alexandraovery 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/AllyWritesAndStuff/ 

Facebook: N/A

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19571930.Alexandra_Overy 

Stupid Ideas, Writing Classes, and #AmWatching

How is it Monday again already? Last week was a blur. We’ve had some wonderful spring weather the past few days, but Saturday and Sunday brought gale force winds to our neck of the woods. I’m talking winds that scooted our heavy iron patio furniture across the concrete. So of course hubby and I thought it was an opportune time to replace a couple screens on our screened porch. Honestly, we would have put it off, but one of the screens where Bond sits had ripped away from the frame. It was only a matter of time before escape plans would be made and executed prompting a search and rescue through our large neighborhood. Words that should have been censored were said (we’re glad the little boys next door weren’t outside), hands were cut, and trim was damaged, but all things considered, it could have gone worse.

I’ve mentioned here before about virtual writer’s classes/workshops/retreats I’ve attended hosted by The Writer’s Sanctuary. They just added several new events scheduled throughout the rest of this year. I registered for a class on marketing trends in November. If you’d like to check out their offerings, click HERE.

I think I mentioned the first season of For All Mankind last summer. The second season episodes are dropping weekly (I’m watching them first thing Saturday morning), and I’m enjoying it just as much. I don’t want to say much about it – no spoilers – but this alternate history version of the space race is totally compelling.

Cooking and #AmWatching

Cooking isn’t really in my skill set – I’m the first to admit it. It’s a miracle hubby and I didn’t starve the first year we were married. Since then, my skills have improved, and I’ve learned enough to keep us fed. Still, unless it’s something very basic – spaghetti (jar sauce), chili, tacos, etc. – I have to use a recipe. I’m not one of those people who instinctively knows what a dish needs, although my youngest son is. From an early age, he’s been interested in food and cooking – and he surely didn’t get it from me. My oldest son considers food an energy source and doesn’t venture much out of his comfort zone. I do enjoy subscribing to a couple of cooking magazines and trying new recipes. Some are winners (a peanut butter pie recipe I got from a magazine ad) and others completely inedible (a tragic waste of prime rib). Hubby is kind of a foodie, so we decided to try something new. Every weekend, we’ll take turns choosing a new recipe to try and work on it together. This past weekend, we tried Spaghetti alla Carbonara. We turned on Pandora, opened some wine, and split up the cooking duties. Although the recipe had fantastic reviews, we weren’t that thrilled with it – probably three stars. Since I still can’t taste much or smell at all (two months now – thanks, COVID), I had to rely on hubby’s opinions. If you’re interested in trying it yourself, here’s the LINK We plan to continue this every weekend (unless we’re out of town), so this could become a regular update on Mondays.

I’m a fan of the TV show Supernatural. I haven’t watched all the seasons yet, but I’m working my way through them on Netflix. When I saw Jared Padalecki was starring in a remake of Walker, Texas Ranger, I decided to check it out. Not that I ever watched the original, but I like the actor and figured it’s something hubby and I could watch together (it’s like an act of God to get him interested in anything). While the show’s not going to win any awards, after three episodes, we’ve decided to stick with it. It’s already been renewed for a second season, so it might be around for a while.

Hope you have a great week – stay safe and healthy!

A Peek Into My #BookClub

I’ve mentioned before that I’m in two book clubs. Due to the pandemic, one hasn’t met for nearly a year – I’ve forgotten what book I was even supposed to read for the next meeting. The Pardon My Youth club is through our local library, and we’ve continued our monthly meetings through Zoom. The club focuses on YA books for the young and young at heart (ages range from 20s through 70s). It’s not your standard club where everyone reads the same book – we have monthly categories instead. This month’s assignment was to read a YA book published in 2020. I thought I’d give you a partial list of some of the books selected.

We enjoy having the freedom to choose different books, but occasionally a couple members have coincidentally read the same one and will give joint reviews. Most of us are also friends on Goodreads and the day after book club you’ll see several members adding titles discussed the night before to their TBR lists. Below are our categories for the rest of the year – you can see we’re committed to reading diverse books. I like being able to plan my reads for the rest of the year, and I always try to choose something from my backlist.

  • February Pick Your Poison – Romance vs. Horror (of course I’m choosing horror)
  • March Realistic Fiction Set Anywhere but the US, the UK, or Canada
  • April Books Featuring a Found Family
  • May Books By/About Latinx Folks
  • June Pride Reads
  • July Books Set During the Summer
  • August Books With a Female or Non-Binary BIPOC as the Main Character
  • September Banned Books
  • October Retellings/Reimaginings
  • November Books By/About Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, Peoples, or Native Americans

Maybe I’ve inspired you to create your own book club or ask your library to form one. Our club’s fourth anniversary is coming up in a few months, and most of us have been there from the beginning. In addition to making some wonderful bookish friends, it’s also helped maintain some sanity and continuity for all of us during 2020. Hopefully, my other club will be able to meet again this year – but someone’s going to have to remind me which book to read.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into one of my book clubs. Have a safe and healthy week!

#AmWriting, Workshop, and #AmWatching

The writing progress continues! Planning on sending another couple chapters to my beta today. I keep telling myself the small steps add up – I just need to stick to the plan. Meanwhile, the next book keeps niggling at the back of my mind. I’ve made notes and have some ideas, but haven’t fleshed out the whole story yet. But I will say I’m heading back into the horror/supernatural genre after the A36 sequel.

I just completed a two week writing class entitled Becoming the CEO of Your Creative Life hosted by authors C.J. Redwine and Mary Weber. It involved goal setting, scheduling, vision boards, career crafting and more. I got some really helpful tips about productivity, which I totally need. I’m a total Dory (Finding Nemo) if I don’t have a clear plan for the day. Ironically, my life mantra also comes from Dory – just keep swimming! I just need to remember to swim in the right direction.

Last week I signed up for a free seven day trial of AMC+ so I could watch the second season of A Discovery of Witches. Then I found out only three episodes had been released so far. So now I’ll have to cancel this trial and sign up with someone else when the whole season drops. The two episodes I’ve watched so far seem to be sticking with the book, just like the first season did, so I’m happy about that.

Have a safe and healthy week!

New Series Launch — Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

I’m a long time fan of Teagan Riordain Geneviene’s books and blog. She’s known for her whimsical imagination and creativity when fashioning a story around random items named by readers and her UF Atonement, Tennessee series (Lilith!). She has a new release of monthly serial novelettes featuring a blend of fantasy and magic that I can’t wait to dive into!

Teagan's Books

Saturday, January 2, 2021 

(All new video trailer for Journey-1)

Happy New Year, one and all! 

For weeks I’ve been giving hints and making little shout-outs for a new serial/series, but uncertain of when I would be ready.  The day is finally here.  Presenting Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak!

Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn PeakDead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

Dead of Winter will be a serial/series available through Amazon. (Maybe other sites as well, for the anti-Amazon among us.  If those sites cooperate, that is.  I have little patience for their shenanigans). 

I call the installments Journeys, because the characters travel across the complex world I built, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. These journeys will publish approximately monthly.  Length will range from 30 to 60 pages, or so.

Here’s the Blurb

Dead of Winter takes place in a fantasy world that resembles some countries in the past of…

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Rona, #AmWriting, and Secret Santa

So I was officially released from quarantine last Friday – woo hoo! Thanks to all of you for the positive thoughts and well wishes. Hubby is getting tested again today, so keep your fingers crossed for a negative result. He’s still showing no symptoms.

One good thing about quarantine? I mean besides cleaning out the closet. All kinds of time for writing – which I did last week. Things are moving along for the Subject A36 sequel. Muses, inspiration, and characters working together for the common good – finally.

For one of my book clubs, our December meeting typically involves sharing lots of food and receiving gifts from our Secret Santas. Obviously that’s not happening this year – the food part anyway. We still drew for Secret Santa through Elfster.com, and I found a basket of goodies on my porch yesterday. Han and Chewie will be perfect additions to my nerd cabinet! I’ll find out who my Santa is at the Zoom meeting tomorrow evening.

While we’re on the subject of Star Wars, the season finale of The Mandalorian absolutely blew my mind. No spoilers here – but holy crap! Soooo good.

This is my last post until next week. Wishing all of you a peaceful, safe, and healthy Merry Christmas!

#BookReview – Subject A36 – Teri Polen #scifi #dystopian

Happy Friday! Jessica Bakkers posted a wonderful review of Subject A36 on her blog that absolutely made my month! While you’re visiting her, check out her new debut novel, Guns of Perdition. It’s a delightfully sinister mix of western, dark fantasy, and horror. Grace is at the top of my list for favorite heroines.

Jessica Bakkers

Subject A36 (The Colony Series Book 1) by [Teri Polen]I’m not usually a big reader of young adult fiction, but I’d read extracts of ‘Subject A36’, and could tell in the first few pages it was going to be a book I’d enjoy. And I was right.

‘Subject A36’ by author Teri Polen, is an extremely well-written story, set in a dystopian future/alternate timeline. Slightly reminiscent of the bleak unjust future in the Hunger Games series, Polen pits the Insurgents – a morally good group of people trying to survive – against the Colony, the overlords of this region, with superior tech, and a penchant for the finer things. Unfortunately, those finer things involve the very genes of the less fortunate being literally stripped from their living bodies. This so the Colony populace can have access to talents and traits they find desirable (such as blue eyes, intelligence, blonde hair). It’s a shudderingly gruesome concept that instantly…

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Christmas and Rona

Not much to report this week. Last week was spent catching up on tons of things after our long weekend away – laundry, errands, Christmas shopping, etc. No matter how much I try to get done ahead of time, it always seems like I’m rushing during the holiday season. One evening I was able to slow down and listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack for the first time this year. It’s my absolute favorite, and no Christmas is complete without it.

Did I add to the word count last week? No, I didn’t. I made a few notes in my phone, but at this point, I’ve lost what little momentum I had before Thanksgiving and need to review the past few chapters, new notes, and dive back into it. But over the next week I should have plenty of time to write. Why?

Because I tested positive for COVID. Mild symptoms started last Monday (no fever, just sore throat and a little achy) and I assumed it was the same cold I usually get around this time of year. By Wednesday, I felt fine and assumed it was over. When I woke Thursday morning, I knew I needed to get tested (but still no fever). Hubby is negative – how, I have no idea – but I’ve got another week to quarantine, and he’s back to working from home. I’m very fortunate my symptoms have been mild so far, and I’ve been taking it easy. The worst thing is I lost my sense of smell, and I’ll miss the aroma of the pumpkin bread I’m making later today!

Stay healthy and wash those hands!

Thanksgiving, #AmWriting, and #AmWatching

Not much to report here, other than we’re still recovering from eating too much. Hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours. We were fortunate to be able to spend it with family and were thrilled to have our sons with us. I like to try new recipes – sometimes they’re a keeper, other times we’re struggling to choke it down. Without a test run, my youngest son and I made a Bourbon Chocolate-Walnut Pie and it was absolutely a keeper. The only thing we’d change is to add more bourbon next time around. We might have cheated a little by buying a pie crust, but I wasn’t ready to tackle one from scratch.

Did I write during the holiday? That would be a no. But I did get some plot ideas while walking and listening to music, so I don’t feel completely unproductive. I have plans today to dive back into the WIP.

Is anyone watching the new season of The Crown? I’ve enjoyed every season, but this might be my favorite yet since I remember the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. If you haven’t watched this series and you’re looking for something new to binge, I highly recommend it.