The Crimson Sunrise

The Crimson Sunrise

A Flash Fiction by Jason Zimmerman and Coralie

Image result for crimson sea sunrise"

My hands slid over the sturdy wooden railing, smoothed by time, as my gaze drifted out over the water. Thick coils of fog wafted through the chilly evening air, stretching out over the surface of the bay like the gnarled fingers of an old man. The sun had charged after the horizon hours ago, and now, the remaining sliver of the moon had chased it until only the stars splattered across the inky sky. We should be setting out again soon. Just a few days more.

Gentle waves caressed the ship, rocking it back and forth to the soothing roar and crash of their eternal song and dance. My feet moved instinctively, shifting my weight as the deck tilted. Wood creaked along the length of the port, moaning in protest.

The low, dull sound of the village’s foghorn rumbled through the night, and I could barely make out the glow of the lighthouse just off the coastline, pressing into the mist. The docks were practically deserted. Not many were out at this hour, and even fewer in this weather. I tugged the collar of my coat up higher and pulled my muddy wool scarf tighter around my neck, trying to bury my nose beneath the scratchy cloth.

Captain and a few other shuffled quietly on deck, probably preparing the ship for Saturday. I glanced over my shoulder to see Eli, the cabin-boy, struggling to drag a trunk behind him.

I hope he doesn’t scratch the deck. Captain’ll skewer for it, and he’s already on thin ice for falling asleep at his post not two days ago. That boy!

I rolled my eyes and returned to staring out into the night. Why did I care what happened to Eli anyway? He was only a cabin-boy.

A loud thud and soft swearing drew my attention back towards him. He shook his hands and glared down at the trunk.

“What’re you doing with that thing anyway?” I asked.

Before Eli could answer, Captain cleared his throat.

“Attention!”

I turned and all movement on deck stilled; my friend John with a rope in his hand, Cook with his stew pot and ladle in hand, and a few of the others with crates or maps.

But what caught my eye was the wiry, strange-looking fellow standing next to Captain.

Captain eyed us each in turn then spoke, his voice just loud enough to be heard over the rhythm of the tide beneath us.

“We’re settin’ out a day early.” Captain’s eyes narrowed at the raised brows around us. “Be ready by morn.”

Tomorrow?

Captain wasn’t a man to mince words. He meant what he said when he said it. We all knew that. He also wasn’t a man who changed his mind lightly. We all started at him expectantly, but by the set of his jaw, it was clear he was finished.

Tomorrow was Friday. Sailing on Fridays meant bad luck.

But no one questioned Captain.

The lanky fellow beside him pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with slender, ink-stained fingers and his dark eyes darted across the deck from man to man, though he never looked any of us in the eye. Whispers raced across the deck, but no one dared voice the question aloud.

The stranger flushed and clutched his worn leather satchel to his chest until his knuckles turned white. The protruding scrolls crinkled in his death grip.

Captain had already turned and was reprimanding Eli for not being more careful with the trunk. John walked over and stood politely behind Eli, waiting for Captain to turn. Captain looked up and waited for John to speak.

“Um, sir. . .you do realize that today is Thursday.” John fidgeted with the rope still in his hand. “Not that you wouldn’t sir, I was just. . .in case you forgot.” Captain’s eyes narrowed, and John’s face colored. “Not that you ever would forget, sir. I know you don’t do things like that. You’re very intentional, ‘course.” He wrung the rope in his hands now.

Captain straightened, but still didn’t speak. John glanced around, his eyes frantically searching the crew, lit by a mild panic. “It is Thursday, isn’t it?”

The stranger licked his lips and shifted his weight, but couldn’t seem to find his balance as the waves rocked once again.

“Yes.”

John nodded enthusiastically at the stranger and looked back into Captain’s hard eyes.

“That makes tomorrow Friday, you see,” John said, still nodding stupidly.

“I am well aware of the day, John,” Captain answered evenly. “But our guest,” his eyes moved to the newcomer and then back to John, “has asked to leave as soon as possible. We won’t be ready to set sail at least until dawn, but we can hardly delay further. And so we leave by first light.” He squeezed John’s shoulder, and my own heart beat faster. “Are there any other questions?” Though his eyes never left John’s, his voice somehow addressed us all.

John shook his head fervently and he bolted when Captain released him. The men quickly made themselves busy as Captain disappeared into the lower decks. I stared at him for a second and then moved to the sails, checking knots as John coiled ropes beside me with a furrowed brow.

“He wants to go to Tarshish and he wants to go quick.” Lavi paused by us, settling a crate of provisions on his hip. Tried to get Cap to sail tonight.”

John shook his head. “I’d almost have rathered that than sail on a Friday.”

I ran my hands over my last knot and then moved to my left to continue.

“Strange, though,” Lavi said softly, “You’ve got to admit.” He paused, then leaned in and whispered, “That man, he must have paid Captain a small fortune to leave on a Friday, what with the bad luck and the changing of plans so sudden. Did you see how he’s dressed? And his trunk is full of books too. Man’s some kind of scholar or somethin’.”

John’s brow puckered again and he paused his work to glance over at the man. He turned to me. “What do you make of it, Gal?”

I sighed. “We mind our own business and do as Captain says.”

John shook his head and returned to his work, but Lavi nodded and strode off.

We worked until twilight and had the ship fit to cross the seas once again in record time. Captain ducked out of his quarters and joined us at the helm.

“We’re ready then?” he asked the chief mate. Benjamin nodded crisply, then began barking out orders. Men scrambled to obey his command, despite having worked to the point of exhaustion, and the ship left the docs to the same eerie fog into which we had sailed.

Just as the sun began to peer into the hazy sky,  the strange man appeared at my side, resting his hands on the side of the ship.

“I’ve never been to sea before.” His fingers twitched and he pulled at the hem of his tunic. Something in his smile was unsure and his eyes still didn’t rise to meet mine. So he knew how the men felt. Perhaps he was afraid, too. He glanced over his shoulder and back to the docs, hesitation written all over his features.

“It’s a little late to turn back,” My eyes narrowed and my lips almost creased into a smile as I studied him.

He nodded and turned toward the sea, resolution in his eyes. “I’ve made my decision.” We watched as the sun broke across the horizon, lighting the sea aflame. A crimson sky.

The man turned to me, hand extended. “I’m Jonah. What’s your name?”

The winter air didn’t leave near the chill in my bones that the wretched foghorn did as we surged deeper into the blood red sunrise. I eyed the new stranger. “Gal.”

“Gal.” He nodded once again. “I like that name. Well, Gal, it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of each other on this voyage.” He clapped a hand on my shoulder and then sauntered off, completely oblivious to the dark cloud that clung to him thicker than the fog we left further and further behind with each moment. This should prove interesting at the very least.

~*~

Thanks so so so much to Jason Zimmerman for working with me to create a little magic! I had a blast writing this with you for YDubs. And thank you for allowing me to share it here! Y’all go check out Jason at Awkward Truth!

Book Review: The Last Autumn Fairy

The Last Autumn Fairy by Brittany Fichter

Fantasy. 510 Pages. 5 Stars

44292325. sy475

Synopsis:

Peter has been crowned king of the Third Isle, and Katy is married to her childhood sweetheart. Just nine months into their marriage, they’ve brought the Lairis Isles together and used their gifts to usher in a new age or prosperity. But when they set off on their postponed honeymoon to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation, trouble is brewing that threatens to doom entire populations.

Their other problems fade, though, when Katy discovers that they’ve defied all odds, and she is pregnant. Unfortunately, after fleeing to the one person she was sure could help most, Katy realizes that her once ally just might be her worst enemy, and she and Peter must scramble to protect not only their child but the five isles from an ancient destruction.

If Peter and Katy cannot unite the isles and races, they will lose their child and home. But the wrath of an Autumn Fairy is not to be taken lightly, nor the desperation of a warrior king. But can this autumn fairy can succeed where the last one failed?

My Review:

My heart. Oh. My. Heart.

This is the absolutely stunning conclusion to Brittany Fichter’s high fantasy Autumn Fairy trilogy. And what a very satisfying conclusion it was! I know she’s slaved over this magic system and sworn never to do such an in-depth system again, but oh how I loved every part of the world she’s built. It’s so detailed and rich. I love the history she’s embedded into these islands and how that history is gently unfolded and then offered to the reader. The history plays very heavily into the plot and did not disappoint. The setting and purpose of each individual isle is distinct just like their leaders, and I especially loved the map that gave me a concrete vision of the world this story takes place in. I especially loved the setting change at the end. It felt vivid and real. The contrast was very well written in my opinion.

The plot of this one! Guys, my only regret is not rereading the first two in preparation for this one. I remembered enough to move through it, but this one kept me turning pages. I read about 75% of the book in one day because I was so engrossed in the plot. The villain proved a worth villain indeed. Fichter knows how to plant tension and draw out her strings just right. She’s mastered the balance of heartwarming moments, fear-filled tension, and victorious conquests. And, of course, who didn’t just completely gush over the perfectly proportioned Katy and Peter fluff?! Guys, I know I love Fichter’s books, but these two are my favorite!!! The pacing was perfect! It is a long novel, but I never felt bored with it or had the desire to kind of shrug off the story, if that makes sense. I wanted to keep reading. I wanted to know how the problems would be solved and every new obstacle made my heartbeat falter. And if that’s not enough, I about died at the climax. I mean, it’s been a long time since I picked up a book and cried. Even in the resolution, I was still in tears. This book is very emotional and I completely devoured every word.

Okay, anyone who knows me knows I think Mrs. Fichter’s characters are the, the BEST characters in literature. We are reunited with our beloved Katy, Peter, Firin, and knights. And some guest appearances that just made me downright giddy, y’all. I love watching these people grow, the struggles they face, the hardships they push through, and the points at which they break. I feel like these characters are my friends, my mentors, and sometimes I see myself in them. They ask the same questions I do and they don’t always have the answers. These characters are real. They’re flawed. And they grow. Some learn…and some don’t. Some show us that there is this heartbreaking point at which people choose to stay in undesirable places.

I did read an advanced draft copy and so found several small boo-boos in the writing, but those have been fixed in the polished, proofread draft. Fichter writes masterfully, weaving a tale that takes readers on an emotional ride. She knows how story works and I can’t be more thankful to have stumbled across her works. The book contains very mild violence, nothing more graphic than a bit of blood here and there. There is no foul language whatsoever and only the most heartfelt, realistic romance. There’s nothing more detailed than a kiss, an appreciative look between the married MCs, and the faint implication of more during their brief honeymoon.

More: 

Book 1 in The Autumn Fairy Trilogy is The Autumn Fairy (4 Stars)

Book 2 is The Autumn Fairy of Ages (5 Stars)

I have rated and reviewed the above on Goodreads! Click the link to check it out. Go show this book and/or it’s sequels some love! Tell Brittany that Coralie sent you!

This trilogy must be read in order!

On GraceBought

Missed my first two reviews? Find them below!

The Autumn Fairy and The Autumn Fairy of Ages

A Time for Love

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens. And February? Well, everyone knows this is the time for love.

That’s right, this is the season of reds, pinks, whites, and purples. The stores of full of sparkly heart-shaped balloons, incredibly large stuffed bears, super sappy, lovey-dovey cards, and foil-wrapped chocolatey goodness! Hallmark is geared up and armed with the cheesiest of tv dramas. Jewelry stores are polishing their goods. Women are squeeing and men are groaning. But more than wallets are hurting this Valentine season. Hearts are hurting, too.

We know that Only One Love can fulfill us, truly, deeply, and genuinely fill our hearts and breathe meaning and purpose into our lives. God is the only love that is unconditional and perfect and we need Him ingrained into the deepest parts of our lives. He is the only one who Completes us.

But, God also made man. And He himself said it isn’t good for man to be alone. (See Genesis for that whopper of a tale!) The Creator of the universe declared that romantic love was a part of our lives–and that it was good. So where does that leave us quite noticeably unattached peeps?

We’re so hung up on romantic love, we even turned it into its own holiday. Single Awareness Day–Uh…I mean, Valentine’s Day 😀 has its historical roots, yes, and we’ve turned in into basically another Christmas-a-holic shopping spree to show our love with our pocketbooks, yes. But, I still believe there’s something deeper than that. We’re fascinated by love. We yearn for love. That desire to be cherished by a special someone doesn’t just go away, and the older you get, the harder not having a special someone can be. 

We live in a society where people place such a huge emphasis on falling in love, finding your one true love, and then, once we have found it, we blast the internet with it! We take off our gloves and let our hands rest on the side of the carriage just so that someone just might see the ring, so to speak. (Bonus points if you caught that one 😉 ) But, sometimes, that emphasis makes the singles feel…well, unloved.

My own brother recently got married. And I am so, so incredibly happy for him. And my new sister is beautiful! I’m thrilled to have her as a part of my family! But, whether intentional or not, people treat singles differently than they do married couples. People treat singles like there’s something wrong with them, like they haven’t tried hard enough or they’ve done something they shouldn’t have. And they treat married couples like they’ve done something right, like they’re wiser, smarter, or better off. Like a ring somehow makes them…more than they were the day before without that same ring. Whoa, y’all, I only know of one ring that holds that kind of power and it isn’t a ring I want!

My point is this: we often hail marriage as good and right. And, it is. But that doesn’t mean that singlehood isn’t good or right. One isn’t better than the other. They’re simply different. Different seasons. 

Marriage has its own set of problems to face, its own challenges. Marriage isn’t the end game. It isn’t our purpose in life or the ultimate trophy for getting it right. The grass isn’t greener on the marriage side of the tracks. It’s just…different. It comes with pros and cons, just like single life does.

There’s a time to be single, and there’s a time to be married. Marriage isn’t the end of the story and singleness isn’t some trial to endure until you’ve done something right and somehow reached marriage. Singleness is a gift, just like marriage is! Even if it doesn’t feel like it in our society, we can learn to see the true value in the season of singleness. 

Seasons come and seasons go. Time changes, and so do we. But that doesn’t mean we should wish our lives away, pining for what we don’t have. That’s the surest way to waste the precious time we’ve been given instead of using it wisely to grow and become more like Christ. We don’t have to wait for a partner to cherish our lives. We can love our lives now

I recently read a book by Rachel Cruze called Love Your Life, Not Theirs. She argues that we spend so much of our lives wishing we had the lives we see on our “friends'” social media that we let in seeds of discontentment and bitterness. She says that cultivating a heart of gratitude is the best and surest way of combating the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. And, she’s right. If we find what we’re grateful for in our own lives, then we become happier people and we learn to love our lives.

I mean, who wants to live a life eaten up with jealousy and full of pining for things we don’t have? Has that ever fulfilled anyone? When has it ever worked either? It makes for an exhausting and lonely life. I’m not saying it’s wrong to have desires. But we can’t let them rule our lives or determine our happiness. Besides, if we choose to love our lives as they are, then when seasons change and we’re blessed with other gifts–perhaps even marriage one day–then our lives will become even richer, adding one blessing to another. 

Singleness is a time to learn who we are, to deepen our relationship with our Father. This is a time to cherish and to have fun! Think about it. When you don’t have the distraction of another person to care for or be concerned with, you can do so many incredible things. You have complete control over your own finances, your schedule, your time, decisions, etc. You can pursue your own interests and strengthen your skills, dive into hobbies and hone your current knowledge, or learn all new things. You can make plans at the drop of a hat, travel wherever you want whenever you want, and focus on your goals, dreams, and desires. 

When it’s just you and God, you get to discover who He made you to be and what you want in life. You get to choose who you want to be and you get to develop those character traits. 

So, maybe slow down this Valentine season. Find ways to see this time as a gift. There’s so much pressure from our society, even our friends and family at times, our parents, the culture we live in, even strangers sometimes! They want us to be happy, to “find happiness,” to settle down and find that one true love, but…maybe it doesn’t take a true love to find happiness. Maybe we can choose happiness here and now.

Being married doesn’t make us happier or smarter or more successful or even more loved. Don’t let others put you down because you aren’t married or dating anyone yet. God’s timing is perfect! It truly is. Even though we can’t see it now, He is working in our lives. He’s moving mountains that we don’t even see. Your desires aren’t wrong. He put that hunger in our heart and His plans are good. His impeccable timing will come through, for whatever His plan may be. Cherish the time you have now. Love your life. Be happy in this season. Devote yourself to God and He will direct your steps. Follow Him. Don’t waste your life waiting. Live the life you want now. Go make it happen.

And don’t settle! All I’m saying is that better be one heck of a man to take me away from this incredible gift of singleness! 😉 This can be a season of memories I laugh over, a season of life I treasure, a season of growth and discovery, of crazy adventures and that precious Father-daughter time I won’t ever get again. This can be a season of love. If I let it. And…it can be for you, too. 

Love always,
Coralie

Still by Hillary Scott

Reason by Unspoken

I meant what I said about Single Awareness Day last year, and if you struggle with this holiday, I strongly urge you to check it out. This isn’t a day to mourn, but rather one to remember how precious our time in this season truly is.   

WIP Cast Overview

Eep! So, recently, I did a NaNo link up that was tons of fun, and one of the questions was about getting to know my characters! I may be a bit biased, but I love my characters. I’m working on getting to know them better and thought it might be fun to share a little bit about each of them here with you.

Okay, so today I’m posting a short overview of my main cast, but stay tuned to see more about each character in the weeks to come.

Quick overview for the newcomers: I am writing a Cinderella retelling told from the pov of the youngest stepsister. The idea that started it all was this line that wouldn’t get out of my head:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lenora-quote.jpeg

My friend, Chloe, on YDubs made the super amazing picture above! Anywho, it’s all developed from there. 

And for the character introductions! I have a few MCs, and I’m looking forward to digging deeper into each one. I’ve got character boards on Pinterest and I plan to share some of my favorites with you on each character’s post. I’m still working on a playlist, but I may share some music for each, too.

~*~

For starters, we have Lenora, of course. Lenora is my pov character. In the traditional tale, she’s the youngest stepsister. 

As I’ve shared in the past, she’s much more like her father than her mother: carefree, creative, openhearted, and delighted by the wonders of the world. Lenora is cunning and quick on her feet, but what she desires most seems the least attainable: her mother’s love.

~*~

Next, we have Lenora’s older sister, Scarlett.

Scarlett is much more like their mother. Not only is she absolutely gorgeous, but she’s talented, too. Really talented. She’s refined and elegant and every bit the lady that their mother wishes them to be. She’s logical and much more interested in the benefits of good society and fashion than she is in family or feelings. 

Scarlett is everything Lenora isn’t, everything their Mother wants in a daughter, and still, somehow, not enough. She’s beautiful, talented, and a bit of mystery, my wild card.

~*~

Speaking of their mother, Morgana is my step-mother figure. 

Image result for katie mcgrath morgana

Morgana is calm, cool, and collected. She always wins. She has a past that she’s determined to erase and she’s set on using her girls to do it. Her trademark is those stunning ice blue eyes, but her icy heart is just as cold.

Guys, Morgana is so much fun. She really is. There are so many layers and sides to her! She has multiple inspirations, and I simply can’t wait to share more with you!

~*~

And our Cinderella is Celosia.

Celosia is the star of the show. In the original. She lives with the three cruel step-mongrels above. By choice. This is her story, or so we’ve been told.

~*~

Other characters include:

Charles–our prince, cause what is a Cinderella tale without her prince?

Greyson–Morgana’s first husband and Lenora and Scarlett’s father ❤

Asher–Celosia’s father, Morgana’s second husband

Charissa–Celosia’s mother

~*~

Okie dokie! That sums up this overview! Stay tuned for more indepth introductions to come. 😀 So excited, y’all!

I’d love to know of any thoughts, comments, questions, etc. you guys have for me, or for them! I’ve never done character interviews before, but that might be fun. If you guys come up with some cool questions, we might wrap up this character series with an interview style post! So, please, comment below!

Book Review: The Autumn Fairy of Ages

The Autumn Fairy of Ages by Brittany Fichter

Fantasy. 440 Pages. 5 Stars

40578536. sy475

Synopsis:

Katy and Peter want nothing more than to be married and to begin life together as king and queen of the Third Isle. But before they can take their vows, they must venture to the legendary King’s Isle to meet their long-lost people and the chancels of the Lairis Isles must bless the marriage.

As Katy and Peter begin to learn more about their people and their past, however, they begin to wonder if a simple happy life will ever be within their grasp. For both men and Fae seem less than enthusiastic to approve the match.

All hope of the chancels’ blessing goes up in smoke when Katy is finds herself in the midst of a silent war, and Peter is imprisoned by the very people who brought them to the isle. Only with the help of an ancient forest spirit, an unlikely band of rebels, and their love for each other can Katy and Peter hope to find happiness…and possibly unlock a destiny greater than they’ve ever imagined.

The Autumn Fairy of Ages is the second book in the Autumn Fairy Trilogy, where fairies, humans, and legends collide. Buy The Autumn Fairy of Ages today to join Peter and Katy on their journey as they search for truth among ancient lies, hope in the darkness, and find their own happy ending.

My Review: 

THAT ENDING, Y’ALL!!! Kay, I need book three, like now.

I didn’t think it was possible to fall even more in love with Peter and Katy than I already was. Well, Mrs. Fichter proved me wrong. Not only did we see them grow so much more together as a couple, but they also continued to grow as individuals. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Brittany Fichter’s characters are my favorite! They are models that we can look up to and fawn over, cry with and beat over the head when they’re being stupid. They are real. They aren’t fluffy or shallow, one-dimensional or cliche. These characters deal with real struggles and they make real mistakes. They’re characters to root for whole-heartedly. And she doesn’t just stop with the MCs. Oh no, every single one of those buggers is round, fleshed out, and three dimensional! It’s fascinating and I’m giddy just thinking about it! The Firin, Nikkie, Jagan, Donella, and I loved the other rhins and kings! I want to know more about these new characters we have!! Aisling was one of my favorites. First of all, she was simply enchanting, from the way she looked to her personality. Her story was beautiful and her family made me smile. Oh, and Liam. My word, Liam had me trailing after him like a puppy. I adored his character. The villain in this story stole my breath! I mean, seriously! I want to cry and thrash and scream! Brittany Fichter, you’ve torn my heart out with your positively stunning characters!!

The world expanded just as I’d hoped it would, and still managed to leave just enough mystery to string me along for book three. I absolutely loved seeing the King’s Isle and the seasons and the way Fichter developed the magic. This story held more tradition and rituals that the people were accustomed to. The procedures they’d done for hundreds of years that Katy and Peter were completely oblivious to often confused our MCs. I enjoyed their struggle to justify the rules they were forced to acknowledge. In the final installment, I hope we can see more of the other isles and also even more history. Though Fichter did dig into the allegorical development more, which I loved, I still want to know more history! The traditions of this land were supposedly steeped in its history and Fichter fed me just enough to make me hungry for more! I have the same questions Katy does about the tree and the High King and his family, his reign, etc. I’m very, very pleased with the way the setting and world building developed and very excited to see it continue to do so in the final book.

The plot for this book was so much fun! I think part of that had to do with the new setting, but I liked seeing Peter and Katy operate on their own again as well as how they fought their own internal (and some external!) battles. Again, this goes back to my love of proper development in characters, setting, and plot, etc. But it was just…fun. I can’t really think of a better way to describe it. There was some mystery and intrigue, threads sewn into the story that we will find the end of in book three. There were sweet moments to relish, and tense moments that made your heart pause. I was very intrigued by the tree and the crowns in it. The political set up definitely drew me in. That whole operation of the chancels was interesting to me. The tension between the fairies and the humans was one of the strongest plot drivers here. That definitely lent to explosive plot points, and the tension piqued my curiosity. I want to know how that is resolved too. I think because of the prior book, the length of this one didn’t even come to mind. With the last one, I was surprised to learn it was like 500ish pages, but with this one, I was prepared and so I simply enjoyed every beautiful page of it. The story was well-paced. The end was the only bit that felt slightly rushed/abrupt, but only very slightly. Oh! Also! Sidenote: I loved how the title came into play! That was so clever and beautifully tied in!

Okay, now for the writing itself. I like Mrs. Fichter’s style. I like how she strings her stories together and she’s excellent with development. I saw fewer repetitions than I did in book one, which pleased me. There was more variety in her descriptions and sentence structures than last time. (There was one point with some gnats that I felt was a little confusing and could have used a little more physical description to help a reader out; however, that was a minor issue for me.) I didn’t find any plot holes, but I did have a question about why Peter felt he couldn’t fulfill both of his promises at once. (I can guess, but it was never stated and, even so, I felt the guess to be a little weak, so I’m not sure…) As for typos and such, there were many skipped words and duplicated words. There were very few actual grammatical errors; it was all just minor editing errors. Poor Mrs. Fichter has put her heart and soul into this book, and it turns out she got kinda jipped by her proofreaders (I beg you! Let me proofread! I will SO do a great job!!! *shameless begging* I love proofreading and I am wholeheartedly devoted to your work!). For the first time that I can ever recall, I was not frustrated and annoyed by the errors. I kind of laughed at some of them. (My favorite was “Flames of tongue burned…” XD) Perhaps it’s because I know how hard the author worked, but the errors didn’t bug me as much as they normally would have. Plus, I know she’s doing her best to get them out and the copies updated for her readers. Because I expect she’ll remedy the situation as quickly as possible and because she has worked so diligently to make this the best book she could, I could not deny her that fifth star. This book truly deserved every bit of the five stars.

There is some very mild violence, no foul language, and a sweet, clean romance. There was a little bit of reference to childbearing, but nothing at all detailed. Again, I’d feel very comfortable giving this to a young teen.

More: 

Book 1 in The Autumn Fairy Trilogy is The Autumn Fairy (4 Stars)

Book 3 is The Last Autumn Fairy (5 Stars)

I have rated and reviewed the above on Goodreads! Click the link to check it out. Go show this book and/or it’s sequels some love! Tell Brittany that Coralie sent you!

This trilogy must be read in order!

On GraceBought

Missed my first review? Find it below! And stay tuned next week for my thoughts on the conclusion!

The Autumn Fairy

Growing Pains

And we’re back to February again. Man, how does that happen so fast? You start out preparing for Christmas, all excited for the season. Then New Year’s is right around the corner; we’re making goals and plans for change and growth. And before we know it, January has come and, quite suddenly, gone. We’ve got more than just our toes into 2020 now. 

February also marks the second year for GraceBought, which is exciting! Moving into my third year blogging seems kind of strange. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. But…that’s the strange thing about seasons, isn’t it. Sometimes we never realize how far we’ve come until we look up.

Time. Time is constant. But seasons change. They come and go, ebb and flow. We watch as time weaves it’s spell and then…when we look up, an eternity has passed before our very eyes. Often without our having noticed.

It’s how Christmas turns to Easter and then summer and then school starts again and leaves begin to change. It’s how a new year springs up just as you learn to write the date right on your checks. It’s how little fingers and toes turn into looking up into the eyes of your own child. It’s how scared faces tucked into your skirts turn into strong men and women facing their own life-altering decisions. You look up and suddenly, they aren’t just standing up with the help of a coffee table anymore, they aren’t even walking on wobbly hobbit feet anymore, they’re running full speed ahead without so much as a glance back at you.

Time brings change. And change hurts sometimes. Change scares some people. And others it frees. I think it’s good to look up from our lives every now and again, to look up and back. We spend January reminiscing and plotting world domination for the upcoming year. And it’s a good exercise. We need to clear our heads of the cobwebs and refocus. But by February, many times, we’ve lost steam. Our energy is already eaten up and we’re back to sticking our heads in the sand. 

Growth is change. We have to be intentional about growing, purposeful about changing, or we’ll never get better. We can’t just plateau. If we leave our lives without intentional direction, we won’t move forward and maintain the same level. We’ll fall. If left unattended, we won’t stay the course, steady or strong. We’ll regress. If we aren’t plunging forward on purpose, we will take a nosedive. Draymond Green puts it this way, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

We spend so much time in January dreaming up a better life and promising ourselves we’ll follow through. But sometimes it’s easier to stay in our stink than to make the effort to change, to grow. And, if we aren’t careful, we’ll look up again and have lost ground rather than gained it. 

As scary as change can be, and painful as growth is sometimes, we can’t leave our lives on autopilot and expect the exceptional. We can’t allow ourselves to be okay with mediocrity. We have to take our lives by the reigns and choose to grow, to change, to become who we want to be. To become who we’re made to be. 

God has a plan. And He loves us so much that He gives us a choice. We can choose to be a part of that plan, to follow Him. Or…we can choose to rebel and thus doom ourselves to watching His plan unfold in spite of ourselves. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being left behind.

God’s plan takes time to unfold. We don’t always see how it’s going to work out. But He is in control. It will work out. And He is good, which means His plan is good. Our Heavenly Father wants what’s best for us.

Sometimes we don’t see very clearly with these earthly eyes. Sometimes the fire we’re in makes our eyes water and our lungs burn. But just like the child we comfort who is growing three inches in a year, God holds our hand. He strokes our brow and tell us it’s okay; they’re just growing pains.

God walks through the fire with us. The fire is refining us, growing us, making us into who He made us to be. We just have to learn to trust God in this season and watch Him move. Then, when we look up and back, we’ll see how far we’ve truly come.

Trust is hard to develop. And it can be destroyed in an instant. But I challenge you to put your trust in God, no matter what you see, no matter how much it hurts. I challenge you to place that precious, tender trust in Him. And then watch Him work wonders in your life. 

God has plans for us, amazing plans that we can’t even comprehend. And if we’ll follow Him, if we’ll trust Him, He will amaze us. God is good, and so are His plans. And we are certainly not powerful enough to mess up God’s plans, which means no matter how far we’ve strayed, He will always welcome us home again with open arms. 

Proverbs 16:9 says that “A man’s heart plans his course, but the Lord directs His steps.” He promises to guide us. But we have to take the step. As scary as that sounds, take the step. As painful as the growth can be, take the step.

Make your plans, live your life on purpose. Don’t wander aimlessly or give up hope when your motivation falters. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon. Time stops for no man, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. When we fail, when we can’t see through the smoke or when our lungs are heavy with the smoke, we have to determine to push on, to keep pressing forward, to trust in the One who wove us together and set us apart.

Look up. See how far you’ve already come. And then trust that God is growing you. Follow His lead. Take His hand and find comfort in the Father when it hurts. Know that when you can’t see your way through, His plan will prevail. His purpose is good. And His love is boundless. 

Love always,
Coralie

Book Review: A Princess of Wind and Wave

A Princess of Wind and Wave: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid by Melanie Cellier

Fairy Tale. 378 Pages. 5 Stars

49010110. sy475

Synopsis:

Isla may be a mermaid princess, but she’s never felt at home in her undersea kingdom. Instead she dreams of the day her people can return to the surface–and the boy whose life she once saved. But while Isla foresees danger for her people beneath the ocean, she has no concept of the dark forces working to keep her people submerged.

When an impetuous vow sets her on the course of the truth, Isla discovers that shadowy foes beset the kingdoms of both land and sea. And when she finally finds herself onshore, Isla realizes the fight will require not only her sword but her mind and heart as well–at least if she ever hopes to overcome her enemies and win the love of the prince of her dreams.

In this reimagining of the classic fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, the princess will have to grow beyond her dreams if she wants to save two kingdoms and her own heart.

My Review: 

This. Was. Stunning. *jaw drop*

This is quite possibly my favorite Little Mermaid retelling, and I’ve read lots of them. And I am almost certain this is my favorite of all of Cellier’s books thus far, and I’ve loved many of her books!! It’s hard to beat A Dance of Silver and Shadow, but wow! Just wow! I loved everything about this book, from page one. I thoroughly, and I do mean thoroughly, enjoyed this. I think it’s her best work yet.

The plot was engaging from the first line and held me captive until the very end of the epilogue. The intrigue and action were seamlessly woven into the story. And the villain honestly took me slightly be surprise. I mean, for 70% I didn’t suspect the villain in the slightest, but when it came time to reveal the villain, it felt natural and right. I loved following the problems with each kingdom, on the surface and below it, and how they were strung together in the end. The story never failed to intrigue me.

And neither did the world itself. We’ve seen many kingdoms so far in Cellier’s world, but this time we saw the sea kingdom, and I’m a bit of a sucker for mermaids. The different kingdoms were fascinating. Oddly, however, instead of there being much of a contrast, there were more similarities between Merita and her sister kingdoms, which I loved. It was a neat new perspective. And the merfolk themselves were really cool, too! I’d never seen merfolk like these before and I reveled in their society. I enjoyed getting a little into the politics of their culture, and would have enjoyed more on it, honestly. But the culture and transition from merpeople to how they lived their everyday lives and the whole relationship with the surface was beautifully done. I could have spent all day and then some (hah, I did!) in their world. I definitely hope we see more of them!

The characters in this one were some of my favorites! I grew to love Teddy and Millie and Daisy almost instantly. And Isla was one of my favorites in the series so far!! I absolutely loved her! She had so many sides and skills and passions. I loved her! I enjoyed the complex relationships with her sisters, and could relate to many of them myself, but from the oldest’s end. And the relationship with her father was excellent fodder. It played right into the plot, but I never once rolled my eyes at him. I understood him and sympathised with him, and that made it all the better. And Ray! Guys, I hear there’s gonna be a short from Ray’s pov! I can’t wait! He was an unexpected pleasure in the story.

And the lessons they learned were so well done, seamlessly woven into the story. The book was well-written. And the light allegorical elements were woven in so incredibly well. I just…y’all, I loved this one from top to bottom. Thoroughly intriguing, engaging, and full of fantastic worldbuilding and excellent characters. Just well done. ❤ I very highly recommend this one! (In the proper order, of course. :D)

Clean and sweet romance, no foul language, and non-graphic violence. (There was a bit of fighting and rebellion and such, but it was all very cleanly done.)

More:

Book 1 in the Beyond the Four Kingdoms series is A Dance of Silver and Shadow: A Retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses (5 Stars)

Book 2 is A Tale of Beauty and Beast: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (5 Stars)

Book 3 is A Crown of Snow and Ice: A Retelling of The Snow Queen (5 Stars)

Book 4 is A Dream of Ebony and White: A Retelling of Snow White (4 Stars)

Book 5 is A Captive of Wing and Feather: A Retelling of Swan Lake (5 Stars)

I have rated and reviewed the above on Goodreads. Click the links above to find out more, scroll down, and you’ll see my reviews among the others.

This series doesn’t have to be read in order, necessarily, but I would anyway cause there might be minor spoilers between stories. They stand on their own, but the characters carry over from book to book. 

On GraceBought:

If you missed it, check out my thoughts on the previous books here! 

A Dance of Silver and Shadow, A Tale of Beauty and Beast, A Crown of Snow and Ice, A Dream of Ebony and White, and A Captive of Wing and Feather

Also, don’t forget to check out the original series, The Four Kingdoms! And I’m told there’s to be another spin-off series! So keep an eye out for The Return to the Four Kingdoms!

A Thankful Heart

“There is no way to begin 

to tell you how I feel

There are no words to express

how you’ve become so real.”

Have you ever been so incredibly overwhelmed by gratitude that you truly have no words to express how you feel? Have you ever felt so blessed, so overjoyed that you feel tears brim? Over the simplest of things even?

“I have a thankful heart

Words don’t come easily”

It’s an experience. To literally feel your “cup runeth over,” to feel this genuinely overwhelming sense of thankfulness pour out of your spirit and wash over your body. 

In moments like these, I cannot do anything more than praise the Father and thank Him. 

There are so many things in this world that can bring us down, that can tear at us, between us, and around us. We live in a dark and broken world, a world that is falling deeper and deeper into chaos and sin. A world that is doomed to a fiery death, a most painful end. And, many times, this dark, cruel world can bog us down. If we aren’t careful, that can seep into our spirits and drag us down with it. 

How do you fight a dark, vile world? One full of hurt and sorrow, so much pain and bitterness, hate and ignorance? How do you stay afloat in the torrential storm that life is? How do you center yourself and find some semblance of peace? 

You fight the darkness with light. You never let go of hope. No matter the cost. 

One of the most effective ways of cultivating light, of maintaining hope, is gratitude. If you are thankful, there is little room for bitterness to take root, for selfishness to carve out pieces of your heart, or for darkness to overshadow you. When you are thankful, even for the smallest of things, it changes your spirit. And creating a habit of gratitude, a consisent observance of thankfulness, you mold your character, strengthen your spirit, and develop an endurance for the wildest of storms, the darkest of nights.

I tell you, I have found a peace deeper and more real than anything in this crazy world. I have found a joy that is rooted in my very soul. I have found a way to thank God above despite the hurt I see around me.

That doesn’t mean I don’t hurt, too. That doesn’t mean I don’t cry or feel anger and resentment. It doesn’t mean I can call on joy and peace in the moment when my wounds are torn open, my flesh exposed, my fears affronted. I’m not impervious to the upheaval in my spirit or the temptations of the flesh. Far from it. I am just as prone to fall as the next man. I have just as many faults and fears as the next man. I have as many scars, and I have inflicted as many wounds as I have incurred.

But…no matter what life throws at me, I have a blessed assurance. I know in the very fabric of my being that it doesn’t all end in misery. This will all be worth it in the end. And I cling to that hope. 

Job hoped. He trusted in God. He knew that God was the Master of everything, that He was good and right and just, no matter what happened to him, no matter what the people around him said. His friends accused him of wickedness. Even his own wife told him to abandon his beliefs, to give up hope, and to die. But Job knew with everything that was in him that nothing mattered without God. That God was the only constant in this everchanging world. Job lost everything. But he knew that the one thing he could never lose was God’s love. And for that he was thankful.

I can’t stop this world from spinning out of control. I can’t stop the torment, the evil that surrounds us. I even struggle to see throught the murky darkness at times. I could lose everything and everyone I love tomorrow. I could be condemned to a fate worse than death and denied everything I’ve ever dreamed of and I would not relent this hope.

There is always something to be thankful for. There always has been. 

How do you fight? I can tell you how I fight. A day at a time. A moment at a time. 

I watch the world around me and see the good in God’s creation. I find the moments that are precious; I find them, then treasure and store them up. And those bring me through the darkness. I see the little boy give up his balloon to the little girl to stop her tears. I see the young woman doggedly determined to never repeat the mistakes of her past. I see the man fighting far from home, putting his own life on the line for a complete stranger he may never meet.  I see the people who offer kindness for no reward and who serve for no glory.

Gratitude is…one of the most powerful forces I’ve ever known. It can change hearts more completely than almost anything else. Gratitude comes from contentment. If you can learn to be content with what you have, who you are, and where you are, you can cultivate gratitude in the lowest of circumstances and maintain an inpenitrible hope.

And hope is what fuels us. It propels us forward. Hope gives us the motivation to take that next step, no matter how grueling it is, no matter how much it hurts. Hope is what drives us on when we’ve lost all else. 

Build a lifetime of memories, of assurance, and you will have the weapons, the skill, the endurance, the character to never let go. You can harvest the fruits of the Spirit. You can reap the undeniable peace, joy, and love. You can have the hope that never lets go. If you plant the seeds today. If you tend to them daily, water them faithfully, shine light on them, and bravely yank out the weeds. It’s laborious. It’s painful. It’s tedious, monotonous, and tiresome. But it is rewarding beyond measure. 

Start small. What are you thankful for today? What blessing can you count now? Write it down. Remember it. Let it light your eyes and curve your lips. Let it settle into your heart and lift your sprit. And then do it again tomorrow. And the next day and then next and the next until your heart overflows with something that has no name, something words cannot express. Do it until you smile for no reason and praise the Lord above for the simplest of things. Do it until your heart soars and your spirit sings. Because that is how you endure. That is how you hope.

Love always,
Coralie

Petra Thankful Heart

WWWednesday #7

Hey, guys, hey!! And welcome to the first WWWednesday of the New Year! 2020 means new goals, new books, and more sharing!

I’m so looking forward to charging through this year with you guys! Share your reading goals with me below! I’d love to hear what authors, books, goals, etc. you’re plotting out for this beautiful New Year!

What is WWW Wednesday?

WWW Wednesday is a book meme originally created by A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, simply answer the following questions every Wednesday:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

And, like I said, I think I’ll just start with once a month to see how tenable this is. The idea is for a quick, easy post that keeps you guys in the loop and me involved on a regular basis!

So, without further ado, here is our next WWW Wednesday!

WWWednesday #7

What are you currently reading?

Pft, I’m currently trying to get a handle on a regular schedule again XD In the meantime, I’m reading Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene by Paula Munier, that is, when I get a moment to spare anyway.

21432299

Thoughts: Actually reading this is kind of slow going because I keep putting it down to do life, but every time I pick it up, I’m so inspired by what I’m reading! I love the exercises and am plowing through them as they are presented in the book and applying them to my WIP, which is a ton of fun!

What did you recently finish reading?

I most recently finished Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly. I bought it last summer because, one, that cover is cool, and two I’m working on a Cinderella retelling and have been guzzling them as part of my research. 

41473840. sy475

Thoughts: This was an extremely creative and very well-written book. It was incredibly unique and, though a few minor thematic points kind of ruffled my feathers, I would recommend it. Stay tuned for a full review!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Hmm, well, there are a thousand books I want to read, and of course, just as many I want to read next. But I just got an ebook library copy of KOTLC Book 4, Neverseen, by Shannon Messenger. 

22733616

Thoughts: I’m actually a little nervous about this one. The last one left off with the gang leaving their elvan homes to join the Black Swan, in person. I liked the setting and the world so much. I feel like a part of me is going to miss that, but I am looking forward to Italy and seeing the plot twist even more.

~~~

Well, that’s a wrap for this WWW Wednesday! Let me know what you think below!

Have you read any of the books above? What did you think? What books are you currently reading, looking forward to, and what have you recently finished reading?

Are there any big reading goals you have for 2020? I’d love to discuss it below!

Until next time!

Book Review: A Captive of Wing and Feather

A Captive of Wing and Feather: A Retelling of Swan Lake by Melanie Cellier

Fairy Tale. 304 Pages. 5 Star

48066306. sy475

Synopsis:

Princess Adelaide has been missing for years. And that’s exactly the way she wants it. Haunted by her past, not even the curse that entraps her is enough to make her long for her old home.

But her past finds her anyway, in the form of a handsome prince from her childhood. Adelaide doesn’t want to let Gabe in, but a sinister force is spreading fear throughout her new kingdom, and only Gabe has the will to help her. Adelaide can’t refuse his assistance–not when the evil might soon ensnare much more than a solitary princess. But with her friends and her new kingdom in danger, even the help of Gabe and her seven swans might not be enough.

In this reimagining of the classic tale, Swan Lake, the trapped princess must find the courage to overcome her past if she has any hope of turning a tragedy into a happy ending.

My Review:

I love Swan Lake. I always have. It’s a piece of my childhood, sits right next to The Nutcracker and Dance Tanya. I can’t say I’ve read many retellings of Swan Lake, though I know a few film adaptations and The Swan Princess sets the bar pretty high for me. That said, Melanie Cellier knocked it out of the park. Truly, I fell every bit in love with her rendition as I’d hoped I would.

I’ve been following Cellier’s works for a few years now and her fairy tales have a light air to them, an adventurous spirit, and just enough fluff to soothe the itch. Admittedly, going in with high expectations because of my love for Swan Lake puts her at a disadvantage, but Cellier pulled through. She created a cast of characters that I just loved. I had a little trouble remembering Gabe from previous books or even Adelaide since it’s been two years since I read the first two books in this series. But I still enjoyed them both. Their relationship was sweet and fun to watch, too. I liked their childhood and past together. That was special, I thought.

And the side cast was just as much fun! First of all, Cora 😉 I must admit, it’s only the second time I’ve ever run into a character with my own name! But her character was heartwarming and motherly. I loved her! Our Rothbart figure was a little less on screen and, honestly, a little less effectively creepy I thought, but he served his purpose and pulled through for a strong climax and ending, I thought.

The haven was a big part of this story and I loved how it worked into the plot. The lake itself was stunning, enchanting, and perfect. I loved Cellier’s vision of the lake and how she tied it into the plot so beautifully. It wasn’t simply a pretty bit of scenery. The lake served a purpose and that was neat. The Keep was cool, too, adding yet another dimension to the setting.

The plot was, of course, Swan Lake, but it was thoroughly steeped in the Four Kingdoms world and held true to Cellier’s style for something a little more than simply the retelling of a classic tale. The spying and intrigue were some of the coolest twists in this retelling. And the swans were such a treat! It had a thread of Wild Swans/Seven Swans which was honestly a nifty addition, I think.

Cellier writes clean books. No foul language, very little and non-graphic violence, and sweet, clean romance. The themes were uplifting and well threaded into the story. Overall, I really think Cellier did Swan Lake justice and I’d even say this is one of my favorites of the series!

More:

Book 1 in the Beyond the Four Kingdoms series is A Dance of Silver and Shadow: A Retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses (5 Stars)

Book 2 is A Tale of Beauty and Beast: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (5 Stars)

Book 3 is A Crown of Snow and Ice: A Retelling of The Snow Queen (5 Stars)

Book 4 is A Dream of Ebony and White: A Retelling of Snow White (4 Stars)

Book 6 is A Princess of Wind and Wave: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid (5 Stars)

I have rated and reviewed the above on Goodreads. Click the links above to find out more, scroll down, and you’ll see my reviews among the others.

This series doesn’t have to be read in order, necessarily, but I would anyway cause there might be minor spoilers between stories. They stand on their own, but the characters carry over from book to book. 

On GraceBought:

If you missed it, check out my thoughts on the previous books here! And stay tuned next week for my thoughts on the final book in the series!

A Dance of Silver and Shadow, A Tale of Beauty and Beast, A Crown of Snow and Ice, and A Dream of Ebony and White

Also, don’t forget to check out the original series, The Four Kingdoms!