The Seven Drawers: Magic Mirrors Blog Tour

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Today is the final day of the Seven Magic Mirrors blog tour! The final release of the tour is The Seven Drawers: A Tale of Snow White by Kendra E. Ardnek.

SevenDrawers3_editedGwen’s life has been absolute misery for the last two months. Her father died, she was written out of the will, her stepmother kicked her out of the house, and, in that time, she’s not heard a word from her boyfriend of five years.

And she might be suffering from insanity. A chest of drawers just appeared at the foot of her bed, and as she opens each drawer, she’s spirited away to another realm where she finds herself in increasingly bizarre prisons, each the fault of her stepmother.

Can she win back her life – and kingdoms? – from her stepmother? Or will Editha win?

Continuing the trend I started, here are Seven Reasons I Love This Story:

1. This is a highly unique retelling of Snow White. Having seven drawers that each lead to a different parallel reality, all of the realms being linked through similar circumstances, but each slightly different than all the others… all woven into a Snow White retelling? If you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s ambitious!” you’re exactly right! What an ambitious concept… and so cleverly written!

2. The masterful handling of a complex idea. I was a little concerned when I began reading that I was going to get confused with all the characters having multiple different names… Gwen travels through the drawers and “meets” herself in 7 different realms than the one in which she exists, as well as all of her acquaintances and her stepmother, and everyone has different names in every realm! However, I felt that the author handled this device very well and I was actually never confused about who was who, even when more and more characters started to know about the multiple realms and the multiple parallel versions of themselves. That is quite a feat, in and of itself.

3. Gwen/Eirwen/Bianca/etc. Once again, my pre-conceived notions of what a “Snow White” character is have been challenged, in the best way possible. The main character in this story is truly lovable. She isn’t perfect, and she makes mistakes, but she continues to struggle on to reclaim what has been stolen from her and to protect the ones she cares about. I loved cheering for her throughout the story.

4. Jeremy. Be still my heart! One of the great downfalls of most Snow White stories is the passivity of the prince. Not so with this story. He doesn’t necessarily sweep in to save the day (and in some realms, he even plays the Huntsman) but he is loyal, steadfast, hard-working, true, brave, and willing to do whatever it takes to save his princess… even if it means letting her figure out how to solve the problem for herself.

5. The writing style. I just love Ms. Ardnek’s writing style, okay? I haven’t been disappointed with a single one of her stories yet. The Bookania Quests, Rizkaland, and now The Seven Drawers… she just has a way of pulling me in and not letting me go until I’ve finished the book. Her characters are really fun, and she weaves their journeys around interesting obstacles. At times, these obstacles may even seem a bit simplistic or too easily overcome, but she does a good job creating enough suspense around the obstacles that I enjoy the journey anyway.

6. Charcoal. He’s a dragon. I liked him a lot. Read the book so you can meet him.

7. The Snow White elements… yeah… didn’t see that coming, did you? But I loved that the Snow White elements fit so naturally into this retelling. At times, they were so subtle I almost missed them, and other times they popped off the page… not in a distracting way, but more in an, “Aha! That’s clever!” sort of way. But I’m not going to go into all of them here, because: SPOILERS!

Do go fetch a copy of this delightful story for yourself! Or read the first chapter for free on Kendra’s website!

Kendra E. Ardnek

About the Author

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 || Facebook || Youtube

~ jenelle

Monsters in the Dark

Spooky Story Flash Fiction

For my flash spooky story, I decided to expand the short snippet I had written at Realm Makers during Wayne Thomas Batson’s session on creating suspense. He told us we had to use the names “Biff” and “Zelda”… so I kept them. Here you go!


 

Biff held the knife in his trembling hand, the peanut butter jar before him, still tightly closed.

“Just ignore it,” Zelda whispered in his ear, her voice nearing a hysterical strain. “Maybe it will go away.”

But he couldn’t ignore it. The squelching, sucking sensation on the bottom of his shoes, the wet, glopping noise it made whenever he shifted his weight, the cold, clammy stickiness on the palm of the hand clutching the knife, the echoing sounds in the sterile kitchen, all combined to assault his nerves.

“I can’t do it,” he hissed. “I can’t!”

“If you don’t, you know what will happen. Please… please, Biff,” Zelda’s voice choked. “I want to see our daughter again.”

Biff took a quavering breath and clenched his teeth tightly together. Resisting the urge to close his eyes, he unscrewed the lid of the jar and scooped up a large portion of peanut butter onto the flat of the blade. He raised the knife high over his head waving it about. The creature beneath him shifted suddenly, the tentacle upon which they stood wobbled, nearly toppling them both; they clung to the counter, trying to maintain their balance.

“It knows!” Zelda’s fingers tightened on his arm. He looked down into her white face, pale in the dim moonlight filtering in through the windows. She nodded firmly.

With all the strength he had, Biff flung the knife across the kitchen. It sailed into the living room and landed on the new carpet with a gentle thud.

The floor beneath them lurched. Biff and Zelda could not maintain their balance, and they toppled onto the slimy tiles as the creature slithered toward the fallen knife with terrible speed. Biff’s hands slipped in the ooze as he scrabbled and slipped, attempting to regain his feet. He finally managed to stand, pulling Zelda up with him. Together, they worked their way across the kitchen to the stairs. Biff’s heart thudded in his chest, filling his ears with the drumming staccato of fear. The peanut butter would only serve as a distraction for so long. He wanted to run, but knew it was futile on the slippery tiles.

A swishing, glopping sound filled the kitchen behind them and Zelda whimpered.

“Just a few more steps,” Biff whispered.

The sound of rubbery tentacles covered in suction cups slapping the tiles behind them grew louder and louder. Biff’s spine tingled with apprehension, waiting for the cold, heavy blow he knew was coming. Regret flooded through him. If only he had thrown the knife harder. If only he had never ordered that quick-grow nutrition pack for their daughter’s science project. If only there hadn’t been a storm. If only the power hadn’t gone out… but all the “if onlys” in the world could not save him now. They could not outrun the creature. It had every advantage here.

A shock coursed through him as something wet slapped against his back, propelling him forward and onto the carpeted safety of the stairs. Zelda’s shriek of terror filled his ears. Gasping, he yanked her arm, dragging her along behind him, gaining speed as he climbed out of the darkness below. Above him, the soft, reassuring glow of a battery-operated nightlight filled the hallway and he aimed himself at it in desperation.

They gained the landing, but they could hear the creature pulling itself up the walls of the staircase behind them. Biff was not sure the tiny glowing radius of the nightlight would be enough, but it was his only hope.

Then the glow winked out, and Biff’s heart plummeted to the soles of his sludge-covered shoes.

A moment later, a blinding brightness filled his vision and he reeled back at the unexpected radiance.

“Mom! Dad! Quick! I found the flashlight! Come on!” Cindy, their daughter, stood in the hallway and aimed the powerful light at the strange creature and it made an inhuman, screaming sound, scrabbling away from the light that burned its sensitive skin, tentacles flailing in the stairwell. Biff did not relent. He shined the light on the creature, stepping closer to it until it curled up into a tiny ball and dropped to the stairs where it lay, unmoving.

Biff took hold of the flashlight, shielding his wife and daughter behind him and together they backed into Cindy’s room. Biff shut and locked the door, then turned to his family, a sense of relief rushing through him. He pulled Zelda and Cindy to him in a desperate embrace.

“I thought…” he began in a choked voice, but could not finish, could not voice the fears that had overwhelmed him in the darkness downstairs.

Zelda pulled away. “We can climb out the window,” she said, her voice high and thin, but no longer trembling. She dug into her pocket and held up her keys. “I never put these away after we got home from grocery shopping!”

They all laughed, a strained, hysterical sound in the tiny room.

A squelching noise emanated from the closet, and Cindy froze, her eyes wide with horror.

“What is it, honey?” Zelda asked, patting their daughter’s shoulder.

“Mom… Dad… please tell me you already took care of the others.”

Biff frowned. “What others?”

The closet door burst open.

~ jenelle

For Such a Time as This: Magic Mirrors Blog Tour

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Today I am pleased to introduce you to VASHTI, the “Wicked Queen” character in Heather L.L. Fitzgerald’s novella, “For Such a Time as This.”

This was another one of the stories I had the pleasure of reading during the Rooglewood Contest and I just love it to pieces. Due to this past week being ridiculously crazy and somewhat awful, I have not quite finished my ARC, yet. But I will have a review coming soon! What I can tell you is that this is a brilliant combination of the story of Esther from the Bible with a futuristic fantasy take on the classic story of Snow White. This is a world that contains both hovercrafts, tracking chips, and an AI but ALSO magic and dragons. And these elements are woven together so brilliantly that it just seems natural that these things all coexist in the same world. But I’m stepping off into review territory here, and I want to save all that for the actual review.

Today, however, I get to spotlight one of the characters from this delightful story, VASHTI!

Real queen. Prideful young woman in crown keeping arms crossed while standing against grey backgroundQueen Vashti the Fair and King Xerxes the Valiant make an ideal couple…if one was to judge them strictly by appearance. But, alas, a marriage cannot survive on pouty lips and chiseled jaws alone.

Besides, Vashti has recently lost her royal standing. No longer queen, the platinum blonde now seethes in her downsized quarters, plotting how best to return to Xerxes’ favor. Promise him an heir? Disrupt his upcoming search for a new queen? Resort to using her secret skills as an enchantress to make him love her again?

One thing is certain, this power-lusting woman will not step demurely out of the way and allow someone else to take her place. She may be the Fairest but she most certainly doesn’t play fair!

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Make sure you don’t miss any of the fantastic stops on the Magic Mirrors Tour!

Purchase Link

Add Book on Goodreads

Author Bio:

IMG_8077Award winning author Heather L.L. FitzGerald writes from her home in Texas, while dreaming of being back in the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up. She is drawn to stories that become good friends–friends you want to revisit–the kind you wish to keep close. Those are the type of novels Heather aspires to write, ones worthy of delicious coffee and a lingering relationship.

The Tethered World was a finalist and The Flaming Sword won the 2017 OCW Cascade Award for Speculative Fiction. So far in 2018 The Genesis Tree has become a finalist for a Realm Award, Selah Award, and an OCW Cascade Award.

Heather’s a member of ACFW, Manent Writers, and CAN. Find her online at: Website  || Facebook || Twitter || Newsletter || Instagram || Amazon

~ jenelle

Magic Mirrors Blog Tour Blood in the Snow Review

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I… erm… may have bitten off a mite more than I could chew this month, what with #drachtober, the spooky story challenge, and volunteering to ARC FOUR of the seven Magic Mirrors stories… but… doggone it… I was just so excited for this multi-author release!! And particularly for this one, my own darling Special Unicorn from the submissions I got to read for the Rooglewood contest. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Special Unicorns were those entries that received a perfect score from the judges. Doesn’t mean they won, but it should tell you something about the strength of the story even in its non-final-draft form). So I am beyond thrilled that the author has chosen to publish this story herself, because it’s THAT good! And I was very excited to re-read it in its polished form, and I loved it every bit as much the second time through!

Today’s blog tour focuses on Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington. This story is absolutely incredible, and I could not be more pleased to be reviewing it today.

Princess Baili of the Kingdom of Seven Rivers, has been declared the fairest in the land by the Dragonglass, which cannot lie. In fulfillment of a prophecy, she is sent to marry the prince of the Kingdom of Three Peaks. But her jealous and ambitious stepmother plots Baili’s demise, ordering her stepdaughter’s escort to kill the princess before she reaches the Kingdom of Three Peaks and take her place.

Thanks to her blood-gift — a gift bestowed upon members of the royal house by which they can use their blood to access powers beyond that of normal men — Baili manages to escape with her life. Bereft of the trappings of her true position and forced to accept the charity of peasants and work in anonymity as a goose girl, can Princess Baili convince anyone of her true identity? More importantly, can she find a way to warn the Kingdom of Three Peaks that more betrayal is coming?

Seven things I love about this story:

1. How seamlessly it weaves together Snow White and The Goose Girl as one story. Ms. Pennington has done a fantastic job weaving this story as though those two tales were always meant to be together. This element of the story was breathtaking and masterfully written and I am in awe.

2. The beauty with which this tale is told, and the strong characters throughout are mesmerizing. I could not put the book down until I was finished reading it! Thankfully, it’s a short enough story that it didn’t take me too long.

3. Baili – I love this character so much! Baili is very interesting and somewhat unique as a fantasy princess. We don’t get much of her back-story, and her character and personality come up so naturally in the story, it’s like getting to know an actual person. Even by the end of the book, I don’t know much about events in Baili’s life before the beginning of Blood in the Snow, but those events don’t matter much. Who she is through the story is the thing that matters, and she is fascinating. She starts out seeming a little weak and naive and pampered, and is frustrated with herself when she cannot make her servants obey her, but she is not helpless, nor is she a spoiled brat. Throughout her adventures, she reveals the possession of a core of iron and a heart of tender compassion, as well as deep integrity.

4. Chouko – the woman who teaches Baili to tend geese. She is a sour character, and at first she basically hates everything about Baili. But Baili sets her sights on winning Chouko’s respect, and eventually gains her friendship. Watching that friendship blossom is beautiful to behold.

5. The Blood Gift. I found this aspect of the story unique and intriguing. The idea of royalty being gifted with power in their very blood, and yet having different talents within their gifts, was just a really fun twist to the story. It added just the right amount of magic and mystery to this fairy tale retelling.

6. The Far-East aspects of the story were also quite expertly woven into the story, and I liked how they helped the characters and the plot feel both fantastical and familiar all at the same time.

7. Prince Liu Xiang. Too often in Snow White stories (and fairy tale retellings in general) authors will knee-jerk away from the “Prince saves the day” trope, but they will then swing the pendulum too far the other direction and make the prince into a spineless, cardboard-cutout type character (OUAT, anyone?). Not so with Prince Xiang! While he does not have a huge role in this story, his presence is a powerful one. From his obvious intelligence that causes him to suspect that the woman who has arrived is NOT, in fact, his betrothed, to his compassionate use of his healing gift to anyone who needs it regardless of station, to his willingness to do battle for those he loves, Prince Xiang is indeed a worthy character, and I really appreciated that.

Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you all how much I loved this story, you’re just going to have to read it for yourself!!!

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Again, there were many other things I loved about this story, but to say more would be to start revealing spoilers… so instead, I’m going to urge you to go pick up a copy today and read this delightful book post-haste!

Five Dragon Eggs

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Find the book on: Amazon || Goodreads
Follow Sarah Pennington online!
 Author Site || Dreams and Dragons || Light and Shadows || Facebook || Goodreads || Amazon

~ jenelle