Author Archives: Lulu

About Lulu

Thirty-something year old educator based in New York, Lulu loves books, blogging, gaming, and her pom son Frodo Barkins with whom she shares her life. Book reviews specialize in all kinds of fantasy, some YA, some romance, and some contemporary, especially in the gothic genre.

This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

 This is Not the End
by Chandler Baker

If you could choose one person to bring back to life, who would it be? Seventeen-year-old Lake Deveraux is the survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend and boyfriend. Now she faces an impossible choice. Resurrection technology changed the world, but strict laws allow just one resurrection per citizen, to be used on your eighteenth birthday or lost forever. You only have days to decide. For each grieving family, Lake is the best chance to bring back their child. For Lake, it’s the only way to reclaim a piece of happiness after her own family fell apart. And Lake must also grapple with a secret–and illegal–vow she made years ago to resurrect someone else. Someone who’s not even dead yet. Who do you need most? As Lake’s eighteenth birthday nears, secrets and betrayals new and old threaten to eclipse her cherished memories. Lake has one chance to save a life…but can she live with her choice?

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication: August 8, 2017
Genre: Young Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

If you’re looking for something super sci-fi and devious, this is not for you. More contemporary than anything else, This is Not the End by Chandler Baker is a very interesting YA book that I initially disliked but really ended up enjoying it by the end. The reasons for which will likely be made in a spoiler vlog in the next day or two. That said, yes, there is something devious, and yes, there is a kernel of sci-fi, but where the heart of the story lies is with Lake facing her truths and the truths of expectations unknowingly placed.

The premise, I have to be honest, feels a little flawed. That there is a procedure that can bring people back to life, but can’t actually be modified to help the living is weird. I know, sci-fi, suspension of belief, but there has to be something there to make it rational, and for me there wasn’t. Then, to limit that choice of resurrection to someone on their 18th birthday and only then, is just weird and feels arbitrary. Why 18? I suppose, for the story’s sake, it needs to be 18, but in general, it just doesn’t seem realistic.

Aside from the unrealistic premise, the story was actually really, really good! I was completely absorbed by it, right there with Lake trying to decide WHO she should resurrect, and then trying to figure out WHAT was actually going on. I had figured out a major spoiler fairly early on, but Baker still managed to surprise me with it as I hadn’t guessed the entire truth. Untangling the relationships Lake has with her family, friends, and boyfriend was well written. It felt so realistic, which is what ultimately won me over — because I could see these characters as actual people and actual situations.

Ultimately, This is Not the End by Chandler Baker isn’t about a cool sci-fi premise, or about some shadowy black market world. It’s about people, relationships, and how they all face their traumas and deal with the repercussions. Solid pacing, good use of the dual time framing technique, and incredibly human characters all make this a solid recommendation from me.

The Silver Thread by Emigh Cannaday

The Silver Thread by Emigh Cannaday

 The Silver Thread
by Emigh Cannaday

Talvi Marinossian has slain maenads and fought off vampire attacks, but nothing has prepared him for getting involved with one of these forbidden ‘Modern Girls’. When he finally tracks down Annika it’s obvious that she’s changed since her recent adventure in his homeland. It’s also clear that she’s not ready to embrace the next chapter in her life. He tries to persuade her to open up to him, but she finds it difficult since he won’t even explain how he earns a living, why he has a secret cell phone, or the reason he keeps another woman’s handkerchief in his pocket. Instead of relying on Talvi to help her adjust, Annika delves into her music and her job, and it isn’t long before the new lovers find themselves completely out of sync with one another. Just when they start to find their rhythm, Talvi is called away on business and whisks Annika off to Paris for what is supposed to be a working vacation. But one bad decision leads to another, and the chaos that ensues may cost someone their life.

Annika Brisby Series #2

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher: Silver Poplar Press
Publication: December 1, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, New Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Silver Thread by Emigh Cannaday

A year and a half ago, I was invited by the author to review the first book in the Annika Brisby series, (WHICH is still FREE on Kindle). I loved it and was lucky enough to get a copy of the second book in the series, The Silver Thread by Emigh Cannaday. It took me ages to finally get around to reading, but I decided to make it my first book of 2018 and BOY AM I HAPPY! I absolutely could not put it down and finished it within the day, absolutely devouring every word. It was just so utterly fantastic and everything I didn’t know I wanted.

When last we saw, Talvi and Annika were separated. Married after only a few months of knowing each other, Annika was thrust back to the modern world, unwillingly leaving Talvi behind. I was worried the majority of the book would be Talvi trying to find his way back, but surprisingly, he reaches Annika within the first ten percentish of the book. Then, things got so good. Cannaday just absolutely gave me everything I’ve ever wanted with these whirlwind romances: reality. Yes, Talvi and Annika love each other. But, they also came together suddenly, quickly, and in the midst of a dangerous quest. How do you continue a romance when it’s time to settle into the routine of romance and daily life? Especially when you know nothing about your partner’s tiny habits, such as how they take their tea or coffee. Seeing Talvi and Annika struggle to maintain their independence, while also keeping together this relationship was so realistic and just a joy to behold.

Apart from the relationship, the story itself was really interesting! Trying to find out what Talvi’s occupation is/was, what he was hiding from Annika, and then the ending!! That ending had me instantly running to amazon to buy and download the third book in the series. Seriously, if you’ve picked up the first book in the series and are the type of person (like myself) that wonders how these larger than life situations and romance can be maintained when things go “back to normal,” pick up The Silver Thread by Emigh Cannaday. Continues to be one of my favorite urban fantasy, new adult romances!

The Secrets We Keep by Deb Loughead

 The Secrets We Keep
by Deb Loughead

First she blamed herself. Now she doesn’t know who to trust.

When Kit disappeared at a party and was found drowned in the quarry the next day, Clem knew who to point the finger at: herself. She was the last person to see him alive, the last person who could have helped. If she had just kept a closer eye on him instead of her crush, Jake, maybe Kit would still be here. She knows she made a mistake, and wishes she could just forget about it — but Clem’s friend Ellie says she’ll expose Clem’s secret if she doesn’t play along with Ellie’s lies.

Jake seems to have his own difficult secrets, and when he and Clem start to talk, they make a plan to help themselves move on. But when an unexpected discovery at the quarry makes everyone question what they thought they knew, Clem and Jake decide it’s up to them to uncover the truth.

Rated: DNF
Publisher: Dundurn
Publication: December 10, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Secrets We Keep by Deb Loughead

I started The Secrets We Keep by Deb Loughead because I was just like yessss, murder mystery, young adult, possible romance, this is so great! I’m such a fan of mysteries and all that angst over characters thinking x person’s death is their fault when in reality something else entirely happened. So, I was super excited to get into this. And then, it all fell through when I actually read the words on the page.

This is a super short review because obviously I Did Not Finish-ed the book. Maybe the story itself is decent, but the writing, I could not get past it. It feels like the written equivalent of the Steve Buscemi’s gif where he is dressed like what he thinks teens wear saying How do you do, fellow kids?

The disconnect between the age the character is supposed to be, and the way it is written, the words used, is so severe and jarring, I just cannot keep going with it. It feels wrong. It feels as though the author is trying to write how she thinks teens talk and think, but at the same time, passing judgement on them?

If you can get past the writing, then I hope the story is an enjoyable one. It definitely seems like there’s something intriguing there, and hopefully my initial hunch that Ellie knows more than she’s saying is wrong, but for me, I’ll never find out. The Secrets We Keep by Deb Loughead is just a bust.

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

 Between the Blade and the Heart
by Amanda Hocking

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

Valkyrie #1

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication: January 2, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, YA
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

The synopsis had me hesitant on picking up Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking, worried that it would be just another love triangle ya cookie cutter novel. But! It was so much better than that! The world created by Hocking was interesting and unique, though I’m not entirely sure how accurate some of the mythological aspects were. Even still, it was a good story and I really loved the characters and world!

I was immediately skeptical of the book as soon as I opened up when I saw that Odin and the valkyries in this world were listed as Vanir, when they are actually part of the Aesir (well Valkyries were 50/50 but we’re not here to get that deep into it). I don’t understand why the change, since it seems so superficial, which then gets me wondering if it just wasn’t researched well enough? Or maybe the author thought Vanir, Aesir, all the same, eh? Which, it isn’t considering there was a war between the two. I am someone that has studied world mythologies, so it definitely got me started on the wrong foot. That said, I doubt other readers will notice the difference or care. But, I will say it did leave me wary for the rest of the beings mentioned and just how on point Hocking may have been with describing them/their purpose/origin.

Now that my one pet peeve is out of the way, the world was so interesting! I loved how there were mortals, immortals, hybrids, etc. just all mixed in together in this modern world. There was such a great combination of yeah, this world has all this magic and swords and fates in it, but there’s also bars and magical equivalent of hookah and school and vehicles. That your friendly, and handsome, mechanic could be mortal, but also have horns, was just such a super cool concept to me (please, can we see him again in the sequel??)

The story quest itself, and the theme of Free Will vs Fate was interesting, and I might have to re-read it to think it through a bit more because honestly, what really sold me on this book was the one thing I was worried would ruin it. The romance! What the synopsis failed to mention was that Malin’s ex was a lady and I died! I am SO IN LOVE with Quinn, I could not put the book down once I saw her. I just want all the things for her and just want Malin to talk with Quinn and sort herself out so they can be together. Like yeah, Asher’s great and all, but QUINN! My wlw heart was just so excited! It was also especially great to see that even with mentions of angels and demons, sexuality wasn’t taboo and to be LGBTIQA+ wasn’t a shock to the characters or presented as such to the reader.

I am so grateful to end my year on such a high note with Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking. A YA book with a unique world build, fantastic characters (with great use of romance), and just fun, this is something I definitely can recommend to readers who enjoy kick-ass female protagonists who can kick butt and fall in love and not have it be detrimental to either.

Devil's Call by J Danielle Dorn

Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn

 

Devil’s Call
by J Danielle Dorn

On a dark night in the summer of 1859, three men enter the home of Dr. Matthew Callahan and shoot him dead in front of his pregnant wife. Unbeknownst to them, Li Lian, his wife, hails from a long line of women gifted in ways that scare most folks―the witches of the MacPherson clan―and her need for vengeance is as vast and unforgiving as the Great Plains themselves.

Written to the child she carries, Devil’s Call traces Li Lian’s quest, from the Nebraska Territory, to Louisiana, to the frozen Badlands, to bring to justice the monster responsible for shooting her husband in the back. This long-rifled witch will stop at nothing​―​and risk everything​―​in her showdown with evil.

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher:  Inkshares
Publication: August 8, 2017
Genre: Western, Paranormal
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn

HOLY CANNOLI! Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn was amazing from the very first second I picked it up! I knew, from the very first few pages I would love this book, and my hunch was right. It was so much more than I thought it would be. Though it is marked as a horror novel, to me, it fits more as a Western/paranormal. I went into it expecting horror, expecting gore and scares and instead, got the saddest sads I’ve ever sadded. Pacing was fantastic, the writing spectacular, and the story itself remarkable touching and solid.

Now, I know I said it was Western Paranormal, and I don’t want folks that don’t usually lean towards fantasy type novels, or westerns, to be turned away. The paranormal aspect of this story is minimal compared to the actual beauty of the story. Yes, the protagonist is a witch, but what lies at the crux of this story is a sweeping tale of vengeance and love. Li Lian weaves a tale of regret and sadness so palpable, I had to stop myself from weeping. Written as a journal from Li Lian to her child, we understand from the start this will not end well or happy. Yet, I never really understood how sad and dark it could get. It’s the good kind of sad, the kind that makes you feel as though you’ve learned how to better live because of experiencing it.

The novel moved at a steady pace, neither going too quickly to grasp the action, nor too slowly to grow bored. Every single detail given was chosen for maximum impact and given at the exact right time. What was truly remarkable was how perfect the setting is for this tale. The landscape often reflecting the narrative of the story and the turmoil Li Lian experienced. From cities with a gravitas to ground the characters, to the wild plains of the newly charted western United States that mirror Li Lian’s growing recklessness? though that isn’t the right word, it fits well enough, Dorn uses the setting almost as an extra, ever present character that does more than set the mood. It sets the story.

Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. The high quality writing and construction never falters. I was left with such sadness, but with also the tiniest bit of hope, which might seem like folly considering how everything came about. Yet, I hope there’s room for a follow-up novel, which I will greedily and hungrily pick up! A definite must read!

Enchanting Yuletide Q&A

Enchanting Yuletide: Questions and Answers

Although Hanukkah is over, and tonight marks the Winter Solstice, we still have Christmas and Kwanzaa to look forward to! Plenty of time to get in the holiday spirit by picking up the Enchanting Yuletide anthology featuring six lovely authors!

Questions&Answers

Barbara Lieberman
Barbara Lieberman is the author of fictional works including The Treasure of Ravenwood: A Fairy Tale, To Miss the Stars, The McEwen Series (including Message on the Wind and To Reap a Whirlwind), Ben’s Little Acorn, Why Does the Moon Follow Me? and Love in the Middle. She is also a contributing author in three anthologies: A Horde of Dragons, The Playlist, and Enchanting Yuletide. In addition, Barbara has offered her own experiences and advice in the non-fiction work The Unchained Spirit and the life guide based upon that book, Unchaining Your Spirit. Barbara is also a partner in Pipe and Thimble Bookstore and Publishing Company, with her daughter and partner Ellie Lieberman (an author in her own right, as well as being a talented artist/illustrator). Barb is also an avid artisan, often needle felting, painting, and gardening!

Q: “Winter is a time for telling stories to see us through the longest darkest nights of the year” This is such an amazing and brilliant line! Why do you think it is that stories with a bit more depth seem to be better suited for winter? A remnant of times where electronics weren’t available for entertainment in the early evenings? The coziness of having everyone at home and bundled together?
A: I do think that we have some ancestral memory of telling tales to entertain and educate through the dark, long winter nights. Oral storytelling is a winter tradition in many indigenous cultures, and one I think we all still connect with. Books, movies, videos… these are all storytelling as well, because we never stop longing for those connections. And, yes, there is an inherent coziness to winter storytelling, like it sweetens the night and warms you on the inside the way a cup of hot chocolate does.

Q: The theme of your story is the importance of love – between family and friends. Is this what you consider to be at the crux of holidays in general — the love bringing friends and family together rather than the specific religious rituals holidays can entail?
A: For me, yes, it is the gathering of loved ones, whether blood kin or heart kin. It is in the traditions (again, shared through storytelling) that we share and new ones we create. That love and those traditions are anchors that hold us safe through the rest of the year.

Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: My favorite tradition is made up of several… the setting up of the tree and the placement of that first precious star ornament that was on the trees my family had when I was growing up. The telling of each story associated with each subsequent ornament placed. New ornaments given each year. The sharing of those stories with new people in our lives. And, then, new pajamas when we hang our stockings on Christmas Eve. My parents live on in such moments, are there with us, as are distant friends and family. Even if there are just two of us there, the room is filled with the love of all we know.

Ellie Lieberman

Ellie Lieberman
A New Jersey transplant, Ellie Lieberman lives now in sunny Southern California. She works with the fairies on her handmade business, Acorn Tops, when not writing. An avid reader with a bedroom that looks like a mini library, Ellie is a lover of all things purple, basset hound, squirrel, and milk chocolate, with a slight fried rice obsession.
She is the author of two YA books, Society’s Foundlings and Solving for X, short stories in three anthologies, a children’s book, and the illustrator of a number of other children’s books, as well as being co-proprietor with her mother, who is an amazing author as well, of Pipe & Thimble, an indie-only bookstore.

Q: This was so wonderfully written and just completely heart wrenching! You perfectly encapsulated the disconnect between knowing with your head and knowing with your heart. Do you find it is possible to maintain a sense of wonder and innocence alongside a critical or rational mind?
A: Thank you so much. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I want to say yes, it is possible to maintain a sense of wonder and innocence alongside a rational mind. I think that’s part of the beauty of being a writer or story teller. You reveal truth in a way that can seem like magic. Outside of the pen and paper, I think it’s difficult to achieve both keeping your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds, but balance is important. I think it, ultimately, goes back to the idea of root and wings. Stories, like those told through the ornaments offer a foundation, while the way it’s told allows for the magic of the moment to sweep you into the story itself.

Q: “Never underestimate the magic of a memory. A life full of great memories is a rich one. Even those that hurt so deeply have something worth remembering.” This is an incredible notion so heavy with meaning. It seems the older we get, the more our memories are tinged with loss as well as joy, and it is never felt stronger than during the holidays. Was this story written not just as a reminder to keep the wonder in your life as you grow older, but also as a way to reach out to those that do experience loss during the Winter Holiday season? That it is hard, but okay?
A: That’s really good! I like that! John Green always said books were a collaboration between authors and readers. This is where the reader takes over. I wish I could say it was my intention, but it was more about life in general for me while I was writing it, then specifically memories when we’re older or loss during the holidays.I am fortunate to be surrounded by three women, in particular, who along with a number of other strengths tend to find the light in the darkest moments.
When my mother talks about being in a wheel chair for eight years, one of the things she always mentions is how it brought us closer to our grandparents, how they were in our lives everyday because of it. My grandfather grew up with a father who was an alcoholic. His response was to be a better father to his own kids than his father ever was to him. There are lessons to be learned in every aspect of life.
And, there is also an aspect of loss, as you pointed out. I lost my grandparents when I was six. There are moments it still hurts to think they are not here. But, I’d rather have the hurt of feeling that loss, then chose to try to forget the happiness we shared and why that loss hurts the way it does.

Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: The holidays are so steeped in tradition for me, it is difficult to chose just one. I suppose after reading the story, it would come as no surprise that ornaments are probably one of my favorites. When each grandchild was born, my Pop-Pop gave my grandmother a “Baby’s First” ornament. Every year after, we received at least one ornament that had something to do with who we are, an achievement, an interest, a place we visited, etc. As my grandparents passed away, we inherited some of their ornaments, too. What we have now, is a tree very full of memories. As we decorate the tree up, we tell the stories behind each one. And, as our family grows, we include others in this tradition, as well.
My grandmom’s gold and red sparkly star, however, is always the first one on the tree and always front and center.

Raven Williams
A prolific writer, Raven began her career in 2010, first with a blog, next with non-fiction, then finally moving to fiction in 2014, when she began Elven-Jumper, the first book in the Realm Jumper Chronicles. Now, she has twelve stories published in that epic fantasy series with more planned, as well as two stories in a new series, Raven’s Twisted Classics, and a
standalone paranormal story, Witch Hunters’ Society.
When Raven is not writing, she is creating art in the form of jewelry pieces that tie into her stories, fractal designs, and abstract paintings. She is also a caregiver for a disabled family
member and two cats. She physically resides in the Northwest Florida Panhandle, but spends most of her time mentally in the Mystic Realms. Will you join her?

Q: Where did the inspiration for Raven’s Gate and Elven Brothers come from? (I’m presuming that this short might be an excerpt or prelude to one)
A: My first epic fantasy series is Realm Jumper Chronicles. In the process of writing that series, I found shorter stories popping up. Solstice Magic, my contribution to Enchanting Yuletide is one of those stories, telling the origins of the Ancient Witch Line I allude to in the Realm Jumper Chronicles novels as well as the subsequent dark paranormal story, Witch Hunters’ Society.
Raven’s Gate will eventually be a follow-up to Solstice Magic, following the first coven of witches as they continue their journey into magic. Events in both Solstice Magic and Raven’s Gate will tie into the Elven Brothers stories which follow Elwyndon and Elwyndyn, characters introduced in the Realm Jumper Chronicles, as they and the other Elves come to Earth from their home realm and spend quite a few years on Earth, before returning to their home realm of Paer-Jhysael.
As to when the Elven Brothers and Raven’s Gate stories will be written and released, I don’t know yet, as I’m currently hard at work on a new paranormal series, Demon Stones Saga, which follows the descendants of the Ancient Witch Line on another epic adventure.

Q: In your story, the religious rituals take on a greater sense of importance. Are holidays a time where one should make the concerted effort into observing traditions (be they religious or otherwise) they would otherwise be lax about in their daily lives?
A: In my fantasy stories, the Elves are quite consistent in observing the cycles of nature. They do this with simple rituals at various points in the year. For them, to not observe these sacred times is unheard of. When Valael took on the task of teaching the humans with magical abilities, she strove to ensure the humans also honor nature through these particular rituals.
However, as time goes on and the Elves return to their home world, the humans revamp the rituals and observances given to them by Valael, making them their own. Some continue to adhere to their spiritual practices diligently, while others become lax, and still others turn their back on the original teachings all together and embrace something much darker. The details of this will be shared in future stories.

Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: I love holiday lights. I love the twinkling colors. Even at times when I can’t or don’t decorate a tree, I will still put up lights. In fact, whenever possible, I’ll leave them up year-round. I also love evergreen-scented candles. There’s something about the scent of evergreen that really drives home the season. For me, it’s not Yule without evergreen scents.

Enchanting Yuletide Q&A

Enchanting Yuletide: Questions and Answers

After reading the Enchanting Yuletide anthology, I absolutely needed to get in contact with the authors to know more about their wonderful stories. Luckily enough, I was able to get a hold of them and ask them a few questions! Enjoy a deeper look into these first THREE of these fantastic winter/holiday tales and authors, and be sure to check back tomorrow to read more!

Questions&Answers

Jena BaxterJena Baxter
A prolific writer, Jena Baxter creates characters with depth and stories filled with action, emotion, and a little bit of romance. She loves building fantastical worlds and cultures.
Living in Northern California with her husband, Jena enjoys soapmaking, her pets, and writer’s conferences. She also reads for a screenwriting contest on an annual basis.

Q – Where did the idea of making Father Time, Santa Claus, and Death siblings come from?
A – I’ve always wanted to write a story about Father Time. I used to collect Father Christmas statues, and always thought Father Time and the old Father Christmas images could almost be the same person. Brothers seemed like a good answer to that. Since the Grimm Reaper is also an immortal sort of existence, he fit better into the equation that I initially thought.
Q – The choice to have Time and Death as rivals of a sort is interesting. Why set up that rivalry (in Time’s mind at least)? Was it from a feeling of Death cheats people out time kind of situation?
A – I try to incorporate emotion into my stories. I might write numerous times to create a period or moment of sadness. But, I feel like humor, laughter, and happiness, are also an important part of our emotional make-up. So, I was contemplating where that could fit that into a story where the plot was based on tragedy. Since Death was part of the equation, having the Grimm Reaper would add an interesting mix. I wasn’t sure how that would play out at first, but as I started writing, the two characters were getting more and more snippety with each other. As it escalated I thought it was perfect.
Father Time does his job and takes it seriously, but he thinks Grimm is a lazy loser who has everyone else doing his job for him. This craused the resentment that created the clash between them.
Q – Family togetherness played a big part in your short, is that something you tend to hold dear during the winter holiday season?
A – My best Christmas’ were years ago when the whole family gathered. We were by no means a functional group, but once a year we managed to let bygones be bygones. I miss that. I’ve often said that no matter what someone believes, the holidays are good, because they bring families together if even for a short time.
Q – What is your favorite Winter Holiday tradition?
A – Every year my husband and I connect with friends. We stop at Starbucks for coffee or cocoa, and spend the evening hunting for the best Christmas lights and displays.
Thank you so much for reading our stories.

CK Brewer

CK Brewer
C. K. Brewer is a native Montanan living in Washington State with her husband and three profoundly gifted children – who also are extremely advanced readers. She noted when her eldest was entering third grade a full year younger than the rest of herclassmates, that the stories her daughter could comprehend easily were whollyunacceptable in terms of content. By the time her third child began displaying the same capability with his reading, C. K. was frustrated by the lack of entertaining books with acceptable content for advanced readers.
Taking matters into her own hands, C. K., with the help of her three children, began writing a fantasy series that is set in a world based on the map her eldest drew and filled with creatures imagined by her two sons. As it has been a labor of love, it has been a long process in which C. K. hopes to see come to fruition in March of 2018 with the publication of the first book of the Royal Velanian Series, DragonStar. C. K. has, at this time one novella which is a history of Velania story that is included in the Enchanting Yuletide Anthology.

Q: The world you created in Deep Winter Fire seemed like there was much more to it than we were able to read. Is this something written specifically for the anthology, or do you have plans to possibly expand on it/the world in the future?
A: The world, Velania, was created by my eldest child and myself for a series of books that I began writing years ago when she was still in middle school (she graduates from
high school in the spring of 2018). I began writing the series in response to the lack of reading material for the young advanced readers as I have three children who read an average of 3 – 4 grade levels higher than their actual grade in school and the content is utterly unacceptable for many children who read like mine do.
Deep Winter Fire is actually a history story of Velania that is touched on in DragonStar, the first of the series. This series picks up many generations after Deep Winter Fire takes place. I have plans to publish DragonStar around the end of March 2018 and will eventually write the rest of the series as well as all of the short history stories like Deep Winter Fire.
Q: The future belonging to a group of 4 human siblings is reminiscent of the Narnian Kings and Queens. Was there any inspiration there or simply coincidence? Do you feel that humans would be the natural evolutionary choice for magic/society in a fantasy world?
A: A small spoiler: The future of Velania is sadly narrowed to three human siblings. Among the history shorts that are planned, there will be the telling of the female sibling passing into the Etherworld before seeing the end of her first year. This event will shape the way Velania is ruled and how the Magic weaves itself into a new path.
It is only by coincidence that Deep Winter Fire has Narian similarities. But I’m sure in some way in the back of my mind, all of the Velanian stories are inspired by the high fantasy that I have loved since my own childhood such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Dragonlance Saga, and so many others.
As to a natural evolutionary choice… in my world of Velania, yes. I think perhaps, subconsciously, most authors naturally revert to humans as the future of their fantasy
worlds in hope that humans will figure out how to work together and save the real life world they live in.
Q: Do you have a favorite Winter Holiday tradition? If so, could you share it with us?
A: Winter time, historically, is a difficult time for me personally so I tend to avoid most holiday trappings. If I had to put a specific tradition into a spotlight, I’d have to say the
“Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” that we enjoy on Thanksgiving Day. We, as a family, watch the Macy’s parade then spend the bulk of the remainder of the day binging on Holiday movies (both animated and action packed – Son-in- Law is, in our family, a Thanksgiving movie and Die Hard is a Christmas movie) and eating snack foods similar to those in the Charles Schultz Thanksgiving cartoon. It’s usually a day of snuggling and giggles so that is always a good day for me.

Guy DonovanGuy Donovan
In the 1990s and 2000s, I worked in both television and feature films as an animator and storyboard artist/designer for Marvel Films, Hanna-Barbera, Sony
Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, and Warner Bros Feature Animation, among others.

Now I work a government job in North Dakota in return for a steady paycheck and job security, allowing me to continue my wasteful habits of eating and providing
for my family.
Creatively starved by my job, I turned to writing at the advice of my wife, a fellow Hollywood expatriate who writes both screenplays and novels. That led to my
current obsession with 5th century Wales, which is the setting of my Dragon’s Treasure Series. The first three novels, The Forgotten Princess of Môna, A Cold, White
Home, and Songs of Autumn are currently available as e-books for the Kindle. The final installment, Memories so Distant and Brief, will follow in winter of 2018.

Q: How does Santa deal with boredom and the monotony of basically doing the same thing for hundreds of years? Is it the cider?
A: The cider certainly helps! Otherwise, I guess like so many senior citizens, Kringle finds a certain amount of comfort in repetition. I mean let’s face it, none of his
old school chums are still above ground, and I can only assume that he and Jessie are, umm…beyond a more youthful intimacy at their ages, so with travel being a
given for at least one night a year, what’s left? Honestly, I sort of envisioned Tempest Fugit’s Santa as a milder version of Clint Eastwood’s character from Gran
Torino—only without the M1 Garand and with a sleigh instead of a car. In fact, now I think of it, the elves could even be sort of Hmong-ish. Oh-kaaay…I’ll quit with
the analogy there before I get myself into trouble.

Q: While Stuckey is more open to new things, particularly tech, Santa seems resistant to it. How would you upgrade his schtick?
A: Well for one thing, those ridiculous fur accents have to go! He is a saint, right? Given his usual riding position in relation to those eight reindeer of his, it only
makes sense that he would at least make a token effort to appear interested in animal rights. The consequences of seeming even a little cavalier could get—messy. So
basically, I’m thinking that going with some nice faux fur accents on a big, red, Gore-Tex suit would be a great start. Beyond that, the sleigh is a classic, so that
definitely stays, but perhaps some ground effect lighting underneath it would add a modern touch. Plus, it might help with fog in the post-Rudolph era.

Q: What is your favorite Holiday tradition?
A: Easy, watching old Christmas specials with my wife and daughter while stuffing ourselves silly with pumpkin pie and eggnog. The simple pleasures are really the
best.

Come on back tomorrow as I interview Barbara Lieberman, Ellie Lieberman, and Raven Williams on their delightful holiday stories in Enchanting Yuletide!