The Moonfire Bride

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I recently finished reading this book and I loved it, though I kind of wish I would have waited to start it since the second book won’t be out for another month. According to the description, this is inspired by the myths Eros and Psyche, and Hades and Persephone. Eros and Psyche was an especially strong element in here, and knowing the myth made it all that much worse for me when I knew the main character would make the wrong choices.

I especially loved how Sylvia Mercedes wrote her characters. The nonverbal communication was a rare treat. I’m anxious to read the next book when it comes out on April 20th because the ending was far from resolved.

You can buy or read it for free in KU by following this link.

Air Awakens

If you’ve been one of my newsletter subscribers for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention Elise Kova and her books and/or writing advice before. So I figured it was time to finally say something about her here.

I first discovered Elise Kova when she only had the first two books of the Air Awakens series available. I bought the first two books at a book conference on a whim and they sat in my library unread for a few months, which ended up being a good thing. By the time I started reading, Earth’s End just came out. Once I started reading, I needed to continue because they are just that good.

The Air Awakens series can be bought or borrowed through KU here.

Now, she has 3 complete series within this world and 1 new series that is still in progress. Each series should not be read out of order, but you can start reading any of the series without having read the others. I’ll list them all in the order I read them.

Unless my memory is way off, the Golden Guard Trilogy consisted of books that were significantly shorter than the other series books within this world. But they were just as fun to read. These books follow side characters that I grew to love from the Air Awakens books. You can buy or borrow them in KU here.

Vortex Chronicles takes what I learned in the Air Awakens series and flips things upside down as the world opens up to something much bigger. This set of books follows Vhalla’s daughter and I think they may have been even more addictive than the Air Awakens books. Without giving away some significant spoilers, I don’t know what else to say about it other than it is certainly binge-worthy. You can buy or borrow these books in Kindle Unlimited here.

A Trial of Sorcerers is the most recent release and it’s currently the only book available in this new series. It takes place after the conclusion of Vortex Chronicles and it’s just as immersive to read. I’m anxious for the rest of the books to be released. If you want to buy or read it for free in KU, you can find it here.

The Riven Kingdoms

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This fun series is what I’ve been bingeing over the last week. The story has plenty of fun twists that kept me guessing. I loved reading it and I think you might too. You can buy it on Amazon or read it for free in Kindle Unlimited by following this link.

Here’s the official description for book 1:

From the author of The Silver & Orchids Series comes a breathtaking tale of two kingdoms torn apart by magic and the star-crossed lovers who set upon a perilous journey to reunite them before they fall into ruin. 

Enter the world of The Riven Kingdoms.

After the sudden death of her brother, Princess Amalia is charged with what feels like an impossible task—she must choose the next king. Youthful thoughts of love are pushed aside as she accepts her fate, setting upon a quest throughout the kingdom to find a man worthy of her father’s throne. 

Little does Amalia know, someone has already set his sights on her. 

Rhys is a man of secrets, and his mission is simple: befriend the princess of Renove. Coax her to trust him, convince her to follow him. 

Betray her when it’s time. 

All goes according to plan until Rhys meets the princess. Amalia is a disaster. Never has he met someone so drawn to trouble. Never has he met someone so irritatingly likable. 

He’s not allowed to fall for her. 

She could never entrust him with a crown. 

But, unbeknownst to them, their unlikely partnership might be the key to saving their entire world from a darkness that’s slowly creeping from the wounded earth that separates one kingdom from the next. 

Homemade Yogurt

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One of the non-writing-related things I do regularly is make yogurt. I wasn’t 100% sold on homemade yogurt when I started a couple of years ago, but now, I don’t know how I ever lived without it.

Although the overall time takes about a day, the hands-on time isn’t too bad. Back when I started, I bought a Bulgarian yogurt starter from Cultures for Health. There are other options and they have resources to help you choose, but the most important thing if you want to continue to make yogurt without spending a fortune is to make sure the culture you buy is an heirloom culture so you can continuously reculture it.

Their cultures come with directions, so I’ll only abbreviate them here. Since it’s important to keep unwanted microbes out, I wash my hands frequently during the process. I heat 2 quarts of milk to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. In between stirring. Then I let it cool to 110 degrees, stirring a bit more frequently. If I don’t stir often enough, a film develops over the top. This can be removed without hurting anything, but it’s annoying and it makes the cooling time take longer. Between heating and cooling, this usually takes roughly 1 hour, but it varies a bit.

After the milk has cooled, I pour it into my Instant Pot for culturing. An Instant Pot isn’t necessary, but I find it convenient. And technically, you can heat the milk in the Instant Pot too, but I prefer to use a separate pot instead. I don’t remember the exact range for the culture time, but I think it was 5-12 hours. I set my Instant Pot for 6 hours, using the glass lid and I can forget about it until the time is up.

Shorter culture times will result in a milder flavor and longer ones will give you a stronger flavor. With 2 picky kids, we’re better off with the mild flavor. After it’s finished culturing, I remove 5 tablespoons of the yogurt and store it in a small container for the next batch. If I remember correctly, the instructions said 2-3 tablespoons per quart.

At this point, the yogurt is finished unless you prefer a thicker yogurt like I do. I’ve always liked the greek style yogurt, so at this stage, I strain the yogurt in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. It took me a while to figure out what I liked using for straining it and this process has worked best for me. I think the wire bowl is called a sieve, but I’m not certain. The top layer is industrial-sized coffee filters. I bought this over a year ago and I haven’t used even half of the package yet.

Straining leaves about 1 quart of a thick yogurt and 1 quart of whey.

The culture needs to be fed, making new yogurt, about weekly. But we usually run out before the week is up. If you are interested, but haven’t tried yet, I’d recommend you do so.

Dragon School

This is another book series that I’ve read and loved. It’s a completed series of quick, fast-paced stories, available for purchase or to read in KU. There are three different series within the world and they really should be read in order if you don’t want to be lost. Dragon school follows Amel through a series of world-changing challenges. You can check the series out here.

Dragon Chameleon takes place right after the final book in Dragon School ends. This one follows Tor who is more of an anti hero type as he faces his own challenges and the world opens up to reveal new areas and new dangers. You can check out his story here.

This final series in the world follows Seleska after Tor’s series ends. Unlike the other two main characters who get to ride the dragon they bond with, Seleska has a baby dragon to protect as they face their challenges in another part of the world. You can find these books here.

If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited, you can try it free and binge these series. Here’s the link for a free trial.

Harry Potter

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I wanted to post something today, but since I’m still in the middle of reading a book series, I figured I’d post something I’ve read before. I’m sure most people have at least heard of Harry Potter, even if they haven’t read it. At this point, I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read this series.

Although the books are best read in order, a reader can at least understand what is happening if they start somewhere else. The first book I read was actually the second book in the series and it was something I was reluctant to read at the time. I remember my little brother asking me to read it to him and I rolled my eyes and made a big fuss about how lame I thought the title sounded. But I read it anyways and I got hooked on the series. I quickly ended up buying the only other two books available at the time and I anxiously waited for the rest to come out.

Anyway, I found this set for sale on Amazon and it’s cheaper than buying each book individually. I was also surprised to find Harry Potter available in Kindle Unlimited. If you’re interested in buying the entire series, I would suggest going to this link. But if you’re interested in reading it in KU, I would go to the series page here.

If you want to get a free trial of Kindle Unlimited, follow this link.

February/Early March Roundup

Here are the posts about books I’ve read recently that I would recommend.

Tales from the Kingdoms of Fable

The Kingdom Chronicles

Enchanting the Elven Mage

This next post contains book promotions you may want to check out for March.

March Book promotions

And these two are ones that aren’t exactly book related, but some of you may be interested in checking out.

Personal update

Homemade chapstick

I’ve made some updates to my author resource page for anyone that wants to check it out.

I’ve also started a page for my Works in Progress that I will try to keep current.

Tales from the Kingdoms of Fable

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This series is one I discovered recently. I’ve only read the first book so far, but I absolutely adored it. The Scarred Prince is predominately a combination of Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood, but there were so many fairytale connections, both in the backstories and in what I assume are links to the other books, that I was definitely geeking out over every discovery.

The Golden Ball is currently in my KU library and I intend to start reading it later today. If you have Kindle Unlimited, then you can try them out risk-free. Here’s the series link.

Personal update

You may have noticed that, despite my decision to become more active on the website, I had a lot of inactivity throughout most of February. I feel like anything I can say to you or myself is just an excuse, but then again, I’ve always been pretty self-critical.

In all honesty, my routine started falling apart around the time that Covid hit and it went completely downhill around the time of moving back to my hometown. I’ve been struggling to find the right way to implement a routine with my current circumstances.

Rationally, I know that my best writing time is soon after getting up in the morning, which working around other schedules means that this must be early morning. But despite the logic that this is the only time I can consistently fit any significant time blocks in, I struggle. Between not liking to get up early and the cold, I am not always productive during my ideal time.

Considering the circumstances, I’ve been trying to be more forgiving of myself and I’ve taken several self care days when I need to. But I know I need to get back into a routine one way or another since writing is part of what makes me feel like myself.

So, I’ve made a bit of an indulgent purchase with my tax return in the form of an iPad that should arrive in a couple weeks. I figure that with the tablet, I can still use Scrivener in the morning without being in my icebox of an office, which will take away half of my reasons for avoiding getting up early. The rest will have to happen on willpower. It will also make it easier to write when I’m away from home.

One other thing I’m trying to make sure I can write more is that I’m having a productivity competition with my 10-year-old. He’s my homeschooled child and he has also been struggling to do what needs to be done since Covid. So the plan is that we’ll hold each other accountable and whoever accomplishes more of their goals each month wins. Hopefully, this helps.

On another note, I’ve recently set up a page for the website that will display my current progress in each of my WIPs. I intend to be better about sticking with one at a time (at least for a given stage), but the last few months, I’ve certainly been bouncing around between multiple projects-more than I realized, now that I’ve finished this page. If you’re interested, you can find my progress here.