Review: The Witch And The Wolf

book review, Fiction

Title: The Witch And The Wolf
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, a novella
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Mother will find me…

Beneath the moonlight, Cara gathers poisons for the mother she cannot escape from,
but what if there was more to life than the darkness she was raised in?

Love is never for witches like Cara, and soon she must decide what her freedom is worth and what she is willing to sacrifice. 

After all, what are hearts for, if not for keeping behind glass?
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

After reading Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods, Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still, and Far Beneath The Wicked Woods, this one didn’t disappoint.

I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Novellas are tricky. The truly good ones are often lamented simply because they aren’t longer. Now that means I’ve read everything that’s available for this series. And that’s a sad reality for me. 

I do hope Russell will expand upon this series, but if not, I’m happy to have experienced it. 

But back to the book. We follow Cara and her interactions with an unnamed boy (read: young adult male faerie). Turns out this book takes place quite a while before the main series. Russell never explicitly says in the book that Lathaniel is the toddler with a woman Cara helped while giving birth, but the violet eyes and Cara’s home with her mother give it away. 

Being a daughter of one of Faerie’s most notorious witches isn’t easy. Cara lives in constant fear of her mother and for good reason. Having a fence around your house made of bones and harpsichords made out of entrails is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The book ends rather abruptly, but it wasn’t without merit. There was a buildup and the constant worries and passage of time only made the ending inevitable. 

I do like how it ended. It wasn’t a perfect ending, but it was a chance at a future. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Far Beneath The Wicked Woods

book review, Fiction

Title: Far Beneath The Wicked Woods
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, book 3
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

I will come for you…

The last Mortal Queen of Seelie, Teya Jenkins holds a tentative grip on the faeries that bow before her. But the throne beside her remains empty, her husband still a prisoner of the unforgiving Unseelie Court. Almost two midwinters have passed, and if she does not find away to rescue him from Phabian’s clutches, there may not be anything left to save.

I will fight for you…

Deep within the Labyrinth of the Unseelie, Laphaniel fights to keep his sanity as the darkness and shadows close around him. Yet things are stirring amongst the dark, and Laphaniel finds his fate tangled up with the one he loathes above all others.

I will bring you home.

The shadows bow to Niven’s whims, the Court of Unseelie bows too. While her king slips further into madness, Niven revels in the power she holds over her court. But, as the blood runs over the black walls of the Unseelie, can Niven keep the crown upon her head?

Love and death and chaos. Let the world burn.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

Picking up after the events of Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods, and Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still, this one is full of heavy prices to pay.

Goodness me! This book did not disappoint. In fact, I found myself itching to read it at my every opportunity, even if it was only a paragraph at a time. 

In order to keep this review spoiler free, I can’t divulge many details, but what I can say is that I love how strong and determined Teya and Lathaniel are in their journey. They each make sacrifices and try to make the best of a seemingly hopeless situation. That’s admirable. 

The redemption arc for Niven was a welcome change. It was good to see that she wasn’t devoid of all emotion. 

And the climax. Holy hells was that intense. The stakes just kept piling higher and higher and I thought for sure BAD things were coming. Worse than things already were. 

I was so pleased with how this book ended. It was all wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket and I’ll be happy to come back to relive the story again and again. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Fantasy Indies February

Earthen Witch, Fiction, Photography, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

On Twitter, I took part in my first-ever fiction prompt during the month of January. I’m doing it again for the month of February. Once again, it’s hosted by L. V. Russell of @fey_girl63 and Chesney Infalt. Feel free to join in.


Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still

book review, Fiction

Title: Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, book 2
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

With an ancient curse now broken, Teya Jenkins, the last Mortal Queen of Seelie, is forced to flee the cruel lands of Faerie and return home.

But the human world offers little kindness to her, or to the faerie who stole her heart. 
Help is offered by those who dwell in the shadows, but nothing in Faerie is without a price. 

With a new King upon the Unseelie throne, and a would-be Queen at her back, Teya must decide which path to take and who to trust or risk losing everything. 

Oh, the woods are dark and wicked.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

Picking up after the events of Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods, Teya and Lathaniel are on the run, trying to find a way to confront the cruel and murderous faerie, Luthien. 

In order to survive, they’re forced to make an alliance that could just as easily signal their deaths. With every new turn, they face unknown threats and are forced to make impossible decisions, but they do have one constant between them — each other.

This was a tumultuous book full of twists and turns and I loved every minute of it. The cliffhanger at the end hit me hard, and yet, at the same time, it felt inevitable — which is a testament to L. V. Russell’s storytelling abilities.

I can’t wait to finish Far Beneath The Wicked Woods to find out what happens next.


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods

book review, Fiction

Title: Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, book 1
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

The woods are dark and wicked,
and perhaps some things would be better off staying lost…

Teya Jenkins is ten years old when her sister is taken. Niven is never found, because no one knows where to look.

No one but Teya that is, who heard the whispers of the trees and saw the beautiful creatures that dwelled in the shadows.

It is only after another tragedy, years later, that Teya finally dares to enter the forest that haunts her dreams, determined to bring home her sister and mend the fractured remains of her family.

Beneath the whispering oaks, she meets Laphaniel, an outcast from the Seelie Court, who tempts her away with veiled promises of the thing she’s always longed for…to belong somewhere.

But Laphaniel has secrets of his own, and Teya soon finds herself fighting not only for her life, and for her sister, but also for her heart. 

A sensual, dark faerie tale, full of delicious romance and delightful gothic imagery.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

I’ve never been one to judge a book by its cover, but when I saw this book, I stopped. The cover isn’t just beautiful, but the title is quite striking as well.

Upon reading the synopsis, I was ready to buy the ebook and dive in to those wicked woods. And it did not disappoint. 

I’ve never minded whether a book has first- or third-person perspective, but I’ve always found that the immersion into a story is that much deeper in first. To my surprise and delight, this gem of a book was a portal into a new life. 

Becoming Teya Jenkins took a matter of minutes. She’s a firecracker, but stuck in a life she can no longer stand. Using this as her fuel to overcome her fear if the woods she enters a new realm full of dangerous, beautiful things. Only a strike of luck saves her life, and thrusts her into Laphaniel’s life, the outcast from Seelie court, striking a series of events that would change them both. 

It was amazing, learning about the various creatures that lived in Faerie and all the magic that was infused into the world through Teya’s eyes. The world-building was pristine, and the action kept coming as she and Lephaniel begin to rely on one another. By the time I reached The End, I needed to know more. 

Teya was a strong, yet flawed heroine, and she challenged Lephaniel at every turn, just as he challenged her. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about a new, captivating world and getting to know multi-faceted, complex characters. And I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.

UPDATE: Reviews for Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still; Far Beneath The Wicked Woods; and The Witch And The Wolf are now available.


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Fantasy Indies January

Earthen Witch, Fiction, Photography, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

On Twitter, I’ve been taking part in my first-ever fiction prompt during the month of January. I’m loving it so far. Of course, I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t sharing the responses here, so I must remedy this problem.


But first, the prompts.


Rather than starting at day one and just being several days behind, I’m going to do a week one wrap-up. And then start tomorrow with daily posts. 

Day 1: Introduce yourself & WIP

I’ve always craved the escape books could offer me. That’s why I started writing adult urban fantasy romance.

I’m currently editing the 6th novel of my Earthen Witch series. It involves finding happiness and redemption, despite the darkness of the past.

Day 2: Goals for this year

My goals for this year:
– plot, draft, & edit new MS
– finish editing & publish 2 WIPs
– help friends with their book covers
– help friends with their editing
– read more indie authors 
– write and share reviews

Day 3: First line in WIP

Everything around me was shrouded in darkness, but somehow, I recognized what was happening. It wasn’t the first time and I knew it wouldn’t be my last. —from Stronger Than Blood, coming February 20.

Morbid fascination held me in its grip as I watched the melee in front of me. They were moving faster than my human eyes could follow, but I could see enough. —from Enduring The Flames, coming in August.

Day 4: Favorite writing quote

Everything you can imagine is real. —Pablo Picasso. 

Day 5: One project at a time or multiple?

With my own work, I only do one project at a time. Since it’s an ongoing series, I don’t want to mess up timelines. If I’m helping others with their projects (like book covers or editing) I can do more than one at a time. 

Day 6: Dangers/obstacles in WIP

Danger? Everywhere. The biggest being an antagonist trying to start a war over an old grudge, not caring who dies along the way. 

That, and the redemption arc in Enduring The Flames.

Day 7: Feature Friday

The first Friday feature feature has to be L. V. Russell — @fey_girl63 on Twitter. I finished Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods a few days ago and LOVED it, along with the rest of the series. Click on the covers below to read the reviews.


There you have it. From here, I’ll share these little prompts daily.

Until next time,
Sarah

I read somewhere that Sarah sees her writing poetry as a moment, whereas her writing fiction as a lifetime, and when I read this, it made total sense to me because I’ve read Sarah’s poetry for years and it is a moment, a strong powerful smack in the gut moment, but definitely a moment, whereas when I read her fiction, I can see the entire universe is being considered and she is methodical, paced and thorough in her plotting and building of characters.

Just Breathe delivered for me. I was surprised. Sarah knows her art, and she drew me into her world almost immediately.

I’m very familiar with Sarah’s poetry and have always appreciated her blunt and honest way of telling it like it is, that’s why it was a surprise to find out she is equally conversant and gifted with longer art forms. This isn’t just a hobby for her, you can tell she takes her writing very seriously and spends a lot of time ensuring she gets it right.


It doesn’t matter if a character
is a witch or a vampire
and whether those things exist
in our world or do not,
it matters that we believe
as we read that they are real.
That way we become
invested in them.


Aisling (the heroine) is the kind of woman that women can relate to and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she feels is right. For this reason, Just Breathe is a deeply redemptive book and that alone makes it worthy of reading.

And with this I leave you with one recommendation, pick Sarah Doughty’s work out of the genre and let it Just Breathe.


Special thanks to Indie Blu(e) and Candice Louisa Daquin
for such an eloquent review of Just Breathe.
It was both unexpected and touching at the same time.
I still look back at this review with fondness.

I can only hope that as the series and overall universe has evolved,
Candice’s thoughts still hold true.
To read her review in its entirety, click here.

If you want to give my books a try, look no further.

~ Sarah Doughty

That Time Indie Blue Reviewed Just Breathe

Earthen Witch, Updates

SMITTEN Is A Must Read

Random Thoughts

Indie Blu(e)’s Smitten should be your newest gift of poetry

By Mariah Voutilainen

Before I begin to review Smitten, a book that lays bare and re-frames (in a very personal manner) the love that women have for women, I must be equally open.  As I formed my thoughts, I realized that I was (and am) extremely nervous about how to respond to these poems from my own heterosexual, cis female lens.  I felt this because I am a woman of color, one who feels the simmering heat of frustration when those who cannot ever know my experience want to take a stab at relating to it.  What I can say is the following:  While Smitten is a book about women who love women (from every-which perspective), of course, it is about love.  And I can relate to love.  I can understand first love, last love, forbidden love, unrequited love, the love of someone lost, the love of someone found.  The love of someone who saves.

But in truth, even as a woman of color married to a white man, I have not experienced love that is criticized or fetishized by outsiders, that is closeted by well (and not-so-well) meaning family.  I will never feel the excruciating pain of those who are beat down because of whom or how they love.  So, as I opened up my advance copy of Smitten, it was with delicate hands, an open and reverent heart—because that is how I wish my own poetry to be read.

Over a hundred poems about women, by women.  Can I say how exhilarating it is to have read so many at one go?  I happily recognized quite a few of the poets—hailing from an independent poetry network often curated by Indie Blu(e) Publishing:  Tara Caribou, Candice Louisa Daquin, Christine E. Ray, Kindra M. Austin and Georgia Park, to name a few.  But there was a mélange of poets new to me, whose unique voices were employed in a variety of styles from musical to prose to concrete poetry.  Among my favorites were Paula Jellis’ “I want a woman with a big bouffant,” Katherine DeGilio’s “Sunburned Shoulders,” Nick Kay’s “The Value of a Rusty Coin,” Jessica Jacobs’ “Out of the Windfields,” and Susan M. Conway’s “Letters to my Love.”

Would that I could list every single poem (my list is long), as they touched my sensibilities in different ways.  Some entreat us to dance to an inaudible tune; others confide to us the secrets of nerve-wracked first kisses; they relate the early-in-the-morning and late-at-night mundanities of love. But we are also invited to the troubled history of these loves in poems such as “Love is Our Theory” (Sean Heather K. McGraw), “Letter from Lock Up to the NYPD, June 1969, Christopher Street” (Melissa Fadul) and “You Don’t Deserve to Read About My Life” (Georgia Park).  These such poems are the ones that will be hardest to bear, but among the most important to read.

This is a book that should be gifted.  In spite of its implied audience, Smitten is not just for women who adore women.  It is for those whose hearts flutter and skin goosebumps at romance, who know the flight of butterflies in their stomachs and who long for the feeling of home in another’s heart.

 

SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Women an Anthology is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.   Request it at your local/international bookstores.


Mariah Voutilainen writes poetry and prose about all manner of things at www.reimaginingthemundane.wordpress.com.

The Importance Of We Will Not Be Silenced

PTSD and Awareness, Updates

When I began reading We Will Not Be Silenced, I was shocked at what waited for me. It wasn’t just the staggering statistics from the Forward. It wasn’t just the vivid, albeit brief, moments of just a few things a survivor may have experienced.

It was the onslaught
of my own history
coming back
up my throat like bile.

While this anthology needs to be read with great care – especially for those that have experienced some kind of abuse or assault in their lives, as it will no doubt be triggering – it is definitely something everyone should be aware of. These things are real. They happen at a staggering rate every day. And the more awareness we can spread about it, maybe – just maybe – we will be able to save someone from enduring some of, or escaping from, their own.

 

If you haven’t already done so, consider giving this anthology a read, as both print and Kindle versions are available. Or, consider gifting a copy to the Wish List to donate to organizations in need.

~ Sarah Doughty

I read somewhere that Sarah sees her writing poetry as a moment, whereas her writing fiction as a lifetime, and when I read this, it made total sense to me because I’ve read Sarah’s poetry for years and it is a moment, a strong powerful smack in the gut moment, but definitely a moment, whereas when I read her fiction, I can see the entire universe is being considered and she is methodical, paced and thorough in her plotting and building of characters.

Just Breathe delivered for me. I was surprised. Sarah knows her art, and she drew me into her world almost immediately.

I’m very familiar with Sarah’s poetry and have always appreciated her blunt and honest way of telling it like it is, that’s why it was a surprise to find out she is equally conversant and gifted with longer art forms. This isn’t just a hobby for her, you can tell she takes her writing very seriously and spends a lot of time ensuring she gets it right.

It doesn’t matter if a character
is a witch or a vampire
and whether those things exist
in our world or do not,
it matters that we believe
as we read that they are real.
That way we become
invested in them.

Aisling (the heroine) is the kind of woman that women can relate to and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she feels is right. For this reason, Just Breathe is a deeply redemptive book and that alone makes it worthy of reading.

And with this I leave you with one recommendation, pick Sarah Doughty’s work out of the genre and let it Just Breathe.

Special thanks to Indie Blu(e) and Candice Louisa Daquin
for such an eloquent review of Just Breathe.
While this is merely an excerpt of the entire review,
I am beyond humbled at all the kind things
she had to say about the book.
To read the review in its entirety, click here.

~ Sarah Doughty

Review Of Just Breathe From Indie Blue

Earthen Witch, Updates