Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Of Fire and Ash {Book Review}

 Hello all! Today I'm reviewing Of Fire and Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams. Happy release day! Let's get to it.


She rides a fireborn, a steed of fire and ash, trained for destruction.

Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of ruling like her father over the nation of Soldonia, where warriors ride to battle on magical steeds—soaring on storm winds, vanishing in shadow, quaking the earth, and summoning the sea. After a tragic accident claims her twin brother, she is exiled and sworn to atonement by spending her life—or death—for her people.

But when invaders spill onto Soldonia’s shores and traitors seize upon the chaos to murder her father, Ceridwen claims the crown to keep the nation from splintering. Combatting overwhelming odds and looming civil war, she begins to wonder if the greatest threat to the kingdom may, in fact, be her.

With fire before her and ash in her wake, how can she hope to unite instead of destroy?

Flames rage and oceans rise in this explosive first installment of The Fireborn Epic as the exiled heir, a novice priest, and a reluctant rebel wage war against a hidden power that threatens to shake the world.

~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ .

    Listen, I loveee a good fantasy. I also love a good epic fantasy. So let's see how this one measures up. 

The Cover:

    Covers that are artistic renderings are a hit or miss for me. They can come off amateurish or unpolished. I'm happy to report that this cover does not hit these negative qualities. I love the artistic depiction of Ceridwen atop her flaming steed. It fits the novel and its themes so well and the artist clearly knows what they are doing. This artistic rendering reminds me of more classic fantasy novels when illustrated covers were more than norm and that's definitely not a bad thing here. Lovely cover.


    In an epic fantasy of this type, separating the characters from the story is not an easy thing, so I will do my best. The characters that make up the tapestry of the book are imperfect and well-constructed. The book follows three different characters and I actually enjoyed all of them. In fact, I was often hungry for more when a chapter would end only for me to get pulled into another character. Ceridwen's reckless ways, Rafi's joking cowardice, and Jakim's struggles with morality each made for some compelling storylines. There is a full cast to fill out side and minor characters too. One of my favorite has to be Finnian, Ceridwen's partner. No spoilers here, but he rides a shadow horse and is generally very cool. Some might struggle to keep up with all of the many characters, but that's par for the course when it comes to fantasy novels of this magnitude. Just do like I did and look back to find a character's first appearance if you can't remember who on earth they are--here's looking at you, Nold. Sorry about that.

 Plot and Story 

    First of all, let me just say... this story is amazingly detailed. The world is expansive and each culture feels fleshed out and unique. Reading the different story lines set in such completely different parts of the story world is very interesting, as Adams delves into each different culture so completely. At the beginning of each chapter there is a small excerpt related to the different cultures and I found that such a nice and interesting touch. It was a unique way to give more insight into the different cultures without info dumping within the story itself. Without spoiling anything, the story of Of Fire and Ash deals with a lot of broken and struggling characters trying to find their future. The book is full of fantastic horses with amazing abilities. Some of them fly, some are water horses, some shadowers that can fade into shadow and smoke, and the main character's horse is a fireborn. He flames. There is a lot to these special horses but they really add to the story and it's a pretty unique path to take. The book deals with a LOT of heavy themes and there are a couple of very, very sad parts. However, hope is also present and that is the most beautiful element blazing forth. I finished the novel wanting book two very much. I'm curious to see how the stories of different characters will intertwine in the future.

Buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Ash-Fireborn-Epic-Book/dp/1621842037/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=of+fire+and+ash&qid=1638939040&sr=8-1

Friday, July 26, 2019

Courage and Grace {Book Review}

Courage and Grace is today's review read. I received this book in exchange for my honest review, which I've given below.

Courage and Grace: A Jewish Family's Holocaust True Survival Story During WW2  (World War II Memoir) by [Komem, Yoseph]
  Description: If their secret is discovered
They will not survive…
While the Holocaust rages, two very young brothers, Joseph and Yitzhak, adopt false Christian identities and hide in the Aryan side of Polish cities and countryside.

Their lives, as well as the lives of their parents, swing wildly between the terror of being apprehended by the cruel regime and collaborators of the Reich, to their desperate need to continue living "freely" outside the ghetto walls.

They undergo an agonizing five and a half years, mostly in constant fear that their false identities will be exposed and their lives ended.


Since my younger days I've had an interest in both the holocaust and the Jewish people. I believe that the Jews are God's chosen people (though he also has a spiritual people - Christians) and the extreme wickedness and evil done toward them during the holocaust was an act of Satan himself using evil men to try to destroy God's people. Of course, this terror campaign did not succeed, because as The Bible shows over and again, God always saves a remnant.

The family portrayed in this story is a part of that remnant. I still haven't gotten all the way through the book--it's quite lengthy, over a hundred pages--but I find myself astonished at the amazing survival story in the pages. Most holocaust stories I've read involve those who haven't survived or tales of hiding within walls--such as those hidden by Corrie Ten Boom and others. 

This story is different. Yes, there is hiding... a lot of it. But the main difference I see is that this family was intelligent and courageous in such a way that they often hid in plain sight, assuming false identities to survive the war. 

This is not a light book. It took me several tries to begin it, but once I did, I found it surprisingly engrossing. See, this is not written as a novel or biography, but it is an explicit autobiography in places. Yoseph Komen (the smallest boy in the photograph on the cover) tells his story--as much as he can remember. The smallest details stand out to him, surprising in their descriptive accuracy. He remembers the layout of homes he stayed in, etc. Yet, some larger details--such as who accompanied him during an important train ride--remain a contested mystery. 

The scope of this story awes me, honestly. I am impressed by this remarkable family--a deaf father who used his disability and his blonder looks to masquerade, a mother who fearlessly taught her child, children who were somehow able to keep the secret of who they really were.

Yes there are many names. This story is not just the story of Yoseph Komen's immediate family, but many other relatives and acquaintances who lived or died during the war. Glimpses of other lives are available, such as the many brave families who hid them, or aided them. There's a lot to keep up with. The timeline might be confusing. But this is a raw, real story. It's full of memory and detail. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to see into the lives of this remarkable family, to remember why we say "never again" to attempted genocide and cruelty.

You can find the book here: Amazon


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review: Composer of the Calm Horizon

Hello all! It's been a minute. Today I have a new review for you. Composer of the Calm Horizon by Al Romano. I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review, which I've given below.

 Description: Have you ever felt like the stork got the wrong address? So she left you where you're not supposed to be: in a cage that you can never escape? That's exactly how 15-year-old Neph Baker feels, hated by literally everyone in his town for an arson whose perpetrator remains at large, yet for some reason everyone blames Neph. But he himself can't recall where he was when it happened. Nonetheless, the rumors were strong enough to grant him the ill-favored epithet that induces terror in all who hear it: The fire kid. But things aren't all bad, because even with everyone against him, he still has the company of the ever-loyal Grasshead, an otherworldly creature known as a hiphomoy and the only means of comfort Neph has. But with no money, no friends, no support and nowhere to go, Neph is forced to bide his time until the moment when he will leave his wretched cage of suffering and loneliness… for that is his one and only desire.Everything changes when he discovers the Natin, a group of humanoids who invite Neph to their home, for they believe he is the composer of the calm horizon, the long-lost hero of legends, who will defeat the Airatsmeka, the Natin's eternal enemies. Neph enters the novaverse, a utopian parallel world dominated by the Natin. Yet the utopia may be destroyed by the Airatsmeka if Neph doesn’t live up to his supposed destiny as the composer. Because they have no alternative, the Natin are open-minded to the idea that Neph is the composer, since they waited seven centuries for an opportunity like this, and time is running out.But there's an even bigger problem: no one is certain Neph is actually the composer. But the Natin are willing to test him if it means the defeat of the Airatsmeka. Realizing this might be his only shot at a better life, Neph is willing to go through any and all trials to prove himself. Should he fail, he will return to a life of condemnation and to the world from which he came, for the Natin have no tolerance for failures… and Neph can’t to go back into the cage.
Okay, let's get into the review. First of all, I'm a huge fantasy reader, so I thought this book might suit my interest.

The Cover

The cover is probably one of my favorite elements to this novel. Fantasy creatures can be hard to picture, so the fact that the aforementioned Grasshead is included helps for imagery purposes. It also gives a clear picture of what it is: a fantasy book. Expectations met there.

The Characters

Ah, the characters. My feelings are so mixed here. I really did not enjoy Neph as a character and considering he is the focus, that was a bit of a problem for me. It's not bad to have a main character with problems, but I personally found him to be quite abrasive and frustrating at times. He had a bit of a romance involved and he was SO mean to the girl he liked at times. It felt a bit much.

My favorite character was probably a Natin named So'Krang, but overall I kind of found the characters to be a bit one dimensional. They had a lot of potential but never quite reached it. If the author continued to develop this further, I would encourage him to find more dimension in his characters, especially the more prominent ones. 

The Plot/Story

Okay, the plot was pretty interesting once I understand what was going on. But it also seemed like only a small portion of the story was covered in the book, since the author seemed to describe every minute detail. This was okay some of the times, but often it created longer than necessary scenes and chapters and put the book at a slow start. Additionally, some of the plot elements were not really integral to the story... there was a character included near the beginning that was discussed and only briefly mentioned later in the book. I didn't understand the significance of this character since she seemed like a large player early and then just vanished with no explanation of what she was about. I like the fact that this book plays with the "chosen one" trope since the main character doesn't actually know if he is, in fact, the supposed "chosen one". So that was a nice little twist to see. The writing could have been much tighter in places. I felt at times that I was reading a first draft, which isn't something you want. One of the large things that bothered me was the amount of cussing. I guess it's just something you don't expect from a fantasy novel, especially one with a main character of fifteen. Suffice it to say, I was really surprised with that fifteen's year old's mouth was extremely dirty. The publisher/author should probably make it known that though the character is a teen, this is not a true young adult novel, as it could be assumed to be. 

Overall, this book had a complex world. I wish we could have seen more of that world and have it more detailed and written with far less passive voice. With a bit of an overhaul, this book could be a rich, detailed addition to the fantasy genre.

If interested, you can find more here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q84R9GB

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

To the girl I used to be...

Image may contain: people smiling, one or more people, selfie and closeupTo the girl I used to be,

You are so full of life and joyful. Don't lose that. You're going to take some hard knocks. You'll be too young, but no age is old enough for them. The point is you can't let them keep you down. You've got to get back up and keep going.

You're a 'glass half full' kinda person. Maybe people think you're naive. Maybe you are. But that's okay. Be naive. Find the good in your situations and find the good in others. Don't search for the negative or wonder what others are doing, but focus on yourself and how you can grow.

People change. You might have to let go... but always forgive because you don't have room to let bitterness grow.

You're going to change, too. Life changes you, but let those changes grow into something good.

Most importantly, keep the faith. Trust the Maker of All Things who knows you thoroughly. He is the source of your hope. He has a purpose for your life. Remember, there will be disappointments, suffering, pain you never thought you would bear, but you will bear it because HE will bear it for you, just like HE did on the cross so many years ago.

It's a process. Learn to let go. Learn to love more. Know that you have to be willing to change. You know you aren't perfect and sometimes you're going to really dislike yourself, but keep moving, keep working, and remember: Know matter what happens, you have the joy of Christ.
Image may contain: Julie Baldwin and Bethany Baldwin, people smiling, closeup
I miss you, sometimes, and I really really wish I could be you again. Could feel free to laugh loudly and be crazy once in a while and stay up to late hours talking and singing loudly. Maybe I can, but more importantly, maybe you will become someone who is compassionate, bold, creative, and truly unique.

You aren't defined by others. The only expectations that matter on the ones the Lord has for you, so keep after Him. Chase him with all that is within you, chase Him harder, and find Him.



Monday, December 31, 2018

Broken Trust: A Book Review

I hope everyone has had a great Christmas season. Tomorrow a new year starts with new challenges and possibly some resolutions--though I have thoughts about that. I'm hoping to get a post written about both my first semester at my new college and new year out very soon. One of my Christmas presents was the FINAL book in the Mission League series by Jill Williamson. Today I am reviewing Broken Trust--the penultimate book in the series--before finishing the newest release, so strap in. This one is a real ride.

Image result for broken trust by jill williamson

Note: I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Also, this is the second last book in a deeply developed series, so I don't recommend reading this post if you haven't read the previous books as I will probably reference previous books and plot lines.

Blurb: In the midst of training for the outdoor survival trip to Alaska, Spencer is distracted by a mysterious young woman—Nick's new girlfriend. He's not just wondering how someone that gorgeous would waste her time on a jerk like Nick, he recognizes this girl from her bit part in one of the cultish Jolt movies he's been investigating. She's up to something, and Spencer is determined to find out what. As he gets closer to the truth, it becomes harder to know who to trust. Things are getting dangerous. Can Spencer figure out what's going on, or will this mystery leave him M.I.A?


The Cover

So this cover may be my favorite from the entire series. The elements of the wolf-dog, Spencer, and the explosion/fire meld together really well. The cover alone promises this book to be an adventure.


Jill Williamson truly is the queen of characters. No matter what story of hers I read, it is her characters who stand out. This book is no different. We have read Spencer's journey over two novels and two novellas and his development has been very satisfying. He started as a selfish kid who saw girls as objects and is now testing the waters of recent conversion to Christianity. He's already so much nicer.

Additionally, we get to meet some new characters and get to know old ones better. 

Plot and Story

This book deviates from the theme of the past two full length features. The characters don't travel to foreign countries for 8 weeks. Instead, it is a year for survival training. The first half of the summer is spent doing various assignments (Spencer is working undercover and keeping tabs on a company) while characters like Nick Muren are getting into trouble. Spencer realizes a fellow classmate has him as an assignment, which complicates things since he kind of likes her. Badummmm. Things really take an interesting turn when the kids leave for their survival trip to Alaska where they are supposed to well... try to survive... for a certain amount of time until--as usual--things don't go as planned.

I really enjoyed this one. The first half of the plot was a little slow at times, but still kept me involved and interested. This might should go into character but... I'm not a huge fan of Spencer and Grace's growing closeness. But then, I am a Mary Stopplecamp fan for the guy so. The entire Alaska plot was really nice to see because we got to see the kids work together in a way that was kind of missing in the previous novels. I enjoyed the teamwork as well as the suspense. The book was a great read and I'm so excited to go read my Christmas present and see how everything is tied up. (And let's all hope my OTP happens... Spencer and Mary!(

Have you read any of the Mission League Series? Thoughts?

~ The Dramatic Bookworm

Monday, November 12, 2018

Project Canvas Blog Tour!

Guys, a truly special book is releasing!



An international writing community.

61 authors
11 countries
6 continents

Are you looking for advice on how to create the perfect villain? Do you need the courage to put your story down on paper?  Find this and more in Project Canvas, a writing resource written completely by teen and young adult writers and compiled by Caroline Meek and Olivia Rogers.

Project Canvas includes:
   71 short chapters, each written by a different author
   bonus interviews with authors such as Tessa Emily Hall and Q. Gibson
   world building and character development worksheets
   and other helpful resources!

“This is a writing teacher’s dream – not a how-to book, but more of a literary testimony and homage to the process of writing.  A sweet balance between the practical and the spiritual, Project Canvas is concise enough for daily meditation, yet robust enough to move the writer’s soul beyond the temporary.” –Brian Dolezal, professional development and spoken word coach at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science

Project Canvas will be available for purchase through Amazon on November 15.

This is a truly special book, guys. There's even a little section written by me, though it's just a drop in the bucket compared to some of the inspirational and informative articles inside. This project was fun and an amazing outlet for many, but I feel it was truly a passion project for Caroline and Olivia, the ones who worked the hardest to help Project Canvas meet the world.

About the Founders

Caroline and Olivia have been friends ever since kindergarten, when they met in a homeschooling group.  Their writing journey was a slow evolution over the course of many sleepovers, games of pretend, writing stories together, and finally publishing some of them.

Caroline Meek is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Project Canvas. She’s originally from Kansas City, Kansas, where she co-authored The Drawing in of Breath and attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences. Caroline has a passion for bringing writers together and is currently studying English & Creative Writing on the Publishing track at the University of Iowa. She’s been published in The Kansas City Star, Ink Lit Mag, Wordsmith, and blogs at Of Stars and Ink-Stained Things.

Olivia Rogers is the co-founder of Project Canvas. She’s originally from the great state of Kansas, where she showed sheep, competitively debated, and also became involved in politics. Olivia believes that writing is the gateway to change. She’s currently studying Political Science and Philosophy at Kansas State University, with the goal of becoming a lawyer and continuing to advocate for others.


I am thankful to these amazing women for helping so many have their voices heard and giving the opportunity to share inspiration. While my article isn't what I originally planned, I certainly hope it inspires. You know a funny thing is that our former words can inspire our present selves. No matter where you are in your writing journey, Project Canvas can inspire you over and over. 

Check out more about Project Canvas:

Project Canvas is running a Rafflecopter giveaway from November 1-15th! Go to the main site for a chance to win free copies of Project Canvas and more. It's a great giveaway!

Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour! For a complete tour schedule, see the Project Canvas blog

Thank you for dropping by! I hope you'll check out this wonderful work by so many varied authors. Blessings!

~ The Dramatic Bookworm, Bethany Baldwin