Book Review: A Forever Summer

Happy Release Day to Havelah McLat and congratulations on your debut novel!

I’m so excited to share my review! Read on 🙂

*

During a golden summer, many years ago, Katherine built sandcastles and went on adventures with a young boy in Westchester Bay. Now a young woman, she and her sister have returned for the first time to sort through forgotten memories and come to terms with the loss of their father.

Memories, in particular, are rare treasures for Katherine, having lost them years ago in a terrible crash. While searching through old belongings, Katherine stumbles across letters addressed to her from a boy named Janson, and unexpected pieces begin falling into place. She thought that she was simply returning to put their family’s old vacation home in order before saying goodbye once and for all; instead, memory after memory is returning to her, all through the help of an unexpected friend, who might turn out to be something more.

 Havelah McLat has written an impressive debut, full of heart, warmth, and charm. The main characters, Katherine and Janson, go on journeys in the story that are a joy for readers to share in. They are real, flawed, and relatable, and I enjoyed getting to know them and spend time with them. While there were certain parts where the dialogue felt somewhat unrealistic, the story, as a whole, is really well-written and so charming. This is the perfect summer beach read for anyone who is looking for a sweet story about love and legacy that will encourage and uplift them.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

*

A Forever Summer is available on Amazon and you can add it on Goodreads.

Follow Havelah McLat on Instagram!

Thank you so much, Havelah, for the chance to read your first book and celebrate release day with you!

Book Review: Etania’s Calling

For Etania and the peoples of Tamnarae, a new danger is lurking. Jazel is bent on seeking revenge, and no one will be safe until she is defeated once and for all. Desperate to hunt her down, Etania’s father pleads for her assistance and Etania reluctantly agrees. Accompanied by her suitor, Keyel, and a charming young prince, the company sets out on a quest that will decide the fate of the land. But Etania is keeping a secret, and should she share it with the wrong person, it could derail their hunt for Jazel, fracture her relationships with those she loves most, and leave the fate of Tamnarae more uncertain than ever. Etania’s calling is certain, but her ability to trust the One who gave it to her is yet to be decided…

It’s not often that a main character’s journey so closely mirrors your own. Etania is fully aware of her calling, yet she struggles both to fully trust that it’s possible for her to live it out and to not try to do so in her own strength. At so many points, her strengths and weaknesses resonated with me, as a reader, in such a powerful way. The reason I don’t find this surprising is that one of M.H. Elrich’s greatest strengths as a writer is to weave realistic characters with flaws, eccentricities, and God-given gifts.

It is nearly impossible not to find pieces of yourself in Etania, Keyel, or even Zaden. The result is a powerful story of learning to surrender and trust, to fully embrace your God-given calling with your whole heart so that others can be inspired to do the very same. After reading Etania’s Calling, there is no doubt that M.H. Elrich has courageously embraced her own gift, and every reader who picks up this story is going to be better for having read it.

I’m very much looking forward to the Daughters of Tamnarae series continuing and am so grateful for the opportunity to read this book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

*

You can keep up with writing updates from M.H. Elrich on Instagram and Goodreads!

Etania’s Calling, as well as the first book in the series, Etania’s Worth, are available on Amazon.

*

What books have you read and enjoyed lately? Share any recommendations in the comments! I’m always looking for new books to read. If you’re an author, please don’t be shy about suggesting your own stories!

Hoping your weekend is filled with good books,

Alexandria

What’s Next For 21:25 Books?

Hi everyone,

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I am so excited for all that God’s taught me over the last several months and for the way that He redirected all my plans. I definitely had a very specific vision of what life would look like by spring of this year and where 21:25 Books would be.

Then, life happened, and God showed me that, no matter how good I thought my plans were, His are so much better.

Initially, my plan was to design a full website with an online store and new blog. Roadblock after roadblock kept popping up, until I finally realized that those roadblocks were God’s loving way of telling me, “Not yet.”

I didn’t necessarily like hearing that answer at first (OK, I didn’t like it at all), so I kept trying to push my own agenda for a bit. After spending a lot of time talking to God about things, He led me to stick with this version of the blog. Not always, but for now. I felt such a weight lifted when I finally followed where He was leading.

So, what does this mean for the online store?

Well, it does exist, just not in the way I thought it would!

If you click on this fancy link, it will take you right to a form where you can browse my store and purchase any bookish items that you like! I’ll be adding more products as time goes on, but for right now, there are some beautiful bookmarks available and handmade wax seals for your stationary or craft projects! (Please note that shipping is U.S. only for now)

I discovered how passionate I am about making handmade bookish products to share with my fellow readers and writers, something that I would have missed out on if I had stuck with my original plan. It turns out that God knows best, after all 🙂

In other news, I just launched The Writers’ Nook, a pen-pal group for Christian women writers! I’m so full of anticipation for how God will allow us to encourage each other through this group. If you’d like to sign up, you can read all the information and do so here!

Receiving cards or letters in the mail is one of my favorite things (and a welcome break from all of the junk mail), and I thought, “How wonderful would it be for us writers to receive random notes of encouragement or congratulations when we hit a roadblock in the writing process or when we celebrate a book release?”

There are few things as special as finding a tangible reminder that you’re not alone in the writing process, and The Writers’ Nook is an opportunity for writers to offer that reminder to each other on a regular basis!

There is more news to come, but I’ll leave you with that for now! What’s new in your own writing/publishing journey? What has God been teaching you? I’d love for you to share in the comments.

Come visit on Friday, when I’ll be sharing a book review of Etania’s Calling by M.H. Elrich!

Happy reading & wordslinging [ my dad’s term for writing 🙂 ]

Alexandria

Book Review: Letters from the Dragon’s Son

Jonathan Gudwyne is in trouble.

But he shouldn’t be. It doesn’t make sense. Much of what he’s longed for has been fulfilled in these last months.

He is reunited with Izzy, they’ve settled into their homestead, and they’re building the life and family they’ve dreamed of.

And yet, something is not quite right. Something feels stagnant and off-kilter, and it is not long before Jonathan realizes that the rot can be found in his own heart. And when an unexpected and shattering loss occurs, Jonathan finds himself pushed to the breaking point, altogether unsure that he’ll survive what’s consuming him from the inside.

Avery is a man longing for reconciliation and certain he doesn’t deserve it. In fact, if you were to ask him, he’d tell you that what he most deserves is as much pain as can be inflicted for all the suffering he’s caused others.

Still, he hopes. Hopes for forgiveness. Hopes for his boy to see him for the man he’s become rather than the one he’s been.

The possibility seems far-fetched. Still, there’s always a chance for his hopes to be fulfilled. Always a chance for the dragons of our pasts to be, at last and finally, laid to rest.

Letters from the Dragon’s Son is one of my favorite books of all time. For the way it raised my hopes, for the way it lifted my eyes to see my own past through the only proper lens: grace.

We all have parts of our pasts that we are ashamed of, and, like Avery, we all tend to shy away from the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that Jesus freely extends. We know we’re not worthy, so, why bother, right?

But Tammy Lash has woven an intricate story that lovingly, but firmly, refuses to leave its readers in that rut of guilt and shame.

This is a story that lifts you out of the ashes.

This is a story that helps you see yourself and others clearly, perhaps, for the first time.

This is a story full of characters that reflect our own struggles and victories, in all their imperfect glory.

If you’re longing for hope, forgiveness (or the ability to forgive), and a new beginning, this is the story I’ll suggest over and over and over again.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

*

You can find a copy of Letters rom the Dragon’s Son here.

And be sure to read book one, White Wolf and the Ash Princess.

You can connect with Tammy Lash on Instagram and Goodreads.

Happy reading!

Alexandria

Book Review: Earth Quaking

Today, I’m overjoyed to share my book review of Earth Quaking, by fellow author and friend, H.A. Pruitt! I’ll let the review speak for itself, but this is not an adventure that you’re going to want to miss.

*

The adventure through Anelthalien continues…

Four young heroes – Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew – are making their way through unfamiliar country. Dangers surround them, and their quest to save Anelthalien and put an end to the evil throne feels more impossible and uncertain as the days pass.

But it’s not only their quest that the heroes are uncertain of…

One of them is hiding something, and, before long, shadows of suspicion begin to cloud their vision, their purpose, and their ability to trust one another. Like me, I suppose you’re wondering: if the four heroes can’t overcome their own doubts and learn to trust again, what hope does the land of Anelthalien and its people have?

Earth Quaking is a stunning exploration of that struggle we all face between doubt and faith. Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew are four of the most real, endearing, and well-written characters you’ll find between the covers of a book. After reading Earth Quaking, I cannot choose my favorite; I love them all and see a little of myself in each of them.

And, perhaps, that’s part of the wonder of Anelthalien. You go there for a good story and a thrilling adventure, only to discover pieces of yourself that you’ve been missing, that you thought were gone for good.

So, if you’re looking for the courage to endure impossible circumstances…

If you’re longing to reclaim the hope you need to place your trust in someone again…

If you need help to remember that things really do happen for a reason and at the perfect time, even when we don’t understand why…

Open the pages of Earth Quaking.

Anelthalien is waiting, and it’s that rare fantasy world where hope comes alive and faith begins to flourish again.

I wouldn’t wait a moment more to explore it.

Would you?

*

You can start your adventure through Anelthalien in book one, Anelthalien, and then continue the journey in Earth Quaking.

Here’s a little more about the author, H.A. Pruitt:

“H. A. Pruitt is the author of the Christian fantasy book Anelthalien. Anelthalien is a portal fantasy that readers say reminds them of The Chronicles of Narnia.


“H.A. Pruitt is a pastor’s wife who teaches two Bible studies and wrote the recovery program for the church they serve. Her mission in all she does is to listen to, obey, and glorify God. She has always enjoyed art, using her imagination, and writing and is enjoying God using those abilities to shape her into an author.
Also, she really loves her guinea pigs . . . all 14 of them.”

You can connect with Heather on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook!

And be sure to add Anelthalien and Earth Quaking on Goodreads!

*

This week is a week of bookish holidays! Yesterday was Read-A-Book Day and tomorrow, I’ll be celebrating International Literacy Day on Instagram by sharing one of the books that I read again and again (and again) as a kid. I hope you’ll join me!

What will you be reading this week?

Alexandria

Character Names! Behind the Scenes of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Have you ever wondered how authors come up with character names?

For me, it’s different for every story I write!

When I wrote Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, many of the characters were based on family members (makes life easy, right?! 😅)

But when it came time for Chip’s tale, God had something different in mind.

I wrote this book in an illustrated journal, and as soon as I saw the owl pictured above, I heard the name, Abaline.

Although, it took me a few tries to decide on the spelling 😄

Alfeus’ name came to me spur of the moment, and, of course, Chip got his name from the charming young rabbit who used to sit outside my window.

Sometimes, there isn’t a certain way that character names come about. They just feel right.

And when God gives you that certainty, you learn not to question it 😊

How do you come up with character names? Do people you know inspire them or do the names just come as you’re writing?

*

Next week, we’ll continue on our behind-the-scenes’ adventures for Chip’s story!

What would you love to know about the making of Chip?

I’ll also be sharing a review for H.A. Pruitt’s novel, Earth Quaking, a book that is very close to my heart.

Happy reading!

Alexandria

Behind the Scenes: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Hello, fellow book lovers and writers! Welcome to the first behind-the-scenes look at Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves!

Every Saturday, I’ll be sharing more about my journey of writing Chip, creating the artwork, and binding the manuscript edition!

Let’s turn the first page of this woodland journal and let the adventure begin!

*

It all started on a chilly March morning, a little over a year ago. I had just sat down at my desk when a little rabbit nestled down in the grass outside my window.

That’s certainly not an unusual sight at my house, but this rabbit was different.

Set apart from the rest.

He had a big chip in his left ear, and I immediately suspected that this rabbit, in particular, had seen his fair share of adventure.

I would see him from time to time, chasing after other bunnies, snoozing in the afternoon sun, and taking his pick of our flowers (we planted them for his benefit, right?!) 🌸🌷

I felt a story beginning, but I had no clue where God was leading yet.

I picked out what felt like the perfect journal to use for a story about a rabbit and his forest friends and began to scribble notes.

My first thought was that this would be a simple story about 3 bunnies: Chip, Riley, and Sara. It would chronicle their adventures, their mishaps and mischief.

And I suppose that would have been an entertaining and sweet tale, but it was not the one that God was calling me to write, and it would have been a shame to miss out on the adventure Chip did, in fact, have.

Little did I know that over the next few weeks I would come across a beautiful devotion written by Charles Spurgeon, and God would use it to change everything…

But that’s a story for next week 😉

Join me here next Saturday for more about this altogether unexpected story that God gave to me and all the wonderful things that resulted from it.

*

If you’ve received your copy of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, please share with me! Tag me (@2125Books) with #bookofroseleaves 📖🌹

I’m so excited to see the book in readers’ hands and everyone’s coloring creations!

And once you’ve finished the story, will you please consider leaving a review on Goodreads? Reviews help authors so much and don’t have to be anything fancy. A simple 5 star rating and an, “I loved this book” is perfect!

Thank you so much!

Alexandria

Meet Romulus Took: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

What do you collect?

I know of a certain badger named Romulus Took, whose home is full of all sorts of oddments, trinkets you’d be unlikely to find anywhere else.

For a badger, he’s an unusual sort, but I’ve grown to love him, and I believe you will, too.

Here’s a look inside Romulus’ burrow, and the items he’s acquired from a place called Elsewhere…

Any guess which is his favorite? 😉

I can’t wait for these postcards to make their way into the world! 📬

Until then, here’s an excerpt from Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, featuring Romulus!

*

“It was widely accepted that Romulus Took was an odd sort of badger, though a well-loved one. He was notorious for collecting all sorts of trinkets from the human world; the badger was fascinated by them all, but it was candles that he loved best.

Chip’s father often related the day, quite some time ago, when Romulus Took had brought the first candles to Everleaf.

The skeptical and the enchanted alike had accepted Romulus’ gift with curiosity, which quickly turned to delight as, candle by candle, a small corner of Everleaf Forest was illuminated by dozens of flickering lights.

He never would say where he found the candles or the countless other oddments that filled his cozy home. No matter how many times Chip asked – and the badger had long ago lost track – all Romulus Took ever offered was a smile and wink, and perhaps, a self-satisfied, “Oh, Elsewhere.”

What do you think the secret of Elsewhere is? There’s certainly more to this badger than meets the eye!

Until you can uncover these secrets for yourself, please add Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves on Goodreads and be sure to follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss out on any writing updates!

Wondering about Elsewhere with you,

Alexandria

A Special Excerpt: Earth Quaking

The day is finally here!!! Happy release day to H.A. Pruitt and her new book, Earth Quaking!

All of the other books I’m currently reading will be promptly abandoned as soon as this story arrives on my doorstep, and I’m certain you’ll feel the same once you read this special excerpt!

*

“No, honestly, it wasn’t,” Ella instantly brightly assured her and, after chuckling at Kindle’s dumbfounded blinking, explained, “It was quite awful—all I thought I’d lost—for a long while, but one day I was so overtaken by the unfairness and all I felt because of it that I told my papa about it. And, Kin, I remember it just as he told me. He sat me down in a chair and knelt down beside me and pointed his finger right at my nose. He said, ‘Young lady, you are precisely where you ought to be and everything going on in your life is happening precisely as it ought to be. I found out a long time ago that we can’t go thinking this and that is the way it ought to be because this and that never was. All that you’re conjuring ain’t the life you was to live—this is, right as it is happening right now.’ He told me that, Kin, and I knew he was right. That all I had imagined … was not the life I was meant to live. My life happened as it did and our lives are happening like this right now because they are supposed to be happening this way. Everything that’s gone on has happened for some reason, and now you’re not at your home and I’m away from my papa for some purpose. 

“Ever since he told me that, I’ve known that every bit of life happens as it should—never wrongly or mistakenly or out of order—but I’ve never really understood how so many strange, mundane, and mad things can all be for some real purpose until now. You see, it’s the makers, Kin. They’ve made everything, and not just the wood of these trees and things, but a plan and purpose for all of it and Anelthalien. There’s no other way they could know what we must do before we’ve done it. Do you see? It must be quite like when my papa stews a soup—he takes all sorts of mad bits of this and that, and you can never see how it will all turn out, but once it’s done and you taste it, you see how it all worked out. The makers aren’t just guessing at where we need to go or what to do when they tell us to go somewhere or do something—they know precisely why we four are the ones here and how all the strange, mundane, and mad bits of this journey are exactly what we need when we meet them and have some reason we may not see until it’s all done and worked out. Kin, all this is happening precisely as it ought, and we and Tad and Andrew are all precisely where we ought to be.”

*

You can grab a copy of Earth Quaking (and book one, Anelthalien) on Amazon and other retailers!

Be sure to add the book on Goodreads and leave a review once you’ve finished it.

Reviews don’t have to be anything fancy! Even rating it 5 stars and simply saying, “I loved it!” is so immensely helpful to writers and helps us keep doing what we love!

You can connect with H.A. Pruitt on Facebook and Instagram.

Alexandria

An Excerpt from Hoover’s Horn

Are you ready for a sneak peek of Hoover’s Horn?

It promises to be a magical adventure!

*

“Sally stood up, scanning the room filled with chattering, jostling garden gnomes. ‘I have one gnome who has not yet shed his wishdrop… I think he’d be pleased to help you out,’ she said, still scanning the room. ‘Cott? Cott? Where are you, Cott?’ Sally called. ‘I have some visitors for you!’

Luna lifted her head and noticed the conglomeration of gnomes on the staircase begin to shuffle and squeeze, as if making way for someone to pass through.

A stubby gnome popped out of the group, waving his hands in the air.

‘I’m here, Miss Sally!’ he hollered, continuing to weave his way through the crowd.

Luna noticed two gnomes trailing behind him. One had two cute braids sticking out from under her pointed hat. She wore a blue dress and had rosy cheeks. Behind her was a gnome who was even shorter and stubbier than the others. Luna knew right away he was a child – even though he had a large, white beard. He held onto his mother’s hand and waved cheerily at every individual they passed.

When the three gnomes finally reached Witch Sally, they bowed politely and introduced themselves.

‘The name’s Terracotta Glaze. ‘Tis a pleasure to make your acquaintance.’ He lifted his leg and showed them an inscription on the bottom of his boot. It said: 100% Terracotta. Then the gnome bowed humbly once again. His red pointy hat seemed to be so firmly attached to his head that it didn’t even wiggle as he bowed. Luna thought he was quite charming.

‘This here is my lovely wife, Dripdrop,’ Terracotta gave her a peck on the cheek, making a clinking sound like two glasses bumping into each other. He gestured to the smaller gnome. ‘And our son, Bert.’

Terracotta had a cheerful face and a shiny white beard – made of the same hard material as the rest of him – framing his face. He reminded Luna of the pictures her family, the Robbins, always hung around the house during Christmas time. What did they call the man with the red suit and white beard? But the gnome wasn’t wearing a red suit, just a red pointy hat. His clothing was blue, matching Dripdrop’s blue dress.

Edwin stepped forward, ‘It is an honor to meet you, Mr. Terracotta Glaze.’ Edwin extended his hand. ‘I am Wizard Edwin – an old classmate of Witch Sally’s.’

Terracotta extended his own little hand, reaching up to shake Edwin’s. Seeing the size of the garden gnome’s hand, Edwin corrected himself and instead of his entire hand stuck out a single finger, using it to shake hands.

‘Pleasure ta meet ya’! And call me Cott. My friends all call me Cott,’ the little gnome insisted, smiling warmly.”

*

I don’t know about you, but I feel sure that Terracotta Glaze is a friend worth having!

Get to know him better and join him as he helps return Hoover to his owlish state in Hoover’s Horn, book two of The Cottonwood Chronicles!

And check out these fun, whimsical coloring pages that Erica Richardson designed herself! I can’t wait to color them 🙂 You can see more and download your own coloring pages here!

And be sure to follow Erica’s writing journey on Instagram!

*

Next week, something different is coming…

Earth Quaking by H.A. Pruitt releases June 30th, and the celebration is just beginning!

Until then,

Alexandria