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Book Review: The Farmer’s Daughter

Lisa Howeler’s novels never fail to leave my heart full and my spirit a little more hopeful. Enjoy my full review and grab a copy for yourself below!

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Molly Tanner is restless. After coming home to live and work on her parents’ dairy farm, life now seems to be passing her by.

She longs for something more, but every day is full of the same things: stubborn cows, an even more stubborn farm hand, Alex Stone, and the growing fear that her family’s life and legacy on the farm isn’t sustainable any longer.

So, Molly Tanner will have to decide…

Is it possible to find something new in the midst of familiar things, and can old fears truly be washed away by enduring love?

Every time I read a book by Lisa Howeler, I meet characters who are surprisingly real, who struggle with issues that hit close to home. The Farmer’s Daughter is no exception.

This is a poignant story of preserving legacy, believing for the impossible when all hope seems out of reach, and learning to trust that it’s still possible to find love that endures and is true.

If you’ve ever struggled to see your own worth or receive God’s grace, pick up this book. It will leave you feeling a little more whole and a lot more hopeful by story’s end.

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You can connect with Lisa on Instagram and her blog, Boondock Ramblings!

The Farmer’s Daughter is available on Amazon, along with all of Lisa’s other novels! You can read my review of her book, A New Beginning, here.

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Wishing you a weekend full of wonderful reads,

Alexandria

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Book Review & Giveaway of Luna’s Rescue!

This, week, I am so excited to share a book review and giveaway of Erica Richardson’s book, Luna’s Rescue, the first book in The Cottonwood Chronicles.

This story is an absolute, magical delight, and you won’t want to miss a chance to read it!

Read my full review and giveaway details below.

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Luna is just your average crested gecko: small, unassuming, and perfectly content with her routine of sleeping by day and enjoying fruit puree by night.

But when her family suddenly goes missing, Luna knows she must abandon the familiar and do something that no one expects of her: go on an adventure!

Along the way, she is joined by the prickly, but loveable, owl, Hoover, and the curiously quirky and ingenious wizard, Edwin. While they agree to help Luna, they also believe that, when it comes to rescuing her family, she is just too small.

But don’t lose heart! Wizard Edwin has a plan, and it’s bound to transform Luna’s adventure into something entirely unexpected…

Erica Richardson has created a charming children’s story in Luna’s Rescue, the first book in The Cottonwood Chronicles. Her characters range from the persnickety to the courageous, the quirky to the loveable, and every turn of the page is sure to bring fresh delight to readers of all ages. This is the perfect story for families to curl up with and read aloud together.

So, have you ever felt too small to face the impossible or help those you love?

What a magical coincidence! 🙂

Luna’s Rescue is the perfect adventure for you.

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Are you ready to start this magical adventure? Head to my Instagram to enter the giveaway for a print copy of Luna’s Rescue!

And be sure to follow along on Erica’s writing adventures by following her on Instagram!

Luna’s Rescue and the second book, Hoover’s Horn, are available on Amazon 🙂

Once you’ve finished the adventure, please review Erica’s books on Goodreads! It’s the best way to support indie authors!

This Thursday, I’ll be sharing an interview with Erica!

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from The Uncertainty of Fire

A repentant heart begs not to be turned away, but unforgiveness fights to have the final say in a young woman’s heart.

Join me for an exciting excerpt from Stephanie Daniels’ upcoming novel, The Uncertainty of Fire.

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I push the door open and trudge toward the bed.  His gray eyes—usually hard as steel, now like calm waters—meet mine. His hyena-featured face repels me as ever. Smells of leather and vinegar used to staunch the bleeding cause my eyes to water.  Instinct compels me to wipe my eyes, but I stop. Tears might help with my ruse.  I concentrate on commanding my twitching facial muscles from scowling. 

           He holds out a trembling hand.  No. I’d held his hand once through his pain and his unconsciousness. I’ll not do it again. I pick up the glass of water at his bedside and shove it in his hand pretending to believe that is what he wants.  His brow wrinkles in confusion, but struggling, he lifts the glass to his lips. I straighten the coverlet, unwilling to aid him in his task.

           He props up on his elbows, the empty glass in his hand poised on the bed. “Whimsy.”

           I freeze at his use of my true name, as nettling as leeches on bare skin. 

  “I didn’t think you’d come.  Did Colin convince you?  I’m a changed man. I can’t believe God can forgive me for all I done.  For what I done to Co–“

           He chokes on his words and grunts in pain, then he grips the bandage on his side. His body goes rigid then quakes and seizes. His features twist, then relax.

I thought I’d be happy to see him brought low. To be humbled as he had often humbled me.

           “For what I done to you.” Wheezing breaths follow his finished statement.

           My pounding heartbeat thuds in my ears. Maybe it will block out his words. But I stand defiant, waiting to say my part and never face him again.

           “God’s forgiven me. Colin’s forgiven me,” Mattie rasps.

            I cast my gaze downward. 

“I can die in peace now.  Well, almost. I know I’ve done wrong. And it must be hard to listen to me say this.” 

           He has something right at least.

            “But if you can. Please. Forgive me.”  

           The pallor of his face pales, as if the effort of his words drains the life from him. I raise my gaze as slowly as a hoisted flag. My fists clench then I shove them behind my back, out of his sight. I can’t risk his thinking I’ve not forgiven him and in one last moment, he reveal it to the Bradshaws.  He’ll not ruin another day of my life.  I’ll not be thrown back to the streets because of him.

           My nod is so small, I’m not sure he sees it. Will I need to say the words? I forgive you. Because I’m sure I can’t. Even if I don’t mean them.  But slight color suffuses his face, and his head drops back onto the pillow. 

“Thank you. Thank you.”  His eyes close and a tear slides down the side of his face.

           A battle as mighty as The War of the Rebellion rages inside me. Is Mattie truly a reformed man?  Had he really asked God’s forgiveness? Does he genuinely want mine? The brawling liquor-filled boy that invades my dreams doesn’t resemble the still form in the bed. The features are the same. But the hardness in the jaw has relaxed. Not a flutter behind his eyelids. Even the horse flare of the nostrils had ceased. 

             Should I forget the day he’d made a pyre of my hiding spot at the top of a lumber pile? Should I push aside the memory of his boot thrust into my back or my cheek bruised from his brutal beating?  How day after dreary day I’d dreaded how I’d sidestep his aggression? 

           No.  I will not. I cannot. God cannot expect this of me, even if Colin did.

           Mattie’s breathing slows. His face flushes as hot as the irons I’ve left on the cook-stove.

  I creep from the room, ridding my features of any trace of anger in case Colin waits on the other side of the door. Which of course, he does. 

           Clicking the door shut behind me, Colin steps close, peering down into my face. “How was he?  Did you do it?”

           My eyes still damp from the medicinal smells, I glance at Colin and muster my sweetest smile. “Yes.” 

           Better not to say too much in case my anger spills over.  Anger at tending to that man. Anger at Colin and the Bradshaws for requiring this of me. To hold my security and peace of mind ransom so that the brute in that bedroom could die unburdened before his Creator?

           I push past Colin, escaping downstairs away from his praise and relief before my face clouds with emotions he’ll read all too well.

            I duck into the butler’s pantry, grabbing an unused apron to swab the real tears I’d tamped down. I breathe in, then expel a shuddering breath that causes the silver to sway and tinkle. This heavy iron cauldron in my chest is Mattie’s fault. I’m sure it is. But Mattie is near to death, unable to harm me. And his sorrow, much to my dismay, seems real, unfeigned, genuine, despite my doubts.  Why then, did the heaviness continue?  Why does my chest burn like I’m unable to breathe? Can it be that Mattie isn’t the only one that carries a burden in need of release?

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Be sure to join Stephanie for all the exciting writing adventures to come! You can follow her on Instagram and her blog!

Thank you to all of the wonderful authors who have joined me so far this month! It has been an absolute joy to share your stories 🙂

Next week, Erica Richardson is joining us for an interview and exciting giveaway of her book, Luna’s Rescue, the first installment of The Cottonwood Chronicles! You won’t want to miss it!

I’ll meet you back here then!

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Evergreen and the Silver Tree

A mystery waits to be solved.

A fantasy world waits to be explored.

Are you ready for the adventure?

Good 🙂

Enjoy this special excerpt of Jessica Smith’s upcoming novel, Evergreen and the Silver Tree.

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Evergreen looked at the table Abby was pointing to. The table reserved for the Senior prom king and queen’s crowns. There were two crowns sitting on the table. One was a fairly plain black metal crown for the prom king. But the other crown was a golden band speckled with striking emerald stones in the shape of small leaves.


The Senior Class President came up to the table, appearing frazzled even in her sleek, black dress. “Don’t ask me how that emerald crown got there. I have no clue. The school ordered a silver tiara with some fake, I repeat, fake diamonds for the prom queen. That fake tiara was sitting right there only a few minutes ago, and now it’s gone, and I’m pretty sure these emeralds are real, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve looked everywhere for the tiara the school bought and paid for, and I’m responsible for it, so if you see it…please let me know.” With that, she turned on her heels.


Evergreen and Abby focused their attention on the emerald crown.


“Well, I think this is much prettier than the other tiara would have been,” said Abby.


Evergreen nodded and mumbled, “It’s very pretty.”


Whoever designed this crown was a master of the art. The emerald leaves were gorgeous. Evergreen was captivated, unable to peel her eyes away from the emerald stones. She resisted the urge to touch it, to pick it up and place it on her head.


“Pretty green leaves,” Evergreen said.


Green. Her nickname—the nickname her first-grade teacher, Ms. Nell, had called her.

Oh, poor Ms. Nell.


And Madeline. And Henry.


Missing. Lost. Gone.


Mrs. Dale. Heartbroken. Hurting.

Crushed.


“Um, Evergreen?” Abby’s voice sounded faint, like she was a long distance away. “You’re zoning out. Is everything okay?”


Evergreen tried to come to, but even the loud music inside the auditorium began to fade, until all was quiet. She felt herself being pulled, sucked through a tunnel inside her mind. Her vision blurred, and then—


“Where am I?” She sat upon a familiar rock upon a cliff overlooking a forest of pine trees. Only a few feet in front of her were her first-grade classmates. And Ms. Nell.


She was back at Purple Fire Park.


She looked down at her clothes. The same clothes she had worn the day of the field trip. And suddenly, she realized she had been shrunk into a first-grader again.


Looking to her right, Evergreen saw a boy isolating himself from Ms. Nell’s class. Henry!


Henry. Mrs. Dale’s son. He was quietly eating his lunch.


Evergreen looked down at her classmates. They, too, were eating their lunches, smiling and laughing and as happy as they could be. Every part of them, from their features, to the texture of their hair, to the precise color of their clothing was right there in front of Evergreen’s eyes.


She had dreamed about this before, but never so vividly. The memory of her former classmates had always been hazy, but now, it was as if she had crawled into the dark corners of her mind and unlocked the memories of the field trip completely.


Evergreen heard crying and turned her head. It was Henry. Tears streamed down Henry’s face.


This didn’t happen at the field trip, she thought.


Evergreen stood up and walked closer. Henry wasn’t just crying; he was speaking.


“Help me. Help me. Please, somebody help me.” Henry’s voice was weak. So weak.


“Henry?” Evergreen asked. “Wh—what’s wrong?”


She gasped and took a couple of steps back when Henry locked eyes with her own. His gray eyes pleaded. “Help me. Help me. Please, somebody help me.”

Another nightmare. That’s what this had to be. Except this was a nightmare Evergreen had never had before.


Like in a lucid dream, Evergreen could control what she said and where she went. “I can’t help you,” she told Henry. “You’re—You’re gone. You’re not really here.”


“Help me,” Henry said with more strength. “Help me. Please, somebody help me.”


“But I can’t,” Evergreen said.


“Help me, help me, please somebody help me! Help me, help me, please somebody help me! Help me, help me, please somebody help me! Help me, help me, please somebody help me!”


Again and again and again, Henry yelled.


Evergreen covered her ears. “Stop shouting at me. Stop it!”


Henry fell silent. Once more, he whispered, “Help.”


Evergreen’s vision and hearing became clear again. The music blared, and she found herself standing in front of the table where the emerald crown lay. However, her hands were pressed firmly to her ears, as though she really had heard Henry’s pleas for help. Had it been a dream? It couldn’t have been a dream. Evergreen hadn’t been sleeping. What happened? What was that?

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Longing to know more?

Evergreen and the Silver Tree is not published yet, but you can support Jessica on her writing adventures (and find out the moment it’s available!) by following her on Instagram or her blog, Christine’s Smithereens!

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Next week, I’ll be sharing an interview with Stephanie Daniels! If you know anyone who loves YA historical fiction that’s deeply rooted in faith, please let them know!

I hope your weekend is filled with wonderful books!

Alexandria

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Free: Book Review and Excerpt!

Today is an exciting day in the bookish world!

I had the pleasure of being on the launch team for Careena Campbell’s debut novel, Free.

If you’re looking for an adventure on the high seas, full of hope and the promise of true freedom, this YA Christian historical fiction novel is the perfect book for you!

Read my full review below, and get swept up in the adventure for yourself in a special excerpt of the story 😊

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Very few books allow you to encounter freedom, and Free is certainly one of them.

As the book opens, readers are introduced to a young woman named Ruth, who is forced into service on a merchant ship. Fearful and confused, she still manages to bring a pure heart and joyful spirit to every trial and adventure she faces on the high seas.

Still, despite her abundance of both kindness and patience, the men remain resistant, confused by her unwavering faith and uncommon humility towards those who have treated her so unfairly.

But freedom can come to the hardest of hearts, and hope remains that, one day, Ruth will find herself in the company of those who know they are wholeheartedly free.

Careena Campbell has penned an exceptional tale, full of adventure, high stakes on storm-tossed waves, and, above all, the longing for freedom and a place to belong.

With characters rich in faith, internal struggles, perseverance, and humility, Careena has crafted a book perfectly suited to lovers of YA historical fiction, and, at the same time, produced that rare thing: a story that leaves readers with hearts wide open to the miraculous and full of faith that they, too, can be free.

Read an excerpt from Free below:

Ruth limped the few short steps to the edge of the ship. Her hands floated up to the railing as she gazed upwards. The night sky was encrusted with millions of brilliant stars, each twinkling one after the other. They stretched out all the way to the horizon, where they cast their reflections over the ocean. The sea, like a great blue blanket covered with shining sapphires, rocked back and forth as the wind gently caressed its water. The waves seemed to sigh in contentment, as if they were settling down to sleep, as they softly swooshed over each other.

Ruth’s heart beat fast as she was overtaken with the beauty and the majesty of God’s creation. She could not resist praising and thanking the Creator of this breathtaking scene, and her awe bubbled over in soft song. 

“This is my Father’s world, 

and to my list’ning ears,

All nature sings and round me rings

 The music of the spheres…”

The nearby sailors turned, surprised to hear the gentle strains of a song floating from the ship’s edge. 

  “…This is my Father’s world, 

I rest me in the thought,

  Of rocks and trees of skies and seas—

  His hand the wonders wrought…”

For a moment, they watched the maiden fairly sing. Why was she so calm? Didn’t she understand the danger they were facing? 

But Ruth, for once, did not even notice them. She was swept up in the beauty of God’s peace. 

She reflected on her own situation as she sang the final verse:

  “This is my Father’s world; 

O let me ne’er forget

  That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

  God is the ruler yet. 

  “This is my Father’s world! 

The battle is not done!

  Jesus who died shall be satisfied, 

  And earth and heav’n be one.

“Yes,” Ruth thought. “The battle is not done. God isn’t finished with me, and He’s not finished with the sailors, either. I will press on. I know He is still working!” 

Ruth’s heart swelled with joy and contentment. Leaning out over the ship’s railing, she folded her hands to pray. “Lord,” she whispered, “please bless the sailors and help them to come to know You. And help me to be brave even when things aren’t this peaceful. Amen.” 

Ruth straightened up and smiled as she returned to her room for the night. Now she felt she could face her future, for God had reminded her of His presence. 

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Free releases this Thursday, March 11th! You can help Careena celebrate release day by pre-ordering Free and adding it on Goodreads!

You can learn more about Careena and connect with her on The Anchored Writer.

And don’t miss my interview with Careena this Thursday!

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Lots of exciting new things are beginning on 21:25 Books! Watch for announcements on Instagram 📖🌹

Wishing you happy reads,

Alexandria

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Installment Nine of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

The end of Part Two: Winter approaches, dear Reader. But, perhaps, it arrives with a little bit of light.

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Join the Fight for Wonder

What will you receive when you subscribe?

  • Four weekly installments of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, a wintry tale sure to spark your sense of wonder.
  • Illustrations to accompany each installment
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  • Access to all past and future installments of the story, as long as you remain a subscriber!

Or, if you prefer a print copy, we are happily releasing our unique, manuscript edition of the story! This edition of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel is done in beautiful manuscript form, printed on paper from The French Paper Co. and bound with waxed thread imported from Northern Ireland, giving readers a unique, collector’s first edition.

Please contact us if you’re interested in the manuscript edition or click below to subscribe for digital installments!

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Even When You Can’t See It

Have you ever longed to know the ending of a story a few hundred pages before The End?

Have you ever longed to see the finished painting before the first brush strokes reach the canvas?

Maybe God’s given you a calling, a dream, a drive to do something for His glory and His Kingdom.

But here you are, still at square one, with the vision so clear in your mind and seemingly invisible in the physical world.

Oh, I have been there.

I am there.

Are you?

Here is what God’s been teaching me in what I recently heard Dr. Sam Chand call “the messy middle,” that place between, where you’ve received your dream, but aren’t seeing fruit yet.

Yet.

Isn’t that the key word?

The one all our hope is hinged on?

It’s not bearing fruit yet.

On November 24th, I wrote these words:

“I’m so thankful for all You’re doing, both what I can see and what I cannot.”

Then, on Dec. 29th, I wrote this prayer in my planner: “Can’t believe how You’re moving, God. In ways I see and ways I can’t.”

God’s been weaving this lesson through my days. He weaves it through every one of yours.

I am moving, both when you can see it and when you can’t.

This is what He speaks over us, sons and daughters of the King who orchestrates everything, a perfect symphony.

He does all things well.

And this is what we can rest in, no matter how long we’ve been waiting:

We’ll always wait in good company. He never leaves.

And He is always working.

Even when we don’t understand.

Even when we can’t fathom what comes next.

Even when we can’t see it.

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I hope this encourages you, friends!

Please share below: what are you waiting on or struggling to see? How have you witnessed God at work?

I’d love for us to pray for and encourage one another!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Alexandria

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Installment Eight of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Welcome to Installment Eight, reader, in which a maze is entered and the way is lost.

Choose your next step carefully, and read on…

Join the Fight for Wonder

Here is everything you’ll receive when you subscribe:

  • Weekly installments of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel
  • Illustrations to accompany the story
  • A chance to win an art print of your favorite illustration (details here)
  • Access to all past and future book releases, as long as you remain a subscriber!
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An Excerpt from Installment Six of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

This week, it is my delight to share with you an excerpt from the next installment of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, where a mystery awaits at stairway’s end…

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Before another question could escape her, Aira padded through the crisp snow to walk beside her. “We are nearly there. Follow me closely, Penelope Grace.”

Anticipation raced from one to the next, filling them all, making their steps quicken as they drew near to a frozen lake, quite different from the persistently running river that Penelope saw was its source. Perhaps a dozen feet separated the two bodies of water, and Penelope gasped in delight as she saw the rushing water transform into frozen rivulets that created a crystalline path to the lake.

At the center of the lake, some four feet apart, were two beautiful swans, crafted from what looked to be blown glass.

Penelope Grace stood at the water’s edge, a small smile on her face. “How beautiful,” she whispered.

“Aye,” Aira agreed. “But what lies beneath is altogether more wonderful.”

Tilly trotted up. “I’m so glad we can agree on somethin’, Aira,” she said, her small teeth flashing as she let out a high-pitched yowl as if announcing their arrival.

Penelope waited with bated breath, but nothing happened at first. Then, the graceful birds began to turn in an ever-widening circle across the lake’s icy surface. They reminded Penelope of clockwork animals as they drew closer and closer to the shore, leaving behind them a wide opening in the lake. 

At last, one swan ceased its glide across the lake directly in front of their company. Just behind it, the surface of the lake had disappeared to reveal a set of stairs carved out of ice and stone. They reminded Penelope Grace of the creaky wooden stairs on the second floor of her home, not for their appearance, but for the way each drew you in, whispering to you of what might be found at stairway’s end.

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What do you think awaits Penelope Grace at the bottom of the stairs?

Join the fight for wonder and find out this Friday.

Here’s all the info you need to know about subscribing!

For $3.99/month, you’ll receive…

  • Four weekly installments of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel
  • Illustrations to accompany the story
  • Entry into a giveaway for an art print of your favorite illustration
  • Access to all past and future book releases, as long as you’re a subscriber

Until Friday,

Alexandria

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Book Review: The Princess Companion

What a wonderful story this was! I’m thrilled to share my review of The Princess Companion with you all today and sincerely hope you grab a copy for yourself! Read my full review below (and can we all take a moment to admire that gorgeous cover?!).

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The kingdom of Arcadia is failing.

Chaos and unrest are brewing on every side, but the Queen, believing herself a failure, knows just who to turn to: a fairy godmother, who aided her once, many years ago…

Alyssa is just a woodcutter’s daughter, unseen by many, in search of work. But when she is separated from her companions one night and happens upon the Winter Castle, Alyssa finds herself unexpectedly employed as the Companion to the young princesses, Lily and Sophie.

Yet, there is more going on in the royal family than meets the eye. Prince Maximillian is being groomed for the throne, but as he and Alyssa grow closer, he only grows more restless, for the King and Queen are determined to see him marry royalty, a true princess worthy of the crown and the kingdom.

But, perhaps, the truest princess, unassuming and kind, has been among them all this time…

Melanie Cellier has crafted a refreshing and delightful take on The Princess and the Pea. This story is full of the villainous and valiant alike and breathes fresh life into an often overlooked fairy tale. Yet, for all its wonderful characters, twists, and turns, The Princess Companion is most to be cherished for the way it invites readers to believe once again, or, perhaps, for the very first time, that true love conquers all.

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You can connect with Melanie Cellier on Goodreads, Instagram, and her website, where you can subscribe to her newsletter and receive regular updates on all things bookish!

The Princess Companion (and all the other wonderful books in The Four Kingdoms series) can be found on Bookshop and Amazon.

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Last week, Part One: Christmas of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel came to a close. This Friday, the next part of the adventure begins in Part Two: Winter. Join the fight for wonder below and receive weekly installments of the story!

Happy reading, everyone!

Alexandria