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An Excerpt from the Final Installment of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

The final excerpt from Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel is here, and the last stand against all that seeks to destroy wonder is about to take place.

Are you ready for one last adventure?

Then read on.

*

The next two days passed by in a haze of preparation for others and confusion for Penelope Grace. Please do not misunderstand me, reader; Penelope helped where she could, refusing to sit idle because of her fear of the coming confrontation, but fear it she did.

All others in the camp seemed so assured to her eyes, so confident that they would meet their foes head-on, no matter the cost to themselves. And Penelope fully intended to join them in their efforts.

She thought not at all of turning back, only of failing.

As the hours passed, she became more and more convinced of her own inability to face Denagon and emerge victoriously. She was too weak, too inexperienced, too young. How could they ask this of her and expect any other outcome but defeat?

Denagon’s power was too immense in comparison to her little strength, and whatever Apricity she carried, Penelope dared not believe that it was enough.

Even as she served alongside others, her thoughts swirled around this doubtful center, and her fear grew, and her faith dwindled.

Aira noticed the change in her but chose to wait still, knowing that it was something Penelope would have to understand in her own time. Tilly, likewise, noticed the girl’s darkening mood and decided that enough was enough.

She plopped down next to Penelope Grace on the darkening evening of the second day and looked her squarely in the face. “Don’t ye think it’s high time to stop feelin’ sorry for yerself?”

Penelope flinched at the reminder of the fox’s harsh words in the tower room of Svarthol and had no answer for the bold fox.

Tilly pressed on, undeterred. “Well? What’s troublin’ ye so?”

She stared at Tilly for a moment more before the words flooded out, her words only whispered. “You said it yourself, Tilly. ‘Fool of a girl.’ And you were right. It was foolish to barricade us in the tower, thinking we were safe, that I had somehow outsmarted him.

“It was foolish to believe that I could best him.” She paused. “You should have seen it, Tilly, the way the darkness swept over the land.”

For a moment, Penelope Grace stared into the fire before them, and Tilly waited, knowing they’d yet to reach the heart of the matter. “I was so relieved when we made it here, Tilly. But over the last two days, I find myself wondering. Our camp seems so large, and there are so many here who are willing to fight for Ellura. But having seen the darkness, having seen Denagon face-to-face, I can’t help but wonder, is it enough? Am I?”

*

Are you wondering along with Penelope Grace?

You can read the story by subscribing below for digital installments OR by clicking here to receive a special manuscript edition of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, printed on beautiful paper from The French Paper Co. and bound with waxed thread imported from Ireland.

GIVEAWAY: Through this Friday, Feb. 26th, everyone who purchases a copy will be entered to win an art print of one illustration from the book! You can see the artwork on Instagram.

U.S. only. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress or Instagram.

Until this Friday, when the fight for wonder comes to a close,

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Installment Eleven of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

This week, dangers abound and Penelope Grace and her friends are desperately seeking refuge.

Do you suppose they’ll find it?

*

The companions were just reaching the rise of a crisp snowbank when the other snow sprites appeared, speaking so quickly in their small voices that Penelope Grace failed to catch the words. But Aralie understood their warning, and she turned to the others. “Denagon’s creatures are ahead, moving to cut us off. They must have spotted us from above. We must change course. Follow me!”

She darted to the right, and they rushed to keep pace with her as she flew ahead. Penelope could hardly breathe for the biting wind and her own exhaustion. Her legs felt weak beneath her, but she pushed on, knowing that if she could reach the camp, she could rest. But the thought of rest only made her feel more sluggish, and she stumbled despite her best efforts.

Immediately, Aira was there, speaking encouraging words and helping her to stand once more. “Think of Georgie, Penelope Grace. Think of your family, and run with me.”

With a ragged breath, she nodded, praying that the camp was not far and that her feet would carry her the distance. She barely made it several paces before a cry sounded from above, alerting them all to the presence of Denagon’s winged slaves.

Penelope risked a glance up just as the creature swooped down towards her. Though she dodged in time, its jagged claws snagged on the hood of her cloak, and she lost her balance in the deepening snow.

Scrambling to her feet as the creature screamed in frustration, Penelope whirled around to face the next attack just as the snow sprites shot past her. Penelope Grace’s eyes widened as she watched their remarkable work, unaware until now what the sprites were capable of.

Before her, a wall of thick, swirling snow appeared, blinding the enemies pursuing from behind and affording Penelope and her companions safe passage, if only for a short time.

Aralie came to hover before Penelope’s eyes. “Hurry now! The camp is not far from here, but the further away we fly, the more fragile the wall will become.”

With that, they were off. Penelope could see Elafry and the others racing ahead of her through the trees. They ran a great distance, yet Penelope still saw no sign of the camp. The trees nearby looked hazy, and it was not long before she could hardly make them out at all. In fact, the whole forest about her was fading from sight, hidden by a blanketing of white.

Nevertheless, she could clearly see the faint blue light of the snow sprites flying just ahead, which proved enough. Moments later, the snow sprites halted, and the others along with them. Penelope Grace could see nothing but white in front of them, and for a moment, she could not comprehend what she was looking at.

Understanding came in a flash. Though the snow was spinning so quickly that it seemed to be at a standstill, moving it was, in an impossibly high wall in front of them. It was similar to the wall of snow that the sprites had conjured to throw off their pursuers, but what rose before them seemed altogether impenetrable in comparison.

Briefly, Penelope caught sight of flickering blue light through the swirling snow. “What is this, Aralie?” she asked.

The snow sprite flew so near to Penelope that she could feel the breeze created by her beating wings. “This is our camp, Penelope, hidden by snow. No slave of the enemy can pass through this wall. You and your friends may pass through without fear.”

Tilly trotted through with no hesitation, her courage undaunted by the impressive sight. Penelope, however, remained still. Noticing her hesitation, Aralie said, “The snow will not harm you. It only prevents our enemies from entering.” And with that, the snow sprite flitted through the snow, as if to prove the truthfulness of her words.

Taking a deep breath, Penelope Grace passed through the snow. For a minute, the world was purest white, and then she stepped through into a sprawling camp that must have stretched two miles at least.

Everyone from the stronghold was here, and more. Fires were blazing at regular intervals, and the smell of warm food soon reached her. Penelope Grace nearly collapsed with relief. The war against Denagon was far from over, but for the moment, she was surrounded by friends and roaring fires, and she was safe.

*

Installment Eleven publishes this Friday, and then only one more installment remains.

I would so love for you to embark on this journey of wonder with us. It’s hard to believe wonder still exists in all the madness of the world right now, but I believe we need wonder the most when it’s most difficult to feel.

This year, I’m sharing a unique manuscript edition of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, printed on beautiful paper from The French Paper Co., and bound with waxed thread imported from Northern Ireland. If you’d love to have a physical copy of this winter tale of wonder, please head to our contact page and get in touch.

Holding on to wonder with you,

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Installment Eight of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Dangers abound for Penelope Grace and her friends.

Only one question remains.

Will you brave the dangers with them, reader?

*

Below them stretched a dark, endless valley that no sunlight seemed to reach. 

Nothing grew there. The valley was stunted and barren, its flat expanse only broken by the twisted stronghold that rose up in its center like a scar on the land. Its towers, made of black, implacable rock, rose up. Ice smothered every surface, and in this view, Penelope Grace could see what people feared in her favorite season.

Svarthol was the long, dreaded march of endless winter, without the promise of new life to come.

Tilly interrupted her thoughts. “Are ye ready, Penelope Grace?”

“Yes,” she whispered, taking a deep breath as she continued to gaze down into the valley. “I don’t suppose daylight will be too helpful to us in there.”

“Aye. But ye have Light of an altogether differen’ sort to guide ye. Let’s be off,” Tilly concluded, not explaining her words as she trotted down the only rutted path to Svarthol.

Once they entered the valley, Penelope Grace was horribly on edge, though there were none of the dangers she had anticipated. None of Denagon’s creatures lurked behind the dry husks of once tall trees. Nothing stalked them or sought to prevent their progress on the long stretch to Svarthol’s entrance.

The valley was desolate and still, and Penelope was all the more terrified because of it.

Something was not right. 

A vast expanse of land still separated them from Svarthol’s gates when Penelope Grace stopped short and whirled around, knowing that she had heard the whisper of something behind her.

“Tilly…”

The fox saw it and barked a warning that was drowned out by the roar of bursting earth and the dull murmur of creeping vines.

They were separated before a thing could be done. 

Nearly choking on the dusty earth clouding the air, Penelope cried out, “Tilly!”

No answer. 

Tilly!

She spun about, peering through the dust-choked air for some sign of her friend. Reaching forward to keep herself steady, Penelope’s finger scraped against something sharp, and she jerked back in pain. 

She stood still, breathing hard, listening, and waiting. 

But when the dust at last cleared, Penelope Grace was alone, just as she had feared, shut in by a twisting maze of bracken and thorns.

*

What awaits Penelope Grace in the maze will be uncovered this Friday in Installment Eight of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel. You can subscribe below to receive installments of the story!

What will you receive when you subscribe? I’m so glad you asked! 🙂

  • Four 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 (read all the details here)
  • Unlimited access to all past and future book releases, as long as you remain a subscriber!

So, what do you say?

Until this Friday,

Alexandria

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Installment Seven of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

With this week comes dark attackers and a desperate flight through a frozen forest.

Gather your courage, and read on.

Join the Fight for Wonder

Subscribe below to receive weekly installments of our winter tale of wonder.

Wondering what you’ll receive when you subscribe? Here’s all the information you need:

  • Four weekly installments of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel
  • Illustrations to accompany the story
  • Entry to our giveaway to win an art print of your favorite illustration (details here)
  • Access to all past and future book releases from 21:25 Books, as long as you remain a subscriber
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Installment Five: Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

It’s time for the next installment of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, and it promises to be an enchanting one!

In case you missed the announcement yesterday, I will be giving away an art print of one of the illustrations that accompany this story to one subscriber!

All the details can be found here, and as a special treat, everyone can see this week’s illustration below:

The Winter Carousel

Now, let the tale of wonder continue!

Subscribe and Join the Fight for Wonder!

What do you get when you subscribe?

Four weekly installments of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, illustrations to accompany the story, and the chance to win one art print of your favorite illustration!

You’ll also have access to all past and future book releases, as long as you remain a subscriber.

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Giveaway: Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Happy Thursday, everyone!

It’s finally time to share the giveaway that I’m hosting for our subscribers, and I’m so excited! 🙂

I’ll be giving away an art print of one of the illustrations that accompany Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel! Above is a sneak peek of the illustration that goes with this week’s installment.

The winner may choose their favorite illustration and a physical copy will be sent to them!

Here are all the details:

  1. This giveaway is open to all those who subscribe to receive weekly installments of Penelope Grace! (You can subscribe below for $3.99/month!) What do you get when you subscribe? Four weekly installments, their accompanying illustrations, and access to all past and future book releases, as long as you remain a subscriber!
  2. The giveaway will be open until February 18th and the winner will be announced on February 22nd! Winner will be randomly selected.
  3. The nitty gritty: This giveaway isn’t affiliated with WordPress. You must be 18 or older. US only. Void where prohibited. Winner will be contacted via email. No personal information will be used or shared.

That’s all! I’m really excited to be sharing this story with you all 🙂 The next installment will be available tomorrow!

Until then,

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Installment Five of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

This week, Penelope Grace is about to make an altogether wondrous discovery. Read the start of the adventure below, then return here this Friday for the unveiling of the winter carousel…

*

With a deep breath, Penelope Grace ducked beneath the lowest-hanging branches and stepped into the forest.

It was not long before she realized that they were, indeed, still following a path. Though it was worn and covered in thick patches of ice and snow, it was there, and it offered Penelope a measure of comfort. 

The wolf followed faithfully behind, watchful for any danger. 

But they were alone in this winter forest, and Penelope and the wolf continued on quietly, both understanding that the silence of this place was sacred and worth leaving undisturbed.

They walked in this way for some time, until, all of a sudden, the wolf trotted ahead of her.

Penelope could feel the creature’s expectation fill her as well, and her heart began to beat faster as they approached a clearing in the forest. 

Without warning, the wolf ran forward, gracefully maneuvering the small gap in the trees that marked the entrance to the clearing, and Penelope followed suit.

Gently pushing aside the branches of an evergreen, Penelope Grace stepped into the clearing and found that she could not take another step. She was stunned and enchanted.

On the opposite side of the clearing stood an ice-blue carousel, covered in snow.

She could see from this distance that ice had coated the carousel’s gleaming silver poles, while patches of snow disguised the carousel’s animals. Only the moonlight illuminated it, setting countless glittering snowflakes ablaze, and Penelope Grace admired its reflected light.

The carousel looked as if it had been forgotten for a hundred endless winters until the ice and snow had come to cover it and claim the carousel for its own. Almost, it seemed wrong to do anything but leave it untouched.

The wolf thought otherwise.

It came to stand behind Penelope and nudged her forward.

*

But what happens next, you ask?

Only two more days to wait 😉

You can join the fight for wonder below!

You’ll receive four weekly installments of the story, exclusive illustrations, and have the chance to win an exciting giveaway, which will be announced tomorrow on our social media (@2125Books).

You’ll also have unlimited access to all past and future book releases, so you can read past installments at any pace you like, as long as you remain a subscriber!

Sound fun?!

In the meantime, why do you think the wolf led Penelope to the carousel? I’d love to hear your guesses!

Until Friday,

Alexandria

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Installment Four of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Welcome to Installment Four of this most wonder-filled tale, Reader, in which Penelope Grace discovers an unexpected friend.

Join the Fight for Wonder

Read Penelope Grace’s adventures and discover the fate of wonder for yourself…

When you subscribe, you’ll receive four weekly installments each month, illustrations to accompany the adventure, and the chance to win an exciting giveaway, which will be announced next week!

You’ll also have unlimited access to all of our past and future publications, so you can read our stories at any pace you like 🙂

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An Excerpt from Installment Four of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Welcome to Part Two: Winter, being the second part of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the story.

*

She kept hoping her mother would turn around or that Georgie would return to the family room, ready to plead with their father once more with his usual mischievous grin.

No one appeared.

Penelope Grace, now alone with her father, summoned up her remaining courage and went to him. His back faced the rest of the room, and she nearly lost her nerve but made herself speak in the end.

“Papa, would you sit with me awhile?”

He did not stir.

“Papa?”

She waited a few moments for his response, though it hurt her to know how oblivious he was to her. 

When it was long past obvious that she would get no answer from her father tonight, Penelope, at last, followed in Georgie’s and her mother’s footsteps.

She stopped at the foot of the staircase when a faint touch of frigid air swept past her. The cold never troubled Penelope Grace, but it was unnatural to feel its touch indoors.

Wondering at the cause of it, Penelope searched the lower half of the house for an improperly latched window but found no such thing.

Frowning at the unwelcome mystery, she returned to the stairs, troubled, but at a loss for any sort of explanation. 

For every step Penelope Grace took, the air grew colder. Halfway up, she snatched her hand back from the banister with a sharp intake of breath. The light was dim, but she could still make out a small patch of ice, which was slowly expanding to cover the length of the polished wood.

Penelope stepped back, frightened and confused by what was happening. Her breath came in visible, panicked gasps as she rushed up the last of the stairs, the only way she could think of to escape the cold and ice.

Escape is rarely so simple.

A fresh gust of wind struck Penelope just as she reached the landing. Her eyes widening in horror, she barely succeeded in stifling a cry as she watched frost begin to curl its way around the pattern on the wallpaper.

It was the first time that Penelope remembered thinking of ice as something cruel.

*

Installment Four publishes this Friday, Jan. 1st, and the fight for wonder is growing more dangerous than ever. Who knows what might happen next?

Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll receive four installments each month, illustrations that accompany the story, and the chance to win an exciting giveaway (announcement coming soon)! You’ll also have access to all past and future installments of our stories, so you can read them at any pace you like 🙂

Happy reading!

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?!).

*

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.

*

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.

*

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