#EnterTheFantastic with #WyrdAndWonder as #JorieReads | Book Review of “The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars” by K. Parr

Posted Tuesday, 28 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: Earlier this Spring, I participated in an event uniting book bloggers and Indie Authors called #ReviewPit. One of the authors I discovered during this event was K. Parr – her s/o about the novel on Twitter was most enticing (see also tweet) but it was the premise which captured me the most – this was another LGBTQ+ selection and published by NineStar Press (the publisher who published “Adrift” by Isabelle Adler) wherein I had a lovely convo with the author before I accepted this novel for review consideration. Since the author and I both lost some hours and months between #reviewpit and #wyrdandwonder – I nearly felt my migraines might have wrecked my chance to share my review during the event. Blessedly this was not the case but I did have to postpone the guest feature I wanted to run concurrently to the review itself.

I was seeking stories during #ReviewPit which caught my eye for their uniqueness but also what was quite lovely is how most of the stories which intrigued me to read were actually within the realms of Fantasy! I found this wicked interesting and it is why I was thankful during #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 I could continue to celebrate my love of Indie Authors & Indie Publishers and Press!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars” direct from the author K. Parr in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

The joy of another LGBTQ+ story during #ReviewPit:

When I first learnt of the #bookishTwitter event #ReviewPit, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect – I keep a watchful eye on twitterverse events where writers are seeking betareaders or where authors are seeking publication (ie. #PitchWars, etc) as I generally find #newtomeauthors this way and I do like to champion the writers who are on their path towards becoming published as this is something I can personally relate to as I’m a writer whose currently moonlighting as a book blogger and joyful tweeter! It is lovely to reach out into the Indie community on Twitter and continue to seek out the stories I desire to be reading. Ever since I first started blogging here at Jorie Loves A Story, I’ve had an eye out for Indie Press, Publishers and the writers who are seeking alternative publication – either through the Indie side of publishing directly through established publishers and press; or through Small Trade publishers or taking the full-Indie route into Self-Publishing or Hybrid publishing options.

This is what made #ReviewPit such a keen event for me – I decided to just jump into it and see what I would find. It is run similar to other events where you get a pitch about a story and you are given a clue of a nod towards its genre of interest. I quite literally had such a wicked joy just scrolling through all the lovelies being offered, I wasn’t entirely sure how many would be available to receive as print editions for review but I decided to give myself the chance to just seek out the authors first and request which ones were available lateron.

The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars appealled to me on different levels of interest as I was curious about how the f/f romance would play out in a Dark Fantasy world. Whilst at the same time, I do like Fantasy stories which involve a quest combined with a coming-of age plotting. I was curious to see what I would find inside the novel and if this would become a story I would love reading.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

#EnterTheFantastic with #WyrdAndWonder as #JorieReads | Book Review of “The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars” by K.  ParrThe Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars
by K. Parr
Source: #ReviewPit Author, Direct from Author

After being orphaned and forced to work as a palace slave, fifteen-year-old Rasha decides to end her life, but when she plunges a knife into her chest, she doesn’t die. Instead, a strange, icy power possesses her. The last time it took over, someone got hurt, and Rasha can’t let that happen again.

But she’s got bigger problems. Her twin brother is alive, yet held captive by Solaris, a powerful sorcerer. When Rasha runs into Adriana, the selfish princess she once served, they discover Solaris is a common enemy since he destroyed the palace and kidnapped Adriana’s parents.

Together, Rasha and Adriana set out on a rescue mission. Personalities clash and tempers flare, but other feelings surface as well, feelings neither girl could have predicted. And with the help of a ragtag group of companions, they might just be able to succeed on their quest…until an ancient evil emerges to wreak vengeance on their world.

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical-Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, YA Fantasy

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1950412327

Published by NineStar Press

on 4th March, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 351

Published by: NineStar Press (@ninestarpress)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #LGBTQ + #DarkFantasy and #NineStarPress

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

About K. Parr

K. Parr

K is a writer of multiple genres, including Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Humor, all of which star LGBT characters. She received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2017.

In her spare time, K reads and writes fanfiction, keeps up with way too many TV shows, and dances wildly in her apartment. She currently works as a teen librarian in Rhode Island.

Photo Credit: Samantha Barney, 2018

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

ahead of accepting my #reviewpit selections I enquired about the stories:

Whenever I am about to read a #newtomeauthor, I like to get a feel for their writing style and how they are approaching their genre of interest. It is part of my due diligence as a reader and as a book blogger – however, I do not always have the pleasure nor luxury of interacting with an author directly ahead of accepting a novel for review consideration. This is why the event #ReviewPit is such a wicked lovely idea – as it encourages direct communication between the novelist and the book blogger and/or reviewer.

The question I wanted to pitch K. Parr about her novel was the following: I was burnt in the past on a supposedly younger YA novel by how graphic it became which is why I’m more openly questioning this branch of lit. I have a sensitive heart and this is why I try to temper what I read and put into my imagination. Once I read a war drama that just pushed me past the point of no return, I’ve cross-applied this to all genres which were having a similar affect on me as after all we have to stay honest with ourselves about the stories we’re reading and how they effect us.

To which she happily responded:

Violence in my book includes: a scene where a character stabs themselves in the chest, a scene where an enemy gets blown up by essentially a grenade, a scene where a character is forced to drink poison, and general swordplay between the main characters and enemies. Aside from that, there is also a reference to past physical abuse through whipping, and characters getting knocked unconscious and slightly burned.

As I wasn’t entirely sure if I could handle what was going to happen as these response felt a bit broader than I was hoping they would be answered, she did clarify them for me which I wanted to share in case anyone else was questioning the same for themselves:

  • the stabbing scene is not graphic – there’s no blood involved, actually, just the knife going into the chest
  • the blowing up scene includes a line about exploded viscera
    flying through the air and blood splattering on a few characters, but that’s it
  • the fighting scenes are fast and do not go into detail besides
    characters getting hit, and maybe a line about blood
  • the whipping happened before the story starts, and you only know
    of it because of the scars on the character’s back
  • the burning is temporary and doesn’t go into detail

From what I had gathered by this second response, I felt I was able to read the novel as it was less intense than some of the Mystery, Suspense or Thriller novels I’ve read in the past and/or less graphic than some of the previous war dramas. Overall, as I’ve been changing what I read and what I take in as a reader, I’ve become more cautious about these kinds of inclusions and I was thankful the author answered my enquiries. Perhaps my same concerns might have been similar to your own and this will help you know if you can read this novel.

I wanted to share with you my dear heart readers the information I was given per book during my #ReviewPit queries in case one of the lovelies I’ve been reading this #WyrdAndWonder is catching your own eye of curiosity! This way, you’ll see the process I went through to accept the stories and what I was most concerned about prior to reading them.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

my review of the sun and moon beneath the stars:

The scene involving the self-inflicting knife wound was the scene this novel begins upon as you can feel both the tension and the release of the oppression Rasha has felt in that moment where she felt she was ending one life in exchange for another. Not that things always go as you plan them to go, as she soon finds out but what I was thankful for was how Parr wrote the scene. It wasn’t about the infliction of death nor of the intention death, it had more to do with something else entirely and it was that something which intrigued me as it foreshadowed there is much more to this world than what appears on the surface of it.

I’m unsure if most daughters would entrust the last minute advice of a mother who hadn’t shared even a wink of a clue towards this new reality of a family legacy with them. Except to say, for Adriana with her house being destroyed in a series of explosive attacks, I am unsure what she could have done other than the bidding of her mother to send her away if only to save her from the clutches of the man who intended her family harm. It was a lot to process and who wants to even flee without their parents? There is a lot of emotions in this scene and you can feel for both of them – for the mother who wants nothing but to protect her child and husband; whilst the daughter who wants nothing more than to remain with her parents. Those are the moments where courage in the height of fear wins out.

The way in which Adriana and Rasha cross paths felt kismet because of how much these two girls are on opposite sides of the political divide in their country. Adriana was a princess and Rasha was the mistrusted and misunderstood Numenarkan. They each have something to lose and something to gain at the hands of Solaris – at this point in their journey, a whispered name which inflicts with its sound a certain level of repulsive distrust. In their world, magic has been oppressed to a near repressive state of disuse. There was as shifting in their world where the magic simply stopped occurring in the younger generations – Adriana’s Mum hinted towards this being a choice – unfortunately for her, their hasty departure left behind a sea of questions.

You could gather from Rasha, her people were not just mistreated they were despised – uniquely, you would have felt both the Eturic and Numenarkan’s might have joined together years ago due to how they had equal cause to rally against Solaris. However, the politics of this world are as complicated as our own and the intricacies of how their world hinges against the perception of alliances by different factions weighs heavily in how people perceive whom to trust as friend, foe or future enemy. This is one reason the Numenarkan’s were looked down upon – the distrust rankled the Eturic’s as they were certain the others would follow in suit with Solaris. Sadly, I have a feeling the truth of that ill-fated presumption might shock both of them.

When they encounter two boys making do with their wits and their courage to survive in the woods, both of them approach the situation a bit differently. For Rasha, cautionary optimism wasn’t her style but for Adriana, her impulsive nature was on display. Both of the girls needed to heed their own common sense but for Adriana who was a fish out of water, she didn’t take to Rasha’s advice very kindly and in the end, set them both on a course either of them might live to regret. For the boys, one was a bit brass when it came to talking to the girls mostly due to Adriana’s judging manner of making them feel less than equality whilst the other boy tried to come across as contemplative and sincere. Personally, I felt they both were up to something and were not to be trusted as easily as the girls accepted their help – it would be interesting I felt to see how Rasha would react if her fears were realised.

Parr takes her time to reveal the portions of the story where Rasha and Adriana start to address their slow burning romantic attraction to each other. It wasn’t something either of them was noticing at first – just in small gestures of feeling they were becoming attracted to one another but neither of them was truly putting the pieces together. I am unsure if their world had an open acceptance about same sex attractions as both of them seemed to be new to this kind of relationship developing between them. Most of their first feelings towards each other happened in the forest when they were trying to survive one adversity after another until of course they were cornered by those horrid lizards whose armory alone was terrifying!

You have to love authors who know how to twist your whole perception of their world – right in this moment of the story, everything you felt you understood about this world becomes upturnt! The hidden layers were there but you couldn’t put your finger on how they would spin into the foreground until Parr gives you the missing pieces of her evolving puzzle. If you take the title, the two key words are “the Sun” and “the Moon” – which I had a feeling would parlay into the plotting of the journey Rasha and Adriana would be taking but Parr elevates it by giving us a mythological Gods element which re-pivots the purpose of their journey altogether.

Your heart goes straight to Rasha – as she’s caught in a snarled net of intrigue not of her making but of the Gods of her world. She’s a mere pawn in their ensuing game of chase and catch; they want to achieve their own goals but at the sake of the lives they’ve placed in danger just to get to this point in that goal. She’s quite literally caught inside their twisted battle alongside her brother, whose been missing since they were children.

There is an encounter with water nymphs that gave you a proper pause for thought – about intruding on a creature’s habitat without fully understanding their ways of order. The water nymphs did what they felt they must do to protect themselves even though that placed all of the characters in harm’s way as they did not fully understand the ramifications of their actions. It was here where you can see how the war in this world – between the Gods and the mortals is having after effects on everyone and everything who resides here. Trust is an illusion and as the nymphs proved – trust is also something to barter with if only to find restitution in the end.

Aside from the girls and the two boys they encountered in the forest when they first set out to find Solaris – they encountered Marth, another young boy whose on his own quest for answers. He, too, was caught in the net of Solaris’s powerful takeover and he had something he needed to prove to himself as much as Rasha needed to accomplish for the sake of her brother Falcota. Each of these characters had their own reasons to trust each other but also to trust in the path they were on towards a future they could not yet comprehend plausible.

I felt it was an interesting turning to introduce Shisiri – one of the afeared ghulrenos – a female of her species who had her own mission to achieve. This is definitely a story of ‘missions’ where each new character who become introduced has their own purpose and quest to undertake; which in some ways felt a bit far fetched until you saw how they all routed towards the same end goal. Shisiri brings an unexpected element to this stage of the story – about how you shouldn’t fear your enemies without understanding who they are and what motivates them to do what they are doing against you. Her people are part of the oppressed state, where they are being forced into labour and the bidding of Solaris but without the hope of freedom from under his reign. This is a connective threading of the novel because it isn’t just the ghulrenos who feel the Gods have erased their free will and their sense of self; everyone truly has found their rights null and void.

There is a great battle of insurrection between Solaris and his sister Lunetta (ie. the Sun, the Moon) which is fuelled by the efforts of Rasha and Adriana’s ragtag team of warriors. Each of them held a piece of purpose within the final culmination of the story, however, there is a great sadness still yet to be had in order for Adriana to finally understand her own magical heritage. It is the kind of sadness that comes with acceptance of one’s fate and the abilities you find within yourself when you mature into your own skin. For Adriana, hers was a course towards her fulfillment of destiny in a world which had unfair disadvantages against her and those she would call her friends.

By the end of their quest, the only thing I felt was a bit difficult to process is how each of them had to choose their own course. I was a bit surprised that the slow burning romance which was at the heart of the narrative also did not conclude in the ways I had hoped it might. There was a nod towards a ‘happy for now’ ending but I wasn’t entirely certain if the ending I had envisioned was the ending we received. I had a lot of mixed feelings when I reached the final chapters of the novel – part of me wanted a bit more from the story and part of me was thankful it was finally concluding. Despite the issues with pacing and/or the development of the dramatic climax – when you finally reach the scene between Solaris and Lunetta you see the truer meaning behind the quest itself and why Parr wanted to impart this message to her readers.

Notations on the Content:

Blessedly, all my concerns about the graphic depictions of this story were unfounded. They are in the context of story and the ways in which Parr describes those action sequences are fittingly softer in the edgy scenes you might have expected them to become. Even when it is disclosed about the child who was previously abused by the scars you can observe, it is done in such a way as to highlight the past but not to focus on the brutality of it. I can see how the story would then appeal to a wider audience – of both Upper YA and adult readers, who want a gentler told story but with the realism of which they were seeking.

There was one scene in particular I felt might have pushed the envelope for me a bit – it refers to how Solaris treats the ghulrenos from Falcota’s perspective. I honestly could have done with less details in that scene even though thankfully Parr didn’t go overly into it, it was ‘enough’. I honestly could have dealt with it easier if one sentence had been withheld.

A note on pacing:

In the first quarter of the novel, right in the midst of the opening bridge – I felt the pacing was a bit off in the story. There was also something amiss in how the story was revealling itself to me – I think it might have been the classic case of “show not tell” where I was stumbling over how awkward some of the scenes were between the characters but also, sometimes the dialogue was rubbing me the wrong way as well. Little observations were made as I read through the narrative – little moments where I was questioning this section of the text or wondering why the flow of the story felt a bit stilted.

It wasn’t like Rasha and Adriana weren’t believable characters but of the two of them, I felt Rasha was a bit stronger in how she was portrayed over the princess. However, there were moments in the forest where I felt Rasha was compromising a bit too much of her own instincts and thereby, that was allowing Adriana to take the lead role a bit. Of the two though, I felt Rasha was clearly the leader – Adriana didn’t have the experiences Rasha had and she still was holding onto her past in such a way as she wasn’t allowing herself to ‘grow’ through this experience as much as I had hoped she could; then again, the story was just beginning and I hoped this part of herself would evolve.

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on the fantastical musings of speculative novelist k. parr:

Parr wrote this novel with a dual-narrative wherein you get to move easily between the experiences of both Rasha and Adriana. They are both on a course they did not seek out for themselves by events at the hands of someone who wishes their world harm. There is a sense of tragedy intermixing with the present – almost as if the past holds the clues of how they arrived in this present state but of which we haven’t yet been privy to find disclosed. They each feel as heavy as the other, burdened by memories, emotions and the grief which comes when your taken away from those you love the most. Each of them, I felt very early-on would have to find the courage and strength to overcome their circumstances and that for me, lead-in to a way for their paths to cross-sect and perhaps, find them able to draw strength from each other.

As the story progresses forward, Parr adds to her rag-tag group of warriors – each new character or creature becomes a new clue towards understanding the order of the world she has created. This isn’t a world built on trust nor on equality; there are many examples of oppression and of how certain people have entitled positions which allow them to have a better quality of life than others who live a more repressed life below them. In a world of in-equals, it is a bit amazing how she drew together the individuals who would lead the way towards the freedom this world needed from two Gods who were in war against each other. They had their own agendas and those agendas were being carved out of the lives by those who lived on a world without knowledge of themselves. Meaning, the people of this world had much more to give to each other but with repression of knowledge, they were without a way to understand who they were and what they could accomplish.

Equality in Lit: LGBTQ+ relationships

I knew at the heart of the story was an emerging f/f romantic arc, however, early-on whilst Rasha and Adriana were getting their bearings to move closer to Solaris, they entered into an alliance with two brothers: Bryce and Damian. Damian reveals that he doesn’t have a preference when it comes to dating (men or women) whilst Adriana doesn’t commit to which gender she is attracted only that her time to date hasn’t yet arrived (as she was meant to be seeking a match after her eighteenth birthday). I believe since Damian wasn’t particular about whom he is attracted to he was the pansexual of the group. Each of the characters are openly honest about their attractions as you move through the book.

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Fantastical Elements:

→ A scaled beastly creature I was hoping wasn’t a dragon; their referred to as armed lizards and called ‘ghulrenos’

→ Magic (orbs, etc)

→ Water nymphs

The magic of this world is either fiery and fierce or uncontrollable – to where you never know exactly what is going to happen at any given point in time. A part of that uncontrollable magic is due to an absence of understanding it as this world has been withheld from its own magic for quite a long time, generations, even, to where the people of ‘today’ in the current time-line of the story are not as well trained to understand that their magic was elemental. Each person who was gifted with magic in their ancestral line had a different element of magic to use in this world. However, as the story progresses forward, you find that a lot of the characters who could use magic were unable to do so as their knowledge of magic was either limited or stunted through a period of disuse and/or without having the education to understand their magical heritage.

Of all the creatures of Fantasy, the water nymphs were the ones of most concern for me – even before I read their part in this story. There are reasons to respect them but also, as it proves in Parr’s version of how they interact with people who cross into their lands – there are also reasons to fear them.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This book review is courtesy of: K. Parr

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reading this novel counted towards

my 2019 reading challenges:

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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whilst being read during my participation of:

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Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.

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To continue reading my #wyrdandwonder posts:

Be sure to visit my TBR for Wyrd & Wonder as I’m updating the post frequently throughout the last week & a half of the event with new links to the posts & reviews I am sharing with everyone following my showcases!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars” as well as the author photograph for K. Parr, author biography, book synopsis as well as the promo banners were all provided by the author K. Parr and are used with permission of the author K. Parr. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. 2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com. Beat the Backlist banner provided by Novel Knight. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Wyrd And Wonder Book Review badge and the comment box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 28 May, 2019 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Heroic Fantasy, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Mythological Societies, Self-Published Author, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Sword & Scorcery, YA Fantasy

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