Category: #Unboxing BookMail

A #WyrdAndWonder #MGFantasy Book Review | “The Princess and the Pirate” (Rahana Trilogy: Book Two) by Felicity Banks

Posted Wednesday, 26 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “The Princess and the Pirate” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured last Wyrd And Wonder celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This kicks-off my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “The Princess and the Pirate” by my parents and I was not obligated to post an honest review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 4th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Why I am in love with this series & couldn’t wait to read the next story:

I immediately took an interest in Dance – she was a brave young girl who understood the history of her island but also the growing tension of why her father worried about her safety and the safety of their community here. Even in the opening paragraphs there is a bit of urgency in the tone of how Banks started her story – where Dance can sense the heightened fear in the caller’s voice – the person intending to speak with her father and the voice which was drawing her to catch her breath.

I loved how art was introduced straight-away – a small bit of insight into the heart of her people – of how on this island (Luar) art was as sacred as the trees. And, trees apparently were quite revered because you can sense this yourself as Dance speaks about the art which comes from the raw materials of the trees. Trees for me have held such a high impression on my person since I first started staring after trees along highways and byways; whilst pausing whenever I was close to them in person and happily feeling museful about their lives. Especially the cycle of how other species laid claim to their boughs and branches; how connected they were to our source of life (ie. oxygen) and how throughout the ages of time, trees are resolute, proud and awe-inspiring just to be nearby. I could then imagine – any bit of art carved from a tree has a life spirit of its own etched out of the raw wood and drawing a new energy from the carver’s tools, hands and vision for what the art being created would represent.

Dance lives on an island tucked away from the world – what makes this one dearly unique in my eyes as I haven’t come across a lot of snowbound or ice encased worlds, is the fact this particular island would be right at home in the Arctic Circle! It is beyond cold here – where the frozen ice hides their greatest enemy (ie. Heest monsters) and where if you were brave enough, you wouldn’t consider what their presence unde the ice was foretelling about your own fate and the fate of your community. Banks goes into a bit of detail about how this island was fashioned together – from materials they could repurpose and from purchases they had made long ago giving them a bit of bolster of privacy from prying eyes on the outside. It was their sincere hope to remain hidden which inspired how they lived and how they choose to thrive in one of the coldest locations I’ve had a chance to visit.

I positively LOVE finding illustrative art inside novels – The Monster Apprentice is delightfully inclusive of renderings of the scenes you’re reading about as you walk beside Dance! The very first illustration was featuring the ‘sky cows’ – having spent time on a ranch with breeding stock, I know how stubborn cows can be and how particular they are once they’ve settled on a place they want to roost. Cows are gentle giants and have kind hearts but there are moments where like most animals, they simply want to be left alone and left to their own devices. The imagery provided in this illustration and the depictions of the cows and Dance’s interaction with them in the text was quite a heap of hilarity! It was interesting to see how Dance chooses to interact with her world and how she constantly likes to bend the rules in order to do what she is tasked to accomplish!

Banks does a wonderful job of keeping this first installment beautifully connected on her characters and on the priming of our introduction to their ice and sea world. Things are not quite as you expect them to be here – there are hints of magic, of intrigue and of binding bargains which may in the end be worse than their initial acceptance. Each person here – young or old alike has to find their own individual truth and path; similar to life, everyone is working through their own headspace and has to find the courage to be a bit braver than they feel.

One of my favourite features of this novel are the Heest – mostly because Banks keeps us in the dark for most of the novel about their truer nature and how they operate as a species. There is far more to the Heest than what is presumed and that is the true beauty of their kind for me. I’d love t see how this trilogy continues to develop – especially if we can entreat more into the magical perimeters of the world and the concepts of how those magical extras operate within a place that is a rather harsh physical environment of both ice and sea.

As this first novel is setting up the foundation of the trilogy – we were treated only to a hinting of the magic in this world. The curators of the magic are known as quickensmiths and this was broached at the time when Dance had to face the pirates because of how the ship itself was moving through the water. I found it interesting how the dynamics of the world and of the magic within it were not completely disclosed because this was a very character-centred introduction. You get a few hints towards what is coming in future installments but not overly enough to lose your curiosity because this novel does lend itself to being curious about what will become disclosed!

-quoted from my review of The Monster Apprentice

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The Princess and the Pirate collage created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

The Princess and the Pirate
by Felicity Banks
Source: Gifted

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade Fantasy, Mythological Fantasy, Pirate Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1925652680

Also by this author: The Monster Apprentice

Published by Odyssey Books

on 1st June, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 126

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The Rahana Trilogy:

Felicity Banks invented the fantasy world of Rahana while living in Indonesia. She grew up reading stories set in Narnia and Middle Earth, and she wanted to invent a fantasy world that was just as beautiful but didn’t feel British, or white, or male.

In Rahana the weather is tropical and the people are visually similar to Indonesians. Magic is common, and makes physical strength irrelevant. There are millions of islands both small and large, and sailing technology is more advanced that the other sciences. Rahana is a thriving tropical world where people are born with a love of the high seas.

Naturally, the world is full of pirates.

The Monster Apprentice (book one)

The Princess & the Pirate (book two)

Waking Dead Mountain (book three)

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #ThePrincessAndThePirate, #MGLit, #MGFantasy
as well as #pirates and #MiddleGrade; #IndieAuthor, #IndieFantasy

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About Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks is a Canberra author specialising in fantasy and interactive fiction, including her Antipodean Queen fantasy steampunk series, which is also published by Odyssey Books. All her interactive fiction is listed under “Felicity Banks” (visit site) and most of her interactive fiction can be read via an app.

She writes about all her various pirates tales (some appropriate for children, some definitely not) on her Facebook page as well as sharing stories and images that appeal to the not-so-secret pirate within all of us.

She met her husband at a pirate ball, and has two little pirates at home.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Wednesday, 26 May, 2021 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Childhood Friendship, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Death of a Sibling, Fantasy Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Twin Siblings

Influencer #partner with #CrimeFictionBox | This #CrimeFicFriday is revealling what I received for the April Box!

Posted Friday, 12 June, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Stories of Jorie Banner created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography. (Creative Commons Zero)

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

In keeping in step with my announcements about being a new influencer for #bookboxes & book subscription services, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the #unboxing photographs I took for my 2nd Crime Fiction Subscription Box as well as talk about my *excitement!* over which books were enclosed and why I think these are going to become wicked good reads for me as a reader who loves her journey into Cosy Crime & Crime Fiction narratives!

[ be sure to read my ANNOUNCEMENT to find out which niches of this genre
I prefer to read & which ones I am hoping to continue discovering! ]

I’ve had to sit on this news and this reveal ever since I first received the lovely #bookbox in the mail! I was able to release a vlog #unboxing video which I happily tweeted closer to the time the box arrived – however, life and tides, health afflictions and an inability to find the words to blog these past few months left this lovely post in my drafts queue to be published. I decided to create a new sub-feature of Jorie Loves A Story – to inspire me into diving back into Crime Fiction whilst at the same time, finding traction with how to blog, read and discuss the lovely #newtomeauthors the #CrimeFictionBox has delivered to my postbox!!

In case you’ve missed my first announcement –
here is what you can expect from receiving your very own #CrimeFictionBox:

Crime Fiction Subscription Box logo badge provided by Crime Fiction Subscription Box and is used with permission.

One small switch from my first announcement: The #CrimeFictionBox NOW ships within a week of being ordered! No time delays for receiving your book box!

Remember: if a customer emails and asks for specific authors and/or types of stories not to be included they will do their best to fulfill those requests. They’re a small outfit so it’s not an issue.

If someone has a bad experience with the books, we just add an additional book the following month. No returns on books received.

→ They offer monthly, yearly and a bookcase option on their Boxes Page! You can choose from receiving 2x books per month (ie. Main Box) OR 3x books per month (ie. Big Box). Those subscriptions are also calculated for yearly subscriptions vs monthly installments. There is also a Large Print #bookbox option for both!

→ One aspect of this subscription service I *loved!* most is that they champion #CanLit Authors! You can request to receive Canadian Authors in your boxes and for me that is the best component of the box itself because I’ve been wanting to source and read more #CanLit Authors for such a long time!

→ In regards to the Crime Fiction novelists being featured in the #CrimeFictionBox: I had a curious itch to know the answer to this question as I read and follow so many who write these kinds of stories – I know some might visit my post out of curiosity… the answer was a sweet one: #CrimeFictionBox is OPEN to featuring world-wide authors of Crime!! Isn’t that beyond fab!?!

Shipping is FREE for North America. Seriously. I think that’s a game changer for most considering how steep shipping and handling fees are these days!

→ Before you ask – there aren’t ‘extras’ or swag or other inclusions right now currently in the boxes. There are plans being developed towards that end – however, wait til you read my REVEAL post and realise how *fab!* these boxes are even without some of the ‘extras’ you might be familiar with in other subscription boxes. REMEMBER these are tailored to your readerly interests and thereby not the traditional subscription box service.

Father’s Day Special: 3x month subscription, 2x books per month!

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(*) Due Note: I am a promotional #partner and/or Influencer with Crime Fiction Subscription Box but similar to how I receive books from publishers, authors & publicists or early review programs – I am not being monetarily compensated for sharing my experiences, impressions, reviews or the links to their website on my blog Jorie Loves A Story nor on my feeds on Twitter (@joriestory). Nor for the coupon code which is a discount for new subscribers to the Crime Fiction Subscription Box service.

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IF you’d like to order your own Crime Fiction Subscription box,

you can use my coupon code → 25%JORIE

→ *This applies to your first order only.
And, reflects ONLY on the Main Box & Big Box Monthly subscriptions.*

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #CrimeFicFriday
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Posted Friday, 12 June, 2020 by jorielov in #25PagePreview, #CrimeFicFridays, #CrimeFictionBox, #Unboxing BookMail, Book Subscription Boxes, Jorie Loves A Story Features

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Esme’s Wish” (Esme’s Series Trilogy: Book One) by Elizabeth Foster

Posted Saturday, 30 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I first heard from Odyssey Books late last year, however, the timing of accepting their review request for “The Monster Apprentice” wasn’t the best timing for me due to my health and my migraines. As I was setting to mind what I wanted to do for Wyrd And Wonder this year, I decided to reach out to the publisher to see if I could schedule guest author features and perhaps finally accept the chance to read and review “The Monster Apprentice”. I was thankful I could put together a mixture of guest features (guest posts and interviews) as well as two reviews for this Indie publisher in New Zealand. This marks my second book review and I am humbled in joy for the conversations and the stories I’ve discovered this 3rd Year of Wyrd And Wonder through Odyssey Books!

I received a complimentary copy of “Esme’s Wish” direct from the author Elizabeth Foster and the publisher Odyssey Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What truly attracted me to read “Esme’s Wish”:

I was caught up in the essence of where this novel could take me as a reader – I love poetic stories which seek to give us something wonderful from their stories. I have been enjoying my journey back into Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction – however, most of the stories I enjoy the most from those branches of literature are within the Speculative realms. Writers who are writing #SpecLit for these readers are truly tapping into a beautiful vision of how Science Fiction and/or Fantasy can be imagined – whilst giving us layered stories in which to feel we’ve lived elsewhere for a short spell outside our own living experiences.

I knew this was going to become an emotional read for me – the heart of the story, even before reading it is a daughter’s search for her Mum; in different ways in how a daughter can look for her Mum whilst dealing with the realities of having this chasm of ambiguous loss between what Esme remembers from the past and where she currently finds herself in the future. Esme doesn’t remember exactly what became of her Mum – only that she knows others treat her mother’s absence as if she died and despite the tragedy of that moment, they’ve chosen to move on. Yet for Esme how can you move on when you cannot reconcile the past?

This story I felt would be an entry into how Urban Fantasy can feel wonderfully grounded in a contemporary lifestyle and yet, have small touches of the fantastical slowly take over the scope and depth of where the story can take the reader. This gentle hand in guiding us forward into the Esme’s Series is what I loved more about Foster’s writing style. She gives you such a firm grounding of place and setting – of allowing us to better understand her characters and then, she takes us on this wild adventure we simply are better for having experienced. This is why I wanted to read Esme’s Wish and this is why I am wicked thankful it became a part of my #WyrdAndWonder journey this 3rd Year!

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Two things I was attempting to do differently this year is to participate more in the #WyrdAndWonder Challenge (wherein I could take photos and share them on #bookTwitter) but I also wanted to create posts outside reviews & guest features. As the month wore on I realised the few times I was able to respond to the challenge prompts and the vlog video I had made featuring my #bookmail for #WyrdAndWonder might be all I would be able to contribute this year. I am most proud about how this turnt out as I have only released a handful of these so far overall!

I put together a short teaser of a #booktube #vlog #unboxing video which I shared on Twitter. I had a most delightful time answering one of the #WyrdAndWonder challenge prompts which was “The Best Things Come in Threes”.

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Esme’s Wish” (Esme’s Series Trilogy: Book One) by Elizabeth FosterEsme's Wish
by Elizabeth Foster
Source: Direct from Author

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the actions of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

Genres: Dragon Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Mythological Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1925652246

Published by Odyssey Books

on 30th October, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 252

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

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Esme’s Series (trilogy):

Esme’s Wish (book one)

Esme’s Gift (book two)

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Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #EsmesWish, #YALit, #YAFantasy
as well as #YoungAdult; #IndieAuthor, #IndieFantasy and #WyrdAndWonder

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7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This story received my award for Best Middle Grade Fantasy.

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About Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 30 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Dragon Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Greek Mythology, Jorie Loves A Story, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Portal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” (Dawnhaven: Book One) by Owen Crane

Posted Saturday, 23 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Right before #WyrdAndWonder, I received a review request directly from the author Owen Crane. It was good timing as I was starting to assemble my chat schedule of guest authors for @SatBookChat for May as I knew I wanted to highlight Indie Fantasy authors during the chat whilst Wyrd And Wonder was underway. As a bit of a meet-greet for participants and authors as well as for my regular chatters to gain some exposure and introduction to what Fantasy can provide as a reader and/or learn about the craft from a writer’s perspective. Thereby, I offered to host Mr Crane during #SatBookChat whilst accepting his novel for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” direct from the author Owen Crane in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Reading and Chatting about Dawnhaven during #WyrdAndWonder:

I truly enjoyed being able to chat about this series, the debut of the author’s and to highlight another introductory conversation about Fantasy during #SatBookChat! It allowed me to present Fantasy in an approachable manner to my regular chatters who might not read as much Fantasy as I do but feel inclined to discuss it in case it might become a new niche of joy for them to chase after as well. It also gave the participants of Wyrd And Wonder a chance to ask an author direct questions about his writerly style of approaching Fantasy, why he personally loves the genre of Fantasy and what his plans were for the series which first begins with “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven”!

During the chat we were able to root out there are five books planned for this series which follows the five year Journey Ariella is undertaking with the Guardians. I felt this made the most sense when Crane disclosed it because it would allow for the most growth out of Ariella as well as the secondary cast of characters to have their chance to shine throughout the saga, too. I love long series in genres – it allows you to gain further knowledge about the world itself, the characters who live there and in a way, you get to stay longer in worlds you don’t wish to exit if it had only been a one-off story.

As we were chatting, we also discovered how much I appreciate reading Fantasy where the Light is not snuffed out by the Darkness. Nor do I seek out overtly gritty and gruesomely violent stories – (in Fantasy or other genres!) as I like to sink my teeth into stories which have quests for the characters to endure and/or there is something they need to either achieve or overcome but not to the point where the context of their stories are erasing the joy in which I pursue the stories I want to be reading. I was thankful a writer of Middle Grade Fantasy also felt this way because too often I am finding Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy are becoming a bit to adult in how they are either too darkly lit or too adult in their themes and story-lines.

There is a wonderment of joy seeking out Fantasy as a younger reader – that suspension of reality and the fantastical where innocent curiosity and joy can be nurtured through a story which doesn’t seek to erase that innocence but to capitalise on a well-told story in this ‘otherworld’ place which feels like ours but is wholly new & exciting to explore. I have oft felt Middle Grade & Young Adult stories should be focused more on encouraging younger readers to read well-rounded stories – where there can be adversity and challenge as well as growing transitions in their lives but not to the brink where it feels oppressively dire. This is one reason why I seek out a lot of coming-of age stories – as those can lend better to the kind of story I am seeking out of Children’s Literature.

Having the chance to discuss this series and to talk about Fantasy with Mr Crane was a true delight of joy for me because I like shining a light on Indie Authors who are curating the kind of stories which give me a wicked good time reading! If I could help encourage other readers to try his series and to give an Indie Fantasy series a chance at being one of their next favourite reads – I’ve happily passed forward the joy of discovering his novel! I am thankful he found my blog and submitted a review request – otherwise none of this would have been possible! 

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” (Dawnhaven: Book One) by Owen CraneAriella and the Curse of Dawnhaven
by Owen Crane
Source: Direct from Author

Ariella Lightharbour is heir to the crown with a nation at her feet but knows she’s meant for more. Forsaking her throne she chooses to become a Guardian. As she embarks on The Journey she must find the courage within herself to battle the deadly Ghost Raiders that murdered her father, discover the identity of the elusive shadow and fight to end the curse that threatens to overwhelm the land.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8607648008

Published by Self Published

on 29th March, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 214

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This is a Self-Published Novel

The Original Title for this story was Ariella and the Blood Curse (2015)

Converse via: #Dawnhaven, #MGLit, #MGFantasy
as well as #MiddleGrade #Fantasy, #IndieAuthor/s, #WyrdAndWonder

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7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This story received my award for Best Middle Grade Fantasy.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 23 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Fantasy Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event