Category: Upper YA Fantasy

Exploring #DesertFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “Speechless in Achten Tan” (Book One: The Sands of Achten Tan series) by Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Posted Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I stumbled across a reviewer request on Twitter in the middle of #WyrdAndWonder which intrigued me because it was for a novel which had a very bewitching premise! The lead character had lost the ability to speak, and she was on a Quest to find her voice! I had a few concerns in regards to the content of the novel which I discussed with the author prior to accepting the novel for review consideration. Plus, given that our 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder was already underway, I did have concerns about being able to read it in time before our event concluded. The book took a bit longer to reach me but I was overjoyed once it did arrive as there was something uniquely different about the story and I was hoping that it wasn’t too Dark for me to enjoy reading.

I received a complimentary copy of “Speechless in Achten Tan” from the author Debbie Iancu-Haddad in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Sometimes stories have a way of FINDING YOU rather than the other way round. When I asked the author directly about content warnings she mentioned to me about ‘fade to black’ romantic encounters and a limited number of explicit words as there was a replacement stronger word given as this is a Fantasy novel. Although one universally known word does make an appearance ever so briefly which I was grateful to hear about as well. Being this is a Desert Fantasy novel with a strong empathsis on Weird Fantasy aesthetics, I had a feeling I would enjoy being inside this world quite well! I wasn’t sure of course about how dark the world might evolve as I knew Mila was going to go on a Quest as all cavern witches must do at some point if they cannot ascend to the next stage of their development but one thing was for certain: I knew the visceral imagery and the enveloping of the world-building would be wholly new and original to discover as I do not spend a lot of time reading these kinds of Fantasy. Although, at some point I need to finish reading Empire of Sand.

I am grateful I was able to connect with the author via Twitter and include this reading with my stack of novels and stories this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! And, perhaps by our sixth year I’ll have more joys of reading more stories in Achten Tan as I am dearly curious about the anthology Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone) as much as I am eager for the sequel, too. It would be interesting to see what aspects of the world are explored in the anthology and of course, how that parlays into the series now being written. As the anthology was writ by different writers (all of whom would have different POVs) it would give an interestingly impression about Achten Tan and of course, a lot of curious possibilities of where Iancu-Haddad might take the series itself.

This is another example of why I lament about the blessings of being a socially bookish reader right now in today’s world because readers and writers can find each other in social settings which allow the reader to find stories they might have missed otherwise. I have long been a champion of Indie Publishers and Press as well as Self-Published or Hybrid authors — finding Skull Gate Media through reading this novel was an added bonus whilst continuing to seek out the Indie Fantasy section of a genre I love made my heart feel wickedly happy this Wyrd And Wonder. I love being a book cheerleader for #IndieFantasy storycrafters each May and thankfully I continue to be able to seek out the stories which are elevating my joy of discovery within the genre itself. As even outside of Wyrd And Wonder – these are the stories I desire most to read every week and month of the year.

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Exploring #DesertFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “Speechless in Achten Tan” (Book One: The Sands of Achten Tan series) by Debbie Iancu-HaddadSpeechless in Achten Tan
Subtitle: The Sands of Achten Tan : Book One
by Debbie Iancu-Haddad
Source: Direct from Author

Mila hasn't spoken in the five years since she became an Onra, a first level Everfall witch. After failing the test to reclaim her voice and control her magic, her mentor sends eighteen-year-old Mila to Achten Tan–City of Dust–a dangerous desert town, built in the massive ribcage of an extinct leviathan.

To reclaim her power, Mila must steal a magical staff capable of releasing it, from Bone Master Opu Haku's sky-high lair. Her only resources are the magical luminous elixirs of the cursed caverns where she grew up, and a band of unlikely allies; a quirky inventor, a giant-ant rider, a healer, a librarian's assistant, a Tar-tule rider, and the chief's playboy son.

But in the City of Bones, enemies & friends are not who they seem, and trusting the wrong person can be deadly. If Mila fails, she will never speak again and her bones will be added to the wasteland. This book includes a kick-ass female protagonist covered in tattoos, giant ants, first-person present-tense narration, magic, banter, lots of innuendoes, and cute boys kissing.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Weird Fantasy, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1956042061

Published by Skull Gate Media

on 20th February, 2022

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 425

Published By: Skull Gate Media (@SkullgateMedia)

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NOTE: This novel began as a short story called “Speechless” and was originally published in Skull Gate Media’s anthology: Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone). Whilst Skull Gate Media is an interesting new publishing company as it is a collective amongst the writers who co-own it together.

Notation about Cover Art and Design: The one observation which confused me about the book cover was the fact Mila on the cover looked a bit different than I visualised her in the story. Especially I was missing the artful way her braids had bones threaded through them and for being a gnome she looked far taller than I thought she would as well.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

About Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Debbie Iancu-Haddad is a Jewish Israeli author living in Meitar in the Negev Desert. Author of Speechless in Achten Tan a YA fantasy novel. And The Bone Master, forthcoming.

She spends her time taking part in Anthologies (seven to date with three more on the way), writing VSS on Twitter, and buying way too much stuff online. Her goal is to promote body positive characters and include characters dealing with physical challenges. #ownvoices

For her day job, she gives lectures on humor, laughter yoga workshops, and chocolate workshops, and sees how often she can make her two teenagers roll their eyes.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WyrdAndWonder, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Deaf Culture in Fiction, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Novel, Desert Fantasy, Domestic Violence, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Fly in the Ointment, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Invisibility, Science Fantasy, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Traumatic Injury, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature, Weird Fantasy, Witches and Warlocks

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring Dark Fantasy within “The Shadow of the Skytree” by K.J. Taylor

Posted Monday, 9 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “The Shadow of the Skytree” 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 during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues 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 Shadow of the Skytree” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a 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 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

This 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder, I am finishing my readings of the Odyssey Books Fantasy stories I showcased during our 3rd Year! Except for one of the novels which I am still trying to secure a copy of and has remained a bit elusively out of reach.

Last week I was completely absorbed into the world of Tarya within Rachel Nightingale’s Harlequin’s Riddle novel which sets the stage for her trilogy. I knew I wanted to read her trilogy back-to-back but I also wanted to read Taylor’s novel which has had me curious about how she was going to introduce us to her dwarves, elves and gnomes as well as other recognisable fantastical creatures within the pages of The Shadow of the Skytree.

Before I share my thoughts about the story, I wanted to share an excerpt from our conversation and implore you to re-visit the interview before you continue to read this review or shortly after you’ve read my reactions. All the authors I interviewed through this publisher and/or hosted with guest posts during our 3rd Year were very giving of their time and you’ll find a wealth of loveliness to read through if you go back through those showcases.

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As your novel “The Shadow of the Skytree” has both elves and dwarves inclusive to the world – how would you describe both of them to a first-time reader who hasn’t read too much Fantasy outside of Tolkien and has limited knowledge of elves and dwarves? What is uniquely different about them compared to your gnomes like Lavendar?

Taylor responds: Speaking of avoiding tropes, one I was particularly tired of is elves written in imitation of Tolkien but with all the flaws removed so you end up with an obnoxiously perfect race of superbeings who are the best at everything. I wanted to explore the idea of what a functionally immortal people would more realistically be like, and especially when they’re so cut off from the rest of the world. Which is why my elves are hunter-gatherers with no technology. Their magic means they never needed to develop any, and their longevity makes them so slow to change that they found themselves incapable of adapting to a world that was changing around them and became insular and extremely xenophobic. And I gave them a darker skin tone because you’d realistically expect a race of people who spend their lives mostly outdoors to have adapted accordingly.

As for the dwarves, I won’t lie – I partly designed them for the sheer coolness factor. Stereotypical dwarves live underground and spend most of their time mining, and I thought – well, what if they were so well adapted to living among minerals that they could literally live off the stuff? They’re pretty much living humanoid versions of the volcano they call home – black on the outside, full of fire on the inside. So it made sense that they’d live off a diet of mostly charcoal; if they don’t keep that internal fire fuelled, they die. And they ride on giant lizards because that’s just metal as hell. (Well, and big reptiles would be attracted to hot places. Horses would quickly sicken and die if they had to live in a volcanic environment with no grass).

Meanwhile the gnomes are naturally underground dwellers who are very in touch with the natural world, but are naturally childlike and simple-minded compared to everyone else. Your average gnome doesn’t have a mean bone in her body and can’t really comprehend wanting to hurt anyone, which is why our heroine, Vender, finds the whole conflict going on around her so bewildering. Why can’t people just say sorry and learn to get along?

I love when I find authors re-invent a creature or species other authors have made famous – either to redirect us onto a different path of understanding them or to entreat into a different viewing of them entirely as a race. As like you said, without flaws and without a way of showing growth – the context of those species can become stagnant and predictable. I could also see why you patterned their beliefs and behaviours as you had – as they were definitely a more exclusive race and have kept to themselves in order to survive. I oft wondered about skin tones – sometimes I read a story (Fantasy or otherwise) and know a character is predominately outside – yet, it is not reflected in their character’s profile or disclosed in their story. Even a heavy tan would make better sense than to give the illusion anyone can spend copious amounts of time in direct sunlight without any affect of that kind of exposure to them.

I had to laugh – about why lizards won out over horses. The laughter was sparked because of how true of a statement this is – and how some might have overlooked its importance! Besides anytime you can use a different animal for a species transportation that is outside the box is one I’m going to enjoy getting introduced too! I also had to smirk about the dwarves diet and why they are attracted to volcanoes! They can definitely have that environment – I live where there is volcanic heat (sans the volcano) and humidity – I melt yearly and hope to live elsewhere eventually. This clime doesn’t work for some but I could see a family of dwarves settling into it as if they found the best ‘vacation’ spot of their kin!

I agree with your assessment about gnomes. Mind, to this day, the only route of understanding them was a children’s programme on tv called “David the Gnome” (does anyone remember that one?) I oft felt they were the innocents of their world and had a very positive outlook on everything round them as well.

-quoted from my interview K.J. Taylor

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring Dark Fantasy within “The Shadow of the Skytree” by K.J. TaylorThe Shadow of the Skytree
by K.J. Taylor
Source: Gifted
dnf

The reserved elf Lyell Blackfletch is an ambassador for his people – and the holder of a dark secret. Plague is spreading among the human race, with the fire-loving dwarves already driven to the edge of extinction. Only the human Fiorella is close to finding a cure for the sickness, and with her death it is up to her friend Lavender the gnome to deliver it to her people in the steam-powered city of Vaporcitta.

Naïve but rebellious, Lavender chooses to place her trust in Lyell – but is her confidence in the cold-hearted elf misplaced? With the cure stolen and a secret genocide uncovered, they must both make a choice – but it may already be too late.

Genres: Australian Lit, Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781925652796

Also by this author: The Shadow of the Skytree

Published by Odyssey Books

on 25th November, 2019

Pages: 244

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #YAFantasy, #ShadowOfTheSkyTree
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder

About K.J. Taylor

K.J. Taylor

Canberra author Katie J. Taylor attended Radford College, where she wrote her first novel. She studied for a Bachelor's Degree in Communications at the University of Canberra, and graduated in 2007 before going on to do a Graduate Certificate in Editing in 2008. She is also the author of three fantasy trilogies.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 9 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Content Note, Dark Fantasy, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Elves & the Elven, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel Nightingale

Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “Harlequin’s Riddle” 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 during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues 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 “Harlequin’s Riddle” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a 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 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was quite smitten with all the stories I’ve selected to feature from this Independent Publisher – each of the guest features will tuck us closer to the stories themselves, introduce us to the writers and give us a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy stories which are being independently published by publishers who champion the crafting of stories and the writers who have created these fantastical worlds for us to discover.

I wanted to begin this series of features with Ms Nightingale – as her world is a rather curious one – both from the perspective of what initially inspired her series and how she first fused curiosity to building the foundation of this world she’s given us to read and by how her characters simply step forward from that world and embrace our imaginations.

-as shared on the guest post by Ms Nightingale

As you might remember – two years ago, I had the lovely pleasure of running a series of guest features for Odyssey Books. Their authors were very welcoming to me and open to my enquiries as much as they returnt my interview and guest post topics with such hearty depth – it was a true pleasure to host all of them! I even interviewed one of them via #SatBookChat as I did a takeover chat experience that year as well.

Last year, I was able to start my readings again of Odyssey Books via “Cassandra” (see also Review) whilst previously I had featured Elizabeth Foster’s “Esme’s Wish” (from 2020: see also Review) and Felicity Banks Rahana trilogy: “The Monster Apprentice” (from 2020: see also Review) and “The Princess and the Pirate” (see also Review) in 2021.

This #WyrdAndWonder I am picking up from whence I last left off – I have the complete set of stories for the Tales of Tarya to read and I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t want to set out to read the first novel if I knew I couldn’t read the rest of the series. Thereby, I waited until our 5th Year to begin my journey into this world and it is my hope to read the rest of the Odyssey Books I have on my shelves every Monday throughout May. Part of what drew me into these stories was the premise of them — how they are a combination of reshaping what we understand about Shakespeare against what we love about Mythological Fantasy and Fantasy which is set in a world re-inspired by another writer.

Whilst I am planning to read the Odyssey Books authors on Mondays – you’ll find two more lovelies from them being featured and read this month: “Esme’s Gift” the sequel to “Esme’s Wish” and “The Shadow of the Skytree” (see also Interview). I am attempting to get a copy of “Songlines” by Carolyn Denman as well. Join me on Mondays as I take my own odyssey into a publisher’s canon of stories and series.

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel NightingaleHarlequin's Riddle
Subtitle: Book One of the Tales of Tarya
by Rachel Nightingale
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Nadia Turner
Source: Gifted

Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again. On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for storytelling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.

Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a storyteller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Magical Realism, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1922200990

Also by this author: Harlequin's Riddle

Published by Odyssey Books

on 12th June, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 312

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The Tales of Tarya series:

The Tales of Tarya collage created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

Harlequin’s Riddle (book one)

Columbine’s Tale (book two)

Pierrot’s Song (book three)

Be sure to read Ms Nightingale’s Guest Post after this review!

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy, #YAFantasy, #TalesOfTarya
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder

About Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale has been writing since the age of eight (early works are safely hidden away). Harlequin’s Riddle is her first novel.

Rachel holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards, and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014, while another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila in 2016. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2013-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train.

The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle, began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, and began to wonder what you might find in that place between worlds.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Classical Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Introspective Literary Fiction, Life Shift, Magical Realism, Parapsychological Gifts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, William Shakespeare, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

#EnterTheFantastic with #MyYASummer epic first read | “The Twin Stars” (Book One: The Coseema Saga) by Bridgette D. Portman

Posted Sunday, 8 August, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. I am thankful I can continue to host and feature tours by this touring company from 2020-forward.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Twin Stars” direct from the author Bridgette Dutta Portman in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why this story inspired me to read it:

Portal Fantasy is something I stumbled into in recent years – as I hadn’t come through that vortex of the genre previously. I wasn’t the right fit for Narnia (even though I enjoyed the first and third film adaptations) and I definitely was the kid who couldn’t stop watching “The Neverending Story”. What was interesting for me in your synopsis was the parallels to Neverending Story – how Bastian had to read and then live through the story which felt similar in context to your own character’s journey. I love stories which evoke such a strong reaction and connection between the world, the characters and the reader.

This is why this story appealled to me – as well as the self evolution and growth of Olive. I love coming-of age stories personally and I felt this was an interesting cross-section of why I love reading both MG and YA stories.

From the first moment I learnt of this story, I felt a pull of connection and knew I needed to feature it. I wasn’t sure at the time I signed on for the blog tour if I would be interviewing the author, hosting an extract or able to request the story for review consideration – but I felt as strong of a pull to have this story in my life this year as I have with other selections I’ve featured previously during our 4th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! There was something uniquely different about this story and I had a sense about this world as being one I would find delishly devouring about how the writer wrote the story and allowed us into her character’s journey.

During #SelfPubFantasyMonth in September, I am curating a ‘final week’ of #WyrdAndWonder posts whilst endeavouring to carry forward further readings of Self Pub Fantasy novelists. Tied into those plans will be a forthcoming interview with Ms Portman as I wasn’t able to pull that together for this blog tour due to chaotically brutal lightning storms & a myriad of tech issues I had to work through just to finish this review.

I love finding writers who are writing coming-of age stories in Speculative Young Adult – the kind of stories you almost wish had been available to read during your own childhood but feel equally as blessed to find as an adult as YA doesn’t have an exit clause for readers! Everyone can appreciate YA at any age which is why I wanted to celebrate #MyYASummer all along.

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#EnterTheFantastic with #MyYASummer epic first read | “The Twin Stars” (Book One: The Coseema Saga) by Bridgette D. PortmanThe Twin Stars
by Bridgette Dutta Portman
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

A magical journal. A world savaged by its own suns. An evil prince. A princess in hiding.
And a teenage girl who learns to be the hero of her own story.

Sixteen-year-old Olive Joshi has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can't stop worrying about hurting the people she loves. She finds refuge in writing about Coseema, a magical princess on a distant planet. Coseema is fearless, confident, and perfect - everything Olive thinks she’ll never be. When she falls through a portal into her own unfinished story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the land, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema is nowhere to be found. Together with her friends - a bold poet, a cursed musician, a renegade soldier, and an adventurous girl from the desert - Olive will have to face her deepest fears to find the hero in herself.

The Twin Stars is an engrossing new portal fantasy in the spirit of the Wizard of Oz, the Neverending Story,and the Chronicles of Narnia.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0995920422

Published by Titan1Studios

on 2nd July, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 326

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Ahead of reading my reactions to “The Twin Stars”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel which parlays into the ‘portal’:

She was underwater.

Olive realized it just in time to stop herself from gasping. Panic seared through her body as she thrashed about, kicking downward, tearing at the water uselessly.

There was nothing solid around her.

Murky darkness flooded her eyes; a churning roar filled her ears. Just as her starved lungs neared their limit, her left knee collided with something sharp and firm. She kicked and her foot met rock. She brought her other foot to the same position and pushed off the surface as hard as she could, propelling her body through the water.

The diminishing pain in her ears told her she was traveling upward, moving amidst an effervescence of tiny bubbles. She felt them swirling, fizzing, tickling her flesh, bearing her up toward the light as she begged her tortured lungs to hold out for another few seconds until, at last, she broke the surface.

Air.

At first, she could do nothing but devour it. When the haze of panic dissipated and her senses returned, her next coherent thought was that the plane had crashed. But this was not the icy water of the Arctic Ocean. This water felt like a warm bath. It bubbled like soda, and great plumes of vapor waltzed over its surface, spiraling upward until they melted into a golden haze. It reminded Olive of steam rising from mug. It might have been pleasant had she not nearly drowned in it.

The strange pool had a vague familiarity to it, but her head felt too muddled to sort it out.

Where was she? Where was the plane?

It crossed Olive’s mind that she was dead, and the thought sent a chill through her, but her sore knee and aching lungs reassured her. People weren’t supposed to feel pain after death, and they definitely shouldn’t need to breathe.

She treaded water, scanning her surroundings. She thought she saw movement through the curls of steam and paddled toward it, her knee smarting with each kick. Gradually the silhouette of something—no, someone—took shape as she moved through the plumes. At last, her feet touched the jagged, pebbly ground, and with a final rush of adrenaline, she pushed herself forward into the shallows. There she crouched in the warm water and stared up at the figure on the bank.

For a heartbeat, she thought it was Dadiji.

The woman had the same slight stoop, the same gently lined face, the same warm brown skin and long black hair frosted with silver. She was dressed differently, though; this woman wore deep crimson robes, with a fluted, draping cut that reminded Olive of an illustration she had once seen of an ancient Greek poet. A patch covered her right eye. Her left eye was a startlingly vivid purple, and it stared back at the young stranger who had just emerged from the steamy pool.

This was not Dadiji, and yet there was something jarringly familiar about the woman. Not until she spoke did Olive realize what it was.

“Coseema…” breathed the woman.

So, this was a dream. Olive felt a surge of relief. It did not seem like one—her knee throbbed with a very real pain—but this had to be a dream, because she was staring at a person she had made up herself.

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The Coseema Saga:

The Twin Stars (book one)

The Silver Sail (book two) *forthcoming release!

(there is a sneak preview of what is coming next @ the end of “The Twin Stars”)

I marked this as Upper YA due to the topics & subjects explored in the context of the story as well as how dark this fantasy turned in the final quarter of the novel. I felt it was better suited for Upper YA readers rather than for readers seeking traditional YA.

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Published by: Titan1Studios (@RelativityU)

Read About this debut release from Titan1Studios via their website

Converse on Twitter via: #YALit or #ILoveYA; #PortalFantasy + #SpaceOpera
as well as #TheTwinStars and #YAFantasy and #SciFantasy and #DarkFantasy

About Bridgette Dutta Portman

Bridgette Dutta Portman

Bridgette Dutta Portman is an author, playwright, and teaching artist. Dozens of her plays have been produced across the United States and overseas. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, as well as a PhD in political science from the University of California, Irvine.

She is past president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and is currently a member of Same Boat Theater Collective, the Pear Playwrights’ Guild, and the Dramatists’ Guild. She recently joined the board of the Pear Theatre in Mountain View, CA. The Twin Stars is her debut novel, and the first of a planned trilogy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Deepanshu and their two young children.

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Posted Sunday, 8 August, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Dark Fantasy, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Portal Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, Young Adult Fiction