Kingdom of Birds and Beasts by Alice Ivinya refresher!

Hello friends and foes, I hope you’re excited because today I’ve got a real treat for you: a little refresher for Feathers of Snow, Kingdom of Birds and Beasts #1 by Alice Ivinya, before the release of book two, Feathers of Blood, on 6 Oct!

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, if you haven’t read the first book yet, click here to go to Amazon and read the official blurb instead.

Still with me? Here we go…

Feathers of Snow

In Brianna’s new world of ice and snow, the coldest things by far

are the eyes of her betrothed…


The second book in the Kingdom of Birds and Beasts trilogy, Feathers of Blood, is coming out on the 6th October 2021!

Has it been a while since you read Feathers of Snow? If so, here is a handy recap of the events of book one!

Please don’t read any further if you are yet to read Feathers of Snow, as this synopsis contains spoilers.


Brianna is lady-in-waiting to the vain and cruel Princess Elyanna in the country of Sybera. She has been serving her since she was six years old.

When they were twelve, Elyanna locked Brianna in a barrel for several hours. Since then, Brianna has suffered from nightmares, flashbacks and a habit of buckling under pressure. She also struggles to breathe in small, dark spaces. Brianna has never told anyone what happened, though Queen Geraldina knows.

Princess Elyanna hears the news that she has been betrothed to Prince Jian, the second son of the Borderland King and Queen. This marriage has been arranged so that Sybera can access the Borderland’s military might to defend against the growing threat of Killamore to the south.

However Princess Elyanna and her mother, Queen Geraldina, decide to send Brianna in her stead as they fear for Elyanna’s safety. The two look very similar as they both have the same ancient bloodline. They both have white hair and are tall. The blood in their veins can be traced back to the old tribe of Thurm’ban. This was a tribe of an ancient race of humans and giant birds.

Queen Geraldina threatens to kill Brianna’s family by blaming them for the recent loss of life in their province due to flooding. Brianna sees no choice but to go along with the plan.

Elyanna travels to the Winter Palace in Sybera where she plans to spend the rest of her days masquerading as one of her many cousins.

Brianna travels to Stonekeep, the capital of the Borderlands, disguised as Princess Elyanna against her will and has only one guard stay with her, Jeremiah, who is not even a full knight. She travels with her oldest and best friend, a Spirit-Horse named Falada. Because they are bonded, she can hear him speak in her mind. The only other person he is bonded with is Elyanna.

Prince Jian, her betrothed, is cold and dismissive when Brianna arrives. She finds out that he wishes to focus on the Border, a mountain range and two forts to the north that holds the Spirit-Beasts at bay. He is in charge of the troops at the Eastern Fort and has been renovating the defences. He sees Brianna as an unwelcome distraction and fears attachment due to losing his sister, Feng, in the past. He suspects he will dislike Princess Elyanna.

Throughout her time in Stonekeep, Brianna hears a mysterious voice on the wind calling her true name. She has no clue who is calling her or how they know who she really is. Nobody else can hear the voice.

The people of the Borderlands seem quite paranoid about attacks to Brianna, and she adopts the tradition of always carrying her sword with her. She is assigned two more guards, Hai Rong and Cai Rong, who she gets on well with.

Prince Han, the Borderland Crown Prince, is attacked and killed while checking the villages are ready for winter, along with all of his men. Prince Jian and the King start to investigate to find the culprit.

Brianna travels with Jian to the Border to meet Tama’ha, the Spirit-Beast who is the leader of Sal’hadar’s tribe. The Spirit-Beasts of the plains. The Borderland royal family share some of this bloodline, so they have an uneasy truce. Tama’ha suggests Han was killed by Spirit-Birds and that Brianna would be the best person to discover what had happened, since she has some of Thum’ban’s blood.

Brianna and Jian start to have feelings for one another as they realize they can work as a team. Jian is taken aback by Brianna’s resilience and kind heart. Brianna finds Jian is finally a member of the nobility she can trust.

Elyanna’s soldiers are found dead near Stonekeep. There is no reason they should be in the Borderlands, and not still in Sybera, since Elyanna was meant to stay at the Winter Palace.

Falada is killed mysteriously. Brianna suspects Elyanna, and worries she will reveal her true identity, which would mean Brianna is killed for treason. Brianna tries to find her, but with no success. Elyanna appears the night of the mid winter ball and challenges Brianna to a fight..

Brianna is tired of lying and tells Jian the truth, who banishes her from Stonekeep with nothing but her guards, food and money.

Elyanna is told that Brianna has been killed for stealing her position and pretending to be the princess.

Brianna is heart broken and leaves with Hai Rong and Jeremiah, following the voice on the wind that calls her name.

The story continues in Feathers of Blood!


Feathers of Blood, coming 6 October!

Rejected by her betrothed and banished into the wilderness, Brianna finds herself broken-hearted with nowhere to turn. She wants nothing more than to be left alone.

But greater threats loom across the Border, and there are whispers of war on the breeze.

The Spirit-Beasts are coming and Brianna might be the only thing that can stand in their way and stop the massacre of a nation.

But to do this she will have to face her worst enemy, who wants nothing more than to see her dead, and, worse, the man she once loved who let her down.


Kingdom of Feathers, coming 2022!

Kingdom of Feathers, the final book in the series, is coming March 2022! Preorder it now for just £1.99 and get ready to find out how Brianna and Jian’s story will end.

Lyndsey

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Podcasts for writers and readers

Hi friends! Well, I’m back with some more podcast recommendations, because I can’t not listen to podcasts all day, every day.

On a side note, if you’re a big podcast fan too, and you enjoy true crime, audio books and dark young adult stories, then you definitely need to listen to Sadie by Courtney Summers! It’s a bestselling novel that follows dual POVs – Sadie’s POV, as well as a podcast host who is investigating a missing person case for a podcast called The Girls. It’s incredible. Head to Audible (or your fave audio book provider) and download it right now! Or read my review to see if it’s your cup of tea.

OK, back to the actual real life podcasts. Here we go…

The Author Accountability Podcast

Hosted by Donna and Rhianne, The Author Accountability podcast is a writing craft resource that all writers and authors should know about.

With episodes discussing everything from word counts and writing software, to author interviews highlighting the various journeys writers take towards publication, and beyond, there’s something for every stage of the writer’s life.

Back in January 2021, I recorded an episode with Rhianne as a guest co-host while Donna was on maternity leave. We chatted about our current WIPs, what we were reading and watching at the time, and how we come up with our character names.

Listen to my episode here!

Follow the pod on Instagram


Unstoppable Authors

Every week, Angeline, Holly and Julia share their wealth of knowledge and experience on all things writing and publishing.

With over 100 episodes of insightful chats and interviews with some of your fave indie authors, there’s plenty of excellent content for you to binge on your daily walk or while you do the dishes (or is that just me?).

In August, I joined Julia to talk about my experience of collaborating with other indie authors on anthologies. Have a listen if you’re interested in working with your fellow authors and wondered how to get involved.

Listen to my episode here!

Follow the pod on Instagram


Through the Portal podcast

Through the Portal is a book club style podcast focusing on second world fantasy and sci fi, hosted by Chi Obasi and Alyssa Markins. Each month, they read a different book and interview the author, with a special section at the end for spoilers for those who’ve already read it. Then a second episode is released with the hosts chatting about the book and answering listener questions. It’s a really great way to have a deeper discussion about a book you’ve read and enjoyed with other readers, without having to leave your home!

Last month, I recorded an episode with Chi and Alyssa about my debut novel, The Fair Queen. It was so much fun to discuss the story in depth and share some sneak peeks about book two, as well as sharing behind the scenes info from my edits, such as how the story changed from the first draft to the published version.

Listen to my episode here!

Follow the pod on Instagram


The Writing Sparrow

Sarina interviews a different author each week and shares their insights on everything from writing and publishing to marketing for indie authors. Ever wondered how you could use TikTok to market your books? There’s an episode for that. Dreaming of writing a ten book series? There’s also an episode for that!

I’ll be recording an episode on marketing for indie authors with Sarina soon, so keep your eyes peeled for my episode going live!

Follow the pod on Instagram


88 Cups of Tea

And finally, if you’re a writer or reader who loves podcasts and you haven’t come across 88 Cups of Tea yet, then you must have been living under a troll bridge.

More than just a collection of incredible interviews with your favourite traditionally published authors and storytellers from the TV and big screen, 88Cups has become a huge community of incredible, like-minded readers and writers who love to hear and share great stories.

The top most downloaded episodes include Sarah J. Maas, Victoria Schwab and Samantha Shannon, plus there’s interviews with Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Garber, Tomi Adeyemi, Roshani Chokshi… the list goes on. And there are tons of interviews with literary agents who share their #MSWL (that’s manuscript wishlist to you and me) so you can brush up your query letter game and make sure you’re targeting the right agents.

Not only that, but the amazing host, Yin Chang, and her girlfriend Moonlynn Tsai, who is a chef, decided to start a charitable initiative to combat the rising xenophobia against the Asian community as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic by delivering free, culturally-thoughtful meals to those in need in their hometown of NYC. Heart of Dinner is an incredibly beautiful movement and something we should all be supporting and emulating in our own communities right now.


I hope you picked up a couple of new podcast recommendations and enjoyed listening to me chatting to some of the hosts about The Fair Queen and my writing journey.

Happy listening!

Lyndsey

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Review: Of Shadow and Ember by Shana Vernon

I’ve been waiting forever (OK, two weeks) to be able to fangirl over this book with you all. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and I’d already preordered it because it sounded amazing, but now I’m going to need it in paperback too so I can admire it on my shelf on a daily basis.

I interviewed the author, Shana Vernon, last week, so when you’re done reading this review pop over and have a read about Shana’s other books and the upcoming sequel!

Right, let’s get into it.

Review

Title: Of Shadow and Ember (The Heirs of Elaerys #1)

Author: Shana Vernon

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Ember-Heirs-Elaerys-Book-ebook/dp/B092TF6196/

Rating: 5/5


Where do I start? This book had my jaw on the floor at several moments, and kept my pulse racing from start to finish, whether it was a fierce action scene, a steamy sex scene or a shocking plot twist. I read Of Shadow and Ember quicker than any other book this year, I just couldn’t put it down!

The story follows three sisters, heiresses to a desert kingdom, as they each face the very different expectations of being a princess. Calida is the eldest and heir to the throne, with all of the responsibilities that entails. Zari is the spare and lives a life of luxury and boredom while waiting to see if she’ll be needed. Arianna is the youngest and has been trained as Sentinel, the kingdom’s secret assassin who takes care of any threat under cover of darkness, so as not to spark war.

The kingdom of Kalamia is in a precarious position and in order to sign peace treaties with its neighbours, the two younger daughters are to be sent away to marry foreign heirs. But moments after Arianna – the only one trained for battle – has left, the kingdom is invaded by brutal fae from a kingdom long forgotten, the home of beasts that are responsible for the murder of Arianna’s lover years earlier and whom she’s on a warpath to seek revenge against. Except, she’s on the other side of the world with no idea what’s happening at home, while her sisters try to save their kingdom.

I loved all three of the sisters, but Arianna definitely became my favourite, with her total self-confidence and strong sense of what’s right and wrong. She also had a wicked sense of humour and was a complete badass. The story is told from several POVs, including Arianna’s new mate and one of the brutes who invaded the kingdom of Kalamia (although everything is not as it seems and there are secrets and truths that we discover through his internal monologue).

When I first saw the contents page with several names, I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to keep track of who was who, but the author was able to set the scene in each change of POV so quickly and smoothly that I never found myself struggling to keep up. Even though the story was one of the most fast-paced I’ve read in ages. It swept me away and kept me turning the pages until the very last one, desperate to know what happened next in each POV.

There wasn’t one POV that I found boring or didn’t want to see at the top of the next chapter. If I had to choose a least favourite it would probably be Calida’s, but that’s only because being kept prisoner in your own castle isn’t quite as exciting as adventuring on the high seas or being far from home in a kingdom with completely different values as you search for information on the beast that killed your lover – whilst also slowly falling for the man you’ve been sent to marry, despite his reputation as the Scourge of Vale.

The world building was fantastic, I loved discovering more about each place and the people who inhabited it, and the romance was a real slow burn in one case, and a sort of ‘fated mates’ irrepressible collision in another. The steamy scenes all took place after the 75% mark, which I really appreciated as I prefer to see the build up of tension towards a love scene, it feels more credible to me – there’s definitely no insta-love here!

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book if you like any of the following:

  • fae,
  • elemental magic,
  • strong women (not just physically strong, these sisters are three very different types of strong),
  • winged fae males,
  • sexy shifters,
  • arranged marriage,
  • fated mates,
  • sass, snark and banter,
  • incredible world-building,
  • excellent character development,
  • a complex, fast-moving plot with lots of action,
  • steamy romance with actual meaning,
  • CLIFFHANGERS. Because I’m still reeling from that last chapter!!

It’s perfect for fans of Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, or anything by Sarah J. Maas really, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. Can book two be out now please??

Happy release day to Of Shadow and Ember! Buy your copy now, and then preorder book two, Of Earth and Bone, coming March 2022!

Lyndsey

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