Review: A Soul as Cold as Frost by Jennifer Kropf + Christmas coffee recipe!

Hello festive friends! Happy December.

I hope you’re getting into the holiday spirit, and if not, then you’re about to, because the 12 Days of Bookish Christmas Blog Hop is here!

Hosted by YA Sci-fi and Fantasy Addicts, each of the SIXTEEN posts (because we’re generous like that) will include a lovely bookish freebie (scroll to the bottom for mine) and a chance to enter our mega giveaway!

12 Days of Christmas


Review: A Soul as Cold as Frost by Jennifer Kropf

“Merry Christmas to all! And to all a good fright…”

The Quarrel of Sword and Bone was a death sentence for anyone who stepped into the arena with the deranged Queen, whose soul had crisped to frost in an age long since past.

Sixteen-year-old Helen Bell understood tragedy better than most kids growing up. She knew what it was like to wear clothes from donation bins and be mocked by the beautiful girls in high school. She thought those brutal experiences made her ready for anything, but she wasn’t ready for this.

After an eccentric girl opens Helen’s eyes to let her see the realm of Winter—a world with intersects tucked carefully into the cracks of our own, where monarchs have risen and fallen, it’s forbidden to mention the name of The Dead King, and the currency is gold rings—Helen discovers things are far from ordinary in Winter. After trying to deny the existence of a disrupting train horn ringing in her ears for days, Helen receives a mysterious summons from a group who call themselves “The Crimson Court” to enter into The Quarrel of Sword and Bone—a traditional duel performed before one thousand witnesses that leaves only one survivor—and she’s forced to finally pay attention to the handsome boy who’s been following her around with a warning on his tongue.

When the arrival of wicked villains propels Helen into the heart of Winter where there’s no going back, she finds herself being pursued by something else too—a whispered prayer battling on her behalf, and an ancient Truth that breathes living words of wisdom—the very wisdom forgotten by the Rime Folk when their disunity drove them to draw lines in the snow in an age of the past.

Helen must find a way out, or she’ll be dragged into the arena to face the crooked Queen head on before a crowd ready to watch her die.

The Winter Souls Series blends action and warm Christmas traditions, bringing the old forgotten tales of the season to life with new and grittier versions of famous characters out of old holiday legends, folklore, and myths; such as St. Nicholas, the Snow Queen, the Scrooge, and the Nutcracker.

A Soul as Cold as Frost is Jennifer Kropf’s debut novel, ideal for fans of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms by Meredith Rusu and Ashleigh Powell.


Title: A Soul as Cold as Frost (The Winter Souls #1)

Author: Jennifer Kropf

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Cold-Frost-Winter-Souls-ebook/dp/B08CCFWLLC/

Rating: 5 festive stars!

If you’re a fan of heart-warming, engaging fantasy books that you can read with your kids or your gran, then can I recommend checking out this series?

Kropf has combined all the best elements of your favourite middle grade books, like The Chronicles of Narnia, and some of the best Christmas stories, such as The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, to create a completely unique but familiar and comforting holiday read.

There are elements of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and even Harry Potter, as Helen discovers the magical world lying just beneath the surface of her normal, Canadian city. Speaking of Helen, she’s a totally relatable character, struggling to come to terms with the strange things that seem to keep happening around her, and slowly opening her eyes to the truth. She takes us on a real journey throughout the book, it’s a beautiful coming of age tale with elements of good versus evil, friendship and plenty of exciting action thrown in.

There is a subtle Christian undertone to some of the story, in a very similar vein to Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, so if you’re a fan of Christian fiction you’ll love the added layer, but if you’re not looking for it then you won’t notice it’s there.

My favourite thing about the book is Kropf’s way with words. She really knows how to turn a phrase and the descriptions of the settings, people and everything in between had my imagination running wild as the story played out around me like a movie. Kropf’s style is whimsical and captivating, it was like reading an old classic, but much more fun!

Book two, A Heart as Red as Paint was just released last month, so you’ve got two gorgeously festive fantasies to dive into this Christmas, and the wait for book three, A Crown as Sharp as Pines, is only a few months!


Stocking Fillers

The lovely Jennifer Kropf has a fabulous email newspaper that includes a yummy coffee recipe each week, so I’ve included the latest one for you below! PLUS if you sign up to get her emails, you’ll also be able to download the prequel novella Harmonies, which follows Charlie, a Green Kingdom boy, and Cora, a Red Kingdom girl, as they come together to solve a mystery and uncover the truth about both of their kingdoms.

Click here to sign up and download your free story!

Christmas Coffee

Ingredients:
– Cinnamon
– Nutmeg
– Brown Sugar
– Coffee
– Milk
– Whipped Cream
– Red and Green Sprinkles

Okay, here’s how you do it:
1) Mix a smidgen of cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar in a tiny bowl (you know your own preferences about how much sweetness you like in your coffee, so make your measurements accordingly.) Throw this right into the filter with your scoops of coffee grinds. 
2) Brew your coffee (I’m just going to go ahead and assume you know how to do this).
3) Pour your coffee, add your milk, splat a puff of whipped cream on top, and toss a pinch of sprinkles on top of it all.

Just magical. 
You’re welcome.


Click the image below to enter our mega giveaway!

Some lucky elves will win a bundle of prizes worth over $600, including paperbacks, ebooks, merch and Amazon gift cards! Merry Christmas, indeed!

Happy holidays, friends!

Lyndsey

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Interview: YA and NA fantasy author Bekah Berge

Happy Sunday friends, how was your week? I hope you’re taking the time to rest and recuperate before next week, you deserve to take it slow today and refill your cup, whether that’s reading a book, taking a nice, hot bath, going for a long walk, or playing your favourite music at full blast and dancing around your kitchen. (I’ll be doing all of those things, and going for a big roast dinner at the pub later, too!)

Today, I want to introduce you to an incredible woman who is not just a brilliant writer and a huge supporter of indie authors, she’s also a really inspiring human.

Meet Bekah Berge, author or Needlework and Sedendum, and one of the amazing authors I’m working with on Once Upon a Name!

Hi Bekah, thanks so much for joining me today! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi everyone, my name is Bekah Berge and I write YA and NA fantasy. When not writing, I am often found reading or trying out a new vegan recipe. I also have a rare chronic pain condition called CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) that can make life a little more complicated… 

YA fantasy is my favourite genre, and I love trying new recipes! I’ve seen your posts about CRPS on social media and it sounds like such a tough condition, I admire you so much for facing it head on and still going after your dreams! So, when did you start writing and what inspired you? 

I began writing a little over 10 years ago. I had been crafting stories in my head for years, but never thought of becoming a writer until one day when I decided to put my thoughts on a page. Over 400 pages later, I had my first book. It was awful with several plot holes, but I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to start writing another story. Now, over a decade later, I’ve written eight books and published four of them.  

Wow, eight books! You’re a total writing veteran. What would you say is your favourite book or genre?

My absolute favorite book of all time is Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey. I love reading fantasy, historical fiction, historical romance, rom coms, biographies, and a few classics. I’m a sucker for enemies-to-lovers, as well as anything set in or involving Egypt. 

Enemies to lovers gets me every single time. I haven’t read Brightly Burning but I’ll have to check it out! I love getting book recs from the authors I interview, they’re always the best. Can you tell us about your first published book?

My first published book was The Whisperings in the Shadows, which is part of the Shadow Series. It’s a fun series for me to write because my hero and villain are the same person. You’ll have to read it to learn more. 

Ooh, that sounds very intriguing! I can’t wait to read it. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings? 

For me, inspiration often comes in the form of music. Other times I’ll be inspired by a piece of poetry or (strangely) when I’m cleaning. People would be shocked by how many storylines have come to me while cleaning the kitchen.  

I get most of my ideas while doing mindless tasks like cleaning too, or out walking the dogs. Something about nature and no distractions, it’s my prime creative time. Are you a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Plotter.

Me too, I need a good, strong outline to keep me on track while my mind wanders off on a tangent! What are you working on right now?

I’m working on two short stories going in two different anthologies, as well as a few other projects that I’m keeping close to my chest for now. 

Exciting! I can’t wait to read your story for Once Upon a Name, and to find out more about your upcoming WIPs! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Figure out your “why” with the story. Why are you writing it? Why should readers care? Why is the character making that decision? Why does it drive the story forward? Once you know your “why” I think the story blossoms into something really magical for readers.  

That’s great advice, I definitely think motivation is really key to a story that grips readers and stays with them long after. So many books feel just slightly flat because the ‘why’ either isn’t there or isn’t credible enough.

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Bekah! Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books? 

Visit my website CRPSBookshelf.com to learn more about me and my books. I am also very active on Instagram and all four of my books are available on Amazon. 

Visit Bekah’s Website:  https://crpsbookshelf.com   

Sign up to Bekah’s Newsletter: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScKtpnIcpsNIV8gnvUfxHQAwK7VVj9RACEHdPbXaqrmIBNW2Q/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0

Follow her on Instagram: https://instagram.com/Bekah.Berge

Like Bekah’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/crpsbookshelf   


Bekah is currently raising funds to help her with the cost of her treatment for CRPS at the prestigious Spero Clinic. If you suffer from a chronic pain condition or know someone who does, then you’ll know how challenging and debilitating it can be. If you can spare just a few dollars to help Bekah reach her fundraising goal, I know it will be so appreciated!

Click here to donate to Bekah’s GoFundMe

And, of course, you can buy Bekah’s books too! Her newest release, Needlework, is a dark fantasy about a music festival and two ambitious young musicians, with themes of mental health and overcoming traumatic experiences. It’s a slow burn romance filled with secrets and the looming threat of war, with fully-formed characters and beautiful, descriptive writing.

Click here to visit Bekah’s Amazon Author page

Once Upon a Name is still available to preorder for just 99c, and will be released in April 2022. Bekah’s story, Salty Sweet, follows Norenia Scarlettreasure as she enters into a cooking competition against some shifty and shady fairy creatures!

Preorder Once Upon a Name

Happy reading, folks!

Lyndsey x

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m a huge true crime fan, and a podcast addict. As soon as I heard about Sadie, the story of a teenage girl on a journey of revenge, told via a serialised podcast in addition to her own POV, I knew I had to read it.

Not only that, but I chose to listen to the audio book for the full podcast experience, and if you take one thing from this review it’s that the audio book is the absolute best way to experience Sadie (in my humble opinion).

Review

Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sadie-Courtney-Summers-ebook/dp/B079DVQG97/

Rating: 5/5

Sadie is a relatively quick read, especially when you’re used to 800 page epic fantasies that convert into 30 hour audio books. At just under 8 hours, it’s definitely one of the quicker listens in my Audible library, but that might also be because it was so damn gripping and fast-paced, I found myself listening at all hours because I just needed to know what happened next.

The audio book is presented by not just one or two voice actors, but a full cast, so it genuinely felt like a podcast with every character/interviewee having their own voice. If I’m honest, I almost wish there had been more chapters from Sadie herself as I loved the voice Summers gave her titular character. And that’s without discussing the ending, which we’ll come to later. (No spoilers, but if you’ve heard anything about this book I’m sure it’s that the ending is a shocker).

We need to talk about trigger warnings, because Sadie touched on some of the darkest and most horrific things humans do to each other. If you’re at all triggered by child abuse, including sexual abuse, grooming, rape and molestation, then I wouldn’t recommend reading unless you’re prepared.

I would say that, as someone who has fortunately not experienced any of the above, it isn’t gratuitous and is handled with the seriousness that it deserves. But I wouldn’t want to tell you what someone who has been through those things would feel on reading this book, so I’ll just let you make the decision whether to read it for yourself.

The ending tore my heart out as I checked and rechecked that I hadn’t missed something and it was really, truly over. It wasn’t a happy or uplifting ending, it wasn’t even particularly hopeful, but it was real. And in the end, Sadie did what she set out, just perhaps not quite like she

Sadie is a book about revenge, about hunting monsters with human faces, and finding pure evil in some of the darkest and some of the brightest places. But beneath all of that, Sadie is a book about a girl who loved her sister with her whole, entire heart and only ever wanted to protect her. She didn’t always succeed, and sometimes she failed spectacularly, but she didn’t stop trying. Ever. Not until the very end.

If you like true crime, podcasts, really strong voice, quirky formats and stories about sibling relationships and unexpected endings, then you’ll love Sadie.

Lyndsey
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