Thursday, December 29, 2016

January Hiatus Notice

The title maaaay have given it away. But just in case…

I’m going on hiatus.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided to give in and allow myself a break. (Yes, I have to force myself to rest, it’s a problem.) You see, I’ve been blogging every. single. week. for the past 4 years. My 2013 New Year’s goal was to write a post weekly and…I just stuck with it. I’ve literally never missed a week. So, on the one hand, my OCD self wants to see how long I can keep this up. But my exhausted brain is all NO STAHP. I think, for once, I’m gonna listen to common sense. I don’t think the world will explode if I miss a few weeks…?

As I mentioned in my Christmas post, the last three months have been very stressful, tiring ones. And December wasn’t quite as restful as I would have liked. In light of this, I’ve finally decided to take a January blogging hiatus. I may only miss the first couple of weeks of January. But in all likelihood, I’ll probably just allow myself the whole month to recuperate. I’m also possibly going out of town some in January, so I think it’ll be a good time for a break.

These last few months have drained me quite a bit. I kept trying to just go, go, go and ignore it, but it seems to have caught up with me. I think it’ll be good for me both physically and mentally to step away for a while and try to recover. Which means I may also be a little absent not only on my blog, but other blogs and emails and whatnot as well. Or I may be even more active on them, because my attempts at breaks never go as planned. >.> But either way, my blog will be resting.

BUT DO NOT WORRY. I shall absolutely be back by February at the latest. Blogging and chatting with you guys is one of my greatest joys in life. It’s just after 4 straight years of consistent blogging and some extremely stressful past months, my brain needs a little vacation.

I appreciate each and every one of you so very, very much. I hope you have an explosively fun New Year’s (get it, get it? because fireworks???), and I’m praying you will all have the absolute best 2017.

I’ll see you in the new year! Love you guys! <3

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016: The Year of Books

Happy Day after Christmas! I hope you all had an absolutely wonderful Christmas. Can you believe in just a few days we’ll be welcoming in 2017??? BECAUSE I CANNOT.

WHERE DID 2016 GO???? WHERE DID TIME GO???? WHERE DID MY SANITY GO??????? (Oh yeah, I lost it during NaNo and it still hasn’t returned…)

2016 was…well, it was an interesting year. A lot of highs, but also some really awful lows. It was a year of growth and faith and change.

But it was also a year of BOOKS. Which is funny because I actually didn’t read very many books at all this year. I’m trying to accept the fact that I’m not a fast reader anymore. When I was young, I’d devour books like a famished, word-eating piranha. But these days, well, I have to balance it with blogging and writing and, ya know, life. I suppose slow and steady reading isn’t something to be ashamed of though. Life happens. Reading doesn’t always. Such is life. (Sadly.)

ANYWAYS. Even though, ironically, I didn’t read a whole lot this year, somehow I feel like the whole years revolved around books. And you don’t hear me complaining one little bit.

First of all, there’s my job at a bookshop. I got the job back in October 2015, but this was my first full year to have that job (or any job technically). But what really turned this into “the year of books” was the enormous library sale that happened back in April and then the next week a trip out of town to an enormous bookstore causing me to get over 100 books in two weeks. I like April. I want to relive April. April was a good month.

Of course, that meant buying new bookshelves and completely rearranging my room to fit new said books and shelves in. It also spurred me on to create a #Bookstagram, because, ya know, I got to take pictures of my children like any good mother, right?

ALSO. Four of my blogging/writing buddies PUBLISHED THEIR BOOKS this year. Oh happy day (year?)!

So basically it was just a fantastic year on the bookish side of things!

In honor of that, I decided to share with you guys all the books I read this year. Which is a total of: 35. Yeah, see? Not very impressive. At all. But, again, I’m trying to accept the fact that I’m a slow reader these days. And that’s okay. Fortunately, I loved the majority of what I read this year. So let’s get to it! In order of when I read them.

Note: This got long. So you may just want to skim through and read my thoughts on any books that interest you. I think this post is more for me to be able to look back at what I read than anything. *sheepish grin*

(All titles link to their GoodReads pages.)

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

4 stars

This was a fantastic book to start out the year with! STEAMPUNK, PEOPLE. STEAMPUNK. And alternate universes and just bizarre epic thiiiings!!! My only complaint was that it felt a little too…fast, without enough quiet time with the characters to really get to know them. The emotion felt lacking because every single time you think they’re about to have a deep conversation, BOOM! Another action scene! Action scenes are amazing buuut you gotta have a little time to slow down and develop your characters. STILL. This book was amazing and YOU SHOULD READ IT.


The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall

5 stars

Hoooow have I gone my whole life without this precious book??? (Shoutout to Deborah O'Carroll for giving me this book. She is my book fairy! <3) It involves tiny people and adventure and yet still has this…homey, comfortable feel, like I could just crawl inside the world and happily live there for all my days. It’s seriously one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read, and I think from now on will be one of those that will forever feel like home.


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

4 stars

I had seen people raving over this one for a while, and one day found it for like $2 at a thrift shop, so obviously I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a very, very rare day I read a contemporary but I’ve actually been kind of in the mood for them and more open toward reading them lately. (What is happening to me????) This book…what do I say? I totally understand the raving. It was kind of amazing. Buuut it also had language. Like serious, completely unnecessary language. Which is sad, because it was good, but I can’t recommend it to anyone. Then again, it’s prooobably not everyone’s cup of tea anyway. That ending…gracious. I may never recover.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

2 stars

Blergh. I felt nothing for this book. I’d been curious about it for a while, and then when I saw they were making a movie I broke down and gave it a try before seeing the movie. (Except…I still haven’t seen the movie. #Fail) This was not worth slogging through 457 pages through. The characters annoyed me, there was also foul language (seriously, people, can we be a bit more classy?), and there were just too many unnecessary scenes. The plot was pretty interesting, but not enough for me to have any desire to continue the series. (On GoodReads I have a slightly longer review if you’re interested.)


Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

5 stars

This was technically a reread because I hadn’t read the rest of the series and I wanted to read them all together. Which was an amazing plan because I LOVED THIS SERIES. This series was the highlight of my reading year. Futuristic fairytale retellings with the most fun writing and adorable characters and just YES. Cinderella is a CYBORG. Need I say more? (I actually wrote a review for Cinder after the first time I read it back in 2014.)


Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

4 stars

Scarlet was actually my least favorite of the 4 main Lunar Chronicles books but I STILL LOVED IT. I just enjoyed the others even more. This one is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, which I thought was epic. We need more of these! And Wolf was precious. Scarlet herself kiiinda annoyed me sometimes, and I felt as though the romance happened a little too fast. But again, it’s a Lunar Chronicles book so obviously I still loved it.


Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

5 stars

THIS OOOONE!!!!!!!!!!!! You prooobably all know my love for it by now since I’ve been screaming about it since I read it back in March. BUT THIS BOOOOOOK!!!!!!!!! Absolutely 100% my favorite of this series, AND my all time favorite book read this year. Period. Cress is my favoritest female in the series and then there’s THORNE. <3333 And then Thorne x Cress!!!! Now officially my second favorite fictional couple EVER after Howl and Sophie (from Howl’s Moving Castle). I JUST LOVED THIS BOOK OKAY. It’s worth reading the whole series just for this one! (Except the whole series is amazing, so…)


Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

3 stars

Okay, this was technically my least favorite of the series, not Scarlet, but it’s just a prequel novella so I don’t know if it counts. It’s about the main villain, which is pretty cool, buuut with villains comes, erm, immoral behavior. I was really disappointed with the content of this book because none of the others had anything like this. I feel like your content needs to stay consistent with a series and not shock your readers in the middle of the series, ya know? Now, again, it’s about the villain, so none of the behavior done in the book is exactly portrayed as a good thing, but still. I don’t really recommend reading this one, and it’s not necessary at all to understand the series. It was kinda cool, but not really worth the content.


Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

5 stars

THE EPIC FINALE! AND IT WAS INDEED EPIC. Cress was still my favorite, but Winter did not disappoint in any way. And Winter herself was a precious human bean whom I wanted to hug and squeeze and call George. I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS OKAY? AND THIS SERIES. IF YOU CAN’T TELL. (I know I hide my feelings well.)


Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) by Marissa Meyer

5 stars

Not only did we get an amazing series, but Marissa Meyer also treated us with a whole book of short stories to go along with it! I’m usually not much of a short story person, but these were fantastic! I technically read this in between reading the main books. Marissa Meyer has a wonderful suggested reading order on her blog for all the books and short stories, which I followed, and it definitely enhanced my already epic experience with these books. Oddly, my favorite story in this short story collection was a random one not about the main characters. It was a Little Mermaid retelling and almost made me cry. TWICE. Just a little short story. GAH. I LOVED IT. And then there’s a story at the end of this which is basically like an epilogue for the whole series and SDKLJF:LJS:LDJF. PERFECTION.

10/10 recommend reading this whole series together. It was an experience I want to relive sometime!


The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

4 stars

WHY OH WHY OH WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS SERIES????? I’ve been meaning to since I was like an early TEEN. And here I am in my twenties only now getting to them. #Shame These books are hilarious!!! I’m usually not a huge fan of Greek gods and things, but, really, this series more makes fun of them than anything. It’s all so goofy and fun. Plus the characters! Percy x Annabeth is also a new favorite ship. (All the new ships that formed this year!)


The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan

4 stars

I felt like this was the weakest of the series. The plot fell a little flat, not as big and grand as the other books, but it was still a lot of fun! And Percy and Grover’s friendship was pretty fantastic in this one.


The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan

4 stars

This one made up for the slight meh plot of the last! Things start getting much deeper and darker from this point on. I think it was by this book that I realized a new series obsession had begun. I am now a proud member of the Camp Half-Blood fandom and there will be no going back!


The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan

5 stars

MY FAVORITE. I loooved the idea of the ridiculously huge and crazy complicated labyrinth and the FEEELS. Sometimes middle-grade books don’t pack a huge punch with the feels (and you all know feelsy books are my fave), but wow, this one! I’m still recovering months later! *collapses*


The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan

5 stars

What a finale! It was a little surprising that the whole book was basically one battle. But somehow it worked. AND I LOVED IT. It was fun and satisfying and just YES. A WONDERFUL FINALE. Plus the ending. THE ENDING!!! I still grin like a goofy monkey every time I think about the ending.

Two epic series read back-to-back. It was a happy reading time!


Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal

5 stars

EXCUSE ME WHILE I FLAIL FOR A MILLION YEARS. I got to read this book a couple of years ago long before it was published and fell. in. love. Mirriam is one of the greatest writers in existence. She is amazing! So when I learned she was getting Paper Crowns published, well. I MAY HAVE DIED FROM HAPPINESS. Obviously I bought it right away and devoured it again and it was just as amazing and whimsical and gorgeous and wonderful as I remembered! My second favorite read of the year after Cress! (I did a full review of this one.)


The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones

3 stars

If you didn’t know (okay, I know you do) my favorite book of all time is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. So of course I wanted to try any and everything else she has written. Sadly…this wasn’t my favorite. It had some good, fun parts, but it was a little…too weird for me (which I didn’t think was possible). The kids were really rotten and were constantly making me nervous with their antics and…I don’t know. I liked quite a bit of it, just didn’t find it spectacular.


Brothers-in-Arms by Jack Lewis Baillot

5 stars

OKAY. THIS BOOK. This scarred me for LIFE. In the best way possible. (I did tell you I love feelsy books.) I have been following Jack’s blog for years and was ECSTATIC when she announced this book was getting a publisher. I’m not even much of a historical fiction reader but I knew I NEEDED THIS. Because it’s about FRIENDSHIP. Which is the best thing ever. And oooooh, the friendship of this story. Let me just hug Franz and Japhet forever! This book made me feel SO. MUCH. ALL THE FEELS. IT WAS AMAZING. (Full review HERE.)


Bones of Faerie (Bones of Faerie #1) by Janni Lee Simner

4 stars

Okay, wow. THIS IS A COOL BOOK. My best friend insisted I read it, and WITH GOOD REASON. I feel like it’s super obscure, which is sad, because IT’S AWESOME. The woooorld! It’s like this post-apocalyptic world after evil faeries came and took over everything. COOL, RIGHT? The worldbuilding was phenomenal! But…the plot was so simple. It worked, though, because it has a very simplistically beautiful, eerie, fairytale-like feel which is, in fact, one of my most favorite writing styles ever. BUT. I also adore ginormous epic plots and I felt like this amazing world deserved that. The plot was too simple and short for such a spectacular world. STILL. The story was really, really good, and if you like dark fairytales I’d say it’s worth a read! (It is rather dark and odd though, so be warned.)


Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

4 stars

*gasp* Another contemporary?? I knoooow! My tastes are broadening, it’s crazy! This was a really cute book, and I was pleasantly surprised at how clean it was. Although it did shed a bad light on homeschoolers, and as someone who was homeschooled, that always irks me. But otherwise it was just a clean, fun little story about how the quirky, happy-go-lucky “Stargirl” flips a high school on its head. (I have a little GoodReads review HERE.)


Dragonwitch (Tales of Goldstone Wood #5) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

5 stars

It has been WAY too long since I’ve continued the Goldstone Wood books! I LOVE THIS SERIES. Why I haven’t read all of them yet, I DON’T KNOW. It was so nice returning to this series. Dragonwitch was just as gorgeous and amazing and epic as the other books. Not my top favorite of the series, but still utterly deserving of 5 stars. It had some precious new characters but also featured Eanrin and Imraldera quite a lot which is basically a necessity because THOSE TWO. <3333


The Peculiar (The Peculiar #1) by Stefan Bachmann

4 stars

This one randomly came into the bookshop I work it (perks of working at a secondhand bookstore) and it immediately caught my eye because HELLO? STEAMPUNK. I am so happy I got it! Not only is it steampunk. But it’s steampunk with FAERIES. Two of my favoritest things! AND it has this perfectly British-like style to it which makes it so fun. It was…weird. But the good kind of weird! The best way I can describe it is that it felt like a Tim Burton movie. Seriously, Tim Burton needs to pick this one up. It would be perfect! It’s kinda dark and bizarre but totally epic. Although, like Bones of Faerie, the world is AH-MAY-ZING but the plot kinda simple. I think I have too high expectations for plots? Maybe I read too many ginormous, in depth series??? I DON’T KNOW. But still. Steampunk + faeries + British-feel = A HAPPY CHRISTINE. Except! It ended on a cliffhanger. I DID NOT REALIZE IT WASN’T A STAND ALONE. So…


The Whatnot (The Peculiar #2) by Stefan Bachman

4 stars

…I immediately bought the sequel. *sheepish grin* And loved it just as much if not more than the first! I really can’t decide which one I like better. They were equally good! These books are creepy, but the fun kinda creepy! Like I said, totally a Tim Burton-like story. So if you like bizarre steampunk and/or dark faerie stories YOU NEED TO READ THESE. Just have the sequel on hand after reading the first book because THAT CLIFFHANGER. D:


The Beguilers by Kate Thompson

1 star

(Okay, technically I read this one in between The Peculiar and The Whatnot but I wanted to stick them together.) This was my least favorite book to read this year. Ugh. It was such a waste of time. Thankfully, it was super short, so not too much time, but still. Basically the WHOLE. BOOK. is just watching this girl climb a mountain so she can capture a mysterious Beguiler (some creature made of light that is always luring people to their deaths). But…NOTHING HAPPENS. And the main character is so flat. Not to mention there was waaaay too much telling. Hardly any showing, only teensy tiny bits of dialogue, and next to no action to speak of. It was tedious to get through. Ugh. Although I think it won some awards and things, so it could just be an “it’s me, not you” thing? I don’t know. It just bored me to death.*shrugs*


Goddess Tithe (Tales of Goldstone Wood #5.5) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

5 stars

After reading Dragonwitch I was still desperately in the mood for more Goldstone Wood. This little novella was just the fix! Even more so when I discovered it took place within the time of Veiled Rose which is my faaaaavorite Goldstone book! (So far.) It’s during the time when Lionheart traveled by sea with Captain Sunan, a part that’s mentioned in Veiled Rose, but not shown. Well, this novella gives us the whole adventure and it was a DELIGHT.


The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

3 stars

You should know, The Twelve Dancing Princesses is my favorite fairytale after Beauty and the Beast, and I’m obsessed with all things Arthurian Legend. So when I discovered there was a 12DP retelling with Arthurian legend weaved within I KNEW I NEEDED IT. But…it wasn’t all that great. It was kinda cheesy and ridiculous, to be honest. It had the WORST insta-love I have ever read. No joke. It was ABSURD. There was also a surprising amount of sensuality going on for such a little unassuming book. Nothing too bad, just more than I expected from a book like this. And to go along with the insta-love, the plot was really, really illogical. BUT. It wasn’t all bad. It had some fun elements, and a very beautiful fairytale feel that I’m a sucker for. Just…the whole plot needed work.


Twinepathy by C.B. Cook

5 stars

I had such a blast with this book! When C.B. Cook announced she was publishing this I knew I needed it! SUPERHEROES. AND TWINS. HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG??? It was just FUN. The characters and plot were epic, and it had the coolest, most unique superpowers. I absolutely loved it! (Full review HERE.)


The Rose and the Balloon by Kirsten Fichter

5 stars

THIS LITTLE NOVELLA. I got to beta read it back in the day, and when Kirsten Fichter announced she was publishing it I was SO. ECSTATIC. Like Paper Crowns, I snatched it up the second it was available, and how delightful was it to have an actual, for real physical copy in meh hands. This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling (which automatically means I love it, duh) with the most precious characters, witty writing, fun plot, HOT AIR BALLOONS (:D :D :D), and a touch of steampunk. I ADORE IT. (Full review HERE.)


Defying Shadows (Rising Shadows #3) by Ashley Townsend

4 stars

I NEED TO FLAIL FOREVER. I’ve been waiting for this finale after reading the first books (Rising Shadows and Chasing Shadows) last year. And it was an AMAZING FINALE. Time travel and precious characters and feels for daaaaaays! What more do you need? (Full review HERE.) (Look at me reviewing things. That doesn’t happen often.)


Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles #1) by Jaye L. Knight

5 stars

LOOK, GUYS. I READ IT. I think almost every single one of you have screamed at me in some form or fashion to READ THIS BOOK. AND I DID. AND I LOVED IT. It’s suuch a good, epic Christian fantasy series with the most lovable characters! JACE. AND KYRIN WAS SO SWEET. AND KADEN. AND JAAAAACE. Did I mention Jace? Even the minor characters are all precious babies. Jaye L. Knight has a gift for character creation. Basically I loved this and what took me so long to read it??????


Half-Blood (Ilyon Chronicles #1.5) by Jaye L. Knight

5 stars

You better believe I snatched up the prequel novella the second I finished Resistance. This one is about Jace’s life before the events of Resistance and oh my poor bleeding heart. MY BABY JACE. This book was PAINFUL. And I loved every word of it! Gimme the pain and emotions!


The King’s Scrolls (Ilyon Chronicles #3) by Jaye L. Knight

5 stars

Yep, the obsession has begun! And it’s a good thing I like painful, emotional stories because SOMEONE HOLD ME. THIS BOOOOOK. I was an emotional wreck. All the feels. All the pain. All the tears. And yes, I LOVED IT. Because I apparently don’t value my heart at all. I’d say this one was just as good as the first book! Maybe even more because THERE WERE DRAGONS. Dragons! DRAGOOOOONS!!!!


Grey Stone by Jean Knight Pace & Jacob Kennedy

3 stars

I’ve never read anything like this before. It was very interesting! Not my favorite type of thing, but still intriguing enough to keep my interest. It involved cool werewolves, and talking dogs, and awesome talking cats and a super epic plot. I couldn’t get too into the distant feeling writing style, but it was still a fun story! (Full review HERE.)


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

2 stars

I’ve always wanted to try a Neil Gaiman book, and this one in particular, but…I’m not sure I liked it. I can’t decide if I loved it or loathed it, honestly. The story was fascinating. One of those books that just can’t be put down. But it was also…weird. Actually, I don’t think weird is a strong enough word for this story. I don’t even know what it was. Definitely nothing like I’ve ever read. And I don’t think I liked it. Even though I just HAD to know what happened next, the whole thing made me feel kinda icky. Not to mention there was a certain inappropriate scene I did not appreciate. *grumble, grumble* So did I enjoy it? Yeah. But I kind of also regret reading it. It just…wasn’t my thing. Creepy and weird and icky. Definitely not the feel-good book of the year.


Paradox by A.J. Paquette

3 stars

For some really weird reason, I’ve been in the mood for a futuristic, survivor-type story. Random, I know. I get in weird moods. Then, lo and behold, just as I was feeling this I happened to find this little book for $2. It’s about a girl trying to survive on an alien planet. Perfect. Except…I wasn’t wowed. It was okay, sometimes very good. The plot actually did satisfy my super bizarre craving. I’m not the biggest sci-fi person, but I do absolutely and completely love survivor and/or post-apocalyptic stories (so if you know of any good ones, share with me!). And this had just that. The plot kept my engaged, but the characters are everything for me in books and, well, these characters were so flat. Mainly the protagonist, Ana. I felt absolutely nothing for her…except occasional annoyance. She was your typical I-can-do-everything-myself female character that is so absurdly common in YA books. She’s portrayed as the cliché “strong female character”. Guess what? Being rude and having no emotions is not synonymous for “strong”. Buuut that’s a rant for another day. All-in-all, this book was interesting, and had a couple of good plot twists, but I just couldn’t get much into it because the characters were so flat. The writing, though not bad, could have been a bit more…emotional I think. And it was too short. I think it could have fixed a lot of things if it had been longer. But… *shrugs* It was still a fun read. Just nothing super amazing.




And there we have my 2016 in books! Almost all 4 or 5 stars with only one 1 star. I’d definitely call that a successful reading year!


My attempt at a book flower with most of the books I read this year.


Also if you haven’t gotten enough bookishness from this monster post (but really, who can get tired of books??), Ellie @ On the Other Side of Reality did a collaboration post where a bunch of bloggers shared what their favorite and least favorite books were this year. And I was one of the contributors, so obviously you want to go over there and read it. *nod, nod* You can find the post HERE.

OKAY. I think I am finally done. *hears all the sighs of relief*

I do so hope you all have a wonderful last week of 2016 and an utterly blessed 2017 (hopefully filled with many, many delightful books)! Let’s make it a good one, shall we?

Obviously I need to know, what was your favorite book you read this year? What about least favorite? Did you have a good reading year? Did you have a good YEAR??? Share with me some of your highlights!

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Time of Peace

Well, will you look at that, Christmas is just a week away. If you’re like me, it feels like 2016 just started. And yet, here we are at the end of it, about to celebrate Christmas. How did that happen???

Despite the year breaking speed limits, it was, in fact, 365 days (wait, this was a leap year, so 366?). And, well, a lot can happen in 366 days. A lot of heartbreak, a lot of joy, a lot of change. Each year brings something new—good and bad. And, let’s face it, life can be stressful.

That’s why I love how Christmas is at the end of the year. It’s like a calming breath after a heavy workout. The year is nearly done, Christmas break is here, and now it’s time to get with family and friends. To put on that long awaited Christmas music. To reminisce over Christmas ornaments while decorating the tree. To consume far too many hot, sugary drinks and cookies.

It’s a time of joy. And it’s a time of peace.

Yes, with Christmas comes a whole other load of stress. But should it be? Does it have to?

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Is this not the time to celebrate the One Who came and gave it all for us, instead of stressing over getting each other material possessions?

To refuel and remember His ultimate gift?

In September I had something tragic happen to a family dear to me. In October I gave myself a headache trying to plot More Gold than Sunlight, in November I completely ignored life and spent every waking hour writing MGtS, and then December came and I had to catch up on everything I ignored during November and do all the Christmas prepping. To put it simply: I’m tired.

But you know what?


So for the remainder of December, I want to relax. And I want to soak in every moment. Yes, there are still many things to do—a whole list of tasks. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy each moment. That doesn’t mean I can’t revel in the very reason this season exists.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

The Prince of Peace came for you. For me.

This year wasn’t this easiest. And maybe it wasn’t for you either. Maybe you’re feeling tired and stressed and downhearted. Maybe this year took a lot out of you.

Me too.

2017 is nearing. And with it comes new challenges and possibilities. But right now, it’s Christmas time. Right now, it’s time to release the burdens of 2016.

Right now, it’s time to take a breath.

I’m planning on refueling, enjoying this blessed season so I shall be prepared for the next. And I’d love it if you’d join me. Because it’s Christmas. It’s the time of peace and joy, because HE is peace and joy.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Let’s make these last two weeks ones of rejuvenation. I think we could all use it. I know I sure could.

I do so hope you all have a blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

More Gold than Sunlight Snippets

As promised, I am sharing snippets from More Gold than Sunlight with you guys today! Just know, I wrote this whole monstrous thing in 36 days running on very little sleep, so who even knows what the quality of these are. *shudders*

Also it was very hard finding snippets with no spoilers! This is a FINALE. The whole book is spoilers! So…I may be giving everything away. Who even knows. I just figured everyone will forget any spoilers I reveal today by the time these books are actually readable. *grins*

Thank you all SO much for your enthusiasm for this book and cheering me on. I don’t think I would have had the motivation to finish it without each and every one of you. <3

All right. SNIPPETS. Proceed at your own risk…





“Goodness, it sure feels good to have those off.” Airen stepped up, rubbing his bruised wrists, now free of the manacles. His face brightened at the sight of Nemayn. “Well, hello there, girl, it's been a while.”

Nemayn hummed and flapped her wings in greeting. Prince Airen had been around a lot during dragon rider training, sometimes hanging around in the dragon keep as much as the riders. Iavin had never been quite sure if it was because the Prince's cousins, Naidren and Nyria, were both dragon riders, or if the Prince just really liked dragons. Or maybe it had something to do with Eryth. She and the Prince had always spent an awful lot of time together... That thought got him moving again.

He hauled up Nemayn's saddle from where it lay in the back of her stall. She dropped to her belly so he could shove it atop her back.

“Ah, let me help you with that.” Airen bustled over and pushed it the rest of the way up with ease, then helped with the buckles.

Iavin stepped back, blinking. “Th—thank you, my lord.” Now alone in the keep, without Airen's manacles or the watchful eye of the Father Dragon, he remembered who stood before him.

“Oh no, none of that. You're my rescuer after all.” The Prince turned and gave him the widest of grins.

Iavin attempted a laugh, but it sounded more like a dying goat.


~ ~ ~


Iavin made his way well away from the keep before climbing atop a mound of broken buildings. Or trying. His muscles trembled so violently it took a few tries. Finally, at the top, he looked down upon the city. His heart hammered with such force white spots dotted his vision.

He had witnessed legends come to life, rode upon the Mother Dragon herself, fought in multiple battles. But nothing compared to what he was about to do—address a whole crowd.


~ ~ ~


Images of home flashed in Iavin’s mind—his fellow dragon riders laughing in the dragon keep, his favorite chair in the castle library, his mother's slender hands threading a sewing needle, his father's boisterous laugh. If he didn't do this one thing, all of that may never exist again. His home, his loved ones—gone.

Prince Airen and Nemayn believed he was brave. It was time to prove that he could be. For Aerigethel.

For Sivral.

With memories of home warming his heart, he opened his eyes.


~ ~ ~


Before Naidren could talk himself out of it, he marched straight for the castle steps.

The four guards standing in front of the massive black doors straightened at his approach. Two raised their spears and the other two had swords double the size of his. He tried to ignore this fact and held his chin high.

“I want to see Lord Vithen.”

The guards burst into laughter.

One pointed his spear at Naidren's chest. “Move along, peasant boy, before we make you.”

All right, perhaps he should have rubbed out the clumps of dirt in his hair and straightened his tunic. No doubt he did look like a vagabond, but it was too late now. He stood his ground, forcing himself to maintain eye contact with the man. “I'm here to join the Velnoroth army.”

“You?” Amusement gleamed in the man's dark eyes. “You're nothing but a boy.”

Curse his boyish face. He had traveled the continent, to the darkest corner of Aerigethel, and was still mistaken for being much younger than he really was. Standing there trying to convince four enemy guards he was actually twenty, not twelve, had not been his plan for that morning.


~ ~ ~


Darven slid down as well, nearly knocking his head on the tip of an overarching boulder. He snagged his pack from a hook on the saddle, and frowned. It got lighter by the day. Dangerously light. They'd have to find some game soon.

Leiden stood swishing his nearly empty water flask, seeming to have the same thought. “This sure would be easier if Velnoroth had more streams. Or a lake. Or just some rain sometimes.”

Rem plopped to the ground, slipped off his boot, and poured a hunk of sand out of it. “Honestly, sometimes I can't blame the dark elves for wanting to live in other parts of Aerigethel.”

Darven stared out between two boulders into the wasteland. “If they want more water, they can go jump in the ocean for all I care. But they're not taking my home.”

“Oh, I plan on fighting them to the end,” Rem assured. “I'm just saying they could have asked nicely.”

“A please and thank you can go a long way,” Leiden agreed.

Darven rolled his eyes, but couldn't stop the slight tugging of his lips. It had been a long, long journey, and yet his companions still found the time to make jokes.


~ ~ ~


“Nyria, is that you?” The voice broke her away. She pulled back from Naidren to face the girl before her. She blinked a moment, trying to let reality sink in again.


Smiling, the girl nodded. “It's me.”

Something bubbled inside her. Something she had not felt for a long, long time. But it felt familiar, right. Excitement? No, happiness. Grinning, she threw her arms around the girl. “I can't believe you're here!”

Erra breathed a laugh and patted her back. “I can't either, really.”

This made her jerk back, a sudden rush of questions pouring in. Anxiety slowly ate away at the happiness. “Why are you here? You shouldn't be here!”

Naidren slid a hand over her shoulder. He gave her a warm smile. “My sister is here, so this is exactly where I should be. I...” His smile faded away and he licked his lips. “I should have been here a long time ago.”

A lump formed in her throat. “You're here now. Besides,” she forced out a smile, “I'm the one that saved you.

His lips parted in surprise for half a moment, and then he burst into laughter. “And I've been working so hard on being the big hero.”


~ ~ ~


Nyria grabbed her own dagger from the man's back, while Erra collected the second guard's sword. Just as they stepped out the door, voices carried down the stairway.

“I don't see why you want me to touch a bunch of dragon eggs. I've never managed to hatch a dragon before.”

“Shut up and keep moving!”

Nyria froze. She recognized that first voice. Judging by the wide-eyed looks of her companions, they did too. In one accord, they all darted up the stairs.

Heading down the hall to the right, an enormous dark elf shoved a dark haired young man in chains. Nyria and Mayhem ran ahead of Naidren and Erra. Mayhem tackled the dark elf to the ground. Her teeth was in his throat before the man could even scream. The prisoner stared down at his rescuer before locking his wide eyes on Nyria.

“Rem!” She threw her arms around his neck. He staggered, but caught himself and quickly returned her embrace.

“What are you doing here?”

She pulled back, eyeing her good friend up and down. A purple bruise swelled his left cheek, but otherwise he seemed unharmed. “I should ask you the same thing.”

That familiar playful spark she had so missed danced in his blue eyes. “I was here to rescue you.”

“She's just stealing everyone's thunder today.” Naidren stepped up to Nyria. “But, gracious, is it good to see you.”

“Is it ever.” Erra pulled him into a quick squeeze and then just as quickly punched him in the arm. “Except you shouldn't be here, you lout.”

Rem's eyes widened. “You're one to talk. Since when are you two here?”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Nyria looked from one face to the other. “You three didn't come together?”

“I came with Darven and Leiden,” Rem said.

She wrinkled her brow. “You know Darven and Leiden?”

“Certainly. We came here all the way from Sivral together. Iavin and Sayleth started out with us but they—“ He cut himself off, apparently taking note of the confused faces around him. “All right, maybe we should leave explanations for later?”

Naidren nodded. “Probably for the best.”


~ ~ ~


Darven watched, raising an eyebrow at Mayhem as she slowly thawed Barveris's body. “Who's the smaller dragon?”

“She's mine,” Nyria said.

He turned to her and blinked, looking from her to Naidren as if he only just realized the oddity of their presence. Nyria just smiled.

“It's so good to see you, Darven.”

He nodded slowly. “The same to you. In fact, you and Iraila are the main reasons I'm here. But how are you both...?” His confused gaze glanced over at Mayhem again, then he just shook his head and rubbed his fingers against his temple. “Obviously there's a lot a missed. Is there anyone else I know running around here?”

“Let's pray to the Creator there's not.” Naidren stepped over to him. “Are you all right?”

Darven eyed him up and down. “Probably better than you. What kind of trouble has your sister gotten you into this time?”

“Oh, the usual.”

The two stared at each other for a moment, before both of them cracked a smile. Naidren reached out, and they clasped forearms.

“Good to see you, Darven.”

Darven nodded. “It's been a while.”

Nyria grinned. Naidren used to be so intimidated by Darven's strong, quiet presence during dragon rider training. Funny the kind of bonds the end of the world formed.


~ ~ ~


For a brief, horrible moment, nothing but air rushed around Iavin’s body. A second later, he slammed onto rock solid scales. His clothes slid on the sleek surface and for the third time in the past few minutes he slipped down a dragon's back. But this time, multiple hands caught him. They dragged him back up and set him upright. He sat there, trying his very best to settle his roiling stomach. White spots swirled across his vision. He blinked, and as the haze cleared, a familiar face came into view.

Sayleth's silvery blue eyes hovered inches from his face.

He attempted to say her name but his tongue twisted around itself and it came out more like, “Srmlith?”

Her face cracked open into a dazzling grin and she threw her arms around him.


~ ~ ~


They were going to Thruhvinian. He was returning to the broken city he had spent so many weeks in. Weeks watching Cael become more and more corrupt. Weeks watching Aerigethel slowly be plagued by the enemy. He was going back, and this time he'd be fighting. Apparently. Because they had seemed to have forgotten to ask if he wanted to fight or not.

And he was so glad they had forgotten him.

If they had asked him, he would be forced to admit his vote was to fly straight back to the Arctic Lands where the Mother Dragon had come from and hide there until they all froze to death. But, of course, that wasn't the right plan, just the one he leaned in favor of.

Instead they would fight, and maybe start taking back the Aerigethel they all loved. Or die trying.

Well, Iavin, you can't live forever.

But he had sort of, kind of hoped to live at least a little past twenty-one.


~ ~ ~


Should he go back? Airen’s heart screamed at him to race back to his father as quickly as humanly (or dragonly?) possible. His mind—at least that tiny common sense part of his mind—was very firm on escaping, getting reinforcements, and then returning.

He never was an advocate for common sense.

What did Nemayn think of all this? The dragon had proven to be a very brave and fine companion—helping him find game, starting fires for him, and willing to keep out of the skies to stay hidden. Wouldn't it be a rollicking good time to actually be able to communicate with her? Not that he was having a rollicking good time. That would be ridiculous. Selfish even. Definitely.

But having a dragon all too himself wasn't not fun.


~ ~ ~


“Airen, I'm scared. I'm more scared then I've ever been. But I want to help. I'm tired of being a coward.”

“A coward?” His hands ached to hold hers, but would that be too bold? He crumpled the end of his tunic between his fingers, forcing them to stay put, and instead tried to pour as much meaning as he could into his words. “Eryth Glithinthinil, dragon rider of Sivral, you are anything but a coward. Neriin knew exactly what she was doing when she chose you. Do you remember what I told you when we danced after your initiation?”

She swallowed. “You said you believed I would make the best dragon out of all the riders from the past to now combined.”

He blinked. She had remembered. A lump formed in his throat, and he nodded. “And I meant every word."

She stared at him for a long time. He thought he caught a gleam of tears form in her eyes, but she dropped her head, blocking his view. “I couldn't save Iraila, Airen. I couldn't be a strong enough friend for Bryth. I left Ritholv to suffer alone. And now all of Aerigethel is falling into enemy hands, and I'm hiding.”

This time, he couldn't stop himself. His hand slid onto her shoulder. She pulled in a shaky breath and turned back to him with red-rimmed eyes.

He squeezed her shoulder and leaned in close, assuring she heard every word. “None of that was your fault. None of us could stop the dark elves from taking Iraila, none of us have been able to stop Velnoroth's takeover. You were right in fleeing from Thurhivnian. If you had stayed, you would be a prisoner.” His heart twisted at his memories there, at the thought of Eryth suffering like he had. “You have done right, Eryth.”

Her eyes widened, not even blinking, as if she soaked in the words. “What about Bryth?”

“You have been the best friend and greatest influence Bryth has ever had. Bryth would have fallen far if not for you, and she will not forget that. Your influence will never leave her, no matter what. I know that for a fact, because you have been the same to me. You make me a better person, Eryth.”

Her eyes lit up like the sun itself. She let out both a laugh and sob as she threw her arms around his neck.

Unable to hold back his smile, he pulled her close. “So I said the right thing?”

Her cheek pressed against his chest vibrated all the way down to his heart as she giggled. “You always do.”

“Well, I do have a way with words.”


~ ~ ~


Eldoren nodded and took Caesel's hand, then offered the other to Riana. This time she took it without any misgivings. Hand-in-hand, they walked up the castle steps.

A nudge of encouragement passed through Eldoren's mind. He glanced over his shoulder down at his purple dragon and grinned. “Thanks. I think we'll be fine. Just behave yourself out here.”

Irevik sat and raised his head, acting like a proper gentlemen.

Eldoren wrinkled his brow, then shook his head. A dragon a proper gentleman? That was definitely Irevik's thought, not his.


~ ~ ~


Airen tapped his finger on the wall, stood up, paced a few steps, sat back down. His foot joined his fingers in an erratic tap.

Why had he let Eryth go? The castle was probably crawling with the enemy. What if she was found? Caught? Killed?

His stomach flipped.

No, Airen, stop.

He took a few breaths, forcing his nerves to settle themselves down.

Eryth was a dragon rider. She had been trained for this. She knew how to fight, had been through many a battle since she left their little region. In fact, judging from her stories, she had faced far more enemies than he had. She didn't need him protecting her all the time. He knew that.

But he still wanted to.


~ ~ ~


“Get him!” Azrot roared.

The two men charged. Airen swerved around and darted down the street. Pounding feet echoed behind him.

He weaved around the broken buildings and cracked streets. Good, he had succeeded in keeping Eryth safe. Except if he was caught, he'd probably be dead in seconds.

Just keep running. Keep them occupied.

His own advice failed when another set of guards appeared around the corner ahead of him. He skidded to a stop and glanced behind him. The two brutish men were only a couple of yards away. He sprinted through a side street. Shouts resounded all around him, and more pounding feet joined his first pursuers.

His plans for causing a distraction were working a little too well. What he needed was a dragon.

“Nemayn!” he cried, jumping atop a fallen wall and racing across it to the other end. “Nemayn!”

Movement caught his eye to the right. Yet more people came, one of which was a dark fae. He swerved toward the left.

I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I'm going to...

He jerked to a halt. “Die,” he muttered.

A wall of archers stood before him, with half a dozen arrows pointed straight at his heart. Behind him, the many, many people he had alerted neared.

He raised his sword. If he had to die, he may as well do it fighting.

A roar split the sky, and then fire. The arches screamed as a ball of fire consumed them. Airen yelped when a large claw grasped him around the waist and jerked him to the sky. The torched archers and army became smaller and smaller.

Trying to keep his sword in one hand, Airen clung to the white claw holding him up with the other. “Am I glad to see you!”


~ ~ ~


Mayhem hurtled right into a pile of dark elves, clawing at one and snapping her teeth into the neck of another. Nyria leaped off the dragon's back right on top of the third dark elf and drove her sword into his neck. She jumped down to her feet just as he collapsed. Next to her, Rem clashed swords with another man.


She swerved around and caught sight of a flash of dark hair before being lifted off the ground in a crushing hug.

A knot formed in her chest and she didn't know if it was because he was squeezing her lungs too tight or tears were coming. “Airen?” she choked out.

He loosened his hold, dropping her back to her feet, and stepped back to stare at her. Tears gleamed in his eyes, but then they widened and he cried out. “Duck!”

Instinctively, she did as he said and his sword swiped over her head. A dark fae dropped down next to her, his pale neck stained with blood.

“Don't you dare touch my cousin.” Airen snagged her shoulder and stared at her, unblinking, as if he couldn't even tell she was real. “ were captured.”

She blinked back the sting of coming tears. “I escaped.”

He let out a sobbing laugh and crushed her against him again. “Of course you did!”

She wrapped her arms around his abdomen. “I've missed you, Airen.”

“Ha! I've missed you more.”

“Want to bet?”

They parted, and mischief sparked in his eyes. “All right. Whoever kills the most enemies has done the most missing.”


~ ~ ~


“Naidren Savriella, you're not dead!”

Naidren jerked away from Eryth at the cry, eyes wide. He glanced around until he locked onto something, and his eyes became all the larger. Nyria followed his line of vision to find Airen joining their ranks.

“I am not dead,” Naidren agreed, his face cracking open into a grin. “You're not either.”

“Now don't sound so disappointed. You know it'll take way more then a few thousand dark elves, a cave in, and the entire world going to war to keep me down. Come here, you crazy cousin.” Airen snagged Naidren into a hug.


~ ~ ~


“Erra!” Airen caught the girl up into a hug as well.

She stiffened under the embrace, but a slight smile touched her lips. “I'm glad you're all right, Airen.”

He pulled back, grinning all the wider. “Have you been keeping Naidren out of trouble?”

“Not very well.”

“It's a tough job, I know.”

A rush of wind brought everyone's eyes up as Barveris landed in their midst. Darven jumped down, eyeing everyone with a raised brow. “Are we having a party in the middle of battle?”

“I want to join!” Leiden called as Gaelasil settled into their midst.


~ ~ ~


The door creaked behind Riana.

She snagged one of her knives and whipped around in a single motion.

Eldoren jumped back with a yelp. “Whoa! It's just me.”

“Troll's blood, Eldoren! What are you doing here?”

He scratched the back of his head and flashed that infuriatingly charming smile at her. “Coming to see you? Are you going to...put that away?” He gestured forward with his head.

She glanced down to find her knife still clutched tightly in her hand. Glaring at him, she slid it back in its sheath. “How did you find me?”

“Well, Razel woke up, sensing you were gone, so she woke up Irevik so he could tell me. She suspected she knew where you had disappeared to and brought me here.”

Riana peeked out the door to find her dragon standing there in the midst of the trees, her dark purple scales camouflaged in the night. How had she not sensed the dragon nearing, or even heard them? She cursed herself for letting her guard down, and then scowled at her dragon. “Snitch.”


~ ~ ~


Iavin stared out into the broken city from his perch in one of the castle's upper halls. He liked this spot. The big hole in the wall provided a good view of the city, and it was quiet. The hall didn't lead to anywhere useful in the castle. Most of the rooms connected to it were destroyed beyond repair, so no one ever came by and disturbed him. He just hoped the floor didn't collapse out from under him, which was entirely possible. But his need for seclusion overpowered his fear of being crushed to death. At least a little.


~ ~ ~


Cael raised both eyebrows and flashed an innocent grin. “Someone who, maybe, possibly, perhaps, can find it in his heart to forgive his foolish friend...?”

Iavin fidgeted with the hem of his shirt, staring at the boy across from him who looked like a puppy begging for a morsel of food. “You are foolish.”


“And you have a lot to learn.”

“A mountain-sized pile worth.”

Iavin groaned. There was never any resisting Cael for long. “I forgive you.” When the words came out, it was like a weight being lifted. He felt as light as when he was soaring in the skies atop Nemayn.

Cael's eyes brightened, and his whole face opened into an enormous grin. Iavin's own lips tugged up a smidgen.

“You know what we've got to do now.” Cael held out both arms.

Iavin's smile dropped immediately. He took a step back. “I'd rather not.”

“Oh, come on, Iavin, I can't come to you.” He rattled his chains stuck to the wall.

“I'm fine right here, thank you.”

“Now you know we can't have a heartwarming forgiveness without a hug.”

Iavin found himself groaning yet again, even as his feet shuffled forward. The second he was within reaching distance, Cael seized his shoulder and snatched him into a crushing hug.

“See? Isn't this nice?”

“I can't breathe.”


~ ~ ~


They both turned to find Airen striding into the room. Bryth got yet another shock when Naidren appeared beside his cousin. His face lit up at the sight of her. He stepped forward and reached out his arms like he was about to hug her, but then pulled them back, fingers fidgeting as if he didn't know what to do with them.

“It''s good to see you, Bryth.”

She couldn't help but laugh. Same ol' awkward Naidren. “You too, Naidren.” She stepped over and initiated the hug herself, realizing this was probably their first time to actually embrace, but it didn't seem right not to. How long had it been since she last saw him?

“Now I'm feeling left out,” Airen said.

She rolled her eyes as she pulled away from Naidren. “You already gave me a hug, and I probably have the bruises to prove it.”

“I give the best hugs, thank you. Right, Eryth?”

Eryth ducked her head, cheeks reddening and lips turned up slightly, just like she always did when Airen said such things to her. Bryth and Iraila shared an amused, knowing look.


~ ~ ~


“Ugh. I'm getting so tired of being bed ridden. I feel fine.”

Naidren leaned up from his chair at the side of Iraila's bed and patted her arm. “The physician said he wants your resting for only a few more days.”

“And eating,” Nyria said from her perch at the foot of the bed. She nodded at Iraila's only half empty bowl of soup.

Iraila groaned even as she lifted her spoon and stuffed a bite into her mouth. “I'm also tired of eating all the time.” Her words slurred around her full mouth.

Airen stopped his pacing to cast her a grin. “Ah, but the more you eat, the healthier you'll look, and the quicker you're allowed out of bed.”

She frowned at him and shoved another spoonful in her mouth. “Why do you always have to make sense?”

“Because I'm your perfectly knowledgeable big brother.”

“More like perfectly irritating,” Nyria said under her breath.

Iraila snorted, and they both bubbled with giggles.


~ ~ ~


No one should have to carry around the burdens of their past. At least, Leiden had been trying to tell him that.

Trolls blood. The elf's absurd amount of hopefulness was actually getting to him, to the point that he was thinking like him.

Darven groaned internally. With the elf's words filling his ears practically all waking hours of the day, it was bound to happen eventually.


~ ~ ~


“Aha! Found our entrance!” Practically on his knees now, Leiden pointed to the ground.

Darven leaned forward, squinting. “Oh great.” Their ‘entrance’ was nothing more than a tiny space opening up between the wall and ground, maybe two feet wide and hardly a foot high. He didn't take into account that he practically doubled Nyria's size.

Leiden looked from him to the hole, his smile slowly drooping. “Huh.” He scratched his head. “Well, it'll be tight, but I think you can do it.”

“Forever the optimist.”

“I try.” He dropped to his stomach and squirmed down into the hole, his absurdly scrawny body slipping right through.

“Show off,” Darven grumbled as he lowered to his knees.

A hand appeared from the other side of the hole. “Want me to hold your candle for you?”

Darven handed it over and then settled down to his stomach. Leiden grinned at him through the hole.

“It's not too bad.”

Taking a breath, he shoved his head through. His shoulders scraped into the sides, already proving to be a problem. He backed out, slid his arms in first this time, and scooted forward. Dirt scraped across his arms and shoulders, his whole body felt like it was being squeezed by a dragon's claw.

“This is ridiculous,” he grunted.

“You're doing fine.” Leiden, on hands and knees, set down one of the candles and grabbed his arm. Darven pushed with his feet while Leiden pulled. He only budged one uncomfortable inch at a time.

“The war is going to be over by the time I fit through this blasted hole.”

“You're practically halfway there.”

“Very encouraging.” He dug the tip of his boots into the earth behind him and pushed. Finally, his middle broke through. Leiden backed out of the way as he pulled his legs in, coughing out a wheezing breath.

Leiden grinned. “See? Not too bad.”

Darven scowled, and his scowl deepened as he realized the tunnel he laid in wasn't much wider than the hole itself. Even Leiden had to scrunch tight to turn around. On hands and knees, he led the way. Darven pushed up to his knees, but his back scraped the top. Frowning, he ducked lower and shuffled after the elf.


~ ~ ~


“Nyria, will you stop running off?” Naidren called out.

Nyria just flashed a grin at her brother. “You don't have to watch over me every second.”

“Yes I do, I'm your big brother.”

“We're the same age!”

“Four minutes difference.”



~ ~ ~


A sudden thump made Eryth jump back. Right at her feet lay a bird, steam hissing from its slender body. Then, more birds dropped. Everyone looked up to find a gwacier shooting into the group of phoenixes that the dragons battled above. The ice bird dissipated their fire and the dragons tore into them. One by one, they dropped from the sky. Just as the last one fell, the gwacier swooped down and landed on the shoulder of Cael who stood atop the rubble heap. He had his hands on his hips and gazed at the group below, eyes sparking with mischief.

“Sii and I felt like we were missing a party.”

Nyria giggled. “You seem to be the one always bringing us parties.” Amused sarcasm clipped the last word.

His grin revealed both rows of white teeth. “I do try. Oh, Eryth.” He slipped a bow off his shoulders and tossed it down to her. “That's yours, isn't it? I found it buried up here.”

She caught it and squeezed the familiar wood. “It is! Thank you, Cael!”

In three nimble leaps, he joined their huddle. With the phoenixes taken care of, the dragons also landed around them.

Cael opened his mouth, looking ready to say something else, but then the trembling came.

The bone-rattling rhythmic thumps twisted Eryth's stomach. She turned and, as she feared, more trolls came marching down a side street, straight into the square. Five total. A group of dark elves and dark fae led them.

“Well, Cael, Nyria was right,” Ritholv said, pulling his sword down from his shoulder, “you do bring parties.”

Cael shrugged, whipping out his own weapon. “What can I say? People just love following me around.”


~ ~ ~


Cael, his long knife covered in blood, looked for his next opponent, but any Velnoroth forces to be found already lay lifeless on the street. Around him, the Sivral people and their dragons and friends caught their breaths and examined each other for any wounds.

“Huh.” He wiped his blade across his pants leg and slid it into its sheath. To come from such a humble region, the Sivral riders sure knew how to take down a bad guy.

They had huddled near the middle of the square, and he strode toward them. Sii landed on his shoulder, squawking. She didn't like this whole fighting business. He stroked her cold feathers. A nap would be nice right about then.

“That was fun,” he said as he joined the others.



Wow. That was a…lot. I may have went overboard. Oops. If you read all that you deserve cookies! *passes them around*

So tell me what you think! Which was your favorite snippet? And which character did you like best? Thanks for reading, guys! <3

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