Category Archives: reviews

One of My Favorites From 2021: Legacy of Danger #BookReview

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Book Blurb:

Elena Dkany inherits her family’s castle in Romania, a land dipped in myths, folklore, and the legendary walking dead. The local proverb serves as warning: “Do not speak badly of the Devil, because you cannot know to whom you will belong.” When she’s attacked by an international assassin, only her deceased husband and her ex-boyfriend’s live presence can protect her on her journey to the mountainous region of Transylvania.

But that’s not the only problem troubling Elena. Who is that boy invading her dreams? And what really happened to a priceless gem-crusted silver cross buried by an earthquake in the fifteenth century? Who’s stalking Elena? Who wants her dead and why?

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

It begins with a subtle, familiar whisper from beyond the grave. Did somebody murder Elena Dkany’s grandmother? If so, who did it? And most importantly, why did they do it?

The voice of her dead grandmother launches Elena on a journey that will take her far away from the life she’s built for herself in Chicago to the ancient land of Romania, a place her people once called home. Here, in a remote village, she inherits her family’s ancestral castle.

But Elena isn’t taking this journey alone. Acting as her escort on this trip is FBI agent Alex Brancusi—who also happens to be Elena’s first love. A young boy haunts the dreams of both Elena and Alex. Who is this child?

Attempts are made on Elena’s life. But who would want her dead? Are they the ones who possibly murdered her grandmother? Why does the ghost who saved her life resemble Elena’s deceased husband?

In Legacy of Danger, author Patricia A. Guthrie has crafted a well-told tale of murder and intrigue. Her skillful style expertly weaves multiple genres into a single, tight narrative that is at once believable and compelling. Romance and murder mingle with the paranormal, and betrayal arrives at the deepest levels. If you enjoy stories that put you on the edge of your seat—and keep you there—this is a book for you.

One of the best books of 2021.

About the Author:

1kcgq8jmvcbght3kqfs5jrjmlc._SX450_Patricia A. Guthrie is the author of romantic suspense, paranormal, mystery novels and short stories. Her current published novels ‘IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY’ ‘WATERLILIES OVER MY GRAVE’ and ‘LEGACY OF DANGER’ and her short story ‘WILLED ACCIDENTS HAPPEN’ are available in online bookstores such as Amazon.com. She also has short stories published on Amazon, Skyline Magazine and Affaire Du Coeur and non-fiction articles in the Collie Cassette and the online ‘Nature Journal.’

Guthrie is an accomplished musician: opera singer, church soloist and music teacher. After leaving the opera, Guthrie became a music therapist in a school for children with special needs and then went on to teach music in the Chicago Public School system. She resides in the Chicago area with her cats, Archie and Kitzy Kitty, and her horse, Dixie, who help her write every chance they get. Pat’s an avid animal lover and advocate.

Where to Buy:

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Fun Read: My Review of Girl Wears Those Shoes.

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Book Blurb:

Aspiring young Chinese immigrant Gigi O survives by working as a stripper, but she strives for true success in the U.S. real-estate industry. Navigating this highly competitive business is tough, especially when her only support comes from the deeply flawed man she loves and her old cohorts from the strip club. Issues of betrayal and trust, loyalty and commitment complicate her goals even as one lesbian friend adds new dimensions to her understanding of love versus desire. Then the market crashes and financial turmoil threatens to rob Gigi O of all she has achieved. Can she find new ways to chase her dreams—and still manage to keep her clothes on? Or might she find a better reason to take them off? Girl Wears Those Shoes is a tale of love and power, the story of one woman who wants to make the world her own—if only she can figure out how.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Girl Wears Those Shoes tells the story of Gigi O, a young Chinese American woman at a crossroads in her life. She’s barely getting the bills paid while dancing in a strip club. Sure, Gigi may be a popular girl at the club, but she wants more out of life than her current circumstances can afford. Like most humans, she craves love and success and stability. When Gigi enters the world of real estate, her prospects begin to brighten.

Author Jenny Wang has crafted a story that reads like a memoir, even though it is fiction. Her characters offer a variety of personalities and subplots. Romance and lost love share the same spaces in this story set in Houston, Texas. This is Jenny Wang’s first story. It will be interesting to see where she takes these characters, should she choose to write a sequel. A fun read indeed.

About the Author:

Rp2z7B8S_400x400After two decades in the real-estate industry, Jenny Wang has established her brand, “Jenny Wang Houston,” with JWang Properties, a boutique agency with a personal touch, and JWang Media, a custom-video production team for promotion and marketing. An active community booster, Jenny is the past president of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Houston Network. An Ambassador of the Houston Ballet, she holds a lifetime membership in the University of Houston Alumni Association. Author of her debut novel, Girl Wears Those Shoes, Jenny Wang is proud to live her principles even as she pursues her own unique vision.

Where to Buy:

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My #Review of No Such Luck by @StaciTroilo

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Book Blurb:

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Piper Seidel needs a break in life. After her petulance get her fired from another job, she loses a trusted good luck charm. Convinced life will be an uphill battle from that point on, Piper packs up the car and heads for her childhood home in snowy Pennsylvania.

Here, she reconnects with her father and stepmother, runs into her high school boyfriend, and discovers new feelings for another boy (now grown man) who’d once been her best friend.

The story unfolds with an air of a light romance. There’s a sweetness here that lures the reader into the tale. Troilo’s well-formed characters are believable and likeable. Her dialogue carries a realism that sometimes has readers feeling as if we’re eavesdropping on the conversations of others.

No Such Luck is a romance. And being a novella, it is also a quick read. If you’re into good, solid storytelling, this one is for you.

About the Author:

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Staci Troilo grew up in Western Pennsylvania writing stories and poetry in her free time, so it was no surprise that she studied writing in college. After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. When they had grown, she went on to become a writing professor, and now she is a freelance writer and editor.

Staci is a multi-genre author. Her fiction is character-driven, and despite their protests, she loves to put them in all kinds of compromising or dangerous situations.

You can find out more about her on her website stacitroilo.com.

Where to Buy:

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Masterful #ShortStories by @MaeClair1

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Book Blurb:

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Things Old and Forgotten is a brilliantly crafted collection of some of the best short stories I’ve been fortunate enough to discover. Author Mae Clair proves she is more than a simple writer of tales. What she possesses is an impressive ability to sculpt scenes and characters that are both vivid and brimming with life.

Clair’s narrative voices reveal their stories in poetic tones. Each tale contains a balanced texture of dark and light embedded within. What you think might happen, often doesn’t. And that’s the genius of so many of these short works.

Remembering Sadie is perhaps my favorite of the collection. This piece tells the story of a man left behind to grieve the loss of a loved one. The twist at the end is a wonderful reminder that love comes from the heart—regardless of the recipient.

Another standout is the dark tone of Desert White. A man attempts to take his own life in the desert, only to be met by a stranger. But is this stranger man or angel? Redemption versus forgiveness in the underlying theme here.

Kin-Slayer runs a close second as my favorite. This one is a bit dark with fantasy, folklore, and dystopian elements. There’s only one way to appease the beastly Leviathan, and that is with three of the choicest First Daughters in a quaint fishing village. But not all is as it seems—especially where Leviathan is concerned.

No matter the genre, Mae Clair excels as a master artist of short fiction. Each story remains with the reader—even after you’ve moved on to the next one. If you’re a fan of fully formed short fiction, Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair is a collection that belongs on your Kindle.    

About the Author: 

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A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com

Where to Buy:

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A Romantic Novella

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Book Blurb:

Ella has hit rock bottom. The only thing on her mind is getting home, but her car breaks down five hours away from her destination. She finds herself stuck in the unfamiliar town of Paradise Falls.

Instead of spending hours waiting on car repairs, Ella meets a local who invites her to help with the town’s Harvest Festival. Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, she’s able to find joy in her favorite time of the year.

The few hours for car repairs quickly turn into an overnight visit, as Ella continues to enjoy the festivities. Her fondness of the town grows with each passing day, forcing Ella to make a difficult decision. Should she follow her heart or continue the plan she’s always had for her life?

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Elle is a young journalist who finds herself stranded in a small town just shy of her intended destination. This begins a tug-of-war of sorts for Ella. Her life’s plans begin to lose ground to her growing fondness for Paradise Falls, North Carolina, and the people she meets there. Big city life versus small town hospitality. Which will win out?

The author tells her story with a folksy narration that feels warm and familiar. It embodies family, friendship, and a neighborly ideal that seems to be slipping from our world.

This is the second story I’ve read from Marlena Smith. Her skills as a writer have grown from the first story to this one. I would love to see her build on to this story with these characters. This is a wonderful introduction to an idyllic creation. If you’re a fan of the works of Janette Oke, this story is worth a read.

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About the Author:

Marlena Smith was born in a small town of Alabama, where she continues to live today. When she’s not working at the office, she can be found writing, reading, or blogging. Writing has always been a major part of her life, even since grade school, when she was selected to attend the Young Authors’ Conference in her state.

Although her writing has been public through her blog for several years, she has only recently begun publishing. She has several works in progress including a romance novel, a young adult novella, and several short thrillers.

Where to Buy:

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Layers: A Collection of Short Stories by Zuzanne Belec! Something for Every Reader!

Blurb: 

Layers is a debut collection of imaginative short stories celebrating life and the human spirit despite the ever-present spectre of melancholy in our lives today. With their distinctive blend of wit and humour, they light up any underlying darkness.

From the Americas to India, from Africa to Europe, and through a range of genres, voices and styles, layers are unraveled, revealing the textures and contrasts of old and new in the environments and cultures of today’s fast-paced world. With vivid descriptions, we are drawn into enchanting worlds with characters that leap off the page, leaving the reader lingering long after the pages have been read.

  • In The Christmas Charge: Instead of enjoying their Christmas preparing eggnog cream pie and sipping sherry by the fireside, three batty grannies go on an African safari. At this stage of wisdom in their lives, nothing can go wrong. Right?

 

  • In Paths Taken: When her grandmother ‘kills’ a man on a busy town square, Hecate is forced to face her worst fears and use her own unsettling powers to help her. But where will these new paths take her?

 

  • In White Noise: All Earl needs to do is hand his work over to his successor. But is it that easy to let go? And where does one hide from one’s inner noise when things go wrong?

 

  • In The Old Man and the Donkey: Deep in northern Portugal, an old man and his donkey go about their lonely routine. When an unexpected visitor shows up, everyone is given a new chance of happiness. But have they all been stubbornly avoiding it for too long?

 

  • In The Arctic Haze: Since he was little, bad luck has stuck to George’s soles like clingy dog mess. Some of us are luckier. Or are we really?

 

  • In Penny’s Purple Robot: A loving father exceeds himself to make his daughter happy after her mother passes away. But can he force himself to face a brutal truth?

 

  • In Mothers: Deep in Africa, a desperate mother accepts her own fate, but refuses to face an even harsher reality. Mothers will do anything for their young. And things may not be as they seem.

 

  • In Yeehaw: Running from their regular lives, Sam and Patsy end up in an artificial town – Yeehaw Theme Park. Will they find their true selves in this synthetic world?

If you like a minimalist and dark, yet humorous look at the contrasts we face in the world today, you will enjoy this collection of mixed-genre stories.

Buy now to enter into these worlds!

 

My Review: 

Rating: ★★★★★

Layers: A Collection of Short Stories offers readers a buffet of tales from which to choose. Author Zuzanne Belec has crafted stories filled with originality, intrigue, suspense, and life. Her characters arrive fully formed and breathing, alive with personality that radiates throughout these pages.

Each story is a look inside lives that are both unlike our own and yet very much alike. Though some stories may read slower than others, they are each worthy of a reading.

From the opening story to the final one, it becomes clear that Belec writes from the heart. She has the talent to weave emotion into her work, allowing readers to become invested in the characters and the plot. Among my favorites are The Christmas Charge, and the inventive Paths Taken.

If you enjoy short fiction, there is something here for every taste. This is a fine collection.

 

About the Author: 

Zuzanne is a writer, poet and translator who now lives in the heart of Europe, after being lucky enough to spend her first thirty years absorbing the contrasting textures of Africa.

After she quit the rat race, she spent fifteen years as a translator before discovering the world of writing. This discovery, and the encouragement from her daughters, partner and friends, led to her decision to delve even deeper into writing. She then grew a long grey beard and became a hermit, studying the craft and immersing herself into this world that is magic.
About the time when her beard reached ankle-length, she knew she was on the right path when three of her stories were published in Canadian literary magazines.

This debut collection, Layers, is the result of this passion. And it is only the beginning …

A Few Words About “Finding Myself Again” by Verwayne Greenhoe

Blurb:

A Lonely Man Finds Love Again

After forty-seven years of a great relationship, courtship, and marriage, the author found himself alone. His wife had struggled with a rough fight with dementia. Suddenly, she took a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse, leaving him alone for the first time in his adult life. He was sixty-four at the time but felt more like he was forty physically and ninety-five emotionally.

For over a year, he had tried to go forward with his life, but when he was alone at night, his heart’s emptiness reminded him that he needed someone to fill the ache inside him.

Loneliness is a killer, and he was dying from grief. He was dying inside because he had never been alone in his life. He told himself that he would be alright, but he wasn’t and was fading fast.

Then he found Heather. They were two souls drifting in a sea of loneliness and grief that found one another amid a building storm. Is she the one that can pull him out of an escalating depression?

We’ll see.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Finding Myself Again by Verwayne Greenhoe is part memoir, part love story, and a huge helping of healing. The author shares the story of losing his wife to the ravages of dementia, a disease that takes loved ones long before they actually leave this world.

Greenhoe gives readers an insider’s view of, not just that dreaded disease, but also of a love story shared between a husband and wife. There’s real heartache on these pages when the time comes that he loses the love of his life. But then something wonderful happens. The grieving husband finds love again—without even looking for it. When one door closes, God opens a window.

This is an uplifting story that will certainly bring hope to those who have lost their own loved ones while finding themselves still very much alive and alone. This one will stay with me for a long time.

About the Author:

Born and raised on a small dairy farm in west-central Michigan, I learned about life and death at an early age. I was lucky enough to have a loving, caring Father who taught me about some of the more intricate ‘ins and outs’ of living every day.

I started writing simple stories at age six in about 1959 and have been at it ever since. As a boy, no one ever really taught me to read, I just could. I used that gift to find a world I might not have been able to experience for another decade or more. I later became a medic, worked in a psych ward of a prison and spent many years working in Emergency Rooms as an aide and then a nurse.

I just moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (da UP!) and am getting settled back into a steady writing habit. I have a flurry of books I will be releasing every month to six weeks. The subject genre runs the gamut from inspirational to romance to a serial killer story. The move to a more solitude in the UP surrounding allows me to write when I want to write.

I’ve written about my experiences growing up on the farm and my father. I have several stories about the things I saw and experienced in the emergency field, both in and out of the ER. I’ll admit that my life story is weird, but I prefer to think of it as an alternate reality in which I am the pioneer and flag planter. I’m crazy, but I suspect most of my readers have figured that out.

I have sixteen, soon to be twenty audio books out. You can find them over on Audible or on Amazon under my listing for stories and books. I try to add a novella of 16,000 to 22,000 words every month, and at least two to three 40,000+ word novel every year.

Thanks for reading!

Two Friends, Too Old by Robert Scott is on Kindle Countdown! @robbiehscottjr #FIGAuthors

Author Robert Scott is offering his novel Two Friends, Too Old on Kindle Countdown for just .99 beginning July 4 and running until July 6. It goes up to $1.99 after! Grab your copy before it’s too late!

Two Friends, Too Old

What would you do if you saw your best friend for 60 years slipping over the edge into mental oblivion? You would do anything to help him, right? Frank and Clay have been friends since the first day of first grade. Now both in their mid-sixties and retired, Frank is looking forward to spending a lot of quality time hanging out with his lifelong friend. But all that is threatened when Frank sees Clay going around the bend.

Clay denies he has a problem and rejects Frank’s initial suggestions for help. But when Frank stumbles upon a drug that might help, he renews his efforts to help his buddy and he talks Clay into taking the drug. That works great, for a while. But Frank couldn’t quite bring himself to tell Clay the entire truth about the drug, and that deception has tragic consequences, not only for Clay but also for Frank.

My Review

Rating: ★★★★★

Frank is a man in the golden years of his life. But just when he thinks it’s time to settle into an easy routine of family and old friends, life throws a haymaker that sends the retired man to the canvas. It begins with finding friend Clay beating his own dog. This is only the beginning of unprovoked outbursts of violence that are so out of character for this old friend. Dementia has crept in and taken Clay away, replacing him with someone who just can’t be trusted around Frank, Frank’s wife Lucille, and others who had come to know the once gentle man.

A farmer named Will is coping with tragedy of his own, nursing his terminally-ill wife when he crosses paths with Clay in the midst of another dementia-induced outburst. This is a look at the dark side of aging, the side most people choose not to examine. But this is reality. We all grow old and eventually die. Sometimes it’s the physical self that fails, leaving a once healthy person bound to others for help. That’s what we do, we take care of those we love. But what happens when it’s the mental decline that strikes a person down with age? Violence is sometimes a symptom. And the loss of memories only twists the knife deeper. This book is for anybody who loves a well-written story. But it’s especially for those going through their own journey with a loved one caught by aging. I highly recommend this story.

Get your copy today!

Until Death Do Us Unite: Short Story by @FizaPathan – A Review

Review

Rating: ★★★★★

I have become a fan of author Fiza Pathan’s work over the past year or so. This is a writer skilled in the art of telling a great story. Whether it be her autobiographical essays, or one of her many short stories, Miss Pathan knows how to hold the readers attention.  She accomplishes this with her recent short story entitled Until Death Do Us Unite.

This quick read pulls the reader into the tale of ancient Indian customs, India under British rule, and true love finding its place in the world. After the death of the revered Thakur Ram Singh, both of the man’s living wives are sentenced to die atop his burning funeral pyre—even though both women are still very much alive. While the older of the two wives views this as an honor, the horror of death by immolation doesn’t sit well with the younger wife, who is just sixteen years old.

As the flames begin to claim its victims, the younger wife struggles to break free of this death sentence. The events play out in front of a small group of British men, one of whom is in training to become a Catholic priest. It is this man, Jack White, who does what is unthinkable in ancient Indian culture—he breaks rank with his group and seeks to save this poor soul from a painful end.

I won’t tell you whether or not he is successful. You’ll have to read the story for yourself. What I will say is, grab a copy of this story today. Pathan is a talented as any writer in the market today.

Blurb

In a village somewhere in the Thar desert, in mid-nineteenth century India, the revered Thakur Ram Singh has just died. He will be laid to rest according to traditional Hindu rites. But will he be the only one who will be cremated on the funeral pyre that day?

Meanwhile, a Church dignitary and a band of British soldiers from the nearby cantonment casually observe the proceedings as they unfold—until they are joined by a young, spirited seminarian. His name is Brother Jack and he has chosen to interfere. His spontaneous action will result in certain death, a revolt against the Crown, or a major change in the course of his life.

About Author

Fiza Pathan has a bachelor’s degree in arts from the University of Mumbai, where she majored in history and sociology with a first class. She also has a bachelor’s degree in education, again with a first class, her special subjects being English and history.

Fiza has written eleven award-winning books and a short story, “Flesh of Flesh,” which reflect her interest in furthering the cause of education and in championing social issues. In over seventy literary competitions, she has placed either as winner or finalist, chief among them being: 2018 DBW Awards; Killer Nashville 2018 Silver Falchion Award; 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards; 2018 BookViral Millennium Book Awards; Readers’ Favorite Book Awards; Reader Views Literary Awards; Eric Hoffer Book Award; Foreword Reviews Indie Fab Book Awards; Mom’s Choice Awards; Literary Classics Book Awards; and Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards. She lives with her maternal family, and writes novels and short stories in most genres. You may follow her on Twitter @FizaPathan and visit her blog HERE.

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful – A Review!

Review

Rating: ★★★★★

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful is the debut novel from young author Ellie Collins. A natural-born storyteller, Collins penned her Greek Mythology tale at the age of eleven.

The story follows middle school newbie D. J. as she and her father move to a new city and a whole new life. D. J. enjoys gardening, and it’s here, in an enchanted dream garden, that she meets Persephone, Goddess of Spring. It is through the guidance of this new friend that D. J. gains the confidence needed to navigate her new surroundings.

The author weaves together many fascinating scenes filled with a cast of memorable characters, stoking a plot that suggests this young lady was indeed born to write. Though it’s geared toward younger readers, teens and adults alike will also enjoy this book.

Blurb

D.J. and her dad moved far from the small town and only home she ever knew. Now she’s starting middle school in the city with kids she’s never met. She tries to make friends, but they all appear to be slaves to screen time. D.J. just likes to garden, nurturing plants, watching them grow and thrive. It seems she’ll never find a way to fit in, but then she awakens in a gorgeous garden where she meets Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She must be dreaming; her new friend can’t possibly be real—and what could she know about getting along with gamers? D.J. really needs some ideas, or she might never find her own place in a complicated world.

 

About Author

Ellie Collins wrote her debut novel, Daisy, Bold & Beautiful when she was turning eleven and just beginning sixth grade. She finished writing Mylee In The Mirror, the second in her multi-award-winning middle-grade Greek mythology fantasy series before heading back to school for seventh grade and turning twelve and Mad Max & Sweet Sarah before eighth grade and becoming a teen. She writes amid a very busy extracurricular schedule, including a spot on both a gymnastics team and a trampoline and tumbling team, as well as taking weekly piano lessons. She’s an avid gamer who loves hanging out with friends. Her love of Greek mythology inspires her writing.