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Paperback Details
  • 03/2018
  • 978-0999697719 B079Z39SX8
  • 276 pages
  • $11.99
The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone
When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl -- a proper young lady in their small country town -- and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever. Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld. Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.
Reviews
Amazon

 

“The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone” is the tale of young Sarafina (or Sarah to her friends) whose imaginary fairy friends aren’t all that imaginary, despite her strict mother’s best wishes. Threatened by her mother to abandon her fantasies of mythical talking friends or she’d be sent to an asylum, Sarah does her best to comply, until she is attacked by a not so ordinary pack of wolves. The “imaginary” friends she thought she banished have returned, begging for Sarah to help them save their world by returning something vital to it, or more nasty creatures will come to Sarah’s world, and destroy the magical place known as Lyrica. Sarah doesn’t fit in back home, and yet these magical creatures immediately offer her acceptance. Spurned by her small town, Sarah agrees to the task they have placed at her feet (she’s thirteen, it’s a lot of pressure for a young kid) and travels to Lyrica, not knowing anything about the place, its inhabitants, how it’s dying, or what she can do about it. She’s not entirely alone though, with the help of a few friends (not all magical), Sarah decides she’s not going to be afraid anymore, that she wants to help, at any cost. Oh man, there is so much in this book! Magical creatures of every kind, a dying world, a child of prophecy, a sweet coming-of-age story, an epic quest, and lots of action and adventure. This story was quite the roller-coaster, and I loved parts of it, but I think it was also trying to pack too much into just under 300 hundred pages of book.

I liked Sarah early on in the story. Her shyness, her fear that others will see her as crazy, her desire to be liked, the innocence of her crush on the one boy who’s nice to her, she’s an endearing character and I instantly fell in love with her. I liked her best when she was on Earth and struggling to stand on her own feet, though. That was the Sarah that felt the most real to me. Not that I didn’t enjoy her transformation as the book progressed, but the depth of feeling that I had for Sarah began to evaporate as the author introduces us to more and more characters and gives us their POV.

All the characters she introduces the reader to have interesting pasts or abilities, but I wasn’t as emotionally invested in them mainly because this wasn’t their story. We don’t get to see how they became the things they were/are, how they live in Lyrica (the only exception to this is the vampire Alexander, I’ll get to him in a moment), heck, we don’t even get to see much of Lyrica to get a sense of how it’s supposedly dying, we’re just told it is. As Sarah comes into her own, she loses some of the charm she had early on, and it almost feels like she’s not the same person, as in, maybe a lot of time passed for the author in-between sections and Sarah’s thirteen year-old country-girl vibe was hard to capture again? I’m not sure, but I found myself yearning to feel the way I did for Sarah in the first 40% of the book that I did with the last 60%. She’s still a great character that does amazing things, but some of her shine wore off for me.

I mentioned vampires, right? Ok good because there are vampires. And there are witches. And there are fairies. And there are dragons. And there are elves. And there are dwarves. And there are cursed wolves. And there are nymphs. And you see where I’m going with this, right? There are A LOT of creatures in this book, and Sarah spends a bit of time with most of those races. Perhaps too brief a time, in my humble opinion.

The author took great pains to fill her fantasy world with every fantasy creature there was, but I struggled with the sheer amount of them, and trying to understand why some were on Sarah’s side, and why some weren’t, because their reasoning isn’t explained. Perhaps those things were left on the editing room floor, I’m not sure. But it felt like big chunks of backstory were cut because the reader is just given brief glimpses that, ultimately, left me a bit confused as to how Lyrica functioned as a world, which included the magic system, and, again, just how it came to be dying in the first place. Was one of the many mythical races responsible? Why are the vampires and the elves the only fantasy races we get to spend any great deal of time with? Why is Sarah the child of legend? And just what is the deal with Serwa and Jacob? Why is Sarah's mom so freaked out about a four year-old having imaginary friends? These were the questions I had by the end of the book, and, I feel that some of these could have been answered if the author spent more time building Lyrica rather than just name dropping the creatures who inhabited it.

My lingering confusion and questions aside, I thought this book would have been great for young readers. Sarah and Jacob’s age, plus their awkward just entering puberty interactions, along with all the fantastic creatures would have made this book wonderful for middle school readers. Except the vampire scene. I’ll avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say, the violence that came with all the action scenes was relatively tame and wasn’t discussed in great detail, until Sarah visits Alexander’s people. That whole section felt so out of place in terms of the sudden graphic violence (ok, it probably wasn’t that bad, but given there was really nothing bad in the book until then, it felt bigger) would make me leery of giving this book to a thirteen year-old. Which is too bad, because you want the age of you main character to appeal to the audience you want, and I felt Sarah is most appealing to a younger audience given her struggles instead of the young-adult crowd.

Lane has an amazing imagination. The fact that she crafted a world inhabited by so many creatures and created an epic quest that felt a bit like the journey to Mordor at the end (there’s a mountain with a volcano and a thing that must be delivered to it, but I’ll say no more) is a testament to all the stories the author has bubbling up in her just yearning to be told. At the end of the day, I think that’s what happened with “The Pariah and the Ever-Giving Stone”. There was just so much that needed to be explored further, that needed more world building, or just page time, that didn’t get the attention it needed in this book. I’m not sure if this will turn into a series, if we’ve seen the last of Sarah, Jacob, and Lyrica, or if there’s more to come. Part of me hopes there is more because there was so much left unanswered, and I still feel a bit upset with what happened between Sarah and Jacob at the end, but the main story, the main quest, does get wrapped up in this book so I’m not sure where any of them will go from here. Still, this is a cute story with an endearing female lead by an author whose imagination knows no bounds, so I’m giving it a 3.5 stars and encourage you all to give the book a read so we can discuss it. Thanks to the author for providing me a copy for review!

-Chelscey

Amazon

The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone is such a fascinating, unique fantasy tale that gives you feelings (good, bad and horrible) about the people in Sarah's life. The momentum of this story makes for an easy, fun read and in some scenes, you feel as though you're in those woods, peeking through the branches, witnessing it all. Top Notch writing, perfect character development... without giving any hints, you're going to want more at the end.

-Med

GoodReads

The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone had all of my favorite story elements. Sarah, the female lead, not only is she strong and brave, but shes kind and sweet. The world that Natasha D. Lane built is fantastic, her writing really painted the image for me. I felt like I was next to Sarah the entire journey. This book was gripping, and left me holding my breath at times. All characters were well done. I dont want to go any further and risk spoiling things. Just know that I enjoyed it.

-Angela McKee

GoodReads

The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone is a fantasy novel. Natasha Lane crafts an imaginary “other world” in the vein of Beowulf, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and so on. The cultural critic and literary theorist Tzvetan Todorov, in his work The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to Literary Genre, defines and theorizes the concept of “the fantastic.” The fantastic is a subjective term referring to a minor canon of literary works. It stands between two other literary genres: the uncanny and the marvellous. The uncanny is experienced upon encountering something that is at once both strange and familiar. The marvellous, by contrast, is the more traditional view of fantasy. 
Fantasy re-presents the earth by constructing an imaginary past or unknown future. They liberate the reader from constraints of the known while keeping a plausible inner coherence. It subverts the rules of normal fiction forcing the reader to question reality. Fantasy tries to voice frustration with everyday life. It deals with contemporary issues particularly the nature and origins of evil. It explores topics which are beyond the range of traditional realism. 
In the work Monster Theory: Reading Culture, monsters, beasts, demons, freaks and fiends are considered as symbolic expressions of cultural unease that pervade a society and shape its collective behaviour. 
The protagonist Sarah is on a quest of self-discovery. This work helps to break away from the narrow minded borders constructed by culture and language. It inspires the reader to think beyond the realm of normality. It is a critique of contemporary culture and realist novels. It explores the politics and ontological possibilities of the Other and the other worldly. 

-Aswin Prasanth

GoodReads

What a treasure of a YA book! Full of so many wonderful characters, creatures, and settings. Natasha took me into this magical world with her by using such descriptive and expressive writing. The heroine is both adorable and fierce. Full of touching moments, exciting drama and tiny, familiar glimpses into my own personal past as a young girl losing herself and finding her way at the same time. A great read from page one, to the end you that don't really want to come. I'm so glad I had a little time to spend with Sarafina and her friends.

-Brandi Brooks-Bemiss

News
03/20/2018
Blog Tour: Natasha D. Lane, Author of "The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Sto

Greetings, booknerds! I have a special treat for you today: I'm hosting another blog tour! This time it's for Ms. Natasha D. Lane, author of several books, but most recently, "The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone". I am currently reading the book right now, and will have my review ready on the 22nd, the day of the books official release. But until then, I have an interview for you from the author herself plus all the information you could ever want on the book. Be sure to add this one to your TBR pile!

About the book:
When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl -- a proper young lady in their small country town -- and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.
 
Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld.
 
Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

Interview with Natasha:

How do you start writing a story?
 Sometimes I start with an outline but, more often than not, I just start writing and see where the story takes me. This makes editing more of a pain but each story doesn’t come to me as clearly as others. I guess I’m more of a prancer than a plotter. However, I’ve noticed the older I’ve become the more plotting/outlining I’ve started doing. My favorite thing to do is combine the plotter and prancer sides of me. It’s an odd mix but it works for me.

What part of a story is the hardest for you to write?
The middle! Definitely the middle. It’s the section of a story where so much happens, so it pulls a lot out of me as a writer. It kind of forces me out of the comfort zone I fall into when I’m writing the beginning. Additionally, the middle is usually where the main conflict starts to unfold. Not the easiest scenes to write I’d say.

How do you know when a story is finished?
 When every character is where they need to be and each conflict has been settled as best it can, I know a book/series is over. It’s also kind of a feeling. You know when you’ve written that last line because it just feels solid and complete.

If you had to describe your writing style, what words come to mind?
 Lengthy and descriptive. I love describing scenery and physical sensations. Sometimes this love can cause me to write long paragraphs whose portions get cut out in editing. I don’t necessarily think being long-winded is a bad thing but there’s a time and place. I also know it’s not necessary to describe everything, so I keep that in mind, too.

How many words do you aim to write in a day? Do you have specific writing days?
Besides the weekend, every day is a writing day for me. I set my week up like that because you never know when life will happen and you miss a day. I prefer keeping it open for any sudden changes.

 In terms of word count, I aim for 2000 a day in the beginning of a story. Then, near the end when the story is wrapping up, I cut it down to 1000 a day.

Are you one of those writers who’s immune to writer’s block? If not, what do you do to combat it?
Those people actually exist? I thought they were like unicorns and leprechauns. :)
           
Like any writer, I get writer’s block. Usually, it’s because I’m stressed. The stress doesn’t even have to be about writing but I know “the block” is a sign I need to step back and relax. Once I get my mind cleared over a few days, I come back to the story feeling fresh.

Thanks for your time, Natasha! If you want to check out Natasha's work for yourself, be sure to check out her book on Amazon, follow her on Goodreads, or like her on Facebook. But in case you need more from this talented author right now, I've got her bio all ready for you!

 

 

03/12/2018
BLOG TOUR: THE PARIAH CHILD & THE EVER-GIVING STONE BY NATASHA D. LANE

Interview with Author Natasha D. Lane

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I started writing as a kid. I was probably in elementary school when I realized how much I loved writing. Eventually, it became an outlet for me. I took everything I had to hold inside and put it on paper. It started with poetry,then eventually grew to short stories, before I started my first novel. My middle school teacher Ms. Snyder was the one who saw my talent and pushed me to write my first novel. It was called (get ready for this) “An Imperfect Utopia.” Great title, right?

Anyway, I never stopped writing. I was traditionally published as a romance author in college and did that for several years, before returning to the genre that always held a special place in my heart: fantasy. Now, here I am with one of the first fantasy novels I have ever written ready to be published.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

So much! Life experiences, other stories, and just a simple desire to write.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” and the movie “Eragon” (I know, I know, it was a horrible adaption) gave me a lot of fuel to write my novel. I love the sense of pure adventure both stories have and I wanted to write something like that, too. At that time, most of the fantasy novels I read had heavy aspects of romance in them which I didn’t mind but I began to wonder what it would be like to read a story that focused on the journey and less on some love triangle, ya know?

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Love yourself even when the world tells you that you’re somehow wrong or unlovable. Love yourself.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Fantasy is a genre known for escapism. I think as a kid I wanted to escape from a lot of the crap that was happening. I was bullied at school and had very few good relationships with the adults in my life, so everywhere I looked there was this chaos, this negativity, and so much stuff out of my control. When I read fantasy I got to leave all of that behind.

I also got to leave some of the things I used to hate about myself behind. When I read fantasy novels I wasn’t a nerd or loser. I was a warrior going on a journey to save the world or a magician with hidden powers that no one understood. I felt like an underdog and fantasy novels are famous for turning the underdogs into the heroes of the tales.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Oh, good question! Hmmmm. If I had to pick, I think I’d sit down with Serwa. She’s one of the main characters in the story and a very powerful witch. I think I’d ask her how she manages to carry all the burdens she does and how she handles people’s misconceptions about her. I don’t want to go into too much detail because her background has more explanation in the sequel. However, I will say that Serwa is one of the most misunderstood characters in the series. She’s often viewed as mean or a monster when in reality she’s trying to do what she can to save everyone.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter and Instagram are my favorite platforms. Specifically, Insta for readership but Twitter is good for branding and networking. I like Insta because it’s such a positive sight. Seems to me like it has less drama than other social media platforms.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

“Write your way through life.” That’s my mantra because, like any form of art, writing is an outlet. When life gets tough (which it always does) write out all madness, the beauty, the good and the ugly. It’s a healthy form of expression.

Beyond that, I’d say take any marketing classes you can and build your platform now! The sooner you build your platform, the more opportunities you’ll have to test what works best for your brand and how best to develop it.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Lots of new projects. After “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is released into the world, I plan on publishing my second novel. It’s tentatively titled “The Woman In the Tree” and is an Arthurian legend retelling that takes a different spin on how Arthur became king. I’m already writing the book, so it won’t be too long a wait.

Once that’s done, the sequel to The Pariah Child is next on my list.

03/14/2018
Blog Tour: The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone by Natasha D. Lane

Yay! I’m so thrilled to share this book with you all today! Our very own Natasha Lane is launching her YA adventure, “The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone”

The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone (Expected Publication Date: March 22, 2018)

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl — a proper young lady in their small country town — and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld.

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

Excerpt:

Sarah opened her eyes. The land moved beneath her. The sound of crumbling rocks made the girl realize she was being carried. She looked to the right, expecting pain to pierce through her as she moved but none came. She turned her face upwards to see that Alexander was the one carrying her. His arms were wrapped tightly around her, and he held her close to his chest.

The vampire’s face was hard and steady, emotionless, looking straight ahead. Blood and dirt stained him head to toe. There were a few harmless bruises and scratches here and there. The only serious wound was a slightly gaping and bleeding gash on his side. Sarah placed her hand over the cut in a failed attempt to stop the bleeding.

The vampire looked down, his dark burgundy eyes lit up at the sight of Sarah’s own dark blue eyes staring back at him. A smile spread across his face.

“Sarah!” he cried with excitement and stopped his tread.

She smiled, glad to hear his voice. “Alex!” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself to him, rejoicing in his strong arms that had become so familiar. However, Sarah’s joy was cut short when she saw who was walking beside Alexander. The child stared at Serwa, whose wrists and ankles were wrapped in chains. The witch wore a scowl on her face and her eyes blazed with an indistinguishable anger.

On either side of the trio stood a line of men, weapons in their blood stained hands. Four men at the back of the line held the ends of the chains that imprisoned Serwa. Sarah gasped and opened her mouth to offer words of comfort and question, but Serwa shook her head in mute communication.

“Keep walking, traitor!” commanded a vampire at the front. Everyone picked up their tread again, not paying any attention to the awakened Sarah. The child held onto Alexander even tighter.

She whispered to him, “Who are they?”

Alexander brought his mouth down beside her ear. “The Vampires.” Those were the only words he said. Fear gripped the girl’s heart. They had been captured. The very thing she had been trying to prevent.

Sarah watched as the group continued to walk toward a tall monstrous piece of mountain. From where she was, she couldn’t be quite sure, but near the very tip top of that rock there appeared to be a cave. Without even having to ask, Sarah knew that was to be their destination, their prison.

She looked past the men to her left. What she saw nearly made her want to pass out again. They were walking on the edge of the mountain. Below them were thousands of feet of nothingness. Just one false step and gone! As if they had never even existed. Sarah took a deep breath and turned away from the bottomless abyss. Her eyes scanned the men surrounding them. Four to the back, two on each side, and one in the front. That made a total of nine enemies.

Daddy always said jumping was the wussy’s way to fight, Sarah thought, despite knowing her father’s rules did not apply in Lyrica.

The group continued their march until the cave came into clear view. Immediately Sarah had a sinking feeling in her gut. The cave was dark and moist with water dripping from the ceiling accompanied by a foul smell that Sarah couldn’t point out. It was a strong odor that went beyond the simple stink of trash. She knew her nostrils would not forget it any time soon.

As they entered the cave, Sarah felt Alexander’s muscles tense; she patted his shoulder, attempting to reassure him even though she couldn’t reassure herself.

After several minutes of darkness, there was light from an opening ahead. As they approached the light, Sarah could feel Alexander’s heart begin to race. The closer they came to the light, the faster his heartbeat. Soon strings of laughter could be heard. It sounded like a party. Curiosity nagging at her, Sarah looked up and stretched her neck out in an attempt to see around the corner. With just the right amount of force so not to hurt her, Alex pressed her head back against his chest.

“Shhhh,” he said hoarsely.

Finally, they stepped into a large lighted room decorated with tattered banners and full of people. People, Sarah knew, who were not people in the same way she was a person. As the group entered the room, the laughter died. The vampire leading them bowed while his followers crossed their left fist over their chest. Then he stepped aside, revealing Alexander to the crowd. A hush fell over them.

Staring ominously down at her and her friends from a pair of thrones were two vampires: one female, one male. They rested smugly atop their stone thrones with smirks on their faces. The woman was tall and so thin that her cheekbones protruded through her skin like the jagged rocks on the side of the mountains. She was very pale with big dark eyes that seemed to hold little to no white in them. She had thin pulled lips and long skinny skeleton fingers, and she wore a floor-length black robe with red trim. Her hair was pulled back into some intricate type of bun, held in place by long pins. Oddly beautiful and very intimidating.

Beside her was who Sarah thought to be her husband. He was as tall as the woman but had more muscle and long, brown hair pulled back into an elegant ponytail. The man was pale as well, but his eyes were a lighter brown. He was clean-shaven with a strong angular face, wide shoulders and a curious smile. He wore the same colors as his wife, but with pants and a shirt underneath his robe.

Alexander’s heart was really going now. Sarah’s hold on him hardened. They both needed the physical contact.

Around the room, which Sarah could now clearly see was built like a tower, were vampires resting in small balconies which traveled all the way to the very top. Everyone was silent.

Finally, the woman on the throne stood, her smile bright as the sun and sinister as a snake. She swooped gracefully down the set of stone steps leading from her throne to the ground. She steadily walked toward Alexander, her smile never fading.

The same foul smell that filled the room poured off the woman in waves. She reached a hand out and stroked Alexander’s face. When he didn’t respond, she consumed him in her arms, crushing Sarah between them.

“Oh, Alexander, my son, it has been too long.” Her voice was light and smooth.

“Mother,” Alexander replied.

Sarah gaped. She looked between Alexander and his parents, searching for some resemblance, for an answer. Alexander only responded by holding Sarah closer to him and positioning his arm to create a barrier between her and his mother.

The woman grinned. “Always the wise warrior. Never trust your enemy. We taught you well.”

Alexander was silent. The King crossed his legs on his throne.

“You are in a strange situation, aren’t you, my son?” His mother held his chin in hand, before circling him. Her eyes scanned him from head to toe. “A traitor to your people, you swore to never return here, yet look where you are. Now, Alexander, you know as well as anybody that right now you should be decapitated and fed to the dogs.” She stopped in front of him and clasped her hands together. “But you still stand here, breathing and alive. Aren’t you curious as to why that is?”

He said nothing. She shrugged. “Well, I’ll tell you why, Alexander. It is because through much persuasion we have won you another chance. You have been excused of your crimes.”

Still no response, not even a mumble. His mother continued with a smile and grabbed his face in her hands again. “Are you not happy, my son? We’re not going to kill you.”

“I don’t care,” he said coldly. “Dead or alive, neither matters to me.”

The smile faded. The Queen’s face twisted into a grimace, and she swung her left hand out in a command. Four guards pulled Serwa forward. The witch growled in pain as the translucent dark metal chains dug into her flesh. Alexander glanced at her, and Sarah could feel his muscles flex.

Serwa glared at the woman and the man on the throne. The Queen smirked and walked over to the witch. “What about her? Does it matter if she lives or dies?”

“Leave her alone,” he said his face stoic.

“I know how much you love witch’s blood, Alex. So sweet and full of magic.” The Queen took one long ghastly fingernail and pushed it ever so slightly into Serwa’s throat. A drop of blood pooled on the Queen’s nail. She licked it away with a snake-like flick of her tongue. Then, she grabbed the witch by her hair and shoved her to the ground.

“Serwa!” Sarah pushed from Alexander’s hold and ran over to the witch.

“Sarah,” he hissed as she left his arms.

“Are you okay?” Sarah asked.

The witch turned and looked at her. There was a bruise on her forehead with trickles of blood dripping from it.

“Stupid girl. You should have stayed with Alexander.”

“But I –” The words struggled to come out of her mouth as she realized she had placed herself at the Queen’s feet.

The woman stared down at Sarah. “Oh, I almost forgot about you,” she said, turning her sights toward the redhead.

Sarah’s heart stopped.

She turned and watched Alex’s mother, whose smile was now gone. The woman gestured for Sarah to stand. She looked at Alexander. He nodded slowly, his face full of strain. Sarah stood and faced the woman who turned to the guards. They immediately pulled Serwa and Alexander to the sides of the room so Sarah stood alone. Alexander thrust himself toward Sarah, but the men held him down as he struggled.

His mother walked around the child with a curious eye.

“Tell me, child, who are you?”

“My name is Sarafina,” Sarah said and out of habit added on, “ma’am.”

The Queen raised a brow. “So after I have captured you and your companions, brought you to my home by force, chained and hurt your friends, you still show me respect with title?”

Sarah gulped and nodded. “Yes. My parents raised me right.”

“Mmm,” the woman said and tapped her chin. “Raised right or raised weak?”

“Right, ma’am,” Sarah replied, the words clear and steady.

The woman nodded, a sly grin creeping back to her face. “Tell me, Sarafina, do you know who I am?”

She shook her head.

“I am Queen Isabella, and my husband is King William of the Alclian Clan. Now tell me why you, my son and the witch have come to my land?”

“I think you have my other friends, and I need them back,” Sarah said as she puffed out her chest.

A melodious cackle broke from the woman’s lips. The crowd of her followers took suit and laughed along with her. Finally, she said, “And who says I have whoever you are looking for?”

“People.”

“Like who, child?”

“I don’t think that matters much, ma’am. I know you’ve got some of my friends, and I want them back.” Sarah was trying her hardest not to be afraid, but the woman looked down at her like a monstrous giant that could gobble her up at any moment. She had become Gretel and Queen Isabella the forest witch.

Sarah tore her gaze away away and balled her fists. She thought of Skuntz and Gan. The old elf had given Sarah the bow because she believed in her. She couldn’t let Gan down now.

The tall thin woman continued to circle Sarah, playfully twirling her fingers through the girl’s red hair. “And what if I said no? What then?”

Sarah’s heart was beating fast now, still her voice did not falter. “I’m going to get my friends.”

The Queen grinned. “So determined aren’t we? Strong willed. How adorable.” Giggles spread through the crowd, mocking Sarah. She felt like she was on the third grade playground all over again.

“Now, before we get to the friends you think I have, let me take a guess,” the queen spoke, interrupting the child’s thoughts. “Alexander probably told you a tragic story of how his brother died, their last words to one another and went on to explain how he became a wanderer? Am I correct?”

Sarah sucked in her lips and sealed her mouth. The Queen shrugged. “Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Alexander didn’t tell you all of it. He left out a few details. The very details that would make you realize how his father and myself are the real victims.” She took a breath.

“You are probably under the impression that the witch and my son are lovers, correct?”

Sarah remained mute, though a bright blush crept into her cheeks.

“Now that’s just cute.” The Queen smirked. “Well, before she had Alexander, she was the lover of his younger brother, my second son, Abel.”

Abel. Alexander had barely mentioned him, and Sarah made it a point to never bring the topic up. The vampire’s eyes always became a little glassy when he talked about his brother.

“Abel,”– Queen Isabella began to stroke the girl’s hair,– “was a good warrior. Agile, fast, strong, merciless. And then all of sudden he became…weak, sympathetic, feeling and connected to his prey. The change was subtle though obvious after time. My little boy. He would lock himself in his room for hours, go out on lone hunts. He was another person completely. So, one day, like any loving mother would do, I ordered his older brother, Alexander, to follow him.”

“Stop,” Alexander whispered, still in the clutches of the vampire guards. “Don’t tell her.”

“But why not, my son?” said King William speaking for the first time, his voice deep and thick. “Isn’t honesty one of your new beliefs? If you value your flame haired friend here so much, tell her the truth.”

“Father,” Alexander breathed heavily, “Do not mock me.”

In one moment the King was by Alexander with his hand around his neck. “No, do not mock me, boy!” The words came from his lips like acid. The king tossed him back and Alexander’s head hit the stonewall. His eyes became unfocused and unsteady. They glazed over, and he stared at his father with nothing in his gaze.

Sarah cried out and ran toward Alexander, her arms outstretched. Before she could reach him, a guard had snatched her up. He held her arms pinned behind her back.

Sarah gasped in pain as his grip tightened, stretching her muscles too far. The guard smirked.

“Now, my child,” the Queen grinned at the redhead, “Let me finish my story. You are a good little girl, aren’t you? If not, I may have to teach you some manners.” She waved her finger at Sarah.

“No,” Sarah snapped. “Alex is hurt. He’s going to die.”

Queen Isabella rolled her eyes. “So dramatic. Listen, or you’ll end just like him.” Again her voice had become stern and harsh.

“He’s your son!” the girl screamed. “How can you –”

“Sarah,” Serwa’s voice cut through her tantrum. She pronounced each word while widening her eyes at the girl. “Listen to her. Alexander will be fine.”

“B–” Sarah began.

“I said,” the witch’s eyes flamed their golden brown, “listen.”

Sarah gulped.

The Queen cleared her throat. “As I was saying, Alexander followed his brother only to discover that our little Abel had a love! A love named Serwa, who had not one single drop of vampire in her. He had fallen in love with his meal. Apparently, he found her on one of our family hunts, and for whatever reason, he did not kill her. When Alexander saw them together, he immediately came back and reported to me. My son was planning to elope with the witch. I couldn’t believe it, so I arranged for her to be captured as the prey for one of Abel’s classes. He did exactly the opposite of what I thought he would do. When it came his time to kill, and she was presented to him, he couldn’t do it. Do you know what he did instead?”

Sarah didn’t answer. She watched Alexander from her peripheral vision. His eyes were still vacant.

“He saved her. He saved her like she was one of our own. So, of course, he was punished then he died in our last clan war. I would say he died like a true vampire, but no true vampire would fall in love with his dinner. Soon after, Alexander fell into a depression over his brother’s death. He began to show the same symptoms as Abel. Lone hunts, isolation, very quiet, you know. And then he just left, gone without a word, only a single-page letter for his mother to cry over. Now do you see?”

Sarah still watched Alex. She wiggled her fingers and rocked on her toes, anxious to be by his side.

“I said do you see, child?” The Queen moved in front of her.

Sarah snapped her eyes away from Alex and gazed up. “See what?”

The Queen frowned. “How I am the victim. Because of this vile wench, I lost two sons. My clan, lost two princes and two future kings. My husband and I grieved for years. And now the only son I have is back, yet he won’t even greet me with one sliver of love. I am the true victim here, don’t you see?” She moved down close by Sarah’s face waiting for a reply, nodding slightly to herself and eyes wide in expectation.

“Actually, if you think about it Alexander is the reason Abel is dead,” the King spoke to Sarah, though he did not look at her. “If he had never told on his brother, Abel would have run off with the witch and avoided both the punishment that weakened him and the war that killed him. Turns out it was the same day he planned to run away with her. However, we all, especially Alex, forced him to fight.”

“Yes,” the Queen nodded. “Do you see? Do you understand, child?”

Sarah forced down the ball in her throat. She hated lying; her parents hadn’t raised her to make it a habit. Still, beyond all that, her parents had raised her to be loyal. She wouldn’t betray Alex.

She took what she thought would be her last breath.

“No.”

All signs of playfulness fell from the Queen’s face. She placed a hand on Sarah’s shoulder and squeezed. Her eyes grew very dark, and her skin seemed to crawl.

“Well, then, I guess there’s no point in keeping you alive.” The Queen released the girl’s shoulder and raised her other hand, revealing nails that had grown several inches long. Her hand came down fast.

Sarah closed her eyes and felt a chill travel up her spine followed by a strange feeling of relief.

“Look at her Sarah. Do not be afraid to look,” the mist creature’s voice came to her again. Sarah opened her eyes. And just like that the Queen’s attack came to an abrupt halt.

“Your eyes have changed.” She stared at the child for a moment and then pulled her hand to her side.

“I thought without the stone you held no power. How does it live within you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sarah said.

“Perhaps, the story is true… You may be of some use to us.” The Queen turned to her guards and nodded at Alexander and Serwa. “Take them away.”

“No,” Sarah shouted and moved toward Alexander. He remained limp with his eyes clouded over. The guards pointed their weapons at Sarah. She ignored them and moved Alexander’s head onto her lap. Blood ran and stained her skirt. She pushed the hair from the back of his skull, but there was no wound for the blood to flow from. As she reached down, she saw that her hands, too, were covered in lines of blood. So were her arms and legs. She looked up at the guards, hoping maybe one of them could explain where the blood came from.

They only smiled at her cynically. She turned to the Queen who was already walking over to Sarah with a mirror in hand.

The woman bent down beside Sarah and frowned. “Oh, my, dear what did you think was falling from the tunnel ceiling?”

“W-what?” Sarah managed to say.

Queen Isabella shook her head. “Sometimes we like to use our meals as decorations.” She showed Sarah her own reflection.

In the mirror was a girl painted from head to toe with blood that was not her own or Alexander’s. Sarah reached one hand out to feel the glass, to make sure it was real and not some sort of illusion. The glass was solid; the girl’s eyes grew wide in the realization. An evil cackle broke from the Queen’s lips in unison with Sarah’s scream.

03/21/2018
Book Tour: The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone by Natasha D. Lane

Synopsis:

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl — a proper young lady in their small country town — and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical home world.

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

Review

Overall, I love the book because it was nice to read a book that is lighthearted and a short read too. It was really easy for me to go through the book, I probably would have finished it in one read if I had the time.

The Goods:

Plot was interesting. The plot is interesting because it starts off with a lighthearted day and then the next is like a nightmare. Throughout the story, there are parts that are unexpected which I thought was nice because I like a good surprise here and there. I wish I was able to know the parents a bit more because they only appear in the first few chapters and in the last one. Sarah had mentioned them a few times but I want to know their personalities a bit more.

 The character and character development. There are two characters that I loved in the book. One of them is Sarah, the main character, and the reason for that is in the beginning she was this young girl who is naïve and thinks everything always ends in happy endings. Then later on when she met Alex, a vampire, and Serwa, a witch, they had helped her grow a backbone and realizes that the world is not like a fairy tale. Sarah is a cheerful and happy girl but her personality is one of those that can capture the reader’s heart because the author had done a great job at describing her feels at the right time with the right amount of description.

My favourite character in the book would have to be Serwa because in the beginning she seems kind of bitter to everyone but as the story progresses, she starts to show more of her personality. There is a good contrast between her bitter and violent personality and the caring and shy one. Her personality reminds me of a specific one called tsundere which is a Japanese term for someone who seems cold and hostile when they are first approached but as they get to know them better they start to show their warmer side.

 ➽ The somewhat bittersweet ending. The reason I said bittersweet ending was because it’s nice to see books where the story does not end off with a happily ever after. Yes, there is a happy ending but there is also a downside to the happy ending. I will not explain much because then I will be spoiling the book for those who want to read it. Just know this, I liked the ending of this book.

The Bads:

 Length of the book. If this book is not part of a series or has a sequel, I feel like the book should be a bit longer because then the relationships between all the characters would be stronger and create a bigger impact on the reader. But if there is another book, I would love to read it because I want to see what awaits Sarah next.

Recommendations

I would recommend this to readers who are around tween. Personally, as a 16-year-old myself, it was not challenging to read so if you are looking for a book that will challenge your brain then this would not be it. But for younger readers, it would be an excellent read because it teaches them that not every life has a happy ending and they should treat everyone the same. For readers who are looking for a read just to relax then this is also a good choice because it is quick to get through.

03/12/2018
SPOT LIGHT Blog Tour:The Pariah Child and the Ever- Giving Stone by Natasha D La

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl -- a proper young lady in their small country town -- and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld.

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

Want to know what she listened to while writing this?

 

Playlist Explanation

 

PC&EGS Playlist:

All the songs were picked because they represented different aspects of the story and main character, Sarah. These songs also hit on several themes I included in the story such as trusting yourself and perseverance.

 

1) The Second Star to the Right by The Jud Conlon Chorus

 In my novel, Sarah’s favorite book is Peter & Wendy (the original title of Peter Pan), so I had to include a classic from the soundtrack. Peter, the lost boys, and childish imagination are so important to Sarah in my story.

 

2) Just Around the Riverbend by Judy Kuhn in Pocahontas 

For me, this song screams adventure which is what my story is all about at its core. The idea that there could be a new journey “just around the riverbend” speaks to Sarah,especially when she’s young and full of that wonderful childhood imagination.

 

3) Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now from the 2007 HairSpray Soundtrack

Though this song is upbeat, fun, and peppy, Sarah has a troubled relationship with her mother in the story. They have a lot of conflict that really stems from her mother wanting her to conform, to “be normal” because Sarah just isn’t “normal.” I chose this song because, even though Sarah isn’t as bold as the characters who sing it, she is a young woman, breaking free from parental rules to return to who she is.

 

4)      Daddy’s Girl by 1 Girl Nation

  In contrast to the relationship Sarah has with her mother, she and her father are pretty close. Her father often steps in as a shield when her mother is berating her. He also has more faith in Sarah and doesn’t expect her to change who she is. So, knowing that, it’s no surprise she’s a daddy’s girl.

 

5) Can’t Take It by Imogen Heap from the Chronicles of Narnia Movie One

 When Sarah first stumbles into the magical world Lyrica she’s both frightened and amazed. Obviously, like any magical world, it’s a lot to take in and Sarah has to grasp it all quickly because there’s a big job that needs to be done. This song is for those moments when she’s allowed to just take in all that is Lyrica.

 

6) The Battle Instrumental by Harry Gregson from Chronicles of Narnia Movie One

Would any epic adventure be complete without a huge battle scene? I think not.

 

7)      Keep Holding On by Avril Lavigne

 Like any story, the path to the end goal is not easy. I definitely add in several bumps in the road to make it harder for my characters. That said, throughout it all, they have to remind themselves, as well as each other, to never give and to “keep holding on.”

 

8) Listen With Your Heart by Linda Hunt & Bobbi Page from Pocahontas Movie One

 I was never a big princess type girl but Pocahontas is one of my favorite Disney movies, even though the Disney version is horribly inaccurate.I still enjoy the song numbers, the themes, like peace with nature and humanity, so it’s no surprise she got two spots on my book’s playlist. In my novel, there’s also a talking tree that tells Sarah she needs to trust herself aka   “listen with your heart.”

 

9) The Wolf by Fever Ray from the 2011 Red Riding Hood Movie

 One of the main antagonists in the story is a pack of cursed wolves. How could I not add a song from Red Riding Hood? Of course, my story isn’t a fairytale retelling but the wolf in this story is a classic villain.

03/19/2018
The Pariah Child Blog Tour

Hey Everyone! As you can see, I am participating in a blog tour hosted by the author for her book,  The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone.
 

The blog post will have the following format if you are interested!

  • Book Links
  • Deleted Scene
  • Rapid Fire Interview
  • About the Author

Goodreads Synopsis:

 

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl -- a proper young lady in their small country town -- and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.

 

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld.

 

 

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

 

Deleted Scene:

She slipped into that world of blue like she had done back with the elves. She could see her friend’s soul sleeping, unaware of the chaos going on outside. She approached her.

“Solar?”

With a slow effort the dragon raised her head. For a moment she stared at the girl, her eyes full of sleep. “Sarah? What are you doing here? I thought you left with Jacob and Serwa. I was taking a little nap.”

“You’re not sleeping anymore,” Sarah shouted. “You’re unconscious. We’re falling from the sky. You have to wake up!”

“What?” The dragon raised her head and looked into the sky, eyes narrowed. “No... no, I was sleeping...” She turned to Sarah who wore a mask of fear. “Wasn’t I?”

“We don’t have time to talk about this. Solar, you trust me, right? I’m telling you that you have to wake up.” Sarah’s body shook as she pleaded with her friend.

“Maybe this is a dream?” Solar offered and looked at Sarah who nodded vigorously.

“Please,” Sarah placed both hands on her friend’s face, “if you don’t wake up, we’re all going to die.”

 

 “Die?” Solar cocked her head back and widened her eyes. “No, no. We’re going to the town…the town…I was in the town and…”


Rapid Fire Interview: (Provided by the author)

Welcoming to the stage, a very special guest. She’s the local loon in her home town, her hair is as red as a tomato and as tangled as hair comes. She’s traveled between worlds and is the keeper of a very special item that could spell the end for Lyrica. Without more of my jabbering-as they say down here in Montana-, here’s Sarafina!

 

*applause*

 

Sarah: (takes her seat) Uh, Sir, maybe you didn’t have to add all of that other stuff. I think—

Host: Okay, Sarah, I have a set of ten difficult questions here and we have no time to waste. Are you ready?

Sarah: I-I guess so but—

Host: Let’s begin!

 

1)     Favorite color?

Blue but I like green, too.

2)     Pancakes or waffles?

Pancakes. Mama makes the best pancakes with bacon grease. Mmmm.

3)     Living in the mountains or by the sea?

Well, I’ve never been to the sea back home…but I like the mountains, too. Uh, can we skip this one?

4)     Faeries or dragons?

I can’t pick one! That’s not fair and I don’t want to upset Nettle or Solar.

5)     Dancing in the rain or dancing in the snow?

The snow. The mountains behind our farm look so pretty when it snows.

6)     Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate!

7)     A month of detention with Elaine or a month locked in the house with your mother?

I-I…is there a third option, maybe?

8)     Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Thanksgiving.

9)     Dresses or jeans?

I guess dresses because if I say jeans Mama will be real upset. She says I need to be a proper young lady.

10)  Friends or family?

Both. I’ll never takes sides on that…

 

03/16/2018
What Inspires Natasha Lane? An Author Interview

Welcome to my stop on Natasha Lane's tour!  I haven't had the opportunity to read this book quite yet, but I'm definitely planning to!  It sounds so amazing and I'm so excited to share it with you!

About the Book

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl -- a proper young lady in their small country town -- and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever. 

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld. 

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

 

A Chat with Natasha Lane

 

Ms. J: What motivated you to start writing? 

Natasha Lane: I don’t think there was really any one thing that motivated me. I always enjoyed reading and I think that love of reading just transitioned into a love of writing, as well. I know that when I was in my teens and even today, actually, writing acted as an outlet for me. I could freely express myself, all of me, in writing which is probably one of the reasons I kept so many diaries. So, I guess reading was a way for me to escape, while writing was - is- a way for me to express myself and fight back against anything that tried to suppress me. 

Name the first book that made you cry. 

The first book? Okay, that’s a hard one because I’ve read so many books over the years. But, if I had to pick, I’d say She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It may not be the first book that made me cry but it is one of the books that did. I was older than thirteen when I read the book but once a chubby kid, always a chubby kid. I still had those self-esteem issues and I still recognized my own struggles with self-love and weight. So, when I was reading about Dolores, it was like I was reading about myself. 

Describe your favorite book from your childhood. 

If we’re talking about young childhood, I’d have to pick The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. I had the special cover where the fish was raised up, so you could smooth your hands over its scales and it was just covered in glitter. Basically, candy for a crazy, artistic kid like me. I also liked that the Rainbow Fish was selfless and cared more about making her friends happy. 

What are some of the themes you often include in your stories? 

Like most people, I’m a sucker for a good underdog story. I enjoy taking characters that aren’t exactly extraordinary or they may even be a little messed up and putting them in situations where they get to shine. I try to emphasize the importance of founded families, friendship, kindness, willpower, self-love and courage. To name a few. 

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice? 

I think for some people it is. It’s spiritual for me but only to a certain extent, depending on how you define spiritual. I think, for me, writing is more of a therapeutic practice. It helps me clear things up that I can’t really make sense of otherwise. Sometimes when I go back and read my writing rants, everything just comes in clearer. 

Name a book that has had a significant impact on your writing. 

1984 by George Orwell. I didn’t like every book that was required reading in high school but 1984 is an exception. The book was one of my first sci-fi, dystopian reads but what really got me about it (besides the the basic concept and world building) was the ending. Up until then, I had never read a book where there wasn’t a happy ending. 1984 reminded me that stories don’t have to have happy endings to be good. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes! It is so real. I don’t get it often but when I do it hits me hard. Usually, if I’ve stretched myself too far, like there are too many tasks on my to-do lists, my brain shuts down. I think it’s my body’s way of telling me “No more writing until you relax!” 

What does literary success look like to you? 


Obviously, being able to live off my writing, at least in part, would be great. However, what matters most to me is that I spark something in readers like the books I read sparked feelings in me. Hopefully, all those feelings are positive but just to cause a reaction in readers, to get them to think, to question and to rile them up, would be success to me. 

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 03/2018
  • 978-0999697719 B079Z39SX8
  • 276 pages
  • $11.99

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