Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

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As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. XD I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

***

You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. XD Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

Ishness of July: Otters, Hummingbirds, Retellings and Skyships

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It’s AUGUST! Guys. Guys. Did I hear myself correctly? August. AUGUST?

Sorry, I tend to repeat myself when I get confused.

Half of me is freaking out that we’re so far into the year (wasn’t it April yesterday??), and yet the other half is staring at the new calendar page in a sort of delight of new-month-itis, which is what makes me really happy when I get to write “August 1” in flowy script in my writing journal and reading log, ready for a fresh start. It feels nice, I tell ya.

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Yes, I’m a confused being.

(Plus, I always get June and July mixed up and tend to  think of them as vaguely one really long month, so it’s nice to be back to a month I can actually keep straight. Maybe that’s just me.)

But look: July is over! I don’t have the tiniest inkling of how THAT happened, since last I knew it was the Fourth of July and I still had big plans for the month… *cough* Yeah. That clearly didn’t happen. I think this last month was gone in record time, which is freaking me out.

But! You’re obviously not here to watch me freak out (or ARE you…? *wriggles eyebrows*) but to see what ishness I’ve been up to this past month! So let’s see…

July Things

I’ve been up to summery things like:

  • Celebrating Independence Day
  • Swimming
  • Going to the zoo (OTTERS. OTTERS ARE THE BEST THING EVER. OTTERRRRRRRS! ❤ That is all.)

(from pinterest)

And let’s not forget the most important one:

  • Dying of the heat because SUMMER

Seriously. It is so so hot. *steals Alaska to wrap round self like the opposite of a coat* (Because coats are for keeping you warm…? Okay, that analogy ran away from me.)

Oh! And I finally got to see the movie Epic! Oh my goodness, it was so adorable and fun and pretty! I kind of loved it to bits — aaahhh! And Ronin is so so fabulous (and I want his accent. And his awesomeness. And his hummingbird. Basically I want to be Ronin). AND THE HUMMINGBIRDS. HUMMINGBIIIIIIIIIIIRDS. I wanna ride a hummingbird so much. ❤

(from pinterest)

Writing

I wrote a pitiful 3000 words in July… Half of that was for my Kedran’s Wood short story Return to McAllistair Mansion… AND I FINISHED IT. I’m very proud of me. I finished a short story! Yayyy!

scrnshotrmm

(Okay, so it’s technically not too short-story-ish, in that it doesn’t have a plot but is just three related scenes about Tare between books 1 and 2, and also featuring a character I’d never written before, which meant I spent most of it trying to figure out what said character was like. BUT STILL.)

The other half of the  3000 words was miscellaneous snatches of five other stories. Yup. Scattered, this month.

But this was, primarily, the month of brainstorming. All of my stories exploded in my head, which caused a mess but was fairly awesome. (Okay, that may be exaggerating. Maybe not ALL of them. But several.)

  • I’ve been doing a ton of brainstorming for The Silver Forest, my upcoming Twelve Dancing Princesses NaNo… I still need a more concrete plot, but I have ideas, which is a start, and I got around to naming the oodles of characters I now have. It’s going to be awesome.
  • rrpinterest

    (from pinterest)

    Also, my old idea for a Sleeping Beauty retelling, called The Rose and the Raven, finally clicked, so it has a plot now, which excites me a ton and makes me want to write it. Seriously, some delicious plot twists. Bwahaha! I kind of adore it a lot. ❤ [PINTEREST BOARD]

  • I also had breakthroughs on The Invisible Mask and Heartseeker! So, yay! That’s kind of exciting. My problem childs these days. (Hush, childs is totally a word.)
  • I also had an idea for a new story. Yay. (No, I don’t actually know if that was sarcasm or not.) It’s a modern Cinderella story about a writer, set during NaNo. I’m kind of super excited about this one too. But it will probably not see the light of day for a few more years, especially since I’m still half pretending it doesn’t exist… (I HAVE TOO MANY STORY IDEAS OKAY.)
  • And miscellaneous stuff on some other stories.
sspinterest

(from Pinterest)

But mostly, my new idea for a Steampunk retelling of The Little Mermaid exploded in my face.

This thing is so big and epic now that I may have a panic attack from all the awesome. *SQUEEEEEEEEEEE* I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I almost considered switching to writing it for this NaNo instead of The Silver Forest, but I decided ultimately against it because I’m going to want to take my time with The Siren and the Skyship (which is its title) and just have wayyyyy too much fun with it.

The Siren and the Skyship is kind of my favorite thing ever right now. I’M JUST RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED AND LOVE IT SO MUCH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

(from Pinterest)

[Pinterest Board for The Siren and the Skyship]

So, yeah. Not much actual writing but SO much awesomeness in the brainstorming department. I think it was more of a brainhurricane.

Reading

july2015read

Yeahhh, that was a fairly slow month of reading for this year. I was mostly reading things for review.

  • I obviously reviewed Chasing Shadows and Corroded Thorns on the bloggy.
  • Castle in the Air was a reread, sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. HMC is my second-favorite book ever (after The Lord of the Rings), and Castle in the Air is also a delight — aaahh! ❤ So much hilariousness! It was awesome getting to read it again now that I know all the plot twists and secrets. >:D
  • I also read all of Five Glass Slippers, which I’m proud of me for accomplishing. I just reviewed it on Goodreads in case you’re curious what I thought of it; Broken Glass is still my favorite, followed by The Moon Master’s Ball! (Scatter the white mouse. SCATTER THE WHITE MOUSE. I LOVED HIM SO MUUUUUUUCH. *incoherent squeeing fangirl noises mixed with sobbing*)
  • And it doesn’t count because I haven’t finished reading Five Enchanted Roses but I DID read one novella from there to review it, namely Stone Curse.

So I kind of read 7 novellas and 2 novels this month. *nod nod* That doesn’t sound quite so bad, I guess… 😉

August Nightstand Books

I know, I know, I’m early on this again. But I can’t help it! You can join in on the Nightstand Books blog meme the first Wednesday of every month along with Jenelle and D.J. 🙂

Here’s mine:

AugNightstand2015

You may recognize a pattern by now…

  • I’m going to finish Plenilune this month if it KILLS me. (Look for a figurative obituary soon starring yours truly… *cough*) BUT I’M GOING TO. I WILL I WILL.
  • Yes, I’m still in Veiled Rose too–I’m determined to finish it as well!
  • House of Many Ways I’m going to get to reread, so I’m excited for that!
  • And I still need to finish The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I like the three chapters I’ve read so far… XD

And we’ll just ignore the five ebooks I want to read or finish as well. *shifty eyes* Yeah. They’re not on my nightstand so they don’t count. 😉

(And we’ll also ignore how busy I’m going to be and the fact I might have even less time for reading than last month… *cough*)

August plans?

I don’t even know… I feel like I really have to get EVERYTHING done this next month because September and October look to be insanely busy and we’re not even going to SPEAK of November… So if I don’t catch up on certain things I’m going to be behind the rest of the year. Heh. Wish me luck! XD

So! There’s a (very long) update on my life!

(Basically, I want a hummingbird to ride and an otter for a pet and an intelligent loyal white mouse for a friend.)

How was your July? Any plans for August?

Did you do Camp NaNo? How did it go?

Corroded Thorns

ctcoverCorroded Thorns
by Emma Clifton

5 stars!

Young Adult / Fantasy / Steampunk / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Beauty and the Beast / Novella

Sequel to Broken Glass (review here) in Five Glass Slippers

I received an e-copy of this book from the author in return from my honest review; I was not required to be positive; these opinions are entirely my own.


As the sequel to BROKEN GLASS (found in the FIVE GLASS SLIPPERS anthology), I was so excited to read CORRODED THORNS to experience the rest of Darcy’s story! And boy does it ever not disappoint!

I loved this book so much that I read it twice in one week. I have an occasional urge to do that with other books, but almost never follow through. But this time I just couldn’t help myself! Fortunately it’s a novella so I was able to read it in a sitting, and it’s one of those perfect novellas that feels exactly the right size.

As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I so enjoyed watching the plot unfold and picking out the similarities and twists. It’s a favorite fairytale of mine, particularly that it shows how even really horrid characters can find redemption. I LOVE fairytale retellings, and this has to be one of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast! I simply adored it.

The plot behind the normal Beauty and the Beast part of the story was so awesome — I loved that there was so much more going on under the surface than meets the eye and it TOTALLY made sense for the story; plus, fascinating fairy godmother politics! Isn’t that just cool? It was all so interesting to read about!

It was a gorgeous world, the settings felt so alive and real and everything was extremely vivid in my mind, despite the relative shortness of the tale. I really felt like I was in that old dark castle on the lake! The touch of steampunkness was SO cool and original (steampunk Beauty and the Beast? Yes please!), and I don’t usually notice this but I LOVED the magic in this story! It was just… I can’t describe it but it was perfect and seamless and interesting. Just… really well done.

In the interests of being fair and looking at both sides… Complaints? Umm, it took me a moment to think of any. There’s hardly anything wrong with this book! I did sometimes have a hard time visualizing exactly what the Beast looked like. I wished there had been a little more description on that, since my mental image kept changing. That being said, it was still an extremely awesome idea the way he was done!

At first as I started out, I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t feel just like the first one, BROKEN GLASS, which was hilarious and mad-dash and there were so many characters running around making a mess and being fabulous. But that’s only a partial complaint, because I quickly grew to love CORRODED THORNS just as much, despite its different feeling, and perhaps more because this one was much more straightforward of a plot, mostly following the one storyline, so I ended up more invested and just loved watching Darcy and Madeline’s story unfolding!

So don’t expect CORRODED THORNS to have exactly the same feel as BROKEN GLASS. This one is a little less whimsical and has a darker, more serious and epic feel to it (but there are still fabulous characters and some hilarious parts, never fear!). But I ended up loving that about it. They’re just different stories but you can still feel that they’re connected as well.

And now we get to the best part. The characters! I LOVED THEM.

  • Madeline is such a sweet, insecure, mousey thing and I found myself really really liking her. She’s so used to being a failure and yet she KEEPS TRYING and I love that about her. I can’t even quite describe it but… Madeline’s just so likeable. (Also tea and cucumber sandwiches.)
  • Young Niles was an unexpected but splendid (and rather important) addition, the one servant who stayed behind for the Beast. Gaahh, I just adored him! He was such an original, cheerful, stubborn, friendly fellow and was just fabulous! Yes, yes and yes. His role in the story really surprised me and I thought it was so cool!
  • Darcy… Ah, Darcy. What does one even say about him? DARCY. That is all. Despite his somewhat beastly tendencies, you still love him and it’s just incredible watching his story-arc leading from BROKEN GLASS and progressing through this one. It was amazing to read about, quite believable, awesome, and extremely well done. DARCY IS MY FAVORITE. I just loved loved loved reading this story about him! Especially his snark. So much fun.

Darcy, Niles, and Madeline make for a splendid main cast. Their interactions are just the best! The humor, the gems of hilarious lines… I loved it all! The other characters were interesting as well. Basically look forward to a great cast of characters in this book.

The ending. THE ENDING! There was one of those moments near the end where I suddenly stopped reading and went oh no — it’s about to be over — I don’t want it to END!! But then it stayed just the right extra amount of time to wrap up the things I wanted addressed and it felt… I don’t know… like a reward and it was just PERFECT! AAAHH. I loved it so much! Also, the glimpse of some characters from the first at the end totally made the book!! It made me so very very happy!

And not to give anything away, but this book contains my favorite proposal scene EVER. Yes, it was that good. ❤

Gaahh, how can I say enough wonderful things about this wonderful book? I feel like I’m falling woefully short! For such a small tale, it was packed to bursting with fabulousness. There was much incoherent squealing and babbling about its awesomeness on my part after finishing it. EEEK! ❤ And then I had to reread it only a few days later because I couldn’t help myself — I had to enjoy its loveliness again!

Basically it was glorious, epic, funny and full of characters I loved a ton, plus a setting I was completely immersed in (I want to live there!), and of course Beauty and the Beast! What more can you want?

I adore it and love it to bits and it just made me indescribably happy!

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

A fairy godmother—in prison? Madeline can’t remember even being a fairy godmother, let alone doing something bad enough to land her in a cell. When a mysterious lady sends her back to her old village with cryptic instructions and no answers to her many questions, Madeline must find a way to free her father, who has been imprisoned in a tower by a terrible beast.

First banished by his father the king, then cursed by an angry fairy, Prince Darcy will do anything to escape this fate and achieve revenge and power. Just when he thinks his chance has arrived, by some cruel trick of fate a girl from his past returns and once again wreaks havoc on his life. Worse still, he begins to question what he truly desires.

Published July 14, 2015.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Emma Clifton has been thinking up stories before she knew how to type them out. Reading books such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Door Within Trilogy, and Redwall inspired her to take her writing more seriously. Though her rigorous homeschool education keeps her busy, she also enjoys sewing, reading, and spending time with her family in beautiful Northern Virginia.

Emma won a place in the bestselling Five Glass Slippers anthology of Cinderella retellings with her enormously popular novella, “Broken Glass.”

To find out more about Emma and her work, visit:

www.PeppermintandProse.wordpress.com

(You can also find her on Goodreads.)