SEVENTY TWO AUTHORS SNAG THE FIREBIRD BOOK AWARDS January 2021 – Speak Up Talk Radio announced the winners of 2020’s fourth quarter FIREBIRD BOOK AWARDS contest. Seventy-two winners were announced in 87 categories. One of the winning entries was from Texas author J.M. Buckler whose book titled PASSAGE OF TIME won in the new adult category. Authors and publishers from around the world submitted their work to the Firebird Book Awards. A panel of 12 judges within the writing and publishing space then read every book and independently scored each entry according to a set of standardized criteria that evaluates the quality of the writing as well as production aspects. Only entries with the highest of scores are awarded the coveted Firebird. Patricia J. Rullo, founder of the Firebird Book Awards, says, “The quality of the entries were stunning and speak to the talent out there that needs a marketing voice. At Speak Up Talk Radio, our mission is to offer radio interviews and podcasting services to help authors expand their reach. In addition to additional prizes, our winners have the opportunity to be interviewed and aired on radio stations, iHeart Radio, Pandora, as well as 50 additional online venues, giving them new ways to speak up and share their work.” Pat adds, “We’ve included a charitable component to our awards by making all entry fees tax-deductible to the author. In return, we personally make and send handmade fun and whimsical pillowcases to women and children in homeless shelters via Enchanted Makeovers, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. All entry fees fund this project. In this way, authors can get notoriety for their work while doing good for others. It’s been such a rewarding venture for everyone.” The Firebird Book Awards run quarterly contests so authors can receive recognition on a timely basis. Authors from all genres, mainstream, independent, and self-published are welcome. Additional winning authors and titles as well as entry information is available at

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Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Author: A.K. Wilder

Publisher: Entangled Teen


Raise. Your. Phantom. In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come...

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen. A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms. A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea. And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What a fun ride! Crow of Bones is a clean young adult read that keeps the reader guessing. I can spot a plot twist a mile away, but author A.K. Wilder’s clever writing acted as a blindfold. I never saw the jaw-dropping twists coming.

Though the author’s writing style catered toward the young adult genre, at times it felt restricted. Her new adult/adult background yearned to come out. The graphic combative scenes and sexual tension between characters are two examples that stood out. Regardless, A.K. Wilder did a beautiful job transitioning into the young adult marketplace.

What started out as an initiation journey, developed into a nail-biting story of survival. Marcus, the heir to the Baiseen throne, leads his fellow savants, along with his recorder, Ash, a girl who lacks the powers of the others to the Sacred Isle of Aku, a politically neutral island realm where all initiate savants go to train for advancement to yellow robes.

Their journey doesn’t go as planned, but with the help of a handsome sailor who’s torn between the sea and his affections for Ash, the misfit crew makes it to Aku before the gates close.

This is where the story takes off. Training phantoms isn’t a simple task, especially stubborn ones like De’ral, Marcus’s warrior phantom whose unique connection to Ash leaves the readers scratching their heads. But Marcus and the other savants hold their own. An act of betrayal test the savants’ loyalties and friendships solidify after an unexpected attack. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Once the action built, it never stopped.

I have so many burning questions after finishing this book. The cliffhanger blew my mind. I need the second book—now.

Readers: a fantastic book for those who love YA adventure and clean romance

Writers: a brilliant case study for those studying world-building, combative scenes, and dialogue

Warnings/Triggers: graphic fight scenes

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: December 29, 2020

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Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Author: Holly Black

Publisher: Little Brown

Synopsis: Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. #1 New York Times bestselling author, Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame's enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan's perspective. This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector's item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.

Review: Well, damn. I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. I’ll be honest. I stopped reading The Cruel Prince because the writing style drove me mad. The choppy sentence structure combined with Jude’s lack of maturity made me wonder if I had stumbled upon a twelve-year-old’s diary. I wanted to love the characters, but I didn’t. I couldn’t connect with anyone on an emotional level.

But wait…this review isn’t about the first book in the series, is it? No. It’s about Black’s newest installment, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories. So why, one might ask. Why did I pick up this book if I closed the first book halfway through? Easy. Curiosity. Why was Cardan such a jerk to Jude in the first book? How did he become such a cruel young man? These burning questions sent me running to the nearest bookstore. I needed answers.

It only took me a few hours to devour the tiny masterpiece, and boy, oh boy, I'm thrilled I gave it a shot. The illustrations that accompany the short stories are glorious. The lessons Cardan learned as he grew into a man opened my eyes. Once the book ended, I wanted to read more about his life prior to Jude.

Yes, I broke the rules and read this book before the series, but honestly, it gave me an appreciation for a world I never planned to revisit. It gave me compassion for a young man I once hated.

Readers: a fun read for those who love short stories, companion novels, nostalgia, and fans of Jude and Cardan

Writers: an excellent case study for those writing short stories and researching love to hate villains

Warnings/Triggers: excessive drinking and drug use

Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: 12/4/20

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