Friday, 28 August 2020

FIRST REVIEW for ALMENDRA'S QUEST

Book Review by Shaziya Khan

I definitely have a lot to say about this book beginning from the structure of characters in it. The story centers around the High Lady, Almendra, a High Lady of the Upper Kingdom, locked up inside the castle. I found Almendra’s character to be very unique and different from many cliché princesses I had come across. Her character was innocent yet smart and brave yet obedient. She lacked arrogance but possessed a sense of pride of that of a High Lady. Her innate bravery made her different and it could be seen throughout the story. She didn’t let her title meddle with her responsibilities and was always ready to put herself upfront at times of danger. Her way of analyzing life and love was different from the other spoilt princesses. The following statement proved it so, “…I’m not looking for a marriage of convenience, Joanna! I’m sure it may be enough to help Prince Frederick to hold onto his throne, but it won’t fulfill the fateline, and it certainly won’t save my kingdom!”

The other characters in the book played their roles perfectly too. Her grandmother, Lady Mildred, was the wittiest woman that played a huge role in the upbringing of Almendra, and by default, she knew her granddaughter the best. “I’ll keep in mind everything that you’ve taught me.” “I doubt that very much, Almendra, but I do appreciate the sentiment.” This exchange of dialogues between the two sums up their relationship perfectly well.

Woo, her wolf, and her new friend Joanna are other characters that deserve appreciation as they accompanied her in her journey as her companions and helped her shape herself and adjust in the outside world.

The plot itself seemed fairly simple on the outside, but as I read the story, I found out it was not so. The twists and turns made it so much better and I was excited to see how Almendra’s lacking experience in the outside could protect her from the dangers. The book was filled with many surprises and heart touching scenes that illustrated her bond with her loved ones. The writing was highly detailed and made justice to every scene in the book. I was thoroughly immersed in the book because of the elegant style of the author’s writing. I could imagine every plot to perfection, thanks to her powerful narration in the story.

The book was the lengthiest I have ever read till now. It described each and every action of Almendra throughout the book. However, the book could make do without more than a few scenes and dialogue exchanges: like the repeated narration of truths and descriptions of every magic used. I also hoped for the journey to begin a lot sooner on the book than it did, which could have been possible without excessive addition of rather unnecessary scenes. The ending was a little abrupt, compared to the whole journey, and Almendra seemed to play a little role than necessary.

After I have completely read and reviewed the book, I give the book four stars out of five.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the book, and if you want to read a not so cliché royal historical fiction, with a High Lady owning her destiny, then this is it.

Will I read the next book in the series of Almendra’s Quest? Definitely. There are a lot of amazing riddles in the book that I want to see undone in the next book of the series. I, especially, want to read about Almendra’s development as a High lady of the Upper Kingdom, and how she will be able rule her kingdom, with enemies waiting for their chance to arrive again.

Friday, 21 August 2020

PUBLICATION DAY!

 HIGHLAND COURT CHRONICLES:

ALMENDRA'S QUEST

is celebrating its entrance into the world of books and readers today!

Download a free sample to see if it's your cup of tea!

AMAZON

GOODREADS

"A fantasy tale of friendship and love, dangerous spells and unreliable prophecies, broken hearts and unbreakable bonds, with a dash of lies, murder, revenge and a whole lot of family drama in between."

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Author's Note: ALMENDRA'S QUEST

It’s strange to call “Almendra’s Quest” a new book. Well, it’s certainly new for future readers, but far from new for me or my family or friends. I’ve been dabbling in the magic world Almendra belongs to (on and off) for many years. I think I was still at school when I got the idea. Looking around, I see countless notebooks packed with ideas and notes and sketches, bulging card-board folders with completed but discarded drafts, shoe boxes jammed with post-it notes and even napkins, bearing bits and pieces of information like names and their origins, character descriptions and introductions, scenes, dialogues, backstories, etc. I can’t get rid of my old desktop computer because I use it as a storage for more of the same but in electronic form. Just yesterday I opened an old 80-page-long file containing different notes and plot ideas and was once again amazed by the sheer number of transformations this particular story had undergone (not counting all those stories that haven’t been written yet), while the world I created expanded so much that now it can hardly be contained on the pages of one book alone. If you ask me any question, any at all, about this world and how it works, I’m certain I’ll be able to answer it without a second thought. However, there’s one question that I don’t seem to know the answer to: Where did Almendra come from? A friend wondered about that yesterday during our morning walk with my dog and I realised that I don’t remember this crucial piece of information. At all. But then is it any wonder, I ask myself, considering how many names she had lived under and how many personalities she had had until she became Almendra Ravenlock? I know that my book is just a drop in the ocean. I don’t have a literary agent to cheer me on or a publisher to promote me, but I have a book full of lovable characters and their adventures and I’d like to share it with you. Tomorrow Highland Court will open its gates to the world and I welcome you to join Almendra and her friends on her quest.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

NEW BOOK IS ALMOST HERE!

 HIGHLAND COURT CHRONICLES:

ALMENDRA'S QUEST

PUBLICATION DATE: AUGUST 21st

PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON

Almendra Ravenlock, a seventeen-year-old ruler of the Upper Kingdom, has never set foot outside the grounds of the royal castle, believing that beyond its gates lies a deadly curse left behind by the same group of rebels that attacked her kingdom and sent her mother to her early doom fifteen years ago. Isolated from the rest of the realm, with only her cranky granny and her loyal wolf for company, she waits for Prince Frederick of the Lowland Kingdom to come and set her free. There is a prophecy that strongly suggests that he is the one to win her heart and save her kingdom.

However, when an unexpected messenger arrives and tells her that the prince is at death’s door after an attempt on his life and that she is the only one who can save him, Almendra grabs at the chance to fulfill the prophecy on her own terms. As she travels through the realm with her wolf and her new friend, Almendra unearths a horrifying secret buried deep under the rebels’ lair, discovers that her life and her kingdom are in as much danger from them as ever, and that the prince she is determined to save might not be the one meant to save her or her kingdom after all.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

BOOK COVER

 HIGHLAND COURT CHRONICLES:

ALMENDRA'S QUEST


BOOK COVER REVEAL

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Monday, 17 August 2020

SNEAK PEEK

HIGHLAND COURT CHRONICLES:
ALMENDRA'S QUEST

SNEAK PEEK    

Almendra opened her eyes on the seventh chime of the clock. She quickly sat up, stretched, and smiled. Just then the door to her room opened and a large grey wolf came in with a tray on his back. In fact, his thick fur was dark brown, but it was so liberally streaked with grey that he looked almost grey at a first glance. 
    “Good morning, Woo,” said Almendra, her face splitting into a grin. She pecked the wolf on the nose and took a large mug of hot tea from the tray. Breathing in the familiar scent of mint, she clutched the cup in her hands and raised it into the air like one would a goblet at a feast, her hazel eyes alight with humour. 
    “Cheers!” she said loudly and “May today be the day!” before bringing the cup to her lips, an expression of bliss on her face. 
    Woo walked towards the window and drew back the curtains with his teeth – the sky outside was murky grey. Almendra drank up her tea and placed it back onto the tray just as Woo left the room.
    In one big leap, she bounded out of bed, ran across the carpeted floor, and slipped behind the screen, her long brown hair flying around her in merry waves. Behind the screen, Almendra picked up a thick rope, lying in a coil on the floor, with an iron hook on one end, then wound it around a huge wheel it was fixed to on the other end, opened the window, and threw the rope down.
    A second later the hook hit the ground with a clunk. Dancing on the tips of her toes, her frilly nightdress flapping around her ankles, Almendra waited until the rope gave a jerk before pulling it back upwards, gripping the handle and turning the wheel with practiced ease. When the rope hit the ledge, she drew it in – now with a bucket full of water. 
    Almendra heaved the bucket off the hook, poured the water into a spacious bathtub and sighed; she knew from years of experience that it would take her many more buckets of water to fill the claw-foot tub for her morning bath. With another sigh, Almendra hooked the empty bucket back onto the rope and carefully lowered it down. 
    “This is ridiculous,” she muttered as she waited for her granny – the only other person in High Castle – to fill it in the kitchen below. “I mean, do I really need to take a bath today as well?” she asked, raising her voice and leaning out of the window when the rope gave another jerk. “I had one yesterday and the day before and the day before that and every single day of my life! I don’t even have time to get dirty! I think I’d like to know what that’s like…” 
    Her granny cleared her throat. 
   “There’s a lot to be said for greeting each other first thing in the morning, Almendra,” she said coolly. “It would certainly refresh our morning routine and provide proof that I have actually taught you some good manners over the years.” 
    Almendra groaned. Her granny insisted that she should take a bath every single morning. Almendra believed that it wasn’t strictly necessary, because she always took a bath in the afternoon anyway. But it was no use arguing with her granny about that. Lady Mildred was inexorable on that and many other points. But Almendra didn’t give up hope. Today was no different. The bath itself wasn’t the issue, of course. Almendra would simply do anything to break the routine. 
    “Just today, what do you say?” she persisted when Lady Mildred reappeared downstairs with another bucket. 
    “Almendra Ravenlock, you are the High Lady of the Upper Kingdom – ” she began in that infuriating manner that always made Almendra grind her teeth together. 
    “I know that!” she interrupted with another groan. “I also know that there’s no such rule that states that I have to take a bath every single morning without fail.” 
    “There are many rules that are neither written nor spoken of,” retorted her granny in an icy voice. “However, they are no less important than those that are, and their lack of record does not liberate you from the duty of following them.” 
    Almendra rolled her eyes. 
    “In any case, today may very well be the day Prince Frederick arrives and you want to look your very best when he does,” added Lady Mildred gravely. “Don’t forget that according to the fateline he is our only chance at saving the Upper Kingdom. But much depends on you. After all, he must fall in love with you first!” 
    Almendra could hardly forget something that had been mercilessly cudgeled into her brain. However, she was beginning to have her doubts on that score. Prince Frederick didn’t seem to be in any hurry to come. Apparently, he hadn’t been apprised of the importance of their predestined engagement or the fateful part that he was supposed to play in the fate of her kingdom. 
    “Well?” snapped her granny, jolting Almendra out of her thoughts. “That wheel won’t turn of its own accord!” 
    “I wish it would,” muttered Almendra, making a face, though not before retreating back into the room. She gripped the handle of the wheel and began to turn it again, praying that today would finally be the day the course of her life would change for good.

(c) Farida Mestek

Sunday, 16 August 2020

BLURB

"HIGHLAND COURT CHRONICLES:

ALMENDRA'S QUEST"

What is it about?

Almendra Ravenlock, a seventeen-year-old ruler of the Upper Kingdom, has never set foot outside the grounds of the royal castle, believing that beyond its gates lies a deadly curse left behind by the same group of rebels that attacked her kingdom and sent her mother to her early doom fifteen years ago. Isolated from the rest of the realm, with only her cranky granny and her loyal wolf for company, she waits for Prince Frederick of the Lowland Kingdom to come and set her free. There is a prophecy that strongly suggests that he is the one to win her heart and save her kingdom.

However, when an unexpected messenger arrives and tells her that the prince is at death’s door after an attempt on his life and that she is the only one who can save him, Almendra grabs at the chance to fulfill the prophecy on her own terms. As she travels through the realm with her wolf and her new friend, Almendra unearths a horrifying secret buried deep under the rebels’ lair, discovers that her life and her kingdom are in as much danger from them as ever, and that the prince she is determined to save might not be the one meant to save her or her kingdom after all.