Carpe Librum: Dear Stephanie by Mandi Castle

When the call went out offering an advance copy of Mandi Castle’s debut novel, Dear Stephanie, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Being a friend of whose writing I am already a fan, I thought I had an idea what to expect.

I was wrong.

It was better.

Paige Preston is beautiful, aesthetically enhanced in any and every way possible in the quest for perfection. She’s filthy rich and lives an incredibly priveleged life.

If you don’t hate her already then let me add that gorgeous men fall at her feet, not caring they are only being used to quell her addiction to sex. She uses her sexuality to get what she wants from whomever she wants it, then leaves them bleeding in her wake. Top that off with her bitterness toward her family, her drug habit, and her disregard for human emotion and you have a full on despicable bitch.

But….Mandi Castle has proven that she is a master of the twist. As the tale unfolds you learn what has molded Paige into the woman she is. Looks and privelege aside…..she is a vessel filled with pain and torment. A shattered vessel, broken beyond repair.

Or is she?

It’s very difficult to write a review on a book that you just want to read out loud to the world to make certain that they get the chance to experience the story. It reaches in and doesn’t just touch the many different levels of human emotion; it grabs on and doesn’t let go.

In the end, you may still find that you hate Paige, but you will also find that you love her, some may even be able to empathize to an extent.

The emotional ride this book took me on left me sitting still, mouth hanging open, then shouting (as well as one can on Facebook) at my friend, this brilliant author, asking her how she could do this to me.

I sit here in hopes that soon I will have the privilege of reading what happens after….

A masterfully written debut novel. Congratulations, Mandi! And very well done.

Now, with the author’s permission, a small look into the mind of Paige Preston. Should you require more, Dear Stephanie is available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.


My first suicide attempt happened completely spontaneously, as a reaction to what happened with Mr. Preston. Every other time, it’s been calculated, planned. I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach, a dull ache, and then slowly, darkness begins to surround me, and the voices in my head start, whispering at first, and then gradually their volume increases to screams until I feel like I am at the bottom of a hole with no light, and I’m suffocating, unable to take a deep breath, unable to focus, and unable to make it stop.

Then a calmness comes over me, the voices hush, and it feels like warm honey being poured over my head until my body can feel agaim, and I know what to do. Sometimes it comes slowly, and sometimes more rapidly, but every time, the answer is the same. Depression is a monster. He seeks me and haunts me and tries to pull me into the darkness.

I keep getting the dull ache. I know it’s there. I feel it, and I can’t shake it. The voices whisper, “You know what to do. Do it. Do it. Do it.” The voices convince me that the world is better off without me, that I’m doing myself and everybody who knows me a favor by making my exit, and most of the time, I believe their words.

This time though, I don’t want to believe it. As much as Blake makes me happy, I can tell I do the same for him, or at least, I did until he disappeared.

~From Dear Stephanie, a debut novel by Mandi Castle

Dear Stephanie Amazon



Mandi Castle

Mandi Castle is a daydreaming stay at home mom of two who spends most her time reading and writing. She loves watching football, is obsessed with music, and has a serious addiction to smart funny people. She can often be caught having dance parties in her kitchen in Dallas, Texas. To connect more visit her at

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Carpe Librum: Order of Seven by Beth Teliho

Here in the blogosphere, I have met some of the most incredible people. I read the words these people write and I learn. I laugh and I cry. I am left speechless, empowered, intrigued, and inspired…sometimes all at once. Some of these people have become very important to me and I consider them friends no matter where they are. When they celebrate moments of triumph I am lucky enough to be able to share in a small part of the exhilaration. It is, in a word, astounding.

Beth was one of the first bloggers I ever met. I was reading one of her blog posts and vividly remember thinking I loved her immediately. She was fun and feisty and there would come a day when I would realize she was nothing short of courageous. I don’t know exactly when I found out she was writing a book. She would be off the grid every once in a while when she was truly in the zone or in her own words, ‘editing like a mo-fo’. And then came the day. The day her book was done and ready to publish.


I jumped at the chance to read an advance copy. I went in knowing it would be good. What I didn’t know was how good.

Beth brought characters to life with a story that was nowhere near typical in the young adult genre. I found myself very involved in the journey with the characters especially Devi, the main character. She is real and believable, strong yet vulnerable. That isn’t always easy to do in paranormal fantasy. There is also a delicious heat between Devi and Baron, one of the secondary characters who, in true Beth style, is sexy as hell.

One of my most favorite facets of the book is how all of the characters have a part in the story and how beautifully Beth works through them to bring the adventure to its conclusion.

Beth managed to weave together a story with impeccable detail and then have it keep making sense at every twist and turn. Very often when I read a book that veers in a different direction the story becomes unbelievable and hard to follow. Not this time.

With the rich history and research so obviously put into the story, along with incredible imagination and writing, I was never disappointed and the ending tied up so wonderfully, BUT it seems to me it’s not quite over yet.

Thank goodness!

This, my friends, is a magnificent debut novel by Beth Teliho and I anxiously await book two.

In the meantime, here is a little gift from the author herself:

Allow me to set the stage: the curtain opens to reveal the main character, 18 year old Devi Bennett, who has the ability to channel energy from a specific tree. When she channels, she receives visions. Some replay moments from the past; other times the vision is a glimpse of something yet to come. Devi’s brother, Nodin, is an empath – he’s able to feel the emotions of others. In the following scene, Devi is channeling and describing the experience.

The massive oak tree towers above me from the far right corner of the yard. Thick branches dip nearly to the ground, like a giant’s hand awaiting a passenger. I reach up to my branch—the one I’ve used to climb it since I was five—and lift myself into its arms. The urgent energy transforms into soothing waves, twining through my fibers, entrancing me. My breath comes in short gasps, taking in what feels like clearer, sweeter air than before.

I’m lured higher and higher until I get to my chair, a forked branch that makes a perfect seat. I wilt into it, my cells merging with the tree’s essence. My arms and legs are the branches: weighted, powerful, rough with thick bark. Warm sap runs through my veins, and vibrations from the earth tremble in my bones. I reach up and feel my bark crackling, the warmth of the sun, and the undeniable, immense connection down deep in the earth. Anchored. Rooted. Part of something bigger.

The vision comes immediately.

I’m with Nodin. We’re young. He’s chasing me around the tree faster and faster. I’m squealing and laughing. He’s wearing long sleeves and a hat to protect his pale skin.

He almost reaches me, but I bolt toward the fence and lose him, sticking my tongue out and taunting him. His face gets red with frustration. He walks to the rock towers we built by the porch and kicks mine over. I start to cry.

Nodin doubles over, my sadness saturating him. He stumbles to my side to console me and I punch him in the shoulder. It starts to rain as he returns to the rock piles and begins to rebuild mine.

I calm into sniffles and give him a tiny smile when he shows me my tower is now taller than his. He hangs his head in relief, rain dripping from the brim of his hat.

Behind him a young boy and girl stand in tattered, filthy clothes. They are sad for Nodin, and although Nodin and I are soaked, they are bone dry.

My eyes flutter open and I bolt upright, shocked. I’ve never seen that boy and girl in a vision or otherwise, yet I’m almost certain who they are. I need to talk to Nodin. I start to climb down when thunder rumbles in the distance.

I cherish storms. I collapse back against the branches just as cold rain begins pelting my skin and nature’s symphony starts its slow march across the sky.

I will leave you with that little treat and highly recommend that you read Order of Seven by Beth Teliho.  It is available now for pre-order on Amazon and will be released on April 7, 2015.

You can also find Beth on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her website, Writer B is Me.