Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 
Author’s name: C. S. Johnson
Title of book and/or series: The Princess and the Peacock, (Birds of Fae, #1)
Brief summary of the story:
Kaipo carries the vivid memories of his mother’s death in his heart, just as surely as he bears the scars from the fires that killed her—the same scars that mark . But he also has in his heart a dream—he wants nothing more than Princess Mele to fall in love with him. When he hears Princess Mele is searching for a suitor, he and his adopted brother Rahj make their way up the Forbidden Mountain where the Fae Queen Jaya resides. For those who make it to the top of her mountain, she grants a wish of their choice—but she does it in her own way. Kaipo might wish for the beauty that will win Mele’s heart, but Jaya has another idea in mind …
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: The island of Maluhia is located in the Indian Ocean, with a Hawaiian influence around the 1850s. For several generations, the kings of the island have allowed them to flourish as a small island.
If we were to visit Maluhia as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
There are several places to visit. In the capital of Shanthi, there is a bustling marketplace, with lots of different goods to examine. The big draw of Maluhia is the natural beauty of the surrounding seas, the sandy beaches, and the high peak of the Forbidden Mountain. 
What dangers should we avoid in Maluhia?
The kingdom trains its warriors to protect their island, but it is always best to watch out for abuses of power, bribed fighters, and vengeful families raging against each other over generational battles. There are also traders who would kidnap and sell people into the sex trade on other nearby islands. In addition to this, sickness and superstition runs through the island.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Maluhia?
There are plenty of fruits and fish, with other birds that are served—including peacock!
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common?
The island lore is beholden to sharks as animals of power and rage, so a lot of their weapons have shark teeth that decorate the blades of their daggers and swords.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Maluhia?
So far, only boats have come.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Maluhia that we don’t see on Earth?
The Forbidden Mountain is the key feature of Maluhia. It is a very tall, steep mountain that reaches into the clouds. The mountain offers a barrier to the capital city on the inside of the island, but the poorer villages are situated all around the mountain.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Maluhia?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Jaya, the Fae Queen, resides at the top of the Forbidden Mountain, where she has created a small, supernatural bubble in which she can live. Her Fae magic—inborn, as a child of a fallen angel—leaves her with “Eden’s Curse,” in that if she is not careful with her magic, it can ultimately overtake her. She cannot stop using it, however, just as she can’t stop from causing mortals trouble.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Maluhia?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
There is nothing that would qualify as “unusual,” unless you count the Fae Queen, Jaya, who has taken up the peak of the Forbidden Mountain as her home. She offers a bit of magic to the islanders, but they know not to worship or trust her entirely. It is only because he is so desperate that Kaipo even attempts to see her at all.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Maluhia.
There are plenty of sports, but most have come from their warrior training traditons.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Maluhia as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
They go by the seasons more than the years, but they keep track of things based on the stars. There are feast days, but more of them are regulated to the culture more than religion.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Maluhia?  Please describe what it involves.
Since it was founded after Christianity came to Hawaii, but there is a mix of cultures, there is a general monotheism that is mixed with older superstitions. That is why Kaipo’s scars make him alienated from culture, and the whispers of Rahj’s birth damage their family.
What is the political or government structure in Maluhia?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The kingdom is on an island, and they are traditional monarchy that rules through bloodlines. King Ahanu is in charge, and he is a gracious and understanding ruler. He recently lost his wife a few years before, and since then, he can’t say no to his daughter.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Maluhia?
They are a culture of respect, so it is important to make sure you are being respectful, as much as you can. They value strength and cunning, and beauty, too, but their most celebrated value is loyalty.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I have traveled a lot, and I have a cousin I call my “Hawaiian Princess cousin.” She is just so pretty, and I used her as inspiration for Princess Mele. The best part is that she is exactly like Mele in that she wants to add beauty to others’ lives and she does this as a teacher. One of her students is even named “Kaipo.”
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
One of the more indirect elements of the book is dealing with the Indian eunuch culture. While it is less rare today and there is not a lot of vocal news on the matter, India’s “third gender” has been growing in its awareness. Some of the eunuchs are taken from childhood and others chose that direction, but overall, I wanted to bring awareness to the table, that there are broken men who have been castrated and while some have been content with their lives, some of them are quite devastated. I wanted to, in my own way, speak to them that their life is still capable of beauty and still worth living. There are people who love them and no matter what suffering they’ve faced, they are still able to be loved and cherished as children of God.
Author Autobiography:
C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.
Where can readers connect with you online?  
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Maluhia.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

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-Annie Douglass Lima

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.
Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.
Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.
With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.
But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …
One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.
The door creaked open with the same welcoming familiarity it always had as Brixton stepped inside. He took off his greatcoat, and at once, the small townhouse seemed to reach out with its own essence, bathing him in the scent of oranges and animals, flooding him with the sensation of a million memories. He breathed it in and reveled in it. Deep down, nothing in the world could dislodge his home from his heart—not the Board at Rembrandt, not the government, not even all his secret hopes and dreams—and there was unspeakable comfort in knowing that.
“We’re in the kitchen, Brix. Come on in. I’ve just finished pulling out a rack of biscuits.”
Brixton sighed, both in exasperation and gratitude. His mother was never surprised when he arrived, no matter the hour. He used to wonder if she had a spy in her service, but he knew now, having his own talent for magic, that she was able to sense emotions. Her talent made her one of the most accomplished veterinarians in London.
That was also why the house always smelled of all sorts of creatures. Philippa Flew often brought her work home with her, and today, Brixton saw as he walked into the next room, was no exception.
“Who does that belong to?” he asked, gesturing toward the large peacock sitting on the table.
The large fan of its tail sprouted at his voice, making him jump back as the hundreds of colorful feathers unfolded before him.
The peacock squawked, clearly sore at the disruption.
Luella’s laughter rang through the room as Brixton recovered. He glanced through the feather-fan of exotic bird feathers to see Luella’s blonde curls bouncing as she walked around from the other side of the table. 
“It’s Mrs. Fordyce’s,” Luella said. “He has a broken leg, so Mum brought him home for me to help take care of.”
“Why do you need to help him if it’s just a broken leg?” Brixton rolled his eyes. “It seems silly for you to have to use your magic on him.”
“Come on. Don’t be so stuffy.” 
“I’m just concerned. You really ought to be more careful when you use your magic.” Brixton sat down on the chair at the far end of the table. “If you’re not, the mage-ragers will realize you have plenty of talent, too, and they’ll come running to sign you up to work at Rembrandt along with me.”
“Oh, Brix. It sounds like you had another hard day. I thought as much when you came in.” Philippa sighed. Her hair, a shade darker than Brixton’s and lined with wispy grays, snapped behind her in a braid as she hurried to press a loving kiss to her oldest child’s forehead.
Brixton might have waved her off when he had been younger, but now he welcomed his mother’s affections. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek in return as Luella giggled again.
“I would not mind going to Rembrandt, but don’t think they would want me to teach the newbies just yet,” Luella said, jutting her pointed chin forward proudly. “I’m only fifteen.”
“You know as well as I do that some magic comes in early.”
Many of the first wielders experienced it as a secondary trait, one that appeared toward the beginning of adulthood. As Mendel and Darwin’s theories speculated, magic moved down through the bloodlines, and as the talents were able to be recognized earlier, it became generally accepted that most magic began to appear during adolescence.
But there were still the occasional stories of talented children who knew of their magic long before it appeared, and Brixton knew that a great many of those stories were true.
After all, he had been best friends with one of the most powerful wielders London had ever seen.
“There’s no need to brag,” Luella said with a huff. “We all know that you were a prodigy right from birth. The rest of us will bow down to you one day, I’m sure, but in the meantime, the requirements for specialized magical instruction start at sixteen. Even you didn’t have to go until then.”
“I was actually thinking of—”
Brixton went silent as his chest tightened, his heart clenched, and his fingers shook.
He had only just barely stopped himself.
He had come so close to saying her name.
It was appalling to think after nearly four years he still thought of her—thought of her, dreamed of her, but never spoke of her.
How could he? Remembering her was like lighting himself on fire and forgetting how much it burned.
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