Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fire Prophet

I received a copy of FIRE PROPHET by Jerel Law.  It’s the second book in the Sons of Angels: Jonah Stone series.  I haven’t read the first book yet (but will when I run across it).  I was attracted by the fact it is a fantasy series – you know me, total fantasy lover.   

The books are geared toward middle grade readers.  Jonah is in eighth grade.  The other main characters are his siblings, Eliza and Jeremiah.  Their mother is a nephilim, which means she’s the child of a human and a fallen angel.  It makes Jonah and his siblings quarterlings, meaning one-quarter angel.  Cool, huh?  I haven’t seen many middle grade novels about angels, so this will definitely fill in that gap.  In this, the second book, quarterlings are being attacked so the children learn how to better use their abilities.  The religious aspects are strong – prayer can conquer evil. 

This book left me feeling invigorated and uplifting.  I highly recommend it for classrooms, middle grade readers, and family read-aloud time.  My only issues with the story was the simplistic writing style.  I couldn’t always picture everything well, and the author used a lot of adjectives and Telling phrases.  However, it should work fine for a younger audience.  I approve of the strong family dynamic.  I didn’t see much of that in the middle grade novels I read when I was substitute teaching in sixth grade classrooms.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I received a copy of STARFLOWER by Anne Elisabeth Stengl from Bethany House.  This is the fourth novel in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, but its set before the first book.  I have read all of the books except for the first, but it was a while ago and I did not remember much.  With that said, STARFLOWER works fine as a standalone novel.  There are references to characters from other books, but it only adds to the depth of the series without making this book confusing.

Like the others in the series, it has an intriguing, picturesque cover, very eye-catching.  The chapters move along quickly, with relatable dialogue and realistic characters.  There is plenty of magic, too.  You might not realize it from look at the cover, but it’s about dragons – I love dragons.  Anne Elisabeth Stengl adds her own twist to the dragon myth that is very refreshing and entertaining.  To put it simply, a dragon kidnaps the princess.  Two men must fight for her hand in marriage.  STARFLOWER is anything but simple, though.

I recommend this to fantasy and romance fans, especially those who love Christian fiction.  Although this is an adult book, it will easily appeal to teenagers and could work with middle school children.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I received a copy of THE REASON by William Sirls from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. I normally whip right through books, but this one took me a while to read.  It wasn’t bad, but I had trouble getting into the voice.  I couldn’t put my finger on anything in particular; it was just a personal preference. 

I did enjoy the characters.  I found them realistic and the dialogue reminded me of talk I hear every day.  The descriptions were excellent.  I could picture everything as if I was there.  The use of lightning in the story really stood out to me as well – but shh, I don’t want to give away any spoilers.  The cover of the book is pretty breathtaking, though.

Basically, the story is about a community that comes together to help rebuild after lightning strikes.  I was worried it would be bogged down with preaching, but instead, the belief and religion was gently woven into the character development and fast plot.  Think of it as Christian and Fiction perfectly blended into a delicious cake.  I never found a dull moment.  There are happy times and sad times.  Be warned.  You might need to have a tissue box nearby.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration and hope.  Fans of Christian literature will definitely delight in this.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Interview - Dorothy Stacy

In the past, I’ve hosted young adult, fantasy, and mystery authors.  So, I thought I would go in another direction: Middle Grade.  Add to that the stunning factor that this author is local, and I vote we have a winning mix.  I am pleased to introduce Dorothy Stacy!  She is the author of the Erie Canal Cousins. 

Kissed by Literature: Would you mind telling us about your book series? 

Dorothy Stacy: Erie Canal Cousins is the story of a 13-year old girl, Rose Stewart, traveling down the Erie Canal on a line boat in 1840 with a bunch of boisterous cousins she has never met before. She is traveling to Utica, NY to help out her aunt who has just has her 4th child in 6 years. It is a time when the Erie Canal is alive with lights, colorful canal boats, booming businesses, and interesting sights. It is where locks, low bridges, mules, and towlines are a part of everyday life. (Integrates a lot of canal history into the story)

Three Weeks in Utica- Book 2 talks about her adventures in Utica, which was a very prosperous town at that time. (contains a lot of Utica history)

Albany Homecoming-Book 3 Rose returns to her home in Albany via the Canal (Albany history and one-room school house history)
Canal Town Christmas-Book 4 tells how Thanksgiving and Christmas were celebrated and became holidays in the US. (holiday history)

Stars Over Buffalo-Book 5 is about the other end of the canal from Utica to Buffalo. The group travels through Rome, Syracuse, Montezuma Swamp, Rochester, Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo.

All of the books are full of family life, humor, adventure, and growing friendships for ages 9 through Adult. Yes, even adults like the books.

KBL: Some readers who aren’t from this area (Upstate New York) might not be familiar with the Erie Canal.  Would you mind giving us a quick history lesson?

DS: The Erie Canal is a 363 mile man-made waterway across New York State between  Buffalo and Albany to provide for easier transportation across the state. It was 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep when first built and later was expanded. It consisted of many locks to get from one level to another and bridges for farmers to get from one side of their property if the canal went through it. The canal took 8 years to build and cost over 7 million dollars. It was all dug by hand with no modern tools to use.

Interest in it began in the early 1800s, digging started in Rome, NY in 1817, and it was finished in 1825. A Wedding of the Waters Ceremony took place upon its completion. Then people and goods were able to get from Albany to Buffalo in 10 days whereas the land route took 2 to 3 weeks.

KBL: How long have you been writing?

DS: I have been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. When I was around 7 or 8, I would write a story called, “The Adventures of Rosemary.” It was written in a 3” x 5” notebook with chapters 3 pages long. This was patterned on my life events. If I went to visit my grandparents across town, Rosemary went to see her grandparents.

When I was in grade school in a class of 54, I sat in the last double seat in a row with a good friend of mine who also liked to write. We received this honor because we were quiet and did not cause commotion. We each had a special notebook that we would write SOAP OPERAS in.  After we each wrote a chapter, we would exchange notebooks on the space between us on the seat and read each other’s stories. And…we never got caught.  It was such fun.

When I was married I wrote some and sent magazine articles out to different companies. I often received great comments on the work but was not able to get them published.  However I did write 2 articles for a religious magazine, which were purchased and paid for but never appeared in print because the magazine ceased to exist before they were published. That was very discouraging but I kept on writing because I loved it. I also took a few courses on writing in the meantime.

KBL: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

DS: 1. If you love to write, NEVER GIVE UP! Keep on trying. It is much easier to get books published these days and Indy Authors are gaining more and more respect and acceptability. If you have a really great book and it keeps getting rejected, you can open your own publishing company and do it yourself with a great printing place. For example I did it and used Morris Publishing Co. They are wonderful to work with.
2. Keep on writing even if it is just keeping a journal or writing short stories. These actually are the first novels I have ever written.
3. You’ll need a day job until the bucks come rolling in from your writing.  LOL . A teaching career is good preparation for writing. And you can try out your books on the children.
4. Read lots of books, especially in the genre you want to write in.

KBL: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from writing the Erie Canal Cousins series?

DS: Not to let people push me around. I had my first book with a publisher for a year and a half who kept telling me they were going to publish it and it was just waiting for a final okay. I kept waiting and waiting , sending e-mails back and forth,  getting what I thought was positive feedback, only to have the manuscript sent back after that. I would never tolerate anything like that again. However at the time I was scared to death to try to  publish it myself. Now I am so happy that I did and would not go the other route again.

Also Book Series are great because if people like the first book, they will usually buy the rest of it.

KBL: Do you have any ideas for future projects? 

DS: Yes, I am researching and writing another historical fiction series about the girl in the first series’ children which will be located in the Sauquoit area in 1857. It will be called, The Town of Paris Twins. The first book will take place on Paris Hill which was called Paris, New York in those days. The twins Annie and Charlie, age 11, will go to the Doolittle School (now an operating one-room schoolhouse museum) where their father will be the schoolmaster, etc. But wait…I don’t want to give too much away. I hope I can get it out in 2013 for the 20th anniversary of the reconstruction of the schoolhouse. This will probably be a 3 book series or possibly more.

I have a website where anyone can check out the books: and a Facebook page for myself under: Dorothy Dmochowski Stacy-Author and one for my books at: Erie Canal Cousins Series-The Books. Give us a look!

Now is your chance to join Dorothy Stacy on her trip along the Erie Canal.  She’s offered to send the first Erie Canal Cousins book to one of you lucky blog readers.  To be eligible, all you need to do is leave a comment here with your name and email address so she can get in touch with you.  She’ll pick the winner in December, so make sure to comment soon! 

Thank you, Dorothy, for a wonderful interview!

Friday, November 9, 2012


I received a copy of A HOME IN DRAYTON VALLEY by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Bethany House.  It is another example of excellent historical fiction with romantic and religious undertones.  I absolutely adore historical fiction and wagon trains were favorite topics of mine when I was in elementary school.  This story took me right back to those times. 

I’ve enjoyed other books by Kim Vogel Sawyer, so I knew it would enjoy this one.  A HOME IN DRAYTON VALLEY begins in New York City, in the year 1880.  Tarsie (I love the name Tarsie – it kept me more engaged as I read) hates how her friend Mary suffers under poor living conditions, so she convinces Mary’s husband, Joss, to take them out west to Kansas.  Tarsie goes too, hoping for a new life, and to help take care of Mary during the journey.  Tarsie has a strong knowledge of herbs, although she isn’t a doctor.  Sadly, Mary passes away.  Tarsie had promised her she would look after the family, so she convinces Joss to marry her. 

The chapters switched between Joss and Tarsie’s points of view.  I found that very interesting, to see two sides of the same story.  All of the characters were engaging and realistic.  I loved and hated in all the right places.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ghost Story Anthology

I am thrilled, ecstatic, beyond excited – can’t you tell from my solemn expression?  I laugh because the picture fits perfectly with my news.  My short story, AMITY, is going to be published in a ghost story anthology!  Yes, it is an honest-to-goodness anthology with an ISBN and a way to order it (coming soon). 

I don’t want to give away the ending, or even too many details.  Let’s just say there’s a cemetery…a young woman who meets a stranger amongst the graves…a secret hidden in a diary…  I may be biased since I wrote it, but I like to think the story will be so much more than what a few words can depict. 

More details will follow as soon as I have more information.  

These amazing photographs were done by my cousin, Ashlee Mierek, to depict the mood of AMITY.  


I received a copy of UNENDING DEVOTION by Jody Hedlund from Bethany House.  The cover is addictive – a young woman wearing a cape stands amongst skeleton trees while looking pensively out at the audience.  Who can resist that?

I am never disappointed with Bethany House’s books.   They have the perfect mix of religion, romance, and adventure, with a sprinkling of danger that keep you riveted to the edge of your seat.  This novel was no exception.  Lily Young has had a hard life.  She’s had to raise her sister, but now her sister is trapped somewhere as a prostitute.  Lily is determined to find and save her, so she travels around logging camps.  Her companion is a photographer who uses Lily as his assistant.  As they search for her sister, they save other unwilling prostitutes. 

I adored the mingling of mystery and history.  It really is one of those books that sucks you back in time.  I never considered what life might have been like for prostitutes or photographers in the logging camps during the late 1800’s.  This opened my eyes to the dangers and heartaches.  I really felt for the helpless girls.  I highly recommend this novel to history lovers like myself. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


I received a copy of THE HUNTED HARE BY Fay Sampson from Monarch Books via Kregel. It is the first novel in the Aidan Mysteries.  Aidan and his family travel to Pennant Melangell in North Wales. Right there, I was hooked. While studying my genealogy, I found that many of my ancestors lived in Wales.  I even recognized some of the locations mentioned in the book from my research on my family tree.  It was like taking a trip to their modern day world.

Aidan takes his family there because his wife, Jenny, loved it when they visited long ago. She had written a book about it and he’d taken the photographs.  Jenny is now dying of terminal cancer. She wanted to experience the setting one more time and hopefully benefit from its healing properties.  Along for the journey is Melangell, their daughter, who was named after the location. 

Throw in great dialogue and heart wrenching sadness.  The descriptions were very thought-provoking.  The mystery left me wondering right up until the final chapters, and even then, I remained on the edge of my seat until the final page.

I enjoyed the novel for many reasons, but I didn’t love it for one: I couldn’t connect with the voice.  While other people will surely adore it, it just didn’t flow well for me.  With that aside, I definitely recommend this fast paced book to anyone who is interested in history and mysteries.  I’ll watch for the next mystery in the series.