Sunday, December 21, 2014

Andi Under Pressure

I received a copy of ANDI UNDER PRESSURE by Amanda Flower from ZonderKids via BookLook Bloggers.  It is part of the Andi Boggs series, this being book two.  I often read juvenile fiction so that I can pass them on to a little cousin – I read them first to make sure they are appropriate – and I have my degree in elementary education, so I have a strong fondness for youth fiction.  This book is top-notch and I highly recommend it.  It would be perfect for reading aloud in a family setting or in a classroom.

Andi (Andora) is twelve and getting into fun adventures.  Best of all, she’s solving mysteries.  It reminded me of the Nancy Drew books my mother would read to me when I was younger, and it also reminded me of Veronica Mars, but of course in a more age-appropriate setting.  I found another strong resemblance to the Mandie Shaw mysteries, which were a major part of my childhood, in how God is revered.


Andi and her friend Colin go to Discovery Camp, where of course mysterious things are occurring and they decide to investigate.  I loved how the author is encouraging girls to get into science – and mysteries!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Secret of Pembrooke Park

I received a copy of THE SECRET OF PEMBROOKE PARK by Julie Klassen from Bethany House.  I must preface this by saying Julie Klassen is one of my favorite authors and Bethany House is one of my favorite publishers, so I was thrilled at this opportunity.  Of course, the fact that the novel is historical fiction, one of my favorite genres, also helped in my excitement.

This story centers around Abigail Foster, who is a strong female lead.  Her family is destitute after her father invests wrongly in a bank – at Abigail’s urging.  She and her father get the chance to move to a manor, and you can bet mystery ensues.  The Pembrooke family up and disappeared one day.  There is also a lost treasure.  I found the mystery intriguing and I swooned over the romance. 


My only nitpick is that I was confused about the historical aspects.  Some of the things didn’t feel right for me – Abigail is in her room alone with a male – but they didn’t deter from the storyline.  Overall, this was a great escape from day-today-life.  I recommend this to fan of inspirational historical fiction.  The writing reminded me of a classic.  Perhaps it isn’t quite Jane Austen, but it certainly reminded me of her work.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Author Interview with Drake Collins

Time for something I haven't done before...I am interviewing the author of an erotic novel.  I am pleased to introduce Drake Collins and his novel HARDSHIP TROOPERS.

 
 
1. How did you become interested in writing?

I've been writing since I was very young. I was always interested in fiction in all mediums, from film, to animation, to comic books, to video games and books. I started writing my own stories in grade school. I read comics at an early age which boosted my vocabulary skills and gave me an urge to create my own worlds and characters, which I've done ever since.

 
2. Tell us about your novel.

Hardship Troopers is the story of a young human male named Cam who lives several centuries in the future. Cam works as an office manager and corporate liaison aboard a space station orbiting an Earth-like planet dozens of light-years from the human home world. After one of his co-workers get a promotion and is transferred out, a new hire comes aboard. She's a young human female named Maximillia just recently released from a correctional facility on a nearby planet. Cam is congenial and personable whereas Maximillia is brash, but undeniably effective at her job. He finds her fascinating and disturbingly alluring. Their seemingly improbable chemistry builds into an unlikely romance.

3.  Why did you choose to write an erotic novel?

I was actually motivated to write an erotic novel after playing through a video game. The game was a science fiction role-playing game and gave you the opportunity to spark a romance with a non-player character, which I did. I imagined a drawn-out romance under circumstances and in environments similar to the game and decided to embark upon an adventure to write a story!

I really wanted to explore the intricacies of intimate relationships, not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically. But I also wanted to do all of this in front of the backdrop of a unique science fiction universe. I wanted to delve into how sexual relations might work between alien species and how the existence of aliens could potentially exponentially complicate sexual relationships.

In the end, though, it did narrow down to a simple story about a slightly timid, but loving and kind-hearted fellow whose heart is captured by an icy goddess. They end up learning from one another, growing as human beings and becoming closer, both physically and emotionally. 

4. The cover is great!  Who did the artwork?

The original photography was done by a Russian artist who went under a pen name that I unfortunately can't recall. After an exhaustive search to find a stock photo that I could use as the basis for my cover, I found the gallery of a talented photographer who lives in St. Petersburg, if I remember correctly. We spoke on and off for over a week about my project and she was happy to lend her photo to my work. I offered to compensate her for the license but, surprisingly, she turned down my offer, stating she was just happy that someone liked the photo.

5. What have you learned from becoming a published author?

I've learned that the book-buying public are fickle. I really did pour my heart and soul into the book and spent over a year writing it but the initial release was tepid at best and barely found an audience. I've written subsequent short stories that are fictional, but realistic in nature, which have sold far better, but were lazily written by my own admission. I think that erotic novel readers are more interested in action than ideas and Hardship Troopers was a hearty mix of science fiction concepts and torrid smut, which may have turned some off."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Discipleship

I received a copy of DISCIPLESHIP: LIVING FOR CHRIST IN THE DAILY GRIND by J. Heinrich Arnold from Plough.  It is the new expanded edition, including a foreword by Henri J. M. Nouwen. 


I read it, and then needed to ponder what I had read.  It was definitely good, very thought provoking, and I needed to digest the words.  I also took a look on GoodReads to see what others were saying, and I can understand why the book has earned such great rankings.  This book brings Jesus into a profound life and I can see it positively affecting those who are new in their beliefs.  I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Finding North (Compass series #1) by Allyson Gottlieb




Sometimes you have to lose everything to find what you’ve really been looking for

Katherine Zova spends her days patching up soldiers in the Alliance’s army while praying for time to heal the wounds on her own broken heart. Crushing loss numbs her waking hours and nightmares threaten her sanity when she closes her eyes. All she wants is to be free, but instead she’s forced to trade one cage for another.

Reynan Caverly wears his uniform only out of loyalty to his father, who in his quest to build a new America has little time to spend with his only son. Indifferent to his sensational Las Vegas lifestyle, all he wants is to feel a connection with someone. A seemingly impossible request—until the day he finds a girl with haunting eyes in a group of captured Alliance soldiers.

Some wounds cut too deep to deal with alone. Sometimes only love can heal. But in a country torn apart by civil war, nothing comes without a price. And for Kat and Reynan, falling in love may cost more than they’re willing to pay.


Isn’t it gorgeous? Marisa from "https://
www. http://covermedarling.com">Cover Me Darling did an amazing job. Just look at that full wrap!






And since it’s also #TeaserTuesday, here’s an exclusive excerpt from inside the book!

Reynan was smiling at me in a way that made me ever so slightly nervous again. “You sound so happy when you talk about home. I can tell you really love it there.”
My stomach muscles tensed involuntarily. This was skating dangerously close to subjects from last night’s interrogation.
These were Reynan’s kind eyes looking back at me, though, not the cold, cruel stare of his father. So I took another deep breath and said, “I have some pretty good memories, yes.”
“What was the school system like? I’ve been homeschooled all my life, for one reason or another, so I’ve never really seen a public school.”
I started to laugh, then covered it with a cough. “Public school sucks. Be thankful you didn’t have to deal with disgusting cafeteria food, lockers that stick, and butt-ugly PE uniforms.” He chuckled as I continued, “Homeschooled…I can’t imagine what that must be like.”
“Yeah, well, it was pretty nice. My father made me do a lot of physical training, but as far as book-learning, I got a lot of choice about what I studied, so I stopped doing math as soon as I could get away with it.”
“Nice.” I smirked. “My mom made me take it all through high school. Calculus was the bane of my existence.”
“That sucks.” He looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets as he added, “It was lonely, though. Homeschooling.”
There was a weight in my chest that felt a lot like sympathy. “Did you have a favorite subject?” I asked, trying to take my mind off that topic before I thought too long about it. “Mine was English.”
“I liked history, which is kind of a useless subject in some ways. If you really think about it, though, somebody had to write these books, which is kind of like playing God. Can you imagine trying to sum up all of human existence into a “greatest hits” reel? That’s some serious power right there. Then I wonder what the history books will look like in a hundred years, and how much of what’s important to me, what I lived through, will end up preserved for future generations to learn about.”
I sucked in a breath, the indirect reminder of the current state of the country—of the war, and our positions on opposite sides of it—like a bucket of freezing water over my head, a shock to my system. Moreover, there was the realization that until then, we’d been chatting away like a pair of actual friends.
I tried to put some space between us, but the passage was barely wide enough for two people to walk comfortably side by side. I was grateful when it widened out into a small chamber. More pictures and hieroglyphics covered the walls, and a gold sarcophagus lay in the center on a slightly raised platform.
I stroked my fingers over the top, shivering slightly at the cool metal. “This place is awesome,” I said, in an attempt to break the awkward silence that had settled in between us like an old friend. “I can’t imagine what kind of fun—and trouble—you must have gotten into as a kid with the Strip as your playground.”
Reynan forced a slight smile, though his expression was tense, almost pained. “I didn’t always live here.”
The tone of his voice, while not entirely standoffish, definitely seemed to shut down any further line of inquiry.
All these hints and scraps of information had me wondering about his childhood. It couldn’t have been traditional, given who his father was, and I startled myself with the realization that I actually wanted to know more about it—more about him.
Somehow, despite all my best attempts to stay detached, I’d started to care just a little bit about him. Even that little bit scared me, because I knew how easy it was for something like that to grow into more.

Intrigued yet? Add it to your Goodreads TBR "
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23570234-finding-north">here:








Growing up, Allyson was always the girl with a big imagination and even bigger dreams. A California girl by birth, she currently lives in Boston while attending Emerson College. She has a slight addiction to Stabucks, eyeliner, and chocolate—and, of course, books.

You can find Allyson in the following places:
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Monday, December 8, 2014

THE BACHELOR

I received a copy of THE BACHELOR by Stephanie Reed from Kregel Publications.  It is the second book in the Plain City Peace series.  I was excited to receive this, for I love stories about the Amish lifestyle.  I read them and then share them with my mother, who is also “in love” with the Amish.  There is a small Amish community near my home, and one day I want to visit them to ask if these fictional novels are realistic.

Back to THE BACHELOR… This is a fun and uplifting story about Betsie Troyer.  She is happy in her Amish lifestyle, but then she starts to be pulled back into the Englisher world.  The comparisons between her simple lifestyle as an Amish woman versus the more turbulent English world were interesting to read.  I enjoyed his this story takes place in the 1970s, which is a refreshing turn of pace from other Amish novels.

There are others in the story besides Betsie, including Michael and Charley.  Each of Stephanie Reed’s characters are not only realistic, but also endearing.  Even the “bad guys” have redeeming qualities.  Okay, there really aren’t any “bad guys,” but you understand what I mean. 


I did not get to read the first novel before THE BACHELOR, but you don’t need to have to understand this installment.  I will now seek out that first book and I will keep watch for more books by Stephanie Reed.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The December People Winter Celebration


Winter wizards are also known as "dark" wizards, so most people consider them to be "the bad guys." You might recognize some depictions of them here:

  

So yeah, I'll admit some of them are pretty nasty. If you're a winter wizard, there is a pretty good chance that you're evil. If not evil, then you are at least misunderstood. People don't get you, and a lot of people just plain don't like you. And the feeling is mutual. There are a lot of days when you'd rather spend time with your cat...or lizard, or snake, or frog...than the other humans.

But dark wizards aren't necessarily bad. They may face many misfortunes in life, but they're tough enough to handle just about anything. They're also brave--not afraid walk into the darkness and face the monsters. And, though they might have trouble forming relationships, when they do, they are fiercely loyal and can love very deeply.

This winter, get in touch with your dark side and show your true colors. It's okay. Look, I'll do it too...

#darkwizardpride


About the author:

Sharon Bayliss is the author of the dark wizard family drama, The December People Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.






Semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review Awards and #1 category bestseller in coming of age fantasy.

About Destruction:

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything.

Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.





About Watch Me Burn:

David Vandergraff lost his home, his job, and contact with his oldest son, but remains determined to be a good husband and father despite being a dark winter wizard.

His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl--who happens to be a summer witch--begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic's command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger. But when she uncovers some disturbing evidence close to home, she begins an investigation of her own.

David and Emmy quickly learn that the mystery is not only about a missing girl they barely know, but a deeply personal story that impacts everyone they care about. As their world crumbles, they fear the warning may be true—never mess with summer wizards, because the good guys always win.



Enter to win!! Get a paperback of your choice of Destruction OR Watch Me Burn. International entries welcome. Also join The December People Winter Celebration for more giveaways!!


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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Walking Shadow





When you have a connection to the Darkworld, nowhere is truly safe.

Ashlyn has found a new home in Blackstone, but when a spate of grave robberies across the country spark fears that someone is practicing illegal sorcery, she comes under the radar of the Venantium, the protectors of the Barrier between her world and the Darkworld, who are suspicious of any sorcerer unaware of their origins.

The trouble is, what Ash does know might just get her killed.

Sufferers of the dangerous condition known as the vampire’s curse are being brutally killed, and the latest victim is Leo’s guardian, the ex-head of the Venantium. Ash determines to help Leo find out what’s really going on, but it isn’t long before events are spiralling out of control. The dead are rising from their graves, and the barriers around Blackstone are threatened by a demon which looks exactly like Ash herself…


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And here's more information on the first in the series, Darkness Watching  (Darkworld #1)

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone  - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...
 

Reviews

“In the vein of Buffy and Supernatural, DARKNESS WATCHING found that perfect balance between the freaky and the fun.” - YA author Jen Estes

"Demons, Sorcerers, evil, and secrets. Could you ask for a better supernatural suspense set-up?...It's full of suspense, danger, evil and dark humor. The plot is original, and completely gripping. From the first page, this book had me hooked." - Rose at 
Desert Rose Reviews

"A suspenseful first part to an intriguing new fantasy series." - 
Sharon Stevenson, supernatural author

“The story is extremely well-written with effortless, flowing prose, and the original magic-user mythology and Darkworld creatures are very entertaining. The author took what might have been over-done premise and twisted it into something very fresh and exciting.” - Lexa Cain, author of Soul Cutter

"This is a wildly different story than any I have read about demons...I loved it!" - Kathy at 
Bookmarks, Spoilers, and Happily-Ever-Afters


https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gifFear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella is also available now!

This is a standalone novella, intended as a prequel to the Darkworld series. As it takes place one year before the events of Darkness Watching, it doesn’t contain any spoilers (although it does hint at things which will come into play later in the series).

Freakish powers and staring demon eyes aren’t part of Claudia’s plans for the future – and neither is ending up stuck at the gloomy, isolated University of Blackstone. But bad life decisions are the least of her problems, when a split-second decision to help out another magic-user puts her in the crossfire of both the shadow-beasts and the creepy organisation which hunt them down.

Claudia’s never had to worry about making the right choice before, but every decision matters when you have a Darkworld connection. Soon, she’s going to have to make a choice: turn her back on the crazy and try to live a normal life, or take the monsters down.

But in a world where everyone seems to have secrets, can she really trust her fellow magic-users – or even herself?




Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing bizarre, fantastical stories. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also entertained her creative writing group and baffled her tutors by submitting strange fantasy tales featuring dragons and supernatural monsters to workshops. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, Emma refuses to settle down and be normal. When not embarking on wild excursions, she edits and proofreads novels for various publishing houses and reads an insane number of books. At the age of 21, she signed a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills Press for the first book in her creepy urban fantasy Darkworld series. DARKNESS WATCHING was published in October 2013, the first in a five-book series.
Emma’s books tend to contain monsters, magic, and wildly inappropriate humour.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Heretic

I received a copy of THE HERETIC by Henry Vyner-Brooks from Lion Fiction via Kregel.  I was beyond excited to obtain a copy of this book.  It is quite epic, not only in length but in what I like to think of as “bonus content.”  The bonus content includes maps and a character list.  I love those in books, because some like this one are long and you might get confused keeping track of people and places.  The story takes place in 1536 – I adore history – during the reformation of the church.  I have read other novels that involve this time period, but they are usually focused upon romance or mystery.  These aspects are still touched upon, but I enjoyed how religion is the main focus. 
 
The historical aspects then go on to encompass the essence of the 1530’s.  You feel as if you are living then, and you learn about things you might not have heard before.  Oftentimes I would step away from the story to look something up on the Internet for further learning. 
 
I also loved how this book involves Henry VIII.  I have read numerous novels and biographies on him, and this was a chance for me to see a different side. 

Watch me Burn - Reveal

I am thrilled to take part in the cover and trailer reveal for Book 2 in The December People Series, Watch Me Burn!

So without further ado...




A note from the author:

Thank you to artist Michelle Johnson and the whole team at Curiosity Quills Press for creating a cover I love! 

If you haven't guessed it by now, you'll see a butterfly on the cover of every book in The December People Series. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation, hope, freedom, and generally creepy crawlies turning into beautiful things. And also...look how pretty! ;)

Instead of the broken glass from Destruction, this butterfly is surrounded by fire, and it's probably obvious why from the title. Watch Me Burn is the summer book in the series. All the books center around my winter wizard family, but each book takes us deeper into a different season. Summer wizards are the "light" wizards, but light also means HEAT and FIRE.


More about Watch Me Burn:

David Vandergraff lost his home, his job, and contact with his oldest son, but remains determined to be a good husband and father despite being a dark winter wizard.

His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl--who happens to be a summer witch--begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic's command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger. But when she uncovers some disturbing evidence close to home, she begins an investigation of her own.

David and Emmy quickly learn that the mystery is not only about a missing girl they barely know, but a deeply personal story that impacts everyone they care about. As their world crumbles, they fear the warning may be true—never mess with summer wizards, because the good guys always win.




If you're new to The December People Series, start with Destruction--99 cents for a limited time!


Enter to win!! Get a paperback of your choice of Destruction OR Watch Me Burn. International entries welcome. Also join The December People Winter Celebration for more giveaways!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Darkness Watching - Review

I received a copy of DARKNESS WATCHING by Emma Adams.  It is a fantasy published by Curiosity Quills, and one I greatly enjoyed.  I started reading it late one night, expecting to go to bed after a chapter or two, but ended up reading much later.  “Chilling” is an excellent word to describe it.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bonus Scene & Giveaway for ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW

HOW FAR INTO THE HOLLOW WILL YOU GO?

I love everything that comes with being published – the book signings, the blog interviews, the swag…  I’ve never been so excited about buying a bookmark before.  I also love hearing from the readers of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, and a few people asked me how Leon got the handgun.  I would hate to disappoint the fans, so I wrote a bonus scene where Leon meets the weapon.  You can access it here: http://www.jordanelizabethmierek.com/novels.html
There’s more than just a bonus scene on the website.  Check out contests, book signings, future books, and feel free to drop me a line.  Your suggestion might be the next bonus scene!  Signed copies of my books are available by request.  They make great holiday gifts.  Yes, I’m winking at you. 


Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?


Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, is the author of young adult fantasy ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW and contributing author for GEARS OF BRASS, both available from Curiosity Quills Press.  Her next books, TREASURE DARKLY and BORN OF TREASURE, arrive in 2015.  She is represented by Belcastro Agency. 

###

No new bonus scene would be complete with a contest.  Win this chilling keychain and ask yourself how deep into the hollow you will go. 



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Your Life Still Counts

I received a copy of YOUR LIFE STILL COUNTS: HOW GOD USES YOUR PAST TO CREATE A BEAUTIFUL FUTURE by Tracie Miles from Bethany House.  As always is the case when I receive a book from Bethany House, it was top quality. 

The book is what I would call “self-help.”  I enjoy those types of books, as they encourage me to think about my life and the deeds of the people around me.  I urge friends to talk to me about their lives, and if I can relate any part of a book I’ve read to them, I am quick to contribute advice.  Sometimes this advice is unwarranted – no, they never show anger – but I like to think that it does help. 

YOUR LIFE STILL COUNTS escorts you on a journey where the author proves you can still be loved no matter your past.  Real world examples mingle with Biblical quotes.  Tracie Miles uses real life examples and examples from other women.  This is not just a “female” book although that is the main focus; men will find enlightenment as well.


I recommend this book to those who feel haunted by their past or for anyone hoping to help someone who feels that way.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Love Without End

I received a copy of LOVE WITHOUT END by Robin Lee Hatcher from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy Thomas Nelson books.  They are always top quality, with intriguing adventures, heart stopping romance, and realistic characters. 

This book involves Kimberly Welch and Chet Leonard.  Kimberly’s husband is deceased and Chet’s son is dead.  His wife then abandoned him and their two other sons.  Both Kimberly and Chet feel lost, hopeless, and down on love.  They feel lost.  Anyone should be able to relate to that, whether it is because of lost love or another situation.  Robin Lee Hatcher shows that life can go up.  The author portrays their emotions well and creates a touching love story that will, at times, bring tears to your eyes.  Both Kimberly’s family (which includes her and a teenage daughter) and Leonard’s come together when an elderly woman arrives at King’s Meadow, a ranch. 


Robin Lee Hatcher is definitely an author to watch.  I look forward to reading more of her works.  LOVE WITHOUT END is a Kings Meadow Romance, the first installment in the series.  I highly recommend it.  It makes an excellent holiday gift, either to a loved one or for yourself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Time of Jesus

I received a copy of LOOK INSIDE: THE TIME OF JESUS, with text by Lois Rock, from Lion Children’s via Kregel.  This is known as “a lift-the-flap discovery book.”

It is another book I have happily passed on to my young cousins.  The rate this with a definite five stars.  Not only are the illustrations, done by Lorenzo Orlandi, colorful and engaging, but the book is interactive.  It isn’t the type a child can doze through.  Rather, it is a book that will captivate a child night after night. 

Each page features a different location, with an accompanying blurb explaining the significance of that location, such as the stable in Bethlehem (the first location in the book).  Questions are posed on the pages to keep the reader thinking, but there are also sentences that describe what is going on, such as “townspeople are woken by the clatter of passers-by” (page 1).  The pages contain flaps that can be lifted to show more pictures underneath. 


If I were reading this with a child, I would take turns with the child telling stories about each of the people featured on the pages.  I highly recommend this to families.  It will make a great addition to any library.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

IF YOU FOLLOW ME

I received a copy of IF YOU FOLLOW ME by Pam Rhodes from Lion Fiction via Kregel.  It is Book Three of the Dunbridge Chronicles.  This is a book that will quickly catch your interest and keep you reading so you can discover what happens next. 

As I understand it, this will be the final installment in the Chronicles.  I enjoyed the other books, and even though this was no exception, it did have a bittersweet feel to it.  The characters are endearing, so you want to continue knowing what becomes of them.  There is, of course, imagination for that.

In this, the third book, Neil and Clare become engaged.  For those new to the series, Neil is a priest.  To liven things up, Clare’s ex and father of her son jumps back into Clare’s world hoping to pick back up in her life.  No way – she has moved on to Neil! 


I understand that a few people did not like this as a work of Christian fiction for various reasons, including the use of a “bad” word, but I love the moral teachings behind the story.  “Always be a good person” shone through to me and I recommend this book to others.

Monday, November 10, 2014

GEARS OF BRASS

Gears of brass giveaway
A world like ours, but filled with gears of brass, where the beating heart is fueled by steam and the simplest creation is a complex clockwork device. Within this tome, you’ll find steampunk fairy tale re-tellings, as well as original stories that will send your gears turning. Welcome to the steampunk realm, with eleven authors guiding your path.

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Gears of Brass is a steampunk anthology published through Curiosity Quills. Within the pages, you’ll come across clockwork inventions and steampunk-ified fairy tale retellings. Eleven authors will guide you through worlds filled with airships, top hats, and corsets.

TEASERS (each teaser is from a different tale in the anthology)  

“Stealing a few steps backward, I reached for him and brushed my fingertips along his cheek. Static energy crept across my palm. It glowed blue and pulled like taffy, sticking to my fingertips, then snapping back to his skin. My hand jerked back so hard I hit myself in the chest. My eyes traipsed down his neck, his shoulders, finally stopping at his midsection. It was almost as though I could see inside him. “  

“The guards struggled forward, but failed to move even an inch. Everyone was frozen in place, except the uninvited guest. The man floated toward Lord and Lady Miller. “You see, my lord, your wife made a deal with me that cannot be broken. Your daughter is mine.”  

“I swiped my hand across my nose, wishing I could smell the green of the trees. Eyes burning, I swallowed hard, feeling the incision in my throat where they’d cut out my sinus enhancer. I would never be able to smell my exotic perfumes again.”  

“Anthie watched the lissom liquid slip inside the carrying tube. I could see her inhaling the smell of the lubricating oil. So could Dr. Holmgren. From time to time he looked across at us through his reinforced goggles. They gave him the appearance of a baby owl, which was at odds with his general nastiness. I knew he was taking everything in. And I knew he had a special eye on Anthie.”

“In a hidden room deep inside the base of the great clock there was a click, a whir of gears, a valve opened, and the key chamber was flooded with air. Several minutes later, Bella awoke. The girl coughed, choked then screamed as blood began to once again flow through her veins: the first time in a millennium.”  

“Something growled near to her right. The hairs along Redyn’s arms stood up and she held her breath. The sound came again, deep, guttural. Redyn turned her head, her lips parted, her gaze scanning the forest. They’d told her not to wander far from the cottage, but they couldn’t have expected her to play with that hideous excuse for a doll near everyone else. A wolf crept out of the shadows, his gray fur standing on end like hers.”  

“Three years ago, your father ruined my life. He terminated my family’s reputation.” “Um…” Amethyst wished she could back up further. Wind pushed at her top hat, so she shoved it up higher to straighten it. “I don’t understand.” “Now, I’ll ruin his life.”  

BUY Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo

Add to Goodreads here Learn more about the authors behind Gears of Brass over at Curiosity Quills Press   Don’t forget to enter the mega giveaway below! a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Dream of Home

I received a copy of A DREAM OF HOME by Amy Clipston from Zondervan via BookSneeze.  It is the third installment in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series of Amish fiction.  I requested this book as I enjoy reading Amish fiction and I love sharing such stories with my mother, who is an even greater fanatic than I am.  We visit Lancaster County in Pennsylvania once a year.

A DREAM OF HOME left me with mixed feelings.  In regards to the romance, it was sweet and left me with a smile.  Saul, an Amish man, has been hurt by his wife’s abandonment, and Madeleine, his new English neighbor, is wounded from her fiancĂ©’s death.  They are drawn to each other, a bond made stronger by Saul’s daughter, but they fear their different worlds will keep them apart.  I couldn’t wait to see what happened with their romance. 

On the other hand, some parts seemed contrived.  I never had a strong sense of what Saul looked like, apart from a moment when he’s updating her cabinets and she marvels at his strength. 


For those who have read others in the series (I have read and enjoyed the first book), they will enjoy seeing past characters return.  

Escape from Witchwood Hollow


How far into the hollow would you go?


After losing her parents in a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria escapes New York City to Arnn—a farming town with more legends than residents, and a history of witchcraft and secrets best left buried.

Everyone in Arnn knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope when she should be afraid, and a past of missing children and broken promises.  To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness. How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?”

ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW is my first novel.  This young adult fantasy, published through Curiosity Quills Press, is now available for purchase. 

Yes, this is my very first novel now out in print.  You have no idea how exciting this is for me!  Okay, if you're also a published author, than you have an inkling... ;-)





I'm offering up a free eArc of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW.  To enter for your chance to win a copy of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, you will need to share the cover.  This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper to record it.  It will give you more chances to win.  There are other ways to enter.  You’ll have to take a look to see what those are!  The drawing for the winner will be held on November 16.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Guess Who: Noah's Boat

I received a copy of GUESS WHO NOAH’S BOAT from Kregel.  It is written by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek.  It is, in one word, adorable.  The pictures are bright and the characters, always smiling and colorful, remind me of stuffed animals.  The book itself is hard and cardboard-like, so it is perfect for young hands.  The spreads include flip-up areas that reveal more exciting pictures.  The theme of the book involves “guessing” who is hiding behind bushes, crates, and so on. 

I loved how easy the flip sections were to find.  I recall books from my childhood when I had to struggle to locate what flipped, and even then I missed some.  Yes, it was thrilling to discover them later, but it felt refreshing to find them the first time through.

I can see adults buying toys to match the animals in the story.  The pages contain poem verse, so as children grow older, they can recite back the poems.


The message of the book, Noah’s Ark, is strong.  This is an excellent way to introduce young minds to the Bible.  I highly recommend this.  I will be passing it on to a friend for her infant.  This is definitely a winner.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goals


It might be a bit early for enacting New Year’s resolutions, but is it ever too early to plan?  I decided on a strict set of goals for 2015 in regards my profession as a writer. 

 

Professional Development

 

Provide developmental support for Curiosity Quills authors and focus on my own talent development.

Objective 1: Expand writing resource pool and support development of fellow authors by learning a new genre with a focus on young adult.

• I will score three stars or higher on average ratings.

• I will create a short story on the newly learned genre of young adult. 

• I will submit the short story to an anthology.

• I will assist fellow writers with understanding the new genre.

• I will communicate regularly with my agent, including monthly check-in meetings to ensure I’m on the right track.

• Draft team-writing schedule with a critique partner to create a story in the new genre.

Objective 2: Continue to strengthen and develop writing skills.

• Review best practices for writing through Internet sites, such as critiquecircle.com.

• Enhance the skill of influence to create powerful paragraphs.

• Utilize critique partners for constructive feedback.

• Study and practice through exercises, projects, and online classes to improve my skills.

• Encourage fellow authors, in particular members of the Utica Writers Club.

Objective 3: Produce new Creative Writing Workshops to support the community and enhance my teaching skills.

• Polish “How to Write a Query Letter.”

• Polish “How to Write a Synopsis.”

• Polish “Foreshadowing.”

• Polish “Editing Skills.”

• Polish “Engaging the Senses.”

• Polish “How to Land a Literary Agent.”

• Polish “How to Gain a Publisher.”

• Use feedback to revamp current workshops.

• Co-facilitate workshops with fellow authors.

 

Enhance Business Mindset

 

Transform the Utica Writers Club with better delivery skills and materials.

Objective 1: Support the implementation of internal member workflows.

• Revamp current bylaws.

• Create bylaws for new officer positions.

• Work with local authors to create a stronger network.

• Keep the website updated.  New material must be added within one week.

• Enhance advertising skills.

• Host at least one bestselling author per year.

 

Maintain the Business

 

Continue to connect with readers and fellow writers through the use of social media.

Objective 1: Update my blog.

• Post a personal message once a week.

• Blog about book for Bethany House, Kregel, etc.

• Host cover reveals and blog tours for fellow authors.

• Host contests.

• Review books for fellow authors.

• Participate in blog hops.

Objective 2: Update Facebook author page.

• Host contests.

• Post three times a week.

Objective 3: Update Twitter author page.

• Utilize hashtags.

• Post three times a week.

Objective 4: Update Google+

• Post at least 3 times a week.

Objective 5: Update Pinterest.

• Add a photo album for each published book.

• Add a picture to each album at least once a week.

Objective 6: Update website.

• Keep information up-to-date.

• Act upon constructive feedback.

• Create a contest for each book.

 

Assimilation

 

Assimilate into Curiosity Quills Press.

Objective 1: Build a strong professional relationship with Curiosity Quills Press.

• Communicate regularly with the Curiosity Quills team whenever I have questions, comments, or concerns.

• Organize joint book signings.

• Attend conferences.

• Offer support to fellow authors as needed.

Objective 2: Enhance my relationship with my literary agent.

• Discuss anthology and magazine opportunities.

• Discuss future novels.

Objective 3: Compile a new anthology.

• Work with readers and authors to see what anthology they would like.

 

Personal Development

 

Objective 1: Write two new novels in 2015.

• Write a new story based on a new idea.

• Write a new installment in the Treasure Chronicles series.

Objective 2: Publish short stories in anthologies.

• Continue to submit to Horrified Press anthologies.

Objective 3: Broaden my knowledge of writing through volunteer options.

Objective 4: Establish a strong network among my readers and peers.