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


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.">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 "">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:">Website

Monday, December 8, 2014


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...


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...


“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'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