Monday, October 30, 2017

The Forest

The Forest is a middle-grade/young adult fantasy about a bullied high school boy who encounters a life-changing mystery inside of a magical forest. In the sequel to her middle-grade fantasy The Gold, Krista Wagner fast-forwards seven years to show us what has become of Shane Smith, the fifth-grade bully from The Gold. Tired of his dad's abuse and his teacher's mistreatment, Shane takes a walk inside of a forest. Little does he know that the forest contains mysteries that will forever change things for him. Will he be ready to face the sudden shift in his world?

When abused Shane escapes to the forest, he encounters a miraculous mystery. 

“He didn't like not understanding things; it made him feel stupid, and it only confirmed his dad's verdict that he would never amount to anything worthwhile. Huffing out of frustration, he moved forward until the edge of his shoe touched the brink of the forest. He was going to show his dad that he was somebody.”

Reader Reviews: 
The Forest is well crafted, and passionately told story about Shane, and the many issues he faces growing up. The attention to detail weaves a rich tapestry that embraces the reader, taking us from the harsh reality of abusive adults to the mystical, alluring forest with ease. The issues Shane faces will be familiar to many youth, and I'm sure they will connect with this well written story. It will be well-received by young adults across the globe.--Susan Day

In this YA Fantasy novel, The Forest, Krista Wagner entertains, informs, and encourages her readers once again! This story, a sequel to her previous work, The Gold, follows seventeen year old Shane Smith into a tumultuous life of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father. Shane’s authentic anxiety and hopelessness is immediately transferred to the reader, as well as the peace, joy, healing, and renewal that he finds in the forest. Wagner’s fearless ability to tackle extremely heavy subjects with skillful and open dialogue is a hallmark of her writing. This is a beautifully written book that will fill the reader with a confident hope. Turn the page. “The Forest” awaits!!--Karen Wiser

The Backstory:
In my MG fantasy The Gold, ten-year old Amanda Greene is constantly teased by her classmate. Shane the bully. I thought it would be interesting to see what becomes of him and if he ever learns from the choices he makes.

About the Author: 
Krista Wagner is a 70's product best known for her spiritual suspense and fictional realism. In addition to being a recipient of the Reader's Favorite 5-star seal, she has been praised by award-winning screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy for her writing skill and strong plotting. Wagner holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is an English associate instructor with an indispensable faith in Christ.

Damsels of Distress

16 authors. 1 anthology. Just $1.

Forget helpless princesses and ingenues with stars in their eyes. CHBB Publishing, the leader in small press fiction, brings you an anthology that is all about the strong women who bring the world to its knees. Rulers, villains, heroes: women of all walks of life bringing or fighting horrors unimaginable. Compiled and edited by award-winning and bestselling author Lily Luchesi.
Featuring these 16 authors:
Kathy-Lynn Cross
USA Today bestselling author Deliaria Davis
Sara Dobie Bauer
Poetry from A. Giacomi
SK Gregory
Mirren Hogan
Lily Luchesi
Poetry from Xtina Marie
P. Mattern
SL Perrine
Tianna Scott
TL Travis
EM Whittaker
Jay Michael Wright II
Simone Young
A novella from USA Today bestselling author SJ Davis

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ALONE by SM Ford

Who wouldn’t want to be the live in housekeeper for an author?  To me, authors are like movie stars.

Okay, moving on, haha.  This is a clean murder mystery, and I liked that.  Sometimes murder novels are too gory, too gruesome.  I can’t sleep while I listen for someone to break into the house and murder us all.  This book flows much better than that, and it didn’t give me any nightmares.  Cecelia is a strong female character you will want to look up to and I loved the sweet romance.  This is a mystery with sturdy development, and one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Plain Leaving

I received a copy of A PLAIN LEAVING by Leslie Gould from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This is the first book in the series “Sisters of Lancaster County.”

I love Amish books and couldn’t wait to dive into this one as soon as it arrived in the mail.  I was doubly excited because it takes place in Lancaster County and I’ve been there often on vacation.   I’d read Leslie Gould before, too, so I knew I would be in for a treat.  She is an excellent storyteller.  I admit that I don’t always picture her settings, but her characters are so real.

This was an awesome Amish book.  My favorite part is that it also involves the story of a Revolutionary War ancestor.  I am a huge history buff when it comes to the Revolutionary War because I used to volunteer at Fort Stanwix.  I just swallow up anything historical.  I actually enjoyed Ruby’s story more than Jessica’s. 

My only complaint for the book is that, like with all books I’ve read by Leslie Gould so far, I had trouble picturing the setting and characters.

I recommend this to fans of Amish and historical fiction.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

CATSKIN by Artemis Grey

This is an awesome fairytale.  It isn’t a normal fairytale at all, but one that takes place in Alaska and is beautifully written.  I was cheering for both Cat and Ansel.  I loved reading about how they come together and grow.  I was so sad when the book ended just because it meant the story was over!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


I received a copy of THE DISHONORABLE MISS DELANCEY by Carolyn Miller from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  This is the third installment in the “Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace” series.

This series has caused me to fall in love with Carolyn Miller’s writing.  Her prose is poetic and touching.  You become immersed in the setting and you truly care about the characters. 

Of all the books, this one has become my favorite.  I felt a greater connection to Clara than to the previous heroines.  Her heart is broken, and she doesn’t want to be surrounded by fake friends. 

Other than my love and sympathy for Clara, and my adoration of romantic stories, I enjoyed the historical aspects of this.  We have come such a long way, especially in terms of women’s rights.

Definitely read this book, especially if you are already an established fan of the series.

Monday, October 23, 2017

HANGING WITH MY PEEPS by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

This book is adorable!  From the cover to the writing, it had me hooked.  It felt so real.  I read a lot of YA, but this book really stood out to me in how real Sami felt.  I could have been talking to a real-life teenager.  If you’re looking for a fun book, check this one out. 

There’s a kid on my holiday list I’ll be getting this for!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Sacred Slow

I received a copy of THE SACRED SLOW: A HOLY DEPARTURE FROM FAST FAITH by Alicia Britt Chole from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. 

At first this book appeared daunting.  It is very thick!  Most “self-help” books I read are thinner, and I can sit down for a read-through in just a few sittings.  I worried that I might lose interest with this.  That turned out not to be the case, as the chapters are broken up into easy-to-read sections.  I found Alicia Chole’s writing to be poetric and nurturing.  She reminded me of a patient Sunday School teacher.

What spoke to me the most is really the book’s main theme.  You don’t need to rush your relationship with God.  You don’t need to rush anything.  Faster doesn’t always equal better.

Take the time to read this book.  It will reward you.

Friday, October 20, 2017


There are some things I am partial to in a story: Faeries, dark magic, and a strong female lead.  EDENHART’S RIVALRY had all three, so I was instantly hooked.  Aurora’s growth is what stands out the most in this book.  She absolutely becomes the tough female protagonist you want to root for.

This brought me back to the epic fantasies I adored in high school.  If you’re look for a book to get lost in, check this one out.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HALFBREEDS by Elizabeth Russell

This book is creepy good.  The writing is lyrical, almost poetic.  It paints a Gothic image that draws you in and sticks with you.

I felt for the Halfbreeds.  Even if this isn’t exactly our society, we can each find something in one of the children to relate to.  (Also, as a mother, I kept imagining if my son had to go through this and shuddering.)

Really what sets this book out from the rest is the writing style.  It is just so smooth and lyrical.  I found I couldn’t stop reading it.  It feels like a fairy tale…a dark, creepy fairy tale that will keep you up at night thinking.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

JUNCTION: 2020 THE PORTAL by Carol Riggs

Okay, so this book is pure awesome.  I think one of my favorite things is that is starts off a few years in the future, rather than 50 or so, as most “future” books I’ve read do.  Anyway, I found this wholly unique.  Yes, Mari is transported to another land, but that doesn’t mean this is like any other book you’ve read.  The imagination is evident and you can tell Carol Riggs put a lot of effort into polishing this.  Although it is young adult, this can appeal to anyone of any age.  

Friday, October 13, 2017


I received a copy of ADORED: 365 DEVOTIONS FOR YOUNG WOMEN by Lindsay A. Franklin from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

This book is beautiful and reminded me of the cover of a classic.  I could picture a young woman in the Victorian era sitting beneath the shade of a tree enjoying the messages disclosed.  Of course, this book faces modern topics, not just things girls faced back then. 

Each page is a different message.  These are thought-provoking passages  that don’t just provide black-and-white rules, but are intended to make girls really think.  I like the passage in particular about leggings, and whether it is appropriate to wear them.  The passage stresses that we shouldn’t reduce ourselves to only having worth in sexual attractiveness.  I took that to mean not to wear them if that’s the only reason you’re wearing them.  Wear them because they are comfortable – and make sure they look okay and are not so tight they are see-through!

This book isn’t just for young women.  At almost 30, I too could find meaning in the words.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THE COMING FUTURE by Turner and Torres

Okay, in one word: Exciting.  You can tell the authors took a lot of time to think out the plot and setting.  Although this is a fantasy world, the characters, especially Aalok, is relatable and real.  Really, that’s what stands out the most.  The authors poured their hearts and souls into making this book the best it could be.

I recommend this to teens and adults, and it is clean enough for middle grade readers.  

Monday, October 9, 2017


This is the first book in the “Aeturnus Machine” series.

Okay, so you might not know this about me, but I am OBSESSED with steampunk!  I read a lot of steampunk novels, and I’ve noticed that sometimes they are getting stale.  It was great to read one as refreshing as this. 

Everything about this book was cool.  I loved the idea of the house.  Everything about this book is imaginative!  I read it in just two sittings.  It was addictive and I can’t wait for book 2.  Really, my favorite part about this novel (YA by the way), is the eerie feeling that follows you throughout the chapters.  Even though it isn’t technically a Halloween story, it is perfect for this season.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

SIX PACK by BW Morris

This is a fun young adult dystopian.  Unlike the normal dystopian, this one has the added bonus of showing how six young people become super heroes.  It would make a great comic book!

I haven’t often read about super heroes, other than in comics, so it was fun to check this out in a book format.  Can this be a TV show, please?

Note: Something that hadn’t crossed my mind until I looked over other reviews was that the evil guys should have super powers too.  That would be awesome for book two!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Back to Yesterday


This was a really interesting and unique book!  I love books where past meets present, and this definitely had that, as well as a clean romance and lots of suspense.  The main focus is the classic good versus evil, but this doesn’t feel like any old retelling.

What a lovely book!  I recommend it.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

THE MARKED by Emerald Barnes

This is a fun young adult novel about vampires, but it isn’t your average vampire love story you see so much of these days.  There is some romance, but I found that the focus was on the thrilling world.  Barnes has created something fresh and new in our own Smoky Mountains.  The plot is fast and the characters are relatable. 

I loved the academy idea.  Growing up, I always wanted to attend something like that, especially with the paranormal twist!

The story is clean, so you don’t have to feel guilty about giving it to a teenage or middle grade reader.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Stealing Liberty

STEALING LIBERTY by Jennifer Froelich

Are you looking for a wild teen adventure that’s clean?  Are you hoping for an original young adult novel that isn’t just about a romance between vampires and werewolves?  (Not that vampires and werewolves are bad, but sometimes you need a break from the norm)

Grab a copy of STEALING LIBERTY and be prepared to not put it down until you’re done reading!  What stood out to me the most was how Harry Potter is forbidden.  I know so many people who talk about Harry Potter on a daily basis.  I was even looking into themes for my son’s birthday and saw one about Harry Potter.

The writing is solid.  Typos didn’t distract from the story, as I’ve seen in a few books I’ve read lately.  The story is told from varying viewpoints, which I LOVE.  This is an excellent dystopian novel appropriate for ages 12 and up.  I’m not sure younger kids would appreciate the dystopian setting.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

INDELIBLE by Kadee Carder

Okay, for one thing, I thought the title was INEDIBLE up until the final chapter.  Haha, my bad.

So anyway, I was supposed to read a few books first, but I could wait to find out what happened to Saylor, so I dove right in and finished this in two days.  I was happy that the action picks right up.  It always irritates me when a second or third book takes place years later and you feel as if you’ve missed a ton.  Saylor is still a strong role model perfect for teen girls.

5 stars!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Life-Changing Miracles

I received a copy of LIFE-CHANGING MIRACLES: REAL-LIFE STORIES OF UNFORGETTABLE ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD compiled by James Start Bell from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Books like this are beautiful.  They open your eyes and leave you in awe.  The book includes 40 true stories.  They are short, just a few pages each, so you can easily sit down when you have time to read one – or in my case, fly through them all.  I found something in each story to connect with.  At the end, you will be smiling, and left with a beautiful sense of hope.  That hope is much needed in today’s sad, dark world.

This makes an excellent holiday gift for that special someone in your life who needs to hear about miracles, or someone like me who enjoys reading true stories about miracles.

Monday, October 2, 2017


I received a copy of WHEN DID EVERYBODY ELSE GET SO OLD?: INDIGNITIES, COMPROMISES, AND THE UNEXPECTED GRACE OF MIDLIFE by Jennifer Grant from Herald Press in exchange for an honest review. 

I am a few years away from middle age, but I am an eclectic reader and enjoy religious novels.  I sat down with this book thinking to spend a half-hour on a few chapters…and I breezed right through it.  Jennifer Grant’s writing is catchy and heart-felt.  She isn’t afraid to show her fault and she revels in life’s joys.  That reveling is contagious!

I recommend this book and will be sharing it with my middle-aged friends and family members.  This would make a great gift for the upcoming holidays.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


I received a copy of IF WE MAKE IT HOME: A NOVEL OF FAITH AND SURVIVAL IN THE OREGON WILDERNESS by Christina Suzann Nelson from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautiful book showing internal strife and friendship.  The characters grow.  You get to feel their struggles. 

I liked how the chapters switched between characters.  It helped me to get to know each character a little more and I felt more immersed in the story.  I found it interesting that the women are in their 40s.  Granted, I usually read young adult novels, but it was cool to read about a different demographic.  Now that I have a son, I found myself relating more to them than to the teens in other books I’ve read lately.