Category Archives: Book Reviews

Teen Titans and Book Reviews

A couple days ago I was watching Teen Titans Go with my kids. In this particular episode Raven (one of the characters who is usually portrayed as intelligent and dark) introduces the rest of the Titans to reading. They fall in love with reading and want more. So they ask her what they should do next. She says they should start a book club and discuss their books. So they start a club and discuss their books and how much they loved their books.

A couple minutes into the meeting Raven says it’s  not enough to share how much they like their books. They need to go deeper. How? they ask. She starts with her own book by saying the premise of the book was unbelievable and goes on for a minute breaking her book down into tiny increments, dissecting each scene and word.

The Titans stare at her in horror. “You just took the fun out of reading!” they shout.

And that’s what I found interesting. I don’t think books were meant to be taken apart and each little section scrutinized and reviewed. Books are meant to be read as a whole. Enjoyed. Read and understood in their full context.

Sometimes I can’t articulate why I liked or didn’t like a book. I just know I liked it and it made me think. Or I didn’t like it because it left a bad feeling behind. Perhaps that is one reason I don’t like writing reviews (for the most part). Because I feel like I need to take the book apart and say why I did or didn’t like the book. Bleh.

I’ve seen reviews where the book is scrutinized down to its very words. I’ve even known people who read with a pad and pen next to them so they can take notes. I don’t think fiction was meant to be read like this. How do you get into the story when you’re constantly taking notes? Perhaps that’s just me.

The episode ends when the Titans read a mystical book that lets loose evil magic that feeds off their imagination. In order to stop the book, they start reviewing the book, talking about its premise and using big words. In essence, they are shutting off their imagination so they can trap the magic back inside the book.

Ironic, isn’t it?

For those who are curious, the episode is called Books.

 

Fairy Tale Collection Writing Contest and Cover Reveal

Do you love fairy tales? Ever wanted to try your hand at writing one? Here is a great opportunity to get creative and come up with your own retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.

Rooglewood Press is holding their second fairy tale novella collection contest and I am happy to be part of their cover reveal:

Five Enchanted Roses

Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their second fairy tale novella contest—

Five Enchanted Roses

a collection of “Beauty and the Beast” stories

The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Beauty and the Beast,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!

Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Enchanted Roses collection, which will be packaged up with the gorgeous cover you see displayed here. Perhaps your name will be one of the five displayed on this cover?

All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.

Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers, is available for pre-order now and will be released on June 14. Do grab yourself a copy and see what these talented writers have done with the timeless “Cinderella” tale!

 

Cover Illustration Credit:

This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website: www.forestgirl.ru

Blog Hop: The Seahorse Legacy

The Seahorse Legacy

Hi everyone! Today I have the pleasure of participating in The Seahorse Legacy blog hop. The Seahorse Legacy is the third book in the Eyes of E’veria series, but it is the first book in a mini series within the series.

Let me say this: I really enjoyed this book. It is a pirate fantasy with a young lady knight thrown in. Curious? Just read my review below and don’t forget to enter both raffles for a chance to win books and pirate prizes!

Review:

The Seahorse LegacyCazien is the captain of the Seahorse Pirates and holder of his family’s Legacy, a legacy that gives him special abilities linked to the sea and binds him to a secret oath, one that chose his bride for him hundreds of years before he was born. Of course, being a pirate, he doesn’t like to be told what to do, or in this case, who to marry.

Eirelle is the first woman to ever be knighted in Everia, an honor she has desired ever since she was a child. But little does she know her allegiance is owed to another country, one bound by marriage: her marriage.

Everything is at stake for Cazien. He must woo and wed Eirelle (or just grab her and run) in order to fulfill his family’s oath. If he doesn’t wed her, not only will he lose his abilities through the seahorse legacy, the people of his island country will be captured and all of Everia will be at risk.

But how do you get a pirate to do what he doesn’t want to do?

I loved The Seahorse Legacy. I also loved Serena’s first two books (check out my reviews here: The Ryn and The Remedy), but I have to say I liked this one a little more. What can I say? I’m more of a pirate lover than a knight lover :). Both Cazien and Erielle are mixed characters: good, but flawed. And I liked that.

I also loved the connection Cazien has with the sea. As a sea-loving woman, I would love to have his abilities, or to even sail on his ship.

This is the first book in a two book series, so it does end without everything resolved. But that only makes me want the next book now!

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Here are the links to The Seahorse Legacy:

Amazon

Goodreads

And don’t forget to enter both raffles for a chance to win The Seahorse Legacy and other prizes!

Rafflecopter giveaway
Rafflecopter giveaway

A Time to Die Cover Reveal

What if you only had one year left to live? How would you spend it? That is the question behind Nadine Brandes’ debut novel A Time to Die. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s a great premise for what looks to be a great book! So without further ado, here is the cover…

A Time to Die

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?



Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

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Nadine BrandesAbout the Author: Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases Fall 2014 from Marcher Lord Press. When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband.

Where to find Nadine online:

Website: http://nadinebrandes.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/nadinebrandesauthor

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/nadinebrandes

Twitter: http://twitter/nadinebrandes

 

And don’t forget to add A Time to Die to your Goodreads tbr list! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21795840-a-time-to-die

A Spring in Your Step Blog Hop Winner and Cover Reveal

A Spring in Your Step Blog HopThank you everyone who stopped by and entered my giveaway for the Spring in Your Step Blog Hop. And now for the winner…

Drum roll please…

Cindy ! Congrats on winning the Amazon gift card! I will be sending you an email :)

And now for the cover reveal for Forever Layla by Melissa Turner Lee:

Forever Layla
What if the woman you envied most is the person you are destined to become?

In 1994, high school senior David Foster was the lackey and soundboard geek for his best friend’s grunge band. During spring break, the band lands a dream gig playing at a motel in Myrtle Beach, SC. David expected all the girls to ogle the guys on stage, but when a beautiful blond “Bond Girl” approaches him and calls him by name, he’s shocked to find out she knows more about him than a stranger should.

She even knows about his notebooks and his visions of time travel.

What she thought was a quick time-travel-sightseeing trip takes a surprising turn when she meets the young adult version of the man she’d heard stories about as a child. His fairy-tale romance with the woman he’d loved, Layla, inspired her to accept nothing less than a love just as strong…but hopefully not as tragic. When she won’t tell the younger version of him her name, he calls her Layla–and the world as she knows it changes forever.

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To add Forever Layla to your Goodreads list, click here.

And to enter the giveaway for an advance copy of Forever Layla, enter here: Rafflecopter Giveaway

melissaturnerleeMelissa Turner Lee holds a BA in Communications with a concentration in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. She has studied fiction writing since 2008, attending various writing conferences and workshops, along with guidance from professional writing coaches. She resides in Spartanburg, SC with her husband and 3 sons.

A Spring in Your Step Blog Hop

A Spring in Your Step Blog Hop

Hi! Welcome to the Spring in Your Step Blog Hop. As part of this blog hop I will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card (details down below)

So who is ready for spring to come? Tired of the snow and cold weather? What is your favorite part of spring?

I love flowers and gardens. The moment I don’t have to worry about frost, I’m at my local nursery picking out plants. This year I’m even more excited because we just moved into a new house with built in flower boxes, many flower beds, and a raised garden spot. So excited!

Along with gardening, I also love to bike. In my hometown we have a paved trail that runs the entire town. This is especially nice since I bike with my kids. There is nothing like a warm day with the wind in your face, racing along with your kids and enjoying the scenery.

So how about you? What do you look forward to the most in the spring? Getting outside? Barbequing? Planting flowers? Share in the comments. I would love to know!

Now for my giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card: Rafflecopter Giveaway

And don’t forget to check out the rest of blogs along this hop for more gift cards, swag, and other prizes! Click here

Leap into Books Blog Hop

Leap into Books

Hi! This week I am part of the Leap into Books Blog Hop. As part of this hop, each and every blog will be offering a giveaway, many that will involve books. So if you are a book lover, this is the blog hop for you!

As a book lover myself, I thought it would be fun to share a list of ten books (or series) that I love. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of my list for a $10 Amazon gift card so you can add to your own library :)

Now for my list. These books are like comfort food. When I want something to read and have nothing new, I grab one of these. I have read them over and over again. These books are old friends who live on my shelf (you know what I mean?).

1)   Anne of Green Gables. L. M. Montgomery’s books take me to a time and place filled with unique characters. If you haven’t read the series (past the first book), I would highly recommend you do.

2)   The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion. It was The Hobbit that first sparked my love for the fantasy genre. I also love The Silmarillion. Basically it’s the history book for anything Middle Earth.

3)   Pride and Prejudice. Personally I think this is the best romance written. Girl meets boy. Girl hates boy. Girl realizes she was wrong about boy. Boy does everything to win girl back. Love it!

4)   The Scarlet Pimpernel. I read this book for the first time a couple months ago and absolutely loved it. It takes place during the French Revolution (fascinating time period) and revolves around a mysterious man who, with the help of a group of young English noblemen, smuggles French nobility out of France.

5)   Jane Eyre. A darker tale of love, but beautiful as well. It is about a young woman who has to choose between the way of love and the way of virtue. She chooses to stand by her convictions. At the end of the book, she is finally free to marry the man she loves who by then has paid the price for his past wrongs. A wonderful book about enduring love.

6)   Mark of the Lion Series. Excellent three book series that takes place during the Roman time period right after the fall of Jerusalem. The story follows a young Jewish woman who is sold as a slave into a roman household. Great historical fiction.

7)   Star Wars: Heir to the Empire series. There are many Star Wars books out there written by many different authors, but my all time favorite is this first series written by Timothy Zahn. If you want to read Star Wars, start with this series.

8)   Harry Potter. I first began reading this series after the teens in my youth group were asking about Harry Potter. I love these books! J.K. Rowling has written an amazing world and deep characters.

9)   Sherlock Holmes. Yep, I love the man of deduction. It always fascinates me how Sherlock Holmes is able to solve each mystery by seeing what we all see, but in a different way. Classic mystery.

10)  Chronicles of Narnia. I could not end a post like this without mentioning C.S. Lewis and his stories about Narnia. I will say the books are better than the movies. So go read them.

So there’s my list. What are your favorite books, those whose covers are worn and pages are dirty, but you read time after time after time again? Please share in the comments. Maybe I’ll find a new love among your lists.

Now for my giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card: Rafflecopter Giveaway

And don’t forget to check out the rest of blogs along this hop! Click here.

Cover Reveal: Golden Daughter

BannerforSeriesToday I have the privilege of revealing the cover and giving you a sneak peak iinto Golden Daughter, the next book to be released by one of my favorite authors, Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Back blurb:

Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

And now the cover:

Golden Daughter Beautiful cover, right?

Would you like to know more? Here is an excerpt from Golden Daughter:

Excerpt from Chapter 3

GOLDEN DAUGHTER

 

Sairu made her way from Princess Safiya’s chambers out to the walkways of the encircling gardens. The Masayi, abode of the Golden Daughters, was an intricate complex of buildings linked by blossom-shrouded walkways, calm with fountains and clear, lotus-filled pools where herons strutted and spotted fish swam.

Here she had lived all the life she could remember.

The Masayi was but a small part of Manusbau Palace, which comprised the whole of Sairu’s existence. She had never stepped beyond the palace walls. To do so would be to step into a world of corruption, corruption to which a Golden Daughter would not be impervious until she was safely chartered to a master and her life’s work was affixed in her heart and mind. Meanwhile, she must live securely embalmed in this tomb, waiting for life to begin.

Sairu’s mouth curved gently at the corners, and she took small steps as she had been trained—slow, dainty steps that disguised the swiftness with which she could move at need. Even in private she must maintain the illusion, even here within the Masayi.

A cat sat on the doorstep of her own building, grooming itself in the sunlight. She stepped around it and proceeded into the red-hung halls of the Daughter’s quarters and on to her private chambers. There she must gather what few things she would take with her—fewer things even than Jen-ling would take on her journey to Aja. For Jen-ling would be the wife of a prince, and she must give every impression of a bride on her wedding journey.

I wonder who my master will be? Sairu thought as she slid back the rattan door to her chamber and entered the quiet simplicity within. She removed her elaborate costume and exchanged it for a robe of simple red without embellishments. She washed the serving girl cosmetics from her face and painted on the daily mask she and her sisters wore—white with black spots beneath each eye and a red stripe down her chin. It was elegant and simple, and to the common eye it made her indistinguishable from her sisters.

The curtain moved behind her. She did not startle but turned quietly to see the same cat slipping into her room. Cats abounded throughout Manusbau Palace, kept on purpose near the storehouses to manage the vermin. But they did not often enter private chambers.

Sairu, kneeling near her window with her paint pots around her, watched the cat as it moved silkily across the room, stepped onto her sleeping cushions, and began kneading the soft fabric, purring all the while. Its claws pulled at the delicate threads. But it was a cat. As far as it was concerned, it had every right to enjoy or destroy what it willed.

At last it seemed to notice Sairu watching it. It turned sleepy eyes to her and blinked.

Sairu smiled. In a voice as sweet as honey, she asked, “Who are you?”

The cat twitched its tail softly and went on purring.

The next moment, Sairu was across the room, her hand latched onto the cat’s scruff. She pushed it down into the cushions and held it there as it yowled and snarled, trying to catch at her with its claws.

“Who are you?” she demanded, her voice fierce this time. “What are you? Are you an evil spirit sent to haunt me?”

“No, dragons eat it! I mean, rrrraww! Mreeeow! Yeeeowrl!

The cat twisted and managed to lash out at her with its back feet, its claws catching in the fabric of her sleeve. One claw scratched her wrist, startling her just enough that she loosened her hold. The cat took advantage of the opportunity and, hissing like a fire demon, leapt free. It sprang across the room, knocking over several of her paint pots, and spun about, back-arched and snarling. Every hair stood on end, and its ears lay flat to its skull.

Sairu drew a dagger from her sleeve and crouched, prepared for anything. The smile lingered on her mouth, but her eyes flashed. “Who sent you?” she demanded. “Why have you come to me now? You know of my assignment, don’t you.”

Meeeeowrl,” the cat said stubbornly and showed its fangs in another hiss.

“I see it in your face,” Sairu said, moving carefully to shift her weight and prepare to spring. “You are no animal. Who is your master, devil?”

The cat dodged her spring easily enough, which surprised her. Sairu was quick and rarely missed a target. Her knife sank into the floor and stuck there, but she released it and whipped another from the opposite sleeve even as she whirled about.

Any self-respecting cat would have made for the window or the door. This one sprang back onto the cushions and crouched there, tail lashing. Its eyes were all too sentient, but it said only “Meeeeow,” as though trying to convince itself.

Sairu chewed the inside of her cheek. Then, in a voice as smooth as butter, she said, “We have ways of dealing with devils in this country. Do you know what they are, demon-cat?”

The cat’s ears came up. “Prreeowl?” it said.

“Allow me to enlighten you.”

And Sairu put her free hand to her mouth and uttered a long, piercing whistle. The household erupted with the voices of a dozen and more lion dogs.

The little beasts, slipping and sliding and crashing into walls, their claws clicking and clattering on the tiles, careened down the corridor and poured into Sairu’s room. Fluffy tails wagging, pushed-in noses twitching, they roared like the lions they believed themselves to be and fell upon the cat with rapacious joy.

The cat uttered one long wail and the next moment vanished out the window. Sairu, dogs milling at her feet, leapt up and hurried to look out after it, expecting to see a tawny tail slipping from sight. But she saw nothing.

The devil was gone. For the moment at least.

Sairu sank down on her cushions, and her lap was soon filled with wriggling, snuffling hunters eager for praise. She petted them absently, but her mind was awhirl. She had heard of devils taking the form of animals and speaking with the tongues of men. But she had never before seen it. She couldn’t honestly say she’d even believed it.

“What danger is my new master in?” she wondered. “From what must I protect him?”

***

To celebrate the cover reveal, Anne is holding a giveaway for any two of the first six Goldstone Wood novels! Winner’s choice of:  Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, Dragonwitch, or Shadow Hand.

Nice, right?

Here is the link to the giveaway: Rafflecopter Giveaway

More about the author:

Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. Her books include Christy Award-winning Heartless and Veiled Rose, and Clive Staples Award-winning Starflower. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration and English literature at Grace College and Campbell University.

Christian Fantasy: A Life-Saving Genre

Hey everyone! I have a guest post today by Angie Brashear and the cover reveal for her debut novel, Never Let Go.

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Christian Fantasy: A Life-Saving Genre

Definitions of literary genres can be…well, complex. Even tricky. Attempts to define Christian fantasy vary, though I’ve spent little time fretting over an official definition. I mean, Christian fiction typically illustrates a Christian world view within its plot, characters, or both. And the fantasy genre commonly uses myths and legends as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. So, in my opinion, Christian fantasy embodies fantastical elements in an internally consistent setting all the while reflecting aspects of the Christian world view.

But the debate (at least for some) surrounds who writes Christian fantasy. Writers who are Christians, writers who claim to be Christians, or writers who believe Christianity is a fantasy to begin with? It’s not a debate I choose to enter, for the truth lies outside the discussion: the genre influences nonbelievers. My path to salvation began with a classic fantasy, told to me in the midst of my secular world.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis aloud to my class. In doing so, she opened my eyes to adventure and possibilities, all the while helping me escape a world of darkness for a short time. At its conclusion, I wondered, Is God real? He couldn’t be, right? For if He existed, innocent young girls wouldn’t suffer the wrath of drunken addicts, or the torment of abandonment.

I continued to speculate. Each time God placed believers in my path—a high school teacher, a college friend, and a college coach—my fascination with the possibility grew stronger until the truth stunned me like a slap to the face. God indeed lives in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He rescues. He saves. And He waited for me. Then He embraced me. It all started with a little seed, planted in the empty heart of the girl I once was. A love for reading expanded to a love for writing. A desire to know God became a desire to serve Him, to reach nonbelievers.

And Never Let Go was born.

In all things, I’m grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for embracing a lost, lonely girl. That He died for me…there is no greater gift. My prayer is that I’ll never let go of His truth.

 

Never Let GoBack Cover Blurb:

Captured by the Rendow Clan, who seek to slaughter those with faith in the Maker, Laila Pennedy awaits death. Moments before her execution, she is rescued from the gallows by Lars Landre and his dragon. Marked as The Chosen by his blue eyes, Lars is destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution.

 

Lars guides Laila on a harrowing race across The Woodlands to Tuveil, where the Faithful are preparing to fight a rebellion. But the secret location of the village is betrayed and the Rendow Clan’s army will soon be at the gates. Faced with this impeding peril, Laila trains for battle, but the struggles in her mind and heart may be as overwhelming as the war to come. Will she prove herself an asset or is she condemned to forever be a burden to those she loves?

 

Pre-order Never Let Go here.

 

Angie BrashearAuthor Bio:

When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s an avid reader and runner, both of which perplex her husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children. Follow her at http://facebook.com/AngieBrashearAuthor, https://twitter.com/AngieBrashear, and http://angiebrashear.com.