Monday, July 21, 2014

The Butterfly and the Violin- Kristy Cambron

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: And then came war . . .

"Today." Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world's elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.

"Vienna, 1942." Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna's vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele's barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait--Adele--they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God's faithfulness never falters.


My Thoughts: I have always had a soft spot for Holocaust stories, maybe because of the great tragedy that managed to also birth light on some places. The Butterfly and the Violin perfectly captured that concept for me, with a woman who faces such hardship, yet plays beautiful music.

Often times, I find it difficult to go from on perspective to another when the characters live in different time periods. However, Kristy managed to describe each period with details that kept them distinct in my mind. The change between war torn Austria and modern California pulled me right in.

There is not much I can say that I did not like. Perhaps when Vladamir, an other wise suave gentleman, referred to his heart as a "ticker". All in all, I really enjoyed seeing the Holocaust threw the eyes of Sera and Adele. and hope to read more by Kristy Cambron.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.



Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/zhXo3

About the author: Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Friday, July 18, 2014

Writing Tip- Short Story Opportunity

http://splicketypubgroup.com/submission-guidelines/


While at Realm Makers, I learned a bit about Splickety Magazine. They publish short stories, 500-1,000 words, and pay a "small stipend" for these stories, holding the rights for six months. Splickety publishes short stories in all genres, but have two imprints as well. Havok publishes speculative fiction and Splickety Love does romance.

You can look at the submission guidelines by clicking the image above. From there you can check out the rest of the magazines webpage.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In the Field of Grace- Tessa Afshar

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Without wealth or family, the widow Ruth left her people and followed Naomi, her beloved Hebrew mother-in-law, to rebuild Naomi's home in Israel. Provisions gone and starvation at the door, Ruth used all that she had left--a strong back and a willing heart--to gather grain in a field, abandoned after the harvest.

Tormented by others, Ruth is shocked to find the owner of the field watching her. Talking to her. Bringing food to her and Naomi. Boaz tells himself his kindness toward Ruth is repayment for the love she has shown to his cousin Naomi. But his heart knows better.


My Thoughts:  I have waited for the story of Boaz to come out ever since I read about his mother in A Pearl in the Sand. It was exciting to see his story as well, and then at the end to have it connected with his great-grandson, David.

Afshar brought the story of Ruth to life by showing their actions through the filter of their past. She showed us their lives before they met and how it shaped the way they interacted. While never shown in the Bible, I think that Afshar's portrayal gives a good idea of how Ruth and Boaz's lives could have been, beyond what we know.

My one complaint is that the two main characters did not seem to struggle with belief as much as those of A Pearl in the Sand, so I was not able to connect with them as well has I had Rahab and Salmone. Still, the romance is sweet and the story insightful into the lives of two Biblical figures.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Glass Slippers- Cinderella Collection

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description:What happens when Cinderella is so painfully shy that she cannot bear the idea of attending the royal ball? Or when the slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl? What happens when Cinderella is determined to oust an imposter prince from her rightful throne? Or when she is a cendrillon miner working from a space station orbiting a cthonian planet? What happens when Cinderella, a humble housemaid, is sent with a message for a prisoner trapped in a frightening fairy circus?

Here is Cinderella as you have never met her before, wearing glass slippers and off on unforgettable adventures!


WHAT EYES CAN SEE: Elisabeth Brown
Painfully shy Arella begs her stepmother to let her stay home from the prince’s ball. But kindly Duchess Germaine is determined that her beautiful stepdaughter should be presented at court along with her own two daughters. So, dressed in a gorgeous gown and a pair of heirloom slippers, Arella catches the eye of the crown prince . . . and finds her life suddenly far more complicated than she ever desired.


BROKEN GLASS: Emma Clifton
The slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl! Rosalind never once danced with Prince Marius at the ball, for she is in love with his brother Henry. If only Rosalind and Marius would stop bickering long enough to invent a scheme, perhaps the three of them can find the real mystery lady. But they must work quickly, for dark deeds are afoot, and the kingdom is poised on the brink of disaster.


THE WINDY SIDE OF CARE: Rachel Heffington
Alisandra is determined to have her rights. She knows that she is the king’s secretly dispossessed daughter, the true heir to the throne. Prince Auguste is an imposter, and if she plays her cards right, Alis will prove it to the world! That is, if charming Auguste doesn’t succeed in winning her heart before she gets her chance . . .


A CINDER’S TALE: Stephanie Ricker
It’s a dangerous life, yet Elsa wouldn’t trade this opportunity to work at Tremaine Station, mining cendrillon from the seething surface of planet Aschen. Nevertheless, when a famous deep space explorer and his handsome son dock their starcraft at the space station, Elsa finds herself dreaming of far galaxies beyond Aschen's blistering heat. There is no time for dreaming, however, when danger threatens the space station, and Elsa and her fellow miners are tested to the limits of their courage.


THE MOON MASTER’S BALL: Clara Diane Thompson
After her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.




My Thoughts: Over all I found this collection pleasant to read. It was not my favorite collection of stories, but it was definitely the most unique, connected by a plot rather than genre or writing style. I found it a nice change of pace to read a collection with various genres (rather than all historical, ect.) My opinion ranged with the stories, however.

In What Eyes Can See, I was pleased to find that it did not end the way one would expect a Cinderella story to end. It was a nice change from the original story. However, I felt bad for Drusilla, and actually thought she deserved better than what she got out of the situation. I know I would have been livid if I were her... though maybe she is just more forgiving than I am.

Broken Glass had another interesting twist on the characters and who ends up with whom. But I found I was not completely pleased with how it ended as I didn't like Marius and felt a bit bad for Darcy, even if he was the villain.

The Windy Side of Care had to be my favorite of the stories. Though I would never describe Alis as an overly kind person, I found her remarks amusing, as well as thoughs of the other character. Her "godfather" was particularly humorous, though I found his reasoning strange.

A Cinder's Tale contained a vary well built world, especially for such a short story. I imagine that I will enjoy reading the book that goes along with it. However, the whole element of the "Prince" seemed a little forced and out of place in this world. I believe I would have liked it better if the story had skewed a little further from the Cinderella origin in that regard.

The Moon Master's Ball was by far the most unique of the stories. I actually enjoyed the circus setting a lot more than I had thought I would. And the slippers were really cool. I won't lie. Yet by the end, I found it hard to believe that Tilly was the only person who could save the Moon Master and that no one else in the town seemed to notice that there was something seriously off about that ball.


I applaud the creativity and originality that went into making each of these stories unique and hope to see work by these authors again.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Beauty So Rare- Tamera Alexander

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Plain, practical Eleanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.


My Thoughts: Having recently read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (a steampunk novel), where the hero is the Archduke of Austria, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the hero of this novel was an Archduke of Austria as well. I think that the culture allows for a far greater exploration of choice in ones destiny than can be found in English cultures.

Beyond that, I found the idea of a plain woman (one who actually is plain and does not just believe she is) attracting a prince with her mind to be enjoyable. The conversations between Marcus and Eleanor were such that I could actually see the two actually liking to be around each other for years to come, because they actually had real conversations rather than flirtation.

I found the chemistry between the characters to be refreshing and the conflicts realistic. And that Tamera wrote the story back at Belmont with Adelicia (who is a very interesting character), added another layer to the history of the novel.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Writing Tip- To Go Verbs

There are so many ways to say that a character went some where. In fact, there are over a hundred. Yet we often get stuck on one or two such words, using them over and over again. A while back I found a work sheet that helps with this. It is called "162 ways to say went", and I printed out a copy and taped it up next to my computer. Now, when I am looking for that right word, I just have to glance at the sheet to find it.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ways-to-Say-Went-Display-Poster-673984


This sheet is free to download. All you have to do is make an account with the website and click the download button. I hope you find it useful!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interview with Ashlee Willis

Ashlee is the author of Word Changers. Today she stops by to interview with Backing Books. Please comment thanking her and asking any questions you may have.



Tell us about yourself.

I’m a daughter of God, first and foremost. I’m also the mother of the smartest, sweetest 7-year-old boy in the world, and the wife of a soccer-playing grown-up-boy whose plain sense tends to balance out my own character extremes! I was born and raised in mid-Missouri, and am a country girl. I love forest rambles, tree climbing, cozy chats with friends, and reading in bed. Oh, and I also crochet … I crochet a lot!! Usually while watching the BBC.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since around the age of 9 or 10. It began with songs and poems and short stories, then I wrote my first full-length book when I was about 12. It wasn’t any good, of course! But it gave me the true writing bug, and I’ve never stopped since!

What gave you the inspiration for The Word Changers?


Many things. Books themselves are what started the idea for the story in my imagination. They are portals to other worlds for readers … so why not make a book a true portal for someone to fall into and get lost within? Then God took that idea and made it something bigger – something about Him, His love for us and the Story called Life that He has written us all into.

Do you have a character that you relate to the most?

I relate to Posy, my main character, quite closely. She comes from a broken home, she has a sister she feels very protectively toward. She is unsure of herself and yet determined at the same time. Determined to find a way through the darkness that surrounds her … I’ve been in that place many times!


Has anything ever happened to you in real life that occurred in your novel?

Hmm … let’s see. There are a few things I wish had! Posy’s inner self is much like I was at her age. And though fantastical things happen to her throughout the story, her emotions are ones that, naturally, I acutely understand. Bitterness, anger, a deeper need for love and forgiveness (both given and received). Those are things that are universal, really. So … no, I’ve never been in a battle with owls and centaurs before But yes, I’ve experienced many of the more profound things The Word Changers is about.


Do you have a publishing story?

A bit of one! My story is somewhat backward from most authors’, I think. Most get an agent first and then a publisher. But I got a positive response from a publisher before I even had an agent (I was querying both at the time). I didn’t feel comfortable working on contracts and editing alone, so I took a chance and sent an email to my top-choice agent (what did I have to lose?), before I signed the publishing contract. And she said yes! Needless to say, it was a very exciting couple of weeks for me!

Here at Backing Books, we do Writing Tips. Do you happen to have a tip for my readers?

I’ve learned many things through the years about writing. One of the most important ones is to trust yourself, and to trust your story. Sometimes I will be writing along at a good rate, then come to an unexpectedly difficult place. A place where, in fact, I’m completely stuck. I just don’t feel the passion for my story anymore. Even though I know what’s going to happen in the scene, the words just don’t come. For a writer, that can be a scary place. Even something so small as that can make you begin to lose faith in your story or in your ability as a writer. What I’ve learned through the years is to not trust that passion. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great while it’s there – use it. But if it leaves – no big deal! It doesn’t mean your story stinks. It doesn’t mean you’re a horrible writer. It just means that today, with this chapter, or with this scene, you’ll need to make it through on pure willpower. And willpower, effort, determination … those things just might bring that passion back again. They always do for me. And your story will be stronger because of it.

 
 Bio:
Ashlee has a passion for three things: God, family, and books, and is happiest when all three can be enjoyed together.  Ashlee graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education. She divides her time chiefly between homeschooling her young son, reading about fantasy worlds she wishes she could visit, and dreaming up fantasy worlds of her own to write about. She loves taking walks in the woods, drinking tea with friends, and spending time with the ones she loves most.  Ashlee lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, son, and cat, where she is busily at work on her next book, also a fantasy for young adults.

Find Ashlee on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads, or email her at AshleeW@zoho.com.