Friday, March 28, 2014

Dragonswood- Janet Lee Carey

My Rating: 4 stars

Description: On Wilde Island, there is no peace between dragons, fairies, and humans.

Wilde Island is in an uproar over the recent death of its king. As the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans begins to fray, the royal witch hunter with a hidden agenda begins a vengeful quest to burn girls suspected of witchcraft before a new king is crowned.

Strong-willed Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet, wants more for herself than a husband and a house to keep. But in times like these wanting more can be dangerous. Accused of witchery, Tess and her two friends are forced to flee the violent witch hunter. As their pursuer draws ever closer they find shelter with a huntsman in the outskirts of the forbidden Dragonswood sanctuary. But staying with the mysterious huntsman poses risks of its own: Tess does not know how to handle the attraction she feels for him—or resist the elusive call that draws her deeper onto the heart of Dragonswood.

My Thoughts: As a history lover, the first thing that drew me to this story was the premise of a girl who had been accused of witchcraft. What held me was Dragonswood.

A forest within medieval England, home to dragons and fey folk alike. I could easily see Tess fascination with it from the beginning. I was tempted to cross the boundary wall myself (if I could ever find it). The mix of history and fantasy in this unique story carried me way.

My one true dislike for the story was Lady Adela. Her reasons for her vial deeds are murky at best. I don't understand why everyone could explain them away and then treat Tess like she was wrong for being distrustful.

Still, story and its setting were absolutely delightful, if a bit sad because the ugly historical aspects of the witch hunts.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Writing Tip- Unwanted Destinies

King Arthur and Merlin

 Every hero anyone has ever loved has feared his or her destiny in some way. Because destinies are scary things with hardships and pains along the way.

The destiny will take a strength of character never before known to the hero, a growth of heart and moral. And every emotion felt in is a growing pain, making them who they need to be. Because the boy at the beginning of the story could never do what the man could at the end.

Prince Caspian

After reading A Draw of Kings this past week, the idea of destinies is one that has captured me. That someone like Errol, or Caspian from Narnia, could have a plan set out for their lives by God and the kind of fear that such knowledge brought to them.

That fear of destiny is what makes us love them, what makes them heroes. Because they were like us and they became who we hope to be. So give your heroes destinies, a path to trod. Let them become who we want to be.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rachel- Jill Eileen Smith

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description: Can true love overcome a legacy of betrayal?

Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Leah wishes her father would find a good man who would love her alone. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.

But the past comes back to haunt Jacob when he finds himself on the receiving end of treachery. The man who wanted only one woman ends up with sisters who have never gotten along and now must spend the rest of their lives sharing a husband. In the power struggles that follow, only one woman will triumph . . . or will she?

Combining meticulous research with her own imaginings, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith not only tells one of the most famous love stories of all time but will manage to surprise even those who think they know the story inside and out.

My Thoughts: Do to the subject of this story, I was certain that there would be some level of heart break. I was not really prepared for how much I became invested in Rachel and Leah's relationship. Not just because they were married to a patriarch, but because they were sisters struggling with the choices of themselves and others.

Through out the story, I could not help but picture my own sister and I in this situation. How would we handle all that happened to Leah and Rachel? While I am sure that we would have not taken the route of Leah, to be stuck in either her or Rachel's shoes after the fact was something to think about.

Honestly, my only complaint was that the story had a lot of gaps over the years. I would have liked to see more of the seven years that Jacob worked for Leah. I think it would have given a better understanding of why Leah was willing to hurt her sister as she had and also gamble her own happiness on her choice.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Draw of Kings- Patrick Carr

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description:Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.

With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.
A dangerous mission to free Errol succeeds, but the dangers facing the kingdom are mounting with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw near. Will the revelation of Illustra’s next true king come in time or will all be lost?

My Thoughts: I can not tell you how eagerly I awaited the arrival of this book. And I was far from disappointed. A Draw of Kings managed to be my favorite of the series, which is so vary rare for third books.

The world Patrick has created becomes even larger and more detailed in this novel, with characters traveling to the far reaches of the continent. Each culture is unique and has its on vastly different traditions, something that I love as a cultural anthropology major.

Even with the story split in three separate POVs that follow three different story lines, I could not put it down until I found out who would be the king and savior. I only wish that there were more to the series.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

A Draw of Kings - 
 Author Website -

Check out the other stops on this tour:

Gillian Adams
Jennifer Bogart 
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
James Somers
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Jill Williamson

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shadow Hand Interview with Anne Elisabeth Stengl

First lets thank Anne Elisabeth Stengl for being here! She has
graciously granted me an interview, and I am sure that you all want to know what she had to say, so here it is:

Is there anything that you would like to tell us about yourself?

Hi there! I am a bookish, introverted, crazy-cat-lady novelist type. Most people wouldn’t guess the introverted bit because I appear outgoing in public, but it’s the truth! I live with my husband, Rohan, in a little house on a hill beside a bamboo forest. I spend my days taking care of my (now six!) cats, my big fluffy dog, and writing fairy tale novels. I also edit, dabble in design, mentor writing students, and sometimes still find opportunity to draw/paint and practice piano. I love listening to opera, drinking Ceylon tea, and going dancing with my husband.

Shadow Hand is your newest novel. Can you tell us about the story?

Shadow Hand is book 6 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood. It picks up where my third novel, Moonblood, leaves off. But this story takes secondary characters from earlier novels and makes them the protagonists. Thus readers finally get into the head and heart of “bad girl” Lady Daylily and “pathetic” Prince Foxbrush . . . maybe to discover that neither is so bad or pathetic as previously thought.
The story is loosely based on the Ballad of Tam Lin, St. Patrick legends, and a George MacDonald fairy tale, all rolled up into an ancient jungle setting. It deals with several different time periods, connecting stories from the past with stories of the present. It is quite a wild ride!

When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. My mother began her career as a professional novelist when I was still quite young, and I was always inspired by watching her work. It was quite a natural step for me to take up the pen myself.

Where did you get the idea for the Tales of Goldstone Wood?

I couldn’t really say. The ideas are still growing, and the initial inspiration is pretty hard to pinpoint. When I was fourteen I started penning a variety of stories all set in the same world but in different times and locations. Each story referenced the others, but they weren’t a “series,” per se, because they didn’t move in any specific chronological order. Not unlike the Tales of Goldstone Wood as it looks today! I know I wrote down the first ideas for Dragonwitch when I was seventeen, and the first ideas for Starflower came soon after that. Those are probably the oldest ideas to make it into the series as it is today.

How many novels do you so far plan to write in the series?

Well, until recently I would have said 15. But, as is usually the case, each time I write a story, new ideas crop up. So I couldn’t give you an exact number at this point. More than 15, that much I know!

Do you have any plans for other series?

Possibly. At the moment I’m pretty focused on Goldstone Wood, however. It’s such a broad world with limitless scope, so it’s hard to think outside of it just now.

Could you tell us your publishing story?

I wrote my debut novel, Heartless, when I was 21. I found an agent the year after, and she found a publisher less than a year after that. It was almost miraculously quick, really! I definitely see God’s hand in bringing my work to Bethany House and giving me the chance to launch this series . . . which has turned into something much bigger and more exciting than I ever could have imagined!

Out of all your characters, could you tell us which is your favorite and why?

Oh, definitely Eanrin, Bard of Rudiobus, poet and cat. I have been writing about him since the early days of Goldstone Wood, and he has always been a favorite! I mean, I am a crazy-cat-lady after all . . .

What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

For some reason I usually struggle with beginnings. The beginning of Dragonwitch was the most difficult writing I’ve ever done! Shadow Hand also gave me pain at first, trying to find the right opening. But I will say the next three projects—Goddess Tithe, Golden Daughter, and Draven’s Light—have all started out really nicely for me, and the beginnings didn’t change much from the first lines I pounded out. So maybe I’ve broken that trend? (Knock on wood.)

Do you have a favorite part of writing?

Finishing. I love the whole creative process, but there is nothing quite like writing the climax of a story that has consumed my life for the past several months . . . and then putting that final, finishing flourish on the end. It’s an enormously satisfying feeling. So satisfying that I can’t wait to jump into the next project so I can work up to that moment again!

Here on Backing Books, every Wednesday we have a Writing Tip. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with us?

Hmmmm . . . I suppose I would suggest this: Each writer should figure out what matters to her or him. Right now. What is the issue weighing on your heart? Is it crippling self-doubt? Is it striving toward a specific goal? Is it a broken heart? Is it anxiety about the future? Is it grappling with grief? I recommend each writer to find out what is currently the driving force in her or his heart . . . and then shape stories around that.
Successful stories are stories that matter. Particularly stories that matter to the writers writing them. If you can communicate something that personally, deeply matters to you right now into your story, you will find your audience. If you try to write about someone else’s concerns, someone else’s problems . . . it’ll never mean as much. Not to you, not to your readers.
This is a similar tip to the classic “Write What You Know.” But I don’t necessarily agree with that tip. It tends to make people think too small. But writers should write from personal experience, personal pain, personal drive, hopes, and dreams. And aspect of “writing what you know” is absolutely vital to creating an absolutely vital story.

What inspires you?

Great writing inspires me. I try to surround myself with great writing—great reading—all the time. Both classics and modern. I don’t bother with writing I find thin, inauthentic, or trivial. But I read a variety of genres, styles, and narrative voices. A good writer is a good reader.

And finally, my favorite question for every author: Is there anything that occurs in your novel that has happened to you in real life?

Well, the old-Southlander dish Foxbrush eats at one point in the story . . . I’ve eaten that too! And was equally surprised by the spicy heat that could burn your tongue out. But oh my, it’s delicious! It’s based on a Sri Lankan dish called Seenie Sambol, and I hope to share a recipe on the book page one of these days .

Are there any ways for readers to learn more about you and your book?

Readers can find me in the following places:
And readers may also visit the Shadow Hand Book Page to learn more about this particular story! Be certain to click the book tiles on the side bar to go to those book pages as well.
Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Rebekah!

Author Bio:
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.
Twitter: @AEStengl

Shadow Hand (available now):

This is a story about love, and blood, and the many things that lie between . . .By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . .

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

Golden Daughter (coming November 2014)


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.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Aire- Lena Goldfinch

Lena's Sweet Spring Reads Blog Tour

It's raining reviews! This reviews-only tour for Lena Goldfinch's sweet YA fantasy & paranormal romance stories is here and will last through March 15!

My Review of Aire:  Aire contains beautiful prose that carries you into another world entirely. Throughout the story, I would picture the setting of the story clearly in my mind. Lena's wording is able to capture the otherworldly quality of fantasy.

Honestly, I did not really understand the villain. He was not well explained and I could not fathom why he did the things in this book. His deeds were villainous, I just wish his reasons were better explained.

Yet if you love sweet reads, with love that wins the day, you will enjoy this.

 About the Author

LENA GOLDFINCH writes fantasy and romance for teens and adults. She's a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it's a novel, novella, or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Elements of romance, fantasy, and mystery have a way of creeping into her writing, even when she's writing something light and contemporary. Her latest release is TAKE A PICTURE, a lighthearted contemporary romance for teens and new adults, which includes a bonus short story, CHAIN REACTION, a prequel to HAUNTING JOY. You can learn more about Lena and her books on her website.

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, March 9th
Monday, March 10th
Tuesday, March 11th
Wednesday, March 12th
Thursday, March 13th
Friday, March 14th
Saturday, March 15th
Book Purchase Links

Have the reviews got you interested in picking up your own copies of Lena's books? Here's where you can purchase them:
New Release!

Excitingly enough, the release of Lena's latest story(ies) coincides with this blog tour for reviews of her previous releases! This is a double feature: two short stories in one, including the prequel to Haunting Joy! Check it out:

TAKE A PICTURE (A Novelette)
A young (temp) paparazzi photographer falls for a teen pop star...

This lighthearted contemporary romance for teens and young adults points its lens at Troy Alexander (19), an aspiring singer turned temp paparazzi photographer, and teen pop diva, Ashlyn Sunshine (19 going on 25).

Troy Alexander is detoured on his road to fame as a lead singer, so he takes a job as a temp paparazzi to earn enough money to get home from his gap year in New York City. His assignment lands him in the path of Ashlyn Sunshine, pop music diva and former child actress. They end up spending one memorable summer afternoon together...

+Bonus Short Story:
When a "reveal your secret crush" chain letter goes awry, Joy gets caught in the middle.
Now available! (See links to purchase above.)


Lena's got some sweet treats for a couple of readers! One winner (U.S. & Canada only) will receive a paperback copy of one of Lena's books (winner's choice) plus some candy, and the other winner (can be international) will receive an e-book copy of Lena's latest release, Take a Picture. Both winners will be announced on Saturday, March 15th. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Etsy

Hello!  I wanted to point you all to my new page here, called My Etsy. It gives you links to my etsy page where I sell cases for kindles and other devices. Please check it out!

Monday, March 10, 2014

In The Shadow of Jezebel- Mesu Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Princess Jehosheba wants nothing more than to please the harsh and demanding Queen Athaliah, daughter of the notorious Queen Jezebel. Her work as a priestess in the temple of Baal seems to do the trick. But when a mysterious letter from the dead prophet Elijah predicts doom for the royal household, Jehosheba realizes that the dark arts she practices reach beyond the realm of earthly governments. To further Athaliah and Jezebel’s strategies, she is forced to marry Yahweh’s high priest and enters the unfamiliar world of Yahweh’s temple. Can her new husband show her the truth and love she craves? And can Jehosheba overcome her fear and save the family–and the nation–she loves?

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this story. Finally being able to sort out how a few generations of Judah and Israel's kings is terribly awesome. After reading this, those few chapters in the Bible on King Ahaziah and this relatives at last make sense.

Outside of now being able to interpret a few chapters of 2 Kings, the story is great as well. The conflict between the characters is masterful and sucks you in. You really come to care for people who are ordinarily written off as the villain because Mesu makes them human and relatable.

The one draw back for me was how openly evil Athaliah was and how she got away with it so much. I know that she is his ima, but if I were Hazi, I would have deposed of her once she started to threaten to kill my sister.

Other than that, I loved these characters and wish that there were more books with them!

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

Friday, March 7, 2014

Merlin's Shadow- Robert Treskillard

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: After destroying the sinister Druid Stone and freeing his people from its dark control, Merlin finds himself a royal advisor without a king. Along with his friend Garth, and Natalenya, his betrothed, Merlin treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young king safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain. As the threat on all their lives increases, Merlin discovers their only hope is sailing to the lands of eternal darkness, and once again cleansing the world from an ancient and powerful evil.

My Thoughts: At last able to see, Merlin must flee to protect his future king. But what he sees leaves him with little faith or hope. Every turn seems to bring about the victory of his enemies, of murder and thieves. And he fails to see where God is in it all. Something that many people feel in their own trials.

Along with the spiritual message, Merlin's Shadow contains adventures that will keep you turning the pages. Merlin must over come many challenges to fulfill his vow and protect those he cares for.

Perhaps my favorite part of this story was the villains. Each had a depth that brought the story to life and made their deeds believable. I especially loved Ganieda's story, when I at last found out who she was to be.

My one complaint was that some of the scenes did not flow well together. At times the grandfather spied on Merlin, which for the hero was a weeks time, but it seemed like only a few hours for the grandfather. I found this a bit confusing, though it did not hinder my understanding of the story.

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing Tip- College Admittance

Just wanted to let any of you who are applying to college know this bit of information. College admittance officers find it extremely amazing if you can tell them you have written a full length novel. It does not have to have been published or have won an award, they still love it!

When I first applied to college in 2012, I told my admittance officer about my novel and she became really excited. I was then excepted in the college (a private college) with a huge scholarship. At the admittance ceremony, when they read off our achievements, my 4.0 gpa was not listed as my greatest accomplishment, nor was my numerous offices in clubs or community service. It was my novel that the college listed as my greatest accomplishment. And at the time, only my mom had ever read it.

I did not end up at that college, because it was just to far from my family, but I still remember that and have been proud of the admittance letter I received. Now I am transfering colleges thought that I would let all of you know.

You may not be published. You may not have let anyone see your writing. But you have written and you have persevered. And there are important people who take notice of the work that takes and will honor you for it. Do not give up.