Thursday, February 27, 2014

The A-to-Z of C. S. Lewis- Colin Duriez

17738877 First off, I apologize for having an empty post up yesterday. I had thought it was for today. That being said, here is my review!

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia
C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work—his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life
and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man—written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"—to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.

My Thoughts: This work of non-fiction is a great collection of C. S. Lewis's life and work. It contains a lot of interesting facts that I had not known and that I will enjoy reading again. My one complaint is that I wished a few things would have gone a little more in depth.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Golden Daughter Cover Reveal

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.

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.

BOOK COVER: The cover illustration was done by Julia Popova. Visit her website,, to learn more about her and her fantastic work!

If you’d like to learn more about Golden Daughter, visit the book page for interesting articles, illustrations, and more!

GIVEAWAY: I am offering any two of the first six Goldstone Wood novels as a giveaway prize! Winner’s choice of: Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, Dragonwitch, or Shadow Hand.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt from Chapter 3

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?”

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Date With Death- Ace Collins

20335859My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Helen Meeker is back and has less than thirty days to stop the execution of an innocent pastor who has unbelievably confessed to being a Nazi spy. While on a case that has dynamic implications to uncovering an espionage ring operating on American and British soil, Helen defuses a hostage crisis in a bank robbery gone wrong, unearths an explosive coffin, and is introduced to a dead English hero who seems very much alive. The fate of an innocent girl and the world’s two most dynamic leaders depend upon Helen’s connecting cases before Wilbur Shellmeyer faces a firing squad, and Churchill and Roosevelt meet for a secret conference in upstate New York.

Set against the backdrop of the early days of World War II, A Date with Death combines action, adventure, mystery, and romance in a tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until they, like Helen Meeker, answer the question, “Do I save the leader of the free world or an innocent man scheduled to die to protect someone he loves?” Which life is more important?

Though the answer to this question will be revealed at the end of A Date with Death, Helen’s action and adventure will continue at a break-neck pace throughout the “In the President’s Service Series,” as she takes on new challenges and dangers.

My Thoughts: A Date with Death was enjoyable in the action movie sort of way. Light and adventure packed. Meeker goes on quite a few adventures, most involving her partner Reese, and solves a mystery that could cost a man his life. And like in most action movies, the plot was truly improbable.

Things go way too well for Meeker. I don't want to give things away, but she solves a lot of problems far to easily. And the way she found the case was highly improbable as well. Reading a historical mystery, I had hoped for a bit more realism. I just found the whole thing way too hard to believe.

As I said, the book is like an action movie. If you enjoy movies with unlikely scenarios and tough heroines, you should like this.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review from the Book Club Network.

Monday, February 17, 2014

One Realm Beyond- Donita K. Paul

Description: Cantor D'Ahma waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift to jump between worlds, the young realm walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms. But mere hours after he steps through his first portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are plagued with crime and cruelty, and even members of the once-noble Realm Walkers Guild can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment---finding a dragon to assist him on his quest---has led him to Bridger, who is clearly inept and won't leave him alone. With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But his skills aren't progressing as fast as he would like, and as he finds himself deeper and deeper in the guild's layers of deceit, Cantor struggles to determine where his true allegiance lies.

 My Thoughts: I can not wait to read this book. It sounds like so much fun, and I already know that Donita is an amazing author.

Bio: Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”

She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.

“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”

Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

You can learn more about Donita here.
And you can buy the book here. 

Check out other in the tour and see what they have to say:


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Kindle Fire Valentines
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)   This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7" (or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash).
All New Kindle Fire HDX 7" Giveaway
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
      Giveaway Sponsors
  Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Fire Giveaway:   Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7". Ends 3/16/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lost Aisles- Rebekah Gyger

This week, I did not have time to read a full book to review for you today. So instead, I decided to post a short story of mine for you to read!

Lost Aisles was dreamed up back in October, when Anne Elisabeth Stengl had her scary story tour. However, at the time I was unable to finish it. Now you can read it. Hope you enjoy! Click the picture to see more abandoned places.

Florescent lights flickered, casting eerie shadows over the store. They sputtered in desperate last attempts at life. Irritation coxed a sigh from Leissa as she orginized shampoo bottles. The bulbs needed to be replaced. Two thirds already didn't work. Another month and she would be cast in darkness.
She'd need to leave a note for the morning shift. Again.
A crash boomed from the next aisle. She flinched and knocked a bottle to the ground as another rocked on the edge of the shelf. A growl rolled in her throat and she knelt to retrieve the product.
If Jacob would ever bother to show for their shift, she wouldn't need to do all this on her own.
A low hum filled the air, punctuated by exhales of frustration and thumps of shifted merchandise. Three hours were left to her shift. Then she could go home and crawl into bed before the neighbors awoke.
“Help me!” The muffled scream came from the front of the store, by a pounding of glass and a rattle of doors. “Please, let me in.”
Leissa cocked her head. Who would make such a racket at this hour? She wiped a layer of dust from a bottle of Garnier before setting it down.
The pounding continued, accompanied by cries for help. “Please. Someone has to be here.”
She kicked aside an empty box and marched to the end of the aisle. If that man thought for one second that she would let him in to steal something...
“Thank God.” A man stood just outside the front door, his clothes torn and dirty. Blood dripped from cuts on his face and tears fell from his eyes. “Thank God.” He pressed his hands to the glass as though she might disappear.
Leissa frowned. “Go away.”
“No.” His eyes widened in panic and glanced over his shoulder before piercing her with a fear ridden gaze. “You can't leave me out here.”
“Yes, I can.” Who did he think he was? She wouldn't let a man like this in during the day, let alone at night. She turned on her heel.
“Please,” the word tore from his throat with an animal like intensity. As she continued to walk away, his cries turned desperate. “I'll die out here.”
Another light flickered out. Leissa ground her teeth. For all this to happen on her shift...
“Don't leave me out here.”
Before she left, she would leave a note for the manager. If Jacob did not start coming in soon, she'd quit.
Blocking the man from her thoughts, Leissa returned to the hair care aisle. She began to sing, drowning out his cries. When he screamed, she barely turned her head.
Three hours later, after she'd written her note and clocked out, she shuffled to the door. The sun rose in the sky, illuminating dirt on the glass overlooked by the day shift. Today, dark red speckled its surface as well.
She ground her teeth. Was she the only one around who did their job?
As she fumbled with her purse, she didn't notice when she passed the man on the pavement. Nor did she see his blank gaze and the red pool under his limp form. Neither did she wonder at the grass sprouting from the street or the cars abandoned in the road. She never questioned the absence of her neighbors, or people at the grocery.
She merely groused that no one took pride in their work anymore.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing Tip- Ending Worth Reading

Dances With Wolves will go down in history as my favorite story ending ever. It is the most emotional and meaningful ending I have seen to date and is one I will remember the lines too for years to come.

If you have never seen the movie, let me set it up for you. Dances With Wolves has just made enemies with the Union soldiers, who he had previously been a hero too. Because of this, he knows he must leave the Sioux tribe he has come to call home, or else bring war upon these people. As he is leaving, the tribe stands by in silent farewell and Wind in His Hair is up on the cliff yelling his good-bye.

This is so emotional and appropriate for the story because of who Wind in His Hair is. He is the silent type, only speaking when he needs to. He is the fight and ask questions later kind of man. At the beginning, he was the one advocating that the tribe kill the white man (Dances With Wolves, or John) who has come into there territory. He is the one who was slow to trust. And now he is the one most remiss to let go.

If you have never seen Dances With Wolves, I highly suggest that you do. It is an amazing movie.

Dances With Wolves has the kind of ending we should all strive for. Not necessarily sad and emotional, but
an ending worth reading. Worth seeing.

I can not tell you how many books I have read where the ending did not live up to the story. Where it dropped the epic tale in the dust. Make your ending worth reading. Make it worth something to the story. It does not need to have a cliffhanger or conflict to worth while. Just let it show us how your characters have grown.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Shadowed by Grace- Cara Putman

18113509My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: Shadowed by Grace is the first in a stirring new series of stand-alone historical suspense novels by acclaimed author Cara C. Putman. Desperate to save her dying mother, Rachel accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy to captures images dangerously close to the front lines of WWII. Her real motive – to find the father she never knew -- an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive. It’s an unlikely situation for love and faith to flourish, but soon Rachel not only finds herself, but also her long-lost earthly father, and ultimately, the man her Heavenly father created to cherish and provide for her.

My Thoughts: When I first saw this, I was interested because it had to do with the monuments men. With the movie soon coming out about them, I thought it would be interesting to learn about them somewhat before hand. I was disappointed to find little information on how the monuments men actually worked. Scott goes from place to place to save art, yet most of those interactions are glossed over and there is no real idea of what he is doing.

The romance was cute, but a bit predictable. Scott and Rachel continuously bump into each other. While this makes sense in some instances, that they always meet up in different cities outside of their orders, it was unbelievable. To those who know the history of the war, it was rare to find anyone after the way, let alone during it. It was simply too many coincidences.

As I said, Scott and Rachel made a cute couple, and outside of the war I would have enjoyed their story. However, as a history love as well as a romance reader, I could not overcome my disappointment in the lack of information.

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Outcasts- Jill Williamson

17679367My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: The remnant from Glenrock is now living as rebels within the Safe Lands, looking for a way to find purpose in their lives. When a young rebel is murdered and his death points to a rebel leader, it's hard to know who to trust.

Levi tries to organize a plan to free the children and fights for respect as elder over those who'd rather go their own way. Omar tries to change his image of a traitor by donning a costume and going out into the night as a vigilante hero. And Mason stumbles onto a shocking secret about the Safe Lands meds, but his investigation just might get them all liberated.

My Thoughts: Outcasts offers a very real view of sibling rivalry and the temptations of the world. The oldest of four, I felt for each of these characters. Levi, who just wanted to protect his brothers. Omar, who did not want to live in Levi's shadow. And Mason, who wanted the freedom to choose his own path. I understood their pain because I saw a little of each of my siblings and my self in each of the brothers.

The world's temptations are difficult to fight, and the brothers show different was that temptations affect us. How they can ruin our lives. I liked that each brother struggled in his own way and that none are perfect.

I wish that Jill had gone more in depth with the science of the plague. As a medic, Mason should have had more to say about it. I also have to say that the "Owl" seemed silly to me. I would have preferred that he did something more along the lines of what Shay did (can't tell you what because that is a spoiler).

Still, I enjoyed the conflict the brothers and the world they have found themselves in. I can't wait for the next story.

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Shadowed by Grace- Apology for empty post

Sorry about having the empty post for Shadowed by Grace. I was supposed to take part in the tour today, but do to a death in the family, I was unable to. I forgot to take down the post I had scheduled ahead of time. Once again, I apologize. The review will hopefully come up sometime next week.