Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fantastical Guest Post Event- Final Post


 Thank You!

Thank you guys so much for stopping by and taking part. We had a great turn out. If you would like to still read the guest posts, you can find those below. Remember that the main giveaway will end at 12a EST on Dec. 30th, so make sure to enter if you haven't already (or comment on this post and earn another). I hope to see you here during the summer event in 2016. Have a Happy New Year!

Posts:

R. J. Larson and Writing Controversy- Winner Hayley B.
Jaye L. Knight and Non-Magic- Winner Rebecca D.
Patrick W. Carr and Characterization- Winner to be announced


Main Giveaway: The choice of book is between Emissary by John Locke and To Win Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 28, 2015

At Love's Bidding- Regina Jennings

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.

Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.


My Thoughts: I did not find this book as enjoyable as the first in the series. Whereas in the first novel the hero and heroine came from similar social classes and there was a strong conflict of mistaken identity and mistrust, this novel had a heroine and hero of completely different social classes with a conflict of misinterpretation of facts. While these conflicts can often be enjoyable, Miranda (and even at many points Wyatt) described the Ozark people in a fairly stereotypical, backwoods manner, leaving a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

The romance between Miranda and Wyatt was good, with Wyatt truly shining as a hero in the last half of the novel when he started to overcome his insecurities. There was also some great dialogue involving rhubarb pie and "Lady Godiva", that I found delightfully comical.

At Love's Bidding had its moments, most of them interactions between just Miranda and Wyatt. Yet I did not care for the representation of many of the other characters. They fell flat to me, like cutouts of real people. I still plan to read the next book, if there is one, as I had really enjoyed the first. I just was not a fan of this.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Patrick Carr and Characterization- Fantastical Guest Post

Characterization –

What makes a memorable character? Why are we so attracted to some characters versus others? How can I make my characters jump off the page and at the same time be someone with whom my readers identify? 

These are some of the common questions writers of all stripes and experience levels wrestle with as we craft our stories. For those of us who are drawn to write literary fiction, these questions are paramount to the story process since the story must flow from the characterization itself. But even for those of us who write genre fiction, characterization is a necessary skill we must acquire (can anyone ever really master it?) in order to better connect with our readers. How many times have you read the review, or perhaps written it? “The characters were two dimensional. Everyone seemed to be the same and no one really jumped off the page.”

While I don’t pretend to have mastered any facet of characterization, I have noticed that the majority of my positive reviews have commented on my characters. One of my editors at Bethany House even went so far as to tell me, “You write characters like a woman.”

Yes, it was a compliment.

So, what I’d like to do is share with you three quick tips that I use to help me create characters that make an impact. This is by no means an exhaustive treatise on the subject, but I’m hopeful a few bullet points will give you a quick means of creating more three dimensional characters.
  1. Give every one of your major characters, and most of your secondary characters, a secret. This was so important to me when I wrote “The Staff and the Sword” series that I wrote it down and reminded myself of it repeatedly. My main character’s secret was the reason behind his drunkenness. The men around him were trying to keep their illegal hunt for the next king secret. Nearly every character in the series had a secret they were desperate to keep hidden and I made sure to put that secret in their character profile and read it often. By doing this I was able to write scenes that never lacked for motivation on the part of my characters. Their actions, just like people in real life, might have been incomprehensible for a while, but when the secret came out, all became clear. It’s a great tool and one I still use. After all, who among us doesn’t hold something secret in their past or in their heart.

  2. Assign your characters a face. I learned this one from a good friend of mine who happens to be a romance writer. She shared with me her penchant for using One Note to keep a catalog for all her characters and she usually based them on the currently most popular actors or actresses. I approached it a bit differently, using more ordinary-looking people, but the end result was the same. Every time I introduced a new character I would find their likeness. Search engines are great for this. I just type in the facial features I want and voila! Instant characters. Of course, many times I will use people I know. I don’t think I’ve written a book yet that didn’t have at least one of my sons in it.

  3. For my final tip, I’m going to suggest a piece of advice from Sol Stein, one of the foremost authorities on writing. Make your character want something. Then, make sure he or she doesn’t get it. I fell in love with this piece of advice the first time I heard it and when I took it and coupled it with number 1, above, I knew I’d found the means to create fully realized characters. For example, in “The Staff and the Sword,” my main character, Errol, desperately wants a drink. But why? Because the secret he holds within his heart is one he wants to keep hidden even from himself. More recently, in my new book “The Shock of Night,” Willet Dura is desperate to be free from his night-walks. Why? Because the circumstances under which they occur threaten to expose the broken nature of his mind.
So there you have it. I hope you will find these few tips useful and that they might lead you to deeper characterization for your stories.

 
 Biography-

Patrick W. Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of cold war tensions. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee. Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick’s day gig for the last eight years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist, and he wrestles with the complexity of improvisation on a daily basis. While Patrick enjoys reading about himself, he thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.



Giveaway- Patrick is giving away a physical copy of The Shock of Night to one winner within the continental US.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Main Giveaway-
Choice of book is either Emissary by John Locke, or To Win Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Golden Braid- Melanie Dickerson

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.


My Thoughts: The last couple books I read of Melanie's were honestly not my favorite and I had kind of given up on her (I'm sorry). However, I was sent The Golden Braid for review and found that I liked it almost as much as the first book of her's that I had read.

Like all the princesses, Rapunzel is a kind person, but that doesn't stop her from being distrustful and wary. And unlike in The Princess Spy, she is capable of taking care of herself and defending others. As in the movie, Tangled, she is super talented (though she has a few more skills this time) and is unafraid to seek out what she wants in life.

Overall, the story reminded me far more of Tangled than any other version of Rapunzel that I can remember, though her dreams did hint at other versions. I'm glad that the Fiction Guild surprised me with this book for review, as sadly I probably would not have read it other wise. Make sure you don't pass it up yourself!

I received this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Very Own Short Story and Splickety's Lightning Blog

I am so very excited to tell you that Splickerty's Lightning Blog published my short story Family Stickers yesterday morning. This is my first published work and I would love it if you all stopped by to take a look at it! Comments would be greatly appreciated as well.


"It melts seconds after touching the glass, yet a thin layer collects over what is left of Keith’s happy family: a father, a daughter, and a shadow of the past."--Excerpt from Family Stickers.



Want to know what the story is all about? Hop over to Splickety's Lightning Blog to read this short (800 word) story.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jaye L. Knight and Non-Magic- Fantastical Guest Post

Non-Magical Fantasy

When you think fantasy, you think magic, right? I mean, fantasy and magic seem to go hand in hand. It can be a very controversial topic, and one that keeps many readers away from the fantasy genre, even if it’s Christian fantasy. That definitely makes it a bit harder to market Christian fantasy if it is automatically assumed to contain magic. I have my own opinions on magic in fiction and have read Christian book series that contain magic (Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, anyone?), however, I write non-magical fantasy. 

It wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part. I think, in a way, it was because of my love for historical fiction. You see, I started out as a historical romance author. I LOVE history. But I also love fantasy and the unlimited creativity and possibilities it presents. So my solution to this, is to write fantasy with a historical feel to it. My fantasy worlds may contain different races of people and creatures, but you won’t find any characters wielding magic. It may not be typical of most fantasy, but isn’t that every author’s job—to offer something a little bit different? And I hope that, perhaps, someone who ordinarily wouldn’t pick up a fantasy book because of magic may take a chance on Ilyon Chronicles and be able to enjoy the adventure and message that can be found in a fantasy world.


Bio:
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. To learn more about Jaye and her work, visit: www.jayelknight.com



Resistance Text:
 
“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.” 


Could God ever love a half-blood society looks on with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair and her twin brother live every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are put in danger. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.


Giveaway:
Jaye is giving away an Ilyon Chronicles Bookmark from her Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/listing/237960336/bronze-dragon-bookmark-your-choice-of
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Main Giveaway: Choice of book is either Emissary by John Locke, or To Win Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 14, 2015

All is Calm/ All is Bright- Colleen Coble

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: All is Calm

Brendan Waddell has always considered Bluebird Ranch a little piece of heaven: an idyllic ranch that pairs abused children with abused horses, run by one of his marine buddies. Now, it seems just the place to spend Christmas recovering from an on-the-job injury.


Lauren Everman first came to the ranch as a foster kid, but now knows it's the perfect hideout. As the witness to a murder, Lauren needs somewhere to lie low. Her beauty immediately catches Brendan's attention-- but so does her secretive behavior. This Special Ops Intel man knows a woman on the run when he sees one. Can he trust her, or is she putting the ranch at risk? One thing is certain: he's going to do everything he can to keep her safe so he can see what magic Christmas brings.

All is Bright

As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friend, Elin Summerall. But when Delilah's car is forced off the road and into the ocean, she finally has to admit that the strange phone calls she's been receiving lately may be more than just pranks.

Sheriff Tom Bourne has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he's determined to protect her. He hopes to win her heart by giving her the surprise gift of a lifetime.. but first he has to make sure nothing happens to her before Christmas Day.

It's the season of miracles. But will both Erin and Delilah get the ones they need this holiday season?


My Thoughts: All is Bright was an exciting mystery with a lot of suspense for such a short story. I really enjoyed reading about Tom and Delilah and how they finally found the courage to admit they had feelings for each other. While the villain was not the most believable, the rest of the story was amazing.

You might have noticed, however, that I started with the second story first. This is because I did not care overly much for All is Calm. The conflict itself seemed overblown in this story and it was one of insta-love, which I am not a fan of. Lauren and Brendan were great characters, I just couldn't believe that they would get together so soon after meeting.

The rating I have for this book is the average of the two stories' scores. All is Calm would be about a 3 for me while All is Bright was a 4. I know that if you only want to read one of them, you can pick them up seperatly for your kindle, just not in print.

I received this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.


Visit this link to enter for a chance to win the full Christmas Novella collection (That's 2 books and 4 novellas) from Colleen Coble.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

R. J. Larson and Writing Controversay- Fantastical Guest Post


Writing Controversy

My latest work, Valor, is based in part on the much-debated, controversial text from Judges 11:30-40, concerning Jephthah and his courageous daughter. Their story stirred my imagination from the first time I read it as an eight-year-old. I remember staring at the page in my Children’s Bible, greatly distressed and seriously resenting that particular story’s ending. Why had that girl’s father made such a rotten vow? Why had she agreed to fulfill her father’s vow—couldn’t she have run away? (No, I was never tempted to run away from home when I was a child, just sayin’.) But I wished I could change the ending for her.

Fast-forward decades later. 

Last year, while I was writing Queen (inspired by Esther and other scriptures set in a fantasy realm) it occurred to me that the Agocii lands were an almost ideal place to present the story of Jephthah and his daughter. Much as Israel during the time of Judges—when there was no king, but each person did what was right in his own eyes, when pagan beliefs and customs surrounded those who followed the Lord, and when wars and conflicts presented themselves at every turn—the Agocii reflected spiritual and social turmoil similar to Israel’s during the time Judges. It seemed a perfect place to present Jephthah’s story.

I chose the warrior Vsevold from Queen as my fantasy-realm Jephthah, and with Aniya’s name chosen for his daughter by a friend, I turned my attention to researching the verses which had distressed me when I was a child. Almost immediately, I found numerous web sites citing the debate over Jephthah’s story. The original Hebrew of the text is a marvelous multilayered and versatile language, which often conveys multiple meanings. In Jephthah’s case, this meant that his story, and mine, had two potential and equally defensible possible endings. First, as the most basic and straightforward translations suggest, Jephthah could have actually sacrificed his daughter as he vowed. Or, according to the nuances of some of the Hebrew words in those verses, Jephthah might have dedicated her to the Lord—to serve the Lord’s House, some of the debaters insisted, to live the remainder of her life unmarried and a virgin. The dedication theory also sets aside any quandaries concerning Jephthah’s hero-status mentioned in Hebrews 11, placing Jephthah in the company of  Gideon, Barak and Samson.
 
Could Jephthah’s daughter have survived the threat of sacrifice? I certainly hoped so. Whatever happened, I knew above all that the Lord abhorred human sacrifice, and this must play out strongly in Valor. I dug through the debates and accompanying commentaries, and found several mentions from different sources that the “dedication” theory had first been presented in the early middle ages when it was common for women to become nuns, never marrying in order to serve the Lord. While that gave me pause during research, I still found merit in both sides of the debate.

After reading all the debates, looking up the Hebrew root words, and studying the circumstances surrounding the book of Judges, I had to make a decision. My main hesitations were:

1. Deuteronomy 23:3. (An illegitimate man many not enter the assembly of the Lord, nor many his descendants down to the tenth generation.) Jephthah and his daughter were considered ceremonially unclean due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his birth, therefore she couldn’t have served in the Lord’s House as some Dedicated theorists argued. (Though she could have been isolated for the remainder of her life, unwed and a virgin.)


2. The apparently late emergence of the dedication theory. 


3. Numbers 30:2. (If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath and obligates himself by his own word, he must not break his word. He must do everything he said.)

Even if that vow displeased the Lord? This made me hesitate.

Certainly the Lord would never approve of human sacrifice. Therefore … and yet ….
Being fallible as so many other leaders from the Scriptures, such as David, Samson, and Abraham, could Jephthah (within the chaotic framework of his times) have fallen prey to a rash and desperate vow in an attempt to bargain with the Lord, when faith in the Lord’s provision for victory would have been enough? 

Could Jephthah have committed a terrible sin, yet still be regarded as righteous based solely on the fact that he believed in and followed the Lord?

No matter which way the book might end, it would not be happy. 

After weighing both sides of the controversy, I wrote Valor, praying through each chapter. Was it easy? No. Yet I hope you’ll enjoy the story and love the characters as I do. 

Blessings,
R. J. 



Giveaway:
Larson is giving away an ebook copy Valor. This giveaway is open internationally. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Main Giveaway: Choice of book is either Emissary by John Locke, or To Win Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Shock of Night- Patrick Carr- CSFF Tour

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description:When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it's as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he's been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that's not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he's pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world--a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive.


My Thoughts: At first, I didn't like Willet. I thought he was a bit arrogant and judgmental. Then, after a couple chapters, I started to feel an odd kinship with him. He has lost a lot in his life and lives under the weight of a terrible secret, as well as seems to be able to count the number of people he trusts and deeply cares about on one hand. His is a difficult existence that has been hard won. So while I still can't say that he is the nicest guy, I ended up caring about him.

The story is fairly fast paced, taking place over about a week. It is full of danger and extremely high stakes, making for a gripping read. Unlike Patrick's last series, The Shock of Night is pretty dark and ultimately depressing, with only a hint of light after the dawn. I'm still a little brokenhearted after the ending, and am sitting here wondering what I'm going to do while I wait to find out what happens in the next book.

There were moments when I was confused. Those usually involved conversations between Willet and Bolt that read basically like this:

Bolt- You know what this means?
Willet- Of course.
*Me clutching book*- Tell me!

 If not for those instances, I probably would have given the book a full five stars instead of just four. I loved the story and the relationships between the characters, I just don't like being the last to know what's going on. I can't wait to read the second book.

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

And come back on Dec. 22nd to enter into a giveaway by the author for The Shock of Night.


Tour Participants: While I did not receive my review copy through CSFF, I am still posting along with the tour. You can read other reviews for this book at the following links.

  Nissa 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fantastical Guest Post Event- Giveaway

Fantastical Event:
It's December, that time of year for buying gifts and giving them. It's also the time when a number of Fantasy authors are releasing new books. This year, as part of a Guest Post Event, there will be three authors posting here at Backing Books to share with you their new titles. Each is having a giveaway, as well am I, so stop by for each post to enter in and learn about new books you might like!


Schedule:

-Event Kick-off Post: Dec. 1st

-R.J. Larson: Dec. 8th

-Jaye L. Knight: Dec. 15th
-Patrick W. Carr: Dec. 22nd
-Wrap-up Post: Dec. 29th




Main Giveaway:

I'm giving away an awesome (at least I think it is) prize for this event. It is a pair of touchscreen gloves, some hot chocolate, and choice of either Emissary by Thomas Locke or To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino. Winner will be chosen at the end of December. Open to US entrants only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Respectable Actress- Dorothy Love

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Description: When the illustrious India Hartley is accused of murder, she has to uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, the famous and beautiful actress, is now alone in the world after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.

A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.

Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia low country and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.


My Thoughts:  This book had ups and downs for me. The opening page is gripping, and the conflict directly after is engaging. But after the first couple chapters, the story waned to interests and conflicts I cared little about. Toward the middle, the story picked back up again with the trial keeping me interested. However, I was soon upset and confused when it appears that a whole day of the trail is skipped only for the reader to pick back up with the story in the most befuddling of circumstances. This, unfortunately, was how I felt about much of the book.

Don't get me wrong, the murder conflict was interesting in itself and I would have loved if the book focused more on this aspect. Yet much of the book focuses on issues outside the murder (bored children, long dead relatives, nosy neighbors, ect.). While these issues did lead to answers about the murder, I found them bothersome to read because they seemed to cut out the murder trial's tension. As well, both India and Philip come upon theories that baffled me and I felt like I could not follow their logic.

Dorothy Love writes beautifully and her history is spot on, however her story did not grip my attention all the way through. While there were some truly great scenes, the story was dominated by scenes I didn't care to read, especially when the story jumps around in certain places.

I received this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room- Shelley Gray

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description:  Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.


My Thoughts: I really loved this story, though not as a romance. The characterization and themes were what drew me in and made sure I read it all the way through. While the book is marketed as historical romance, I did not find much to be "romantic" about it. The hero is attentive and gallant but there was not much of a "spark" between the two characters. They don't hold hands, exchange glances, or even kiss until the last page. So if you want a romance, I don't suggest this book.

However, if you are like me and can take or leave the romance because it is the history and characters that you are looking for, then there will be enough romance to make it worth it. Sebastian is one of the most realistic bad boy heroes I have ever read, and I loved him for it. He is not romantic in the slightest but he is fiercely loyal and I loved him for it.

Now Lydia was not my favorite, but the other characters made up for her lack. I found myself wishing the whole series were just stories about these four characters' lives and struggles. Once you get to the end of the story, you see that there is still plenty of room for Sebastian and Lydia to learn and grow as people. I love how Shelley portrayed them as real people, without all their faults and sins fixed and tidied up at the end. It fit well with the end theme of even the most downtrodden and faulty people are not too far gone for God to redeem them.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Power of the Matchmaker- by Karey White and others

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description:          
 A prequel novella to the POWER OF THE MATCHMAKER Series
                     Mystical . . . Beautiful . . . Romantic . . .
                        12 novels by 12 bestselling authors
                          Released once a month in 2016


Read the matchmaker’s story to find out where it all starts . . .

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.

 

Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker.


My Thoughts: I've been taking a class on Chinese religions, so when I found this novella up for review, I couldn't pass it up. I'm so glad I did, because the novella so well written and perfectly incorporated Chinese traditions and beliefs.

The novella prequels a series of books, each by book by a different author with one released each month of 2016. Now, since the other books are written by different people and are all set in different time periods, I don't know if the other books will be as good as this but I am interested in trying them none the less.

I received this book through I am a Reader, Not a Writers ebook review program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bathsheba- Angela Hunt

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: After sending his army to besiege another king's capital, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier's wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king's household.

Combining historical facts with detailed fiction, Angela Hunt paints a realistic portrait of the beautiful woman who struggled to survive the dire results of divine judgment on a king with a divided heart.


My Thoughts: Bathsheba by Angela Hunt is the first book I have read about this particular character. Followers of my reviews might have noticed that I love Biblical fiction and I enjoyed the first book in this series about Esther. But while I enjoyed certain aspects of this book, it was not my favorite.

Bathsheba is not one of the most compelling characters. While her life is tragic and I felt bad for her, she didn't do anything to influence the story personally. It seemed almost like her beauty was all that mattered about her, both to David and to the plot as she only ever observed what went on around her. Though she was kind, she was not compelling.

Though I would have preferred a narrator who took a greater role of action in the story, I did enjoy reading about Solomon's childhood and the conflict between his brothers, Amnon and Absalom. I would recommend this book to anyone who does not mind a bystanding narrator to Biblical events.

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest- J. A. Myhre

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: The Adventure of a Lifetime

Ten-year-old Mu, orphaned as a toddler, has lived his entire life in the heart of Africa. For as long as he can remember, he has served in the household of a great-uncle where he is unloved and ignored. In his drudgery-filled life, Mu has little hope of happiness and little hope that anything will ever change. But one day everything does change. On his way to draw water one morning, Mu is astonished when a chameleon greets him by name and announces that they will embark on a quest together. And what a quest it turns out to be! Mu faces danger and finds unexpected allies as they journey through an everchanging landscape. Through his adventure, Mu learns many things about himself. Along with Mu, you will walk through Africa, encountering good and evil. Read carefully and you just may find out who you are too.

For 8-14 year olds


My Thoughts: This book certainly has it merits, mostly in setting. For any parent wishing to give their kids a view of life outside their own everyday world, A Chameleon, a Boy, and A Quest is perfect. Written by a mother who lived in this environment, the story has a full and colorful setting, depicting life as it often is in African villages. As well, it manages to teach lessons that are often difficult for children to except from their parents, instead presenting it from the mouth of a wise chameleon. For children who are used to dogs and cats, the book offers a large array of foreign animals for them to picture.

Yet at times I found myself wondering if a child would fully understand the story. It uses a lot of "big words", some of which I had trouble with (particularly "gesticulating"), and referenced animals that I have never heard of. The back cover describes the novel as being for young adults as well, which works vocabulary wise, but I'm not sure that many teenagers would enjoy a book about a talking chameleon and a ten year old boy.

If you're looking for a book that challenges your children (or yourself) to improve their vocabulary and learn about new cultures, this book is perfect. But if you want a book your child can read and enjoy all on their own, I'm not sure this is it.

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Girl from the Train- Irma Joubert

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.


My Thoughts: To my knowledge, this is the first novel I've read that was translated into English (outside of a few I had to read in high school and have pushed from my memory). For that reason, I had been slightly worried that some aspects of the story would have been lost in translation, either because of differing cultures or else words that had no exact definition in English. I was pleased to find that if anything was lost in translation, I didn't notice.

The Girl from the Train was a wonderful read. While most of the plot takes place after WWII, it was still interesting to see how Europe coped after the war, as well as how the effects were felt all the way to South Africa. My favorite conflict through the story was that between nationalities, languages, and religions that Gretl and Jakob had to navigate in order to survive.

* Now for a spoiler* From the beginning, I knew that the story would have to end in a romance between Jakob and Gretl. It was the only relational conclusion I could picture since Jakob never took up the role as father to Gretl, even though he could have. And while I rooted for it before it happened (it is not the first time I have seen a 15 year age gap), I was not sure of how I felt about it once it did happen. Even though they were a couple, Jakob still bossed her around like a parent and Gretl whined and manipulated him like she was his child. It made it hard for me to believe they were in love.
*End spoiler*

The part I really had issue did not come about until near the end, leaving the rest of the story to enjoy. I hope to see more translations of Irma's books in the future.

I received this book from the publisher through The Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Raising Dragons Graphic Novel- Bryan Davis and James Art Ville

Raising Dragons was one of my favorite novels growing up and is the first book I ever convinced my brother to read as well. Now that it has been made into a graphic novel, I'm excited to share an interview with the book's illustrator, James Art Ville. If you have any questions for him, please leave them in the comments.




1) What was your favorite part of working with this story?
Storyboarding Example
My favorite part was drawing the thumbnails for each panel/page. This is also called “storyboarding”. Although I have the script to determine the events of each panel, I still muster a lot of creativity when composing each panel to depict each scene in the best and most interesting way. I like to keep them dynamic so that no two panels are exactly alike.

2) Can you tell us about your experience with Kickstarter for this project?
Although I didn’t create this project during the early stages of Kickstater’s existence, I feel like since then I heard more and more news about Kickstarter’s growth and success. It was very easy to create the project and manage it through the Kickstarter project dashboard. The funding period was very tense for me because it was at a time of my life where I had recently become self employed, and the outcome of the project would have had great impact on which path I would take next in my career. Every day I would check to see if more backers had pledged. It was pretty tight in the end and looking back now I can breathe a sigh of relief and I am grateful for where it has taken me, professionally speaking.

3) Which of the illustrations was your favorite?
I always love drawing people more than anything, so my favorite part was drawing the characters. Even more specifically, the more mythical the character, the more I enjoyed it. Bonnie Silver, Clefsphere, and knights in armor were much more enjoyable to illustrate than normal people (sorry Walter :P).

4) How did you come to work with Bryan Davis?
My wife was a fan of Bryan Davis’s books. One summer, Bryan was making an appearance at my local bookstore and Shiloh wanted me to draw something to give him as a gift (fan art, you know?). Bryan was pleased with the drawing. We asked him if he ever considered having his stories adapted as graphic novels. He said it was something that he thought about and I offered to do it, half jokingly. I was quite surprised a few months later to receive a message from him asking if I was interested in drawing Raising Dragons. I was just as giddy about the project as any other die hard DIOM fan. It was a project that the two of us wanted to see happen, even if it meant self publishing.

5) Do you have any other works or webpages you would like to share?
There is another book that I illustrated for Bryan Davis. It’s a children’s book called Beelzebed. It features a young Walter Foley from Raising Dragons as he literally battles with his bed in a humorous tale about bedtime and the battle of the wills. My books and my personal gallery can be accessed by visiting jamesartville.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and the other socials.


Short Biography:
James Art Ville is a digital illustrator and graphic designer. When he’s not designing
websites for clients, he’s illustrating book covers, children’s books, and graphic novels for both the young and old. He loves super heroes, playing video games, and reading fantasy novels. He and his wife live in Oregon with their three children.


Raising Dragons Description:
Graphic novel based on the bestselling book Raising Dragons. This book brings to life in 150 pages of colorful illustrations the beloved fantasy novel by Bryan Davis.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre- Laura Frantz

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.


My Thoughts: I'm starting to notice a trend where the description on the back of  the book is more like a summery of the final fourth of the book, not the actual plot. Is it because the rest of the plot sounds far lest gripping? I don't know, but it seems a little deceptive for any reason. So, I've descided to write my own book description (which I never do).

~Five years after assisting General Seamus Ogilvy's wife in labor, Sophie Menzies is the disgraced daughter of a Tory. Deserted by her family because of her Patriot believes and shunned by her town because of her family, Sophie has found her self in financial ruin. To make matters worse, her childhood home has been confiscated and is to be turned over to a soldier she has never met.

Now that Seamus has returned as a widower and single father, Sophie finds herself the recipient of his kindness. What first begins a friendship turns to an arrangement of convenience, one that fills both their needs. All except for that of love.

When a woman from Seamus' past shows up in the Tall Acre parlor, it is a matter of time before they discover just who will be the Mistress of Tall Acre.~


Now, I must say that just who this mysterious woman from Seamus' past was surprised me. I was expecting a completely different person, but was pleased with this end result. Getting to this point in the novel did drag a little bit. There were scenes that I felt were not needed and I wish that other parts had been drawn out more. Yet the story was still interesting to read and I finished it in couple of days.

Overall, I believe that Mistress of Tall Acre was well worth the read, even if it was not exactly what the description said it was.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Memory Weaver- Jane Kirkpatrick

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother's grave--and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter's captivity.

When Eliza is finally given her mother's diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage?

Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart. Readers will find themselves swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.


My Thoughts: The description of this novel hints at a story in which an adult Eliza struggles to weave her memories of past hurt with current memories of hope while living in the very place she fears. This was the premise I was expecting, but not the one I found. In reality, The Memory Weaver begins in Eliza's teen years, and it is not until halfway through the book that even the first of the two children mentioned are born. It is farther still until Eliza and her husband move back to the place she was taken hostage.

While Kirkpatrick's way with words is beautiful and often times perfectly descriptive, I found the story lacking in any form of interesting plot. Toward the middle, there is a conflict between her and her husband which I found compelling and would have liked to take part more in the narrative. Outside of that, there were moments of interesting dialogue and interaction between characters, but it was overall mundane, daily activities only colored by Eliza's way of look at them.

The reason I give this as high as three stars is because Kirkpatrick's writing is beautiful in its conveyance of everyday life. As well, there were moments that genuinely held my interest and attention. However, for myself, the pretty descriptions were not enough to make me care about Eliza Warren. I have read other novels based on true historical figures in which I felt like the story came to life. The Memory Weaver did not do this for me.

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

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Hive- John Otte

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: A pregnant cyborg and a teenage boy fight against intergalactic governments to protect the unborn in this novel from a Christy Award-nominated author.

Why is Zain pregnant? She belongs to the Hive, a collective of cyborgs who choose to live apart from the rest of human society. At times, the Hive rent out some of their females to produce tailor-made children for paying couples. But Zain is an engineer, not a breeder. When she finds herself separated from the Hive, she decides to find the person who she thinks ordered the baby. Surely they’ll help her find her way home.

Matthew “Scorn” Nelson has spent the better part of his teenage years cracking computer systems, causing mischief and havoc wherever he can. But the night of his greatest triumph turned into a painful memory, one he wants to erase. But that night was also his first step on a road to faith. When Zain arrives on his doorstep, Scorn is horrified. What’s he supposed to do with a pregnant teenage cyborg?

Unfortunately, he’ll have to answer that question on the run. Zain’s people want to reclaim her and terminate her pregnancy. And both the Ministrix and the Praesidium, two intergalactic governments in a constant state of cold war, want Zain’s baby for their own reasons. Will their enemies run them down? Or will Zain find a new Hive for both her and her child?


My Thoughts: The Hive deals with (at least on some level) the idea of whether or not a child can be born an accident and then if the child can be aborted for the mother's benefit. It is a great theme, especially with the social issues in America today. Tangled with this was also the idea of taking responsibility for our actions and looking out for more than just ourselves. While I think that these themes could have been explored more, I still enjoyed reading about something pertinent to modern culture even if set in the future.

My one true complaint was that I felt Zain's solution to their problem came about a little too easy. I thought it would have taken a bit more effort, especially after the ordeal Mat and the others had just gone through for her. Maybe if she had contemplated this solution before, I would have found it more believable.

That said, I loved the intricacies of the politics Otte has created for his world, as well has his use of a hive to symbolize the way Christianity should work. With everyone working to the greater good it the Kingdom, supporting and helping each other without question, but with the freewill to chose. I hope to see a sequel coming soon, or else another stand alone in this world.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Traitor's Heir- Anna Thayer

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: In an epic and mystical tale that resonates with modern times, the young Eamon Goodman goes on a journey of discovery. A journey which sees him taking an increasingly pivotal role in the battle between the rival forces of the king and the master, and takes him from being a young soldier in his home of Edesfield to being a fast-rising hero in the dense and rotten city of Dunthruik.

Under the watchful eye of Lord Cathair, in the loving arms of Lady Alessia Turnholt, and torn between enemy forces, Eamon’s experiences lead him to question the nature and true meaning of some of the most important things in life - love and friendship, loyalty and honour, and who he really is. But will the answers he finds lead him to become true to himself and true to his name? Will they lead him to become a good man?


My Thoughts: When I first saw The Traitor's Heir available for review, I thought it was going to be an enthralling read. The description and cover were fascinating, with a premise I wanted to see explored. Unfortunately, it did not fully live up to my expectations. While there is a good bit to commend about the novel, there is also enough to critic that I was not captivated.

For starters, Eamon is fairly likable character. He is people pleasing and honorable, even at the cost of himself. While those around him insist he look out for himself, he instead looks out for those around him. He is also relateable in his desire to do something worth while and struggles with contradictory messages in the world around him.

Yet as likable as Eamon is, most of the other characters have nothing that sets them as enjoyable characters. The true King has the unfortunate depiction of being a mortal king, who has now power to see the future or any other "divine" characteristics, and yet shown as so perfect (as a symbol of God) that he followed almost without question. I found it hard to care about him one way or the other, and found no worthy reason for Eamon to serve this mortal king.

As to the Master, who is clearly a symbol of Satan, there was also some issues with his depiction. I spent much of the book confused as to whether or not he was mortal as well (as he seems to have powers and has lived for at least 200 years). Other than his Hands, who are depicted as sickly in color, and his attempts to stamp out all followers of the King, he did not seem like a despotic ruler. His people lived in peace and prospered, so that if he were a mortal king and not daemonic, I think he would have been a better ruler than the King.

With a story so laden with symbolism, I would have expected the exact nature of the King and Master to have been more clear, with the Master's reign far more vile. While Eamon is a likable and relatable character, I did not quiet buy into the world. Knowing this, I believe that readers could enjoy The Traitor's Heir, it simply was not for me.

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shades of Doon- Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: After cheating death, Veronica Welling is determined to savor every moment in her idyllic kingdom with both her true love and best friend by her side at last. At the same time, Mackenna Reid is enthusiastically building her new life and a theater with her prince. But just as their dreams of happiness are within reach, the world Vee and Kenna have chosen is ripped away, leaving them to face their most horrific challenge yet—their old lives.

Thrust out of Doon, the best friends are confronted with tormentors from their past and no way to return to their adopted land. When the MacCrae brothers rush to their rescue, the girls' situation turns from nightmare to modern-day fairy tale. But their happiness could be short lived: unbeknownst to them, someone in their closest circle is aiding the witch of Doon in her bid to destroy the kingdom once and for all.


My Thoughts: After the cliffhanger from the last book, I was expecting Shades of Doon to be an emotional roller-coaster with more action and adventure than the last two. Instead, I read a book that was just the same as the others. While this is not inherently bad, progressing books in a series are supposed to amp up the tension of the overall series and Shades of Doon did not give that to me.

Now in the third of four books, the heroines are now dedicated to their Callings and and their heroes. While there is some tension left in Vee's hesitance to get married, there is no conflict as Jamie was willing to let her set the pace of their relationship. Where as this hurtle could have been a strong plot point in keeping the romantic tension going, it felt flat to me because Jamie was so understanding.

As to the other conflicts, the cliff hanger of the last book which I had thought would be the driving plot line, ended up taking little part in the story and then ended altogether before halfway through the book. Then, instead of battling a great evil, Vee and Kenna spent a good portion of the book shopping and showing off their boyfriends. While parts of this scenario were funny, they detracted from my investment in the story when I wanted to see them in Doon and saving the kingdom.

I can't say that Shades of Doon was any worse than the previous two books. If you enjoyed those, you are likely to enjoy this as well. I just found that at the point it was in this series, there should have been more. I still intend to read the last book when it comes out, as I want to see these characters happily-ever-after, I just hope there is more conflict than in this.

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Irish Meadows- Susan Anne Mason

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Irish immigrant James O’Leary has spent his life building Irish Meadows into a thriving horse farm and is not about to let hard economic times threaten its success. He intends for his daughters to marry prosperous men–ones who will secure the family’s rightful place in society, and at the same time, guarantee the future of Irish Meadows. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their father expects them to marry well. Yet despite his wishes, Brianna, the quieter sister, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards. When stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from college and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?


My Thoughts: Irish Meadows was a surprising read. It started out some what slow, with an intro chapter that did little to grab my attention, but soon had me fully wrapped up in the family dynamics. Rather than revolving around only one hero and heroine, Irish Meadows has two of each, with the sisters wrecking havoc in each others' relationships. I enjoyed reading about the sisters' romances simultaneously and loved the way Susan wove the four point of views into one story. It was a refreshing read after so many reads where the sisters are at odds due to family complications, and yet only one perspective is shown.

When I first began reading the book, I did notice some descriptions which are a bit over used in the romance genre. These continued through out the story, but I was able to overlook them because I was completely engrossed in what was going on. While I really enjoyed the honesty of the sisters' portrayal, I have to say that the hero's perspectives were my favorite. Rylan is simply an all around awesome guy and Gil was someone I wanted to see overcome his faults.

Susan Mason admittedly does not have the most unique way with words. Yet she creates characters who are real and honest, allowing the reader to connect with at least one of her many characters. I look forward to reading anything else Bethany House might publish of hers.

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

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Pharaoh's Daughter- Mesu Andrews

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile. 

     When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.


    As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?


My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book! Mesu is one of my favorite authors and this may be my favorite of her's yet. The story gripped me, making me equal parts furious and anxious to read the next page.

Anippe lives a dangerous life, walking the thin line between favor and death. With her actions, she chances the anger of her gods, her father, brother, and husband in order to save her life and chances the lives of many others to save her son. While I would normally hate a character so deceptive, her childhood trauma and young marriage allowed me to sympathize with her choices in life. That, and the knowledge that El Shaddai had a greater purpose for her choices.

The story takes place over more than seventeen years, leaving Anippe with much heartache and regret. In the end, she learns that no matter how she tries, she can not control everything and must give her prays to a God who really cares.

I'm excited to read the next book about Miriam, and look forward to its release date.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Counting on a Cowboy- Debra Clopton

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: After losing everything dear to her, Abby never wants to love again. But a certain cowboy spurs her to wonder if maybe love is worth the risk. Running from a past that haunts her, Abby Knightly is drawn to the homey town of Wishing Springs, Texas, after her favorite advice columnist found love and a home there. Maybe this small town could offer hope and healing and a future for Abby too . . . if she's brave enough to reach out and take it.

Bo Monahan isn't interested in the new romantic destination his little town has become--or the women who might be looking at him like he's their next Mr. Right. Between taking care of his Pops and his growing stirrup business, he isn't looking for serious romantic commitments. But unexpectedly the young child he never knew about appears on his doorstep and Bo's world is turned upside down. 

This confirmed bachelor might not need a wife, but he sure needs a woman . . . and newcomer Abby Knightly is definitely a woman. When she comes to his rescue to help him navigate fatherhood, he slowly uncovers her own history. And suddenly Bo's thinking maybe, just maybe, together they can help each other work through the problems of the past to create a future of their own.

My Thoughts: Counting on a Cowboy is another sweet read. Though the description says Bo is a confirmed bachelor, he spends most of the trying to catch Abby's attention. And since we know that he is not typically a love'em and leave'em type of guy, it's obvious that he's after her for the right reasons.

While I liked Bo just as much as Tru, I did not relate as much to Abby as I had Maggie in the previous book. Rather than feel bad for her, I wanted to shake her whenever she lit into Rand. Even though he was a drunk, and she had lost a lot to a drunk, I still felt that there had been some leaps in logic that carried her to the place where she treated him the way she did. In the end, I felt like Pebble (a secondary character) had made more of a change in her outlook on life than Abby had.

That said, I adored Bo and Levi and seriously look forward to the next book (which I hope is about Jarrod). I can't wait to see what emotional upheaval comes with his relationship.

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

Renaissance Faire- Jane Stain

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: When handsome highlander Dall takes Emily up on stage at the renaissance fair for some Scottish dancing, the butterflies in her stomach are not from stage fright. She's a drama major who's seen River Dance a dozen times. But Dall never drops his 16th century accent, and no one ever teases him about that. There aren't any jeans or sneakers in his tent, either. 

My Thoughts: Jane Stain's novel is a little hard to rate. On the one hand, it is lighthearted and contains all the aspects of a time travel romance that people woo and ah over. I found myself completely unable to take it seriously, with the characters being adults but still needing parent permission to spend the summer at the faire, and the heroine jumping to conclusions with the scantest bits of information.

After having read it, I learned that the book had originally been published in serials, which might account for some of the holes in logic.

Renaissance Faire is by no means a serious tale. The characters are silly and often irrational. Whether the author meant it that way or not, it none the less makes a suitable read for those days when you just want to escape from all complexity.

I received this book through I'm A Reader, Not A Writer's free ebooks for review program in exchange for an honest review.