Saturday, March 30, 2019

What I've been Reading, and What I'm looking forward to...

It has been a while, and so much has happened in my life in the past three months. My son turned ONE (!!!!) and the same weekend we moved out of my in-law's house and into our own apartment. Since then there has been a lot of adjustment which is still going on.

However, somehow, while my apartment is making slow progress, I have been reading a lot of super cool books.


1. Romanov by Nadine Brandes -- Coming MAY

Romanov by [Brandes, Nadine]

This is a historical fantasy retelling of Anastasia Romanov and her family. The book does not officially come out until May, but I was blessed to be able to read an ARC.

Oh. My. Goodness.

If you are expecting it to be anything like the 1997 movie, prepare yourself: It's nothing like the 1997 movie.

When that movie came out, I did a lot of research on the Romanovs, and it was much more like the sad history than the movie, even with the fantasy elements. However, I loved what the author did with the story.  The main theme that stood out to me was the theme of forgiveness. Anastasia, or Nastya, and her family live under Bolshevik captivity for the majority of the book. They are subjected to humiliation and disrespect, and through it all, they respond with an attitude of forgiveness, and love.  But, when Nastya finds herself on one end of the firing squad, and a befriended soldier on the other end, can she forgive him?

This book definitely challenged my view of what it means to forgive someone. We like to think that forgiveness means you forget what someone does to you. We know that forgiveness means you don't hold another person's sin against them. But what happens when you can't forget what someone has done? What happens when their action has lasting consequences that you have to face every day?

This quote, in particular, challenged me:

"Part of forgiveness [is] accepting what someone has done, and the pain that comes with it, and moving on with love. Forgiveness was a personal battle that must always be fought in my heart. Daily."

If that doesn't punch you in the gut, I don't know what will. This story has some very difficult moments. In fact, most of the book has a somber tone to it, with some light-hearted jesting tossed in.  I really enjoyed Nastya and her brother Alexei's relationship. (Alexei is probably my favorite supporting character). Overall, this is truly a beautiful story of what it means to love, hope, and forgive. I hope you read and enjoy!

Pre-order your copy HERE!

2. Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall
Image result for gift of christmas past
This was a beautiful story about a foster girl who is falsely accused of a crime and seemingly abandoned by the one person she thought would have her back. Consequently, she runs away with her best friend and the two of them struggle to make their own way in the world. Ten years later, she is brought face to face with the man who abandoned her, but she must put her resentment aside and work with him for the good of a young child who has been silent since an apartment fire.

This book made me think about a lot of the stigmas attached to foster children, and difficult children in general, and how we sometimes jump to conclusions about their actions and motivations without seeking to understand where they are coming from. 

3. Hawthorne House series by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Lady of Esteem (Hawthorne House): A NovellaA Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House Book #1)An Elegant Façade (Hawthorne House Book #2)An Uncommon Courtship (Hawthorne House Book #3)An Inconvenient Beauty (Hawthorne House Book #4)

This series was a very pleasant surprise. I actually started with Book 3 and then had to start over. The series follows the four Hawthorne siblings, and their adopted sister, as each of them seek to marry for love. The writing was humorous (Ooooh how I enjoyed the banter!) but also dealt with some real issues such as how past actions can impact relationships in the present, dyslexia, communication in marriage, honesty, and trusting God.

The relationships were fully developed and not rushed, giving the reader time to really get to know each character, even in the case of the novella introducing the series. A fun, adventurous series.

4. Haven Manor series by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Search for Refuge (Haven Manor): A Haven Manor NovellaA Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book #1)A Return of Devotion (Haven Manor Book #2)

Whereas the Hawthorne House series was a fun, light-hearted read with adventure and feel-good romance, The Haven Manor series takes a much more serious tone. Kit's reputation is ruined when her best friend is mistakenly seduced by the man who was courting her. Together, the two women leave the society of London and set off on their own to live off of their dowries. Determined to help others in their situation, the two women take in the illegitimate children of aristocrats so that their mothers can have a second chance in society. They give them an education and life skills so that they can find work to support themselves when they're older.

Honestly, I'm still processing this series.

What I love about this series is that when the characters come face to face with injustice, it spurs them to act justly on behalf of someone else.

Reading this series has made me extremely thankful for my son and the fact that I have a husband and community around me that enables me to raise him. It makes my heart bleed for women and girls who, for whatever reason, have had to give up their children. It makes me thankful for the people who have stepped in to be parents to children who have no one else to love them. It makes me mindful of women in impossible situations who do not have a community of any kind to support them, and for the decisions they are faced with. It makes me want to give hope to someone else.


Here are the books I am looking forward to reading in the next several months! Click on the titles to pre-order your copies today!

1.Paladin by Sarah MacTavish - April 12th


When Lincoln calls for volunteers to put down the rebellion, four friends become soldiers for different reasons. Freedom. Justice. Love. Revenge. But they’re united by a secret… one of them is a girl in disguise.

“This is my country, and I aim to fight for it. You can help me, or get out of my way. Your choice.”
Hidden under an over-sized uniform and a false name, Saoirse Callahan strives to prove herself as strong and brave as any other soldier. But when an old enemy appears in camp, she knows it’s only a matter of time before her identity is exposed. And what will happen to her friends if she’s discovered?

“I’m quite certain what I am willing to die for. But taking a life is another matter entirely.”
Westleigh Kavanagh is a scholar, not a soldier. Still he enlists, because he believes their cause is holy–freedom for all, at any cost. When the bullets start flying, he wonders if he’s not made a terrible mistake. Too late to turn back, Westleigh prays that they’ll all make it home safely. But can his soul survive the journey?




2. Flight of the Raven by Morgan L Busse - April 30th

Flight of the Raven (The Ravenwood Saga Book #2) by [Busse, Morgan L.]Selene Ravenwood, once the heir to House Ravenwood, is now an exile. On the run and free of her family's destiny, Selene hopes to find the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking. But first she must adapt to her new life as wife to Lord Damien Maris, the man she was originally assigned to kill. 

While adjusting to her marriage and her home in the north, her power over dreams begins to grow. As the strongest dreamwalker to exist in ages, her expanding power attracts not only nightmares but the attention of the Dark Lady herself.

With a war looming on the horizon and a wicked being after her gift, Selene is faced with a choice: embrace the Dark Lady's offer, or search out the one who gave her the gift of dreamwalking. One path offers power, the other offers freedom. But time is running out, and soon her choice will be made for her.
3. The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White - June 4th

Three years into the Great War, England's greatest asset is their intelligence network--field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren't enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy who just won't give up. He's smitten quickly by the intelligent Margot, but how can he convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life's answers lie in the heart?

Amid biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.


4. Story Raider by Lindsay Franklin -- July 23rd



Deceiving an empire is a treacherous game

Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret--Gryfelle isn't the only one afflicted by the weaver's curse. As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith's heart is turned upside down, and she's not sure she can trust anyone--least of all herself.

The puppet master behind Gareth's rise to power has designs on Tanwen and the story weavers, and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent.

5. A Pursuit of Home by Kristi Ann Hunter (Haven Manor book 3) - November 5th, 2019

In early 1800s England, Jess Beauchene has spent most of her life in hiding and always on the move in an effort to leave her past far behind her. But when she learns the family she thought had died just might be alive and in danger, she knows her secrets can only stay buried for so long.

Derek Thornbury loves the past, which has led him to become an expert in history and artifacts. He knows Jess has never liked him, but when she requests his help deciphering the clues laid out in an old family diary, he can't resist the urge to solve the puzzle. 

As Jess and Derek race to find the hidden artifact before her family's enemies, they learn as much about each other as they do about the past. But can their search to uncover the truth and set history right lead to a future together?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour: Interview, Spotlight, and Review!


Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour Header


Welcome again to my blog!

If you are fans of the Illyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight or The Blades of Acktar series by Tricia Mingerink, I have some pretty exciting news for you! Both of them are releasing the fifth book in their respective series this month!

Most of you have read my interviews and reviews for Tricia Mingerink's The Blades of Acktar series before, and know what a HUGE fan I am! I was of course over the moon when I found out the series would be continuing!

Jaye L. Knight's books are new to me, but I am SOOOO ready to jump on the Illyon Chronicle fandom because her books sound awesome! In this post I will be spotlighting both books, interviewing the authors about their works, and sharing my review of Decree. Whether you are fans of one or both series, or if they are both new to you, I hope you enjoy reading the interview and learning about the books below!

Read about these books below and be sure to check out the other blog stops on the tour by visiting the official tour page. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Welcome to my blog, Jaye and Tricia!

First question:

What is the most important thing you want to communicate to your readers about your books?

Tricia: Apparently this question has the ability to freeze authors’ brains. Because it took Jaye and I far too long to come up with answers for it, lol.


I guess that I would like readers to know that my books will always be filled with faith, action, and adventure. Whether that looks like Acktar with assassins and danger and Christianity that looks like our world or whether that is Tallahatchia with canoes and gifts and curses and allegorical Christianity. Either way there will be adventure and danger and possibility of death.


Jaye: I suppose one of the most important things I want to communicate to readers is that I write about “real” people with real struggles and real flaws. I love broken characters because it allows me to show how God can love and work through broken people. It can be a bit intimidating, but I like to write about tough issues. Just look at Lacy--it centers around a prostitute. But even though I often tackle tricky topics, you’ll always find my books are clean.


If your story worlds collided, which of your characters would be best friends and which would get on each other's nerves? Who would get into trouble?


Tricia: The characters already answered this question for themselves on the chat today on the Ilyon Chronicles blog. You can find that character chat here: https://www.ilyonchronicles.com/news.

But in doing that chat, it was fun how some of the characters took over. Jace and Leith, well, we expected that outcome. But Kaden, Talas, and Brandi bonding? That came out of nowhere. But I can really see them getting into trouble together if left unattended too long.


As for characters that would rub on each other’s nerves, what do you think, Jaye?


Jaye: I don’t see Leetra and Martyn getting along particularly well. They are both kind of prickly. Lol! Talas might get on Martyn’s nerves too since he’s so cheerful all the time. Leetra might find Brandi annoying. Haha!


Tricia: Um, yeah. Let’s not put Leetra, Martyn, and Brandi too close together for too long. Things wouldn’t end well. Talas is the kind of person I can see Martyn pretending to be annoyed with, even if he secretly doesn’t mind as much as he pretends.


What is your favorite aspect of the other writer's series?


Jaye: Leith. ‘Nuff said. :D I’ve said multiple times that I love Leith almost as much as I love Jace.


Tricia: Ha, ha. Leith and his fangirls. *shakes head*  Jaye: Leith is a precious cinnamon roll.

((Jessica)) Agreed!

Tricia: I love Jaye’s big battle scenes, lol! And I love how Jaye balances such a large cast of characters and makes all of them so well-loved! Also, Jace. :)


Can each of you give a favorite quote from the other person's book?


Tricia: I can’t tell you the setting of this quote, because that would be a spoiler, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Prince Daniel, and seeing Jace through Prince Daniel’s eyes was so cool: “Jace pinned him with a measuring look—not hostile, but one that said he took the matter seriously. While Jace’s mixed blood had never bothered Daniel in any way, it certainly made the man intimidating at times like these. Daniel had no doubt Jace could take on every person in this cabin and come out the victor. He’d certainly have no trouble against Daniel.” We spend so much time in Jace’s head where his soft, squishy, adorable heart is on display that we sometimes miss seeing the tough, deadly Jace.


Jaye: I sadly haven’t had a chance to read much of Decree yet (Why, life? Why must you be so hectic?!) but so far my favorite quote is probably Leith’s response to Vane telling him he can’t win. “No. But I will make it hurt. And you don’t want that. Not if you want to keep your perfect record with Lord Felix.”  My sweet, adorable baby Leith. *squees*

((Jessica)) I love that moment too! Don't mess with Leith!

Do the two of you brainstorm together when you are writing? If so, what do you find most helpful about the other person?


Tricia: We haven’t done a lot of brainstorming together, but we have asked each other for advice on how to portray certain things, like battle scenes or trickier topics.


Jaye: ^This. :D Tricia is a wonderful beta reader and has really helped me polish my Ilyon books

Thank you so much, ladies! Readers, don't forget to check out the official blog tour page at this link and enter the giveaway!

Keep reading to see my review for Decree and the spotlights for both books!

The Blades of Acktar

Decree Cover 101518 Final 
  About Decree 
 The Adventure Continues. Discover more of The Blades of Acktar in this collection of novellas and short stories. The Blades as They Should’ve Been A test and the Gathering of Nobles will decide Leith and Martyn’s futures. Can they fight to become more than the Blades they were? Will Keevan accept the man who attempted to kill him as family? The First Mission When Martyn visits Surgis, his past seems determined to haunt him. Can he figure out how to forgive, especially when confronted with an enemy in need of his help? To the Far Great Mountains A death sends Leith and Martyn far beyond the borders of Acktar. Will they be able to arrest their quarry before they are caught themselves? From the story of how Leith and Martyn met to Ranson’s search for a life outside of the Blades, these stories will answer plaguing questions and expand the world of Acktar.

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads


I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review:

I was SO excited when I heard that The Blades of Acktar books would be returning. This series hits all of my sweet spots: strong yet vulnerable characters, character growth, tension, witty banter, adorable romance, adventure!

In Decree we get to see our favorite characters after the war, working to rebuild Acktar and establishing a new law enforcement with "The New Blades" (you'll find out the real name in the book). We also get to peek into the past and find out more of Martyn's backstory, and also see how Renna and Brandi's parents met! I think their story was my favorite of the stories that take place in the past. You could definitely see which of their parents the girls took after. I also enjoyed getting to read Ranson's story and watch him grow into his post-Blade life. I love him!

While the other books are each one long story, this book is a collection of stories building background and setting the stage for the continuing story (We get more Acktar books!!!). More like a TV series bridging the gap between two movies. It's cool because we get a peek into the daily lives of our characters, but it also, by design, raises questions in the reader's mind about what's NOT happening which really builds up the anticipation for the next book.

I hope you enjoy this collection of episodes as much as I did. After I finished it I went back and pulled out all the previous books again so I could reread them! I'm super excited to see our Acktarian friends return to the page and can't wait for Book 6!



Haven’t discovered the The Blades of Acktar yet? Find out more at on the official Blades of Acktar page.


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About the Author 
 Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn't writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country. You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Ilyon Chronicles

Bitter Winter

About Bitter Winter
Already struggling with a harsh winter and the threat of food shortage, a catastrophic event leaves those in the Landale camps reeling. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, camp members fall ill with the same devastating sickness that’s sweeping across the country. Determined to gain the cure, Jace sets off to Valcré. However, there are only two sources—the queen, or a powerful gang of smugglers who have made the dangerous city their home. When Jace gains audience with the gang leader, he finds the price of the cure is steeper than any of them imagined, forcing him to make an impossible choice—betray his conscience or let those he loves die.

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads

Lacy
  About Lacy
 The last thing Aaron ever envisioned was falling for a prostitute. Everything about it spells trouble. However, he can’t help noticing the way her smile lights up when she sees him and how much brokenness she hides behind it. Neither can he ignore how desperately she needs rescue and protection. When Lacy shares a life or death secret with him, Aaron is willing to risk everything to help her and to show her Elôm’s love. Yet, such a choice could destroy his reputation and maybe even cost him his freedom. An Ilyon Chronicles Novella

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

Giveaway!

PaperbackGiveaway 
 Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a full signed set of the Ilyon Chronicles and The Blades of Acktar! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.) Click on this link to enter. Be sure to stop by each of the character chats (links in the blog tour schedule) for additional giveaways throughout the tour!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Spirituality of Carseats

Hello, everyone!

Taking a break from book reviews and cover reveals (though in all honesty, I'm behind on several of them that should have been featured months ago on this blog...stay tuned for a combo post), and procrastinating on my NaNoWriMo project again to talk to you about car seats.


This is my son James in his car seat.

Sure, he's sleeping now. But earlier he was complaining about being in his car seat. He's not a huge fan of it. Though he will sometimes tolerate it, and sometimes fall asleep in it, MOST of the time he gets his feelings super hurt whenever I have to put him in it. And he lets me know in no uncertain terms.

"You KNOW I hate this thing! I don't like being confined! You're trampling on my free spirit. Why would you put me in this place I hate? Why don't you love me? I don't want to go! Why, Mommy, WHY!?!" he cries.

Or something like that.

"Hang in there. We'll be there soon. I love you." I say over and over again.

Unfortunately, car seats are an unpleasant necessity to get James safely from Point A to Point B.

I know these rides won't last forever. I know we can't avoid the car seat. I know the car seat keeps him safe, and he will be fine on the other side of this ride.

I was thinking the other day how much easier these rides would be if I could just explain all of this to James and make him see reason. But even if I tried, he would not understand it. He knows I love him. He doesn't always understand why he has to be in the chair. So, sometimes we suffer through some very unpleasant rides. Other times he accepts his reality and tries to entertain himself, or falls asleep.

Here is where I turn the tables.

There are times in our lives, either when something happens to us that we can't control, or we have to live with an unpleasant reality that we did not ask for.

We lose our job. We have to sell our house. We have to move. Someone moves in with us. We lose something (or someone) valuable to us. We have to take on extra work. We have to accommodate a less than pleasant personality. We are kept from the thing we want most. The THING we wanted most to avoid in life happens to us.

We ask God why? If he loves us, why would he make us go through this? Why can't he just make it stop?

In short, we are the angry one crying out in the back seat that we don't like it.

But what if that unpleasant situation is just a carseat? We can't see where we're going, we just know we don't like where we are. But what if that situation is keeping us safe while we go somewhere better? All the while, God is in the front seat trying to reassure us.

"Hang in there. We'll be there soon. I love you."

When my school closed and my husband and I lost our jobs, I was very quickly offered another position in a nearby school. With a pay raise. In my favorite subjects. I would not have had to move. I could have stayed close to my friends. It seemed perfect.

But something about it wasn't right, so I declined.

I ended up moving in with my in-laws, teaching Science and Math, and spent three months away from my husband while he renovated our home to sell. Several times I wished I had accepted the offer. Several times I asked God why we had to move.

Fast forward a year and a half:

We had our first baby. A month later, we sold our house. We were able to pay off the rest of our debt, my husband finished school, eventually found a job, I quit my job, and we are set to move into our own apartment in February.

This past weekend we visited some friends from our school. When the school closed they went to the school that had offered me a job.

They told me the school was imploding because they had not been able to pay their teachers THIS YEAR.

Here is what I know:

God DOES know what He's doing, we just don't always see it.

James can't see where we're going. He doesn't understand why he has to be in the seat. All he knows is that he's in a place he doesn't like. But if I didn't put him in the seat, he would be in a compromising situation that would put him at risk.

If I had taken that job, we would not have sold our house or be able to pay off the rest of our school debt. I would probably have had to continue working after having the baby, Matthew wouldn't have had his job, and we would eventually end up in the exact same place we had been, except THIS time with a baby!

It turns out, we were in a car seat.

Your sadness DOES matter to God and He is right there with you. 

No matter how much I know the trip won't last and my little one will be fine in a minute, it breaks my heart to hear him upset when I can't soothe him. The fact that he is in a car seat that he doesn't like, does not mean I don't love him. The fact that you are in a situation you hate does not mean that God doesn't love you. It doesn't mean that He isn't listening to you. It doesn't mean He's abandoned you. It just means you haven't arrived yet.

Whatever your situation, may we all have the grace to trust Him and thank Him for His provisions while we wait in the car seat for our next destination.

"Hang in there. We'll be there soon. I love you."


For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

- Isaiah 55:8-9


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Number of Love by Roseanna White (Another Cover Reveal!)



Greetings, everyone! I have some pretty awesome news for you!

For those that have read the Shadows Over England series, you know that the main male character in book two has a pretty awesome little sister named Margot.
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AND SHE GETS HER OWN BOOK!!!!!!

That alone makes me SUPER excited. I loved her snarky-don't-have-time-for-stupid-people personality in A Song Unheard and cannot wait to see how she handles herself in this next book. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here is the synopsis:

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and code breakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together.

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(other retailers not yet available)

ISN'T THAT COVER GORGEOUS!?!? I'm a little jealous of that red sweater, to be honest! That expression on her face looks calculating. I wonder what she's thinking, or what she's trying to communicate with that number 18 on the window? Ooooo speculations! I can't wait for this book to come out. Pre-order your copy on Amazon now!


About Roseanna
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that
words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing,
designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew
of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and
mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly
ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at
www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Childhood Obsession and a Cover Reveal

Hello again, friends!

History Lesson:

Once upon a time, the Romanov family ruled Russia. The Tsar and his family were put under house arrest during the Russian Revolution, and finally executed in 1918. (This is a VERY truncated history lesson, obviously, so if you want to know more about the family, and Anastasia in particular, you can read this article on Wikipedia). Here's the thing though, several years later, a woman named Anna Anderson showed up claiming to BE Anastasia, sparking a several decades long debate over what actually happened to the Tsarina.

I don't think we've ever talked about the fact that I had a slight obsession with the Romanov family growing up which may or may not have had something to do with the release of a certain movie circa 1997. *cough*

I LOVED the movie, (though granted, there's virtually no historical accuracy about it) and when I found out it was based on a true story, my imagination took off running. I went to the adult section of the library and looked up all the books I could find on Anastasia and her family, copied a bunch of articles, created a little scrapbook of clippings and wrote little responses to them....all on my own, this was not a school project. Which was good, because there is nothing academic about my responses, they were mostly emotional ramblings of a pre-teen girl enthralled with the idea of a real-life mystery).

I was also determined to solve the mystery of what happened to Anastasia until, of course, they finally solved it and killed that dream.

Some of my sources for my little scrapbook (if you're interested):
Anastasia's Album
Anastasia: Dead or Alive?

Fast forward twenty years and Anastasia takes Broadway so, of course, I dropped everything and went to New York for a crazy whirlwind trip with my dear friend, Julie. Aaaaaand yes it was beautiful and made me relive all my childhood fantasies and fueled my obsession a little bit more! If you haven't heard the soundtrack you should DEFINITELY give it a listen! Christy Altomare is amazing!


 **Favorite New Songs**
Stay, I Pray You
In a Crowd of Thousands

But for all my love of Anastasia and her story, and with all the many, many times I have watched the movie and listened to both soundtracks, I have never read a retelling of her story.

All that is going to change with the release of Romanov by Nadine Brandes on May 7th, 2019!

Nadine Brandes, author of Fawkes and the Out of Time series, has a new book coming out retelling the story of Anastasia Romanov in a unique and intriguing way!


The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.


Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.


*shudders* Doesn't that give you some delightful little chills! I am SO excited about this book.

Now for the cover reveal...
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https://nadinebrandes.com/romanovlinks/https://nadinebrandes.com/romanovlinks

Oh. My. Goodness.
I WISH this book was coming out in the Fall (and that I lived in a state where it actually got cold) because that cover just makes me want to grab a blanket, curl up with a Pumpkin or Chai Tea Latte and devour it! Can we talk about the gorgeous leafy design and that beautiful silhouette!? It LOOKS Russian!  This is SO perfect for the setting, I can't stand it. 

Romanov is up for pre-order on Amazon (<---click b="">so go ahead and reserve your copy now! You won't want to miss out on this book!
<---click b="">Also, make sure to add it to your Goodreads list!

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

An Hour Unspent - Release Day! Review! Giveaway!

Happy Release Day to Roseanna White for the final book in her Shadows Over England series, An Hour Unspent! Roseanna has a bunch of giveaways posted on her website, and an upcoming coloring contest that sounds pretty exciting! Make sure you head over there for some fantastic goodies! The books are on sale at the author's website where you can signed copies, and the first two books are currently 20% off! They are also available on Kindle and paperback at Amazon.


About the Book:

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.


My Review:

I have so loved this series and this family, it is sad to see their story ending, but this heart-warming conclusion to the series did not disappoint! I experienced all the feels as I finally got to learn more about Barclay, the self-designated big brother of the noble family of thieves. Central to the core of his character is the desire to protect and care for others. Once someone touches his heart he is committed to them no matter what, often sacrificing what little he has to make sure they are provided for.

Evelina was quite a feisty character! Battling and surviving a childhood illness, as well as her domineering mother and aunt, has given her a fierce desire for independence and a passion for justice. She fights for the rights of the working class, even though it's not quite the fashionable cause her mother and suffragette friends would have her involved in.

Though Barclay and Evelina come from such different worlds, they see each other's profound strengths as well as their biggest hurts and fears.  My favorite part of reading is watching the characters come to grips with their most defining traits and come to a better awareness of themselves. Roseanna White does this very well in all her books.

One nice surprise in this book is that we (finally!) get to learn a bit more about the mysterious Mr. V!!! Alice's small role in the story was also a real treat.

This is a beautiful story of love and family, and the importance of spending your time well, woven into the historical backdrop of World War 1. I have loved these characters and their story. I am sad to see them go, but this was such a sweet conclusion for Barclay and his family. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have.

I received a copy of this book for promotional purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Favorite Quotes:

"The Lord uses even our broken pieces in the most remarkable ways."

"Something had to be done. And the certainty of what settled on him with that same solid weight that he knew so well. The one that always said, Give the little one your food and You don't need a coat. Not like he does. That certainty he was only now beginning to realize was God, showing him the way to love those put in his care."

"God saw him anyway, in complete clarity. So why try to hide?"




Monday, May 28, 2018

Dagger's Sleep and Dissociate Blog Tour - Interview with Tricia Mingerink





Author Interview with Tricia Mingerink

It is my privilege to have the opportunity again to promote one of Tricia Mingerink's books. I have followed this woman since her very first book, Dare, in the Blades of Acktar series and it has been a joy to see her grow as an author through that series.  Sad as I was to see that series end, (and as much as I am "secretly" hoping there will be follow up stories with those beloved characters some day ;-) ) I was excited to hear that she was writing a new series, in a different type of world.  Dagger's Sleep is an allegorical retelling of the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, with a slight twist. Instead of a princess sleeping for a hundred years, it is a prince! Because life has been CRAZY lately, I am still in the middle of this story, so my actual review will come later. I will tell you that this book has a fantastic storyworld with beautiful descriptions, deep characters, and an intriguing plot. No surprise, of course.  I look forward to giving you even more information and sharing my thoughts on the whole story, once I have finished. In the mean time, I want the author herself to have an opportunity to introduce her creation.  For those of you who loved the Blades of Acktar series, and for those of you who are new to Tricia Mingerink's work, here is what you can expect from Dagger's Sleep. Please welcome again, Tricia Mingerink.


What was different about writing this story than writing The Blades of Acktar series?

The biggest difference is that Dagger's Sleep is allegorical while The Blades of Acktar has Christianity portrayed as it is in the real world. So while the Christianity part of The Blades of Acktar was fairly straight forward, I spent most of the time writing Dagger's Sleep double and triple checking that I wasn't accidentally stepping into blasphemous territory or saying something I didn't intend to say with the allegory. I'm sure there are ways any allegory can have more read into it than the author intended, but I can at least rest assured I did my best. 

What was your biggest surprise or most difficult problem to solve while writing this book?

Probably the ending, getting a certain romance to turn out not creepy. I can't say too much more than that without giving away spoilers. 

What did you have the most fun with?

The character of Berend. He wasn't even truly a character until the third draft when I figured out one piece of his character that really made him come alive on the page. I'm afraid I went a little crazy with the bear puns after that. 

If the characters from this story met the characters in The Blades of Acktar, who would be best friends and who would get on each other's nerves (and why)?

Pretty much everyone from The Blades of Acktar wouldn't like High Prince Alexander. Keevan might try to give him some good advice. Leith would grit his teeth and do his best to ignore him. Martyn would purposefully prod Alex into being arrogant just so he could internally laugh at him. 

Kayleigh, Brandi, and Rosanna would probably be fast friends. They all have a certain adventurous streak to them. Isi would bounce between them and Renna. Leith and Daemyn would probably get along well enough, though I think of the two of them, Leith is more willing to be lethal than Daemyn is. 

What is something (quirk, personality trait, interest, talent, etc.) that you have in common with a character in Dagger's Sleep?


I love mountains, trees, and the land the way Rosanna and Daemyn do. I love hiking and seeing new waterfalls.  

Thank you, Tricia! I hope that wets your appetite, readers. Keep reading for my review

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I received this book free from the author for promotional purposes. No reviews, positive or otherwise, were required. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

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 Thank you for stopping by my blog! If you would like to visit the other blogs on the tour and learn more information about Dagger's Sleep by Tricia Mingerink and Dissociate by