Fiction Friday – River of Time Series

I recently finished The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. I didn’t mean to, actually. I finally got around to reading the first book on my Kindle and the world pulled me in so fast I just had to read the rest of the series!

WaterfallCascadeTorrentBourne & TributaryDeluge

WATERFALL: Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy.

CASCADE: When Gabi and Lia find themselves back in the fourteenth century—and in the middle of major battles alongside romantic knights in shining armor—they have no idea if they can get back. Or if they even want to.

TORRENT: When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in Torrent, the third and final book in the River of Time series.
BOURNE, a novella, picks up right where TORRENT left off…Find out what has happened to men returning from the battle, gravely wounded, to the Betarrinis, fighting for the men they love, and just who is hunting them next…

TRIBUTARY, a novella, picks up a year after BOURNE… Lia struggles to overcome the fear that constant battle has heaped upon her; Gabi and Marcello face an unexpected crisis; and Lord Greco just may be ready to leave the grief and loss of his past behind him, so that he might grab hold of the future…

DELUGE The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called.


Lisa T. Bergren
is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books that have sold 1.5+ million copies. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time writing, editing, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy while parenting her three children with her husband, Tim. They live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My Recommendation

This series doesn’t lack action, high stakes decisions, or heartbreak. It is very compelling and, once you start, it is very hard to put down. I loved the world-building, and I felt like I was in medieval Tuscany. I could picture the countryside, the layout of the castles, and the cities. While some suspension of disbelief is needed, it didn’t bother me. It was fascinating reading about modern girls trying to fit into medieval Italy.

I was a little bothered by some of the cavalier ways the main characters referenced God in the beginning of the series, but that is my personal preference on how God should be addressed. While there was a faith aspect in these books and God is mentioned, it was very lightly done. The characters grew in their faith, but it never felt like a very deep part of the book.

While the first two books are young adult, the rest of the series feels like it almost wants to be an adult series. Once the main two girls are married, some of the husband and wife aspects are mentioned in more detail than some young adults want to know (nothing graphic. It is the same standard used in Christian adult literature). So I’d recommend this series to upper young adult and new adult age levels.

Overall, I loved this series (which is why I’m featuring it here!). It is fun to see a time travel/historical mash up, especially one involving lots of action and a setting like Italy.

Have you read The River of Time series? What did you think?

Dare Blog Tour Announcement

ONE WEEK until Dare‘s release! I have some fun stuff planned for the next couple of weeks!

bLOG TOUR HEADER Final

First, a number of wonderful authors and bloggers have volunteered to be part of a blog tour to celebrate the release. Below is the tour schedule that will kick off June 2, the day Dare releases.

Schedule

June 2

June 3

June 4

June 5

June 8

June 9

June 10 

During the blog tour, I will be holding a Grand Prize giveaway to celebrate. The giveaway will open June 2, and you’ll be able to enter at any of the blog tour spots.

Dare Grand Prize

The Grand Finale to all this excitement will be a Facebook party the night of June 10 from 8 to 11 PM EST. The winner of the Grand Prize will be announced there. There will also be additional giveaways, inside peeks at the book and characters, and lots of fun. You are all officially invited.

I can’t wait to share Dare with you, and I hope you all enjoy the celebration. I know I will! 😉

What is your favorite part of a book release? The blog tour, the Facebook party, or actually getting a new book in your hands?

Cover Reveal – Half Blood

Instead of my Fiction Friday book spotlight, I have another cover reveal for you all. I’m super excited to reveal the cover for Jaye L. Knight’s novella Half Blood. I’m a huge Ilyon Chronicles fan, and I can’t wait until this prequel novella releases!

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About the Book

The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears—dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place.

For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood—one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. But, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will not to become the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended yet again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?

See where Jace’s story all began . . .

Coming This Summer

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JayeAuthorPhoto

About the Author

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.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

I don’t know about you, but I’m bouncing with anticipation for this book! Jace is my favorite character in the Ilyon Chronicles, and I’ve been dying to learn more about his backstory!

Giveaway

As part of a month long celebration for the one year publication anniversary of Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles – Book 1), Jaye is giving away several fun prizes! Enter for a chance to win using the form below! U.S. entries only please. a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to visit the other spots on the cover reveal, here’s a list of all the participating bloggers:

Participating Bloggers

A Writer’s Faith

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

A Writer’s Heart

Thoughts and Rants

Written Rest

To Be A Person

Tialla’s Tellings

The American Anglophile

Knitted By God’s Plan

Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings

Pencils Can Change The World

Crafty Booksheeps

Zerina Blossom’s Books

Ryebrynn’s Random Ramblings

Through the Realm of Dreams

Red Lettering

Leah’s Bookshelf

The Official Website of Brent King

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections

Shattered Fractals

Flights from the Aerie

Rawls

The Pen of a Ready Writer

Scattered Journal Pages

Sutori no Hana

The Art of Storytelling

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Inspiration for Dare – Raglan Castle

Less than TWO WEEKS until Dare releases! Hence this blog post on Wednesday instead of Tuesday as I originally intended.

When I started revising Dare, I realized I needed a better picture in my mind for King Respen’s castle. At this point, I hadn’t even named the castle. I knew I wanted a castle with a large, noticeable tower. So I googled “castle with a large tower” to see what ideas I could come up with.

And that’s how I stumbled onto Raglan Castle in Wales.

Raglan Castle Blog Post

It wasn’t much to look at first. The Great Tower set off to the side had been bombarded into rubble several hundred years ago. The castle is still in ruins, not like some of the magnificent, restored castles seen in travel brochures. But as soon as I saw it, I knew I had the perfect castle for Dare.

I googled it and spent a long time looking through pictures. Even better, there was a virtual tour of Raglan Castle online done in pictures that walked me step by step through each part of the castle. I went through the online tour, took a lot of notes, and printed off a lot of pictures.

The website for the castle also had an artist’s sketch that showed what Raglan had probably looked like before it had been bombarded into rubble.

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A five-story Great Tower set apart from the rest of the castle? Perfect!

The in depth tour online and the abundance of pictures gave me the visuals I needed to create King Respen’s castle, which finally got the name Nalgar Castle. I made a few tweaks to the layout of Nalgar vs. the real Raglan Castle, but much of it remained the same.

Cover Reveal – As Wish Made of Glass

Today I’m taking a break from Dare‘s release to participate in the cover reveal for A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis.

Isn’t this cover stunning?

AWishMadeofGlassFinalAbout the Book

Deep in a forest glade, the fey folk dance with Isidore, a young human child. Their kinship is the very fabric of her childhood. When her mother dies and her world darkens with sorrow, Isidore finds her belief in the fey folk wavering.

The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

Driven to desperation, Isidore turns to the fey folk once more. She has only one wish to claim from them, one chance to make things right. But she must tread carefully. For wishes, like hearts, are easily broken. And obtaining the one thing she desires could mean destroying the one thing she truly needs.

the Author

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Ashlee Willis is the author of fantasy for young adults. She lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband and young son. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and being a stay-at-home mom, she also finds time to enjoy forest rambles, photography, and playing the piano.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Blog:  http://ashleewillisauthor.wordpress.com

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7849640.Ashlee_Willis

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AshleeWillisAuthor

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ashlee-Willis/e/B00KC96M6K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BookishAshlee

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/BookishAshlee/

This sounds like one book I’m adding to my TBR list!

Fiction Friday – Adventures and Adversities

Today’s Fiction Friday spotlight is Adventure and Adversities by Sarah Holman.

About the Book

One day Alditha is content living with her family, the next she is taking her friend’s place to serve at the king’s castle. Her father’s final instructions, to keep smiling and to do what is right, will be harder to live out than she ever imagined. She will face a royal nephew who delights in making people miserable, an angry servant girl who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and noblemen who plot murder. Will she be able to keep the promise she made to her father? Will she find the faith she longs for during all her Adventures and Adversities?

My Recommendation

I got this book a while back on my kindle and didn’t get around to reading it for a while. When I did, I was browsing my kindle books and reading the first couple pages of a few books to see what one grabbed my interest. I’d already tested a few books and was prepared to do the same with this book. Then I realized it had been half an hour and I was already well into chapter five.

Although this book doesn’t have a ton of high action like most books I enjoy, it is very compelling. It has scenes of action sprinkled with day to day life of the main characters that is so well-written that I found myself unable to put the book down. Alditha, the main character, reminded me a lot of Anne of Green Gables or Elsie Dinsmore in that the other characters change because of her example. But, this doesn’t mean Alditha isn’t a dynamic character. She does change as she learns that trusting God doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be stoic. I really enjoyed that she was such an inspirational, motivating character. She’s such a good role model for readers, and it is rare to find a character than can both be a role model and interesting.

The setting is also interesting since it is set in a make-believe medieval kingdom, but still tied to real history and a real time period. The research was well-done, and I felt like I was actually living in Taelis with Alditha.

About the Author

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of five published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Have you read anything by Sarah Holman? Do you like characters that are role models?

Inspiration for Dare – World War II

Only THREE WEEKS until Dare releases! Crazy how fast time flies when you have a book releasing!

To celebrate the book release, I’m going to look at a few of the things that inspired some of the themes or storyline in Dare. Dare is fantasy, so it isn’t directly based on any real history. But I’m a history buff. I like to explore the things I see in history in my own stories, even if I’m coming at them from a different direction.

One of my inspirations for the themes in Dare is World War II, specifically World War II as experienced by the Netherlands. About a year before I started writing Dare, I researched and wrote a nonfiction narrative about my great-grandparents’ life in the Netherlands and their immigration to Canada. My great-grandparents lived in the Netherlands during World War II, so I did a lot of research about what life was like in the Netherlands during that time.

World War II tore the Netherlands apart in many ways. Some people supported the Nazis. Some actively resisted in various ways, including forming the many groups that made up what is collectively known as the Dutch Resistance. Others didn’t like the Nazis, but felt they were the government God put over them and they should obey it. Neighbors were divided. Churches were divided. A person’s greatest enemies weren’t the Nazi occupiers, but their former friends, neighbors, and even fellow Christians who might turn them in. Thanks to the geography of the Netherlands, those on the run, whether Jews or Resistance members, had very few places to hide.

My great-grandparents were some of those that resisted. They were forced to flee their home to live in a different part of the Netherlands because of it. At the end of the war, the dyke protecting their home was bombed, and they lost everything they’d been forced to leave behind in the resulting flood. Because they chose to resist, they lost all their worldly possessions.

 Flooded Wieringermeer Polder where my great-grandparents lived.

If you’re interested in learning more about this time in history, Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place tells the story of her family. Another book that I highly recommend is Liz Tolsma’s Snow on the Tulips. While fiction, the book is based on a true story and very historically accurate. I’m also partial to it because it is set in Friesland, the province in the Netherlands where my great-grandparents spent part of the war.

Have you researched World War II? What do you find fascinating about it?

Fiction Friday – Mardan’s Mark

I’m hoping to start a new feature on Friday’s where I showcase a book or series I’ve really enjoyed. It’s not a book review. More like my random, fangirl gushing about books I absolutely adore.

I’d like to start with Mardan’s Mark and Healer’s Curse by Kathrese McKee.

Mardan’s Mark

About the book

Srilani is second in line to the throne, and she’s always known what is expected of a princess — bring honor to her family and marry well. Aldan has been a pirate’s slave for as long as he can remember, and all he wants is to be free. The Twin Kingdoms have been sister nations for centuries, but now their unity and existence are threatened by enemies both inside and outside their borders.

After pirates abduct Srilani and her three siblings, they are stranded behind enemy lines and across the Great Gulf. As the eldest, Srilani is faced with the dangerous task of bringing her father’s heir home. She convinces Aldan and his two fellow slaves to share their journey to freedom. These unlikely allies — seven young captives — must defeat the web of lies, murder, and betrayal tearing the kingdoms apart.

My Recommendation

Read this book! Seriously! I heard lots of good things about it and was expecting a good book, and it still blew me away.

The characters are excellent. Srilani is a tough girl who can fight her way out of trouble but also has a vulnerable heart. Too many books and movies don’t get that balance. Either the girl is an almost heartless, kick everybody’s butt kind of girl or she needs saving all the time. Sometimes in Christian fiction, the tough girl is the one who needs to be softened until by the end of the book she’s totally given up her tough girl attitude. Srilani is none of those things. She both saves the guy and needs to be saved. She finds a way to be vulnerable but without losing her fighting edge.

Not only was Srilani awesome, but her male lead was also amazing! Aldan can hold his own with her and doesn’t fall into the helpless male sidekick stereotype.

Best of all, several of the other characters also got their own points of view in the book. The character voices were all distinct, so I was never confused.

I also adored the setting. Too many fantasy books fall into the trap of basing their setting only on Europe. It’s fantasy. It can be set anywhere. The setting in Mardan’s Mark is based off the Gulf Coast area of the United States, which gives it a flavor not found in many other fantasy novels.

Finally, the cultures of the different kingdoms are well-done. I could see parts of all kinds of cultures, but I never felt they were directly based off any one culture in the real world. The Christian aspect of the culture is well-done, and feels like an Old Testament kind of faith, which is neat.

Healer’s Curse

Healer's Curse About the book

Was this my curse? To lose everyone I loved?

What good is Elilan’s gift of healing if she can’t save those she loves? Elilan must risk failing once again or turn her back on her calling—and the stranger she’s learned to love—in Healer’s Curse.

My recommendation

After reading Mardan’s Mark, I wasn’t sure how Healer’s Curse could compete. The novella follows the events that are happening at home during the events of Book 1. I wasn’t disappointed. I could see how this novella was setting things up for book 2, but it also managed to be it’s own story. Elilan was strong like Srilani, but also vulnerable and I couldn’t help but root for her. And the main guy? Well, he gave Aldan a run for his money. I’m really looking forward to seeing all these characters together in the next book!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a copy of Healer’s Curse in exchange for my honest review/recommendation. I bought Mardan’s Mark myself.

Outlaws and Redemption Stories

Outlaws & Remption

I absolutely adore the movie Tangled. Not only is it an all around sweet movie, but it has a big white horse that acts strangely like my own horse, but it also has an outlaw-turned-good-guy in it. I’m a sucker for those stories. Whether it is Flynn Rider in Tangled or Killian Jones/Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time, the outlaws with a soft heart get me every time.

But I can’t blame my obsession with this type of character on Flynn Rider or Killian Jones. I don’t even blame Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, even though that was my favorite Disney movie growing up.

Nope, I blame Renn Frayne.

Tall, dark, handsome. Steps into a bad situation and saves the girl and her land while also being stuck in a crazy love triangle.

Never heard of him? Well, you must not read Zane Grey Westerns. Zane Grey was an American writer who wrote a number of adventure stories and Westerns in the early 1900’s. Yes, the writing is early 1900’s style and the descriptions can sometimes drag on for pages.

I started reading Zane Grey in my teens, and my first Zane Grey was Knights of the Range. Holly Ripple is left alone on her ranch when her father dies. Before he died, her father gathered a group of loyal cowboys and dubbed them Holly’s Knights of the Range. When the ranch is in danger, the outlaw Renn Frayne accidentally saves Holly and reluctantly joins the fight to save Holly and her ranch. I might have had a little crush on Renn Frayne in my teens.

DSC09523A shelfie of one of my shelves of Zane Grey books. Knights of the Range is second from the left. Twin Sombreros, its sequel, is the scuffed cover next to it.

Why am I drawn to the outlaw-turned-good-guy so much? Perhaps it is the depth of the struggle that these characters face. Maybe it is the reminder that, as a Christian, my story is a redemption story.

It’s probably no surprise that my upcoming release Dare features a conflicted assassin.

What about you? Are you drawn to outlaws-turned-heroes?