Fun Fiction Friday – Chasing Secrets

Today, I’m really excited to share with you Chasing Secrets, the newest release by Kim Moss. I had the privilege of reading an earlier version, and I’m reading the final version right now, and it’s even tighter and more amazing.

But first, some introductions:

About the Author:

Kim Moss is a wife, mother, teacher, and author ….and now a blogger! She lives in Dallas, Texas with  a very amazing husband and two young “super hero” boys who inspire her daily.  She’s been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.  She actually wrote her first YA novel on a yellow legal pad in junior high school, and she hasn’t stopped writing since!  She is a teacher by day, and a novelist by night. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family in the great outdoors.

About the Book

Some say he’s a dead end. To her, he’s an escape. An detour from decisions and doubts.

If she takes his hand, there may be no turning back.
What Bailey thought would be her perfect senior year has turned into the perfect mess. Nothing has gone according to plan. Her relationship with her new stepmom is strained. Her long-distance relationship has her tied to the phone, and the new guy in school is taking over her job as senior editor of the newspaper. To top it all off, the one person she knows she should probably stay away from is the one she can’t stop thinking about.
Just like the wheels on his motorcycle, Liam Garrett’s life is spinning out of control. Ever since his dad went to prison, he’s been lost. A loner by nature, Liam has a hard time making friends at his new school. His job as co-editor of the yearbook places him at odds with the one person he feels connected to. And when a fatal hit-and-run rocks this small town, Liam feels more alone than ever, stuck in the prison of his own secrets.
A chance meetings one morning sets these two on an unexpected path, chasing secrets that could change everything. Without her compass, will Bailey be able to navigate this uncharted territory, or will she get lost in it?

This is actually book 3 in the Bailey Baxter series. You can read more about books 1 and 2 here and read my review here.

The Bailey Baxter series, Leaving Nelson, My Summer Storm, and Chasing Secrets are all available on Amazon.

My Recommendation

Those who know me know that I don’t read or like many contemporary books, especially contemporary teen books. Often, contemporary teen books try so hard to be modern and hip, even Christian teen books, that I couldn’t even connect with them when I was a teenager.

The Bailey Baxter series by Kim Moss is one of the few contemporary Christian YA stories that I really love. It manages to portray the life of a conservative Christian teenager without feeling stodgy, stifling, or sanitized. The characters and their lives feel real because the characters are living the struggle that many Christian teenagers face. It isn’t perfect. The characters aren’t perfect. Their lives aren’t perfect.

Chasing Secrets picks up right where My Summer Storm left off. Bailey and Bryce are in their senior year of high school and they are trying to make a long distance relationship work. Bailey is also adjusting to the changes in her own family now that Sarah is her stepmom instead of her teacher and confidant. Bailey had finally moved on after her mother’s death, and now it seems like Sarah is replacing her. And then there’s the new kid Liam who is taking Bailey’s place in school on the yearbook committee.

Of all the series so far, this one is by far the most intense. Bailey faces some tough situations in the book, and sometimes her decisions make her already tough situation even tougher. But they are realistic decisions, and the decisions I can imagine making as a high school senior in her situation.

There is kind of a love triangle thing going on, but it isn’t the form where a girl is intentionally leading on two guys because she can’t make a choice. The love triangle comes from a hurting girl trying to find someone to comfort her. We’ve all pushed people away when we’re hurting. We’ve all done stupid things when facing grief. And that’s exactly what Bailey does. She isn’t mature enough to handle her grief while maintaining a long distance relationship, and it causes her to look elsewhere for comfort.

Like the other books in the series, the Christian aspect is there, but done with a light touch. It doesn’t get overwhelming and certainly not preachy. It feels very authentic to how faith looks like in the real world, and that’s something that’s difficult to pull off in fiction.

I loved this latest additional to the Bailey Baxter series, and, thanks to the semi-cliffhanger at the end, I’m dying to read book 4!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

What about you? Do you ever read contemporary Christian YA? Why or why not?

Fun Fiction Friday – A Time to Speak

For today’s Fun Fiction Friday, I’m spotlighting A Time to Speak, which releases in ONE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Any one else excited for this yet? Because I’m beyond geeked for this book!

Lucky for me, I got to read an ARC version. 🙂

About the author

Nadine

You can connect with Nadine here:

About the book

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What happens when you live longer than you wanted to? 

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

My Recommendation

Sounds amazing, right? Well, it is. In my opinion, it’s even better than book 1 A Time to Die. While A Time to Die is a sucker punch in the gut that keeps aching in your heart long after you’ve finished it, A Time to Speak is a stirring marching song that straightens your spine and sends you out into the world determined to do something. 

After the events of A Time to Die, Parvin has to come to grips with the fact that she’s still alive. Not only is she still alive, but her friends Willow and Elm are in trouble and her family is in shambles. Parvin is determined to help her friends, help her family, and help her village.

I adored Parvin’s determination, and I think it is the main reason I enjoyed this book better. While Parvin had to search for her path in book 1, she has found it in book 2. While her determination sometimes get her into trouble and makes her a tad reckless, I could connect with her need to accomplish something. Her courage and faith is inspiring.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Time to Speak (though that ending!), and I can’t wait for book 3!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Nadine is hosting a Facebook party to celebrate the release. Nadine does Facebook parties exceptionally well, so you won’t want to miss it!

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Nadine is also having a giveaway for signed copies of both A Time to Die and A Time to Speak. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Fun Fiction Friday – Makilien Trilogy

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these Fun Fiction Friday pieces. Not that I haven’t been reading good books. Summer vacations and working on Deny keep taking precedence.

Speaking of vacations, this is a scheduled post since I’m gone this weekend. I’ll reply to any comments when I return.

I’m a late comer to The Ilyon Chronicles fandom. I didn’t read Resistance until a few months before The King’s Scrolls released. Recently, I made time to read Jaye L. Knight’s earlier works that she wrote under the pen name Molly Evangeline.

The Makilien Trilogy – Molly Evangeline

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The Makilien Trilogy follows the adventures of a girl named Makilien and her band of friends. This series shows the influence of The Lord of the Rings even more than The Ilyon Chronicles do. I could tell these books were written earlier. The characters are less-fleshed out. The writing less experienced.

Did that make the books less epic? No way! I absolutely adored them!

I had a big deadline in editing Deny that I had to hit, and I was busy preparing for a weeklong vacation. I still ended up reading the entire series in a week (I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep).

Overall, I’d definitely recommend these books to anyone looking for action-packed Christian fantasy.

My thoughts on the individual books:

Book 1 – Truth

PictureI was drawn into the storyline almost immediately. I felt for Makilien as she tried to discover the truth in a city determined to hide it. I love how Makilien grows throughout the book, and her decision at the end.

The elves? Need I say more? These are everything you think of about elves: tall, graceful, live in the woods. But with a sense of humor. Lots of humor.

I enjoyed the adventure of this book. It’s a straight forward good-vs-evil, epic battle, adventure story with Christian themes weaved into it.

Book 2 – Courage

PictureSome of this book follows the same pattern as book one. It starts in the same town. Moves through the same places, and ends with a big battle in the same place as before.

Still, I enjoyed how this book took the same battles of book one and went one step deeper. In Truth, Makilien faced the final battle with the innocence of one who has never fought before. This time, she fights with the knowledge of just how scary and horrible war is. It makes for an interesting parallel that I couldn’t put down.

And the ending? Let’s just say, you’d better just buy books 2 and 3 together because you will be starting book 3 mere seconds after finishing book 2.

Book 3 – Trust

Picture   Of the three, this book was my favorite. It has a different storyline than the first two and kept me guessing. While the battle might be smaller, the challenges are tougher for the main characters.

And Sirion? *sigh* I’d already loved him in the earlier books, but I absolutely adored him in this one.

A few of the character storylines might have wrapped up a little too neatly, but I honestly didn’t care while I was reading. I wanted everyone to get their happy ending, and the ending of this book definitely delivers. 🙂

Short Story – Captivated

PictureThis short story was totally worth it to get a final glimpse of my favorite characters one last time, especially the elf Elmorhirian. I couldn’t stop laughing the entire way through this story, and I read it twice in as many days because I loved it so much.

Have you read the Makilien Trilogy yet? Thoughts?

Fun Fiction Friday – Waking Beauty

Today’s book Waking Beauty is one that I was excited to read from the moment I saw it in Enclave’s release line up. I was even more excited after I attended the Facebook release party that Sarah Morin and Morgan Busse co-hosted to celebrate their releases Waking Beauty and Heir of Hope.

About the Book

What would happen if the Sleeping Beauty refused to wake up?

This rescue isn’t going at all how he planned. Secondhand hero Prince Arpien intends to gain a throne and the Sleeping Beauty’s heart with a single kiss when he wakes her from the evil fairy’s curse. But kissing the princess is only the beginning of a series of unforeseen obstacles: man-eating bugs, deadly spindles, talking lapdogs, and fiery pickles. The Sleeping Beauty is the biggest complication of all.

Princess Brierly is Beautiful and fairy-Gifted, but also . . . daft. After one hundred years of sleep imprisonment, Brierly refuses to believe this rescue is anything more than a tantalizing but doomed dream.

Arpien is drawn to the vibrancy beneath Brierly’s indifferent exterior. Can they reclaim her kingdom? Do they dare trust in the Prince of the old tales to help them battle the evil fairy who cursed Brierly? What is the price of waking beauty?

This is not the story of an innocent damsel-in-distress or her cardboard rescuer. It is a full coming-of-age struggle in a world where truth shifts as often as dreams.

About the Author

SarahMorin0025

Sarah E. Morin has three great passions in life: God, books, and working with young people. She has written articles and poetry for local publications and international periodicals in the museum field. Her dramatic works range from a musical about Susan B. Anthony to fairy tale poetry. She enjoys performing her work, especially pieces that allow her to dress up in her queen costume.

Sarah E. serves as Youth Experience Manager (kid wrangler) at an interactive history park. Her 100 youth volunteers are her best consultants in the fields of humor, teenage angst, and spinning wheels (which, they assure her, are not hazardous to anyone but Sleeping Beauty).

My Recommendation

This book was not what I expected. At all. When it arrived, I opened the box to find a tome rather than a slim novel as I’d been expecting (if I’d checked the page count before hand, I would’ve realized it is 480 pages long).

This is an epic, not a quick, easy-read fairy tale.

The beginning was a little slow for me. The writing style reminded me a lot of Lewis Carroll (think Alice in Wonderland or the poem The Jabberwocky). There are a lot of made-up words and things that the reader has to figure out as they go along as well as a number of long strings of titles such as Peerless Prince, etc. It’s a style that evokes an older, whimsical style of writing. It is fun writing, but a little difficult to get into until you get used to it.

Besides the writing, the story also unfolded slowly. Each piece of the puzzle was revealed after the characters do a lot of character-stuff and character reflection. Overall, I’d rate this as a very, very character-driven novel rather than plot-driven. As a plot-driven reader, I felt like it could’ve been trimmed a little bit, especially in the beginning when (to me) it felt like the characters weren’t accomplishing anything for several chapters.

But once I reached the end? It was worth it. Totally. Once the action started happening, it drew all the pieces together. The three different POV characters all had their own role to play in the ending, and it had a few twists that I wasn’t expected (and a few I was).

While I liked all three characters, Nessa was my favorite. Probably because she is the most straightforward of the three POV characters. While the POV switched between Arpien, Brierly, and Nessa, I was never confused by whose head I was in. They all have very distinct voices.

My favorite part of the book was the theme of dreams vs. reality. While Brierly is the one that refuses to believe she is actually awake and not still stuck in dreams, she isn’t the only one who is stuck in delusions. In a way, all the characters have their own delusions, their own Dreams, that they need to wake from in order to find Reality. It made me think about what I might be deceiving myself with and what thorns I might be clinging to because I believe I’m strong enough to handle them on my own.

Have you read Waking Beauty yet? Or is it on your TBR list?

Fun Fiction Friday – Of the Coldblooded

Anyone who follows my Facebook page probably noticed my excited pictures when Angie Brashear’s newest release Of the Coldblooded arrived on my doorstep. Thanks to blog tours and overall busyness, I hadn’t had a chance to post this as part of a Fun Fiction Friday until now.

OtC - eBook Cover

About the Book

Laila Pennedy is a warrior, no longer insecure and weak.

She’s confident the Faithful will overpower the Rendow Clan. Besides, Lars Landre, the Chosen of the Woodlands Region and her betrothed, cannot be defeated. She believes this with all her heart…until tragedy collides with conviction.

In the wake of disaster, the Kinhood threatens to capture Laila, yet offers mercy until autumn’s third full moon if she abides by their commands. But she’s set on revenge. And this time, she won’t be deterred.

This time…she’s the hunter, not the hunted.

Unexpected loss. Compelling wrath. Bygone faith. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?

Isn’t this cover gorgeous? And for those of you who were wondering, it looks really nice on my shelf next to the first book in the series Of the Persecuted. 😉

My Recommendation

This book has a shift in tone from book 1. In Of the Persecuted, Laila is scared and insecure. But she also sees some of the wonder of her world, and there’s a lot of wonder to see.

In Of the Coldblooded, Laila is confident. Too confident. In both herself and in Lars. Her confidence in people is so much that when the first major plot twist happens, her faith is challenged.

While the first book concentrated on finding confidence in faith, this book shows how that confidence and faith needs to be rooted in the Maker, not in people or self. I really like how that theme was woven through not just Laila’s character arc, but several character arcs during the book.

Once again, this fantasy world is vast with creatures both familiar from the first book and a few new dangers. The plot twists and turns. I guessed a few of the plot twists (mostly because my optimistic self wanted it to be that way), but a few still surprised me (both happy ones and shocking ones).

My only small concern with this book is it almost felt like it had too much action (I know, strange coming from me). Sometimes, the action sequences happened so quickly, I had to go back and reread to page to figure out what was going on. This book didn’t have as many moments of quiet reflection between action the way book one did. There is more violence in this book than the first book, and one execution scene that churned my stomach (and that doesn’t happen often). Still, I didn’t think the additional violence or dark tone was gratuitous. They were necessary for the character and plot development. Laila is struggling with a darker side of herself, and that tone comes out through the book. She has become coldblooded, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for quiet reflection.

I continue to recommend this series and this author to those who are looking for good Christian fantasy. Now I’m eagerly awaiting book 3 and whatever twists and turns it has in store!

Half Blood Blog Tour

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I have been beyond excited the moment I heard Jaye L. Knight was going to be releasing a prequel novella to the Ilyon Chronicles. When she called for participants for a blog tour, I just about tripped over my laptop in my rush to sign up. After all, I was going to go all fan-girl over this book anyways, so I might as well do it as part of the official blog tour, right? 😉

The day has finally arrived, and Half Blood has been out for three whole days already! *squeal*

My Recommendation

Read the book. Seriously. Though, if you’ve already read Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, then you were probably sitting on your porch waiting for UPS to deliver your copy long before this blog post was written (or you got really impatient and went straight to the kindle version!). If you haven’t read any of the Ilyon Chronicles yet, then go do it. Right now. I’ll wait until you get back.

Half Blood has more violence and more intense scenes than Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, though even the tear-jerking scene in this book can’t compare with the heart-destroying scene in The King’s Scrolls. The violence is not gratuitous, and Jaye dwells more on its effects on Jace than on what is physically happening. While reading it, I sometimes got the sense that Jace didn’t want to dwell on or see what was happening or what he was doing, and thus the reader didn’t either. It was a technique that worked really well for showing how Jace clung to his humanity even when everyone else was doing their best to strip him of it.

The hardest part in this book is when Jace fears they may succeed.

Since this is a novella, the book is much, much shorter than Resistance or The King’s Scrolls. While I probably would’ve kept reading had this novella been a tome, I think the shorter length worked for this book. Too much more details of the violence would’ve been overwhelming, and too much of the hope and happiness at the end would’ve dragged and taken away from the beginning of Resistance.

I’d recommend reading this book after reading Resistance. Half Blood is a book written to satisfy the curiosity of fans and deepen their knowledge of one of the characters, and doesn’t serve as the sweeping introduction to the world of Ilyon the way that Resistance does.

*I was given an ARC copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review*

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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 . . .

Available on Amazon!

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 Discover Ilyon in Resistance and The King’s Scrolls (if you haven’t already joined the awesomeness!)

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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+, Twitter, Etsy, and on her new fiction forum where you can interact with other readers of the series.

Author Interview

In reading through the blog tour so far, I’ve realized everyone asked you this question, but here it is again: Half Blood is a tough book to read (though I enjoyed it. I might have a strange fascination with reading about main characters suffering). Was it tough to write? What was the hardest part?

I wouldn’t say it was overly tough to write. Perhaps that’s because I’ve known all along what kind life Jace lived, so it wasn’t new to me. The hardest part was probably making sure it all fit together and that the timeline of the story was accurate. I started this story at so many different points, and just kept going back further and further into Jace’s life, so in the end, I had to sort of connect the dots. I got a bit confusing at times, but I sorted it out. Suffering really shapes and defines characters, so while it’s a tough story, I’m glad to be able to share what shaped Jace to be who he is in the series.

I can imagine how difficult it must have been to fit it in with all the pieces of Jace’s backstory you’d already mentioned, and the ones you have planned for Samara’s Peril.

What’s your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? Drafting? Editing? Designing the cover (which turned out gorgeous, by the way)?

I have things I like about the entire process, but I’d have to say editing is my favorite part. On days where my imagination is really flowing, I LOVE writing, but most of the time editing and perfecting the story is easier and more enjoyable for me. I like knowing I have the whole story down on the computer. Blank pages and giant word goals are far too intimidating sometimes. I also do love designing covers, though I think with future books after Ilyon Chronicles, I will hand those reins over to someone else.

Writing and editing are tons of fun…when they are working right!

Now for my favorite question: If you could trade places with one of your characters for a day, which character and what day would you pick?

I think I’d probably trade places with Kyrin on one of the fun hunting days with Jace. After all, I’d love to hang out with him and meet the others out at camp. 🙂

That’s the same day and same person I’d pick to trade places with if I could hang out in Ilyon for a day! Though, I’d hate to think what poor Kyrin would think having to be me for a day, stuck in an office at a computer instead of traipsing around the forest with Jace. I’d definitely be getting the better end of that deal! 😉

Thanks so much for the interview, Jace, and best wishes on the release of Half Blood!

Giveaway

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Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Half-Blood, a blue feather bookmark hand crafted by Jaye, a bronze sword pendant, and a $5 Amazon gift card! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)
Please click this link to enter the giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more about Half Blood and more interviews with Jaye, check out the rest of the blog tour for Half Blood:

Schedule

Tuesday, July 14

Wednesday, July 15

Thursday, July 16

Friday, July 17 

Saturday, July 18 

Sunday, July 19 

Monday, July 20 

Tuesday, July 21 

Wednesday, July 22 

Fun Fiction Friday – Follower of the Word series

I actually finished Morgan Busse’s Follower of the Word series a while ago but haven’t had the chance to spotlight it here on my blog yet.

Many of you in the Christian fantasy community have probably already read this series, since it released over a period of a number of years. I was actually kind of glad I didn’t stumble onto this series until late last year because I only had a few agonizing months to wait for the third book. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, you’re privileged that you can read the entire series without a wait! (Because trust me, you won’t want to wait!)

My Recommendation

If you’d been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Christian fantasy, and this series is Christian fantasy at its finest. The characters are all well-developed and the multiple POVs do not get confusing. I loved all the characters so much that I had a hard time picking a favorite. Once of the main characters is a reforming assassin, and all of you know how I like stories with assassins in them! 😉

There are two things that especially impressed me about this series:

1. Even the established Followers of the Word have struggles. Too many Christian books make it seem like things instantly get easy once a person follows Christ. That isn’t the case in real life, and it certainly isn’t the case in the Follower of the Word series. In fact from an earthly standpoint, things get a lot worse for the characters. Each character pretty much is called on to give up everything they hold dear to follow the Word. Things appear really dark. Faith is tested to the breaking point. Characters are forced to make choices they never thought they’d have the strength to make. Yet, the Word is still there for them, giving them the strength they need.

2. It has one of the best representations of Christ I’ve read. Representing Christ in fiction is extremely difficult. How does an author capture a glimpse of God on the page? C.S. Lewis’s representation of Christ in Aslan is probably the best I’ve ever read because somehow Aslan captures friendship and awe-inspiring power. The Word in the Follower of the Word series is a close second. The Word is a friend yet remains powerful and mysterious. The representation of how He bears our guilt really made me think about what Christ did to pay for my sins.

I highly recommend this series!

About the Books:

Book 1: Daughter of Light

As the Shadonae rise in the west and war threatens the north, a young woman discovers she is not human . . .

Rowen Mar finds a strange mark on her hand, and she is banished from her village as a witch. She covers the mark with a leather glove and seeks sanctuary in the White City. She lives in fear that if she touches another person, the power inside her will trigger again, a terrifying power that allows her to see the darkness inside the human heart . . .

But the mark is a summons, and those called cannot hide forever. For the salvation of her people lies within her hand.

Book 2: Son of Truth

The war in the north is over, but the war for all the Lands has just begun. As the Shadonae solidify their hold on the city of Thyra, Rowen Mar, the last Eldaran and savior of the White City, awakens to find herself hunted by those she has saved.

Meanwhile, the assassin Caleb Tala finds himself in the presence of the Word. The time of reckoning has come, and he must pay the price for all the lives he has taken. But in his moment of judgment, Caleb is given a second chance to change his life.

These two hold the power to save the Lands from the Shadonae. One must escape slavery, and one must choose to forsake everything before the world is consumed in darkness.

Book 3: Heir of Hope

The great city of Thyra has fallen and shadows spread across the land. Rowen Mar, the last Truthsayer, is taken before the Shadonae. But the Shadonae are not who she thought they were, and now they want to claim her as their own.

Caleb Tala, former assassin and prince, is now a Guardian of mankind. Exiled from his country, Caleb wanders the desert in search of his mother’s past and clues to who he is.

These are the last days of the Eldaran race. Rowen and Caleb must find their way along the dark path set before them by their ancestors: to heal what was wounded and love where hatred grows. But the road is narrow and the darkness beckons. If either of them fails, all will be lost…

And the human race will be no more.

About the author:

Morgan L. BusseI am a wife, mother, and author. I write Christian fantasy for adult market. My work is published with Enclave Publishing, the premier publishing company for Christian fantasy and science fiction.

Have you read the Follower of the Word series yet?

Fiction Friday – A Dream Not Imagined

I was supposed to post this book recommendation a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t been able to until now. Enjoy!

I wasn’t sure what to think when I picked up Shantelle Hannu’s debut novella A Dream Not Imagined. I’d had some interaction with Shantelle online, and she’d even agreed to be a part of my blog tour for Dare when neither of us had read each other’s books at that point.

I shouldn’t have worried. I blew through the book in a matter of hours. 🙂

About the Book

A MAID, a PRINCE, and a DUKE. A STEPMOTHER, a GARDENER, and a secret

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family; she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after.

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream…of the same prince.

In the end, are dreams even all they’re made out to be? Especially with deep and long-hidden secrets about to be unearthed?

My recommendation

I’ve read a number of Cinderella adaptions so it’s rare for me to run across one that actually surprises me. This one did. At the start, Ellie seems like your normal Cinderella, complete with nasty stepmother and stepsisters. There’s the glimpses of the prince, the upcoming ball, the servitude, and then…

Then things get interesting. Cinderella arrives at the ball in a different manner than you’d expect. The ball doesn’t exactly go as expected either. I gasped out loud in one part, the twist leaving me floored because I thought I’d known exactly where this novella was going.

Turns out I was wrong. That’s the beauty of this novella. It draws you in with the seemingly normal Cinderella tale, then turns it on its head.

Once the main twists were completed, I did guess the twist at the end, and how the book would be resolved. But that was okay. The second major twist isn’t so much a twist but a secret that the reader and author share with giggles and whispers while waiting for the reveal at the end. It’s the kind of twist that leaves the reader gratified that they’d figured it out.

I also really loved the take on the evil stepmother. She’s still evil. Still a baddie. Yet, she does have a reason for it (not a reason most sane people would actually implement). She isn’t just mindlessly torturing Cinderella for no apparent reason. She has a purpose to Cinderella’s servitude.

Overall, it’s a sweet Cinderella story about waiting for God’s timing in your life.

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?

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?