Friday, September 30, 2016

Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg



  • Series: Walker Family
  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Larkspur Press (September 2, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0997964200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0997964202

About the Book:

Swoon-worthy Romance. Small-town Charm. Best friends reunite in Tagg's latest novel of second chances and enduring love. 

Beckett Walker hasn't stepped foot in Maple Valley in years. There's no getting past the painful memories, and there's every chance he'll be arrested as soon as he shows his face. Which is exactly what happens when he finally returns. Suddenly his dream of adventure as a military lawyer comes skidding to a halt. 

Horticulturist Kit Danby has spent too much time missing home and her childhood best friend--Beckett Walker. Now she might have a shot at reclaiming both. After years of living abroad, she returns to run her family's apple orchard. She has one season to turn a profit and impress the father she barely knows. But she can't do it alone. 

It should be simple: Beckett needs community service hours. Kit needs a helping hand. But there's more at stake than either of them planned. With a tangled past and futures that look nothing alike, they'll have to find a way to weather the storms of the present . . . or risk losing everything.

My Thoughts:

Remind me never to start reading a book by Melissa just before bed...please.  I was up until the wee hours, desperately praying for Beckett and Kit...and. They. Aren't. Real.  Once the tears started they rolled until the final page was turned.

And then I wanted to go back to the beginning and read their story all over again.  Oh.  My.  Word.

I've been reading Melissa's books since her debut, "Made To Last", and she was on my watch list from page one.  But her Walker series...she seriously rivals Susan May Warren for passion and realism and heart with her imaginary cast of characters.

Please don't make me pick a favorite.  I fall head over heels for each of the Walker siblings with each book.  But what she put Case, the patriarch, through in this book...oh, the feels!  The stage is set for daughter Raegan Walker...and I already know that one will be a four or five hanky read.  

I'm hoping our feisty barista gets at least a novella before the series concludes, and it would be nice for Case to find love as well.  I cannot get enough of the Walker family, and Melissa Tagg is on a must read list forever with me.  For now, "Keep Holding On" gets my "Oh, The Feels!" award.

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Sunken Realm by Serena Chase



About the Book:

She is an outcast among knights
Her reputation in ruins, her knighthood revoked, and her future bleak, Erielle de Gladiel would have welcomed death as her due. Captured by pirates, she was beaten, whipped, branded a thief—and worse—and then set adrift to die. She did not expect—or even want—to be rescued. Especially not by the dashing blasted pirate now calling himself her husband.

He is the King of Pirates
His oath satisfied and his Legacy secured, Cazien vows vengeance on all who harmed Erielle. But before he can hunt them down, a strange visitor appears with an urgent message—a message that aligns with prophecy Erielle has written in her sleep: The Seahorse Pirates must reach Nirista before the famed Tournament of the Twelve . . . or hundreds of stolen children will die.

Together, they are relentless
With the fate of many resting upon them, Cazien and Erielle sail to Nirista. Once there, they are forced to follow separate paths to achieve their aims. Treacheries are uncovered and allies are gained, but in the shadows, a hidden foe plots a grievous betrayal that could shatter not only their hope, but the Seahorse Legacy itself.

The epic conclusion of this series-within-a series, The Sunken Realm sweeps Erielle and Cazien along a pulse-pounding voyage to discover all they are meant to become, together. Giving subtle nods to several fairy tales, including an unexpected twist to the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this romantic YA pirate adventure is the final novel in the Eyes of E’veria series . . . but the Seahorse Pirates and their friends in E’veria may yet have stories to tell.

My Thoughts:

Allow me a moment to gather my thoughts......all right.  I believe I'm ready now.....

Oh, the FEELS!!  I fell cover over pages in love with the "Eyes of E'veria" when I read "The Ryn" and met the mighty Bear-men of Mynissbyr and spent time with the Storytellers of Veetri.  Rose, aka the Ryn, captured my heart and the fantastical world took hold in my imagination, and I had so.  much.  fun.  reading.

I immediately dug in with "The Remedy", the second novel and conclusion to the first half of the series.  It was OH, so good as well!  While I had my copy of "The Seahorse Legacy" locked and loaded on my Kindle, I held off until just before the release date for the final book was announced.

And waited.  And waited.  And bugged Serena.  And waited....

After months of waiting, I snagged an e-copy of "The Sunken Realm", Serena Chase's epic conclusion to this mind-blowing tale of knights, pirates, royals and those who follow after The First.  And, oh, was it worth the wait!

Cazien is prince and keeper of the Seahorse Legacy, but he isn't solely responsible for fulfilling the long ago made prophecy.  Oh, no.  Thanks to his ancestor and the Oracle Anya, he's been betrothed to a young maiden with the heart of a warrior, Erielle, sister to the now crown prince of E'veria and first female knight to the kingdom.

Problem is, she doesn't know.  He has yet to inform her.  He himself is biding his time as a free and easy pirate, and thus our story ensues.  Beloved favorite characters all return for this epic adventure: Sir Gladiel, Rowlan, and the royal house of E'veria, as well as beloved Andoven Dyfnel and many others we've met along the way.

This is so much more than just fiction.  Prepare for your emotions to be torn and to come face to face with evidence of God's love and provision as you read these pages.  Epic sea adventures abound with lots of exciting action, and I do love me a good pirate tale, but my love for these books goes much deeper.

This is lightning in a bottle, and I plan on purchasing a physical set of novels for my treasured book shelf. I will cry when I am finished, and I know I'll always want more. Just knowing I can return to the magical lands Serena has carefully crafted makes my heart smile.

When I place these novels with LOTR and Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, it's no exaggeration that this quartet hits that level of epicness. This sweeping tale is so real, I not only want to go there, I feel like I AM there! I want to know people of this caliber in my real life and to surround myself with them. I love these fictional beings both for their strengths and for their weaknesses.

I've already told you more than I probably should about the story.  And I want to share even more, but "too much knowledge rather spoils an adventure".  Just trust me when I tell you that, "with all that I am and for all of my life", I will treasure this quartet of stories, and be a frequent visitor both to E'veria and to "Eachan Isle".

All four books: The Ryn, The Remedy, The Seahorse Legacy and The Sunken Realm are available from Amazon in e-format, and the first three are available in paperback now.  I plan on owning both!Take my advice and embark on a journey that will leave you changed for the better, and dreaming of pirates, Bear-men knights and The First.

Highly recommended, Best Fantasy Fiction of 2015, and Golden Bookmark Award for Excellence.  Ahoy, and godspeed.

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman


  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 3, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764212621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764212628


About the Book:

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging--a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion.
Unsure of what comes next, she's surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingénue who lives in the nearby mansion.
Kendall Joiner wants Lauren's help uncovering the old woman's secrets. In return, she'll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren's tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely adore Kathryn Cushman!  Her novels are a tapestry of finely woven strands of fiction, held together by artistically crafted characters and sparkling with genuine faith.  Fading Starlight kept me reading until the early morning hours, and I felt every word.

Lauren had a dream internship with one of the greatest fashion houses, but a wardrobe malfunction has her broke, ashamed, and in need of a miracle.  She finds a safe place to hide from the unfavorable publicity, and to figure out her future.

Enter a reporter with an offer she can't refuse, and her problem is solved.  But anything that harmless and simple usually isn't, and Lauren soon finds her life unraveling again.  It's nice to see how God takes shattered dreams and creates a new dream, and how He takes hearts of stone and replaces them with power and emotion and tenderness.

I love multi-generational stories, and I love the characters in this one.  Kathryn's novels are the best of the best, and a story crafted by this exceptional talent never disappoints!  I'm giving "Fading Starlight" my "Oh, The Feels!" award

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 New Releases of 2017

Here are 10 of next year's books I'm so excited about!!!

1) Firstborn by Tosca Lee

2) Beyond Justice by Cars Putman

3) Life After by Katie Ganshert

4) Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

5) Moving Target by Lynette Eason

6) Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

7) Pursued by Lisa Harris

8) Sandpiper Cove

9) Still Life by Dani Pettrey

10) Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

What titles are on your wish list?  Tell me in the comments, and remember to

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes



  • Series: Out of Time (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Gilead Publishing (October 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621840298
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621840299

About the Book:

How would you live if you knew the day you'd die? 

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government's crooked justice system. 

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

My Thoughts:

What would you do if you knew the day you'd die?  Who would you spend time with?  Would you share, would you hoard?  Would you talk, or just be bored?  Would you talk, would you shun?  Would you hold in everything?

Nadine has created a story that is both gripping and chilling.  Parvin has just a handful of months left and she wants to leave her mark.  She wants to be known, and she wants to make a difference.  And life looks as if she might have what she wants.

Until her government finds out she has no numbers.  No clock.  No date with death.  And as punishment she is force through The Wall, to face the unknown and her own demise.  And THAT is when Parvin's life truly begins.

From unjust governments to cold and distant family relationships, "A Time To Die" has a little bit of everything a person could be dealing with at any given time in her life.  Nadine takes our innate desire for life to have a point, a purpose, and turns that on its head, demonstrating what a life with purpose truly looks like.

I found shades of "The Hunger Games", "The Fellowship of the Ring", and even a smattering of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" within the pages of "A Time To Die".  Nadine has crafted a rather stunning debut, but she did surprise me in a not so fun way.

"A Time To Die" isn't for the faint of heart or squeamish: I encountered a few scenes on the other side of the wall that almost had me putting the book back on the shelf.  Then I figured if Parvin could endure, so could I.  Then I realized that I was following an imaginary person into the wild of the unknown.  Then I decided I had to know how the book ended and kept reading.

I have mixed emotions right now.  A part of me loved the story, and a part of me is still asking "What just happened?"  So I'm giving "A Time To Die" my "One to Watch" title as I take a breath and dive into "A Time To Speak".  

Yeah, that's how I roll---I mean, read.  So, until I'm finished with book two...

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Candidate by Lis Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart



  • Series: A Newsmakers Novel
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718037685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718037680

About the Book:

How far will a candidate go to become president? Erica Sparks—America’s top-rated cable-news host—is about to find out.
Mike Ortiz is a dynamic war hero favored to win the White House. Standing by his side is his glamorous and adoring wife, Celeste. But something about this seemingly perfect couple troubles Erica. Is Celeste really who she seems? And most importantly, what really happened in that squalid Al-Qaeda prison where Mike Ortiz spent nine months?
But more than the nation’s future is at stake. Erica’s relentless search for the truth puts the life of her preteen daughter Jenny in danger, even as Erica’s own dark past threatens to overtake her.
In her latest Newsmakers thriller, New York Times bestselling author and Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl weaves a taut and chilling story. The Candidate is packed with political intrigue and media manipulation as the lust for power turns deadly indeed.


My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the newest series by Lis Wiehl and co-written with Sebastian Stuart.  Their first one, "The Newsmakers", wasn't one of my favorite reads.  I don't care for books written in present tense, and I found the reading awkward and stiff.

"The Candidate" is written in the same style, but I actually found this one more enjoyable.  Lis has tapped into today's political scene and writes expertly about the possible ways to rig an election.  The parallels are uncanny, and a little bit spooky.

Keep in mind: this is fiction.  Don't be tempted to read it as fact, but do let it roll around in your mind as you observe the political events unfolding in our country right now.

For those who believe the fix is in, "The Candidate" might be your novel.  For myself, I'm calling this "A Library Pick".

My thanks to my friends at Thomas Nelson via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Last Con by Zachary Bartels



About the Book:

Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord—Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history.

My Thoughts:

Attention all fans of Leverage, The Sting, The Italian Job, or The Librarians!!!!!

This is a book you MUST. NOT. MISS.  Zachary Bartels exploded on the fiction scene with his debut novel, "Playing Saint".  Now, his sophomore novel is head and shoulders one of the best of the current offerings today.

Imagine you are a career criminal in the art of fraud.  You finally get convicted, do your time, and then try to redeem your family's trust.

But then, the deal of a lifetime comes by you, and it's for good, not for evil.  What do you do??  That's the basic premise of "The Last Con".  Yes, there is some ancient church history, cloaked in 'Da Vinci Code' type mystery. 

But, oh, the twists!  The turns!  The mind-bending loop-di-loops!  My heart races through the entire book, and it was better than any thrill ride you can find.  What a movie this would make! 

For now, it's a true movie for the mind, and one you do not want to miss.  My thanks to my friends at NetGalley for an advance copy.  This one is so good I plan on getting my own, even though I received a copy in exchange for my review.

Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Seriously.

Why are you still here??  Get thee to a bookstore immediately!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trial Run by Thomas Locke



  • Series: Fault Lines (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Revell; 1st edition (August 4, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080072433X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800724337

About the Book:

Reese Clawson's work is mind-bending--literally. Her company specializes in global data analysis for an elite group of industry executives, and now a lucrative government contract is moving her into the realm of cutting-edge intelligence gathering. She is determined to crack the limits of consciousness--and in doing so, the boundaries of secrets and lies. But her experiment crashes as test subjects slide into a coma-like state. Reese is left scrambling to maintain control, drawing three disparate people into the search for answers--an adrenaline-amped thrill junkie with altered brain chemistry, an Italian scientist working on remote-viewing technology, and a math prodigy whose algorithms subvert 
computer encryption.

Will this piecemeal team prevail when a government operative is sent to investigate? As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and even time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.

With a concept so daring and writing so gripping, readers will swiftly fall under the spell of Thomas Locke's endlessly creative mind. This thrilling psychological journey into the very nature of causation and consciousness will leave them turning the pages and grasping for solid ground.

My Thoughts:

STEM geeks, rejoice!  Thomas Locke (aka Davis Bunn) has crafted a unique and mind-bending tale of physics, time travel, and (my favorite)...murder.  What happens when two teams of elite brainiacs and military soldiers compete to extend the boundaries of time and space?

Reece Clawson leads a team working a clandestine op that's off the books and off the radar.  Dr. Gabriella Speciale has her own off-the-grid team working on the same research project.  In fact, we have corporate espionage, black ops, murder-for-hire, and a sprinkle of romance for fun.

The science is mind-bending.  Truly mind-bending.  Honestly, I took Physics in college, but this was so far out of my element.  Some chapters made my brain hurt.  Literally.  But hanging in was worth it in the end.  Imagine being able to know things about the future...or the past...or anywhere else.

How much chaos would ensue?  LOTS!  I enjoyed my time with "Trial Run", and I think you will as well.  I'm calling this "One to Watch", as there are at least two books in the "Fault Lines" series--maybe three.  The writing is intense...but the science (and math) will blow your mind.

I found my copy at my local Christian bookstore, and you can find "Trial Run" wherever you discover your favorite reads.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Most Anticipated Reads of Fall/Winter 2016


I am always on the lookout for new releases in the publishing marketplace.  Sometimes I get so excited about a coming book that I cannot focus on the books I have for the anticipation of the books I long to have.

So, here is my list of my most anticipated new releases for the rest of 2016:

1) Storm by Bonnie S. Calhoun--releases November 1, 2016

2) Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard--releases October 18, 2016

3) Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson--releases October 18, 2016

4) Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren--releases October 18, 2016

5) The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines--releases October 18, 2016

6) Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig--releases December 6, 2016

7) Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg--released September 2, 2016, but I'm waiting on the Kindle version, which doesn't release until September 27, 2016

8) Cunning Attractions by Christy Barritt--releases October 6, 2016

9) Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon--releases October 4, 2016

10)  The book I have yet to find---but I know it's out there somewhere!!

If you'd like, let me know the books YOU are anxious to read by leaving a comment.  Until then...

Mark Your Place,

Deena



Monday, September 19, 2016

The Raven by Mike Nappa


  • Series: Coffey & Hill (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (September 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800726456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800726454


About the Book:

As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience's pockets while they watch. It's harmless fun--until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn't seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his "personal assistants," The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, "Nevermore."

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues--and their complicated feelings for each other--to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge.

Mike Nappa snags readers from the first page of this fast-paced thriller--and he never lets go until the end.

My Thoughts:

Wow!  What a complex and thrilling ride!  Mike Nappa has crafted a suspenseful series with a unique literary twist.  Threads of Edgar Allen Poe weave through some intense reading, adding an almost gothic feel to a modern day criminal procedural.

The series opened with "Annabel Lee", a mystery concerning a young girl kept hidden away by her uncle and the race to discover the why behind the hiding.  That story was mind-blowing, and I was very eager to read what Mike came up with next.

"The Raven" introduces us to a street magician with a series problem: owing money to a crime syndicate that has deep ties within the community.  Sam Hill and Trudi Coffey will have to join forces once again to uncover just what "Nevermore" is and find a way to stop it.

Mike has a wild imagination and I love it!!  Talk about a well-crafted story structure.  Make sure you start reading early afternoon because you won't be able to stop once you've turned the first page.  And when the pieces all fall into place...have tissues handy, because your jaw will drop and you may go into shock (drooling could ensue!).

I truly cannot wait until the third book releases.  Unfortunately, I must wait.  Fortunately, you don't have to wait at all to pick up a copy of "The Raven".  But don't stop there!  Get a copy of "Annabel Lee" as well! This book gets my "Oh The Feels" award.  Until then,

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Friday, September 16, 2016

Accelerant (Book 2, Abiassa's Fire) by Ronie Kendig



  • Paperback: 439 pages
  • Publisher: Gilead Publishing (October 14, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1683700481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1683700487

About the Book;

He'll destroy the world. But first he has to save it.

The Nine Kingdoms bleed. Leaderless, ravaged, the land awaits deliverance from Poired Dyrth's devastating campaign. But what if one blight can only be cleansed by another?

The promised Fierian is known by many names. Judge. Destroyer. Scourge. And now one other: Haegan, Prince of Seultrie. Once a cripple, now a gifted Accelerant, Haegan can no longer run from the truth. But neither can he be reconciled to it. He knows only one thing for certain: as the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, he must return to the Nine and fight for his people.

But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, whom to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save the world.

My Thoughts:

Buckle up, my reader!  I'm about to do it again...but you'll be glad I did.

Ronie Kendig has made a mark on the fiction world with her authentic military fiction.  In fact, her tagline is "Rapid-Fire Fiction".  I'm a huge fan, and I'm always on the lookout for a new book from Ronie.  Now she has embarked on a journey with YA high fantasy fiction and with her first book I thought she had outdone herself.

However, with "Accelerant", Ronie has turned the genre on its head.  The story is unique, the ideas are fresh, and the characters are engaging.  Most important, you can feel Ronie's passion on each and every page.  The scenery is rich and lush, the dialogue is snappy and crisp, and the purpose is clear and filled to the brim with allegory and faith.

This is the book series Ronie was born to create.  I actually have 'first time reader' envy, jealous of the fact that you all have something to look forward to reading that is so great, so epic, so mind-blowing...I have chills.  So put "Accelerant" on your wish list (better yet, pre-order).  Get a copy of "Embers" now, and dive in with Haegan and company to save the Nine Kingdoms.

My thanks to Ronie for an advance copy of "Accelerant" in exchange for an honest review.  "Accelerant" releases in October...plenty of time to enjoy "Embers"!  Plenty of time to discover how Kaelyria Celahar was able to pass the mantle to her brother Haegan...and that's all I'm going to leak!  "Accelerant" and "Embers" both are 'One For The Ages', people.
So don't miss out.  While we eagerly wait for the third book (eagerly and impatiently),

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Embers by Ronie Kendig



About the Book:

HE'S COMING FOR THEM. AND THE KINGDOM.

Haegan and Kaelyria Celahar are royal heirs of the Nine Kingdoms, but Haegan is physically crippled. What chance does he have against Poired Dyrth, the greatest enemy the kingdom has ever faced, who wields fire with a power none can match?

Their only hope is forbidden: Kaelyria must transfer her fire-harnessing abilities to Haegan. When she does it comes with a terrible price: Haegan's disability is healed, but only by being transferred to Kaelyria. This act unleashes their father-king's wrath.  

Haegan must flee the kingdom alone with two impossible tasks: Find a cure for Kaelyria and stop the coming war with the omnipotent Poired Dyrth.
My Thoughts:

Truthfully, this is the greatest time to be alive if you love high fantasy and speculative fiction, especially within the inspirational fiction market!  We've a host of authors who's talent runs with the big dogs of the genre, and I'm thrilled to introduce you to the newest star in my reading universe!

Ronie Kendig earned her author stripes crafting rapid-fire, take-no-prisoners military suspense, and she has several series' in today's marketplace.  With "Embers", she makes her high fantasy debut, giving us the first volume in what promises to be the epic saga of "Abiassa's Fire".

For an author to strike the literary nail on the head within this genre, several elements have to come together in a perfect reading storm.  In my humble opinion, not only does "Embers" fire on all fictional cylinders, but this novel quickly moves Ronie to the head of the fantasy class of authors!

World building?  Check.  Imagine a world in which those in power can wield the power of fire, and engage with those known as accelerants, and spark people to get their attention?  And that's just the surface: wait until you meet your first raqine!

Strong characters?  Check.  From Prince Haegan, forever paralyzed due to an unknown poison, to his beloved sister who will do anything to heal her brother, to the band of wacky and hearty misfits the prince encounters on his coming of age journey, every single person you'll meet will intrigue you and capture a piece of your heart.

Plausible story?  Check.  As always, a prophecy is at the root of the story, but discovering the prophecy is only half the fun!  Defeating enemies as wide and varied as the ones Ronie gives us?  Yeah, that's the other half (so want to meet a Jujak!)

This book clocks in at just under 500 pages, and not one page nor word is wasted as the story unfolds.  Yes, a lot of unfamiliar names and locations pop up, but the reader learns along with the prince as you both discover this fantastical world together.

Cliff hanger?  Unfortunately, check and check!!  I can barely stand the wait until the second volume arrives!  But "Embers" is a novel I'll be reading multiple times, just for the joy of encountering this magical, fantastical world again and again.

My thanks to Ronie for an advance copy of "Embers" in exchange for an honest review.  This high fantasy cannot get a high enough endorsement from yours truly.  I envy your first read of "Embers"...I truly do.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Unblemished by Sara Ella



  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718081013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718081010

About the Book:

Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?
Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.
Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

My Thoughts:

I shouldn't do this to you.  I really shouldn't.  But I have to.  I just cannot hold it in any longer!  Sara's book won't release until October, which doesn't seem like very long....but you haven't read my review yet!  So buckle up...

"Unblemished" is a carefully crafted work of magic and wonder that I believe will set the young adult literary world on fire.  Sara introduces us to Eliyana Ember, a normal teen with a desire for an everyday life.  One problem: El has a crimson birthmark that covers the right side of her face, swirling and creeping like vines along her profile.

Kids today are just flat mean.  The taunting and teasing is endless, and it's created a self-consciousness for El that holds her back in life.  Then there's Joshua, her next door neighbor and her current heart crush.  El thinks he has feelings for her, but he goes hot then cold, and she cannot get a clear read on their relationship.

Soon Eliyana realizes that the world she's lived in isn't all there is, and she is drawn into an existence she's unprepared for and unwilling to participate in.  (Except for Joshua.  For him, she'd go anywhere and attempt anything.  Been there myself!)  It's a world of differences and similarities, a world of danger and of wonder.  A world of unique abilities, and two dueling forces: the Verity and the Void.

A world where kisses have meaning, and love can last a lifetime.  So can hate.  A world that, like ours, needs a savior.  I found myself lost within the pages of "Unblemished", transfixed and mesmerized.  Every chapter brought a new delightful detail to the surface, and when all of the pieces began to merge together near the end...

...I almost passed out for holding my breath.  No, literally.  I stopped breathing, and had to remember how.  With as many books as I have on my TBR pile, I rarely have the chance to re-read something I've enjoyed.  For "Unblemished", I will make time.  As I said, you will be able to get a copy in October, but I urge you to place your order now.

"Unblemished" has to get the attention it deserves.  For me, this book is "One For The Ages", right up their with L'Engle, Lewis, and Tolkien.  Today's general market YA fiction writers could learn a few things from Sara Ella.  And the literary world would be a much better place for readers.  Until then,

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 7 Reasons I'm So Stoked about YA Fiction


I'm so stoked about YA fiction in today's market!  Especially within the inspirational market...and I'm about to tell you why:

1) Realism: forget sparkling vampires and warm and fuzzy werewolves--we have a host of intriguing characters and creatures to choose from today!  From weather control in "Storm Siren" by Mary Weber to fulfilling prophecy in Serena Chase's "Eyes of E'veria" duology, you can find something for just about any taste.

2) Originality: I just finished an advance copy of a novel that releases in October, and my mind?  **blown**.  Sara Ella is a new voice in publishing, but you will remember her forever.  Her debut, "Unblemished", is so carefully crafted your jaw will drop at the detail and care she takes with her world-building.  Then there's powerhouse author Jill Williamson and her "Blood of Kings" trilogy, now expanded to include 3 subsequent books...again **blown away**.

3) Length: many of today's books are over 400 pages in length (be still my heart!), which provides a lot of rich reading material.  And every page is necessary, with nothing wasted.  So prepare to block out a huge chunk of time, because you'll be playing my favorite game "Just One More", be it chapter or book or page.

4) Availability: the authors are easy to stay in contact with.  With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so many social media platforms, it's easy to find your favorite author and let her (or him) know just how much you loved the book.  And take advantage of it...this is an under-appreciated area of writing and every drop of encouragement is gratefully accepted.

5) Word of mouth: no matter if you have a blog or you haven't gotten around to starting one yet, you can leave reviews all over the internet.  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christianbook.com are the usuals, but GoodReads, Facebook, publisher sites...the possibilities are endless.  And every review is gold to an author.

6) Talent: once upon a time we had stories about dragons...and maybe King Arthur.  We had Middle Earth and Narnia. Now, we have a world of Reflections, Authority City (see Rachelle Dekker's "Seer" series), and don't get me started on K.E. Ganshert's "The Gifting" trilogy.  It takes place in 'our' universe, but not really...her version is 'WOW'!

7) Price: thanks to e-books, you can try out a book by downloading the first few chapters.  Most of the time, that's enough to know the investment is worth it.  But it's possible to read 'for free' through Amazon's KindleFree program, often publishers are offering the first book for a low price, and authors are organizing launch groups you can join--for free.  Just be faithful to the commitment you make to the author.

And that's just the tip of the literary iceberg.  Need a recommendation?  I'm here.  Got a recommendation?  I'd love a comment!  Until then...

Mark Your Place,

Deena

Monday, September 12, 2016

Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann



  • File Size: 3497 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: bHd Books (August 11, 2016)
  • Publication Date: August 11, 2016

About the Book:

Alexis Murphy is done messing with the wrong kinds of men. She could not be happier planning a personalized Grace Evangeline wedding with her fiancé, Jeffrey, who is so right for her. Or is he? 

Stage star and spokesmodel, Bo Corrigan, could be the ultimate disruption. Alexis—Exi—is caught by his talent and sexual magnetism. Yet under the glow, she senses trouble, not only danger from Bo’s past mistakes, but something inside tearing him apart. 

From the moment Bo sees Exi, he knows she’s special, but not only that—she’s real. Unlike the theater scene he’s been immersed in, she sees the man he is and won’t stop until she’s reached inside and brought that person from despair to life … if only they have time. 

With violent forces against them, can they get beyond the damage to love that heals and restores? 

My Thoughts:

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this one.  I've read many novels by Kristen, and I've enjoyed them all (my favorite is still Halo).  With "Told You Twice" and her previous book ("Told You So"), her writing takes on a realism that could make some readers uncomfortable.

And I don't know how I feel about that.  Exi (cute nickname) is drawn to Bo, and he is a total bad boy.  He's seen things and done things that could make your hair curl.  Still, Exi sees the true man inside the bad boy, and she's determined to help draw him out.

Bo, intent on feeding his wild side, also feels drawn to Exi, but he knows he isn't good for her.  He turns up the volume on his badness, and the consequences finally catch up with him.  This is when the book really drew me in.  The transformation is real and powerful, and the realism is chilling.


But the detail is gritty (not explicit or gratuitous), so it's definitely not your mama's romantic novel!  If you crave romance that feels more anchored in the real world, then this is your kind of book.  If you choose your reading as more of an escape, you might want to find different reading material.  I encourage you to sample "Told You Twice" and see what you think.

My thanks to Kristen for an advance copy of "Told You Twice" in exchange for an honest review.  This is definitely "one to watch".  Until the next review,

Mark Your Place,
Deena

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink



  • File Size: 765 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0736966072
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

About the Book:

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you're ready for a lesson in love...Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother's elderly dog, Tippy, he's quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn't thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can't abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal's world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too...

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

My Thoughts:

What a fun story!  This was a great summer read, and "Sit, Stay, Love" will have you giggling on one page while tearing up on another.  Tippy is hilarious!  I wouldn't mind a pup like her!  The story reflects on judging someone without really knowing them first.
Cal tries to come across as a typical professional jock, but he has more layers than even he realizes. And Gina seems like a scatter-brain, but her heart is huge, and she draws the real Cal out for us to fall in love. If you have ever known you were more than you appeared and just wanted a chance to show your real stuff, this is a story that will resonate with you.
My thanks to my friends at Harvest House Publishing for an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I'm giving "Sit, Stay, Love" my 'One to Watch' award.  This book is available now, and the sequel "Fetching Sweetness" is up on my to-be-read list.  I'll review that one soon, but until then...

Mark Your Place,
Deena