Category Archives: Book Review

Just Dumb Enough

This is a freaking awesome book.

When I first heard about this book–and that the proceeds would go to a Realm Makers scholarship and the RM mobile bookstore, no less–I knew I had to get my hands on this.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Just Brave Dumb Enough follows five companions as they seek to steal the Crystal of Darkness for the large profit of gold it will bring. There are just a few things in their way: giant spiders, wolf-men, dark magic, a powerful fortress, a rock monster–and the list doesn’t stop there.

No big deal, right?

Barzillai Broadhead, marksman extraordinaire, who leads the expedition, doesn’t think so.

After all, his team includes: Tekla, a hardened assassin who is as beautiful as she is deadly; Cludge, a bumbling half-giant with arms the size of tree trunks, yet who holds a brilliant secret; Raibert, a thief who is easy to forget, yet sees what others do not; and Abelard St. Boniface, a priest-mage who wields endless power from on high.

Yes, Barzellai Broadhead has reason to be confident.

But the quest tests them in ways he cannot have foreseen, and what awaits them at the fortress is a power more deadly than any of them could have imaged, but one.

I devoured the thing in a few hours, and was blown away by the level of craft that went into this well-written adventure.

I knew I had to feature this on my blog.

About the Book:

What happens when you bring seven different authors together and unleash them upon a single story?

One wild adventure.

Famed archer Barzillai Broadhead gathers a band of four unlikely compatriots in a quest for the Crystal of Darkness. Monsters and sorcery bar their way at every turn. If they’re brave enough–or dumb enough–they might save the world.

Written by Morgan L. Busse, Kerry Nietz, John W. Otte, Steve Rzasa, Marc Schooley, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, and Jill Williamson.

All profits will be split between support of the Realm Makers Mobile Bookstore and a scholarship toward registration at the Realm Makers Conference.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I am honored to host this new release on my blog. And hat’s off to these seven incredible authors! Well done.

If you would like to check out this spectacular book, here is an Amazon buy link.

I hope you love it as much as I did!

In Him,

Michele

About the Authors:

Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the epic fantasy Follower of the Word series and the award-winning steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles. Her debut novel, Daughter of Light, was a Christy and Carol Award finalist. During her spare time, she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel. You can find out more about Morgan at www.MorganLBusse.com.

Kerry Nietz is an award-winning science fiction author. He has over a half dozen speculative novels in print, along with a novella, a couple short stories, and a non-fiction book, FoxTales. Kerry’s novel A Star Curiously Singing won the Readers Favorite Gold Medal Award for Christian Science Fiction and is notable for its dystopian, cyberpunk vibe in a world under sharia law. It has over a hundred 5- star reviews on Amazon. Among his writings, Kerry’s most talked about is the genre-bending Amish Vampires in Space. Newsweek described it as “a welcome departure from the typical Amish fare.” Kerry is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits, first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates’s minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile and a movie buff. Find him at www.KerryNietz.com.

John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, he’s a not-so-mild mannered Lutheran pastor who lives in the Kansas City area with his wife and two sons. By night, he writes stories about geeky grace. He is the author of the Failstate series (about the exploits of a teenage superhero whose power is to break things), Numb (about an assassin who feels neither emotions or pain being ordered to kill the one woman who makes him feel something), and The Hive (about a pregnant teenage cyborg). You can find him lurking on the web at www.JohnWOtte.com.

Steve Rzasa works as your local technical services librarian in Buffalo, Wyoming. When he’s not on the clock, he dons his spacesuit and authors speculative fiction. Steve has written eleven novels of science-fiction, fantasy, and steampunk, plus numerous short stories. His third novel, Broken Sight, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Best Speculative Fiction award in 2012. He’s a fan of all things sci-fi and superhero, and a student of history. His website is: www.steverzasa.com

Marc Schooley is a Texan, which may be empirically verified if you ever hear him speak. He is a Christian philosopher, theologian, Bible teacher, speaker, musician, and nascent Christian fiction writer who welcomes you to communicate with him at www.MarcSchooley.com, featuring quest appearances by MS Quixote-which may or may not be his alter ego (a special commission has been established to investigate this matter). However, MS Quixote wears glasses and Marc does not, so the mystery is a bit difficult to unravel.

Stuart Vaughn Stockton is the author of the award-winning science fiction novel Starfire. He currently lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and fellow author Tiffany Amber Stockton and their two children. You can find more at www.Galactic-Lore.com.

Jill Williamson writes fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. Jill grew up in Alaska, staying up and reading by the summer daylight that wouldn’t go away. This led to a love of books and writing, and her debut novel, By Darkness Hid, won several awards and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. She loves giving writing workshops and blogs for teen writers at www.GoTeenWriters.com, which has been named as one of Writer ’s Digest’s “101 Best Websites for Writers.” She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. Visit her online at www.JillWilliamson.com.

A Celebration of The Final Paladin

I am so excited to be chatting about this book today.

But first, let’s get the most important order of business out of the way.

Tonight, on Facebook, there is this party. The party. You should be there.

Not only did I just get 28 giveaways ready to be mailed in preparation, I happen to know there are quite a few more. (I’ve been working on it for ages; I should know.) ;)

And get this: The author is giving away a Mac Mini. A Mac Mini! Wow!!!

So, um, you should be there. Really.

Here is the link to join me tonight. (Or just click on the picture below.) RSVP away! I’ll wait.

Did you do it? Will I see you there! Yay! :)

Okay, so let’s talk more about this book we’re celebrating.

From the back cover:

Life for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.

Thrust into incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven-hundred-year-old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.

When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.

Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue—Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish Maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot Black Dog—keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?

Um, wow! Good, right? Even better than good? I thought so!

This books takes a plethora of myths and legends and fairy tales and tangles them all together into this mass of literary goodness.

I was captivated from the first page, and I’m certain you will be as well.

So join me tonight to celebrate! And tell me what you think of the book.

See you there!

In Him,

Michele

P.S. Before I go, let me introduce you to the author of this incredible book.

T.J. Akers desires to be a multimillionaire when he grows up and give his wealth to his favorite causes: churches, schools, and animal shelters. Since the millions have been slow in coming, he’s settled for working as a computer technician for a state university and volunteering at his church and local animal shelter. Whenever possible, he indulges his love of writing stories to entertain people, especially younger readers.

Akers holds a Masters of English from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and can often be found roaming the university’s library, especially the children’s and young adult sections. Librarians have always been his heroes.

He lives with his beloved wife of thirty years, his dog, and two cats. The dog is an excellent writing companion, but the cats have proven to be rather critical. Learn more at www.tjakers.com.

You can buy his new release right here! :)

Why I Love Ending Fear’s Coloring Book

Today’s book review is a tad on the unconventional side. I’m reviewing a coloring book! :)

Hurray!

And this coloring book in particular is a companion to the debut novel by Deanna Fugett, Ending Fear.

Now, you must understand that most coloring books drive me crazy. I cannot stand the eclectic patterns, the teeny-tiny spaces I have to try to figure out how to fit my colored pencil without getting out of the lines, or the pages and pages of weird designs only to be rewarded with a setting, character, castle, or mythical beast every 12 pages.

Like I said, not a fan.

Until one time I was at a convention and ran across a YA coloring book. This one in particular was character-driven, had a scene from the book every other page, and the designs that made no sense whatsoever were far and few between. Everything had a purpose and directly related to the book. (And made me want to read the book. Right away.) Not to mention it was beautifully drawn.

I loved it.

And promptly colored it. (After buying it, of course!)

And ordered the novel.

It was awesome!

Fast forward many years later, when companion coloring books to YA books, movies, and tv shows have become the norm.

Deanna Fugett sent me this email. “Hey, Michele! Check out these character sketches Keighley Kendig drew for me. Aren’t they awesome?” (Okay, that is very loosely paraphrased. I don’t remember her exact words, but she was excited and loved them. Fair enough? Lol!)

Here’s what I saw:

Oh my word, I LOVED them!!!

Each was a perfect representation of the characters I’d seen in my mind while reading her book!

(Not sure who the characters are? Find out by reading Ending Fear! Or, you know, snatching up your very own copy of the coloring book…) ;)

I immediately contacted Keighley and begged her to create a companion coloring book for Deanna’s new release.

And she did! Squeal! Happy dance! (throws confetti)

Deanna wrote up a summary of each character to go with the sketches, and the coloring book was formatted and rushed to production in order to release the same time as the novel.

And I am so pleased with the result!

Get your very own copy here and see what all the fuss is about!

Oh, I hope you love it as much as I do!

In Him,

Michele

Ready for your scavenger hunt clue? Here it is:

Missing the rest of the clues? (Hint: There are 14 in all…) Check out the rest of the blog tour here!

If you have gathered all of the clues, then here is the link to enter them into the drawing.

The prize? One paperback of Ending Fear and one copy of the Coloring Book. Isn’t that great?

Oh, yes! TODAY IS THE FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY! Join us to win tons–and I do mean tons–of prizes and get to know this incredible author. She’s a rockstar!

Now, about the author and illustrator:

Deanna Fugett:

Deanna Fugett’s heart belongs to writing. Author of edgy YA Dystopian fiction with an underlying message of hope, this stay-at-home mom of four focuses on writing as much as humanly possible. She was published at the young age of six in a local newspaper and is excited to be published again. It only took twenty-six years. She enjoys the thrill of writing fiction that deals with intense topics and prays it will impact people for the better. Visit www.DeannaFugett.com to learn more about her.

Keighley Kendig:

Artist Keighley Kendig began drawing when she could barely walk and hasn’t stopped since. She landed her dream job at Disney World, where she sees dreams come true every day. She adores bringing book characters to life with her many artistic endeavors.
You can contact her at keighleychristina [at] yahoo [dot] com to book her for your own coloring book or project, or you can follow her on Instagram at @keighleyk to learn more about her.

About the Coloring Book:

A companion coloring book to the YA dystopian novel Ending Fear by Deanna Fugett.

Fourteen-year-old Fear learns she was a parachute baby, dumped over the edge of the Gliding Lands as an infant. Running from her abusive Downer family, Fear discovers a new family—one who knows how to love. But then her new little sister is kidnapped and sold to a harem. Fear must go against her namesake and journey to the dreaded Gliding Lands before the little girl’s innocence is ripped from her forever. Can she save Happy in time?

Bring the characters of Deanna Fugett’s debut novel to life with lovely illustrations by the talented artist Keighley Kendig!

Buy now and tell me if you love it as much as I do!

Interview with Carrie Anne Noble

You guys, I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this new book, The Gold-Son by Carrie Anne Noble.

I listened to The Mermaid’s Sister on Audible on the way home from PENCON, and Oh. My. Freaking. Goodness.

So good.

Then Carrie Anne Noble asked if anyone would be willing to host her for The Gold-Son’s release. Can I help it if I knocked everyone else over to get my hands on an ARC of this book?

(Okay, I wasn’t that brutal, but still…)

I’ve read it, I love it, and I’m beyond excited to have the author on my blog today.

(You guys should totally be freaking out with me. Eep!)

Hi Carrie! Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today! I’ve got so many questions for you about your brilliant books, I hope you don’t mind my fangirling just the teeniest-tiniest bit. I love your stories!

  • What fairy tales did you borrow from, or did you make The Gold-Son entirely your own tale?

For The Gold-Son, I researched Irish leprechaun folklore, and then I took some of the traditional beliefs and wove them together with my own ideas. For example, according to legend, leprechauns live underground, so I went with that—and then added that leprechauns have a network of towns below ground, with shops and roads and pubs just like humans have. I also decided that leprechauns eat mostly mushrooms (because what else can you grow in the dark for food?).

Well, of course! And I loved learning more about them.

  • Why did you choose first person for The Mermaid’s Sister and third person for The Gold-Son?

The Mermaid’s Sister was written in first person because it was a very personal story for me, a fictionalized journey through my real-life grief at the loss of my sister. The Gold-Son was written more as a return to the joy and fun of writing. To me, third person seemed like the best way to convey both Tommin’s and Eve’s experiences.

Oh, how achingly beautiful! I am so sorry, Carrie. I loved the way you conveyed each story.

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It really depends on the day.

When the words are flowing, it can be quite exhilarating. When I’m stuck revising a pesky scene for hours, it can suck the life right out of me. Thank heaven for the rejuvenating qualities of chocolate!

Amen! Chocolate wins everything.

  • I recently listened to the audiobook of The Mermaid’s Sister, and it was stunning. Will we see any of the same characters in your new book, The Gold-Son?

The Gold-Son contains a whole new cast of characters: a kindhearted shoemaker’s apprentice addicted to stealing, a mute young woman held hostage by magic, a wicked leprechaun bent on dominating fairy-kind, a shape shifting bat-boy, and more! By the way, I’m completely thrilled to report that Irish actor Gerard Doyle narrated the audiobook for The Gold-Son. It’s just enchanting!

Excuse me while I pause everything and go preorder that too. Swoon!

  • Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

So far I’ve only written stand-alone books with characters unique to each one. The thought of writing a series is rather daunting to me, but I might try someday! What my books have in common (my “brand”) is the blending of historical fiction and fairy tale elements, with a little dash of whimsy. It’s what I like to read, and what I most enjoy creating.

And that whimsy is enchanting! Each story is truly a unique blend of history and fairy tale woven together.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do some online and library research before I start writing the first draft, and then as I write I stop to check the odd historical fact now and then. Readers are pretty savvy and will call you out for giving a character a pocket watch before they were invented, or for having characters eat foods unavailable in their region. I enjoy the trivia of history, so fact checking is a fun distraction sometimes.

Ahem. This may be the reason I love writing fantasy… Pocket watch wasn’t invented yet? Bam! Alternate history. Lol! But in all seriousness, your attention to detail amazes me. Well done!

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I’ve spent as a writer has been the money spent attending writers’ conferences such as St. Davids and Realm Makers. I heartily believe that taking classes to improve your craft and networking with others in the business are essential stepping stones to becoming a successful writer—especially for introverts like me. Writing is such a solitary art; it’s refreshing to come out of your lair and meet people who understand the weirdness of a writer’s brain! To anyone who thinks they can’t afford to attend conferences: check conference websites for scholarship opportunities and take the plunge!

Woohoo! Realm Makers is the best! (Only my favorite writers’ conference ever…)

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I don’t know what I’d do without the feedback and encouragement I receive from writers in my local NaNoWriMo group (including my prized beta-reader, the talented, multi-published short story writer Amanda C. Davis) and the members of my local critique group! Also, Rysa Walker, who won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, gave me loads of helpful advice and support throughout the publishing process for The Mermaid’s Sister when it won the ABNA for the YA category in 2014. I’ve made quite a few writer friends at conferences—too many to name here, for sure! Having peers to cheer you on and steer you toward growth is priceless, especially on days you’re struggling with doubt or nasty reviews.

Absolutely! Oh, I’m so glad you have such a wonderful group of supportive writers!

  • What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

For English class in fifth grade, I had to write a story based on an interview with an older family member. I wrote about my great grandmother’s childhood summers at a farm. It taught me how powerfully words work to preserve memories and sensory experiences that would otherwise be forgotten. Maybe that’s why I’m still drawn to historical fiction; it keeps parts of the past alive, allowing us to experience in our imaginations the world as it was for our predecessors.

That is lovely.

  • What does literary success look like to you?

To me, literary success means having readers enjoy my stories, and also being able to help pay the bills—while honoring God who gave me the gift of words.

I do believe I need to frame this for my office. So well said!

  • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t stop writing just because some people fail to appreciate your passion. Do it for yourself, and for the joy of it, and eventually all your practice will pay off!

Thank you, Carrie! I have loved getting to know you better, and I adore your new book!

What do you think, dearest readers? Are you ready to immerse yourself in The Gold-Son’s world?

Get thyself to the nearest bookstore (or, you know, Amazon) forthwith!

In Him,

Michele

*Photo Credit: Tonya Wilhelm Photography

About the Author:

In the wake of her checkered past as a theatre student, restaurant hostess, certified nurse aide, and newspaper writer, Carrie Anne now writes novels and short stories–mostly for a Young Adult audience. She lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with her tolerant husband, four charming children, two naughty cats, a not-so-bright dog, and some really-not-so-bright chickens. The chickens do not live in the house.

Her favorite authors include Mervyn Peake, Neil Gaiman, Maggie Stiefvater, Ardyth Kennelly, Catherine Cookson, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

When not reading or writing, Carrie Anne enjoys sewing, attempting to garden, and having tea parties with friends (preferably Mad Hatter style!).

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The Mermaid’s Sister:

2014 Winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner for Young Adult Fiction

2016 Winner of the Realm Award for Speculative Novel of the Year

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