Category Archives: Book Review

My Favorite Part of Common by Laurie Lucking

Well, okay, let’s be honest here: I can’t tell you my favorite favorite part, because it’s at the end, and I don’t do spoilers.

(It’s sooooo good, you guys.)

But my second favorite part is near the beginning of the book, when Rafe, or Prince Raphael, and Leah are beginning to realize their feelings for each other.

You see, Leah is about to reach her Maturity–her sixteenth birthday–and Rafe makes it unforgettable by giving her a special present…well, why don’t I just show you? ;)

An excerpt from Common by Laurie Lucking:

My breath caught when I spied the glimmer of a candle in the window of Rafe’s chambers that evening. Though I’d tried to tell myself a servant’s birthday was of no consequence to a prince, I couldn’t help wishing he might remember. I struggled to keep my steps measured as I made my way to our closet. Did Rafe have something planned?
I pulled open the door.
Rafe jumped to his feet and produced a small box from his pocket. Approaching where I stood just inside the door, he presented it to me with a gallant bow. “I’ve been waiting all day to see you. Happy birthday.”
Gooseflesh crawled up my arms, and my pulse quickened. This was just the warm reception I’d hoped for, but now the reality of accepting a gift from Rafe made me want to turn and escape back down the hall. “You’re sweet, but this really isn’t necessary.”
He took a step closer. “Of course it is. Even if it’s only marked by your mother and myself, I think your reaching your Maturity is of the highest importance.”
My fingertips brushed his as I took the box from his hand. The brief touch produced a rush of warmth in my cheeks. Keeping my head down, I gently lifted the lid. The sight of an emerald pendant strung on a delicate silver chain propelled a rush of air from my lungs.
“Rafe! I…” I gulped. If anything, I’d expected a pastry or ribbon. Nothing like this. Few of the courtiers around the palace possessed a jewel so exquisite, and he was giving it to me? “I’m not sure I can accept this.”
His mouth fell open. “What’s the matter? You don’t like it?”
How could I explain my reservations without hurting his feelings? “It’s beautiful. Stunning. But it’s too much.”
A trace of his smile returned. “When I saw it in the marketplace last week, it reminded me so strongly of the color of your eyes, I knew you had to have it.”
That Rafe had been thinking of me in the middle of the marketplace—reflecting on my eyes, no less—sent a new surge of heat into my face. “But you must’ve had to barter something substantial for it.”
“I’m the prince, remember?” He leaned on the wall next to him, propped up by his hand. “I’m not required to barter.”
I backed against the door. “You mean you took this from the vendor without giving him anything in exchange?”
Rafe’s brows knit. “That’s always how it’s done in the royal family. We provide food, shelter, and protection for our citizens, and in turn, they offer their services without expecting any additional reward.”
Though it didn’t seem right, it should’ve come as no surprise. The queen never offered anything for Ma’s work on her gowns. “But even if it didn’t cost you anything…when would I wear it? None of the other maids own anything half as fine.”
“I guess I hadn’t thought of that.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “But still, you must keep it. Surely someday an opportunity will arise for you to wear it. In the meantime, you can hide it here and simply enjoy viewing it once in a while.”
He knew me too well. In spite of my protests, I was having trouble tearing my gaze away from the rich emerald as its various facets caught the moonlight. I steeled myself to argue further.
He put out a hand to stop me. “It’s yours. I’ll make it an official order if I have to. I can’t return it without causing the jeweler offense, and what would I do with a necklace? If it makes you feel better, I promise I’ll recommend him to every noblewoman in the kingdom so that his business ought to thrive. Please, just accept it. As a token of my friendship.”
I shook my head, my smile refusing to hide. “Thank you, Rafe. You will be happy to know this is the most momentous birthday I’ve ever had.”
His deep gray eyes brightened with pleasure. “Good, that’s exactly what I was hoping for. And you’re welcome.”
I crossed the room to sit on one of the barrels, still clutching the open box.
Rafe took a seat on an adjoining barrel. “Even if you won’t be able to wear it out there anytime soon, would you like to try it on?”
“I would, but…” Embarrassment clenched my stomach. “I don’t even know how to unfasten the clasp.”
He chuckled, taking the box from my hands. “Who would’ve guessed I’d end up teaching a young lady about jewelry?” He lifted the pendant off its small satin pillow, letting it dangle as he took the clasp between each thumb and index finger. “Here, it’s really quite simple.”
My mind still reeled from the enormity of the gift, making it impossible to concentrate as he demonstrated the workings of the catch mechanism.
He paused and held the ends apart. “Now turn around and lift your hair.”
I obeyed, holding my breath as he brought the pendant to lie at the base of my throat. His warm fingers grazed my neck as he secured the clasp, sending a tingle through my shoulders. Thank the new moon he couldn’t read my expression.
Rafe cleared his throat. “There.”
I lowered my braid to rest on my back once more and turned toward him. Reluctant to meet his eye, I glanced down at the gleaming jewel that produced such a stark contrast to the patched, faded bodice of my dress.
His gaze flitted to the pendant before returning to my face. “Perfect.”

{Get your own copy of Common right here!}

Happy sigh.

Isn’t that incredible?

And the best part?

Author Laurie Lucking is giving away an emerald necklace at her Facebook Launch party tonight, in honor of this breathtaking scene from her book!

Anyone is welcome to come (in fact, you can RSVP right here), and anyone in the U.S. can enter to win this beauty by showing up and commenting on the post.

Will I see you there?

And just because I love you, here are a few sneak peeks of other giveaways this evening.

See you in just a few hours!

In Him,

Michele

Want to know more about Common or perhaps order your own copy?

Check out the book description and order here!

Want to learn more behind-the-scenes facts about Common?

Check out the rest of the blog tour here!

And do not miss the Facebook Release Party tonight! It will be awesome!

About the Author:

An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

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!

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