Tag Archives: fantasy fiction

Book Spotlight and Author Interview — Succession

8 Dec

About The Book

Book: Succession

Author: Brett Armstrong

Genre: Christian Epic Fantasy

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Son of the Northern Realm’s Defender, raised among dwarfs of Ordumair, Meredoch was anticipated to succeed his father. Some whispered he would bring the longed-for peace between Ordumair and their ancient foe, Ecthelowall. All of that changes when Ordumair’s Thane is killed and Meredoch and his family are exiled. From prestige to poverty, the young boy must chart a new course.

As the years pass and the idol that was his father’s legacy tarnishes, Meredoch’s past resurfaces. An artifact of immeasurable worth to Ordumair is found. If recovered by the wrong hands, disaster would befall those Meredoch serves and cares about. Battling creatures believed only myths and racing against evil toward the prize, Meredoch must face the truth of his place in the world and claim his right of succession.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About The Author

From an early age, Brett Armstrong had a love for literature and history. At age nine, he combined the two for his first time in a short story set in the last days of the Aztec Empire. After that, writing’s role in his life waxed and waned periodically, always a dream on the horizon, till he reached college. At West Virginia University, he entered the Computer Engineering program and spent two years pursuing that degree before an opportunity to take a creative writing class, for fun, came along. It was so enjoyable, he took another and in that course he discovered two things. The first was the plot for a short story called Destitutio Quod Remissio, which the others students really seemed to love. The second, he realized he absolutely loved writing. For him, it was like the proverbial light bulb coming on. In the years since, describing that epiphany has been difficult for him, but he found the words of 1924 Olympian Eric Liddell are the most eloquent expression for it: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” God gave Brett a passion for writing, and so feels His pleasure when writing.

Brett lives in Saint Albans, West Virginia, with his beautiful wife, Shelly. In the summer the pair gardens together, and each day Brett continues writing his next novel.

 

More from Brett

The Lowlands are on the edge of dramatic changes. In every era, warriors for the High King must rise to keep the light burning and hold back the beasts of the darkness that most believe only myth. But those creatures of lore wait for the nightfall that will allow them to roam free and relish that complacency.

None of the protagonists in the Quest of Fire saga — Anargen, Jason, and, in Succession, Meredoch — realize how great a change is coming. Anargen is from a quiet, little town that has stood unchanged and insular for centuries. Jason has been running from a darkness in his past so long he only looks to his next step, never what’s coming ahead. Meredoch grew up with high hopes for his future, proud of his family’s legacy. In the course of the saga, each faces a moment when what they’d clung to and trusted in fails them. For Anargen it’s his quaint life, Jason self-absorption, and Meredoch his family pride. In losing those things, however, each gains something. The chance to join the ancient Quest of Fire on behalf of the High King of All Realms. There’s a passage in The Gathering Dark that sums it up nicely. “Life is filled with losses full of greater gains.”

What excites me to write and share the Quest of Fire saga is showing through sweeping epic fantasy the way these characters stand firm. Though not the only spiritual theme woven into the stories, both The Gathering Dark and Succession invite readers to journey with these characters to the brink, risking their lives, and find there the greatest gain.

 

 But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. — Acts 20:24

 

Q&A with Brett Armstrong

By The Book — Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

Brett Armstrong — I’m not sure when I first started writing. I do remember very well the first time I wrote a short story that I could call original. I was nine and I had been reading about the Aztec Empire. I don’t know why I thought I should but I started writing a story about a slave from a conquered tribe who escaped being offered as a sacrifice. He wanted revenge and slipped into and rose through the ranks of Aztec society till at last he was poised to strike Emperor himself. I remember making cover art and putting a publishing house name I made up on it, so it would be like a real book. So, I guess that moment where I took what I had read and wrote something new was when I became a writer. It’s a long way from when I decided I would pursue writing seriously instead of just as a personal hobby, but that’s the inflection point I best remember.

BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

Brett — There have been many. My mom got me hooked on reading and was my first editor, beta reader, and cheerleader. I had several teachers compliment my writing, but one high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. Brock, seemed the most earnest about it. I will say one person who had a huge impact is my wife. There was a period of time in college where I had given up writing, because I thought I needed to be “serious” and “realistic” about my future goals. I was also kind of miserable. My wife, who was then my girlfriend, encouraged me to take some creative writing classes for fun and when I did the difference in how I felt was such a stark contrast that I realized writing, to whatever degree of skill or quality, was something I was made to do. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t encouraged me to take those classes.

BTB — Why did you choose fantasy genre?

Brett  — This might sound like high art nonsense, but I feel like a story chooses its genre for you. The characters, setting, and events of the story all have to complement one another. Certain characters should only realistically exist in a certain world and were shaped by certain events. The events of the story further shape the characters and the characters the events, with the setting constraining what can and can’t happen. 

By the time I have one scene really fleshed out in my head, I usually have a strong sense of what genre the story will be in because of the way the story is unfolding. For Quest of Fire, high/epic fantasy just seemed right for the way history and storytelling itself had to participate in the way events unfolded. Fantasy is an ancient genre in some ways so a story that needed to feel like it spanned centuries and united such different protagonists (Anargen and Jason), felt like it had to be something that has been with and inspired and excited people for ages.

BTB — Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication?

Brett — Myself mostly. My naiveté, arrogance, self-doubt, ignorance, and over-eagerness for publishing really almost wrecked me. The Lord has really kind of had to take the reins from me a few times to show me that the way I had planned things and do still sometimes isn’t what he had in mind and that I need to develop more patience and discipline and to not have a thin skin about this. I’ve learned a lot through my mistakes but the early ones really hurt and I’m sometimes stubborn about learning my lessons.

BTB — What types of research do you pursue? Books, on-site visits, etc.

All of the above, though not necessarily all for every book. I tend to write about things I already have a pretty solid background in, because those are the things I read and think about and get inspiration from and around. That’s a big help and then I read more books, online articles, and look over a lot of images. For fantasy stories it’s about finding something real to ground the fantastical around. If it feels real, even if the circumstances are crazy then the story world comes to life. I’ve been asked about my visits to places I’ve never been physically and a lot of that has to do with finding something that will anchor the story to reality and then building the backdrop around it.

 BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

Brett — I’m not very structured at all. Abysmally distant from it in fact. Part of it is I’m a procrastinator and the other part is I work full time as the infectious disease data manager for my state to support my family and I try not to take away from the family time I have in evenings. Finding a steady writing rhythm is tricky, especially with the increase in hours and stress COVID has brought to my work. So, during break times and late nights I’ll jot down notes as they hit me and flesh them out and over time work them together.

BTB — How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

Brett — It depends on a few factors so there’s a pretty wide range. The biggest thing is how long the story takes to reach a place where the story feels ready. The Gathering Dark took more than a decade and Succession took about a year. My other books fall somewhere in between those extremes. Part of it is circumstantial. At different times of year and over the years I’ve had more or less time to focus on getting a particular story finished and a lot of the time is waiting till I’ve found the right publisher and the publisher feels like it’s the right time to release. Like I said before, patience is something I have to work on so I’m usually not a huge fan of those long waits, but they’re invariably worth it. If I had to give a discrete average figure, I would say three years.

BTB — Can you tell us a little about what inspired your latest novel.

Brett — Succession started as an outlet for the growing lore of the Lowlands in the Quest of Fire saga. There were so many things about Ord culture and history that had to be cut from The Gathering Dark. Some of the Ord histories were really compelling to me and gave significance to both elements throughout the books in the series. At the same time, I wanted to explore one character in particular from The Gathering Dark. For those who have read that book, Meredoch, of course, goes by a different name for most its events.

I’ve known parts of Meredoch’s backstory for years as I worked on book 1, but one scene really made me pause. In Chapter 15 of The Gathering Dark, Meredoch is riding through the woods singing a sorrowful song. At the time of writing that scene, the song was meant to give depth to another character’s suffering, but as I started to piece together what brought that song to Meredoch’s mind in that moment, Succession suddenly became much more than a character exercise or outlet for world-building and lore.

Forgiveness is at the core of Succession. It’s the fulcrum on which the pressures Meredoch endures will cause his rise or fall. I didn’t realize until I was getting caught up in its writing how hard Meredoch’s life had been and thus how hard that choice to forgive would be. Choosing it would mean letting go of bitterness that was mutually held. Those he hated wouldn’t stop hating him. Choosing to forgive in that way is really a reflection of Christ’s forgiveness and love. Once I saw that the story started to weave together for me.

BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

Brett — I would feel really satisfied if at the end of each book readers felt moved. I hope my stories resonate deeply and for followers of Christ encourage them and renew the wonder and awe they have for the awesome God we belong to and serve. Life has a way of dulling our perception of Him. We see everything in a mirror darkly, as the Apostle Paul said, and I feel like Western culture does a good job of distracting us from the mirror altogether. My sincere prayer is that after reading the adventures of Quest of Fire, readers would catch the fiery and wondrous vision afresh and be encouraged to stand firmly in the faith. Entertaining and exciting readers is definitely a priority, but what I want most is to share a compelling story that readers can see themselves in and carry with them long after the last page.

BTB — Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

Brett — Thank you for asking. I always appreciate the chance to share what’s ahead because that’s what I’m usually most excited about! Right now, I’m finishing the latest draft of a historical fiction novella set in 4th Century AD Rome about three men — a coward, a traitor, and a spy — caught up in a web of political intrigue that threatens to destroy the church in Rome during a time of persecution. It’s a story I’ve picked up and put down multiple times over the years and is really close to done.

I’m also working slowly but surely to have the next Quest of Fire novel, Shadows at Nightfall, ready for its release date in September of 2021. Some elements of the story have been with me for a long time and some are fresh so I’m super excited for sharing this one soon. Jason and Anargen are going to have to face darkness that is within them and literal manifestations of the darkness without particularly from a society of arcane assassins called the Sombra who can merge in and out of shadows at will. For those who enjoy The Gathering Dark and Succession it’s going to be tragic and sweeping and intense ride.

Blog Stops

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 1

Inklings and notions, December 2

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 3

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 4 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 5

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 7

By The Book, December 8 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 8

Texas Book-aholic, December 9

Artistic Nobody, December 10 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Stories By Gina, December 11

deb’s Book Review, December 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 12

Guild Master, December 13

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 14

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Brett is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card, bookmarks, and a magnet themed around Brett’s books!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10452/succession-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Spotlight And Author Interview — Heart of The Ajs

26 May

About The Book

Book:  Heart of the Ajs

Author: T.E. Bradford

Genre:  Fantasy / Sci-Fi blend

Release Date: September 16, 2019

She has magic she cannot use…

He has a secret she must uncover.

THE SIX WORLDS OF BAQA

ASFAR, first planet from the sun is a desert planet steeped in superstition and tradition. Nafisa el Faruz is the princess, defender of the sun and champion of her people. Hers is the most powerful magic—zaman, holder of time.

TRINITOS, third planet, is home to the sky gate and the wicked man who controls its use, the Ajs An’hlj. He is yunfah—a wind walker, one who can control the air itself. The only thing he covets more than control is power, and he has his sights set on Nafisa.

 

Click here to get your copy.

 

About The Author

Tracy Bradford is the author of the Divide Series, Six World Sagas, and International Bestseller: Kindled Legends – Written in the Stars.

When she’s not busy writing, she can be found taking a scenic drive with her family, snapping photos, or giving voices to her son’s stuffed animals. She reclines her feet in Upstate New York with her very own grumpy kitty, the husband God made just for her, and the son who is her forever best story.

 

More from Tracy

A large part of the plot for Heart of the Ajs stemmed from a conversation I had with my son. He’d asked me why he still had bad dreams, even after praying for God to take them away.

I searched for the words to explain why God doesn’t always say yes. Sometimes he says no. Or maybe. Or wait–which for me is the hardest answer of all. I thought of an example from when we’d been looking for a new house and didn’t get the one we’d been hoping for. We were so disappointed. But God had a better house in mind for us. We just didn’t know it yet. And at one point my job became very toxic, when after seven years of work I got pregnant and suddenly managers who’d promoted me several times were telling me I wasn’t cutting it. God had a better job in mind for me. I just didn’t know it yet.

I started to wonder if I could weave this truth into a story I’d been working on about a girl who didn’t feel her father or God were listening. She couldn’t see a way out, or understand how anything good could come from where she was.

Yet our precious Heavenly Father always has a plan. A perfect, incredible plan far beyond our wildest imaginings. One He is faithful to reveal with perfect timing.

Even if we may not know it yet.

 

Q&A With T. E. Bradford

 

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time author, and also have a full-time job. Believe it or not, I think it affects my writing positively. Not only does it push me to finish pieces, it also provides and endless source of ideas and information I can use when building characters and worlds.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Heart of the Ajs is a mashup of Sci-Fi and Fantasy in all the best ways. Set on a desert planet with a middle-eastern feel, it pits strong-willed Nafisa not only against a dangerous and deadly man, but against her own doubts. It is, above all else, a story of faith — even in the face of uncertainty.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Book Two in my YA/Fantasy series is set to release soon. It’s called Child of Destiny, and is a stand-alone, but continues the story and characters introduced in Book One – Child of Prophecy. I’m also working on a new Dystopian about a cult-like group called The Congregation, who separate themselves to avoid contact with the “infected” and one young member named Evangeline, who stumbles onto a truth that will not only change all she’s ever known, but alter the future of an entire generation.

How do you find or make time to write?

Now that IS a good question. LOL  With a full-time job, a young son, and all the demands that accompany editing and selling your work, finding the time to actually write can be challenging. Thankfully I’ve always been a night owl. I use those precious hours after everyone else is in bed to find my quiet, happy place. I often look up to the ceiling and whisper to those sleeping above, “Up there it’s their time… but down here… down here is OUR time.” Any Goonies fans out there will understand (wink, wink).

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

Certainly, The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. The idea of Aslan telling the children that he brought them to Narnia so that knowing him by one name for a little, they might know him better in their world is one that will always resonate with me. Or Contact, by Carl Sagan. Which contains one of the best messages about faith I’ve ever found. Oh, there are so many! How do you pick just one?!?

 

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, May 21

Artistic Nobody, May 22 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 23

Blossoms and Blessings, May 24 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, May 25

By The Book, May 26 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, May 27

For the Love of Literature, May 28 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, May 29

Wishful Endings, May 30 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 31

deb’s Book Review, June 1

A Baker’s Perspective, June 2 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, June 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, T.E. is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Amazon Gift Card, a signed copy of my book Child of Prophecy, a piece of raw onyx, and a genuine Jasper stone heart necklace!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fa03/heart-of-the-ajs-celebration-tour-giveaway

Top 10 Tuesday — Reasons to Love Speculative Fiction

19 May

I am a very eclectic reader. I will read just about any genre. I do have some exceptions, but since I read Christian fiction almost exclusively, I don’t have to worry about some of the more explicit scenes/language that can crop up. 😉 While my time is spent mostly in reading real life stuff, whether contemporary or historical, I do like a good speculative novel as well. So what is speculative fiction?

Speculative fiction: a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements.

The speculative fiction genre includes allegory, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, time travel, alternate history, dystopian fiction, etc. While the general market has lots of speculative fiction, there is not as much published in the Christian market, so you have to look for it. Enclave Publishing is one imprint that publishes spec fiction exclusively and is a good place to go to get your fix or to get you started on a new adventure in reading. Note: while the definition of spec fic states that the settings of the book are other than real world, I think some of the best examples of the genre take the real world and pull back a curtain that keeps us from seeing the whole picture. Those books use creative elements to help us process and imagine those things we just can’t see.

For my Top 10 Tuesday post, I have included the reasons I like spec fiction, as well as some suggested books for you to check out. Hope you enjoy!

Top Reasons to Love Speculative Fiction

 

Takes you to another world.

Prophet by R. J. Larson 

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she’s much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne’s elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Yet she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

The Story Peddler by Lindsay Franklin

Selling stories is a deadly business

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

Allows you to travel in time and space.

The Bright Empires Series (5 books) by Stephen Lawhead

It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tattooed on human skin. Across an omniverse of intersecting realities. To unravel the future of the future.

Kit Livingstone’s great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code — a roadmap of symbols — that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

The Bright Empires series — from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead — is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning, adventure like no other.

Makes you think about the supernatural world.

The Chair by James Rubart

When an elderly lady shows up in Corin Roscoe’s antiques store and gives him a chair she claims was built by Christ, he scoffs. But when a young boy is miraculously healed after sitting in the chair, he stops laughing and starts to wonder. Could the chair heal the person whose life he destroyed twelve years ago?

As word spreads of the boy’s healing, a mega-church pastor is determined to manipulate Corin into turning over the chair. And that mysterious woman who gave him the piece says it’s Corin’s destiny to guard the chair above everything else. But why?

Desperate, he turns to the one person he can trust, a college history professor who knows more about the legend of the chair than he reveals.

Searching for the truth about the artifact, and the unexplained phenomena surrounding it, Corin soon realizes he isn’t the only one willing to do anything to possess the power that surrounds The Chair.

Gives fresh perspective on everyday life.

The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings

Lost luggage can ruin any trip. But what if it could change your life?

A mother of three hoping to survive the days at her perfect sister’s perfect house before her niece’s wedding.

A hothead businessman coming to the city for a showdown meeting to save his job.

And a young artist pursuing his father’s sports dream so he can keep his own alive.

When Gillian, David, and Michael each take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, the airline directs them to retrieve their bags at a mysterious facility in a deserted part of the city. There they meet the enigmatic Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed, and carrying it with them is slowing them down in ways they can’t imagine. And they must deal with it before they can leave.

 

Gives you a little (or a lot) of thrills and chills!

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man’s untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.

It has been twenty years since Philip McBride’s body was found along the riverbank in the dark woods known as Happy Hollow. His death was ruled a suicide. But three people have carried the truth ever since—Philip didn’t kill himself that day. He was murdered.

Each of the three have wilted in the shadow of their sins. Jake Barnett is Mattingly’s sheriff, where he spends his days polishing the fragile shell of the man he pretends to be. His wife, Kate, has convinced herself the good she does for the poor will someday wash the blood from her hands. And high in the mountains, Taylor Hathcock lives in seclusion and fear, fueled by madness and hatred.

Yet what cannot be laid to rest is bound to rise again. Philip McBride has haunted Jake’s dreams for weeks, warning that he is coming back for them all. When Taylor finds mysterious footprints leading from the Hollow, he believes his redemption has come. His actions will plunge the quiet town of Mattingly into darkness. These three will be drawn together for a final confrontation between life and death . . . between truth and lies.

House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker

Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker—two of the most acclaimed writers of supernatural thrillers—have joined forces for the first time to craft a story unlike any you’ve ever read. Enter House — where you’ll find yourself thrown into a killer’s deadly game in which the only way to win is to lose . . . and the only way out is in. The stakes of the game become clear when a tin can is tossed into the house with rules scrawled on it. Rules that only a madman — or worse — could have written. Rules that make no sense yet must be followed. One game. Seven players. Three rules. Game ends at dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Books I Loved, But Rarely Talk About

14 Apr

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is an interesting one — books loved, but not talked about. I am always talking books, but are there some that get neglected because it has been years since I read them, or they fit in a genre that my friends don’t read? I’m not sure the reason, but I am here to rectify the matter! 😉 Have you read any on my list? Did you love them too?

For more books deserving of a conversation, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books I Loved

 

Bad Ground by Dale Cramer

Poignant and thought provoking, this is a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous novel filled with suspense, action, redemption, and even romance. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Prine decides to honor his mother’s dying wish and seek out his estranged uncle who was badly burned in the accident that killed Jeremy’s father. He ¹nds the man working as a hard-rock miner in the south, an extremely dangerous occupation. His uncle seems a bitter and lonely man, but Jeremy senses more beneath the surface. Against his uncle’s wishes, Jeremy takes a job as a miner and soon his young faith is tested by his rough and gritty co-workers, the threat of danger . . .  and the possibility of love.

The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy

Before Audrey was the baker’s wife, she was the pastor’s wife.

Then a scandalous lie cost her husband a pastoral career. Now the two work side-by-side running a bakery, serving coffee, and baking fresh bread. But the hurt still pulls at Audrey.

Driving early one morning to the bakery, Audrey’s car strikes something — or someone — at a fog-shrouded intersection. She finds a motor scooter belonging to a local teacher. Blood is everywhere, but there’s no trace of a body.

Both the scooter and the blood belong to detective Jack Mansfield’s wife, and he’s certain that Audrey is behind Julie’s disappearance.

But the case dead-ends and the detective spirals into madness. When he takes her family and some patrons hostage at the bakery, Audrey is left with a soul-damaged ex-con and a cynical teen to solve the mystery. And she’ll never manage that unless she taps into something she would rather leave behind — her excruciating ability to feel other’s pain.

A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr

The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

The Church Ladies by Lisa Samson

Competition for church members in Mount Oak has reached a furious peak. When tragedy strikes one of their hometown sons, the church women are drawn together through compassion. The Church Ladies is a contemporary tale illustrating how women can have a major impact on the church. Through friendships that reach beneath surface level — and trials more severe than simple — they unite with common purpose: to pray, share, and comfort. Slowly, the community of believers learns that the church grows when it is rooted in love. Characters you’ll laugh and cry with, in situations every woman will instantly relate to, light up this page-turner about a miracle that could happen anywhere.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffee

For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man’s untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.

It has been twenty years since Philip McBride’s body was found along the riverbank in the dark woods known as Happy Hollow. His death was ruled a suicide. But three people have carried the truth ever since—Philip didn’t kill himself that day. He was murdered.

Each of the three have wilted in the shadow of their sins. Jake Barnett is Mattingly’s sheriff, where he spends his days polishing the fragile shell of the man he pretends to be. His wife, Kate, has convinced herself the good she does for the poor will someday wash the blood from her hands. And high in the mountains, Taylor Hathcock lives in seclusion and fear, fueled by madness and hatred.

Yet what cannot be laid to rest is bound to rise again. Philip McBride has haunted Jake’s dreams for weeks, warning that he is coming back for them all. When Taylor finds mysterious footprints leading from the Hollow, he believes his redemption has come. His actions will plunge the quiet town of Mattingly into darkness. These three will be drawn together for a final confrontation between life and death . . . between truth and lies.

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

Riveting Race against the Clock to Save a Young Woman’s Life

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily. Gloria’s relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman’s apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer. . .or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue

At age forty-two, Allison Chamberlain is still making a half-hearted attempt to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Although she has been a pew-sitting member of a church for seven years, “prophet” has never been on the short list of possible careers.

Then one Sunday Allison senses a divine nudge to buy a Harley motorcycle and go wherever it takes her. Soon she is wondering if she is called to present the reality of Christ to one of society’s darkest corners — and challenge her own church to look beyond their fears.

River’s Song by Melody Carlson

Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing — a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

The Singleton family’s fortunes seem unaffected by the Great Depression, and Perri–along with the other girls at Atlanta’s elite Washington Seminary–lives a carefree life of tea dances with college boys, matinees at the cinema, and debut parties. But when tragedies strike, Perri is confronted with a world far different from the one she has always known.

At the insistence of her parents, Mary “Dobbs” Dillard, the daughter of an itinerant preacher, is sent from inner-city Chicago to live with her aunt and attend Washington Seminary, bringing confrontation and radical ideas. Her arrival intersects at the point of Perri’s ultimate crisis, and the tragedy forges an unlikely friendship.

The Sweetest Thing tells the story of two remarkable young women–opposites in every way–fighting for the same goal: surviving tumultuous change.

Uncharted by Angela Hunt

When a group of college friends reunites for a trip to the Marshall Islands, they find themselves stranded on an uncharted island unlike any they’ve seen in the vicinity. They list their priorities—find water, food, and a way off the island — but the place itself opens their eyes to realities beyond their comprehension. Six friends accept one invitation and take an unexpected journey that changes their lives forever.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Single Word Titles

3 Mar

Book titles are very important in attracting a potential reader’s interest. Catchy, funny, and punny titles often catch my eye. But there is something about those one word titles — succinct, decisive, powerful. My list consists of the last 10 books I read with one word titles (just one word; no defining articles). They cover a variety of genres — mystery, historical, suspense, speculative, romance — something for everyone!

For more Top 10 Tuesday fun, make sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 One Word Titles

 

Convergence by Ginny Yttrup (suspense)

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren (historical romance)

Miriam by Mesu Andrews (Biblical)

Prophet by R J Larson (fantasy)

Reign by Ginger Garrett (Biblical)

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (romantic suspense)

Silenced by Dani Pettrey (romantic suspense)

Stratagem by Robin Caroll (suspense)

Synapse by Steven James (speculative)

Undercut by Heather Day Gilbert (mystery)

Top 10 Tuesday — New to Me Authors

14 Jan

2019 was a great year for reading! I discovered a number of new and exciting authors. Discovered, as in I read them for the first time. Some of the authors had been published before and some had debut releases. (Some I met in person last year — squee!) You may be familiar with some or all of them, but in case you aren’t, they are all recommended by me. I look forward to more great books to discover from these authors.

 Hope you discover a new author too!

 

For more bookish discoveries across the blogosphere, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Amanda Barratt — My Dearest Dietrich

Erin Bartels — We Hope for Better Things

Victoria Bylin — When He Found Me

Cathy Gohlke — The Medallion

Janet Ferguson — The Art of Rivers

Lindsay Franklin — The Story Peddler

James Hannibal — The Gryphon Heist

Kristi Ann Hunter — A Defense of Honor

Tara Johnson — Engraved on The Heart

David Rawlings — The Baggage Handler

Linda Thompson — The Plum Blooms in Winter

Abigail Wilson — In The Shadows of Croft Towers

 

What new author did you discover last year?

 

Book Review: The Story Peddler

26 Nov

Selling stories is a deadly business

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories — she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

 

Lindsay A. Franklin would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their three geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following. You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.

 

My Impressions: 

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin is the best kind of fantasy — one in which the author masterfully creates a new world that is different enough to engage and intrigue the reader, yet has a touch of the familiar to allow the reader to enter effortlessly into its world and story. I can hardly believe that this YA/Adult novel is a debut — it is one of the best of the fantasy genre I have read and one of the best books overall from my reading this year. It is a very highly recommended read.

The country of Tir is the setting of this highly imaginative novel. It has a medieval feel which I love. The country is ruled by a tyrannt king who suppresses his people’s thoughts and expressions. After taking the throne years before, he systematically changed the history and mythology of the country by limiting what artisans, including storytellers, could share. Entering into this scenario is the story peddler, Tanwen, whose heart will not allow her to stay on the proscribed narratives. Part of the story is told from her 1st person perspective, while the other half is told through the 3rd person perspective of Braith, the princess and heir.

Franklin’s descriptions made me feel a part of the story. The characterization is very strong as well, as she introduces us to a varied cast of characters. The story is part adventure, part romance, part coming-of-age, and all so very, very good. The most unique aspect of the book is the way Tanwen tells her stories. My words won’t do it justice — just know that you will be as mesmerized and enchanted as Tanwen’s audiences. The theme of art, whether painting, song, or story, as a means to reveal truth is beautifully depicted.

I really loved The Story Peddler! Perfect for YA and adult readers alike, it is a must-read for fans of fantasy,

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: YA to adult.

(I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Tropes Are Tops!

20 Aug

This week Top 10 Tuesday is all about the tropes — common themes or devices used in literature. My list is all about plot devices that define a story line, such as rags to riches. While many turn their noses up at tropes, terming them cliches, there is a reason they are used over and over — they are stories readers want to read! My list contains the very common (and popular) tropes that were excellently used in the books mentioned. And as you can see, tropes can be used in any genre — romance, suspense, historical, and fantasy. Hope you find a book you will love!

For more bloggers and their favorite tropes, please visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Tropes

Amnesia — Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

Cold Case — Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Best Friends to Lovers — Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Long-Lost Heir — Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Love Triangle — The Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Marriage of Convenience — More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Missing Person — Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

Second Chance at Love — Falling for You by Becky Wade

Unlikely Hero —A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr

 

What’s your favorite trope?

 

Book Review: Prophet

22 Mar

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she’s much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne’s elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Yet she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals and is suspected of eating chocolate and potato chips for lunch while writing. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two sons. The Books of the Infinite series marked her debut in the fantasy genre.

My Impressions:

I lead a Faith And Fiction Bible study/bookclub at my church and am always on the lookout for Christian fiction that will compliment what we are studying. As part of a survey of Old Testament prophets, I chose Prophet, a fantasy by R. J. Larson.  The author took her inspiration for main character Ela Roeh from Jeremiah 1 and Ezekiel 2, so I knew it would be a great addition to discussion. What I didn’t know, but soon found out, was that Prophet is an engaging read that appeals to all ages. I loved the unique, yet familiar, world that Larson has created in this first book in the Books of The Infinite series. If you like fantasy with a Christian influence, this one is for you.

The world in which Ela Roeh of Parne inhabits is filled with unusual and often deadly beasts, people with their own agendas, and the ever present voice of the Infinite. Ela is not only young, but the first girl the Infinite has chosen to speak for Him. His message is repent and return, which she dutifully shares. Yet Ela struggles with doubts, insecurities, and grief over an unresponding audience. Larson made me view OT prophets in a new way through Ela’s character. I looked beyond their stern warnings and pronouncements to the heart that they had for God and His people. The story is one adventure after another, but flows with the purpose given by the Infinite. There is plenty of action for those who like battles and intrigue, yet there is a sense of lightness and humor that help keep this one from being too heavy. I liked the subtle references to the Bible that Larson includes. You can hear the voice of God in the messages of the Infinite. There are a few hidden touches as well. I didn’t realize until deeper into my study of the Biblical record that Ela’s last name is inspired by the Hebrew word for vision. Pretty cool!

Prophet is a well-written fantasy, yet I believe has a wider appeal. Its themes also make it a great book for book clubs. It is also just the first book for Ela and other characters I came to love. I look forward to visiting Ela’s world again.

Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: YA and adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It is currently free for Kindle Unlimited.)

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Leap into Books Giveaway Hop!

27 Feb

Thanks to BookHounds for hosting the Leap into Books Giveaway Hop! Find out all the books and bookish stuff bloggers are giving away HERE. The hop runs from February 28 through March 7, so be sure to visit them soon.

leap-into-books-2016

I am giving away a copy of Patrick Carr‘s newest epic fantasy novel, The Shock of Night, book 1 in The Darkwater Saga. To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment. Thanks and good luck!

51j9dqg7ewl-_sx322_bo1204203200_When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it’s as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that’s not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive.

a1lciw73q9l-_ux250_Patrick Carr saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick’s day gig for the last eight years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist, and he wrestles with the complexity of improvisation on a daily basis. While Patrick enjoys reading about himself, he thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.