Monday, March 2, 2015

Revell Blog Tour: Anna's Crossing

About the Book (from Revell)

Some endings are really beginnings . . .

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home - assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people - dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands - who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing - and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it.


My Rating

Spring

My Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher takes on the little explored historical Amish genre, and she does it well. As with her contemporary Amish stories, the characters come to life with their quirks and honest musings and struggles. Anna's Crossing contains an interesting cast: the heroine of faith, the troublemaker lad, the irksome girl with the lazy eye, and a couple of villains for good measure. And who wouldn't love a strong hero with a Scottish brogue and a name like Bairn (which means "child")?

I always love a good seafaring story, and this one involves plenty of peril - including some rather gruesome depictions that certainly hint at the horrors of ocean travel back in the 1700s. I appreciate that Fisher doesn't shy away from the sins and syncretism and hardships of the era, while also highlighting strong convictions and faith in God's provision.

What didn't impress me quite as much was the obviousness of certain plot twists. Secrets were revealed chunk by plain chunk to the reader, and I'm still not entirely sure how one character in particular didn't make certain connections far earlier in the story. It was neat how everything turned out, but I just wish everything wasn't quite so neat in how it came together, or at least not so obvious as to take away the *gasp!* factor.

And as fun as Felix's character is, I confess that having so many scenes from his point of view didn't feel necessary to the bigger picture. Unless his character plays a bigger role later on in the series - in which case, the scenes do share some cute insights into a young boy's mind.

All in all, though, Anna's Crossing is a solid start to the "Amish Beginnings" series, and an intriguing mix of historical and Amish romance genres.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Revell for providing me with a temporary e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Available March 2015 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

{Something New}: My Review of Meant to Be Mine + March Picks


http://pidginpeasbooknook.blogspot.com/p/something-old-something-new.html

I only ended up reading "something new" in February (out of my two picks)...but it was a wonderful "something"! You'll find my thoughts on Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade below, along with my March picks for this challenge. Happy new month!

About the Book

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school - irresistible. When their paths cross again after college - still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

Amazon | Goodreads

My Rating

Summer

My Review

Undoubtedly my favorite book of Becky Wade's so far! Funny enough, Meant to Be Mine has two elements that I generally don't consider a favorite in romances: a child, and a love triangle where two women are in love with the same man. Somehow this story must have been "meant for me" regardless, because I loved seeing Ty and Celia's romance play out!

This second book in the "Porter Family" series has a very unique premise, especially where Christian fiction is concerned: A Las Vegas wedding gone wrong - but a marriage that still means something even years after husband and wife have separated.

Each character, whether primary or secondary, is vividly drawn and enchantingly envisioned. Celia and her slightly hippie, baking-loving style. Ty and his utterly frustrating conceit and yet heart-melting vulnerability, values, and growth. Addie with her teal glasses, hot-pink cowgirl boots, and love of princess stories. Uncle Danny - single surfer dude with really bad luck in finding a date among his own older age group.

There are even cameos by Meg and Bo from Undeniably Yours, and scenes with younger brother Jake, who is set to star in A Love Like Ours. Let me tell you, I'm even more eager for the third book in the series after being captivated by Meant to Be Mine!

With themes of forgiveness and sacrifice woven into an engaging story about finding new dreams and reviving old love, this book is a delightful take on contemporary romance.

* * *

Care to join the {Something Old, Something New} Challenge? Visit PidginPea's Book Nook for all the details!

And now, here are my March 2015 picks...

{Something Old}
Acquired March 2012

Wisdom came as God’s gift, but sacred love was forged through passion’s fire…

Standing in the shadow of his famous father, young King Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, longing for a love that is true and pure—a love that can be his cornerstone.

A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah has known since she first laid eyes on Solomon that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father secures a promise from Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams will come true.

But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon’s harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

Mesu Andrews expertly weaves the words of the Song of Solomon into this touching story of the power of love from a master storyteller.

Amazon | Goodreads


{Something New}
Borrowed Late 2014 (I believe...)

Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor. 

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park. 

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Amazon | Goodreads

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Release Announcement: Jane



My blogging friend Laura of Crafty Booksheeps is hosting the tour for Jane by Michelle N. Onuorah. While I've kind of overdone it on requesting books to review and purchasing books for my real and virtual shelves, I was still happy to help shine the spotlight on this new release. It sounds quite powerful and engaging! And it's great to see more Christian new-adult romance coming to Amazon. If you too are intrigued, you'll find purchase links and an ebook giveaway below...

About the Book


Orphaned.
Neglected.
Damaged and abused.

Jane Daugherty has survived what can only be described as the childhood from hell. After years of mental, physical, and sexual abuse, she has become a fiercely independent young woman - closed off from human connection. Unable to believe in people or their capability to be kind, she has vowed to build a new life for herself so that she never has to rely on, or trust, others again. At 24-years-old, she is fulfilling this vow, successfully working as the youngest tenure-track professor at the University of New York.

Brilliant and remarkably accomplished, Jane's life takes an unexpected turn when she is reunited with the childhood friend she protected in foster care. Alexa Masterson introduces Jane to the family that adopted her, a family that includes her older brother, Aiden Masterson. Instantly drawn to each other, Aiden and Jane embark on a relationship that will either destroy them both or shape them into the man and woman they were always meant to be. Can what started as lust transform into love? And what will bring about the transformation that they ultimately need?

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

About the Author


Michelle N. Onuorah is the bestselling author of Remember Me, Type N, and Taking Names. She wrote and published her debut book, Double Identity, at the tender age of thirteen and has been writing ever since. A graduate of Biola University, Michelle continues to write and publish under her company, MNO Media, LLC . You can learn more about Michelle at www.mnomedia.com and like her page at www.facebook.com/authormichelleonuorah.


eBook Giveaway!


Michelle is giving away three e-copies of Jane to three winners (open INT)! You can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below:

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Snack Size Reviews: NetGalley Nibbles

The thing about NetGalley (an e-galley site for book reviewers)? When you start browsing the book buffet, it's easy to overfill your plate! Or to keep on eating and eating without letting the first round(s) digest...

For the sake of getting caught up on some reviews and sharing some thoughts on what I've read, here are a few NetGalley nibbles for your reading pleasure! Maybe you'll find something to enjoy now or save for later. :)

* * * 

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
Rating: Spring
Currently $9.99 for Kindle

Elizabeth Camden crafts unique historical fiction with a captivating depth of character. I really loved the hero and heroine of this particular story, especially at the beginning. Their banter and clash of personalities makes for an entertaining read, even when a hero in politics and a slow-building plot largely set in the Library of Congress wouldn't normally seem "fun" to me. Camden balances interesting details, romance, and subtle suspense admirably.

How the suspense element plays out, though, was mostly what kept me from loving the book quite as much as I wanted to. Luke won me over at the beginning but severely dented my trust by the way he handled revelations later on. I guess I was hoping for a bit more - from his choices and from the climax of the plot. Still, there are reasons for everything in the story, and Camden's writing is always enjoyable. Beyond All Dreams is a worthy addition to the Camden historical romance collection. (I believe Against the Tide and The Rose of Winslow Street remain my favorites of the five books I've read by her.)

* * * 

In Tune with Love by Amy Matayo
Rating: Fall
Currently $3.79 for Kindle (Releases March 31)

I confess, In Tune with Love wasn't exactly the right fit for me. But like with weddings, styles are subjective and taste varies greatly. My issues with this wedding story? The heroine's attitude. (Snarkiness has its place in small doses, but I just couldn't quite sympathize with April's maid-of-honor "woes" and her Debbie Downer ways.) The hero's attitude. (He just didn't seem all that contrite or compassionate to me based on his actions and reactions.) The general attitude of the story. (I didn't really feel uplifted by it. More like frustrated and not overly optimistic for a true, long-lasting love between these characters.)

But I think there's a big audience that enjoys a snarkier romance, and this story does have an interesting premise and a theme of forgiveness that might resonate better with others. 

* * * 

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund
Rating: Fall/Spring
Currently $5.99 for Kindle (Releases March 3)

An Uncertain Choice is an engaging read and a fun change of pace for author Jody Hedlund. For the most part, I enjoyed this young-adult historical. It has a nice blend of courtly romance, danger, and medieval drama.

However, I did feel like there was room for further depth in the characterization. What could have been a really compelling study of the falling-in-love process felt somewhat "rigged," although I do admit there are moments of surprise and uncertainty as to how the plot will play out. I guess I just wish some choices and depictions didn't turn out to be quite so cliche and obvious, despite the younger target audience.

Still, this book and its prequel seem to be garnering a positive response from the majority of readers, and overall the story is entertaining and sweet (with a slightly darker edge given the time period).

* * *

*With thanks to NetGalley, Bethany House Publishers, and Zondervan for providing me with e-ARCs of these books in exchange for my honest reviews.*

Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The King's Scrolls Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway!



The epic series continues! Hard to believe that it's been almost a year (still a few months left to go) since I had the pleasure of hosting the cover reveal and blog tour for Resistance, Book 1 in the Ilyon Chronicles series by Jaye L. Knight. Such exciting times! Book 2 has just released today, and I've got Jaye here with the scoop on cover symbolism, dragons, and what's coming next...

* * * 

Amber: Welcome, Jaye! So exciting to see the Ilyon Chronicles series continue. What can readers expect with Book 2? Does it have a different tone/feel than Book 1?

Jaye: Thank you so much for having me, Amber! I can’t believe I’m releasing Book 2 already! It feels like I just did this, but yes, it’s incredibly exciting! The majority of Book 1 took place in either the city of Valcré or out at the resistance’s camp. In Book 2 readers will get to explore a bit more of Ilyon. The King’s Scrolls also focuses heavily on Kyrin, my female protagonist, and features a lot more of her family than readers got to see in Resistance. I had a lot of fun with all the family interaction. Some really fun new characters were also introduced in this book, including a few characters from the crete race. I loved being able to bring them in. They are probably my favorite of all my Ilyon races.

I think the tone of the book is a bit sadder than Resistance. And it takes place in late fall/early winter, and that gives it a different feel and fits in well with the theme of the story. In this chapter of the series, the characters really have to learn how to trust God even when things seem to be going horribly wrong. I’d say the theme verse for The King’s Scrolls is Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Amber: We’ve gone from a sword to a quill in these first two covers of the series—a case of “the pen is mightier than the sword,” perhaps? :) What would your main characters in The King’s Scrolls think of that saying?

Jaye: I think that is a fitting description. :) As for what my characters would think, I guess that depends on the characters. Timothy, one of the new characters introduced in this book, would definitely agree. I think Kyrin would agree too. Kaden? Not so much. Lol!


Amber: Do you prefer to type or write by hand when working on the first draft of your stories?

Jaye: For years, the only way I could get anything written was by hand. I just couldn’t concentrate when I tried to work on the computer. A case of too many distractions most of the time. But then, this last summer, I bought a Microsoft Surface, something I had been wanting for quite a while since it came with a full version of Word. That little tablet completely changed everything. I started working on Book 4 of Ilyon Chronicles with it and wrote the majority of the book that way. Now that is the only way I write. I still, oddly, can’t concentrate when I’m on my desktop computer, but I can get a lot of work done on my Surface. Even though I sometimes miss my blue binder and blue pencils, I can get a lot more writing done faster by typing, so I’m really happy I decided to splurge a little and buy a Surface.

Amber: Based on the blurb for this story, it appears that Book 2 includes…dragons! Are we talking Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon), Smaug (The Hobbit), or something else entirely? Friend or foe?

Jaye: Yes! Dragons! That’s another thing I loved so much about writing this book. They’re definitely more of a Toothless dragon than Smaug. This picture on Pinterest is the best I have as far as how I picture them. They’re definitely not the really spiky dragons you see so often in fantasy art. And, unless you happen to be an enemy, they are very friendly. They’re almost cat-like, actually, and can be very affectionate with their riders.

Amber: Those sound like my kinds of dragons. ;)

This is just the second of a six-book series. Any hints as to what’s coming next—and when? 

Jaye: Well, I do plan to start editing book three as soon as I can, though once the tour is over, I want to devote time to getting a lot of book 5 written. It’s kind of been pushed aside lately. I would like to release book three as soon as I can, though. I consider it the book everyone’s been waiting for. It answers a lot of questions readers have, particularly about a certain beloved character. *cough*Jace*cough* So I’m quite anxious to share it. Will it be this year? Ideally, yes, but I have no idea. It depends on how editing goes. I also happen to be working on a little secret project on the side. I had no idea this story was going to take shape the way it did and that I would be working on it now, but it just demanded to be written. I hope to share the details soon now that The King’s Scrolls has been released and it won’t take away from that.

Amber: Such wonderful things to look forward to! Can't wait to hear more. Thank you for joining us today, Jaye!

* * *


About the Book


Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph? 



Available on Amazon!
Buy Now


About the Author


Jaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.


Resistance Kindle Sale


Haven’t begun the adventure into Ilyon? From February 17th - 23rd, get Resistance, the award-winning first book of Ilyon Chronicles for your Kindle on sale for only 99 cents! Check it out on Amazon!


Giveaway!


Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed Epic Winter giveaway! Prize pack includes an autographed copy of The King’s Scrolls, a CD by Future World Music (some of Jaye’s favorite writing music), a dragon bookmark, a stone hawk pendant (much like the ones mentioned in the book), and a few packages of Twining’s Winter Spice tea to sip while you read! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.) Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Lost Heiress

Since reading Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, I've been a fan of Roseanna's White's historical fiction. I could pinch myself to think I actually get to work for the company that published her Culper Ring series. :) (I believe Circle of Spies is my favorite, but they're all wonderful!)

Today it's my great pleasure to help reveal the cover for her upcoming release with Bethany House, The Lost Heiress!


About the Book

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

Add to Goodreads | Pre-order at Christianbook.com

Sign up for Roseanna's newsletter to get updates on availability at other retailers, like Amazon and B&N: http://eepurl.com/hIvJw 

And here's the full cover...


My Thoughts

Stunning! The cover is so warm and inviting, like stepping straight into a sparkling ballroom. The flourishes and the model's hair style and jewelry add an extra touch of class and beauty. And yet there are also dark shadows in the background and even in the model's hair, as well as a look on her face that suggests contemplation - of escape or scheming, fear or hope...who can say? All in all a lovely portrait of history and mystery combined.


About the Author

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. The Lost Heiress is Roseanna’s tenth published book. Her novels range from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

What are your thoughts on Roseanna's latest cover? 
Would love to know!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Revealing the Cover of My Next Novella...Where Trains Collide



I enjoyed writing How a Star Falls so much - describing contemporary places I love, working through modern trials and joys that new adults face - that I wanted to try my hand at more of these novellas. While initially I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to write about all-new characters, the positive reader reaction to Derrick's family in How a Star Falls, along with my own fondness for them, prompted me to finally pursue the "train story" I've been wanting to tell through the eyes of Derrick's middle sister, Trisha.

"Train story?" you may ask.

Trains hold a special place in my heart, and it was, in fact, on a train that I wrote the poem that inspired the title I chose to use for this blog. It's on a similar train ride that my next heroine finds herself...


A Cover Story

The potential model(s) for this cover pinned to our secret board on Pinterest ranged from very young-looking to old-fashioned, from a guy wearing a leather jacket to a guy wearing no shirt (it was hard to tell from the angle of the models' embrace...but not quite the look we were going for, anyway!).

A girl sitting by herself near some tracks prompted the first round of actual cover comps, but it was the sweet couple holding autumn leaves that truly captured the right look and feel. Together with the train tracks leading off into the horizon, the fanciful cotton candy clouds behind them, and the little heart rushing toward them above the italicized font, the picture produces a stirring effect of romance and tender uncertainty.

My talented friend and designer Lena Goldfinch once again blessed me with a gorgeous cover - perhaps my favorite of all! (And my first cover with both the hero and heroine depicted on the front! Huzzah!)

And I have to add one thing Lena wrote when sharing this comp:

I love the fiery leaves in their hands. With the green tree way in the distance, it almost suggests two seasons, i.e. two places/destinations...

Knowing the poem that ties into my blog title and this story, as well as the title of my indie-publishing venture, you could see how that contrast beautifully captures the seasons theme so prominent in my writing. Love the way Lena worded it!

For now we hold tightly to autumn, but summer will come around the bend someday...

About the Book

New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella

Two hearts racing in different directions will meet where trains collide.

Burned out and disillusioned with her chosen career path, Trisha Knolane gives in to impulse and hops on a train bound for Oregon, eager to escape the stress of college for a few days. But what begins as a fun little adventure suddenly collapses into a nightmare when she discovers that her ex-boyfriend is also on board.

All her hopes and dreams had once centered on Paul Benson. Now, when Trisha doesn't know where her current track will lead, Paul’s questions only complicate matters and spark a few of her own.

Questions that could change the course of her life.

A heartfelt and thought-provoking contemporary romance novella, Where Trains Collide faces the uncertain season of new adulthood head-on and shows that sometimes a path of broken dreams can lead to life's best destination.

Coming April 2015

Add to Goodreads | View on Pinterest

Giveaway!


Fall in love with gorgeous autumn earrings by Belle on a Budget (perfect to set aside as a gift for yourself or a friend later on!) and treat yourself now to a little something on Amazon.com with a $5 gift card. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only, and you can enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Cover Reveal Participants

I'm always grateful for the wonderful blogging friends who share my enthusiasm and help me spread the word about my books! If you're interested in joining my street team (Amber's Gems) so you can stay in the loop and opt into my future blog tours and cover reveals, please feel free to sign up HERE.

http://seasonsofastory.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_29.html 

Here's a list of the dear gems and fellow bloggers who are participating in today's cover reveal:
What are your thoughts on the new cover? Are you also a fan of trains?