Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gingerbread Man Snack Size Reviews

While some of her stories are hit and miss with my personal preference in content, I often enjoy Lee/Elle Strauss's books. Her writing is very engaging. And now that all three of her "Gingerbread Man" episodes have released, I had to sample a taste!

Gingerbread Man: Run Run Run (#1), As Fast As You Can (#2), You Can't Catch Me (#3)
Learn more on Lee Strauss's website
Purchase on Amazon


I bought and read all three episodes in this serial series in one night - to give you an idea of how intriguing the stories are!

Run Run Run drew me in with its realistic (sometimes aggravatingly so) main characters and the strong suspense elements. It also drove me absolutely insane with the unanswered questions throughout most of the story - as well as the those typical moments where you want to shout at and shake a particular character because they're being way too gullible and about to make a really, really stupid decision. *Attempts to calm down* Anyway, this first episode in the series is quite enjoyable in a "I must find out what's happening" sort of way.

As Fast As You Can continues the drama and intrigue, and I especially liked the moments when the characters for whom the series subtitle is named for worked together and got to know each other. They make a great team, and their relationship is great fun to watch unfold, despite the dangers forcing them to race against the clock.

You Can't Catch Me was a satisfying conclusion, but probably my least favorite of the episodes simply because of the separation between characters and the stark new setting that takes up a good deal of the book. The Eager McBeaver part of me just wanted to get back to the main mystery and relationships, although the writer in me can appreciate the plot twists and revelations.

All in all, this series makes for a fun and crazy evening of reading, and I'll be interested in hearing more about the next serial series featuring some of the same characters ("Life Is But a Dream").

Content Note: If I remember correctly, there is some swearing in this series. And while there is no explicit sexual content, there are references to rape, violence, physical attraction, and drinking, as well as brief allusions to homosexuality.

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

{Something Old}: My Review of Pearl in the Sand


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

Here's a description of the book from the author's website:

Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible's answer is yes.

Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab's untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well - walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness.

A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith...of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another's worth and find healing in God.

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon

My Rating

Summer

My Review

I'd heard great things about this book, and why I let it languish so long on my bookshelf is a mystery. (I guess it's a testament to my reckless book-buying habit and my ever-growing physical and electronic TBRs.)

Well, I'm pleased to report that I agree with the glowing recommendations. Pearl in the Sand is a beautiful and engaging debut novel!

From the harsh and horrific introduction to her character, to the heartfelt depiction of her turning to faith, Rahab stands out as an absolutely wonderful heroine. Imperfect, with a difficult past, but inspiring in the way she embraces the hope of the Lord and the challenges and rewards of a new life.

As for the hero, well...there's a lot to love about him. And there's a lot to learn from his own set of challenges, weaknesses. and lessons.

The excellent setting and cultural descriptions provide a striking background for this fictionalized account of the fall of Jericho and the life of Rahab. But while there's strong drama in the demise of the walled city, the main tension revolves around the siege against emotional and spiritual strongholds.

It's a great thing to be reminded of the very real struggles of the people mentioned in the Scriptures, as well as the very real examples of faith. Pearl in the Sand showcases the grittiness and preciousness of both.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for my copy of the book, which I won on the Window to My World blog.*

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cover Reveal: Draven's Light

Quite frankly, Anne Elisabeth Stengl is rockin' the blogosphere and the world of independent publishing. Her passion for the process and the people who make it worthwhile is evident in everything from her gorgeous designs to her ceaseless creativity in thinking up new projects for her blog and Rooglewood Press. So it is with a great deal of admiration that I present to you the latest in a fabulous line of bookish wonders from Anne Elisabeth.

About the Book

In the Darkness of the Pit
The Light Shines Brightest

Drums summon the chieftain’s powerful son to slay a man in cold blood and thereby earn his place among the warriors. But instead of glory, he earns the name Draven, “Coward.” When the men of his tribe march off to war, Draven remains behind with the women and his shame. Only fearless but crippled Ita values her brother’s honor.

The warriors return from battle victorious yet trailing a curse in their wake. One by one the strong and the weak of the tribe fall prey to an illness of supernatural power. The secret source of this evil can be found and destroyed by only the bravest heart.

But when the curse attacks the one Draven loves most, can this coward find the courage he needs to face the darkness?

Coming May 25, 2015


And here's the full cover...


My Thoughts

I recall when Anne Elisabeth had readers vote for their favorite of a couple different designs for this book's cover, and seeing the full wrap-around of this version was quite creepy and intense! But it fits with the tagline of this book so very well... That candle truly shines in the dark indigo of that cave. Not just the candle, but also the warm, white cape draped over the shoulders of the hero like a gift, the determined look  on his face in the glow of the light he carries, and the title and author name - all stand out brightly against the bleakness of the background. The scene is troubling with the twisted roots/vines that strangle and the crumbly rock all around the hero, but his stance - in light of the hope he holds - is strong and ready. A very eye-catching and engaging cover for this fantasy series!


About the Author

ANNE ELISABETH STENGL makes her home in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed Tales of Goldstone Wood. Her novel Starflower was awarded the 2013 Clive Staples Award, and her novels Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Dragonwitch have each been honored with a Christy Award.

To learn more about Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her books visit: www.AnneElisabethStengl.blogspot.com

Enter to Win an ARC!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win 1 of 3 advance reader copies (ARCs) of Draven's Light.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Sound of Diamonds



This is a very special cover reveal for me...not just because the author (Rachelle Rea) is a very special and talented person (which she totally is!), but also because The Sound of Diamonds was the very first manuscript I edited after I started Editing Through the Seasons. While she wasn't the first client who hired me, Rachelle was the winner of an editing giveaway I offered at The Writer's Alley a couple of months after I started my freelance business. And her story was such a pleasure to read and to help polish. :)

Fans of inspirational historical romance will fall in love with these characters and the unique setting/backdrop where the drama unfolds. You won't want to miss this exciting start to a brand-new series!

The Sound of Diamonds releases in June, but in the meantime, you can pre-order the book, add it to your Goodreads shelf, and admire the lovely cover...

In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor—at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.

An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.

But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome? When Dirk’s plan fails, could all be lost?

Add to Goodreads | Pre-order on Amazon

My Thoughts on the Cover

I love the symbolism with the necklace/rosary, the door she's about to open (and the light coming through), and the fact that we can't see her eyes (tying in with Gwyneth's poor vision). There are a lot of twists and flourishes in the embellishments and the word "Diamonds," showing the twists and turns of the story - and the beautiful boldness and clarity of the girl's dress, the necklace, and the title/author name stand out nicely against the rustic background. It's a beautiful cover for a beautiful story!


About the Author

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote The Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

What are your thoughts on the cover? 
Does the title intrigue you?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Of Snowmen and Marketing...

We have a winner for the snowmen/Cinderella giveaway! And the winner is...

Carissa Miller

Congratulations, Carissa! Her name was randomly picked from the three who correctly guessed that the snowman representing me in this scene created by one of my coworkers is the one with the book (fourth from the left):


According to my friend/coworker, the reason I don't have a nose like the rest of my coworkers in this scene is because it's stuck in the book, haha. Yes, even in a company that publishes books, I guess my passion (obsession?) with reading still makes an impression! Being known as the reader isn't the worst reputation to have, right?

Anyway, thank you to everyone who played along! And Carissa, I'll email you to see which two Cinderella ebooks you'd like. :)

On another marketing note, I'm hoping to have an exciting book promotion in February - one that's a little different than ones I've had before for my own books. You'll find out why pretty soon! In preparation for that, I'd love to have you join my street team and/or sign up for my author newsletter, so you can stay in the loop. More fun to come!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dangerous (Seasoned) Snack Size Reviews

The first few books I've read in 2015 have been dangerous...both in their plots, and in their addictive story lines that can lead to a lack of proper sleep! Here are some snack size reviews with my "seasoned" ratings:

One Among Men (The Maryland State University Series, Book 1) by Connie Almony
Rating: Spring/Summer
Currently $3.99 for Kindle

The tagline of this book intrigued me: "Though she lives with 500 hard-partying college guys, only one will lead her to danger." Talk about a provocative premise for contemporary Christian fiction! I just had to read it - and I quickly got sucked in to the life of a young woman trying to hold her own and cling to faith in a place where respect is sorely lacking and danger is very real. The suspense keeps the pages turning, for sure, but it's the authenticity of the struggles, doubts, relationships, and redemption that make this engaging read a meaningful one. And the unique romance with its twists, turns, and depth? Encore!

***

Ai of the Mountain (A Fairy Retelling, Book 2) by Dorian Tsukioka
Rating: Spring
Currently $2.99 for Kindle

Having been quite impressed by Dorian Tsukioka's Cinderella-retelling novella, Cursed Beauty, I snatched up this Beauty & the Beast retelling as soon as I saw it available on Amazon. Set in Japan, Ai of the Mountain is an intriguing tale of familial loyalty, desperate situations, magic, and a love that breaks down seemingly insurmountable barriers. I was thrown off for a bit with the romantic red herring and would have loved a longer glimpse at the relationship between Ai and her "Beast," but color me impressed once again with Tsukioka's imagination as she takes familiar themes and paints them in exotic new ways. Looking forward to more retellings!

***

Poison by Bridget Zinn
Rating: Spring
Currently $9.18 for the paperback

I adore a fun YA fantasy that includes plenty of adventure and romance. Poison has all that, plus a few neat twists on some of the familiar plot elements of this genre, especially in the inclusion of Rosie, the tracking pig, and the use of potions (of which the heroine is master). I guzzled down this story in one night. My main issues were with the ending...part of which felt a little anticlimactic when the villain's ultimate plan comes to light only to be squashed within moments, and then another part of which left me completely frustrated with the hero. Maybe having his POV would have helped, because man, his silence on certain topics for a time drove me insane! Still, the story as a whole provided a very enjoyable evening of reading.

Side Note: Sadly, the author of Poison passed away before her book was published. You can learn more about her life story and the support rallied for this book's promotion at www.bridgetzinn.com.

***

"Seasoned" or "unseasoned" is in reference to my book rating system. Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Review of Brentwood's Ward



About the Book

Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

Emily Payne is in need of protection - according to her father, anyway. Nicholas Brentwood is in need of money. It's dislike at first sight.

But as is one of the great lessons in fiction, people are much more complex than our first impressions allow, and their reasons for doing what they do often run deeper than what we assume. There's more than one side to Brentwood - and to Emily. But will both of them survive long enough to learn the true character of the other?

I so enjoy Michelle Griep's stories! Whether traveling back in time with vikings or touring the darker side of historic London with Bow Street officers, her romances have intriguing plots and engaging emotional drama. In this story, Emily and Brentwood's relationship is a lot of fun to follow - the two of them stuck together no matter how much Emily wants to be rid of her (rather handsome and charming) beau-scaring shadow. Sinister happenings are afoot, though, and the danger and unavoidable attraction escalate in turn. And Brentwood is a man not easily evaded. At least for long.

Another enjoyable historical romance from Griep, and a great start to a potential series. (Hoping the other two books won't be long in following this one!)

*With thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*