Monday, April 15, 2019

Hilarious Adventures and a Very Sweet Romance | Review of The Lady and the Wish



About the Book (from the author's website)

A King Thrushbeard Romance

Lady Gillian Montmorency is determined to win Prince Fidelio’s heart, but her plans are crashing around her ears. First, Fidelio’s older cousin with a beard like a bird’s nest proposes to her. Next, intimidating Prince Max insists she will be his next trophy. ​

But the worst of all, her parents reveal a financial scandal. To pay off her father’s debt, Gillian must agree to work one year as companion to an old lady at some remote and ramshackle villa. ​ Fine. She’ll go. But she doesn’t have to like it.

Coming Soon!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

I'm in love with this sweet, fun, utterly enjoyable series! I still need to catch up on the early books (I've started Ellie and the Prince, and then I need to read The Siren and the Scholar, which I'm looking forward to!). From what I have experienced, though, The Lady and the Wish is a fitting and yet unique addition the series.

Gillian's story starts off at the familiar Faraway Castle resort. But she and her father each make choices that take her far away from her family's vacation destination and her home—and bring her to a new job, crazy circumstances, a big mystery, and an unexpected romance.

While I love Faraway Castle with its gorgeous gardens, fascinating and cute creatures, and awesome amenities, it's too fun to follow Gillian to Lady Beneventi's villa. :) The modern elements of this fairy-tale world are more prominent because of this different location (well, and Gillian is also a very modern girl!). We see the use of cell phones and social media, and that—in addition to the clothing and communication—make this story almost like a contemporary romance. Except for the wishes...

The Lady and the Wish is full of entertaining and creative challenges for our heroine as she attempts to serve as a companion for the unpredictable Lady B. This particular story isn't quite as epic in scope as The Rose and the Briar, but it contains hilarious adventures...and focuses on a very sweet romance full of modern-day difficulties and fairy-tale charm.

I confess I looked up the basics of the King Thrushbeard story early on, as I wasn't familiar with the plot and was curious. Curiosity kills the surprise, so to speak. ;) Still, this retelling has plenty of its own twists, especially with all the wishes, and is relatable, adorable, and just plain happy! I love the change of seasons and the way the characters and romance develop. This is another delightful story from J.M. Stengl, and I can't wait to experience more of this series and see what she writes next!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Bonus!

You can check out my review of book 3 in the series, The Rose and the Briar, HERE. And land a FREE e-copy of The Little Siren (a series companion novella) when you sign up for the author's e-newsletter HERE! (It's a sweet story!)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Winner and Tour Highlights | Mercy Blog Tour


Happy Saturday, friends, and welcome to the conclusion of the Mercy blog tour! Come see the name of our giveaway winner and check out the tour highlights and Eniola's ebook freebie. :)

The Winner Is...

Congratulations to the winner of Eniola's giveaway prize pack...

Gina R.!

She's won a signed copy of Mercy, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a journal. Woot! Gina, an email has been sent to you. :) And many thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway and spread the word about Mercy!

Tour Highlights

This tour came with thoughtful book reviews, enlightening interviews, and inspiring posts from Eniola and our team of bloggers. In case you missed any of them, here are some links to browse...

Articles by Eniola
College-life post by Carissa
  • "One lesson that I learned from my college years wasn’t learned inside a classroom." | Read more
Interviews with Eniola
Reviews
  • "I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The underlying mystery of what happened between Sola and Tayo kept me intrigued right from the beginning." | Anne's review of Still
  • "I loved that the characters were so relatable and easy to find one that you can see yourself in." | Carissa's review of Mercy
  • "Mercy was an outstanding book and I am so so excited for book three to find out what happens next in the lives of Sola, Nikky, Tayo and Ladi! If you enjoy new adult books full of mystery and real-life problems you must check out these two books!!" | Anne's review of Mercy
  • "Prentice has undoubtedly done a fine job with this one; the second installment in the Still series is a work of Art and Heart, worthy of impeccable applause." | Miranda's review of Mercy
  • "Following the life of Nikky, Sola, Ladi and Tayo in this book makes you pause in your tracks to appreciate the love of God and how amazingly thoughtful He is concerning you." | Oyinkansola's review of Mercy

Get Book 1 for FREE

Don't forget that Still, the full-novel prequel to Mercy, is currently FREE in ebook format! Enjoy the series from the beginning when you download your copy today through Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or OkadaBooks.


Buy Book 2 Today

Intrigued by all this talk of Mercy? You can purchase an e-copy through Amazon or OkadaBooks!


Eniola and I sincerely thank the wonderful bloggers who participated in this tour and all those who read the posts and commented. :) We appreciate your support of Eniola's work and hope you'll be blessed by her stories!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

3 Things I've Learned About Publishing (Guest Post by Eniola Prentice) | Mercy Blog Tour


The Mercy blog tour continues! Mercy is the second book in a series about four medical students who must face some very difficult challenges in their faith, relationships, and schooling. Today, author Eniola Prentice shares about her writing journey and what she's learned along the way...

3 Things Ive Learned About Publishing
Eniola Prentice

Five years ago, I had an idea to write a series, but I had no idea how to get my novel to readers. I knew nothing about publishing. It was like finding a needle in an enormous haystack. In some ways, it still feels like finding a needle in a haystack—but now the haystack is a little smaller. Here are three things I have learnt about publishing:

1. Do your research. While preparing for publishing the first book, I did a lot of research. I found out that self-publishing is not something failed writers do. I realized the industry had changed, and self-publishing was a viable path to publishing a book. It's not easy, and the wealth of information can be overwhelming at first. But something that helped me was studying the career of a successful self-published author I admired. Joanna Penn was one of my biggest influences.

2. Community is everything. The self-publishing world is a vibrant community of writers supporting each other within and across genres. I formed connections with Christian writers, Nigerian bloggers, and medical bloggers. It made things much easier the second time around. I asked Amber to edit the first novel in the series, but she couldn’t because of her schedule. She referred me to Rachelle Rea. The second time around I reached out to Rachelle, who referred me to Amber. Amber became such a great support for me, and I gained a friend.

3. Set your goals. I think we get bogged down in defining success as being a best seller. I think setting realistic goals unique to you as a writer is important. Sometimes your definition of success is different than another writer’s. When you reach your goals, you can be content that you met your own personal expectations, not the world’s.

How is your journey going?

Eniola and I would love to hear about your own writing journey. What challenges are you currently facing? What goals have you made or met?

And don't miss the opportunity to enter Eniola's tour giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of her new book, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a journal! Just fill out the form below to get your name in the drawing. (See the tour introduction post for the giveaway rules and details.)

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Embracing Faith in Medical School (Guest Post by Eniola Prentice) | Mercy Blog Tour


The Mercy blog tour continues! Mercy is the second book in a series about four medical students who must face some very difficult challenges in their faith, relationships, and schooling. Today, author Eniola Prentice shares about her own faith journey through the lows and highs of medical school...

Embracing Faith in Medical School
Eniola Prentice

My faith journey began with questions. I had questions for God right before entering medical school, so many whys I wanted answered. Why, if God loved me, had some negative things happened in my life? Why had things happened the way they had in my life? Why was I unhappy all the time? I started medical school with these burning questions in my mind.

All my questions certainly have not been answered, but I have learnt that the faith journey is a process. No matter how much I try, I can’t rush the Father through the process. Trust me, I do try to rush Him. 😊

I got answers gradually through medical school. In my first year, I struggled with who I was in the past and who I was becoming. I called all my Christian friends “aliens” because I felt I didn’t quite fit in with them, that I was different in some way. But I began to accept the picture God was painting.

My faith in God grew steadily. It wasn’t always easy, but His grace was enough for me. I held on to Him because I had no choice. I held on to His word and believed in it until it became life to me. There was a lot of pain during the journey, but His presence never left me. I always found comfort in whatever situation I was in.

Most doctors would rarely describe medical school as the most important and formative years of their lives. But God surrounded me with friends who became family. I believe the friendships God blessed me with were the second most important inspiration for writing the Still series. Of course, the first was the Holy Spirit.

I believe it is important to always grow and evolve. My faith journey will never end—until the day He welcomes me home with “Welcome, good and faithful servant.”

How is your journey going?

Eniola and I would love to hear about where you are in your faith journey or how you've been growing. If you'd like prayer for your current challenge or next step, please let me know in the comment section! ♥

And don't miss the opportunity to enter Eniola's tour giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of her new book, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a journal! Just fill out the form below to get your name in the drawing. (See the tour introduction post for the giveaway rules and details.)

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Celebrate the Release of Book 2 in an Inspirational New-Adult Series | Blog Tour


Kick off spring with this exciting blog tour for Mercy, book 2 in a new-adult series about four medical students navigating faith, romance, and a difficult-but-rewarding career path! I'm honored to be coordinating this tour for author Eniola Prentice. :) Read on to learn more about this new book, the author's writing journey, the tour schedule for the week, an awesome giveaway you can enter, and a free ebook you can download today...


About the Book

Broken. Drowning. Desperate. Lost. 
When the lives and hearts of four friends start to crumble, can God’s mercy reach them still? 

In her second year of medical school, Fadesola (Sola) Cardoso faces an impossible choice: stay with her longtime boyfriend, the one who knows her darkest secrets and loves her anyway, or move forward with Ladi, the man who gives her hope for an unstained future. Even as she wrestles with her options, life as a medical student becomes increasingly difficult—full of endless exams, stressful social activities, and reminders of a past that continues to haunt her.

Ladi struggles with Sola’s divided loyalties while trying to maintain his perfect image as class president, promising student, and model Christian. But scandals inside and outside the lecture hall threaten to break apart the fragile peace once and for all between Ladi, Sola, and their friends Nikky and Tayo, who are fighting battles of their own.

In this epic second installment in Eniola Prentice’s new-adult Still series, the faith of these four medical students will be tested like never before. Discover their gritty troubles and grand triumphs as they navigate friendships, revelations, romance, and career goals in light of the redemptive power of the cross.

Available now!


About the Author

My journey as a writer began with an idea—an idea that blossomed into a vision for the Still series. I became fully committed to Christ around 2008 when I began medical school. Shortly after, the idea for the Still series was birthed. My time in medical school was one of the more formative seasons of my life. I made lifelong friendships and, most of all, my journey with Christ really began. Although there were challenging times, I would without a doubt relive the experience in a heartbeat!

I published Still (book 1 in the series) right before residency, and now—five years later—the next book in the series has been published. In the time in between, I was the prodigal daughter and walked away from my Father. Everything on the surface looked good, but my heart was far away from Him. His love never left me, though, and He welcomed me home when I came back to Him. I went through painful processes, but they changed me and made me a better person. The girl who wrote Still is not the woman who wrote Mercy.

I am passionate about sowing godly seeds into the hearts of young women. I know how it is to be brokenhearted and believe the lies of the devil because his version of events is all you’re told. I know how it is to truly believe that you are not loved by God because of the events of life.

My hope is that, through my writing, you’ll come to know that God truly loves you and cares about you affectionately. He is close to your broken heart and binds up every wound.

I guess the author bio should be about milestones and, like the quintessential dramatic Nigerian aunty, I have missed the mark. I am a Nigerian-born, American-educated physician who lives in Maryland—but I believe I am more than well-constructed bullet points. I am a child of God through the ups and downs of life, and that will remain constant.

Eniola Prentice 


The Tour Schedule

Monday, April 8
Tuesday, April 9
Wednesday, April 10 
Thursday, April 11
Friday, April 12 
Saturday, April 13

Giveaway!

Celebrate the release of Mercy by entering this exciting giveaway! Fill out the form below for a chance to win a signed copy of Mercy by Eniola Prentice, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a beautiful journal. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. Good luck!

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Don't Miss Book 1...

Still, the full-novel prequel to Mercy, is currently FREE in ebook format! Enjoy the series from the beginning when you download your copy today through Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or OkadaBooks.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Discussion 4 (Conclusion) ~ Emily of New Moon Read-Along


Welcome to the fourth and final discussion of the Emily of New Moon read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 25-31. If you've already read them, you can share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emily of New Moon read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :)

Hope you enjoy the discussion!

~ ~ ~

Emily of New Moon: Chapters 25-31

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and five questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes
  • "I can pray in my mind—I'm sure God can hear thoughts as well as words. It is nice to think He can hear me if nobody else can."
  • "You look like a star—you have a radiant sort of personality shining through you—your proper habitat should be the evening sky just after sunset—or the morning sky just before sunrise. Yes. You'd be more at home in the morning sky."
  • "If everybody had always been happy there'd be nothing to read about."
  • "Teddy will paint pictures and I will write poetry and we will have toast and bacon and marmalade every morning for breakfast—just like Wyther Grange—but never porridge. And we'll always have lots of nice things to eat in the pantry and I'll make lots of jam and Teddy is always going to help me wash the dishes."
  • "Time went on and autumn passed and winter came with its beautiful bare-limbed trees, and soft pearl-grey skies that were slashed with rifts of gold in the afternoons, and cleared to a jewelled pageantry of stars over the wide white hills and valleys around New Moon."
  • "Though I may not be very good-looking now, when I go to heaven I believe I'll be very beautiful."
  • "Elizabeth Murray had learned an important lesson—that there was not one law of fairness for children and another for grown-ups."
  • "For heaven's sake, girl, don't write what you can't understand yourself."

General Impressions

Confession time: I finished Emily of New Moon about a week ago and promptly proceeded to read Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest (completing the trilogy). I was eager to see what happened to Emily and her friends and how the series ended! Don't worry; I won't talk about those other two books and spoil anything here. ;) But if anyone else reads them and wants to chat, please feel free to comment below or message me through Goodreads or via email (amberstokes@corban.edu)! I'd love to hear your further thoughts on these characters and their lives. ♥

As for the end of the first book, I definitely found it intriguing. Emily has a couple of near-death experiences: one that leads to her friendship with Dean Priest, and another that leads to solving the mystery behind Ilse's mother's death.

Dean...I'm so torn about him! In some ways, his friendship with Emily is so charming and heartwarming. In other ways, some of the things he says when he first meets her (after saving her life) are a bit...shocking. But then, big age gaps in relationships are not uncommon in my family, and there's even a story I heard about my great-great grandparents (I believe) wherein my great-great grandfather saw my great-great grandmother when she was a little girl and he was a young man, and he knew right then he was going to marry her someday. So...! It's definitely not an unheard of thing, but it does feel a little jarring, hearing Dean hint at romance with a girl who could be his preteen daughter. Especially when he talks possessively. And yet, I couldn't help but be intrigued by what might come of it all in time. Maybe, down the road...?

Speaking of romance... Again, I realize Emily is a little young yet! But there are some really sweet moments with the boys in her life in these last chapters. Teddy and Emily share a secret adventure in the Disappointed House. While Emily doesn't seem to like the idea of marriage at this point, I think their daydreams of delicious breakfasts and helping each other with the dishes is pretty adorable. :) And then there's Emily's illness and the way Perry keeps watch through the night, so worried about her and wanting to know she'll be all right. ♥

We must talk about the new teacher in town! I love that Mr. Carpenter turns the education system upside down, just like Muriel Stacy in Anne of Green Gables. And I love the way he balances encouraging and challenging Emily in her writing, even if the challenges come off more strongly than the encouragement. ;) I'm so glad that these kids finally get a different teacher who is able to joke, wants to help the students excel in what they're best at, and doesn't treat them like Miss Brownell!

I loved seeing the relationship between Aunt Elizabeth and Emily grow and mature at the end. Aunt Elizabeth recognizes how she wronged Emily and actually asks for forgiveness! And Emily hurts when she realizes she hurt Aunt Elizabeth. It's realistic to know things don't become perfect after that scene, as is said in chapter 30: "Their points of view were so different that there were bound to be clashes; they did not speak the same language, so there was bound to be misunderstanding." And yet, I'm happy that there's been such progress and there is such hope for them. :)

As with other sections in this book, so much happens and develops in these chapters. And as I mentioned earlier, the introduction of these characters and their adventures made me want to read more and finish the trilogy to see how it all turns out! Also, isn't it neat how these last chapters set up the title of book 2, Emily Climbs? :)

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all five of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What did you think of Emily's first meeting with Dean Priest (and the near-death experience that brought it about)?

2. How would you feel about having Mr. Carpenter as a teacher? Do you agree with his teaching methods and how he critiques Emily's works?

3. Were you surprised by the truth about what happened to Ilse's mother? How did this chapter ("When the Curtain Lifted") make you feel?

4. Which scene in this book was the most adorable (or romantic) to you?

5. What was your favorite part of Emily's story? What are you hopes or predictions for what will happen to her in the rest of the series?

Thank you for joining us for the Emily of New Moon read-along! I loved chatting about the book with you! 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Discussion 3 ~ Emily of New Moon Read-Along


Welcome to the third discussion of the Emily of New Moon read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 18-24. If you've already read them, you can share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emily of New Moon read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :)

Hope you enjoy the discussion!

~ ~ ~

Emily of New Moon: Chapters 18-24

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and five questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes
  • "I'm in a scrape and I've been in it all summer. You see"—Emily was very sober—"I am a poetess." "Holy Mike! That is serious. I don't know if I can do much for you. How long have you been that way?"
  • "Of course, it was trash. Father Cassidy knew that well enough. All the same, for a child like this—and rhyme and rhythm were flawless—and there was one line—just one line—'the light of faintly golden stars'—for the sake of that line Father Cassidy suddenly said, 'Keep on,—keep on writing poetry.'"
  • "A queer feeling came into me and I thought 'What would I feel like if I was stuck before a big crowd of people like this? And besides the honour of the school is at stake,' so I whispered it to her because I was quite close. She got the rest all right. The strange thing is, dear Father, that now I don't feel any more as if I hated her. I feel quite kindly to her and it is much nicer. It is uncomfortable to hate people."
  • "'I love Revelations.' (And I do. When I read the verse 'and the twelve gates were twelve pearls' I just saw them and the flash came.)"
  • "A certain thing happened at New Moon because Teddy Kent paid Ilse Burnley a compliment one day and Emily Starr didn't altogether like it. Empires have been overturned for the same reason."
  • "Everybody who has ever lived in the world and could string two rhymes together has written a poem on spring. It is the most be-rhymed subject in the world—and always will be, because it is poetry incarnate itself."
  • "The air seemed to be filled with opal dust over the great pond and the bowery summer homesteads around it."
  • "Aunt Nancy says the way to be healthy is to eat just what you want and never think about your stomach."
  • "I can bear it when other people have a bad opinion of me but it hurts too much when I have a bad opinion of myself."

General Impressions

As you can see, I had a lot of favorite lines in this section...and there are so many more I could have included! I don't know if this will horrify you, but I've been underlining and writing in my used copy of the book. (I know!) But I enjoy doing that, especially for a read-along, as it makes it much easier to find lines I liked or remember my impressions. :) Anyway, if you looked at my copy, you'd see a good amount of "Ha!," "LOL," smiley faces, and exclamation points in the margins for this group of chapters.

I suppose it would make sense to start with Father Cassidy, as chapter 18 is all about Emily's encounter with him. I absolutely love his sense of humor, which is balanced so well with his kindness and respect for Emily. Yes, he does poke fun at her, in a sense, but he encourages her and speaks her language (as the narrator notes on page 194 in my copy). He listens to her and appreciates the gravity of her request to save the bush and of her passion for poetry. And he even writes her a letter, which means so much to her! He serves as an example to me of caring for children and their interests. :)

I also enjoyed seeing Lofty John humble himself (to some degree) and Aunt Elizabeth laugh some more and stand up for Emily at the Christmas gathering. Progress!! Speaking of progress, it's lovely to see Emily growing and maturing in her perspective of others (like in that third quote above regarding her archenemy Rhoda). But Emily still has plenty of growing left to do.

In the Teddy vs. Perry competition, I found it funny that Emily noted in one of her letters, "Teddy's [Christmas gift] was a little the nicest." She seems to be aware whom she favors of the two at this point in time. ;) Which explains why she really doesn't like Teddy complimenting Ilse (fifth quote above). LOL.

But oh my goodness! Perry's aunt Tom asking Emily to marry him when they're older...that scene was both unnerving (at the beginning) and hilarious (when Perry shows up). Perry telling Emily, "Ilse is better looking of course, and I don't know why I like you best but I do"...oh boy! But Emily's retorts are great, capped off by Perry's threat to knock Teddy's head off again. ;)

And then we end up at Wyther Grange. When Aunt Nancy asks Emily for a visit, it totally reminded me of Anne (in Anne of Green Gables) winning over Diana's great-aunt Josephine. (I confess that even though I've read the book, the images from the 1980s adaptation are ingrained in me!) Anyway, Aunt Nancy is quite a character, as is Caroline. Aunt Nancy says some absolutely hilarious things, like "The Murrays have keep-your-distance eyes" and "I never held with inflicting kisses on defenseless creatures simply because they were so unlucky as to be my relatives." LOL.

But as funny as Aunt Nancy can be, I don't really see her being a good influence on Emily, and I don't really care for how she treats poor Caroline, even if Caroline dishes it back some. While Emily notes the similarities between their friendship and hers with Ilse, I feel like there's an extra layer of meanness with these adults. Still...they do keep each other company and stick together, so there's that, I guess! I'm not sure what to think about Emily breaking the Jacobite glass... It was an accident, so I'm glad she wasn't punished severely, but perhaps there should have been some consequence? While Aunt Nancy's response isn't really instructive, it is funny, and I can't blame her for being relieved! ;)

One last note: It was interesting to see the reference to Gothic romances at the beginning of chapter 23. Yep, there seems to be a flavor of that in Emily's story, and it's fun to see the author mentioning that genre!

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all five of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What are your impressions of Father Cassidy? What do you like or not like about how he interacts with Emily?

2. If you could pick a line from these chapters that resonates with you the most—that makes you think, That's me!—what line would it be and why?

3. How did you feel about the Murray Christmas gathering described in chapter 20? How is it different from or similar to some of your own family Christmases (from childhood or more recently)?

4. What was something fashionable when you were younger that you really wanted, like Emily's desire for bangs? Have your tastes changed since then?

5. If you were invited to visit Wyther Grange for a while, would you want to go? What might you think of the place and its occupants?

Join us next Sunday for our last discussion! 
(Chapters 25-31)