Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On My Way!

Well, tomorrow my family and I should be off on our summer vacation! Virginia City, Disneyland, and possibly The Price is Right (my mom and I got tickets to be in the audience!)... Should be an adventure. *wink* Virginia City is one of the settings in Bleeding Heart, so I hope to take pictures for a guest post for the blog tour, and maybe pick up an item for the tour-wide giveaway. Love that place! And of course I love Disneyland!

I also have an editing project I've got to get done during the trip, and some other projects coming up... Plus, here's hoping I can get some reading done so I can get some more reviews up!

As for Bleeding Heart, even though the blog tour doesn't officially start until the 18th of August, the publicity campaign, if you will, is on its way! Here's where it starts - an interview on Melissa's awesome blog for "Welcome Mat Wednesday" (click the image below):

I'd love for you to stop by and say "hello," and maybe share about a character you'd love to spend a day with!

Speaking of blog tours, the winners from May the K9 Spy's blog tour will be posted today on her Facebook page! And I'm still planning on sharing the conclusion of the Songstone blog tour on Friday!

While things are going to be rather hectic on Friday, I'll also be sharing a guest post on Seekerville titled "Blog Tours, Cover Reveals, and Giveaways - Publicity 101." I'll be in off and on, hopefully (when I'm not out exploring the Wild West), to respond to comments! So, I hope to see you here and there!

How about you? Have you all had some fun adventures so far this summer - even if it's just through the pages of a book?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour: Anomaly

Here's a description of the book:

"Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…"

My Rating


My Review

Fascinating. The underground world McGee has created... The difficult questions McGee doesn't save her characters from... The Matrix-y intensity without the ickiness (Thank you, McGee!)... The twists and turns through the human mind... The romance that somehow survives and is as tender and fragile as one would expect in such a world... And the creative and simply powerful look at faith. All of it made for such an engaging story, and a great start to what's sure to be an intriguing trilogy!

To be honest, the two YA contemporaries I read by McGee - while sweet and written in an easy-to-read style - were not favorites of mine, but I was curious about her foray into the world of dystopia. McGee's writing style fits so well in this genre, and I loved this one! Her simple storytelling makes Thalli's eye-opening process so interesting to read about, and it creates a strong impact when Thalli wrestles with tough issues - things like reality vs. simulation, and the fear of forgetting all one has ever known and believed in.

The epilogue has me a bit unsure... Either A) the villain is even more egotistical than previously suggested or B) his plan is super complicated. But really, either way I'm curious to see where this series goes! This is a great set-up, and - more than that - a thought-provoking story on its own. Bravo, McGee, for your creativity and your fearlessness!

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity blog tour.*

About the Author

"When Krista McGee isn't living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she lives in Tampa and spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher, and coffee snob. She is also the author of Anomaly, First Date, Starring Me, and Right Where I Belong." Learn more about the author at

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour: Check out the reviews from other blog tour participants HERE.

My Reviews of Other McGee Books: First Date and Right Where I Belong

Litfuse Contest

Krista McGee is celebrating the release of Anomaly, the first book in her new YA dystopian series, with an iPad Mini Giveaway!


One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A $25 iTunes gift card (download Anomaly to the iPad!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 31st. Winner will be announced at Krista's website on August 2nd.

Spread the word about Krista and her giveaway HERE!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bleeding Heart - Now Available!

Want to hear a not-so-secret secret? My debut novel is available now in Kindle format on Amazon! The blog button still says August, and that's when the official release excitement will occur, but you don't have to wait until then to pick up a copy. *big grin*

It is with much joy (and more than a little relief, LOL) that I present you with this link:

I'm so grateful to all of you for sharing this journey to publication with me! I hope you are blessed by this story - and I hope it makes you want to learn more about some of the characters, because I'm thinking that this won't be the last you'll hear from some of them, Lord willing! But more on that in the weeks and months to come...

In the meantime, if you'd be willing to help me out, I'd love for you to check out a few links!
  • Here's the book's Amazon link again: Bleeding Heart. Of course, you know I'd be honored if you'd like to purchase the book, borrow it via Amazon Prime, or try out a sample! But it would also be a big help if you could share the link with others! There are some buttons on the right underneath the "Free Kindle Reading App" box where you can share the link via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. And if you received a review copy, if you'd be willing to share your review there whenever you have it ready, that would be wonderful!
  • I also have an Author Central page on Amazon now: Amber Stokes. There's a button in the upper right where you can "Like" the page, which would be super cool if you did! *wink*
  • And, of course, you can find other links and info on the Bleeding Heart site. I'll keep that page updated with promo info, and I'm sure you'll hear about it here, too, LOL! The blog tour is coming up soon, and there will be some additional posts before then (including an interview next Wednesday on Melissa Tagg's blog, and a guest post I'm sharing in conjunction with Sandra Leesmith regarding book promotion on the "Seekerville" blog, mentioned in the latest Weekend Edition).
I hope you all have a lovely weekend! We'll hopefully be leaving on vacation next Thursday, so I guess I have a lot to do before then... A writer's/publicist's/editor's/blogger's/book reviewer's work is never done, right? You got to love the crazy book-biz world! And you all know that we really do. ♥

Friday, July 26, 2013

Conclusion of May the K9 Spy's Blog Tour!

You want to know the coolest thing about this particular blog tour's conclusion post? While the tour itself might be over, the fun is not! Here are 2 reasons to stay excited:

1. May Finds a Way: Peril in Paris - the exciting sequel to May's first book - is still FREE for Kindle!!! (Regularly $3.99) If you haven't downloaded it yet, be sure to snatch it up between now and Saturday night! (And if you missed the first book, it's only $2.99 for Kindle!) We'd love your help in spreading the word so little May can climb the big Amazon charts. ♥

2. May's two drawings - "reviewers rewards" and the scavenger hunt - are open for entries through Monday, July 29th! Details HERE (and below)!

Scavenger Hunt

Did you catch all 11 of the red letters in the blog tour posts (including the introduction post)? You have the weekend to sleuth for the letters, unscramble the code word (hint: May loves it and uses it often in a special phrase!), and enter your guess for a chance to win a PAWsome bookmark and a gift card!

Doesn't that bookmark look sweet?? Check out Blog Tour HQ for links to the blog tour posts (where the red letters were hidden), the rules for the drawing, and the form to enter your response.

The winner (drawn randomly from correct entries) will be announced on May's Facebook page on Wednesday, July 31st, so be sure to swing by there then!

Lucky 7 Rewards for Reviewers

Did you pick up free copies of books 1 and 2 in May's series? Did you receive review copies in order to share your review during the blog tour? Did you purchase one or both of May's e-books? If your answer is "yes" to any of these questions, this drawing is for you!

You still have through the weekend (through Monday, actually!) to finish reading the book(s) and share your review(s) on Amazon! (Link to book 1: May on the Way; Link to book 2: May Finds a Way) All you have to do is e-mail me the link(s) to your honest review(s) (at to be entered to win one of these super cool prizes:
  • May the K9 Spy set with hardcover copies of the books, plush toys, and pet treats from Joshua's Pet Treat Bakery (pictured above)
  • Autographed copy of May Leads the Way: Trouble Near Tofino when it releases 
  • $25 Cheesecake factory gift card
  • A character named after you in book 3
More details about the prizes and rules can be found at Blog Tour HQ!


Despite the fact that the drawings are still open for entries and the last freebie promotion is still going on, it is time to wrap up the actual blog tour. (Blog Tour HQ will be up through Wednesday, though, so you can revisit links and keep up on the winner news there!) A blog tour is a community event, and I wish to thank the following people...
  • All of the participating bloggers: Sherida, Rebeka, Diane, Roseanna, Virginia, Meagan, Serena (and Ellerie!), Cindy, Kav, and Tammy. (If you missed any of their posts, do be sure to check out these links!) This was a rather complicated blog tour because of the scavenger hunt and all of the book news, so we greatly appreciate your time, your effort, and your willingness to be a part of this. There would have been no blog tour without you, so thank you for everything!
  • All those who downloaded books 1 and 2 doing their freebie promotion periods on Amazon. And to those who wrote reviews, an extra big "thank you" (and I'm sure lots of tail wagging from May)! 
  • KC. Thank you for the privilege of working with you to get May's stories out to the masses. I hope you and May had fun with the tour! Thank you for all of your encouragement, and for getting me to learn new things, like how to put together a newsletter. *wink* You challenged me and yet remained patient with me, and it's been a pretty "pawsome" experience!
Bonus Review

Here's a description of the book:

"An enterprising escape, a perilous mission...

After going astray during K9 Spy boot camp, May tries to find a way to the American Embassy in Paris.

Join her and Léonce, a feral cat, as they sniff out an evil plot leading from Benjamin Franklin's park through the historic Passy Cemetery to The Pantheon...including a journey under the city!"

My Review

May really does find her way in book 2 of the "May the K9 Spy" series - a story that resonated with me even more than book 1 and improved on May's voice and her adventures! Once the action pulled me in, I enjoyed getting caught up in the suspense and the intriguing look at Paris. The descriptions of the city add to the drama of a dog trying to save the day and embrace her purpose, as well as a boy trying to do the right thing and a cat trying to help where he can. The characters are intriguing, and I must admit that Léonce made the book all the better for me... What can I say? I'm a cat-lover, and Léonce reminds me of why that is so - 'cause cats are pretty great. *wink*

There was a bit of a disconnect for me toward the end of the book, when something rather major happens but isn't really properly addressed until a couple of scenes later, at the very end. (I guess I didn't quite understand why May wasn't more upset and more eager for answers.) Overall, though, I had great fun joining May on this journey, and I'm impressed with this sequel - the story, the characters, and another batch of great illustrations to go with them. Bring on book 3!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Launch of the Songstone Blog Tour!!!

I'm thrilled to announce the beginning of the Songstone blog tour! Lena Goldfinch has become a dear friend, in addition to being my awesome cover designer and a number of other amazing things. I love her books, and Songstone is my favorite so far, so you can imagine how excited I am that some wonderful bloggers are helping us to spread the word!

Here's the lowdown about this sweet summer tour...


Monday, July 22nd
Tuesday, July 23rd
Wednesday, July 24th
Thursday, July 25th
Friday, July 26th
Saturday, July 27th
Sunday, July 28th
Monday, July 29th
Tuesday, July 30th
Wednesday, July 31st
Thursday, August 1st
Friday, August 2nd
To view this schedule at any time, grab some blog buttons, etc., be sure to visit the blog tour page!


Lena is offering one main summer-themed giveaway, which you can enter at any of the stops along the tour via the Rafflecopter form. (Or even here, if you'd like!) The giveaway is open internationally, although the type of gift card you win is dependent on where you live (Dairy Queen for U.S. residents, Amazon for all other countries).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

While the gift cards are rather self-explanatory (yay frozen treats or summer shopping!), here's a little more info about the other two prizes:


"Kita can meld song into stone. In a world with no written word, storytelling—the ability to meld (or magically impress) song into stone—is greatly honored. The village honors her master as their medicine man, but Kita knows he's secretly a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it from him. Each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope. His spells blind the villagers, so they can’t see him for what he really is.

 Not that anyone would want to help her. She was found in the forest as a baby and would have died if a village girl hadn't brought her home. But the villagers saw Kita's unusual coloring and decided she belonged to the mysterious tribe who lives in the forests of the volcano, a people feared for their mystical powers. So they fear her too. Now seventeen, she can barely admit her deepest longing: to know who she really is and where she belongs.

Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He's come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village--a storyteller who'll be chosen at the great assembly. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom and she'll risk her life to take it.

A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people."

Add the book on Goodreads. Purchase at

Sea Glass Necklace

 Designed by The Studio of Glass.

Extra Giveaways

In addition to the Rafflecopter giveaway, be on the lookout for additional e-book giveaways at a couple of the blog tour stops! 


So there you have it! Enjoy the reviews, interviews, and giveaways, and pick up a copy of Songstone for your summer reading pleasure! *grin* Then come back here on August 2nd for the conclusion of the tour and the Rafflecopter winner announcement. 

If you have any questions about the tour, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or e-mail me at

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dragonwitch Winner and Upcoming Events!

I had the pleasure of hosting Anne Elisabeth Stengl last week for the release day blog tour for Dragonwitch. (If you missed the interview, you can read it HERE!) Anne was generous enough to do an extra giveaway on my blog, and the winner of a copy of Dragonwitch is...


Congratulations, Christa! I sent you an e-mail, so be sure to check your inbox!

If you have yet to grab your copy of Anne's latest, you can purchase it HERE. My review copy arrived this past week, so I should hopefully be reading it and sharing my thoughts here soon!

In the meantime, here are some of the other goings-on...
  • May the K9 Spy's blog tour is in full swing! We're halfway through, with a stop at The Curried Nut today. While the first book has completed its freebie promotion period, you'll be able to pick up book 2 for FREE next week (the 23rd through the 27th), so don't miss it! And be sure to follow the tour by visiting Blog Tour HQ. Seven letters have been revealed so far for the scavenger hunt - have you found them all? The tour concludes on Friday, with winners announced on May's Facebook page the following Wednesday (so everyone has time to get their entries in!).
  • The Songstone blog tour begins tomorrow! Lots of exciting stops along the way, so be sure to follow along via the blog tour page. It's an island-themed tour with a sweet summer giveaway you won't want to miss! AND, the Kindle version is currently $.99 as part of a pre-release promotion, so grab your copy before the tour kicks off!
  • Be on the lookout for other book news as I work through some review copies on my TBR pile and finish proofreading Bleeding Heart, which is due to release in less than 2 weeks! Eeep!! 
Have a wonderful Sunday, and see you in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Review of the Halflings Trilogy

About the Series

Book 1: "In the first book of the Halflings Trilogy, Nikki Youngblood discovers she’s the central force of a madman’s plan, and turns to three half-angel boys for protection. With the Halflings, she’s completely safe. Everything except her heart. And Mace’s soul. Falling for him could ensure his eternal ruin."

Book 2: "In book two of the Halflings Trilogy by author Heather Burch, Nikki Youngblood discovers there might be more to her gifts than simply Seeing—making her a central part of Damon Vessler’s plans. Mace and Raven are forced to work together to keep Nikki safe, but will their love and protection be enough to keep Nikki from the future set before her?"

Book 3: "In the third book of the Halflings series from author Heather Burch, Nikki must finally make a decision—not only which Halfling boy she will give her heart to, but where she stands in the supernatural war her godfather has unleashed. Though first she must ward off a demonic Seeker that is intent on ending her life."

[Book descriptions from the Blink YA Books website.]

My Review

The "Halflings" trilogy caused divided reactions in me: half enthralled, half frustrated. I admit that one of my biggest difficulties in approaching the stories was reconciling the presented theology with the awareness that the series is more fantasy than a presentation of angelology and the like. When it comes to novels with angels (or in this case, half angels) as the main characters, some sort of theology is going to be involved, whether the author wishes to highlight it as a valid interpretation of Scripture or not. I occasionally got hung up on things that were probably not intended to be huge statements, but bothered me, nonetheless. It was a bit of a jerky ride - being swept along through some of the action and romance scenes, but then getting snagged by attitudes and beliefs that didn't resonate (as well as some dialogue and actions that confused or annoyed me). That being said, it was still an enjoyable ride, overall, and one that certainly culminated in an exciting conclusion!

Haflings sets the stage by introducing some interesting characters and creating a good bit of intrigue about who Nikki is and what all the hoopla is about (i.e.: why everyone is either chasing her or determined to protect her from the ones chasing her). Guardian continues the romantic drama created in the first book by adding some rather fantastical plot twists (including a yacht ride to Europe vs. flying there) and keeping the Nikki pendulum swinging between her two admirers. Avenger adds a bit more depth by raising the stakes, giving the characters some maturity, and forcing the characters to face what needs to be faced (no matter how painful the revelations are) and decide what they're willing to fight for - and sacrifice for.

Through the books - especially in Guardian - it felt a bit like the Halflings were some sort of "Avengers" or "Justice League" group. It was like they were super heroes with special powers called upon to save the world - or at least their assigned problem in the world. I think this impression was supported by the faith aspect, especially the take on prayer that bothered me in Guardian. There's one scene where Will - the guardian of Vine, Mace, and Raven (the Halflings initially assigned to Nikki) - told Nikki to pray, pointing out the supernatural realm where angels were fighting to keep death from entering the scene and taking certain lives. When Nikki prayed, it came across (to me) as a matter of course vs. a genuine communication with an omnipotent God. She even asks something after saying a prayer to the effect of, "Did I do it?" as if she was the one who was responsible for any change in the situation. That attitude seemed to permeate a lot of the series - a focus on the deeds of the angels and Halflings rather than the source of their strength in the One they were supposed to be serving. The references to "the Throne," while in keeping with the feeling of a group of soldiers getting orders from the General, kept the faith element from really feeling personal or authentic to me.

Like I noted before, it's sometimes hard to keep in mind that this is mainly fantasy, especially when Scripture
is noted in defense of why certain things are the way they are in the story. When biblical references are used to support certain theories presented in the books, I can't help but wrestle with them. I know, I know - it's fiction, and the books certainly don't attempt to tell you otherwise! Yet, it was hard to mark the distinction between when the books were exploring interesting ideas for the sake of a good story, and when they were trying to convey certain beliefs beyond the fiction. I guess it just ended up being more confusing than inspiring or convicting in a theological sense.

As for the plot and the characters, there were some things that bugged me: Nikki's role, especially, as well as the repetitive back-and-forth interactions between her and her two guys. I could sympathize with her often enough to keep me reading, but her flip-flopping emotional extremes and her drastic personality shifts from warrior to wounded girl did annoy me. I admire that she was supposed to be a "tough" heroine, and I certainly understand why she had difficulty figuring out her affections when both boys did crazy things to her heart. But when Nikki noted in Halflings that she had taken six years of martial arts and was therefore basically able to take on any man, I scoffed. I realize that different types of martial arts can better prepare you for real-life combat than others, and different people can learn more quickly than others, but still...six years? That hardly makes anyone an expert in any field, especially considering Nikki is a teenager! (Yes, this is sort of a minor element I'm picking on, but the whole martial-arts thing didn't jive with me. Nikki ended up being open to learning more about fighting techniques, but I guess it was more that her character's personality and activities didn't always mesh for me, in general.)

Despite my complaints, I did find the books to be engaging. I devoured them pretty quickly, and I really appreciated being able to read them nearly one right after the other. The plot held my interest, and I think it and the character development came together the best in Avenger, which was my favorite of the three. (Although I imagine I enjoyed it that much more because I had been with the characters through two previous books and I could finally see them grow and find some resolution. I certainly recommend all of the books being read together and in order, if possible, for the most enjoyment.)

So, what's the verdict? I was personally frustrated by some of the faith elements (as they were presented) and some of the ideas behind the story and the characters. However, it's an intriguing and creative series that ultimately challenges and changes its characters, leaving an impact on the reader. Some parts feel ridiculous, and some end up working well when all is said and done - not to mention that it is a mostly fun reading experience, despite the little annoyances. The "Haflings" trilogy is one that can leave the reader rather torn, as I am...but I'm still glad to have met the characters and been given the opportunity to ponder some interesting topics because of them.

*With many thanks to Zondervan and DJC Communications for providing me with a copy of each book in the series in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Monday, July 15, 2013

Launch of May the K9 Spy's Blog Tour!!!

Are you ready to play with May? 'Cause she, author K.C. Frantzen, and I have a super fun blog tour planned - complete with a scavenger hunt for fellow spies - to celebrate the release of her first two illustrated Middle Grade books in Kindle format! Read on to learn the lowdown...


First off, be sure to note this link: Blog Tour HQ. If you're ever lost, unsure of your instructions (for the scavenger hunt), or curious about how to help spread the news, that's where you'll want to go! (The blog buttons link back to that page.)

And now, here's the schedule:
If there are any last-minute changes to this schedule, they will be noted on the blog tour page - so check there for the latest news and most up-to-date information!

Drawings and Freebies!

Scavenger Hunt

Have you seen any of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery shows? If so, you may recall their practice of marking certain letters in red throughout the credits when a show airs on TV, which spell a word that fits with that episode. (I’m pretty sure this isn’t just on Sherlock, but that’s the show I’m thinking of!)

Consider all of the posts for this blog tour (including this one but not including the conclusion) the "credits" for May the K9 Spy's adventures. You'll find one letter highlighted or marked in red in each of those posts, so take note! Write them down and then (here's the trick!) unscramble them to form a code word May wants to share with you all. A winner will be randomly drawn from the correct guesses, and he or she will win a $25 LongHorn Steakhouse gift card and a specially designed May the K9 Spy bookmark, pictured below:

Pawsome, right? Here are the rules:
  • This drawing is for U.S. residents ages 13 and up. 
  • Record your guess on the form HERE. Entries will be accepted through July 29th, with the winner announced on July 31st on May's Facebook page
  • Remember, you most likely won't be able to figure out the word until all of the blog tour posts have been shared. You should have between Thursday, July 25th and Monday, July 29th to figure out your answer and submit it.
  • If you have any questions, read more of the details on the scavenger hunt form on the blog tour page, and/or e-mail me at I'll share hints with everyone on the blog tour page if needed!
Lucky 7 Rewards for Reviewers

We have one more drawing going on during the blog tour, and that's the "Lucky 7 Rewards for Reviewers!" Basically, you grab a copy of May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy and/or May Finds a Way: Peril in Paris, write a review(s), share your review(s) on, and then e-mail me saying you did so for a chance to win some great prizes! There are 7 prizes in all, and they include the chance to have a character named after you in May's next book, pawographed copies of book 3 when it releases this fall, and more!

Entries are currently low, so don't miss out on this chance to win! Learn all of the details in May's latest newsletter or e-mail me at


To make things even easier for that reviewers drawing and even more exciting for those just hearing about this series, May's two e-books are going to be free at different times during the blog tour! Be sure to note these links and dates below in order to catch free copies of these sweet and exciting illustrated books:

This tour is only as fun as you all make it, so I do hope you'll visit the different posts along the way (spotlights, reviews, and interviews) and take part in the scavenger hunt! Interact with May, leave comments asking her questions, share your thoughts on the books - whatever you want to do! We're just glad you're here. *grin* Please don't hesitate to e-mail me or leave a comment on the blog tour page (or here) if you have any questions about the tour!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Facing the Dragon ~ Interview & Giveaways with Anne Elisabeth Stengl!

I'm excited to see the epic and beautifully written “Tales of Goldstone Wood” series continue with the release of Dragonwitch! Anne is here to share a little more about the book with us today...


Amber: Welcome, Anne! First off, what are your thoughts on the cover? It’s quite different from the other covers in the series, especially since the villain is featured vs. the heroines on the other covers. Like/dislike? Does it set the tone well?

Anne: I was surprised when I received the cover for, as you say, it is very different from the others. I liked it right away, but was also concerned. Combined with the title, Dragonwitch, I feared it might be off-putting to some of my target audience. But when I questioned my editor, he said that he believed it provided a necessary contrast to the “sweet” cover used on Starflower. My one complaint with Starflower’s gorgeous cover was that it lacked any hint of the menace to be found in the story. That is certainly not an issue for Dragonwitch!

And ultimately, Dragonwitch has appealed much more to the male audience, which is also nice. I don’t think of my stories as “girly,” but with a steady stream of lovely ladies on the covers, most boys aren’t likely to pick them up. But Dragonwitch looks epic!

Also, for all there are a number of wonderful characters peopling this tale, it is ultimately the Dragonwitch’s story. She had to be on the cover.

Amber: It is indeed epic, and I am intrigued by the fact that this is her story!

What “dragons” did you have to face in writing this particular story? Was it more difficult to write than previous stories?

Anne: I wrote five different beginnings of 40,000 words each, none of which worked with the story I was trying to tell. Each time, I would try a completely different approach to the same basic story, and each time, I failed. And, with a deadline looming, that did not make for a happy writer! I have never had so much difficulty with a story before or since.

I think the problem stemmed from a stubborn insistence on holding onto storylines and ideas I had conceived years before, back when Dragonwitch was just a few notes in a spiral notebook. But many of those ideas simply did not work anymore, or weren’t as good as the ideas I was having later. But it’s hard to let go!

When I did finally stop insisting the story had to be any one thing and let it tell itself the way it wanted to be told, it started coming together. The final draft that became the book it is now really wrote itself in just three months! But I never forget the thousands of unprinted words that form the foundation of the story as it is now.

Amber: Wow, Anne! Your dedication and effort are incredible! You set such a great example for other writers - appreciate you sharing that!

Now, a little lighter of a question... If your cats could read, which of them would most love Dragonwitch and why? For some reason I’m guessing Minerva Louise… *wink* (Picture from Minerva's blog.)

Anne: I think Minerva would like it best, though she would definitely view the Dragonwitch as a sympathetic, misunderstood heroine, and all the other characters as Minions Who Should Be Crushed. Thank heaven Minerva doesn’t care to read!

Amber: Hehehe...

Back to another serious question: What is your “weapon” of choice for slaying the dragon of writer’s block? 

Anne: I’ll call it the 500 Word Knife. I faced the worst writer’s block of my life while working on Dragonwitch, but with a nearing deadline, I dared not step away from the manuscript. So I would sit down and tell myself, “You only have to write 500 words.” They didn’t even have to be 500 good words. Just 500 words that generally moved the story forward. After those 500 words were written, I would take a break, do something else, clean the kitchen, etc. Then I would sit down and write 500 more. It was a slog, but I could usually get 1,500 or 2,000 words written a day this way. (My normal is between 3,000 and 4,000.)

When the writer’s block was at its absolute worst, I ignored the deadline, took a few weeks off, and threw myself into intense research. Not even research for Dragonwitch necessarily. Just research in general, to see if ideas would come. I read books of theology, studied the history of the Norman Invasion of England, pulled out a book on British dragons, and more, taking copious notes while I read. Eventually, while pursuing these studies, I began to feel new ideas forming. Then it was back to the 500 word stints for a little while. And finally, I was able to start writing freely, and the book took shape.

Amber: Again, what can I say but "wow"?! 

So, can new readers pick up Dragonwitch and understand it on a basic level as a stand-alone? Or do you recommend readers start with Heartless and work their way up to Dragonwitch?

Anne: I wrote Dragonwitch to serve as a standalone novel, but I do think readers will enjoy it best in the context of the entire series. Only Veiled Rose and Moonblood need to be read back-to-back, but all of the stories are intricately connected.

Amber: So enjoy having you visit, and appreciate your thoughtful responses! Congrats on the release of Book 5!!


Are you intrigued now, my friends?? Read on for a chance to win Anne's books and catch up with Anne on other blogs during this tour! (And stay tuned for my review of Draongwitch, coming soon-ish!)


Not only is Anne hosting a giveaway across all blogs in the tour for all five of her books, but she's also offering a copy of Dragonwitch for one of my readers! Here are the rules:

~ Leave a comment - whatever sort of comment you'd like to share. *smile* Suggestions: If you're a writer, what's your weapon of choice for facing the dragon of writer's block? If you're a reader, what are your thoughts on Anne's latest cover? What sort of covers attract you the most?

~ You must have a U.S. mailing address, and you must leave your e-mail address in a comment below so I can contact you if you win!

~ Giveaway is open through Saturday, July 20, with the winner announced on Sunday, July 21. Winner will be chosen randomly from qualifying comments via

And if you'd like a chance to win all 5 of Anne's books (not Shadow Hand, as that releases next spring)...

 ...just enter via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule

Check out all the other cool spots on the tour! Visit with Anne and her loyal fans:

Tour Schedule
July 14 - Day 1
Seasons of Humility - Interview  ← You are here!

July 15 - Day 2
Crafty Booksheeps - Interview
Young Adult Books - Sneak Peek
Darling Diaries - Interview
Blooming with Books - Interview/Sneak Peek

July 16 - Day 3

July 17
Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Review of Mistaken

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

"Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list.

Daniel has mixed feelings about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage his grandfather’s drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie pushes him away--for none other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown--Daniel wonders if Laurie really is the upstanding woman he thought her to be.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off the beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous water for reckless rumrunners—and the agents who tried to catch them. So when she realizes her brother is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie's mind. Yet the people she believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after all."

My Rating


My Review

The first chapter impressed me, and then what followed proceeded to sweep me away into another era full of time-specific tension and yet universal relational drama. Karen Barnett writes the kind of romantic suspense I enjoy - historical! And historical done well, with interesting details that don't bog down the plot, and descriptions that make the setting come alive. Despite the difficult situations the main characters find themselves in, I loved being immersed in their story for a time, really feeling their dilemmas and remaining hopeful for their revelations.

Mistaken is a story about jumping to wrong conclusions - for both the characters and the reader. That first night when Daniel and Laurie meet and Laurie's brother is introduced gives everyone wrong impressions, and it's neat to see the following complexities of some characters that could have become too typical. The danger might not be overly intense throughout the entire plot (although it's still there in terms of poor choices and hurting hearts), but there's enough to carry the plot along while allowing the setting/time period to shine and the relationships to take center stage. And even though the ending has its moments that might feel a bit cliché for the genre, it ended up surprising me in parts and leaving me satisfied when all was said and done.

Loved the authentic emotions and attitudes, loved the little twists and suspense, and loved the intriguing look into America's past. This is a well-written historical romantic suspense that has me excited to know more is in the works from Barnett!

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

Now available on!