Tag Archives: Series

Wings of the Wind

Book Review: Wings of the Wind

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back cover summary from Baker Publishing Group:

Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman’s destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he’s unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

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            Like her previous books in the Out From Egypt series, Wings of the Wind is an entertaining and gripping novel. Connilyn weaves together just the right words into a tapestry that not only entertains but is a delight to read. Once again, she does a good job of handling the facts from the Bible and also taking artistic license where there is little to no information. She doesn’t hold back when describing the Canaanite way of life, but she does so with tact, even though the picture is still ugly and suited for more mature readers.

I love the romance that she puts into her books, but more than that and the historical picture she paints, I love how she brings new light to areas of God’s Word. Reading a personal—though fictitious—perspective of the events of the Israelites and Yahweh gave me a better understanding of our God and how He works, from Egypt to the present.

That’s the beauty of Christian fiction. It entertains, it can provide new information, it can give knowledge on past events, but ultimately it is designed to bring us closer to Christ, to the One who made us. And when a book succeeds in that goal, it is such a sweet thing.

About the Author

Biography from Baker Publishing Group: When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

When Tides Turn

Book Review: When Tides Turn

Author: Sarah Sundin

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell of When Tides Turn:

In a time of war, sometimes battles take place in the heart.

Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face. Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy’s newly established WAVES program for women. Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to make admiral. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals, Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.

But love, like war, is unpredictable. When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore. Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?

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            The third book in the Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn is a fascinating look at the Navy and Naval culture during WW2 encompassed in a sweet story that challenges the reader. I loved the different aspects of the Navy that Sundin brought out, from research to actual ship-submarine warfare. I felt as if I’d taken a step into a history book that educated as well as entertained. I didn’t know much about the WAVES, and learning about the women’s service and impact on the war was very cool.

Tess and Dan are as different as two people can be, which made their story so fun to read. They complemented each other and challenged each other by turns, and I loved reading how their story played out. The mystery thrown in also helped to keep my attention as I tried to figure out who-dun-it.

When Tides Turn is a sweet story that explores looking beyond a person’s surface to who they truly are on the inside, and who they can become. It’s also about submitting our will to God, in every area and aspect of our lives, and what that looks like practically. I highly recommend it, though you may want to learn from my example and not start at the end of the series. 😊

About the Author

Biography from Goodread’s website: Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of the Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep, 2015, Anchor in the Storm, 2016, When Tides Turn, March 2017), the Wings of the Nightingale series, and the Wings of Glory series. Her novel Through Waters Deep won the 2016 INSPY Award, was a Carol Award finalist, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Golden Braid

_225_350_Book.1770.coverBook Review: The Golden Braid

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Book Look Bloggers’ website description of The Golden Braid:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

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I have been a huge fan of Melanie Dickerson and her books since I first read The Healer’s Apprentice when I was a teenager. I have always loved fairytales, and Melanie has a way of taking well-known stories and twisting them into a new, beautiful tale.

The Golden Braid was so much fun to read, from the somewhat arrogant Sir Gerek, to the overbearing and slightly insane Mother Gothel, to Rapunzel herself, in all her misconceptions and quiet strength. The characters in this book were just as interesting and infuriating as in Melanie’s other books. And, as always, the setting is crafted in such a way that it shines through as almost a character unto itself. I enjoyed how the plot touched on those from previous books, allowing us to see beloved characters from another angle.

As usual, I loved Melanie’s latest book, and I eagerly anticipate her next release. She has one more book in the same medieval fairytale vein as The Golden Braid, but she has a new book releasing in February that is a Regency novel, which I am beyond excited to read! What I love about Melanie’s books, is that they are perfect for a teen reader, but they are also well-suited and interesting for an older reader as well. If you’ve never read anything by Melanie, but enjoy books that retell old stories, with romance, adventure, and mystery, then you have got to pick up one of her books!

About the Author

Biography from Book Look Bloggers’ website: Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on line at melaniedickerson.com, Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks, and Twitter @melanieauthor.

I was given a review copy of The Golden Braid from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Becoming the Chateran~Blog Tour, Interview, and Giveaway!

I am really excited to participate in the unveiling of S.J. Aisling’s cover for her debut novel, Becoming the Chateran, and I can’t wait to introduce this new author to you. Stacia and I have been good friends since we were munchkins, and I’m elated that I’ve been able to tag along with her on this journey to publication. In this post, you’re going to get to see the beautiful cover of the novel, get to learn a little about Stacia, read a snippet of the book, and view one of the many illustrations within! I hope by now you’re excited, but that’s not all! You can also participate in a fantastic giveaway.

Back-of-the-book blurb:

When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in serving their sentence:

Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.

Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom of Gemworthy oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.

My interview with Stacia:

When will Becoming the Chateran be available for purchase, and where can I get it?

~ Becoming the Chateran will be available this December as an ebook and a paperback, and you can buy it via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the website of my publisher, Life Sentence/Aniko Press. In fact, you can preorder your own paperback copy now from the latter location – preordering it will up your chances of getting it in time for Christmas!

Where did you find inspiration to write Becoming the Chateran?

Years ago while studying medieval history in school, a friend of mine and I pretended we were knightesses (prince/princess, knight/knightess, right?). I was Rhea, and my friend was Hiylienea. We had so much fun with our fantastical adventures that I decided to write everything down so we could remember it all, and so doing created the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has expanded and matured a lot since then, but all the major elements and characters of the original make-believe are still there.

Any hints as to what awaits in the rest of The Chateran Series?

~ Most of the characters from Becoming the Chateran will reappear throughout the rest of the series, as well as many new ones. I’m personally really excited for this second book of the series to come out, as it will tie up a several loose ends/foreshadowed events from Becoming the Chateran… as well as introducing new conundrums to tease you with. This second book features a shy minstrel girl, an awkward archer, a talking White Stag, revengeful Sídhe, enchained jewelry, and a civil war.

The Chateran Series is medieval fantasy. Have you been doing much research for writing it?

~ For the past seven years and counting I have lived half in this world, and half in that of this series. I’ve been walking around with a notebook all but attached to me, stuffed with notes about food, geography, clothing, character sketches, scene descriptions, and snatches of poetry and ballads. Tailoring myself costumes based off those my characters wear was one of the most amusing and insightful things I did, as I’d dress up in full rig to act scenes out in my back yard or parks before I wrote them, to make the action and descriptions as accurate as possible. I also tried my hand at archery and horseback riding, proudly became the owner of several encyclopedias on world costume and armor, and studied heraldry and the cultures of multiple medieval cultures. My father is a research scientist. I think it rubbed off on me.

Do you have any tips for fellow writers on staying focused on a story?

~ To me, staying driven to write a book depends on finding the happy medium between planning out what will happen and what they characters are like so you start out with good solid ground under you, and leaving enough out so that even you, the writer, is chaffing at the bit to find out what happens next.

Also, I feel too many writers start out by trying to write what they don’t know about, and their lack of knowledge and interest is crippling. But do more than simply write what you know. Write what you are passionate about – readers are smart people, and they’ll notice the conviction ringing through your story, and it will touch them as only fervent honesty can. And as a side perk, you’re more likely to actually WANT to write, as it will be something you feel/believe strongly about. This automatically makes the whole process a lot easier.

Do you like to write from an outline, or do you go by the seat of your pants?

~ I’m somewhere in between. I like to have a general structure of the major plot line down before I start writing, but the real planning I do is in the construction of my characters. As I broaden their personalities, life experiences, and quirks, they tell me the story they want to have told. I’ve always been a big fan of character-driven stories. And whenever I do take a lot of time to plan out the plot, my characters pretty much trash it and do whatever they want, anyway.

What did you enjoy most about writing Becoming the Chateran?

~ As Becoming the Chateran was the first book I ever wrote, the whole discovery of creating and entire fictional world is what delighted me the most. I’m the daughter of an artist and a research scientist, and I like to joke that I’ve got the best of both worlds from each of them – I love to push my creativity, and discover the facts and reasons behind why it would work. I’ll actually be sharing a lot of how I plan and construct the worlds for my books in an intensive miniseries about world building on my blog pretty soon.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to do for writing this book?

~ That’s actually a really hard question to answer. I’ve done a lot of weird things. Googling how to inflict and treat wounds Medieval-style was probably the one that would get me the most odd looks from anyone reading my search history.

Isn’t that cover fantastic? And just so you know, there are 40+ illustrations/visuals in this book–all created by Stacia, including the cover. Now for a sneak peak of Chapter One’s illustration and a bit of the story:

Outside, the sky was flushed with pink and faint gold over the white-flecked sea far below the castle, and a ray of sunlight foraged through the window into the darkness of the staircases and halls. A glimpse of steel caught the light under the figure’s cloak but was swept out of sight again as the figure adjusted the hood to hide its face more effectively. All around, the sounds of disturbance in the castle grew louder, shouted commands echoed down the hallways themselves, and the castle bell in the northern tower rang out the hour of five in ripples of silver music. At the sound, the shadow jumped, heart leaping, and ran up the staircase, only to stop short. Footsteps were coming. Footsteps and the merry sound of a few bars of whistled music. Across the eager face, half-hidden by the dark hood, a smile flashed for a moment, before the cloaked one leapt forward to disappear into the shadow of another flight of stairs just ahead.

He is coming!

 

Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children’s ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.

Here’s how you can connect with Stacia:

Blog: sjaisling.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SJAislingAuthor
Twitter: twitter.com/sjaisling
Tumblr: sjaisling.tumblr.com
Wattpad: wattpad.com/user/sjaisling
DeviantART: theynamedherrheulea.deviantart.com
Life Sentence/Aniko Press: lifesentencepublishing.com
Preordering: http://www.shop.lifesentencepublishing.com/Becoming-The-Chateran-6320.htm?categoryId=-1
Now I’m sure you’re all wondering about the giveaway, so here it is. Follow all the directions and you’ll be entered to win one of those prizes!