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28 August 2015

Book Promotion: A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis

Coming August 14th!

Deep in a forest glade, the fey folk dance with Isidore, a young human child. Their kinship is the very fabric of her childhood. When her mother dies and her world darkens with sorrow, Isidore finds her belief in the fey folk wavering.

The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

Driven to desperation, Isidore turns to the fey folk once more. She has only one wish to claim from them, one chance to make things right. But she must tread carefully. For wishes, like hearts, are easily broken. And obtaining the one thing she desires could mean destroying the one thing she truly needs.

Author Bio:

Ashlee Willis is the author of fantasy for young adults. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and being a stay-at-home mom, she also finds time to enjoy forest rambles, crocheting, and playing the piano. She lives in the heart of Missouri with her family.

5-Star Review Excerpt:
"A story of wonder, beauty, heartbreak, healing, a story to remind us that we are not made for this world. This story is a beautifully written, descriptive fairy tale." - Clare Farrelly, excerpt from a Goodreads review

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Author Website:

26 August 2015

Review: Jaded by Varina Denman

A Book with a Colour in the Title

I passed on this book when I first saw it available for review. The cover looked boring, as though it was about the Amish, or perhaps their Mennonite cousins. The blurb didn’t attract me, although it did make it clear that the book was set in small-town Texas, with no Amish or Mennonites in sight. It looked boring.

But then reviews started coming through, specifically a review from Andrea Grigg. She raved about Jaded … which convinced me that maybe I’d misjudged Jaded, and persuaded me I had to read it (and I’d missed the opportunity to get a review copy, so I actually had to BUY this one!)

I admit that at first I wondered what Andrea was so excited by. Ruthie Turner hates church and works two jobs to support herself and her depressed mother and desperately wants to escape the tiny Texas town of Trapp (although I didn’t pick up on that obvious pun while I was reading). Dodd Turner is the new high school maths teacher, and the new town preacher. The teaching job puts him in regular contact with Ruthie, who he is attracted to but who will barely give him the time of day.

It all seemed a bit mundane and annoying. Ruthie annoyed me because I couldn’t see why she didn’t just up and leave (if she can get two jobs in a town as small as Trapp, surely she can get a job anywhere). The people of the town of Trapp annoyed me because of their small-minded attitudes. And the people of the Trapp church especially annoyed me, for their judgemental and ignorant attitudes (they probably believe King James wrote the Bible).

But I persevered because the writing was excellent. It mixed first person (Ruthie) and third person (Dodd), which is something I’ve seen more novels fail at than succeed at. Once I got past the initial glitch that Jaded was written in both first and third person, both points of view flowed well. Ruthie was a particularly strong viewpoint character: I didn’t necessarily like her, but she had an engaging way with words:
“My uncle was pushing seventy and moved slower than a horned lizard on a cold day.”
Great image.
“I thought how nice it would be to keep inching back, crawling to a place where memories couldn’t meet me.”
That evokes an emotional response, a feeling of recognition. It’s strong writing.
“Loneliness floated over me like a snowdrift. Loneliness so thick I could smell it. Taste it. Hear it. Not even why my daddy left had I felt anything like it. Not even when the church shunned us. Not even when Momma became a ghost.”

Wow. One paragraph manages to pack in Ruthie’s entire backstory as well as several rounds of emotional punches. If only every novel I read had such good lines.

But it’s one thing to say the writing was strong. Great writing is nothing without a good story and engaging characters. And it took a while, but I did eventually connect with Ruthie and the other characters, perhaps a quarter of the way through. After that, I didn’t want to put the book down. It was that good. The writing may have pulled me in, but it was the characters who kept me there. And now I want to read the sequel, Justified.

Thanks, Andrea. I really needed more books on my to-read pile.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book with a colour in the title.

24 August 2015

Review and Giveaway: A Heart's Home by Colleen Coble

A hidden pregnancy, a promise sure to break hearts, and a tragic loss at Fort Phil Kearny: Don't miss the gripping conclusion in book six, A Heart's Home, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie’s solemn vow threatens her happiness from within. Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart—and Isaac’s? Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

Colleen is celebrating the final book release of her A Journey of the Heart series by giving away the entire series and the chance to host Colleen virtually at your book club, local library, or women's group to talk about the series.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Books 1–6 of A Journey of the Heart series
  • A chat with Colleen via Skype or Google Hangout
  • A custom book-club kit PDF, featuring Colleen's favorite recipes and group discussion questions
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 31st. Winner will be announced September 1st on Colleen's website.


My Review

I haven’t enjoyed this series, partly because the beginning of each book has included what turned out to be a plot summary (i.e. detailing what happens at the end) rather than a book description (setting up characters and conflict to entice the reader to read). A Heart’s Home managed not to include the spoilers (yay!), but still didn’t deliver for me.

Basically, my problems have been the same throughout the whole series. It’s been driven by external conflict to the point it’s crossed the line from drama to melodrama, and this final book was no exception. Emmie is now engaged to Isaac, although she still hasn’t told him her Big Secret, and she’s afraid jealous Jessica will tell him first …

Then I-don’t-want-to-tell-you-what happens (because that would definitely be a spoiler, and the series has had quite enough of those already, thank you), which puts Emmie’s engagement in danger … and the whole plot turns and more Bad Things happen and the Big Secret is completely forgotten (as is Jessica, although that might not have been a bad thing).

I got to the end and, yes, there’s a big Happy Ever After and cliché epilogue but no mention of Jessica or the Big Secret (that’s not a spoiler: this is marketed as a romance series, and I’d have hated it if we didn’t at least get the promised HEA ending. As it is, I merely disliked it). At this point, I’m not even clear with the Big Secret was. Unless it wasn’t such a big secret and somehow I missed it. There’s also the implication that Jessica must have Something Horrible in her past to make her into the horrible person she is, but this isn’t followed up on either.

Overall, there was too much drama (melodrama?), too little character development and too many plot holes for me to consider this even okay. It’s a shame—I like Colleen Coble’s contemporary romantic suspense novels. But I’ve read all six books in this series and one or two of her other historical romances, and I have to say I’m not sold. Even discounting my preference for romantic suspense over regular romance, Coble’s historical offerings simply aren’t as good as her contemporary stories.

Thanks to Litfuse and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

21 August 2015

Book Promotion: Space Kitties

"Close your eyes. Imagine kitties were in space. Open your eyes. Read"

Light-hearted tales of feline adventure from across the cosmos, by a collection of authors from across the country. Many sci-fi fans have noticed the lack of an animal element in their fare for a long time.. and now we have changed that! Eleven far thinking spec-fic authors banded together for a collection of fun, unique and suspenseful stories about kitties in space. What could be better?

Subtly humor-slanted focus, to be in keeping with the cute and fuzzy kitty on the cover. A variety of styles... and varying lengths: from 300 words to 10k... and a wide range of subjects & themes.... all with a cat involved with outer space in some way.

Join this twelve pack of literary entries as kitties take to the stars amid the cosmos of your imagination...

5-Star Review Excerpt:
"If you like cats and if you like science fiction, you will get a kick out of this delightful little book. There are stories with serious points and there are stories that are just plain fun." - Steve Mathisen, excerpt from an Amazon review

E. Kaiser Writes' Facebook Page:

Author Website:

19 August 2015

Review: Oslo Overture by Marion Ueckermann

Sheppard meets Angel

Anjelica Joergensen—Angel—is one of the few females in the male-dominated world of professional wingsuit flyers. Not only is it a dangerous occupation, it’s one which attracts daredevils with too little thought for safety. She’s lost her heart to a fellow wingsuiter once before, and isn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

Kyle Sheppard has travelled all the way from New Zealand to Norway with his wingsuit team to participate in a record-setting jump as part of Norway’s National Day celebrations. He immediately gets off on the wrong foot with the pretty wingsuiter, which is unfortunate as he is attracted to her. But he’s not interested in anyone who doesn’t share his Christian faith, and she doesn’t seem to be interested in him, either …

It’s great to see a Kiwi character in a Christian novel, especially one who is recognisably Kiwi without being cliché. Some might see the team performing the haka as cliché, but who’s going to argue with men performing a war dance, especially when the translation—it is death, it is life—is so apt for those participating in such a dangerous sport. For those of you who have never seen a haka performed, get thee to an All Black test … or visit YouTube.

It’s also great to see fictional women in unusual surroundings and occupations, and to see two characters for whom the Christian faith is a lifestyle, not something to be mentioned once or twice to qualify them for the Christian bookstore (sorry, but I’m getting a little tired of “Christian” novels which aren’t. If they aren’t, that’s fine. Just don’t publish them as Christian novels. Sorry. Rant over).

The main characters were likeable, and I wanted them to get together right from the start. There were also some good minor characters, especially Eric and Luke, and I’d like to see more of them … (hint, hint). The writing is strong, and the novella was an enjoyable if brief break from daily life.

There are a couple of characters in Olso Overtures who were in Marian Ueckermann’s previous novella, Helsinki Sunrise, but the two novellas are standalone stories (I haven’t read Helsinki Sunrise, but am tempted to add it to my ever-growing to-read pile. I’m told self-control is a virtue. When it comes to books, it’s not a virtue I possess).

I’m always a sucker for a good romance, especially one with an out-of-the-ordinary setting, and Oslo Overtures ticks all the boxes for what I think a Christian romance should be. Recommended for those who like extreme sports and exotic locations (whether participating and visiting in real life or vicariously through fiction!).

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

This counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book set in another country. Yes, most books I read are set in another country but I figured Norway was a whole lot more exotic than my usual US/UK literary destinations!