Category: awesomeness

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson

the book woman
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author:  Kim Michele Richardson
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

In 1936 Kentucky, Cussy Mary Carter is the last living woman of the Blue People. With her blue skin, she’s taunted and ridiculed and treated as inferior, but Cussy Mary is a proud member of the Kentucky Pack Horse library service. This job is her way out, an escape from needing to marry in order to survive.

For Cussy Mary, delivering books to the backwoods people on her route is more than a job. For people who rarely see a newspaper—and who are unlikely to be able to read one if they did see it—the Book Woman is a Godsend, a deliverer of outside news, and a glimmer of hope in the darkness of the woods amidst prejudice and poverty so devastating it destroys entire families. Cussy Mary is determined to continue delivering hope to those around her—along with books.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is an incredible read! Yes, the blue-skinned people in Kentucky were real—they had methemoglobinemia, which caused a decrease in oxygenation of their skin. The prejudice and abuse Cussy Mary experiences in this book is heartbreaking, but so is the poverty that surrounds her. This book is vivid and lovely, with every page engraved with the strength of Cussy Mary—and her courage.

Kim Michele Richardson lives and writes in Kentucky. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are, by Phil Joel

 

redwoods and whales
Image belongs to Emanate Books/Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are
Author: Phil Joel
Genre:  Spiritual, Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

Redwoods and Whales offers a warning and a promise:

The warning: Don’t become that beached whale, trying to live in a foreign environment.

The promise: You will find freedom when your identity is centered under the safety of the Divine.

Life is tough. Depression, addiction, suicide, violence…they’re all commonplace in our society, and they make it hard to know where to turn. Despite the “connectedness” of our social media word, many people feel alone and adrift. But we have a choice:  we can choose to seek God and His true nature, and we can choose to live healthy, purpose-filled lives.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book, but Redwoods and Whales brought inspiration and hope while acknowledging the sometimes-bleak world around us. The casual tone combined with the chatting-with-a-friend feel of the book makes it easier to soak in the deep message in this book.

Phil Joel is a musician and an artist. Redwoods and Whales:  Becoming Who You Actually Are is his debut book.

(Galley courtesy of Emanate Books/Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #14

Not only did I get in three writing days this week—a bit over my goal of 2,250 words—but I also finished up two lessons in HTWAN! So I hit both goals for the week!

Writing-wise, I’m still wandering, as I have only a bare idea of plot, but my goal for this week—in addition to word count—is to outline five scenes (sentence per scene), so I have some idea where I’m going. I know from experience that I wander when I don’t outline, so it’s time to correct that.

Words. No wandering.

 

The Best Books I read in March (2019)

I read 18 books in March, bringing my total for the year to 50. Only 125 more to go to reach my Goodreads goal of 175! (Honestly…I’m “secretly” hoping to hit 200, but finishing grad school is taking up a lot of time, so it may not happen.)

The best books I read in March include a historical, biblical fiction, and one book I’m really mad I didn’t read when it first caught my eye months ago!

the things we cannot say

The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer.  I’m just going to say it:  this book made me ugly cry. This story is set in 2019—when Alice is overwhelmed with caring for her autistic son while her grandmother is dying—and 1942 Poland, where Alina gets engaged to Tomasz just before the war comes to Poland. This is a powerful, emotional story.

of fire and lions

Of Fire and Lions, by Mesu Andrews.  This is the tale of Daniel—as in Daniel and the lions’ den—and the Israelites’ 70 years in exile from the Promised Land. It’s also the tale of Belili, another of the Jewish captives and her life in Babylon. This book, while fiction, brought so much to life for me from the biblical stories, and I was absolutely captivated! I can’t wait to read more of Mesu Andrews’ books.

where the crawdads sing

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. This book…I heard about it for months before I finally read it—and I cannot believe I waited! Locals call Kya the “March Girl,” but she’s so much more than that. Abandoned as a child, she’s grown up alone in the North Carolina marsh, surrounded by the wildlife she loves. When town golden boy Chase Andrews is found dead, everyone says the Marsh Girl did it, but is sensitive Kya really capable of such violence—no matter what the town thinks? The ending to this book blew me away.

Blog Tour for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Author Interview

WickedSaints_BlogTourBanner_AFTER 4.2

Today I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan, which hits stores today! I have a quick interview with the author, then a review of Wicked Saints, which you should definitely go read if you enjoy dark, atmospheric books with complex mythology and magic systems.

Emily A. Duncan
Emily A. Duncan

Author Interview

Q: Tell me a little bit about Wicked Saints.

A:  Tired monastery girl who can talk to the gods! Anxious morally dubious blood mage boy! Exhausted traumatized prince! An assassination plan! A holy war! Eldritch gods! Lots and lots of blood!

Q: Where did your inspiration come for writing Wicked Saints?

A:  Video games and metal music! Specifically, Skyrim in regards to the video games, but it was also fueled by my deep love for metal.

Q:  What is your absolute favorite, read over-and-over again, book?

A:  I mean, I’m very vocal about how much I love the Grisha trilogy, but to answer this slightly differently, the book I’ve reread the most is Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.

Wicked Saints_Cover FINAL
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Wicked Saints
Author:   Emily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Nadya is a cleric who can commune with all the gods—unheard of—living in a remote monastery. Kalyazin has been at war with Tranavia for a long time, but the war has never touched the monastery. Until it does, in the form of Tranavian soldiers led by Serefin, High Prince and blood mage. As her friends die around her, Nadya escapes into the wilderness.

She meets Malachiasz, a defector with dark secrets that Nadya isn’t sure she can trust. But Nadya’s powers may be the only thing standing in the way of destruction, so she heads to the seat of Tranavian power, desperate to find a way to stop it. Serefin, used to drinking and fighting, has been called home by his father, but Serefin finds the king in the midst of a horrifying scheme to gain immortality and ultimate power.

Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz will have to trust each other if they have any hope of stopping the coming darkness.

Wicked Saints is dark and atmospheric, with a creepy and cold setting reminiscent of Russia. The magic systems are dark and bloody, and there aren’t a lot of happy feelings in this book. I was fascinated from the first page, although I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you’re depressed at the time. Treachery, hatred, lies, deceit…all run through the pages of this novel like blood, until you can’t see what’s coming next.

Emily A. Duncan is a youth services librarian. Wicked Saints is her new novel, the first in the Something Dark and Holy series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer

the things we cannot say
Image belongs to Graydon House.

Title:  The Things We Cannot Say
Author:  Kelly Rimmer
Genre:  Fiction, historical
Rating:  5 out of 5

Alice never expected to be a stay-at-home mom, but 7-year-old Eddie is on the autism spectrum and nonverbal, and needs all the care Alice can give him, while 10-year-old Callie is smart enough to cause herself problems. So, Alice’s world revolves around her kids and her husband, until her beloved grandmother falls ill, and asks Alice to find those she left behind in Poland during WWII. Her only clues are a faded photo of a young man, a tiny leather shoe, and a letter.

In 1940s Poland, Alina is young and in love, and gets engaged to Tomasz just before he goes away to college. She can’t wait to start their future together. Then the Nazis arrive, and her whole world changes to hunger, fear, and a desperate longing for Tomasz. She knows he’ll keep his promise to return to her, but so many obstacles stand in the way, and the darkness around them may sweep them under if anyone finds out their secrets.

This book. This book. Fantastically well-written, I found myself drawn into both timelines effortlessly, caring about both Alice and Alina and their happiness. The horrors of war are captured in small bits, enough to paint the picture, but not so much that the reader can’t move past it. I cried at the end, but this story is filled with so much hope and love. A wonderful read!

Kelly Rimmer is a USA Today bestselling author. The Things We Cannot Say is her newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Graydon House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Of Fire and Lions, by Mesu Andrews

of fire and lions
Image belongs to WaterBrook.

Title:  Of Fire and Lions
Author:  Mesu Andrews
Genre:  Christian fiction, historical
Rating:  5 out of 5

Abigail is just a girl when the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem—and the temple. Abigail is taken captive and finds herself serving four Hebrew boys destined to become powerful princes in Babylon, including the kind and caring Daniel. Abigail falls in love with Daniel, but the king’s machinations keep them apart, and soon Abigail finds herself lost in another city, with nowhere to turn.

Seventy years later, Daniel and Abigail have been married for years and have children and grandchildren when Daniel is once again called to serve the new king. Abigail’s family is full of anger and malice, but she’s kept secrets about her early years, secrets that might tear Daniel from her for good, and secrets that might have a chance of mending the rift in her family. But she will have to overcome her fear with faith if she’s ever to know true fulfillment.

Of Fire and Lions is a richly imagined tale that brings Biblical stories to life. Daniel and the lions’ dent. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. The exile of the Hebrews. These things come to mesmerizing life on the page. And Abigail—Belili—and Daniel come to life as well:  their struggles, their trials, and their faith drawing the reader in. This is an exceptionally detailed and vivid re-telling of some familiar Bible tales, but with so much life added to the story.

Mesu Andrews writes biblical fiction. Of Fire and Lions is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Cover Reveal for “Whispers of Shadow and Flame” by L. Penelope

Look at this beautiful cover! I loved the first book in this series, and the follow-up novella that just came out. I can’t wait to read this!

Today we have the cover reveal tour for book 2 in L. Penelope’s Earthsinger Chronicles, Whispers of Shadow & Flame. 

The first book in the series, Song of Blood & Stone was named one of TIME Magazine’s top 10 fantasy books of 2018. Check out the cover reveal and giveaway below!

Title: Whispers of Shadow & Flame (Earthsinger Chronicles, Book 2)
Author: L. Penelope
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Fantasy

WhispersofShadowandFlame-PB

Book Description:
The cursed will face the gods. They have nothing to lose.

“A master class in fantasy world-building.” – TIME Magazine on Song of Blood & Stone

The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms.

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms.

Pre-order the paperback today!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Shadow-Flame-Earthsinger-Penelope/dp/125014809X

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/whispers-of-shadow-flame-l-penelope/1130016254?ean=9781250148094

BAM: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Whispers-Shadow-Flame/L-Penelope/9781250148094?id=7469620796685

 

Book Review: Warrior of the Wild, by Tricia Levenseller

wow
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends.

Title:  Warrior of the Wild
Author:  Tricia Levenseller
Genre:  Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rasmira is her father’s heir and has trained her whole life to be a warrior. She’s nothing like all her sisters, and her mother hates her, so she spends her days honing her skills. To become a warrior, she must pass a trial in front of the entire village. When an unthinkable betrayal results in her failing the trial, the only way to redeem herself is to go into the wild and kill the god that has plagued her village for generations.

In the wild she meets Iric and Soren, banished from their own village for failing their trials; Iric because he was never meant to be a warrior and Soren so he could protect Iric. Rasmira has never trusted anyone in her life—except her betrayer and look how that turned out—so she tries to avoid the two, but soon finds herself working with them as all three seek to accomplish their impossible tasks.

But killing a god is no laughing matter, and Rasmira will need every trick at her disposal if she’s to win.

This was an excellent read! Rasmira was a character I connected with immediately, and I took her betrayal so personally. She’s tough and doesn’t want to trust anyone, but Iric and Soren slowly worm their way past her defenses. I loved the character growth of all three and enjoyed watching their different relationships mature and shift.

Tricia Levenseller is from Oregon. Warrior of the Wild is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #6

Rough week at work, so I planned to do no writing until the weekend. I started yesterday morning with a 10-minute session—I find that if I try to write for longer than that, my brain wanders, but I can focus for 10 minutes—re-doing the first scene of my story (since my hard drive died the week before last, taking everything with it.

I’ve had an online backup program, Mozy, for years, but I didn’t realize it stopped working 6 or 8 months ago. My file download took two days to finish, but when it did finish yesterday morning, there was the first 3k of my story draft!

Do I wish it had been more? Absolutely. Will I be better about keeping an eye on the program to make sure it keeps working? You better believe it! But, it’s better than nothing.

I only recently wrote the other 5k words, so it’s pretty fresh in my mind. My goal is to get back to where I was over the next two weeks, and to work through Lessons 7 and 8 of HTWAN. I did get another 500 or so words added on to my recovered file, so there’s that.

Happy writing!