Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Vermilion Riddle by Dana Li

About the Book

Book: The Vermilion Riddle

Author: Dana Li

Genre: Fantasy

Release date: March 1, 2022

“To enter Faerie’s blessed demesne
four secrets must be found:
the land unbound by time and space
opens only to the one who knows
the Light, the Song, and Mortal Gate.”

In the sheltered town of Carmel, women do not have a future outside of a good marriage. That future is threatened when Leah Edwards’ father gambles away the family’s livelihood and estate. She and her sisters must hurry to find husbands. Then August Fox, a Guardian from Cariath, comes to town and purchases a supposedly haunted manor. Charged to keep the peace between mortals and Faerie, the Guardians are the stuff of legend. After he stuns her with a marriage proposal, Leah reluctantly journeys to Cariath, discovering there is more to August and the legends than she guessed.

Nimrod and his Oath-breakers betrayed the Guardians, seeking to solve an ancient riddle that would unlock the Faerie realm. Not all his followers share his desire for conquest. Benedict Fox, his second-in-command, has different motives. But as he continues fulfilling Nimrod’s plan, Benedict hurtles towards a choice between saving his family and settling a personal vendetta.

For Leah, August, and their allies, it is a race against time to solve the ancient riddle before the Oath-breakers, and reunite the Guardians to save the mortal realm. The war is never really over, and this time, the battle lines cut through blood ties and brotherhood.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review:

I wasn't expecting this to be a type of re-write of Pride and Prejudice, but it is, and it's well done too. It's rather Victorian or an age gone by, but it's also kind of Sci-Fi and defiantly fantasy. It has a good bit of suspense, but the ending wasn't exactly what I'd hoped for. That's probably just following true to the afore mentioned novel, as that ending wasn't all I'd hope for either. There is romance, and adventure. Faith has a reasonable role in this story as well, so there's that aspect as well as the arranged marriage issues. I did pretty good with the charters and appreciated the suspense parts. 

4 Stars 

About the Author

Dana Li is a software product manager by day, and a novelist by night. She holds an MS in management science and engineering from Stanford University and a BS in computer science from USC, but she’s always been better at writing stories than code. Her writing misadventures began with a dozen now-deleted Star Wars fanfiction tales. She loves good fantasy/sci-fi, classy cuisines, and roller coasters (but not all at once). Dana currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and The Vermilion Riddle is her first novel.

More from Dana

Two of my favorite fiction authors are J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen. Besides both being British, their works are worlds apart, literally – one wrote epic, sprawling stories of the battle between good and evil, while the other wrote of small town families, romance, and culture in the Regency era. If Tolkien’s heroes failed, death and darkness would sweep across the land. If Austen’s heroes failed, a lady would be single at thirty. (The horror!)

As different as they are, I had a desire to blend the best of both genres. I didn’t think it’d be the most marketable book, but then, I also thought no one else would write this. That concept sparked the genesis of The Vermilion Riddle. I wanted an epic fantasy that was also character-driven and intimate. I love how Austen deftly explored familial and romantic relationships in the framework of her society, and I was curious to see how that would unfold in the context of a traditional fantasy. I shamelessly drew influence from the Regency era for parts of my story’s culture, simply because it’s got that quaint, cozy vibe, stored inside a broad, sweeping world.

This is a snippet of what I wrote in my original query letter for The Vermilion Riddle: 

“While the novel evokes elements of classic fantasy—quests, duels, and the battle of good versus evil—it thrives on character exploration. The plot hums to the beat of a cosmic conflict and climax, though the struggles within a family—between fathers and sons, brothers by blood (and not), husband and wife—forms its core melody.”

When it came to the characters and relationships in the story, three questions framed my writing.

What makes a strong, relatable, and feminine heroine?

What happens to brothers who are pitted against each other ideologically?

What does a love story that happens after marriage look like?

I did not know, concretely, the answer to any of these when I began, and Riddle was going to be my way of exploring them. In retrospect, I was in over my head. I’m not sure if I ever found totally satisfactory answers, but as I worked on the novel over the years, I felt the story mature quietly alongside of me. There were nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from life and other people that made their way into the story. There were also surprising insights that emerged from the characters as I was writing.

In the end, I wanted to write characters who, though born into another world, were achingly human. Though they chase ancient secrets and face the fury of the faerie-kind, they aren’t wrapped in an air of mythology that makes them feel far removed from us. They are the sort of people who could be legends – but a legend is usually formed in retrospect. They are like Merry and Pippin, hobbits who felt like useless baggage for much of their journey before they were hailed as heroes.

That’s what I strove for, at least – a story that’s epic yet intimate, that’s far-flung and yet close to home.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 20

Blogging with Carol, September 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 21

Inklings and notions, September 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

deb’s Book Review, September 24

Holly’s Book Corner, September 24

Christina’s Corner, September 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 26

Rebecca Tews, September 27

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 29

For Him and My Family, September 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 1

Pause for Tales, October 2

Artistic Nobody, October 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of The Vermilion Riddle (e-book for those outside the US)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21816/the-vermilion-riddle-celebration-tour-giveway


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Lost in the System by Nancy Jo Wilson

 

About the Book

Book: Lost in the System

Author: Nancy Jo Wilson

Genre: Christian Science Fiction

Release date: September 7, 2021

Jaded, 24th century grifter Smullian O’Toole has been sentenced to 1000 days of Life Modification Therapy. All is well until the glitch.

Smullian enjoys serving his prison term. Other than the daily upchucking, Life Modification Therapy is the sweetest sentence 24th century Earth offers. The system biotransposes his essence into a different 21st century person daily, whereas his body stays in the future. The therapy rehabilitates felons by teaching them the value of honest labor. On day 777, Smullian hears a disembodied voice utter, “Father to the Fatherless.” Thus, begins the mother of all system glitches that shatters Life Mod rules and regulations.

Instead of following the usual program, the system thrusts Smullian into the case of David Hawthorne, a missing teenaged orphan. The case cuts a little too close to home for the grifter, who has been on his own since he was twelve. As Smullian bounces from host to host, he realizes the glitch shows purpose and design. Someone, maybe the Father to the Fatherless, controls the situation, not the technicians at Life Mod. This someone peels back the façade Smullian has placed between himself and the world. Against his will, he begins to care about the kid and his older sister, Lydia. Each new host forces him to confront his own inner demons—as well as pointing him to David.

What initially seems the clear-cut case of a runaway—grows more ominous with every clue. Smullian knows he’s not the hero type. But he’s all David has.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review: 

The old saying, walk a mile in someone else's shoes, that would be easy for this story! Smullian wasn't having it too bad in his 1,000 day sentance for his crimes. He's living someone else's life, in the 21st century instead of the 24th. Overall, he's rather happy and cozy.  Suddenly = boom! On day 777 there's a massive change. The voice that says; Father to the Fatherless has changed his world. Now he's in someone else life and now he's starting to care and nothing, nothing at all is the same. He's hopping from host to host and it's changing him. What will Smullian become when he's done hopping from life to life? His facade is cracking and his emotions are breaking and is there really a God who cares? Is that who's voice he heard? Is he dead or alive, or trapped host jumping forever? 

This book tackled so many topics and so many lives. I loved how the author did this. It's a fantastic Sci-Fi concept and I love it in Christian fiction. I can tell you this, there is One who will never let us be totally lost in the system. 

5 Stars 

About the Author

Nancy Jo Wilson wrote her first short story in second grade and continued writing throughout childhood. In high school, she wrote for the teen section of the local newspaper and received a writing scholarship from the state of Tennessee. After high school, she moved on to the college of her dreams—Florida State University. The dean who spoke at the college orientation encouraged students to major in what challenged them, not what came easily. So, she pursued science, majoring in Biology Education, as well as Theater electives. She came to regret the decision, because her first love was always the written word.

She returned to writing in her mid-thirties. Through mystery shopping reviews and online writing challenges, she sharpened her skills. Many times, she earned the distinction of editor’s choice on Faithwriters.com. She published a few articles, but mainly focused on her blog, six5mom.com. She wrote her first book Escape the Amoz, for her oldest son and published it through Kindle Direct. It won second place for science fiction in the 2009 Do it Write! competition. Lost in the System, her current book hit stores in fall 2021.

Now, she balances ministry, writing, and homeschooling. A Jacksonville, FL native, Nancy currently resides in Thomaston, GA with her husband, younger son, dog, and three cats.

 

More from Nancy

Street signs often inspire my character names. Not kidding. Drive through downtown Jacksonville, and you’ll see many of the names from my first novel spelled out on those green rectangles. When I drove past Smullian Trail, a handsome, charming, fast-talking character popped into my head. I immediately thought, “He’s mischievous.” 

Before long, I wondered what would happen if Smullian, who has no knowledge of Christianity, meets the holy God. What obstacles would Smullian have to overcome? How do you explain to someone who views love as a transaction that God is love? Lost in the System tackles the tough questions unbelievers ask about Christianity but wraps the heavy content in a fuzzy blanket of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor. Science fiction may be the core of this story, but mystery, romance, and redemption fill it out. 

 I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 7

Inklings and notions, September 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 9 (Author Interview)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 11

Blossoms and Blessings, September 12 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, September 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 14

A Baker’s Perspective, September 15 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, September 16

Through the Fire Blogs, September 17 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 18

Guild Master, September 19 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, September 19

Blogging With Carol, September 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Nancy is giving away the grand prize package of $50 Visa gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21599/lost-in-the-system-celebration-tour-giveaway


Monday, September 19, 2022

Mabel Goes to the Dogs by Susan Kimmel Wright

 

About the Book

Book: Mabel Goes to the Dogs

Author: Susan Kimmel Wright

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Release date: June 5, 2022

Mabel plans to bring the thrills of volunteering to the masses—if she doesn’t go to the dogs first.

When Mabel finds herself sharing a thicket with a dead body while volunteering with canine search-&-rescue, her life has clearly—once again—gone to the dogs!

After her losing her job at age forty-nine, Mabel thought she’d turned things around. Now she’s doing good by volunteering, and surely, she’ll soon be a successful author, writing about her experiences. After solving two notorious decades-old cold cases while serving as a historical society volunteer, she’s already getting invitations to appear on TV.

Her new assignment couldn’t be simpler. All she has to do is hide in the woods and let Millie the search dog practice finding her. But to her horror, Millie finds more than Mabel—there’s a dead body hiding in the same patch of brush. To make things worse, Mabel’s maybe-boyfriend, suspended PI John Bigelow, has a dark history with the victim.

While struggling with maid-of-honor duties for best friend Lisa, a string of disasters created by handyman Acey, and a disagreeable new neighbor, can Mabel solve another murder in time to save John’s detective license—if not his neck?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review:

LIFE, and that all at once is happening to Mabel Brown. Wow, can I relate! What should have been easy, isn't, when the search and rescue dog finds a body, instead of finding her. Nothing is every just simple, nope, it's just not. So this sends her life off in new directions that she hadn't planned for right then. This is my first book in this series and first book by this author. I defiantly want more! It's clean, with lots of plot movement, suspense and mystery. The faith and character issues are not being so hard on yourself, not letting people define what you think of yourself and relying on God. 

5 Stars and I want more! 

About the Author

Susan Kimmel Wright is a child of the Appalachian Mountains. A former lawyer, Susan has published three children’s mystery novels and is a prolific contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Mabel Goes to the Dogs, Book Two in Mysteries of Medicine Spring, her first cozy mystery series for adult readers, is now available from Mountain Brook Ink. Susan shares an 1875 farmhouse in southwestern PA with her husband, several dogs and cats, and an allegedly excessive stockpile of coffee and tea mugs.

More from Susan

A bit about Mabel and how she got herself into this situation…

One of the great joys of writing this series has been the wonderful reaction my main character Mabel has gotten from so many readers. Typical comments are: “I love how quirky and imperfect Mabel is…Mabel is a fun character with a big heart who has the best of intentions.” (I also hear “hilarious” a lot… 😉)

Mabel is fifty, and her entire life has just unceremoniously changed. For the past twenty-three years, she’s had a job as a low-level attorney in a law firm. Boring, yes, but every day, she knew where she was going, what she was doing, and when and how much she was going to get paid. But suddenly, she gets the ax, and her old life is over. Blessed with a severance package from her former employer, as well as an inheritance from her grandma (also named Mabel) that includes a cluttered Victorian house in the town of Medicine Spring, Mabel resolves to reinvent herself. She will do good by volunteering while building a glamorous new career as a writer.

Many readers have told me they see themselves in Mabel. As one reviewer said, “She’s a bundle of insecurities ironclad in over self-confidence and I can relate to that!” And I guess I do too!  While Mabel is certainly a product of my imagination, she also reflects a bit of me. I left my job as a lawyer after about twenty years too (though I didn’t “get the ax!). I also live in a somewhat ramshackle Victorian farmhouse with a bunch of animals, and I see many of Mabel’s insecurities in myself. (Not to mention Mabel’s love of food—writing about Mabel’s diet gives me the opportunity to indulge in all the yummy things I try to limit in real life!)

Of course, nothing goes according to Mabel’s master plan. Mabel knows little about writing, her new old house is stuffed to the rafters with her grandma’s accumulations and comes with a hostile neighbor bent on continuing a decades’ old feud, and her first volunteer endeavor comes complete with a dead body. On the plus side, Mabel and her cat Koi acquire a new family member—Grandma Mabel’s big dog Barnacle, and Mabel seems also to have acquired a possible boyfriend, suspended PI John Bigelow.

By the time we run into Mabel in Mabel Goes to the Dogs, she has stumbled through two homicide investigations and also discovered the solution to an eighty-year-old cold case—the ax murder of a father and son in a neighboring historic house. This has gotten her an invitation to appear on a local morning TV show—and little else. Then Mabel undertakes a new volunteer assignment, helping train search-and-rescue dogs. The discovery of yet another body makes her wonder if she’s somehow bringing this on herself. Boyfriend John assures her, “You’re not causing dead bodies with the power of your mind, you goof.” Mabel isn’t so sure. Nobody else seems to be having this problem.

At least, life is now far from boring in the village of Medicine Spring…

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 8

Lily’s Book Reviews, September 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 9

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 10

Inklings and notions, September 11

Texas Book-aholic, September 12

Pause for Tales, September 13

deb’s Book Review, September 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 15

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 17

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 18

Blogging With Carol, September 19

For Him and My Family, September 20

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 21 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, September 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Susan is giving away the grand prize package of $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Mabel Goes to the Dogs!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2159b/mabel-goes-to-the-dogs-celebration-tour-giveaway


Friday, September 16, 2022

Freerunner by Kathy Cassel

About the Book

Book: Freerunner

Author: Kathy Cassel

Genre: YA

Release date: March, 2022

Set against the backdrop of the sport of freerunning, Kia must decide whether she will continue running or face her past abuser in order to save another child.

Night is Kia’s favorite time, when she freeruns to outdistance the memories of abuse she suffered as a young child. But when former reality television star Terrence Jones arrives at their school as the new head track coach, things begin to change in unpredictable ways. Kia tries out for the team to fit in, but just as she’s gaining a new sense of normal, her abuser steps back into her life. Not only that, but being on the track team causes even more turmoil. Why does the assistant coach, Cassandra Clark, dislike Terrence Jones so much, and even more troubling, why does Coach Clark dislike her so much? As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, Kia realizes she has to choose between running from her past or saving a child from the same sort of abuse she suffered. But will she have the courage to do so?

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review: 

Running, I've never been good at it, but Kia is a crucial part of her life. Kia is fifteen and dealing with having been sexually abused as a child. Many, many women have gone through that, and yes men too. I was excited to see how this author would tell us this story since this book has awards. How did she do? I'd say she took it and ran with it, in every good way. Yes, there's so much bad to this kind of issue, but it needs to be talked about. Our kids need to know and people need to heal. It was distressing the abuser was a family member, but that's often the case. Kia is determined to protect the other girls from her abuser. Watching her grow, and start to heal, and reading how this author unfolded this story let me know why it won awards. For those of us who have had abuse, this could trigger some, but more so, you might find hope and healing because God never fails. 

4 Stars 


About the Author

Kathy Cassel is author of more a dozen fiction and non-fiction titles for preteens and teens, including 2021 Selah Award finalist Freerunnerand the iParenting award winner Christian Girls Guide series. Kathy has lived on three different continents with her USAF husband, has eight children, five adopted from Haiti and the United States, and six grandchildren. To better relate to her characters, she enjoys learning their skills such as whitewater rafting, scuba diving, and riding a motorcycle, but draws the line at sky diving.

 

More from Kathy

For many years I wrote devotion books for preteens and early teens. I tried to make the devotions both fun and interesting. I wanted preteens and early teens to see that the Bible is relevant to them today. But I realized that the readers I most wanted to reach weren’t likely to pick up the Bible or a daily devotion book. But they might read a story. These are the teens who are hurting inside. Those who have been abused, neglected, bullied, abandoned, or who  face challenges. Those who may have lost hope and who need healing. Those who need to realize that God still has a plan for them no matter what has happened.

 

So I turned to writing faith-based, issue-based young adult books. It hasn’t been easy. There are a multitude of issue based books in the general market, but these can be graphic and offer little hope or healing, yet they are snatched off the shelves and are some of the most popular books. Mine are not graphic and mention God throughout the book. They are not likely to reach library shelves. So the challenge is to get them into the hands of the readers who most need them.

Freeerunner is about a 15-year-old girl who is sexually molested/abused (I never give details so readers can interpret what happened based on their own knowledge and experiences) by a family member when she is only six. She doesn’t get help. No one talks about it. So when the abuser walks back into her life now that she’s 15, she has a lot of unresolved feelings. For adults reading this book, the story may trigger negative feelings or bring up a painful past. But don’t let that turn you away from the book because it may be a powerful resource for those experiencing what Kia did. For teens, the book gives them a character they can relate to. The story lets them know they are not alone and don’t need to suffer in isolation. Like Kia they may find the courage to finally speak out and get help. And they may come to realize that God has an amazing plan for them no matter their past.

So for some the book may simply be an entertaining sports story, while for others it can be a springboard to talk about their own problems. I am hoping this book will become a resource for parents, counselors, pastors, youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, and librarians to share with teen readers.

And above all, I hope the story is a source of hope and healing to those who need it.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 4

Through the Fire Blogs, September 5 (Author Interview)

Naked and Unashamed, September 6

For Him and My Family, September 7

Splashes of Joy, September 8 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 9

Inklings and notions, September 10

Spoken from the Heart, September 11 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, September 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 12

Vicky Sluiter, September 13 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 15

Blogging With Carol, September 16

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Books-A-Million Gift Card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21366/freerunner-celebration-tour-giveaway