Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

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When Life Seemed Its Worst, Gresham Awaited
Julia Hollis' opulent life in Victorian London crashes to pieces when her husband passes away. Worse, she is told by his bankers that he gambled away their fortune. Now, the family's hope rests on The Larkspur, an old abandoned coaching inn in the quaint village of Gresham.
Driven by dread and her desire to provide for her children, Julia decides to turn the dilapidated inn into a lodging house. But can she--who was accustomed to servants attending to every need--do what needs to be done and cope when boarders begin arriving? And then an eligible new vicar moves into town...



Overall Impression
If you are looking for a sweet and wholesome Historical Romance, The Widow of Larkspur Inn  is for you. I had seen this quite awhile ago and was instantly attracted to the cover. As I skimming through my Kindle library, searching desperately for a new book to read and this one popped up. I started in with high expectations that were not disappointed. 
The overall feeling to this book was warm and homey. Gresham was delightfully portrayed, I could see the very streets with a wonderful clarity as I read the book. I love it when books have strong settings, ones where you can see the story playing out in your mind. So was The Widow of Larkspur Lane.  
The Widow of Larkspur Lane is a great novel for single readers and families alike. I would recommend it strongly to reader who are looking for, or fine with a somewhat slower story.
Characters
I really enjoyed all the characters in this book. Julia, in particular, was refreshing. In lots of books the heroines bounce from one end of the spectrum to the other. Either they are perfect or they can't boil water without messing it up. Julia was a breath of fresh air! She was totally out of her element in Gresham but that didn't stop her. She worked hard, and learned a lot. She had children to provide for and nothing was getting in her way. Julia had an air of elegance and graciousness to her that was lovely. She was very kind, very tactful, and properly discreet. I loved this character! 
Julia's children, Philip, Aleda, and Grace were well done.Philip tried hard to be the man about the house and was very sweet. Aleda, to be honest, wasn't really my favorite. She was rather sharp and annoying. Grace was a dear! She was so sweet definitely my favorite of the two girls. 
Fiona O'Shea, Julia's maid/housekeeper/best friend. Fiona was so sweet. Her Irish brogue, not to mention her pluck, spiced the book up nicely. She was so dutiful and God-honoring without being annoyingly perfect. I loved her character and I was so glad she got a happy ending! 
There were a lot of lodgers, all of whom were unique personalities. But as there are so many I will only touch on my favorite, Mr. Clay. Ambrose Clay was such a dear man. He was always kind and considerate even through his depression. He was one of my very favorite characters. 
The other supporting main and side characters were good. They added to the story beautifully. My hat's off to  Mrs. Blackwell! Her characters were superb. 
Plot
The plot of The Widow of Larkspur Inn was very enjoyable. The story was definitely a slower pace than most books I read, this wasn't bad however.
My only critiques on the story line and pace was the end. This, I felt, was not wholly satisfying. Julia's romance literally took place in like the last 3% of the book. Now to be honest, Fiona's romance was more important to me than Julia's, but I would have preferred more time with Julia's romance. I don't even think the way that her romance was laid out was bad, just too short. The ending was abbreviated in my opinion, I would have been happy for another chapter or two.  
Other than the above mentioned I felt that the plot and story were organized well. It flowed well and had good passage of time. The characters had time to progress in their character arcs. This book was relaxing and fun to read! 
Warnings:
Language/Profanity: None
Violence/Gore/Frightening Scenes: None
Sex/Nudity: There is one comment that is suggestive of immoral behavior. Not a big deal for older readers, and families could easily skip. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Red Rain Blog Tour: Author Interview and Excerpt


Good morning, Ladies and Gents! Welcome aboard Flight 74 heading for the Red Planet, Mars. Please strap on your seat belts because this promises to be one wild ride. We've got free books galore, three fun giveaways, author interviews, and more. Let's get this adventure started!

 About the Book


17-year-old Philadelphia has been imprisoned most of her life because of her Christian beliefs. When her father is sent to Mars against his will to work on a mysterious science project and a benevolent official allows her to accompany him, Philadelphia knows she must keep her head down or be sent back to prison on Earth. But when she stumbles into the wrong hallway and accidentally learns too much, Philadelphia is faced with a question she doesn’t want to answer: the choice between returning to Earth—or destroying it.

Free Offer


Aubrey is such a generous gal. She's not only offering Red Rain for free this week, but if you sign up for her newsletter, you can also get the prequel short story for free! What are you waiting for?



Hey all! Today, Aubrey Hansen, author of Red Rain is joining me for an interview! 

Welcome, Aubrey! Tell us a little about yourself!
Hi gang! My name is Aubrey Hansen, and I’m a twenty-something, caffeine-fueled, pink-haired writer. I’d like to say I spend most of my time writing, but in reality I spend most of my time with my publishing company, Penoaks Publishing, and only manage to squeeze time for my own projects just barely. I’m also a screenwriter, producer, and dog trainer. Basically, if I’m not writing, assume I’m working with animals. I’ve got six of them myself—plus a husband. We live in the Kansas City area.


When did you first know you wanted to become an author? Was there a defining moment?

I’ve always been “making up stories” in my head and either reliving them in daydreams or acting them out with whatever toys my brother and I currently had dumped out on the living room floor. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I realized you could write these dreams down and call them a “book.” I was a member of the LEGO message boards at the time (because LEGO!) and there was a very popular fanfiction thread. I asked “Why not?” and decided to try my hand at it. Everyone loved it and responded with overwhelming praise. It was their encouragement that inspired me to keep writing, and that was the moment I realized I was an author.

(Gabriellyn) That's awesome!  I had started a fan-fic on LEGO at one point too!


Have you always loved to tell stories? 

Yes! You should have heard the elaborate adventures my brother and I came up with using LEGO, Hotwheels, Lincoln Logs... I also got a lot of childhood enjoyment out of “rewriting” the books and movies I’d read/watched recently; I would daydream about continuing adventures or alternate endings, usually involving myself jumping into the fantasy world!


(Gabriellyn) Hah! I myself have added onto stories many many times, or re-worked certain parts, usually with about 2x the drama and selfless heroism! ;) 

What made you choose to write Science Fiction? Was it a book, a TV show, a movie?

I’ve always loved the glitter and wonder of sci-fi. My first fanfiction was sci-fi, so I guess that sealed my fate!


When did the idea of Red Rain first begin to formulate? 

It wasn’t that long after I realized I could write that I came up with the idea for Red Rain. I dreamed up the first scene—which to this day has remained almost exactly like I imagined it—while observing a “bus barn” while at the park. It took awhile for me to connect that first scene with the rest of the plot, however.


(Gabriellyn) That's great, most scenes I imagine end up being sacrificed on the altars of practicality and story flow. 

What led you to choose the name, Philadelphia? 

Several of the characters in Red Rain are named after the seven churches in Revelation. Their character arcs are loosely based off of the implied sins and strengths of the churches, too.


(Gabriellyn) Well, now I know I need to take a peek into Revelation before reading Red Rain!

If you could meet one of the characters in Red Rain who would it be? 

Ephesus... <3 But I’m married and he’s claimed (or is he?), so I guess there’s no point in that...


Who do you think you are most like in Red Rain?

Philadelphia is a reflection of my younger self, even though I never intended her to be. But I’ve come to realize that pieces of myself will always reincarnate in my characters whether I want them to or not.

(Gabriellyn) Well, I believe that the most connectable characters are the ones with a bit of their creator in them! 


What do you do when you are facing writers block? Eat pudding, take a walk, BBC dramas? What gets your brain moving again?

All of those things sound great! But watching movies, especially in the theater, does the trick. There’s something about the emotional and epic theater experience that reminds me, One day it will be your name in the credits.


(Gabriellyn) Yes! Seeing a movie in the theater is quite a different and awesome experience. 

Where do you like to write? Coffee shop, bedroom, desk?  What is your ideal spot to work? 

I do my best writing at my desk in my office, with appropriate music playing. Minimal distractions is always the key to my success! Coffee shops are great for people-watching and gathering inspiration, but not for focusing.

(Gabriellyn) Everything is more epic with a soundtrack! ;) 


What's next for you? 
Besides the sequel to Red Rain, I will have a little Christmas present for my readers out in time for this holiday season—a collection of Christmas-themed short stories featuring the characters from Peter’s Angel. I’m also working on a homemade frappe recipe book to be released this summer, and will be filming my first feature film in October.

(Gabriellyn) That is so great! You must be so excited! 

Well, alas, that's all the questions I had today! But thank you so much for joining me, Aubrey, I have had a blast! Good luck with writing and filming! God bless! 


Now for a sneak peek of Red Rain!

Dr. Nic turned to me again, voice strangely calm. “I expect you will refrain from any further snooping. You have been far too inquisitive for having been here less than 48 hours.”

At first I couldn’t think of anything to say. My breath rose in my throat, and my volume rose with it. “I was just asking about my brother! He’s my brother! And you took him away!”

“I took him away?” His mustache twitched.

“You’re the one that requested him, weren’t you? You didn’t give him a choice! You didn’t give my father a choice, either.” I took two more steps backwards.

“No,” he said without regret. “I’m also the one that called for you.”

I froze.

“The commander didn’t want to let you come. Said it was against ‘regulations.’ But I didn’t think it was right to leave a young girl in the hands of strangers. Your brother was an adult,” he cut off my excuses before I could think them, “you’re a minor. And you have nobody. I didn’t think that was right.”

I backed away. He advanced and narrowed the gap. “If you don’t want to be here, I could… send you back to Earth.” The threat was calm, flat like a sheet of razor-sharp ice.

I sucked in several gasps. “I’m… sorry. I’m sorry.”

He was smiling again, but it wasn’t an encouraging smile. I didn’t feel like he was forgiving me for my disrespectfulness—I felt like he was accepting my surrender.

“It’s all right,” he said, and he sounded reasonably truthful about it. “Just stay out of my way.” His smile deepened, eyes glittering. “Just keep your head down, Philadelphia, and no one will know the difference.”

I turned and ran for the dorms.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Soapboxes

We all have talents, we all have things that we are better at than others; and subsequently, others have things that they can do better than we can. I believe that God gives us these talents, I also believe we have a choice to make; we can either find a soapbox to stand and use these talents to inspire, or we can squander them.

Within these talents lie the ability to touch peoples hearts and souls, to ask of them questions that could ultimately change their lives, opinions, and beliefs. True, most of the time the talents we have are raw, un-polished, rough. But that isn't any reason not to share our abilities even though they may be young. It would have been easier for me not to write this post, I am tempted to believe that I won't reach anyone. And you know what? I may never find out if I did, but at least I have taken up my soapbox and reached out. Someone may read this and be effected, maybe not, but I have stretched myself. And I hope by doing so, I can inspire someone else to do the same.  

I am a writer. New worlds are opened when I write, I derive incredible enjoyment from it, and I believe I can touch hearts by doing it.

Sometimes it's hard to believe we have anything good to say, and even when we do believe, sometimes it's hard to think that anyone is even going to read it. So we give up, we say "What does it matter? No one will read it, see it, like it." How will we ever know, if we don't try? How will we affect the world if we don't put ourselves forward? How will you make the changes you want to make without taking a risk?

Will it always effect someone? Probably not, but keep at it. Find your soapbox, stand on it, and keep shouting out your message. Eventually someone will hear you, eventually someone will think deeply about what you say, eventually you can change the world; one heart, one mind, one soul at a time.

Find your soapbox, look for your talents, then go for it! I have chosen to stand on a soapbox today. I used my natural talent, hoping to inspire others to do the same.

The next time you get an idea that you think could change someone positively are you going to push it aside or are you going try? Stand on your platform, whatever that may be, and shout your message. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight-Spoilers


 When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen. 


Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

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I was so elated to get to read this book, I had been anxiously awaiting it for a long time now, but on top of all that my sister was one of the beta readers making it the time seem even longer. But it was worth the wait!

The plot was wonderfully orchestrated and there was definite middle book feeling to it-not a bad thing. Resistance and The King's Scrolls both felt like the beginning chapters, but I felt like this was a good transition over to the middle of the series. Beside that, this book belonged more to Jace-something I was very, very happy with-and for that reason had a different feeling to it. It was somewhat similar in format to Resistance, which was sort of a debut book for Kyrin, in that things in her life begin to move crazy fast, it is the same for Jace in Samara's Peril.

The progression in Jace's heart and mind is refreshing, he grows much in this book and his character arc is done well. I loved how much more of Jace's feelings we got to see, he was much, much more open in this book. In this book it all gets laid on the table, the rawest, harshest, most horrid places in Jace are there for us to see, but it is beautiful. He is beautiful, he is a person who has done many violent, bad things and yet in his brokenness is great redemption.

Now I would just like to say, Holden is a darling! Since Jace is already Kyrin's, I call dibs on Holden. His friendship to Jace in this book was much needed, yet again showing her writing prowess Jaye has taken a character you disliked and turned him to one you adored.

Jace's new family-for the most part-is wonderful. This book was the turning point for him and I cannot wait  to see him in the next three books. Also the progress in Jace and Kyrin's relationship left me very, very happy.

Elon, the Son Elom. I know that there were some people who felt there wasn't enough prefacing for Him but I disagree. I felt that Jaye spoke of Him enough that when you met him it was smooth. His sacrifice, though I did not feel especially emotionally involved, was written well. It was personal, which is sometimes a better way to bring one's emotions into it.

There were some harder subjects handled in this book-Jace's beginning was a violent one, his mother not having a choice in the matter, and at one point Kyrin almost has the same thing happen  to her-
however Jaye handled it very well, and did not dwell on it more than necessary. I thought those parts were done nicely.

The dragon vs. firedrake fighting sequences were really good. I appreciated how much Kaden stepped up in this book, as well as Liam and Marcus. The dragon fighting scenes and the few on the wall really left me hoping for a large battle in the upcoming future of Ilyon.

Well, once again Jaye has done marvelously! I have no doubt all Ilyon fans will love this book! Total 5 stars! Look for it on May 13th! It is worth the buy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book Review: Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams


Songkeeper (The Songkeeper Chronicles #2)


War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young 
Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran's fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?



Since reading Orphan Song I have been awaiting Songkeeper with much anticipation. For the most part I wasn't disappointed.

One thing I will start off with is that Songkeeper took on quite a darker plot than Orphan Song. It was full of many gory and thematic details and for that reason I don't believe anyone younger than twelve or thirteen should be reading this book, however for older readers it is a heart-pounding adventure any fantasy lover is guaranteed to enjoy.

The plot was wonderfully orchestrated, and there was a well established end goal in mind. The journey leading up to that was exciting enough but at the end of the book I was hanging onto the edge of my seat, feeling like I couldn't breathe for the stress whenever I finished a chapter.

One thing I did not enjoy however was Gillian's usage of the British cuss word "bloody" many times. It rather felt like she was trying to be edgy without technically doing anything wrong. It cheapened Songkeeper

As to the characters the old characters' progression arc was done very well, and the new characters were quite enjoyable. 


My favorite character, Ky, had some pretty incredible scenes in this book. If you were a fan of Ky in the last book you will love the progression of his character. He has gone through so many horrible experiences yet he still does what's right, he has such a deep passion for his "family", and he is just plain awesome.

Birdie, poor Birdie. I felt horrible for her throughout this book. She is stuck in a whirl-wind of hard, scary events and is just so confused. Birdie is a wonderful female lead, she is not the kick-rear, sarcastic, hard-as-nails female character that is so expected nowadays. She is sweet and gentle and yet has incredible strength and resilience. She is confused, hurting, and trapped by circumstances but she still does what's right. 

Amos! There are many people who personally quite enjoy Amos, for the most part he annoys me. He is rather whiny and frustrating. While I do think the deep love he has for Birdie is sweet and his outlandish insults bring a level of spice and humor to the book, I would not be to sad if he was not a part of the book.

Gundhrold is a steady, someone you can always count on to be there for Birdie when she needs him.  He is very much a grounding force for this book that Birdie needs desperately.

The new cast of characters was done incredibly well too, my favorite of the new ones being the Saari warrior Sym.

Takhran. *shudders* Ugh! He was an appropriately horrifying villain. I think Adams did a wonderful job portraying the complete disgusting, evilness of him and creating a wonderful villain. 

The culture of the Saari was very cool, and the riding lions thing as pictured on the cover is awesowe. 


As said above, the end of this book is crazy! Intense, stressful, scary. And while Gillian said that the last scene was very meaningful to her, it was too fast and too brief. For all you had just experienced in that book, the end was very small, and did not really affect me as I had been anticipating. So that was rather a disappointment. 

Overall this book was a wonderful sequel to Orphan Song. If you enjoy fantasy this heart-pounding book will not disappoint.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: Storming by K. M. Weiland



In the high-flying, heady world of 1920's aviation, brash pilot Robert "Hitch" Hitchcock's life does a barrel roll when a young woman in an old-fashioned ball gown falls from the clouds smack in front of his biplane. As fearless as she is peculiar, Jael immediately proves she's game for just about anything, including wing-walking in his struggling airshow. In return for her help, she demands a ride back home...to the sky. 

Hitch thinks she's nutsuntil he steers his plane into the midst of a bizarre storm and nearly crashes into a strange airship like none he's ever run afoul of, an airship with the power to control the weather. Caught between a corrupt sheriff and dangerous new enemies above, Hitch must take his last chance to gain forgiveness from his estranged family, deliver Jael safely home before she flies off with his freewheeling heart, and save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates. 

Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is jaunty historical adventure/dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring steampunk adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities. 


This book is truly deserving of five stars!

The plot of this book was wonderful. And though it took a few chapters to get thoroughly engaged, once I was all I could do was hang on for the flight. The plot was exciting and I was itching to read it all the time.

This book was delightfully long. Usually it is disappointing when a book is stand alone but not so with Storming. It was long enough and characters developed so thoroughly that you felt full by the time it was done. And in the end it his one of those books that make you feel full and happy. And like everything is great. 

Now to the characters! Ah...some of the best characters I have read ever. I could totally see Hitch being the person he was, and Weiland was able to create the type of character that is constantly making you angry and annoyed at the decisions they make yet you still care so much about them and enjoy them. So like, a real person. :)

Jael, was the sweetest thing. It was so refreshing to have a female lead that isn't throwing the fact that she's female and can handle herself in your face. It is so hard to find enjoyable lead female characters at all in movies, TV shows, and books nowadays. Right now it's all kick rear, I can do anything a man can, and sarcasm. But Jael was so much better, she was capable of taking care of herself but not throwing it in your face. She was very understanding, cute and sweet. She knew what needed to be done and did it, and that was that.

Walter was so sweet. I felt such sympathy for the little guy, and totally loved him.

And no one can forget the airplane. That piece of machinery had a personality of her own, granted a sassy one, but a personality all the same.

And while the main characters rocked there was no lack of good background characters. All characters were well developed, and the baddies easy to hate.

If you are looking for a book with plenty of excitement and intrigue this is for you. And if you like planes and flying? It has plenty to keep you coming back for more!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Live Now

Have you ever wanted to escape the mundane bore of daily life? Have you had visions of New Zealand-ish type landscapes floating about in your head, thinking,

"I want to do something important and exciting!"

Truth is, you are doing something important...I had had my head in the clouds, thinking of adventures in beautiful lands, dangerous quests, and hard fights. I have experience extreme wanderlust. But you know what? The people in the stories who are actually experiencing those things have one consistent thought on their mind. Home. What they do is usually for the love of home, to keep the beautiful, wholesome things they love safe.

Having realized this I am glad to be where I am. I wouldn't leave for the world. I am content to stay in this moment, this day, this house, this family, this life.

The life I am living here and now is the adventure! This is the journey. It's time to take our heads out of the clouds and bring them back to reality.

Every moment we spend wishing we were somewhere else is a moment of our lives that is gone forever. At the end of our life are we going to be pleased with how we spent those moments? We have one life on this earth, so let's make it a good one.

One of the things I hope and pray for in my life is making a difference. I want to help people, I want to change things for the better. But there is no way that is going to happen if I spend my time focusing on where I wish I was rather than where I am.

So, how about you and me for the long haul? Let's live every moment to the fullest. Together, lets change the world.