Category Archives: Fiction

Kids Corner – Blog Tour and Review: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Pure Middle-Grade Magic!

Apprentice Needed - Obert Skye - smallerApprentice Needed
by Obert Skye


Series: Wizard for Hire (Book 2)
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Length: 416pp
ISBN-13: 978-1629725291

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Obert Skye on Twitter
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Publisher Synopsis

Ozzy Toffy’s adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean.

More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy’s continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever.

When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive they find inside are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover there’s even more adventure in store for them.

Will Rin return and save the day? Will Ozzy figure out why he keeps walking into the ocean? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he’d like to be appreciated? For once?

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.


My Review

Wizard For Hire: Apprentice Needed is the second book in a series that has turned out to be nothing short of pure middle-grade magic!

Backstory is important, so if you missed book one, Wizard for Hire, run to your nearest bookstore, library, or digital dealer and get a copy. I know someone reading this will say, “fantasy is not my schtick.” Don’t let that stop you. The wizard in question, Rin (short for Labyrinth), is less Dumbledore/Gandalf and more 21st-century Zen philosopher/slacker. Our protagonist, Ozzy, and his friend Sigi (who is also Rin’s daughter) even have their doubts about the validity of Rin’s claims to wizardry.

In book one, then 14 year-old Ozzy hired Rin to locate his long lost parents. All kinds of craziness and adventure ensued, including much madness and mayhem involving a sentient metal raven named Clark.

In book two, the cast of Ozzy (now fifteen), Rin, Sigi, and Clark has returned for even more madcap adventure. Rin, back in the wizarding world of Quarfelt, contacts Ozzy in Oregon with a cryptic message: “the time has come…things are happening”. Meanwhile, Ozzy is experiencing mysterious compulsions that put him in dangerous situations where he has no awareness of what’s he doing — think sleepwalking, but Ozzy is awake, just mentally checked out. Ozzy’s lawyer gives him some items Ozzy’s parents had stashed in a safe deposit box that only lead to more questions. On top of all that, a strange man delivers a flash drive with a ticket to and from New York for Ozzy. Could it be Rin trying to reach out? To find answers to all the questions within these crazy happenings, you’re going to have to read the book!

Ozzy, Sigi, Rin, and Clark are a quirky, lovable, memorable bunch I can’t get enough of. And the best part? There will be a third book coming so the adventure will go on!

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. Pure Middle-Grade Magic!

Here’s what you’ll find between the covers of Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed: a well-paced and fast moving tale, full of interesting characters with great interplay who will bring you a lot of laughs and even more fun!


wizard for hire blog tour image

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing for providing me with a copy of this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Blog Tour and Review: Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright

A Christmas Story With Humor and Heart!

Christmas by Accident - smChristmas by Accident
by Camron Wright


Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Length: 240pp
ISBN-13: 978-1629724768

Related Links:
Camron Wright’s Website
Read an Excerpt at Shadow Mountain
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About the Author

camron wright

Camron Wright holds a master’s degree in writing and public relations. He says he began writing to get out of attending MBA school, and it proved the better decision. His first book, Letters for Emily, was a Readers Choice award winner, as well as a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. His next novel, The Rent Collector, won Book of the Year, Fiction, from ForeWord Reviews; Best Novel of the Year from the Whitney Awards; and was a nominee for the prestigious International DUBLIN Literary Award. He is also the author of The Orphan Keeper. Camron lives with his wife, Alicyn, in Utah. They are the parents of four children.


Publisher Synopsis

Welcome to the ReadMore Café, a quirky bookstore and dessert shop where Abby McBride, a Christmas lover, and Carter Cross, a holiday hater, are destined to have an accidental meeting.

Curl up by the fire and enjoy a heartwarming holiday story that even includes a few delicious recipes from the ReadMore Café.

Carter is an insurance adjust whose longing for creative expression spills over sometimes into his accident reports. Abby works for her adoptive father, Uncle Mannie, in the family bookstore, the ReadMore Café.

Carter can barely tolerate Christmas; Abby loves it. She can’t wait past October to build her favorite display, the annual Christmas book tree stack, which Carter despises.
When an automobile accident throws Carter and Abby together, Uncle Mannie, who is harboring secrets of his own, sees a chance for lasting happiness for his little girl. But there are so many hurdles, and not much time left. Will this Christmas deliver the miracles everyone is hoping for?


My Review

I’ve read my share of Christmas stories. So I enjoyed that, with this one, Camron Wright pokes fun of the Christmas novel formula. In fact, it’s the humor found within the pages of Christmas by Accident that makes it a worthwhile read.

While the novel doesn’t take the time to fully flesh out its characters, they are defined by their quirkiness. There’s Abby who loves Christmas so much that she can barely wait until October for the Christmas display at the ReadMore Cafe where she works; Carter, an insurance adjuster who embellishes his accident reports like he’s writing a novel; and Abby’s Uncle Mannie, who raised Abby. When fate thrusts these three together, the results pull on all the heartstrings and push all the right buttons. There are some surprisingly funny moments, as well as tender ones, dealing with family. This is, after all, a Christmas story.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

3.5 Hearts - Final

3.5 of 5 Hearts.  A Christmas Story With Humor and Heart!

While Christmas by Accident is not without its flaws — I would deduct points for one too many plot contrivances — it succeeds in delivering a Holiday message of heart, hope, and humor. By story’s end, I was definitely feeling touched by the spirit of Christmas!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing for providing me with a copy of Christmas by Accident in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Christmas By Accident Blog Tour

Blog Tour and Review: The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole

An Enjoyable Ride Through a Magical World of Potions!

Potion Masters 1 cover - post size The Eternity Elixir
by Frank L. Cole


Series: Potion Masters (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Length: 295pp
ISBN-13: 978-1629723587

Related Links:
Frank L. Cole’s Website

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Publisher Synopsis

For hundreds of years, all of our medical findings, our technological advancements, and even our weapons are a direct result of magical potions. Few people know about the truth because few people are aware of the hidden potion community known as B.R.E.W.–the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide.



Twelve-year-old Gordy knows all about the importance of cauldrons, flasks, and Bunsen burners. He has an extensive knowledge of hundreds of ingredients including Toadflax, porcupine quills, and catfish eyes because Gordy’s mother is the Director of B.R.E.W., and he is an apprentice potion master with a secret lab in his family’s basement.



When the world’s most powerful potion–the Eternity Elixir–disappears and then mysteriously ends up in Gordy’s possession, he must use all of his skills to protect the “forbidden potion” before enemies of B.R.E.W. find and use it to destroy the world as we know it.



Gordy recruits his two best friends, Max and Adeline, to assist him while his mother leaves to confront the most powerful elixirist of all time-the great Mezzarix-who happens to be Gordy’s grandfather.




Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir trailer:


My Review

In this first book in his new series, author Frank L. Cole stirs together magic, mystery, adventure, and humor, and produces a potion that gives the reader all the excitement and fun he or she could want. The Eternity Elixir introduces a trio of brave and clever kids reminiscent of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, though they are not mere knock-offs. Each is likeable and admirable in his or her own way, and it is easy to go along with them as they dive into danger.

But don’t think it’s just another plot where the parents conveniently disappear. Gordy’s Mom and Dad are active participants in the story-line, and his is a strong, functional family.

For the most part, the reader discovers the secret world of the potion masters along with Gordy, which creates and sustains interest. The plot moves rapidly from point to point, and the focus on potions, instead of wands, provides opportunities for Gordy to demonstrate his ingenuity as he invents new and creative elixirs. Whether used as weapons or for fun, these concoctions can have surprising applications and results. Because they are so central to the plot, a helpful “Glossary of Potions” has been included which details the effects of each elixir, as well as listing many of the terms used in the “potion making community”.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4.5 Hearts - Final

4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Enjoyable Ride Through a Magical World of Potions!

The Eternity Elixir is a terrific read and a wonderful start to a new series. Those who like losing themselves in the books of Brandon Mull (Fablehaven) will do the same with this new entry in the Kids fantasy genre.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Eternity Elixir in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Potion Masters- The Eternity Elixir Blog Tour Image

Fiction Shelves: The Separatists by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

Another Gripping, Furious-Paced Thrill Ride with Erica Sparks!

Separatists cover - post

The Separatists
by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart


Series: Newsmakers (Book 3)
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 340pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718037697

Related Links:
Lis Wiehl’s Website

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Publisher Synopsis

Journalist and newscaster Erica Sparks is only planning to report on an explosive story—until she gets caught in the middle of it.

After getting the green light from her network to launch an investigative news show, Erica flies to Bismarck, North Dakota, to investigate Take Back Our Homeland, the largest secessionist group. What she finds is profoundly disturbing – a growing threat to the future of our union.

Back home, her husband Greg is drinking more and talking less—and taking an unusual interest in the glamorous author Leslie Burke Wilson. Erica’s teenage daughter has also begun acting out in troubling ways.

Then she discovers a potential informant murdered in her Bismarck hotel. Take Back Our Homeland might be even more dangerous than she had thought—and she’s unwittingly become one of the key players in the story. Her fear and anxiety escalate – for her marriage, her daughter, and her own life.


My Review

[Click the titles to see my reviews of the first two books in the series,
The Newsmakers and The Candidate.]

The United States is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. After reading The Separatists, Lis Wiehl’s latest heart-stopper, that would not be a surprising sentiment in a foreign reader. The book is described as a ‘thriller’, and it most certainly is one, but it also ventures into the horror genre. Not the guts-splattering, monster-filled type of terror, but the psychological frightener kind, with a murdering, megalomaniacal, psychopathic terrorist at its helm. One who was duly elected into office through the process of American democracy.

Our heroine, Erica Sparks, news journalist supreme, struggles to get to the bottom of a heinous plot to tear apart America piece by piece, while distracted by a wayward daughter and an estranged husband. Whether she saves the day yet again, I will not say. I will note, however, that this is the last novel in the series, so hold your breath and cross your fingers in those final few chapters!

If you have not read the first two books in the terrific Newsmakers series, please do so before cracking open this one. Many old friends return here, and to fully understand Erica’s relationship problems the reader needs to know the histories of certain characters (including that of Ms. Sparks herself).

If you’ve already read and enjoyed The Newsmakers and The Candidate, then you know you’re in for a treat with Wiehl’s new offering, a fast-paced, scary commentary on the current state of the nation.

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict

4 of 5 Hearts. Another Gripping, Furious-Paced Thrill Ride with Erica Sparks!

The Separatists, the third novel in Lis Wiehl’s latest series, has all the suspense and excitement of the previous two, with another disturbing cast of villains, and with even higher stakes. And, as in the previous books, it’s flawed Erica Sparks, always dedicated to uncovering the truth, whom we love to watch pit her intellect and courage against those who would unleash a terrible evil upon the country.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Separatists in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Christian Chapters: Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin

An Honest Walk Through Heartbreak Toward Renewal

Upon a Spring Breeze cover - post sizeUpon a Spring Breeze
by Kelly Irvin


Series: Every Amish Season (Book 1)
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 344pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310348054

Related Links:

Kelly Irvin’s Website


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Publisher Synopsis

After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.

Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.

When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?


My Review

Upon a Spring Breeze is the first in a new series (Every Amish Season) by Kelly Irvin. Kelly, one of my favorite writers of Amish Fiction, tends to come at her stories from a unique angle and never shies away from difficult topics.

Kelly’s no stranger to pain – she is living with two chronic, incurable conditions – and her personal life certainly helps to inform this novel. Readers are given a glimpse into the suddenly tragic life of young newlywed Bess Weaver who becomes a widow and a new mother in a few weeks’ span. Her baby looks just like his late daddy and he’s colicky. Bess can barely look at him for the pain and sinks into post-partum depression. While neighbors, family, and friends offer platitudes and epithets of faith, they seem to carry expectations and a timetable for Bess’ grief. They all talk about “Gott’s will” and “Gott’s plan” but Bess can’t begin to comprehend how so much heartache could be part of God’s plan for her life.

“Stiff upper lip and all that nonsense. It’s easy to say what we believe, but living what we believe, well, that’s another pot of potatoes.” (p. 79)

Like the character Mary Katherine says above, it’s easy to carry our faith around like a pair of unworn shoes, but it’s hard to actively walk in those shoes when they are worn and tattered. When life tosses us headlong into hardship and suffering, how do we hold on to hope?

The strength of Kelly’s writing takes what begins as a very sad circumstance and brings it to a hopeful conclusion. Just as God makes beauty out of ashes. And that’s the very heart of Upon a Spring Breeze.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4.5 Hearts - Final

4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Honest Walk Through Heartbreak Toward Renewal.

Irvin’s beautifully touching novel unflinchingly deals with loss, guilt, despair, family relational dynamics, and other challenges of life, while showing that no matter how dark things may get, help and hope are never too distant, and joy and love can still be found.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild, Thomas Nelson, and BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a copy of Upon a Spring Breeze in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Interview with Amy Clipston (Plus Giveaway!)

A Mother’s Day Q&A with Author Amy Clipston

Amy and sons

Amy Clipston with sons Matt and Zac

What was your favorite Mother’s Day? 

My favorite was after Matt was born because I had my two wonderful boys.

What was your most favorite book to read to your boys when they were little?

Zac absolutely loved Big Joe’s Trailer Truck by Joe Mathieu! He knew it by heart! It’s the cutest book, and I read it to Matt also. We kept it and will pass it on if they have children.

Do you get any book ideas from your sons’ shenanigans?

I haven’t really included any of their shenanigans, but I did model a character after Zac. In my young adult book Roadside Assistance, Logan, who is Whitney’s younger brother, was inspired by Zac. Logan likes Star Wars and video games, and his room is decorated similarly to how Zac’s room used to look.

What’s one of your favorite memories/stories of your boys with your books?

For the past four years I’ve spoken to the 6th grade at my boys’ middle school. I don’t think I embarrassed them too badly when they were members of the audience. One of my sons doesn’t tell many people that I write books, but my other son proudly shares it with friends and teachers. He frequently comes home from school and tells me that the girls in his classes are reading my books. I’m thankful he’s not embarrassed by me or my books.

As a mother, what is your prayer for your boys?

My prayer is that they stay healthy and they find a profession they love. I also pray that if they chose to marry, they find someone who is nice and who will treat them with love and respect. I tell them repeatedly that love should never make them feel bad about themselves. I pray with all of my heart that they will be happy.

About Amy

Amy

Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.

Amy Clipston’s Website
Amy Clipston at Zondervan

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Don’t Miss Amy Clipston’s May Giveaway!

Click through on the photo to enter for a chance to win the prizes shown below, including Amish doll clothes that fit American Girls size dolls!

Amy Clipston May Giveaway

Christian Chapters: The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

A Perfect Conclusion to a Heartwarming and Inspiring Series!

Beloved Hope Chest - postThe Beloved Hope Chest
by Amy Clipston


Series: Amish Heirloom (Book 4)
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 320pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310341970

Related Links:
Amy Clipston’s Website
Amy Clipston at Zondervan

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Publisher Synopsis

In the final installment of the Amish Heirloom series, the Fisher sisters learn the mystery behind their parents’ marriage—and about the sibling who has never been spoken of.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.


My Review

This morning, immediately after I finished The Cherished Quilt, book three in Amy Clipston’s Amish Heirloom Series, I dove into the final installment, The Beloved Hope Chest. Yes, I started and finished the book in the same day. And what a bittersweet feeling it is to be done!

With each novel in the series, Clipston has given another glimpse into the Fisher family. The first three books focus on one of the Fisher sisters: Veronica, Rachel, and Emily.  We get to know them at a trying but ultimately happy time in their lives, and with each of their stories, we get a peak into their mother’s past, which she keeps safely locked up in her hope chest.

Now, in The Beloved Hope Chest, we’ve come full circle as mother Mattie recounts her painful past that she has, until now, left largely unspoken. Having come to know the family so well through her daughters, it was neat to take a trip back in time to see the early days of Mattie’s marriage to Leroy. Rather than getting to see the genesis of a relationship and then having to guess at their future, we know this couple’s happy ending and instead see their rocky beginnings. And although you know it will all turn out, their futures don’t feel any less precarious as you witness Mattie’s losses and the Fisher couple’s individual anxieties and heartaches.

The Beloved Hope Chest is a story of deep loss navigated through faith, followed by healing and renewal. Above all, though, it’s a story of love. But before you tuck that thought into a tidy little box, hear this: it’s not another sappy love story. The Beloved Hope Chest is a thoughtful exploration of what love really means — it shows love in action, the kind of love we promise to one another when we take our wedding vows. The kind of connection between two people that only God can forge and that no human being can sever.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 Hearts - Final

5 of 5 Hearts. A Perfect Conclusion to a Heartwarming and Inspiring Series!

Amy Clipston has created a host of lovable characters in her Bird-in-Hand community, and her readers will be fully invested in the outcome as they watch the early days of the Fishers’ marriage unfold.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Amy Clipston and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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