Tea and Books Tuesday: Treason’s Crown Cover Reveal

Technically, I have not read today’s featured book… yet. I have pre-ordered my copy though because Anne Wheeler’s new novella sounds like a must-read! Check out the blurb:

The last thing Riette expects on a snowy winter’s evening is Meirdre’s royal guard appearing on her doorstep. Their purpose? The king needs a bride, and tradition dictates the position is hers to accept. Desperate to secure her parents’ future, she agrees to the marriage and is whisked away to Lochfeld Castle, all too aware her childhood friend is there as well—imprisoned as a rebel in the dungeons below.

Leaving him to hang isn’t an option, even as her nuptials and his execution grow closer. No matter what secrets the castle holds—mysteries she alone can see—or how desperate King Laurent is to marry an unknown peasant girl, the glittering crown in her future is nothing more than a distraction from her new mission: she’ll free Thomas or die trying.

But what happens when succeeding at either means the downfall of Meirdre?

–Treason’s Crown by Anne Wheeler

How could you resist a story with that description? Not to mention the gorgeous cover design by Alea Harper! (Incidentally, if you’re on the market for a book cover, check out her website.)

You can pre-order Treason’s Crown today: https://books2read.com/treasonscrown

If you need something to read right now, I can’t recommend Anne’s Space Opera Series, Shadows of War, enough! You can get the e-book box set of books 1-4 on Amazon right now: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085759KT8/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1

So, what are you binge-reading lately? Or, what pre-orders are you anxiously waiting for? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

6 More Books for Gifting from My Own Wish List

Yesterday I shared some of the books I’ve read this past year and loved. Today, I’ll give you a peek at some of the books on my personal wish list, along with suggestions for who they might be the perfect gift for!

Mom Heart Moments is a devotional book by Sally Clarkson. I’ve always found Sally’s books to be encouraging, and just a pleasure to read. If you have a mom on your list, this would be a lovely book to gift! Include some good tea or coffee and a pretty bookmark and you have everything you need for a gift basket.

Fight Write by Carla Hoch is a must-have for any writer whose stories include some sort of fight. Carla has a blog that’s a fantastic reference for writers, and she’s given plenty of workshops on how to effectively and realistically write a good fight. Published and aspiring novelists alike will appreciate this reference book.

Psalms of Sherlock by Gail Ann Swales is a novel based off the character of Sherlock Holmes. Since Holmes is one of my favorite fictional detectives, the concept of the book intrigues me, and I want to see how the author weaves faith into the story! Classic mystery fans who enjoy Christian fiction will be interested in this one.

Get to the Margins is a collection of devotionals written by authors for authors. I’m familiar with the work of some of the contributors, and this is one book that I’ve had in my wish list since it released! This is another great option for published or aspiring writers. In fact, maybe bundle this with Fight Write and your writer friends favorite caffeinated beverage for a writer gift basket!

52 Lists for Calm by Moorea Seal is a journal with weekly lists intended to promote calm. Given the fact that I’m constantly being told to reduce stress or chill out, this is definitely on my wish list. I’ve used a couple of Moorea’s previous 52 list journals, and quite enjoyed the practice of sitting down and making a weekly list for the given prompt. This is a great idea for the journaler, or list-maker on your list. (Maybe throw in some nice calming tea if they’re like me and could do with a little chilling out!)

Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making by Andrew Peterson is a book that’s come highly recommended by a number of writers and publishers who I respect. Being a Christian and an artist can seem like a tricky path to walk at times, and a book that’s part memoir and part handbook appeals to me. This is a wonderful gift idea for the Christian artist on your list!

I also promised a couple of non-book gift ideas for the bookish person on your list! First up would be one of the fantastic t-shirts by Lorehaven. I’m actually wearing the one pictured right now, but they have four options to choose from, and they’re all great. I quite liked the one with the Narnia quote too, but I couldn’t pass up a t-shirt with an astronaut!

If you have a short fiction fan on your list, you might consider a gift membership to Havok. Havok publishes a daily dose of flash fiction. While you can read the flash fiction for the day for free, a membership gives you access to the complete collection of flash fiction that’s been published on Havok’s website. You could pick up their anthology if you want something to wrap with the gift membership.

If you have a Christian speculative fiction author on your list, consider a Realm Makers membership! Membership gives them access to monthly content for writers, discounts on conference tickets, and much more! Bundle it with a t-shirt or mug from the Realm Makers store if you’d like something to wrap up with the membership.

14 Fantastic Books for Gifting

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C.S. Lewis

Books and tea make wonderful gifts in my opinion! I’ve put together a list of my top suggestions for books to gift this year in case you’re looking for ideas. None of the authors have asked me to include their books, and while I may have received ARC copies of a few of the titles, they were so good, that I went out and purchased a copy of their book once it released. I’m not recommending anything that I haven’t spent my own money on!

Encircled is a fun anthology with speculative fiction retellings of fairy tales. The genres represented in the anthology represented a good variety, though my favorite story was one of the science fiction retellings! I enjoyed every story in the collection, and this would be a nice gift idea for the fairy tale fan on your list.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes is a speculative spin on the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. I knew a bit of the history behind that, and I found Nadine’s magical spin on the story delightful! Fawkes was one of the rare YA books that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was pleased that the author included information in the back of the book about what was fact and what was fiction. History buffs and YA fiction fans will love reading this one.

Space Murder by NL Haverstock is a mix up of space opera and cozy mystery. I loved it! I love a good space opera, and the cozy mystery element was an interesting twist. It was a fun read that I couldn’t put down once I started reading. The mix of mystery, humor, and spaceships was just right. This one is a must read for fans of sci fi and mysteries.

Nameless by Tamara Leigh is one of the not-speculative books on the list, but Tamara’s books are always on my must-read list! A medieval tale set in the aftermath of the Norman conquest of the Saxons, Nameless is a romance with plenty of action and history. It’s also the third book in a series, so you could gift all three books! It’s an excellent choice for fans of historical romance with a fair amount of sword-fighting thrown in.

Oath of the Outcast by C.M. Banschbach is a Celtic fantasy novel that starts out with an interesting protagonist who has a backstory that’s hinted at. I wanted to keep reading not only to find out how the story turned out, but what his story was! I’ve an interest in the history of Scotland and Ireland, and so the Celtic flavor of this book appealed to me. This is a great idea for fans of historic fiction, fantasy, and books with no romantic subplot!

Heroes of the Realm is an anthology published by Realm Makers Media. This entry is a bit self-serving, since my own short story is one of those featured. However, I plunked down my own money for the Kickstarter campaign before I even submitted a story because the other authors featured are among my favorites! You’ll find all sorts of speculative genres from sci fi to fantasy included in this collection of stories about heroes. (There’s a prequel to the Space Drifters books included by Paul Regnier that you won’t want to miss if you’re a fan!) This is an ideal gift for a fan of many speculative genres who enjoys short stories.

Iggy & Oz and the Plastic Dinos of Doom by J.J. Johnson is technically a MG book, but all four of the kids and I adored it! How could I resist a story about plastic dinos in the attic coming to life to wreak havoc throughout the neighborhood? Normally, I don’t enjoy books written for this age group this much, but this was one book that I didn’t mind reading aloud to the kids. This is the perfect gift for a kid who’s reading chapter books, or for the grownup who’s still a kid at heart.

Chasing Eden by Cherilyn Clough is actually a memoir. Cherilyn may have grown up in an abusive home, but she writes about it with surprising compassion. Her memoir never comes across as an angry rant. Her story intrigued me, and I was alternately saddened by things that happened, and happy to see Cherilyn’s persistence pay off by the end of the book. Fans of memoirs would appreciate this book.

Shattered Honor by Anne Wheeler is the third book in the Shadows of War series. I’ve said more than once that space opera is my first love when it comes to sci fi genres, and this series is one of my favorite space operas! I have them all in e-book format, but I love the books so much, that print copies are on my wish list! The fourth book in the series is coming in January, so if you gift the first three books to the space opera fan on your list, they might have time to read them all before the fourth book releases!

Paranormia by Paul Regnier is a genre that I wasn’t interested in, but since I loved Space Drifters so much, I gave it a try anyway. His take on urban paranormal did not disappoint! The healthy dose of humor mixed in kept me laughing, while the gripping spiritual warfare part of the book kept me turning pages. Readers who like fiction that includes spiritual warfare, urban fantasy, or comedy would all enjoy this one. (And did I mention the sports cars?)

Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace was just the burst of encouragement that I needed as a writer. As a reader, I was nodding my head with all of the letters from the fangirl! It’s a short book, but a lovely little addition to the bookshelf of a book fangirl or a writer who could use a little extra encouragement!

A Storm Grows is a poetry anthology by Janeen Ippolito. It’s not rhyming poetry, but rather poems exploring what it’s like to have been through the storm. While some of the poems are understandably heavy, there’s an element of hope too. I read through it in one sitting! It’s a short anthology, but wonderful for the poetry-lover on your list.

Airfoil: Origins by Steve Rzasa is a book that I haven’t finished reading yet, but I had to include! When the protagonist is a librarian who ends up with superpowers, it’s the kind of book that needed to be included in my reading list. So far, I’m enjoying the story, and I think it would be an excellent pick for the superhero/comic book fan on your list.

I hope you found a book that’s perfect for one of the recipients on your gift list, or even a few to add to your own TBR pile! If you need a few more ideas, be sure to come back tomorrow for my post about the books that are on my own wish list, as well as a couple of other “bookish” gift ideas!

Book Review: Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl

I’m so happy to be part of the Dear Author blog tour, celebrating the release of Laura A. Grace’s fabulous new book! I did get a sneak peek at an ARC as part of the blog tour, but I’d already pre-ordered my copy by then, because this is a book I didn’t want to miss!

As a reader, I may have a tendancy to fangirl just a bit over my very favorite authors and their books. (OK, so I fangirl a lot, but who can blame me when there are such great books out there!)

As a writer, I’ve got my own share of angst about my writing and it’s hard some days to not feel discouraged when I look at my work and see only the flaws.

Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace appeals to both the reader and the writer in me. The book is a series of letters written from a fangirl to her favorite author. I can completely identify with the fangirl writing the letters, so it was fun to find out that I’m not the only fangirl out there! As a writer, I found the letters heartwarming, and they encouraged me to keep writing.

Dear Author is a fairly short book, but it’s the perfect gift for a reader or a writer. The black and white illustrations in the book are delightful, and make reading it all the more fun! If you’re gifting the book, definitely spring for the paperback. Get a second copy for yourself while you’re at it!

While Dear Author released earlier this week, the Facebook Release Party is tonight! Be sure to join in tonight at 8:30 EST! In addition to Laura A. Grace, special guests will include Janeen Ippolito and Katie Phillips. You won’t want to miss the fun and the giveaways, so grab a cup of tea and log on tonight!

Twelve Days of Christmas Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Sale (And Givaways!)

My Christmas tree is up, there’s snow on the ground, and it’s the perfect time of year to curl up with a book and tea in the evenings. What’s even better than books and tea? Book sales and giveaways of course! Twelve science fiction and fantasy authors have teamed up to offer a new sale and giveaway each day for the first twelve days of December. Each sale and giveaway is a one day only event, so be sure to visit the next stop on the blog tour every day so that you don’t miss one.

I haven’t read books by all of the authors participating in the promo… yet. The authors whose work I have read though are all ones I’d recommend. (Incidentally, if you’re a fan of space opera, do not miss the December 6th stop. Anne Wheeler’s space opera series is one of my favorites, and I’ll be mentioning it in my top books for gifting post later this month!)

Here’s the complete list of authors and their websites so you can make sure you don’t miss a single sale or giveaway!

Yaasha Moriah – www.yaashamoriah.com

Verity A. Buchanan – www.verityabuchanan.com

Melissa Little – mllittleauthor.blogspot.com

J.D. Rempel – www.jdrempel.com

Claire Banschbach – www.clairembanschbach.com

Anne Wheeler – www.anne-wheeler.com

J.M. Hackman – https://jmhackman.com/

Janeen Ippolito – https://www.janeenippolito.com/

H. L. Burke – www.hlburkeauthor.com/blog

Laura VanArendonk Baugh – www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com

Hans Erdman – www.gewellynchronicles.com

M. J. Padgett – www.mjpadgettbooks.com

Changing My Mind

I was going to write a post for today about my NaNoWriMo project. I’d decided within the past few weeks to do NaNo again this year. Then, I changed my mind… again.

I’ve only participated in NaNoWriMo twice, but I loved it both times! It seemed like the perfect way to kick-start The Mechanic Who Would be Queen and get the first draft written. Not to mention this being the 20th year for NaNo! There are good reasons why I wanted to participate this year.

However, there are also good reasons why I decided not to participate. November is a busy month with Camo’s birthday, my IT staff’s birthday, our 20th anniversary, and Thanksgiving. My family is wonderfully supportive the years that I dive into NaNo, and they don’t complain about the things I have to let slide that month to make word count. I know they would all be cheering me on. The thing is, there are things this month that I want to be able to just enjoy without having to worry about my word count. My IT staff and I are going away overnight for our anniversary, and I want to be able to enjoy a nice dinner without having a word count nagging in the back of my head. Camo’s birthday sometimes seems a little lost in the shuffle of a busy month, and I want to make it special and make a cool cake for him without feeling like I have to rush to go get some writing in.

As much as I love NaNoWriMo, it does tend to overshadow everything else in a month. I don’t want that to happen this year. I’m definitely not ruling out jumping into the fray again next year, but for this year, I think it’s better to sit on the bench and cheer the rest of you on. I’m still going to write The Mechanic Who Would be Queen! In fact, it’s probably going to be the first book in a trilogy. Or maybe a four-book series… I’m not sure yet, but I’ve have ideas!

So, who’s doing NaNo this year? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Tea and Books Tuesday – October 29th

I read Edge of Oblivion, the first book in Joshua Johnston’s Chronicles of Sarco series, shortly after it came out. I loved the world-building, and declared it reminiscent of Star Trek. The last two books in the trilogy languished in my ever-growing TBR pile until just recently. Part of me thinks, “I should have read them sooner!” but I must admit that part of me is glad that I waited until I could read books 2 and 3 back-to-back. When I reached the end of Into the Void, my kids were startled when I said rather loudly, “Why would you end it there, Joshua Johnston? Why would you do that to us?!” Thankfully, I had book 3 waiting on my Kindle app to be started immediately.

After the last-minute cliffhanger that changed everything at the end of the previous book, I didn’t have a clue what to expect from Through Chaos. The world-building, cultures, and history that I loved in the first book, was carried through to the end of the third book. Watching certain threads come together, and connections falling into place was satisfying, and one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading the series. The diversity among the characters in the book gives the reader a wonderful variety of points of view on what’s happening. The number of connections, and story threads that needed to come together by the end of the series could have made for a haphazard ending, but Joshua did a great job tying everything up smoothly and in a way that made sense and brought the series to a good close. (Not that I’d mind a spin-off series if that was ever in the works!)

While the storyline in Through Chaos certainly has plenty of action, it’s not action-packed at the expense of world-building and character development. The exploration of the different people and cultures is in-depth enough to make for a rich setting, but blends into the story in a way that is relevant and didn’t pull me out of the story while reading. It’s definitely an epic space opera!

Fans of space opera along the lines of Star Trek will not want to miss this series. It’s solidly Christian fiction, and a clean read. This is another book series that I don’t hesitate to let me tweens and teens read! There’s an e-book box set available now, and you’ll definitely want to get all three books so you don’t have to wait to start the next one in the trilogy. (Trust me, you will need to pick up book 3 as soon as you finish book 2!)

In my mug today is something other than tea! I grew up drinking coffee, and still like to have some now and then. Some mornings just call for the caffeine kick of coffee! One of my current favorites is Butter Pecan by New England Coffee. I can buy it at my local grocery store, but if yours doesn’t carry it, then you can order online. Greek yogurt has become my breakfast staple since I started regularly having breakfast a couple of years ago. (Mom tried for years to get me to quit skipping breakfast, and it turns out that she was right. No surprise there!) Berry blend was my go-to, but I was recently introduced to honey flavor Greek yogurt, which definitely tastes like cheesecake. Cheesecake for breakfast? That works for me!

What’s on your bookshelf and in your mug this week? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Tea and Books Tuesday – October 22nd

Note: I received an ARC copy of today’s book from the author. I was not required to write a review in exchange for the book, and all opinions expressed are my own.

I’m a big fan of sci fi, and grew up watching Star Trek re-runs with my dad. I may have mentioned this a time or two! I also grew up watching mysteries on PBS with my mom. Does anyone else remember Mystery! hosted by Diana Rigg? Mom and I were definitely fans! When Nikki Haverstock mentioned that she was publishing a cozy sci fi mystery, I knew that I’d be reading Space Murder!

Nikki started out the book in the middle of the action, which made the book hard to put down. I liked Captain Laika from the start, and quickly became invested in what would happen to her, and the rest of her crew. Space Murder has a fast-paced plot and my kids will tell you that I gasped aloud a couple of times while reading it. (Some of those twists!) When the mystery was solved, I found myself saying, “Why didn’t I notice that?” The ending made sense, and didn’t come across as contrived, so it’s a good mystery in my opinion!

Space Murder is a perfect read for fans of cozy mysteries, and my mom would have loved the book! Sci fi fans who enjoy a good mystery will not want to miss what I sure hope is the first book in a series. Captain Laika’s faith puts this in the Christian fiction category, and the book is a clean read. I’m completely comfortable letting my tweens and teens read it, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my teen daughter will be asking me when the next book in the series is due to release! With Christmas coming, this would make a wonderful gift for the mystery or sci fi fan on your list.

Of course, if you’re gifting a book, I recommend pairing it with some good tea. The Blueberry Black Tea from The Spice & Tea Exchange that is pictured in my cup today is one of my new favorites. If you’re lucky enough to have a shop somewhere nearby, you can smell all of the fabulous teas they offer and pick what appeals to you. If there’s no shop in your area, you can’t go wrong with the blueberry! The blueberry flavor is strong enough that it’s not overwhelmed by the black tea, but you can still taste the black tea. The two flavors blend nicely, and they have created just the right balance between the two. This is a great morning blend, and also a good pick-me-up in the afternoon on the days when you need a little boost.

What are you reading and sipping this week? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Tea and Books Tuesday – October 1st

Note: The Plum Deluxe links in the post are affiliate links. I was a contributor to the book anthology featured today.

So, I may have mentioned my short story, “The Librarian Who Would be King”. I may also have mentioned that it ended up in an anthology titled Heroes of the Realm with some of my very favorite speculative fiction writers, and published by Realm Makers Media. I may be just a little bit excited about that… OK, more like completely freaking out, but trying to be professional and play it cool.

I signed on with the Kickstarter campaign for this anthology well before I ever considered submitting. I was familiar with the writers who had already been brought on board and I knew that I wanted to read their stories. (Their stories did not disappoint, by the way!) When I found out that being a supporter of the campaign meant that I could submit a story for consideration, it took two people to convince me to submit something. My IT staff reminded me that doing the things that challenge us is what makes us grow and get better at our work. And my sister told me what Mom would have, that I was trying to talk myself out of submitting something, but if I wanted to I should just do it. I needed that push!

The first draft of my story was so awful that I don’t think you could even call it a first draft. (Don’t laugh! It really was terrible and I think I broke every rule of writing and grammar, and went a few thousand words over the max word count.) A sea of red ink later, I sent it to a couple of writer friends for advice. I got some great suggestions back and went back to the keyboard for a couple more drafts before sending it off. The night before Mother’s Day, I got an e-mail that it had been accepted for publication in Heroes of the Realm. Then it was on to more edits, including a fantastic suggestion from editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail that resulted in one of my favorite lines in the story!

The day I held a print copy of Heroes of the Realm in my hands was the most amazing feeling. I admit that I did flip to “The Librarian Who Would be King” and took a peek at that first, but who could blame me? After that, I started at the beginning and read through the stories in order. I love the variety of genres and writing styles featured in the anthology, and there’s a reason why I admire the other authors–they write great stories! You can order the anthology in either digital or paperback, and I think it would make a great Christmas gift for someone who enjoys speculative fiction and short stories. The theme for the anthology is heroes, so each story features some kind of hero. It was fun reading everyone’s interpretation on that theme!

The mug that’s made an appearance for the last three weeks is one of the Kickstarter perks, but you can order one for yourself at the Realm Makers website. The tea in the cup in my tea of the month from my Plum Deluxe subscription. It’s a wonderfully fall-ish tea, but the tea of the month is a subscriber exclusive. If you’re interested in learning more about their tea subscription you can check out the details here. At $10/month, it’s the most affordable tea subscription I’ve found, and their tea blends are delicious!

So, what have you been reading, or writing, or drinking this week? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Tea and Books Tuesday – September 24th

Note: The Plum Deluxe links in this post are affiliate links.

I started Nadine Brandes’ book Fawkes on, ironically, November 5th of last year while the power was out. I barely got through one chapter when the power came back on, and the book sort ended up getting shifted further down on my Kindle book list. (I can’t be the only one who has so many e-books that I forget to finish them sometimes, right?) I re-downloaded it to my tablet recently and wow, I wish I’d gotten back to it sooner!

I love learning about history, and was somewhat familiar with the history surrounding Guy Fawkes and the 5th of November. I absolutely love the speculative twist that Nadine put on the story though! At the end of Fawkes she includes info about what parts of the story are true, and what isn’t. I definitely appreciate it when a historical fiction writer includes that information.

Fawkes is technically a YA book, and while it’s appropriate for teens, I enjoyed reading it tremendously. I liked how Nadine re-framed the religious strife of the time period as opposing schools of thought on White Light, the source of color magic, and whether or not anyone should have direct interaction with White Light. The fact that she presented a balanced view of “both sides” showing that people on both sides of the ideology did terrible things is another thing I appreciated about Fawkes. A study of the actual religious conflict in that time period shows that to be very true. Some of the questions of prejudice that were raised were appropriate to the story and the time period. It was thought-provoking without being preachy.

If you aren’t familiar with the history of the time that Fawkes was set in, I hope this story will pique your interest enough to make you do some more reading on the real life history, because it is fascinating!

The tea in my mug this week is another Plum Deluxe blend–Chocolate Hazelnut Dessert Tea. Seriously, it’s the next best thing to a spoonful of Nutella! And since it’s an herbal tea, I can drink it before bed and not worry about caffeine keeping me awake. It’s the perfect blend to go with a good book after a long day.

What books have you been reading, and what tea have you been drinking this week? Let me know what you recommend in the comments or on social media!