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!

Tea and Books Tuesday – September 17, 2019

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

When Audible suggested the book Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski, it caught my eye because I recognized him as the creator of the TV show Babylon 5. Being a fan of the show, and wanting to hear how Joe Straczynski became a writer in the first place made this an audiobook that I couldn’t pass up.

Becoming Superman started out with Joe’s childhood, and some of the truly horrible abuse he grew up with. It was not exactly what I’d expected, but I had to find out how he got from there, to being a successful sci fi writer. It was hard listening at times, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through. Every time something positive happened with Joe’s writing, I couldn’t help but smile because no matter what, he just didn’t give up.

That was one of my biggest takeaways from Becoming Superman, the importance of just not giving up. I know it sounds trite, but in practice, it’s harder than it sounds. I have to admire Joe’s willingness to stick to his principles, even if it appears to be a bad move career-wise. Whether or not I completely agree with every stand he took, it sure took a lot of courage to stand by something that you think is important, knowing that it can cost you dearly.

I also appreciated the part in the book near the end where he encouraged people dealing with mental health issues, addictions, or abusive situations to get help. There’s still an awful lot of stigma around those things, and parts of Becoming Superman highlight the cost of not seeking help because of that.

Becoming Superman gave me a lot to think about, and some of it was even related to writing! One big aha moment was when Joe talked about when he finally understood what a writer’s voice is. I’m still rolling that idea around in my head, but something really clicked and I had to re-listen to that part a couple of times. The advice he received from Rod Serling about not letting anyone stop you from writing the stories you want to is going to stick with me for a long time too. That, and of course, the not giving up part!

Sci fi writers, and fans of J. Michael Straczynski’s work would likely enjoy his memoir. There is some amount of profanity, and there are some things that are hard to listen to, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to listen to (or read) it for yourself.

The tea in my mug is a Plum Deluxe blend that is a particular favorite of mine. I love black teas with a butterscotch flavor and Sweet Spot Butterscotch Black tea is one of the best I’ve tried. It reminds me of the buttered rum Lifesavers that my great-aunt used to favor!

So, what’s on your reading list or in your mug this week? Let me know what books and teas are topping your favorites list in the comments or on social media!

Summer Reading Challenge Update – August 21st

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

An e-book.

I finished reading The Powers of the Earth by Travis J I Corcoran last night, but I couldn’t write up my review last night because I was still internally screaming over the massive cliffhanger! The second book is already out, so there’s no wait to start the second book in the Aristillus series.

The Powers of the Earth is not for everyone. I was intrigued when I heard it compared to Atlas Shrugged and the concept of a moon colony further piqued my interest. There’s a lot of discussion among characters and even internal debate on topics like economics, politics, ethics, and even a bit of religion. While that sort of thing isn’t to everyone’s taste, I’m fascinated by the topics myself. I tend to lean rather libertarian myself, so I didn’t mind the inclusion of that in the book, and I appreciated that there were some of the tougher points, and some of the potential problems with that ideolgy explored in the context of the story. No system is perfect, and that’s true even in the Aristillus moon colony!

I’m a sci-fi geek at heart, and that was part of the appeal of The Powers of the Earth. I found the setting of a moon colony to be interesting reading, and I honestly wouldn’t have minded delving a little deeper into it. Admittedly, when I first came across the talking dogs, I was beginning to wonder what I had picked up. The dogs were the results of genetic engineering who have an interesting history of their own. I quickly grew to like the characters, and the interesting point of view they brought to the story. The inclusion of an AI is another good twist and I’m still not sure what to make of this particular AI. I guess I’ll have to read book 2 to figure it out!

There are interesting characters in The Powers of the Earth, and while the idea of a Moon or Mars colony clashing with Earth isn’t exactly new, I enjoy the premise and this is a slightly different take on it. It’s a long book, but that’s not necessarily a problem! The cliffhanger means that you will want to have the second book, Causes of Separation, on hand. (There’s no book 3 out at this point, so if the second one ends on a cliffhanger, then I’m really sunk!) There is some strong language in the book, so I would not recommend it for kids and younger teens. In a book dealing with an invasion, there will be some violence, but it’s not particularly graphic. If you’d like a nice long read, and you don’t mind sci-fi books that like to dive into the philosophical, then The Powers of the Earth is worth a look.

Summer Reading Challenge – June 18th Update

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A book related to your career or goals.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson is one of those books that I read a number of years ago, but never really tried out the advice. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?) I found myself needing to outline the novella that I’m writing for Camp NaNo next month, and I decided to read through the book again and give it a try. I’ve read the Oxygen series that Randy co-authored and enjoyed the writing style, so I decided to give his Snowflake Method a try.

Two great things about this book is that it’s short and it’s not boring! Sometimes practical books are long, and hard to stick with. How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method isn’t a regular how-to book, it’s a how-to book written as a story. The story itself was creative and interesting enough to keep me engaged. Since the story is set at a writing conference where the main character is learning the method herself, it almost felt like I was sitting in on a class. The format didn’t just give me the principles, it also demonstrated a new writer, like myself, applying them to her own writing. The end of the book has a nice summary of the method so that you don’t have to go back through the book to remember the instructions for each step of the process.

I’ve been working through the method for the story I’m writing next month, and I can already see how this method has helped me get a stronger plot and stronger characters in place, even before I start writing. I’m excited to see what writing the story using this instead of my usual index card or traditional outline will be like! While there’s no method that’s just right for everyone, the Snowflake Method is worth checking out.

I’m also nearly finished reading Paul Reigner’s Paranormia, and I’ll be sharing about that in my Tuesday update once it releases!

Shattered Honor Blog Tour!

I discovered Anne Wheeler’s books through a speculative fiction writer’s group that I’m part of, and I’m so excited that I get to be part of the blog tour for the release of her third book, Shattered Honor!

Anne was kind enough to offer a little sneak peek at an excerpt for my readers:

It was strange how many people thought the desert was always hot. Windhaven, closer to the Haederan equator than even his thin blood would prefer, was cold in the winter, especially at night. Especially after . . . Well, wasn’t that why he was home? To forget what had happened? Forgetting apparently wasn’t as easy as it used to be, since he’d been watching the sun rise above the faraway mountains for more than an hour now, unable to sleep. The only thing he’d forgotten over the past years was who he really was.

If the glass running from the floor all the way to the flat roof had been thinner, he might have heard the goldcrests perched in the cacti on the other side. Four more alighted on the arm of one giant cactus to peck at it as he leaned his forehead against the window to watch. They would kill the plant sooner or later, but they meant no harm. They just didn’t know any better. How could they? Maybe if he reached a hand out, he could touch their feathers through the glass . . . take some of their innocence for himself.

“Hello there,” he said to the fat one sitting closest to him. The gold-feathered wren chirped silently, accusingly, then flew off in its never-ending search for water. Like it knew what kind of man was speaking to it. Like it saw all the things he’d done. Things he couldn’t think about now. His misplaced loyalties. The blood on his hands. He couldn’t blame the bird for staying away, just like he couldn’t blame the Holy One for deserting him.

Shattered Honor

Space opera will always be my first love when it comes to science fiction, and Anne has done a wonderful job with this series. I was interested as soon as I found out there was a princess who is also a pilot in the books. Asrian Skies did not disappoint, and neither did the sequel, Unbroken Fire. I can’t wait to dive into Shattered Honor, and I’ve already pre-ordered it so I can start reading on release day, which is June 18th. This is the book I’m reading for the “newly released” prompt in the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge, and I actually included that prompt with Shattered Honor in mind!

Do you know what’s even better than a summer book release from one of your favorite authors? A giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks Anne for sharing an excerpt and the giveaway with the Teish Knits readers! Anyone that hasn’t read the first two books yet still has time to binge read them this weekend so you can dive right into Shattered Honor with me on June 18th!

Book Review: Placemaker

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own, and I was not paid to give a favorable review.

If you asked me to classify which book genre Placemaker fits into, I don’t think I could pick just one. A bit like a memoir, with tidbits about gardening and home projects, all interwoven with lessons about life, family, friends, and faith. The tagline on the front cover intrigued me: Cultivating places of comfort, beauty, and peace. I had no idea what to expect from this book, and it’s one of the more unique ones I’ve read this year.

I enjoyed reading about Christie’s memories on the various places she’d lived and how different they all were. Just as mesmerizing were the people she met along the way that she wrote about. I kept wanting to read just a bit more because it was a fascinating book. Placemaker seemed like a book that was randomly jumping around at first, but then I realized it was like a slow ambling down memory lane. Something about that appealed to me, and seemed refreshing. The lessons learned throughout the book gave me something to think about and ponder in between reading sessions.

I’ve always been particularly attached to this piece of dirt that I grew up on and now call home. Placemaker came at a time when being so attached to this small corner of the world was difficult. The reminders of what home really means, and how we can make our home anywhere that we find ourselves were things that I needed desperately to hear.

I still can’t quite classify what kind of book Christie Purifoy’s Placemaker is, but it’s been a lovely read that I fully intend to read through again! I think people who enjoy memoirs or personal stories will enjoy it as much as I did. Considering how close we are to Mother’s Day, it may be exactly the kind of book your mom would like to read! Include a bookmark and a bit of good tea or coffee and you’d have a lovely little gift set.

Book Review: 30 Days to Understanding the Bible

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, I liked the idea of brushing up some of the basics that I’ve learned over the years in a way that put the bits and pieces together into a well-ordered overview. Second, I thought this could be a great resource to use with some of my older kids in their studies.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible is part book, and part workbook. I’m not typically one who writes in books very often, but this is one book where you really should do the exercises and the self test at the end of each chapter. Because of this, if you’re using the book as part of a group study or homeschool class, you’ll ideally need a separate book for every participant. (I preferred FriXion pens for the exercises because they are erasable and didn’t bleed through the pages.)

The chapters are short, and you really can go through them in about 15 minutes on your own. If you’re going through the chapter as part of a group though, there’s easily enough material to discuss in a chapter to make a longer session though! In addition to the 30 chapters, there is a section with extra information, teaching helps, and several bonus chapters. (The one comparing the four gospels is interesting!)

Starting out with a list of the books of the Bible and what genres they can be grouped into, 30 Days to Understanding the Bible truly does start with basics and build from there. Even though I’d memorized the books of the Bible and knew the key events and people of the different time periods, I appreciated seeing those things brought together in this manner. I’m also glad that he included geography as part of the book. It’s never been my strongest suit, and going through it in this book finally gave me a better grasp of exactly where things happened.

Whether you’re completely unfamiliar with the basics of the Bible, or you’ve been in Sunday School all of your life, 30 Days to Understanding the Bible is worth going through. I definitely plan to add it to our curriculum plan for homeschooling!

Book Review: Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

There’s something about a fresh year that makes me want to start a new journal, and a new devotional book! All three of these Devotional Journals are softcover with beautiful cover art and coordinating color artwork throughout the book. Each one features a ribbon bookmark and elastic to keep the book securely closed. The Devotional Journals feature a short devotional for each day of the year, and lines for journaling your reflections. They are dated, but you could still begin using it at any time by simply flipping to the current date.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus may be my favorite out of the three! The floral cover art is a watercolor style and I like the hint of floral art in the corner of each daily page. The devotionals are based on a concept from a hymn or Christian song, and so each day starts out with a line from the song.  A short devotional reading follows with a suggested scripture passage to read. The bottom half of the page consists of blank lines for journaling. The paper is a nice, thick quality with a smooth finish, and should hold up well to most pens. As much as I enjoy music, I love the idea of the daily entries being based on hymns and songs! This one would be ideal for the music lover on your list.

Peace Begins With Me starts right out with a devotional titled “A Promise of Peace”.  Many of the devotional readings have to do with finding our peace in God, and resting in His promises. Each page begins with a scripture passage, devotional reading, and short prayer. The bottom part of the pages is ruled for easy journaling. The cover art for this one is more of an abstract watercolor of varying shades of teal, and the page edges include the same design. The paper quality should hold up well to pen ink. This would be a nice option for someone who struggles with worry, or for someone who prefers a less floral artwork option.

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It is the Devotional Journal with a nature theme to the entries. The cover artwork featuring peacocks is just beautiful, and it’s carried throughout the book. Each page begins with a scripture, devotional reading, and a short prayer before the lined portion for journaling. All of the devotional readings have the theme of seeing God reflected in His wondrous creation. The paper is the same heavy quality as the other two journals. Nature lovers will appreciate a devotional journal that ties into their love of creation!

Any one of the Ellie Clair Devotional Journals would be a lovely gift for someone who enjoys journaling and devotional books. Pick the theme that fits best for your recipient, include some nice pens, and maybe a box of tea and you have a gift basket ready to go! 

Top 8 Books for Gifting

I love books! I love receiving a book as a gift, and I love giving them too! If you’d like to purchase any of the books mentioned, just click on the book cover! Here’s my list of top 8 suggestions for books to gift this year:

I’m starting off with a 3-book Space Drifters series by Paul Regnier. Reading the series was the such a fun adventure! It wasn’t just me who loved the books though, my geeklings all thought it was a hilariously good series. Captain Glint Starcrost has become one of our favorite spaceship captains. Nothing ever goes quite to plan for Glint, but one of the things I love about his character is how he just rolls with it when everything goes wrong and tries his best to talk his way out of anything. He has mixed results with this approach… Speculative Fiction Comedy isn’t a huge genre, but this fits in with things like the TV series Eureka and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fans of sci fi who appreciate something that can make them laugh will read this series over and over. Since it’s a clean read, I’m find handing it off to my tweens and teens for them to read. (Even my 7-year-old liked it when I was reading the first book aloud to the kids!) If you do pick up any of the Space Drifter books as a gift, be sure to include a pair of red checked pajama pants. Trust me on this one!

Another 3-book series that just released the final book this year is Joshua Johnston’s Chronicles of Sarco series. The worldbuilding and the fascinating cultures created for the story pulled me in, and I was hooked! This reminded me in many ways of Star Trek, with various planets and people working together, and spaceships crewed by a diverse cast of characters. Naturally, the series starts with a new threat to the people of the universe… or is it an ancient threat? Uncovering the details of a nearly-lost religion that may hold the answers adds an element of mystery to the series too. If you have a Star Trek fan on your gift list, pick up the Chronicles of Sarco trilogy for them! This one is also a clean read, so I’d be comfortable handing it off to teens. I think it may be a little advanced for some tweens, but as always, parents should use their own judgement since they know their child better than anyone else.

Morgan Busse’s Soul Chronicles series is a set of just two books, but these stories pack a lot of punch! This series is what made me fall in love with steampunk stories. I’d never read anything from that particular genre before, since I’m usually more of a space opera fan, but Morgan did such a fantastic job with these books that I couldn’t put them down. Kat Bloodmayne is the main character, and my heart went out to the girl who wanted to be noticed by her father. Unfortunately, Kat has a secret that she must hide from everyone – especially her father! There are twists and turns aplenty, and who doesn’t love a story that involves airships? If any of the adults or teens on your list are fans of all things steampunk, then Soul Chronicles is perfect for them! This is another clean read that I wouldn’t hesitate to give to a teen, but some of the concepts explored would be a bit too much for tweens in my opinion.

For someone who prefers action with a futuristic twist Man Behind the Wheel by Steve Rzasa is a great pick! It imagines a future where not only have automated vehicles become the norm, but where few humans are even allowed to drive a vehicle themselves. Roman Jasko is one of the few authorized to drive because he’s one of the people who keeps an eye out for unauthorized drivers on the road. The story takes an interesting twist when a gang of criminals starts to rob people while they are “safe” in their automated vehicles. I thought the imagining of a time when folks no longer do the driving themselves was interesting, and it did make me ponder whether it would drastically reduce instances of serious car accidents. Still not convinced that I’d be OK with the idea of my car driving itself! While Man Behind the Wheel is technically speculative fiction, I think it would appeal to anyone who enjoys action stories and thrillers, even if they don’t usually go for spec fic. There are a few mild swear words, but they are infrequent and pretty tame.

I’m not typically a big fan of YA books. I do like Jason Joyner’s new book Launch though! It’s the first book in a series, and currently the only one that’s out. If you have a young person on your list who loves superhero stories, then this is exactly the kind of book they would enjoy! I’ve read some YA books whose teenage characters only annoyed and irritated me. That’s not the case in Launch! I’m finding the characters to be believably imperfect humans, but still interesting and likeable. The mystery surrounding Alturas Collective and Simon Mazor adds an interesting angle to the story. I appreciate how faith is definitely present in the story, but fits seamlessly into it. This is a very clean, Christian story, and I would be completely comfortable with a tween or teen reading it. Honestly, Launch would make a nice family read aloud. The only real downside is that there’s just the first book out, but if you gift it to someone and they love it, you could always gift them book 2 next year!

No list of recommended books would be complete without the Firebird series by Kathy Tyers. It’s absolutely my favorite space opera series, and I’ve read it over and over. The first three books follow Firebird and the last two continue the story with her children and grandchildren. This is a brilliant example of Christian speculative fiction because the story is well written, and the elements of faith absolutely belong in the story. I own a few editions of the books in both print and e-book format. (Basically, if they publish a new edition of any of the Firebird books, I’m going to buy it!) Enclave Publishing released the first three books in the series with new covers a while ago, and now they are re-doing the covers of the last two books to match! Those will definitely have a place on my bookshelves! This series is ideal for Star Wars fans, and good for adults and teens. While there’s nothing objectionable in the books, some of the themes and topics touched on are a little more mature, so I wouldn’t recommend it for tweens, and suggest caution with younger teens.

In a similar vein is Anne Wheeler’s Asrian Skies series. It’s a two-book set, and a lovely space opera story. Avery Rendon is the main character, and since she’s a pilot, I liked her immediately! The story includes intrigue, political plots, betrayal, twists that I didn’t see coming, and a good romance to boot. While not explicitly “Christian” there are faith/religious elements that I appreciated and made me think at bit. There was one character that I just didn’t know whether to like or hate until the very end! Asrian Skies is a clean read and overall appropriate for teens and adults. One caution though: there is a character who is imprisoned and tortured. It’s not depicted graphically, but use caution when determining if your teen is ready to take on what is a somewhat more mature issue.

The last book in my list is the only one that doesn’t fit into the speculative fiction genre, but I loved it anyway! I enjoyed all of the books in Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series, so I pre-ordered the first book in her Age of Conquest series: Merciless. It’s set in medieval England during a time period that I honestly don’t know much about the history of it. It’s set in the aftermath of the Norman invasion of England, and does a good job showing the conflict between the Norman and Saxon people. I had no idea the prejudice that both sides held for each other, and Merciless does a good job of showing characters on both sides without vilifying one or the other. Most of the medieval stories that I’ve read are set during the later years of that time period, so this book makes me want to do more reading about the earlier years and learn more of the history behind it. As always, Tamara created memorable characters and did a fine job of making me feel like I was in the middle of the story. It is a romance, but a clean read with elements of faith throughout.

All of the books mentioned are ones that I bought or won freely in a giveaway. I received no compensation in any form for including them in my list, so rest assured that all of the opinions I’ve written are my honest views on the books. I compiled this list based on newer books that I enjoyed reading, and I think that other spec fic fans would like them to! (OK, so Firebird isn’t exactly new, but it’s still awesome, and if you haven’t read it, you should go read it now!) Just click on the book covers to follow a link to Amazon and purchase. It’s not an affiliate link, so I receive no compensation if you buy via the links on my blog.