Monday, June 26, 2017

Give Me Liberty Review

For thirteen–year–old Nathaniel, an indentured servant in colonial Virginia, life is hard. Though things improve with the help of a kind master named Basil–who shares music, books, and philosophies on equality–around him the climate is heating up. It's 1775 and colonists are enraged by England's taxation. Patrick Henry's words "give me liberty, or give me death" become the sounding call and the American Revolution is about to errupt. Nathaniel and Basil must make a choice about joining the fight and face a larger conundrum about the true meaning of liberty.

L. M. Elliott crafts a stirring narrative for middle grade readers–conveying the hopes and dilemmas of this crucial era in American history.


 A few weeks ago, this book was returned to the book drop at the library where I work. It intrigued me, as I love American history and the cover gave off strong Johnny Tremain vibes. It's difficult to find a historical fiction book that doesn't distort history these days, so I skimmed the author's note, found little known but awesome history facts there (which indicated a perspective I agree with), and decided to try it.

Now the book. Unfortunately, I can't completely rave about how awesome it is because of a few literary flaws. First, I feel like it could have used another editing pass to refine the use of old fashioned language. That aspect was good, but not great. Especially considering the fact that she once referred to Nathaniel's unusually pale blue eyes as "weird-colored" even though according to Webster's 1828 dictionary, "weird" meant "skilled in witchcraft."

My primary complaint is that she shoved in too much historical and cultural information via exposition in the dialogue. Too many characters went on for paragraphs in an "as you know, Bob" manner. Now, as a lover of American history and particularly the American Revolution, I didn't really mind the history, but at the same time, it's a sign to me that she did a lot of research and wanted people to know everything she found out at the cost of the story. I kept comparing it to Johnny Tremain as I read, and Johnny Tremain is just a better written book.

But lest you think I hated this book, I actually really enjoyed it. Yes, there are literary flaws, and no, it doesn't measure up to Johnny Tremain (one of my three favorite historical fictions), but it still managed to be a pretty good book. Not spectacular, but pretty good and I don't regret the read. I liked Nathaniel and obviously I liked the historical period, and the details felt very authentic (minus the use of "weird"). It's very obvious the author spent a lot of time in colonial Williamsburg. Speaking of which, there were some moments of internal squealing at mentions of places in Williamsburg where I've been and lesser known historical figures I learned about on my trip there. (Which was 8 years ago this fall. Wow. I really need to go back.)

So would I recommend it? It depends. If you love the American Revolution, are looking for a book with an accurate perspective, and are willing to overlook some literary flaws, then absolutely. Because seriously, my only complaints are the literary ones already listed. The American Revolution is a fantastic period of history and I love it. And this book reminded me of that fact. Though now I have an urge to go reread Johnny Tremain

Originally posted on Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three Sleeping Beauties Cover Reveal


The covers are here! The covers are here! The day we've all been waiting for! Well, except for maybe the release day August 7th, when you can actually read the books. Today, however, you finally get to see what these books will look like, add them to your Goodreads, and preorder them on kindle. And start getting really excited for August.

Without further ado, here are the covers, alphabetically by author.

Poison Kiss

About the Book

Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss ... but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

About the Author

Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.

You can connect with Kendra on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Her book Sew, It's a Quest is free as an ebook.

Twisted Dreams

About the Book

“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancé, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.

Do you know who I am? You'd better, since this is my blog, but I'm going to be goofy and put my bio and social media links here anyway. Just in case. 😉

 About the Author

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Rosette Thornbriar

About the Book

Once upon a time, way out west...

Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.

Preorder on Kindle.

 About the Author

Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

You can connect with Rachel on her blog, twitter, and Pinterest.

So what do you think? Are you even more excited for August 7th now? What do you hope to see from these stories?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cover Coming Soon

The covers are coming Wednesday! It's going to be super exciting. And to get in the mood, or just to torment all of you 😉, I cut some little pieces out of the Twisted Dreams cover. Have fun guessing what it looks like!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Swords of Time Cover Reveal

Today, I have a new cover to share with you; the cover for Sarah Allerding's new book, Swords of Time. I haven't read it yet, but it sounds really cool. I mean, it's a medieval-related time travel book! But before I give you the cover, here's a little bit about the author.

Sarah is a homeschool graduate who enjoys using her imagination to write fiction. She is working on a degree in theology and hopes to eventually work in the church. She also enjoys umpiring baseball, writing devotions and Bible studies, reading fiction, and playing the guitar.


And now the cover, by Perry Elisabeth Design!


Braden has one goal: knighthood.

Unfortunately, he lives on a horse farm in modern day America with his uncle, his younger brother, and an aunt who absolutely hates him.

Against all odds, Braden and his brother, Jamie, stumble across a pair of special swords that sweep them back into medieval times. They land near a castle whose lord has a task for them.

His older son is lost somewhere in time, and only someone who can control the Swords of Time can save him.

With the goal of knighthood suddenly in sight, Braden's not sure he wants to leave, but he wishes to impress the lord. Can he protect his brother, find the lost heir, and fulfill his dreams, or will the lord's younger son ruin everything?

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Time to Edit...

I'm sure you can guess what I've been doing this week.

Editing is...interesting. I think I'm approximately halfway through beta reader edits. They've been immensely helpful so far, as I've been cleaning up wording and explaining things I hadn't thought to explain. 

The most interesting change has been going back to the original draft for a few sections. I'd cut something that actually made more sense and improved the story. I have absolutely no idea why I changed it in the first place. I wish I could remember. (Thank goodness my dad told me years ago to save every draft as a new document.) But anyway, it's back in, and fixes a problem Kendra had with the story.

I've also been remembering things about this story, its background, and the worldbuilding that I'd forgotten about or simply just not thought about in a long time. See, I'd barely touched it since I submitted it to Five Magic Spindles in December of 2015, and there have been a lot of other things in my mind crowding it out. Now it's coming back, and some things actually make more sense to me now. While I'd had reasons before, some of them I didn't really think through until now.

All that said, I'm currently feeling pretty good about this book, in spite of the freak out I had when I started editing. It really seems to be coming together, and I'm excited about it. 

So when do you get to read Twisted Dreams? As I said in a brief post last week asking for help with the cover reveal, the book will come out on August 7. This is no ordinary release, however. Kendra E. Ardnek, her mom Rachel Roden, and I are all releasing our Sleeping Beauty retellings together. That's right, instead of just getting one Sleeping Beauty story this August, you get three. Which means that during the cover reveal on June 21, you'll get to see three awesome covers. It's going to be fantastic, so don't miss it!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Cover Reveal is Coming!

It's almost time for another cover reveal! You all probably know that I've been working on getting Twisted Dreams ready for publication, so if you guessed this is the Twisted Dreams cover reveal, you're a third right. I'm actually doing this release with Kendra E. Ardnek, and her mom decided to jump in too, so this will be a triple release and a triple cover reveal.

All three stories will be released on August 7, and all three covers will be revealed on June 21. We just need your help. So fill out the form below, and we'll get this party started!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Excerpt Time!

It's time for a Twisted Dreams excerpt! Or really, I've spent most of my at-home time these last few days photoshopping the cover and so didn't actually write a blog post. This cover is a LOT more complex than all the other covers I've put together. All of the other covers I've created were made with one photo...this one takes three. I can't wait to show it to you! (More information about the cover reveal coming when I have it. I feel very disorganized this time around.) But in the meantime, have an excerpt. Note: I haven't applied beta reader feedback yet, so this won't be exactly the same as the final version.

     Calandra alighted on the window sill and set Liesel gently down inside. In the center of the room—indeed, it was the only object in the room—sat what could only be a spinning wheel. It drew her more strongly than had the delicious scents of the gardens. She glanced back at Calandra, clearly displaying her fear in her eyes.
     “You must,” Calandra prompted her.
     Hesitantly, Liesel stretched out her hand to the spindle. The sharp end penetrated the first layer of her skin and she felt herself falling.

     Liesel’s eyes flew open. The slate gray walls of her cell pressed in around her. She sat up slowly, placing her hand behind her on the hard cot for support, and focused on the solid steel of the cell door.
     Liesel hugged her knees to her chest and shivered as the cold of the cinderblock cell wall seeped through the back of her now dingy white linen shirt. She was alone. So alone.
     “Ah, you’re awake now.”
     The woman’s voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. Liesel’s gaze darted around the cell. Where could it be coming from? Who was it? Where was she?
     “You needn’t bother looking for me, Liesel,” the voice said. “You shan’t be seeing me; I took great care of that.”
     “Who are you? Where am I? Why have you taken me?”
     “You do not need to know that. Only your beloved need know.”
     A square section in the wall across from her cot lit up with an image of a familiar face. Her breath caught in her throat. Will! A great longing to reach out and touch him overcame her, but she knew he was only an image. A… moving image. He bent over a screen. Despite the tears that glistened within his eyes and, on occasion, tracked down his cheek, his gaze held a determined glint. There was no audio, but she could tell that his lips were forming her name.
     “That is a live video feed,” the woman’s voice continued. “Wilhelm has just been alerted of your whereabouts, and what he must do to free you, as well as the consequences if he refuses. Do you trust your fiancé to save your life?”
     “I trust Will more than anyone,” Liesel declared firmly. “But… how do you have a video feed of him? Have you bugged Hanover palace?”
     “Why, certainly not. We hacked the security system. That is all.”
     “You…” But it was not worth arguing. She did not know who held her captive and therefore she could not risk giving away sensitive information accidentally.
     The video feed still played across the cell. Will had set down the screen and buried his face in his hands. He looked so forlorn. It was all because of her. But she needed him so. Here in this cold cell, she needed to feel the firm clasp of his hand about hers, hear his calm, steady voice, see his reassuring gaze staring steadily into hers.
     Finally, she could stand it no longer. She rose from the hard cot and took the few steps across the cell, reaching out her hand towards Will. Her fingertips brushed the chilled concrete as they fingered Will’s image, reminding her just how separated they were. “Will…” she murmured. “I need you. God, send Will to save me.”

     Matthew’s voice penetrated the haze into which Wilhelm had sunken like a tiny pinprick of light in a world of darkness—a pinprick that was almost instantly swallowed up.
     “Will, what’s wrong?”
     Matthew’s voice had taken on an urgent tone. It was an uncommon sound, for Matthew’s usual obnoxious personality was difficult to temper. Still Will did not raise his head. The heavy but gentle pressure of Matthew’s hand came down upon his shoulder.
     “Is that Liesel? Where is she?”
     Finally, Will looked up at his brother. “They’ve taken her. She’s on Cantilee. She’s a hostage, Matt. If I don’t…” He gulped. “If we don’t meet their demands, they’ll torture her. But Father won’t surrender the war; he won’t give up our prisoner. Not even if… I can’t…”
     “They’re asking for a prisoner exchange?”
     “Father will never give up King Merle. Not so close to winning the war. Not even for Liesel.” Will returned his tortured gaze to his tablet.
     Liesel now stood looking up at the wall, up at him, it seemed. Tear streaks ran rivulets down her dirty cheeks, her blue eyes more forlorn than he had ever seen them. The lips which ordinarily carried a bright smile trembled as they murmured words. Will. He had seen his name on her lips often enough to recognize it. I need you. God, send Will to save me. Her pleading gaze penetrated him to the heart. She was trusting him. And yet, it was he who had caused her imprisonment. If they had not been at war, if he were not the crown prince, if he had not chosen her to be his bride… and what could he do now to reverse it?
     Liesel’s image flickered and the screen went dark.
     “No!” He lifted the tablet from the table and shook it. “Bring her back! Show her to me. Bring her back!”
     “Will.” He calmed only slightly at the sound of his brother’s voice. “We will find her. I promise.”