Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading | Spring 2019 Edition

Books. Books. All the Books! Even though I don’t do book reviews anymore, I still want to keep y’all in the loop of what I’m reading! Here’s the most recent reads – some for the INSPYs, some for the different book clubs I’m in, and some for fun! Have you read any?

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano: An INSPY nominee.

The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright: Another INSPY nominee.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Y’all know how I feel about this book. I think everyone in America should be required to read this. We read it for one of my book clubs and it was a great discussion. I also did a quote series on Instagram, be sure to check it out!

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar: And another INSPY nominee.

The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong: I wrote about this a few weeks back here.

Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse: It’s a series, and I’m not so patiently waiting for the conclusion next year!

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay: I love everything she writes and this was no different! Well worth your time.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim: Always love the creativity and her unique take on a story. This is definitely one of my favorites from Petersheim.

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan: Can murder mysteries be fun to read? I think so! I’m a big fan of Rachel and how she brings important characters and topics to the world. Be sure to check her out if you haven’t yet!

Broken Harbor by Tana French: This is my second book by French and I’m trying really hard to like her books. I like her writing, but the two I’ve read, the endings (and murder mystery reveals) have left me wanting. Usually I give an author two books before accepting we aren’t meant to be, but I’m willing to give her one more shot.

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon: Another INSPY nominee.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon: I read this for book club and it was such a great discussion. If you’re looking for a good discussion book, I definitely recommend this one. It’s also just a great book, but extra bonus getting to discuss it with friends.

What are you reading?

Book Reviews, Fiction

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes | Book Review

“But perhaps bravery meant entering into a storm you already knew would destroy you.”

Y’all know I can’t resist historical pieces – throw in some fantasy and I’m 100% in. Fawkes by Nadine Brandes was creative, engaging and kudos to trying something not often seen with historical events in novels. Geared towards the YA audience, I still enjoyed the characters, the pacing and how she would work in the fantasy elements.

It also made me want to do a deep dive research into King James and the entire Guy Fawkes history. That’s one of my favorite things about reading historically based stories – it opens up a piece of history I might not have thought about before.

“It is those who dream of the impossible who end up defying the very word.”

If you enjoy history or fantasy (or both, like me!), then be sure to check out Brandes’ latest release. Also, that cover? LOVE IT!

Is there a historical event you’d like to see retold?

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

ABOUT THE BOOK: Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.


World-Building: The Promise of Something Greater | Guest Post by David Wiley

Today I’m welcoming my friend David Wiley on his newest release! Hope you enjoy!

When I sat down to write Monster Huntress, I didn’t know much about the world in which it was taking place. I knew the type of world I wanted, but it transformed and evolved over the course of revisions, always growing either in size or in the details. While the story of Monster Huntress visits only a small portion of the world I’ve created, there are some lessons I’ve learned from J.R.R. Tolkien that have had a ripple effect toward my approach to worldbuilding. The biggest of those lessons was to provide the promise of something greater.

What I mean by that is there is something more out there beyond what the reader is experiencing. There is a larger world, other events going on. There is a rich history, filled with named heroes and battles and events that can be referred to over the course of the book. The reader doesn’t need to know what the Wizard Wars were, for instance, but knowing that there was some massive war hundreds of years ago is important to provide the experience of an aged world. After all, we still refer back to events and wars that waged hundreds, and thousands, of years ago. The same will hold true in a fantasy book, unless it is a newly-formed world. Even new civilizations likely stemmed from somewhere with a history on that world.

Some writers might take the “cut it” approach to those things, and my own editor prodded at some of those. I took a few out but kept others, because I wanted to provide depth to the world – it has a history, after all, even if I haven’t written it yet. It opens the door for significant events to be explored later in shorter forms of fiction, or even a spin-off book that covers some of those things.

There is a scene in the book where Ava comes across a statue of four famous, yet nameless, heroes from the past. Here is the small scene:

The landmark of her journey, a tall statue made from an aquamarine granite, loomed just ahead. Its features were smooth and worn from the weather, their individual faces indistinguishable, but she could still make out the original image carved by the sculptor. It was depicting a trio of men and one woman, a party of unnamed individuals that performed heroic deeds long ago during the Wizard Wars. When Ava was close enough she could read the short inscription at the base of the statue which read: “These four warriors fought to maintain the balance in the world. They fought bravely and their sacrifice for the side of the Light will forever be remembered.” The rest of the words had been worn down to the point where they were no longer legible.

Ava sat in her saddle and contemplated the deeds of these bold warriors from the past. Had they not acted perhaps the world would be radically different than the world she was living in now. It was clear, from the inscription that remained, that these four were important in shaping history.

This scene was much longer, originally, giving some physical descriptions and some speculations on their individual roles. Yet I like the concise nature here. It gives you enough to emphasize their importance in making the world like it is, yet doesn’t steal the scene away from the main character. Look for more worldbuilding scenes like this to appear as the world I’ve built continues to grow. After all, Monster Huntress is set in a world with 13 kingdoms. By the end of book one, she’s only set foot into two of them, so the possibility for growth is quite large as she goes on more adventures in the Young Huntress Series.

Want to get started on Monster Huntress? Grab a copy today!

Want to learn more about the world I’ve built? Check out the earlier stops on the tour and meet some of the characters!

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Lorie Langdon | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

What better way to end the month than with a fabulous 4 Questions?? I’m excited to have Lorie Langdon on the blog today! I absolutely love the Doon Series (counting down until Book 3!) she writes with Carey Corp (you can find my reviews here)! They’re creative and a great addition to the YA market. If you love the genre or have teenagers, be sure to check it out.

Lorie Langdon has over ten years experience writing online and print advertising for a Fortune 500 company. A few years ago, she left her thriving corporate career to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word.

Lorie has a Bachelor’s Degree from Wright State University. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and a board member for her local Ohio Valley RWA chapter.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
There are so many things that have changed for me in the last five years! One thing that amazes me almost every day is the outpouring of love and enthusiasm for the Doon series on social media. Our readers from all over the world post edits and videos of what our characters might look like, gorgeous photos of our books and even original fan art! Five years ago, I was still dreaming about Doon being published, so our awesome readers were far from something I could have imagined!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would go back to the stressful years prior to getting my first publishing deal and trust God’s perfect timing. After lots of rejection, the publishing deal we got for Doon ended up being beyond anything I could’ve imagined! Our book was the lead title for Blink, a brand new YA imprint geared toward delivering clean, compelling stories that delivered a message of hope. With another publisher, Doon’s subtle spiritual thread would likely have been unacceptable. But with Blink we’re able to tell the story of Doon the way it was meant to be told.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The first time I held the Doon hardcover in my hands, when Carey and I had our first book signing in New York City and people were lined up to meet us, when I saw our amazingly gorgeous cover for the first time, when a reader drove eight hours to get to our book signing…Oh, was I only allowed to list one?

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
When I was a teen, I sat on the sidelines and watched the world go by. I was afraid of rejection, of taking risks, of trying new things…I’d rather bury my face in a book then take an adventure. But in college someone very close to me passed on and I realized life was too short to sit back and wait for things to come to me. So I fought my way out of my passive shell and I’ve never looked back. I still feel scared sometimes (especially before a speaking engagement!), but I’ve realized that fear, failure, and rejection are all part of living a spectacular life!

My advice for the next generation…Try new things, take a leap of faith, go after your dreams! You may not succeed every time, but it’s worth the risk—I promise. 🙂

Thank you so so much Lorie! It was a pleasure to have you on the blog and can’t wait for the next Doon book as well as your first solo release! Yay! Alright readers, be sure to connect with Lorie.

Where to Connect with Author
Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest | Website | Doon Series Website


Author Interviews

4 Questions With Author Krista McGee

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

One of my favorite reads last year was, hands down, Anomaly by Krista McGee. It’s a fantastic YA dystopian novel I’d recommend to anyone! As a bonus the author is pretty awesome too. I mean she’s lived in Spain and Costa Rica, what more evidence do you need ;)? I love the heart behind her writing and I’m so excited to dive into the next book in the series, Luminary, which is waiting patiently on my kindle. So it is truly my pleasure to have her hang out today on Books and Beverages!

I write for teens, teach teens, and more often than not, act like a teen. My family and I have lived and ministered in Texas, Costa Rica, and Spain. Our current hometown is Tampa, FL. Check out my website for FAQ’s, info on my books, and my blog.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be a published writer! Five years ago, I was just starting to think about writing First Date, but I didn’t even know if I could actually finish the book. I certainly wouldn’t have imagined that I’d write three YA contemporary books and then switch genres to write YA dystopian.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
That’s a tough question! As a writer, I think I would start working on the craft earlier. I didn’t really get serious about writing until five years ago.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
It’s a four-way tie between my wedding day and the births of my three children.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
As a wholehearted, committed Christian, I want this generation to know that God has great plans for them, that He is worth knowing and serving. We get too caught up in things that don’t matter and miss out on what matters most.

Be sure to connect with Krista online because she’s fabulous!
Facebook | Website | Twitter