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Aquifer ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on August 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)





By Jonathan Friesen

Truth lies just below the surface....

Water is a scarcity in 2250, and for generations one family alone has known the path to the only source of water.  The water lies deep below the surface guarded by a mutated race of beings known as Water Rats. This is Luca's destiny - to become the next Deliverer.

Emotion is forbidden.  Art is illegal.  Freedom is outlawed. Possession of books is unheard of.  And to break the law is to risk being undone!

One the day that Luca turns 16, something goes wrong and the role of Deliverer falls on him before he is ready.  The secret that Luca carries in his head is the only hope for a world that depends on the annual negotiations for water.  Having never completed this trip into the unknown except in his mind Luca struggles to control his fears as his world is about to come undone.  With time running out can Luca find the Aquifer before the world above falls into chaos?

The world of the Water Rats is something that Luca's father never told him about and nothing prepares him for the unknown world that he is about to enter.  But someone wants the knowledge that Luca guards and they will do anything to get it.  Relying on the help of new acquaintances and a inner Voice Luca is in a race against time and the Amongus to keep the water flowing to the world of the Toppers.

Aquifer is page turning excitement that you won't want to put down.  Not only will you want to re-read it again, but you'll want to share it with all your friends!  Add it to your want to read list today, you won't regret the time you spent reading it.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Blink / Zondervan through Z Street Team in exchange for my honest review.

About Aquifer:

In the year 2250, a ruling class controls the entire world by controlling the only source of hydration, buried deep underground—and they also control the flow of knowledge. While the Wise Ones can monitor the Topper world above and the “Water Rat” mines below, there’s one boy they can’t watch, and he has the passion and knowledge to find a crucial prophecy and potentially change the world.






Ever After ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 30, 2013 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)




Ever After

By Vicki Courtney

Life lessons learned in my castle of chaos...

Ever After takes a look at marriage and the ever after after you say I do.  We live under a delusion that we will have a happily ever after just like in a Disney fairy tale, but how many Disney tales show the ever after after The End.  One assumes it's happily.  Or is it?

Our modern culture has idolized the wedding at the expense of the marriage.  What comes after the I do's is more important than the perfect dress or the rehearsal dinner.  If your marriage isn't built on a foundation of friendship you will have problems.

Chapter 2 opens with a quote from C.S. Lewis that everyone should take to heart. "A woman's heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her." Don't you just love that sentiment.  Marriage should be not a union of two but of three.

But Ever After isn't all serious though there are some serious topics discussed throughout.  There are some humorous moments as the author takes you through her trials-and-errors as both and wife and mother.  I think a picture my mom had when my sisters and I were little would be a good motto that would fit in with this book.  Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow, for children grow-up we've learned to our sorrow.  

This sentiment is apt for both marriage and parenting.  Don't be everything to everybody except your family.  Make an investment at the beginning of your Ever After so that you will have an Ever After in your future.  Take and make time for you and your spouse, don't put it off until later.  Your marriage should not revolve around your children.  It is not "of the children, by the children, and for the children."  The foundation is the marriage and if it is not maintained and shored up it will crumble.  This isn't to say that you should ignore your children, but don't focus on your children to the exclusion of your marriage.  Your identity should be more than the parent of so-and-so, you are also a husband or wife. 

I loved reading about Vicki's cooking adventures and last minute school projects with her children.  And her thoughts on Proverbs 31 are enlightening no matter how many times you've delved into the virtuous woman.

Ever After is the tool you need to add happily to your ever after.

I was provided a copy of this book by Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairytales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after.

The problem is, the fairytales and chick flicks end where real life begins. We never see that follow-up scene where the prince and princess argue at 3 a.m. over who will get up with the colicky newborn. Or the princess reluctantly returns to work to help pay the bills and feels the stress of juggling work and family. And you certainly won’t see that part where the princess moves her last child into the dorm and realizes the bulk of her identity has been based on being a mother.

The truth is, marriage and motherhood are hard. Few of us are prepared to handle the balancing act of being a good wife and a good mother, without one or the other getting the short end of the stick. No matter how much we give or how hard we try, we never quite feel like it’s enough. And heaven help us, we always imagine every one else is doing a much better job.

In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairytale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.

The Brotherhood Conspiracy ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)




The Brotherhood Conspiracy: A Novel
by Terry Brennan

When peace seems within the realm of possibility in the Middle East, a earthquake rocks Jerusalem.  The resulting shock waves could destroy the fledgling beginnings of a peace treaty signed mere days before.  Behind the scenes the Muslim Brotherhood, the Mossad, and the US government each pursue their own agendas to thwart or stabilize the peace initiative.  Control of the Temple Mount and the scroll and mezzah could determine the fate of the world.

What follows is an exciting and intense race to discover the truth about what truth is hidden on the mezuzah that protected Abiathar's scroll for all those centuries.

A search for the Tent of Meeting in pivotal in the this desperate bid to control the Temple Mound.  But there is a personal hatred behind the Brotherhood's efforts.

The cost is high and it will be personal as the team that found the Third Temple is called on to act.  But they are given no choice in the matter as they and those they hold dear again become targets of the Prophet's Guard.  But more than Israel and the Middle East are at stake - the world is the ultimate prize.  God's hand is is directing them if they can only trust Him to lead them to the truth in time.

The Brotherhood Conspiracy is excitement and intrigue combined with loss.  Reading this one has to ask how far would I go to get to the truth?  When would I say the cost is too high?   The ending sets the reader up for a third book and I for one can't wait!

I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.

About the book:



Tom Bohannon's discovery of an ancient scroll led him on an international adventure and through mysteries of faith and politics, ending in a place not even he could imagine: the Third Temple of God hidden under Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But soon after his remarkable discovery, the future of the world changed again. Tom watched as a chasm tore apart Temple Mount, as new rivers swept through the Kidron Valley and into the streets of Old Jerusalem, their discovery swallowed by an earthquake, crushed under tons of stone and debris. A biblical prophecy realized. The final days were upon them.








Wondering how to recover from such a momentous find and such horrendous destruction, Tom's adventures are not over. No one knows how much time is left in these last days--a year? A hundred years? A thousand? Plagued by murderous dreams, Tom fears members of the Prophet Guard--killers who wear the Coptic cross with a lightning bolt slashing through it--are back and looking for him. But they are not the only threat to Tom and his team. Forces behind the Arab Spring have sinister plans. And underestimating their determination would be a fatal mistake.







The same fast-paced, page-turning prose that readers loved in The Sacred Cipher is back in Terry Brennan's eagerly awaited sequel, The Brotherhood Conspiracy.



Misery Loves Company ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 21, 2013 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Misery Loves Company

By Rene Gutteridge

Let this book be a warning for all blogging book reviewers - the author may be following you!

When Juliet "Jules" Belleno reviews her favorite author's latest book she gives it a less than glowing review.  She tells the author she wants him to terrify her with his writing and not tell her it is a terrifying situation.

All too soon Patrick Reagan is terrifying Jules and not through his writing.  For some reason he has kidnapped her and taken her away to his remote mountain cabin.  But will anyone even notice that she is missing?  In the two years since her husband's death Jules for the most part withdrew from the world.  Living in the safety of her home and the life she created for herself through her blog and Facebook, only her father might know that she was missing.

Patrick insists that there is something that Jules needs to know, but only when she is ready.  But when will Jules be ready to learn what this obviously disturbed man wants her to know?

When Jules's father reports her missing the Wissberry police force can't take action because she hasn't been gone long enough.  But Sergeant Chris Downey takes the report seriously after all he promised his former partner that he'd take care of his wife if anything ever happened.  But when Chris's unofficial investigation turns up more than he ever expected he all too soon realizes that more than Jules's life is at stake.

Misery Loves Company is an exciting page turner that will do just what Jules Belleno wanted - you will be terrified.  This is a story of growth both on a personal level and a spiritual level as several of the main characters come to realize their need for God.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through their blogger network in exchange for my honest review of it.




Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.

Filled with grief, Jules Belleno rarely leaves the house since her husband’s death while on duty as a police officer. Other than the reviews Jules writes on her blog, she has little contact with the outside world.

But one day when she ventures out to the local grocery store, Jules bumps into a fellow customer . . . and recognizes him as her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. Jules gushes and thoroughly embarrasses herself before Regan graciously talks with her.

And that’s the last thing she remembers—until she wakes up in a strange room with a splitting headache. She’s been kidnapped. And what she discovers will change everything she believed about her husband’s death . . . her career . . . and her faith.

Dolled Up to Die ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)




Dolled Up to Die

The Cate Kinkaid Files #2

By Lorena McCourtney

When Cate Kinkaid of Belmont Investigations receives a frantic phone call from a woman who has just stumbled upon a triple homicide, Cate is about to be caught up in yet another murder investigation, even though Belmont Investigations didn't handle murders - at least according to Uncle Joe.  Cate finds herself in hilariously ridiculous situation just as she did in Dying to Read.

With the help (or more accurately rescuing) of boyfriend Mitch, Cate is on the case of the doll murderer and a real murderer who may be the same person or any number of possible suspects.  There's an ex-wife, the new current wife, the mother-in-law, the vineyard manager, the new wife's ex-husband, or an unknown murderer running loose in Eugene, Oregon and Cate is determined to find him, unless it is a her!

Cate is a humorously inept investigator who somehow manages to solve the crime, though escapes through upstairs windows and burning buildings seem to play a prominent role in her cases.

Adding to the fun, Cate is a substitute bridesmaid whose hair doesn't fit the color scheme of the wedding. And the murders are connected to the wedding venue.

Cate Kinkaid is the perfect distraction to a hot summer afternoon.  Enjoy a good laugh when Cate's briefcase is stolen and when Octavia turns Cate's very important wedding accessory into a new plaything. Though she sometimes jumps to conclusions before she should Cate is someone you want on your side whether as a friend or an investigator.

Take a break from your day-to-day routine and join Cate as she solves the crime and saves the day!   A perfect book to share with your best reading friend!

I was provided a copy of this book by Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Available July 15, 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.







Cate's not sure just what she expected . . . but she knows it certainly wasn't this.

When Cate Kinkaid receives a frantic call about a triple homicide, she drives to the scene against her better judgment--aren't triple homicides more up the police department's alley?--only to find that the victims are not quite who she expects. Now she has a new rule to add to everything she's learned in her short stint as an assistant private investigator: always find out if the victims have human DNA. Because these three do not.

But who would shoot this nice lady's dolls? What possible reason could the shooter have? And then there's the startling discovery of another victim, who definitely does have human DNA . . .

With tension that is matched only by humor, Dolled Up to Die is the exciting second book in Lorena McCourtney's Cate Kinkaid Files. You won't find a place to stop and take a breath in this fast-paced story.

Lorena McCourtney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Dying to Read, Invisible (which won a Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded. She resides in Oregon.



Dragonwitch ~ Sneak Peek and Giveaway

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 15, 2013 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)




Welcome to the Dragonwitch Blog Tour!

Due to all I have to offer you I've broken my Tour offering into two posts.  You are on the Sneak Peek / Giveaway post.

There are two(2) giveaways: the first is for one copy of Dragonwitch and  the second is for the entire blog tour and is for a copy of the entire 5 book Tales of Goldstone Wood (Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch)!

You know you want to get a glimpse of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's latest Goldstone Wood foray and thanks to her generosity you can take a sneak peek today!

Are you ready?









Here it is a Sneak Peek from:











By Anne Elisabeth Stengl



The cat padded confidently, tail high and ears perked, down a certain path in the Wood Between, which grew in the strange, predominantly timeless stretch of existence separating the Far World from the Near. It wasn’t really a Wood, or not entirely a Wood. Indeed, the more the cat trod the various highways and byways beneath the trees’ long shadows, the more he suspected the Wood was itself a living consciousness, possibly many living consciousnesses all bundled into one. Some of those consciousnesses were pleasant enough sorts. More were cheeky devils, and the rest downright wicked.

The Wood would twist a person up and turn him round and flip him inside out if given half a chance. This the cat knew for certain.

But as long as one walked a path—a known, safe path belonging to a known, safe master—there was little the Wood could do to interfere.

So the cat remained firmly upon his particular path, scarcely looking to the right or the left. The Wood was always shifting around him in any case, and he did not expect to see familiar landmarks, or at least not in familiar places. That boulder shaped like a rabbit’s head, for instance, had been a good mile or two back up the way when he’d been here last. And that tree which last time had been split right down the middle as though by a bolt of lightning was mostly mended now, the trunk knitting itself back together with threads of green ivy and pins of stout branches.

No, landmarks were of little use to the cat. He was interested only in the gates.

He approached one of these now. To any mortal eye, it would look like nothing more than a thick cluster of bamboo standing incongruously in the middle of a fir grove. The firs were newcomers; the bamboo, however, remained ever in place.

The cat sniffed at it, his pink nose twitching delicately. Then he put out a paw and touched one of the slender green stalks. It swayed under that slight pressure but sprang firmly back into place when the cat removed his paw.

“Good,” said the cat. “Still locked.”

Just as he’d expected it to be.

He continued on his way.

There were several hundred such gates to be checked on this patrol through the Wood Between; soft places, so to speak, in the fabric of reality. Places where those of the Far World could all too easily slip into the Near, wreaking havoc on delightful mortal disbelief in Faerie tales and magic. Thus they must be locked. And those locks must be carefully guarded. So the cat patrolled this stretch of the Wood, following the path of his liege lord and checking all the gates.

Sometimes it still surprised him.

For one thing, he’d never much cared for mortals and their problems. Immortal himself, he had spent countless ages of cheerful existence never once considering those who lived beyond the Between in the time-bound realm.

And yet here he was. A knight. A defender of the weak, as it were. A minister of truth, advocate of justice, and who knew what other nonsense no self-respecting cat ever wanted to be!

The cat shook his whiskers as he continued his trek. The path opened up before him with each step, and the trees and ferns and underbrush drew back to make way. He tested another gate and another after that. All locked. All safe.

The fact was, he admitted to himself, he could no longer claim to be entirely indifferent to mortals.

“Dragons blast it,” he muttered. “I warned you, didn’t I, Eanrin? Get involved, and you’ll find yourself caring. Then there’s no end to the mischief!” He flattened his ears at this thought. He could blame no one but himself for his present circumstances, however. He had chosen this lot. Or he thought he had. Often he felt a little unclear on that score.

Often he felt that knighthood had been chosen for him against all his best efforts.

A certain smell tugged at the cat’s nose. Or rather, not a smell, but an unknown sensation whispering to an unknown sense, earnest and quiet and dangerous.

At first the cat ignored it. But within a few more paces, it had strengthened until his nose twitched and his tail flicked and his whole cattish being could no longer deny what he was sensing. He could only hope he was mistaken.

“But when has that ever happened?” he asked himself, with typical feline shortness of memory.

He turned and, stepping carefully, pursued a small path opening itself to him off his regular track. Very soon he found what he’d expected.

“Light of Lumé,” he growled then sighed heavily. “Not another one.”

Before him lay a circle of white stones shining out brightly against a bed of dark moss. Even a mortal might have recognized it for a Faerie Circle.

The cat recognized a new gate beginning to open.

From this position, he could not tell exactly where it opened to. It could be anywhere in the Near World. It wasn’t completely formed yet, he knew that much for certain. And, if precautions were taken, it might never fully form.

One way or another, it would have to be added to his regular patrol. An unguarded gate was a dangerous gate.

“Where do you lead, I wonder?” the cat mused, sniffing each of the circling stones in turn. Then he hissed and drew back sharply, his nose filled with the aroma of caorann berries. They littered the ground around the Faerie circle, dozens of them, squashed and stamped flat among the stones so that the moss was stained with their juices. No caorann trees grew in this vicinity that the cat could recall. Which meant someone had carried the berries here purposefully.

Caorann trees were known for one specific quality: their ability to unravel enchantments.

The perfume of the berries was very light, but once it entered the nostrils, it didn’t easily let go. The cat sat for a while grooming his face as though he could somehow push the smell out of his nose with one white paw. As he groomed, he thought.

Someone had been working enchantments here. Someone whose smell was now hidden by the caorann, all traces of enchantment dispersed. Everyone knew that knights of Farthestshore patrolled this particular stretch of the Wood, and someone wanted to disguise nefarious doings.

The cat finished grooming and sat quite still, his paws placed delicately before him, his plume of a tail sweeping gently back and forth and collecting squashed berry hulls. His eyes were mostly closed so that one might assume he dozed, but the thin membrane of his third eyelid remained open as he studied the setting from behind long, cattish lashes.

He came to a sudden decision and stood. Trotting back to his regular path, he hurried on to the closest gate. This appeared to mortal eyes like a pair of young trees with unusually large and twisted roots twining together in vegetable affection.

With a slight shiver of his whiskers, the cat stepped between these two trees and into another world.









Aren't you just tantalized by this little glimpse into Dragonwitch?




And it only gets better!





To read my review of Dragonwitch and my interview with Anne Elisabeth Stengl click here.

Now that you have been tantalized you can enter for a chance to win a copy of Dragonwitch.  Open to US residents only due to the cost of shipping.  Enter daily July 15 - July 22 to gain more entries!



Be sure to visit ALL the tour stops:




July 14 - Day 1
























July 15 - Day 2

























July 16 - Day 3






















July 17 


Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!



 Be sure to enter the 5 book Giveaway hosted by author Anne Elisabeth Stengl across the tour:









Dragonwitch ~ Review with Interview

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to the Dragonwitch Blog Tour!

Due to all I have to offer you I've broken my Tour offering into two posts.  You are on the Review ~ Interview / Giveaway post.  There are two(2) giveaways: the first is for one copy of Dragonwitch and  the second is for the entire blog tour and is for a copy of the entire 5 book Tales of Goldstone Wood (Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch)!


Tales of Goldstone Wood #5

Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Dragonwitch is yet another enchanting excursion into Goldstone Wood.  The opening starts with the Legend of the Brothers Ashiun

which gave me the same thrill of beauty that I felt when I read The Silmarillion by Tolkien.  There is an awe that this opening legend imparts that is hard to describe with words and its touches the very heart of one's soul!

Dragonwitch is two stories in one.  The first story is of the Brothers Ashuin - Etanun and Akilun  and the Flame at Night.  The second story belongs to Alastair, Leta, the Chronicler, and Mouse.  But these two stories are essential to each other because without one you won't fully grasp the other.

Alastair of Geheris is destined to become king of the North Country and the Lady Leta is to become his wife.  But Alastair is haunted and hunted in his sleep by the face of a child.  What can the meaning of his recurring dream mean?   While Alastair struggles through his unwanted lessons under his uncle's Chronicler, Leta secretly seeks out the knowledge that Alastair disdains.  The lessons the two pursue are steeped in the legends and nursery tales surrounding the House of Light and the Brothers Ashiun.  If there any truth to the prophecy regarding the rising of a heir who will claim the long lost sword of Etanun?  

When Eanrin comes upon evidence that someone or something is attempting to force open a new death-house gate he becomes alarmed and warns Imraldera to keep an extra watch over the gate while he is away. But when the Murderer comes upon Imraldera in Eanrin's absence the gate is allowed to open and goblins pour into Geheris.  

The goblins search and dismantle the castle in search of a prize for their Queen Vartera.  The king-to-be is the key to goblins quest.  But the King-to-be is who Eanrin needs to save Imraldera.  But how can the future king of the North Country be in two different places at once.  Torn between duty, desire, fear, and feelings he can't explain the heir of Geheris and Etanun is about to embark on a life altering journey that could cost him his very life. 

Dragonwitch is a story of disappointment, sacrifice, betrayal, love lost and love found.  It is a story of new beginnings and lost dreams.  There are lessons for both the characters and the reader.  When we rely upon our senses we are restrained in how we view the world around because we see through preconceived perceptions.  We judge others on appearance, but the true measure of a person is who they are in their spirit.  

Dragonwitch won't disappoint and you'll want to revisit it again (as is the case with all the Tales of Goldstone Wood books) while you await Shadow Hand.  

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.



7721_133549311830_623396830_3040333_1407935_n.jpgAuthor bio




Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University.




Interview with Anne Elisabeth Stengl




1) When there is mention of the Song of the Spheres do you have a song that comes to mind?  If so is it something grand or is soft and simple?




In my head, the Song of the Spheres is actually many songs, depending on who is hearing it. So sometimes it might be grand, sometimes soft.




The Song of the Spheres is an important theme in Dragonwitch, especially right at the final climactic scene. A few days before writing that scene, while mulling over how I would handle it, a song came on the radio that moved me to tears, it was so perfect, I thought: Gustav Holst’s Jupiter Theme (




My husband thinks of a different song, however. He says the perfect song would be a theme from the TV show Doctor Who: “The Ood Song of Freedom.” ( It’s a pretty neat option too! I think it’s safe to say it’s open to interpretation, though.


2) Etanun and Akilun: What was your inspiration for these two brothers?

100_3757.jpgWow, you know, it’s been so long since I started writing about them, I don’t even remember what the original inspiration was! I was sixteen, maybe seventeen when they first began featuring in the short stories I was writing about Goldstone Wood then. I remember specifically one epic story in which they traveled into the Netherworld to face a wicked red dragon who was poisoning the river flowing beneath the Mortal World. While that story has not yet made it into the series as it stands now, it was, I believe, the first story I wrote about the two brothers, and it even inspired a large illustration . . . which, while a little amateur, proved enough to get me an art scholarship to the college of my choice!

 So, I suppose I owe Etanun and Akilun a bit of a debt. LOL.

3) Death-in-Life is an ominous name, yet seems appropriate for this character.  Why this character?

This character is the counterpoint to his sister, Life-in-Death. Life-in-Death was directly inspired from a character in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” In the poem, the titular ancient mariner spies the phantom Life-in-Death gambling with Death for the lives of the crew . . . and it is she who wins the mariner himself.

I was so inspired and chilled by that scene, that I began developing my own riff on that character. And her brother became Death-in-Life, the Dragon—both her opposite and her completion. The Dragon has gone on to take a more prominent role in recent stories, but his sister will return in all her dreadful glory soon enough.

4) Alistair and Leta seem so different from one another.  Where Alistair scorns his lessons, Leta seeks lessons.  Why do you think some seek out knowledge while others do everything to avoid it?

I think Alistair is more afraid of being made to feel stupid than Leta is. Both of them started learning when older, which is much, much more difficult than growing up learning it. But Alistair sees reading and studying as a binding that keeps him from real life . . . Leta, by contrast, sees reading as her escape into a life far bigger than anything she has ever before known.

Personally, I don’t judge or blame Alistair for his attitude. It is difficult enough to learn a new skill without enduring cynical remarks from a short-tempered teacher such as the Chronicler! And he didn’t need reading to make his life broader and more complete. Leta needed it. Desperately, desperately needed it.

(And, seriously, the Chronicler is nowhere near so short-tempered with her!)

5) The old scrubber seems to have an inkling of what Alistair is experiencing in his dreams?  Why is this?

Well, the Scrubber knows a lot more about the workings of the worlds than anyone else in Gaheris Castle. And he has, I do not doubt, traveled himself into the Realm of Dreams, beyond the borders of the Wood Between. So he would have little to no trouble discerning what was going on inside Alistair’s head. Plus, it is implied that he is gifted with foresight and prophecy. He might even know directly what is coming for Alistair.

6) Where did you discover the Chronicler?  He seems to have a wisdom that Leta needs, especially when he tells her that she shouldn't listen to the lies that say the inner shape of the spirit is determined by the body's outer shape.







The Chronicler is another character, like Akilun and Etanun, whom I have toyed around with in short-story form for years . . . but he didn’t become the character he is now until late into the process of drafting Dragonwitch! I tried multiple variations on the theme, usually calling him by his true name. But when I started calling him simply “The Chronicler,” I learned a truth about him. He defines himself by his role. He sees his worth as existing only in his abilities, and so he doesn’t even bother with a name. He rejects himself as much as anyone else does. That was when he began to take on life as a real character!


I think this is why the Chronicler has such insight into Leta. He knows that he has defined himself by what others see, that he has allowed himself to be shaped and molded according to other people’s expectations. And he hates this about himself. But it is much easier to see your own faults in another person. So while he has so much wisdom and insight into Leta’s own character, he also needs her to point out the same in him.

Ultimately, he is not the stronger of the two. They are equally bound and equally in need of liberation.

7) In a conversation between Leta and the Chronicler we are told in summary "Belief cannot change the truth."  Why do you feel so many of your characters (and people for that matter) feel that what they believe is the truth even if it is obvious that the truth they cling to isn't truth?



People don’t like to be challenged in their worldview, in the comfortable little fortresses of belief in which they have shielded themselves. And I include myself in that statement! It is terrifying to have one’s beliefs challenged, to have to begin considering the possibility of other truths. In Dragonwitch, we see this reflected in a number of different characters as they are challenged in their faith, in their beliefs, in their understanding of truth. And yet the truth itself never does change. It forms the foundations beneath their feet, whether or not they can see it.




8) In the Tales of Goldstone Wood do you have a favourite book and a favourite cover?  If so what are they and why?




My favourite book is always the one I just finished writing. So that means Shadow Hand is my favourite just now, though I’m sure it will be supplanted by Book 7 in just another few months. 

My favourite cover . . . hmmm, that’s a little harder. I love most of them for different reasons. I love how both Heartless and Veiled Rose so perfectly fit their stories. I love the beauty of Starflower, which makes my very girly side go, “SQUEAL!” In a good way, mind you. I love the menace of Dragonwitch, which appeals to a different range of readers, particularly the male audience.




But I have to say, I think the new cover, Shadow Hand’s cover, might be my favourite. It’s so beautiful and there are many little details from the story represented. It’s just fabulous and fairy tale and wonderful! I have been blessed by the talented art team at Bethany House, who never fail to surprise and impress me.





Check-out the Sneak Peek/Excerpt of Dragonwitch along with a chance to win a copy of Dragonwitch here.

Now that you have been tantalized you can enter for a chance to win a copy of Dragonwitch.  Open to US residents only due to the cost of shipping.  Enter daily July 15 - July 22 to gain more entries!



Be sure to visit ALL the tour stops:





14 - Day 1

























15 - Day 2


























16 - Day 3






















July 17 



Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales

of Goldstone Wood!



 Be sure to enter the Giveaway hosted by author Anne Elisabeth Stengl across the tour:


Madeline's Protector ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Madeline's Protector

By Vanessa Riley

Madeline St. James and Justain Delveaux, Lord Devonshire are brought together through a misunderstanding/mistaken identity and an attempt on one of their lives.  But when Madeline takes a bullet that could cost her her life, Justain does what is necessary to save for life.

But Justain's act of heroism could cost Maddie her reputation.  When Justain agrees to marry Maddie can this marriage that is in name only ever be anything more than a source of heartbreak for Maddie?

But Maddie is determined to be a true helpmate for her husband and to win his heart for Christ.  But the man who almost ended their lives before will stop at nothing to end them.  But Justain has sworn to be Madeline's protector as he is the reason that she has come to the attention of his greatest enemy.

But when the pair go to Avington - the estate of the St. James, Madeline's father and stepmother could destroy the fragile beginnings of a true relationship that are just beginning between the two.

Madeline's Protector is an exciting foray into the Regency period, with change and unrest coming to England.  Justain is a quandary, a man who is searching for fulfillment in his life.  Caring for the downtrodden and yet determined to have his word obeyed without question.  A man of honor who at time feels as if he has nothing of worth in himself.  Madeline has a great faith and she relies on this to help her in this marriage and in helping her new husband discover his true worth in the sight of God.  But is her faith enough to sustain her in the unexpected position she now finds herself in?

If you're a fan of Regency, Historical English Fiction, and Romance you're in for a treat as this delightful book wraps all three up between two covers.  Hopefully Vanessa will revisit Madeline and Justain sometime in the future with a sequel!

I was provided a copy of this book by the author Vanessa Riley and in exchange for my honest review of Madeline's Protector.

About Madeline's Protector :























If all the young men of England leapt off a cliff, Madeline St. James wouldn't care. Then she'd have peace. Her nightmares of courtship would end,and she'd cozy up with a Psalm in her aunt's quiet sculpture garden. Yet, a chance meeting and a bullet wound change everything, and Madeline must trust the Good Shepherd has led her to the altar to marry a dashing stranger, Lord Devonshire.



Death and pain are no strangers to Justain Delveaux, Lord Devonshire, and he vows his dutiful bride will be kept safe and in her place. Though this compromised marriage is in-name-only, his wife and her unwavering faith both intrigue and allure him. Perchance when he thwarts his brother's killer, Justain will tempt the unpredictable Madeline with the comfort of his arms.




But can Madeline and the stubborn earl forge a true bond before the next disaster strikes?







About Vanessa Riley







Writer of Christian Regency Fiction




The Regency and Victorian eras have always been a magnetizing draw for Vanessa Riley.  Even as she worked to complete her doctorate in Mechanical Engineering , she made time for renaissance fairs and any novel or cinematographic work depicting these genteel societies of old.  Perhaps, the attraction arises from the kinship she feels with the period being brought up in the restrictive Southern Bible Belt with its stringent definitions of decent behavior and life expectations. 




Perhaps the common denominator to this appeal is her own thirty day Christian courtship or even the arranged marriages of her uncles; each is emblematic of the nuptials of those earlier times.




A technology muse like Dr. Vanessa Riley is probably not the immediate choice to write about haute ton English society set in the 1800's.  With her most recent published work being “Reducing Deformation by Phase Manipulation,” the common visceral reaction is that Providence has given another mule a voice to tell His story.  Nevertheless, this mule uses her determined spirit and dogmatic tenacity to discover the hidden nuances of a character making him believable, her human and both ready to be used of God.




The Runaway King ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on July 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)






The Runaway King




By Jennifer A. Neilsen







Sage now Jaron has been recognized as the true heir to the throne.  But the threats against his life have been renewed when he attacked in the garden on the night of his family’s funeral.  The Avenian pirates have threatened to go to war with Carthya unless Jaron turns himself over to the Roden and the pirates in 10 days in Isel and he releases Bevin Conner.  King Vargan has threatened to go to war with Carthya unless Jaron turn over Carthyan land.








With his regents determined to put a steward on the throne in his stead, Jaron is left with few options to protect Carthya.  With his regents threatening to 1) place a steward on the throne until he comes of age and 2) send him into hiding Jaron is faced with a decision that will decide the fate of his rule and that of Carthya   When Jaron is left with the feeling that he is missing something  when he confronts Connor in the dungeon he sets out to find the pirates and stop them and Devlin before it is too late.  But time is short as the pirates have given him 10 days and the regents will act within 9.  Is there enough time to secure his position and to save those he holds dear?








Who can Jaron trust with the truth of what he has planned?  Mott?  Tobias?  Princess Amarinda?  Kerwyn the high chamberlain?  Gregor captain of the guard?  Can one of these people who are within his inner circle truly be trusted with information that could cost Jaron his life and how is he to know?








The Runaway King takes up where The False Prince left us and this is one sequel that won’t disappoint!  Action, sacrifice, betrayals and Jaron being yet again a fool – The Runaway King has it all.








The ending will leave you wanting more and is an excellent set up for the third book in the Ascendance Trilogy. 


Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales ~ Review

Posted by bloomingwithbooks on June 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)




Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales

By Randy Singer

A decision made 15 years ago is now bearing fruit...

When a politically expedient decision cost a young woman her life but saved face for both the CIA and the United States a series of events is set into motion as someone vows to make those responsible for this decision pay for it.

Landon Reed made some poor choices when he was in college, choices that earned him time in prison.  But this time changed his life and the Bible study that Mason James lead brought him to Christ and a desire to become a lawyer.

But the point shaving scandal that Landon involved himself in has tainted him in the eyes of all the law firms that could hire him until Harry McNaughten gives him a chance to prove himself at McNaughtn and Clay.  But what seemed like an unbelievable chance soon becomes a nightmare as the firms lawyers start being killed in what seem, at first, to random coincidence.

While Landon tries to launch his career, his wife Kerri is given the opportunity of a lifetime.  She is given access to a private security firm that works unofficially for the U.S. government.  Could this be the break into the big news broadcast network market that she has dreamed about?  As Kerri and Landon struggle to define their roles and their marriage someone is about to put a stumbling block in their path.

As these seemingly random events start to converge, is there something that ties into the case that Landon is defending.  Something that Harry discovered before his murder?  And if there is a commonality can Landon discover what it is before his life is cut short too?

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales is another page turning legal suspense from Randy Singer.  There are twists and turns that will keep you guessing and wondering who did it until the very end.  With character who are deeply flawed and with secrets to hide you will be able to connect with these very true-to-life individuals and perhaps even see yourself in a small part of them as well.

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales will make you take a long hard look at your own life and wonder if you have misplaced the priorities of your own life.  This a whodunit with meat to it!

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for honest review.

Want get glimpse at the book?  Check out the Chapter One excerpt.




Author video(s)Author Video and Book Trailer

Randy Singer’s website:















Author Q and A





1. What was your inspiration for this book, Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales?

Two things worked together to inspire this book. First, the scandals that rocked college football in the last few years. Have you ever noticed that when a player gets in trouble and is kicked off a team or sent to prison, we never hear from him again? What happens to him? Are there some inspirational stories of redemption out there? Do these young men ever discover a meaningful life beyond football?

Second was a friend of mine with a real-life story of redemption. He had committed a felony as a college student but had become a believer while serving his time. Everyone who knew the man verified that his life had dramatically changed while in prison. He was not just a model prisoner, but he became a spiritual leader and a catalyst for change in others as well.  

When he was released from jail, he went to law school, where he was respected by all his peers and professors. After graduation, he applied for a license to practice law. His dramatic turnaround raised societal questions about the restoration of rights for those who have served their time and demonstrated that they’ve changed.

That’s when the what-ifs started happening. What if a college quarterback got caught up in a point shaving scandal in a major football conference like the SEC? What if he went to jail and turned his life 

around? What if that man became a lawyer determined to prove his integrity and loyalty to the firm that

hired him? And what if somebody had a vendetta against that firm and started killing its lawyers one by 

one? That’s where this book started—on a football field, in a courtroom, in a small and dysfunctional law 

firm in Virginia Beach (not mine—the one in the book!), a firm that believed in giving a changed man a 

second chance, a firm fighting for its very life. 

2. Tell me about your main character, Landon Reed. Was his character based upon anyone in particular?

As I explained in response to the previous question, the inspiration for Landon Reed came from a real-life 

friend. That man showed me how much someone can truly change while incarcerated and how hard it can 

be to rebuild a life with a felony conviction. But he also demonstrated that, by God’s grace, it can be done. 

He became the inspiration for my protagonist, Landon Reed, and for that I am deeply in his debt.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?

I once heard a well-known Hollywood scriptwriter say that the two themes shown to most resonate with 

moviegoers were stories of redemption and forgiveness. It made me realize that God has planted an 

attraction for the themes of the gospel deep in our hearts. 

Landon Reed’s life is a quest for redemption and forgiveness. Most of his former teammates have spurned 

him, but one of his offensive linemen stuck with him throughout his entire ordeal. That man plays a major 

role in this story. As a former quarterback, it was fun describing the “band of brothers” relationship 

between a quarterback and the members of his offensive line. 

There’s also the question of how much society forgives someone who has been convicted of a serious 

crime. What roles are off-limits afterward? Should somebody who has committed a felony be allowed to 

practice law?

It’s fascinating to see how some athletes “earn” redemption after significant scandals, provided they can 

perform better than before. But what about those former athletes who never make it back into the 

game? How does a man like Landon obtain forgiveness and redemption for what he has done? 

For Landon, earning redemption means proving his loyalty. When Landon went to prison, his girlfriend 

was pregnant with their first child. She waited for him while he served his time. She became Mrs. Landon 

Reed as soon as he was released. But this young couple faces unbelievable challenges to their marriage 

when Landon is willing to risk the safety of his family to prove his loyalty to the only firm that would take 

a chance on him. 

Lawyers at the firm start dying, and a sensible man would run as far and fast as possible. But Landon is 

tired of running. And sometimes a quest for redemption makes a man anything but sensible. Driven to be 

a hero, Landon has to decide whether he is willing to sacrifice his own family in his quest for redemption. 

4. How do you expect Landon’s story to resonate with your readers?




All of us have mistakes in our past that haunt us. One of my favorite verses is Joel 2:25a: “I will restore to 

you the years that the swarming locust has eaten . . .

This is ultimately the story of how God can use our greatest mistakes and turn them into something 

redemptive. The first step, of course, is taking responsibility for our actions, facing into them, and owning 

them. I think we will all see a little bit of ourselves in Landon Reed. 

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?

There is an axiom that writers should write what they know best. I’ve added a corollary: Writers should 

write what they know best and what they love most. That’s what I did with Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales.

The story takes place in the legal community in Virginia Beach. In fact, the law office that Landon joins is in 

the same building where my firm is actually located. How’s that for writing about things you know? 

Moreover, I had some great mentors in the practice of law (I dedicated this book to them), so I gave 

Landon a colorful and affable mentor as well—a crafty old lawyer named Harry McNaughten. 

But ultimately this is a book about what matters most: family relationships, loyalty to our spouses, and 

being changed by our faith. I loved crafting this story not just because it hit close to home but because it’s 

the story of an underdog battling the giants in his life—both those of his own making and those on the 

other side of his cases. And I love underdogs!

When lawyers start dying in Landon’s firm, he finds himself in way over his head with only his faith, his 

family, and his best friend to help him. For me, crafting that type of David and Goliath story never grows 


6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?

My hope is that I’ve raised important issues about redemption, forgiveness, and the power of the gospel 

to change lives. My goal is to entertain readers with a fun and compelling story while they wrestle with 

those issues. But there is also a more subtle thread throughout the story—an allegory for what Christ did 

on our behalf. I hope to surprise readers when that allegory is fully revealed at the end of the book.

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?

Something happened when drafting this story that has never happened to me before. Before I ever start 

writing a book, I put together a very detailed outline of the characters and plot (usually about twenty

pages long). The plot changes and evolves as the story is written, but I always know generally where the 

story is headed. This time, I got about halfway through the book and just ran into a brick wall with the 

plot. No matter how hard I tried to work the angles, I couldn’t seem to pull it all together in a coherent, 

believable, and compelling way. 

I called my editor at Tyndale, Karen Watson, and told her that this story just wouldn’t work. But Karen 

wouldn’t let me quit. Eventually, everything came together in what I hope will be one of my best plots 

ever. This book is a story about persistence in the face of adversity and, providentially, writing the book 

taught me the same thing. 

What have I learned as a storyteller? Sometimes our best stories are the ones we almost give up on. 

Nothing valuable in life comes without a struggle. 

8. Your novels are typically multilayered and keep readers guessing until the end. Would you say that Dead Lawyers Tells No Tales is similarly full of surprises?

I hope it is. I love to throw in enough twists and turns to keep readers off balance. When I read other 

authors, I love to be surprised so long as the author plays fair.

It’s easy to surprise somebody by bringing in some random twist from left field that has nothing to do 

with the story. But that’s not playing fair. My perfect ending is one where the reader says, “Wow! I didn’t 

see that coming, but I should have.” That’s the kind of ending I try to write.

9. Can you share anything about the next project you are working on?

Next Easter, I will be releasing a book that I am more excited about than any other book I have ever 

written. It feels like the book I was born to write. It brings together my roles as pastor, lawyer, and 


The working title of the book is The Advocate. It’s the story of Theophilus, the man to whom Luke 

addressed his Gospel and the book of Acts. My premise is that Theophilus was Paul’s court-appointed 

advocate to represent him in front of Nero, probably the most despised ruler in the history of Rome (and 

that’s saying a lot). Theophilus was chosen because he had served in Judaea as Pilate’s assessore, or law 

clerk, during the trial of Jesus. 

My hope in writing the book is that it might bring to life the stories surrounding the two greatest trials in 

the history of the world. One of those, the trial of Christ, has been studied, dissected, and analyzed more 

than any other trial for the past two thousand years. The other, the trial of Paul in front of Nero, has been 

a great mystery. We only know that Paul was somehow miraculously acquitted and left Rome to serve for 




a short time as a missionary in Spain. Both of these great trials changed the lives of everyone associated 

with them and the trajectory of history. 

It’s a real stretch for me to write historical fiction, especially a book that is so intertwined with the story of 

the gospel. But I am embracing the opportunity. I’ve had a chance to visit Rome and talk to some amazing 

historians. I know for a fact that this is the most challenging and rewarding book I’ve written. My prayer is 

that it might also be the most impactful. 

10. In addition to being an author, you are also a pastor and a lawyer. How do you reconcile those two things, and what skills do they have in common?

Most people think that someone who is both a pastor and a lawyer is an extremely rare bird. In fact, I had

one reader e-mail me and say that she loved my books but that her son said it was impossible for 

somebody to be both a pastor and a lawyer!

That mind-set assumes an artificial barrier between “ministry work” and “secular employment.” In truth, 

everything we do is ministry, and we should do it with all our heart, “as to the Lord, and not unto men”

(Colossians 3:23). My law practice is a ministry just as much as my leadership at the church. 

In both professions, I am meeting people at a point of need and often ministering to them in the biggest 

crises of their lives. To be effective, I need to have a servant’s heart for both my clients and my church 

members. And advocacy is an important skill in both trying a case and preaching the gospel. 

A lot of people forget that Christ’s main method of making a point was through parables. Both pastors 

and lawyers are storytellers in the best sense of that word—not that we make stuff up but that we help 

our listeners enter into the story and become a part of it. 

Come to think of it, I’m surprised there are not more people doing this!