Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Debut Young Adult


Spoken by Melanie Weiss
Young Adult fiction
March 2019 Rosehip Publishing
$7.99 Ebook
$9.99 Print
Buy on Amazon

About the Book:
High school freshman Roman Santi has everything -- good looks, great friends, a mansion with an infinity swimming pool -- except the one thing he really wants. A relationship with his father.

When Roman’s life gets turned upside down, (thanks, Mom!?), he is forced to leave his pampered Hollywood lifestyle and move into his grandparents’ Midwestern home. Sleeping on a lumpy pullout sofa and starting at a new high school is the worst, but Roman’s life starts to look up when his pink-haired friend, Zuzu, and his crush, a classmate named Claire, introduce him to performance poetry through the high school's Spoken Word Club. While his mom is flying back and forth to L.A., trying to return them to the life they had, Roman becomes part of a diverse group of characters who challenge his rather privileged view of the world. Through Spoken Word, Roman recognizes the hole in his own life he needs to fill and discovers his voice. Spoken Word leads Roman on a journey of new friendships, first love, and finding the dad he never knew.

“Spoken” is an uplifting, funny, and heartfelt coming-of-age story that captures how the honesty of performance poetry binds together students from all different walks of life and forever changes Roman’s life.

Weiss’s debut young adult fiction captures the angst and inner workings of a teenager, Roman Santi, whose life is turned from mansion with a housekeeper in LA to sleeping on grandma’s sofa bed with a statue of the Buddha staring at him. The novel is a lovely, refreshingly sweet and poignant story about a kid not warped by society whose goal is to simply live happily ever after, be a friend, find friends, but also to find the father he’s never known. One of my favorite lines is from Roman’s first day at his new school, when he’s challenged by his mother’s over-the-top appearance as a minor movie star in exile: “Welcome to my world, where I’m happy my hippie grandma is the one taking me to school today.”

Everybody knows about being fifteen. Teens suffer amid the transcending moments. Roman finds his transcending moment when a poem and a girl spark his interest and he joins an after-school poetry club. Weiss, a trained journalist, writes what she knows about Midwestern living and the experiences of the Spoken Word movement in high school. She shares about her inspiration for the novel. During the late nineties, when the character Roman was born, Spoken Word was incorporated into the English classroom in Oak Park. Weiss credits this performance writing as a means for students to share their struggles and triumphs. Her character. Roman, found his niche in his program, although he decides not to share his poetry with his family. “The only way I can be real about what I write is if I know I won’t have to explain myself to them,” Roman says. Participating in Spoken Word allows him to uncork his bottle of stuffed feelings about his place in life, his environment, and his upbringing.

 When an opportunity to go to Europe arises from a Spoken Word competition, Roman, with the encouragement of his friend Zuzu, takes a step on a journey to find his father. Roman knows only that his father is a French cruise ship entertainer his mother met the summer they both worked on board. But first he has to earn the right to be part of the poetry team to compete against their London counterparts.

Roman shares his story through first-person present tense narrative, an effective method of bonding the reader to him. Spoken is not one of those in-your-face epic hero journeys. It’s a rare school year peek into contemporary high school freshman year, where the onus to grab life and make meaningful memories in on us. It’s difficult to find comparisons to today’s contemporary YA. Spoken is a finely-tuned story about coming to grips with identity without needing to kill, die, have sex, or do drugs. The cover is an evocative rendering of experiencing not only what you learn, but how you can share it.
Melanie Weiss
About the Author:
I am a member of the Chicago Writers Association and live in Oak Park, IL. As a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, I have worked as a journalist and in marketing. This is my first novel. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

I'll Settle For Love review

I'll Settle for Love (The Trampled Rose #3)
I’ll Settle for Love by Michelle Lynn Brown
Contemporary Inspirational Family Fiction
November, 2013
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Leanne grew up under the steady trickle of the harsh and belittling words of her critical mother, in the shadow of her sisters’ perfection, and under the weight of a dark secret. With her self-confidence all but eroded, and her head hanging down, she is surprised when Mike McKinley notices her. With every kind word, Mike erases a little pain from her past, and for the first time, she feels as if she is standing on firm ground. But seven years into their marriage, she realizes that her foundation is lying on shallow ground. As their marriage and family begin to settle, the cracks appear.
Mike McKinley is a fixer. From cars to people, he is the guy to go to when you have something that needs repair. But when their oldest daughter is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, he is sent into a tail spin. As his daughter is struggling to stay afloat in her world, and his wife is drowning in her insecurities, Mike feels helpless to do anything to save them.
A wide chasm separates their marriage, and storms threaten to send them crashing through the pit. Can Leanne fight her past, her insecurities and her failing faith to discover the difference between settling for the storm, and striving for the rainbow that comes after?

As the summary says, two people fall in love and marry. One of them wears despair so well under a veneer of the perfect wife no one knows she’s suffering, and the other has gotten so good at seeing what he wants to see that he refuses to remove his rose-colored glasses to understand why his wife spends an inordinate amount of time protecting their daughter from life.
Unlike a traditional romance, I’ll Settle for Love is about dealing with what comes after the wedding. Real life takes work, and while Leanne and Mike do have a great relationship and are making it as a family in a middle class world, Leanne’s past is slowly creeping up on her. Mike continues to gloss over the reasons Leanne refuses to spend time with her parents and made him vow to never, ever allow their children unsupervised visits at their home. His own parents more than make up any slack, and it never occurs to Mike that there’s an obvious problem. In fact, any problem that can’t be revealed through a mechanical diagnosis and fixed with a wrench escapes his happy-go-lucky viewpoint. When Leanne’s stepfather dies, the bough breaks and it takes more tears, more loss, and a lot of faith to undo a life of parental damage and remake the family according to God’s plan.
This is in many ways a difficult story, but told with empathetic and sympathetic characters. The end is not completely obvious, and readers will enjoy making their way through the twists. Adult themes make me suggest parental oversight for younger than tenth-grade readers.

Michelle Lynn Brown
About the Author:
When Michelle Lynn Brown was a teenager, her mother used to take her to used books stores at least once a month. It was there she fell in love with the written word. As a writer, she uses this passion to share with others the joy of having a personal and intimate relationship with Christ.

She is a housewife, mother of three, military spouse, writer, blogger, hopeless romantic, and a cuddly lap for one very large cat. She was born in Dayton, Ohio, but raised in El Paso, Texas. And since she married her husband, the military has blessed her with the opportunity to live in many locations, from Germany to Pennsylvania, where she now resides.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Regina Smeltzer and the Light of Logan review

Light of Logan

The Light of Logan by Regina Smeltzer
Contemporary Christian horror
Harbourlight, October, 2018
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Crows are appearing in Logan, South Carolina, and no one knows why. No one except an elderly blind man Mr. Charlie and a timid young agnostic, Ruth Cleveland. When Nate Baxter, falls in love with Ruth, he's unaware she is hiding a secret that threatens his Christianity and will drive him far from her. Will God use this unlikely trio to save the town from an evil never imagined by the residents of Logan?

The occult plays a central part in this marvelously creepy tale of spiritually challenging events revealing the deep-seeded underbelly of animosity in one small town.
Ruth is one of those lost souls that make you want to take her home and feed her and just love her up. She’s been beaten by life but doesn’t seem to know she could just give up and meld into fate. Even when she reaches the point where she’s ready to deal with the devil, circumstances miraculously and weirdly intervene to save her from herself. But for what purpose? Mr. Charlie, the mysterious blind man Ruth met and visits with daily, tries to prepare Ruth for the role only he seems to understand she is called to play.
While I found the character of Nate, Ruth’s love interest, a bit plastic, he plays his role well. Peopled with natural, loving side characters beset by raw evil, The Light of Logan is a story that makes readers wonder what would happen in your community if a law that removed taxation exemptions currently enjoyed by non-profits was enacted.
Recommended for those who like a little night terror with their daily inspiration.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jerusalem Rising: Adah's Journey

Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey by Barbara Britton
Biblical history
Harbourlight, November 2017
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah's unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David. Nehemiah challenges the people of God to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Will her father, who rules a half-district of Jerusalem, be forgotten forever? Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city's wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God's call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same stones they hope to construct?

Beautifully written, well-researched tale of one of the lost eras in the history of the Hebrew nation. Yes, we read about rebuilding the wall in Ezra and Nehemiah, but then begins a dark ages-like time until the Roman occupation. It’s good to know that women went alongside as they were called to do. While Britton doesn’t mean to create a feminist novel here, she does want us to know through lovely fiction that women were not always the paving stones of the biblical world. They had a mission and a voice and real goals. Adah’s Journey is a story of one of these women with a personality and a national sense of duty; a determination to act upon God’s call for her community no matter what misguided men of the society believe of feminine capabilities in opposition to God’s plan.

Adah’s mother encourages Adah and her sister Judith to seek help from an old friend who has gone to live as a hermit outside of the city. This master builder has his own past to deal with and fights rejoining society. Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king, is portrayed as a sympathetic hero who must convince his own people to retake their culture and their faith during a broken time. Fans of biblical fiction will find much to love about this story, one of the Tribes of Israel series. Adah’s Journey is a stand-alone full-length novel.

Barbara M. BrittonAbout the Author:
Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes romantic adventures for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. You can visit Barb online at www.barbarambritton.com or follow her on Facebook and twitter.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Science Fiction The Third Thaw

The Third Thaw

Third Thaw by Karl J Hanson
Young adult futuristic fiction
August 2018
EL Marker, Publisher
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Mankind forced to relocate to a different habitable environment, light years from Earth. A group of young people on a distant planet who must re-establish human civilization. A fantastical yet realistic world based on plausible technological developments. A power-mad egomaniac determined to destroy anyone who gets in his way. This is The Third Thaw, a hard science fiction novel that presents a radically different strategy for planet colonization, one within the grasp of present technologies.
In a settlement called New Eden, live a group of teens known as the Third Thaw. They come from Earth, conceived there and sent as frozen embryos on a rocket ship to this planet twenty-six light years away, a journey that lasted 80,000 years. 
When they reach the age of twenty-one, after being thoroughly and specifically educated for their future tasks, the Third Thaw must leave New Eden to assist with colonizing a larger, permanent settlement on the planet. 
After the First and Second Thaws fail to complete their expedition, it’s up to the Third Thaw to succeed and save civilization.
As the highly-trained expedition party heads out to fulfill their tasks, they encounter life-threatening obstacles in their way, many of which challenged the Thaws that preceded them. 
Not the least of these is a group broken off from a German colony sent from Earth years earlier. This group and their leader, Ulrich, believe they are evolved beyond ordinary humans. 
Ulrich, along with his supercomputer “Genius,” is determined to destroy the Third Thaw. And anyone else who threatens to stop him.

The Third Thaw is an intriguing distant future yet familiar novel that spans several genres, from coming of age to New Adult to mildly science fiction fantasy. The summary explains the story quite well. If you like Lord of the Flies combined with some of Ray Bradbury’s robotic parent-teacher tales, you’ll find The Third Thaw enjoyable. A little rough start with formal language eventually smoothed out into a very nicely written, engaging story. One aspect I was surprised about was that the children raised in New Eden are virtual innocents, not even taught about adult relationships, then expected to go forth and populate their new world, but there were a number of twists that kept me turning pages. The story is an intriguing tale about potential societal development when attempting to start from scratch. I wanted to read this story as I worked on my book, Parhelion, that revolves around a similar theme of starting a new civilization from scratch and was glad to note we each have our own fresh perspective.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring BreakBookapalooza

Spring Break Bookapalooza Website Header

Calling all readers! Spring has sprung and you’re all invited to N. N. Light’s
Daily features from April 1-30

#Celebrate your love of books all month long at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Spring Break Bookapalooza. 56 books, 35 bestselling and award-winning authors, 5 Amazon/B&N gift cards plus author share what they love about #spring and where they’d love to #travel to on their fantasy spring break. Leave your passport and sunscreen at home and join in the fun.

Open Internationally.
56 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following - sign up below:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, Parhelion, will be featured on April 5. I even talk about where I’d go on spring break if money were no option. You won’t want to miss it.

Amazon https://amzn.to/2S0ANVn
BN https://bit.ly/2DvGXHI
Kobo https://bit.ly/2Gs69Tx
Smashwords https://bit.ly/2EwSVCA
Goodreads https://bit.ly/2N2o1Vn

Bookmark this get-together and tell your friends! Enter the raffle below.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Rose Chandler Johnson shares her new romantic fiction

Refuge at Pine Lake: A Pine Haven Novel by [Chandler Johnson, Rose]

Refuge at Pine Lake
Rose Chandler Johnson
Chanson Books
March, 2019
Inspirational Romantic Fiction

$4.99 Ebook
$14.99 Print

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Robin Lancaster, a twenty-six-year-old former kindergarten teacher, has her summer and her life all figured out. She’s ready to be on her own, writing and illustrating her children’s stories at her family’s beloved lake house. Once there, she intends to rekindle a romance with Caleb Jackson, the area’s top hunting and fishing guide, and bag him for herself. Complications arise from the start when Robin finds out her mother has rented the lake house to a man they know nothing about. Matthew McLaughlin, forty-year-old widowed university professor and author from California, shows up at Pine Lake in crisis. A sabbatical might be his only hope to save much more than his career. He needs a place of refuge. Sharing the lake house with a lighthearted young woman and her dog is the last thing on his mind. Caleb Jackson has his own plans. He’s used to things going his way, but a man staying in Robin’s house presents unforeseen challenges. When paths unavoidably entangle for these three, hearts are on the line.

About the Author
Rose Chandler Johnson is known for her heartwarming, inspirational writing. In addition to works of God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments.
sweet contemporary, Christian fiction, Rose has written an award-winning devotional,

Connect with her on her devotional blog: www.writemomentswithgod.blogspot.com
Twitter: @rechanjo
Follow her on BookBub: bit.ly/2CezzAx

Refuge at Pine Lake by Rose Chandler Johnson

“…a tender story of healing and finding a place to belong. This sweet, Southern romance doesn’t disappoint.” –Liz Talley

Rose, what do you love about this new story?

What’s not to love? I love the intriguing storyline itself which involves an unlikely love-triangle, and I love the characters who make the story come to life. Any one of them could be someone you know. They each have real struggles and goals, strengths and weaknesses, and the reader sees them dealing with their lives and growing in the process. I’m not ready to say good-bye to these folks and you won’t be either. More Pine Haven romances will be forthcoming.

Tell us something about Caleb.

Caleb is a handsome and talented man who appears to be a prince of a man. Having earned a degree in electrical engineering, he none the less launched out on his own to pursue his dream and became Pine Lake’s top hunting and fishing guide. He’s a man’s man, yet he’s also one who opens doors for ladies and brings them flowers. He’s a keeper all right. Robin has her heart set on him for her future husband. Yet, as we all know, flaws rise to the surface in the course of relationship dynamics and … you’ll have to read the story to see how things work out.

Share one or two new things you learned while writing this book.

A vital component of our well-being is our connection with others. We need that connection to feel needed and valued as a human being. In an atmosphere of love, we’re free to be our best selves.  The story also highlighted for me the complex dynamics of relationships and the lovely way God works on our behalf if we’ll just let Him.

What do you hope readers will tell others about this story?

That it is heartwarming and a real pleasure to read. That it’s definitely a worthwhile story you won’t put down. You’ll love the characters and setting. Read it.