2019 Coffee Table Reads: YA Fantasy and Historical Romance

Hello sweet readers,

It’s 2019 and a marvelous host of books are out there waiting to be discovered. So let me get right to it and share the latest reads to grace my coffee table and bear coffee stains.



Mark of the Raven 

Oh. My. Goodness. I adored this first of a two book series. Lady Selene has the ability to enter dreams at will. As the lady of a fallen house, she is trained to discover secrets and assassinate if need be. But when her task involves entering the mind of a young nobleman, Damien, Selene finds that she can’t carry out the tasks, even if it means endangering her nation and her very life.

Morgan L. Busse writes such a clean, fast paced fantasy! I could hardly tear myself away from the pages. The Christian elements are subtle and yet so very clear. The romance . . . the romance is just lovely. It’s delicate and takes a reasonable amount of time to simmer. Snap this beauty up. It’s under a dollar on Amazon. Mark of the Raven is one of my absolute favorite young adult reads. I can hardly wait for the sequel. You can purchase here

The Wrath and the Dawn

My second read includes The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I believe it’s under five dollars for a paperback. It is a secular, young adult fantasy mirroring Arabian Nights. Scharzad enters into an unwanted marriage with the hopes of taking down an evil young ruler, who quite possibly has one of the worst reputations ever. Remember the premise of Arabian Nights? Well, I was curious to see how this novel would play out. Can Scharzad survive another day through her story telling and find justice for all the women slain as brides to the Caliph? Or will she discover that all is not as it seems within a treacherous palace?  I’d recommend this one with some caution. It does have some mature themes for teen readers. The prose is exquisite. I felt like I was transported to another time and place. Shazi is no wilting maiden and wrestles with revenge versus redemption. You can purchase here.

A Bound Heart

My third read and likely to be one of my favorites of 2019, includes the latest offering by Laura Frantz. Her newest release, A Bound Heart, is tender and heart breaking all at once. Laura Frantz writes some of the most beautiful love stories out there. When Lark is accused of terrible crimes and sent to the New World as an indentured servant, she needs to carve out a new life far from the comfort of her Scottish island. When the one man she could never have, Laird Magnus MacDougall, is sent on the same journey, she discovers all hope is not lost and love may still have a second chance. Swoon worthy romance. Marvelous Christian themes. I couldn’t give this book a higher recommendation. You’ll find links to purchase here. Oh, did I mention this book is my book club pick of the month? I can’t wait to see what my fellow readers think of this beauty of a book.


2019: The Year of Intense Writing

It’s 2019 and a fresh start to the year! New books. New writing projects. A list of New Year resolutions. One of my goals is to complete three novels this year; two young adult fantasies and an ancient Rome historical novel. That’s 220,000 words and I’m on a roll. The historical novel is in edit phase and the young adult novels are in first draft phase. In other words, I’m living on caffeine and chocolate with very little sleep. I’ll be sharing more on these projects in the near future!

Also, Five Poisoned Apples is free on kindle unlimited! You can get it here.  The outpouring of love from readers has been amazing! Stay tuned to hear about some fun parties and giveaways coming up soon.

How about you? What books are on your TBR pile?







Not your Grandmother’s Snow White Tale


Hello, sweet readers,

I have some fun news to share! Raven’s Heir and The Five Poisoned Apple collection are available for preorder on Amazon!

I can’t wait to introduce you to Damien and Kara. Snow White happens to be one of my favorite fairy-tale retellings. In Raven’s Heir, a young princess flees her evil stepmother and finds refuge with a band of rebels and spies, including one man she thought she would never see again. It’s a story of hope, even when traveling through the darkest of valleys.

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As much as I adore Disney and classic fairytales, Snow White is not an easy fairy-tale to work with. After all, who can forget the glorified Disney movie where the sweet girl lies in a glass coffin for everyone to see? Or Snow White’s frantic escape as hideous trees snag at her dress? Or Snow White singing while cleaning after seven dirty men? Yeah, that’s not going to happen at my house. Or how about the wicked middle-age queen plotting murder, simply because she cannot accept a wrinkle or two? In the historical and Disney versions, does Snow White ever really achieve agency and take charge despite the wild, dangerous world around her? Or is she saved simply by the kiss of a stranger?

The tale has plenty of darkness and the macabre as seen in the Grimm brothers’ 1812 version. A huntsman is charged with removing a young girl’s heart and an evil queen gets her comeuppance when she is forced (by the prince, no less) to dance in red-hot iron shoes at Snow White’s wedding. Ouch! Not for those of a faint constitution. Just how exactly does one balance the darkness with light in such a story?

Depending on your opinion, there’s plenty to love . . . or hate about this fairytale. For me, the idea of friends looking out for each other, the stranger who extends help with nothing to gain, and the determination to hold onto hope no matter how dark the situation, make the tale of Snow White worth keeping. Beauty and power are not the end goals. Friendship, loyalty, and courage are.

The Five Poisoned Apples authors of Rooglewood Press have worked to create five unique tellings that are quite simply  — not your grandmother’s Snow White. This is a young adult collection for ages 13 and up. There are a few chills and a dash of romance, but it’s suitable for most ages. Fans of Melanie Dickerson or Anne Elisabeth Stengl will find a series to enjoy!

And without further ado, I present Five Poisoned Apples!  A TALE SO DARK AND LOVELY.

Falling Snow: The strange dark circus is the only life she’s ever known—but is Snow a performer or a prisoner?  Skye Hoffert (You can check out her blog here).

Raven’s Heir: Taking her in could risk the lives of his rebel band—but how can Damien leave the young woman at the huntsman’s mercy?

The Fairest One: Her people look for the prophesied Fairest One—but can Livna find the courage to step out of the shadows and save her nation? Cortney Manning (You can check out her blog here).

Red as Blood: He’s been hired to assassinate the princess, no questions asked—but how can Zaig take the life of one so young, so innocent? Maddie Morrow (You can check out her blog here).

Snowbird and the Red Slippers: She longs to be worthy of the scholarship that changed her life—but can Jeong Hayan survive the bitter rivalry of a prestigious New York dance school? Rachael Wallen. (You can check out her blog here). And Tumblr here.

Experience the haunting beauty of Snow White in five thrilling retellings.



How about you? Do share about some of your favorite fairytales in the comments below. And don’t forget, Rooglewood Press is holding a Facebook Release party on December 1st from 7 to 10 pm, EST. Prizes and book giveaways galore. We would love to see you there!

NaNoWriMo 2018 and Five Poisoned Apples



NaNoWriMo 2018

It’s that time of year. It’s when thousands of people sweat bullets and wonder if they will ever make it out alive. Nope, it’s not a Thanksgiving Macy’s clearance sale. Welcome to the wild month of NaNoWriMo. I swore I wouldn’t attempt the writing marathon again after an exhausting year. What sane person commits to a full-length novel in the span of thirty days when Christmas shopping looms and pumpkin pies need to be baked?

Well, this girl :). And it went swimmingly well. I got up at three in the morning with the dog and the family fast asleep. My Keurig chugged merrily along, pumping hazelnut coffee cup after cup. It seemed success would come bright and early. I had a lovely 20,000 words within the first week! And then reality hit, and this mama burned out.

I do believe the key to a successful writing run is to outline before the month of November. This is not the time to employ “panster” methods. Second, go slow and steady. After all, the hare doesn’t win the race. It’s the slow plodding tortoise who manages to take one step at a time.

Finally, forget the word count. Have fun and enjoy the process and your writing buddies. Connect with a group of writers who are likely experiencing all the joy and frustration you are. All to say, “I wrote a novel!” And that is a big deal. Currently, my project is at 40,000 words with one week to spare and plenty of time to bake those cookies.

So what am I writing this month? I can’t say too much, but for those curious . . .  my WIP is a young adult fantasy where the female lead battles chronic illness but has a backbone of steel. She matches wits against a wicked young king and resolves to see justice return to her beloved country.

Those of you who follow this blog know I adore young adult fantasy. The females are usually the stronger variety in this genre. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how strength comes in many facets that go far beyond a woman wielding a sword or leading a rebellion. My mother was a breast cancer survivor and I always marveled at her strength of spirit when facing chemotherapy or radiation or surgery. I also greatly admire characters who find their strength in God, particularly when life becomes hard. Zecharia 4:6 is such a special verse for me and my mother.

 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of Hosts.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for more of these characters in ya literature.

Parties and Giveaways!

And in other news . . . drum roll, please! Rooglewood Press is hosting a special release facebook party on December 1st, Saturday from 7 to 10pm EST. With giveaways! Oh yes, there will be copies of Five Poisoned Apples to win and plenty of other goodies (such as the black feather ink set down below) for those who attend! I don’t know about you, but I love parties. And I love free stuff. Consider yourself cordially invited. We would love to see you there.

Five Poisoned Apples Release Party




On My Coffee Table: Five YA Current Reads with Coffee Stains​

Books Galore!

There is something marvelous about fall. Spice pumpkin coffee with cream, glittering frost covering the ground, and books! Lots of books! This is my reading season and I love it. Give me a cozy blanket, a fireplace (ok, a fake one for the TV), and a stack of novels as high as my coffee table, and I’m content. Over the next few months, I’d love to share with you some of my current reads obtaining coffee rings. I like to think those rings are badges of honor.


What’s new on my coffee table this month? A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan, Common by Laura Lucking, Melanie Dickerson’s Magnolia Summer, Mary Weber’s The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, and Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s classic, Mara, Daughter of the Nile. It’s quite the assortment of YA including; fairytale myths, southern Zorro dramas, and a futuristic gamer/mystery. Meanwhile, I’ve been dipping into Fawkes by Nadine Brandes. In addition to YA lit, I adore a good historical and have found another favorite author. Connilyn Cossette’s Cities of Refuge series has drama, romance, plenty of adventure, and a message of faith that always resonates with me.

I know. I’m terrible. I rarely stick with one novel and like to pick at them as if at a smorgasbord. So far, one of my most anticipated reads has been A Touch of Gold (Blink publishers). I was not disappointed. That cover is gorgeous! It has creepy pirates and a golden girl attempting to save her father, the infamous King Midas. I especially enjoyed the idea of overcoming addiction (the gold). This is not a faith-based YA read, but it is clean. I read it in a day.

Mary Weber’s The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (Thomas Nelson publishers) left me a little hesitant over some aspects. I loved the futuristic gaming aspect and the rugged leads, particularly Sofi, who has been abandoned by her CEO mother. When Sofi’s brother is kidnapped after an attempted assassination (he’s a famous gamer not unlike The Hunger Games), she resolves to save him. The love between a young brother and sister was deeply touching and I appreciated Mary delving into tough topics such as human trafficking. It’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

A little caution for those more sensitive — I wasn’t keen on the language peppered throughout the novel. The swearing was too much for me and distracted from a compelling story. This is a clean read but surprisingly low on faith. I do believe the book that could have benefited from it and I’ll be reading the sequel to see if the characters evolve. Regardless, this is a series readers will find a great deal to discuss and chew on. Mary is such a strong writer and it’s difficult to put her books down.

Melanie Dickerson’s Magnolia Summer (GraceFaith Press) is a sweet Southern with undertones of Zorro. It’s a gutsy novel and her first self-published book after a successful fairytale retelling run. It deals with tough topics as racism in the old South. I enjoyed the character of Truett, who attempts to find justice as a vigilante within a sleepy old town hiding terrible secrets. Celia, on the other hand, is a prickly character and it’s difficult to relate to her. That said, Melanie Dickerson is one of those authors who rarely disappoints and my bookshelves are loaded with her books. This is a clean romance with a strong faith message of trust, honesty, and doing the right thing. I’ll certainly be purchasing the next books in this Southern series. Plus . . . that cover!

I’ll keep you posted on the status of the other novels in my stack. It’s going to be a stellar month of reading!

What am I looking for in YA?

What am I looking for in my reading lists? Diversity. A diversity of characters, gender, beliefs, personality, and yes, culture. I want authentic people even if the situations are a bit over the top.  Give me romance, but keep it clean. Keep it healthy and real.

More importantly, give me a character who wrestles with the big questions. As a Christian YA reader and writer, I’m ready for characters to dive into the deeper issues and come up gasping for air. If we claim that faith is important to us — the most important thing — then let’s see it resonate with our leads and watch them grow in believable ways.

Editing Raven’s Heir

As for edits on Raven’s Heir (Rooglewood Press), I received the author galley a few days ago and have been scouring for the little details that make such a difference in the final book. Thankfully, I discovered Star Buck’s Cold Brew to get me through those edits! And (me whispering), I read the other novellas in the Five Poisoned Apples collection. Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t wait for you all to read them! Plenty of romance and thrills galore.

I couldn’t resist including a little picture of the Raven’s Heir galley. Isn’t it pretty? It’s coming this December! Just in time for the winter snow. Here’s a little snippet in case you were curious. I’m excited for you to meet Kara and Damien in this Snow White retelling. You can sneak a better look on my Pinterest Raven’s Heir board.

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Raven’s Heir is a historical fantasy with romance and a few chills. A young queen flees for her life with a band of rebels including one man she thought she would never see again. Throw in a wicked regent and a huntsman who can track anyone or anything . . . and well, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself!

That’s all for my reading updates. Join with me every month for more coffee table talk on books, characters, and writing. I’d love to know what you are reading this fall! Share your favorite books in the comments below.



















Sweet Surprises


This has been the week of marvelous surprises. First of all, I received my title page for my upcoming novella, Raven’s Heir. Artist HSJ Williams created this and it fits the adventure and danger of the novella perfectly. You can see more of her work at http://hsjwilliams.wordpress.com.

And the second surprise? A lovely mug from my publisher, Rooglewood Press, celebrating the finish of edits. Isn’t it pretty? My kids figured roses were better than coffee in it. Hmmm. I don’t know. Coffee is pretty spectacular in any mug.



And finally, I received a fantastic brown package meaning only one thing. Book mail! My book club decided on Jodi Hedlund’s A Worthy Rebel for the month of September. We’ve been diving into young adult fantasy and romance, particularly of the sweeter, cleaner, inspirational reads. This book is swoon-worthy and exciting! I couldn’t be happier with this month’s pick. It’s available on Amazon for purchase.