Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Daughter of Highland Hall

Life has been busy, but I now have the review of The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky for your enjoyment.


Daughter of Highland Hall
Carrie Turansky

What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor… what if it isn’t enough?
Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.

When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.

Buy Links
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads


The Daughter of Highland Hall is the second book in the Edwardian Brides Series by Carrie Turansky. It begins several months after book one with Katherine’s “coming out” into society, a declaration of her adult and marriageable status to all of London society. Kate dreams of marrying a rich heir by the end of that season, and with her Aunt Louisa’s help, her dream just might come true. But when a family member’s scandal is broadcasted across newspapers, Kate is shunned from society. But as Kate grows in faith, she begins to realize that wealth is not the most important thing to life and that Julia’s brother Jon might be just the man for her, despite his lack of title.
The Daughter of Highland Hall was a wonderful book. It portrayed the social customs of the early twentieth century while entwining a sweet romance with plenty of plot twists to keep the book moving and interesting. Not only did it show the wealth of time period but the poverty as well through the characters’ involvements in the free Daystar Clinic in East End, London.

The characters were beautiful and deep with unique personalities and problems. I enjoyed watching Kate and Jon grow in faith throughout the book. They also struggled and grew in relationships with each other and other people, especially Aunt Louisa who was very demanding and irritable.

I most enjoyed the spiritual aspects of The Daughter of Highland Hall. As Kate grew in faith, I was reminded of important principles of every Christian’s life. At one point, Kate realizes that she has spent her time completely focused on herself and finding a husband before the season’s end; Kate then grows to understand that these things are not the most important things in life. She changes her focus from herself to Christ and helping others. This really touched me. It helped me realign my focus as well.

In addition, the many deep conversations provided quotes and principles important to remember, most of which need the context to understand fully.  Because of these things, the book is not just a sweet fictional story; it contains principles that are applicable to daily life.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: King of Anavrea

I hope you enjoyed the interview last Saturday. When I joined the blog tour, I was given the opportunity to review read and review Rachel Rossano's book King of Anavrea.


King of Anavrea
Rachel Rossano

A reluctant king, a blind queen, and a marriage that sparked a rebellion... 

Ireic Theodoric, King of Anavrea, constantly battles with his council over who will run the country. When the council insists on a treaty with Sardmara, he agrees. However, the treaty quickly becomes an arranged marriage. Ireic offers up himself for the sake of Anavrea. But after he signs, no princess appears. 

Lirth Parnan, only daughter of the king of Sardmara, survives alone in a cold, damp tower room. Baron Tor kidnapped her in an attempt to control her father. No one came to claim her. She suspects her father considers her flawed beyond use in his political games. After five years of waiting, her hope of rescue wanes with her health. 

After Ireic fights his way into Lirth’s tower, he realizes the depths of her father’s deception. Instead of being an answer to his problems, Lirth creates new ones. The council will not accept her as queen, but Ireic has sworn an oath that he will marry her. His choice could cost him his throne, perhaps his life.

Book Trailer--  http://youtu.be/gsbTU8hv3QE
Buy Links:


King of Anavrea, Book 2 in the Theodoric Saga by Rachel Rossano, portrays a king, Ireic, who signs a treaty and promises to marry Princess Lirth as a condition of the treaty. Only, Lirth is not where her father promised she would be. In fact, she had been kidnapped several years before and her father had done nothing about it. Ireic then rescues her only to discover another obstacle—Lirth is blind. Will love overcome all obstacles and will Ireic’s kingdom accept a blind queen?
King of Anavrea is a sweet romance that I enjoyed. The story is lovely and filled with deep characters and faith. Lirth is filled with faith in Kurios, the god of this story world, despite all the pain she has had to endure through losing her sight and being kidnapped. Ireic’s faith, on the other hand, grows through the story as a result of his inability to do everything and the impact Lirth’s faith had on him. I appreciated that I could see the growth of the characters in this way and others.
King of Anavrea is better-written than book one, Crown of Anavrea, which shows growth in the writer. One thing I noticed is that there are no non-essential scenes, another mark of better writing. There “scenes” that are skipped which could have been included, but Rachel Rossano fills in the gaps beautifully nevertheless. Also, Rahcel Rossano uses foreshadowing well; she mentions a family manor before using it in the story instead of mentioning it as soon as the characters needed it.
The one problem I had with King of Anavrea is that the plotline and characters are very similar to the other books I have read by Rachel Rossanno, especially Crown of Anavrea. In both books in the Theodoric Saga, the characters slowly fall in love after an arranged marriage, there are political contentions, and several other similarities I cannot include lest I give away the entire plot. Don’t get me wrong, the books are not exactly the same, only similar. The plot and characters are sweet and I love them, I just want to see Rachel Rossano switching things up a little bit more.
Overall, I liked King of Anavrea and hope you will too.
I have received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blog Tour: King of Anavrea by Rachel Rossano

Hello! Today I am hosting Rachel Rossano's blog tour for King of Anavrea, Book 2 of the Theodoric Saga. Rachel's book Duty: A Novel of Rhynan is one of the first books I ever reviewed, and I quite enjoyed it. So I was extremely happy to be able to be a host in her blog tour and interview her. I hope you will enjoy everything!

Author Bio

Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virture set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.
Rachel Rossano loves to interact with readers.


Welcome, Rachel! Thank you for joining us on my blog Zerina Blossom. Please tell us a little about yourself. Hobbies? Furry friends? Tea or Coffee?
Thank you for inviting me. I am a happily married mother of three children. We are a homeschooling family so my life is very full of teaching and activities. Writing and book cover design are my hobbies/business that I fit around the rest of my life. No furry friends at the moment, though I love dogs. We had two before we had kids, a Chocolate Labrador and a Greyhound. I am definitely a tea drinker. I love a large mug of mint or raspberry tea with honey. I prefer caffeinated tea.
What is your day like?
My mornings are full of schoolwork and housework. My first writing opportunity is usually during my twins’ naptime in the afternoon. Evenings are full of family and church activities. Then after the kid’s bedtime, I spend a couple hours writing or designing book covers. Other book business things usually get stuck in spare moments throughout the day.
What is your favorite book, series, or author and why?
I have many favorites. I loved Kathy Tyer’s Firebird Trilogy. The concept of sacrifice despite the chance of death or lifelong consequences for the sake of the glory of God and His greater purpose fascinates me. All too often we lose sight of the eternal in our temporal struggles.
Very true. When did you first start writing?
I started writing in my early teens. A serious focus on writing well didn’t come until I was in my twenties when I set about pursuing publishing my books.
Is there someone (or something) who was instrumental in inspiring you to begin writing to publish?
My parents taught me to love reading, history, and storytelling. From those loves, I have grown into writing. Without that basis, I think my writing lack dimension and depth.
What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome to publish your first book?
My own foolishness and naivety definitely worked against me and publishing my first book, but that didn’t stop me from indie-publishing my second, third, and fourth. It also didn’t stop be from re-publishing my first book (the prequel to this one). Don’t let your own mistakes hold you back. Learn from them and move forward.
That is a good thing to remember. I am also glad of your success. Why did you choose to self-publish rather than go through the traditional publishing companies?
Most traditional publishing companies aren’t interested in publishing what I write, at least they weren’t when I started publishing my books. Non-magical non-allegorical Christian fantasy with a historical feel doesn’t really fit nicely into any particular genre and isn’t easy for them to market. Now that I have been indie-publishing for a while, I would be reluctant to go traditional, but I can’t say I would definitely say no to a good offer. I am enjoying my independence.
How much research do you generally have to do?
It depends on the book and the depth needed. I am working on the next book in my Novels of Rhynan series and researching medieval painting and art techniques since my heroine is going to be the daughter of a painter. I suspect my hero is going to breed horses so I am reading about that. However, for The King of Anavrea I didn’t do much research at all.
What inspired you to write The King of Anavrea?
After I finished writing The Crown of Anavrea, I felt badly for leaving Ireic with all the responsibilities of ruling Anavrea when he clearly didn’t want the job. Besides, I quite liked him. So despite declaring to my friends that I didn’t like writing politics, I spent a whole book writing about the politics of Anavrea.
What do you love best about The King of Anavrea?
Lirth’s internal beauty. She genuinely desires to do the Lord’s will in everything she does, even if it means she must die for Him. She doesn’t hate Him for taking her sight or letting her be a pawn in her father’s political games. Instead, she waits on him with a peace and patience I cannot claim to share. She is an example of how I would like to be. I am definitely not, though.
Which of your novels is your favorite and why?
Oh, that is a hard question. It is like choosing one’s favorite child. The answer is dangerous to consider, let alone answer. I would say my current is Living Sacrifice, an Epic Inspirational Fantasy.
In a country which values the seventh sons because of their power, Zezilia Ilar began life as the disappointment. She was born the only girl after six boys and he father never let her forget that her gender ruined all chances that she could restore the family honor by becoming the next Sept Son. Now at fifteen, she is poised to bring honor to her family by making a good marriage alliance until she catches the eye of the man who is about to become Sept Son because she is displaying an ability for telepathy and telekinetic movement unprecedented in a woman.
Hadrian Aleron was born the seventh son of a seventh son. As the most powerful talent in fifteen generations, he is more than qualified to assume the responsibilities of the job. On the other hand, many do not want him in the position. In a country devoted to the worship of a goddess, Hadrian has rejected the accepted religion. He follows the teaching of the Almighty. This alone causes for the foremost leader of the official religion to oppose Hadrian’s appointment.
Zezilia discovers that the Almighty has a greater purpose for her. Hadrian learns to lean on the Almighty to navigate a trying situation. As the story plays out they slowly realize the unacknowledged God of the universe has big plans for them, their families, and their country. I love the theme of faith in adversity and living a life of sacrifice to the Lord.
Living Sacrific sound really interesting. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write what you love. Be disciplined and systematic toward attaining your goals. Write and read constantly. Accept criticism when it is given, even when it isn’t spoken in love. You don’t have to take it, but it would be wise to evaluate it. Also, pursue God’s will, even when it means going outside your comfort zone.
Is there anything you would like to say?
Thank you so much for inviting me here and sharing the news of my new book. I love meeting new people (readers or authors). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I love talking about writing, reading, cover design, and just about anything book related.
Rachel, thank you for joining me on my blog and for writing such lovely books!
Speaking of which, here is her newest book, King of Anavrea. Enjoy!


A reluctant king, a blind queen, and a marriage that sparked a rebellion... 
Ireic Theodoric, King of Anavrea, constantly battles with his council over who will run the country. When the council insists on a treaty with Sardmara, he agrees. However, the treaty quickly becomes an arranged marriage. Ireic offers up himself for the sake of Anavrea. But after he signs, no princess appears. 
Lirth Parnan, only daughter of the king of Sardmara, survives alone in a cold, damp tower room. Baron Tor kidnapped her in an attempt to control her father. No one came to claim her. She suspects her father considers her flawed beyond use in his political games. After five years of waiting, her hope of rescue wanes with her health. 
After Ireic fights his way into Lirth’s tower, he realizes the depths of her father’s deception. Instead of being an answer to his problems, Lirth creates new ones. The council will not accept her as queen, but Ireic has sworn an oath that he will marry her. His choice could cost him his throne, perhaps his life.
Book Trailer Link
Buy Links

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: Captive in Iran

I thought I would share Captive in Iran, which I read and reviewed this summer as a part of the Tyndale House Publisher's summer reading program. Though I usually don't read non-fiction, I enjoyed this autobiography and hope you will too.


Captive in Iran
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh

Embark on a chilling journey inside one of the world’s darkest and most dangerous places: Evin, the notorious Tehran prison. Here, prisoners are routinely tortured, abused, and violated. Executions are frequent and sudden. But for two women imprisoned for their Christian faith—Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh—this hell on earth was a place of unlikely grace as they reflected God’s love and compassion to their fellow prisoners and guards. Against all odds, Evin would become the only church many of them had ever known.
In Captive in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh recount their 259 days in Evin. It’s an amazing story of unyielding faith—when denying God would have meant freedom. Of incredible support from strangers around the world who fought for the women’s release. And of bringing God’s light into one of the world’s darkest places—giving hope to those who had lost everything, and showing love to those in despair.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Goodreads

My Review

I enjoyed this book as a refreshing change from fiction. Much of the story gives an account of the women that Marziyeh and Maryam met during their stay in Evin and the temporary prison. The two women shared Christ with nearly everyone they met despite the harsh, discouraging conditions. They were already in prison for their beliefs; what more could be done to them? I appreciated the fact that Marziyeh and Maryam did not spend the book self-focused or complaining about the horrible prison conditions (although they certainly mentioned the conditions), but focus much of their story on the people they learned to love while in prison. This in itself is a testimony to their faith. Part of that focus is to show the world that something needs to be done about the fact that many of the women were in prison under false charges or because of their opposition to the government or Iran's Islamic beliefs. 
The first chapter or two were a little confusing because the story keeps jumping forward and backward in time. After that, there is no problem. I was also a little confused about whose perspective the story was written from many times. Before each change of perspective, there is a name written; however, the authors’ personalities were somewhat indistinguishable, so that there was no other way to tell who was “speaking”.
I loved this book. It helped me grow in faith and see the harsh realities of those living outside my comfy America. Would I truly stand up for my faith if faced with prison or torture? I hope everyone who reads this book will, if nothing else, pray for those in prison for their faith.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Story Behind the Name

So, perhaps some of you have been wondering why I named my blog Zerina Blossom. After all, what does it have to do with books, the main object of my blog posts? It sounds like a name of a flower, not to mention the background is filled with flowers.

Well, I would like to answer that question. You see, I am writing a book. Aside from the book I am writing, which I will tell you about another day, there are several other story ideas in the back of my mind, set in the same story-world. A main character in one of those stories is Princess Zerina. I love her name, and for some reason, I love it more when combined with the word Blossom--just because it sounds beautiful.

I would tell you a little more about Zerina. First of all, I discovered this website called Doll Divine in which I can create a model of a character complete with facial expression, hair and skin coloring, accessories, and clothing. The photo on the left is one such model, featuring Zerina and her counterpart, Roran.

Zerina is the daughter of a king, obviously. When she was a child, her older brother of four years doted on her and, when she asked, taught her the fencing skills he knew. Their parents hired the best tutors in the land to teach the royal children, and both Zerina and her brother became very good at fencing. When the princess was 13 years old, a war came to their land. Not to be outdone by her older brother, Zerina demanded to go to war with her father and brother. When she was denied, Zerina sneaked into the army anyway. Despite her fine skills, Zerina was not up to the challenge of the battle. Her brother found her in the heat of battle, defended her, and gave his life for her. Her brother was given a hero's burial while Zerina was shamed because of her disobedience and part she played in his death.

This is merely Zerina' backstory. Her real story picks up three years later, with a very determined princess and a country enslaved by the very same enemy as in the war Zerina attempted to fight.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Facebook and Twitter

I am happy to announce that I began a Facebook page for Zerina Blossom! Stop by and like my page--it is filled with books! https://www.facebook.com/ZerinaBlossom

You can also find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KopfEmily

Thank you!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Unexpected Bride Review

I am happy to give my review of Lena Goldfinch's The Unexpected Bride, coincidentally on it's release day. So, if you are interested in the book, be sure to click on one of my links!


What's a man to do when his father orders him a bride?

Rebecca Sullivan has been "Becky" all her life, a real hoyden. Her childhood sweetheart taught her to ride bareback and shoot a rifle, but then he chose a "perfect lady" for a wife--a real Southern belle, who's now expecting a baby. Heartbroken, Becky signs up to be a mail-order bride to a Seattle man, sight unseen. She resolves to squelch her hoydenish ways and become a "perfect lady" for her future husband.

If logging-operation owner Isaac Jessup had wanted a bride, he'd have chosen a sturdy frontier woman, not some fragile lady from back East. Ready to explain the mistake, honorable Isaac takes one look into Rebecca's vulnerable eyes...and knows he'll marry her, even though this delicate waif is obviously unsuited for wild Seattle.

Could an unexpected marriage be a match made in heaven?

This is Book One in the The Brides Series. The books can be read in any order.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Goodreads

My Review

The Unexpected Bride was a sweet historical romance by Lena Goldfinch. Brokenhearted with nowhere else to go, Becky signs up to become the mail order bride of Isaac, hoping against hope that her new romance will be as successful as the Biblical Isaac and Rebecca’s. But, in order to be the perfect bride, Becky has chosen to hide her true self. Will she ever gain the courage to show her husband her “hoydenish” true self?

I am having a very hard time writing this review. I always have trouble giving complements or defining what I like, but I will try. I couldn’t find anything I disliked about this book, but I have to say something in this review.

I certainly like this book. I was so engrossed in it from the start that I read it all in one night. The characters were unique and human-like, the plot entertaining. The setting was realistic and would have been beautiful if I could have seen it. I also appreciated the added drama in the climax. (I’ll leave you, readers, to figure that out. I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending).

The book’s message, self-confidence, is something that applies to everyone—everyone needs to see themselves as valuable and not be afraid to show their true selves. The best friends are the ones who love you no matter what, anyway, and that includes God, who created you perfect the way you are. Many different characters throughout the novel played a role in Becky’s growing self-confidence, which gives realism to the story. How many times in life do we learn everything we need to know at one time from one person?

The romance was sweet, just as the cover said. I love that the characters, Isaac and Rebecca, took time to get to know each other and work through their problems before truly falling in love. It makes the romance seem more realistic than love at first sight would have.

On the whole, The Unexpected Bride was beautiful.

I received a free ARC copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Time to Die Blog Hop

For the last few months, I have been seeing many blog posts about Nadine Brandes’ debut novel A Time to Die. I am really excited to read it! The premise—a teen who discovers she will die in a year and what she does to make her time worthwhile—interests me and, once I finally read the book, will challenge me. After watching this blog hop bounce around among many different blogs, I decided to join in by answering the promt:

If I had one year left to live, I would...

If I had only one year left to live, I would do several things.

First, I would spend as much time with my family as I could. They mean the world to me. I would go home and glue my little sister to myself, get to know my dad and brother better, sew with my grandmother, and watch movies and shop with my beautiful mom. I would also spend time with my close friends, my church family, and some of the people I have loved through the years—from the elderly ladies I have visited, to the little girls at church and daycare, to my many mentors, teachers, and friends. To me, they are just as much my family as those who are blood related.

Secondly, I would want to travel. Europe or Hawaii are places I have always wanted to go, but I might choose instead to visit my relatives in other states. They are my family too and I have made many wonderful memories with my various cousins, aunts, and uncles. However, some of them live so far away from me I have not seen them for ten years or more. Since they also live far away from each other, I might end up visiting half the states on the continent, accomplishing my desire to travel.

Thirdly, I would want to be involved in some kind of ministry. Presently, I am heading towards a career in children’s ministry; so it is already on my mind. I have spent many a summer in ministry and mission trips already, and I absolutely love it! So why not spend my last year working in ministry, especially since I would never have another chance? I would help with my church’s VBS, possibly go back to the summer camp I have spent many wonderful summers volunteering at, be a leader in my Awana group, and, truly, just show Christ’s love to the many people God has put in my life.

Finally, one thing that would fulfill all my desires would be to fly to Papua New Guinea (assuming I suddenly had unlimited funds), an island country off the coast of Australia, and spend a few months ministering to the Hewa tribe with my missionary uncle, aunt, and cousin.

So, any thoughts? Comments? What would you do if you had only one year to live?

Book Blurb

A Time to Die
Nadine Brandes

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

This is the first book in the Out of Time Series.

Amazon, Goodreads, Enclave Publishing

Contact the Author


  • Website: http://nadinebrandes.com/

  • About the book: www.nadinebrandes.com/my-books/

  • Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NadineBrandesAuthor

  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/NadineBrandes

  • Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Nadine_Brandes

  • Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nadinebrandes/

  • Rafflecopter Giveaway!

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    Blog Hop Schedule

    9.03.14 – Nadine Brandes
    9.08.14 – Ashlee Willis
    9.11.14 – Caitlin Schesser
    9.15.14 – Jennette Mbewe
    9.17.14 – Heather Fitzgerald
    9.19.14 – Kristen Stieffel
    9.22.14 – Rebekah Gyger
    9.25.14 – Lydia Thomas
    9.26.14 – Ashley Olson
    9.27.14 – Angel Roman
    9.28.14 – Rosalie Valentine
    9.29.14 – Aubrei Crooke-Adams
    9.30.14 - Sarah Grimm
    10.01.14 – Jon Del Arroz
    10.02.14 – Amy Brandes
    10.03.14 -- Emily Kopf
    10.04.14 – Kathrese McKee
    10.07.14 – Karen DeBlieck
    10.09.14 – Bethany Jennings
    10.10.14 – Angie Brashear
    10.13.14 – Adam Collings
    10.15.14 – Bree Courtney
    10.20.14 – Gretchen Engel
    10.24.14 – JC Morrows
    10.30.14 – Lisa Gedfries